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practising it for some time, you should be so infatuated as
even to defend it. I am afraid these same poor creatures
afterward taught you (if that report be true) even to coun-
tenance that wickedness for which Cornwall stinks in the
nostrils of all who fear God, or love King George ; I mean
that of smuggling ; though surely they could not persuade
you to receive stolen goods ! That is an iniquity to be
punished by the judges. Is there any truth in that other
charge, (you must not ask who tells me so ; if so, I have

done,) that you imposed on Mrs. H , in the writings,

and fraudulently procured £100 a year to be engaged for,
instead of fourscore ? I hope this Avas a mistake, as well as
that assertion, that you encouraged drunkenness by suffer-
ing it in your company, if not in your own house.

O remember from whence you are fallen ! Repent, and
do the first works ! First recover the life of God in your
own soul, and walk as Christ walked. Walk with God as
you did twelve years ago. Then you might again be use-
ful to his children. Supposing you was truly alive to God
yourself, how profitably then (leaving the dead to bury their
dead) might you spend three months in a year at Bristol
or London, three in Cornwall, and six in spreading the



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 97

gospel wherever it might be needful ! I have now told you
all that is in my heart : I hope you will receive it, not only
with patience, but profit.

You must be much in the way, or much out of the way;
a good soldier for God, or for the devil. O choose the
better part ! — now ! — to-day !



LVIII.— TO THE SAME.

Cork, August 17, 1760.

Mv Dear Brother,— ^The conversation I had with
you yesterday, in the afternoon, gave me a good deal of
satisfaction. As to some things which I had heard, (with
regard to your wasting your substance, drinking intempe-
rately, and wronging the poor people at Silberton,) I am
persuaded they were mistakes ; as I suppose it was, that
you converse much with careless, unawakened people.
And I trust you will be more and more cautious in all
these respects, abstaining from the very appearance of
evil.

That you had not always attended the preaching when
you might have done it, you allowed ; but seemed deter-
mined to remove that objection ; as well as the other, of
using such exercises or diversions as give offence to your
brethren. I believe you will likewise endeavour to avoid
light and trifling conversation, and to talk and behave in
all company with that seriousness and usefulness which
become a preacher of the gospeL

Certainly, some years ago you was alive to God. You
experienced the life and power of religion. And does not
God intend that the trials you meet with should bring you
back to this ? You cannot stand still ; you know this is im-
possible. You must go forward or backward. Either you
must recover that power, and be a Christian altogether, or
in a while you will have neither power nor form, inside
nor outside.

Extremely opposite both to one and the other is that

5



98 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

\ aptness to ridicule others, to make them contemptible, by
exposing their real or supposed foibles. This I would
earnestly advise you to avoid. It hurts yourself ; it hurts
the hearers ; and it greatly hurts those who are so exposed,
and tends to make them your irreccMicilable enemies. It
has also sometimes betrayed you into speaking what was
not strictly true. beware of this above all things I Ne-
ver amplify, never exaggerate any thing. Be rigorous in
adhering to truth. Be exemplary- therein. Whatever has
been in time past, let all men now know that John Trem-
bath abhors lying ; that he never promises any thing which
he does not perform ; that his word is equal to his bond.
I pray, be exact in this. Be a pattern of truth, sincerity,
and godly simphcity.

What has exceedingly hurt you in time past, nay, and
I fear to this day, is want of reading. I scarce ever knew
a preacher read so httle. And, perhaps, by neglecting it,
you have lost the taste for it. Hence your talent in preach-
ing does not increase. It is just the same as it was seven
years ago : it is lively, but not deep ; there is little variety ;
there is no compass of thought. Reading only can supply
this, with meditation and daily prayer. You wrong your-
self greatly by omitting this. You can never be a deep
preacher without it, any more than a thorough Christian.
O begin! Fix some part of every day for private exercises.
You may acquire the taste which you have not : what is
tedious at first will afterward be pleasant. W^hether you
like it or no, read and pray daily. It is for your Ufe.
There is no other way ; else you will be a trifler all your
days, and a pretty, superficial preacher. Do jastice to
your own soul ; give it time and means to grow. Do not
starve yourself any longer. Take up your cross, and be a
Christian altogether. Then will all the children of God
rejoice (not grieve) over you; and, in particular,

Yours, &c.



