John Wesley.

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will, if you watch and pray, and continue hanging upon
him. Then you will always give matter of rejoicing to

Your affectionate brother.


May 8, 1770.
My Dear Sister, — Two things are certain: the one,
that it is possible to lose even the pure love of God ; the
other, that it is not necessary, it is not unavoidable ; it may
be lost, but it may be kept. Accordingly we have some
in every part of the kingdom who have never been moved
from their steadfastness. And from this moment you need
never be moved : his grace is sufficient for you. But you
must continue to grow, if you continue to stand ; for no one
can stand still. And is it not your Lord's will concerning
you, that you should daily receive a fresh increase of love ?
And see that you labour so much the more to comfort the
feeble-minded, to support the weak, to confirm the waver-
ing, and recover them that are out of the way. In June T
hope to see you. Peace be with your spirits !


Norwich, November 5, 1770.

My Dear Sister, — For many years I had a kind of

scruple with regard to praying for temporal things. But

three or four years ago I was thoroughly persuaded that

scruple was unnecessary. Being then straitened much, I

made it matter of prayer ; and I had an immediate answer.

I It is tnie, we can only ask outward blessings with reserve :

I " If this is best ; if it be thy will :" and in this manner we

i may certainly plead the promise, " All these things shall

be added unto you."

I hope the little debates which were some time since in

the society at Beverley are at an end ; and that you all

•^ now continue in love, and bear one another's burdens.


You had, for a long time, a hard part to act between the
contending parties ; but as God preserved you from anger
and from a party spirit, you suffered no loss thereby. Be-
ware of suffering loss from another quarter, — from worldly
care. This is a dangerous enemy. You had need steadily
to cast your care on Him that careth for you. To him I
commit you and yours ; and am

Your affectionate brother.


January 21, 1773.
My Dear Sister, — Consult with some experienced
and sensible person upon every step you take. Con-
cerning removing to Hull, you would do well to consult
Thomas Snowdon, or some one that lives there. It would
be expedient, too, to take good advice before you enter
upon any new business. Every thing now is full of un-
certainty and danger, during the amazing dearness of pro-
visions. Hence most people have just money to buy food,
and have nothing more to lay out. Yet the promise stands
sure : " Seek the kingdom of God, and his righteousness,
and these things shall be added unto you." Yea, surely,
the Lord will sooner make windows in heaven than suffer
his truth to fail. Peace be with your spirits !


Bristol, October 8, 1774-
My Dear Sister, — It is exceeding certain that God
did give you the second blessing, properly so called. He
delivered you from the root of bitterness, from inbred as
well as actual sin. And at that time you were enabled to
give him all your heart ; to rejoice evermore, and to pray
without ceasing. Afterward he permitted his work to be
tried ; and sometimes as by fire. For a while you were
not moved ; but could say in all things, " Good is the will



of the Lord." But it seems you gave way, by little and
little, till you were in some measure shorn of your strength.
What have brother Barton and you to do, but to arise at
once, and shake yourselves from the dust? Stir up the gift
of God that is in you ! Look unto Him that is mighty to
save! Is he not able, in every sense, to turn your captivity?
He has not forgotten to be gracious ; neither will he shut
up his loving kindness in displeasure. He is a God nigh
at hand. Only believe ; and help, while yet you ask, is
given ! Trust in him, and conquer all.


London, December 30, 1774.
My Dear Sister, — One observes well that, in order to
judge of the grace which God has given us, we must like-
wise consider what our temptations are ; because a little
grace will balance little temptations ; but to conquer great
temptations much grace is requisite. Formerly you had
comparatively little temptation ; and, through his grace,
you could rejoice with joy unspeakable. At present you
do not find that joy. No ; for you have the temptations
which you had not then. You have little children ; you
have worldly care; and, frequently, a weak body. There-
fore you may have far more grace than you had before,
though you have not so much joy ; nay, though you should
for a time have no joy at all, but sorrow and heaviness ;
yea, though you should say, with your Master, " My soul
is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." O what a gainer
are you by this, when you are enabled to say in the midst
of all, " The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I
not drink it !" See how he loveth whom he chasteneth !
And what is at the end ? An eternal weight of glory ! It is
laid up for you both : taste of it now !



