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letter in my debt. I do not know but he is providentially
called to this kingdom. I have now finished more than
half my progress,* having gone through two of the four
provinces. Who knows whether I shall live to go through
the other two ? It matters not how long we live, but how
well.



XXXI.— TO THE SAME.

Norwich, January 18, 1761.
My Dear Sister, — I have sometimes wondered that
not one of all the clergymen we have known should ever
cleave to me for God's sake ; nor one man of learning,

3*



58 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

which would ease me exceedingly. Tommy Walsh de
signed it, —

*' But death had quicker wings than love."

Perhaps it was not best, because I am so immeasurably
' apt to pour out all my soul into any that love me.

It is well for sister Clarke that she is landed safe. And
it is well for us, who are still amid the waves, that He is
with us whom the winds and the seas obey. He is steer-
ing you to the haven where you would be. You may well
trust your soul with him, and let him do with you as seem-
eth him good.

Certainly nothing can be of greater importance than the
behaviour both of those who are renewed, and of those
who are known to be pressing after it. You have need to
weigh every step you take. When and where do you
meet now ? And who are they that meet ? Pray send the
enclosed to your neighbour, and let all of you love and
pray for

Your affectionate brother.



XXXIL— TO THE SAME.

St. Ives, September 15, 1762.

My Dear Sister, — Whereunto you have attained, hold
fast. But expect that greater things are at hand, although
our friend talks as if you were not to elxpect them till the
article of death.

Certainly sanctification (in the proper sense) is " an
instantaneous deliverance from all sin ;" and includes '■^ an
instantaneous power then given, always to cleave to God.'
Yet this sanctification (at least, in the lower degrees) does
not include a power never to think a useless thought, nor
ever speak a useless word. I myself believe that such a
perfection is inconsistent with living in a corruptible body:
for this makes it impossible " always to think right."
^*'hile we breathe we shall, more or less, mistake. If



r



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 59

therefore, Christian perfection implies this, we must not
expect it till after death.

I want you to be all love. This is the perfection I be-
lieve and teach. And this perfection is consistent with a
thousand nervous disorders, which that high-strained per-
fection is not. Indeed, my judgment is, that (in this case
particularly) to overdo is to undo ; and that to set perfec-
tion too high (so high as no man that we ever heard or
read of attained) is the most effectual (because unsuspect-
ed) way of driving it out of the world.

Take care you are not hurt by any thing in the
" Short Hymns" contrary to the doctrines you have long
received. Peace be with your spirit I

XXXm.— TO THE SAME.

London, July 16, 1763.
My Dear Sister, — 1. So far as I know what will
make me most holy and most useful, I know what is the
will of God.

2. Certainly it is possible for persons to be as devoted
to God in a married as in a single state.

3. I believe John Downes is thoroughly desirous of
being wholly devoted to God ; and that, if you alter your
condition at all, you cannot choose a more proper person.

XXXIV.— TO THE SAME.

Lcimsham, December 15,1763.

My Dear Sister, — It has seemed to me, for some
time, that God will not suffer Cornelius Bastable to live
at Cork. He may starve there, but he cannot live. The
people are not worthy of him.

Salvation from sin is a deeper and higher work than
either you or Sarah Ryan can conceive. But do not ima-
gine (as we are continually prone to do) that it lies in an
indivisible point. You experienced a taste of it when you



60 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

were justified: you since experienced the thing itself, only
in a low degree ; and God gave you his Spirit, that you
might know the things which he had freely given you
Hold fast the beginning of your confidence steadfast unto
the end. You are continually apt to throw away what you
have for what you want. However, you are right in look-
ing for a farther instantaneous change, as well as a con-
stant gradual one. But it is not good for you to be quite
alone ; you should converse frequently, as well as freely,
with Miss Johnson, and any other that is much alive. You
have great need of this.

XXXV.— TO THE SAME.

Edinburgh, May 28, 1764.

My Dear Sister, — Certainly it would be right to spend
some time in setting down both the outward providences
of God, and the inward leadings and workings of his Spirit,
as far as you can remember them. But observe withal, you
are called to be a good steward of the mammon of unright-
eousness. You must therefore think of this too in its place ;
only without anxiety. Otherwise, that neglect of your call-
ing will hinder the work of God in your heart. You are
not serving mammon by this, but serving Christ ; it is part
of the task which he has assigned you. Yet it is true your
heart is to be free all the time ; and see that you stand fast
in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free.

