By John Wesley
1. Many large volumes have been already published on this important subject. But the very length of them makes them hard to be understood, or even purchased, by common readers. A short, plain treatise on this subject is what serious men have long desired, and what is here offered to those whom God has endowed with love and meekness of wisdom.
2. By the saints, I understand, those who are holy or righteous in the judgment of God himself; those who are endued with the faith that purifies the heart, that produces a good conscience; those who are grafted into the good olive-tree, the spiritual, invisible Church; those who are branches of the true vine, of whom Christ says, “I am the vine, you are the branches; [Jn 15:5a]” those who so effectually know Christ, as by that knowledge to have escaped the pollutions of the world; those who see the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and who have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, of the witness and the fruits of the Spirit; those who live by faith in the Son of God; those who are sanctified by the blood of the covenant; those to whom all or any of these descriptions belong, I mean by the term saints.
3. Can any of these fall away? By falling away, we mean, not merely falling into sin. This, it is granted, they may. But can they fall totally? Can any of these so fall from God as to perish everlastingly?
4. I am aware that either side of this question is attended with great difficulties; such as reason alone could never remove. Therefore, “to the law and to the testimony” [Is 8:20]! Let the living oracles decide: And if these speak for us, we neither seek nor want further witness.
I. 5. [Firstly]. On this authority, I believe a saint may fall away; that one who is holy or righteous in the judgment of God Himself may nevertheless so fall from God as to perish everlastingly.
For thus says the Lord: “…when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die” (Ezekiel 18:24).
That this is to be understood of eternal death appears from the twenty-sixth verse [of Ezekiel 18]: “When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it,” (here is temporal death) “it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies” (here is death eternal).
It appears, further, from the whole scope of the chapter, which is to prove, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4).
If you say, “The soul here means the body,” I answer, That [the body] will die whether you sin or not.
6. Again, thus says the Lord: “When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness,” (or to that promise as [if it were] absolute and unconditional) “and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die” (Ezekiel 33:13).
Again: “When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die because of it” (Ezekiel 33:18).
Therefore, one who is holy and righteous in the judgment of God himself may yet fall as to perish everlastingly.
7. “But how is this [in Ezekiel] consistent with what God declared elsewhere?: ‘If his sons forsake My law and do not walk in My judgments,…then I will punish their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail.My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David:’” (Psalm 89:30-35).
I answer, There is no manner of inconsistency between one declaration and the other. The Prophet [Ezekiel] declares the just judgment of God against every righteous man who falls from his righteousness. The Psalmist declares the old lovingkindnesses which God swore unto David in His truth. “I have found,” He says, “My servant David; with My holy oil I have anointed him, with whom My hand shall be established; Also My arm shall strengthen him….His seed also I will make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven” (Psalm 89:20-21, 29). It follows: “If his sons forsake My law and do not walk in My judgments,…Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail.My covenant I will not break,…I will not lie to David: His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me;” (Ps 89:30, 33-34a, 35b-36).
Cannot everyone see that the covenant spoken of here [in Psalm 89] relates wholly to David and his seed or children? Where, then, is the inconsistency, between the most absolute promise made to a particular family, and that solemn account which God has here [in Ezekiel] given of His way of dealing with all mankind.
Besides, the very covenant mentioned in these words [in Psalm 89] is not absolute, but conditional. The condition of repentance in case of forsaking God’s law was implied, though not expressed; and so strongly implied, that, this condition failing, not being performed, God did also fail David. God did “alter the word that had gone out of His lips,” and yet without any impeachment of His truth. God “cast off and abhorred” and was “furious with His anointed” (Ps 89:38), the seed of David, whose throne, if they had repented, should have been “established forever like the moon, even like the faithful witness in the sky” (Ps 89:37). God did “renounce the covenant of His servant;” and “profane his crown by casting it to the ground” (Ps 89:39). So vainly are these words of the Psalmist brought to contradict the plain, full testimony of the Prophet [Ezekiel]!
