John Wesley.

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! should have any jealousies or misunderstandings between

' them. What advantage must this give to the common

enemy ! What a hinderance is it to the great work wherein

they are all engaged ! How desirable is it that there should

be the most open, avowed intercourse between them ! So

far, indeed, as they judge it would be for the glory of God,

they may openly declare wherein they disagree.

But surely if they are ashamed to own one another in
the faces of all mankind, they are ashamed of Christ ;
they are ashamed of Him that sends, if they dare not avow
whom he has sent. Excuses, indeed, will never be want-
ing. But will these avail before God ? For many years I
have been labouring after this ; labouring to unite, not
scatter, the messengers of God. Not that I want any thing
from them. As God has enabled me to stand almost alone
for these twenty years, I doubt not but he will enable me
to stand, either with them or without them. But I want
all to be helpful to each other, and all the world to know
we are so. Let them know who is on the Lord's side.
You, 1 trust, will always be of that number. O let us
preach and live the whole gospel ! The grace of oiu: Lord
be with your spirit !

♦ I prefer Irulh lo tlic dearest friend. — Ed,



Whiiehaven, June 28, 17f»6.

My Dear Sister, — For some time I have been con-
vinced it was my duty to tell you what was on my mind.
I will do it with all plainness. You may answer or not,
as you judge best.

Many things I have observed in you which gave me
pleasure ; some which gave me concern : the former I
need not mention ; tlie latter I must, or I should not my-
self be clear before God.

The first of these is something which looks like pride.
You sometimes seem to think too highly of yourself, and
(comparatively) to despise others. I will instance in two
or three particulars : —

1. You appear to be above instruction — I mean instruc-
tion from man. I do not doubt but you are taught of God.
But that does not supersede your being taught by man also.
I believe there is no saint upon earth whom God does not
teach by man.

2. You appear to think (T will not affirm you do) that
none understands the doctrine of sanctification like you.
Nay, you sometimes speak as if none understood it besides
you : whereas (whether you experience more or less of it
than some) I know several, both men and women, who
both think and speak full as Scripturally of it as you do ;
and perhaps more clearly ; for there is often something
dark and confused in your manner of speaking concern-
ing it.

3. You appear to unden'^alue the experience of almost
every one in comparison of your own. To this it seems
to be owing, that you, some way or other, beat down
almost all who believe they are saved from sin. And so
some of them were, in the only sense wherein I either
teach or believe it, unless they tell flat and wilful lies ia
giving an account of their experience.



A second thing which has given me concern is, I am
afraid you are in danger of enthusiasm. We know there
are divine dreams and impressions. But how easily may
you be deceived herein ! How easily, where something is
from God, may we mix something which is from nature !
especially if we have a lively imagination, and are not
aware of any danger.

I will mention one thing more. It has frequently been
said, and with some appearance of truth, that you endea-
vour to monopolize the affections of all that fall into your
hands ; that you destroy the nearest and dearest connection
they had before, and make them quite cool and indifferent
to their most intimate friends. I do not at all speak on my
own account ; I set myself out of the question. But if
there be any thing of the kind with regard to other people,
^ should be sorry, both for them and you.

I commend you all to God, and to the word of his grace.


Yarm, July 9, 1766.
Reverend Sir, — The regard which I owe to a fellow
Christian, and much more to a clergyman and a magis-
trate, constrains me to trouble you with a few lines, though
I have no personal acquaintance with you. Ralph Bell
has just been giving me an accomit of the late affair at
Ripon. What he desires is, 1. To have the loss he has
sustained repaired ; and, 2. Liberty of conscience ; that
liberty which every man may claim as his right by the law
of God and nature ; and to which every Englishman, in
particular, has a right by the laws of his country. I well
know the advantage these laws give vs in the present case :
I say uSj because I make the case my own ; as I think it
my bounden duty to do. I have had many suits in the
king's bench ; and, blessed be God, I never lost one yet.
But I would far rather put an amicable end to any dispute,
where it can be done : not that I am afraid of being over-



borne by the expense ; if I am not, I know them that are,
able to bear it. But I love peace. I love my neighbour
as myself; and would not willingly bring loss or trouble
upon any man. Be so good as to impute to this motive
my interfering in this matter.

