CharlesFinney.com

ESSENTIAL REVIVAL LIBRARY 2000-2023

(wait for page to fully download before clicking links)

2 PRELIMINARY SERMONS (4)

6 REVIVAL LECTURES (22)

29 IMPORTANT SUBJECTS (12)

42 TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS (25)

68 LETTERS ON REVIVAL (32)

100 GOSPEL THEMES (24)

125 THE WAY OF SALVATION (25)

151 REVIVAL SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (9)

160 REVIVALS MANUAL (40)

200 PASTORAL THEOLOGY (20)

220 PENNY PULPIT (45)

265 MEMOIRS (36)

301 POWER FROM ON HIGH (13)

314 VARIOUS NEWSPAPER ARTICLES (16)

330 LECTURES ON THEOLOGY (11)

341 THEOLOGICAL OUTLINES (42)

 

2 How To Raise Children 1840

3 Can Two Walk Together Except They Be Agreed? 1827

4 REVIVAL PREPARATIONS and Repentance, London 1851

5 PREVAILING PRAYER in Glasgow 1859 and Manchester 1860

^ 6 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION 1834

^ 7 LECTURE I. - WHAT A REVIVAL OF RELIGION IS. What a revival of religion is not - What it is - The agencies employed in promoting it.

^ 8 LECTURE II. - WHEN A REVIVAL IS TO BE EXPECTED. When a revival is needed - The importance of a revival when it is needed - When a revival of religion may be expected.

^ 9 LECTURE III. - HOW TO PROMOTE A REVIVAL. What it is to break up the fallow ground - How it is to be performed.

^ 10 LECTURE IV. - PREVAILING PRAYER. What is effectual or prevailing prayer - Some of the most essential attributes of prevailing prayer - Some reasons why God requires this kind of prayer - That such prayer will avail much.

^ 11 LECTURE V. - THE PRAYER OF FAITH. Faith an indispensable condition of prevailing prayer - What it is we are to believe when we pray - When we are bound to exercise this faith - This kind of faith in prayer always obtains the blessing sought - How we are to come into the state of mind in which we can exercise such faith - Objections answered.

^ 12 LECTURE VI. - THE SPIRIT OF PRAYER. What Spirit is spoken of in the passage: "The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities" - What that Spirit does for us - Why He does what the text declares Him to do - How He accomplishes it - The degrees of His influences - How His influences are to be distinguished from the influences of evil spirits - Who have a right to expect His influences.

^ 13 LECTURE VII. - ON BEING FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT. Individuals may have the Spirit of God - It is their duty to be filled with the Spirit - Why the Spirit is not obtained - The guilt of those who have not the Spirit of God - The consequences of having the Spirit. - The consequences that will follow not having the Spirit.

^ 14 LECTURE VIII. - MEETINGS FOR PRAYER. The design of prayer meetings - The manner of conducting them - Several things that will defeat the design of holding them.

^ 15 LECTURE IX. - MEANS TO BE USED WITH SINNERS. On what particular points Christians are to testify for God - The manner in which they are to testify.

^ 16 LECTURE X. - TO WIN SOULS REQUIRES WISDOM. How Christians should deal with careless sinners - How they should deal with awakened sinners, and with convicted sinners.

^ 17 LECTURE XI. - A WISE MINISTER WILL BE SUCCESSFUL A right discharge of the duties of a minister requires great wisdom - The amount of success in the discharge of his duties (other things being equal) decides the amount of wisdom employed by him.

^ 18 LECTURE XII. - HOW TO PREACH THE GOSPEL. Several passages of Scripture ascribe conversion to man - This is consistent with other passages which ascribe conversion to God - Several important particulars in regard to preaching the Gospel.

^ 19 LECTURE XIII. - HOW CHURCHES CAN HELP MINISTERS. The importance of the cooperation of the Church in producing and carrying on a revival - Several things which Churches must do, if they would promote a revival and aid their ministers.

^ 20 LECTURE XIV. - MEASURES TO PROMOTE REVIVALS. God has established no particular system of measures to be employed - Our present forms of public worship have been arrived at by a succession of new measures.

^ 21 LECTURE XV. - HINDRANCES TO REVIVALS. A revival of religion is a great work - Several things which may put a stop to it - What must be done for the continuance of a revival.

^ 22 LECTURE XVI. - THE NECESSITY AND EFFECT OF UNION. We are to be agreed in prayer - We are likewise to be agreed in everything that is essential to the blessing we seek.

^ 23 LECTURE XVII. - FALSE COMFORTS FOR SINNERS. The necessity and design of instructing anxious sinners - Anxious sinners are always seeking comfort - The false comforts that are often administered.

^ 24 LECTURE XVIII. - DIRECTIONS TO SINNERS. What is a proper direction to be given to sinners when they make inquiry for salvation - What is a proper answer to such inquiry - Several errors into which anxious sinners are apt to fall.

^ 25 LECTURE XIX. - INSTRUCTIONS TO CONVERTS. Several things to be considered in regard to the hopes of young converts - Several things respecting their making a profession of religion - The importance of having correct instruction given to young converts - What should not be taught - What things are necessary to be taught.

^ 26 LECTURE XX. - INSTRUCTIONS TO CONVERTS (continued). Other points on which young converts ought to be instructed - How young converts should be treated by the Church - Some of the evils resulting from defective instruction in the first stages of Christian experience.

^ 27 LECTURE XXI. - THE BACKSLIDER IN HEART. What backsliding in heart is not - What it is - What are its evidences - What are its consequences - How to recover from such a state.

^ 28 LECTURE XXII. - GROWTH IN GRACE. What grace is - What the injunction to "grow in grace" does not mean - What it does mean - Conditions of growth in grace - What is not proof of growth - What is proof - How to grow in grace.

^ 29 SERMONS ON IMPORTANT SUBJECTS 1835

^ 30 Sinners Bound To Change Their Own Hearts SINNERS BOUND TO CHANGE THEIR OWN HEARTS. -- Ezek. 18:31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

^ 31 How To Change Your Heart HOW TO CHANGE YOUR HEART.--Ezek. 18:31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

^ 32 Traditions Of The Elders TRADITIONS OF THE ELDERS.--Matthew, 15:6.--"Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect, by your tradition."

^ 33 Total Depravity TOTAL DEPRAVITY.--John, 15:42--"But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you."

^ 34 Total Depravity 2 TOTAL DEPRAVITY. --Romans, 8:7.--"The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."

^ 35 Why Sinners Hate God WHY SINNERS HATE GOD.--John, 15:25.--"They have hated me without a cause."

^ 36 God Cannot Please Sinners GOD CANNOT PLEASE SINNERS.-- Luke, 7:31-35--"And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! But wisdom is justified of all her children."

^ 37 Christian Affinity CHRISTIAN AFFINITY.--Amos, 3:3--"Can two walk together except they be agreed?"

^ 38 Stewardship STEWARDSHIP.--Luke, 16:2--"Give an account of thy stewardship."

^ 39 Doctrine of Election DOCTRINE OF ELECTION.--Ephesians, 1:4-5.--"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will."

^ 40 Reprobation REPROBATION.--Jeremiah, 6:30.--"Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the Lord hath rejected them."

^ 41 Love Of The World LOVE OF THE WORLD.-- I John, 2:15.--"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

^ 42 LECTURES TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836-37

^ 43 Self Deceivers

^ 44 False Professors

^ 45 Doubtful Actions Are Sinful

^ 46 Reproof A Christian Duty

^ 47 True Saints

^ 48 Legal Religion

^ 49 Religion of Public Opinion

^ 50 Conformity To The World

^ 51 True And False Repentance

^ 52 Dishonesty In Small Matters Inconsistent With Honesty In Any Thing

^ 53 Bound To Know Your True Character

1837 LECTURES

^ 54 True And False Conversion

^ 55 True Submission

^ 56 Selfishness Not True Religion

^ 57 Religion Of The Law And Gospel

^ 58 Justification By Faith

^ 59 Sanctification By Faith

^ 60 Legal Experience

^ 61 Christian Perfection Pt 1

^ 62 Christian Perfection Pt 2

^ 63 Way Of Salvation

^ 64 Necessity Of Divine Teaching

^ 65 Love The Whole Of Religion

^ 66 Rest Of The Saints

^ 67 Christ The Husband Of The Church

^ LETTERS ON REVIVAL 1845-46

^ 68 NO. 1 Learn from Revival Experience

^ 69 NO. 2 Superficial Revivals

^ 70 NO. 3 Legal religion

^ 71 NO. 4 The Two extremes of Antinomianism and Legalism

^ 72 NO. 5 Communicate True Religion, rely not on logical explanations alone

^ 73 NO. 6 Puffed Up Preaching

^ 74 NO. 7 Encouraging Unhealthy Excitement

^ 75 NO. 8 Excitement in Revivals

^ 76 NO. 9 Fanaticism - Caused by Highly Excited Feelings

^ 77 NO. 10 Fanaticism - Caused by Preachers

^ 78 NO. 11 Excitement in Revivals - Zeal and Bitterness

^ 79 NO. 12 Excitement in Revivals - Led by Impulses

^ 80 NO. 13 Why So Few Revivals - Leaders' Personal Lives and Misguided Conventions

^ 81 NO. 14 Why So Few Revivals - Need for a Deep Work of Grace and the Spirit of God in Leaders in Advance of the Church

^ 82 NO. 15 Causes of the Decline of Revivals - Lacking the Meat of the Gospel Leading to Sanctification by Faith

^ 83 NO. 16 Causes of the Decline of Revivals - Using No Means

^ 84 NO. 17 The Impolicy of Spasmodic Efforts - Using Means Erratically

^ 85 NO. 18 Hindrances to a Revival Spirit - Preaching Prejudices

^ 86 NO. 19 Hindrances to a Revival Spirit - Sectarianism

^ 87 NO. 20 Proper Use of Protracted Meetings

^ 88 NO. 21 Hindrances to Revivals - Must First Break up the Fallow Ground to Love Souls the Way Christ Loves Them

^ 89 NO. 22 Hindrances to Revivals - Must Break Up Christians and Ministers and Feed Them with Sanctifying Meat in Addition to Converting the Ungodly

^ 90 NO. 23 Church Must Aim to Reform the World

^ 91 NO. 24 Do Not Oppose Excitement Produced by the Truth

^ 92 NO. 25 The Folly of Attempting to Sustain True Religion Without Revivals

^ 93 NO. 26 The Employment and Qualifications of Evangelists

^ 94 NO. 27 Do Not Be Passive When Inviting an Evangelist or Expecting a Minister to Lead

^ 95 NO. 28 It Is Important For Evangelists and Pastors to Use Lay Labour

^ 96 NO. 29 On the Relative Position of Evangelists and Pastors

^ 97 NO. 30 Dangers and Duties of an Evangelist's Closing His Labors in a Revival.

^ 98 NO. 31 The Attacks of satan on the Work of an Evangelist and Pastor During the Work

^ 99 NO. 32 Evangelists are More Alive than Many Pastors and Need to Work with Revival Pastors

^ 100 SERMONS ON GOSPEL THEMES 1876

^ 101 Sermon 1 - God's Love for a Sinning World

^ 102 Sermon 2 - On Trusting in the Mercy of God

^ 103 Sermon 3 - The Wages of Sin

^ 104 Sermon 4 - The Savior Lifted Up, and the Look of Faith

^ 105 Sermon 5 - The Excuses of Sinners Condemn God

^ 106 Sermon 6 - The Sinner's Excuses Answered

^ 107 Sermon 7 - On Refuges of Lies

^ 108 Sermon 8 - The Wicked Heart Set to do Evil

^ 109 Sermon 9 - Moral Insanity

^ 110 Sermon 10 - Conditions of Being Saved

^ 111 Sermon 11 - The Sinner's Natural Power and Moral Weakness

^ 112 Sermon 12 - On the Atonement

^ 113 Sermon 13 - Where Sin Occurs God Cannot Wisely Prevent It

^ 114 Sermon 14 - The Inner and The Outer Revelation

^ 115 Sermon 15 - Quenching the Spirit

^ 116 Sermon 16 - The Spirit Not Always Striving

^ 117 Sermon 17 - Christ Our Advocate

^ 118 Sermon 18 - God's Love Commended To Us

^ 119 Sermon 19 - Prayer and Labor For the Gathering of the Great Harvest

^ 120 Sermon 20 - Converting Sinners a Christian Duty

^ 121 Sermon 21 - Men Often Highly Esteem What God Abhors

^ 122 Sermon 22 - Victory Over the World Through Faith

^ 123 Sermon 23 - Death to Sin through Christ

^ 124 Lecture 24 - The Essential Elements of Christian Experience

^ 125 THE WAY OF SALVATION 1896

^ 126 Sermon I - The Rule by Which Guilt of Sin is Estimated

^ 127 Sermon II - The Self-Hardening Sinner's Doom

^ 128 Sermon III - The Loss When a Soul is Lost

^ 129 Sermon IV - God's Anger Against the Wicked

^ 130 Sermon V - Men Invited To Reason Together With God

^ 131 Sermon VI - Conscience and the Bible in Harmony

^ 132 Sermon VII - Salvation Difficult to the Christian, Impossible to the Sinner

^ 133 Sermon VIII - The Salvation of Sinners Impossible

^ 134 Sermon IX - Any One Form of Sin Persisted In is Fatal to the Soul

^ 135 Sermon X - The Wrath of God Against Those Who Withstand His Truth

^ 136 Sermon XI - The Doom of Those Who Neglect So Great Salvation

^ 137 Sermon XII - All Things For Good To Those That Love God

^ 138 Sermon XIII - All Things Conspire For Evil to the Sinner

^ 139 Sermon XIV - God Has No Pleasure in the Sinner's Death

^ 140 Sermon XV - The Rich Man and Lazarus

^ 141 Sermon XVI - The Wants of Man and Their Supply

^ 142 Sermon XVII - On Believing With The Heart

^ 143 Sermon XVIII - On Being Holy

^ 144 Sermon XIX - On Self Denial

^ 145 Sermon XX - On Following Christ

^ 146 Sermon XXI - Conditions of Prevailing Prayer

^ 147 Sermon XXII - An Approving Heart Confidence in Prayer

^ 148 Sermon XXIII - On Praying Always

^ 149 Sermon XXIV - On Prayer for the Holy Spirit

^ 150 Sermon XXV - Afflictions of the Righteous and the Wicked Contrasted

^ REVIVAL TRUTHS SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY

^ 151 Chapter I - MORAL LAW

^ 152 Chapter II - MORAL DEPRAVITY

^ 153 Chapter III - THE SANCTIONS OF GOD'S LAW

^ 154 Chapter IV - THE ATONEMENT

^ 155 Chapter V - TRUE AND FALSE REPENTANCE

^ 156 Chapter VI - FAITH AND UNBELIEF

^ 157 Chapter VII - JUSTIFICATION

^ 158 Chapter VIII - LOVE IS THE WHOLE OF RELIGION

^ 159 VARIOUS CLASSES OF TRUTHS

^ REVIVALS MANUAL 1874

^ 160 I. WHAT IS RELIGION, PSYCHOLOGICALLY?

^ 161 II. WHAT IS A REVIVAL?

^ 162 III. A GREAT PHILOSOPHICAL ERROR.

^ 163 IV. TRUE PHILOSOPHY OF MORAL DEPRAVITY.

^ 164 V. NECESSITY OF CLEAR CONCEPTIONS OF:

^ 165 VI. CONDITIONS OF SUCCESS.

^ 166 VII. WORK.

^ 167 VIII. EXCITEMENT: USES AND ABUSES

^ 168 IX. HOW DONE (HOW ARE PROPER EMOTIONS PRODUCED)?

^ 169 X. ABUSES OF EMOTION.

^ 170 XI. RELIGIOUS SENSIBILITY IMPORTANT.

^ 171 XII. HOW IT (REVIVAL) BEGINS.

^ 172 XIII. MEANS (TO BE USED IN REVIVAL).

^ 173 XIV. PREACHING (IN REVIVALS)

^ 174 XV. TO MASSES, TO REPRESENTATIVE MEN AND WOMEN--MORAL SKEPTICS, HERETICS, SWATHS.

^ 175 XVI. GALLIO'S (INDIFFERENT, CARELESS, OR EASY-GOING PERSONS

^ 176 XVII. SELF-DECEIVED.

^ 177 XVIII. THERE ARE THOSE WHO SUPPOSE RELIGION TO BE AN INTELLECTUAL AFFAIR AND FAITH OPINION.

^ 178 XIX. OTHER DELUSIONS.

^ 179 XX. THE AWAKENED.

^ 180 XXI. CONVICTED SINNERS.

^ 181 XXII. DESPAIR (OR DESPAIRING SINNERS).

^ 182 XXIII. CHRONIC DESPONDENCY (CASES).

^ 183 XXIV. MEASURES--RISING FOR PRAYERS.

^ 184 XXV. ANXIOUS SEAT.

^ 185 XXVI. CALLING TO ANOTHER ROOM.

^ 186 XXVII. MEETINGS FOR INQUIRY AND ANXIOUS MEETINGS.

^ 187 XXVIII. DIRECTIONS TO THE CONVICTED.

^ 188 XXIX. DEALING WITH PROFESSED CONVERTS.

^ 189 XXX. LEGALITY.

^ 190 XXXI. GOSPEL RELIGION.

^ 191 XXXII. GOSPEL LIBERTY--THE BAPTISM OF JESUS

^ 192 XXXIII. PRAYER -- WHAT IS IT? ASKING FAVOURS OF GOD.

^ 193 XXXIV. OBJECTIONS TO PRAYER.

^ 194 XXXV. PROPER SUBJECTS OF PRAYER.

^ 195 XXXVI. EFFECTUAL PRAYER.

^ 196 XXXVII. PRAYER AS A DUTY OR AS A PRIVILEGE.

^ 197 XXXVIII. SPIRIT OF PRAYER.

^ 198 XXXIX. PRAYER OF FAITH.

^ 199 XL. SOCIAL PRAYER.

^ PASTORAL THEOLOGY 1872-1875

^ 200 I. INTRODUCTORY.

^ 201 II. RECIPROCAL RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF PASTOR AND FLOCK.

^ 202 III. LEGITIMATE FIELD OF PASTORAL INFLUENCE.

^ 203 IV. PASTORAL HABITS OF STUDY.

^ 204 V. PASTORAL HABITS OF DEVOTION.

^ 205 VI. PASTORAL HABITS OF BUSINESS.

^ 206 VII. PAROCHIAL DUTIES (OF OR PERTAINING TO A PARISH).

^ 207 VIII. PASTORAL MANNERS.

^ 208 IX. VISITING THE SICK.

^ 209 X. FUNERALS.

^ 210 XI. MARRIAGES.

^ 211 XII. PRUDENCE.

^ 212 XIII. MARRIAGE OF MINISTERS.

^ 213 XIV. ATTRIBUTES OF A GOOD WIFE. (ESPECIALLY A MINISTER'S).

^ 214 XV. PAPISTICAL REASONS FOR PRIESTLY CELIBACY.

^ 215 XVI. EVILS OF CLERICAL CELIBACY.

^ 216 XVII. PREMATURE MARRIAGES

^ 217 XVIII. PREPARATION FOR THE PULPIT.

^ 218 XIX. PULPIT EXERCISES.

^ 219 XX. PREACHING.

^ THE PENNY PULPIT England 1849-51

^ 220 Regeneration

^ 221 Pleasing God

^ 222 Heart Searching

^ 223 Acceptable Prayer

^ 224 The Kingdom Of God Upon Earth

^ 225 The Reward of Fervent Prayer

^ 226 The Promises Of God

^ 227 Christ The Mediator

^ 228 Christ Magnifying The Law

^ 229 The Spiritual Claims Of London

^ 230 The Conditions of Prevailing Prayer

^ 231 How To Prevail With God

^ 232 The Use And Prevalence Of Christ's Name

^ 233 Making God A Liar

^ 234 The Great Business of Life

^ 235 Mocking God

^ 236 Why London Is Not Converted

^ 237 Holiness Essential To Salvation

^ 238 Real Religion

^ 239 Great Cities--What Hinders Their Conversion

^ 240 Proving God

^ 241 Total Abstinence A Christian Duty

^ 242 Quenching The Spirit

^ 243 The Sabbath School--Cooperation With God

^ 244 The Sabbath School--Conditions Of Success

^ 245 Not Far From The Kingdom Of God

^ 246 The Christian's Rule Of Life

^ 247 Hardening The Heart

^ 248 Seeking Honour From Men

^ 249 Purity Of Heart And Life

^ 250 The Sinner's Self Condemnation

^ 251 Refuges Of Lies

^ 252 The Spirit Ceasing To Strive

^ 253 The Conversion Of Children

^ 254 The Wonderful Love Of God

^ 255 The Infinite Worth Of The Soul

^ 256 Family Government

^ 257 Christ Appearing Among His People

^ 258 The Awful Ingratitude Of The Sinner

^ 259 Little Sins

^ 260 The Sinner's Self-Destruction

^ 261 The Rationality Of Faith

^ 262 The Certain Doom Of The Impenitent

^ 263 A Public Profession Of Christ

^ 264 The Whole Counsel Of God

^ REVIVAL "MEMOIRS" OF CHARLES G. FINNEY 1868

^ 265 Chapter 1: My Birth and Early Education

^ 266 Chapter 2: My Conversion to Christ

^ 267 Chapter 3: I Begin My Work with Immediate Success

^ 268 Chapter 4: My First Doctrinal Controversy with My Pastor & Other Events at Adams

^ 269 Chapter 5: I Commence Preaching as a Missionary

^ 270 Chapter 6: More Concerning the Revival & Its Results

^ 271 Chapter 7: Further Remarks upon Ministerial Education

^ 272 Chapter 8: Revival at Antwerp

^ 273 Chapter 9: Return to Evans' Mills

^ 274 Chapter 10: Revival at Gouverneur

^ 275 Chapter 11: Revival at De Kalb

^ 276 Chapter 12: Revival at Western

^ 277 Chapter 13: Revival at Rome

^ 278 Chapter 14: Revival at Utica New York

^ 279 Chapter 15: Revival at Auburn in 1826

^ 280 Chapter 16: Revival at Troy

^ 281 Chapter 17: Revival in Stephentown

^ 282 Chapter 18: Revival in Wilmington, Delaware

^ 283 Chapter 19: Revival at Reading

^ 284 Chapter 20: Revivals in Columbia and New York City

^ 285 Chapter 21: Revival in Rochester New York 1830

^ 286 Chapter 22: Another Revival at Auburn New York

^ 287 Chapter 23: Labors & Revivals in New York City in 1832, & Onward

^ 288 Chapter 24: Early Labors in Oberlin

^ 289 Chapter 25: Matters at Oberlin

^ 290 Chapter 26: Another Great Revival at Rochester New York in 1842

^ 291 Chapter 27: Return to Oberlin & Labors There & Again in New York City & in Boston

^ 292 Chapter 28: Labors in Oberlin, in Michigan etc.

^ 293 Chapter 29: Visit to England as an Evangelist in 1849

^ 294 Chapter 30: Labors in the Tabernacle, Moor Fields, London

^ 295 Chapter 31: Labors at Home Again and Elsewhere

^ 296 Chapter 32: Labors in Oberlin Western & Rome

^ 297 Chapter 33: Revival in Boston in 1856, & 7, & 8

^ 298 Chapter 34: Labors in England Till 1860

^ 299 Chapter 35: Revival labors at Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Scotland & in Bolton, England

^ 300 Chapter 36: Return to Oberlin & a Glorious Revival Here

^ POWER FROM ON HIGH 1871-74

^ 301 CHAPTER 1 - Power From On High

^ 302 CHAPTER 2 - What Is It?

^ 303 CHAPTER 3 - Examples

^ 304 CHAPTER 4 - Conditions

^ 305 CHAPTER 5 - Defective Theological Training

^ 306 CHAPTER 6 - Prevailing Prayer

^ 307 CHAPTER 7 - How To Win Souls

^ 308 CHAPTER 8 - Preacher, Save Thyself

^ 309 CHAPTER 9 - Innocent Amusements

^ 310 CHAPTER 10 - How To Overcome Sin

^ 311 CHAPTER 11 - The Decay Of Conscience

^ 312 CHAPTER 12 - The Psychology Of Faith

^ 313 CHAPTER 13 - The Psychology Of Righteousness

^ VARIOUS ARTICLES FROM "THE INDEPENDENT" 1871-1875

^ 314 PREACHING SO AS TO CONVERT NOBODY.

^ 315 POWER FROM ON HIGH WHO MAY EXPECT THE ENDUEMENT.

^ 316 IS IT A BONDAGE?

^ 317 WORLDLY AMUSEMENTS

^ 318 REVIVAL MEMORIES (PART 1)

^ 319 THE PROGRESS OF THE GOVERNEUR REVIVAL

^ 320 A MORE EXCELLENT WAY.

^ 321 REVIVAL MEMORIES (PART 2)

^ 322 ENDLESS PUNISHMENT - WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

^ 323 BREAK UP YOUR FALLOW GROUND

^ 324 WHEN IS THE FALLOW GROUND OF THE SOUL BROKEN UP?

^ 325 HINDRANCES TO REVIVALS. (PART 1)

^ 326 HINDRANCES TO REVIVALS. (PART 2)

^ 327 CONSCIOUS EFFECTS OF FAITH.

^ 328 PSYCHOLOGY OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS

^ 329 THE TRUE MISSIONARY SPIRIT

^ LECTURES ON THEOLOGY, Vol. 1

^ 330 LECTURE I, II. ---- INTRODUCTORY. Define the study upon which we are about to enter ---- Some of the requisite personal qualifications for this study ---- Some of the advantages to be derived from the study of Systematic Theology ---- Some things to be avoided ---- Remarks.

^ 331 LECTURE III. ---- INTRODUCTORY ---- CONSCIOUSNESS AND SENSE. Do we know anything? ---- How do we know ourselves? ---- What do we know of ourselves in consciousness? ---- What is meant by sense?

^ 332 LECTURE IV. ---- INTRODUCTORY ---- REASON. What we mean by the reason, as distinct from the other functions of the intellect ---- First truths of reason have the following characteristics ---- Examples of some first truths of reason ---- How these truths are developed in the reason ---- Division of first truths of reason ---- Second class of truths of reason -- How this class of truths (second class) is developed in the reason -- Remarks -- Truths of conscience -- How the ideas of conscience are developed.

^ 333 LECTURE V. -- INTRODUCTORY -- THE UNDERSTANDING, JUDGMENT, AND FREEDOM OF THE WILL. The understanding -- The judgment -- The will.

^ 334 LECTURE VI. -- INTRODUCTORY -- IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL. Argument from consciousness -- Moral argument -- The Bible argument -- Objections. -- INTRODUCTORY -- EVIDENCE. The importance of a correct and thorough knowledge of the laws of evidence -- What is evidence and what is proof, and the difference between them -- Source of evidence in a course of theological inquiry -- Kinds and degrees of evidence to be expected -- When objections are not, and when they are fatal -- How objections are to be disposed of -- Where lies the burden of proof -- Where proof or argument must begin.

^ 335 LECTURE VII. -- THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. Several ways in which God may reveal himself to rational beings -- Two revelations -- What God is as known to us in the irresistible convictions of our minds -- Principle terms to be used in discussion of God's existence -- Some self-evident truths of reason -- Argument for the existence of God -- Argument for the existence of God as Moral Governor.

^ 336 LECTURE VIII. -- THE EXISTENCE OF GOD (CONTINUED). Argument from final causes; or, from apparent ultimate design -- Facts and self-evident truths -- The following positions are manifest -- Propositions -- Stating the substance of the above propositions in another form -- Argument from consciousness of the existence of God -- First objection -- Second objection -- Method of the natural reason -- Summary remarks.

^ 337 LECTURE IX. -- THE NATURAL ATTRIBUTES OF GOD. What is a natural attribute? -- What are the natural attributes of God? -- Self-existence -- Immutability -- Absoluteness -- Infinity -- Liberty -- Omniscience -- Omnipotence -- Eternity -- Ubiquity or omnipresence -- Spirituality -- Moral agency -- Unity -- Independence -- Natural perfection.

^ 338 LECTURE X. -- THE MORAL ATTRIBUTES OF GOD. What is moral character, and what are moral attributes? -- God is morally and infinitely good -- Two objections that have been made to the benevolence of God -- What are the moral attributes of God? -- Justice -- Mercy.

^ 339 LECTURE XI. -- THE MORAL ATTRIBUTES OF GOD (CONTINUED). Veracity -- Disinterestedness -- Forbearance -- Long--suffering -- Self-denial -- Impartiality -- Beneficence -- Sovereignty.

^ 340 LECTURE XII. -- THE MORAL ATTRIBUTES OF GOD (CONTINUED). Firmness -- Severity -- Efficiency -- Simplicity -- Immutability -- Infinity -- Holiness -- Remarks.

^ SKELETONS OF THEOLOGICAL LECTURES 1840

^ 341 PREFACE AND LECTURE 1. Methods to be used in this course of study. What to expect and what not to expect. What is required. Introduction. Define the Study; Requisite Personal Qualifications; Advantages derived from the study of Systematic Theology; Things to be avoided.

^ 342 LECTURE 2. Some things implied in the study of Theology; Some things that we know of man, independently of any revelation or knowledge of God.

^ 343 LECTURE 3. Importance of a correct knowledge of the laws of evidence; Evidence and Proof, and their difference; Sources of evidence; Kinds and degrees of evidence; When objections are not, and when they are fatal; How objections are to be disposed of; On whom lies the burden of proof; Where proof or argument must begin.

^ 344 LECTURE 4. Existence of God. Methods of proof; Their amount.

^ 345 LECTURE 5. Atheism. Definition; Different forms; Principal objections to Theism answered; Difficulties of Atheism.

^ 346 LECTURE 6. Divine authority of the Bible. A farther revelation from God than that which is made in the works or nature and providence needed; Such a revelation possible; Such a revelation probable; The scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, a direct revelation from God.

^ 347 LECTURE 7. Inspiration of the Bible. What is not implied in the inspiration of the Bible; What is implied; How a question of this kind cannot be proved; How it can be proved; The Bible an inspired Book; Objections answered.

^ 348 LECTURE 8. Deism. Deism defined; Different classes of Deists; Their objections to Christianity; Difficulties of Deism.

^ 349 LECTURE 9. Natural Attributes of God. A Natural Attribute defined; What are some of the Natural Attributes of God; Prove that God possesses them.

^ 350 LECTURE 10. Moral Attributes of God. A Moral Attribute defined; Some of the Moral Attributes of God; Prove that God possesses them; Benevolence.

^ 351 LECTURE 11. Justice of God. The term Justice defined; The several senses in which it is used; God is just; An objection answered.

^ 352 LECTURE 12. Mercy of God. What Mercy is not; What it is; In what cases it can be exercised; To what extent; On what conditions; Mercy an attribute of God.

^ 353 LECTURE 13. Truth of God. Truth defined; Truth an attribute of God.

^ 354 LECTURE 14. Wisdom of God. Wisdom defined; Wisdom an attribute of God.

^ 355 LECTURE 15. Holiness of God. Remarks; Holiness defined; Holiness an attribute of God.

^ 356 LECTURE 16. Unity of God. Meaning of the term Unity when applied to God; Remarks in respect to the manner in which this subject has been treated in different ages and nations; Unity of God proved.

^ 357 LECTURE 17. Trinity or Tri unity of God. Doctrine stated; The point now under consideration; Sources of evidence; Amount of evidence to be expected, if the doctrine be true; Proof adduced; Objections answered.

^ 358 LECTURE 18. Divinity of Christ. What is intended by the Divinity of Christ; Christ truly divine, or the true God; Objections answered.

^ 359 LECTURE 19. Humanity of Christ. Various opinions noticed; What is intended by the Humanity of Christ; Doctrine proved.

^ 360 LECTURE 20. Personality and Divinity of the Holy Spirit. What is not intended by the Divinity of the Holy Spirit; He is truly God; What is intended by the Personality of the Holy Spirit; His Divinity proved.

^ 361 LECTURE 21. Providence of God. What is intended by the Providence of God; God administers over the universe a providential government; Different theories and arguments noticed; Show what seems to be the truth.

^ 362 LECTURE 22. Moral Government. Moral Government defined; What it implies.

^ 363 LECTURE 23. Foundation of Moral Obligation. Moral Obligation defined; Conditions of Moral Obligation; Foundation of Moral Obligation.

^ 364 LECTURE 24. Whose right it is to govern. God a moral being; God a Moral Governor.

^ 365 LECTURE 25. What is implied in the right to Govern. Reciprocal duties of rulers and ruled.

^ 366 LECTURE 26. Moral Law. What Law is; Moral Law defined; Moral Law a unit; No being can make law; The will of the ruler can be obligatory only as it is declaratory of what the Law is.

^ 367 LECTURE 27. Law of God. What is intended by the Law of God; The Commandments declaratory; The Ten Commandments illustrations of this; Sanctions of the Law; First Commandment. Its true meaning. Second Commandment. Reasons for it; what it prohibits. Third Commandment. Its true spirit; Reasons for this Commandment.

^ 368 LECTURE 28. Fourth Commandment. When the Sabbath was instituted; Its design; Its necessity; Its perpetual and universal obligation; The manner of its observance; Its change from the seventh to the first day of the week.

^ 369 LECTURE 29. Fifth Commandment. Reasons for this Commandment; What it implies; What it prohibits. Sixth Commandment. What its letter prohibits; Its true spirit; What is, and what is not prohibited by its spirit; What its spirit requires; Reasons for it; Violations of it.

^ 370 LECTURE 30. Seventh Commandment. What it implies; What it prohibits; Reasons for it. Eighth Commandment. What it implies; What it prohibits; Reasons for it; When it is violated.

^ 371 LECTURE 31. Ninth Commandment. What it implies; What is not a violation of it; What it prohibits; Reasons for it. Tenth Commandment. What it implies; What is not a breach of it; What it prohibits and enjoys; Reasons for it.

^ 372 LECTURE 32. Sanctions of Law. What constitutes sanctions; There can be no Law without them; In what light they are to be regarded; The end to be secured by law and the execution of penal Sanctions; Rule for graduating them.

^ 373 LECTURE 33. Sanctions of God's Law. God's law has Sanctions; What constitutes the remuneratory Sanctions of God's Law; Their perfection and duration; What constitutes its vindicatory Sanctions; Their duration.

^ 374 LECTURE 34. Governmental principles.

^ 375 LECTURE 35. The Atonement. Its Intention; The Atonement necessary.

^ 376 LECTURE 36. Reasons why an Atonement was preferable to punishment, or to the execution of the Divine Law.

^ 377 LECTURE 37. What constitutes the Atonement. Not Christ's obedience to law as a covenant of works; His sufferings and death constitute the Atonement; His taking human nature and obeying unto death a reason for our being treated as righteous: Nature and kind of his sufferings; Amount of his sufferings; The Atonement not a commercial transaction; The Atonement a satisfaction of public justice.

^ 378 LECTURE 38. Value of the Atonement. In what its value consists; How great its value is; For whose benefit it was intended.

^ 379 LECTURE 39. Influence of the Atonement.

^ 380 LECTURE 40. Objections answered.

^ 381 LECTURE 41. Human Governments a part of the Moral Government of God. Human Governments a necessity of human nature; This necessity will continue as long as men exist in the present world; Human Governments recognized in the Bible as a part of the Government of God; Whose right and duty it is to govern; In what cases human legislation imposes moral obligation, It is the duty of all men to aid in the establishment and support of Human Government; The supposition that Human Government can ever be dispensed with in this world, a ridiculous and absurd dream; Objections answered.

^ 382 LECTURE 42. Human Governments a part of the Moral Government of God. Reasons why God has made no particular form of Church or State Governments universally obligatory; Particular forms of Church and State Government must and will depend upon the intelligence and virtue of the people: True basis on which the right of Human Legislation rests; That form of Government is obligatory, that is best suited to meet the necessities of the people; Revolutions become necessary and obligatory, when the virtue and intelligence, or the vice and ignorance of the people demand them; In what cases Human Legislation is valid, and in what cases it is null and void; In what cases we are bound to disobey Human Governments.

 

 

 

Back to contents

2:1-123 The Oberlin Evangelist

2:2-123 August 12, 1840

2:3-123 Professor Finney's Letters--No. 18.

2:4-123 LETTERS TO PARENTS

2:5-123 DEAR BRETHREN AND SISTERS:--

2:6-123 In compliance with an intimation given some time since, that I should, God willing, address some letters to parents, I will now commence the series, with hope of promoting the interests of the rising generation. I shall commence with remarks upon Prov. 6:22: "Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it," and shall throw my letters upon this text some what into the form of a sermon. In doing which I shall endeavor to show,

2:7-123 I. What is implied in training up a child in the way he should go.

2:8-123 1. It implies such thorough instruction as to root and ground them in correct views of truth, and in right principles of action. If you consult the marginal reading of your Bible you will perceive, that the word rendered "train" in the text, is in the margin rendered "catechise." The idea is that which I have suggested, to thoroughly instruct them in the great principles of righteousness.

2:9-123 2. It implies such thorough government as to root and ground them in correct habits in all respects, such as habits of cheerful obedience to parents, correct habits in respect to early rising, early retiring to rest, correct habits in regard to taking their meals at stated hours, and in respect to the quantity and quality of their food, habits of exercise and rest, study and relaxation. In short all their habits comprising their whole deportment.

2:10-123 3. It implies the training them to a knowledge of, and conformity to all the laws of their being, physical and moral. This is the way in which they should go, and it is in vain to expect to train them in the way they should go, without giving them thorough instruction in respect to the laws of their bodies and minds, the laws of natural and spiritual life and health.

2:11-123 4. It implies not only giving them thorough instruction in these respects, but the thorough government of them and training them in all things to observe these laws.

2:12-123 II. I will notice several things to be avoided in training up children in the way they should go.

2:13-123 1. Avoid in yourself whatever would be injurious in them to copy, and do not suppose that you can yourself be guilty of pernicious practices, and by your precept prevent their falling into the same. Remember that your example will be more influential than your precept. I knew a father who himself used tobacco but warned his children against its use, and even commanded them not to use it, and yet every one of them did use it sooner or later. This was as might be expected. I knew a mother who used tea herself but warned her children against it as something unnecessary and injurious, especially to young people, but all her children fell into the use of it of course. The fact is that her example was the most influential and impressive teaching.

2:14-123 2. Avoid all conversation in their presence, upon topics that may misled them, and beget in them a caviling and wicked spirit, such as all sectarian conversation, unguarded conversation upon the doctrine of decrees and election, speaking of neighbors' faults, or censoriously of any human being. In short whatever may be a stumbling block to their infant minds.

2:15-123 3. Avoid all disagreement between the parents in regard to the government of the children.

2:16-123 4. Avoid all partiality or favoritism in the government of them.

2:17-123 5. Avoid whatever may lessen the respect of the children for either parent.

2:18-123 6. Avoid whatever may lessen the authority of either parent.

2:19-123 7. Avoid whatever may tend to create partiality for either parent.

2:20-123 8. Avoid begetting in them the love of money. But remember that the love of money, is the root of all evil.

2:21-123 9. Avoid the love of money yourself, for if you have a worldly spirit yourself, your whole life will most impressively inculcate the lesson that the world should be the great object of pursuit. Said a wealthy man to me, "I was brought up from my very infancy to love the world and make money my god." When we consider how impressively and constantly this lesson is taught by many parents, is it wonderful that there is so much fraud, theft, robbery, piracy, and selfishness under every abominable form? Many parents seem to be engaged in little else, so far as their influence with their children is concerned, than making them as selfish and worldly as possible. Nearly their whole conversation at the table, and in all places where they are, the whole drift and bent of their lives, pursuits, and every thing about them, are calculated to make the strongest impression upon their little minds, that their parents conceive the world to be the supreme good. Unless all this be avoided it is impossible to train up a child in the way he should go.

2:22-123 10. Avoid begetting within them the spirit of ambition to be rich, great, learned, or any thing else but good. If you foster a spirit of selfish ambition it will give birth of course to anger, pride, and a whole herd of infernal passions.

2:23-123 11. Avoid, begetting or fostering the spirit of vanity in any way, in the purchase of clothing, or any articles of apparel, in dressing them or by any expressions relating to their personal appearance. Be careful to say nothing about your own clothes, or the apparel of any body else or of the personal attractions or beauty of yourself, your children, or of any body else, in such a way as to beget within them the spirit of ambition, pride, and vanity.

2:24-123 12. Guard them against any injurious influence at home. Suffer no body to live in your families, whose sentiments, or habits, or manners, or temper may corrupt your children. Guard the domestic influence as the apple of your eye. Have no person in your house, that will tell them foolish stories, sing them foolish songs, talk to them about witches, or any thing of any name or nature, which ought not to come before their youthful minds.

2:25-123 13. Be careful under what influences you leave them when you go from home, and let not both parents take a journey at the same time, leaving their children at home, without manifest necessity.

2:26-123 14. Avoid every evil influence from abroad. Let no children visit them whose conversation or manners may corrupt them. Let them associate with no children, by going abroad themselves where they will run the hazard of being in any way corrupted.

2:27-123 15. Avoid the cultivation of artificial appetites. Accustom them to no innutritious stimulants or condiments of any kind, for in so doing, you will create a craving for stimulants, that may result in beastly intemperance.

2:28-123 16. Avoid creating any artificial wants. The great majority of human wants are merely artificial, and children are often so brought up, as to feel as if they needed multitudes of things, which they do not need, and which are really injurious to them, and if they ever become poor, their artificial wants will render them extremely wretched, if indeed they do not tempt them to fraud, theft, and robbery, to supply them. Consider how simple and few the real wants of human beings are, and whatever your worldly circumstances may be, for your children's sake, for truth's sake, for righteousness' sake, and for Christ's sake, habituate them to being satisfied with the supply of their real wants.

2:29-123 17. Avoid by all means their being the subjects of evil communications. "Evil communications corrupt good manners." This is the testimony of God. If your domestics, your hands, your neighbors' children or any body else, are suffered to communicate to them things which they ought not to know, they will be irrecoverably injured, and perhaps forever ruined.

2:30-123 18. Avoid their reading books that contain pernicious sentiments, or any thing indecent, or vulgar, or of ill report.

2:31-123 19. Avoid their reading romances, plays, and whatever may beget within them a romantic and feverish state of mind.

2:32-123 20. Avoid suffering gluttony, or any species of intemperance, eating at improper seasons, improper articles, and improper quantities of food, and every thing that shall work a violation of the laws of life and health.

2:33-123 21. Avoid all unnecessary occasion of excitement. Children are naturally enough excited. Pains should be taken to quiet and keep them calm rather than to increase their excitement. This is imperiously demanded both by their health and minds. Societies are often gotten up among children, and great pains taken to get up an interest and excitement among them and to perpetuate this excitement, insomuch that it is often attended with a loss of appetite and sleep, and a serious injury to their health and morals. Parents should be on their guard, against suffering their children to be drawn into such excitement or having any unnecessary connection with or knowledge of them.

2:34-123 22. Avoid every thing that can be construed by them into insincerity on any subject. Especially every thing that may make the impression that your word is not to be depended upon.

2:35-123 23. Avoid every appearance of impatience or fretfulness in their presence.

2:36-123 24. Wholly abstain from scolding at them. If you have occasion to reprove them, let it be done with deliberation, and not in such haste and in such tones of voice as to have the appearance of anger.

2:37-123 25. If you have occasion to chastise them, first converse and pray with them, and avoid proceeding to severe measures until you have fully made the impression upon their minds, that it is your solemn and imperative duty to do so.

2:38-123 26. Avoid in your conversation whatever might have a tendency to beget in them the spirit of slander and evil speaking. Never let them hear you speak evil of any man. But always in their presence, as on all other occasions, "be gentle, showing all meekness to all men."

2:39-123 27. Avoid as far as possible whatever may be a temptation to them to indulge evil tempers. "Fathers, provoke not your children to anger," is both the counsel and the command of God. If you find your children naturally irritable and easily made angry, be sure to keep this always in your mind, that the more frequently any temper of mind is exercised, the more readily and certainly will it be exercised whenever there is any occasion for its indulgence. If therefore you find your children inclined to the exercise of any evil temper whatever, be sure, as far as possible, to avoid all occasions that may prove too great a trial for them, and cause them to fall into their besetting sin.

2:40-123 28. Avoid unnecessarily exciting their fears upon any subject. Suffer no one to make them afraid of the dark, or of Indians, or of witches, or of wild beasts. Children are often very seriously injured by creating a morbid excitability upon such subjects, insomuch that they are ever afterwards afraid to be alone in the dark. And their foolish fears are often excited even in riper age, in view of things with which they were foolishly persecuted in their youth.

2:41-123 29. Never give them any thing because they cry for it. If they find that they can get any thing by crying for it, or that they are any more apt to get it because they cry for it, you will find yourselves continually annoyed by their crying. Children should be taught that if they cry for a thing, for that very reason they cannot have it.

2:42-123 III. Several things to be attended to in the training of children.

2:43-123 1. Be honest, and thorough, and correct in forming your own views and opinions on all subjects. This is of great importance. For if your children find you often mistaken in your views upon some important subjects, your opinions will soon cease to have much weight with them. It is immensely important that you be well instructed, and know how to answer their inquiries, especially on all moral subjects. Your opinions ought to have great weight with them. It is for their own good. Your opinions will naturally have great weight with them unless they find you in error. Be careful then as you would preserve your own influence over them for their good, and as you would not mislead them to their ruin, to be thorough and diligent in the use of means to obtain correct information on all moral questions.

2:44-123 2. Let your own habits be both right and regular; your rising in the morning, your retiring at night, the hours at which you take your meals, together with all your domestic arrangements. Let order pervade every thing, and be sure to have a time and a place for every work, and every thing around you. Have a place for every tool, and let every member of your family be constrained to keep every thing in its place. And if they have occasion to use any tool, to be sure to return it to its place before they put it out of their hands. By insisting upon this, you will soon save yourself and them a great deal of unnecessary trouble.

2:45-123 3. Be sure that they are up early in the morning, and retire early at night. This is imperiously demanded by their health, and almost universally by their morals. If children are allowed to be up late in the evening they will not only lie in bed late in the morning, but almost always get into the habit of either making or receiving visits from neighboring children. This will bring in its train a host of evils.

2:46-123 4. See that your temper and spirit are right. "Let the peace of God that passeth all understanding dwell in your hearts, that you may possess your soul in patience." And never suffer your angry feelings to come into collision with theirs.

2:47-123 5. Let the influence which you have over them be an ever present consideration with you. Do not forget it. Do not be unmindful of it, even for an hour or a moment. In whatever you say and do in their presence have an eye to its influence upon them.

2:48-123 6. That in training children, parents should remember their nature, and that their will is in the first instance influenced by sense, and not by moral considerations--that their bodily appetites come to have a strong influence over their will, before moral truth can reach the heart through the conscience, unless their minds are enlightened by a supernatural divine agency. Hence,

2:49-123 7. Parents should remember that physical training must precede moral training. Pains should be taken to keep their bodily appetites in a perfectly natural state. And as far as possible prevent the formation of artificial appetites, and do all that the nature of the case admits to restrain the influence of the appetites over the will.

2:50-123 8. Parents should remember that all artificial stimulants lead directly to intemperance--that tea, coffee, tobacco, spices, ginger, and indeed the whole family of innutritious stimulants, lead directly and powerfully to the formation of intemperate habits--create a morbid hankering after more and more stimulants, until both body and soul are swallowed up on the terrible vortex of intemperance.

2:51-123 9. Parents should remember that the least stimulating kinds of diet, are best suited to the formation of temperate habits in all respects. And just as far as they depart from a mild, bland, unstimulating diet, they are laying, in the perversion of the child's constitution, a foundation for any and every degree of intemperance.

2:52-123 10. Parents should remember that the temper of the child is in a great measure dependent upon, and intimately connected with his physical habits. If, during the period of nursing, the mother makes a free use of innutricious stimulants, she is continually poisoning the infant at her breast, and rasping up its nervous system into a state of extreme irritability. The certain consequence sooner or later, will be the development of an irritable temper, with many disagreeable and even disgusting traits of character. If when the child is weaned from the breast, the irritating process is still kept up--if it is fed with much pastry, unripe fruits, at unseasonable hours, and in improper quantities--nothing else can be expected than that it will be a spoiled child.

2:53-123 11. Parents should secure the earliest opportunity to get the mastery of the will. The very first time, at whatever age, children manifest temper and set up their will, they should be calmly but firmly resisted. It matters not how young they are. If they manifest a disposition to obtain a thing by crying, or in any way insisting upon having their will, the parent should at once adopt some method of steadily and perseveringly opposing their will in that particular. To press the hand upon them and hold them still when they are struggling and screaming to get up, or even to let them lie and scream is vastly better than to yield any point to them when their spirit is stirred, and their will is stubborn.

2:54-123 12. Parents should begin at the outset to get the mastery over the will and then keep it. The most steadfast and uniform perseverance is essential to retaining the mastery of their will. I have always observed that persons whose will has not been early subdued and kept under, are either never converted, or if hopefully converted, make but little progress in piety. I have had so much opportunity of making observation is this respect, that if I find a person lingering under conviction, and finding it very difficult to submit to God--if I find him grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit, and if converted, given to perpetual backsliding, I often make inquiry, and with scarcely a solitary exception, find that parental authority has never had a thorough influence over him--that his will was not early subdued, and ever after, while in a state of minority, kept in a state of unqualified submission and obedience.

2:55-123 13. Parents should lay great stress upon the unconditional submission and obedience of their children. Some parents seem to have adopted the principle of not subduing the will of their children until they are old enough to be reasoned with, when they expect to govern them by reason, and moral suasion as they say. Now it should be understood that any thing is moral suasion that acts as a motive--that the rod is one of the most powerful and even indispensable forms of moral suasion. It acts as a most commanding motive when the mind is very insensible to the voice of reason. It is no doubt the duty of parents to teach their children in the outset, that it is their right and their duty to insist upon unconditional submission to their will--to make the child understand from the very first that the will of the parent is a good and sufficient reason for the child's pursuing a required course of conduct. If the child is not taught that this is a good and sufficient reason--if it is left to demand other reasons, and if the parent is to succeed in gaining the child over to any course of conduct in proportion as he satisfies or fails to satisfy the child with the offered reasons, the child is inevitably ruined. For in such cases, if the reason satisfies the child, and he yields obedience, it is not filial obedience, it is not rendered out of respect for the authority of the parent. It is no recognition of the parent's right to govern or of the child's duty to obey the parent. It is simply yielding to the offered reasons, and not to parental authority. Parents must therefore commence the government of the child, and perfect their influence over its will, if they ever expect to do so, long before the child can be reasoned with. In this respect the parent stands to the child in the place of God, lays his influence upon the will, and holds it in a state of submission to parental authority until the higher claims of God can come in--until moral considerations can be thrown in upon the mind as the regulator of the will. And ordinarily moral truth will have greater or less influence with the will, just in proportion to the perfection or imperfection with which parental authority has influenced the will.

2:56-123 14. Keep them, as much as possible, with yourself, and under your own eye. Be yourself, as far as possible, the companion of your own children. There is perhaps no greater error among parents, than to suffer the children of a neighborhood to mingle with each other, without restraint, find their own sports, and employ themselves as they please. There is scarcely no neighborhood in which there are not more or less children, who have heard more or less filthy conversation, vulgar, hateful, polluting, immoral, and perhaps profane and blasphemous things; and whose minds have become deeply imbued, perhaps, with the spirit of the pit, or some other abomination, that, if left without restraint, will corrupt all the children in the neighborhood. Thus, one wicked child, if left to mingle freely with the whole neighborhood of playful, confiding, and unsuspecting children, will defile and ruin them all. Therefore, beloved, keep your children at home. Suffer no children of your neighbors to come within your yard, or upon their play ground, without your consent. And be careful not to give your consent, unless you or some responsible adult member of your family can be with them. Be sure that you do not confide in the purity of a neighbor's children, because their parents are good people, and suppose that the minister's or the deacon's children, may safely be left to mingle with yours of course. You should remember, that the best of parents may have their children corrupted by contact with other wicked children; and you cannot be sure that they have not been. Therefore, be on your guard, or perhaps, from the children of pious parents, an influence may flow in upon your family, that will deeply corrupt and finally destroy your children.

2:57-123 Objection. But most parents are apt to say, we cannot give up our time to our children. We are obliged to attend to other matters. To this I reply:

2:58-123 That this very seldom need to be so. If parents would satisfy themselves with a competency of this world's goods, and abandon their fastidious and fashionable ways of living, they would, in almost all cases, have abundant time for companionship with their children.

2:59-123 Obj. 2. But again it is objected, that children need the society of each other--that the children of a neighborhood are benefitted by contact with each other--that without this contact, they are apt to be selfish, and proud, and to lack interest in others besides themselves. To this I answer:

2:60-123 That to be sure, children need society. They need contact with other minds. They need to be so associated with human beings, as to take an interest in them, to witness the developments of character, and to develop their own characters. But it is believed, at least by me, that children are vastly more benefitted by contact with adult minds, than with the minds of children. I mean of course, those adults whose spirit, and conversation, and conduct, are what they ought to be. And, to be sure, it ought to be contact with those who take an interest in them. The example of adults has more influence with children, than that of children with each other. And I honestly say, I would not care to have my children ever see any other children, could they be favored with the right kind of adult contact.

2:61-123 15. Provide means for their amusement at home. Children must have amusement. They must and will be employed. They must have a room and ground to play in. They must have means and things with which to amuse themselves. And parents can never make a more just and appropriate use of their money, than providing with it the means of amusing, employing, and educating their children. It is a vast mistake in parents, to suppose that money thrown away, or misapplied, that is expended in the purchase of hobby-horses, little carts, wagons, sleds, dolls, sets of furniture for their play houses, needles, thimbles, scissors, boards, hammers, saws, augers, and tools with which to amuse themselves, and with which to imitate the various specimens of architecture which they see around them.

2:62-123 It should be remembered, however, that children love variety; that they are never satisfied long with any one thing. They should not, therefore, be provided with too many things at once. For should you purchase many things at a time, you will soon find it impossible to provide novelties for them. Generally, a single novelty at a time is sufficient to amuse them. A child will find a great many things to do with a gimblet. When he has amused himself with this until it is laid aside, add a penknife. With his gimblet and knife he can peg pieces of wood together. If to these you add, after a time, a hammer, then a little saw; and thus proceed carefully, but with due attention to just what is needed for their amusement, you will render them quiet at home without occupying much of your own time.

2:63-123 You will find it very important to let your children have each one some place for his tools; and let it be an invariable rule, that whenever he has done using them, they are to be put everyone in its place. Let the child be made to feel, that it is of great importance that nothing should be lost or mislaid. Thus you will cultivate a habit, that will be of vast service to him through life. If he has little carts or wagons, be sure that he never leaves them out in the rain, or dew, but has them securely housed; and the reasons why tools should not be exposed to the weather, should be made familiar to his mind. If you have but one child, he will be lonesome, unless you take a little pains, in teaching him how to amuse himself. You must play with him, take him with you when it is convenient, go into his play room or ground, show him how to use his little blocks, his little tools, his hobby-horse, and try to give his little mind a start in the direction of inventing his own amusements.

2:64-123 16. If you have several children, study to make them satisfied with each other's society, without feeling a disposition, either to go abroad for companions, or to invite those from abroad to come to them. They must be restrained, and kept from doing these things or they are undone. This then must be a subject of study, of prayer, of much consideration, on your part, how you may make your children love each other, be willing to stay at home, and be satisfied with their books, play things, home, and friends, without roving abroad for amusement or employment.

2:65-123 17. Cultivate in them a taste for reading. To this end you must read to them yourself, or employ some judicious and excellent reader to read to them. You should yourself continue, from time to time, to search out and purchase such books as will interest and edify them, from which you can read to them from time to time, such stories and things as will interest them, and make a deep and right impression on their minds. But, beloved, be sure to be judicious in the selection of books and pieces. Read nothing to them which you have not read over yourself. Consider what your children are; and ponder well what will be the natural influence of the pieces which you purpose to read or to have read to them. And in all your selections have the moral bearings of whatever you, in any way communicate to them, strongly before your mind. Be sure to let no one at any time give your children books, tell stories, read things, or sing songs, or in any way make communications to them, the moral tendency of which is injurious.

2:66-123 18. Encourage them in employing themselves usefully; that is--in doing whatever may be beneficial to themselves or others; in the summer in keeping a little garden--and at all times in imitating the mechanic arts--making any pieces of machinery or tools for their own use, little tables, chairs, bed-steads, and in doing, in short, whatever can contribute to the well-being of their species.

2:67-123 19. Make your children your confidential friends. In other words, you be the confidential friends and companions of your children. Accustom them to confide to you all their secrets and every thing that passes in their minds. On multitudes of occasions, they have thoughts, and not unfrequently you will find manifest suggestions from Satan, which, if known to you, might enable you to do them immense good. Now, if you accustom them to throw their little minds open to you, and to feel that you, in every thing sympathize with them, that they may have the most perfect confidence in you, you will naturally come to be, as you ought to be, their confident and their counsellor. But if you will not give your time to this--if you turn them off and say, O, I cannot attend to you, or if you treat them harshly, or sarcastically--if you mortify them, and treat them with unkindness--if you manifest no sympathy with and for them, after repeated attempts to get at your heart, finding themselves baffled, they will turn sadly away, and by degrees seek sympathy and counsel from others. Thus you will lose your own influence over them, and give them over to other influences, that may ruin them. How amazingly do parents err in these respects. Father--Mother--how sadly do you err--how grievously do you injure your children--nay, how almost certainly will you ruin them, if you drive them, by your own wickedness, or leave them, to seek for confidential companionship away from home.

2:68-123 22. Cultivate natural affection among your children. Remember, that what is called natural affection, is natural in no other sense, than that it is natural for children to love those that love them. Therefore, what is generally called natural affection is cultivated affection. Therefore, great pains should be taken by parents, to cultivate among children, not only an affection for themselves, but for each other. Many parents, and fathers especially, treat their children in such a manner, as that their children have very little affection for them, and in many instances, it is to be feared, that they have none at all. And then, perhaps, the children are upbraided with the want of natural affection. But parents should have consideration enough not to wonder at the absence of natural affection, as they call it, in their children, when they take little or no pains to be worthy of or to cultivate their affection.

2:69-123 23. Again--encourage inquiry on the part of your children. They come into a world of novelties. Before they are a week old, they may be seen staring around the room, as if they would inquire who, and what, and where they are. As soon as they are able to talk, they manifest the most intense desire to be instructed in regard to every thing around them. Now parents, and all others who have the care of children, should encourage their inquiries, and as far as is possible, or proper, give them satisfaction on every subject of inquiry. Give them reasons, as far as may be, that shall satisfy their little minds.

2:70-123 24. Parents will find their children inquisitive on those subjects that are by many supposed to be of too delicate a nature to be conversed upon by children. E.g., What constitutes a breach of the 7th commandment, and things of this nature. At a very early age, it is no doubt proper to inform children, that they are yet too young to be instructed upon such subjects; but that, at a suitable time, you will give them the requisite information, requesting them at the same time, not to converse with others than their parents, about such things as these. But previous to the age of puberty, and before an explanation of such things will excite improper feelings, parents should, beyond all question, give their children requisite instruction and caution upon all such subjects. When instruction is given, caution and admonition should be so frequently repeated, accompanied with solemn prayer, and instructions from the word of God, as to make a deep impression on the mind, and thoroughly to quicken and awaken conscience. Parents cannot neglect to do this without guilt, inasmuch as it is expressly enjoined upon parents, by the authority of God, to teach their children the law and commandments of God. "And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."

2:71-123 25. Parents, and the guardians of children, should never suffer themselves to evade the inquiries of children by falsehood. For example--When an infant is born in the family, telling them that the physician brought it, or that it was found in a hollow tree, or, in short, telling them any thing false about it. There is nothing improper, unnatural, or indecent, in letting them know so much upon the subject, as that it was born of their mother.

2:72-123 26. To tell children falsehoods about such things, is only still further to excite their curiosity, and create the necessity either of telling them the truth or still more falsehoods.

2:73-123 27. Be especially careful of the influences that act upon your children at common schools. It often seems to me, that parents hardly dream of the amount of corruption, filthy language, and conduct, often witnessed in common schools. Little children of the same, as well as of the opposite sexes, deeply corrupting and defiling each other. These things are often practised, to a most shocking extent, without parents seeming even so much as to know of it. I would rather be at any expense, at all within my means, or even to satisfy myself with one meal a day, to enable me to educate my children at home, sooner than give them over to the influence of common schools, as they are often arranged and conducted.

2:74-123 28. Remember that your children will be educated, either by yourself or by some one else. Either truth or error must possess their minds. They will have instruction, and if you do not secure to them right instruction, they will have that which is false.

2:75-123 29. Prove yourselves in all respects worthy of the confidence of your children. Let them always witness in you the utmost integrity of character. Let them, in no instance, see in you the appearance of deceit, falsehood, or unkindness. Let your whole heart stand open to them; and in return, you will find, as a thing of course, that their little hearts will stand open to you. If you show yourselves worthy of their confidence, rely upon it you will have it.

2:76-123 30. Deal thoroughly with their consciences. As soon as they are able to be instructed on moral questions, give yourself to a thorough enlightening their minds upon every precept of the law of God. Put their minds as fully as possible in possession of those truths that will make their consciences quick and sharp as a two edged sword.

2:77-123 31. Guard against the cultivation of so legal a spirit, as to drive them to despair when they have sinned. While you cultivate the most discriminating conscience, be sure also, to instruct the little one thoroughly in respects to the plan of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.

2:78-123 32. Add physical discipline to moral instruction. I have referred to this subject before, but wish to say in addition, that it is doubtless one of the greatest errors, in the education of children, to overlook the fact, that at that early age the discipline of the rod, will often present to them a more powerful motive than can be brought to bear upon them by moral truth, presented to their uninformed minds. The rod cannot safely be laid aside, until the powers of the mind are so fully developed and the mind so thoroughly instructed, that the whole range of moral truth may be brought to exert its appropriate influence upon the mind, without the infliction of pain. It seems to me, that some parents effect to be wiser than God, in taking it upon them to decide, that it is not wise to use the rod upon children. Prov. 19:18: & 23:13, 14: "Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying." "Withhold not correction from the child; for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell."

2:79-123 33. Let them see that your religion is your life--that it is your joy and rejoicing from day to day--and not that it fills you with gloom and melancholy. Many professors have such a kind of religion, as to render them rather miserable than happy. They are almost constantly in bondage to sin, and consequently under a sense of condemnation. They are wretched, and exhibit this wretchedness, daily, before their children. This creates the impression on their little minds, that religion is a gloomy thing, fit only for funerals and death-beds; and only to be thought of on a near prospect of death. Now this is making the most false and injurious impression upon their minds that can be conceived. It is a libel upon the religion of Christ. But shocking to say, it is almost as common as it is false. Now your children should see, that you are religious in every thing, and that in all things you are not reluctantly but joyfully acquiescent in the will of God.

2:80-123 34. By all means let them daily see, that you are not creatures of appetite--that you are not given up to the pursuit of wealth, or to the pursuit of fashion--not seeking worldly reputation or favor--that neither good eating, or good drinking, or good living, in any other sense than holy living, is the object at which you aim. Let them see, that you are cheerful and contented with plain, simple food--that you are strictly temperate in all things, in respect to the quality and quantity of whatever you eat, drink, do, or say. In short, let your whole life inculcate the impressive lesson, that a state of entire consecration to God is at once the duty and the highest privilege of every human being.

2:81-123 35. Be sure to pray much with and for them. Never punish them without praying with them. Whenever you give them serious admonition pray with them. Pray with them, when they lie down and when they rise up. And enforce the lesson by your own example, that they are never to do any thing without prayer.

2:82-123 36. Lay hold on the promises of God for them. Search the Bible for promises. Lay your Bible open before you. Kneel over it, and spread out the case of your children before God. Begin with the covenant of Abraham, and understand that God made the covenant as well with the children as with the parents. And remember that an inspired Apostle has said, "The promise is to you and to your children, and to as many as are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Take the promise in Isa. 44:3-5: "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring; and they shall spring up among the grass, as willows by the water-courses. One shall say I am the Lord's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel." Remember, that this promise was made more especially to the Church under the Christian dispensation, and respects the children of Christians, more especially than the children of Jewish parents. Throw your souls into these promises, and wrestle until you prevail.

2:83-123 I will now call your attention--

2:84-123 IV. To some of the difficulties in the way of training up children in the way they should go.

2:85-123 1. A want of the requisite information on the part of parents, and especially on the part of mothers, to whose care and management they are principally committed. Thus far, as a general fact, female education has been so much neglected, that but few women have the requisite information of the proper training of children. There is a most sad deficiency in this respect, in the training of young women, in reference to their being future mothers. Why, the education of daughters is one of the most important things in the world. That women should be educated, is wholly indispensable to the salvation of the world. An enlightened and sanctified generation of mothers would exert the greatest influence upon future generations, that ever was exerted upon human beings. It is one of "guilt's blunders," to educate the sons, and suffer the daughters to go with little or no education.

2:86-123 2. Another difficulty is, the want, often, of education, and still more frequently of consideration, on the part of fathers. Most fathers seem to be so much engaged in business, politics, or amusements, as to leave very little time for deep consideration in respect to their responsibility and influence with their children. This is all wrong; for if there be any thing that demands the attention and time of the father, it is those things that concern the well-being of his children. If he neglect his own household, whatever else he does, he virtually "denies the faith, and is worse than an infidel."

2:87-123 3. A want of a sense of responsibility in both parents, often prevents their training up their children in the way they should go. Without a keen and efficient sense of responsibility, parents will never do their duty to their children, however much they may love them.

2:88-123 4. A want of agreement between the parents, in regard to training their children. If the parents do not agree upon the course to be pursued--if they do not lend to each other the whole weight of their influence, children will soon see it, and parental influence will soon lose its power over them.

2:89-123 5. The ruinous notions that are prevalent among parents, in regard to training up children. Many parents have given themselves so little to consideration upon this subject, as that their opinions are little more than dreams, and old wives' fables, upon the subject of training children.

2:90-123 6. There is often a great difficulty, on account of the loose notions and habits of neighborhoods in regard to their children. If a parent who is anxious to preserve the morals of his children, makes up his mind to keep them at home, it is often unjustly thought and said, that it is because he thinks his children better than the neighbors' children. Or, if he keeps his children at home, the neighbors' children are suffered to come in throngs to visit them. In this case they must be sent home, at which their parents are often offended, or suffered to remain, at the hazard of all those evils that arise from suffering children to mingle together without restraint. Or, to avoid this, the time of the father or mother, or of some adult member of the family, must be given up to superintend and accompany them in their plays. It should be always understood by parents, that they have no right to suffer their children to go to a neighbor's house, to play with his children, without first obtaining the consent of the parents of such children. And, if they do, they ought to be willing to have them sent home, at the discretion of those whose children they visit. Certainly no man has a right to inflict on me or my family the visit of his children, without my knowledge or consent. Nor have I any right to do so with him. And I had much rather a neighbor would turn his horse into my yard to feed, without my consent, than to turn his children into my yard to play with my children, without my consent. I say much rather. I might say, almost infinitely rather, as the horse would only devour the feed; but who can calculate the evil that may result from one hour's unrestrained and unobserved intercourse of children with each other.

2:91-123 7. Another great evil is the recklessness of parents, in respect to training their children. Many parents seem to turn their children to and fro, to wander like a wild ass' colt. If so be they are out of the way, it matters little with some parents, where or in what company they are. Now if there is any thing in the universe that deserves the severest reprehension, and I must add, the deepest damnation, it is such a reckless spirit in parents. It is tempting God. No language can describe its guilt.

2:92-123 8. A great want of firmness on the part of parents, in training their children, is another great evil. Firmness may respect:

2:93-123 (1.) The government and discipline of their children.

2:94-123 (2.) Guarding them against evil influences from abroad.

2:95-123 (3.) Resisting those habits of society that would subject their children to that kind and degree of contact with other children, which will positively ruin them.

2:96-123 (4.) It may respect those fashions, in regard to dress and many other things, that tend to carry their children away from God.

2:97-123 9. Another difficulty in the way is a want of faith and deep piety in parents. Many parents seem to have no practical confidence in the promises of the Bible, in respect to their children. They have very little piety; and many of them seem not to know that there are such multitudes of exceeding great and precious promises upon which they may rely.

2:98-123 10. Another difficulty is, a want of a sense of responsibility to the neighborhood, in parents. An ill managed family is the greatest nuisance that can infest any neighborhood. No man has a right to neglect the proper training of his children, and thereby render them a pest to society, any more than he has a right to build a mill dam, that will flood a timbered country, and thereby destroy the lives of the people. Now the former is an infinitely more aggravated sin than the latter. And if a man deserves to be indicted for building such a mill dam, as is often the case, how much more does he deserve to be indicted for a common nuisance, in suffering an uninstructed and unmanaged family to pour their abominations over the neighboring children. Such a family ought to be regarded as a public nuisance. Such fathers and mothers ought to be labored with, advised, admonished, and if need be, rebuked, and even indicted. And the influence of such families should be as strictly and religiously guarded against as we would guard against the influence of the devil.

2:99-123 11. Another great difficulty is, the influence of the flesh in the present state of the human constitution. The bodies of infants generally come into the world saturated with tea, coffee, and often with alcohol. They are born of mothers who have lived on the most stimulating kinds of diet, and from their very birth, nurtured upon whatever is calculated to pamper their appetites and rasp their nervous system into a state of the utmost excitement. This promotes a precocious development of all their organs, and gives great power to their animal propensities. It is almost sure to deliver them over, at a very early age, to the dominion of appetite and lust.

2:100-123 I now observe:

2:101-123 V. That if the condition be fulfilled, that is, if a child be trained up in the way he should go, it is certain, that when he is old, he will not depart from it.

2:102-123 1. Because God has said it.

2:103-123 2. He has laid the foundation of this certainty in the very nature of human beings. It is a fact, well known to every body, that human beings form habits, by the repetition of any given course of conduct, or feeling, until their habits become too confirmed to be counteracted and put down by any thing but Almighty Power. It is the law of habit that lies at the foundation of the difficulty of bringing sinners to abandon their sins. A long indulged and confirmed habit is, in the Bible, compared to the strength and stability of nature itself. God says, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spot? then can ye, who are ACCUSTOMED to do evil learn to do well." Here the law of habit is compared to the strength and permanency of nature itself. Now if a child be trained up in the way he should go, the rectitude of his future conduct is secured, not only by the promise and grace of God, but by this law of habit, which is laid deep in the foundation of his constitution.

2:104-123 3. Thus God has put the destiny of the child into the hand of the parent, who naturally loves it more than any other human being.

2:105-123 4. But again, God has established the law of parental affection, for the benefit of the child, and so far as may be, to secure the training it up in the way it should go. I might quote a great many passages of scripture in confirmation of this doctrine; but if the text itself does not satisfy your mind, no multiplication of texts would do so.

2:106-123 Here I must notice an objection to the view of the subject I have taken. There is one common and grand difficulty, which has seemed to stumble Christians, in respect to their laying hold on the promises, in regard to their children, and calculating with any thing like certainty upon their being converted, sanctified, and saved. It is this: Many good men have, in all ages, had abandoned and reprobate children. To this I answer:

2:107-123 (1.) Good men are not always perfect in judgment, and therefore may be, and sometimes doubtless have been guilty of some capital error, in training their children.

2:108-123 (2.) A great many good men have been so occupied with the concerns of the Church and the world, as to pay comparatively little attention to the training of their own children. Their children have been neglected and almost of course lost. At all events, when they have been neglected, they have not been trained up in the way they should go. So that the condition has not been fulfilled.

2:109-123 (3.) Many good men have lived in bad neighborhoods, and found it nearly or quite impossible to train up their children in the way they should go, without changing their locations. And notwithstanding they saw the daily contact of their children was calculated to ruin them, and did, as a matter of fact, prevent their training them up in the way they should go; yet they have, probably from a sense of duty, remained where they were, to the destruction of their children. In such cases, the ruin of their children may be chargeable to their neighbors, because the influence of their neighbor's children prevented their bringing them up in the way they should go.

2:110-123 A few remarks must close what I have to say to parents at this time:

2:111-123 1. You see the great importance of Maternal Associations. Mothers must make the training of their children the subject of much consideration, study, and prayer. If any mind should be well stored with knowledge, it is the mind of a mother. If any one needs to understand philosophy, mental, natural, and moral, it is a mother. If any one needs wisdom of a serpent and the harmlessness of a dove, it is a mother. It is, therefore, all-important that mothers should associate together, exchange views, and books, and converse, and pray, and discuss, and devise every measure, for training up their children in the way they should go.

2:112-123 2. There should also be Parental [Paternal] as well as Maternal Associations. If there be any thing important to the interests of this world, it is that children should be universally trained up aright. And how wonderful it is, that fathers are so slow to perceive the necessity of deep study and research, prayer, discussion, reading, and conversation, on the subject of training their children. There are associations among men for almost every thing else, and yet, I hesitate not to say, that associations for this end are as necessary and important as for any other object whatever. Pious mothers are often at their wits' end, to know what to do to secure the salvation of their children. They are greatly at a loss, to know what course of training will most likely result in their sanctification. They go to their husbands; but their minds are engaged in every thing else. They have paid very little or no attention to the subject of training their children. And, as a general thing, if a father governs his family at all, it is only by a legal system, more or less rigid, according to his natural temper, habits, and way of doing things. And notwithstanding the wife needs the counsel of her husband, and the father of her children, fathers are, as a general thing, little prepared to give them counsel. There should be a great deal of consultation between the father and mother of every family, in relation to training the children--a great deal of consideration and forethought.

2:113-123 But another thing that renders both Parental and Maternal Associations of the utmost importance is, that there may be concert and unanimity in the neighborhood, on the subject of training children. If possible, every father and every mother should be enlisted in these associations, so as to secure the right training of all the children in the neighborhood. For, as I have said in a former letter, one unmanaged family will often, in spite of all that can be done, corrupt a whole neighborhood. Parents, therefore, ought to be instructed throughout whole neighborhoods, in respect to training their children. For if some families of children are allowed to run about and visit, both by day and by night, it will be difficult to restrain other children in the neighborhood from doing the same thing; and as moral influences tell with so much readiness as that the results spread as naturally and as certainly as a contagious disease, it is, therefore, of the utmost importance, to secure the attention and hearty co-operation of every parent in the neighborhood.

2:114-123 3. Permit me here again to revert to a topic, which I have mentioned in a former letter, and say again, that it is of the utmost importance, that care should be taken to secure the right kind of domestic help. As you value the souls of your children, do not receive into your family any filthy girl or young man, or old man, that will tell falsehoods to your children, tell them vile stories, use vulgar language, or in any way corrupt their morals or their manners. I would sooner have the plague in my family, than to have such influences as these. I would not suffer the nearest relative I have on earth to remain in my family, unless he would refrain from corrupting my children.

2:115-123 4. Again, see the great importance of selecting the right kind of Sabbath School teachers.

2:116-123 5. You see the great importance of selecting the right kind of books and periodical literature for your children. There are many books and periodicals, and those too that are extensively circulated, that I regard as of a very pernicious and highly dangerous tendency. They are calculated to form any thing else than right notions and character among children.

2:117-123 6. All the domestic arrangements of every family should have a special regard to the training of their children. The right training of them should be a prime object, and every other interest of the family should be made to bend to this. The hours of retiring in the evening and rising in the morning, the hours at which meals are taken, kinds of foods, and in short all the habits of the family should have a direct reference to the right training of the children. Nothing should be suffered to enter into the family arrangements that has a tendency to injure their health, their intellect or their heart. No company should at any time be received and entertained whose conduct may endanger the manners or morals of the children.

2:118-123 7. Mothers should never, under any pretence whatever, neglect their own children for the purpose of attending to other matters. Mother, remember that nothing can compensate for the neglect of your duty to your children. This is your first great indispensable duty, to train your children in the way they should go. Attend to this then, whatever else you neglect.

2:119-123 8. Do not suppose that you can attend to this without being yourself devotedly pious. No mother has begun to do her duty to her children, who is not supremely devoted to God, and is not endeavoring to train them up for God. Some mothers will neglect their children under the pretence of going to meeting and especially attending protracted meetings, leaving it, as they say, with God to take care of their children while they do his work. They seem to think the time spent in taking care of their children is almost thrown away. And even some seem unwilling to have children because they shall have to throw away so much time in taking care of them. Now woman, you ought to know that a leading object of your life is to bear and train up children for God--and that time is as far as possible from being lost which you spend in this employment.

2:120-123 Other women, instead of neglecting their children to attend to their devotions, are neglecting their devotions almost altogether, and pretending to discharge their duty to their children while they are neglecting God and religion. Now this is equally erroneous with the other course. No parent can train up children in the way they should go, without maintaining a spirit of deep devotion to God on the one hand, and on the other without paying the most rigorous and unremitted attention to their training, physical, intellectual, and moral. Mothers should be emphatically "keepers at home." During the minority of their children, they should consider it their great business to train them up in the way they should go.

2:121-123 9. But in doing this they should consult God at every step, and should not imagine that they begin to do their duty any farther than they consult the living oracles, and live under the constant guidance of the Holy Spirit.

2:122-123 10. If you would train your children in the way they should go, be invincibly firm in training your own family, let other families do as they may.

2:123-123 11. Remember that if you resist the true light, or neglect your duty to your children, God "will visit the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and fourth generations."

 

 

 

Back to contents

3:1-61 A

3:2-61 SERMON

3:3-61 PREACHED IN THE

3:4-61 PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH AT TROY,

3:5-61 MARCH 4, 1827

3:6-61 BY THE

3:7-61 REV. CHARLES G. FINNEY

3:8-61 FROM AMOS III. 3:

3:9-61 Can Two walk together except they be agreed?

3:10-61 TROY, N.Y.

3:11-61 PRINTED BY TUTTLE AND RICHARDS

3:12-61 1827

3:13-61 Troy, March 20th, 1827

3:14-61 Rev. Charles G. Finney,

3:15-61 Dear Sir--Believing that the publication of the sermon you preached in this city, soon after the opening of the present session of the Presbytery of Troy, from the text, "Can two walk together except they be agreed," will essentially tend to advance the interests of the Redeemer's kingdom; we, members of said Presbytery, earnestly request a copy of the same for this press.

3:16-61 Affectionately yours, in the faith and fellowship of the Gospel,

3:17-61 Samuel W. Nay, I. B. Goodrich, Nathan S. S. Beman, John P. Cushman, Jonathan Kuchel, John E. Baker, Joseph Brown, Thomas McGee, John Younglove, Amos Savage, John B. Shaw, Thomas fletcher, John Hendricks, Zebulon R. Shepherd, Timothy Graves.

3:18-61 BRETHREN,

3:19-61 The discourse mentioned in your communication, and which you request for the press, was altogether an extemporaneous one. Since preaching upon that subject, I have hastily sketched down the principal thoughts, and if you are of opinion that it will, in any degree, promote the object mentioned in your request, I submit it to your discretion, with my humble prayer that God may add his blessing,

3:20-61 Yours in the bonds of the Gospel,

3:21-61 C. G. FINNEY

3:22-61 Troy, 30th March, 1827

3:23-61 A SERMON,

3:24-61 Amos iii. 3. "Can two walk together except they be agreed?"

3:25-61 In the holy Scriptures, we often find a negative thrown into the form of an interrogation. The text is an instance of this kind; so that we are to understand the prophet as affirming that two cannot walk together except they be agreed.

3:26-61 For two to be agreed, implies something more than to be agreed in theory, or in understanding; for we often see persons who agree in theory, but who differ vastly in feeling and practice. Their understandings may embrace the same truths, while their hearts and practice will be very differently affected by them. Saints and sinners often embrace in theory the same religious creed, while it is plain that they differ widely in feeling and practice.

