Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIV

Author: John Wesley

The Preface.

1. Perhaps the general prejudice against Christian perfection (the subject of many of the following verses) may chiefly arise from a misapprehension of the nature of it. We willingly allow, and continually declare, there is no such perfection in this life, as implies either a dispensation from doing good, and attending all the ordinances of God; or a freedom from ignorance, mistake, temptation, and a thousand infirmities necessarily connected with flesh and blood.

2. First. We not only allow, but earnestly contend, (as "the faith once delivered to the saints,") that there is no perfection in this life which implies any dispensation from attending all the ordinances of God, or from doing good unto all men, while we have time, though especially unto the household of faith. And whosoever they are that have taught otherwise, we are convinced they are not taught of God. We dare not receive them, neither bid them God speed, lest we be partakers of their evil deeds. We believe that not only the babes in Christ, who have newly found redemption in his blood, but those also who are grown up unto perfect men, unto "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ," are indispensably obliged, (and that they are obliged thereto is their glory and crown of rejoicing,) as oft as they have opportunity, to eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of Him; to search the Scriptures; by fasting, as well as temperance, to keep their bodies under, and bring them into subjection; and, above all, to pour out their souls in prayer, both secretly, and in the great congregation.

3. We, Secondly, believe, and therefore speak, and that unto all men, and with much assurance, that there is no such perfection in this life as implies an entire deliverance, either from ignorance or mistake, in things not essential to salvation, or from manifold temptations, or from numberless infirmities, wherewith the corruptible body, more or less, presses down the soul. This is the same thing which we have spoken from the beginning. If any teach otherwise, they are not of us. We cannot find any ground in Scripture to suppose that any inhabitant of a house of clay is wholly exempt from either bodily infirmities, or from ignorance of many things; or to imagine any is incapable of mistake, or of falling into divers temptations. No; "the disciple is not above his Master, nor the servant above his Lord." It is enough, that "every one who is perfect shall be as his Master."

4. "But what, then," it may be asked, "do you mean by one that is perfect? or one that is as his Master?" We mean, one in whom is the mind which was in Christ, and who so walketh as He walked; a man that hath clean hands and a pure heart; or that is cleansed from all filthiness of flesh and spirit; one in whom there is no occasion of stumbling; and who, accordingly, doth not commit sin. To declare this a little more particularly: We understand by that scriptural expression, "a perfect man," one in whom God hath fulfilled his faithful word, "From all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. I will also save you from all your uncleannesses." We understand hereby, one whom God hath sanctified throughout, even in body, soul, and spirit; one who walketh in the light, as He is in the light; in whom there is no darkness at all; the blood of Jesus Christ his Son having cleansed him from all sin.

5. This man can now testify to all mankind, "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." He is holy, as God who called him is holy, both in life, and in all manner of conversation. He loveth the Lord his God with all his heart, and serveth Him with all his strength. He loveth his neighbor (every man) as himself; yea, as Christ loved us; them in particular that despitefully use him and persecute him, because they know not the Son, neither the Father. Indeed, his soul is all love, filled with bowels of mercies, kindness, meekness, gentleness, long suffering. And his life agreeth thereto; full of "the work of faith, the patience of hope, the labor of love." And whatsoever he doeth, either in word or deed, he doeth it all in the name, in the love and power, of the Lord Jesus. In a word, he doeth the will of God on earth, as it is done in heaven.

6. This it is to be a perfect man, to be sanctified throughout, created anew in Jesus Christ; even "to have a heart all flaming with the love of God," (to use Archbishop Usher’s words,) "so as continually to offer up every thought, word, and work, as a spiritual sacrifice, acceptable unto God through Christ:" In every thought of our hearts, in every word of our tongues, in every work of our hands, to show forth His praise who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. O that both we, and all who seek the Lord Jesus in sincerity, may thus be made perfect in one!


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Chicago: John Wesley, "The Preface.," Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIV, ed. Thomas Jackson in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIV (London: Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, 1872), Original Sources, accessed April 22, 2019,

MLA: Wesley, John. "The Preface." Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIV, edited by Thomas Jackson, in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIV, London, Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, 1872, Original Sources. 22 Apr. 2019.

Harvard: Wesley, J, 'The Preface.' in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIV, ed. . cited in 1872, Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume XIV, Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, London. Original Sources, retrieved 22 April 2019, from