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Serious Call, were put into my hands. These convinced me more
considerate man say that this is carrying matters too far? Or that any thing less is due to him, who has given bimself for us, than to give him ourselves; all we have, and all we are?
5. In the year 1729, I began not only to read, but to study the Bible, as the one, the only standard of truth, and the only model of pure religion. Hence I saw, in a clearer and clearer light, the indispensable necessity of having the mind which was in Christ, and of walking as Christ also walked; even of having, not some part only, but all the mind which was in him; and of walking as he walked, not only in many or most respects, but in all things. And this was the light, wherein at this time I generally considered religion, as an uniform following of Christ, an entire inward and outward conformity to our Master. Nor was I afraid of any thing more, than of bending this rule to the experience of myself
, or of other men; of allowing myself in any the least discontormity to our grand Exemplar.
6. On January 1, 1733, I preached before the University, in St. Mary's Church, Oxford, on “The circumcision of the heart ;" an account of which I gave in these words, . It is that habitual disposition of soul, which in the sacred Writings is termed holiness, and which directly implies, the being cleansed from sin ; from all filthiness both of flesh and spirit, and by consequence, the being endued with those virtues, which were in Christ Jesus; the being so “ renewed in the image of our mind," as to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect.'
In the same sermon I observed, “Love is the fulfilling of the law, the end of the commandment." It is not only the first and great command, but all the commandments in one; Whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise," they are all comprised in this one word, Love. In this is perfection, and glory, and happiness. The royal law of heaven and earth is this, “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” The one perfect good shall be ultimate end. One thing shall ye desire for its own sake, the fruition of him who is all in all. One happiness shall ye propose to your souls, even an union with him that made them; the having « fellowship with the Father and the Son;" the being “ joined to the Lord in one spirit.” One design ye are to pursue to the end of time, the enjoyment of God in time and in eternity. Desire other things so far as they tend to this : Love the creature, as it leads to the Creator. But in every step you take, be this the glorious point that terminates your view. Let every affection and thought, and word, and action, be subordinate to this. Whatever ye desire or fear:
whatever ye seek or shun; whatever ye think, speak, or do, be it in order to your happiness in God, the sole end, as well as source of your being."
I concluded in these words, “Here is the sum of the perfect law, the circumcision of the heart. Let the spirit return to God that gave it, with the whole train of its affections. Other sacrifices from us he would not; but the living sacrifice of the heart hath he chosen. Let it be continually offered up to God, through Christ, in flames of holy love. And let no creature be suffered to share with him : for he is a jealous God. His throne will he not divide with another; he will reign without a rival. Be no design, no desire, admitted there, but what has him for its ultimate object. This is the way wherein those children of God once walked, who being dead, still speak to us; “Desire not to live, but to praise his name; let all your thoughts, words, and works, tend to his glory. Let your soul be filled with so entire a love to him, that you may love nothing but for his sake.” “ Have a pure intention of heart, a steadfast regard to his glory in all your actions." For then, and not till then, is that mind in us, which was also in Christ Jesus, when in every motion of our heart, in every word of our tongue, in every work of qur hands, we pursue nothing but in relation to him, and in subordination to his pleasure; when we too neither think, nor speak, nor act, to fulfil our own will, but the will of him that sent us : When, “ whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we do it all to the glory of God.”
It may be observed, this sermon was composed the first of all my writings which have been published. This was the view of religion. I then had, which even then I scrupled not to term perfection. This is the view I have of it now, without any material addition or diminution. And what is there here, which any man of understanding, who believes the Bible, can object to? What can he deny, without flatly contradicting the Scripture ? What retrench, without taking from the Word of God?
7. In the same sentiment did my brother and I remain, (with all those young gentlemen in derision termed Methodists,) till we em barked for America, in the latter end of 1735. It was the next year, while I was at Savannah, that I wrote the following lines :
Is there a thing beneath the sun,
That strives with thee my beart to share ?
The Lord of every motion there ! In the beginning of the year 1738, I was returning from thence, the cry of my heart was,
O grant that nothing in my soul
May dwell, but thy pure love alone!
My joy, my treasure, and my crown!
My every act, word, thought, be love!
object? Is not this the language not only of every believer, but of every one that is truly awakened? But what have I written, to this day, which is either stronger or plainer ?
8. In August following I had a long conversation with Arvin Gradin, in Germany. After he had given me an account of his experience, I desired him to give me in writing a definition of the full assurance of faith, which he did in the following words :
“Requies in sanguine Christi : firma fiducia in Deum et persuasio de gratia divina : tranquillita mentis summa, atque serenitas et pax, cum absentia omnis desiderii carnalis, et cessatione peccatorum etiam internorum."
Repose in the blood of Christ : a firm confidence in God and persuasion of his favour : the highest tranquillity, serenity, and peace of mind, with a deliverance from every fleshly desire, and a cessation of all, even inward sins."
This was the first account I ever heard from any living man, of what I had before learned myself from the Oracles of God, and had been praying for, (with the little company of my friends,) and expecting for several years.
