John Wesley.

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vvlio has done great things for you already. What you now
want is, to come boldly to the throne of grace, that the hun-
ger and thirst after his full image which God has given you
may be satisfied. Full salvation is nigh, even at the door.
Only believe, and it is yours. It is a great blessing, that,
at your years, you are preserved from seeking happiness
in any creature. You need not, seeing Christ is yours !
O cleave to him with your whole heart !


Athlone, April 14, 1771.
My Dear Betsy, — You may be assured that I am always
well pleased to hear from you ; and that I shall never think
your letters too long. Always tell me whatever is in your
heart ; and the more freely the better. Otherwise it would
be hardly possible to give you the advice you may want
from time to time. As soon as you had your armour on, it
was fit that it should be proved : so God prepared for you
the occasions of fighting, that you might conquer, and might
know both your own weakness and his strength. Each
day will bring just temptation enough, and power enough
to conquer it: and, as one says, "temptations, with distinct
deliverances from them, avail much." The unction of the
Holy One is given to believers for this very end, — to ena-
ble them to distinguish (which otherwise would be impos-
sible) between sin and temptation. And this you will do,
not by any general rule, but by listening to him on all par-
ticular occasions, and by your consulting with those that
have experience in the ways of God. Undoubtedly, both
you, and Philothea, and my dear Miss Perronet, are now
f more particularly called to speak for God. In so doing
you must expect to meet with many things which are not
pleasing to flesh and blood. But all is well. So much


the more will you be conformed to the death of Christ.
Go on in his name, and in the power of his might. Suffer
and conquer all things.


Castlebar, May 31, 1771.
My Dear Betsy, — You judge exceeding right: as yet
you are but a little child, just a babe in the pure love of
Christ. As a little child, hang upon him, and simply ex
pect a supply of all your wants. In this respect reasoning
profits you nothing: indeed, it is just opposite to believing,
whereby you hearken to the inward voice, which says,
" Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." Undoubtedly
it would be a cross to declare what God has done for your
soul : nay, and afterward Satan would accuse you on tho
account, telling you, " You did it out of pride." Yea, and
some of your sisters would blame you, and perhaps put the
same construction upon it. Nevertheless, if you do it with
a single eye, it will be well pleasing to God.


September 14, 1772.
My Dear Lady, — When I received the former lette
from your ladyship, I did not know how to answer ; and 1
judged, not o*ly that silence would be the best answer, but
also that with which your ladyship would be best pleased
When I received your ladyship's of the 2d instant, I imme
diately saw that it required an answer ; only I waited till
the hurry of the conference was over, that I might do no
thing rashly. I know your ladyship would not " servilel}'
deny the truth." I think, neither would I ; especially that
great tnith, — justification by faith ; which Mr. Law indeed
flatly denies, (and yet Mr. Law was a child of God,) but
for which I have given up all my worldly hopes, my friends,
my reputation ; yea, lor which I have so often hazarded my
life, and, by the grace of God, will do again. The princi-
ples established in the Minutes I apprehend to be no way



contrary to this or to that faith, that consistent plan of doc-
trine which was "once delivered to the saints." I believe
whoever calmly considers Mr. Fletcher's Letters will be
convinced of this. I fear, therefore, " zeal against those
principles" is no less than zeal against the truth, and against
the honour of our Lord. The preservation of his honour
appears so sacred to me, and has done for above these forty
years, that I have counted, and do count, all things loss in
comparison of it. But till Mr. Fletcher's printed Letters
are answered, I must think every thing spoken against those
Minutes is totally destructive of his honour, and a palpable
affront to him, both as our prophet and priest, but more
especially as the king of his people. Those Letters, which
therefore could not be suppressed without betraying the
honour of our Lord, largely prove that the Minutes lay no
other foundation than that which is laid in Scripture, and
which I have been laying, and teaching others to lay, for
between thirty and forty years. Indeed, it would be amaz-
ing that God should at this day prosper my labours as much
if not more than ever, by convincing as well as converting
sinners, if I was " establishing anotlier foundation, repug-
nant to the whole plan of man's salvation under the cove-
nant of grace, as well as the clear meaning of our Esta-
blished Church, and all other Protestant churches." This
is a charge indeed ! but I plead, Not guilty. , And till it is
proved upon me I must subscribe myself,
My dear lady,
Your ladyship's affectionate but much injured servant.


