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He adds,* “I must express my persuasion, that, in the very pith and marrow of Mr. Wesley's views, and in these matters which through life he most prized, most dwelt upon, and lay nearest his heart, there is not one of his own nominal followers, who agrees with him more identically than I do.”
The marrow of his own teaching John Wesley has given us in two sentences.“That Religion is an inward principle, deliverance from sin, a recovery of the divine nature, the renewal of the soul in righteousness and true holiness. And this only to be had by faith, for we cannot serve God unless we love him, nor love him unless we know him.”
The necessity of a sudden and distinct assurance of pardon is dwelt upon by both the Wesleys. They looked for this in their own case, and the mode in which Charles Wesley found it, by opening passages of Scripture at hazard, and by the voice of a female, are more characteristic of his earnestness, than of his judgment. I In John Wesley's Journal we find similar views. He represents his faith, as a Christian, to have come suddenly upon him, with the emotions which arose under an impressive discourse. S
1. The erroneousness of both their statements appears from
* Knox's Remains, i. p. 71. † Works, Vol. viii. p. 344. # See Jackson's Life, pp. 139–135. C. Wesley's Journal, pp. 90–94.
§ Jackson's Life of C. Wesley, p. 137.
their own Journals. Long before the epoch which each fixes as that of his decisive change, he was feeling and acting as a Christian. Charles Wesley records that “ he found much comfort both in prayer and in the Word ; my eyes being opened more and more to discern and lay hold on the promises."
Again ; “ I experienced the power of Christ rescuing me in temptation.” “From this time I endeavoured to ground as many of our friends as came, in this fundamental truth,--salvation by faith alone, a faith which works by love." “In the approach of a temptation, I looked up to Christ, and confessed my helplessness. The temptation was immediately beat down, and continually kept off by a power not my own. Yet all this, according to him, was while he did not believe, and was plunged in darkness.
2. John Wesley derived his views from the Moravians, it being a part of his character,—a curious part of it,—to receive implicitly any statement made to him by those of whose known piety he was convinced. Several of the Moravians had testified, of their own personal experience, that " a true living faith in Christ is inseparable from a sense of pardon for all past, and freedom from all present sins." + Yet Wesley records the experience of other Moravians, equally sincere and pious, ho went on for years without any assurance of pardon, yet manifestly and consciously believing in Christ, hoping and praying. I This might have deterred him from adopting so hazardous a doctrine.
The Moravian leader summed up the case well : 5—“ Justification is the forgiveness of sins. The moment a man flies to Christ, he is justified, but may not know he is justified till long after. For the assurance of it is distinct from justification itself, but others may know he is justified by his * Journal, p. 87.
† Ibid. Vol. i. p. 96. I lbid. pp. 121-123.
§ Count Zinzendorf.
power over sin, his seriousness,” &c.* And Wesley himself, in later life, qualified his views —"Possibly some may be in the favor of God, and yet go mourning all the day long. Therefore I have not for many years thought a consciousness of acceptance to be essential to justifying faith.” +
3. But in the earlier stage of his active life, and in that of his brother, the doctrine of the instant impression of pardon was preached without reserve. How this was received and abused, the cases of Hall,—of Mr. C.,—of the girl at Stockport,--and of many others, shew. In fact, both the Wesleys soon discovered, that, if a small proportion of their original converts adhered to their profession, it was all they could look for. §
And it was not always the most confident who were most to be relied on. Emotion, sympathy, temperament, determined many. Charles Wesley thus sums up his later experience, ||—“ We have certainly been too rash and hasty in allowing persons for believers on their own testimony ; nay, and even persuading them into a false opinion of them selves. .. I wrote thus to a son in the Gospel. "Be not ever sure that so many are justified. By their fruits you shall know them. You will see reason to be more and
* Journal, p. 104. † Wesley says, Vol. xji. .56. “I believe it (Christian faith) is generally given in an instant. I do not deny that God imperceptibly works on some, or gradually increases assurance of his love, but I am equally certain he works on others a full assurance thereof in one mo
I C. Wesley's Journal, Vol. i. pp. 88, 100, 104, 105, 108, 110-112, 114, 120, 127, 128. Addison's Life, pp. 136, 142, 334. Journal, Vol. ii. pp. 40, 454, 375, 486; Vol. i. pp. 378, 268, 182. C. Wesley's Journal, Vol. i. p. 88. § Short History of Wesley's Works, Vol. xiii. p. 320.
|| Jackson's Life, i. pp. 334, 335.
more deliberate in the judgments you pass on souls. Wait for their conversation.'
4. In truth the experience of all, whom Methodism accepts as its chiefs, proves, if proof were wanting, the unsoundness of that doctrine of sudden assurance of pardon, which Wesley gave as the type of the Christian life. No doubt there are such cases, to be accepted, where they occur, for our instruction. But this was not the mental history of Charles or John Wesley, who passed through years of anxiety before they attained peace. It was not the experience of the preachers of Methodism, whom I have cited as Wesley's first companions ; all of whom, except one, were for a length of time anxious inquirers after truth. And if such was their experience, we may well use it to correct the hazardous teaching which brought great scandal on Methodism, * and which led to many of the evils, to be traced in its early history.
* Wesley's Works, Vol. xiii. pp. 349, 355, 334, 337, 338, 327.
THE RELATION OF METHODISM TO THE CHURCH.
It is necessary to distinguish between the early position of Methodism, and that which it cccupied in its later stages. Its first aspect towards the church was friendly. It had no design of secession. Its leading doctrine, on which was based its influence, was the doctrine of the Church of England. The grand idea of the reconciliation of man by his faith in the averments of God, and by trust in his redeeming love, is that which characterizes the Ritual and Articles of the Church of England, and severs our Church by an impassable chasm from the church of Rome. Wesley found this truth fixed in the Articles of his church.* The clergy of the church
* It is satisfactory to find this fact admitted by clergymen of the high Church party. See Mr. Suckling's Life, pp. 150, 228. He says :
“ The doctrinal differences on justification separate us from the Church of Rome. Get clear views of the doctrine of justification, as taught by our Church, and then perhaps you may use the (Romish) devotional books without danger. Study St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans with prayer.”
“Of the error of doctrine, what is the root? In my humble opinion, it is in the doctrine of justification.”