John Wesley.

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frequently gives that subtle adversary an advantage against
you. You have need to be continually as a little child,
simply looking up for whatever you want.

It is devoutly to be wished for, that we may rejoice
evermore ; and it is certain, the inward kingdom of God
implies not only righteousness and peace, but joy in the
Holy Ghost. You have therefore reason to ask for and
expect the whole gospel blessing. Yet it cannot be denied
that many times joy is withheld, even from them that walk
uprightly. The great point of all is, a heart and a life
entirely devoted to God. Keep only this, and let all the
rest go : give him your heart, and it sufficeth.


London, December 4, 1768.
My Dear Brother, — I cannot yet convince you of one
thing, (and it is a thing of importance,) that you may make
greater progress in valuable knowledge by reading those
books, (particularly if read in that order,) than you can by
reading any other books which are now extant in England.

It follows, that your friend B , in this respect, is not

your friend ; for he puts you out of your way ; he retards
you in the attainment of the most useful knowledge. He
gratifies your curiosity (a bad principle too) at the expense
of your improvement. It is better for you to read these
books than his ; which (if they are not hurtful or dangerous,
at least) do not lead directly to the end you propose.
Choose the best way.



Skoreham, December 22, 1768.
My Dear Joseph, — You do not quite take my meaning
yet. When I recommend to any one a method or scheme
of study, I do not barely consider this or that book sepa-
rately, but in conjunction with the rest. And what I
recommend I know : I know both the style and sentiments
of each author ; and how he will confirm or illustrate what
goes before, and prepare for what comes after. Now
supposing Mr. Stonehouse, Roquet, or any other, to have
ever so great learning and judgment, yet he does not enter
into my plan. He does not comprehend my views, nor
keep his eye fixed on the same point. Therefore I must
insist upon it, the interposing other books between these
till you have read them through, is not good husbandry.
It is not making your time and pains go so far as they
might go. If you want more books, let me recommend
more, who best understand my own scheme. And do not
ramble, however learned the persons may be that advise
you so to do. This does indulge curiosity, but does not
minister to real improvement, as a stricter method would
do. No ; you would gain more clearness and strength of
judgment by reading those Latin and Greek books, (com-
pared with which most of the English are whipped sylla-
bub,) than by fourscore modern books. I have seen the
proof as none of your Bristol friends have done, or can do.
Therefore I advise you again, keep to your plan, (though
this implies continual self-denial,) if you would improve
your understanding to the highest degree of which it is


Ctnk, Mmj 27, 17fi9.

Dear Joseph, — You have now (what you never had
before) a clear providential call to Oxford. If you keep a


single eye, and have courage and steadiness, you may be
an instrument of much good. But you will tread on slip-
pery gTOund ; and the serious persons you mention may do
you more hurt than many others. When I was at Oxford,
I never was afraid of any but the almost Christians. If
you give way to them and their prudence a hair's breadth,
you will be removed from the hope of the gospel. If you
are not moved, if you tread in the same steps which my
brother and I did, you may be a means, under God, of
raising another set of real Bible Christians. How long
the world will suffer them (whether longer than they did
us or not) is in God's hand.

With regard to Kings wood school, I have one string
more : if that breaks, I shall let it drop. I have borne the
burden one and twenty years ; I have done what I could ;
now let some one else do more.


Bristol, October 5, 1770.

Dear Joseph, — You need no apology for your writing:
the more frequently and freely you write, the better, 1
cannot doubt but your neighbour means well ; but he is a
thorough enthusiast, and has hardly one clear conception
of any thing, natural or spiritual. Mr. Keard, from Aber-
deen, and Mr. Wooton, (our new writing-master, a man of

an excellent spirit,) are at Kingswood. But does Mr. J

know the price ? — Sixteen pounds a year. Does he know
the rules of the school ? Again : of what age are the chil-
dren ? I Avill take none that is above nine years old: now,
especially, because I will not have our children corrupted ;
nine of whom, together with our three maid-servants, have
just now experienced a gracious visitation, and are rejoicing
in a pardoning God.