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 99

LIX.— TO MR. KNOX.

Sli^o, May 30, 1765

Dear Sir, — Probably this will be the last trouble of the
kind which you will receive from me. If you receive it
in the same spirit wherein it is wrote, I shall be glad. If
not, my reward is with the Most High. I did not choose
it should be delivered till I was gone, lest you should think
I wanted something from you. By the blessing of God, I
want nothing, only that you should be happy in time and
in eternity.

Still I cannot but remember the clear light you had with
regard to the nature of real. Scriptural Christianity. You
saw what heart-religion meant, and the gate of it, justifica-
tion. You had earnest desires to be a partaker of the
whole gospel blessing ; and }t)u discovered the sincerity
of those desires by the steps you took in your family. So
that in every thing you was hastening to be not almost, but
altogether, a Christian.

Where is that light now ? Do you now see that true
religion is not a negative or an external thing, but the life
of God in the soul of man ; the imagie of God stamped upon
the heart ? Do you now see that, in order to this, we are
justified freely, through the redemption which is in Christ
Jesus ? Where are the desires after this which you once
feh? the hungering and thirsting after righteousness? And
where are the outward marks of a soul groaning after God,
and refusing to be comforted with any thing less than his
love?

Will you say, " But if I had gone on in that way, I should
have lost my friends and my reputation ?" This is partly-
true. You would have lost most of those friends who nei-
ther love nor fear God. Happy loss ! These are the men
who do you more hurt than all the world besides. These
are the men whom, if ever you would be a real Christian,
you must avoid as you would avoid hell fire. " But then
they will censure me." So they will. They will say you



100 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

are a fool, a madman, and what not. But what are yon
the worse for this ? Why, the Spirit of glory and of Christ
shall rest upon you. " But it will hurt me in my business."
Suppose it should, the favour of God would make large
amends. But ver>- probably it would not. For the winds
and the seas are in God's hands, as well as the hearts of
men. " But it is inconsistent with my duty to the church."
Can a man of understanding talk so, and talk so in earnest?
Is it not rather a copy of his countenance ? Indeed, if you
mean, " inconsistent with my pleasing this or that clergy-
man," I allow it. But let them be pleased or displeased,
please thou God. But are these clergymen the church ?
Unless they are holy men, earnestly losing and serving
God, they are not even members of the church ; they are
no part of it. And unless they preach the doctrines of the
church, contained in her articles and liturg\', they are no
true ministers of the church, but are eating her bread and
tearing out her bowels !

" But you will not leave the church." You never will
by my advice : I advise just the contrary : I advise you to
lose no opportunity of attending the service of the church,
and receiving the Lord's supper, and of showing your re-
gard for all her appointments. I advise steadily to adhere
to her doctrine in every branch of it, particularly with re-
I gard to the two fundamental points, — justification by faith,
I and holiness. But above all, I cannot but earnestly entreat
i you not to rest till you experience what she teaches ; till
(to sum up all in one word) God cleanses the thoughts of
your heart by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit, that you
may perfectly love him, and worthily magnify his holy
name. Unless this be done, what will it profit you to
increase your fortune, to preserve the fairest reputation,
and to gain the favour of the most learned, the most inge-
nious, and the most honourable clergymen in the kingdom ?
What will it profit a man to gain all these, and to lose his
own soul ?

I know that to God all things are possible ; therefore it



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 101

is possible you may take this kindly. If so, I shall hope
to receive a line from you. If not, let it be forgotten till
we meet at the judgment seat of Christ.

I am, dear sir,

Your affectionate servant



LX.— TO MRS. MAITLAND.

May 12, 1763.

Dear Madam, — Both in the former and in the "Farther
Thoughts on Christian Perfection," I have said all I have
to say on that subject. Nevertheless, as you seem to
desire I should, I will add a few words more.

As to the word -perfection^ it is Scriptural ; therefore
neither you nor I can in conscience object to it, unless we
would send the Holy Ghost to school, and teach Him to
speak who made the tongue.

By Christian perfection I mean (as I have said again
and again) the so loving God and our neighbour as to " re-
joice evermore, pray without ceasing, and in every thing
give thanks." He that experiences this is Scripturally
perfect. And if you do not, yet you may experience it :
you surely will, if you follow hard after it ; for the Scrip
ture cannot be broken.

