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by it, and what was not. In a letter on Christian Perfection," addressed to the "Rev. Mr. Dodd," in 1756, he says, "When I began to make the Scriptures my chief study, (about seven-and-twenty years ago,) I began to see that Christians are called to love God with all their heart, and to serve him with all their strength; which is precisely what I apprehend to be meant by the scriptural term 'perfection.' After weighing this for some years, I openly declared my sentiments before the University, in the sermon on the Circumcision of the Heart.' About six years after, in consequence of an advice I received from Bishop Gibson,- Tell all the world what you mean by perfection,'-I published my coolest and latest thoughts in the sermon on that subject." This, of course, (about six years after 1733,) would be soon after the memorable meeting in Aldersgatestreet. Fifty years afterwards (March, 1790) he wrote his sermon on "the Wedding-Garment." In this the last year of his life he thus speaks: "What, then, is that holiness which is the true wedding-garment, the only qualification for glory? In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation,'-the renewal of the soul in the image of God wherein it was created.' 'In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.' It first, through the energy of God, worketh love to God and all mankind; and, by this love, every holy and heavenly temper,in particular, lowliness, meekness, temperance, gentleness, and long. suffering. It is neither circumcision,' the attending on all the Christian ordinances, nor uncircumcision,'-the fulfilling of all heathen morality,-but the keeping the commandments of God;' particularly those, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself.' In a word, holiness is the having 'the mind that was in Christ,' and the 'walking as Christ walked."" After thus giving his long-established

convictions respecting the essential, abiding nature of religion, he speaks of the nature and extent of that change in his own opinions which he had experienced many years previously: "Such has been my judgment for these threescore years,' (since, therefore, about 1730,) "without any material alteration. Only, about fifty years ago," (referring to the events of 1738,) "I had a clearer view than before of justification by faith; and in this, from that very hour, I never varied, no, not an hair's breadth."

The truth is, he was enabled at once to perceive, not only that the two doctrines were not incompatible with each other, but that, together, they formed a beautifully-consistent whole. Still was his untiring gaze fixed on holiness; but he now saw that holiness came by faith. Not less did he desire sanctification; but he perceived that in order to sanctification there must be justification. That religion consisted in love to God, he was as much persuaded as ever; but, after striving vainly to bring himself into this state, he learned that fire from heaven was necessary to kindle, as on the altar of his heart, this flame of sacred love. And often, with characteristic brevity, does he put the simple, but wonderful, process in the clearest light. Some months subsequently to his own conversion, (that is, in February, 1739,) publishing the "Life_of_the_Rev. Thomas Haliburton," a Scotch Clergyman,

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a work which contains a striking description of the work of grace in the soul of man,-he wrote thus: "The kingdom of God,' saith our blessed Lord, is within you.' It is no outward, no distant thing; but a well of living water' in the soul, springing up into everlasting life.' It is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.' It is holiness and happiness. The general manner in which it pleases God to set it up in the heart is this: A sinner, being drawn by the love of the Father, enlightened by the Son, (the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,') and convinced of sin by the

Holy Ghost; through the preventing grace that is given to him freely, cometh weary and heavy-laden, and casteth all his sins upon Him that is mighty to save.'

He receiveth

from Him true, living faith. Being 'justified by faith,' he hath peace with God; he rejoices in hope of the glory of God,' and knows that sin hath no more dominion over him. And the love of God is shed abroad in his heart, producing all holiness of heart and of conversation." And in 1746 he says, "From May 24th, 1738, wherever I was desired to preach, salvation by faith was my only theme; that is, such a love of God and man as produces all inward and outward holiness, and springs from a conviction, wrought in us by the Holy Ghost, of the pardoning love of God." So also, remarking on "Mr. Hill's Review," in 1772, he says, "From the year 1725, I saw more and more of the nature of inward religion, chiefly by reading the writings of Mr. Law, and a few other mystic writers; although I did not clearly see that we are saved by faith till 1738." And in his "Appeals" he writes: "Without faith we cannot be thus saved;" (he had just before described salvation as "a present salvation from sin;") "for we cannot rightly serve God unless we love him. And we cannot love him except we know him; neither can we know God unless by faith. Therefore salvation by faith is only, in other words, the love of God by the knowledge of God; or, the recovery of the image of God by a true, spiritual acquaintance with


