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3. “Sanctification; the last and highest state of perfection in this life. For then are the faithful born again in the full and perfect
Then is there given unto them a new clean heart, and the struggle between the old and new man is over."*
30. [14.] That I may say many things which have been said before, and perhaps by Calvin or Arminius, by Montanus or Barclay, or the Archbishop of Cambray, is highly probable. But it cannot thence be inferred, that I hold “a medley of all their principles; Calvinism, Arminianism, Montanism, Quakerism, Quietism, all thrown together.” There might as well have been added, Judaism, Mahometanism, Paganism. It would have made the period rounder, and been full as easily proved, I mean asserted; for other proof is not yet produced.
31. I pass over the smaller mistakes which occur in the fifteenth and sixteenth paragraphs, together with the prophecy or prognostication, concerning the approaching divisions and downfal of the Methodists. What follows to the end, concerning the ground of our hope, is indeed of greater importance. But we have not as yet the strength of the cause. The dissertation promised is still behind. Therefore as my work is great, and my time short, I waive that dispute for the present. And perhaps when I shall have received farther light, I inay be convinced, that “Gospel-holiness (as Mr. Tucker believes) is a necessary qualification antecedent to justification.” This appears to me now to be directly opposite to the gospel of Christ. But I will endeavour, impartially to consider, what shall be advanced in defence of it. And may He, who knoweth my simpleness, teach me his way, and give me a right judgment in all things !
great mistake in this. I returned not from Germany till Saturday, September the 16th. Whereas my brother was fully persuaded of the truth of the Moravian faith (so called) on Wednesday, May 3, preceding. The note adds, “This (i. e. justifying faitb) le received but very lately.” This also is a mistake. · What we believe to be justifying faith he received May 21, 1739. See Vol. I.
* The next note runs thus: Mr. Wesley has such a peculiar turn and tendency towards inconsistencies in his principles, that in his preface to Haliburton's Life, (wrote February 9, 1738-9,) just after his return, (from Germany,) he contradicts all that be has said elsewhere for this sinless perfection, viz. “But it may he said, The gospel. covenant does not promisc entire freedom from sin." What do you mean by the word sin? The infection of nature? Or those pumberless weaknesses and follies, sometimes (improperly) termed sins of infirmity? If you mean only this, you say most true. We shall not put off these but with our bodies. But if you mean, it does not promise entire freedom from sin, in its proper sense, or from committing sin; this is by no means true, unless the Scripture be false. For thus it is written, * Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin:” (Unless he lose the Spirit of Adoption, if not finally, yet for a while, as did this child of God) “ for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” He cannot sin, so long as he "keepeth bimself," for then “the wicked one toucheth him not."
The question is not, Whether this be right or wrong: but whether it contradicts any thing I had said elsewhere. Thrice I have spoken expressly on this subject; in a sermon, and in two presaces. If in any of these I have contradicted what I said before, I will own the former assertion as a mistake.
TO MEN OF REASON AND RELIGION.
Doth our Law judge any Man before it hear him, and know what he
doth ? John vii. 51.
ALTHOUGH it is with us a “very small thing to be judged of you, or of man's judgment,” seeing we know God will make our INNOCENCY as clear as the light, and our Just DEALING as the noon-day;" yet are we ready to give any that are willing to hear, a plain account both of our principles and actions : “as having renounced the hidden things of shame," and desiring nothing inore, “than by manifestation of the truth to commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.”
2. We see (and who does not?) the numberless follies and miseries of our fellow-creatures. We see on every e, either men of no religion at all, or men of a lifeless, formal religion. We are grieved at the sight, and should greatly rejoice, if by any means we might convince some that there is a better religion to be attained, a religion worthy of God that gave it. And this we conceive to be no other than love ; the love of God and of all mankind, the loving God with all our heart, and soul, and strength, as having first loved us, as the Fountain of all the good we have received, and of all we ever hope to enjoy; and the loving every soul which God hath made, every man on earth, as our own soul.
