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ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION IN
EARLY AMERICAN METHODISM: 1812–1835
Source: Wesleyan Theological Journal
Peters has provided a valuable introduction to the place of the doctrine of
Christian perfection in American Methodism. The evidence he presents makes clear
that from its establishment in 1784 to the first decade of the nineteenth
did this widespread interest in Christian perfection continue in the second,
third, and fourth decades of the nineteenth century. As the frontier preachers
were primarily concerned about the conversion of sinners, did they really have
time to devote to such doctrinal niceties as Christian perfection? Peters argues
that while it officially continued to be a part of the church’s doctrinal
standards, in practice it suffered serious neglect. He connects this break in
emphasis with the General Conference of 1812, which removed for convenience
reasons certain doctrinal tracts from the Discipline. Among these were Wesley’s
A Plain Account of Christian Perfection and his sermon “Of Christian
Perfection,” which hitherto had been published full in the Discipline.
of growth in the size of the Discipline, The Conference decided to
publish the doctrinal tracts in a separate volume. According to Peters, however,
these tracts did not appear until 1832, or a full twenty years later, by which
time a generation or two of Methodist preachers had rounded out their doctrinal
views without the benefit of the Church’s official promotion of Christian
perfection. The practical effect of this action, according to Peters, was to
remove the doctrine from widespread circulation and to give it a less
authoritative status, thus producing a sort of “gap” in Methodism’s
historic emphasis on full salvation for two to three decades.
It is against this “dark night of the soul” for the doctrine of Christian
perfection that Peters paints his picture of the “revival of holiness” in
the late 1830’s and 1840’s under the influence of Timothy Merritt’s Guide
to Christian Perfection, the Tuesday Meeting of Phoebe Palmer, and the
editorial pen of Nathan Bangs.
the lead of Peters, American historians have now accepted as almost axiomatic
that the doctrine of entire sanctification played little if any part in the
development of Methodism during the first third of the nineteenth century.
Timothy Smith opens his discussion of Christian Perfection in America with the
observation that “considerable evidence suggests that this doctrine did not
occupy a chief place in early Methodist preaching in the New World,” and
accordingly he begins his survey with Merritt’s Treatise on Christian
Perfection published in 1825.
Charles Ferguson echoes the thesis that although this Wesleyan doctrine was
accepted by the preachers, making it acceptable among restless people in an
unsettled land had not been feasible. The result was that “while perfection
held on as an avowed ideal, American Methodists had little experience with
Others have followed this lead, and it has now received a semi-official status
in the standard three volume History of American Methodism, in which the
discussion of sanctification ends in the middle of the first decade of the
century and does not resume until the 1830’s and 40s.
significance of this break in continuity within the Church regarding entire
Sanctification is twofold. First, it lends credence to the view that this
doctrine played no really essential part in Methodism during the first third of
the nineteenth century, which in turn raises the larger question of just how
much it has ever been an integral part of the
it makes it possible to view the strong emphasis on Christian perfection during
the middle and latter decades of the century as something not quite in accord
with Methodism’s historic emphases, a kind of theological stepchild, somehow
related but not really a full member of the family. It then becomes easy to see
the marked interest in sanctification and the so-called “Holiness Crusade”
as something of a theological novelty rather than as an expression of doctrinal
continuity. While this approach leaves unsolved the eighteenth century focus on
full salvation as a crucial aspect of American Methodist preaching, this
“gap” in interest in sanctification clearly makes it easier to relegate this
earlier period to the distant and not too relevant past.
now appears, however, that there is some serious question about the evidence for
this supposed “neglect” of entire sanctification. Frank Baker, in his book
From Wesley to Asbury, deals at some length with the separation of the doctrinal
tracts from the Methodist Discipline by the General Conference of 1812,
and in the process touches the foundation of Peters’ thesis. Peters apparently
was following a discussion of the doctrinal tracts by Bishop Tigert in his
Constitutional History of American Epsicopal Methodism. Tigert had only
encountered one copy of the collected tracts, dated 1832, from which he
incorrectly deduced that the book agents had waited twenty years before carrying
out the directives of the 1812 Conference. Baker demonstrates, however, that the
first edition of these “Doctrinal Tracts” was published in 1814 as A
Collection of Interesting Tracts, explaining several important points of
Scripture Doctrine. Published by order of the General Conference. He surmises
that there must have been a reasonably good sale for this volume, which included
Wesley’s two works on Christian perfection, because an unaltered second
edition appeared in 1817.