I am glad you had the courage to speak your mind on
so critical an occasion. At all hazards do so still ; only
with all possible tenderness and respect. She is much


devoted to God, and has a thousand valuable and amiable
qualities. There is no great fear that I should be preju-
diced against one whom I have intimately known for these
thirty years. And I know what is in man ; therefore I

Y make large allowance for human weaknesses. But what
you say is exactly the state of the case. They are " jea-
lous of their authority." Truly there is no cause : longe
mea discrepat illi et vox et ratio* I fear and shun, not
desire authority of any kind. Only when God lays that
burden upon me I bear it for his and the people's sake.
"Child," said my father to me when I was young, "you

r think to carry every thing by dint of argument. But you
will find, by and by, how very little is ever done in the
world by clear reason." Very little indeed ! It is true of
almost all men, except so far as we are taught of God, —

" Against experience we believe,

We argue against demonstration ;
Pleased while our reaison we deceive,
And set our judgment by our passion."

Passion and prejudice govern the world ; only under the
name of reason. It is our part, by religion and reason
joined, to counteract them all we can. It is yours, in par-
ticular, to do all that in you lies to soften the prejudices of
those that are around about you, and to calm the passions
from which they spring. Blessed are the peace-makers !
You judge rightly : perfect love and Christian liberty are
the very same thing; and those two expressions are equally
proper, being equally Scriptural. " Nay, how can they
and you mean the same thing ? They say you insist on
holiness in the creature, on good tempers, and sin destroy-
ed." Most surely. And what is Christian liberty, but
another word for holiness ? And where is this liberty or
holiness, if it is not in the creature ? Holiness is the love
of God and man, or the mind which was in Christ. Now,

* This quotation from Horace u thus translated by Boscawen :—

•'Far different are my thoughts and strain." — Ed.


I tnist, the love of God is shed abroad in your heart by the
Holy Ghost which is given unto you. And if you are holy,
is not that mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus 1

And are not the love of God and our neighbour good
tempers ? And so far as these reign in the soul are not the
opposite tempers, worldly-mindedness, malice, cruelty, re-
Tengefulness, destroyed? Indeed, the unclean spirit, though
driven out, may return and enter again : nevertheless, he
was driven out. I use the word destroyed, because St. Paul
does : suspended I cannot find in my Bible. " But they say
you do not consider this as the consequence of the power
\ of Christ dwelling in us." Then what will they not say ?
My very words are, " None feel their need of Christ like
these ; none so entirely depend upon him. For Christ does
not give light to the soul separate from, but in and with,
himself. Hence his words are equally true of all men, in
whatever state of grace they are : ' As the branch cannot
bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine ; no more can
ye, except ye abide in me : without' (or separate from) 'me,
ye can do nothing.' For our perfection is not like that of
a tree, which flourishes by the sap derived from its o\vn
root ; but like that of a branch, which, united to the vine,
bears fruit ; but, severed from it, is ' dried up and withered.' "
At length, veris vincor :* I am constrained to believe
(what I would not for a long time) these are not the objec-
tions of judgment, but of passion ; they do not spring from
the head, but the heart. Whatever I say, it will be all
one. They will find fault, because I say it. There is
implicit envy at my power, (so called,) and a jealousy
rising therefrom. Hence prejudice in a thousand forms ;
nence objections springing up like mushrooms. And while
those causes remain, they will spring up, whatever I can
do or say. However, keep thyself pure ; and then there
need be no strangeness between you and,

Dear Joseph,

Your afiectionate brother

* I am overcome by the force of truth. — Ed.



London, November 30, 1770.

Dear Joseph,— For several years I had been deeply
convinced that I had not done my duty with regard to that
valuable woman ; that I had not told her what, I was tho-
roughly assured, no one else would dare to do, and what I
knew she would bear from no other person, but possibly
might bear from me. But being unwilling to give her pain,
I put it off from time to time. At length I did not dare to
delay any longer, lest death should call one of us hence.
So I at once delivered my own soul, by telling her ail that
was in my heart. It was my business, my proper business,
s6 to do ; as none else either could or would do it. Nei-
ther did I take at all too much upon me : I know the office
of a Christian minister. If she is not profited, it is her
own fault, not mine : I have done my duty. I do not know
there is one charge in that letter which was either unjust,
unimportant, or aggravated ; any more than that against the
doggerel hymns, which axe equally an insult upon poetry
and common sense.

