"The Oberlin Evangelist"
Publication of Oberlin College

Sermons and Lectures given in 1839
by
Charles G. Finney
President of Oberlin College

Public Domain Text
Reformatted by Katie Stewart
 

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Professor Finney's Letter of January 1, 1839

Lecture I. Eternal Life

Lecture II. Faith

Professor Finney's Letter of January 30, 1839

Lecture III. Devotion

Professor Finney's Letter of February 13, 1839

Lecture IV. True and False Religion

Lecture V. The Law of God 1

Lecture VI. The Law of God 2

Lecture VII. Glorifying God

Professor Finney's Letter of April 10, 1839

Lecture VIII. True and False Peace

Lecture IX. Dominion Over Sin

Lecture X. Carefulness A Sin

Lecture XI. & XII The Promises- No.'s 1 - 5

Lecture XIII. Being In Debt

Lecture XIV. The Holy Spirit of Promise

Lecture XV. The Covenants

Lecture XVI. & XVII. The Rest of Faith- No.'s 1 & 2

Lecture XVIII. Affections and Emotions of God

Lecture XIX. Legal and Gospel Experience

Lecture XX. How to Prevent Our Employments from Injuring Our Souls

Lecture XXI. & XXII. Grieving the Holy Spirit- No.'s 1 & 2

GLOSSARY
of easily misunderstood terms as defined by Mr. Finney himself.
 


Professor Finney's Letter
of January 1, 1839

from "The Oberlin Evangelist" Publication of Oberlin College

Public Domain Text
Reformatted by Katie Stewart

TO THE YOUNG CHRISTIANS WHO HAVE BEEN CONVERTED IN THE GREAT REVIVALS OF THE FEW PAST YEARS, SCATTERED UP AND DOWN IN THE LAND, WHEREVER THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD MAY HAVE CAST YOUR LOT:

Beloved in the Lord:

My body is so far worn and especially my organs of speech so far exhausted that I cannot visit and preach to you orally the word of life. I therefore address you through the press, as the most direct and effectual medium through which I can communicate my thoughts.

I propose, the Lord willing, to address to you through the columns of "The Oberlin Evangelist" from time to time a series of short sermons.

I. On those practical subjects that I deem most important to you and to the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. When I shall have said what I desire on those more immediately and highly practical topics, if the Lord permit, I design

II. To give you a series of sermons on some doctrinal topics, especially the moral government of God, including the atonement, and the influences of the Holy Ghost in the administration of that government.

A great many of you I know personally, and many more of you know me with whom I have not the honor of a personal acquaintance. You do me the honor to call me your spiritual father, and I have the unspeakable happiness of believing that God has made me instrumental in doing you good. Such of you as know me personally know that it is my manner to deal with great plainness of speech and directness of address to the souls and consciences of men. You remember that this was my manner when I was with you. That this is still the only way to do you good I have the greatest confidence.

Now the thing that I desire to do is, so far as in me lies, to lay open before you the very secrets of your hearts, and also to lead you to an entire renunciation of everything that grieves the Spirit of God, to a relinquishment of selfishness, under every form and in every degree, and to hold out before you those "exceeding great and precious promises" whereby you may be made "partakers of the divine nature." The conductors of this paper are willing that I should make it the medium of spreading before you my thoughts, as the providence and Spirit of God shall enable me. I shall give you a sermon as often as my health and other duties will permit; and whenever you receive this paper containing one of my lectures, I wish you to consider yourself as personally addressed by me. I wish you to read for yourself and feel that I mean you, as much as though it were a private communication made to you from my own pen, or as if I had a personal interview and addressed you "face to face." If I probe you to the quick, I beg of you not to be offended and throw the paper aside and refuse to hear me. "I beseech you by the mercies of God," nay, I conjure you by our Lord Jesus Christ to hear me patiently and with candor. Nay, beloved, I expect candor from you; and many of you, I doubt not, will not only hear me with candor but with joy. I will try to write as if I had you all before me in one great congregation, as if I beheld your countenances and were addressing you "face to face." Nay, I will consider you, and I desire you to consider yourselves, as in such a sense members of my congregation as to attend statedly on my preaching. I shall take it for granted that you read every lecture, and of course address you from time to time as if you had candidly read and attentively considered what I had already said.

Unless I can engage you to grant me one request, I have little hope of doing you good. And that is, as soon as you receive this communication you will make me, yourselves and the subject of the proposed lectures subjects of earnest and constant prayer; and that whenever you receive a paper containing one of the proposed lectures, you go upon your knees before you read it and lay open your heart in solemn prayer before God and to the influence of truth, and implore the aid of the Holy Spirit to make the word to you quick and powerful. We shall all soon meet at the bar of God. I earnestly desire to do you all the good I can while I am in the flesh; and as I do not intend to write for your amusement but solely for your spiritual edification, will you pledge yourselves on your knees before God to examine the truth candidly-- make a personal, faithful and full application of it to your own hearts and lives-- and to improve it as you will answer to God in the solemn judgment? If these are your resolutions and purposes, I am confident the Lord will bless you. I shall not cease to pray for you and intend to make such of you as I can remember special and particular subjects of prayer; and I entreat you to do the same by me.
 

C. G. FINNEY
A Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ





Eternal Life
Lecture I
January 1, 1839

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--I John 5:10,11: "He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself; he that believeth not God, hath made him a liar, Because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son."

In discoursing upon this subject, the following is the order in which I intend to direct your thoughts:

I. Show what we are to understand by eternal life.

II. That Jesus Christ is the eternal life of the soul.

III. That God has given eternal life to all mankind, entirely irrespective of their knowledge or consent.

IV. That this gift may be rejected by unbelief, or received by faith.

V. Whosoever believes on the Son of God, or receives this gift, has the witness in himself, or knows that he has eternal life by his own consciousness.


I. I am to show what we are to understand by eternal life.

II. I am to show that Jesus Christ is the eternal life of the soul.
"The Jews, therefore, strove among themselves, saying, how can this man give us his flesh to eat?" "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no LIFE in you.--"Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, HATH ETERNAL LIFE; and I will raise him up at the last day." "For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him."

"As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me, even he shall LIVE by me." "This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead; he that eateth of this bread shall LIVE for ever."

At these words His disciples murmured, saying, verse 60 and onward, "This is an hard saying, who can hear it?" "When Jesus knew in himself, that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?" "What, and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?"

"It is the Spirit that QUICKENETH; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are LIFE." His disciples supposed Him to speak of His material body, and blood--but in these verses he informs them that it was His divine nature which came down from heaven, and that constituted the bread and blood of which He spake, and of which, if they ate and drank, they should have eternal life. I need not multiply passages of scripture. You who read your Bibles, know that Christ is everywhere represented as "the resurrection and the LIFE," as "the way, the truth, and the LIFE," as "the bread and water of eternal LIFE," as the "fountain of LIVING waters," and in a vast variety of ways, this truth is taught throughout the Scripture.

III. I am to show that God has given eternal life to all mankind, entirely irrespective of their knowledge or consent.

By this, I do not mean that they have received, or are actually put in possession of eternal life, or if they remain in unbelief, that they ever will be put in possession of it, but that an act is passed conferring on them pardon, and eternal life. In proof that this gift must be irrespective of our believing it, I remark, that whatever is to be believed, must be true, independent of our belief. If the truth of a proposition depended upon our believing it, then we should be under the necessity of believing it before it was true, which would be an absurdity. Every truth of the gospel which is an object of faith, is true, whether we believe it or not. Were it not so, we could not be required to believe it. It must, therefore, be true that God has given eternal life to all who are under any obligation to believe the gospel. The text represents the unbeliever as making God a liar, "because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son." "And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal LIFE, and this life is in his Son." Now, is the unbeliever to believe that God has given to others, eternal life, and exclude himself, or is he to believe himself to be included in the gift of eternal life. If by us,"he is to include himself with the rest of mankind, then it must be true that eternal life was given him before he believed or received it. Did the gift belong only to those that believe, and that, too, after they believe? How, then, should our unbelief make God a liar? This gift must extend to all for whom Christ died. In John 1:29, he is called the "Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." In John 3:16,17, it is said, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." In John 4:42, he is again called the "Saviour of the world." In John 6:33, he is represented as "giving life to the world," and in the 51st verse, the same fact is declared, "and the bread which I will give, is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world." In Heb. 2:9, it is said, "We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for EVERY man." These, and many other passages that might be quoted, show that this gift respects all mankind.

IV. I am to show that this gift may be rejected by unbelief, or received by faith.

The gift is absolute, without any other conditions than those necessarily implied in the bequest. If I give a man anything, the condition is always implied, that he receive it. The gift on my part may be absolute, and the condition, if not expressed, is always implied in the very nature of the case. A father may make a will, and bequeath his estate to an heir; but in this bequest, this condition is implied, that he receive it. The gift is an absolute gift, which may be received or rejected, at the pleasure of the heir. Now, faith is a necessary condition of the Gospel. It is naturally impossible that an unbelieving mind should accept, or receive the gift of eternal life. The gift is holiness. Holiness is love and active obedience. Unbelief is distrust. Faith is trust or confidence--that confidence of the heart that works by love. Faith is the yielding up the soul to the influence and truth of Christ. And thus Christ is represented as being our sanctification. Not our sanctifier, as if he made us holy in ourselves, and left us to obey, in the exercise of our uninfluenced and unaided powers. When he is said to be our life--"our sanctification," the "bread of life," --the "vine of which we are branches"--I suppose these, and such like expressions, all mean the same thing, viz: that Christ is the perpetual author of all our holy feelings and actions. Faith is that act of the mind that submits to the control of Christ and of the truth. It is the receiving of Christ as an indwelling Savior--it is that opening of the door of the heart spoken of in the Scripture, and receiving Christ as an indwelling and reigning king. Thus in Eph. 3:17, Christ is represented as "dwelling in the heart by faith," and in many other passages, he is represented as dwelling in the heart, and faith is represented as the door by which he enters. It is, as I have already said, the voluntary receiving of the divine influence of Christ, and of his truth into the mind. It is the yielding of our voluntary powers to his divine control. Hence he is represented as dwelling in us--which I suppose to be really and literally true--that by his Spirit he is personally present with the mind, and by his truth and persuasive influences, controlling, guiding, and directing it. Now distrust or unbelief rejects His teaching--refuses to receive, and be guided, and molded by truth; while faith receiving the divine communication, surrenders the will, and all the powers to his entire control. So that he is our sanctification, i.e. he does not change our nature, so that we become good in ourselves--so that we have life in ourselves, apart from him. But as it is said in Colossians, [3:3-4,] "Our life is hid with Christ in God, and when he who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory." He is the life, or the holiness of the soul; it is his presence and agency that produces holiness in us; and this holiness continues no longer, and extends no farther, than the divine agency that produces it. By this, I do not mean that we are passive in holiness, or that we receive his holiness or righteousness by imputation; but that we actually become partakers of his holiness, and of his life, by the voluntary surrender of our powers to his control. Nor by controlling our powers, do I mean that our own agency is, in any sense, suspended. Our own agency is never more freely and fully exercised, than when under the divine influence of Christ. His influences are moral, i.e. persuasive only, else they could not be received by faith. It were absurd to speak of receiving a physical or compulsory influence by faith. Nor, in the nature of the case, can eternal life, although absolutely given, and left at the option of every man, be received in any other way, than by simple faith. This gift is entirely irrespective of works of any kind on our own part. Nor do works of law, or any other kind of works, bring us any nearer the reception of it. Faith alone receives it. Unbelief alone rejects it.

V. I am to show that, whosoever believes on the Son of God, or receives this gift, has the witness within HIMSELF, or knows that he has eternal life by his own consciousness.

This is expressly affirmed in the text. And I might quote various other passages to the same effect--but would observe, that as eternal life consists in holiness, it must be a subject of consciousness. Holiness is supreme love. Now of what can we be conscious, if not of the supreme affection of the mind? Is it possible that any of you should love God supremely, and not be conscious of it? Many persons hope that they love God, and hope that they have eternal life; but if they would consider that eternal life is holiness, and that nothing short of supreme love is holiness, they would know at once that if any man believes, he has the witness in himself--the testimony of his own consciousness, which is the highest and best possible evidence. Now if any of you have not this evidence, the witness of your own consciousness, I beg of you to put away your hope and your talk about eternal life. For what is a life worth which is not a matter of consciousness?

REMARKS.

1. From what has been said, every one of you must know whether you have eternal life. Can you say with Paul "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me?" "And the life which I now live, I live by faith on the Son of God?" Do you know that you live in love, and walk in love?

2. You who do not believe, and thus receive eternal life, are making God a liar. How horrible it would sound were the language of your unbelief put into words!

3. You see, from this subject the great mistake of those who suppose if persons were wholly sanctified they would have no further need of Christ. You who think thus, overlook the fact that Christ is the eternal life of the soul. The difference between those who are wholly, and those who are partially sanctified, is, that the former are made to feel, continually, their entire dependence upon God--that "in him they live, and move, and have their being" that without him they are absolutely dead in "trespasses and sins"--that every spiritual breath they breathe, and pulse they tell, is from his influence. They know they have not, and never expect to have any life but in him, any more than the vine has life when severed from the branch. Constant faith receives the tide of eternal life as it flows continually from Christ; in other words, it receives a continual influence, and the constant leadings and guidings of the Spirit of Christ. Whereas, they that are but partially sanctified, have so illy learned their dependence, as sometimes to look to Christ, and at other times to turn away and depend upon the exercise of their own unaided powers.

4. If God has given to us eternal life, why should we not enter into, and take possession of it? The gift is absolute; our elder brother, the Lord Jesus Christ, has it in possession, and holds it as a trustee, or surety, or guardian, and invites and continually urges us to accept it. And why, with such an inheritance as this, should we go about like swine, and wallow in the filth of sin, instead of at once entering upon our inheritance, and taking hold of the fulness of gospel salvation? Take hold, at once. Christ, your elder brother, has in possession, this eternal life. Believe in Him--believe now, at once, without any preparatory process whatever. Believe the record "that God hath given to us, eternal life, and this life is in his Son," and you shall now enter into the rest of faith.

5. From this subject, you see also the infinite guilt of those who reject the gospel. The gift is absolute--it is tendered to their acceptance, with all the sincerity of God--it was purchased by the blood, and treasured up in the life of Christ. There is an infinite excellence, and power, and glory in it--and if "he that despised Moses' law, died without mercy, under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing."

6. Lastly. Let it be remembered, understood, realized and felt by every one of you, that this bequest is made. The testator has died and sealed it with his blood. The infinite treasure--the pearl of great price lies before you, waiting for your acceptance. Take it--receive it--hold fast to it by faith.




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Faith
Lecture II
January 16, 1839

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--John 6:28,29: "Then said they unto him, what shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."

The following is the train of thought I shall pursue:

I. Notice several erroneous answers, commonly given to the question proposed in the text, viz: What shall we do that we may work the works of God?

II. Show that Christ gave the only proper answer, under the circumstances in which the question was asked.

III. Show that, under other circumstances, another answer might, with propriety, be given.


I. I am to notice several erroneous answers commonly given to the question proposed in the text.

1. Should the question be proposed to a Jew, "What shall I do that I may work the works of God?" he would answer, keep the law, both moral and ceremonial, i.e. keep the commandments.

2. To the same inquiry, an Arminian would answer, improve common grace, and you will obtain converting grace, i.e. use the means of grace, according to the best light you have, and you will obtain the grace of salvation. In this answer, it is not supposed, that the inquirer already has faith, and is using the means of grace in faith; but that he is in a state of impenitency, and is inquiring after converting grace. The answer, therefore, amounts to this: you must get converting grace by your impenitent works; you must become holy by your hypocrisy; you must work out sanctification by sin.

3. To this question, most professed Calvinists would make, in substance, the same reply. They would reject the language, while they retained the idea. Their direction would imply, either that the inquirer already has faith, or that he must perform works to obtain it, i.e. to obtain grace by works.

Neither an Arminian nor a Calvinist, would formally direct the inquirer to the law, as the ground of justification. But nearly the whole Church would give directions that would amount to the same thing. Their answer would be a legal, and not a gospel answer. For whatever answer is given to this question, that does not distinctly recognize faith, as the foundation of all virtue in sinners, is legal. Unless the inquirer is made to understand that this is the first grand fundamental duty, without the performance of which all virtue, all giving up of sin, all acceptable obedience, is impossible, he is misdirected. He is led to believe, that it is possible to please God without faith; and to obtain grace by works of law. There are but two kinds of works--works of law, and works of faith. Now if the inquirer has not the "faith that works by love," to set him upon any course of works to get it, is certainly to direct him to get faith by works of law. Whatever is said to him that does not clearly convey the truth, that both justification and sanctification are by faith, without works of law, is law, and not gospel. Nothing before, or without faith, can possibly be done by the unbeliever, but works of law. His first duty, therefore, is faith; and every attempt to obtain faith by unbelieving works, is to lay works at the foundation, and make grace a result. It is the direct opposite of gospel truth.

Take facts as they arise in every day's history, to show that what I have stated is the experience of almost all, professors and non-professors. Whenever a sinner begins in good earnest to agitate the question, "What shall I do to be saved?" he resolves, as a first duty, to break off from his sins, i.e. in unbelief. Of course his reformation is only outward, he determines to do better--to reform in this, that, and the other thing, and thus prepare himself to be converted. He does not expect to be saved without grace and faith, but he attempts to get grace by works of law.

The same is true of multitudes of anxious Christians, who are inquiring what they shall do to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil. They overlook the fact that "this is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith," that it is with "the shield of faith" that they are "to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." They ask, why am I overcome by sin? Why can I not get above its power? Why am I thus the slave of my appetites and passions, and the sport of the devil? They cast about for the cause of all this spiritual wretchedness and death. At one time they think they have discovered it in the neglect of one duty; and at another time, in the neglect of another. Sometimes they imagine they have found the cause to lie in yielding to one sin, and sometimes in yielding to another. They put forth efforts in this direction, and in that direction, and patch up their righteousness on one side, while they make a rent in the other. Thus they spend years in running around in a circle, and making dams of sand across the current of their own corruptions. Instead of at once purifying their hearts by faith, they are engaged in trying to arrest the overflowing of its bitter waters. Why do I sin? they inquire; and casting about for the cause, they come to the sage conclusion, it is because I neglect such a duty, i.e. because I do sin. But how shall I get rid of sin? Answer: by doing my duty, i.e. by ceasing from sin. Now the real inquiry is, why do they neglect their duty? Why do they commit sin at all? Where is the foundation of all this mischief? Will it be replied, the foundation of all this wickedness is in the corruption of our nature--in the wickedness of the heart--in the strength of our evil propensities and habits? But all this only brings us back to the real inquiry, again: How are this corrupt nature, this wicked[ness], and these sinful habits to be overcome? I answer, by faith alone. No works of law have the least tendency to overcome our sins; but rather confirm the soul in self-righteousness and unbelief.

The great and fundamental sin, which is at the foundation of all other sin, is unbelief. The first thing, is to give up that--to believe the word of God. There is no breaking off from one sin without this. "Whatever is not faith is sin," "Without faith, it is impossible to please God." Thus we see that the backslider and convicted Christian, when agonizing to overcome sin, will, almost always, betake themselves to works of law to obtain faith. They will fast, and pray, and read, and struggle, and outwardly reform, and thus endeavor to obtain grace. Now all this is in vain and wrong. Do you ask, shall we not fast, and pray, and read, and struggle? Shall we do nothing, but sit down in Antinomian security and inaction? I answer, you must do all that God commands you to do; but begin where He tells you to begin, and do it in the manner in which he commands you to do it, i.e. in the exercise of that faith that works by love. Purify your hearts by faith. Believe in the Son of God. And say not in your heart, "who shall ascend into heaven i.e. to bring Christ down from above; or who shall descend into the deep, i.e. to bring up Christ again from the dead. But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith which we preach."

Now these facts show that even under the gospel almost all professors of religion, while they reject the Jewish notion of justification by works of the law, have, after all, adopted a ruinous substitute for it, and suppose that in some way they are to obtain grace by their works.

II. I am to show, that Christ gave the only proper answer, under the circumstances in which the question was asked.

In order to understand the propriety of the answer, we must understand the meaning of the question. The context shows that the question was asked by certain unbelieving Jews, who inquired what they could do, to work the works of God?--in other words, to obtain the favor of God? Christ understood them as inquiring what works would be acceptable without faith. He therefore answers: "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." As if He had said, nothing is a work of God which you would recognize as such. Faith is the first great work of God, without which it is impossible to please Him. To a Jew, this answer would imply, that he believed Him to be the Messiah foretold in the scriptures. And to all persons the answer implies not only a general confidence in the character of God, but a trust in his atonement and saving grace, in opposition to all works of law for justification.

To show that this is the only proper answer to be given to a person in a state of unbelief, I will state,

1. What I DO NOT mean by the proposition; and

2. What I DO mean by it.

The first element of saving faith is a realizing sense of the truth of the Bible. But this is not alone saving faith, for Satan has this realizing sense of truth, which makes him tremble.

But a second element in saving faith is the consent of the heart or will to the truth perceived by the intellect. It is a cordial trust or resting of the mind in those truths, and a yielding up of the whole being to their influence. Now it is easy to see, that without the consent of the will, there can be nothing but an outward obedience to God. A wife, without confidence in her husband, can do nothing more than perform outwardly her duty to him. It is a contradiction to say that without confidence, she can perform her duty from the heart. The same is true of parental and all other governments. Works of law may be performed without faith; i.e. we may serve from fear or hope, or some selfish consideration; but without the confidence that works by love, obedience from the heart is naturally impossible. Nay, the very terms, obedience from the heart without love, are a contradiction.

III. I am to show, that under other circumstances another answer might, with propriety, have been given. REMARKS.

1. You see, from this subject, how to understand Rom. 9:20-32, which I have before quoted, "What shall we say, then," &c. The Jews sought by their own doings to please God, without faith; but all their righteousness was as filthy rags.--While the Gentiles, who had lived in open rebellion, when they heard the gospel, believed it at once, instead of betaking themselves to works of law; and thus exercising faith that works by love, they attained to the righteousness which is of God, by faith.

2. You see why the church is not sanctified.--They overlook the office and necessity of faith, as that which alone can produce acceptable obedience to God. They are engaged in efforts to obtain faith by works, instead of first exercising that faith which will beget within them a clean heart. In this way they seek in vain for sanctification. How common is it to see persons full of bustle and outward efforts and works--fasting and praying, giving and doing, and struggling; and after all, they have not the fruits of the Spirit--love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against which there is no law. They have not, after all, crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. They do not live in the Spirit, and walk in the Spirit. They do not, in their own experience, realize the truth of that saying, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is staid[stayed] on thee: because he trusteth in thee." Without that trust they cannot have peace; cannot be sanctified.

Others endeavor to force themselves to exercise the various Christian graces, of love, submission, &c., without faith, overlooking the fact that it is faith that works by love, and that repentance and submission imply faith, and are the results of faith. They are the surrendering of our wills to the will of God. But this certainly cannot be, without confidence in the character of God. In short, every Christian grace implies the exercise of faith as its foundation.

3. You see why the Bible lays so much stress upon faith.

4. You see what is the difficulty with those who are constantly in a complaining state, on the subject of religion. They seem to know they are wrong; but do not understand wherein the foundation of their wrong consists. They sometimes think that a neglect of this duty is the grand difficulty, and sometimes something else is that upon which their minds fasten, as the prime difficulty in the case. They set themselves to break off from one sin and another, and practice this self-denial, and that duty, and all without that faith that fills the heart with love. Thus they go round and round in a circle, and do not see that unbelief is their great, their damning sin; without the removal of which no other sin can be repented of or forgiven. All their efforts are entirely legal, hypocritical, and vain till they exercise faith.

5. You see the mistake of Antinomian Perfectionists, in setting aside all preceptive religion, and understanding obedience to the commands of God as legality. They do not make the discrimination here made. If persons without faith, in an unsanctified state, set themselves to obey the commandments of God, their efforts must necessarily be legal, self-righteous and ruinous. To them the precepts of the Gospel, as well as the commandments of the law, are a horrible pit of miry clay. You cast a man into a horrible pit of miry clay, and the more he struggles, the deeper he sinks. Now to a man without faith, the precepts of the law and gospel are fitly compared to miry clay. Every effort at obedience without faith is sin; and as it confirms self-righteousness, is sinking him farther and farther from God, and rational hope. And the more vehemently he struggles, the more desperate and alarming his case becomes. The clay surrounds him, and cleaves to him, suffocates and kills him. Just so the commands of God to an unbelieving heart, are a snare and a pit. They are miry and suffocating clay. Without faith, there is ruin and damnation in them.

6. You see how to the Jews, and to all unbelievers, the commandments of God are a stumbling block. All outward conformity to them is useless, yea, ruinous. Love without faith is impossible. And consequently, the merciful direction and instructions contained in the preceptive parts of the Gospel, are made the food of self-righteousness, and the snare of death. But to those whose souls are full of faith and love, the commandments of God are just the instruction which they need, when, in their ignorance, they earnestly inquire, what they shall do to glorify God. Do this, and avoid that, and the like, are just the things upon which hearts of love will seize, as the needed directions of their heavenly Father.

7. But someone may inquire, do not men learn to exercise faith, by what you call legal efforts, and in obedience to legal directions? No. They only learn by experience, that all such directions are vain, and that they are totally depraved and dependent, which they ought to have believed before. They set themselves to pray, and read, and struggle, expecting at every meeting they attend, every prayer they make, to obtain grace and faith. But they never do until they are completely discouraged, and despair of obtaining help in this way. And the history of every self-righteous sinner's conversion, and every anxious Christian's sanctification would develop this truth--that deliverance cometh not until their self-righteous efforts were proved, by their own experience, to be utterly vain, and abandoned as useless, and the whole subject thrown upon the sovereign mercy of God. This submitting a subject to the sovereign mercy of God is that very act of faith, which they should have put forth long before, but which they would not exercise until every other means had been tried in vain.

8. But perhaps you will say, if by this self-righteous struggle they learn their depravity and dependence, and in this manner come to prove, by their own experience, the truth of God, why not encourage them to make these efforts, as, at least, an indirect way of obtaining faith? Answer: Blasphemy and drunkenness, and any of the most shocking sins, may be, and often have been the means of working conviction, which has resulted in conversion. Why not encourage these things, as such is sometimes their indirect effect? The truth is, when a sinner's attention is awakened, and he is convicted, and puts forth the inquiry, "what shall I do?" and when a Christian, struggling with his remaining corruption, puts forth the same inquiry, why should they be thrown into the horrible pit of which I have spoken? Why not tell them at once, in the language of the text, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent"?

9. Let me say to you who would make the inquiry in the text, don't wait to fast, read, pray or any thing else; don't expect to break off from any sin in your unbelief. You may break off from the outward commission--you may substitute praying for swearing, reading your Bible for reading novels, outward industry and honesty for theft and idleness, sobriety for drunkenness, and any thing you please; and it is, after all, only exchanging one form of sin for another. It is only varying the mode of your warfare. But remember that in unbelief, whatever your conduct is, you are in high-handed rebellion against God. Faith would instantly sanctify your heart, sanctify all your doings, and render them, in Christ Jesus, acceptable to God. Unbelief is your great, your crying, your damning sin--against which the heaviest thunderbolts of Jehovah are hurled.

10. Don't wait for any particular view of Christ before you believe. When persons in the state of mind of which I have been speaking hear those who live in faith describe their views of Christ, they say, "O, if I had such views, I could believe; I must have these before I can believe." Now you should understand that these views are the result and effect of faith. These views of which you speak are that which faith discovers in those passages of Scripture which describe Christ. Faith apprehends the meaning of those passages, and sees in them these very things which you expect to see, before you exercise faith, and which you imagine would produce it. Take hold, then, on the simple promise of God. Take God at his word. Believe that he means just what he says. And this will at once bring you into the state of mind after which you inquire.

11. Let what has been said be an answer to that sister in New York, who inquired, by letter, what she should do to obtain the blessing of sanctification. My dear child, you inquire whether you shall obtain by reading the Bible, or by prayer, fasting, or by all these together. Now let this sermon answer you, and know that by neither, nor by all these, in the absence of faith, are you to grow any better, or find any relief. You speak of being in darkness, and of being discouraged. No wonder you are so, since you have plainly been seeking sanctification by works of law. You have "stumbled at this stumbling stone." You are in the horrible pit and miry clay of which I have just spoken. Immediately exercise faith upon the Son of God. It is the first--the only thing you can do to rest your feet upon the rock, and it will immediately put a new song into your mouth.




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Professor Finney's Letter
of January 30, 1839

from "The Oberlin Evangelist" Publication of Oberlin College

Public Domain Text
Reformatted by Katie Stewart

TO THE CHRISTIAN READERS OF "THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST"

Beloved:

You perceive that I have already commenced one of the promised courses of lectures. Before I proceed any farther, permit me to bring distinctly before your minds the main object I have in view and the reasons for the course I intend to pursue.

My object is the sanctification of "your whole spirit and soul and body."

My reasons are the following:

When I was first converted and entered the ministry, my mind was powerfully drawn, as I then thought and now think, to labor for the conversion of sinners. Upon that one grand object my heart was set, and to the accomplishment of it many of you can bear witness that all my powers were devoted. My study, preaching, prayers, visiting and conversation were devoted to that end. My mind was, of course,occupied almost exclusively with that class of truths that were calculated to work the conviction and conversion of the impenitent.

I generally spent but a few months in a place, and during that time my preaching and influence were directed, as I have said, almost exclusively to the conversion of the ungodly. I only spent so much time in preaching to the church as was indispensable to arouse them and get them out of the way of sinners.

About the same time, and subsequently to my laboring as an evangelist, a number of other evangelists were and have been called forward by the Spirit of God, who have labored many for the same object. The attention and labor of pastors have also been directed mainly to the same end during the extensive revivals of the few past years.

To my own mind it appears that this unity of design and effort were, to say the least, to a great extent in indispensable to the accomplishment of the great work that has been undeniably achieved. That hundreds of thousands of sinners have been converted to God by these instrumentalities I have no doubt. And I think I can see very clearly the wisdom of God in calling up the attention of so many evangelists, pastors and churches to the immediate conversion of the ungodly.

It has been represented, as perhaps some of you know, that I wholly disapprove of my own course as an evangelist and that I wholly disapprove of the course of other evangelists and pastors in this great work. Now this is by no means true. I do not by any means pretend to justify all that I have done, nor suppose that my course was faultless. Nor do I pretend to justify all that other evangelists and pastors have done to promote this work. Nor do I pretend that in everything our views of what was best to be done have been exactly alike. But with respect to myself, I feel bound to say that the more I have looked over the course in which I was led, the class of truths I preached and the means that I adopted, the more deeply have I been impressed with the conviction, that, considering the object I had in view, namely, the conversion of sinners, the course in which God led me was upon the whole wise, and such an one in almost all respects as I should pursue again, with my present experience, had I the same object in view.

I am also convinced that God has been wise in leading other evangelists and pastors in their preaching and measures. And although much of human infirmity may have and doubtless has appeared in what we have done, yet upon the whole I do not see what better could have been expected or done, under the circumstances of the case, for the accomplishment of so great and good a work.

In the midst of my efforts, however, for the conversion of sinners (and as far as my knowledge extends, it has been so with other evangelists and pastors) we have overlooked in a great measure the fact that converts would not make one step of progress only as they were constantly plied with means as well adapted to their sanctification and growth in grace, as were the means of their conversion. Believing and feeling as I did then and do now that if persons were once converted God in faithfulness would save them, I overlooked the necessity of the constant and vigorous and pointed use of means to effect this end. By this I do not mean that I did not at all feel this necessity. But it was not so fully before my mind as the necessity of the use of vigorous means for the conversion of the ungodly.

It is true that had I been impressed with this necessity, my stay in every place was too short to accomplish much in the work of leading converts to manhood in religion. The same has been true of my brethren who have been and are evangelists. And I have reason to believe that the great desire of pastors for the conversion of sinners in those congregations where revivals have prevailed and the great success that under God has attended the use of means for their conversion, has led them in a great measure to neglect the church-- to leave out of view the more spiritual truths of the gospel that constitute the food of Christians and are essential to their sanctification.

In revisiting some of the churches in which I had formerly labored, my mind was some years since from time to time deeply impressed with the necessity of doing something for the sanctification of Christians. And after I had been settled two or three years in the city of New York and had labored almost exclusively for the conversion of sinners, I was fully convinced that converts would die, that the standard of piety would never be elevated, that revivals would become more and more superficial and finally cease, unless something effectual was done to elevate the standard of holiness in the church. And in attempting to present to the church the high and pure doctrines of grace and all that class of truths which are the food and life of the Christian soul, I found to my sorrow that I had been so long in pursuit of sinners with the law, to convict them, and only enough of the gospel just to convert them, that my mind had, as it were, run down. And those high and spiritual truths had not that place in my own heart which is indispensable to the effectual exhibition of them to others. I found that I knew comparatively little about Christ, and that a multitude of things were said about Him in the gospel of which I had no spiritual view and of which I knew little or nothing.

What I did know of Christ was almost exclusively as an atoning and justifying Savior. But as a JESUS to save men from sin, or as a sanctifying Savior, I knew very little about Him. This was made by the Spirit of God very clear to my mind. And it deeply convinced me that I must know more of the gospel in my own experience and have more of Christ in my own heart, or I could never expect to benefit the church. In that state of mind, I used often to tell the Lord Jesus Christ that I was sensible that I knew very little about Him; and I besought Him to reveal himself to me that I might be instrumental in revealing Him to others. I used especially to pray over particular passages and classes of passages in the gospel that speaketh Christ, that I might apprehend their meaning and feel their power in my own heart. And I was often strongly convinced that I desired this for the great purpose of making Christ known to others.

I will not enter into detail with regard to the way in which Christ led me. Suffice it to say, and alone to the honor of His grace do I say it, He has taught me some things that I asked Him to show me. Since my own mind became impressed in the manner in which I have spoken, I have felt as strongly and unequivocally pressed by the Spirit of God to labor for the sanctification of the church as I once did for the conversion of sinners. By multitudes of letters and from various other sources of information I have learned, to my great joy, that God has been and is awakening a spirit of inquiry on the subject of holiness throughout the church, both in this country and in Europe.

