Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIII

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Author: John Wesley

DCCCLXXXVI. — To Mr. ——.

My dear Brother, January, 1780.

You seem to me not to have well considered the Rule’s of a Helper, or the rise of Methodism. It pleased God, by me, to awaken, first my brother, and then a few others; who severally desired of me, as a favor, that I would direct them in all things. After my return from Georgia, many were both awakened and converted to God. One, and another, and another of these desired to join with me as sons in the Gospel, to be directed by me. I drew up a few plain rules (observe, there was no Conference in being!) and permitted them to join me on these conditions. Whoever, therefore, violates these conditions, particularly that of being directed by me in the work, does, ipso facto, disjoin himself from me. This brother M. has done: (But he cannot see that he has done amiss:) And he would have it a common cause; that is, he would have all the Preachers do the same. He thinks "they have a right so to do." So they have. They have a right to disjoin themselves from me whenever they please. But they cannot, in the nature of the thing, join with me any longer than they are directed by me. And what, if fifty of the present Preachers disjoined themselves! What should I lose thereby? Only a great deal of labor and care, which I do not seek; but endure, because no one else either can or will.

You seem likewise to have quite a wrong idea of a Conference. For above six years after my return to England, there was no such thing. I then desired some of our Preachers to meet me, in order to advise, not control, me. And you may observe, they had no power at all, but what I exercised through them. I chose to exercise the power which God had given me in this manner, both to avoid ostentation, and gently to habituate the people to obey them when I should be taken from their head. But as long as I remain with them, the fundamental rule of Methodism remains inviolate. As long as any Preacher joins with me, he is to be directed by me in his work. Do not you see, then, that brother M——, whatever his intentions might be, acted as wrong as wrong could be? and that the representing of this as the common cause of the Preachers was the way to common destruction? the way to turn all their heads, and to set them in arms? It was a blow at the very root of Methodism. I could not therefore do less than I did: It was the very least that could be done, for fear that evil should spread.

I do not willingly speak of these things at all: But I do it now out of necessity; because I perceive the mind of you, and some others, is a little hurt by not seeing them in a true light.

I am

Your affectionate brother.

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Chicago: John Wesley, "DCCCLXXXVI. — To Mr. — — .," Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIII, ed. Thomas Jackson in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIII (London: Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, 1872), Original Sources, accessed August 15, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4ANHA3DJYKZV6X8.

MLA: Wesley, John. "DCCCLXXXVI. — To Mr. — — ." Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIII, edited by Thomas Jackson, in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIII, London, Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, 1872, Original Sources. 15 Aug. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4ANHA3DJYKZV6X8.

Harvard: Wesley, J, 'DCCCLXXXVI. — To Mr. — — .' in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIII, ed. . cited in 1872, Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIII, Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, London. Original Sources, retrieved 15 August 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4ANHA3DJYKZV6X8.