I wonder how our modern day altar workers would have counselled John Wesley in the years preceding his new birth. In 1735, John Wesley, the son of a Christian minister and a ministerial graduate of Oxford, possessed more than a decade of ministry experience. On-board a ship en route to America, Wesley encountered some Christians who challenged his conception of scriptural spirituality. These German Moravians left a deep impression of spiritual honesty and spiritual reality upon Mr. Wesley. The full story of John Wesley's interaction with the Moravian Christians and the development of his own spiritual life is diametrically opposed to the psychological techniques exerted upon many modern day seekers.
By their lives and theology, the Moravians convinced John Wesley that he did not have the type of faith promised to New Testament Christians. From the quote below, it appears that John Wesley was astoundingly honest and open about his spiritual shortcomings from the time he first encountered the Moravian Christians on the ship. While he continued to pursue God, it would be greater than two years time before his well-known new birth experience at Aldersgate:
"I told all in our ship, all at Savannah, all at Frederica, and that over and over, in express terms, ‘I am not a Christian; I only follow after, if haply I may attain it.’ When they urged my works and self denial, I answered short, ‘Though I give all my goods to feed the poor, and my body to be burned, I am nothing: For I have not charity; I do not love God with all my heart.’ If they added, ‘Nay, but you could not preach as you do, if you was not a Christian;’ I again confronted them with St. Paul: ‘Though I speak with the tongue of men and angels, and have not charity, I am nothing.’ Most earnestly, therefore, both in public and private, did I inculcate this: ‘Be not ye shaken, however I may fall, for the foundation standeth sure.’
If you ask on what principle, then, I acted; it was this: ‘A desire to be a Christian; and a conviction that whatever I judge conducive thereto, that I am bound to do; wherever I judge I can best answer this end, thither it is my duty to go.’ On this principle I set out for America; on this, I visited the Moravian Church; and on the same am I ready now (God being my helper) to go to Abyssinia or China, or whithersoever it shall please God, by this conviction, to call me." ~ John Wesley