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CHARACTER OF A METHODIST.

BY JOHN WESLEY.

[JOHN WESLEY: The founder of Methodism; born at Epworth, Lincolnshire, June 17, 1703 (0.8.); died March 2, 1791. He was educated at Christ Church College, Oxford, was ordained a deacon in 1725; became a Fellow of Lincoln College in 1726, and was ordained a priest in 1728. In 1729 he became leader of the Holy Club at Oxford. In 1735 he joined General Oglethorpe's expedition to Georgia and remained there until 1738, associating much with the Moravians. After his return he devoted his life to evangelical work, preaching, it is said, more than 40,500 sermons. He published the following volumes : "Primitive Physic" (1747), “Explanatory Notes on the New Testament" (1755), “Doctrine of Original Sin " (1757), “Survey of the Wisdom of God in Creation " (1763), “ Notes on the Old and New Testaments" (1764), “ Preservative against Unsettled Notions in Religion" (1770), and “A Calm Address to Our American Colonies (1775). ]

1. The distinguishing marks of a Methodist are not his opinions of any sort. His assenting to this or that scheme of religion, his embracing any particular set of notions, his espousing the judgment of one man or of another, are all quite wide of the point. Whosoever, therefore, imagines, that a Methodist is a man of such or such an opinion, is grossly ignorant of the whole affair; he mistakes the truth totally. We believe, indeed, that all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God; and herein we are distinguished from Jews, Turks, and Infidels. We believe the written word of God to be the only and sufficient rule, both of Christian faith and practice; and herein we are

; fundamentally distinguished from those of the Romish church. We believe Christ to be the eternal, supreme God; and herein we are distinguished from the Socinians and Arians. But as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think. So that whatsoever they are, whether right or wrong, they are no distinguishing marks of a Methodist.

2. Neither are words or phrases of any sort. We do not place our religion, or any part of it, in being attached to any peculiar mode of speaking, any quaint or uncommon set of expressions.

The most obvious, easy, common words, wherein our meaning can be conveyed, we prefer before others, both on ordinary occasions, and when we speak of the things of God. We never, therefore, willingly or designedly deviate from the most usual way of speaking ; unless when we express Scripture truths in Scripture words (which we presume no Christian will condemn). Neither do we affect to use any particular expressions of Scripture more frequently than others, unless they are such as are more frequently used by the inspired writers themselves. So that it is as gross an error to place the marks of a Methodist in his words as in opinions of any sort.

3. Nor do we desire to be distinguished by actions, customs, or usages, of an indifferent nature. Our religion does not lie in doing what God has not enjoined, or abstaining from what he hath not forbidden. It does not lie in the form of our apparel, in the posture of our body, or the covering of our heads; nor yet in abstaining from marriage, or from meats and drinks, which are all good if received with thanksgiving. Therefore neither will any man who knows whereof he affirms, fix the mark of a Methodist here; in any actions or customs purely indifferent, undetermined by the Word of God.

4. Nor, lastly, is he distinguished by laying the whole stress of religion on any single part of it. If you say, “ Yes, he is, for he thinks we are saved by faith alone.” I answer, you do not understand the terms. By salvation he means holiness of heart and life. And this he affirms to spring from true faith alone. Can even a nominal Christian deny it? Is this placing a part of religion for the whole? Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid! Yea, we establish the law.

, We do not place the whole of religion (as too many do, God knoweth) either in doing no harm or in doing good, or in using the ordinances of God. No, not in all of them together, wherein we know by experience a man may labor many years, and at the end have no true religion at all, no more than he had at the beginning. Much less in any one of these; or, it may be in a scrap of one of them : like her who fancies herself a virtuous woman, only because she is not a prostitute; or him who dreams he is an honest man, merely because he does not rob or steal. May the Lord God of my fathers preserve me from such a poor, starved religion as this! Were this the mark of a Methodist, I would sooner choose to be a sincere Jew, Turk, or Pagan.

5. “What then is the mark? Who is a Methodist according to your own account?” I answer: A Methodist is one who has the love of God shed abroad in the heart, by the Holy Ghost, given unto him; one who loves the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind, and

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with all his strength. God is the joy of the heart, and the desire of his soul, which is constantly crying out: “Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none on earth I desire beside thee! My God and my all! Thou art the strength of my heart and my portion for ever!”

6. He is therefore happy in God, yea, always happy, as having in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life, and overflowing his soul with peace and joy. Perfect love having now cast out fear, he rejoices evermore. He rejoices in the Lord always, even in God his Saviour: and in the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom he hath now received the atonement. Having found redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of his sins, he cannot but rejoice, whenever he looks back on the horrible pit out of which he is delivered, when he sees all his transgressions blotted out as a cloud, and his iniquities as a thick cloud. He cannot but rejoice, whenever he looks on the state wherein he now is, being justified freely and having peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. For he that believeth hath the witness of this in himself; being now the son of God by faith; because he is a son, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into his heart, crying, Abba, Father! And the Spirit itself beareth witness with his spirit, that he is a child of God. He rejoiceth also, whenever he looks forward, in hope of the glory that shall be revealed : yea, this his joy is full, and all his bones cry out, “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten me again to a living hope — of an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for me.'

7. And he who hath this hope, thus full of immortality, in everything 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 the Lord giveth or taketh away, equally blessing the name of the Lord. For he hath learned in whatsoever state he is, therewith to be content. He knoweth both how to be abased, and how to abound. Everywhere and in all things he is instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and suffer need. 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; knowing that as every good gift cometh from above, so none but good can come from the Father of Lights, into whose hand he has wholly committed his body and soul, as into the hands of a faithful Creator. He is therefore careful (anxiously or uneasily) 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.

8. For indeed he prays without ceasing. It is given him always to pray and not to faint. Not that he is always in the house of prayer: though he neglects no opportunity of being there. Neither is he always on his knees, although he often is, or on his face, before the Lord his God. Nor yet is he always crying aloud to God or calling upon Him in words. For many times the Spirit maketh intercession for him with groans that cannot be uttered: but at all times the language of his heart is this : “ Thou brightness of the eternal glory, unto thee is my mouth, though without a voice, and my silence speaketh unto thee.” And this is true prayer, and this alone. But his heart is ever 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 mind still fixed upon Him, and everywhere seeing Him that is invisible.

9. And while he thus always exercises his love to God, by praying without ceasing, rejoicing evermore, and in everything giving thanks, this commandment is written in his heart, that he who loveth God, love his brother also. And he accordingly loves his neighbor as himself; he loves every man as his own soul. His heart is full of love to all mankind, to every child of the Father of the spirits of all flesh. That a man is not personally known to him, is no bar to his love: no, nor that he is known to be such as he approves not, that he repays hatred for his good-will. For he loves his enemies, yea, and the enemies of God: the evil and the unthankful. 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 continue to spurn his love, and still despitefully use him and persecute him.

10. For he is pure in heart. The love of God has purified his heart from all revengeful passions, from envy, malice, and wrath, from every unkind ternper or malign affection. It hath cleansed him from pride and haughtiness of spirit, whereof alone cometh

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