John Wesley.

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doubt but there has been something more than natural in his
preservation hitherto, and should not wonder if the provi-
dence of God should hereafter be still more conspicuous
in his favour.

A|?out three weeks hence I expect to embark for Eng-
land. Peace be with you and yours !


I HAVE now revised the five volumes of my brother's
hymns on the four gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.
He had himself revised them no less than seven times in
the space of twenty years. Many of them are little or no-
thing inferior to the best of them that have been printed.
Those of them that savour a little of mysticism I have rather
corrected or expunged ; but I have no thought or design at
all of printing them. I have other work to do which is of
more immediate importance. Besides that, I have not two
or three hundred pounds to spare. I will order my printer
to strike off some of your proposals, which I will then occa
sionally recommend to my friends. Some of them I know
will subscribe ; and it may be, God will incline the hearts
of more than I am aware of. But with whom do you agree
for paper and printing ? Proceed warily, or you may get
into much trouble. That God may bless you and yours,
and be your Guide in this and in all things, is the prayer of

Your affectionate brother.*

* Mr. Churchey was now about to publish his large volume of poctusy
which Mr. Wesley permitted him to prittt at his own press. — Ed.



January 25, 1771.
As you desire a few directions with regard to the im
provement of your mind, I will set down just what occur
to me at present. Only as my business is great, and my
time is short, I cannot stay to explain them at large.

All the knowledge you want is comprised in one book —
the Bible. When you understand this, you will know
enough. I ad\ase you, therefore, to begin ever}' day (be-
. fore or after private prayer) with reading a portion, more
\ or less, of the Old or New Testament, or of both, if you
\ have time, together with the Notes, which may lead you
by the hand into suitable meditation. After breakfast, you
may read, in order, the volumes of Sermons, and the other
practical books which we have published ; more or less at
a time, (as other business permits,) with meditation and
prayer. Young, Milton, and the ^Nloral and Sacred Poems,
you may read chiefly in the afternoons. Whatever you
write, you should write in the forenoons. Take care never
to read or write too long at a time. That is not conducive
either to bodily or spiritual health. If I can be of use to you
in any thing else, tell me : you know you may speak freely to

Yours affectionately.


Bandon, May 2, 1771.
There is no fear I should forget you, especially at this
time, when all the powers of hell are engaged against you;
but let them come about you like bees, they shall be extinct
as the fire among the thorns. Tempted you are, and will
be ; otherwise you could not know your own weakness,
and the strength of your Master. But all temptations will
" work together for good ;" all are for your profit, that you
may be partaker of his hohness. You may always have
an evidence both of God's love to you, and of yours to him.
And at some times the former may be more clear ; at other


times, the latter. It is enough if, in one case or the other,
you simply stay your soul upon him. S. Harper's is the
ordinary experience of those who are renewed in love.
S. Jackson's experience is quite extraordinary, and what
very few of them have yet attained.

There is a danger of every believer's mistaking the voice
of the enemy, or of their own imagination, for the voice of
God. And you can distinguish one from the other, not by
any written rule, but only by the unction of the Holy One.
This only teaches Christian prudence, consistent with sim-
plicity and godly sincerity. The four volumes of Sermons,
the Appeals, the Notes, and the Extracts from Mr. Law's
Works, and from Dr. Young, might best suit you now ;
meddle with nothing that does not suit your present tem-
per. Meet with them that meet on a Friday, and speak
in God's name, without fear or shame. The general rule,
*' not to correspond but with those who have both grace
and understanding," admits of several exceptions, in favour
of a few who want one of them, or the other, or both. Be
not afraid of writing too long letters to me.


Galway, May 20, 1771.
Your concern is with the present moment : your busi-
ness is, to live to-day. In every sense let the morrow take
thought for the things of itself. It is true, the full assurance
of hope excludes all doubt of our final salvation ; but it does
not, and cannot, continue any longer than we walk closely
with God. And it does not include any assurance of our
future behaviour ; neither do I know any word in all the
Bible which gives us any authority to look for a testimony
of this kind. But just so far you may certainly go, with
regard to the present moment, —

" I want the witness, Lord,
That all I do is right :
According to thy will and word,
Well pleasing in thy sight."


