John Wesley.

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present dispensation he is undoubtedly aiming at that point,
to spread holiness over the land. It is our wisdom to have
this always in view, inward and outward holiness. A
thousand things will be presented by men and devils to
divert us from our point. These we are to watch against
continually, as they will be continually changing their
shape. But let your eye be single ; aim stiU at one thing:
holy, loving faith ; giving God the whole heart. And incite
all to this ; one love ; one present and eternal heaven,


* February 11, 1775,

There seems to be in our excellent friend something
too near akin to apathy : "A clergj^man," said one, (but I
do not agree with him in this,) " ought to be aU intellect ;
no passion." She appears to be (I will not aflirm she is)
at no great distance from this. It is true, by tliis means
"^ we might avoid much pain ; but we should also lose much
happiness. Therefore this is a state which I cannot de-
sire. Rather give me the pleasure and pain too : rather let

♦' Plain life, with heightening passions rise.
The boast or burden of an hour."

But who has attained this ? Who treads the middle path,
equally remote from both extremes ? I will tell you one
that did, (although the remembrance of her still brings

(tears into my eyes,) that lovely saint, Jane Cooper ! There
was the due mixture of intellect and passion ! I remember
one of the last times I saw her, before her last illness, her


look, her attitude, her words! My dear friend, be you a
follower of her, as she was of Clirist.


Ju7ie 9, 1775.

Very possibly, if I should live seven years longer, we

should be acquainted with each other. I verily think your

reserve wears off, though only by a hair's breadth at a

time. Quicken your pace. What you do, do quickly.

\ " Scarce any thing important enough to write upon!" Why,

I could you not say something about yourself ? And is there

I any thing relating to your welfare which is not important

f to me ? Am not I concerned in every thing which concerns

iyou ? which either lessens or increases your happiness ? I
want you to be as happy, and, in order thereto, as holy as
an angel ; that you may do the will of God on earth, as
angels do in heaven.

I am less careful about your increase in knowledge, any
farther than it tends to love. There is a danger of your
laying more stress on this than sound reason requires.
Otherwise you would reap much profit from sermons which
do not improve your knowledge, — which do not apply to
the imderstanding so directly as to the heart. I feel more
want of heat than light. I value light ; but it is nothing
I compared to love. Aim at this, my dear friend, in all pub-
lic exercises ; and then you will seldom be disappointed.
Then you will not stop on the threshold of perfection ; (I
trust you do not now ;) but will press on to the mark, to
the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus ; till
you experimentally know all that love of God which pass-
eth all (speculative) knowledge.

The lengthening of your life, and the restoring your
health, are invaluable blessings. But do you ask how you
shall improve them to the glory of the Giver? And are you
willing to know ? Then I will tell you how. Go and see
the poor and sick in their own poor little hovels. Take up


your cross, woman ! Remember the faith ! Jesus went be-
fore you, and will go with you. Put off the gentlewoman :
you bear a higher character. You are an heir of God, and
joint heir with Christ ! Are you not going to meet him in
the air, with ten thousand of his saints ? O be ready !


February 7, 1776.
) I HAVE found some of the uneducated poor who hare
I exquisite taste and sentiment ; and many, very many, of
\ the rich who have scarcely any at all. But I do not speak
of this : I want you to converse more, abundantly more,
with the poorest of the people, who, if they have not taste,
have souls, which you may forward in their way to heaven.
And they have (many of them) faith, and the love of God,
in a larger measure than any persons I know. Creep in
among these, in spite of dirt and a hundred disgusting cir-
cumstances ; and thus put off the gentlewoman. Do not
confuie your conversation to genteel and elegant people.
I should like this as well as you do : but I cannot discover
a precedent for it in the life of our Lord, or any o*f his
apostles. My dear friend, let you and I walk as he

I now understand you with regard to the P s ; but I

fear in this you are too delicate. It is certain their preach-
ing is attended with the power of God to the hearts of
many ; and why not to yours ? Is it not owing to a want
of simplicity ? " Are you going to hear Mr. Wesley ?" said
I a friend to Mr. Blackwell. " No," he answered : " I am
going to hear God : I listen to him, whoever preaches ;
otherwise I lose all my labour."

