A Letter from Mrs. Anne Dutton, to The Reverend Mr. G. Whitefield [1743]

A Letter to the Rev. Mr. Whitefield, &c.

  Right glad am I, that our dear Lord has brought you to Bristol, enables you so frequently, and successfully to Labour in his Gospel, and manifests his Presence with you there. Now Sir, You are in the heat of Battel. But since Christ is with you, Fear not, O poor Bristol! How have many there been deluded by Sin and Satan, in such a manner, as to think they have no Sin. For indeed Sir, I can look upon it to be no other than [4] a Delusion of the Enemy of Souls, and a deceit of the Heart, for any to think, that there is such a Thing attainable in this Life, as an entire, sinless Perfection; and much more so, for any to think, that they themselves have attained it. Strange it is, that any should think, or affirm, that they have not Sinned in thought, Word or Deed for Months! And Stranger still, and what I never before heard of, that any should imagine that the Being of Sin is taken out of their Nature! But what blindness and hardness, will not Satan and Sin cast upon our Souls, if permitted! Surely this Error is now come to its Height, and the Time come that the Enemy shall proceed no further. Surely Satan shall fall like Lightning from Heaven. Our Lord suffers the Enemy to go to the End of his Chain, to drive on his Designs so far till he [5] thinks he has got Souls fast enough in his Snare; and then he delights to Confound him, and let the Captives go free! Verily our Dear Lord, will Redeem the Souls of his Children from Deceit and Violence, their Lives being precious in his Sight. Do your utmost, my Dear Brother, to disentangle the insnared in Bristol. For the Delusion which prevails, will have most pernicious Consequences. And that it is a Delusion, the Word of God most clearly Manifests. For,

  If we say that we have no sin, (says the Apostle John) we Deceive ourselves, and the Truth is not in us, 1 John 1. 8. And says the Holy Ghost by Solomon, There is not a just Man upon the Earth that doeth good, and sinneth not, Eccles. 7. 20. The great Work of the Grace of God, which bringeth Salvation to the saved ones, is, Teaching them, that denying ungodliness; and worldly Lusts, they should live [6] soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, Tit. 2. 11, 12. The word Teaching, being in the present Tense, denotes the constant work of Divine Grace upon the Subjects thereof, while they are in this World. The Word Denying, denotes the constant Duty, and Business of Christians, so long as they are in this present World. And the Teaching of Grace, to deny ungodliness, and the denying, of the same, both being of equal Duration with the stay of Christians in this present World: do necessarily imply, the Being, and Solicitations of Ungodliness, and worldly Lusts in their Souls, even so long as they are in the Body, or in this present World. To deny a Person or Thing, supposes the Being, and Solicitations of that Person or Thing. So to deny ungodliness, and worldly Lusts, supposes the Being, and Solicitations thereof. And [7] as a Christian’s Work, his constant Work, lies in a continual denying of ungodliness, and worldly lusts; it must undeniably suppose the Being, and Solicitations of Sin, so long as they are in this World. Thus, 2 Cor. 7. 1. Having these Promises (dearly beloved) let us Cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the Flesh and Spirit, perfecting Holiness in the Fear of God: Doth necessarily suppose our present Impurity and Imperfection, both in the Soul and Body, while in this Life. So also 1 John 3. 3. And every Man that hath this Hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure; doth necessarily imply his present Impurity while he is in this World; (or until he enjoys the hoped for Blessing, of seeing Christ as he is) else there would be no room to say of him, that he Purifiethhimself. So likewise, our Imperfection in Holiness, which arises from [8] the being, and Working of Sin in our corrupt Nature, is necessarily implied, Ver. 2, where the Apostle says, When he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. He doth not say we are like him; (no not us Apostles) but we shall be like him. And gives the great Cause of this great Effect: For we shall see him as he is. Sight of Christ is the cause of likeness to him. Sight of Christ Partial in this Life, produceth Partial Likeness. Sight of Christ Total in the Life to come, will produce Total likeness to him: First in our Souls, during a separate State, and then in our whole Persons after the Resurrection of the Just: Then, and not till then, shall we be perfectly like Christ, in Holiness and Glory. Holiness, which is the Glory of the Soul, is the Effect of us beholding the Glory of the Lord: As, 2 Cor. 3. 18. But we all with open [9] Face, beholding as in a Glass the Glory of the Lord, are changed in the same image, from Glory to Glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord. Whence we may likewise Note, That the Change of the Soul into the Image of God, is imperfect, with respect to Degrees, and a progressive Work while in this Life: It is from Glory to Glory. The New Testament Saints, if compar’d with the Old, have an open-fac’d View of the Glory of God in Christ; and a more glorious Change into his Image. But if compared with that Vision of God which we shall have in Glory, we see but darkly: And an inspir’d Apostle says, Now I know in part, but then (when that which is perfect is come, and that which is in part done away) shall I know, even as also I am known, 1 Cor. 13. 12. Thou canst notsee my Face (says God to Moses) for there shall no Man (let him be ever [10] such a Favourite) see me and Live, Exod. 33. 20. Therefore no Man can be perfect in Holiness in this Life. And in a Word, A sinless Perfection in this Life, Thwarts the whole Design of the Gospel, with respect to the Saints, in the present State. For as soon as the Apostles had laid down the great Doctrines of Grace, the Use they make thereof, to those interested in them, is Holiness. From Privilege, they Press to Duty; from Grace, to Holiness, both in the Mortification of Sin, and Increase of Grace, inward and outward: As is manifest in all their Epistles. So that I don’t see, but if we admit of Sinless Perfection here; we may even throw[1] away our Bibles, Certainly, If any Persons had attain’d it, they would have no more need of Ordinances: Nor can I see Reason why such Persons should be any longer out of Heaven, when thus fully prepar’d for it.

  That you may still increase with all the Increases of God; both personally, and ministerially: And that all Errors may fall before the rising Glory of Truth: Is the hearty Desire of,

Dear Sir, 

Yours for ever in our 

Sweet Lord Jesus, &c



[1]    through] orig. text

Text: [Dutton, Anne.] A Letter from Mrs. Anne Dutton, to The Reverend Mr. G. Whitefield. Philadelphia, Printed and Sold by William Bradford, at the Sign of the Bible in Second-Street, [1743].