Wesley’s Open Doors had Exit Signs

Wesley’s journal entry from June 25, 1744:

Monday, 25, and the five following days we spent in conference with many of our brethren (come from several parts), who desire nothing but to save their own souls and those who hear them. And surely, as long as they continue thus minded, their labor shall not be in vain in the Lord. The next day we endeavored to purge the society of all that did not walk according to the gospel. By this means we reduced the number of members to less than nineteen hundred. But number is an inconsiderable circumstance. May God increase them in faith and love!

Wesley and his followers were confident in the identity and mission of their little society. They had a coherent vision of their life together. They knew who they were, what they believed and what kind of life those beliefs required. Sermons such as A Caution Against Bigotry and Catholic Spirit demonstrate that they also knew God might be at work in and through the members of other institutions, some of whom had very different values and practices. Others could take responsibility for their own choices. Those who chose to be part of the Methodist movement were expected to live in accordance with Methodism’s values and practices. If, either through neglect or as a matter of conscience, members of the society no longer wished to conform the group’s expectations, they were dis-enrolled from membership until they amended their ways.