" You will only be content to convert worlds ? You shall
hew wood, or carry brick and mortar ; and when you do
this in obedience to the order of Providence, it shall be
more profitable to your own soul than the other." You
may remember Mr. De Renty's other remark : " I then



saw that a Avell-instructed Christian is never hindered by
any person or thing. For whatever prevents his doing
good works gives him a fresh opportunity of submitting his
will to the will of God ; which at that time is more pleasing
to God, and more profitable to his soul, than any thing else
which he could possibly do."

Never let your expenses exceed your income. To ser-
vants I would give fuU as much as others give for the same
service ; and not more. It is impossible to lay down any
general rules as to " saving all we can," and " giving all
we can." In this, it seems, we must needs be directed,
from time to time, by the unction of the Holy One. Evil
spirits have undoubtedly abundance of work to do in an
evil world ; frequently in concurrence with wicked men,
and frequently without them.


February 36, 1776.

What I advise you to is, not to contract a friendship,
or even acquaintance, with poor, inelegant, uneducated
persons ; but frequently, nay, constantly, to visit the poor,
the widow, the sick, the fatherless, in their affliction ; and
this, although they should have nothing to recommend
them, but that they are bought with the blood of Christ.
It is true, this is not pleasing to flesh and blood. There
are a thousand circumstances usually attending it which
shock the delicacy of our nature, or rather of our educa-
tion. But yet the blessing which follows this labour of
love will more than balance the cross.

" To be uneasy under obligations which we cannot re-
pay," is certainly a fruit of diabolical generosity ; and
therefore Milton, with great propriety, ascribes it to the
devil, and makes him speak quite in character when he
says, concerning his obligations to God himself,^

'•So burdensome still paying, still to owe."


I am quite of another mind : I entirely agree with you,
that the more sensible we are of such obligations, the more
happy we are. Surely this yoke is easy, and this burden
is light !

Perhaps, if you give another reading to " Thoughts upon
Dress," you will clearly see that both reason and religion
are more deeply concerned than we are apt to imagine,
even in the trifling article of dress ; trifling, if compared
with the weightier matters of the law ; yet, in itself, of no
small importance ; and that, whether you consider your-
self as an individual, or as a member of a Christian society.
Certainly, Dr. Young can only mean, " None is happy,
unless he thinks himself so ;" and truly this is no great
discovery. Is it any more than, " None is happy unless
he is so ?" If he means more than this, he means wrong :
for we know the best man is the happiest ; but if I thought
myself the best man in the world, I should be very proud,
and consequently not happy at all.


Ap-il 26, 1777.

To begin at the end : I did not preach any sermon for
you in particular, though, by accident, I know what sermon
you mean ; and both you and I have need of it.

I have some fine remains of Charles Perronet's, wherein
he describes his own experience. It exactly agrees with
yours. He too was led at first to Jesus the Mediator, and
seemed, in a manner, to have no concern with the Father
and the Holy Ghost. Afterward, he had communion with
the Father, next with the Spirit, and then with the whole
Trinity. You therefore are afraid where no fear is. Our
Lord is not displeased at your following his Spirit.

I do not remember the making mention of covetousness :
but it is likely I might ; for I am exceedingly afraid of it,
lest it should steal unawares (as it always comes in dis-
guise) either upon myself or my friends. I know no way


to escape it, but (having saved all we can) to give all we
can. I think this is, at present, your rule as well as mine:
and I trust it always will be*

We cannot impute too much to divine providence, un-
less we make it interfere with our free agency. I suppose
that young woman, by saying she did not beheve God had
any thing to do with it, only meant that the passion itself
was not at all from God, but altogether from evil nature :
she could not mean that God does not, in a thousand
instances, draw good out of evil, yea, that he may not
sometimes permit us to be overtaken in a fault to preserve
us from a greater.

General rules are easily laid down. But it is not pos-
sible to apply them accurately in particular cases without
the anointing of the Holy One : this alone, abiding with
us, can teach us of all things. Thus our general rule is,
*' Thou shalt do no murder ;" which plainly forbids every
thing that tends to impair health, and implies that Ave use
every probable means of preserving or restoring it. But
when we come to apply this to particular instances, we
are presently in a labyrinth, and want that anointing which
alone can make plain the way before our face, and direct
us to do, in every minute circumstance, what is acceptable
to God.

