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much the greater was my joy when all those fears were
removed; when I found the same openness and sweetness
as before, both in your spirit and conversation, and the
same earnestness of desire after the only thing which de-
serves the whole strength of our affection. I beUeve ten-
derness and steadiness are seldom planted by nature in
one spirit. But what is too hard for almighty grace ? This
can give strength and softness together. Tliis is able to
fill your soul with all firmness, as well as with all gentle
ness. And hereunto are you called ; for nothing less than
all the mind which was in Christ Jesus.

It was with great pleasure that I observed your fixed
resolution not to rest in any thing short of this. I know
not why you should ; why you should be content with be-
ing half a Christian, devoted partly to God, and partly to
the world, or, more properly, to the devil. Nay, but let
us be all for God. He has created the whole, our whole
body, soul, and spirit. He that bought us hath redeemed
the whole ; and let him take the purchase of his blood.
Let him sanctify the whole, that all we have and are may
be a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving !



150 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

I am not afraid of your being satisfied with less than
tliis ; but I am afraid of your seeking it the wrong way.
Here is the danger, that you should seek it, not by faith,
but as it were by the works of the law. See how exactly
the apostle speaks : you do not seek it directly, but as it
were by works. I fear lest this should be your case,
which might retard your receiving the blessing. Christ
has died for you ; he has bought pardon for you. Why
should not you receive it now ? while you have this paper
in your hand ? Because you have not done thus or thus ?
See your own works. Because you are not thus and thus?
more contrite? more earnest? more sincere? See yoiu: own
righteousness. O let it all go ! None but Christ ! None
but Christ ! And if he alone is sufficient ; if what he has
suffered and done, if his blood and righteousness are
enough, they are nigh thee ! in thy mouth, and in thy heart!
See, all things are ready! Do not wait for this or that pre-
paration ! for something to bring to God ! Bring Christ !
Rather, let him bring you ; bring you home to Qod ! Lord
Jesus, take her ! Take her and all her sins ! Take her as
she is ! Take her now ! Arise, why tarriest thou ? Wash
away her sins ! Sprinkle her with thy blood ! Let her sink
down into the arms of thy love, and cry out, " My Lord
and my God !''

CV.— TO THE SAME.

Kilkenny, July 5, 1765.
Mv Dear Lady, — As yours was sent from Dubhn to
Cork, and then back again hither, I did not receive it
till yesterday. I am now setting my face again toward
England ; but I expect to be in Dublin till the beginning
of next month, and then to cross over, so as to be at Man-
chester (if it please God) about the middle of August.
Either at Dublin, or at Manchester, I hope to have the
pleasure of hearing from you. This is indeed a pleasure,
as it is to write to you ; though sometimes I do this with



i



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 151

fear; a fear lest I should give you any pain, as I know the
tenderness of your spirit. I wish I could be of some ser-
vice to you ; that I could encourage you to cast yourself
on Him that loves you ; that is now waiting to pour his
peace into your heart, to give you an entrance into the ho-
liest by his blood. See him, see him ! full of grace and
truth ! full of grace and truth for thee ! I do not doubt but
he is gradually working in yon ; but I want you to expe-
rience, likewise, an instantaneous work. Thfen shall the
gradual go on swiftly. Lord, speak ! Thy servant heareth!
Say thou, " Let there be light ;" and there shall be light.
Now let it spring up in your heart !

It may be. He that does all things well has wise reasons,
though not apparent to us, for working more gradually in
you than he has done of late years in most others. It may
please him to give you the consciousness of his favour, the
conviction that you are accepted through the Beloved, by
almost insensible degrees, like the dawning of the day.
And it is all one how it began, so you do but walk in the
light. Be this given in an instant, or by degrees, hold it
fast. Christ is yours ; he hath loved you ; he hath given
himself for you. Therefore you shall be holy as he is
holy, both in heart and in all manner of conversation.

Give me leave, my dear friend, to add a word, likewise,
concerning your bodily health. You should in anywise
give yourself all the air and exercise that you can. And
I should advise you (even though long custom made it
difficult, if that were the case) to sleep as early as possi-
ble ; never later than ten, in order to rise as early as health
will permit. The having good spirits, so called, or the
contrary, very much depends on this. I believe medicines
will do you little service : you need only proper diet, exaci
regularity, and constant exercise, with the blessing of God

Your speaking or writing was never tedious to me yet ^
and I am persuaded never will be.



i



152 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.



