ATONEMENT, JUSTIFICATION, SANCTIFICATION
In considering Wesley's attitude to man we have already touched upon his view of salvation and the place in it of sanctification. We now pass on to a closer examination of his idea of salvation, in order, firstly, to determine the principles governing the relation between justification and sanctification, and, secondly, to bring out the importance attributed to sanctification. In this chapter, in clarifying the connection between justification and sanctification, we shall be concerned only with present justification. The question of the relation between sanctification and final justification, or final salvation, will be dealt with later on. The first step must be to scrutinize Wesley's view of atonement. It is the natural starting point here, for both justification and sanctification are based on it.
Wesley never took up the Atonement for special consideration in any of his treatises or tracts. Nor is it the main theme in any of his sermons. His views on it will be found primarily in scattered remarks bearing on his exposition of sin, justification, and sanctification. Yet it was undoubtedly a pivotal and essential theme in both his preaching and his thought.1
Along with the new knowledge of justification in 1738, the Atonement, the rock on which justification is built, naturally comes to the fore. The controversy between Wesley and William Law, which was engendered by the doctrine of justification, also embraced the Atonement.
Law had seen religion as in the main synonymous with sanctification, which meant conformity to the life of Christ. It was man's duty to bear the cross and follow Christ. Mortification constituted the essence of piety.2 Man had to die to the world and live a new life in the spirit of Christ.3 But although Christ is regarded as the cause of human sanctification, considerable emphasis is nevertheless laid on the necessity to exert oneself to the uttermost to achieve that holiness of life and heavenly wisdom in all one's actions which is Law's definition of Christianity.4 The struggle for sanctification is also regarded as a necessary condition of justification. Salvation, that is, depends upon the sincerity and completeness of man's effort to attain it. Until he has striven to the last ounce of his strength he cannot win God's favour.5
But sin and guilt too have their place in Law's conception of man, and through them his attention is directed towards atonement. Man has perverted the nature with which God endowed him. He has fallen, and consequently has no right to feel proud.6 If we consider the Atonement, which was necessary that man might be liberated from the guilt of sin, the frightfulness of sin becomes manifest.7 Law sees the Incarnation and the suffering and death of Christ as essential to the re-establishment of man's fellowship with God. "Nothing less," he says, "has been required to take away the guilt of our sins, than the sufferings and death of the Son of God. Had He not taken our nature upon Him, our nature had been for ever separated from God, and incapable of ever appearing before Him."8 Without the mediation of the Son of God and His intercession with the Father, man would not even have been in a position to pray for the forgiveness of his sins.9 Because of his sin, man is subject to punishment, and the only way in which he can obtain the favour of God is through the Atonement effected by Christ.10
Yet this line of thought does not lead to a Reformed adjustment of the relation between justification and sanctification. Christ's work for mankind in the Atonement is not given significance enough to make such a step possible. The idea of atonement is modified in Law, as it was in practical mysticism in general, by the notion of man's own mortification. Christ's suffering on the cross is not regarded as a vicarious suffering for mankind. It is only a representational act in the name of mankind which has been credited to man in the sense that his union with Christ is accepted by God. Christ is a sacrifice to make the sacrifices of mankind acceptable to God.11 For Law Christ's work of atonement does not constitute the only ground of deliverance from guilt and the favour of God: another factor is man's own mortification. Man must practise self-denial and bear his cross if he is to benefit from Christ's atonement. Law maintains that "all the sons of Adam are to go through a painful, sickly life, denying and mortifying their natural appetites, and crucifying the lusts of the flesh, in order to have a share in the atonement of our Saviour's death."12 The restoration of God's favour demands not only "so great an Atonement of the Son of God" but also so great a "repentance of our own."13
Wesley's new insight into, and experience of, salvation by faith was made possible because he too acquired a new way of looking at the question of atonement.14 For him Christ's work of atonement became the sole basis of justification and regeneration. Justifying faith became a faith in Christ's work of atonement and His merits. Thus it was inevitable that Wesley should find himself compelled to settle matters with William Law, who had been his principal spiritual mentor for a number of years. He saw clearly that the main source of dissension between them was the Atonement. Wesley's chief concern was now "a living faith in the blood of Christ."15 Writing to Law in May, 1738, he expresses the fundamental difference between their views in the words: "'He is our propitiation through faith in His blood."16 It is true that the Atonement, as we have seen, had a place in Law's theology, but it was not, as with Wesley, of such fundamental importance for justification that in this respect man's own actions could be left entirely out of account. To Wesley, Law's way of salvation now seemed a way of law, which he had tested but found quite impracticable. Of course Wesley undoubtedly exaggerates Law's legalistic tendency. It had assumed excessive proportions for him precisely because of his earlier concentration on Law's insistence on sanctification. This had meant that Wesley had put all the emphasis on man's bearing of his own cross and mortification, while he had hardly paid any attention at all to what Law had to say about Christ's work of atonement.17 Consequently Wesley now tends to underestimate the importance attributed to grace in Law's conception of salvation. All the same, it is true that in Law the idea of Atonement is entirely subordinated to sanctification. Further, Wesley's criticism cannot be said to involve any misrepresentation of Law's principles, for in Law's conception of man's justification, grace is not fully freed from the trammels of the legalistic framework.
Wesley, then, came to regard Christ's work of atonement as the sole ground of human justification. "The sole cause of our acceptance with God (or, that for the sake of which, on the account of which, we are accepted) is the righteousness and the death of Christ, who fulfilled God's law, and died in our stead."18 Justification cannot therefore be based on any righteousness in man himself: neither righteousness of outward acts nor righteousness of inward temper. Thus sanctification becomes not a cause, but an effect, of justification.19 Faith alone is regarded as the necessary condition for justification, a faith which does not embrace any form of human sanctity, but out of which inward and outward sanctity spring.20
The controversy with Law and the other mystics brings out clearly the importance that Wesley now ascribed to the Atonement. We have already hinted at its significance for the relation between justification and sanctification. The purport of the breach with the mystics can be summed up in the statement that he changed his mind about the way of salvation. But as to the goal of salvation, he remained in agreement with Law and practical mysticism. As we shall see later on, he continued to regard sanctification as the true aim and essence of religion.21 Yet the fact that Wesley's way of salvation did not remain Law's, was a natural consequence of the former's deepened conception of Sin.22
Before attempting a definition of Wesley's idea of atonement, we turn our attention to the view of it contained in the Thirty-nine Articles and the Homily of Salvation of the Church of England.
In the Thirty-nine Articles it will be found in a few sentences dealing with Christ's work of atonement, which is particularly treated in three of the Articles. In connection with the Incarnation it is maintained that Christ, who was a true God and a true man, "truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men."23 The Roman Catholic doctrine of the sacrifices of Masses is rejected. The sacrifice of Christ, "once made, is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone."24 In the Article on justification, Christ's merits are said to be the only basis of human justification: "We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings: wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification."25
Orthodox satisfaction would seem to be the dominant conception in the view of atonement reflected in these brief formulations.26 The legal order and the judicial system emerge as the governing principle. The work of Christ, by which God is atoned, is perceived as a satisfaction. By it God's justice is satisfied. Yet it does not follow that the idea of grace is absent. In the Article on justification, where we are told that man is justified by the merit of Christ, the stress is laid on the justification of man solely "for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith" and not "for our own works and deservings." Of the alternatives, the merit of Christ on the one hand and our own works on the other, the former is put first to accentuate the principle that justification takes place by grace alone. But while this theocentric view is seen in the attitude to grace, an anthropocentric tendency seems simultaneously to emerge in the notion of comfort for distressed man.27
The Homily of Salvation, which explains Article XI in the Thirty-nine Articles, shows still more clearly that this view of atonement is in alignment with the orthodox doctrine of satisfaction. Thus it agrees with the Latin idea of atonement, which, dating from Tertullian and Cyprian, is fully developed in Anselm, and in modified form continues in orthodox theology.28 The act of atonement is seen from the point of view of both grace and justice, but the latter seems to be the dominant principle. As all men have broken the law of God and thus their fellowship with Him, God justifies them instead through Christ. Thus no one can be justified by his own acts29; the justification of man occurs by the grace of God30. Implicit in, but partly independent of, this view of grace, a conception of justice also emerges. We see it in the way atonement is regarded as a form of satisfaction. The law broken by man must be fulfilled. This is done through Christ. God sent His only Son to fulfil the law for us and that by shedding His most precious blood He should provide God with that satisfaction or compensation for our sins which was necessary if God's wrath against us was to be appeased.31 Since atonement is thus regarded as a form of satisfaction tendered to God, the work of Christ is seen as partly independent of God's and operating as a separate factor, distinct from God's, in redemption. In this way the free operation of God's grace is interrupted. This is also seen when the act of atonement is regarded as sacrifice. Christ's sacrifice, seen as meeting the just exactions of God, is regarded as the immediate — and from God's grace partly independent — condition for the re-establishment of fellowship with God. Redemption is represented as a ransom paid by Christ to God.32
The relation between the functions of God and of Christ in redemption reflects two aspects of the Divine nature. By the redemption God is conceived to have "tempered his justice and mercy together." In this way the human intelligence is provided with a satisfactory answer to the question as to how redemption can be given both freely and by payment of ransom.33 As a result of this adjustment the consequences of neither God's justice nor His mercy have been fully exerted. Without mercy his justice would have sentenced us to the everlasting captivity of the devil; His mercy, on the other hand, would have freed us without the payment of a just ransom. Instead, "with his endless mercy," God has "joined his most upright and equal justice," delivering us from our captivity without recompense from us — we had no means of paying it — and ordaining a ransom through the precious blood of Christ. As well as paying this ransom, Christ has also wholly fulfilled the law for us.34 Thus justification is bound up with three related factors: From God, His mercy and grace; from Christ, His satisfaction of God's justice by the ransom of His blood and His perfect fulfilment of the law; and from man: a true and living faith in the merits of Christ, a faith which is yet not his own work but God's working in him. Through faith man relies on the promise of God's mercy and the forgiveness of sins. Thus any idea of man achieving justification due to merits resulting from any action of his own is entirely eliminated. The mind is directed towards the merits of Christ instead of man's own, and at the same time this brings the idea of God's grace to the fore.35 But joined to this view of grace is that of justice: equally balanced, both God's mercy and His justice are operative.
Here I have called particular attention to the feature specially characteristic of the orthodox doctrine of satisfaction. The main point was that the just claims of God had to be fulfilled and compensation paid. Even Christ's vicarious suffering of punishment was regarded as satisfaction. It is true that the grace of God is also seen in the Atonement, but this grace is an integral part of the order of law. Thus, in the orthodox way, the Atonement expresses an unbroken legal order and a broken act of God.