You have abundant reason to praise God, both for spi-
ritual and temporal blessings. Beware of indulging gloomy
thoughts : they are the bane of thankfulness. You are en-
compassed with ten thousand mercies : let these sink you
into humble thankfulness.


December 10, 1777.

You do not at all understand my manner of life. Though

I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry ; because I

never undertake any more work than I can go through

with perfect cahnness of spirit. It is true, I travel four or


five thousand miles in a year. But I generally travel alone
in my carriage ; and, consequently, am as retired ten hours
in a day, as if I was in a wilderness. On other days I
never spend less than three hours (frequently ten or twelve)
in the day alone. So there are few persons in the king-
dom who spend so many hours secluded from all company.
Yet I find time to visit the sick and the poor ; and I must
do it, if I believe the Bible, if I believe these are the marks
whereby the Shepherd of Israel will know and judge his
sheep at the great day : therefore, when there is time and
opportunity for it, who can doubt but this is matter of ab-
solute duty? When I was at Oxford, and lived almost like
a hermit, I saw not how any busy man could be saved. I
scarce thought it possible for a man to retain the Christian
spirit amid the noise and bustle of the world. God taught
me better by my own experience. 1 had ten times more
business in America (that is, at intervals) than ever I had
in my life. But it was no hinderance to silence of spirit.
Mr. Boehm was chaplain to Prince George of Denmark;
secretary to him and Queen Anne ; principal manager of
almost all the public charities in the kingdom, and em-
ployed in numberless private charities. An intimate friend,
knowing this, said to him when they were alone, " Sir, are
/ you not hurt by that amazing hurry of business ? I have
seen you in your office, surrounded with people, hstening
to one, dictating to another, and at the same time writing
I to a third : could you then retain a sense of the presence
of God ?" He answered, " All that company, and all that
business, no more hindered or lessened my communion
with God, than if I had been all alone in a church kneel-
I ing before the communion table." Was it not the same
i case with him to whom Gregory Lopez said, " Go and be
I. a hermit in Mexico?" I am concerned for you: I am sorry
I you should be content with lov*^er degrees of usefulness
^ and hohness than you are called to. But I cannot help it:
60 I submit.


C— TO MRS, A. F.

October 12, 1764.

My Dear Sister, — That great truth, " that we are
saved by faith," will never be worn out ; and that sanctify-
ing as well as justifying faith is the free gift of God. Now
with God one day is as a thousand years. It plainly fol-
lows that the quantity of time is nothing to him : centuries,
years, months, days, hours, and moments are exactly the
same. Consequently he can as well sanctify in a day
after we are justified as a hundred years. There is no
difference at all, unless we suppose him to be such a one
as ourselves. Accordingly we see, in fact, that some of
the most unquestionable witnesses of sanctifying grace
were sanctified within a few days after they were justified.

I have seldom known so devoted a soul as S H ,

at Macclesfield, who was sanctified within nine days after
she was convinced of sin. She was then twelve years
old, and I believe was never afterward heard to speak an
improper word, or known to do an improper thing. Her
look struck an awe into all that saw her. She is now in
Abraham's bosom.

Although, therefore, it usually pleases God to interpose
some time between justification and sanctification, yet, as
it is expressly observed in the *' Farther Thoughts," we
must not fancy this to be an invariable rule. All who
think tliis, must think we are sanctified by works, or,
which comes to the same, by sufferings : for, otherwise,
what is time necessary for ? It must be either to do or to
suffer. Whereas if nothing be required but simple faith, a
moment is as good as an age.

The truth is, we are continually forming general rules

from our own particular experience. Thus S K ,

having gone about and about herself, which took up a con-
siderable time, might very naturally suppose all who are
sanctified must stay for it near as long a time as she did




Again : if God has so rooted and grounded her in lore
(which I neither affirm nor deny) that she cannot now fall
from him, she very naturally thinks this is the case with

all that are sanctified. Formerly S C drew the

same inference from her own experience, and was as posi-
tive that she could not fall from that state, or sin, as S

R can be now.