We had a good time, both at the Tabernacle and Tot
tenham-court Chapel. The congregations were immense.
Perhaps not a third part could come within hearing ; and
they were more quiet than could well have been expected.
The sermon will be pubUshed on Monday, and sent down
to Bristol. Mr. Keen and Hardy, his executors, have, I
apprehend, the whole and sole disposal of the Tabernacle,
Tottenham-court Chapel, and all the other houses which
were occupied by Mr. Whitcfield. The Chapel and Ta-
bernacle are supplied by Mr. Joss and Brooksbank ; and
Mr. Neale administers the sacrament there.

I find no such sin as legality in the Bible : the very use
of the term speaks an Antinoraian. I defy all liberty, but
liberty to love and serve God ; and fear no bondage, but
bondage to sin. Sift that text to the bottom, and it will do
the business of poor H and all his disciples : " God


sent his own Son in the flesh, that the righteousness Of
the law might be fulfilled in us." Justitia legis, justitia
legalis!* Here is legality indeed!

I am glad you come a little nearer the good old empe-
ror's advice, Trjv tuv (3i61iuv diipav pinrc^ That thirst is
the symptom of an evil disease ; and crescit indulgens sihi
dims hydrops.\ What is the real value of a thing, but the
price it will bear in eternity? Let no study swallow up, or
intrench upon, the hours of private prayer. Nil tanti.^
Simplify both religion and every part of learning as much
as possible. Be all alive to God, and you will be useful
to men !


London, December 28, 1770.

Dear Joseph, — ^What a blessing it is, that we can
speak freely to each other, without either disguise or re-
serve ! So long as we are able to do this, we may grow
wiser and better every day.

One point I advise you to hold fast, and let neither men
nor devils tear it from you. You are a child of God ; yon
are justified freely, through the redemption which is in
Christ Jesus. Your sins are forgiven ! Cast not away that
confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.

Now can any be justified but by faith? None can.
Therefore you are a believer ; you have faith in Christ ;
you know the Lord ; you can say, " My Lord and mj'
God." And whoever denies this, may as well deny that
the sun shines at noonday.

" Yet still ten thousand lusts remain,

And vex your soul, absolved from sin; •
Still rebel nature strives to reign,
And you are all unclean, unclean !"

* The righteousness of the lav^r is legal righteousness. — Ed.
t Throw away that thirst for books. — Ed.
% The dreadful dropsy increases by indulgence. — Ed.
^ Nothing is of so much importance. — ^Ed.


This is equally clear and undeniable. And this is not
only your experience, but the experience of a thousand
believers besides, who yet are sure of God's favour as of
their own existence. To cut off all doubt on this head,
I beg you to give another serious reading to those two
sermons, " Sin in Believers," and " The Repentance of

" But is there no help ? Is there no deliverance, no sal-
vation from this inbred enemy?" Surely there is, else many
great and precious promises must fall to the ground. " I
will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean ;
from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse
you." " I will circumcise thy heart," (from all sin,) " to
love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy
soul." This I term sanctification, (which is both an
instantaneous and a gradual work,) or perfection, the being
perfected in love, filled with love, which still admits of a
thousand degrees. But I have no time to throw away in
contending for words, especially where the thing is allowed.
And you allow the whole thing which I contend for ; an
entire deliverance from sin, a recovery of the whole image
of God, the loving God with all our heart, soul, and strength.
And you believe God is able to give you this ; yea, to give
it you in an instant. You trust he will. O hold fast this
also ; this blessed hope, which he has wrought in your
heart ! And with all zeal and diligence confirm the bre-
thren, — 1. In holding fast that whereto they have attained;
namely, the remission of all their sins by faith in a bleed-
ing Lord: 2. In expecting a second change, whereby they
shall be saved from all sin, and perfected in love.

