SANCTIFICATION AND THE NATURE OF MAN
The State of Natural Man Determined by Original Sin.
The key to the understanding of any interpretation of Christianity must be the interpreter's idea of the nature of man. What did Wesley think of man? This is the first question we must try to answer in analysing his view of sanctification in relation to his doctrine of salvation as a whole. The data will be found in his attitude to natural man and to the doctrine of prevenient grace.
Attention will first be focussed on his conception of sin in order to discover how it can be said to determine his view of salvation. In particular I shall try to establish the relation between sin as guilt and sin as an inherent force, between sin conceived on the one hand as an objective factor determining the life of man and on the other as an inherent subjective trait or substance. In his conception of salvation we shall find an analogous correlation, here between justification, which to Wesley means liberation from the guilt of sin and the recovery of God's favour, and sanctification, which to him denotes liberation from the inherent power and root of sin and the restoration of God's image. It would seem, then, that an investigation of his conception of sin should throw some light on the place and purport of sanctification in his theology.
In his attitude to natural man Wesley stands in marked opposition to the shallow rationalizing of Deism. In this matter his profound sense of sin links him up with the Reformation and with later orthodoxy.1 Some of his remarks point in this direction even before the full crystallization, in 1738, of the Reformed2 trend in his doctrine of justification. He finds, for instance, that the natural man is dead to God.3 The humility attending the circumcision of the heart "convinces us, that in our best estate we are, of ourselves, all sin and vanity; that confusion, and ignorance, and error reign over our understanding; that unreasonable, earthly, sensual, devilish passions usurp authority over our will; in a word, that there is no whole part in our soul, that all the foundations of our nature are out of course."4 Even at this period stress is laid on the corrupt state of natural man. True, the attitude is not very clearly defined as yet and his sense of sin was to become still more profound.5
This deeper insight into man's predicament outside grace is naturally bound up with the new knowledge of justification by faith. Indeed Wesley regards the former as an essential condition of the latter. At one with the Reformed outlook, he insists here on the total corruption of natural man, grounding the tenet on the doctrine of original sin. "Wherewithal then," he says in the discourse which is the first testimony of the new alignment in his doctrine of justification, "shall a sinful man atone for any the least of his sins? With his own works? No. Were they ever so many or holy, they are not his own, but God's. But indeed they are all unholy and sinful themselves, so that every one of them needs a fresh atonement. Only corrupt fruit grows on a corrupt tree." And man's heart "is altogether corrupt and abominable."6 Later on he expands this line of thought. He says he is "firmly persuaded, that every man of the offspring of Adam is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil; that this corruption of our nature, in every person born into the world, deserves God's wrath and damnation; that therefore, if ever we receive the remission of our sins, and are accounted righteous before God, it must be only for the merit of Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings of any kind."7 In his Minutes for 1744 he explains how it is that Adam's sin can be imputed to the whole human race: "In Adam all die; that is, (1.) Our bodies then became mortal. (2.) Our souls died; that is, were disunited from God. And hence, (3.) We are all born with a sinful, devilish nature. By reason whereof, (4.) We are children of wrath, liable to death eternal. (Rom. v. 18; Ephes. ii. 3.)."8 Accordingly, he denies that natural man has free will or any power of his own to do good. His only hope is the free grace of God.9
Wesley's earlier evangelical sermons reveal the same general attitude. It is based on three main assumptions: natural man is totally corrupt; this corruption is the result of original sin; man can be justified only through God's grace in Christ. The Fall and its consequences are fundamental in his doctrine of justification: "This therefore, is the general ground of the whole doctrine of justification. By the sin of the first Adam, who was not only the father, but likewise the representative, of us all, we all fell short of the favour of God; we all became children of wrath; or, as the Apostle expresses it, 'judgement came upon all men to condemnation'. Even so, by the sacrifice for sin made by the second Adam, as the representative of us all, God is so far reconciled to all the world, that He hath given them a new covenant; the plain condition whereof being once fulfilled, 'there is no more condemnation' for us, but 'we are justified freely by His grace, through the redemption, that is in Jesus Christ'."10 The righteousness of faith, he says, presupposes that the man to whom it is given has been deprived of the image of God and been visited by His wrath, and that through sin, which has killed his soul, he now hastens to bodily and everlasting death.11 "Is it not then the very foolishness of folly, for fallen man to seek life by this righteousness? for man, who was 'shapen in wickedness, and in sin did his mother conceive him'? man, who is, by nature, all 'earthly, sensual, devilish'; altogether 'corrupt and abominable'; in whom, till he find grace, 'dwelleth no good thing'; nay, who cannot of himself think one good thought; who is indeed all sin, a mere lump of ungodliness, and who commits sin in every breath he draws; whose actual transgressions, in word and deed, are more in number than the hairs of his head? What stupidity, what senselessness, must it be for such an unclean, guilty, helpless worm as this, to dream of seeking acceptance by his own righteousness, of living by 'the righteousness which is of the law'!"12 Whereas it is foolish in such circumstances to rely on the righteousness of the law it is wise to submit to the righteousness which comes from faith. The first step on the path, the renunciation of personal righteousness, is nothing more nor less than to act in accordance with the true nature of things: to confess with heart and lips one's true condition: that one came into the world with a corrupt, sinful nature and that consequently one is prone to all that is evil and averse from all that is good, that like one's heart all one's actions too are ungodly and that therefore one deserves nothing but the wrath of God and the due reward of sin, which is death.13
Natural man is consistently represented as thoroughly corrupt. His spiritual qualities are thoroughly corrupt. The innate corruption in his heart and innermost nature is described as an evil root from which spring both inward and outward sin.14 The man who has been awakened becomes aware that his heart "is all sin, 'deceitful above all things, desperately wicked'; that it is altogether corrupt and abominable, more than it is possible for tongue to express; that there dwelleth therein no good thing, but unrighteousness and ungodliness only; every motion thereof, every temper and thought, being only evil continually."15 His first repentance is accompanied by overwhelming conviction of "the loathsome leprosy of sin, which he brought with him from his mother's womb, which overspreads his whole soul, and totally corrupts every power and faculty thereof." He becomes increasingly aware of the evil inclinations, which have their root in his evil nature.16 Original, inbred sin, from which all other sins derive, is compared to a sour yeast which to some extent permeates all the movements of the soul and taints words, deeds, and actions: "To consider this a little more particularly: how wide do these parent-sins extend, from which all the rest derive their being; that carnal mind which is enmity against God, pride of heart, self-will, and love of the world! Can we fix any bounds to them? Do they not diffuse themselves through all our thoughts, and mingle with all our tempers? Are they not the leaven which leavens, more or less, the whole mass of our affections? May we not, on a close and faithful examination of ourselves, perceive these roots of bitterness continually springing up, infecting all our words and tainting all our actions?"17
The thought of this inward and outward evil, characteristic of the condition of natural man, leads on to the thought of guilt. God's wrath envelops the sinner. The punishment he merits is eternal damnation.18 The idea of sin as a force inherent in man gives place to the idea of the guilt that man thus incurs with God. An objective and judicial forms side by side with the subjective and psychological view. When the mind turns to the relation to God the sins that fetter man are seen as debts. In a commentary on the fifth petition of the Lord's Prayer Wesley writes: " these, considered with regard to ourselves are chains of iron and fetters of brass. They are wounds wherewith the world, the flesh, and the devil have gashed and mangled us all over. They are diseases that drink up our blood and spirits, that bring us down to the chambers of the grave. But, considered as they are here, with regard to God, they are debts immense and numberless. Well, therefore, seeing we have nothing to pay, may we cry unto Him, that He would frankly forgive us all!"'19
This attitude to man persists. By nature man is utterly depraved20, and his depravity is the result of the Fall21. The Doctrine of Original Sin, published in 1757, shows more clearly than any of Wesley's other works how firmly his idea of sin was grounded on that doctrine. Here, in marked opposition to such a rationalistic interpretation of Scripture as that of Dr. John Taylor of Norwich, who urged the rejection of the old orthodox view, Wesley staunchly defends the doctrine of original sin. He considers the veiled deism of Taylor's attack on the doctrine even more dangerous than Middleton's and Bolingbroke's open criticism of the Bible.22 Indeed, he regarded any attack on the doctrine as an attack on the very foundation of revealed religion, whether Jewish or Christian.23 In controversion of a doctrine that idealized natural man24, he maintains his complete corruption the essential distinction between Christianity and heathenism25.
