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John Wesley at age 48

Christian Perfection: Works of Piety and Mercy

Christian Perfection is "holiness of heart and life." It is "walking the talk."

Wesley believed that Christians could be perfected in love before death. Christians could never be free of errors or mistakes; they could become complete in love of God, neighbor, and self. No one was without sin in their entire life's history, but sin could be ended in this lifetime. In the holiness tradition of Methodism, which Wesley initiated, sanctification is another word for perfection.

The Foundery

The FounderyThe Foundery in London was one of the early Methodist bases for works of piety and mercy (see drawing). The main room was large enough to seat 1500 people.

In 1738, John Wesley either rented or purchased the former place for casting cannon and organized a Methodist Society there. In addition to religious services, other ministries occurred on the premises such as a school for children and the dispensing of money from a loan fund for poor people to help prevent them from paying exorbitant interest to others.

The Foundery's ministry carried on until 1779. Of its ending Wesley wrote, "What hath God wrought there for 40 years!"

For Further Study and Discussion

1. Wesley's doctrine of Christian Perfection was controversial in his day and continues to be. In defense of his position, he wrote a book called A Plain Account of Christian Perfection. Do you believe you will ever be perfect, without sin?

2. How do you define "perfection"? Do you agree with Wesley's ideas? Why or why not?

Next: Wesley and Women

The top left drawing depicts the Reverend John Wesley (1703-1791) at age 48. All of the black and white drawings have been scanned from public domain nineteenth century or early twentieth century Methodist history books. Please acknowledge this web site, John Wesley: Holiness of Heart and Life if you reproduce these. A few graphics are available in high resolution format, suitable for print media.

© 2012 United Methodist Women/Women's Division. The Women's Division is part of the General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church