"The Oberlin Evangelist"
Publication of Oberlin College

Sermons and Lectures given in 1843
by
Charles G. Finney
President of Oberlin College

Public Domain Text
Reformatted by Katie Stewart
 

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

HOLINESS OF CHRISTIANS IN THE PRESENT LIFE

Lecture I. Prove All Things

Lecture II. Nature of True Virtue

Lecture III. Selfishness

Lecture IV. Christian Character

Lecture V. Christian Warfare

Lecture VI. Putting on Christ

Lecture VII. Way to Be Holy

Lecture VIII. What Attainments Christians May Reasonably Expect to Make in This Life

Lecture IX. Necessity and Nature of Divine Teaching

Lecture X. Fulness There is in Christ

Lecture XI. Justification

Lecture XII. Unbelief

Lecture XIII. Gospel Liberty
______________________

Lecture XIV. Joy in God

Lecture XV. The Benevolence of God

Lecture XVI. Revelation of God's Glory

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


HOLINESS OF CHRISTIANS IN THE PRESENT LIFE --No. 1
Prove All Things
Lecture I
January 4, 1843

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--1 Thess. 5:21: "Prove all things: hold fast that which is good."

In speaking from this text, I remark,

1. That it enjoins the duty of fundamental and thorough inquiry on religious subjects. It requires us to know the reason of our faith and practice, that our piety may not be superstition, but the result of intelligent conviction, arising from thorough investigation.

2. In order to fulfill this requirement, the mind must be free from prejudices on religious subjects. So long as prejudices exist in any mind, it is impossible that it should examine religious opinions with any such spirit as will admit of obedience to this precept. All its views will be perverted just in proportion as it is uncandid and prejudiced.

3. This precept assumes the fact of our ability to "prove all things." The ability to comply with any requirement is always implied in the requirement. Otherwise the command is unjust.

4. This precept implies the necessity of correct information on religious subjects. The sentiment that it is immaterial what our opinions are, seems to prevail extensively among men, but it is plainly a mistake. Men can never be expected to remain rooted and grounded in the truth any farther than their opinions are true. All observation and experience prove this, and such is the concurrent representation of the Bible.

5. This command is given to all; not merely to ministers, but to laymen and women. Each is required to examine for himself, and to call no man master, so as to receive his "ipse dixit" as authoritative. It requires each one to know for himself the reasons of his faith.

6. The great mass of mankind don't love to think closely. They would prefer to do almost any thing else. They are like school-boys who shun the labor of study, and go to be taught without having studied their lesson. What they are told they forget before the next recitation.

7. I shall address myself, in this lecture, to those, and those only, who will be at the trouble to think. To address others would but be a waste of time and strength. Those who will not think cannot be saved.

8. I will neither spend my time, nor endanger your souls, by random exhortation and appeal, but strive to follow the spirit of the text.

9. My object is not controversy; I hope wholly to avoid its spirit, and, as far as possible, even its form. On the contrary, it will be my object as far as possible, to present what I honestly believe to be the truth to the consideration of the honest and truth-loving.

10. There is but little obedience to the requirement in the text, and as a consequence great ignorance and error prevail on many questions of fundamental importance. There are very few who can give any rational account of what constitutes sin and holiness, moral obligation, or human responsibility.

11. The terms which represent the attributes of Christian character, or what are commonly called the Christian graces, are almost never rightly defined. The definitions which are given scarcely ever represent the right idea, for example, of love, faith, repentance, self-denial, and humility. It is manifest that but few know how to define them. Why? Because they have not complied with the requirement of the text. And because these attributes of holiness are not rightly defined, they are misunderstood, and the result is that they are not exhibited in the lives of Christians. We see one picture drawn in the Bible, and quite another in real life. The former is beautiful and glorious, the latter--how sadly deformed. Why? Because the mass are mistaken, and mistaken as the result of incorrect views respecting the nature of true piety.

12. The distinction between natural and revealed theology should be understood and appreciated. Indeed, it is fundamental to an understanding of the Bible, for the Bible both assumes the truths of natural theology, and that we understand them; for example, that we exist, the existence of God, our moral agency, natural ability, the distinction between right and wrong, &c. We do not, therefore, and can not rightly understand the Bible, unless we understand the fundamental truths of natural theology, which are taken for granted in the Bible.

13. Natural theology consists in those truths that we may learn from the book of nature. God has presented us with two books--that of nature, and that of revelation, and they are equally authentic, and mutually confirmatory of each other.

14. The Bible not only assumes, and in various ways confirms the truths of natural theology, but adds many truths not discoverable by unaided reason, but which are recognized as truths as soon as suggested.

15. Many err in supposing that because a truth is seen to be such in the light of its own evidence, when suggested, therefore it might have been discovered without inspiration. There are plainly multitudes of truths revealed in the Bible, which men could never otherwise have discovered, but which, now that they are discovered, are seen to be perfectly reasonable. It is one thing to apprehend and recognize truth, when made known, but quite another thing to discover it.
 

I bespeak your prayers and attention, while I proceed to show,

I. How we know any thing.

II. How we know every thing which we do know.

III. Some things which we know about ourselves, the truth, and our knowledge of which, are taken for granted by inspiration.


I. How we know any thing.

II. How we know every thing which we do know. III. Some things that we know about ourselves, the truth of which, and our knowledge of which are taken for granted by inspiration.
Hence by directing the attention to any given subject upon which you wish to think, thought is the necessary result. So if you abstract the attention from an object upon which you do not wish to think you thus indirectly abstract the thoughts from it. Even children know this with absolute certainty. So with feeling of every kind. We are conscious that we cannot directly feel by willing to feel. Suppose, for example, we wish to call into being the feelings of love, hope, fear, joy, or sorrow. We are conscious that we cannot, by direct willing, create these feelings, or even modify them. But, nevertheless, we are conscious that we can indirectly regulate the feelings to a great degree. For example: If we wish to experience the emotions produced by the beautiful, we turn our attention to a beautiful object, and the emotions arise of course. On the contrary, by turning our attention to an offensive object, we can indirectly produce disagreeable emotions in our own minds. The same law operates respecting all religious feelings. They can to a very great degree be regulated indirectly by the will through the attention, but never directly.

 

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HOLINESS OF CHRISTIANS IN THE PRESENT LIFE --No. 2
Nature of True Virtue
Lecture II
January 18, 1843

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Rom. 13: 8-10: "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another; for he that loveth another, hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."

Text.--Gal. 5: 14: "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

In this lecture I propose to show,

I. What is intended by the term love.

II. That the thing intended is the whole of virtue.


I. What is intended by the term love.

It is of the utmost importance to understand the bible meaning of the term love. It is represented in the text, and the Bible generally, as the substance of all religion, and the only preparation for heaven. What can be more important?

The truth is, it often consists with the most fiendish wickedness, as also with the highest irreverence. Persons in this state of mind often seem, in conversing about Him, in their prayers to Him and in every way to regard and treat God merely as an equal. I have often thought how infinitely insulting to Him their conduct must be. Again this fondness is consistent with any degree of self-indulgence. In direct connection with its exercise, persons often show themselves to be the perfect slaves of their appetites and passions. They undoubtedly feel their fondness, but do they love? They say they love, but is their love benevolence? Is it religion? Can that be religion which puts no restraint on the appetites and passions, or only curbs some of them, while it cleaves the more tenaciously to others? Impossible!
II. Benevolence is the whole of virtue. REMARKS

1. It may be said that the Bible represents our words, thoughts, and outward actions as virtuous. Answer;

(1.) The Bible makes all virtue strictly speaking to consist in love, and it cannot be inconsistent with itself.

(2.) Words, thoughts, and outward actions are and can be virtuous only in the sense of their being manifestations of benevolence.

(3.) The same may be said in regard to words, thoughts, and actions that are called wicked. The Bible says that 'the ploughing of the wicked is sin.' Words, thoughts, and actions are holy or sinful in no other sense than that they indicate the state of the will. A word! What is a word? A breath--a motion of the atmosphere on the drum of the ear. Can this have moral character in itself? No, but it may be an index of the state of mind of him who utters it.

2. See the infinite importance of understanding that benevolence always and necessarily manifests itself--consisting in choice it is naturally impossible that it should not.

3. See the spurious nature of any religion which does not manifest itself in efforts to do good. Such religion is mere antinomianism. It may be some kind of happiness, but religion it is not.

4. All the attributes of Christian character must belong to the will, just as all God's moral attributes are only modifications of benevolence. They are not modifications of emotion, but of will. His justice in sending the wicked to hell is as much a modification of benevolence, as is his mercy in taking the virtuous to heaven. He does both for the same reason, because the general good equally demands both. So with all that the true Christian does.

5. How false and dangerous are the usual definitions of these attributes. For example: Love is spoken of as a mere feeling. Hence religion is represented as, at one time, like smothered embers, scarcely in existence; at another, in a slight glow, which may be fanned till it breaks out into flame. Now this is not the love which the Bible requires, since it is nothing but mere feeling, and even if legitimately produced, it is only the natural and constitutional result of religion, and not religion itself.

Repentance is also spoken of as mere sorrow for sin, but instead of this, it does not consist in feeling at all. It is a change of mind. As we say, when we have made up our mind to do one thing, and then change it, and do the opposite, we say in popular language, "I changed my mind." This is the simple idea of repentance. It is an act of the will, and sorrow follows it as a result. So faith is represented as the conviction of the intellect. But this cannot be faith, for the Bible every where represents faith as a virtue, and it must, therefore, be an act of the will, and no mere belief whatever. It is a committing of the soul to God. The Bible says Christ did not commit Himself to certain persons, for He knew what was in them, that is, He did not trust or exercise faith in them. The word rendered commit here, is the same as that rendered faith. Peter says, 'Commit the keeping of your souls to Him in well doing as to a faithful Creator.' When the mind apprehends the true meaning of the characteristics and relations of Christ to the world, this is often mistaken for faith. But the devil may have as good faith as that. This is a mere perception of truth by the intellect, and is, as a condition, indispensable to faith, but it is no more faith itself than an act of the intellect is an act of the will.

So humility is represented as a sense of guilt, and unworthiness. Now, Satan is doubtless humble if this is humility, and so is every convicted sinner, by a natural necessity. But humility is a willingness to be known and esteemed according to your true character. These illustrations will show how dangerous are the mistakes prevalent respecting the attributes of Christian character.

6. There is no such thing as religion, not in exercise. Persons often talk as though they had some true religion about them, although they are conscious of exercising none. They have a good enough religion to be sure, but it is not in operation just now. Now this is a radical mistake.

7. How many persons are living on frames and feelings, and yet remain perfectly selfish.

8. Many are satisfied with no preaching but such as fans into existence certain happy emotions. These are a kind of religious epicures. Whenever we preach so as to lay bare the roots of selfishness and detect its secret workings, they are not fed. They say this is not the gospel, let us have the gospel. But what do they mean by the gospel? Why simply that class of truths that create and fan into a flame their emotions. And those who most need to be searched are often most unwilling to endure the probe. They make their religion to consist in emotions, and if these are taken away what have they left? Hence they cling to them with a death grasp. Now let me say that these emotions have not one particle of religion in them, and those who want simply that class of truths which fan them into existence are mere religious epicures, and their view of the gospel is sheer antinomianism. If the world were full of such religion it would be none the better for it.

9. Religion is the cause of happiness but is not identical with it. Happiness is a state of the sensibility and of course involuntary, while religion is benevolence and therefore powerful action.

10. Men may work without benevolence, but they cannot be benevolent without works. Many persons wake up occasionally, and bluster about, get up protracted meetings, and make mighty efforts to work themselves into a right state of feeling by dint of mere friction. But they never get a right spirit thus, and their working is mere legality. I do not mean to condemn protracted meetings,nor special efforts to promote religion, but I do condemn a legal engaging in these things. But while persons may work without benevolence, it is also certain that if they are benevolent they will work. It is impossible that benevolence should be inactive.

11. If all virtue consists in the ultimate intention, then it must be that we can be conscious of our spiritual state. We certainly can tell what we are aiming at. If consciousness does not reveal this it cannot reveal any thing about our character. If character consists in ultimate intention, and if we cannot be conscious what this intention is, it follows necessarily that we can know nothing whatever about our own character.

12. We can see what we are to inquire after in our hours of self-examination. Our inquiry should not be how we feel, but for what end we live--what is the aim of our life.

13. How vain is religion without love. Those who have such a religion are continually lashed up by conscience to the performance of duty. Conscience stands like a task-master, scourge in hand, points to the duty, and says it must not be omitted. The heart shrinks back from its performance, but still it must be done or worse evil endured. The hesitating soul drags itself up by resolution, to fulfill the letter of the requirement, while there is no acquiescence in its spirit, and thus a miserable slavery is substituted for the cheerful obedience of the heart.

14. I must close by saying that benevolence naturally fills the mind with peace and joy. Mind was made to be benevolent, and whenever it is so it is in harmony with itself, with God and the Universe. It wills just as God wills, and therefore it naturally and cheerfully acts out His will. This is its choice. It is like some heavenly instrument whose chords are touched by some angelic hand which makes music for the ear of God. But on the contrary, a selfish man is necessarily, from the very nature of mind, a wretched man. His reason and conscience continually affirm his obligations to God and his universe, to the world and the Church. But he never wills in accordance with it, and thus a continual warfare is kept up within. His mind is like an instrument untuned and harsh. Instead of harmony, it renders only discord, and makes music only fit to mingle with the wailings of the damned.




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HOLINESS OF CHRISTIANS IN THE PRESENT LIFE --No. 3
Selfishness
Lecture III
February 1, 1843

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Texts.--Hos. 10:1: "Israel is an empty vine; he bringeth forth fruit unto himself."

In this passage the Lord complains of the selfishness of Israel; and it is my present design to show,

I. What selfishness is not.

II. What it is.

III. That it cannot co-exist with holiness in the same mind.

IV. Mention some evidences of selfishness.

V. That one form of it is as inconsistent with salvation as another.


I. What selfishness is not.

II. What selfishness is.
The way is now prepared to state directly what selfishness is.
III. Selfishness and holiness cannot co-exist in the same mind.
I may add that benevolence and selfishness regard and treat every perceived interest in the universe, in an order exactly the opposite of each other. Benevolence regards God's interests first, and aims at his glory as the supreme good; next the well being of the universe; then of this world; afterwards of its own nation; then of its own community; next of its own family; and lastly of itself. Now selfishness exactly reverses all this. The selfish man places self first, and regards his own interest as supreme; then he regards the interest of his family and special friends, but only so far as supreme devotion to himself on the whole prompts; next he regards his own community or city in opposition to all other communities and cities, whenever their interests clash; then he regards his own nation, and is what men call very patriotic, and would sacrifice the interests of all other nations, just as far as they interfere with his own; and so he progresses till finally, God and his interests find the last place in his regards. That this is so, is a simple matter of fact as every body knows, and how then is it possible that these two opposite choices should co-exist in the same mind? Believe it, who can.
IV. Several evidences of selfishness.
"Chains him and tasks him,

And exacts his sweat with stripes,

That mercy, with a bleeding heart,

Weeps when she sees inflicted on a beast."

Who does not regard such a supposition, when fairly stated, as downright blasphemy, and who would not reject the Bible as a gross imposition, if it really did thus contradict itself and belie its pretended author.

