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John Wesley.

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whatever entertainment I meet with ; and my companions
are always in good humour, '* because they are with me."
This must l)e the spirit of all who take journeys with me.
If a dinner ill dressed, a hard bed, a poor room, a shower
of rain, or a dirty road will put them out of hiunour, it lays



44 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

a burden upon me greater than all the rest put together.
By the grace of God, I never fret. I repine at nothing ;
I am discontented with nothing. And to have persons at
my ear fretting and murmuring at every thing, is like tear-
ing the flesh off my bones. I see God sitting upon his
throne, and ruling all things well. Although, therefore, I
can bear this also, — to hear his government of the world
continually found fault with ; (for in blaming the things
which he alone can alter, we, in effect, blame him ;) yet
it is such a burden to me as I cannot bear without pain ;
and I bless God when it is removed.

The doctrine of a particular providence is what exceed-
ing few persons understand, at least not practically, so as
to apply it to every circumstance of life. This I want, to
see God acting in every thing, and disposing all for his
own glory, and his creature's good. I hope it is your
continual prayer, that you may see him, and love him, and
glorify him with all you are and all you have. Peace be
with you all.

I am, dear sir.

Your affectionate servant.

XV.— TO THE SAME.

Bradford, July 16, 1761.

Dear Sir, — Methinks it is a long time since I saw or
heard any thing of you. I hope, however, that Mrs. Black-
well and you are not only alive, but more alive than ever;
seeking and enjoying something more than King George
is likely to find either at his wedding or his coronation.
And can you likewise give me a comfortable account
of Miss Freeman, both as to her health and her spi-
rit? I often think of her, and sometimes have a mind
to send her another letter, though she is one in my debt
already.

Mr. Venn was so kind as to come over hither yesterday,
and spend the evening with us. I am a little embarrassed



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 4b

on his account, and hardly know how to act. Several
years before he came to Huddcrsfield, some of our preach-
ers went thither, carrying their lives in their hands, and
with great difficulty established a little, earnest society.
These eagerly desire them to preach there still ; not in
opposition to Mr. Venn, (whom they love, esteem, and
constantly attend,) but to supply what ther/ do not find in
his preaching. It is a tender point. Where there is a
gospel ministry already we do not desire to preach ; but
whether we can leave off preaching because such a one
comes after ^ is another question ; especially when those
who were awakened and convinced by us beg and require
the continuance of our assistance. I love peace, and fol-
low it ; but whether I am at liberty to purchase it at such
a price, I really cannot tell.

I hear poor Mr. Walker is near death. It seems strange
that, when there is so great a want of faithful labourers,
such as him should be removed. But the will of God is
always best, and what he does we shall know hereafter! I
have been for some days with Mr. Grimshaw, an Israelite
indeed. A few such as him would make a nation tremble.
He carries fire wherever he goes. Mr. Venn informs me
that Mr. Whitefield continues very weak. I was in hope,
when he wrote to me lately, that he was swiftly recover-
ing strength. Perhaps, sir, you can send me better news
concerning him ? What need have we, while wc do Hyc,
to live in earnest !

XVI.— TO THE SAME.

Liverpool, July 14, 1764.
Dear Sir, — My brother informs me that you have been
so extremely ill that your life was hardly expected. I
really am under apprehensions lest that chariot should cost
you your life. If, after having been accustomed to ride on
horseback for many years, you should now exchange a
horse for a carriage, it cannot be that you should have good



46 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

health. It is a vain thing to expect it. I judge of your
case by my own. I must be on horseback for life, if I
would be healthy. Now and then, indeed, if I could
afford it, I should rest myself for fifty miles in a chaise ;
but without riding near as much as I do now, I must never
look for health.

In the meantime I trust both Mrs. Blackwell and you
are looking for health of a nobler kind. You look to be
filled with the spirit of love and of a healthful mind. What
avails every thing else ? every thing that passes away as
an arrow through the air ?

'* The arrow is flown ! The moment is gone !
The millennial year
Rushes on to the view, and eternity's here !"

You want nothing more of this world. You have enougn,
and, by the peculiar blessing of God, know you have. But
you w^ant a thousand times more faith. You want love ;
you want holiness. The Lord God supply all your wants
from the riches of his mercy in Christ Jesus !



XVII.—TO MISS FURLY, AFTERWARD MRS. DOWNES.

