John Wesley.

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am persuaded none that has faith can die before he is
made ripe for glory. Tliis is the doctrine which I con-


tinually teach, which has nothing to do with justification
by works. Nor can it discourage any who have faith,
neither weaken their peace, nor damp their joy in the
Lord. True believers are not distressed hereby, either in
life or in death ; unless in some rare instance, wherein the
temptation of the devil is joined with a melancholy temper.

Upon the whole, I observe your great argument turns
all along on a mistake of the doctrine. Whatever wann
expressions may drop from young men, we do not teach
that any believer is under condejnnation. So that all the
inferences drawn from this supposition fall to the ground
at once.

Your other letter I hope to consider hereafter, though I
have great reason to apprehend your prejudice will still be
too strong for my arguments. However, whether you
expect it or not, I must wish for your perfection. You of
all people have most need of perfect love, because this
alone casts out fear.

I am, with great sincerity,

Yom- affectionate brother and servant.


July ], 1759.
Dear Sir, — Considering the variety of business which
must lie upon you, I am not willing to trouble you too
often ; yet cannot any longer delay to return thanks for
your favour of May 2 1 . How happy is it that there is a
higher wisdom than our. own to guide us through the
mazes of life ! that we have an unction from the Holy One
to teach us of all things where human teaching fails ! And
it certainly must fail in a thousand instances. General
rules cannot reach all particular cases ; in some of which
there is such a complication of circumstances, that God
alone can show what steps we should take. There is one
circumstance in your case which claims your peculiar
attention, and makes it necessary often to check that bold-


ness and simplicity which otherwise would be both your
duty and pleasure. But O how easily may you comply
too far, and hurt yourself in hopes of gaining another ! nay,
perhaps hurt the other too by that very compliance which
was designed to help ! And who is able to lay the line ? to
determine how far you should comply, and where fix your
foot ? May the God of wisdom direct you in all your steps !
And I conceive he will rather do this by giving you light
directly from himself, in meditation and private prayer,
than by the advice of others, who can hardly be impartial
in so tender a point. Is it not then advisable that you
should much comnmne with God and your own heart ?
You may then lay aside all the trappings that naturally
tend to hide you from yourself, and appear naked, as a
poor sinful worm, before the great God, the Creator of
heaven and of earth ! the great God, who is your Father
and your Friend ! who hath prepared for you a kingdom !
who calls you to forget the little things of earth, and to sit
down with him on his throne ! O may you dwell on these
things till they possess your whole soul, and cause you to
love the honour which cometh of God only !

XLV.— TO .

May 16, 1759.

Dear Sir, — Since I received your favour I have had
many thoughts on worldly and Christian prudence. What
is the nature of each 1 How do they differ ? How may we
distinguish one from the other ?

It seems worldly prudence either pursues worldly ends —
riches, honour, ease, or pleasure ; or pursues Christian ends
on worldly maxims, or by worldly means. The grand max-
ims which obtain in the world are, the more power, the more
money, the more learning, and the more reputation a man
has, the more good he will do. And whenever a Christian,
pursuing the noblest ends, forms his behaviour by these
maxims, he will infallibly (though perhaps by insensible


degrees) decline into worldly prudence. He will use more
or less of conformity to the world, if not in sin, yet in do-
ing some things that are good in themselves, yet (all things
considered) are not good to him ; and perhaps at length
using guile or disguise, simulation or dissimulation ; either
seeming to be what he is not, or not seeming to be what
he is. By any of these marks may worldly prudence be
discerned from the wisdom which is from above.

This Christian prudence pursues Christian maxims, and
by Christian means. The ends it pursues are holiness in
every kind, and in the highest degree ; and usefulness in
every kind and degree. And herein it proceeds on the
following maxims : — The help that is done upon earth, God
doeth it himself; it is he that worketh all in all ; and that,
not by human power ; generally he uses weak things to
confound the strong ; — not by men of wealth ; most of his
choicest instruments may say, " Silver and gold have I
none ;" — not by learned or wise men after the flesh ; no,
the foolish things hath God chosen ; — not by men of repu-
tation, but by the men that were as the filth and ofiscouring
of the world; ail which is for this plain reason, — "that no
flesh may glory in his sight."

