Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIV

Author: John Wesley

To the Reader.

1. Amidst the multitude of Magazines which now swarm in the world, there was one, a few years ago, termed "The Christian Magazine," which was of great use to mankind, and did honor to the publishers. But it was soon discontinued, to the regret of many serious and sensible persons. In the room of it started up a miscreated phantom, called "The Spiritual Magazine;" and not long after it, its twin-sister, oddly called "The Gospel Magazine." Both of these are intended to show, that God is not loving to every man; that his mercy is not over all his works; and, consequently, that Christ did not die for all, but for one in ten, for the elect only.

2. This comfortable doctrine, the sum of which, proposed in plain English, is, God, before the foundation of the world, absolutely and irrevocably decreed, that "some men shall be saved, do what they will, and the rest damned, do what they can," has, by these tracts, been spread throughout the land with the utmost diligence. And these champions of it have from the beginning proceeded in a manner worthy of their cause. They have paid no more regard to good nature, decency, or good manners, than to reason or truth. All these they set utterly at defiance. Without any deviation from their plan, they have defended their dear decrees with arguments worthy of Bedlam, and with language worthy of Billingsgate.

3. In "The Arminian Magazine" a very different opinion will be defended in a very different manner. We maintain that "God willeth all men to be saved," by "speaking the truth in love;" by arguments and illustrations drawn partly from Scripture, partly from reason, proposed in as inoffensive a manner as the nature of the thing will permit. Not that we expect those on the other side of the question will use us as we use them. Yet we hope nothing will move us to return evil for evil, or, however provoked, to render railing for railing.

4. Our design is, to publish some of the most remarkable tracts on the universal love of God, and his willingness to save all men from all sin, which have been wrote in this and the last century. Some of these are now grown very scarce; some have not appeared in English before. To these will be added original pieces, wrote either directly upon this subject, or on those which are equally opposed by the patrons of particular redemption.

5. We know nothing more proper to introduce a work of this kind than a sketch of the life and death of Arminius; a person, with whom those who mention his name with the utmost indignity are commonly quite unacquainted; of whom they know no more than of Hermes Trismegistus. It is true there is no such account of his life extant, as one would expect to be given of so great a man; at least none such has come to our knowledge; but even an imperfect account is better than none, and may serve to remove abundance of prejudice from candid and impartial men.

6. Since the first proposals for this work were published, we have been much solicited, and by some for whose judgment we have a great regard, to give poetry a place therein. They urge, that it may he profitable as well as agreeable; that it may not only afford some entertainment, but may be of real use to many serious readers who have a taste for verse as well as prose. We acknowledge it may, and accordingly purpose, at the close of every number, to fill up what is wanting in the pages proposed with one or more copies of verses. But we faithfully promise not to insert any doggerel, nothing which shall shock either the understanding or the taste of the serious reader.

7. Each number will therefore consist of four parts: First, a defence of that grand Christian doctrine, "God willeth all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth." Secondly, an extract from the Life of some holy man, whether Lutheran, Church of England man, Calvinist, or Arminian. Thirdly, accounts and letters containing the experience of pious persons, the greatest part of whom are still alive; and, Fourthly, verses explaining or confirming the capital doctrines we have in view.

8. Let the gentle reader excuse us, if we cannot prevail upon ourselves to comply with the fashionable custom, of magazine-writers in particular, of adding here a labored panegyric upon our own work. Such as it is, we trust it will, by the blessing of God, be useful as well as acceptable to men of understanding.

9. It may not be improper to add a few words concerning the title of this Magazine. We have been frequently advised to "give it another appellation, rather than one that will give a general offense." We answer, It will not give so general offense as some are apt to imagine. In Roman Catholic countries, it must be allowed, the patrons of particular redemption are very numerous. Not only the whole body of Dominican and Augustine Friars, with several other religious orders, are, to a man, firm and zealous asserters of particular redemption; not only the Jansenists, who abound in several parts of France as well as throughout Flanders; but great numbers of the laity, in all those parts of Europe, who acknowledge the Roman Pontiff. And it would be no wonder, if all Romanists, who have any religion at all, should be of that opinion, considering the profound reverence they have for Thomas Aquinas, a more vehement defender of the decrees than their grand saint, Augustine. But we have no reason to believe that there is so general a reception of those decrees in Protestant countries. Whatsoever was the case in times past, very few now receive them even in Holland. And in Geneva they are universally rejected with the utmost horror. The case is nearly the same in England. Not one in ten, not one in a hundred, if we look through the nation, have the least esteem for absolute predestination; so that nine in ten, yea, ninety-nine in a hundred, will take no offense at an open, avowed opposition to it.


November 1, 1777.

Preface to Volume 2, page 3.


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Chicago: John Wesley, "To the Reader.," Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIV, ed. Thomas Jackson in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIV (London: Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, 1872), Original Sources, accessed October 2, 2022,

MLA: Wesley, John. "To the Reader." Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIV, edited by Thomas Jackson, in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIV, London, Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, 1872, Original Sources. 2 Oct. 2022.

Harvard: Wesley, J, 'To the Reader.' in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIV, ed. . cited in 1872, Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIV, Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, London. Original Sources, retrieved 2 October 2022, from