ADVICE TO THOSE POSSESSING PERFECT LOVE.
"In the afternoon I talked with several of those who believe they are saved from sin (at Leeds); and, after a close examination, I found reason to hope that fourteen of them were not deceived. In the evening I expounded the thirteenth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, and exhorted all to weigh themselves in that balance, and see if they were not 'found wanting.'" — Journal, April, 1761.
To a member of the society, 1763: —
"The nicest point of all which relates to Christian perfection, is that which you inquire of. Thus much is certain: they that love God with all their heart, and all men as themselves, are Scripturally perfect. And surely such there are; otherwise the promise of God would be a mere mockery of human weakness. Hold fast this: but then remember, on the other hand, you have this treasure in an earthen vessel; you dwell in a poor, shattered house of clay, which presses down the immortal spirit. Hence all your thoughts, words, and actions are so imperfect; So far from coming up to the standard (that law of love, which, but for the corruptible body, your soul would answer in all instances), that you may well say, till you go to Him you love, —
'Every moment, Lord, I need the merit of Thy death.'"
— Works, vol. vi. p. 767.
To Mrs. Crosby, 1765: —
"But whatever you find now, beware you do not deny what you had once received: I do not say, 'a Divine assurance that you should never sin, or sustain any spiritual loss.' I know not that ever you received this. But you certainly were saved from sin; and that as clearly, and in as high degree, as ever Sally Ryan was. And if you have sustained any loss in this, believe, and be made whole.
"A general temptation now is, the denying what God had wrought. Guard all whom you converse with from this: and from fancying great grace can be preserved without great watchfulness and self-denial." — Works, vol. vii. p. 28.
"I was considering how it was, that so many who were once filled with love, are now weak and faint. And the case is plain; the invariable rule of God's proceeding is, 'From him that that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath.' Hence, it is impossible that any should retain what they receive, without improving it. Add to this, that the more we have received, the more of care and labor is required, the more watchfulness and prayer, the more circumspection and earnestness in all manner of conversation. Is it any wonder, then, that they who forget this, should soon lose what they had received? Nay, who were taught to forget it? Not to watch! Not to pray, — under pretence of praying always! " — Journal, Feb., 1765.
"From what not only you but many others likewise have experienced, we find there is very frequently a kind of wilderness state, not only after justification, but even after deliverance from sin; and I doubt whether the sermon upon that state might not give you light in this case also. But the most frequent cause of this darkness or distress, I believe, is evil reasoning: by this, three in four of those who cast away their confidence are gradually induced so to do. And if this be the cause, is there any way to regain that deliverance but by resuming your confidence? " — Works, vol. vi. p. 767.
To a young disciple, 1769: —
"To set the state of perfection too high, is the surest way to drive it out of the world. The substance of that test, I believe, I have seen; and I judge it not consistent with humanity; I mean with the state of a human soul, as long as it is united to a corruptible body. Do not puzzle yourself any more with these nice inquiries; but, in order to resettle your judgment, give another deliberate reading to the 'Farther Thoughts,' or the 'Plain Account of Christian Perfection.' He that long ago gave you to taste of His pardoning love, gave you afterward a taste of His pure love." — Works, vol. vii. p. 92.
To Mrs. Rev. John Fletcher, 1770: —
"It is not strange if the leading of one soul be very different from that of another. The same Spirit worketh in every one; and yet worketh several ways, according to His own will. It concerns us to follow our own light; seeing we are not to be judged by another's conscience." — Works, vol. vii. p. 61.
"Always remember, the essence of Christian holiness is simplicity and purity; one design, one desire; entire devotion to God. But this admits of a thousand degrees and variations, and certainly it will be proved by a thousand temptations; but in all these things you shall be more than conqueror." — Works, vol. vi. p. 774.
To Mrs. Elizabeth Bennis, 1770: —
"Just now we have many persons all over England that are exactly in the state you describe. They were some time since renewed in love, and did then rejoice evermore; but after a few years, months, or weeks, they were moved from their steadfastness; yet several of these have within a few months recovered all they had lost, and some with increase; being far more established than ever they were before: and why may it not be so with you? " — Works, vol. vii. p. 51.
"It is true we cannot judge of ourselves by the measure of our joy; the most variable of all our sensations, and frequently depending, in a great degree, on the state of our blood and spirits. But if you take love, joy, peace, meekness, gentleness, and resignation together, I know no surer rule whereby to judge of your state to God-ward." - Works, vol. vi. p. 773.
To Miss Mary Stokes, 1771: —
"Shall I give you a few advices? 1. Keep that safe which God has given; never let slip any blessing you have received. Regard none who tell you, 'You must lose it.' No; you may have more or less of joy. This depends upon a thousand circumstances: but you never need lose one degree of love. 2. You never will, if you are a careful steward of the manifold gifts of God. 'To him that hath' (that is, uses what he hath), 'it shall be given' still, and that more abundantly. Therefore, 3. Use your every grace. Stir up the gift of God that is in you. Be zealous, be active, according to your strength. Speak for God wherever you are. But, meantime, 4. Be humble! Let all that mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus. Pray for the whole spirit of humility, that you may still feel you are nothing and may feel those words,
'All might, all majesty, all praise
All glory be to Christ my Lord!'"
— Works, vol. vii. p. 140.
"As long as we dwell in a house of clay, it is liable to affect the mind; sometimes by dulling or darkening the understanding, and sometimes more directly by damping and depressing the soul, and sinking it into distress and heaviness. In this state, doubt or fear, of one kind or another, will naturally arise. And the prince of this world, who well knows whereof we are made, will not fail to improve the occasion, in order to disturb, though he cannot pollute, the heart which God hath cleansed from all unrighteousness." - Works, vol. vi. p. 776.
To Miss Bolton, 1771: —
"At length I have snatched an hour to repeat to you in writing the advices which I gave you before, 1. Keep that safe which God has given you: never let slip any blessing which you have received. Regard none who tell you, 'You must lose it.' No; you never need lose one degree of love, 2. You never will, provided you are a careful steward of the manifold gifts of God. To him that hath, that is, useth what he hath, it shall be given still, and that more abundantly. Therefore, 3. Use your every grace. Stir up the gift of God that is in you. Be zealous! Be active! Spare no one, Speak for God, wherever you are. But, meantime, 4. Be humble: let all that mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus. And be clothed with humility. Pray that you may always feel that you are nothing, less than nothing, and vanity. In this spirit speak and do everything, giving all the glory to Him that lives and rules in your heart by faith." — Works, vol. vii. p. 114.
To Mrs. Elizabeth Bennis, 1774: —
"A will steadily and uniformly devoted to God is essential to a state of sanctification; but not a uniformity of joy, or peace, or happy communion with God. These may rise and fall in various degrees; nay, and may be affected either by the body or by diabolical agency, in a manner which all our wisdom can neither understand nor prevent. As to wanderings, you would do right well to consider the sermon on Wandering Thoughts." — Works, vol. vii. p. 58.