3:27-61 We have reason to believe that holy angels and devils apprehend and embrace intellectually the same truths, and yet how very differently are they affected by them.

3:28-61 These different effects, produced in different minds by the same truths, are owing to the different state of the heart or affections of the different individuals. Or, in other words, the difference in the effect consists in the different manner in which the person receives these truths, or feels and acts in view of them. It is to be observed, also, that the same things and truths will affect the same mind very differently at different times. This, too, is owing to the different state of the affections at these times. Or rather, this difference consists in the different manner in which the mind acts at these times. All pleasure and pain--all happiness and misery--all sin and holiness--have their seat in, and belong to, the heart or affections. All the satisfaction or dissatisfaction, pain or pleasure, that we feel in view of any truth or thing presented to our minds, depends entirely upon the state of our affections at the time, and consists in these affections. If it fall in with, and excite, and feed pleasurable affections, we are pleased of course; for in these pleasurable affections our pleasure or happiness consists. The higher, therefore, these affections are elevated by the presentation of any thing or any truth to our minds, the greater our pleasure is. But if the thing or truth do not fall in with our affections, it cannot please us; if it be aside from our present state of feeling, and we refuse to change the course of our feelings, we shall either view it with indifference, our affections being otherwise engaged, or if it press upon us, we shall turn from and resist it. If it be not only aside from the subject that now engages our affections, but opposed to it, we shall and must (our affections remaining the same) resist and oppose it.

3:29-61 We not only feel uninterested or displeased and disgusted when a subject different from that which at present engages our affections is introduced, and crowded upon us, but if any thing even upon the same subject that is far above or below our tone of feeling is presented, and if our affections remain the same, and we refuse to be enlisted and brought to that point, we must feel uninterested, and perhaps grieved and offended. If the subject be exhibited in a light that is below our present tone of feeling, we cannot be interested until it come up to our feelings; and if the subject in this cooling, and to us degraded point of view, is held up before our mind, and we struggle to maintain these high affections, we feel displeased because our affections are not fed but opposed. If the subject be presented in a manner that strikes far above our tone of feeling, and our affections grovel and refuse to arise, it does not fall in with and feed our affections, therefore we cannot be interested; it is enthusiasm to us, we are displeased with the warmth in which we do not choose to participate, and the farther it is above our temperature the more we are disgusted.

3:30-61 These are truths to which the experience of every man will testify, as they hold good upon every subject, and under all circumstances, and are founded upon principles incorporated with the very nature of man. Present to the ardent politician his favourite subject in his favourite light, and when it has engaged his affections, touch it with the fire of eloquence, cause it to burn and blaze before his mind, and you delight him greatly. But change your style and tone--let down your fire and feeling--turn the subject over--present it in a drier light--he at once loses nearly all his interest, and becomes uneasy at the descent. Now change the subject--introduce death and solemn judgment--he is shocked and stunned; press him with them, he is disgusted and offended.

3:31-61 Now, this loss of interest in his favourite subject is the natural consequence of taking away from before the mind that burning view of it that poured fire through his affections; this disgust that he feels at the change of the subject, is the natural consequence of presenting something that was at the time directly opposed to the state of his feelings. Unless he chooses to turn his mind as you change the subject, he cannot but be displeased.

3:32-61 A refined musician is listening almost in rapture to the skilful execution of a fine piece of harmony. Throw in discords upon him; he is in pain in a moment. Increase and prolong the dissonance, and he leaves the room in disgust. You are fond of music; but you are at present melancholy--you are in great affliction--you are inclined to weep--the plaintive tones of an Aeolian harp light softly upon your ear, and melt around your heart--your tears flow fast--but now the din of trumpets, drums, and cymbals, and the piercing fife in mirthful quicksteps breaks upon your ear, and drowns the soft breathings of the harp--you feel distressed--you turn away and stop your ears. The plaintive harp touched you in a tender point, it fell in with your feelings; therefore you were gratified. The martial music opposed your state of feeling; you were too melancholy to have your affections elevated and enlivened by it: it therefore necessarily distressed you.

3:33-61 Your heart is glowing with religious feelings--you are not only averse to the introduction of any other subject at that time, but are uninterested with any thing upon the same subject that is far below the tone of your affections. Suppose you hear a cold man preach or pray; while he remains cold, and you are warm with feeling, you are not interested, for your affections are not fed and cherished unless he comes up to your tone; if this does not happen you are distressed, and perhaps disgusted with his coldness. This is a thing of course. Suppose, like Paul, "you have great heaviness and continual sorrow in your heart" for dying sinners; that "the Spirit helpeth your infirmities, making intercessions for you, according to the will of God, with groanings that cannot be uttered:" in this state of mind, you hear a person pray who does not mention sinners--you hear a minister preach who says but little to them, and that in a heartless, unmeaning manner; you are not interested--you cannot be, feeling as you do, but you are grieved and distressed. Suppose you are lukewarm, and carnal and earthly in your affections; you hear one exhort, or pray, or preach, who is highly spiritual and fervent and affectionate; if you cling to your sins, and your affections will not rise; if, through prejudice, or pride, or the earthly and sensual state of your affections, you refuse to kindle and to grasp the subject, although you admit every word he says, yet you are not pleased. He is above your temperature; you are annoyed with the manner and fire and spirit of the man. The higher he rises, if your affections grovel, the farther apart you are, and the more you are displeased. While your heart is wrong the nearer right he is, the more he burns upon you; if your heart will not enkindle, the more you are disgusted.

3:34-61 Now, in both these cases, they whose affections stand at or near the same point with him who speaks or prays, will not feel disturbed, but pleased. Those that are lukewarm will listen to the dull man, and say, "'T is pretty well." Their pleasure will be small, because their affections are low; but, upon the whole, they are pleased. Those who have no affections at the time, will, of course, not feel at all. All who have much feeling, will listen with grief and pain. These would listen to the ardent man with great interest. Let him glow and blaze, and they are in a rapture. But the carnal and cold-hearted, while they refuse to rise, are necessarily disturbed and offended with his fire.

3:35-61 From these remarks we may learn,

3:36-61 First, why persons differing in theory upon doctrinal points in religion, and belonging to different denominations, will often, for a time, walk together in great harmony and affection. It is because they feel deeply, and feel alike. Their differences are in a great measure lost or forgotten, while they fall in with each other's state of feeling; they will walk together while in heart they are agreed.

3:37-61 Again--We see why young converts love to associate with each other, and with those other older saints who have most religious feeling; these walk together because they feel alike.

3:38-61 Again--We see why lukewarm professors and impenitent sinners have the same difficulties with means in revivals of religion. We often hear them complain of the manner of preaching and praying. Their objections are the same, they find fault with the same things, and use the same arguments in support of their objections. The reason is, that at that time, their affections are nearly the same; it is the fire and the spirit that disturbs their frosty hearts. For the time being they walk together, for in feeling they are agreed.

3:39-61 Again--We see why ministers and Christians visiting revivals, often, at first, raise objections to the means used, and cavil, and sometimes takes sides with the wicked. The fact is, coming, as they often do, from regions where there are no religious revivals at the time, they frequently feel reproved and annoyed by the warmth and spirit which they witness. The praying, preaching, and conversation, are above their present temperature. Sometimes, prejudice on account of its being amongst a different denomination from them, or prejudice against the preacher or people, or perhaps pride, or envy, or worldliness, or something of the kind, chains down their affections that they do not enter into the spirit of the work. Now, while their hearts remain wrong, they will, of course, cavil; and the nearer right any thing is, the more spiritual and holy, so much the more it must displease them, while their affections grovel. ([footnote]We do not mean to justify any thing that is wrong and unscriptural in the use of means to promote revivals of religion. Nor do we pretend that every thing is right, that may, and often does give offence. We know that many things may exist, and while human nature remains as it is, will exist in revivals, that are to be lamented, and ought, as carefully as possible, to be corrected. But we do hold it as a certain truth, that while any heart is wrong, any thing that falls in with it, and pleases it, must be wrong also, as certainly as that one false weight can be balanced only by another just as false: and while a heart is in this state, the best things will be the most certain to offend. And if this heart, remaining wrong, could be brought in view of a state of things as perfect as heaven, it would blaspheme, and be filled with the torments of hell. The only remedy is to call upon him to "repent and make to him a new heart;" and when he has done this, right things will please him, and not before.)

3:40-61 Again--We see why ministers and private Christians differ about prudential measures. The man who sees and feels the infinitely solemn things of eternity, will necessarily judge very differently of what is prudent or imprudent, in the use of means, from one whose spiritual eye is almost closed. The man whose heart is breaking for perishing sinners, will, of course, deem it prudent, and right, and necessary, to "use great plainness of speech," and to deal with them in a very earnest and affectionate manner. He would deem a contrary course highly imprudent and dangerous and criminal. While he who feels but little for them, and sees but little of their danger, will satisfy himself with using very different means, or using them in a very different manner, and will, of course, entertain very different notions of what is prudent. Hence we see the same person having very different notions of prudence, and consequently practising very differently, at different times. Indeed, a man's notions of what is prudent; as to means and measures in revivals of religion, will depend, and, in a great measure, ought to depend, on the state of his own affections, and the state of feeling with which he is surrounded. For, what would be prudent under some circumstances, would be highly imprudent in others. What would be prudent in one man, might be highly imprudent in another. What would be prudent for a man in a certain state of his affections, and under certain circumstances, would be the height of imprudence, in the same person, in a different state of feeling, and under other circumstances. It is, in most cases, extremely difficult to form, and often very wrong publicly to express, an opinion condemning a measure as imprudent, (which is not condemned by the word of God,) without being in a situation to enter into the feelings and circumstances of the individual and people at the time the measure was adopted. If Christians and ministers would keep these things in mind, a great many uncharitable and censorious speeches would be avoided, and much injury to the cause of truth and righteousness would be prevented.

3:41-61 Again--We see why lukewarm Christians and sinners are not disturbed by dull preaching or praying. It does not take hold on their feelings at all, and therefore does not distress nor offend them. Hence we see that if, in a revival of religion, when cold and wicked hearts are disturbed with plain and pungent dealing, a dull minister is called upon, and preaches to the people, the wicked and cold-hearted will praise his preaching. This shows why, in seasons of revival, we often hear sinners and lukewarm Christians wish that their minister would preach as he used to; that he would be himself again. The reason of this is plain; he did not use to move them, but now his fire and spirit and pungency annoy them, and disturb their carnal slumbers.

3:42-61 Again--We may here learn how to estimate the opinions of ministers and Christians, and our own opinions, when our affections are in a bad state. How does such a man approve of what was said or done? What is his opinion as to means and measures? &c. are questions often asked, and answered, and the answer depended upon as high authority, without any regard to the state of that man's affections at the time. Now, in most cases, we do utterly wrong to place much confidence in our own opinions, or in the opinions of others, as to prudential measures, unless we have evidence of the right state of our or their affections; for it is almost certain, that should our affections alter, we should view things in a different light, and consequently change our opinion. Christians would do well to remember and adopt the resolution of President Edwards, "that he would always act as he saw to be most proper when he had the clearest views of the things of religion."

3:43-61 Again--We learn why churches are sometimes convulsed by revivals of religion. In most churches there are probably more or less hypocrites, who, when revivals are in a measure stripped of animal feeling, and become highly spiritual, are disturbed by the fire and spirit of them, and inwardly, and sometimes openly oppose them. But when a part only of the real Christians in a church awake from their slumbers and become very spiritual and heavenly, and the rest remain carnal and earthly in their affections, the church is in danger of being torn in sunder. For as those who are awake become more engaged, more spiritual and active, the others, if they will not awake, will be jealous and offended, and feeling rebuked by the engagedness of others, will cavil, and find themselves the more displeased, as those that are more spiritual rise farther above them. The nearer to a right state of feeling the engaged ones arrive, the farther apart they are; and as they ascend on the scale of holy feeling, if others will not ascend with them, the almost certain consequence will be that these will descend, until they really have no community of feeling, and can no longer walk together, because they are not agreed. This state of feeling in a church, calls for great searchings of heart in all its members, and although greatly to be dreaded and deeply to be lamented, when it exists, is easily accounted for upon these plain principles of our nature, and is what sometimes will happen, in spite of the sagacity of men or angels to prevent it.

3:44-61 Again--We see why ministers are sometimes unsettled by revivals. It will sometimes happen, without any imprudence on the part of the minister, that many of his church and congregation will not enter into the spirit of a revival. If his own affections get enkindled, and he feels very much for his flock and for the honour of his Master, he will most assuredly press them with truth, and annoy them by his spirit, and pungency, and fire, until he offends them. If they feel wrong, the more powerfully and irresistibly he forces truth upon them, so much the more, of course, unless their feelings alter, he will offend them, and in the end, perhaps, find it expedient to leave them. All this may happen, and be as right and necessary in a minister as it was for Paul to leave places and people, when divers were hardened, and contradicted, and blasphemed, and spoke evil of this way before the multitude.

3:45-61 Another case may occur, where the church and people may awake while the shepherd sleeps and will not awake. This will inevitably alienate their affections from him, and destroy their confidence in him. In either of these cases, they may find themselves unable to walk together, because they are not agreed. In the former case, let the minister obey the command of Christ, and "shake off the dust of his feet, for a testimony against them." In the latter, let the church shake off their sleepy minister; they are better without him than with him. "Wo to the shepherds that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye feed not the flock. Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God, Behold I am against the shepherds, and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock, neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them." Ezek. xxxiv. 2,3,9,10. President Edwards says--

3:46-61 "Though ministers preach never so good doctrine, and be never so painful and laborious in their work, yet if they show to their people that they are not well affected to this work, but are doubtful and suspicious of it, they will be very likely to do their people a great deal more hurt than good. For the very frame of such a great and extraordinary work of God, if their people were suffered to believe it to be his work, and the example of other towns, together with what preaching they might hear occasionally, would be likely to have a much greater influence upon the minds of their people to awaken and animate them in religion, than all other labours with them. Besides, their minister's opinion will not only beget in them a suspicion of the work they hear of abroad, whereby the mighty hand of God that appears in it, loses its influence upon their minds; but it will also tend to create a suspicion of every thing of the like nature that shall appear among themselves, as being something of the same distemper that is become so epidemical in the land. And what is this, in effect, but to create a suspicion of all vital religion, and to put the people upon talking against and discouraging it, wherever it appears, and knocking it on the head as fast as it rises. We, who are ministers, by looking on this work from year to year with a displeased countenance, shall effectually keep the sheep from their pasture, instead of doing the part of the shepherds by feeding them; and our people had a great deal better be without any settled minister at all, at such a day as this.

3:47-61 "We who are in this sacred office had need to take heed what we do, and how we behave ourselves at this time; a less thing in a minister will hinder the work of God, than in others. If we are very silent, or say but little about the work, in our public prayers and preaching, or seem carefully to avoid speaking of it in our conversation, it will be interpreted by our people, that we who are their guides, to whom they are to have their eye for spiritual instruction, are suspicious of it; and this will tend to raise the same suspicions in them; and so the forementioned consequences will follow. And if we really hinder and stand in the way of the work of God, whose business above all others it is to promote it, how can we expect to partake of the glorious benefits of it? And, by keeping others from the benefit, we shall keep them out of heaven; therefore those awful words of Christ to the Jewish teachers, should be considered by us, Matt. xxiii.13. 'Wo unto you, for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.' If we keep the sheep from their pasture, how shall we answer it to the great Shepherd, who has bought the flock with his precious blood, and has committed the care of them to us? I would humbly desire of every minister that has thus long remained disaffected to this work, and has had contemptible thoughts of it, to consider whether he has not hitherto been like Michael, without any child, or at least in a great measure barren and unsuccessful in his work: I pray God it may not be a perpetual barrenness, as hers was."

3:48-61 Again--We may see that carnal professors and sinners have no difficulty with animal feeling. It is not uncommon in revivals of religion to hear a great deal of opposition made to what they term animal feeling. That much of this kind of feeling is sometimes excited in revivals of religion is not denied, nor is it strange, nay, it is impossible that real religious affections should be excited to any considerable degree, without exciting the animal sympathies and sensibilities; and to wonder at this, or to object to a revival on this account, is palpably absurd. But, in most cases, it is not the animal feeling that can give offence, for so far as these feelings are concerned, there is a perfect community of feeling between saints and sinners, and carnal and spiritual Christians. Sinners have as much animal feeling as saints: cold professors have as much of the animal as warm and spiritual Christians. So far, then, as animal feeling goes, they can all sympathize, and indeed we often see that they do. Adopt a strain of exhortation or preaching that is calculated to awaken mere sympathy and animal feeling, and you will soon see that there is a perfect community of feeling among cold and warm hearted Christians and sinners; they will all weep and seem to melt, and no one will be offended, and I may add, no one will be convicted or converted. But change your style, and become more spiritual and holy in your matter, and throw yourself out in an ardent and powerful manner, in direct appeal to the conscience and the heart--their tears will soon be dried, the carnal and cold hearted will become uneasy, and soon find themselves offended. So far as animal feeling goes, they walk together, for in this they are agreed; but as soon as feeling becomes spiritual and holy, they can go together no farther; for here they are not, (and while sinners remain impenitent, and cold hearts remain cold,) they cannot be, agreed.

3:49-61 Again--We may see why impenitent sinners cannot like pure revivals of religion. It is because God is in them. They hate God, and this is the reason why God commands them to make to themselves a new heart. This is the reason, and the only reason, why sinners need a new heart. Now, while they are under the influence of "a carnal mind, which is enmity against God," they do, and must, self-evidently, hate every thing like God, precisely in proportion as they see it to bear his image. Hence we see, that the more a revival is stripped of animal feeling and of every thing wrong, the more it will necessarily offend wrong hearts. The more of God, and the less of human imperfection, there is to be seen in them, the more they will and must excite the enmity of carnal hearts.

3:50-61 Again. We learn how to estimate apparent revivals where there is no opposition from the wicked. If persons under the dominion of a carnal mind do not oppose, it must be owing to one of three causes. 1st. Either they are so convicted that they dare not openly oppose; (and even then they are opposed in heart;) or, 2dly, there is nothing of the Holy Spirit in them; or 3dly, which often happens, from an injudicious application of means to the sympathies of the multitude, the operations of the Holy Spirit are kept out of the sinner's view and covered up in the rubbish of animal feeling. Any thing that keeps out of the sinner's view the work of the Holy Spirit, tends to prevent opposition. And every thing that exposes to the sinner's view the hand of God, will certainly excite the opposition of his unregenerate heart. That excitement, therefore, which does not call out the opposition of the wicked and wrong hearted, is either not a revival of religion at all, or it is so conducted that sinners do not see the finger of God in it.

3:51-61 Hence we see, that the more pure and holy the means are that are used to promote a revival of religion, the more they are stripped of human infirmity and sympathy, and the more like God they are, so much the more, of necessity, will they excite the opposition of all wrong hearts. For, while a man's heart is wrong upon any subject, it is self-evident that he cannot heartily approve of what is right upon that subject, for this would involve a contradiction. It would be the same as to say that he could feel both right and wrong upon the same subject at the same time.

3:52-61 Hence it appears, that other things being equal, those means, and that preaching, both as to matter and manner, which call forth most of the native enmity of the heart, and that are most directly over against wrong hearts, are nearest right. ([footnote]Let it not be thought that we advocate or recommend preaching, or using other means, with design to give offence. Nor that we suppose that the gospel cannot be preached, and that means cannot be used in a wrong spirit, and in a manner that is highly objectionable, and may justly give offence. All such things are to be condemned. But still we do insist that holy things are offensive to unholy hearts, and while hearts remain unholy, they cannot be pleased but with that which is unholy like themselves. The understanding may approve, the conscience may approve, but the heart will not, and, remaining unholy, cannot approve of that which is holy. If, therefore, a sinner who is under the dominion of a "carnal mind," which is "enmity against God," is pleased with preaching, it must be either because the character of God is not faithfully exhibited, or the sinner is prevented from apprehending it in its true light, by inattention, or by being so taken up with the style and manner as to overlook the offensiveness of the matter. If, therefore, the matter of preaching is right, and the sinner is pleased, there is something defective in the manner; either a want of earnestness, or holy unction, or something else, prevents the sinner from seeing, what preaching ought to show him, that he hates God and his truth).

3:53-61 Hence, we see the folly of those who are labouring to please persons whose affections are in a wrong state upon religious subjects. They cannot be pleased with any thing right and holy while their hearts are in this wrong state, for this we have just seen would involve a contradiction.

3:54-61 This shows why so much wrong feeling is often stirred up in revivals of religion.

3:55-61 It is the natural effect of pure revivals to stir up wrong feeling in wrong hearts. Revivals of religion on earth, stir up wrong feeling in hell; they will disturb the same spirit, and stir up the same feelings, whenever they come in contact with rebellious hearts, whether in the church or out of it. Wherever the Holy Spirit comes, or is seen to operate, the opposite spirit is disturbed of course. A great degree of right and holy feeling among saints, will naturally stir up a great degree of unholy and wicked feeling in all those hearts that are determinately wrong. The more right and holy feeling there is, the more wrong and unholy feeling there will be, of course, unless sinners and carnal professors bow and submit. They cannot walk together, because they are not agreed; and the more holy and heavenly the saints become in their affections and conduct, the farther apart they will be, until the light of eternity will set them in feeling and affections, as far asunder as heaven and hell.

3:56-61 This shows that the difference between heaven and hell, as it regards moral character, and happiness and misery, consists in the different state of the hearts or affections of their respective inhabitants.

3:57-61 This demonstrates, beyond all contradiction, that sinners cannot be saved unless they are born again. In other words, it is plainly impossible, in the nature of things, that sinners should walk and be happy with saints and holy angels, without an entire change in their affections. Sinners cannot walk with the saints here. As soon as the saints cease to walk "after the course of this world," sinners think it strange that they run not with them to the same excess of riot, "speaking evil of them." As soon as Christians awake and become spiritual and active, holy, and heavenly, and break off from their vain and wicked associations with the world, sinners are uniformly distressed and offended. They try to imagine that it is something wrong in the saints, and in revivals, that offends them. But the truth is, it is the little that is right in the saints, and that in which there is the most of God in revivals, that offends them most. And were the saints as holy as angels are, or as holy as they will be in heaven, sinners must of course be so much the farther from having any community of feeling with them; and as saints rise in holiness, and sinners sink in sin, they will go farther and farther apart forever and ever.

3:58-61 I remark, lastly, that this shows why the lives and preaching of the prophets of Christ, and his apostles, and the revivals of the early ages of the church, met with so much more violent opposition from carnal professors of religion, and from ungodly sinners, than is offered to preachers and revival in these days.

3:59-61 It is not to be denied, that the saints in those days "had trials of cruel mocking and scourging, yea, of bonds and imprisonment; they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy;) they wandered in deserts, in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth."

3:60-61 It is not and cannot be denied, that the preaching of the prophets, of Christ and his apostles, and of primitive ministers, was opposed with great bitterness by many professed saints, and by multitudes of ungodly sinners, more than that of any preacher of the present day. Nor is it to be concealed, that professors of religion were often leaders in this opposition--that they stirred up the Romans to crucify Jesus, and afterwards to persecute and destroy his saints, and crucify his apostles. That even the religious teachers, and learned doctors of the law, endeavoured to prejudice the multitude against the Saviour, and to prevent their listening to his discourses; "He hath a devil and is mad," said they, "why hear ye him?" They led the way in opposing the apostles in the revivals in which they were engaged. We must admit, too, that those revivals made a great deal of noise in the world, insomuch, that the apostles were accused of "turning the world upside down;" and that sinners were often greatly hardened by the preaching of Christ and his apostles; "were filled with great wrath," and opposed with such bitterness, that Christ told his apostles to "let them alone." In some places where the apostles preached, "divers were" so "hardened," that they "contradicted and blasphemed, and spake evil of this way," insomuch that the apostles were forced to leave, and go to other places, and sometimes to leave under very humiliating circumstances, but just escaping with their lives. Now these are facts that we need not blush to meet, as they are easily accounted for, upon the principle contained in the text, and illustrated in this discourse. All these things afford no evidence that the prophets, and Christ and his apostles, were imprudent and unholy men; that their preaching was too overbearing and severe; or that there was something wrong in the management of revivals in those days. The fact is, that the prophets were so much more holy in their lives, and so much bolder, and more faithful in delivering their messages; that Christ was so much more searching, and plain, and pungent, and personal in his preaching, and so entirely "separate from sinners" in his life; the apostles were so pungent and plain in their dealing with sinners and professed saints, and so self-denying and holy in their lives, that carnal professors and ungodly sinners could not walk with them. The means that were then used to promote revivals were more holy and free from alloy than they now are. There was less of mere sympathy, and of that hypocritical suavity of manner, and of those embellishments of language, that are calculated and designed to court the applause of the ungodly. "Renouncing the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully," they preached, "not with the enticing words of man's wisdom," but "with great plainness of speech," so that the ungodly, in the church and out of it, were filled with wrath.

3:61-61 Stephen was so holy and searching in his address, that the elders of Israel "gnashed upon him with their teeth." But this is no evidence that he was imprudent. The fact that the revivals of the present day are much more silent and gradual in their progress, than they were on the day of Pentecost, and at many other times and places, and create much less noise and opposition among cold professors and ungodly sinners, does not prove that the theory of revivals is better understood now than it was then, nor that those ministers and Christians who are engaged in these revivals are more prudent than the apostles and primitive Christians; and to suppose this, would evince great spiritual pride in us. Nor are we to say that the human heart is changed, or that the character of God is become less offensive "to the carnal mind." No! the fact is, the prophets and Christ and his apostles and the primitive saints, were more holy, more bold and active, more plain and pungent in their preaching, less conformed to this crazy world; in one word, they were more prudent and more like heaven than we are; these are the reasons why they were more hated than we are, why their preaching and praying gave so much more offence than ours. Revivals, in their days, were more free from carnal policy, and that management that tends to keep out of the sinner's views the naked hand of God: these are the reasons why they made so much more noise than the revivals that we witness in these days, and stirred up so much of earth and hell to oppose them, that they convulsed and turned the world upside down. It was known then, that "men could not serve God and mammon." It was seen to be true, that "if any man will live godly in Christ Jesus, he shall suffer persecution." It was understood then, that if "ministers pleased men, they were not the servants of Christ." The church and world could not walk together, for then they were not agreed. Let us not be puffed up, and imagine that we are prudent and wise, and have learned how to manage carnal professors and sinners, whose "carnal mind is enmity against God," so as not to call forth their opposition to truth and holiness, as Christ and his apostles did. But let us know that if they have less difficulty with us, and with our lives and preaching, than they had with theirs, it is because we are less holy, less heavenly, less like God than they were. If we walk with the lukewarm and ungodly, or they with us, it is because we are agreed. For two cannot walk together except they be agreed.

 

 

 

Back to contents

4:1-120 Articles in THE INDEPENDENT of NEW YORK

4:2-120 WHEN IS THE FALLOW GROUND OF THE SOUL BROKEN UP?

4:3-120 BY PRESIDENT CHARLES G. FINNEY.

4:4-120 THE INDEPENDENT.

4:5-120 NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 19, 1874

4:6-120 First. Not until there is thorough brokenness of heart and contrition of spirit.

4:7-120 2d. Not until sin is crushed out of the heart and it has become thoroughly honest with God and man.

4:8-120 3d. Not until it is disposed to make a clean breast of wrong-doing; to make thorough confession and restitution to God and all injured parties, who, of course, have a right to our confession and restitution. This confession and restitution, to the extent of our ability, is implied in becoming honest or penitent for sin.

4:9-120 There is never genuine repentance where this disposition to confess and make restitution, to the extent of ability, is wanting. Nothing short of this disposition is honesty, either with God or man. God knows this.

4:10-120 Hence, he cannot forgive until he see a voluntary disposition in the soul to set itself right with God and with men; a disposition that sets itself humbly and resolutely to make confession and restitution, to the extent of ability, thoroughly and without delay.

4:11-120 If one has stolen, can he expect to be forgiven while he retains the stolen property? If one has slandered, can he expect to be forgiven while the calumny remains uncorrected? If one has committed a wrong of any kind, against God or against a neighbor, can he expect to be forgiven, while he neglects or refuses to make reparation, to the extent of his ability? In the presence of the universe, could God ever justify the forgiveness of such a dishonest soul? Has he not said, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper"? "But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall find mercy."

4:12-120 But what is it to cover sin?

4:13-120 1st. To justify wrong-doing.

4:14-120 2d. To excuse or palliate it.

4:15-120 3d. to endeavor to conceal it.

4:16-120 4th. In anywise to play the hypocrite respecting it. Such, for example,

4:17-120 a, as denying selfish intention;

4:18-120 b, professing benevolent intention;

4:19-120 c, claiming that it was a mistake;

4:20-120 d, resorting to any subterfuge whatever.

4:21-120 This covering sin was strikingly illustrated in the Garden of Eden. The sinning pair first hid themselves among the trees of the Garden when they heard the voice of God. This was an endeavor to conceal. When questioned, Adam replied: "The woman which thou gavest me, to be with me, she gave me and I did eat." Here was an excuse that virtually reflected upon God. When the woman was questioned, she said: "The serpent beguiled me." She attempted palliation by professing to have been deceived. Here was no genuine repentance. All was evasion and dishonesty from beginning to end. This was a covering of sin, and no wonder that they were turned out of the Garden and not forgiven and the tree of life guarded by a flaming sword. No tree of life accessible to them while they covered their sin. This case was a solemn admonition. No one may approach and eat the fruit of the tree of life while covering his sin.

4:22-120 How often sinners are invited and urged to come to Jesus whilst they cover their sins. This is a ruinous mistake. Jesus is the tree of life, and let no one think to avail himself of his intercession and righteousness until he is heartily disposed to make a clean breast of it, confess, and forsake every form and degree of sin.

4:23-120 But what is implied in acceptable confession?

4:24-120 a. Thorough repentance or brokenness of heart.

4:25-120 b. Confessing to the injured parties.

4:26-120 c. A thorough owning up and making a clean breast of the whole affair, without apology, excuse, or extenuation.

4:27-120 d. Restitution, to the extent of ability.

4:28-120 e. An honest recognition of the ill desert of sin and a hearty acceptance of the denunciations of God against it.

4:29-120 f. Consent to the justice of the divine law that has been violated, both in regard to its precept and its penalty.

4:30-120 g. An honest acceptance of the justice of the sentence of death which God has pronounced against sin.

4:31-120 h. A state of mind that honestly justifies both the law and the lawgiver, and takes a decided stand with God against self and subscribes to the justice of its own condemnation. It is easy to see that this state of mind must be a condition of forgiveness. If God should forgive while his justice in condemning is not heartily recognized, he would thereby and therein condemn himself.

4:32-120 Again, it is plain that confession and restitution to injured parties must be a condition of forgiveness, else the injured parties would have cause of complaint. If one should steal your money or filch from you your good name, and God should forgive him, while he retains the wrong, would this be right? Would you not have cause of complaint against God? Could an intelligent universe justify such a proceeding? It should always be remembered that God is honest; that he is always disposed to do right; that he will do so, not only for his own sake, but for the sake of his intelligent universe; that he has a character to sustain for integrity and impartiality; that he never will or can forgive sin where there is not such a genuine and honest repentance as will justify the act, when all the facts are revealed, in the solemn judgment. Let no one, therefore, think that he is forgiven or expect to be forgiven who has not honestly complied with the conditions of forgiveness.

4:33-120 Again, an acceptable confession implies the forsaking of sin. "Whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall find mercy." But forsaking sin implies confession and restitution. Let no one suppose the fallow ground of his soul is thoroughly broken up until he has humbled himself and fully complied with the conditions of forgiveness.

4:34-120 In laboring in revivals of religion, I have always insisted upon confession and restitution, to the extent of ability, as a condition of pardon. I have found that putting the probe to the bottom of the heart on this subject was essential to securing sound conversions and living converts. Unless this is done the soul cannot appreciate the Gospel method of salvation by grace through faith in the blood of Jesus. But I have often been told that this doctrine of confession and restitution as a condition of salvation was a new doctrine, and that repentance and faith were the only conditions of Gospel salvation.

4:35-120 I have always replied that confession and restitution, to the extent of ability, are implied in true repentance; that faith in the atoning blood of Christ always implies a heart acceptance of the justice of the penalty denounced against sin and an utter rejection of all dishonest evasion, self-justification, or covering of sin whatever. But if this doctrine of confession and restitution to injured parties is an unheard-of doctrine in any quarter, there is dangerous and unfaithful teaching. There is withholding fundamental truth. And here it is in point to inquire: Is there not a failure in public teaching on this subject? Could there be so much dishonesty in business, so many frauds and rings, such unscrupulous methods of getting rich, such lies, such slanders in politics, and so much wrong in the business and political world, such detraction, such sham, and hypocrisy in the social world, if the doctrine of confession to injured parties and restitution were faithfully insisted upon by Christians and Christian teachers? Could men use such dishonest means to obtain wealth if they were constantly reminded that they could not keep it without losing their souls? that if they get property dishonestly it must be restored to the injured parties or they can never be forgiven? If they get an office or anything else, that of right belongs to another, by dishonest means, it will cost them their souls unless they make confession and restitution, to the extent of their ability.

4:36-120 Is it not plain that the doctrine of salvation through faith in Christ is misunderstood and abused? Is there not some force in the objection of Universalists, Unitarians, and skeptics that the doctrine of salvation through faith in Christ is demoralizing in its influence and tends to embolden men in sin? Surely, there is danger of failing to make a just impression upon this subject. It should be ever insisted upon that Christ, the tree of life, is forever inaccessible to a dishonest soul; that Christ is not the minister of sin; that "without holiness no man shall see the Lord": that men cannot get rich by dishonest means, retain these riches, and still go to Heaven; that men cannot obtain wealth by selfish speculations, stock and other gambling, and find favor with God, without confession and restitution. That men cannot lie their way into an office, that they cannot in any way filch from a neighbor that which belongs to him, whether it be property or good name, retain the wrong, refuse to make confession and restitution, and still find favor with God through Jesus Christ. This would be to make Christ the minister of sin. "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper."

4:37-120 In view of this doctrine, is it any wonder that there is so little real spiritual prosperity, so little true peace of mind, so little power in prayer, so little Christian enjoyment, so little unction and power in laboring for souls, among the great mass of professed Christians? But can we not well afford to break up our fallow ground? Is it not dangerous to neglect it? Is it not disgraceful to neglect it? Is it not an inconsistency of which professors of religion ought to be ashamed? Is it not injurious and discouraging to the ministry? While the fallow ground is not broken up, the seed is sown among thorns, and it is easy to see why so much labor is expended in vain upon a worldly church.

4:38-120 The fact is, we cannot afford to be hard-hearted. While hard-hearted we are inappreciative. In this state of mind we cannot understand and appreciate the love of God in Christ. The Gospel falls upon dull ears and inappreciative minds, nothing is well understood, and infinitely the most interesting truths in the universe do not appear to be real. We go on dreamily, blindly, and in false security. "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, the end whereof is the way of death."

4:39-120 Brethren, we can well afford to break up our fallow ground, to repent and forsake our sins, make due confession and restitution, for God has promised that if we do this we shall find mercy, we shall be forgiven, we shall have peace of mind, we shall have joy in the Holy Ghost, we shall be justified by Christ through faith, we shall have power with God in prayer, we shall have power with men in labor for their souls, we shall prepare the way of the Lord, and see revivals spreading among the impenitent. If the churches in this land will take this matter in hand and do up this work thoroughly in and among themselves, by the Holy Ghost, they will be prepared to offer prevailing prayer, and see a real and great revival spreading over the land, soundly converting thousands of souls to Christ. But let not this work be done superficially. Let it not be at all neglected in any part. Brethren in the ministry, let us press this subject till the churches have thoroughly broken up their fallow ground. There is no safety in promoting what we call a revival, and receiving thousands of converts into the churches, where the fallow ground in the heart of the church is not broken up.

4:40-120 REPENTANCE:

4:41-120 ITS

4:42-120 NATURE, GROUNDS, NECESSITY,

4:43-120 AND

4:44-120 INFINITE IMPORTANCE.

4:45-120 BY THE

4:46-120 REV. CHARLES G. FINNEY,

4:47-120 OF OBERLIN COLLEGE, U. S.

4:48-120 LONDON:

4:49-120 JOHN SNOW, PATERNOSTER ROW.

4:50-120 ----------

4:51-120 1851

4:52-120 ADVERTISEMENT.

4:53-120 THE following Discourse was delivered in the Tabernacle, on the evening of January 15th, 1851, to an exceedingly crowded audience; and it was certainly the most impressive appeal on the subject to which it was ever the lot of the Writer to listen, either there or elsewhere. Mr. Finney is in no respect a party to its publication: there is reason, indeed, to believe that he never, in a single instance, gave a manuscript for that purpose. His Discourses are unwritten, being delivered from short notes. In fact, he is utterly, perhaps culpably, reckless as to the state or form in which his Discourses may go forth, and the notions which, from imperfect shorthand reports, mankind may be led to form concerning himself or his ministrations. The present Discourse is therefore published from the Notes of an accomplished Shorthand Writer. It will, of course, give but a modified conception of the actual exhibition; but its substantial accuracy in all the main features is indubitable. It will furnish some idea of Mr. Finney's general preaching in his best seasons.

4:54-120 This Note is prefixed at the request of the Publisher, with whom the project solely originates: that gentleman, being an auditor on the occasion, was so convinced of its adaptation to be useful, that he determined, in this respectable form, to issue it. May his benevolent object be realized to the eternal happiness of thousands of perishing men!

4:55-120 J. CAMPBELL.

4:56-120 February 5th, 1851.

4:57-120 A SERMON. ----------

4:58-120 ACTS iii.19.

4:59-120 "Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord."

4:60-120 There is nothing I need say explanatory of the connection in which these words occur. They are part of the chapter which I have just read in your hearing. I shall content myself with simply indicating the train of thought which I design to pursue. I shall,--

4:61-120 I. Inquire, WHAT IS THE TRUE SPIRIT AND MEANING OF THE REQUIREMENT HERE PUT FORTH?

4:62-120 II. NOTICE SOME THINGS WHICH ARE ASSUMED BY THE APOSTLE.

4:63-120 III. SHOW WHAT IS IMPLIED IN TRULY OBEYING THE REQUIREMENT?

4:64-120 IV. SHOW REASONS WHY IT SHOULD BE OBEYED.

4:65-120 "Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." The term rendered "repent" here means, in its primary signification, "to think again," or to "reconsider," and take up the subject anew. It also implies a change of mind,--such a change as would be the result of reconsidering a subject. It implies a taking back of what we have done with reference to a certain subject, and a corresponding change of mind, purpose, and intention.

4:66-120 The word rendered "converted" in this text, refers to the change in the outward life,--that is, the change corresponding with repentance. To repent, reform, and thoroughly change your course of conduct, is the literal meaning. It also implies a turning of the mind: the fact that the term was added in this connection, shows that it refers to an outward turning as a manifestation of an inward turning; as if he had said, "Repent,--change your whole life;" or, "Turn from your sins." The Apostle did not mean to insinuate that there might be repentance without a change of life. He adds, "and be converted,"--as if reformation followed as a matter of course from repentance; as if there was a natural and invariable connection between them. This is true: the real meaning of the words, is, to turn both heart and life to God. Let this suffice for the spirit and meaning of the text,--I will now notice some things which are plainly assumed by the Apostle in giving this command.

4:67-120 First: he assumed that it is not only our present duty, but that we have the ability to comply with this requirement. The very fact of the command being given, implies the assumption of our ability to obey it: for we nowhere find the Apostles ordering men to do things which they are unable to do, and the Bible everywhere assumes that man can comply with all God's requirements; and wherever promises are made of Divine aid, it is not to afford the ability, but to induce a willingness to do what he commands them.

4:68-120 Again: the Apostle assumes that they had sufficient conviction,--that they knew they ought to repent, to repent now, and what they ought to repent of. God does not require them to be convicted; he assumes that they knew themselves to be sinners, and that they were as fully convinced of it as they were of the fact of their own existence. There is not a sinner in the universe who does not know himself to be a sinner. The Apostle, therefore, does not say, "Try to be convicted;" or tell them to "pray to God for conviction, and then for repentance:" there is no such teaching in the Bible. Nor did he tell them to "try to repent:" there is no such thing as "try" in connection with these things, in the word of God. He never says "Try to believe," "Try to repent;" he always comes right out with the assumption of their knowledge of sin, and of the duty of immediate repentance.

4:69-120 The Apostle, also, plainly assumes that whatever of Divine influence was requisite of these results was, in such a sense, present, and at their disposal; and that, therefore, they need not wait for it a moment;--present in such a sense that he never once thinks it necessary even to suggest the idea that they needed any more Divine influence than they already possessed. How remarkable are the teachings of God to men! How different from the teachings we often hear! The Bible everywhere assumes that the sinner, instead of needing to wait for Divine influence, has all that he needs to render him not only able, but infinitely to blame if he does not instantly repent. The Bible represents the Spirit as already striving with man, and man as resisting. God charges men with continually resisting his Spirit; and, instead of telling them they must wait for some Divine influence, and try to move God by something they can do towards their conversion, it rebukes that whole train of thinking as strongly and emphatically as possible. It represents the sinner as resisting the very influence which he is often called upon to pray for: "Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye." (Acts vii. 51.) Not called upon in the Bible, but from pulpits--the very last place in which such a thing should be heard.

4:70-120 Again: the Apostle in this commandment assumes that repentance is a condition of forgiveness. He assumes this, though he does not say it. He says, "Repent, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out,"--which is assuming that they cannot be blotted out without repentance, and a change of life; nay, he assumes that they understand this themselves. He simply comes right out, and requires them to repent, assuming that this was a condition of their being forgiven.

4:71-120 I shall now notice some things which are implied in obeying this command. Many persons, from imperfect views of this subject, almost universally endeavour to work themselves up into such a state of feeling--to excite such emotions of sorrow for sin--they set to work to force themselves into a state of feeling which they suppose to be repentance. They try to feel very sorry; and when they find they cannot force these feelings into existence by a direct act of their will, they say, they "cannot repent." This arises out of the fact that they misconceive what repentance is; they do not understand that it is an act of the will--an act as free and as voluntary as they ever performed in their lives. In fact, with a sinner, it is the first rational act of his whole existence. While in sin he acts madly; and to repent is simply to renounce the false and wicked ways to which he has committed himself,--to cease to live only to please himself, and living to please and obey his Maker. Now, sinners should understand that their sin consists in this very state of committal to their own interests and gratification, which is the great end of their lives, and to this they cleave with the grasp of death: the whole of their lives is devoted to securing something for themselves.

4:72-120 God is engaged in the great work of promoting the interests of his kingdom--in securing the salvation of the world. He calls on sinners to renounce their selfish ways, and sympathize and unite with him in promoting his great object; assuring them that, by so doing, they will at the same time secure their own interests. To abandon his present course, which he himself knows to be unreasonable, is what God requires him to do; and this is the first thing implied in obeying this command--consecration to God, the abandonment of the spirit of self-pleasing, yielding the mind up to God at once, and devotion to pleasing and obeying him. It implies, also, going over to God's side, taking part with him against our own and everybody's sin, renouncing all excuses for not doing just as God requires us to do, renouncing the spirit of procrastination and all dishonesty of mind towards God, coming into a spirit of justice, and being willing to do what is just to our neighbour, and to consider his good as well as our own.

4:73-120 Faith in God is also implied; for, observe, where persons look at Christ, and understand what he has done, the plan of salvation, turning or repentance, implies a reconsideration of the subject, and the renunciation of self-seeking, and the committal of themselves to Christ and to God. It also implies love to God; a universal reformation of life; confession, and, as far as possible, restitution to those whom we have injured,--not to a priest, according to the Roman Catholic idea, in the confessional,--but confessing all to God, and so much as they have a right to know to those whom we have wronged. As repentance implies coming into a state of justice, it implies the confession of all our sins to God, as it is he, above all, whom we have injured; and to men, as I have said, as far as they are concerned.

4:74-120 But my principal object, is, to insist on reasons for obeying this requirement.

4:75-120 First: it is right to do so. How remarkable it is, that sinners have so little regard to what is right as to need commanding to repent! They make it a mere matter of loss and gain. "What will be the consequences," say they, "if I do? and what will be the result if I do not? I shall lose my soul if I do not, and be forgiven if I do." They argue in this way, instead of renouncing their present course for the mere intrinsic propriety and rightness of doing so. Suppose some individual had greatly injured you, and persisted in injuring you, and you expostulated with him for resisting, and you found that he did not regard at all the intrinsic wickedness of his conduct, and had no disposition to cease from it because of the intrinsic rightness of ceasing, but set himself to ask whether you had the power and were likely to injure him by way of reprisals, or what you would give him for ceasing to abuse you? so that it was evident to all that the affair was entirely a question of gain? Why, you would say, "He's a wretch!" That's what you would say. Now, apply this to yourself, and fancy any one treating you as you are treating God, sinner! Find a man with whom the intrinsic wickedness of wrong-doing has no weight,--who confesses that he ought not to do it, but cares not about the right, calculating only as to the profit or loss of consenting or refusing. Now, I do insist upon it that sinners ought always to put themselves in God's position, and try and fancy any one treating them so.

4:76-120 Suppose, now, you had a child whom you greatly loved, and that you expostulated with him with regard to his conduct. Suppose he admits the wrong,--for he would belie his own conscience, and shame his own face to blushing, should he deny it,--but, if you insist on his ceasing from his rebellion, he casts about to know whether he is likely to be disinherited or not. Perhaps he asks his brothers, or sisters, "Does father say anything about disinheriting me?" He inquires among the servants, "What does the old man say? Does he hint anything about disinheriting me, if I don't change my conduct?" Perhaps he gets his brothers or sisters to suggest to the father the propriety of giving him some extra allowance if he will reform.

4:77-120 Now, suppose yourself in that position! You have none of you, however, such a claim on your children as God has on you; and yet you are pursuing just the same course! See that aged father! His large, hard, crippled hands show how long he has wrought. He has risen early, sat up late, and eaten the bread of carefulness. He has wrought days and hours when you were asleep. How his hands are worn! He cannot straighten his fingers; they are stiffened by toiling to make his children comfortable! His back is bowed down: his hair is whitened by the frosts of seventy winters! See that son, spending his money as fast as he can get it, setting his father's commands at nought. He knows his conduct is wrong; but he does not care whether it is right or wrong: his only anxiety is, "Shall I lose my inheritance if I do not repent?" Now, suppose yourself in that condition,--what would you think? Would it not deeply grieve you? And have you never thought how deeply you are grieving Him? Christ has done more for you. He has given his hands to the nails, and his soul to death, for your sins; and yet, when he asks you to repent, "What can you gain by it?" you want to know! Now, sinner, if there were not any other reason in the universe, you ought to be ashamed to refuse; for it is unutterable injustice. I bring no railing accusation against you: every impenitent sinner amongst you treats God in the manner which I have represented. Ought you to ask for any other reason, when you are so powerfully convinced that it is right? If you had a right spirit, you ought not even to ask whether he would forgive you or not. Whichever it may be, it is right for you to repent.

4:78-120 An individual once told me, when I visited him in sickness, that he thought it was now "too late" for him to repent.

4:79-120 "Too late! why?"

4:80-120 "God won't forgive me."

4:81-120 "Well, what of that? Do you think God wants to punish you for his own gratification?"

4:82-120 "No."

4:83-120 "Then if he sees that he cannot forgive you consistently with the highest good of the universe, but finds himself obliged to punish you for your past sins, he does you no injustice; and is this a reason why you should continue to abuse him, and not repent?"

4:84-120 Then God will forgive you, if he sees he can forgive you consistently with the arrangements of his government. How, therefore, can you urge that as an excuse for not repenting? Even if you were in hell, although it would be then too late to be forgiven, it would still be intrinsically right for you to repent. Has God done you any injustice? No, Indeed! Can it then be right for you to sin against him? No; it can never be right. But shall you continue to abuse God, even when you have placed yourself in such a position that he cannot forgive you? It is clear, therefore, that when sinners demand any other reason than that it is right, they manifest unutterable wickedness.

4:85-120 Another reason for repentance, is, that God commands it. This is not an arbitrary command: the sinner is bound in nature and reason to do it, and God can never discharge the sinner from this obligation: the sinner's repentance and submission is God's intrinsic and eternal right. There is a controversy between the sinner and God. God is not wrong,--he cannot repent; and this controversy ought not to exist. God commands the sinner to cease; and the sinner must cease, for God cannot yield his rights: if, however, it were proper for him to yield, he is great-hearted enough to do so; nay, he would never need to be exhorted to do it, if he were in the wrong. But he is infinitely right, and the sinner is infinitely wrong; and, therefore, what he commands, he must insist on being performed, or punish the offenders.

4:86-120 Sinners ought to repent now, because to neglect it is to refuse to do it. It should always be understood that there is no neutral ground in religion; there is not an inch of it in all God's government. If the sinner holds on to his course of sin, what is this but refusing to repent? And to refuse to repent is to set God at defiance; virtually to say, "I won't repent." I know that sinners feel shocked to hear the language of their conduct thus put into words; they deem it blasphemy. But whose is the blasphemy--those who speak it by actions, or to those who put the language of such conduct into words? You tell your child to do something; he goes away, and does not do it: he does not tell you in words that he will not do it, but you understand his conduct as meaning that. You tell him, if he does not do so and so, you will be obliged to punish him; but he goes away, and does not do it. Now, what is this but defying you, and virtually saying, "You may punish me if you can, and if you dare?" How horrible, then, is it for the sinner to act thus towards God! Suppose, sinner, you should meet the Lord Jesus Christ, and he should tell you to your face to repent,--dare you reply, "I won't?" Yet your lives say this.

4:87-120 A young man of my acquaintance, some years since, of great talents--in fact, of the greatest ability I ever saw in so young a man--was terribly convicted of sin, in a revival of religion which commenced in the city. He was pursuing his studies at a college some few miles from his home, but had returned on a visit. He was much disturbed by the influence of the revival, and went back to college with his mind by no means at ease on the subject, although he was greatly opposed to it. Now, before this period his disposition had been remarkably amiable. He lived with an old aunt, who hoped that when he left college he would become a minister. He used to pray in her family; but the enmity of his heart became greatly stirred up. After he had been back a few days, they sent for him home again, hoping that he would be converted. His college companion had been converted before he came back. But this young man, before he went home, called several of the students together, and informed them that he was going home,--that there was a revival there, and requested them to see if he was not proof against its influences.

4:88-120 He went back, and the Lord laid hold of him. I cannot enter into the details,--it would take me too long: I shall therefore came at once to the point. After returning from meeting one evening, his aunt asked him, as usual, to pray in the family, hoping that it would do him good; but his heart was full of bitterness, and his prayer was full of blasphemy. He went to such lengths that his aunt was compelled to beg him to desist, but he would not; and, at last, he jumped up and ran away to his bedroom, and, casting himself down, declared he would not repent. He walked the room, writhing in terrible agony, till at length the morning dawned, and the sun arose and shone through the window which looked towards the east. He seemed to realize the actual and personal presence of the Almighty, as if a living voice addressing him thus,--"Young man, the sun rises on you, and you are indebted to God for every ray of light you possess." Such was his anguish now, that he felt so stubborn that he would sooner go to hell than be indebted to God for anything! God seemed to appeal to him to repent, and he fell down overcome with emotion. His aunt, as the morning drew on, finding that he did not come down to breakfast, went up to his room, and found him on the floor, calling himself ten thousand fools and wretches for his past enmity against God, and yet praising God for having spared him in spite of all his resistance.

4:89-120 This is a remarkable instance of the boiling over of the carnal mind. But, mark; every sinner, although not so impetuously and recklesly, but coolly and deliberately says in his heart and life, "I will not repent!" You see what a horribly wicked young man that was; yet he had been the admiration of the whole place in which he lived. He had for a long time felt deeply on the subject, but had said silently with himself, "I won't repent;" but when the power of God roused him up, as he could no longer be silent, he did not hesitate to blaspheme. But was this the first time he had blasphemed? With all his praying, he had hitherto refused to repent up to that hour; it was not, therefore, his first blasphemy. I know that sinners are much shocked when a man says right out, what they act out every day. And whose is the blasphemy? you who act it out in your lives, or those who tell you in words what your actions mean? It is yours, not mine: I only put your lives into words. Sinners should repent immediately, and be converted, because to refuse to do so is to wrong God. Shall a man absolutely make up his mind to do the greatest wrong to his Maker? Is it not enough that men should wrong one another?--will they wrong God too?

4:90-120 Once more: sinners should repent, because they do their own souls the greatest injury. You are as far from doing justice to yourself, as you are from doing justice to God,--as far from considering your own best interests, as from considering his claims.

4:91-120 You injure everybody else. All the universe has a right to expect that you will act according to the law of God. You have no right to refuse to do so, and set up yourself and your interests against the whole universe. No man has a right to live in sin for a moment: he wrongs the whole world; because, instead of contributing his part to the well-being of society, and the universe at large, what does he do? He sets up his own interests, opposes the whole of them, and lives to himself. Has any man a right to do this? let me ask, is not the whole of your Government injured, if a single individual refuses to pay his share of the taxes? He wrongs the entire state of so much good. If a man refuses to obey the laws, he rebels, not only against the Government, but against every man in the state. "His hand is against every man, and every man's hand is against his." This is so in a much higher sense under the government of God. Every sinner who persists in his sins is wronging not only himself and the Almighty, but every creature of God: every moral agent has a right to complain of him, rebuke him, and ask him, if he is not ashamed thus to injure the Government of God, and rebel against his Maker?

4:92-120 Again: sinners should repent, because every man has some influence in society; and the greatest influence he possesses is the influence of example. Perhaps he uses all his influence against repentance. Suppose he is a moral man, what then? Why, it is all the worse: for by how much the more moral he is, in the common acceptation of the term, by so much the more influence he will have in society; and, therefore, if he refuses to repent, he exerts a greater influence to prevent repentance, than if he were an open profligate.

4:93-120 In a certain town in America, where I once was preaching, during a series of revival services, there was in the congregation a simple, moral business man, who was one of the most influential persons in the place. I found, in visiting the people, and conversing with them, that a great many of the young men would point to this individual as the best man in the town. "Now," they said, "here's Deacon W---- considered so excellent by the Church, and we venture to say Mr. B---- is not converted, and does not pretend to have been." Indeed, I was astonished to find this man was considered quite as good as the deacon of the Church. He was set up as an example; and, therefore, because he did not repent, they could not see that repentance was necessary. At length, I went to Mr. B----, and entered into conversation with him on the subject. I asked him, if he was aware of the character and extent of the influence he was exerting? showing him that he was quite a stumbling-block in the way of many. "What! am I doing harm?" said he,--"Why, I did not know that." He gave as much money as the deacon, was regular at the means of grace,--so moral, industrious, and steady in every respect; in fact, he was such a man, outwardly, that the young men who were impenitent were almost universally of opinion, that it was quite unnecessary that they should be any better than Mr. B----. I told him this, and ask him, "Mr. B----, how good are you? Are you not an impenitent sinner? Are you not, in fact, a Pharisee?" He was too sensible a man to deny what I said. He became quite shocked to see the position he sustained; for the people actually sometimes went so far as to say, "Ah! well, let us be as good as Mr. B----, and we'll risk it." He knew himself that he needed to repent; for, although he had regularly contributed liberally, he had been all the while shaking his purse, as it were, in the fact of Christ, saying, virtually, "Here's the money," while he kept back his heart.

4:94-120 Great numbers of sinners are thus not only neglecting their own souls, but using all their influence to keep their families from being converted. They do not say, "Don't repent," in words; but they say it clearly enough in their lives. "Ah!" said a little girl to her father one day, "Father, why don't you pray? How is it we don't have family prayer?" She had been staying on a visit a few days in a house where the family altar was erected: this prompted her inquiry why her father did not pray. What did he say? I have frequently known such questions from children to be instrumental in the conversion of parents. It is no use for a parent to say "GO!" to his child, if he does not go himself: for, in most cases, they follow his example, and not his advice; and if they don't, no thanks to him. If you yourselves go on in your sins--if you don't drag them down to hell with you,--no thanks to you; and you will be held responsible for all the evil influence you have exerted in the way of hindrance to them. As far as sinners themselves are concerned, if universal damnation is not the result of their daring rebellion against God's government, no thanks to them. As far as they exert any influence, it is all against Christ. He is trying to save them; and they are scattering abroad firebrands, arrows, and death. "He that is not with me," saith the Lord, "is against me." The sinner says, he is "not opposed to religion. He goes to meeting." Suppose you do. So did Mr. B----. The people all said, he was "a good man." (I should have said, that Mr. B---- did not hesitate at once to remove the stumbling-block out of the way of the community; indeed, he seemed quite astonished, grieved, and frightened, that so many should be hiding behind him.) There is probably not a sinner in all this house who is not thus standing in some one's way. "Who are you?" No matter who you are, you have some acquaintances--some who sympathize with you--some who, if you were out of the way, would, in all probability, at once take the alarm and lay hold on eternal life.

4:95-120 I can recollect very well when this thought oppressed me. The circumstance is curious. The Church, in the neighbourhood in which I then resided, held a church meeting, at which the question was brought up as to what measures should be adopted to secure a revival of religion among them. At the time this was quite unknown to me,--some proposed one thing, and others another. At length they came to the conclusion, that it would be best, to pray for the conversion of certain individuals. Several persons were named whom it was thought desireable for them first to pray for, and I was among the number. But the minister ventured to suggest that it would be of little use to pray for me, as he had no faith, seeing that he had so often conversed with me; and he remarked that he had never known a young man, knowing so much about religion, who was so hardened. Now, I had led the singing in that church for a considerable time before I was converted; and he told them that he did not believe they could reach the young people,--for if anything were said to offend me, I should sit below, and that the rest would not sing without me. There it was. I was doubtless a great obstacle in the way of reaching those young people; but, as the Lord would have it, I was the first among them on whom he laid his hand. "Repent," said the Spirit of the Lord to my soul; and when that was done, it was found that the young people actually were under my influence as much as the minister had supposed,--for the whole mass of them rose up, and inquired what they should do to be saved.

4:96-120 I do not make this a matter of boast. It is to me a matter of unutterable shame that I should have stood in the way of their conversion so long. I used to teach them music, was with them a great deal, and exerted that kind of influence over them which was a snare of death to their souls! It was wonderful, indeed, that God did not take my life, and hurl me to the depths of hell, for exerting an influence so pernicious. How is it, sinner, with you? Perhaps you can look right round you, and behold a number who are more or less under your influence in this way,--individuals of whom, you feel convinced, that if you repent, they will follow you.

4:97-120 Another reason why you should repent, is, that the day is coming when, if you draw off these souls to the bottomless pit, they will surround you, and require at your hands an account of why you have done this unutterable injury to them. Take, for example, the case of a parent living in sin,--perhaps neither a praying father, nor a praying mother,--doing nothing, effectually, to secure their conversion. As you float along the stream of life, the curtain of eternity hangs just before you, and its lowermost verge sweeps the surface of the dark waters on which you float. At length you bow, pass under, disappear. Your children follow you,--and where are you then? Oh! where are you then?

4:98-120 Here is a father, or a mother, coming up to the judgment-seat of Christ: but, instead of saying, "Here are the children thou hast given us, Lord; we have trained them up to fear thy name;" what do they do? They hang down their heads, the father, or mother, or both; and the children follow them,--and depart with them to eternal torments, in consequence of the fatal influence of their ungodly example! Oh! look around on your children, parents! Can you look them in the face? To be sure, they will be punished for their own sins; but you have laid before them a stumbling-block. Can you bear that look, mothers? Can you bear to see your child lift up its dying blood-shot eye, and say, "Oh, mother! mother! mother! why have you not repented, and led me to Christ? Oh! my destroyer! my destroyer! the murderess of my soul! why have you thus been standing in my way?"

4:99-120 Is it not reasonable to believe, that where families find themselves thus ruined, they will regard themselves as the greatest enemies of each other? "You who had the greatest influence over me, more than all the world beside, what did you do? You neglected to repent, and thereby preached to me, 'Let repentance alone!' You neglected it yourself, and were consequently a stumbling-block in my way. I saw you go on in sin, and I followed your example, and now my soul is lost! The family is lost!" Oh, sinner! ought not this consideration to shock you? Are you a parent? Are your children here? Where are they? Have you a friend? Where is he? Have you not some one whose eye is on you? Although your influence may be small, it is enough, perhaps, to shut the gate against somebody, who might otherwise be persuaded to lay hold on eternal life,--they are waiting on you.

4:100-120 But, once more: another reason for repentance, is, the infinite goodness of God to you. Notwithstanding all your abuse of him, he is still benevolent towards you. He returns love for your opposition; and though you continue to oppose him, he perseveres in endeavouring to overcome evil with his good, that he may lead you to repentance.

4:101-120 Now, let me suppose the case of some individual who is very kind to you, heaping favours upon you; in fact, you are entirely dependent upon him. Is not this a good reason why you should cease to abuse him, or in any way displease him? If it is not a sufficient reason, there cannot be one at all; and ought this not to affect you? But, mark, he offers to forgive you; but, if he would not, it would still be your duty to repent.

4:102-120 This, however, is not all. How much has it cost him to put himself and the universe in a position in which he can make you this offer?--in which he can forgive you consistently with his relation to the rest of the universe? He has give his "only-begotten Son" to die for you, that he might be just to all his creatures, and yet make you an offer of pardon; and is this no reason why you should give up your sins? One would think that the very thought of sin having murdered Christ would make you avoid it, as you would avoid the fate of hell.

4:103-120 It is essential to your own happiness that you repent; and until you do, you are standing out, before the whole universe, right in the way of the Car of Salvation. God is disposed to spare you, and continues to do so, notwithstanding the evil influence you are exerting. But, mark; by and by, sinner, you will come into some relation in which God will see that to spare you any longer will do so much more hurt than good, that he will not spare you any longer. Whenever this comes to pass, he must remove you; for if he did not, it would be unjust to the universe. Where forbearance would do an injury to others, greater than the good done to you, be assured you must not expect it; you have brought God into a position in which he must act. Ah! if we foreknew the revelations of the judgment-seat, how many sudden deaths would be explained on this principle?--they have come into such relation with God, and with their fellow-men, that he must wipe them off. It is the very goodness of God that induces him, for the sake of others, to cut them down.

4:104-120 Again: another reason why sinners should repent, is, that repentance of others may be of more importance to the universe than the salvation of your soul itself. Your soul is of great importance; but suppose that you should repent, and, by that means, influence multitudes of others to repent,--who does not see that your repentance might be of more value to the universe than your soul? I have spoken of the circumstances under which God converted me, and the effect of it on my companions. Scores of them were converted. Now, mark, was not my repentance, as an instrument in the government of God, of more value than my soul? Yes, indeed! How much more the repentance of Paul was worth to the Church of God than his individual soul! Is not this a good reason why you should repent? Have you no desire to benefit others? Have you no desire to cease to be a stumbling-block in their way? Would you just as soon they should stumble over you into hell, as not? Do you say, "I am not to blame?" Yes, you are to blame; you have no right to be a stumbling-block, and do them harm.

4:105-120 Another reason why you should repent, is, that your procrastination renders the work daily more difficult. You are continually "grieving the Spirit of God," and stupifying conscience, which becomes seared, and less sensitive. Perhaps you can remember when your conscience was very tender,--how is it now? You can remember the time when a sermon would make you feel deeply,--how is it now? You can remember the time when you felt pressed to attend to the subject,--how is it now? Oh, sinner! you are making matters worse. You are hedging up your way to return, and actually going away from God. You are involving yourselves in matters of which you will not be able to repent, without exposing yourself to punishment by human government. You are getting property, perhaps, in such a way as to prevent you from ever making restitution, without exposing yourself to the law of the land, or doing something which hedges up your path to repentance. How many sinners here to-night are in this position?

4:106-120 Once more: you are in danger of dying in your sins every moment; and if you do not die in your sins, you are in danger of sinning away your day of grace. There is such a thing as selling your birthright. Recollect the case of Esau. "Take heed," said the Apostle, "lest there be among you a profane person as Esau, who for a morsel of meat sold his birthright; for ye know, that when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected, although he sought it carefully and with tears." Yes, he found no "space for repentance." What was this designed to teach? Some do not admit there is such a thing as sinning away the day of grace; but what else could the Apostle mean? Ah, sinner! God says to you, "Now repent, that your sins may be blotted out;" but, mark me, if you say, "I will not," you must take the consequences.

4:107-120 You have no right to ask God to forgive you, until you do repent; and your delay tempts God, and virtually tells him, that because he is so forbearing, you will tempt him a little longer. He has spared you a great while; and because he has done so, you think you will venture to abuse him still. You care nothing for the "right" of the matter: you are only anxious to secure the salvation of your own soul, which you mean to attend to before you die; but you mean to consult your own convenience as to time. You mean to set about it when you have accomplished all your schemes, worn yourself out with sin; and the mere smoking wick of the expiring lamp of life you will throw in the face of your Maker, and leap over the crater of hell, and get into heaven! That is it, you think. The blasphemy, if any, is yours, and not mine.

4:108-120 What do you intend to do? Do you think of getting into heaven in spite of your sins? You have not made up your mind to go to hell. Not you. You do not expect to go there. If now, while I speak, it should be revealed to you, that you were appointed to damnation, you would wail out like a fiend in a moment. As I saw a man on one occasion, who, before the sermon, contended that all men would be saved; and who, although I knew it not, had put a pistol into his pocket, and came with the intention of shooting me: but the truth was so impressed upon him that he fell from his seat, and, with a voice like a lion, roared out, at the top of his voice, that he was "sinking into hell." It broke up the meeting, and he was carried home in the greatest agony. Now, do you think, sinner, your nerves are strong enough to prevent this, if God should speak to you in a like manner? You mean to be saved at last; but you mean, for the present, to continue in sin. You virtually say to God, "Lord, I know that thou art infinitely gracious and merciful, and therefore I will venture to continue to abuse thee."

4:109-120 A few remarks must conclude what I have to say; and the first remark is this,--Sinners need not wait to use means to make God willing to forgive them. All that is necessary is willingness on your part to give up your sins. God is already willing to forgive you,--infinitely willing, slow to anger, and of great mercy,--unwilling that any should perish. Sinner, will you hear? There is nothing wanting on God's part: his great gushing heart stands open wide to receive you,--and its pulsations of life are beating and throbbing, trying to drive its tides of life into your soul; but you shut yourself up, and hold on to your sins, and then pretend that there must be something done to make God merciful. But, oh sinner! God is merciful, and never, never can be more so. He is only waiting to gain your consent to give up your sins.

4:110-120 Again: sinners are often disposed--and, strange to tell, professors of religion sometimes seem to encourage them--to account for their present impenitence by reason of the sovereignty of God. God has made man free and responsible, and will not over-rule his will by force. He uses means to try to save you; it is he who is using means with you, and not you with him. God has made man in such a sense free, that every sinner stands upon the awful responsibility of rejecting offered mercy. The Apostle said, "Repent, every one of you, that your sins may be blotted out," &c. The text presumes that all who will turn may be saved, and all upon the same conditions.

4:111-120 From what has been said, you will see how it is that sinners on their death-beds often find no access to God. I have often found, as I entered a sick room, that death seemed to be there in more senses than one. A poet has finely observed,--

4:112-120 "The chamber where the good man meets his fate,

4:113-120 Is privileg's beyond the common walk

4:114-120 Of virtuous life--quite on the verge of heaven."

4:115-120 --Young.

4:116-120 How beautiful! Did you ever stand and see the good man die, and that the end of that man was peace? Oh, how often have I been reminded of these words when standing by the bedside of the dying saint! "Glory to God," said one of these, "I am coming, I am coming" (coming, not going, mark). He seemed to have a bright glimpse of the eternal world. Let a man go and pray with such a person; the very air seems breathing prayer. Life is there, though death is present. What do you see there? A struggling, agonizing, dissolving, material body, with a ray of eternal life peering through that languid dying eye. See the smile playing on those dying features! If they can speak, they will inquire, "Do you hear that music? What music! Don't you hear it? I hear music. Ah! what do I see? Are these angels here? Oh! how lovely, how lovely, how lovely! You can always pray in such a chamber. The Spirit seems to fan you. You are "quite on the verge of heaven."

4:117-120 But, ah! go across the way to that ungodly sinner in the pangs of death. Instead of the sweet calm smile on the face, oh, what agony! The brow is knit, and he turns and writhes in a dreadful way. The moment you enter, if you are a spiritually-minded man or woman, you feel that death is there, and in more senses than one. Death is dragging that struggling victim to the grave. But there is another death which awaits it, more dreadful than that,--the second death. You attempt to pray; but you cannot do it. You kneel down to pray; and what does the man say? He turns his head right away. "Oh! what shocking noise is that? What creatures are those? Oh, take them away! take them away! Oh, take away that horrid fiend!"

4:118-120 Dr. Nelson, an acquaintance of mine, who is a converted infidel, mentions some curious and interesting facts with respect to the contrasts of this kind, which came under his own observation while an infidel. The dying saints saw angels, while the perishing sinners exclaimed, "Oh, take that fiend away!" He said, he was satisfied, before his conversion, that there was a point in the process of dying in which the mind had a glimpse of both worlds; it could see the spirit-world on the one hand, and the material-world on the other. This, however, was only when death was actually doing its work. All the dreams of the saints were visions of angels, surrounding him, and smiling on him; while, on the other hand, the sinner held back, struggling hard, groaning, unable to pray.

4:119-120 You see why this is. I tell you, sinner, you are in danger of bringing yourself into such a position as to compel God to commit himself against you. Did you ever think of that? God's conduct is public,--the whole universe must know it; and when sinners tempt God, presuming on his mercy, calculating to go on in sin, and finally be saved,--making God wait their convenience,--they often bring themselves into such a relation, that the whole universe are looking to see what notice he will take of it. Now, do you not see that there is a good reason why God should shut the door in your face, before all the universe, and say, "I'll see whether you will have 'sin and heaven too,' which is your intention, as the language of your conduct so plainly indicates." This it is that renders it necessary for God to take this step. He represents himself as the master of the house, and as having risen up and shut to the door, while you are without, crying, "Lord, Lord, open unto us;" but he will answer, "Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity!"

4:120-120 Now, sinner, are you not afraid to go on in your sins? If you put it off to-night, to-morrow evening you will not be at the prayer-meeting, but somewhere else; and next Sunday, perhaps, you will not go to a place of worship at all. A father once, in writing to his son about a certain habit which he had contracted, after expostulating with him at some length, broke suddenly off,--"But enough, enough,--I know I shall not ask you in vain; and I will therefore urge that matter no further, lest my doing so should appear a want of confidence in your love." And shall God appeal to you in vain? Where is your sense of right? of honour? or of duty? Oh, sinner! I am ashamed to be obliged to present so many considerations! Am I surrounded by reasonable beings who know the relations to God? and am I standing here for an hour and a half to persuade you, by an array of motives which would sweep away everything but a rock, to lead you to repentance? Might I not blush that I am a man, if I have thus to plead with you, or, in fact, to suggest any other motive for your repentance beyond the fact that your not doing so is an infinite wrong to the Almighty? Come to Christ, and say, "Oh, Jesus! thou hast bought me,--I will be thine. Thou hast died for me, and purchased my life; and shall the life which thou hast redeemed be given to Satan? No! no! as I am a man. No! as I have an immortal soul. No! as I belong to the government of God. No! as I hope for salvation. No! I dread to displease God, and desire to please my Saviour. Heaven beareth witness that I renounce my sins; and let God write it in heaven." Are you not ready? Why not? Make up your minds now and for ever, right here on the spot, in the house of God where the angels wait to tell the story, where the Holy Spirit breathes upon the people. What say you, sinner,--are you willing to come over from Satan to God? You must decide now, one way or the other; and if we could see what infinite consequences, in respect to persons here, are turning on that decision, me-thinks the congregation would wail out with agony to see what destinies are trembling on this momentous point! See that needle, trembling on its pivot! It must, when it settles, point either one way or the other--to heaven or to hell. Sinner! such is your destiny. What do you say?

 

 

 

Back to contents

5:1-98 The

5:2-98 Prevailing

5:3-98 Prayer-Meeting:

5:4-98 A SERMON,

5:5-98 Delivered in Blackfriars' Street Congregational Chapel,

5:6-98 Glasgow, on 4th September, 1859.

5:7-98 BY THE REV. C. G. FINNEY,

5:8-98 PRINCIPAL OF OBERLIN COLLEGE (U.S.), AND AUTHOR

5:9-98 OF "SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY," "LECTURES

5:10-98 ON REVIVALS," ETC.

5:11-98 --------------------

5:12-98 LONDON: WARD & CO.

5:13-98 GLASGOW: CHRISTIAN NEWS & DAY-STAR OFFICE.

5:14-98 EDINBURGH: J. DICKSON, NICOLSON STREET.

5:15-98 LIVERPOOL: G. THOMSON, LONDON ROAD.

5:16-98 MANCHESTER: WM. BREMNER.

5:17-98 ----------

5:18-98 1859.

5:19-98 The

5:20-98 PREVAILING PRAYER-MEETING.

5:21-98 On the occasion of the re-opening of Blackfriars' St. Congregational Chapel, on Sabbath, Sept. 4, the Rev. Professor Finney, president of the Oberlin College, U.S., author of 'Lectures on Revivals,' &c., preached to overflowing and deeply-interested audiences in the forenoon and evening. In the forenoon, he discoursed on 'The Prevailing Prayer-meeting,' spoken of in Acts 1:1-14, viewed in connexion with the results which followed on the day of Pentecost, the account of which he read as contained in the second chapter of that book.

5:22-98 I purpose to remark this morning on the first portion of the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, relating to the meeting which, in obedience to Christ's injunction, was held in Jerusalem, where the apostles and other followers of Jesus 'continued with one accord in prayer and supplication' till the day of Pentecost, when, in answer to their prayers, as recorded in the second chapter, they were blessed with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. [After reading Acts i.1-14, the preacher proceeded.] In speaking from these words, I remark, first, that when the gospel was first introduced into the world, it naturally required to be attested by miracles. Those who were sent of God to make the new revelation to man, both under the Old Testament dispensation and the New, he bore witness to, by giving them the power, in his name, to work miracles. This was necessary, because they claimed to introduce a revelation of God's will to the world, and God thus attested their credentials and character and mission, by giving them the power of working miracles. From this fact, and some others I need not name, there has been a tendency in the church to regard the conversions which followed these miracles as being themselves miraculous. Indeed, revivals of religion have been very commonly spoken of as if they were something very much out of the order of all means and ends, and merely miraculous things, and this revival on the day of Pentecost has been looked on and spoken of as a miraculous thing altogether. This idea has prevailed to such an extent that it seems, from what we hear and see, all religious movements and appearances are credited or discredited by many persons in proportion as they seem or seem not to have connexion with the use of appropriate means. It is common to hear people, when speaking of a revival of religion, saying, 'It must be a work of God, for it is not connected with any means as we can see'--they seem to have no feeling of regard to the connexion of means and ends. If, in any case, a religious movement occurs in connexion with any means designed to secure such results, and, so far as we can see, naturally calculated to secure such results, certain persons are disposed to discredit this as being merely human invention and something of man. It is common to hear men of certain views commend certain religious movements to the confidence of the public as being undoubtedly the work of God, because they are altogether out of the relation of means and ends, having no connexion with any human agency in producing them. They occur not under any revealed law of human or divine conduct. They are altogether exceptional to the law of order and instrumentality appearing everywhere else in the works and ways of God. Therefore they are of God. This is the wonderful logic and theology of many. In plain English, they are miracles. If reported revivals of religion are connected with human efforts designed to secure such a result, why, then, they are only of man, and not at all of God. In some instances where meetings have been appointed to pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, it has been expressly said, when such notice was given, that the meetings 'are not appointed to get up a revival.' The fact is, peculiar views of the sovereignty of God, and of man's passivity in regeneration, betray certain persons into the great error of regarding all real revivals as miracles.

5:23-98 To what extent this prevails among you, I know not, but during forty years' experience I have constantly had occasion to remark it. Now, let me say, this idea is a great and dangerous mistake. It is as contrary to the Bible as anything can be; for God has there promised the very blessings which we are to receive under the Christian dispensation, and says, 'I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them.' This is a truth, and ought to be honestly and fairly acted upon in all religious efforts. It is often taught in scripture that means must be used; the whole introduction of the Christian dispensation, and all the movements connected therewith, clearly bring out this as a necessary condition, and it is marvellous that men who profess to receive the Bible, should dissociate religious movements with appropriate means to secure such results. The Bible never recognises or countenances such an idea; and furthermore, it is contrary to the order of God's works. Both in the natural and the spiritual world he has connected means and ends; this is the law of his universal kingdom. It is plainly so in the natural world; and if an investigation were made it would be found just as plain in the spiritual world.

5:24-98 I remark, again, that this is an eminently dangerous mistake, because it discourages efforts to convert the world. Suppose, when the apostles were told to go out, and Christ added, 'Lo, I am with you alway,'--suppose they had taken up the idea that, to attempt to convert the world by any direct effort designed to produce that effect that to attempt to promote a revival of religion in the world would be to take the work out of the hands of God, to get up some human movement; why, what would have been the consequence? But no, they went forward with their work, knowing Christ was with them; for he said, 'Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.' What did Christ mean by this? He wanted it to be understood by his disciples for their encouragement, that all the divine help they needed was at their hand, and that they might rely upon it. Remember I am with you always, to give effect to the means I send you to use. Suppose they had overlooked this--that they had forgotten to go and make efforts to convert the world, and formed such a notion of God's sovereignty as to resolve on waiting till he converted the world; or, suppose they had gone on and forgotten that they were dependent on Christ's Holy Spirit, and suppose they had adopted the idea that he was not always with them, and everywhere, but only at certain times; what would have been the result, would they have succeeded? Christ said 'I am with you alway' and everywhere; they were to go and open their mouths and hold up their hands and hearts to heaven, and he would continue to anoint them, and thus they might succeed in accomplishing the thing they were sent to accomplish. The were to understand that conversion was no miracle. Although miracles were by them to be used as one means of conviction, yet, in converting the world, they were to be wise in adapting means to that end. Further, they are to remember that though conversion is no miracle, it is in fact conditional on the supernatural illumination of the Holy Spirit. The light of nature is sufficient to impose obligation, but as a matter of fact does not secure obedience. So the Bible, or the preached or written Word, can sufficiently enlighten to take away all excuses for sin, but not enough to turn the stubborn will to God. For this reason they needed, and for this reason Christ promised, his presence in the supernatural illumination of his Spirit to give saving effect to their teachings and efforts to convert the world.

5:25-98 But another danger of this mistaken idea is, that it fosters the neglect of appropriate means. If it be true that religious movements which claim to be of God, are to be credited in proportion as they are not connected with, and so far as we can see, not the result of appropriate means, why then use the appropriate means? Why should preachers adapt their preaching, and aim to secure the conversion of their hearers? Why, with that idea they might preach almost anything. If a sermon be preached calculated to convert, people regard the result as human; but if something is preached not designed nor calculated to convert, then they say 'That is of God--there were no appropriate means, it came upon us we know not how.' How easy it is to see that this erroneous idea fosters a spirit of neglect--a spirit of carelessness, as to whether the means be appropriate or inappropriate, throwing all the responsibility upon God's sovereignty. There was once an old minister wished me to let a certain young man preach, and when I inquired whether he would preach anything suited to the occasion, as it was in the midst of a revival, 'Oh,' said he, 'no matter; there is no connexion between means and ends in spiritual things--he will preach the truth.' 'I shall not ask him to preach,' I said, 'unless I know he can preach what is needed, and not divert the attention of the people from the great object which should be placed before them.' I could not think it my duty, in the circumstances, to humour the old gentleman. I do not believe in this disconnection of means and ends. The Holy Spirit, when he converts men, directs them to something calculated to convert them, and anything else distracts their attention, prevents their intelligent action, and prevents their conversion.