What, then, does their arguing reprove, who o1)ject
against Christian perfection ? Absolute or infallible perfec-
tion I never contended for. Sinless perfection I do not
contend for, seeing it is not Scriptural. A perfection such
as enables a person to fulfil the whole law, and so needs
not the merits of Christ, — I acknowledge no such perfec-
tion : I do now, and always did, protest against it.

" But is there no sin in those who are perfect in love ?"
I believe not : but be that as it may, they feel none : no
temper contrary to pure love, while they rejoice, pray, and
give thanks continually. And whether sin is suspended,
or extinguished, I will not dispute : it is enough that they
feel nothing but love. This you allow we should daily



J



9



102 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

press after. And this is all I contend for. O may the
Lord give you to taste of it to-day !



LXL— TO MR. HART.

July 11, 1763.

Dear Sir, — Abundance of business has prevented my
writing so soon as I desired and intended ; nor have I time
now to write so largely as I could wish, and as your open-
ness and frankness would otherwise constrain me to do.
But I cannot delay any longer to write a little, lest I should
seem to slight your correspondence.

What you before observed is of great importance, viz.,
" If it be the professed aim of the gospel to convince us
that Jesus is the Christ ; if I, a sinner, am convinced of
the reality of this fact ; am not I who believe authorized to
expect life, not through any condition, or any act, inward
or outward, performed by me, but singly through the name
which Jesus assumed, which stands for his whole character
or. merit ?"

Here is the hinge on which Mr. Sandiman's whole sys-
tem turns. This is the strength of his cause, and you have
proposed it with all the strength and clearness which he
himself could devise.

Yet suffer me to offer to your consideration a few queries
concerning it : —

Is every one who is convinced of the reality of this fact,
" Jesus is the Christ," a gospel believer ? Is not the deWl
convinced of the reality of this fact ? Is, then, the devil a
gospel believer ?

I was convinced of the reality of this fact when I was
twelve years old, when I was without God in the world.
Was I then a gospel believer ? Was I then a child of God ?
Was I then in a state of salvation ?

Again, you say, " I who believe am authorized to expect
life, not through any condition or act, inward or outward,
performed by me."



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 103

/ who believe. But cannot you as well expect it without
believing ? If not, what is believing but a condition ? For
it is something sine quA non. And what else do you, or I,
or any one living, mean by a condition ? And is not be-
lieving an inward act ? What is it else ? But you say, Not
performed by me. By whom, then ? God gives me the
power to believe. But does he believe for me ? He works
faith in me. But still is it not I that believe ? And if so,
is not believing an inward act performed by me ?

Is not then this hypothesis (to waive all other difficulties)
contradictory to itself?

I have just set down a few hints as they occurred.

LXIL— TO MISS T .



Bristol, September 29, 1764.

Dear Sister, — In the " Thoughts upon Christian Per-
fection," you have a clear and consistent account of it. I
have been grieved at the danger I saw you in, of stopping
short of it. Certainly you may attain that blessing soon.
And I am thoroughly persuaded you did taste of it, though
how you lost it I know not.

It will be eternally true, " If thou canst believe, all
things are possible to him that believeth." Have this
faith, and you have salvation. And this is the very thing
you want. When this is joined with a strong understand-
ing, it is well ; but it may exist with a very weak one.

This is the case with Mrs. W , whose understanding

is extremely weak; and yet she has strong faith, and such
as exceedingly profits me ; though I take knowledge that
the treasure is in an earthen vessel. I see all that is of
nature ; but this does not hinder my rejoicing in that which
is of grace. This is one branch of Christian simplicity.
While reason, assisted from above, enables me to discern
the precious from the vile, I make my full use of the for-
mer, without losing one moment in thinking upon the latter.
Perhaps reason enlightened makes me simple. If I knew



^



104 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

less of human nature, (forgive me for talking so much of
myself,) I should be more apt to stumble at the weaknesses
of it : and if I have (by nature or by grace) some clearness
of apprehension, it is owing to this, (under God,) that I
never staggered at all the reveries of George Bell. I saw
instantly at the beginning, and from the beginning, what
was right and what was wrong. But I saw withal, " I
have many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear
them now." Hence many imagined I was imposed upon,
and applauded themselves for their greater perspicuity, as
they do at this day. " But if you knew it," says his friend
to Gregory Lopez, " why did you not tell me ?" I answer
with him, "I do not speak all I know, but all I judge need-
ful." Still I am persuaded there is no state under heaven
from which it is not possible to fall. But I wish you was
all love, and then you would not need to take any thought
for the morrow.