December 22, 1756.
It is a happy thing, if we can learn obedience by the
things which we suffer. Weakness of body, and heavi-
ness of mind, will, I trust, have this good effect upon you
The particular lesson which you have now to learn is, to
be faithful in comparatively little things, particularly in
conversation, God hath given you a tongue: why? That
you may praise him therewith ; that all your conversation
may be, for the time to come, " meet to minister grace to
the hearers." Such conversation and private prayer ex-
ceedingly assist each other. By resolutely persisting,
according to your little strength, in all works of piety and
mercy, you are waiting on God in the old Scriptural way.
And therein he will come and save you. Do not think he



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 47

is afar off. He is nigh that justifieth, that sanctilieth.
Beware you do not thrust him away from you. Rather
say,—

" My heart would now receive thee, Lord :
Come in, my Lord, come in!"

Write as often, and as freely and fully, as you please to
Your affectionate brother and servant.



XVIIL— TO THE SAME.

Bristol, May 18, 1757.
The great point is, to pick out in Bristol, as in all places,
such acquaintance as have a deep fear of God, a continual
consciousness of his presence, and a strong thirst after his
whole image. Such I take most of the leaders of bands
to be, and such are many of the poor in the society ; but
extremely few of the rich or honourable Methodists are of
that number. My dear sister, I have been in pain for you
on their account. When I talked with you last, you could
relish the simplicity of the gospel : you were athirst for all
the mind that was in Christ, and wanted to walk just as he
walked. O let none persuade you, either by example or
advice, to make any, the least, deviation from that good
way. Make no abatement: do not soften the plain, rough
gospel : do not

"Measure back your steps to earth again."

Be not, either inwardly or outwardly, conformed to this
world ; but be a Christian altogether.

Health you shall have, if health be best. And He that
gives it will give a blessing with it ; an increase of spirit-
ual as well as of bodily strength : but it is strength to labour,
not to sit still. And this strength will either increase or
decrease, in the same proportion with your sense of his
love. You may lose this sense either, 1 . By committing
sin ; or, 2. By omitting duty ; or, 3. By giving way to
pride, anger, or any other inward sin ; or, 4. By not



48 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

watching unto prayer ; by yielding to indolence, or spirit-
ual sloth. But it is no more necessary that we should
ever lose it than it is necessary we should omit duty or
commit sin. Mr. Law, therefore, speaking on this head,
betrays deep ignorance both of the Scripture and the inward
work of God. You are more liable to receiA'e hurt from
his late writings than from any others which I know. I
shall write to Sammy this morning. It would not have
been amiss if you had spoken freely to me concerning
him. Why should not you, now you have, in some meu-
sure, broke that natural shyness, speak all that is in your
heart to,

Dear Miss Furly,
Your truly affectionate friend and brother.



XIX.— TO THE SAME.

Newcasflc'UV07i-Ti/nc, June 14, 1757.
You have reason to praise God for what he has done,
and to expect all that he has promised. Indeed, if it were
required that you should work this in yourself, your impo-
tence might be a bar to your expectations ; and so might
your unworthiness, if God required any merit of yours, in
order to his working in you. But what impotence in you
can be a bar to the almighty power of God ? And what
unworthiness can hinder the free love of God? his love in
and through Christ Jesus ? So that all the promises lie fair

. before you. The land flowing with milk and honey, the
Canaan of his perfect love, is open. Believe, and enter in!

\ It is an observation of one of the ancients, that it is far
easier not to desire praise than not to be pleased with it.
A bare conviction that it is, generally speaking, deadly
poison, may prevent our desiring it; but nothing less than
humble love filling the heart will prevent our being pleased
M'ith it ; for the sense of honour is as natural to man as the
sense of tasting or feeling. But when that which is spi-



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 49

ritual is fully come, this which is corrupt naturally shall
be done away.

Whatever enemies you have, it is enough that you have
a Friend who is mightier than them all. let him reign
in your heart alone !

XX.— TO THE SAME.

June 18, 1757.

I AM the more jealous over you, because I know you
are liable to be much influenced by fair words, especially
when they are spoken by persons of sense, and in ,an
agreeable manner. And flesh and blood are powerful
advocates for conformity to the world, particularly in little
things. But, blessed be God, we have an unction from
the Holy One, ready to teach us of all things. O let us
attend to this inward teachings which indeed is always
consonant with the word. Then the word, applied by the
Spirit, shall be a light in all our ways, and a lamp in all
our paths.

