Do Christians Today Really Live in Two Worlds?

GinLane

Gin Lane, a print issued in 1751 by English artist William Hogarth — depicting the misery caused by widespread consumption of gin among England’s poor.

In the fifties of the last century the late Mary Alice Tenney, head of the English Department of Greenville College, wrote a little book called, Living in Two Worlds: How a Christian Does It.

It was really made up of elements from her doctoral work on John Wesley and the Methodist Revival in Eighteenth Century England, and was written to appeal to lay readers. In an introductory note she writes, “This book is written first of all to people who want to be really Christian.”

In North America, we readily acknowledge that our culture has been in a moral decline over the last sixty or so years. Yet Dr. Tenney explains that the state of affairs in England was gravely worse at the time of the Methodist Revival.

Life there was almost unimaginably coarse and dehumanized. Here are some of my gleanings from her book:

“As for family life in England, divorce, of course, could not be obtained. But a double standard of morality wrecked full as many homes as divorce would have. Prostitution was an accepted, and even protected, institution among all classes, a subject of humor in the literature and art of the intellectuals and the aristocratic, and a heavy contributor to the beastliness of the lower classes.”

“Hanging was the punishment for 160 different sorts of offenses. Many a day saw ten or fifteen hangings – spectacles attended by mobs of sensation–mad men and women. Grandstand seats were provided; hawkers peddled broadsheets recording Dying Speeches. Gin was sold at stands; pickpockets and prostitutes circulated freely.”

Dr. Tenney’s book subsequently focuses on the lifestyle practices of the early Methodists, so she says little about Wesley’s theology. I dub in here a thought about that: Wesley’s preaching was in line with the English Reformation – Justification by Faith Alone; The Witness of the Spirit; Good Works flowing from faith and as evidence of that faith; Salvation by Grace through Faith; etc.

To Wesley and his converts, the unseen world was real.

Dr. Tenney writes:

“The surest evidence that God is what the Bible claims him to be, the One and only God, the All-Wise, the All-Powerful and the All-Loving, is the moral transformation which he works in a sinner. The revolution that occurs in a human being who believes God so fully as to give Him complete control over his life constitutes a supernatural event. Christianity is the only religion which carries with it any such moral empowerment. It performs the miracles promised by the Bible.”

Dr. Tenney pinpoints the a major aspects of Wesley’s life and teaching that we would be wise to adopt in this present materialistic world of ours:

“Four attainments clearly distinguish the early Methodists from the modern professing Christian. First he seems to have found the secret of soul serenity. Second, he gave convincing witness to his business and social world. Thirdly, he contributed amazing amounts to the work of his church. Fourthly, he lived a life of such appealing simplicity that the concept of ‘plain living and high thinking’ finally penetrated the thought of the whole nation.”

Methodism was a Heaven-sent awakening. It was God’s doing. John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield and others were only God’s instruments, making themselves available to him. Would anyone question that it is time for another such awakening on this continent to bring both moral sanity and joy back to many lives?

It could start with us who are already Christ followers: more daily attention to the Book; greater time commitment and intensity for that daily prayer time; rebuilt family altars; increased devotion to the ministries of the church; cleared up unfinished business with family or fellow believers; partnership with other  believers concerned for renewal.

Of course renewal is God’s work. It always begins with Him. But there is an interesting challenge in the Scriptures which is repeated often and speaks to us of our part: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13)

 

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4 thoughts on “Do Christians Today Really Live in Two Worlds?

  1. SO thankful me to write and greet you in encourage to move on in faith and in unseen the wolrd in grace and see how beautiful that are in to exeprience heeaven with us in the Holy Spirit and that the world are amazing for our joy in Christ in blessing and our love too another are so wonderful pleasure in God,thanks and bless and pray,keijo sweden

  2. Mary Alice Tenney’s book sounds very interesting.I understand it was published on New Years Day 1958,by Life and Light.On Mary ‘s Amazon page,I see she’s written at least two other books – ‘Blueprint for a Christian world; An analysis of the Wesleyan way’ (1953) & ‘Adventures in Christian love ‘ (1964),

    Both titles look interesting too.Seeking more about her.I came across Susie C. Stanley’s ‘Social Holiness as a Means of Realizing the New Creation’ ,an essay available online.This essay points to a forthcoming book,,maybe published now – Susie C Stanley’s ‘Holy Boldness: Women Preachers Autobiographies & the Sanctified Self ‘ (University of Tennessee Press).