In conformity with his general subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles and the homilies of the Anglican Church Wesley adopted in his abridgement without essential changes the three Articles that deal specifically with Atonement.36 Apart from his general solidarity with Anglicanism, his conception of sin, which was expounded in the previous chapter, would in itself lead us to expect his concurrence in the doctrine of the work of Christ as satisfaction and in the related idea of the merits of Christ. He did concur in this. It was through the sin of Adam, who was not only the father but also the representative of mankind, that all became subject to sin and punishment; similarly Christ, as the second Adam and representative of the human race, bore the sins of all. He suffered on behalf of all. His sacrifice was a full, perfect and sufficient satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.37 Christ bore our punishment.38 He paid the price for us.39 Consequently man has nothing to offer to God but the merits of Christ.40 Because of their inward and outward evil all that men deserve is the wrath of God and eternal damnation. Yet they can do nothing to assuage that wrath, atone for their sins, and escape the punishment they rightly deserve. They have no means of making satisfaction to the justice of God for their sins.41 Thus their only hope is the vicarious suffering of Christ.42
This train of thought, which is found in the first of Wesley's sermons published after his experience in 1738, continues to be expressed; we see him considering the idea of the payment chargeable for the debt man owes to God. The man who has undergone first repentance and thus become aware of the punishment he merits, finds himself confronted by this problem of compensation and of his inability to discharge his debt: "But what shall he give in exchange for his soul, which is forfeited to the just vengeance of God? 'Wherewithal shall he come before the Lord?' How shall he pay Him that he oweth? Were he from this moment to perform the most perfect obedience to every command of God, this would make no amends for a single sin, for any one act of past disobedience; seeing he owes God all the service he is able to perform, from this moment to all eternity: could he pay this, it would make no manner of amends for what he ought to have done before. He sees himself therefore utterly helpless with regard to atoning for his past sins; utterly unable to make any amends to God, to pay any ransom for his own soul."43 Man's only hope is therefore "to be washed in His blood, and renewed by His almighty Spirit, who himself 'bare all our sins in His own body on the tree'!"44 In conformity with the Anglican Homily of Salvation, Wesley further maintains that "these things must go together in our justification; — upon God's part, His great mercy and grace; upon Christ's part, the satisfaction of God's justice; and upon our part, true and lively faith in the merits of Jesus Christ."45 In the court of Divine justice Christ acts as mediator between God and the sinner. In this way Divine justice is satisfied and man can obtain forgiveness through faith.46 With his active and passive righteousness Christ effects perfect atonement.47 The satisfaction thus given by Christ, Wesley thinks, is given by Him qua homo. It is as Man that Christ mediates between God and mankind.48 In his activity as High Priest Christ is also considered as a representative of mankind.49
This agreement in Wesley with certain essential features in the traditional orthodox view of atonement50 is again conspicuous in another controversy with Law, after the latter had come under the influence of Böhme's mysticism. Law's fundamentally mystical position led him to identify the Atonement with the regeneration of fallen man.51 Christ's death did not constitute any satisfaction to God, but was only a means to the transformation of man and a demonstration of Christ's superiority to the world, death, Hell, and the Devil.52 To Wesley as to Law the death of Christ was the only possible way by which the Almighty might overcome the evil in fallen mankind. But this was true only if Christ really atoned for our sins.53
To Wesley, therefore, it was important that Christ's death should also have an objective import with relation to God. It had to have the meaning of an objective event establishing a new basis for human justification. Here as previously Wesley regarded Christ's work of atonement as the payment of ransom or satisfaction. By analogy with the parable of the kingdom of Heaven as a king who would take account of his servants, the relation of fallen mankind to God is seen as that of debtor to creditor. Man cannot pay his debt. Nevertheless God has the right to insist on its discharge, and if this fails, to hand him over to the tormentors.54 Christ, however, was a ransom for us all and a sacrifice to God.55 His work acquired satisfactional and meritorious significance for all men.56
This difference between Law and Wesley in their attitude to atonement is naturally accompanied by divergence in their attitude to God. The former is a consequence of the latter. Whereas Law denies that wrath ever was or will be attributable to God, Wesley maintains that He is capable of wrath just as He is capable of justice.57 Law holds that wrath and pain are attributes of the created world only.58 God is goodness alone, and nothing but happiness can emanate from Him.59 Punishment cannot emanate from Him.60 His punitory justice is denied.61 In their respective conceptions of God, Law evinces a superficial monism and Wesley a more dualistic tendency. To Wesley God's mercy is mixed with His justice.62 His wrath bears the same relation to His justice as His love to His mercy. In human terms the love and wrath of God are passions corresponding to the dispositions of mercy and justice. If, Wesley says, we deny that God is capable of wrath it would only be consistent to deny His justice also.63 From all eternity God was infinitely just and consequently His wrath had to manifest itself when man sinned.64 Thus there is in God punitory justice, and Adam's sin must necessarily call forth His punishment.65
Differing thus from Law in this matter of God's wrath66, Wesley also differs to some extent from Zinzendorf, to whom God's wrath does not seem to have the same force and significance67. Consequently, Wesley gives more prominence than Zinzendorf to the objective side of the Atonement.68
Now as Wesley regarded Christ's work of atonement as a form of satisfaction, it is chiefly a judicial view that finds expression in his conception of it. God's justice must be satisfied, compensation must be paid. Christ is thought to have given this satisfaction qua homo and thus the Atonement is not regarded as a single continuous act of God. It is true that God takes the initiative in His grace, but in the act of atonement itself His grace is interrupted by His justice.
Grace, however, also has its place in Wesley's idea of atonement. He dwells a great deal on the grace and love of God as reflected in His willingness to provide means of satisfaction.69 He emphasizes the love of God or Christ in the Atonement, although this love is not specifically defined.70 Just as in the Thirty-nine Articles and the Homily of Salvation, he considers the satisfaction and merits of Christ to express Divine grace. Salvation comes to man not because of his own works but through Christ alone.71 The issue is put thus: salvation on the grounds of what God did for us in Christ, or alternatively on the grounds of man's own merits; and as the former is the true way the stress is laid on grace. A further point is that the sentence of damnation on all men was necessary in order that the inexhaustible wealth of Christ might be made manifest.72
Wesley is not unfamiliar with the concept of Christ's work of atonement as an act of deliverance and conquest, although this is implicit rather than explicit and found chiefly in the earlier sermons. The Atonement is a step after which God no longer puts forth His wrath but instead appears as a loving father. When Wesley regards the devil as "the executioner of the wrath and righteous vengeance of God73," the Atonement is seen as Christ's victory over the devil. The association of the devil with God's just sentence leads on to the idea that the victory over the devil both implies that God reconciles and is reconciled: at one and the same time He is both the subject and the object of atonement.74 In consonance with this Wesley writes of that perpetual and victorious Divine intervention against the powers of Evil that so greatly helps him who believes: "He feared not all the powers of darkness, whom God was daily bruising under his feet. Least of all was he afraid to die; nay, he desired to 'depart, and to be with Christ'; (Phil. i. 23;) who, 'through death, had destroyed him that had the power of death, even the devil; and delivered them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime', till then, 'subject to bondage'. (Heb. ii. 15.)"75
Although in this way atonement can sometimes appear as an act of liberation, this is never more than ancillary to the main train of thought. The characteristic expression of the idea of atonement lies in satisfaction. Accordingly, Wesley links the Atonement with Christ's office as High Priest, which as well as His vicarious work of atonement also comprises His intercession with the Father on man's behalf. The victorious and liberating aspect of Christ's work finds expression primarily in His office as King.76 A natural consequence of this partition of Christ's offices is that the conception of satisfaction and the victor theme are thus distinguished; satisfaction standing first in the work of atonement, while the idea of victory and liberation is realized in Christ's royal office. In this way the victory idea is associated not with Christ's work for us but with His work in us; the restoration of the image of God in man. And thus the idea of victory is expressed not in the Atonement but in the New Birth and sanctification.
In the orthodox manner it is thus satisfaction that especially distinguishes Wesley's attitude to atonement. But this does not mean that his idea of satisfaction is exactly identical with the orthodox conception of it, particularly as formulated in the classical period. Though Wesley can include both the active and the passive obedience of Christ in the work of atonement, the stress nevertheless lies on the latter. From the very beginning the thought of the death and suffering of Christ predominates77, and in a controversy with a contemporary representative of orthodoxy, James Hervey78, Wesley virtually confines satisfaction to comprise passive obedience. He contends that it was the passive obedience of Christ that laid the foundation of justification. True, he speaks also of the meritorious life of Christ, but always in connection with His atoning death. Christ's fulfilment of the moral law, moreover, is not regarded as essential to our redemption. The satisfaction through the death of Christ is sufficient for our full forgiveness. Christ was a substitute only in suffering punishment, not in His fulfilling of the law.79 The fact that in essence satisfaction only implies His suffering and death is conditioned by the alternatives with which according to Wesley man was confronted. The choice was simple: to obey and fulfil the law or to die.80 But Christ died in obedience to the Father81, and His death alone gave full satisfaction for the sins of the world82.
As Wesley gives such prominence to the death of Christ and regards only His penal suffering as substitutional, it is clear that the judicial factor cannot be as important in His view of atonement as it was to the orthodox. If atonement also comprises a fulfilment of the law by proxy, as it did to Hervey, the legal concept must obviously be emphasized. Clearly the idea of the law fulfilled by Christ involved the restoration of a greater degree of equilibrium to the judicial order deranged by the Fall.
Parallel to this view of atonement is Wesley's conception of justification. Here he had to diverge from the orthodox outlook, in which the imputation of Christ's righteousness is involved in justification together with forgiveness and acceptance by God. To Wesley, justification implies the two latter factors only.83 It is true that he also speaks of the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the believer, but this does not imply more than that by virtue of Christ's righteousness man shall obtain forgiveness and acceptance.84 In this way Christ's righteousness is regarded only as the meritorious cause or ground of human justification.85 Here Wesley was guided by a twofold motive: on the one hand he was eager to repudiate all thought of any righteousness or merit in man on the basis of which he might be justified86; on the other, he wanted to repudiate a tendency in man to rely on Christ's righteousness imputed to him and to neglect the demand for inherent righteousness87.
Wesley's rejection of the idea of a fulfilment of the law by proxy is an outcome of his struggle against antinomianism. He finds its very essence to lie in the idea that Christ has met the claims of the law on man's behalf and that therefore he is not called upon to fulfil the moral law.88 Accordingly he disassociates the fulfilment of the law from atonement and justification and attaches it instead to sanctification. This explains why sanctification in the sense of fulfilment of the law occupies such an important place in his theology.
In his treatment of the law Wesley, like the orthodox theologians89, could not agree with the dualistic view of Luther. It is typical that the law is always regarded as holy and good.90 Thus he expressly repudiates Luther's belief that it can be ranged with sin, death, and the devil.91 Accordingly he cannot see it as an evil power overcome by Christ in the Atonement.
This law, which became so important to Wesley, is exclusively the moral law. It is regarded as "an incorruptible picture of the High and Holy ONE that inhabiteth eternity." It is the making visible of that God whose spirit none has seen nor can see. "It is He whom, in His essence, no man hath seen, or can see, made visible to men and angels. It is the face of God unveiled; God manifested to His creatures as they are able to bear it; manifested to give, and not to destroy, life — that they may see God and live. It is the heart of God disclosed to man. Yea, in some sense, we may apply to this law what the Apostle says of His Son: it is ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ — the streaming forth or out-beaming of His glory, the express image of His person."92, This law, ordained by God, is further defined as "a copy of the eternal mind, a transcript of the divine nature; yea, it is the fairest offspring of the everlasting Father, the brightest efflux of His essential wisdom, the visible beauty of the Most High." It is "the delight and wonder of cherubim and seraphim, and all the company of heaven, and the glory and joy of every wise believer, every well instructed child of God upon earth."93 Wesley also sees it as an eternal, unchanging, rational order of things. "If we survey the law of God in another point of view," he says, "it is supreme, unchangeable reason; it is unalterable rectitude; it is the everlasting fitness of all things that are or ever were created."94
In proceeding to explain the characteristics of the law, he pays special attention to its holiness, justice, and goodness.95 Above all it is holy. It is "in the highest degree, pure, chaste, clean, holy."96 It follows that it is "the immediate offspring" and "the express resemblance, of God, who is essential holiness."97 It is "pure from all sin, clean and unspotted from any touch of evil." Just as sin is essentially "enmity to God," God's law is "enmity to sin."98 Thus it can neither be sin itself or a cause of sin. The law unveils sin and brings it into the light of day, so that it can be seen in its proper hideousness. If committed against better knowledge, "being stripped even of the poor plea of ignorance, it loses its excuse, as well as disguise, and becomes far more odious both to God and man." Thus exposed to the light of the law, sin will rage more wildly. It will become still more violent when the law tries to repress it. Yet this is no blemish: the law is holy all the same. What it does show, however, is how evil and corrupt is the heart of man.99
That the law is just implies that it gives each man his due and exactly prescribes what is right with respect to the Creator, ourselves, and every other created being. In every respect the law is suited to the nature of things and their mutual relations.100 There is nothing arbitrary in it.101 It is an immutable rule for what is right and what wrong.102 Since the law thus depends on the nature and relations of things, it must, Wesley continues, depend on God's will, for it is solely through that will that these exist. In this way the law becomes an expression of God himself, for God and God's will cannot be separated.103
The third characteristic of the law, its goodness, is disclosed to Wesley when he considers God's motive in revealing His will in the law, or when he contemplates its nature and effects. The law resembles the source from which it flows, viz., God's goodness. It was goodness alone that impelled God to impart this image of himself to the angels and later to men. Nor was it anything other than goodness that impelled Him after the Fall to reveal His will once again to mankind.104 The law by nature is "full of goodness and benignity: it is mild and kind; it is, as the Psalmist expresses it, 'sweeter than honey and the honey-comb'."105 Since the law itself is good it follows that its effects are good too. "As the tree is, so are its fruits. The fruits of the law of God written in the heart are 'righteousness, and peace, and assurance for ever'. Or rather, the law itself is righteousness, filling the soul with a peace which passeth all understanding and causing us to rejoice evermore, in the testimony of a good conscience toward God."106
Thus Wesley affirms the supremacy and inviolability of the moral law. Nevertheless, the Christian, he says, is no longer subject to the law, but under grace. In what sense, then, is he outside the jurisdiction of the law?