LXIIL— TO MISS L .

1. You want to know God, in order to enjoy him in time
and in eternity.

2. All that you want to know of him is contained in one
book, the Bible. Therefore your one point is to under-
stand tlds. And all you learn is to be referred to this, as
either directly or remotely conducive to it.

3. Might it not be well then to spend at least two hours
every day in reading and meditating upon the Bible ? read-
ing every morning (if not every evening too) a portion of
the Old and then of the New Testament ? If you would
save yourself the trouble of thinking, add Mr. Henry's
Comment ; if you woidd only be assisted in thinking, add
the *' Explanatory Notes.**

4. But I find a difficulty already. Can you help me
over it ? Have you more candour than almost any one in
the world ? Will you not blame me for recommending, as
they come in the way, tracts published by myself? I think



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 105

you will not. So I will set down these (in their place) as
freely as other books.

5. Your studying hours (if your constitution wdll bear it)
might be five or six hours a day. Perhaps from nine to
twelve in the morning, and from two to four or five in the
afternoon. And whenever you begin to be tired with books
that require a strong and deep attention, relax your mind
by interposing history or poetry, or something of a Ughter
nature.

6. The first thing you should understand a little of is
grammar ; in order to which it will suflSce to read first the
Kingswood " English Grammar," (which is exceedingly
short,) and then Bishop Lowth's " Introduction."

• 7. Next it would be worth your while to acquire a little
knowledge in arithmetic ; and Dilworth's Arithmetic would
give you full as much as you want.

8. You might proceed to geography. But in this I
would not advise you to encumber yourself with many
books. You need only master one, Randal's " Geographical
Grammar," and then betake yourself to the globes. I be-
lieve those of Mr. Adams are the best ; to which you may
add his little book of instructions.

9. Logic naturally follows ; and I really think it is worth
all the rest put together. But here I am at a full stop ; for
I know no good treatise on the subject in English, except
Aldrich's Logic, and that, I am afraid, you cannot under-
stand without an instructer. I shall be glad to give you a
little assistance in the short time we have together.

10. As to ethics, (or moral philosophy,) there is full as
much of it as you want in Langbain's " Compendium."

1 1 . In natural philosophy you have a larger field. You
may begin with a " Survey of the Wisdom of God in the
Creation." This contains the substance of Ray, Derham,
Niewentyt, " Nature Displayed," and all the other cele-
brated books on the subject. You may add that fine
book, Mr. Jones's " Principles of Natural Philosophy."

Thence you will easily pass to the Glasgow abridgment

5*



1(76 WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS.

of Mr. Hutchinson's Works. The abridgers give not only
all his sense, but all his spirit. You may add to these the
beautiful tracts of Lord Forbes ; and if you would go a little
farther, Mr. Baker's ingenious " Treatise on the Micro-
scope."

12. With any or all of the foregoing studies you may
intermix that of history. Geography and chronology are
termed the two eyes of history. Geography has been
mentioned before ; and I think all you want of chrono-
logy may be learned from Marshal's " Chronological
Tables."

13. You may begin with RoUin's "Ancient History;'*
and afterward read in order Piiffendorf 's " Introduction to
the History of Europe," the " Concise Church History,'*
Burnet's "History of the Reformation," the "Concise His-
tory of England," Clarendon's " History of the Great Re-
beUion," Neal's " History of the Puritans," his " History
of New-England," and Solis's " History of the Conquest
of Mexico."

14. Whitby's " Compendium of Metaphysics" will intro-
duce you to that science. You may go on with Locke's
" Essay on Human Understanding ;" Bishop Browne on
the " Nature, Procedure, and Limits of Human Under-
standing ;" and Malebranche's " Search after Tnith."

15. For poetry you may read Spenser's "Faery Queen ;"
Fairfax's or Hoole's " Godfrey of BuUoign ;" select parts
of Shakspeare ; " Paradise Lost ;" the " Night Thoughts ;'*
and " Moral and vSacred Poems."