Christian prudence pursues these ends upon these prin-
ciples, by only Christian means. A truly pnident Chris-
tian, while, in things purely indifferent, he becomes all
things to all men, yet wherever duty is concerned, matters
the example of all mankind no more than a grain of sand.
His word is then, — ^

" Non mc, qui cjptera^ vincit
Impetus, et rapido contrarius evehor orbi.''*

He will not, to gain the favour or shun the hate of all,
orxiit the least point of duty. He cannot prevail upon him-
self on any account or pretence to use either simulation or

* This quotation from Ovid is thus translated by Addison :—
♦' I steer against their notions ; nor am I
Borne back by all the current of the sky." — Ed.


dissimulation. There is no guile in his mouth ; no evasion
or ambiguity. Having one desire, one design, to glorify
God with his body and with his spirit j having only one
fear, —

'* Lest a motion, or a word,
Or thought arise, to grieve his Lord ;"

having one rule, the word of God ; one guide, even his
Spirit ; he goes on in childhke simplicity. Continually
seeing Him that is invisible, he walks in 0{>en day. Look-
ing unto Jesus, and deriving strength from him, he goes on
in his steps in the work of faith, the lal)Our of love, the
patience of hope, till he is called up to be ever with the

O that this were in all points your own character?
Surely you desire it above all things. But how shall you
attain ? Difficulties and hinderances surroimd you on every
side ! Can you bear with my plainness 1 I believe you can.
Therefore I will speak without any reserve. I fear you
have scarce one friend who has not more or less of the
prudence which is not from above. And I doubt you have
(in or near your own rank) hardly one example of true
Christian prudence ! Yet I am persuaded your own heart
advises you right, or rather God in your heart. O that you
may hearken to his voice alone, and let all creatures keep
silence before him ! Why should they encumber you with
Saul's armour ? If you essay to go forth thus, it will be in
vain. You have no need of this, neither of his sword or
spear ; for you trust in the Lord of hosts. go forth in
his strength ! and with the stones of the brook you shall
overthrow all your enemies.


October 28, 1754.
Sir, — Whether I see you any more in this Ufe or no,
I rejoice that I have seen you this once, and that God


enabled you to bear with patience what I spoke in the
simphcity of my heart.

The substance of what I took the Uberty to mention to
you this morning was : — You are on the borders of the
grave, as well as I : shortly we must both appear before
God. When it seemed to mo, some months since, that
my life was near an end, I was troubled that I had not
dealt plainly with you. This you will permit me to do
now, without any reserve, in the fear and in the presence
of God.

I reverence you for your office as a magistrate : I believe
you to be an honest, upright man : I love you for having
protected an innocent people from their cruel and lawless
oppressors. But so much the more am I obliged to say,
(though I judge not ; God is the judge,) I fear you are
covetous ; that you love the world. And if you do, as sure
as the word of God is true, you are not in a state of salva-

The substance of your answer was, that many people
exhort others to charity from self-interest ; that men of for-
tune must mind iheir fortune ; that you cannot go about to
look for poor people ; that when you have seen them your-
self, and relieved them, tiiey were scarce ever satisfied ;
that many make an ill use of what you give them ; that you
cannot tnist the account people give of themselves by let-
ters ; that nevertheless you do give to private persons by
the hands of Colonel Hudson and others ; that you have
also given to several hospitals a hundred pounds at a time ;
but that you must support \-our family ; that the Lowlher
family has continued above four hundred years ; that you
are for great things, for pubUc charities, and for saving the
nation from ruin ; and that others may think as they please*
but this is your way of thinking, and has been for many