Rev. Sir, — When Dr. Bentley published his Greek
Testament, one remarked, " Pity but he would publish the
Old ; then we should have two New Testaments !" It is
done. Those who receive Mr. Hutchinson's emendations
certainly have two New Testaments! But I stumble at the
threshold. Can we believe that God left his whole church
so ignorant of the Scripture till yesterday 1 And if he was


pleased to reveal the sense of it now, to whom may we sup-
pose he would reveal it ? " All Scripture," says Kempis,
" must be understood by the same Spirit whereby it was
written." And a greater than he says, " Them that are
meek will he guide in judgment, and them that are gentle
will he learn his way." But was Mr. Hutchinson emi-
nently meek aud gentle ?

However, in order to learn all I could from his Works,
after first consulting them, I carefully read over Mr. Spear-
man, Mr. Jones's ingenious book, and the Glasgow Abridg-
ment. I read the last with Mr. Thomas Walsh, the best
Hebraean I ever knew. I never asked him the meaning
of a Hebrew word, but he would immediately tell me how
often it occurred in the Bible, and what it meant in each
place ! We then both observed that Mr. Hutchinson's
whole scheme is built upon etymologies ; the most uncer-
tain foundation in the world, and the least to be depended
upon. We observed, secondly, that if the points be allow
ed) all his building sinks at once ; and, thirdly, that, setting
them aside, many of his etymologies are forced and unna-
tural. He frequently, to find the etymology of one word,
squeezes two radices together; a liberty never to be taken
where a word may fairly be derived from a single radix.

But may I hazard a few words on the points ? Mr. H.
affirms that they were invented by the Masorites, only thir-
teen or fourteen hundred years ago, in order to destroy tho
sense of Scripture. I doubt this: who can prove it? Who
can prove they were not as old as Ezra, if not coeval with
the language? Let any one give a fair reading only to what
Dr. Cornelius Bayley has offered in his preface to his He-
brew Grammar, and he will be as sick of reading without
points as I am ; at least till he can answer the doctor's
arguments he will not be so positive upon the question.

As to his theology, I first stumble at his profuse enco-
miums on the Hebrew language. But it may be said, "Is
it not the language which God himself used ?" And is not
Greek too the language which God himself used? And did


he not use it in delivering to man a far more perfect dis-
pensation than that which he deUvered in Hebrew ? Who
can deny it ? And does not even this consideration give us
reason at least to suspect that the Greek language is as far
superior to the Hebrew as the New Testament is to the
Old? And, indeed, if we set prejudice aside, and consider
both with attention and candour, can we help seeing that
the Greek excels the Hebrew as much in beauty and
strength as it does in copiousness? I suppose no one from
the beginning of the world wrote better Hebrew than Moses.
But does not the language of St. Paul excel the language of
Moses as much as the knowledge of St. Paul excelled his ?
I speak this, even on supposition that you read the He-
brew as I believe Ezra, if not Moses, did, with points ; for
if we read it in the modern way, without points, I appeal to
<'.very competent judge whether it be not the most equivocal.


June 28, 1755.

Some days since I received your favour of the 22d inst.,
which came exceeding seasonably ; for I was just revising
my Notes on the fifth chapter to the Romans : one of which
I found, upon a closer inspection, seemed to assert such an
imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity as might make
way for the "horrible decree." I therefore struck it out
immediately ; as I would willingly do whatsoever should
appear to be any way inconsistent with that grand princi-
ple, " The Lord is loving to every man ; and his mercy is
over all his works."

If you have observed any thing in any of the tracts I
have published, which you think is not agreeable to Scrip-
ture and reason, you will oblige me by pointing it out, and
by communicating to me any remarks you have occasion-
ally made. I seek two things in this world, — truth and
love. Whoever assists me in this search is a friend indeed,
whether personally known or unknown to, sir.

Your humble servant.



July 25, 1755.