Fight on, and conquer! Change of place, as you observe,
is but a little thing. But God has, in some measure,
changed your heart, wherein you have great reason to
rejoice. And, having received the first-fruits of the Spi-
rit, righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,
patiently and earnestly wait for the great change, whereby
every root of bitterness may be torn up.

You may profitably converse with even those honour-
able Christians, if you watch and pray that they do not
infect you, 1. With mystical notions, which stand in full
opposition to plain old Bible divinity ; or, 2. With their
odd, senseless jargon of a catholic spirit, whereby they
have themselves sufiered great loss. The spirit of the
world, I think, you arc aware of already; and indeed there
is danger in every approach to it.

I have heard from both Mrs. Gaussen and Miss Bosan-
quet. There is a poor, queer old woman in Bristol (if she

3



A,



50 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

is not gone to paradise) with whom it might do you good
to talk. John Jones knows her. Her name is Elizabeth
Edgecomb. Peace be with your spirit.



XXI.— TO THE SAME.

York, July 1, 1757.

Dear Miss Furly, — I cannot write to you now so fully
as I would ; but I must send a few lines. Mere tempta-
tion certainly does not weaken, without yielding to tempta-
tion. Yet a heaviness and soreness may remain upon the
spirit till there is a fresh discovery of the love of God.

A jealous fear of offending God is good. But what
have you to do with any other fear ? Let love cast it all
out, and at the same time make you tenfold more afraid
of doing any thing, small or great, which you cannot offer
up as a holy sacrifice, acceptable to God through Jesus
Christ.

All who are without this fear (and much more all who
call it legal — who revile the precious gift of God, and
think it a hinderance to " the growing up in Christ") are
Antinomians in the inmost soul. Come not into their
secret, my dear Miss Furly ; but pray for more and more
of that " legal spirit," and you will more and more rejoice

Your affectionate servant.

XXII.— TO THE SAME.

Tremeneare, September 6, 1757.
Why you should be afraid on account of any thing you
said to me, I do not know. Certainly if you had said
whatever was in your heart, it might have been a means
of lessening your burden, and not of increasing it. I be-
lieve you have often a desire, and almost a resolution, of
saying a gxeat deal to me ; but when you come to write
or speak, your heart fails. Why should it ? Why should
you repress yourself? I should not despise, but love you



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 51

for your openness. It is the fruit and the proof of an
honest heart. I know you are weak ; I know a little of \
your particular weaknesses. But so much the more am I •
concerned for you, as a tender, sickly flower. Away then
with this reserve : it answers no end, but to trouble and
embarrass you. Tell me, freely and plainly, any difficulty
you meet with ; any enemy against whom you want help.
Use me as a friend, as I hope you will use sister Crosby,
and you will find it a blessing to your soul. It will again
bring the promise of holiness near ^ which indeed always
seems to be far off when we give way to any known sin ;
when we any way grieve the Spirit of God. There may
be some rare cases wherein God has determined not to
b€stow his perfect love till a little before death ; but this
I believe is uncommon : he does not usually put off the
fiillilling of his promises. Seek, and you shall find; seek
earnestly, and you shall find speedily. Lift up the hands
that hang down ; deny yourself ; tak« up your cross, whe-
ther that of meeting your class, or any other. Fight on,
and victory is at hand !

XXni.-TO THE SAME.

St. Austle, Cornwall, Scptemler 25, 1757.

My Dear Sist£r, — It is a rule with me to take nothing
ill that is well meant : therefore you have no need ever to
be afraid of my putting an ill construction on any thing
you say; for I know you mean only to save your soul. In
most genteel religious people there is so strange a mix-
ture that I have seldom much confidence in them. I love
the poor ; in many of them I find pure, genuine grace,
unmixed with paint, folly, and affectation. But I think
Mrs. Gaussen is upright of heart, and perhaps you may find
one or two gentlewomen like her.

It is plain God sees it best for you frequently to walk
in a thorny path. By this means he aims at destroying
your pride of heart, and breaking your stubborn will. You



52 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

have had large experience that there is no substantial or
lasting happiness but in him, O be true to yourself, and
to your own experience ! Do not seek it where it cannot
be found. Hew out to yourself no more broken cisterns ;
but let all the springs of your happiness be in him.