You who read my lectures in the N.Y. Evangelist while I was in the city of New York may remember the manner in which God was leading my own mind-- through what a process of conviction and to what results He brought me previously to my leaving there. Since then God has been continually dealing with me in mercy. And oh how often I have longed to unburden myself and pour out my whole heart to the dear souls that were converted in those powerful revivals.

And now, dearly beloved, I have commenced this course of lectures in the hope that, should God spare my life, He will make them the instrument of doing you good. You need searching and trying and purifying and comforting. You need to be humbled, edified, sanctified. I think I know, very nearly, where great multitudes of you are in religion and will endeavor, God helping me from time to time, to adapt truth to what I suppose to be your circumstances and state of mind. As I said in my former letter January 1, 1839 -- I cannot visit you and preach to you orally, on account of the state of my health. And besides, I think the Spirit of God calls me for the present to remain here. But through the press, I can hold communion with you and preach to you the gospel of Christ.

In addition to the sermons which I design to preach to you, I shall probably from time to time address letters to you when I have anything particular to say that cannot well be said in a sermon. If any spiritual advise is asked by letter, as is often the case, upon any subject that can be answered in a sermon, you may generally expect to find my answer in some of my lectures-- concealing, of course, the fact that I have a particular case under my eye. If, in any case, the answer cannot well be given in a sermon, should providence permit you may expect an answer, either privately to the individual who makes the request or in a letter in the Evangelist, which may not only assist the inquirer but that class of persons who are in a similar state of mind. In this case also, of course, I shall not disclose the names of the particular inquirers.

And now, dearly beloved, do not suppose that I do this because I suppose that I am the only man who can give you spiritual advice but because I am willing to do what I can. And as I have freely received, I wish freely to impart whatever of the gospel the blessed God has taught me.

One word more. I have noticed in several papers a garbled extract from a remark that I made in one of my lectures published in the N.Y. Evangelist, which I here mention simply because it is dishonorable to God and injurious to you. In that lecture I said

"that those converted in the great revivals in the land, although real Christians, as I believed, and the best Christians in the church at the present day, were nevertheless a disgrace to religion on account of the low standard of their piety; and if I had health again to be an evangelist, I would labor for a revival in the churches and for the elevation of the standard of piety among Christians."
Now you perceive that I have here asserted my full conviction that those revivals were genuine works of God, "that the converts were real Christians," that "they are the best Christians in the church," and yet that on many accounts they are a disgrace to religion. Now this I fully believe and reassert. And it is to win you away, if possible, from the last remains of sin that I have undertaken this work. The papers to which I allude have injuriously presented me as admitting that those revivals were spurious and the converts not Christians. I do not complain of this on my own account nor speak of it if I know my own heart, because I have any regard to its bearing upon myself, but because it is a slander upon those precious revivals, and injurious to you, as in substance denying that the grace of God ever converted you.

And now, dearly beloved, I must close this letter, beseeching you to make me a subject of earnest prayer that God will enlighten and sanctify me, fill me with the spirit of the gospel of His Son and help me to impart to you the true bread and water of life, rightly dividing truth and giving to everyone a portion in due season.
 
 

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you forever.
 

C. G. FINNEY
A Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ




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Devotion
Lecture III
January 30, 1839

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Texts.--I Cor. 10:31: "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

Col. 3:17, 23: "And whatsoever ye do, in word, or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him; and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men."

Rom. 6:13: "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God."

Rom. 14:7, 8: "For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself, for whether we live, we live unto the Lord, and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord's."

These texts teach the nature and duty of Devotion to God.

In discussing this subject, I design to show,

I. What is not true devotion to God.

II. What is true devotion.

III. That devotion, and nothing short of devotion is true religion.

IV. Notice several mistakes commonly made upon this subject.


I. I am to show what is not true devotion.

II. I am to show what is true devotion.

It is a state of the mind or of the heart. It is that state of the will in which every thing--our whole life, and being, and possessions, are a continual offering to God; i.e. are continually devoted to God. True devotion, so far from consisting in any individual act, or feelings, must, of necessity, be the supreme devotion of the will, extending to all we have and are--to all times, places, employments, thoughts, and feelings.

Let your own ideas of what a minister ought to be illustrate my meaning. You feel that a minister, in preaching the gospel, should have but one design, and that should be to glorify God, in the sanctification and salvation of sinners. You know that he is professedly a servant of God. You feel that he ought to study, and preach, and perform all his ministerial duties--not for himself--not for his salary--not to increase his popularity--but to glorify God. Now you can easily see if a minister has not this singleness of eye, his service cannot be acceptable to God. It is not an offering to God, it is not a devotion to God, but a devotion to himself.

Devotion, then, in a minister, is that state of mind in which all his ministerial duties are performed with a single eye to the glory of God, and where his whole life is a continual offering to God.

Again, you feel that a minister ought to be as devoted in every thing else as he is in praying and preaching, and in this you are right; for he not only ought to be, but really is as devoted out of the pulpit as he is in the pulpit. If he is influenced by selfish and worldly motives during the week, he is influenced by the same motives on the Sabbath. If during the week he is studying his own interests, and endeavoring to promote his own ends, it must be that he is so on the Sabbath.

You feel, also, that if a minister is not truly devoted he will go to hell. Should you know that a minister preached, prayed, visited, and performed his ministerial duties mainly for the purpose of supporting his family, or in any way honoring or benefiting himself, whatever zeal he might manifest, you would say he was a wicked man, and unless he is converted he must inevitably lose his soul. If these are your views on the subject, they are undoubtedly correct. Here, where you have no personal interest, you form a right judgment, and decide correctly concerning the character and destiny of such a man.

Now remember that nothing short of this is devotion in you. Bear it in mind that no particular acts, or fervor, or gushings of emotion, or resolutions, or purposes of amendment, or of future obedience, are devotion.

But devotion is that state of the will in which the mind is swallowed up in God, as the object of supreme affection, in which we not only live and move in God, but for God. In other words, devotion is that state of mind in which the attention is diverted from self, and self-seeking, and is directed to God; the thoughts, and purposes, and desires, and affections, and emotions, all hanging upon, and devoted to Him.

III. I am to show that devotion, and nothing short of devotion, is true religion.

Devotion and true religion are identical.

Now a mind in the exercise of this faith will as naturally live for eternity, and not for time--for God, and not for self--as an unbeliever who apprehends none of these things as they are, would live for time and self, and not for God.
IV. I am to notice several mistakes commonly made upon this subject.
Now in this case it is manifest that their melting and breaking down was merely a gushing of the emotions, and not a will subdued and devoted to God. Devotion belongs to the will, and there may be many paroxysms of emotion, where the consecration of the will to self remains supreme.
REMARKS.

1. A spirit of devotion will make the most constant cares and the most pressing labors the means of the deepest and most constant communion with God. The more constant and pressing our duties are, if they are performed for God, the deeper and more incessant is our communion with him; for whatever is done in a spirit of devotion is communion with God.

2. They are not Christians who do not hold communion with God in their ordinary employments. If you do not hold conscious communion with God in your ordinary business, it is because it is not performed with a spirit of devotion. If not performed in a spirit of devotion, it is sin. But if your ordinary employments are sin, then certainly you have no religion, unless a man can be truly religious, and yet ordinarily a servant of the Devil.

3. They are certainly not in a sanctified state who cannot attend to the ordinary and lawful business of life, without being drawn away from God.

4. That is unlawful which cannot be done in a spirit of devotion. If you feel the incongruity of performing it ,as an act of devotion to God, it is unlawful, yourself being judge.

5. That is unlawful which is not so done; i.e. whatever the act may be in itself, if it is not actually performed as an act of devotion to God, it is sin. Hence "the plowing of the wicked is sin." Eating and drinking, and the most common acts of life, if not done in a spirit of devotion, are sin.

6. Any thing not right or wrong in itself, may be either right or wrong, as it is or is not done in a spirit of devotion. Hence:

7. A selfish mind may condemn a sanctified mind for what is no sin in that particular individual; for the selfish man might naturally enough suppose the other to be actuated by the same motives by which he knows himself to be actuated.

So, again, a sanctified mind might give credit to a selfish mind where in is not due, taking it for granted that when the act is right the motive is right. So the sinner may sin in copying the example of a Christian--I mean the example of the Christian when he does not sin--Christian example may influence him to go to meeting, but still, if his motives are not right, it is sin.

8. Sinners may, and often do give themselves credit for outwardly imitating the example of Christians, when, in reality, the very thing for which they give themselves credit is among their greatest sins.

9. There is no peace of mind but in a state of devotion. No other state of mind is reasonable. In no other state will the powers of the mind harmonize. In any other state than that of devotion to God, there is an inward struggle, and mutiny, and strife in the mind itself. The conscience upbraids the heart for selfishness. Hence "there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."

10. They have "perfect peace whose minds are thus stayed upon God" in an attitude of constant devotion. It is impossible that they should not have peace; for devotion implies and includes peace.

And now, beloved, have you the spirit of true devotion? Do not reply, I hope so; for nothing but consciousness should satisfy you for a moment. If you are devoted to God, you are conscious of it; and if you are not conscious of being devoted to God, it is because you are not so devoted. "Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap; for he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, and he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."




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Professor Finney's Letter
of February 13, 1839

from "The Oberlin Evangelist" Publication of Oberlin College

Public Domain Text
Reformatted by Katie Stewart

TO THE CONVERTS OF THE GREAT REVIVALS
THAT HAVE PREVAILED IN THE UNITED STATES
WITHIN THE FEW LAST YEARS.

Beloved:

I closed my last letter by adverting to the fact that several professedly religious periodicals have so referred to what I had said in regard to your being "a disgrace to religion" as virtually to represent me as denying the reality, genuineness and power of those glorious revivals in which you were converted. I denied having said anything in that connection to that effect. But I did assert in my lecture and reassert in my last letter that I believed many of you were by your lives a disgrace to the religion of Christ. Now, beloved, I said not this nor do I now say it to bring a railing accusation against you, but for the purpose of preparing the way to put some questions to you conscience, with the design to turn your eyes fully upon your own life and spirit as exhibited before the world.

And here let me say that when you receive this number I desire each of you to consider this letter as directed to you individually, as a private letter to you, although communicated through this public channel.

I will write upon my knees, and I beg you to read it upon your knees. And when you have read it as written to yourself and received, as I conjure you to do as a private communication to you from me, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I entreat you to hand it to all your Christian friends in your neighborhood and within your reach, beseeching them to receive it and consider it as a private letter to them, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hereafter, should the providence of God permit, I may more particularly address different classes of individuals than I can in this letter. I intend to address fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, children, ministers, church officers, editors of religious papers, young men and young women, as so many distinct classes of individuals to whom particular truths may be applicable. In this I address you without reference to your age or sex or station or calling, simply as a professor of the religion of Jesus Christ.

I have said that I fear and believe that many of you, at least, are a disgrace to the religion you profess. By this I mean that instead of fairly and truly representing the religion of Christ in your life and spirit, you and many respects grossly misrepresent it. Do not hear suffer your temper to rise and turn upon me and say "Physician, heal thyself," I might, to be sure, confess my own sins; but my business now as "an ambassador of Jesus Christ" is with your own conscience.

And now, dearly beloved, bear with me while I put the questions home to you, as by name.

Are not your life and spirit and habits a miserable misrepresentation of the religion you profess?

You are a professor of the religion of Jesus Christ. Your profession of religion has placed you on high, as "a city that cannot be hid." You are not hid. The eyes of God, of Christians, of the world, of hell are upon you.

And now, precious soul, do you sincerely believe that you feel and act and live and do as the Lord Jesus Christ would under similar circumstances?

Are those around you forced by your life and spirit to recognize the lineaments divine of the character of Christ in you?

Would those that know nothing of Christ be able to catch and understand the true spirit and meaning of the religion of Jesus by an acquaintance with you?

Would they obtain from your life and example such an idea of the nature, design and tendency of the gospel as would lead them to value it, to understand its necessity and importance?

Are your spirit and temper and conversation so unearthly, so heavenly, so divine, so much like Christ, as fairly to represent Him? Or do you miss represent Him?

Is not the temper that you manifest, the life that you lead, your conversation, your pursuits-- are not all these in many respects the very opposite and contrast of the spirit of the religion of Christ?

My beloved brother, sister, father, mother, whoever you are, remember that while you read these questions God's eye is pouring its searching blaze into your inmost soul.

What is your temper in your family, among your friends, in your private life, in your domestic relations and in your public walks?

Is your conversation in heaven or is it "earthly, sensual, devilish"?

What is the testimony of your closet? Can it bear witness to your sighs and groans and tears over the wickedness and desolations of the world?

Are men by beholding your good works constrained to "glorify your Father who is in heaven"? Or is the name of God blasphemed on account of your earthly and unchristian life and spirit?

Can those that remain unconverted in the place where you live bear witness that a great and divine change was wrought in you by the Spirit of God?

I beseech you in the name of Christ to inquire, are your impenitent acquaintances constrained to confess that that must have been a work of God that could have wrought so great a change in you, as they daily witness?

Do you think that the interests of religion are really advanced by your life and that you are continually making an impression in favor of holiness on those around you?

Do they witness in you the "peace of God that passeth understanding"?

Do they behold in you that sweet and divine complacency in the will and ways of God that spreads a heavenly serenity and calm and sweetness over your mind, in the midst of the trials and vicissitudes to which you are subjected?

Or do they behold you vexed, anxious, careful, easily disturbed and exhibiting the spirit of the world? My dear soul, if this is so you are a horrible disgrace to religion; you are unlike Jesus. Was this the spirit that Jesus manifesed?

Let me inquire again: what are you doing for the conversion of sinners around you, and what for the conversion of the world?

Would one hundred million such Christians as you are, and living just as you live, be instrumental in converting the world?

Suppose there are a thousand million of men upon the earth and suppose that one hundred million of these were just Christians as you are, in your present state and at your present rate of usefulness; when would the world be converted?

Is the church and the world better and holier on account of your profession? And are they really benefited by your life?

If not, your profession is a liable upon the Christian religion. You are, like Peter, denying your Savior; and like Judas, you have kissed but to betray Him.

Now, beloved, I will not take it upon me to decide these questions that I have put to you on my knees and in the spirit of love. Will you be honest and, on your knees, spread out this letter to God your Maker and Christ your Savior? Will you not upon your knees read over these questions, one by one, and ask God to show you the real state of your life as it relates to each of them?

And here, beloved, I leave you for the present; and may the Savior aid you and make you honest in meeting cordially and answering honestly these questions. You must be searched and humbled and broken down in heart before you can be built up and made strong in Christ.

Do be honest and in haste, and address yourself to the work of self-examination without delay. I beg of you to prepare yourself to receive the consolations of the gospel of Christ, for my soul is panting to spread them out before you.
 
 

Providence permitting, you may expect to hear from me again soon.
 

C. G. FINNEY
A Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ




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True and False Religion
Lecture IV
February 13, 1839

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Gal. 5:1: "Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."

The observances of the ceremonial law were designedly a typical representation of the gospel. The Jews had misunderstood them, and supposed that their observance was the ground of justification and acceptance with God. After the introduction of Christianity, many of the Christian Jews were exceedingly zealous for their observance, and for uniting the ceremonial dispensation with Christianity. On the contrary, Paul, "the great Apostle of the Gentiles," insisted upon justification by faith alone, entirely irrespective of any legal observances and conditions whatever. There were a set of teachers in the early days of Christianity who were called Judaizers, from the fact, that they insisted upon uniting legal observances with Christianity, as a ground of justification. Soon after the establishment of the Galatian Churches, by St. Paul, these Judaizers succeeded in introducing this corruption into the Christian Churches. To rebuke this error, and overthrow it, was the design of this epistle. The yoke and bondage spoken of in the text, was the yoke of legal observances. The liberty here mentioned is the liberty of love--of justification--and of sanctification, by faith alone.

In discussing this subject, I design to show,

I. What it is to make a man a slave.

II. What it is to be a slave.

III. What true liberty is.

IV. That the religion of many persons is mere slavery.

V. That true religion is genuine liberty.


I. I am to show what it is to make a man a SLAVE.

To enslave a man is to treat a person as a thing--to set aside moral agency; and to treat a moral agent as a mere piece of property.

II. I am to show, what it is to be a SLAVE.

It is not to be in a state of involuntary servitude, for, strictly speaking, such a state is impossible. The slaves in the Southern States are not, strictly speaking, in a state of involuntary servitude. Upon the whole, they choose to serve their masters, rather than do worse. A man cannot act against his will, but his will may be influenced by considerations that set aside his liberty. To be a slave, is to be under the necessity of choosing between two evils. Thus the slaves in the Southern States prefer being as they are, to being in a worse condition--to being imprisoned or whipped for attempting to escape. But plainly, this is a choice between two evils, neither of which, if left to themselves would they choose. So a wicked man may choose to obey human laws, rather than suffer the consequences of disobedience; still he may abhor the laws, and feel himself shut up to the necessity of choosing between two evils. So a wife who does not love her husband, may choose, upon the whole, to live with him, rather than break up her family--lose her character--and subject herself to poverty and reproach. And yet, if she does not love her husband, she will consider living with him, merely as the least of two calamities. She feels shut up to the necessity of choosing between two courses, neither of which is agreeable to her. All that can be said, is that she chooses that course which, upon the whole, is the least disagreeable.

To be obliged to choose against our feelings and inclinations--to be shut up to the necessity of pursuing a course of life not chosen for its own sake, but as the least of two evils--is the very essence of slavery.

III. I am to show what true liberty is.

A man who obeys wholesome laws, from love to virtue and good order, is free in the highest sense; but when he obeys law from restraint, not because he loves virtue, but from fear of punishment, he is a slave. Here it is plain that his choice of obedience is, by him, considered as a choice of two evils, and not that course of conduct which he prefers for its own sake.
IV. The Religion of many persons is mere Slavery.
Thus, what they call their religious duties--their prayers--reading the scriptures, &c. are hurried over, or for slight causes wholly omitted. While that which constitutes their main business, commands their time, and thoughts, and hearts.
In short, it is plain that their religion, instead of being their happiness, as something chosen for its own sake, and pursued on its own account, is their misery, as the least of two evils. Instead of making them happy, enough of it would be hell.
V. I am to show, that true religion is genuine liberty. REMARKS.

1. From what has been said, it is manifest, that many professors of religion, in reality, regard God as a great slaveholder. I do not mean that they would say this in words. Nor that they understand that they do regard him in this light. The reason is, that they do not understand themselves to be slaves. If they realized what slavery is, and that they themselves have the spirit of slaves, and are, in their religion, all that is meant by being slaves, they would then be shocked with the irresistible inference that they do regard God as a Slaveholder.

2. What an abomination such a religion must be in the sight of God. Instead of seeing his professed children engaged, heart and soul, in his service--finding it the essence of true liberty, and their supreme joy--he beholds them groaning under it, as a severe burden, submitted to only to escape his frown.

3. You see, in this discourse, the true distinction between the religion of law, and that of the gospel. The religion of many professors seems to set as painfully on them, as a straitjacket. It is evidently not their natural element. It is the bondage of law, and not the religion of peace.

4. Many express indignation against Southern slavery, as they may well do, but who are slaves themselves. They know full well, that if they would be honest with themselves, their religion is to them a yoke of bondage. They are afraid of death--afraid of the judgment--afraid of God.

They submit to religion as the only method of escaping "the wrath to come." But yet, let it be known to them, that there is no hell--no solemn judgment--that men will universally be saved, do what they will, and they will feel relieved of a weighty burden. They will feel rid of the responsibilities of moral agents, and cast off their religion as of no consequence.

5. This slavery is utterly inexcusable, and consists in the perverse state of the heart.

6. Such religion is worse than no religion.

(1) It is not any more safe, than no religion.

(2) It is more hypocritical than none.

(3) It confirms self-righteousness.

(4) It begets, and perpetuates a delusion in the mind.

(5) It ruins the soul of the professor, and is a stumbling block to others. What is a greater stumbling block, for example, than for an impenitent husband to see his wife possessing this painful, legal religion? Instead of observing her happy, humble, sweet, heavenly minded, and peaceful, like an angel, he perceives that her religion makes her complaining, uneasy, and irritable; in short, that it is the lashings of conscience, by which she is actuated, and not the constant flow, of the deep feelings of her heart.

(6) This kind of religion is more dishonorable to God than none. It is really the contrast of true religion. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against which there is no law." Now the religion of which I have been speaking, is the very opposite of all this. To be sure, a man who is openly irreligious, dishonors God. But a man who professes to be God's representative--to exhibit God's spirit--and to be the reflection of his image; and then go about the duties of religion, as a task to be submitted to, instead of pouring out the overflowings of His benevolence--to unclench His hard hand, at the stern biddings of conscience--is to publish as gross a libel upon the character of God, and the religion of the gospel, as is possible.

(7) It is worse than none, inasmuch as it prevents conviction, and true conversion. Persons in this state suppose themselves to be truly religious, and seem not to dream that this is the very opposite of true religion.

Now, while under this delusion, it is vain to expect their eyes to be opened, and to anticipate a real and thorough conversion to God.

7. All who have left their first love, are again entangled in the yoke of bondage. If any of you have known what it was to love God with all your heart, you have known what it was to be free. You know, by your own consciousness, that your religion was then the essence of true liberty. But if you have laid aside your love, no matter by what other principles you are actuated, you are "entangled again in the yoke of bondage." Your religion has ceased to be liberty, and you have become a slave.--Now I ask you, "Where is the blessedness" you once spoke of? Have you that great peace that they possess who love the law of God? Does the peace of God rule in your hearts? Is Christ's joy fulfilled in you? Or are you lashed along by your conscience, actuated by hope and fear, and any, and every other principle than love?

And now, beloved, I ask you, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, whether you have the religion of the gospel. I have, in this discourse, endeavored to set before you, in as simple a form as is possible, the grand distinction between true saints and hypocrites. To which of these classes do you belong? Remember the eye of God is upon you. "Be ye not deceived, for God is not mocked." "If the Son hath made you free, then are ye free indeed." And I exhort you in the words of the text, "Stand fast therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." But, on the other hand, if the Holy Ghost sees you with the chains of slavery upon your soul, driven on by conscience, as by a slave-holder, working out your painful religion, lest you should lose your soul, I beseech you, in the name of Christ, get up out of this bondage--lay aside these chains--"loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, 0 captive daughter of Zion,"--lay aside this legal yoke, and come forth from slavery, and death, that Christ may give you liberty and life.




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The Law of God-1
Lectures V
February 27 & March 13, 1839

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College

LECTURE V.

Text.--Matt. 22:36-40: "Master, which is the great commandment, in the law? Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law, and the prophets."

In discussing this subject, I shall show,

I. That obedience to these two commandments, comprises the whole of true Religion.

II. What constitutes true obedience.

III. Notice several mistakes into which men have fallen on this subject.


I. I am to show that obedience to these commandments comprises the whole of true religion.

Reason affirms that there is no virtue without love, and that perfect love to God and man, with its natural fruits, is the consummation, and the whole of virtue. This is also agreeable to the dictates of conscience and common sense.
II. I am to show what constitutes true obedience.

Love is the sum of the requirement. But I may, and should be asked what is the kind of love required by these commands? I shall consider:

Now, it is a voluntary state of mind that the law of God requires; i.e. it lays its claims upon the will. The will controls the conduct. And it is, therefore, of course, the love of the heart or will, that God requires.
God's well-being is certainly an infinite good in itself, and consequently, we are bound to desire it--to will it--to rejoice in it--and to will it, and rejoice in it, in proportion to its intrinsic importance. And as his well-being is certainly a matter of infinite importance, we are under infinite obligation to will it with all our hearts.
These remarks are confirmed by the Bible, by reason, by conscience, and by common sense.
Observe, that God lays great stress upon the degree of love. So that the degree is essential to the kind of love. If it be not supreme in degree, it is wholly defective and in no sense acceptable to God.
Now here the Apostle fully recognizes the principle, that mere desire for the good of others, which of course will satisfy itself with good words, instead of good deeds, is not virtue. If it were good willing, instead of good desiring, it would produce corresponding action; and unless it is good willing, there is no holiness in it.
It is a plain dictate of reason, of conscience, of common sense, and immutable justice, that we should exercise good will towards our fellowmen--that we should will their good, in proportion to its importance--that we should rejoice in their happiness, and endeavor to promote it, according to its real value in the scale of being.
To exercise complacency towards the wicked is to be as wicked as they are. But to exercise entire complacency to those that are holy, is to be ourselves holy.
Now the law of God does not require or permit us to love our neighbor with this degree of love, for that would be idolatry. But the command, "to love our neighbor as ourselves," implies,
Nor are we to neglect our own families, and the nurture and education of our children, and attend to that of others. "But if any provide not for his own, especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." --To these duties we are to attend for God. And no man or woman is required or permitted to neglect the children God has given them, under the pretense of attending to the families of others.

Nor does this law require or permit us to squander our possessions upon the intemperate, and dissolute, and improvident. Not that the absolute necessities of such persons are in no case to be relieved by us, but it is always to be done in such a manner as not to encourage, but to rebuke their evil courses.

Nor does this law require or permit us to suffer others to live by sponging out our possessions, while they themselves are not engaged in promoting the good of men.

Nor does it require or permit us to lend money to speculators, or for speculating purposes, or in any way to encourage selfishness.

Now observe that this test must always be applied to the kind of love we exercise to our fellow men, in order to understand its genuineness.--God's love is love to enemies. It was for his enemies that he gave his Son. Our love must be the same in kind--it must extend to enemies, as well as friends. And if it does not, it is partial and selfish.
III. I am to notice several mistakes into which men have fallen on this subject.
Now this cannot be true. For God lays great stress, in his law, upon the degree of love. Besides it is perfectly plain, if it be not supreme in degree that the mind loves something else more, and is consequently in a state of idolatry, instead of having any degree of holy love.
Obedience may be imperfect in respect to its constancy. An individual may obey at one time, and disobey at another. But I cannot see how an imperfect obedience, relating to one and the same act, can be possible. Imperfect OBEDIENCE! What can be meant by this but disobedient OBEDIENCE! a sinful HOLINESS!

Now to decide the character of any act, we are to bring it into the light of the law of God. If agreeable to this law, it is obedience--it is right--wholly right. If it is in any respect, different from what the law of God requires, it is disobedience--it is wrong--wholly wrong. Consequently,

I was formerly of this opinion myself; and I believe in some one of my reported lectures it is expressed. I formerly reasoned in this way; that an exercise might be put forth, in view of several motives, some of which were right, and some wrong. And that the exercise, therefore, had the complex character of the motives that produced it. But I am now persuaded that this philosophy is false. Whatever may have preceded a given exercise, that may have led the way to its being put forth, is not the question; nor does it alter the character of that exercise. For whenever the exercise is put forth, it must be in view of some one consideration, which the mind contemplates at the instant. If the reason which the mind has for the exercise be disinterested, the action is holy. If otherwise, it is sinful. By disinterested I do not mean that the mind must necessarily feel that it has no personal interest in the thing. But that the degree of self-interest that is felt should not be disproportioned to the interest which the mind takes in the matter, on account of its own intrinsic importance. In other words, if the mind's interest in it is selfish, the action or exercise, whatever it may be, is sinful. If it be not selfish, it is holy, although there may be a suitable regard to our own interest, at the moment of decision.

But that the action or affection must be either right or wrong--that when the test of God's law is applied, it must be pronounced an act of obedience or disobedience seems to me to be very plain. That it should be of such a mixed character as both to be obedience and disobedience, if the nature of God's law be considered, appears to me to be impossible. It should be understood that holiness and sin belong to the will or choice of the mind. Where the mind is under the influence of an existing sinful choice, it should be understood that this choice is sinful, because it is selfish. Now a multitude of considerations may from time to time present themselves to the mind, that may diminish the power of a wrong or sinful preference or choice. But however much the power of a selfish choice may be weakened, yet there is no virtue till the mind comes to exercise an opposite or disinterestedly benevolent choice. Now whenever the mind puts forth a holy choice, it is absurd and contradictory to say that any degree of selfishness is exercised by the mind in putting forth that choice. For selfishness is supreme love. Therefore, it is naturally impossible that selfishness should mingle with holiness. It is the same contradiction as to say that supreme self-love co-exists with supreme disinterested love. Therefore the volition cannot possibly have a mixed character; i.e. it cannot be partly selfish and partly holy. If any degree of sin can be affirmed of it--if in any way it is defective, it must be on account of the degree of its strength, and not on account of its co-existence with some degree of selfishness.

But here let it be understood that it cannot be defective in degree, and yet be holy, unless it can be holy without being agreeable to the law of God. It must be supreme in degree to have the character of holiness at all. It must be disinterested in opposition to selfish or it is wholly sinful. If, therefore, it is disinterested in kind, and supreme in degree, it is wholly a right affection. Otherwise, it is wholly wrong.

This is only another form of expressing nearly the same idea. But I aim at perspicuity; and I choose to reassert the mistake in this form, (viz.) that holiness may be real, while deficient in degree, as well as in permanency.

Now, holiness is love. To say therefore, that holiness may be deficient in degree, is the same as to say that love may be true, acceptable love to God, while it is less than supreme in degree, which is plainly contrary to both the letter and spirit of the law of God; or, in other words, it may be acceptable to God, while we love something else more, and are in fact idolaters.

Now love, to be genuine, must possess all the attributes which the law of God requires. And as God lays great stress upon its being supreme, if we are conscious that we love other things more than God, it is impossible that we should be in the exercise of any true religion.
Now that there may be emotions, and strong emotions of love to a being, or thing, to which our will is opposed, is the experience of every day. And I see not why emotions of love to God, as well as emotions of gratitude to God, may not exist, while the will is selfish, and therefore the heart entirely depraved. I know from my own experience, that such emotions can exist in an unconverted mind; and it appears to me, that herein consists the grand delusion of vast multitudes of professors of religion, as well as of those who are professedly impenitent. When some flashes of light, in regard to some of the attributes of God are witnessed--when he is exhibited in certain relations--and his feelings of compassion are thrown out before the mind, as exhibited in the death of Christ, I think I know by experience, and I see not why it is not in accordance with true philosophy, that there should be a gush of emotion, which may be, and often is taken for true religion, while the heart or will is entirely selfish. This is illustrated in the character of those who, in revivals and seasons of religious excitement, will manifest a high degree of religious emotion, while in their business operations they prove to be completely selfish.
I say co-exist. I do not mean to deny, that a mind may be selfish at one time, and benevolent at another. But I do deny, that a mind can be selfish and benevolent at one and the same time; or that any degree of holiness can exist in the mind, in the exercise of selfishness. Selfishness, as we have already seen, is the supreme love of self. It is always the supreme affection of the mind, and cannot be exercised in any one instance, in any other form than that of supreme regard to self. It is what God expressly forbids. Every exercise of it, therefore, not only implies that we love ourselves more than we love our neighbor; but as it is a violation of the law of God, it is loving ourselves more than we respect the authority of God.

To say therefore, that some degree of selfishness may co-exist with some degree of holiness, is the same absurdity, as to say that we can love ourselves supremely, and God supremely, at one and the same time.

Now this is a radical and ruinous mistake. That we should feel compassion or pity for a person in distress is natural, whatever be the state of our will. But if our love only amount[s] to desire--if it is not good willing as well as good desiring, there is not a particle of anything good in it. It must be love of the heart, or will--that which will control the conduct. Again I repeat James 2:15, 16: "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food. And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be you warmed, and filled; notwithstanding, ye give them not those things which are needful for the body, what doth it profit?"

Now there can be no doubt that multitudes are radically deceived upon this point. They mistake their kind feelings, which are merely constitutional, for that love which the law of God requires them to exercise. Hence they will be very pitiful and benevolent in word but not in deed.

I believe this to be a sad and ruinous mistake. A man's business is that in which he is engaged, or at least is supposed to be engaged, six days in seven of his whole life. It is that which mainly occupies his time, and thoughts, and energies. Now, if in this he is selfish, either in his object, or manner of performing it, it is as impossible that he should have any degree of true religion, as that he should be supremely selfish and religious at the same time.

It is supposed by many, that selfish love to God is true religion. In my lecture to Christians, published in the last volume of my Sermons, is a whole discourse, devoted expressly to the discussion of this question. As you can consult that, I will not dwell upon it here.

There are many who cannot speak peaceably of an enemy, who are nevertheless, very affectionate to their friends--who seem to have adopted the corrupt maxim of the Jews: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy," which Jesus Christ so severely reprobates. Christ insists, that, to be like God, we must "love our enemies," "do good to them that hate us," and "pray for those that despitefully use us." Here also, doubtless, many make a ruinous mistake. They have a great affection to individuals, who are friendly to them--of their own sect, or party, or way of thinking--while they exhibit and manifest any thing but love towards those that differ from them.
Whatever may be true of the mind, when separated from the body, it is certain, while it acts through a material organ, that a constant state of excitement is impossible. When the mind is strongly excited, there is of necessity, a great determination of blood to the brain. A high degree of excitement cannot long continue, certainly, without producing inflammation of the brain, and consequent insanity. And the law of God does not require any degree of emotion, or mental excitement, that is inconsistent with life and health.

Our Lord Jesus Christ does not appear to have been in a state of continual excitement. When He and His disciples, had been in a great excitement, for a time, they would turn aside, "and rest awhile."

Who, that has ever philosophized on this subject, does not know that the high degree of excitement which is sometimes witnessed in revivals of religion, must necessarily be short, or that the people must become deranged. It seems sometimes to be indispensable, that a high degree of excitement should prevail for a time, to arrest public and individual attention, and to draw people off from other pursuits, to attend to the concerns of their souls. But if any suppose that this high degree of excitement is either necessary, or desirable, or possible, to be long continued, they have not well considered the matter.

And here is one grand mistake of the Church. They have supposed that the revival consists mostly in this state of excited emotion, rather than in conformity of the human will to the will of God. --Hence, when the reasons for much excitement have ceased, and the public mind begins to grow more calm, they begin immediately to say, that the revival is on the decline; when, in fact, with much less excited emotion, there may be vastly more real religion in the community.

