Apr 17

Entire SanctificationThe following are quotes from John Wesley and John Fletcher on their definition of entire sanctification:

John Fletcher’s Definition of Christian Perfection

We call Christian perfection the maturity of grace and holiness, which established, adult believers attain to under the Christian dispensation; and by this means we distinguish that maturity of grace, both from the ripeness of grace which belongs to the dispensation of the Jews below us and from the ripeness of glory which belongs to departed saint above us.

Hence it appears that, by Christian perfection, we mean nothing but the cluster and maturity of the graces which compose the Christian character in the church militant. In other words, Christian perfection is a spiritual constellation made up of these gracious stars, — perfect repentance, perfect faith, perfect humility, perfect meekness, perfect self-denial, perfect resignation, perfect hope, perfect charity for our visible enemies, as well as for our earthly relations; and, above all, perfect love for our invisible God, through the explicit knowledge of our Mediator Jesus Christ.

And as this last star is always accompanied by all the others, as Jupiter is by his satellites, we frequently use, as St. John, the phrase “perfect love,” instead of the word “perfection;” and understanding by it the pure love of God, shed abroad in the heart of established believers by the Holy Ghost, which is abundantly given them under the fullness of the Christian dispensation.
–’Christian Perfection Defined’ by John Fletcher

John Wesley’s Definition of Christian Perfection

But some who have much love, peace, and joy, yet have not the direct witness; and others who think they have, are, nevertheless, manifestly wanting in the fruit. How many I will not say; perhaps one in ten; perhaps more or fewer. But some are undeniably wanting in longsuffering, Christian resignation. They do not see the hand of God in whatever occurs, and cheerfully embrace it. They do not in everything give thanks, and rejoice evermore. They are not happy; at least, not always happy; for sometimes they complain. They say, this or that is hard!

Some are wanting in gentleness. They resist evil, instead of turning the other cheek. They do not receive reproach with gentleness; no, nor even reproof. Nay, they are not able to bear contradiction, without the appearance, at least, of resentment. If they are reproved or contradicted, though mildly, they do not take it well; they behave with more distance and reserve than they did before. If they are reproved or contradicted harshly, they answer it with harshness; with a loud voice, or with an angry tone, or in a sharp and surly manner. They speak sharply or roughly, when they reprove others; and behave roughly to their inferiors.

Some are wanting in goodness. They are not kind, mild, sweet, amiable, soft, and loving at all times, in their spirit, in their words, in their look and air, in the whole tenor of their behavior; and that to all, high and low, rich and poor, without respect of persons; particularly to them that are out of the way, to opposers, and to those of their own household. They do not long, study, endeavor by every means, to make all about them happy. They can see them uneasy, and not be concerned; perhaps they make them so; and then wipe their mouths and say, ‘Why, they deserve it; it is their own fault.’

Some are wanting in fidelity, a nice regard to truth, simplicity, and godly sincerity. Their love is hardly without dissimulation; something like guile is found in their mouth. To avoid roughness, they lean to the other extreme. They are smooth to an excess, so as scarce to avoid a degree of fawning, or of seeming to mean what they do not.

Some are wanting in meekness, quietness of spirit, composure, evenness of temper. They are up and down, sometimes high, sometimes low; their mind is not well-balanced. Their affections are either not in due proportion; they have too much of one, too little of another; or they are not duly mixed and tempered together, so as to counterpoise each other. Hence there is often a jar. Their soul is out of tune, and cannot make the true harmony.

Some are wanting in temperance. They do not steadily use that kind and degree of food, which they know, or might know, would most conduce to the health, strength, and vigor of the body: Or they are not temperate in sleep; they do not rigorously adhere to what is best both for body and mind; otherwise they would constantly go to bed and rise early, and at a fixed hour: Or they sup late, which is neither good for body nor soul: Or they use neither fasting nor abstinence: Or they prefer (which are so many sorts of intemperance) that preaching, reading, or conversation, which gives them transient joy and comfort, before that which brings godly sorrow, or instruction in righteousness. Such joy is not sanctified; it doth not tend to, and terminate in, the crucifixion of the heart. Such faith doth not center in God, but rather in itself.

So far all is plain. I believe you have faith, and love, and joy, and peace. Yet you who are particularly concerned know each for yourself, that you are wanting in the respects above-mentioned. You are wanting either in long-suffering, gentleness, or goodness; either in fidelity, meekness, or temperance. Let us not, then, on either hand, fight about words. In the thing we clearly agree.

You have not what I call perfection; if others will call it so, they may. However, hold fast what you have, and earnestly pray for what you have not.
–’Plain Account’ by John Wesley, Chapter 22

John Wesley on ‘How Christians Are to Wait for Entire Sanctification’

Not in careless indifference, or indolent inactivity; but in vigorous, universal obedience, in a zealous keeping of all the commandments, in watchfulness and painfulness, in denying ourselves, and taking up our cross daily; as well as in earnest prayer and fasting and a close attendance on all the ordinances of God.

And if any man dream of attaining it any other way, (yea, or of keeping it when it is attained, when he has received it even in the largest measure,) he deceive his own soul. It is true, we receive it by simple faith: But God does not, will not, give that faith, unless we seek it with all diligence, in the way which he hath ordained.
–’Plain Account’ by John Wesley, Chapter 19

I have read Wesley’s ‘Plain Account’ a number of times and refer to it often. I am not saying that I agree with Wesley’s standard of entire sanctification completely, as even in the last published edition he has numerous footnotes where he states that he held the referred issue to high.

I do know that when I read Plain Account I go away very inspired and provoked to be more for God. I trust the above quotes do the same for you.

Just preparing this post and reading the contents of the quotes creates his holy desire in my heart to have more of what the Lord wants me to have and to be more of what Jesus has called us as saints to be.

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