Fundamentally orthodox features are manifest in the picture of natural man drawn in The Doctrine of Original Sin and in contemporary and later sermons. The description of the primitive state and of the Fall brings out the great difference between Adam's original, and the present life of man. Before the Fall man lived in a state of perfection.26 He was made in the image of God, and he enjoyed God's favour. The imago Dei was threefold, First, there was the natural image, through which man was furnished with immortality, understanding, free will, and "various affections."27 He was also immune to pain.28 Second, with respect to man as a governing being, there was the political image. This gave him the power of ruling over the other, lower creatures, But man's original perfection was most pronounced of all in his moral image, which meant that he was created in righteousness and true holiness. Just as God is love, so man at first was imbued with love. His whole being bore its imprint. It was the guiding principle of his disposition, thoughts, words, and deeds. Like the Creator, the creature was righteous, merciful, true, and pure. He was innocent of all sin.29 The image of God embraced the intellectual function of man as well. He had true knowledge of God and His work and lived on the intellectual plane proper to him, "in the right state of his intellectual powers."30
The Fall completely reversed the conditions of human life. Primitive perfection was replaced by total corruption of man's nature. The Fall was made possible because Adam misused his free will. Although holy and wise like his Maker, he is nevertheless regarded as having been capable of falling.31 He preferred to be guided by his own will instead of by his Creator's; he wanted to seek happiness not in God but in the world and in the work of his own hands.32 He rebelled against his Creator, the sovereign King of Heaven, whom he should have obeyed.33 He therefore suffered spiritual, temporal and eternal death.34 Both God's favour and the imago Dei in which he was created were now utterly lost.35 He lost too his knowledge of God and his love for Him, becoming unholy and unhappy.36 Once the image of God, he was now stamped with the image of the devil: with pride and self-will. And he sank "into sensual appetites and desires, the image of the beasts that perish."37
Wesley, then, ascribes the inbred sin which now pervades mankind to Adam's primal sin. In this he is distinctly and strikingly at variance with the beliefs of the Enlightenment. In Wesley's opinion the corruption and evil habits which prevail and have prevailed among men cannot be explained in terms of bad example and bad upbringing. Such an explanation offers no solution of why good and wise parents did not give their children the same education in virtue and wisdom as they received themselves. Where have such children found a bad example? And conversely, why has the wisdom of later generations been powerless to remedy the errors of their fathers?38 Wesley's answer is because evil must precede bad nurture39, and he goes on to cite the ancient biblical dogma that Adam's sin is the cause of the fall of the race. If we look more closely into Wesley's views on the connection between the Fall and the corruption of man since, we shall find him keeping close to St. Augustine in interpreting St. Paul's doctrine of original sin. Adam is regarded as the first ancestor and representative of mankind.40 His disobedience made all men sinners, for they were all "in the Loins of their first Parent, the common Head and Representative of them all."41 Everyone sinned in Adam.42 The fall of the primogenitor was the fall of the whole race.
We can now ask: what exactly did the term 'original sin' mean to Wesley? The Fall, he believed, had deprived man of his original perfection and occasioned total corruption of human nature. Consequently, Adam's descendants are spiritually dead at birth and utterly devoid of the righteousness and holiness in which he himself was created.43 Sometimes original sin is described as an inclination to evil44, or a condition in which all the faculties of man, understanding and will and affections, have been perverted45. But he can use stronger language, defining it as total corruption of the whole of human nature, a corruption chiefly manifested in atheism and idolatry, pride, self-will, and love of the world.46
In determining the nature of original sin Wesley does not take it to mean simply the corruption inherent in man. To him it is also guilt. An objective and judicial is thus conjoined with a subjective and psychological conception. Since the Fall man has not merely come under the dominion of sin: by his very nature he has also become the child of wrath.47 He is subject to guilt and punishment, the consequences of sinful actions.48 This punishment is seen in the suffering and death inseparable from human life as it now is, the suffering and death which are the outcome of Adam's sin.49 Since all suffering, which is the consequence of sin, is punishment, it follows that punishment has been visited upon Adam's posterity because of his sin.50 Because of his transgression all men have been punished with death.51 Moreover, all are guilty, for all through their fellowship with Adam as the representative of the race, share in his trespass. And so the guilt and punishment of that trespass are also imputed to them.52 They too are subject to the wrath and the curse of God. Thus, even before the individual has acted in any way whatsoever, he has incurred the wrath of God and stands a sinner before Him. Before God even children are not innocent, but "involved in the guilt of Adam's sin; otherwise death, the punishment denounced against that sin, could not be inflicted upon them."53
In agreement with the orthodox view original sin is considered to involve liability to punishment, reatus, in the sense of damnation. That is, it involves eternal as well as spiritual and temporal death.54 Even through birth man deserves damnation. This conception of the consequences in guilt and punishment of original sin is made possible particularly by the way in which Wesley conceives Adam's relationship to humanity. Here Wesley evinces an affinity with Calvinist federalism. Adam is presented, we have seen, as the representative as well as the primogenitor of mankind.55 When he fell, therefore, the guilt occasioned by his sin could be imputed to the whole race.
Yet there is another aspect of Wesley's collective view in which his line of thought diverges from the orthodox; in which instead he adopts a position influenced by Moravianism and closely allied to the Arminian view of election. Although man is subject to guilt and punishment because of his fellowship with Adam, he is nevertheless absolved from original sin because of the atonement of Christ.56 On this point the orthodox outlook is modified by the introduction of a different attitude, viz., that man is after all not damned eternally by the very fact of original sin.57
Wesley never diverged from his belief in the corruption of natural man. His statements vary in emphasis but there is no departure in principle. The same fundamental assumption confronts us everywhere in his writings: original sin is the prime factor in human nature. All men are "'shapen in wickedness, and in sin did our mother conceive us'." The nature of man is "altogether corrupt in every power and faculty."58 We are all "by nature, 'dead in sin', and, consequently, 'children of wrath'."59 The present condition of man is distinguished by his complete inability to apprehend the invisible world. He can see nothing of God, he cannot hear His voice, he can savour nothing of His goodness or of the powers of the world to come; nor is he conscious of the workings of the Holy Spirit in his heart.60
Stress has already been laid on the fact that this doctrine of original sin is of fundamental importance in Wesley's conception of salvation. The Fall is regarded as the necessary condition of the work of Christ. Wesley says it was the reason of Christ's coming.61 The two events are regarded as analogous. The depravation through Adam corresponds to the restoration through Christ, although the work of the latter surpasses that of the former.62 Just as Adam represents mankind in his disobedience, Christ is our representative in his work of atonement. Just as in Adam all men died, they are all brought to life again in Christ. The new life through Christ is paralleled by death through Adam, although the gift and the grace from the former outweigh the Fall.63 Given the Fall and inbred sin, atonement and regeneration are seen to be necessary. Thus Wesley's attitude to original sin reveals a marked soteriological element in his theology and emphasizes the idea of grace. Since the whole of mankind is involved in guilt and punishment and since human nature has been utterly perverted, man has no chance at all of saving himself by his own efforts. Instead he is referred exclusively to God's grace in Christ. In this way the doctrine of original sin safeguards the idea of grace. The doctrine is necessarily linked up with the essential purpose of the Gospel, which he declared was to humble mankind and to ascribe the whole of his salvation to God's free grace instead of to man's free will.64
The theological position outlined above is close to the orthodox outlook, but in Wesley, we also find another, divergent train of thought, which we must now unravel. As well as the collective view of the doctrine of original sin, he employs an individualistic approach. This is implicit in the importance which he attached, in company with the Pietists and Moravians, to personal experience. What he does is to conjoin a subjective attitude with the objective one. Objective facts and circumstances must be not merely comprehended by man but actually experienced. So we find a pronounced interest in psychological factors in his theology. We find it, for instance, in his conception of original sin. Like the Moravians, he puts the chief emphasis on the awareness of sin rather than on sin as an objective fact. "Feel," he says, "that your carnal mind is enmity against God."65 In first repentance, man "has a deep sense" of the loathsome leprosy of sin which has been with him since birth, and he "sees more and more of the evil tempers" that spring from that evil root.66 The process of salvation in the individual begins when he becomes conscious of his sinfulness, with "conviction of sin." Therefore he is admonished thus: "Sinner, awake! Know thyself! Know and feel, that thou wert 'shapen in wickedness', and that 'in sin did thy mother conceive thee'; and that thou thyself hast been heaping sin upon sin, ever since thou couldest discern good from evil!"67 The individual's awareness of his corrupt nature is considered an absolute prerequisite of his faith in Christ, and this in its turn is a condition for his love of God and his neighbour.68 No one can come to Christ as his Saviour, "till he knows and feels himself a lost sinner." None "will come to the 'Physician' but 'they that are sick', and are thoroughly sensible of it; that are deeply convinced of their sinful tempers, as well as sinful words and actions." And "these tempers, they well know, were antecedent to their choice, and came into the world with them."69 He maintains further that experience corroborates the doctrine of original sin in Scripture.70 Such consciousness in the individual of his corruption is pneumatic experience, the work of the Holy Spirit.71