CVI.-TO THE SAME.

London, December 1, 1765.

Mv Dear Lady, — Perhaps there is scarce any child
of man that is not, at some time, a little touched by preju-
dice, so far, at least, as to be troubled, though not wounded.
But it does not hurt, unless it fixes upon tha mind. It is
not strength of understanding which can prevent this. The
heart, which otherwise suffers most by it, makes the re-
sistance which only is effectual. I cannot easily be pre-
judiced against any person whom I tenderly love, till that
love declines. So long, therefore, as our affection is pre-
served by watchfidness and prayer to Him that gave it,
prejudice must stand at a distance. Another excellent
defence against it is openness. I admire you upon this
account. You dare (in spite of that strange reserve which
prevails in North Britain) speak the naked sentiments of
your heart. I hope my dear friend will never do other
wise. In simplicity and godly sincerity, the very reverse
of worldly wisdom, have all your conversation in the world.

Have you received a gleam of hght from above, a spark
of faith? let it not go ! hold fast, by his grace, that token
of his love, that earnest of your inheritance. Come just
as you are, and come boldly, to the throne of grace. You
need not delay ! Ev^en now the bowels of Jesus Christ
yearn over you. What have you to do with to-morrow ?
I love you to-day. And how much more does he love
you! He

" Pities still his wand'ring sheep,
Longs to bring you to his fold !"

To-day hear his voice ; the voice of Him that speaks as
never man spake ; the voice that raises the dead, that calls
the things which are not as though they were. Hark !
what says he now ? " Fear not, only believe ! Woman, thy
sins are forgiven thee ! Go in peace ; thy faith hath made
thee whole."



Wesley's select letters. 153



CVIL— TO THE SAME.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne, May 6, 176C.

My Dear Lady, — It was well that I did not hear any
thing of a trial you lately had till it was past. You have
great reason to bless God that this did not turn you out of
the way. You might very easily have inferred from it that
" all these people are alike ;" and thence have given way
to a thousand reasonings, which would have brought you
into utter darkness. But it is plain you are not left to your
own weakness. You have a strong Helper. The Lord
stands on your right hand ; therefore you are not moved.
And I make no doubt but he will continue to help till his
arm brings you salvation. But, in the meantime, you
have need of patience ; and the more so, because you have
a weak body. This, one may expect, will frequently press
down the soul ; especially till you are strong in faith. But
how soon may that be, seeing it is the gift, yea, and the
free gift, of God ! Therefore it is never far off. The word
is nigh thee! " Only believe !" Look unto Jesus ! Be thou
saved! Receive out of his fulness grace upon grace ; mercy,
and grace to keep mercy.

On the 24th instant I hope to be at Edinburgh with my
wife and daughter. But perhaps you Avill see the salva-
tion of God before you see.

My dear lady.

Your ever affectionate servant.



CVIII.— TO THE SAME.

Norwich, February 23, 1767.
My Dear Lady, — For a considerable time I was under
apprehensions that you were in a state of temptation. And
as I had no other way of helping you, this put me upon
commending you the more frequently to Him that is able
to save you. Your last, therefore, was doubly acceptable

7*



15 i WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

to me, as it relieved me from my fears concerning you,
and gave me the occasion of rejoicing over one for whom
I have the most sincere and tender affection. Sure it is,
that the gi'ace of God is sufficient for you in this and in
ever}' trying hour. So you have happily experienced it to
be already ; and so I tnist you will experience to the end.
But you must not imagine that you are yet out of the reach
of temptation : thoughts will be suggested again and again,
so that you have still need to be



"For ever standing on your guard,
And watching unto prayer."



And let my dear friend keep at the utmost distance from
temptation, and carefully shun all occasions of evil. O it
is a good though painful fight ! You find you are not sent
a warfare at your own cost. You have Him with you who
can have compassion on your infirmities ; who remembers
you are but dust; and who, at the same time, has all power
in heaven and earth, and so is able to save you to the utter-
most. Exercise, especially as the spring comes on, will
be of greater service to your health than a hundred medi-
cines; and I know not whether it will not be restored in a
larger measure than for many years when the peace of
God fixes in your heart. Is it far off ? Do not think so.
Iris ear is not heavy; he now hears the cry of your heart.
And will he not answer 1 Why not to-day ? Come, Lord
Jesus, come quickly ! Your openness obliges me to be
more than ever,

My dear lady.

