MR. WESLEY NOT CONFINED TO ANY ONE MODE OF EXPRESSION.
"I HAVE no particular fondness for the term perfection. It seldom occurs, either in my preaching or writings. It is my opponents who thrust it upon me continually, and ask me what I mean by it. So did Bishop Gibson, till by his advice I publicly declared what I did not mean by it, and what I did. This, I supposed, might be best done in the form of a sermon, having a text prefixed, wherein that term occurred. But that text is there used, only as an occasion or introduction to the subject. I do not build any doctrine thereupon, nor undertake critically to explain it.
"What is the meaning of perfection? is another question; but that it is a Scriptural term, is undeniable. Therefore, none ought to object to the use of the term, whatever they may do to this or that explication of it. I am very willing to consider whatever you have to object to what is advanced under the first head of that sermon. But I still think that perfection is only another term for holiness, or the image of God in man. 'God made man perfect,' I think, is just the same as, 'He made him holy,' or 'in His own image.'"— Works, vol. vi. p. 535.
"The moment a sinner is justified, his heart is cleansed in a low degree; but yet he has not a clean heart, in the full, proper sense, till he is made perfect in love." — Journal, 1744, vol. v. p. 284.
"I spoke, one by one, to the society at Hutton-Rudby. They were about eighty in number; of whom near seventy were believers, and sixteen (probably) renewed in love. —Journal, June, 1761.
"We returned to London. Sunday, 29, we had a comfortable love-feast, at which several declared the blessings they had found lately. We need not be careful by what name to call them, while the thing is beyond dispute, Many have, and many do, daily experience an unspeakable change. After being deeply convinced of inbred sin, particularly of pride, anger, self-will, and unbelief, in a moment they feel all faith and love; no pride, no self-will, or anger. And from that moment, they have continual fellowship with God, always rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks." — Journal, Dec., 1761.
"I met again with those who believe God has delivered them from the root of bitterness. Their number increases daily. I know not if fifteen or sixteen have not received the blessing this week." — Journal, March 23, 1761.
"Monday and Tuesday, I was employed in visiting the classes (in London); and I was much comforted among them. There was such an hunger and thirst in all who have tasted of the grace of God, after a full renewal in His image." — Journal, April, 1762.
"Here I found some who had been long laboring in the fire, and toiling to work themselves into holiness. To show them a more excellent way, I preached on Rom. x. 6, 7, 8. — Journal, July 23, 1762.
On the last day of 1762, Mr. Wesley writes in his journal: "Abundance have been convinced of sin; very many have found peace with God, and in London only I believe, full two hundred have been brought into glorious liberty."
"Many were convinced of sin, many justified, and many backsliders healed. But the peculiar work of the season has been, what St. Paul calls, 'the perfecting the saints.'" — Journal, 1763.
"A little after preaching, one came to me who believed God had just set her soul at full liberty." — Journal, June 6, 1763.
"In the following week, I spoke to each member of the society, and had much satisfaction among them. Concerning several of them, there is all reasonable proof that they have given God all their heart. Many others are groaning after full salvation; and all the rest are free from outward blame. Why may not every Christian community come as far as this? " — Journal, June, 1765.
"I scarce ever saw the people here (Newcastle) so much alive to God; particularly those who believe they are saved from sin. I was ready to say, 'It is good to be here;' but I must not build tabernacles. I am to be a wanderer on earth, and desire no rest till my spirit returns to God." — Journal, Aug., 1765.
Letter to Mrs. E. Bennis, 1770: —
"Nothing is more clear, according to the plain Bible account, than sanctification, — pure love reigning in the heart and life." - vol. vii. p. 53.
To Rev. Joseph Benson, 1770: —
"But I have no time to throw away in contending for words especially where the thing is allowed. And you allow the whole thing which I contend for; an entire deliverance from sin, a recovery of the whole image of God, the loving God with all our heart, soul, and strength. And you believe God is able to give you this; yea, to give it you in an instant. You trust He will. Oh, hold fast this also; this blessed hope, which He has wrought in your heart! And with all zeal and diligence, confirm the brethren, — 1. In holding fast that whereto they have attained; namely, the remission of all their sins, by faith in a bleeding Lord. 2. In expecting a second change, whereby they shall be saved from all sin, and perfected in love.
"If they like to call this 'receiving the Holy Ghost,' they may; only the phrase, in that sense, is not Scriptural, and not quite proper; for they all 'received the Holy Ghost,' when they were justified. God then 'sent forth the Spirit of His Son into their hearts, crying, Abba Father.' " — Works, vol. vii. p. 71.
To W. Churchey, 1771: —
"Entire sanctification, or Christian perfection, is neither more nor less than pure love; love expelling sin, and governing both the heart and life of a child of God." — Vol. vii. p. 82.
"Wednesday, 26, I preached at the Grange, to a still livelier and larger congregation; but I found the liveliest of all at Derry-Anvil. Six or seven of this little society still rejoice in the pure love of God. Thus has God His secret ones, in a little corner of the land, surrounded with bogs, and out of all road." — Journal, July, 1771.
"On Saturday a few met at Mr. Hunter's room, who were athirst for full sanctification. For this they wrestled with God, till a young man found the blessing, as several others have done since." — Journal, June, 1772.
To Miss H. A. Roe, 1776: —
"Your disorder naturally sinks the spirits, and occasions heaviness and dejection. Can you, notwithstanding this, 'rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks?' Certainly before the root of sin is taken away, believers may live above the power of it. Yet what a difference between the first love, and the pure love! You can explain this to Mr. Roe by your own experience. Let him follow on, and how soon may he attain it! " - Works, vol. vii. p. 190.
"In the evening I preached at Bradford, where I was well pleased to find many, both men and women, who had never suffered any decay since they were perfected in love." —Journal, April, 1780.
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." — Vol. vii. p. 181.
To F. Garretson, 1785: —
"And it will be well, as soon as any of them find peace with God, to exhort them to 'go on to perfection.' The wore explicitly and strongly you press all believers to aspire after full sanctification, as attainable now by simple faith, the more the whole work of God will prosper." — Vol. vii. p. 184.
"There is scarce any expression in Holy Writ, which has given more offense than this, — the word perfect is what many cannot bear. The very sound of it is an abomination to them, and whosoever preaches perfection (as the phrase is), i.e., asserts that it is attainable in this life, runs great hazard of being accounted by them worse than a heathen man or a publican.
"And hence some have advised, wholly to lay aside the use of those expressions; 'because they have given so great offense.' But are they not found in the oracles of God? If so, by what authority can any messenger of God lay them aside, even though all men should be offended? We have not so learned Christ, neither may we thus give place to the devil. Whatsoever God hath spoken, that will we speak, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear, knowing, that then alone can any minister of Christ be 'pure from the blood of all men," when he hath 'not shunned to declare unto them all the counsel of God." " — Sermons, vol. i. p. 355.
Mr. Wesley used a great variety of terms expressive of this work, and grace. In those given we have: "Perfect love," "glorious liberty," "the whole image of God," "full salvation," "pure love of God," "second change," "renewed in love," "full sanctification," "holiness," "a clean heart," "entire salvation," "Christian perfection," "perfected in love," "saved from sin," "the root of sin taken away," "sanctification," "full renewal in His image," and "cleansed from all sin." He used the term "renewed in love" more frequently than any other.