Sir, — It would be a pleasure to me to write more largely
than my time will now permit. Of all the disputants I have
loiown, you are the most likely to convince me of any mis-
takes I may be in ; because you have found out the great
secret of speaking the truth in love. When it is thus pro-
posed, it must surely win its way into every heart which is
not purposely shut against it.

That you may clearly see wherein we agree, or wherein
we differ, I have sent you the Minutes of some of our late
conferences. Several concessions are made therein, both
with regard to assurance and Christian perfection ; some
difficulties cleared, and a few arguments proposed, though
very nakedly and briefly. When you have read these, you
may come directly to any point of controversy which may
still remain : and if you can show me that any farther con-
cessions are needful, I shall make them with great pleasure.

On the subject of your last, I can but just observe, first,
With regard to the assurance of faith, I apprehend that the
whole Christian church in the first centuries enjoyed it.
For though we have few points of doctrine explicitly taught
in the small remains of the ante-Nicene fathers ; yet I think
none that carefully reads Clemens Romanus, Ignatius,
Polycarp, Origen, or any other of them, can doubt whether
either the writer himself possessed it, or all whom he men-
tions as real Christians. And I really conceive, both from
the " Harmonia Confessiomfm," and whatever else I have
occasionally read, that all the Reformed Churches in
Europe did once believe, " Every true Christian has the
divine evidence of his being in favour with God."

So much for authority. The point of experience is
touched upon in the conferences.

As to the nature of the thing, I think a divine conviction
of pardon is directly implied in the evidence or conviction
of things unseen. But if not, it is no absurdity to suppose


that when God pardons a mourning, broken-hearted sinner,
his mercy obliges him to another act, — to witness to his
spirit that he has pardoned him.

I know that I am accepted ; and yet that knowledge is
sometimes shaken, though not destroyed, by doubt or fear.
If that knowledge were destroyed, or wholly withdrawn, I
could not then say I had Christian faith. To me it appears
the same thing to say, "I know God has accepted me;" or,
" T have a sure trust that God has accepted me."
• I agree with you, that justifying faith cannot be a con-
viction that I am justified ; and that a man who is not
assured that his sins are forgiven, may yet have a kind or
degree of faith^ which distinguishes him, not only from a
devil, but also from a heathen, and on which I may admit
him to the Lord's supper. But still I believe the proper
Christian faith, which purifies the heart, implies such a


February 5, 1756.

Sir, — I was in Cornwall when your last was brought to
the Foundry, and delivered to my brother. When I re-
turned, it was mislaid, and could not be found ; so that I
did not receive it till some months after the date.

You judge right, with regard to the tract enclosed to you.
It was sent to you by mistake, for another that bears the
same name.

Christian perfection, we agree, may stand aside for the
present. The point now to be considered is Christian
faith. This, I apprehend, implies a divine evidence or
conviction of our acceptance. You apprehend it does not.

In debating this (or indeed any) point with you, I lie
under a great disadvantage. First, you know me ; whereas
I do not know you. Secondly, I am a very slow, you seem
to be a very swift, writer. Thirdly, my time is so taken
up, from day to day, and from week to week, that I can
spare very little from my stated employments ; so that I


can neither write so largely, nor so accurately, as I might
otherwise do. All, therefore, which you can expect from
me is, not a close-wrought chain of connected arguments,
but a short sketch of what I should deduce more at large,
if I had more leisure.

I believe the ancient fathers are far from being silent on
our question ; though none, that I know, have treated it
professedly. But I have not leisure to wade through that
sea. Only to the argument from the baptism of heretics I
reply. If any had averred, during that warm controversy,
*' I received a sense of pardon when I was baptized by
such a heretic," those on the other side would in nowise
have believed him, so that the dispute would have remained
as warm as ever. I know this from plain fact. Many have
received a sense of pardon when I baptized them. But
who will believe them when they assert it ? Who will put
any dispute on this issue ?

I know, likewise, that Luther, Melancthon, and many
other (if not all) of the reformers, frequently and strongly
assert that every believer is conscious of his own accept-
ance with God ; and that by a supernatural evidence, which
if any choose to term immediate revelation he may. But
neither have I leisure to re-examine this cloud of witnesses.
Nor, indeed, as you justly observe, would the testimony of
them all, together be sufficient to establish an unscriptural
doctrine. Therefore, after all, we must be detennined by
higher evidence. And herein we are clearly agreed : we
both appeal " to the law and to the testimony." May God
enable us to understand it aright !