To this I replied, — 1 . Sir, I have no self-interest in this
matter : I consult your interest, not my own : I want
nothing from you ; I desire nothing from you ; I expect


notliing from you. But I am concerned for your immortal
spirit, which must so soon launch into eternity. 2. It is
true, men of fortune must mind their fortune ; but they must
not love the world. " If any man love the world, the love
of the Father is not in him." It is true, likewise, you
cannot go about to look for poor people ; but you may be
sufficiently informed of them by those that can. 4. And
if some of these are never satisfied, this is no reason for
not relieving others. 5. Suppose, too, that some make an
ill use of what you give, the loss falls on their own head.
You will not lose your reward for their fault. What you
laid out, God will pay you again. 6. Yet certainly you do
well to have all the assurance you can, that those to whom
you give are Hkely to make a good use of it ; and therefore
to expect a stronger recommendation of them than their
own, whether by letter or otherwise. 7. I rejoice that
you have given to many by so worthy a man as Colonel
Hudson, whose word is certainly a sufficient recommenda-
tion. 8. I rejoice, Hkewise, that you have given some
hundreds of pounds to the hospitals, and wish it had been
ten thousand. 9. To the support of the family I did not
object ; but begged leave to ask whether this could not be
done without giving ten thousand a year to one w^ho had
as much already ? and whether you could answer this to
God, in the day wherein he shall judge the world ? 10. I
hkewise granted that the family had continued above four
hundred years ; but observed, meantime, that God regarded
it not one jot the more for this, and that four hundred or
one thousand years are but a moment compared to eternity.
11. I observed, likewise, that great things may be done,
and little things not left undone. 12. And that if this or
any other way of thinking be according to Scripture, then
it is sound and good ; whereas, if it be contrary to Scrip-
ture, it is not good, and the longer we are in it, so much
the worse.

Upon the whole, I must once more earnestly entreat you
to consider yourself, and God, and eternity. As to yourself,


you are not the proprietor of any thing ; no, not of one shil-
ling in the world. You are only a steward of what another
intrusts you with, to be laid out, not according to your will,
but his. And what would you think of your steward, if he
laid out what is called your money, according to his own
will and pleasure ? 2. Is not God the sole proprietor of all
things? And are you not to give an account to liim for
every part of his goods ? And O how dreadful an account,
if you have expended any part of them not according to his
will, but your own ! 3. Is not death at hand ? And are
not you and I just stepping into eternity? And are we not
just going to appear in the presence of God ; and that
naked of all worldly goods ? Will you then rejoice in your
money you have left behind you ? or in that you have given
to support a family, as it is called ; that is, in truth, to sup-
port the pride, and vanity, and luxury, which you have
yourself despised all your life long ? sir, I beseech you,
for the sake of God, for the sake of your own immortal soul,
examine yourself, whether you do not love money. If so,
you cannot love God. And if we die without the fear of
God, what remains ? Only to be banished from him for
ever and ever !


December 26, 1761.

Dear Sister, — The path of controversy is a rough
path. But it seems smoother while I am walking with
you : so that I could follow you through all its windings ;
only my time will not permit.

The plain fact is this : I know many who love God with
all their heart, mind, soul, and strength. He is their one
desire, their one delight, and they are continually happy in
him. They love their neighbour as themselves. They feel
as sincere, fervent, constant a desire for the happiness of
every man, good or bad, friend or enemy, as for their own.
They " rejoice evennore, pray without ceasing, and in


every thing give thanks." Their souls are continually
streaming up to God in holy joy, prayer, and praise. This
is plain, sound, Scriptural experience : and of this we have
more and more li\'ing witnesses.

But these souls dwell in a shattered, corruptible body,
and are so pressed do\\Ti thereby that they caiinot exert
their love as they would, by always thinking, speaking, and
acting precisely right. For w^ant of better bodily organs,
they sometimes inevitably think, speak, or act wrong. Yet
I think they need the advocacy of Clu-ist, even for these
involuntary defects ; although they do not imply a defect
of love, but of understanding. However that be, I cannot
doubt the fact. They are all love ; yet they cannot walk
as they desire. " But are they all love while they grieve
the Holy Spirit?" No, surely; they are then fallen from
their steadfastness ; and this they may do even after they
are sealed. So that, even to such, strong cautions are
needful. After the heart is cleansed from pride, anger, and
desire, it may suffer them to re-enter : therefore, I have
long thought some expressions in the hymns are abundantly
too strong ; as I cannot perceive any state mentioned in
Scriptiu"e from which we may not (in a measure, at least)

Persons who talked of being emptied before they were
filled, were, for some time, a great stumbling-block to me
too ; but I have since considered it thus : the great point
in question is. Can we be saved from all sin, or not ? Now
it may please God to act in that uncommon manner pur-
posely to clear this point ; to satisfy those persons that they
are saved from all sin, before he goes on in his work.