3. This love we believe to be the medicine of life, the neverfailing remedy, for all the evils of a disordered world, for all the miseries and vices of men. Wherever this is, there are virtue and happiness, going hand in hand. There is humbleness of mind, gentleness, long-suffering, the whole image of God, and at the same time a peace that passeth all understanding, and joy unspeakable and full of glory.
“ Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind;
Each prayer accepted, and each wish resign'd:
Tears that delight, and sighs that wast to heaven." 4. This religion we long to see established in the world, a religion of love, and joy, and peace, having its seat in the heart, in the inmost soul, but ever showing itself, by its fruits, continually springing forth not only in all innocence, (for love worketh no ill to his neighbour,)
but likewise in every kind of beneficence, spreading virtue and happiness all around it.
5. This religion have we been following after for many years, as many know, if they would testify : but all this time, seeking wisdom we found it not; we were spending our strength in vain. And being now under full conviction of this, we declare it to all mankind : for we desire not that others should wander out of the way, as we have done before them; but rather that they may profit by our loss, that they may go, (though we did not, having then no man to guide us,) the straight way to the religion of love, even by faith.
6. Now faith (supposing the Scripture to be of God) is #payuatan 52.897 8 BRETopEvwv, the demonstrative evidence of things unseen, the supernatural evidence of things invisible, not perceivable by eyes or Aesh, or by any of our natural senses or faculties. · Faith is that divine evidence, whereby the spiritual man discerneth God and the things of God. It is with regard to the spiritual world, what sense is with regard to the natural. It is the spiritual sensation of every soul that is born of God.
7. Perhaps you have not considered it in this view ; I will then explain it a little further.
Faith, according to the scriptural account, is the eye of the newborn soul. Hereby every true believer in God "seeth him who is invisible.” Hereby (in a more particular manner, since life and immortality have been brought to light by the gospel) he “ seeth the tight of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ'; and “ beholdeth what manner of love it is, which the Father bath bestowed upon us, that we (who are born of the Spirit) should be called the sons of God.”
It is the ear of the soul, whereby a sinnerhears the voice of the Son of God and lives :" even that voice which alone wakes the dead, “Son thy sins are forgiven thee."
It is (if I may be allowed the expression) the palate of the soul : for hereby a believer • tastes the good word, and the powers of the world to come ;” and hereby, he both tastes and sees that “God is gracious, yea and merciful to him a sinner.”
It is the feeling of the soul, whereby a believer perceives, through " the power of the Highest overshadowing him," both the existence and the presence of Him, in whom " he lives, moves, and has his being ;" and indeed the whole invisible world, the entire system of things eternal. And hereby, in particular, he feels “the love of God shed abroad in his heart."
8.“ By this faith we are saved" from all uneasiness of mind, from the anguish of a wounded spirit, from discontent, from fear and sorrow of heart, and from that inexpressible listlessness and weariness, both of the world and of ourselves, which we had so helplessly laboured under for many years; especially when we were out of the hurry of the world, and sunk into calm reflection. In this we find that love of God, and of all mankind, which we had elsewhere sought in vain. This we know and feel, and therefore cannot but
declare, saves every one that partakes of it, both from sin and misery, from every unhappy and every unholy temper.
“ Sost peace she brings, wherever she arrives,
She builds our quiet as she forms our lives;
And opens in each breast a little heaven.” 9. If you ask, “ Why then have not all men this faith? All at least who conceive it to be so happy a thing ? Why do they not believe immediately ?"
We answer, (on the Scripture hypothesis,) “It is the gift of God.” No man is able to work it in himself. It is a work of Omnipotence. It requires no less power thus to quicken a dead soul, than to raise a body that lies in the grave. It is a new creation, and none can create a soul anew but he who at first created the heavens and the earth.