8. Nor is there any contradiction between this testimony of God by Ezekiel, and those words which He spoke by Jeremiah: “…I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you” [Jer 31:3]. For do these words assert, that no righteous man ever turns from his righteousness? They assert no such thing. They do not touch the question, but simply declare God’s love to the Jewish Church. To see this in the clearest light, you need only read over the whole sentence: “‘At the same time,’ says the Lord, ‘I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.’Thus says the Lord: ‘The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness—Israel, when I went to give him rest.’ ‘The Lord has appeared of old to me,’ (says the Prophet Jeremiah, speaking in the person of Israel), ‘saying’: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel!’” (Jer 31:1-4)
Allow me here to observe, once for all, a fallacy which is constantly used by almost all writers on this point. They perpetually beg the question, by applying to particular persons assertions, or prophecies, which relate only to the Church in general; and some of them only to the Jewish Church and nation, as distinguished from all other people.
If you say, “But it was particularly revealed to me, that God had loved me with an everlasting love;” I answer, Suppose it was (which is debatable). It proves no more, at the most, than that you in particular shall persevere; but does not affect the general question, whether others shall, or shall not.
[II.] 9. Secondly. One who is endued with the faith that purifies the heart, that produces a good conscience, may, nevertheless so fall from God as to perish everlastingly.
For thus says the inspired Apostle, “…war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:” (1 Tim 1:18-19, KJV).
Observe, (1.) These men (such as Hymenaeus and Alexander) had once the faith that purifies the heart, that produces a good conscience; which they once had, or they could not have “put it away.”
Observe, (2.) They “made shipwreck” of the faith, which necessarily implies the total and final loss of it. For a vessel once wrecked can never be recovered. It is totally and finally lost.
And the Apostle himself, in his Second Epistle to Timothy mentions one of these two as irrecoverably lost. “Alexander,” says he, “did me much evil: the Lord shall reward him according to his works.” (2 Tim 4:14.) Therefore one who is endued with the faith that purifies the heart, that produces a good conscience, may nevertheless so fall from God as to perish everlastingly.
10. “But how can this be reconciled with the words of our Lord, ‘He that believeth shall be saved?’” [a partial quotation of Mark 16:16]
Do you think these words mean, “he that believes” at this moment “shall” certainly and inevitably “be saved?”
If this interpretation be good, then, by all the rules of speech, the other part of the sentence must mean, “He” that does “not believe” at this moment, “shall” certainly and inevitably “be damned.”
Therefore, that interpretation cannot be good. The plain meaning then of the whole sentence is, “He that believeth,” if he continue in faith, “shall be saved; he that believeth not,” if he continue in unbelief, “shall be damned.”
11. “But does not Christ say elsewhere, ‘He who believes in the Son has everlasting life’? (John 3:36,) and, ‘he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life’?” (John 5:24).
I answer, (1.) The love of God is everlasting life. It is, in substance, the life of heaven. Now, everyone that believes, loves God, and therefore “has everlasting life.”
(2.) Every one that believes, “has” therefore “passed from death,” spiritual death, “into life;” and,
(3.) “Shall not come into judgment [in the sense of condemnation],” if he endures in the faith unto the end; according to our Lord’s own words, “He who endures to the end shall be saved [Matt 10:22; 24:13];” and, “Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death” (John 8:51).
[III.] 12. Thirdly. Those who are grafted into the good olive tree, the spiritual, invisible Church, may nevertheless so fall from God as to perish everlastingly.
For thus says the Apostle: “And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree,…Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.” (Romans 11:17, 20b-22.)
We may observe here, (1.) The persons spoken to were actually grafted into the olive tree.
(2.) This olive tree is not merely the outward, visible Church, but the invisible, consisting of holy believers. Therefore, we have the text: “For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches” (Rom 11:16), and “Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith” (Rom 11:20a).
(3.) These holy believers were still liable to be cut off from the invisible Church, into which they were then grafted.
(4.) Here is not the least intimation of those who were so cut off being ever grafted in again.
Therefore, those who are grafted into the good olive-tree, the spiritual invisible Church, may nevertheless so fall from God as to perish everlastingly.
13. “But how does this agree with Romans 11:29, ‘For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable’?
