Author of “The Way of Holiness,” “Present to My Christian Friend,” &c.













WHAT IS FAITH? This is a question, which by the pious of all ages has been regarded. as preeminently important. And surely the magnitude of the inquiry cannot be estimated beyond, what its merit demands. What question can be more momentous to one who would secure the divine approval, since without faith it is impossible to please God? Yet the subject of faith has been so ably discussed by theologians of deep piety, that the author of this work has no intention of entering upon this ground as the revealer of any new theory. She may not speak of a higher anticipation than that of bringing forth truths as old as the Bible, with the humble hope that the Holy Spirit may cause them to be presented to the reader with vitality and freshness.

And why write a book, if nothing new to communicate? We answer, with the hope that some sincere inquirer, who may have been long looking for some new revelation, or that some great thing be wrought, may cease the vain endeavor, and in lowliness of mind ask for the old paths. Few, perhaps, have been more perplexed in relation to faith than the writer was in early life.

She has since discovered that the religion of the Bible does not require great powers of mind to reach it, but deep humility of spirit to come down to its simplicity. That the Bible is the word of God, is a truth with which from infancy she had been familiar, yet from a want of a proper realization of this fact her difficulties mainly arose. For years past she has in experimental verity apprehended the DIVINITY of the WORD, and consequently her difficulties about faith have all vanished. Meeting with many who inquire the heavenly way, and yet have been hindered by similar perplexities, the author, in her frequent communications with such, has in her directions pointed to the law and the testimony as an infallible guide, and a sufficient rule for faith and practice. Her endeavor has been to meet these diversified cases, (which have ranged from the unawakened sinner to the traveler in the way of holiness,) on the ground of Bible truth; and it is hoped that something which has been presented may instruct and interest a few in each class of experience. If the work may be in any degree instrumental in the awakening and ultimate salvation of souls, the author's highest ambition will have been reached, and the glory shall be ascribed to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This book is a collection of Phoebe Palmer’s letters — including letters of spiritual advice and of personal experience — written to various people identified only by their initials. I believe this was first published in 1848, but it went through many editions and re-printings. I found online PDF editions from 1850 and 1855. The edition in the Holiness Classics collection at the Wesley Center is from the 45th edition printed in 1867. From all of this, it appears that this was one of Phoebe Palmer’s most popular books. There are 55 letters in all, and I have grouped them together in small collections — keeping the letters to common recipients together. But, you may also click on the direct links to the individual letters.

Craig L. Adams


LETTERS No. 1 - 8: To Mr. M.

  • No. I. — To Mr. M_____. Mr. M acknowledges himself unawakened — What is faith? — Interview with a Hicksite friend — Displeasure incurred — Doings and sayings at a class meeting — An unlikely subject of prayer presented — All things possible with God — Mrs. W.'s inquiry — The sinner condemned already — The culprit C_____; his agony when under condemnation, the effect of his faith in man — Mr. M_____ not a believer in the Bible as the word of God; otherwise not unawakened — Indescribable solicitude — Influential friends cannot save. Mr. M_____ under condemnation — Why the word of God has not the same effect as a voice from heaven.
  • No. II. — To Mr. M_____. Mr.M_____. inquires the way — Inquiries as to the effect of faith — Evidences of the in-being of faith — Perilous condition acknowledged — Hardness of heart confessed and bemoaned — Heart not impenitent — Not required to save ourselves — Sinful to stay away from the Saviour — A letter to a sincere inquirer — Difficulties in the way of salvation — Repentance known by its fruit; a gift from God, and must be acknowledged.
  • No. III. — To Mr. M_____. Mr. M_____ inquires whether the power to believe may not be withheld — The power to exercise faith never withheld from the truly sincere — Difficulty with one who had been seeking the Lord four years, — and how removed — Man possesses the awful power of pronouncing his own blessings and curses — Five individuals converted the same day on which they were awakened — Difficulty with Mr. S_____. — Of one who thought it was too late.
  • No. IV. — To Mr. M_____. Sincerity and earnestness not sufficient to insure salvation — An illustration of how faith is the gift of God — How to show fruit meet for repentance — An error in presenting petitions for awakened persons — Lad on the roof of a building; he is saved — The man near a cataract; Not saved by doing nothing.
  • No. V. — To Mr. M_____. A matter of surprise with Mr. M_____ Reasons for delay wholly with the creature — Singular case of a lady where conviction followed conversion — Late Rev. S. M. Relates a similar case — God ever meets us on the ground of his word — How to keep a new heart — Progression required — The Bible; its excellence — The scheme of salvation conditional.
  • No. VI. — To Mr. M_____. To Mr. M____. Condemned and justified at the same moment impossible — Case of a young lady who mistook a state of condemnation for one of justification; she was not intentionally hypocritical — How the mistake may imperceptibly be made — Condition upon which a state of justification is retained — How soon may perfection be attained?
  • No. VII. — To Mr. M_____. To Mr. M____. The summit of Christian attainment may never be reached in time — Paul not perfect in attainment — He professes perfection, and in what sense — A state of perfection requiring progression urged — Christian, Not Adamic, perfection, the object — It already belongs to man as soon as the conditions upon which it is offered are met.
  • No. VIII. — To Mr. M_____. Inquiries relative to the length of time intervening between a state of justification and entire sanctification — Mr. Wesley's views on the subject — How backslidings might be less frequent — Another inquiry from my Hicksite friend — Unreasonable not to be holy — How unholy professors encourage skepticism — The case of a young man whose friends were professing Christians — Salvation from all sin may be obtained now — How a housekeeper obtained it.