    I’m glad to learn of Mary Alice Tenneya’s work & leading on from this Susie C Stanley’s writing. John Wesley and inspirational Holy women / Holiness women , through the ages,are two subjects of special interest.This weeks blog has me embarking on another voyage of discovery.

    Dr Tenney’s right to point to appaling moral decline at the time of the first Revival,

    Hogarth’s finely detailed mid century engraving ,’Gin Lane’ has apalled me since I first saw a copy in school. The central image is utterly shocking.A poor woman is so inebriated with gin ,she carelessly lets her baby fall from a height so great it will be fatal for the infant.We are caught suspended in the deadful moment.The most basic human good instinct ,a mother’s loving care for her child,is here undermined & corrupted by strong licquor. Gin addiction was a mid eighteenth century plague in London & other English cities.

    Back then,though divorce was unobtainable for any but the extremely rich and priveleged ,I understand a very high proportion of couples were not truly man & wife,but remained unmarried ,their union a sham .They merely assumed or pretended wedlock.Consumation without the marriage !

    In Wesley’s times widespread prostitution was accepted & condoned. Worse, so was child prostitution. This continued into the 19th century,as one can read in the pages of Thomas De Quincey’s autobiographical confession ,that English Literature classic ,’Confessions Of An English Opium Eater’ (1821).Ann ,whose surname De Quincey never learns,is a child prostitute working on Oxford Street ,London She saves him when he is starving.

    Some places have been so notorious for vice & corruption they got mamed Sodom.Not all Sodm’s ,however. Sodom in Shetland,Scotland has it’s name from a contraction of South Home. But in the late 19th century , there was a Sodom named for vice , ,in Ontario .It was near Bluewater,but is now as vanished as the one in Genesis. If any place deserved the name ,it was the London of Wesley’s day.

    Vice and corruption in London was on a scale that brings to mind the Sodom in Genesis.Wesley preached in a thoroughly depraved society.England was a bestial place .

    As for the cruel Social and Economic History of Britain ‘ one can read diary extracts & interviews with children who were set to work underground in the coalmines.One,a 5 year old little girl spent most of her 24 hours underground ,like a pit pony ,hauling coal trucks.A 5 year old ! It makes one weep,and she wasn’t the youngest so abused !. This wasn’t exceptional ,a rare one off.This was standard industrial practise.For these children life must have been a hell on earth and they knew no other .Such human depravity beggars belief. This is the depth of sin for which Jesus was a blameless sacrifice.

    The state of the church & society in 18th century England cried out for a person like John Wesley to make a difference. The Lord heard the cry & answered ,providing John Wesley,Down the ages,,at the right time,God has provided the right prophet or leader .Through the Holy Spirit, He inspired John Wesley, calling him to entire faith on the evening of 24 May 1738 in London Aldersgate ,

    Soul serenity came to John Wesley after his Aldersgate conversion. Reading in his diary entries ,he was less serene in his earlier days,especially during his mission to America. In other entries it’s apparent John was very concerned to resist overstepping the bounds of friendship with his many women friends.He corresponded , on faith, with very many women friends and loved the intelligence & perception he found in female company.But knowing himself a man of flesh & blood ,he was very aware of the temptations of the flesh,and being a good man ,worked hard to resist them

    I don’t think this was a problem to Wesley after his Aldergate conversion.For me,Wesley’s earlier temptations makes his book on Christian Perfection all the more valuable.He has lived what he talks about.Methodism was a heaven sent awakening & John had his own heaven sent awakening,in London,that May evening in 1738.