But " none can be sanctified without a deep knowledge
of themselves and of the devices of Satan." They may,
without the latter; which God will give them in due time.
And the former he can give in a moment ; and frequently
does, of which we have fresh instances almost every day.

In the " Thoughts on Perfection," it is observed that,
before any can be assured they are saved from sin, they
must not only feel no sin, but " have a direct witness" of
that salvation. And this several have had as clear as

S R- has, who afterward fell from that salvation ;

although S R , to be consistent with her scheme,

must deny they ever had it ; yea, and must affirm that wit-
ness was either from nature or from the devil. If it was
really from God, is he well pleased with this ?

I know not how to reconcile speaking sharply or roughly,
or even a seeming want of meekness, with perfection. And
yet I am fearful of condemning whom God has not con-
demned. What I cannot understand I leave to him.

How is it that you make me write longer letters to you
than I do almost to any one else ? I know not how I find
a greater concern for your welfare. I want you to be ex-
actly right. This occasions my not thinking much of any
pains that may give you help or satisfaction. The Lord
touch your heart now, that all your tempers, thoughts,
words, and works may be holiness unto oiu: God !



Newcastle-upon-Tyne, June 20, 1764.
Will it be agreeable to my dear Lady Maxwell, that I
trouble her with a letter so soon ? and that I write with so
little ceremony ? that I use no compliment, but all plain-
ness of speech ? If it be not, you must tell me so, and I
shall know better how to speak for the time to come. In-
deed, it would be impleasing to me to use reserve : the
regard I feel for you strongly inclines me to " think aloud,"
to tell you every thought which rises in my heart. I think
God has taken unusual pains, so to speak, to make you a
Christian ; a Christian indeed, not in name, worshipping
God in spirit and in truth ; having in you the mind that
was in Christ, and walking as Christ also walked. He
has given you affliction upon affliction ; he has used every
possible means to unhinge your soul from things of earth,
that it might fix on him alone. How far the design of his
love has succeeded, 1 could not well judge from a short
conversation. Your ladyship will therefore give me leave
to inquire, Is the heaviness you frequently feel merely ow-
ing to weakness of body, and the loss of near relati<ms ? I
will hope it is not. It might, indeed, at first spring from
these outward pressures. But did not the gracious Spirit
of God strike in, and take occasion from these to convince
you of sin, of Unbelief, of the want of Christ ? And is not
the sense of this one great cause, if not the greatest, of
your present distress ? If so, the greatest danger is, either
that you should stifle that conviction, not suffering yourself
to be convinced that you are all sin, the chief of sinners ;
or that you should heal the wound slightly, that you should
rest before you know Christ is yours, before his Spirit
witnesses with your spirit that you are a child of God
My dear lady, be not afraid to know yourself; yea, to
know yourself as you are known. How soon, then, will
you know your Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ


the righteous ! And why not this day ? Why not this hour ?
If you feel your want, I beseech the God and Father of
our Lord Jesus Christ to look upon you now ! O give thy
servant power to believe ! to see and feel how thou hast
loved her ! Now let her sink down into the arms of thy
love ; and say unto her soul, " I am thy salvation,"

With regard to particular advices, I know not how far
your ladyship would have me to proceed. I would not be
backward to do any thing in my power ; and yet I would
not obtrude.


Manchester, July 10, 1764.
My Dear Lady, — Till I had the pleasure of receiving
yours, I was almost in doubt whether you would think it
worth your while to \vrite or not. So much the more I
rejoiced when that doubt was removed, and removed in so
agreeable a manner. I cannot but think of you often : I
«eem to see you just by me, panting after God, under the
heavy pressure of bodily weakness and faintness, bereaved
of your dearest relatives, convinced that you are a sinner,
a debtor that has nothing to pay, and just ready to cry out :

•'Jesus, now I have lost my all,
Let me upon thy bosom fall."

Amen, Lord Jesus ! Speak ; for thy servant heareth !
Speak thyself into her heart ! Lift up the hands that hang
down, and the feeble knees. Let her see thee full of
grace and truth, and make her glad with the light of thy

Do not stop, my dear lady, one moment, " because you
have not felt sorrow enough." Your Friend above has felt
enough of it for you.

