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 13 through 16  
 2nd and 3rd hymnals


 13. Second Hymns

 Thirteenth Argument

top   section index   previous argument   next argument
second volume of
-What they wrote
in the foreword.


 Not long after, I think in the spring, 1741, we published a second volume of Hymns. As the doctrine was still much misunderstood, and consequently misrepresented, I judged it needful to explain yet farther upon the head; which was done in the preface to it as follows : -- 

"This great gift of God, the salvation of our souls, is no other than the image of God fresh stamped on our hearts. It is a `renewal of believers in the spirit of their minds, after the likeness of Him that created them.' God hath now laid `the axe unto the root of the tree, purifying their hearts by faith,' and `cleansing all the thoughts of their hearts by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit.' Having this hope, that they shall see God as he is, they `purify themselves even as he is pure,' and are `holy, as he that hath called them is holy, in all manner of conversation.' Not that they have already attained all that they shall attain, either are already in this sense perfect. But they daily `go on from strength to strength; beholding' now, `as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, they are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord.' 

"And `where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty;' such liberty `from the law of sin and death,' as the children of this world will not believe, though a man declare it unto them. `The Son hath made them free' who are thus `born of God,' from that great root of sin and bitterness, pride. They feel that all their `sufficiency is of God,' that it is He alone who `is in all their thoughts,' and ` worketh in them both to will and to do of his good pleasure.' They feel that `it is not they' that `speak, but the Spirit of' their `Father who speaketh' in them, and that whatsoever is done by their hands, ` the Father who is in them, he doeth the works.' So that God is to them all in all, and they are nothing in his sight. They are freed from self-will, as desiring nothing but the holy and perfect will of God; not supplies in want, not ease in pain, [This is too strong. Our Lord himself desired ease in pain.' He asked' for it, only with resignation: "Not as I will," I desire, "but as thou wilt."] nor life, or death, or any creature; but continually crying in their Inmost soul, `Father, thy will be done.' They are freed from evil thoughts, so that they cannot enter into them, no, not for a moment. Aforetime, when an evil thought came in, they hooked up, and it vanished away. But now it does not come in, there being no room for this, in a soul which is full of God. They are free from wanderings in prayer. Whensoever they pour out their hearts in a more immediate manner before God, they have no thought of anything past, [This is far too strong. See the sermon "On Wandering Thoughts."] or absent, or to come, but of God alone. In times past, they had wandering thoughts darted in, which yet fled away [l]ike smoke; but now that smoke does not rise at all. They have no fear or doubt, either as to their state in general, or as to any particular action. [Frequently this is the case; but only for a time.] The `unction from the Holy One' teacheth them every hour what they shall do, and what they shall speak; [For a time it may be so; but not always.] nor therefore have they any need to reason concerning it. [Sometimes they have no need; at other times they have.] They are in one sense freed from temptations; for though numberless temptations fly about them, yet they trouble them not. [Sometimes they do not; at other times they do, and that grievously.] At all times their souls are even and calm, their hearts are steadfast and unmovable. Their peace, flowing as a river, `passeth all understanding,' and they `rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.' For they `are sealed by the Spirit unto the day of redemption,' having the witness in themselves, that `there is laid up for' them a `crown of righteousness~ which the Lord will give' them `in that day.' [Not all who are saved from sin; many of them have not attained it yet.] 

"Not that every one is a child of the devil, till he is thus renewed in love: On the contrary, whoever has a sure confidence in God, that through the merits of Christ, his sins are forgiven,' he is a child of God, and, if he abide in him, an heir of all the promises. Neither ought he in anywise to cast away his confidence, or to deny the faith he has received, because it is weak, or because it is tried with fire,' so that his soul is `in heaviness through manifold temptations.' 

~~"Neither dare we affirm, as some have done, that all this salvation is given at once. There is indeed an instantaneous, as well as a gradual, work of God in his children; and there wants not, we know, a cloud of witnesses, who have received, in one moment, either a clear sense of the forgiveness of their sins, or the abiding witness of the Holy Spirit. But we do not know a single instance, in any place, of a person's receiving, in one and the same moment, remission of sins, the abiding witness of the Spirit, and a new, a clean heart. 