This was followed by further editions in 1825 and 1831. Altogether at least
fifteen editions of this volume appeared throughout the nineteenth century.
Further, it is clear that Wesley’s Plain Account of Christian Perfection
was issued separately, possibly by several publishers. One such example is its
appearance as Tract No. XXXVI of the New-York Methodist Tract Society. In
addition, the General Conference of 1816 placed the Plain Account on the
first official course of study for its preachers, thus ensuring their
acquaintance with the standard theological formulation of the doctrine.
Baker, as Methodism’s master bibliographer, has convincingly demonstrated that
it is no longer tenable to hold that two generations of Methodist preachers
“rounded out their doctrinal views” without the influence of Wesley’s
focus on Christian perfection. He argues that whereas previously both doctrine
and discipline had been bound together in one volume, from 1812 there were to be
two volumes, Volume 1 dealing primarily with Discipline and Volume 2 with
The implication of this is quite clear. The Conference intended to keep before
the preachers certain theological emphases, including Christian perfection, and
they succeeded in doing just that from the period 1812 to the 1830’s and
beyond. The frequency of publication during this period “by the order of the
General Conference” makes it very difficult to see how the preachers of the
day could have seen them as somehow less authoritative than previously.
continued official desire to publish abroad Methodism’s traditional focus on
entire sanctification during this era is paralleled by the repeated
determination of the preachers to proclaim the doctrine. One of the few pieces
of evidence that Peters cites to support his contention of a break in the
traditional emphasis on Christian perfection comes from the journal of Benjamin
Lakin. A lengthy quotation from Lakin gives his evaluation of some decline in
religious fervor on his appointment to the Limestone Circuit, Kentucky, in 1814.
Lakin attributes this to a deficiency in “enforcing the doctrine of
Sanctification” and allowing the people to rest in only a justified state.
This Peters interprets as an indication of a decline in interest in the doctrine
What he fails to tell us, however, is that in the very next sentence Lakin
declares what he has determined to do about the problem, viz., to preach the
doctrine with renewed vigor. Lakin writes: “Immediately set about a reform in
myself and began to preach and enforce the doctrine of holiness by showing the
state I found the people to be in and the need of perfecting holiness in the
fear of God.”
One cannot help but suspect that Peters has not been wholly candid about the
evidence he had at hand. This very selective handling of the data raises serious
questions about both Peters’ thesis and his judgment in the use of these
evidence from the journals and biographies of this period strengthen the
conviction that holiness was not a neglected theological issue. On September 3,
1819, Herman Bangs preached on Christian perfection from Psalm 37. “The
people,” he declared, “were wide awake to the subject and from the
information afterward received, they were satisfied it was the truth.” Later
that fall he reported a revival of interest in the subject where he served, as
the people “groaned for sanctifying love.” He warned: “When believers are
in full stretch for holiness, look out for a work of God in all its branches.”
For the following two decades he continues to report examples of believers
“hungry after holiness,” and many sanctified or filled with perfect love.
Bangs as a
Gilruth, a Presiding Elder in
on the positive side it is clear that there were many proclaiming holiness of
heart during the second, third, and fourth decades of the century on the
negative side some were apparently excluded from the ranks because they could
not subscribe to the doctrine. In 1816, a Mr. Judy was under consideration for a
license to exhort from his Quarterly meeting. Apparently by mutual consent he
separated from the Methodists because, it was reported, “he could not believe
in our doctrines of baptism and Christian perfection and as our rules did not
admit him to oppose them in public or private, he left us being resolved to
oppose them. “Had we licensed him, observed one of the preachers, “we should
have had our trouble with him.”
addition to the biographies and journals the publications produced during this
period provide some very helpful insight into the theological interests of the
day. When the first volume of the newly reestablished Methodist Magazine
appeared in 1818, the publishers J. Soule and T. Mason, described the purpose of
the magazine within a well-defined doctrinal framework, and in the process
declared that “the grace of God is manifested in the redemption of a fallen
and guilty world through Jesus Christ—in the gift of the Holy Spirit—in the
establishment and spread of the gospel, and in the conviction, conversion and
sanctification of the souls of men.”
