John Wesley.

Select letters, chiefly on personal religion online

. (page 13 of 18)
Online LibraryJohn WesleySelect letters, chiefly on personal religion → online text (page 13 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

been an instrument of conveying this to my soul ; of ani-
mating me to nm the glorious race. I trust you find no
decay in your own soul, but a still increasing vigour. Some
time since, you enjoyed a measure of that great salvation,
deliverance from inbred sin. Do you hold fast whereunto
you had attained, and still press forward, to be filled with
all the fulness of God ? There is the prize before you !
Look up, beheve, and take all you want!



Dublin, July 4, 1787.
My Dear Lady, — Our correspondence, I hope, will
never be broken off till one of us be removed into a better
world. It is true, I have often wondered that you were
not weary of so useless a correspondent : for I am very
sensible the writing of letters is my brother's talent, rather
than mine. Yet I really love to write to you, as I love to
think of you. And sometimes it may please Him who
sends by whom he will send, to give you some assistance
by me. And your letters have frequently been an encou-
ragement and a comfort to me. Let them never, my dear
friend, be intermitted, during the few days I have to stay
below. After Miss Roe first, and then Miss Ritchie, had
given me so particular an account of that branch of their
experience, I examined, one by one, the members of the
select society in London on that head. But I found very
few, not above nine or ten, who had any conception of it.
I think there are three or four in Dublin who likewise
speak clearly and Scripturally of having had such a mani-
festation of the several persons in the ever blessed Trinity.
Formerly I thought this v/as the experience of all those
that were perfected in love ; but I am now clearly con-
vinced that it is not. Only a few of these are favoured
with it. It was, indeed, a wonderful instance of divine
mercy that, at a time when you were so encumbered with
the affairs of this world, you should have so much larger a
taste of the powers of the world to come. It reminds me
of brother Laurence's words : " When I was charged with
the affairs of the convent at Burgundy, I did not under-
stand them ; and yet, I know not how, all was well done !' *
I doubt not you will find the very same experience in every
thing which God calls you to : liis word will be more and
more eminently fulfilled, " In all thy ways acknowledge
him, and he will direct thy paths,"



London, August 8, 1788.

My Dear Lady,- — It is certain, many persons, both in
Scotland and England, would be well pleased to have the
same preachers always. But we cannot forsake the plan
of acting which we have followed from the beginning. For
fifty years God has been pleased to bless the itinerant
plan ; the last year most of all : it must not be altered till
I am removed ; and I hope will remain till our Lord comes
to reign upon earth.

I do not know (unless it unfits us for the duties of hfe)
■^ that we can have too great a sensibility of human pain
Methinks I should be afraid of losing any degree of this
sensibiUty. I had a son-in-law (now in Abraham's bosom)
who quitted his profession, that of a surgeon, for that very
reason ; because he said it made him less sensible of hu-
man pain. And I have known exceeding few persons who
have carried this tenderness of spirit to excess. I recol-
-4- lect but one who was constrained to leave off, in a great
measure, visiting the sick, because he could not see any
one in pain without fainting away. Mr. Charles Perronet
was the first person I was acquainted with who was
favoured with the same experience as the JNIarquis de
Renty, with regard to the ever blessed Trinity ; Miss
Ritchie was the second; Miss Roe (now Mrs. Rogers) the
third. 1 have as yet found but a few instances ; so that
this is not, as I was at first apt to suppose, the common
privilege of all that are "perfect in love."

Pardon me, my dear friend, for my heart is tenderly
concerned for you, if I mention one fear I have concern-
ing you, lest, on conversing with some, you should be in
any degree warped from Christian simplicity. O do not
wish to hide that you are a Methodist ! Surely it is best to
appear just what you are. I believe you will receive this
as a proof of the sincerity with which I am.

Your ever affectionate sen'ant.



London, August 17, 1764.