V. One form of selfishness is as inconsistent with salvation as another.

Remember that selfishness consists in obeying the propensities, appetites, passions, and desires.--This devotion to self gratification developes itself in a great variety of ways without changing its character. With one, one propensity predominates, with another, another. One for example is an epicure. His desire for pleasant dishes predominates over everything else, and he does not value money only as it contributes to his gratification. Another is a miser, and is entirely too much devoted to the desire of wealth to be an epicure. Indeed, he thinks his ruling passion contemptible. One is fond of dress, and values money only as it contributes to the gratification of this desire. This is his form of selfishness. He thinks of it all the year round, and labors with his eye on self gratification in this form. Right over against this, another is fond of power or influence to such an extent as to wonder that any can be fond of such a trifling gratification as dress affords. But he is as much enslaved by his desire of power as the other by his devotion to dress, and is equally selfish. Again, some are so fond of reputation, as to do anything that public sentiment requires, rather than to fail of popularity. This is their form of selfishness.--Their reputation is preferred to the well-being of the universe. But others have such a large development of some appetite or passion as to sacrifice reputation for it. For example: the drunkard.--He regards his appetite for intoxicating drinks above everything else, and his character weighs not a straw when brought into competition with this. Now each of these different forms of selfishness is a violation of the law of God. One just as much so as the other. They all lord it over the will.--And yet those devoted to one form take great credit to themselves because they are not devoted to all the others. The truth is in all cases the sin lies in the indulgence of any appetite, desire or propensity whatever, in opposition to the law of love.

REMARKS.

1. It matters not which of the propensities prevail over the will in order to constitute selfishness. None of them has moral character in itself. To prefer the indulgence of anyone of them to higher interests is what constitutes sin. It is minding the flesh. It is enmity against God.

2. If we are asked why we have these propensities if they are not to be gratified? I answer, (1.) Those which are natural are given to serve and not to rule us. For example, the appetite for food. Without an appetite for food we should never take it, but it is essential to our existence, and therefore the appetite serves to secure life. So the desire for knowledge. Were there not a constitutional desire for knowledge, who would ever seek it. But knowledge is essential to our highest good. The desire for it therefore, serves to secure this essential to our well being. (2.) Farther, these propensities are not only given to serve us, but to afford us gratification. The benevolence of God gave us these constitutional propensities, so that we might find pleasure in that which is for our well being. Were we destitute of appetites, desires, passions, and susceptibilities we should be as incapable of pleasure or pain, gratification or happiness as a marble statue. Had the human race remained innocent the gratification of these susceptibilities would doubtless have afforded them exquisite pleasure. That we possess them, therefore, must be regarded as a proof of the divine benevolence towards us, not withstanding the fact that they render us liable to various and strong temptations. (3.) Many of the propensities that are most despotic, God never gave. They are wholly artificial, and are produced by a voluntary perversion of those which are natural.--For example, the use of intoxicating drinks, or tobacco, and various narcotics.

3. Indulgence in any form of selfishness is utterly inconsistent with salvation. It is sin, and the Bible declares that "without holiness no man shall see the Lord."

4. A man who is selfish in his business can no more go to heaven than a pirate can. How should he? They are both living for the same end, self-gratification, under different forms, and are both therefore directly opposed to the will of God.

5. A vain man or a vain woman, can no more be saved, than a licentious man or a licentious woman. They prefer the gratification of their vanity, to the end of life which the law of God requires, while a licentious man or woman prefers the self gratification afforded them, in this grosser form, to the same end.

6. There is so little discrimination, as to the nature of sin, that endless delusions prevail. For example: while it is known that drunkenness, licentiousness, theft, robbery, murder &c. are utterly inconsistent with salvation, various other forms of sin are regarded as consistent with a profession of religion. But the truth is, as I have said before, a man who is selfish in his business, or who practices selfishness in any other form, however slight it may seem, can no more be saved than a drunkard can. Why cannot a drunkard be saved? or the licentious man, or the thief? Because he is selfish. So it must be with any other man who is selfish, whatever may be the type which his selfishness has put on. If a man were drunk but once a week he would be excommunicated as hopelessly lost, but he may be habitually avaricious, vain, or an epicure, and yet be regarded as a good Christian in the estimation of the church. If any church should continue the drunkard in its communion, it would bring upon itself the frown of Christians universally, and yet persons indulging various forms of selfishness are to be found in almost every church, and regarded as true Christians. Scarcely any one suspects that they will not be saved. Now this must be delusion. But why is this mistake? It is because there is so little discrimination respecting the nature of sin. The truth is, if any appetite, desire, or propensity whatever, rules over the will, it matters not what it is, the man is in the way to death.

7. To suppose religion to consist in obeying any feeling whatever, merely as feeling, is a most ruinous error. And yet multitudes know no other religion than this. They suppose happy feelings to be religion, and generally do just as they feel, irrespective of the demands of their reason. Now these persons have never yet apprehended the true idea of religion, namely that it consists in the entire consecration of the will to the law of God, as it is regarded and imposed by their reason. Feeling is not that to which the will should bow, for it is blind; but reason, as it perceives the law of God with its intuitive eye, should be heeded in its faintest whisper respecting the application of that law.

8. Selfishness was the first sin of man; that is, his first sin consisted in preferring his own gratification to the will of God. Now see whether I have given the right definition of sin. The first pair were placed in the garden in which were many trees bearing an abundance to supply their wants, but in the midst was one upon which God laid a prohibition. It is an important question why God laid this restraint[?] It is a question which is often asked, and it is important that it should receive a right answer. The design undoubtedly was to teach them that they must control their sensibility--that they must keep their appetites, desires, and passions in subjection to the law of reason. This lesson it was of vast importance they should learn, and learn too as soon as possible, before their sensibility had such a development, that is, before their appetites, desires, and passions, should acquire such strength, during their ignorance of the tendency of gratifying them, as to render it certain that they never would deny themselves of their gratification when they came to see its tendency. For this reason God prohibits their eating the fruit of one particular tree. Now here Satan steps in, and being well aware of the relation of the Sensibility to the Will, and of both to the Reason, he suggested to our mother Eve, that God was selfish in laying restraint upon the constitutional propensities, and then presents such considerations before her mind as awakens two of the strongest of them, the appetite for food, and the desire of knowledge. This placed the demands of her reason which echoed the prohibition of God, and the demand of her constitutional desires in opposition. Between these her will was compelled to choose. And in that evil hour she preferred the gratification of these appetites to the will of God, and thus

"Brought death into the world, and all our woe."
This was the first sin. Observe now, these constitutional appetites were perfectly innocent in themselves, but the sin consisted in her consenting to their gratification in opposition to the requirement of God.

9. Selfishness is the first sin of every human being. Children come into the world in perfect ignorance both of the law of God and of the tendency of their sensibility. Now what is the process by which they sin. See the little child. At first it can scarcely turn its head or open its eyes. It is hardly conscious of any thing. Soon its sensibility begins to be developed, and foremost its appetite for food. As soon as you give it any thing, no matter what, it puts it right into the mouth. Gradually other appetites are awakened, equally constitutional, and therefore without moral character. At what age their reason begins to be developed we cannot know. But it is doubtless very early. But as soon as it is developed and affirms obligation then its very next is a moral act. Hence the appetites, desires, and propensities of its sensibility which have previously been developed, and its perception of obligation are both placed before its will, and it prefers the former to the latter. This is its first sin, and this is the first sin of every human being. But why does it always choose wrong? Because previously to the development of its reason, its will has constantly been under the control of its appetites, and it has acquired a habit of consenting to them. On the contrary the first affirmations of its reason are necessarily feeble. He therefore chooses self-gratification in opposition to it.

10. Selfishness constitutes sin in every instance. It is easy to show that this must be so.

11. We can see what regeneration is. It is turning from selfishness to benevolence. It is the act of the will preferring the well being of the universe to self-gratification to which it has always previously consented.

12. It is easy to see the necessity of regeneration. Who does not know that unregenerate men are universally selfish? And who does not know that selfish men thrown together could never be happy? I have often wondered what those persons mean who deny the necessity of regeneration. The truth in it is self-evident.

13. We can see why men are commanded to regenerate themselves. If regeneration is an act of the will, nothing can be more rational than this requirement. It is of necessity their own act.

14. See why the Spirit of God is needed in regeneration. Men have been so habituated to gratify themselves, and their attention is so absorbed with this that the Spirit of God is needed to develop their reason, and to throw the light of heaven upon its eye, that it may see at once the nature and beauty of religion in contrast with the nature and deformity of sin. This is conviction. Then the sinner needs to be charmed away from his selfishness by correct apprehensions of the character of God, and the love of Christ. This it is the Spirit's office to effect.

15. Finally we can see what is meant by the Apostle, when he speaks so often of being led by the flesh and by the Spirit. An individual is led by the flesh when his will is in subjection to the Sensibility. This is the carnal mind. On the contrary, an individual is led by the Spirit, when his will is in subjection to the law of his reason, which is developed and applied by the Spirit of God. And now, beloved, where are you? Are you led by the flesh, or by the Spirit? Are you selfish, or are you benevolent? What would you say if you were called to appear before God to-night? Could you say, I know that I am led by the Spirit of God and therefore am a child of God? O! beloved, search yourselves, lest you be deceived!




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HOLINESS OF CHRISTIANS IN THE PRESENT LIFE --No. 4
Christian Character
HABITUAL HOLINESS THE TEST
Lecture IV
February 15, 1843

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--1 John 3:9: "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."

In this discourse I shall,

I. Inquire what sin is not.

II. What it is.

III. What to be born of God is not.

IV. What it is.

V. What the seed spoken of in the text is not.

VI. What it is.

VII. What is not intended by the assertion that whosoever is born of God does not and cannot commit sin.

VIII. What is intended by it.

IX. How a Christian may be distinguished from a sinner.


I. What sin is not.

II. What sin is. III. What to be born of God is not. IV. What is it to be born of God? V. What the seed which remaineth in Christians is not. VI. What this seed is. VII. What is not intended by the assertion that whosoever is born of God does not and cannot commit sin. VIII. What is intended by it. IX. How a Christian may be distinguished from a sinner. REMARKS.

1. Every real Christian lives habitually without sin. Nothing is more common than to find large classes of professors of religion who acknowledge that they are living in sin. You ask them--Do you not know that this is wrong? Yes, they say, but no person is expected to live without sin in this world. We must sin some. Now, as the Bible is true, such persons are deceived, and in the way to hell. If that is religion, what is Christianity? But, you will say--"I know what you say of this text cannot be the meaning, for it is not my experience." Poor soul! this excuse will do you no good, for God's word is true, whatever your experience is, and in the day of eternity, where will you be if you rely on this? Now do you cry out and say, "why this is awful; for if it be true what will become of the great mass of Christians?" Let me tell you all true Christians will be saved, but hypocrites God will judge. Said a woman to a minister not long since, "Do you confess your sins?" confess your sins! What did she mean by that? Why, she meant to inquire whether every time he prayed he confessed, not that he had been a sinner in times past, but, that he was now actually sinning against God? She, with many other professors, actually seemed to think that Christians should sin a little all the while in order to keep them humble, and to have something to confess. Indeed!

2. It is a dangerous error to inculcate that Christians sin daily and hourly. It sets the door wide open for false hopes, and the effect on the Church is that it is thronged with the victims of delusion.

3. Equally dangerous is it, to say that their most holy duties are sinful--that "sin is mixed with all we do." What! Then John should have said--"Whosoever is born of God commits sin daily and hourly, notwithstanding the seed of God remaineth in him, for sin is mixed with all he does!" It is a palpable matter of fact that whatever is holy is not sinful. Holiness is conformity to all perceived obligation--it is an act of the will, and must be a unity. If then holiness be a unity, a compliance with all perceived obligation, there is not and cannot be sin mixed in it. Says Christ, "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." And James says--"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." A person therefore, knowing obligation to rest on him, and not discharging it, is living in sin and is not a Christian. It is in vain to appeal to experience against the Bible.

4. All who live in the omission of duty or commission of what is contrary to known truth, are living in habitual sin and are not Christians.

5. How infinitely different is the doctrine of this discourse, from the common view, and what is generally inculcated. Said a celebrated minister in giving the definition of a Christian--"He has a little grace and a great deal of devil." Now where did such a sentiment as that come from? From the Bible? No. But from a ruinous accommodation of the Bible to a false standard. And yet so current is such a sentiment, that if you deny it, they look astonished, and say--"Why, I guess you are a perfectionist." Now read the language of the Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Church, right along side of what John says. Says the Confession of Faith--"No mere man since the fall, is able, either of himself, or by any grace received in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but doth daily break them in thought, word, and in deed."--And to this almost all the standards of the Church agree. It is the common sentiment of the Church. Now I would ask how this accords with what John says, in the text and in many other places in this epistle? Let me say he is not here speaking of some Christians who have made rare attainments, but of the common attainment. Now, which is right? By which will you be tried at the Judgment? By the Bible or the common standards? You know very well which.

6. When any, therefore, live in the omission of known duty, or commission of what they know to be contrary to truth, we are bound to say they are not Christians. This is not a want of charity but a love of the truth. Suppose an infidel should meet you with the Bible in his hand and should point out what it describes a Christian to be, and should ask you, "do you believe the Bible speaks the truth?" And should then point to those Christians who live daily and hourly in the omission of known duty, in a violation of perceived obligation, and ask you if you believe they are Christians, what would you say? What would you feel bound to say to maintain the honor of the Bible? The answer is plain. The truth is, the common views on this subject are a flat denial of the Bible, and are a ruinous accommodation to the experience of carnal professors.

7. Now, beloved, if this is so it becomes us, to ask ourselves, whether our experience accords with the Bible or the popular standard. Not whether we think we were converted some time ago, not what feelings we may have had: but are we at present conformed to all the truth we know. Does the seed remain in us? The test is a habitual perfection of moral character. He who has it is a Christian. He who has it not is not a Christian. Now where are you? Where would you be to night if summoned to the Judgment? Could you lay your hand on your heart and say, "Lord Thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love Thee?" Thou knowest that my life is a life of conformity to all thy known will?




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HOLINESS OF CHRISTIANS IN THE PRESENT LIFE --No. 5
Christian Warfare
Lecture V
March 1, 1843

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Gal. 5:16, 17: "This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill 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 ye would."

This passage has been greatly misunderstood, or else the Apostle has contradicted himself. Leaving out of view the 16th verse, and that the design of the 17th is to assign the grounds of the assertion in the 16th, many of the expounders of the Scriptures have understood the 17th to declare, that in consequence of the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, persons who really wish to be holy cannot. So it has all along been generally understood. Now I repeat, that if this interpretation be true, the Apostle contradicts himself. The 16th positively asserts that those who walk in the Spirit shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. This interpretation of the 17th verse, makes him say, that in consequence of the opposition between the flesh and the Spirit, those who walk in the Spirit, after all, cannot but fulfill the lusts of the flesh. But this interpretation entirely overlooks the fact, that the 17th verse is designed to establish the assertion made in the 16th. In the 16th, the Apostle says, "walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh." Why? "Because," says he, "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other," that is, they are opposites. What then? Why the obvious inference, "that ye (that is, who walk in the Spirit,) cannot do the things that ye would," in case you were not walking in the Spirit. In other words, you who are walking in the Spirit cannot fulfill the lusts of the flesh. The simple principle is, that you cannot walk after the Spirit, and fulfill the lusts of the flesh at the same time, because it is impossible to perform two opposites at once.

In further remarking on this text, I design to show,

I. What the Christian warfare does not consist in.

II. What it does consist in.

III. The difference between careless and convicted sinners.

IV. The difference between saints and convicted, but unconverted professors.

V. That a warfare would have existed if man had never sinned.

VI. To point out the causes of the aggravation of this warfare since the fall.

VII. How it may be modified and abated.

VIII. That it will, under a more or less modified form, continue while we are in the body.


I. What the Christian warfare does not consist in.

II. In what the Christian warfare does consist. III. The difference between careless and convicted sinners.
Such are the prominent differences between careless and convicted sinner. The 7th of Romans is an illustration of the warfare of a convicted sinner.
IV. The difference between saints, and convicted but unconverted professors and backsliders. V. A warfare would have existed had man never sinned. VI. Several causes that have aggravated this warfare. VII. How this warfare may be modified and abated. VIII. This warfare will, under a more or less modified form, continue while we are in the body.