If they like to call this " receiving the Holy Ghost,"
they may: only the phrase, in that sense, is not Scriptural,
and not quite proper ; for they all " received the Holy
Ghost" when they were justified. God then " sent forth
the Spirit of his Son into their hearts, crj'ing, Abba,

O Joseph, keep close to the Bible, both as to sentiment


and expression ! Then there will never be any material
difference between you and

Your affectionate brother.

This morning I have calmly and coolly read over my

letter to L H » 1 still beheve every line of it is

true. And I am assured I spoke the truth in love. It is
great pity, any \vho wish her well should skin over the
wounds which are there searched. As long as she resents
that office of true esteem, her grace can be but small!


London, January 8, 1774.

Dear Joseph, — Many persons are in danger of reading
too little : you are in danger of reading too much. Where-
ever you are, take up your cross, and visit all the society
from house to house. Do this according to Mr. Baxter's
I plan, laid down in the Minutes of the Conference. The
fruit which will ensue (perhaps in a short time) will abun-
dantly reward your labour. Fruit also we shall have, even
in those who have no outward connection with us.

I am glad you " press all believers" to aspire after the
full liberty of the children of God. They must not give
up their faith in order to do this : herein you formerly

I seemed to be in some mistake. Let them go on from faith
to faith ; from weak faith to that strong faith which not
only conquers but casts out sin. Meantime it is certain,
many call themselves believers who do not even conquer
sin ; who are strangers to the whole inward kingdom of
God, and void of the whole fruit of the Spirit.

We must not go on at Dunbar in this manner. Rather,
•we must quit the place. For who wiU pay that debt ?

On Tuesday I was under the surgeon's hands, but am
now (blessed be God) quite recovered.



Near London, February 22, 1776.

Dear Joseph, — We must threaten no longer, but peiv
form. In November last I told the London society, " Our
rule is, to meet a class once a week ; not once in two or
three. I now give you warning : I will give tickets to none
in February but those that have done this." I have stood
to my word. Go you and do likewise, wherever you visit
the classes- Begin, if need be, at Newcastle, and go on
at Sunderland. Promises to meet are now out of date.
Those that have not met seven times in the quarter ex-
clude. Read their names in the society ; and inform them
all you will the next quarter exclude all that have not met
twelve times : that is, unless they were hindered by dis-
tance, sickness, or by some unavoidable business.

And I pray, without fear or favour, remove the leaders,
whether of classes or bands, who do not watch over the souls
committed to their care " as those that must give account."


October 22, 1776.

Dear Joseph, — I apprehend Joseph Folhergill was not
designedly omitted. I take him to be a good man, and a
good preacher.

You did right in excluding from our society so notorious
an offender. And you have now a providential call to
stand in the gap between the living and the dead. Fear
nothing. Begin in the name of God, and go through with
the work. If only six will promise you to sin no more,
leave only six in the society. But my belief is, a hundred
and fifty are now clear of blame ; and if you are steady, a
hundred more will amend. You must, at all events, tear
up this evil by the roots. The " Word to a Smuggler"
should be read and dispersed. And secure your fellow-
labourers, that you may all speak one thing. Go on, for
God is with you !




Chatham, November 26, 1776.

Dear Joseph, — If any leader opj>ose, you see your re-
medy : put another in his place. Nay, if he does not join
heart and hand ; for " he that gathereth not with you scat-
tereth." The " Word to a Smuggler" is plain and home,
and has done much good in these parts.

Taking opium is full as bad as taking drams. It equally
hurts the understanding, and is, if possible, more pernicious
to the health than even rum or brandy. None should
touch it, if they have the least regard either for their souls
or bodies.

I really think you are in the right. It is better to help

R W where he is, than to burden the Dales with

an additional weight. But then what shall we do ? We
have no supernumerary preachers. See if you can do any
thing with Edward Jackson.


London, December 8, 1777.

Dear Joseph, — Undoubtedly Bishop Newton's book on
the prophecies is w^ell written. And he is certainly a man
of sense, and of considerable learning. This he has shown
in what he writes on the Revelation. But with regard to
the passage you mention, I cannot agree with him at all.
I beheve the Romish Antichrist is already so fallen that
he will not again lift up his head in any considerable
degree. The bishop of Rome has little more power now
than any other of the Italian princes. I therefore concur
with you in believing his tyranny is past, never to return.

