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than the Son ;" who, as such, " can do nothing of himself,"
and is no more omniscient than omnipresent. And, as
man, he might well say, "I ascend to my Father and youi
Father," and pray to his Father and his God. He bids his
disciples also to pray to him, but never forbids their pray
ing to himself. I take this to be the plain, obvious, easy
meaning of our Lord's words ; and the only one wherein
they are reconcilable with a hundred passages both of the
Old and New Testament.

With regard to original sin, (I mean the proneness to
evil which is found in every child of man,) you have sup-
posed it in the essays with wliich you favoured me, almost
from the beginning to the end : and you have frequently
asserted it ; although you could not assert it in plainer terms
than the honest, unbiassed heathens have done : Vitiis



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 229

nemo sine nascitur* Hence, Omnes naturd proclives ad
libidinem.] Hence, Dociles imitandis turpibus et pravis
omnes sumus.^

But I believe nothing can set this point in a more clear
and strong light than the tract which I beg you to accept
of.^ Accept, likewise, the best wishes of,

Dear sir,

Your affectionate servant.

CXCV.— TO THE SAME.

December 29, 1773.

Dear Sir, — Upon the head of authority we are quite
agreed. Our guides are Scripture and reason. We agree,
too, that preachers who " relax our obligation to moral
virtues, who decry holiness as filthy rags, who teach men
that easy palatable way to heaven of faith without works,"
cannot easily fail of having a multitude of hearers ; and that
therefore it is no wonder if vast numbers crowd Blackfriars
church and the chapel at the Lock.

There is also too "just a ground for charging the preach-
ers both there and at the Tabernacle with grievous want
of charity." For most of them flatly maintain, all who do
not believe as they believe are in a state of damnation ; all
who do not believe that absolute decree of election which
necessarily infers absolute reprobation.

But none were induced to hear my brother and rae, or
those connected with us, by any such means as these : just
the reverse. We set out upon^two principles: — 1. None
go to heaven without holiness of heart and life. 2. Who-

* This qviotation from Horace is thus translated by Smart : — "No
one is born without vices." — Ed.

t This quotation from Terence is thus rendered by Colman : —

"The mind
Fulls easily from labour to dcHght." — En.
t This quotaiion from Juvenal is thus translated by Gilford : —
" For youth is f.icile, and its yielding will
Receives with fatal ease th' iinj)rint of ill." — Ed.
^ Mr. Fletcher's "Appeal." — Ed.



230 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

soever follows after this (whatever his opinions be) is my
" brother, and sister, and mother." And we have not
swerved a hair's breadth from either one or the other of
these to this day.

Thus it was, that two young men, without a name, with-
out friends, without either power or fortune, " set out from
college with principles totally different from those of the
common people," to oppose all the world, learned and un-
learned ; to " combat popular prejudices" of every kind.
Our first principle directly attacked all the wickedness, our
second, aU the bigotry, in the world. Thus they attempted
a reformation, not of opinions, (feathers, trifles not worth
the naming,) but of men's tempers and lives ; of vice in
every kind ; of every thing contrary to justice, mercy, or
truth. And for this it was, that they carried their lives in
their hands, — that both the great \nilgar and the small
looked upon them as mad dogs, and treated them as such ;
sometimes saying in tenns, " Will nobody knock that mad
dog on the head ?"

Let every one, then, speak as he finds : as for me, I
cannot admire either the wisdom, or virtue, or happiness of
mankind. Wherever I have been, I have found the bulk
of mankind. Christian as well as heathen, deplorably igno-
rant, vicious, and miserable. I am sure they are so in
London and Westminster. Sin and pain are on every side.
And who can account for this, but on the supposition that
we are in a fallen state ? I have proved at large it can no
otherwise be accounted for^ Yet none need perish ; for we
have an almighty Saviour; one who is able and willing to
save to the uttermost all that come unto God through him.

CXCYL— TO MISS BOLTON.