Awareness of original sin is not only awareness of it as inherent corruption: it embraces experience of the attendant guilt. Consciousness of this accompanies first repentance. Guilt is always present to the mind of the penitent sinner. He "knows the punishment he has deserved, were it only on account of his carnal mind, the entire, universal corruption of his nature: how much more, on account of all his evil desires and thoughts, of all his sinful words and actions!"72 The deep conviction of his sinfulness, which is necessary if man is to arrive at true faith in Christ must also include guilt. Such profound consciousness of sin and conviction of guilt is impossible unless he knows his nature is corrupt.73 Thus he must be conscious not only of his inherent sinfulness but also of the guilt that attends it.74
In turning to the problem of the guilt attaching to original sin we find Wesley taking up a particularly individualistic position at variance with the orthodox collective doctrine and in near affinity with the Enlightenment; this is the outcome of his Arminian strain. It is true, as we have seen, that original sin involves guilt, but Wesley regards this guilt as imputed, not personal.75 Original sin involves guilt and punishment, which apply to all the children of Adam, yet nevertheless they are not implicated in quite the same way as Adam himself was. Although in a sense all men are burdened with guilt, Adam's descendants cannot feel his sin to be theirs in quite the same way as Adam and Eve felt it.76 Accordingly, as original sin cannot be ascribed to later generations the same way as to Adam, his guilt cannot affect them to the same extent as it would if his sin had been their own personal sin.77 Thus, alongside original guilt, we have the idea of personal guilt deriving from the actual sins of the individual. It is this latter idea that determines the conception of guilt in the full sense.78 Adam was capable of choice and personal action. It follows that guilt could fall upon him in full measure. But his descendants are in a different position: since they cannot choose for themselves, their guilt is only hereditary guilt. It is a guilt which is certainly imputed to them, but it is not personal. The distinction is seen in the punitive consequences. Original sin is not thought in itself to determine man's final destiny. No one, Wesley thinks, is finally damned unless he chooses to be so.79 It is true that the imputed guilt of original sin involves the temporal and spiritual death of man. But as such it does not lead to eternal death.80 That is incurred only as a result of approving the promptings of original sin. If an individual is punished with eternal death, therefore, it is the result of his own actions.81
Wesley is trying to reconcile an individualistic approach with the collective view: to combine the idea of personal responsibility and personal cooperation, where man's eternal destiny is at stake, with a conception of the situation of natural man which emphasizes the idea of saving grace. On the one hand, he maintains that through Adam all mankind are implicated in sin and guilt. Only thus can God's work in Christ be represented as the necessary cause of salvation. He is at pains to emphasize the complete inability of man to attain salvation by himself. It can only come to him through faith. In keeping with this, he maintains that sin has been transmitted from Adam to his children; and here he is interested solely in the fact that this is so, not in how it is so.82 The reality of original sin as personal sin too, is shown, we have seen, in the fact that death comes to us all as punishment. Such suffering is a punishment of sin. It would not be inflicted if we were not guilty. Thus we must be considered guilty before God. We share Adam's sin and guilt. On the other hand, the participation in Adam's sin and guilt which original sin involves does not amount to guilt in the full sense. For this the personal consent of the individual is also necessary.
The individualism of this qualification is a consequence of Wesley's Arminian view of election. By subscribing to the latter he rejects the Calvinist doctrine of reprobation and makes predestination conditional. It is dependent on personal choice. He who chooses life shall live he who chooses death shall die.83 God's relation to man is governed by His decision that he who believes shall be saved, while he who does not shall suffer damnation.84 This being so, Wesley has to repudiate the notion that original sin, which attends the individual through no personal fault of his own, should in itself spell eternal death for him. If it did, man would be lost without having had an opportunity of choosing. Instead, Wesley decided that eternal death must depend upon individual responsibility.85 If the individual is damned therefore, he must himself be responsible for his damnation. It is not the will of God that man should be damned, for God's desire that he should be saved is universal. True, original sin and personal sin are very intimately connected. If man allows himself to be swayed by original sin, he ipso facto chooses to retain it. In this sense original sin certainly does lead to eternal death. Yet it does not necessarily do so, for such a necessity would conflict with God's desire for universal salvation. Not God, then, but man himself, is chargeable with eternal damnation. Eternal death can only be incurred by personal participation in sin, by actual sin.
But in what sense can man, whose nature Wesley considers totally corrupt, be said to have the power of real choice? It is not merely that natural man cannot do good, he cannot will it either. His freedom of choice is but freedom to do evil.86 How then in his actions can man withhold response to the evil tendency dictated by original sin? Wesley finds the answer in an argument which is related to his tenet of conditional election and God's desire of universal salvation. Men need not transgress, by virtue of the grace God offers to them all. Thus original sin does not necessarily lead to actual sin. If man takes advantage of God's grace he can conquer the inclination to evil. In other words Wesley finds opportunity of choice on the foundation of grace. If, despite this privilege, man prefers to follow the inclination to evil of original sin and thus commits personal sin, he must be regarded as being himself responsible, for his transgression.87
Original Sin and Specific Sins. Personal Sin.
Wesley distinguishes between original sin and its manifestations in specific sins. Yet, as we have seen, the connection between the two is intimate and organic. Original sin as innate corruption of the innermost nature of man is compared to an evil root bearing like branches and like fruits.88 The specific sins which proceed from original sin are compared to evil sprouts proceeding from the same evil root.89
The personal sins, the actual transgressions, are divided into two categories: inward sins and outward sins, There is also a third type which can be distinguished from inward sins and treated as a separate category, namely sins of omission.90 These can be defined as negative inward sins. In the Christian life various forms of negligence can divide man from God, such as neglecting to punish one's brother for his sins, failing to rebuke those who sin in one's presence, letting slip any means of grace, and omitting to pray in public, in the family, and in private.91 Wesley regards these sins of omission as signs of spiritual sluggishness, of shirking battle.92 Inward sins of the other kind are manifested in such transgressions as pride, wrath, and foolish desire. The last shows itself in inordinate love of something other than God and what tends to him, in seeking happiness in the creation instead of in God.93 Thus it expresses the reverse of love to God.
Inward sin grows like a root of bitterness and darkens the soul of the man who was previously in a state of grace.94 Outward sin is defined as the final phase in a sort of process of sin. It begins when man yields to temptation and acquiesces in it, declining to remain in the state of grace by which God wishes to preserve him. After inward sin, at least after some neglect on the part of man, and after the formation and expansion in the soul of an evil desire, faith and love disappear. And thus man commits outward sin. The stages in this development are described in the following way: "You see the unquestionable progress from grace to sin: Thus it goes on from step to step. (1.) The divine seed of loving, conquering faith, remains in him that is born of God. 'He keepeth himself', by the grace of God, and 'cannot commit sin'. (2.) A temptation arises; whether from the world, the flesh, or the devil, it matters not. (3.) The Spirit of God gives him warning that sin is near, and bids him more abundantly watch unto prayer. (4.) He gives way, in some degree, to the temptation, which now begins to grow pleasing to him. (5.) The Holy Spirit is grieved; his faith is, weakened; and his love of God grows cold. (6.) The Spirit reproves him more sharply, and saith, 'This is the way; walk thou in it'. (7.) He turns away from the painful voice of God, and listens to the pleasing voice of the tempter. (8.) Evil desire begins and spreads in his soul, till faith and love vanish away: He is then capable of committing outward sin, the power of the Lord being departed from him."95 An inward sin on the part of man is thought to precede the loss of faith. Yet before man actually commits voluntary outward sin, faith and love are already lost. We note, however, that in describing these stages in the process of sin, by which man falls from grace, Wesley attributes the responsibility to the individual. The emphasis is laid on man's obedience, although an obedience grounded on saving grace.
We have already seen that the specific sins derive from the sinfulness in man's nature. This corruption is regarded as the seed of all other sins. It is the cause of all specific sins both in our hearts and in our lives.96 Wesley's empirical predilection, however, leads him to pay particular attention to the specific sins; it is to these, the inward sins of the heart and the outward sins of action, that he gives most space.97
The Conceptions of Sin and Salvation.
I have referred above to the fact that Wesley regards original sin not only as guilt but also as inherent corruption. And like sin in general it is seen from both an objective and a subjective angle. He himself describes these aspects as two relations: on the one hand sin in its relation to God, and on the other, sin in its relation to man himself.98 Further, since Wesley's doctrine of justification is concerned with sin as guilt, whereas sanctification is concerned with sin as an inherent factor, the relation between the objective and subjective aspects of his conception of sin will find a parallel in the relation between justification (or forgiveness) and sanctification (or new birth and subsequent sanctification) in his doctrine of salvation.
