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"Farther Thoughts on Christian Perfection." 465

have known that they contained not a single syllable concerning any "perfection out of Christ"; if he had not, he was culpable in branding a doctrine, the meaning of which he had yet to learn. In a letter to Mrs. Maitland, dated May 12, 1763, Wesley declares, that he can say nothing on the subject of Christian perfection but what he has said already. Nevertheless, at her request, he is willing to add a few words more. He proceeds:

"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 'rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and in everything 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 Scripture cannot be broken.

"What then does their arguing prove, who object against Christian perfection? Absolute or infallible perfection, 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 need not the merits of Christ, I do not acknowledge. 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. 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 press after; and this is all I contend for."1

In 1759, Wesley published his "Thoughts on Christian Perfection"; and now he issued another 12mo tract of thirtynine pages, entitled "Farther Thoughts upon Christian Perfection," in which he says: "In most particulars, I think now as I did then; in some I do not. My present thoughts I now offer to your consideration; being still open to further conviction; and willing, I trust, to be taught of God, by whatever instrument He shall choose." He proceeds to show, that the highest degree of sanctification attainable on earth will not save a man from "unavoidable defect of understanding," and from "mistakes in many things"; and that "these mistakes will frequently occasion something wrong, both in our tempers,

Methodist Magazine, 1797, p. 351.




Age 60

1763 and words, and actions." For this reason, "the holiest of Age 60 men still need Christ, as their prophet, king, and priest." He maintains, that the sanctified have a direct, as well as an indirect, witness of their sanctification; and that "some, though not all, may have a testimony from the Spirit" of their final perseverance. He admits that, in most instances, those who are "justified gradually die to sin and grow in grace, till at, or perhaps a little before death, God perfects them in love"; but, in some instances, "God cuts short His work. He does the work of many years in a few weeks: perhaps in a week, a day, an hour." Concerning those in London, who professed to have attained to Christian perfection, he says: "there is a wide difference between some of them and others." He adds: “I think most of them, with whom I have spoken, have much faith, love, joy, and peace. Some of these, I believe, are renewed in love, and have the direct witness of it; and they manifest the fruit of it in all their words and actions. But some, who have much love, peace, and joy, have not the direct witness; and others, who think they have, are manifestly wanting in the fruit. How many I will not say: perhaps one in ten, perhaps more or fewer. Some are undeniably wanting in longsuffering; some in gentleness; some in goodness; some in fidelity; some in meekness; and some in temperance." To these last mentioned he says: "Let us not fight about words; in the thing we clearly agree. You have not what I call perfection. If others will call it so, they may."

After laying it down, that "those who are perfect may grow in grace, not only while they are in the body, but to all eternity," he proceeds to say: "formerly, we thought, one saved from sin could not fall. Now, we know the contrary. We are surrounded with instances of those, who lately experienced all that I mean by perfection. They had both the fruit of the Spirit and the witness; but they have now lost both. There is no such height of holiness as it is impossible to fall from. If there be any that cannot fall, this wholly depends on the promise and faithfulness of God."

His advices to those who professed perfection are

"1. Watch and pray continually against pride. Always remember, much grace does not imply much light. These do not always go together. Give not place to the dangerous mistake that none can

Advice to the Sanctified.


teach you, but those that are themselves saved from sin. 2. Beware of that daughter of pride, enthusiasm. Do not hastily ascribe things to God. Do not easily suppose dreams, voices, impressions, visions, or revelations to be from God. They may be from Him. They may be from nature. They may be from the devil. Try all things by the written word, and let all bow down before it. 3. Beware of antinomianism, making void the law, or any part of it, through faith. Do not put your head on the hole of a cockatrice's den. Beware of Moravianism, the most refined antinomianism that ever was under the sun, producing the grossest libertinism, and most flagrant breach of every moral precept, such as could only have sprung from the abuse of true Christian experience. Beware of Moravian bigotry, stillness, self indulgence, censoriousness, and solifidianism. 4. Beware of sins of omission. Lose no opportunity of doing good in any kind. Give no place to indolence. Lose no shred of time. Do not talk much; neither long at a time: few can converse profitably above an hour. Keep at the utmost distance from pious chit-chat, from religious gossiping. 5. Beware of desiring anything but God. Admit no desire of pleasing food, or of any pleasure of sense; no desire of pleasing the eye, or the imagination, by anything grand, or new, or beautiful; no desire of money, of praise, or esteem; of happiness in any creature. 6. Beware of schism, of making a rent in the church of Christ. Do not extol, or run down, any preacher. Never omit meeting your class or band; never absent yourself from any public meeting. These are the very sinews of our society. Beware of impatience of contradiction, of touchiness, of testiness. Beware of tempting others to separate from you. Be particularly careful in speaking of yourself. Avoid all magnificent, pompous words. 7. Be exemplary in all things: particularly in outward things, as in dress; in little things; in laying out your money, avoiding every needless expense; in deep, steady seriousness; and in the solidity and usefulness of all your conversation."