Some have supposed that when persons are entirely sanctified, all the passions, desires and appetites of the sensibility will impel the will in the same direction that the reason does, invariably; but such persons do not know what they say, for all their propensities seek their objects for their own sake, and are blind to every thing else. They always and necessarily urge the will to seek their respective objects for the sake of the gratification. This is temptation, and creates a warfare. The appetite for food, for example, seeks food for its own sake, and so does the desire of knowledge. It is nonsense, then, to say that they will not solicit the will to gratify them under improper circumstances. But when the mind is entirely sanctified, instead of the various propensities creating such a fiery and turbulent warfare when excited, the will will have them under such control as to easily keep their places, so that all the actions will be bland and tranquilized. The most that will or can be done is to harmonize them, and it is by no means desirable that they should be annihilated. Suppose, for example, the desire for knowledge were annihilated. What a calamity would that be? Or the desire for food. The truth is, all the constitutional desires should remain. They were all given for useful purposes, and all call for their appropriate objects, for food, for knowledge, &c., and are thus constantly feeling after those things which are essential to our existence, and that of our race. Besides to regulate them is a good exercise for the will, and it is difficult to see how a mind could be virtuous at all, were all the susceptibilities of its sensibility destroyed; and were any of them removed, it would doubtless be a great evil, otherwise God was not benevolent in our creation, and did not make us in the best way.

REMARKS.

1. The common notion of warring with inward sin is nonsensical and impossible. Those who use such language confound temptation with sin. They call their natural appetites and propensities sinful, and when resisting these, they say they are indwelling sin, and multitudes, doubtless, mistake the actions of the conscience, its warnings and reproofs, for the resistance of the heart to temptation. The truth is, the Christian warfare consists in a struggle between the will and temptations from without and within, and in nothing else.

2. The deceived professor's warfare is between his heart and his reason or conscience. His heart is devoted to self-gratification, and the reason constantly disapproves of and denounces the service as wrong, and thus a continual struggle is kept up within, between his heart and reason, and this he calls the Christian warfare. If so, every sinner has the Christian warfare, and doubtless the devil also.

3. The Christian overcomes in his warfare. This is an habitual fact. Rom. 6:14. "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law but under grace." Also 8:1-4. See also the text and context, besides numberless other passages directly asserting the same thing.

4. What a ruinous mistake it is to suppose the 7th of Romans to be Christian experience. I hesitate not to say that it has been the occasion of the destruction of more souls than almost any other mistake in the world. It is fundamentally to mistake the very nature of true religion.

5. The warfare of the true Christian greatly strengthens his virtue. When he is greatly tried and obligated to gather up all his energy to maintain his integrity, when he wrestles, until he is all in a perspiration, with some fiery trial, as it is sometimes necessary for him to do, it must be that when he comes out from such a scene as this, his virtue is greatly strengthened and improved.

6. We can see, from this subject, why sinners often doubt the reality of temptation, and when they hear Christians talk of their temptations, they think that Christians must be worse than they, for they do not experience such. But the reason why they are not conscious of temptations is because they have not attempted to regulate their propensities by the law of God. A man floating on a current is not conscious of its strength until he turns round and attempts to stem it. The same principle applies to those professors of religion who entertain the same doubts. Talk about temptation! Why, they say, I am not so tempted. Indeed! Perhaps you have never done any thing else but to yield to it.

7. See why the Apostle said so much about the opposition of the flesh and Spirit. He represents them as at hostility, throughout his epistles, especially in the 6th, 7th, and 8th chapters of Romans.

8. Many struggle for a while in their own strength, and, through continued failures, become discouraged, and give it up. The temptations of their appetites and propensities are too strong for them, while they have not leamed by faith to derive strength from Christ.

9. Many despair of ever becoming sanctified, because they suppose their constitutional propensities are, in themselves, sinful. They say it is in vain to talk of entire sanctification in this life, and well they may say so, if their constitutional appetites and propensities are sinful, for we know of no promise that our nature shall be revolutionized in this life or the next.

10. Others are brought into distress and despair because they cannot control their thoughts when their will is weary. The will is that power of the mind which originates all that control which it is possible for the mind to exert over itself. But it becomes weary, or perhaps it would be more correct to say, that the brain, through which it acts, grows weary and wants rest. In sleep, the will is suspended, and hence in dreams the thoughts run lawless and without direction. It is a matter of experience with students who study hard, and for a long time, that they find it extremely difficult, after long and severe application to keep their attention and thoughts on their studies. Why? Because their will is wearied out, and needs rest. So it is with Christians who undertake to pray when they are jaded out with weariness. Their thoughts fly every where. They try to restrain their wanderings; they struggle, and, for a moment seem to get the control, and then they lose it again. They try it over and over again, but with no better success, until they are well nigh in despair. Now, what is the matter? They need rest, and ought to take it rather than attempt to force their jaded will into action. Let your will rest. God will have mercy and not sacrifice. What's the use, when a man has walked sixty miles in a day, and his will can scarcely force his exhausted muscles into further action, of his attempting to use them further, and blaming himself because he cannot? Suppose a man should never go to sleep for fear he should dream and his thoughts ramble heedless of his will! Why call such things sin? Don't mistify forever and mix up sin and holiness, light and darkness, heaven and hell, so that people cannot tell which is which.

11. Some bring forward, the fact that this warfare is presented as continuing, as an argument against the doctrine of sanctification. Just as if a soul in order to be sanctified must get beyond a warfare! What! Then Adam was not sanctified before he sinned, nor Satan; nor was Jesus Christ while on earth, for it is a simple matter of fact that He had temptation. What would you think of the argument, if it should be said that Jesus Christ had a warfare and therefore he was not wholly sanctified? And yet it would be just as good as this.

12. However sharp the conflict, if the soul prevails there is no sin. What trials had Jesus Christ? But He prevailed. "He was tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin." So if temptation should rush like a tornado upon any of you, if you will only hold on, and fight it out, you have not sinned. Nay the sharper the conflict, the greater the virtue of resistance.

13. The saints are no doubt preparing in this world for some high stations of usefulness, and where they may be exposed to strong temptations. I infer this from the fact that they are placed here in such circumstances as are exactly calculated to ripen and fit them for such a destiny. God never acts without design, and He surely has some design in this.

14. The sanctified are sometimes in heaviness through manifold temptations if need be. Now don't infer, if you see them so, that they are not holy. Christ had His sorrows, and knew what it was to resist even unto blood, striving against temptation to sin; and the servant need not expect to fare better than his Lord. The truth is, these trials are useful--they are but for a moment, but they prepare for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Sorrows endure for the night but joy cometh in the moming. Under the pressure of the temptations the soul is in an agony, and cries out "Help, Oh Lord, help," and He comes forth and scatters the insulting foe, and the soul bounds up like a rocket, giving glory to God.

15. Many have supposed for a time their enemies were dead, but were mistaken. The fact is they are never dead in such a sense, that we do not need to watch lest we enter into temptation. But let us never overlook the distinction between temptation and sin, and ever keep in mind that the Christian warfare in not with sin, but temptation. Nor forget that Christ alone can give us the victory. O for the Spirit of Christ to baptize the Ministers and the Churches.




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HOLINESS OF CHRISTIANS IN THE PRESENT LIFE --No. 6
Putting on Christ
Lecture VI
March 15, 1843

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Rom. 13:14: "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof."

It is my purpose to show,

I. What is intended by this command.

II. What is implied in obeying it.

III. Some of the essential conditions of obedience to it.

IV. Obligation to obey this command is universal.

V. Obedience to the requirements of this text is naturally indispensable to salvation.

VI. Some of the consequences of obeying this requirement.

VII. Consequences of disobeying it.


I. What is intended by this command.

I observe that the idea is taken from the drama; "To put on a person," is to assume his character, and peculiarities, as an actor does on the stage. This commandment, therefore, enjoins the imitation of Christ, as actors imitate those whom they represent.

II. What is implied in obeying this command.

III. Some of the essential conditions of obedience to this command. IV. Obligation to obey this command is universal. V. Obedience to the requirement of this text, is naturally indispensable to salvation. VI. Some of the consequences of obeying this requirement.

And here, I wish to be exceedingly candid, and keep nothing back. I have often marked how much the Lord Jesus Christ differed from many who set themselves up as reformers. He would often press his hearers, till almost all of them would forsake Him. Once, all left Him but his twelve disciples, and He turned to them and said, "Will ye also go away?" Implying that he would rather lose them than to keep back the truth. And we must not preach a false Christ, or you will have the livery of heaven, and the temper of the world.

VII. Consequences of disobeying this requirement. REMARKS.

1. Inconsistent professors sometimes gain the hollow applause of the unthinking, and ungodly.

2. But they never gain the solid respect, of any class, for any considerable time. Instead of this, they really lose it. For as soon as their true character appears, mankind cannot but condemn and abhor it. Their inward want of confidence in such professors, is often exhibited in a trying hour. A fact related in my hearing by a Methodist minister, made a deep impression on my mind. A wealthy man in the South, who had sat under the preaching of a worldly minister, was taken sick, and about to die. His friends asked him, if they should send for his minister. He said, no, I do not want him now; we have been together at the horse-race. They urged him to send for somebody, and mentioned several. But he rejected them all; and at last told them to call in Tom, one of his colored men; for, said he, I have often heard him pray alone. Tom came, laid his little hat at the door, and inquired what his master wanted. Said the dying man, "Tom, do you pray?" "Yes, master,--in my weak way." "Can you pray for your dying master?" "I'll try," he repeated. "Come here, then, and pray for me." And Tom drew near, and poured out his soul to God for the dying man. Ah! the master knew, in his inmost soul, that his minister could not pray. Poor Tom, was the man to pray.

3. The lives of many professors, are a most terrible burlesque on Christianity. Satan, it would seem, has pushed these into the Church to disgrace it. Persons who have a strong sense of the ridiculous, are often tempted to laugh at the absurd notions of religion which some manifest. They never seem to think of asking how Christ would do. I have sometimes seen servants, in families where they were called to family worship, come in cowering, and get behind the door, altogether away from the family circle. I wonder if they think it will be so in heaven. In some families I know, it is not their wish, but the choice of the servant, and of course they are not to blame. Since I have been here I have seen persons take up their hats and leave the house, when they see the colored people sitting among the whites. I wonder if such people would do so in heaven. Do let me ask, is not this the direct opposite of the spirit of Christ? How would Christ treat the poor slaves, and the colored people, if He were in this country?

4. See the importance of always bearing in mind the person whom you have undertaken to represent, and the part you are expected to act. For example; all can see that a minister in the pulpit, and every where, should bear this in mind, and so he should; but no more, really, than any other Christian should in his vocation.

5. It becomes us to inquire, whether we have so represented Christ as to give those around us the true idea of religion. Suppose a minister should never ask himself, what idea of religion his people get from him. It is easy to see that he would not be able to convey a very definite idea of it to his people. So every professor should do. And now beloved, do you live so as to make the impression, that religion is disinterested benevolence? Who would get that idea from you? Said a man not long since, if religion is benevolence, I know of but one man in our church who seems to be religious. How many do you know in this City? Nothing else is religion--Do you live so? Do I? If not what will become of our souls?

6. Those who do not put on Christ, are the worst kind of heretics. There is no heresy so bad as a false profession.

7. Inconsistent professors are the greatest curse to the world, that there is in it.

8. Professors who have not put on Christ should confess to those around them and instantly reform. Confess to your wife, your children, your church, your neighbors. Will you do it?

9. Sinners are altogether without excuse, and are as much bound to put on Christ as professors.

10. Unless every one of us, in his calling, fully intends to put on Christ, and keep Him on, we are in the way to hell. If you are not what you think Christ would be in your calling, you are not a Christian. How different is this from the common religion. All that we see is pride, and starch, and fashion, and death. Oh! brethren, let us put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and "make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof."




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HOLINESS OF CHRISTIANS IN THE PRESENT LIFE --No. 7
Way to Be Holy
Lecture VII
March 29, 1843

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Rom. 10:4: "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."

In this lecture I am to show,

I. What is not intended by the assertion that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness.

II. What is intended by this assertion.

III. How Christ becomes the end of the law for righteousness.


I. What is not intended by the assertion that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness.

What a jumble of nonsense is this! Is this the gospel of the blessed God? Impossible!
II. What is intended by the assertion that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness.

The text affirms that he is the end of the law for righteousness. Righteousness is obedience to the law. He is, then, the end of the law for obedience. He secures the very end aimed at by the law; that is, He makes Christians holy; as it is said--"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." What have we here? Why, an express assertion of the Apostle, that Christ, by his Atonement, and indwelling Spirit, had secured in Christians, the very obedience which the law required.

III. How Christ becomes the end of the law for righteousness or obedience.

REMARKS.

1. From this subject, we may see why the gospel lays so much stress on faith. It is the only way of salvation.

2. This method of saving men is perfectly philosophical. And as we have seen, Christ thus works Himself into the very heart of believers.

3. It is the only possible way, in the very nature of the case, to secure love. God might command, and back up the command with threatenings. But this would only fill the selfish mind with terror, leaving its selfishness unbroken, and even grasping at its objects amid the roar of its thunders. In the very nature of mind, then, to secure obedience, He must secure confidence. Why, look at Eve. The moment she doubted, she fell. And so would all heaven fall if they should lose confidence in God. Yes, they would fall! They would no more retain their obedience, than the planets would retain their places, if the power of gravitation were broken. Every one knows that if the power of attraction were destroyed, suns, and stars, and planets would run lawless through the universe, and desolation would drive her ploughshare through creation. So, break the power of confidence in heaven, and every angel there would fall like Lucifer, and universal anarchy prevail.

4. What I have said, does not represent virtue or holiness as consisting in mere emotions of complacency; or in loving God merely for his favors; but the exhibition of his character in Christ begets in us real benevolence. It shows us what benevolence is, and stimulates us to exercise it. Nearly all preachers and writers, of the present day, confound religion, with mere complacency in God for his favors. Both gratitude and complacency may, and often do, exist in the impenitent mind. It must, therefore, be a fundamental mistake, to confound these with true religion.

5. Christ, by exhibiting his benevolence, begets his own image in them that believe; that is, they are naturally led to yield themselves up to the transforming tendency of this view of his character. This, the law could never secure in a selfish mind.

6. I said the doctrine of imputed righteousness, is another gospel, or no gospel at all. And here I would ask, is not this quite another way of salvation? According to this way, instead of imputing righteousness to them, God makes them righteous.

7. The gospel is not an evasion of the law. It comes in as an auxiliary to accomplish what the law aims at, but cannot effect, because it is "weak through the flesh."

8. We see who are true believers. Those who love God supremely and their neighbor as themselves; and unless your faith begets obedience, it is not the faith of the gospel.

9. We can see the sustaining power of faith. This is not well considered by many. If the head of a family secures its confidence, he controls it easily; but if not, there is a perpetual tendency to resist him. The same principle operates in state governments. They are firm, just so far and no farther, than they are based upon the confidence of their subjects. So it is in the business world. Every thing is prosperous, so long as confidence is secured. This gone, and the tide immediately sets forth the other way. Why are so many houses in this country, which were once supposed to be perfectly stable, tumbling down around the heads of the merchants? Because confidence is destroyed. Restore that, and immediately things will assume a different aspect. Every merchant in New York will feel the impulse; and ships from abroad will come freighted down with merchandize. This principle is equally efficient and necessary in the divine government. This, the devil well understood. Hence his first effort was directed to its overthrow. But ministers too often put it in the back ground, and hence the reason of so much failure in the work of reforming the world. Christ, on the other hand, always put it foremost, and his declaration, "He that believeth shall be saved," is the unalterable law of his government.

