Apr 17

Perfect Love by J.A. WoodI just posted the questions from E.T. Curnick’s A Catechism on Christian Perfection, and I thought it would be good while I am on the subject to post the questions from J.A. Wood’s book ‘Perfect Love’.

J.A. Wood’s book ‘Perfect Love’ had two main editions, the original edition when the book was published in 1861, and the 1880 edition. I own a copy of both editions and did a blog post listing the chapters of both editions and the list of recommendations from different readers that is in the 1861 edition.

To that list I also added my own testimony concerning the quality of the book, which is as follows:

I would like to add my own testimony concerning this book. I have read many of the classic books on entire sanctification, and in my opinion none of them are as easy to read, deal with the subject in completeness, nor have I benefited from the others as I have benefited from ‘Perfect Love’. I have read it through twice in the last couple of years, and many times I go to it to look up what it says on different subjects.

When I read this book I feel provoked unto deeper holiness in my spirit, convicted concerning my needs and lacks, and inspired to be all that the blood of Jesus can make me.

I strongly recommend the book ‘Perfect Love’ to all that are serious in their desire to live a Christ-centered, Christ-honoring, zealous, holy, successful, fully-consecrated Christian life. In my opinion, next to the Bible, the Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis and Perfect Love by J. A. Wood are the most important books to read and to read regularly.

Perfect Love by J.A. Wood can be purchased from Schmul Publishing Company for $27.99 with 20% off for members and 40% off for lifetime members. The book is not listed in their online database, but you can order it by phone at 1-800-772-6658 or email at spchale at hotmail dot com.

Amazon has a number of used Perfect Love by J.A. Wood for sale. Alibris has a number of used Perfect Love by J.A. Wood for sale. Abebooks has a number of used Perfect Love by J.A. Wood for sale.

No matter what your position is on the Wesleyan doctrine of Christian Perfection, these questions from Wood’s book make for good discussion and many of them in and of themselves are thought-provoking.

Perfect Love by J.A. Wood


The following pages are designed for the benefit of believers in the church of Christ, who “hunger and thirst after righteousness,” and seek light concerning the doctrine, experience, profession, and practice of Christian holiness.

Nearly twenty beautiful years have passed since the first writing of “Perfect Love,” — two years after our blessed experience of the fullness in Christ. Since then, over twenty seven thousand copies have been scattered in this country, and the work published in England. The many gratifying proofs of its usefulness to devout and good people have induced its revision and enlargement. In so doing, we have carefully and prayerfully rewritten and revised almost every page, and added about one-third to the book. While we have not materially changed the views of the first writing, we trust, not only valuable additions have been made, but that it has been improved in every respect, and will be found to be a repository of light, love, and sweetness. It is a pleasant item, that after these many years of reading, study, and enlarged experience, we find not an essential point to renounce; therefore, our work has been to systematize, state more clearly, make stronger, enlarge, and add other important items.

The book retains its catechetical form, to meet the many interrogations so often made regarding this subject, and also to help the memory of the reader. This form allows a general, though brief, presentation of the whole subject. Our object has been to clearly present and strongly enforce gospel truth, and when we could do this more efficiently in the language of others, and by quotations from them, we have freely done so.

We have given credit for what we have selected, except in those cases where we have changed the words or phrases. The italics in some quotations are our own. The reader will find many things in this work, which, in their original forms, are dispersed through many volumes, which most people have neither money to purchase nor time to read.

We have not written so much for the learnedly critical as for the common people who need “line upon line, and precept upon precept.” Many of these appear perplexed and mystified on this plain and intelligible subject; which, when properly understood, is seen to possess none of those objectionable features which are so often attributed to it by its mistaken opponents.

We have often been grieved and astonished at the amount of opposition, unbelief, and ignorance we have found regarding it.

We are so impressed with its truth and necessity, and so delighted with its beauty and sweetness, we hope never to cease writing about it, or preaching it, as long as we can move a pen, or use our voice, and would love to — as Dr. Gibson, bishop of London, advised Mr. Wesley to do — “Publish it to all the world.”