The emphasis laid on sin as guilt has already been noted. Just as forgiveness from the causal point of view is considered of prime importance in relation to sanctification, so his view of guilt can be said to occupy a corresponding position in relation to inherent sin. This is implicit in the function attributed to forgiveness in his doctrine of salvation. Forgiveness, as a factor in atonement, is the source of salvation. "Pardoning love," we read, "is still at the root of all. He who was offended is now reconciled."99 Through deliverance from guilt, then, man is thought to gain freedom from the domination of inherent sin. The latter follows from the former; "And, if we attain the former, the latter follows of course: If our debts are forgiven, the chains fall off our hands. As soon as ever through the free grace of God in Christ, we receive 'forgiveness of sins', we receive likewise 'a lot among those which are sanctified, by faith which is in him'. Sin has lost its power: It has no dominion ,over those who are under grace, that is, in favour with God."100
It is true that here the conception of sin centres round the idea of guilt, but all the same sin is usually represented in Wesley as inherent corruption. As such it corresponds to sanctification in his doctrine of salvation. He is fond of describing sin as an injury, as corruption, as disease. Original sin he pictures as leprosy infecting mankind101, and the sins proceeding from it as 'wounds' and 'diseases'102. As sin is thus regarded as an illness, it follows that salvation will be seen primarily from a subjective-medical rather than an objective-judicial angle. Salvation is called a healing: man, is cured of his inherent sinfulness as of a disease. With sin seen in this way as the background of salvation and the motivation of its indispensability, it is natural that the idea of sanctification should come to the fore. "And who might not say, upon this supposition, 'I cannot see that we have much need of Christianity'? Nay, not any at all; for 'they that are whole have no need of a Physician'; and the Christian Revelation speaks of nothing else but the great 'Physician' of our souls; nor can Christian Philosophy, whatever be thought of the Pagan, be more properly defined than in Plato's word: It is Θεραπεία Ψυχής, 'the only true method of healing a distempered soul'. But what need of this, if we are in perfect health? If we are not diseased, we do not want a cure. If we are not sick, why should we seek for a medicine to heal our sickness? What room is there to talk of our being renewed in 'knowledge' or 'holiness, after the image wherein we were created', if we never have lost that image? if we are as knowing and holy now, nay, far more so, than Adam was immediately after his creation ?"103 No one, as we have already seen in another context, can come to Christ, the Physician, before he is conscious of his disease.104 Moreover, this knowledge in man of the depravity of his nature is the extreme subjective condition of his sanctification. It is regarded as the first step in the process of salvation, in which the goal is sanctification: "The power of godliness consists in the love of God and man; this is heavenly and substantial religion. But no man can possibly 'love his neighbour as himself', till he loves God; and no man can possibly love God, till he truly believes in Christ; and no man truly believes in Christ, till he is deeply convinced of his own sinfulness, guiltiness, and helplessness. But this no man ever was, neither can be, who does not know he has a corrupt nature."105
The importance attached by Wesley to the inherent subjective view of sin is clearly shown by his readiness to treat original sin exclusively from this angle.106 The basic corruption of natural man is again portrayed as a disease, salvation as a restoration to health. A conception of religion which accepts such a view of sin must be determined by the idea of sanctification. And this is the case with Wesley. He writes of the true nature of the Christian religion: "It is Θεραπεία Ψυχής — God's method of healing a soul which is thus diseased. Hereby the great Physician of souls applies medicines to heal this sickness; to restore human nature, totally corrupted in all its faculties. God heals all our Atheism by knowledge of Himself, and of Jesus Christ whom he hath sent; by giving us faith, a divine evidence and conviction of God, and of the things of God, — in particular, of this important truth, 'Christ loved me, and gave himself for me'. By repentance and lowliness of heart, the deadly disease of pride is healed; that of self-will by resignation, a meek and thankful submission to the will of God; and for the love of the world in all its branches, the love of God is the sovereign remedy. Now, this is properly religion, 'faith' thus, 'working by love': working the genuine meek humility, entire deadness to the world, with a loving, thankful acquiscense in, and conformity to, the whole will and word of God."107 The great purpose of religion is said to be to renew man's heart in the image of God, to make good the total loss of righteousness and holiness. Man, thoroughly corrupt by nature, will by grace be completely transformed: "Ye know, that he who seeth what is in man gives a far different account both of nature and grace, of our fall and our recovery. Ye know that the great end of religion is, to renew our hearts in the image of God, to repair that total loss of righteousness and true holiness which we sustained by the sin of our first parent. Ye know that all religion which does not answer this end, all that stops short of this, the renewal of our soul in the image of God, after the likeness of Him that created it, is no other than a poor farce, and a mere mockery of God, to the destruction of our own soul ... By nature ye are wholly corrupted. By grace ye shall be wholly renewed."108 Man must learn the nature of his disease and how it can be cured.109
Inherent sin, then, can be regarded as an illness which must be cured.110 Accordingly, Christ is thought of as a physician in his work for mankind. Any suffering he causes man is in order to heal him.111
But the healing lies in liberation from objective guilt as well as from inherent sin: "Here is a remedy provided for all our guilt: He 'bore all our sins in his body on the tree'. And 'if any one have sinned, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous'. And here is a remedy for all our disease, all the corruption of our nature. For God hath also, through the intercession of His Son, given us his Holy Spirit, to renew us both 'in knowledge', in his natural image; — opening the eyes of our understanding, and enlightening us with all such knowledge as is requisite to our pleasing God; — and also in his moral image, namely, 'righteousness and true holiness'."112 The medical approach, to which Wesley seems to attach increasing importance, can be applied, we see, not only to inherent sin but also to objective guilt. That it could — even though only a few instances can be cited — is evidence of the great influence exercised by the idea of sanctification on his doctrine of salvation as a whole.
Thus the idea of inherent sin is not merely subsidiary to the idea of objective guilt in Wesley: on the contrary, it attracts the major interest. A subjective-medical view prevails over an objective-judicial attitude in his conception of salvation. In this way sin is organically incorporated in a theology primarily determined by the idea of sanctification. An orthodox outlook, or rather an orthodoxy modified by Moravianism, is thus crossed by a line, of thought reminiscent of Pietism and William Law and practical mysticism, and the latter gains the ascendancy.113
Prevenient Grace and Salvation.
Wesley believes that in natural man the image of God was completely lost. This applies to the moral image in which Adam was created and which constituted the essence of his relation to God. It is chiefly this that Wesley has in mind. On the other hand man's natural and political image have not been entirely lost, although, in these respects too he has undergone severe depravation. Consequently man has retained his character as a personal being and certain of the features incidental to this character. He still has "the spiritual nature and immortality of the soul" and also "a degree of dominion over the creatures".114 Like God, his Creator, but unlike material things, which are totally and essentially passive, man has a spiritual nature and is self-moving.115 He has fallen but still retains "an immaterial principle, a spiritual nature, endued with understanding, and affections, and a degree of liberty; of a self-moving, yes, and self-governing power," without which he would be a mere machine or stock or stone.116 In this respect Wesley finds a certain continuity between man's life before and after the Fall. Yet it is a circumstance which in no way alters his idea of natural man. From the point of view of salvation natural man has no resources of his own whatsoever. He is sinful through and through, has no knowledge of God and no power to turn to him of his own free will.
There is another idea, however, which we have touched on above, but which at this point calls for closer scrutiny: the idea of prevenient grace.