    Wesley found peace in perfect love ,at last.And now he really started to evangelize Christ’s great good message.He led the great faith Revival of Methodism ,working for a renewed Christianity – back to where it was in the church 2 millenia ago .This was back to a Christianity with a social conscience ,based on love for all others ,of all classes & races.He gave of his income to provide for the poor . With William Wilberforce he worked for the abolition of slavery Wesley touched other’s hearts & consciences ,inspiring them to greater love to others .This was to be achieved through renouncing sin ,by completely surrendering to God ,empowered in the Holy Spirit.He taught that in this life nothing less will do than to be perfect in love.

    As the Lord inspired Paul to say in 1 Corinthians 13 , we can gain nothing good but through Jesus’s Way of Love.

    ”If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 cor 13 : 1-3

    Only a perfect ,holy life of love will do.

    As the Lord inspired His srvant Paul ,to tell us in Romans 13 :10 , love is what God calls us to and asks of us.Love is the fulfillment of God’s Law.This was the message Wesley preached to corrupt 18th century England,God’s own mwessage !

    Wesley,a man conscious of his own weaknesses,used his weaknesses as a spur to seek holiness of life , inspired by Jesus Christ. Living a holy life,he found God’s perfect , that calm ,pure ,holy way of life that is Christ’s Way of Love.Wesley was a breath of fresh air ,sorely needed in 18th century England.

    John Wesley was so very effective in countering the mire of Georgian England ,through hiis outreach.Following George Whitefield’s practise,but not his doctrine of salvation only for a pre chosen elect ,he preached to huge crowds outdoors .Importantly ,he ensured his books were sold so cheaply even the poor could afford them. The word spread.

    I’ve found John Wesley’s writings a treasure trove Not because they impart more knowledge to accumulate,but because they do what all good books of faith should do.. They.help one live a better & more Christian life.Wesley’s language is slightly archaic to our ears but one soon adapts to the 18th century style & idioms .I’ve even come to treasure this style.

    Already existing is a 32 volume edition of Wesley.There’s a 20 volume edition of his journals alone.Now the bicentennial edition of Wesley’s writings stretches to 26 volumes so far & I’ve a feeling that’s just the tip of the iceberg ! I don’t think Wesley’s bible commentaries or his Christian Perfection have even been printed in this edition yet ,nor many other of his books. A lifetime of writing !

    I read in one of his biographies ,that John used to write on horseback as he rode around the country from place to place ,preaching outdoors.He was a man of boundless energy ,still riding by horse to preach even in his elder years.Long distances he rode ,too.He made time by rising extremely early.

    I think I’d need more than one life’s time just to read those 26 volumes so far printed ,,let alone write them,even if I could.There are 4 volumes of sermons,7 volumes of his diaries & 2 of his letters so far printed in the Bicentennial edition..Then 2 volumes on the Methodist societies,which include minutes.I’ve read a few of his diary entries,a few letters & one or two sermons so far,i an anthology.

    ‘A Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People Called Methodists.’ is one volume that really stands out. I think everyone knows some of his hymns & particularly those pf his brother Charles,with which they are joined.

    I’ve found Wesley’s ‘Notes on the New Testament ‘(1755) invaluable & it can be dipped into as reference during bible reading.By it’s very explanatory nature it’s considerably longer than the New Testament.I’m pretty sure there’s an Old Testament companion too ,which I haven’t seen yet.

    Perhaps Wesley’s core book is ‘A Plain Account of Christian Perfection’ (1766).It was written & revised throughout his lifetime.That, I have read & often refer back to it.

    I’ve read some of John & his brother’s poetical works ,but not many.One day I’d like to read Wesley’s ‘The Doctrine of Original Sin’ (1757) & at least read a bit of one of the 3 volumes of his ‘ An Earnest Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion (1743)

    I’ll probably never get round to reading his healing book ‘Primitive Physic’ or any of his book on the new phenomenon of electricity.He was fascinated with & liked to experiment with electricity in ways we’d consider dangerous today.I remember reading this in primary school in a childrens Ladybird Book of John Wesley.It had full page pictures on every page, and is now reprinted by one of the British Methodist denominations..

    Read ,in conjunction with the Scriptures,the writings of Johh Wesley,leader of the Great Awakening, provide a lifetime’s inspiration .