Seriously and steadily, my dear maid, aim at this ; and you
will not be disappointed of your hope. With regard to the
impression you speak of, I am in doubt whether it be not a
temptation from the enemy. It may occasion many wrong
tempers ; it may feed both pride and uncharitableness.
And the Bible gives us no authority to think ill of any one,
but from plain, undeniable, overt acts.

Rollin was a pious man, and a fine historian. If you
read one volume, you would feel whether it enUvened or
deadened your soul. The same trial you may make as to
serious poetry. Very probably this would enliven your
soul ; and certainly the volumes of philosophy may, as
Galen entitles his description of the human body, "A Hymn
to the Creator." Temporal business need not interrupt
your communion with God, though it varies the manner of
it. It is certain every promise has a condition ; yet that
does not make the promise of none effect ; but by the pro-
mise you are encouraged and enabled to fulfil the condi-
tion. You might Uke it better were there no condition ;
but that would not answer the design of Him that makes
it. It is certain there are times of nearer access to God,
and that it nearly imports us to improve those precious
seasons. But we may find plausible objections against
this ; and, indeed, against any thing.


Dublin, July 13, 1771.
Truth and falsehood, and so right and wrong tempers,
are often divided by an almost imperceptible line. It is
the more difficult to distinguish right and wrong tempers,
or passions, because, in several instances, the same motion
of the blood and animal spirits will attend both one and
the other. Therefore, in many cases, we cannot distin-
guish them but by the unction of the Holy One. In the
case you mention, all self-complacency or self-approbation
is not pride. Certainly there may be self-approbation,
which is not sin, though it must occasion a degree of plea-


sure. " This is our rejoicing, even the testimony of our
conscience toward God." And this joy is neither better
nor worse for being accompanied with a natural motion of
the blood and spirits. Equally natural, and equally inno-
cent, is the joy which we receive from being approved by
those we love. But, in all these instances, there is need
of the utmost care lest we slide from innocent joy, or self-
approbation, into that which is not innocent, into pride,
(thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think,)
or vanity, a desire of praise.

"For thin partitions do their bounds divide."
Be all in earnest.


The Hay, August 24, 1771.
If you find any comfort or help thereby, write on, with-
out any reasoning about the matter. The various thoughts
and suggestions you mention are just such as any person
of a lively imagination may expect. Satan, too, very well
knows whereof we are made, and always attacks us on the
weak side. But these, and a thousand clouds passing over
your mind, prove nothing as to the state of your heart : see
that this be devoted to God, and it is enough. You have
given it him : stand to your gift. However then your ima-
gination may be affected, you will have the testimony of a
good conscience toward God. Not but that you may plead
that promise, " The peace of God shall keep your hearts and
minds through Christ Jesus." As the former word takes
in all your passions, so does the latter all the workings of
your reason and imagination. Pray, therefore, and look for
the answer of your prayer. It shall come, and not tarry!


Witney, Oclober 16, 1771.
It is no fault to be grieved at the unkindness of those
we love : only it may go to an excess ; so that we have


need to watch in this, as in all things, seeing the hfe of
man is a temptation upon earth. And it is no fault not to
grieve for the censure we must often meet with for follow-
ing our own conscience. Of those little ones you cannot
be too tender or too careful ; and as you are frequently
alone, you may teach them many important lessons, as they
are able to bear them. But it requires immense patience ;
for you must tell them the same thing ten times over, or
you do nothing.

A higher degree of that peace which may well be said to
" pass all understanding" will keep, not only your heart, but
all the workings of your mind, (as the word properly signi-
fies,) both of your reason and imagination, from all irregular
sallies. This peace will increase as your faith increases :
one always keeps pace with the other. So that on this
account also your continual prayer should be, " Lord, in-
crease my faith!" A continual desire is a continual prayer,
that is, in a low sense of the word ; for there is a far higher
sense, — such an open intercourse with God, such a close,
uninterrupted communion with him as G. Lopez expe-
rienced, and not a few of our brethren now ahve. This
you also should aspire after ; as you know He with whom
we have to do is no respecter of persons.


