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resolutions, without being in any pain about what success they may bave.
In the greatest temptations, a single look to Christ, and the barely pronouncing his name, suffices to overcome the wicked one, so it be done with confidence and calmness of spirit.
God's command, to pray without ceasing, is founded on the necessity we have of bis grace, to preserve the life of God in the soul, which can no more subsist one moment without it, than the body can without air.
Whether we think of or speak to God, whether we act or suffer for him, all is prayer, when we have no other object than his love, and the desire of pleasing him.
All that a Christian does, even in eating and sleeping, is prayer, when it is done in simplicity, according to the order of God, without either adding to, or diminishing from it by his own choice.
Prayer continues in the desire of the heart, though the understanding be employed on outward things.
In souls filled with love, the desire to please God is a continual prayer.
As the furious hate which the Devil bears us is termed the roaring of the lion, so our vehemrent love may be termed, crying after God.
God only requires of his adult children, that their hearts be truly purified, and that they offer him continually the wishes and vows that naturally spring from perfect love. For these desires being the genuine fruits of love, are the most perfect prayers that can spring from it.
6. It is scarcely conceivable how straight the way is wherein God leads them that follow him: and how dependent on him we must be, unless we are wanting in our faithfulness to him.
It is hardly credible of how great consequence before God the smallest things are; and what great inconveniences sometimes follow those which appear to be light faults.
As a very little dust will disorder a clock, and the least grain of sand will obscure our sight, so the least grain of sin, which is upon the heart, will hinder its right motion towards God.
We ought to be in the church as the saints are in heaven, and in the house as the holiest men are in the church : doing our work in the house, as we pray in the church, worshipping God from the ground of the heart.
We should be continually labouring to cut off all the useless things that surround us. And God usually retrenches the superfluities of our souls in the same proportion as we do those of our bodies.
The best means of resisting the Devil is, to destroy whatever of the world remains in us, in order to raise for God upon its ruins a building all of love. Then shall we begin in this fleeting life to love God as we shall love him in eternity.
We scarcely conceive how easy it is to rob God of his due, in
our friendship with the most virtuous persons, until they are torn from us by death. But if this loss produce lasting sorrow, that is a clear proof that we had before two treasures between which we divided our heart.
7. If after having renounced all, we do not watch incessantly, and beseech God to accompany our vigilance with his, we shall be again entangled and overcome.
As the most dangerous winds may enter at little openings, so the Devil never enters more dangerously than by little unobserved incidents, which seem to be nothing, yet insensibly open the heart to great temptations.
It is good to renew ourselves from time to time, by closely examining the state of our souls, as if we had never done it before. For nothing tends more to the full assurance of faith, than to keep ourselves by this means in humility, and the exercise of all good works.
To continual watchfulness and prayer, ought to be added continual employment. For grace flies a vacuum as well as nature, and the Devil fills whatever God does not fill.
There is no faithfulness like that, which ought to be between a guide of our souls, and the person directed by him. They ought continually to regard each other, in God, and closely to examine themselves, whether all their thoughts are pure, and all their words directed with Christian discretion.-Other affairs are only the things of men; but these are peculiarly the things of God.
8. The words of St. Paul, “ No man can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Ghost,” show us the necessity of eying God in our good works, and even in our minutest thoughts ; knowing that none are pleasing to him, but those which he forms in us and with us. From hence we learn, that we cannot serve him, unless he use our tongue, hands, and heart, to do by his Spirit whatever he would have us to do.
If we were not utterly impotent, our good works would be our own property : whereas now they belong wholly to God, because they proceed from him and his grace; while raising our works, and making them all divine, he honours himself in us through them.
One of the principal rules of religion is, to lose no occasion of serving God. And since he is invisible to our eyes, we are to serve him in our neighbour ; which he receives as if done to himself in person, standing visibly before us.
God does not love men that are inconstant, nor the good works that are intermitted. Nothing is pleasing to him, but what has a resemblance of his own immutability.
A constant attention to the work which God intrusts us with, is a mark of solid piety.
Love fasts when it can, and as much as it can. It leads to all the ordinances of God, and employs itself in all the outward works whereof it is capable. It flies, as it were, like Elijah, over the plain, to find God upon his holy mountain.
God is so great that he communicates greatness to the least thing that is done for his service.
Happy are they who are sick; yea, or who lose their life for having done a good work.
God frequently conceals the part which his children have in the conversion of other souls. Yet one may boldly say, that a person who long groans before him for the conversion of another, whenever that soul is converted to God, is one of the chief causes of it.