Excitement is often important and indispensable. But the vigorous actings of the will are infinitely more important. And this state of mind may exist in the absence of highly excited emotions.

Now holiness implies no such thing. The law of God requires supreme love of the heart. By this is meant, that the mind's supreme preference should be of God--that God should be the great object of its supreme love, and delight. But this state of mind is perfectly consistent with our engaging in any of the necessary business of life-- giving to that business that attention--and exercising about it all those affections and emotions, which its nature and importance demand.

If a man love God supremely, and engage in any business, for the promotion of his glory, if his eye be single, his affections and conduct are entirely holy, when necessarily engaged in the right transaction of his business, although, for the time being, neither his thoughts, or affections are upon God.

Just so a man who is supremely devoted to his family may be acting consistently with his supreme affection, and rendering them the most important and perfect service, while he does not think of them at all. As I have endeavored to show, in my lecture on the text, "Make to yourselves a new heart, and a new spirit," I consider the moral heart to be the mind's supreme preference. As I there stated, the natural, or fleshly heart, is the seat of animal life, and propels the blood through all the physical system. Now there is a striking analogy between this and the moral heart. And the analogy consists in this, that as the natural heart, by its pulsations, diffuses life through the physical system; so the moral heart, or the supreme governing preference of the mind, is that which gives life, and character to man's moral actions; (e.g.) suppose that I am engaged in teaching Mathematics. In this, the supreme desire of my mind is to glorify God, in this particular calling. Now in demonstrating some of its intricate propositions I am obliged, for hours together, to give the entire attention of my mind to that object. Now, while my mind is thus intensely employed in this particular business, it is impossible that I should have any thoughts directly about God, or should exercise any direct affections, or emotions, or volitions towards Him. Yet if, in this particular calling, all selfishness is excluded, and my supreme design is to glorify God, my mind is in a sanctified state, even though, for the time being, I do not think of God.

It should be understood, that while the supreme preference of the mind has such efficiency, as to exclude all selfishness, and to call forth just that strength of volition, thought, affection, and emotion, that is requisite to the right discharge of any duty, to which the mind may be called, the heart is in a sanctified state. By a suitable degree of thought, and feeling, to the right discharge of duty, I mean just that intensity of thought, and energy of action, that the nature and importance of the particular duty to which, for the time being, I am called, demand.

In this statement, I take it for granted, that the brain, together with all the circumstances of the constitution are such, that the requisite amount of thought, feeling, &c. are possible. If the constitution, physical, or mental, be in such a state of exhaustion as to be unable to put forth that amount of exertion which the nature of the subject might otherwise demand, even in this case, the languid efforts, though far below the importance of the subject, would be all that the law of God requires. --Whoever, therefore, supposes that a state of entire sanctification, implies a state of entire abstraction of mind, from everything but God, labors under a grievous mistake. Such a state of mind is as inconsistent with duty, as it is impossible, while we are in the flesh.

Now, this is neither consistent with duty, nor possible. Every particular duty to which we are called, does not demand the same degree of mental action. Nor, as I have already said, is the brain, the physical organ through which the mind acts, capable of sustaining the same degree of mental affections. If, in performing any work for God, the affections be as high as the nature of the particular subject requires in order to its right performance, and in every case where the action of the mind is equal in strength to the present capacity of the brain, or physical organ through which the mind acts, it is all that the law of God requires. Here it should be distinctly remembered, that the holiness of the mind, when some kind of business, or labor for God is the object of the mind's attention, does not consist, so much in the strength of those particular affections, which may be more or less energetic, as the state of the brain may admit, or the nature of the subject may require. But it does consist in the supreme preference of the mind--in that state of supreme devotedness to God, that has called the mind to the performance of this particular work, and for this particular reason, (i.e.) for the glory of God.
But this is absurd. It is neither requisite, nor possible. All volitions do not need the same strength. They cannot have equal strength, because they are not produced by equally powerful reasons.

Should a man put forth as strong a volition to pick up an apple, as to extinguish the flames of a burning house? Should a mother, watching over her sleeping nursling when all is quiet and secure, put forth as powerful volitions, as might be requisite to snatch it from the devouring flames? Now, suppose that she was equally devoted to God, in watching her sleeping babe, and in rescuing it from the jaws of death. Her holiness would not consist in the fact that she exercised equally strong volitions, in both cases; but, that in both cases, the volition was equal to the accomplishment of the thing required to be done. So that persons may be entirely holy, and yet continually varying in the strength of their affections, according to their circumstances--the state of their physical system--and the business in which they are engaged.

This is so far from true, that every degree of rest and languor, which the nature of man requires, is consistent with a state of entire sanctification.
As I have already said, some seem to suppose, that partial sanctification relates, as well to the degree of holy affection, as to its constancy. I trust I have already said enough to show, that partial sanctification cannot relate to the degree of holy love; but that love must be supreme, in degree, to be holiness at all. And here let me remind you again, that all holy affections, thoughts, and volitions, have not necessarily God for their direct object, but may be employed about other things, and are entirely holy, when the design of the mind, in engaging in these callings, and pursuits, is supremely to glorify God. You will here understand, also, that by the constancy of holy affections, is not meant, as I have just said that they should have God for their immediate object, or that it is an interruption of obedience for the mind to think, and act, and feel upon any subject to which duty calls it.

By partial sanctification, I mean that state of mind, in which, it sometimes acts selfishly, and at other times benevolently.

No such thing is implied, for God's holiness is infinite. For us to be holy as God, is not to be as holy as he is in degree, but to have as single an eye as he has.

Nor does entire sanctification imply the same strength of holy affections, that Adam may have had before the fall--before his powers were debilitated by sin.

Nor does it imply that we exercise the same strength, or consistency of holy affection, that we might have done had we never sinned. If we love him with what strength we have, be it more or less, however debilitated our powers may be, it is all that the law of God requires.

Nor does it imply, that we love him as much as we should, were we not so ignorant, or had we as much knowledge of Him as we might have had, had we improved our time, and opportunities of gaining information. The law of God requires, nothing more than the right use of our powers, as they are, without respect to whatever might, and would have been, had we never sinned.

A great portion of the temptations to which the mind is subject, consists in the excited state of the susceptibilities of the body and mind, that are purely constitutional. All the susceptibilities of our nature, Christ must have had, or he could not have been "tempted in all points like as we are." It was the excitement of Adam's constitutional appetites and susceptibilities, that led him to sin. But his sin consisted not, either in the existence of these susceptibilities and appetites, or in their being excited, but in consenting to gratify them in a prohibited manner. If our constitutional susceptibilities were annihilated, our activity would cease. So that if anyone supposes, that to be sanctified "wholly, body, soul and spirit," implies the extinction of any appetite, or susceptibility that is purely constitutional, he is deceived. A state of sanctification consists in subordinating all these to the will of God, and not in their annihilation.
If, by this, they mean a war with our selfishness, they are right. But if they mean that our war with the world, the flesh and the devil, will ever cease in this life, they are mistaken.
I suppose that saints will continue to grow in grace to all eternity, and in the knowledge of God. But this does not imply, that they are not entirely holy, when they enter heaven, or before.
Now I suppose this state of voluntary exclusion from human society, to be utterly inconsistent with any degree of holiness, and a manifest violation of the law of love to our neighbor.
Now this is as far as possible from being true. It was insisted, and positively believed, by the Jews, that Jesus Christ was possessed of a wicked, instead of a holy spirit. Such were their notions of holiness, that they no doubt supposed him to be actuated by any other than the Spirit of God. They especially supposed so on account of his opposition to the current orthodoxy, and the ungodliness of the religious teachers of the day. Now, who does not see, that when the Church is in a great measure conformed to the world that a spirit of holiness in any man, would certainly lead him to aim the sharpest rebukes, at the spirit and life of those in this state, whether in high or low places. And who does not see that this would naturally result in his being accused of possessing a wicked spirit?
Nothing is farther from the truth than this. It is said of Xavier, whom perhaps few holier men have ever lived, that "he was so cheerful as often to be accused of being gay." Cheerfulness is certainly the result of holy affections. And sanctification no more implies moroseness in this world than it does in heaven.
Now this idea arises out of the very obscure notions, that people have with regard to what constitutes entire sanctification. They seem to suppose, that in sanctification, the Holy Spirit changes the nature, so that men remain holy without any further influence from the Spirit of Christ. Whereas, a state of entire and permanent sanctification is nothing else, than a state of entire and perpetual dependence on Christ, and on the Holy Spirit. It is the state in which the mind throws itself entirely upon the supporting grace of Christ.
REMARKS.

1. From what has been said, you can see the error of those who suppose, we are incompetent witnesses of our own sanctification.

It is true that our testimony may not be satisfactory to others. But still it is true, that so far as we are regarded as honest men, our testimony should be as satisfactory upon this, as upon any other subject. It is a point upon which, we have the testimony of our own consciousness, which is the highest kind of evidence. And we are just as competent witnesses, to testify to our entire sanctification, as that we have any religion at all.

But it is objected, that we may be deceived. True: but is this any good reason why a man should not be a competent witness to that of which he has the testimony of his own consciousness?

But it is said, that many profess sanctification, who are manifestly deceived. Therefore, it is a suspicious circumstance, not to say ridiculous, for a person to profess sanctification. Now this is the very reason urged, by Unitarians, against all spiritual religion. They say, that men may be, and many manifestly are, deceived; and therefore it is ridiculous for men, to profess spiritual regeneration.

Again, it is objected that it is dangerous to preach the doctrine of holiness, because it may lead to deception--that many may, and will think themselves sanctified, when they are not, and will consequently be puffed up with pride, and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Now, who does not know that this is the very objection to insisting upon spiritual religion at all? And the argument is just as forcible, against our having any knowledge of our being regenerated, as against our knowing that we are entirely sanctified.

2. I said that religion is always a matter of consciousness. This must be true, if religion consists in supreme love to God. If we are not conscious of the supreme affection of the mind, of what are we conscious? And here let me guard you against a mistake. Do not suppose that I mean by this, that every thought, volition, and feeling has God for its direct object, and is an act of supreme conscious love to God. A man may be engaged in transacting some business for God, that may require, for the time being, his whole attention. In this state of mind he cannot be conscious, all the while, that God is the direct object of thought, and affection, for this is not the fact. But he may, all the while, be conscious that he is doing this for God. And that it is the supreme preference of his mind for God, that has engaged him in his present business.

3. True religion does not abrogate the law of God, but fulfills it.

Hence Paul declares, (Rom. 8:4) "That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

Here let me remark, that it is a strange infatuated dream, that persons in a sanctified state, are under no obligation to obey the moral law. If they are under no such obligation, then obedience is not virtue. And it is the aggregate of all that is absurd and contradictory; to say that a man is entirely holy, and yet under no obligation to obey law. What is law, but a rule of action; and what is holiness, but conformity to this rule; and what is sin, but a violation of it? Now if the rule is abrogated, then there is neither holiness, nor sin in men, any more than there is in brutes.

It is true, that a person, in a sanctified state, does not obey the law, through fear of the penalty. Nor does he love God, simply because God commands it; but grace gives him such an acquaintance with God, and Christ, as to produce the very spirit of the law, (i.e.) perfect conformity of heart to the law. The very love which the law requires is thus begotten in the mind. Hence the Apostle says, "Do we make void the law through faith? God forbid, yea, we establish the law."

I design to continue this subject in my next lecture, and shall then show more particularly, that the law of God can never be repealed, or altered.
 
 

LECTURE VI.

March 13, 1839

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THE LAW OF GOD--No. 2

Text.--Matt. 22:39: "And the second (commandment) is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

In continuing the discussion of this subject, I design to show:

I. The real spirit and meaning of this commandment.

II. Its tendency, and the natural results of perfect and universal obedience.

III. The tendency and natural results of universal disobedience.

IV. That it is the universal and unalterable rule of right.

V. Wherein it differs from human laws.

VI. That every violation of this rule is fraud and injustice.

VII. That the public, and to a great extent, the private conscience is formed on the principles of commercial justice.

VIII. That the transaction of business upon principles of commercial justice merely, is a violation of the law--rebellion against God--and in a professor of religion, is real apostasy.

IX. That restitution must be made, whenever restitution is practicable, in all cases where this law is violated, or there is no forgiveness.


I. I am to show the real spirit and meaning of this commandment.

Now the law of God evidently takes all this for granted; and that "God hath made of one blood all nations of men, to dwell on all the face of the earth."
II. I am to show the tendency, and natural effect of universal obedience to this law.
So with the American, and British and Foreign Bible Societies. Suppose them to vie with each other, in furnishing the world with Bibles, at the lowest possible rate. Now, their object being the same, each would rejoice to be outdone by the other. Thus the competition would be holy, and not selfish. And instead of engendering every infernal passion, it would increase "that love which is the bond of perfectness."

It is easy to see, that perfect obedience to this law, would create a perfect state of society; and for any community to live together, in conformity to this principle, would be heaven itself.

III. I am to show the tendency, and natural results of disobedience. IV. I am to show, that it is the universal and unalterable rule of right.

Because it is founded in the nature and relations of moral beings.

It is universal, because it is entirely suited to the nature of moral beings, in whatever world they may exist.

It is unalterable, because the nature of moral beings is unalterable. And as their nature is unalterable, so are their relations, of course. While these natures and relations exist, even God himself has no right to abrogate this law. He has created these natures, and established these relations; and while they exist, this law must exist, of course.

And here let me say, that any system of religion--any pretended revelation--any scheme of doctrine, that sets aside, repeals, or alters this law, is certainly from hell. No proof can sustain the claims of such a book, or scheme of doctrine, to be a revelation from God.

V. I am to show, wherein it differs from human laws.

And let me begin by saying, that it is one of the first principles of common law, that whatever is contrary to the law of God is not law, (i.e.) is not obligatory upon men. So that the difference between human laws, and the law of God, is not that they are contrary, the one to the other, for, properly speaking, any human enactment, that is contrary to the law of God, is, after all, not law.

The difference lies in the fact, that human laws do not require enough. Their requirements are good, so far as they go, and should be strictly obeyed. But as they fall short of the requirements of God's law, they may be strictly obeyed, without one particle of virtue, or holiness. But to be more particular, I remark,

But, on the other hand, perfect and universal obedience to the law of God, as we have seen, would secure the greatest amount of individual, and public happiness.
VI. I am to show, that every violation of this rule is fraud, and injustice.
Every violation of this law is injustice, fraud, and dishonesty towards God, and toward every individual in the universe. It is setting aside the rights, and authority of God, and trampling upon the rights of our neighbor. And as all mankind are one family, and have one common interest, to defraud one, is to injure the whole.
VII. I am to show, that the public, and private conscience, is formed on the principles of commercial justice.

By the principles of commercial justice, I mean mere human laws, in relation to human dealings.

In proof of this position, I observe, that men generally satisfy themselves with acting legally, and at most equitably. But the courts, both of law and equity, lay down rules for the government of human conduct, as we have seen, that fall entirely short of the law of God.

By the public and individual conscience being formed on the principles of commercial justice, I do not mean that men are always satisfied, with mere obedience to human laws, for this is far from being true; and many a man feels, in his conscience, what an eIder in a Presbyterian church once said to me, "that he was avoiding the payment of his debts, by the public sale of his property, through the finesse of the law."

The truth is, that men often feel as if they were guilty, in the sight of God, when they have acted in strict conformity with human laws. Nevertheless, it is true, to an astonishing, and alarming extent, that men generally, and even professors of religion, content themselves with transacting business in conformity with the principles of human laws.

VIII. I am to show, that the transaction of business upon principles of commercial justice merely, is a violation of this law--rebellion against God--and in a professor of religion is real apostasy.

Now if casting off God's authority be rebellion in any individual, as it really is; in a professor of religion it must be outrageous apostacy.(sic.)

Obedience to God's law is the rejection of all selfishness, and the practical adoption of the principle of universal benevolence. For any individual, therefore, to engage in selfish business, is a total departure from God. And it includes in it, all that really constitutes apostacy.(sic.)

And what is still worse, it adds shameless hypocrisy to apostasy; for while men really apostatize in heart, instead of openly avowing, as in all honesty they ought to do, their rejection of the law of God, they remain in the Church, and keep up a hypocritical show of obedience.

IX. I am to show, that restitution must be made in all practicable cases where this law has been violated, or there is no forgiveness.

This is evident from the fact, that without restitution there can be no repentance. Certainly, in no proper sense, can a man be said to repent, who has defrauded his neighbor, and refuses to make him the satisfaction that is in his power. But without repentance, God has no right to forgive. What would you say, if the governor should forgive a man who had stolen your money, while he refused to restore it. He has no right to do this; nor has God any right to forgive fraud, and injustice, without repentance and restitution. It would, therefore, dishonor God, and ruin the universe, should he connive at your sins, and not hold you bound to restore your ill-gotten gains.

Now I beseech you to remember, that the restitution demanded of you, is not merely where you have defrauded men at common law, but in every case, so far as you can remember where you have not acted agreeably to the law of God. Wherever you have not consulted your neighbor's interest, equally with your own, in your business transactions, you have been guilty of fraud. God's law has pronounced that transaction dishonest, and unjust, and has aimed its eternal thunders at your head.

REMARKS.

1. The Church can compel the world to transact business upon the principles of the law of God. The Church members often excuse themselves, in the transaction of their worldly business, by saying, that they cannot compete with worldly men, without dealing upon the same principles with them. To this I answer,

(1) That if this were true, then worldly business cannot be engaged in, by men, without absolute ruin to their souls.

(2) But this is not true. It is as far from the truth as possible. Now suppose that professors of religion were universally to transact their business upon the principles of the law of God--consulting, in every instance, the real good of those with whom they deal, as much as they do their own. This would immediately result, in their doing the entire business of the world, or in compelling worldly men to follow their example; for who would trade with a selfish man, who would consult only his own interest, while those were at hand, with whom he might trade with the assurance, that he should not be over-reached, but that the business would be transacted upon principles of entire benevolence?

2. Almost any individual of any calling, may compel those in the same business to conduct their affairs upon the principles of God's law. Let him but adopt this principle, in his own dealings, and he would soon force others to come to the same standard, or drive them to bankruptcy, through loss of business.

3. You can see the desert(sic.) of every act of selfishness--that it includes in it the entire rejection of the authority of God--and a trampling upon the rights of the universe. In this there is certainly infinite guilt, and the desert(sic.) of eternal punishment.

4. You see what is the duty of God in relation to selfishness--that as the Father, and Supreme Executive Magistrate of the Universe, he is bound to punish it in every case, with unsparing severity, where there is not repentance.

5. That the government of God is very little understood in this world. And human law, instead of the law of God, has come to be very generally regarded as the rule of right. This has blinded the world, and the Church, in regard to what real religion is. So that much passes current, among men, for true religion, that is, after all, an entire violation of the law of God. Multitudes in the Christian Church, are regarded as pious men, who are daily transacting business upon principles of entire selfishness.

6. Infidels are always fighting a shadow, and making war, not upon Christianity itself, but on something else falsely called by this name. Where can an infidel be found, who will have the hardihood to object to these two great principles of the government of God? But these constitute the whole of the Christian religion. It is then some corrupt dogma of the Church--the lives of hypocrites--and a spurious representation of the Christian religion, against which they array themselves. But let them march up and object anything, if they can, to the Christian religion, as it is taught in the Bible; and to the government of God, as it is embodied in these two precepts.

7. You see why there is so little conviction, among men, both in and out of the Church. It is because they judge themselves by a false standard. If they live in conformity with human laws, and keep up the morality of public sentiment, they feel in a great measure secure. But be assured that God will judge you by another standard.

8. In the light of this law, how perfectly obvious is it, that slavery is from hell. Is it possible, that we are to be told, that slavery is a divine institution? What! Such a barefaced, shameless, and palpable violation of the law of God authorized by God himself? And even religious teachers, gravely contending that the Bible sanctions this hell-begotten system ?


"0 shame, where is thy blush?"

What! make a man a slave-- set aside his moral agency-- treat him as a mere piece of property--

"Chain him-- and task him,

And exact his sweat, with stripes

That Mercy, with a bleeding heart, weeps

When she sees inflicted on a beast;"

and then contend that this is in keeping with the law of God, which, on pain of death, requires that every man should love his neighbor as himself! This is certainly, to my mind, one of the most monstrous and ridiculous assertions ever made. It is no wonder that slaveholders are opposed to the discussion of this subject. It cannot bear the light-- it retires from the gaze, and inspection, and reprobation of the law of God, as darkness retires before the light.

9. We see the true character of those speculations in provisions, and in the necessaries of life, with which the land is becoming filled. The custom of buying up the necessaries of life, so as to control the market, and raise the price of provisions, while there is an abundance of them in the country, is a plain and manifest violation of the law of God.

Suppose there were a famine in this land, and a multitude of vessels should be freighted with flour, and sail from Europe to supply the starving population. Suppose the owners to instruct their captains to sell it for five dollars per barrel. And now, suppose certain speculators in New York should receive advices of the arrival of the fleet upon our coast--they charter a boat, and go out and purchase all the flour. And when the fleet comes in sight, the docks, and every passage in the city is thronged with starving people, with their bags, and whatever money they can command to supply their starving families. But on the fleet's coming to anchor, they are informed, that the speculator demands seventy-five dollars per barrel for the flour. In this case, no doubt, the public would set the seal of reprobation, on such an outrage. But how does this differ, in principle, from that which is becoming so common, even among professed Christians, to secure as far as possible, and so as by all means to control the market, the bread stuffs, and to a great extent, the other provisions, throughout the length and breadth of the land, and then enrich themselves, by selling them at their own prices? Is this loving their neighbor, or is it supreme and horrible selfishness?

In speaking of this speculation in provisions, I have taken it for granted, that they were not in reality scarce; but merely rendered so by speculators controlling the market. But suppose they were really scarce; suppose that a great drought, such as we have had the past summer, should extend throughout the whole land, and produce a universal scarcity of provisions. In this case, it is contrary to the law of God, for those who have them to spare, to increase their price, simply because they are scarce. I say simply because they are scarce, for cases may occur, in which the raising of them may have cost more than in ordinary seasons. I have, for many years, known one man, of whom it is said, that he has practically recognized the principle of the government of God, in his transactions upon this point. When there has been a scarcity of provisions, and of course the prices were greatly increased, he would receive no more than the common prices of articles, when there was no scarcity. If questioned, in regard to the reasons of his conduct, he would simply answer, that they cost him no more than formerly, and what his family did not want, the consumers might have at former prices.

Now the corrupt maxim of businessmen is this, that an article is worth all that it will bring in market; and they will cause it to bring in market just what the necessities of people may compel them to give. So that if the scarcity of an article will permit, they make no conscience of demanding any price for it. Now the real question should not be, what, under the circumstances, may you compel a man to give; but what did it cost, and how cheap can you afford it to him, without injuring yourself more than you will benefit him? For it should be borne in mind, that the law of love requires, that we should afford every thing as cheap as we can, instead of getting as much as we can. The requirement is, that we do all the good we can, to others, and not that we get all we can ourselves. The law of God is, sell as cheap as you can--the business maxim, as dear as you can.

But suppose it should be asked, by what rule am I to be governed, in the sale of an article, when, in the purchase of it, I gave more than it has since proved to be worth? I answer, the loss is yours. You have no right to sell it, or to expect to sell it, for more than its real value, whatever price you may have paid for it.

But here another question may arise. What is the duty of the individual who sold me the property, for so much more than it afterwards proved to be worth? I answer, that he is bound to act upon the law of love. And if, at the time of the purchase, you and he were both deceived, with regard to the real value, he has a right to receive of you no more than the real ascertained value. But if he will insist upon the wrong, and compel you to pay what you agreed to pay, or not refund what you have already paid, you are, nevertheless, bound to be governed by the law of love, in the sale, and not to ask, or receive, more than its real value.

To illustrate this, suppose that you had purchased a piece of land, under the impression that it contained a mine of gold--that it was sold to you in good faith, both you and the seller supposing that this was the matter of fact. If, afterwards, it should prove that you were deceived--that no such mine existed--and that, therefore, the land is of no more value than any other land, it were contrary to the law of God, for him to insist upon the fulfillment of this bargain--and that you should pay what, under the circumstances, you had agreed to pay.

10. You see the character of those speculations in government lands, that have become so common. The government proposes to sell their lands to those who will improve them, for one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre, designing thereby to encourage the settlement of the country. But speculators rush forth, and purchase all the most eligible locations, and raise the price, and thus retard the settlement of the country. When the laborer, who would cultivate the land, with a small amount of means, comes, he finds that, instead of being able to purchase at the government prices, he must pay ten, twenty, thirty or even one hundred dollars per acre; and that, too, when no improvement has been made by the speculator.

Now it is in vain to attempt to justify this, as some have done, by saying that those lands are really worth what the speculator demands for them. Suppose they are; what right has he to demand that price? He did not design to cultivate the land; and but for him, the laborer might have had it at the government price. Now the violation of the principles of God's law, in this case, is just as manifest, as it would be if my family were starving for a barrel of flour, and I was on the point of purchasing it for five dollars--all the money I had--and a speculator, knowing my circumstances, should forestall me, and buy the barrel, and then demand seventy-five dollars for it; and should say to me, "0 sir, it is worth that to you." True, it may be worth that, rather than that my family should starve. But I ask, what right had he to purchase it, and then make this demand?

But for all this, there are many hypocritical excuses urged. Many pretend to be making money for God. This is truly a strange manner of serving God; to rob his children to give to him--to violate the law of God--to set aside God's authority, for the sake of making money for him.

But, as a general thing, this is a mere pretense; for it is seen to be true, that, in proportion as the speculators grow rich, they increase their expenditures, until men of the greatest wealth, are among the first to complain of poverty, when called upon to give. Now they can never convince mankind, that they are honest, in pretending to be driving their speculations for God, until it is seen, as a matter of fact, that they do not increase their expenditures with the growth of their property, and lay out this money upon their lusts; but that they really appropriate it to benevolent purposes.

But if it were true, as it sometimes may be, that they really intend to appropriate money, obtained in this way, to build up the kingdom of God, still the manner of getting it can never be justified, by the law of God, and can never be acceptable in his sight. Will the end sanctify the means?

11. Much restitution is to be made by speculators, or they must go to hell. Those that have enriched themselves, by speculations that involved a violation of the law of love, must give back all their ill-gotten gains--must renounce their wealth, and render obedience to the government of God or they must be damned.

12. It is very obvious, that many persons have involved themselves in a snare, from which probably they never will escape. They plunged into a series of speculations, and at the time, no doubt, were so blinded by public sentiment, that its utter inconsistency with the law of God, was not seen; and now, when the test is applied, and the law comes to pour its light upon them, they will either hide away in darkness, and strive to conceal the true character of their conduct even from their own eyes; or, seeing it, they will "go away sorrowful, because they have great possessions," and will not make the restitution that the law of God demands.

13. In the light of this subject, you can easily judge what kinds of business are lawful. And that for any person to engage in selling articles that are injurious, is rebellion against God, and a trampling upon the rights of the universe. Such is the sale of alcohol, tobacco and narcotics of every kind, that are used as articles of luxury, or diet. Their sale for these purposes is utterly unlawful. It is no excuse, to say that people will have them, and that you may as well sell them as any body else. I beseech you to remember the words of the Savior: "It is impossible but that offences should come; but woe unto HIM through whom they come."

14. It is objected, that the adoption of this principle, in the present state of human society, is impossible. To this I reply,

(1) That it is the law of God, and must be adopted, and practiced by you, or you must be damned.

(2) It is the simplest, and most practicable rule of conduct conceivable. To a selfish mind, I grant, it may be a stumbling block; but to a truly benevolent mind, it is, in almost all cases, as plain as sun-light. In those cases where individuals do really love each other, as they love themselves--as husbands and wives, parents and children, do they find any difficulty in the application of this rule? No. And should they extend their benevolent regards to all mankind, and did all mankind recognize their relations to each other, and regard themselves as one family, this rule would be found to be of the easiest application.

15. It is objected, that its application would overturn nearly all the business transactions of the world. It would certainly revolutionize nearly all the business of the world, and produce changes in the state of society, that to most people is wholly inconceivable. As business is now transacted, the more business, the more jealousy, envy, and strife. But were all men really benevolent, they would universally vie with each other, in seeing who could accomplish the greatest good, and produce the greatest amount of human happiness.

16. I said that the government of God was very little understood, in this world. Now it is plain, that a leading object of Jesus Christ, was to put the world in possession of the true spirit and meaning of the law of God. It is astonishing to see how slow of heart, a selfish mind is, to understand the law of God, and the nature of true religion. For a mind, whose whole object is to get, and appropriate to itself all it can, it is difficult to conceive of the nature of that religion which finds its happiness in giving, instead of getting.

The preaching of Christ, but more especially his example, put his followers in possession of the idea, "that it is more blessed to give than to receive." The life of Christ was designed as an illustration of this cardinal principle, that the proper happiness of a moral agent lies in doing good--in denying self, for the benefit of others. In diffusing happiness, it finds its own happiness.

Now the apostles and early Christians, caught this same idea--preached it--carried it out in living illustration before the world--and it was soon said of them, that they had "turned the world upside down."

If I mistake not, an infidel writer has somewhere attempted to account for the rapid spread of Christianity, in the Apostles' days, by saying, that "it was the natural result of the spirit and conduct of the primitive Christians. They gave themselves up to acts of benevolence, and in laboring for the good of others." Now this is true, and it is also true, that the natural result of this would be, powerfully to influence mankind, in favor of Christianity. But how could he overlook the fact, that such a spirit and temper must be divine?

It is true, as a modern writer has said, that "the Church now, is the exact contrast of the primitive Church." Primitive Christians rushed forth, at the hazard of their lives, and millions of them sacrificed their lives without hesitation, for the salvation of the world. They were seen denying themselves, and offering themselves upon the altar of benevolence, for the salvation of those who were perishing in sin.

But for centuries, selfishness has been the most prominent feature of the church. And instead of sacrificing herself for the salvation of men, she is sacrificing the world, to gratify her own lusts.

17. It is naturally impossible that a selfish church should ever succeed in converting the world. They cannot possibly make the world understand the gospel. The light which they hold up is darkness. Their "salt has lost its savor"--their benevolence is selfishness--their religion is rebellion against God. Suppose Jesus Christ had come, as the Jews expected, as a great temporal prince--living, and reigning in mighty earthly splendor--overawing and subduing the nations--and exterminating his enemies by the sword. Could he, by any precepts whatever, have put the world in possession of the true spirit of religion? Could they have possibly received from him the idea of what constitutes obedience to the law of God? Certainly not. Nor could the Apostles, and primitive Christians, have possibly possessed the world with the right idea of religion, in any other manner, than by offering themselves up a living sacrifice for their salvation. And never can the world be converted--never can missionary enterprises succeed, until true religion is taught in the lives of its professors--until benevolence, and not selfishness, is exhibited by the church.

18. I beg of you to remember, that this law is to be the rule of judgment, by which all the secrets of your heart, and soul, and life, shall be judged. Do therefore, I beseech you, bring yourselves to the true test--examine yourselves by this rule--decide your former life, and your present character, by inspecting it in the light of this law. You have never embraced the gospel, any further than you are under the practical influence of the law of God. The gospel was designed to annihilate selfishness--to produce true obedience. If it does not produce this result in you, you are lost forever.

Now will you go down on your knees--will you open your heart before God--will you spread this discourse before him--will you be honest, in deciding upon the real character of your business transactions--of your daily life, and walk, and spirit?

Now I urge this upon you, at the conclusion of every lecture, for these truths must be to you "a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death." I beseech you, do not cover up your sins, nor try to avoid the light. It will do you no good to cavil. Truth is truth, whether you receive it or not. And I pray God that you may receive it, so that your whole body, soul, and spirit, may be sanctified through the truth, and preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.




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Glorifying God
Lecture VII
March 27, 1839

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--I Cor. 10:31: "Whether, therefore, ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

In this discussion, I design to show,

I. What is to be understood, by the glory of God.

II. How we may glorify Him.

III. To what extent, we are to apply this rule, in practice.

IV. The importance of glorifying God.

V. That whatever is short of this, is enmity against God.


I. I am to show, what is to be understood, by the glory of God.

Theologians speak of the essential, and declarative glory of God.

His essential glory is the intrinsic excellence of his natural, and moral attributes. His declarative glory is his renown, or reputation, or the estimation in which he is held, by moral beings.

It is in the latter sense, that the term is manifestly used, in the text. In the former sense, our conduct has nothing to do with the glory of God. But in the latter sense, as we shall see, it has everything to do with it.

II. I am to show how we may glorify God.

III. I am to show, to what extent, we are to apply this rule, in practice.
But if the business be in its nature lawful, yet, if it be transacted, in a selfish manner--if it be manifest to those with whom you deal, that your main object is to get, and not to communicate good--to accumulate property, and not to diffuse happiness abroad, this is exactly the reverse of glorifying God. It is a misrepresentation of his character, and religion; and there are no more effectual agents of the devil, than those professors of religion who are selfish in the transaction of their business. God's temper, and spirit is to give, give, GIVE--their spirit, and temper is to get, get, GET. This is the exact contrast of true religion.
By this, I do not mean, that we are not to regard a correct taste, in these things. God has every where, in his works, displayed a most exquisite, and infinitely refined taste; and to pay no regard to this, is to violate a fundamental law of our nature, and to misrepresent God.

But in our houses, and equipage, and furniture, we are to see to it, that we do not appear to have our hearts upon such things, and as if we sought our happiness in them; but, on the contrary, should show to the world, that we seek those things only, that are convenient, and have no fellowship with display, and useless, and worldly ornament.

There are two extremes, upon this subject, both of which are as ridiculous as they are wicked. One is to launch forth into all manner of extravagance; and the other is to discard all taste, decency, and utility, and rush back to barbarism. Now both these extremes are to be avoided by Christians. While they do not neglect the decencies and conveniences of life, they are to avoid useless display, and ornament.