    One could reasonably say there was another Awakening, – in the middle of a different century ,the 19th .In New York,USA ,the Methodist Episcopal Church had become jaded. It was the 1850s, just prior to the abolition of slavery,the era of the American Civil War.Hard to imagine now, but many Christians ,even Methodists, and even Methodists serving as leaders, thought slavery was perfectly acceptable & compatible with Christ’s two great Commandments of Love.

    .Or at least so they claimed..It may have been human selfishness,greed and sin which motivated them.Humans can be like that ,for even the best of us can backslide ,having it in our sinful human nature ever since the Eden Fall.Which is why we needed Jesus Christ and why we need the church in the first place.

    In 1850s New York,,the era of the American Civil War,just before the abolition of slavery,many wanted to cling onto their privileges & lifestyle ,regardless of the suffering of others that supported this lifestyle.Mammon ,not the Lord ,had become their God & they’d become corrupt.Good Methodists were called by the Lord to initiate a new Awakening.

    Something similar had happened earlier in Philadelphia .In St George’s Methodist Church ,African Americans had been segreagated from white folk in church for decades.They weren’t allowed to sit & worship in the pews.

    Absalom Jones ,kneeling in prayer,was roughly pulled from worship and pushed to the back of the church.Most of the white congregation approved. So Richard Allen led away effected congregants to a blacksmith’s shop he bought, to set up a new place of worship for them .This became ‘Bethel Church For Negro Methodists’.

    In 1816,organizing with likehearted congregations ,Allen founded a new denomination ,the African Episcopal Methodist Church.Methodist Bishop, Francis Ashbury ordained him & he was elected the new dnomination’s forst bishop.The denomination survives to this day ,having nearly 2 million members ,according to Ron Rhodes ‘Christian Denominations ‘ ( 2005).

    Then,in In Eastern New York ,a group of Methodists led by Benjamin Titus Roberts began to resist the departure of Methodism from it’s true founding biblical principals.,This group included Benjamin’s wife Ellen,an earnest & active Christian .Ellen was cousin Harriet Beecher Stowe ( writer of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’)

    Many leaders & members of the Methodist church in New York were accepting of slavery.They ,charged money to sit in the best pews in church. Methodist services had become constrained by over -formalism. Closed societies antipathetic to Christianity,,e.g.Freemasonry,were joined by some & accepted by others.

    What little I’ve learned of these societies is that they come very close to idolatrous & blasphemous practises.They swear violent & murderous oaths & there are even veiled references to false gods.But the principal point Benjamin Roberts was ,I think,making ,is that Christians should be free and open,not skulking in dubious closed secret societies.They hide no secrets from the Lord.

    The Free Methodist Church was called free in that it stood for being

    FREE from slavery

    FREE to worship for rich and poor – no charging for the best pews.

    FREE to worship according to the Spirit ,without the dead hand of constraining formalism.

    FREE and open sharing truth with all .No elite cliques,no Secret Societies.

    Incidentally ,B.T.Roberts spoke very methodically,with supporting reference to the Bible, for female ministry.His ‘Ordaining Women’ was published in the 1800s.,So this was another freedom – the freedom for women to play a full part in Christian ministry.This ideal was later incorporated into Free Methodism ,after resistance by some.Later,but much earlier than the Church of England ,which only started ordaining women to ministry in 1994..

    Benjamin Roberts & like hearted Methodists sought to guide the church back from this state to it’s original ways. They sought to renew the faith of their Christian brothers & sisters ,out of love for God & love for their fellow congregants.For this they were treated shamefully.They were locked out of at least one church & threatened with having the dogs set on them. Eventually Benjamin Titus Roberts & others were expelled for what God called them to do.

    Later,after Benjamin’s death, the church repented & asked his children for forgiveness.But for now,those expelled and their supporters organized to renew their church.

    The story of Benjamin Titus & Ellen Roberts is told in some excellent books.Thoroughly comprehensive is Howard Snyder’s ‘Poulist Saints :B.T.& Ellen Roberts and the first Free Methodists’ ( 2006).This is a huge book,fascinating and ideal for reference.

