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CHAPTER XV.


THE FULLNESS OF THE BLESSING A PREPARATION FOR CHRISTIAN WORK

O grant that nothing in my soul
May dwell, but thy pure love alone!
O may thy love possess me whole,
My joy, my treasure, and my crown!
Strange flames far from my heart remove;
My every act, word, thought be love.

— Tr. by John Wesley.


That I thy mercy may proclaim,
That all mankind thy truth may see,
Hallow thy great and glorious name,
And perfect holiness in me.

Give me a new, a perfect heart,
From doubt, and fear, and sorrow free;
The mind which was in Christ impart,
And let my spirit cleave to thee.

O that I now, from sin released,
Thy word may to the utmost prove
Enter into the promised rest,
The Canaan of thy perfect love.

Charles Wesley.


Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and uphold me with thy free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways and sinners shall be converted unto thee. — Psa. li, 12, 13.

He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. — Psa. cxxvi, 6.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch can not bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. — John xv, 4-6.

If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work. — 2 Tim. ii, 21.

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. — Phil. i, 9-11.

For this cause we also, since the day we heard of it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness. — Col. i, 9-11.



GOD expects abundant fruit of all his children. His expectations are measured by what he has bestowed. All other things being equal, he expects more of the one on whom he has bestowed ten talents than of the one on whom he has bestowed only five. And he expects more of the one on whom he has bestowed ten talents than of the one on whom he has bestowed but a single talent. Obligation, responsibility, duty, are measured by what we have received. Every Christian believer has received much from his fellow-disciples. Great good comes from association with those who are God's people, from the prayers that are offered, the hymns that are sung, the words of counsel and encouragement that are spoken, and from the inspiring examples of patience, fortitude, faith, devotion, zeal, and love that are constantly manifest. All this help received along the years must involve a vast debt that can only be discharged by the most faithful and loving service in behalf of others. The debt is ever increasing as the years go on, and nothing but the most inexcusable selfishness will deny the obligation or refuse to meet its fullest claims.

But what God does for us is of infinitely more value than anything or all things that our fellow-men can do for us. Everything that is good and beautiful comes from the hand of the heavenly Father. All of comfort and joy that earthly blessings bring comes from him. Whatever elevates us in the scale of being is his gift. All spiritual mercies, all grace, all present rest, all hopes and aspirations indulged in and cherished for future bliss and eternal victory, come from God. In truth, we have received everything from him and we owe him all love and loyal service.

When we have received any favor from God we ought to retire, if not into our closets, into our hearts, and say: I come, Lord, to restore to thee what thou hast given, and I freely relinquish it, to enter again into my own nothingness. For what is the most perfect creature in heaven or in earth in thy presence but a void capable of being filled with thee and by thee, as the air which is void and dark is capable of being filled with the light of the sun? Grant, therefore, O Lord, that I may never appropriate thy grace to myself any more than the air appropriates to itself the light of the sun, which withdraws it every day to restore it the next, there being nothing in the air that either appropriates its light or resists it. O give me the same facility of receiving and restoring thy grace and good works! I say thine, for I acknowledge the root from which they spring is in thee, not in me. — John Wesley: "Plain Account."


Again, Wesley says of the Christian and his relation to God:

All the commandments of God he accordingly keeps, and that with all his might; for his obedience is in proportion to his love, the source from whence it flows. And therefore, loving God with all his heart, he serves him with all his strength; he continually presents his soul and "body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God;" entirely and without reserve devoting himself, all he has, all he is, to his glory. All the talents he has, he constantly employs according to his Master's will; every power and faculty of his soul, every member of his body.

Agreeable to this his one desire, is the one design of his life; namely, "to do not his own will, but the will of him that sent him." His one intention at all times and in all places is not to please himself, but him whom his soul loveth. He hath a single eye; and because his "eye is single, his whole body is full of light. The whole is light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth enlighten the house." God reigns alone; all that is in the soul is "holiness to the Lord." There is not a motion in his heart but is according to his will. Every thought that arises points to him, and is in "obedience to the law of Christ." — John Wesley "Plain Account."