10. Unbelievers cannot be saved, for their want of confidence, necessarily keeps the soul from hearty obedience.

11. Do you ask, "How can I believe?" I turn on you, and ask, "How can you help believing?" Christ has died for you to win your confidence. He stands at your door, offering blessings, and assuring you of his good will. And can't you believe! What! And the Son of God at the door! But perhaps you stand away back, and say, Christians can believe, but how can I? a poor, guilty wretch. And why not you? Come, let your anchor down upon the character of God, and then if the winds blow, let them blow; if the ocean tosses itself, and yawns till it lays bare its very bottom, you are secure, for God rules the wind and the waves. But I hear some one say, I am such a backslider. Yes, and you are like to be. Unless you believe, you will continue to go right away from God. Come, instantly, and believe. Come all you professors; come, all you sinners; come now, and He will write his law in your hearts; and it will no longer be to you a law on tables of stone. Can't you believe it? Yes, O yes. Then let us come around the throne of grace, and receive Christ, as the end of the law for righteousness.




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HOLINESS OF CHRISTIANS IN THE PRESENT LIFE --No. 8
What Attainments Christians May Reasonably Expect to Make in This Life
Lecture VIII
April 12, 1843

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--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."

In this lecture I shall consider,

I. What sanctification is.

II. What is not implied in it.

III. What is implied in it.

IV. What is intended by the sanctification of body, soul, and spirit.

V. What is not implied in the sanctification of body, soul, and spirit.

VI. What is implied in it.

VII. What attainments Christians cannot expect in this life.

VIII. What attainments they may reasonably expect to make in this life.


I. What Sanctification is.

II. What is not implied in it. III. What is implied in it.
Now if you drop either of these elements, it is no longer virtue.
IV. What is intended by the sanctification of body, soul, and spirit. V. What is not implied in the sanctification of body, soul, and spirit. VI. What is implied in it. VII. What attainments Christians cannot expect in this life. VIII. What attainments they may reasonably expect to make in this life. REMARKS.

1. This must be an important question, I have been astonished beyond all measure, that this doctrine has been called a hobby. What! Is the fundamental doctrine of the degree of holiness attainable in this life, to be called a hobby? If so, then it is the hobby of the universe, and God, and every angel is intensely interested in securing its success.

2. We must hold up some standard. If you tell a sinner to repent, you hold up before him the standard to which he ought to conform, and even if he should deny that any had actually repented, you would still insist upon it, that it is his duty, whether others had or not, and also, that if he did not repent, he could not be saved.

3. Christians must aim at some standard, but they cannot aim at any state which they deem impossible; as well might they aim to fly. How essential then, that we should ascertain what the true standard is, and hold it up before them.

We have seen that sin consists in choosing self-gratification as the supreme end, and that holiness, on the contrary, consists in supremely choosing the glory of God and the good of his universe. We have also seen that they cannot co-exist in the same mind--that while the will or heart is right, that nothing can, for the time being, be morally wrong: and on the other hand, while the heart is wrong, all is wrong; that is, it is totally depraved. The only question then, is, can we reasonably expect to remain in that state. I said this expectation was supposed to be unreasonable, unless others could be pointed out as examples. But if no one has ever availed himself of these promises, it by no means follows that no one ever will; on the contrary, the progressive state of the world, and the progressive nature of religion, warrant and demand the belief that future generations will make indefinitely higher attainments than the past. The golden age has not gone by; those who think so, have not well considered the matter. If any one will compare the time of the Apostles with the present time, and take in all the characteristics of both, he will see, that on the whole, the human family have made great progress. There is a radical error in the custom of looking back, instead of forward, for the golden age; and the common notion that the world is in its dotage, is exactly the reverse of truth. Every successive era is marked by a decided advance in science, art, philosophy and civilization; and this is in exact accordance with the whole tenor of prophecy, which warrants and demands the expectation of vastly higher attainments, in future, than have ever yet been made. The Temperance Reformation, shows that it is now common for drunkards to make attainments, which were once regarded as almost impossible. Who has not witnessed the Washingtonian, almost working miracles, in pulling the drunkard out of the gutter. And shall we extinguish hope respecting the Church, and make it an exception to the progress of the world?

4. One of the greatest obstacles in the way of both physical and moral improvement, is the existence of false opinions and expectations in regard to the degree of elevation, to which God desires to bring mankind in this world. I have examined Mr. Miller's theory, and am persuaded, that what he expects to come after the judgment, will come before it. Read the 65th chapter of Isaiah. The Prophet there speaks of the advancement to be made, as the creation of a new heavens and a new earth. The reason men have so little idea of the thing intended in such predictions, is that they have such meager views of the grace of God. If the world is to be converted to the present standard, it is true that such predictions cannot represent its state. What are the Church dreaming about, if they cannot see the necessity of a higher standard? The man who cannot see that, is as poor a philosopher as he is a Christian. Why, brethren, what would it avail, if the whole world were converted to the standard of the current religion?

5. Suppose this promise had been read to those to whom it was given, how could they have believed it, on the theory that they were not to expect higher attainments in the future than they then witnessed. Why they would have said, the world never will be converted, because it never has been; and what would you reply to that? Suppose the same objection were made now, and it were said, it was not done in the days of the Apostles, nor at any time since, and are we to expect to accomplish what never has been done? Suppose farther, ministers were engaged in pointing back, to prove that the world can never be converted. Why, they would say, the Church never has converted the world, and therefore, it never will. You must be getting proud, if you think we shall do more than good men before us have done. And then, suppose they should go back, and hunt up all the fanaticism, and enthusiasm, and extravagancies of the Crusades, and other attempts to propagate the Christian religion, and instead of pointing out these evils, to guard the Church against similar ones in time to come, as they ought to do, they were doing it to prevent any attempts to convert the world now. What would be thought of all this? It would justly be regarded as ridiculous; and yet this is exactly the course adopted respecting the doctrine of sanctification. The fact, that the promises have not been considered as meaning so much, sufficiently accounts for the fact, that they have not been more generally realized in the experience of Christians.

6. To deny the reasonableness of this expectation, is to lay a stumbling block before the Church. Suppose you should exhort sinners to repent, and then tell them they could not, neither in their own strength, nor by any grace received. What else would that be than a stumbling block, over which, if they believed you, they would stumble into hell. So to tell Christians, that they ought to be sanctified and that it is attainable, and yet, that no one can, in this life attain it, is the very way to prevent them from attaining it. If they believe such instruction, it will as certainly prevent their spiritual progress, as a general outcry against missions would prevent the conversion of the world.

7. But if this expectation is unreasonable, what is reasonable? What may we expect? How much higher can we rise? Who can tell? Who will point to some definite standard?

8. Doubts as to the truth of the view I have here maintained, arise,

(1) From a false philosophy of depravity and holiness. When men make holiness consist in emotions instead of benevolence, they overlook the very nature of virtue, and are deluded as a matter of course.

(2) From unbelief. Our opinions on such questions, must depend on our faith, and the state of our hearts.

(3) From radically defective Christian experience, or rather, having had none but a legal experience.

(4) From overlooking the fulness of the Gospel provision.

(5) From confounding it with Antinomian perfectionism.

(6) From false views with respect to what constitutes entire sanctification. Many say, the Bible represents the Christian warfare as continuing till death, and that this warfare consists in fighting with sin. Now where do they learn this, not in the Bible. The Bible does indeed represent the Christian warfare as continuing till death, but it never represents it as consisting in fighting with sin. What is sin? Why, sin is a heart, or will, or choice, contrary to the will of God. To fight with sin, then, would be to fight with our own present choice or voluntary state of mind--a choice warring on or against itself--this is absurd. The Christian warfare consists in warring with temptation, not with sin. They say that Christians are commanded to grow in grace, and if they once arrive at perfection, progress is at an end. They thus set up a man of straw, and then fight it.

9. This is a serious question to all Christians, and I cannot tell how I feel, when I hear professors of religion say they cannot give time for its examination. Said a professor of religion to me not long since, "I cannot take time to examine this subject," and yet he had the strangest misapprehensions respecting it. It is enough to make one weep tears of blood to see the darkness which prevails, and yet the apathy and unwillingness to inquire. Beloved, let us know the truth that it may make us free. Let us give ourselves up to the teachings of the Spirit, that we may be "sanctified wholly, and preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."




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HOLINESS OF CHRISTIANS IN THE PRESENT LIFE --No. 9
Necessity and Nature of Divine Teaching
Lecture IX
June 21, 1843

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Phil. 2:12, 13: "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

Text.--Heb. 13:20, 21: "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

Text.--John 16:13, 14: "Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth, for He shall not speak of Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me; for He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you."

Text.--John 14:26: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."

I. Necessity of a divine influence in regeneration and sanctification.

II. The kind of influence needed.

III. This kind of influence is actually employed.

IV. The consistency and co-operation of divine and human agency in the work.


I. Necessity of a divine influence in regeneration and sanctification.

II. Show the kind of influence needed. III. This kind of influence is actually employed.
It is moral, as opposed to physical. He works in us to will and to do, by motives, by truth. See the texts. Also, James 1:18. "Of his own will begat He us, with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures." 1 Pet. 1:23. "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." Jn. 17:17. "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." All these passages, not only assert that the Spirit exerts an influence, but plainly teach that it is moral in kind. The Atonement of Christ, furnishes the motives by which to effect the work, both of converting sinners, and sanctifying saints. If it should occur to you, that there were persons converted before the Atonement was made, I answer, that it was through that class of truths which the Atonement presents, and they were shadowed forth in the Jewish ritual, and revealed in prophecy. It certainly was not by merely legal influences. Law only drives a sinner to despair. What! a selfish sinner brought to love by the threatenings of the law? Impossible! Conscious of his selfishness and guilt, he looks up, and sees God clothed in terrors and frowns, with the red thunderbolt in his hand to dash him to hell. Has this a tendency to induce in him a disinterested submission to, and love for God? No, but directly the contrary. It condenses his selfishness into fiercer opposition. But how different the manifestation of love in the Atonement. It is, as Paul says--Romans 12:20. "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." If you meet your enemy, you may scold and threaten to shoot him; and while you upbraid him, he may blush; while you threaten, he may tremble; but he will not love. We know the influence of such a course, by our own consciousness. But if we manifest benevolence towards him, we heap coals of fire on his head. We change him into a friend. So, when the sinner sees God all love instead of frowns, with what a magic power it wilts him all down! While he sees only the signs of wrath, he stands as unbending as a marble pillar, and if he weeps, his tears are the tears of a rock; but as the Spirit takes and shows him the things of Christ, he is instantly all unbraced--his stubborn knees bow, his heart breaks, and he lies all along, subdued at the foot of the cross. Such is the work of the Spirit.
IV. The consistency and co-operation of divine and human agency in the work. REMARKS.

1. In all this work, we are conscious only of the influence of truth, as the Spirit presents not Himself to our view, but the truth. We are conscious of perceiving, and acting, and feeling, in view of the truth, but of nothing else.

2. See the error of those who are expecting and waiting for a physical change, and a physical sanctification. A great multitude of impenitent persons are waiting to be passively converted, and professors of religion encourage them in it. They are also waiting to be sanctified in a similar way. Now, prevalent as this notion is, and extensive as has been its sway in the Church, I do not hesitate to say that there is nothing more absurd, and unsupported by the Bible. It is a superstitious notion. As though the divine influence were like an electric shock, or some such influence. It is to overlook the very nature of religion, and of the Spirit's influences, and has ruined thousands, and, I may say, millions of souls.

3. Whenever we find our attention drawn to the consideration of spiritual things, we may know that the Spirit is at work with us, and conduct ourselves accordingly. If a sinner would know whether the Spirit strives with him, the way is easy. Does truth seem to have a stronger influence than formerly? Do solemn influences come in upon the mind from abroad? It must be the work of the Spirit. Walk softly lest you grieve Him away.

4. The truths of the Bible never influence us inwardly, only as they are revealed to us individually, and set home upon us by the Spirit. I have feared a great many overlook this. They read the Bible as they would a catechism or lesson, and often wholly overlook its real import. They must have the Spirit to make it plain to them. They never seem to have a passage brought home to them by the Spirit. But to read the Bible so, does them no good, but infinite hurt--the mind hardens under it, and this is the reason so many read it without finding its spirit. The truth is, it is not enough that it has been revealed to Isaiah, and Paul--it was never meant to be a rule of life as a mere outward thing; you might as well have it on tables of stone; it is a mere savor of death unto death, unless it is so revealed to you as to be spirit and life. You must be taught what its meaning is by the Spirit of God. What Christian does not know this to be true in his own consciousness? You have sometimes read a hundred passages and they seemed to do you no good. Nay, it seemed as though you could find nothing to suit you in a whole volume of promises. But, by and by, God makes one come home to you like electric fire. It sets you all in a glow and becomes food for many days. It serves also as a key to many other of the deep things of God. We observe the same thing in the biographies of distinguished Christians. How often we hear them talk about the Spirit giving them the meaning of a passage. They had read it before a hundred times, and it seemed to possess no special meaning--they had only an outside view of it. But suddenly they saw in it a profoundness of meaning that they had never conceived of; it is as light from heaven.

5. We have power to resist the Spirit. The will has the command of the attention, and if, when the Spirit presents truth the will averts the attention, and continues to do so, the Spirit might present it forever, and it would do no good. Hence we are commanded not "to resist"--not "to grieve" the Holy Spirit, and to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling for it is God that worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

6. Objects of sense, habits, the world, the flesh and Satan, render divine influence constantly indispensable.

7. See the vast patience, pains-taking, compassion, perseverance and love of the Holy Spirit. I shall never forget the impression made on me by the thought that came into my mind once when reflecting on the work of the Spirit. I asked myself how long it had been since I was converted and what the Spirit had done for me during all that time; and I could testify that, during all that time, through all my provocations, He had continued to strive, to lead and guide me, faithful till that moment, in his work of love. Oh, how could I ever grieve him again!

8. How greatly our ingratitude must grieve Him. I have been afraid Christians did not think enough of their indebtedness to the Spirit. They often seem to regard the Savior with great complacency, the Father with less, and the Spirit with none at all, or but little; whereas all the persons of the Trinity, are equally interested and engaged for our salvation, and have equal claims to our gratitude. The Father gave the Son, the Son made the Atonement, and the Spirit secures our acceptance of it.

9. See what Rom. 5:6, means. "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." But for the Atonement, the Holy Spirit could not sanctify us for want of motives adapted to slay our selfishness. But the Atonement gives Him that power over us.

10. God is often employed in influencing the decisions of our will, when we are not at all aware of it. How often men find themselves having arrived at thoughts and made up decisions, for which they cannot account to save their lives. This is often the case with even impenitent sinners. Perhaps some of you can remember instances of decisions which even saved your life. I can remember such instances in my own history. It would be extremely interesting to gather up facts on this point. We should, doubtless find many wonderful things coming to light, respecting the intervention of the Spirit.

11. The Spirit is always in his people, but often his inward, gentle teachings and whisperings, are drowned in the din of outward objects. He loves to lead the mind in his own strait way, by breathing, gently, his influences upon the soul, but often times the mind is in such great excitement and bustle that it cannot hear Him speaking in his own inward sanctuary.

12. The mind is often diverted from his teachings by the teachings of those who are not under his influence. I have often heard people say that they had a sweet time in their closet on the Sabbath morn, but they have gone to meeting and by the time it was through, have found it all dissipated. The teachings they heard there conflicted with those of the Spirit of God, and they grieved Him by giving it their attention.

13. Excitement, measures, and talk often quench his influences. When persons give themselves up to much talk, there is little inward communion; and when there is so much that is outward in means to promote religion, the mind grows poor and lean, and takes up with the flummery and show of outside religion.