Such are some of the salient points in Wesley's "Farther Thoughts upon Christian Perfection." Opinions respecting them will vary; but all will admit the sincerity and intense earnestness of the man who wrote them.

Let us now track his footsteps in 1763. With the exception of a brief visit to Norwich, and another to Bristol, the first four months were spent in London and its vicinity, during which two or three incidents occurred, besides the perfectionist agitation, that are worth mentioning.

One was the death of Mrs. Charity Perronet, the good vicar of Shoreham's wife, whom Wesley buried on February 11.

Another was an effort to relieve the sufferings of the London poor. The year opened with one of the severest frosts


Age 6)

1763 on record. The Thames was so covered with ice, that pasAge 60 sengers and carriages crossed from one shore to the other; and booths were erected, and fairs held, on the river's iceglazed surface. Navigation was entirely stopped, and many thousands of watermen, with their families, were plunged into extreme distress. In some places, the ice was measured, and found to be six feet thick. Sea gulls came up as high as London Bridge; and other birds, in great numbers, were driven from their usual haunts, and were seen in the streets of the metropolis. Many persons were frozen to death; and large bodies of famished men wandered throughout the capital, begging bread and clothes.1 Wesley was not the man to witness such suffering without endeavouring to relieve it. "Great numbers," says Lloyd's Evening Post, "of poor people had pease pottage and barley broth given them at the Foundery, at the expense of Mr. Wesley; and a collection was made, in the same place of worship, for further supplying the necessities of the destitute, at which upwards of £100 was contributed."2 Considering the value of money at that period, this was not amiss for the poor Foundery Methodists. A third incident must be mentioned. We have just seen Wesley trying to relieve misery; we shall now see him endeavouring to put an end to vice. The Society for the Reformation of Manners was first instituted about the year 1677.3 From 1730 to 1757, the society was defunct. In the last mentioned year, and perhaps as one of the results of Methodism, it was revived. The approbation of the lord mayor of London, and of the court of aldermen, was obtained, Thousands of books of instruction were sent to parish officers and parish constables, to remind them of their duty. The laws against immorality were again enforced. Streets, and fields, and public houses were swept of their notorious offenders. In five years, about ten thousand persons were brought to justice, chiefly for gambling, swearing, sabbath breaking, lewdness, and selling obscene engravings.

There can be little doubt that Wesley was connected with

1 London Magazine, 1763, p. 48.

Lloyd's Evening Post, Jan. 26, 1763.

3 For a full account of the society, see the " Life and Times of the Rev. Samuel Wesley," pp. 213-224.

A "Pious Fraud."


the revival of this useful association. At all events, in 1763, 1763 when the society consisted of one hundred and sixty members, Age 60 nearly half of that number were Methodists.1 On January 30, the society met at Wesley's chapel, in West Street, Seven Dials; where he preached, before its members, the annual sermon, taking as his text the very scripture which had been selected by his father, when performing the same service sixtyfive years before: "Who will rise up with me against the wicked?" Wesley attached considerable importance to this sermon, as is seen from the fact, that he retired to Lewisham to compose and write it, and that it was immediately published in an octavo pamphlet of thirty pages. Three years afterwards, the society, a second time, ceased to be; chiefly through an action instituted against it in the King's Bench, where an adverse verdict was obtained, by the false swearing of a man whom the society subsequently convicted of wilful perjury. Still the death blow to the society was struck. Wesley writes: "They could never recover the expense of that suit. Lord, how long shall the ungodly triumph?"

In the early part of the year 1763, a shameful fraud was attempted upon Wesley, and is referred to in the following letter, published in the London Chronicle.

"April 5, 1763.

<< SIR,-Some time since, I heard a man in the street bawling, 'The Scripture Doctrine of Imputed Righteousness, asserted and maintained by the Rev. John Wesley.' I was a little surprised, not having published anything on the head; and more so when, upon reading it over, I found not one line of it was mine, though I remembered to have read something like it. Soon after, to show what I really do maintain, I published 'Thoughts on the Imputed Righteousness of Christ': mentioning therein that 'pious fraud,' which constrained me so to do.

"The modest author of the former publication now prints a second edition of it, and faces me down before all the world, yea, and proves, that it is mine.

"Would you not wonder, by what argument? Oh, the plainest in the world. 'There is not,' says he, 'the least fraud in the publication, nor imposition on Mr. Wesley; for the words are transcribed from the ninth and tenth volumes of his Christian Library.' But the Christian Library is

1 The figures were: Whitefield's followers, about 20; Wesley's, about 50; Churchmen, about 20; Dissenters, about 70.

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