Few things are more dishonorable to God, than for a Christian to load down his table, or pollute his closet, with plays and novels, with Shakespeare, Byron and Walter Scott. Are these the spirits with whom Christians are to commune? Do these promote the knowledge of God? Can a Christian make these his favorite companions, and yet make the world believe, that he considers the knowledge of God as of the greatest importance? The Bible represents the knowledge of God as the sum of all that is desirable in knowledge; and declares, that to "know God, is life eternal."

Take the following Bible declarations of the importance of true wisdom; (i.e.) of a knowledge of God, Job 28:12-28: "But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living. The depth says, It is not in me; and the sea saith, It is not with me. It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies. The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold. Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding? Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air. Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears. God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof: for he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; to make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure. When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder: then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out. And unto him he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding."

Now can a Christian believe this, and spend his time with novels? He can scarcely give a higher demonstration, that he neither believes, nor loves the Bible, than in choosing such companions for his closet. Certainly it is not paying God a very high compliment, nor attaching much value to a knowledge of him, nor making the impression upon mankind, that divine knowledge is infinitely more important than any other, for Christians to spend their time, in the light, and miscellaneous reading of the day.

IV. I am to show the importance of glorifying God.

I remark,

If, on the contrary, you exhibit disinterested love, in all your life, you will be a living illustration of the spirit of the glorious gospel, and will thus glorify God.
V. I am to show that whatever is short of this, is enmity against God.
But none are so efficient agents of the devil, as inconsistent professors of religion. They are enemies, in the camp. They are God's professed children, and it is taken for granted, that they know God, and that their testimony may be relied on; and as they are God's own witnesses, if they testify against, and misrepresent him, his cause must fail. It is more injurious than the slander of a legion of devils. It is by no means true, as some have supposed, that Satan wishes to have every body openly wicked. The testimony of one worldly professor, is more influential, in favor of Satan, than that of a host of infidels. He would, doubtless, be glad to have all men professors of religion, if they would be inconsistent enough to misrepresent, and thus betray God.

Now there is no neutral ground upon this subject. Christ has said, "he that is not with me, is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." It is impossible, that you should not in all your life, and walk, and spirit, either honor, or dishonor God. Your whole spirit, and temper, and deportment, are watched, and scrutinized, by those around you; and inferences are continually drawn, either in favor of, or against the God you profess to worship.

REMARKS.

1. You see why God is represented, in the Bible, as seeking his own glory, as a thing of the highest importance to the universe. Infidelity has objected to the idea of God's seeking his glory, as if, in this, he was proud, and jealous, and ambitious, of being esteemed. But when it is understood, that by his glory is meant his reputation, it is easy to see, that in a moral government of such an extent, and duration as his, the estimation in which the great head of the government is held, by the subjects, is of infinite importance. And should he not pursue his glory, as of the greatest good, he would not estimate things according to their real value.

This text lays down an easy rule, by which to judge of the lawfulness of any employment, in which we propose to engage. If it is business, the question is, is it such an employment as Christ would engage in, under the circumstances? Is it that kind of business, in which you can reasonably expect to represent, and honor God?

If any amusement invites us, the question is easily settled. Should anyone see me engaged in it, would it be honorable to God, and fairly represent the spirit of his religion?

2. We are not only bound to live to the glory of God, but to choose those employments, and pursue them, in that manner, which will best glorify God. We are to inquire, for what employment we are best suited--in what way we can not only do good, but do the most good! And when we have understood ourselves--our adaptedness, and calling to any employment, we are cheerfully, and with all our hearts, to engage in it, for the glory of God.

3. Herein may be seen the true point of distinction, between real saints, and hypocrites. The true Christian loves God supremely, God's honor, and glory, are of course, dearer to him, than any thing, and every thing else. He just as naturally devotes himself to the glory of God, and lives only for that end, as a man naturally pursues that in which he has supreme delight. If a man is not conscious that this is the end for which he lives--that the glory of God, is dearer to him than all things else, he certainly has not the spirit of God, and it is preposterous to call himself a Christian.

Now right over against this is the hypocrite. He professes to live for the glory of God; but yet he certainly knows, or ought to know, by his own consciousness, that if he seeks God's glory at all, it is with him a subordinate, and not a chief end. He knows full well, if he will be honest with himself, that selfishness lurks in all the religion he has. Instead of having a strong, and permanent consciousness, that he is living for God, the most that he can say is, he hopes he is thus covering up his hypocrisy.

4. From this subject, it is easy to see, how shocking and abominable, are the pretensions of many professing Christians. How many of them are engaged in employments, in which they cannot hope to glorify God, and can make no such pretension, without rendering themselves ridiculous.

5. Public sentiment seems to have restricted the obligation of this rule to ministers. They are expected to live for the glory of God. Every body feels, that a minister, in his particular employment, should aim at the glory of God. And should a minister engage in many branches of business in which laymen think it lawful for themselves to engage, it would shock common sense.

It is wonderful to see, that where selfishness does not blind them, how ready men are to form right opinions. Previously to the commencement of the Temperance Reformation, I recollect of having heard of a minister, who, by ill health, or for some other cause was prevented from preaching; and for the maintenance of his family, he established a grocery, in which he sold alcohol. This was, even then, universally reprobated. It seemed to shock the common sense of the whole community. And yet multitudes of laymen, and even Christian laymen, were engaged in the same employment, without supposing themselves to be doing anything wrong.

Now why should the operation of this rule, be thus, by public sentiment, restricted to ministers? It certainly cannot be, unless salvation is also restricted to them. Every man is as much bound to observe this rule, as a minister; and the same reasons that make it obligatory upon a minister, make it obligatory on every man. Now you would say, and say truly, that a minister was no Christian--that he could not be saved, if, in his employment, he did not aim at the glory of God--if his main object was to support his family, under the pretense of complying with the command, to provide for his own household, you would say, that he could not be saved. Now a minister may have, and is bound to have, just as much respect to the maintenance of his family, as any other man may lawfully have to the maintenance of his. But neither has any right to pursue any worldly object, or any heavenly objects whatever, as an end, other than the glory of God. Every man, who has a family, is bound to make the maintenance of his family one of the ways, and one of the means of glorifying God. But to pursue this as an end, is ruin and death.

6. Every man is bound to pursue that employment to which he is called of God, as much as a minister is.

He is bound to be as careful, and diligent, in ascertaining his duty, and mark the leadings, and providences of God, in relation to his employment for life, as a minister is; and he has no right to pursue any business, to which he is not called, by the Providence, and Spirit of God, any more than a minister has, to preach without such a call.

7. It seems sometimes as if nearly all the laymen in the Church, must go to hell. You find them driving in different directions, and pursuing almost every kind of business, and, in great multitudes of instances, without the least pretense, that they were ever called to that particular employment, by the Spirit, or Providence of God.

I, some time since, asked a lawyer, if he supposed God called him to that particular employment, and if he engaged in it from such motives, as he supposed a minister ought to engage in the work of the ministry. He frankly said, "No." "How then," I inquired, "can you be saved? Are you not bound to live for the glory of God, as much as any minister? Are you not living in the habitual neglect of known duty? Is not the whole tenor of your life selfishness, and a palpable violation of the commandment of God?" In the light of this text, he could not deny, that it was so. Now there are hundreds, and thousands of such laymen, in the Church. They know themselves to be pursuing courses of life, from such motives as they would utterly condemn, in a minister. And they would judge, and rightly judge, that he had no religion at all. Know then, assuredly, that in your employment, whatever it is, unless you have such an eye to the glory of God, as you know a minister ought to have, in his employment, you cannot be saved.

8. From this subject, you can see the great wickedness of dishonoring God, in our methods of obtaining property, under the pretense that we shall devote it to benevolent purposes. Unless we get money, in a manner which is honorable to God, it is in vain to pretend to make any amends, for the manner of getting it, by the use we make of it.

9. You see how absurd and wicked it is, to engage in any business, that is dishonorable to God, for the purpose of paying debts. Because it is dishonorable to God to be in debt, some persons will engage in employments that violate the law of love, and trample on God's commandments, for the sake of getting money to pay their debts. Now why not as well steal to pay your debts, or engage in highway robbery, or piracy? It is as absolute a violation of the law of God, to obtain property by any selfish means, as to steal, or engage in piracy.

10. Every pretended conversion, that does not result in shaping the man's business, and life, and spirit, in conformity with this precept, is a spurious conversion. Have you seen a man engaged in the selfish transaction of any business, and does he profess conversion? Now mark me, if one of the first fruits be not the reformation of his business, that man is deceived. If his business was unlawful in kind, he will renounce it altogether. If the fault was in the manner of transacting a business, lawful in its kind, he will instantly reform the manner. And it is an outrage to common sense, to call that man a Christian, the secret of whose life, and thoughts, and especially whose business transactions are not turned manifestly into the channel of glorifying God.

11. The same is true of those seasons of religious awakening, in which great multitudes profess conversion to God. If the fruits of these excitements fall short of the principle laid down in this text--if it does not break up, and reform the business transactions of selfish men, no matter how great their excitement of mind may have been--they have, after all, fallen short of true conversion--they have not yet taken the first step in religion, and do not yet understand in what it consists.

12. Since my last lecture was written, a question has been proposed to me, by a brother, an answer to which may well be given here. It is, Does the law of love, when applied to business transactions, require that a man should merely support his family, by his business, and have nothing more, or less, reserved to himself? I answer,

(1) That the support of a man's family is not to be the end at which he aims; but, as I have already said, the support of ourselves, or families, is to be regarded by us, as one of the means of glorifying God.

(2) That the support of ones-self, or family, is by no means to be the criterion, by which we are to be governed in the transaction of business, (i.e.) whatever it may cost to support ourselves, or families, is not to regulate the prices, at which we are to buy or sell. If a man should keep one cow, and under the pretense of her being the support of his family, should attempt to sell milk at two shillings per quart--this certainly would not be lawful, any more than keeping one hen, and attempting, under the pretense of supporting his family, to sell eggs for one dollar each, would be lawful. The truth is, that no man has a right to attempt to support himself, or family, in such a way as this.

So, on the other hand, if a man be engaged in an extensive business, the amount of his necessary expenditures, in the maintenance of his family, is not to be the criterion by which he is to be governed, in his established prices. But in buying, and selling, he is to have the same regard to the interest of every individual, with whom he trades, as to his own. He is to sell as low as he can, without injuring himself, more than he benefits others. And the amount of what he makes must depend upon the amount, and nature of his business.

Suppose a wholesale merchant to employ an immense capital, and perform a vast amount of business, and suppose him to supply one hundred country merchants with goods, and in this suppose him to consult the good of each, equally with his own. In this case, the aggregate of his income would be equal to the aggregate of all their income together. So that, in fact, he might become very rich, and have it in his power, to exercise great hospitality, and greatly promote benevolent objects, and still consult every man's interest, with whom he trades, equally with his own.

13. Here another question may be, and has been recently asked. It is said, if every man is bound to sell so low, as to consult every customer's interest, equally with his own, then those who have a small capital cannot live, by their business. To this I answer,

That no man has a right to live, by business, by which he cannot support himself, and transact it, upon the principle of the law of God.

I was asked, the other day, this question: Suppose a certain man, in the employment of an immense capital, should conduct his business upon the principle of the law of God; and, in consulting his customers' interests as much as his own, should undersell those of smaller capital, or sell at prices so low that they would become bankrupt, in attempting to support their families, at these prices? Now, in this case, it is said the man of great capital, would ruin the business of all the rest. To this I reply,

It is every man's duty to benefit the public as much as possible. And if one man can supply the market, at a lower rate, than others, he ought to supply it, and no others have a right to complain. Individuals, and their families, are not to be supported at the expense of public, and higher interests. If other individuals cannot afford to act upon the law of love, their business ought to cease. And they are bound to engage in some employment, in which they can conform themselves to the law of God. The very question I have been answering, is founded upon the supposition, that every man has a right to engage in any particular calling, and support his family by it, whether consistent, or inconsistent with the public good. But this is the direct reverse of the truth.

If one man, therefore, is so circumstanced, that he can supply the whole demand, in any market, more advantageously to the public, than another, he not only has a right, but is bound to do so; and the other is under obligation to retire.

Another question has been proposed, (viz.) If persons are to sell, as cheap as they can, without injuring themselves, more than they benefit those with whom they deal, would not their profits be so small as to prevent their accumulating property with which to do good? Now this is indeed a strange question. If a man is living, and conducting business, upon the principles of the law of God, or of love, he is all the time, doing good upon the largest scale possible. And can it be imagined, that he would really do more good, by overreaching his customers, for the sake of giving his property to others? Shall a man do injustice to one man, and violate the law of God, for the sake of giving to another man? As well might a man steal, to give to the poor, or support the gospel, under the pretense of doing good, as in any other respect, to violate the law of love, for the sake of acquiring property, to do good with. It should be understood, that the man who lives, and feels, and acts, and transacts business upon the principles of the law of God, is continually doing all the good in his power. He is diffusing more happiness, by far, than if he were grinding the faces of his customers one day, to give to some benevolent object the next.

It is as ridiculous, as it is wicked, for a man to violate the law of benevolence, under the pretense of having something to give away. Suppose that every man were conformed to the law of love; then every man would be continually doing all that he possibly could do, for benevolent objects. And in such a case, where would be the necessity of one man laying up money, to give to these objects? He is giving, as fast as he receives, to benevolent objects. The fact is, that, in such a case, the coffers of all benevolent institutions would immediately overflow. The ice that has so long locked up the channels of love, would be universally dissolved, and the streams of light, and life, and love, would flow on, until what are now commonly called objects of charity, and benevolence, could not be found.

14. I have often been led to inquire, in what do Christians of the present day, suppose religion to consist? It seems as though they thought it consisted in praying in their closets--reading their Bibles--attending church on the Sabbath--and occasionally giving something for the support of the institutions of religion. Now religion consists, in no one, nor in all these things together. And millions of such things would not make a particle of true religion. Religion consists in the true benevolence of the heart. Not a mere desire to do good, but a willing good--a benevolence that controls the conduct--that is, active, blessed, god-like.

15. To glorify God, is the only object for which you have any right to live, for one hour. And you can live for no other purpose, with the least reasonable hope of being saved. If this be not the end, and object of your life, I forewarn you, that your hope will perish "in the giving up of the ghost."

16. And now, beloved, let me ask you, have you ever laid your all upon the altar, and rendered yourselves, a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God?

Is it your daily prayer, and constant endeavor, to be used all up with the most divine economy for God?

Do you husband your time, your strength, your all, in such a way as to make the most of your influence for the promotion of the glory of God?

Is it really in your heart to live, and die for Him?

Are you willing--nay, are you supremely desirous, and are you conscious of this desire, to live, or die--to be sick, or well--rich, or poor, or in any other circumstances, that will make the most of you, and use you up with the greatest economy for God?

Do those with whom you sit at table, see that you eat and drink for the glory of God--that you have made yourself acquainted with dietetics, so far, at least, as to exclude whatever is injurious?

Do you prove to them, by the quantity, and quality, of your food, that you are not a creature of appetite--that you live, not to eat, but eat to live, and live to glorify God? "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."




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Professor Finney's Letter
of April 10, 1839

from "The Oberlin Evangelist" Publication of Oberlin College

Public Domain Text
Reformatted by Katie Stewart

TO THE CHRISTIAN READERS OF
"THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST"

Beloved:

The object of this letter is to state a little more definitely than I have thitherto done some of the reasons why young converts have not grown in grace more, and why I have feared, as I said in a former letter, that revivals would become more and more superficial till they would finally cease.

I have from my earliest conversion been led to notice more and more particularly the fact that there are four classes of professors in the church.

The first class seems to have had very little conviction of sin, and consequently there is not light enough in their experience; that is, they have not experience enough so to understand the Bible as to be able, under God, to convict others of sin. They pass along, and nearly their whole lives seem to be worse than useless so far as the interests of religion are concerned.

A second class seems to have had frequent and deep conviction of sin but appear never to have been truly regenerated. They understand the Bible measurably on the subject of depravity, so as to be able under God to bring others under conviction and distress of mind; and here they stop. They rarely if ever are instrumental in the regeneration of a sinner. Having no experience on the subject of conversion themselves, they are all in the dark. And when the inquiry is made by an anxious sinner, "What shall I do to be saved?"-- although they may give him directions in the language of Scripture, yet as a matter of fact they cannot so answer his inquiries and shape their directions and remove his difficulties as to bring him into the kingdom of God. This class is very numerous. And I have been astonished to find how seldom it is that professors of religion know what to say to anxious sinners. From long and close observation, I am led to believe that the difficulty lies in their total want of experience on the subject of regeneration.

The third class have been really converted and understand the way through the gate of regeneration well enough to direct others. Knowing themselves what it is to be converted, thus far they can go with sinners. They know measurably how to use the law to produce conviction, and enough of the atonement and of Christ as a justifying Savior instrumentally to bring sinners fairly into the kingdom; for in this they have personal experience.

But they have gone no further than this. Their time and thoughts and lives have been employed with these two classes of truths-- the law, and so much of the gospel as to produce conversion. They have, though, advanced no further than "the first principles of the oracles of God." They continue to lay again and again "the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptism and the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment." They go round and round in the circle of these first principles of the doctrine of Christ and never "go on to perfection," either in doctrine or in practice.

Hence, having never given their attention to those higher and more spiritual truths of the gospel which are the more appropriate food of the Christian soul and indispensable to his growth in grace, they make little or no progress in holiness and often in a few years become mechanical in their efforts to convert sinners. Their spirit, not being sweetened by deep and constant and increasing intercourse with Christ, becomes bitter and censorious. They know very little what to say to an anxious Christian struggling against remaining sin. Let them be consulted by a Christian who has made any considerable attainments in piety and who understands measurably the plague of his own heart and is panting after the utter annihilation of sin in all its forms and to be raised up "to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ," and they are in the dark. They will generally insist upon such persons going to work for the conversion of sinners [and] reproach them with not being at work for God and for thinking so much about themselves and their own sins. The fact is, they are in the dark in regard to the real state and necessities of such persons. This state of mind is entirely beyond their experience. They seem to be totally destitute of that to which Paul refers in 2 Cor. 1:3-6: "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation."

Here the Apostle found that God gave him deep Christian experience and comfort that he might be able to understand the distresses and administer comfort to those in like circumstances.

Now as a general thing I do not believe it is possible for a Christian to go much beyond his own experience in administering the consolations of the gospel or in removing the difficulties that obstruct the paths of others. Even Christ himself was, in this respect, made perfect through sufferings; "for in that he hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succor those that are tempted." The New Testament, and especially the Epistle to the Hebrews, seems plainly to recognize this truth that Christ having been in the flesh "and tempted in all points like as we are" is thereby qualified to sympathize with us, because he "can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities." It seems plain from the very nature of mind that in order to lead others, we ourselves must be acquainted with the way; and it is alarming and affecting to see how few Christians there are in the church who have experienced enough to direct those who are struggling after high attainments in piety. Whenever a teacher attempts to go beyond his own experience, he becomes a blind leader of the blind.

This class of converted Christians who are able, at least for a time, to labor successfully for the conversion of others, without ever having grown much in grace themselves and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, has been much increased during the great revivals.

The fourth class, and I am constrained to say that they are comparatively few, have learned so much of Christ as a sanctifying as well as a justifying Savior, have drunk so deeply at the fountain-head of love and of the waters of the sanctuary, as to be able not merely to direct an inquiring sinner but an anxious Christian. I have always observed that this class of Christians feel peculiarly solicitous for the weak lambs of the church. The weak and stumbling and God-dishonoring state of the church is what most peculiarly afflicts them. Their compassions are greatly moved when they behold the haltings, complainings, anxieties and follies of the church.

Now it seems to me that there is something in the history of Paul that ought to be instructive to the church on this subject. He seems to have spent a number of years almost exclusively in the conversion of sinners and in the establishment of churches. But during his confinement at Rome and in the latter part of his ministry, he appears to have had his attention turned particularly to the subject of strengthening the church. And it is very edifying to see in all his epistles this prominent feature of his character: a great solicitude to promote growth in grace among Christians. It is not to be supposed that he omitted to labor for the conversion of sinners. But it is, I think, manifest beyond all dispute that his mind was mainly engrossed with the sanctification of the church. And it is evident from his epistles that he did not believe that the church would ever be sanctified merely by pressing them to labor exclusively for the conversion of sinners or by dwelling upon that particular class of subjects that were denominated by him "the beginning of the doctrine of Christ." His letters were, I think, undeniably designed to lead Christians into a fuller knowledge of Christ, in all his relations-- to the necessity, means and practicability of entire sanctification. The same seems to have been true of all the apostles whose epistles have come down to us.

But I have made so many preliminary remarks that I must omit my main design, that is to notice some of the reasons why converts have not grown more in grace, till my next.
 

C. G. FINNEY
A Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ




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True and False Peace
Lecture VIII
April 10, 1839

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Psalm 119: 165: "Great peace have they, who love thy law; and nothing shall offend them."

In this lecture, I design to show,

I. What we are to understand by law, in this passage.

II. What it is to love the law of God.

III. That the natural result of this love is great, and constant peace of mind.

IV. That nothing shall offend them, that love the law of God.

V. Notice a delusion upon this subject ,that is very common among professed Christians.


I. I am to show, what we are to understand by law, in this passage.

Law is the revealed will of the lawgiver. The whole revealed will of God, is to be understood as his law, however that revelation is made--whether in the Bible--in the Providence--or by the Spirit of God. The term law, as used in this Psalm, and very often in the Bible, is doubtless to be understood, in this extended, and indeed its most proper sense.

In a more restricted sense, all the commandments of God, are to be considered as His law. And in a sense still more limited, the ten commandments are his law. And these, again, are condensed into the two precepts, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself."

But God's will--his whole will--is His law. And whenever this will is revealed, in any way whatever, it becomes binding on us. So that when we are informed, by his word, or Providence, that anything is agreeable to the Divine will, that is to settle the question, with us, and we are sweetly to acquiesce in it.

II. I am to show, what it is to love the law of God.

It is a disinterested preference of the will of God--a preferring, with all our heart, that the will of God, whatever it is, should be done; because it is holy, wise, and good. It is not the making a virtue of necessity, and yielding by constraint, because resistance will do no good--but it is the mind's supreme choice, that God's will shall be done, on earth, as in heaven. It is a sweet, and entire complacency in the will of God, however that will may be revealed. It is that state in which the mind continually cries, and echoes, and reechoes, "thy will be done, on earth, as it is done in heaven." It is a supreme, and sweet delight in whatever is the will of God, because it is his will. It is not that forced submission of the mind when it is prostrated, and the will broken down, by absolute agony. But it is a sweet and heavenly rest, in the will of God--a spontaneous gushing forth of the heart, that meets, and responds, Amen, to all the will of the blessed God.

III. I am to show, that the natural result of this love is great, and constant peace of mind.

By peace, I do not mean indifference, or that quiet of the mind, that results from diverting the attention, from that which had before agonized it.

Peace is opposed to war. A war of mind is a state of mutiny, where the heart, and conscience, and perhaps other powers of the mind, are in conflict with each other. The heart chooses what the conscience condemns; and the conscience demands what the heart refuses. And the emotions, in such cases, may be thrown into a state of great excitement, and agitation, filling the mind with agony, and every hateful passion.

Now peace is the opposite of this state of mind--not the mere absence of it--not the mere absence of agony, and inward mutiny; but a delightful, and sweet harmony, in the exercise of all the powers of the mind. The will, and the conscience are at one--the heart sweetly choosing, and delightfully reposing, in that which is agreeable to the decisions of the conscience--and the conscience, as it were, sweetly smiling approbation upon the decisions of the will--and the emotions flowing, like a gentle stream let, in delightful accordance with both the conscience, and the heart.

This is far from being a mere negative, or quiescent state of mind, which is often mistaken for peace. It is a positive, active, and heavenly state of mind. It is a wakeful, and deep composure of the soul, like the deep, pure, calm ocean; clear, composed, and heavenly. It is a state of mind far better understood, by experience, than described in words. It is "the peace of God, that passeth understanding." This peace have they, that love the law of God. To show this, let me observe,

That in this state of mind, they certainly can know, no resistance to whatever they discover to be the will of God. And whatever desires they may have, or prayers they may make, in relation to any particular event--when, by any means, they are led to understand, the will of God, respecting that event, they joyfully acquiesce. We have an illustration of this, in the case of David, who mourned sorely, when his child was sick. He "besought God for the child, and fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth;" for he said, "who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live?" But as soon as the child was dead, and he was thereby informed, what the will of God was, "he arose from the earth, and washed, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshipped, and said, I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."

This peace will be a great peace; (i.e.) it will extend to every providence, and to all the will of God. How can it be otherwise, if the heart is in such a state, as to have a supreme preference for his will? What can occur, in such a state of mind, that shall break, or disturb, its deep repose in God?

IV. I am to show, that nothing shall offend, or stumble those that love the law of God.

You will observe, that in the margin, it is written, they shall have no stumbling block; (i.e.) that they shall so acquiesce in all the will of God, as not to stumble, and fall into rebellion, on account of anything revealed in the Bible, or, on account of any Providence of God.

By this, is not meant, that persons in this state of mind, can know no such thing as sorrow, or distress. Various things may occur, to disturb the emotions of the mind, while the heart, or will is as undisturbed, as the great deep of the ocean. We have an illustration of this, in the great agony of Christ in the garden. His conflict was so severe, and the excitement of his emotions so great, that "he sweat great drops of blood." And yet, it was manifest, that his heart, or will, was firmly settled, to do the will of God--as unmoved as the everlasting mountains. His will was not disturbed, or shaken. And, in this respect, his peace was undisturbed; and while he cried out, in the anguish almost of death, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me," --the deep steadfastness of His heart, in the will of God, concluded every time, "not as I will, but as thou wilt." Here was an instance of great desire existing for a certain blessing, and yet the will most steadfastly clinging to the will of God.

Now, when I said above, that the peace spoken of in this text, includes the harmonious action of all the powers of the mind, I did not mean, certainly, that the emotions, which are involuntary states of mind, are always at rest, or composed. They generally accord with the state of the will. But sometimes circumstances occur, as in this case of Christ, when the emotions or desires, are greatly excited, while the will remains unshaken. Nor is this to be considered as really disturbing the peace of mind. These are accidental, or perhaps more properly, providential fluctuations of the involuntary powers of the mind. And the emotions may be exceedingly joyous, without any true peace, as they often are in fits of laughter, and merriment.

So they may, on the other hand, be painful, and agonizing, without breaking up, or affecting the deep repose of the will, as was manifestly the case with Christ. When the will is at rest in the will of God, the emotions will sweetly acquiesce, unless it be in cases of strong temptation and trial, as in the case of Christ, and David, just mentioned. But in such cases, a Christian's sorrows may be stirred, and yet their peace, properly speaking, remain unbroken. So a Christian, who loves the law of God, may be exercised with great compassion for sinners--with deep travail of soul for Zion--with distress, and indignation at sin--and in many ways the surface of the mind, as it were, may be ruffled, while, like the ocean, its deep fountains are unmoved.

The text says, "they have great peace, who love thy law, and nothing shall offend" [or stumble] "them." Nothing can occur, that can throw them into a state of discontent, or repining at God. They shall not be disappointed in anything. Dr. Payson could say, "he had not known what disappointment was, since he had given up his own will."

To love the law, or will of God, is to have our will submerged in his will--to have no will of our own, separate from his; but to will with all our heart, that his will should be done. Now this state of mind absolutely precludes a state of discontent, resistance, repining, or disappointment at the revealed will of God. Nothing certainly can occur, which is not, upon the whole, according to the will of God; (i.e.) he has either actively brought it about by his own agency, or seen it wise, upon the whole, not to prevent its being accomplished, by the agency of others. So that whatever is, is upon the whole, "according to the counsel of his own will;" (i.e.) he, upon the whole, prefers its being just as it is, to such an alteration of his providential, and moral government, as to have brought about a different result. The enlightened Christian that knows this, and every Christian who can be truly said to love the law of God, is enlightened enough to know this, will find, as a matter of fact. that nothing shall offend, or stumble him.

V. l am to notice,a delusion upon this subject, that is very common among professing Christians.

The delusion consists in their obtaining a false peace, from time to time, by a natural process of mind, which they do not seem to understand. In an impenitent state, the heart is selfish, and the conscience and heart are opposed to each other. Instead of their being at one, and thus creating a great calm and peace in the mind, there is often a great conflict--the conscience sternly demanding, and insisting upon sacrifices, which the heart is unwilling to make. It is often the case, that the conscience continues to distress the mind, and press the will with its claims, until, from some consideration purely selfish, the heart will yield one point after another, and thus afford the mind a temporary relief. Suppose (e.g.) the conscience to upbraid the mind with the indulgence of any particular form of sin. This throws the mind into distress, and in its agony, it casts about for relief. Suppose the sin to be intemperance. It is easy to see, that the mind, in contemplating the subject, may see a great many reasons for yielding the point, and giving up intemperance, and it may be yielded, and intemperance really abandoned, from any other, and every other consideration, than love to the will of God, and hatred of sin, as such. Now if the point is yielded, from whatever motive, although true peace does not follow, yet a natural reaction takes place in the mind, which is often mistaken for peace. Thus when anything is proposed, and pressed upon the heart, which it resolutely resists, the tendency is to throw the mind into an agony. But if the point is yielded, there is naturally induced a quiescent state of mind, and sometimes a verging to the opposite extreme of joyousness, which, though a common fact, does not seem to be generally understood.

Perhaps some of you have witnessed a case of this kind, where a proposal of marriage has been made to a lady, on many accounts highly honorable, and advantageous; but to which her heart is strongly opposed, either from a want of interest in the person, or on account of a pre-existing attachment. Now if the proposal be pressed, by the person himself, and by her friends--urging considerations upon her as inducements to consent, she becomes agonized--can neither eat nor sleep; and in her distraction casts about for relief, until overcome by argument, and persuasion, and flattery, and appeals to her ambition, she consents. Now the will is carried, but not from proper motives. The conflict ceases, and a natural reaction of the mind takes place. A calm ensues, that verges towards sweetness, and affection, for her admirer, and complacency in the proposal. But still he is not the object of her choice. It is not love to him, but other considerations that have influenced the will. Now as soon as they are united, and his will comes to be the rule of her action, she will discover her mistake, and find that it was a forced submission. And not loving her husband, it is impossible for her to be at peace. At every turn, she will find her will opposing his will. And conscience--a regard for reputation--or some other like inducement, must force submission from time to time, after a protracted and agonizing struggle.

Now this is exactly the conduct and character of many a convicted sinner, who obtains a false hope, and many a deceived professor of religion. Enlightened by the Spirit, conscience gives them no rest. Their distress increases till a forced submission is produced. The fear of punishment--the hope of pardon--a desire for peace, and the consolations of the gospel, and many other selfish inducements, may come in to influence the will, till there is a forced submission of some point, upon which the mind is particularly pressed. Perhaps it is the duty of family prayer, which the mind is resisting--perhaps it is the confession of some sin--the making restitution--the taking an anxious seat--attending a meeting of inquiry, the opening the mind to a minister, or something of this kind. Now when inducements are held out to yield this point, instead of the character of God being so presented as to make the mind fall in love with Him, it is plain, that multitudes of selfish considerations may cause the mind to yield, when, after all, it has no knowledge of God, and no love to him--when the mind is as far as possible from true repentance, or faith, or love to God, or man. Conscience has forced the will upon such a dilemma, that it has yielded the point, yet from selfish considerations--it has not at all changed its attitude toward God--it has only substituted one form of selfishness for another. When driven to desperation, and looking all around for peace, it has taken sanctuary in yielding the point--from some selfish motive.

Now it often occurs, that when a sinner sits upon his seat, and a call is made for the inquirers to come forward, as soon as he makes up his mind to go, from whatever motive, his distress leaves him. He felt a desperate struggle, till the question was decided; but as soon as the decision was made to go, although it was the anxious seat, and not God, or Christ, that was in all his thoughts, perhaps he became calm--he felt as if a mountain weight had rolled off from his soul. Now how natural for him to mistake the calm, which is the legitimate effect of a reaction in his mind, for the peace of God. He has yielded the point that occasioned so great a struggle. Others have gone to the anxious seat, and obtained hopes. He knew he was kept back by pride. His conscience, and reason, and a thousand inducements clustered around him, and bade him go, if peradventure he might be blessed. Now while the pride of his heart resisted, there would of course be a tremendous struggle; and whatever inducements caused him to yield, would produce calm; and that calm might, and doubtless often is, fatally mistaken for true peace. For it should be understood, that this natural reaction may be sudden and great, in proportion to the greatness of the distress, that had preceded it. The reaction may go much further than a calm, and the absence of distress. A joyousness may, and naturally will succeed, which, being mistaken for true religion, will encourage hope; and hope encouraged in the mind will increase joy--and joy increased, will strengthen hope--this strengthened will, in its turn, strengthens joy, until the deluded soul persuades himself, that he is filled with the love of God.

Now the true distinction between this state of mind, and that peace, which they have who love the law of God is this. Instead of enforcing submission to the performance of some particular duty, the mind apprehends and loves the character of God--the will yields not to the biddings of conscience--or force of circumstances--or selfish considerations; but the mind, being diverted from all selfishness, looks away to God, and Christ, and sweetly yields to, and acquiesces in, his will.

Now the difference in these two states of mind. will be apparent in this. The deluded sinner, not having his will merged in the will of God, will soon find, that what he calls his peace, is continually broken. Instead of finding that be is not stumbled, or offended with the providences, and will of God, he will find that he is almost continually stumbled. He is thrown into an excitement of mind, at every providence, and every commandment of God, that crosses his path. The will of God is not the law of his being. So far from it, he often finds himself in such a state of mind, that conscience must enforce its claims upon the heart, and sometimes a severe conflict, compels him to yield one form of sin after another. Thus he submits, and yields one point today, from some selfish consideration, and to-morrow there is some new call to duty--some demand of self-denial--or something else, which brings him up to a stand of strong resistance, and throws him into great confusion. This, perhaps, after a severe struggle, the mind will yield, and retreat to some refuge, prepared to resist the next demand upon its selfishness.