5:26-98 This idea to which I have alluded is standing greatly in the way of the conversion of the world; and if the Church would go back to the promise of Christ when he commissioned her--for it was not the apostles merely whom he commissioned--to go and disciple all nations, saying, 'Lo, I am with you alway'--if Christians would plant themselves upon that promise, and seek to carry out their Lord's command in its true spirit, using the appropriate means for the accomplishment of the object, it would not be long before a different state of things existed in the world.

5:27-98 This leads me to inquire what are the appropriate means? And I remark here, that one of these is special prayer for the object. Not the kind of prayer offered, in which the mind is manifestly not set upon or expecting anything in particular, and when the person praying asks promiscuously for anything or everything from Dan to Beersheba, but special prayer, and the prayer of faith, which has been one of the universal antecedents of a revival of religion since God owned the world. The whole history of the Church--all God's dealings since the world began, and since the Christian era was introduced--bring out this fact, that when the Spirit has been poured out upon the Church, special prayer has been made for that object. In the case recorded in the Acts, the brethren, without indulging in vain speculations, and throwing all the blame of the sin of the world on God, met for special prayer with reference to a definite object.

5:28-98 Again, preaching of the word, exhortation, and personal conversation were, and are, the appropriate and indispensable means of securing the conversion of souls. We find Peter, in his sermon, exhorting the people to 'save themselves from this untoward generation.' This is what he did, and what did his hearers do? They received his word. There must be special prayer, preaching, and conversation, and means employed to secure the desired end; and what they in those days expected, are you not to expect? What did Christ mean by the parable of the feast, when the servants were ordered to go into the highways, and streets, and lanes, and compel them to come in? He plainly intended to enjoin it upon the whole Church to go to this work of personal visitation and effort to bring sinners to God's house, and to Christ. To lay aside their indolence and their fear of man, and to go to the unconverted wherever they can be found, and urge them, with all possible importunity, to attend to the gospel call. 'Compel them to come in.' We must no longer yield obedience to that devil's call of propriety and politeness that forbids us to personally address others on the question of salvation. Blessed be God, the churches in America and in this country, I trust, are better understanding the application of this parable, and of the Master's instructions, than for some generations past. We find that to merely build churches in their neighbourhood is not enough. We must literally go to them and use a kind of moral compulsion to get them to the house of God, and when this can not be secured we must preach to them where we can.

5:29-98 But these means are always used where there is really a revival of religion. I will now make a few remarks on the antecedents and accompaniments of this particular revival--the means used in this case. Here we have a prayer meeting--a prevailing prayer meeting, which secured the object, the desired result.

5:30-98 First, there was special prayer for a particular object. Christ had told them to wait at Jerusalem till the Holy Spirit was poured out, which should take place not many days hence. Here was special prayer for a definite object, and that object the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. This is the way to pray, if you expect the Holy Ghost to be poured out. Come together with a definite object, and let that object be sought in earnest prayer. O what mistakes are made on this point! Not long since, I attended a meeting held to pray for a revival of religion. I expected to hear some brother called on to pray for the outpouring of the Spirit. One man prayed and prayed for a quarter of an hour, but he never so much as once asked for the outpouring of the Spirit; and while he prayed for almost everything else, he failed to ask the very thing which we had come together for. People sometimes meet together for prayer, and ask for everything in the world except the very thing which they have come to present to God.

5:31-98 Let us look at another feature of this prayer meeting. I said they had a definite object, and that object the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit. They manifestly were greatly in earnest--they greatly desired this object--their hearts were deeply set on it; they wrestled for the blessing; and there was an energy and power about their prayers.

5:32-98 This was a union prayer meeting; all the disciples seem to have been present. They were all united and determined; their hearts were not alienated; there was union--union in prayer; all were united in one object. There was no person to remonstrate against their petition being granted; all were desirous to have this object accomplished.

5:33-98 Again, there was faith or expectation. It was manifest that they expected the blessing. They laid hold upon God, and expected the blessing. Why should they not? Ay, why should they not? For Christ had told them 'ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.' But how can we pray in that way? Have we any such ground for expectation? They had a ground, because they had the Saviour's express promise; but have we any such promise? The apostles had a great many prayer meetings after that one; what do you suppose they did? Did they stumble at the thought that they had no further promise, and feel in the dark as to whether or not the influence of the Spirit would continue to be poured out? No; for he who promised that they should receive the Spirit not many days hence, said also 'Go and disciple al nations,' and 'Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.' The meaning of this promise was--everywhere you go, remember that I am with you; there lay hold on my strength, there believe on me, and I will manifest my presence. Is that not a fair interpretation? And has not the Church, therefore, always the promise of Christ to be with them in all their efforts to build up his kingdom, and to evangelise the world? So I understood it, ever since I was converted; I have acted on this principle for nearly forty years, and never in once instance have I seen it to fail. When the people of God have laid hold of this principle, he has poured out a blessing in many instances, till there was not room enough to receive, and it has overflowed towns and cities. Let any man take the Bible, and do as a lawyer would in dealing with any legal question--see what that means. I have seen the Scriptures quoted at times in such a manner, in support of certain opinions, that I have thought if a lawyer, in seeking to establish any point, were to quote so loosely and with such manifest latitude, he would be laughed out of a court of justice. After I was converted, I used to think it would be well if people would take the Scriptures and search them as a lawyer would, inquiring, what is the meaning of this? Take this passage--'Go and disciple all nations,' and, 'Lo, I am with you alway.' What is the meaning of that promise? Carry that before a judge in a court of law. Ask the judge what that means? Here is a command to do a certain thing, with the addition immediately following--'And lo, I am with you alway.' What does that mean? Why did he say that? Take that, as a lawyer would, in connexion with what goes before--why he bade them go into the world--and lay it before a court, and I engage that any court in Scotland would declare the meaning to be as though Christ had said--'You may always expect me, if you believe, to second your efforts; you may always expect the Holy Spirit to be poured out on you, and give effect to your honest efforts.' But this leads me to another point. Expectation, I have said, was characteristic of this prayer meeting of the disciples, and I have said we have just now as good reason to have expectation and faith as they had.

5:34-98 Again, observe, they gave up their time. Ah, some of you are business men. What is to become of my business? say some, when a daily prayer meeting is proposed. I don't know how I can afford to attend a daily prayer meeting! But the people who attended this meeting gave up their business; indeed, they had no business but Christ's, and that was about a great matter. There were women present at that meeting, and I suppose they had children. Some women could not find time to attend such meetings. It would be out of the question with some to have a daily prayer meeting--out of the question to have such a thing as a revival--and out of the question to use the appropriate means. These people cheerfully give up their time, and this was a great matter. God emptied out their worldly mindedness. It was the work of all, the business of all and wherefore cannot we put forward such efforts at any rate?

5:35-98 Again, there was mutual agreement with them. They were all present at the meeting; none stayed away and remonstrated again it. Suppose a notice should be given in the public prints that the people of Glasgow were requested to come together to invite the Queen to visit their city. Well, suppose there should be present only some half-dozen men who could not stay but a few minutes--or perhaps a dozen, or twenty, or more, and that the great mass of the people paid no attention whatever to the matter. When this made known to the Queen, she would say--'The people of Glasgow don't want me. They were publicly invited to come to the meeting; only some fifteen or twenty attended, and waited but a few minutes, during which they transacted some formal business and made out a petition. I cannot go, for the great mass of the people remonstrate against it. Well, there is a prayer-meeting. Public notice is given. Let us seek the Lord Jesus to visit us with the powerful operations of his Spirit. How many attend?--only a few; the great mass of the people are not present. When the Lord sees this, he may say, 'The people object to it--they do not want me to come. But in this case the whole of the disciples were present--about 120; they were all agreed on the one great point, and all united in the petition. Let this be done in any place, and I engage you will get an answer, as certain as God is true. Only hold a prayer meeting like this one, and you are sure to get an answer.

5:36-98 In this meeting there was an agreement in regard to what they wanted, and when they wanted it, and they were willing to make any sacrifice which might be necessary, even to their own lives, which were on the altar, given up to promote the work. This was plainly the spirit of the meeting.

5:37-98 But another characteristic of it was mutual confidence. They did not say--There is Peter, I cannot hear him pray; I have not much confidence in him; or, there is John, I have not much confidence in him; I do not like to hear him pray. A good while ago, I attended a prayer meeting, when one said to me--'Do you hear such a one pray? I guess no one wants to hear him pray.' This spirit of distrust and want of brotherly confidence was not at the meeting to which our attention is now called. Such a feeling as this is the ruin of prayer meetings. When a person gets up to pray, some one says--'Perhaps he is a good man, but I don't like to hear him pray.' Oh, it is death to a prayer meeting, when there is want of confidence! They must come together as little children. This disposition to be captious, was not at the disciples' meeting. One prayed and another prayed. Their state of mind was one of great simplicity, and strong love and confidence in each other. Let this always characterise a prayer meeting, and it is sure to prevail.

5:38-98 But another characteristic of this prayer-meeting was perseverance. They held on--ah, most important peculiarity this!--They held on from day to-day, held on, and carried out the condition--that they were to hold fast, and give God no rest till he accomplished what they had assembled to ask him for. This is not like a great many prayer-meetings, where the people can take so little time in the exercises. The fact is, they have no earnestness.

5:39-98 In this meeting there was no particular order established--no strait-jacket put on it, so that Mr So-and-so was asked--'Will you read a chapter?' and another--'Will you pray? and so on. Some are ever objecting to whatever they are unaccustomed to. We are not accustomed to that, say some; but probably you are not aware how much they deceive themselves when they only do things they are accustomed to do. In that prayer-meeting, I presume, nobody was taking the lead of it, so much as to keep it in a strait-jacket. They held their hearts and hands up, waiting for God's grace, till down came the blessing. By this I do not mean to encourage any fanatical departure from a proper form of worship. I was once invited to a prayer-meeting--certain persons had been appointed to pray--the Rev. Mr So-and-so, to do one thing, and Bishop So-and-so another. I said it would amount to nothing. 'Why,' it was remarked in reply, 'they are going to keep it up.' You will see, I again observed, that it will amount to nothing; there is too much formality. Instead of giving themselves up to the spirit of prayer, and letting anybody pray, all is conducted in such a strait, formal manner that it will amount to nothing. This meeting was continued for several weeks, I believe, and it was then given up; and it will always be so where there is this formality.

5:40-98 Another peculiarity in this meeting of the disciples was, that there was, no doubt, great fervency in their prayer. That is the last one I will mention here. That was 'effectual fervent prayer;' all the circumstances show there was divine earnestness in it, great earnestness and great wrestling in their petitions.

5:41-98 This leads me to notice some mistakes that are made. One of these is that this revival (on the day of Pentecost) was itself a miracle. We should always distinguish between a miracle as a sign and attestation on the part of God, that these men, the apostles, were his servants, and that what they said was his word, and the revival that occurred as a consequence. Why, this miracle was only among the necessary means of promoting a revival, simply because it was not then established in the world that what these men said was God's Word. It must be first established that these men were authorised messengers sent from God to publish his will. This was the reason why the miracle was wrought. The miracle was thus only part of the antecedents or accompaniments of the revival. Here, for instance, was the Spirit of God poured out, accompanied with the gift of tongues, which was a miracle, showing that the apostles were authorised messengers of God, and that what they said was from God. But what of the conversions which followed?--what did they consist in?--were they miracles? The simple account is, that the men received the word of Peter. He preached a sermon calculated to promote such a result as was promoted; they were pricked in their hearts; he told them what to do, and they did it, under the teaching of the Spirit. The revival was not a miracle, and we should lay aside the idea that this or any other revival was a miracle.

5:42-98 Another mistake is that such revivals are no longer to be expected. I do not mean revivals accompanied with the gift of tongues, because the apostle said these should cease; [20th Century comment: In the same connection, the apostle also said KNOWLEDGE would vanish away. But we still have knowledge, so we still have tongues. "Forbid not to speak with tongues"] but why should not similar revivals be expected now, so far as the conversion of souls is concerned?

5:43-98 I have known Christian men to give themselves up to prayer with singleness of heart, and the Spirit has been poured out with a power to remove everything before it, producing a movement which has spread over a whole town or district of country, and resulted in the conversion of great multitudes of people. In fact, the antecedents, accompaniments, and results of revivals are always substantially the same as in the case before us, excepting that in this case there was miraculous interposition for the purpose I have named. Let me tell you an incident that happened in the state of New York, near the line of Massachusetts: Some ladies had come over to New York, and were much struck with the progress of the revival movement there, particularly with some instances of remarkable conversions that had occurred in the case of individuals after special prayer made by Christians. They asked me a good many questions, and, among other things, wanted to know if I really thought it of any use for them to pray for a revival in their place. I related some facts to encourage them, and told them to go home and agree, together with other ladies of their acquaintance, to observe a closet concert of prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They went home, and engaged some half-dozen of them for that purpose, at sun-rise, at mid-day, and at sunset. Three times a-day they prayed for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on their place. Mark--they had a definite object in their prayer. They had no minister, but when the Sabbath came round the people assembled to hear a sermon read, and the conviction that the Holy Spirit was there that day was irresistible. At the close of the service no fewer than seventy individuals, who had been awakened, came together to be instructed by the deacons in regard to what they should do about the salvation of their souls, and a great revival followed. One of the deacons said he did not believe that the Holy Spirit's presence was more certainly manifest on the day of Pentecost than on that occasion. This is only one instance among many. I recollect a meeting of young people where they made this proposition:--'we agree to observe a closet concert prayer for one week, and when we come together again at our next meeting we will see what farther is to be done. We gave ourselves up to a closet concert of prayer, and met at a throne of grace three times a-day--morning, noon, and evening.' On visiting the young people, I soon found a wonderful spirit of prayer among them. This was not long after my own conversion. Before the week was out the town was moved: numerous meetings sprang up, so many person were inquiring the way of salvation, and Christians were aroused on every side. I could stand here till night and relate similar facts, the object of mentioning which is to show that we may all expect the outpouring of the Spirit now as then, and substantially the same way.

5:44-98 We have reason to expect the conversion of multitudes; only use the appropriate means. Pray for the object, labour for the object, give ourselves with singleness of heart to promote the object, and I am convinced God will hear you; rely upon it, you shall see the result.

5:45-98 Another mistake which often develops itself, is that of taking one of two extremes--either labouring a great deal, and losing sight of the indispensable need of special prayer; or--the opposite of this--having much prayer but no other labour--very little preaching, and perhaps no visitation, no personal conversation, no personal labour. Let the Church plead for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit--let them expect it as on the day of Pentecost. Why should we not have it and expect it? Let this be understood as an indispensable condition of a revival. Let men unite and come together for prayer; let them also pray by themselves, and for this definite object, with the expectation that the blessing will come, and meantime adopt all other appropriate means for the promotion of the same end.

5:46-98 Waiting for the Holy Spirit without special believing prayer, is one great error, as if the sovereignty of God withheld the blessing. Waiting in a state of inactivity is a mistake, and so also on the other side, is attempting to go forth without the Holy Spirit. Christ said to his disciples 'Go forth;' but he told them to wait in Jerusalem till they would be 'endowed with power from on high.' But how did they wait? They did not wait on the sovereignty of God without doing anything, but they waited in the agonisings of prayer with perpetual supplications.

5:47-98 There are certain persons who seem inclined to discredit the present great revival in America and other places, except in so far as they can disconnect it with the use of the appropriate means. It is important that I should say something on this subject. I have seen, with sorrow, in books and periodicals, that a certain class of men seem disposed to represent this great revival as a thing which had come without the appropriate means being used.

5:48-98 Certain old school men who have been ignorant of the real antecedents of this great movement in the U.S., are evidently anxious to make out a case in accordance with their peculiar views of God's sovereignty. Strange to say, the author of the book entitled 'The Power of Prayer,' labours to make the impression that the daily prayer-meetings were not for the purpose of promoting a revival, but were the result of a revival already existing, and which had come miraculously upon them, no one knew how. Yet in his own account of the daily prayer-meetings in New York City for example, so far is it from true that they originated in a revival already existing in the city, that the opposite was the fact. A few brethren seeing the depression of business men resulting from the great commercial revulsion, thought it a favourable time to gain their attention to religion. They agreed to try the experiment of a daily prayer-meeting for business men; the place and hour were agreed upon. At the hour, but one had arrived. He waited half-an-hour and four or five more came. They prayed for a revival. They conversed with and invited others. The meetings increased, and the great movement gradually developed itself as the appropriate means were used. This writer seems to have been entirely ignorant of the fact that for many months special prayer for the great commercial cities, and for the business men, had gone up like a cloud of incense from numerous daily prayer-meetings that had been numerously attended, and accompanied with powerful revivals in many parts of the State of New York, and in Boston and its vicinity. These men will fail to make out a case of revival commencing without the use of appropriate means, and one therefore that shall justify their peculiar views. The fact is, as we shall see, this great work of God has not been the sudden springing of a mine of miracles upon the church, but the development and steady growth through the use of special prayer and the appropriate means, up to a point when it forced an account of its phenomena into the daily papers. This, as was most natural under the law of means and ends, produced a rapid and far-spread outburst that took multitudes by surprise, among them the class of men I have mentioned. Especially do the persons alluded to seem desirous to disconnect this great movement with any labour of evangelists. I am certain, however, that in this they will fail to make out their case wherever history shall speak truthfully upon this point. It is true that the revival in its gradual spread and development, under the intense and successful efforts of a number of evangelists and pastors, reached a point when it forced itself upon universal notice through the daily press. This gave the facts, no longer to be ignored, to the world the rapid development from this point far out-ran not only the labours of the evangelists, but of pastors also. At this point the sacramental host-the membership, male and female, rallied, and with the public press made an onset that spread the work like fire on the prairies. But these men being ignorant of the progress of the daily prayer-meetings, and the leadings of the Spirit of prayer, with the constantly spreading and increase of revival influence for several years previous to the point alluded to, are carried to the delusion, and seen in danger of leading others to the dangerous conclusion, that this great work of God was altogether a miraculous affair, not at all connected with or resulting from the use of the appropriate means.

5:49-98 This is calculated to prevent the Church from carrying on the work. Now, I have been in the midst of these revivals for many years; I can speak as a personal witness, and I find I am informed in regard to many of those things, respecting which these brethren are not informed. I will not accuse them of any design to misrepresent in anything they say, but they are not well informed. Previous to the great revival which took place on the continent of America, before the middle of last century, certain men there had correspondence with a number of praying men on your side of the water. President Edwards wrote, setting forth the state of religion in New England, and requesting a union of prayer between the brethren there and those in Scotland. They entered into a solemn covenant to pray for the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, and they had not prayed long before the Holy Ghost was poured out, and Whitfield and others were sent into the field to promote the work as preachers. That revival, as history informs us, resulted in the conversion of thirty thousand persons in the United States.

5:50-98 The phenomenon developed in the revival during the eighteenth century in this country had, as I have read, many peculiarities of the present awakening in Ireland--such as crying out, falling down, and other manifestations. Lady Huntingdon on one occasion wrote to Whitfield respecting these cases of crying out and falling down at the meetings, and advised him not remove them from the meetings, as had been done. When this was done, it seemed to bring a damper on the meeting. She wrote, and said--'You are making a mistake. Don't be wiser than God. Let them cry out; it will do a great deal more good than your preaching; she advised to let them remain. That revival had very many of the characteristics of the present movement, and its antecedent was a great spirit of prayer, on both sides of the Atlantic, for the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. In the United States, to say nothing of the revivals that occurred all along locally for a great many years, from 1821 along to 1830, and 1835, particularly up to 1830, revivals were scattered here and there. On to 1830 and 1831, for some years a wonderful spirit of prayer was seen to prevail among Christians. Daily prayer meetings were held--ministers and laymen uniting together--and Christians of both sexes observed certain hours for closet concert prayer. This continued to increase, as I can bear witness, and I did what I could to promote it, till, in 1830, it burst out with a mighty power in the city of Rochester, and overflowed in every direction until it reached many places east and west, till Dr. Beecher remarked to me: 'This is the greatest revival of religion that has been since the world began.' 100,000 were converted this year in the United States. Taking the whole of that time, or perhaps from 1830 to 1835, there could not have been fewer than 200,000 that were converted.

5:51-98 Some of you have heard those revivals of religion discredited, and efforts have been made in this country to represent them as spurious. There is no greater mistake. I have been three times in great revivals in the city of Rochester, and have seen men from there recently. In 1830, 1842, and again three or four years ago, the revivals in Rochester spread themselves and overflowed till they have reached a vast extent of territory, and if there be any Christians in the world, I am sure they are to be found as the fruits of those revivals in the United States. I have been over the field of these revivals often, and can truly say that I do not believe that any revivals have ever been witnessed either in ancient or modern times that were more pure and more lasting in their results than those. The pastors and members of those churches, will tell you so, and we have seen these results for a great many years, and no man can call them in doubt, any more than he can call the Bible in doubt. Observe, in all these cases, the appropriate means were used, and, [apart from] the question of miracles, the means were the same as those used by the apostles. Between 1830 and 1842 revivals occurred all along, more or less, every year. In 1842 a revival again took place in Rochester, overflowing as it had done before, and continued to extend. In 1843 it had spread from New York to Ohio. In March, 1843, I went over the country in that direction, and found the revival influence at work in every town at which I stopped. In all these places the awakening partook of substantially the same character; the same means were used,--believing prayer for a definite object was offered, and daily prayer-meetings were held. This revival was of wide extent. I have seen no estimate of the number of hopeful conversions in and about 1842 and 1843. But the number must have been large. In the single city of Albany, I have been informed by a minister who was then labouring there, there were over 3000 conversions. This revival was only the development of an awakening that had, the year before (that is in 1842), been very powerful in Boston, Providence, Rochester, and many other places where evangelists had assisted the able pastors in holding daily meetings, and using the appropriate means.

5:52-98 It has been supposed that this present movement originated in prayer-meetings established for business men in the city of New York. This is a great mistake. A spirit of revival had been growing for several years in many parts of the United States. The people of God saw the tide rising and the cloud gathering, and they said to each other they should soon see a general movement. In Rochester, Christians of all denominations--Baptists, Congregationalists and Presbyterians,-- united in the work, and daily prayer-meetings and preaching were held in the different churches in succession--the meetings moving round from church to church in a circle. So much interest began to be manifested in these meetings, that information regarding them could not longer be withheld by the secular press. The facts lay too prominently on the face of society to be ignored by the secular press. They had ignored it in great measure, but a man who is a sceptic himself as I am informed, yet editor of a paper of great importance in Rochester, having a Roman Catholic reporter, sent him to take notes of the sermons every night, and they were published next morning. He also attended the prayer-meetings in the morning, I believe, and reported them. The public demanded this--it must be done--the papers must not ignore it--they must give the intelligence to the public. As soon as this was done, it aroused the masses in every town. The daily press reported the sermons, and that brought the movement into public notice. From that the revival spread in every direction. Daily prayer-meetings were commenced, which resulted in a great many others, and the awakening gave promise of becoming general. The next winter the work commenced in Boston, and became powerful. In Boston the work continued, and, I may say, increased for two successive winters. I speak from personal knowledge, as I was present. Meantime the revival of religion in the State of New York seemed to be growing in many places. In Brooklyn, just across the ferry from New York City, a daily prayer-meeting for the revival of God's work had been held for several months. In central and western New York a minister had given himself to the work of establishing daily prayer-meetings. In 1856, in connexion with the great revival in Rochester, N. Y., a little book had been published on daily public worship as an appointment with God. This book was circulated, and stirred up the churches in many places to hold daily meetings for prayer and conference. Evangelists, east and west, were assisting faithful pastors in preaching and holding daily prayer meetings with constant and growing success, and a mighty spirit of prayer for business men--for such men, who were neglecting their souls--spontaneously burst out. Thus it increased until 1858, when the commercial crisis occurred, previous to which New York had seemed to be on such a wave of prosperity as to be the death of revival effort. Business men were confounded, and rich families were being reduced to poverty. At this time a few individuals agreed to see if they could not get up a prayer-meeting for business men, in a business part of the city, particularly near the Exchange. This was done, and done like business men. They took pains to give public notice of these meetings, as they would notify matters of business or politics. They used the appropriate means, and it was remarked almost immediately after, 'Now God is answering prayer; this business crisis will bring about a revival.' A great many of us felt as if the commercial breakdown were the beginning of the whole movement in the great commercial city. The results probably some of you know. In gathering the statistics, from week to week, from different parts of the United States, it has been estimated that the conversions numbered at least 50,000 a-week; and it has been stated that over the United States, the number who have been converted cannot be less than 500,000. The revival is still spreading though it has abated in the large cities.

5:53-98 A great many overlook the fact that all these blessings from God have been progressive. The movement has been swelling and swelling till it has forced itself on the attention of the public. Every great revival wave has exceeded the former ones in power, because the number of efficient labourers has constantly increased. The great majority of the evangelical ministers in the northern States where the revival has most occurred, are themselves converts of the revivals that have blessed and preserved our country. The churches are filled with the converts of former revivals who know how to work and pray for their promotion. The Churches believe in the reality and blessed results of revivals. They have learned more and more now, and pray and labour in faith for their promotion, and, as their numbers and efforts have increased, the revival influence has extended until this great wave has covered the broad country. The majority of the press used to ignore it; but the facts which manifested themselves were so wonderful that they could not be denied, and their publication was a means of greatly increasing the effect. The editors of these papers, in many instances, are not Christian men: but the public would have the facts, and they have had them. It ought to be said that the editor and proprietor of the New York Tribune has done much that has extended this work. He employed a special and an able Christian editor to collect and arrange the revival intelligence, and that paper was instrumental in doing very much to extend the work. All honour to Mr. Greeley for the honourable course he pursued. I sent several copies of his paper to this country--papers made up altogether with revival intelligence--and have good reason to know that they were the means of exciting prayer, and a desire for a revival on this side of the Atlantic.

5:54-98 If the revivals in America prove anything, it is the exact opposite of what those to whom allusion has been made would make out. Each great revival has called out and employed more and more of the laity of the church. Hence the appropriate means being more and more extended, each great revival preceded its predecessor. The present revival has employed the membership of the churches greatly beyond anything that has been done since the days of the apostles. The readers of my lectures on revivals know that I have all along insisted upon this, and that several of those lectures are devoted to this point, namely, the necessity and the consequences of the whole membership taking personally hold of the work of revival. The present work exceeds all the former, just because the means have been greatly multiplied. God has prepared the American church and ministry for the work, and by repeated and multiplied local revivals taught them how to work; and now, instead of working miraculously without well directed means, it is a fact on the face of the whole movement that the revival is now extended beyond all precedent, because the appointed means are thus extended. In all the great revivals in America, and so far as I can learn, in all great revivals everywhere, God has called into the field, and much used and greatly blessed the labours of evangelists. In the days of Edwards, the Wesleys, Whitfield, and many others were then called and used on this side of the Atlantic. Whitfield and John Wesley were called to America, and with them were associated William and Gilbert Tenant, and others who, though pastors, travelled to many places and laboured in revivals. In that revival the Lord used laymen to a considerable extent. This was greatly objected to by many of the leading ministers. So great was the opposition to the employment of evangelists and the lay element of the church, that there was a dearth of revival influence followed for many years. No evangelist was employed--the lay element of the church lay dormant, and were not allowed to interfere with what was supposed to be the exclusive work of the ministry.

5:55-98 The next great revival commenced and was carried forward under the labours of Mr. Nettleton, in connexion with some excellent pastors in New England. He, however, did but little to bring other evangelists or the lay element into the field. Hence his labours were scarcely extended or felt beyond his own immediate influence. He laboured successfully, but he laboured almost alone, not daring or caring to arouse the whole church to action. His labour was, therefore, of necessity confined to a comparatively narrow field, and the results were, of course, to the same extend limited. Of late years a far different course has been pursued in the U.S. A considerable number of evangelists have been employed among the various denominations. These have assisted the pastors, and have laboured to bring out the lay element of the church. They have laboured hard and successfully to bring to pass the state of things at present attracting the attention and exciting the astonishment of the world. The pastors and churches with whom they have laboured can bear witness to their zeal and industry and enormous labour, with their blessed results. Those pastors have also laid out all their own strength in those revivals as a general thing, and have encouraged the members of their churches to take hold of the work, male and female, each in his and her sphere. The present revival is characterised far above all precedent by the individual activity and labour of the female members of the churches. If the business men have had their daily meetings, so have the women; if the men have visited and conversed with individuals, so have the women. God has greatly used and greatly honoured the instrumentality of women, and is still doing so. The ladies' meetings are now regarded as a most important branch of the great movement in many places.

5:56-98 I must say, in conclusion, that all these revivals, every one of them at least for the forty years now past, have been connected with means. Their antecedents have been, in every case, substantially the same, their accompaniments have been substantially the same, their type has been substantially the same, and the results, I trust, will be, under God, substantially the same. One thing which has been brought out and greatly blessed is the lay element of the Church, and more so perhaps in this revival than in any other. Lay men and women also have had their prayer-meetings, and these have increased in number to such an extent as to fill the churches. In Boston, I have seen the vestries crowded to suffocation with ladies' prayer-meetings, and these ladies, comprising some of the most educated and talented to be found perhaps in the United States. Persons of all denominations, forgetting their differences, gave themselves to the work. They all preached the same thing, the same simple Gospel. They held out substantially the same truth: Christ died to save souls; you may be saved; you are a sinner and need to be saved; now, will you come to Christ and submit yourself to God? This was about the amount of instruction. I recollect when prayer meetings for business men were established in Boston. I was the guest of the man who established them. When it was proposed to put up a notice calling such a meeting, he said, 'Will they attend?' 'Yes, they will.' 'What! Our business men?' 'Try it.' A notice was put up, and a place secured--a certain vestry. When the time of the meeting came, the man was astonished to find not only the room filled, but all the avenues to it. 'O,' business men would say, 'I never thought to see the like of this.' There were two rooms, one above the other, in this vestry. Soon both of them were filled. From the highest to the lowest, God shook every class of society. While I was in Boston on one occasion, a gentleman stated that he had come from the capital of Nebraska, and he had found prayer-meetings established throughout all the vast extent of country over which he had travelled. Think of that. A region of 2000 miles, along which the hands and hearts of the people were lifted up to God in prayer! From north to south, till you come within the slave territory, a great and mighty cry went up to God that he would come down and take the people in hand, and convert the souls; and he heard, and everybody stood confounded. The movement has come to Ireland, to Scotland, and to this city, and like a great wave I expect to see it go over Scotland, break upon the continent, and shake it. Pray for it; let the waters of eternal life roll; and let Christians all, loving and confiding in one another, give their hearts unitedly to the work. I beseech Christians in Great Britain of all denominations to lay aside all sectarian prejudices and narrowness, and unite their hearts and hands in the promotion of this work. Do not, my brethren, grieve and quench the Holy Spirit by setting at naught your brethren, because they do not in every particular agree in their views with you. Be tolerant. Be loving, united, faithful, active, prayerful, and persevering, and a wave of salvation will cover the land.

5:57-98 The Freeness of the Gospel:

5:58-98 A SERMON

5:59-98 BY THE

5:60-98 REV. CHARLES G. FINNEY,

5:61-98 PRESIDENT OF OBERLIN COLLEGE, OHIO, U.S.,

5:62-98 PREACHED IN

5:63-98 CHAPEL STREET CHAPEL,

5:64-98 SALFORD.

5:65-98 A REPORT.

5:66-98 MANCHESTER:

5:67-98 WILLIAM BREMNER & CO., 11, MARKET STREET;

5:68-98 LONDON: FREDERICK PITMAN, 20, PATERNOSTER ROW;

5:69-98 AND ALL BOOKSELLERS.

5:70-98 Preached 1860

5:71-98 The Freeness of the Gospel

5:72-98 "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Revelation xxii. 17.

5:73-98 The first inquiry that naturally suggests itself in contemplating this text is, What is this water of life here spoken of? Comparing scripture with scripture you will readily see, that it is the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit. He is often spoken of in the Bible under this figure. Sometimes He is spoken of as rain, coming down upon the mown grass. Sometimes he is compared to water poured forth on the thirsty ground, that cannot be gathered up. In this book, Christ uses the figure frequently. He says:--"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end: I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely." You recollect that in the conversation He carried on with the woman of Samaria, who came to the well to draw water:--"Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water. The woman said unto Him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."--John iv. 10-14. Again we read:--"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."--John vii. 37, 38. This occurred on the last, the great day of the feast, on which occasion, the Jews were in the habit of closing the feast by a number of ceremonies. One of the ceremonies was, to form a procession, and march with a golden pitcher to the pool of Siloam, and filling it with pure clear water, they returned, and poured it out at the foot of the altar. This was understood to represent the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit in the latter days. Jesus took His stand at the altar, to which the procession would return, and when they poured out the water, he cried:--"If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." I have merely read these passages as illustrations, and might read a great many others to show what this water is--the water of life.

5:74-98 The figure used here is Eastern. Rains were unfrequent there, and fountains, and living waters, and streams of water in the desert were exceedingly precious. This figure meant a great deal to the East, where wells, and fountains, and streams of water were so rare. You, that are acquainted with the great difficulty in finding water there, and the suffering and loss of life, that arise from the want of it, can better appreciate the force of the figure. Mankind are compared to a party of travellers in the desert, fainting and dying of thirst. A fountain is discovered, and a stream bursts forth. This is used to describe Christ's Spirit, which is to the soul what the natural water would be to the bodies of men. People would die from the want of water, and the soul will die from the want of the Holy Spirit. This text teaches the abundance of the water, and the freeness of the Gospel.

5:75-98 But, the next inquiry that naturally arises is, Who are invited, and called to come and partake of this water? Observe, that it is said,--"The Spirit and the bride say, Come." All that hear may come, all that desire may come, every one that is athirst may come. If you have any desire for salvation, come. You belong to the class invited. Whosoever will, let him come. All who are disposed to partake, let them come. This invitation is so comprehensive as to include all who are desirous of coming--all that are athirst: let them come, and "take of the water of life freely."

5:76-98 But I remark, Who are making it their business to call and invite persons to come? "The Spirit and the bride,"--the Holy Spirit and the church,--the bride in all her membership,--by her ministers, her deacons, her ordinances, her church-going bell, and by all the means she uses to attract the attention of mankind everywhere,--by the press and by personal intercourse, and in the use of every means for this purpose, giving out this invitation in every possible way. Here is the Spirit offering an ever-present invitation, and the bride, scattered in her members, saying, Come, come.

5:77-98 I next notice, Who are authorized to give the invitation, and even commanded to do it? "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come." Not merely the ministers of the church are to say, Come; but he that heareth, let him say, Come. All that hear are not only to drink, but also to say, Come. It is as if a great multitude were seeking water, all scattered abroad in the desert, divided into little parties, and each one busy trying to find water. By and bye, one discovers it. He cries, "Water! water! It is discovered! Come, come!" And as one after another they hear his voice, those that are nearest cry to those at a distance, "Here is water! water! And so the cry passes on and on, until the multitude hear the invitation, "Come, come!" and so the circle increases. As far as this circle extends, they give the information, "Water! water! water!" It rises and swells, and thousands of voices are raised. It is like the sound of many waters. All around the shout is taken up, it increases and melts together, and, like the roaring of the waves, it rises still louder,--"Water! water! water! Come! come! come!" At length it rises from the vast plain, and the multitude collect to the place, where the sound first began, and where the water was discovered. This seems to be the figure. Every one that hears is to say, Come!--to speak to every body--to cry to all the famishing souls. So urgent is this invitation,--so urgent is the gospel,--every one that hears it is to say, Come!--to give the notice, and cry to all around, Come! It would seem as if at the time anticipated by revelation, that, as soon as men heard of the gospel plan of salvation, they should make it known to others and all universally cry out, and the cry increase more and more. You hear the sound, and send it on, and those men catch it, and on it goes, and on, until it swells, and roars like the mighty waves of the sea, all around. It would seem as if this was the way that the gospel should be published, and the gospel treated, and this text enjoins it.

5:78-98 But, I notice, in the next place, the form of the invitation. Something has to be done. You are not to sit there passively, for, unless you come, you cannot partake. If a fountain were opened in the desert, and on being told, you said you believe it, but did not come to drink, you could not be refreshed. This does not mean a local coming, or a change of geographical position; but it does mean that you actually, inwardly partake of this water. It is something for you to take and appropriate, not only as water lying on the surface, but as underlying the whole gospel--a fountain continually springing up, and of which you can always avail yourself. Moreover, there must be an increased taking. "Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." It is to be taken freely. Something more than a mere hearing, and an intellectual assent is required; there must be a coming, a taking, and appropriating. Every man must drink for himself. Faith, then, is an act--a coming--a drinking--a taking and partaking.

5:79-98 But, whosoever will, let him come, and partake of the waters of life freely--that is, without pay. I suppose that is the leading idea. The gospel of salvation is free and gratuitous; not to be purchased with money, nor with good works. It is to be had "without money, and without price." "Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price."

5:80-98 But, again, you are not only to take it freely in the sense of without pay, but without pretending to make any satisfaction, or giving any equivalent for it. To take it freely, also, in the sense of plentifully, and bountifully. The more you take the better!--drink! drink again! He says: "Drink! yea, drink abundantly, O beloved!" The fact is, you need not be afraid of drinking too much; this water will not hurt you, if you take it quite largely. I know it is stimulating, and very exciting, if only it has been drunk of freely, but it is a very harmless stimulant. Some who drunk thus largely of it, were accused of being drunken with new wine; but no matter for that, they were not drunk, but, instead, were filled with the Spirit.

5:81-98 "It shall be in him a well of water, springing up to eternal life." Boiling up like a fountain, is the idea. Whenever we are disposed to drink of Christ's Spirit, it will boil up, refreshing and strengthening us. It is curious to see how the water of life, which Christ has given, continues to flow. It is there still; it is low--not a flood-tide, but it is there, flowing, flowing; and now there will come a swelling, and bursting stream, and it springs up a well of water unto everlasting life.

5:82-98 But again, I enquire, what is implied in the invitation itself? It is placed in the Bible, and just at the close--at the close of inspiration. It assumes, therefore, all that has gone before; the salvation of Christ is assumed, and we are invited to come and partake freely. Would you not suppose, that if God is honest, and fair minded, we are able to come? Now, suppose anybody should sit down, and say, after reading this text, that they have no power to come. What? Does God offer it to tantalize us? I have heard of an emperor who wrote a law upon a post, but placed it so high, that his people could not read it, and then held them responsible for obeying it. That was the perfection of a tyrant, was it not? But what can God mean by making the conditions of salvation, such as they cannot be complied with? Has He laid upon men this responsibility telling them that they will find how guilty they have been, if they do not obey, and in what danger they are, if they do not partake of it, and yet, all the while, they cannot do so? What? I used to ask a minister, who used to hold to this "cannot" idea, --"Don't you suppose," I said, "when people find themselves in hell, that they will blame themselves for neglecting the gospel, and say it was their own fault?" "Yes," he would answer, "the Bible says so." "Will not the condemned in hell see what a wretched mistake they have made, in not receiving the gospel?" "Yes." "And yet you hold that they can't, and resolve the whole question into the sovereignty of God. Now," said I, "is that the gospel plan that they should be lost? At the close of the gospel we are told, Here is water, come, come, but you say we cannot come." Who believes it? The fact is, nobody believes it; it is only one of those foils that men use for shielding themselves from the pressure of moral obligation. Nobody can believe, that God is capable of offering such an invitation to those who are not able to comply with it. Nobody believes that they are unable, but only unwilling.

5:83-98 But, again, it is very plain that whatever help they need, must be within their reach. Whatever may be necessary to enable them to comply with the invitation, it is something at hand, and of which they can avail themselves. Indeed, such an invitation as this may be regarded as a promise of all needed help. All the commandments may be regarded as a promise of all needed help. If God has said:--"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength," see, there stands over against it:--"I will circumcise thy seed to love the Lord with all their heart and soul."

5:84-98 But again, from this text let us learn the earnestness there is, in the manner in which God exhorts sinners to accept His gospel. If in this day, the people in this city should go in this spirit, and invite people to come in this way, what a tremendous multitude it would create; and if everybody else should do the same, and those who had been led to come to Christ should themselves begin to invite others to come, how it would spread and go, like the waves, over this great city. What great earnestness there is in this invitation of God's in the text.

5:85-98 But again, it also represents what Christians do. I am not now talking about Christian professors--dumb professors--who don't speak a word for Christ, but of real Christians. Not only they may, or ought, but they do. You may come, and bring all your friends with you,--there is enough for all. It is so full and free, and so much of it, that you need not lose your own soul. Bring your own children, your neighbours, your neighbour's children--bring all who will come. No matter what they have been. You and they may all take of the water of life freely.

5:86-98 A few remarks,--

5:87-98 First, it is very cruel to keep silence on such a subject. How cruel it is for people to suppose that every body knows of this. How cruel it would be, if we were all wandering and scattered over the desert, and some were perishing and burning up for want of water, if some one should find a clear spring, and say nothing about it. Would he not be guilty of the blood of those who perished from his neglect? Why, of course he would; but how much greater a crime it is to act in this way in reference to the water of life. Souls are perishing for want of this water, and yet people don't open their mouths. Perhaps you think that modesty forbids, especially in the case of women. Suppose a fountain should be found, and opened in the desert, would it be an impropriety for women to cry out, Water! water! water! I tell you they would cry out. It is cruel to keep silence, and allow them to perish. All persons ought to cry out with all earnestness. I don't wonder that people who are invited in a cold manner, don't believe it. Suppose you were wandering in a place where water was wanted, and were told it had been found, and cried out the news, yet never went, but busied yourself about something else, who would believe you? The fact is, people need to see that you are coming yourselves, and that you have tasted and drunk freely of it. Many hear, but pay little attention to it, because they are not thirsty--they do not care anything about it--they are not aware of their need. Some are blind, as you know is sometimes the case with travellers, from the reflection of the sun in travelling across the burning sand. As you are aware, in going from Egypt to Judea, they often become so blind from ophthalmia, that they require a guide to lead them. We read in Scripture that persons need some to instruct them, they get so spiritually blind. They want some body to lead them, to instruct them, to guide them. My hearer, how often have you sat down patiently with a sinner, who did not come to the fountain, and try to make him understand it? Are you in the habit of doing this--trying to lead and guide to this water of life--or are you neglecting it? Others, again, become faint and discouraged from being misdirected. I find a great many people settle down by trying to pray to God to convert them--praying and waiting for Him to do what He has told them to do. They are waiting for God to do it! Here is a man praying for God to give him a new heart, and thinking he is sincere; as if, with his corrupt heart, he could ask God acceptably. But he does not really want a new heart. A soon as he wants one, he will have it. To act in this way is to get discouraged. A man once told me that he had done all he could to secure his conversion. "What have you done?" "I prayed for a new heart--prayed for the Holy Spirit." "Why don't you take hold of Christ? He has been striving with you all the time. 'Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost.'" He said he had not resisted. I asked him, "Have you always acted up to your convictions?" "No." "When He said, 'Give up your sins,' did you obey Him?" "No." The fact is, persons are wearying themselves by trying to get salvation in this way. They do not succeed. Just as when one puts his foot forward to walk in the sand, it seems to slide away, and he does not seem to get on, so you do not progress, because you are waiting for God to do for you what He cannot--He cannot believe for you. He is trying to persuade you to believe. He cannot come for you, nor can He bring you. There must be the exercise of your own thought. He is trying to draw you, and encouraging you to come. You have got discouraged. Oh! how much such persons need some one to help them to get over this difficulty. Some are bewildered because people are going in different directions. We can readily suppose, that when people set up Christ in different directions, it would puzzle and discourage. Suppose, when the water is discovered, some should cry, "Here is water!--Come! come!" and others should call out, in another and opposite quarter, "the water is here;" and the people should be coming, some one way and some another, you would say, "What does it mean? O! they have got into confusion,--there is no knowing which is the right way--it is of no use going." We can all see that this is a great disadvantage, and does great mischief; but what is this to the evil of contradictory directions to awakened sinners? To be sure sinners often think there is more difference amongst Christians than there really is, but they see that there are contrary and diverse instructions given.

5:88-98 But, let me say, further, that you are every one invited to drink. You need not hesitate to drink, because you think you are not invited. You need not stand there, and say, "Is it for me? I am so thirsty, to be sure, but is it for me? Am I one of the elect?" Why hesitate? Take it, take it freely. You need not stop to decide whether you are one of the elect or not, or if it is for you. It is for you, if you thirst. Surely it is. There is plenty of it. There is no need to restrict it to the elect. There is nothing here about any restriction. You need not fear to invite all around you to partake, lest they are not the elect. "Whosoever will, let him come, and take of the water of life freely." Who? Why everybody, to be sure. You need not hesitate, and stumble.

5:89-98 But again, this passage of Scripture, stripped of its figure, just presents Christ, with all that belongs to His salvation, freely, to every soul that will come, and that is willing to have it. It can mean nothing else. By the bye, figurative language is the most certain of all language. Some people, when they find a passage figurative, think it does not mean anything. But, the fact is, that figurative language is the most certain of all, for this reason, that words change their meaning, but figures do not. Figures are very striking. While we use words in different senses, we always use figures in the same. This figure signifies, then, that the salvation by Christ is open to all men, everywhere--that they may take it largely, freely, and cordially, and without making any preparation. Take it now; take as much as you please. Suppose that you have drunk before, drink again, and don't be afraid to take large draughts, and so much as to quench your thirst.

5:90-98 But again, will you die with this water just flowing at your feet? Will you continue to thirst with this water flowing at your feet? Well, those of you who live in a gospel land will, if you do perish, perish in just such circumstances. You are like persons standing on the bank of a river, and dying of thirst. Some are so proud, that they will not even condescend to kneel, and put their mouth to the water. It is astonishing to see how persons are changed who do drink--how the spiritual blindness passes off, and what a marvellous fulness they have when they drink freely.

5:91-98 Some years ago, there was a young man at our college, a Scotchman, of the name of M'Culloch. He came over to this country, and was afterwards engaged as a missionary in central America. He has, however, been dead some time. Before he left the college he preached a sermon; and, in the course of his preaching, he told his religious experience. He said he did not better know how to illustrate the fulness of the gospel, than by relating a fact that occurred in his own experience. One day, when a boy, in Scotland, he started, in company with other boys, to the neighbourhood of a hill, for a few hours' fishing. After going some distance they all became very thirsty, and so fatigued, that they had scarcely strength to proceed. They stopped, and said, what shall we do now? Shall we separate and search for water? They agreed to do so. This boy went on for a time, but the ground seemed all hot and dry sand. At last, he came to a place where there was a little moisture, and he scraped out the sand with his hands. Water began to flow, but it was muddy. He continued to examine, and found that it was obstructed in its flow; he put his finger into the place, and scooped it out, and immediately it overflowed, clearing away all the muddy water. He called his friends, and they all partook of it and were revived. He told the story very beautifully, and then said, "It was just so when I found the water of life. My soul cried out for the living God. I was very thirsty and stricken in my mind. At last, all at once, I seemed to find some of the water of life. Some passage was given me, and I stooped down to drink; then it became a rill, and then a little stream, and then a brook, and then a river, and then, finally, it seemed to sweep me right away to the sea; I set my sail, and I have not seen the shore since, but am in the Pacific Ocean of God's boundless love." Everybody understood it, though so highly figurative. He was in the Pacific Ocean, surely; his sails were full, and he stood away from the shore. Some of you have, perhaps, seen him. I have met persons, since I came to this country, who had become acquainted with him. They said:--"What a man that was." Ah! he had drunk of this water. "He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." Drink largely. Lay hold upon the Mediator. Drink!

5:92-98 After prayer, the Doxology was sung, and some of the congregation retired, a large portion remaining to hear Mr. Finney's closing address to penitents, and others under religious concern.

5:93-98 ------------------o----------------

5:94-98 Mr. Finney said:--It is always a great trial for me to leave a field of labour, where persons have been congregated together, and many converted, and many others remain under conviction. But it is not common for me to leave people, just in the same state I leave you, and under the same circumstances. It is generally within my expectation, that I may return and preach to them again for some time; but the idea of leaving you, and parting without coming again, stamps upon me such sadness and weakness, that I am obliged to put it out of my thoughts, lest it should get too much hold upon my mind and nerves. What I want to say to the converts is this, that I have not yet seen anything organized for keeping together those, who have been impressed during these services. At least I have not heard of anything, though I have been expecting this. I don't think I have ever left a place without some attempt of this kind on the part of the ministers or people. In many places, where they have gone on, the work has gone forward, and continued, and increased. It is the same in Bolton, and Edinburg, and London, especially in Southwark, where the minister with whom I laboured, says, the work goes on and increases, and that not a week passes without conversions.

5:95-98 Now, I want this work to go on in this great city; but you are scattered, with no kind of organization to secure your union. I have had an idea of calling you together, with some of the earnest professors in the churches, but have had no opportunity hitherto. However, I hope this will be done. All the Christians connected with the various churches should watch over the young converts known to them. This will give them something to do, and the converts should feel they have consecrated themselves for life. And now the inquiry, is, How should the work continue, which you want to go on? First, by meeting in some place where you can pray together; and if only two or three of you meet to pray together, the work will be likely to spread. I have known many revivals commence and spread, with little circles of three or four meeting in a place for prayer.

5:96-98 The thing you must do is to report yourselves to the churches where you prefer to go, and where you can profit, and live up to your privileges, and seek to do good. The great object is to live to some purpose. I wish I could tell you of cases, where single persons have given themselves to such efforts and prosecution of the good work. Perhaps you have been told of a young lady, who was converted ten years ago at the Tabernacle, London. She has worked on since, steadily, so that she has now two hundred families, who formerly attended no place of worship. She has gone among them in Spitalfields, a place where there is much destitution and ignorance. These two hundred families she calls her parish, and though she works for her living, as soon as she can get money enough for a tea, she calls them together. About twenty of the men have been converted. This young woman has little bills and cards printed, to invite them to join the Temperance Society, to go to church, and to send their children to the Sunday School; by these means the men and women become sober, are induced to attend church, and so get converted. This is only one case. Make up your minds, young converts, that the world shall feel your influence. You may be poor, and have but little education, but your prayers have power. Don't think it is humility to say you cannot do anything, or to feel you cannot do anything. You can do something if you are as poor as Lazarus. You have a mighty arm to lean upon. Those of you who are the most obscure and ignorant, can do a great deal. "Where there is a will, there is a way." I often hear people say: "I have very little confidence in myself." I hope it is true. We have generally too much confidence in ourselves, and too little in Christ. Go forward, and go and do whatever He tells you to do. Don't say, I am but an individual. You are all related to somebody, and can use some influence. Build up right against your own place. Don't aspire to great things--to be a public preacher, and because you cannot secure this, do nothing. Let is be said of you, as it was of the woman commended by Christ:--"She hath done what she could";--this is enough for Christ. But, I will not say anything more to you, but leave you with God, and to our friends.

5:97-98 I want to say a few words to you who are still undecided--thirsty and perishing for the want of this water of life, and have not yet drunk of it. This is the last invitation I may have to give you. I stand before you as a minister of Christ to invite you now, and perhaps you will not hear my voice again, until I see you at the judgment. Let me not then have to say: "I recollect seeing you in the chapel at Manchester. What! did you turn away from Christ? you who stood right on the brink of the water of life, the last night I was there? What! did you go away and not partake of it? you cast off and lost! Lost, lost, lost!"

5:98-98 I expect, when I meet you all there, I shall meet some with glad hearts, and be glad to see you, and never be afraid to saying farewell again. O! do not lead a passive life, but be energetic, and still go forward. Can we not to-night all join in one united prayer to God, for those who are still undecided, and for those that do not believe, that they may come to Christ, and take Him at His word, and say, "Lord, I come! I have heard Thy invitation. Thou hast said:--'Look unto me all ye ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else.'" "Look to me,"--in the sense of depending upon Him. "Take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord."

 

 

 

Back to contents

6:1-90 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION Delivered by the Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY To the Congregation of the CHATHAM CHAPEL, New York City, 1835 And Reported to the Public in the New York Evangelist,

6:2-90 by the Editor, Rev. Joshua Leavitt

6:3-90 First Printed as a Separate Volume in 1835

6:4-90 A Revised Edition was Published in 1868

6:5-90 This is the text of the 1868 Edition

6:6-90 THE LECTURER'S 1835 PREFACE

6:7-90 How the Lectures came to be Published

6:8-90 How Widely they were Published

6:9-90 THE REPORTER'S 1835 ADVERTISEMENT

6:10-90 THE LECTURER'S 1868 PREFACE

6:11-90 Revisions Made

6:12-90 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION INDEX

6:13-90 The Text

6:14-90 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION

6:15-90 by

6:16-90 Charles G. Finney

6:17-90 THE LECTURER'S PREFACE of

6:18-90 1835

6:19-90 Let it be remembered, that these Lectures were delivered to my own congregation. They were entered upon, without my having previously marked out any plan or outline of them, and have been pursued, from week to week, as one subject naturally introduced another, and as, from one lecture to another, I saw the state of our people seemed to require. I consented to have the Editor of the Evangelist report them, upon his own responsibility, because he thought that it might excite a deeper interest in, and extend the usefulness of, his paper. And as I am now a Pastor, and have not sufficient health to labor as an Evangelist, and as it has pleased the Head of the Church to give me some experience in revivals of religion, I thought it possible that, while I was doing the work of a Pastor in my own church, I might, in this way, be of some little service to the churches abroad.

6:20-90 I found a particular inducement to this course, in the fact that on my return from the Mediterranean, I learned, with pain, that the spirit of revival had greatly declined in the United States, and that a spirit of jangling and controversy alarmingly prevailed.

6:21-90 The peculiar circumstances of the church, and the state of revivals, was such, as unavoidably to lead me to the discussion of some points that I would gladly have avoided, had the omission been consistent with my main design, to reach and arouse the church, when she was fast settling down upon her lees.

6:22-90 I am far from setting up the claim of infallibility upon this or any other subject. I have given my own views, so far as I have gone, without pretending to have exhausted the subject, or to have spoken in the best possible manner upon the points I have discussed.

6:23-90 I am too well acquainted with the state of the church, and especially with the state of some of its ministers, to expect to escape without censure. I have felt obliged to say some things that I fear will not, in all instances, be received as kindly as they were intended. But whatever may be the result of saying the truth as it respects some, I have reason to believe, that the great body of praying people will receive and be benefited by what I have said.

6:24-90 What I have said upon the subject of prayer, will not, I am well aware, be understood and received by a certain portion of the church and all I can say is, "He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear."

6:25-90 I had not the most distant idea until recently, that these Lectures, in this, or any other form, would ever grow into a book: but the urgent call for their publication, in a volume, and the fact that I have had repeated assurances that the reading of them in the Evangelist, has been owned and blessed, to the quickening of individuals and churches, and has resulted in the conversion of many sinners, have led me to consent to their publication in this imperfect form.

6:26-90 The Reporter has succeeded, in general, in giving an outline of the Lectures, as they were delivered. His report, however, would, in general, make no more than a full skeleton of what was said on the subject at the time. In justice to the Reporter, I would say, that on reading his reports, in his paper, although there were some mistakes and misapprehensions, yet I have been surprised that, without stenography, he could so nearly report my meaning.

6:27-90 As for literary merit, they have none; nor do they lay claim to any. It was no part of my design to deliver elegant Lectures. They were my most familiar Friday evening discourses; and my great, and I may add my only object, was to have them understood and felt.

6:28-90 In correcting the Lectures for a volume, I have not had time, nor was it thought advisable to remodel them, and change the style in which they had been reported. I have, in some few instances, changed the phraseology, when a thought had been very awkwardly expressed, or when the true idea had not been given. But I have, in nearly every instance, left the sentences as they were reported when the thought was perspicuously expressed, although the style might have been improved by emendation. They were the editor's reports, and as such they must go before the public, with such little additions and alterations, as I have had time to make. Could I have written them out in full, I doubt not but they might have been more acceptable to many readers. But this was impossible, and the only alternative was, to let the public have them as they are, or refuse to let them go out in the form of a volume at all. I am sorry they are not better Lectures, and in a more attracting form; but I have done what I could under the circumstances; and, as it is the wish of many whom I love, and delight to please and honor, to have them, although in this imperfect form, they must have them.

6:29-90 C. G. FINNEY.

6:30-90 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION Delivered by the Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY

6:31-90 ADVERTISEMENT BY THE REPORTER

6:32-90 THE work of reporting these Lectures was undertaken for the purpose of increasing the interest and usefulness of the New York Evangelist. The Reporter is wholly unacquainted with short-hand, and has, therefore, only aimed to give a sketch of the leading thoughts of the discourse. It is hardly necessary to mention that Mr. Finney never writes his sermons, but guides his course of argument by a skeleton, or brief, carefully prepared, and so compact, that it can be written on one side of a card, about half as large as one of these printed pages. His manner is direct, and his language colloquial and Saxon, and his illustrations are drawn from the commonest incidents and maxims of life. The Reporter has aimed to preserve, as much as he could, the style of the speaker, and is thought to have been in some degree successful. If, in any cases, by letting his language run in a colloquial strain, he has made the copy more simple and homely than the original, he hopes to be pardoned easily for a fault by no means prevalent.

6:33-90 If any one should attempt to criticise the style of these Reports, he will assuredly lose his labor; for the only ambition of the Reporter has been, to make such a use of language as should fully convey the meaning, and fairly exhibit the manner, of the Lecturer. When words have done this, they have done their great work. The notes were taken with a pencil, and transcribed in great haste, and sent to the printer without revision. In preparing them for publication, in this form, Mr. Finney has reviewed them with reference only to this point--the correct expression of the sentiment. The style of an off-hand sketch has been preserved, partly of choice, and partly from necessity. There was no time to remodel the work, and the public voice seemed to be, that it was more attractive and more useful in its present condensed form. Mr. Finney has, therefore, done little more than to amend where the Reporter misapprehended the meaning, or did not express it with sufficient distinctness. He has enlarged in a few places where the illustrations, as given by the Reporter, seemed to be incomplete.

6:34-90 My labor with these sketches is now done; and its results are sent forth in this permanent form, with the prayer, that God would employ the book, as he has already done the newspaper edition, to rouse, and teach, and strengthen his people, and to guide, unite, and encourage zealous Christians of all classes, in the great duty of saving sinners.

6:35-90 J. L. [Rev. Joshua Leavett]

6:36-90 New-York, April, 1835.

6:37-90 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION

6:38-90 Delivered by the Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY THE LECTURER'S PREFACE of

6:39-90 1868

6:40-90 By perusing the above Preface, the reader will get a clue to the time and circumstance that led to the delivery and publication of these Lectures. In revising them for a new edition, I have done little more than correct the phraseology in a few instances, add a few foot-notes, and replace the last two Lectures by newly-written ones on the same texts and prepared especially for this edition. These lectures are distinct from the course I deliver to my theological class upon the same subject. That course I may publish before my death. These Lectures have been translated in the Welsh and French languages, and have been very extensively circulated wherever the English or either of those languages is understood. One house in London published 80,000 copies In English. They are still in type and in market in Europe, and I have the great satisfaction of knowing that they have been made a great blessing to thousands of souls. Consequently, I have not thought it wise to recast them for the sake of giving them a more attractive form. God has owned and blessed the reading of them as they have been, and with the exceptions above noticed, I have given them to the present and coming generations. If the reader will peruse and remember the foregoing preface, he will understand what I said of the church and some of the ministers, and why I said it. I beseech my brethren not to take amiss what I have said, but rather to be assured that every sentence has been spoken in love, and often with a sorrowful heart. May God continue to add His blessing to the reading of these Lectures. THE AUTHOR

6:41-90 Oberlin College, Oct. 22, 1868.

6:42-90 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION

6:43-90 Delivered by the Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY To the Congregation of the CHATHAM CHAPEL New York City, 1835

6:44-90 And Reported to the Public in the New York Evangelist

6:45-90 by the Editor, J. Leavitt

6:46-90 This is the text of the 1868 Edition

6:47-90 LECTURE I. - WHAT A REVIVAL OF RELIGION IS.

6:48-90 What a revival of religion is not - What it is - The agencies employed in promoting it.

6:49-90 LECTURE II. - WHEN A REVIVAL IS TO BE EXPECTED.

6:50-90 When a revival is needed - The importance of a revival when it is needed - When a revival of religion may be expected.

6:51-90 LECTURE III. - HOW TO PROMOTE A REVIVAL.

6:52-90 What it is to break up the fallow ground - How it is to be performed.

6:53-90 LECTURE IV. - PREVAILING PRAYER.

6:54-90 What is effectual or prevailing prayer - Some of the most essential attributes of prevailing prayer - Some reasons why God requires this kind of prayer - That such prayer will avail much.

6:55-90 LECTURE V. - THE PRAYER OF FAITH.

6:56-90 Faith an indispensable condition of prevailing prayer - What it is we are to believe when we pray - When we are bound to exercise this faith - This kind of faith in prayer always obtains the blessing sought - How we are to come into the state of mind in which we can exercise such faith - Objections answered.

6:57-90 LECTURE VI. - THE SPIRIT OF PRAYER.

6:58-90 What Spirit is spoken of in the passage: "The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities" - What that Spirit does for us - Why He does what the text declares Him to do - How He accomplishes it - The degrees of His influences - How His influences are to be distinguished from the influences of evil spirits - Who have a right to expect His influences.

6:59-90 LECTURE VII. - ON BEING FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT.

6:60-90 Individuals may have the Spirit of God - It is their duty to be filled with the Spirit - Why the Spirit is not obtained - The guilt of those who have not the Spirit of God - The consequences of having the Spirit. - The consequences that will follow not having the Spirit.

6:61-90 LECTURE VIII. - MEETINGS FOR PRAYER.

6:62-90 The design of prayer meetings - The manner of conducting them - Several things that will defeat the design of holding them.

6:63-90 LECTURE IX. - MEANS TO BE USED WITH SINNERS.

6:64-90 On what particular points Christians are to testify for God - The manner in which they are to testify.

6:65-90 LECTURE X. - TO WIN SOULS REQUIRES WISDOM.

6:66-90 How Christians should deal with careless sinners - How they should deal with awakened sinners, and with convicted sinners.

6:67-90 LECTURE XI. - A WISE MINISTER WILL BE SUCCESSFUL

6:68-90 A right discharge of the duties of a minister requires great wisdom - The amount of success in the discharge of his duties (other things being equal) decides the amount of wisdom employed by him.

6:69-90 LECTURE XII. - HOW TO PREACH THE GOSPEL.

6:70-90 Several passages of Scripture ascribe conversion to man - This is consistent with other passages which ascribe conversion to God - Several important particulars in regard to preaching the Gospel.

6:71-90 LECTURE XIII. - HOW CHURCHES CAN HELP MINISTERS.

6:72-90 The importance of the cooperation of the Church in producing and carrying on a revival - Several things which Churches must do, if they would promote a revival and aid their ministers.

6:73-90 LECTURE XIV. - MEASURES TO PROMOTE REVIVALS.

6:74-90 God has established no particular system of measures to be employed - Our present forms of public worship have been arrived at by a succession of new measures.

6:75-90 LECTURE XV. - HINDRANCES TO REVIVALS.

6:76-90 A revival of religion is a great work - Several things which may put a stop to it - What must be done for the continuance of a revival.

6:77-90 LECTURE XVI. - THE NECESSITY AND EFFECT OF UNION.

6:78-90 We are to be agreed in prayer - We are likewise to be agreed in everything that is essential to the blessing we seek.

6:79-90 LECTURE XVII. - FALSE COMFORTS FOR SINNERS.

6:80-90 The necessity and design of instructing anxious sinners - Anxious sinners are always seeking comfort - The false comforts that are often administered.

6:81-90 LECTURE XVIII. - DIRECTIONS TO SINNERS.

6:82-90 What is a proper direction to be given to sinners when they make inquiry for salvation - What is a proper answer to such inquiry - Several errors into which anxious sinners are apt to fall.

6:83-90 LECTURE XIX. - INSTRUCTIONS TO CONVERTS.

6:84-90 Several things to be considered in regard to the hopes of young converts - Several things respecting their making a profession of religion - The importance of having correct instruction given to young converts - What should not be taught - What things are necessary to be taught.

6:85-90 LECTURE XX. - INSTRUCTIONS TO CONVERTS (continued).

6:86-90 Other points on which young converts ought to be instructed - How young converts should be treated by the Church - Some of the evils resulting from defective instruction in the first stages of Christian experience.

6:87-90 LECTURE XXI. - THE BACKSLIDER IN HEART.

6:88-90 What backsliding in heart is not - What it is - What are its evidences - What are its consequences - How to recover from such a state.

6:89-90 LECTURE XXII. - GROWTH IN GRACE.

6:90-90 What grace is - What the injunction to "grow in grace" does not mean - What it does mean - Conditions of growth in grace - What is not proof of growth - What is proof - How to grow in grace.

 

 

 

Back to contents

7:1-48 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION by The Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY LECTURE I WHAT A REVIVAL OF RELIGION IS

7:2-48 TEXT. -- O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. --HAB. iii. 2. IT is supposed that the prophet Habakkuk was contemporary with Jeremiah, and that this prophecy was uttered in anticipation of the Babylonish captivity. Looking at the judgments which were speedily to come upon his nation, the soul of the prophet was wrought up to an agony, and he cries out in his distress, "O Lord, revive thy work." As if he had said, "O Lord, grant that thy judgments may not make Israel desolate. In the midst of these awful years, let the judgments of God be made the means of reviving religion among us. In wrath remember mercy."

7:3-48 Religion is the work of man. It is something for man to do. It consists in obeying God with and from the heart. It is man's duty. It is true, God induces him to do it. He influences him by his Spirit, because of his great wickedness and reluctance to obey. If it were not necessary for God to influence men--if men were disposed to obey God, there would be no occasion to pray, "O Lord, revive thy work." The ground of necessity for such a prayer is, that men are wholly indisposed to obey; and unless God interpose the influence of his Spirit, not a man on earth will ever obey the commands of God.

7:4-48 A "Revival of Religion" presupposes a declension. Almost all the religion in the world has been produced by revivals. God has found it necessary to take advantage of the excitability there is in mankind, to produce powerful excitements among them, before he can lead them to obey. Men are so spiritually sluggish, there are so many things to lead their minds off from religion, and to oppose the influence of the Gospel, that it is necessary to raise an excitement among them, till the tide rises so high as to sweep away the opposing obstacles. They must be so excited that they will break over these counteracting influences, before they will obey God. Not that excited feeling is religion, for it is not; but it is excited desire, appetite and feeling that prevents religion. The will is, in a sense, enslaved by the carnal and worldly desires. Hence it is necessary to awaken men to a sense of guilt and danger, and thus produce an excitement of counter feeling and desire which will break the power of carnal and worldly desire and leave the will free to obey God.

7:5-48 Look back at the history of the Jews, and you will see that God used to maintain religion among them by special occasions, when there would be a great excitement, and people would turn to the Lord. And after they had been thus revived, it would be but a short time before there would be so many counteracting influences brought to bear upon them, that religion would decline, and keep on declining, till God could have time--so to speak--to convict them of sin by his Spirit and rebuke them by his providence, and thus so gain the attention of the masses to the great subject of salvation, as to produce a widespread awakening of religious interest, and consequently a revival of religion. Then the counteracting causes would again operate, and religion would decline, and the nation would be swept away in the vortex of luxury, idolatry, and pride.

7:6-48 There is so little principle in the church, so little firmness and stability of purpose, that unless the religious feelings are awakened and kept excited, counter worldly feeling and excitement will prevail, and men will not obey God. They have so little knowledge, and their principles are so weak, that unless they are excited, they will go back from the path of duty, and do nothing to promote the glory of God. The state of the world is still such, and probably will be till the millennium is fully come, that religion must be mainly promoted by means of revivals. How long and how often has the experiment been tried, to bring the church to act steadily for God, without these periodical excitements. Many good men have supposed, and still suppose, that the best way to promote religion, is to go along uniformly, and gather in the ungodly gradually, and without excitement. But however sound such reasoning may appear in the abstract, facts demonstrate its futility. If the church were far enough advanced in knowledge, and had stability of principle enough to keep awake, such a course would do; but the church is so little enlightened, and there are so many counteracting causes, that she will not go steadily to work without a special interest being awakened. As the millennium advances, it is probable that these periodical excitements will be unknown. Then the church will be enlightened, and the counteracting causes removed, and the entire church will be in a state of habitual and steady obedience to God. The entire church will stand and take the infant mind, and cultivate it for God. Children will be trained up in the way they should go, and there will be no such torrents of worldliness, and fashion, and covetousness, to bear away the piety of the church, as soon as the excitement of a revival is withdrawn.

7:7-48 It is very desirable it should be so. It is very desirable that the church should go on steadily in a course of obedience without these excitements. Such excitements are liable to injure the health. Our nervous system is so strung that any powerful excitement, if long continued, injures our health and unfits us for duty. If religion is ever to have a pervading influence in the world, it cannot be so; this spasmodic religion must be done away. Then it will be uncalled for. Christians will not sleep the greater part of the time, and once in a while wake up, and rub their eyes, and bluster about, and vociferate a little while, and then go to sleep again. Then there will be no need that ministers should wear themselves out, and kill themselves, by their efforts to roll back the flood of worldly influence that sets in upon the church. But as yet the state of the Christian world is such, that to expect to promote religion without excitements is unphilosophical and absurd. The great political, and other worldly excitements that agitate Christendom, are all unfriendly to religion, and divert the mind from the interests of the soul. Now these excitements can only be counteracted by religious excitements. And until there is religious principle in the world to put down irreligious excitements, it is vain to try to promote religion, except by counteracting excitements. This is true in philosophy, and it is a historical fact.

7:8-48 It is altogether improbable that religion will ever make progress among heathen nations except through the influence of revivals. The attempt is now making to do it by education, and other cautious and gradual improvements. But so long as the laws of mind remain what they are, it cannot be done in this way. There must be excitement sufficient to wake up the dormant moral powers, and roll back the tide of degradation and sin. And precisely so far as our own land approximates to heathenism, it is impossible for God or man to promote religion in such a state of things but by powerful excitements. This is evident from the fact that this has always been the way in which God has done it. God does not create these excitements, and choose this method to promote religion for nothing or without reason. Where mankind are so reluctant to obey God, they will not act until they are excited. For instance, how many there are who know that they ought to be religious, but they are afraid if they become pious they shall be laughed at by their companions. Many are wedded to idols, others are procrastinating repentance, until they are settled in life, or until they have secured some favorite worldly interest. Such persons never will give up their false shame, or relinquish their ambitious schemes, till they are so excited by a sense of guilt and danger that they cannot contain themselves any longer.

7:9-48 These remarks are designed only as an introduction to the discourse. I shall now proceed with the main design, to show,

7:10-48 I. What a revival of religion is not;

7:11-48 II. What it is; and,

7:12-48 III. The agencies employed in promoting it.

7:13-48 I. A REVIVAL OF RELIGION IS NOT A MIRACLE. 1. A miracle has been generally defined to be, a Divine interference, setting aside or suspending the laws of nature. It is not a miracle in this sense. All the laws of matter and mind remain in force. They are neither suspended nor set aside in a revival.

7:14-48 2. It is not a miracle according to another definition of the term miracle--something above the powers of nature. There is nothing in religion beyond the ordinary powers of nature. It consists entirely in the right exercise of the powers of nature. It is just that, and nothing else. When mankind become religious, they are not enabled to put forth exertions which they were unable before to put forth. They only exert the powers they had before in a different way, and use them for the glory of God.

7:15-48 3. It is not a miracle, or dependent on a miracle, in any sense. It is a purely philosophical result of the right use of the constituted means--as much so as any other effect produced by the application of means. There may be a miracle among its antecedent causes, or there may not. The apostles employed miracles, simply as a means by which they arrested attention to their message, and established its divine authority. But the miracle was not the revival. The miracle was one thing; the revival that followed it was quite another thing. The revivals in the apostles' days were connected with miracles, but they were not miracles.

7:16-48 I said that a revival is the result of the right use of the appropriate means. The means which God has enjoined for the production of a revival, doubtless have a natural tendency to produce a revival. Otherwise God would not have enjoined them. But means will not produce a revival, we all know, without the blessing of God. No more will grain, when it is sowed, produce a crop without the blessing of God. It is impossible for us to say that there is not as direct an influence or agency from God, to produce a crop of grain, as there is to produce a revival. What are the laws of nature according to which it is supposed that grain yields a crop? They are nothing but the constituted manner of the operations of God. In the Bible, the word of God is compared to grain, and preaching is compared to sowing seed, and the results to the springing up and growth of the crop. And the result is just as philosophical in the one case, as in the other, and is as naturally connected with the cause; or, more correctly, a revival is as naturally a result of the use of the appropriate means as a crop is of the use of its appropriate means. It is true that religion does not properly belong to the category of cause and effect; but although it is not caused by means, yet it has its occasion, and may as naturally and certainly result from its occasion as a crop does from its cause.

7:17-48 I wish this idea to be impressed on all your minds, for there has long been an idea prevalent that promoting religion has something very peculiar in it, not to be judged of by the ordinary rules of cause and effect; in short, that there is no connection of the means with the result, and no tendency in the means to produce the effect. No doctrine is more dangerous than this to the prosperity of the church, and nothing more absurd.

7:18-48 Suppose a man were to go and preach this doctrine among farmers, about their sowing grain. Let him tell them that God is a sovereign, and will give them a crop only when it pleases him, and that for them to plow and plant and labor as if they expected to raise a crop is very wrong, and taking the work out of the hands of God, that it interferes with his sovereignty, and is going on in their own strength: and that there is no connection between the means and the result on which they can depend. And now, suppose the farmers should believe such doctrine. Why, they would starve the world to death.

7:19-48 Just such results will follow from the church's being persuaded that promoting religion is somehow so mysteriously a subject of Divine sovereignty, that there is no natural connection between the means and the end. What are the results? Why, generation after generation has gone down to hell. No doubt more than five thousand millions have gone down to hell, while the church has been dreaming, and waiting for God to save them without the use of means. It has been the devil's most successful means of destroying souls. The connection is as clear in religion as it is when the farmer sows his grain.

7:20-48 There is one fact under the government of God, worthy of universal notice, and of everlasting remembrance; which is, that the most useful and important things are most easily and certainly obtained by the use of the appropriate means. This is evidently a principle in the Divine administration. Hence, all the necessaries of life are obtained with great certainty by the use of the simplest means. The luxuries are more difficult to obtain; the means to procure them are more intricate and less certain in their results; while things absolutely hurtful and poisonous, such as alcohol and the like, are often obtained only by torturing nature, and making use of a kind of infernal sorcery to procure the death-dealing abomination. This principle holds true in moral government, and as spiritual blessings are of surpassing importance, we should expect their attainment to be connected with great certainty with the use of the appropriate means; and such we find to be the fact; and I fully believe that could facts be known, it would be found that when the appointed means have been rightly used, spiritual blessings have been obtained with greater uniformity than temporal ones.

7:21-48 II. I AM TO SHOW WHAT A REVIVAL IS. It is the renewal of the first love of Christians, resulting in the awakening and conversion of sinners to God. In the popular sense, a revival of religion in a community is the arousing, quickening, and reclaiming of the more or less backslidden church and the more or less general awakening of all classes, and insuring attention to the claims of God.

7:22-48 It presupposes that the church is sunk down in a backslidden state, and a revival consists in the return of a church from her backslidings, and in the conversion of sinners.

7:23-48 I. A revival always includes conviction of sin on the part of the church. Backslidden professors cannot wake up and begin right away in the service of God, without deep searchings of heart. The fountains of sin need to be broken up. In a true revival, Christians are always brought under such convictions; they see their sins in such a light, that often they find it impossible to maintain a hope of their acceptance with God. It does not always go to that extent; but there are always, in a genuine revival, deep convictions of sin, and often cases of abandoning all hope.

7:24-48 2. Backslidden Christians will be brought to repentance. A revival is nothing else than a new beginning of obedience to God. Just as in the case of a converted sinner, the first step is a deep repentance, a breaking down of heart, a getting down into the dust before God, with deep humility, and forsaking of sin.

7:25-48 3. Christians will have their faith renewed. While they are in their backslidden state they are blind to the state of sinners. Their hearts are as hard as marble. The truths of the Bible only appear like a dream. They admit it to be all true; their conscience and their judgment assent to it; but their faith does not see it standing out in bold relief, in all the burning realities of eternity. But when they enter into a revival, they no longer see men as trees walking, but they see things in that strong light which will renew the love of God in their hearts. This will lead them to labor zealously to bring others to him. They will feel grieved that others do not love God, when they love him so much. And they will set themselves feelingly to persuade their neighbors to give him their hearts. So their love to men will be renewed. They will be filled with a tender and burning love for souls. They will have a longing desire for the salvation of the whole world. They will be in an agony for individuals whom they want to have saved--their friends, relations, enemies. They will not only be urging them to give their hearts to God, but they will carry them to God in the arms of faith, and with strong crying and tears beseech God to have mercy on them, and save their souls from endless burnings.

7:26-48 4. A revival breaks the power of the world and of sin over Christians. It brings them to such vantage ground that they get a fresh impulse towards heaven. They have a new foretaste of heaven, and new desires after union with God; and the charm of the world is broken, and the power of sin overcome.

7:27-48 5. When the churches are thus awakened and reformed, the reformation and salvation of sinners will follow, going through the same stages of conviction, repentance, and reformation. Their hearts will be broken down and changed. Very often the most abandoned profligates are among the subjects. Harlots, and drunkards, and infidels, and all sorts of abandoned characters, are awakened and converted. The worst among human beings are softened, and reclaimed, and made to appear as lovely specimens of the beauty of holiness.

7:28-48 III. I AM TO CONSIDER THE AGENCIES EMPLOYED IN CARRYING FORWARD A REVIVAL OF RELIGION. Ordinarily, there are three agents employed in the work of conversion, and one instrument. The agents are God,--some person who brings the truth to bear on the mind,--and the sinner himself. The instrument is the truth. There are always two agents, God and the sinner, employed and active in every case of genuine conversion.

7:29-48 1. The agency of God is two-fold; by his Providence and by his Spirit.

7:30-48 (1.) By his providential government, he so arranges events as to bring the sinner's mind and the truth in contact. He brings the sinner where the truth reaches his ears or his eyes. It is often interesting to trace the manner in which God arranges events so as to bring this about, and how he sometimes makes every thing seem to favor a revival. The state of the weather, and of the public health, and other circumstances concur to make every thing just right to favor the application of truth with the greatest possible efficacy. How he sometimes sends a minister along, just at the time he is wanted! How he brings out a particular truth, just at the particular time when the individual it is fitted to reach is in the way to hear!

7:31-48 (2.) God's special agency by his Holy Spirit. Having direct access to the mind, and knowing infinitely well the whole history and state of each individual sinner, he employs that truth which is best adapted to his particular case, and then sets it home with Divine power. He gives it such vividness, strength, and power, that the sinner quails, and throws down his weapons of rebellion, and turns to the Lord. Under his influence, the truth burns and cuts its way like fire. He makes the truth stand out in such aspects, that it crushes the proudest man down with the weight of a mountain. If men were disposed to obey God, the truth is given with sufficient clearness in the Bible; and from preaching they could learn all that is necessary for them to know. But because they are wholly disinclined to obey it, God clears it up before their minds, and pours in a blaze of convincing light upon their souls, which they cannot withstand, and they yield to it, and obey God, and are saved.

7:32-48 2. The agency of men is commonly employed. Men are not mere instruments in the hands of God. Truth is the instrument. The preacher is a moral agent in the work; he acts; he is not a mere passive instrument; he is voluntary in promoting the conversion of sinners.

