Friday, October 29, 2010

More on Perfection and JW makes clear what he dislikes in a person

Fri Oct 29 1762: I left Bristol, and the next day came to London. Monday, NOVEMBER 1. I went down to Canterbury. Here I seriously reflected on some late occurrences; and, after weighing the matter thoroughly, wrote as follows:—
"WITHOUT any preface or ceremony, which is needless between you and me, I will simply and plainly tell what I dislike in your doctrine, spirit, or outward behaviour. When I say yours, I include brother Bell and Owen, and those who are most closely connected with them.
--I like your doctrine of Perfection, or pure love; love excluding sin; your insisting that it is merely by faith; that consequently it is instantaneous, (though preceded and followed by a gradual work,) and that it may be now, at this instant.
"But I dislike your supposing man may be as perfect as an angel; that he can be absolutely perfect; that he can be infallible, or above being tempted; or that the moment he is pure in heart, he cannot fall from it.
"I dislike the saying, this was not known or taught among us till within two or three years. I grant you did not know it. You have over and over denied instantaneous sanctification to me; but I have known and taught it (and so has my brother, as our writings show) above these twenty years.
"I dislike your directly or indirectly depreciating justification; saying, a justified person is not in Christ, is not born of God, is not a new creature, has not a new heart, is not sanctified, not a temple of the Holy Ghost; or that he cannot please God, or cannot grow in grace.
"I dislike your saying that one saved from sin needs nothing more than looking to Jesus; needs not to hear or think of any thing else; believe, believe, is enough; that he needs no self-examination, no times of private prayer; needs not mind little or outward things; and that he cannot be taught by any person who is not in the same state.
"I dislike your affirming that justified persons in general persecute them that are saved from sin; that they have persecuted you on this account; and that for two years past you have been more persecuted by the two brothers, than ever you was by the world in all your life.
--As to your spirit, I like your confidence in God, and your zeal for the salvation of souls.
"But I dislike something which has the appearance of pride, of overvaluing yourselves, and undervaluing others; particularly the Preachers; thinking not only that they are blind, and that they are not sent of God, but even that they are dead; dead to God, and walking in the way to hell; that they are going one way, you another; that they have no life in them. Your speaking of yourselves, as though you were the only men who knew and taught the Gospel; and as if, not only all the Clergy, but all the Methodists besides, were in utter darkness.
"I dislike something that has the appearance of enthusiasm, overvaluing feelings and inward impressions; mistaking the mere work of imagination for the voice of the Spirit; expecting the end without the means; and undervaluing reason, knowledge, and wisdom in general.
"I dislike something that has the appearance of Antinomianism, not magnifying the Law, and making it honourable; not enough valuing tenderness of conscience, and exact watchfulness in order thereto; using faith rather as contradistinguished from holiness, than as productive of it.
"But what I most of all dislike is, your littleness of love to your brethren, to your own society; your want of union of heart with them, and bowels of mercies toward them; your want of meekness, gentleness, longsuffering; your impatience of contradiction; your counting every man your enemy that reproves or admonishes you in love; your bigotry, and narrowness of spirit, loving in a manner only those that love you; your censoriousness, proneness to think hardly of all who do not exactly agree with you; in one word, your divisive spirit. Indeed I do not believe that any of you either design or desire a separation; but you do not enough fear, abhor, and detest it, shuddering at the very thought: And all the preceding tempers tend to it, and gradually prepare you for it. Observe, I tell you before. God grant you may immediately and affectionately take the warning!
--As to your outward behaviour, I like the general tenor of your life, devoted to God, and spent in doing good.
"But I dislike your slighting any, the very least Rules of the Bands or society; and your doing anything that tends to hinder others from exactly observing them. Therefore,
"I dislike your appointing such meetings as hinder others from attending either the public preaching, or their class or band; or any other meeting, which the Rules of the society, or their office requires them to attend.
"I dislike your spending so much time in several meetings, as many that attend can ill spare from the other duties of their calling, unless they omit either the preaching, or their class, or band. This naturally tends to dissolve our society, by cutting the sinews of it.
"As to your more public meetings, I like the praying fervently and largely for all the blessings of God; and I know much good has been done hereby, and hope much more will be done.
"But I dislike several things therein: 1. The singing, or speaking, or praying, of several at once: 2. The praying to the Son of God only, or more than to the Father: 3. The using improper expressions in prayer; sometimes too bold, if not irreverent; sometimes too pompous and magnificent, extolling yourselves rather than God, and telling him what you are, not what you want: 4. Using poor, flat, bald hymns: 5. The never kneeling at prayer: 6. Your using postures or gestures highly indecent: 7. Your screaming, even so as to make the words unintelligible: 8. Your affirming, people will be justified or sanctified just now: 9. The affirming they are, when they are not: 10. The bidding them say, 'I believe:’ 11. The bitterly condemning any that oppose, calling them wolves, &c.; and pronouncing them hypocrites, or not justified.
"Read this calmly and impartially before the Lord, in prayer: So shall the evil cease, and the good remain; and you will then be more than ever united to
Your affectionate brother,
"Canterbury, Nov. 2, 1762.

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