My Dear Lady, — Since I had the pleasure of yours, I
have hardly had an hour that I could call my own ; other-
wise I should not have delayed writing so long, as I have
V' a vei*y tender regard for you, and an earnest desire that
you should be altogether a Christian. I cannot be content
with your being ever so harmless or regular in your beha-
viour, or even exemplary in all externals : nay, more than
all this you have received already, for you have the fear
of God. But shall you stop here ? God forbid. This is
*T only the beginning of wisdom. You are not to end here :
fear shall ripen into love. You shall know (perhaps very
soon) that love of God which passeth knowledge. You
shall witness the kingdom of God within you ; even right-
eousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

It is no small instance of the goodness of God toward
you, that you are conscious of your want ; your want of
living faith. And his goodness herein is more remarkable,
because almost all your neighbours would set you down for
a right good believer. O beware of those flatterers ! Hold
fast the conviction which God hath given you! Faith,
living, conquering, loving faith, is undoubtedly the thing
you want. And of this you have frequently a taste to en-
courage you in pressing forward : such is the tender mercy
of Him that loves you ; such his desire that you should
receive all his precious promises ! Do not think they are
afar off. Do not imagine you must stay long (years or
months) before you receive them. Do not put them off a
day, an hour ! Why not noAV ? Why should you not look
up this instant, and see, as it were, Jesus Christ set forth,
evidently set forth, crucified before your eyes? O hear his
voice! "Daughter, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven
thee !" " Say not in thy heart, Who shall go up into hea-
ven, or who shall go down into the deep ?" No ; " The



word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart.**
•* Lord, I believe ; help my unbelief."

Joy in the Holy Ghost is a precious gift of God, but yet
tenderness of conscience is still greater ; and all this is for
you. Just ready, —

" The speechless awe which dares not move,
And all the silent heaven of love."

I am no great friend to solitary Christianity; nevertheless,
in so peculiar a case as yours, I think an exception may
be admitted. It does seem most expedient for you to retire
out of the city, at least for a season, till God has increased
your strength : for the company of those who know not
God, who are strangers to the religion of the heart, espe-
cially if they are sensible, agreeable people, might quite
damp the grace of God in your soul.

You cannot oblige me more than by fully opening your
mind to me : there is no danger of your tiring me. I do
not often write such long letters ; but when I write to you
I am full of matter. I seem to see you just before me, a
poor, feeble, helpless creature, but just upon the point of
salvation ; upright of heart, (in a measure,) full of real de-
sires for God, and emerging into light. The Lord take
you wholly !


Kilkenny, April 23, 1771.
My Dear Sister, — I hardly knew whether you were
dead or alive, having not heard from you for so long a sea-
son. Yesterday I received yours of March 28th, and am
glad to hear you are not moved from your steadfastness.
Certainly it is not the will of our Lord that you should :
his gifts are without repentance. Do you find no decay in
faith ? Do you as clearly as ever see Him who is invisible ?
Is your hope as lively as at first ? Do you still taste of the


powers of the world to come ? And can you say, in as
strong a sense as ever, —

" I nothing want beneath, above,
Happy in a Saviour's love 1"

Do you feel no anger at any time ? no pride ? no will but
what is subordinate to the will of God? And have you the
witness in yourself that all your ways please him ? Then
expect to see greater things than these ; for there is no
end of his goodness.


London, January 22, 1772.
My Dear Sister, — You have given me clear and satis-
factory answers to the questions which I proposed, and I
rejoice over you for the grace of God which is in you.
May he increase it more and more ! How should I rejoice
to see you, and to talk with you more particularly on these
subjects! I hope that may be in the spring; but before then
you can tell me whether you are always sensible of the
presence of God ? Is that sense never interrupted by com-
pany, or by hurry of business ? Is your heart lifted up to
God, whatever your hands are employed in ? Do you re-
joice evermore ? Are you always happy ? always more or
less enjoying God? Do you never fret; never so grieve at
any thing as to interrupt your happiness ? Do you never
find lowness of spirits ? Are you enabled in every thing to
give thanks ?