Bandon, May 2, 1771.
My Dear Sister, — I wanted much to know how your
soul prospered. I could not doubt but the god of this world,
the enemy of all righteousness, would use every means to



\



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 231

move you from your steadfastness. Blessed be God, you
are not moved ; that all his labour has been in vain !
Hitherto hath God helped you ; and fear not, he will help
you to the end. He gives you health as a token for good:
he can trust you with it while you give him your heart.
And O stand fast in the glorious liberty wherewith he has
made you free ! You are not called to desire suffering.
Innocent nature is averse from pain ; only, as soon as his
will appears, yours is to sink down before it. Hark! what
does he say to you now ? " Lovest thou me more than
these ?" more than these, —

*' Wealth, honour, pleasure, or what else
This short-enduring world can give]"

Then " feed my lambs ;" carry the little ones in thy bo-
som ; gently lead those that are with young.

Be not weary of well-doing: in due time thou shall reap,
if thou faint not.

CXCVn— TO THE SAME.

London, June 15, 1771.
My Dear Sister, — A letter from you is always wel-
come ; but never more so than now ; as this is the time
wherein it seems good to our Lord to try you as by fire.
Fear nothing ; only believe. He is with you in the fire,
so that the flames shall not kindle upon you. O how will
you praise him by and by, for his wise and gracious visi-
tation! He is purging away all your dross, that you may be
a vessel meet for the Master's use. Happy are they that
do his will ; and happier still they that sufler it. But,
whatever you suffer, cast not away that confidence which
hath great recompense of reward. In order to keep it, do
not reason, but simply look up to Him that loves you. Tell
him, as a little child, all your wants. Look up, and your
suit is made : he hears the cry of your heart. And tell all
that troubles you to

Yours affectionately.



232 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

CXCVIIL— TO THE SAME.

Lynn, November 7, 1771.

My Dear Sister, — At length I have snatched an hour
to repeat to you, in writing, the advices which I gave you
before. 1. Keep that safe which God has given you:
never let sHp any blessing which you have received. Re-
gard none who tell you, *' You must lose it." No ; you
never need lose one degree of love. 2. You never will,
provided you are a careful steward of the manifold gifts of
God. To him that hath, that is, useth what he hath, it
shall be given still, and that more abundantly. Therefore,
3. Use your every grace. Stir up the gift of God that is
in you. Be zealous ! Be active ! Spare no one. Speak
for God, wherever you are. But, meantime, 4. Be hum-
ble : let all that mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus.
And be clothed with humility. Pray that you may always
feel that you are nothing, less than nothing, and vanity.
In this spirit speak and do every thing, giving all the glory
to Him that lives and rules in your heart by faith.

Last night I was reading some advices of a French au-
thor, part of which may be of use to you. Only obser\'e,
he is writing to one that had living faith, but was not per-
fected in love.

"How can I distinguish pride from temptation to pride?
It is extremely difficult to distinguish these, and still more
so to lay down rules for doing it. Our eyes cannot pene-
trate the ground of our hearts. Pride and vanity are natu-
ral to us ; and, for that reason, nothing is more constantly
at hand, nothing less observed, than their effects. The
grand rule is, to sound sincerely the ground of our hearts,
wlie"n we are not in the hurry of temptation : for if, on
inquiry, we find that it loves obscurity and silence ; that it
dreads applause and distinction ; that it esteems the virtue
of others, and excuses their faults with mildness ; that it
easily pardons injuries ; that it fears contempt less and
less i that it sees a falsehood and baseness in pride, and a



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 233

true nobleness and greatness in humility ; that it knows
and rev^eres the inestimable riches of the cross, and the
humiliations of Jesus Christ ; that it fears the lustre of
those virtues which are admired by men, and loves those
that are more secret ; that it draws more comfort even from
its own defects, through the abasement which they occa-
sion ; and that it prefers any degree of compunction before
all the light in the world, — then you may trust that all the
motions you feel tending to pride or vanity, whether they
are sudden, or are thrust against you for some time, are
not sin, but temptation. And then it may be the best to
turn from, and despise them, instead of giving them weight
by fixing your attention upon them."