And thus was he naturally led to that doctrine which, unhappily, drew upon him more reproach-reproach the more painful to him, that it proceeded from those from whom he rather expected encouragement, and support, and full co-operation-than any other doctrine preached by him, that of Christian perfection. What he meant by the expression, as well as its natural procession from the views of salvation which he had been led to embrace, will appear from what he says in his "Plain

Account of Christian Perfection," the last revision of which was published in 1777. After describing the doctrine, and showing how he was led to receive it, he says, "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 roots? Those are the words of Jesus Christ, not mine:

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. Peter, St. James, and St. John; and no otherwise Mr. Wesley's, than as it is the doctrine of every one who preaches the pure and the whole Gospel. I tell you, as plain as I can speak, where and when I found this. I found it in the oracles of God, in the Old and New Testament; when I read them with no other view or desire but to save my own soul. But whosesoever this doctrine is, I pray you, what harm is there in it? Look at it again; survey it on every side, and that with the closest attention. In one view, it is purity of intention, dedicating all the life to God. It is the giving God all our heart; it is one desire and design ruling all our tempers. It is the devoting, not a part, but all, our soul, and body, and substance to God. In another view, it is all the mind which was in Christ, enabling us to walk as Christ walked. It is the circumcision of the heart from all filthiness, all inward as well as all outward pollution. It is a renewal of the heart in the whole image of God, the full likeness of Him that created it. In yet another, it is the loving God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves. Now, take it in which of these views you please, (for there is no material difference,) and this is the whole and sole perfection, as a train of writings prove to a demonstration, which I have believed and taught

for these forty years, from the year 1725, to the year 1765."

They who believe that Mr. Wesley was providentially raised up to be an instrument of one of the greatest revivals of the work of God ever witnessed in the church, since the days of the Apostles, will admire the way by which he was so led, as to be prepared to declare the whole counsel of God, and to go forth to war his good warfare, having the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left. There had been a host of writers, in his own Church, who had laid great stress on the necessity of inward and outward holiness. Dr. Henry More, Jeremy Taylor, Whichcot, Dr. John Smith, John Norris, Archbishop Tillotson, had exposed the Antinomian heresy, pointed out the sancti fying influence of divine truth on the mind, and the obligations to obedience which the Gospel imposes; but they had not only omitted the consideration of the doctrine of justification regarded practically, but had written against it, or explained it away. Among the Reformers, while justification by faith was clearly stated, yet the power of the statement was greatly weakened by other coincident statements. Wishful to appear to go no farther than they were compelled from their former associates, they used expressions concerning regeneration in baptism which could not but confuse the sincere inquirer, and would lead the unawakened Protestant to rest satisfied without seeking that justification on which, as a doctrine, much stress was laid, but which they were not earnestly exhorted to seek as a blessing proffered to personal acceptance, for personal reception and enjoyment. They were told, not only that faith was not a mere acknowledgment of Christian verity, but a sure trust and confidence in Christ for the pardon of sin; but also that this faith was the gift of God: but we find not in their discourses those warm-hearted exhortations to seek this gift and this blessing which we believe there would have been, had they not been both hampered by their desire to