These concerns are clearly reflected in the contents of the opening volume of
the magazine. The Rev S. G. Roszel wrote from
same issue included a report of the Cow-Harbour Camp Meeting on
review of the articles and sermons in the Methodist Magazine over the next
twenty years reveals that while entire sanctification did not occupy as
prominent a place as in later years, it certainly does appear often enough to
prevent it from being styled a neglected theological concept.
Perhaps more significant, however, are the accounts of revivals, camp meetings,
letters to the editor, and the Short memoirs, all of which make clear that at
the level of the local congregation Methodism was very much alive to the
doctrine of Christian perfection These first-hand accounts of the impact of
theology on the lives of Methodists show that the principle doctrines preached
by the traveling circuit riders were human depravity, general redemption,
repentance toward God, faith, and holiness of heart and life.
suggests that this emphasis was an isolated phenomena limited to only a few
scattered locations. The memoir of an American missionary to Nova Scotia, John
Man, recorded how the Lord “filled him with the love of God in an
extraordinary degree, delivering him from the remains of a carnal mind, and
causing him to drink deep into the spirit of holiness.”
From Maine the Rev. D. Hutchinson, a Presiding Elder in the Keenebec District,
rejoiced that “our gracious God is pouring out his Spirit upon the people more
or less in every circuit both in the awakening and conversion of sinners, and in
the sanctification of believers.” “The preachers,” he declared, “are all
in the spirit of the work”
An account of revival close to Oneida, New York, reported that “while some had
been seeking for pardon through the blood of Christ, others have been breathing
for perfect love.”
Further west in Ohio, a remark able moving of God’s Spirit had reached a peak
in December 1818 but had continued unabated until February of the following year
An eyewitness wrote:
during the latter part of this time, and since, the deepening and extension of
the work of grace in the hearts of the believers was considerably greater than
at any former period. A considerable increase in general piety and fervent
devotion among these, had been very apparent. Many had been deeply convinced of
the necessity of holiness of heart, and are earnestly groaning after it; and a
few have lately been able to testify that they have been made partakers of the
sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit.
a result of revival in this area a number who Professed to have obtained the
gift of sanctification formed themselves into bands
reminiscent of Wesley’s select bands of the eighteenth century. From
preacher began his appointment to Newark New Jersey with the intention of making
his chief work in the pulpit and classes that “of explaining and enforcing the
doctrine of full sanctification, as a present privilege, . . .; believing with
Wesley ‘that where holiness revives in believers, there the work of God
spreads in all its But when he began to visit his classes, he discovered to his
dismay only one witness to the doctrine. He described their state:
doctrine of Christian perfection they believed, . . . and many of them delighted
me with their inquiries into the nature of it, observing that they had often
heard it preached but that it was never before so brought home to their
hearts.” As he began to preach, however, a general revival broke out among the
society and he was soon able to rejoice that “many came forth as witnesses,
blessed with perfect love.”
story of Edward Paine illustrates the experience of many Methodists in this
had long been sensible of the remains of the carnal mind, but he knew not that
it was possible to obtain deliverance in this life; but on becoming acquainted
with the doctrine of Scriptural holiness, he resolved never to rest until he had
found full redemption in the blood of the Lamb.
this resolution he started in company with his friends for a camp meeting. On
the way he heard by chance a Rev. Washburn preaching on Psalm 46:4 and came into
an experience of cleansing from all unrighteousness. He testified that God had
given him a clean heart, and renewed a right spirit within him.
accounts during the twenties and thirties are similar to the description of the
revival of religion in
professors are much quickened, and the necessity of sanctification is pressed on
the people by the preachers; and blessed be the Lord, while many are excited to
seek after this blessing, others profess an experience of it.
evidence of the interest in Christian perfection comes with the publication of
the first significant American book on the subject in 1825. In that year Timothy
Merritt, a pastor in
is pleasing to learn that the inquiry after gospel holiness is on the increase
among congregations of the Methodists; and as this doctrine preached and
practiced is the most effectual way to promote revivals of religion, so is it
the most effectual way to preserve them.”
was his vital concern for holiness that led Merritt in 1839 to resign his
position as assistant editor of the Christian Advocate and Journal to launch a
new monthly magazine in
in 1825 Aaron Lummus published a series of articles in
year 1826 also saw the Methodist Tract Society publish The Character of a
Methodist, one of Wesley’s earliest statements on the doctrine of
In addition, the late twenties saw articles on holiness of heart appearing on
occasion in the Christian Advocate,
along with testimonies of sanctification and reports of revivals and camp
meetings where some were earnestly “struggling after holiness of heart.”