With a grateful sense of obligation to God for the kindly reception of “Perfect Love” in its first writing, by hundreds of friendly notices, we now respectfully submit this enlarged and improved volume to the consideration of sincere and inquiring minds, trusting it will be helpful in promoting Christian holiness. Every man has a given circle of friends to whom he has access, and over whom he has an influence. The author trusts that some who would not otherwise become interested in this theme, may be reached by this book, and induced to seek that holiness “without which no man shall see the Lord.”


1. Terms Signifying Complete Gospel Salvation

1. What terms are commonly used to express full salvation?
2. Are not these terms applicable to the beginning of the Christian life?

2. Justification

3. What is Justification?
4. Can a state of justification be retained while sin is committed?
5. Are obedience and disobedience units in their spirit and root?

3. The Nature of Regeneration

6. What is Regeneration — its nature and extent?
7. What is the difference between justification and sanctification?

4. Regeneration and Entire Sanctification Not Identical

8. Do the Scriptures teach a distinction between regeneration and entire sanctification?
9. Does the Christian Church generally recognize this distinction?
10. Does the Methodist Church teach a distinction?
11. Does this distinction harmonize with Christian experience?
12. Does the Lord ever entirely sanctify the soul at justification and regeneration?
13. How did Mr. Wesley view the idea that the soul is entirely sanctified at regeneration?
14. What was the Moravian or Zinzendorf doctrine which Mr. Wesley opposed?
15. Is the theory that the soul is entirely sanctified at regeneration attended with serious difficulties?
16. If regeneration is partial and not entire sanctification, where is the limit?
17. Does a state of justification involve a desire to be holy?

5. The Time between Regeneration and Entire Sanctification

18. How soon after regeneration may the soul be entirely sanctified?

6. The Nature of Christian Perfection

19. What is entire sanctification or Christian perfection?
20. What is the distinction between regeneration and entire sanctification?
21. Is there a difference between sin and depravity?
22. Do those merely regenerated often think indwelling sin is destroyed?
23. What is the cause of so much prejudice against the doctrine of entire sanctification, and even of hostility to it?
24. Is Christian Perfection absolute perfection?
25. Is Christian perfection the same as Angelic perfection?
26. Is Christian perfection synonymous with Adamic perfection?
27. Do you teach a sinless perfection?
28. Does Christian Perfection exclude a need of the atonement?
29. What does the highest evangelical perfection include?
30. If the law is uncompromising in its claims, and the best Christian is defective, because of powers enfeebled by the fall, how can men be perfect?
31. Is personal holiness imparted or imputed by Christ?
32. Is repression entire sanctification?
33. Does Christian Perfection exclude growth in grace?
34. Can holiness be retained without growing in grace?
35. How can holiness be perfect and yet progressive?
36. Where is growth in grace to be chiefly?
37. Why can a soul entirely sanctified grow in grace more rapidly than others?
38. Do the graces of the Spirit exist in the entirely sanctified soul without alloy?
39. Are there two kinds of religious life?
40. Does Christian perfection exclude a liability to temptation?
41. Are the temptations of the entirely sanctified soul the same as those of persons merely regenerated?
42. When does temptation end and sin begin?
43. Does Christian holiness exclude a liability to apostasy?
44. Does Christian perfection secure perfect knowledge?
45. Does Christian perfection exclude the infirmities of human nature?
46. Is it important to distinguish between inbred sin and the innocent infirmities of fallen human nature?
47. What are the distinguishing characteristics of perfect love?
48. Is perfect love or purity a very high state of grace?
49. Is there not danger of putting the standard of holiness too high?