First the Christian is free from Jewish ritual.107 Because of the work of Christ the Mosaic ceremonial law is no longer valid.108 It has been abolished for ever.109 Further, the Christian is independent of the whole Mosaic dispensation. No longer under "the Jewish dispensation" he is now under "the gracious Christian dispensation." Because his relation to God is that of child to father he can now serve "without fear, in righteousness and holiness with a free, loving, childlike spirit."110 Through Christ's atonement he is independent of "the whole Mosaic institution" and brought "under a new dispensation: 'That ye should' without any blame 'be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead'; and hath thereby given proof of His authority to make the change; 'that we should bring forth fruit unto God'." This is now possible for the Christian because he has learnt to understand the efficacy of Christ's resurrection. Previously, when he was under the power of corrupt nature, sin brought forth the fruit of death. The workings of sin were manifested and inflamed through the Mosaic law, yet not conquered. Now, however, man is delivered from "that whole moral, as well as ceremonial economy" and finds himself "in a new spiritual dispensation." Whereas before his service was but outward and by the letter he shall now serve Christ in a new manner in accordance with the Spirit.111
With Christ's work of atonement a new foundation was laid for the salvation of man. The Christian is now independent of the moral law, moreover, in so far as he is not obliged to keep it as the condition of his acceptance with God.112 He is not concerned with it as a means of procuring his justification.113 Thus Wesley attributes no importance to the moral law in loco justificationis.114
A related fact is that the Christian is freed from the condemnation of the law. The believer has been absolved by Christ from the condemnation and the punishment to which his transgressions render him liable.115 He is absolved from "the curse of the moral law116," from its "condemning power117." We are told of the man who no longer finds himself under the law, but under grace, that: "As he is no longer under the ceremonial law, nor under the Mosaic institution; as he is not obliged to keep even the moral law, as the condition of his acceptance; so he is delivered from the wrath and the curse of God, from all sense of guilt and condemnation, and from all that horror and fear of death and hell whereby he was all his life before subject to bondage."118
Thus Wesley repudiates the moral law as a necessary condition of justification. The Christian is nevertheless under an obligation to fulfil the law on the basis of faith.119 The moral law, which the gospel of Christ manifested to man in all its clarity120, will as such survive eternally. It is regarded as an expression both of God's justice and of His grace. This is seen in Wesley's three uses of the law. The first use is to instil conviction of sin. It unmasks man and reveals to him his real nature; that he is dead to God and devoid of all spiritual life.121 The second use is to lead man to Christ that he may live. Although in these functions the law acts as "a severe schoolmaster," love is operative behind it and uses the law for its own ends.122
The third use of the law concerns its place in the Christian life. The law does not only lead man to Christ; it also serves to keep the justified and regenerated man alive and helps him to grow in grace.123 The function of the law in promoting sanctification is also threefold: 1. To convince the Christian of the sin that remains in him and thus to keep him so close to Christ that His blood may cleanse him every moment; 2. To "derive strength from Christ" to the believer in order to supply him with that strength which Christ bestows to enable him to do as His law commands; 3. To confirm his hope of whatever the law commands and he has not yet attained, "of receiving grace upon grace," till he is "in actual possession of the fulness" of God's promises.124
Wesley associates the law very closely with Christ. This is particularly true when he is speaking of its usefulness in the Christian life. The importance attributed to the law indicates that here he is in closer agreement with Calvin than with Luther.125 The more the Christian sees himself in the mirror of the perfect law, the more he feels the need of Christ's atoning blood and of His purifying spirit.126 The law drives man to Christ, and Christ drives him to the law. "On the one hand, the height and depth of the law constrains me to fly to the love of God in Christ; on the other, the love of God in Christ endears the law to me 'above gold or precious stones'; seeing I know every part of it is a gracious promise which my Lord will fulfil in its season."127 Thus the law and grace are not regarded merely as two poles between which the Christian life is ignited and lived. The latter is also — and primarily — regarded as a force by means of which the law is to be fulfilled in man. By faith the law shall be established in the heart and life of man.128 Wesley is able to treat the law and the gospel as the same thing seen from different aspects129, and similarly he identifies the fulfilment of the law with love in the Christian life. It is typical of him to regard sanctification as an expression of both the law and love.130
Justification and Sanctification.
We have already seen that the Atonement is the foundation of justification and sanctification. Here justification, taken as the individual application of the Atonement131, is more closely related to it than sanctification. Man is justified by faith because of Christ's atonement. His sins are forgiven and he is accepted by God. Justification, that is to say, is immediately linked up with Christ's work as High Priest. Since it is true that the latter constitutes the necessary condition for Christ's royal office yet is distinguishable from it, it is possible to say that sanctification will bear an indirect relation to atonement. For sanctification is principally regarded as the consequence of Christ's royal office132 or the work of the Holy Ghost133.
Although justification and sanctification are closely associated, Wesley nevertheless thinks it necessary to distinguish between them. In the wide sense he is able immediately after 1738 to include both the forgiveness of sins and the New Birth in justification.134 In the strict sense, however, justification only implies, as we have already seen, the forgiveness of sins and the acceptance incident to it. In this way it is distinguished from sanctification, which begins in man with new birth. The latter implies a real, inherent righteousness. It is true that sanctification is said to be "in some degree, the immediate fruit of justification," but also "a distinct gift of God, and of a totally different nature." Whereas justification is defined as "what God does for us through His Son," sanctification is "what He works in us by His spirit."135 But the distinction is seen most clearly if we say that justification involves a relative, and sanctification a real, change. The former is essentially an objective change.136 There is a transformation in the relation between man and God with the result that man is now possessed of God's favour. The latter is a subjective change, a real renewal in man himself. The former involves deliverance from the guilt of sin; the latter, liberation from the power (in the New Birth) and root (in entire sanctification)137 of sin. The relation between justification and new birth is described as follows: "But though it be allowed, that justification and the new birth are, in point of time, inseparable from each other, yet they are easily distinguished, as being not the same, but things of a widely different nature. Justification implies only a relative, the new birth a real, change. God in justifying us does something for us; in begetting us again, He does the work in us. The former changes our outward relation to God, so that of enemies we become children; by the latter our inmost souls are changed, so that of sinners we become saints. The one restores us to the favour, the other to the image, of God. The one is the taking away the guilt, the other the taking away the power, of sin: so that, although they are joined together in point of time, yet are they of wholly distinct natures."138
Thus the differentiation of salvation into the separate stages of a process — to which the next chapter will be devoted — is already apparent here. Nevertheless the relative transformation of justification and the real transformation of the New Birth are only logically, not temporally, distinguished.139 In describing justification and sanctification in a later sermon the former is thus defined: "Justification is another word for pardon. It is the forgiveness of all our sins; and, what is necessarily implied therein, our acceptance with God. The price whereby this hath been procured for us (commonly termed 'the meritorious cause of our justification'), is the blood and righteousness of Christ; or, to express it a little more clearly, all that Christ hath done and suffered for us, till He 'poured out His soul for the transgressors'. The immediate effects of justification are, the peace of God, a 'peace that passeth all understanding', and a 'rejoicing in hope of the glory of God' 'with joy unspeakable and full of glory'." Simultaneously with justification, sanctification begins. "And at the same time that we are justified, yea, in that very moment, sanctification begins. In that instant we are born again, born from above, born of the Spirit: there is a real as well as a relative change. We are inwardly renewed by the power of God. We feel 'the love of God shed abroad in our heart by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us'; producing love to all mankind, and more especially to the children of God; expelling the love of the world, the love of pleasure, of ease, of honour, of money, together with pride, anger, self-will, and every other evil temper; in a word, changing the earthly, sensual, devilish mind, into 'the mind which was in Christ Jesus'."140 Although justification and the New Birth are thus closely associated, both being seen as instantaneous and simultaneous events, they are nevertheless distinguished and regarded as distinct works. The distinction between justification and sanctification now takes on temporal quality as well; this becomes more marked still in the contemplation of continued sanctification, in its successive stages.
So far we have been trying to establish definitions of these general concepts. We must now attempt a more exact definition of the relation between justification and sanctification. It will be best, however, to narrow down the problem here and examine it only in so far as it bears on a presentation of Wesley's doctrine of justification by faith.
Wesley himself considered that in this doctrine he was in full harmony with the attitude of the Reformation141, and many modern scholars have agreed with him. On this point Wesley and the Reformation are found to concur.142
This is undoubtedly correct in so far as Wesley's doctrine of justification expresses a fundamentally Reformed attitude. The law had no place in loco justificationis. Further, we have already seen how it was bound up with his view of man. The doctrine of justification by faith without the works of the law was clearly a natural consequence.
The new view of justification turned Wesley's attention to God's grace in Christ. This is now the only cause of human justification and new birth. Since man can offer God nothing but sin, this salvation is God's gift.143 It comes to man by faith.144 Typical of this justifying faith is a personal trust in the efficacy of Christ's work for mankind. This trust is above all a trust in the atonement of Christ.145
Wesley affirms the way of faith and grace instead of works. Man is justified and re-born solely by God's grace; he cannot plead any righteousness of his own.146 Nor is faith regarded as a work of man by which he may be justified. Although sanctification and good works are the necessary consequences, the latter does not as such include them.147 It is the sinner whom God justifies. "God justifieth not the godly, but the ungodly; not those that are holy already, but the unholy."148 We can say of Him: "He seeks and saves that which is lost. He pardons those who need His pardoning mercy. He saves from the guilt of sin (and, at the same time, from the power) sinners of every kind, of every degree; men who, till then, were altogether ungodly; in whom the love of the Father was not; and, consequently, in whom dwelt no good thing, no good or truly Christian temper; but all such as were evil and abominable — pride, anger, love of the world, the genuine fruits of that carnal mind which is 'enmity against God'."149 The notion that man must be sanctified before he can be justified, i. e., obtain forgiveness and be accepted by God, is totally rejected. "So far from it," Wesley writes of this belief, "that the very supposition is not only flatly impossible (for where there is no love of God, there is no holiness, and there is no love of God but from a sense of His loving us), but also grossly, intrinsically absurd, contradictory to itself. For it is not a saint but a sinner that is forgiven, and under the notion of a sinner."150 Further, no works are good in the Christian sense that do not issue from justifying faith. All truly good works are done after justification.151
This opposition between the way of the law and the way of faith is particularly strongly stressed in the period immediately after the evangelical revolution in his doctrine of justification. Here Wesley employs the idea which is so typical of Calvinist theology, that of the two covenants: the covenant of works and the covenant of grace.152 He maintains, for instance153, that the conditions under which God gave man the covenant of works were quite different from those pertaining to the covenant of grace. The former was given in Paradise and required man's perfect and unfailing obedience to every provision of God's law. It was the necessary condition for man to remain in that state of perfection in which he was created. The second covenant, on the other hand, was established through Christ with fallen man.154 The aim of fallen man is to regain the grace and life of God. For this all that is necessary is faith, "living faith in Him who, through God, justifies him that obeyed not."155 The covenant of works "required of Adam, and all his children, to pay the price themselves, in consideration of which they were to receive all the future blessings of God," whereas under the covenant of grace, "seeing we have nothing to pay, God 'frankly forgives us all': provided only, that we believe in Him who hath paid the price for us; who hath given Himself a 'propitiation for our sins, for the sins of the whole world'."156 Good works done by man himself are not a necessary condition for his justification. "Knowest thou not, that thou canst do nothing but sin, till thou art reconciled to God? Wherefore, then, dost thou say, 'I must do this and this first, and then I shall believe'? Nay, but first believe! Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the propitiation for thy sins. Let this good foundation first be laid, and then thou shalt do all things well."157
This evangelical attitude is maintained. Justifying faith is seen as a result of man's total inability to attain justification by his own works. Man must abandon all reliance on his own works and put his trust solely in the atonement of Christ.158 He may not plead any sanctity or works of his own as grounds for acceptance; nor need anything of the kind precede this.159 Wesley answers the question as to the sense in which the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer, as follows: "In this: all believers are forgiven and accepted, not for the sake of anything in them, or of anything that ever was, that is, or ever can be done by them, but wholly and solely for the sake of what Christ hath done and suffered for them. I say again, not for the sake of anything in them, or done by them, of their own righteousness or works: 'Not for works of righteousness which we have done, but of His own mercy He saved us.' 'By grace ye are saved through faith; ... not of works,, lest any man should boast'; but wholly and solely for the sake of what Christ hath done and suffered for us. We are 'justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ'."160
In this attitude to justification Wesley is obviously following Reformed principles. The relation between justification and sanctification is adjusted on evangelical lines: the latter is not considered a necessary condition for the former.
To this extent Wesley himself and Wesley scholarship are right in maintaining that with regard to justification he was following in the train of the Reformation. But in attempting a more precise determination of Wesley's position, and even though the relation of sanctification to final justification at the last judgement is left out of account, allowances should be made for the differences of outlook on this point between Luther on the one hand and on the other Calvin, Melanchthon and the orthodox theologians. Recently much has been made of the difference between Luther and Melanchthon. It was with the latter that the development towards Lutheran orthodoxy began.161 Von Eicken, like Wesley himself, pays no regard to them in this context.162 The same is true of Cell and others. Cell discusses Wesley's theology in such wide perspective that the relation to Luther is hardly touched upon. It is true, however, that Lang has correctly indicated the Calvinist strain that we saw above in the idea of the two covenants.163
We have seen that Wesley distinguishes between justification and the New Birth, between "a relative change" and "a real change." Although they take place simultaneously, they are regarded as distinct. In this differentiation of the idea of salvation, Wesley diverges from Luther, to whom justification also included inward renewal164; instead he shows an affinity with Calvin165, Melanchthon, and Orthodoxy166. Thus Christian life becomes two focal points: justification or the forgiveness of sins, and the ethical regeneration of sanctification. The first is given an objective, the second a subjective import. Further, to Luther justification was immediately associated with atonement, which was an event in the present, not only in the past. Ultimately they meant the same.167 Justification was the continuous work of atonement.168 Wesley, like Melanchthon and the orthodox theologians169, distinguished between them: atonement was the legal basis of justification. Atonement was a single event in the past, justification its individual and present application. The contrast with Luther becomes still more marked when we turn to the structure of the conception of salvation as a whole. Whereas to Luther justification can connote the whole content of salvation, the latter to Wesley is a process in which justification (including the New Birth) is only a primary and basic stage.170
Here a further consideration is pertinent: on this point Wesley is not in full accord with the purely theocentric tenets of the Reformation. There is no doubt that his attitude to justification is in this respect distinct from a Reformed doctrine based on unconditional predestination. I refer to the fact that alongside the pure theocentricity171 of his representation of faith as the necessary condition of justification, an attempt to present man as an independent subject of faith is also apparent. The latter tendency becomes more prominent with time. It is an inevitable result of Wesley's Arminian view of election, which makes election dependent on man's faith. This Arminian bias excludes the possibility of thinking of grace in the form of sovereign grace, which is the natural consequence of a view of salvation based on unconditional election. His attitude to predestination also makes it possible for him to attribute importance to faith as a subjective condition of justification. Thus man himself is considered active in his salvation, this activity being a necessary condition of justification.