The preceding verse [Rom 11:28] shows: “…concerning the election” (the unconditional election of the Jewish nation), “theyare beloved for the sake of the fathers,” i.e., for the sake of their forefathers. It follows (In proof of this, that “they are beloved for the sake of the fathers,” that God has still blessings in store for the Jewish nation:) “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable;” for God does not repent of any blessings He has given them, or any privileges He has called them to. The words here referred to were originally spoken with a peculiar regard to these national blessings. “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent” (Numbers 23:19).
14. “But do you not by this make God changeable? Whereas, ‘with Him there is no variation or shadow of turning’ (James 1:17).” By no means. God is unchangeably holy; Therefore, He always “loves righteousness and hates iniquity” [Ps 45:7; Heb 1:9]. He is unchangeably good; therefore, He pardons all who “repent and believe the Gospel” [Mk 1:15]. And He is unchangeably just: Therefore, He “rewards every man according to his works” [see footnote]. But there is nothing in God’s character or in His written word that implies that God cannot resist those same people—when they are proud—to whom He previously gave genuine grace when they were humble. The reality is that His unchangeableness itself requires that, if they grow high-minded or haughty, God should cut them off; that there should be a proportionable change in all the divine dispensations toward them.
15. “But how then is God faithful?” I answer, In fulfilling every promise which He has made, to all to whom it is made, all who fulfill the condition of that promise. More particularly, (1.) “God is faithful” in that He “will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor 10:13). (2.) “The Lord is faithful, to establish and keep you from evil” (if you put your trust in Him), from all the evil which you might otherwise suffer, through “unreasonable & wicked men” (2 Thes 3:2-3). (3.) “Quench not the Spirit; hold fast that which is good; abstain from all appearance of evil; and your whole spirit, soul, and body, shall be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thes 5:19, 21-24). (4.) Be not disobedient to the heavenly calling [Acts 26:19/Heb 3:1]; and “God is faithful, by whom ye were called, to confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:8, 9). Yet, despite all this, unless you fulfill the condition, you cannot attain the promise.
“Nay, but are not ‘all the promises, yea and amen’ [2 Cor 1:20]?” They are firm as the pillars of heaven. Perform the condition, and the promise is sure. Believe, and thou shalt be saved.
“But many promises are absolute and unconditional.” In many, the condition is not expressed. But this does not prove that there is no condition implied. No promises can be expressed in a more absolute form, than those above cited from the 89th Psalm. And yet we have seen that a condition was implied even there, even though none was expressed.
16. “But there is no condition, either expressed or implied, in those words of St. Paul: ‘I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’” (Romans 8:38, 39.)
Suppose there is not (which is debatable), yet what will this prove? Only this much—that the Apostle was at that time fully persuaded of his own perseverance. And I do not doubt that many believers at this present day have the very same persuasion, which is called in Scripture, “the full assurance of hope.” But this does not prove that every believer will persevere, any more than it proves that every believer is fully persuaded of his own perseverance.
IV. 17. Fourthly. Those who are branches of the true vine, of whom Christ says, “I am the vine, you are the branches,” [Jn 15:5a] may nevertheless so fall from God as to perish everlastingly.
For thus says our blessed Lord Himself, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;…I am the vine, you are the branches…If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:1-2a, 5a, 6).
Here we may observe, (1.) The persons spoken of were in Christ, branches of the true vine: (2.) Some of these branches abide not in Christ, but the Father taketh them away: (3.) The branches which abide not are cast forth, cast out from Christ and His Church: (4.) They are not only cast forth, but withered; consequently, never grafted in again: Nay, (5.) They are not only cast forth and withered, but also cast into the fire: And, (6.) They are burned. It is not possible for words more strongly to declare, that even those who are now branches in the true vine may yet so fall as to perish everlastingly.
18. By using this clear, indisputable declaration of our Lord [in John 15:1-6], we can interpret His other declarations relevant to this subject, the meaning of which might otherwise be debatable. Because whatever message Jesus intended to communicate, He certainly did not intend to contradict Himself. Take, for example, His words: “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing” [Jn 6:39a]. Most surely; all that God gives Him, or, as it is expressed in the next verse, “everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him” namely, to the end, He “will raise him up at the last day” [Jn 6:40] to reign with Him forever.
Again: “I am the living bread…if any man eat of this bread,” (by faith,) “he shall live forever” (John 6:51). True; if he continue to eat thereof. And who can doubt of it?