Your affectionate friend and servant.

CIX.— TO THE SAME.

Cork, June 4, 1767.
My Dear Lady, — My belief is, that a journey to En-
gland might be of great service to your health. And it is
not improbable you might receive much benefit from the



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 155

water of the Hot Wells, near Bristol. In August I hope
to be at Bristol ; and again in the latter end of September.
My chaise and horses are at Bristol, which you would
oblige me much if you would please to use as your own,
(if you do not bring any with you,) during your stay there ;
for you should, if possible, ride out daily. My wife, who
is at Newcastle, will be exceeding glad to wait upon you
there. And if you choose to rest a few days, I should be
happy if you would make use of the Orphan House. You
would be pleased with the Miss Dales, and they with you:
you and they have drunk into one spirit. Miss Peggy is
one of the holiest young women that I have any knowledge
of: indeed I think both the sisters have no desire, but to
glorify God with their body and with their spirit. You
will be so kind as to let me know when you expect to be
at Newcastle ; and possibly I may meet you there. As
you were providentially called to the place where you now
are, I cannot doubt but you will be preserved. But you
have need of much prayer and continual watching, or you
may insensibly lose what God has given. I am jealous
over you: I cannot but be interested in whatever concerns
you. I know your tender spirit; your desire to please all
for their good ; your unwilhngness to give pain. And even
these amiable dispositions may prove a snare ; for how
easily may they be carried too far ! If you find any thing
hurts you, or draws your soul from God, I conjure you,
flee for your life ! In that case you must not stand upon
ceremony ; you must escape without delay. But I hope
better things : I hope you are sent to Brisbane, not to
receive hurt, but to do good ; to grow in grace, to find a
deeper communion than ever with Him that gave himself
for you.



156 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.



ex.— TO THE SAME.



London, March 3, 1769.

My Dear Lady, — To be incapable of sympathizing
with the distressed is not a desirable state. Nor would
one wish to extirpate either sorrow or any other of our
natural passions. And yet it is both possible and highly
desirable to attain the same experience with the Marquis
de Renty, who, on occasion of his lady's illness, told those
who inquired how he could bear it, " I cannot say but my
nature is deeply affected with the apprehension of so great
a loss. And yet I feel such a full acquiescence in the
will of God, that, ^vere it proper, I could dance and sing."

I have heard my mother say, " I have frequently been
as fully assured that my father's spirit was with me as if I
had seen him with my eyes." But she did not explain
herself any farther. I have myself many times found on
a sudden so lively an apprehension of a deceased friend,
that I have sometimes turned about to look ; at the same
time I have felt an uncommon affection for them. But I
never had any thing of this kind with regard to any but
those that died in faith. In dreams I have had exceed-
ingly lively conversations with them ; and I doubt not but
they were then very near.

It gives me pleasure to hear that you did not neglect
our own preaching, in order to attend any other. The

hearing Mr. F at other times I do not know that any

could blame ; unless you found it unsettled your mind, or
weakened your expectation of an entire deliverance from
sin. And this, I apprehend, it did not.

You never " take up too much of my time." To con-
verse with you, even in this imperfect way, is both agree-
able and useful to me. I love your spirit, and it does me
good. I trust God will still give you that hunger and thirst
after righteousness till you are satisfied therewith. And
who knows how soon ?



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 157



CXI.— TO THE SAME.

Londonderry, April 29, 1769
My Dear Lady, — Awhile ago I was concerned at heal-
ing from Edinburgh that you were unwell; although I could
not doubt but it was ordered well by an unerring Provi-
dence, as a means of keeping you dead to all below, and
of quickening your affections to things above. And indeed,
this is the rule whereby the inhabitants of a better world
judge of good and evil. Whatever raises the mind to God
is good ; and in the same proportion as it does this. What-
ever draws the heart from its centre is evil ; and more or
less so, as it has more or less of this effect. You have
accordingly found pain, sickness, bodily weakness, to be
real goods ; as bringing you nearer and nearer to the foun-
tain of all happiness and holiness. And yet, it is certain,
nature shrinks from pain, and that without any blame.
Only in the same moment that we say, ^' If it be possible,
let this cup pass from me," the heart should add, like our
great Pattern, " Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou
wilt." Lady Baird I did not see before I left London ;

and Lady K B I did not understand. She was

exceedingly civil, and I think affectionate, but perfectly
shut up; so that I knew no more of her state of mind than
if I had never seen her.