7. Holiness Attainable

51. Will you present some evidences that holiness is attainable?
52. If entire sanctification is attainable, why do so few experience it?
53. Can a person successfully seek the gradual attainment of entire sanctification?
54. Does the Scripture imagery employed to illustrate the work of entire sanctification imply rapidity and dispatch?
55. Is it not objected that the terms “corruption,” “defilement,” and the like, are too physical to be asserted of the soul?
56. Can a state of entire sanctification be secured by ordinary growth in grace?
57. In what sense is entire sanctification instantaneous?
58. If growth in grace does not cleanse the heart, what does it accomplish?
59. Is there a distinction between purity and maturity?
60. What is the voice of the leading writers on sanctification in respect to it instantaneousness?
61. Will you give some evidence that entire sanctification is instantaneous?
62. Do not some enjoy Christian purity who did not seek it instantaneously?
63. Is the seventh chapter of Romans a portrayal of Christian experience?

8. Directions for Obtaining Holiness

64. Is this doctrine and experience susceptible of experimental demonstration?
65. What is the first direction you would give to a person seeking holiness?
66. What is the second direction you would give?
67. What is the third direction you would give?
68. What is the fourth direction you would give?
69. What is the proximate condition of sanctification?
70. What degree of faith is necessary to entire sanctification?
71. Is saving faith conditional?
72. What is the chief hindrance to the exercise of saving faith, when the heart has submitted to God?
73. Why is it that many who desire holiness, and read, and pray, and resolve, and weep, and struggle, yet make but little progress?
74. In what sense is faith the gift of God?
75. In what sense does faith involve a voluntary exercise of the mind?
76. Will you give Mr. Wesley’s views of the faith that sanctifies?
77. What is meant by simple, naked faith?
78. May I come to Christ now, just as I am?
79. How may we know that our consecration is unreserved or entire?
80. How may we know our consecration is accepted?
81. In what attitude towards God does entire consecration place the soul?
82. Is there a distinction between entire consecration and entire sanctification?
83. What is the difference between the consecration previous to conversion and that previous to entire sanctification?
84. Is any particular standard of conviction necessary in seeking holiness?
85. Is the process of receiving full salvation the same in all cases?
86. Is any certain amount of feeling or emotion necessary in seeking purity?
87. Do deep convictions for holiness sometimes obscure for the time, the light of present justification?
88. Are the convictions of the sinner seeking pardon, and of the believer seeking entire holiness, the same?
89. What are the fruits of conviction for the blessing of regeneration?
90. What are the fruits of conviction for the blessing of perfect love?
91. What are the usual exercises of mind in seeking holiness?
92. In seeking holiness, is it important that prayer should be definite and discriminating?
93. Should a clear evidence of justification precede the seeking of entire sanctification?
94. Will you give your views of Mark xi. 24? “What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

9.The Evidences of Perfect Love

95. What is the character of the evidence of a state of entire sanctification?
96. Did Mr. Wesley teach that we may have the same evidence that we are sanctified that we have that we are justified?
97. Ought any one to believe that he is sanctified wholly before he has the witness of the Spirit?
98. What is the witness of the Spirit?
99. Is the witness of the Spirit to regeneration and to entire sanctification different?
100. Is the evidence of sanctification, or the witness of the Spirit, always clear at first?
101. Is it our privilege to possess the witness of the Spirit without any intermission?
102. Is true evangelical faith usually accompanied with the witness of the Spirit?
103. Can the witness of the Spirit be retained while any sin is committed or allowed?
104. Are there certain fruits which necessarily flow from a pure heart as evidence of holiness?
105. By what fruit of the Spirit may we know that our hearts are cleansed from all sin?
106. What are the fruits of inbred sin, and how does it manifest itself in the heart?
107. Is the emotional experience in the moment of sanctification various?
108. Will Christian perfection make all persons act just alike, and appear to equal advantage?
109. Will a state of entire sanctification clearly evidence itself by the absence of all sin?
110. Will entire sanctification enable me to pray, believe, and rejoice every moment, even in the severest trials?
111. Are deep grief and sorrow of soul incompatible with perfect love?
112. What is the rest which the sanctified soul enjoys?
113. What are the natural and necessary indications of a pure heart?
114. Is it not very difficult to retain the clear light of full salvation?
115. Does entire sanctification secure the “full assurance of faith”?
116. Is an entirely sanctified state a blissful one?

