Holiness and Happiness Out of Pain
May the Lover of men open the eyes of our understanding, to perceive clearly that, by the fall of Adam, mankind in general have gained a capacity, first, of being more holy and more happy on earth, and, secondly, of being more happy in heaven, than otherwise they could have been!
And, first, mankind in general have gained, by the fall of Adam, a capacity of attaining more holiness and happiness on earth than it would have been possible for them to attain if Adam had not fallen. For if Adam had not fallen, Christ had not died. Nothing can be more clear than this; nothing more undeniable: The more thoroughly we consider the point the more deeply shall we be convinced of it.
Unless all the partakers of human nature had received that deadly wound in Adam, it would not have been needful for the Son of God to take our nature upon him. Do you not see that this was the very ground of his coming into the world?
“By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin: And thus death passed upon all,”through him in whom all men sinned (Rom. 5:12). Was it not to remedy this very thing, that “the Word was made flesh,” that “as in Adam all died, so in Christ all” might “be made alive?”
Unless, then, many had been made sinners by the disobedience of one, by the obedience of one many would not have been made righteous (Rom. 5:19). So, there would have been no room for that amazing display of the Son of God’s love to mankind. There would have been no occasion for his being “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
It could not then have been said, to the astonishment of all the hosts of heaven, “God so loved the world,” yea, the ungodly world, which had no thought or desire of returning to him, “that he gave his Son” out of his bosom, his only-begotten Son, to the end that “whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Neither could we then have said, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself,” or, that he “made him to be sin,” that is, a sin-offering, “for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God through him.” There would have been no such occasion for such “an Advocate with the Father,” as “Jesus Christ the righteous;” neither for his appearing “at the right hand of God, to make intercession
What is the necessary consequence of this? It is this: There could then have been no such thing as faith in God thus loving the world, giving his only Son for us men, and for our salvation. There could have been no such thing as faith in the Son of God, as “loving us and giving himself for us.”
There could have been no faith in the Spirit of God, as renewing the image of God in our hearts, as raising us from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness.
Indeed the whole privilege of justification by faith could have had no existence; there could have been no redemption in the blood of Christ; neither could Christ have been “made of God unto us,” either…“wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption.” …Such gainers may we be by Adam’s fall, with regard both to the love of God and of our neighbour.
But there is another grand point, which, though little adverted to, deserves our deepest consideration. By that one act of our first parent, not only “sin entered into the world,” but pain also, and was alike the justice but the unspeakable goodness of God.
For how much good does he continually bring out of this evil! How much holiness and happiness out of pain!
Wesley is not remembered as a “systematic theologian” who wrote scholarly volumes setting forth and explaining a carefully-nuanced structure of Christian dogmatics.
Yet his constant attention to theological truth underscored his entire life and ministry, and he was careful to put his movement on a Biblical foundation.
Wesley was concerned first about the souls of needy men and women, but he was also concerned about their bodies. His culture generally ignored the misery of the poor and disenfranchised, a group which was quickly growing due to the inequities and dislocation of the Industrial Revolution.
Wesley’s chapels often served as community centers, including schools, free medical dispensaries, and food and clothing distribution. He operated prison ministries, a “poor house,” a widow’s home, a hospital for unwed and destitute mothers, and a small business loan fund.
The poor always had a true friend in John Wesley.