Again: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of My hand” (John 10:27, 28).
In the preceding text [of John 6:51] the condition is only implied; in this [of John 10:27-28], it is plainly expressed. I.e., They are My sheep that hear My voice, that follow Me in all holiness. And “if ye do those things, ye shall never fall” [2 Pet 1:10]. None shall “pluck you out of My hands.”
Again: “Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end.” (John 13:1). “Having loved His own,” namely, the Apostles, (as the very next words, “which were in the world,” evidently show,) “He loved them unto the end” of His life, and manifested that love to the last.
19. Once more: “Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one, as We are.” (John 17:11.)
Great stress has been laid upon this text; and it has been inferred from this passage that all those whom the Father had given to Jesus/the Son (a phrase frequently occurring in this chapter) must infallibly persevere to the end.
And yet, in the very next verse, our Lord Jesus Himself declares that one of those whom the Father had given Him did not persevere unto the end, but perished everlastingly.
His own words are, “Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition” (John 17:12).
So one even of these was finally lost!—a demonstration that the phrase, “Those whom You gave Me,” signifies here (if not in most other places too) the twelve Apostles, and them only.
20. On this occasion, I cannot but observe another common instance of begging the question,–of taking for granted what ought to be proved. It is usually laid down as an indisputable truth, that whatever our Lord speaks to or of his Apostles, is to be applied to all believers. But this cannot be allowed by any who impartially search the Scriptures. They cannot allow, without clear and particular proof, that any one of those texts which related primarily to the Apostles (as all men grant) belong to any but them.
V. 21. Fifthly. Those who so effectually know Christ, as by that knowledge to have escaped the pollutions of the world, may yet fall back into those pollutions, and perish everlastingly.
For thus says the Apostle Peter, “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” (the only possible way of escaping them,) “they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2 Peter 2:20, 21).
That the knowledge of the way of righteousness which they had attained, was an inward knowledge based on personal experience is evident from that other expression,–they had “escaped the pollutions of the world;” an expression parallel to that in the preceding chapter, verse 4, “…having escaped the corruption that is in the world” [2 Pet 1:4c]. And in both chapters, this effect is ascribed to the same cause; which is called in the first chapter, “the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” [2 Pet 1:3b], and which is called in the second chapter, more explicitly, “the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” [2 Pet 2:20].
And yet they lost that very real, personal, and experiential knowledge of Christ and the way of righteousness. They fell back into the same pollutions they had earlier escaped from, and they were “again entangled in them and overcome” [2 Pet 2:20]. They turned “from the holy commandment delivered to them” [2 Pet 2:21], so that their “latter end” was “worse for them than the beginning” [2 Pet 2:20].
Therefore, those who so effectually know Christ, as by that knowledge to have escaped the pollutions of the world, may yet fall back into those pollutions, and perish everlastingly.
22. And this is perfectly consistent with St. Peter’s words, in the first chapter of his former Epistle: “…who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation” [1 Pet 1:5]. Undoubtedly, so are all of those who ever have or ever will attain to eternal salvation. It is the power of God only, and not our own, by which we are kept one day or one hour.
VI. 23. Sixthly. Those who see the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and who have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, of the witness and the fruits of the Spirit, may nevertheless so fall from God as to perish everlastingly.
For thus says the inspired writer to the Hebrews: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,…if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame” (Heb 6:4, 6.)
Must not every unprejudiced person see that the expressions used here in this passage from the Epistle to the Hebrews are so strong and so clear that they cannot possibly be understood to be speaking of anyone except true believers? It would indeed require an extreme and obvious effort to distort the interpretation of this passage so that it could be understood to speak of any others.
They “were once enlightened” [Heb 6:4], an expression familiar with the Apostle, and never by him applied to anyone except believers. So, “…the God of our Lord Jesus Christ…give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation…the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling…and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe” (Eph 1:17-19). So again: “…God who commanded light to shine out of darkness…has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). This is a light which no unbelievers have. Unbelievers are utter strangers to such enlightening, “whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Cor 4:4).
