Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume V

Author: John Wesley


1. We are, First, to inquire who these false prophets are. And this it is needful to do the more diligently, because these very men have so labored to "wrest this scripture to their own," though not only their own, "destruction." In order, therefore, to cut off all dispute, I shall raise no dust, (as the manner of some is,) neither use any loose, rhetorical exclamations, to deceive the hearts of the simple; but speak rough, plain truths, such as none can deny, who has either understanding or modesty left, and such truths as have the closest connection with the whole tenor of the preceding discourse: Whereas too many have interpreted these words without any regard to all that went before; as if they bore no manner of relation to the sermon in the close of which they stand.

2. By prophets here (as in many other passages of Scripture, particularly in the New Testament) are meant, not those who foretell things to come, but those who speak in the name of God; those men who profess to be sent of God, to teach others the way to heaven.

Those are false prophets, who teach a false way to heaven, a way which does not lead thither; or, (which comes in the end to the same point,) who do not teach the true.

3. Every broad way is infallibly a false one. Therefore this is one plain, sure rule, "They who teach men to walk in a broad way, a way that many walk in, are false prophets."

Again: The true way to heaven is a narrow way. Therefore this is another plain, sure rule, "They who do not teach men to walk in a narrow way, to be singular, are false prophets."

4. To be more particular: The only true way to heaven is that pointed out in the preceding sermon. Therefore they are false prophets who do not teach men to walk in this way.

Now the way to heaven pointed out in the preceding sermon is the way of lowliness, mourning, meekness, and holy desire, love of God and of our neighbor, doing good, and suffering evil for Christ’s sake. They are, therefore, false prophets, who teach, as the way to heaven, any other way than this.

5. It matters not what they call that other way. They may call it faith; or good works; or faith and works; or repentance; or repentance, faith, and new obedience. All these are good words: But if, under these, or any other terms whatever, they teach men any way distinct from this, they are properly false prophets.

6. How much more do they fall under that condemnation who speak evil of this good way; — but above all, they who teach the directly opposite way, the way of pride, of levity, of passion, of worldly desires, of loving pleasure more than God, of unkindness to our neighbor, of unconcern for good works, and suffering no evil, no persecution for righteousness’ sake!

7. If it be asked, "Why, who ever did teach this, or who does teach it, as the way to heaven?" I answer: Ten thousand wise and honorable men; even all those, of whatever denomination, who encourage the proud, the trifler, the passionate, the lover of the world, the man of pleasure, the unjust or unkind, the easy, careless, harmless, useless creature, the man who suffers no reproach for righteousness’ sake, to imagine he is in the way to heaven. These are false prophets in the highest sense of the word. These are traitors both to God and man. These are no other than the first-born of Satan; the eldest sons of Apollyon, the Destroyer. These are far above the rank of ordinary cut-throats; for they murder the souls of men. They are continually peopling the realms of night; and whenever they follow the poor souls whom they have destroyed, "hell shall be moved from beneath to meet them at their coming!"


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Chicago: John Wesley, "I.," Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume V, ed. Thomas Jackson in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume V (London: Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, 1872), Original Sources, accessed July 12, 2024,

MLA: Wesley, John. "I." Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume V, edited by Thomas Jackson, in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume V, London, Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, 1872, Original Sources. 12 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: Wesley, J, 'I.' in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume V, ed. . cited in 1872, Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume V, Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, London. Original Sources, retrieved 12 July 2024, from