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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Kingdom of Heaven
By John Wesley (1703–1791)
 
From ‘The First Discourse upon the Sermon on the Mount’

THIS is that kingdom of heaven, or of God, which is within us: even “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” And what is “righteousness,” but the life of God in the soul; the mind which was in Christ Jesus; the image of God stamped upon the heart now renewed after the likeness of him that created it? What is it but the love of God, because he first loved us, and the love of all mankind for his sake?  1
  And what is this “peace,” the peace of God, but that calm serenity of soul, that sweet repose in the blood of Jesus, which leaves no doubt of our acceptance in him; which excludes all fear, but the loving, filial fear of offending our Father which is in heaven?  2
  This inward kingdom implies also “joy in the Holy Ghost”; who seals upon our hearts “the redemption which is in Jesus,” the righteousness of Christ imputed to us “for the remission of the sins that are past”; who giveth us now “the earnest of our inheritance,” of the crown which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give at that day. And well may this be termed “the kingdom of heaven”: seeing it is heaven already opened in the soul; the first springing up of those rivers of pleasure which flow at God’s right hand for evermore.  3
  “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Whosoever thou art to whom God hath given to be “poor in spirit,” to feel thyself lost, thou hast a right thereto, through the gracious promise of Him who cannot lie. It is purchased for thee by the blood of the Lamb. It is very nigh: thou art on the brink of heaven! Another step, and thou enterest into the kingdom of righteousness, and peace, and joy! Art thou all sin? “Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world!” All unholy? See thy “Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”! Art thou unable to atone for the least of thy sins? “He is the propitiation for [all thy] sins.” Now believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and all thy sins are blotted out! Art thou totally unclean in soul and body? Here is the “fountain for sin and uncleanness”! “Arise, and wash away thy sins!” Stagger no more at the promise through unbelief! Give glory to God! Dare to believe! Now cry out from the ground of thy heart,—
  “Yes, I yield, I yield at last,
    Listen to thy speaking blood;
Me, with all my sins, I cast
    On my atoning God!”
  4
  Then thou learnest of him to be “lowly of heart.” And this is the true, genuine, Christian humility, which flows from a sense of the love of God, reconciled to us in Christ Jesus. Poverty of spirit, in this meaning of the word, begins where a sense of guilt and of the wrath of God ends; and is a continual sense of our total dependence on him for every good thought, or word, or work,—of our utter inability to all good, unless he “water us every moment,” and an abhorrence of the praise of men, knowing that all praise is due unto God only. With this is joined a loving shame, a tender humiliation before God, even for the sins which we know he hath forgiven us, and for the sin which still remaineth in our hearts, although we know it is not imputed to our condemnation. Nevertheless, the conviction we feel of inbred sin is deeper and deeper every day. The more we grow in grace, the more do we see of the desperate wickedness of our heart. The more we advance in the knowledge and love of God through our Lord Jesus Christ (as great a mystery as this may appear to those who know not the power of God unto salvation), the more do we discern of our alienation from God,—of the enmity that is in our carnal mind, and the necessity of our being entirely renewed in righteousness and true holiness.  5
 
 
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