One of the great things about John Wesley was his ability to distill theological wisdom and Christian experience into short, memorable phrases.  Here are some gems that everyone ought to be familiar with:

  • I went to America, to convert the Indians; but oh! who shall convert me? who, what is He that will deliver me from this evil heart of mischief?  I have a fair summer religion.” –Journal, January 24, 1738.
  • Wesley’s time in as a missionary in Georgia was a total disaster.  He came home, basically running away – running from a failed ministry, a failed mission to the native Americans, and a failed romance with Sophie Hopkey, who had now married another man who was pursuing legal action against Wesley.  He was in crisis, and he could see that his faith had been tested and found wanting.
  • “I felt my heart strangely warmed.  I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” –Journal, May 24, 1738.
  • Four months later, Wesley had his “conversion” experience in a Moravian meeting at Aldersgate Street in London.   People debate whether or not this should truly be called a “conversion,” but it was definitely a turning point in his life and ministry.  As someone read from Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans, the truth of the the transforming power of Christ’s death and resurrection became real for Wesley in a very personal way, and he found the assurance of faith for which he had been searching. Assurance came not from within himself, but from without – from the external word of the gospel, applied to his heart by the witness of the Spirit.
  • “At four in the afternoon, I submitted to be more vile, and proclaimed in the highways the glad tidings of salvation, speaking from a little eminence in a ground adjoining to the city, to about three thousand people.” – Journal, April 2, 1739.
  • This third quote is about Wesley’s first experience with “field preaching.”  By nature, Wesley was a conservative high churchman, and therefore the idea of preaching outside was abhorrent to him.   Yet his friend George Whitefield had invited him to Bristol to see the great throngs of people who were eager to hear the gospel, and he was convinced that he needed to set propriety aside, becoming “more vile” in order to reach people.  Field preaching became a key part of Wesley’s ministry.
  • “I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.” –Journal, June 11, 1739.

  • Wesley’s itinerant ministry was challenged by some, because it meant that he crossed into the parishes of other priests of the Church of England, sometimes preaching in their territory without their permission.  Wesley’s quote about the world being his parish is usually seen as his missional justification for preaching the gospel wherever he was.  But he also knew that he was exempt from the parish boundary rules as a fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford.  He had no parish of his own, and was free to preach where he liked.  He used this to his advantage.

John Wesley Quotes: 23 Great Sayings

  • John Wesley was an Anglican minister who joined his brother Charles and James Oglethorpe to serve as pastor to the colonists in Savannah, Georgia in 1735. On board the ship that he also captained while en route to America, a storm caused him to doubt his faith. It wasn’t that he had no faith but what he realized was that he did not have “saving faith”. John was not well received by the colonists and so he returned to England in 1737. It was not until 1738 that he had the spiritual conversion that caused him to believe that salvation was in Christ alone. After that conversion he devoted his life to evangelism.
  • “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.”

  • John is best known as the preacher who started the Methodist denomination; breaking away from the Church of England. His brother Charles joined with John as the “hymn writer” leaving all the preaching to John. In fact, John Wesley is said to have preached more than 40,000 messages in his lifetime. Although John is credited with bringing Methodism out of the Church of England, he remained an Anglican until he died. [1] [2] During his life John Wesley said some amazing things; here are just a few of his quotes.
  • “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