This subjective tendency is seen still more clearly in the idea of the repentance that precedes faith. Here Wesley shows agreement with the same idea in the liturgy of the Church of England.172 Repentance implies consciousness of sin. It is described as "a deep sense of the want of all good, and the presence of all evil."173 In addition to this conviction of sin and guilt, repentance also comprises "suitable affections," among them an earnest desire to escape God's wrath, to cease from doing what is evil and to learn to do good.174 With time Wesley distinguishes this repentance more and more clearly from justifying faith and comes to regard the former as its necessary condition, although the main stress is always put on the latter.
Thus if we consider the relation between justifying faith and the repentance that precedes it, we find that the latter is given steadily increasing attention. The fruits of this repentance also take on a certain importance. We find Wesley, particularly in the period immediately after 1738, contending with special emphasis that faith alone is really essential to justification.175 Nothing that man does or feels, he says, is necessary before justification.176 His own works "are all unholy and sinful themselves, so that every one of them needs a fresh atonement."177 Before justification his works "have in them the nature of sin," so that he cannot at this stage do anything "acceptable to God."178
Yet later Wesley pays increasing attention to repentance before justification and its fruits. In this, as in his attack on Antinomianism, he is at variance with Calvinism. At the doctrinal conference of 1744 he declared that earlier there had been too much leaning towards Calvinism and Antinomianism.179 It is true that faith, which means the faith in atonement effected by the Holy Ghost180, is said to be the condition of justification, but he also maintains that before justification there must be repentance, which implies the conviction of sin and the corresponding works, "obeying God as far as we can, forgiving our brother, leaving off from evil, doing good, and using his ordinances, according to the power we have received181." Yet no works can justify.182 At the next conference, in the following year, belief in Christ is said to be the sole condition of justification, but the repentance that precedes faith is also affirmed. If the opportunity is given, he says, the fruits of this repentance ought also to precede faith.183
In A farther Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion, published in the same year, Wesley again urges the importance of repentance for justification. Repentance and its fruits, however, are not necessary in the same degree as faith. While at whatever moment he believes man is justified, this is not the case when he repents or brings forth fruits of repentance. So faith alone justifies and repentance and its fruits are not necessary in the same degree. Nor are they necessary in the same sense as faith, for they do not have "so direct, immediate a relation to justification as faith." Faith is said to be "proximately necessary," whereas repentance is only "remotely" necessary, i. e. "necessary to the increase or continuance of faith." But even in this sense the fruits of repentance are not absolutely necessary: they are dependent on time and opportunity. When these are not available, God shortens his work, and faith precedes the fruits of repentance.184 He expresses himself similarly in a later sermon in which faith is said to be the sole condition of justification, although repentance and its fruits are in a sense necessary too. However, they are not regarded as necessary to the same extent as faith. The fruits of repentance are only conditionally necessary, i. e., if there is time and opportunity. But without faith man cannot be justified. And when he believes, "with or without those fruits, yea, with more or less repentance," he is justified. Further, repentance and its fruits are only "remotely necessary; necessary in order to faith." Only faith is regarded as "immediately and directly necessary to justification."185
In his struggle with Quietism and Antinomianism Wesley was impelled to lay particularly strong stress on the fruits of repentance. Some of his remarks on works in the course of these controversies seem to stand in direct opposition to his earlier doctrine of justification by faith. This is particularly true of certain statements made at the London conference of 1770.186
But in order to understand the purport of these statements we must distinguish carefully between the conditions 1) for the attainment of justification, 2) for remaining in the state of justification, and 3) for man's final justification at the last judgement. He says with regard to the conditions necessary for the attainment of justification: "We have received it as a maxim, that 'a man is to do nothing in order to justification'. Nothing can be more false. Whoever desires to find favour with God, should 'cease from evil, and learn to do well'. So God himself teaches by the Prophet Isaiah. Whoever repents, should 'do works meet for repentance'. And if this is not in order to find favour, what does he do them for?"187
In spite of its emphatic formulation, however, this statement does not constitute a departure from earlier principles. Particularly heavy stress is certainly put here on the fruits of repentance, yet their importance to justification is practical and not a matter of principle. Nor are these works, which to Wesley are linked up with the idea of prevenient grace, in any sense merits.188 At the same conference, sanctification was declared a condition of justification, but only in the sense that it is necessary to its retention, not to its attainment. The question "Who of us is now accepted of God?" is answered: "He that now believes in Christ with a loving, obedient heart."189 That the issue here does not concern how man is to win God's favour but how he is to remain in a state of acceptance, is a point made by Wesley himself in a letter of the following year, in which he comments on the pronouncements of the London conference. These had caused a considerable stir and Wesley had been exposed to much criticism. He now writes: "Who of us is now accepted of God?' (I mean, who is now in His favour? The question does not refer to the gaining the favour of God, but the being therein, at any given point of time.) 'He that now believes in Christ with a loving and obedient heart."190 Wesley's insistence here on love and obedience not being a condition for attaining justification but for remaining in God's favour, shows that in principle his attitude was still the same as before. The love attaching to faith is not regarded as a prerequisite for the attainment of justification, though as previously it is a condition of man's remaining in faith and in God's favour.191 Thus at the London conference works were declared necessary if man was to remain in a state of justification. They were also declared necessary to final justification at the last judgement.192 But none of these declarations constituted a departure from Wesley's earlier attitude.193
Thus the idea of a repentance and its fruits preceding faith does not involve any modification of the principles of Wesley's earlier conception of the relation between justification and sanctification. It shows, however, that this conception is linked up with Wesley's Arminian view of salvation. Prominence could also be given to man's repentance and its fruits, due to the association of the idea of prevenient grace with the Arminian view of election. Undoubtedly a synergistic tendency can be seen here — a corollary of prevenient grace. Wesley's Arminianism made this a latent principle in him from the very beginning, and it becomes more manifest with time.194
We have now seen how salvation, based on atonement, comprises justification or forgiveness and sanctification. beginning with the New Birth, "a relative change" and "a real change." Although the relative change of forgiveness is given logical priority over the real change of new birth and subsequent sanctification195, the main emphasis in Wesley's conception of salvation is nevertheless laid on the latter. The necessity of this has already been seen in our examination of the relation between the objective idea of guilt and the conception of sin as an inherent force in his view of sin. In considering his view of atonement we have also seen the dominant position he attributes to the law. Further, we have seen the importance he gave to it in the Christian life. Since the fulfilment of the law was transferred from justification to sanctification, the latter was naturally given prominence. It was regarded as the goal of salvation. Thus a teleological leaning finds its way into his view of salvation.196
The idea of real change in the New Birth comes clearly to the fore immediately after 1738. The salvation that comes by faith is a salvation from both the power and the guilt of sin.197 Through new birth by the Holy Ghost a new life is accorded to the man who believes in Christ. Subsequently this life will grow and develop towards perfection.198 Saving faith necessarily produces good works and holiness.199 Otherwise it is dead.200 Wesley maintains that by salvation he means, "not barely, according to the vulgar notion, deliverance from hell, or going to heaven; but a present deliverance from sin, a restoration of the soul to its primitive health, its original purity; a recovery of the divine nature; the renewal of our souls after the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness, in justice, mercy, and truth."201
In the struggle against antinomianism, the idea of sanctification acquires a prominent place in salvation. Wesley contends that the doctrine of salvation by faith must not occasion any depreciation of love and obedience. The only faith of value is one that operates through love. "It is impossible, indeed, to have too high an esteem for 'the faith of God's elect'. And we must all declare, 'By grace ye are saved through faith; not of works, lest any man should boast'. We must cry aloud to every penitent sinner, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved'. But, at the same time, we must take care to let all men know, we esteem no faith but that which worketh by love; and that we are not saved by faith, unless so far as we are delivered from the power as well as the guilt of sin. And when we say, 'Believe, and thou shalt be saved', we do not mean, 'Believe, and thou shalt step from sin to heaven, without any holiness coming between; faith supplying the place of holiness'; but, 'Believe, and thou shalt be holy; believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt have peace and power together: thou shalt have power from Him in whom thou believest, to trample sin under thy feet; power to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and to serve Him with all thy strength; thou shalt have power, 'by patient continuance in welldoing, to seek for glory, and honour, and immortality'; thou shalt both do and teach all the commandments of God, from the least even to the greatest: thou shalt teach them by thy life as well as thy words, and so 'be called great in the kingdom of heaven'."202 Such an interpretation of imputation, by which Christ's righteousness is imputed to man with the result that he is relieved of the necessity of any real change of his own heart, rouses sharp opposition in Wesley: "This is indeed," he says "'a blow at the root', the root of all holiness, all true religion. Hereby Christ is 'stabbed in the house of his friends', of those who make the largest professions of loving and honouring him; the whole design of his death, namely, 'to destroy the works of the devil', being overthrown at a stroke. For wherever this doctrine is cordially received, it leaves no place for holiness."203
The pivotal importance of sanctification in Wesley's view of salvation and the teleological tendency of the latter is particularly evident when faith is seen as the means by which the law is established. Faith becomes the means of which love is the end.204 However "glorious and honourable" faith may be, it is nevertheless only the "handmaid of love." Only love is "the end of all the commandments of God." It is said to be "the end, the sole end, of every dispensation of God, from the beginning of the world to the consummation of all things."205 The real purpose of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ is thus declared to be the sanctification of man.206
If we turn to Wesley's definitions of a Christian and of the nature of Christianity, or to his descriptions of a Methodist and of the nature of Methodism, we shall find sanctification the dominant conception. Sanctity is regarded as an ethical transformation of the heart and life of man. Its essence is love. Being a Christian means having a faith which is active in love.207 Love of God and of one's neighbour on the basis of faith are given as the true characteristics of the Christian.208 He has the temper of Christ.209 He who believes in Christ walks in the Holy Ghost. In him are revealed the fruits of the Spirit.210 He is sanctified in heart and in life.211 Accordingly Wesley finds Christian freedom to lie not so much in freedom from the ceremonial law of the Jews or from the guilt of sin or the fear of Hell, as in freedom from the dominion of sin, in love of God, and in obedience to His law.212 Thus those who are unsanctified and lack the temper of Christ, cannot be Christians.213
Wesley, then, sees Christianity particularly from the point of view of new birth and sanctification.214 Against mere outward formalism he maintains that religion is love. It is "the love of God and of all mankind; the loving God with all our heart, and soul, and strength, as having first loved us, as the fountain of all the good we have received, and of all we ever hope to enjoy; and the loving every soul which God hath made, every man on earth, as our own soul."215 He thinks the Sermon on the Mount contains the best survey of Christianity.216 The holiness it urges he declares to be the very spirit and quintessance of religion.217 Further, as we have seen218, religion is regarded as Θεραπεία Ψυχής — God's method of healing a soul;" it is seen as a means of renewing the corrupt nature of man219 . The renewal of man in the image of God becomes the end of religion.220
The Methodist and Methodism are similarly described. The emblem of the Methodist is love of God and all men on the ground of belief in atonement and forgiveness.221 And the essence and prime end of Methodism is sanctity, or the moral transformation of the heart and life of man.222
1 Cf. the letter of 7 Febr. 1778, in which Wesley speaks of the centrality of the Atonement in Christianity: "Indeed, nothing in the Christian system is of greater consequence than the doctrine of Atonement. It is properly the distinguishing point between Deism and Christianity. 'The scriptural scheme of morality', said Lord Huntingdon, 'is what every one must admire; but the doctrine of Atonement I cannot comprehend'. Here, then, we divide. Give up the Atonement, and the Deists are agreed with us." The Letters of John Wesley, VI, p. 297 f.
2 LAW, Serious Call, p. 165. To understand the breach with Law in 1738, we must turn to this famous work of Law's, published in 1728, which has had immense influence. See OVERTON, William Law. Nonjuror and Mystic, p. 109 ff.; INGE, Studies of English Mystics, p. 133 ff.; BRILIOTH, The Anglican Revival, p. 18 f.; MINKNER, Die Stufenfolge des mystischen Erlobnisses bei William Law, p. 11 f. Even after 1738 Wesley could speak appreciatively of this book. He says that it "will hardly be excelled, if it be equalled, in the English tongue, either for beauty of expression, or for justness and depth of thought." Sermon On a Single Eye, dat. 1789, The Works of John Wesley, VII, p. 297. In his Serious Call Law describes the way to salvation of deistic religion, which attributes no importance to faith in this life. Law was deeply opposed to such an attitude and puts the emphasis on the need for sanctification. The book is mainly a practical religious appeal but as such it also expresses its author's idea of Christianity. For a more detailed account of sanctification in Law and the relation between him and Wesley in this respect, see below, the fifth chapter.