London, November 6, l'. 81.
My Dear Sister, — I am always well pleased to hear
from you, especially when you tell me that God has dealt
well with you. I trust he has yet greater blessings in
store for you, and for the little flock at Beverley. I was
glad of the little time we had together, and hoped it would
not be in vain. I found love to your two little maidens.
There is good seed sown in their hearts, which, if it be
carefully watered, will probably bring forth fruit to your
comfort and the glory of God. Let your husband and you
go on hand in hand, stirring up the gift of God that is in
you, and running with resignation and patience the race
that is set before you. You have met, and undoubtedly
will meet, with manifold temptations : but you have had
full proof that God is faithful, who will never suffer you to
be tempted above that you are able ; but will, with the
temptation, also make a way to escape, that you may be
able to bear it. tarry, then, the Lord's leisure ! Be
strong, and he shall comfort thy heart. And put thou thy
trust in the Lord.


Pembroke, August 23, 1763.

My Dear Sister, — You did well to write : this is one
of the means which God generally uses to convey either
light or comfort. Even while you are writing you will
often find reUef : frequently while we propose a doubt it is

There is no doubt but what you at first experienced was
a real foretaste of the blessing, although you were not pro-
perly possessed of it till the Whitsunday following ; but it
is very possible to cast away the gift of God, or to lose it
by little and Uttle ; though I trust this is not the case with


you ; and yet you may frequently be in heaviness, and may
find your love to God not near so warm at some times as
it is at others. Many wanderings, likewise, and many
deficiencies, are consistent with pure love ; but the thing
you mean is the abiding witness of the Spirit touching this
very thing. And this you may boldly claim, on the war-
rant of that word, " We have received the spirit that is of
God, that we may know the things which are freely given
to us of God."


Manchester, March 29, 1766.

My Dear Sister, — One of our preachers has lately
advanced a new position among us, — that there is no direct
or immediate witness of sanctification, but only a percep-
tion or consciousness that we are changed, filled with love,
and cleansed from sin. But, if I understand you right,
you find a direct testimony that you are a child of God.

Now, certainly, if God has given you this light, he did
not intend that you should liide it under a bushel. " It is
good to conceal the secrets of a king, but it is good to tell
the loving kindness of the Lord." Every one ought to
declare what God has done for his soul, and that with all
simplicity : only care is to be taken to declare to several
persons that part of our experience which they are seve-
rally able to bear ; and some parts of it to such alone as
are upright and simple of heart.

One reason why those who are saved from sin should
freely declare it to believers is, because nothing is a
stronger incitement to them to seek after the same bless-
ing. And we ought, by exery possible means, to press
every serious believer to forget the things which are be-
hind, and with all earnestness go on to perfection. Indeed,
if they are not thirsting after this, it is scarce possible to
keep what they have : they can hardly retain any power
of faith, if they are not panting after hohness


A thousand infirmities are consistent even with the
highest degree of holiness ; which is no other than pure
love, a heart devoted to God ; one design and one desire.
Then, whatever is done, either in word or deed, may be
done in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Press after all the residue of the promises.
I am, my dear sister,

Your affectionate brother


Leeds, August 14, 17G6.

My Dear Sister, — Although I am at present exceed-
ingly hurried with various business, yet love constrains me
to write a few lines. Your letters are always welcome to
me, as the picture of an honest and affectionate heart.

What you say concerning the witness of the Spirit is
agreeable to all sound experience. We may, in some
measure, be satisfied without it, in the time of broad sun-
shine ; but it is absolutely necessary in the time of clouds,
and heaviness, and temptation ; otherwise it would be
hardly possible to hold fast your confidence.

