William Grimshaw’s Christian Perfection
“Thousands, I can well believe, are familiar with the history of Whitefield and Wesley, who have not so much as heard of Grimshaw’s name. Yet he was a mighty man of God, of whom the Church and the world were not worthy.” Such, at least, was the analysis of J. C. Ryle in his 1868 book The Christian Leaders of the Last Century.
Grimshaw was Perpetual Curate of Haworth, Yorkshire in the mid-eighteenth century. He was friends and co-laborers with the men of his day who are more well known to history, men like George Whitefield, John Newton, and John Wesley. Despite his friendship with Wesley, their ministry together, and their joint sufferings for the Gospel in that they were once assaulted together by a drunken mob at Colne, it is clear enough that he did not share Wesley’s views on perfection. In one of his letters, Grimshaw states his doctrine of perfection as follows:
My perfection is to see my own imperfection; my comfort, to feel that I have the world, flesh, and devil to overthrow through the Spirit and merits of my dear Saviour; and my desire and hope is to love God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength, to the last gasp of life. This is my perfection. I know no other, expecting to lay down my life and my sword together.
– Cited by J. C. Ryle, The Christian Leaders of the Last Century, first published 1868, reprint (Moscow, ID: Charles Nolan, 2002), 120.