I am, reverend sir,

Your servant for Christ's sake.


Noncich, December 6, 1767.

My Dear Sister, — I can easily beUeve that nothing
would be wanting to me which it was in your power to
supply : for I am persuaded your heart is as my heart, as
is the case with all the " souls whom Himself vouchsafes
to unite in fellowship divine." What is always in your
power is, to bear me before the throne of grace. One thing
in particular which I frequently desire is, " a calm evening
of a various day ;" that I may have no conflicts at the last,
but rather, if God sees good, before " ray flesh and my
heart faileth."

In every place where Mr. Whitefield has been he has
laboured in the same friendly, Christian maimer. God has
indeed effectually broken doAvn the wall of partition which
was between us. Thirty years ago we were one : then
the sower of tares rent us asunder : but now a stronger
than him has made us one again.

There is no weakness either in our body or mind, but
Satan endeavours to avail himself of it. That kind of
dulness or listlessness I take to be originally a pure eff*ect
of bodily constitution. As such, it is not imputable to us
in any degree, unless we give way to it. So long as we
diligently resist, it is no more blameable than sleepiness,
or weariness of body.

Do many of those who were saved from sin in your
neighbourhood stand fast in their hberty ? or have one-
half, if not the greater part, been moved from their stead-


fastness ? How is it that so many are moved ? that in many
places so few, comparatively, stand? Have you lately con-
versed with sister Heslop 1 Does she retain all the life she
had ? Does Jolm Eland ? and some others at Hutton ?
Peace be multiplied upon you !


London, January 24, 1768.

My Dear Sister, — Formerly, when persons reproached
me for doing thus and thus, I have very frequently said,
" In truth, I have not done it yet ; but, by the grace of God,
I will." This seems to be the very case with you. You
are accused for what you did not, but ought to have done.
You ought to have informed me from time to time, not
indeed of trifles, or idle reports, but of things which you
judged to be a real hinderance to the work of God. And
God permitted you to be reminded of this omission by those
who intended nothing less.

Opposition from their bretliren has been one cause why
so many who were set free have not retained their liberty.
But perhaps there was another more general cause : they
had not proper help. One just saved from sin is like a
new-born child, and needs as careful nursing. But these
had it not. How few were as nursing fathers ! How few
cherished them as a nurse her own children ! So that the
greater part were weakened, if not destroyed, before their
sinews were knit, for want of that prudent and tender care
which their state necessarily required. Do all that you
can to cherish them that are left ; and never forget

Your affectionate brother.


March 4, 1760.
Certainly the more freedom you use, the more advan-
tage }'ou will find. But at the same time it will be needful


continually to remember from whom every good and per
feet gift Cometh. If He blesses our intercourse with each
other, then we shall never repent of the labour.

It is a blessing indeed when God uncovers our hearts,
and clearly shows us what spirit we are of. But there is
no manner of necessity that this self-knowledge should
make us miserable. Certainly the highest degree of it is
well consistent both with peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Therefore how deeply soever you may be convinced of
pride, self-will, peevishness, or any other inbred sin, see
that you do not let go that confidence, whereby you may
still rejoice in God your Saviour. Some, indeed, have
been quite unhappy, though they retained their faith,
through desire on the one hand, and conviction on the
other. But that is nothing to you : you need never give
up any thing which you have already received ; you will
not, if you keep close to that, —

" For this my vehement soul stands still ;
Restless, resign'd, for this I wait."

We have a fuller, clearer knowledge of our own members
than of those belonging to other societies ; and may there-
fore, without any culpable partiality, have a better opinion
of them.

It is a great thing to spend all our time to the glory of
God. But you need not be scrupulous as to the precise
time of reading and praying ; I mean as to the dividing it
between one and the other. A few minutes, one way or
the other, are of no great importance.

May He who loves you fill you with his pure love !