4 "For as sure as Jesus Christ was wisdom and holiness, as sure as He came to make us like Himself, and to be baptized into His spirit, so sure is it, that none can be said to keep to their Christian profession, but they who, to the utmost of their power, live a wise and holy and heavenly life. This, and this alone, is Christianity; an universal holiness in every part of life, a heavenly wisdom in all our actions, not conforming to the spirit and temper of the world, but turning all worldly enjoyments into means of piety and devotion to God." Ib., p. 112 f.
5 "The sum of this matter is this: from the abovementioned, and many other passages of Scripture (Phil. ii. 12, Matt. xxii. 14, Matt. vii. 14, Luke xiii. 24), it seems plain, that our salvation depends upon the sincerity and perfection of our endeavours to obtain it.
"Weak and imperfect men. shall, notwithstanding their frailties and defects, be received, as having pleased God, if they have done their utmost to please him." Ib., p. 23.
11 Ib., p. 224: "To have a true idea of Christianity, we must not consider our Blessed Lord as suffering in our stead, but as our Representative, acting in our name, and with such particular merit, as to make our joining with Him acceptable into God.
"He suffered, and was a Sacrifice, to make our sufferings and sacrifice of ourselves fit to be received by God." Cf. p. 335.
14 See Journal for 24 May 1738 and the days immediately before. The Journal of John Wesley, 1, p. 464 ff. Cf. also ib., for 22 April 1738, p. 454. It is true that as early as in the sermon on The Circumcision of the Heart, 1733, Wesley had expressed belief in Christ's atonement, but the statement of personal conviction of atonement and forgiveness is a later addition. The Works of John Wesley, V, p. 205. See SUGDEN'S introduction to this sermon, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 265.
16 The two principles Law says he has been governed by, namely "'Without Me ye can do nothing"' and "'If any man will come after Me, let him take up his cross and follow Me'," may, Wesley thinks, imply this third maxim on the Atonement, although it is not expressly stated. Ib., p. 241.
19 Ib., p. XIX f. Here Wesley objects to the mystics: "They speak largely and well against expecting to be accepted of God for our virtuous actions; and then teach, that we are to be accepted for our virtuous habits or tempers. Still the ground of our acceptance is placed in ourselves. The difference is only this: Common writers suppose we are to be justified for the sake of our outward righteousness. These suppose we are to be justified for the sake of our inward righteousness: whereas, in truth, we are no more justified for the sake of one than of the other. For neither our own inward nor outward righteousness is the ground of our justification. Holiness of heart, as well as holiness of life, is not the cause, but the affect of it."
20 Ib., p. XX: "And even the condition of it is not (as they suppose) our holiness of heart or life: but our faith alone; faith contradistinguished from holiness as well as from good works. Other foundation therefore can no man lay, without being an adversary to Christ and His Gospel, than faith alone, faith, though necessarily producing both, yet not including either good works or holiness." See also Journal for 13 Sept. 1739, The Journal of John Wesley, II, p. 275.
22 Although, as we have seen, sin and guilt play their part in Law's conception of man, he cannot, like Wesley, assert natural man's total depravity, Thus, in Law, nature and grace are not necessarily incompatible; "the religion of the gospel" can be regarded as "only the refinement and exaltation of our best faculties." LAW, Serious Call, p. 53.
26 In my exposition of the idea of atonement I have made use of the new perspective indicated by MANDEL in Christliche Versöhmungslebre, adumbrated by AULÉN in Christus Victor, and most fully expounded by LINDROTH in Försoningen.
The theory is that concentration on 'objective' or 'subjective' atonement has involved neglect of the 'dualistic-dramatic' view. The last is the 'classic' view. It means that atonement is seen as a continuous act of God Himself. The legal order is overruled. The relation of man to God is viewed in the light of grace. Christ functions as the representative of God in the act of atonement. The Atonement is regarded as the victorious outcome of a divine struggle, a work by which God in Christ defeats the evil powers of the world, sin, death, the devil, the law, and God's wrath, thus reconciling the world to Himself. And since these evil powers are also regarded as subservient to God's punitive will, God Himself is reconciled too. The essence of the view is that God reconciles and is at the same time reconciled. He is simultaneously both the object and the subject of atonement. Luther is said to have held this 'classic' view. Cf. LINDROTH'S earlier work Katolsk och evangelisk kristendomssyn, p. 165 f., 171 ff.; BRING, Dualismen hoe Luther, p. 67 ff. On the other hand VON ENGESTRÖM in Luthers trosbegrepp, p. 95 ff., disagrees and brings out Anselmian elements in Luther.
In contrast to this classic view, in which atonement is an uninterrupted work of God and an interruption of the legal order, the so-called objective view regards it as an interrupted work of God, the legal order remaining unbroken. The Atonement is thought to rest on God's initiative, but this is interrupted in the actual work of atonement since here Christ is regarded as acting as the representative of man before God. Christ's work is seen as a satisfaction made to God by Christ qua homo. This theory emerges in the orthodox doctrine of satisfaction. Some essential features of the orthodox view are found in Anselm, although unlike Anselm the orthodox theologians regard the suffering and punishment of Christ as a satisfaction and satisfaction as comprising both His active and His passive obedience. LINDROTH, who has subjected Anselm's view of the Atonement to close scrutiny and shown how he differs from Melanchthon and Orthodoxy, maintains in particular that in Anselm as in the classic view the Atonement has cosmic significance, whereas in Orthodoxy it has a more individually legalistic and personal character (Försoningen, p. 147 f., 364).
27 Note the resemblance to Melanchthon. See LINDROTH, op. cit., p. 257 ff., 274 ff.; BRING, Förhållandet mellan tro och gärningar inom luthersk teologi, p. 71, 85, 97 f. Recently it has been shown that in important respects Melanchthon differs from Luther and begins the development towards Lutheran orthodoxy. Lindroth writes that "the orthodox outlook was determined by Melanchthon's legalistic and anthropocentric modifications of Luther's doctrine of atonement and justification." Op. cit., p. 315. (Translated.) Melanchthon had exerted a direct historical influence on the formation of the Thirty-nine Articles, and it is natural that his view of atonement should assert itself here. For this influence, see Corp. Conf., Die Kirche von England, p. LXXXVI ff., XCVII.
34 Ib., p. 451: "Objection. But here may man's reason be astonished, receiving, after this fashion: If a ransom be paid for our redemption, then it is not given us freely. For a prisoner, that payeth his ransom, is not let go freely; for if he go freely, then he goeth without ransom: for what is it else to go freely, than to be set at liberty without payment of ransom?
Answer. This reason is satisfied by the great wisdom of God in this mystery of our redemption, who hath so tempered his justice and mercy together, that he would neither by his justice condemn us unto the everlasting captivity of the devil, and his prison of hell, remediless for ever without mercy, nor by his mercy deliver us clearly, without justice, or payment of a just ransom; but with his endless mercy he joined his most upright and equal justice. His great mercy he shewed unto us in delivering us from our former captivity, without requiring of any ransom to be paid, or amends to be made upon our parts, which thing by us had been impossible to be done. And whereas it lay not in us to do that, he provided a ransom for us, that was, the most precious body and blood of his own most dear and best beloved Son Jesus Christ, who, besides this ransom, fulfilled the law for us perfectly. And so the justice of God and his mercy did embrace together, and fulfilled the mystery of our redemption."
35 Some sentences in the third, eighth, and tenth chapters of the Epistle to the Romans are annotated as follows: "In these foresaid places, the Apostle touches specially three things, which must go together in our justification. Upon God's part, his great mercy and grace, upon Christ's part, justice, that is, the satisfaction of God's justice, or the price of our redemption, by the offering of his body, and shedding of his blood, with fulfilling of the law perfectly and throughly; and upon our part, true and lively faith in the merits of Jesus Christ, which yet is not ours, but by God's working in us; so that in our justification is not only God's mercy and grace, but also his justice, which the Apostle calleth the justice of God, and it consisteth in paying out ransom, and fulfilling of the law: and so the grace of God doth not shut out the justice of God in our justification, but only shutteth out the justice of man, that is to say, the justice of our works, as to the merits of deserving our justification." Ib., p. 452. See also ib., p. 454.
37 Justification by Faith, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 118 f. Cf. A Dialogue between an Antinomian and His Friend, 1745, The Works of John Wesley, X, p. 267: "Friend. — I behove, that, by that one offering, he made a full satisfaction for the sins of the whole world." Cf. also A Second Dialogue between an Antinomian and His Friend, 1745, The Works of John Wesley, X, p. 277: "Friend. — I believe he made, by that one oblation of himself, once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world."
41 On account of his "inward and outward wickedness" man is "guilty of everlasting death." "It is just that the sentence should now take place. Dost thou see, dost thou feel this? Art thou thoroughly convinced that thou deservest God's wrath, and everlasting damnation? ...
"And what wilt thou do to appease the wrath of God, to atone for all thy sins, and to escape the punishment thou hast so justly deserved? Alas, thou canst do nothing; nothing that will in any wise make amends to God for one evil work, or word, or thought. If thou couldest now do all things well, if from this very hour till thy soul should return to God thou couldest perform perfect, uninterrupted obedience, even this would not atone for what is past. The not increasing thy debt would not discharge it. It would still remain as great as ever. Yea, the present and future obedience of all the men upon earth, and all the angels in heaven, would never make satisfaction to the justice of God for one single sin. How vain, then, was the thought of atoning for thy sins, by anything thou couldest do! It costeth far more to redeem one soul, than all mankind is able to pay. So that were there no other help for a guilty sinner, without doubt he must have perished everlastingly." The Way to the Kingdom, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 1, p. 157 f.
45 A Farther Appeal, 1745, The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 54. In his sermon on The Lord Our Righteousness, 1765, Wesley expresses agreement with the homilies of the Church of England: "And this is the doctrine which I have constantly believed and taught, for near eight-and-twenty years. This I published to all the world in the year 1738, and ten or twelve times since, in those words, and many others to the same effect, extracted from the Homilies of our Church: 'These things must necessarily go together in our justification: upon God's part, His great mercy and grace: upon Christ's part, the satisfaction of God's justice; and on our part, faith in the merits of Christ. So that the grace of God doth not shut out the righteousness of God in our justification, but only shutteth out the righteousness of man, as to deserving our justification.' 'That we are justified by faith alone, is spoken to take away clearly all merit of our works, and wholly to ascribe the merit and deserving of our justification to Christ only. Our justification comes freely of the mere mercy of God. For whereas all the world was not able to pay any part toward our ransom, it pleased Him, without any of our deserving, to prepare for us Christ's body and blood, whereby our ransom might be paid, and His justice satisfied. Christ, therefore, is now the righteousness of all them that truly believe in Him., " The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, II, p. 430 f.
47 "But His obedience implied more than all this: it implied not only doing, but suffering; suffering the whole will of God, from the time He came into the world, till 'He bore our sins in His own body upon the tree'; yea, till having made a full atonement for them, 'He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.' This is usually termed the passive righteousness of Christ; the former, His active righteousness. But as the active and passive righteousness of Christ were never, in fact, separated from each other, so we never need separate them at all, either in speaking or even in thinking. And it is with regard to both these conjointly, that Jesus is called 'the Lord our Righteousness'." The Lord our Righteousness, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, II, p. 427 f.
48 "But I do not apprehend that the divine righteousness of Christ is immediately concerned in the present question. I believe few, if any, do now contend for the imputation of this righteousness to us. Whoever believes the doctrine of imputation, understands it chiefly, if not solely, of His human righteousness.
"The human righteousness of Christ belongs to Him in His human nature; as He is the 'Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus'." Ib., The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, II, p. 427. See further p. 427 f.
50 Wesley is full of praise for the famous work An Exposition of the Creed by the orthodox bishop JOHN PEARSON (1612-1686). See especially Journal for 23 March 1749, The Journal of John Wesley, III, p. 391 and his letter of 13 May 1764, The Letters of John Wesley, IV, p. 243.
In Pearson's work, the sixth and enlarged edition of which was published in 1692, atonement is presented in the form of satisfaction. Remission of sins "containeth in it a Reconciliation of an offended God, and a Satisfaction unto a just God; it containeth a Reconciliation, as without which God cannot be conceived to remit; it comprehendeth a Satisfaction, as without which God was resolved not to be reconciled." Ib., p. 364. "If then we consider together, on our side the nature and obligation of sin, in Christ the satisfaction made, and reconciliation wrought, we shall easily perceive how God forgiveth sins, and in what Remission of them consisteth. Man being in all conditions under some Law of God, who both Sovereign power and dominion over him, and therefore owing absolute obedience to that Law, whensoever any way he transgresseth that Law, or deviateth from that Rule, he becomes thereby a sinner, and contracteth a guilt which is an obligation to endure a punishment proportionable to his offence; and God who is the Lawgiver and Sovereign, becoming now the party wronged and offender, hath a most just right to punish men as an offender. But Christ taking upon him the nature of man, and offering himself a sacrifice for sin, giveth that unto God for and instead of the eternal death of man, which is more valuable and acceptable to God than that death could be, and so maketh a sufficient compensation and full satisfaction for the sins of man; which God accepting, becometh reconciled unto us, and for the punishment which Christ endured, taketh off our obligation to eternal punishment.