7:33-48 3. The agency of the sinner himself. The conversion of a sinner consists in his obeying the truth. It is therefore impossible it should take place without his agency, for it consists in his acting right. He is influenced to this by the agency of God, and by the agency of men. Men act on their fellow-men, not only by language, but by their looks, their tears, their daily deportment. See that impenitent man there, who has a pious wife. Her very looks, her tenderness, her solemn, compassionate dignity, softened and moulded into the image of Christ are a sermon to him all the time. He has to turn his mind away, because it is such a reproach to him. He feels a sermon ringing in his ears all day long.

7:34-48 Mankind are accustomed to read the countenances of their neighbors. Sinners often read the state of a Christian's mind in his eyes. If his eyes are full of levity, or worldly anxiety and contrivance, sinners read it. If they are full of the Spirit of God, sinners read it; and they are often led to conviction by barely seeing the countenance of Christians.

7:35-48 An individual once went into a manufactory to see the machinery. His mind was solemn, as he had been where there was a revival. The people who labored there all knew him by sight, and knew who he was. A young lady who was at work saw him, and whispered some foolish remark to her companion, and laughed. The person stopped and looked at her with a feeling of grief. She stopped, her thread broke, and she was so much agitated she could not join it. She looked out at the window to compose herself, and then tried again; again and again she strove to recover her self-command. At length she sat down, overcome with her feelings. The person then approached and spoke with her; she soon manifested a deep sense of sin. The feeling spread through the establishment like fire, and in a few hours almost every person employed there was under conviction, so much so, that the owner, though a worldly man, was astounded, and requested to have the works stop and have a prayer meeting; for he said it was a great deal more important to have these people converted than to have the works go on. And in a few days, the owner and nearly every person employed in the establishment were hopefully converted. The eye of this individual, his solemn countenance, his compassionate feeling, rebuked the levity of the young woman, and brought her under conviction of sin: and this whole revival followed, probably in a great measure, from so small an incident.

7:36-48 If Christians have deep feeling on the subject of religion themselves, they will produce deep feeling wherever they go. And if they are cold, or light and trifling, they inevitably destroy all deep feeling, even in awakened sinners.

7:37-48 I knew a case, once, of an individual who was very anxious, but one day I was grieved to find that her convictions seemed to be all gone. I asked her what she had been doing. She told me she had been spending the afternoon at such a place, among some professors of religion, not thinking that it would dissipate her convictions to spend an afternoon with professors of religion. But they were trifling and vain, and thus her convictions were lost. And no doubt those professors of religion, by their folly, destroyed a soul, for her convictions did not return.

7:38-48 The church is required to use the means for the conversion of sinners. Sinners cannot properly be said to use the means for their own conversion. The church uses the means. What sinners do is to submit to the truth, or to resist it. It is a mistake of sinners, to think they are using means for their own conversion. The whole drift of a revival, and every thing about it, is designed to present the truth to your mind, for your obedience or resistance.

7:39-48 REMARKS. 1. Revivals were formerly regarded as miracles. And it has been so by some even in our day. And others have ideas on the subject so loose and unsatisfactory, that if they would only think, they would see their absurdity. For a long time, it was supposed by the church, that a revival was a miracle, an interposition of Divine power which they had nothing to do with, and which they had no more agency in producing, than they had in producing thunder, or a storm of hail, or an earthquake. It is only within a few years that ministers generally have supposed revivals were to be promoted, by the use of means designed and adapted specially to that object. Even in New England, it has been supposed that revivals came just as showers do, sometimes in one town, and sometimes in another, and that ministers and churches could do nothing more to produce them than they could to make showers of rain come on their own town, when they are falling on a neighboring town.

7:40-48 It used to be supposed that a revival would come about once in fifteen years, and all would be converted that God intended to save, and then they must wait until another crop came forward on the stage of life. Finally, the time got shortened down to five years, and they supposed there might be a revival about as often as that.

7:41-48 I have heard a fact in relation to one of these pastors, who supposed revivals might come about once in five years. There had been a revival in his congregation. The next year, there was a revival in a neighboring town, and he went there to preach, and staid several days, till he got his soul all engaged in the work. He returned home on Saturday, and went into his study to prepare for the Sabbath. And his soul was in an agony. He thought how many adult persons there were in his congregation at enmity with God--so many still unconverted--so many persons die yearly--such a portion of them unconverted--if a revival does not come under five years, so many adult heads of families will be in hell. He put down his calculations on paper, and embodied them in his sermon for the next day, with his heart bleeding at the dreadful picture. As I understood it, he did not do this with any expectation of a revival, but he felt deeply, and poured out his heart to his people. And that sermon awakened forty heads of families, and a powerful revival followed; and so his theory about a revival once in five years was all exploded.

7:42-48 Thus God has overthrown, generally, the theory that revivals are miracles.

7:43-48 2. Mistaken notions concerning the sovereignty of God have greatly hindered revivals.

7:44-48 Many people have supposed God's sovereignty to be some thing very different from what it is. They have supposed it to be such an arbitrary disposal of events, and particularly of the gift of his Spirit, as precluded a rational employment of means for promoting a revival of religion. But there is no evidence from the Bible that God exercises any such sovereignty as that. There are no facts to prove it. But every thing goes to show that God has connected means with the end through all the departments of his government--in nature and in grace. There is no natural event in which his own agency is not concerned. He has not built the creation like a vast machine that will go on alone without his further care. He has not retired from the universe, to let it work for itself. This is mere atheism. He exercises a universal superintendence and control. And yet every event in nature has been brought about by means. He neither administers providence nor grace with that sort of sovereignty that dispenses with the use of means. There is no more sovereignty in one than in the other.

7:45-48 And yet some people are terribly alarmed at all direct efforts to promote a revival, and they cry out, "You are trying to get up a revival in your own strength. Take care, you are interfering with the sovereignty of God. Better keep along in the usual course, and let God give a revival when he thinks it is best. God is a sovereign, and it is very wrong for you to attempt to get up a revival, just because you think a revival is needed." This is just such preaching as the devil wants. And men cannot do the devil's work more effectually than by preaching up the sovereignty of God, as a reason why we should not put forth efforts to produce a revival.

7:46-48 3. You see the error of those who are beginning to think that religion can be better promoted in the world without revivals, and who are disposed to give up all efforts to produce religious awakenings. Because there are evils arising in some instances out of great excitements on the subject of religion, they are of opinion that it is best to dispense with them altogether. This cannot, and must not be. True, there is danger of abuses. In cases of great religious as well as all other excitements, more or less incidental evils may be expected of course. But this is no reason why they should be given up. The best things are always liable to abuses. Great and manifold evils have originated in the providential and moral governments of God. But these foreseen perversions and evils were not considered a sufficient reason for giving them up. For the establishment of these governments was on the whole the best that could be done for the production of the greatest amount of happiness. So in revivals of religion, it is found by experience, that in the present state of the world, religion cannot be promoted to any considerable extent without them. The evils which are sometimes complained of, when they are real, are incidental, and of small importance when compared with the amount of good produced by revivals. The sentiment should not be admitted by the church for a moment, that revivals may be given up. It is fraught with all that is dangerous to the interests of Zion, is death to the cause of missions, and brings in its train the damnation of the world.

7:47-48 FINALLY. --I have a proposal to make to you who are here present. I have not commenced this course of Lectures on Revivals to get up a curious theory of my own on the subject. I would not spend my time and strength merely to give you instructions, to gratify your curiosity, and furnish you something to talk about. I have no idea of preaching about revivals. It is not my design to preach so as to have you able to say at the close, "We understand all about revivals now," while you do nothing. But I wish to ask you a question. What do you hear lectures on revivals for? Do you mean that whenever you are convinced what your duty is in promoting a revival, you will go to work and practise it?

7:48-48 Will you follow the instructions I shall give you from the word of God, and put them in practise in your own lives? Will you bring them to bear upon your families, your acquaintance, neighbors, and through the city? Or will you spend the winter in learning about revivals, and do nothing for them? I want you, as fast as you learn any thing on the subject of revivals, to put it in practice, and go to work and see if you cannot promote a revival among sinners here. If you will not do this, I wish you to let me know at the beginning, so that I need not waste my strength. You ought to decide now whether you will do this or not. You know that we call sinners to decide on the spot whether they will obey the Gospel. And we have no more authority to let you take time to deliberate whether you will obey God, than we have to let sinners do so. We call on you to unite now in a solemn pledge to God, that you will do your duty as fast as you learn what it is, and to pray that He will pour out his Spirit upon this church and upon all the city this winter.

 

 

 

Back to contents

8:1-41 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION by The Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY LECTURE II WHEN A REVIVAL IS TO BE EXPECTED

8:2-41 TEXT. --Wilt thou not revive us again; that thy people may rejoice in thee? --PSALM lxxxv. 6. THIS Psalm seems to have been written soon after the return of the people of Israel from the Babylonish captivity; as you will easily see from the language at the commencement of it. The Psalmist felt that God had been very favorable to the people, and while contemplating the goodness of the Lord in bringing them back from the land where they had been carried away captive, and while looking at the prospects before them, he breaks out into a prayer for a Revival of Religion. "Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee?" Since God in his providence had re-established the ordinances of his house among them, he prays that there may be also a revival of religion, to crown the work.

8:3-41 Last Friday evening I attempted to show what a Revival of Religion is not; what a Revival is; and the agencies to be employed in promoting it. The topics to which I wish to call your attention to-night, are,

8:4-41 I. When a Revival of Religion is needed.

8:5-41 II. The importance of a Revival when it is needed.

8:6-41 III. When a Revival of Religion may be expected.

8:7-41 I. WHEN IS A REVIVAL OF RELIGION NEEDED? 1. When there is a want of brotherly love and Christian confidence among professors of religion, then a revival is needed. Then there is a loud call for God to revive his work. When Christians have sunk down into a low and backslidden state, they neither have, nor ought to have, nor is there reason to have, the same love and confidence toward each other, as when they are all alive, and active, and living holy lives. The love of benevolence may be the same, but not the love of complacency. God loves all men with the love of benevolence, but he does not feel the love of complacency toward any but those who live holy. Christians do not and cannot love each other with the love of complacency, only in proportion to their holiness. If Christian love is the love of the image of Christ in his people, then it never can be exercised only where that image really or apparently exists. A person must reflect the image of Christ, and show the spirit of Christ, before other Christians can love him with the love of complacency. It is in vain to call on Christians to love one another with the love of complacency, as Christians, when they are sunk down in stupidity. They see nothing in each other to produce this love. It is next to impossible that they should feel otherwise toward each other, than they do toward sinners. Merely knowing that they belong to the church, or seeing them occasionally at the communion table, will not produce Christian love, unless they see the image of Christ.

8:8-41 2. When there are dissensions, and jealousies, and evil speakings among professors of religion, then there is great need of a revival. These things show that Christians have got far from God, and it is time to think earnestly of a revival. Religion cannot prosper with such things in the church, and nothing can put an end to them like a revival.

8:9-41 3. When there is a worldly spirit in the church. It is manifest that the church is sunk down into a low and backslidden state, when you see Christians conform to the world in dress, equipage, parties, seeking worldly amusements, reading novels, and other books such as the world read. It shows that they are far from God, and that there is great need of a Revival of Religion.

8:10-41 4. When the church finds its members falling into gross and scandalous sins, then it is time for the church to awake and cry to God for a Revival of Religion. When such things are taking place, as give the enemies of religion an occasion for reproach, it is time for the church to ask God, "What will become of thy great name?"

8:11-41 5. When there is a spirit of controversy in the church or in the land, a revival is needful. The spirit of religion is not the spirit of controversy. There can be no prosperity in religion, where the spirit of controversy prevails.

8:12-41 6. When the wicked triumph over the church, and revile them, it is time to seek for a Revival of Religion.

8:13-41 7. When sinners are careless and stupid, and sinking into hell unconcerned, it is time the church should bestir themselves. It is as much the duty of the church to awake, as it is of the firemen to awake when a fire breaks out in the night in a great city. The church ought to put out the fires of hell which are laying hold of the wicked. Sleep! Should the firemen sleep, and let the whole city burn down: what would be thought of such firemen? And yet their guilt would not compare with the guilt of Christians who sleep while sinners around them are sinking stupid into the fires of hell.

8:14-41 II. I AM TO SHOW THE IMPORTANCE OF A REVIVAL OF RELIGION IN SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES. 1. A Revival of Religion is the only possible thing that can wipe away the reproach which covers the church, and restore religion to the place it ought to have in the estimation of the public. Without a revival, this reproach will cover the church more and more, until it is overwhelmed with universal contempt. You may do any thing else you please, and you can change the aspects of society in some respects, but you will do no real good; you only make it worse without a Revival of Religion. You may go and build a splendid new house of worship, and line your seats with damask, put up a costly pulpit, and get a magnificent organ, and every thing of that kind, to make a show and dash, and in that way you may procure a sort of respect for religion among the wicked, but it does no good in reality. It rather does hurt. It misleads them as to the real nature of religion; and so far from converting them, it carries them farther away from salvation. Look wherever they have surrounded the altar of Christianity with splendor, and you will find that the impression produced is contrary to the true nature of religion. There must be a waking up of energy, on the part of Christians, and an outpouring of God's Spirit, or the world will laugh at the church.

8:15-41 2. Nothing else will restore Christian love and confidence among church members. Nothing but a Revival of Religion can restore it, and nothing else ought to restore it. There is no other way to wake up that love of Christians for one another, which is sometimes felt, when they have such love as they cannot express. You cannot have such love without confidence; and you cannot restore confidence without such evidence of piety as is seen in a revival. If a minister finds he has lost in any degree the confidence of his people, he ought to labor for a revival as the only means of regaining their confidence. I do not mean that this should be his motive in laboring for a revival, to regain the confidence of his people, but that a revival through his instrumentality, and ordinarily nothing else, will restore to him the confidence of the praying part of his people. So if an elder or private member of the church finds his brethren cold towards him, there is but one way to remedy it. It is by being revived himself, and pouring out from his eyes and from his life the splendor of the image of Christ. This spirit will catch and spread in the church, and confidence will be renewed, and brotherly love prevail again.

8:16-41 3. At such a time a Revival of Religion is indispensable to avert the judgments of God from the church. This would be strange preaching, if revivals are only miracles, and if the church has no more agency in producing them, than it has in making a thunder storm. To say to the church, that unless there is a revival you may expect judgments, would then be as ridiculous as to say, If you do not have a thunder storm, you may expect judgments. The fact is, that Christians are more to blame for not being revived, than sinners are for not being converted. And if they are not awakened, they may know assuredly that God will visit them with his judgments. How often God visited the Jewish church with judgments, because they would not repent and be revived at the call of his prophets! How often have we seen churches, and even whole denominations, cursed with a curse, because they would not wake up and seek the Lord, and pray, "Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee?"

8:17-41 4. Nothing but a Revival of Religion can preserve such a church from annihilation. A church declining in this way cannot continue to exist without a revival. If it receives new members, they will, for the most part, be made up of ungodly persons. Without revivals there will not ordinarily be as many persons converted as will die off in a year. There have been churches in this country where the members have died off, and there were no revivals to convert others in their place, till the church has run out, and the organization has been dissolved.

8:18-41 A minister told me that he once labored as a missionary in Virginia, on the ground where such a man as Samuel Davies once flashed and shone like a flaming torch; and that Davies's church was so reduced as to have but one male member, and he, if I remember right, was a colored man. The church had got proud, and was all run out. I have heard of a church in Pennsylvania, that was formerly flourishing, but neglected revivals, and it became so reduced that the pastor had to send to a neighboring church for a ruling elder when he administered the communion. (Why not, in such a case, let any member of the church, male or female, distribute the elements? Is it indispensable to have an elder?)

8:19-41 5. Nothing but a Revival of Religion can prevent the means of grace from doing a great injury to the ungodly. Without a revival, they will grow harder and harder under preaching, and will experience a more horrible damnation than they would if they had never heard the Gospel. Your children and your friends will go down to a much more horrible fate in hell, in consequence of the means of grace, if there are no revivals to convert them to God. Better were it for them if there were no means of grace, no sanctuary, no Bible, no preaching, and if they had never heard the Gospel, than to live and die where there is no revival. The Gospel is the savor of death unto death, if it is not made a savor of life unto life.

8:20-41 6. There is no other way in which a church can be sanctified, grow in grace, and be fitted for heaven. What is growing in grace? Is it hearing sermons and getting some new notions about religion? No--no such thing. The Christian who does this, and nothing more, is getting worse and worse, more and more hardened, and every week it is more difficult to rouse him up to duty.

8:21-41 III. I AM TO SHOW WHEN A REVIVAL OF RELIGION MAY BE EXPECTED. 1. When the providence of God indicates that a revival is at hand. The indications of God's providence are sometimes so plain as to amount to a revelation of his will. There is a conspiring of events to open the way, a preparation of circumstances to favor a revival, so that those who are looking out can see that a revival is at hand, just as plainly as if it had been revealed from Heaven. Cases have occurred in this country, where the providential manifestations were so plain, that those who are careful observers, felt no hesitation in saying that God was coming to pour out his Spirit, and grant a revival of religion. There are various ways for God to indicate his will to a people--sometimes by giving them peculiar means, sometimes by peculiar and alarming events, sometimes by remarkably favoring the employment of means, by the weather, health, etc.

8:22-41 2. When the wickedness of the wicked grieves and humbles and distresses Christians. Sometimes Christians do not seem to mind any thing about the wickedness around them. Or if they talk about it, it is in a cold, and callous, and unfeeling way, as if they despaired of a reformation: they are disposed to scold at sinners--not to feel the compassion of the Son of God for them. But sometimes the conduct of the wicked drives Christians to prayer, and breaks them down, and makes them sorrowful and tender-hearted, so that they can weep day and night, and instead of scolding and reproaching them, they pray earnestly for them. Then you may expect a revival. Indeed this is a revival begun already. Sometimes the wicked will get up an opposition to religion. And when this drives Christians to their knees in prayer to God, with strong crying and tears, you may be certain there is going to be a revival. The prevalence of wickedness is no evidence at all that there is not going to be a revival. That is often God's time to work. When the enemy cometh in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord lifts up a standard against him. Often the first indication of a revival, is the devil's getting up something new in opposition. It will invariably have one of two effects. It will either drive Christians to God, or it will drive them farther away from God, to some carnal policy or other that will only make things worse. Frequently the most outrageous wickedness of the ungodly is followed by a revival. If Christians are made to feel that they have no hope but in God, and if they have sufficient feeling left to care for the honor of God and the salvation of the souls of the impenitent, there will certainly be a revival. Let hell boil over if it will, and spew out as many devils as there are stones in the pavements, if it only drives Christians to God in prayer--they cannot hinder a revival. Let Satan get up a row, and sound his horn as loud as he pleases; if Christians will only be humbled and pray, they shall soon see God's naked arm in a revival of religion. I have known instances where a revival has broken in upon the ranks of the enemy, almost as suddenly as a clap of thunder, and scattered them--taken the very ringleaders as trophies, and broken up their party in an instant.

8:23-41 3. A revival may be expected when Christians have a spirit of prayer for a revival. That is, when they pray as if their hearts were set upon a revival. Sometimes Christians are not engaged in prayer for a revival, not even when they are warm in prayer. Their minds are upon something else; they are praying for something else--the salvation of the heathen and the like--and not for a revival among themselves. But when they feel the want of a revival, they pray for it; they feel for their own families and neighborhoods, and pray for them as if they could not be denied. What constitutes a spirit of prayer? Is it many prayers and warm words? No. Prayer is the state of the heart. The spirit of prayer is a state of continual desire and anxiety of mind for the salvation of sinners. It is something that weighs them down. It is the same, so far as the philosophy of the mind is concerned, as when a man is anxious for some worldly interest. A Christian who has this spirit of prayer feels anxious for souls. It is the subject of his thoughts all the time, and makes him look and act as if he had a load on his mind. He thinks of it by day, and dreams of it by night. This is properly praying without ceasing. The man's prayers seem to flow from his heart liquid as water-- "O Lord, revive thy work." Sometimes this feeling is very deep; persons have been bowed down, so that they could neither stand nor sit. I can name men in this state, of firm nerves, who stand high in character, who have been absolutely crushed with grief for the state of sinners. They have had an actual travail of soul for sinners, till they were as helpless as children. The feeling is not always so great as this, but such things are much more common than is supposed. In the great revivals in 1826, they were common. This is by no means enthusiasm. It is just what Paul felt, when he says, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth." I heard of a person in this State, who prayed for sinners, and finally got into such a state of mind, that she could not live without prayer. She could not rest day nor night, unless there was somebody praying. Then she would be at ease; but if they ceased, she would shriek in agony till there was prayer again. And this continued for two days, until she prevailed in prayer, and her soul was relieved. This travail of soul, is that deep agony, which persons feel when they lay hold on God for such a blessing, and will not let him go till they receive it. I do not mean to be understood that it is essential to a spirit of prayer, that the distress should be so great as this. But this deep, continual, earnest desire for the salvation of sinners, is what constitutes the spirit of prayer for a revival. It is a revival begun so far as this spirit of prayer extends.

8:24-41 When this feeling exists in a church, unless the Spirit is grieved away by sin, there will infallibly be a revival of Christians generally, and it will involve the conversion of sinners to God. This anxiety and distress increases till the revival commences. A clergyman in W---n told me of a revival among his people, which commenced with a zealous and devoted woman in the church. She became anxious about sinners, and went to praying for them, and she prayed and her distress increased; and she finally came to her minister, and talked with him, and asked him to appoint an anxious meeting, for she felt that one was needed. The minister put her off, for he felt nothing of it. The next week she came again, and besought him to appoint an anxious meeting; she knew there would be somebody to come, for she felt as if God was going to pour out his Spirit. He put her off again. And finally she said to him, "If you do not appoint an anxious meeting I shall die, for there is certainly going to be a revival." The next Sabbath he appointed a meeting, and said that if there were any who wished to converse with him about the salvation of their souls, he would meet them on such an evening. He did not know of one, but when he went to the place, to his astonishment he found a large number of anxious inquirers. Now do not you think that woman knew there was going to be a revival? Call it what you please, a new revelation, or an old revelation, or any thing else. I say it was the Spirit of God that taught that praying woman there was going to be a revival. "The secret of the Lord" was with her, and she knew it. She knew God had been in her heart, and filled it so full that she could contain no longer.

8:25-41 Sometimes ministers have had this distress about their congregations, so that they felt as if they could not live unless they could see a revival. Sometimes elders and deacons, or private members of the church, men or women, have the spirit of prayer for a revival of religion, so that they will hold on and prevail with God, till he pours out his Spirit. The first ray of light that broke in upon the midnight which rested on the churches in Oneida county, in the fall of 1825, was from a woman in feeble health, who, I believe, had never been in a powerful revival. Her soul was exercised about sinners. She was in an agony for the land. She did not know what ailed her, but she kept praying more and more, till it seemed as if her agony would destroy her body. At length she became full of joy, and exclaimed, "God has come! God has come! There is no mistake about it, the work is begun, and is going over all the region." And sure enough, the work began, and her family were almost all converted, and the work spread all over that part of the country. Now, do you think that woman was deceived? I tell you, no. She knew she had prevailed with God in prayer. She had travailed in birth for souls, and she knew it. This was not the only instance, by many, that I knew in that region.

8:26-41 Generally, there are but few professors of religion that know any thing about this spirit of prayer which prevails with God. I have been amazed to see such accounts as are often published about revivals, as if the revival had come without any cause--nobody knew why or wherefore. I have sometimes inquired into such cases; when it had been given out that nobody knew any thing about it until one Sabbath they saw in the face of the congregation that God was there, or they saw it in their conference room, or prayer meeting, and were astonished at the mysterious sovereignty of God, in bringing in a revival without any apparent connection with means. Now mark me. Go and inquire among the obscure members of the church, and you will always find that somebody had been praying for a revival, and was expecting it--some man or woman had been agonizing in prayer, for the salvation of sinners, until they gained the blessing. It may have found the minister and the body of the church fast asleep, and they would wake up all of a sudden, like a man just rubbing his eyes open, and running round the room pushing things over, and wondering where all this excitement came from. But though few knew it, you may be sure there has been somebody on the watch-tower; constant in prayer till the blessing came. Generally, a revival is more or less extensive, as there are more or less persons who have the spirit of prayer. But I will not dwell on this subject any further at present, as the subject of prayer will come up again in this course of lectures.

8:27-41 4. Another sign that a revival may be expected, is when the attention of ministers is especially directed to this particular object, and when their preaching and other efforts are aimed particularly at the conversion of sinners. Most of the time the labors of ministers are, it would seem, directed to other objects. They seem to preach and labor with no particular design to effect the immediate conversion of sinners. And then it need not be expected that there will be a revival under their preaching. There never will be a revival till somebody makes particular efforts for this end. But when the attention of a minister is directed to the state of the families in his congregation, and his heart is full of feeling of the necessity of a revival, and when he puts forth the proper efforts for this end, then you may be prepared to expect a revival. As I explained last week, the connection between the right use of means for a revival, and a revival, is as philosophically sure as between the right use of means to raise grain, and a crop of wheat. I believe, in fact, it is more certain, and that there are fewer instances of failure. The effect is more certain to follow. The paramount importance of spiritual things makes it reasonable that it should be so. Take the Bible, the nature of the case, and the history of the church all together, and you will find fewer failures in the use of means for a revival, than in farming, or any other worldly business. In worldly business there are sometimes cases where counteracting causes annihilate all a man can do. In raising grain, for instance, there are cases which are beyond the control of man, such as drought, hard winter, worms, and so on. So in laboring to promote a revival, there may things occur to counteract it, something or other turning up to divert the public attention from religion, which may baffle every effort. But I believe there are fewer such cases in the moral than in the natural world. I have seldom seen an individual fail, when he used the means for promoting a revival in earnest, in the manner pointed out in the word of God. I believe a man may enter on the work of promoting a revival, with as reasonable an expectation of success, as he can enter on any other work with an expectation of success; with the same expectation as the farmer has of a crop when he sows his grain. I have sometimes seen this tried and succeed under circumstances the most forbidding that can be conceived.

8:28-41 The great revival in Rochester began under the most disadvantageous circumstances that could well be imagined. It seemed as though Satan had interposed every possible obstacle to a revival. The three churches were at variance; one had no minister, one was divided and about to dismiss their minister. An elder of the third Presbyterian church had brought a charge of unchristian conduct against the pastor of the first church, and they were just going to have a trial before the presbytery. After the work began, one of the first things was, the great stone church gave way, and created a panic. Then one of the churches went on and dismissed their minister right in the midst of it. Another church nearly broke down. Many other things occurred, so that it seemed as if the devil was determined to divert the public attention from the subject of religion. But there were a few remarkable cases of the spirit of prayer, which assured us that God was there, and we went on: and the more Satan opposed, the Spirit of the Lord lifted up the standard higher and higher, till finally a wave of salvation rolled over the place.

8:29-41 5. A revival of religion may be expected when Christians begin to confess their sins to one another. At other times, they confess in a general manner, as if they were only half in earnest. They may do it in eloquent language, but it does not mean any thing. But when there is an ingenuous breaking down, and a pouring out of the heart in making a confession of their sins, the flood gates will soon burst open, and salvation will flow over the place.

8:30-41 6. A revival may be expected whenever Christians are found willing to make the sacrifice necessary to carry it on. They must be willing to sacrifice their feelings, their business, their time, to help forward the work. Ministers must be willing to lay out their strength, and to jeopard their health and life. They must be willing to offend the impenitent by plain and faithful dealing, and perhaps offend many members of the church who will not come up to the work. They must take a decided stand with the revival, be the consequences what they may. They must be prepared to go on with the work, even though they should lose the affections of all the impenitent, and of all the cold part of the church. The minister must be prepared, if it is the will of God, to be driven away from the place. He must be determined to go straight forward, and leave the entire event with God.

8:31-41 I knew a minister who had a young man laboring with him in a revival. The young man preached pretty plain, and the wicked did not like him. They said, We like our minister, and we wish to have him preach. They finally said so much that the minister told the young man, "Mr. Such-a-one, that gives so much towards my support, says so and so. Mr. A. says so, and Mr. B. says so. They think it will break up the society if you continue to preach, and I think you had better not preach any more." The young man went away, but the Spirit of God immediately withdrew from the place, and the revival stopped short. The minister, by yielding to the wicked desires of the wicked, drove him away. He was afraid the devil would drive him away from his people, and by undertaking to satisfy the devil, he offended God. And God so ordered events, that in a short time he had to leave his people after all. He undertook to go between the devil and God, and God dismissed him.

8:32-41 The people, also, must be willing to have a revival, let the sacrifice be what it may. It will not do for them to say, "We are willing to attend so many meetings, but we cannot attend any more." Or, "We are willing to have a revival if it will not disturb our arrangements about our business, or prevent our making money." I tell you, such people will never have a revival, till they are willing to do any thing, and sacrifice any thing, that God indicates to be their duty. Christian merchants must feel willing to lock up their stores for six months, if it is necessary to carry on a revival. I do not mean to say any such thing is called for, or that it is their duty to do so. But if there should be such a state of feeling as to call for it, then it would be their duty, and they ought to be willing to do it. They ought to be willing to do it if God calls, and he can easily burn down their stores if they do not. In fact, I should not be sorry to see such a revival in New York, as would make every merchant in the city lock up his store till spring, and say he had sold goods enough, and now he would give up his whole time to lead sinners to Christ.

8:33-41 7. A revival may be expected when ministers and professors are willing to have God promote it by what instruments he pleases. Sometimes ministers are not willing to have a revival unless they can have the management of it, or unless their agency can be conspicuous in promoting it. They wish to prescribe to God what he shall direct and bless, and what men he shall put forward. They will have no new measures. They cannot have any of this new-light preaching, or of these evangelists that go about the country preaching. They have a great deal to say about God's being a sovereign, and that he will have revivals come in his own way and time. But then he must choose to have it just in their way, or they will have nothing to do with it. Such men will sleep on till they are awakened by the judgment trumpet, without a revival, unless they are willing that God should come in his own way--unless they are willing to have any thing or any body employed, that will do the most good.

8:34-41 8. Strictly I should say that when the foregoing things occur, a revival, to the same extent, already exists. In truth a revival should be expected whenever it is needed. If we need to be revived it is our duty to be revived. If it is duty it is possible, and we should set about being revived ourselves, and, relying on the promise of Christ to be with us in making disciples always and everywhere, we ought to labor to revive Christians and convert sinners, with confident expectation of success. Therefore, whenever the church needs reviving they ought and may expect to be revived, and to see sinners converted to Christ. When those things are seen which are named under the foregoing heads, let Christians and ministers be encouraged and know that a good work is already begun. Follow it up.

8:35-41 REMARKS. 1. Brethren, you can tell from our subject, whether you need a revival here or not, in this church, and in this city; and whether you are going to have one or not. Elders of the church, men, women, any of you, and all of you--what do you say?

8:36-41 Do you need a revival here?

8:37-41 Do you expect to have one?

8:38-41 Have you any reason to expect one?

8:39-41 You need not make any mist about it; for you know, or can know if you will, whether you have any reason to look for a revival here.

8:40-41 2. You see why you have not a revival. It is only because you do not want one. Because you are not praying for it; nor anxious for it, nor putting forth efforts for it. I appeal to your own consciences. Are you making these efforts now, to promote a revival? You know, brethren, what the truth is about it. Will you stand up and say that you have made the efforts for a revival and been disappointed--that you have cried to God, "Wilt thou not revive us?" and God would not do it?

8:41-41 3. Do you wish for a revival? Will you have one? If God should ask you this moment, by an audible voice from heaven, "Do you want a revival?" would you dare to say, Yes? "Are you willing to make the sacrifices?" would you answer, Yes? "When shall it begin?" would you answer, Let it begin to-night--let it begin here--let it begin in my heart NOW? Would you dare to say so to God, if you should hear his voice to-night?

 

 

 

Back to contents

9:1-50 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION by The Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY LECTURE III HOW TO PROMOTE A REVIVAL

9:2-50 TEXT. --Break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.--HOSEA X. 12. THE Jews were a nation of farmers, and it is therefore a common thing in the Scriptures to refer for illustrations to their occupation, and to the scenes with which farmers and shepherds are familiar. The prophet Hosea addresses them as a nation of backsliders, and reproves them for their idolatry, and threatens them with the judgments of God. I have showed you in my first lecture what a revival is not--what it is--and the agencies to be employed in promoting it; and in my second, when it is needed--its importance--and when it may be expected. My design in this lecture is to show,

9:3-50 HOW A REVIVAL IS TO BE PROMOTED. A revival consists of two parts; as it respects the church, and as it respects the ungodly. I shall speak to-night of a revival in the church. Fallow ground is ground which has once been tilled, but which now lies waste, and needs to be broken up and mellowed, before it is suited to receive grain. I shall show, as it respects a revival in the church,

9:4-50 1. What it is to break up the fallow ground, in the sense of the text.

9:5-50 2. How it is to be performed.

9:6-50 I. WHAT IS IT TO BREAK UP THE FALLOW GROUND? To break up the fallow ground, is to break up your hearts--to prepare your minds to bring forth fruit unto God. The mind of man is often compared in the Bible to ground, and the word of God to seed sown in it, and the fruit represents the actions and affections of those who receive it. To break up the fallow ground, therefore, is to bring the mind into such a state, that it is fitted to receive the word of God. Sometimes your hearts get matted down hard and dry, and all run to waste, till there is no such thing as getting fruit from them till they are all broken up, and mellowed down, and fitted to receive the word of God. It is this softening of the heart, so as to make it feel the truth, which the prophet calls breaking up your fallow ground.

9:7-50 II. HOW IS THE FALLOW GROUND TO BE BROKEN UP? 1. It is not by any direct efforts to feel. People run into a mistake on this subject, from not making the laws of mind the object of thought. There are great errors on the subject of the laws which govern the mind. People talk about religious feeling, as if they thought they could, by direct effort, call forth religious affection. But this is not the way the mind acts. No man can make himself feel in this way, merely by trying to feel. The feelings of the mind are not directly under our control. We cannot by willing, or by direct volition, call forth religious feelings. We might as well think to call spirits up from the deep. They are purely involuntary states of mind. They naturally and necessarily exist in the mind under certain circumstances calculated to excite them. But they can be controlled indirectly. Otherwise there would be no moral character in our feelings, if there were not a way to control them. We cannot say, "Now I will feel so and so towards such an object." But we can command our attention to it, and look at it intently, till the involuntary affections arise. Let a man who is away from his family, bring them up before his mind, and will he not feel? But it is not by saying to himself, "Now I will feel deeply for my family." A man can direct his attention to any object, about which he ought to feel and wishes to feel, and in that way he will call into existence the proper emotions. Let a man call up his enemy before his mind, and his feelings of enmity will rise. So if a man thinks of God, and fastens his mind on any parts of God's character, he will feel--emotions will come up, by the very laws of mind. If he is a friend of God, let him contemplate God as a gracious and holy being, and he will have emotions of friendship kindled up in his mind. If he is an enemy of God, only let him get the true character of God before his mind, and look at it, and fasten his attention on it, and his enmity will rise against God, or he will break down and give his heart to God.

9:8-50 If you wish to break up the fallow ground of your hearts, and make your minds feel on the subject of religion, you must go to work just as you would to feel on any other subject. Instead of keeping your thoughts on every thing else, and then imagine that by going to a few meetings you will get your feelings enlisted, go the common sense way to work, as you would on any other subject. It is just as easy to make your minds feel on the subject of religion as it is on any other subject. God has put these states of mind under your control. If people were as unphilosophical about moving their limbs, as they are about regulating their emotions, you would never have got here to meeting to-night.

9:9-50 If you mean to break up the fallow ground of your hearts, you must begin by looking at your hearts--examine and note the state of your minds, and see where you are. Many never seem to think about this. They pay no attention to their own hearts, and never know whether they are doing well in religion or not--whether they are gaining ground or going back--whether they are fruitful, or lying waste like the fallow ground. Now you must draw off your attention from other things, and look into this. Make a business of it. Do not be in a hurry. Examine thoroughly the state of your hearts, and see where you are--whether you are walking with God every day, or walking with the devil--whether you are serving God or serving the devil most--whether you are under the dominion of the prince of darkness, or the Lord Jesus Christ.

9:10-50 To do all this, you must set yourself at work to consider your sins. You must examine yourselves. And by this I do not mean, that you must stop and look directly within to see what is the present state of your feelings. That is the very way to put a stop to all feeling. This is just as absurd as it would be for a man to shut his eyes on the lamp, and try to turn his eyes inward to find out whether there was any image painted on the retina. The man complains that he does not see anything! And why? Because he has turned his eyes away from the objects of sight. The truth is, our moral feelings are as much an object of consciousness as our sensations. And the way to excite is to go on acting, and employing our minds. Then we can tell our moral feelings by consciousness, just as I could tell my natural feelings by consciousness, if I should put my hand in the fire.

9:11-50 Self-examination consists in looking at your lives, in considering your actions, in calling up the past, and learning its true character. Look back over your past history. Take up your individual sins one by one, and look at them. I do not mean that you should just cast a glance at your past life, and see that it has been full of sins, and then go to God and make a sort of general confession, and ask for pardon. That is not the way. You must take them up one by one. It will be a good thing to take a pen and paper, as you go over them, and write them down as they occur to you. Go over them as carefully as a merchant goes over his books; and as often as a sin comes before your memory, add it to the list. General confessions of sin will never do. Your sins were committed one by one; and as far as you can come at them, they ought to be reviewed and repented of one by one. Now begin; and take up first what are commonly, but improperly, called your

9:12-50 SINS OF OMISSION. 1. Ingratitude. Take this sin, for instance, and write down under it all the instances you can remember, wherein you have received favors from God, for which you have never exercised gratitude. How many cases can you remember? Some remarkable providence, some wonderful turn of events, that saved you from ruin. Set down the instances of God's goodness to you when you were in sin, before your conversion. Then the mercy of God in the circumstances of your conversion, for which you have never been half thankful enough. The numerous mercies you have received since. How long the catalogue of instances, where your ingratitude is so black that you are forced to hide your face in confusion! Now go on your knees, and confess them one by one to God, and ask forgiveness. The very act of confession, by the laws of suggestion, will bring up others to your memory. Put down these. Go over these three or four times in this way, and you will find an astonishing amount of mercies, for which you have never thanked God. Then take another sin. Let it be,

9:13-50 2. Want of love to God. Write that down, and go over all the instances you can remember, when you did not give to the blessed God that hearty love which you ought.

9:14-50 Think how grieved and alarmed you would be, if you discovered any flagging of affection for you in your wife, husband, or children; if you saw somebody else engrossing their hearts, and thoughts, and time. Perhaps, in such a case, you would well nigh die with a just and virtuous jealousy. Now, God styles himself a jealous God; and have you not given your heart to other loves: played the harlot, and infinitely offended him?

9:15-50 3. Neglect of the Bible. Put down the cases, when for days, and perhaps for weeks--yea, it may be, even for months together, you had no pleasure in God's word. Perhaps you did not read a chapter, or if you read it, it was in a way that was still more displeasing to God. Many people read over a whole chapter in such a way, that if they were put under oath when they have done, they could not tell what they have been reading. With so little attention do they read, that they cannot remember where they have read from morning till evening, unless they put in a string or turn down a leaf. This demonstrates that they did not lay to heart what they read, that they did not make it a subject of reflection. If you were reading a novel, or any other piece of intelligence that greatly interested you, would you not remember what you read last? And the fact that you fold a leaf or put in a string, demonstrates that you read rather as a task, than from love or reverence for the word of God. The word of God is the rule of your duty. And do you pay so little regard to it as not to remember what you read? If so, no wonder that you live so at random, and that your religion is such a miserable failure.

9:16-50 4. Unbelief. Instances in which you have virtually charged the God of truth with lying, by your unbelief of his express promises and declarations. God has promised to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him. Now, have you believed this? Have you expected him to answer? Have you not virtually said in your hearts, when you prayed for the Holy Spirit, "I do not believe that I shall receive it?" If you have not believed nor expected you should receive the blessing, which God has expressly promised, you have charged him with lying.

9:17-50 5. Neglect of prayer. Times when you omitted secret prayer, family prayer, and prayer meetings, or have prayed in such a way as more grievously to offend God, than to have neglected it altogether.

9:18-50 6. Neglect of the means of grace. When you have suffered trifling excuses to prevent your attending meetings, have neglected and poured contempt upon the means of salvation, merely from disrelish of spiritual duties.

9:19-50 7. The manner in which you have performed those duties--want of feeling--want of faith--worldly frame of mind--so that your words were nothing but the mere chattering of a wretch, that did not deserve that God should feel the least care for him. When you have fallen down upon your knees, and said your prayers, in such an unfeeling and careless manner, that if you had been put under oath five minutes after you left your closet, you could not have told what you had been praying for.

9:20-50 8. Your want of love for the souls of your fellow-men. Look round upon your friends and relations, and remember how little compassion you have felt for them. You have stood by and seen them going right to hell, and it seems as though you did not care if they did. How many days have there been, in which you did not make their condition the subject of a single fervent prayer, or even an ardent desire for their salvation?

9:21-50 9. Your want of care for the heathen. Perhaps you have not cared enough for them to attempt to learn their condition; perhaps not even to take a Missionary paper. Look at this, and see how much you do really care for the heathen, and set down honestly the real amount of your feelings for them, and your desire for their salvation. Measure your desire for their salvation by the self-denial you practise, in giving of your substance to send them the Gospel. Do you deny yourself even the hurtful superfluities of life, such as tea, coffee, and tobacco? Do you retrench your style of living, and really subject yourself to any inconvenience to save them? Do you daily pray for them in your closet? Do you statedly attend the monthly concert? Are you from month to month laying by something to put into the treasury of the Lord, when you go up to pray? If you are not doing these things, and if your soul is not agonized for the poor benighted heathen, why are you such a hypocrite as to pretend to be a Christian? Why, your profession is an insult to Jesus Christ!

9:22-50 10. Your neglect of family duties. How you have lived before them, how you have prayed, what an example you have set before them. What direct efforts do you habitually make for their spiritual good? What duty have you not neglected?

9:23-50 11. Neglect of social duties.

9:24-50 12. Neglect of watchfulness over your own life. Instances in which you have hurried over your private duties, and not taken yourself to task, nor honestly made up your accounts with God. Where you have entirely neglected to watch your conduct, and have been off your guard, and have sinned before the world, and before the church, and before God.

9:25-50 13. Neglect to watch over your brethren. How often have you broken your covenant, that you would watch over them in the Lord! How little do you know or care about the state of their souls! And yet you are under a solemn oath to watch over them. What have you done to make yourself acquainted with them? How many of them have you interested yourself for, to know their spiritual state? Go over the list, and wherever you find there has been a neglect, write it down. How many times have you seen your brethren growing cold in religion, and have not spoken to them about it? You have seen them beginning to neglect one duty after another, and you did not reprove them in a brotherly way. You have seen them falling into sin, and you let them go on. And yet you pretend to love them. What a hypocrite! Would you see your wife or child going into disgrace, or into the fire, and hold your peace? No, you would not. What do you think of yourself, then, to pretend to love Christians, and to love Christ, while you can see them going into disgrace, and say nothing to them?

9:26-50 14. Neglect of self-denial. There are many professors who are willing to do almost any thing in religion, that does not require self-denial. But when they are called to do any thing that requires them to deny themselves, Oh! that is too much. They think they are doing a great deal for God, and doing about as much as he ought to ask in reason, if they are only doing what they can do about as well as not; but they are not willing to deny themselves any comfort or convenience whatever, for the sake of serving the Lord. They will not willingly suffer reproach for the name of Christ. Nor will they deny themselves the luxuries of life, to save a world from hell. So far are they from remembering that self-denial is a condition of discipleship, that they do not know what self-denial is. They never have really denied themselves a riband or a pin for Christ, and for the Gospel. Oh, how soon such professors will be in hell! Some are giving of their abundance, and are giving much, and are ready to complain that others don't give more; when, in truth, they do not give any thing that they need, any thing that they could enjoy, if they kept it. They only give of their surplus wealth; and perhaps that poor woman, who puts in twelve and a half cents at the monthly concert, has exercised more self-denial, than they have in giving thousands.

9:27-50 From these we now turn to

9:28-50 SINS OF COMMISSION. 1. Worldly mindedness. What has been the state of your heart in regard to your worldly possessions? Have you looked at them as really yours--as if you had a right to dispose of them as your own, according to your own will? If you have, write that down. If you have loved property, and sought after it for its own sake, or to gratify lust or ambition, or a worldly spirit, or to lay it up for your families, you have sinned, and must repent.

9:29-50 2. Pride. Recollect all the instances you can, in which you have detected yourself in the exercise of pride. Vanity is a particular form of pride. How many times have you detected yourself in consulting vanity, about your dress and appearance? How many times have you thought more, and taken more pains, and spent more time, about decorating your body to go to church, than you have about preparing your mind for the worship of God? You have gone to the house of God caring more how you appear outwardly in the sight of mortal men, than how your soul appears in the sight of the heart-searching God. You have in fact set up yourself to be worshipped by them, rather than prepared to worship God yourself. You came to divide the worship of God's house, to draw off the attention of God's people to look at your pretty appearance. It is in vain to pretend now, that you don't care any thing about having people look at you. Be honest about it. Would you take all this pains about your looks if every body was blind?

9:30-50 3. Envy. Look at the cases in which you were envious at those who you thought were above you in any respect. Or perhaps you have envied those who have been more talented or more useful than yourself. Have you not so envied some, that you have been pained to hear them praised? It has been more agreeable to you to dwell upon their faults, than upon their virtues, upon their failures, than upon their success. Be honest with yourself, and if you have harbored this spirit of hell, repent deeply before God, or he will never forgive you.

9:31-50 4. Censoriousness. Instances in which you have had a bitter spirit, and spoken of Christians in a manner entirely devoid of charity and love--charity, which requires you always to hope the best the case will admit, and to put the best construction upon any ambiguous conduct.

9:32-50 5. Slander. The times you have spoken behind people's backs of their faults, real or supposed, of members of the church or others, unnecessarily or without good reason. This is slander. You need not lie to be guilty of slander;--to tell the truth with the design to injure, is slander.

9:33-50 6. Levity. How often have you trifled before God, as you would not have dared to trifle in the presence of an earthly sovereign? You have either been an Atheist, and forgotten that there was a God, or have had less respect for him, and his presence, than you would have had for an earthly judge.

9:34-50 7. Lying. Understand now what lying is. Any species of designed deception for a selfish reason is lying. If the deception is not a design it is not lying. But if you design to make an impression contrary to the naked truth, you lie. Put down all those cases you can recollect. Don't call them by any soft name. God calls them LIES, and charges you with LYING, and you had better charge yourself correctly.

9:35-50 How innumerable are the falsehoods perpetrated every day in business, and in social intercourse, by words, and looks, and actions--designed to make an impression on others contrary to the truth for selfish reasons.

9:36-50 8. Cheating. Set down all the cases in which you have dealt with an individual, and done to him that which you would not like to have done to you. That is cheating. God has laid down a rule in the case; "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." That is the rule; and now if you have not done so you are a cheat. Mind, the rule is not that you should do what you might reasonably expect them to do to you. That is a rule which would admit of every degree of wickedness. But it is "As ye WOULD they should do to you."

9:37-50 9. Hypocrisy. For instance, in your prayers and confessions to God. Set down the instances in which you have prayed for things you did not really want. And the evidence is, that when you had done praying, you could not tell what you had prayed for. How many times have you confessed sins that you did not mean to break off, and when you had no solemn purpose not to repeat them? Yes, have confessed sins when you knew you as much expected to go and repeat them as you expected to live.

9:38-50 10. Robbing God. Instances in which you have misspent your time, and squandered hours which God gave you to serve him and save souls, in vain amusements or foolish conversation, reading novels, or doing nothing; cases where you have misapplied your talents and powers of mind; where you have squandered money on your lusts, or spent it for things you did not need, and which neither contributed to your health, comfort or usefulness. Perhaps some of you who are here to-night have laid out God's money for TOBACCO. I will not speak of rum, for I presume there is no professor of religion here to-night that would drink rum. I hope there is no one that uses that filthy poison, tobacco. Think of a professor of religion, using God's money to poison himself with tobacco!

9:39-50 11. Bad temper. Perhaps you have abused your wife, or your children, or your family, or servants, or neighbors. Write it all down.

9:40-50 12. Hindering others from being useful. Perhaps you have weakened their influence by insinuations against them. You have not only robbed God of your own talents, but tied the hands of somebody else. What a wicked servant is he that loiters himself, and hinders the rest! This is done sometimes by taking their time needlessly; sometimes by destroying Christian confidence in them. Thus you have played into the hands of Satan, and not only showed yourself an idle vagabond, but prevented others from working.

9:41-50 If you find you have committed a fault against an individual, and that individual is within your reach, go and confess it immediately, and get that out of the way. If the individual you have injured is too far off for you to go and see him, sit down and write him a letter, and confess the injury, pay the postage, and put it into the mail immediately. I say, pay the postage, or otherwise you will only make the matter worse. You will add to the former injury, by making him a bill of expense. The man that writes a letter on his own business, and sends it to another without paying the postage, is dishonest, and has cheated him out of so much. And if he would cheat a man out of a sixpence or shilling, when the temptation is so small, what would he not do were the temptation greater, if he had the prospect of impunity? If you have defrauded any body, send the money, the full amount and the interest.

9:42-50 Go thoroughly to work in all this. Go now. Don't put it off; that will only make the matter worse. Confess to God those sins that have been committed against God, and to man those sins that have been committed against man. Don't think of getting off by going round the stumbling blocks. Take them up out of the way. In breaking up your fallow ground, you must remove every obstruction. Things may be left that you may think little things, and you may wonder why you do not feel as you wish to in religion, when the reason is that your proud and carnal mind has covered up something which God required you to confess and remove. Break up all the ground and turn it over. Do not balk it, as the farmers say; do not turn aside for little difficulties; drive the plow right through them, beam deep, and turn the ground all up, so that it may all be mellow and soft, and fit to receive the seed and bear fruit a hundred fold.

9:43-50 When you have gone over your whole history in this way, thoroughly, if you will then go over the ground the second time, and give your solemn and fixed attention to it, you will find that the things you have put down will suggest other things of which you have been guilty, connected with them, or near them. Then go over it a third time, and you will recollect other things connected with these. And you will find in the end that you can remember an amount of your history, and particular actions, even in this life, which you did not think you should remember in eternity. Unless you do take up your sins in this way, and consider them in detail, one by one, you can form no idea of the amount of your sins. You should go over it as thoroughly and as carefully, and as solemnly, as you would if you were just preparing yourself for the judgment.

9:44-50 As you go over the catalogue of your sins, be sure to resolve upon present and entire reformation. Wherever you find any thing wrong, resolve at once, in the strength of God, to sin no more in that way. It will be of no benefit to examine yourself, unless you determine to amend in every particular that you find wrong in heart, temper, or conduct.

9:45-50 If you find, as you go on with this duty, that your mind is still all dark, cast about you, and you will find there is some reason for the Spirit of God to depart from you. You have not been faithful and thorough. In the progress of such a work you have got to do violence to yourself, and bring yourself as a rational being up to this work, with the Bible before you, and try your heart till you do feel. You need not expect that God will work a miracle for you to break up your fallow ground. It is to be done by means. Fasten your attention to the subject of your sins. You cannot look at your sins long and thoroughly, and see how bad they are, without feeling, and feeling deeply. Experience abundantly proves the benefit of going over our history in this way. Set yourself to the work now; resolve that you never will stop till you find you can pray. You never will have the spirit of prayer, till you examine yourself, and confess your sins, and break up your fallow ground. You never will have the Spirit of God dwelling in you, till you have unraveled this whole mystery of iniquity, and spread out your sins before God. Let there be this deep work of repentance, and full confession, this breaking down before God, and you will have as much of the spirit of prayer as your body can bear up under. The reason why so few Christians know any thing about the spirit of prayer, is because they never would take the pains to examine themselves properly, and so never knew what it was to have their hearts all broken up in this way.

9:46-50 You see I have only begun to lay open this subject to-night. I want to lay it out before you, in the course of these lectures, so that if you will begin and go on to do as I say, the results will be just as certain as they are when the farmer breaks up a fallow field, and mellows it, and sows his grain. It will be so, if you will only begin in this way, and hold on till all your hardened and callous hearts break up.

9:47-50 REMARKS. 1. It will do no good to preach to you while your hearts are in this hardened, and waste, and fallow state. The farmer might just as well sow his grain on the rock. It will bring forth no fruit. This is the reason why there are so many fruitless professors in the church, and why there is so much outside machinery, and so little deep-toned feeling in the church. Look at the Sabbath-school for instance, and see how much machinery there is, and how little of the power of godliness. If you go on in this way, the word of God will continue to harden you, and you will grow worse and worse, just as the rain and snow on an old fallow field makes the turf thicker, and the clods stronger.

9:48-50 2. See why so much preaching is wasted, and worse than wasted. It is because the church will not break up their fallow ground. A preacher may wear out his life, and do very little good, while there are so many stony-ground hearers, who have never had their fallow ground broken up. They are only half converted, and their religion is rather a change of opinion than a change of the feeling of their hearts. There is mechanical religion enough, but very little that looks like deep heart-work.

9:49-50 3. Professors of religion should never satisfy themselves, or expect a revival, just by starting out of their slumbers, and blustering about, and making a noise, and talking to sinners. They must get their fallow ground broken up. It is utterly unphilosophical to think of getting engaged in religion in this way. If your fallow ground is broken up, then the way to get more feeling, is to go out and see sinners on the road to hell, and talk to them, and guide inquiring souls, and you will get more feeling. You may get into an excitement without this breaking up; you may show a kind of zeal, but it will not last long, and it will not take hold of sinners, unless your hearts are broken up. The reason is, that you go about it mechanically, and have not broken up your fallow ground.

9:50-50 4. And now, finally, will you break up your fallow ground? Will you enter upon the course now pointed out, and persevere till you are thoroughly awake? If you fail here, if you do not do this, and get prepared, you can go no further with me in this course of lectures. I have gone with you as far as it is of any use to go, until your fallow ground is broken up. Now, you must make thorough work upon this point, or all I have further to say will do you little good. Nay, it will only harden and make you worse. If, when next Friday night arrives, it finds you with unbroken hearts, you need not expect to be benefited by what I shall say. If you do not set about this work immediately, I shall take it for granted that you do not mean to be revived, that you have forsaken your minister, and mean to let him go up to battle alone. If you do not do this, I charge you with having forsaken Christ, with refusing to repent and do your first work. But if you will be prepared to enter upon the work, I propose, God willing, next Friday evening, to lead you into the work of saving sinners.

 

 

 

Back to contents

10:1-66 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION by The Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY LECTURE IV PREVAILING PRAYER

10:2-66 TEXT. --The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.--JAMES V. 16.

10:3-66 THE last lecture referred principally to the confession of sin. To-night my remarks will be chiefly confined to the subject of intercession, or prayer. There are two kinds of means requisite to promote a revival; one to influence men, the other to influence God. The truth is employed to influence men, and prayer to move God. When I speak of moving God, I do not mean that God's mind is changed by prayer, or that his disposition or character is changed. But prayer produces such a change in us and fulfils such conditions as renders it consistent for God to do as it would not be consistent for him to do otherwise. When a sinner repents, that state of mind makes it proper for God to forgive him. God has always been ready to forgive him on that condition, so that when the sinner changes his mind towards God, it requires no change of feeling in God to pardon him. It is the sinner's repentance that renders his forgiveness proper, and is the occasion of God's acting as he does. So when Christians offer effectual prayer, their state of mind renders it proper for God to answer them. He was always ready to bestow the blessing, on the condition that they felt right, and offered the right kind of prayer. Whenever this change takes place in them, and they offer the right kind of prayer, then God, without any change in himself, can answer them. When we offer effectual fervent prayer for others, the fact that we offer such prayer renders it consistent for him to do what we pray for, when otherwise it would not have been consistent.

10:4-66 Prayer is an essential link in the chain of causes that lead to a revival; as much so as truth is. Some have zealously used truth to convert men, and laid very little stress on prayer. They have preached, and talked, and distributed tracts with great zeal, and then wondered that they had so little success. And the reason was, that they forgot to use the other branch of the means, effectual prayer. They overlooked the fact, that truth by itself will never produce the effect, without the Spirit of God, and that Spirit is given in answer to earnest prayer.

10:5-66 Sometimes it happens that those who are the most engaged in employing truth, are not the most engaged in prayer. This is always unhappy.--For unless they, or somebody else have the spirit of prayer, the truth by itself will do nothing but harden men in impenitence. Probably in the day of judgment it will be found that nothing is ever done by the truth, used ever so zealously, unless there is a spirit of prayer somewhere in connection with the presentation of truth.

10:6-66 Others err on the other side. Not that they lay too much stress on prayer. But they overlook the fact that prayer might be offered for ever, by itself, and nothing would be done. Because sinners are not converted by direct contact of the Holy Ghost, but by the truth, employed as a means. To expect the conversion of sinners by prayer alone, without the employment of truth, is to tempt God.

10:7-66 The subject of discourse this evening, is

10:8-66 PREVAILING PRAYER. I. I propose to show what is effectual or prevailing prayer.

10:9-66 II. State some of the most essential attributes of prevailing prayer.

10:10-66 III. Give some reasons why God requires this kind of prayer.

10:11-66 IV. Show that such prayer will avail much.

10:12-66 I. I proceed to show what is prevailing prayer.

10:13-66 1. Effectual, prevailing prayer, does not consist in benevolent desires merely. Benevolent desires are doubtless pleasing to God. Such desires pervade heaven, and are found in all holy beings. But they are not prayer. Men may have these desires as the angels and glorified spirits have them. But this is not the effectual, prevailing prayer, spoken of in the text. Prevailing prayer is something more than this.

10:14-66 2. Prevailing, or effectual prayer, is that prayer which obtains the blessing that it seeks. It is that prayer which effectually moves God. The very idea of effectual prayer is, that it effects its object.

10:15-66 II. I will state some of the most essential attributes of prevailing prayer. I cannot detail in full all the things that go to make up prevailing prayer. But I will mention some things that are essential to it; some things which a person must do in order to prevail in prayer.

10:16-66 1. He must pray for a definite object. He need not expect to offer such prayer, if he prays at random, without any distinct or definite object. He must have an object distinctly before his mind. I speak now of secret prayer. Many people go away into their closets, because they must say their prayers. The time has come that they are in the habit of going by themselves for prayer, in the morning, or at noon, or at whatever time of day it may be. And instead of having any thing to say, any definite object before their mind, they fall down on their knees, and pray for just what comes into their minds, for everything that floats in their imagination at the time, and when they have done, they could not tell hardly a word of what they have been praying for. This is not effectual prayer. What should we think of any body who should try to move a legislature so, and should say, "Now it is winter, and the legislature is in session, and it is time to send up petitions," and should go up to the legislature and petition at random, without any definite object? Do you think such petitions would move the legislature?

10:17-66 A man must have some definite object before his mind. He cannot pray effectually for a variety of objects at once. The mind of man is so constituted that it cannot fasten its desires intensely upon many things at the same time. All the instances of effectual prayer recorded in the Bible were of this kind. Wherever you see that the blessing sought for in prayer was attained, you will find that the prayer which was offered was prayer for that definite object.

10:18-66 2. Prayer, to be effectual, must be in accordance with the revealed will of God. To pray for things contrary to the revealed will of God, is to tempt God. There are three ways in which God's will is revealed to men for their guidance in prayer.

10:19-66 (1.) By express promises or predictions in the Bible, that he will give or do certain things. Either by express promises in regard to particular things, or promises in general terms, so that we may apply them to particular things. For instance, there is this promise: "Whatsoever things ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

10:20-66 (2.) Sometimes God reveals his will by his providence. When he makes it clear that such and such events are about to take place, it is as much a revelation as if he had written it in his word. It would be impossible to reveal every thing in the Bible. But God often makes it clear to those who have spiritual discernment, that it is his will to grant such and such blessings.

10:21-66 (3.) By his Spirit. When God's people are at a loss what to pray for, agreeable to his will, his Spirit often instructs them. Where there is no particular revelation, and providence leaves it dark, and we know not what to pray for as we ought, we are expressly told, that "the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities," and "the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered." A great deal has been said on the subject of praying in faith for things not revealed. It is objected, that this doctrine implies a new revelation. I answer, that, new or old, it is the very revelation that Jehovah says he makes. It is just as plain here, as if it were now revealed by a voice from heaven, that the Spirit of God helps the people of God to pray according to the will of God, when they themselves know not what things they ought to pray for. "And he that searcheth the heart knoweth the mind of the Spirit," because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God, and he leads Christians to pray for just those things, with groanings that cannot be uttered. When neither the word nor providence enables them to decide, then let them be filled with the Spirit, as God commands them to be. He says, "Be ye filled with the Spirit." And He will lead their mind to such things as God is willing to grant.

10:22-66 3. To pray effectually, you must pray with submission to the will of God. Do not confound submission with indifference. No two things are more unlike. I once knew an individual come where there was a revival. He himself was cold, and did not enter into the spirit of it, and had no spirit of prayer; and when he heard the brethren pray as if they could not be denied, he was shocked at their boldness, and kept all the time insisting on the importance of praying with submission; when it was as plain as any thing could be, that he confounded submission with indifference

10:23-66 So again, do not confound submission in prayer with a general confidence that God will do what is right. It is proper to have this confidence that God will do what is right in all things. But this is a different thing from submission. What I mean by submission in prayer, is, acquiescence in the revealed will of God. To submit to any command of God is to obey it. Submission to some supposable or possible, but secret decree of God, is not submission. To submit to any dispensation of Providence is impossible till it comes. For we never can know what the event is to be, till it takes place. Take a case: David, when his child was sick, was distressed, and agonized in prayer, and refused to be comforted. He took it so much to heart, that when the child died, his servants were afraid to tell him the child was dead, for fear he would vex himself still worse. But as soon as he heard that the child was dead, he laid aside his grief, and arose, and asked for food, and ate and drank as usual. While the child was yet alive, he did not know what was the will of God, and so he fasted and prayed, and said, "Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that my child may live?" He did not know but that his prayer and agony was the very thing on which it turned, whether the child was to live or not. He thought that if he humbled himself and entreated God, perhaps God would spare him this blow. But as soon as God's will appeared, and the child was dead, he bowed like a saint. He seemed not only to acquiesce, but actually to take a satisfaction in it. "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." This was true submission. He reasoned correctly in the case. While he had no revelation of the will of God, he did not know but what the child's recovery depended on his prayer. But when he had a revelation of the will of God, he submitted. While the will of God is not known, to submit, without prayer, is tempting God. Perhaps, and for aught you know, the fact of your offering the right kind of prayer, may be the thing on which the event turns. In the case of an impenitent friend, the very condition on which he is to be saved from hell, may be the fervency and importunity of your prayer for that individual.

10:24-66 4. Effectual prayer for an object implies a desire for that object commensurate with its importance. If a person truly desires any blessing, his desires will bear some proportion to the greatness of the blessing. The desires of the Lord Jesus Christ for the blessing he prayed for, were amazingly strong, and amounted even to agony. If the desire for an object is strong, and is a benevolent desire, and the thing not contrary to the will and providence of God, the presumption is, that it will be granted. There are two reasons for this presumption:

10:25-66 (1.) From the general benevolence of God. If it is a desirable object; if, so far as we can see, it would be an act of benevolence in God to grant it, his general benevolence is presumptive evidence that he will grant it.

10:26-66 (2.) If you find yourself exercised with benevolent desires for any object, there is a strong presumption that the Spirit of God is exciting these very desires, and stirring you up to pray for that object, so that it may be granted in answer to prayer. In such a case no degree of desire or importunity in prayer is improper. A Christian may come up, as it were, and take hold of the hand of God. See the case of Jacob, when he exclaimed, in an agony of desire, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." Was God displeased with his boldness and importunity? Not at all; but he granted him the very thing he prayed for. So in the case of Moses. God said to Moses, "Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven, and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they." What did Moses do? Did he stand aside and let God do as he said? No, his mind runs back to the Egyptians, and he thinks how they will triumph. "Wherefore should the Egyptians say, For mischief did he bring them out." It seemed as if he took hold of the uplifted hand of God, to avert the blow. Did God rebuke him for his interference, and tell him he had no business to interfere? No; it seemed as if he was unable to deny any thing to such importunity, and so Moses stood in the gap, and prevailed with God.

10:27-66 It is said of Xavier, the missionary, that he was once called to pray for a man who was sick, and he prayed so fervently that he seemed as it were to do violence to heaven--so the writer expresses it. And he prevailed, and the man recovered.

10:28-66 Such prayer is often offered in the present day, when Christians have been wrought up to such a pitch of importunity and such a holy boldness, that afterwards, when they looked back upon it, they were frightened and amazed at themselves, to think they should dare to exercise such importunity with God. And yet these prayers have prevailed, and obtained the blessing. And many of these persons, that I am acquainted with, are among the holiest persons I know in the world.

10:29-66 5. Prayer, to be effectual, must be offered from right motives. Prayer should not be selfish, but dictated by a supreme regard for the glory of God. A great deal of prayer is offered from pure selfishness. Women sometimes pray for their husbands, that they may be converted, because they say, "It would be so much more pleasant to have my husband go to meeting with me," and all that. And they seem never to lift up their thoughts above self at all. They do not seem to think how their husbands are dishonoring God by their sins, and how God would be glorified in their conversion. So it is with parents very often. They cannot bear to think that their children should be lost. They pray for them very earnestly indeed. But if you go to talk with them, they are very tender, and tell you how good their children are, how they respect religion, and they think they are almost Christians now; and so they talk as if they were afraid you would hurt their children if you should tell them the truth. They do not think how such amiable and lovely children are dishonoring God by their sins; they are only thinking what a dreadful thing it will be for them to go to hell. Ah! unless their thoughts rise higher than this, their prayers will never prevail with a holy God. The temptation to selfish motives is so strong, that there is reason to fear a great many parental prayers never rise above the yearnings of parental tenderness. And that is the reason why so many prayers are not heard, and why so many pious, praying parents have ungodly children. Much of the prayer for the heathen world seems to be based on no higher principle than sympathy. Missionary agents, and others, are dwelling almost exclusively upon the six hundred millions of heathens going to hell, while little is said of their dishonoring God. This is a great evil; and until the church have higher motives for prayer and missionary effort than sympathy for the heathen, their prayers and efforts will never amount to much.

10:30-66 6. Prayer, to be effectual, must be by the intercession of the Spirit. You never can expect to offer prayer according to the will of God without the Spirit. In the first two cases, it is not because Christians are unable to offer such prayer, where the will of God is revealed in his word, or indicated by his providence. They are able to do it, just as they are able to be holy. But the fact is, that they are so wicked, that they never do offer such prayer, without they are influenced by the Spirit of God. There must be a faith, such as produced by the effectual operation of the Holy Ghost.

10:31-66 7. It must be persevering prayer. As a general thing, Christians who have backslidden and lost the spirit of prayer, will not get at once into the habit of persevering prayer. Their minds are not in a right state, and they cannot fix their minds, and hold on till the blessing comes. If their minds were in that state, that they would persevere till the answer comes, effectual prayer might be offered at once, as well as after praying ever so many times for an object. But they have to pray again and again, because their thoughts are so apt to wander away, and are so easily diverted from the object to something else. Until their minds get imbued with the spirit of prayer, they will not keep fixed to one point, and push their petition to an issue on the spot. Do not think you are prepared to offer prevailing prayer, if your feelings will let you pray once for an object, and then leave it. Most Christians come up to prevailing prayer by a protracted process. Their minds gradually become filled with anxiety about an object, so that they will even go about their business, sighing out their desires to God. Just as the mother whose child is sick, goes round her house, sighing as if her heart would break. And if she is a praying mother, her sighs are breathed out to God all the day long. If she goes out of the room where her child is, her mind is still on it; and if she is asleep, still her thoughts are on it, and she starts in her dreams, thinking it is dying. Her whole mind is absorbed in that sick child. This is the state of mind in which Christians offer prevailing prayer.

10:32-66 What was the reason that Jacob wrestled all night in prayer with God? He knew that he had done his brother Esau a great injury, in getting away the birthright a long time ago. And now he was informed that his injured brother was coming to meet him, with an armed force altogether too powerful for him to contend against. And there was great reason to suppose he was coming with a purpose of revenge. There were two reasons then why he should be distressed. The first was, that he had done this great injury, and had never made any reparation. The other was, that Esau was coming with a force sufficient to crush him. Now, what does he do? Why, he first arranges everything in the best manner he can to meet his brother, sending his present first, then his property, then his family, putting those he loved most farthest behind. And by this time his mind was so exercised that he could not contain himself. He goes away alone over the brook, and pours out his very soul in an agony of prayer all night. And just as the day was breaking, the angel of the covenant said, "Let me go;" and his whole being was, as it were, agonized at the thought of giving up, and he cried out, "I will not let thee go except thou bless me." His soul was wrought up into an agony, and he obtained the blessing, but he always bore the marks of it, and showed that his body had been greatly affected by this mental struggle. This is prevailing prayer.

10:33-66 Now, do not deceive yourselves with thinking that you offer effectual prayer, unless you have this intense desire for the blessing. I do not believe in it. Prayer is not effectual unless it is offered up with an agony of desire. The apostle Paul speaks of it as a travail of the soul. Jesus Christ, when he was praying in the garden, was in such an agony, that he sweat as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. I have never known a person sweat blood; but I have known a person pray till the blood started from the nose. And I have known persons pray till they were all wet with perspiration, in the coldest weather in winter. I have known persons pray for hours, till their strength was all exhausted with the agony of their minds. Such prayers prevailed with God.

10:34-66 This agony in prayer was prevalent in President Edwards' day, in the revivals that then took place. It was one of the great stumbling blocks in those days, to persons who were opposed to the revival, that people used to pray till their bodies were overpowered with their feelings. I will read a paragraph of what President Edwards says on the subject, to let you see that this is not a new thing in the Church, but has always prevailed wherever revivals prevailed with power. It is from his Thoughts on Revivals.

10:35-66 "We cannot determine that God never shall give any person so much of a discovery of himself, not only as to weaken their bodies, but to take away their lives. It is supposed by very learned and judicious divines, that Moses' life was taken away after this manner; and this has also been supposed to be the case with some other saints. Yea, I do not see any solid, sure grounds any have to determine, that God shall never make such strong impressions on the mind by his Spirit, that shall be an occasion of so impairing the frame of the body, and particularly that part of the body, the brain, that persons shall be deprived of the use of reason. As I said before, It is too much for us to determine, that God will not bring an outward calamity in bestowing spiritual and eternal blessings: so it is too much for us to determine, how great an outward calamity he will bring. If God give a great increase of discoveries of himself, and of love to him, the benefit is infinitely greater than the calamity, though the life should presently after be taken away; yea, though the soul should not immediately be taken to heaven, but should lie some years in a deep sleep, and then be taken to heaven; or, which is much the same thing, if it be deprived of the use of its faculties, and be inactive and unserviceable, as if it lay in a deep sleep for some years, and then should pass into glory. We cannot determine how great a calamity distraction is, when considered with all its consequences, and all that might have been consequent, if the distraction had not happened; nor indeed whether (thus considered) it be any calamity at all, or whether it be not a mercy, by preventing some great sin, or some more dreadful thing, if it had not been. It were a great fault in us to limit a sovereign, all-wise God, whose judgments are a great deep, and his ways past finding out, where he has not limited himself, and in things concerning which he has not told us what his way shall be. It is remarkable, considering in what multitudes of instances, and to how great a degree, the frame of the body has been overpowered of late, that persons' lives have, notwithstanding, been preserved, and that the instances of those that have been deprived of reason, have been so very few, and those, perhaps all of them, persons under the peculiar disadvantage of a weak, vapory habit of body. A merciful and careful Divine hand is very manifest in it, that in so many instances where the ship has begun to sink, yet it has been upheld, and has not totally sunk. The instances of such as have been deprived of reason are so few, that certainly they are not enough to cause us to be in any fright, as though this work that has been carried on in the country was like to be of baneful influence; unless we are disposed to gather up all that we can to darken it, and set it forth in frightful colors.

10:36-66 "There is one particular kind of exercise and concern of mind, that many have been overpowered by, that has been especially stumbling to some; and that is, the deep concern and distress that they have been in for the souls of others. I am sorry that any put us to the trouble of doing that which seems so needless, as defending such a thing as this. It seems like mere trifling, in so plain a case, to enter into a formal and particular debate, in order to determine whether there be anything in the greatness and importance of the case that will answer and bear a proportion to the greatness of the concern that some have manifested. Men may be allowed, from no higher a principle than common ingenuity and humanity, to be very deeply concerned and greatly exercised in mind at seeing others in great danger of no greater a calamity than drowning, or being burnt up in a house on fire. And if so, then doubtless it will be allowed to be equally reasonable, if they saw them in danger of a calamity ten times greater, to be still much more concerned; and so much more still, if the calamity was still vastly greater. And why, then, should it be thought unreasonable, and looked upon with a very suspicious eye, as if it must come from some bad cause, when persons are extremely concerned at seeing others in very great danger of suffering the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God to all eternity? And besides, it will doubtless be allowed that those that have very great degrees of the Spirit of God, that is, a spirit of love, may well be supposed to have vastly more of love and compassion to their fellow creatures, than those that are influenced only by common humanity. Why should it be thought strange that those that are full of the Spirit of Christ should be proportionably, in their love to souls, like to Christ? who had so strong a love to them and concern for them as to be willing to drink the dregs of the cup of God's fury for them; and at the same time that he offered up his blood for souls, offered up also, as their high priest, strong crying and tears, with an extreme agony, when the soul of Christ was, as it were, in travail for the souls of the elect; and, therefore, in saving them, he is said to see of the travail of his soul. As such a spirit of love to and concern for souls was the spirit of Christ, so it is the spirit of the church; and, therefore, the church, in desiring and seeking that Christ might be brought forth in the world and in the souls of men, is represented, Rev. xii., as 'a woman crying, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.' The spirit of those that have been in distress for the souls of others, so far as I can discern, seems not to be different from that of the apostle, who travailed for souls, and was ready to wish himself accursed from Christ for others. And that of the Psalmist, Psalm cxix. 53, 'Horror hath taken hold upon me, because of the wicked that forsake the law.' And v. 136, 'Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.' And that of the prophet Jeremiah, Jer. iv. 19, 'My bowels! my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; My heart maketh a noise in me: I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard. O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war!' And so, chap. ix. 1, and xiii. 17, and Isa. xxii. 4. We read of Mordecai, when he saw his people in danger of being destroyed with a temporal destruction, Esther iv. 1, that he 'rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and bitter cry.['] And why, then, should persons be thought to be distracted, when they cannot forbear crying out at the consideration of the misery of those that are going to eternal destruction?" (Edwards' Works. vol. iv. p. 85. New York edition)

10:37-66 I have read this to show that this thing was common in the great revivals of those days. It has always been so in all great revivals, and has been more or less common in proportion to the greatness, and extent, and depth of the work. It was so in the great revivals in Scotland, and multitudes used to be overpowered, and some almost died, by the depth of their agony.

10:38-66 9. If you mean to pray effectually, you must pray a great deal. It was said of the apostle James, that after he was dead it was found his knees were callous like a camel's knees, by praying so much. Ah! here was the secret of the success of those primitive ministers. They had callous knees.

10:39-66 10. If you intend prayer to be effectual, it must be offered in the name of Christ. You cannot come to God in your own name. You cannot plead your own merits. But you can come in a name that is always acceptable. You all know what it is to use the name of a man. If you should go to the bank with a draft or note, endorsed by John Jacob Astor, that would be giving you his name, and you know you could get the money from the bank just as well as he could himself. Now, Jesus Christ gives you the use of his name. And when you pray in the name of Christ, the meaning of it is, that you can prevail just as well as he could himself, and receive just as much as God's well-beloved Son would if he were to pray himself for the same things. But you must pray in faith. His name has all the virtue in your lips that it has in his own, and God is just as free to bestow blessings upon you, when you ask in the name of Christ, and in faith, as he would be to bestow them upon Christ, if he should ask.

10:40-66 11. You cannot prevail in prayer, without renouncing all your sins. You must not only recall them to mind, but you must actually renounce them, and leave them off, and in the purpose of your heart renounce them all for ever.

10:41-66 12. You must pray in faith. You must expect to obtain the things you ask for. You need not look for an answer to prayer, if you pray without an expectation of obtaining it. You are not to form such expectations without any reason for them. In the cases I have supposed, there is a reason for the expectation. In case the thing is revealed in God's word, if you pray without an expectation of receiving the blessings, you just make God a liar. If the will of God is indicated by his providence, you ought to depend on it, according to the clearness of the indication, so far as to expect the blessing if you pray for it. And if you are led by his Spirit to pray for certain things, you have just as much reason to expect the thing to be done as if God had revealed it in his word.

10:42-66 But some say, "Will not this view of the leadings of the Spirit of God lead people into fanaticism?" I answer, that I know not but many may deceive themselves in respect to this matter. Multitudes have deceived themselves in regard to all the other points of religion. And if some people should think they are led by the Spirit of God, when it is nothing but their own imagination, is that any reason why those who know that they are led by the Spirit should not follow? Many people suppose themselves to be converted when they are not. Is that any reason why we should not cleave to the Lord Jesus Christ? Suppose some people are deceived in thinking they love God, is that any reason why the pious saint who knows he has the love of God shed abroad in his heart, should not give vent to his feelings in songs of praise? So I suppose some may deceive themselves in thinking they are led by the Spirit of God. But there is no need of being deceived. If people follow impulses, it is their own fault. I do not want you to follow impulses. I want you to be sober minded, and follow the sober, rational leadings of the Spirit of God. There are those who understand what I mean, and who know very well what it is to give themselves up to the Spirit of God in prayer.

10:43-66 III. I will state some of the reasons why these things are essential to effectual prayer. Why does God require such prayer, such strong desires, such agonizing supplications?

10:44-66 1. These strong desires strongly illustrate the strength of God's feelings. They are like the real feelings of God for impenitent sinners. When I have seen, as I sometimes have, the amazing strength of love for souls that has been felt by Christians, I have been wonderfully impressed with the amazing love of God, and his desires for their salvation. The case of a certain woman, of whom I read, in a revival, made the greatest impression on my mind. She had such an unutterable compassion and love for souls, that she actually panted for breath almost to suffocation. What must be the strength of the desire which God feels, when his Spirit produces in Christians such amazing agony, such throes of soul, such travail--God has chosen the best word to express it--it is travail--travail of the soul.

10:45-66 I have seen a man of as much strength of intellect and muscle as any man in the community, fall down prostrate, absolutely overpowered by his unutterable desires for sinners. I know this is a stumbling block to many; and it always will be as long as there remain in the church so many blind and stupid professors of religion. But I cannot doubt that these things are the work of the Spirit of God. Oh that the whole church could be so filled with the Spirit as to travail in prayer, till a nation should be born in a day!

10:46-66 It is said in the word of God, that as soon "as Zion travailed, she brought forth." What does that mean? I asked a professor of religion this question once. He was making exceptions about our ideas of effectual prayer, and I asked him what he supposed was meant by Zion's travailing. "Oh," said he, "it means that as soon as the church walk together in the fellowship of the Gospel, then it will be said that Zion travels! This walking together is called travelling." Not the same term, you see. So much he knew.

10:47-66 2. These strong desires that I have described, are the natural results of great benevolence and clear views of the danger of sinners. It is perfectly reasonable that it should be so. If the women who are in this house should look up there, and see a family burning to death in the fire, and hear their shrieks, and behold their agony, they would feel distressed, and it is very likely that many of them would faint away with agony. And nobody would wonder at it, or say they were fools or crazy to feel so much distressed at such an awful sight. They would think it strange if there were not some expressions of powerful feeling. Why is it any wonder, then, if Christians should feel as I have described, when they have clear views of the state of sinners, and the awful danger they are in? The fact is, that those individuals who never have felt so, have never felt much real benevolence, and their piety must be of a very superficial character. I do not mean to judge harshly, or to speak unkindly. But I state it as a simple matter of fact; and people may talk about it as they please, but I know that such piety is superficial. This is not censoriousness, but plain truth.