conciliate the Papists by speaking as far as they could in the language they had been accustomed to employ, and confused by the notions respecting that peculiar efficacy of the sacraments in the persuasion of which they had been educated. And then, as the human mind is prone to extremes, and as one great point of the controversy between the Romanists and the Reformers related to the doctrine of human merit, the former laying great stress on the dignity of man, and the excellence of the works he was capable of performing,-so the Reformers, in the warmth of their zeal, occasionally used expressions which, though capable of being so explained as to be made consistent with truth, were, to say the least, extremely hazardous as to those whose minds were not thoroughly under the influence of the truth and grace of God, and who were not, with all their attachment to Protestantism in its human and external aspects, conscientiously set upon doing the will of God, as solemnly made known to them in his holy word. If men need to be guarded against the delusions of self-righteousness, they likewise need to be guarded against those of self-will, and of a rebellious heart. Men not truly in earnest for their own personal salvation easily gather, from strong expressions on any subject, reasons to support their own favourite delusion, whatever it may be; and most necessary is it, therefore, that the entire truth, and the entire truth in the due connexion of its different parts, should be set before the mind, and applied earnestly to the conscience. A man like Melancthon might safely hear Luther suggest, at one period, his doubts as to the canonical authority of the Epistle of St. James; but men-and there were too many such-who went with the Reformers only from secular motives, would be glad of such a method of escaping from the condemnation which they would feel they deserved, if practical obedience were indeed required from them. And in England, in the depth of their genuine humility, clearly seeing the

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depravity of man by nature, and the spirituality of God's holy law, they used sometimes expressions which, however harmless as to those who used them, would have, to say the least, an injurious tendency, if literally received by those half-awakened hearers who would be glad to find some way of making salvation compatible with the love and retention of sin. As instances of such expressions (many of which will be recollected by those who are conversant with the history of the Reformers in the days of Mary) two may be quoted, -both used by that good man, and steadfast martyr, John Philpot, Archdeacon of Winchester: "Who knoweth not our flesh, as long as it is in this corruptible life, to be a lump of sin?" And, in "a prayer to be said at the stake, of all them that God shall account worthy to suffer for his sake," he says, "And depart forth of this miserable world, where I do nothing but daily heap sin upon sin." Be it again remarked, that they who truly "walk in the light" are in no danger of misapplying such expressions; but there are hearers of the Gospel who seek excuse for cherishing sin, and, as far as possible, not even the shadow of excuse should be allowed them. And, perhaps, in nothing was the effect of that remarkable discipline by which Mr. Wesley had been providentially trained for subsequent usefulness, more manifest than in this, that he so stated each article as to guard against the particular danger to which that article might be especially exposed. His discourses abound in practical exhortations; but those exhortations never lead to what has been termed Pharisaism. The believer, while exhorted to maintain good works, is shown that, even while he does so,—and, indeed, in order that he may do so,-he must live by faith in the Son of God, who loved him, and gave himself for him. And these exhortations to faith in Christ have no Antinomian tendency. Faith itself is shown to suppose that deep sense of guilt and sinfulness which leads the soul to turn with abhorrence from all evil, and to look, with all

the earnestness of a contrite heart, to God on the mercy-seat for pardon. Mr. Wesley's theology was not only accurate in particulars, but well-balanced and harmonious in its entire arrangement.

Nor is this less clearly to be perceived in his statements respecting the spiritual life, than in the instances just now mentioned. He had read the "mystic writers," as they are sometimes termed; and neither did he, on the one hand, reject the truths he found there, for the errors with which they mingled; nor did he, on the other, embrace errors and truths indiscriminately. And this deserves the rather to be noticed, because the truths which he found among them were such as had been too much overlooked in his own country; and such, too, as stood forth prominently in all his public discourses. In the Protestant Church of England, the doctrine of spiritual conversion had been almost forgotten, till revived by himself; but, amongst the devotional writers of Romanism, great stress was laid on it, though it was sadly obscured and defaced. Instead of the more simple views given by a right understanding of the doctrines of justification by faith and spiritual regeneration, it was assumed that people, as baptized, were all justified and regenerated; but then it was likewise believed that the heart might receive a vocation of divine grace; and that, obeying this, the individual would become a religious;" that is, a Monk, or a Nun. It is astonishing, and at the same time distressing, to see the mixture of truth and error on these subjects,-the blending together of Christianity with Popery. Bernard, on more than one occasion, speaks of the primordia conversionis; and sometimes, in describing these beginnings, comes very close to evangelical truth. Fear will come before love, terror before comfort; the Saviour's feet must be kissed in all humility, before he will give the kiss of reconciliation. He that hungers and thirsts after righteousness must believe in Christ, who justifies the

