Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume X

Author: John Wesley

Section I.

1. And, First, as to "raising the dead." Irenaeus affirms: "This was frequently performed on necessary occasions; when by great fastings and the joint supplication of the Church, the spirit of the dead person returned into him, and the man was given back to the prayers of the saints." (Ibid.)

2. But you object: "There is not an instance of this to be found in the three first centuries." (Ibid.) I presume you mean, no heathen historian has mentioned it; for Christian historians were not. I answer,

(1.)It is not probable a heathen historian would have related such a fact, had he known it.

(2.)It is equally improbable, he should know it; seeing the Christians knew with whom they had to do; and that, had such an instance been made public, they would not long have enjoyed him who had been given back to their prayers. They could not but remember what had been before, when the Jews sought Lazarus also to kill him; a very obvious reason why a miracle of this particular kind ought not to have been published abroad; especially considering,

Thirdly, that it was not designed for the conversion of the Heathens; but "on occasions necessary" for the good of the Church, of the Christian community. Lastly: It was a miracle proper, above all others, to support and confirm the Christians, who were daily tortured and slain, but sustained by the hope of obtaining a better resurrection.

3. You object, Secondly: "The Heathens constantly affirmed the thing itself to be impossible." (Page 73.) They did so. But is it "a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?"

4. You object, Thirdly, that when "Autolycus, an eminent Heathen, scarce forty years after this, said to Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, ’Show me but one raised from the dead, that I may see and believe;’ (Ibid.;) Theophilus could not." Supposing he could not, I do not see that this contradicts the testimony of Irenaeus; for he does not affirm, (though you say he does,) that this was "performed, as it were, in every parish, or place where there was a Christian Church." (Page 72.) He does not affirm, that it was performed at Antioch; probably, not in any Church, unless where a concurrence of important circumstances required it. Much less does he affirm, that the persons raised in France would be alive forty years after. Therefore, although it be granted,

(1.)That the historians of that age are silent;

(2.)That the Heathens said, the thing was impossible; and,

(3.)That Theophilus did not answer the challenge of the Heathen, Autolycus; — all this will not invalidate, in any degree, the express testimony of Irenaeus, or prove that none have been raised from the dead since the days of the Apostles.


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Chicago: John Wesley, "Section I.," Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume X, ed. Thomas Jackson in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume X (London: Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, 1872), Original Sources, accessed August 17, 2022,

MLA: Wesley, John. "Section I." Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume X, edited by Thomas Jackson, in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume X, London, Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, 1872, Original Sources. 17 Aug. 2022.

Harvard: Wesley, J, 'Section I.' in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume X, ed. . cited in 1872, Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume X, Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, London. Original Sources, retrieved 17 August 2022, from