March 29, 1760.
Having a little longer reprieve, I snatch the opportunity
of writing a few lines before we embark. Prayer is cer-
tainly the grand means of drawing near to God ; and all


Others are helpful to us only so far as they are mixed with,
or prepare us for, this. The comfort of it may be taken
away by wandering thoughts, but not the benefit : violently
to fight against these is not the best and speediest way to
conquer them ; but, rather, humbly and calmly to ask and
wait for His help who will bruise Satan under your feet.
You may undoubtedly remain in peace and joy until you
are perfected in love. You need neither enter into a dis-
pute when persons speak wrong, nor yet betray the truth :
there is a middle way. You may simply say, " I believe
otherwise ; but I think, and let think ; I am not fond of
contending on this or any other head, lest I receive more
hurt than I can do good." Remember your calling; be

" A simple follower of the Lamb,
And harmless as a little child."


April 16, 1760.

Eltham is a barren soil indeed. I fear scarce any are
to be found there who know any thing of the power of
religion ; and not many that have so much as the form.
But God is there ; and he can supply every want. No-
thing contributes to seriousness more than humility, because
it is a preparation for every fruit of the Holy Spirit ; and
the knowledge of our desperate state by sin has a particular
tendency to keep us earnest after deliverance ; and that
earnestness can hardly consist with levity, either of temper
or behaviour.

Those who have tasted of the goodness of God are fre-
quently wanting in declaring it. They do not, as they
ought, stir up the gift of God which is in every believer by
exciting one another to continual thankfulness, and pro-
voking each other to love and good works. We should
never be content to make a drawn battle, to part neither
better nor worse than we met. Christian conversation ia
too precious a talent to be thus squandered away.


It does not require a large share of natural wisdom to
see God in all things ; in all his works of creation as well
as of providence. This is rather a branch of spiritual
wisdom, and is given to believers more and more as they
advance in purity of heart.

Probably it would be of use to you to be as regular as
you can: I mean, to allot such hours to such emplojinents,
only not to be troubled when Providence calls you from
them. For the best rule of all is, to follow the will of God.


June 27, 1760.
A DAY or two ago I was quite surprised to find among
my papers a letter of yours, which I apprehend I have not

Every one, though bom of God in an instant, yea, and

sanctified in an instant, yet undoubtedly grows by slow

degrees, both after the former and the latter change. But

it does not follow from thence that there must be a consi-

, derable tract of time between the one and the other. A

I year or a month is the same with God as a thousand. If

I he wills, to do is present with him ; much less is there any

necessity for much suffering : God can do his work by

pleasure as well as by pain. It is therefore undoubtedly

our duty to pray and look for full salvation every day, every

' hour, every moment, wdthout waiting till we have either

done or suffered more. Why should not this be the

accepted time ?

Certainly your friend w-ill suffer loss if he does not allow
himself time every day for private prayer. Notliing will
supply the want of this : praying with others is quite an-
other thing. Besides, it may expose us to great danger ;
it may turn prayer into an abomination to God; for

" Guilty we speak, if subtle from within
Blows on our words the self-admiring sin!"

make the best of every hour '



November 11, 1760.

Conviction is not condemnation. You may be con-
vinced, yet not condemned ; convinced of useless thoughts
or words, and yet not condemned for them. You are con-
demned for nothing if you love God, and continue to give
him your whole heart.

Certainly, spiritual temptations will pass through your
spirit ; else you could not feel them. I believe 1 under-
stand your state better than you do yourself. Do not per.
plex yourself at. all about what you shall call it. You are
a child of God, a member of Christ, an heir of the king-
dom. What you have, hold fast, (whatever name is given
to it,) and you shall have all that God has prepared for
them that love him. Certainly you do need more faith ;
for you are a tender, sickly plant. But see, —

" Faith while yet you ask is given :

God comes down, the God and Lord
That made both earth and heaven !"

