AVOID FAME & Wesley’s Letter to Asbury re. Cokesbury: “Do Not Seek to be Something”

“O beware, do not seek to be something! Let me be nothing, and ‘Christ be all in all!'” – John Wesley

Letter To Francis Asbury [15]

LONDON, September 20, 1788.

[MY DEAR BROTHER], — There is, indeed, a wide difference between the relation wherein you stand to the Americans and the relation wherein I stand to all the Methodists. You are the elder brother of the American Methodists: I am under God the father of the whole family. Therefore I naturally care for you all in a manner no other persons can do. Therefore I in a measure provide for you all; for the supplies which Dr. Coke provides for you, he could not provide were it not for me, were it not that I not only permit him to collect but also support him in so doing.

But in one point, my dear brother, I am a little afraid both the Doctor and you differ from me. I study to be little: you study to be great. I creep: you strut along. I found a school: you a college! [Cokesbury College, so called after its founders Coke and Asbury, was twice burnt down.] nay, and call it after your own names! O beware, do not seek to be something! Let me be nothing, and ‘Christ be all in all!’

One instance of this, of your greatness, has given me great concern. How can you, how dare you suffer yourself to be called Bishop I shudder, I start at the very thought! Men may call me a knave or a feel, a rascal, a scoundrel, and I am content; but they shall never by my consent call me Bishop! For my sake, for God’s sake, for Christ’s sake put a full end to this! Let the Presbyterians do what they please, but let the Methodists know their calling better.

Thus, my dear Franky, I have told you all that is in my heart. And let this, when I am no more seen, bear witness how sincerely I am

Your affectionate friend and brother.

[15] This is the letter to which Asbury’s diary for March 15, 1789, refers: ‘Here I received a bitter pill from one of my greatest friends. Praise the Lord for my trials also! May they all be sanctified!’ It was the last letter he had from Wesley.

When Wesley directed that a General Conference should be held in 1787 and Whatcoat made Asbury’s colleague, Asbury said that ‘To appoint a joint superintendent with me were stretches of power we did not understand’; and the preachers and people were not willing to accept orders from England now that the Colonies had become independent. Asbury tells his old friend Jasper Winscorn on August 15, 1788: ‘I am a bishop and a beggar; our connection is very poor, our preachers on the frontiers labor the whole year for six or eight pounds. I have opened a house for the education of youth which will cost 4,000 to complete it, and the burden lies chiefly on me; so that I can hardly command my one coat and my yearly allowance.’ See letters of July 17, 1788, and October 31, 1789.

John Telford, ed., The Letters of John Wesley, A.M., 8 vols. (London: Epworth Press, 1931), p. 257 (retrieved from http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-letters-of-john-wesley/wesleys-letters-1788b/)

THEOLOGY & Wesley’s 3rd Option Genius: Combining Gratuity of Grace (Luther, Calvin) w/ Formative Power of Tempers (Catholic)

From John Wesley: A Theological Journey, by Kenneth J. Collins (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003).

WEsley's theological genesis copy.jpg

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LUKEWARM & Wesley’s Quote About It Being a Worse Fate Than Open Sin

From John Wesley: A Theological Journey, by Kenneth J. Collins (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003).

wesley-quote-on-lukewarm-copy

CONVERSION & Sanctification is “the progressive, lifelong aspect of conversion” according to Willimon

wesley-willimon-quote-on-holistic-conversion-copy

William Willimon, Pastor: The theology and practice of ordained ministry (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002, p. 363.

HISTORY & Why did the English once try to ban Christmas, just one generation before John Wesley’s birth?

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Why did the English parliamentarian Thomas Cromwell, along with some English Puritans, try to abolish Christmas as a secular holiday? Well, it wasn’t the average committed Puritan who sought this, but rather an extreme and small group that felt Christmas was being overshadowed by secular and often sinful celebration. Read this article for a brief background.

Did Oliver Cromwell really ban Christmas?

In June 1647 Parliament passed an Ordinance that abolished Christmas Day as a feast day and holiday

by Jonny Wilkes, BBC History Magazine, 12/22/15.

While Cromwell certainly supported the move, and subsequent laws imposing penalties for those who continued to enjoy Christmas, he does not seem to have played much of a role in leading the campaign.

Throughout the medieval period, Christmas Day had been marked by special church services, and by magnificent feasts accompanied by heavy drinking. The subsequent 12 Days of Christmas saw more special services along with sports, games and more eating and drinking.

By the early 17th Century Puritans and other firm Protestants were seeing the Christmas jollifications as unwelcome survivors of Catholicism as well as excuses for all manner of sins.

There was a widespread, though minority view, that Christmas should be a fast day devoted to sober religious contemplation. The defeat of King Charles I in the Civil War put the more extreme Protestants into power and so Parliament passed a series of measures to enforce this campaign on others…

Read more at … http://www.historyextra.com/feature/no-christmas-under-cromwell-puritan-assault-christmas-during-1640s-and-1650s

Wesley & the Poor: You cannot help only at a distance

“But is there need of visiting them in person?

May we not relieve them at a distance?

Does it not answer the same purpose if we send them help as if we carry it ourselves?’

… But this is not properly ‘visiting the sick’; it is another thing. The word which we render ‘visit’ in its literal acceptation means to ‘look upon’. And this, you well know, cannot be done unless you are present with them.

Wesley, J. (2013). “On Visiting the Sick,” in The sermons of John Wesley: A collection for the Christian journey. K.J. Collins & J.E. Vickers (Eds.). Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, Kindle Edition.  (The above was cited by Barb R. in LEAD 600.  Good sleuthing Barb.)

WESLEY & A Comparison of His 3 Types of Existance

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/5/15.

John Wesley noted that people generally existed in a journey through three waypoints (or stages): natural existence, legal existence and evangelical existence.  Put forth most famously in Wesley’s “The Spirit of Bondage and the Spirit of Adoption” (1746), Thomas Oden’s helpful introduction prepares the reader to understand these important waypoints in spiritual discovery.

These categories are not too dissimilar to my friend and colleague Ed Stetzer’s categories of “cultural Christians” (somewhere between Wesley’s natural-legal continuum) and “conversion Christians.”  In Stetzer’s typology, Wesley’s conversion took place at Aldersgate. But since in Wesley’s day “evangelical” did not have today’s negative media connotation (and hence perhaps Stetzer’s aversion to its use), I believe that if Wesley lived today, due to his emphasis upon conversion, he would embrace Stetzer’s designation of “conversion Christian.” Wesley certainly after his Aldersgate experience places conversion as the fulcrum upon which his methodology and theology would emerge.

Here is a screenshot of Oden’s helpful introduction to the idea:

oden-on-wesley-on-conversion

Buy the book at … https://books.google.com/books?id=8qqtss5N6cYC&pg=PA277&dq=John+wesley+natural+legal+evangelical&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwipxrLx_MTJAhUF6CYKHSUsDTYQ6AEIHTAA#v=onepage&q=John%20wesley%20natural%20legal%20evangelical&f=false

Hear more about John Wesley’s conversion and his experience of the interplay of these three existences at …http://livestre.am/5fQ0e