10. The Profession of Perfect Love

117. Do the Scriptures authorize a confession of what God does for us?
118. Does the Bible teach that Christians are God’s witnesses?
119. Does the church generally recognize a profession of religion as a duty of believers?
120. To what is the Christian to give his testimony?
121. Will not the spirit, conversation, and example exhibit what grace has done, so as to exclude the necessity for a profession?
122. Should Christian labor and testimony go together?
123. Does not so rich a grace deserve a humble, faithful, and grateful acknowledgment?
124. Can the witness of entire sanctification be retained without confession on suitable occasions?
125. What good will be secured by confessing perfect love’?
126. Should holiness be professed before a promiscuous audience?
127. What terms are best and safest in professing holiness?
128. Should the profession be definite, and in terms which will not mislead?
129. Do not some profess this experience in terms seriously objectionable?
130. Is not the profession of holiness, assumed by some, as of itself evidence of spiritual pride?
131. Does not the profession of perfect love as a distinct blessing tend to produce jealousy and discord among brethren?
132. Did Mr. Wesley encourage the profession of Perfect Love?
133. Did Mr. Wesley profess Christian perfection?
134. Did Mr. Wesley find opposition in the church to the profession of holiness?
135. Is there not a want of harmony in Mr. Wesley’s teaching on this subject at successive periods?
136. Were the experience and profession of holiness common in the early days of Methodism?
137. Is there not danger of professing this blessing when it is not possessed?

11. Witnesses of Perfect Love

139. Will you give some testimonies from those who have enjoyed perfect love?

12. Reasons Why Every Christian Should Be Entirely Sanctified

140. Why should every Christian possess perfect love?
141. Is not death a sanctifier?
142. If none are saved without entire sanctification, what becomes of those who deny this doctrine?
143. What course do most professors of religion pursue in regard to holiness?
144. What are the results of this course on the part of the Church?

13. Ministers Should Be Entirely Sanctified

145. Is it not vastly important that ministers of Christ be entirely sanctified to God?
146. Can a minister successfully preach perfect love without the experience himself?
147. Why is there so little preaching upon this subject?

14. Holiness Must Be Preached

148. Should the doctrine, experience, and practice of Christian Holiness be preached frequently?
149. Did Mr.Wesley preach often upon the subject of holiness?
150. Is there not a serious lack on the part of the ministry in preaching on this subject?
151. Is the doctrine and experience of holiness the great peculiarity of Methodism?
152. Did the early Methodist preachers in the country make holiness a prominent item in their ministry?
153. Is it wise to use the phrase “second blessing”?
154. Is it wise to make holiness a specialty in the church and in Christian effort?
155. Did Mr. Wesley organize special societies and meetings for the promotion of holiness, and attend them himself?
156. Is there to some extent a spirit of opposition in the Methodist Church to the doctrine, experience, and profession of sanctification?
157. Is there any opposition in the ministry to putting this subject in the foreground and giving it prominence?
158. Is it not claimed that the opposition is in regard to the measures adopted, rather than to the doctrine or experience?
159. Should we not ASSUME, that there is no opposition to the spread of this doctrine and experience?
160. How is this opposition usually manifested?
161. Is it not often objected to professors of holiness that they indulge in censoriousness?
162. Are there two kinds of holiness among men, one a sweet, loving, peaceful holiness, and the other a fighting one?
163. Who are the most virulent opposers of entire sanctification?
164. Who are the best friends of the church?

15. Holiness Identified with the Promotion of the General Work of God

165. Is the general work of God identified with the preaching and the promotion of holiness?

16. Results of Not Seeking Holiness

166. What are the results of neglecting to seek holiness?
167. If I lose the blessing, must I tell others of it?

17. Trials of the Entirely Sanctified

168. Are trials and tribulations peculiar to the Christian life?
169. What trials are peculiar to those entirely sanctified?
170. What are the best helps to growth in grace?