They had “tasted the heavenly gift,” (emphatically so called,) and had “become partakers of the Holy Spirit” (Heb 6:4). So St. Peter likewise couples them together: “…be baptized…for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 2:38;) by which the love of God was shed abroad in their hearts, with all the other fruits of the Spirit. It is indeed remarkable that our Lord Himself, in His grand commission to St. Paul (to which the Apostle probably alludes in these words), encompasses all these three particulars. “I now send you to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God” (here reduced to that one expression, “they were enlightened”) “that they may receive forgiveness of sins,” (‘the heavenly gift,’) “and an inheritance among those who are sanctified” (Acts 26:17-18;) which are made “partakers of the Holy Ghost,” of all the sanctifying influences of the Spirit.
The expression, “They tasted of the heavenly gift,” is taken from the Psalmist, “Taste & see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). As if he had said, Be as assured of His love, as of anything you see with your eyes. And let the assurance of it be sweet to your soul, as honey is to your tongue.
And yet we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews that those who had been thus “enlightened,” and had “tasted” this “gift,” and had been “partakers of the Holy Ghost,” afterward then “fell away” to such an extent that it was “impossible to renew them again to repentance.”
“But the apostle makes only a supposition: ‘If they shall fall away.’”
I answer: The Apostle makes no supposition at all. There is no if in the original. The words are, [Wesley gives the Greek]; that is, in plain English, “It is impossible to renew again unto repentance those who were once enlightened” and have fallen away; therefore, they must perish everlastingly.
24. “But if so, then farewell all my comfort.”
Then your comfort depends on a poor foundation. My comfort stands not on any opinion, either that a believer can or cannot fall away, not on the remembrance of anything that was done in me in the past, but only on what is today; on my present knowledge of God in Christ, reconciling me to Himself; on my now beholding the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; walking in the light as He is in the light, and having fellowship with the Father and with the Son. My comfort is, that through grace I now believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that his Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I am a child of God. I take comfort in this, and this only, that I see Jesus at the right hand of God; that I personally for myself, and not for another, have a hope full of immortality; that I feel the love of God shed abroad in my heart, being crucified to the world, and the world crucified to me. My rejoicing is this, the testimony of my conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, I have my manner of living in the world.
Go and find, if you can, a more solid joy, a more blissful comfort, on this side heaven. But this comfort is not shaken, be that opinion true or false; whether the saints in general can or cannot fall.
If you take up with any comfort short of this, then you lean on the staff of a broken reed, which not only will not bear your weight, but which will enter into your hand and pierce you.
[VII.] 25. Seventhly. Those who live by faith, may yet fall from God and perish everlastingly.
For thus says the same inspired writer, “Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him” (Heb 10:38). “The just,” the justified person, “shall live by faith,” even now shall he live the life which is hid with Christ in God; and if he endures to the end, he shall live with God forever. “But if anyone draws back,” says the Lord, “My soul shall have no pleasure in him;” that is, I will utterly cast him off; and, accordingly the drawing back here spoken of is called, in the verse immediately following, drawing “back to perdition” [Heb 10:39].
“But the hypothetical person [in Heb 10:38] who is supposed to draw back is not the same person as the justified one who is said to live by faith.”
I answer, (1.) Who is it then? Can any man draw back from faith who never came to it? But,
(2.) Had the text [of Heb 10:38] been properly translated there would be no ground or excuse for making this objection. For the original runs thus: [Wesley gives the Greek] If [in Greek], “the just man that lives by faith,” (so the expression necessarily implies, there being no other nominative of the verb,) “draws back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him.”
“But the Apostle adds: ‘But we are not of those who draw back to perdition’” [Heb 10:39]. And what will you infer from those words of the Apostle? This is so far from contradicting what has already been observed that it manifestly confirms it. It is a further proof that there are those “who draw back to perdition,” although the Apostle was not of that number. Therefore those who live by faith may yet fall from God and perish everlastingly.
26. “But does not God say to everyone that lives by faith, ‘I will never leave thee nor forsake thee?’” [Heb 13:5b]
The whole verse of Hebrews 13:5 runs thus: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” True, provided that you actually “Let your conduct be without covetousness,” and that you “be content with such things as you have.” Then you may “boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me’” [Heb 13:6].