London, December 29, 1774.
My Dear Sister, — I am glad you parted from our ho-
nest friend C ne upon so good terms. All the trials

you suffered while you were there are now passed away
like a dream. So are all tlie afflictions we endured vea-


terday ; but they are noted in God's book, and the happy
fruit of them may remain when heaven and earth are
passed away. Trials you are likewise to expect where
you are now ; for you are still in the body, and wrestle, if
not with flesh and blood, yet with " principalities, and
powers, with the rulers of the darkness of this world, with
wicked spirits in high places ;" and it is good for you that
every grain of your faith should be tried : afterward you
shall come forth as gold. See that you never be weary or
faint in your mind; account all these things for your profit,
that you may be a full partaker of His holiness, and

"Brighter in all his image shine."

St. Ives, September 15, 1762.
Dear Sir, —

" Spectatum satis, ac donatum jam rude quaeris,
Mecaenas, iterum antique me includere ludo 1
Non eadem est aetas, non mens."*

I have entirely lost my taste for controversy. I have lost
my readiness in disputing ; and I take this to be a pro\a-
dential discharge from it. All I can now do with a clear
conscience is, not to enter into a formal controversy about
the new birth, or justification by faith, any more than
Christian perfection, but simply to declare my judgment,
and to explain myself as clearly as I can, upon any diffi-
culty that may arise concerning it.

So far I can go Avith you, but no farther. I still say,
and without any self-contradiction, I know no persons
living who are so deeply conscious of their needing Christ,
both as prophet, priest, and king, as those who believe

♦ This quotation from Horace is thus translated by Francis : —
" Wherefore, Mecjenas, would you ihus engage
Your bard, dismissed with honour from the stage,
Again to venture in the lists of fame.
His youth, his gcniu.s, now no more the same !" — Ed.


themselves, and whom I beheve, to be cleansed from all
sin ; I mean, from all pride, anger, evil desire, idolatry, and
unbelief. These very persons feel more than ever their
own ignorance, littleness of grace, coming short of the full
mind that was in Christ, and walking less accurately than
they might have done after their divine Pattern ; are more
convinced of the insufficiency of all they are, have, or do,
to bear the eye of God without a mediator ; are more pene-
trated with the sense of the want of him than ever they
were before.

If Mr. M or you say that " coming short is sin," be

it so ; I contend not. But still I say, " These are they

whom I believe to be Scripturally perfect. And yet these

. never felt their want of Christ so deeply and strongly as

they do now." If in saying this I have '• fully given up

the point," what would you have more ? Is it not enough

that I leave you to " boast your superior power against thfe

little, weak shifts of baffled error ?" " Canst not thou be

. content," as the Quaker said, " to lay J. W. on his back,

"^ but thou must tread his guts out ?"

Here are persons exceeding holy and happy ; rejoicing
evermore, praying always, and in every thing giving
thanks ; feeling the love of God and man eveiy moment ;
feeling no pride, or other evil temper. If these are not
perfect, that Scriptural word has no meaning. Stop ! you
must not cavil at that word ; you are not wiser than the
Holy Ghost. But if you are not, see that you teach per-
fection too. " But are they not sinners ?" Explain the term
one way, and I say, Yes ; another, and I say, No. " Are
they cleansed from all sin ?" I believe they are ; meaning
from all sinful tempers. " But have they then need of
Christ ?" I believe they have, in the sense and for the rea-
sons above mentioned. Now be this true or false, it is no
contradiction: it is consistent with itself; and, I think,
consistent with right reason, and the whole oracles of God.

O let you and I go on to perfection ! God grant we may

so run as to attain !





Reverend and Dear Sir, — I hare obligations to you,
on many accounts, from the time I first saw you ; particu-
larly for the kind concern you showed me when I was ill
at Tanderagee. These have increased upon me every
time that I have since had the pleasure of waiting upon
you. Permit me, sir, to speak without reserve. Esteem
was added to my affectionate regard when I saw the un-
common pains you took with the flock committed to your
care ; as also when I observed the remarkably serious
manner wherein you read prayers in your family. Many
years have passed since that time ; many more than I am
likely to see under the sun. But before I go hence 1
would fain give you one instance of my sincere regard ;
the rather, because 1 can scarce expect to see you again
till we meet in a better world. But it is diflicult for me to
do it, as I feel myself inferior to you in so many respects.
Yet permit me to ask a strange question : Is your soul as
much alive to God as it was once ? Have you not suffered
loss from your relations or acquaintance, that are sensible
and agreeable men, but not encumbered with religion ?
Some of them, perhaps, as free from the very form as from
the power of it. O sir, if you lose any of the things which
you have wrought, who can make you amends for that
loss ? If you do not receive a full reward, what equivalent
can you gain? I was pained, even at your hospitable table,
in the midst of those I loved so well. We did not begin
and close the meal in the same manner you did ten years
ago ! You was then, contrary' to almost universal custom,
unfashionably serious in asking a blessing and returning
thanks. I know many would blame you for it: but surely
the Lord said, " Servant of God, well done !" Wishing
you and your lovely family every blessing,
I am, reverend and dear sir,