Charity cannot be practised right, unless, first, we exercise it the moment God gives the occasion; and, secondly, retire the instant after, to offer it to God by humble thanksgiving. And this for three reasons.
1. To render him what we have received from him. 2. To avoid the dangerous temptation, which springs from the very goodness of these works. 3. To unite ourselves to God, in whom the soul expands itself in prayer, with all the graces we have received, and the good works we have done, to draw from him new strength against the bad effects which these very works may produce in us, if we do not make use of the antidotes which God has ordained against these poisons. The true means to be filled anew with the riches of grace, is thus to strip ourselves of it; and without this, it is extremely difficult not to grow faint in the practice of good works.
Good works do not receive their last perfection, till they, as it were, lose themselves in God. This is a kind of death to them, re. sembling that of our bodies, which will not attain their highest life, their immortality, till they lose themselves in the glory of our souls, or rather of God, wherewith they shall be filled. And it is only what they had of earthly and mortal, which good works lose by this spiritual death.
Fire is the symbol of love ; and the love of God is the principle and the end of all our good works. 'But as truth surpasses figure, the fire of divine love has this advantage over material fire, that it can reascend to its source, and raise thither with it all the good works which it produces. And by this means it prevents their being corrupted by pride, vanity, or any evil mixture. But this cannot be done, otherwise than by making these good works in a spiritual manner, die in God, by deep gratitude, which plunges the soul in him as in an abyss, with all that it is, and all the grace and works for which it is indebted to him : a gratitude whereby the soul seems to empty itself of them, that they may return to their source, as rivers seem willing to empty themselves, when they pour themselves with all their waters into the sea.
When we bave received any favour from God, we ought to retire, if not into our closets, into our hearts, and say, “I come, Lord, to restore to thee what thou hast given, and I freely relinquish it, to enter again into my own nothingness. For what is the most perfect creature in heaven or earth in thy presence, but a void capable of being filled with thee and by thee, as the air which is void and dark, is capable of being filled with the light of the sun, who withdraws it
every day to restore it the next, there being nothing in the air that either appropriates this light, or resists it. give me the same felicity of receiving and restoring thy grace and good works! I say thine: for I acknowledge the root from which they spring is in thee, and not in me.”
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 to perfection. Heb. vi. 1.
3. It is not so late as death; for St. Paul speaks of living men that were perfect. Phil. iii. 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 iv. 18. This is the essence of it: its properties, or inseparable fruits, are," rejoicing evermore, praying without ceasing, and in every thing giving thanks.” 1 Thess. v. 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 niay grow in grace far swifter than he did before.
9. It is capable of being lost; of which we have numerous instances. But we were not thoroughly convinced of this, till five or
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 rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and in every thing 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 even 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 not, 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 deatb! 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 ago nize for it.
27. I have now done what I proposed. I have given a plain and simple account of the manner wherein I first received the Doctrine of Perfection, and the sense wherein I received, and wherein I do receive and teach it to this day. I have declared the whole, and every part of what I mean by that Scriptural expression. I have drawn the picture of it at full length, without either disguise or covering. And I would now ask any impartial person, What is there so frightful therein? Whence is all this outcry, which, for these twenty years and upwards, has been made throughout the kingdom, as if all Christianity were destroyed, and all religion torn up by the root Why is it, that the very name of perfection has been cast out of the inouths of Christians; yea, exploded and abhorred, as if it contained the most pernicious heresy? Why have the Preachers of it been hooted at like mad dogs, even by men that fear God: nay, and by some of their own children; some whom they, under God, had begotten through the gospel? What reason is there for this ? Or what pretence? Reason, sound reason there is none. It is impossible there should : but pretences there are, and those in great abundance. Indeed there is ground to fear, that with some who treat us thus, it is a mere pretence; that it is no more than a copy of their countenance, from the beginning to the end. They wanted, they sought occasion against me : and here they found what they sought.
- This is Mr. Wesley's doctrine ! he preaches perfection.” He does : yet this is not his doctrine, any more than it is yours ; or any one's else that is a Minister of Christ. For it is his doctrine, particularly emphatically His; it is the doctrine of Jesus Christ." Those are his words, not mine, Εσεσθε 8ν τελειοι, ωσπερ ο Πατης υμων ω εν τοις έρανoις τελειο
“Ye shall, therefore, be perfect, as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” And who says, ye shall not? Or at least, not till your soul is separated from the body? It is the doctrine of St. Paul, the doctrine of St. James, of St. Peter, St. John: and no otherwise Mr. Wesley's, than as it is the doctrine of every one