LETTERS No. 9-16: To Mrs. W., To Mrs. R.

  • No. IX. — To Mrs. W_____. An apology — Fruits of holiness partially enjoyed — Work of the Spirit, and tenderness of conscience at an early age — Regret — Difficulties — The cost counted — Activity required — Intense breathings — A wrong standard of experience — A darling object — Great Things Anticipated.
  • No. X. — To Mrs. W_____. A sacrifice contemplated — The surrender is made — The seal of consecration enstamped — Apprehends a state of holiness — Exults in the knowledge of the sanctification of body, soul, and spirit - Scruples removed — Christ all in all.
  • No. XI. — To Mrs. W_____. The bliss of dwelling in God — Blessings are received for the good of others — Confession contemplated — What had been a hinderance for years — Hearty submission to the order of God.
  • No. XII. — To Mrs. W_____. The adversary foiled — Unbroken quiet — Tempted in a dream — Sweet repose — Encouragement given during sleep — Peace, the heritage of the believer.
  • No. XIII. — To Mrs. W_____. Temptation relative to retaining the blessing — Mental conflict — Peace — Confession — Desires to know the precise foundation of faith — A statement of the way in which prayer was answered — The consequences of turning out of the way apprehended.
  • No. XIV. — To Mrs. W_____. Heaven begun below — Holiness the believer's strength — "If I get it I cannot keep it" — Remark of Dr. B — Mysticism — Consecration a simple act — Holiness maintained by constant faith — The Scriptures a medium of communion with God — The way of the cross — A new existence — The command, "Be ye holy" — Effect on the world of universal holiness in the church.
  • No. XV. — To Mrs. R_____. Questions — Unreasonable not to be holy — Danger of slighting convictions — Sad remembrances — A fearful state — Count the cost — Decision — Self-sacrifice — The martyrs — The offense of the cross not ceased — Self-distrust — The way opened to the holiest — Temptations.
  • No. XVI. — To Mrs. R_____. Power of faith — Terms of the covenant — Unsanctified resting in creature-good — Self-denial — A Jewish offerer —The Christian's altar; where? — It is Christ; it is here—The sacrifice to be offered — The altar sanctifieth the gift — Sinfulness of doubting it — The altar greater than the gift — Self-sacrifice reasonable; our duty; its benefits —The offering must touch the altar —The will must be resigned.

LETTERS No. 17-26: To Mr. K., To Mr. P.