One observer noted:
witnessed more humble inquiring conversation on the subject of sanctification
and heard more expressive language used, indicative of an anxious desire to
obtain a correct experience of this inestimable blessing, than is usual to be
heard, even at Camp Meeting.
doctrine of sanctification doth greatly revive among our preachers and people.
Both here and in the adjoining circuits many appear to be earnestly seeking for
‘all the fullness of God,’ nor do they seek in vain; for several can
testify, that ‘the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin;’ and they
‘love the Lord their God with all their hearts.’
a revival in his church, John Wallace recalled that “we have urged the
converts to ‘go on into perfection,’” and “some have found the treasure
of holiness and others are pressing after it.” Their enthusiasm was so
contagious that members of other denominations in his area were beginning to
show interest in the doctrine of perfect love.
1822-23 the head of the Methodist Book Concern, Nathan Bangs, wrote a series of
articles on a course of study for younger Methodist preachers, under the title
“The Importance of Study to a Minister of the Gospel.” Under the category of
theology, Bangs proposed:
the doctrines of Repentance, Justification, and Sanctification, you can find no
authors who have illustrated those subjects with greater clearness and accuracy
than Wesley and Fletcher.
was reflecting, of course, the continued American dependence on the English
Methodist theologians for their definitive statements on doctrine. The
others suggested by Nathan Bangs in his recommended reading list for young
preachers two have particular significance for the place of Christian holiness
during these years. One was Adam Clarke and his monumental
Commentary on the Scriptures, completed in 1826. Without question
Clarke’s work has been the most influential commentary every published in
American Methodism. One tribute to the measure of his influence classified him
as “the greatest scholar in Methodism” in the generation which succeeded
Abel Stevens claimed his work “may be said to have initiated critical biblical
studies” among Methodists in America. Certainly for nineteenth century
American Methodists Clarke’s was the commentary on the Bible. While Christian
perfection was no specialty with Clarke, it clearly pervades his work. As he was
vitally interested in other doctrinal matters, sanctification appears as only
one of several important and distinct theological concepts. But the fact that it
does appear regularly through-out his commentary, guarantees that the subject
was consistently before multitudes of Methodists who maintained a serious
interest in the study of the Scriptures.
other author mentioned by Bangs was Richard Watson, who published his Theological
Institutes first in serial form beginning in 1825. Watson was called the
“first systematizer of the theology of Methodism,” and his Institutes
quickly became the standard exposition of Methodist doctrine. Robert Chiles in his
Theological Transition in American Methodism: 1790–1935,
categorizes Watson as “easily the single most determinative of the early
Daniel Curry wrote in 1877:
no other single agency is the continued doctrinal unity of Methodism so much
indebted as to the extensive use of Watson’s Theological Institutes . . . This
great work has been the standard of Methodist theology for a full half century.
certain commitment to the concept of Christian perfection meant, then, that the
doctrine of sanctification was also uniquely before the Methodist preachers
during this period beginning with the 1820’s.
journals, periodicals, and theological works of the period 1812 to 1835 reveal a
significant and ongoing interest in the doctrine of sanctification. In the light
of the evidence of many coming into an experience of holiness of heart as a
crisis experience during these years it will be increasingly difficult to
maintain that this was an era of “benign neglect” regarding Christian
perfection. Peters has contended that although the doctrine continued to be an
official position of the Church, it suffered a practical decline in the everyday
life of the community of believers on the frontier because of their
preoccupation with the experience of conversion. According to this view
Christian perfection as a doctrine and as an experience was simply not a live
issue for frontier Methodists. This position is no longer tenable. While it is
true that holiness of heart never rivaled initial redemption in the overall
scheme of preaching, the data is quite clear that the Church continued to keep
sanctification before its people in both periodicals and in theological
writings, and the journals of the preachers as well as the reports of revivals
and camp meetings give abundant evidence that many Methodists were seeking and
finding full salvation. Christian perfection was obviously before the Church in
both theory and practice.