Your obliged and affectionate brother and servant.



London, June 19, 1771.
My Dear Lady, — Many years since I saw that " without
hoUness no man shall see the Lord." I began following
after it, and inciting all with whom I had any intercourse
to do the same. Ten years after, God gave me a clearer
view than I had before of the way how to attain this ;
namely, by faith in the Son of God. And immediately I
declared to all, '* We are saved from sin, we are made
holy, by faith." This I testified in private, in public, in
print ; and God confirmed it by a thousand witnesses. I
have continued to declare this for above thirty years ; and
God hath continued to confirm the word of his grace. But
during this time well nigh all the religious warld hath set
themselves in array against me, and, among the rest, many
of my own children, following the example of one of my

eldest sons, Mr. W . Their general cry has been,

"He is unsound in the faith; he preaches another gospel!"
I answer. Whether it be the same which they preach or
not, it is the same which I have preached for above thirty
years. This may easily appear from what I have published
during that whole term. I instance only in three sermons :
that on salvation by faith, printed in the year 1738 ; that
on the Lord our righteousness, printed a few years since ;
and that on Mr. Whiteficld's funeral, printed only some
months ago. But it is said, " but you printed ten lines
in August last, which contradict all your other writings !"
Be not so sure of this. It is probable^ at least, that I
understand my own meaning as well as you do ; and that
meaning I have yet again declared in the sermon last re*-
ferred to. By that interpret those ten lines, and you will
understand them belter : although I should think that any
one might see, even without this help, that the lines in
question do not refer to the condition of obtaining, but of
continuing in, the favour of God. But whether the sen-
timent contahied in those lines be right or wrong, and




■whether it be well or ill expressed, the gospel which I now
preach God docs still confirm by new witnesses in every
place ; perhaps ncA'er so much in this kingdom as within
these last three months. Now I argue from glaring, un-
deniable fact ; God cannot bear witness to a he. The
gospel, therefore, which he confirms must be true in sub-
stance. There may be opinions maintained at the same
time which are not exactly true ; and who can be secure
from these 1 Perhaps I thought myself so once : when I
was much younger than I am now, I thought myself almost
infallible ; but, I bless God, I know myself better now.

To be short : such as I am, I love you well. You have
one of the first places in my esteem and affection ; and you
once had some regard for me. But it cannot continue, if
it depends upon my seeing with your eyes, or on my being
in no mistake. What if I was in as many as Mr. Law
himself? If you were, I should love you still, provided
your heart was still right with God. My dear friend, you
seem not to have well learned yet the meaning of those
words which I desire to have continually written upon my
heart, " Whosoever doeth the will of my Father which is
in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."


Yorky June 25, 1768.
My Dear Sister, — Your conversation gave me much
satisfaction. I rejoiced to find that you were sensible of
your loss, and determined, by the grace of God, never to
rest till you had recovered all which you once enjoyed.
Nay, and you will recover it with increase ; you will find
a deeper communion with God, and a more full self-devo-
tion than ever. An earnest of this was given you the other
day. Hold that fast, and continually expect the rest. How
did you find yourself on Thursday morning ? Had you not
again a taste of the great salvation ? And how have you



been since ? Are you still happy in God ; and resolved not
to rest till you are all devoted to him? See that you do not
fall again into evil reasonings ! Be simple before God.
Continue instant in prayer ; and watch against whatever
you know, by experience, to be a weight upon your mind.
How soon may you then have your whole desire ! How
soon may your heart be all love ! Why not now ? All things
are ready : only believe !