  • No. XVII. — To Mr. K_____. An impression confirmed — Religious joy — Temptation succeeds — Unwise inference — Holiness a state of character, not of emotion — The disciple with Jesus in the wilderness, and on the mount — The disciples on Tabor — The unwise request — The disciple as his Master — The crown coveted; not the cross.
  • No. XVIII. — To Mr. K_____. Mr. K 's statement of his case — Questions — Mr. K 's resolution — Comparison — Inconsistency of Mr. K 's position — May the sanctification of the soul be achieved gradually? &c. — "God's word its own evidence" — Correspondence between faith and confession — "Have I lost my will?" — Answer — Illustrations — The obedient child — Abraham — The Savior — Family government — Ruling by love — Daily intercession — Household dedication — Restraint — Abraham's family — Joshua — Eli.
  • No. XIX. — To Mr. K_____. Remarkable visit of the Spirit — A new heart given to a little child — "I want to pray more" — An accusation of the tempter — Little W_____ — Infantile anticipation — Propriety.
  • No. XX. — To Mr. K_____. Faith receives Christ in all his offices — Distrustfulness — Illustration — A specific kind of unbelief pointed out — The Bible the voice of God to man — Reference to 2 Pet. i, 21 — Profession on the authority of the WORD urged — Waverings in faith sinful — Triumphs of Satan — Loss to the church — Slight notions of the sin of unbelief lamented.
  • No. XXI. — To Mr. K_____. "Only unbelief — Ancient Israel — Borders of the promised land reached — Met and vanquished by an enemy — Who was it? — God dishonored by unbelief.
  • No. XXII. — To Mr. P_____. Difficulties in the distance — Humility and decision — Divine protection — Daniel — Workers together with God — Witness of the Spirit — Distinction between faith and sight — Abraham; his patient faith — The wavering one.
  • No. XXIII. — To Mr. P_____. Premature application, of the promises — Not willing to be holy - Paul's concise statement of the way to holiness — Distinction between consecration and sanctification — Obedience must precede appropriating faith — Wickedness of removing a sacrifice from the altar — Thomas — The will; its language — Of one who gave up his will.
  • No. XXIV. — To Mr. P_____. Temptation as to the genuineness of faith — "Man-work" — Faith without works — "Workers together with God" — Queries about self-sanctification — Answers — Scriptural test — Exhortation.
  • No. XXV. — To Mr. P_____. Baptism of the Spirit — The just shall live by faith — Witness of the Spirit — Answer delayed — Need of patience — My sister — Interview with Rev. T. Merritt — Confession — Steadfastness — Zeal.
  • No. XXVI. — To Mr. P_____. Mr. P.'s singular statement of his case — Conclusions questioned — Illustration — The effect of my faith in Mr. P — Witness of the Spirit — "The Spirit speaketh expressly" — The Bible the voice of the Spirit — The blessing apprehended in the promise — Faith in a dark hour — Resignation.

LETTERS No. 27-37: To Bishop and Mrs. H., To Rev. T. M., To Rev. Mr. K., To Mrs. B, To the Members of the _____ Church, To ______, To Mr. J, To Rev. _____.

