Advice from Mr. Wesley

By Steve Manskar

As I think and pray about all my friends and colleagues working and worshiping at General Conference, the following passage from A Plain Account of Christian Perfection came to mind:

Beware and pray constantly against pride. If God has cast it out, see that it does not return. It is every bit as dangerous as desire. When you think there is no danger, you may slide back into it without notice. ...

Therefore, do not say to any who would advise or correct you, "You are blind. You cannot teach me." Do not say, "This is your wisdom, your human reason." But calmly discern the thing in the presence of God.

Always remember that much grace does not imply much light. These do not always go together. As there may be much light where there is but little love, so there may be much love where there is little light. The heart has more heat than the eye, and yet it cannot see. God has wisely assembled the members of the body together such that none may say to another, "I have no need of you."

To imagine that none can teach you but those who are themselves saved from sin is a very great and dangerous mistake. ...

... always be ready to own any mistake for which you are responsible. If you have at any time thought, spoken, or acted wrong, do not deny or dodge your responsibility. Never dream that such an admission will hurt the cause of God. Rather, it will further it. Therefore, be open and frank when you are accused of anything. Do not seek either to evade or disguise it. Let it appear just as it is, and you will not hinder but beautify the gospel.

... Do not neglect any opportunity for doing good of any kind. Be eager for good works. Do not intentionally omit any work of piety or mercy. Do all the good you possibly can to the bodies and souls of human beings. ...

Be "slow to speak" and cautious in speaking. "When words are many, transgression is lacking." Do not talk too much or for a long time. Few people can converse profitably for more than an hour. Keep a great distance from pious chitchat and religious gossiping.

Beware of desiring anything but God. Now you desire nothing else; every other desire is driven out. See that none enter again. "Keep yourself pure;" let your eye remain healthy, and "your whole body will be full of light." ...

Be patterns to all of denying yourselves and taking up your cross daily.

Beware of schism or causing separation within the church of Christ. Such internal division begins when sisters and brothers in Christ, the members of his body, no longer have love for one another. This is the beginning of conflict that ultimately leads to every outward separation. Beware of everything that contributes to discord.

Beware of a dividing spirit. Avoid whatever resembles it in any way. ...

Beware of being impatient with those who contradict you. Do not condemn or think harshly of those who cannot see just as you see or who believe that they must contradict you, whether in a large matter or a small one. I feat that some of us have thought harshly of others merely because they contradicted what we affirmed. Such thoughts lead to division; and by doing things of this kind we are teaching them an evil lesson against ourselves.

Do not be thin-skinned, irritable, or combative. Refrain from arguing with those who do not implicitly accept my teachings or the teachings of other Methodist leaders.

Expect contradiction and opposition, together with crosses of various kinds. Consider the words of Saint Paul: "For he has graciously granted you the privilege," for Christ's sake, as a fruit of his death and intercession for you, "not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well (Phil. 1:29). It is given! God gives you this opposition or criticism. It is a fresh token of God's love. Will you disown the Giver or reject the gift and consider it a misfortune? Will you not rather say, "Father, the hour is come that you should be glorified. Now you give your child to suffer something for you. Do with me according to your will"?

Beware of tempting others to separate from you. Commit no offense that can possibly be avoided. Make sure you practice what you preach, glorifying the doctrine of God our Savior. Be particularly careful in speaking of yourself. ..."

"Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Philippians 4:8)