SOME thoughts occurred to my mind this morning concerning Christian perfection, and the manner and time of receiving it, which I believe may be useful to set down.
1. By perfection I mean the humble, gentle, patient love of God and our neighbour, ruling our tempers, words, and actions. I do not include an impossibility of falling from it, either in part or in whole. Therefore, I retract several expressions in our hymns, which partly express, partly imply, such an impossibility. And I do not contend for the term sinless, though I do not object against it.
2. As to the manner. I believe this perfection is always wrought in the soul by a simple act of faith; consequently in an instant. But I believe in a gradual work both preceding and following that instant.
3. As to the time. I believe this instant generally is the instant of death, the moment before the soul leaves the body. But I believe it may be ten, twenty, or forty years before. I believe it is usually many years after justification; but that it may be within five years or five months after it, I know no conclusive argument to the contrary. If it must be many years after justification I would be glad to know how many. Pretium quotus arroget annus?
And how many days or months, or even years, can any one allow to be between perfection and death? How far from justification must it be; and how near to. death?
LONDON, Jan. 27, 1767
THE PROMISE OF SANCTIFICATION
(Ezek. xxxvi. 25, etc.)
BY THE REV. CHARLES WESLEY
God of all power, and truth, and grace,
Which shall from age to age endure;
Whose word, when heaven and earth shall pass,
Remains and stands for ever sure:
Calmly to Thee my soul looks up,
And waits Thy promises to prove;
The object of my steadfast hope,
The seal of Thine eternal love.
That I Thy mercy may proclaim,
That all mankind Thy truth may see,
Hallow Thy great and glorious Name
And perfect holiness in me.
Chose from the world, if now I stand
Adorn'd in righteousness divine;
If, brought unto the promised land,
I justly call the Saviour mine:
Perform the work Thou hast begun,
My inmost soul to Thee convert:
Love me, for ever love Thine own,
And sprinkle with Thy blood my heart.
Thy sanctifying Spirit pour,
To quench my thirst and wash me clean;
Now, Father, 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.
Give me a new, a perfect heart,
From doubt, and fear, and sorrow free;
The mind which was in Christ impart,
And let my spirit cleave to Thee.
O take this heart of stone away!
(Thy rule it doth not, cannot own);
In me no longer let it stay;
O take away this heart of stone!
The hatred of my carnal mind
Out of my flesh at once remove;
Give me a tender heart, resigned,
And pure, and fill'd with faith and love.
Within me Thy good Spirit place,
Spirit of health, and love, and power;
Plant in me Thy victorious grace,
And sin shall never enter more.
Cause me to walk in Christ my way,
And I Thy statutes shall fulfil;
In every point Thy law obey,
And perfectly perform Thy will.
Hast Thou not said, who canst not lie,
That I Thy law shall keep and do?
Lord, I believe, though men deny:
They all are false; but Thou art true.
O that I now, from sin released,
Thy word might to the utmost prove!
Enter into the promised rest,
The Canaan of Thy perfect love
There let me ever, ever dwell;
Be Thou my God, and I will be
Thy servant: O set to Thy seal!
Give me eternal life in Thee.
From all remaining filth within
Let me in Thee salvation have;
From actual and from inbred sin
My ransom'd soul persist to save.
Washout my old orig'nal stain:
Tell me no more it cannot be,
Demons or men! The Lamb was slain,
His blood was all pour'd out for me!
Sprinkle it, Jesu, on my heart:
One drop of Thy all-cleansing blood
Shall make my sinfulness depart,
And fill me with the life of God.
Father, supply my every need;
Sustain the life Thyself hast given;
Call for the corn, the living bread,
The manna that comes down from heaven.
The gracious fruits of righteousness,
Thy blessings' unexhausted store,
In me abundantly increase;
Nor let me ever hunger more.
Let me no more in deep complain,
'My leanness, 0 my leanness!' cry;
Alone consumed with pining want,
Of all my Father's children I!
The painful thirst, the fond desire,
Thy joyous presence shall remove;
While my full soul doth still require
The whole eternity of love.
Holy, and true, and righteous Lord,
I wait to prove Thy-perfect will;
Be mindful of Thy gracious word,
And stamp me with Thy Spirit's seal!
Thy faithful mercies let me find,
In which Thou causest me to trust;
Give me Thy meek and lowly mind,
And lay my spirit in the dust.
Show me how foul my heart hath been,
When all renew'd by grace I am;
When Thou hast emptied me of sin,
Show me the fulness of my shame.
Open my faith's interior eye,
Display Thy glory from above;
And all I am shall sink and die,
Lost in astonishment and love.
Confound, o'erpower me, with Thy grace;
I would be by myself abhorr'd:
(All might, all majesty, all praise,
All glory be to Christ my Lord!)
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.
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