  • About Affliction
  • “Even in the greatest afflictions, we ought to testify to God, that, in receiving them from his hand, we feel pleasure in the midst of the pain, from being afflicted by Him who loves us, and whom we love.”
  • “The readiest way which God takes to draw a man to himself is, to afflict him in that he loves most, and with good reason; and to cause this affliction to arise from some good action done with a single eye; because nothing can more clearly show him the emptiness of what is most lovely and desirable in the world.”
  • About Character
  • “Vice does not lose its character by becoming fashionable.”
  • “Let your words be the genuine picture of your heart.”
  • “Certainly this is a duty, not a sin. ‘Cleanliness is indeed next to godliness.’”
  • About Christians & Christianity
  • “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.”
  • “When a man becomes a Christian, he becomes industrious, trustworthy and prosperous. Now, if that man when he gets all he can and saves all he can, does not give all he can, I have more hope for Judas Iscariot than for that man!”
  • “A Methodist (Christian) is one who loves the Lord his God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind, and with all his strength. God is the joy of his heart, and the desire of his soul, which is continually crying, ‘Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth whom I desire besides thee.’ My God and my all! ‘Thou art the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.’ He is therefore happy in God; yea, always happy, as having in him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life, and over-flowing his soul with peace and joy. Perfect love living now cast out fear, he rejoices evermore. Yea, his joy is full, and all his bones cry out, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten me again unto a living hope of an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, reserved in heaven for me.”
  • About Evangelism
  • “The world is my parish” (in response to the bishop of Bristol who objected to his preaching as it “disrupted” local Anglican services)
  • “You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go not only to those that need you, but to those that need you most. It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society; but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance.”
  • “Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing!”
  • “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth.”
  • “It is no marvel that the devil does not love field preaching! Neither do I; I love a commodious room, a soft cushion, a handsome pulpit. But where is my zeal if I do not trample all these underfoot in order to save one more soul?”
  • About Faith & Faithfulness
  • “I was indeed fighting continually, but not conquering … I fell and rose, and fell again.” (said after realizing he had no saving faith) 
  • “Faith is the divine evidence whereby the spiritual man discerneth God, and the things of God.”
  • “There is no faithfulness like that which ought to be between a guide of souls and the person directed by him. They ought continually to regard each other in God, and closely to examine themselves, whether all their thoughts are pure, and all their words directed with Christian discretion. Other affairs are only the things of men; but these are peculiarly the things of God.”
  • About Prayer
  • “Thanksgiving is inseparable from true prayer; it is almost essentially connected with it. One who always prays is ever giving praise, whether in ease or pain, both for prosperity and for the greatest adversity. He blesses God for all things, looks on them as coming from Him, and receives them for His sake- not choosing nor refusing, liking or disliking,anything, but only as it is agreeable or disagreeable to His perfect will.” [3]
  • “God grant that I may never live to be useless!” [3]
  • “I continue to dream and pray about a revival of holiness in our day that moves forth in mission and creates authentic community in which each person can be unleashed through the empowerment of the Spirit to fulfill God’s creational intentions.” [3]
  • “… with all prayer (Eph. 6:18)” All sorts of prayer- public, private, mental, vocal. Do not be diligent in one kind of prayer and negligent in others… let us use all.” [3]

10 Inspirational John Wesley Quotes

John Wesley helped found Methodism through his perseverance in the face of intense opposition over more than half a century of ministry. Indeed, his passion to spread the Gospel and promote justice comes through clearly in his writings and sermons.

Studying what Wesley had to say is sure to inspire contemporary Methodists and non-Methodists alike. Jake Hanson – in his new biography, Crossing the Divide: John Wesley, the Fearless Evangelist – tackled the monumental task of meticulously sifting through Wesley’s collected works. (Read a complete review of Crossing the Divide here.)

To inspire your faith and ministry, here are ten quotes from Wesley which Hanson included in his book, distilling his witness for Christians today:

“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth.” –John Wesley, Letter to Alexander Mather

“Above all, sing spiritually. Have an eye toward God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing Him more than yourself, or any other creature.” –John Wesley, Directions for Singing

“I can conceive of no difference comparable to that between a smooth and a rough sea except that which is between a mind calmed by the love of God and one torn up by the storms of earthly passions.” –John Wesley, Journal on January 26, 1736

“Money never stays with me; it would burn me if it did. I throw it out of my hands as soon as possible, lest it should find a way into my heart.” –John Wesley, Letter to Mrs. Hall

“A poor wretch cries to me for alms. I look and see him covered with dirt and rags. But through these I see one that has an immortal spirit, made to know and love and dwell with God to eternity. I honor him for his Creator’s sake.” –John Wesley, ‘On Pleasing All Men’

“Believe evil of no one unless fully proved; take heed how you credit it. Put the best construction you can on everything. You know the judge is always supposed to be on the prisoner’s side.” –John Wesley, Twelve Rules of a Helper

“I have told all the world I am not perfect; yet you still allow me to be a Methodist. I tell you flat I have not attained the character I draw.” –John Wesley, The Character of a Methodist

“Liberty is the right of every human creature, as soon as he breathes vital air; and no human law can deprive him of the rights which he derives from the law of nature.” –John Wesley, Thoughts upon Slavery

“Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing!” – John Wesley, Letter to William Wilberforce

“O why is it that so great, so wise, so holy a God, will use such an instrument as me! … Yeah, thou sendest whom thou wilt send, and thou showest mercy by whom thou wilt show mercy! Amen!” –John Wesley, Letter on May 24, 1738