Are you a Christian?
AN EXTRACT OF THE REV. MR. JOHN WESLEY’S JOURNAL
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FROM NOVEMBER 1, 1739, TO SEPTEMBER 3, 1741.
When I had waited, (for they spake not, but stood still, and answered no more,) I said, I will answer also my part, I also will show mine opinion. Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. For I know not to give flattering titles; in go doing my Maker would soon take me away. Job 32:16,17,21,22.
NUMBER TO THE MORAVIAN CHURCH, F33 MORE ESPECIALLY THAT PART OF IT NOW OR LATELY RESIDING IN ENGLAND.
1. I AM constrained, at length, to speak my present sentiments concerning you, according to the best light I have; and this, not only upon my own account, that, if I judge amiss, I may receive better information; but for the sake of all those who either love or seek the Lord Jesus in sincerity. Many of these have been utterly at a loss how to judge; and the more so, because they could not but observe, (as I have often done with sorrow of heart,) that scarce any have wrote concerning you, (unless such as were extravagant in your commendation,) who were not evidently prejudiced against you. Hence they either spoke falsely, laying to your charge things which you knew not; or, at least, unkindly; putting the worst construction on things of a doubtful nature, and setting what perhaps was not strictly right in the very worst light it would bear. Whereas, (in my apprehension,) none is capable of judging right, or assisting others to judge right, concerning you, unless he can speak of you as he does of the friend who is as his own soul. 2. Yet it is not wholly for their sake, but for your own also that I now write. It may be, the “Father of lights,” the Giver of “every good gift,” may even by a mean instrument speak to your hearts. My continual desire and prayer to God is, that you may clearly see “what is that good and perfect will” of the Lord; and fully discern how to separate that which is precious among you from the vile. 3. I have delayed thus long, because I loved you, and was, therefore, unwilling to grieve you in any thing; and likewise because I was afraid of creating another obstacle to that union which (if I know my own heart in any degree) I desire above all things under heaven. But I dare no longer delay, lest my silence should be a snare to any others of the children of God; and lest you yourselves should be more confirmed in what I cannot reconcile to the Law and the Testimony. This would strengthen the bar which I long to remove; and were that once taken out of the way, I should rejoice to be a door-keeper in the house of God, a hewer of wood or drawer of water, among you. Surely I would follow you to the ends of the earth, or remain with you in the uttermost parts of the sea. 4. What unites my heart to you is, the excellency (in many respects) of the doctrine taught among you: Your laying the true foundation, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself;” your declaring the free grace of God the cause, and faith the condition, of justification; your bearing witness to those great fruits of faith, “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost;” and that sure mark thereof, “He that is born of God doth not commit sin.” 5. I magnify the grace of God which is in many among you, enabling you to love Him who hath first loved us; teaching you, in whatsoever state you are, therewith to be content; causing, you to trample under foot the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life; and, above all, giving you to love one another in a manner the world knoweth not of. 6. I praise God that He hath delivered, and yet doth deliver, you from those outward sins that over spread the face of the earth. No cursing, no light or false swearing, no profaning the name of God, is heard among you.
No robbery or theft, no gluttony or drunkenness, no whoredom or adultery, no quarreling or brawling, (those scandals of the Christian name,) are found within your gates. No diversions but such as become saints, as may be used in the name of the Lord Jesus. You regard not outward adorning, but rather desire the ornament of a serious, meek, and quiet spirit. You are not slothful in business, but labor to eat your own bread; and wisely manage “the mammon of unrighteousness,” that ye may have to give to others also, to feed the hungry, and cover the naked with a garment. 7. I love and esteem you for your excellent discipline, scarce inferior to that of the apostolic age; for your due subordination of officers, every one knowing and keeping his proper rank; for your exact division of the people under your charge, so that each may be fed with food convenient for them; for your care that all who are employed in the service of the Church should frequently and freely confer together; and, in consequence thereof, your exact and seasonable knowledge of the state of every member; and your ready distribution either of spiritual or temporal relief, as every man hath need. 8. Perhaps, then, some of you will say, “If you allow all this, what more can you desire?” The following extract will answer you at large, wherein I have first given a naked relation (among other things) of many facts and conversations that passed between us in the same order of time as they occurred, and then summed up what I cannot approve of yet, that it may be tried by the word of God. 9. This I have endeavored to do with a tender hand; relating no more than I believed absolutely needful; carefully avoiding all tart and unkind expressions, all that I could foresee would be disobliging to you, or any farther offensive than was implied in the very nature of the thing; laboring every where to speak consistently with that deep sense which is settled in my heart, that you are (though I cannot call you Rabbi, infallible) yet far, far better and wiser than me. 10. And if any of you will smite me friendly, and reprove me; if you will show me wherein I have erred, either in the matter or manner of the following relation, or any part thereof, I will, by the grace of God, confess it before angels and men, in whatsoever way you shall require. Meanwhile do not cease to pray for Your weak, but still affectionate Brother, JOHN WESLEY.
LONDON, JUNE 24, 1744.