the light of these materials how are we to account for the appearance of this
“gap” theory regarding the place of sanctification in the early nineteenth
century? What factors may have led Peters and others into holding such a
position? The first is a natural tendency to accent the holiness emphasis of
mid-century by playing down its place in the life of the Church in the earlier
period. The deeper the shadow of the valley, the more brilliant the light on the
mountain peak will seem. In this case, the tendency to sharpen the contrast has
certainly been over done. It would be even more unfortunate if this handling of
historical materials was designed to make the holiness movement of mid and late
nineteenth century appear to be in discontinuity with the historic emphases of
Methodism. The evidence certainly does not support this interpretation. The rise
of emphasis on Christian holiness at mid-century is clearly an increased accent
of an already existing theological distinctive, not a shift from central
doctrinal concerns to some obscure theological position of minor significance.
second factor behind the development of Peters’ thesis is a somewhat
uncritical acceptance of two major sources for his argument. The first of these
is the reliance upon the lamentation of the 1832 General Conference about the
lack of witnesses to the doctrine of entire sanctification. Peters believes this
represents an evident decline in promotion and acceptance of the doctrine
throughout the Church. But surely in the very nature of the case General
Conferences are prone to overstate the ups and downs of the pulse of the Church,
and at best are a very narrow base upon which to rely when writing theological
history. The second area of difficulty lies in Peters’ use of Bishop
Tigert’s argument that the doctrinal tracts by which the Church promoted its
emphasis on Christian perfection went unpublished for a twenty year period from
1812 to 1832. This is interpreted as official neglect, which gave the impression
to upcoming preachers that the Church was not really taking this doctrinal
distinctive very seriously. The numerous editions of these tracts throughout
this period, as shown by Baker, give ample evidence that on this matter both the
bishop and Peters have overlooked some very relevant bibliographical data.
factor is that too much weight has been given to the generalization that
frontier preachers were so preoccupied with evangelism that they had no time to
call men to an experience of entire sanctification. This categorization is far
too broad. Clearly there were preachers who had little connection with the
doctrine either in theory or in their own experience. Yet it is equally clear
that many did know the doctrine experientially and included it in their
preaching. Peters himself recognizes this in his documentation of the vital
place the doctrine held in the first twenty years of the life of the young
Church. In these years, also, the Church was a frontier organization, yet Asbury
and others consistently kept Christian perfection before the Methodists “to
prevent people from settling on their lees.”
If the frontier preachers of the eighteenth century found time to proclaim
holiness of heart along with regeneration and justification, there is no
intrinsic reason why the men of the nineteenth century could not do likewise.
a contributory factor is the contrast between the lack of American theological
literature on Christian holiness in the early decades of the century and the
abundance of works on this subject in the latter years. In this early period
theological formulation in almost every area was done for the Americans by
British Methodists, such as Wesley, Fletcher, Clark, Benson, and Watson. Very
little normative theological work was done on American soil. On the doctrine of
Christian perfection the first important work to appear from the hand of an
American was Timothy Merritt’s The Christian Manual, which the author
himself styled a “compilation.” The lack of native theological statement
stands in stark contrast to the flood of holiness literature that appeared later
by American writers, and this has led some to assume that because they were not
producing treatises on the subject, the leaders of the Church in the early part
of the century were not vitally concerned with this aspect of Methodist
theology. But this impression cannot be sustained in the light of the fact that
very little theological statement of significance on any doctrine was set forth
by the American Methodists during this period. For all their normative doctrinal
articulation they were still very much dependent on their English brethren.
British influence is reflected, for example, in the language used by early
Methodists to describe their experience of entire sanctification. Following
Wesley, the terminology employed is predominantly atonement language and its
accompanying connection with the work of Christ, rather than Pentecostal
terminology with its relation to the Holy Spirit. Methodists tended to use the
concepts and vocabulary of Paul and John more than those of Luke. The role of
the Spirit is seen primarily as that of the agent of salvation in general and
the experience of perfect love in particular. There are occasions, however, when
the move to identify entire sanctification with the examples of baptism of the
Holy Spirit in Acts is evident. Thomas Webb had apparently done this earlier in
words of the text were written by the apostles after the act of justification
had passed on them. But you see, my friends, this was not enough for them. You
must be sanctified. But you are not. You are only Christians in part. You have
not received the Holy Ghost. I know it. I can feel your spirits hanging about me
like so much dead flesh.
for Webb “receiving the Holy Spirit” was identical with entire
reports that among the Cumberland Presbyterians, whose theological disposition
was quite Arminian, there was a tendency to speak about sanctification in terms
of the baptism of the Holy Spirit as early as 1814.
