The Works of John Wesley (1872 ed. by Thomas Jackson), vol. 11,  29, pp. 366-446. 



[It is not to be understood, that Mr. Wesley's sentiments concerning Christian Perfection were in any measure changed after the year 1777. This tract underwent several revisions and enlargements during his life-time; and in every successive edition the date of the most recent revision was specified. The last revision appears to have been made in the year 1777; and since that period, this date has been generally continued on the title-page of the several editions of the pamphlet. -- EDIT. (EDIT. refers to Thomas Jackson)] 
 With commentary notes, scripture references, etc., added in the left table field as needed.  This edition carefully prepared for a new millenium by Rick Galbraith, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 2002.
Due reference should be given to the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (, hosted by Calvin College, from which the original of the text was obtained.

 Arguments 1 through 8    
 Section index  purpose
 yet more
 Word of God
 Living Example 


 1. Purpose

 First Argument

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Note: What Wesley commences
to give is a chronological account 
of his own dealings with this subject.

Wesley is speaking to serious
Christians, the ones who want 
more of Christ, as so is making
a straightforward presentation
by means of testimony, simple 
and unadorned ("naked")

What I purpose in the following papers is, to give a plain and distinct account of the steps by which I was led, during a course of many years, to embrace the doctrine of Christian perfection. This I owe to the serious part of mankind, those who desire to know all "the truth as it is in Jesus." And these only are concerned in questions of this kind. To these I would nakedly declare the thing as it is, endeavouring all along to show, from one period to another, both what I thought, and why I thought so. 
Wesley's Footnotes:


 2. Catalyst

Second Argument

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1725, age 23
Bishop Taylor, Rule and Exercises 
of Holy Living and Dying.

Reading this book led him to 
dedicate his life to God.

Key Point: Purity of Intention.

In the year 1725, being in the twenty-third year of my age, I met with Bishop Taylor's "Rule and Exercises of Holy Living and Dying." In reading several parts of this book, I was exceedingly affected; that part in particular which relates to purity of intention. Instantly I resolved to dedicate all my life to God, all my thoughts, and words, and actions; being thoroughly convinced, there was no medium; but that every part of my life (not some only) must either be a sacrifice to God, or myself, that is, in effect, to the devil. 

Can any serious person doubt of this, or find a medium between serving God and serving the devil? 

Wesley's Footnotes:

 3. more

Third Argument

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Kempis, Christian Pattern

This book influenced his 
understanding of the religion of the

Key Point: Simplicity of Intention,
purity of affection.

 In the year 1726, I met with Kempis's "Christian's Pattern." The nature and extent of inward religion, the religion of the heart, now appeared to me in a stronger light than ever it had done before. I saw, that giving even all my life to God (supposing it possible to do this, and go no farther would profit me nothing, unless I gave my heart, yea, all my heart, to him. 

I saw, that "simplicity of intention, and purity of affection," one design in all we speak or do, and one desire ruling all our tempers, are indeed "the wings of the soul," without which she can never ascend to the mount of God. 

Wesley's Footnotes:

 4. yet more

Fourth Argument

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 1727 or 1728
Law, Christian Perfection
Law, Serious Call

Key Point: No half-Christians.

A year or two after, Mr. Law's "Christian Perfection" and "Serious Call" were put into my hands. These convinced me, more than ever, of the absolute impossibility of being half a Christian; and I determined, through his grace, (the absolute necessity of which I was deeply sensible of;) to be all-devoted to God, to give him all my soul, my body, and my substance 

Will any considerate man say, that this is carrying matter too far? or that anything less is due to Him who has given himself for us, than to give him ourselves, all we have, and all we are?

Wesley's Footnotes:

 5. Word of God

 Fifth Argument

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The Bible

Key Point: Mind that was in Christ and
walking as Christ also walked.

Definition: Exemplar=
Role Model

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 in 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 anything more, than of bending this rule to the experience of myself; or of other men; of allowing myself in any the least disconformity to our grand Exemplar. 
Wesley's Footnotes

 6. Preaches

 Sixth Argument

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January 1, 1733
preached before the University,
in St. Mary's church.
The Circumcision of the Heart.

1.  Ephesians 4:23
2.  Matthew 5:48
3.  Romans 13:10
4.  Mark 12: 28-34
   & Luke 10:25-37 (good samaritan)
5.  Philippians 4:8
6.  Mark 12:30
7.  1 John 1:3; 1 Cor. 1:9
8.  1 Cor.6:17

On January 1, 1733, I preached before the University in St. Mary's church, 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,1' as to be `perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect." 2' (Vol. V., p. 203.) 

In the same sermon I observed, "`Love is the fulfilling of the law, the end of the commandment.'3 It is not only `the first and great'4 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,'5 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 shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.'6 The one perfect good shall be your one 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,'7 the being `joined to the Lord in one spirit.'8 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." (Ibid., pp. 207, 208.) 

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 you 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 our hands, we `pursue nothing but in relation to him, and in subordination to his plea sure;' 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."' (Ibid., p. 211.) 

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?

Wesley's Footnotes:

 7. America

Seventh Argument

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1735 - 1738
American Sojourn,
Savannah Georgia
In the same sentiment did my brother and I remain (with all those young gentlemen in derision termed Methodists) till we embarked 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 heart to share? Ah! tear it thence, and reign alone, The Lord of every motion there! 

In the beginning of the year 1738, as 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! O may thy love possess me whole, My joy, my treasure, and my crown ! Strange fires far from my heart remove; My every act, word, thought, be love! 

I never heard that any one objected to this. And indeed who can object? Is not this the language, not only of every believer, but of every one that is truly awakened? But what have I wrote, to this day, which is either stronger or plainer? 

Wesley's Footnotes:

 8. Living example

Eighth Argument

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 August, 1738
 out of the textbook,
 and in to a living
 John Wesley has a
 prolonged conversa-
 tion with a Moravian
In August following, I had a long conversation with Arvid 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; tranquillitas 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. 

Wesley's Footnotes