I thought your name had been altered before now. In
a new station you will have need of new watchfulness.
Still redeem the time ; be steadily serious ; and follow
your own conscience in all things.

XXXVI.— TO THE SAME.

London, August 2, 1776.
My Dear Sister, — I know not that you differ from me
at all. You are certainly in your place at present ; and it



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 61

seems one providential reason of your ill health was, to
drive you thither. Now use all the ability which God giveth,
and he will give more : unto him that hath shall be given,
and he shall have more abundantly; it is the hand of the
diligent that maketh rich. If you can persuade honest
Alice Brammah to be cleanly as well as gentle, she will
be tenfold more useful ; and so will Billy Brammah, if he
will be teachable and advisable ; otherwise there is a fly
in the pot of ointment. You are sent to Leeds chiefly for
the sake of those that enjoy, or thirst after, perfect love.
Redeem the time ! Go on in His name ! And let the world
and the devil fall under your feet !

XXXVII.— TO MRS. SARAH RYAN.*

Newbury, November 8, 1757.
Mv Dear Sister, — In the hurry of business I had not
time to write down what you desired, — the rules of our
family. So I snatch a few minutes to do it now ; and the
more cheerfully, because I know you wiU observe them.

1. The family rises, part at four, part at half an hour
after.

2. They breakfast at seven, dine at twelve, and sup at
six.

3. They spend the hour from five to six in the evening
(after a little joint prayer) in private.

4. They pray together at nine, and then retire to their
chambers ; so that all are in bed before ten.

5. They observe all Fridays in the year as days of fast-
ing, or abstinence.

You, in particular, I advise, — Suflfer no impertinent visiu
ant, no unprofitable conversation, in the house. It is a city
set upon a hill ; and all that is in it should be " holiness
to the Lord."

On what a pinnacle do you stand ! You are placed in

* Mr. Wesley's housekeeper at Bristol. — ^Ed.



62 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

the eye of all ihe world, friends and enemies. You have
no experience of these things ; no knowledge of the people ;
no advantages of education ; not large natural abiUties ; and
are but a novice, as it were, in the ways of God ! It requires
all the omnipotent love of God to preserve you in your pre-
sent station. Stand fast in the Lord, and in the power of
his might ! Show that nothing is too hard for him. Take
to thee the whole armour of God ; and do and suffer all
things through Christ strengthening thee. If you continue
teachable and advisable, I know nothing that shall be able
to hurt you.

XXXVIII.— TO THE SAME.

Norwich, November 22, 1757.

My Dear Sister, — May the peace and love of God
spring up in your heart, as in time past, and more abun
dantly ! You have refreshed my bowels in the Lord : I feel
your words, and praise God on your behalf. I not only ex
cuse but love your simplicity ; and whatever freedom you
use, it will be welcome.

Surely God will never suffer me to be ashamed of my
confidence in you. I have been censured for it by some
of your nearest friends ; but I cannot repent of it. Will not
- you put forth all your strength, (which indeed is not yours ;
it is the Spirit of the Father which now worketh in you,)
1. In managing all things pertaining to the house, so as to
adorn the gospel of God our Saviour? 2. In feeding the
sheep he has committed to your immediate care, and car-
rying the weak and sickly in your bosom ? 3. In assisting,
quickening, and directing the family at Kingswood, whom
I trust you will always bear upon your heart ? 4. In re-
proving, stirring up, or confirming all whom the providence
of God shall put into your hands ? And, lastly, in watching
over, and helping forward in the ways of God, one who has
more need of help than all the rest ; and who is always
willing to receive it from you, because you always speak
the truth in love I



weslSy's select letters. 63

Do you find no interruption or abatement at any time of
your joy in the Lord ? Do you continually see God ; and
that without any cloud, or darkness, or mist between ? Do
you pray without ceasing, without ever being diverted from
it by any thing inward or outward ? Are you never hinder-
ed by any person or thing ? by the power or subtlety of
Satan, or by the weakness or disorders of the body, press-
ing down the soul ? Can you be thankful for every thing
without exception ? And do you feej all working together
for good ? Do you do nothing, great or small, merely to
please yourself? Do you feel no touch of any desire or
affection but what springs from the pure love of God ? Do
you speak no words but from a principle of love, and un-
der the guidance of his Spirit ? O how I long to find you
unblameable in all things, and holy as He that hath called
you is holy !

