John Wesley’s Sermons

by Andrea Elizabeth

I am doing my second test recording for Librivox. The first I picked from the option of John Wesley’s Sermon, On the Omnipresence of God, which I found inspiring and Orthodox. The second is on The Rich Man and Lazarus. Here his Protestantism, and possible dig at Calvinism is apparent.

He does not believe in the efficacy of a Purgatory experience,

“See the near resemblance between the ancient and the modern purgatory! Only in the ancient, the heathen purgatory, both fire, water, and air, were employed in expiating sin, and purifying the soul; whereas in the mystic purgatory, fire alone is supposed sufficient both to purge and expiate. Vain hope! No suffering, but that of Christ, has any power to expiate sin; and no fire, but that of love, can purify the soul, either in time or in eternity.”

Firstly he assumes the ancients (he quoted Virgil’s Aeneid), must be wrong about everything. I think they had some things right, but did not have complete revelation. Secondly, who says the fire isn’t love? The Orthodox say it is. Later he says his concern for his relatives is sort of a leftover effect of human suffering that will be gone at the final judgment.

Here’s the possible dig at Calvinism in his use of “irresistible force”:

“11. “Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the Prophets: let them hear them.” (Luke 16:29.) “And he said, Nay, father Abraham; but if one went to them from the dead, they will repent.” Who would not be of the same opinion? Might not any one reasonably suppose that a message solemnly delivered by one that came from the dead must have an irresistible force? Who would not think, “I myself could not possibly withstand such a preacher of repentance?””

But maybe not because he also criticizes the rich man for seeking the intercession of Saints,

““And he cried, and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me.” — Thou fool! what can Abraham do? What can any creature, yea, all the creation do, to break the bars of the bottomless pit? Whoever would escape from the place of torment, let him cry to God, the Father of mercy! Nay, but the time is past! Justice now takes place, and rejoices over mercy! — “And send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame!” How exceeding modest a request is this! He does not say, “That he may take me out of this flame.” He does not ask, “That he may bring me a cup of water, or as much as he might hold in the palm of his hand;” but barely, “That he may dip” were it but “the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.” No! It cannot be! No mercy can enter within the shades of hell!”

Like I say, I don’t think the ancients were as wrong as the increasingly stripped down religion that is promoted nowadays.

By the way, it takes a while for readings to be published on their website, so I can’t share it yet.