Guiseley, July 1, 1768.

My Dear Sister, — You must now expect temptations.
Perhaps they will assault you on every side ; for all the
powers of hell are enraged at you, and will use every art
to move you from your steadfastness. But He that is for
you is greater than all that are against you : only beware
of evil reasoning ! Hang simply on Him that loves you,
and whom you love ; just as a little helpless child. Christ
is yours, all yours : that is enough. Lean your whole soul
upon him ! Do you find a witness in yourself that he has
cleansed your heart ? Do you feel this always ? And have
you a constant sense of the loving presence of God ? You
never need lose any thing that God has given, so you keep
close to him. Be little and mean in your own eyes, glory-
ing only in the Lord. And do not cease to pray for

Your affectionate brother.

It is a pity but you should now read the " Plain Account
of Christian Perfection," (I suppose you may get it at
Hull,) and the First Epistle of St. John.


Bristol, August 20, 1768.
My Dear Sister, — I \vrite often, because I know you
are yet weak and tender, and in need of every help. I
am not sorry that you have trials : they are intended to


show you your own helplessness ; and to give you a fuller
confidence in Him who has all power in heaven and earth.
Y^ou have reason to cast all your care upon him ; for he
has dealt bountifully with you. When any trial comes,
see that you do not look to the thing itself; but immediately
look unto Jesus. Reason not upon it, but believe. See
the hand of God in Shimei's tongue. If you want advice
in any point, write to me without delay. And, meantime,
stay your whole soul upon Him who will never leave you
nor forsake you. Tell him simply all you fear, all you
feel, all you want. Pour out your soul into his bosom.
Do you feel no pride, no anger, no desire ? You will feel
temptations to all : and the old deceiver will tell you again
and again, "That is pride; that is anger!" But regard him
not. And cast not away your confidence, which hath great
recompense of reward.


Bristol, October 8, 1768.

My Dear Sister, — You need never be afraid of "wea-
rying my patience," unless it be by your silence. There is
no danger of your -writing too often. I can easily believe
the description you give is just : therefore there are only
two particulars remaining, — First, Have you both the con-
sent of your parents ? Without this there is seldom a bless-
ing. Secondly, Is he able to keep you ? I mean, in such
a manner as you have lived hitherto. Otherwise remem-
ber, " W^hen poverty comes in at the door, love flies out at
the window."

Do you find as much as ever of the spirit of prayer and
of continual watchfulness ? Are you always sensible of the
presence of God ? in the greatest huny^ of business ? Have
you power over wandering thoughts ?



Lisburn, April 9, 1769.
My Dear Sister, — I thank brother Barton for his letter.
Both of you have now more need than ever continually to
watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation. There
will be a great danger of so cleaving to each other as to
forget God ; or of being so taken up with a creature as to
abate your huiiiger and thirst after righteousness. There
will be a danger likewise of whiling away time ; of not
improving it to the uttermost ; of spending more of it than
needs in good sort of talk with each other, which yet does
not quicken your souls. If you should once get into a
habit of this, it will be exceedingly hard to break it off.
Therefore you should now attend to every step you take,
that you may begin as you hope to hold on to the end.
And beware you are not entangled with worldly care, any
more than worldly desire. Be careful for nothing ; but in
every thing make your request known to God, with thanks-


Tewkesbury, March 15, 1770.
My Dear Sister, — I rejoice to hear that you stand fast
in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free ; and
the more, because, although many taste of that heavenly
gift, deliverance from inbred sin, yet so few, so exceeding
lew, retain it one year ; hardly one in ten ; nay, one in
thirty. Many hundreds in London were made partakers
of it within sixteen or eighteen months : but I doubt
whether twenty of them are now as holy and as happy as
they were. And hence others had doubted whether God
intended that salvation to be enjoyed long. That many
have it for a season, that they allow ; but are not satisfied
that any retain it always. Shall not you, for one ? You

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryJohn WesleySelect letters, chiefly on personal religion → online text (page 13 of 18)