XXXIX.— TO MR. JOSEPH COWNLEY.

Dublin, April 12, 1750.
My Dear Brother, — I doubt you are in a great deal
more dano^er from honour than from dishonour. So it is

o

with me. I always find there is most hazard in sailing
upon smooth water. When the winds blow, and the seas
rage, even the sleepers will rise and call upon God.

From Newcastle to London, and from London to Bris-
tol, God is everywhere reviving his work. I find it so
now in Dublin, although there has been great imprudence
in some, wherel>y grievous wolves have lately crept in
among us, not sparing the flock ; by whom some souls
have been utterly destroyed, and others wounded who are
not yet recovered. Those who ought to have stood in the
gap did not ; but I trust they will be wiser for the time to
come. After a season I think it will be highly expedient
for you to labour in Ireland again. Mr. Lunell has been
on the brink of the grave by a fever. Yesterday we had
hopes of his recovery. I see a danger vou are in, which



/



64 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

perhaps you do not see yourself. Is it not most pleasing
to me, as well as you, to be always preaching of the love of
God ? And is there not a time when we are peculiarly led
thereto, and find a peculiar blessing therein? Without doubt
so it is. But yet it would be utterly "wrong and unscriptural
to preach of nothing else. Let the law always prepare for
the gospel. I scarce ever spoke more earnestly here of
the love of God in Christ than last niffht : but it was after
I had been tearing the unawakened in pieces. Go thou
and do likewise. It is true, the love of God in Christ
alone feeds his children ; but even they are to be guided
as well as fed ; yea, and often physicked too : and the bulk
of our hearers must be purged before they are fed ; else
we only feed the disease. Beware of all honey. It is
^ the best extreme ; but it is an extreme.

XL.— TO THE SAME.

LondoTi., Jannary 10, 1756.
My Dear Brother, — I have no objection to any thing
but the blister. If it does good, well. But if I had been
at Cork, all the physicians in Ireland should not have put
it upon your head. Remember poor Bishop Pearson. An
apothecary, to cure a pain in his head, covered it with a
large blister. In an hour he cried out, " O my head, my
head !" and was a fool ever after to the day of his death.
I believe cooling things (if any thing under heaven) would
remove that violent irritation of your nerves Avhich proba-
bly occasions the pain. Moderate riding may be of use ;
4^- I believe of more than the blister : only do not take more
labour upon you than you can bear. Do as much as you
can, and no more. Let us make use of the present time.
Every day is of importance. We know not how few days
of peace remain. We join in love to you and yours.
I am, dear Joseph,

Your aflectionatc friend and brother.



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 65



XLI.— TO MISS



February 21, 1759.

Probably, Miss , this may be the last trouble of

the kind which you will receive from me. Therefore you
may forgive me this ; and the rather, when you consider
my motives to it. You know I can have no temporal view ;
I can have none but a faint, distant hope (because with God
all things are possible) of doing some service to one whom
I love. And this may answer the question which you
might naturally ask, " What would you have ? What do you
want with me ?" I want you, not to be a convert to my
opinions, but to be a member of Christ, a child of God, and
an heir of his kingdom. Be any thing, as to outward pro-
fession, so you are lowly in heart ; so you resist and con-
quer ever>^ motion of pride, and have that mind in you
which was also in Christ Jesus. Be what you please be-
sides ; only be meek and gentle, and in patience possess
your soul ; so that one may truly say to you, —

" Calm thou ever art within,
All unruffled, all serene."

Hear what preacher you will ; but hear the voice of God,
and beware of prejudice and every unkind temper : be-
ware of foolish and hurtful desires, or they will pierce you
through with many sorrows. In one word, be any thing
but a triller, a tritler with God and your own soul. It was
not for this that God gave you

"A mind superior to the vulgar herd."

No, Miss , no ! but that you might employ all your

talents to the glory of him that gave them. O do not grieve
the Holy Spirit of God ! Is he not still striving with you ?
striving to make you, not almost, but altogether, a Chris-
tian? Indeed you must be all. or nothing; a saint or a devil,
eminent in sin or holiness ! The good Lord deliver you
from every snare, and guide your feet in the way of peace!