Wesley maintains that natural man is totally corrupt, but he also maintains that God gives to all men his prevenient grace. It is a doctrine that appears only in passing and seldom in the years immediately after 1738. Wesley was then so absorbed by the distinction between natural man, dead in sin, and man vitalized by faith, that all his attention was devoted instead to the saving grace operative in justification and the New Birth. With time, however, prevenient grace acquires increasing importance and concurrently his divergence from the Calvinistic doctrine of election and his acceptance of Arminianism. becomes more evident.117
The idea of prevenient grace is in Wesley logically bound up with the Arminian view of election. Although natural man is devoid of free will, all men have been endowed by supernatural intervention with a measure of free will and some power of discernment: "Natural free-will, in the present state of mankind, I do not understand: I only assert, that there is a measure of free-will supernaturally restored to every man, together with that supernatural light which 'enlightens every man that cometh into the world'."118 The liberty thus given to man is a liberty founded on grace. Wesley believes that God redeems man as a freely acting being. Grace is not irresistible. Man can either cooperate with it or oppose it. As soon as God's work has begun in the souls of men they may become "'workers together with Him'."119 In the last resort the doctrine is based on his conception of God. Such free will harmonizes better to Wesley's mind with God's wisdom, justice, and mercy than the reprobation which he says is the alternative.120 It is only through the grace of God that man becomes capable of turning to Christ and believing in Him.121 Prevenient grace, which in varying degrees is given to everyone, makes it possible for man, despite his natural condition, to seek God.122
Prevenient grace confers some discernment on everyone although natural man as such lacks all knowledge of God. This discernment comes to man through "what is vulgarly termed natural Conscience." At least this throws some light on "the general Lines of Good and Evil."123 Here Wesley concurs with St. Paul's statement in the Epistle to the Romans that even heathens are not without knowledge of God and His law. Yet he does not regard such discernment as something emanating from natural man's own resources, a consequence of the survival after the Fall of a certain residue of the imago Dei, but instead as deriving from prevenient grace.124 When we are told of the heathens that although they have not the law they nevertheless do by nature what the law prescribes, we must not understand that they could do so merely by their own natural strength. Despite their ignorance of the written law, God works in them all the same by supernatural grace. "It is certain," Wesley writes, "they had not the written law; but had they no supernatural assistance? Is it not one God 'who works in' us and in them, 'both to will and to do'?"125 Thus even the heathens know the spirit, though not the letter of the law. This discernment is not considered a purely natural form of percipience and consequently cannot be a premise for a theologia naturalis; yet neither is it regarded as a saving knowledge in the strict sense. The measure of light conferred on all men by prevenient grace does not involve any knowledge of the main tenets of the Christian faith: atonement through Christ and man's transformation by the Divine Spirit in the image of God in which he was made.126 Everyone, however, has "some discernment of the difference between moral good and evil, with an approbation of the one, and disapprobation of the other, by an inward monitor, excusing or accusing." Also, "sometimes at least," they have "some desire to please God, as well as some light concerning what does really please him, and some convictions when they are sensible of displeasing him."127
The light given to all men by prevenient grace is particularly associated with conscience and its workings. But Wesley sees conscience, not as something "natural" but as an expression of prevenient grace.128 It comprises "all the drawings of the Father the desires after God, which, if we yield to them, increase more and more; all that light wherewith the Son of God 'enlighteneth every one that cometh into the world' — showing every man 'to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with his God'; all the convictions which His Spirit, from time to time, works in every child of man — although it is true, the generality of men stifle them as soon as possible, and after a while forget, or at least deny, that they ever had them at all."129 In a sermon published towards the end of his life, in which Wesley makes conscience his main theme, he writes: "This faculty seems to be what is usually meant by those who speak of natural conscience; an expression frequently found in some of our best authors, but yet not strictly just. For though in one sense it may be termed natural, because it is found in all men; yet, properly speaking, it is not natural, but a supernatural gift of God, above, all his natural endowments. No; it is not nature, but the Son of God, that is 'the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world'. So that we may say to every human creature, 'He', not nature, 'hath showed thee, 0 man, what is good'. And it is his Spirit who giveth thee an inward check, who causeth thee to feel uneasy, when thou walkest in any instance contrary to the light which he hath given thee."130 Although everyone by nature is dead in sin, no one is in a purely natural state. No one is quite without God's grace, unless he has stifled it. To Wesley, therefore, conscience is a manifestation of prevenient grace: "For allowing that all the souls of man are dead in sin by nature, this excuses none, seeing there is no man that is in a state of mere nature; there is no man, unless he has quenched the Spirit, that is wholly void of the grace of God. No man living is entirely destitute of what is vulgarly called natural conscience. But this is not natural: It is more properly termed, preventing grace. Every man has a greater or less measure of this, which waiteth not for the call of man. Every one has, sooner or later, good desires; although the generality of men stifle them before they can strike deep root; or produce any considerable fruit. Every one has some measure of that light, some faint glimmering ray, which, sooner or later, more or less, enlightens every man that cometh into the world. And every one, unless he be one of the small number whose conscience is seared as with a hot iron, feels more or less uneasy when he acts contrary to the light of his own conscience. So that no man sins because he has not grace, but because he does not use the grace which he hath."131
It is clear that Wesley cannot reconcile the idea of a knowledge of God arising from the human resources of natural man with his doctrine of original sin. The insight accorded by conscience acquires therefore the character of supernatural grace. It is true that the supernatural character may be obscured by his endeavour to contend that this grace is given to all. In any case the distinction between so-called natural conscience and conscience as a manifestation of Divine grace is not always clearly marked.132 Yet he rarely fails to draw attention to it. It is particularly emphasized when prevenient grace is expressly described as saving grace, although not in the same sense as justifying grace. It is with prevenient grace that salvation in the widest sense begins.133 This grace has its source in Christ's work of atonement.134
The combination of this view of prevenient grace with Wesley's doctrine of original sin necessarily had a twofold result in his doctrine of salvation. Firstly, man becomes entirely dependent upon God for salvation. God is the only possible Saviour of mankind, for in his natural state man is totally corrupt and dead in sin. Thus the collective view in the doctrine of original sin emphasizes the idea of grace in the conception of salvation. There is no possibility of such a thing as human merit. Secondly, the individualistic approach and the idea of prevenient grace on which this view is based lay stress on man's personal responsibility. Prevenient grace, which is offered to all and enables everyone to turn to God, makes man himself responsible for his own damnation. What Wesley is doing is to try to harmonize an objective with a subjective attitude. It is clear that the latter, a consequence of the change from an unconditional to a conditional view of election, will easily lead to synergistic tendencies.
The Conception of Man in the Twenty-five Articles of 1784.
At this point, bearing in mind Wesley's view of man, we pass on to his abridgement of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Anglican Church, which he published in 1784 to provide American Methodism with basic doctrine.135
In the Thirty-nine Articles, the Article of original sin, influenced to some extent by the second Article of the Augsburg Confession, reads as follows: "Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam, (as the Pelagians do vainly talk;) but it is the fault and corruption of the Nature of every man, that naturally is ingendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea in them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh, called in the Greek phronema sarkos, which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire, of the flesh, is not subject to the Law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth confess, that concupiscense and lust hath of itself the nature of sin."136 In Wesley's abridgement the whole of the second half of this Article, together with one or two expressions mentioned above, is omitted. He also makes a small addition. It now runs: "Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and of his own nature inclined to evil, and that continually."137 For the Article on free will, however, which, according to Wheeler, in its first part follows the Württemberg Confession, and in its second goes back to St. Augustine138, Wesley uses the same formulation as in the Thirty-nine Articles: "The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and works, to faith, and calling upon God; wherefore we have no power to do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will."139
There can be no possible doubt that Wesley's position here, in line with that of the Thirty-nine Articles, is strikingly at variance with Pelagianism. But how exactly are we to interpret the view of man's state after the Fall which he advances?
The statement in the Article on original sin that "man is very far gone from original righteousness," can obviously be taken as a, departure from the Reformed outlook. It can be understood as an expression of the view by which the Fall, while bringing a depravatio naturae, did not involve a tota depravatio. On this point both Pelagianism and pure Calvinism are rejected. The Thirty-nine Articles take a middle path between the two. There is further corroboration for this conclusion, one also drawn by Bicknell140, in the fact that the definitive version replaced an earlier, purely Calvinistic one141. At all events we are certainly confronted by a modification of Calvinism here.142
We have seen, however, that Wesley regarded the corruption of natural man as a total depravity. And he never abandoned this view. Thus his subscription to the definition of the state of natural man in the Thirty-nine Articles need not be regarded as a departure from a view he is otherwise consistent in maintaining. In all probability his concurrence should be interpreted in accordance with that view.
Dogmatic disagreement has been adduced to explain Wesley's drastic abridgement of the Article on original sin. Wheeler holds that he omitted the word 'fault', if this connotes the idea of original guilt, because he did not share such a view. Wheeler also finds dogmatic reasons for Wesley's omission of the whole of the second part of the Article. Wesley, Wheeler thinks, cannot subscribe to the statement that even at birth all men deserve the wrath and condemnation of God.143 From what has been said above, however, it will be seen that Wheeler has not taken sufficient note of the scope and importance of sin in Wesley's conception of man. We saw that to Wesley original sin also takes on the character of guilt. In the collective view natural man is certainly thought to deserve damnation even at birth. Yet, as with the Moravians, Christ's atonement has absolved him from it.144 Further, as a result of his individualistic tendency, original sin, as merely imputed, does not assume the same character of guilt as personal sin, man's own actual sin. Even if Wesley did omit the word 'fault' and the latter half of the Article because of some divergence of opinion145, as indeed seems probable, Wheeler cannot be said to have given a clear account of the nature of the divergence. He has failed to realize Wesley's close affinity with orthodoxy. Moreover, the omitted lines contain a point on which Wesley is in full agreement: he too thought concupiscence a sin.146
Wesley naturally incorporated the Article on free will in unaltered form. It agrees with his own idea of the part played by prevenient grace in salvation. Accompanying the idea of prevenient grace is also that of cooperating grace.147 The fact that this conception could be reconciled with his doctrine of original sin, is due, as we have seen, to his view of prevenient grace as a supernatural grace, and not as an attribute issuing from the resources with which man was endowed at the creation.
The same characteristic feature in his conception of sin is also stressed in more recent studies. See the chapter entitled The Infinite Distance of Sin in CELL, The Rediscovery of John Wesley, pp. 273-296. Cell asserts that Wesley is in the direct line of descent of St. Paul, St. Augustine, Luther, Calvin (p. 275). The affinity with central Lutheran ideas is also indicated in v. EICKEN, Rechtfertigung und Heiligung bei Wesley, pp. 8-11, and in SCOTT, John Wesleys Lehre von der Heiligung, p. 78 ff. See also BETT, The Spirit of Methodism, p. 153. In his doctrines of corruption through sin and of grace as the means of salvation, Bett finds that Wesley follows Calvin. The divergence lay in the limited redemption of the latter. Cf. also LERCH, Heil und Heiligung bei John Wesley, p. 37 ff. See further Introduction, pp. 7, 11 ff.
