…having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.@2 Timothy 3:5
George A. Löhr (1821–1897)

Charles Wesley, Hymns and Sacred Poems 1740, alt.

Written during the disputes between the Wesleys and the Moravians concerning Antimonianism and Perfectionism. Dr. Jackson sums up the controversy in his Memoirs of C. Wesley (abridged ed., 1848, p. 98) thus:—

Molther was the most active and strenuous in propagating the errors by which many were misled. He contended that there are no degrees in faith; so that those who have not the full and unclouded assurance of the divine favour, whatever they may possess besides, have no faith at all. Another tenet which he avowed and defended was, that till men have faith, they are not to use any of the means of grace, such as the reading of the Scriptures, attending the ministry of the Gospel, and receiving the Holy Communion; these ordinances being rather injurious than beneficial, till men have a true and vital faith…The fine hymn on Christian ordinances…was written by Mr. C. Wesley at this period [1739–40], as an antidote to the mischievous errors which were prevalent.

Julian, p. 684

St. Frances George A. Löhr, 1861 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Charles Wesley (1707–1788)

Long have I seemed to serve Thee, Lord,
With unavailing pain:
I fasted, prayed, and read Thy Word,
And heard it preached in vain.

Oft did I with th’assembly join,
And near Thine altar drew;
A form of godliness was mine,
The power I never knew.

I rested in the outward law;
Nor knew its deep design:
The length and breadth I never saw,
The height of love divine.

To please Thee thus, at length I see,
I vainly hoped and strove:
For what are outward things to Thee,
Unless they spring from love?

I see the perfect law requires
Truth in the inward parts:
Our full consent, our whole desires,
Our undivided hearts.

But I of means have made my boast,
Of means an idol made;
The spirit in the letter lost,
The substance in the shade.

Where am I now, or what my hope?
What can my weakness do?
Jesus! to Thee my soul looks up:
’Tis Thou must make it new.