THE SELECT SOCIETIES WERE FOR THOSE ENTIRELY SANCTIFIED.
"I SAW it might be useful to give some advice to all those who continued in the light of God's countenance, which the rest of their brethren did not want, and probably could not receive. So I desired a small number of such as appeared to be in this state, to spend an hour with me every Monday morning. My design was, not only to direct them how to press after perfection; to exercise their every grace, and improve every talent they had received; and to incite them to love one another more, and to watch more carefully over each other; but also to have a select company to whom I might unbosom myself on all occasions, without reserve; and whom I could propose to all their brethren as a pattern of love, of holiness, and of good works." — Works, vol. v. p.184.
"At twelve I met about thirty persons (at Lewisham), who had experienced a deep work of God; and I appointed an hour for meeting them every week. Whether they are saved from sin or no, they are certainly full of faith and love, and peculiarly helpful to my soul." — Journal, March, 1761.
"I met the select society (at Worcester). How swiftly has God deepened His work in these! I have seen very few, either in Bristol or London, who are more clear in their experience. The account all whom I had time to examine gave, was Scriptural and rational. And, suppose they spoke true, they are witnesses of the perfection which I preach." — Journal, March, 1764.
To Mrs. Marston, 1770: —
"Heaviness you may sometimes feel; but you never need come into darkness. Beware of supposing darkness, that is, unbelief, to be better than the light of faith. To suppose this is one of the gross errors of popery. 'He that followeth me,' says our Lord, 'shall not walk in darkness.' That you are tempted a thousand ways will do you no hurt. In all these things you shall be more than conqueror. I hope the select society meets constantly, and that you speak freely to each other. Go on humbly and steadily, denying yourselves, and taking up your cross." — Works, vol. vii. p. 125.
"After preaching at five, I met the select society, who seem all to have tasted the same blessing." — Journal, April, 1764.
"I met the select society in Whitby, consisting of sixtyfive members. I believe all of these were saved from sin, and most of them walked in glorious liberty. Many of them spoke with admirable simplicity; and their word was like fire. Immediately the fire kindled, and spread from heart to heart." — Works, vol. vii. p. 388, 1770.
"I met the select society at six (at York), and had the pleasure to find that some who had lost the great blessing for months or years, had recovered it with large increase."' — Journal, June, 1770.
"In meeting the select society (at Witney), I was much comforted to find so few of them losing ground, and the far greater part still witnessing that 'the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin.'" — Journal, Oct., 1775.
"I was much refreshed among this loving people (Worcester); especially by the select society, the far greater part of whom could witness that God had saved them from inward as well as outward sin." — Journal, March, 1766.
"I was afterwards agreeably surprised, in examining the select society (at Hutton-Rudby). Many of them have been members thereof, for near twenty years. And not one of them has lost the pure love of God ever since they first received it." — Journal, June, 1779.
"I went on to Leeds, and, after preaching, met the select society, consisting of about sixty members; most of whom can testify, that 'the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.'" — Journal, July, 1782.
"I met the select society (at St. Mary's); most of whom are clearly perfected in love." — Journal, March, 1786.
"I spent an agreeable hour with the select society (at Birmingham). Most of them still enjoy the pure love of God, and the rest are earnestly panting after it."' — Journal, March, 1787.
"In the evening I met, for the second time, the bands (at Dublin). I admired them much. They are more open than those either in London or Bristol; and I think here is a greater number of those that are now clearly perfected in love, than I now find even in London itself." — Journal April, 1789.
To Mr. E. Lewby, 1791: —
"A man that is not a thorough friend to Christian perfection, will easily puzzle others, and thereby weaken, if not destroy, any select society." — Works, vol. vii. p. 253.
Dr. Stevens, in his Church History, vol. ii. p. 458, says: "Mr. Wesley established meetings for penitents and backsliders, and select societies for persons who were especially interested in the subject of Christian perfection."
Mr. Tyerman says: "The select societies were taken from the bands, and were composed of those who seemed to walk in the light of God's countenance." — Tyerman, vol. i. p. 444.