5 See further the following sermons delivered in the same period: On Grieving the Holy Spirit, 1733, The Works of John Wesley, VII, p. 491; The Trouble and Rest of Good Men, 1735, The Works of John Wesley, VII, p. 365 f.; On the Holy Spirit, 1736, The Works of John Wesley, VII, pp. 509-512.
9 Minutes, 1745, The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 285: "Q. 23. Wherein may we come to the very edge of Calvinism? A. (1.) In ascribing all good to the free grace of God. (2.) In denying all natural free-will, and all power antecedent to grace. And, (3.) In excluding all merit from man; even for what he has or does by the grace of God."
16 The Sermon on the Mount: 1, 1748, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 323. On man as born in sin, also ib., p. 326 f., The Sermon on the Mount: XIII, 1750, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, II, p. 34.
18 See The Way to the Kingdom, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 157; The Spirit of Bondage and of Adoption, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 187 f.; The Sermon on the Mount: I, 1748, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 324. On first repentance a man has his guilt always before him. He knows what punishment he has deserved "were it only on account of his carnal mind, the entire, universal corruption of his nature: how much more, on account of all his evil desires and thoughts, of all his sinful words and actions!" He cannot for a moment doubt that the most trifling of these deserves the damnation of Hell. See also ib., p. 326 f.
20 See the interpretation of Rom. vi. 6 in Notes, 1755. The expression Our old man is commented on as follows: "Coeval with our Being, and as old as the Fall; our evil Nature; a strong and beautiful Expression for that entire Depravity and Corruption, which by Nature spreads itself over the whole Man, leaving no Part uninfected." See also the commentary on John i. 14: "Grace and truth — We are all by Nature Liars and Children of Wrath, to whom both Grace and Truth are unknown. But we are made Partakers of them, when we are accepted thro' the Beloved."
22 The Doctrine of Original Sin, 1757, Preface, The Works of John Wesley, IX, p. 193. Wesley's treatise is an answer to John Taylor's book on original sin. For Taylor, whose unitarianism undermined the orthodox outlook, see HUNT, Religious Thought in England, III, p. 254 ff. For the two other theologians, Wesley's contemporaries, the latitudinarian Dr. Conyers Middleton and the deist Lord Bolingbroke with his radical biblical criticism, see ib., III, pp. 60-70 and 190-194 respectively.
25 See ib., The Works of John Wesley, VI, p. 63: "But here is the shibboleth: Is man by nature filled with all manner of evil? Is he void of all good? Is he wholly fallen? Is his soul totally corrupted? Or, to come back to the text, is 'every imagination of the thoughts of his heart only evil continually'? Allow this, and you are so far a Christian. Deny it, and you are but an Heathen still."
In a letter to Taylor dated 3 July 1759, the year before, Wesley had spoken similarly of the fundamental importance of original sin in Christianity. Here his main point is that the controversy between them concerns "de re, if ever there was one in this world; indeed, concerning a thing of the highest importance — nay, all the things that concern our eternal peace." "It is," he continues, "Christianity or heathenism! for, take away the scriptural doctrine of Redemption or Justification, and that of the New Birth, the beginning of sanctification, or (which amounts to the same) explain them as you do, suitably to your doctrine of Original Sin, and what is Christianity better than heathenism? wherein, save in rectifying some of our notions, has the religion of St. Paul any pre-eminence over that of Socrates or Epictetus?" He concludes this letter with the following words: "Either I or you mistake the whole of Christianity from the beginning to the end! Either my scheme or yours is as contrary to the scriptural as the Koran is. Is it mine, or yours? Yours has gone through all England and made numerous converts. I attack it from end to end. Let all England judge whether it can be defended or not!" The Letters of John Wesley, IV, p. 67 f.
35 The sermon What Is Man?, 1788, The Works of John Wesley, VII, p. 230; sermon The Heavenly Treasure in Earthen Vessels, 1790, The Works of John Wesley, VII, p. 344. Wesley does not think the natural and political image of man is totally lost, but he considers this irrelevant to salvation. See below p. 44 f.
46 See sermon on Original Sin, 1760, The Works of John Wesley, VI, p. 63, where the doctrine of original sin is said to be the fundamental difference between Christianity and paganism: "But still as none of them were apprized of the fall of man, so none of them knew of his total corruption. They knew not that all men were empty of all good, and filled with all manner of evil. They were wholly ignorant of the entire depravation of the whole human nature, of every man born into the world, in every faculty of his soul, not so much by those particular vices which reign in particular persons, as by the general flood of Atheism and idolatry, of pride, self -will, and love of the world."
According to Wesley it is these sins in particular that express the essence of inherent sin. Cf. The Doctrine of Original Sin, 1757, The Works of John Wesley, IX, p. 433, where the root of sin is said to be: pride, self-will, un-belief, heart-idolatry. In the sermon on The Deceitfulness of Man's Heart, written in 1790, self-will, pride, love of the world, independence of God, Atheism and idolatry are specified as the origin of human evil. The Works of John Wesley, VII, p. 337 ff.
53 Ib., p. 316. See also ib., p. 313, where we read that by nature the child is. "a 'child of wrath', under the guilt and power of sin." Cf. p. 438, a quotation stating that even infants must be reborn. Just as they had to be circumcised in the age of the Old Testament, they must now be baptized at Christ's commandment.
54 Cf. passages already quoted in Minutes 1744, The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 277; Justification by Faith, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 1, p. 118 f.; The Righteousness of Faith, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 1, p. 141. See further the sermon on Justification by Faith, p. 117 f.: "Thus 'by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin. And so death passed upon all men', as being contained in him who was the common father and representative of us all. Thus, 'through the offence of one', all are dead, dead to God, dead in sin, dwelling in a corruptible mortal body, shortly to be dissolved, and under the sentence of death eternal. For as, 'by one man's disobedience', all 'were made sinners'; so, by that offence of one, 'judgment came upon all men to condemnation'. (Rom. v. 12, & c.)" See The Sermon on the Mount: 1, 1748, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 324; The doctrine of Original Sin, 1757, p. 264: "By punishment I mean evil, suffered on account of sin. And are we not obnoxious to any evil on account of Adam's sin?" Ib., p. 291: "They suppose Adam to have been created holy and wise, like his Creator; and yet capable of falling from it. They suppose farther, that through temptations, of which we cannot possibly judge, he did fall from that state; and that hereby he brought pain, labour, and sorrow on himself and all his posterity; together with death, not only temporal, but spiritual, and (without the grace of God) eternal. And it must be confessed, that not only a few Divines, but the whole body of Christians in all ages, did suppose this, till after seventeen hundred years a sweet-tongered orator arose, not only more enlightened than silly Adam, but than any of his wise posterity, and declared that the whole supposition was folly, nonsense, inconsistency, and blasphemy!" See further ib., p. 303.
In A Treatise on Baptism, written 1756, Wesley has allowed the orthodox opinion to remain unaltered: "That we are all born under the guilt of Adam's sin, and that all sin deserves eternal misery, was the unanimous sense of the ancient Church, as it is expressed in the Ninth Article of our own." The Works of John Wesley, X, p. 190. By reason of the guilt of original sin children are "children of wrath, and liable to eternal damnation." Ib., p. 193. In his revision of The Shorter Catechism Wesley also allows the orthodox Calvinistic view to remain unqualified. See MACDONALD's text in Wesley's Revision of The Shorter Catechism, p. 4 f.
56 Minutes 1744, The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 277: "That text, 'As by one man's disobedience all men were made sinners, so by the obedience of One, all were made righteous', we conceive means, By the merits of Christ, all men are cleared from the guilt of Adam's actual sin." See also The Doctrine of Original Sin, 1757, The Works of John Wesley, IX, p. 303.
Because of Christ's atonement children are not reprobate on account of the guilt of Adam's sin. See IMPETA, De Leer der Heiliging en Volmaking bij Wesley en Fletcher, p. 125.
57 Cf. Zinzendorf's conception, which in this respect deviates from the Augsburg Confession and the subsequent orthodox Protestant position. Referring to Christ's atonement Zinzendorf maintains that a child that dies before baptism will not be damned. ZINZENDORF'S Sendschreiben an Ihro Königl. Maj. von Schweden ... betreffende sein und seiner Gerneinde Glauben und Bekänntnis, Corp. Conf., Die Brödergemeinde, p. 692. Cf. PLITT, Zinzendorfs Theologie, 1, p. 252; 11, p. 213 f. Cf. also SPANGENBERG, Idea fidei fratrum, p. 157. See Augsburg Confession, Art. II in J. T. MÜLLER, Die symbolischen Bücher der evangelischlutherischen Kirche, p. 38; J. MÜLLER, Die christliche Lehre von der Sünde, II, p. 418 f.