You cannot be too careful to keep out of the way of
any thing that has been the occasion of sin. And it is
very possible to show civility and moderate respect to any
person, without coming in the way of danger. All pri-
vate conversation may be avoided, and ought to be, at all
hazards. Do not run yourself into temptation ; and God
will deliver you from evil.

Nature and the devil will always oppose private prayer;
but it is worth while to break through. That it is a cross
will not hinder its being a blessing ; nay, often the more
reluctance, the greater blessing.

1 think it was not you who advised poor Sam to be a
mere regular clergyman, unconnected with the Methodists.
Certainly this is the best way to preferment ; but it is not
the best way to heaven, or to do good upon earth. When
it is too late, the awakened clergy will probably see this.

XXIV.— TO THE SAME.

Bristol, October 21, 17.57.

My Dear Sister, — God will do his own work in his
own manner, and exceeding variously in different persons.
It matters not whether it be wrought in a more pleasing
or painful manner, so it is wrought ; so nature is subdued,
pride and self-will dethroned, and the will of God done in
us and by us. Therefore trouble not yourself about the
experience of others. God knows you, and let him do
with you as he sees best.

I judge your late distress to be partly the effect of dis-
ease, but chiefly preternatural. In the third Journal there
is a case nearly parallel ; only the symptoms were more
severe. For, in a moment, Lucretia Smith felt such a



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 63

cloud spread over her that she could not believe there was
a God, or an after state. You did right to pray, as you
could pray; and this is the best method which can be
taken in heaviness or darkness of any kind. Then, if sin
be the cause, it will be discovered. But take care that
you do not refuse any help ; even rough speakers may be
of service. Only spread what they say before the Lord,
and he will turn it to good.

XXV.— TO THE SAME.

Lewiskam, Fchimry 9, 1758.
Undoubtedly you may arise now, and receive power
from on high. You are hindered chiefly by not under-
standing the freeness of the gift of God. You are perpe-
tually seeking for something in yourself to move him to
love and bless you. But it is not to be found there ; it is
in himself, and in the Son of his love. He did then give
you a proof of this in that fresh evidence of pardon ; and
he is ready to give it you again to-day ; for he is not weary
of well-doing. But even after this, you may or you may
not use the power which attends that peace. And if you
ask for more power, it shall be given you ; for you have
an Advocate with the Father. O cast yourself upon him ;
learn more of that lesson, —

" Thy salvation to obtain,
Out of myself I go :
Freely thou must heal my pain,
Thy unbought mercy show."

How much of it may you find in this hour ! Look up, and
see redemption near !

XXVI.— TO THE SAME.

Duhlin, April 13, 1758.
But if you find such a surprising alteration at Bonner's
Hall, what need have you of removing to Bristol ? Per-



54 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

haps a lodging there might answer the purpose of heahh
full as well as one at Clifton ; and the purpose of religion
considerably better. There are few in that neighbourhood
from whom I should hope you would receive much profit,
except Sarah Ryan. If she abides in her integrit}-, she is
a jewel indeed ; one whose equal I have not yet found in
England.

You ought not to drink much tea ; and none Avithout
pretty much cream (not milk) and sugar. But I believe,
were you to drink nettle-tea for a few mornings, it would
do you more good than any other. It seems best for you
to have frequent returns of weakness ; it may be needful
to fix seriousness upon your spirit, by a lasting impression
that there is but one step between you and eternity. But
sickness alone will not do this ; no, nor even the near ap-
proach of death. Unless the Spirit of God sanctify both,
a man may laugh and trifle with his last breath.

You will overcome trifling conversation, and the fear of
man, not by yielding, but by fighting. This is a cross
which you cannot be excused from taking up : bear it, and
it will bear you. By prayer you will receive power so to
do — to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ. But it is more
difficult to resist hurtful desire : I am most afraid you
should give way to this. Herein you have need of all the
power of God. O stand fast ! Look up, and receive strength !
I shall be glad to hear that you are more than conqueror,
and that you daily grow in the vital knowledge of Christ.
Peace be with your spirit.

XXVII.— TO THE SA]ME.

December 28, 17.58.