I want a particular account both of your inward and out-
ward health. Tell me how you are, and what you are
doing.

CXCIX.— TO THE SAME.

London, December 5, 1772.

My Dear Sister, — I know not that ever you asked me
a question which I did not readily answer. I never heard
any one mention any thing concerning you on that account ;
but I myself was jealous over you. Perhaps I shall find
faults in you that others do not; for I survey you on every
side. I mark your every motion and temper ; because I
long for you to be without spot or blemish.

What I have segsn in London occasioned the first caution
I gave you. George Bell, William Green, and many others,
then full of love, were favoured with extraordinary revela-
tions and manifestations from God. But by this very thing
Satan beguiled them from the simplicity that is in Christ.
By insensible degrees they were led to value these extra-
ordinary gifts more than the ordinary grace of God ; and I
could not convinee them that a grain of humble love was
better than all these gifts put together. Tliis, my dear
friend, was what made me fear for you. This makes mo
remind you again and again. Faith and hope are glorious



234 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

gifts, and so is every ray of eternity let into the soul. But
still these are but means : the end of all, and the greatest
of all, is love. May the Lord just now pour it into your
heart as he never has done before.

By all means spend an hour every other day in the
labour of love, even though you cannot help them as you
would. Commending you to Him who is able to make
you perfect in every good word and work, I am

Yours affectionately.

CC— TO THE SAME.

London, July 18, 1773.
My Dear Sister, — Your late conversation was exceed-
ing pleasant to me. I had sometimes been almost inclined
to think that your affection was lessened ; but I now be-
lieve it is not. I trust your love is not grown cold. This
gave me much satisfaction, though I could not but be con-
cerned at seeing you so encumbered with worldly business.
Surely it will not be so always. But God's time is best !
Two or three of those httle things I have sent you : —

" With peaceful mind thy race of duty run :
God nothing does, or suffers to be done,
But what thou wouldst thyself, if thou couldst see
Through all events of things as well as he.

Let thy repentance be without delay :
If thou defer it to another day.
Thou must repent for a day more of sin,
WTiile a day less remains to do it in.

Nor steel nor flint alone produces fire,

•^ Nor spark arises till they both conspire :

Nor faith alone, nor works without, is right •

Salvation rises when they both unite.
v
^ If gold be offer'd thee, thou dost not say,

'To-morrow I will take it, not to-day:'

Salvation offer'd, why art thou so cool

To let thyself become to-morrow's fool 1

Prayer and thanksgiving is the vital breath
That keeps tlie spirit of a man from de^th :



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 235

For prayer attracts into the living soul
The life that fills the universal whole ;
And giving thanks is breathing forth again
The praise of Him who is the life of men.

Two different painters, artists in their way,
Have drawn religion in her full display.
To both she sat : one gazed at her all o'er ;
The other fix'd upon her features more.
Hervey has figured her with every grace
That dress could give; but Law has hit her face.

The specious sermons of a learned man
Are little else than flashes in the pan.
The mere haranguing upon what they call
Morality, is powder without ball :
But he who preaches with a Christian grace
Fires at your vices, and the shot takes place.

Faith, Hope, and Love were question'd what they thought

Of future glory, which Religion taught.

Now Faith believed it firmly to be true,

And Hope expected so to find it too :

Love answer'd, smiling with a conscious glow,

* Believe ! expect ! I know it to be so.' "

Go on in this humble, gentle love, that you may abound
therein more and more. Aim at nothing higher than this :
and may the God of love still possess you whole, and guide
your every thought, and word, and work. Continue to pray

Your affectionate brother.

CCL— TO THE SAME.