    ‘B.T.and Ellen Roberts and the First Free Methodists'( 2011) is an abridgement of Howard Snyder’s authoritative classic , by Daniel V.Runyon , helped by some of his seminary students.It was sponsored by the commitee on Free Methodist History and Archives.It’s a very readable and human story which really does read like a story.

    I recently acquired ‘The Bishop and his Lady’ by Esther Roberts ,published by Light and Life Press ( 1962).This is intended for Free Methodist teenagers to help them learn about the foundation of their church.Esther is no relation to Benjamin and Ellen,though I think she studied in the same part of New York where Free Methodism began.I think it’s a perfect book for any age.I left my teens behind many decades ago but it was right for me.

    On August 23d,The Free Methodist Church Of North America had it’s birth.4 years ago the church had it’s 150th birthday and will be 154 in 8 days time.

    I am sure that just as every church , both local & universal,it will face temptations to backslide and have to renew itself from time to time.So it has been since Exodus,when Moses led his backsliding people out of Israel.,onward to Canaan’s land.But the Lord always inspires fresh individuals,true to Him, to bring His family(which is His church ) back to His Light.

    As always ,this weeks blog has inspired me to think about my Christian life,,to organize my thoughts and explore further.and really think what it means to live as a Christian,that is to live as God want us to.Pastor ,your blog ends with

    “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13)

    This reminds me of Christ’s First Commandment,to love God with all our heart and strength.By this we will love others as ourselves.By this we shall come to know the Lord,our God.

  3. Mary Alice Tenney’s book sounds very interesting.I understand it was published on New Years Day 1958,by Life and Light.On Mary ‘s Amazon page,I see she’s written at least two other books – ‘Blueprint for a Christian world; An analysis of the Wesleyan way’ (1953) & ‘Adventures in Christian love ‘ (1964),

    Both titles look interesting too.Seeking more about her.I came across Susie C. Stanley’s ‘Social Holiness as a Means of Realizing the New Creation’ ,an essay available online.This essay points to a forthcoming book,,maybe published now – Susie C Stanley’s ‘Holy Boldness: Women Preachers Autobiographies & the Sanctified Self ‘ (University of Tennessee Press).

    I’m glad to learn of Mary Alice Tenneya’s work & leading on from this Susie C Stanley’s writing. John Wesley and inspirational Holy women / Holiness women , through the ages,are two subjects of special interest.This weeks blog has me embarking on another voyage of discovery.

    Dr Tenney’s right to point to appaling moral decline at the time of the first Revival,

    Hogarth’s finely detailed mid century engraving ,’Gin Lane’ has apalled me since I first saw a copy in school. The central image is utterly shocking.A poor woman is so inebriated with gin ,she carelessly lets her baby fall from a height so great it will be fatal for the infant.We are caught suspended in the deadful moment.The most basic human good instinct ,a mother’s loving care for her child,is here undermined & corrupted by strong licquor. Gin addiction was a mid eighteenth century plague in London & other English cities.

    Back then,though divorce was unobtainable for any but the extremely rich and priveleged ,I understand a very high proportion of couples were not truly man & wife,but remained unmarried ,their union a sham .They merely assumed or pretended wedlock.Consumation without the marriage !

    In Wesley’s times widespread prostitution was accepted & condoned. Worse, so was child prostitution. This continued into the 19th century,as one can read in the pages of Thomas De Quincey’s autobiographical confession ,that English Literature classic ,’Confessions Of An English Opium Eater’ (1821).Ann ,whose surname De Quincey never learns,is a child prostitute working on Oxford Street ,London She saves him when he is starving.

    Some places have been so notorious for vice & corruption they got mamed Sodom.Not all Sodm’s ,however. Sodom in Shetland,Scotland has it’s name from a contraction of South Home. But in the late 19th century , there was a Sodom named for vice , ,in Ontario .It was near Bluewater,but is now as vanished as the one in Genesis. If any place deserved the name ,it was the London of Wesley’s day.

    Vice and corruption in London was on a scale that brings to mind the Sodom in Genesis.Wesley preached in a thoroughly depraved society.England was a bestial place .