Forgive me, dear Miss Hardy, that I do but just touch
upon the heads of your letter. Indeed, this defect does not
spring from the want of love, but only from want of time.
I should not wonder if your soul was one of the next that
was filled with pure love. Receive it freely, thou poor
bruised reed ! It is able to make thee stand.



March 18, 1760.

My Lady, — It was impossible to see the distress into
which your ladyship was thrown by the late unhappy affair,
without bearing a part of it, without sympathizing with you.
But may we not see God therein ? May we not both hear
and understand his voice ? We must allow, it is generally
*' small and still ;" yet he speaks sometimes in the whirl-
wind. Permit me to speak to your ladyship with all free-
dom ; not as to a person of quality, but as to a creature
whom the Almighty made for himself, and one that is in a
few days to appear before him.

You were not only a nominal, but a real Christian. You
tasted of the pawers of the world to come. You knew God
the Father had accepted you, through his eternal Son ; and
God the Spirit bore witness with your spirit, that you were
a child of God.

But you fell among thieves, and such as were peculiarly
qualified to rob you of your God. Two of these in particular
were sensible, learned, well-bred, well-natured, moral men.
These did not assault you in a rough, abrupt, offensive
manner. No ; you would then have armed yourself against
them, and have repelled all their attacks. But by soft, deli-
cate, unobserved touches, by pleasing strokes of railler}',
by insinuations, rather than surly argiunents, they, by little
and little, sapped the foundation of your faith : perhaps not
only of your living faith, ydnr " evidence of things not seen ;**
but even of your notional. It is well if they left you so
much as an assent to the Bible, or a belief that Christ is
God over all! And what was the consequence of this?
Did not your love of God grow cold ? Did not you

"Measure back your steps to earth again V

Did not your love of the world revive ? even of those poor
low trifles which, in your very childhood, you utterly-
despised ?


Where are you now ? full of faith ? looking into the ho
liest, and seeing Him that, is invisible ? Does your heart
now glow with love to Him who is daily pouring his bene-
fits upon you ? Do you now even desire it ? Do you now
say, (as you did almost twenty years ago,) —

"Keep me dead to all below,
Only Christ resolved to know ;
Firm, and disengaged, and free,
Seeking all my bliss in thee!"

Is your taste now for heavenly things? Are not you a lover
df pleasure more than a lover of God ? And O what plea-
siue ! What is the pleasure of visiting ? of modem conver-
sation ? Is there any more reason than religion in it ? I
wonder what rational appetite does it gratify ? Setting reU-
gion quite out of the question, I cannot conceive how a
woman of sense can — relish, should I say ? no, but — suffer
so insipid an entertainment.

O that the time past may suffice ! Is it not now high
time that you should awake out of sleep ? Now God calls
aloud ! My dear lady, now hear the voice of the Son of
God, and live ! The trouble in which your tender parent
is now involved may restore all that reverence for her
which coidd not but be a little impaired while you sup-
posed she was " righteous ovennuch." how admirably
does God lay hold of and " strengthen the things that
remain" in you I your gratitude, your humane temper, your
generosity, your filial tenderness ! And why is this, but to
improve every right temper ; to free you from all that is
irrational or imholy ; to make you all that you were, yea,
all that you should be ; to restore you to the whole image
of God ?


Otlty^Jnlyl, 1761.
My Dear Brother, — The perfection I teach is perfect
love ; loving God with all the heart ; receiving Christ as


