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Out of the question

23 October 2015


Your answers

In “O for a thousand tongues to sing”, what does “He breaks the power of cancelled sin” mean?


Charles Wesley’s classical background at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, meant that, following the practice of many English verse-writers of the day, he would employ a familiar Latin construction. The conjunction “and” was not used as frequently in Latin as in English. A Roman writer wishing to say “Caesar captured the city and burnt it” would say, “Caesar burnt the captured city.”

Imitating this usage, Wesley’s “He breaks the power of cancelled sin” means “He cancels our sin and breaks its power.” Two glorious statements about the “ordo salutis”.

(Prebendary) Norman Wallwork

Cowley, Exeter


. . . The cancelling of sin, of course, comes first in the order of salvation, achieved by Christ’s death and resurrection and appropriated by believers. By God’s grace, Wesley states in a later stanza, we may know our sins forgiven.

The subsequent work of grace to “break the power” of sin was more controversial. Eighteenth-century Methodism spoke of “pressing on to perfection” through the use of the means of grace, but also experienced episodes of Charismatic revival. John Wesley himself, in the course of his long life, became more cautious in his claims to know individuals who had received the gift of freedom from the power of sin, and yet continued to insist on the possibility of “Christian perfection”.

(The Revd) Margaret Jones



Your questions


What would happen if, on the day of an episcopal consecration by the Archbishop of Canterbury, he was off sick? Would it be conducted by another bishop or be deferred?

S. C.


Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG.



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