Now right over against this, is that state of mind, that constitutes true peace. True peace is the result of the heart's having yielded to God, (i.e.) in its loving God, and preferring the will of God to all other things. Instead of being fretted, and stumbled, and thrown into agony, and disappointment, and discontent, by every call to self-sacrifice, and duty, all these calls are so many joyful occasions, on which to gratify its love, and in which it feels the sweetest, and most profound complacency. As it turns over the leaves of the Bible--as it listens to sermons--as the unfoldings of Providence point out new paths of duty, and call afresh for self denial, instead of being thrown in an agony at these demands, it is delighted with these opportunities of manifesting its love; and it finds that its repose is deepened, and its joy heightened, and rendered more exquisite, by how much the more frequently these demands are made.

Now perhaps I am relating the very experience of some of you. How is it, when duty is pointed out? Do you find that the pressure of obligation disturbs your peace? Does conscience, the law, and the Spirit of God point out your duty, and does your heart hold back? It is then to you a stumbling block, and a rock of offense. And if you find it impossible to divert your mind, you may take shelter in the outward performance of duty, and so far yield the point, as to perform the duty, without any love to God. A calm succeeds, which you mistake for true peace. You rest in your delusion, for a day, to be called, perhaps to-morrow, to a new conflict with your conscience, and the will of God.

Now rest assured, if this is your character, and this your experience, "you are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity." How many such persons have I seen, who would appear to be very happy in religion, while no sacrifice was called for, and no demand made upon their selfishness. But attack their lusts--call on them for self denial--ask their money for benevolent objects--point at some of their intemperate practices, in eating and drinking--reprove some favorite indulgence, and instantly you have destroyed all their religion. Their peace is all gone. Conscience, and the will are up in arms, and mutiny, and war immediately ensue.

Now let me place beside this picture, the experience of a Christian. In him, so far as he is a Christian, selfishness is subdued, and his conscience and heart are at one. In such a case, the office of conscience is not to force the heart, for the heart needs no force. Conscience is that power of the mind, that points out the moral qualities of actions, and enables the mind to distinguish between what is right, and what is wrong. Now the Christian heart is in love with what is right, (i.e.) with the will of God, whenever it discovers what it is. So that the dictates of conscience are readily, spontaneously, and joyfully obeyed by the heart. In this case, the peace of mind is unbroken, and there is a joyful acquiescence in all the will of God. Let there be new calls to duty--new occasions for self-denial--new demands upon life, and health, and strength, for the promotion of God's glory--no mutiny results, but peace, and a joyful yielding--a supreme and delightful preference of the will of God, reigns throughout the soul.

REMARKS.

1. Selfish professors cannot understand religion. They continually make conscience, and selfish resolutions, supply the place of love. They do not distinguish between being influenced, in their conduct, by selfish resolutions, and purposes, and by the reproaches of conscience; and that love which begets a joyful acquiescence in all the will of God.

2. Many persons are spending their time, in putting a conscientious restraint upon selfishness, instead of giving it up. They are, like children, building dams of sand, that by the slight risings of the water, are instantly driven away. They see the risings of their pride--the rufflings of their temper--their worldly-mindedness, and their sin, under many forms. These they are busied in putting down. They resolve, and re-resolve--they vow, and break their vows--they purpose, and fail to fulfill, and for the best of all reasons, their heart does not love God; and selfishness is too strong for their conscience; and sin will break over their dams of sand.

But here, it may be asked, are we to have no regard to conscience, in our daily walk and conversation? I answer, yes. No man can walk with God, unless he "keeps a conscience void of offence towards God, and towards man." But observe, there is no virtue--no real holiness, except the heart loves what the conscience pronounces to be right. To comply with conscience, from some other motive than love, is not religion. Saul of Tarsus, it is said, "lived in all good conscience before God;" but his conformity to the dictates of conscience was legal; (i.e.) he was influenced by legal or self-righteous considerations, and not by love.

3. In this discourse, you can see the true distinction, between a professor under the law, and a Christian, who has entered into the rest of the gospel.

4. From what observation I have been able to make, I cannot but fear, that only a comparatively few of the visible church are converted to God. It is a matter of fact, that they have not the peace expressly promised, in the text, to those that love the law of God. Indeed, I should not say that this peace is promised--it is expressly declared to be the state, in which they now are, who love the law of God: "Great peace HAVE they, that love thy law."

Now have you this peace? Have the church this peace, as a matter of fact? As God is true, they only love the law of God, who do, as a matter of fact, have this peace.

5. Much of the instruction given to anxious sinners, and professors of religion, is only calculated to give, and encourage a false peace. When they are convicted, and anxious, instead of spreading out before them the objects of faith, and love, to engage their attention and win their affections, they are perhaps pointed to some form of sin, and required to give that up, and to resolve never to commit it again; and then to another, and another, leading them, perhaps by various, and selfish considerations, to yield some point, or points, upon which there is a conflict in the mind; and thus inducing, as I have already shown, a false peace, while there is not a particle of the right knowledge, or of the love of God.

It appears to me to be impossible, that true religion, and true submission, should be produced in the mind, without pressing upon the attention the character of God, and of Christ, as presented in the Bible. Those great and commanding objects of love, and of faith, must be presented, and embraced: and there must be a yielding up of selfishness, through the power of truth, and the Holy Ghost, or there is no true religion in the soul. But if selfishness is subdued, you will not witness these perpetual conflictings, that are so common, when professors of religion are pressed up to duty.

6. And now I must conclude, by pressing home upon you, the solemn inquiry, are you a Christian? Do you love the law of God? Is the will of God your rule of action? Or do you merely acknowledge, that it ought to be, while, as a matter of fact, you do not make it so?

Have you so renounced your own will, as to find yourself undisturbed, peaceful, and joyous, when anything turns out, in the providence of God, different from what you had hoped, and expected?

Whenever a sin is pointed out to you, or any duty to perform, do you find that it distresses you, to sacrifice that sin, or to perform that duty? Do you yield by constraint, or willingly--joyfully?

Beloved souls, be ye not deceived. To love the law of God, is to love the will of God--to prefer his will to your own will. Now do you, as a matter of fact, find your mind to be in this state? Or is it true of you, that instead of yielding your own will to the will of God, without debate, or distress, you only yield after a severe conflict, and are compelled by conscience, rather than sweetly constrained by love?

Now just mark what this text says--not that they may have--ought to have--or shall have great peace, that love the law of God; but that they actually DO HAVE great peace.

This is a matter of fact, and the natural result of yielding the will to the will of God. Indeed, I should rather say, that this peace consists in your yielding to the will of God, and preferring his will to your own.

Now your own consciousness must teach you, with absolute certainty, whether you are in this state of mind.

Will you be honest before God?

Will you decide this question, as before the solemn judgment?

I pray you to settle these solemn questions; and remember, that your salvation or damnation, is suspended upon their being decided according to truth.




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Dominion Over Sin
Originally untitled. Title supplied by WStS.
Lecture IX
April 24, 1839

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Romans 6:14: "For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace."

I shall attempt to show,

I. What sin is.

II. When it may be said, that sin has dominion in the soul.

III. What it is to be under the law.

IV. What it is to be under grace.

V. That under the law, sin will have dominion over an unsanctified mind, of course.

VI. That sin cannot have dominion over those who are under grace.


I. I am to show, what sin is.

Sin is a state of mind, which is the opposite of the law of God. As I have shown, in a former lecture, the whole of true religion consists in obedience to this law, which requires supreme disinterested love to God, and disinterested and equal love to our neighbor. This is the opposite of selfishness or a supreme regard to our own interest. Selfishness therefore, under all its forms, is sin, and there is no form of sin, that is not some modification of selfishness.

Sin then is not any part of our physical or mental constitution--it is no part or principle of nature itself; but a voluntary state of mind, (i.e.) an action, or choice of the mind--a preferring our own interest, because it is our own, to other and higher interests. It does not consist in any defect of our nature; but in a perversion, or prohibited use of our nature.

II. I am to show, when sin has dominion in the soul.

It cannot be properly said, that sin has dominion, because the soul has fallen under the power of an occasional temptation.

Some have supposed this passage to teach, that a person, under grace, could not sin under any circumstances. They have maintained, that to sin once, is to be brought under the dominion of sin.

Now although I am for making the promises mean all they say, yet I do not believe that such language as this can be justly interpreted to mean all that such persons contend for; (e.g.) if a man should be once intoxicated, under circumstances of peculiar temptation, it would be neither fair, nor true, in speaking of his general character, to say that he was under the dominion of the ardent spirits, and a slave to his appetite.

As an illustration of my meaning, take a parallel promise, John 4:14. Christ says, "But whosoever drinketh the water, that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water, that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." Now some have understood this promise to mean, that if a person became a partaker of the Holy Ghost, he could never again know what it was to thirst for the divine influence, in any sense--that he would have such a fullness of the Spirit of God, as to have at no time any thirsting for more. But this is certainly a forced construction of this passage. It is not in accordance with what we should mean, in the use of similar language. Should you promise your neighbor, if he came and boarded with you, he should never hunger nor thirst, would he understand you to mean, that he should never have a good appetite for his food; or merely that he should not be hungry, or thirst, without being supplied? He would doubtless understand you, and you would expect him to understand you, to promise, that he should have enough to eat, and to drink--that he should not suffer the gnawings of hunger, or the pains of thirst, without the supply that nature demands.

Just so I understand this promise of Christ, that if any man has partaken of these waters of life, he has the pledge of Christ, that he shall have as great a measure of His Spirit, as his necessities demand--that whenever his soul thirsts for more of the waters of life, he has a right to plead this promise, with an assurance that Christ will satisfy his thirsty soul, with living waters.

I suppose this text to have a similar meaning. It does not mean, that no person, under temptation, can fall under the power of an occasional sin; but that no form of sin shall be habitual--that no form of selfishness, or lust, shall in any such case, be habitual, in the soul, that is under grace--that no appetite, or passion, or temptation of any kind, should in this sense be able to bring the soul into bondage to sin.

III. I am to show, what it is to be under the law.

IV. I am to show, what it is to be under grace.
To be under grace, is to pass from death unto life--to be translated from the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of God's dear Son--to pass from the state of a condemned criminal, into a state of redemption, justification and adoption.
V. I am to show, that under the law, sin will have dominion over an unsanctified mind.
The effect of law upon a selfish mind, is beautifully illustrated by the Apostle, in the 7th chapter of Romans. The case there supposed is what the Apostle, as is common with him, represents as if it were his own experience. It appears, from its connection, to illustrate the influence of law over an unsanctified mind. It is plainly a case where sin was habitual --where it had dominion -- where the law of sin and death in the members so warred against the law of the mind, as to bring the soul into captivity. Now some have contended, and continue to contend, that the Apostle, in this chapter, describes the experience of a saint under grace. But this cannot be; because, in this case, it would flatly contradict the text upon which I am preaching. As I have said, the case described in the seventh of Romans, is a case in which sin undeniably has dominion, the very thing of which the Apostle complains. But the text affirms, that sin shall not have dominion over the soul, that is under grace. Besides, it is very plain, that in the seventh of Romans it was the influence of law, and not of grace, which the Apostle was discussing.
VI. I am to show, that sin cannot have dominion over those, who are under grace. REMARKS.

1. There is no sound religion where there is not universal reformation. It should be constantly and strictly observed, in all cases of professed conversion, whether the reformation in habits and life is universal --whether it extends to selfishness, and sinful lusts, and habits of every kind, and under every form. If any lust is spared--if selfishness, under any form, is indulged, and habitual--if any sinful habit still remains unbroken and unsubdued--that is not a sound conversion. No form of sin will have dominion, where conversion is real. Occasional sin may occur through the force of powerful temptation; but no form of sin will be indulged.

2. Want of attention to this truth, has suffered a great many unconverted persons to enter the Church. In some respects, a reformation has been apparent. In such cases, without sufficient discrimination, hope has been indulged by the individual himself, and encouraged by members of the Church--and he has been admitted to the communion, to the great disgrace of religion. It does not appear to me, to have been sufficiently understood, that grace not only ought, but actually does, in every case where piety is real, so overcome sin as to leave no form of it habitual. It has indeed been a common maxim, that where sin is habitual, there is no real religion. But this has manifestly not been adopted in practice; for great multitudes have been admitted, and are still permitted to continue as members, in good standing in Christian Churches, who habitually indulge in many forms of sin. I think the gospel demands, that no professed convert should be thus encouraged to hope, or suffered to become a member of the Church, whose reformation of life and habits is not universal.

3. You see, that all those persons who have frequent convictions, and conflicts with sin, and yet are habitually overcome by it, are still under the law, and not under grace; (i.e.) they are convicted, but not converted. The difficulty is, their hearts are not changed so as to hate sin under every form. Temptation is too strong, therefore, for their conscience, and for all their resolutions. Their hearts pleading for indulgence will of course render them an easy prey to temptation. This seems to have been exactly the case described in the seventh chapter of Romans, to which I have referred. Where regeneration has taken place--and the heart, as well as the conscience has become opposed to sin--in every such case, the power of temptation is, of course, so broken as that sin will, at most, be only occasional, and never habitual. In all cases, therefore, where individuals find themselves to be, or are seen by others to be under the dominion of sin, or lust, of any kind, they should know, or be told at once, that they have not been regenerated--that they are under the law, and not under grace.

4. What can those persons think of themselves, who know, that they are under the dominion of selfishness, in some of its forms? Do they believe this text to be a direct, and palpable falsehood? If not, how can they indulge the hope, that they are Christians? This text asserts, as plainly as it can, that they are under the law, and not under grace.

5. You see the state of those who are encouraged by the seventh chapter of Romans, supposing that to be a Christian's experience. If they have gone no farther than that, they are still under the law. I have been amazed to see how pertinaciously professors of religion will cling to a legal experience, and justify themselves in it, by a reference to this chapter. I am fully convinced, that the modern construction of the chapter--from the 14th to the 25th verses--interpreting it as a Christian experience, has done incalculable evil; and has led thousands of souls there to rest, and go no farther, imagining that they are already as deeply versed in Christian experience as Paul was, when he wrote that epistle. And there they have stayed, and hugged their delusion, till they have found themselves in the depths of hell.

6. There may be much legal reformation, without any true religion.

7. A legal reformation, however, may generally be distinguished, by some of the following marks:

(1.) It may be only partial; (i.e.) extend to certain forms of sin, while others are indulged.

(2.) It may, and almost certainly will be temporary.

(3.) In a legal experience, it will also generally be manifest, that some forms of sinful indulgence are practiced and defended, as not being sin. And where there has not been a powerful conviction, that has deterred the soul from indulgence, selfishness and lust are still tolerated.

A gospel, or gracious experience will manifest itself in a universal hatred of sin and lust, in every form. And, as I have said, sin will have no place, except in cases of such powerful temptation, as to carry the will for the time, by the force of excited feelings, when a reaction will immediately take place, and the soul be prostate in the depths of repentance.

8. By reference to this text, and the principles here inculcated, not only may the genuineness of each pretended conversion, be decided; but also the genuineness, or spuriousness of religious excitements. That is not a revival of true religion, but falls entirely short of it, that does not produce universal reformation of habits in the subjects of it. There is many a revival of conviction, and convictions are often deep, and very general in a community, where, for want of sufficient discriminating instruction, there are very few conversions.

9. You see the mistake of those sinners who fear to embrace religion, lest they should disgrace it, by living in sin, as they see many professing Christians now do.

Sinner, you need not stand back on this account. Only come out from under the law, and be truly converted--submit yourself to the power and influence of sovereign grace, and no form of sin shall have dominion over you, as God is true.

10. This text is a great encouragement to real Christians. They often tremble when they have once fallen under the power of temptation. They greatly fear that sin will gain an entire ascendancy over them.

Christian, lift up your head, and proclaim yourself free. The God of truth has declared that you are not, and shall not be a slave to sin.

11. This is a proper promise, and an important one, for Christians to plead in prayer. It is like a sheet anchor, in a storm. If temptations beat like a tempest upon the soul, let the Christian hold on to this promise with all his heart. Let him cry out, O Lord, perform the good word of Thy grace unto Thy servant, wherein Thou hast caused me to hope, that sin shall not have dominion over me, because I am not under law but under grace.

12. Let those who are under the law--over whom sin, in any form, has dominion--remember, that under the law, there is no salvation--that "whatever things the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law"--and that "cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them."




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Carefulness A Sin
Lecture X
May 8, 1839

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Phil. 4:6: "Be careful for nothing."

In this discussion, I design to show,

I. What carefulness, as used in this text, is.

II. That this state of mind is sin.

III. How to avoid it.


I. I am to show the meaning of the word carefulness.

The terms care, and carefulness, are used in two different senses, in the Bible--one good--the other bad. The one kind of care is virtue--the other kind is vice. I will quote a few passages, to illustrate both these senses. In some of the passages, the words care and carefulness are not used in the translation; but in every instance the same word is used in the original, that in the text is translated careful. In 1 Cor. 12:25, the Apostle says, "the members should have the same care one for another." In Phil. 2:20, he also says, "For I have no man like minded who will naturally care for your estate." In 1 Pet. 5:7, care is spoken of as being exercised by God.

It is manifest, that the state of mind described in these passages, is a virtuous state--it is that degree of wakeful desire and solicitude for our own, or the happiness of others, that begets due attention, and produces that prompt and diligent use of means necessary to obtain a desirable end. This state of mind does not imply doubt, distress, corroding anxious suspense, and concern. This kind of care, however, may be very intense, and in its degree, amount to real travail of soul; and even to those "groanings which cannot be uttered," and yet be a virtuous, and highly commendable state of mind. For this, instead of being the peevishness of unbelief, and the corroding anxiety and carefulness which are the result of unbelief, is faith mightily wrestling with God, for promised blessings.

But in the following passages, we have the term used in a different sense: Matt. 6:25, "Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, nor yet for your body what ye shall put on." And in the 27th verse, "Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?" And v. 28, "Why take ye thought for raiment?" &c. And v. 31, "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat, what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed?" Luke 10:41, Christ says, "Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and troubled about many things." 1 Cor. 7:32-34, "But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is a difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit; but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband." And in the text, the Apostle says, "Be careful for nothing."

Now it is manifest from these passages, in which the same original word is used, as in the text, that the term is used in a bad sense. It implies doubtfulness, anxiety, absorbing and anxious concern, and unhappiness. This state of mind is but too common, and needs very little description to be understood by almost everyone.

II. I am to show, that this kind of carefulness is sin.

It is just so in matters of religion. Multitudes suffer themselves, in the peevishness of their unbelief, to be so distracted and confounded with carefulness about their spiritual state, or the spiritual state of those around them, that they are forever whining, complaining, and murmuring, as if it were the most difficult matter in the world to persuade God to be good, and kind, and gracious. They seem to act as if it were as difficult a matter to get hold of the grace of God, as to be saved by the law. And not withstanding all the declarations in regard to the freeness of gospel salvation, it would seem as if they supposed the wells of salvation were infinitely deep, and their waters infinitely beyond their reach; and the promises of eternal life were infinitely high above their heads. Indeed, they are in that state of mind, that from its own nature excludes the grace of the gospel, and sets aside all the promises of God. Now let me ask, did you ever find that this kind of carefulness has resulted in any thing else than evil to your own souls? Why then indulge in it? Persons in this state are very apt to think their circumstances, and condition deserve commiseration. They look around for sympathy, and pity; and often secretly blame God for not pitying them, when they have so carefully sought him. Now this is a state of horrible rebellion against God. Here is an ocean of the waters of eternal life, flowing at your feet--here is a table spread before you with infinite provisions for your souls, and as free as the heart of God, and yet you stand and distress yourself, and complain, and are filled with vast cares, and anxieties, lest you should lose your soul--starving, thirsting, dying with these provisions and waters of eternal life before you. Precious soul, lay aside your carefulness, I beseech you, and believe, or you must perish.
Just so with the servants of God, if their hearts are right. They perform every thing for him, and consider nothing as their own business--are prompt and energetic in the discharge of their duties; and calmly and quietly leave all the results to the disposal of his providence. It is just so with them on all religious subjects. They know that themselves, and all they have, are his, for time and eternity. And they can as cheerfully submit their spiritual, as their temporal interests to His disposal without carefulness, "always rejoicing in the Lord."
III. I am to show how to avoid carefulness. REMARKS.

1. This requirement extends to every thing, temporal and spiritual. Many persons think themselves to do well, in being perpetually filled with great carefulness about their spiritual concerns. But this spirit is just as inadmissible and wicked in spiritual, as in temporal things. It is God-provoking, and dishonoring unbelief, on whatever subject it is exercised.

2. How seldom is this state of mind looked upon as a sin, even by the Christian himself. Many persons claim and receive as much sympathy in this state, as if it were a dire calamity instead of a sin. Nay, they make it a matter of self-righteousness; and pride themselves in their great anxiety and trouble about spiritual things. To "rejoice in the Lord" is wholly out of the question with them. They lament over themselves, and are mourned over by others, as if they deserved infinite pity, rather than to be blamed for their unbelief.

Now, beloved, you ought to know, that your carefulness is sin, and nothing but sin--that it no more calls for commiseration, sympathy, or pity, than the crime of adultery, or drunkenness, or any abomination whatever. It is unbelief. Away with it. It is the enemy of God.

3. This carefulness is as ridiculous as it is wicked. What would you say, should you see the children of a great and mighty prince, filled with carefulness and anxiety about their daily food, when millions were at their disposal? You could account for it only upon the principle that they were monomaniacs. But what shall we say of the children of the King of kings, and Lord of lords, whose Father is not a mere temporal prince, but possesses all the attributes of God--every where present with them--ever wakeful to their interests--whose infinite resources, moral and physical, are at their disposal; and yet they are weighed down with care. What is the matter with you, my dear soul? Are you deranged? What do you mean? What ails you? Surely you dream and disquiet yourself in vain. "Hast thou not known, hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint." [Isa. 40:28-31]

4. How destructive to your peace and growth in grace, is the indulgence of this spirit.

5. What advantage it gives Satan. It is just cutting yourself loose from your moorings upon the promises of God, and giving yourself up to the merciless buffetings of the prince of hell.

6. It is our duty freely and frequently to admonish one another upon this point. There is a great fault among Christians in this respect. Whenever care is depicted upon a brother's or sister's countenance, inquiry should instantly be made into the cause. They should be reproved for the sin; and admonished, and entreated to desist from it immediately. They should be conjured by every consideration that is lovely and of good report, to entertain no carefulness for a moment.

7. From this subject, it is easy to see how important it is for husbands and wives, and those associated in the more intimate relations of life to bear each other's burdens; and as far as possible to diminish the amount of temptations to carefulness.

8. It is very important to resist the beginnings of this sin. Many Christians, and I have reason to believe, some ministers have fallen into great trouble by not resisting the beginnings of this "evil and bitter thing." They have begun perhaps by indulging carefulness about temporal things, and having by this grieved the Spirit, they are plunged into darkness in regard to their spiritual state. And as you pass by, you may hear their groanings; but there is no relief, because they will not "encourage themselves in God."

9. This truth is very applicable, and very important to indigent students, who are often so straitened in their temporal circumstances as to indulge a degree of carefulness that is very destructive, both to intellectual attainments, and to growth in grace. Such persons should remember, that their carefulness will in no instance help them. But if they indulge it, it will defeat the very ends of their education. Who can study? Who can pray? Who can walk with God in such a state of mind?

10. This requirement is applicable to all persons in all circumstances, and at all times.

And now, beloved, will you put this sin away? Shall it be from this moment the fixed purpose of your hearts, in the strength of God to overcome it forever? Will you confess it, and repent of it as a sin before God? Will you be as much ashamed of it as you would be of committing adultery, or being guilty of theft? Will you consider it as really disgraceful, in the sight of God, and as injurious to the interests of his kingdom, as other sins and abominations are? Do, I beseech you, spread this whole subject, in tears of deep repentance, before the Lord. Put it away from you forever. Let the deep repose, and patience, and gratitude of your soul shed a balmy, and a holy influence on all around you.




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The Promises- No.'s 1 - 5
Lectures XI & XII
May 22 - July 17, 1839

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College

I. I shall preface what I have to say upon this subject with several preliminary remarks, with regard to the promises of the Scripture.

II. Show the design of the promises.

III. Show that they are adequate to that for which they are designed.

IV. Show why they are not fulfilled in us.


LECTURE XI.

May 22, 1839

THE PROMISES-- No. 1

Text.--2 Pet. 1:4: "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."

I. I am to make several preliminary remarks upon the nature of the promises.

Also, Ezek. 36:25-27: --"Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them."

And numerous other kindred promises, made to the church under the Old Testament Dispensation, belong particularly to the Church under the Christian Dispensation. Consequently the Apostle in Heb. 8:8-12 maintains that the covenant in Jer. 31:31-32 respects particularly the Gospel Dispensation. --"Behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts, and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."

Let these serve as specimens of the manner in which inspired writers make an application of the promises. In the experience of every Christian, it is manifest that the Spirit of God makes the same application of the promises to their minds. And thus the promises are a kind of common property to the saints. Who has not been edified, and refreshed in reading the biographies of highly spiritual men; by observing the copious use of the promises which the Spirit of God makes in refreshing the souls of the saints.
Upon these last thoughts I shall have occasion to enlarge under another head.
The covenant made with Noah is an example of this kind. "While the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."
In Matt. 7:7 you have another illustration of the same principle -- "Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you." Here asking (of course in faith) is made the condition of receiving.
Luke 11:11-13: --"If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone, or if he asks a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" Rev. 21:6-- "I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely." And 22:17 --"And the Spirit, and the bride say, Come, And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst, come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."

That the water here mentioned is the divine influence is evident from Isa.12:3 --"Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." John 4:10, 14 --"Jesus said unto her [the woman of Samaria] If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water." "Whosoever shall drink of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life." Also John 7:37-39. "Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive."

I must defer the remaining heads of this discourse till my next lecture.
 
 

LECTURE XII.

June 5, 1839

THE PROMISES--No. 2

Text.--2 Pet. 1:4: "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."

In continuing this subject, I am to show,

II. The design of the promises.

The design of the promises, as stated in the text, is to make us partakers of the divine nature. I will state what I do not, and what I do understand, by being made partakers of the divine nature.

I do understand our being made partakers of the divine nature, to mean, Let these serve as specimens of the scripture representations on this subject. By a careful examination of the Bible, it will be found that every feature of the moral nature and character of God is begotten in the Christian, by the provisions of the gospel. I cannot but think, that one reason, and the prime reason for thinking that death only can terminate our sins, is that the bodily appetites are supposed to be in themselves sinful; and that every excitement of men's constitutional propensities is in itself a sin. This opinion would naturally lead to the conclusion that the destruction of the body, and the annihilation of the bodily appetites alone, could free us from sin. I do not suppose that we have any promise in the gospel, or any means that can make a physical or constitutional change in soul or body. And those who believe that the change required is a constitutional one, would naturally conclude, that death, and not the promises is the means of our sanctification.

III. I am to show that the promises are adequate to the effect ascribed to them.

It appears to me that the reason why so much doubt is entertained upon the subject of the entire sanctification of the saints in this life is, that the grand distinction insisted upon in the Bible, between the Old and New Covenants is overlooked--that because saints under the Old Testament were not perfect, it is inferred that they will not be under the New--that inasmuch as the legal dispensation was not able entirely and permanently to sanctify saints, it is inferred that the Gospel Dispensation cannot sanctify them, even when administered by the Holy Ghost. If I understand the Bible, the difference between the two dispensations, and covenants is exceedingly great--that what was lacking under the Old Covenant, is abundantly supplied by the New--that the New Covenant was designed to secure what the Old required, but failed to secure. Because the Old Covenant made nothing perfect, it was therefore set aside, and the New introduced, founded upon better promises.

In order to show distinctly the difference between the two covenants, I will lay before you the scripture declarations of the peculiarities of each. By thus contrasting them step by step, you will be able to see whether the promises are adequate to the perfecting of the saints.

I am to show that the first, or Old Covenant was the law written on the tables of stone. This was the substance of the covenant, to which was added the Ceremonial Law. Ex. 34:27,28-- "And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, and the ten commandments." Deut. 9:9-15: When I was gone up into the mount, to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the Lord made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights; I neither did eat bread nor drink water: And the Lord delivered unto me two tables of stone, written with the finger of God: and on them was written according to all the words which the Lord spake with you in the mount, out of the midst of the fire, in the day of the assembly. And it came to pass, at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the Lord gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant. And the Lord said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image. Furthermore the Lord spake unto me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff-necked people: Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they. So I turned, and came down from the mount, and the mount burned with fire; and the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands." Heb. 9:4 --"Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod, that budded, and the tables of the covenant." These, with many other passages, that might be quoted, show what we are to understand by the first or Old Covenant. It should be known that the words covenant and testament mean the same thing, and are only different translations of the same original word.

I will now show what we are to understand by the New Covenant. Jer. 31:31-34--"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; (which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord;) But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Jer. 32:39,40 --"And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." Heb. 8:8-12: "Behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts, and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." Ezek. 36:25-27: "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." Here, then, we have the two covenants distinctly spread before us.

I will now refer you to those passages which set them in contrast; and point out, step by step, wherein they differ, as laid down in the Bible itself.

The second or New Covenant is the writing of this law in the heart.

The first said "thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and strength."

The New, as promised in Jer. 31:31-34, is the fulfillment of what the Old required. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; (which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord;) But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Heb. 8:8-12: "Behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts, and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." Here, then, it is plain that the New is the fulfillment, in the heart, of what the Old required, and of all that the Old required.

The New Covenant is the CAUSING God's people to render perfect obedience. Ezek. 36:25-27: "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them ." Heb. 8:8-11 --"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts, and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest." Jer. 32:39,40-- "And I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for ever for the good of them, and of their children after them: and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me."

Now it should be observed that the New Covenant is not a promise, but it is the thing promised; i.e. the promise itself is not the New Covenant, but the state of mind produced by the Spirit of God writing the law in their hearts, and CAUSING them "to walk in his statutes and keep his judgments and do them." The "new heart," and the "new spirit"--these are the New Covenant itself, and the promise of this New Covenant is quite another thing. The New Covenant and the promise differ as a promise and its fulfillment differ. The New Covenant is a fulfillment of this promise. Jer. 31:31-- "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah." Here is the promise of a covenant to be made. Now what is the covenant to be made? This is it, "I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." It cannot be too distinctly understood that the New Covenant is neither law nor promise, but the very spirit required by the law produced in the heart by the Holy Ghost.

The New is the giving of this holy heart. Ezek. 36:26: "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh." Jer. 31:31-34 "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; (which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord;) But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
The New is the producing of this perfect and perpetual obedience. That it is perfect see Deut. 30:6: "And the Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live." Ezek. 36:25: "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you." Jer. 50:20: "in those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve." 1 Thess. 5:23-24: "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly: and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it." Jer. 24:7: "And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart." Jer. 33:8: "And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me." That it is perpetual, see Ezek. 36:27: "And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." Jer. 32:39-40: "And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that 1 will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." 1 Thess. 5:23,24: "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it." It has been objected, that this last is a mere prayer, and may not be answered; but the 24th verse promises "will do it."

Now if this covenant is to be everlasting, so that "they shall fear him for ever," that "they shall not depart from him" --if to cleanse the Church from "all her idols," "from ALL iniquities, and ALL sins," so that when her "iniquities are sought for, NONE shall be found" --if to "give her a new heart and a new spirit," and "cause her to walk in his statutes" --if "to sanctify her wholly, body, soul, and spirit, and preserve her blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus"--if these are not perfect and perpetual obedience, I know not in what terms such obedience could be expressed.

It has been objected by some, that the promises in the Old Testament were made to Jews, and applied only to the Jews. I answer, it is plain, that these promises respected the whole Church under the New Covenant dispensation, and that the New Covenant included the Gentile nations. The Christian Church is the Israel of God, as I have shown in a former lecture.


 

June 19, 1839

THE PROMISES--No. 3

Text.--2 Pet. 1:4: "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."

In continuing the contrast between the Old and New Covenants, I remark,

But see the tenor of the covenant itself. The reason why it was not faultless, was because it did not secure obedience. This was the very reason why God found fault with it, and introduced a new one which consisted in obedience. See again Heb. 8:7-11: "For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For, finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts, and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest." Jer. 31:31-34: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; (which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord;) But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Jer. 32:39, 40: "And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, THAT THEY SHALL NOT DEPART FROM ME." Ezek. 36:26: "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh." Ezek. 11:19-20: "And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you: and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh; That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God." Jer. 24:7: "And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart." To these I might add many other passages to the same effect.
Now I ask you, beloved, if these texts do not prove that the New Covenant is the death of sin, in opposition to the Old, which is the "STRENGTH OF SIN" 1 Cor. 15:56: "The STRENGTH of sin is the law." Now observe again, that the New Covenant is not an outward precept, nor an outward promise, nor any outward thing whatever, but an inward holiness wrought by the Spirit of God--the very substance and spirit of the law written in the heart by the Holy Ghost. Hence in Rom. 6:1-14, persons that are baptized by the Holy Ghost are said to be "dead," "crucified," "buried," &c. I have just quoted it, but consult it again. "What shall we say, then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. Knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of righteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." Rom. 7:4-6: "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." Rom. 8:2: "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." Gal. 5:16-18: "This I say, then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." Now what do these passages mean, if they do not teach a death to sin? And this certainly is not spoken of a future state of existence; but is affirmed of saints in this world. If these passages do not contain an account of a state of entire sanctification, I believe there are none in the Bible that contain such an account, either in reference to this world, or heaven itself.

Again, if these passages do not speak of a state of entire sanctification, then there are none that speak of a state of entire depravity. If to be "dead in trespasses and sins" is not a state of total depravity, then I do not know that the doctrine of total depravity is taught in the Bible. But if to be dead in sin is total depravity, then to be dead to sin must be total or entire holiness.

Now by what rule of biblical interpretation can this conclusion be denied or evaded?

July 3, 1839

THE PROMISES--No. 4

Text.--2 Pet. 1:4: "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."

