[Letter to John Newton, at London].
Londonderry, Ireland, 14 May 1765.
In the year before the publication of his A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (1766), John Wesley was already formulating his explanation of the steps that had led to his position on Christian perfection. In this manuscript letter of 1765 sent to John Newton (1725–1807), the Anglican vicar of Olney in Buckinghamshire (and author of the hymn “Amazing Grace”), Wesley attempted to persuade Newton to join him in his view of Christian perfection by recalling the six books that had made such a formative impact on him:
In 1725 I met with Bishop Taylor’s Rules of Holy Living and Dying. I was struck particularly with the chapter upon Intention and felt a fixed intention to give myself up to God. In this I was much confirmed soon after by the Christian Pattern and longed to give God all my heart. This is just what I mean by perfection now. I sought after it from that hour. In 1727 I read Mr. Law’s Christian Perfection and Serious Call and more explicitly resolved to be all devoted to God, in body, soul and spirit. In 1730 I began to be homo unius libri; to study comparatively no book but the Bible. I then saw in a stronger light than ever before that only one thing is needful, even faith that worketh by the love of God and man, all inward and outward holiness.