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From Here to Forever

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    Wesley Escapes Death

    Men of influence employed their powers against them. Many clergy manifested hostility, and the doors of the churches were closed against a pure faith. The clergy, denouncing them from the pulpit, aroused the elements of darkness and iniquity. Again and again John Wesley escaped death by a miracle of God's mercy. When there seemed no way of escape, an angel in human form came to his side, the mob fell back, and the servant of Christ passed in safety from danger.HF 161.5

    Of his deliverance on one of these occasions, Wesley said: “Although many strove to lay hold on my collar or clothes, to pull me down, they could not fasten at all: only one got fast hold of the flap of my waistcoat, which was soon left in his hand; the other flap, in the pocket of which was a bank note, was torn but half off. ... A lusty man just behind, struck at me several times, with a large oaken stick; with which if he had struck me once on the back part of my head, it would have saved him all further trouble. But every time, the blow was turned aside, I know not how; for I could not move to the right hand or left.”12John Wesley, Works, vol. 3, pp. 297, 298.HF 162.1

    The Methodists of those days endured ridicule and persecution, often violence. In some instances, public notices were posted, calling upon those who desired to break the windows and rob the houses of the Methodists to assemble at a given time and place. Systematic persecution was carried on against a people whose only fault was seeking to turn sinners to the path of holiness.HF 162.2

    The spiritual declension in England just before the time of Wesley was in a great degree the result of teaching that Christ had abolished the moral law and that Christians are under no obligation to observe it. Others declared that it was unnecessary for ministers to exhort the people to obedience of its precepts, since those whom God had elected to salvation would “be led to the practice of piety and virtue” while those doomed to eternal reprobation “did not have power to obey the divine law.”HF 162.3

    Others, holding that “the elect cannot fall from grace nor forfeit the divine favor,” arrived at the hideous conclusion that “the wicked actions they commit are not really sinful, ... and that, consequently, they have no occasion either to confess their sins or to break them off by repentance.”13McClintock & Strong, Cyclopedia, art. “Antinomians.” Therefore, they declared, even one of the vilest of sins “considered universally an enormous violation of the divine law is not a sin in the sight of God” if committed by one of the elect. “They cannot do anything that is either displeasing to God or prohibited by the law.”HF 162.4

    These monstrous doctrines are essentially the same as the later teaching that there is no unchangeable divine law as the standard of right, but that morality is indicated by society itself and constantly subject to change. All these ideas are inspired by him who among the sinless inhabitants of heaven began his work to break down the righteous restraints of the law of God.HF 163.1

    The doctrine of divine decrees, unalterably fixing the character of men, had led many to rejection of the law of God. Wesley steadfastly opposed this doctrine which led to antinomianism. “The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.” “God our Saviour ... will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all.” Christ, “the true Light, ... lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” Titus 2:11; 1 Timothy 2:3-6; John 1:9. Men fail of salvation through their own wilful refusal of the gift of life.HF 163.2

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