    As for the cruel Social and Economic History of Britain ‘ one can read diary extracts & interviews with children who were set to work underground in the coalmines.One,a 5 year old little girl spent most of her 24 hours underground ,like a pit pony ,hauling coal trucks.A 5 year old ! It makes one weep,and she wasn’t the youngest so abused !. This wasn’t exceptional ,a rare one off.This was standard industrial practise.For these children life must have been a hell on earth and they knew no other .Such human depravity beggars belief. This is the depth of sin for which Jesus was a blameless sacrifice.

    The state of the church & society in 18th century England cried out for a person like John Wesley to make a difference. The Lord heard the cry & answered ,providing John Wesley,Down the ages,,at the right time,God has provided the right prophet or leader .Through the Holy Spirit, He inspired John Wesley, calling him to entire faith on the evening of 24 May 1738 in London Aldersgate ,

    Soul serenity came to John Wesley after his Aldersgate conversion. Reading in his diary entries ,he was less serene in his earlier days,especially during his mission to America. In other entries it’s apparent John was very concerned to resist overstepping the bounds of friendship with his many women friends.He corresponded , on faith, with very many women friends and loved the intelligence & perception he found in female company.But knowing himself a man of flesh & blood ,he was very aware of the temptations of the flesh,and being a good man ,worked hard to resist them

    I don’t think this was a problem to Wesley after his Aldergate conversion.For me,Wesley’s earlier temptations makes his book on Christian Perfection all the more valuable.He has lived what he talks about.Methodism was a heaven sent awakening & John had his own heaven sent awakening,in London,that May evening in 1738.

    Wesley found peace in perfect love ,at last.And now he really started to evangelize Christ’s great good message.He led the great faith Revival of Methodism ,working for a renewed Christianity – back to where it was in the church 2 millenia ago .This was back to a Christianity with a social conscience ,based on love for all others ,of all classes & races.He gave of his income to provide for the poor . With William Wilberforce he worked for the abolition of slavery Wesley touched other’s hearts & consciences ,inspiring them to greater love to others .This was to be achieved through renouncing sin ,by completely surrendering to God ,empowered in the Holy Spirit.He taught that in this life nothing less will do than to be perfect in love.

    As the Lord inspired Paul to say in 1 Corinthians 13 , we can gain nothing good but through Jesus’s Way of Love.

    ”If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 cor 13 : 1-3

    Only a perfect ,holy life of love will do.

    As the Lord inspired His srvant Paul ,to tell us in Romans 13 :10 , love is what God calls us to and asks of us.Love is the fulfillment of God’s Law.This was the message Wesley preached to corrupt 18th century England,God’s own mwessage !

    Wesley,a man conscious of his own weaknesses,used his weaknesses as a spur to seek holiness of life , inspired by Jesus Christ. Living a holy life,he found God’s perfect , that calm ,pure ,holy way of life that is Christ’s Way of Love.Wesley was a breath of fresh air ,sorely needed in 18th century England.

    John Wesley was so very effective in countering the mire of Georgian England ,through hiis outreach.Following George Whitefield’s practise,but not his doctrine of salvation only for a pre chosen elect ,he preached to huge crowds outdoors .Importantly ,he ensured his books were sold so cheaply even the poor could afford them. The word spread.

    I’ve found John Wesley’s writings a treasure trove Not because they impart more knowledge to accumulate,but because they do what all good books of faith should do.. They.help one live a better & more Christian life.Wesley’s language is slightly archaic to our ears but one soon adapts to the 18th century style & idioms .I’ve even come to treasure this style.

    Already existing is a 32 volume edition of Wesley.There’s a 20 volume edition of his journals alone.Now the bicentennial edition of Wesley’s writings stretches to 26 volumes so far & I’ve a feeling that’s just the tip of the iceberg ! I don’t think Wesley’s bible commentaries or his Christian Perfection have even been printed in this edition yet ,nor many other of his books. A lifetime of writing !

    I read in one of his biographies ,that John used to write on horseback as he rode around the country from place to place ,preaching outdoors.He was a man of boundless energy ,still riding by horse to preach even in his elder years.Long distances he rode ,too.He made time by rising extremely early.