Yet on this point too Wesley allows the orthodox outlook to remain unaltered in the Treatise on Baptism, which holds that deliverance from original guilt is not effected until baptism. The Works of John Wesley, X, p. 190 ff.
60 See sermon On Living without God, written 1790, The Works of John Wesley, VII, p. 351. The relation of the natural man to the invisible world is here compared with that of a toad to the visible world; both are enveloped in darkness. "What a thick veil is between him and the invisible world, which, with regard to him, is as though it had no being! He has not the least perception of it, not the most distant idea. He has not the least sight of God, the intellectual Sun, nor any the least attraction toward him, or desire to have any knowledge of his ways. Although His light be gone forth into all lands, and His sound into the end of the world, yet he heareth no more thereof than of the fabled music of the spheres. He tastes nothing of the goodness of God, or the powers of the world to come. He does not feel (as our Church speaks) the working of the Holy Spirit in his heart. In a word, he has no more intercourse with, or knowledge of, the spiritual world, than this poor creature had of the natural, while shut up in its dark inclosure." Cf. sermon on The New Birth, 1760, The Works of John Wesley, VI, p. 70, where the situation of natural man is similarly described. The unborn child has no perception of things in the world; nor has man, before he has been born of God, any knowledge of or communion with Him.
64 See Wesley's Hebden quotation in The Doctrine of Original Sin, 1757, The Works of John Wesley, IX, p. 429: "A denial of original sin contradicts the main design of the gospel, which is to humble vain man, and to ascribe to God's free grace, not man's free will, the whole of his salvation. Nor, indeed, can we let this doctrine go without giving up, at the same time, the greatest part, if not all, of the essential articles of the Christian faith. If we give up this, we cannot defend either justification by the merits of Christ, or the renewal of our natures by his Spirit."
Cf. further Wesley's own account ib, p. 327, "Here is the ground, the real and the only ground, for true Christian thankfulness: 'Christ died for the ungodly that were without strength'; such as is every man by nature. And till a man has been deeply sensible of it, he can never truly thank God for his redemption; nor consequently, for his creation; which is, in the event, a blessing to those only who are 'created anew in Christ Jesus'." Cf. also p. 313: "This doctrine, therefore, is the 'most proper' of all others 'to be instilled into a child': That it is by nature a 'child of wrath', under the guilt and under the power of sin; that it can be saved from wrath only by the merits, and sufferings, and love of the son of God; that it can be delivered from the power of sin only by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit; but that by his grace it may be renewed in the image of God, perfected in love, and made meet for glory."
See further A Short History of Methodism, 1765, The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 349, in which Wesley maintains that the doctrine of original sin is implicit in the doctrine of salvation by faith.
68 See The Doctrine of Original Sin, 1757, The Works of John Wesley, IX, p. 313: "The power of godliness consists in the love of God and man; this is heavenly and substantial religion. But no man can possibly 'love his neighbour as himself', till he loves God; and no man can possibly love God, till he truly believes in Christ; and no man truly believes in Christ, till he is deeply convinced of his own sinfulness, guiltiness, and helplessness. But this no man ever was, neither can be, who does not know he has a corrupt nature."
69 Ib., p. 306. "So far," he continues, "'every man who comes to Christ is first convinced of the several things he lost by Adam'; though he may not clearly know the source of that corruption which he sees and feels in his heart and life."
70 Ib., p. 273. Experience, however, does not always tally with reality. Thus the justified but not entirely sanctified man, who at times does not feel sinful, must not draw the conclusion that he is not. Even though man does not feel sin stir within him, it is nevertheless there. See The Wilderness State, 1760, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, II, p. 255; The Scripture Way of Salvation, 1765, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, II, p. 446.
But it is seldom long, we are told, before the justified become aware that sin is still with them: "They now feel two principles in themselves, plainly contrary to each other; 'the flesh lusting against the spirit'; nature opposing the grace of God." The Scripture Way of Salvation, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, II, p. 447. Experience shows "that the roots of sin, self-will, pride, and idolatry, remain still in his heart." Sermon on The Deceitfulness of Man's Heart, 1790, The Works of John Wesley, VII, p. 341.
75 Wesley finds authority in the Bible for this distinction between personal sin and imputed guilt. See The Doctrine of Original Sin, 1757, The Works of John Wesley, IX, p. 317. Adam's sin is imputed to his children, but they have no personal sin. Ib., p. 326.
78 See ib., p. 410. Quotation: "And yet it is allowed, we are no so guilty by nature, as a course of actual sin afterward makes us. But we are, antecedent to that course, 'children of wrath'; liable to some degree of wrath and punishment." Cf. ib., p. 286, where Wesley writes of the punishment in this world and that to come. "That all men are liable to these for Adam's sin alone, I do not assert; but they are so, for their own outward and inward sins, which, through their own fault, spring from the infection of their nature. And this, I think, may fairly be inferred from Rom. vi. 23: 'The wages of sin is death'; its due reward; death, temporal, spiritual, and eternal."
81 See Predestination Calmly Considered, 1752, The Works of John Wesley, X, p. 236. Cf. The Doctrine of Original Sin, 1757, The Works of John Wesley, IX, p. 315: "'But with regard to parents and their posterity, God assures us, children 'shall not die for the iniquity of their fathers.' No, not eternally. I believe none ever did, or ever will, die eternally, merely for the sin of our first father."
83 See sermon on Free Grace, delivered 1740, The Works of John Wesley, VII, p. 385: "Yea, the decree is past; and so it was before the foundation of the world. But what decree? Even this: 'I will set before the sons of men 'life and death, blessing and cursing'. And the soul that chooseth life shall live, as the soul that chooseth death shall die."'
85 See Wesley's rejection of the Calvinistic doctrine of reprobation with the help of such testimonies to individual responsibility as that in Ezekiel xviii: " 'Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father?' (Temporally he doth, as in the case of Achan, Korah, and a thousand others; but not eternally.) 'When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live. The soul that sinneth, it shall die'; shall die the second death." Ib., The Works of John Wesley, X, p. 216.
86 See in particular the sermon on The Spirit of Bondage and of Adoption, The Works of John Wesley, V., p. 104. See also The Doctrine of Original Sin, 1757, The Works of John Wesley, IX, p. 273. Ib., p. 450. Quotation: "Leave the unrenewed will to itself, it will choose sin and reject holiness; and that as certainly as water poured on the side of a hill will run downward and not upward." There is a direct opposition to God Himself in the will of natural man. Ib., p. 451. Quotation.
Another quotation shows full agreement with Luther's view of natural man as 'incurvatus in se'. Ib., p. 456: "Yes, self is the highest end of unregenerate men, even in their religious actions. They perform duties for a name; for some worldly interest; or, at best, in order to escape from hell. They seek not God at all, but for their own interest. So that God is only the means, and self their end." Cf. also ib.: "Whithersoever they move, they cannot move beyond the circle of self. They seek themselves, they act for themselves; their natural, civil, and religious actions, from whatever spring they come, do all run into, and meet in, this dead sea."
87 See ib., p. 275: "But 'if all actual transgressions proceed from Adam's sin, then he is the only guilty person that ever lived. For if his sin is the cause of all ours, he alone is chargeable with them.'
"True; if all our transgressions so proceed from his sin, that we cannot possibly avoid them. But this is not the case; by the grace of God we may cast away all our transgressions: Therefore, if we do not, they are chargeable on ourselves. We may live; but we will die.
"Well, but 'on these principles all actual sins proceed from Adam's sin; either by necessary consequence, or through our own choice; or partly by one, and partly by the other'. Yes; partly by one, and partly by the other. We are inclined to evil, antecedently to our own choice. By grace we may conquer this inclination; or we may choose to follow it, and so commit actual sin." Of. Wesley's rejection of older and newer deterministic theories in Thoughts upon Necessity, 1774, The Works of John Wesley, X, pp. 457-474.
88 See The Way to the Kingdom, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 156 f. Cf. Justification by Faith, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 123. The man who is not justified does only what is evil, for his heart is evil. As long as the tree is corrupt, the fruits are corrupt, 'for an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit'. Cf. also The Righteousness of Faith, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 142.
89 See The Sermon on the Mount: I, 1748, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 323. Cf. The Doctrine of Original Sin, 1757, The Works of John Wesley, IX, p. 433; here sin is regarded as an organic relation between the root, the branches and the leaves. All John Taylor's doctrine can do. Wesley says, "is to shake off the leaves. It does not affect the branches of sin. Unholy tempers are just as they were. Much less does it strike at the root: Pride, self-will unbelief, heart-idolatry, remain undisturbed and unsuspected."