But there is no comparison, either as to sense, learning,
or piety, between Bishop Newton and Bengelius. The
former is a mere child to the latter. I advise you to give
another serious and careful reading to that extract from his
Comment on the Revelation, which concludes the Notes.
There you have one uniform consistent [view,] far beyond


any 1 ever saw. And I verily believe, the more deeply
you consider it, the more you will admire it.

Does any one deny that a kite is bigger than a lark ? or
that Ogilvie has written a larger book than Yirgil ? And
certainly there are larger Magazines than ours : but it does
not follow that they are better. Ours is reduced to half
the price, and will contain forty-eight pages, which is the
usual number for sixpence.

We are called to propagate Bible religion through the
land ; that is, faith working by love ; holy tempers, and
holy lives. Let us do it with our might!


Warrington, May 21, 1781.

Dear Joseph, — As I have not leisure myself, I am
exceeding glad that you have entered into the lists with

Mr. A . And I am in hopes you will " reply at large"

to all his cavils and objections. If he cites any thing from
me, you should answer simply, " I never undertook to defend

every sentiment of Mr. W 's. He does not expect or

desire it. He wishes me and every man to think for himself."

If you remember, I do not insist on the term impression.
I say again, I will thank any one that will find a better ;
be it discovery, manifestation, deep sense, or whatever it
may. That some consciousness of our being in favour with
God, is joined with Christian faith, I cannot doubt ; but it
is not the essence of it. A consciousness of pardon cannot
be the condition of pardon.

But I am still more glad that you have some thoughts
of answering that pernicious book of poor Mr. Madan.
Analyze it first with the postscript ; then overturn it tlio
roughly, from the beginning to the end. You may steer
between the extremes of too much roughness and too much
smoothness. And see that you are plain enough for women
and pretty gentlemen. I allow you a hundred pages.
I am, dear Joseph,

Your affectionate friend and brother.



Bristol, September 17, 1788.
Dear Joseph, — I am glad you have determined to cor-
rect Mr. Fletcher's Letters. You will observe that it is
*' dangerous, on such subjects, to depart from Scripture,
either as to language or sentiment ;" and I believe that
"most of the controversies which have disturbed the church
lj.ave arisen from people's wanting to be wise above what
is written, not contented with what God has plainly re-
vealed there." What have you or I to do with that "diffi-
culty ?" I dare not, will not, reason about it for a moment.
I believe just what is revealed, and no more ; but I do not
pretend to account for it, or to solve the difficulties that may
attend it. Let angels do this, if they can ; but I think they
cannot. I think even these

" Would find no end, in wandering mazes lost."
V Some years since, I read about fifty pages of Dr. Watts's
i ingenious treatise upon the " Glorified Humanity of Christ."
\ But it so confounded my intellects, and plunged me into
I tfuch unprofitable reasonings, yea, dangerous ones, that I
would not have read it through for five hundred pounds.
It led him into Arianism. Take care that similar tracts
(all of which I abhor) have not the same effect upon you.
I like your thoughts upon Materialism; as I doubt not I
should those on the separate existence of the soul. It will be
best to print at Hull or York, if you can print almost as cheap,
and have as good paper. Should there not be a thousand co-
pies ? Then you will reserve a hundred of them for yoiurself.


Dublin, June 20, 1789.

My Dear Brother, — Michael is an original. He

tells hes innumerable, many of them plausible enough. But
many talk full as plausibly as he ; and they that can beheve
him, may. I do not doubt but some part of your verse, as
weE as prose, will reach the hearts of some of the rich.



Dr. Coke made two or three little alterations in tho
Prayer Book without my knowledge. I took particular
care throughout to alter nothing merely for altering's sake.
In religion I am for as few innovations as possible. I love
the old wine best. And if it were only on this account, I
prefer " which'''' before " who art in heaven."

Mr. Howard is really an extraordinary man. God has
raised him up to be a blessing to many nations. I do not

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Online LibraryJohn WesleySelect letters, chiefly on personal religion → online text (page 15 of 18)