But, first, that you may not beat the air by disproving
what I never intended to prove, I will show you as dis-
tinctly as I can, what my sentiments are upon the ques-
tion ; and the rather, because I plainly perceive you do not
yet understand them. You seem to think I allow no de-
grees in grace ; and that I make no distinction between the
full assurance of faith and a low or common measure of it.

Several years ago, some clergymen, and other gentle-


men, with whom we had a free conversation, proposed the
following questions to my brother and me, to which we
gave the answers subjoined : —

"June 25, 1744.

" Question". What is faith ?

" Answer. Faith, in general, is a divine, supernatural
iTisyxoi* of things not seen ; that is, of past, future, or spi-
ritual. It is a spiritual sight of God, and the things of God.
Justifying faith is a divine eXeyxoc that Christ loved me, and
gave himself for me.

" Have all Christians this faith ? And may not a man
have it, and not know it ?

" That all Christians have such a faith as implies a
consciousness of God's love, appears from Rom. viii, 15;
Eph. iv, 32 ; 2 Cor. xiii, 5; Heb. viii, 10; 1 John iv, 10;
V, 1, &c. And that no man can have it, and not know that
he has, appears from the nature of the thing. For faith
after repentance is ease after pain, rest after toil, light after
darkness. It appears also from its immediate fruits ; which
are peace, joy, love, and power over sin.

" Q. Does any one believe any longer than he sees,
loves, obeys God ?

" A. We apprehend not ; seeing God being the very
essence of faith ; love and obedience, the inseparable pro-
perties of it."

''August\ 1745.

" Question. Is an assurance of God's pardoning love
absolutely necessary to our being in his favour ? Or may
there possibly be some exempt cases 1

"Answer. We dare not positively say there are not.

" Q. Is it necessary to final salvation in those (as Pa
pists) who never heard it preached ?

" A. We know not how far invincible ignorance may
excuse. ' Love hopeth all things.'

" Q. But what, if one who does hear it preached should
die without it ?

* Evidence or conviction, — ^^Ed.


" A. We determine nothing. We leave his soul in the
hands of Him that made it.

" Q. Does a man believe any longer than he sees a recon-
ciled God ?

" A. We conceive not. But we allow there may be
very many degrees of seeing God ; even as many as are
between seeing the sun with the eyelids closed, and with
the eyes open."

The doctrine which I espouse till I receive farther light
being thus explained and limited, I observe, —

First. A divine conviction of my being reconciled to
God is, I think, directly implied (not in a divine evidence
or conviction of something else, but) in a divine conviction
that Christ loved me, and gave himself for me ; and still
more clearly in the Spirit's bearing witness with my spirit
that I am a child of God.

Secondly. I see no reason either to retract or soften the
expression, " God's mercy, in some cases, obliges him to
act thus and thus." Certainly, as his own nature obliges
him (in a very clear and sound sense) to act according to
truth and justice in all things ; so, in some sense, his love
obliged him to give his only Son, that whosoever beheveth
in him might not perish. So much for the phrase. My
meaning is, the same compassion which moves God to
pardon a mourning, broken-hearted sinner, moves him to
comfort that mourner by witnessing to his spirit that his
sins are pardoned.

Thirdly. You think "full assurance excludes all doubt."
I think so too. But there may be faith without y)^// assu-
rance. And these lower degrees of faith do not exclude
doubts, which frequently mingle therewith, more or less.
But this you cannot allow. You say it cannot be shaken
without being overthrown ; and trust I shall be " convinced,
upon reflection, that the distinction between shaken and
destroyed is absolutely without a diflierence." Hark ! The
wind rises: the house shakes; but it is not overthrown. It
totters ; but it is not destroyed.



