Notes from Hymns on the Lord’s Supper – John and Charles Wesley

Notes from Hymns on the Lord’s Supper written by John and Charles Wesley. First published in Bristol, England in 1745 by Felix Farley. Copyright 1995, The Charles Wesley Society, Madison.

Hymns of the Lord’s Supper were written for three purposes: (Wainwright, Introduction, xii). 1). Catechetical 2). Liturgical 3). Devotional

As the number of new Christians grew in response to the imperial adoption of Christianity, they ceased to receive communion as often as before. John and Charles Wesley, however, made a point of serving communion every Sunday and holidays and John did so while visiting the sick (Wainwright, v).

In writing the hymns John Wesley taught people the significance and benefits of the Lord’s Supper. The songs contributed to the singing repertoire during communion; as well as provided a resource for meditative preparation before, and recollection after, the sacrament (Wainwright, vi).

In writing the preface to the hymn book, John Wesley extracted material from Daniel Brevint’s treatise On the Christian Sacrament and Sacrifice (1672) which he and Charles studied and applied in their hymn writing. Shared common motifs include using Old Testaments figures and events as foreshadowing the work of Christ and Christian sacraments and a Eucharistic reference to blood and water flowing from Christ’s side while on the cross. The blood was intended for justification and the water for sanctification (Wainwright, x-xi).

Brevint’s thoughts about the Lord’s Supper: 1). a sacrament to past suffering – a memorial 2). a way to convey the ‘first fruits’ of that suffering – grace 3). an assurance of glory to come – a pledge

Sermon Notes

The Means of Grace
Sermon 1872 Edition

John Wesley Sermon Project General Editors: Ryan N. Danker and George Lyons
Copyright 1999-2011 by the Wesley Center for Applied Theology. Text may be freely used for personal or scholarly purposes or mirrored on other web sites, provided this notice is left intact. Any use of this material for commercial purposes of any kind is strictly forbidden without the express permission of the Wesley Center at Northwest Nazarene University, Nampa, ID 83686. Contact the Wesley Center to request permission or to report errors.

Malachai 3:7 “You are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them.”

Wesley asked in this sermon, “But, are there any ordinances now, since life and immortality were brought to light by the gospel? Are there any means ordained of God, as the usual channels of his grace?”

John Wesley proposed that Christ ordained three certain outward means for conveying his grace into the souls of men. These are the channels of God’s grace:

1. Prayer
2. Searching the Scriptures
3. Receiving the Lord’s Supper

Wesley proposed that God gave direction in the ‘oracles of God’ (that is, the Holy Writ or Scripture) for all who desire and wait for the grace of God for salvation using the text from Matthew 7:7-8.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

Wesley preached that the Lord directs us to use these means and promised in Luke 11:13 to give good gifts to God’s children. …”If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (King James Version)

Book Notes

Ole Brown’s book

John Wesley and the Sacraments

For John Wesley theology was a function of the life of faith, not primarily an academic discipline. Hi theology proiveded conoceptual basis and structure as well as stability and understanding required to keep things on an even keel. He was a creative theologican practically involved in teh application of his doctrine in the renewal of the church. Wesley divided theology into two branches 1) speculative divinity (intellectural discipline of systematizing and understanding the life of faith, speculative faith i.e. assent to doctrines) as correlative, and 2) practical divinity (trust, confidence, and the life of God in man). Wesley didn’t reject the speculative divinity, except that it needed to have something to contribute to the Christian life to have influence on one’s heart and life (Brown 36-37). Wesley assessed theology based on its usefulness as means toward the greater end ( 38).

Hymns, likewise, were published to provide for the needs of believers, in terms of speculative or practical religion.

Comparatively speaking, Wesley distinguised every branch of religion through higher to lower in rank were (38):
1). Love of God and man.
2). Holy Tempers” – gentleness, longsuffering (the mind which was in Christ)
3). Works of mercy to souls or bodies of men
4).Works of piety, useing the means of grace
5). The zeal of the believer

The task of the Methodists is to spread “…scriptural holiness through the land,…leaving everyone to hold his own opinions…” “We think and let think.” He cautioned against bigotry, i.e. too strong an attachment to, or fondness for, our own part, opinion, church and religion (40). Wesley encouraged his followers not to fight against notions, but against sin. For Wesley, religion was nothing but “love of God and man”. Orthodoxy, or right opinion, is but a slender part of religion at best, and sometimes no part at all (39). The living, saving faith is essentially power, trust, conviction and confidence that Christ died for me and that my sins are forgiven (39). He made a distinction between our conceptualizing faith and the “thing itself” – “…a true opinion concerning repentance is wholly different from the thing itself…” Clear conceptions of doctrines such as justification by faith, imputed righteousness, Christian perfection and even the Trinity were not necessary for salvation as long as the actual fact is realized in a person’s life. Even though there might be some confused ideas, the heart may still be right with God. Differences in opinion will be tolerated unless they touch the foundation(41).

Based on scripture and common sense John Wesley built a scheme of grand, essential and fundamental scriptural doctrines.

1). original sin
2). justification by faith
3). sanctification (inward and outward holiness)

Other doctrines Wesley felt were essential include (43):
1). doctrines of the Trinity (the Deity of Christ)
2). the work of Christ (atonement)
3). the work of the Holy Spirit

A doctrine of redemption must include not only man’s need of salvation, as well as God’s willingness and ability to save.
1). God’s love is the cause of our redemption;
2). Jesus is the procurer; and 3).the Holy Spirit is the operative agent and power in the work of salvation purifying the soul, restoring the image of God and sustaining the life of God in man.

When Wesley spoke of God or any person within the Godhead, it was always seen in relation to God’s love and redemption of man.
When Wesley spoke of salvation, it was always seen in the context of the atonement and the ongoing work of salvation through the Holy Spirit. It was impossible for him to speak of one side of a person’s redemption without mentioning the other 43).

The atonement: Christ’s life, death and sacrifice are essential.

  • God’s own justice demands satisfaction and is the principal cause of Christ’s death and suffering, although human sins are the deserving cause.
  • Christ, by offering himself as the satisfaction to God for our sin appeases God’s wrath.
  • He gives himself as ransom and fulfills God’s law

Theological Studies and Learning About Myself

58940011 Studying with such a wide variety of individuals representing several denominations, backgrounds, cultures and life experiences is the most revealing part of this theological pursuit.  It’s one thing to read content, it’s wholly another to hear the revelations and wonderings of my fellow students as I discern God’s message to me and the one I’m to give to others.