10:48-66 People sometimes wonder at Christians having such feelings. Wonder at what? Why, at the natural, and philosophical, and necessary results of deep piety towards God, and deep benevolence towards man, in view of the great danger they see sinners to be in.

10:49-66 3. The soul of a Christian, when it is thus burdened, must have relief. God rolls this weight upon the soul of a Christian, for the purpose of bringing him near to himself. Christians are often so unbelieving, that they will not exercise proper faith in God, till he rolls this burden upon them, so heavy that they cannot live under it, and then they must go to God for relief. It is like the case of many a convicted sinner. God is willing to receive him at once, if he will come right to him, with faith in Jesus Christ. But the sinner will not come. He hangs back, and struggles, and groans under the burden of his sins, and will not throw himself upon God, till his burden of conviction becomes so great that he can live no longer; and when he is driven to desperation, as it were, and feels as if he was ready to sink into hell, he makes a mighty plunge, and throws himself upon God's mercy as his only hope. It was his duty to come before. God had no delight in his distress, for its own sake. It was only the sinner's obstinacy that created the necessity for all this distress. He would not come without it. So when professors of religion get loaded down with the weight of souls, they often pray again and again, and yet the burden is not gone, nor their distress abated, because they have never thrown it all upon God in faith. But they cannot get rid of the burden. So long as their benevolence continues it will remain and increase, and unless they resist and quench the Holy Ghost they can get no relief, until at length, when they are driven to extremity, they make a desperate effort, roll the burden off upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and exercise a child-like confidence in him. Then they feel relieved; then they feel as if the soul they were praying for would be saved. The burden is gone, and God seems in kindness to sooth down the mind to feel a sweet assurance that the blessing will be granted. Often, after a Christian has had this struggle, this agony in prayer, and has obtained relief in this way, you will find the sweetest and most heavenly affections flow out--the soul rests sweetly and gloriously in God, and rejoices, "with joy unspeakable and full of glory."

10:50-66 Do any of you think now, that there are no such things in the experience of believers? I tell you, if I had time, I could show you from President Edwards, and other approved writers, cases and descriptions just like this. Do you ask why we never have such things here in New York? I tell you, it is not at all because you are so much wiser than Christians are in the country, or because you have so much more intelligence or more enlarged views of the nature of religion, or a more stable and well regulated piety. I tell you, no; instead of priding yourselves in being free from such extravagances, you ought to hide your heads, because Christians in New York are so worldly, and have so much starch, and pride, and fashion, that they cannot come down to such spirituality as this. I wish it could be so. Oh that there might be such a spirit in this city, and in this church! I know it would make a noise, if we had such things done here. But I would not care for that. Let them say, if they please, that the folks in Chatham Chapel are getting deranged. We need not be afraid of that, if we could live near enough to God to enjoy his Spirit in the manner I have described.

10:51-66 4. These effects of the Spirit of prayer upon the body are themselves no part of religion. It is only that the body is often so weak that the feelings of the soul overpower it. These bodily effects are not at all essential to prevailing prayer, but only a natural or physical result of highly excited emotions of the mind. It is not at all unusual for the body to be weakened and even overcome by any powerful emotion of the mind, on other subjects besides religion. The door-keeper of Congress in the time of the revolution, fell down dead on the reception of some highly cheering intelligence. I knew a woman in Rochester, who was in a great agony of prayer for the conversion of her son-in-law. One morning he was at an anxious meeting, and she remained at home praying for him. At the close of the meeting, he came home a convert, and she was so rejoiced that she fell down and died on the spot. It is no more strange that these effects should be produced by religion than by strong feeling on any other subject. It is not essential to prayer, but the natural result of great effort of the mind.

10:52-66 5. Doubtless one great reason why God requires the exercise of this agonizing prayer is, that it forms such a bond of union between Christ and the Church. It creates such a sympathy between them. It is as if Christ came and poured the overflowings of his own benevolent heart into his church, and led them to sympathize and to co-operate with him, as they never do in any other way. They feel just as Christ feels--so full of compassion for sinners that they cannot contain themselves. Thus it is often with those ministers who are distinguished for their success in preaching to sinners; they often have such compassion, such overflowing desires for their salvation, that it shows itself in their speaking, and their preaching, just as though Jesus Christ spoke through them. The words come from their lips fresh and warm, as if from the very heart of Christ. I do not mean that he dictates their words; but he excites the feelings that give utterance to them. Then you see a movement in the hearers, as if Christ himself spoke through lips of clay.

10:53-66 6. This travailing in birth for souls creates also a remarkable bond of union between warm-hearted Christians and the young converts. Those who are converted appear very dear to the hearts that have had this spirit of prayer for them. The feeling is like that of a mother for her first-born. Paul expresses it beautifully, when he says, "My little children!" His heart was warm and tender to them. "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again." They had backslidden, and he has all the agonies of a parent over a wandering child. "I travail in birth again, till Christ be formed in you, the hope of glory." In a revival, I have often noticed how those who have had the spirit of prayer, love the young converts. I know this is all algebra to those who have never felt it. But to those who have experienced the agony of wrestling, prevailing prayer, for the conversion of a soul, you may depend upon it, that soul, after it is converted, appears as dear as a child is to the mother who has brought it forth with pain. He has agonized for it, and received it in answer to prayer, and can present it before the Lord Jesus Christ, saying, "Here, Lord, am I, and the children thou hast given me."

10:54-66 7. Another reason why God requires this sort of prayer is, that it is the only way in which the church can be properly prepared to receive great blessings without being injured by them. When the church is thus prostrated in the dust before God, and is in the depth of agony in prayer, the blessing does them good. While at the same time, if they had received the blessing without this deep prostration of soul, it would have puffed them up with pride. But as it is, it increases their holiness, their love, their humility.

10:55-66 IV. I am to show that such prayer as I have described will avail much. But time fails me to go into a particular detail of the evidence which I intended to bring forward under this head.

10:56-66 Elijah the prophet mourned over the declensions of the house of Israel, and when he saw that no other means were likely to be effectual, to prevent a perpetual going away into idolatry, he prayed that the judgments of God might come upon the guilty nation. He prayed that it might not rain, and God shut up the heavens for three years and six months, till the people were driven to the last extremity. And when he saw that it was time to relent, what does he do? See him go up to the mountain and bow down in prayer. He wished to be alone; and he told his servant to go seven times, while he was agonizing in prayer. The last time, the servant told him there was a little cloud appeared, like a man's hand, and he instantly arose from his knees--the blessing was obtained. The time had come for the calamity to be turned back. "Ah, but," you say, "Elijah was a prophet." Now do not make this objection. They made it in the apostle's days, and what does the apostle say? Why he brought forward this very instance, and the fact that Elijah was a man of like passions with ourselves, as a case of prevailing prayer, and insisted that they should pray so too.

10:57-66 John Knox was a man famous for his power in prayer, so that bloody Queen Mary used to say she feared his prayers more than all the armies of Europe. And events showed that she had reason to do it. He used to be in such an agony for the deliverance of his country that he could not sleep. He had a place in his garden where he used to go to pray. One night he and several friends were praying together, and as they prayed, Knox spoke and said that deliverance had come. He could not tell what had happened, but he felt that something had taken place, for God had heard their prayers. What was it? Why the next news they had was, that Mary was dead!

10:58-66 Take a fact which was related, in my hearing, by a minister. He said, that in a certain town there had been no revival for many years; the church was nearly run out, the youth were all unconverted, and desolation reigned unbroken. There lived in a retired part of the town, an aged man, a blacksmith by trade, and of so stammering a tongue, that it was painful to hear him speak. On one Friday, as he was at work in his shop, alone, his mind became greatly exercised about the state of the church, and of the impenitent. His agony became so great, that he was induced to lay by his work, lock the shop door, and spend the afternoon in prayer.

10:59-66 He prevailed, and on the Sabbath called on the minister, and desired him to appoint a conference meeting. After some hesitation, the minister consented, observing, however, that he feared but few would attend. He appointed it the same evening, at a large private house. When evening came, more assembled than could be accommodated in the house. All was silent for a time, until one sinner broke out in tears, and said, if any one could pray, he begged him to pray for him. Another followed, and another, and still another, until it was found that persons from every quarter of the town were under deep conviction. And what was remarkable was, that they all dated their conviction at the hour when the old man was praying in his shop. A powerful revival followed. Thus this old stammering man prevailed, and, as a prince, had power with God. I could name multitudes of similar cases, but, for want of time, must conclude with a few.

10:60-66 REMARKS. 1. A great deal of prayer is lost, and many people never prevail in prayer, because, when they have desires for particular blessings, they do not follow them up. They may have had desires, benevolent and pure, which were excited by the Spirit of God; and when they have them, they should persevere in prayer, for if they turn off their attention to other objects, they will quench the Spirit. We tell sinners not to turn off their minds from the one object, but to keep their attention fixed there, till they are saved. When you find these holy desires in your minds, take care of two things:

10:61-66 (1.) Do not quench the Spirit.

10:62-66 (2.) Do not be diverted to other objects.

10:63-66 Follow the leadings of the Spirit, till you have offered that effectual fervent prayer that availeth much.

10:64-66 2. Without the spirit of prayer, ministers will do but little good. A minister need not expect much success, unless he prays for it. Sometimes others may have the spirit of prayer, and obtain a blessing on his labors. Generally, however, those preachers are the most successful who have the most of a spirit of prayer themselves.

10:65-66 3. Not only must ministers have the spirit of prayer, but it is necessary that the church should unite in offering that effectual fervent prayer which can prevail with God. You need not expect a blessing, unless you ask for it. "For all these things will I be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it."

10:66-66 Now, my brethren, I have only to ask you, in regard to what I have preached to-night, "Will you do it?" Have you done what I preached to you last Friday evening? Have you gone over with your sins, and confessed them, and got them all out of the way? Can you pray now? And will you join and offer prevailing prayer, that the Spirit of God may come down here?

 

 

 

Back to contents

11:1-68 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION by The Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY LECTURE V THE PRAYER OF FAITH

11:2-68 TEXT. --"Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." --MARK xi. 24.

11:3-68 THESE words have been by some supposed to refer exclusively to the faith of miracles. But there is not the least evidence of this. That the text was not designed by our Saviour to refer exclusively to the faith of miracles, is proved by the connection in which it stands. If you read the chapter, you will see that Christ and his apostles were at this time very much engaged in their work, and very prayerful; and as they returned from their places of retirement in the morning, faint and hungry, they saw a fig-tree at a little distance. It looked very beautiful, and doubtless gave signs of having fruit on it; but when they came nigh, they found nothing on it but leaves. And Jesus said, "No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever.

11:4-68 "And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig-tree dried up from the roots.

11:5-68 "And Peter, calling to remembrance, saith unto him, Master, behold the fig-tree which thou cursedst is withered away.

11:6-68 "And Jesus answering, saith unto them, have faith in God.

11:7-68 "For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith."

11:8-68 Then follow the words of the text:

11:9-68 "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

11:10-68 Our Saviour was desirous of giving his disciples instructions respecting the nature and power of prayer, and the necessity of strong faith in God. He therefore stated a very strong case, a miracle--one so great as the removal of a mountain into the sea. And he tells them, that if they exercise a proper faith in God, they might do such things. But his remarks are not to be limited to faith merely in regard to working miracles, for he goes on to say,

11:11-68 "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any, that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

11:12-68 "But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive you your trespasses."

11:13-68 Does that relate to miracles? When you pray, you must forgive. Is that required only when a man wishes to work a miracle? There are many other promises in the Bible nearly related to this, and speaking nearly the same language, which have been all disposed of in this short-handed way, as referring to the faith employed in miracles. Just as if the faith of miracles was something different from faith in God!

11:14-68 In my last lecture, I dwelt upon the subject of "prevailing prayer;" and you will recollect that I passed over the subject of faith in prayer very briefly, because I wished to reserve it for a separate discussion. The subject to-night is,

11:15-68 THE PRAYER OF FAITH. I propose,

11:16-68 I. To show that faith is an indispensable condition of prevailing prayer.

11:17-68 II. Show what it is that we are to believe when we pray.

11:18-68 III. Show when we are bound to exercise this faith, or to believe that we shall receive the thing that we ask for.

11:19-68 IV. That this kind of faith in prayer always does obtain the blessing sought.

11:20-68 V. Explain how we are to come into the state of mind, in which we can exercise such faith.

11:21-68 VI. Answer several objections, which are sometimes alleged against these views of prayer.

11:22-68 I. That faith is an indispensable condition of prevailing prayer, will not be seriously doubted. There is such a thing as offering benevolent desires, which are acceptable to God as such, that do not include the exercise of faith in regard to the actual reception of those blessings. But such desires are not prevailing prayer, the prayer of faith. God may see fit to grant the things desired, as an act of kindness and love, but it would not be properly in answer to prayer. I am speaking now of the kind of faith that insures the blessing. Do not understand me as saying that there is nothing in prayer that is acceptable to God, or that even obtains the blessing sometimes, without this kind of faith. But I am speaking of the faith which secures the very blessing it seeks. To prove that faith is indispensable to prevailing prayer, it is only necessary to repeat what the apostle James expressly tells us: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed."

11:23-68 II. We are to inquire what we are to believe when we pray.

11:24-68 1. We are to believe in the existence of God--"He that cometh to God must believe that he is" --and in his willingness to answer prayer--"that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him." There are many who believe in the existence of God, and do not believe in the efficacy of prayer. They profess to believe in God, but deny the necessity or influence of prayer.

11:25-68 2. We are to believe that we shall receive--something--what? Not something, or anything, as it happens, but some particular thing we ask for. We are not to think that God is such a being, that if we ask a fish, he will give us a serpent, or if we ask bread, he will give us a stone. But he says, "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." With respect to the faith of miracles, it is plain that they were bound to believe they should receive just what they asked for--that the very thing itself should come to pass. That is what they were to believe. Now what ought men to believe in regard to other blessings? Is it a mere loose idea, that if a man prays for a specific blessing, God will by some mysterious sovereignty give something or other to him, or something to somebody else, somewhere? When a man prays for his children's conversion, is he to believe that either his children will be converted, or somebody's else children, and it is altogether uncertain which? All this is utter nonsense, and highly dishonorable to God. No, we are to believe that we shall receive the very things that we ask for.

11:26-68 III. When are we bound to make this prayer? When are we bound to believe that we shall have the very things we pray for? I answer, When we have evidence of it. Faith must always have evidence. A man cannot believe a thing, unless he sees something which he supposes to be evidence. He is under no obligation to believe, and has no right to believe, a thing will be done, unless he has evidence. It is the height of fanaticism to believe without evidence. The kinds of evidence a man may have are the following:

11:27-68 1. Suppose that God has especially promised the thing. As for instance, God says he is more ready to give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him, than parents are to give bread to their children. Here we are bound to believe that we shall receive it when we pray for it. You have no right to put in an if, and say, "Lord, if it be thy will, give us thy Holy Spirit." This is to insult God. To put an if into God's promise, where God has put none, is tantamount to charging God with being insincere. It is like saying, "O God, if thou art in earnest in making these promises, grant us the blessing we pray for."

11:28-68 I heard of a case where a young convert was the means of teaching a minister a solemn truth on the subject of prayer. She was from a very wicked family, and went to live with a minister. While there, she was hopefully converted, and appeared well. One day she came to the minister's study, while he was in it--a thing she was not in the habit of doing; and he thought there must be something the matter. So he asked her to sit down, and kindly inquired into the state of her religious feelings; she said, she was distressed at the manner in which the old church members prayed for the Spirit. They would pray for the Holy Spirit to come, and would seem to be very much in earnest, and plead the promises of God, and then say, "O Lord, if it be thy will, grant us these blessings for Christ's sake." She thought that saying, "if it be thy will," when God has expressly promised it, was questioning whether God was sincere in his promises. The minister tried to reason her out of it, and of course he succeeded in confounding her. But she was distressed and filled with grief, and said, "I cannot argue the point with you, sir, but it is impressed on my mind that it is wrong, and dishonoring God." And she went away weeping with anguish. The minister saw she was not satisfied, and it led him to look at the matter again, and finally he saw that it was putting in an if where God had put none, and where he had revealed his will expressly, and that it was an insult to God. And he went and told his church they were bound to believe that God was in earnest when he made them a promise. And the spirit of prayer came down upon that church, and a most powerful revival followed.

11:29-68 2. Where there is a general promise in the Scriptures which you may reasonably apply to the particular case before you. If its real meaning includes the particular thing for which you pray, or if you can reasonably apply the principle of the promise to the case, there you have evidence. For instance, suppose it is a time when wickedness prevails greatly, and you are led to pray for God's interference? What promise have you? Why, this one: "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." Here you see is a general promise laying down a principle of God's administration, which you may apply to the case before you, as a warrant for exercising faith in prayer. And if the case come up, to inquire as to the time in which God will grant blessings in answer to prayer, you have this promise: "While they are yet speaking, I will hear."

11:30-68 There is a vast amount of general promises and principles laid down in the Bible, which Christians might make use of, if they would only think. Whenever you are in circumstances to which the promises or principles apply, there you are to use them. A parent finds this promise: "The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children, to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them." Now, here is a promise made to those that possess a certain character. If any parent is conscious that this is his character, he has a rightful ground to apply it to himself and his family. If you have this character, you are bound to make use of this promise in prayer, and believe it, even to your children's children.

11:31-68 If I had time to-night, I could go from one end of the Bible to the other, and produce an astonishing variety of texts that are applicable as promises; enough to prove, that in whatever circumstances a child of God may be placed, God has provided in the Bible some promise, either general or particular, which he can apply, that is precisely suited to his case. Many of God's promises are very broad on purpose to cover much ground. What can be broader than the promise in the text: "Whatsoever things ye desire when ye pray?" What praying Christian is there who has not been surprised at the length, and breadth, and fullness, of the promises of God, when the Spirit has applied them to his heart? Who that lives a life of prayer, has not wondered at his own blindness, in not having before seen and felt the extent of meaning and richness of those promises, when viewed under the light of the Spirit of God? At such times he has been astonished at his own ignorance, and found the Spirit applying the promises and declarations of the Bible in a sense in which he had never dreamed of their being applicable before. The manner in which the apostles applied the promises, and prophecies, and declarations of the Old Testament, places in a strong light the breadth of meaning, and fullness, and richness of the word of God. He that walks in the light of God's countenance, and is filled with the Spirit of God as he ought to be, will often make an appropriation of promises to himself, and an application of them to his own circumstances, and the circumstances of those for whom he prays, that a blind professor of religion would never dream of.

11:32-68 3. Where there is any prophetic declaration, that the thing prayed for is agreeable to the will of God. When it is plain from prophecy that the event is certainly to come, you are bound to believe it, and to make it the ground for your special faith in prayer. If the time is not specified in the Bible, and there is no evidence from other sources, you are not bound to believe that it shall take place now, or immediately. But if the time is specified, or if the time may be learned from the study of the prophecies, and it appears to have arrived, then Christians are under obligations to understand and apply it, by offering the prayer of faith. For instance, take the case of Daniel, in regard to the return of the Jews from captivity. What does he say? "I Daniel understood by books the number of the years whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem." Here he learned from books, that is, he studied his Bible, and in that way understood that the length of the captivity was to be seventy years. What does he do then? Does he sit down upon the promise, and say, "God has pledged himself to put an end to the captivity in seventy years, and the time has expired, and there is no need of doing any thing?" Oh no; he says, "And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes." He set himself at once to pray that the thing might be accomplished. He prayed in faith. But what was he to believe? What he had learned from prophecy. There are many prophecies yet unfulfilled, in the Bible, which Christians are bound to understand, as far as they are capable of understanding them, and then make them the basis of believing prayer. Do not think, as some seem to, that because a thing is foretold in prophecy it is not necessary to pray for it, or that it will come whether Christians pray for it or not. There is no truth in this. God says, in regard to this very class of events, which are revealed in prophecy, "Nevertheless, for all these things will I be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them."

11:33-68 4. When the signs of the times, or the providence of God, indicate that a particular blessing is about to be bestowed, we are bound to believe it, The Lord Jesus Christ blamed the Jews, and called them hypocrites, because they did not understand the indications of Providence. They could understand the signs of the weather, and see when it was about to rain, and when it would be fair weather; but they could not see, from the signs of the times, that the time had come for the Messiah to appear, and build up the house of God. There are many professors of religion who are always stumbling and hanging back, whenever any thing is proposed to be done. They always say, The time has not come--the time has not come; when there are others who pay attention to the signs of the times, and who have spiritual discernment to understand them. These pray in faith for the blessing, and it comes.

11:34-68 5. When the Spirit of God is upon you, and excites strong desires for any blessing, you are bound to pray for it in faith. You are bound to infer, from the fact that you find yourself drawn to desire such a thing while in the exercise of such holy affections as the Spirit of God produces, that these desires are the work of the Spirit. People are not apt to desire with the right kind of desires, unless they are excited by the Spirit of God. The apostle refers to these desires, excited by the Spirit, in his epistle to the Romans, where he says--"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the heart knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints, according to the will of God." Here, then, if you find your self strongly drawn to desire a blessing, you are to understand it as an intimation that God is willing to bestow that particular blessing, and so you are bound to believe it. God does not trifle with his children. He does not go and excite in them a desire for one blessing, to turn them off with something else. But he excites the very desires he is willing to gratify. And when they feel such desires, they are bound to follow them out till they get the blessing.

11:35-68 IV. I will proceed to show that this kind of faith always obtains the object. The text is plain here, to show that you shall receive the very thing prayed for. It does not say, "Believe that ye shall receive, and ye shall either have that or something else equivalent to it." To prove that this faith obtains the very blessing asked, I observe,

11:36-68 1. That otherwise we could never know whether our prayers were answered. And we might continue praying and praying, long after the prayer was answered by some other blessing equivalent to the one we ask for.

11:37-68 2. If we are not bound to expect the very thing we ask for, it must be that the Spirit of God deceives us. Why should he excite us to desire a certain blessing, when he means to grant something else?

11:38-68 3. What is the meaning of this passage, "If a man ask bread, will he give him a stone?" Does not our Saviour rebuke the idea that prayer may be answered by giving something else? What encouragement have we to pray for any thing in particular, if we are to ask for one thing and receive another? Suppose a Christian should pray for a revival here--he would be answered by a revival in China! Or he might pray for a revival, and God would send the cholera, or an earthquake! All the history of the church shows that when God answers prayer, he gives his people the very thing for which their prayers are offered. God confers other blessings, on both saints and sinners, which they do not pray for at all. He sends his rain both upon the just and the unjust, But when he answers prayer, it is by doing what they ask him to do. To be sure, he often more than answers prayer. He grants them not only what they ask, but often connects other blessings with it.

11:39-68 4. Perhaps you may feel a difficulty here about the prayers of Jesus Christ. People may often ask, "Did not he pray in the garden for the cup to be removed, and was his prayer answered?" I answer that this is no difficulty at all, for the prayer was answered. The cup he prayed to be delivered from was removed. This is what the apostle refers to, when he says--"Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, was heard in that he feared." Now I ask, On what occasion was he saved from death, if not on this? Was it the death of the cross he prayed to be delivered from? Not at all. But the case was this. A short time before he was betrayed, we hear him saying to his disciples, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death." Anguish of mind came rolling in upon him, till he was just ready to die, and he went out into the garden to pray, and told his disciples to watch, and then he went by himself and prayed; "O my Father," said he, "if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." In his agony he rose from his knees, and walked the garden, till he came where his disciples were, and there he saw them fast asleep. He awaked them and said, "What, could ye not watch with me one hour?" And then he went again, for he was in such distress that he could not stand still, and again he poured out his soul. And the third time he goes away and prays, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done." And now the third time of praying, there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And his mind became composed, and calm, and the cup was gone. Till then, he had been in such an agony that his sweat was as it were great drops of blood, but now it was all over.

11:40-68 Some have supposed that he was praying against the cross, and begging to be delivered from dying on the cross! Did Christ ever shrink from the cross? Never. He came into the world on purpose to die on the cross, and he never shrunk from it. But he was afraid he should die in the garden before he came to the cross. The burden on his soul was so great, and produced such an agony, that he felt as if he was on the point of dying, His soul was sorrowful even unto death. But after the angel appeared unto him, we hear no more of his agony of soul. He had prayed for relief from that cup, and his prayer was answered. He became calm, and had no more mental suffering till just as he expired. This case, therefore, is no exception. He received the very thing for which he asked, as he says, "I knew thou always hearest me."

11:41-68 But there is another case often brought up, where the apostle Paul prayed against the thorn in the flesh. He says, "I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me." And God answered him, "My grace is sufficient for thee." It is the opinion of Dr. Clarke and others, that Paul's prayer was answered in the very thing for which he prayed. That "the thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan," of which he speaks, was a false apostle who had distracted and perverted the church at Corinth. That Paul prayed against his influence, and the Lord answered him by assuring him, "My grace is sufficient for thee." Who does not know that it was, and that Paul's influence ultimately triumphed?

11:42-68 But admitting that Paul's prayer was not answered by granting the particular thing for which he prayed, in order to make out this case as an exception to the prayer of faith, they are obliged to assume the very thing to be proved; and that is, that the apostle prayed in faith. There is no reason to suppose that Paul would always pray in faith, any more than that any other Christian does. The very manner in which God answered him shows that it was not in faith. He virtually tells him, "That thorn is necessary for your sanctification, and to keep you from being exalted above measure. I sent it upon you in love, and in faithfulness, and you have no business to pray that I should take it away. --LET IT ALONE."

11:43-68 There is not only no evidence that he prayed in faith, but a strong presumption that he did not. From the history it is evident that he had nothing on which to repose faith. There was no express promise, no general promise, that could be applicable, no providence of God, no prophecy, no teaching of the Spirit that God would remove this thorn; but the presumption was that God would not remove it. He had given it to him for a particular purpose. His prayer appears to have been selfish, or at least praying against a mere personal influence. This was not any personal suffering that retarded his usefulness, but on the contrary it was given him to increase his usefulness by keeping him humble; and because on some account he found it inconvenient and mortifying, he set himself to pray out of his own heart, evidently without being led to it by the Spirit of God. But did Paul pray in faith without the Spirit of God, any more than any other man? And will any one undertake to say that the Spirit of God led him to pray that this might be removed, when God himself had given it for a particular purpose, which purpose could not be answered only as the thorn continued with him?

11:44-68 Why then is this made an exception to the general rule laid down in the text, that a man shall receive whatsoever he asks in faith? I was once amazed and grieved at a public examination at a Theological Seminary, to hear them darken counsel by words without knowledge on this subject. This case of Paul, and that of Christ just adverted to, were both of them cited as instances to prove to their students that the prayer of faith would not be answered in the particular thing for which they prayed. Now to teach such sentiments as these in or out of a Theological Seminary, is to trifle with the word of God, and to break the power of the Christian ministry. Has it come to this, that our grave doctors in our seminaries, are employed to instruct Zion's watchmen, to believe and teach that it is not to be expected that the prayer of faith is to be answered in granting the object for which we pray? Oh, tell it not in Gath, nor let the sound reach Askelon! What is to become of the church while such are the views of its gravest and most influential ministers? I would not be unkind nor censorious, but as one of the ministers of Jesus Christ, I feel bound to bear testimony against such a perversion of the word of God.

11:45-68 5. It is evident that the prayer of faith will obtain the blessing, from the fact that our faith rests on evidence that to grant that thing is the will of God. Not evidence that something else will be granted, but that this particular thing will be. But how, then, can we have evidence that this thing will be granted, if another thing is to be granted? People often receive more than they pray for. Solomon prayed for wisdom, and God granted him riches and honor in addition. So a wife sometimes prays for the conversion of her husband, and if she offers the prayer, of faith, God may not only grant that blessing, but convert her child, and her whole family. Blessings sometimes seem to hang together, so that if a Christian gains one he gets them all.

11:46-68 V. I am to show how we are to come into this state of mind, in which we can offer such prayer. People sometimes ask, "How shall I offer such prayer? Shall I say, Now I will pray in faith for such and such a blessing?" No, the human mind is not moved in this way. You might just as well say, "Now I will call up a spirit from the bottomless pit." I answer,

11:47-68 1. You must first obtain evidence that God will bestow the blessing. How did Daniel make out to offer the prayer of faith? He searched the Scriptures. Now, you need not let your Bible lie on a shelf, and expect God to reveal his promises to you. Search the Scriptures, and see where you can get either a general or special promise, or a prophecy, on which you can plant your feet when you pray. Go through the Bible, and you will find it full of such things--precious promises, which you may plead in faith. You never need to want for objects of prayer, if you will do as Daniel did. Persons are staggered on this subject, because they never make a proper use of the Bible.

11:48-68 A curious case occurred in one of the towns in the western part of this state. There was a revival there. A certain clergyman came to visit the place, and heard a great deal said about the Prayer of Faith. He was staggered at what they said, for he had never regarded the subject in the light they did. He inquired about it of the minister that was laboring there. The minister requested him, in a kind spirit, to go home, and take his Testament, look out the passages that refer to prayer, and go round to his most praying people, and ask them how they understood these passages. He said he would do it, for though these views were new to him, he was willing to learn. He did it, and went to his praying men and women, and read the passages without note or comment, and asked what they thought. He found their plain common sense had led them to understand these passages, and to believe that they mean just as they say. This affected him, and then the fact of his going round and presenting the promises before their minds awakened the spirit of prayer in them, and a revival followed.

11:49-68 I could name many individuals who have set themselves to examine the Bible on this subject, and before they got half through with it have been filled with the spirit of prayer. They found that God meant by his promises just what a plain, common sense man would understand them to mean. I advise you to try it. You have Bibles; look them over, and whenever you find a promise that you can use, fasten it in your mind before you go on; and I venture to predict you will not get through the book without finding out that God's promises mean just what they say.

11:50-68 2. Cherish the good desires you have. Christians very often lose their good desires by not attending to this; and then their prayers are mere words, without any desire or earnestness at all. The least longing of desire must be cherished. If your body was likely to freeze, and you had even the least spark of fire, how you would cherish it! So if you have the least desire for a blessing, let it be ever so small, do not trifle it away. Do not grieve the Spirit. Do not be diverted. Do not lose good desires by levity, by censoriousness, by worldly-mindedness. Watch and pray, and follow it up, or you will never pray the prayer of faith.

11:51-68 3. Entire consecration to God is indispensable to the prayer of faith. You must live a holy life, and consecrate all to God--your time, talents, influence--all you have, and all you are, to be his entirely. Read the lives of pious men, and you will be struck with this fact: that they used to set apart times to renew their covenant, and dedicate themselves anew to God; and whenever they have done so, a blessing has always followed immediately. If I had Edwards here to-night, I could read passages showing how it was in his days.

11:52-68 4. You must persevere. You are not to pray for a thing once, and then cease, and call that the prayer of faith. Look at Daniel. He prayed twenty-one days, and did not cease till he had obtained the blessing. He set his heart and his face unto the Lord, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: and he held on three weeks, and then the answer came. And why did not it come before? God sent an Archangel to bear the message, but the devil hindered him all this time. See what Christ says in the parable of the unjust judge, and the parable of the loaves. What does he teach us by them? Why, that God will grant answers to prayer when it is importunate. "Shall not God avenge his own elect, who cry day and night unto him?"

11:53-68 5. If you would pray in faith, be sure to walk every day with God. If you do, he will tell you what to pray for. Be filled with his Spirit, and he will give you objects enough to pray for. He will give you as much of the spirit of prayer as you have strength of body to bear.

11:54-68 Said a good man to me, "Oh, I am dying for the want of strength to pray. My body is crushed, the world is on me, and how can I forbear praying!" I have known that man go to bed absolutely sick, for weakness and faintness, under the pressure. And I have known him pray as if he would do violence to heaven, and then seen the blessing come as plainly in answer to his prayer as if it was revealed, so that no person would doubt it any more than if God had spoken from heaven. Shall I tell you how he died? He prayed more and more, and he used to take the map of the world before him and pray, and look over the different countries and pray for them, till he absolutely expired in his room praying. Blessed man! He was the reproach of the ungodly and of carnal, unbelieving professors, but he was the favorite of heaven, and a prevailing prince in prayer.

11:55-68 VI. I will refer to some objections which are brought forward against this doctrine.

11:56-68 1. "It leads to fanaticism and amounts to a new revelation." Why should this be a stumbling block? They must have evidence to believe before they can offer the prayer of faith. And if God gives other evidence besides the senses, where is the objection? True, there is a sense in which this is a new revelation; it is making known a thing by his Spirit. But it is the very revelation which God has promised to give. It is just the one we are to expect, if the Bible is true; that when we know not what we ought to pray for, according to the will of God, his Spirit helps our infirmities, and teaches us the very thing to pray for. Shall we deny the teaching of the Spirit?

11:57-68 2. It is often asked, "Is it our duty to pray the prayer of faith for the salvation of all men?" I answer, No; for that is not a thing according to the will of God. It is directly contrary to his revealed will. We have no evidence that all will be saved. We should feel benevolently to all, and, in itself considered, desire their salvation. But God has revealed it to us that many of the human race shall be damned. And it cannot be a duty to believe that they shall all be saved, in the face of a revelation to the contrary. In Christ's prayer, in the seventeenth chapter of John, he expressly said, "I pray not for the world but for those thou hast given me."

11:58-68 3. But say some, "If we were to offer this prayer for all men, would not all men be saved? " I answer, Yes, and so they would be saved, if they would all repent. But they will not. Neither will Christians offer the prayer of faith for all, because there is no evidence on which to ground a belief that God intends to save all men.

11:59-68 4. But you ask, "For whom are we to offer this prayer? We want to know in what cases, for what persons, and places, and at what times, etc., we are to make the prayer of faith." I answer, as I have already answered, When you have evidence, from promises, or prophecies, or providences, or the leadings of the Spirit, that God will do the things you pray for.

11:60-68 5. "How is it that so many prayers of pious parents for their children are not answered? Did you not say there was a promise which pious parents may apply to their children? Why is it, then, that so many pious praying parents have had impenitent children, that died in their sins?" Granted that it is so, what does it prove? Let God be true, but every man a liar. Which shall we believe, that God's promise has failed, or that these parents did not do their duty? Perhaps they did not believe the promise, or did not believe there was any such thing as the prayer of faith. Wherever you find a professor that does not believe in any such prayer, you find, as a general thing, that he has children and domestics yet in their sins. And no wonder, unless they are converted in answer to the prayers of somebody else.

11:61-68 6. "Will not these views lead to fanaticism? Will not many people think they are offering the prayer of faith when they are not?" That is the same objection that the Unitarians make against the doctrine of regeneration--that many people think they have been born again when they have not. It is an argument against all spiritual religion whatever. Some think they have it when they have not, and are fanatics. But there are those who know what the prayer of faith is, just as there are those who know what spiritual experience is, though it may stumble cold-hearted professors who know it not. Even ministers often lay themselves open to the rebuke which Christ gave to Nicodemus: "Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?"

11:62-68 REMARKS. 1. Persons who have not known by experience what this is, have great reason to doubt their piety. This is by no means uncharitable. Let them examine themselves. It is to be feared that they understand prayer as Nicodemus did the new birth. They have not walked with God, and you cannot describe it to them, any more than you can describe a beautiful painting to a blind man who cannot see colors. Many professors can understand about the prayer of faith just as much as a blind man does of colors.

11:63-68 2. There is reason to believe millions are in hell because professors have not offered the prayer of faith. When they had promises under their eye, they have not had faith enough to use them. Thus parents let their children, and even baptized children, go down to hell because they would not believe the promises of God. Doubtless many women's husbands have gone to hell, when they might have prevailed with God in prayer and saved them. The signs of the times and the indications of Providence were favorable, perhaps, and the Spirit of God prompted desires for their salvation, and they had evidence enough to believe that God was ready to grant a blessing, and if they had only prayed in faith, God would have granted it; but God turned it away because they would not discern the signs of the times.

11:64-68 3. You say, "This leaves the church under a great load of guilt." True, it does so; and no doubt multitudes will stand up before God covered all over with the blood of souls that have been lost through their want of faith. The promises of God, accumulated in their Bibles, will stare them in the face and weigh them down to hell.

11:65-68 4. Many professors of religion live so far from God that to talk to them about the prayer of faith is all unintelligible. Very often the greatest offence possible to them is to preach about this kind of prayer.

11:66-68 5. I want to ask the professors who are here a few questions. Do you know what it is to pray in faith? Did you ever pray in this way? Have you ever prayed till your mind was assured the blessing would come--till you felt that rest in God, that confidence, as perfect as if you saw God come down from heaven to give it to you? If not, you ought to examine your foundation. How can you live without praying in faith at all? How do you live in view of your children, while you have no assurance whatever that they will be converted? One would think you would go deranged. I knew a father at the West; he was a good man, but he had erroneous views respecting the prayer of faith; and his whole family of children were grown up and not one of them converted. At length his son sickened and seemed about to die. The father prayed, but the son grew worse and seemed sinking into the grave without hope. The father prayed till his anguish was unutterable. He went at last and prayed--(there seemed no prospect of his son's life)--but he poured out his soul as if he would not be denied, till at length he got an assurance that his son would not only live, but be converted; and not only this one, but his whole family, would be converted to God. He came into the house and told his family his son would not die. They were astonished at him. "I tell you," says he, "he won't die. And no child of mine will ever die in his sins.["] That man's children were all converted years ago.

11:67-68 What do you think of that? Was that fanaticism? If you believe so, it is because you know nothing about the matter. Do you pray so? Do you live in such a manner that you can offer such prayer for your children? I know that the children of professors may sometimes be converted in answer to the prayers of somebody else. But ought you to live so? Dare you trust to the prayers of others when God calls you to sustain this most important relation to your children?

11:68-68 Finally--See what combined effort is made to dispose of the Bible. The wicked are for throwing away the threatenings of the Bible, and the church the promises. And what is there left? Between them, they leave the Bible a blank. I say it in love: What are our Bibles good for if we do not lay hold on their precious promises, and use them as the ground of our faith when we pray for the blessing of God? You had better send your Bibles to the heathen, where they will do some good, if you are not going to believe and use them. I have no evidence that there is much of this prayer now in this church or in this city. And what will become of it? What will become of your children? your neighbors? the wicked?

 

 

 

Back to contents

12:1-70 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION by The Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY LECTURE VI THE SPIRIT OF PRAYER

12:2-70 TEXT. --Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints, according to the will of God. --ROMANS viii. 26, 27. My last lecture[s] but one was on the subject of Effectual Prayer; in which I observed that one of the most important attributes of effectual or prevailing prayer is FAITH. This was so extensive a subject that I reserved it for a separate discussion. And accordingly, I lectured last Friday evening on the subject of Faith in Prayer, or, as it is termed, the Prayer of Faith. It was my intention to discuss the subject in a single lecture. But as I was under the necessity of condensing so much on some points, it occurred to me, and was mentioned by others, that there might be some questions which people would ask, that ought to be answered more fully, especially as the subject is one on which there is so much darkness. One grand design in preaching is to exhibit the truth in such a way as to answer the questions which would naturally arise in the minds of those who read the Bible with attention, and who want to know what it means, so that they can put it in practice. In explaining the text, I propose to show,

12:3-70 I. What Spirit is here spoken of, "The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities."

12:4-70 II. What that Spirit does for us.

12:5-70 III. Why he does what the text declares him to do.

12:6-70 IV. How he accomplishes it.

12:7-70 V. The degree in which he influences the minds of those who are under his influence.

12:8-70 VI. How his influences are to be distinguished from the influences of evil spirits, or from the suggestions of our own minds.

12:9-70 VII. How we are to obtain this agency of the Holy Spirit.

12:10-70 VIII. Who have a right to expect to enjoy his influences in this matter--or for whom the Spirit does the things spoken of in the text.

12:11-70 I. What Spirit is it that is spoken of in the text?

12:12-70 Some have supposed that the Spirit spoken of in the text means our own spirit--our own mind. But a little attention to the text will show plainly that this is not the meaning. "The Spirit helpeth our infirmities" would then read, "Our own spirit helpeth the infirmities of our own spirit,"--and "Our own spirit likewise maketh intercession for our own spirit." You see you can make no sense of it on that supposition. It is evident from the manner in which the text is introduced, that the Spirit referred to is the Holy Ghost. "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father, The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." And the text is plainly speaking of the same Spirit.

12:13-70 II. What the Spirit does.

12:14-70 Answer--He intercedes for the saints. "He maketh intercession for us," and "helpeth our infirmities," when "we know not what to pray for as we ought." He helps Christians to pray according to the will of God, or for the things that God desires them to pray for.

12:15-70 III. Why is the Holy Spirit thus employed?

12:16-70 Because of our ignorance. Because we know not what we should pray for as we ought. We are so ignorant both of the will of God, revealed in the Bible, and of his unrevealed will, as we ought to learn it from his providence. Mankind are vastly ignorant both of the promises and prophecies of the Bible, and blind to the providence of God. And they are still more in the dark about those points of which God has said nothing but by the leadings of his Spirit. You recollect that I named these four sources of evidence on which to ground faith in prayer--promises, prophecies, providences, and the Holy Spirit. When all other means fail of leading us to the knowledge of what we ought to pray for, the Spirit does it.

12:17-70 IV. How does he make intercession for the saints? In what mode does he operate, so as to help our infirmities?

12:18-70 1. Not by superseding the use of our faculties. It is not by praying for us, while we do nothing. He prays for us, by exciting our own faculties. Not that he immediately suggests to us words, or guides our language. But he enlightens our minds, and makes the truth take hold of our souls. He leads us to consider the state of the church, and the condition of sinners around us. The manner in which he brings the truth before the mind, and keeps it there till it produces its effect, we cannot tell. But we can know as much as this--that he leads us to a deep consideration of the state of things; and the result of this, the natural and philosophical result, is, deep feeling. When the Spirit brings the truth up before a man's mind, there is only one way in which he can keep from deep feeling. That is, by turning away his thoughts, and leading his mind to think of other things. Sinners, when the Spirit of God brings the truth before them, must feel. They feel wrong, as long as they remain impenitent. So, if a man is a Christian, and the Holy Spirit brings a subject into warm contact with his heart, it is just as impossible he should not feel, as it is that your hand should not feel if you put it into the fire. If the Spirit of God leads him to dwell on things calculated to excite warm and overpowering feelings, and he is not excited by them, it proves that he has no love for souls, nothing of the Spirit of Christ, and knows nothing about Christian experience.

12:19-70 2. The Spirit makes the Christian feel the value of souls, and the guilt and danger of sinners in their present condition. It is amazing how dark and stupid Christians often are about this. Even Christian parents let their children go right down to hell before their eyes, and scarcely seem to exercise a single feeling, or put forth an effort to save them. And why? Because they are so blind to what hell is, so unbelieving about the Bible, so ignorant of the precious promises which God has made to faithful parents. They grieve the Spirit of God away, and it is in vain to try to make them pray for their children, while the Spirit of God is away from them.

12:20-70 3. He leads Christians to understand and apply the promises of Scripture. It is wonderful that in no age have Christians been able fully to apply the promises of Scripture to the events of life, as they go along. This is not because the promises themselves are obscure. The promises themselves are plain enough. But there has always been a wonderful disposition to overlook the Scriptures, as a source of light respecting the passing events of life. How astonished the apostles were at Christ's application of so many prophecies to himself! They seemed to be continually ready to exclaim, "Astonishing! Can it be so? We never understood it before." Who, that has witnessed the manner in which the apostles, influenced and inspired by the Holy Ghost, applied passages of the Old Testament to gospel times, has not been amazed at the richness of meaning which they found in the Scriptures? So it has been with many a Christian; while deeply engaged in prayer, he has seen that passages of Scripture are appropriate which he never thought of before, as having any such application.

12:21-70 I once knew an individual who was in great spiritual darkness. He had retired for prayer, resolved that he would not desist till he had found the Lord. He kneeled down and tried to pray. All was dark, and he could not pray. He rose from his knees, and stood for a while, but he could not give it up, for he had promised that he would not let the sun go down before he had given himself to God. He knelt again, but it was all dark, and his heart was hard as before. He was nearly in despair, and said in agony, "I have grieved the Spirit of God away, and there is no promise for me. I am shut out from the presence of God." But his resolution was formed not to give over, and again he knelt down. He had said but a few words, when this passage came into his mind as fresh as if he had just read it; it seemed as if he had just been reading the words, "Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." Jer. xxix. 13. Though this promise was in the Old Testament, and was addressed to the Jews, it was still as applicable to him as to them. And it broke his heart, like the hammer of the Lord, in a moment. He prayed, and rose up, happy in God. Thus it often happens when professors of religion are praying for their children. Sometimes they pray, and are in darkness and doubt, feeling as if there was no foundation for faith, and no special promises for the children of believers. But while they are pleading, God has shown them the full meaning of some promise, and their soul has rested on it as on the mighty arm of God. I once heard of a widow who was greatly exercised about her children, till this passage was brought powerfully to her mind: "Leave thy fatherless children with me, I will preserve them alive." She saw it had an extended meaning, and she was enabled to lay hold on it, as it were, with her hands; and then she prevailed in prayer, and her children were converted. The Holy Spirit was sent into the world by the Saviour, to guide his people and instruct them, and bring things to their remembrance, as well as to convince the world of sin.

12:22-70 4. The Spirit leads Christians to desire and pray for things of which nothing is specifically said in the word of God. Take the case of an individual. That God is willing to save is a general truth. So it is a general truth that he is willing to answer prayer. But how shall I know the will of God respecting that individual, whether I can pray in faith according to the will of God for the conversion and salvation of that individual, or not? Here the agency of the Spirit comes in, to lead the minds of God's people to pray for those individuals, and at those times, when God is prepared to bless them. When we know not what to pray for, the Holy Spirit leads the mind to dwell on some object, to consider its situation, to realize its value, and to feel for it, and pray, and travail in birth, till the object is attained. This sort of experience I know is less common in cities than it is in some parts of the country, because of the infinite number of things to divert the attention and grieve the Spirit in cities. I have had much opportunity to know how it has been in some sections. I was acquainted with an individual who used to keep a list of persons that he was specially concerned for; and I have had the opportunity to know a multitude of persons for whom he became thus interested, who were immediately converted. I have seen him pray for persons on his list, when he was literally in an agony for them; and have sometimes known him call on some other person to help him pray for such a one. I have known his mind to fasten on an individual of hardened, abandoned character, and who could not be reached in any ordinary way. In a town in the north part of this State, where there was a revival, there was a certain individual who was a most violent and outrageous opposer. He kept a tavern, and used to delight in swearing at a desperate rate, whenever there were Christians within hearing, on purpose to hurt their feelings. He was so bad, that one man said he believed he should have to sell his place, or give it away, and move out of town, for he could not live near a man that swore so. This good man, that I was speaking of, was passing through the town, and heard of the case, and was very much grieved and distressed for the individual. He took him on his praying list. The case weighed on his mind, when he was asleep and when he was awake. He kept thinking about him, and praying for him for days. And the first we knew of it, this ungodly man came into a meeting, and got up and confessed his sins, and poured out his soul. His bar-room immediately became the place where they held prayer meetings. In this manner the Spirit of God leads individual Christians to pray for things which they would not pray for, unless they were led by the Spirit. And thus they pray for things according to the will of God.

12:23-70 5. By some, this may be said to be a revelation from God. I do not doubt that great evil has been done by saying that this kind of influence amounts to a new revelation. And many people will be afraid of it if they hear it called a new revelation, so that they will not stop to inquire what it means, or whether the Scriptures teach it or not. They suppose it to be a complete answer to the idea. But the plain truth of the matter is, that the Spirit leads a man to pray. And if God leads a man to pray for an individual, the inference from the Bible is, that God designs to save that individual. If we find by comparing our state of mind with the Bible, that we are led by the Spirit to pray for an individual, we have good evidence to believe that God is prepared to bless him.

12:24-70 6. By giving to Christians a spiritual discernment respecting the movements and developments of Providence. Devoted, praying Christians often see these things so clearly, and look so far ahead, as greatly to stumble others. They sometimes almost seem to prophesy. No doubt persons may be deluded, and sometimes are so, by leaning to their own understanding when they think they are led by the Spirit. But there is no doubt that a Christian may be made to see and to discern clearly the signs of the times, so as to understand, by providence, what to expect, and thus to pray for it in faith. Thus they are often led to expect a revival, and to pray for it in faith, when nobody else can see the least signs of it.

12:25-70 There was a woman in New Jersey, in a place where there had been a revival. She was very positive there was going to be another. She insisted upon it that they had had the former rain, and were now going to have the latter rain. She wanted to have conference meetings appointed. But the minister and elders saw nothing to encourage it, and would do nothing. She saw they were blind, and so she went forward and got a carpenter to make seats for her, for she said she would have meetings in her own house. There was certainly going to be a revival. She had scarcely opened her doors for meetings, before the Spirit of God came down in great power. And these sleepy church members found themselves surrounded all at once with convicted sinners. And they could only say, "Surely the Lord was in this place, and we knew it not." The reason why such persons understand the indication of God's will is not because of the superior wisdom that is in them, but because the Spirit of God leads them to see the signs of the times. And this, not by revelation; but they are led to see that converging of providences to a single point, which produces in them a confident expectation of a certain result.

12:26-70 V. In what degree are we to expect the Spirit of God to affect the minds of believers? The text says, "The Spirit maketh intercession with groanings that cannot be uttered." The meaning of this I understand to be, that the Spirit excites desires too great to be uttered except by groans. Something that language cannot utter--making the soul too full to utter its feelings by words, where the person can only groan them out to God, who understands the language of the heart.

12:27-70 VI. How are we to know whether it is the Spirit of God that influences our minds or not?

12:28-70 1. Not by feeling that some external influence or agency is applied to us. We are not to expect to feel our minds in direct physical contact with God. If such a thing can be, we know of no way in which it can be made sensible. We know that we exercise our minds freely, and that our thoughts are exercised on something that excites our feelings. But we are not to expect a miracle to be wrought, as if we were led by the hand, sensibly, or like something whispered in the ear, or any miraculous manifestation of the will of God. People often grieve the Spirit away, because they do not harbor him and cherish his influences. Sinners often do this ignorantly. They suppose that if they were under conviction by the Spirit, they should have such and such mysterious feelings, a shock would come upon them, which they could not mistake. Many Christians are so ignorant of the Spirit's influences, and have thought so little about having his assistance in prayer, that when they have them they do not know it, and so do not cherish, and yield to them, and preserve them. We are conscious of nothing in the case, only the movement of our own minds. There is nothing else that can be felt. We are merely aware that our thoughts are intensely employed on a certain subject. Christians are often unnecessarily misled and distressed on this point, for fear they have not the Spirit of God. They feel intensely, but they know not what makes them feel. They are distressed about sinners; but why should they not be distressed, when they think of their condition? They keep thinking about them all the time, and why shouldn't they be distressed? Now, the truth is, that the very fact that you are thinking upon them is evidence that the Spirit of God is leading you. Do you not know that the greater part of the time these things do not affect you so? The greater part of the time you do not think much about the case of sinners. You know their salvation is always equally important. But at other times, even when you are quite at leisure, your mind is entirely dark, and vacant of any feeling for them. But now, although you may be busy about other things, you think, you pray, and feel intensely for them, even while you are about business that at other times would occupy all your thoughts. Now, almost every thought you have is, "God have mercy on them." Why is this? Why, their case is placed in a strong light before your mind. Do you ask what it is that leads your mind to exercise benevolence for sinners, and to agonize in prayer for them? What can it be but the Spirit of God? There are no devils that would lead you so. If your feelings are truly benevolent, you are to consider it as the Holy Spirit leading you to pray for things according to the will of God.

12:29-70 2. Try the spirits by the Bible. People are sometimes led away by strange fantasies and crazy impulses. If you compare them faithfully with the Bible, you never need be led astray. You can always know whether your feelings are produced by the Spirit's influences, by comparing your desires with the spirit and temper of religion as described in the Bible. The Bible commands you to try the spirits. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they be of God." Observe not only your own feelings in regard to your fellow-men, but also, and more especially, the teachings of the Spirit within you respecting our Lord Jesus Christ. "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God; and this is that spirit of Antichrist whereof ye have heart that it shall come; and even now already it is in the world."

12:30-70 VII. How shall we get this influence of the Spirit of God?

12:31-70 1. It must be sought by fervent, believing prayer. Christ says, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him!" Does any one say, I have prayed for him, and he does not come? It is because you do not pray aright. "Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." You do not pray from right motives. A professor of religion, and a principal member in a church, once asked a minister what he thought of his case; he had been praying week after week for the Spirit, and had not received him. The minister asked him what his motive was in praying. He said he wanted to be happy. He knew those who had the Spirit were happy, and he wanted to enjoy his mind as they did. Why, the devil himself might pray so. That is mere selfishness. The man turned away in anger. He saw that he had never known what it was to pray. He was convinced he was a hypocrite, and that his prayers were all selfish, dictated only by a desire for his own happiness. David prayed that God would uphold him by his free Spirit, that he might teach transgressors and turn sinners to God. A Christian should pray for the Spirit that he may be the more useful and glorify God more; not that he himself may be more happy. This man saw clearly where he had been in error, and he was converted. Perhaps many here have been just so. You ought to examine and see if all your prayers are not selfish.

12:32-70 2. Use the means adapted to stir up your minds on the subject, and to keep your attention fixed there. If a man prays for the Spirit, and then diverts his mind to other objects; uses no other means, but goes right away to worldly objects; he tempts God, he swings loose from his object, and it would be a miracle if he should get what he prays for. How is a sinner to get conviction? Why, by thinking of his sins. That is the way for a Christian to obtain deep feeling, by thinking on the object. God is not going to pour these things on you without any effort of your own. You must cherish the slightest impressions. Take the Bible, and go over the passages that show the condition and prospects of the world. Look at the world, look at your children, and your neighbors, and see their condition while they remain in sin, and persevere in prayer and effort till you obtain the blessing of the Spirit of God to dwell in you. This was the way, doubtless, that Dr. Watts came to have the feelings which he has described in the second Hymn of the second Book, which you would do well to read after you go home.

12:33-70 My thoughts on awful subjects roll, Damnation and the dead: What horrors seize the guilty soul Upon a dying bed!

12:34-70 Lingering about these mortal shores, She makes a long delay, Till, like a flood, with rapid force Death sweeps the wretch away.

12:35-70 Then, swift and dreadful, she descends Down to the fiery coast, Amongst abominable fiends, Herself a frighted ghost.

12:36-70 There endless crowds of sinners lie, And darkness makes their chains; Tortured with keen despair they cry, Yet wait for fiercer pains.

12:37-70 Not all their anguish and their blood For their past guilt atones, Nor the compassion of a God Shall hearken to their groans.

12:38-70 Amazing grace, that kept my breath, Nor bid my soul remove, Till I had learned my Saviour's death, And well insured his love!

12:39-70 Look, as it were, through a telescope that will bring it up near to you; look into hell, and hear them groan; then turn the glass upwards and look at heaven, and see the saints there, in their white robes, with their harps in their hands, and hear them sing the song of redeeming love; and ask yourself--Is it possible, that I should prevail with God to elevate the sinner there? Do this, and if you are not a wicked man, and a stranger to God, you will soon have as much of the spirit of prayer as your body can sustain.

12:40-70 3. You must watch unto prayer. You must keep a look out, and see if God grants the blessing when you ask him. People sometimes pray, and never look to see if the prayer is granted. Be careful also, not to grieve the Spirit of God. Confess and forsake your sins. God will never lead you as one of his hidden ones, and let you into his secrets, unless you confess and forsake your sins. Not be always confessing and never forsake, but confess and forsake too. Make redress wherever you have committed an injury. You cannot expect to get the spirit of prayer first, and then repent. You cannot fight it through so. Professors of religion, who are proud and unyielding, and justify themselves, never will force God to dwell with them.

12:41-70 4. Aim to obey perfectly the written law. In other words, have no fellowship with sin. Aim at being entirely above the world; "Be ye perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect." If you sin at all, let it be your daily grief. The man who does not aim at this, means to live in sin. Such a man need not expect God's blessing, for he is not sincere in desiring to keep all his commandments.

12:42-70 VIII. For whom does the Spirit intercede?

12:43-70 Answer--He maketh intercession for the saints, for all saints, for any who are saints. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."--Rom viii. 26,27.

12:44-70 REMARKS. 1. Why do you suppose it is, that so little stress is laid on the influences of the Spirit in prayer, when so much is said about his influences in conversion? Many people are amazingly afraid the Spirit's influences will be left out. They lay great stress on the Spirit's influences in converting sinners. But how little is said, how little is printed, about his influence in prayer! How little complaining that people do not make enough of the Spirit's influences in leading Christians to pray according to the will of God! Let it never be forgotten, that no Christian ever prays aright, unless led by the Spirit. He has natural power to pray, and so far as the will of God is revealed, is able to do it; but he never does, unless the Spirit of God influences him. Just as sinners are able to repent, but never do, unless influenced by the Spirit.

12:45-70 2. This subject lays open the foundation of the difficulty felt by many persons on the subject of the Prayer of Faith. They object to the idea that faith in prayer is a belief that we shall receive the very things for which we ask; and insist that there can be no foundation or evidence upon which to rest such a belief. In a sermon published a few years since, upon this subject, the writer brings forward this difficulty, and presents it in its full strength. I have, says he, no evidence that the thing prayed for will be granted, until I have prayed in faith; because, praying in faith is the condition upon which it is promised. And of course I cannot claim the promise, until I have fulfilled the condition. Now, if the condition is, that I am to believe I shall receive the very blessing for which I ask, it is evident that the promise is given upon the performance of an impossible condition, and is of course a mere nullity. The promise would amount to just this: You shall have whatsoever you ask, upon the condition that you first believe that you shall receive it. Now, I must fulfill the condition before I can claim the promise. But I can have no evidence that I shall receive it until I have believed that I shall receive it. This reduces me to the necessity of believing that I shall receive it before I have any evidence that I shall receive it--which is impossible.

12:46-70 The whole force of this objection arises out of the fact, that the Spirit's influences are entirely overlooked, which he exerts in leading an individual to the exercise of faith. It has been supposed that the passage in Mark xi. 22 and 24, with other kindred promises on the subject of the Prayer of Faith, relate exclusively to miracles. But suppose this were true. I would ask, What were the apostles to believe, when they prayed for a miracle? Were they to believe that the precise miracle would be performed for which they prayed? It is evident that they were. In the verses just alluded to, Christ says, "For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but SHALL BELIEVE THAT THESE THINGS WHICH HE SAITH SHALL COME TO PASS, he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, BELIEVE THAT YE RECEIVE THEM, and ye shall have them." Here it is evident, that the thing to be believed, and which they were not to doubt in their heart, was, that they should have the very blessing for which they prayed. Now the objection above stated, lies in all its force against this kind of faith, when praying for the performance of a miracle. If it be impossible to believe this in praying for any other blessing. it was equally so in praying for a miracle. I might ask, Could an apostle believe that the miracle would be wrought, before he had fulfilled the condition? inasmuch as the condition was, that he should believe that he should receive that for which he prayed. Either the promise is a nullity and a deception, or there is a possibility of performing the condition.

12:47-70 Now, as I have said, the whole difficulty lies in the fact that the Spirit's influences are entirely overlooked, and that faith which is of the operation of God, is left out of the question. If the objection is good against praying for any object, it is as good against praying in faith for the performance of a miracle. The fact is, that the Spirit of God could give evidence, on which to believe that any particular miracle would be granted; could lead the mind to a firm reliance upon God, and trust that the blessing sought would be obtained. And so at the present day he can give the same assurance, in praying for any blessing that we need. Neither in the one case nor the other, are the influences of the Spirit miraculous. Praying is the same thing, whether you pray for the conversion of a soul, or for a miracle. Faith is the same thing in the one case as in the other; it only terminates on a different object; in the one case on the conversion of a soul, and in the other on the performance of a miracle. Nor is faith exercised in the one more than in the other, without reference to a promise; and a general promise may with the same propriety be applied to the conversion of a soul as to the performance of a miracle. And it is equally true in the one case as the other, that no man ever prays in faith without being influenced by the Spirit of God. And if the Spirit could lead the mind of an apostle to exercise faith in regard to a miracle, he can lead the mind of another Christian to exercise faith in regard to receiving any other blessing, by a reference to the same general promise.

12:48-70 Should any one ask, "When are we under an obligation to believe that we shall receive the blessing for which we ask?" I answer:

12:49-70 (1.) When there is a particular promise, specifying the particular blessing: as where we pray for the Holy Spirit. This blessing is particularly named in the promise, and here we have evidence, and are bound to believe, whether we have any Divine influence or not; just as sinners are bound to repent whether the Spirit strives with them or not. Their obligation rests, not upon the Spirit's influences, but upon the powers of moral agency which they possess; upon their ability to do their duty. And while it is true that not one of them ever will repent without the influences of the Spirit, still they have power to do so, and are under obligation to do so, whether the Spirit strives with them or not. So with the Christian. He is bound to believe where he has evidence. And although he never does believe, even where he has an express promise, without the Spirit of God, yet his obligation to do so rests upon his ability, and not upon the Divine influence.

12:50-70 (2.) Where God makes a revelation by his providence, we are bound to believe in proportion to the clearness of the providential indication.

12:51-70 (3.) So where there is a prophecy, we are bound also to believe. But in neither of these cases do we, in fact, believe, without the Spirit of God.

12:52-70 But where there is neither promise, providence, nor prophecy, on which to repose our faith, we are under no obligation to believe, unless, as I have shown in this discourse, the Spirit gives us evidence, by creating desires, and by leading us to pray for a particular object. In the case of those promises of a general nature, where we are honestly at a loss to know in what particular cases to apply them, it may be considered rather as our privilege than as our duty, in many instances, to apply them to particular cases; but whenever the Spirit of God leads us to apply them to a particular object, then it becomes our duty so to apply them. In this case, God explains his own promise, and shows how he designed it should be applied. And then our obligation to make this application, and to believe in reference to this particular object, remains in full force.

12:53-70 3. Some have supposed that Paul prayed in faith for the removal of the thorn in the flesh, and that is was not granted. But they cannot prove that Paul prayed in faith. The presumption is all on the other side, as I have shown in a former lecture. He had neither promise, nor prophecy, nor providence, nor the Spirit of God, to lead him to believe. The whole objection goes on the ground that the apostle might pray in faith without being led by the Spirit. This is truly a shorthand method of disposing of the Spirit's influences in prayer. Certainly, to assume that he prayed in faith, is to assume either that he prayed in faith without being led by the Spirit, or that the Spirit of God led him to pray for that which was not according to the will of God.

12:54-70 I have dwelt the more on this subject, because I want to have it made so plain, that you will all be careful not to grieve the Spirit. I want you to have high ideas of the Holy Ghost, and to feel that nothing good will be done without his influences. No praying or preaching will be of any avail without him. If Jesus Christ were to come down here and preach to sinners, not one would be converted without the Spirit. Be careful then not to grieve him away, by slighting or neglecting his heavenly influences when he invites you to pray.

12:55-70 4. In praying for an object, it is necessary to persevere till you obtain it. Oh, with what eagerness Christians sometimes pursue a sinner in their prayers, when the Spirit of God has fixed their desires on him! No miser pursues his gold with so fixed a determination.

12:56-70 5. The fear of being led by impulses has done great injury, by not being duly considered. A person's mind may be led by an ignis fatuus. But we do wrong if we let the fear of impulses lead us to resist the good impulses of the Holy Ghost. No wonder Christians do not have the spirit of prayer, if they are unwilling to take the trouble to distinguish; and so reject or resist all impulses and all leadings of invisible agents. A great deal has been said about fanaticism, that is very unguarded, and that causes many minds to reject the leadings of the Spirit of God. "As many as are the sons of God are led by the Spirit of God." And it is our duty to try the Spirits whether they be of God. We should insist on a close scrutiny and an accurate discrimination. There must be such a thing as being led by the Spirit. And when we are convinced it is of God, we should be sure to follow--follow on, with full confidence that he will not lead us wrong.

12:57-70 6. We see from this subject the absurdity of using forms of prayer. The very idea of using a form rejects, of course, the leadings of the Spirit. Nothing is more calculated to destroy the spirit of prayer, and entirely to darken and confuse the mind, as to what constitutes prayer, than to use forms. Forms of prayer are not only absurd in themselves, but they are the very device of the devil to destroy the spirit and break the power of prayer. It is of no use to say the form is a good one. Prayer does not consist in words. And it matters not what the words are, if the heart is not led by the Spirit of God. If the desire is not enkindled, the thoughts directed, and the whole current of feeling produced and led by the Spirit of God, it is not prayer. And set forms are, of all things, best calculated to keep an individual from praying as he ought.

12:58-70 7. The subject furnishes a test of character. The Spirit maketh intercession--for whom? For the saints. Those who are saints are thus exercised. If you are saints, you know by experience what it is to be thus exercised, or it is because you have grieved the Spirit of God, so that he will not lead you. You live in such a manner that this Holy Comforter will not dwell with you, nor give you the spirit of prayer. If this is so, you must repent. Whether you are a Christian or not, do not stop to settle that, but repent, as if you never had repented. Do your first works. Do not take it for granted that you are a Christian, but go like a humble sinner, and pour out your heart unto the Lord. You never can have the spirit of prayer in any other way.

12:59-70 8. The importance of understanding this subject.

12:60-70 (1.) In order to be useful. Without this spirit there can be no such sympathy between you and God that you can either walk with God or work with God. You need to have a strong beating of your heart with his, or you need not expect to be greatly useful.

12:61-70 (2.) As important as your sanctification. Without such a spirit you will not be sanctified, you will not understand the Bible, you will not know how to apply it to your case. I want you to feel the importance of having God with you all the time. If you live as you ought, he says he will come unto you, and make his abode with you, and sup with you, and you with him.

12:62-70 9. If people know not the spirit of prayer, they are very apt to be unbelieving in regard to the results of prayer. They do not see what takes place, or do not see the connection, or do not see the evidence. They are not expecting spiritual blessings. When sinners are convicted, they think they are only frightened by such terrible preaching. And when people are converted, they feel no confidence, and only say, "We'll see how they turn out."

12:63-70 10. Those who have the spirit of prayer know when the blessing comes. It was just so when Jesus Christ appeared. These ungodly doctors did not know him. Why? Because they were not praying for the redemption of Israel. But Simeon and Anna knew him. How was that? Mark what they said, how they prayed and how they lived. They were praying in faith, and so they were not surprised when he came. So it is with such Christians. If sinners are convicted or converted, they are not surprised at it. They were expecting just such things. They know God when he comes, because they were looking out for his visits.

12:64-70 11. There are three classes of persons in the church who are liable to error, or have left the truth out of view, on this subject.

12:65-70 (1.) Those who place great reliance on prayer, and use no other means. They are alarmed at any special means, and talk about your "getting up a revival."

12:66-70 (2.) Over against these are those who use means, and pray, but never think about the influences of the Spirit in prayer. They talk about prayer for the Spirit, and feel the importance of the Spirit in the conversion of sinners, but do not realize the importance of the Spirit in prayer. And their prayers are all cold talk, nothing that any body can feel, or that can take hold of God.

12:67-70 (3.) Those who have certain strange notions about the sovereignty of God, and are waiting for God to convert the world without prayer or means.

12:68-70 There must be in the church a deeper sense of the need of the spirit of prayer. The fact is that, generally, those who use means most assiduously, and make the most strenuous efforts for the salvation of men, and who have the most correct notions of the manner in which means should be used for converting sinners, also pray most for the Spirit of God, and wrestle most with God for his blessing. And what is the result? Let facts speak, and say whether these persons do or do not pray, and whether the Spirit of God does not testify to their prayers, and follow their labors with his power.

12:69-70 12. A spirit very different from the spirit of prayer appears to prevail in certain portions of the Presbyterian church at the present time. Nothing will produce an excitement and opposition so quick as the spirit of prayer. If any person should feel burdened with the case of sinners, in prayer, so as to groan in his prayer, why, the women are nervous, and he is visited at once with rebuke and opposition. From my soul I abhor all affectation of feeling where there is none, and all attempts to work one's self up into feeling by groans. But I feel bound to defend the position that there is such a thing as being in a state of mind in which there is but one way to keep from groaning; and that is, by resisting the Holy Ghost. I was once present where this subject was discussed. It was said that groaning ought to be discountenanced. The question was asked, whether God could not produce such a state of feeling that to abstain from groaning was impossible? and the answer was, "Yes, but he never does." Then the apostle Paul was egregiously deceived when he wrote about groanings that cannot be uttered. Edwards was deceived when he wrote his book upon revivals. Revivals are all in the dark. Now, no man who reviews the history of the church will adopt such a sentiment. I do not like this attempt to shut out, or stifle, or keep down, or limit the spirit of prayer. I would sooner cut off my right hand than rebuke the spirit of prayer, as I have heard of its being done by saying, "Do not let me hear any more groaning."

12:70-70 But then, I hardly know where to conclude this subject. I should like to discuss it a month, and till the whole church could understand it, so as to pray the prayer of faith. Beloved, I want to ask you if you believe all this? Or do you wonder that I should talk so? Perhaps some of you have had some glimpses of these things. Now, will you give yourselves up to prayer, and live so as to have the spirit of prayer, and have the spirit with you all the time? Oh, for a praying church! I once knew a minister who had a revival fourteen winters in succession. I did not know how to account for it till I saw one of his members get up in a prayer meeting and make a confession. "Brethren," said he, "I have been long in the habit of praying every Saturday night till after midnight, for the descent of the Holy Ghost among us. And now, brethren," and he began to weep, "I confess that I have neglected it for two or three weeks." The secret was out. That minister had a praying church. Brethren, in my present state of health, I find it impossible to pray as much as I have been in the habit of doing, and continue to preach. It overcomes my strength. Now, shall I give myself up to prayer, and stop preaching? That will not do. Now, will not you, who are in health, throw yourselves into this work, and bear this burden, and lay yourselves out in prayer, till God will pour out his blessing upon us?

 

 

 

Back to contents

13:1-77 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION by The Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY LECTURE VII ON BEING FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT

13:2-77 TEXT. --Be filled with the Spirit. --EPH. v. 18.

13:3-77 SEVERAL of my last lectures have been on the subject of prayer, and the importance of having the spirit of prayer, of the intercession of the Holy Ghost. Whenever the necessity and importance of the Spirit's influences are held forth, there can be no doubt that persons are in danger of abusing the doctrine, and perverting it to their own injury. For instance, when you tell sinners that without the Holy Spirit they never will repent, they are very liable to pervert the truth, and understand by it that they cannot repent, and therefore are under no obligation to do it until they feel the Spirit. It is often difficult to make them see that all the "cannot" consists in their unwillingness, and not in their inability. So again, when we tell Christians that they need the Spirit's aid in prayer, they are very apt to think they are under no obligation to pray the prayer of faith, until they feel the influences of the Spirit. They overlook their obligation to be filled with the Spirit and wait for the spirit of prayer to come upon them without asking, and thus tempt God.

13:4-77 Before we come to consider the other department of means for promoting a revival, that is, the means to be used with sinners, I wish to show you, that if you live without the Spirit, you are without excuse. Obligation to perform duty never rests on the condition, that we shall first have the influence of the Spirit, but on the powers of moral agency. We, as moral agents, have the power to obey God, and are perfectly bound to obey, and the reason we do not is, that we are unwilling. The influences of the Spirit are wholly a matter of grace. If they were indispensable to enable us to perform duty, the bestowment of them would not be a gracious act, but a mere matter of common justice. Sinners are not bound to repent because they have the Spirit's influence, or because they can obtain it, but because they are moral agents, and have the powers which God requires them to exercise. So in the case of Christians. They are not bound to pray in faith because they have the Spirit, (except in those cases where his influences in begetting desire constitute the evidence that it is God's will to grant the object of desire,) but because they have evidence. They are not bound to pray in faith at all, except when they have evidence as the foundation of their faith. They must have evidence from promises, or principle, or prophecy, or providence. And where they have evidence independent of his influences, they are bound to exercise faith, whether they have the Spirit's influence or not. They are bound to see the evidence, and to believe. The Spirit is given not to enable them to see or believe, but because without it they will not look, nor feel, nor act, as they ought. I purpose this evening to show from the text,

13:5-77 I. That Christians may be filled with the Spirit of God.

13:6-77 II. That it is their duty to be filled with the Spirit.

13:7-77 III. Why they are not filled with the Spirit.

13:8-77 IV. The guilt of those who have not the Spirit of God, to lead their minds in duty and prayer.

13:9-77 V. The consequences that will follow if they are filled with the Spirit.

13:10-77 VI. The consequences if they are not.

13:11-77 I. I am to show you that you may have the Spirit. Not because it is a matter of justice for God to give you his Spirit, but because he has promised to give it to those that ask. "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" If you ask [for] the Holy Spirit, God has promised to give it.

13:12-77 But again, God has commanded you to have it. He says in the text, "Be filled with the Spirit." When God commands us to do a thing, it is the highest possible evidence that we can do it. For God to command, is equivalent to an oath that we can do it. He has no right to command, unless we have power to obey. There is no stopping short of the conclusion that God is an infinite tyrant, if he commands that which is impracticable.

13:13-77 II. I am to show, secondly, that it is your duty.

13:14-77 1. Because you have a promise of it.

13:15-77 2. Because God has commanded it.

13:16-77 3. It is essential to your own growth in grace that you should be filled with the Spirit.

13:17-77 4. It is as important as it is that you should be sanctified.

13:18-77 5. It is as necessary as it is that you should be useful and do good in the world.

13:19-77 6. If you do not have the Spirit of God in you, you will dishonor God, disgrace the church, and die and go to hell.

13:20-77 III. Why many do not have the Spirit. There are some, even professors of religion, who will say, "I do not know any thing about this; I never had any such experience; either it is not true or I am all wrong." No doubt you are all wrong, if you know nothing about the influence of the Spirit. I want to present you with a few of the reasons that may prevent you from being filled with the Spirit.

13:21-77 1. It may be that you live a hypocritical life. Your prayers are not earnest and sincere. Not only is your religion a mere outside show, without any heart, but you are insincere in your intercourse with others. Thus you do many things to grieve the Spirit, so that he cannot dwell with you.

13:22-77 A minister was once boarding in a certain family, and the lady of the house was constantly complaining that she did not enjoy her mind, and nothing seemed to help her. One day some ladies called to see her, and she protested that she was very much offended because they had not called before, and pressed them to stay and spend the day, and declared she could not consent to let them go. They excused themselves, however, and left the house, and as soon as they were gone, she said to her servant, she wondered these people had so little sense as to be always troubling her, and taking up her time. The minister heard it, and immediately rebuked her, and told her she could now see why she did not enjoy religion. It was because she was in the daily habit of insincerity that amounted to downright lying. And the Spirit of truth could not dwell in such a heart.

13:23-77 2. Others have so much levity that the Spirit will not dwell with them. The Spirit of God is solemn, and serious, and will not dwell with those who give way to thoughtless levity.

13:24-77 3. Others are so proud that they cannot have the Spirit. They are so fond of dress, high life, equipage, fashion, etc., that it is no wonder they are not filled with the Spirit. And yet such persons will pretend to be at a loss to know why it is that they do not enjoy religion!

13:25-77 4. Some are so worldly-minded, love property so well, and are trying so hard to get rich, that they cannot have the Spirit. How can he dwell with them, when their thoughts are all on things of the world, and all their powers absorbed in procuring wealth? And they hold on to it when they get it, and they are pained if pressed by conscience to do something for the conversion of the world. They show how much they love the world, in all their intercourse with others. Little things show it. They will screw down a poor man, who is doing a little piece of work for them, to the lowest penny. If they are dealing on a large scale, very likely they will be liberal and fair, because it is for their advantage. But if it is a person they care not about, a laborer, or a mechanic, or a servant, they will grind him down to the last fraction, no matter what it is really worth; and they actually pretend to make conscience of it, that they cannot possibly give any more. Now they would be ashamed to deal so with people of their own rank, because it would be known and injure their reputation. But God knows it, and has it all written down, that they are covetous and unfair in their dealings, and will not do right, only when it is for their interest. Now how can such professors have the Spirit of God? It is impossible.

13:26-77 There are a multitude of such things, by which the Spirit of God is grieved. People call them little sins, but God will not call them little. I was struck with this thought, when I saw a little notice in the Evangelist. The publishers stated that they had many thousand dollars in the hands of subscribers, which was justly due, and that it would cost them as much as it was worth to send an agent to collect it. I suppose it is so with all the other religious papers, that subscribers either put the publisher to the trouble and expense of sending an agent to collect his due, or else they cheat him out of it. There are doubtless, I do not know how many, thousands of dollars held back in this way by professors of religion, just because it is in such small sums, or they are so far off that they cannot be sued. And yet these people will pray, and appear very pious, and wonder why they cannot enjoy religion, and have the Spirit of God! It is this looseness of moral principle, this want of conscience about little matters, prevailing in the church, that grieves away the Holy Ghost. Why, it would be disgraceful to God to dwell and have communion with such persons, who will take an advantage and cheat their neighbor out of his dues, because they can do it and not be disgraced.

13:27-77 5. Others do not fully confess and forsake their sins, and so cannot enjoy the Spirit's presence. They will confess their sins in general terms, perhaps, and are ready always to acknowledge that they are sinners. Or they will confess partially some particular sins. But they do it reservedly, proudly, guardedly, as if they were afraid they should say a little more than is necessary; that is, when they confess to men the injuries done to them. They do it in a way which shows that, instead of bursting forth from an ingenuous heart, the confession is wrung from them, by the hand of conscience gripping them. If they have injured any one, they will make a partial recantation, which is hard-hearted, cruel, and hypocritical, and then they will ask, "Now, brother, are you satisfied?" And you know it would be very difficult for a person to say that he was not satisfied, even if the confession is cold and heartless. But I tell you God is not satisfied. He knows whether you have gone the full length of honest confession, and taken all the blame that belongs to you. If your confessions have been constrained and wrung from you, do you suppose you can cheat God? "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh shall find mercy." "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Unless you come quite down, and confess your sins honestly, and remunerate where you have done injury, you have no right to expect the spirit of prayer.

13:28-77 6. Others are neglecting some known duty, and that is the reason why they have not the Spirit. One does not pray in his family, though he knows he ought to do it, and yet he is trying to get the spirit of prayer! There is many a young man who feels in his heart that he ought to prepare for the ministry, and he has not the spirit of prayer because he has some worldly object in view, which prevents his devoting himself to the work. He has known his duty, and refuses to do it, and now he is praying for direction from the Spirit of God. He cannot have it. One has neglected to make a profession of religion. He knows his duty, but he refuses to join the church. He once had the spirit of prayer, but neglecting his duty, he grieved the Spirit away. And now he thinks, if he could once more enjoy the light of God's countenance, and have his evidences renewed, he would do his duty, and join the church. And so he is praying for it again, and trying to bring God over to his terms, to grant him his presence. You need not expect it. You will live and die in darkness, unless you are willing first to do your duty, before God manifests himself as reconciled to you. It is in vain to say, you will come forward if God will first show you the light of his countenance. He never will do it as long as you live; he will let you die without it, if you refuse to do your duty.

13:29-77 I have known women who felt that they ought to talk to their unconverted husbands, and pray with them, but they have neglected it, and so they get into the dark. They knew their duty and refused to do it; they went round it, and there they lost the spirit of prayer.