B. W. McDonald in his History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church is very
emphatic about the importance which the early leaders of that denomination
attached to the doctrine and experience of Holy Ghost baptism:
. . our fathers believed in an abiding baptism of the Holy Ghost as a
distinctive blessing after conversion . . . Of all the doctrines held . . . the
one about this abiding baptism of the Holy Ghost was most esteemed by them.
should not be surprising in the light of the identification of these concepts by
two writers of considerable influence on the American Methodists. The first is
John Fletcher, whose impact on the American understanding of the theology of
Christian perfection was only slightly behind that for Wesley himself.
Fletcher’s contribution during the period under consideration has already been
noted, so it only remains to point out that it was Fletcher in his Last Check
who first made the correlation between the baptism of the Holy Ghost and
Wesley’s concept of Christian perfection.
Although the Last Check was not published until 1775, as early as 1771, Fletcher
had written to Charles Wesley concerning this identification:
shall introduce my, why not your doctrine of the Holy Ghost, and make it one
with your brother’s perfection. He holds the truth, but this will be an
improvement upon it, if I am not mistaken. In some of your Pentecostal hymns you
paint my light wonderfully. If you do not recant them we should perfectly agree.
place as a theological formulator regarding sanctification must certainly be
reckoned as a significant factor in the later equation of these two doctrinal
concepts during the mid-century holiness emphasis in
second writer is Hester Ann Rogers, whose Memoirs and Letters were among the
most widely circulated spiritual autobiographies in Methodist circles. One
preacher reported that in 1817 on his circuit alone he had sold fourteen copies
of her Life and seven of her Letters. Apparently only the Journal of John Nelson
rivaled her works in popular appeal to the Methodist layman in the early
In describing her spiritual pilgrimage, Mrs. Rogers relates in detail her
struggle to obtain the blessing of entire sanctification. In the midst of her
prayer for sanctification, she recalls:
thought, Shall I now ask small blessings only of my God: Lord, cried I, make
this the moment of my full salvation! Baptize me now with the Holy Ghost and the
fire of pure love: Now “make me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within
me.” Now enter they temple, and cast out sin forever. Now cleanse the
thoughts, desires and propensities of my heart, and let me perfectly love thee.
clearly in her mind the experience of the baptism of the Spirit was identical
with that of full salvation, and the widespread distribution of her story cannot
but have made American Methodists more ready to see an intimate connection
between these two concepts. Thus the significant sale of the works of Fletcher
and Mrs. Rogers must be seen as an important contributory factor in the later
identification by holiness advocates in American Methodism of entire
sanctification with the baptism of the Holy Ghost. One on the theological level
and one on the popular level had the effect over the years by their consistent
and wide-ranging influence of predisposing the Americans to equate the biblical
data on entire sanctification and Christian perfection with that relating to the
baptism of the Holy Ghost and Pentecost.
John Peters, Christian Perfection and American
Methodism, p. 80–97. cf. section XXII, “On Perfection, Rules of
Methodist Episcopal Church, 1784,” in Nathan Bangs’ A History of the
Methodist Episcopal Church, I, p. 197.
MS: Letter to Timothy Merritt, New England
Methodist Historical Association Library. Cited in Peters, op. cit., p. 97.
Peters, op. cit., p. 98.
Timothy L. Smith, Revivalism and Social Reform, p.
116. In fairness it must be noted that since the publication of his work,
Dr. Smith has revised his original evaluation of the place of the doctrine
in the early years of American Methodism. He is now convinced that the
doctrine played an important role in the first three decades of the
nineteenth century .
Charles W. Ferguson, Organizing to Beat the Devil,
p. 267; cf. Donald Dayton, “Christian Perfection to the Baptism of the
Holy Ghost,” Aspects of Pentecostal-Charismatic Origins, ed. Vinson Syman,
E. S. Burke, ed., History of American Methodism,
I, 307; II, 609.
Frank Baker, From Wesley to Asbury, 176–180.
General Conference, Journal, I, 160–161, cited
in Merrill E. Gaddis, “Christian Perfection in
Baker, op. cit.