Now, these responsibilities can never be fully met unless the uttermost salvation is experienced. The duties we owe to our fellow-men and to God can never be rightly discharged unless we possess the fullness of the blessing of the gospel. And this involves the idea of a conscious, personal, and definite experience of salvation. Without such an experience, we can not accomplish the work God requires, nor can we exert the best possible influence upon those with whom we associate, nor can we succeed in winning souls to Christ.

Where Christian perfection is not strongly and explicitly preached, there is seldom any remarkable blessing from God, and consequently little addition to the society, and little life in the members of it. Therefore, if Jacob Rowell is grown faint, and says but little about it, do you supply his lack of service. Speak and spare not. Let not regard for any man induce you to betray the truth of God. Till you press the believers to expect full salvation now, you must not look for any revival. — Wesley's Journal, Vol. VI, p. 721.

To Miss H. A. Roe, 1782: In the success of Mr. Leech's preaching we have one proof of a thousand that the blessing of God always attends the publishing of full salvation as attainable now by simple faith. You should always have in readiness that little tract, "The Plain Account of Christian Perfection." There is nothing that would so effectually stop the mouths of those who call this "a new doctrine." All who thus object are really (though they suspect nothing less) seeking sanctification by works. If it be by works, then certainly these will need time, in order to the doing of these works. But if it is by faith, it is plain a moment is as a thousand years. Then God says (in the spiritual, as in the outward world), "Let there be light, and there is light." — Wesley's Works, Vol. VII, p. 195.

To his brother Charles, 1768: I rejoice to hear, from various persons, so good an account of the work of God in London. You did not come thither without the Lord; and you find your labor is not in vain. I doubt not but you will see more and more fruit, while you converse chiefly with them that are athirst for God. I find a wonderful difference in myself when I am among these, and when I am among fashionable Methodists. On this account the north of England suits me best, where so many are groaning after full redemption. — Wesley's Works, Vol. VI, p. 672.

To Rev. Samuel Beardsley, 1772: Dear Sammy, — It is a great blessing that your fellow-laborers and you are all of one mind. When that is so, the work of the Lord will prosper in your hands. It will go on widening, as well as deepening, while you draw in one yoke. If you desire it should deepen in believers, continually exhort them to go on unto perfection, steadily to use all the grace they have received, and every moment to expect full salvation. The "Plain Account of Christian Perfection" you should read yourself, more than once, and recommend it to all that are groaning for full redemption. — Wesley's Works, Vol. VII, p. 129.


The history of Methodism, and the history of the Christian Church in all ages, shows that the greatest spiritual results have been secured when the highest possible experience of Divine things has been taught and encouraged. When a holy ministry proclaims a free and full salvation, when professors of religion come to enjoy the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ there will ever be present the awakening, convicting, and converting grace of God. The combination of gospel truth and holy living must move the world, must convince gainsayers, and bring about pervasive and continuous revivals.

The cold-hearted, the indifferent, the backslidden, the worldly, the pleasure-loving professor of religion does not, and he can not while he remains in this condition, do what is demanded of him. First of all, the soul that would do the work which God has a right to expect, and which he does expect, must know that all the sins of the past are pardoned; he must know that he is fully justified; he must know that he is regenerated; he must know that he is adopted into the heavenly family; he must know that there has come to him the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire; that his heart is cleansed from all sin; that the enduement of power for all possible service is his; that he loves God with all his mind, might, and strength; that he loves his neighbor as himself; that he lives not for himself, but to benefit and bless his fellow-men and glorify God.