You cannot live on what he did yesterday. Therefore he
comes to-day ! He comes to destroy that tendency to levity
to severe judging, to any thing that is not of God.
Peace be with your spirit I


December 12, 1760.
You may blame yourself, but I will not blame you, fox
seeking to have your every temper, and thought, and word,
and work, suitable to the will of God. But I doubt not
you seek this by faith, not without it ; and you seek it in
and through Christ, not without him. Go on ; you shall
have all you seek, because God is love. He is showing
you the littleness of your imderstanding, and the foolish-

118 Wesley's select letters.

ness of all natural wisdom. Certainly peace and joy in
believing are the grand means of holiness ; therefore love
and value them as such.

" Why is the law of works superseded by the law of
love ?" Because Christ died. " Why are we not condemned
for coming short even of this ?" Because he lives and inter-
cedes for us. I believe it is impossible not to come short
of it, through the unaA'oidable littleness of our understand-
ing. Yet the blood of the covenant is upon us, and there-
fore there is no condemnation.

I think the extent of the law of love is exactly marked
out in the thirteenth of the Corinthians. Let faith fill your
heart with love to Him and all mankind ; then follow this
loving faith to the best of your understanding ; meantime
crying out continually, " Jesus is all in all to me."


June 17, 1761.
I APPREHEND your great danger now is this, to think
you never shall receive that blessing, because you have
not received it yet. Nay, perhaps you may be tempted
to believe that there is no such thing, and that those who
thought they had received it were mistaken as well as you
This danger will be increased, if some who professed to
be sanctified long ago, and yet have not received this bless-
ing, affirm there is no such thing, and begin to warn others
against falling into this delusion. But keep close to your
rule, the word of God, and to your guide, the Spirit of
God, and never be afraid of expecting too much : as yet
you are but a babe. O what heights of holiness are to
come ! I hope you do not forget to pray for me. Adieu !


May 13, 1762.
You did well to write. " It is good to hide the secrets
of a king; but to declare the loving-kindness of the Lord.**


Have you never found any wandering since ? Is your mind
always stayed on God ? Do you find every thought brought
into captivity to the obedience of Christ? Do no vain
thoughts (useless, trifling, unedifying) lodge within you ?
Does not the corruptible body at some times, more or less,
press down the soul ? Has God made your very dreams
devout? I have known Satan assault in their sleep (endea-
vouring to terrify or aflright) those whom he could not
touch when they were awake.

As to your band, there are two sorts of persons with
whom you may have to do, — the earnest and the slack :
the way you are to take with the one is quite different
from that one would take with the other. The latter you
must search, and find out why they are slack ; exhort them
to repent, be zealous, do the first works. The former you
have only to encourage, to exhort, to push forward to the
mark, to bid them grasp the prize so nigh ! And do so your-
self. Receive a thousand more blessings ; believe more,
love more : you cannot love enough. Beware of sins of
omission. So shall you fulfil the joy of

Your affectionate brother.


April 7, 1763.

The true gospel toucnes the very edge both of Calvin-
Ism and Antinomianism ; so that nothing but the mighty
power of God can prevent our sliding either into the one
or the other.

The nicest point of all which relates to Christian per-
fection is that which you inquire of. Thus much is cer-
tain : they that love God with all their heart, and all men
as themselves, are Scripturally perfect. And surely such
there are ; otherwise the promise of God would be a mere
mockery of human weakness. Hold fast this : but then
remember, on the other hand, you have this treasure in an
earthen vessel ; you dwell in a poor, shattered house of


clay, which presses down the immortal spirit. Hence all
your thoughts, words, and actions are so imperfect ; so far
from coming up to the standard, (that law of love which,
but for the corruptible body, your soul would answer in all
instances,) that you may well say, till you go to Him you
love, —

" Every moment, Lord, I need
The merit of thy death."


October 13, 1764.

1 DO not see that you can speak otherwise than you do
in your band. If you sought their approbation, that would
be wrong ; but you may suffer it without blame. Indeed,
in these circumstances you must, since it is undeniably
plain that the doing otherwise would hurt rather than help

their souls. I believe Miss F thought she felt evil

before she did, and by that very thought gave occasion to
its re-entrance. You ought not to speak explicitly to many :
ver)' few would understand or know how to advise you

For some time I thought M did, and was therefore

glad of your acquaintance with him, hoping he would lead
you by the hand in a more profitable manner than I was
able to do. But I afterward doubted. The Lord send
you help by whom he will send !