Peters, op. cit., 98–99.
“The Journal of Benjamin Lakin,” Religion on
the American Frontier, ed. W. W. Sweet, IV, 249.
Herman Bangs, The Autobiography and Journal of
Rev. Herman Bangs, 53–54.
Ibid., e.g. July 29, and August 22, 1926, p. 139;
August 30, 1832, p. 173; June 11, October 23, and November 15, 1841, pp.
208–212. Peters lists Bangs as an exception to the general practice, op.
cit., p. 99.
James B. Finley, Sketches of Western Methodism, p.
The Methodist Preacher, II, pp. 95–96, cited in
Peters, op. cit., p. 99. Peters classifies Clark and Herman Bangs as
“illustrations of an infrequent usage” of the doctrine.
Christian Advocate, September 9, 1826.
John Lindsey, “Sermon: Gospel Purity,”
Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review, XVII (1835), pp. 33–45.
“Journal of James Gilruth, 1835,” Religion on
the American Frontier, ed., W. W. Sweet, IV, pp. 401, 440, 443, 445.
“Journal of Benjamin Lakin,” op. cit., p. 251.
Methodist Magazine. I (1818). 5.
“Extract of a Letter from the Rev. S. G. Roszel.
“A Short Account of a Camp Meeting Held at
Cow-Harbor, Long Island, Which Commenced August 11, 1818,” Methodist
“A Short Memoir of Mrs. Anna Nickerson,”
Methodist Magazine, I, p. 307.
“A Short Memoir of the Rev. James Rogers,”
Methodist Magazine, I, p. 297. For other testimonies from these memoirs see
Ibid., VI (1823), pp. 89, 199, 258, 417–418, 439; VII (1825), pp. 86,
378ff, 418ff, 446; XI (1828), pp. 98, 119, 130, 138; and passim.
For example: R. Treffy, “Sermon on Christian
Perfection,” Methodist Magazine, V (1822; Wm. P. Burgess, “Sermon:
Benefits Resulting from the Sacrificial Death and Glorious Life of Jesus
Christ. “Burgess discusses full salvation as one of the benefits of
believers. Ibid., IX (1826); Adam Clarke, “Christian Perfection, “
Ibid., XI (1828); Review of section of Fletcher’s Works on Perfection,
Ibid., XI ( 1833); Rev. John Lindsey, “Sermon: Gospel Purity,” and B. F.
Shepard, “Essay on Christian Perfection,” Ibid., XVII (1835).
“Revivals of Religion in Schenectady,”
Methodist Magazine, III (1820), p. 357, and Ibid., I, p. 297.
“Memoir of Mr. John Man, Missionary in
“Extract from a letter from Rev. D.
Hutchinson,” January 25, 1819, Ibid., p. 116.
“Account of the Revival of Religion in the
Oneida District in the Genesee Conference,” dated August 2, 1818, from
Utica, Ibid., p. 75.
“Letter to Rev. John Collins, March 20, 1819,”
Ibid., pp. 237–238.
“Revival of Religion in Scioto District (Ohio):,
Chillicothe, April 22, 1819, Ibid., p. 233.
“State of Religion in the Mississippi
District,” October 20, 1824, Ibid., VIII (1825), p. 39.
“Revival of Religion in Newark, N.J.,” Ibid.,
VIII, (1825), p. 240.
“Memoir of the Rev. Edward Paine,” Ibid., III
(1820), p. 407.
“Revival of Religion in Columbia County, N.
Y.,” Ibid., VIII (1825), p. 111. For other representative examples see
Ibid., VI (1823), p. 477; VIII (1825), pp. 283, 441, 484; X (1827), pp. 38,
84, 181–182, 243; XI (1828), p. 35; and passim.
Cited in Peters, op. cit., p. 102.
Christian Advocate, October 12, 1827, II, 22;
Smith, Revivalism, p. 116.
Christian Advocate, II, p. 22.
Smith, op cit., p. 116.
Peters, op. cit., p. 102.
Smith, op. cit.
Methodist Magazine, X (1827), p. 182
Christian Advocate, November 25, 1826.
Christian Advocate, January 13, 1827; January 11,
Christian Advocate, June 29, 1827; other examples
include: September 16, 1826; September 23, 1826; October 14, 1826; November
18, 1826; December 8, 1826; January 6, 1827; October 12, 1827.
