The Sermons of John Wesley: A Collection for the Christian Journey
By Steve Manskar
Edited by Kenneth J. Collins and Jason E. Vickers
Abingdon Press, ©2013
Kenneth Collins and Jason Vickers have done a great service to The United Methodist Church and its mission: “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Collins is Professor of Historical Theology and Wesley Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary (Wilmore, Kentucky) and Vickers is Associate Professor of Theology and Wesleyan Studies at United Theological Seminary (Dayton, Ohio). Both are highly respected Wesley scholars. They have edited a new collection of John Wesley’s sermons.
Why do we need another collection of Wesley sermons? This collection is unique because its intent is to help the reader gain deeper understanding of the Christian journey. Other collections, such as the 44 sermons regarded as standards for the British Methodist Church and the 52 regarded by North American and Australian Methodists to be Wesley’s standard sermons. These collections are “standards” for teaching Christian doctrine in the church. They are organized doctrinally. Familiarity with these sermons assures a deep and broad understanding of what it means to be Christian in the Wesleyan/Methodist tradition.
Another collection was published in 1991. It was edited by Albert Outler and Richard Heitzenrater. Their John Wesley’s Sermons: An Anthology is used widely in schools of theology. It contains 50 sermons, organized chronologically. The anthology helps students to see the development of Wesley’s thinking and theology over the long span of his homiletical career.
Collins and Vickers new collection contains 60 sermons:
The original 44
Eight added by North American and Australian Methodists:
- "The Witness of the Spirit, II"
- "On Sin in Believers"
- "The Repentance of Believers"
- "The Great Assize"
- "The Lord Our Righteousness"
- "The Scripture Way of Salvation"
- "The Good Steward"
- "The Reformation of Manners"
And eight more added by Collins and Vickers for soteriological completeness:
- "The General Deliverance"
- "The New Creation"
- "On Working Out Our Own Salvation"
- "The Danger of Riches"
- "On Visiting the Sick"
- "The Duty of Constant Communion"
- "Free Grace"
- "The Image of God"
This collection is organized according to Wesley’s ordo salutis (order of salvation):
- The Goodness of Creation (1 sermon)
- The Fall (1 sermon)
- Free Grace (1 sermon)
- Awakening (2 sermons)
- Prevenient Grace and Repentance (3 sermons)
- Repentance and Converting Grace (1 sermon)
- Repentance (2 sermons)
- Justification (3 sermons)
- Justification and Imputation (1 sermon)
- Regeneration (3 sermons)
- Assurance (5 sermons)
- The Christian Life (11 sermons)
- Challenges to the Christian Life (10 sermons)
- The Sum of True Religion (5 sermons)
- Illumination and Second Repentance (2 sermons)
- Second Repentance (2 sermons)
- Pressing on to Christian Perfection (1 sermon)
- Christian Perfection (3 sermons)
- The Extent of Redemption (1 sermon)
- Judgment and Glorifying Grace (1 sermon)
- Glorifying Grace (1 sermon)
Organizing the sermons in this way accomplishes at least two things:
- The church has a resource to help members explore and more fully participate in the Christian journey. This collection of Wesley’s sermons provides an in-depth curriculum for adult catechesis and Christian formation. It provides a comprehensive picture of what Wesley referred to as the “doctrine, spirit, and discipline” of the Methodist revival.
- The sermons contained in this collection help us see that John Wesley was a practical theologian. His theology, practice, and pastoral leadership were shaped by his daily study of Scripture, the tradition and liturgy of the Church, and engagement with people. Wesley’s thinking and teacher were shaped by hours spent on the road, in the homes of poor and working-class Methodists, visiting Methodist societies across Britain, begging money for the lending stock and to feed and clothe impoverished people, and dispensing medicine to the sick. He was also shaped by meeting with and listening to countless class leaders, stewards, and preachers as they gave accounts of the lives of the people in their respective societies. The theology contained in Wesley’s sermons were the fruit of a life of full-time ministry and mission.
The Sermons of John Wesley: A Collection for the Christian Journey is a much needed resource that will help the people of The United Methodist Church live out their mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.