  • No. XXVII. — To Bishop and Mrs. H____. Separated friends — The day of my espousals — Judge W , and Judge R — Happiness without holiness — A forty years' seeker obtains the blessing in a few hours — An evening on the camp ground — Struggles of a minister for holiness; his confession — The morning; doubt; profession; the witness — A member of his flock — Conversation — Full salvation in five minutes — Brother and sister B — "This now salvation" — A youth — Proposition — Decision — Self-denial — Sweet peace.
  • No. XXVIII. — To Rev. T____ M____. "Third Monday evening meetings" — Rev, Mr. C, — Our calling — Mrs. _____ — The testimony of a maid in Israel — Searching the Scriptures — "It is all here" — A pious visit — Interrogations — An object of great desire — Withstood by Satan — The vow — The assurance — "Let it be now" — Suggestion — The word — The victory — Delay — Trial — A hearty profession of full salvation.
  • No. XXIX. — To Rev. Mr. K_____. "The Guide" — E_____ street Church — One hundred witnesses — Revival — A local preacher — Long-continued efforts to obtain holiness — The sacrifice — The rest — Remark of Dr. — Sixty persons set apart for God — The camp prayer meeting — A passer-by arrested — A searching preacher — Revival in Baltimore — The work of God in A_____ street in 1831 — Morning meetings — Men and angels — Holiness the strength of the church — Satan's favorite instrument — A reproachful compliment — "And shall teach men so."
  • No. XXX. — To Mrs. B_____. Mark xi, 24 — 1 John v, 14, 15 — An illustration — Answers to prayer — "The faithful and true" — "In God will I praise his word" — The bank bill — The infidel minister — Faith and sense — The word personified — An end of the difficulty.
  • No. XXXI. — To Mrs. B_____. Presumption taken for faith — Doctrines abused — The assertion, "Believe that you have it, and you have it," not Scriptural — Importunate prayer unanswered — An unauthorized petitioner — The Pharisee — The seeker of sanctification — The lame and blind offered in sacrifice. The backslider's prayer — Divine direction sought in vain — Meddling with secret things — Why some parents cannot believe — Unholy hands lifted up.
  • No. XXXII. — To the Members of the _____ Church. The church is a family — Intercessions — Revival prevented — The sin of one man — A reproach to Christ — Social gatherings versus class meetings — A wonderful deception — The convicted — Cruel friends — "Who ruined that soul?" — God's decree nullified — A revival in God's order — Death busy and the church idle — "Curse ye Meroz."
  • No. XXXIII. — To the Members of the _____ Church. Neglect of the stated means — A remark of Mr. Wesley — An engagement to meet a friend — Who broke it? — One in three at class — What Thomas lost — All strong, and all at work — "Begin at my sanctuary" — Six left of three hundred — An estimate — Nursing fathers and mothers.
  • No. XXXIV. — To _____. Memoir of Mrs. — The common people — Good news — A commanding post — Ability equal to duty — Our calling as a church — "The high doctrines of our creed" — Mysteries — A popular young minister — Mr. Wesley's last advice — How others regard us — A dilemma — Professor — Disappointment — A Presbyterian's opinion of a Methodist congregation — "What do ye more than others."
  • No. XXXV. — To Mr. J_____. Disposition of property — Inequalities of human condition — Responsibility graduated by possession — Prudent foresight recommended by Solomon — Of those who heap together riches — Comparative liberality — Censoriousness — "Are rich men required to give up all?" — Community of goods — A debate.
  • No. XXXVI. — To Mr. J_____. A stumbling block. — " One hundred dollars instead of six" — The wealthy father and his two sons — Jacob's vow — Large income for the Lord's treasury — A broken vow — Obstacle to religious prosperity — Tests of fidelity — David's view of liberality — Systematic mode of giving — The tenth devoted — "Giveth and yet increaseth" — Missionaries.
  • No. XXXVII. — To Rev. _____. "Why cannot I believe?" — Plain dealing — An elevated position in the church — How attained — Our reputation belongs to God — Expulsions from the ministry — "Why insist on terms?" — A resolve to stand or fall with truth — Ashamed of Christ's words — The sin of ignorance — Acknowledgment — Objection to Scripture phraseology — Paul's conduct — Reputation — Not resigned to Christ — "How can ye believe?" — Fellowship with Him who made him self of no reputation — Christ's benediction on the outcast.

LETTERS No. 38-48: To Rev. Mr. H., To Rev. Mr. M., To Miss S., To Mr. C., To Mrs. D., To Mrs. E., To Mr. K., To Miss D., To Rev. Mr. H., To Mr. C.

  • No. XXXVIII. — To Rev. Mr. H____. Heaven's nobility incog — Views presented by the Spirit on the subject of confession — A sanctified soul hails from heaven - The force of the clause, "in earth as in heaven" — An angel on earth; his singleness of purpose; his heroic zeal — "My boast in the Lord."
  • No. XXXIX. — To Rev. Mr. M_____. Questions proposed — " What is the witness of the Spirit?" — Wesley's definition — "He that believeth hath the witness" — A promissory note — Ten years' experience — Whether we believe or not is matter of consciousness — "What are the evidences of entire sanctification?" — "The Spirit itself beareth witness" — "By what marks may we know that we are entirely sanctified?" — Sympathy with Christ — The mind of Christ — Continuous walking in Christ.
  • No. XL. — To Miss S_____. The divine image borne and reflected — The doctrine of entire sanctification at conversion considered — It is anti-Wesleyan — Unscriptural — Christians urged to go on to perfection — Desires for holiness the result not of backslidings, but of an active and growing faith — Humiliating confession of an errorist.
  • No. XLI. — To Miss S_____. Mr. Wesley's views — The author's habit of mind — Evidence of justification previous to entire sanctification — Movement of the denominations toward the unity of the faith — Tuesday meeting — A charming sight — Quotations from Wesley — Experience of David — The apostles — A cloud of witnesses — Caleb and Joshua — The danger of refusing to go on to perfection.
  • No. XLII. — To Mr. C_____. The willing and obedient — Profession and practice — The cross — "I will guide thee by mine eye" — Lessons of experience — The importance of immediate action in the use of present grace — A temptation not to speak definitely yielded to — Sad effects — Reproved, but not rejected — God doth not afflict willingly — Holiness may be forfeited by neglect — A strange testimony — Reply — Acknowledgment — Lingering in duty — Its consequences — Views of personal obligation.
  • No. XLIII. — To Mrs. D_____. Establishing grace — God's worthies — Few excel — Instability — Unlike God — Let your yea be yea, and your nay nay — The seal of the Spirit — Our Father's testament — Spiritual ambition — Ann Cutler.
  • No. XLIV. — To Mrs. E_____. Disappointment — Our recent interview — Sad change — Fault-finding versus prayer — Ministers need encouragement — "Our minister is not popular" — Harmful effects — Speaking evil of ministers — A false light — Confession — A stumbling block — "Touch not mine anointed" — A family regulation with respect to the reputation of ministers.
  • No. XLV. — To Mr. K_____. Solicitude — A twenty years' seeker — The longer and the shorter way — Remarkable experience in the steam cars — A meeting established for the promotion of holiness — How holiness sustains in the hour of trial, exemplified — The difference between willingness and obedience — A quotation from Mr. Wesley.
  • No. XLVI. — To Miss D_____. A little child learning to walk — The Divine Sympathy proportioned to our feebleness — "I will hold thy right hand" — Shrinkings from duty — "I have ordained you" — The weak made strong — " Worldly Christians!" — A light in the world.
  • No. XLVII. — To Rev. Mr. H_____. Specified wants; presented, supplied, doubted — The inference — The great exchange; a man given and a God received — "Was God unfaithful?" — Mr. H 's statement of his experience — A precise answer to a specific request — Confession delayed; urged — Witnesses of perfect love needed in the ministry.
  • No. XLVIII. — To Mr. C_____. Impelled to activity by the Word — An enthusiastic doctrine — A nice point — Quietism — Abraham pleading for Sodom — Moses pleading for Israel — Christ in the person of his saints.