CXII.— TO THE SAME.

London, February 17, 1770.
My Dear Lady, — To us it may seem that uninterrupted
health would be a greater help to us than pain or sickness.
But herein we certainly are mistaken : we are not such
good judges in our own cause. You may truly say,
*' Health I shall have, if health be best." But in this and
all things, you may trust Him that loves you. Indeed,
nervous disorders arc, of all others, as one observes, ene



158 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

I mies to the joy of faith. But the essence of it, that con-
fidence in a loving, pardoning God, they can neither de-
stroy nor impair. Nay, as they keep you dead to all
below, they may forward you therein ; and they may in-
crease your earnestness after that pure love which turns
earth into paradise.

It will be by much pains and patience that you will
keep one in high life steadfast in the plain old way. I
should wish you to converse with her as frequently as pos-
sible. Then, I trust, God will use you to keep alive the
fire which he has kindled. I am in great hopes that cha-
pel will be of use ; but it will not be easy to procure a
converted clergyman. A schoolmaster will be more easily
found ; although many here are frighted at the name of
Scotland. A diligent master may manage twenty, or per-
haps thirty children. If one whom I lately saw is willing
to come, I believe he will answer your design.

I have some thoughts of going to America ; but the way
is not yet plain. I wait till Providence shall speak more
clearly, on one side or the other. In April I hope to reach
Inverness, and to take Edinburgh in my way back to
England. But let us live to-day ! What a blessing may
you receive now I

" Now let your heart with love o'erflow,
And all your life his glory show."

CXIIL— TO THE SAME.

London, January 24, 1771.
My Dear Lady — Although Mr. M'Nab* is quite clear as
to justification by faith, and is in general a sound and good
preacher, yet I fear he is not clear of blame in this. He
is too warm and impatient of contradiction ; otherwise he
must be lost to all common sense to preach against final
perseverance in Scotland. From the first hour that I

* The preacher then stationed in tlie Edinburgh circuit. — Ed.



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 159

entered the kingdom, it was a sacred rule with me, never
to preach on any controverted point, — at least not in a con-
troversial way. Any one may see that this is only to put
a sword into our enemies' hands. It is the direct way to
increase all their prejudices, and to make all our labours
fruitless. You will shortly have a trial of another kind.
Mr. De Courcy purposes to set out for Edinburgh in a few
days. He was from a child a member of one of our socie-.
ties in the south of Ireland. There he received remission
of sins, and was for some time groaning for full redemp-
tion. But when he came to Dublin, the Philistines were
upon him, and soon prevailed over him. Quickly he was
convinced that " there is no perfection ;" and that " all
things depend on absolute, unchangeable decrees." At first
he was exceedingly warm upon these heads : now he is
far more calm. His natural temper, I think, is good : he
is open, friendly, and generous. He has also a good un-
derstanding, and is not unacquainted with learning, though
not deeply versed therein. He has no disagreeable per-
son, a pleasing address, and is a lively as well as a sensible
preacher. Now when you add to this, that he is quite
new, and very young, you may judge how he will be ad-
mired and caressed! " Surely such a preacher as this never
was in Edinburgh before ! Mr. Whitefield himself was not
to compare with him ! What an angel of a man !" Now
how will a raw, inexperienced youth be able to encounter
this ? If there be not the greatest of miracles to preserve
him, will it not turn his brain? And may he not then do far

more hurt than either Mr. W or Mr. T did? Will

he not prevent your friend from " going on to perfection,"
or thinking of any such thing? Nay, may he not shake you
also? He would; but that the God whom you serve is able
to deliver you. At present, indeed, he is in an exceedingly
lovhig spirit. But will that continue long ? There will be
danger on the one hand, if it does ; there will be danger
on the other, if it does not. It does not appear that any
great change has been wrought in our neighbours by



160 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

Mr. Wh 's death. He had fixed the prejudice so

deep that even he himself was not able to remove it ; yet
our congregations have increased exceedingly, and the
work of God increases on every side. I am glad you use
more exercise. It is good for both body and soul. As
soon as Mr. De Courcy is come, I shall be glad to hear
how the prospect opens. You will then need a larger
share of the wisdom from above.