66 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

How great a pleasure would this give to all your real
friends, and in particular to

Your affectionate servant for Christ's sake.



XLII.— TO THE SAME.

Colchester, March 20, 175&.

My wife, Miss , surprised me last night by-
informing me you are left mistress of a large fortune.
Shall I say, agreeably surprised me ? I cannot tell, be-
cause I believe there is another world ; and I do not know
what influence this change may have on your condition.
Therefore I am in fear and in hope. You may be hereby
far more happy, or far more miserable, in eternity! O
make a stand ! Consider the situation you are in : perhaps
never before were you in so great danger. You know a
little of your natural tempers : now you have means of
indulging, and thereby inflaming them to the uttermost.
And how many will incite you so to do ! How few will
dare to wain you against it! Now what food will you have
for pride ! what infinite temptations to think more highl}'
than you oaght to think ! You do so already. But O where
will you ^top? The good Lord arrest the storm in mid
career! How impetuously now, unless God interpose, must
self-will whirl you along ! How deeply, unless he help,
will you shortly be immersed in practical atheism! as ten
thousand things will concur to drive God out of your
thoughts, as much as if he were not in the world. But,
above all, how will you escape from being swallowed up
in idolatry 1 love of the world, such as you never knew
before ?

Hitherto you have been greatly superior to every deli-
cacy in food : but even this may assault you now ; and
perhaps raise in you other desires which you are now a
stranger to. At present, you are above the follies of dress ?
but will you be so a twelvemonth hence ? May you not
easily slide into the pride of life, in this as well as other



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 67

instances ? especially considering how your vanity will be
gratified thereby? For who will not admire and applaud
your admirable taste ? It will only remain for you to marry
some agreeable person, that has much wit and sense, with
little or no religion ; then it is finished ! Either you will
be throughly miserable in this world, or miserable to eter-
nity.

" But what business is this of yours ? Cannot you let
me alone ? What have I to do with you ?" Believe me, I
could very easily let you alone, if I had not a real and ten-
der good-will toward you ; and if I did not know (what
perhaps you do not) that you have need even of me. You
want friends who understand you well, and who dare tell
you the whole, plain truth ; and yet not in a surly, impe-
rious manner ; for then you could not receive it. I have
endeavomred to do this once more. Will not you forgive
me 1 I cannot but think, if you do not thank, you will at
least excuse,

Your affectionate servant.



XLIII.— TO MISS II-



Duhlin, April 5, 1758.

It is with great reluctance that I at length begin to
write: first, because I abhor disputing, and never enter
upon it but when I am, as it were, dragged into it by the
hair of the head ; and, next, because I have so little hope
that any good will arise from the present dispute. I fear
your passions are too deeply interested in the question to
admit the force of the strongest reason. So that, were it
not for the tender regard I have for you, which makes your
desire a motive I cannot resist, I should not spend half an
hour in so thankless a labour, and one wherein I have so
little prospect of success.

"The doctrine of perfection," you say, "has perplexed
you much, since some of our preachers have placed it in
so dreadful a light ; one of them afiirming, ' A behever, till



68 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

perfect, is under the curse of God, and in a state of dam-
nation :' another, ' If you die before you have attained it,
you will surely perish.' "

By perfection, I mean, perfect love, or the loving God
with all our heart, so as to rejoice evermore, to pray with-
out ceasing, and in every thing to give thanks. I am con-
vinced every believer may attain this ; yet I do not say, he
is in a state of damnation, or under the curse of God, till
he does attain. No, he is in a state of grace, and in favour
with God, as long as he believes. Neither would I say,
" If you die without it, you will perish ;" but rather. Till
you are saved from unholy tempers you are not ripe for
glory. There will therefore more promises be fulfilled in
your soul, before God takes you to himself.

" But none can attain perfection, unless they first believe
it attainable." Neither do I affirm this. I know a Calvinist
in London, who never believed it attainable tiU the moment
she did attain it ; and then lay declaring it aloud for many
days, till her spirit returned to God.

" But you yourself beheved, twenty years ago, that we
should not put off the infection of nature, but with our bo-
dies." I did so. But I believe otherwise now, for many
reasons, some of which you afterward mention. How far
Mr. Roquet or Mr. Walsh may have mistaken these, I know
not : I can only answer for myself.