"Indeed, how God may work, we cannot tell; but the general manner wherein he does work is this: Those who once trusted in themselves that they were righteous, that they were rich, and increased in goods, and had need of nothing, are, by the Spirit of God applying his word, convinced that they are poor and naked. All the things that they have done are brought to their remembrance and set in array before them, so that they see the wrath of God hanging over their heads, and feel that they deserve the damnation of hell. In their trouble they cry unto the Lord, and he shows them. that he hath taken away their sins, and opens the kingdom of heaven in their hearts, righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.' Sorrow and pain are fled away, and sin has no more dominion over' them. Knowing they are justified freely through faith in his blood, they have peace with God 'through Jesus Christ;' they `rejoice in hope of the glory of God,' and `the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts.' 

"In this peace they remain for days, or weeks, or months, and commonly suppose they shall not know war any more; till some of their old enemies, their bosom sins, or the sin which did most easily beset them, (perhaps anger or desire,) assault them again, and thrust sore at them, that they may fall. Then arises fear, that they shall not endure to the end; and often doubt, whether God has not forgotten them, or whether they did not deceive themselves in thinking their sins were forgiven. Under these clouds, especially if they reason with the devil, they go mourning all the day long. But it is seldom long before their Lord answers for himself, sending them the Holy Ghost to comfort them, to bear witness continually with their spirits that they are' the children of God. Then they are indeed meek and gentle and teachable, even as a little child. And now first do they see the ground of their  heart; [Is it not astonishing, that while this book is extant, which was published four-and-twenty years ago, any one should face me down, that this is a new doctrine, and what I never taught before? -- [This note was first published in the year 1765 EDIT.]] which God before would not disclose unto them, lest the soul should fail before him, and the spirit which he had made. Now they see all the hidden abominations there, the depths of pride, self-will, and hell; yet leaving the witness in themselves, `Thou art an heir of God, a joint heir with Christ, even in the midst of this fiery trial;' which continually heightens both the strong sense they then have of their inability to help themselves, and the inexpressible hunger they feel after a full renewal in his image, in `righteousness and true holiness.' Then God is mindful of the desire of them that fear him, and gives them a single eye, and a pure heart; he stamps upon them his own image and superscription; He createth them anew in Christ Jesus; he cometh unto them with his Son and blessed Spirit, and, fixing his abode in their souls, bringeth them into the `rest which remaineth for the people of God.'" 

Here I cannot but remark, (1.) That this is the strongest account we ever gave of Christian perfection; indeed too strong in more than one particular, as is observed in the notes annexed. (2.) That there is nothing which we have since advanced upon the subject, either in verse or prose, which is not either directly or indirectly contained in this preface. So that whether our present doctrine be right or wrong, it is however the same which we taught from the beginning.

Wesley's Footnotes:


 14. Example From

second hymns

Fourteenth Argument

top   section index   previous argument   next argument
One hymn cited 
from that volume
 I need not give additional proofs of this, by multiplying quotations from the volume itself. It may suffice, to cite part of one hymn only the last in that volume: -- 

Lord, I believe a rest remains, To all thy people known; 

A rest where pure enjoyment reigns, And thou art loved alone; 

A rest where all our soul's desire Is fix'd on things above; 

Where doubt and pain and fear expire, Cast out by perfect love. 

From every evil motion freed, (The Son hath made us free,) 

On all the powers of hell we tread, In glorious liberty. 

Safe in the way of life, above Death, earth, and hell we rise; 

We find, when perfected in love, Our long-sought paradise. 

O that I now the rest might know, Believe, and enter in! 

Now, Saviour, now the power bestow, And let me cease from sin! 

Remove this hardness from my heart, This unbelief remove: 

To me the rest of faith impart, The sabbath of thy love. 

Come, O my Saviour, come away Into my soul descend! 