CXIV.— TO THE SAME.

February 26, 1771.

My Dear Lady, — I cannot but think the chief reason
of the little good done by our preachers at Edinburgh is
the opposition which has been made by the ministers of
Edinburgh, as well as by the false brethren from England.
These steeled the hearts of the people against all the good
impressions which might otherwise have been made, so
that the same preachers by whom God has constantly
wrought, not only in various parts of England, but likewise
in the northern parts of Scotland, were in Edinburgh only
not useless. They felt a damp upon their own spirits ;
they had not their usual liberty of speech, and the word
they spoke seemed to rebound upon them, and not to sink
into the hearts of the hearers. At my first coming I usually
find something of this myself; but the second or third time
of preaching, it is gone ; and I feel, greater is He that is
with us than all the powers of earth and hell.

If any one could show you, by plain Scripture and rea-
son, a more excellent way than that you have received,
you certainly would do well to receive it ; and, I trust, I
should do the same. But I think it will not be easy for
any one to show us, either that Christ did not die for all,
or that he is not willing as well as able to cleanse from all
sin, even in the present world. If your steady adherence
to these great truths be termed bigotry, yet you have no
need to be asham*>d. You are reproached for Christ's



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 161

sake, and the Spirit of glory and of Christ shall rest upon
you. Perhaps our Lord may use you to soften some of

the harsh spirits, and to preserve Lady G , or Mr. De

Courcy, from being hurt by them. I hope to hear from
you (on whom I can depend) a frequent account of what
is done near you. After you have suffered awhile, may
God stablish, strengthen, settle you !



CXV.— TO THE SAME.

London, February 8, 177Ii.

My Dear Lady, — I commend you for meddling with
points of controversy as little as possible. It is abundantly
easier to lose our love in that rough field than to find truth.
This consideration has made me exceedingly thankful to
God for giving me a respite from polemical labours. I am
glad he has given to others both the power and the will to
answer them that trouble me ; so that I may not always be
forced to hold my weapons in one hand while I am build
ing with the other. I rejoice, likewise, not only in the
abilities, but in the temper, of Mr. Fletcher. He writes as
he lives : I cannot say that I know such another clergy-
man in England or Ireland. He is all fire : but it is the
fire of love. His writings, like his constant conversation,
breathe nothing else, to those who read him with an im-
partial eye. And although Mr. Shirley scruples not to
charge him with using subtlety and metaphysical distinc-
tions, yet he abundantly clears himself of this charge, in
the " Second Check to Antinomianism." Such the last
letters are styled, and with great propriety, for such they
have really been. They have given a considerable check
to those who were everywhere making void the law through
faith ; setting " the righteousness of Christ" in opposition
to the law of Christ, and teaching that " without holiness
any man may see the Lord."

Notwithstanding both outward and inward trials, I trust



1G2 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

you are still on the borders of perfect love. For the Lord
is nigh!

" See the Lord thy Keeper stand
Omnipotently near!
Lo ! he holds thee by thy hand,
And banishes thy fear!"

You have no need of fear. Hope unto the end ! Are not
all things possible to him that beUeveth ? Dare to believe !
Seize a blessing now ! The Lord increase your faith '



CXVI.— TO THE SAME.

Newcastle, May 3, 1777.
My Dear Lady, — The new chapel which we are now
building in London requires much of my attendance there,
so that I caimot conveniently be absent more than two
Sundays together. Accordingly, when I set out, I fixed
Saturday, the 19th instant, for my return; and ordered no-
tice to be given of my design to meet the classes the week
following. I cannot therefore have the pleasure of seeing
you now ; which, if it could be, I should greatly desire.
I love your spirit ; I love your conversation ; I love your
correspondence ; I have often received both profit and
pleasure thereby. I frequently find a want of more light :
but I want heat more than light. And you have frequently


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Online LibraryJohn WesleySelect letters, chiefly on personal religion → online text (page 12 of 18)