January 5, 1772.
It is not always a defect to mind one thing at a time.
And an aptness so to do. to employ the whole vigour of the
mind on the thing in hand, may answer excellent purposes.
Only you have need to be exceeding wary, lest the thing
you pursue be wrong. First, be well assured not only that
it is good, but that it is the best thing for you at that time ;
and then, whatsoever your hand findeth to do, do it with
your might. But you have all things in one, the whole of
religion contracted to a point, in that word, "Walk in love,
as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us." All is
contained in humble, gentle^, patient love. Is not this, so


to speak, a divine contrivance to assist the narrowness of
our minds, the scantiness of our understandings ? Every
right temper, and then all right words and actions, naturally
branch out of love. In effect, therefore, you want nothing
but this, — to be filled with the faith that worketh by love.


LeUh, May 13, 1772.
To set the state of perfection too high is the surest way
to drive it out of the world. The substance of that test, I
believe, I have seen ; and I judge it not consistent with
humanity ; I mean with the state of a hunian soul as long
as it is united to a corruptible body. Do not puzzle your-
self any more with these nice inquiries ; but, in order to
resettle your judgment, give another dehberate reading to
the " Farther Thoughts," or the " Plain Account of Chris-
tian Perfection." He that long ago gave you to taste of
his pardoning love gave you afterward a taste of his pure
love. Whereunto you have attained, hold fast; never cast
it away through a voluntary' humility. But see that you do
not rest there. Comparatively, forget the things that are
behind. Reach forward ! This one thing do : press on to
the prize of your high calling.


Whithy, June 20, 1772.
It is of admirable use to bear the weaknesses, nay, and
even the faults, of the real children of God. And the tempta-
tions to anger which rise herefrom are often more profitable
than any other. Yet surely, for the present, they are not
joyous, but grievous : afterward comes the peaceable fruit.
You shall have exactly as much pain and as much disap-
pointment as will be most for your profit, and just sufficient to

" Keep you dead to all below,
Only Christ resolved to know."

Never make it matter of reasoning that you have not either
a larger or a smaller share of suffering. You shall have


exactly what is best both as to kind, degree, and time. O
what a blessing is it to be in His hand who " doeth all
things well !"

Of all gossiping, religious gossiping is the worst : it adds
hypocrisy to uncharitableness, and effectually does the work
of the devil in the name of the Lord. The leaders, in every
society, may do much toward driving it out from among the
Methodists. Let them, in the band or class, observe, —
1. " Now we are to talk of no absent person, but simply
of God and our own souls." 2. " The rule of our conversa-
tion here is to be the rule of all our conversation. Let us
observe it (unless in some necessarily exempt cases) at aU
times and in all places." If this be frequently inculcated,
it will have an excellent effect.

Instead of giving a caution once, as to a grown person,
you must give it to a child ten times. By this means you
may keep a sensible child from an improper familiarity with
servants. Cautions should also be given frequently and
earnestly to servants themselves ; and they will not always
be thrown away, if they have either grace or sense.


Bristol, August 31, 1772.

None are or can be saved but those who are by faith
made inwardly and outwardly holy. But this holy faith is
the gift of God ; and he is never straitened for time. He
can as easily give this faith in a moment as in a thousand
years. He frequently does give it on a deathbed, in an-
swer to the prayer of believers, but rarely, if ever, to those
who had continued unholy, upon the presumption that he
would save them at last. But if he did, what unspeakable
losers must they be! Could grief be in heaven, they would
grieve to eternity, seeing every one there shall receive his
own reward according to his own labour.