9. In 1739, my brother and I published a volume of hymns and sacred poems. In many of these we declared our sentiments strongly and explicitly. See page 24.
It would be easy to cite many more passages to the same effect. But these are sufficient to show, beyond contradiction, what our sentiments then were.
10. The first tract I ever wrote expressly on this subjeet was
published in the latter end of this year. That none might be prejudiced before they read it, I gave it the indifferent title of “The Character of a Methodist.” In this I described a perfect Christian, placing in the front, “Not as though I had already attained.” Part of it I subjoin without any alteration.
"A Methodist is one who loves the LORD bis God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind, and with all his strength. God is the joy of his heart, and the desire of his soul, which is continually crying, “Whom have I in heaven but thee; and there is none upon earth whom I desire but thee. My God and my All ! Thou art the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. He is therefore happy in God; yea, always happy, as having in him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life, and overflowing his soul with peace and joy. Perfect love having now cast out fear, be rejoices evermore. Yea, his joy is full, and all his bones cry out, 66 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord us Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten me again unto a living hope of an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, reserved in heaven for me."
· And he, who hath this hope, thus full of immortality, in every thing giveth thanks, as knowing that this (whatsoever it is,) is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning him. From him, therefore, he cheerfully receives all, saying, “ Good is the will of the Lord;" and whether he giveth or taketh away, equally blessing the name of the Lord. Whether in ease or pain, whether in sickness or health, whether in life or death, he giveth thanks from the ground of the heart, to him who orders it for good; into whose hands he hath wholly committed his body and soul, as into the hands of a faithful Creator. He is, therefore, anxiously careful for nothing, as having cast all his care on Him that careth for him, and in all things resting on Him, after making his request known to Him with thanksgiving.
· For indeed he prays without ceasing; at all times the language of his heart is this, “Unto thee is my mouth, though without a voice, and my silence speaketh unto thee.” His heart is lifted up to God at all times, and in all places. In this he is never hindered, much less interrupted by any person or thing. In retirement or company, in leisure, business, or conversation, his heart is ever with the Lord. Whether he lie down or rise up, God is in all his thoughts: he walks with God continually, having the loving eye of his soul fixed on him, and every where seeing him that is invisible.
• And loving God, he loves his neighbour as himself: he loves every man as his own soul. He loves his enemies; yea, and the enemies of God. And if it be not in his power to do good to them that hate him, yet he ceases not to pray for them, though they spurn his love, and still despitefully use him, and persecute bim.
• For he is pure in heart. Love has purified his heart from envy, malice, wrath, and every unkind temper. It has cleansed him from pride, whereof only cometh contention: and lie hath now “put on
bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long. suffering." And indeed, all possible ground for contention, on his part, is cut off. For none can take from him what he desires, seeing he “loves not the world, nor any of the things of the world :" But “ all his desire is unto God, and unto the remembrance of his name.”
Agreeable to this, his one desire, is the one design of his life, namely, “ To do not his own will, but the will of him that sent him." His one intention at all times and in all places is, not to please himself, but him whom his soul loveth. He hath a single eye; and because his “ eye is single, his whole body is full of light !” The whole is light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth enlighten a house. God reigns alone: all that is in the soul is Holiness to the Lord. There is not a motion in his heart but is according to his Will. Every thought that arises points to him, and is in obedience to the law of Christ.
And the tree is known by its fruits. For as he loves God, so he keeps bis commandments; not only some, or most of them, but all, liom the least to the greatest. He is not content to keep the whole law, and offend in one point, but has, in all points “a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man.” Whatever God has forbidden, he avoids; whatever God has enjoined, he does. “He l'uns the way of God's commandments,” now He hath set his heart at liberty. It is his glory and joy so to do : it is his daily crown of rejoicing, to do the will of God on earth as it is done in heaven.
* All the commandments of God he accordingly keeps, and that with all his might. For his obedience is in proportion to his love, the source from whence it flows. And therefore, loving God with all his heart, he serves him with all his strength. He continually presents his soul and body “ a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God;" entirely, and without reserve, devoting himself, all he has, all he is, to his glory. All the talents he has, he constantly employs according to his Master's will: every power and faculty of his soul, every member of his body.
• By consequence, “Whatsoever he doth, it is all to the glory of God.” In all his employments of every kind, he not only aims at this, (which is implied in having a single eye,) but actually attains it. Ilis business and his refreshments, as well as his prayers, all serve to this great end. Whether he sit in the house or walk by the way: whether he lie down, or rise up, he is promoting, in all he speaks or does, the one business of his life. Whether he put on his apparel, or labour, or eat and drink, or divert himself from too wasting labour, it all tends to advance the glory of God, by peace and good-will among men. His own invariable rule is this : « Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God, even the Father, through him."
Nor do the customs of the world at all hinder his “ running the race which is set before him.” He cannot, therefore, lay up treasures on earth, no more than he can take fire into his bosom. He cannot speak evil of his neighbour, any more than he can either lie