14. See the importance of having the inward ear open, and of understanding that the senses are not to be confounded with the outward organs of sense. The ear is not a sense but the organ of the sense of hearing. It is no more to be confounded with the sense, than is the trumpet you hold to the ear. So the eye, the bodily organ of sense, is no more the sense itself, than are your spectacles. The glasses do not see, nor does the eye, but the sense of sight sees through them. Hence, you can keep your senses awake and active while you dispense with the outward organs. Why do you shut your eyes when you pray? To prevent your attention from being caught away from God. In like manner you can close your outward ear, so that you may hear God speak. Did it never seem to you as if you actually heard Him speak?--sometimes a Bible passage? I recollect a time, a number of years ago, when the Lord showed me his glory. So sensible was his presence that I never suspected, at the time, that I did not see his glory with bodily eyes. Soon after I was converted, I used to go about before, or at the break of day, to get brethren up to pray, (and I may say that was the first morning prayer meeting I had ever heard of.) One morning I could not get them up; I felt distressed, and in my agony was going away to pray, when all at once the glory of God blazed all around me, and it seemed as if all nature praised the Lord, and none but men looked down and were mute. I wondered they could not see. It seemed to have been some such view that Paul had, when he could not tell whether he was in the body or out of it. When persons experience this, it seems more than a figure of speech to talk of seeing God, but if you want to see Him, you must let the inward senses be awake to the influence of the Spirit.

15. See how the soul is sanctified by the Spirit, and belief of the truth. When the Spirit presents the truth you must believe it. Sanctification is, and must be by faith.

16. See the importance of understanding the ground of the necessity of the divine influence. The reason is that the mind has so shut itself up to selfish influences that the Spirit alone, can break the spell that binds it. Its greatness is manifest by the same reason.

17. The necessity for the Spirit's influence, is our sin, and hence never ought to be brought up as an excuse.

18. All the holiness on earth is induced by the Spirit.

19. If you grieve away the Spirit, you are lost. Nothing else in the universe can save you.

20. See what it is to be led by the Spirit. It is to yield to his influences.

21. How amazingly careless many persons are, in disregarding the influences of the Spirit. Until you are more careful how you talk and act, you will never know what it is to be taught of the Spirit. There is a man who would not grieve his wife for any consideration, but will daily grieve the blessed Spirit. The Spirit stands away back from such a man, knowing it will do no good to interpose. Poor man! If he continue to grieve Him, he will soon do it once too often, and never be forgiven.




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HOLINESS OF CHRISTIANS IN THE PRESENT LIFE --No. 10
Fulness There is in Christ
Lecture X
July 5, 1843

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Col. 2:9, 10: "For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power."

The connection in which this text stands, shows that the Apostle is laboring to establish the distinction between an outside legal religion, and religion by faith in Christ. For this purpose, he warns them in verse eight to "beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." And in the twentieth verse, by an earnest and solemn appeal, he strives to tear them away from "subjection to ordinances after the commandments and doctrines of men." Indeed the main design of the whole epistle was to shut up the Colossians to the religion of faith, and cut them off from that of legality.

In the present discussion it is my design to show--

I. What is not intended by the declaration that Christians are complete in Christ.

II. What is intended.

III. To point out some things which are demanded by our nature, circumstances, and character, in order to complete well-being.

IV. The conditions on which this completeness may be realized in our own experience.


I. What is not intended by the declaration that Christians are complete in Christ.

II. What is intended.

It is intended that in Him all the demands of our being are met--that a full provision is made, and set forth by God to meet all our wants, and make us all that God desires we should be.

III. Some things which are demanded by our nature, circumstances, and character, in order to complete well being.

The question is, what do men really need--what must belong to a Savior in order to his being a Savior to us such as we need?

If I had time to take up the habits, opinions, &c., of society generally, I could show snares and pitfalls, and ambushes arranged with wonderful subtlety and adaptation, and awfully effective for the ruin of mankind. These are not less manifest in family and even individual relations, and at all peculiar crises of life, taking advantage of habits and education and susceptibilities to work out the endless overthrow of men.

Again, I ask how can we escape him? Who can deliver us? We need a wiser and a mightier than he to defeat him and to effect our escape.

IV. The conditions on which this completeness may be received and realized by us, in our own experience. REMARKS.

1. See why Christians are so imperfect. It is because they don't realize their wants, and do not take Him as a complete Savior.

2. They are always like to be, while they know so little of Jesus. I was conversing with one of the principal men in the state, on sanctification. He agreed with me in theory as to its attainability, and then said, that as a matter of fact, no body would realize it in this world. I replied, if you knew what you ought to know about Jesus Christ, you would as soon cut off your right hand as say that. It is a want of a knowledge of Jesus, which leaves men in sin, and makes them weak against it. I have often thought of the sons of Sceva the Jew, who attempted to cast out devils in the name of Jesus, "whom Paul preached," and when they had bidden an evil spirit come out, he replied, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was, leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded." They did not know Christ, and consequently experienced only defeat. Suppose they had told their experience afterwards, to prove that no body ever did or could cast out devils! Ah! It is one thing to hear and read about Christ, and quite another to trust Him, know Him, and become complete in Him.

3. While they place so much reliance on human, and so little on divine teaching, they are like to remain imperfect. Let them stand in that relation in which God has placed them, and both profit the soul; but when men hear the minister or one another and depend on what he says more than on what God says by his word and Spirit, it is fatal to a growth in divine things. As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

4. While men rest in the letter and overlook the spirit of the gospel, they will of course remain imperfect.

5. The same will be true as long as they put their works in the place of Christ, or their watchings, their resolutions, and legal efforts.

6. Also, while their guides and leaders are blind, and while the shepherds frighten away the sheep from their pastures.

7. Many professors don't know Christ, because, as it were, they have only been converted and baptized unto Moses. Others have received John's baptism unto repentance; and others still know Christ as an atoning Savior. They began in the Spirit, and are now trying to become perfect by the flesh.

8. Wherever there is an imperfection in Christian character, there must be ignorance or unbelief, for the text is a promise that covers the whole field of our necessities. It is remarkable how the Bible abounds with promises both general and specific. Some cover our whole necessity--others point to specific wants. The specific promises seem to be given in accommodation to our ignorance and infirmities, lest our general confidence should not suffice in hours of trial; and yet to some minds, a general declaration implying a promise like that in the text affords greater strength than any specific promise.

9. How few realize that if they are not complete in Him it is because of unbelief. The truth is, it is because they have never known the exercise and power of faith.

10. Doubts respecting the doctrine of entire sanctification, are unbelief, for it is impossible that any one should doubt this who has implicit faith in what Christ says. If grace sufficient is promised, the doubts are unbelief.

11. Many deceive themselves by saying--"I believe the promise but I don't believe I shall fulfill the condition." The truth is, believing the promise is fulfilling the condition. How many nullify the promises in this way. They say they believe that the promise would be fulfilled if they complied with the condition, but this they know they do not do, and have no confidence that they shall. And instead of blaming themselves for it, they really turn it into a virtue, by calling it self-distrust. Its real name is unbelief.

12. If Christ is the depositary of all we need, we see why we are commanded to "come boldly to a throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." But true faith is almost universally regarded as presumption, and such boldness as Jacob, Moses, and others exercised exclaimed against as profane. How shocking this is, when, as a matter fact, it is presumption not to come boldly. It is disobedience to a divine requisition.

13. There is no real difficulty in the fact that the promises are conditioned on faith. For faith in promise depends upon confidence in the general character of the promisor, and not to give full credit to the promise is to impeach the character of him who made it. Suppose a man of great wealth and veracity should make a promise with this condition, as indeed every promise necessarily implies it. Would there be any difficulty in the condition? Not the least. So long as we had confidence in his character, we should regard it as absurd to make a difficulty of the condition of faith. But if the man was known, or supposed to be unable or unwilling, or that his general character was bad, then truly the condition would be a stumbling block. Nay, to believe implicitly would be absurd and impossible.

14. It is impossible that unbelief should fail to make the soul wretched, or that faith should not bring it deep repose.

15. What a foundation have we for universal repose in Christ. He is a Savior who exactly and perfectly meets our case and necessities as they are. In Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Oh, how important that we should know Him--that our acquaintance with Him should be full. We need a more thorough acquaintance with Christ than with any body else. There is such a thing as knowing more of Jesus, as having a more intimate acquaintance with Him than that which exists between a husband and his wife, or the dearest friends. Whoever is ignorant of that, is ignorant of the very marrow and fatness of the gospel. A personal acquaintance with Christ strengthens our confidence more and more in Him. Yes, and such an acquaintance removes our filth and makes us clean. James Brainard Taylor exclaimed--"I am clean." Brethren are you clean? Are you complete in Christ? Let us go to Him and receive of his fulness, until we are "filled with all the fulness of God."




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HOLINESS OF CHRISTIANS IN THE PRESENT LIFE --No. 11
Justification
Lecture XI
July 19, 1843

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Rom. 8:1:"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit."

In this discourse, I shall notice,

I. What it is to be in Christ Jesus.

II. What is intended by no condemnation.

III. Why there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.

IV. What is intended by not walking after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

V. None, except those who walk after the Spirit, are in a justified state.


I. What it is to be in Christ Jesus.

Four answers have been given to this question, which I will briefly consider, and then give what I suppose to be the true one.

II. What is intended by no condemnation. III. Why there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus. IV. What is intended by not walking after the flesh, but after the Spirit. V. None except those who walk after the Spirit are in a justified state. REMARKS.

1. I have often thought, and could not help drawing the conclusion that the great mass of professors of religion are mere antinomians, living in the habitual commission of known sin, and yet expecting to be saved. And when they are pressed up to holiness of heart, they say, "I am not expected to be perfect in this life. I expect Christ to make up for my deficiencies." Now such religion is no better than universalism or infidelity. See that professor of religion. What is he doing? Why indulging his appetites and propensities in various ways which he knows to be contrary to the divine will. Ask him about it and he will confess it--he will confess that this is his daily practice; and yet he thinks he is justified. But if the Bible be true, he is not. "Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" But he can tell an experience. Perhaps he wrote it all down lest he should forget it, and tells it over to the hundredth time, how he felt when God pardoned his sins, while he is now living in sin every day. Perhaps he never tells an experience at all, but yet rests back upon something which he felt when he imagined he was converted. Now this is nothing but antinomianism, and how astonishing it is that so many should cry out so vehemently about antinomianism who are nothing but antinomians themselves. What a terrible delusion is this!

2. Men are justified by faith in Christ, because they are sanctified by faith in Him. They do not have righteousness imputed to them, and thus stand justified by an arbitrary fiction, while they are personally unholy, but they are made righteous by faith, and that is the reason why they are justified.

3. To talk about depending on Christ to be justified by Him, while indulging in any form of known sin, is to insult Him. It is to charge him with being the minister of sin. A lady, not long since, was talking with her minister about certain females who were given up to dress in the utmost style of extravagant fashion. He said he thought the most dressy people in his church were the best Christians. They were the most humble, and dependent on Christ. That's his idea about religion. What did he mean? Why that such persons did not pretend to be holy, and professed to depend wholly on Christ. They acknowledged themselves sinners. And well they might! But what kind of religion is that? And how did he get such a notion? How else but by supposing that persons are not expected to be holy in this life, and that they can be justified while living in sin! Now I would as soon expect a pirate, whose hands are red with blood to be saved, as professors of religion who indulge in any form of sin, lust, pride, worldliness, or any other iniquity. "Do we make void the law through faith? God forbid: Yea, we establish the law." But what a state of things must it be, when a minister can utter such a sentiment as that?

4. Such an idea of justification is open to the infidel objection that the gospel is a system of impunity in sin. The Unitarians have stereotyped this objection against faith. Ask them why they say so. They answer, because the doctrine of justification by faith is injurious to good morals. A circuit Judge, some years since said, "I cannot admit the Bible to be true. It teaches that men are saved by faith, and I therefore regard the gospel as injurious to good morals, and as involving a principle that would ruin any government on earth." Now, did he get this idea from the Bible? No, but from the false representations made of the teachings of the Bible. It teaches no such thing, but plainly asserts that a faith that does not sanctify is a dead faith.

5. There are many hoping that they are Christians, who yet live so that their conscience condemns them. "For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things." Now to teach that persons may be justified while their conscience condemns them, contradicts this passage. If our own conscience condemns us, God does. Shall He be less just than our own nature?

6. A great multitude of professors are merely careless sinners. Now do let me ask, if from the way many persons live in the Church, compared with the way many careless sinners live, is it not perfectly manifest that they are in no wise different. And is it censorious to say that they are mere hardened sinners? What will become of them?

7. Many who are accounted the most pious, are only convicted sinners. It is a most remarkable thing, and one which I have taken great pains to observe, that many, thought to be converted in the late revivals, are only convicted sinners, that is, mere legalists. The preaching makes them so. The claims of the law are held up, and obligation enforced to comply with it. They are told to trust Christ for pardon, and they attempt it. Many really do, while others stop short with mere resolutions. All this class will go back, or stay in the Church almost constantly distressed by the lashings of conscience. If you hold up the law they are distressed, and if you hold up Christ they are distressed by the consciousness that they do not exercise faith in Him. Hold up either, and they have no rest. They are really convicted sinners, and yet they think this is religion. In time of coldness they always sink back, but in times of revival they are aroused and driven to the performance of a heartless service which continually fails to appease the demands of conscience. They know of no other experience than this. They refer you to the 7th of Romans, to prove that this is Christian experience, and thus bolster up their hope. I recollect some time since when I had preached against this as Christian experience, a minister said to me, "Well, Bro. Finney, I can't believe that." Why? "Because that's my experience, and I believe I am a Christian." A strange reason that! I suppose it was his experience! Great multitudes have this, and suppose it genuine. I fear, in some instance, whole Churches are made up of such, and their ministers teach them that this is genuine religion. What would the minister just referred to say? That is Paul's experience, and mine too. And the people often derive much comfort from what the minister says in his experience. Oh, what teaching is this? It is high time there was an overturning in the Church on this subject. Whoever has no experience but that of the 7th of Romans is not justified at all, and were it not that great multitudes are deluded, it could not be that so many could sit down contented under this view of the subject.

8. One who walks after the Spirit, has this inward testimony that he pleases God. An individual may think he does, when he does not, just as persons in a dream may think themselves awake, find it all a dream. So individuals may think they please God when they do not, but it is nevertheless true that those who please God know it. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.

9. This view of the subject does not touch that of the final perseverance of the saints. What I am attempting to show is,

(1.) That true believers are justified or pardoned, and treated as righteous, on account of the Atonement of Christ.

(2.) That those who truly believe, are justified because they are actually righteous. The question is not whether a Christian who has fallen into sin will die in that state, but whether if he does he will be damned. Whether, while in sin, he is justified.

10. Those who sin do not abide in Christ. "And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him neither known Him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous even as He is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin because he is born of God." While they abide in Christ, they are not condemned, but if they overlook what abiding in Christ is, they are sure to fall into sin, and then, they are condemned as a matter of course. The secret of holy living, and freedom from contamination, is to abide in Christ. Says Paul, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God." We must have such confidence in Him as to let Him have the entire control in all things.

11. Sinners can see how to be saved. They must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with all their heart. They must become holy and walk after the Spirit.

12. Convicted professors can also see what to do. Have you felt misgivings and a load on your conscience. Are you never able to say, I am justified--I am accepted in the Beloved. You must come to Christ now, if you now experience condemnation.

13. There is neither peace nor safety except in Christ, but in Him is all fulness, and all we need. In Him you may come to God, as children, with the utmost confidence.

14. If you are in Christ, you have peace of mind. How sweetly the experience of a Christian answers to this. Many of you perhaps can testify to this. You had been borne down with a burden too heavy, crying out, "O, wretched man that I am; who shall deliver me from the body of this death." But your faith took hold on Christ, and suddenly all your burden was gone. You could no longer feel condemned. The stains of sin are all wiped out by the hand of grace. You can now look calmly at your sins, and not feel them grind like an iron yoke. Are you in this state? Can you testify from your own experience that there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus? If so, you can reflect upon your past sins without being ground down into the dust under the guilty burden which rolls upon you. The instant you experience a freedom from condemnation, your whole soul yearns with benevolence for others. You know what their state is. Ah, yes, you know what it is to drink the wormwood and the gall--to have the arrows of the Almighty drink up your spirit, and when you find deliverance you must of course, want to teach others what is the great salvation--to strengthen those that are weak. And an individual who can sit down at ease, and not find his benevolence like fire shut up in his bones--who does not even feel agonized, not for himself, but for others, cannot have yet found that there is now no condemnation. He may dream that he has, but if he ever awakes, he will find it but a dream. Oh, how many need to be aroused from this sleep of death!




