ABSTRACT

Although the ‘Free Grace’ episode has received considerable scholarly attention, a lingering and largely unexplored transatlantic puzzle remains: the contribution played by an anonymously published pamphlet entitled ‘Free Grace’ Indeed! A Letter to the Reverend Mr. John Wesley, relating to his sermon against absolute election; published under the title of ‘Free Grace’. The publication of ‘Free Grace’ Indeed! set off a series of events that would have lasting ramifications for the burgeoning Methodist movement. It functioned as the ‘spark’ that reignited a dispute over the nature of the doctrine of election that Wesley and Whitefield had hitherto agreed to keep out of the public sphere. Ascertaining when that ‘spark’ was lit is significant, insofar as it explains the provocation behind Wesley's decision to reprint his Free Grace sermon in 1740. Furthermore, ascertaining who lit that ‘spark’ (or, as we shall observe, at the very least eliminating Whitefield as the likely author) is also significant, insofar as it exonerates him from the charge of knowingly reinstigating public debate, all the while professing his innocence in his private correspondence with Wesley. As to the identity of the anonymous author of ‘Free Grace’ Indeed!, for the moment this lingering transatlantic puzzle remains unresolved.

You do not currently have access to this content.