"Thus man who violated by sinning the Law of God, and by that violation offended God, and was thereby obliged to undergo the punishment due unto the sin, and to be inflicted by the wrath of God, is, by the price of the most precious blood of Christ, given and accepted in full compensation and satisfaction for the punishment which was due, restored unto the favour of God, who being thus satisfied, and upon such satisfaction reconciled, is faithful and just to take off an obligation unto punishment from the sinner; and in this act of God consisteth the forgiveness of sins." Ib., p. 366 f. See also p. 74, 216, 365 ff., 368, 370.
Even such a theologian as Archbishop John Tillotson, Pearson's contemporary, can maintain the principle of satisfaction in his exposition of atonement. See TILLOTSON, The Works, Sermon XLVII, p. 560. Cf. HUNT, Religious Thought in England, 11, p. 101 f.
51 Letter to William Law, 6 Jan. 1756, The Letters of John Wesley, III, p. 351 f. Unlike the mystics whom Law considered authorities, Wesley determines to base his views on Scripture alone, especially St. Paul: "In matters of religion I regard no writers but the inspired. Tauler, Behmen, and an whole army of Mystic authors are with me nothing to St. Paul. In every point I appeal 'to the law and the testimony', and value no authority but this." Ib., p. 332.
66 Cf. the letter of 7 Febr. 1778, The Letters of John Wesley, VI, p. 298: "But it is certain, had God never been angry, He could never have been reconciled. So that, in affirming this, Mr Law strikes at the very root of the Atonement, and finds a very short method of converting Deists. Although, therefore, I do not term God, as Mr Law supposes, 'a wrathful Being', which conveys a wrong idea; yet I firmly believe He was angry with all mankind, and that He was reconciled to them by the death of His Son. And I know He was angry with me till I believed in the Son of His love; and yet this is no impeachment to His mercy, that He is just as well as merciful."
67 See BECKER, Zinzendorf im Verhältnis zu Philosophie und Kirchentum. seiner Zeit, p. 278 ff.; UTTENDÖRFER, Zinzendorfs religiöse Grundgedanken, p. 61. Cf. SPANGENBERG, Idea fidei fratrum, p. 149 ff.
69 "It may be farther considered, that it was of mere grace, of free love, of undeserved mercy, that God hath vouchsafed to sinful man any way of reconciliation with Himself; that we were not cut away from His hand, and utterly blotted out of His remembrance. Therefore, whatever method He is pleased to appoint, of His tender mercy, of His unmerited goodness, whereby His enemies, who have so deeply revolted from Him, so long and obstinately rebelled against Him, may still find favour in His sight, it is doubtless our wisdom to accept it with all thankfulness." The Righteousness of Faith, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 143.
70 Wesley often quoted the words in I. John: "We love God for he has first loved us." For their bearing on the Atonement, see The Way to the Kingdom, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 160.
71 The sinful and guilty man has "nothing to plead, nothing to offer to God, but only the merits of His wellbeloved Son, 'who loved thee and gave Himself for thee'! "The Righteousness of Faith, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 146. See also The Way to the Kingdom, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 157 ff. Cf. Minutes 1746, The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 286 f., where Wesley says that man can build on Christ only when he has lost his own righteousness. Cf. the issue in Luther and the Augsburg Confession, see LINDROTH, op. cit., p. 185.
72 "All that has been said, all that can be said, on these subjects, centres in this point: The fall of Adam produced the death of Christ ... If God had prevented the fall of man, 'the Word' had never been 'made flesh', nor had we ever 'seen his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father'... Unless 'by one man judgment had come upon all men to condemnation', neither angels nor men could ever have known 'the unsearchable riches of Christ'." The sermon on God's Love to Fallen Man, 1788, The Works of John Wesley, VI, p. 239.
75 Scriptural Christianity, delivered in 1744, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 95. This idea of atonement as an unbroken, continuous work of God is closely related to the contention that justifying faith involves the belief that "God 'was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.'" See A Farther Appeal, 1745, The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 48; Justification by Faith, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 125; The Sermon on the Mount: IX, 1748, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 498. Cf. Notes, 1755, U. Cor. v. 19. But that this idea does not prevent the view of Christ's act of atonement as a work distinct from God's, whereby this must chiefly be considered as a satisfaction given by Christ to God on behalf of men, is shown in The Law Established through Faith: 11, 1750, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 11, p. 76.
77 See The Almost Christian, delivered in 1741, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 1, p. 63; A Farther Appeal, 1, 1745, The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 48; Justification by Faith, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 1, p. 130; The Way to the Kingdom, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 160; The Sermon on the Mount: 1, 1748, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley 1, p. 328; The Sermon on the Mount: IX, 1748, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 508.
79 Ib., The Letters of John Wesley, 111, p. 373. Wesley finds that the latter is not explicit in the Scriptures: " 'If He was a substitute as to penal sufferings, why not as to justifying obedience'? The former is expressly asserted in Scripture; the latter is not expressly asserted there."
80 Ib., p. 377 f.: " 'By Christ's sufferings alone the law was not satisfied'. Yes, it was; for it required only the alternative, Obey or die. It required no man to obey and die too. If any man had perfectly obeyed, He would not have died. 'Where the Scripture ascribes the whole of our salvation to the death of Christ a part of His humiliation is put for the whole'. I cannot allow this without some proof. 'He was obedient unto death' is no proof at all, as it does not necessarily imply any more than that He died in obedience to the Father. In some texts there is a necessity of taking a part for the whole; but in these there is no such necessity."
82 Ib., p. 379. But that Wesley can also expressly mention both Christ's active and passive obedience as the object of faith and the foundation of salvation is seen in The Sermon on the Mount: XIII, 1750, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 11, p. 30. See also The Lord Our Righteousness, delivered in 1765, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 11, p. 427, 430, 432 ff. Yet that only Christ's death had redemptory significance is again seen in Some Remarks on Mr. Hill's "Review of All the Doctrines Taught by Mr. John Wesley," 1772, The Works of John Wesley, X, p. 386. " 'I cannot prove, that it was requisite for Christ to fulfil the moral law in order to his purchasing redemption for us. By his sufferings alone the law was satisfied'. Undoubtedly it was. Therefore, although I believe Christ fulfilled God's law, yet I do not affirm he did this to purchase redemption for us. This was done by his dying in our stead."
84 The Lord our Righteousness, 1765, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 11, p. 430: "But in what sense is this righteousness imputed to believers? In this: all believers are forgiven and accepted, not for the sake of anything in them, or of anything that ever was, that is, or ever can be done by them, but wholly and solely for the sake of what Christ hath done and suffered for them." Cf. Notes, 1755, Rom. iv. 9.
Wesley repudiates the notion that God should consider man just only because Christ is just: "Least of all does justification imply, that God is deceived in those whom He justifies; that He thinks them to be what, in fact, they are not; that He accounts them to be otherwise than they are. It does by no means imply, that God judges concerning us contrary to the real nature of things; that He esteems us better than we really are, or believes us righteous when we are unrighteous. Surely no. The judgement of the all-wise God is always according to truth. Neither can it ever consist with his unerring wisdom, to think that I am innocent, to judge that I am righteous or holy, because another is so. He can no more, in this manner, confound me with Christ than with David or Abraham." Justification by Faith, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 1, p. 120.
85 Ib., p. 433 f. Cf. the declaration in Thoughts on the Imputed Righteousness of Christ, 1762, The Works of John Wesley, X, p. 313: "But is not Christ termed 'our righteousness'? He is: 'This is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness'. (Jer. xxiii. 6.) And is not the plain, indisputable meaning of this scripture, He shall be what he is called, the sole Purchaser, the sole meritorious Cause, both of our justification and sanctification?" See also the letter to James Hervey of 15 Oct. 1756, The Letters of John Wesley, III, p. 375 f.: "'There are but two methods whereby any can be justified — either by a perfect obedience to the law, or because Christ hath kept the law in our stead'. You should say, 'Or by faith in Christ'. I then answer, This is true; and fallen man is justified, not by perfect obedience, but by faith. What Christ has done is the foundation of our justification, not the term or condition Of it."
87 Ib., p. 438. He fears that "any should use the phrase, 'The righteousness of Christ', or 'The righteousness of Christ is imputed to me', as a cover for his unrighteousness. We have known this done a thousand times ... And thus, though a man be as far from the practise as from the tempers of a Christian; though he neither has the mind which was in Christ, nor in any respect walks as He walked; yet he has armour of proof against all conviction, in what he calls 'the righteousness of Christ'."
88 Letter to James Hervey, 15 Oct. 1756, The Letters of John Wesley, III, p. 386. Cf. LINDROTH'S Criticism of the legalistic theory fundamental in the orthodox view of atonement: "If Christ's work of satisfaction is defined as an active obedience, it must be assumed that it is man who is called upon to fulfil the law. But if this is so, how is it possible, retaining the legalistic view fundamental in Orthodoxy, for another, for Christ, to fulfil this requirement vicariously? For, just as vicarious punishment means that man is absolved from punishment, so active and vicarious fulfilment of the law must mean that he is released from the obligation to obey it. Yet such a conclusion naturally Conflicts with the basic legalism of Orthodoxy. Such is the futility of defining Christ's work of atonement as a vicarious obedientia activa." (Translated.) Op. cit., p. 324.
91 Wesley sharply criticizes Luther's commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, which he finds "deeply tinctured with mysticism throughout, and hence often dangerously wrong." He says further: "Again, how blasphemously does he speak of good works and of the law of God — constantly coupling the law with sin, death, hell, or the devil; and teaching that Christ delivers us from them alike. Whereas it can no more be proved by Scripture that Christ delivers us from the law of God than that He delivers us from holiness or from heaven. Here (I apprehend) is the real spring of the grand error of the Moravians. They follow Luther, for better, for worse. Hence their 'No works; no law; no commandments'. But who art thou that 'speakest evil of the law, and judgest the law'." Journal for 15 June 1741, The Journal of John Wesley, 11, p. 467.
"Who art thou, 0 man, that 'judgest the law, and speakest evil of the law'? — that rankest it with sin, Satan, and death, and sendest the mall to hell together? . . . A judge of that which God hath ordained to judge thee! So thou hast set up thyself in the judgment-seat of Christ, and cast down the rule whereby he will judge the world!" The Original, Nature, Property, and Use of the Law, 1750, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, II, p. 56.
93 Ib., p. 47. A platonizing tendency is apparent when Wesley further describes the law as the divine virtue and wisdom assuming a visible form. "'If virtue', said the ancient Heathen, 'could assume such a shape as that we could behold her with our eyes, what wonderful love would she excite in us!' If virtue could do this! It is done already. The law of God is all virtues in one, in such a shape as to be beheld with open face by all those whose eyes God hath enlightened. What is the law but divine virtue and wisdom assuming a visible form? What is it but the original ideas of truth and good, which were lodged in the uncreated mind from eternity, now drawn forth and clothed with such a vehicle as to appear even to human understanding." Ib., p. 45 f. Cf. SUGDEN'S commentary on this passage.
103 Ib., p. 49 f. Wesley maintains that, as God and His will cannot be kept apart, the old question whether a thing is right because God wills it, or whether God wills it because it is right, has no meaning. "It seems, then, that the whole difficulty arises from considering God's will as distinct from God: otherwise it vanishes away. For none can doubt but God is the cause of the law of God. But the will of God is God Himself. It is God considered as willing thus or thus. Consequently, to say that the will of God, or that God Himself, is the cause of the law, is one and the same thing." Ib., p. 49 f.
107 See A Dialogue between an Antinomian and his Friend, 1745, The Works of John Wesley, X, p. 269; A Second Dialogue between an Antinomian and his Friend, 1745, The Works of John Wesley, X, p. 279; The Justification by Faith, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 1, p. 125.
108 The Sermon on the Mount: V, 1748, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 399 f.: "The ritual or ceremonial law, delivered by Moses to the children of Israel, containing all the injunctions and ordinances which related to the old sacrifices and service of the temple, our Lord indeed did come to destroy, to dissolve, and utterly abolish. To this bear all the Apostles witness; not only Barnabas and Paul, who vehemently withstood those who taught that Christians ought 'to keep the law of Moses' (Acts XV. 5); not only St. Peter, who termed the insisting on this, on the observance of the ritual law, a 'tempting God', and 'putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers', saith he, 'nor we, were able to bear'; but all the Apostles, elders, and brethren, being assembled with one accord (verse 22), declared, that to command them to keep this law, was to 'subvert their souls'; and that 'it seemed good to the Holy Ghost' and to them, to lay no such burden upon them (verse 28). This 'hand-writing of ordinances our Lord did blot out, take away, and nail to His cross'." Cf. The Law Established through Faith: 1, 1750, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 11, p. 59 f.
