John Wesley, the Means of Grace
John M Hayley: Wesley Fellowship.
This Wesley Fellowship publication will appeal to both the head and the heart of every evangelical Christian. Dr Haley, one of our Headway members, serves us well with his clearly researched and succinct presentation of John Wesley's appreciation of the service of the Lord's Supper and its regular observance. As the title suggests, it is the main theme and most helpful part of this short booklet of twenty-four pages. The Lord's Supper is placed central in the life of the Christian who would grow in the knowledge of saving grace. For this reason 'it should be received as often as possible'.
Wesley believed Christianity to be essentially a social religion, and to turn it into a solitary one is to destroy it. Here we are introduced to the origins of the Band and Class Meetings. The remainder of the book is devoted to exploring the opportunities we have grown to think of as uniquely Methodist. Evidence is provided that John Wesley drew on many sources – from the hymns of his brother Charles; from the Puritans; from Peter Bohler and the Moravians. He adds Watchnight Services, Love Feasts and the Covenant Service as complementary means of grace to what he knew to be his task – to assist the believer towards scriptural holiness. Within this mission, the gathering at the Lord's Supper was a converting ordinance and, when regularly practised, a confirming sign of spiritual growth.
This gem of research and challenge to our contemporary practices is to be warmly commended. It is available from the Secretary of the Wesley Fellowship, Paul Taylor, Stonebridge Cottage, Back Lane, Shearsby, Nr Lutterworth, Leics LE17 6PN (Tel/fax: 0116 247 8679 E-mail: email@example.com)
Reviewed by the Revd Jeffrey L Sharp, a supernumerary minister in Darlington.
Headline Summer 2003 p.23.