LETTERS No. 49-55: To Mrs. _____, To Mrs. H., To Rev. Mr. _____, To Rev. Mr. M., To Mr. L., To Mrs. J., To Rev. U.

  • No. XLIX. — To Mrs. ____. Led by a right way — Domestic cares — A Mother's Trials — Tests of grace should be welcome — Predictions — Trials — Triumphs — Mrs. Susannah Wesley — Daughters of Sarah — The Wesley Family - Influence of American republicanism on American wives — Quotation from Mrs. W.'s biography — Apology.
  • No. L. — To Mrs. H_____. Wandering thoughts — Satanic resistance — A strong testimony in the midst of temptation — Satan defied — God tempted by questionings — A life of faith — The cost counted — Unwavering reliance — Fruits of faith — A precious gem — Shortness of time — Sudden death contemplated.
  • No. LI. — To Rev. Mr. _____. The children of God are one in interest — Obligations vary according to relationships — Abraham's unheard-of path of duty — Remarkable requisition — Satan's subtleties — Just where light meets us — Willing is not doing — The appearance of evil — A questionable practice cripples faith — Crucifixion of the flesh required — David's sacrifice — God will help you — An old habit broken.
  • No. LII. — To Rev. Mr. M_____. Can persons who are sincerely pious be deceived? — Satan transforms himself — A visit from a fiend clothed in an angel garb imagined; he quotes Scripture — How Christ received such a one — Satan loves a shining mark — A sure method of finding him out — The Bible the only chart — Satan may answer petitions presented on wrong premises — Gracious assurances may be counterfeited.
  • No. LIII. — To Mr. L_____. Witness of holiness lost — Unholy class leaders responsible for lowness of piety in the membership — The faithfulness of God proved when the blessing was lost — A light may be extinguished — Gifts derived from God must be diffused — Necessity of coming back — Promises may not be appropriated until the conditions are met — In what a state of holiness consists.
  • No. LIV. — To Mrs. J_____. Responsibility of parents in regard to the salvation of their children — A memorable struggle — The Spirit's intercession — Prayer answered — Parents should resolve on the salvation of their children — Children under sentence of death — A child born of the Spirit — Young converts may be holy — An interesting disciple — Remarks of a minister.
  • No. LV. — To Rev. Mr. U_____. Of the act of faith — Humiliating perceptions — Shrinkings from a profession of holiness — The direct path — A ceaseless sacrifice — The key which opens the door — What is the act of faith? — Terms of the covenant — Faith, not works, the ground of acceptance — The blessedness of purity — Why do some receive the blessing sooner than others who are equally sincere? — How example may hinder — How the blessing may be obtained — Tears of desire shed, yet a willingness to be holy not attained.