    I think I’d need more than one life’s time just to read those 26 volumes so far printed ,,let alone write them,even if I could.There are 4 volumes of sermons,7 volumes of his diaries & 2 of his letters so far printed in the Bicentennial edition..Then 2 volumes on the Methodist societies,which include minutes.I’ve read a few of his diary entries,a few letters & one or two sermons so far,i an anthology.

    ‘A Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People Called Methodists.’ is one volume that really stands out. I think everyone knows some of his hymns & particularly those pf his brother Charles,with which they are joined.

    I’ve found Wesley’s ‘Notes on the New Testament ‘(1755) invaluable & it can be dipped into as reference during bible reading.By it’s very explanatory nature it’s considerably longer than the New Testament.I’m pretty sure there’s an Old Testament companion too ,which I haven’t seen yet.

    Perhaps Wesley’s core book is ‘A Plain Account of Christian Perfection’ (1766).It was written & revised throughout his lifetime.That, I have read & often refer back to it.

    I’ve read some of John & his brother’s poetical works ,but not many.One day I’d like to read Wesley’s ‘The Doctrine of Original Sin’ (1757) & at least read a bit of one of the 3 volumes of his ‘ An Earnest Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion (1743)

    I’ll probably never get round to reading his healing book ‘Primitive Physic’ or any of his book on the new phenomenon of electricity.He was fascinated with & liked to experiment with electricity in ways we’d consider dangerous today.I remember reading this in primary school in a childrens Ladybird Book of John Wesley.It had full page pictures on every page, and is now reprinted by one of the British Methodist denominations..

    Read ,in conjunction with the Scriptures,the writings of Johh Wesley,leader of the Great Awakening, provide a lifetime’s inspiration .

    One could reasonably say there was another Awakening, – in the middle of a different century ,the 19th .In New York,USA ,the Methodist Episcopal Church had become jaded. It was the 1850s, just prior to the abolition of slavery,the era of the American Civil War.Hard to imagine now, but many Christians ,even Methodists, and even Methodists serving as leaders, thought slavery was perfectly acceptable & compatible with Christ’s two great Commandments of Love.

    .Or at least so they claimed..It may have been human selfishness,greed and sin which motivated them.Humans can be like that ,for even the best of us can backslide ,having it in our sinful human nature ever since the Eden Fall.Which is why we needed Jesus Christ and why we need the church in the first place.

    In 1850s New York,,the era of the American Civil War,just before the abolition of slavery,many wanted to cling onto their privileges & lifestyle ,regardless of the suffering of others that supported this lifestyle.Mammon ,not the Lord ,had become their God & they’d become corrupt.Good Methodists were called by the Lord to initiate a new Awakening.

    Something similar had happened earlier in Philadelphia .In St George’s Methodist Church ,African Americans had been segreagated from white folk in church for decades.They weren’t allowed to sit & worship in the pews.

    Absalom Jones ,kneeling in prayer,was roughly pulled from worship and pushed to the back of the church.Most of the white congregation approved. So Richard Allen led away effected congregants to a blacksmith’s shop he bought, to set up a new place of worship for them .This became ‘Bethel Church For Negro Methodists’.

    In 1816,organizing with likehearted congregations ,Allen founded a new denomination ,the African Episcopal Methodist Church.Methodist Bishop, Francis Ashbury ordained him & he was elected the new dnomination’s forst bishop.The denomination survives to this day ,having nearly 2 million members ,according to Ron Rhodes ‘Christian Denominations ‘ ( 2005).

    Then,in In Eastern New York ,a group of Methodists led by Benjamin Titus Roberts began to resist the departure of Methodism from it’s true founding biblical principals.,This group included Benjamin’s wife Ellen,an earnest & active Christian .Ellen was cousin Harriet Beecher Stowe ( writer of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’)

    Many leaders & members of the Methodist church in New York were accepting of slavery.They ,charged money to sit in the best pews in church. Methodist services had become constrained by over -formalism. Closed societies antipathetic to Christianity,,e.g.Freemasonry,were joined by some & accepted by others.