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HOLINESS OF CHRISTIANS IN THE PRESENT LIFE --No. 12
Unbelief
Lecture XII
August 2, 1843

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Heb. 3:19:"So we see that they could not enter in, because of unbelief."

In this discourse I shall notice,

I. What unbelief is not.

II. What it is.

III. Instances and evidence of unbelief.

IV. The tendency of unbelief.

V. The guilt of unbelief.


I. What unbelief is not.

II. What it is. III. Instances and evidences of unbelief. IV. The tendency of unbelief. V. The guilt of unbelief. REMARKS.

1. We see what to think of those, who say they cannot realize that the promises will be fulfilled. Can't realize! Hark! Suppose your child should say, Pa, you promised to give me a New Year's present, but I can't realize that you will. You would say, my child, do you think I lie? Have I not given you my word, that I would give you a present? What higher evidence can men have than the solemn word and oath of God? What shall make it more sure? Who shall underwrite for Him? If what He has said does not satisfy you, He can give no security. Can't realize! Horrible!

2. We see what to think of those who say they believe, but are not duly influenced by their faith. They profess to believe in the necessity of salvation, and in the eternity of hell torments; but then neither act respecting themselves or others, as the magnitude of these truths demand. The fact is, they don't believe at all.

3. We see, that no doctrine is believed any farther than it influences the conduct. What is faith? It is, as we have shown, the delivering of the mind up to the influence of known truth. It follows, then, that there is no faith where the conduct remains uninfluenced.

4. Heretical conduct proves heretical faith. The truth is, all heresy belongs to the heart; and however holy a man's creed may be, if his conduct is wrong, he is heretical in heart.

5. We see the wickedness of admitting that the gospel proffers entire sanctification in this life, and yet not expecting it. There are those, as you know who admit that the gospel proffers entire sanctification, on condition of faith--they admit that its provisions are ample, and yet do not expect to possess it in this life. What is that, but unbelief?

6. We see also the wickedness of saying, that the expectation of it is unreasonable and erroneous. They say, that to believe we shall actually attain it in this life is a great, and dangerous error. What is that but unbelief in its worst form?

7. Also the guilt of those, who teach men, that it is an error to expect sanctification in this life, and raise the cry of heresy against those who do teach them to expect it. If it is promised, it must be sheer unbelief and dreadful guilt to doubt it.

8. The good men who formerly rejected this doctrine, did not see, and admit, the fulness of the provisions. President Edwards, for example, did not admit this, and it is manifest, from the account which he gives of his wife's experience, as well as from his writings generally, that he had no such idea before his mind.

9. But what shall we say of those who make this admission, and yet do not expect the blessing? They do not seem to understand that this is unbelief. They say, they do not distrust God, but they distrust themselves. This is a great mistake. If faith is implicit confidence in God's promises, and if these promises cover full provisions for sanctification, then there is no room left for self-distrust; and in that case, self-distrust is distrust in God. Take, for example, this promise. "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." Here is a promise, covering the wants of our whole nature. Now, I want to know what state of mind that is, which does not expect its realization? Whether it is self-distrust, or distrust in God? It is downright unbelief. It is virtually saying, Lord, Thou hast promised to "sanctify me wholly in soul, body, and spirit," but I don't believe it. I don't believe thou canst, I have such distrust in myself.

10. There is no consistency in making the admission of full provisions, and then rejecting the expectation of being sanctified by them.

11. How can the expectation of being sanctified in this life, be rejected without unbelief, in view of I Thess. 5:23, 24. Suppose I get up, and read over this promise--"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," and then turn round and say, now brethren, I warn you against believing that He will sanctify you. But the promise comes thundering back--"Faithful is He that calleth you who also will do it." I rally again, and say, Edwards, and Payson, and Brainerd, were not sanctified, and why should you expect to be? What would that differ from the course adopted by most of the ministers at the present time? But here comes up the old cavil, that although provisions are made, yet they are conditioned on faith, and I have no right to expect sanctification till I believe. I answer, faith and expectation are identical; and if you do not expect sanctification, you do not believe God, and are making Him a liar.

12. To tell men not to expect to be wholly sanctified in this life, and preserved blameless, is to warn them not to believe God.

13. You can see why you do not enter into rest. It is because you have no faith. You have not cast your anchor within the vail. You are like a vessel, drifting along the majestic Niagara, towards the falls, and already approaching destruction; but will not let down its anchor, although it knows the rocks are within reach, upon which it might fasten and be safe. Or, like a man in a dungeon, to whom a golden chain is let down, and who is exhorted to lay hold and be drawn up, but will not.

14. It is wicked to expect to sin all our days. God has said, "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace." Therefore, to expect to live, carrying about a load of sin, till you die, is abominable wickedness.

15. The Church is never like[ly] to be holy, while it is exhorted to unbelief, instead of faith. It is a horrible thing, that much of the teaching of the present day, is nothing else than teaching men not to believe God. And lest they should expect sanctification, they are pointed back to those, who profess to come short of it--to antinomian perfectionism--and to every thing which may bring the doctrine into disrepute, and are warned against it, as if it were the pestilence. O, my soul, what is this! Is this the way the Church is to be sanctified? My brethren if you mean to be kept from sin, and antinomianism of every kind, and from every other delusion, take hold of these promises, and believe. Expect them to be fulfilled, and they will be. But if you doubt you shall walk in blindness. For says the Prophet, "If ye will not believe, ye shall not be established."




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HOLINESS OF CHRISTIANS IN THE PRESENT LIFE --No. 13
Gospel Liberty
Lecture XIII
August 16, 1843

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."

In this lecture I shall show,

I. What is intended by the yoke of bondage.

II. What it is to be entangled with it.

III. What is the liberty here spoken of.

IV. How Christ makes us free.

V. The danger of becoming entangled again.

VI. When Christians are in bondage.

VII. What is their remedy.


I. What is intended by the yoke of bondage.

The Apostle had immediately under his eye, the ceremonial law of the Jews. This is evident from the whole context. Judaizing teachers had come in, and were trying to ingraft the cumbersome observances of the Jewish ritual upon the gospel. This the Apostle was so grieved at, and felt to be such a departure from Christ, that he declared they were fallen from grace in complying with such instruction. But it was not simply because he rejected the ceremonial law, and regarded it as useless, that the Apostle thus resisted the observance of it, but because he had his eye on a principle of the last importance to the Church. Why was the ceremonial law a yoke of bondage? Because it had no tendency to reform the heart, and thus render its own observance a matter of choice. Any precept given us, contrary to the state of mind in which we are, is a yoke of bondage. And this is true, whether it be a precept of the Old or New Testament. The principle is universal. You may see it in the conduct of children. Impose some requirement upon them, contrary to the state of their hearts and you will never fail to see that their obedience is not cheerful, but constrained--a mere servitude. Every requirement, then, the spirit of which we have not, is to us a yoke of bondage.

II. What it is to be entangled with it.

III. What is the liberty here spoken of. IV. How Christ makes us free. V. The danger of becoming entangled again. VI. When Christians are in bondage. VII. What is their remedy. REMARKS.

1. You may see from this subject, the difference between a legal and a gospel religion. A legal religion is works without love, a gospel religion, works by love. A brother said the other day, he did not understand this distinction. Why it is obvious as the distinction between day and night. Both the true Christian and the legalist works, but the one works with, the other without love. They both do the same things outwardly, but the one is free and the other a slave in the performance.

2. See why the moral law is called the perfect law of liberty. It was ordained to life, and when obeyed in its spirit, gives life. But why do persons find it unto death? Because when the spirit is lost, the letter kills. It is when it is legally, that is, heartlessly obeyed, that it works our overthrow instead of our deliverance.

3. See what is intended by such passages as Gal. 5:18, "But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law;" and Rom. 6:14, "For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace." It is not intended that the law is abolished, but that its spirit has become their law. They are not under it in such a sense as to need its sanctions to press them up to duty.

4. Many feel that their religion is mere slavery--a hard, up-hill business. The language of their heart is, "it is hard to obey, and harder still to love." But they are ignorant of the true nature of religion. It is the easiest thing in the world to him that has it. Legalists complain about this world, that it is such a bad one, so hard to live in, and keep right. But it is not such a hard world as they think. Religion certainly does not make it any harder, but altogether easier. The difficulty with those who find it such a hard world, is, that their hearts are bad, and if they find it a severe task to obey God, it is because they have not the spirit of obedience. If they have any religion it is of the wrong kind, and they are entirely deceived if they think all others have the same kind that they have. Some persons, when they see others joyful, say they are deceived. They don't feel so themselves, and they wonder how any body can. And then they point to the seventh chapter of Romans, or to David Brainerd, who, although a good man, was so hypochondriacal that his experience would be gloomy as a matter of course. Such persons are always suspicious whenever they see any of the spirit of liberty manifested, and I don't wonder, for mankind are naturally suspicious of those beyond themselves. How strange it must appear to them, and how it must stumble them to see persons almost dance for joy when they emerge from bondage, and yet this in not wonderful. Why, see that slave, with his back all blistered in the sun, set free. Is it strange that he should leap and bound about with fulness of joy? It is thus that Christians feel, and the Bible commands them to rejoice; but legalists don't understand it, and think they are possessed of the devil. Why, I have sometimes heard persons say, "That's not solemn--its fanaticism." And then they turn to some gloomy slave with a dead body strapped on his back, and groaning under his burden, and say--"That's the humble one--he's none of your visionaries!"

5. Multitudes have no true idea of gospel liberty. They have made a credible profession of religion, and are toiling out its duties, but what liberty means they know not--and perhaps they are even ministers of the gospel! Of course, such persons don't expect liberty. I recently heard of a revival, in which the minister said to inquirers, "don't expect to be happy in this world; I never was, nor do I expect to be until I get to heaven. I don't know what it is to have enjoyment in religion." Now there is a fundamental error in such instruction. Not happy! Had I been present where such instruction was given, I would have told that minister that he was not a converted man if that was his experience. It is thus that a legal religion is inculcated on converts, by legal ministers and legal professors. But how many persons are just here--afraid to find any other way, for fear it will lead to delusion! O, that it might be seen that a religion which does not produce present peace and blessedness, is not, of course, a religion of love, and is therefore false.

6. Any course of instruction that presses duty without holding up Christ, is like requiring labor without food and brings into bondage. It is like requiring the Israelites to make brick without straw, and those who give such instruction are obliged to whip, and scourge, and abuse the dear Church of God to get the little service they do out of them. Hold up duty without Christ and legality is inevitable. They are starved for want of Christ. But let them see Christ and they will work, of course, as duty is appropriately enforced.

7. It is the other extreme to hold up Christ without calling to duty, and begets antinomianism. To feed the Church with Christ and leave them inactive, is the way to produce a religious dyspepsia. But give us the right food and work enough to do, and then we will thrive. Only let us have the bread that cometh down from heaven, and we shall have spiritual health, and even physical health, if we only have work enough to keep us busy.

8. If we may believe the confessions of the great mass of professors, they are in bondage. This fact has weighed on my mind for a long time. I labored to convert sinners for many years, but saw them fall, under the legal instruction of ministers, into bondage. I labored and prayed for them night and day, and do now, and yet they seem to know little of liberty. They often, by their looks, seem to ask, "Is this Christianity?" "Is this the boasted religion of Christ?" "Wherein does it differ from the Jew's religion?" A man said to me once with great honesty, although in vulgar language, "The gospel is not what it is cracked up to be." His idea was that the gospel promised liberty, but did not confer it. Now how many would say just so, if they would tell their hearts. They would say "the gospel is not what the Apostle said it was." Yes, poor soul, it is, but you have not got it. Taste and see. Come to the gospel feast. You have compassed that mountain long enough. Don't expect Christ to make you free while you turn your back on Him.

9. When the power of religion is gone, the form but hardens the heart, and makes men more pharisaical and hypocritical every day. What, you say, would you have a man do? Cast off his profession, and stop prayer, and go back to the world? No, but love and serve in the spirit. But if you will not do this, then give up your profession, that is my advice. Do you doubt whether God would rather have you give up your profession, than live in mere form, and heartless obedience? "I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art luke-warm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." How loathsome to Him are the mockeries, and slavish obedience to his holy will! The text represents Christ as actually vomiting them up. Now I would not recommend apostacy but condemn hypocrisy, and bring you to Christ.

10. None really understand this liberty but those who have experienced it, and those who have experienced it cannot find language to express it.

11. Many exclaim against antinomianism who are mere legalists, while both these characters are an abomination to God.

12. When the shepherds attempt to drive instead of lead the flock, they lay a snare before them. We cannot make people love by whipping, scolding, and driving them. God has given his law with its sanctions, but He opens his blessed heart to beget love. Dearly beloved, are any of you in bondage? Have you left your first love? Did somebody tell you that you must go down into the valley of humiliation, and did you go? Alas! what a mistake! When you should have gone up to the mountain by faith. What is true humility? Will you return to your first love? And will you "commit the keeping of your souls to Him in well doing as unto a faithful Creator?" Let us all go to Christ to receive our liberty.




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Joy in God
Lecture XIV
September 27, 1843

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Hab. 3:17, 18: "Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation."

I. What is implied in the state of mind which the prophet describes.

II. This state is indispensable to peace of mind and to salvation.


I. What is implied in this state of mind.

And this state implies more than mere submission, in the commonly received religious use of that term. The prophet did not barely tolerate God's dealings in his providence; his language means not simply, that he would not find fault, that he would not murmur or complain, that he would tolerate God so far as not to go into overt rebellion against Him. But what does he say? "I will rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of my salvation." He goes the whole length of full and overflowing joy, and extatic rejoicing.

God, though He delights not in the death of a sinner, but desires rather his return to life and happiness, and salvation, yet renders the righteous retribution which the good of universal being demands; not in the spirit of revenge and malice, but from a holy and unalterable regard to the dictates of impartial benevolence; and in all this display of his judgment, He is everlastingly and unchangeably at peace with Himself, and forever rejoices in the consummation of right, and the maintenance of eternal justice, in accordance with, and subservient to the great end of universal good. In this work of his, God does, and cannot but rejoice, for his name is Love. So the righteous prophet also, rejoiced in sympathy with God, and in complete conformity of heart to the same great end.

This state of mind is such, that the soul cannot be deprived of its portion, while God lives and reigns, while He holds the throne and sways the sceptre of infinite love. The mind cannot be despoiled of good, of happiness, and joy, of an all-satisfying portion, while God endures; and though all besides give way and disappear, God remains, and the soul is full.
II. This state is indispensable to peace of mind and to salvation. REMARKS.

1. This state of mind is indispensable to usefulness. A man cannot be truly useful in the world--cannot do what is needed to be done--cannot make the world holy and happy by his influence, till he is thus. He cannot truly represent God, promote genuine religion, or enforce the claims of piety on man, till he is thus. He may have much zeal, create conviction, produce excitement, but he does not and cannot lead the soul to God. He does not know what true religion is in his own experience, and he cannot tell others what it is, however clear his intellect may be, and sway their minds under the power of truth, for he is a stranger to that honest, hearty, deep-felt conviction of the truth, and that personal consecration, devotion, and experience of the joy flowing therefrom, without which, commonly all efforts are in vain. His life, conversation, conduct, and preaching, will not exemplify true religion without this experience.

2. Any thing short of this in a professor of religion, is a gross stumbling block. What! profess religion, declare God to be the all-sufficient and never-failing portion of the soul--profess to rely implicitly on Him, and trust in Him always and forever, and yet practically show the same anxiety and carefulness, the same distress and perturbation, the same uneasy, restless disquietude, that other people have? Is not that a stumbling block? Would it have been honorable to God, had the prophet gone on to complain, and lament the loss of comforts--to cry out, What shall I do? I am undone! if he had refused to be in sympathy with God, to justify Him in all his doings, and love Him, and rejoice in Him through all? And does it not dishonor God, for professedly pious men now to distrust his goodness, and murmur at his justice? Is it not a stumbling block to those who look on and see their inconsistency?