In resuming the subject of the contrast between the Old and New Covenants, I remark,

The New Covenant is perfection itself. Lest this should be doubted, it may be well to inquire what we understand by Christian Perfection. Has God any where required perfection in the Bible? If so, where? Does his law require perfection? If not, what part of the Bible does? And if his law does not require perfection, why does it not? Is it not manifestly an imperfect law? And how can it be said that the "law is HOLY, JUST and GOOD"?

But it probably will not be doubted that God's law is perfect, and that entire conformity to it is perfection itself. Now what does this law require?

I now add that the New Covenant is perfection itself. Jer. 31:31-34: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; (which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them saith the Lord;) But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. Heb. 8:8-12: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws in their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their iniquities will I remember no more. Ezek. 36:25-27: "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." Deut. 30:6: "And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God WITH ALL THINE HEART, and WITH ALL THY SOUL, that thou mayest live." Rom. 8:1-4: "There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me FREE from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law MIGHT BE FULFILLED IN US, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Now if you look into the promise of the covenant in Jeremiah, you will see that it is just this--a promise to write the Old Covenant in the heart. It should be remembered, that the words old covenant and law are synonymous terms. And when God promises to write the law in the heart, he promises that the Old Covenant shall be written in the heart.

Now if the Old Covenant or Law required perfection, (and if it did not there is no requirement of perfection in the Bible,) the promise in Jeremiah is that this same perfection shall exist in the soul. And in the quotation from Rom. 8:4, it is expressly asserted that this was the object of the atonement of Christ. Now it does appear to me that the argument in favor of entire sanctification may be settled to a demonstration, by looking at what the Old Covenant required, and recognizing that as the highest perfection that God requires of man, and then seeing that this Old Covenant is to be written in the heart by the Spirit of God. If, when the Old is fulfilled in the heart, men are not perfect in the Bible sense of that term, we may hope in vain to understand what perfection is.

It has been said that regeneration is all that is included in the promise of the New Covenant, and that every real Christian has received this New Covenant. Now if this be so, in what sense did not Abraham and the Old Testament saints receive the promises and their fulfillment? Were they not regenerated? See Heb. 11:13: "These all died in faith, NOT HAVING RECEIVED THE PROMISES." Also verses 39, 40: "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, RECEIVED NOT THE PROMISE: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." Now here many of the most distinguished saints under the Old Testament dispensation are mentioned by name, and it is expressly said of every one of them, that they "died in faith," but "had not received the promises." It is not meant that they had not heard the promises, for to them the promises were given. It must therefore mean, that they did not receive their fulfillment. But who will doubt that they were regenerated? Now I cannot resist the conviction that to suppose regeneration to be the receiving of the New Covenant or New Testament, in the sense in which it is promised in the passages [I have] so often quoted, is a great and dangerous error. It appears to me that the Bible abundantly teaches that these promises are made to believers and not to unbelievers--that they are made to the Church, and not to the world, and that it is after we believe that we are to be sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Eph. 1:13: "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also AFTER THAT YE BELIEVED, YE WERE SEALED WITH THAT HOLY SPIRIT OF PROMISE." I have been ready sometimes to ask, can it be possible that those who maintain that the promise in Jeremiah means nothing more than regeneration, have thoroughly considered what they say and whereof they affirm?
These are only a few of the exceeding great and precious promises of which the Apostle speaks in the text. Every student of the Bible knows that I might extend this examination indefinitely, and write a volume as large as the Bible itself, should I quote all the promises, and remark upon them only to a limited extent. Some of them I have quoted over and over again for the purpose of showing their particular bearing upon the different propositions I have laid down. Those which I have quoted are only specimens of the promises, and designed only as illustrations of the truth that the promises are sufficient to accomplish the great work of making us partakers of the divine nature. The Lord willing, I design ere long to take up a more direct examination of the question whether entire sanctification is attainable in this life, and enter more into detail than would be proper in these discourses on the promises. In my next, I design to present some reasons why the promises are not fulfilled in, and to us.
In the mean time, I wish to call your attention to what I regard as a settled truth, viz: that the doctrine of sanctification is so spiritual a subject that no mind will understand it that is not in a truly and highly spiritual state. No man ever understood discourses on regeneration, and especially on the evidences of regeneration, and the exercises of a regenerated heart, who had not himself been regenerated. Nor will a man understand any course of reasoning on the subject of sanctification, who has not experience on that subject. By this I do not mean, that he may not have sufficient intellectual perception to understand some things about it. But I do mean that he will not understand the fullness with which the Bible teaches that doctrine until his spiritual perceptions are made clear and penetrating; e.g. no man ever believed that Jesus was the Christ who was not born of God. It is expressly asserted in the Bible that "whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God" and that "no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." Now it is not intended in this passage that a man may not settle the abstract question to some extent, as a matter of science and evidence respecting the divinity of Christ. But it is intended that none but a spiritual mind can have any knowledge of Christ as God. And to me it seems plain that the more spiritual any truth is, the more certainly it will be misunderstood by any but a spiritual mind; for the natural man discerneth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned. The utmost that I expect to do by any thing that I can say, and by any scriptures that can be quoted, with minds not in a truly spiritual state, is so far to convince their understanding as to convict their heart of being wrong, and thus to bring them to search after the true light.
 
 

July 17, 1839

THE PROMISES--No. 5

Text.--2 Pet. 1:4: "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."

In some of my last lectures, I examined a few of the promises, with the design of showing that they are sufficiently full and explicit to cover the whole ground of our necessities; and that they afford us abundant means of entire conformity to the divine nature or image--that we have only to realize in our own experience the fullness of the promised blessing, and to believe and receive all that is actually promised, in order to know by our own blessed experience, what it is to be made partakers of the divine nature. I might extend this examination of the promises to almost any length, as every attentive reader of the Bible knows. I have only quoted such specimens of the different classes of promises, as seem to me to afford a fair illustration of the extent and fullness of the salvation promised in the Gospel.

According to my plan, I am now to show,

IV. Some of the reasons why the promises are not fulfilled in and to us.

A second absurdity is, it assumes that these promises are without any condition, or that the condition has been complied with by every Christian. For certainly it would not be assumed that God had violated his promises, if he intended to promise entire sanctification, unless it were assumed either that they are without condition, expressed or implied, or that the condition had been complied with. But these promises are all made on conditions, either expressed or implied. They are to be recognized, and pleaded, and believed. The conditions are often expressed along with the promises; and when not expressed, are always implied. The conditions are not arbitrary, but there is a natural necessity that they should be understood, and believed, and a personal application made of them, as the indispensable means of getting that state of mind that constitutes the divine image or nature in man.

It is indeed a shorthand method of frittering away the promises of God, to overlook the conditions upon which they are made, and contend that they can mean no more than has been actually realized by the Church, because on any other supposition, God has not performed his word. Now the reason, and a sufficient reason, why entire sanctification has not been realized by the Church, is that she has not believed and applied these promises according to their real import.

I don't know how to leave this objection without saying it is truly ridiculous. Upon the principle assumed in the objection, there is no promise in the Bible that has become due that can be or ought to be pleaded by Christians, inasmuch as the promises must be already fulfilled, else God has violated his word.

But to what I have said, it may be objected--that the New Testament times have really come--that the New Covenant has been actually made with the Church--and that those who have actually received it have not been entirely sanctified. To this I reply--that the Church may have received more or less of the New Covenant precisely according to their understanding of the fullness of the promised blessings, and their faith in the promises. When God had promised the New Covenant, he said, "Nevertheless I will be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them." Now it is nowhere asserted in the Bible that the New Testament, or Covenant, has been fully received, although the time has come when it is offered to the Church. Under the New Covenant dispensation, it is promised that the fullness of the Gentiles shall turn to the Lord, and that the Jews themselves shall be converted and receive this covenant. Now the fact that the Church has not actually received the blessing of sanctification, no more proves that that blessing is not fully promised in the New Covenant, than the fact that the Jews and Gentiles have not been converted, proves that no such thing is promised. It is certain that the promises are not fulfilled in regard to the world's conversion, for the very reason that the Church and the world have not believed and applied these promises. The same is true of the New Covenant blessing of sanctification. This blessing has been received to a very limited extent by the Church because she has neglected to believe and apply the promise.

God's glory is his reputation or renown. And if to bestow great and transforming grace upon the children of men who are in the image of hell, is calculated to convey a high idea of the patience, forbearance, goodness and moral omnipotence of God, then certainly his glory is intimately connected with our receiving the full meaning and power of his promises.
Now it is not enough that we should merely behave ourselves aright, but we should be prompt, and plain, and simple-hearted in ascribing all our good works to the grace of God within us, else ourselves and not God will have the glory in the estimation of men. If we conceal the lovingkindness of the Lord, if we are ashamed, or afraid, or for any cause neglect to give him glory and tell what the Spirit hath done for our souls, we may expect that to overtake us which was spoken by the prophet, "If ye will not hear and if ye will not lay it to heart to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings."
I might mention a great many other reasons, but these must suffice. And now I must close this discourse by saying, that I cannot tell you how much I felt shocked, when the question came fully up whether the grace of God was sufficient as a matter of fact for the entire sanctification of Christians in this life, and it was flatly denied. The question in this shape had never come fairly and fully before my mind as a subject of distinct consideration till the last winter of my residence in N. Y. And I can never express my astonishment and grief when I found that men standing high in the Church of God flatly denied it. I have often asked myself, is it possible that these brethren can be of the opinion that if a man should believe and realize in his own experience the full meaning of the promises, and all that the gospel and the grace of God can do for a man in this world, that he would not be entirely sanctified? I would humbly ask, where is there one among them that has tried the experiment? It is no answer to this to turn around and inquire, have you received the fullness of the promise? Are you sanctified? For if I have not, and if there were not a man on earth that has, that does not at all change the meaning of the promise, nor prove that they are not sufficient to produce entire sanctification, so long as it is true that every one of them must confess that they have never received or hardly begun to receive all that they themselves admit the promises mean.




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Being In Debt
Lecture XIII
July 31, 1839

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Rom. 13:8: "Owe no man any thing."

In discussing this subject I design to show:

I. The meaning of the text.

II. That to be in debt is sin.

III. The duty of those who are in debt.


I. I am to show the meaning of the text.

The meaning of this text, like most others, is to be learned from a careful examination of the verses in its connection. The Apostle begins the chapter by enforcing the duty of obedience to civil magistrates.

"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God, and they that resist shall receive unto themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same. For he is the minister of God unto thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must be subject not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For, for this cause pay ye tribute also, for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing."

They are the servants of God, employed for your benefit. You are therefore to pay them tribute; i.e. give them the support which their circumstances require.

In the light of this and various other passages of scripture, I have often wondered how it was possible that any person could call in question the duty of obeying civil magistrates. Or how they could call in question the right and duty of magistrates to inflict civil penalties, and even capital punishment, where the nature of the case demands it. Certainly this passage recognizes their right and their duty "to execute wrath" upon transgressors, as the servants and executioners of God's vengeance.

"Render therefore to all their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another; for he that 1oveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, viz: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."

From this connection, it is evident that the Apostle designed to teach, that whenever we come to owe a man, we should immediately pay him. And not suffer any debt or obligation to rest upon us undischarged.

"Owe no man any thing, but to love one another." Here the Apostle recognizes the truth that love is of perpetual obligation. And that this obligation can never be so canceled or discharged as to be no longer binding. He recognizes no other obligation except love with its natural fruits as being, in its own nature, of perpetual obligation.

In respect to this obligation, all that we can do is to fulfill it every moment, without the possibility of so fulfilling it, as to set aside the continued obligation to love.

But we are to owe no man any thing else but love. We are to "render to all their dues, tribute to whom tribute is due, honor to whom honor."

I understand the text, then, simply to mean, let no obligation but that of love with its natural fruits, which is, from its very nature, a perpetual obligation, rest upon you undischarged.

I am aware that some modern critics maintain that this passage should have been rendered indicatively. But such men as Doddridge and Henry, Barnes and Prof. Stuart, are of the opinion that its imperative rendering is correct. And all are agreed that the doctrine of this text, as it stands, is plainly a doctrine of the Bible.

Here the question arises, what is it to owe a man in the sense of this text? I answer,

We do not properly owe an individual until we are under an obligation to pay him. Whenever he has a right to demand the pay, we have no right to withhold it.

There may be such a thing as contracting a prospective debt, giving your obligation to become due at a certain time. But then you do not properly owe, because you are under no obligation to pay till it becomes due. But whenever it becomes due you are bound immediately to pay it.

II. I am to show that it is a sin to be in debt. OBJECTION.--It may be said, I cannot avoid being in debt. I answer to this,

That if you cannot pay, you could have avoided contracting the debt, and were bound to do so.

Do you reply, I really needed the thing which I purchased?

I ask, were your necessities so great that you would have been justified, in your estimation, in lying or stealing to supply them? If not, why have you resorted to fraud? The same authority that prohibits lying or stealing, prohibits your owing a man. Why, then, do you violate this commandment of God, any more than the other? Is it not because a corrupt public sentiment, has rendered the violation of this commandment less disgraceful than to violate these other commands of God? Why did you not resort to begging instead of running in debt? Better far to beg than to run in debt. Begging is not prohibited by any command of God, but being in debt is prohibited. True, it is disgraceful to beg. But a God-dishonoring public sentiment has rendered it far less so to be in debt. And does not this account for your shameless violation of this command of God?

Do you say again, I have been disappointed. I expected to have had the money; I made the contract in good faith, and expected to meet it at the time. But others owe me and do not pay me, therefore I am unable to pay my debts. To this I reply,

You should have contracted with that expressed condition. You should have made known your circumstances, and the ground of your expectation in regard to being able to pay at the time appointed. In that case, if your creditor was willing to run the risk, of your being disappointed, the fault is not yours, as you have practiced no injustice or deception. But if your contract was without condition, you have taken upon yourself the risk of disappointment, and are not guiltless.

But here it may be said again, nearly the whole Church are in debt, and if subject to discipline, who shall cast the first stone? I reply,

(1) If it be true that the Church is so extensively in debt, no wonder that the curse of God is upon her.

(2) Again, it may be true that a Church may be so generally involved in any given sin as to make that sin a difficult subject of discipline, because each man knows that he himself is guilty, and must in his turn submit to the same discipline. But when this is true of any Church, it is a shameless abomination for the members of that Church to attempt to hide themselves under the admitted fact that nearly all the Church are involved in the guilt of it.

Now rest assured that when any sin becomes so prevalent that it cannot, and is not made, in that Church, a subject of discipline, God himself will sooner or later take up the rod, and find means to discipline, and that effectually, such a Church.

III. I am to state the duty of those who are in debt.

Here it may be asked again, does the law of love permit my creditor to demand a sacrifice of me? If he loves me as he does himself, why should he require or even allow me to make a sacrifice of property to pay what I owe him? I reply:
Suppose you hold the place of C. A. refuses to make a sacrifice to pay B., and B to pay you. Shall you sin because they do, and involve your creditor in loss and sin? No. Whatever others may do, you are bound to pay your debts. And unless your creditor voluntarily consents to defer the time of payment, you are bound to pay him at any sacrifice.
I do not say that a man should not in any case borrow of one man to pay another. But this I say, that as a general thing, such practices are highly reprehensible. Still, if a debt becomes due, and you have not the money at hand, but are certain that at a given time you shall have it, I do not suppose it wrong for you to borrow and pay this debt, with the understanding that you pay this borrowed money at the time specified. But to borrow money with no other prospect of an ultimate payment than that you can borrow again, and thus keep up your credit from time to time, is wicked.
But here it should be particularly understood what is and what is not to be accounted as giving money away; e.g. it is not giving away your money to pay the current expenses of the congregation to which you are attached. Your proportion of the current expenses of the congregation or Church to which you belong is impliedly, if not expressly contracted by you. You cannot withhold it any more than the payment of any other debt.

The same may be said of the support of ministers and foreign missionaries, and all for whose support the faith of the Church is pledged. It seems to be a common, but erroneous understanding of professors of religion, that what are more generally called their secular debts or obligations are binding, and are to be discharged of course. But that their obligations, expressed or implied, to religious institutions are not so absolutely binding; and of course they can give nothing, as they express it, to these objects until their debts are paid. Now, beloved, you ought to know that to the support of the institutions of religion, you are pledged, both virtually and actually, by your profession, and that these are your most sacred debts, and are thus to be considered and discharged by you. I beseech of you not to consider the meeting and canceling of such demands as these in the light of a gift,--as if you were making God a present instead of discharging a solemn debt. I have been astonished to find that the pecuniary embarrassments of the few past years have so far crippled the movements of the great benevolent societies for want of funds; and that Missionaries, for whose support the faith and honor of the Church were pledged, should be so far cut short of their necessary supplies, under the pretense that the Church must pay her secular debts before she could discharge her high and sacred obligations to them, and the work in which they are engaged.

A creditor has no right to deprive you of necessary food and indispensable raiment, or of your liberty. To do so would put it out of your power ever to pay. But you have no right to indulge in any thing more than the necessaries of life, while your debts are unpaid. To do so is as unlawful as it would be to steal to purchase unnecessary articles.
REMARKS.

1. From what has been said, it is plain that the whole credit system, if not absolutely sinful, is nevertheless so highly dangerous that no Christian should embark in it.

Since the preaching of this sermon, this remark has been censured as a rash one. A rash remark! Let the present history and experience of the Church say whether the credit system is not so highly dangerous that the man who will venture to embark in it is guilty of rashness and presumption. When has religion for centuries been so generally disgraced, as by the bankruptcy of its professors within the last few years? And how many millions of money are now due from Church members to ungodly men that will never be paid? Rash! Why this is the very plea of the Church, that they can do nothing for the support of the gospel, because they are so much in debt. Is there no danger of any man's getting in debt who attempts to trade upon a borrowed capital? Indeed it is highly dangerous, as universal experience shows.

And what is the necessity, I pray, for Christians to embark in so dangerous an enterprise, and one that so highly jeopardizes the honor or religion? Is it because the necessities of life can be procured in no other way? Is it because the institutions of religion demand it? Religion sustains a greater loss through the debts and bankruptcies of Christians, than it ever gains by their prosperity.

But the credit system, as it now prevails and has prevailed, is useless, and worse than useless; e.g. suppose the consumers of merchandise, instead of anticipating their yearly crops and yearly income and running in debt with the expectation of paying from these, were to take a little pains to reverse this order of things and be a year beforehand, paying down for what they purchase, and having the income of each year beforehand, so as to contract no debts. In this case the country merchants, giving no credit, but receiving ready pay, would be able to pay down on the purchase of their goods from the wholesale dealer--the wholesale dealer would pay down to the importer--the importer to the manufacturer--and the manufacturer to the producer.

Now any man can see that many millions a year would be saved to this country in this way. The manufacturer could afford an article cheaper for ready pay--and so could the importer--and the wholesale dealer--and each one in his turn, down to the consumer. Every one could sell cheaper for ready pay, as no risk would be run, and business could be done with much greater convenience and safety. Thus an entire rejection of the credit system, in its present form, and an adoption of the system of ready pay would afford to the consumer every article so much cheaper as to save millions of dollars every year. And I do not apprehend that there is in reality any serious difficulty in so reversing the whole order of business.

At another time I may more particularly examine the credit system in its foundation and various ramifications, and the nature and tendencies of the prevailing system of doing business on borrowed capital. But at present I can only say, as I have said, that, waiving the question whether it is absolutely sinful in itself, it is too highly dangerous to be embarked in by those who feel a tender solicitude for the honor and cause of Christ.

2. That if in any case the present payment of debts is impossible, your duty is to regard your indebtedness as a sin against God and your neighbor--to repent, and set yourself with all practicable self-denial, to pay as fast as you can. And unless you are laying yourself out to pay your debts, do not imagine that you repent either of your indebtedness or any other sin. For you are impenitent, and a shameless hypocrite rather than a Christian, if you suffer yourself to be in debt, and are not making all practicable efforts to do justice to your creditors.

3. If payment is possible, by any sacrifice of property on your part, sin is upon you, till you do pay. There is a wicked custom among men, and to a considerable amount in the Church, of putting property out of their hands, to avoid a sacrifice in the payment of their debts.

As an instance take the eIder whom I mentioned in a former lecture, who confessed to me that "he was avoiding the sacrifice of his property, in the payment of his debts, by finesse of law."

4. The lax notions and practices of the world, and of the Church upon this subject, are truly abominable. It has come to pass, that a man may not only be considered a respectable citizen, but a respectable member of the Church, who suffers himself to be in debt--who has judgments and executions against him, and who resorts not only "to finesse of law to avoid the payment of his debts," but who practices the most palpable frauds against both God and man, by putting his property out of his hands to avoid meeting his just responsibilities.

O shame, on the Church, and on these professors of religion. Some of them will even go to an unconverted lawyer for advice in this iniquitous business, and lay open before his unconverted heart, their shameless iniquity. Alas, how many lawyers are thus led to call in question the whole truth of the Christian religion; and over these dishonest professors, they stumble into hell. And until the Church will rise up and wash her hands, and cleanse her garments from this iniquity, by banishing such persons from her communion, the cause of Christ will not cease to bleed at every pore.

5. Some persons take the ground, that not to meet their contracts and pay their debts when they become due, is not sinful, on account of the general understanding of businessmen upon such subjects. To this I answer,

(1) There is no understanding among businessmen that debts are not to be paid when they become due. Among that class of men the nonpayment of a debt, always involves a disgrace, and a wrong, even in their own estimation.

(2) Let the public sentiment be what it might among businessmen, still the law of God cannot be altered, and by this unchanging law it is a sin to be in debt. And as "sin is a disgrace to any people," it is both a sin and a shame to be in debt.

6. The rule laid down in this text is applicable, not only to individuals, but to corporations, and nations, and all bodies of men assuming pecuniary responsibilities.

7. It is dishonest and dishonorable, to hire or purchase an article and say nothing about payment till afterwards.

8. The violation of this law, is working immense mischief in the Church, and in the world. It is truly shocking to see to what an extent the Church is involved in debt, and Church members are engaged in collecting debts of each other, by force of law. The heart burnings, and bitterness that exist among Church members on account of the nonpayment of their debts to each other, are awfully great and alarming.

Besides all this, in what light does the Church appear before the world--as a mass of moneymakers, and speculators, and bankrupts--shuffling and managing through finesse of law, to avoid the payment of their debts?

I could relate facts within my own knowledge, and many of them too, that would cause the cheek of piety to blush. Alas, for the rage, and madness of a speculating, moneymaking, fraudulent Church!

9. There is great reason to believe that many young men, in the course of their education, involve themselves in debts, that so far eat up their piety as to render them nearly useless all their days. I would sooner be twenty-five years in getting an education, and paying my way, than involve myself in debt to the Education Society or in any other way.

How many young men there are, who are in debt to the Education Society, and who are dealing very loosely with their consciences, on the subject of payment. Because the Education Society do not press them right up, they let the matter lie along from time to time--increase their expenditures, as their income may increase, instead of practicing self-denial, and honestly discharging their obligations to the Society.

10. I cannot have confidence in the piety of any man, who is not conscientious in the payment of his debts. I know some men who are in debt, and who spend their time and their property, in a manner wholly inconsistent with their circumstances; and still make great pretensions to piety. They are active in prayer meetings--take a conspicuous place at the communion table--and even hold a responsible office in the Church of Christ, and yet they seem to have no conscience about paying their debts.

I believe it is right, and the duty of all churches and ministers to exclude such persons from the communion of the Church. And were it generally done, it would go far to wipe away the stains that have been brought by such persons upon the religion of Jesus Christ. I do not see why they should be suffered to come to the communion table, any more than whoremongers, or murderers, or drunkards, or Sabbath breakers, or slave-holders.

11. There must be a great reformation in the Church upon this subject, before the business class of ungodly men will have much confidence in Religion. This reformation should begin immediately, and begin where it ought to begin, among the leading members of the Church of Christ. Ministers and Church Judicatories should speak out upon the subject--should "cry aloud and spare not, but lift up their voice like a trumpet and show Israel his transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins."

And now beloved, are any of you in debt? Then sin is upon you. Rise up, and show yourselves clean in this matter, I beseech you. Make every effort to meet and discharge your responsibilities. And beware that in attempting to pay your debts, you do not resort to means that are as highly reprehensible as to be in debt.

12. Let no one complain, and say that instead of preaching the gospel I am discussing mere business transactions. The truth is, that the gospel is to regulate the business transactions of the world. Religion is a practical thing. It does not consist in austerities, prayers, and masses, and monkish superstitions, as Papists vainly dream. If religion does not take hold of a man's business operations--if it does not reform his daily life and habits, of what avail is it? Until in these respects your practice is right, you cannot expect to enjoy the influences of the Holy Spirit. You cannot grow in holiness any further than you reform your practice.

The perceptive part of the gospel therefore, is to be spread out in all its detail before you. And when you find it "convinces you of sin," I beg of you not to turn around, and say that this is preaching about business, and not about religion. What is business but a part of religion? A man that does not consider it so in practice, has no religion at all.

And now, dearly beloved, instead of suffering your heart to rise up and resist what I have said, will you not as I have often requested, go down upon your knees, and spread this whole subject before the Lord? Will you not inquire wherein you have erred, and sinned, and make haste to repent, and reform your lives?




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The Holy Spirit of Promise
Lecture XIV
August 14, 1839

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Gal. 3:14: "That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."

This text teaches us:

I. That the blessing of Abraham has come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ.

II. It teaches what this blessing is.

III. That it is to be received by faith.


Before I conclude what I wish to say upon the promises, I will notice the relation which the New Covenant sustains to the Covenant made with Abraham. And I am to show:

I. That the blessing of Abraham has come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ.

In the 12th chapter of Genesis, we have the first mention of the covenant which God made with Abraham. In the last clause of the third verse it is said, "In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." In Gen. 17:4, it is written, "As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations," Verse 7, "I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee;" and 18:18, the same promise is noticed again; and 22:18, "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed," and 26:4, the same words are repeated.

Now it should be remembered in regard to the covenant made with Abraham, that there were two things promised. Temporal Canaan or Palestine was promised to the Jews or natural descendants of Abraham. There was also a blessing promised through Abraham to all the nations of the earth. This covenant was not only made with Abraham, but, through his seed, as we shall see, with all the nations of the earth. This was a spiritual blessing, and that which the text says has come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ.

I will quote several other passages to show that this spiritual blessing was intended for, and has come on the Gentiles. In Rom. 4:13, it is said, "For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith." and verse 16, "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed: not to that only which is of the law, but to that which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all." This epistle to the Romans was written to the Gentiles. And the Apostle here expressly affirms that the Gentiles who had faith are of the seed of Abraham, and that he is the father of us all.

Gal. 3:7, 9, 14, 29. "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Here again it is manifest that the Apostle in writing to the Gentiles, expressly includes them in the covenant made with Abraham, and affirms that if they are Christians, then they are "Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." And 4:28, he says "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise." Here then he affirms that the Gentiles are as absolutely within the promise made to Abraham as Isaac was. In Eph. 2:12-22, we have it declared in full that the Gentiles inherit all the promises of spiritual blessings made to Abraham and the fathers--that there is no distinction in this respect between Jews and Gentiles, that all who have faith are entitled to the promises of spiritual blessings. "That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who sometime were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us: Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby; And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God, And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; In whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. I might quote many more passages to the same import, but these must suffice.

II. I am to show what this blessing is.

III. This blessing is to be received by faith. REMARKS.

1. The Abrahamic covenant is not abolished. Nor is it yet fulfilled to all the world. It has been supposed by some that the Abrahamic covenant was fulfilled at the coming of Christ, and was then abolished. This notion arises out of the mistaken opinion that Christ was the particular blessing promised. But it has been shown that Christ was not the thing promised, but that the promise was made to him, and through him to all the nations of the earth. This covenant then is not abrogated nor set aside, nor can it be till all the nations of the earth are blessed by the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. And it is manifest that this covenant not only concerns all the nations of some one generation, but extends its provisions to the end of time.

2. This promise made to Abraham, and all those others founded upon it and promising the same things, are now due, i.e. the time has come when they are to be considered as promises in the present tense. They may now be claimed by the Church for themselves and for all the nations of the earth. These promises were not due in Abraham's day. They were promises to him and to all the Old Testament saints of future good. And it is expressly said of Abraham and of the Old Testament saints that they "all died in faith not having received the promises but having seen them afar off." And again in Heb. 11:39, 40, "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise; God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." Here it is plainly declared that these promises are due to us and available to us in a higher sense than they were to Abraham and the Old Testament saints.

3. The New Covenant so often quoted, and so largely dwelt upon, is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant to those who receive it. It consists in the Holy Spirit taking up his abode in the heart and writing his law there. Let it be understood then that the New Covenant sustains the same relation to the Abrahamic Covenant that the fulfillment of a promise does to the promise itself. The Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant are not identical, but the one is the fulfillment of the other.

4. This blessing of the Holy Spirit is to be received at once, by faith, irrespective of all works. No work whatever, performed without his influences prepares us, in the least degree, to receive him, or at all puts us in more favorable circumstances in respect to our salvation or sanctification.

5. All preparation on our part to receive him and all delay, however earnest we may suppose ourselves to be in seeking and preparing to receive his influences, are only self-righteousness and rebellion--a vain and God provoking attempt to get grace by works and to purchase by our Pharisaical efforts the gift of the Holy Ghost. It does seem to be one of the most difficult things in the world, for the self-righteous spirit of man to understand the simplicity of Gospel faith. He is continually seeking salvation and sanctification by works of law without being aware of it.

6. I have already said that since the seed has come, to whom the promise was made, i.e. Christ, that we are to regard the promise of the universal effusion of the Holy Spirit, as a promise in the present tense, to be so understood, and pleaded, and its present fulfillment urged by the Church. Until the Church come to understand this as a promise actually made to all nations and as having actually become due, and now to be received and treated by them as a promise in the present tense, the Millennium will never come.

When God had promised the restoration of Israel, after seventy years' captivity in Babylon, it is said that Daniel learned by books, i.e. by the prophets, that the captivity should continue but seventy years. At the end of the seventy years therefore he set his face, by prayer and supplication with sackcloth and ashes, to the Lord for the fulfillment of his promise. And he wrestled with God until he prevailed.

When God had expressly promised to Elijah that if he would go and show himself to Ahab he would send rain upon the earth, he regarded the promise, after he had shown himself to Ahab, as in the present tense, as he had a right to do. But he did not expect the fulfillment without prayer. But on the contrary he gave himself to mighty wrestlings with God, and did not leave his knees until the cloud was seen to arise that watered all the land.

So God in the promise of the outpouring of his Spirit in Ezek. 36:25, 27 has added in the 37th verse, "I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them." Now the Church are praying, and have been for a long time, for the Millennium to come, and for the fulfillment of this promise. But let me inquire. Do they understand these as promises now due, which they have a right to plead in faith for all the nations of the earth? It would seem as if they supposed the promise still future, and do not understand that a promise which is due at some specified future time, is ever after that time, to all intents and purposes, a promise in the present tense. And until it is so regarded, and treated, and plead, and the requisite means used for its accomplishment, it can never be fulfilled. Christians seem to pray as if they supposed it questionable whether God's time had come to convert the world. They ask him to do it in his own time and way, &c. Now it should be understood that he has bound himself by a promise to give his Spirit to all the nations of the earth, when the seed to whom the promise was made had come, and prepared the way for the bestowment of the blessing. Now God says, he "will be inquired of by the house of Israel." It is not enough that some one, or some few should understand these promises aright, and plead them. A few can never use a sufficient amount of means to bring about their fulfillment. They must be understood by Christians generally, in their proper import and as being now due, and they must resolve not to hold their peace, nor give God rest until he makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. They must insist upon their fulfillment now, and not consent that it should be put off any longer. Hundreds of millions have gone to hell since these promises have become due, and should have been so regarded and pleaded and means used for their fulfillment. How long shall the Church make it an act of piety and think themselves submitting to the will of God, in letting these promises rot in their Bible while God is waiting to fulfill them, and commanding them not to give him rest until he does fulfill them?

7. The Old Testament saints were saved not by works of law, but by faith in the covenant made with Abraham. In other words Abraham himself together with all that were saved before and after him, under the Old Testament dispensation, were saved by faith in Christ. The ceremonial law was a shadow of the Gospel, and it is expressly said in Gal. 3:8 that, "the Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying in thee shall all nations be blessed." Here then this covenant with Abraham is called the Gospel, a preaching before or foretelling the Gospel to Abraham. The difference then between the old dispensation and the new, does not lie in the fact that under the old dispensation the saints were saved by works, while under the new they are saved by grace. All that ever were saved were saved by grace through faith in Christ. But under the old dispensation the Holy Ghost was neither promised nor enjoyed to such an extent as he is promised and enjoyed under the new dispensation. The thing that Abraham and the Old Testament saints did not receive was that measure of the Holy Spirit which constitutes the New Covenant, and produces the entire sanctification of the soul.

8. Finally. Every individual Christian may receive and is bound to receive this gift of the Holy Ghost through faith at the present moment. It must not be supposed that every Christian has of course received the Holy Ghost in such a sense as it is promised in these passages of Scripture or in any higher sense than he was received by the Old Testament saints who had actually been regenerated and were real saints, of whom it is said, that "they all died in faith not having received the promises." Now it would seem as if there were thousands of Christians who have not received the promises on account of their ignorance and unbelief. It is said that "after we believe we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise." Now beloved the thing that we need is to understand and get hold of this promise to Abraham, and through Abraham to Christ, and through Christ and by Christ to the whole Church of God. Now remember it is to be received by simple faith in these promises. "Be it unto thee according to thy faith." "For it is written the just shall live by faith."




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The Covenants
Lecture XV
August 28, 1839

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Heb. 8:13."In that he saith, 'A new covenant,' he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away."

The more experience I have in preaching the gospel, the more ripe are my convictions, that ministers take it for granted their hearers are much better instructed on religious subjects than most of them really are. They therefore take many things for granted as already understood by their hearers, of which in reality they are ignorant. This sometimes exposes them to misconceptions of what they hear, and often throws them into an unsettled state of mind in regard to the truths they may have heard, so many things having been assumed of which they have no knowledge. From some remarks I have heard, I have thought, that what I have said on the subject of the covenants, has been liable to misconstruction, for want of a somewhat more fundamental examination of the subject of covenants than has been contained in any of my lectures.

