From John Wesley’s journal April 2, 1764:
I explained at large the nature of Christian Perfection. Many who had doubted of it before were fully satisfied. It remains only to experience what we believe.
Here is the experience that we have wrestled against its will into a four-fold “method” that treats experience as a source of theological ideas. As this short entry demonstrates, experience is not the source of doctrine for Wesley, but the confirmation or expression of it.
And, indeed, experience did not settle the argument for Wesley. In the sermon linked to above — which may or may not have been what he spoke of to those people referenced in his journal entry — Wesley wrote briefly about the place of experience, reason, and Scripture in the development of his theological ideas about Christian perfection:
If any doubt of this privilege of the sons of God, the question is not to be decided by abstract reasonings, which may be drawn out into an endless length, and leave the point just as it was before. Neither is it to be determined by the experience of this or that particular person. Many may suppose they do not commit sin, when they do; but this proves nothing either way. To the law and to the testimony we appeal. “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” [Rom. 3:4] By his Word will we abide, and that alone. Hereby we ought to be judged. (emphasis added)
Experience is what we wait for and hope for after we have believed the Word of God. Neither it nor reason, however, tell us what we should await.
We may not have any desire to follow Wesley’s method and argument, but we do him a disservice if we claim by his name something he did not himself practice.