Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume VII

Contents:
Author: John Wesley

II.

1. From hence it follows, that the properties of love are the properties of zeal also. Now, one of the chief properties of love is humility: "Love is not puffed up." Accordingly, this is a property of true zeal: Humility is inseparable from it. As is the degree of zeal, such is the degree of humility: They must rise and fall together. The same love which fills a man with zeal for God, makes him little, and poor, and vile in his own eyes.

2. Another of the properties of love is meekness: Consequently it is one of the properties of zeal. It teaches us to be meek, as well as lowly; to be equally superior to anger or pride, like as the wax melteth at the fire, so before this sacred flame all turbulent passions melt away, and leave the soul unruffled and serene.

3. Yet another property of loves and consequently of zeal, is unwearied patience: For "love endureth all things." It arms the soul with entire resignation to all the disposals of Divine Providence, and teaches us to say, in every occurrence, "It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good." It enables us, in whatever station, therewith to be content; to repine at nothing, to murmur at nothing, "but in everything to give thanks."

4. There is a Fourth property of Christian zeal, which deserves to be more particularly considered. This we learn from the very words of the Apostle; "It is good to be zealously affected always" (not to have transient touches of zeal, but a steady, rooted disposition) "in a good thing:" In that which is good; for the proper object of zeal is, good in general; that is, everything that is good, really such, in the sight of God.

5. But what is good in the sight of God? What is that religion, wherewith God is always well pleased? How do the parts of this rise one above another, and what is the comparative value of them?

This is a point exceeding little considered, and therefore little understood. Positive divinity, many have some knowledge of. But few know anything of comparative divinity. I never saw but one tract upon this head; a sketch of which it may be of use to subjoin.

In a Christian believer love sits upon the throne which is erected in the inmost soul; namely, love of God and man, which fills the whole heart, and reigns without a rival. In a circle near the throne are all holy tempers; — long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, fidelity, temperance; and if any other were comprised in "the mind which was in Christ Jesus." In an exterior circle are all the works of mercy, whether to the souls or bodies of men. By these we exercise all holy tempers; by these we continually improve them, so that all these are real means of grace, although this is not commonly adverted to. Next to these are those that are usually termed works of piety; — reading and hearing the word, public, family, private prayer, receiving the Lord’s Supper, fasting or abstinence. Lastly, that his followers may the more effectually provoke one another to love, holy tempers, and good works, our blessed Lord has united them together in one body, the Church, dispersed all over the earth; a little emblem of which, of the Church universal, we have in every particular Christian congregation.

6. This is that religion which our Lord has established upon earth, ever since the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost. This is the entire, connected system of Christianity: And thus the several parts of it rise one above another, from that lowest point, the assembling ourselves together, to the highest, — love enthroned in the heart. And hence it is easy to learn the comparative value of every branch of religion. Hence also we learn a Fifth property of true zeal.

That as it is always exercised en kalw, in that which is good, so it is always proportioned to that good, to the degree of goodness that is in its object.

7. For example. Every Christian ought, undoubtedly, to be zealous for the Church, bearing a strong affection to it, and earnestly desiring its prosperity and increase. He ought to be thus zealous, as for the Church universal, praying for it continually, so especially for that particular Church or Christian society whereof he himself is a member. For this he ought to wrestle with God in prayer; meantime using every means in his power to enlarge its borders, and to strengthen his brethren, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

8. But he should be more zealous for the ordinances of Christ than for the Church itself; for prayer in public and private; for the Lord’s Supper; for reading, hearing, and meditating on his word; and for the much neglected duty of fasting. These he should earnestly recommend; first, by his example; and then by advice, by argument, persuasion, and exhortation, as often as occasion offers.

9. Thus should he show his zeal for works of piety; but much more for works of mercy; seeing "God will have mercy and not sacrifice;" that is, rather than sacrifice. Whenever, therefore, one interferes with the other, works of mercy are to be preferred. Even reading, hearing, prayer, are to be omitted, or to be postponed, "at charity’s almighty call, when we are called to relieve the distress of our neighbor, whether in body or soul.

10. But as zealous as we are for all good works, we should still be more zealous for holy tempers; for planting and promoting, both in our own souls, and in all we have any intercourse with, lowliness of mind, meekness, gentleness, long-suffering, contentedness, resignation unto the will of God, deadness to the world and the things of the world, as the only means of being truly alive to God. For these proofs and fruits of living faith we cannot be too zealous. We should "talk of them as we sit in our house," and "when we walk by the way," and "when we lie down," and "when we rise up." We should make them continual matter of prayer; as being far more excellent than any outward works whatever: Seeing those will fail when the body drops off, but these will accompany us into eternity.

11. But our choicest zeal should be reserved for love itself, — the end of the commandment, the fulfilling of the law. The Church, the ordinances, outward works of every kind, yea, all other holy tempers, are inferior to this, and rise in value only as they approach nearer and nearer to it. Here then is the great object of Christian zeal. Let every true believer in Christ apply, with all fervency of spirit, to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that his heart may be more and more enlarged in love to God and to all mankind. This one thing let him do: Let him "press on to this prize of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

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Chicago: John Wesley, "II.," Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume VII, ed. Thomas Jackson in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume VII (London: Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, 1872), Original Sources, accessed April 22, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=D1SPPAL2IUJXXFD.

MLA: Wesley, John. "II." Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume VII, edited by Thomas Jackson, in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume VII, London, Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, 1872, Original Sources. 22 Apr. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=D1SPPAL2IUJXXFD.

Harvard: Wesley, J, 'II.' in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume VII, ed. . cited in 1872, Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume VII, Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, London. Original Sources, retrieved 22 April 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=D1SPPAL2IUJXXFD.