3. Many seem to be reconciled to nothing else in God, but his mercy, and that without regard to the conditions of its exercise, as though that could be mercy, which should be put forth inconsistent with holiness, as if mere fondness, the obeying the impulses of blind sensibility, could be mercy at all. They are moved to joy and praise only by the compassion of God, and are comforted by nothing but a view of his mercy and compassion. They are pained by any other apprehension of God's character, by any other view of his dealings with his creatures. Instead of rejoicing in God, in the great, and glorious, and harmonious whole, which makes up the perfection of his character, they can see Him only in one light, that of compassion and grace. Had the prophet been so, could he have said what he did? Every sustenance of life cut off, the world starving around him, and desolation and desert wastes stretching over the land--how could he rejoice, if he had had complacency only in mercy and compassion?

This class of persons seem to have no other idea of religion, than a sort of good natured fondness, a sort of easy disposition, so as not to be angry at sin or sinners, but to exercise a mere blind indiscriminate compassion for sinners, and a disposition to treat all, impenitent and penitent, with the same lenity, and in just the same way. These men neither know, not worship the true God; the Bible is a stumbling block to them, and Satan keeps them constantly in a worry and fret, by pressing on them, these points of God's character. Much of the Old Testament--the dealings of God with the heathen--the prayers of David in the Psalms for vengeance--these seem to be the spirit of hate and malice; they will not comprehend that a God of love can inflict the penalty of a righteous law, and yet they cannot shut their eyes to the undeniable fact that He does visit the sinner with utter destruction.

4. Holy beings, from the very nature of holiness, rejoice none the less in God because He rules the earth in judgment, and because He visits the world with calamity--love Him none the less--confide in Him none the less--are no less happy in Him because He sends sinners to hell--they sympathize with Him in all He does, in the promotion of the highest good of the universe; they love Him none the less for his scourgings, for his desolations, for his destruction of men and of nations, than for the pouring out of his Spirit to bring the world to salvation. They know he has the same great end in view in both cases, and they love Him equally in both.

5. Many professors of religion are at heart, Universalists. They are not thoroughly and really with God, in his administration of government. Universalism has its seat in the heart. It is a state of heart, divesting God of his holiness, of his justice, of his prerogative to execute terrible judgments, to send the wicked to hell. These things Universalism cannot love. Their God must not do such things as these. No, surely! Is this true religion? to limit God, to say, do thus or thus; punish not me, my friends, or my race; no matter how rebellious we are, destroy us not; no matter how incorrigible we are; or we cannot love you? This is selfishness, and is regarded by Jehovah as such.

6. See why so many are disturbed by God's providential dealings. Because they have not the confidence in God which belongs to true religion. By judgments they are disturbed, thrown off their pivot, and down they go into rebellious murmurings, or impious infidelity. If any thing goes out of their little channel, contrary to their marked out path, across their finite judgments, all is wrong.

7. Many seem to have no enjoyment in religion any longer than the providence of God seems to favor their particular plans and favorite schemes. Forsooth, God does just as I want Him to do, all my notions are exactly realized, my ship goes before the breeze with all sails set, in beautiful trim, and therefore, God is good and I am happy! Their country is blest, their state is prosperous, their commonwealth is in peace, their family is in prosperity, their circumstances are comfortable, and therefore, God is good, and they are happy! They love God for all this, they rejoice in his love. But let Him thwart them, run across their track, turn upside down their cherished plans, blow to the winds their favorite schemes, and what then? What then? They tolerate God perhaps, perhaps not even that; they by no means rejoice now in their God, they do not now joy in the God of their salvation. Oh, no! They cannot help what God has done, to be sure, He is too strong for them; but suppose they could, what would they do? Now what is the matter? They have no true religion. They thought they had religion. God was so good and kind to them, they thought they loved Him, but it was themselves they loved, and Him only because He was subservient to them. They were pleased to have God for an almighty servant, surely they were; but to have Him on the throne, that was another matter! Their own way they are supremely set on, not on God's way. Instead of rejoicing in God's will, whether or not it is like theirs, God must succumb to them, or they are displeased and grieved.

8. To know God as the all-sufficient portion of the soul, is the highest knowledge. No man knows any thing as he ought to know, till he knows this. Till he knows God thus, he has no knowledge of any avail for happiness. All other is worse than useless without this. How often have I thought upon the quiet and happiness of ignorance. Ignorance, by its very want of knowledge, avoids much restlessness and anxiety. An increase of knowledge in the same unreconciled state of heart, but increases misery and wretchedness. Learning is only a curse, without the knowledge of God as the portion of the soul.

9. The happiness of the true saints is secure, because it depends not on external and contingent circumstances, but on God Himself. They know God, and to know Him is eternal life. As long as God lives and reigns, they know their happiness cannot be disturbed.

President Edward's wife, at one period, thought she could not bear certain things--she thought certain losses would destroy her peace. She thought she could not bear the alienation of her husband's affection, the loss of her reputation among his people, &c. But when her soul came into communion with God, she was delivered from the fears which had distressed her, she was carried so high above all earthly things, they had no power to affect her happiness. Like the glorious sun, which from its height in the heavens looks down on the earth below, and rolls rejoicingly on, unmoved by all that passes among us mortals, so the soul whose trust is in God, rests in exquisite peace on the bosom of exhaustless love, far beyond all sublunary influences and cares. The martyr at the stake, though in the extremest agony of body, is yet, often full, inexpressibly full of glory and joy. Why is this? How can it be? God is the natural and all-sufficient portion of the soul, and it rests in Him.

10. Sinners cannot be happy, from their very state of mind as sinners. If they do not know God, they can find no peace for the sole of their foot; like Noah's dove, forever on the wing and no place for them. And why? There is no place but in God, and when it rests not here, it must remain restless, forever seeking peace and finding none. It is thrown from its pivot--it is naturally impossible for that soul to be happy. It is gnawing upon itself, eating out its own vitals. The soul must return to God, must dwell in God, repose under the shadow of his pavilion, or happiness is out of the question. The home of the soul, is the bosom of God. "Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations," is the beautiful and true exclamation of the Psalmist. Till the mind finds its home, its home in God, where can it be quiet? The prophet's soul had reached its home. In this dwelling-place was he rejoicingly secure--without care, without anxiety, without fear; with all joy and glory, in unspeakable blessedness.

11. Those who do not know God thus, do not know God truly.

They have but the outside of religion, the form, the rite, but where is the spirit? Where the filial love, the child-like confidence, the simple unquestioning trust, the artless, heart-felt joy, the soul-absorbing delight in God? Most religion seems to be external--it comes to the temple, it views the building, the splendor, the sacrifices, the gorgeous apparel, the imposing ceremony, it joins blindly in the ritual. But the new and living way, into the holy of holies, opened by the great high priest--that way its foot never trod, that inner glory its eye never rested on. Most have no personal communion with their King, no fellowship with Jesus Christ, or scarcely any; but all is distant, cold, hearsay. They have heard of God by the hearing of the ear, but their eyes never saw Him. Now, the prophet had gone beyond the outward service, in beyond the veil into the holiest of all, even to the presence chamber of the King. In view of all that his eye, in the ken of prophetic vision, saw of judgment and calamity, his soul was calm, nay not calm, but intensely wrought up to the most exquisite joy, and bliss untold. The prophet knew God and knew Him to some purpose.

12. This is the only reasonable state. This, and this only, answers fully, the demands of the intelligence.

13. Sinners can see the necessity of a change of heart. They know this is not their state of mind, every sinner knows perfectly well he does not feel thus towards God; every sinner knows he cannot be happy, except his own way is followed, his own will gratified. He cannot rejoice in God let him do what he will, and yet who does not know that this is universal in heaven? How could he be happy in heaven, were he to go there? He has no sympathy with God, no delight in his will, he would be alone in heaven; the holiness of that pure place, how could it receive him, or be congenial with his selfishness?

14. If this be true, professors can see why they are not saved, nor likely to be saved. They have not that spirit, which is the essential element of a state of salvation.

15. Many seem to rest in conviction. They see their sins. They are in agony. There they rest. The agony, be sure, subsides, but that uneasy state produced by a sense of present guilt remains, while they should pass through conviction into a state of conscious consecration, conscious forgiveness, and acceptance, and resting their souls joyfully in God. Many expect no such thing, look for, labor for no such thing as continual peace and happiness in God.

16. They who think outward circumstances essential to peace, think so, because they do not know God. If they only were thus and thus, if they only had this and that and that, then they could enjoy religion. If I had some Christian society, if my husband were pious, if I were not so poor, if I enjoyed good health, or were not so severely afflicted, if the Church were only awake and active, if these, and a thousand things were as I wish they were, I could enjoy religion, but as it is, in my circumstances, I cannot rejoice, I am in distress, in solitude, in persecution, in poverty; how can I be glad? How can you? How could the prophet rejoice? He could rejoice by having God for his all-sufficient portion, and his everlasting home. So could you rejoice. If you knew God thus, no suffering, not the most intense, could shake the fabric of your bliss, and throw your soul from its firm resting place, on the everlasting Rock.

17. Why, sinners seek happiness in vain. They seek it where it cannot be found--every where but in God. All sorts of knowledge they strive to attain, but the knowledge of God. In all directions, they push their researches, but towards God. Every thing else they do, but give themselves to God. They seek the world, its pleasures, honors, riches, its fame, its glory--can these be an everlasting portion? They pass away like a dream. Can the soul say--"If all these pass away, and disappear, yet is my treasure secure, my happiness unmoved? Indeed no, for these were the sources of your joy, and how can you be happy? You will say-- "Ye have taken away my gods, and what have I more?" So might the Christian's hope be destroyed, if God could be dethroned, and Satan have full rule--then might the Christian say--"All joy is fled from my soul." But while the throne of God stands unshaken, his soul remains safe who has put his trust therein. Can riches make a man happy? Is the richest man in country happy? Nay, he is one of the most miserable men, and he grows more wretched every day. How could he more effectually become the sport of winds and waves, of every vicissitude, than by placing his heart on riches? His houses burn down, his ships founder at sea, his tenants fail to pay their rent, he is at the mercy of every wind that blows. Can he say--"Let every penny of my wealth be burnt up, and still I am happy?" Young man, you are a student, you are talented, ambitious, aspiring--you climb, and climb, and climb, the ladder of promotion, to the summit of greatness. Are you happy? You are only multiplying incalculably the vulnerable points of your soul, and from the very peak of your fame, you will topple and fall, and plunge into the lowest deeps of perdition. O, how mad! Why not come back to God, know God, and be able to say, "He lives, and reigns, and I am happy."

18. The true knowledge of God completely ravishes the soul. Men think they can be satisfied in some object of their choice. This is a mistake with respect to all created things. But with respect to God it is sublimely true! In God is the soul swallowed up, absorbed, hidden, lost, in an ocean of bliss.

No man should stop short of this knowledge. Stop not till you reach this high goal. Professor, stop not till you arrive at this blissful consummation. Be not content till you can rest in God as Habakkuk did. He was no more than in a state of salvation. He was no more than happy. This was not the peculiar privilege of a prophet. And suppose it were then so. What did Christ mean, when he said, "The least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he?" You may be able to say not only this, which the prophet did, but every thing in the same direction, in the strongest possible manner.

19. Wherever you lack this state, you may know you have unbelief. If there is any thing in which you cannot say, "I rejoice in God," you are in unbelief, and have no right to stay there a moment.

Most professors know little or nothing of this state of confidence and joy, and therefore represent religion falsely, represent it as a gloomy, sepulchral, death-bed affair, not to be thought of at the same time with joy and gladness.

God deliver us and bring us to this state of joy in Him.




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The Benevolence of God
Lectures XV
December 6, 1843

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College

Text.--1 John 4:16: "God is love."

It is not my intention, in commenting upon these words, to prove them to be true, for I should consider myself poorly employed in attempting to prove the truth of any passage of Scripture. It is not so much the business of the minister of the gospel to defend the truths of the Bible, as it is to expound and illustrate them, as he finds them revealed, and to show their bearing on the relations and responsibilities of men. It would be easy for me to advance many arguments, drawn from the whole range of the created universe, to show that "God is love;" but this I shall not do at this time. I shall merely.

I. Show what is the meaning of the text.

II. State some things which must be true if "God is love."


I. What is the meaning of the words of the text.

II. State some things which must be true if "God is love."
This false notion arises from an ignorance of the fact that God exercises all the attributes of his character in every action, and therefore the different phases of his executive volitions, all have the same moral character, for his character belongs solely to his intention, and that results in all his acts, his mercy, justice, &c. His virtue lies back of his executive actions. It is only the flowing out of the vast fountain of benevolence within Himself.
REMARKS.

1. We see why implicit faith and confidence in God is a duty. Faith would not, and could not be a duty, if God was not a God of love; a God of wisdom, in fine, just such a God as the scriptures say He is.

2. If "God is love," it follows that any thing inconsistent with perfect confidence in Him is infinitely wicked--hence,

3. Any thing like murmuring against his providences must be very sinful.

4. We see why universal and perfect obedience to God is a duty. If God were not love, obedience to Him would not be a duty. If his laws were not founded on benevolence, we should be under no obligation to obey them. But as God is love, and as his laws were framed with a benevolent intention, we are bound to obey Him, and a rejection of his laws is rebellion against the good of the universe.

5. Our subject gives us a clue to the correct interpretation of the Bible--we must make every thing contained in it, consistent with the perfect benevolence of God. The fact once announced that God is love, every thing in the scriptures must be explained by the light of that truth.

6. We have a key to explain the providences of God. We often hear people say, in a complaining way--"why did God do so and so? Why did He afflict me in such and such a manner?" Now the answer to such questions is obvious--it is because the laws of benevolence demand it. So of all the movements of divine providence, and grace, whether they occasion suffering or happiness, they are all put forth for one and the same reason, and that, because benevolence requires them.

7. The benevolence of God lays no foundation for the inference of universal salvation. It is no more reasonable to infer from the benevolence of God, that misery will not exist in a future world, than it would be to infer from the same premise, that there will be no more misery in this world--it would be just as reasonable to say that pain does not exist at all, as it would be to say that it will not exist to all eternity. But it is correct to say that it will have no power over the holy and the good in a future state. We stand on firm ground when we affirm this, but we have no authority from reason or revelation, for saying that great and incalculable evil will not exist in some part of the universe to all eternity.

8. To my own mind, a weighty objection to the second advent doctrines as now promulgated, is found in the fact that God is love. I cannot see how it could be consistent with the benevolence of God to destroy the world at the present time. So far as we know, and the fact is not disputed by any believer in the doctrines of Christianity, a great majority of those who have inhabited the earth, have gone to hell. Now God saw this from the beginning, and could He have benevolently ordained the destruction of the world under such circumstances? It is no answer to this argument, to say that "men are free, and can escape hell or not as they please, and therefore God is clear of their blood"--for suppose that there was but one world in the universe, and that God had peopled it with beings who would certainly be eternally miserable, grant if you please that their own agency had made them so--grant that God had done his best to prevent their misery--I ask would God have any right to make such a world? By no means, unless He should see that it would occasion sufficient happiness to Himself, to overbalance the misery of the creatures placed in such circumstances. Now what could be thought of the benevolence of God, if at the present time, under existing circumstances, He should destroy the world? We are to judge of the character of God, by his dealings with us. We are told but little of his doings in heaven--we are not told whether the sun, or the moon, or the stars are inhabited, therefore we must judge of the character of God by his doings here. Let us remember this, and let us remember that when God created the world, He had full knowledge of all that would result from its creation, and if, foreseeing that nine tenths of its inhabitants would be eternally miserable, that a vast majority of those who have peopled it would go to hell--if, I say, notwithstanding all this, He had determined to wipe the world out of existence now, when all or the most of the results have been evil, could we consider Him as a God of love? It is no answer to this question, to say that we do not know how much good God will accomplish in other parts of the universe, by the destruction of the earth at the present time. As I just said, we are to judge of the character of God by his dealings here, not by his actions in other parts of the universe. So far as we can judge, greater evil than good has thus far resulted from the creation of the world, and if it should now be swept out of the universe, could we suppose that it was created with a benevolent design? If God is love, how can it be that the great mass of men will be finally miserable?