18. How a State of Entire Sanctification May Be Retained

171. How may a state of entire sanctification be retained?

19. Objections to Christian Holiness

172. Will you reply to the following objections to entire holiness?

20. Objections to Seeking Perfect Love

173. What course do many professors of religion pursue in regard to Christian holiness?
174. What are they, and what is your reply to them?
175. Is it harmful to wear needless adornment, such as jewelry and costly array?
176. Is the use of tobacco to be condemned?
177. Has the world ever regarded the Bible standard of religion as otherwise than fanatical?
178. What was the fate of those who presented Christianity in its primitive, unsullied purity?
179. What is real Fanaticism?
180. Does the Bible countenance shouting and praising the Lord with a loud voice?
181. Does the Bible countenance responses in religious worship?
182. Does the Bible countenance physical prostration, and what may appear to carnal men as confusion?
183. Are bodily prostrations and physical exercises any part of religion?
184. Is it right to pray for bodily exercises?
185. What is our safeguard against delusions and imaginations?
186. Should the sanctified soul seek, expect, or desire anything beyond more holiness — as gifts, new revelations, etc.?

21. Advice to Those Professing Perfect Love

187. What advice would you give those professing holiness?

22. Holiness Historically

188. Where has the doctrine of Christian perfection been in the past history of the church that we seem only to hear of it now?
189. Did the general church abide in this simple way of faith in Christ, and in his power to save to the uttermost?
190. Did not the doctrine of Christian perfection originate with Mr. Wesley and the Methodist Church?
191. How was Mr. Wesley led to receive and teach the doctrine?
192. What was the chief characteristic of original Methodism?
193. How did this doctrine stand related to original American Methodism?
194. What is the object of the National Camp-meeting Association, and how does it stand related to this doctrine?
195. Do not the formation of associations, and holding special meetings for the promotion of holiness, tend to division in the church?
196. Is the work and experience of holiness making progress in the church?

23. Miscellaneous

197. What was the distinguishing characteristic of the great Wesleyan reformation?
198. Is not the church subject to many and great dangers?
199. Is it wrong to seek the good opinion of our fellowmen?
200. How is a worldly, compromising spirit manifested?
201. Are the spirit of holiness and the spirit of the world antagonistic?
202. How did the apostle Paul magnify his apostleship in this warfare?
203. Is the baptism of the Holy Ghost, or being filled with the Spirit, the blessing of holiness?
204. Can those entirely sanctified lose that grace, and still retain a justified relation to God?
205. Why need we seek holiness if we can die safe in a justified state?
206. How can a perfect Christian “grieve the Holy Spirit of God”?
207. Is it not the fact that many persons lose perfect love several times, before they become established therein, against the seeking of it?
208. Does God sometimes afflict his children in order to lead them to seek holiness?
209. What relation does saving faith sustain to truth?
210. Is it vitally important that men have correct views of truth?
211. What class of people most commonly believe in, and seek full salvation?
212. Is it proper for Christians to be governed by the laws of fashion?
213. Are worldly amusements sinful?
214. Are Fairs, Festivals, Tableaux, or Theatricals proper means of raising money for church purposes?
215. How are entirely sanctified souls to be distinguished from those not entirely sanctified?
216. What has become of indwelling sin, in those entirely sanctified?
217. What is it to be made “partakers of the divine nature”?
218. If we are made partakers of the divine nature and become like God, do we not become gods?
219. What are the fruits of conviction for the need of pardon?
220. What are the fruits of conviction for the need of purity?
221. Should the regeneration of sinners and the sanctification of believers go on together?
222. Should the sanctification of believers be a prominent item in our grove and camp-meeting services?
223. How much ought I to fast?
224. Does the Lord ever heal the body supernaturally in answer to prayer?
225. What evidences indicate the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
226. What evidences indicate advancement in holiness?
227. What is the grand secret of holy living?

24. The Author’s Experience

228. Will you relate your experience of regeneration, and of entire sanctification?


In conclusion, dear reader, “I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your heart by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend, with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” And “the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

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