13:30-77 If you have neglected any known duty, and thus lost the spirit of prayer, you must yield first. God has a controversy with you; you have refused obedience to God, and you must retract it. You may have forgotten it, but God has not, and you must set yourself to recall it to mind, and repent. God never will yield nor grant you his Spirit, till you repent. Had I an omniscient eye now, I could call the names of the individuals in this congregation, who had neglected some known duty, or committed some sin, that they have not repented of, and now they are praying for the spirit of prayer, but they cannot succeed in obtaining it.

13:31-77 To illustrate this I will relate a case. A good man in the western part of this State, had been a long time an engaged Christian, and he used to talk to the sleepy church with which he was connected. By-and-by the church was offended and got out of patience, and many told him they wished he would let them alone, they did not think he could do them any good. He took them at their word, and they all went to sleep together, and remained so two or three years. By-and-by a minister came among them and a revival commenced, but this elder seemed to have lost his spirituality. He used to be forward in a good work, but now he held back. Everybody thought it unaccountable. Finally, as he was going home one night, the truth of his situation flashed upon his mind, and he went into absolute despair for a few minutes. At length his thoughts were directed back to that sinful resolution to let the church alone in their sins. He felt that no language could describe the blackness of that sin. He realized that moment what it was to be lost, and to find that God had a controversy with him. He saw that it was a bad spirit which caused the resolution: the same that caused Moses to say, "You rebels." He humbled himself on the spot, and God poured out his Spirit on him. Perhaps some of you that hear me are in just this situation. You have said something provoking or unkind to some person. Perhaps it was peevishness to a servant that was a Christian. Or perhaps it was speaking censoriously of a minister or some other person. Perhaps you have been angry because your opinions have not been taken, or your dignity has been encroached upon. Search thoroughly, and see if you cannot find out the sin. Perhaps you have forgotten it. But God has not forgotten it, and never will forgive your unchristian conduct until you repent. God cannot overlook it. It would do no good if he should. What good would it do to forgive, while the sin is rankling in your heart?

13:32-77 7. Perhaps you have resisted the Spirit of God. Perhaps you are in the habit of resisting the Spirit. You resist conviction. In preaching, when something has been said that reached your case, your heart has risen up against it and resisted. Many are willing to hear plain and searching preaching so long as they can apply it all to others; a misanthropic spirit makes them take a satisfaction in hearing others searched and rebuked; but if the truth touch them, they directly cry out that it is personal and abusive. Is this your case?

13:33-77 8. The fact is that you do not on the whole desire the Spirit. This is true in every case in which you do not have the Spirit. Let me not be mistaken here. I want you should carefully discriminate. Nothing is more common than for people to desire a thing on some accounts, which they do not choose on the whole. A person may see an article in a store which he desires to purchase, and he goes in and asks the price, and thinks of it a little, and on the whole concludes not to purchase it. He desires the article, but does not like the price, or does not like to be at the expense, so that, upon the whole, he prefers not to purchase it. That is the reason why he does not purchase it. So persons may desire the Spirit of God on some accounts; from a regard to the comfort and joy of heart which it brings. If you know what it is by former experience to commune with God, and how sweet it is to dissolve in penitence and to be filled with the Spirit, you cannot but desire a return of those joys. And you may set yourself to pray earnestly for it, and to pray for a revival of religion. But on the whole you are unwillIng it should come. You have so much to do that you cannot attend to it. Or it will require so many sacrifices, that you cannot bear to have it. There are some things you are not willing to give up. You find that if you wish to have the Spirit of God dwell with you, you must lead a different life, you must give up the world, you must make sacrifices, you must break off from your worldly associates, and makes confession of your sins. And so on the whole you do not choose to have him come, unless he will consent to dwell with you and let you live as you please. But that he never will do.

13:34-77 9. Perhaps you do not pray for the Spirit; or you pray and use no other means, or pray and do not act consistently with your prayers. Or you use means calculated to resist them. Or you ask, and as soon as he comes and begins to affect your mind, you grieve him right away, and will not walk with him.

13:35-77 IV. I am to show the great guilt of not having the Spirit of God.

13:36-77 1. Your guilt is just as great as the authority of God is great, which commands you to be filled with the Spirit. God commands it, and it is just as much a disobedience of God's commands, as it is to swear profanely, or steal, or commit adultery, or break the Sabbath. Think of that. And yet there are many people who do not blame themselves at all for not having the Spirit. They even think themselves quite pious Christians, because they go to prayer meetings, and partake of the sacrament, and all that, though they live year after year without the Spirit of God. Now, you see the same God who says, "Do not get drunk," says also, "Be filled with the Spirit." You all say, if a man is an habitual murderer, or a thief, he is no Christian. Why? Because he lives in habitual disobedience to God. So if he swears, you have no charity for him. You will not allow him to plead that his heart is right, and words are nothing. God does not care anything about words. You would think it outrageous to have such a man in church, or to have a company of such people pretend to call themselves a church of Christ. And yet they are not a whit more absolutely living in disobedience to God than you are, who live without the spirit of prayer, and without the presence of God.

13:37-77 2. Your guilt is equal to all the good you might do if you had the Spirit of God in as great a measure as it is your duty to have it, and as you might have it. You, elders of this church! how much good you might do, if you had the Spirit. And you, Sunday-school teachers, how much good you might do; and you, church-members, too, if you were filled with the Spirit, you might do vast good, infinite good. Well, your guilt is just as great. Here is a blessing promised, and you can have it by doing your duty. You are entirely responsible to the church and to God for all this good that you might do. A man is responsible for all the good he can do.

13:38-77 3. Your guilt is further measured by all the evil which you do in consequence of not having the Spirit. You are a dishonor to religion. You are a stumbling block to the church, and to the world. And your guilt is enhanced by all the various influences you exert. And it will prove so in the day of judgment.

13:39-77 V. The consequences of having the Spirit.

13:40-77 1. You will be called eccentric; and probably you will deserve it. Probably you will really be eccentric. I never knew a person who was filled with the Spirit, that was not called eccentric. And the reason is, that they are unlike other people. This is always a term of comparison. There is therefore the best of reasons why such persons should appear eccentric. They act under different influences, take different views, are moved by different motives, led by a different spirit. You are to expect such remarks. How often I have heard the remark respecting such and such persons, "He is a very good man--but he is rather eccentric." I have sometimes asked for the particulars; in what does his eccentricity consist? I hear the catalogue, and the amount is, that he is spiritual. Make up your mind for this, to be eccentric. There is such a thing as affected eccentricity. Horrible! But there is such a thing as being so deeply imbued with the Spirit of God, that you must and will act so as to appear strange and eccentric, to those who cannot understand the reasons of your conduct.

13:41-77 2 If you have much of the Spirit of God, it is not unlikely you will be thought deranged, by many. We judge men to be deranged when they act differently from what we think to be prudent and according to common sense, and when they come to conclusions for which we can see no good reasons. Paul was accused of being deranged by those who did not understand the views of things under which he acted. No doubt Festus thought the man was crazy, and that much learning had made him mad. But Paul said, "I am not mad, most noble Festus." His conduct was so strange, so novel, that Festus thought it must be insanity. But the truth was, he only saw the subject so clearly that he threw his whole soul into it. They were entirely in the dark in respect to the motive by which he was actuated. This is by no means uncommon. Multitudes have appeared to those who had no spirituality as if they were deranged. Yet they saw good reasons for doing as they did. God was leading their minds to act in such a way that those who were not spiritual could not see the reasons. You must make up your mind to this, and so much the more, as you live more above the world and walk with God.

13:42-77 3. If you have the Spirit of God, you must expect to feel great distress in view of the church and the world. Some spiritual epicures ask for the Spirit because they think it will make them so perfectly happy. Some people think that spiritual Christians are always very happy and free from sorrow.

13:43-77 There never was a greater mistake. Read your Bibles, and see how the prophets and apostles were always groaning and distressed in view of the state of the church and the world. The apostle Paul says he was always bearing about in his body the dying of the Lord Jesus. I protest, says he, that I die daily. You will know what it is to sympathize with the Lord Jesus Christ, and be baptized with the baptism that he was baptized with. Oh how he agonized in view of the state of sinners! how he travailed in soul for their salvation! The more you have of his Spirit, the more clearly you will see the state of sinners, and the more deeply you will be distressed about them. Many times you will feel as if you could not live in view of their situation; your distress will be unutterable. Paul says, Rom ix:1-3: "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh."

13:44-77 4. You will be often grieved with the state of the ministry. Some years since I met a woman belonging to one of the churches in this city. I inquired of her the state of religion here. She seemed unwilling to say much about it, made some general remarks, and then choked, and her eyes filled, and she said, "Oh, our minister's mind seems to be very dark." Spiritual Christians often feel like this, and often weep over it. I have seen much of it, and often found Christians who wept and groaned in secret, to see the darkness on the minds of ministers in regard to religion, their earthliness and fear of man; but they dared not speak of it, lest they should be denounced and threatened, and perhaps turned out of the church. I do not say these things censoriously, to reproach my brethren, but because they are true. And ministers ought to know that nothing is more common than for spiritual Christians to feel burdened and distressed at the state of the ministry. I would not wake up any wrong feeling towards ministers, but it is time it should be known that Christians do often get spiritual views of things, and their souls are kindled up, and then they find that their minister does not enter into their feelings, that he is far below the standard of what he ought to be, and in spirituality far below some of the members of his church. This is one of the most prominent and deeply to be deplored evils of the present day. The piety of the ministry, though real, is so superficial, in many instances, that the spiritual part of the church feel that ministers cannot, do not, sympathize with them. Their preaching does not meet their wants, it does not feed them, it does not meet their experience. The minister has not depth enough of religious experience to know how to search and wake up the church; to help those under temptation, to support the weak, to direct the strong, and lead them through all the labyrinths and mazes with which their path may be beset. When a minister has gone with a church as far as his experience in spiritual exercise goes, there he stops; and until he has a renewed experience, until he is reconverted, his heart broken up afresh, and he set forward in the divine life and Christian experience, he will help them no more. He may preach sound doctrine, and so may an unconverted minister; but, after all, his preaching will want that searching pungency, that practical bearing, that unction which alone will reach the case of a spiritually-minded Christian. It is a fact over which the church is groaning, that the piety of young men suffers so much in the course of their education, that when they enter the ministry, however much intellectual furniture they may possess, they are in a state of spiritual babyhood. They want nursing, and need rather to be fed, than to undertake to feed the church of God.

13:45-77 5. If you have much of the Spirit of God, you must make up your mind to have much opposition, both in the church and the world. Very likely the leading men in the church will oppose you. There has always been opposition in the church. So it was when Christ was on earth. If you are far above their state of feeling, church members will oppose you. If any man will live godly in Christ Jesus, he must expect persecution. Often the elders, and even the minister, will oppose you, if you are filled with the Spirit of God.

13:46-77 6. You must expect very frequent and agonizing conflicts with Satan. Satan has very little trouble with those Christians who are not spiritual, but lukewarm, and slothful, and worldly-minded. And such do not understand what is said about spiritual conflicts. Perhaps they will smile when such things are mentioned. And so the devil lets them alone. They do not disturb him, nor he them. But spiritual Christians, he understands very well, are doing him a vast injury, and, therefore, he sets himself against them. Such Christians often have terrible conflicts. They have temptations that they never thought of before, blasphemous thoughts, atheism, suggestions to do deeds of wickedness, to destroy their own lives, and the like. And if you are spiritual, you may expect these terrible conflicts.

13:47-77 7. You will have greater conflicts with yourself than you ever thought of. You will sometimes find your own corruptions making strange headway against the Spirit. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." Such a Christian is often thrown into consternation at the power of his own corruptions. One of the Commodores in the United States was, as I have been told, a spiritual man; and his pastor told me he had known that man lie on the floor and groan a great part of the night, in conflict with his own corruptions, and to cry to God in agony that he would break the power of the temptation. It seemed as if the devil was determined to ruin him; and his own feelings, for the time being, was almost in league with the devil.

13:48-77 8. But you will have peace with God. If the church, and sinners, and the devil oppose you, there will be one with whom you will have peace. Let those who are called to these trials, and conflicts, and temptations, and who groan, and pray, and weep, and break your hearts, remember this consideration: your peace, so far as your feelings towards God are concerned, will flow like a river.

13:49-77 9. You will likewise have peace of conscience, if you are led by the Spirit. You will not be constantly goaded and kept on the rack by a guilty conscience. Your conscience will be calm and quiet, unruffled as the summer's lake.

13:50-77 10. If filled with the Spirit, you will be useful. You cannot help being useful. Even if you were sick and unable to go out of your room, or to converse, and saw nobody, you would be ten times more useful than a hundred of those common sort of Christians who have no spirituality. To give you an idea of this, I will relate an anecdote. A pious man in the Western part of this State was sick with a consumption. He was a poor man, and sick for years. An unconverted merchant in the place had a kind heart, and used to send him now and then something for his comfort, or for his family. He felt grateful for the kindness, but could make no return, as he wanted to do. At length he determined that the best return he could make would be to pray for his salvation; he began to pray, and his soul kindled, and he got hold of God. There was no revival there, but by and by, to the astonishment of every body, this merchant came right out on the Lord's side. The fire kindled all over the place, and a powerful revival followed, and multitudes were converted.

13:51-77 This poor man lingered in this way for several years, and died. After his death, I visited the place, and his widow put into my hands his diary. Among other things, he says in his diary: "I am acquainted with about thirty ministers and churches." He then goes on to set apart certain hours in the day and week to pray for each of these ministers and churches, and also certain seasons for praying for the different missionary stations. Then followed, under different dates, such facts as these: "To-day," naming the date, "I have been enabled to offer what I call the prayer of faith for the outpouring of the Spirit on _____ church, and I trust in God there will soon be a revival there." Under another date, "I have to-day been able to offer what I call the prayer of faith for such a church, and trust there will soon be a revival there." Thus he had gone over a great number of churches, recording the fact that he had prayed for them in faith that a revival might soon prevail among them. Of the missionary stations, if I recollect right, he mentions in particular the mission at Ceylon. I believe the last place mentioned in his diary, for which he offered the prayer of faith, was the place in which he lived. Not long after noticing these facts in his diary, the revival commenced, and went over the region of country, nearly, I believe, if not quite, in the order in which they had been mentioned in his diary; and in due time news came from Ceylon that there was a revival of religion there. The revival in his own town did not commence till after his death. Its commencement was at the time when his widow put into my hands the document to which I have referred. She told me that he was so exercised in prayer during his sickness that she often feared he would pray himself to death. The revival was exceedingly great and powerful in all the region; and the fact that it was about to prevail had not been hidden from this servant of the Lord. According to his word, the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him. Thus this man, too feeble in his body to go out of his house, was yet more useful to the world and the church of God than all the heartless professors of the country. Standing between God and the desolations of Zion, and pouring out his heart in believing prayer, as a prince he had power with God, and prevailed.

13:52-77 11. If you are filled with the Spirit, you will not find yourselves distressed, and galled, and worried, when people speak against you. When I find people irritated and fretting at any little thing that touches them, I am sure they have not the Spirit of Christ. Jesus Christ could have everything said against him that malice could invent, and yet not be in the least disturbed by it. If you mean to be meek under persecution, and exemplify the temper of the Saviour, and honor religion in this way, you need to be filled with the Spirit.

13:53-77 12. You will be wise in using means for the conversion of sinners. If the Spirit of God is in you, he will lead you to use means wisely, in a way adapted to the end, and to avoid doing hurt. No man who is not filled with the Spirit of God, is fit to be employed in directing the measures adopted in a revival. Their hands will be all thumbs, unable to take hold, and they will act as if they had not common sense. But a man who is led by the Spirit of God, will know how to time his measures right, and how to apportion Divine truth, so as to make it tell to the best advantage.

13:54-77 13. You will be calm under affliction; not thrown into confusion or consternation when you see the storm coming over you. People around will be astonished at your calmness and cheerfulness under heavy trials, not knowing the inward supports of those who are filled with the Spirit.

13:55-77 14. You will be resigned in death; you will always feel prepared to die, and not afraid to die, and after death you will be proportionably more happy for ever in heaven.

13:56-77 VI. Consequences of not being filled with the Spirit.

13:57-77 1. You will often doubt, and reasonably doubt, whether you are Christians. You will have doubts, and you ought to have them. The sons of God are led by the Spirit of God. And if you are not led by the Spirit what reason have you to think you are sons? You will try to make a little evidence go a great way to bolster up your hopes, but you cannot do it, unless your conscience is seared as with a hot iron. You cannot help being plunged often into painful doubt and uncertainty about your state. Rom. viii. 9.--"But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." 2 Cor. xiii. 5.--"Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves: know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobate?"

13:58-77 2. You will always be unsettled in your views about the prayer of faith. The prayer of faith is something so spiritual, so much a matter of experience and not of speculation, that unless you are spiritual yourselves, you will not understand it fully. You may talk a great deal about the prayer of faith, and for the time get thoroughly convinced of it. But you will never feel so settled on it as to retain the same position of mind concerning it, and in a little while you will be all uncertainty. I knew a curious instance in a brother minister. He told me, "When I have the Spirit of God, and enjoy his presence, I believe firmly in the prayer of faith; but when I have it not, I find myself doubting whether there is any such thing, and my mind offering objections." I know, from my own experience, what this is, and when I hear persons raising objections to that view of prayer which I have presented in these lectures, I understand very well what their difficulty is, and have often found it impossible to satisfy their minds, while so far from God; when at the same time they would understand it themselves, without argument, whenever they had experienced it.

13:59-77 3. If you have not the Spirit, you will be very apt to stumble at those who have. You will doubt the propriety of their conduct. If they seem to feel a good deal more than yourself, you will be likely to call it animal feeling. You will perhaps doubt their sincerity when they say they have such feelings. You will say, "I do not know what to make of brother such-a-one; he seems to be very pious, but I do not understand him, I think he has a great deal of animal feeling." Thus you will be trying to censure them, for the purpose of justifying yourself.

13:60-77 4. You will be had in reputation with the impenitent, and with carnal professors. They will praise you, as a rational, orthodox, consistent Christian. You will be just in the frame of mind to walk with them, because you are agreed.

13:61-77 5. You will be much troubled with fears about fanaticism. Whenever there are revivals, you will see in them a strong tendency to fanaticism, and will be full of fears and anxiety, or rather of opposition to them.

13:62-77 6. You will be much disturbed by the measures that are used in revivals. If any measures are adopted, that are decided and direct, you will think they are all "new," and will be stumbled at them just in proportion to your want of spirituality. You do not see their appropriateness. You will stand and cavil at the measures, because you are so blind that you cannot see their adaptedness, while all heaven is rejoicing in them as the means of saving souls.

13:63-77 7. You will be a reproach to religion. The impenitent will sometimes praise you because you are so much like themselves, and sometimes laugh about you because you are such a hypocrite.

13:64-77 8. You will know but little about the Bible.

13:65-77 9. If you die without the Spirit, you will fall into hell. There can be no doubt of this. Without the Spirit you will never be prepared for heaven.

13:66-77 REMARKS. 1. Christians are as guilty for not having the Spirit, as sinners are for not repenting.

13:67-77 2. They are even more so. As they have more light, they are so much the more guilty.

13:68-77 3. All beings have a right to complain of Christians who are not filled with the Spirit. You are not doing work for God, and he has a right to complain. He has placed his Spirit at your disposal, and if you have it not, he has a right to look to you and to hold you responsible for all the good you might do, did you possess it. You are sinning against all heaven, for you ought to be adding to their happy ranks. Sinners, the church, ministers, have a right to complain.

13:69-77 4. You are right in the way of the work of the Lord. It is in vain for a minister to try to work over your head. Ministers often groan and struggle, and wear themselves out in vain, trying to do good where there is a church who live so that they do not have the Spirit of God. If the Spirit is poured out at any time, the church will grieve him right away. Thus you may tie the hands and break the heart of your minister, and break him down, and perhaps kill him, because you will not be filled with the Spirit.

13:70-77 5. You see the reason why Christians need the Spirit, and the degree of their dependence. This cannot be too strongly exhibited.

13:71-77 6. Do not tempt God, by waiting for his Spirit, while using no means to procure his presence.

13:72-77 7. If you mean to have the Spirit, you must be childlike, and yield to his influences--just as yielding as air. If he is drawing you to prayer, you must quit everything to yield to his gentle strivings. No doubt you have sometimes felt a desire to pray for some object, and you have put it off and resisted, and God left you. If you wish him to remain, you must yield to his softest and gentlest motions, and watch to learn what he would have you do, and yield yourself up to his guidance.

13:73-77 8. Christians ought to be willing to make any sacrifice to enjoy the presence of the Spirit. Said a woman in high life, a professor of religion, "I must either give up hearing such a minister (naming him) preach, or I must give up my gay company." She gave up the preaching and staid away. How different from another case!

13:74-77 A woman in the same rank of life heard the same minister preach, and went home resolved to abandon her gay and worldly manner of life--dismissed most of her attendants--changed her whole mode of dress, of equipage, of living, and of conversation; so that her gay and worldly friends were soon willing to leave her to the enjoyment of communion with God, and free to spend her time in doing good.

13:75-77 9. You see from this, that it must be very difficult for those in fashionable life to go to heaven. What a calamity to be in such circles! Who can enjoy the presence of God in them?

13:76-77 10. See how crazy those are who are scrambling to get up to these circles, enlarging their houses, changing their style of living, furniture, etc. It is like climbing up mast-head to be thrown off into the ocean. To enjoy God, you must come down, not go up there. God is not there, among all the starch and flattery of high life.

13:77-77 11. Many professors of religion are as ignorant of spirituality as Nicodemus was of the new birth. They are ignorant, and I fear unconverted. If any body talks to them about the spirit of prayer, it is all algebra to them. The case of such professors is awful. How different was the character of the apostles! Read the history of their lives, read their letters, and you will see that they were always spiritual, and walked daily with God. But now how little is there of such religion! "When the Son of Man cometh, will he find faith on the earth?" Set some of these professors to work in a revival, and they do not know what to do, have no energy, no skill, and make no impression. When will professors of religion set themselves to work, filled with the Spirit? If I could see this church filled with the Spirit, I would ask nothing more to move this whole mighty mass of minds. Not two weeks would pass before the revival would spread all over this city.

 

 

 

Back to contents

14:1-64 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION by The Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY LECTURE VIII MEETINGS FOR PRAYER

14:2-64 TEXT. --"Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven." --MATTHEW xviii. 19. HITHERTO, in treating of the subject of PRAYER, I have confined my remarks to secret prayer. I am now to speak of social prayer, or prayer offered in company, where two or more are united in praying. Such meetings have been common from the time of Christ, and even hundreds of years before. And it is probable that God's people have always been in the habit of making united supplication, whenever they had the privilege. The propriety of the practice will not be questioned here. I need not dwell now on the duty of social prayer. Nor is it my design to discuss the question, whether any two Christians agreeing to ask any blessing, will be sure to obtain it. My object is to make some remarks on

14:3-64 MEETINGS FOR PRAYER. I. The design of Prayer Meetings.

14:4-64 II. The manner of conducting them.

14:5-64 III. Mention several things that will defeat the design of holding them.

14:6-64 I. THE DESIGN OF PRAYER MEETINGS. 1. One design of assembling several persons together for united prayer, is to promote union among Christians. Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together. Never do they love one another so well as when they witness the outpouring of each other's hearts in prayer. Their spirituality begets a feeling of union and confidence, highly important to the prosperity of the church. It is doubtful whether Christians can ever be otherwise than united, if they are in the habit of really praying together. And where they have had hard feelings and differences among themselves, they are all done away, by uniting in prayer. The great object is gained, if you can bring them really to unite in prayer. If this can be done, the difficulties vanish.

14:7-64 2. To extend the spirit of prayer. God has so constituted us, and such is the economy of his grace, that we are sympathetic beings, and communicate our feelings to each other. A minister, for instance, will often as it were breathe his own feelings into his congregation. The Spirit of God that inspires his soul, makes use of his feelings to influence his hearers, just as much as he makes use of the words he preaches. So he makes use of the feelings of Christians. Nothing is more calculated to beget a spirit of prayer, than to unite in social prayer, with one who has the spirit himself; unless this one should be so far ahead that his prayer will repel the rest. His prayer will awaken them, if they are not so far behind as to revolt at it and resist it. If they are anywhere near the standard of his feelings, his spirit will kindle, and burn, and spread all around. One individual in a church, that obtains a spirit of prayer, will often arouse a whole church, and extend the same spirit through the whole, and a general revival follows.

14:8-64 3. Another grand design of social prayer. is to move God. Not that it changes the mind and feelings of God. When we speak of moving God, as I have said in a former lecture, we do not mean that it alters the will of God. But when the right kind of prayer is offered by Christians, they are in such a state of mind, that it becomes proper for God to bestow a blessing. They are then prepared to receive it, and he gives because he is always the same, and always ready and happy to show mercy. When Christians are united, and praying as they ought, God opens the windows of heaven, and pours out his blessings till there is not room to receive them.

14:9-64 4. Another important design of prayer meetings is the conviction and conversion of sinners. When properly conducted, they are eminently calculated to produce this effect. Sinners are apt to be solemn when they hear Christians pray. Where there is a spirit of prayer, sinners must feel. An ungodly man, a Universalist, once said respecting a certain minister, "I can bear his preaching very well, but when he prays, I feel awfully; I feel as if God was coming down upon me." Sinners are often convicted by hearing prayer. A young man of distinguished talents, known to many of you, said concerning a certain minister to whom before his conversion he had been very much opposed, "As soon as he began to pray, I began to be convicted, and if he had continued to pray much longer, I should not have been able to contain myself." Just as soon as Christians begin to pray as they ought, sinners then know that they pray, and they feel awfully. They do not understand what spirituality is, because they have no experience of it. But when such prayer is offered, they know there is something in it; they know God is in it, and it brings them near to God; it makes them feel awfully solemn, and they cannot bear it. And not only is it calculated to impress the minds of sinners, but when Christians pray in faith, the Spirit of God is poured out, and sinners are melted down and converted on the spot.

14:10-64 II. THE MANNER OF CONDUCTING PRAYER MEETINGS. 1. It is often well to open a prayer meeting by reading a short portion of the word of God; especially if the person who takes the lead of the meeting, can call to mind any portion that will be applicable to the object or occasion, and that is impressive, and to the point. If he has no passage that is applicable, he had better not read any at all. Do not drag in the word of God to make up part of the meeting as a mere matter of form. This is an insult to God. It is not well to read any more than is applicable to the subject before the meeting, or the occasion. Some people think it always necessary to read a whole chapter, though it may be ever so long, and have a variety of subjects. It is just as impressive and judicious to read a whole chapter, as it would be for a minister to take a whole chapter for his text, when his object was to make some particular truth bear on the minds of his audience. The design of a prayer meeting should be to bring Christians to the point to pray for a definite object. Wandering over a large field, hinders and destroys this design.

14:11-64 2. It is proper that the person who leads should make some short and appropriate remarks, calculated to explain the nature of prayer, and the encouragements we have to pray, and to bring the object to be prayed for directly before the minds of the people.

14:12-64 A man can no more pray without having his thoughts concentrated, than he can do anything else. The person leading, should therefore see to this, by bringing up before their minds the object they came to pray for. If they came to pray for any object he can do this. And if they did not, they had better go home. It is of no use to stay there and mock God, by pretending to pray, when they have nothing on earth to pray for.

14:13-64 After stating the object, he should bring up some promise or some principle, as the ground of encouragement to expect an answer to their prayers. If there is any indication of Providence, or any promise, or any principle in the Divine government that affords a ground of faith, let him call it to mind, and not let them be talking out of their own hearts at random, without knowing any solid reason to expect an answer. One reason why prayer meetings mostly accomplish so little, is because there is so little common sense exercised about them. Instead of looking round for some solid footing on which to repose their faith, they just come together and pour forth their words, and neither know nor care whether they have any reason to expect an answer. If they are going to pray about anything concerning which there can be any doubt or any mistake, in regard to the ground of faith, they should be shown the reason there is for believing that their prayers will be heard and answered. It is easy to see, that unless something like this is done, three-fourths of them will have no idea of what they are doing, or of the ground on which they should expect to receive what they pray for.

14:14-64 3. In calling on persons to pray, it is always desirable to let things take their own course wherever it is safe. If it can be left so with safety, let those pray who are most inclined to pray. It sometimes happens that even those who are ordinarily the most spiritual, and most proper to be called on, are not at the time in a suitable frame; they may be cold and worldly, and only freeze the meeting. But if you let those pray who desire to pray, you avoid this. But often this cannot be done with safety, especially in large cities, where a prayer meeting might be liable to be interrupted by those who have no business to pray; some fanatic or crazy person, some hypocrite or enemy, who would only make a noise. In most places, however, this course may be taken with perfect safety. Give up the meeting to the Spirit of God, Those who desire to pray, let them pray. If the leader sees any thing that needs to be set right, let him remark, freely and kindly, and put it right, and then go on again. Only, he should be careful to time his remarks, so as not to interrupt the flow of feeling, or to chill the meeting, or turn off the minds from the proper subject.

14:15-64 4. If it is necessary to name the individuals who are to pray, it is best to call on those who are most spiritual first. And if you do not know who they are, then those whom you would naturally suppose to be most alive. If they pray at the outset, they will be likely to spread the spirit of prayer through the meeting, and elevate the tone of the whole. Otherwise, if you call on those who are cold and lifeless at the beginning, they will be likely to diffuse a chill throughout the meeting. The only hope of having an efficient prayer meeting is when at least a part of the church is spiritual, and they infuse their spirit into the rest. This is the very reason why it is often best to let things take their course, for then those who have the most feeling are apt to pray first, and give character to the meeting.

14:16-64 5. The prayers should always be very short. When individuals suffer themselves to pray long, they forget where they are, that they are only the mouth of the congregation, and that the congregation cannot be expected to sympathise with them, so as to go along and feel united in prayer, if they are long and tedious, and go all around the world and pray for every thing that they can think of. Commonly, those who pray long in meeting, do it not because they have the spirit of prayer, but because they have not. And they go round and round, not because they are full of prayer. Some men will spin out a long prayer in telling God who and what he is, or they exhort God to do so and so. Some pray out a whole system of divinity. Some preach, some exhort the people, till every body wishes they would stop, and God wishes so too, undoubtedly. They should keep to the point, and pray for what they came to pray for, and not follow the imagination of their own foolish hearts all over the universe.

14:17-64 6. Each one should pray for some one object. It is well for every individual to have one object for prayer: two or more may pray for the same thing, or each a separate object. If the meeting is convened to pray for some specific thing, let them all pray for that. If its object is more general, let them select their subjects, according as they feel interested in them. If one feels particularly disposed to pray for the church, let him do it. If the next feels disposed to pray for the church, he may do so too. Perhaps the next will feel inclined to pray for sinners; for the youth; to confess sin; let him do it, and as soon as he has got through let him stop. Whenever a man has deep feeling, he always feels on some particular point, and if he prays for that, he will speak out of the abundance of his heart, and then he will naturally stop when he is done. Those who feel most, will be most ready to confine their prayers to that point, and stop when they have done and not pray all over the world.

14:18-64 7. If in the progress of the meeting it becomes necessary to change the object of prayer, let the man who leads state the fact, and explain it in a few words. If the object is to pray for the church, or for backsliders, or sinners, or the heathen, let him state it plainly, and then turn it over and hold it up before them till he brings them to think and feel deeply before they pray. Then state to them the grounds on which they may repose their faith in regard to obtaining the blessings they pray for, if any such statement is needed, and so lead them right up to the throne, and let them take hold of the hand of God. This is according to the philosophy of the mind. People always do it for themselves when they pray in secret, if they really mean to pray to any purpose. And so it should be in prayer meetings.

14:19-64 8. It is important that the time should be fully occupied, so as not to leave long seasons of silence. This always makes a bad impression and chills the meeting. I know that sometimes churches have seasons of silent prayer. But in those cases they should be specially requested to pray in silence, so that all may know why they are silent. This often has a most powerful effect, where a few moments are spent by a whole congregation in silence, while all lift up their thoughts to God. This is very different from having long intervals of silence because there is nobody to pray. Every one feels that such a silence is like the cold damp of death over the meeting.

14:20-64 9. It is exceedingly important that he who leads the meeting should press sinners who may be present to immediate repentance. He should crowd this hard, and urge the Christians present to pray in such a way as to make sinners feel that they are expected to repent immediately. This tends to inspire Christians with compassion and love for souls. The remarks made to sinners are often like pouring fire upon the hearts of Christians, to awaken them to prayer and effort for their conversion. Let them see and feel the guilt and danger of sinners right among them, and then they will pray.

14:21-64 III. I am to mention several things which may defeat the design of a prayer meeting.

14:22-64 1. When there is an unhappy want of confidence in the leader, there is no hope of any good. Whatever the cause may be, whether he is to blame or not, the very fact that he leads the meeting will cast a damp over it and prevent all good. I have witnessed it in churches, where there was some offensive elder or deacon, perhaps justly offensive, and perhaps not, set to lead the prayer meeting, and the meeting would all die under his influence. If there is a want of confidence in regard to his piety, or in his ability, or in his judgment, or in anything connected with the meeting, everything he says or does will fall to the ground. The same thing often takes place where the church have lost their confidence in the minister.

14:23-64 2. Where the leader lacks spirituality, there will be a dryness and coldness in his remarks and prayers, and every thing will indicate his want of unction, and his whole influence will be the very reverse of what it ought to be. I have known churches where a prayer meeting could not be sustained, and the reason was not obvious, but those who understood the state of things knew that the leader was so notorious for his want of spirituality, that he would inevitably freeze a prayer meeting to death. In many Presbyterian churches the elders are so far from being spiritual men that they always freeze a prayer meeting. And then they are often amazingly jealous for their dignity, and cannot bear to have any body else lead the meeting. And if any member that is spiritual takes the lead of a prayer meeting, they will take him to task for it: "Why, you are not an elder, and ought not to lead a prayer meeting in presence of an elder." And thus they stand in the way, while the whole church is suffering under their blighting influence.

14:24-64 A man who knows he is not in a spiritual frame of mind has no business to conduct a prayer meeting; he will kill it. There are two reasons: First, he will have no spiritual discernment, and will not know what to do, or when to do it. A person who is spiritual can see the movements of Providence, and can feel the Spirit of God, and understand what he is leading them to pray for, so as to time his subjects, and take advantage of the state of feeling among Christians. He will not overthrow all the feeling in a meeting by introducing other things that are incongruous or ill-timed. He has spiritual discernment to understand the leadings of the Spirit, and his workings in those who pray, and to follow on as the Spirit leads. Suppose an individual leads who is not spiritual, and there are two or three prayers, and the spirit of prayer rises, but the leader has no spiritual discernment to see it, and he makes some remarks on another point, or reads a piece out of some book, that is as far from the feeling of the meeting as the north pole. It may be just as evident to others what they are called to pray for, as if the Son of God himself had come into the meeting and named the subject; but the leader will overthrow it all, because he is so stupid that he does not know the indications of the meeting.

14:25-64 And then, if the leader is not spiritual, he will very likely be dull and dry in his remarks and in all his exercises. He will read a long hymn in a dreamy manner, and then read a long passage of Scripture, in a tone so cold and wintry that he will spread a wintry pall over the meeting, and it will be dull as long as his cold heart is placed up in front of the whole thing.

14:26-64 3. A want of suitable talents in the leader. If he is wanting in that kind of talents which are fitted to make a meeting useful, he will injure the meeting. If he can say nothing, or if his remarks are so out of the way as to produce levity or contempt, or if they have nothing in them that will impress the mind, or are not guided by good sense, or not appropriate, he will injure the meeting. A man may be pious, but so weak that his prayers do not edify, but rather disgust, the people present. When this is so, he had better keep silence.

14:27-64 4. Sometimes the benefit of a prayer-meeting is defeated by a bad spirit in the leader. For instance when there is a revival, and great opposition, if a leader gets up in a prayer meeting and speaks of instances of opposition, and comments upon them, and thus diverts the meeting away from the object they come to pray for, he knows not what spirit he is of. Its effect is always ruinous to a prayer meeting. Let a minister in a revival come out and preach against the opposition, and he will infallibly destroy the revival, and turn the hearts of Christians away from their proper object. Let the man who is set to lead the church be careful to guard his own spirit, lest he should mislead the church, and diffuse a wrong temper. The same will be true, if any one who is called upon to speak or pray, introduces in his remarks or prayers anything controversial, impertinent, unreasonable, unscriptural, ridiculous or irrelevant. Any of these things will quench the tender breathings of the spirit of prayer, and destroy the meeting.

14:28-64 5. Persons coming late to the meeting. This is a very great hindrance to a prayer meeting. When people have begun to pray, and their attention is fixed, and they have shut their eyes and closed their ears, to keep out everything from their minds, in the midst of a prayer somebody will come bolting in and walk up through the room. Some will look up, and all have their minds interrupted for the moment. Then they all get fixed again, and another comes in, and so on. Why, I suppose the devil would not care how many Christians went to a prayer-meeting, if they will only go after the meeting is begun. He would be glad to have ever so many go scattering along so, and dodging in very piously after the meeting is begun.

14:29-64 6. When persons make cold prayers, and cold confessions of sin, they are sure to quench the spirit of prayer. When the influences of the Spirit are enjoyed, in the midst of the warm expressions that are flowing forth, let an individual come in who is cold, and pour his cold breath out, like the damp of death, and it will make every Christian that has any feeling want to get out of the meeting.

14:30-64 7. In some places it is common to begin a prayer meeting by reading a long portion of Scripture. Then the deacon or elder gives out a long hymn. Next, they sing it. Then he prays a long prayer, praying for the Jews and the fullness of the Gentiles, and many other objects that have nothing to do with the occasion of the meeting. After that perhaps he reads a long extract from some book or magazine. Then they have another long hymn and another long prayer, and then they go home. I once heard an elder say, they had kept up a prayer meeting so many years, and yet there had been no revival in the place. The truth was, that the officers of the church had been accustomed to carry on the meetings in just such a dignified way, and their dignity would not allow anything to be altered. No wonder there was no revival. Such prayer meetings are enough to hinder a revival. And if ever so many revivals should commence, the prayer meeting would destroy them. There was a prayer meeting once in this city, as I have been told, where there appeared to be some feeling, and some one proposed that they should have two or three prayers in succession, without rising from their knees. One dignified man present opposed it, and said that they never had done so, and he hoped there would be no innovations. He did not approve of innovations. And that was the last of the revival. Such persons have their prayer meetings stereotyped, and they are determined not to turn out of their track, whether they have the blessing or not. To allow any such thing would be a new measure, and they never like new measures.

14:31-64 8. A great deal of singing often injures a prayer meeting. The agonizing spirit of prayer does not lead people to sing. There is a time for everything; a time to sing, and a time to pray. But if I know what it is to travail in birth for souls, Christians never feel less like singing, than when they have the spirit of prayer for sinners. Singing is the natural expression of feelings that are joyful and cheerful. The spirit of prayer is not a spirit of joy. It is a spirit of travail, and agony of soul, supplicating and pleading with God with strong cryings, and groanings that cannot be uttered. This is more like any thing else than it is like singing. I have known states of feeling, where you could not distress the people of God more than to begin to sing. It would be so entirely different from their feelings. Why, if you knew your house was on fire, would you first stop and sing a hymn before you put it out? How would it look here in New York, when a building was on fire, and the firemen are all collected, for the foreman to stop and sing a hymn? It is just about as natural for the people to sing when exercised with a spirit of prayer. When people feel like pulling men out of the fire, they do not feel like singing. I never knew a singing revival amount to much. Its tendency is to do away all deep feeling. It is true that singing a hymn has sometimes produced a powerful effect upon sinners who are convicted, but in general it is the perfect contrast there is between their feelings and those of the happy souls who sing, that produces the effect. If the hymn be of a joyful character it is not directly calculated to benefit sinners, and is highly fitted to relieve the mental anguish of the Christian, so as to destroy that travail of soul which is indispensable to his prevailing in prayer.

14:32-64 When singing is introduced in a prayer-meeting, the hymns should be short, and so selected as to bring out something solemn; some striking words, such as the Judgment Hymn, and others calculated to produce an effect on sinners; or something that will produce a deep impression on the minds of Christians; but not that joyful kind of singing, that makes every body feel comfortable, and turns off the mind from the object of the prayer meeting.

14:33-64 I once heard a celebrated organist produce a remarkable effect in a protracted meeting. The organ was a powerful one, and the double bass pipes were like thunder. The hymn was given out that has these lines:

14:34-64 See the storm of vengeance gathering O'er the path you dare to tread;

14:35-64 "Hear the awful thunder rolling,

14:36-64 Loud and louder o'er your head."

14:37-64 When he came to these words, we first heard the distant roar of thunder, then it grew nearer and louder, till at the word "louder," there was a crash that seemed almost to overpower the whole congregation.

14:38-64 Such things in their proper place do good. But common singing dissipates feeling. It should always be such as not to take away feeling, but to deepen it.

14:39-64 Often a prayer meeting is injured by calling on the young converts to sing joyful hymns. This is highly improper in a prayer meeting. It is no time for them to let feeling flow away in joyful singing, while so many sinners around them, and their own former companions, are going down to hell. A revival is often put down by the church and minister all giving themselves up to singing with young converts. Thus by stopping to rejoice, when they ought to feel more and more deeply for sinners, they grieve away the Spirit of God, and they soon find that their agony and travail of soul are all gone.

14:40-64 9. Introducing subjects of controversy into prayer will defeat a prayer meeting. Nothing of a controversial nature should be introduced into prayer, unless it is the object of the meeting to settle that thing. Otherwise, let Christians come together in their prayer-meetings, on the broad ground of offering united prayer for a common object. And let controversies be settled somewhere else.

14:41-64 10. Great pains should be taken, both by the leader and others, to watch narrowly the motions of the Spirit of God. Let them not pray without the Spirit, but follow his leadings. Be sure not to quench the Spirit for the sake of praying according to the regular custom. Avoid everything calculated to divert attention away from the object. All affectation of feeling that is not real, should be particularly guarded against. If there is an affectation of feeling, most commonly others see and feel that it is affectation, not reality. At any rate, the Spirit of God knows it, and will be grieved, and leave the place. On the other hand, all resistance to the Spirit will equally destroy the meeting. Not unfrequently it happens, that there are some so cold that if any one should break out in the spirit of prayer, they would call it fanaticism, and perhaps break out in opposition.

14:42-64 11. If individuals refuse to pray when they are called on it injures a prayer meeting. There are some people, who always pretend they have no gifts. Women sometimes refuse to take their turn in prayer, and pretend they have no ability to pray. But if any one else should say so, they would be offended. Suppose they should know that any other person had made such a remark as this, "Do not ask her to pray; she cannot pray; she has not talents enough;" would they like it? So with a man who pretends he has no gifts, let any one else report that he has not talents enough to make a decent prayer, and see if he will like it. The pretence is not sincere; it is all a sham.

14:43-64 Some say they cannot pray in their families, they have no gift. But a person could not offend them more than to say they cannot pray a decent prayer before their own families. They would say, "Why, the man talks as if he thought nobody else had any gifts but himself." People are not apt to have such a low opinion of themselves. I have often seen the curse of God follow such professors. They have no excuse. God will take none. The man has got a tongue to talk to his neighbors, and he can talk to God if he has any heart for it. You will see their children unconverted, their son a curse, their daughter--tongue cannot tell. God says he will pour out his fury on the families that call not on his name. If I had time, I could mention a host of facts to show that God MARKS those individuals with his disapprobation and curse who refuse to pray when they ought. Until professors of religion will repent of this sin and take up the cross (if they choose to call praying a cross!) and do their duty, they need not expect a blessing.

14:44-64 12. Prayer meetings are often too long. They should always be dismissed while Christians have feeling, and not be spun out until all feeling is exhausted, and the Spirit is gone.

14:45-64 13. Heartless confessions. People confess their sins and do not forsake them. Every week they will make the same confession over again. A long, cold, dull, stupid confession this week, and then the next week another just like it, without forsaking any sins. Why, they have no intention to forsake their sins! It shows plainly that they do not mean to reform. All their religion consists in these confessions. Instead of getting a blessing from God by such confessions they will get only a curse.

14:46-64 14. When Christians spend all the time in praying for themselves. They should have done this in their closets. When they come to a prayer meeting, they should be prepared to offer effectual intercessions for others. If Christians pray in their closets as they ought, they will feel like praying for sinners. If they pray exclusively in their closets for themselves, they will not get the spirit of prayer. I have known men shut themselves up for days to pray for themselves, and never get any life, because their prayers are all selfish. But if they will just forget themselves, and throw their hearts abroad, and pray for others, it will wake up such a feeling, that they can pour forth their hearts. And then they can go to work for souls. I knew an individual in a revival, who shut himself up seventeen days, and prayed as if he would have God come to his terms, but it would not do, and then he went out to work, and immediately he had the Spirit of God in his soul. It is well for Christians to pray for themselves, and confess their sins, and then throw their hearts abroad, till they feel as they ought.

14:47-64 15. Prayer meetings are often defeated by the want of appropriate remarks. The things are not said which are calculated to lead them to pray. Perhaps the leader has not prepared himself; or perhaps he has not the requisite talents, to lead the church out in prayer, or he does not lead their minds to dwell on the appropriate topics of prayer.

14:48-64 16. When individuals who are justly obnoxious for any cause, are forward in speaking and praying. Such persons are sometimes very much set upon taking a part. They say it is their duty to get up and testify for God on all occasions. They will say, they know they are not able to edify the church, but nobody else can do their duty, and they wish to testify. Perhaps the only place they ever did testify for God was in a prayer meeting; all their lives, out of the meeting, testify against God. They had better keep still.

14:49-64 17. Where persons take a part who are so illiterate that it is impossible persons of taste should not be disgusted. Persons of intelligence cannot follow them, and their minds are unavoidably diverted. I do not mean that it is necessary a person should have a liberal education in order to lead in prayer. All persons of common education, especially if they are in the habit of praying, can lead in prayer, if they have the spirit of prayer. But there are some persons who use such absurd and illiterate expressions, as cannot but disgust every intelligent mind. They cannot help being disgusted. The feeling of disgust is an involuntary thing, and when a disgusting object is before the mind, the feeling is irresistible. Piety will not keep a person from feeling it. The only way is to take away the object. If such persons mean to do good, they had better remain silent, Some of them may feel grieved at not being called to take a part. But it is better that they should be kindly told the reason than to have the prayer meeting regularly injured, and rendered ridiculous by their performances.

14:50-64 18. A want of union in prayer. When one leads the others do not follow, but are thinking of something else. Their hearts do not unite, do not say, Amen. It is as bad as if one should make a petition and another remonstrate against it. One asks God to do a thing, and the others ask him not to do it, or to do something else.

14:51-64 REMARKS. 1. An illy conducted prayer meeting often does more hurt than good. In many churches, the general manner of conducting prayer meetings is such that Christians have not the least idea of the design or the power of such meetings. It is such as tends to keep down rather than to promote pious feeling and the spirit of prayer.

14:52-64 2. A prayer meeting is an index to the state of religion in a church. If the church neglect the prayer meetings, or come and have not the spirit of prayer, you know of course that religion is low. Let me go into the prayer meeting, and I can always see the state of religion there.

14:53-64 3. Every minister ought to know that if the prayer meetings are neglected, all his labors are in vain. Unless he can get Christians to attend the prayer meetings, all he can do will not bring up the true religion.

14:54-64 4. A great responsibility rests on him who leads a prayer meeting. If the prayer meeting be not what it ought to be, if it does not elevate the state of religion, he should go seriously to work and see what is the matter, and get the spirit of prayer, and prepare himself to make such remarks as are calculated to do good and set things right. A leader has no business to lead prayer meetings, if he is not prepared, both in head and heart, to do this. I wish you, who lead the district prayer meetings of this church, to notice this point.

14:55-64 5. Prayer meetings are the most difficult meetings to sustain as they ought to be. They are so spiritual, that unless the leader be peculiarly prepared, both in heart and mind, they will dwindle. It is in vain for the leader to complain that members of the church do not attend. In nine cases out of ten, it is the leader's fault, that they do not attend. If he felt as he ought, they would find the meetings so interesting, that they would attend of course. If he is so cold, and dull, and without spirituality, as to freeze every thing, no wonder people do not come to the meeting. Church officers often complain and scold because people do not come to the prayer meeting, when the truth is, they themselves are so cold that they freeze every body to death that comes.

14:56-64 6. Prayer meetings are most important meetings for the church. It is highly important for Christians to sustain the prayer meetings:--

14:57-64 (1.) To promote union.

14:58-64 (2.) To increase brotherly love.

14:59-64 (3.) To cultivate Christian confidence.

14:60-64 (4.) To promote their own growth in grace.

14:61-64 (5.) To cherish and advance spirituality.

14:62-64 7. Prayer meetings should be so numerous in the church, and be so arranged, as to exercise the gifts of every individual member of the church--male and female. Every one should have the opportunity to pray, and to express the feelings of his heart, if he has any. The sectional prayer meetings of this church are designed to do this. And if they are too large for this, let them be divided, so as to bring the entire mass into the work, to exercise all gifts, and diffuse union, confidence, and brotherly love through the whole.

14:63-64 8. It is important that impenitent sinners should always attend prayer meetings. If none come of their own accord, go out and invite them. Christians ought to take great pains to induce their impenitent friends and neighbors to come to prayer meetings. They can pray better for impenitent sinners when they have them right before their eyes. I have know female prayer meetings exclude sinners from the meeting. And the reason was, they were so proud they were ashamed to pray before sinners. What a spirit! Such prayers will do no good. They insult God. You have not done enough, by any means, when you have gone to the prayer meeting yourself. You cannot pray, if you have invited no sinner to go. If all the church have neglected their duty so, and have gone to the prayer meeting, and taken no sinners along with them, no subjects of prayer--what have they come for?

14:64-64 9. The great object of all the means of grace is to aim directly at the conversion of sinners. You should pray that they may be converted there. Not pray that they may be awakened and convicted, but pray that they may be converted on the spot. No one should either pray or make any remarks, as if he expected a single sinner would go away without giving his heart to God. You should all make the impression on his mind, that NOW he must submit. And if you do this, while you are yet speaking God will hear. If Christians make it manifest that they have really set their hearts on the conversions of sinners, and are bent upon it, and pray as they ought, there would rarely be a prayer meeting held without souls being converted, and sometimes every sinner in the room. That is the very time, if ever, that sinners should be converted in answer to those prayers. I do not doubt but that you may have sinners converted in every sectional prayer meeting, if you do your duty. Take them there, take your families, your friends, or your neighbors there with that design, give them the proper instruction, if they need instruction, and pray for them as you ought, and you will save their souls. Rely upon it, if you do your duty, in a right manner, God will not keep back his blessing, and the work will be done.

 

 

 

Back to contents

15:1-52 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION by The Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY LECTURE IX MEANS TO BE USED WITH SINNERS

15:2-52 TEXT.--Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen. --ISAIAH xliii:10.

15:3-52 IN the text it is affirmed of the children of God, that they are his witnesses. In several preceding lectures I have been dwelling on the subject of Prayer, or that department of means for the promotion of a revival, which is intended to move God to pour out his Spirit. I am now to commence the other department:

15:4-52 MEANS TO BE USED FOR THE CONVICTION AND CONVERSION OF SINNERS. It is true, in general, that persons are affected by the subject of religion, in proportion to their conviction of its truth. Inattention to religion is the great reason why so little is felt concerning it. No being can look at the great truths of religion, as truths, and not feel deeply concerning them. The devil cannot. He believes and trembles. Angels in heaven feel in view of these things. God feels. An intellectual conviction of truth is always accompanied with feeling of some kind.

15:5-52 One grand design of God in leaving Christians in the world after their conversion, is that they may be witnesses for God. It is that they may call the attention of the thoughtless multitude to the subject, and make them see the difference in the character and destiny of those who believe and those who reject the Gospel. This inattention is the grand difficulty in the way of promoting religion. And what the Spirit of God does is to awaken the attention of men to the subject of their sin and the plan of salvation. Miracles have sometimes been employed to arrest the attention of sinners. And in this way, miracles may become instrumental in conversion, although conversion is not itself a miracle, nor do miracles themselves ever convert any body. They may be the means of awakening. Miracles are not always effectual even in that. And if continued or made common, they would soon lose their power. What is wanted in the world is something that can be a sort of omnipresent miracle, able not only to arrest attention but to fix it, and keep the mind in warm contact with the truth, till it yields.

15:6-52 Hence we see why God has scattered his children everywhere, in families and among the nations. He never would suffer them to be all together in one place, however agreeable it might be to their feelings. He wishes them scattered. When the church at Jerusalem herded together, neglecting to go forth as Christ had commanded, to spread the Gospel all over the world, God let loose a persecution upon them and scattered them abroad, and then "they went every where preaching the gospel." In examining the text, I propose to inquire.

15:7-52 I. To what particular points Christians are to testify for God.

15:8-52 II. The manner in which they are to testify.

15:9-52 I. To what points are the children of God required to testify?

15:10-52 Generally, they are to testify to the truth of the Bible. They are competent witnesses to this, for they have experience of its truth. The experimental Christian has no more need of external evidence to prove the truth of the Bible to his mind, than he has to prove his own existence. The whole plan of salvation is so fully spread out and settled in his conviction, that to undertake to reason him out of his belief in the Bible would be a thing as impracticable as to reason him out of the belief in his own existence. Men have tried to awaken a doubt of the existence of the material world. But they cannot succeed. No man can doubt the existence of a material world. To doubt it, is against his own consciousness. You may use arguments that he cannot answer, and may puzzle and perplex him, and shut up his mouth; he may be no logician or philosopher, and unable to detect your fallacies. But what he knows he knows.

15:11-52 So it is in religion. The Christian is conscious that the Bible is true. The veriest child in religion knows by his experience the truth of the Bible. He may hear objections from infidels, that he never thought of, and that he cannot answer, and he may be confounded, but he cannot be driven from his ground. He will say, "I cannot answer you, but I know the Bible is true."

15:12-52 As if a man should look in a mirror, and say, "That's my face." How do you know it is your face? "Why, by its looks." So when a Christian sees himself drawn and pictured forth in the Bible, he sees the likeness to be so exact, that he knows it is true. But more particularly, Christians are to testify--

15:13-52 1. To the immortality of the soul. This is clearly revealed in the Bible.

15:14-52 2. The vanity and unsatisfying nature of all earthly good.

15:15-52 3. The satisfying nature and glorious sufficiency of religion.

15:16-52 4. The guilt and danger of sinners. On this point they can speak from experience as well as the word of God. They have seen their own sins, and they understand more of the nature of sin, and the guilt and danger of sinners. And,

15:17-52 The reality of hell, as a place of eternal punishment for the wicked.

15:18-52 5. The love of Christ for sinners.

15:19-52 6. The necessity of a holy life, if we think of ever getting to heaven.

15:20-52 7. The necessity of self-denial, and living above the world.

15:21-52 8. The necessity of meekness, heavenly-mindedness, humility,

15:22-52 9. Integrity.

15:23-52 10. The necessity of an entire renovation of character and life, for all who would enter heaven. These are the subjects on which they are to be witnesses for God. And they are bound to testify in such a way as to constrain men to believe the truth.

15:24-52 II. How are they to testify?

15:25-52 By precept and example, on every proper occasion, by their lips, but mainly by their lives. Christians have no right to be silent with their lips; they should rebuke, exhort, and entreat with all long-suffering and doctrine. But their main influence as witnesses is by their example.

15:26-52 They are required to be witnesses in this way, because example teaches with so much greater force than precept. This is universally known. Actions speak louder than words. But where both precept and example are brought to bear, it brings the greatest amount of influence to bear upon the mind. As to the manner in which they are to testify; the way in which they should bear witness to the truth of the points specified; in general--they should live in their daily walk and conversation, as if they believed the Bible.

15:27-52 1. As if they believed the soul to be immortal, and as if they believed that death was not the termination of their existence, but the entrance into an unchanging state. They ought to live so as to make this impression full upon all around them. It is easy to see that precept without example on this point will do no good. All the arguments in the world will not convince mankind that you really believe this, unless you live as if you believed it. Your reasoning may be unanswerable, but if you do not live accordingly, your practice will defeat your arguments. They will say you are an ingenious sophist, or an acute reasoner, and perhaps admit that they cannot answer you; but then they will say, it is evident that your reasoning is all false, and that you know it is false, because your life contradicts your theory. Or that, if it is true, you do not believe it, at any rate. And so all the influence of your testimony goes to the other side.

15:28-52 2. The vanity and unsatisfying nature of the things of this world. You are to testify this by your life. The failure in this is the great stumbling block in the way of mankind. Here the testimony of God's children is needed more than any where else. Men are so struck with the objects of sense, and so constantly occupied with them, that they are very apt to shut out eternity from their minds. A small object, that is held close to the eye, may shut out the distant ocean. So the things of the world, that are near, magnify so in their minds, that they overlook every thing else. One important design in keeping Christians in the world is to teach people on this point, practically, not to labor for the meat that perisheth. But suppose professors of religion teach the vanity of earthly things by precept, and contradict it in practice. Suppose the women are just as fond of dress, and just as particular in observing all the fashions, and the men as eager to have fine houses and equipage, as the people of the world. Who does not see that it would be quite ridiculous for them to testify with their lips, that this world is all vanity, and its joys unsatisfying and empty? People feel this absurdity, and it is this that shuts up the lips of Christians. They are ashamed to speak to their neighbors, while they cumber themselves with these gewgaws, because their daily conduct testifies to every body the very reverse. How it would look for some of the church members in this city, male or female, to go about among the common people, and talk to them about the vanity of the world! Who would believe what they say?

15:29-52 3. The satisfying nature of religion. Christians are bound to show by their conduct, that they are actually satisfied with the enjoyments of religion, without the pomps and vanities of the world; that the joys of religion and communion with God keep them above the world. They are to manifest that this world is not their home. Their profession is, that heaven is a reality, and that they expect to dwell there for ever. But suppose they contradict this by their conduct, and live in such a way as to prove that they cannot be happy unless they have a full share of the fashion and show of the world, and that as for going to heaven, they had much rather remain on earth, than to die and go there! What do the world think, when they see a profession of religion just as much afraid to die as an infidel? Such Christians perjure themselves--they swear to a lie, for they testify that there is nothing in religion for which a person can afford to live above the world.

15:30-52 4. The guilt and danger of sinners. Christians are bound to warn sinners of their awful condition, and exhort them to flee from the wrath to come, and lay hold on everlasting life. But who does not know that the manner of doing this is every thing? Sinners are often struck under conviction by the very manner of doing a thing. There was a man once very much opposed to a certain preacher. On being asked to specify some reason, he replied, "I cannot bear to hear him, for he says the word HELL in such a way that it rings in my ears a long time afterwards." He was displeased with the very thing that constituted the power of speaking that word. The manner may be such as to convey an idea directly opposite to the meaning of the words. A man may tell you that your house is on fire in such a way as to make directly the opposite impression, and you will take for granted that it is not your house that is on fire. The watchman might sing out FIRE, FIRE, in such a way that every body would think he was either asleep or drunk. A certain manner is so usually connected with the announcement of certain things that they cannot be expressed without that manner. The words themselves never alone convey the meaning, because the idea can only be fully expressed by a particular manner of speaking. Go to a sinner, and talk with him about his guilt and danger; and if in your manner you make an impression that does not correspond, you in effect bear testimony the other way, and tell him he is in no danger of hell. If the sinner believes at all that he is in danger of hell, it is wholly on other grounds than your saying so. If you live in such a way as to show that you do not feel compassion for sinners around you; if you show no tenderness, by your eyes, your features, your voice; if your manner is not solemn and earnest, how can they believe you are sincere?

15:31-52 Woman, suppose you tell your unconverted husband, in an easy, laughing way, "My dear, I believe you are going to hell;" will he believe you? If your life is gay and trifling, you show that either you do not believe there is a hell, or that you wish to have him go there, and are trying to keep off every serious impression from his mind. Have you children that are unconverted? Suppose you never say any thing to them about religion, or when you do talk to them it is in such a cold, hard, dry way as shows you have no feeling; do you suppose they believe you? They don't see the same coldness in you in regard to other things. They are in the habit of seeing all the mother in your eye, and in the tones of your voice, your emphasis, and the like, and feeling the warmth of a mother's heart as it flows out from your lips on all that concerns them. If, then, when you talk to them on the subject of religion, you are cold and trifling, can they suppose you believe it? If your deportment holds up before your child this careless, heartless, prayerless spirit, and then you talk to him about the importance of religion, the child will go away and laugh, to think you should try to persuade him there is a hell.

15:32-52 5. The love of Christ. You are to bear witness to the reality of the love of Christ, by the regard you show for his precepts, his honor, his kingdom. You should act as if you believed that he died for the sins of the whole world, and as if you blamed sinners for rejecting his great salvation. This is the only legitimate way in which you can impress sinners with the love of Christ. Christians, instead of this, often live so as to make the impression on sinners that Christ is so compassionate that they have very little to fear from him. I have been amazed to see how a certain class of professors want ministers to be always preaching about the love of Christ. If a minister preaches up duty, and urges Christians to be holy, and to labor for Christ, they call it all legal preaching. They say they want to hear the Gospel. Well, suppose you present the love of Christ. How will they bear testimony in their lives? How will they show that they believe it? Why, by conformity to the world, they will testify point blank, that they do not believe a word of it, and that they care nothing at all for the love of Christ, only to have it for a cloak, that they can talk about it, and so cover up their sins. They have no sympathy with his compassion, and no belief in it as a reality, and no concern for the feelings of Christ, which fill his mind when he sees the condition of sinners.

15:33-52 6. The necessity of holiness in order to enter heaven. It will not do to depend on talking about this. They must live holy, and thus testify that men need not expect to be saved, unless they are holy. The idea has so long prevailed that we cannot be perfect here, that many professors do not so much as seriously aim at a sinless life. They cannot honestly say that they ever so much as really meant to live without sin. They drift along before the tide, in a loose, sinful, unhappy and abominable manner, at which, doubtless, the devil laughs, because it is, of all others, the surest way to hell.

15:34-52 7. The necessity of self-denial, humility, and heavenly-mindedness. Christians ought to show by their own example what the religion is which is expected of men. That is the most powerful preaching, after all, and the most likely to have influence on the impenitent, by showing them the great difference between them and Christians. Many people are trying to make men Christians by a different course, by copying as near as possible their present manner of life, and conforming to them as much as will possibly do. They seem to think they can make men fall in with religion best by bringing religion down to their standard. As if the nearer you bring religion to the world, the more likely the world would be to embrace it. Now all this is as wide as the poles from the true philosophy of making Christians. But it is always the policy of carnal professors. And they think they are displaying wonderful sagacity and prudence by taking so much pains not to scare people at the mighty strictness and holiness of the Gospel. They argue that if you exhibit religion to mankind as requiring such a great change in their manner of life, such innovations upon their habits, such a separation from their old associates, why, you will drive them all away. This seems plausible at first sight. But it is not true. Let professors live in this lax and easy way, and sinners say, "Why, I do not see but I am about right, or at least so near right, that it is impossible God should send me to hell for the difference between me and these professors. It is true, they do a little more than I do, they go to the communion table, and pray in their families, and a few such like little things, but they cannot make any such great difference as heaven and hell." No, the true way is, to exhibit religion and the world in strong contrast, or you never can make sinners feel the necessity of a change. Until the necessity of this fundamental change is embodied and held forth in a strong light by example, how can you make men believe they are going to be sent to hell if they are not wholly transformed in heart and life?

15:35-52 This is not only true in philosophy, but it has been proved by the history of the world. Look at the missions of the Jesuits in Japan, by Francis Xavier and his associates. How they lived, what a contrast they showed between their religion and the heathen, and what results followed! Now I was reading a letter from one of our missionaries in the East, who writes, I believe, to this effect, that a missionary must be able to rank with the English nobility, and so recommend his religion to the respect of the natives. He must get away up above them, so as to show a superiority, and thus impress them with respect! Is this philosophy? Is this the way to convert the world. You can no more convert the world in this way than by blowing a ram's horn. It has no tendency that way. What did the Jesuits do? They went about among the people in the daily practice of self-denial before their eyes, teaching, and preaching, and praying, and laboring, unwearied and unawed, mingling with every caste and grade, bringing down their instructions to the capacity of every individual. And in that way the mission carried idolatry before it like a wave of the sea, and all at once their religion spread over the vast empire of Japan. And if they had not meddled with politics and brought themselves in needless collision with the government, no doubt they would have held their ground till this day. I am not saying anything in regard to the religion they taught, for I am not sure how much truth they preached with it. I speak only of their following the true policy of missions, by showing, by their lives, the religion they taught in wide contrast with a worldly spirit and the fooleries of idolatry. This one feature of their policy so commended itself to the consciences of the people that it was irresistible. If Christians contradict this one point, and attempt to accommodate their religion to the worldliness of men, they render the salvation of the world impossible. How can you make people believe that self-denial and separation from the world are necessary, unless you practise them?

15:36-52 8. Meekness, humility, and heavenly-mindedness. The people of God should always show a temper like the Son of God, who when he was reviled, reviled not again. If a professor of religion is irritable, and ready to resent an injury, and fly in a passion, and take the same measures as the world do to get redress, by going to law and the like, how is he to make people believe there is any reality in a change of heart? They cannot recommend religion while they have such a spirit. If you are in the habit of resenting injurious conduct; if you do not bear it meekly, and put the best construction that can be on it, you contradict the Gospel. Some people always show a bad spirit, ever ready to put the worst construction on what is done, and take fire at any little thing. This shows a great want of that charity which "hopeth all things, believeth all things, endureth all things," But if a man always shows meekness under injuries, it will confound gainsaying. Nothing makes so solemn an impression upon sinners, and bears down with such a tremendous weight on their consciences, as to see a Christian, Christ-like bearing affronts and injuries with the meekness of a lamb. It cuts like a two-edged sword.

15:37-52 I will mention a case to show this. A young man abused a minister to his face, and reviled him in an unprecedented manner. The minister possessed his soul in patience, and spoke mildly in reply, telling him the truth pointedly, but yet in a very kind manner. This only made him the more angry, and at length he went away in a rage, declaring that he was not going to stay and bear this vituperation. As if it was the minister, instead of himself, that had been scolding. The sinner went away, but with the arrows of the Almighty in his heart, and in less than half an hour he followed the minister to his lodgings in intolerable agony, wept, and begged forgiveness, and broke down before God, and yielded up his heart to Christ. This calm and mild manner was more overwhelming to him than a thousand arguments. Now if that minister had been thrown off his guard, and answered harshly, no doubt he would have ruined the soul of that young man. How many of you have defeated every future effort you may make with your impenitent friends or neighbors, in some such way as this. On some occasion you have showed yourself so irascible, that you have sealed up your own lips, and laid a stumbling block over which that sinner will stumble into hell. If you have done it in any instance, do not sleep till you have done all you can to retrieve the mischief; till you have confessed the sin and done every thing to counteract it as far as possible.

15:38-52 9. The necessity of entire honesty in a Christian. Oh what a field opens here for remark! But I cannot go over it fully now. It extends to all the departments of life. Christians need to show the strictest regard to integrity in every department of business, and in all their intercourse with their fellow-men. If every Christian would pay a scrupulous regard to honesty, and always be conscientious to do exactly right, it would make a powerful impression on the minds of people of the reality of religious principle.

15:39-52 A lady was once buying some eggs in a store, and the clerk made a miscount and gave her one more than the number. She saw it at the time, but said nothing, and after she got home it troubled her. She felt that she had acted wrong, soon hurried back to the young man and confessed it and paid the difference. The impression of her conscientious integrity went to his heart like a sword. It was a great sin in her to conceal the miscount, because the temptation was so small; for if she would cheat him out of an egg, it showed that she would cheat him out of his whole store, if she could do it and not be found out. But her prompt and humble confession showed an honest conscience.

15:40-52 I am happy to say, there are some men who deal on this principle of integrity. And the wicked hate them for it. They rail against them, and vociferate in bar-rooms, that they never will buy goods of such and such individuals, that such a hypocrite shall never touch a dollar of their money, and all that, and then they will go right away and buy of them, because they know they shall be honestly dealt with. This is a testimony to the truth of religion, that is heard from Georgia to Maine. Suppose all Christians did so, what would be the consequence? Christians would run away with the business of the city. The Christians would soon do the business of the world. The great argument which some Christians urge, that if they do not do business upon the common principle, of stating one price and taking another, they cannot compete with men of the world, is all false--false in philosophy and false in history. Only make it your invariable rule to do right, and do business upon principle, and you control the market. The ungodly will be obliged to conform to your standard. It is perfectly in the power of the church to regulate the commerce of the world, if they will only themselves maintain perfect integrity.

15:41-52 And if Christians will do the same in politics, they will sway the destinies of nations, without involving themselves at all in the base and corrupting strife of parties. Only let Christians generally determine to vote for no man for any office, that is not an honest man and a man of pure morals, and let it be known that Christians are united in this, whatever may be their difference in political sentiments, and no man would be put up who is not such a character. In three years it would be talked about in taverns and published in newspapers, when any man is set up as a candidate for office, "What a good man he is, how moral, how pious!" and the like. And any political party would no more set up a known Sabbath-breaker, or a gambler, or a profane swearer, or a whoremonger, or a rum-seller, as their candidate for office, than they would set up the devil himself for president. The carnal policy of many professors, who undertake to correct politics by such means as wicked men employ, and who are determined to vote with a party, let the candidate be ever so profligate, is all wrong--wrong in principle, contrary to philosophy and common sense, and ruinous to the best interests of mankind. The dishonesty of the church is cursing the world. I am not going to preach a political sermon, I assure you. But I want to show you, that if you mean to impress men favorably to your religion by your lives, you must be honest, strictly honest, in business, politics, and every thing you do. What do you suppose those ungodly politicians, who know themselves to be playing a dishonest game in carrying an election, think of your religion when they see you uniting with them? They know you are a hypocrite!

15:42-52 REMARKS. 1. It is unreasonable for professors of religion to wonder at the thoughtlessness of sinners.--Every thing considered, the carelessness of sinners is not wonderful. We are affected by testimony, and only by that testimony which is received by our minds. Sinners are so taken up with business, pleasure, and the things of the world, that they will not examine the Bible to find out what religion is. Their feelings are excited only on worldly subjects, because these only are brought into warm contact with their minds. The things of the world make therefore a strong impression. But there is so little to make an impression on their minds in respect to eternity, and to bring religion home to them, that they do not feel on the subject. If they examined the subject they would feel. But they do not examine it, nor think upon it, nor care for it. And they never will, unless God's witnesses rise up and testify. But inasmuch as the great body of Christians in fact live so as to testify on the other side by their conduct, how can we expect that sinners will feel right on the subject? Nearly all the testimony and all the influence that comes to their minds tends to make them feel the other way. God has left his cause here before the human race, and left his witnesses to testify in his behalf, and behold, they turn round and testify the other way! Is it any wonder that sinners are careless?

15:43-52 2. We see why it is that preaching does so little good; and how it is that so many sinners get gospel-hardened. Sinners that live under the Gospel are often supposed to be gospel-hardened; but only let the church wake up, and act consistently, and they will feel. If the church were to live only one week as if they believed the Bible, sinners would melt down before them. Suppose I were a lawyer, and should go into court and spread out my client's case, the issue is joined, and I make my statements, and tell what I expect to prove, and then call in my witnesses. The first witness takes his oath, and then rises up and contradicts me to my face. What good will all my pleading do? I might address the jury a month, and be as eloquent as Cicero, but so long as my witnesses contradicted me, all my pleading would do no good. Just so it is with a minister who is preaching in the midst of a cold, stupid, and God-dishonoring church. In vain does he hold up to view the great truths of religion, when every member of the church is ready to swear he lies. Why, in such a church, their very manner of going out of the aisles contradicts the sermon. They press out as cheerful and as easy, bowing to one another, and whispering together, as if nothing was the matter. Let the minister warn every man daily with tears, it will produce no effect. If the devil should come in and see the state of things, he would think he could not better the business for his interest.

15:44-52 Yet there are ministers who will go on in this way for years, preaching over the heads of such a people, that by their lives contradict every word they say, and they think it their duty to do so. Duty! To preach to a church that are undoing all his work, and contradicting all his testimony, and that will not alter! No. Let him shake off the dust from his feet for a testimony, and go to the heathen, or to the new settlements. The man is wasting his energies, and wearing out his life, and just rocking the cradle for a sleepy church, all testifying to sinners, there is no danger. Their whole lives are a practical testimony that the Bible is not true. Shall ministers continue to wear themselves out so? Probably not less than ninety-nine-hundredths of the preaching in this country is lost, because it is contradicted by the church. Not one truth in a hundred that is preached takes effect, because the lives of professors testify that it is not so.

15:45-52 3. It is evident that the standard of Christian living must be raised, or the world will never be converted. If we had as many church members now as there are families, and scattered all over the world, and a minister to every five hundred souls, and every child in a Sabbath-school, and every young person in a Bible-class, you would have all the machinery you want, but if the church contradict the truth by their lives, it never would produce a revival.

15:46-52 They never will have a revival in any place while the whole church in effect testify against the minister. Often it is the case that where there is the most preaching, there is the least religion, because the church contradict the preaching. I never knew means fail of a revival where Christians live consistently. One of the first things is to raise the standard of religion, so as to embody and hang out in the sight of all men, the truth of the Gospel. Unless ministers can get the church to wake up and act as if religion was true, and back their testimony by their lives, in vain will they attempt to promote a revival.

15:47-52 Many churches are depending on their minister to do everything. When he preaches, they will say, "What a great sermon that was. He's an excellent minister. Such preaching must do good. We shall have a revival soon, I do not doubt." And all the while they are contradicting the preaching by their lives. I tell you, if they are depending on preaching alone to carry on the work, they must fail. If Jesus Christ were to come and preach, and the church contradict it, he would fail. It has been tried once. Let an apostle rise from the dead, or an angel come down from heaven and preach, without the church to witness for God, and it would have no effect. The novelty might produce a certain kind of effect for a time, but as soon as the novelty was gone, the preaching would have no saving effect, while contradicted by the witnesses.

15:48-52 4. Every Christian makes an impression by his conduct, and witnesses either for one side or the other. His looks, dress, whole demeanor, make a constant impression on one side or the other. He cannot help testifying for or against religion. He is either gathering with Christ, or scattering abroad. Every step you take, you tread on chords that will vibrate to all eternity. Every time you move, you touch keys whose sound will re-echo over all the hills and dales in heaven, and through all the dark caverns and vaults of hell. Every movement of your lives, you are exerting a tremendous influence, that will tell on the immortal interests of souls all around you. Are you asleep, while all your conduct is exerting such an influence?

15:49-52 Are you going to walk in the street? Take care how you dress. What is that on your head? What does that gaudy ribbon, and those ornaments upon your dress, say to every one that meets you? It makes the impression that you wish to be thought pretty. Take care! You might just as well write on your clothes, "NO TRUTH IN RELIGION." It says, "GIVE ME DRESS, GIVE ME FASHION, GIVE ME FLATTERY, AND I AM HAPPY." The world understand this testimony as you walk the streets. You are "living epistles, known and read of all men." If you show pride, levity, bad temper, and the like, it is like tearing open the wounds of the Saviour. How Christ might weep to see professors of religion going about hanging up his cause to contempt at the comers of streets. Only "let the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety, not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array, but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works;" only let them act consistently, and their conduct will tell on the world, heaven will rejoice and hell groan at their influence. But oh, let them display vanity, try to be pretty, bow down to the goddess of fashion, fill their ears with ornaments, and their fingers with rings. Let them put feathers in their hats, and clasps upon their arms, lace themselves up till they can hardly breathe. Let them put on their "round tires and walk mincing as they go," and their influence is reversed. Heaven puts on the robes of mourning, and hell may hold a jubilee.

15:50-52 5. It is easy to see why revivals do not prevail in a great city. How can they? Just look at God's witnesses, and see what they are testifying to. They seem to be agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord, and lie to the Holy Ghost. They make their vows to God, to consecrate themselves wholly to him, and then go bowing down at the shrine of fashion, and then wonder there are no revivals. It would be more than a miracle to have a revival under such circumstances. How can a revival prevail in this church? Do you suppose I have such a vain imagination of my own ability, as to think I can promote a revival by preaching over your heads, while you live on as some of you do? Do you not know that so far as your influence goes, many of you are right in the way of a revival? Your spirit and deportment produce an influence on the world against religion. How shall the world believe religion, when the witnesses are not agreed among themselves? You contradict yourselves, you contradict one another, and you contradict your minister, and the sum of the whole testimony is, there is no need of being pious.

15:51-52 Do you believe the things I have been preaching are true, or are they the ravings of a disturbed mind? If they are true, do you recognize the fact that they have reference to you? You say, perhaps, "I wish some of the rich churches could hear it!" Why, I am not preaching to them, I am preaching to you. My responsibility is to you, and my fruits must come from you. Now are you contradicting it? What is the testimony on the leaf of the record that is now sealed for the judgment concerning this day? Have you manifested a sympathy with the Son of God, when his heart is bleeding in view of the desolations of Zion? Have your children, clerks, servants, seen it to be so? Have they seen a solemnity on your countenance, and tears in your eyes, in view of perishing souls?

15:52-52 FINALLY. --I must close by remarking, that God and all moral beings have great reason to complain of this false testimony. There is ground to complain that God's witnesses turn and testify point-blank against him. They declare by their conduct that there is no truth in the gospel. Heaven might weep and hell rejoice to see this. Oh, how guilty! Here you are, going to the judgment, red all over with blood. Sinners are to meet you there, those who have seen how you live, many of them already dead, and many others you will never see again. What an influence you have exerted! Perhaps hundreds of souls will meet you in the judgment, and curse you (if they are allowed to speak) for leading them to hell, by practically denying the truth of the gospel. What will become of this city, and of the world, when the church is united in practically testifying that God is a liar? They testify by their lives, that if they make a profession and live a moral life, that is religion enough. Oh, what a doctrine of devils is that! Enough to ruin the whole human race.

 

 

 

Back to contents

16:1-73 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION by The Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY LECTURE X TO WIN SOULS REQUIRES WISDOM

16:2-73 TEXT. --He that winneth souls is wise. --PROVERBS xi. 30.

16:3-73 THE most common definition of wisdom is, that it is the choice of the best end and the selection of the most appropriate means for the accomplishment of that end--the best adaptation of means to secure a desired end. "He that winneth souls," God says, "is wise." The object of this evening's lecture is to direct Christians in the use of means for accomplishing their infinitely desirable end, the salvation of souls. To-night I shall confine my attention to the private efforts of individuals for the conversion and salvation of men. On another occasion, perhaps I shall use the same text in speaking of what is wise in the public preaching of the Gospel, and the labors of ministers. In giving some directions to aid private Christians in this work, I propose,

16:4-73 I. To show Christians how they should deal with careless sinners.

16:5-73 II. How they should deal with awakened sinners.

16:6-73 III. How they should deal with convicted sinners.

16:7-73 I. The manner of dealing with careless sinners.

16:8-73 1. In regard to the time. It is important that you should select a proper time to try to make a serious impression on the mind of a careless sinner. Much depends on timing your efforts right. For if you fail of selecting the most proper time, very probably you will be defeated. True, you may say, it is your duty at all times to warn sinners, and try to awaken them to think of their souls. And so it is; yet if you do not pay due regard to the time and opportunity, your hope of success may be very doubtful.

16:9-73 (1.) It is desirable, if possible, to address a person that is careless, when he is disengaged from other employments. In proportion as his attention is taken up with something else, it will be difficult to awaken him to religion. People who are careless and indifferent to religion are often offended, rather than benefited, by being called off from important and lawful business. For instance, a minister perhaps goes to visit the family of a merchant, or mechanic, or farmer, and finds the man absorbed in his business; perhaps he calls him off from his work when it is urgent, and the man is uneasy and irritable, and feels as if it was an intrusion. In such a case, there is little room to expect any good. Notwithstanding it is true that religion is infinitely more important than all his worldly business, and he ought to postpone everything to the salvation of his soul, yet he does not feel it, for if he did he would no longer be a careless sinner, and therefore he regards it as unjustifiable, and gets offended. You must take him as you find him, a careless, impenitent sinner, and deal with him accordingly. He is absorbed in other things, and very apt to be offended if you take such a time to interfere and call his attention to religion.

