John Wesley’s 23 questions to the University of Oxford

Posted in Blog, Christianity
John Wesley (1703-91)

    The date is 24 August 1744.  John Wesley is preaching at St Mary’s, the university church at Oxford.  He asks the clergy, dons and undergraduates 23 searching questions.  How would they answer them today?

1  You venerable men, who are more especially called to form the tender minds of youth, to dispel thence the shades of ignorance and error, and train them up to be wise unto salvation, are you “filled with the Holy Ghost” with all those “fruits of the Spirit,” which your important office so indispensably requires?

2 Is your heart whole with God full of love and zeal to set up his kingdom on earth?

3  Do you continually remind those under your care, that the one rational end of all our studies, is to know, love and serve “the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent”?

4 Do you inculcate upon them day by day, that love alone never faileth (whereas, whether there be tongues, they shall fail, or philosophical knowledge, it shall vanish away); and that without love, all learning is but splendid ignorance, pompous folly, vexation of spirit?

5  Has all you teach an actual tendency to the love of God, and of all mankind for his sake?

6  Have you an eye to this end in whatever you prescribe, touching the kind, the manner, and the measure of their studies; desiring and labouring that, wherever the lot of these young soldiers of Christ is cast, they may be so many burning and shining lights, adorning the gospel of Christ in all things?

7 And permit me to ask, Do you put forth all your strength in the vast work you have undertaken?

8  Do you labour herein with all your might exerting every faculty of your soul, using every talent which God hath lent you, and that to the uttermost of your power?

What shall we say concerning the youth of this place?

9  Have you either the form or the power of Christian godliness?

10  Are you humble, teachable, advisable; or stubborn, self-willed, heady, and highminded?

11  Are you obedient to your superiors as to parents?

12 Or do you despise those to whom you owe the tenderest reverence?

13  Are you diligent in your easy business, pursuing your studies with all your strength?

14  Do you redeem the time, crowding as much work into every day as it can contain?

15  Rather, are you not conscious to yourselves, that you waste away day after day, either in reading what has no tendency to Christianity, or in gaming, or in–you know not what?

16  Are you better managers of your fortune than of your time?

17  Do you, out of principle, take care to owe no man anything?

18  Do you “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy;” to spend it in the more immediate worship of God?

19  When you are in his house, do you consider that God is there?

20  Do you behave “as seeing him that is invisible”?

21  Do you know how to possess your bodies in sanctification and honour”?

22  Are not drunkenness and uncleanness found among you Yea, are there not of you who “glory in their shame”?

23  Do not many of you “take the name of God in vain,” perhaps habitually, without either remorse or fear?