And he will perplex you more than enough, if you listen
to his sallies of imagination : " Every one has some pur-
suit; therefore a man cannot be always in communion with


God." I deny the consequence. While Mr. De Renty
was serving the poor, he was in constant communion with
God. So was Gregory L#opez while he was writing books.
"At first, indeed," as Lopez observed, "large manifestations
from God were apt to suspend the exercise of his senses,
as well as of his understanding. But, after some time, they
made no difference at all, but left him the full exercise of
his understanding and senses." I remember a much later
instance of the same kind : an old clergyman told me, some
years since, " I asked Mr. Boehm, (chaplain to Prince
George of Denmark,) ' Sir, when you are in such a hurry
of business, surrounded with a crowd of people, hearing
one, and dictating to another, at the same time, does it not
interrupt your mental prayer V He answered immediately,
* All that hurry no more hinders my communion with God,
than if I was all the time sitting alone in my study, or
kneeling at the altar.' " No business, therefore, of any kind,
no conversation, need hinder one that is strong in faith from
rejoicing evermore, praying without ceasing, and in every
thing giving thanks. Follow after this, and you will surely
attain it.


March 23, 1773.

If useless words or thoughts spring from evil tempers,
they are properly evil ; otherwise, not ; but still they are
contrary to the Adamic law : yet not to the law of love ;
therefore there is no condemnation for them, but they are
matter of humiliation before God. So are those (seem-
ingly) unbelieving thoughts, although they are not your
own, and you may boldly say, " Go, go, thou unclean spi
lit ; thou shalt answer for these, and not I."

Your affections were apt to be too impetuous, and some
times uneven too ; but nature yields to healing grace, which
I trust has made you both more calm and more steady :
and what will it not make you if you persevere ? All that
is amiable, holy, and happy ! Already He that loves you


gives you a taste of what he has prepared for you. Let
patience have its perfect virork ; and you shall be perfect
and entire, lacking nothing. See that you make the best
of life ! The time is short !


July 23, 1773.
j At many times our advances in the race that is set be-
V fore us are clear and perceptible ; at other times they are
] no more perceptible (at least to ourselves) than the growth
/ of a tree. At any time you may pray, —

" Strength and comfort from thy word
Imperceptibly supply."

And when you perceive nothing, it does not foHow that the
work of God stands still in your soul, especially while your
desire is unto him, and while you choose him for your por-
tion. He does not leave you to yourself, though it may
seem so to your apprehension. The difference between
temptation and sin is generally plain enough to all that are
simple of heart ; but in some exempt cases it is not plain ;
there we want the unction of the Holy One. Voluntary
humility, calling every defect a sin, is not well pleasing to
God. Sin, properly speaking, is neither more nor less
than " a voluntary transgression of a known law of God."

There are a thousand instances wherein it is not possi-
ble hterally to make restitution. All that we can advise
in the case you mention is, — 1. Let him that stole steal
no more ; let him be from this hour rigorously just. 2. Let
him be a faithful steward of the mammon of imrighteous-
ness, restoring all he can to God in the poor.


August 20, 1773.
I OFTEN heard my own mother make the same complaint
with you. She did not feel near so much as my father did ;
but she did ten times more than he did. You must labour
to do so much the more, and pray that God would supply


whatever is wanting. One degree of forgiveness is due to
every one, though impenitent ; still I love him as I love all
men. But the other degree, whereby I should again re-
ceive him as a friend, is only due to one who says, " I re-
pent ;" that is, convinces me that he does really repent,
and is entirely changed.

It is certain God has given you a talent, and I still think
it ought to be used. I grant, indeed, to be hid and to be
still is more agreeable to flesh and blood ; but is it more
agreeable to Him " who hath left us an example, that we
might tread in his steps ?"

One cannot be saved from evil tempers without being
devoted to God ; neither can a soul be all devoted to God
without being saved from sin : but it is often exceeding hard
to judge of others, whether they are saved from all evil tem-
pers, and whether they are all devoted to God or not ; yea,
it is hard to judge of ourselves ; nay, we cannot do it, with-
out the anointing of the Holy One given for that very pur-
pose. Out of darkness God will command light to shine.
Be plain and open to all ; then, whether they are sincere
or insincere, you will have a conscience void of ofience.
You find all things work together for good. They must,
while the hairs of your head are all numbered.