From Avhat not only you but many others likewise have
experienced, we find there is very frequently a kind of
wilderness state, not only after justification, but even after
deUverance from sin ; and I doubt Avhether the sermon
upon that state might not give you light in this case also.
But the most frequent cause of this second darkness or
distress, I believe, is evil reasoning : by this, three in four
of those who cast away their confidence are gradually
induced so to do. And if this be the cause, is there any
way to regain that deliverance but by resuming your con-
fidence 1 And can you receive it unless you receive it


freely; not of works, but by mere grace ? This is the way:
walk thou in it. Dare to believe 1 Look up, and see thy
Saviour near ! When ? to-morrow, or to-day ? Nay, to-day
hear his voice ! At this time ; at this place ! Lord, speak ;
thy servant heareth !


August 9, 1765.

1 HAVE many fears concerning you, lest you should sink
beneath the dignity of your calling, or be moved, to the
right hand or the left, from the simplicity of the gospel. Is
your heart still whole with God ? Do you still desire and
seek no happiness but in him ? Are you always, or gene-
rally, sensible of his presence ? Do you generally, at least,
find communion with him ? And do you expect all that you
enjoyed once, and more ; to be sanctified throughout before
you go hence ?

I hope no inward or outward reasonings are able to
move you from walking exactly according to the gospel.
beware of voluntary humility ; of thinking, " Such a one
is better than me, and why should I pretend to be more
strict than her?'^ "What is that to thee? follow thou me!"
You have but one pattern : follow him inwardly and out-
wardly. If other believers will go step for step with you,
well ; but if not, follow him 1

Peace be with your spirit.


August 31, 1765.
You may be assured it is not a small degree of satisfac-
tion to me to hear that your soul prospers. I cannot be
indifferent to any thing which concerns either your present
or future welfare. As you covet, so I want you to enjoy,
the most excellent gifts. To your outward walking I have
no objection. But I want you to walk inwardly in the



fulness of love, and in the broad light of God's counte-
nance What is requisite to this, but to believe always ? —
now to believe with your whole heart, and to hold fast the
beginning of this confidence steadfast unto the end ? And
yet a self-complaisant thought, yea, or a blasphemous one,
may steal across your spirit; but I will not say that is your
own thought. Perhaps an enemy hath done this. Neither
will I blame you for " feeling deeply the perverseness of
others;" or for "feeling your spirit tried with it." I do not
wish that you should not feel it, (while it remains,) or that
you should feel it otherwise than as a trial. But this does
not prove that there is sin in your heart, or that you are not
a sacrifice to love. O my friend, do justice to the grace
of God ! Hold fast whereunto you have attained ; and if
you have not yet uninterrupted communion with him, why
not this moment, and from this moment ? If you have not,
I incline to think it is occasioned by reasoning, or by some
inward or outward omission.


June 29, 1767.
For some days you have been much on my mind. Are
you still making the best of life 1 employing a few days
exactly in such a manner as you judge is most to the glory
of God ? And do you still hold fast what you have received,
and expect the fulness of the promise ? Surely you may re-
tain all that earnestness of expectation to which Mr. M

used to incite you, without any prejudice either to humi-
lity or sobriety of spirit. Doubtless it is possible, with
Mr. Dryden's leave, " to be wise and love" at the same
time ; and neither of these need interfere with the other,
seeing the spirit of love is also the spirit of wisdom. Are
all your family breathing this spirit, and strengthening each
other's hands in God ? I hope you have the satisfaction of
observing the same thing in most of those that are around
about you, and of seeing the work of God prosper, wherever


you have occasion to be. When you are with the genteel
part of your acquaintance, you have more immediate need

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Online LibraryJohn WesleySelect letters, chiefly on personal religion → online text (page 9 of 18)