    What little I’ve learned of these societies is that they come very close to idolatrous & blasphemous practises.They swear violent & murderous oaths & there are even veiled references to false gods.But the principal point Benjamin Roberts was ,I think,making ,is that Christians should be free and open,not skulking in dubious closed secret societies.They hide no secrets from the Lord.

    The Free Methodist Church was called free in that it stood for being

    FREE from slavery

    FREE to worship for rich and poor – no charging for the best pews.

    FREE to worship according to the Spirit ,without the dead hand of constraining formalism.

    FREE and open sharing truth with all .No elite cliques,no Secret Societies.

    Incidentally ,B.T.Roberts spoke very methodically,with supporting reference to the Bible, for female ministry.His ‘Ordaining Women’ was published in the 1800s.,So this was another freedom – the freedom for women to play a full part in Christian ministry.This ideal was later incorporated into Free Methodism ,after resistance by some.Later,but much earlier than the Church of England ,which only started ordaining women to ministry in 1994..

    Benjamin Roberts & like hearted Methodists sought to guide the church back from this state to it’s original ways. They sought to renew the faith of their Christian brothers & sisters ,out of love for God & love for their fellow congregants.For this they were treated shamefully.They were locked out of at least one church & threatened with having the dogs set on them. Eventually Benjamin Titus Roberts & others were expelled for what God called them to do.

    Later,after Benjamin’s death, the church repented & asked his children for forgiveness.But for now,those expelled and their supporters organized to renew their church.

    The story of Benjamin Titus & Ellen Roberts is told in some excellent books.Thoroughly comprehensive is Howard Snyder’s ‘Poulist Saints :B.T.& Ellen Roberts and the first Free Methodists’ ( 2006).This is a huge book,fascinating and ideal for reference.

    ‘B.T.and Ellen Roberts and the First Free Methodists'( 2011) is an abridgement of Howard Snyder’s authoritative classic , by Daniel V.Runyon , helped by some of his seminary students.It was sponsored by the commitee on Free Methodist History and Archives.It’s a very readable and human story which really does read like a story.

    I recently acquired ‘The Bishop and his Lady’ by Esther Roberts ,published by Light and Life Press ( 1962).This is intended for Free Methodist teenagers to help them learn about the foundation of their church.Esther is no relation to Benjamin and Ellen,though I think she studied in the same part of New York where Free Methodism began.I think it’s a perfect book for any age.I left my teens behind many decades ago but it was right for me.

    On August 23d,The Free Methodist Church Of North America had it’s birth.4 years ago the church had it’s 150th birthday and will be 154 in 8 days time.

    I am sure that just as every church , both local & universal,it will face temptations to backslide and have to renew itself from time to time.So it has been since Exodus,when Moses led his backsliding people out of Israel.,onward to Canaan’s land.But the Lord always inspires fresh individuals,true to Him, to bring His family(which is His church ) back to His Light.

    As always Pastor Don Bastian,Free Methodist Bishop Emeritus and award winning writer, has inspired me to think about my Christian life,,to organize my thoughts and explore further.and really think what it means to live as a Christian,that is to live as God want us to.

    Pastor ,your blog ends with

    “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13)

    and this reminds me of Christ’s First Commandment,to love God with all our heart and strength.By this we will love others as ourselves.By this we shall come to know the Lord,our God.

    • Due to keyboard error ,my 10th paragraph lost some sense,as part of it was accidentaly deleted.Here is the correct paragraph.

      ”Continuing Into the next century,for the poor & for many children ,England could be very cruel.In Pauline Gregg’s 1972 book ‘ Social and Economic History of Britain ‘ ,one can read diary extracts & interviews with children who were set to work underground in the coalmines.One,a 5 year old little girl, spent most of her 24 hours underground ,like a pit pony ,hauling coal trucks.A 5 year old ! It makes one weep,and she wasn’t the youngest so abused ! This wasn’t exceptional ,a rare one off.This was standard industrial practise.For these children life must have been a hell on earth and they knew no other .Such human depravity beggars belief. This is the depth of sin for which Jesus was a blameless sacrifice.”

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