“Be present at our table, Lord, be here and everywhere adored.”
The so-called “Wesley Grace,” according to Methodist historian Richard P. Heitzenrater, did not originate with John Wesley. It was created by one of the early preachers in early Methodism, John Cennick. Heitzenrater indicates that it is possible that Wesley used this poem, but it is certain it did not originate with him.
The common misattribution of this quotation to John Wesley is discussed in Heitzenrater’s recent chapter, “The Wesleyan Tradition and the Myths We Love” in A Living Tradition: Critical Recovery and Reconstruction of Wesleyan Heritage, edited by Mary Elizabeth Mullino Moore (Kingswood Books, 2013). The chapter discusses a variety of ways that the history of John Wesley’s life has been distorted or invented by Wesley’s biographers (and increasingly through careless repetition of inaccurate information through the internet). It is one of the best academic pieces I have read in some time for a variety of reasons. I highly recommend it.
In any event, Wesley did not create the “Wesley Grace.” We can add it to the list of things he did not say:
“holy conferencing” [Original post here.]
“personal and social holiness” [Original post here.]
“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.” [Original post here.]
“I set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn.” [Original post here.]
“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and, in all things, charity.” [Original post here.]
Kevin M. Watson is Assistant Professor of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. You can keep up with this blog on twitter @kevinwatson or on facebook at Vital Piety.
Drew McIntyre said:
So many beloved things crushed in one post! But if New Testament scholarship is any indication, we should take the apocryphal stuff more seriously than what Wesley actually said, because what was included in Wesley’s corpus was determined by a council of politically motivated dudes we can’t trust today. We need a Wesley Seminar to settle this for us!
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