Do you not see, (1.) That the promise of Hebrews 13:5 relates wholly to temporal things? (2.) That even when the verse is taken in this sense that it is not an absolute promise but a conditional one? And, (3.) That the condition is expressly mentioned in the very same verse as the promise?
[VIII.] 27. Eighthly. Those who are sanctified by the blood of the covenant, may so fall from God as to perish everlastingly.
For thus again says the Apostle: “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimonyof two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, [and has] counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing” (Heb 10:26-29)!
In the passage quoted directly above, it is undeniably plain, (1.) That the person mentioned here, was once sanctified by the blood of the covenant. (2.) That he afterward, by known, willful sin, trampled underfoot the Son of God. And, (3.) That he, as a result of this sin, incurred a worse punishment than death, namely, death everlasting.
Therefore, those who are sanctified by the blood of the covenant may yet so fall as to perish everlastingly.
28. “What! Can the blood of Christ burn in hell? Or can the purchase of the blood of Christ go to that place?”
I answer, (1.) The blood of Christ cannot burn in hell, no more than it can be spilled on the earth. The heavens must contain both his flesh and blood until the restitution of all things. But,
(2.) If the oracles of God are true, then a person who was purchased by the blood of Christ, may go to hell. For the person who was sanctified by the blood of Christ, was also purchased by the blood of Christ. But a person who was sanctified by the blood of Christ may nevertheless, go to hell, and may thus fall under that fiery indignation which shall forever devour the adversaries.
29. “Can a child of God then go to hell? Or can a person be a child of God today and a child of the devil tomorrow? If God is our Father once, is he not our Father always?”
I answer, (1.) A child of God, that is, a true believer, (for he that believes is born of God,) while he continues a true believer, cannot go to hell. But, (2.) If a believer makes shipwreck of the faith, then he is no longer a child of God. And then he may indeed go to hell, yes, and certainly will, if he continues in unbelief. (3.) If a believer can make shipwreck of the faith, then a man who believes now can be an unbeliever sometime in the future, yes, very possibly, even tomorrow! But, if so, then he who is a child of God today, may indeed be a child of the devil tomorrow. For, (4.) God is the Father of those who believe, so long as they believe. But the devil is the father of those who do not believe, whether they believed at one time in the past or not.
30. The sum of all this is: If the Scriptures are true, those who are holy or righteous in the judgment of God Himself; those who are endued with the faith that purifies the heart, that produces a good conscience; those who are grafted into the good olive-tree, the spiritual, invisible Church; those who are branches of the true vine, of whom Christ says, “I am the vine, you are the branches;” those who so effectually know Christ, as by that knowledge to have escaped the pollutions of the world; those who see the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and who have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, of the witness and of the fruits of the Spirit; those who live by faith in the Son of God; those who are sanctified by the blood of the covenant, may nevertheless so fall from God as to perish everlastingly.
“Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” [1 Cor 10:12].
 John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley, vol. 10 (London: Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, 1872; reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 3rd Edition, Complete & Unabridged; 2007), pp. 284-298. Some of the archaic English used by Wesley in this work has been updated to modern English, as well as some of the archaic English of the many Scripture passages he quotes. The italics are Wesley’s, but the bolding and the comments in  brackets and the underlining are mine.
 The Bible—everywhere and throughout—teaches that we will be judged (rewarded or punished) according to our deeds/works or according to what we have done or according to our ways, whether they be righteous or wicked. For example, see 1 Sam 2:3; 2 Sam 3:39; 1 Kings 8:39; 2 Chron 6:23, 30; Job 34:11; Ps 28:4; 62:12; Prov 22:8 [LXX]; 24:12; Eccles. 12:14; Is 3:10, 11; Jer 17:10; 25:14; 32:19; Lam 3:64; Ezek 7:3, 8, 9, 27; 9:10; 11:21; 24:14; 33:20; 36:19; Hosea 12:2; Zech 1:6; Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 11:26; 16:12, 14; 35:24; Matt 16:27; Rom 2:6; 1 Cor 3:8; 2 Cor 5:10; 11:15; Gal 6:7; 2 Tim 4:14; 1 Peter 1:17; Rev 2:23; 18:6; 20:12, 13; 22:12, etc.