Walking as Jesus Walked

Having the Mind of Christ

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wesley on Dissipation

I have just read Wesley's sermon "On Dissipation."  As evangelist and spiritual director, Wesley diagnoses what ails the soul and speaks on how the believer may attend upon the Lord without distraction (1 Cor. 7:35). 

As I minister among persons who are increasingly "dissipated," I am struck at how timely Wesley's insights are.  Is Wesley foreseeing our "postmodern condition"? 

In this sermon Wesley defines "dissipation" and offers the medicine only the gospel supplies: to listen to the voice of Christ within.  Here are a few quotes from that sermon:

"Dissipation is in the heart, long before it is seen in the outward conversation.  There must be a dissipated spirit before there is a dissipated manner life." 

"Our spirits are at rest as long as they are united to God...so long as they 'attend upon the Lord without distraction'...as Mary attended to the Lord at the Master's feet" (Luke 10:39).

"...we are all by nature Atheists in the world; and that in so high a degree that it requires no less than an almighty power to counteract that tendency to dissipation which is in every human spirit, and restore the capacity of attending to God, and fixing itself on him."

"The original word 'dissipation' properly signifies to disperse, or scatter....And, indeed, it may be said of every man that is a stranger to the grace of God, that all his passions are dissipated."

"Hence, we may easily learn what is the proper, direct meaning of that common expression - a dissipated man.  He is a man who is separated from God; that is disunited from his centre, whether this be occasioned by hurry of business, by seeking honor or preferment, or fondness for diversions, for silly pleasures, so called, or for any trifle under the sun...whoever is habitually inattentive to the presence and will of the Creator is a dissipated man."

"For as dissipation or ungodliness is the parent of all sin; of all unrighteousness; of unmercifulness, injustice, fraud, perfidy; of every possible evil temper, evil word, or evil action; so it, in effect, comprises them all....if there be any vice; all these are included in ungodliness, usually termed dissipation...Abhor it, as you would abhor the devil!"

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