Beware of voluntary humility : even this may create a
snare. In the " Thoughts on Christian Perfection," and
in the " Farther Thoughts," you have the genuine expe-
rience of the adult children of God. Oppose that autho-
rity to the authority of any that contradict, (if reason and
Scripture are disregarded,) and look daily for a deeper and
fuller communion with God. what is it to walk in the
light as he is in the light !

Do not cease to pray for

Your truly afliectionate brother.



Dublin, July 25, 1767.

Dear Sister Bennis, — When you write to me you
have only to " think aloud," just to open the window in
your breast. When we love one another there is no need
of either disguise or reserve : I love you, and I verily be-
lieve you love me : so you have only to write just what
you feel.

The essential part of Christian holiness is givmg.the
heart wholly to God ; and certainly we need not lose any
degree of that light and love which at first attend this : it
is our own infirmity if we do ; it is not the will of the Lord
concerning us. Your present business is, not to reason
whether you should call your experience thus or thus ; but
to go straight to Him that loves you, with all your wants,
how great or how many soever they are. Then all things
are ready ; help, while you ask, is given. You have only
to receive it by simple faith. Nevertheless you will still
be encompassed with numberless infirmities ; for you live
in a house of clay, and therefore this corruptible body will,
more or less, press down the soul, yet not so as to prevent
your rejoicing evermore, and having a witness that your
heart is all his. You may claim this : it is yours ; for
Christ is yours. Believe, and feel him near.

My dear sister, adieu.


Cork, May 30, 1769.
Dear Sister, — Some years since, I was inclined to
tliink that none who had once enjoyed and then lost the
pure love of God must ever look to enjoy it again till they
were just stepping into eternity. But experience has
taught us better things : we have at present numerous
instances of those who had cast away that unspeakable


blessing, and now enjoy it in a larger measure than ever.
And why should not this be your case ? Because you are
unworthy ? So were they. Because you have been an
unfaithful steward ? So had they been also ; yet God healed
them freely ; and so he will you, only do not reason against
him. liOok for nothing in yourself but sin and unworthi-
ness. Forget yourself. Worthy is the Lamb, and he has
prevailed for you. You shall not die, but live ; live all the
life of heaven on earth. You need nothing in order to this
but faith ; and who gives this ? He that standeth at the

I hope to see you at Limerick on Monday next ; and I
pray, let there never more be any reserve between you and

Your truly affectionate, <fec.


Dublin, July 24, 1769.
Dear Sister, — If the reading over your papers has no
other effect, this it certainly has, — it makes me love you
abundantly better than I did before : I have now a more
intimate knowledge of you ; I enter more into your spirit,
your tempers, and hopes, and fears, and desires ; all which
tends to endear you to me. It is plain, one of your con-
stant enemies, and the most dangerous of all is evil reason-
ing. Accordingly the thing which you chiefly want is
Christian simplicity. Brother Bourkc and you should
carefully watch over each other in that respect, and let
each deal faithfully with the other; let there be no reserve
between you ; encourage one another also to pray for and
expect the continual and direct witness of the Spirit. My
dear friend, remember

Yours affectionately, &c.



Ashby, July 27, 1770.
Dear Sister, — Will you ever find in yourself any thing
but unfitness ? Otherwise your salvation would be of works,
not of grace. But you are frequently sick of a bad disease,
evil reasoning; which hinders both your holiness and hap-
piness : you want the true Christian simplicity, which is
indeed the highest wisdom. Nothing is more clear, ac-
cording to the plain Bible account, than sanctification ;
pure love reigning in the heart and life. And nothing is
more plain than the necessity of this, in order to feel hap-
piness here and hereafter. Check all reasoning concern-
ing these first principles, else you will exceedingly darken
your soul ; and go on denying yourself, and taking up your
cross, until you

" Sink into perfection's height,
The depth of humble love."

Still draw near to the fountain by simple faith, and take
all you want ; but be not slothful in your Lord's vineyard.


Dubli7i, July 20, 1771.

