HOW MR. WESLEY WAS LED INTO THE LIGHT OF FULL SALVATION.
Mr. Wesley was then in his twenty-third year, and Bishop Taylor was an eminent prelate in the English Episcopal Church.
"In the following year (1726) I met with Kempis' 'Christian Pattern.' The nature and extent of inward religion, the religion of the heart, now appeared to me in a stronger light than ever it had done before."
Thomas à Kempis was an Augustine monk, distinguished for his apostolic simplicity and purity. His "Christian Pattern" has been translated into all modern languages, and published in more than a thousand editions.
"In 1727, I read Mr. Law's 'Christian Perfection,' and 'Serious Call,' and more explicitly resolved to be all devoted to God, in body, soul, and spirit. In 1730 I began to be homo unius libri [a man of one book] to study (comparatively) no book but the Bible. I then saw, in a stronger light than ever before, that only one thing is needful, even faith that worketh by the love of God and man, all inward and outward holiness; and I groaned to love God with all my heart, and to serve Him with all my strength.
"January 1, 1733, I preached the sermon of the 'Circumcision of the heart'; which contains all that I now teach concerning salvation from all sin, and loving God with an undivided heart. In the same year I printed (the first time I ventured to print anything) for the use of my pupils, 'A Collection of Forms of Prayer;' and in this I spoke explicitly of giving 'the whole heart and the whole life to God.' This was then, as it is now, my idea of perfection, though I should have started at the word.
"In 1735, I preached my farewell sermon at Epworth, in Lincolnshire. In this, likewise, I spoke with the utmost clearness of having one design, one desire, one love, and of pursuing the one end of our life in all our words and actions.
"In January, 1738, I expressed my desire in these words: —
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!
"And I am still persuaded this is what the Lord Jesus hath bought for me 'with His own blood.
"Now, whether you desire and expect this blessing or not, is it not an astonishing thing that you, or any man living, should be disgusted at me for expecting it; and that they should persuade one another, that this hope is 'subversive of the very foundations of Christian experience'? Why then, whoever retains it cannot possibly have any Christian experience at all. Then, my brother, Mr. Fletcher, and I, and twenty thousand more, who seem both to love and fear God, are, in reality, children of the devil, and in the road to eternal damnation." — Journal, May, 1765.
"Many years since, I saw that without holiness no man shall see the Lord. I began by following after it and inciting all with whom I had any intercourse to do the same. Ten years after, God gave me a clearer view than I had before of the way how to attain it, namely, by faith in the Son of God. And immediately I declared to all, 'We are saved from sin, we are made holy by faith' This I testified in private, in public, in print and God confirmed it by a thousand witnesses "— Vol. vii p 38.
This was written in 1771. In 1744, nearly thirty years before, he wrote: —
"In the evening, while I was reading prayers at Snowsfield, I found such light and strength as I never remember to have had before. I saw every thought as well as action or word, just as it was rising in my heart, and whether it was right before God, or tainted with pride or selfishness.
"I waked the next morning, by the grace of God, in the same spirit; and about eight, being with two or three that believed in Jesus, I felt such an awe, and tender sense of the presence of God, as greatly confirmed me therein; so that God was before me all day long. I sought and found Him in every place; and could truly say, when I lay down at night, 'now I have lived a day.'" — Journal, Dec., 1744.
These paragraphs contain the substance which Mr. Wesley left in writing regarding his experience of full salvation. He seldom recorded his personal religious experience in his Journals, and yet we have as much regarding his experience of sanctification as of justification. The most he says about his justification was that at Aldersgate he felt "his heart strangely warmed." This is often quoted respecting his justification, while the foregoing statements are both as clear and as definite respecting his sanctification. There is just as much propriety, in the light of his Journals, in asserting that he did not claim to be justified, as that he did not claim to be sanctified.
His whole life and work, during a long and useful ministry, teach more positively than any words of his, that his consecration and faith received a Divine response in the blessed experience which he insisted upon in others, and into which he led so many thousands of his hearers. There is no reason for believing that John Wesley sent his people ahead of himself, or that he led them into richer fields of light, sweetness, and love, than he himself enjoyed.