prophet, priest, and king to reign alone over all our
thoughts, words, and actions. -iThe Papists neither teach
nor believe this : give even the devil his due. They teach
there is no perfection here which is not consistent with
venial sins ; and among venial sins they commonly reckon
simple fornication. Now I think this is so far from the
perfection I teach, that it does not come up to any but
Mr. Kelly's perfection. To say Christ will not reign alone
in our hearts in this Ufe ; will not enable us to give him all
our hearts ; this, in my judgment, is making him a half-
Saviour : he can be no more, if he does not quite save us
from our sins. I pray, then, be not quite so peremptory.
Who exalts Christ most ? those who call on him to be the
sole Monarch of the heart ; or those who allow him only
to share the power, and to govern most of the thoughts and
tempers ? Who honour him most ? those who believe he
heals all our sickness, takes away all our ungodliness ; or
those who say, He heals only the greater part of it, till
death does what he cannot do ? I know no creature (of us)
who says, " Part of our salvation belongs to Christ, and
part to us." No ; we all say, Christ alone saves us from
all sin ; and your question is not about the author, but the
measure of salvation. Both agree it is all Christ ; but is
it all salvation, or only half salvation, he will give ? Who
was Pelagius ? By all I can pick up from ancient authors,
I guess he was both a wise and a holy man. But we know
nothing but his name ; for his writings are all destroyed ;
not one line of them left. But, brother Coates, this way
of talking is highly offensive. I advise you, 1. If you are
willing to labour with us, preach no doctrine contrary to
ours. I have preached twenty years in some of Mr. White-
field's societies, yet to this day I never contradicted him
among his own people. I did not think it honest, neither
necessary at all. I could preach salvation by faith, and
leave all controversy untouched. I advise you, 2. Avoid
all those strong, rhetorical exclamations, " O horrid ! O

dreadful !" and the like, unless when you are strongly



exhorting sinners to renounce the devil and all his works.

3. Acquaint yourself better with the doctrine we preach ;
and you will find it not dreadful, but altogether lovely.

4. Observe that if forty persons think and speak wrong,
either about justification or sanctification, (and perhaps
fancy they have attained both,) tliis is no objection to the
doctrines themselves. They must bear their own burden.
But this does not at all aflfect the point in question. 5. Re-
member, as sure as you are that " believers cannot fail from
grace," others (wise and holy men too) are equally siure
they can ; and you are as much obliged to bear with them

p as they are to bear with you. 6. Abstain from all contro-
/ versy in public. Indeed, you have not a talent for it. You
I have an honest heart, but not a clear head. Practical reli-
gion is your point; therefore, 7. Keep to this: repentance
toward God, faith in Christ, holiness of heart and life, a
growing in grace and in the knowledge of Christ, the con-
tinual need of his atoning blood, a constant confidence in
him, and all these every moment to our life's end. In none
of these will any of our preachers contradict you, or you

When you leave this plain path, and get into controversy,
then they think you " invade the glories of our adorable
King, and the unspeakable rights, and privileges, and com-
forts of his children ;"' and can they then " tamely hold
their peace ?"

O Sander, kiKJw the value of peace and love !

I am your aflfe^tionate brotlier.

L.— TO MR. S. F.

Bristol October 13, 1762.
My Dear Brother, — In general, when I apprehend,
" Certainly this is a contradiction," if I find other persons
of equal sagacity vnx\\ m}-se]f, of equal natural and acquired
abilities, apprehend it is not, I immediately suspect my own
judgment ; and the more so, because I remember I have


been many times full as sure as I am now, and yet after-
ward I found myself mistaJcen.

As to this particular question, I believe I am able to an-
swer every objection which can be made. But I am not
able to do it without expending much time which may be
better employed. For this reason I am persuaded it is so
far from being my duty to enter into a formal controversy
about it that it would be a wilful sin ; it would be employ-
ing my short residue of life in a less profitable way than it
may be employed.

The proposition which I will hold is this : "A person
may be cleansed from all sinful tempers, and yet need the
atoning blood." For what ? For " negligences and igno-
rances ;" for both words and actions (as well as omissions)
which are, in a sense, transgressions of the perfect law.
And I believe no one is clear of these till he lays down
this corruptible body.

Now, Sammy, dropping the point of contradiction, tell
me simply what you M'ould have more. Do you believe
evil tempers remain till death ? all or some ? if some only,
which ?

I love truth wherever I find it ; so, if you can help me
to a little more of it, you will oblige,

Dear Sammy,

Yours, &c.


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Online LibraryJohn WesleySelect letters, chiefly on personal religion → online text (page 6 of 18)