10. May not your own experience teach you this ? Can you give yourself this faith? Is it now in your power to see, or hear, or taste, or feel God? Have you already, or can you raise in yourself any perception of God, or of an invisible world ? I suppose you do not deny that there is an invisible world : you will not charge it in poor old Hesiod, to Christian prejudice of education, when he says, in those well known words,
“ Millions of unseen creatures walk the earth.
Unseen, whether we wake, or if we sleep." Now, is there any power in your soul, whereby you discern either these, or him that created them ? Or can all your wisdom and strength open an intercourse between yourself and the world of spirits ? Is it in your power to burst the veil that is on your heart, and let in the light of eternity ? You know it is not. You not only do not, but cannot (by your own strength) thus believe. The more you labour so to do, the more you will be convinced “it is the gift of God.”
11. It is the free gift of God, which he bestows not on those who are worthy of his favour, not on such as are previously holy, and so fit to be crowned with all the blessings of his goodness : but on the ungodly and unholy: on those who till that hour were fit only for everlasting destruction: those in whom was no good thing, and whose only plea was, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” No merit, no goodness in man precedes the forgiving love of God. His par. doning mercy supposes nothing in us but a sense of mere sin and misery: and to all who see and feel, and own their wants, and their utter inability to remove them, God freely gives faith, for the sake of him “in whom he is always well pleased.”
12. This is a short, rude sketch of the doctrine we teach. These are our fundamental principles; and we spend our lives in confirming others herein, and in a behaviour suitable to them.
Now, if you are a reasonable man, although you do not believe the Christian system to be of God, lay your hand upon your breast, and calmly consider, What is it that you can here condemn? What
evil have we done to you, that you should join the common cry against us? Why should you say, “ Away with such fellows from the earth : it is not fit that they should live ?"
13. It is true, your judgment does not fall in with ours. We believe the Scripture to be of God. This you do not believe. And how do you defend yourself against them who urge you with the guilt of unbelief? Do you not say, “ Every man must judge according to the light he has, and that if he be true to this, he ought not to be condemned ?" Keep then to this, and turn the tables. Must not we also judge according to the light we have ? You can in nowise condemn us, without involving yourself in the same condemnation. According to the light we have, we cannot but believe the Scripture is of God; and, while we believe this, we dare not turn aside from it, to the right hand or to the left.
14. Let us consider this point a little farther. You yourself believe there is a God. You have the witness of this in your own breast. Perhaps sometimes you tremble before him. You believe there is such a thing as right and wrong, that there is a difference between moral good and evil. Of consequence, you must allow there is such a thing as conscience: I mean, that every person capable of reflection, is conscious to himself, when he looks back on any thing he has done, whether it be good or evil. You must likewise allow, that every man is to be guided by his own conscience, not another's. Thus far, doubtless, you may go, without any danger of being a volunteer in faith.
15. Now then, be consistent with yourself. If there be a God, who being just and good, (attributes inseparable from the very idea of God,) is “a rewarder of them that diligently seek him," ought we not to do whatever we believe will be acceptable to so good a Master? Observe: if we believe, if we are fully persuaded of this in our own mind, ought we not thus to seek him, and that with all diligence ? Else how should we expect any reward at his hands ?
16. Again: ought we not to do what we believe is morally good, and to abstain from what we judge is evil? By good, I mean conducive to the good of mankind, tending to advance peace, and good-will among men, promotive of the happiness of our fellow-creatures; and by evil
, what is contrary thereto. Then surely you cannot condemn our endeavouring after our power, to niake mankind happy; (I now speak only with regard to the present world,) our striving, as we can, to lessen their sorrows, and to teach them, in whatsoever state they are, therewith to be content.
17. Yet again. Are we to be guided by our own conscience, or by that of other men ? You surely will not say, that any man's conscience can preclude mine. You, at least, will not plead for robbing us, of what you strongly claim for yourselves. I mean, the right of private judgment, which is indeed unalienable from reasonable
You well know, that unless we faithfully follow the dictates of our own mind, we cannot have a conscience void of offence toward God and toward man.