Awhile back, I wrote a post on the “general means of grace” in John Wesley’s theology. This is a lesser known category within John Wesley’s theology of the means of grace—alongside his more commonly known categories, the instituted means of grace and prudential means of grace. Yet just because it is less well known (and, admittedly, less well developed in Wesley’s thought) does not mean that it is less important.
The general means of grace refer to the attitudes or dispositions with which we approach our practice of discipleship. Wesley uses biblical terms like “watching,” “self-denial,” and “taking up the cross” as examples of what he is talking about. And he also uses phrases like the “exercise of the presence of God.” He links the use of the general means of grace with the instituted and prudential means, making the point that the orientation of our hearts as we engage in the practices of the faith is important for any of them to do us spiritual good. In other words, the general means of grace serve as a kind of dispositional foundation for the effective use of the instituted and prudential means of grace.
I go into this subject in greater detail in my post on the general means of grace last summer. I’m bringing up the topic again here because an article I wrote for Methodist History on the general means of grace has appeared online through the journal’s open access portal. You can find it by searching for the July 2013 issue in the Methodist History archives, or you can also access it directly via the download link from the journal’s website..