In this text and the context, Paul is speaking of the setting aside of the Old Covenant, and the introduction of the New.

In discoursing upon the subject I design to show:

I. What is implied in a covenant.

II. The different kinds of covenants.

III. Some of the principal covenants of God with men.

IV. Which of them are set aside, and in what sense they are set aside.

V. That the New Covenant is the accomplishment of what was proposed by the preceding covenants.


I. I am to show what is implied in a covenant.

II. The different kinds of covenants. III. I will notice some of the covenants of God with men.
This was strictly and properly a covenant of works, and proposed to save him on the ground of his perfect and perpetual obedience to God.
We have an account of the solemn ratification of this covenant, according to the custom of those times by dividing beasts and the parties passing between the pieces, in Gen. 15:8-12, 17: "And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? And he said unto him, take me an heifer of three years old, and a she-goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another; but the birds divided he not. And when the fowls came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away. And when the sun was going down a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and lo, a horror of great darkness fell upon him. And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces." Here the lamp is the symbol of the divine presence. In the 17th chap. we have an account of the seal's being added to the covenant to which Abraham fully consented on his part, by circumcising himself and all the males of his household. This covenant was made with Abraham and with all believers in the God of Israel whether Jews or Gentiles. If they would receive this covenant they were to acknowledge his authority by affixing its seal to themselves and all the males of their household. Thus the proselytes to the Jew's religion, before they were allowed to eat of the Passover, were required to be circumcised with all their males. Ex. 12:48, 49: "And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. One law shall be to him that is home born, and to the stranger who sojourneth among you."
These commandments however were only a part of the covenant as other passages clearly show, Heb. 9:18-20 compared with Ex. 24:3-8.

"Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined upon you." "And Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do. And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace-offerings of oxen unto the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people; and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words." In these passages we learn that every precept of the law was included in the Sinai covenant. In the passage quoted above from Ex. we have a solemn ratification of this covenant, which is mentioned also in the passage quoted from Hebrews. As these are no where called two covenants, and as the law upon the two tables had already been given and was so important in its nature, and is so often itself called the covenant, I conclude that all the laws given at Mt. Sinai were included in this covenant. Upon this covenant I remark:

IV. I am to show which of the covenants are set aside, and in what sense. Now this covenant as a dispensation--as a method of teaching the gospel--as the means of sanctification and salvation, is set aside to give place to the reality or antitype--the fuller and more perfect revelation by Jesus Christ and his Apostles, of which truth, the typical dispensation was only a shadow.

But the moral precepts of this covenant, i.e. those precepts that require what is right in itself, and are obligatory in the nature of things, remain still as a rule of duty in full force. This must be, of course, as the precepts are of the nature of that kind of covenants that cannot be abolished at the pleasure of either or both parties. Nothing is of more importance, than that we should clearly understand in what sense the Old Covenant is done away, and in what sense it is not done away. Those precepts that are typical and ceremonial are now of course not to be observed at all, as the revelation of Jesus Christ, and the coming of the great Antitype has rendered their observance useless and worse than useless. But that the whole substance of the moral precepts, and those that are obligatory on the ground of natural justice, are still binding and of full force and authority, is manifest.

V. The New Covenant is the accomplishment of what was proposed by the preceding covenants.

The thing proposed by the preceding covenants was the sanctification and salvation of man. Now that the New Covenant consists in the accomplishment of this end is evident from the words of the covenant itself. Jer. 31:31-34: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; (which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord;) But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." The thing here promised is sanctification or the writing of the law in the heart. If therefore obedience to law be sanctification, then this is the blessing proposed in this promise of the New Covenant. So far then from the moral law being done away, the New Covenant is nothing else than real obedience to the law. This exactly accords with what the Apostle says in Rom. 8:3-4: "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

REMARKS.

1. The two covenants contrasted by the Apostle, in his epistle to the Hebrews, as the Old and New Covenants,--the first and second covenants, &c., are the Sinai covenant and the one promised in Jer. The Apostle does not here allude to the covenant with Adam or with Abraham. By reading the covenant it will be evident that the covenants contrasted are the Sinai covenant or that which was made with the people when God led them out of the land of Egypt, and the covenant in Jer. 31:31-34, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; (which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord;) But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Heb. 8:7-13; "For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For, finding fault with them, he saith, Behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts, and I will be to them a God, and they shall be my people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away."

In Heb. 9: 18-20 above quoted, he speaks expressly of this covenant, and so refers to the Old Testament, as to render it certain that it was the law given at Sinai, and not the covenant of Abraham of which he was speaking.

2. The New Covenant and the Abrahamic covenant sustain to each other the relation of a promise to its fulfillment. As I said in my last, and have repeated in this lecture, the New Covenant is nothing more or less than the carrying out and fulfilling the covenant made with Abraham.

3. In the light of this subject,the mistake into which those have fallen who maintain that the Abrahamic covenant is repealed may be seen. They confound the Abrahamic with the Sinai covenant, and suppose that the new dispensation abolishes both together. This appears to me to be a sad mistake.

4. From this subject may be seen the error of some of the modern Perfectionists who seem to suppose that the old dispensation, or Sinai covenant, was a covenant of works. They do not seem to understand that it was only a method of carrying out and accomplishing the promises of grace first intimated to Adam immediately after the fall and more fully afterwards confirmed to Abraham. This, as a system of means for the sanctification and salvation of men, has been set aside to give place to a fuller revelation and to the dispensation of the Holy Ghost under the Gospel, retaining at the same time in all its strength, as a rule of duty, the obligation of all the moral precepts. The persons to whom I allude have manifestly mistaken the sense in which the Old Covenant is done away, and understood even the moral precepts to be so abrogated as to be no longer binding. And they seem to be very happy in the idea of being wholly discharged from the obligation of the moral law. Before them the door of licentiousness is fully open, and imagining themselves, as some of them do, to be led by the Spirit to trample upon the great commands of the Decalogue, they most richly deserve and are likely to receive the execration of God and man.

5. The gospel dispensation is not itself the New Covenant, but simply the means of it. The New Covenant, as I have fully shown in my past lectures, consists in the writing of the law in the heart. This is done by the Spirit through the instrumentality of the gospel.

The design of this lecture is merely to guard against the impression that the moral law only is to be regarded as the Old Covenant, as in quoting passages in my former lectures, to show what the Old Covenant was, I confined myself, if I mistake not, to those that spoke of the Ten Commandments as constituting that covenant, without particularly noticing the other parts of the covenant. This I did because my main design in those lectures was to dwell upon that part of the Old Covenant which was to be written by the New Covenant in the heart.

Nothing is more important than that the Church should have just and comprehensive views of the covenant dealings of God with his people. It cannot be too distinctly understood that the Adamic covenant, or covenant of works, is still binding as a rule of duty, but is not the condition of salvation. Also that all the covenants of God with the Church have had for their grand object the bringing of man into a state of complete conformity to the law, under which man was originally placed, and under which he must be placed to all eternity.

With respect to this New Covenant, I remark in a word--that the promise of it has been due for more than eighteen hundred years, and I would solemnly ask, shall it lie in your Bibles till they rot and your souls sink down to hell before you lay hold on the salvation from sin which it promises?




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The Rest of Faith- No.'s 1 & 2
Lectures XVI & XVII
September 11, 1839

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College

LECTURE XVI.

Text.--Heb. 3:19 & 4:1."So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it."

The following is the order in which I will direct your attention.

I. Inquire of whom the Apostle is speaking in this text, and into what it is said they could not enter.

II. Why they could not enter in.

III. Show that temporal Canaan was typical of the rest of faith.

IV. What is implied in this rest.

V. How we may seem to come short of it.

VI. How we may take possession of it.


I. I am to inquire of whom the Apostle is speaking and into what they could not enter.

In this connection the Apostle is speaking of the Jews; and that into which they could not enter was temporal Canaan, as is evident from the context.

II. Why they could not enter in.

It is asserted in the text, that they could not enter into Canaan, because of unbelief. The Jews had arrived upon the borders of the promised land. And Moses deputed a number of individuals as spies, and sent them to spy out the land. They went up and surveyed the land, and returned bringing some of the fruits of the land, and represented to the children of Israel, that it was an exceeding good land, but that it was impossible for them to take possession of it--that the towns and cities were walled up to heaven--that the country was inhabited by giants--and that therefore they were utterly unable to take possession of the land.

In this testimony all the spies agreed except Caleb and Joshua. This discouraged the people and produced a rebellion that prevented that generation from taking possession of Canaan. Their confidence in divine assistance was utterly shaken, and their unbelief prevented any such attempt to take possession of the land, as would otherwise have been made with complete success. The bringing up of the evil report, by those who were sent out to reconnoiter, and their failing to encourage and lead forward the people, were the means of that generation being turned back, and utterly wasted in the wilderness. God was so incensed against them for their want of confidence in his help, and of his ability, and willingness to give them possession, that he "swore in his wrath, that they should not enter into his rest."

III. Show that temporal Canaan was typical of the rest of faith.

It is plain from the context that the Apostle supposes the land of Canaan to have been typical of the rest of faith. The land of Canaan was to have been their rest after their perilous journey from Egypt. In this land they were to have been secure from the power of all their enemies round about. He concludes the third chapter of this epistle, by asserting that "they could not enter into this rest because of unbelief." And he begins the fourth chapter, by exhorting the Jews, to whom he was writing "to fear lest a promise being left them of entering into rest" [the rest of faith,] "any should seem to come short of it." And in the third verse he affirms, that "we who have believed do enter into rest."

IV. What is implied in this rest.

V. How we may seem to come short of it.

The word rendered seem here does not imply what is commonly meant by the English term seem, as if the coming short were only in appearance and not in fact. But from the manner in which it is rendered in other passages, it is manifest that it means to express the actual coming short, as if the Apostle had said, "lest any of you should be seen to come short of it."

Suppose a ship should be bestormed at sea, that all on board is confusion, dismay, and almost despair--the ship is driven by a fierce tempest upon a lee shore. Now suppose that in the midst of all the uncertainty, racking, and almost distracting anxiety of the passengers and crew, a voice should be heard from heaven, they knowing it to be the voice of the eternal God, assuring them that the ship should be safe--that not a hair of their heads should perish--and that they should ride out the storm in perfect safety. It is easy to see that the effect of this announcement upon different minds would be in precise proportion to their confidence in its truth. If they believed it, they would by no means throw up the helm, and give themselves up to indolence and let the ship drive before the waves, but standing, every man at his place, and managing the ship in the best manner possible, they would enjoy a quiet and composed mind in proportion to their confidence that all would be well. If any did not believe it, their anxiety and trouble would continue of course, and they might wonder at the calmness of those who did; and even reproach them for not being as anxious as themselves. You might see among them every degree of feeling from the despair and deep forebodings of utter unbelief, up to the full measure of the entire consolation of perfect faith. Now the design of this illustration is to show the nature of faith, and to demonstrate that entire confidence in God naturally hushes all the tumults of the mind, and settles it into a state of deep repose--that it does not beget inaction, presumption or spiritual indolence any more than the revelation of which I have spoken, would beget inattention to its management on board the ship.
VI. How we may take possession of it.

This rest is to be possessed at once by anchoring down in naked faith upon the promises of God. Take the illustration which I have already given, viz: the ship at sea. Suppose she were dashing upon the rocks, and a voice from heaven should cry out, "Let go your sheet anchor and all shall be safe." Suppose they believed that. With what confidence and composure would they let go the anchor, understanding it to be certain that it would bring them up and that they should ride out the storm. Now this composure of mind, any one may see, might and would be entered upon at once by an act of naked faith. Just so there are no circumstances in which men are ever placed, where they may not enter into rest at once by anchoring down in naked faith upon the promises of God. Let the first six verses of the 37 Psalm be an illustration of what I mean. "Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity: For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday." Now suppose an individual to be borne down by the persecution of his enemies, or to be so situated in his temporal circumstances as not to know what he should do for bread. Let him take hold upon these promises, and peace and rest would flow in upon his mind, and light and joy would spring up like the sun breaking through an ocean of storm.

Take the promise in Isa. 42:16. Suppose the soul to be surrounded with darkness, perplexity, and doubt, with regard to the path of duty, or with regard to any other matter--borne down under a weight of ignorance, and crushed with a sense of responsibility, however deep his agony and his trials may be. Hark! Hear Jehovah saying, "I will bring the blind by a way that they know not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them and not forsake them." Now who does not see that faith in this promise would make the soul in a moment as quiet as a weaned child. It would at once become as calm as an ocean of love.

Take Isa. 41:10-14. Suppose a soul to be under circumstances of great temptation from the world, the flesh and the devil, and ready to exclaim, "my feet are slipping, and I shall fall into the hand of my enemies, I have no might against this host. All my strength is weakness, and I shall dishonor my God." Hark again! Hear the word of the Lord. "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded; they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel: I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. What is here but an ocean of consolation to a mind that has faith?

Now what wait ye for. Anchor right down upon these promises. They can give you instant rest. Nothing but faith is wanting to put you in possession of it. And nothing else than faith can do you any good. There is no need of going around, or waiting to come at this rest by degrees. It is to be entered upon at once. The land may be possessed now in the twinkling of an eye.

I designed to have added several remarks, but as I intend to pursue this subject at another time, I will defer them till then.
 
 

LECTURE XVII.

September 25, 1839

THE REST OF FAITH--No. 2

Text.--Heb. 3:19 & 4:1."So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it."

Upon these words I remark:

1. That this rest, into which they could not enter, had been expressly promised to them.

2. That though no condition was expressly annexed to this promise, yet faith as a condition was necessarily implied; for if they had no confidence in the promise, they would of course neglect the necessary means to gain possession of the promised land.

3. Unbelief rendered the fulfillment of the promise impossible, in as much as it prevented their going up and taking possession when commanded to do so.

4. In my last, I showed that the land of Canaan was typical of spiritual rest or the rest of faith.

5. This spiritual rest is expressly promised, and it is said that some must enter therein, yet faith is an indispensable condition to its fulfillment.

These remarks prepare the way for the discussion of the two following propositions:
I. That faith instantly introduces the soul into a state of rest.

II. That unbelief renders the rest of the soul impossible.


I. Faith instantly introduces the soul into a state of rest.

II Unbelief renders the rest of the soul impossible. REMARKS.

1. Both faith and unbelief are volitions, and are therefore in the highest sense within our reach, i.e. we are in the highest and most absolute sense voluntary in their exercise. It is utterly absurd to say that we are unable to exercise either faith or unbelief. Faith is the mind's acceptance of the truth of God. Unbelief is the mind's rejection of that truth.

2. Faith is indispensable, in moral beings, to all virtue and all holiness in all worlds. Were it not for their confidence in God, how soon would the angels be stumbled at his providence and fall into rebellion. How many myriads of things does God find it necessary to do, the reasons and wisdom of which they cannot at present understand. Faith therefore is as indispensable to their virtue and happiness as to ours.

3. We can see why God has taken so much pains to inspire faith. The great object of all his dispensations, and all his works and ways is to make himself known, and thereby secure the confidence of intelligent creatures. Knowing that their virtue and eternal happiness depend on this, he spares no pains, nay he did not hesitate to give his only begotten and well beloved Son, to secure the confidence of his creatures in his love.

4. We see that unbelief is the most shocking and abhorrent wickedness. Suppose that children should refuse to trust their parents, and casting off all confidence in their goodness and providence, they should refuse all obedience except the reasons for every thing were satisfactorily explained--that neither the wisdom or justice of any requirement or prohibition could be admitted without being made plain in all their relations to their comprehension--that the parent could be trusted for nothing, but that all was distrust and of course murmuring, uncertainty and discontent. Who does not see that any family under the influence of unbelief, would present an image of bedlam, and would be an epitome of hell? What parent would not consider himself insulted in the highest degree, and feel the utmost certainty that his family were ruined, if unbelief should come to be the prevailing principle of action? We naturally feel in the highest degree insulted and outraged, whenever our veracity is called in question. And you can scarcely anger men sooner than to suffer even an incredulous look to advertise them that you doubt their word. And what is there more shocking and offensive among dearest friends than to discover among those we love a want of confidence in us? Let every husband and wife--let every parent and child--every friend that is susceptible of the feelings of humanity, rise up and bear witness. Say, is there any thing within the whole circle of disgusting and agonizing considerations that is capable of inflicting a deeper wound upon your peace, than a discovery of a want of confidence in those you love? It is an arrow dipped in deadly poison. It is unmingled gall. Now how infinitely abominable must unbelief be in the sight of God. What! his own offspring cast off confidence in their heavenly Father! Virtually accusing him of lying and hypocrisy, and proudly disdaining all comfort, and impiously and ridiculously insisting upon every thing being made plain to their understanding so that they can see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and thrust their hand into the wound in their Savior's side, or they will not believe. How must it grieve the heart of God to see such a state of things as this existing in his family? Distrust, and consequent confusion reigning all around, and no painstaking on his part, prevails to secure confidence, and hush the tumultuous elements of conflicting mind to rest.

5. You can see why unbelief is so anathematized in the Bible, as that awful sin against which God has unmasked all the batteries of heaven. The reason is, it is at once the foundation, and implies the whole aggregate of all abominations. It breaks the power of moral government--shuts out the peace of God--lets in the infernal brood of all the abominable passions of earth and hell upon the soul.

6. You who do not enter into the rest of faith may understand your present character and your prospects. Remember that you are in the exercise of this greatest of all infernal sins. Unbelief is the sin and the misery of hell. It is the sin and misery of earth. Why do you harbor such an infernal monster in your bosom? It is as hideous and frightful as the Apocalyptic beast with seven heads and ten horns, and as full of curses as the seven last plagues.

7. How strange that unbelief is so seldom reckoned as sin. When professors of religion and impenitent men are enumerating their sins, they almost never consider unbelief as the foundation and cause of all their other sins. In confessing their sins to God, if at all sensible of unbelief, they seem to whine over it as a calamity, rather than confess and mourn over it as a crime. While this is so, and unbelief is neither understood nor repented of as a sin, there is no prospect of a reconciliation between God and the soul.

8. Faith is the most simple and easy exercise of the mind conceivable. It is one of the earliest and most frequent exercises of the human mind. It is one of the first exercises that we witness in little children. Confidence in those around them seems to be as natural to them as their breath. The admirable simplicity, sincerity, and confidence of little children in their parents and those around them, are truly affecting, and afford a beautiful illustration of the wisdom and goodness of God. This confidence which is so natural to them is indispensable to their well-being in almost every respect. Now confidence in God differs nothing in kind, so far as the philosophy of mind is concerned, from confidence in parents. While the little child knows nothing of its wants, present or future, nothing of its dangers, and has no idea of any other wants than what its parents can supply, it rests in peace, confiding in its earthly friends for all its necessities. But as soon as he learns how little confidence can be placed in men, and that its necessities are far-reaching beyond the power of any human arm, its confidence in its parents can no longer keep the soul at rest. Hence:

9. For those who will not believe there can be no remedy. Salvation to them is a natural impossibility. Under the wings of unbelief are congregated and sheltered the whole brood and catalogue of the miseries of earth and hell. Nothing but faith can be a remedy for their accumulated evils. At the bidding of faith the whole congregation of abominations break up and are scattered to the winds of heaven. But to the influence of nothing else can the mind yield itself up, that will relieve its anxieties, dissipate its forebodings, and lull it into sweet repose upon the bosom of the blessed God.

10. How few have faith enough to enter into rest. In my last I assigned several reasons why the Church does not enter into the rest of faith. It is perfectly obvious upon the very face of the Church that very few of her members have entered into rest. They are filled with nearly the same cares and anxieties as other men. This is a great stumbling block to the world, and they often inquire what is religion worth? They see their professedly Christian friends, as restless, and fretful, and uneasy as themselves. What then, they inquire, can religion be?

11. The great mass of the Church have just conviction enough to make them even more miserable than worldly men. They have so much conviction of sin, and of the reality of eternal things, as to render it impossible for them to enjoy the world, and, having no faith, they do not enjoy God. Consequently they are really destitute of all enjoyment, and are the most miserable of all the inhabitants of earth; i.e. their inward unhappiness is great, often beyond expression or endurance. They are so miserable themselves, as to make all around them unhappy. I know a woman who is little else than a bundle of disquietudes. I scarcely ever saw her five minutes in my life without her falling into a complaining strain of herself or somebody else. Every thing and every body are wrong. And whenever any one thinks she is wrong, it is because they do not understand her. I have several times thought, it might well be said of her, she is of all women most miserable. It would seem that she cannot be made to see that the whole difficulty lies in her unbelief, but full of uneasiness about the present, and forebodings as to the future, blaming every body, and blamed by every body, she seems to be afloat upon an ocean of darkness and storms.

12. It seems almost impossible to make those who are filled with unbelief understand what is the nature of their difficulty. They often have so much conviction as to think that they believe. You tell them to believe, they tell you they do believe. They seem not to discriminate at all between intellectual conviction, and the repose of the heart in the truth.

13. You can see the desperate folly, wickedness, and madness of infidelity. Infidels seem to imagine that if they can get rid of the impression of the truths of Christianity, can persuade themselves that the Bible is not true--and thus shake off their fears and sense of responsibility, they shall be happy. O fools and blind. What utter madness is in such conclusions as these! For in exact proportion to their unbelief is their desperate and incurable misery. An immortal mind with all its immortal wants and desires, launched upon the ocean of life and crowded forward without the possibility of annihilation--covered with complete ignorance and darkness with regard to the past--a veil of impenetrable midnight stretched over all the future--winds and waves roaring around him--rocks and breakers just before him--no helm--no compass--no star of hope--no voice of mercy--nowhere to rest--no prospect of safety--not a point in the wide universe on which the mind can repose for a moment. Considered in every point of view, infidelity is the consummation of madness, of folly, and of desperate wickedness.

14. If you, to whom this rest is preached, fail to enter in because of unbelief, a future generation will enter in. The Apostle says, "It remains that some must enter in." The promise in regard to the Church that some generation shall enter in is absolute. As it respects individuals, whether you or your children, or some future generation shall enter in, must depend upon your or their exercise of faith. The contemporaries of Moses did not enter into temporal Canaan because of their unbelief but the next generation took possession of it through faith.




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Affections and Emotions of God
Lecture XVIII
October 9, 1839

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Hosea, 11:8."How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? my heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together."

In discoursing upon this text I design to show,

I. That God is a moral agent.

II. That He really exercises all the affections and emotions ascribed to Him in the Bible.

III. That it is a real and great grief to Him to abandon sinners to death.

IV. That they really compel Him to do so.


I. I am to show, that God is a moral agent, i.e. that he possesses and exercises the powers of moral agency; intelligence, will, conscience and all those susceptibilities that lay the mind open to the full force of motives. That he is such an agent, I infer,

II. God really exercises all the affections ascribed to him in the Bible. III. It is a real and great grief to God to abandon sinners to death. IV. Sinners really compel God to give them up.

I know that this statement is very diverse from the common opinions of men, for they argue merely from the omnipotence of God that he can save them if he will. And they never ask the question whether under all the circumstances of the case, he can wisely will to save them. Under this head, I remark,

Here it may be objected, that in the parable of the marriage the king is represented as ordering his servants to go out and compel people to come in. But this is only a moral compulsion--such a degree of argument and persuasion, that, as it were, constrains the sinner to come without at all interfering with his freedom.
REMARKS.

1. It is a great and ruinous error to suppose that the declarations of scripture, with regard to the moral feelings of God are mere accommodations to human weakness.

(1) Because it is denying the nature of God.

(2) It is denying his whole moral character.

(3) It is representing him as a hypocrite.

He professes such feelings, and what shall we say if he does not possess them? When he professes to love his creatures, are we to understand that he does not really love them, but that he merely acts as we do when we love? But why does he act so? How are we to understand him as feeling? If this language does not mean what it says, what does it mean? He really ought to exercise benevolence, and he professes to exercise it. And are we to be told that his professions are a mere empty boast--an accommodation to human weakness? But it probably will not be denied that He really loves. If this be admitted, then all the other affections and emotions ascribed to him, must necessarily be exercised by him. They are the very modifications that ought and must exist in view of the objects presented to the mind of God. So that if God does not really exercise these affections and emotions, he is not only a hypocrite, but is in all other respects infinitely far from his duty. If therefore it be maintained, that the moral feelings ascribed to God, are mere accommodations to human weakness, it must also be denied that God is love or benevolence. And that to deny this is a ruinous and damning error needs no proof.

2. To maintain that the representations of the moral feelings of God in the Bible are only accommodations to human weakness, is to represent him as a mere intellect or abstraction, and consequently destitute of every thing that ought to or can engage our love.

3. It is cutting off all possible sympathy between us as moral beings and God. If God be not a moral being with moral attributes and feelings, we can have no sympathy with him--can neither know, nor love, nor worship him any more than we could Juggernaut.

4. It is to render all true religion impossible. The man that has an idea that these declarations are mere accommodations to human weakness, can certainly have no true knowledge of God, and consequently no true religion. If God be not what the Bible represents him to be, then what is he, and who knows him? If these are not his real feelings then we are infinitely mistaken about his character. If these are not his feelings and this his character, then we know not what they are.

5. If these are not the real feelings of God, then we have no true revelation of God. If these passages of scripture do not mean what they say, it is impossible for us to tell what they do mean. And if God has not, in these passages, discovered to us the real state of his heart, we know nothing of his heart. But the truth is, that these passages speak the same language with all his works. It is plain that his works and word are one continuous and complete system of revelation. And the same great gushing heart of love is everywhere manifest. And to maintain that the Bible declarations instead of meaning what they say, are mere accommodations to human weakness, amounts to the affirmation that all God's ways, and works, and word are a stupendous system of hypocrisy and deception.

6. The representing of the scriptures as an accommodation to human weakness, is an overlooking and denying a principal design of the incarnation of Christ. One of the grand objects Christ had in view was to reveal to us the heart of God. Now that which we see in Christ, are the very feelings of the mind of God. Did Christ exercise these feelings in reality, then God exercises them, and so does every other holy mind, that has a knowledge of the same facts.

7. But it may be objected that we ought not to ascribe human feelings to God. I answer, we ought to ascribe feelings the same in kind to God, that holy men have. Wicked human feelings are by no means to be ascribed to God. But holiness in men is just what it is in God.

8. But again it is objected that God is not man that he should repent. I reply, that repentance may mean emotions of sorrow, or it may mean a change of mind. God never changes his mind, but often, nay always, exercises emotions of sorrow; for objects that ought and must excite these emotions, in a holy mind, are always present before him.

9. Again it is objected, that if these things are so, God cannot be happy. I answer that all these feelings ascribed to God, when combined are perfect happiness. I don't know how to make this plainer than by borrowing an illustration from the prismatic colors produced by the sun's rays. Let a pencil of the sun's rays be thrown upon a prism, and, as you doubtless know, the rays will be so refracted as to exhibit all the colors that exist in nature. Now when these rays are separated, it is found that none of them are white, yet when combined their brightness is ineffable. Just so with the feelings of God. Separate his moral feelings, and no class of them would be unmingled happiness, yet when combined they are infinite happiness.

10. Again it is objected that this view of the subject really implies change in God. I answer, No. For God has always known and felt what he now knows and feels. He has no new knowledge. All events have been eternally present to him. He has always known, and felt, and enjoyed just what he now knows, and feels and enjoys.

11. God enters fully into all the relations between himself and his creatures. I mean that he enters into these relations with all his heart and all his soul. He is feelingly alive to them all. It should ever be remembered that he is not a mere abstraction, an intellect without volition, emotion or sympathy. But his feelings are infinitely intense. So that every object in the universe, every creature, every want, every woe, every sorrow, and every joy, enkindle in his mind just that feeling in kind and degree, which the nature of the thing is calculated to excite.

12. In Christ he has the most perfect sympathy with us. From many parts of scripture, it is manifest that one great design of the incarnation was to create a sympathy between God and men. Having been in the flesh, Christ has been "tempted in all points like as we are." He was made perfect by suffering and temptation, so as to be able to succor all those that suffer and are tempted.

13. It is objected that if God really exercises anger, he is wicked. I answer, No. His anger is a benevolent anger. It is not selfish or malicious or a disposition unjustly to inflict pain. But it is the holy indignation of a good and gracious sovereign against those who would injure the interests, disturb the tranquility, and mar the happiness of his obedient subjects.

14. This view of God's character is that which renders God acceptable to creatures like us. We have the advantage of approaching him knowing that he has the feelings and heart of a father. A guilty son knows that a father's heart can be reached, when the bosom of a stranger could not be approached or moved by his tale of woe. And however guilty this son may be, if he knows that his father is good, he is assured that in his heart, he shall find a powerful advocate to plead his cause. So a wandering rebellious sinner, may, like a returning prodigal, approach God with the certainty that a father's heart, and a father's love will yearn over him, and if it be within the reach of possibilities, will save him from deserved destruction.

15. They don't know God who don't conceive of him as a moral being, exercising in reality those feelings ascribed to him in the Bible. Indeed if they conceive any thing else of God, they are as far as possible from knowing the true God, and might as well worship Juggernaut as the being whom they call God. He is a moral agent to all intents and purposes, exercising perfectly in kind, and infinitely in degree, all the affections and emotions of a moral being. As such we can form rational, though inadequate conceptions of him--can approach him with confidence--can sympathize with him in his efforts of benevolence. Our minds can commune with his mind--and our hearts beat in unison with his heart. We can enter into his desires and purposes, and efforts, and in short, we can be assimilated to him. But make any thing else of God, and we do not, cannot, ought not to love or worship or obey him.

16. How aggravated in God's sight must sin appear, to induce him with such feelings as he has to give his own offspring up to eternal death. We can conceive of a father banishing forever a beloved son, because his depravity has become so great, that his banishment from the family becomes indispensable. Yet the conduct of that son must be very aggravated to induce a father to do this, and to justify in the estimation of the other members of the family such a course. So sin, in its tendency and in its contagious nature, must be an abominable thing to induce a God who could give his own son to die for sinners, after all to give them up to go to hell.

17. The depravity that can wear out such love as this, and actually carry matters so far as to compel God to send the very sinners for whom Christ died to hell, in order to preserve the universe of moral beings from destruction, must be horribly great. Sinners, think what you do. God has made you voluntary agents, and made it an unalterable law of your being, that you shall be free, and responsible for the use of your freedom. And now, in the exercise of this liberty, you place God under circumstances where with all his love, he is obliged to send you to hell as a less evil than to let you go unpunished.

18. How strongly will the universe approve of the dealings of God in destroying sinners forever. When all that he has done and suffered for them shall pass in full review in the solemn judgment before the assembled universe--his providential kindness--the giving of his Son--the influences of his Spirit--all his long suffering shall be subjects of distinct consideration. What a spirit of most deep and perfect acquiescence will be felt by all the holy, when the Judge pronounces the sentence: "Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels."

19. It will be a delightful consideration to God and all the saints, that God has done all the nature of the case admitted, to save sinners and they would not be saved.

20. From this and many other texts, it appears that God feels compelled, and actually does give sinners up. And now remember that when he feels constrained to do this by you, your case is as hopeless as if you were already in hell. And remember that you are in danger of it every moment that you persist in impenitence. Nay, perhaps some of you are already given up. If so I have no expectation that either this or any other sermon that I could preach to you would do you any good.

Finally. Let all who have sinned, and who are sensible of their guilt, return immediately to God. Take the parable of the prodigal son, and consider well the thrilling truths there communicated.

And now I conjure you, to conceive of God as he really is, a being who not only knows but pities, and deeply yearns over you with all the feelings of a heart of infinite sensibility. Go pour out your tears, your prayers, your confessions, your souls before him; and his heart shall rejoice over you, and his soul be moved for you to do you infinite good.




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Legal and Gospel Experience
Lecture XIX
October 23, 1839

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Ps. 40:1-3."I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord."

Many of the Psalms should be regarded as inspired diaries, and as such they are most important way-marks to the Christian. The diaries of other men may mislead us. But when we find our experience to accord with that of inspired men, and with those parts of their experience which were recorded by the Spirit of God, we may be sure that we are in the same path in which they traveled to heaven. The 119 Psalm, together with many others, are manifestly of this character. They are as if the Psalmist had set up way-marks all along the pathway to heaven, and by recording his own experiences as on the milestones along the way, had given us the advantage of being certain whether or not we are in the way that inspired men have trodden.

I regard the text as an instance of this kind, wherein the Psalmist, after having passed through severe trials of mind, records both his trials, and deliverance for the benefit of all succeeding ages.

I will discuss this subject in the following order.

I. Inquire what we are to understand by the horrible pit of miry clay.

II. Show what is implied in waiting patiently for the Lord.

III. Show what is implied in being brought up out of the horrible pit of miry clay.

IV. What is implied in having his goings established.

V. Notice the consequences of this experience.


I. What we are to understand by the horrible pit of miry clay.

It should be observed that this is certainly figurative language. It cannot be supposed that the Psalmist had literally fallen into a pit of clay. But he had been in circumstances that might be aptly represented by this analogy. Although language is figurative, it must have a meaning. And generally it is not at all difficult but exceedingly easy to understand figurative language. The figure here used implies,

Commentators have had numerous conjectures with regard to the Psalmist's meaning in these verses. It were worse than useless to recapitulate them. It is possible that something connected with his worldly circumstances might have been under his eye, when the Psalmist wrote these verses. But to me it appears plain that he designed to describe his own experience, first in a state of legal bondage, and then his passage from that state into the liberty of the Gospel. This language is so perfectly suited to such an experience, that probably no one who has had this experience will doubt that this was his design. This experience is familiar to all those, and only to those, who have passed from legal bondage to the liberty of faith. It appears to me to describe the same experience in a more condensed form as that in the seventh chapter of Romans. The latter part of the seventh contrasted with some of the first verses in the eighth chapter, appear to me to exhibit an experience similar to the one before us.

A selfish soul, whether a backslider or an impenitent sinner, when attempting to serve God is really guilty, and is condemned for every act, and every attempt to serve God, while in a wrong state of heart. The law requires pure and perfect love, and every selfish act and effort is the direct opposite of the requirements of the law. Whether from hope or fear, whether from the lashings of conscience or any other consideration than love, he attempts obedience, he is condemned, and the law utters its thunders, and holds him guilty, and worthy of eternal death.