16. You are glad to begin and end with divinity. But
I must not expatiate here. I will only recommend to your
careful perusal Bishop Pearson upon the Creed, Mr, Nal-
son's " Sermons," and the " Christian Library."

This course of study, if you have the resolution to go
through it, will, I apprehend, take you up three, four, or
five years, according to the degree of your health and of
your application. And you will then have knowledge
enough for any reasonable Christian. But remember,



WESLEY'S SELfiCT LETTERS. 107

before all, in all, and above all, your great point is to know
the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent.



LXIV.— TO THE REV. MR. G-



April 2, 1761.

Reverend Sir, — I have no desire to dispute ; least of
all with one whom I believe to fear God and work right-
eousness. And I have no time to spare. Yet I think it
my duty to write a few lines with regard to those you sent
to Mr. Bennet.

You therein say, " If you sent me the books to inform
me of an error which I had publicly advanced, pardon me
if I say I know numbers who call themselves Methodists
assert their assurance of salvation at the very time they
wallow in sins of the deepest die." Permit me, sir, to
speak freely. I do not doubt the fact. But, 1. Those
who are connected with me do not call themselves Me-
thodists. Others call them by that nickname, and they
cannot help it ; but I continually warn them not to pin it
upon themselves. 2. We rarely use that ambiguous ex-
pression of " Christ's righteousness imputed to us." 3. We
believe a man may be a real Christian without being
" assured of his salvation." 4. We know no man can be
assured of salvation while he lives in any sin whatever.
5. The wretches who talk in that manner are neither Me-
thodists nor Moravians, but followers of William Cudworth,
James Relly, and their associates, who abhor us as much
as they do the pope, and ten times more than they do the
devil. If you oppose these, so do I ; and have done pri-
vately and publicly for these twenty years.

But you say, " Such as do not profess this doctrine will
not be affected by my sermon." Indeed they will ; for the
world (as you yourself did) lump all that are called Me-
thodists together. Consequently whatever you then said
of Methodists in general falls on us as well as them ; and
so we are condemned for those very principles which we



108 WESLEY^S SELECT LETTERSr

totally detest and abhor : a small part of the " Preserv^aiive^
(had you taken the pains to read it) would have convinced
you of this. " Did you send them to convince me of some
important truth ? I have the New Testament." So have
I ; and I have read it for above these fifty years, and for
near forty with some attention. Yet I will not say' that

Mr. G may not convince me of some truth which I

never yet learned from it. I want every help, especially
from those who strive both to preach and to live the gos-
pel. Yet certainly I must dissent from you, or you from
me, wherever either conceives the other to vary from it.
Some of my wTitings you " have read." But allow me to
ask, Did you not read them with much prejudice, or little
attention ? Otherwise surely you would not have termed
them " perplexing." Very few lay obscurity or intricacy
to my charge. Those who do not allow them to be true,
do not deny them to be plain. And if they believe me to
have done any good at all by writing, they suppose it is by
this very thing, by speaking on practical and experimental
religion more plainly than others have done.

I quite agree, we " neither can be better men nor better
Christians than by continuing members of the Church of
England." And not only her doctrines, but many parts of
her discipline, I have adhered to at the hazard of my life.
If in any ponit I have since varied therefrom, it was not
by choice, but necessity. Judge, therefore, if they do well
who throw me into the ditch, and then beat me because
my clothes are dirty.

Wishing you much of the love of God in your heart, and
much of his presence in your labours,

I am, reverend sir,

Your affectionate brother.



WESLEY'S SELECT LETTERS. 109



LXV.— TO THE REV. MR. D-



Liverpool, April 6, 1761.
Dear Sir, — Let who will speak, if what is spoken be
true, I am ready to subscribe it. If it be not, I accept no
man's person. Magis a?nica Veritas* I had an agreeable
conversation with Mr. Venn, who, I suppose, is now near
you. I think he is exactly as regular as he ought to be.
I would observe every punctilio of order, except where
-r the salvation of souls is at stake. There I prefer the end
before the means.

I think it great pity that the few clergymen in England

I who preach the three grand Scriptural doctrines — original

1 sin, justification by faith, and holiness consequent thereon —


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Online LibraryJohn WesleySelect letters, chiefly on personal religion → online text (page 8 of 18)