You add, ^^ Assurance is quite a distinct thing from ya«7^.
Neither does it depend upon the same agent. Faith is an
act of my mind ; assurance, an act of the Holy Ghost." T
answer, first, The assurance in question is no other than
the full assurance of faith : therefore it cannot be a distinct
thing from faith ; but only so high a degree of faith as ex-
cludes all doubt and fear. Secondly, This plerophory, or
full assurance, is doubtless wrought in us by the Holy
Ghost. But so is every degi-ee of true faith ; yet the mind
of man is the subject of both. I believe feebly : I believe
without all doubt.

Your next remark is, " The Spirit's witnessing that we
are accepted cannot be the faith whereby we are accepted."
I allow it. A conviction that we are justified cannot be
implied in justifying faith.

You subjoin, "^ sure trust that God hath accepted me
is not the same thing with knowing that God has accepted
me." I think it is the same thing with some degree of that
knowledge. But it matters not whether it be so or no. I
will not contend for a term. I contend only for this, — that
every true Christian believer has " a sure trust and con-
fidence in God that, through the merits of Christ, he is
reconciled to God ;" and that, in consequence of this, he is
able to say, " The life which I now live I live by faith in
the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

It is a very little thing to excuse a warm expression, (if
you need any such excuse.) while I am convinced of your
real good will to, Sir,

Yoiu: servant for Christ's sake.


Near Leeds, Jidy 2, 1772.
Dear Sir, — I have delayed answering your favour from
time to time, hoping for leisure to answer it at large. But
when that leisure will come I cannot tell ; for in the summer
months I am almost continually in motion. So I will delay
no longer, but write a little as I can, though not as I would.


1 incline to think that when you engaged in business,
though you had no leisure for reading polemical writers,
you had leisure to converse with those who ridiculed the
doctrines which you till then believed, and perhaps of hear-
ing a preacher who disbelieved them, and talked largely
against human authority, bodies of divinity, systems of doc-
trine, and compiling of creeds. These declamations would
certainly make an impression upon an unexperienced mind,
especially when confirmed by frequent descants upon the
errors of translators; although I really believe our English
translation, with all its faults, is the best translation of the
Bible now in the world. When you had heard a good deal
of this kind, then was the time to offer you such argimients
as the cause afforded : which, to a mind so prepared, would
naturally appear as so many demonstrations. And it is no
wonder at all that by lending you a few books, and properly
commenting upon them, those new apostles should confirm
you in the sentiments which they had so artfully infused.

To the questions which you propose, I answer, — 1. I
really think that if a hundred or a hundred thousand sin-
cere, honest (I add humble, modest, self-diffident) men
were, with attention and care, to read over the New Tes-
tament, uninfluenced by any but the Holy Spirit, nine in
ten of them at least, if not every one, would discover that
the Son of God was " adorable," and one God with the
Father ; and would be immediately led to " honour him
even as they honoured the Father ;" which would be gross,
undeniable idolatry, unless he and the Father are one.

2. The doctrine of original sin is surely more humbling
to man than the opposite : and I know not what honour we
can pay to God, if we think man came out of his hands in
the condition wherein he is now. I bog of you, sir, to
consider the fact. Give a fair, impartial reading to that
account of mankind in their present state which is con-
tained in the book on original sin. It is no play of ima-
gination, but plain, clear fact. We see it with our eyes,
and hear it with our ears, daily. Heathens, Turks, Jews,


Christians, of every nation, are such men as are there de-
scribed. Such are the tempers, such the manners, of lords,
gentlemen, clergymen, in England, as well as of tradesmen
and the low vulgar. No man in his senses can deny it ;
and none can account for it, but upon the supposition of
original sin.

O sir, how important a thing is this ! Can you refuse to
worship Him whom "all the angels of God worship?" But
if you do worship one that is not the supreme God, you are
an idolater!


Wiiidmill-Hill, October 9, 1773.

Dear Sir, — On Scripture and common sense I build
all my principles. Just so far as it agrees with these I
regard human authority.

God could not command me to worship a creature with-
out contradicting himself; therefore, if a voice from heaven
bade me honour a creature as I honour the Creator, I should
know, this is the voice of Satan, not of God.

The Father and the Son are not " two beings," but
*' one." As he is man, the Father is doubtless " greater

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Online LibraryJohn WesleySelect letters, chiefly on personal religion → online text (page 17 of 18)