Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Wesley Wednesday: March 15, 2023

 Below, I have provided a few, short excerpts from John Wesley's Sermon 101: "The Duty of Constant Communion."  It is highly regrettable that so many in the Wesleyan tradition have abandoned our spiritual forefather's commitments and advice concerning worship and especially the sacraments, having substituted for it a more Baptist understanding of the Lord's Supper as a mere ordinance.  I am thankful every time I see progress in recapturing Wesley's sacramental theology and passion, which provided a context and foundation for his theology of holiness of heart and life.  -  I highly recommend that all who serve within the Wesleyan tradition read this sermon in its entirety (along with Sermon 16: "The Means of Grace").  It is certainly a foundational piece for all those who would identify as "Wesleyan-Anglican."

    I.3. The grace of God given herein [i.e., in the sacrament] confirms to us the pardon of our sins by enabling us to leave them. As our bodies are strengthened by bread and wine, so are our souls by these tokens of the body and blood of Christ. This is the food of our souls: this gives strength to perform our duty, and leads us on to perfection. If therefore we have any regard for the plain command of Christ, if we desire the pardon of our sins, if we wish for strength to believe, to love and obey God, then we should neglect no opportunity of receiving the Lord's Supper. Then we must never turn our backs on the feast which our Lord has prepared for us. We must neglect no occasion which the good providence of God affords us for this purpose.  This is the true rule - so often are we to receive as God gives us opportunity. Whoever therefore does not receive, but goes from the holy table when all things are prepared, either does not understand his duty or does not care for the dying command of his Saviour, the forgiveness of his sins, the strengthening of his soul, and the refreshing it with the hope of glory.

    4. Let everyone therefore who has either any desire to please God, or any love of his own soul, obey God and consult the good of his own soul by communicating every time he can; like the first Christians, with whom the Christian sacrifice was a constant part of the Lord's day's service. And for several centuries they received it almost every day. Four times a week always, and every saint's day beside. Accordingly those that joined in the prayers of the faithful never failed to partake of the blessed sacrament . . .

    II. 5. Consider the Lord's Supper, secondly, as a mercy from God to man. As God, whose mercy is over all his works, and particularly over the children of men, knew there was but one way for man to be happy like himself, namely, by being like him in holiness; as he knew we could do nothing toward this of ourselves, he has given us certain means of obtaining his help. One of these is the Lord's Supper, which of his infinite mercy he hath given for this very end: that through this means we may be assisted to attain those blessings which he hath prepared for us; that we may obtain holiness on earth and everlasting glory in heaven. 
    I ask, then, why do you not accept of his mercy as often as ever you can? God now offers you his blessing: why do you refuse it? You have an opportunity of receiving his mercy: why do you not receive it? You are weak: why do not you seize upon every opportunity of increasing your strength? In a word: considering this as a command of God, he that does not communicate as often as he can has no piety; considering it as a mercy, he that does not communicate as often as he can has no wisdom. 

(Photo of Wesley's statue at City Road Chapel, London)

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