Now it often comes to pass that backsliders and the unconverted, for they are both actuated by the same motives, and are equally under condemnation, it often comes to pass I say, that they have too much conviction to be at all satisfied with anything they do, and yet they are too much distressed to do nothing. They see and feel themselves condemned even for their prayers, and yet they will cry for mercy. They drive in this and that direction, and lay hold on every shrub or bush within their reach to pull themselves out of the pit, and yet their guilt and condemnation is increasing every moment they live. They read, and pray, and go to meeting, and stay at home, and think, and meditate, and seek, and strive, and yet they see and feel themselves condemned for all their striving and efforts, because supreme selfishness is at the bottom of them all. Such a soul finds itself ready to resolve and re-resolve, and heap up resolutions almost without end, but his resolutions are yielding as air before every breath of temptation, because they are made in the face of an antagonist principle. And selfishness is found to sweep away as a dam of sand all those resolutions and efforts, by which an attempt is made to withstand its influence. The truth is that in all such cases, selfishness is at the foundation of all those resolutions and efforts, and while the heart is in this state nothing but a dreadful delusion can keep the mind from seeing that it is in a horrible pit of miry clay--that turn which way it will--that do what it may, while selfishness remains, the guilt is increased by every act, and the soul is sinking more and more deeply under condemnation and wrath at every step. This is truly a desperate situation. To give up effort, the soul in this state will not, and to make such kinds of efforts is worse than useless, in as much as every one of them is sin, and increasing his condemnation. In this state of mind, for an individual to praise the Lord is entirely out of the question.

It appears to me that no figure could more perfectly describe a state of total bondage than this. Convicted of sin, yet having no love to God--influenced by fear and not by faith or love, struggling and agonizing, yet sinking deeper in guilt and condemnation every moment. This is indeed a horrible pit of miry clay.

II. What is implied in waiting patiently for the Lord.

I do not think this waiting upon the Lord implies an anchoring down in faith upon the promises of God, for this would at once remove the anguish of the mind. But it means rather the cry of distress almost despairing, and yet so much hope remaining as to encourage a vehement crying to the Lord.

If it be objected that God answers none but the prayer of faith, it should be remembered that there is a sense in which he hears and answers other prayers than these. He hears the cry of the little ravens, and the young lions when they lack for food. And Christ, when on earth, heard and answered the prayer of devils when they pleaded that they might not be sent out of the country, but might be suffered to go into the herd of swine. God's ear is always open to the cry of distress, and where there is no good reason why he should not, he may and doubtless does often hear, and in some sense answer the prayer of those whose moral character he abhors. I do not believe that God has anywhere laid himself under an obligation to answer any but the prayer of faith. And yet I cannot doubt that he often hears the cry of souls in distress and brings deliverance to those in legal bondage.

III. Show what is implied in being brought up out o[ the horrible pit.

This is an affecting figure. The language is peculiar. God is here represented as having his attention arrested by some distant cry of distress. A soul has fallen into a horrible pit, and lifts up his voice and cries. "Help! O God, help!" But receiving no answer he cries again. "Help! O my God, help!" Here God's attention is arrested. The cry comes into his ear. He is represented as stooping down--"he inclined unto me." He is represented as inclining in the direction of the cry, and holding himself in the attitude of intense listening. Again the cry breaks upon his ear, "Help! O my God, help!" And then hastening as upon the wings of the wind, he bows the heavens and comes down, and lifts the soul up from the horrible pit of miry clay. This language implies,

IV. What is meant by having his goings established.

This is also a figure. He is represented as being set upon a rock, not to slip immediately off, or to be swept off by the first wave of temptation, but as having his footsteps established upon the rock. This implies,

V. The consequences of this experience.
I once knew an infidel whose only and beloved daughter was in great distress of mind. He observed it and became exceedingly anxious about her, and was proposing to send her out of the city to divert her mind, and restore her former gaiety of disposition. At this crisis he was prevailed upon, by a pious lady in his family, to let his daughter attend an anxious meeting. She came, gave her heart to God and returned in great peace. As soon as her father saw her the next morning, he was struck with the change in her countenance. It was so manifest as almost to overcome him. He said to his wife, that their daughter was greatly altered, and cried out to his daughter with tears, "O you cannot love me anymore if you have given your heart to Christ." I have seen many cases where the change was so great in the very countenance as to tell the whole story more forcibly than any words could do, and it might well be said "they looked unutterable things."
REMARKS.

1. Great multitudes of souls are in the horrible pit of miry clay. From my own observation, I am convinced that the great mass even of those who are called the most pious in the churches, are in a state of legal bondage, and have gone no further in religion than to find themselves in a state of almost continual condemnation. They have conviction enough to make them miserable. They are driven and dragged by their consciences and the law of God--are struggling and resolving, but are under the influence of so much selfishness as to be continually crying out, as in the case supposed by the Apostle in the seventh of Romans, "When I would do good, evil is present with me." "I find a law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity." "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

2. They seem not to expect to get out of this state. The seventh of Romans has been so perverted as to be a great stumbling block to many souls in this state of mind. They seem to understand the Apostle as speaking of himself as he was at the time he wrote the epistle. And thinking it not to be expected that they should advance further than an inspired Apostle did, they get the idea that they must and shall live and die in that state. I have often thought it was most unhappy that the seventh and eighth chapters were separated. If persons would read attentively the whole of the seventh and eighth chapters in their connexion, they might see the drift of the Apostle's reasoning. I apprehend he merely supposed a case for the purpose of contrasting the influence of the law and of the gospel upon the mind. Now whether this is so or whether he spoke of his own experience, it is certain that the same individual who in the seventh chapter is represented as being under the bondage of law, of sin, and death, is in the beginning of the eighth chapter represented as being brought into an entirely different and opposite state of mind. The same individual who could complain in the seventh chapter as being in such horrible bondage, as being a slave sold under sin, could break forth in the beginning of the eighth chapter and say, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

3. They do not take a course that can ever bring them out. They are striving to get grace by works of law, instead of taking hold at once by naked faith upon the promises of God.

4. They form no right conception of the state of mind in which they may be when the power of lust and every temptation shall be broken. They expect therefore to live and die in the pit of their own filthy lusts. And if they do so die, they are sure to go to hell.

5. Many are in the horrible pit, but are fast asleep. They are dreaming that they are awake and they are fancying themselves upon the rock, while they are almost suffocated in the mire of their own filth, and are ready to sink down to hell.

6. Will you consider how much more inexcusable you are for remaining in this pit one moment than the Psalmist was? There are thousands of promises now that had never been written in those days. It is now also the dispensation of the Spirit. You are surrounded with so much more light, have such a full and perfect revelation, and indeed are so circumstanced in every respect as to render you infinitely guilty for remaining there one moment.

7. Those who are delivered will abound in praise. Their hearts and lips are full of praise. It is a new song. Praise is as natural as their breath. That has happened to them which is foretold in the prophet, "He shall appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified."

Sometimes I have known those under legal bondage, [to] rebuke those who were full of praise reminding them that they had something else to do--that they had better be praying for sinners than praising and rejoicing. But let all such persons remember that this new song of praise often does more on the one hand to rouse the careless to fear, and on the other to encourage the desponding to hope, than could be effected by any other means.

8. From this subject we can see how it may be known who are delivered--they who have "the new song in their mouth, even praise to our God."

9. You can see the importance and the effect of testifying your joy before the Church and the world. The Psalmist says, "I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation; I have not concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth from the great congregation."

10. Many may wonder and despise, and perish. Nevertheless let all who have experienced the loving-kindness of the Lord, say with the Psalmist in another place, "Come all ye that fear the Lord, and I will tell you what he has done for my soul."




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How to Prevent Our Employments
from Injuring Our Souls
Lecture XX
November 6, 1839

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Rom. 12:11: "Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord."

In remarking upon this subject, I design to show:

I. That idleness is inconsistent with religion.

II. That all persons are bound to pursue some lawful employment.

III. That they are to be diligent in their calling whatever it is.

IV. How to prevent employments, either secular or spiritual, from becoming a snare to the soul.


I. Idleness is inconsistent with religion.

II. All persons are bound to pursue some lawful employment.

This is a plain inference from what has already been said.

But what is a lawful employment? This is an all-important question, in answer to which I observe,

It is generally admitted, that ministers are to be specially called of God to the work of the ministry. But all men are to be equally devoted to God, and all employments are to be pursued equally for the glory of God. Every faculty, every day, and moment of all men are to be devoted to the Lord. And all men are equally bound to consult the will of God in the selection and pursuit of their employments. And no man can give himself up to employments to which he is not called of God, or to which he does not really believe himself to be called of God, without thereby apostatizing from the service of God. Now every one of you would say that if a minister should select the ministry to please himself he would lose his soul. This is equally true of every other employment.
III. Men are to be diligent in their calling. IV. How to prevent secular or spiritual employments from being a snare to the soul.

It has come to be a subject of almost universal complaint, that our employments lead us away from God. Men complain of their cares, and having so much business on their hands as to secularize their spirit--blunt the edge of devotional feeling--and more or less insensibly, but certainly to draw off their hearts from God. And those who are engaged in intellectual and even spiritual occupations, such as teachers of science and teachers of religion, are by their employments apt to fall into an intellectual and hardened frame of mind, and to wander far from God. It seems to be understood that there is a kind of necessity in the case, and that we are naturally unable to attend to the various duties and callings incidental to our relations in this world without secularizing our spirit, and annihilating a devotional state of mind. Now to suppose there is any necessity for this result is to charge God foolishly. He has never placed us here surrounded with these necessities to be a snare and a curse to us. On the contrary, all the employments that are strictly lawful, instead of being a snare, are indispensable to the highest development of our powers, and to the growth and consummation of our piety. The whole difficulty lies in the abuse of a thing eminently wise and good. That the facts are according to the general complaint cannot be doubted. Men really are ensnared by their employments. But why? Many seem to suppose that the only way to maintain a spiritual frame of mind is by a total abstraction from those employments, in which it seems to be necessary for men to engage in this world. It was this conceit that led to the establishment of nunneries and monasteries, and to all those fanatical and odious seclusions from society that have abounded among the Papists. The truth is that the right discharge of our duties to God and man, as things are, is indispensable to holiness. And voluntary seclusion from human society and abstracting ourselves from those employments by which man may be benefited, are wholly inconsistent with the principles and spirit of the Christian religion. So did not Christ nor the Apostles. They were eminently active, zealous and useful, in promoting the glory of God and the good of man, in every way in their power. It is a desideratum, therefore, in religion, to understand the secret of making our employments, whatever they are, the means of increasing instead of destroying our spirituality. A great deal needs to be said upon this subject. I can now only say the following things, and may at a future time, if God permit, resume the subject.

REMARKS.

1. God calls you to no employment in kind or amount, that is inconsistent with entire holiness of heart and life. Whenever you find therefore that your employment really prevents your walking wholly with God, something is certainly wrong. Either your employment is unlawful in itself, or if in itself a lawful one, it is that to which you are not called, or you have taken too much upon you, or too little, or your motives have become wrong. There is utterly some fault in you. Make a solemn pause then as on the very brink of eternity, and inquire after and remove the stumbling blocks out of the way. If it be a right hand or a right eye give it up in a moment, as you love the ways and dread the wrath of God.

2. God never calls you to any business and withholds the necessary grace for the perfect discharge of your obligations. If grace be sought as it ought to be and constantly will be, while your motives are right, it will not be withheld.

3. But if God calls you to a business and you become selfish in it, it is no longer acceptable to him, and your pursuing it with a selfish heart is an utter abomination to him. I fear it is not an uncommon thing for young men who suppose themselves to be called to the gospel ministry, in the course of their preparation, to become cold, and ambitious, and any thing but holy. And yet they persevere, because they dare not go back, and relinquish their course. They are sensible that they are away from God, but believing themselves to have been called to the work of the ministry, they feel as if they must go forward, partly lest they should lose their reputation with men, and partly because they fear the displeasure of God, while they know that as a matter of fact, their hearts are not right with him. And thus they go through their classical studies, hoping that when they enter upon theology, their studies will be of such a character as to make them holy. But coming as they do, in such a state of heart, to the study of theology, they are only hardened more rapidly than before. But finding this to be the case does not deter them from going forward. They think that now they must make up their opinion on various points of doctrine, and that when they have settled all these things, and entered upon the active duties of the ministry, then they shall be aroused to a better state of feeling. But the hardening process still goes on. So that by the time they are through their course their hearts are like the nether millstone. They are all head and no heart--all intellect and no emotion. In this state they come to the active duties of the ministry, and woe to the Church that shall employ one of them. They might as well place a skeleton in their pulpit, for he is but the shadow of a minister, and not the substance. He has the bones but not the marrow and life, and spirit of the Gospel.

4. No man has a right to undertake so much business, for any compensation whatever, as to interfere with his hours of devotion. In cases where persons labor by the day, or month, or year, allowance should always be made in the prices they receive, for sufficient time and opportunity for devotional exercises. They have no right to exact or receive such wages as to render it necessary for them to give up all their time to labor nor ought their employers to expect them to encroach, under any pretense whatever, upon those hours appointed to secret communion with God.

5. There is great danger of a diligence in business, which is inconsistent with fervency of spirit in serving the Lord.

6. From my own observation, I am persuaded that there is a great error in requiring too much study of young men who are preparing for the ministry. There is such a great cry for a learned ministry--so much stress is laid upon a thorough education--and so much competition among Colleges and Seminaries, as to present a great temptation to Instructors to push the intellectual pursuits of young men to the utmost, and even beyond the utmost limit of endurance.

Now while I am in favor of a thorough education, I do not and cannot believe, with the facts as they exist before me, that the great difference in the usefulness of ministers depends on their being learned men in the common acceptation of that term. Human science, by itself, never made a useful minister, and wherever human science is pushed beyond its proper limit, and made to encroach upon the hours and spirit of devotion--wherever the spirit of human science, instead of the Spirit of God, comes to be that fountain at which a man drinks, he may become in the language of men, a great man, but he will never be a good minister. Until there is a great change upon this subject--until the great effort of the teachers is to make their pupils pious as well as learned, and they are more anxious, and take more pains to effect the former than the latter, our Seminaries can never send out efficient ministers. To require diligence in study, without requiring fervency of spirit--to concern ourselves more that our students have their lessons than that they walk with God--that they commune with Cicero, Horace, and Demosthenes, rather than with God--for us to satisfy ourselves every day in relation to their intellectual progress, and pay little or no attention to the state of their hearts, is an utter abomination, and teachers who do so, whatever other qualifications they may have, are unfit to have the care of young men.

7. When you find yourselves proceeding in any employment without prayer for direction, support, and guidance, you may rest assured that you are selfish, and however diligent you may be, you may know that you are not fervent in spirit serving the Lord.

8. The speculations of the last few years have so secularized the Church as to annihilate her power with God. She has in reality, been engaged in gambling under the pretense of making money for God. In doing this multitudes of leading Church members have involved themselves and the cause of Christ in great embarrassment and disgrace. And it does seem as if they were deranged in their spasmodic efforts to enrich themselves.

9. No amount of money can save or even benefit the world in the hands of a secular Church. If professors of religion had made all the money they have endeavored to make, and did they possess a universe of gold, it would do nothing towards converting the world, while the very spirit and life of the Church is secular, earthly, sensual and devilish.

10. No idle person can enjoy communion with God, for the plain reason, that his idleness is perpetual disobedience to God.

11. The Apostle has commanded that they who will not work (i.e. who are idle) shall not eat. If persons are able to pursue, and can find any employment, by which they can benefit mankind, and are idle, it is no enlightened charity to feed them.

12. If idle persons eat, they cannot digest their food. It is an unalterable law of God, that men shall perform some kind of labor. This is essential to the well-being of their body and mind. Idleness is as inconsistent with health as it is with good morals. So that if men will be idle, they must suffer the penalty of both physical and moral law.

13. You see from this subject the great importance of training children to habits of industry, and of early imbibing their minds with the spirit of continually doing something that is useful.

14. Every one can do something to glorify God, and in some way benefit mankind. He can labor with his hands, or his head, or his heart--he can work, or teach, or pray, or do something to contribute his share to the common stock of good in the universe. It is the language of a sluggard, to complain that you can do no good. The truth is that if you have a spirit to do good, you will certainly be trying to do good.

15. If we do what we can, however little, it is just as acceptable to God, as if we could do a thousand times as much. "If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what a man hath and not according to what he hath not." Christ said of the poor widow who cast in her two mites, she has cast in more than the rich, who of their abundance cast in much. It is well if you have a heart to do a great deal more than you are able to do. It is that which you really would do for which Christ gives you credit, and not for that which you are really able to do. It is according to the largeness of your heart, and not according to the weakness of your hands that God will reward you.

16. Not one of the employments that are essential to the highest good of mankind, has any natural and necessary tendency to alienate the heart from God. By this, I do not mean that the perverted state of the human heart, is not such that it is natural for it, being in a state of selfishness, to take occasion to depart from God in these employments. But I do mean, that the real tendency of all these employments, to a mind not given up to selfishness, is to increase and perpetuate the deepest communion with God.

17. There is no excuse for a secular spirit. And, as I have already said, whenever your spirit is secular, your heart is selfish.

18. If you have been called of God to any employment, and have become selfish in it, it has become an abomination to God, and you are bound to abandon it instantly or to renounce your selfishness, and diligently pursue your employment for God. By this, I do not mean that you would do right to abandon the employment to which God has called you, but that if you will not repent, and be "fervent in spirit serving the Lord," you are as far as possible from pleasing him in pursuing your business selfishly. If God be not with you, in any employment, whether it be study, the ministry, merchandise, farming. or any thing else, if God does not go with you in it you are certainly out of the way, are bound to reform, to turn instantly and wholly to the Lord, and go not a step forward until you have evidence of the Divine acceptance.

19. Lastly, let me ask you solemnly, beloved, have you some employment, in which you are endeavoring, honestly and fervently to glorify God? What is your employment--in what manner do you pursue it--with what design--in what spirit--and what is its effect? Do you as a matter of fact, find yourself walking with God, and does the peace of God rule in your heart? Or is there some ingredient in your business, that vitiates the whole? Are you dealing in some article of death--are you poisoning your fellowmen for the glory of God? Are you a Real-estate or a Multi-caulis speculator? Are you pursuing some scandalous traffic for some selfish purpose?

O that the Lord may search you, and pour the gaze of his eye through and through your inmost soul. And if your hands are clean, may the blessing of the Lord, that maketh rich and addeth no sorrow, be multiplied to you a thousand fold. But if you are out of the way, may he lay his reclaiming, sanctifying hand upon you, and not suffer you to rest till all you have and are, are wholly devoted to the Lord.




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Grieving the Holy Spirit- No.'s 1 & 2
Lectures XXI & XXII
December 4, 1839

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College

LECTURE XXI.

Text.--Eph. 4:30."Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."

In this discussion, I shall pursue the following order.

I. Show that the Holy Spirit can be, and often is grieved by men.

II. How and when He is grieved.

III. The consequences of grieving the Holy Spirit.


I. The Holy Spirit can be, and often is grieved.

II. How and when the Holy Spirit is grieved.

Before I enter upon this head of my discourse, I wish to make several remarks.

With these remarks, I am prepared to notice some of the many ways in which the Holy Spirit is grieved.
But do you say I do not profess to be a Christian? Then I reply, you are never likely to be a Christian in such company. You might as well expect to be weaned from habits of intoxication by sitting in the barroom with drunkards or while holding communion with a pipe of brandy, as to expect to become religious surrounded with such companions as these.
But perhaps you are not a professor of religion. Then I ask, Why are you not? And I add that you probably never will be, unless you make a false profession, if you are in the habit of indulging in vain conversation. Do you expect the Holy Spirit to strive with you, and wait upon you day after day, month after month, and year after year, while you keep up your incessant and senseless babble, regardless of his solemn presence, his awful holiness, and of his great and infinite love and desire to get your serious attention that he may save you?
But again let me say that many neglect to do things when and as they ought to be done. Now it is certainly a part of religion to do everything incumbent upon us at the right time and in the right manner, and any and every negligence in this respect is sin. Have you an appointment to meet a neighbor at a particular hour for the transaction of business; be there at the moment, lest you hinder him and all others associated with you in the affair. Is there an appointment for a Church or any other religious meeting, for worship or the transaction of business; be there at the moment, lest you interrupt or hinder the business or devotion of others. Have you engaged to do any thing for your neighbor or for any man or woman on earth, see that you do it just when and as it ought to be done. And in short, no man can keep a conscience void of offense--no man can fulfill the law of love--no man can abstain from grieving the Holy Spirit but by a most faithful and constant discharge of every duty to God or man.
But there are so many ways in which the Holy Spirit may be grieved, that I must resume the subject, and also show the consequences of grieving the Holy Spirit in my next.

 

LECTURE XXII.

December 18, 1839

GRIEVING THE HOLY SPIRIT--No. 2

Text.--Eph. 4:30."Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."

In continuing this subject, as proposed in my last, I remark.

There can be no forsaking sin without confessing it. And as there can be no repentance without forsaking and no forsaking without confessing, it follows that without confession there is no salvation. It is enough to confess secret sins or sins committed only against God and known only to him, to God. But sins against our fellow men must be confessed to them. And refusing or neglecting to do so is to cover sin, in which case we are expressly informed that we shall not prosper. Many people seem to be afraid to confess their sin, or to have others confess, lest religion should be injured thereby. But this is so far from being true, that it is doubtful whether a case ever occurred in which a full and frank confession of sin committed against a human being was not more honorable than dishonorable to Jesus Christ. The more aggravated the circumstances and the deeper the shame of him who confesses, the more striking and honorable is the contrast between the spirit of Christ and the spirit of the world.

It is said that a certain minister in New England, in the transaction of business with an infidel lawyer, was thrown off his guard and manifested a spirit of anger which led the infidel to boast in his absence that he had always believed that man to be a hypocrite. But they had been separated only a short time before the minister followed the lawyer to his house and made the most humble and heartbroken confession of his sin. This greatly moved and confounded the lawyer, insomuch that he exclaimed with great emotion as soon as the minister has left the house, "Now I know that there is something in the religion of Christ. That spirit is not of this world. It is the very opposite of anything that has its origin on earth."

I doubt not that many persons who feel as if they ought to confess are really afraid to confess, for fear they shall injure religion. I have often heard doubts expressed by wise and good men, in regard to the expediency of confessing sins against our fellow men, so as to have the world or even the Church come into possession of the facts. But with the express declarations of the Bible on this subject what right have we to talk about expediency or inexpediency, as if we were wiser than God in regard to the results of doing what he requires? Human expediency would no doubt have concealed the to confess, for fear they shall injure religion. I have often heard doubts expressed by wise and good men, in regard to the expediency of confessing sins against our fellow men, so as to have the world or even the Church come into possession of the facts. But with the express declarations of the Bible on this subject what right have we to talk about expediency or inexpediency, as if we were wiser than God in regard to the results of doing what he requires? Human expediency would no doubt have concealed the crimes of Moses and David, the Patriarchs, and the disciples, and Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. But God has recorded them to be read and known of all men. And who does not see and has not felt that this very fact of the inspired writers' recording their own and each other's faults, is a most unequivocal demonstration of their honest humility and Christ-like spirit?

Many individuals abound much in confession, while they live on in their abominable course of conduct. Now remember that God has nowhere said, that he who merely confesseth his sins shall find mercy, but he who "confesseth and forsaketh, shall find mercy." And now do some of you stare at me as if I expected, as if God expected, that you would really forsake your sins and sin no more? Be sure this is demanded and expected of you, and your confessions, if you will not forsake, are an utter abomination. Hear that Deacon pray. Perhaps this is the nine hundred and ninety-ninth time he has confessed his lukewarmness, unbelief, and worldly-mindedness without the shadow of a reformation. What do you mean? Are you insulting God and trying to palm off your confessions upon your Maker? What shallow hypocritical confessions are those that are not followed by reformation! Suppose your neighbors and those indebted to you should attempt to satisfy you with confessing often to you, instead of walking right up to the discharge of their duty. How long think you, would you be imposed upon or suffer yourself to be insulted by such confessions as these?

And how can you help seeing that your confessions under such circumstances are among your greatest sins? Now when you confess again suppose you should tell God the honest truth, and when you have gone through with your confessions say right out, "O God, I pray thee to accept these confessions instead of reformation, for I protest unto thee, I do not seriously intend to reform." You would be shocked at such language as this and so would those that heard you. But who does not know that this is exactly the truth, and nothing but hypocrisy prevents your seeing and saying it right out! O from how many prayer meetings and closets is the Spirit of God grieved utterly away by abundant confessions, when there is no forsaking sin.

It is astonishing to see the amount of self-indulgence, and that too which is greatly injurious both to body and soul which is practiced even by professors of religion. Multitudes of families seem to be given up to the gratification of their appetites. To get something that is good to eat takes up a great part of their time, employs a great portion of their thoughts, and seems to be the principal object for which they live.
One of the greatest delusions under which men labor, is that at some future time it will be more convenient for them to attend to the claims of God, than at the present. Could you visit hell to-day, and inquire among all the groaning millions of its inhabitants, how they came there, the answer in almost every case would be; procrastination ruined my soul. I never intended to die in my sins; but on the contrary always intended, at a future but not far distant time, to repent. Millions will tell you that they had purposed from time to time to attend to the salvation of their souls, but had continued to defer it until death plunged his arrow into their hearts and they went to hell.
I say the more on this subject because the impression seems to be almost universal that preaching should not be personal, and consequently a kind of public sympathy is excited if anyone complains that the preaching had a personal application to him. And many individuals, if they are pierced by an arrow of truth, instead of repenting before God, go about and complain as if they thought they were abused. They consider themselves rather as persecuted than as being seriously called upon to repent. Their business seems to be rather to repel an injury, than to confess and forsake a fault. By this I do not mean to justify harsh and abusive language or any unreasonable attacks upon the character or conduct of individuals or classes of men either public or private. But I do mean to say, that if when your faults are pointed out in love, if the reproof is not more public than your sin, or the nature of the case demands, you are so far from having any right to complain, that you may be sure you grieve the Spirit of God, if you do not accept the reproof with all thankfulness of heart.
These are some of the ways in which the Holy Spirit is grieved. Let these serve to direct your thoughts to a thorough inquiry in regard to whether in these or in other respects you are grieving the Holy Spirit.

III. The consequences of grieving the Holy Spirit.

REMARKS.

1. To grieve the Holy Spirit is great presumption. You are in danger every moment you persist in it of being given up forever. Remember there is a point, beyond which forbearance in God would not be a virtue. Long suffering as he is, he will bear with you no longer than is consistent with the public good. When the children of Israel had repeatedly grieved the Holy Spirit in the wilderness until they came upon the borders of the promised land, and were commanded to go up and take possession, through unbelief they began to murmur, and went not up. This one instance of rebellion, added to those that preceded it, was too much for divine forbearance. And God is represented as lifting up his hand and taking a solemn oath "that they should not enter into his rest." Now take heed therefore lest you sin once too much. Are you not convinced from what I have already said that you have often grieved the Holy Spirit? Have you not often done it in many of the ways I have mentioned as well as in innumerable ways I have not mentioned? And now dare you do it again? If you do it may be found to be true that you have grieved the Spirit once too much to be forgiven.

2. From this subject you can see the great forbearance of God. How many of you have grieved the Holy Spirit for days and for months and perhaps for years! How wonderful that God should spare you. He sent his ministers--his written word--his providences, and to no effect. Finally he came himself by his own Spirit, and has been abused by you in a thousand ways. And even now perhaps you are indulging some sin that grieves him almost beyond endurance. If you persist you do it at the peril of your soul.

3. You see how to account for the blindness of great multitudes of professors of religion. Many of you can see how to account for your own hardness and blindness of mind, both you who are in and you who are out of the Church.

4. You see why so many persons often pray for the influences of the Holy Spirit and yet do not receive his influences. It may be and doubtless often is because they have grieved him entirely away.

5. Again it may be, and doubtless often is true that many pray for the Holy Spirit who are continually grieving him by the indulgence of some lust or by the neglect of some duty, or in some way doing that or indulging that which is so offensive to the Holy Spirit that he will not abide with them.

6. You can see from this subject, that the Holy Spirit when he comes to many is like the "wayfaring man, that tarrieth but for a night." His visits are short and far between. The fact is their lives, and tempers, and habits are such, that for them to dwell with God or he with them is out of the question.

7. Many ministers seem to have grieved him away. Their ministry seems to be entirely barren. They preach, and pray, and perform other duties without unction, and of course without success. And while they continue their round of efforts, it is plain to the spiritual members of their Church that they have not the Holy Spirit. Their conversation during the week is not in heaven. Their preaching on the Sabbath has in it any thing but the spirit, power and demonstration of the Gospel.

Sometimes they seem to be sensible that they have grieved the Spirit. Some years since, a young man who had been several years in the ministry came to me for advice, saying that he had grieved the Holy Spirit when studying theology, since which time he had never enjoyed his presence, consequently his ministry was barren. His soul was shut out from God, and he felt that he must abandon the ministry, as God had rejected him in consequence of his sin. A Christian brother, some months since, related to me another fact, worthy of all consideration by ministers of the gospel. An elderly minister made this confession in a revival of religion, into the midst of which he was providentially brought. Said he, "When I was young and for years after I entered the ministry, the Spirit of God was with me. A divine unction attended my preaching. I was instrumental in promoting several revivals of religion. But finally on account of pecuniary considerations I was led to change my field of labor. For this the Spirit departed from me. After this my ministry was barren and my soul was as the barren heath. The heavens became brass over my head and the earth iron under my feet. Thus many years have passed over me. Still the Spirit of the Lord has not returned."

8. This subject will enable us to account for the present state of so great a number of the professed ministers of Christ. The barrenness of their ministry--the worldliness of their spirit--their bitterness, and jangling, and prejudice, and every thing that so much wounds and disgraces Christ.

9. Let us all take warning lest any of us while we think we are standing, should suddenly and hopelessly fall. Beloved, let us walk softly before the Lord, and look narrowly into all our ways. Let us see wherein we have been and are grieving the Holy Spirit.

And now let us all go down upon our knees, and confess our infinite guilt, in having, in so many ways and for so long a time, grieved the Holy Spirit, "whereby we are sealed unto the day of redemption."




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GLOSSARY
of easily misunderstood terms as defined by Mr. Finney himself.
Compiled by Katie Stewart

    Complacency, or Esteem: "Complacency, as a state of will or heart, is only benevolence modified by the consideration or relation of right character in the object of it. God, prophets, apostles, martyrs, and saints, in all ages, are as virtuous in their self-denying and untiring labours to save the wicked, as they are in their complacent love to the saints." Systematic Theology (LECTURE VII). Also, "approbation of the character of its object. Complacency is due only to the good and holy." Lectures to Professing Christians (LECTURE XII).

    Disinterested Benevolence: "By disinterested benevolence I do not mean, that a person who is disinterested feels no interest in his object of pursuit, but that he seeks the happiness of others for its own sake, and not for the sake of its reaction on himself, in promoting his own happiness. He chooses to do good because he rejoices in the happiness of others, and desires their happiness for its own sake. God is purely and disinterestedly benevolent. He does not make His creatures happy for the sake of thereby promoting His own happiness, but because He loves their happiness and chooses it for its own sake. Not that He does not feel happy in promoting the happiness of His creatures, but that He does not do it for the sake of His own gratification." Lectures to Professing Christians (LECTURE I).

    Divine Sovereignty: "The sovereignty of God consists in the independence of his will, in consulting his own intelligence and discretion, in the selection of his end, and the means of accomplishing it. In other words, the sovereignty of God is nothing else than infinite benevolence directed by infinite knowledge." Systematic Theology (LECTURE LXXVI).

    Election: "That all of Adam's race, who are or ever will be saved, were from eternity chosen by God to eternal salvation, through the sanctification of their hearts by faith in Christ. In other words, they are chosen to salvation by means of sanctification. Their salvation is the end- their sanctification is a means. Both the end and the means are elected, appointed, chosen; the means as really as the end, and for the sake of the end." Systematic Theology (LECTURE LXXIV).

    Entire Sanctification: "Sanctification may be entire in two senses: (1.) In the sense of present, full obedience, or entire consecration to God; and, (2.) In the sense of continued, abiding consecration or obedience to God. Entire sanctification, when the terms are used in this sense, consists in being established, confirmed, preserved, continued in a state of sanctification or of entire consecration to God." Systematic Theology (LECTURE LVIII).

    Moral Agency: "Moral agency is universally a condition of moral obligation. The attributes of moral agency are intellect, sensibility, and free will." Systematic Theology (LECTURE III).

    Moral Depravity: "Moral depravity is the depravity of free-will, not of the faculty itself, but of its free action. It consists in a violation of moral law. Depravity of the will, as a faculty, is, or would be, physical, and not moral depravity. It would be depravity of substance, and not of free, responsible choice. Moral depravity is depravity of choice. It is a choice at variance with moral law, moral right. It is synonymous with sin or sinfulness. It is moral depravity, because it consists in a violation of moral law, and because it has moral character." Systematic Theology (LECTURE XXXVIII).

    Human Reason: "the intuitive faculty or function of the intellect... it is the faculty that intuits moral relations and affirms moral obligation to act in conformity with perceived moral relations." Systematic Theology (LECTURE III).

    Retributive Justice: "Retributive justice consists in treating every subject of government according to his character. It respects the intrinsic merit or demerit of each individual, and deals with him accordingly." Systematic Theology (LECTURE XXXIV).

    Total Depravity: "Moral depravity of the unregenerate is without any mixture of moral goodness or virtue, that while they remain unregenerate, they never in any instance, nor in any degree, exercise true love to God and to man." Systematic Theology (LECTURE XXXVIII).

    Unbelief: "the soul's withholding confidence from truth and the God of truth. The heart's rejection of evidence, and refusal to be influenced by it. The will in the attitude of opposition to truth perceived, or evidence presented." Systematic Theology (LECTURE LV).