90 See sermon on The Wilderness State, 1760, The Works of John Wesley, VI, p. 81. Here sin of omission is distinguished from inward sin. Cf. on the other hand the sermon on The Great Privilege of Those That Are Born of God, 1748, The Works of John Wesley, V, p. 232, where this distinction is not made.
In John Wesleys Lehre von der Heiligung, p. 81, SCOTT maintains that Methodism, unlike Lutheranism, is very much concerned with sins but very little with sin. This is per se a correct observation, but true understanding of Wesley's attitude necessitates also due recognition of the importance he attached to original sin.
114 The Doctrine of Original Sin, 1757, The Works of John Wesley, IX, p. 381. Quotation: "The 'image of God', in which Adam was created, consisted eminently in righteousness and true holiness. But that part of the 'image of God' which remained after the fall, and remains in all men to this day, is the natural image of God, namely, the spiritual nature and immortality of the soul; not excluding the political image of God. or a degree of dominion over the creatures still remaining. But the moral image of God is lost and defaced, or else it could not be said to be 'renewed'."
116 Sermon on The Heavenly Treasure in Earthen Vessels, 1790, The Works of John Wesley, VII, p. 345. Cf. Some Remarks on "A Defence of the Preface to the Edinburgh Edition of Aspasio Vindicated," 1766, The Works of John Wesley, X, p. 350: "1 believe that Adam, before his fall, had such freedom of will, that he might choose either good or evil; but that, since the fall, no child of man has a natural power to choose anything that is truly good. Yet I know (and who does not?) that man has still freedom of will in things of an indifferent nature."
117 Cf. Wesley's declaration at the 1744 Conference; one of the questions at issue was whether the Methodists had not been inclining too much towards Calvinism. Minutes, 1744; The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 277 f.
120 Ib., p. 232 ff. Cf. Thoughts upon God's Sovereignty, 1777, The Works of John Wesley, X, p. 361 ff. Wesley here says that God as Creator has acted according to his supreme will. On the other hand, as Governor, he has to act "according to the invariable rules both of justice and mercy." It is in this latter character that God rewards and punishes; a prerequisite being that man has "free-agency" and is able to choose.
122 The Doctrine of Original Sin, 1757, The Works of John Wesley, IX, p. 265. See also Some Remarks on Mr. Hill's "Review of all the Doctrines Taught by Mr John Wesley," 1772, The Works of John Wesley, X, p. 392: "But, indeed, both Mr F. [Fletcher] and Mr W. [Wesley] absolutely deny natural free-will. We both steadily assert that the will of man is by nature free only to evil. Yet we both believe that every man has a measure of free-will restored to him by grace." Cf. FLETCHER, A Vindication, 1771, p. 15 f.
124 Ib., Rom. i. 19: "For what is to be known of God — Those great Principles which are indispensably necessary to be known, for God hath shewed it to them — By the Light which enlightens every Man that cometh into the World." Rom. ii. 14: "Do by nature — That is, without an outward Rule; though this also, strictly speaking, is by preventing Grace. These, not having the written law, are a law unto themselves — That is, what the Law is to the Jews, they are (by the Grace of God) to themselves; namely, a Rule of Life." Occasionally, however, Wesley can express the opinion that a certain residue of knowledge of the law was preserved after the Fall. The moral law that at the creation was inscribed on the heart of man has been largely defaced but not totally obliterated. The Sermon on the Mount: V, 1748, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 400 f.; The Original ... of the Law, 1750, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, II, p. 43. Cf. below p. 49.
125 The Doctrine of Original Sin, 1757, The Works of John Wesley, IX, p. 268. Wesley adds: "They who, by this help, do the things contained in the law, we grant, 'are not the objects of God's wrath'." As this grace has been given them, they are without excuse if they remain corrupt: "True, if God had not offered them grace to balance the corruption of nature: But if he did, they are still without excuse; because they might have conquered that corruption, and would not. Therefore we are not obliged to seek any other sense of the phrase, 'By nature', than, 'By the nature we bring into the world'." Ib., p. 268. Cf. also ib., p. 273: "If you ask, 'Why, how are they capable of performing duty?' I answer, By grace; though not by nature. And a measure of this is given to all men."
126 Sermon On Working Out Our Own Salvation, 1788, The Works of John Wesley, VI, p. 506. Wesley admits, however, that in the best and most thoughtful heathens there can be "some resemblance of these truths." Ib., p. 506 f.
133 See sermons The Scripture Way of Salvation, 1765, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, II, p. 445; On Working Out Our Own Salvation, 1788, The Works of John Wesley, VI, p. 509, where Wesley says:: "Salvation begins with what is usually termed (and very properly) preventing grace; including the first wish to please God, the first dawn of light concerning his will, and the first slight transient conviction of having sinned against him. All these imply some tendency toward life; some degree of salvation; the beginning of a deliverance from a blind, unfeeling heart, quite insensible of God and the things of God."
135 Wesley reduced the Thirty-nine Articles to twenty-four. This abridgement was first published in Wesley's 1784 revision of the Book of Common Prayer, entitled The Sunday Service of the Methodists in North America With Other Occasional Services. See COOKE, History of the Ritual of the Methodist Episcopal Church, p. 163 ff., 166 ff. By the addition of an article called "Of the Rulers of The United States of America" at the Baltimore Conference in 1784-85 the number rose to twenty-five. See GREEN, Wesley Bibliography, p. 224; WHEELER, History and Exposition of the Twenty-five Articles of Religion of the Methodist Episcopal Church, p. 8 f.
138 See WHEELER, op. cit., p. 190. This is also pointed out by BICKNELL, A Theological Introduction to the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, p. 219. For the Würtemberg Confession, which agrees with the Augsburg Confession, and its influence on the forty-two articles in the revision of 1562, see HARDWICK, A History of the Articles of Religion, p. 124 ff.
140 See BICKNELL, op. cit., p. 230 f. According to Bicknell the article represents a mediating position: "On the one side it clearly takes a gloomier view of man's present position than the Council of Trent. It follows St Augustine so far as to speak of 'the fault and corruption (depravatio) of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil'. It definitely repudiates the Pelagian idea that the 'Fall' had no effect on man at all. On the other side it carefully avoids the Calvinistic extravagance of saying 'Tota depravatio'." Ib., p. 231. See also ib., p. 21.
141 See WHEELER, op. cit., p. 187. A pro-Calvinistic revision in 1643, Wheeler says, gave the wording "whereby man is wholly deprived of original righteousness." After the power of Calvinism was broken, the phrase "very far gone from" was substituted.
This was a return to the versions of the Thirty-nine Articles of 1571 and that of earlier Articles. In the 1571 version original sin is "the fault and corruption of the nature of euery man that naturally is engendered of the ofspring of Adam, whereby man is very farre gone from originall ryghteousness. . ."In the Latin text of the 1562 Articles original sin is defined as "vitium. et deprauatio naturae cuiuslibet hominis ex Adamo naturaliter propagati, qua fit, vt ab originali iustitia quàm longissime distet.. ."The Latin text of the Forty-two Articles of 1552 has the same wording. In the English text original sin is described as "the fault and corruption of the nature of euery manne, that naturallie is engendered of the ofspring of Adam, whereby manne is very farre gone from his former righteousness, whiche he had at his creation. . ." These texts in HARDWICK, Op. Cit., p. 262 ff. See also Corp. Conf., Die Kirche von England, p. 381 f.
142 OLSSON, however, has shown that there is an inconsistency in Calvin's own view. On the one hand Imago Dei is considered "deleta" after the Fall, on the other, only "prope deleta." Calvin och reformationens teologi, I, pp. 220, 236 f., the note, 268 f.
144 Further confirmation that in this respect Wesley is not of one mind with the Thirty-nine Articles and later orthodoxy will be found in a comparison between the baptismal ritual of the Church of England and the corresponding ritual in the revision of the Book of Common Prayer which he published simultaneously with the Articles of Religion. See Corp. Conf., Die Kirche von England, p. 212. The corresponding passage in Wesley's revision in COOKE, op. cit., p. 192 f.146 But it is not looked upon as actual sin. James i. 15 is explained in Notes, 1755: "Then desire having conceived — By our own Will joining therewith, bringeth forth actual sin — It doeth not follow that the Desire itself is not Sin. He that begets a Man is himself a Man: and sin being perfected — Grown up to Maturity, which it quickly does, bringeth forth death — Sin is born big with death." Cf. The Great Privilege of Those That Are Born of God, 1748, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 307 ff., 311.
147 WHEELER is quite right in maintaining that an earlier wording, "working in us," was later altered to "working with us." Op. cit., p. 190. The Latin texts of 1552 and 1562 read "cooperante dum volumus." The English text of the Articles of 1552 has the expression "working in us," the Thirty-nine Articles of 1571, "workyng with vs." See HARDWICK, op. cit., p. 264 f. See also Corp. Conf., Die Kirche von England, p. 382 f.; BICKNELL, op. cit., p. 242 ff.