A Plain Account of Christian Perfection
AS BELIEVED AND TAUGHT
BY THE REV. MR. JOHN WESLEY
FROM THE YEAR 1725 TO THE YEAR 1777.
R. BRIEF THOUGHTS ON CHRISTIAN PERFECTION.
[This brief piece written in 1767 was not originally included in "A Plain Account" or in Wood's book, and is added here for the sake of completeness. Craig.]
SOME thoughts occurred to my mind this morning concerning Christian perfection, and the manner and time of receiving it, which I believe may be useful to set down.
1. By perfection I mean the humble, gentle, patient love of God, and our neighbor, ruling our tempers, words, and actions.
I do not include an impossibility of falling from it, either in part or in whole. Therefore, I retract several expressions in our Hymns, which partly express, partly imply, such an impossibility.
And I do not contend for the term sinless, though I do not object against it.
2. As to the manner. I believe this perfection is always wrought in the soul by a simple act of faith; consequently, in an instant.
But I believe a gradual work, both preceding and following that instant.
3. As to the time. I believe this instant generally is the instant of death, the moment before the soul leaves the body. But I believe it may be ten, twenty, or forty years before.
I believe it is usually many years after justification; but that it may be within five years or five months after it, I know no conclusive argument to the contrary.
If it must be many years after justification, I would be glad to know how many. Pretium quotus arroget annus? [This quotation from Horace is thus translated by Boscawen: — "How many years give sanction to our lines?" — EDIT.]
And how many days or months, or even years, can any one allow to be between perfection and death? How far from justification must it be; and how near to death?
LONDON, Jan. 27, 1767.