THE NECESSITY OF PREACHING HOLINESS.
Dr. STEVENS, in his "History of Methodism," says of the early Methodist preachers: —
"Every one of them, at his reception into the traveling ministry, avowed his belief in the doctrine, and that he was 'groaning' after, if he had not already attained, this exalted grace. Perhaps no single fact affords a better explanation of the marvelous success of Methodism.
"Wesley observed and declared that wherever it was preached, revivals usually prevailed. 'It is,' he said, 'the grand depositum which God has given to the people called Methodist, and chiefly to propagate this, it appears, God raised them up. Their mission was not to form a religious party, but to spread holiness over these lands.' The doctrine of personal sanctification was, in fine, the great potential idea of Methodism . . . . These holy men, in making an entire public sacrifice of themselves, did so as a part of an entire consecration to God, for the purpose of their own entire sanctification, as well as their usefulness to others." — History of Methodism, vol. ii. p. 406.
"Therefore let all our preachers make a point to preach of perfection to believers constantly, strongly, explicitly." . . . "I doubt not we are not explicit enough in speaking on full sanctification, either in public or private." — Vol. vi. p. 529.
"In the present dispensation He is undoubtedly aiming at that point, to spread holiness over the land. It is our wisdom to have this always in view, inward and outward holiness. A thousand things will be presented by men and devils, to divert us from our point. These we are to watch against continually, as they will be continually changing their shape. But let your eye be single; aim still at one thing; — holy, loving faith; giving God the whole heart. And incite all to this; one love, one present and eternal heaven." — Works, vol. vi. p. 778.
"The more I converse with the believers in Cornwall, the more I am convinced that they have sustained great loss, for want of hearing the doctrine of Christian perfection clearly and strongly enforced. I see, wherever this is not done, the believers grow dead and cold. Nor can this be prevented, but by keeping up in them an hourly expectation of being perfected in love. I say an hourly expectation; for to expect it at death, or some time hence, is much the same as not expecting it at all." — Journal, Sept. 1762.
To Mr. Merryweather, 1766: —
"Where Christian perfection is not strongly and explicitly preached, there is seldom any remarkable blessing from God; and, consequently, little 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." — Works, vol. vi. p. 761.
To Charles Wesley, 1766: —
"Insist everywhere on full redemption receivable now, by faith alone! consequently, to be looked for now. You are made, as it were, for this very thing. Just here you are in your element . . . . Press the instantaneous blessing, and then I shall have more time for my peculiar calling, enforcing the gradual work." — Works, English edition, vol. xii. p. 122.
To John Bredin: —
"By foolish complaisance, our preachers in Scotland have often done harm. Be all a Methodist; and strongly insist on full salvation to be received now, by simple faith." — Wesleyan Times, May, 1761.
To Mrs. Crosby, 1766: —
"Do they gain ground in London? I am afraid [Christian] perfection should be forgotten. Encourage Richard Blackwell and Mr. Colley to speak plainly, and to press believers to the constant pursuit, and earnest expectation, of it. A general faintness, in this respect, is fallen upon the whole kingdom. Sometimes I seem almost weary of striving against the stream of both preachers and people." — Works, vol. vii. p. 29.
To Miss Bosanquet (afterward Mrs. Fletcher), 1767: —
"You judge right. I never knew, till you wrote me word, that Richard Taylor had been at Leytonstone at all. At this conference, it will be determined whether all our preachers, or none, shall continually insist upon Christian perfection." — Works, vol. vii. p. 60.
To Miss Jane Hilton, 1769: —
"I believe you may speak without reserve to brother Howard. He is a cool, thinking man. But does he preach Christian perfection clearly and explicitly? Which of your other preachers does?" — Works, vol. vii. p. 43.
To Mrs. Rev. John Fletcher, 1770: —
"I am glad Richard Taylor is of use. He will be more and more so, if he continues simple of heart, and speaks explicitly of full redemption, and exhorts believers to accent it now! The same rule, it will be well for you to observe in conversation with all that are in earnest. Peace be with your spirit!" — Works, vol. vii. p. 62.
"I hope he is not ashamed to preach full salvation, receivable now, by faith. This is the word which God will always bless, and which the devil peculiarly hates; therefore, he is constantly stirring up both his own children, and the weak children of God, against it." — Letter to Mrs. Bennis, 1771.
To his brother Charles, 1772: —
"I find almost all our preachers, in every circuit, have done with Christian perfection. They say, they believe it, but they never preach it; or not once in a quarter. What is to be done? Shall we let it drop, or make a point of it?" — Works, vol. vi. p. 673.
To Rev. F. Wolf, 1772: —
"Let both of you strongly exhort the believers every where, to 'go on to perfection;' otherwise, they cannot keep what they have." — Works, vol. vii. p. 122
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." — Works, vol. vii. p. 129.
To Miss Pywell, 1778: —
"One part of your work, is to stir up all who have believed to go on to perfection, and every moment to expect the full salvation which is received by simple faith." — Vol. vii. p. 36.
To Mrs. Jane Barton, 1774: —
"I am glad sister Crosby has been at Beverley, and that you had an opportunity of hearing her. She is useful wheresoever she goes; particularly in exciting believers to go on to perfection." — Works, vol. vii. p. 46.