16:10-73 (2.) It is important to take a person, if possible, at a time when he is not strongly excited with any other subject. If that is the case, he is in an unfit frame to be addressed on the subject of religion. In proportion to the strength of that excitement, would be the probability that you would do no good. You may possibly reach him; persons have had their minds arrested and turned to religion in the midst of a powerful excitement on other subjects. But it is not likely.

16:11-73 (3.) Be sure that the person is perfectly sober. It used to be more common that it is now for people to drink spirits every day, and become more or less intoxicated. Precisely in proportion as they are so, they are rendered unfit to be approached on the subject of religion. If they have been drinking beer, or cider, or wine, so that you can smell their breath, you may know there is but little chance of producing any lasting effect on them. I have had professors of religion bring persons to me, pretending they were under conviction; for you know that people in liquor are often very fond of talking upon religion; but as soon as I came near them, so as to smell their breath, I have asked, Why do you bring this drunken man to me? Why, they say, he is not drunk, he has only drank a little. Well, that little has made him a little drunk. He is drunk if you can smell his breath, The cases are exceedingly rare where a person has been truly convicted, who had any intoxicating liquor in him.

16:12-73 (4.) If possible, where you wish to converse with a man on the subject of salvation, take him when he is in a good temper. If you find him out of humor, very probably he will get angry and abuse you. Better let him alone for that time, or you will be likely to quench the Spirit. It is possible you may be able to talk in such a way as to cool his temper, but it is not likely. The truth is, men hate God, and though their hatred may be dormant, it is easily excited, and if you bring God fully before their minds when they are already excited with anger, it will be so much the easier to arouse their enmity to open violence.

16:13-73 (5.) If possible, always take an opportunity to converse with careless sinners when they are alone. Most men are too proud to be conversed with freely respecting themselves in the presence of others, even their own family. A man in such circumstances will brace up all his powers to defend himself, while if he was alone he would melt down under the truth. He will resist the truth, or try to laugh it off, for fear that if he should manifest any feeling somebody will go and report that he is serious.

16:14-73 In visiting families, instead of calling the family together at the same time to be talked to, the better way is to see them all, one at a time. There was a case of this kind. Several young ladies, of a proud, gay, and fashionable character, lived together in a fashionable family. Two men were strongly desirous to get the subject of religion before them, but were at a loss how to accomplish it, for fear they would all combine, and counteract or resist every serious impression. At length they took this course. They called and sent up their card to one of the young ladies by name. She came down and they conversed with her on the subject of her salvation, and as she was alone, she not only treated them politely, but seemed to receive the truth with seriousness. A day or two after, they called in like manner on another, and then another, and so on, till they had conversed with every one separately. In a little time they were all, I believe, every one, hopefully converted. This was as it should be, for then they could not keep each other in countenance. And then the impression made on one was followed up with the others, so that one was not left to exert a bad influence over the rest.

16:15-73 There was a pious woman who kept a boarding house for young gentlemen; she had twenty-one or two of them in her family, and at length she became very anxious for their salvation; she made it a subject of prayer, but saw no seriousness among them. At length she saw that there must be something done besides praying, and yet she did not know what to do. One morning after breakfast, as they were retiring, she asked one of them to stop a few minutes. She took him to her room, and conversed with him tenderly on the subject of religion, and prayed with him. She followed up the impression made, and pretty soon he was hopefully converted. Then there were two, and they addressed another, and prayed with him, and soon he was prepared to join them. Then another, and so on, taking one at a time, and letting none of the rest know what was going on, so as not to alarm them, till every one of these young men was converted to God. Now if she had brought the subject before the whole of them together, very likely they would have turned it all into ridicule; or perhaps they would have been offended and left the house, and then she could have had no further influence over them. But taking one alone, and treating him respectfully and kindly, he had no such motive for resistance as arises out of the presence of others.

16:16-73 (6.) Try to seize an opportunity to converse with a careless sinner, when the events of Providence seem to favor your design. If any particular event should occur, calculated to make a serious impression, be sure to improve the occasion faithfully.

16:17-73 (7.) Seize the earliest opportunity to converse with those around you who are careless. Do not put it off from day to day, thinking a better opportunity will come. You must seek an opportunity, and if none offers make one. Appoint a time and place, and get an interview with your friend or neighbor, where you can speak to him freely. Send him a note, go to him on purpose, make it look like a matter of business, as if you were in earnest in endeavoring to promote his soul's salvation. Then he will feel that it is a matter of importance, at least in your eyes. Follow it up till you succeed, or become convinced nothing can now be done.

16:18-73 (8.) If you have any feeling for a particular individual, take an opportunity to converse with that individual while this feeling continues. If it is a truly benevolent feeling, you have reason to believe the Spirit of God is moving you to desire the salvation of his soul, and that God is ready to bless your efforts for his conversion. In such a case, make it the subject of special and importunate prayer, and seek an early opportunity to pour out all your heart to him and bring him to Christ.

16:19-73 2. In regard to the manner of doing all this.

16:20-73 (1.) When you approach a careless individual to endeavor to awaken him to his soul's concerns, be sure to treat him kindly. Let him see that you address him, not because you seek a quarrel with him, but because you love his soul, and desire his best good in time and eternity. If you are harsh and overbearing in your manner, you will probably offend him and drive him farther off from the way of life.

16:21-73 (2.) Be solemn. Avoid all lightness of manner or language. Levity will produce any thing but a right impression. You ought to feel that you are engaged in a very solemn work, which is going to affect the character of your friend or neighbor, and probably determine his destiny for eternity. Who could trifle and use levity in such circumstances if his heart was sincere?

16:22-73 (3.) Be respectful. Some seem to suppose it necessary to be abrupt, and rude, and coarse in their intercourse with the careless and impenitent. Nothing can be a greater mistake. The Apostle Paul has given us a better rule on the subject, where he says, "Be pitiful, be courteous, not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing." A rude and coarse address is only calculated to give an unfavorable opinion both of you and your religion.

16:23-73 (4.) Be sure to be very plain. Do not suffer yourself to cover up any circumstance of the person's character, and his relations to God. Lay it all open, not for the purpose of offending or wounding him, but because it is necessary. Before you can cure a wound, you must probe it to the bottom. Keep back none of the truth, but let it come out plainly before him.

16:24-73 (5.) Be sure to address his conscience. In public addresses, ministers often get hold of the feelings only, and thus awaken the mind. But in private conversation you cannot do so. You cannot pour out the truth in an impassioned and rousing manner. And unless you address the conscience pointedly, you get no hold of the mind at all.

16:25-73 (6.) Bring the great and fundamental truths to bear upon the person's mind. Sinners are very apt to run off upon some pretext or some subordinate point, especially some point of sectarianism. For instance, if the man is a Presbyterian, he will try to turn the conversation on the points of difference between Presbyterians and Methodists. Or he will fall foul of old school divinity. Do not yield to him, or talk with him on any such point; it will do more hurt than good. Tell him the present business is to save his soul, and not to settle controverted questions in theology. Hold him to the great fundamental points, by which he must be saved or lost.

16:26-73 (7.) Be very patient. If he has a real difficulty in his mind, be very patient till you find out what it is, and then clear it up. If what he alleges is a mere cavil, make him see that it is a cavil. Do not try to answer it by argument, but show him that he is not sincere in advancing it. It is not worth while to spend your time in arguing against a cavil, but make him feel that he is committing sin to plead it, and thus enlist his conscience on your side.

16:27-73 (8.) Be careful to guard your own spirit. There are many people who have not good temper enough to converse with those who are much opposed to religion. And such a person wants no better triumph than to see you angry. He will go away exulting because he has made one of these saints mad.

16:28-73 (9.) If the sinner is inclined to intrench himself against God, be careful not to take his part in anything. If he says he cannot do his duty, do not take sides with him, or say any thing to countenance his falsehood. Do not tell him he cannot, or help him maintain himself in the controversy against his Maker. Sometimes a careless sinner will go to finding fault with Christians. Do not take his part or side with him against Christians. Just tell him he has not got their sins to answer for, and he had better see to his own concerns. If you fall in with him, he feels that he has you on his side. Show him that it is a censorious and wicked spirit that prompts him to make these remarks, and not a regard for the honor of religion or the laws of Jesus Christ.

16:29-73 (10.) Bring up the individual's particular sins. Talking in general terms against sin will produce no results. You must make a man feel that you mean him. A minister who cannot make his hearers feel that he means them, cannot expect to accomplish much. Some people are very careful to avoid mentioning the particular sins of which they know the individual to be guilty, for fear of hurting his feelings. This is wrong. If you know his history, bring up his particular sins, kindly but plainly, not to give offence, but to awaken conscience, and give full force to the truth.

16:30-73 (11.) It is generally best to be short, and not spin out what we have to say. Get the attention as soon as you can to the very point, say a few things and press them home, and bring the matter to an issue. If possible, get them to repent and give themselves to Christ at the time. This is the proper issue. Carefully avoid making an impression that you do not expect them to repent NOW.

16:31-73 (12.) If possible, when you converse with sinners, be sure to pray with them. If you converse with them, and leave them without praying, you leave your work undone.

16:32-73 II. The manner of dealing with awakened sinners.

16:33-73 1. You should be careful to distinguish between an awakened sinner, and one who is under conviction. When you find a person who feels a little on the subject of religion, do not take it for granted that he is convicted of sin, and thus omit to use means to show him his sin. Persons are often awakened by some providential circumstance, as sickness, a thunderstorm, pestilence, death in the family, disappointment, or the like, or by the Spirit of God, so that their ears are open, and they are ready to hear on the subject of religion with attention and seriousness, and some feeling. If you find a person awakened, no matter by what means, lose no time in pouring light upon his mind, Do not be afraid, but show him the breadth of the Divine law, and the exceeding strictness of its precepts. Make him see how it condemns his thoughts and life. Search out his heart, find what is there, and bring it up before his mind, as far as you can. If possible, melt him down on the spot. When once you have got a sinner's attention, very often his conviction and conversion is the work of a few moments. You can sometimes do more in five minutes, than in years or a whole life while he is careless or indifferent.

16:34-73 I have been amazed at the conduct of those cruel parents, and other heads of families, who will let an awakened sinner be in their families for days and weeks, and not say a word to him on the subject. Why, they say, if the Spirit of God has begun a work in him, he will certainly carry it on! Perhaps the person is anxious to converse, and puts himself in the way of Christians, as often as possible, expecting they will converse with him, and they do not say a word. Amazing! Such a person ought to be looked out immediately, as soon as he is awakened, and let a blaze of light be poured into his mind without delay. Whenever you have reason to believe that a person within your reach is awakened, do not sleep till you have poured in the light upon his mind, and tried to bring him to immediate repentance. Then is the time to press the subject with effect. If that favorable moment is lost, it can never be recovered.

16:35-73 I have often seen Christians in revivals, who were constantly on the look-out to see if any persons appeared to be awakened. And as soon as they saw any one begin to manifest feeling under preaching, they would mark him, and as soon as the meeting was out, invite him to a room and converse and pray with him, and if possible not leave him till he was converted. A remarkable case of this kind occurred in a town at the West. A merchant came to the place from a distance to buy goods. It was a time of powerful revival, but he was determined to keep out of its influence, and so he would not go to any meeting at all. At length he found everybody so much engaged in religion that it met him at every turn, and he got vexed, and swore he would go home. There was so much religion there, he said, he could not do any business, and he would not stay. Accordingly he took his seat for the stage, which was to leave at four o'clock the next morning. As he spoke of going away, a gentleman belonging to the house, who was one of the young converts, asked him if he would not go to a meeting once before he left town. He finally consented, and went to the meeting. The sermon took hold of his mind, but not with sufficient power to bring him into the kingdom. He returned to his lodgings, and called the landlord to pay his bill. The landlord, who had himself recently experienced religion, saw that he was agitated. He accordingly spoke to him on the subject of religion, and the man burst into tears. The landlord immediately called in three or four young converts, and they prayed and exhorted him, and at four o'clock in the morning, when the stage called, he went on his way rejoicing in God! When he got home, he called his family together, confessed to them his past sins, and avowed his determination to live differently, and prayed with them for the first time. It was so unexpected that it was soon noised abroad, people began to inquire, and a revival broke out in the place. Now, suppose these Christians had done as some do, been careless, and let the man go off, slightly impressed? It is not probable he ever could have been saved. Such opportunities are often lost for ever, when once the favorable moment is passed.

16:36-73 III. The manner of dealing with convicted sinners.

16:37-73 By a convicted sinner I mean one who feels himself condemned by the law of God, as a guilty sinner. He has so much instruction as to understand something of the extent of God's law, and he sees and feels his guilty state, and knows what his remedy is. To deal with these often requires great wisdom. There are some most trying cases occur, when it is extremely difficult to know what to do with them.

16:38-73 1. When a person is convicted and not converted, but remains in an anxious state, there is generally some specific reason for it. In such cases, it does no good to exhort him to repent, or to explain the law to him. He knows all that, he understands all these general points. But still he does not repent. Now there must be some particular difficulty to overcome. You may preach and pray, and exhort till doomsday, and not gain anything.

16:39-73 You must then set yourself to inquire what is that particular difficulty. A physician, when he is called to a patient, and finds him sick with a particular disease, first administers the general remedies that are applicable to that disease. If they produce no effect, and the disease still continues, he must examine the case, and learn the constitution of the individual, and his habits, diet, manner of living, etc., and see what the matter is that the medicine does not take effect. So it is with the case of a sinner convicted but not converted. If your ordinary instructions and exhortations fail, there must be a difficulty. The particular difficulty is often known to the individual himself, though he keeps it concealed. Sometimes it is something that has escaped even his own observations.

16:40-73 (1.) Sometimes the individual has some idol, something which he loves more than God, which prevents him from giving himself up. You must search out and see what it is that he will not give up. Perhaps it is wealth, perhaps some earthly friend, perhaps gay dress, or gay company, or some favorite amusement. At any rate there is something on which his heart is so set that he will not yield to God.

16:41-73 (2.) Perhaps he has done an injury to some individual, that calls for redress, and he is unwilling to confess it or to make a just recompense. Now, until he will confess and forsake this sin, he can find no mercy. If he has injured the person in property, or character, or has abused him, he must make it up. If you can find it out, tell him plainly and frankly, that there is no hope for him till he is willing to confess it, and to do what is right.

16:42-73 (3.) Sometimes there is some particular sin, which he will not forsake. He pretends it is only a small one, or tries to persuade himself it is no sin. No matter how small it is, he can never get into the kingdom of God till he gives it up. Sometimes an individual has seen it to be a sin to use tobacco, and he never can find true peace till he gives it up. Perhaps he is looking upon it as a small sin.

16:43-73 But God knows nothing about small sins in such a case. What is the sin? Why it is injuring your health, setting a bad example, and taking God's money, which you are bound to employ in his service, and spending it for tobacco. What would a merchant say, if he found one of his clerks in the habit of going to the money drawer, and taking money enough to keep him in cigars? Would he call it a small offence? No, he would say he deserved to be sent to the State prison. I mention this particular sin, because I have found it to be one of the things to which men who are convicted will hold on when they know it is wrong, and then wonder why they do not find peace.

16:44-73 (4.) See if there is not some work of remuneration, which he is bound to do. Perhaps he has defrauded somebody in trade, or taken some unfair advantage, contrary to the golden rule of doing as you would be done by, and is unwilling to make satisfaction. This is a very common sin among merchants and men of business. I have known many melancholy instances, where men have grieved away the Spirit of God, or else have been driven well nigh to absolute despair because they were unwilling to give satisfaction where they have done such things. Now it is plain that such persons never can have forgiveness until they do it.

16:45-73 (5.) They may have intrenched themselves somewhere, and fortified their minds in regard to some particular point, which they are determined not to yield. For instance, they may have taken strong ground that they will not do a particular thing. I knew a man who was determined not to go into a certain grove to pray. Several other persons during the revival had gone into the grove, and there, by prayer and meditation, given themselves to God. His own clerk had been converted there. The lawyer himself was awakened, but he was determined that he would not go into the grove. He had powerful convictions, and went on for weeks in this way, with no relief. He tried to make God believe that it was not pride that kept him from Christ; and so, when he was going home from meeting, he would kneel down in the street and pray. And not only that, but he would look round for a mud-puddle in the street, in which he might kneel, to show that he was not proud. He once prayed all night in his parlor, but he would not go into the grove. His distress was so great, and he was so angry with God, that he was strongly tempted to make way with himself, and actually threw away his knife for fear he should cut his throat. At length he concluded he would go into the grove and pray, and as soon as he got there he was converted, and went and poured out his full heart to God.

16:46-73 So individuals are sometimes intrenched in a determination that they will not go to a particular meeting, perhaps the inquiry meeting, or some prayer meeting, or they will not have a certain person pray with them, or they will not take a particular seat, such as the anxious seat. They say that they can be converted just as well without yielding this point, for religion does not consist in this, going to a particular meeting, or taking a particular attitude in prayer, or a particular seat. This is true, but by taking this ground they make it the material point. And so long as they are intrenched there, and determined to bring God to their terms, they never can be converted. Sinners will often yield any thing else, and do any thing in the world, but yield the point upon which they have committed themselves, and taken a stand against God. They cannot be humbled until they yield this point, whatever it is. And if without yielding it they get a hope, it will be a false hope.

16:47-73 (6.) Perhaps he has a prejudice against some one, a member of the church perhaps, on account of some faithful dealing with his soul, or something in his business that he did not like, and he hangs on this and will never be converted till he gives it up. Whatever it be, you should search it out and tell him the truth plainly and faithfully.

16:48-73 (7.) He may feel ill will towards some one, or be angry, and cherish strong feelings of resentment, which prevent him from obtaining mercy from God. "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But, if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses."

16:49-73 (8.) Perhaps he entertains some errors in doctrine, or some wrong notions respecting the thing to be done, or the way of doing it, which may be keeping him out of the kingdom. Perhaps he is waiting for God. He is convinced that he deserves to go to hell, and that unless he is converted he must go there, but he is waiting for God to do something to him before he submits. He is in fact waiting for God to do for him what he has required the sinner to do.

16:50-73 He may be waiting for more conviction. People often do not know what conviction is, and think they are not under conviction, when in fact they are under powerful conviction. They often think nothing is conviction unless they have great fears of hell. But the fact is, individuals often have strong convictions, who have very little fear of hell. Show them what is the truth, and let them see they have no need to wait.

16:51-73 Perhaps he may be waiting for certain feelings, which somebody else has had before he obtained mercy. This is very common in revivals, where some one of the first converts has told of remarkable experiences. Others who are awakened are very apt to think they must wait for just such feelings. I knew a young man thus awakened; his companion had been converted in a remarkable way, and this one was waiting for just such feelings. He said he was using the means, and praying for them, but finally found that he was a Christian, although he had not been through the course of feeling he expected.

16:52-73 Sinners often lay out a plan of the way they expect to feel, and how they expect to be converted and in fact lay out the work for God, determined that they will go in that path or not at all. Tell them this is all wrong, they must not lay out any such path beforehand, but let God lead them as he sees to be best. God always leads the blind by a way they know not. There never was a sinner brought into the kingdom through such a course of feeling as he expected. Very often they are amazed to find that they are in, and have had no such exercises as they expected.

16:53-73 It is very common for persons to be waiting to be made subjects of prayer, or for some particular means to be used, or to see if they cannot make themselves better. They are so wicked, they say, that they cannot come to Christ. They want to try, by humiliation, and suffering, and prayer, to fit themselves to come. You will have to hunt them out of all these refuges. It is astonishing into how many corners they will often run before they will go to Christ. I have known persons almost deranged for the want of a little correct instruction.

16:54-73 Sometimes such people think their sins are too great to be forgiven, or that they have grieved the Spirit of God away, when that Spirit is all the while convicting them. They pretend their sins are greater than Christ's mercies, thus actually insulting the Lord Jesus Christ.

16:55-73 Sometimes sinners get the idea that they are given up of God, and that now they cannot be saved. It is often very difficult to beat persons off from this ground. Many of the most distressing cases I have ever met with have been of this character, where persons would insist upon it that they were given up and nothing would change them.

16:56-73 In a place where I was laboring in a revival I went one day into the meeting, and before the exercises commenced I heard a low moaning, distressing, unearthly noise. I looked and saw several women gathered round the person who made it. They said it was a woman in despair. She had been a long time in that state. Her husband was a drunkard. He had brought her to meeting and gone himself to the tavern. I conversed with her and saw her state, and that it was very difficult to reach her case. As I was going away to commence the exercises she said she must go out, for she could not hear praying or singing. I told her she must not go, and told the ladies to detain her, if necessary, by force. I felt that if the devil had hold of her, God was stronger than the devil, and could deliver her. The exercises began, and she made some noise at first. But by and by she looked up. The subject was chosen with special reference to her case, and as it proceeded, her attention was gained, her eyes were fixed--I never shall forget how she looked--her eyes and mouth open, her head up, and she almost rose from her seat as the truth poured in upon her mind. Finally, as the truth knocked away every foundation on which her despair had rested, she shrieked out, put her head down, and sat perfectly still till the meeting was out. I went to her, and found her perfectly calm and happy in God. I saw her long afterwards, and she remained so. Thus Providence threw her where she never expected to be, and compelled her to hear instruction adapted to her case. You may often do incalculable good by finding out precisely where the difficulty lies, and then bring the truth to bear right on that point.

16:57-73 Sometimes persons will strenuously maintain that they have committed the unpardonable sin. When they get that idea into their minds, they will turn every thing you say against themselves. In some such cases, it is a good way to take them on their own ground, and reason with them in this way; "Suppose you have committed the unpardonable sin, what then? It is reasonable that you should submit to God, and be sorry for your sins, and break off from them, and do all the good you can, even if God will not forgive you. Even if you go to hell you ought to do this." Press this thought and turn it over until you find they understand and consent to it,

16:58-73 It is common for persons in such cases to keep their eyes on themselves; they will shut themselves up and keep looking at their own darkness, instead of looking away to Christ. Now if you can take their minds off from themselves, and get them to think of Christ, you may draw them away from brooding over their own present feelings, and get them to lay hold on the hope set before them in the Gospel.

16:59-73 2. Be careful, in conversing with convicted sinners, not to make any compromise with them on any point where they have a difficulty. If you do, they will be sure to take advantage of it, and thus get a false hope. Convicted sinners often get into a difficulty, in regard to giving up some darling sin, or yielding some point where conscience and the Holy Ghost are at war with them. And if they come across an individual who will yield the point, they feel better and are happy, and think they are converted. The young man who came to Christ was of this character. He had one difficulty, and Jesus Christ knew just what it was. He knew he loved his money, and instead of compromising the matter and thus trying to comfort him, he just put his finger on the very place and told him, "Go sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and come follow me." What was the effect? Why the young man went away sorrowful. Very likely, if Christ had told him to do any thing else, he would have felt relieved, and would have got a hope; would have professed himself a disciple, joined the church, and gone to hell.

16:60-73 People are often amazingly anxious to make a compromise. They will ask such questions as this, Whether you do not think a person may be a Christian and yet do such and such things; or if he may not be a Christian and not do such and such things? Now, do not yield an inch to any such questions. These questions themselves may often show you the very point that is laboring in their minds. They will show you that it is pride, or love of the world, or something of the kind, which prevents their becoming Christians.

16:61-73 Be careful to make thorough work on this point, the love of the world. I believe there have been more false hopes built on wrong instructions here, than in any other way. I once heard a Doctor of Divinity trying to persuade his hearers to give up the world; and he told them "if they would only give it up, God would give it right back to them again. He is willing you should enjoy the world." Miserable! God never gives back the world to the Christian, in the same sense that he requires a convicted sinner to give it up. He requires us to give up the ownership of everything to him, so that we shall never again for a moment consider it as our own. A man must not think he has a right to judge for himself how much of his property he shall lay out for God. One man thinks he may spend twenty thousand dollars a year to support his family; he has a right to do it, because he has the means of his own. Another thinks he may lay up five hundred thousand dollars. One man said the other day, that he had promised he never would give any of his property to educate young men for the ministry. When he is applied to, he just answers, "I have said I never will give to any such object, and I never will." Man! did Jesus Christ ever tell you to do so with his money? Has he laid down any such rule? Remember it is his money you are talking about, and if he wants it to educate ministers, you withhold it at your peril. That man has yet to learn the first principle of religion, that he is not his own, and that the money which he possesses is Jesus Christ's.

16:62-73 Here is the great reason why the church is so full of false hopes. Men have been left to suppose they could be Christians while holding on to their money. And this has served as a clog to every enterprise. It is an undoubted fact that the church has funds enough to supply the world with Bibles, and tracts, and missionaries, immediately. But the truth is, that professors of religion do not believe that the "earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof." Every man supposes he has a right to decide what appropriation he shall make of his own money. And they have no idea that Jesus Christ shall dictate to them on the subject.

16:63-73 Be sure to deal thoroughly on this point. The church is now filled up with hypocrites, because they were never made to give up the world. They never were made to see that unless they made an entire consecration of all to Christ, all their time, all their talents, all their influence, all their possessions, they would never get to heaven. Many think they can be Christians, and yet dream along through life, and use all their time and property for themselves, only giving a little now and then, to save appearances, when they can do it with perfect convenience. But it is a sad mistake, and they will find it so, if they do not employ their energies for God. And when they die, instead of finding heaven at the end of the path they are pursuing, they will find hell there.

16:64-73 In dealing with a convicted sinner, be sure to drive him away from every refuge, and not leave him an inch of ground to stand on, so long as he resists God. This need not take a long time to do. When the Spirit of God is at work striving with a sinner, it is easy to drive him from his refuges. You will find the truth will be like a hammer, crushing wherever it strikes. Make clean work with it, so that he shall give up all for God.

16:65-73 Make the sinner see clearly the nature and extent of the Divine law, and press the main question of entire submission to God. Bear down on that point as soon as you have made him clearly understand what you aim at, and do not turn off upon anything else.

16:66-73 Be careful in illustrating the subject, not to mislead the mind so as to leave the impression that a selfish submission will answer, or a selfish acceptance of the atonement, or a selfish giving up to Christ and receiving him, as if a man was making a good bargain, giving up his sins and receiving salvation in exchange. This is mere barter, and not submission to God. Leave no ground in your explanations or illustrations, for such a view of the matter. Man's selfish heart will eagerly seize such a view of religion, if it be presented, and very likely close in with it, and thus get a false hope.

16:67-73 Another time I shall call your attention to certain things that are to be avoided in dealing with sinners.

16:68-73 REMARKS. 1. Make it an object of constant study and of daily reflection and prayer, to learn how to deal with sinners, so as to promote their conversion. It is the great business on earth of every Christian, to save souls. People often complain that they do not know how to take hold of this matter. Why, the reason is plain enough; they have never studied it. They never took the proper pains to qualify themselves for the work of saving souls. If people made it no more a matter of attention and thought to qualify themselves for their worldly business, than they do to save souls, how do you think they would succeed? Now, if you are thus neglecting the main business of life, what are you living for? If you do not make it a matter of study, how you may most successfully act in building up the kingdom of Christ, you are acting a very wicked and absurd part as a Christian.

16:69-73 2. Many professors of religion do more hurt than good, when they attempt to talk to impenitent sinners. They have so little knowledge and skill, that their remarks rather divert attention than increase it.

16:70-73 3. Be careful to find the point where the Spirit of God is pressing a sinner, and press the same point in all your remarks. If you divert his attention from that point, you will be in great danger of destroying his convictions. Take pains to learn the state of his mind, what he is thinking of, how he feels, and what he feels most deeply upon, and then press that thoroughly, and do not divert his mind by talking about anything else. Do not fear to press that point, for fear of driving him to distraction. Some people fear to press a point to which the mind is tremblingly alive, lest they should injure the mind, notwithstanding the Spirit of God is evidently debating that point with the sinner. This is an attempt to be wiser than God. You should clear up the point, throw the light of truth all around it, and bring the soul to yield, and then the mind is at rest.

16:71-73 4. Great evils have arisen, and many false hopes have been created, by not discriminating between an awakened and a convicted sinner. For the want of this, persons who are only awakened are immediately pressed to submit; "you must repent," "submit to God," when they are not in fact convinced of their guilt, nor instructed so far as even to know what submission means. This is one way in which revivals have been greatly injured by indiscriminate exhortations to repent, unaccompanied with proper instruction.

16:72-73 5. Anxious sinners are to be regarded as being in a very solemn and critical state. They have in fact come to a turning point. It is a time when their destiny is likely to be settled for ever. The Spirit of God will not strive always. Christians ought to feel deeply for them. In many respects their circumstances are more solemn than the judgment day. Here their destiny is settled. The judgment day reveals it. And the particular time when it is done is when the Spirit is striving with them. Christians should remember their awful responsibility at such times. The physician, if he knows any thing of his duty, sometimes feels himself under a very solemn responsibility. His patient is in a critical state, where a little error will destroy life, and he hangs quivering between life and death. If such responsibility is felt in relation to the body, what awful responsibility should be felt in relation to the soul, when it is seen to hang trembling on a point, and its destiny is now to be decided. One false impression, one indiscreet remark, one sentence misunderstood, a slight diversion of mind may wear him the wrong way, and his soul is lost. Never was an angel employed in a more solemn work than that of dealing with sinners who are under conviction. How solemnly and carefully then should Christians walk, how wisely and skillfully work, if they do not mean to be the means of damning a soul!

16:73-73 FINALLY. --If there is a sinner in this house, let me say to him, Abandon all your excuses. You have been told to-night that they are all vain. To-night it will be told in hell, and told in heaven, and echoed from the ends of the universe, what you decide to do. This very hour may seal your eternal destiny. Will you submit to God to-night--NOW?

 

 

 

Back to contents

17:1-72 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION by The Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY LECTURE XI A WISE MINISTER WILL BE SUCCESSFUL

17:2-72 TEXT. --He that winneth souls is wise. --PROVERBS xi. 30.

17:3-72 I PREACHED last Friday evening from the same text, on the method of dealing with sinners by private Christians. My object at this time is to take up the more public means of grace, with particular reference to the

17:4-72 DUTIES OF MINISTERS. As I observed in my last lecture, wisdom is the choice and pursuit of the best end by the most appropriate means. The great end for which the Christian Ministry was appointed, is to glorify God in the salvation of souls. In speaking on this subject I propose to show,

17:5-72 I. That a right discharge of the duties of a minister requires great wisdom.

17:6-72 II. That the amount of success in the discharge of his duties (other things being equal) decides the amount of wisdom employed by him in the exercise of his office.

17:7-72 I. I am to show that a right discharge of the duties of a minister requires great wisdom.

17:8-72 1. On account of the opposition it encounters. The very end for which the ministry is appointed is one against which is arrayed the most powerful opposition of sinners themselves. If men were willing to receive the Gospel, and there were nothing needed to be done but to tell the story of redemption, a child might convey the news. But men are opposed to the Gospel. They are opposed to their own salvation, in this way. Their opposition is often violent and determined. I once saw a maniac who had formed designs against his own life, and he would exercise the utmost sagacity and cunning to effect his purpose. He would be as artful and make his keepers believe he had no such design, that he had given it all up, and would appear as mild and sober, and at the instant the keeper was off his guard he would lay hands on himself. So sinners often exercise great cunning in evading all the efforts that are made to save them. And to meet this dreadful cunning, and overcome it so as to save men, ministers need a great amount of wisdom.

17:9-72 2. The particular means appointed to be employed in the work show the necessity of great wisdom in ministers. If men were converted by an act of physical omnipotence, creating some new taste, or something like that, and if sanctification were nothing but the same physical omnipotence rooting out the remaining roots of sin from the soul, it would not require so much sagacity and skill to win souls. Nor would there then be any meaning in the text. But the truth is that regeneration and sanctification are to be effected by moral means--by argument and not by force. There never was and never will be any one saved by any thing but truth as the means. Truth is the outward means, the outward motive, presented first by man and then by the Holy Spirit. Take into view the opposition of the sinner himself, and you see that nothing, after all, short of the wisdom of God and the moral power of the Holy Spirit, can break down this opposition, and bring him to submit to God. Still the means are to be used by men, and means adapted to the end, skillfully used. God has provided that the work of conversion and sanctification shall in all cases be done by means of that kind of truth, applied in that connection and relation, which is fitted to produce such a result.

17:10-72 3. He has the powers of earth and hell to overcome, and that calls for wisdom. The devil is constantly at work, trying to prevent the success of ministers, laboring to divert the attention from the subject of religion, and to get the sinner away from God and lead him down to hell. The whole framework of society, almost, is hostile to religion. Nearly all the influences which surround a man from his cradle to his grave, in the present state of society, are calculated to defeat the design of the ministry. Does not a minister then need great wisdom to conflict with the powers of darkness, and the whole influence of the world, in addition to the sinner's own opposition?

17:11-72 4. The same is seen from the infinite importance of the end itself. The end of the ministry is the salvation of the soul. When we consider the importance of the end, and the difficulties of the work, who will not say with the apostle, "Who is sufficient for these things?"

17:12-72 5. He must understand how to wake up the church, and get them out of the way of the conversion of sinners. This is often the most difficult part of a minister's work, and requires more wisdom and patience than any thing else. Indeed, to do this successfully, is a most rare qualification in the Christian ministry. It is a point where almost all ministers fail. They know not how to wake up the church, and raise the tone of piety to a high standard, and thus clear the way for the work of conversion. Many ministers can preach to sinners very well, but gain little success, while the counteracting influence of the church resists it all, and they have not skill enough to remove the difficulty. There is only here and there a minister in the country who knows how to probe the church when they are in a cold, backslidden state, so as effectually to wake them up and keep them awake. The members of the church sin against such light, that when they become cold it is very difficult to rouse them up. They have a form of piety which wards off the truth, while at the same time it is just that kind of piety which has no power nor efficiency. Such professors are the most difficult individuals to arouse from their slumbers. I do not mean that they are always more wicked than the impenitent. They are often employed about the machinery of religion, and pass for very good Christians, but are of no use in a revival.

17:13-72 I know ministers are sometimes amazed to hear it said that churches are not awake. No wonder such ministers do not know how to wake a sleeping church. There was a young licentiate heard brother Foote the other day, in this city, pouring out truth, and trying to wake up the churches, and he knew so little about it that he thought it was abusing the churches. So perfectly blind was he that he really thought the churches in New York were all awake on the subject of religion. So some years ago there was a great controversy and opposition raised, because so much was said about the churches being asleep. It was all truth, yet many ministers knew nothing about it, and were astonished to hear such things said about the churches. When it has come to this, that ministers do not know when the church is asleep, no wonder that we have no revivals. I was invited once to preach at a certain place. I asked the minister what was the state of the church. "Oh," says he, "to a man they are awake." I was delighted at the idea of laboring in such a church, for it was a sight I had never yet seen, to see every single member awake in a revival. But when I got there I found the church sleepy and cold, and I doubt whether one of them was awake.

17:14-72 Here is the great difficulty in keeping up revivals, to keep the church thoroughly awake and engaged. It is one thing for a church to get up in their sleep and bluster about and run over each other, and a widely different thing for them to have their eyes open, and their senses about them, and be wide awake, so as to know how to find God and how to work for Christ.

17:15-72 6. He must know how to set the church to work when they are awake. If a minister attempts to go to work alone, calculating to do it all himself, it is like attempting to roll a great stone up a hill alone. The church can do much to help forward a revival. Churches have sometimes had powerful revivals without any minister. But when a minister has a church who are awake, and knows how to set them to work, and how to sit at the helm and guide them, he may feel strong, and oftentimes may find that they do more than he does himself, in the conversion of sinners.

17:16-72 7. In order to be successful, a minister needs great wisdom to know how to keep the church to the work. Often the church seem just like children. You set children to work, and they appear to be all engaged, but as soon as your back is turned they will stop and go to play. The great difficulty in continuing a revival lies here. And to meet it requires great wisdom. To know how to break them down again, when their heart gets lifted up because they have had such a great revival; to wake them up afresh when their zeal begins to flag; to keep their hearts full of zeal for the work; these are some of the most difficult things in the world. Yet if a minister would be successful in winning souls, he must know when they first begin to grow proud, or to lose the spirit of prayer, and when to probe them and how to search them over again, how to keep the church in the field gathering the harvest of the Lord.

17:17-72 8. He must understand the Gospel. But you will ask, Do not all ministers understand the Gospel? I answer, that they certainly do not all understand it alike, for they do not all preach alike.

17:18-72 9. He must know how to divide it, so as to bring forward the particular truths, in that order, and to make them bear upon those points and at such times as are calculated to produce a given result. A minister should understand the philosophy of the human mind, so as to know how to plan and arrange his labors wisely. Truth, when brought to bear upon the mind, is in itself calculated to produce corresponding feelings. The minister must know what feelings he wishes to produce, and how to bring such truth to bear as is calculated to produce these feelings. He must know how to present truth calculated to humble Christians, or to make them feel for sinners, or to awaken sinners, or to convert them.

17:19-72 Often, when sinners are awakened, the ground is lost for the want of wisdom in following up the blow. Perhaps a rousing sermon is preached, Christians are moved, and sinners begin to feel, and the next Sabbath something will be brought forward that has no connection with the state of feeling in the congregation, and that is not calculated to lead the mind on to the exercise of repentance, faith or love. It shows how important it is that a minister should understand how to produce a given impression, at what time it may and should be done, and by what truth, and how to follow it up, till the sinner is broken down and brought in.

17:20-72 A great many good sermons preached are all lost for the want of a little wisdom here. They are good sermons, and calculated, if well timed, to do great good; but they have so little connection with the actual state of feeling in the congregation, that it would be more than a miracle if they should produce a revival. A minister may preach in this random way till he has preached himself to death, and never produce any great results. He may convert here and there a scattering soul; but he will not move the mass of the congregation unless he knows how to follow up his impressions, to carry out a plan of operations and execute it, so as to carry on the work when it is begun. He must not only be able to blow the trumpet so loud as to start the sinner from his lethargy, but when he is waked, he must lead him by the shortest way to Jesus Christ. And not as soon as sinners are roused by a sermon, immediately begin to preach about some remote subject that has no tendency to carry on the work.

17:21-72 10. To reach different classes of sinners successfully requires great wisdom on the part of a minister. For instance, a sermon on a particular subject may start a particular class of persons among his hearers. Perhaps they will begin to look serious, or perhaps talk about it, or perhaps they will begin to cavil about it. Now, if the minister is wise, he will know how to observe those indications, and to follow right on with sermons adapted to this class, until he leads them into the kingdom of God. Then let him go back and take another class, find out where they are hid, break down their refuges, and follow them up, till he leads them into the kingdom of God. He should thus beat about every bush where sinners hide themselves, as the voice of God followed Adam in the garden--"ADAM, WHERE ART THOU?" till one class of hearers after another are brought in, and so the whole community converted. Now a minister must be very wise to do this. It never will be done so, till a minister sets himself to hunt out and bring in every class of sinners in his congregation, the old and young, male and female, rich and poor.

17:22-72 11. A minister needs great wisdom to get sinners away from their present refuges of lies, without forming new hiding places for them. I once sat under the ministry of a man who had contracted a great alarm about heresies, and was constantly employed in confuting them. And he used to bring up many such heresies as his people never heard of. He got his ideas chiefly from books, and mingled very little among the people to know what they thought. And the result of his labors often was, that the people would be taken with the heresy, more than with the argument against it. The novelty of the error attracted their attention so much that they forgot the answer. And in that way he gave many of his people new objections against religion, such as they never thought of before. If a man does not mingle enough with mankind to know how people think now-a-days he cannot expect to be wise to meet their objections and difficulties.

17:23-72 I have heard a great deal of preaching against Universalists, that did more hurt than good, because the preachers did not understand how Universalists of the present day reason. They have never mingled with Universalists, and know not what they believe and how they argue, now, but have got all they know of Universalism from books that were written long ago, and are now out of date among Universalists themselves. And the consequence is that when they attempt to preach against Universalism they oppose a man of straw, and not Universalist sentiments as they are now found in the community. And people either laugh at them, or say it is all lies, for they know Universalists do not hold such sentiments as are ascribed to them by the preacher.

17:24-72 When ministers undertake to oppose a present heresy, they ought to know what it is at present. For instance, almost all those who write and preach against Universalism think they are called upon to oppose the idea that God is all mercy. They suppose Universalists hold the doctrine that God is all mercy, and that when they have refuted this doctrine, they have got Universalists down. But this is not true. They do not hold such doctrine. They deny it altogether. They reject the idea of mercy in the salvation of men, for they hold that every man is punished in full according to his just deserts. Of what use is it, then, to argue against Universalists, that God is a God of justice and not a God all mercy, when they hold to the justice of God alone as the ground of salvation, and do not admit the idea of mercy at all? In like manner, I have heard men preach against the idea that men are saved in their sins, and they supposed they were preaching down Universalist doctrine. Universalists believe no such thing. They believe that all men will be made holy and saved in that way. This shows the importance of knowing what people actually hold, before you try to reason them out of their errors. It is of no use to misrepresent a man's doctrines to his face, and then try to reason him out of them. You must state his doctrine just as he holds it, and state his arguments fairly. Otherwise, if you state them wrong, you either make him angry, or he laughs in his sleeve at the advantage you give him. He will say, That man cannot argue with me on fair grounds; he has to misrepresent our doctrines in order to confute me. Great hurt is done in this way. Ministers do not intend to misrepresent their opponents; but the effect of it is, that the poor miserable creatures who hold these errors go to hell because ministers do not take care to inform themselves what are their real errors. Errors are never torn away by such a process. I mention these cases to show how much wisdom a minister must have to meet the cases that occur. He must be acquainted with the real views of men in order to meet them, and do away their errors and mistakes.

17:25-72 12. Ministers ought to know what measures are best calculated to aid in accomplishing the great end of their office, the salvation of souls. Some measures are plainly necessary. By measures, I mean what things should be done to get the attention of the people and bring them to listen to the truth. Building houses for worship, and visiting from house to house, etc., are all "measures," the object of which is to get the attention of people to the Gospel. Much wisdom is requisite to devise and carry forward all the various measures that are adapted to favor the success of the Gospel.

17:26-72 What do the politicians do? They get up meetings; circulate handbills and pamphlets; blaze away in the newspapers; send their ships about the streets on wheels with flags and sailors; send coaches all over town, with handbills, to bring people up to the polls--all to gain attention to their cause and elect their candidate. All these are their "measures," and for their end they are wisely calculated. The object is to get up an excitement, and bring the people out. They know that unless there can be an excitement it is in vain to push their end, I do not mean to say that their measures are pious, or right, but only that they are wise, in the sense that they are the appropriate application of means to the end.

17:27-72 The object of the ministry is to get all the people to feel that the devil has no right to rule this world, but that they ought all to give themselves to God, and vote in the Lord Jesus Christ as the governor of the universe. Now what shall be done? What measures shall we take? Says one, "Be sure and have nothing that is new." Strange! The object of our measures is to gain attention, and you must have something new. As sure as the effect of a measure becomes stereotyped, it ceases to gain attention, and then you must try something new. You need not make innovations in everything. But whenever the state of things is such that anything more is needed, it must be something new, otherwise it will fail. A minister should never introduce innovations that are not called for. If he does they will embarrass him. He cannot alter the Gospel; that remains the same. But new measures are necessary, from time to time, to awaken attention and bring the Gospel to bear upon the public mind. And then a minister ought to know how to introduce new things, so as to create the least possible resistance or reaction. Mankind are fond of form in religion. They love to have their religious duties stereotyped, so as to leave them at ease; and they are therefore inclined to resist any new movement designed to rouse them up to action and feeling. Hence it is all-important to introduce new things wisely, so as not to give needless occasion or apology for resistance.

17:28-72 13. Not a little wisdom is sometimes needed by a minister to know when to put a stop to new measures. When a measure has novelty enough to secure attention to the truth, ordinarily no other new measure should be introduced. You have secured the great object of novelty. Anything more will be in danger of diverting the public mind away from the great object, and fixing it on the measures themselves. And then, if you introduce novelties when they are not called for, you will go over so large a field, that by and by when you really want something new, you will have nothing else to introduce, without doing something that will give too great a shock to the public mind. The Bible has laid down no specific course of measures to promote revivals of religion, but has left it to ministers to adopt such as are wisely calculated to secure the end. And the more sparing we are of our new things, the longer we can use them, to keep public attention awake to the great subject of religion. By a wise course this may undoubtedly be done for a long series of years, until our present measures will by and by have sufficient novelty in them again to attract and fix public attention. And so we shall never want for something new.

17:29-72 14. A minister, to win souls, must know how to deal with careless, with awakened, and with anxious sinners, so as to lead them right to Christ in the shortest and most direct way. It is amazing to see how many ministers there are who do not know how to deal with sinners, or what to say to them in their various states of mind. A good woman in Albany told me, that when she was under concern she went to her minister and asked him to tell her what she must do to get relief. And he said God had not given him much experience on the subject, and advised her to go to such a deacon, who perhaps could tell her what to do. The truth was, he did not know what to say to a sinner under conviction, although there was nothing peculiar in her case. Now if you think this minister a rare case, you are quite deceived. There are many ministers who do not know what to say to sinners.

17:30-72 A minister once appointed an anxious meeting, and went to attend it, and instead of going round to the individuals, he began to ask them the catechism, "Wherein doth Christ execute the office of a priest?" About as much in point to a great many of their minds as anything else.

17:31-72 I know a minister who held an anxious meeting, and went to attend it with a written discourse which he had prepared for the occasion. Just as wise as it would be if a physician, going out to visit his patients, should sit down at leisure and write all the prescriptions before he had seen them. A minister needs to know the state of mind of the individuals, before he can know what truth will be proper and useful to administer. I say these things, not because I love to do it, but because truth, and the object before me, requires them to be said. And such instances as I have mentioned are by no means rare.

17:32-72 A minister should know how to apply truth to all the situations in which he may find dying sinners going down to hell. He should know how to preach, how to pray, how to conduct prayer-meetings, and how to use all the means for bringing the truth of God to bear upon the kingdom of darkness. Does not this require wisdom? And who is sufficient for these things?

17:33-72 II. The amount of a minister's success in winning souls (other things being equal) invariably decides the amount of wisdom he has exercised in the discharge of his office.

17:34-72 1. This is plainly asserted in the text. "He that winneth souls is wise." That is, if a man wins souls, he does skillfully adapt means to the end, which is, to exercise wisdom. He is the more wise, by how much the greater is the number of sinners that he saves. A blockhead may, indeed, now and then stumble on such truth or such a manner of exhibiting it, as to save a soul. It would be a wonder indeed if any minister did not sometimes have something in his sermons that would meet the case of some individual. But the amount of wisdom is to be decided, "other things being equal," by the number of cases in which he is successful in converting sinners.

17:35-72 Take the case of a physician. The greatest quack in New York may now and then stumble upon a remarkable cure, and so get his name up with the ignorant. But sober and judicious people judge of the skill of a physician by the uniformity of his success in overcoming disease, the variety of diseases he can manage, and the number of cases in which he is successful in saving his patients. The most skillful saves the most. This is common sense. It is truth. And it is just as true in regard to success in saving souls, and true in just the same sense.

17:36-72 2. This principle is not only asserted in the text, but it is a matter of fact, a historical truth, that "He that winneth souls is wise." He has actually employed means adapted to the end, in such a way as to secure the end.

17:37-72 3. Success in saving souls is evidence that a man understands the Gospel, and understands human nature, that he knows how to adapt means to his end, that he has common sense, and that he has that kind of tact, that practical discernment, to know how to get at people. And if his success is extensive, it shows that he knows how to deal with a great variety of characters, in a great variety of circumstances, who are yet all the enemies of God, and to bring them to Christ. To do this requires great wisdom. And the minister who does it shows that he is wise.

17:38-72 4. Success in winning souls shows that a minister not only knows how to labor wisely for that end, but also that he knows where his dependence is. You know that fears are often expressed respecting those ministers who are aiming most directly and earnestly at the conversion of sinners. People say, "Why, this man is going to work in his own strength; one would imagine he thinks he can convert himself." How often has the event showed that the man knows what he is about, very well, and knows where his strength is too. He went to work to convert sinners so earnestly, just as if he could do it all himself; but that was the very way he should do. He ought to reason with sinners, and plead with them, as faithfully and fully as if he did not expect any interposition of the Spirit of God, or as if he knew there was no Holy Ghost. But whenever a man does this successfully, it shows that, after all, he knows he must depend on the Spirit of God alone for success.

17:39-72 OBJECTION.--There are many who feel an objection against this subject, arising out of the view they have taken of the ministry of Jesus Christ. They ask us, "What will you say about the ministry of Jesus Christ, was not he wise?" I answer, Yes, infinitely wise. But in regard to his alleged want of success in the conversion of sinners, you will observe the following things:

17:40-72 (1.) That his ministry was vastly more successful than is generally supposed. We read in one of the sacred writers, that after his resurrection and before his ascension "he was seen by above five hundred brethren at once." If so many as five hundred brethren were found assembled together at one place, we see there must have been a vast number of them scattered over the country.

17:41-72 (2.) Another circumstance to be observed is, that his public ministry was very short, less than three years.

17:42-72 (3.) Consider the peculiar design of his ministry. His main object was to make atonement for the sins of the world. It was not aimed so much at promoting revivals. The "dispensation of the Spirit" was not yet given. He did not preach the Gospel so fully as his apostles did afterwards. The prejudices of the people were so fixed and violent that they would not bear it. That he did not, is plain from the fact that even his apostles, who were constantly with him, did not understand the atonement. They did not get the idea that he was going to die, and consequently, when they heard he was actually dead, they were driven to despair, and thought the thing was all gone by, and their hopes blown to the winds. The fact was, that he had another object in view, to which every thing else was made to yield, and the perverted state of the public mind, and the obstinate prejudices prevailing, showed why results were not seen any more in the conversion of sinners. The state of public opinion was such, that they finally murdered him for what he did preach.

17:43-72 Many ministers who have little or no success, are hiding themselves behind the ministry of Jesus Christ, as if he was an unsuccessful preacher. Whereas, in fact, he was eminently successful, considering the circumstances in which he labored. This is the last place in all the world where a minister who has no success should think of hiding himself.

17:44-72 REMARKS. 1. A minister may be very learned and not wise. There are many ministers possessed of great learning; they understand all the sciences, physical, moral, and theological; they may know the dead languages, and possess all learning, and yet not be wise, in relation to the great end about which they are chiefly employed. Facts clearly demonstrate this. "He that winneth souls is wise."

17:45-72 2. An unsuccessful minister may be pious as well as learned, and yet not wise. It is unfair to infer because a minister is unsuccessful, that therefore he is a hypocrite. There may be something defective in his education, or in his mode of viewing a subject, or of exhibiting it, or such a want of common sense, as will defeat his labors, and prevent his success in winning souls, while he himself may be saved--"yet so as by fire."

17:46-72 3. A minister may be very wise, though he is not learned. He may not understand the dead languages, or theology in its common acceptation; and yet he may know just what a minister of the Gospel wants most to know, without knowing many other things. A learned minister and a wise minister are different things. Facts in the history of the church in all ages prove this. It is very common for churches, when looking out for a minister, to aim at getting a very learned man. Do not understand me to disparage learning. The more learning the better, if he is also wise in the great matter he is employed about. If a minister knows how to win souls, the more learning he has the better. But if he has any other kind of learning, and not this, he will infallibly fail of the end of his ministry.

17:47-72 4. Want of success in a minister (other things being equal) proves, (1.) either that he was never called to preach, and has taken it up out of his own head; or (2.) that he was badly educated, and was never taught the very things he wants most to know; or (3.) if he was called to preach, and knows how to do his duty, he is too indolent and too wicked to do it.

17:48-72 5. Those are the best educated ministers, who win the most souls. Ministers are sometimes looked down upon, and called very ignorant, because they do not know sciences and languages; although they are very far from being ignorant of the great thing for which the ministry is appointed. This is wrong. Learning is important, and always useful. But after all, a minister may know how to win souls to Christ, without great learning, and he has the best education for a minister, who can win the most souls to Christ.

17:49-72 6. There is evidently a great defect in the present mode of educating ministers. This is a SOLEMN FACT, to which the attention of the whole church should be distinctly called; that the great mass of young ministers who are educated accomplish very little.

17:50-72 When young men come out from the seminaries, are they fit to go into a revival? Look at a place where there has been a revival in progress, and a minister is wanted. Let them send to a theological seminary for a minister. Will he enter into the work, and sustain it, and carry it on? Seldom. Like David with Saul's armor, he comes in with such a load of theological trumpery, that he knows nothing what to do. Leave him there for two weeks, and the revival is at an end. The churches know and feel, that the greater part of these young men do not know how to do anything that needs to be done for a revival, and they are complaining that the young ministers are so far behind the church. You may send all over the United States, to theological seminaries, and find but few young ministers fitted to carry forward the work. What a state of things!

17:51-72 There is a grand defect in educating ministers. Education ought to be such, as to prepare young men for the peculiar work to which they are destined. But instead of this, they are educated for any thing else. The grand mistake is this. They direct the mind too much to irrelevant matters, which are not necessary to be attended to. In their courses of study, they carry the mind over too wide a field, which diverts their attention from the main thing, and so they get cold in religion, and when they get through, instead of being fitted for their work, they are unfitted for it. Under pretence of disciplining the mind, they in fact scatter the attention, so that when they come to their work, they are awkward, and know nothing how to take hold, or how to act, to win souls. This is not universally the case, but too often it is so.

17:52-72 It is common for people to talk loudly and largely about an educated ministry. God forbid that I should say a word against an educated ministry. But what do we mean by an education for the ministry? Do we mean that they should be so educated, as to be fitted for the work? If they are so educated, the more education the better. Let education be of the right kind, teaching a young man the things he needs to know, and not the very things he does not need to know. Let them be educated for the work. Do not let education be such, that when young men come out, after spending six, eight, or ten years in study, they are not worth half as much as they were before they went. I have known young men come out after what they call "a thorough course," who were not fit to take charge of a prayer meeting, and who could not manage a prayer meeting, so as to make it profitable or interesting. An elder of a church in a neighboring city, informed me recently of a case in point. A young man, before he went to the seminary, had labored as a layman with them, conducted their prayer meetings, and had been exceedingly useful among them. After he had been to the seminary, they sent for him and desired his help; but oh, how changed! he was so completely transformed, that he made no impression; the church soon began to complain that they should die under his influences, and he left, because he was not prepared for the work.

17:53-72 It is common for those ministers who have been to the seminaries, and are now useful, to affirm that their course of studies there did them little or no good, and that they had to unlearn what they had there learned, before they could effect much. I do not say this censoriously, but it is a solemn fact, and I must say it in love.

17:54-72 Suppose you were going to make a man a surgeon in the navy. Instead of sending him to the medical school to learn surgery, would you send him to the nautical school to learn navigation? In this way, you might qualify him to navigate a ship, but he is no surgeon. Ministers should be educated to know what the Bible is, and what the human mind is, and know how to bring one to bear on the other. They should be brought into contact with mind, and made familiar with all the aspects of society. They should have the Bible in one hand, and the map of the human mind in the other, and know how to use the truth for the salvation of men.

17:55-72 7. A want of common sense often defeats the ends of the Christian ministry. There are many good men in the ministry, who have learning, and talents of a certain sort, but they have no common sense to win souls.

17:56-72 8. We see one great defect in our theological schools.--Young men are shut up in their schools, confined to books and shut out from intercourse with the common people, or contact with the common mind, Hence they are not familiar with the mode in which common people think. This accounts for the fact that some plain men, that have been brought up to business, and acquainted with human nature, are ten times better qualified to win souls than those who are educated on the present principle, and are in fact ten times as well acquainted with the proper business of the ministry. These are called "uneducated men." This is a grand mistake. They are not learned in science, but they are learned in the very things which they need to know as ministers. They are not ignorant ministers, for they know exactly how to reach the mind with truth. They understand the minds of men, and how to adapt the gospel to their case. They are better furnished for their work, than if they had all the machinery of the schools.

17:57-72 I wish to be understood. I do not say that I would not have a young man go to school. Nor would I discourage him from going over the field of science. The more the better, if together with it he learns also the things that the minister needs to know, in order to win souls--if he understands his Bible, and understands human nature, and knows how to bring the truth to bear, and how to guide and manage minds, and to lead them away from sin and lead them to God.

17:58-72 9. The success of any measure designed to promote a revival of religion, demonstrates its wisdom with the following exceptions:

17:59-72 (1.) A measure may be introduced for effect to produce excitement, and be such that when it is looked back upon afterwards, it will look nonsensical, and appear to have been a mere trick. In that case, it will react, and its introduction will do more hurt than good.

17:60-72 (2.) Measures may be introduced, and the revival be very powerful, and the success be attributed to the measures, when in fact other things made the revival powerful, and these very measures may have been a hinderance.[sic.] The prayers of Christians, and the preaching, and other things may have been so well calculated to carry on the work, that it has succeded[sic.] in spite of these measures.

17:61-72 But when the blessing evidently follows the introduction of the measure itself, the proof is unanswerable, that the measure is wise. It is profane to say that such a measure will do more hurt than good. God knows about that. His object is, to do the greatest amount of good possible. And of course he will not add his blessing to a measure that will do more hurt than good. He may sometimes withhold his blessing from a measure that is calculated to do some good because it will be at the expense of a greater good. But he never will bless a pernicious proceeding. There is no such thing as deceiving God in the matter. He knows whether a given measure is, on the whole, wise, or not. He may bless a course of labours notwithstanding some unwise or injurious measures. But if he blesses the measure itself, it is rebuking God to pronounce it unwise. He who undertakes to do this, let him look to the matter.

17:62-72 10. It is evident that much fault has been found with measures, which have been pre-eminently and continually blessed of God for the promotion of revivals. We know it is said that the horrid oaths of a profane swearer have been the means of awakening another less hardened sinner. But this is a rare case. God does not usually make such a use of profanity. But if a measure is continually or usually blessed, let the man who thinks he is wiser than God, call it in question. TAKE CARE how you find fault with God!

17:63-72 11. Christians should pray for ministers. Brethren, if you felt how much ministers need wisdom to perform the duties of their great office with success, and how ignorant they all are, and how insufficient they are of themselves, to think anything as of themselves, you would pray for them a great deal more than you do; that is, if you cared anything for the success of their labors. People often find fault with ministers, when they do not pray for them. Brethren, this is tempting God, for you ought not to expect any better ministers, unless you pray for them. And you ought not to expect a blessing on the labors of your minister, or to have your families converted by his preaching, where you do not pray for him. And so for others, the waste places, and the heathen, instead of praying all the time, only that God would sent out more laborers, you have need to pray that God would make ministers wise to win souls, and that those he sends out may be properly educated, so that they shall be scribes well instructed in the kingdom of God.

17:64-72 12. Those laymen in the church who know how to win souls are to be counted wise. They should not be called "Ignorant laymen." And those church members who do not know how to convert sinners, and who cannot win souls, should not be called wise--as Christians. They are not wise Christians; only "he that winneth souls is wise." They may be learned in politics, in all sciences, or they may be skilled in the management of business, or other things, and they may look down on those who win souls, as nothing but plain, simple-hearted and ignorant men. If any of you are inclined to do this, and to undervalue those brethren who win souls, as being not so wise and cunning as you are, you deceive yourselves. They may not know some things which you know. But they know those things which a Christian is most concerned to know, and you do not.

17:65-72 It may be illustrated by the case of a minister that goes to sea. He may be learned in science, but he knows nothing how to sail a ship. And he begins to ask the sailors about this thing and that, and what is this rope for, and the like. "Why," say the sailors, "these are not ropes, we have only one rope in a ship, these are the rigging, the man talks like a fool." And so this learned man becomes a laughing-stock, perhaps, to the sailors, because he does not know how to sail a ship. But if he were to tell them one half of what he knows about science, perhaps they would think him a conjurer, to know so much. So learned students may understand their hic, hœc, hoc, very well, and may laugh at the humble Christian, and call him ignorant, although he may know how to win more souls than five hundred of them.

17:66-72 I was once distressed and grieved at hearing a minister bearing down upon a young preacher, who had been converted under remarkable circumstances, and who was licensed to preach without pursuing a regular course of study. This minister, who was never, or at least rarely, known to convert a soul, bore down upon the young man in a very lordly, censorious manner, depreciating him because he had not had the advantage of a liberal education, when in fact he was instrumental in converting more souls than any five hundred ministers like himself.

17:67-72 I would say nothing to undervalue, or lead you to undervalue a thorough education for ministers. But I do not call that a thorough education, which they get in our colleges and seminaries. It does not fit them for their work. I appeal to all experience, whether our young men in seminaries are thoroughly educated for the purpose of winning souls. DO THEY DO IT? Everybody knows they do not. Look at the reports of the Home Missionary Society. If I recollect right, in 1830, the number of conversions in connection with the labors of the missionaries of that society did not exceed five to each missionary. I believe the number has increased since, but is still exceedingly small to what it would have been had they been fitted by a right course of training for their work. I do not say this to reproach them, for from my heart I pity them, and I pity the church for being under the necessity of supporting ministers so trained, or none at all. They are the best men the Missionary Society can obtain. I suppose, of course, that I shall be reproached for saying this. But it is too true and too painful to be concealed. Those fathers who have the training of our young ministers are good men, but they are ancient men, men of another age and stamp, from what is needed in these days of excitement, when the church and world are rising to new thought and action. Those dear fathers will not, I suppose, see this; and will perhaps think hard of me for saying it; but it is the cause of Christ. Some of them are getting back toward second childhood, and ought to resign, and give place to younger men, who are not rendered physically incapable, by age, of keeping pace with the onward movements of the church. And here I would say, that to my own mind, it appears evident, that unless our theological professors preach a good deal, mingle much with the church, and sympathize with her in all her movements, it is morally, if not naturally, impossible, that they should succeed in training young men to the spirit of the age. It is a shame and a sin, that theological professors, who preach but seldom, who are withdrawn from the active duties of the ministry, should sit in their studies and write their letters, advisory, or dictatorial, to ministers and churches who are in the field, and who are in circumstances to judge what needs to be done. The men who spend all or at least a portion of their time in the active duties of the ministry, are the only men who are able to judge of what is expedient or inexpedient, prudent or imprudent, as to measures from time to time. It is as dangerous and ridiculous for our theological professors, who are withdrawn from the field of conflict, to be allowed to dictate, in regard to the measures and movements of the church, as it would be for a general to sit in his bed-chamber and attempt to order a battle. (This was said in 1833)

17:68-72 Two ministers were one day conversing about another minister whose labors were greatly blessed in the conversion of some thousands of souls. One of them said, "That man ought not to preach any more; he should stop and go to" a particular theological seminary which he named, "and go through a regular course of study." He said the man had "a good mind, and if he was thoroughly educated, he might be very useful," The other replied, "Do you think he would be more useful for going to that seminary? I challenge you to show by facts that any are more useful who have been there. No, sir, the fact is, that since this man has been in the ministry, he has been instrumental in converting more souls than all the young men who have come from that seminary in the time." This is logic! Stop, and go to a seminary, to prepare himself for converting souls, when he is now converting more than all who come from the seminary!

17:69-72 FINALLY.--I wish to ask you, before I sit down, who among you can lay any claim to the possession of this Divine wisdom? Who among you, laymen? Who among you, ministers? Can any of you? Can I? Are we at work, wisely, to win souls? Or are we trying to make ourselves believe that success is no criterion of wisdom? It is a criterion. It is a safe criterion for every minister to try himself by. The amount of his success, other things being equal, measures the amount of wisdom he has exercised in the discharge of his office.

17:70-72 How few of you have ever had wisdom enough to convert so much as a single sinner!

17:71-72 Do not say now, "I cannot convert sinners; how can I convert sinners? God alone can convert sinners." Look at the text, "He that winneth souls is wise," and do not think you can escape the sentence. It is true that God converts sinners. But there is a sense, too, in which ministers convert them. And you have something to do; something that requires wisdom; something which, if you do it wisely, will insure the conversion of sinners in proportion to the wisdom employed. If you never have done this, it is high time to think about yourselves, and see whether you have wisdom enough to save even your own souls.

17:72-72 Men--women--you are bound to be wise in winning souls. Perhaps already souls have perished; perhaps a friend, or a child is in hell, because you have not put forth the wisdom which you might, in saving them. The city is going to hell. Yes, the world is going to hell, and must go on, till the church finds out what to do, to win souls. Politicians are wise. The children of this world are wise, they know what to do to accomplish their ends, while we are prosing about, not knowing what to do, or where to take hold of the work, and sinners are going to hell.

 

 

 

Back to contents

18:1-94 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION by The Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY LECTURE XII HOW TO PREACH THE GOSPEL

18:2-94 TEXT. --He that winneth souls is wise. --PROVERBS xi. 30.

18:3-94 ONE of the last remarks in my last lecture, was this, that the text ascribes conversion to men. Winning souls is converting men. This evening I design to show,

18:4-94 I. That several passages of Scripture ascribe conversion to men.

18:5-94 II. That this is consistent with other passages which ascribe conversion to God.

18:6-94 III. I purpose to discuss several further particulars which are deemed important, in regard to the preaching of the Gospel, and which show that great practical wisdom is necessary to win souls to Christ.

18:7-94 I. I am to show that the Bible ascribes conversion to men.

18:8-94 There are many passages which represent the conversion of sinners as the work of men. In Daniel, xii. 3, it is said, "And they that be wise, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as stars for ever and ever." Here the work is ascribed to men. So also in 1 Cor. iv. 15. "For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the Gospel." Here the apostle explicitly tells the Corinthians that he made them Christians, with the Gospel or truth which he preached. Again, in James, v. 19, 20, we are taught the same thing. "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." I might quote many other passages, equally explicit. But these are sufficient abundantly to establish the fact, that the Bible does actually ascribe conversion to men.

18:9-94 II. I proceed to show that this is not inconsistent with those passages in which conversion is ascribed to God.

18:10-94 And here let me remark, that to my mind it often appears very strange that men should ever suppose there was an inconsistency here, or that they should ever have overlooked the plain common sense of the matter. How easy it is to see, that there is a sense in which God converts them, and another sense in which men convert them.

18:11-94 The Scriptures ascribe the conversion of a sinner to four different agencies--to men, to God, to the truth, and to the sinner himself. The passages which ascribe it to the truth are the largest class. That men should ever have overlooked this distinction, and should have regarded conversion as a work performed exclusively by God, is surprising. So it is that any difficulty should ever have been felt on the subject, or that people should ever have professed themselves unable to reconcile these several classes of passages.

18:12-94 Why, the Bible speaks on this subject, precisely as we speak on common subjects. There is a man who has been very sick. How natural it is for him to say of his physician, "That man saved my life." Does he mean to say that the physician saved his life without reference to God? Certainly not, unless he is an infidel. God made the physician, and he made the medicine too. And it never can be shown but that the agency of God is just as truly concerned in making the medicine take effect to save life, as it is in making the truth take effect to save a soul. To affirm the contrary is downright atheism. It is true then, that the physician saved him, and it is also true that God saved him. It is equally true that the medicine saved his life, and that he saved his own life by taking the medicine; for the medicine would have done no good if he had not voluntarily taken it, or yielded his body to its power.

18:13-94 In the conversion of a sinner, it is true that God gives the truth efficiency to turn the sinner to God. He is an active, voluntary, powerful agent in changing the mind. But he is not the only agent. The one that brings the truth to his notice is also an agent. We are apt to speak of ministers and other men as only instruments in converting sinners. This is not exactly correct. Man is something more than an instrument. Truth is the mere unconscious instrument. But man is more, he is a voluntary, responsible agent in the business. In my printed sermon, No. 1., which some of you may have seen, I have illustrated this idea by the case of an individual standing on the banks of Niagara.

18:14-94 "Suppose yourself to be standing on the banks of the Falls of Niagara. As you stand upon the verge of the precipice, you behold a man lost in deep reverie, approaching its verge unconscious of his danger. He approaches nearer and nearer, until he actually lifts his foot to take the final step that shall plunge him in destruction. At this moment you lift your warning voice above the roar of the foaming waters, and cry out, Stop. The voice pierces his ear, and breaks the charm that binds him; he turns instantly upon his heel, all pale and aghast he retires, quivering, from the verge of death. He reels and almost swoons with horror; turns and walks slowly to the public house; you follow him; the manifest agitation in his countenance calls numbers around him; and on your approach, he points to you, and says, That man saved my life. Here he ascribes the work to you; and certainly there is a sense in which you had saved him. But, on being further questioned, he says, Stop! how that word rings in my ears. Oh, that was to me the word of life! Here he ascribes it to the word that aroused him, and caused him to turn. But, on conversing still further, he says, Had I not turned at that instant, I should have been a dead man. Here he speaks of it, and truly, as his own act; but directly you hear him say, Oh the mercy of God! if God had not interposed, I should have been lost. Now the only defect in this illustration is this: In the case supposed, the only interference on the part of God, was a providential one; and the only sense in which the saving of the man's life is ascribed to him, is in a providential sense. But in the conversion of a sinner, there is something more than the providence of God employed; for here not only does the providence of God so order it, that the preacher cries, Stop, but the Spirit of God urges the truth home upon him with such tremendous power as to induce him to turn."

18:15-94 Not only does the preacher cry, Stop, but through the living voice of the preacher, the Spirit cries, Stop. The preacher cries, "Turn ye, why will ye die." The Spirit pours the expostulation home with such power, that the sinner turns. Now in speaking of this change, it is perfectly proper to say, that the Spirit turned him, just as you would say of a man, who had persuaded another to change his mind on the subject of politics, that he had converted him, and brought him over. It is also proper to say that the truth converted him; as in a case when the political sentiments of a man were changed by a certain argument, we should say that argument brought him over. So also with perfect propriety may we ascribe the change to the living preacher, or to him who had presented the motives; just as we should say of a lawyer who had prevailed in his argument with a jury; he has got his case, he has converted the jury. It is also with the same propriety ascribed to the individual himself whose heart is changed; we should say that he had changed his mind, he has come over, he has repented. Now it is strictly true, and true in the most absolute and highest sense; the act is his own act, the turning is his own turning, while God by the truth has induced him to turn; still it is strictly true that he has turned and has done it himself. Thus you see the sense in which it is the work of God, and also the sense in which it is the sinner's own work. The Spirit of God, by the truth, influences the sinner to change, and in this sense is the efficient cause of the change. But the sinner actually changes, and is therefore himself, in the most proper sense, the author of the change. There are some who, on reading their Bibles, fasten their eyes upon those passages that ascribe the work to the Spirit of God, and seem to overlook those that ascribe it to man, and speak of it as the sinner's own act. When they have quoted Scripture to prove it is the work of God, they seem to think they have proved that it is that in which man is passive, and that it can in no sense be the work of man. Some months since a tract was written, the title of which was, "Regeneration, the effect of Divine Power." The writer goes on to prove that the work is wrought by the Spirit of God, and there stops. Now it had been just as true, just as philosophical, and just as scriptural, if he had said, that conversion was the work of man. It was easy to prove that it was the work of God, in the sense in which I have explained it. The writer, therefore, tells the truth, so far as he goes; but he has told only half the truth. For while there is a sense in which it is the work of God, as he has shown, there is also a sense in which it is the work of man, as we have just seen. The very title to this tract is a stumbling block. It tells the truth, but it does not tell the whole truth. And a tract might be written upon this proposition, that "Conversion or regeneration is the work of man;" which would be just as true, just as scriptural, and just as philosophical, as the one to which I have alluded. Thus the writer, in his zeal to recognise and honor God as concerned in this work, by leaving out the fact that a change of heart is the sinner's own act, has left the sinner strongly intrenched, with his weapons in his rebellious hands, stoutly resisting the claims of his Maker, and waiting passively for God to make him a new heart. Thus you see the consistency between the requirement of the text, and the declared fact that God is the author of the new heart. God commands you to make you a new heart, expects you to do it, and if it ever is done, you must do it.

18:16-94 And let me tell you, sinner, if you do not do it you will go to hell, and to all eternity you will feel that you deserved to be sent there for not having done it.

18:17-94 III. As proposed, I shall now advert to several important particulars growing out of this subject, as connected with preaching the Gospel, and which show that great practical wisdom is indispensable to win souls to Christ.

18:18-94 And FIRST, in regard to the MATTER OF PREACHING.

18:19-94 1. All preaching should be practical.

18:20-94 The proper end of all doctrine is practice. Anything brought forward as doctrine, which cannot be made use of as practical, is not preaching the Gospel. There is none of that sort of preaching in the Bible. That is all practical. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." A vast deal of preaching in the present day, as well as in past ages, is called doctrinal, as opposed to practical preaching. The very idea of making this distinction is a device of the devil. And a more abominable device Satan himself never devised. You sometimes hear certain men tell a wonderful deal about the necessity of "indoctrinating the people." By which they mean something different from practical preaching; teaching them certain doctrines, as abstract truths, without any particular reference to practice. And I have known a minister in the midst of a revival, while surrounded with anxious sinners, leave off laboring to convert souls, for the purpose of "Indoctrinating" the young converts, for fear somebody else should indoctrinate them before him. And there the revival stops! Either his doctrine was not true, or it was not preached in the right way. To preach doctrines in an abstract way, and not in reference to practice, is absurd. God always brings in doctrine to regulate practice. To bring forward doctrinal views for any other object is not only nonsense, but it is wicked.

18:21-94 Some people are opposed to doctrinal preaching. If they have been used to hear doctrines preached in a cold, abstract way, no wonder they are opposed to it. They ought to be opposed to such preaching. But what can a man preach, who preaches no doctrine? If he preaches no doctrine, he preaches no gospel. And if he does not preach it in a practical way, he does not preach the Gospel. All preaching should be doctrinal, and all preaching should be practical. The very design of doctrine is to regulate practice. Any preaching that has not this tendency is not the Gospel. A loose, exhortatory style of preaching may affect the passions, and may produce excitement, but will never sufficiently instruct the people to secure sound conversions. On the other hand, preaching doctrine in an abstract manner, may fill the head with notions, but will never sanctify the heart or life.

18:22-94 2. Preaching should be direct. The Gospel should be preached to men, and not about them. The minister must address his hearers. He must preach to them about themselves, and not leave the impression that he is preaching to them about others. He will never do them any good, farther than he succeeds in convincing each individual that he means him. Many preachers seem very much afraid of making the impression that they mean any body in particular. They are preaching against certain sins, not that have anything to do with the sinner. It is the sin, and not the sinner, that they are rebuking; and they would by no means speak as if they supposed any of their hearers were guilty of these abominable practices. Now this is anything but preaching the Gospel. Thus did not the prophets, nor Christ, nor the apostles. Nor do those ministers do this, who are successful in winning souls to Christ.

18:23-94 3. Another very important thing to be regarded in preaching is, that the minister should hunt after sinners and Christians, wherever they may have intrenched themselves in inaction. It is not the design of preaching, to make men easy and quiet, but to make them ACT. It is not the design of calling in a physician to have him give opiates, and so cover up the disease and let it run on till it works death; but to search out the disease wherever it may be hidden, and to remove it. So if a professor of religion has backslidden, and is full of doubts and fears, it is not the minister's duty to quiet him in his sins, and comfort him, but to hunt him out of his errors and backslidings, and show him just where he stands, and what it is that makes him full of doubts and fears.

18:24-94 A minister ought to know the religious opinions of every sinner in his congregation. Indeed, a minister in the country is generally inexcusable if he does not. He has no excuse for not knowing the religious views of all his congregation, and of all that may come under his influence if he has had opportunity to know them. How otherwise can he preach to them? How can he know how to bring forth things new and old, and adapt truth to their case? How can he hunt them out unless he knows where they hide themselves? He may ring changes on a few fundamental doctrines, Repentance and Faith, and Faith and Repentance, till the day of judgment, and never make any impression on many minds. Every sinner has some hiding-place, some intrenchment where he lingers. He is in possession of some darling LIE, with which he is quieting himself. Let the minister find it out and get it away, either in the pulpit or in private, or the man will go to hell in his sins, and his blood will be found in the minister's skirts.

18:25-94 4. Another important thing to observe is, that a minister should dwell most on those particular points which are most needed. I will explain what I mean.

18:26-94 Sometimes he may find a people who have been led to place great reliance on their own resolutions. They think they can consult their own convenience, and by and by they will repent, when they get ready, without any concern about the Spirit of God. Let him take up these notions, and show that they are entirely contrary to the Scriptures. Let him show that if the Spirit of God is grieved away, however able he may be, it is certain he never will repent, and that by and by, when it shall be convenient for him to do it, he will have no inclination. The minister who finds these errors prevailing, should expose them. He should hunt them out, and understand just how they are held, and then preach the class of truths which will show the fallacy, the folly, and the danger of these notions.

18:27-94 So on the other hand. He may find a people who have got such views of Election and Sovereignty, as to think they have nothing to do but to wait for the moving of the waters. Let him go right over against them, and crowd upon them their ability to obey God, and to show their obligation and duty, and press them with that until he brings them to submit and be saved. They have got behind a perverted view of these doctrines, and there is no way to drive them out of the hiding-place but to set them right on these points. Wherever a sinner is intrenched, unless you pour light upon him there, you will never move him. It is of no use to press him with those truths which he admits, however plainly they may in fact contradict his wrong notions. He supposes them to be perfectly consistent, and does not see the inconsistency, and therefore it will not move him, or bring him to repentance.

18:28-94 I have been informed of a minister in New England, who was settled in a congregation which had long enjoyed little else than Arminian preaching, and the congregation themselves were chiefly Arminians. Well, this minister, in his preaching, strongly insisted on the opposite points, the doctrine of election, Divine sovereignty, predestination, etc. The consequence was, as might have been expected where this was done with ability, there was a powerful revival. Some time afterwards this same minister was called to labor in another field, in this State, where the people were all on the other side, and strongly tinctured with Antinomianism. They had got such perverted views of election, and Divine sovereignty, that they were continually saying they had no power to do anything, but must wait God's time. Now, what does this minister do but immediately go to preaching the doctrine of election. And when he was asked, how he could think of preaching the doctrine of election so much to that people, when it was the very thing that lulled them to a deeper slumber, he replied. "Why, that's the very class of truths by which I had such a great revival in ----;" not considering the difference in the views of the people. And if I am correctly informed, there he is to this day, preaching away at the doctrine of election, and wondering that it does not produce as powerful a revival as it did in the other place. Probably those sinners never will be converted. You must take things as they are, find out where sinners lie, and pour in truth upon them there, and START THEM OUT from their refuges of lies. It is of vast importance that a minister should find out where the congregation are, and preach accordingly.

18:29-94 I have been in many places in times of revival, and I have never been able to employ precisely the same course of preaching in one as in another. Some are intrenched behind one refuge, and some behind another. In one place, the church will need to be instructed, in another, sinners. In one place, one set of truths, in another, another set. A minister must find out where they are, and preach accordingly. I believe this is the experience of all preachers who are called to labor from field to field.

18:30-94 5. If a minister means to promote a revival, he should be very careful not to introduce controversy. He will grieve away the Spirit of God. In this way probably more revivals are put down, than in any other. Look back upon the history of the church from the beginning, and you will see that ministers are generally responsible for grieving away the Spirit and causing declensions by controversy. It is the ministers who bring forward controversial subjects for discussion, and by and by they get very zealous on the subject, and then get the church into a controversial spirit, and so the Spirit of God is grieved away.