My Dear Sister, — I am much pleased to hear so good

an account of J. C . If I was resolved to understand

all God's dispensations, I should embrace his opinion ;
because it in a manner accounts for some things which
otherwise are unaccountable. But this I do not expect :
I am content to understand exceeding little, while I am in
the body. What He docs, I know not now : it is enough
that I shall know hereafter. Our business now is to love
and obey : knowledge is reserved for eternity. My chief
objection to Milton's doctrine of election is, that I cannot
reconcile it to the words of St. Peter, which manifestly
refer to the eternal state of men : " God is no respecter of


persons." Now how can we allow this, if we believe he
places one man, as it were, suspended between heaven
and hell, while he fixes another, ere ever he is born, under
an absolute impossibility of missing heaven ?

I am well pleased you see some reason to hope well of

Mr. T . Speak closely to him. He has a strong,

cultivated understanding, and would make a shining Chris-
tian. If he continues serious, he will not long be pleased
with his former company : they will grow tasteless, nay,

It is not material whether this or that infirmity or defect
be consistent with this or that gift of God. Without rea-
soning about this, it is your part simply to spread all your
wants before Him who loves you ; and he will richly sup
ply them all.


Rye, October 28, 1771
My Dear Sister, — It is no wonder that finite cannot
measure infinite ; that man cannot comprehend the ways
of God. There always will be something incomprehensi-
ble, something like himself, in all his dispensations. We
must therefore be content to be ignorant until eternity
opens our understanding ; particularly with regard to the
reasons of his acting thus or thus. These we shall be
acquainted with when in Abraham's bosom.

As thinking is the act of an imbodied spirit, playing
upon a set of material keys, it is not strange that the soul
can make but ill music when her instrument is out of tune
This is frequently the case with you ; and the trouble and
anxiety you then feel are a natural eflect of the disordered
machine, which proportionably disorders the mind. But
this is not all : as long as you have to wrestle not only
with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers,
wise as well as powerful, will they not serve themselves
of every bodily weakness to increase the distress of the


soul ? But let them do as they may ; let our frail bodies
concur with subtle and malicious spirits ; yet see that you
cast not away your confidence, which hath great recom-
pense of reward. " Be strong in the Lord, and in the
power of his might." Whereunto you have attained, hold
fast ; and when you feel the roughest and strongest assault,
when the enemy comes in like a flood, do not reason, do
not (in one sense) fight with him ; but sink down in the
presence of your Lord, and simply look up, telling him,
" Lord, I cannot help myself; I have neither wisdom nor
strength for this war ; but I am thine, I am all thine : un-
dertake for me : let none pluck me out of thine hands.
Keep that safe which is committed to thee, and preserve
it unto that day."


Bristol, September 10, 1773.

My Dear Sister, — When two or three agree to seek
God by fasting and prayer, it cannot be that their labour
should be in vain ; especially if they add their endeavours
to their prayers for the increase of the work of God. I
hope you will encourage every preacher to visit the whole
society in order, from house to house : dinner, or drinking
tea, does not answer the same intention. This may and
ought to be done over and above.

I thought you had been in more danger of being hurt by
worldly abundance than worldly care. But we cannot
stand under either one or the other, unless we be endued
with power from on high ; and that continually, from hour
to hour, or rather from moment to moment. Yet distress
is not sin : we may be grieved^ and still resigned. And
this is acceptable with God. In all these cases you should
remember that observation, never to be let slip, —

*' Wilh even mind thy course of duty run :
God nothing does, or suffers to be done,
But thou wouldst do thyself, if thou couldst see
The end of all events as well as he !"



Sheemess, December 1, 1773.

My Dear Sister, — Some time since, when I heard
bnither Bennis had got very rich, I was in fear for you,
lest the world should again find a way into your heart, and
damp your noblest affections. I am not sorry that you
have not that temptation. It is most desirable to have
neither poverty nor riches ; but still you cannot be without
temptation, unless you would go out of the world. How
far that sudden emotion which you speak of is a preter-
natural dart from Satan, and how far it springs from your
own heart, it is exceeding hard to judge. It is possible
it may be neither one nor the other, but a mere effect of
the natural mechanism of the body, which has no more of
good or evil than blushing or turning pale. But whether
it be natural or preternatural, it is grievous to one whose
conscience is tender. We may therefore undoubtedly
pray against it. And surely He can and will deliver us.
Come therefore boldly to the throne of grace, and find
grace to help in time of need.