ungodly; and, being justified by faith alone, he shall have peace with God. But this conversion is not so much from sin to holiness, as from the life of an ordinary, to that of a superior, Christian. And for this there must be separation from the world, and voluntary abandonments, austerities, and humiliations, leading at once to the notion of superior desert, and the fearful collection of evils produced by the doctrines of human merit.+

Mr. Wesley, much as he loved retirement, and keenly as he could have relished academic quiet and study, was armed against these plausible, and to some minds fascinating, delusions. Solitary religion,"

he says,


"is not to be found in the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel knows of no religion but social; no holiness but social holiness. Faith working by love' is the length, and breadth, and depth, and height, of Christian perfection."

Perhaps in none of the mystic writings is this strange, this heterogeneous junction of truth and error more strikingly apparent, than in one of the smaller works of Thomas Aquinas, devoted to the consideration not merely of the spiritual life, but of its perfection. A brief account of this singular production will not, we think, be without interest to the reader, who will see a

* Quamobrem quisquis pro peccatis compunctus, esurit et silit justitiam, credat in te qui justificas impium, et, solam justificatus per fidem, pacem habebit ad Deum.-Bern., Serm. in Cant. xxii.

+ In the Memoires pour servir à l'Histoire de Port-Royal, there is a remarkable statement respecting the Abbess Angelica Arnauld. The account of what the writer calls her conversion (and which took place after she became Abbess, as the post was conferred on her through family influence) represents her as proposing, after she had made such regulations as in some measure restored the convent to its pristine simplicity and severity, to withdraw to another, more distant from her friends, and less reformed. Let the reason be well observed: "If I am in a house where others live not as they should, that need not prevent me; and if I will, I may be poor, obedient, and patient; and with so much the more merit, as I shall have more contradictions, and fewer examples." (Tome i., p. 28.)

Div. Thom. Aquinat., De Perfectione Vita spiritualis, Opusc. xvii. Opera, 4to. Venet., 1775. Tom. xix.

beautiful testimony to the simplicity and power of divine truth, in the first instance, almost immediately followed by a strongly-marked departure from it.

In his first chapter he describes perfection: that is perfect which attains its proper end, by having and exercising its proper nature. For an animal to be perfect, it must have all its members and organs rightly disposed, and rightly acting. For ascertaining the perfection of the spiritual life, that in which the spiritual life mainly consists must be considered; but this is charity, or love; for he who is destitute of this is spiritually nothing. To be spiritually perfect, is to be perfect in love.§

In the second chapter, quoting the two great commands, he shows that love has respect to God and our neighbour. But of these, that is to be loved first and principally which is our supreme good, that which makes us blessed; and that is God. “First, therefore, and principally, the perfection of the spiritual life consists in the love of God. Wherefore the Lord, speaking to Abraham, said, 'I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be thou perfect.' For we walk before God not with steps of the body, but with the affections of the mind."

In the third chapter he argues, that the perfection of love may be considered in regard to the loved, and to the loving; and that that absolute perfection of love which alone is suited to an infinite object, can only be exercised by God himself. In God alone can the affection exist which is in full proportion to its object.

In his fourth chapter he speaks of the love of God on the part of the creature loving, who is to love God with his whole power. So he is commanded in Scripture: in Deut. vi. 5, with all his heart, all his soul, and all his might in Luke x. 27 it is added, and with all his

§ Simpliciter ergo in spirituali vitâ perfectus est, qui est in caritate perfectus.

In dilectione Dei.

¶ Ut scilicet secundum suam totam virtutem, creatura rationalis diligat Deum.

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