London, August 8, 1773.
My Dear Sister, — It gives me much pleasure to ob-
serve that you do not lose your simplicity. You seem not
only to retain simplicity of spirit, (the great thing,) but like-
wise of sentiment and language. God has indeed dealt
very graciously with you from the beginning hitherto. He
has led you tenderly by the hand from grace to grace, and
from faith to faith: and you may well say,

" The mercy I feel to others I show :
I sot to my seal, that Jesus is true,'*



236 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

Go on in his name, and earnestly exhort all that know him
to press forward to the mark. Encourage them to aspire
after full salvation, salvation into the whole image of God.
Beware you do not decline in your zeal for this : let no
prudence hinder you. Let prudence " guide, not cool, its
fire."

*' Still let it for his glory burn
With unextinguishable blaze ;
And trembling to its source return

In flames of love, and joy, and praise."

But I had forgotten that I am in haste. I hope Mr. S •



will be a blessing to many. He is alive to God. This
day I set put for Bristol, and thence to Cornwall ; but I
hope to be at Bristol again on the 28th instant. Life is
short ! We have need to improve every moment ! Adieu !

CCIL-TO THE SAME.

Bristol, September 27, 1777.
My Dear Sister, — Undoubtedly Satan, who well un-
derstands the manner how the mind is influenced by the
body, can, by means of those parts in the animal machine
which are more immediately subservient to thinking, raise
a thousand perceptions and emotions in the mind, so far
as God is pleased to permit. I doubt not but he was the
chief agent in your late painful exercises. And you gave
him advantage by reasoning with him, that is, fighting him
with his own weapons ; instead of simply looking up, and
saying, " Thou shalt answer for me, O Lord my God."
You undoubtedly want more thankfulness ; and you want
more simplicity ; that grace, Cambray says, " which cuts
the soul off" from all unnecessary reflections upon itself."
You are encompassed with ten thousand mercies, and the
greatest of all is,

" Christ in a pure and spotless heart."

Beware of ever admitting any doubt or reasonmg concern-
ing this ! Whereunto you have attained, hold fast ; and use



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 237

all the grace you have received. Warn every one, and
exhort every one, and especially those who groan after full
salvation.

I cannot, on any accoimt, pass a whole day without
commending you to God in prayer.

I thank you for ^vriting to me so soon.

CCIIL— TO THE SAME.

London, January 2, 1781.
My Dear Sister, — It is a great step toward Christian
resignation, to be thoroughly convinced of that great truth,
that there is no such thing as chance in the world ; that
fortune is only another name for providence ; only it is co-
vered providence. An event the cause of which does not
appear, we commonly say, comes by chance. no; it is
guided by an unerring hand; it is the result of infinite
wisdom and goodness. Such are all the afflictive circum-
stances that have followed you in a constant succession,
almost from your childhood. He that made the Captain
of your salvation perfect through sufferings has called you
to walk in the same path, and for the same end ; namely,
that you may learn obedience, more full, inward obedience,
a more perfect conformity to his death by the things that
you suffer. A little while, and " he will wipe all tears
from your eyes ; and there shall be no more sorrow or cry-
ing ; neither shall there be any more pain ;" but you shall
hear the great voice out of heaven, saying, " The taberna-
cle of God is with men ; and God himself shall be with
them, and be their God !"

CCIV.— TO THE SAME.

Bristol, August 31, 1784.

My Dear Sister, — Many years ago, Mr. Hall, then

strong in faith, believed God called him to marry my

youngest sister. He told her so. She fully believed him,

and none could convince one or the other to the contrary.



238 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTER!.

j I talked with her about it ; but she had " so often made it
\ matter of prayer, that she could not be deceived." In a
; week he dropped her, courted her elder sister, and, as soon
as was convenient, married her. The disappointed one then
I found exactly the same temptations that you do now. But
I neither did she keep the devil's counsel. She told me all
that was in her heart ; and the consequence was, that, by
the grace of God, she gained a complete victory. So will
you. And you will be the better enabled, by your own
experience, to guard all, especially young persons, from
laying stress upon any thing but the written word of God.
Guard them against reasoning in that dangerous manner :
" If I was deceived in this, then I was deceived in think-
ing myself justified." Not at all ; although nature, or Sa-
tan in the latter case, admirably well mimicked the works
of God. By mighty prayer repel all those suggestions,
and afterward your faith will be so much the more strength-
ened ; and you will be more than conqueror through Him
that loveth you. Whenever you find yourself pressed above
measure, you must make another little excursion. While
you help others, God will help you. This may be one end
of this uncommon dispensation. You must not bury your
talent in the earth. Wishing you more and more of that

" Lovely, lasting peace of mind,"

I am yours most affectionately.