9. The fact that God is a benevolent being, appears to me to be a most cogent argument in favor of the doctrine of a temporal millenium, the result of which will be the conversion of the majority of men. No other doctrine, so far as we can judge, is consistent with the benevolence of God. God tells us to reason with Him, and judge for ourselves of his character. Now let us do it. So much does the doctrine of a temporal millenium consist with the benevolence of God, that the mere announcement of the fact that He is love, seems to tell us with trumpet tongue, that He is yet moving on in this world with his great plans of benevolence--that He is going on from conquering to conquer, and that the time will yet come when all shall know the Lord, from the least unto the greatest. I love to dwell upon the character of God in this light. I love to think of Him, not merely as the creator of the universe, but as the great and good governor of all things, who can deign to put his mighty hand in to the base affairs of earth, and turn, and overturn, till his benevolent design in creating the earth is fully accomplished--till the majority of men come to be his obedient subjects, while those who are damned will be monuments to warn the universe of the dreadful effects of sin. What! shall God be defeated in his plans? Is it indeed true, as some assert, that the tendency of things on earth is to go backward? If it is how grievously was Christ mistaken, when He compared the kingdom of heaven "unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measure of meal till the whole was leavened." Some, forsooth, tell us that Christianity is dying out on earth, that the meal is killing the leaven, instead of the leaven leavening the lump. Now God forbid that the tendency of his government should be to retrocession. What! shall the God of the universe, the creator of all things, because the tide of earthly things is rolling back on Himself, and thwarting his mighty plans, crush the world, bury it in everlasting destruction, and send its teeming millions off to hell! Nay, if this be so, we are left to the dim light of inferring that for some inscrutable reason, God created such a world as this. I do not say, that God could not have a good reason for destroying the world at the present moment, but I do say, that if such a reason does exist, He would in some way have made it known to us. But when we open the Bible, we find the truth that God is love, standing out on every page, like the sun breaking through an ocean of storms, and by its light we can go through all the dark sayings of scriptures, and through the mysterious workings of Providence. It is a key with which we may unlock the designs of God, and learn that this world was created to aid in accomplishing the good of universal being, and that it will not be destroyed till its work is fully done.

10. If God is love, there is no favor too great for Him to bestow. No one need say that he is too insignificant a creature for God to bless, for He is ever ready to bestow the greatest blessings upon us all, whatever may be our condition as soon as He possibly can. He comes close up to our side, and takes every opportunity to do us good--we cannot open our mouths before He is ready to fill them. We need not starve, and wait for God to come to our relief, for He is ever close at hand. If He withholds spiritual blessings from us, we may infer that the difficulty lies with ourselves, not with Him.

Let me say to you, who are impenitent sinners, that if at last you make your bed in hell, you , and not God, will be to blame--and to you who profess to love the Lord, if you have not as much grace as you feel you need, if your experience of heavenly things is cold and barren, be assured that you, and not God, are in fault. He is continually crying in your ears, "all things are now ready, come ye in and sup with me." He is ever pressing upon you with all the weight of infinite love, seeking for some nook or corner in your hearts, where He may come in and fill you with all the fulness of his Son.




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Revelation of God's Glory
Lecture XVI
December 20, 1843

by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
 

Text.--Ex. 33: 12-23: "And Moses said unto the Lord, see, thou sayest unto me, bring up this people; and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me; yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight; and consider that this nation is thy people. And He said my presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said, if thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? Is it not in that thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken; for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.

And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory. And He said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. And He said, thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me, and live. And the Lord said, behold there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock. And it shall come to pass while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by. And I will take away my hand and thou shalt see my back parts, but my face shall not be seen."

In this discourse I shall show,

I. What is intended by the glory of God.

II. What is implied in Moses' prayer.

III. What is implied in God's answer.


I. What is meant by the glory of God.

The original meaning of the term glory was, brightness, clearness, effulgence: from that it has come to signify honor, renown; and again, that which renders honorable, or demands honor, or renown, reverence, adoration, and worship--that which is worthy of confidence and trust. The glory of God is essential and declarative. By essential glory is meant that in Him which is glorious--that in his character which demands honor, worship, and adoration. His declarative glory is the showing forth, the revealing, the manifesting, the glory of his character--his essential glory--to his creatures: the laying open his glory to the apprehension of intelligences. And this is what Moses meant--that God would reveal Himself to his mind so that he might know Him--might have a clear and powerful apprehension of those things which constitute his glory.

II. What is implied in Moses' prayer.

III. What is implied in God's answer to Moses.

"I will make all my goodness pass before thee," said he. God's glory consists in his moral attributes--in his goodness.

REMARKS.

1. The circumstances and the prayer of Moses, were the conditions of the revelation which God made to him. His circumstances--he needed to know more of God. His prayer--he made supplication to be taught. The circumstances alone were not enough, nor the prayer alone, but both united. He had subsequent and frequent manifestations of God's presence and power as circumstances required. Sometimes alone, sometimes in the full presence of all the people. On awful Sinai He moved in thunder and fire, and the congregation quaked at the terror of the Lord. According to the exigencies of Moses and of the people God dealt with them, and showed his glory to them.

2. A principle of the divine administration is here developed, namely--God will furnish such grace and manifestation of his goodness, as the circumstances demand, and their exigencies require. He is unchangeable. In the same circumstances his dealings are the same. He who gave to his ancient servant, an overwhelming view of his glory, such a view, as that in unspeakable awe, "he bowed his head and worshiped," will, whenever necessary, grant the same or greater manifestations, if it be requisite to strengthen for his own work.

3. He will be inquired of, to do the things that need to be done for you for his glory. The Bible every where insists on this. Moses prayed, and prayed with great earnestness and importunity--"God show me thy glory." "Lord if Thou go not with us, take us not up hence." The universal example of Bible saints, is one continued stream of prayer, flowing onward in a broad and deep current, with a strong and resistless tide, to the great ocean of God's boundless mercy and compassion.

4. We are to persevere in this asking. Was Moses to be put off? No indeed. He cries-- "Show me thy way, that I may know Thee, that I may find grace in thy sight." God answers, "My presence shall go up with thee, and I will give thee rest." But a mere promise is not enough for Moses. "O Lord, surely Thou wilt go up with us, but O Lord show me thy Glory, let me know Thee, let thy perfections come home with such power to my soul, that they shall never depart therefrom. Lord show me thy glory." He reminded God that He had called him to bring up the people, and yet he was not prepared. "Thou hast said to me, bring up this people, and yet thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me." Moses persevered, and he gained his request. God did for him what he asked. It is exceedingly important that we continue to press upon God, so to speak, for any grace which we need. Let us learn our duty from the Bible, and the relations we sustain, and then, having settled the question that we are in the work to which God has called us, let us come to God with a full assurance of faith that He has promised to be with us always, and that what He has promised, He is able also to perform. Press upon Him your wants. Say to Him--O Lord Thou hast placed me here, Thou hast made me what I am, and I have not strength for the work, I have not knowledge for the labor. O Lord, arm me for the contest, harness me for the battle, fit me for the work. O Lord, thy name will be disgraced if I fail, for Thou hast set me here, thy honor is at stake. What will become of thy great name? "O God show me thy glory." Whatever we find ourselves in need of for the success of his work, to which He has called us, we have a right to go and ask for, with perfect confidence, and complete assurance, and we should not let go our suit, till the request is granted. We should come with importunity I said. See how Moses speaks to God at one time, with what confidence and holy familiarity, he addresses his heavenly Father! When God was angry with the rebellious Israelites, and said, "Let me alone, that my anger may wax hot against them, that I may destroy them from the face of the earth," Moses besought the Lord. He came, and seizing hold of his hand as it were, "O Lord," he cries, "why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, for whom Thou hast done so much? Why should the Egyptians say, for mischief did He bring them out to slay them? O turn from thy wrath and repent Thee of the evil." Moses was so importunate, it seemed as though God could not deny him. And thus may we come to God, and cry--are not all thy promises yea and amen in Christ Jesus? Hast Thou not promised, and shall thy word fail? Brethren, is not this directly? point? May we not come to God and ask at all times? Is He not able to save to the uttermost? Shall not "our strength be equal to our day?" O how strongly my experience testifies to this truth. Many a time, I should have given up all for lost, and sat down in despair, had it not been for such a revelation of God's glory, as to strengthen me for the work I had to accomplish. Always, yes always, when I have gone to God, as Moses did, with the prayer, "Show me thy glory," He has never denied me, never, never.

5. It is reasonable to understand a call of God to any station, as a virtual pledge of every thing that we need, to stand in that place, and meet those responsibilities. If God calls us to do a thing, it can be done. What is needed to accomplish it may be had. God is not a Pharaoh, commanding to make brick, yet withholding straw. The requiring a thing, always vouchsafes every thing necessary for its fulfillment.

6. The people always need one thing. Every child of God is called to represent God, to be a teacher of God, to show forth to the world around him the character of God. Every saint is called of God to do this. Every Christian has a right to insist that God will give him grace to do that--to do it fully and successfully. He may say to God, "Lord, thou hast made me a Christian, put thy spirit within me, called me to represent thee, and show the world who thou art, and what thy character is; but how can I do this, except I be shown by thy grace, except all thy goodness pass before me and melt me into contrition and love." How long shall it be, ere Christians, feeling their weakness, will go to God and ask him thus for what they need, and must have, or perish.

7. Many persons seem to have exceedingly narrow, partial, obscure views of God. So shadow-like, and dim is their notion of Him, or so partial and one sided, and distorted, that it is like any thing almost more than like God. Perhaps Moses was somewhat in this condition. He had seen God in the burning bush, he had heard his voice, saying, "O, lead my people Israel," he had been the rod of Jehovah's wrath on wicked Egypt, he had stood on Sinai and seen God in fire and smoke and lightnings, but he could not be satisfied--he must know more. And all along Moses had to ask for new revelations continually.

Many know God only as a lawgiver and judge. They apprehend his law, and they sink in terror and fear; that is all they know of God. Others know nothing of him but what they call his mercy and love; nothing of justice, and holiness, and righteous indignation against sin. They have neither of them any confidence in his word and promises. Now Moses ever after, trusted firmly and unwaveringly in God's truth. God had shown him his truth, and Moses forgot it not. The impress of that hand, he felt always pressing on him; that sight was ever present to his mind. He had confidence in his mercy after this. Only see how, when God said, "Let me destroy this rebellious and stiff-necked people, and I will make of thee a great nation." Moses had such trust in God's mercy. He cried, "O Lord, save thy people, or blot out my name from thy book." "O God, what will become of thy great name?" What a savor and relish the revelation had left on his mind--a sweet and controlling sense of God's mercy and goodness. God's Justice, too, rested with awful distinctness upon Moses' apprehension. He was the great and terrible God, visiting the iniquities of them which hate him, upon their own heads, and upon the heads of their children. It is vastly important that men should have just and symmetrical views of God's character; for where the revelation is partial, they do not possess a well proportioned piety; they show a want of balance in their character. If they have not seen the justice of God, his holiness, they have no apprehension of the guilt of sin, of its desert of punishment, of God's infinite hatred of it. They have no proper sense of the condition of sinners, have no compassion, no ardent zeal, no burning love for them. So if men have not a revelation of the mercy and love and compassion of God, they will be legal, have very little confidence to pray for sinners; instead of laying hold of God, as they should do, even in the most desperate cases, they slacken, and give up in despair. So of all his attributes; if men have not sought and obtained a just view of God's character, they will be like their views of God, ill-proportioned, and unbalanced in their own character.

8. It is of the last importance, that men should realize that all God's character is made up of his benevolence, his goodness. See how He says, "All my goodness;" not my mercy, my love, but all, my mercy, my justice, my holiness, my hatred of sin, and my settled purpose to punish it, my tender compassion and pity, and my righteous vindictive justice. A minister, especially, should thus know all his goodness, and be duly affected by every attribute. If they do not have such a revelation, they will induce and foster an unnatural and ill proportioned piety in their congregation, and among the people of their intercourse--either an antinomian or a legal, just as the bent and cast of the minister's own mind is.

9. Nothing can make us stable Christians, but to behold his glory, a revelation of Him to us. No excitement, no intellectual acumen, no strength of logic, nothing can secure us but a revelation of God to our souls. We should therefore persevere and insist that this be done for us, that we see God's glory, and be fixed on Him. The church should pray for ministers and for candidates for the ministry, that God would reveal to them the deep secrets of his love and mercy; that He would open to them the ever flowing fountains of exquisite and perennial blessedness to let them drink therefrom and never thirst more. O do the churches think and feel how much they can do for their ministers, by praying the heavens open, and letting down on their hearts such rays of glory as shall forever enrapture and hold them in awful apprehension of God's presence and character, as that the spirit of the Highest shall come upon them, and the power of God overshadow them, and transform them from men of clay, to angels of mercy and power to a fallen world? Why do they not pray? Brethren, why do you not pray--pray that God would show you, would show the students here, the community, the whole church in the land, and in the world, his glory? Pray, and give God no rest, till He glorify his people before the nations?

10. It is easy to see what made Moses' face shine so, when he came down from the mount. The manifestation of God's glory has the same effect always and every where. There was such a clearness, a glory , a brightness, in his countenance, that the people could not look upon him. Christ in the mount, when the glory of God appeared to Him, was transfigured, his raiment was white as the light, and his face was like the sun.

11. Many cannot bear much of the revelation of divine glory to them. They are babes, and must be fed with milk and not with meat; for they cannot take meat. How it affected Isaiah, to behold the glory of the Lord. Isaiah, that man of God. Who could behold, if he could not? One would think his views of God were high and exalted. But see his vision. "I saw the Lord, sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphim, and one cried to another, and covered his face with his wings, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of Hosts. The whole earth is full of his glory!" Think of it! It overcame Isaiah. He cried in despair, "Wo is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts!" He saw the holiness of God as he never saw it before. He was completely overcome, he seemed unable to recover from it, till one of the seraphim came with a live coal from the altar, and laid it on his lips, saying, "Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged." O, how much do we need such revelations--new revelations--great and mighty things which we have not known. And then we shall be humbled, subdued under his mighty hand. Mark how Isaiah was subdued to the will of God. When he heard the voice crying, "Who will go for us?" with meek boldness he answered, "Here am I, send me." And so shall we be humbled, and say, "Lord, glorify thy name in us."

But often God has to hold back. He must cover Moses in the rock--cleft, and hide his face from him. Often must Christians say, "Hold thy hand, O Lord, it is enough; draw the curtain, and veil the glory from my fainting, reeling sense."

12. Sometimes young converts get proud, and think that they know a great deal of God, and imagine that all which they never experienced, is fancy, and cannot be true. If just what they know of God is not presented, they think it is not the gospel, when, poor blind men, they know just one part, and a very small part. They must not think they know the whole of God that may be known of Him. Many cannot bear to hear of God's justice, of his sovereignty, of his holiness. Now, we should desire to have all the character, all the goodness of God pass before us; to have him let in upon the mind as bright and glorious a vision as it can bear.
Brethren, is it not true, that we need new manifestations of God? One revelation brings need of new and more glorious revelations. Do we not need it? My soul from its depths, my heart from its very bottom, cries out, "O God, I beseech thee, show me thy glory. Let me see and know more of God." Will you pray for me? Will you pray for yourselves? Do we not need it, I say again? Have we not high responsibilities? Who has higher? Now pray in view of your circumstances; besiege the throne; give God no rest; let him have no peace, till He come and revive his work, and make his name glorious.




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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).

End of the 1843 Collection.