Remember that this experience is the privilege of every professor of religion; indeed, of every Church member and of every person who would be a child of God and an heir of the heavenly inheritance. It is not an experience that may be hoped for by only the select few, the cultured, the refined, the wealthy, the intellectual, the highly-favored, but rather it is for these, and also for the poorest, the humblest, the lowliest, the most obscure, those least esteemed of men, and those who most distrust themselves. It is for servants and handmaidens; for young men who see visions, and old men who dream dreams; for children and youth; for sons and daughters; for as many as the Lord our God shall call; and surely he calls every one who reads these words, or who shall ever read the all-including promises of God as found alike in the Old Testament and the New Testament. The experience may be attained; and, when attained, then one has the preparation requisite for the wise, right, and successful performance of all the work of God. This is the experience necessary for the private Christian. With it he will be salt and light; he will exert a precious influence whether at home or abroad, whether in the shop or store, or wherever he may toil for his daily bread. Every Church official, every local preacher, every Sunday-school worker, every Epworth League officer, every steward, every trustee, every class-leader, surely ought to have this blessed experience. These are in positions of honor and responsibility; their example will tell on all the membership, from the oldest to the youngest. If these could only have the fullness of the blessing of the gospel, how the Churches would thrive and grow, and how revivals would everywhere prevail; how converts would be multiplied; how the lambs of the flock would be fed and sheltered, and the coming of the King be hastened!

Surely every pastor, every one called to preach the gospel, every one having the care of precious souls for whom the Lord of Glory died, ought to have this experience. Nothing will answer for a substitute. If this be lacking, nothing can be found to supply its place. Eloquence, oratory, scholarship, dignity of behavior, faithfulness in the performance of routine duties, hard study in the preparation of sermons, vast intellectual attainments, wealth of resources, highest appointments, — all, all will be in vain without this precious, glorious experience. There may be large congregations, abundant salaries, elegant parsonages, and splendid churches; the multitudes may be pleased, flattered, and possibly instructed in many things; but sinners are not convicted, alarmed, and in penitence brought to Christ; nor are believers built up in the faith; men are not saved from their sins, and made meet for heaven, unless the pastor has this fullness of the gospel, or is earnestly seeking for it. How can any soul frame an excuse for not seeking and finding this experience? Surely not one can be found that will be valid in this world, much less at the judgment seat.

The experience is attainable by each and every one. The plan of redemption provides for this in every case. If it is not realized, it is not the fault of God. The conditions upon which it may be secured are possible to all. Why, O why, should any one hesitate to accept the gift God so freely offers?

Fields ripe for the harvest wave on every hand. The Master calls for reapers. He waits for willing souls. He will completely prepare and equip each toiler for his task. A heart cleansed from all sin, a soul filled with love to God and man, and the whole nature strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, and a quenchless longing for the salvation of the souls for whom Christ died, — all these being included in the experience of the fullness of the blessing of the gospel, and the preparation is complete for the performance of all the work that God expects from his children.

The centuries accumulate. It is almost nineteen hundred years since the Lord of life and glory left this redeemed world to take his place on the right hand of God the Father. With infinite love and unspeakable yearning he waits for the consummation of his toil, and suffering, and death. More than half of all the millions of earth have never heard the name of Jesus. They never will hear it, except from human lips. The disciples of Jesus must carry the gospel to all the nations. They can only do this effectively when they are fully saved themselves.

God grant that each one reading these closing words may have the experience, and then, by constant holy living, importunate, all-conquering prayer, and ever-faithful labors of love for perishing souls, prove to a wondering world its reality, sweetness, and power!

Jesus, thine all-victorious love
Shed in my heart abroad:
Then shall my feet no longer rove,
Rooted and fixed in God.

O that in me the sacred fire
Might now begin to glow,
Burn up the dross of base desire,
And make the mountains flow!

O that it now from heaven might fall,
And all my sins consume!
Come, Holy Ghost, for thee I call;
Spirit of burning, come!

Refining fire, go through my heart;
Illuminate my soul;
Scatter thy life through every part,
And sanctify the whole.

My steadfast soul, from falling free,
Shall then no longer move,
While Christ is all the world to me,
And all my heart is love.


Charles Wesley.