Bristol, September 8, 1773.
We have the clearest proof, when we have to do with
children, that " the help which is done upon earth, God
doeth it himself." All our wisdom will not even make them
understand, much less feel, the things of God. The " In-
structions for Children" contain the best matter that we can
possibly teach them. But notliing less than the finger of
God can write it on their hearts. On Saturday night he sent
another shower of grace upon oiu: children at Kingswood.
Sixteen of them were deeply affected, and I think thirteen
found peace with God. Four or five of them were some
of the smallest we had, not above seven or eight years old.


Although there may be some use in teaching very young
children to " say their prayers daily," yet I judge it to be
utterly impossible to teach any to "practise prayer" till they
are awakened. For what is prayer but the desire of the
soul expressed in words to God, either inwardly or out-
wardly? How then will you teach them to express a desire
who feel no desire at all ? When, therefore, Madame Guion
talks in that manner, it often makes me afraid that both she
and her teacher. Archbishop Fenelon, talked by rote of the
things they knew not. Both of them had an amazing ge-
nius, but, I doubt, full little experience. It is exceeding
certain neither his nor her writings are likely to do us any
solid service. We have all the gold that is in them, with-
out the dross ; which is often not only useless, but danger-
ous. Let you and I keep the good old way:

"In doing and bearing the will of our Lord,
We still are preparing to meet our reward."

Go on steadily in this path : there is none better. By
patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and ho-
nour, and immortality. You shall reap, if you faint not.


Bristol, September 29, 1773.
Your own experience may give an answer to your ques-
tion. You did yourself enjoy a foretaste of that constant
communion with God, though it did not continue long. And
you know it was given you in a moment. It was the same
case with all those whom I have known, that are now ena
bled to pray without ceasing. To every one of them that
blessing was given in an instant. So it will be given to
you again ; although, probably, you will find a strong hope
first, which will incite you to cry out, —

" Big with earnest expectation,
See me sit at thy feet,
Longing for salvation."

Grace in one sense will make all things new. And I
tave sometimes known this done to such a degree that



there has been no trace of the natural temper remaining.
But generally the innocent natural temper does remain, —
only refined, softened, and cast into the mould of love.


Novemier 21, 1776.

My Dear Brother, — One of Mr. Fletcher's Checks
considers at large the Calvinistic supposition, "that a natu-
ral man is as dead as a stone;" and shows the utter falseness
and absurdity of it : seeing no man living is without some pre-
venting grace, and every degree of grace is a degree of life.

That, " by the offence of one, judgment came upon all
men" (all born into the world) " unto condemnation," is an
undoubted truth ; and affects every infant, as well as every
adult person. But it is equally true that, " by the righteous-
ness of one, the free gift came upon all men" (all born into
the world, infant or adult) "unto justification." Therefore
no infant ever was, or ever will be, " sent to hell for the
guilt of Adam's sin ;" seeing it is cancelled by the right-
eousness of Christ as soon as they are sent into the world.

Labour on, especially by visiting from house to house,
and you will see the fruit of your labour.


Near Lo7idon, January 13, 1790.
My Dear Brother, — As long as I live, the people shall
have no share in choosing either stewards or leaders among
the Methodists. We have not, and never had, any such,
custom. We are no republicans, and never intend to be.
It would be better for those that are so minded to go quietly
away. I have been uniform both in doctrine and discipline
for above these fifty years ; and it is a little too late for me
to turn into a new path now I am gray-headed. Neither
good old brother Pascoe (God bless him) expects it from
me, nor brother Wood, nor brother Flamank. If you and I
should be called hence this year, we may bless God that we
have not lived in vain. Come, let us have a few more strokes
at Satan's kingdom, and then we shall depart in peace !



Chester, March 17, 1771.
My Dear Betsy, — You have great reason to praise Him

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Online LibraryJohn WesleySelect letters, chiefly on personal religion → online text (page 16 of 18)