No longer from thy creature stay, My author and my end. 

The bliss thou hast for me prepared, No longer be delay'd: 

Come, my exceeding great reward, For whom I first was made. 

Come, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, And seal me thine abode! 

Let all I am in thee be lost: Let all be lost in God! 

Can anything be more clear, than, (1.) That here also is as full and high a salvation as we have ever spoken of? (2.) That this is spoken of as receivable by mere faith, and as hindered only by unbelief? (3.) That this faith, and consequently the salvation which it brings, is spoken of as given in aninstant? (4.) That it is supposed that instant may be now? that we need not stay another moment? that "now," the very "now, is the accepted time? now is the day of" this full "salvation?" And, Lastly, that, if any speak otherwise, he is the person that brings new doctrine among us? 

Wesley's Footnotes:


 15. Third Hymns

Fifteenth Argument

top   section index   previous argument   next argument
a third volume of
From the foreword.
 About a year after, namely, in the year 1742, we published another volume of Hymns. The dispute being now at the height, we spoke upon the head more largely than ever before. Accordingly abundance of the hymns in this volume treat expressly on this subject. And so does the preface, which, as it is short, it may not be amiss to insert entire : -- 

"(1.) Perhaps the general prejudice against Christian perfection may chiefly arise from a misapprehension of the nature of it. We willingly allow, and continually declare, there is no such perfection in this life, as implies either a dispensation from doing good, and attending all the ordinances of God, or a freedom from ignorance, mistake, temptation, and a thousand infirmities necessarily connected with flesh and blood. 

"(2.) First. We not only allow, but earnestly contend, that there is no perfection in this life, which implies any dispensation from attending all the ordinances of God, or from doing good unto all men while we have time, though `especially unto the household of faith.' We believe, that not only the babes in Christ, who have newly found redemption in his blood, but those also who are `grown up into perfect men,' are indispensably obliged, as often as they have opportunity, `to eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of Him,' and to `search the Scriptures;' by fasting, as well as temperance, to `keep their bodies under, and bring them into subjection;' and, above all, to pour out their souls in prayer, both secretly, and in the great congregation. 

"(3.) We Secondly believe, that there is no such perfection in this life, as implies an entire deliverance, either from ignorance, or mistake, in things not essential to salvation, or from manifold temptations, or from numberless infirmities, wherewith the corruptible body more or less presses down the soul. We cannot find any ground in Scripture to suppose, that any inhabitant of a house of clay is wholly exempt either from bodily infirmities, or from ignorance of many things; or to imagine any is incapable of mistake, or falling into divers temptations. 

"(4.) But whom then do you mean by `one that is perfect?' We mean one in whom is `the mind which was in Christ,' and who so `walketh as Christ also walked;' a man `that hath clean hands and a pure heart,' or that is `cleansed from all filthiness of flesh and spirit;' one in whom is `no occasion of stumbling,' and who, accordingly, `does not commit sin.' To declare this a little more particularly: We understand by that scriptural expression, `a perfect man,' one in whom God hath fulfilled his faithful word, `From all your filthiness and from all your idols I will cleanse you: I will also save you from all your uncleannesses.' We understand hereby, one whom God lath `sanctified throughout in body, soul, and spirit;' one who `walketh in the light as He is in the light, in whom is no darkness at all; the blood of Jesus Christ his Son having cleansed him from all sin.' 

"(5.) This man can now testify to all mankind, `I am crucified with Christ: Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.' He is `holy as God who called' him `is holy,' both in heart and `in all manner of conversation.' He `loveth the Lord his God with all his heart,' and serveth him `with all his strength.' He `loveth his neighbour,' every man, `as himself;' yea, `as Christ loveth us;' them, in particular, that `despitefully use him and persecute him, because they know not the Son, neither the Father.' Indeed his soul is all love, filled with `bowels of mercies, kindness, meekness, gentleness, longsuffering.' And his life agreeth thereto, full of `the work of faith, the patience of hope, the labour of love.' `And whatsoever' he `doeth either in word or deed,' he `doeth it all in the name,' in the love and power, `of the Lord Jesus.' In a word, he doeth `the will of God on earth, as it is done in heaven.' 

