“Repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
Following on from “On sin and believers” and quite rightly because if we are to say we still sin as believers then we have to explain this through to its conclusion so we can stay believers.
That’s the tension: we come before the throne of grace, ask for forgiveness and accept the forgiveness and then we spend a few moments without sin in our lives, but we live in a broken world so to think we don’t sin is arrogance. It is to suggest we are totally sanctified, totally perfect and therefore in need of no god, let alone the God.
Wesley was preaching at a time when people were hungry to have a personal relationship with God against a backdrop of the latter part of the Enlightenment. The world was suddenly changing at a rate of knots and religion and the way “church” was done, was being discussed and debated across Europe. A charismatic preacher could turn a crowd to Christ but equally could turn people to anything they chose. Wesley stood close to Scripture, he spent many hours pouring over the Bible in devotion not just in order to preach but in personal devotion. Whenever he heard what he considered heresy he had to act on it and this comes out in these two parallel sermons.
During the Enlightenment philosophers and intellectuals yearned to know everything about everything. One on his deathbed allegedly said “Light, more light,” they wanted to reason and rationalise everything and religion was one of the topics that was debated.
Wesley was the voice of reason for the common person. He preached for middle ground between differing views. This is how I historically have viewed Methodism, as the middle ground, “friend of everyone, enemy of none.”