You will find full employment in Waterford : I believe
that society wants your exertions. Sec, therefore, that
you be not weary of well doing.


London, January 18, 1774.
M^ Dear Sister, — A will steadily and uniformly de-
voted to God is essential to a state of sanctification ; but
not a uniformity of joy, or peace, or happy communion
with God. These may rise and fall in various degrees ;
nay, and may be affected either by the body or by diaboli-
cal agency, in a manner which all our wisdom can neither
understand nor prevent. As to wanderings, you would do
right well to consider the sermon on wandering thoughta.


You might likewise profit by Elizabeth Harper's Journal,
whose experience much resembled yours, only she was
more simple : and you may learn from her to go straight
to God, as a little child, and tell him all your troubles, and
hinderances, and doubts ; and desire him to turn them all
to good. You are not sent to Waterford to be useless.
Stir up the gift of God which is in you ; gather together
those that have been scattered abroad, and make up a band,
if not a class or two. Your best way would be to visit
from house to house. By this means you can judge of
their conduct and dispositions in domestic life, and may
have opportunity to speak to the young of the family. By
motion you will contract warmth ; by imparting life, you
will increase it in yourself.

As to the circumstance mentioned in the postscript of
your last, I should think you would do well to exert your-
self in that matter as much as possible. It will be a cross :
take up that cross ; bear your cross, and it will bear you ;
and if you do it with a single eye, it will be no loss to your


London, March 1, 1774.

My Dear Sister, — Elizabeth Harper was frequently
in clouds too ; and in that case it is the best way to stand
still : you can do nothing but simply teU all your wants to
Him that is both able and willing to supply them.

I enclose James Perfect's letter, on purpose that you
may talk with him. He has both an honest heart and a
good understanding ; but you entirely mistake his doctrine.
He preaches salvation by faith in the same manner that
my brother and I have done ; and as Mr. Fletcher (one of
the finest writers of the age) has beautifully explained it.
None of us talk of being accepted for our works : that is
the Calvinist slander. But we all maintain, we are not
saved without works ; that works are a condition (though


not the meritorious cause) of final salvation. It is by faith
in the righteousness and blood of Christ that we are ena-
bled to do all good works ; and it is for the sake of these
that all who fear God and work righteousness are accepted
of him.

It is far better for our people not to hear Mr. Hawks-
worth. Calvinism will do them no good: as to the rest, I

refer to my enclosure to Mr. M , with whom I wish

you to have some conversation. Be not discouraged : I
really believe God will visit poor Waterford in love. Do
you go on. Bear up the hands that hang down ; by faith
and prayer support the tottering knee ; reprove, encourage.
Have you appointed any days of fasting and prayer ? Storm
the throne of grace, and persevere therein, and mercy will
come down.


Leeds, May 2, 1774.

My Dear Sister, — Until Mr. Hill and his associates
puzzled the cause, it was as plain as plain could be. The
Methodists always held, and have declared a thousand
times, the death of Christ is the meritorious cause of our
salvation, that is, of pardon, holiness, and glory ; loving,
obedient faith is the condition of glory. This Mr. Fletcher
has so illustrated and confirmed as I think scarcely any
one has done before since the apostles.

When Mr. W wrote me a vehement letter concern-
ing the abuse he had received from the young men in
Limerick, and his determination to put them all out of the
society, if they did not acknowledge their fault, I much
wondered what could be the matter, and only wrote him
word, " I never put any out of our society for any thing
they say of me." You are come in good time to make
peace. Go on and prosper.



London, December 21, 1776.

My Dear Sister, — You are a great deal less happy
than you would be. if you did not reason too much. This

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Online LibraryJohn WesleySelect letters, chiefly on personal religion → online text (page 14 of 18)