"(6.) This it is to be a perfect man, to be `sanctified throughout;' even `to have a heart so all-flaming with the love of God,' (to use Archbishop Usher's words,) `as continually to offer up every thought, word, and work, as a spiritual sacrifice, acceptable to God through Christ.' In every thought of our hearts, in every word of our tongues, in every work of our hands, to `show forth his praise, who bath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light.' O that both we, and all who seek the Lord Jesus in sincerity, may thus `be made perfect in one!'" 

This is the doctrine which we preached from the beginning, and which we preach at this day. Indeed, by viewing it in every point of light, and comparing it again and again with the word of God on the one hand, and the experience of the children of God on the other, we saw farther into the nature and properties of Christian perfection. But still there is no contrariety at all between our first and our last sentiments. Our first conception of it was, It is to have "the mind which was in Christ," and to "walk as He walked;" to have all the mind that was in Him, and always to walk as he walked: In other words, to be inwardly and outwardly devoted to God; all devoted in heart and life. And we have the same conception of it now, without either addition or diminution.

Wesley's Footnotes:


 16. Example from

third hymns

Sixteenth Argument

top   section index   previous argument   next argument
An example from 
the third volume.
 The hymns concerning it in this volume are too numerous to transcribe. I shall only cite a part of three : -- 
Saviour from sin, I wait to prove That Jesus is thy healing name; To lose, when perfected in love, Whate'er I have, or can, or am; I stay me on thy faithful word, "The servant shall be as his Lord." Answer that gracious end in me For which thy precious life was given; Redeem from all iniquity, Restore, and make me meet for heaven. Unless thou purge my every stain, Thy suffering and my faith is vain. Didst thou not die, that I might live, No longer to myself but thee? Might body, soul, and spirit give To Him who gave himself for me? Come then, my Master and my God, Take the dear purchase of thy blood. Thy own peculiar servant claim, For thy own truth and mercy's sake; Hallow in me thy glorious name; Me for thine own this moment take; And change and throughly purify; Thine only may I live and die. (Page 80.) Chose from the world, if now I stand, Adorn'd with righteousness divine; If, brought into the promised land, I justly call the Saviour mine; The sanctifying Spirit pour, To quench my thirst and wash me clean, Now, Saviour let the gracious shower Descend, and make me pure from sin. Purge me from every sinful blot: My idols all be cast aside: Cleanse me from every evil thought, From all the filth of self and pride. The hatred of the carnal mind Out of my flesh at once remove: Give me a tender heart, resign'd, And pure, and fall of faith and love. O that I now, from sin released, Thy word might to the utmost prove, Enter into thy promised rest; The Canaan of thy perfect love! Now let me gain perfection's height! Now let me into nothing fall; Be less than nothing in my sight, And feel that Christ is all in all. (Page 258.) Lord, I believe, thy work of grace Is perfect in the soul; His heart is pure who sees thy face, His spirit is made whole. From every sickness, by thy word, From every foul disease, Saved, and to perfect health restored, To perfect holiness: He walks in glorious liberty, To sin entirely dead: The Truth, the Son hath made him free, And he is free indeed. Throughout his soul thy glories shine, His soul is all renew'd, And deck'd in righteousness divine, And clothed and fill'd with God. This is the rest, the life, the peace, Which all thy people prove; Love is the bond of perfectness, And all their soul is love. O joyful sound of gospel grace! Christ shall in me appear; I, even I, shall see his face, I shall be holy here! He visits now the house of clay, He shakes his future home; -- O would'st thou, Lord, on this glad day, Into thy temple come! Come, O my God, thyself reveal, Fill all this mighty void; Thou only canst my spirit fill: Come, O my God, my God! Fulfil, falfil my large desires, Large as infinity! Give, give me all my soul requires, All, all that is in thee ! (Page 298.)