111 The Original, Nature, Property, and Use of the Law, 1750, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, II, p. 40 f. Here Wesley apparently holds a typical Calvinist view, one also found in Chapter VII of the Westminster Confession in the reference to the two covenants: the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. The latter is divided into two separate dispensations: the Old and the Now Testament. In the 0. T. the covenant "was administred by Promises, Prophecies, Sacrifices, Circumcision, the Paschal Lamb, and other Types and Ordinances delivered to the People of the Jews, an foresignifying Christ to come, which were for that time sufficient and efficacious through the Operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the Elect in Faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full Remission of Sins, and eternal Salvation." In the N. T., "when Christ the Substance, was exhibited" and this covenant was dispensed in other Ordinances, "it is held forth in more Fulness, Evidence, and spiritual Efficacy, to all Nations, both Jews and Gentiles ... There are not therefore two Covenants of Grace differing in Substance, but one and the same under various Dispensations." K. MÜLLER'S text, Die Bekenntnisschriften der reformierten Kirche, p. 559 f.
114 Cf. The Sermon of the Salvation, Corp. Conf., Die Kirche von England, p. 453. Justification by faith alone does not exclude "repentance, hope, love, dread, and fear of God, to be joined with faith in every man that is justified; but it shutteth them out from the office of justifying." Wesley follows this homily. See The Principles of a Methodist, 1742, The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 362.
119 Ib., p. 66. Cf. the rejection of Antinomianism in Minutes 1744, The Works of John Wesley, Vill, p. 278. At the final justification, at the Last Judgment, men will be judged according to works, Minutes 1746, The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 289. See below the last chapter.
120 The height, depth, length, and breadth of this law God alone can manifest by his Spirit. The Original, Nature, Property, and Use of the Law, 1750, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, II, p. 44. The Sermon on the Mount expresses the moral commandments clearly, showing that it is not only a question of outward acts, but also of inward temper. Cf. ib., p. 55. See further The Law Established through Faith: II, 1750, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 11, p. 74 f. Above all it is the law of love that is in question here. It is this law that is established through faith. Justification by Faith, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 1, p. 125; The Law Established through Faith: 11, 1750, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 11, p. 80.
129 "From all this we may learn that there is no contrariety at all between the law and the gospel; that there is no need for the law to pass away, in order to the establishing the gospel. Indeed neither of them supersedes the other, but they agree perfectly well together. Yea, the very same words, considered in different respects, are parts both of the law and of the gospel: if they are considered as commandments, they are parts of the law; if as promises, of the gospel. Thus, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart', when considered as a commandment, is a branch of the law; when regarded as a promise, is an essential part of the gospel — the gospel being no other than the commands of the law, proposed by way of promise. Accordingly, poverty of spirit, purity of heart, and whatever else is enjoined in the holy law of God, are no other, when viewed in a gospel light, than so many great and precious promises." The Sermon on the Mount: V, 1748 The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 403. See further in the fifth chapter.
130 The importance Wesley ascribed to the law led, shortly after the new insight into the doctrine of justification, to the breach with Zinzendorf and the Moravian Brethren. See Journal for 26 and 27 June 1740, The Journal of John Wesley, II, p. 360 f.; the letter to Herrnhut, 8 Aug. 1740, The Letters of John Wesley, I, p. 345 ff. Cf. Queries, 1755, p. 17 ff.
In accordance with the first use of the law, the law shall, in the Christian appeal, serve as a means of awakening man. Generally, Wesley says, men comprehend their sin by listening to the demands of Christ's law, not by the Gospel. "There may have been here and there an exempt case. One in a thousand may have been awakened by the gospel: but this is no general rule: the ordinary method of God is, to convict sinners by the law, and that only. The gospel is not the means which God hath ordained, or which our Lord Himself used, for this end." The Law Established through Faith: 1, 1750, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, II, p. 61. For the preaching of the law and the gospel to believers, see ib., p. 64 f. Wesley expounds the question of the law and the gospel in preaching with clarity and fulness in a letter of 20 Dec. 1751, The Letters of John Wesley, III, p. 79 ff.
134 Salvation by Faith, delivered in 1738, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 45: "This then is the salvation which is through faith, even in the present world: a salvation from sin, and the consequences of sin, both often expressed in the word justification; which, taken in the largest sense, implies a deliverance from guilt and punishment, by the atonement of Christ actually applied to the soul of the sinner now believing on Him, and a deliverance from the [whole body] of sin, through Christ formed in his heart. So that he who is thus justified, or saved by faith, is indeed born again. He is born again of the Spirit unto a new life, which 'is hid with Christ in God'." Cf. however Journal, 13 Sept. 1739, where justification and sanctification are said to be "wholly distinct." The Journal of John Wesley, II, p. 275.
135 Justification by Faith, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 1, p. 119. "So that," Wesley continues, "although some rare instances may be found, wherein the term justified or justification is used in so wide a sense as to include sanctification also; yet, in general use, they are sufficiently distinguished from each other, both by St. Paul and the other writers." Ib., p. 119.
Here justification is said to imply remission of sins. "The plain scriptural notion of justification is pardon, the forgiveness of sins. It is that act of God the Father, whereby, for the sake of the propitiation made by the blood of His Son, He 'showeth forth His righteousness' (or mercy) 'by the remission of the sins that are past'. This is the easy, natural account of it given by St. Paul, throughout this whole epistle [Rom.]." Ib., p. 120 f.
137 Here the aim is merely to draw attention to the fundamental relation between the relative change and the real change and not to enter more particularly into the process of sanctification. For this, see next chapter.
138 The Great Privilege of Those That Are Born of God, 1748, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 1, p. 299 f. Cf. Notes 1755, Rom. iv. 9. "Faith was imputed to Abraham, for righteousness — This is fully consistent with our being justified, thro' the Imputation of the Righteousness of Christ, that is, our being pardoned and accepted by God upon our believing, for the sake of what Christ hath done and suffered. For tho' this, and this alone be the meritorious Cause of our Acceptance with God, yet Faith may be said to be imputed to us for righteousness, as it is the sole Condition of our Acceptance. We may observe here, Forgiveness, not imputing sin and imputing righteousness, are all one."
Wesley points out the intimate connection between justification, new birth, and faith. They belong necessarily together. Where one is, the two others also are. Yet they may differ in meaning. Although, Wesley says, the words "regenerate, justified, or believers have not "precisely the same meaning (the first implying an inward, actual change, the second a relative one, and the third the means whereby both the one and the other are wrought), yet they come to one and the same thing; as every one that believes, is both justified and born of God." On Sin in Believers, 1763, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, II, p. 365.
139 Logically justification precedes new birth. "If any doctrines within the whole compass of Christianity may be properly termed 'fundamental', they are doubtless these two, — the doctrine of justification, and that of the new birth: the former relating to that great work which God does for us, in forgiving our sins; the latter, to the great work which God does in us, in renewing our fallen nature. In order of time, neither of these is before the other; in the moment we are justified by the grace of God, through the redemption that is in Jesus, we are also 'born of the Spirit'; but in order of thinking, as it is termed, justification precedes the new birth. We first conceive His wrath to be turned away, and then His Spirit to work in our hearts." The New Birth, 1760, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, II, p. 226 f.
The real change involved in the New Birth is thus defined by Wesley: "It is that great change which God works in the soul when He brings it into life; when He raises it from the death of sin to the life of righteousness. It is the change wrought in the whole soul by the almighty Spirit of God when it is 'created anew in Christ Jesus'; when it is 'renewed after the image of God in righteousness and true holiness'; when the love of the world is changed into the love of God; pride into humility; passion into meekness; hatred, envy, malice, into a sincere, tender, disinterested love for all mankind. In a word, it is that change whereby the earthly, sensual, devilish mind is turned into the 'mind which was in Christ Jesus'. This is the nature of the new birth: 'so is every one that is born of the Spirit'." Ib., p. 234.
140 The Scripture Way of Salvation, 1765, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, II, p. 445 f. Cf. the sermon Working Out Our Own Salvation, 1788, The Works of John Wesley, VI, p. 509: "By justification we are saved from the guilt of sin, and restored to the favour of God; by sanctification we are saved from the power and root of sin, and restored to the image of God."
141 It was during the reading of Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans that Wesley had his evangelical experience of salvation. See Journal, 24 May 1738, The Journal of John Wesley, 1, p. 475 f. In his university sermon on Salvation by Faith, delivered on 11 June of the same year, he emphazises his agreement with Luther. The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 1, p. 51. In Preface to a Treatise on Justification, Extracted from Mr John Goodwin, 1765, he maintains that his view on salvation has not changed. The Works of John Wesley, X, p. 339. Cf. also the letter to John Newton 14 May 1765, in which he also asserts his agreement with the original Reformed conception, although here he refers to Calvin as its representative. The Letters of John Wesley, IV, p. 298. Finally, in the sermon on The Wedding Garment, 1790, he says: "Such has been my judgement for these threescore years, without any material alteration. Only, about fifty years ago I had a clearer view than before of justification by faith; and in this, from that very hour, I never varied, no, not an hair's breadth." The Works of John Wesley, VII, p. 317.
144 This faith, he says, is not only that of the heathens, or that of the devil, or that of the Apostles during Christ's life on Earth. From the heathen's faith it differs by being "a faith in Christ", and from the devil's faith "it is fully distinguished by this: it is not barely a speculative, rational thing, a cold, lifeless assent, a train of ideas in the head; but also a disposition of the heart. For thus saith the Scripture, 'With the heart man believeth unto righteousness'; and, 'If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe with thy heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved'." It differs from the faith of the Apostles during Christ's life on earth by acknowledging "the necessity and merit of His death, and the power of His resurrection. It acknowledges His death as the only sufficient means of redeeming man from death eternal, and His resurrection as the restoration of us all to life and immortality; inasmuch as He 'was delivered for our sins, and rose again for our justification'. Christian faith is, then, not only an assent to the whole gospel of Christ, but also a full reliance on the blood of Christ; a trust in the merits of His life, death, and resurrection; a recumbency upon Him as our atonement and our life, as given for us, and living in us." Salvation by Faith, 1738, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 38 ff.
145 Cf. The Principles of a Methodist, 1742, The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 362. While in general faith is said to be "a divine, supernatural , evidence or conviction, 'of things not seen', not discoverable by our bodiky senses, as being either past, future, or spiritual, justifying faith implies," on the other hand, "not only a divine evidence or conviction that 'God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself', but a sure trust and confidence that Christ died for my sins, that He loved me, and gave Himself for me." Justification by Faith, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 125. The same definition is given in The Scripture Way of Salvation, 1765, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, II, p. 449. Cf. The Marks of the New Birth, 1748, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 1, p. 284 f. and letter, 1 Nov. 1757, The Letters of John Wesley, III, p. 232.
151 Ib., p. 123. "Perhaps those who doubt of this have not duly considered the weighty reason which is here assigned, why no works done before justification can be truly and properly good. The argument plainly runs thus: —
- No works are good, which are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done:
- But no works done before justification are done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done:
- Therefore, no works done before justification are good.
The first proposition is self-evident; and the second — that no works done before justification are done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done — will appear equally plain and undeniable, if we only consider, God hath willed and commanded, that all our works should be done in charity (), in love, in that love to God which produces love to all mankind. But none of our works can be done in this love, while the love of the Father (of God as our Father) is not in us; and this love cannot be in us till we receive the 'Spirit of adoption, crying in our hearts, Abba, Father'. If, therefore, God doth not justify the ungodly, and him that (in this sense) worketh not, then hath Christ died in vain; then, notwithstanding His death, can no flesh living be justied." Ib., p. 124.
152 LANG points out the resemblance to Bunyan, who, he thinks, was not influenced by Cocceius, but followed the line of thought found in Chapter VII of the Westminster Confession. Puritanismus and Pietismus, p. 257, 339. See the text of this chapter in K. MÜLLER, op. cit., p. 558 f.
154 The covenant of works was not established by Moses but by Adam in paradise. The covenant of grace was established by God through Christ immediately afterwards. This was partly manifested after Adam's fall, in the promise in Gen. iii. 15; it was revealed rather more clearly to Abraham (Gen. xxii. 16, 18) and still more clearly to David and the prophets. With Christ the gospel was fully revealed. Ib., p. 136. Cf. Notes, 1755, 1 Tim. i. 10.
171 This is particularly evident in the earlier evangelical sermons. In Salvation by Faith, delivered in 1738, (The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 47 f.) Wesley says: "Of yourselves cometh neither your faith nor your salvation: 'it is the gift of God'; the free, undeserved gift; the faith through which ye are saved, as well as the salvation which He of His own good pleasure, His mere favour, annexes thereto. That ye believe, is one instance of His grace; that believing ye are saved, another. 'Not of works, lest any man should boast'. For all our works, all our righteousness, which were before our believing, merited nothing of God but condemnation; so far were they from deserving faith, which therefore, whenever given, is not of works. Neither is salvation of the works we do when we believe; for it is then God that worketh in us: and therefore, that He giveth us a reward for what He Himself worketh, only commendeth the riches of His mercy, but leaveth us nothing whereof to glory." Cf. Justification by Faith, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 127 ff.: "It does not become poor, guilty, sinful worms, who receive whatsoever blessings they enjoy (from the least drop of water that cools our tongue, to the immense riches of glory in eternity), of grace, of mere favour, and not of debt, to ask of God the reasons of His conduct. It is not meet for us to call Him in question, 'who giveth account to none of His ways'; to demand, Why didst Thou make faith the condition, the only condition, of justification? Wherefore didst Thou decree, He that believeth, and he only, shall be saved? This is the very point on which St. Paul so strongly insists in the ninth chapter of this Epistle, viz. that the terms of pardon and acceptance must depend, not on us, but on Him that calleth us: that there is no unrighteousness with God, in fixing His own terms, not according to ours, but His own good pleasure; who may justly say, 'I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy', namely, on him who believeth in Jesus. 'So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth', to choose the condition on which he shall find acceptance, 'but of God that showeth mercy'; that accepteth none at all, but of His own free love, His unmerited goodness. 'Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy', viz. on those who believe on the Son of His love; 'and whom He will', that is, those who believe not, 'He hardeneth', leaves at last to the hardness of their hearts." See further The Righteousness of Faith, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 143 ff.