CCV.— TO THE SAME.

Wcdnesbury, March 28, 1785.
My Dear Sister, — You are in danger of falling into
DOth extremes ; of making light of, as well as fainting under,
his chastening. This you do whenever you look at any
circumstance, without seeing the hand of God in it ; with-
out saying, at the same instant, This unkindness, this
reproach, this returning evil for good, as well as this faint-
ness, this weariness, this pain, is the cup which my Father
hath given me. And shall I not drink it ? Why does he



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 239

give it me ? Only for my profit, that I " may be a partaker
of his hoHness."

I have often found an aptness, both in myself and others,

to connect events that have no real relation to each other.

So one says, " I am as sure this is the will of God as that

\I am justified." Another says, " God as surely spake this

'to my heart as ever he spoke to me at all." This is an

/ exceedingly dangerous way of thinking or speaking. We

know not what it may lead us to. It may sap the very

foundation of our religion. It may insensibly draw us into

Deism or Atheism. My dear Nancy, my sister, my friend,

beware of this ! The grace of God is sufiicient for you !

And whatever clouds may interpose between, his banner

over you is love. Look to yourself that you lose not the

things that you have gained, but that you may receive a

full reward. Adieu !

CCVL—TO THE SAME.

Leeds, August 1, 1789
My Dear Sister, — I thank you for sending me so par-
ticular an account of your sister's death. " Right precious
in the sight of the Lt>rd is the death of his saints !" It is
well you have learned to say, " The Lord gave, and the
Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!"
And you can say it even

" When loss of friends ordain'd to know, —
Next pain and guilt, the sorest ill below."

But why does our Lord inflict this upon us ? Not merely
for his pleasure, but that we may be partakers of his holi-
ness. It is true, one grand means of grace is the doing
\ the will of our Lord. But the sufiering it is usually a
quicker means, and sinks us deeper into the abyss of love.
It hath pleased God to lead you in the way of suflering,
from your youth up until now. For the present this is not
joyous, but grievous ; nevertheless it has yielded peaceable
fruit, i^'our soul is still as a watered garden, as a field



240 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

which the Lord hath blessed. Cleave to him still with
full purpose of heart. To his tender care I commend you.

CCVIL— TO THE SAME.

High-Wycomh, November 4, 1790
My Dear Sister, — The more I consider your case, the
more I am convinced that you are in the school of God, and
that the Lord loveth whom he chasteneth. From the time
you omitted meeting your class or band, you grieved the
Holy Spirit of God, and he gave a commission to Satan to
buffet you : nor will that commission ever be revoked till
you begin to meet again. Why were you not a mother in
Israel ? — a repairer of the waste places ? — a guide to the
bUnd ? — a healer of the sick ? — a lifter up of the hands
which hung down ? Wherever you came, God was with
you, and shone upon your path. Many daughters had done
virtuously; but thou excelledst them all. Woman, remem-
ber the faith ! In the name of God, set out again, and do
, the first works ! I exhort you, for my sake, (who tenderly
I love you,) for God's sake, for the sake of your own soul,
; begin again without delay. The day after you receive this,
go and meet a class or a band. Sick or well, go ! If you
; cannot speak a word, go ; and God will go with you. You
I sink under the sin of omission ! My friend, my sister, go !
\ Go, whether you can or not. Break through ! Take up
fyour cross. I say again, do the first works, and God will
restore your first love !



THE END,



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BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY



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