THE LENGTH OF TIME BETWEEN REGENERATION AND ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION.
"WITH God, one day is as a thousand years. It plainly follows that the quantity of time is nothing to Him. Centuries, years, months, days, hours, and moments, are exactly the same. Consequently He can as well sanctify in a day after we are justified, as a hundred years. There is no difference at all, unless we suppose Him to be such a one as ourselves. Accordingly, we see, in fact, that some of the most unquestionable witnesses of sanctifying grace were sanctified within a FEW DAYS after they were justified. Oh, why do we not encourage all to expect this blessing every hour from the moment they are justified?" —Works, vol. iv. p. 451.
"They met again at Macclesfield the next night, and six or seven more were filled with peace and joy in believing. So were one or two more every night till the Monday following, when there was another general shower of grace. And many believed that 'the blood of Christ had cleansed them from all sin.' I spoke to these (forty in all), one by one. Some of them said they received that blessing, ten days, some seven, some four, some three days, after they found peace with God. What marvel, Since 'one day is with God as a thousand years! ' "- Works, vol. vii. p. 881.
To a member of the society: —
"Every one, though born 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 considerable tract of time between the one and the other. A year or a month is the same with God as a thousand. If 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, without waiting till we have either done or suffered more. Why should not this be the accepted time? " — Works, vol. vi. p. 764.
" The next morning I spoke severally with those who believed they were sanctified. They were fifty-one in all, — twenty-one men, twenty-one widows or married women, and nine young women or children. In one of these the change was wrought three weeks after she was justified; in three, seven days after it; in one, five days; and in Samuel Lutwhich, aged fourteen, two days only." - Works, vol. vii. p. 389.
"After meeting the society (at Whitby), I talked with a sensible woman, whose experience seemed peculiar. She said: 'A few days before Easter last, I was deeply convinced of sin; and in Easter week, I knew my sins were forgiven, and was filled with 'joy and peace in believing.' But in about eighteen days, I was convinced, in a dream, of the necessity of a higher salvation; and I mourned day and night, in agony of desire to be thoroughly sanctified; till on the twenty-third day after my justification, I found a total change, together with a clear witness that the blood of Jesus had cleansed me from all unrighteousness." — Journal, June, 1761.
"The case of Mr. Timmins is no less remarkable. He had been a notorious sinner. He was deeply wounded two months since. Ten days ago, on a Friday, God spake peace to his soul. The Sunday following, after a violent struggle, he sunk down as dead. He was cold as clay. After about ten minutes he came to himself, and cried, 'A new heart, a new heart!' He said he felt himself in an instant entirely emptied of sin, and filled with God. Brother Barry, likewise, had been justified but a few days, before God gave him purity of heart." - Journal, July 1762.
"'During his last prayer, I was quite overwhelmed with the power of God. I felt an inexpressible change in the very depth of my heart; and from that hour I have felt no anger, no pride, no wrong temper of any kind; nothing contrary to the pure love of God, which I feel continually. I desire nothing but Christ; and I have Christ always reigning in my heart. I want nothing; He is my sufficient portion in time and eternity.'
"Such an instance (Grace Paddy) I never knew before; such an instance I never read: a person convinced of sin, converted to God, and renewed in love, within twelve hours! Yet it is by no means incredible, seeing one day is with God as a thousand years." - Journal, Sept. 1765.
"I asked her that cried so violently in the morning, what was the matter with her. She said, 'I was so overwhelmed with the power and love of God that I could not hide it.' When I questioned her farther, she said, 'A quarter of a year ago, one Saturday night, I was quite convinced I was a sinner, and afraid of dropping into hell; but on Sunday I felt the pardoning love of God; yet I had many doubts till Monday evening, when they were all taken away in a moment. After this, I saw and felt the wickedness of my heart, and longed to be delivered from it; and on Sunday I was delivered, and had as clear a witness of this, as of my justification.'" — Journal, June, 1770.
"Although, therefore, it usually pleases God to interpose some time between justification and sanctification, yet we must not fancy this to be an invariable rule. All who think this must think we are sanctified by works, or which comes to the same, by suffering; for otherwise, what is time necessary for? It must be either to do, or to suffer. Whereas if nothing be required but simple faith, a moment is as good as an age." — Works, vol. vii. p. 14.
Letter to Thomas Rankin in 1774: —
"I have been lately thinking a good deal on one point, wherein, perhaps, we have all been wanting. We have not made it a rule, as soon as ever persons are justified, to remind them of 'going on unto perfection.' WHEREAS THIS IS THE VERY TIME PREFERABLE TO ALL OTHERS. They have then the simplicity of little children; and they are fervent in spirit, ready to cut off a right hand or to pluck out the right eye. But if we once suffer this fervor to subside, we shall find it hard enough to bring them again even to this point."
In the early part of Mr. Wesley's ministry, he believed that entire sanctification was almost always a gradual work, to be received at or near death, and that the newly converted child of God could not be fully saved, except in rare cases, until some time had elapsed. But, as numerous examples rapidly multiplied around him, the genuineness of whose experience he saw no reason to doubt, he soon came to fully accept the doctrine of instantaneous sanctification, by faith, at any time after conversion. (See Section viii.)