To Miss Ritchie, 1774: —
"And one means of retaining the pure love of God is, the exhorting others to press earnestly after it. When you meet on a Sunday morning, I doubt not but this will be the chief matter both of your prayers and conversation. You may then expect to be more and more abundantly endued with power from on high; witnessing that He is faithful and just both to forgive us our sins, and also to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." — Works, vol. vii. p. 173.
To Rev. Joseph Benson, 1774: —
"I am glad you 'press all believers, to aspire after the full liberty of the children of God. They must not give up their faith, in order to do this: herein you formerly seemed to be in some mistake. Let them go on from faith to faith; from weak faith, to that strong faith, which not only conquers but casts out sin. Meantime it is certain, many call themselves believers who do not even conquer sin; who are strangers to the whole inward kingdom of God, and void of the whole fruit of the Spirit." — Works, vol. vii. p. 74.
"Wednesday, 14. — I preached at Tiverton; and on Thursday went on to Launceston. Here I found the plain reason, why the work of God had gained no ground in this circuit all the year. The preachers had given up the Methodist testimony. Either they did not speak of perfection at all (the peculiar doctrine committed to our trust), or they spoke of it only in general terms, without urging the believers to 'go on unto perfection,' and to expect it every moment. And wherever this is not earnestly done, the work of God does not prosper." — Journal, Aug., 1776.
To Rev. Zechariah Tewdall, 1779: —
"Wherever you are, be ready to acknowledge what God has done for your soul; and earnestly exhort all the believers to expect full salvation." — Works, vol. vii. p. 154.
"Edinburgh, Thursday, 17, I examined the society. In five years I found five members had been gained! Ninety-nine being increased to a hundred and four. What then have our preachers been doing all this time? 1. They have preached four evenings in the week, and on Sunday morning; the other mornings they have fairly given up. 2. They have taken great care not to speak too plain, lest they should give offense, 3. When Mr. Brackenbury preached the old Methodist doctrine, one of them said, 'You must not preach such doctrine here. The doctrine of perfection is not calculated for the meridian of Edinburgh.' Waiving then all other hindrances, is it any wonder, that the work of God has not prospered here?" — Journal, June, 1779.
To Mr. Robert Hopkins, 1781: —
"It is good for you to hold fast what you have attained, and to be continually aspiring after this; and you will never find more life in your own soul, than when you are earnestly exhorting others to go on unto perfection. Many will blame you for doing it; but regard not that: go on through honor and dishonor. 'This one thing I do,' is your motto." — Works, vol. vii. p. 252.
"I earnestly, desire, that all our preachers would seriously consider the preceding account (Rev. Alexander Mather's experience), and let them not be content, never to speak against the great salvation, either in public or private; and never to discourage either by word, or deed, any that think they have attained it. No; but prudently encourage them to hold fast whereunto they have attained, and strongly and explicitly exhort all believers to go on to perfection; yea, to expect full salvation from sin every moment, by mere grace, through simple faith." — Arminian Magazine, Jan., 1780.
To Rev. Samuel Beardsley, 1775: —
"The more pains you take the more blessing you will find; especially in preaching full salvation, receivable now, by faith."
"Exhort all the believers, strongly and explicitly, to go on to perfection, and to expect every blessing God has promised, not to-morrow, but to-day."
"Everywhere exhort the believers to expect fall salvation now by simple faith."
To Miss Ritchie, 1782: —
"That point, entire salvation from inbred sin, can hardly ever be insisted upon, either in preaching or prayer, without a particular blessing. Honest Isaac Brown firmly believes this doctrine, that we are to be saved from all sin in this life. But I wish, when opportunity serves, you would encourage him, 1. To preach Christian perfection, constantly, strongly, and explicitly: 2. Explicitly to assert and prove, that it may be received now; and, 3. (which indeed is implied therein), that it is to be received by simple faith." — Works, vol. vii. p. 181.
To Rev. Joseph Benson, 1782: —
"I have no objection to your printing a few copies of those two sermons, to oblige your friends in the neighborhood. I doubt we are not explicit enough, in speaking on full sanctification, either in public or private." — Works, vol. vii. p. 81.
To Rev. Robert Hopkins, 1784: —
"The return you are to make for the blessings you have received, is to declare them to all mankind; and to exhort all believers, strongly and explicitly, to go on to perfection. You never need lose what you now experience; but may increase therein till your spirit returns to God. — Works, vol. vii. p. 252.
To Rev. A. Clark, 1786: —
"You do well insisting upon full and present salvation, whether men will hear or forbear." — Vol. vii. p. 203.
In 1790, two years before Mr. Wesley died, he wrote to Robert Carr Brackenbury, Esq.: —
"I am glad brother D—— has more light with regard to full sanctification. This doctrine is the grand despositum which God has lodged with the people called Methodists; and for the sake of propagating this chiefly He appeared to have raised us up." — Works, vol. vii. p. 153.
To Rev. John Booth, in 1791, two months before Mr. Wesley's death: —
"Wherever you have opportunity of speaking to believers, urge them to go on to perfection. Spare no pains; and God, our own God, still give you His blessing." — Works, vol. vii. p. 238.