A Plain Account of Christian Perfection
AS BELIEVED AND TAUGHT
BY THE REV. MR. JOHN WESLEY
FROM THE YEAR 1725 TO THE YEAR 1777.
P. PROPOSITIONS WRITTEN IN 1764.
26. In the year 1764, upon a review of the whole subject, I wrote down the sum of what I had observed in the following short propositions: —
"(1.) There is such a thing as perfection; for it is again and again mentioned in Scripture.
"(2.) It is not so early as justification; for justified persons are to 'go on unto perfection.' (Heb. 6:1.)
"(3.) It is not so late as death; for St. Paul speaks of living men that were perfect. (Phil. 3:15.)
"(4.) It is not absolute. Absolute perfection belongs not to man, nor to angels, but to God alone.
"(5.) It does not make a man infallible: None is infallible, while he remains in the body.
"(6.) Is it sinless? It is not worth while to contend for a term. It is 'salvation from sin.'
"(7.) It is 'perfect love.' (1 John 4:18.) This is the essence of it; its properties, or inseparable fruits, are, rejoicing evermore, praying without ceasing, and in everything giving thanks. (1 Thess. 5:16, &c.)
"(8.) It is improvable. It is so far from lying in an indivisible point, from being incapable of increase, that one perfected in love may grow in grace far swifter than he did before.
"(9.) It is amissible, capable of being lost; of which we have numerous instances. But we were not thoroughly convinced of this, till five or six years ago.
"(10.) It is constantly both preceded and followed by a gradual work.
"(11.) But is it in itself instantaneous or not? In examining this, let us go on step by step.
"An instantaneous change has been wrought in some believers: None can deny this.
"Since that change, they enjoy perfect love; they feel this, and this alone; they 'rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks.' Now, this is all that I mean by perfection; therefore, these are witnesses of the perfection which I preach.
"'But in some this change was not instantaneous.' They did not perceive the instant when it was wrought. It is often difficult to perceive the instant when a man dies; yet there is an instant in which life ceases. And if ever sin ceases, there must be a last moment of its existence, and a first moment of our deliverance from it.
"'But if they have this love now, they will lose it.' They may; but they need not. And whether they do or no, they have it now; they now experience what we teach. They now are all love; they now rejoice, pray, and praise without ceasing.
"'However, sin is only suspended in them; it is not destroyed.' Call it which you please. They are all love to-day; and they take no thought for the morrow.
"'But this doctrine has been much abused.' So has that of justification by faith. But that is no reason for giving up either this or any other scriptural doctrine. 'When you wash your child,' as one speaks, 'throw away the water; but do not throw away the child.'
"'But those who think they are saved from sin say they have no need of the merits of Christ.' They say just the contrary. Their language is, —
'Every moment, Lord, I want
The merit of thy death!'
They never before had so deep, so unspeakable, a conviction of the need of Christ in all his offices as they have now.
"Therefore, all our Preachers should make a point of preaching perfection to believers constantly, strongly, and explicitly; and all believers should mind this one thing, and continually agonize for it."