Christian Advocate, October 12, 1827.
Christian Advocate, October 14, 1826.
Christian Advocate, October 7, 1826.
Methodist Magazine, VI (1823), p. 33; Published in
1826 as Letters to Young Ministers of the Gospel on the Importance and
Method of Study. This second edition is also cited in Peters, op. cit., p.
John Fletcher, The Works of the Rev. John Fletcher
John Fletcher, An Address to Imperfect Believers,
who cordially embrace the doctrine of gospel sanctification (Boston: True,
John Fletcher, Christian Perfection (New York: F.
Mason and G. Hare, 1837). Examples of other separate publications include
Posthumous Pieces of the late Rev. John William Fletcher (Albany: T. Spencer
and A. Ellison, 1794); Race for Eternal Life (Philadelphia: E. Cooper,
1802); An Appeal to Matter of Fact and Common Sense (Philadelphia: E.
Cooper, 1802); A Rational Vindieation of the Catholic Faith (Baltimore:
Abner Neal, 1818); Portrait of St. Paul (New York: B. Waugh and J. Emory,
Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review XV (1833),
pp. 406–450; XVI (1834), pp. 131–173.
“Methodist Publishing Activities,” Religion on
the American Frontier, IV, pp. 700–706; and Joseph Benson, The Life of the
Rev. John W. De La Flechere, (Nashville: Publishing House of M. E. Church,
South, 1888), pp. 205, 216, 276–278, passim.
Cf. Fletcher’s influence on Asa Mahan: “The
terms by which we designate it were those by which it had been presented
since the times of Wesley and Fletcher, namely, Christian Perfection, Entire
Sanctification, and Full Salvation, “ Autobiography of Asa Mahan, p. 367,
cited in B. B. Warfield, Perfectionism, II, p. 57.
M. L. Edwards, Adam Clarke, p. 32.
Robert Chiles, Theological Transition in American
Methodism: 1790–1935, p. 42.
Ibid., p. 47.
Richard Watson, Theological Institutes (London:
John Mason, 1829).; 3rd edition), III, pp. 197–205.
The Journal and Letters of Francis Asbury, I, p.
66. cf. Peters, op. cit., pp. 85–97.
For additional documentation of the place of
Christian perfection in eighteenth century Methodism cf. History of American
Methodism, I, pp. 301–307; W. W. Sweet, Religion on the American Frontier,
IV, pp. 77, 91, 96, 102, 114, 121, 125–128, 140, 156, 159, 208, 210, 211;
Asbury, Journal, I, pp. 66, 127, 299, 351, 406, 420, 556, 696, 716; II, pp.
93, 139, 383.
J. P. Pilkington, The Methodist Publishing House,
I, pp. 92, 95, 101-103, 142, 149, 179, 181–182, 280-284, 286. Robert E.
Chiles, Theological Transition in American Methodism: 1790–1935, chapter
II, “Methodism’s Theological History: From Wesley to Watson,
1790–1840,” pp. 37–45.
J. F. Hurst, The History of Methodism, III, p.
1252, and Frank Baker, op. cit., p. 185. Peters, op. cit., 82.
Merrill E. Gaddis, “Christian Perfectionism in
B. W. McDonald, History of the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church, p. 105, cited in Gaddis, op. cit., p. 299.
Christian Advocate, October 14, 1826.
Cf. the use of Fletcher in a response to a
Calvinistic rejection of the doctrine in “Christian Perfection,”
Christian Advocate, II, p. 73. January 11, 1828.
John Fletcher, The Works of the Rev. John
Fletcher(Salem, Ohio: Schmul, 1976), pp. 630–633, 645, 647–648, 656. cf.
David Cubie, “Perfection in Wesley and Fletcher: Inaugural or
Teleological,” Wesleyan Theological Journal, 11 (Spring, 1976), pp. 25,
29–30; and Herbert McGonigle, “Pneumatological Nomenclature in Early
Methodism,” Wesleyan Theological Journal,
MS: Fletcher to Charles Wesley, November 24, 1771;
No. 38, Fletcher Volume, Methodist Archives,
“Methodist Publishing Activities,” Religion on
the American Frontier, IV, pp. 700–706.
Thomas Coke, The Experience and Spiritual Letters
of Mrs. Hester Ann Rogers (