" The nature and fitness of things" is so ambiguous an
expression, that I never make use of it. Yet if you ask me,
"Is it fit or necessary, in the nature of things, that a soul
should be saved from all sin before it enters into glory?"
I answer. It is. And so it is written, " No imclean thing
shall enter into it." Therefore, whatever degrees of holi-
ness they did, or did not, attain, in the preceding parts of
life, neither Jews nor heathens, any more than Christians,
ever did, or ever will, enter into the New Jerusalem, unless
they are cleansed from all sin before they enter into eternity.

I do by no means exclude the Old Testament from bear-
ing witness to any truths of God, Nothing less ; but I say.



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 69

the experience of the Jews is not the standard of Christian
experience ; and that therefore, were it true, the Jews did
not love God with all their heart and soul, it would not
follow, therefore, no Christian can ; because we may attain
what they did not.

" But," you say, " either their words do not contain a
promise of such perfection, or God did not fulfil this pro-
mise to them to whom he made it." I answer. He surely
will fulfil it to them to whom he made it ; namely, to the
Jews, after their dispersion into all lands : and to these is
the promise made ; as will be clear to any who impartially
considers the thirtieth chapter of Deuteronomy, wherein it
stands.

I doubt whether this perfection can be proved by Luke
vi, 40. From 1 John iii, 9, (which belongs to all the chil-
dren of God,) I never attempted to prove it ; but I still think
it is clearly described in those words, "As he is, so are
we in this world." And yet it doth not now appear " what
we shall be," when this vile body is " fashioned like unto
his glorious body ;" when we shall see him, not in a glass,
but face to face, and be transformed into his likeness.

Those expressions, John xiii, 10, "Ye are clean, clean
every whit," are allowed to refer to justification only. But
that expression, " If we walk in the light as he is in the
light," cannot refer to justification only. It does not relate
to justification at all, whatever the other clause may do.
Therefore, those texts are by no means parallel, neither can
the latter be limited by the former ; although it is sure, the
privileges described in both belong to every adult believer.

But not only abundance of particular texts, but the whole
tenor of Scripture declares, Christ came to "destroy the
works of the devil, to save us from our sins ;" all the works
of the devil, all our sins, without any exception or limitation.
Indeed should we say, we have no sin to be saved or
cleansed from, wc should make Him come in vain. But
it is at least as much for his glory to cleanse us from them
all before our death as after it.



70 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

" But St. James says, ' In many things we offend all ;*
and whatever we might mean, if alone, the expression, we
eUl, was never before understood to exclude the person
speaking." Indeed it was. It is unquestionably to be un-
derstood so as to exclude Isaiah, the person speaking,
" We are all as an unclean thing ; we all do fade as a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away," Ixiv, 6.
For this was not the case with Isaiah himself. Of himself
he says, " My soul shall be joyful in my God ; for he hath
clothed me with the garments of salvation ; he hath covered
me with the robe of righteousness," Ixi, 10. Here the pro-
phet, like the apostle, uses the word we instead of you, to
soften the harshness of an impleasing truth.

In this chapter the apostle is not cautioning them against
censuring others, but" entering upon a new argument;
wherein the second verse has an immediate reference to
the first, but none at all to the thirteenth of the preceding
chapter.

1 added, ". ' We offend all,' cannot be spoken of all Chris-
tians ; for immediately there follows the mention of one
who offends not, as the we before mentioned did." You
answer, " His not offending in word will not prove that he
does not offend * in many things.' " I think St. James
him!*elf proves it in saying, " He is able to bridle also the
whole body ;" to direct all his actions as well as words,
according to the holy, perfect will of God ; which those,
and those onh% are able to do who love God with all their
hearts. And yet these ver}' persons can sincerely say,
" Forgive us our trespasses." For as long as they are in
the body they are liable to mistake, and to speak or act
according to that mistaken judgment. Therefore they
cannot abide the rigour of justice, but still need mercy and
forgiveness.

W^ere you to ask, " What if I should die this moment ?"
I should answer, I believe you would be saved, because I


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Online LibraryJohn WesleySelect letters, chiefly on personal religion → online text (page 5 of 18)