175 See Justification by Faith, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 126 f. This sermon was obviously delivered several years before it was printed and published in the first volume of sermons in 1746. See SUGDEN'S introduction, ib., p. 112.
183 Minutes 1745, The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 281 f. Wesley also speaks more favourably of good works before justification than he has done earlier: "Q. 7. Have we duly considered the case of Cornelius? Was he not in the favour of God, when his 'prayers and alms came up for a memorial before God'? that is, before he believed in Christ? A. It does seem that he was, in some degree. But we speak not of those who have not heard the gospel. Q. 8. But were those works of his 'splendid sins'? A. No; nor were they done without the grace of Christ. Q. 9. How then can we maintain, that all works done before we have a sense of the pardoning love of God are sin, and, as such, an abomination to Him? A. The works of him who has heard the gospel, and does not believe, are not done as God hath 'willed and commanded them to be done'. And yet we know not how to say that they are an abomination to the Lord in him who feareth God, and, from that principle, does the best he can." The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 283. This is pointed out by SUGDEN. See his note 2 in The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 37. Cf. Wesley's commentary on Acts x. 4 in Notes, 1755, which Sugden also refers to, ib., p. 37 f.: "Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God — Dare any Man say, These were only splendid Sins? Or that they were an Abomination before God? And yet it is certain, in the Christian Sense, Cornelius was then an Unbeliever. He had not then Faith in Christ. So certain it is, that every one who seeks Faith in Christ, should seek it in Prayer, and doing Good to all Men: Tho' in Strictness, what is not exactly according to the Divine Rule, must stand in need of Divine Favour and Indulgence."
184 A Farther Appeal, 1745, The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 56 f. For the emergence of the theocentric attitude, see The Righteousness of Faith, published in 1746 but delivered earlier. The idea of grace is here so strongly accentuated that repentence can coincide with faith. "Do not say, 'But I am not contrite enough: I am not sensible enough of my sins'. I know it. I would to God thou wert more sensible of them, more contrite a thousand fold than thou art. But do not stay for this. It may be, God will make thee so, not before thou believest, but by believing. It may be, thou wilt not weep much till thou lovest much because thou hast had much forgiven. In the meantime look unto Jesus. Behold, how He loveth thee! What could He have done more for thee which He hath not done? ... Look steadily upon Him, till He looks on thee, and breaks thy hard heart. Then shall thy 'head' be 'waters' and thy 'eyes fountains of tears'." The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 144 f. Wesley also mentions the fruits of repentance, but only in passing. "Nor yet do thou say, 'I must do something more before I come to Christ'. I grant, supposing thy Lord should delay His coming, it were meet and right to wait for His appearing, in doing, so far as thou hast power, whatsoever He hath commanded thee. But there is no necessity for making such a supposition. How knowest thou that He will delay? Perhaps He will appear, as the dayspring from on high, before the morning light. 0 do not set Him a time! Expect Him every hour. Now He is nigh! even at the door!" Ib., p. 145.
185 The Scripture Way of Salvation, 1765, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, II, p. 451 f.: "God does undoubtedly command us both to repent, and to bring forth fruits meet for repentance; which if we willingly neglect, we cannot reasonably expect to be justified at all: therefore both repentance, and fruits meet for repentance, are, in some sense, necessary to justification. But they are not necessary in the same sense with faith, nor in the same degree. Not in the same degree; for those fruits are only necessary conditionally; if there be time and opportunity for them. Otherwise a man may be justified without them, as was the thief upon the cross (if we may call him so; for a late writer has discovered that he was no thief, but a very honest and respectable person!); but he cannot be justified without faith; this is impossible. Likewise, let a man have ever so much repentance, or ever so many of the fruits meet for repentance, yet all this does not at all avail; he is not justified till he believes. But the moment he believes, with or without those fruits, yea, with more or less repentance, he is justified. — Not in the same sense; for repentance and its fruits are only remotely necessary; necessary in order to faith; whereas faith is immediately and directly necessary to justification. It remains, that faith is the only condition which is immediately and proximately necessary to justification."
Cf. Preface to A Treatise on Justification, 1765, The Works of John Wesley, X, p. 322: "The terms of acceptance for fallen man are, repentance and faith. 'Repent ye, and believe the gospel'."
188 The declarations at this 1770 London conference were not sufficiently clearly formulated and could give rise to misunderstanding. Wesley admits as much himself. See the promulgation of the following year, which expressed the doctrines of the conference with greater precision. The Journal of John Wesley, V, p. 427 (facsimile). See the last chapter below.
190 Letter to Several Preachers and Friends, 10 July 1771, The Letters of John Wesley, V, p. 263. That Wesley's view as to how justification is attained, has not undergone any essential change, is shown by his later declarations. See Some Remarks on Mr Hill's 'Review of All Doctrines Taught by Mr John Wesley', 1772. Here, as before, Wesley distinguishes between the condition and the meritorious cause. Christ's justice constitutes the latter, faith the former. Faith is not that, he says, for which we are accepted by God but that through which we are accepted. The Works of John Wesley, X, p. 390.
Wesley's statement (Minutes 1770) that "every believer, till he comes to glory, works for as well as from life" (The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 337) need not, in itself, imply, as IMPETA, (De Leer der Heiliging en Volmaking bij Wesley en Fletcher, p. 401) thinks, a fundamental deviation from his earlier attitude.
192 Minutes 1770, The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 337 f. The last statement in the preceding note probably refers to this, as do the words: "We are rewarded according to our words, yea, because of our works."
195 Cf. also the relations between atonement, justification and sanctification, as expressed in the commentary on Rom. iv. 5 in Notes, 1755: "But to him that worketh not — It being impossible he should without Faith, but believeth — his faith is imputed to him for righteousness — Therefore God's affirming of Abraham, that Faith was imputed to him for righteousness, plainly shows, that he worked not; or in other Words, that he was not justified by Works, but by Faith only. Hence we see plainly, how groundless that Opinion is, that Holiness or Sanctification is previous to our Justification. For the Sinner being first convinced of his Sin and Danger by the Spirit of God, stands trembling before the awful Tribunal of divine Justice; and has nothing to plead, but his own Guilt and the Merits of a Mediator. Christ here interposes. Justice is satisfied: The Sin is remitted, and Pardon is sealed to the Soul, by a divine Faith wrought by the Holy Ghost, who then begins the great work of inward Sanctification. Thus God justifies the ungodly; and yet remains just, and true to all his Attributes! But let none hence presume to continue in Sin. For to the impenitent God is a Consuming fire. On him that justifieth the ungodly — If a Man could possibly be made holy before he was justified, it would entirely set his Justification aside; seeing he could not, in the very Nature of the Thing, be justified, if he were not, at that very time, ungodly."
197 Salvation by Faith, delivered 1738, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, I, p. 41 ff. As early as 1738, with the religious crisis and the resulting change of attitude, we find the idea of a real change occupying an important place in the conception of salvation. Influenced by Peter Böhler and an intense study of the New Testament in Greek, Wesley had become convinced that happiness and holiness were the fruits of a living faith. Besides peace, victory over sin was essential for such a faith. See The Journal of John Wesley, I, p. 447, 454. Wesley's experience on 24 May 1738 fitted in, moreover, with the references to change in Luther's Epistle to the Romans: "About a quarter before nine, while he was discribing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death." And in the following words Wesley speaks of the real change: "I began to pray with all my might for those who had in a more especial manner despitefully used me and persecuted me." The Journal of John Wesley, I, p. 475 f. See also the letter to his brother Samuel, 30 Oct. 1738, in which he says that by a Christian he means "one who so believes in Christ ... that sin hath no more dominion over him." The Letters of John Wesley, I, p. 262.
203 A Blow at the Root, 1762, The Works of John Wesley, X, p. 366. Cf. letter 16 Sept. 1774, The Letters of John Wesley, VI, p. 113. In England Wesley thinks the greatest obstacle is Antinomianism. "But God," he continues, "has already lifted up His standard, and He will maintain His own cause. In the present dispensation He is undoubtedly aiming at that point, to spread holiness over the land. It is our wisdom to have this always in view, inward and outward holiness. A thousand things will be presented by men and devils to divert us from our point. These we are to watch against continually, as they will be continually changing their shape."
206 The Lord Our Righteousness, 1765, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, II, p. 439: "Cry aloud (is there not a cause?) that for this very end the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, that 'the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in us'; and that we may 'live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world'."
210 The First Fruits of the Spirit, 1746, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 1, p. 164 f. It is characteristic of the ethical trend of Wesley's Christianity that he does not point to the gifts of the Spirit but to the fruits according to Gal. v. 22 f. Cf. Scriptural Christianity, delivered 1744, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 1, p. 94.
212 "Thou art not only made free from Jewish ceremonies, from the guilt of sin, and the fear of hell (these are so far from being the whole, that they are the least and lowest part of Christian liberty); but, what is infinitely more, from the power of sin, from serving the devil, from offending God. 0 stand fast in this liberty: in comparison of which, all the rest is not even worthy to be named! Stand fast in loving God with all thy heart, and serving Him with all thy strength! This is perfect freedom; thus to keep His law, and to walk in all His commandments blameless." The Original, Nature, Property, and Use of the Law, 1750, The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 11, p. 56 f.
215 An Earnest Appeal, 1743, The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 3. Cf. ib., p. 8: "what religion do I preach? The religion of love; the law of kindness brought to light by the gospel." In The Way to the Kingdom, 1746, true religion is summed up in "righteousness" or "holiness" and "happiness." The former comprises love to God and fellow creatures; the latter implies peace, assurance of adoption, and joy in the Holy Ghost. The Standard Sermons of John Wesley, 1, p. 148 ff.
222 The Methodists are especially characterized, he says in Advice to the People Called Methodists, 1745, by the fact that they "so strenuously and continually insist on the absolute necessity of universal holiness both in heart and life." The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 353. Cf. Principles of a Methodist Farther Explained, 1746, The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 472: "Our main doctrines, which include all the rest, are three, — that of repentance, of faith, and of holiness. The first of these we account, as it were, the porch of religion; the next, the door; the third, religion itself." See also pp. 474, 477.
God's aim in awakening the Methodists is said to be: "Not to form any new sect; but to reform the nation, particularly the Church; and to spread scriptural holiness over the land." The Large Minutes, The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 299. Methodism is "the doctrine of heart-holiness." Minutes 1770, The Works of John Wesley, VIII, p. 336. Cf. also the letter, 28 Dec. 1773: "We [the Methodists] set out upon two principles: (1) None go to heaven without holiness of heart and life; (2) whosoever follows after this (whatever his opinions be) is my 'brother and sister and mother'. And we have not swerved an hair's breadth from either one or the other of these to this day." The Letters of John Wesley, VI, p. 61.
In his Sermon at the Foundation of City Road Chapel, delivered in 1777, Wesley defines Methodism thus: "'What does this new word mean? Is it not a new religion'? This is a very common, nay, almost an universal, supposition; but nothing can be more remote from the truth. It is a mistake all over. Methodism, so called, is the old religion, the religion of the Bible, the religion of the primitive Church, the religion of the Church of England. This old religion (as I observed in the 'Earnest Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion',) is no other than love, the love of God and of all mankind; the loving God with all our heart, and soul, and strength, as having first loved us, — as the fountain of all the good we have received, and of all we ever hope to enjoy; and the loving every soul which God hath made, every man on earth as our own soul. This love is the great medicine of life; the never-failing remedy for all the evils of a disordered world; all the miseries and vices of men. Wherever this is, there are virtue and happiness going hand in hand; there is humbleness of mind, gentleness, long-suffering, the whole image of God; and, at the same time, a 'peace that passeth all understanding', with 'joy unspeakable and full of glory'. This religion of love, and joy, and peace, has its seat in the inmost soul; but is ever showing itself by its fruits, continually springing up, not only in all innocence, (for love worketh no ill to his neighbour,) but, likewise, in every kind of beneficence, — spreading virtue and happiness to all around it." The Works of John Wesley, VII, p. 423 f.
Finally, the reader is referred to Thoughts upon Methodism, 1786. The essence of Methodism is "holiness of heart and life; the circumstantials all point to this." The Works of John Wesley, XIII, p. 260. The following points are fundamental in the doctrine of the Methodists: "That the Bible is the whole and sole rule both of Christian faith and practice. Hence they learned, (1.) That religion is an inward principle; that it is no other than the mind that was in Christ; or, in other words, the renewal of the soul after the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness. (2.) That this can never be wrought in us, but by the power of the Holy Ghost. (3.) That we receive this, and every other blessing, merely for the sake of Christ: And, (4.) That whosoever hath the mind that was in Christ, the same is our brother, and sister, and mother." Ib., p. 258.