My Dear Sister, — I thought it long since I heard from
you ; but I imputed it to yoiu- illness. And I did not desire
you should do any thing which would put you to pain, or
increase your bodily weakness.

When you seemed confident of receiving the promise in



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 55

a few days, I did not judge it needful to say any thing to
the contrary ; both because I was persuaded that expecta-
tion would be a quickening to your soul, and because I
knew you had one near you who was able to advise you
in any emergency. See that your desires do not cool, and
you shall not be ashamed of this confident expectation.
So long as it is tempered with resignation, it can do you
no disservice. And what else is there worthy of a desire ?
Health you shall have, if health be best, even bodily health.
But what is that in comparison of a healthful mind ? And
this you are sure to have.

I scruple S. R.'s drinking tar-water, because it is so ex-
tremely nauseous. Neither will it generally profit, unless
stewed prunes be taken every second or third night instead
of it. I rather wish she would resume the medicine I
formerly prescribed; only taking care not to catch cold
with it.



XXVIII.-TO THE SAME.

Norwich, March 6, 1759.

My Dear Sister, — I shall always be glad to hear from
you, when you can write without hurting yourself. But I
am almost afraid to write, for fear of tempting you to an-
swer whether you can or not.

Since you left Kingswood, I hope you use the water at
the Hot-Wells as often as possible. If any thing medicinal
profit you, probably it will be this. But perhaps God will
not suffer you to be healed by outward medicines. It
may be, he is determined to have all the glory of his own
work. Meantime, he designs, by this weakness of body,
to keep your soul low, as a weaned child. There is a
wonderful mystery in the manner and circumstances of
that mighty working, whereby he subdues all things to
himself, and leaves nothing in the heart but his pure love
alone.



(



56 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

I have no doubt but God will give you the answer to
that prayer, — ■•

*' Let me thy witness live,
When sin is all destroy'd !
And then my spotless soul receive,
And take me home to God !"



XXIX.— TO THE SAME.

London, August 19, 1759.

Mv Dear Sister, — ^The observing that rule might pre-
vent abundance of mischief: I wish others would observe
it as well as you. Thomas Walsh was a good and a wise
man ; yet there were some circumstances not commonly
known, which easily accoimt for the darkness he went
through before he went to paradise.

I hope you have talked with Cornelius Bastable, as well
as heard him preach. He is an uncommon monument of
the power of grace ; strengthening the understanding, as
well as renewing the heart. For, so weak a head, and so
bad a temper, as he once had, I do not know among all
our preachers.

Probably the difference between you and others lies in
words chiefly. All who expect to be sanctified at all, ex-
pect to be sanctified by faith. -But, meantime, they know
that faith will not be given but to them that obey. Re-
motely, therefore, the blessing depends on our works ; al-
though immediately, on simple faith.

Enjoy, while you may, the advantage which I had once,
and shall have again, when God sees best.

XXX.—TO THE SAME.

Athlone, June 1, 1760.
My Dear Sister, — I am persuaded it is not a little
thing which will make me angry at you. I hope your
thinking evil of me would not ; for you may have many-
reasons so to do.



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 57

Try : perhaps by prayer and a little resolution you may
avoid hearing those disputes about holiness. It implies
no more than this : if John Jones, or any other, begins a
discourse concerning the errors or sins of absent persons,
tell him., " I beg you would say no more on this head : I
dare not, and I will not hear, unless those persons were
present." If one begins any caution of that kind, stop him,
only with mildness and good humour. Say, " I believe
you speak out of kindness, but I must not hear ; it both
distresses and hurts my soul : therefore if you really wish
my welfare be silent, or let us call another cause." Where
you see good you may add, " I consulted Mr. Wesley on
this head ; and this was the advice he gave me."

No one ever " walked in the light as God is in the
light," (I mean, in the full sense of the expression,) till
"the blood of Jesus Christ had cleansed him from all sin."
" If we are perfectly saved, it is through his blood." This
is the plain meaning of the text : and it may be fulfilled in y*
you before you sleep. God is sovereign, in sanctifying
as well as justifying. He will act when, as well as
how, he pleases ; and none can say unto him, What doest
thou?

When the lungs are ulcerated, cold bathing not only
does no hurt, but is the most probable cure. Sammy is a


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Online LibraryJohn WesleySelect letters, chiefly on personal religion → online text (page 4 of 18)