" Lamb of God, was ever pain,
Was ever love like thiueT'


Look, look unto him, and be thou saved ! He is not a God
afar oft'; he is now hovering over you with eyes of ten-
derness and love ! Only believe ! Then he turns your
heaviness into joy. Do not think you are not humble
enough, not contrite enough, not earnest enough. You are
nothing ; but Christ is all, and he is yours. The Lord
God write it upon your hcail, and take you for a habitation
of God through the Spirit.

O that you may be ever as dead to the world as you are
now ! I apprehend the greatest danger from that quarter.
If you should be induced to seek happiness out of Christ,
how soon would your good desires vanish ! Especially, if
you should give way to the temptation to which your per-
son, your youth, and your fortune will not fail to expose
you. If you escape this snare, I trust you will be a real
Christian, having the power as well as the form of religion.
I expect you will then have likewise better health and spi-
rits ; perhaps to-morrow. But, O ! take Christ to-day ! I
long to have you happy in him !


September 22, 1764.
My Dear Lady,— You need be under no manner of
apprehension of writing too often to me. The more fre-
f quent your letters are, the more welcome they will be.
} When I have not heard from you for some time, I begin
J to be full of fears ; I am afraid either that your bodily wcak-
I ness increases, or that your desires after Gk)d grow cold.

(I consider you are at present but a tender, sickly plant,
easily hurt by any rough blast. But I trust this will not
\ be so long; for you have a strong Helper. And the Lord,
whom you serve, though feebly and imperfectly, will sud-
denly come to his temple. When, Lord ? Are all things
ready now? Here is the sinner; one whose mouth is stop-
ped ; who has nothing to pay ; who pleads neither her own


harmlessness, nor works, nor good desires, nor sincerity ;
but can adopt that strange word, —

" I give up every plea beside.
Lord, I am damn'd ; but thou hast died."

He has died ; therefore you shall hve. do not reason
against him ! Let him take you now ! Let him take yon
just as you are, and make you what is acceptable in his

It gives me pleasure, indeed, to hear that God has given
you resolution to join the society. Undoubtedly you will
suffer reproach on the account ; but it is the reproach of
Christ. And you will have large amends when the Spirit
of glory and of God shall rest upon you. Yet I foresee a
danger : at first you will be inclined to think that all the
members of the society are in earnest. And when you
find that some are otherwise, (which will always be the
case in so large a body of people,) then prejudice may
easily steal in, and exceedingly weaken your soul. O be-
ware of this rock of offence ! When you see any thing
amiss, (upon hearsay you will not readily receive it.) re-
member our Lord's word, " What is that to thee ? Follow
thou me." And I entreat you, do not regard the half-
Methodists, — if we must use the name. Do not mind
them who endeavour to hold Christ in one hand, and the
world in the other. I want you to be all a Christian ; such
a Christian as the Marquis de Renty or Gregory Lopez
was ; such a one as that saint of God, Jane Cooper, — all
sweetness, all gentleness, all love. Methinks you are just
what she was when I saw her first. I shrink at the
thought of seeing you what she was when I saw her last.
But why should I ? Wliat is all the pain of one that is glo-
rifying God in the fires, with, " Father, into thy hands I
commend my spirit ?"

May I not take upon me to give you one advice more ?
Be very wary how you contract new acquaintance. All,
even sincere people, will not profit you. I should be


pained at your conversing frequently with any but those
who are of a deeply serious spirit, and who speak closely
to the point- You need not condemn them, and yet you
may say, " This will not do for me."

May He that loves you richly supply all your wants,
and answer your enlarged desires !


Londonderry^ May 25, 176D.

Mv Dear Lady, — It is not easy for me to express tho
satisfaction I received in the few hours I lately spent with
you. Before I saw you I had many fears concerning you,
lest your concern for the one thing should be abated, lest
your desires should be cooled, or your mind a little hurt,
by any of the things which have lately occurred. So

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Online LibraryJohn WesleySelect letters, chiefly on personal religion → online text (page 11 of 18)