A Catholic Spirit, for Presbyterian Gal

I. Let us consider the question proposed by Jehu to Jehonadab, "Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart?"

II. "If thine heart be right, as mine with thy heart," love all mankind, thine enemies, the enemies of God, strangers, as a brother in Christ.

III. We may learn from hence what a catholic spirit is....

10. Although, therefore, every follower of Christ is obliged, by the very nature of the Christian institution, to be a member of some particular congregation or other, some Church, as it is usually termed (which implies a particular manner of worshipping God; for "two cannot walk together unless they be agreed"); yet none can be obliged by any power on earth but that of his own conscience, to prefer this or that congregation to another, this or that particular manner of worship. I know it is commonly supposed, that the place of our birth fixes the Church to which we ought to belong; that one, for instance, who is born in England, ought to be a member of that which is styled the Church of England, and consequently, to worship God in the particular manner which is prescribed by that Church. I was once a zealous maintainer of this; but I find many reasons to abate of this zeal. I fear it is attended with such difficulties as no reasonable man can get over. Not the least of which is, that if this rule had took place, there could have been no Reformation from Popery; seeing it entirely destroys the right of private judgement, on which that whole Reformation stands.

11. I dare not, therefore, presume to impose my mode of worship on any other. I believe it is truly primitive and apostolical: but my belief is no rule for another. I ask not, therefore, of him with whom I would unite in love, Are you of my church, of my congregation? Do you receive the same form of church government, and allow the same church officers, with me? Do you join in the same form of prayer wherein I worship God? I inquire not, Do you receive the supper of the Lord in the same posture and manner that I do? Nor whether, in the administration of baptism, you agree with me in admitting sureties for the baptized, in the manner of administering it; or the age of those to whom it should be administered. Nay, I ask not of you (as clear as I am in my own mind), whether you allow baptism and the Lord's supper at all. Let all these things stand by: we will talk of them, if need be, at a more convenient season, my only question at present is this, "Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart?"


Garpu said...

It's about 230 years after your time, but you may be interested in some of the documents which came out of the second Vatican council, chiefly "Nostra aetate" and "Dignitatis humanae." The second one makes a similar point as you did in the last paragraph, that the right to religious freedom and lack of coercion to faith is a natural right. It's kind of wistful reading over these documents now, when so much of the joy and optimism of that council's been lost. So us Poppish types don't use the thumbscrews anymore, although a certain television station hasn't gotten the message yet.

John Wesley said...

Dear Garpu the Fork,

My most bounteous thanks for the copies of these most excellent missives. They are most intriguing and buoy my heart that all are, indeed, moving onto perfection.

Lori said...

Dear Mr. Wesley,
I can scarce believe my good fortune in this most enlightening of responses. I also find a curious serendipity in the direction of your point of view, as it has traveled the same path as my own this wondrous day on God's earth as I traveled about in my horseless carriage. A more convenient season, indeed is the only solution here and your only question suits the needs of the day indeed. I prithee sir do accept my grateful thanks.

(With your kind indulgence I will refer this post on my own blog)

Unknown said...

Mr Wesley,
Thank you for your good report on my blog and yours in response to my question. My heart is with your sir.