Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The repentance of John Wesley

John Wesley's Journal, 1739, August, Fri . 31. — I left Bristol, and reached London about eight on Sunday morning. In the afternoon I heard a sermon wherein it was asserted, that our repentance was not sincere, but feigned and hypocritical;

1. If we relapsed into sin soon after repenting: Especially, if,
2. We did not avoid all the occasions of sin; or if,
3. We relapsed frequently; and most of all, if,
4. Our hearts were hardened thereby.

O what a hypocrite was I, (if this be so,) for near twice ten years! But I know it is not so. I know every one under the Law is even as I was. Every one when he begins to see his fallen state, and to feel the wrath of God abiding on him, relapses into the sin that most easily besets him, soon after repenting of it. Sometimes he avoids, and at many other times cannot persuade himself to avoid, the occasions of it. Hence his relapses are frequent, and of consequence his heart is hardened more and more.

And yet all this time he is sincerely striving against sin. He can say unfeignedly, without hypocrisy, “The thing which I do, I approve not; the evil which I would not, that I do.” “To will is” even then “present with” him; “but how to perform that which is good” he “finds not.” Nor can he, with all his sincerity, avoid any one of these four marks of hypocrisy, till, “being justified by faith,” he hath “peace with God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

This helpless state I took occasion to describe at Kennington, to eight or ten thousand people, from those words of the Psalmist, “Innumerable troubles are come about me; my sins have taken such hold upon me, that I am not able to look up: Yea, they are more in number than the hairs of my head, and my heart hath failed me.” ~ John Wesley