18:31-94 If I had time to go over the history of the church from the days of the Apostles, I could show that all the controversies that have taken place, and all the great declensions in religion, too, were chargeable upon ministers. I believe the ministers of the present day are responsible for the present state of the church, and it will be seen to be true at the judgment. Who does not know that ministers have been crying out "Heresy," and "New Measures," and talking about the "Evils of Revivals," until they have got the church all in confusion? Look at the poor Presbyterian church, and see ministers getting up their Act and Testimony, and keeping up a continual war! O God, have mercy on ministers. They talk about their days of fasting and prayer, but are these the men to call on others to fast and pray? They ought to fast and pray themselves. It is time that ministers should assemble together, and fast and pray over the evil of controversy, for they have caused it. The church itself never would get into a controversial spirit unless led into it by ministers. The body of the church are always averse to controversy, and will keep out of it, only as they are dragged into it by ministers. When Christians are revived they are not inclined to meddle with controversy, either to read or hear it. But they may be told of such and such "damnable heresies," that are afloat, till they get their feelings enlisted in controversy, and then farewell to the revival. If a minister, in preaching, finds it necessary to discuss particular points, about which Christians differ in opinion, let him BY ALL MEANS avoid a controversial spirit and manner of doing it.[footnote-This was said with pain in 1833-34]

18:32-94 6. The Gospel should be preached in those proportions, that the whole Gospel may be brought before the minds of the people, and produce its proper influence. If too much stress is laid on one class of truths, the Christian character will not have its due proportions. Its symmetry will not be perfect. If that class of truths be almost exclusively dwelt upon, that requires great exertion of intellect, without being brought home to the heart and conscience, it will be found that the church will be indoctrinated in those views, will have their heads filled with notions, but will not be awake, and active, and efficient in the promotion of religion. If, on the other hand, the preaching be loose, indefinite, exhortatory, and highly impassioned, the church will be like a ship, with too much sail for her ballast. It will be in danger of being swept away by a tempest of feeling, where there is not sufficient knowledge to prevent their being carried away with every wind of doctrine. If election and sovereignty are too much preached, there will be Antinomianism in the church, and sinners will hide themselves behind the delusion that they can do nothing. If the other doctrines of ability and obligation are too prominent, they will produce Arminianism in the church, and sinners will be blustering and self-confident.

18:33-94 When I entered the ministry, there had been so much said about the doctrine of election and sovereignty, that I found it was the universal hiding place, both of sinners and of the church, that they could not do anything, or could not obey the Gospel. And wherever I went, I found it indispensable to demolish these refuges of lies. And a revival would in no way be produced or carried on, but by dwelling on that class of truths, which holds up man's ability, and obligation, and responsibility. This was the only class of truths that would bring sinners to submission.

18:34-94 It was not so in the days when President Edwards and Whitefield labored. Then the churches in New England had enjoyed little else than Arminian preaching, and were all resting in themselves and their own strength. These bold and devoted servants of God came out and declared those particular doctrines of grace, Divine sovereignty, and election, and they were greatly blessed. They did not dwell on these doctrines exclusively, but they preached them very fully. The consequence was, that because in those circumstances revivals followed from such preaching, the ministers who followed, continued to preach these doctrines almost exclusively. And they dwelt on them so long, that the church and the world got intrenched behind them, waiting for God to come and do what he required them to do, and so revivals ceased for many years.

18:35-94 Now, and for years past, ministers have been engaged in hunting them out from these refuges. And here it is all important for the ministers of this day to bear in mind, that if they dwell exclusively on ability and obligation, they will get their hearers back on the old Arminian ground, and then they will cease to promote revivals. Here are a body of ministers who have preached a great deal of truth, and have had great revivals, under God. Now let it be known and remarked, that the reason is, they have hunted sinners out from their hiding places. But if they continue to dwell on the same class of truths till sinners hide themselves behind their preaching, another class of truths must be preached. And then if they do not change their mode, another pall will hang over the church, until another class of ministers shall arise and hunt sinners out of those new retreats.

18:36-94 A right view of both classes of truths, election and free-agency, will do no hurt. They are eminently calculated to convert sinners and strengthen saints. It is a perverted view which chills the heart of the church, and closes the eyes of sinners in sleep, till they sink down to hell. If I had time I would remark on the manner in which I have sometimes heard the doctrines of Divine sovereignty, election, and ability preached. They have been exhibited in irreconcileable contradiction, the one against the other. Such exhibitions are anything but the Gospel, and are calculated to make a sinner feel anything else rather than his responsibility to God.

18:37-94 By preaching truth in proper proportions, I do not mean mingling all things together in the same sermon, in such a way that sinners will not see their connection or consistency. A minister once asked another, Why do you not preach the doctrine of election? Because, said the other, I find sinners here are intrenched behind inability. The first then said he once knew a minister who used to preach election in the forenoon, and repentance in the afternoon. Marvellous grace it must be, that would produce a revival under such preaching! What connection is there in this? Instead of exhibiting to the sinner his sins in the morning, and then and in the afternoon calling on him to repent, he is first turned to the doctrine of election, and then commanded to repent. What is he to repent of? The doctrine of election? This is not what I mean by preaching truth in its proportion. Bringing things together, that only confound the sinner's mind, and overwhelm him with a fog of metaphysics, is not wise preaching. When talking of election, the preacher is not talking of the sinner's duty. It has no relation to the sinner's duty. Election belongs to the government of God. It is a part of the exceeding richness of the grace of God. It shows the love of God, not the duty of the sinner. And to bring election and repentance together in this way is diverting the sinner's mind away from his duty. It has been customary, in many places, for a long time, to bring the doctrine of election into every sermon. Sinners have been commanded to repent, and told that they could not repent, in the same sermon. A great deal of ingenuity has been exercised in endeavoring to reconcile a sinner's "inability" with his obligation to obey God. Election, predestination, free-agency, inability, and duty, have all been thrown together in one promiscuous jumble. And with regard to many sermons, it has been too true, as has been objected, that ministers have preached, "You can and you can't, You shall and you sha'n't, You will and you won't, And you'll be damned if you don't."

18:38-94 Such a mixture of truth and error, of light and darkness, has confounded the congregation, and been the fruitful source of Universalism and every species of infidelity and error.

18:39-94 7. It is of great importance that the sinner should be made to feel his guilt, and not left to the impression that he is unfortunate. I think this is a very prevailing fault, particularly with printed books on the subject. They are calculated to make the sinner think more of his sorrows than of his sins, and feel that his state is rather unfortunate than criminal. Perhaps most of you have seen a very lovely little book recently published, entitled "Todd's Lectures to Children." It is very fine, exquisitely fine, and happy in some of its illustrations of truth. But it has one very serious fault. Many of its illustrations, I may say most of them, are not calculated to make a correct impression respecting the guilt of sinners, or to make them feel how much they have been to blame. This is very unfortunate. If the writer had guarded his illustrations on this point, so as to make them impress sinners with a sense of their guilt, I do not see how a child could read through that book and not be converted.

18:40-94 Multitudes of the books written for children, and for adults too, within the last twenty years, have run into this mistake to an alarming degree. Mrs. Sherwood's writings have this fault standing out upon almost every page. They are not calculated to make the sinner blame and condemn himself. Until you can do this, the Gospel will never take effect.

18:41-94 8. A prime object with the preacher must be to make present obligation felt. I have talked, I suppose, with many thousands of anxious sinners. And I have found that they had never before felt the pressure of present obligation. The impression is not commonly made by ministers in their preaching that sinners are expected to repent NOW. And if ministers suppose they make this impression, they deceive themselves. Most commonly any other impression is made upon the minds of sinners by the preacher, than that they are expected now to submit. But what sort of a gospel is this? Does God authorize such an impression? Is this according to the preaching of Jesus Christ? Does the Holy Spirit, when striving with the sinner, make the impression upon his mind that he is not expected to obey now?--Was any such impression produced by the preaching of the apostles? How does it happen that so many ministers now preach, so as in fact to make an impression on their hearers, that they are not expected to repent now? Until the sinner's conscience is reached on this subject, you preach to him in vain. And until ministers learn how to preach so as to make the right impression, the world never can be converted. Oh, to what an alarming extent does the impression now prevail among the impenitent, that they are not expected to repent now, but must wait God's time!

18:42-94 9. Sinners ought to be made to feel that they have something to do, and that is to repent; that it is something which no other being can do for them, neither God nor man, and something which they can do, and do now. Religion is something to do, not something to wait for. And they must do it now, or they are in danger of eternal death.

18:43-94 10. Ministers should never rest satisfied, until they have ANNIHILATED every excuse of sinners. The plea of "Inability" is the worst of all excuses. It slanders God so, charging him with infinite tyranny, in commanding men to do that which they have no power to do. Make the sinner see and feel that this is the very nature of his excuse. Make the sinner see that all pleas in excuse for not submitting to God, are an act of rebellion against him. Tear away the last LIE which he grasps in his hand, and make him feel that he is absolutely condemned before God.

18:44-94 11. Sinners should be made to feel that if they now grieve away the Spirit of God, it is very probable that they will be lost for ever. There is infinite danger of this. They should be made to understand why they are dependent on the Spirit, and that it is not because they cannot do what God commands, but because they are unwilling; but that they are so unwilling that it is just as certain they will not repent without the Holy Ghost, as if they were now in hell, or as if they were actually unable. They are so opposed and so unwilling, that they never will repent in the world, unless God sends his Holy Spirit upon them.

18:45-94 Show them, too, that a sinner under the Gospel, who hears the truth preached, if converted at all, is generally converted young. And if not converted while young, he is commonly given up of God. Where the truth is preached, sinners are either gospel-hardened or converted. I know some old sinners are converted, but they are rather exceptions, and by no means common.

18:46-94 I wish now, SECONDLY, to make a few remarks on the MANNER OF PREACHING.

18:47-94 1. It should be conversational. Preaching, to be understood, should be colloquial in its style. A minister must preach just as he would talk, if he wishes to be fully understood. Nothing is more calculated to make a sinner feel that religion is some mysterious thing that he cannot understand, than this mouthing, formal, lofty style of speaking, so generally employed in the pulpit. The minister ought to do as the lawyer does when he wants to make a jury understand him perfectly. He uses a style perfectly colloquial. This lofty, swelling style will do no good. The Gospel will never produce any great effects, until ministers talk to their hearers, in the pulpit, as they talk in private conversation.

18:48-94 2. It must be in the language of common life. Not only should it be colloquial in its style, but the words should be such as are in common use. Otherwise they will not be understood. In the New Testament you will observe that Jesus Christ invariably uses words of the most common kind. You scarcely find a word of his instructions, that any child cannot understand. The language of the gospels is the plainest, simplest, and most easily understood of any language in the world.

18:49-94 For a minister to neglect this principle, is wicked. Some ministers use language that is purely technical in preaching. They think to avoid the mischief by explaining the meaning fully at the outset; but this will not answer. It will not effect the object in making the people understand what he means. If he uses a word that is not in common use, and that people do not understand, his explanation may be very full, but the difficulty is that people will forget his explanations and then his words are all Greek to them. Or if he uses a word in common use, but employs it in an uncommon sense, giving his special explanations, it is no better; for the people will soon forget his special explanations, and then the impression actually conveyed to their minds will be according to their common understanding of the word. And thus he will never convey the right idea to his congregation. It is amazing how many men of thinking minds there are in congregations, who do not understand the most common technical expressions employed by ministers, such as regeneration, sanctification, etc.

18:50-94 Use words that can be perfectly understood. Do not, for fear of appearing unlearned, use language half Latin and half Greek, which the people do not understand. The apostle says the man is a barbarian, who uses language that the people do not understand. And "if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for the battle?" In the apostles' days there were some preachers, who were marvellously proud of displaying their command of language, and showing off the variety of tongues they could speak, which the common people could not understand. The apostle rebukes this spirit sharply, and says, "I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue."

18:51-94 I have sometimes heard ministers preach, even when there was a revival, when I have wondered what that part of the congregation would do, who had no dictionary. So many phrases were brought in, manifestly to adorn the discourse, rather than to instruct the people, that I have felt as if I wanted to tell the man, "Sit down, and not confound the people's minds with your barbarian preaching, that they cannot understand."

18:52-94 3. Preaching should be parabolical. That is, illustrations should be constantly used, drawn from incidents, real or supposed. Jesus Christ constantly illustrated his instructions in this way. He would either advance a principle and then illustrate it by a parable, that is, a short story of some event real or imaginary, or else he would bring out the principle in the parable. There are millions of facts that can be used to advantage, and yet very few ministers dare to use them, for fear somebody will reproach them. "Oh," says somebody, "he tells stories." Tells stories! Why, that is the way Jesus Christ preached. And it is the only way to preach. Facts, real or supposed, should be used to show the truth. Truths not illustrated, are generally just as well calculated to convert sinners as a mathematical demonstration. Is it always to be so? Shall it always be matter of reproach, that ministers follow the example of Jesus Christ, in illustrating truths by facts? Let them do it, and let fools reproach them as story-telling ministers. They have Jesus Christ and common sense on their side.

18:53-94 4. The illustrations should be drawn from common life, and the common business of society. I once heard a minister illustrate his ideas by the manner in which merchants transact business in their stores. Another minister who was present made some remarks to him afterwards. He objected to this illustration particularly, because, he said, it was too familiar, and was letting down the dignity of the pulpit. He said all illustrations in preaching should be drawn from ancient history, or from some elevated source, that would keep up the dignity of the pulpit. Dignity indeed! Just the language of the devil. He rejoices in it. Why, the object of an illustration is, to make people see the truth, not to bolster up pulpit dignity. A minister whose heart is in the work, does not use an illustration to make people stare, but to make them see the truth. If he brought forward his illustrations from ancient history, it could not make the people see, it would not illustrate anything. The novelty of the thing might awaken their attention, but then they would lose the truth itself. For if the illustration itself be a novelty, the attention will be directed to this fact as a matter of history, and the truth itself, which it was designed to illustrate, will be lost sight of. The illustration should, if possible, be a matter of common occurrence, and the more common the occurrence the more sure it will be, not to fix attention upon itself, but it serves as a medium through which the truth is conveyed. I have been pained at the very heart, at hearing illustrations drawn from ancient history, of which not one in a hundred of the congregation had ever heard. The very manner in which they were adverted to, was strongly tinctured, to say the least, with the appearance of vanity, and an attempt to surprise the people with an exhibition of learning.

18:54-94 The Saviour always illustrated his instructions by things that were taking place among the people to whom he preached, and with which their minds were familiar. He descended often very far below what is now supposed to be essential to support the dignity of the pulpit. He talked about the hens and chickens, and children in market-places, and sheep and lambs, shepherds and farmers, and husbandmen and merchants. And when he talked about kings, as in the marriage of the king's son, and the nobleman that went into a far country to receive a kingdom, he had reference to historical facts, that were well known among the people at the time. The illustration should always be drawn from things so common that the illustration itself will not attract attention away from the subject, but that people may see through it the truth illustrated.

18:55-94 5. Preaching should be repetitious. If a minister wishes to preach with effect, he must not be afraid of repeating whatever he sees is not perfectly understood by his hearers. Here is the evil of using notes. The preacher preaches right along just as he has it written down, and cannot observe whether he is understood or not. If he interrupts his reading, and attempts to catch the countenances of his audience, and to explain where he sees they do not understand, he gets lost and confused, and gives it up. If a minister has his eyes on the people he is preaching to, he can commonly tell by their looks whether they understand him. And if he sees they do not understand any particular point, let him stop and illustrate it. If they do not understand one illustration, let him give another, and make it all clear to their minds, before he goes on. But those who write their sermons go right on, in a regular consecutive train, just as in any essay or a book, and do not repeat their thoughts till the audience fully comprehend them.

18:56-94 I was conversing with one of the first advocates in this country. He said the difficulty which preachers find in making themselves understood, is, that they do not repeat enough, Says he, "In addressing a jury, I always expect that whatever I wish to impress upon their minds, I shall have to repeat at least twice, and often I repeat it three or four times, and even as many times as there are jurymen before me. Otherwise, I do not carry their minds along with me, so that they can feel the force of what comes afterwards." If a jury under oath, called to decide on the common affairs of this world, cannot apprehend an argument unless there is so much repetition, how is it to be expected that men will understand the preaching of the Gospel without it.

18:57-94 In like manner the minister ought to turn an important thought over and over before his audience, till even the children understand it perfectly. Do not say that so much repetition will create disgust in cultivated minds. It will not disgust. This is not what disgusts thinking men. They are not weary of the efforts a minister makes to be understood. The fact is, the more simple a preacher's illustrations are, and the more plain he makes everything, the more men of mind are interested. I know that men of the first minds often get ideas they never had before, from illustrations which were designed to bring the Gospel down to the comprehension of a child. Such men are commonly so occupied with the affairs of this world, that they do not think much on the subject of religion, and they therefore need the plainest preaching, and they will like it.

18:58-94 6. A minister should always feel deeply his subject, and then he will suit the action to the word and the word to the action, so as to make the full impression which the truth is calculated to make. He should be in solemn earnest in what he says. I heard lately a most judicious criticism on this subject. "How important it is that a minister should feel what he says. Then his actions will of course correspond to his words. If he undertakes to make gestures, his arms may go like a windmill, and yet make no impression." It requires the utmost stretch of art on the stage for the actors to make their hearers feel. The design of elocution is to teach this skill. But if a man feels his subject fully, he will naturally do it. He will naturally do the very thing that elocution laboriously teaches. See any common man in the streets, who is earnest in talking. See with what force he gestures. See a woman or a child in earnest. How natural. To gesture with their hands is as natural as it is to move their tongue and lips. It is the perfection of eloquence.

18:59-94 Let a minister, then, only feel what he says, and not be tied to his notes, to read an essay, or to speak a piece, like a school-boy, first on one foot and then on the other, put out first one hand and then the other. Let him speak as he feels, and act as he feels, and he will be eloquent.

18:60-94 No wonder that a great deal of preaching produces so little effect. Gestures are of more importance than is generally supposed. Mere words will never express the full meaning of the Gospel. The manner of saying it is almost everything. Suppose one of you, that is a mother, goes home to-night, and as soon as you get into the door, the nurse comes rushing up to you, with her whole soul in her countenance, and tells you that your child is burnt to death. You would believe it, and you would feel it too, at once. But suppose she comes and tells it in a cold and careless manner. Would that arouse you? No. It is the earnestness of her manner, and the distress of her looks, that tells the story. You know something is the matter, before she speaks a word.

18:61-94 I once heard a remark made, respecting a young minister's preaching, which was instructive. He was uneducated, in the common sense of the term, but well educated to win souls. It was said of him, "The manner in which he comes in, and sits in the pulpit, and rises to speak, is a sermon of itself. It shows that he has something to say that is important and solemn." That man's manner of saying some things I have known to move the feelings of a whole congregation, when the same things said in a prosing way would have produced no effect at all.

18:62-94 A fact which was stated by one of the most distinguished professors of elocution in the United States, ought to impress ministers on this subject, That man was an infidel. He said, "I have been fourteen years employed in teaching elocution to ministers, and I know they do not believe the Christian religion. The Bible may be true. I do not pretend to know as to that, but I know these ministers do not believe it. I can demonstrate that they do not. The perfection of my art is to teach them to speak naturally on this subject. I go to their studies, and converse with them, and they speak eloquently. I say to them, Gentlemen, if you will preach just as you yourselves naturally speak on any other subject in which you are interested, you do not need to be taught. That is just what I am trying to teach you. I hear you talk on other subjects with admirable force and eloquence. I see you go into the pulpit, and you speak and act as if you did not believe what you are saying. I have told them, again and again, to talk in the pulpit as they naturally talk to me. And I cannot make them do it, and so I know they do not believe the Christian religion."

18:63-94 I have mentioned this to show how universal it is, that men will gesture right if they feel right. The only thing in the way of ministers being natural speakers is, that they do not DEEPLY FEEL. How can they be natural in elocution, when they do not feel?

18:64-94 7. A minister should aim to convert his congregation. But you will ask, Does not all preaching aim at this? No. A minister always has some aim in preaching, but most sermons were never aimed at converting sinners. And if sinners were converted under them, the preacher himself would be amazed. I once heard a fact on this point. There were two young ministers who had entered the ministry at the same time. One of them had great success in converting sinners, the other none. The latter inquired of the other, one day, what was the reason of this difference. "Why," replied the other, "the reason is, that I aim at a different end from you, in preaching. My object is to convert sinners, but you aim at no such thing. And then you go and lay it to sovereignty in God, that you do not produce the same effect, when you never aim at it. Here, take one of my sermons, and preach it to your people, and see what the effect will be." The man did so, and preached the sermon, and it did produce effect. He was frightened when sinners began to weep; and when one came to him after meeting to ask what he should do, the minister apologized to him, and said, "I did not aim to wound you, I am sorry if I have hurt your feelings." Oh, horrible!

18:65-94 8. A minister must anticipate the objections of sinners, and answer them. What does the lawyer do when pleading before a jury? Oh, how differently is the cause of Jesus Christ pleaded from human causes! It was remarked by a lawyer, that the cause of Jesus Christ had the fewest able advocates of any cause in the world. And I partly believe it. Does a lawyer go along in his argument in a regular train, and not explain any thing obscure, or anticipate the arguments of his antagonist? If he did so, he would lose his case to a certainty. But, no. The lawyer, who is pleading for money, anticipates every objection, which may be made by his antagonist, and carefully removes or explains them, so as to leave the ground all clear as he goes along, that the jury may be settled on every point. But ministers often leave one difficulty and another untouched. Sinners who hear them feel the difficulty, and it is never got over in their minds, and they never know how to remove it, and perhaps the minister never takes the trouble to know that such difficulties exist, and yet he wonders why his congregation is not converted, and why there is no revival. How can he wonder at it, when he has never hunted up the difficulties and objections that sinners feel, and removed them?

18:66-94 9. If a minister means to preach the Gospel with effect he must be sure not to be monotonous. If he preaches in a monotonous way, he will preach the people to sleep. Any monotonous sound, great or small, if continued, disposes people to sleep. The falls of Niagara, the roaring of the ocean, or any sound ever so great or small, has this effect naturally on the nervous system. You never hear this monotonous manner from people in conversation. And a minister cannot be monotonous in preaching, if he feels what he says.

18:67-94 10. A minister should address the feelings enough to secure attention, and then deal with the conscience, and probe to the quick. Appeals to the feelings alone will never convert sinners. If the preacher deals too much in these, he may get up an excitement, and have wave after wave of feeling flow over the congregation, and people may be carried away as with a flood, and rest in false hopes. The only way to secure sound conversions is to deal faithfully with the conscience. If attention flags at any time, appeal to the feelings again, and rouse it up; but do your work with conscience.

18:68-94 11. If he can, it is desirable that a minister should learn the effect of one sermon, before he preaches another. Let him learn if it is understood, if it has produced any impression, if any difficulties are felt in regard to the subject which need clearing up, if any objections are raised, and the like. When he knows it all, then he knows what to preach next, What would be thought of the physician who should give medicine to his patient, and then give it again and again, without trying to learn the effect of the first, or whether it had produced any effect or not? A minister never will be able to deal with sinners as he ought, till he can find out whether his instruction has been received and understood, and whether the difficulties in sinners' minds are cleared away, and their path open to the Saviour, so that they need not stumble and stumble till their souls are lost.

18:69-94 I had designed to notice several other points, but time does not admit. I wish to close with a few

18:70-94 REMARKS. 1. We see why so few of the leading minds in many communities are converted.

18:71-94 Until the late revivals, professional men were rarely reached by preaching, and they were almost all infidels at heart. People almost understood the Bible to warrant the idea, that they could not be converted. The reason is obvious. The Gospel had not been commended to the consciences of such men. Ministers had not grappled with mind, and reasoned so as to make that class of mind see the truth of the Gospel, and feel its power, and consequently such persons had come to regard religion as something unworthy their notice.

18:72-94 But of late years the case is altered, and in some places there have been more of this class of persons converted, in proportion to their numbers, than of any others. That is because they were made to understand the claims of the Gospel. The preacher grappled with their minds, and showed them the reasonableness of religion. And when this is done, it is found that that class of minds are more easily converted than any other. They have so much better capacity to receive an argument, and are so much more in the habit of yielding to the force of reason, that as soon as the Gospel gets a fair hold of their minds, it breaks them right down, and melts them at the feet of Christ.

18:73-94 2. Before the Gospel can take general effect, we must have a class of extempore preachers, for the following reasons:

18:74-94 (1.) No set of men can stand the labor of writing sermons and doing all the preaching which will be requisite.

18:75-94 (2.) Written preaching is not calculated to produce the requisite effect. Such preaching does not present truth in the right shape.

18:76-94 (3.) It is impossible for a man who writes his sermons to arrange his matter, and turn and choose his thoughts, so as to produce the same effect as when he addresses the people directly, and makes them feel that he means them. Writing sermons had its origin in times of political difficulty. The practice was unknown in the apostles' days. No doubt written sermons have done a great deal of good, but they can never give to the Gospel its great power. Perhaps many ministers have been so long trained in the use of notes, that they had better not throw them away. Perhaps they would make bad work without them. The difficulty would not be for the want of mind, but from wrong training. The bad habit is begun with the school boy, who is called to "speak his piece." Instead of being set to express his own thoughts and feelings in his own language, and with his own natural manner, such as nature herself prompts, he is made to commit another person's writing to memory, and then mouths it out in a stiff and formal way. And so when he goes to college, and to the seminary, instead of being trained to extempore speaking, he is set to writing his piece, and commit it to memory. I would pursue the opposite course from the beginning. I would give him a subject, and let him first think, and then speak his thoughts. Perhaps he will make mistakes. Very well, that is to be expected--in a beginner. But he will learn. Suppose he is not eloquent, at first. Very well, he can improve. And he is in the very way to improve. This kind of training alone will ever raise up a class of ministers who can convert the world.

18:77-94 But it is objected to extemporaneous preaching, that if ministers do not write, they will not think. This objection will have weight with those men whose habit has always been to write down their thoughts. But to a man of a different habit, it will have no weight at all. Writing is not thinking. And if I should judge from many of the written sermons I have heard preached, the makers of them had been doing anything rather than thinking. The mechanical labor of writing is really a hinderance[sic.] to close and rapid thought. It is true that some extempore preachers have not been men of thought. And so it is true that many men who write sermons, are not men of thought. A man whose habits have always been such, that he has thought only when he has put his mind on the end of his pen, will of course, if he lays aside his pen, at first find it difficult to think; and if he attempts to preach without writing, will, until his habits are thoroughly changed, find it difficult to throw into his sermons the same amount of thought, as if he conformed to his old habits of writing. But it should be remembered that this is only on account of his having been trained to write, and having always habituated himself to it. It is the training and habit that renders it so difficult for him to think without writing. Will any body pretend to say that lawyers are not men of thought? That their arguments before a court and jury, are not profound and well digested? And yet every one knows that they do not write their speeches. It should be understood, too, that in college, they have the same training with ministers, and have the same disadvantage of having been trained to write their thoughts; and it is only after they enter upon their profession, that they change their habit. Were they educated, as they should be, to extempore habits in the schools, they would be vastly more eloquent and powerful in argument than they are.

18:78-94 I have heard much of this objection to extempore preaching ever since I entered the ministry. It was often said to me then, in answer to my views of extempore preaching, that ministers who preached extemporaneously, would not instruct the churches, that there would be a great deal of sameness in their preaching, and they would soon become insipid and repetitious for want of thought. But every year's experience has ripened the conviction on my mind, that the reverse of this objection is true. The man who writes least may, if he pleases, think most, and will say what he does think in a manner that will be better understood than if it were written; and that, just in the proportion that he lays aside the labor of writing, his body will be left free to exercise, and his mind to vigorous and consecutive thought.

18:79-94 The great reason why it is supposed that extempore preachers more frequently repeat the same thoughts in their preaching, is because what they say is, in a general way, more perfectly remembered by the congregation, than if it had been read. I have often known preachers, who could repeat their written sermons once in a few months, without its being recognised by the congregation. But the manner in which extempore sermons are generally delivered is so much more impressive, that the thoughts cannot in general be soon repeated, without being remembered. We shall never have a set of men in our halls of legislation, in our courts of justice, and in our pulpits, that are powerful and overwhelming speakers, and can carry the world before them, till our system of education teaches them to think, closely, rapidly, consecutively, and till all their habits of speaking in the schools are extemporaneous. The very style of communicating thought, in what is commonly called a good style of writing, is not calculated to leave a deep impression on the mind, or to communicate thought in a clear and impressive manner. It is not laconic, direct, pertinent. It is not the language of nature. It is impossible that gestures should be suited to the common style of writing. And consequently, when they attempt to gesture in reading an essay, or delivering a written sermon, their gestures are a burlesque upon all public speaking.

18:80-94 In delivering a sermon in this essay style of writing, it is impossible that nearly all the fire of meaning and power of gesture, and looks, and attitude, and emphasis should not be lost. We can never have the full meaning of the Gospel, till we throw away our notes.

18:81-94 3. A minister's course of study and training for his work should be exclusively theological.

18:82-94 I mean just as I say. I am not now going to discuss the question whether all education ought not to be theological. But I say education for the ministry should be exclusively so. But you will ask, Should not a minister understand science? I would answer, Yes, the more the better. I would that ministers might understand all science. But it should all be in connection with theology. Studying science is studying the works of God. And studying theology is studying God.

18:83-94 Let a scholar be asked, for instance, this question: "Is there a God?" To answer it, let him ransack the universe, let him go out into every department of science, to find the proofs of design, and in this way to learn the existence of God. Let him next inquire how many gods there are, and let him again ransack creation to see whether there is such a unity of design as evinces that there is one God. In like manner, let him inquire concerning the attributes of God, and his character. He will learn science here, but will learn it as a part of theology. Let him search every field of knowledge, to bring forward his proofs. What was the design of this plan? What was the end of that arrangement? See whether everything you find in the universe is not calculated to produce happiness, unless perverted.

18:84-94 Would the student's heart get hard and cold in study, as cold and hard as the college walls, if science was pursued in this way? Every lesson brings him right up before God, and is in fact communion with God, and warms his heart, and makes him more pious, more solemn, more holy. The very distinction between classical and theological study is a curse to the church, and a curse to the world. The student spends four years in college at classical studies, and no God in them, and then three years in the seminary, at theological studies; and what then? Poor young man. Set him to work, and you will find that he is not educated for the ministry at all. The church groans under his preaching, because he does not preach with unction, nor with power. He has been spoiled in training.

18:85-94 4. We learn what is revival preaching. All ministers should be revival ministers, and all preaching should be revival preaching; that is, it should be calculated to promote holiness. People say, "It is very well to have some men in the church, who are revival preachers, and who can go about and promote revivals; but then you must have others to indoctrinate the church." Strange! Do they not know that a revival indoctrinates the church faster than anything else! And a minister will never produce a revival, if he does not indoctrinate his hearers. The preaching I have described, is full of doctrine, but it is doctrine to be practised. And that is revival preaching.

18:86-94 5. There are two objections sometimes brought against the kind of preaching which I have recommended.

18:87-94 (1.) That it is letting down the dignity of the pulpit to preach in this colloquial, lawyer-like style. They are shocked at it. But it is only on account of its novelty, and not for any impropriety there is in the thing itself. I heard a remark made by a leading layman in the centre of this State, in regard to the preaching of a certain minister. He said it was the first preaching he ever heard, that he understood, and the first minister he ever heard that spoke as if he believed his own doctrine, or meant what he said. And when he first heard him preach as if he was saying something that he meant, he thought he was crazy. But eventually, he was made to see that it was all true, and he submitted to the truth, as the power of God for the salvation of his soul.

18:88-94 What is the dignity of the pulpit? To see a minister go into the pulpit to sustain its dignity! Alas, alas! During my foreign tour, I heard an English missionary preach exactly in that way. I believe he was a good man, and out of the pulpit he would talk like a man that meant what he said. But no sooner was he in the pulpit, than he appeared like a perfect automaton--swelling, mouthing, and singing, enough to put all the people to sleep. And the difficulty seemed to be, that he wanted to maintain the dignity of the pulpit.

18:89-94 (2.) It is objected that this preaching is theatrical. The bishop of London once asked Garrick, the celebrated play-actor, why it was that actors, in representing a mere fiction, should move an assembly, even to tears, while ministers, in representing the most solemn realities, could scarcely obtain a hearing. The philosophical Garrick well replied, "It is because we represent fiction as reality, and you represent reality as a fiction." This is telling the whole story. Now what is the design of the actor in a theatrical representation? It is so to throw himself into the spirit and meaning of the writer, as to adopt his sentiments, make them his own, feel them, embody them, throw them out upon the audience as living reality. And now, what is the objection to all this in preaching? The actor suits the action to the word, and the word to the action. His looks, his hands, his attitudes, and everything are designed to express the full meaning of the writer. Now this should be the aim of the preacher. And if by "theatrical" be meant the strongest possible representation of the sentiments expressed, then the more theatrical a sermon is, the better. And if ministers are too stiff, and the people too fastidious, to learn even from an actor, or from the stage, the best method of swaying mind, of enforcing sentiment, and diffusing the warmth of burning thought over a congregation, then they must go on with their prosing, and reading, and sanctimonious starch. But let them remember, that while they are thus turning away and decrying the art of the actor, and attempting to support "the dignity of the pulpit," the theatres can be thronged every night. The common-sense people will be entertained with that manner of speaking, and sinners will go down to hell.

18:90-94 6. A congregation may learn how to choose a minister.

18:91-94 When a vacant church are looking out for a minister, there are two leading points on which they commonly fix their attention. (1.) That he should be popular. (2.) That he should be learned. That is very well. But this point should be the first in their inquiries--"Is he wise to win souls?" No matter how eloquent a minister is, or how learned. No matter how pleasing and popular in his manners. If it is a matter of fact that sinners are not converted under his preaching, it shows that he has not this wisdom, and your children and neighbors will go down to hell under his preaching.

18:92-94 I am happy to know that many churches will ask this question about ministers. And if they find that a minister is destitute of this vital quality, they will not have him. And if ministers can be found who are wise to win souls, the churches will have such ministers. It is in vain to contend against it, or to pretend that they are not well educated, or not learned, or the like. It is in vain for the schools to try to force down the throats of the churches a race of ministers who are learned in everything but what they most need to know. The churches have pronounced them not made right, and they will not sustain that which is notoriously so inadequate as the present system of theological education.

18:93-94 It is very difficult to say what needs to be said on this subject, without being in danger of begetting a wrong spirit in the church, towards ministers. Many professors of religion are ready to find fault with ministers when they have no reason; insomuch, that it becomes very difficult to say of ministers what is true, and what needs to be said, without its being perverted and abused by this class of professors. I would not for the world say anything to injure the influence of a minister of Christ, who is really endeavoring to do good. I would that they deserved a hundred times more influence than they now deserve or have. But, to tell the truth will not injure the influence of those ministers, who by their lives and preaching give evidence to the church, that their object is to do good, and win souls to Christ. This class of ministers will recognise the truth of all that I have said, or wish to say. They see it all, and deplore it. But if there be ministers who are doing no good, who are feeding themselves and not the flock, such ministers deserve no influence. If they are doing no good, it is time for them to betake themselves to some other profession. They are but leeches on the very vitals of the church, sucking out its heart's blood. They are useless, and worse than useless. And the sooner they are laid aside, and their places filled with those who will exert themselves for Christ the better.

18:94-94 FINALLY--It is the duty of the church to pray for us, ministers. Not one of us is such as we ought to be. Like Paul, we can say, "Who is sufficient for these things?" But who of us is like Paul? Where will you find such a minister as Paul? They are not here. We have been wrongly educated, all of us. Pray for the schools, and colleges, and seminaries. And pray for young men who are preparing for the ministry. Pray for ministers, that God would give them this wisdom to win souls. And pray that God would bestow upon the church the wisdom and the means to educate a generation of ministers who will go forward and convert the world. The church must travail in prayer, and groan and agonize for this. This is now the pearl of price to the church, to have a supply of the right sort of ministers. The coming of the millenium depends on having a different sort of ministers, who are more thoroughly educated for their work. And this we shall have so sure as the promise of the Lord holds good. Such a ministry as is now in the church will never convert the world. But the world is to be converted, and therefore God intends to have ministers who will do it. "Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth laborers into his harvest."

 

 

 

Back to contents

19:1-89 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION by The Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY LECTURE XIII HOW CHURCHES CAN HELP MINISTERS

19:2-89 TEXT. --And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses's hands were heavy, and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon: and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side and the other on the other side: and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. --EXODUS xvii. 11-13.

19:3-89 You who read your Bibles will recollect the connection in which these verses stand. The people of God in subduing their enemies came to battle against the Amalekites, and these incidents took place. It is difficult to conceive why importance should be attached to the circumstance of Moses holding up his hands, unless the expression is understood to denote the attitude of prayer. And then his holding up his hands, and the success attending it, will teach us the importance of prayer to God, for his aid in all our conflicts with the enemies of God. The co-operation and support of Aaron and Hur have been generally understood to represent the duty of churches to sustain and assist ministers in their work, and the importance of this co-operation to the success of the preached gospel. I shall make this use of it on the present occasion. As I have spoken of the duty of ministers to labor for revivals, I shall now consider,

19:4-89 THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CO-OPERATION OF THE CHURCH IN PRODUCING AND CARRYING ON A REVIVAL.

19:5-89 There are a number of things whose importance in promoting a revival has not been duly considered by churches and ministers, which if not attended to will make it impossible that revivals should extend, or even continue for any considerable time. In my last two lectures, I have been dwelling on the duties of ministers, as it was impossible for me to preach a course of lectures on revivals without entering more or less extensively into that department of means. I have not done with that part of the subject, but have thought it important here to step aside and discuss some points in which the church must stand by and aid their minister, if they expect to enjoy a revival. In discussing the subject, I propose,

19:6-89 I. To mention several things which Christians must avoid, if they would support ministers.

19:7-89 II. Some things to which they must attend.

19:8-89 I. I am to mention several things that must be avoided.

19:9-89 1. By all means keep clear of the idea, both in theory and practice, that a minister is to promote revivals alone. Many people are inclined to take a passive attitude on this subject, and feel as if they had nothing to do. They have employed a minister and paid him, to feed them with instruction and comfort, and now they have nothing to do but to sit and swallow the food he gives. They are to pay his salary, and attend on his preaching, and they think that is doing a great deal. And he on his part is expected to preach good, sound, comfortable doctrine, to bolster them up, and make them feel comfortable, and so they expect to go to heaven. I tell you, THEY WILL GO TO HELL, if this is their religion. That is not the way to heaven.

19:10-89 Rest assured that where this spirit prevails in the church, however good the minister may be, the church have taken the course to prevent a revival. If he is ever so faithful, ever so much engaged, ever so talented and eloquent, he may wear himself out, and perhaps destroy his life, but he will have little or no revival.

19:11-89 Where there is no church, or very few members in the church, a revival may be promoted without any organized effort of the church, because it is not there, and in such a case, God accommodates his grace to the circumstances, as he did when the apostles went out, single-handed, to plant the gospel in the world. I have seen instances of powerful revivals where such was the case. But where there are means, God will have them used. I had rather have no church in a place, than attempt to promote a revival in a place where there is a church which will not work. God will be inquired of by his people to bestow blessings. The counteracting influence of a church that will not work is worse than infidelity. There is no possibility of occupying neutral ground, in regard to a revival, though some professors imagine they are neutral. If a professor will not lay himself out in the work, he opposes it. Let such a one attempt to take middle ground, and say he is going to wait and see how they come out--why, that is the very ground the devil wants him to take. Professors can in this way do his work a great deal more effectually than by open opposition. If they take open ground in opposition, everybody will say they have no religion. But by this middle course they retain their influence, and thus do the devil's work more effectually.

19:12-89 In employing a minister, a church must remember that they have only employed a leader to lead them on to action in the cause of Christ. People would think it strange if any body should propose to support a general and then let him go and fight alone! This is no more absurd, or destructive, than for a minister to attempt to go forward alone. The church misconceive the design of the ministry, if they leave their minister to work alone. It is not enough that they should hear the sermons. That is only the word of command, which the church are bound to follow.

19:13-89 2. Do not complain of your minister because there is no revival, if you are not doing your duty. It is of no use to complain of there being no revival, if you are not doing your duty. That alone is a sufficient reason why there should be no revival. It is a most cruel and abominable thing for a church to complain of their minister, when they themselves are fast asleep. It is very common for professors of religion to take great credit to themselves, and quiet their own consciences by complaining of their ministers. And when the importance of ministers being awake is spoken of, this sort of people are ready to say, We never shall have a revival with such a minister, when the fact is that their minister is much more awake than they are themselves.

19:14-89 Another thing is true in regard to this point, and worthy of notice. When the church is sunk down in a low state, professors of religion are very apt to complain of the church, and of the low state of religion among them. That intangible and irresponsible being, the "church," is greatly complained of by them, for being asleep. Their complaints of the low state of religion, and of the coldness of the church or of the minister, are poured out dolefully, without their seeming to realize that the church is composed of individuals, and that until each one will take his own case in hand, complain of himself, and humble himself before God, and repent, and wake up, the church can never have any efficiency, and there never can be a revival. If instead of complaining of your minister, or of the church, you would wake up as individuals, and not complain of him or them until you can say you are pure from the blood of all men, and are doing your duty to save sinners, he would be apt to feel the justice of your complaints, and if he would not God would, and would either wake him up or remove him.

19:15-89 3. Do not let your minister kill himself by attempting to carry on the work alone, while you refuse to help him. It sometimes happens that a minister finds the ark of the Lord will not move unless he lays out his utmost strength, and he has been so desirous of a revival that he has done this, and has died. And he was willing to die for it. I could mention some cases in this State, where ministers have died, and no doubt in consequence of their labors to promote a revival where the church hung back from the work.

19:16-89 I will mention one case. A minister, some years since, was laboring where there was a revival; and was visited by an elder of a church at some distance who wanted him to go and preach there. There was no revival there, and never had been, and the elder complained about their state, said they had had two excellent ministers, one had worn himself completely out and died, and the other had exhausted himself, and got discouraged, and left them, and they were a poor and feeble church, and their prospects very dark unless they could have a revival, and so he begged this minister to go and help them. He seemed to be very sorrowful, and the minister heard his whining, and at last replied by asking, Why did you never have a revival? I do not know, said the elder. Our minister labored hard, but the church did not seem to wake up, and somehow there seemed to be no revival. "Well, now," said the minister, "I see what you want; you have killed one of God's ministers, and broke down another so that he had to leave you, and now you want to get another there and kill him, and the devil has sent you here to get me to go and rock your cradle for you. You had one good minister to preach to you, but you slept on, and he exerted himself till he absolutely died in the work. Then the Lord let you have another, and still you lay and slept, and would not wake up to your duty. And now you have come here in despair, and want another minister, do you? God forbid that you should ever have another while you do as you have done. God forbid that you should ever have a minister, till the church will wake up to duty." The elder was affected, for he was a good man. The tears came in his eyes, and he said it was no more than they deserved. "And now," said the minister, "will you be faithful, and go home and tell the church what I say? If you will, and they will be faithful and wake up to duty, they shall have a minister, I will warrant them that." The elder said he would, and he was true to his word; he went home and told the church how cruel it was for them to ask another minister to come among them, unless they would wake up. They felt it, and confessed their sins, and waked up to duty, and a minister was sent to them, and a precious and powerful revival followed.

19:17-89 Churches do not realize how often their coldness and backwardness may be absolutely the cause of the death of ministers. The state of the people, and of sinners, rests upon their mind, they travail in soul night and day, and they labor in season and out of season, beyond the power of the human constitution to bear, till they wear out and die. The church know not the agony of a minister's heart, when he travails for souls, and labors to wake up the church to help, and still sees them in the slumbers of death. Perhaps sometimes they will rouse up to spasmodic effort for a few days, and then all is cold again. And so many a faithful minister wears himself out and dies, and then these heartless professors are the first to blame him for doing so much.

19:18-89 I recollect a case of a good minister, who went to a place where there was a revival, and while there heard a pointed sermon to ministers. He received it like a man of God; he did not rebel against God's truth, but he vowed to God that he never would rest until he saw a revival among his people. He returned home and went to work; the church would not wake up, except a few members, and the Lord blessed them, and poured out his Spirit, but the minister laid himself down on his bed and died, in the midst of the revival.

19:19-89 4. Be careful not to complain of plain, pointed preaching, even when its reproofs fasten on yourselves. Churches are apt to forget that a minister is responsible only to God. They want to make rules for a minister to preach by, so as not to have it fit them. If he bears down on the church, and exposes the sins that prevail among them, they call it personal, and rebel against the truth. Or they say, he should not preach so plainly to the church before the world; it exposes religion, they say, and he ought to take them by themselves and preach to the church alone, and not tell sinners how bad Christians are. But there are cases where a minister can do no less than to show the house of Jacob their sins. If you ask, Why not do it when we are by ourselves? I answer, Just as if sinners did not know you did wrong. I will preach to you by yourselves, about your own sins, when you will get together by yourselves to sin. But as the Lord liveth, if you sin before the world, you shall be rebuked before the world. Is it not a fact that sinners do know how you live, and that they stumble over you into hell? Then do not blame ministers, when they see it their duty to rebuke the church openly, before the world. If you are so proud you cannot bear this, you need not expect a revival. Do not call preaching too plain because it exposes the faults of the church. There is no such thing as preaching too plain.

19:20-89 5. Sometimes professors take alarm, lest the minister should offend the ungodly by plain preaching. And they will begin to caution him against it, and ask him if he had not better alter a little to avoid giving offence, and the like. This fear is excited especially if some of the more wealthy and influential members of the congregation are offended, lest they should withdraw their support from the church, and no longer give their money to help to pay the minister's salary, and so the burden will come the heavier on the church. They never can have a revival in such a church. Why, the church ought to pray, above all things, that the truth may come on the ungodly like fire. What if they are offended? Christ can get along very well without their money. Do not blame your minister, nor ask him to change his mode of preaching to please and conciliate the ungodly. It is of no use for a minister to preach to the impenitent, unless he can preach the truth to them. And it will do no good for them to pay for the support of the gospel, unless it is preached in such a way that they may be searched and saved.

19:21-89 Sometimes church members will talk among themselves about the minister's imprudence, and create a party, and get into a very wrong spirit, because the wicked are displeased. There was a place where there was a powerful revival, and great opposition. The church were alarmed, for fear that if the minister was not less plain and pointed, some of the impenitent would go and join some other congregation. And one of the leading men in the church was appointed to go to the minister and ask him not to preach quite so hard, for if he continued to do so, such and such persons would leave the congregation. The minister asked, Is not the preaching true? "Yes." Does not God bless it? "Yes." Did you ever see the like of this work before in this place? "No, I never did." "Get thee behind me, Satan, the devil has sent you here on this errand; you see God is blessing the preaching, the work is going on, and sinners are converted every day, and now you come to get me to let down the tone of preaching, so as to ease the minds of the ungodly." The man felt the rebuke, and took it like a Christian; he saw his error and submitted, and never again was heard to find fault with the plainness of preaching.

19:22-89 In another town, where there was a revival, a woman who had some influence, (not pious), complained very much about plain, pointed, personal preaching, as she called it. But by and by she herself became a subject of the work. After this some of her impenitent friends reminded her of what she used to say against the preacher for "preaching it out so hot." She now said her views were altered, and she did not care how hot the truth was preached, if it was red hot.

19:23-89 6. Do not take part with the wicked in any way. If you do it at all, you will strengthen their hands. If the wicked accuse the minister of being imprudent, or of being personal, and if the church members, without admitting that the minister does so, only admit that personal preaching is wrong, and talk about the impropriety of personal preaching, the wicked will feel themselves strengthened by such remarks. Do not unite with them at all, for they will feel that they have you on their side against their minister. You adopt their principles, and use their language, and are understood as sympathizing with them. What is personal preaching? No individual is ever benefited by preaching unless he is made to feel that it means him. Now such preaching is always personal. It often appears so personal, to wicked men, that they feel as if they were just going to be called out by name before the congregation. A minister was once preaching to a congregation, and when describing certain characters, he said, "If I was omniscient, I could call out by name the very persons that answer to this picture." A man cried out, "Name me!" and he looked as if he was going to sink into the earth. He afterwards said that he had no idea of speaking out, but the minister described him so perfectly, that he really thought he was going to call him by name. The minister did not know there was such a man in the world. It is common for men to think their own conduct is described, and they complain, "Who has been telling him about me? Somebody has been talking to him about me, and getting him to preach at me." I suppose I have heard of five hundred or a thousand just such cases. Now if the church members will just admit that it is wrong for a minister to mean anybody in his preaching, how can he do any good? If you are not willing your minister should mean anybody, or preach to anybody, you had better dismiss him. Whom must he preach to, if not to the persons, the individuals before him? And how can he preach to them, when he does not mean them?

19:24-89 7. If you wish to stand by your minister in promoting a revival, do not by your lives contradict his preaching. If he preaches that sinners are going to hell, do not give the lie to it, and smile it all away, by your levity and unconcern. I have heard sinners speak of the effect produced on their minds, by levity in Christians, after a solemn and searching discourse. They feel solemn and tender, and begin to be alarmed at their condition, and they see these professors, instead of weeping over them, all light and easy, as much as to say, "Do not be afraid, sinners, it is not so bad, after all; keep cool and you will do well; do you think we would laugh and joke if you were going to hell so fast? We should not laugh if only your house was on fire, still less if we saw you burning in it." Of what use is it for a minister to preach to sinners, in such a state of things?

19:25-89 8. Do not needlessly take up the time of your minister. Ministers often lose a great deal of time by individuals calling on them to talk, when they have nothing of importance to talk about, and no particular errand. The minister of course is glad to see his friends, and often too willing to spend time in conversation with his people, as he loves and esteems them. Professors of religion should remember that a minister's time is worth more than gold, for it can be employed in that which gold can never buy. If the minister is kept from his knees, or from his Bible, or his study, that they may indulge themselves in his conversation, they do a great injury. When you have a good reason for it, you should never be backward to call on him, and even take up all the time that is necessary. But if you have nothing in particular to say that is important, keep away. I knew a man in one of our cities, who was out of business, and he used to take up months of the minister's time. He would come to his study, and sit for three hours at a time, and talk, because he had nothing else to do, till finally, the minister had to rebuke him plainly, and tell him how much sin he was committing.

19:26-89 9. Be sure not to sanction any thing that is calculated to divert public attention from the subject of religion. Often when it comes the time of year to work, when the evenings are long, and business is light, and the very time to make an extra effort, at this moment, somebody in the church will give a party, and invite some Christian friends, so as to have it a religious party. And then some other family must do the same, to return the compliment. Then another and another, till it grows into an organized system of parties, that consume the whole winter. Abominable! This is the grand device of the devil, because it appears so innocent, and so proper, to promote good feeling, and increase the acquaintance of Christians with each other. And so, instead of prayer meetings they will have these parties.

19:27-89 The evils of these parties are very great. They are often got up at great expense, and the most abominable gluttony is practised in them. It is said that the expense is from one hundred to two thousand dollars. I have been told that in some instances, professed Christians have given great parties, and made great entertainments, and excused their ungodly prodigality in the use of Jesus Christ's money, by giving what was left, after the feast was ended, to the poor! Thus making it a virtue to feast and riot, even to surfeiting, on the bounties of God's providence, under pretence of benefiting the poor. This is the same in principle, with a splendid ball which was given some years since, in a neighboring city. The ball was got up for the benefit of the poor, and each gentleman was to pay a certain sum, and after the ball was ended, whatever remained of the funds thus raised, was to be given to the poor. Truly this is strange charity, to eat and drink and dance, and when they have rioted and feasted until they can enjoy it no longer, they deal out to the poor the crumbs that have fallen from the table. I do not see why such a ball is not quite as pious as such Christian parties. The evil of balls does not consist simply in the exercise of dancing, but in the dissipation, and surfeiting, and temptations connected with them.

19:28-89 But it is said they are Christian parties, and that they are all, or nearly all, professors of religion who attend them. And furthermore, that they are concluded, often, with prayer. Now I regard this as one of the worst features about them; that after the waste of time and money, the excess in eating and drinking, the vain conversation, and nameless fooleries, with which such a season is filled up, an attempt should be made to sanctify it, and palm it off upon God, by concluding it with prayer. Say what you will, it would not be more absurd or incongruous, or impious, to close a ball, or a theatre, or a card party with prayer.

19:29-89 Has it come to this, that professors of religion, professing to desire the salvation of the world, when such calls are made upon them, from the four winds of heaven, to send the gospel, to furnish Bibles, and tracts, and missionaries, to save the world from death, that they should spend hundreds of dollars in an evening, and then go to the monthly concert and pray for the heathen!

19:30-89 In some instances, I have been told, they find a salve for their consciences, in the fact that their minister attends their parties. This, of course, would give weight to such an example, and if one professor of religion made a party and invited their minister, others must do the same. The next step they take may be for each to give a ball, and appoint their minister a manager! Why not? And perhaps, by and by, he will do them the favor to play the fiddle. In my estimation he might quite as well do it, as to go and conclude such a party with prayer.

19:31-89 I have heard with pain, that a circle of parties, I know not to what extent, has been held in ROCHESTER--that place so highly favored of the Lord. I know not through whose influence they have been got up, or by what particular persons they have been patronized and attended. But I should advise any congregation who are calculating to have a circle of parties, in the mean time to dismiss their minister, and let him go and preach where the people would be ready to receive the word and profit by it, and not have him stay and be distressed, and grieved, and killed, by attempting to promote religion among them, while they are engaged heart and hand in the service of the devil.

19:32-89 Professors of religion should never get up anything that may divert public attention from religion, without first having consulted their minister, and made it a subject of special prayer. And if they find it will have this effect, they ought never to do it. Subjects will often come up before the public which have this tendency; some course of lectures, or show, or the like. Professors ought to be wise, and understand what they are about, and not give countenance to any such thing, until they see what influence it will have, and whether it will hinder a revival. If it will do that, let them have nothing to do with it. Every such thing should be estimated by its bearing upon Christ's kingdom.

19:33-89 In relation to parties, say what you please about their being an innocent recreation, I appeal to any of you who have ever attended them, to say whether they fit you for prayer, or increase your spirituality, or whether sinners are ever converted in them, or Christians made to agonize in prayer for souls?

19:34-89 II. I am to mention several things which churches must DO, if they would promote a revival and aid their minister.

19:35-89 1. They must attend to his temporal wants. A minister, who gives himself wholly to the work, cannot be engaged in worldly employments, and of course is entirely dependent on his people for the supply of his temporal wants, including the support of his family. I need not argue this point here, for you all understand this perfectly. It is the command of God, that "they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." But now look around and see how many churches do in this matter. For instance, when they want a minister, they will cast about and see how cheap they can get one. They will calculate to a farthing how much his salt will cost, and how much his meal, and then set his salary so low as to subject him to extreme inconvenience to get along and keep his family. A minister must have his mind at ease, to study and labor with effect, and he cannot screw down prices, and banter, and look out for the best chances to buy to advantage what he needs. If he is obliged to do this, his mind is embarrassed. Unless his temporal wants are so supplied, that his thoughts may be abstracted from them, how can he do his duty?

19:36-89 2. Be honest with your minister.

19:37-89 Do not measure out and calculate with how much salt and how many bushels of grain he can possibly get along. Remember, you are dealing with Christ. And he calls you to place his ministers in such a situation that with ordinary prudence temporal embarrassment is out of the question.

19:38-89 3. Be punctual with him.

19:39-89 Sometimes churches, when they are about settling a minister, have a great deal of pride about giving a salary, and they will get up a subscription, and make out an amount which they never pay, and very likely never expected to pay. And so, after one, two, three, or four years, the society gets three or four hundred dollars in arrears to their minister, and then they expect he will give it to them. And all the while they wonder why there is no revival! This may be the very reason, because the church have LIED; they have faithfully promised to pay so much, and have not done it. God cannot consistently pour out his Spirit on such a church.

19:40-89 4. Pay him his salary without asking.

19:41-89 Nothing is so embarrassing, often, to a minister as to be obliged to dun his people for his salary. Often he gets enemies, and gives offence, by being obliged to call, and call, and call for his money, and then not get it as they promised. They would have paid it if their credit had been at stake, but when it is nothing but conscience and the blessing of God, they let it lie along. if any one of them had a note at the bank, you would see him careful and prompt to be on the ground before three o'clock. That is because the note will be protested, and they shall lose their character. But they know the minister will not sue them for his salary, and they are careless and let it run along, and he must suffer the inconvenience. This is not so common in the city as it is in the country. But in the country, I have known some heart-rending cases of distress and misery, by the negligence and cruelty of congregations in WITHHOLDING that which is due. Churches live in habitual lying and cheating, and then wonder why they have no revival. How can they wonder?

19:42-89 5. Pray for your minister.

19:43-89 I mean something by this. And what do you suppose I mean? Even the apostles used to urge the churches to pray for them. This is more important than you imagine. Ministers do not ask people to pray for them simply as men, nor that they may be filled with an abundance of the Spirit's influences, merely to promote their personal enjoyment. But they know that unless the church greatly desires a blessing upon the labors of a minister, it is tempting God for him to expect it. How often does a minister go into his pulpit, feeling that his heart is ready to break for the blessing of God, while he also feels that there is no room to expect it, for there is no reason to believe the church desire it! Perhaps he has been two hours on his knees in supplication, and yet because that the church do not desire a blessing, he feels as if his words would bound back in his face.

19:44-89 I have seen Christians who would be in an agony, when the minister was going into the pulpit, for fear his mind should be in a cloud, or his heart cold, or he should have no unction, and so a blessing should not come. I have labored with a man of this sort. He would pray until he got assurance in his mind that God would be with me in preaching, and sometimes he would pray himself sick. I have known the time, when he has been in darkness for a season, while the people were gathering, and his mind was full of anxiety, and he would go again and again to pray, till finally he would come into the room with a placid face, and say, "The Lord has come, and he will be with us." And I do not know that I ever found him mistaken.

19:45-89 I have known a church bear their minister on their arms in prayer from day to day, and watch with anxiety unutterable, to see that he has the Holy Ghost with him in his labors! When they feel and pray thus, Oh, what feelings and what looks are manifest in the congregation! They have felt anxiety unutterable to have the word come with power, and take effect, and when they see their prayer answered, and they hear a word or a sentence come WARM from the heart, and taking effect among the people, you can see their whole souls look out of their eyes. How different is the case, where the church feel that the minister is praying, and so there is no need of their praying! They are mistaken. The church must desire and pray for the blessing. God says he will be inquired of by the house of Israel. I wish you to feel that there can be no substitute for this.

19:46-89 I have seen cases in revivals, where the church was kept in the back ground in regard to prayer, and persons from abroad were called on to pray in all the meetings. This is always unhappy, even if there should be a revival, for the revival must be less powerful and less salutary in its influences upon the church. I do not know but I have sometimes offended Christians and ministers from abroad, by continuing to call on members of the church in the place to pray, and not on those from abroad. It was not from any disrespect to them, but because the object was to get that church which was chiefly concerned, to desire, and pray, and agonize for a blessing.

19:47-89 In a certain place, a protracted meeting was held, with no good results, and great evils produced. I was led to make inquiry for the reason. And it came out, that in all their meetings, not one member of their own church was called on to pray, but all the prayers were made by persons from abroad. No wonder there was no good done. The church was not interested. The leader of the meeting meant well, but he undertook to promote a revival without getting the church there into the work. He let a lazy church lie still and do nothing, and so there could be no good.

19:48-89 Churches should pray for ministers as the agents of breaking down sinners with the word of truth. Prayer for a minister is often done in a set and formal way, and confined to the prayer meetings. They will say their prayers in the old way, as they have always done: "Lord, bless thy ministering servant, whom thou hast stationed on this part of Zion's walls," and so on, and it amounts to nothing, because there is no heart in it. And the proof often is, that they never thought of praying for him in secret, they never have agonized in their closets for a blessing on his labors. They may not omit it wholly in their meetings. If they do that, it is evident that they care very little indeed about the labors of their minister. But that is not the most important place. The way to present effectual prayer for your minister is to take it to your closet, and when you are in secret, wrestle with God for success to attend his labors.

19:49-89 I knew a case of a minister in ill health, who became depressed and sunk down in his mind, and was very much in darkness, so that he did not feel as if he could preach any longer. An individual of the church was waked up to feel for the minister's situation, and to pray that he might have the Holy Ghost to attend his preaching. One Sabbath morning, this person's mind was very much exercised, and he began to pray as soon as it was light, and prayed again and again for a blessing that day. And the Lord in some way directed the minister within hearing of his prayer. The person was telling the Lord just what he thought of the minister's situation and state of mind, and pleading, as if he would not be denied, for a blessing. The minister went into the pulpit and preached, and the light broke in upon him, and the word was with power, and a revival commenced that very day.

19:50-89 6. A minister should be provided for by the church, and his support guarranteed[sic.], irrespective of the ungodly. Otherwise he may be obliged either to starve his family, or to keep back a part of the truth so as not to offend sinners. I once expostulated with a minister who I found was afraid to come out fully with the truth. I told him I was surprised he did not bear down on certain points. He told me he was so situated that he must please certain men, who would be touched there. It was the ungodly that chiefly supported him, and that made him dependent and temporizing. And yet perhaps that very church which left their minister dependent on the ungodly for his bread, will turn round and abuse him for his want of faith, and his fear of men. The church ought always to say to their minister, "We will support you; go to work; let the truth pour down on the people, and we will stand by you."

19:51-89 7. See that everything is so arranged, that people can sit comfortably in meeting. If people do not sit easy, it is difficult to get or to keep their attention. And if they are not attentive, they can not be converted. They have come to hear for their lives, and they ought to be so situated that they can hear with all their souls, and have nothing in their bodily position to call for attention. Churches do not realize how important it is that the place of meeting should be made comfortable. I do not mean showy. All your glare and glory of rich chandeliers, and rich carpets, and splendid pulpits, is the opposite extreme, and takes off the attention just as badly, and defeats every object for which a sinner should come to meeting. You need not expect a revival there.

19:52-89 8. See that the house of God is kept cleanly. The house of God should be kept as clean as you would want your own house to be kept. Churches are often kept excessively slovenly. I have seen them, where people used so much tobacco, and took so little care about neatness, that it was impossible to preach with comfort. Once in a protracted meeting, the thing was charged upon the church, and they had to acknowledge it, that they paid more money for tobacco than they did for the cause of missions. They could not kneel in their pews, and ladies could not sit without all the time watching their clothes, and they had to be careful where they stepped, because the house was so dirty, and there was so much tobacco juice running all about the floor. If people cannot go where they can hear without being annoyed with offensive sights and smells, and where they can kneel in prayer, what good will a protracted meeting do? There is an importance in these things, which is not realized. See that man! What is he doing? I am preaching to him about eternal life, and he is thinking about the dirty pew. And that woman is asking for a footstool to keep her feet out of the tobacco juice. Shame!

19:53-89 9. It is important that the house should be just warm enough, and not too warm. Suppose a minister comes into a house, and finds it cold; he sees as soon as he gets in, that he might as well have staid home; the people are shivering, their feet cold, they feel as if they should take cold, they are uneasy, and he wishes he was at home, for he knows he cannot do anything, but he must preach, or they will be disappointed.

19:54-89 Or he may find the house too warm, and the people, instead of listening to the truth, are fanning, and panting for breath, and by and by a woman faints, and makes a stir, and the train of thought and feeling is all lost, and so a whole sermon is wasted to no good end. These little things take off the attention of people from the words of eternal life. And very often it is so, that if you drop a single link in the chain of argument, you lose the whole, and the people are damned, just because the careless church do not see to the proper regulation of these little matters.

19:55-89 10. The house should be well ventilated. Of all houses, a church should be the most perfectly ventilated. If there is no change of the air, it passes through so many lungs it becomes bad, and its vitality is exhausted, and the people pant, they know not why, and feel an almost irresistible desire to sleep, and the minister preaches in vain. The sermon is lost, and worse than lost. I have often wondered that this matter should be so little the subject of thought. The elders and trustees will sit and hear a whole sermon, while the people are all but ready to die for the want of air, and the minister is wasting his strength in preaching where the room is just like an exhausted receiver, and there they sit and never think to do any thing to help the matter. They should take it upon themselves to see that this is regulated right, that the house is just warm enough, and the air kept pure. How important it is that the church should be awake to this subject, that the minister may labor to the best advantage, and the people give their undivided attention to the truth, which is to save their souls.

19:56-89 It is very common, when things are wrong, to have it all laid to the sexton. This is not so. Often the sexton is not to blame. If the house is cold and uncomfortable, very often it is because the fuel is not good, or the stoves not suitable, or the house is so open it cannot be warmed. If it is too warm, perhaps somebody has intermeddled when he was out, and heaped on fuel without discretion. Or, if the sexton is in fault, perhaps it is because the church do not pay him enough for his services, and he cannot afford to give the attention necessary to keep the church in order. Churches sometimes screw down the sexton's salary, to the lowest point, so that he is obliged to slight his work. Or they will select one who is incompetent, for the sake of getting him cheap, and then the thing is not done. The fault is in the church. Let them give an adequate compensation for the work, and it can be done, and done faithfully. If one sexton will not do right, another will, and the church are bound to see it done right, or else let them dismiss their minister, and not keep him, and at the same time have other things in a state so out of order that he loses all his work. What economy! To pay the minister's salary, and then for the want of fifty dollars added to the sexton's wages, every thing is so out of order that the minister's labors are all lost, souls are lost, and your children and neighbors go down to hell!

19:57-89 Sometimes this uncleanliness, and negligence, and confusion are chargeable to the minister. Perhaps he uses tobacco, and sets the example of defiling the house of God. Perhaps the pulpit will be the filthiest place in the house. I have sometimes been in pulpits that were too loathesome to be occupied by human beings. If a minister has no more piety and decency than this, no wonder things are at loose ends in the congregation. And generally it is even so.

19:58-89 11. People should leave their dogs, and very young children at home. I have often known contentions arise among dogs, and children to cry, just at that stage of the services, that would most effectually destroy the effect of the meeting. If children are present and weep, they should instantly be removed. I have sometimes known a mother or a nurse sit and toss her child, while its cries were diverting the attention of the whole congregation. This is cruel. And as for dogs, they had infinitely better be dead, than to divert attention from the word of God. See that deacon; perhaps his dog has in this way destroyed more souls than the deacon will ever be instrumental in saving.

19:59-89 12. The members of the church should aid the minister by visiting from house to house, and trying to save souls. Do not leave all this to the minister. It is impossible he should do it, even if he gives all his time, and neglects his study and his closet. Church members should take pains and qualify themselves for this duty, so that they can be useful in it.

19:60-89 13. They should hold Bible classes. Suitable individuals should be selected to hold Bible classes, for the instruction of the young people, and where those who are awakened or affected by the preaching, can be received and be converted. As soon as any one is seen to be touched, let them be invited to join the Bible class, where they will be properly treated, and probably they will be converted. The church should select the best men for this service, and should all be on the look out to fill up the Bible classes. It has been done in this congregation, and it is a very common thing, when persons are impressed, that they are observed by somebody, and invited to join the Bible class, and they will do it, and there they are converted. I do not mean that we are doing all we ought to do in this way, or all we might do. We want more teachers, able and willing to take charge of such classes.

19:61-89 14. Churches should sustain Sabbath schools, and in this way aid their ministers in saving souls, How can a minister attend to this and preach? Unless the church will take off these responsibilities, and cares, and labors, he must either neglect them, or be crushed. Let the church be WIDE AWAKE, watch and bring in children to the school, and teach them faithfully, and lay themselves out to promote a revival in the school.

19:62-89 15. They should watch over the members of the church. They should visit each other, in order to stir each other up, know each other's spiritual state, and provoke one another to love and good works. The minister cannot do it, he has not time; it is impossible he should study and prepare sermons, and at the same time visit every member of the church as often as it needs to be done to keep them advancing. The church are bound to do it. They are under oath to watch over each other's spiritual welfare. But how is this done? Many do not know each other. They meet and pass each other as strangers, and never ask about their spiritual condition. But if they hear anything bad of one, they go and tell it to others. Instead of watching over each other for their good, they watch for their halting. How can they watch for good when they are not even acquainted with each other?

19:63-89 16. The church should watch for the effect of preaching. If they are praying for the success of the preached word, they will watch for it of course. They should keep a look out, and when any in the congregation give evidence that the word of God has taken hold of them, they should follow it up. Wherever there are any exhibitions of feeling, those persons should be attended to instantly, and not left till their impressions wear off. They should talk to them, or get them visited, or get them into the anxious meeting, or into the Bible class, or bring them to the minister. If the members of the church do not attend to this, they neglect their duty. If they attend to it, they may do incalculable good.

19:64-89 There was a pious young woman, who lived in a very cold and wicked place. She alone had the spirit of prayer, and she had been praying for a blessing upon the word. At length she saw one individual in the congregation who seemed to be affected by the preaching, and as soon as the minister came from the pulpit, she came forward, agitated and trembling, and begged him to go and converse with the person immediately. He did so, and the individual was soon converted, and a revival followed. Now one of your stupid professors would not have seen that individual awakened, and would have stumbled over half a dozen of them without notice, and let them go to hell. Professors should watch every sermon, and see how it affects the congregation. I do not mean that they should be stretching their necks and staring about the house, but they should observe, as they may, and if they find any person affected by preaching, throw themselves in his way, and guide him to the Saviour.

19:65-89 17. Beware and not give away all the preaching to others. If you do not take your portion, you will starve, and become like spiritual skeletons. Christians should take their portion to themselves. If the word should be quite searching to them, they should make the honest application, and lay it along side their heart and practise it, and live by it. Otherwise preaching will do them no good.

19:66-89 18. Be ready to aid your minister in effecting his plans for doing good. When the minister is wise to devise plans for usefulness, and the church ready to execute them, they may carry all before them. But when the church hang back from every enterprise until they are actually dragged into it, when they are opposing every proposal, because it will cost something, they are a dead weight upon a minister. If stoves are needed, Oh, no, they will cost something. If lamps are called for, to prevent preaching in the dark, Oh, no, they will cost something. And so they will stick up candles on the posts, or do without evening meetings altogether. If they stick up candles, it soon comes to pass that they either give no light, or some one must run round and snuff them. And so the whole congregation are disturbed by the candle-snuffer, their attention taken off, and the sermon lost.

19:67-89 I was once attending a protracted meeting, where we were embarrassed because there were no lamps to the house. I urged the people to get them, but they thought it would cost too much. I then proposed to get them myself, and was about to do it, but found it would give offence, and we went on without. But the blessing did not come, to any great extent. How could it? The church began by calculating to a cent how much it would cost, and they would not go beyond, to save souls from hell.

19:68-89 So where a minister appoints a meeting, such people cannot have it, because it will cost something. If they can offer unto the Lord that which costs nothing, they will do it. Miserable helpers they are! Such a church can have no revival. A minister might as well have a millstone about his neck as such a church. He had better leave them, if he cannot learn them better, and go where he will not be so hampered.

19:69-89 19. Church members should make it a point to attend prayer meetings, and attend in time. Some church members will always attend on preaching, because there they have nothing to do, but to sit and hear, and be entertained, but they will not attend prayer meetings, for fear they shall be called on to do something. Such members tie up the hands of the minister, and discourage his heart. Why do they employ a minister? Is it to amuse them by preaching? or is it that he may teach them the will of God that they may do it?

19:70-89 20. Church members ought to study and inquire what they can do, and then do it. Christians should be trained like a band of soldiers. It is the duty and office of a minister to train them for usefulness, to teach them and direct them, and lead them on in such a way as to produce the greatest amount of moral influence. And then they should stand their ground and do their duty, otherwise they will be right in the way.

19:71-89 There are many other points which I noted, and intended to touch upon, but there is not time. I could write a book as big as this Bible, in detailing the various particulars that ought to be attended to. I must close with a few

19:72-89 REMARKS. 1. You see that a minister's want of success may not be wholly on account of a want of wisdom in the exercise of his office. I am not going to plead for negligent ministers. I never will spare ministers from the naked truth, nor apply flattering tides to men. If they are blameworthy, let them be blamed. And no doubt they are always more or less to blame when the word produces no effect. But it is far from being true that they are always the principal persons to blame. Sometimes the church is much more to blame than the minister, and if an apostle or an angel from heaven were to preach, he could not produce a revival of religion in that church. Perhaps they are dishonest to their minister, or covetous, or careless about the conveniences of public worship. Alas! what a state many country churches are in, where, for the want of a hundred dollars, everything is inconvenient and uncomfortable, and the labors of the preacher are lost. They live in ceiled houses themselves, and let the house of God lie waste. Or the church counteract all the influence of preaching by their ungodly lives. Or perhaps their parties, their worldly show, as in most of the churches in this city, annihilate the influence of the gospel.

19:73-89 2. Churches should remember that they are exceedingly guilty to employ a minister, and then not aid him in his work. The Lord Jesus Christ has sent an ambassador to sinners, to turn them from their evil ways, and he fails of his errand, because the church refuse to do their duty. Instead of recommending his message, and seconding his entreaties, and holding up his hands in all the ways that are proper, they stand right in the way, and contradict his message, and counteract his influence, and souls perish. No doubt in most of the congregations in the United States, the minister is often hindered so much that he might as well be on a foreign mission a great part of the time, as to be there, for any effect of his preaching in the conversion of sinners, while he has to preach over the heads of an inactive, stupid church.

19:74-89 And yet these very churches are not willing to have their minister absent a few days to attend a protracted meeting. "We cannot spare him; why he is our minister, and we like to have our minister here;" while at the same time they hinder all he can do. If he could, he would tear himself right away, and go where there is no minister, and where the people would be willing to receive the gospel. But there he must stay, though he cannot get the church into a state to have a revival once in three years, to last three months at a time. It might be well for him to say to the church, "Whenever you are determined to take one of these long naps, I wish you to let me know it, so that I can go and labor somewhere else in the mean time, till you are ready to wake again."

19:75-89 3. Many churches cannot be blessed with a revival, because they are spunging[sic.] out of other churches, and out of the treasury of the Lord for the support of their minister, when they are abundantly able to support him themselves. Perhaps they are depending on the Home Missionary Society, or on other churches, while they are not exercising any self-denial for the sake of the gospel. I have been amazed to see how some churches live. One church that I was acquainted with actually confessed that they spent more money for tobacco than they gave for missions. And yet they had no minister, because they were not able to support one. And they have none now. And yet there is one man in that church who is able to support a minister. And still they have no minister, and no preaching.

19:76-89 The churches have not been instructed in their duty on this subject. I stopped in one place last summer, where there was no preaching. I inquired of an elder in the church why it was so, and he said it was because they were so poor. I asked him how much he was worth. He did not give me a direct answer, but said that another elder's income was about $5000 a year, and I finally found out that this man's was about the same. Here, said I, are two elders, each of you able to support a minister, and because you cannot get help from abroad, you have no preaching. Why, if you had preaching, it would not be blessed, while you were thus spunging out of the Lord's treasury. Finally, he confessed that he was able to support a minister, and the two together agreed that they would do it.

19:77-89 It is common for churches to ask help, when in fact they do not need any help, and when it would be a great deal better for them to support their own minister. If they get funds from the Home Missionary Society, when they ought to raise them themselves, they may expect the curse of the Lord upon them, and this will be a sufficient reason for the Gospel's proving to them a curse rather than a blessing. Of how many churches might it be said, "Ye have robbed God, even this whole church."

19:78-89 I know a church who employed a minister but half the time, and felt unable to pay his salary for that. A female working society in a neighboring town appropriated their funds to this object, and assisted this church in paying their minister's salary. The result was as might be expected. He did them little or no good. They had no revival under his preaching, nor could they ever expect any, while acting on such a principle. There was one man in that congregation who could support a minister all the time. I was informed by a member that the church members were supposed to be worth TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS. Now if this is true, here is a church with an income, at seven per cent., of $14,000 a year, who felt themselves too poor to pay $200 for support of a minister to preach half the time, and would suffer the females of a neighboring town to work with their own hands to aid them in paying this sum. Among the elders of this church, I found that several of them used tobacco, and two of them who lived together signed a covenant written on the blank leaf of their Bible, in which they pledged themselves to abandon that sin for ever.

19:79-89 It was in a great measure for want of right instruction that this church was pursuing such a course. For when the subject was taken up, and their duty laid before them, the wealthy man of whom I am speaking said that he would pay the whole salary himself, if he thought it would not be resented by the congregation, and do more hurt than good; and that if the church would procure a minister, and go ahead and raise a part of his salary, he would make up the remainder. They can now not only support a minister half the time, but all the time, and pay his salary themselves. And they will find it good and profitable to do so.

19:80-89 As I have gone from place to place laboring in revivals, I have always found that churches were blessed in proportion to their liberality. Where they have manifested a disposition to support the gospel, and to pour their substance liberally into the treasury of the Lord, they have been blessed both in spiritual and temporal things. But where they have been parsimonious, and let the minister preach for them for little or nothing, these churches have been cursed instead of blessed. And as a general thing, in revivals of religion, I have found it to be true that young converts are most inclined to join those churches which are most liberal in making efforts to support the gospel.

19:81-89 The churches are very much in the dark on this subject. They have not been taught their duty. I have, in many instances, found an exceeding readiness to do it when the subject was laid before them. I knew an elder in a church who was talking about getting a minister for half the time, because the church were poor, although his own income was considerable. I asked him if his income was not sufficient to support a minister all the time himself. He said it was. And on being asked what other use he could make of the Lord's money which he possessed, that would prove so beneficial to the interest of Christ's kingdom, as to employ a minister not only half but all the time in his own town, he concluded to set himself about it. A minister has been accordingly obtained, and I believe they find no difficulty in paying him his full salary.

19:82-89 The fact is, that a minister can do but little by preaching only half the time. If on one Sabbath an impression is made, it is lost before a fortnight comes round. As a matter of economy, a church should lay themselves out to support the gospel all the time. If they get the right sort of a minister, and keep him steadily at work, they may have a revival, and thus the ungodly will be converted and come in and help them. And thus in one year they may have a great accession to their strength. But if they employ a minister but half the time, year after year may roll away, while sinners are going to hell, and no accession is made to their strength from the ranks of the ungodly.

19:83-89 The fact is, that professors of religion have not been made to feel that all their possessions are the Lord's. Hence they have talked about giving their property for the support of the gospel. As if the Lord Jesus Christ was a beggar, and they called upon to support his gospel as an act of almsgiving! A merchant in one of the towns in this State, was paying a large part of his minister's salary. One of the members of the church was relating the fact to a minister from abroad, and speaking of the sacrifice which this merchant was making. At this moment the merchant came in. "Brother," said the minister, "you are a merchant. Suppose you employ a clerk to sell goods, and a schoolmaster to teach your children. You order your clerk to pay your schoolmaster out of the store such an amount, for his services in teaching. Now suppose your clerk should give out that he had to pay this schoolmaster his salary, and should speak of the sacrifices that he was making to do it, what would you say to this?" "Why," said the merchant, "I should say it was ridiculous." "Well," says the minister, "God employs you to sell goods as his clerk, and your minister he employs to teach his children, and requires you to pay his salary out of the income of the store. Now, do you call this your sacrifice, and say that you are making a great sacrifice, to pay this minister's salary? No, you are just as much bound to sell goods for God as he is to preach for God. You have no more right to sell goods for the purpose of laying up money, than he has to preach the gospel for the same purpose. You are bound to be just as pious, and to aim as singly at the glory of God, in selling goods, as he is in preaching the gospel. And thus you are as absolutely to give up your whole time for the service of God as he does. You and your family may lawfully live out of the avails of this store, and so may the minister and his family, just as lawfully. If you sell goods from these motives, selling goods is just as much serving God as preaching. And a man who sells goods upon these principles, and acts in conformity to them, is just as pious, just as much in the service of God, as he is who preaches the gospel. Every man is bound to serve God in his calling, the minister by teaching, the merchant by selling goods, the farmer by tilling his fields, the lawyer and physician by plying the duties of their profession.

19:84-89 "It is equally unlawful for any one of these to labor for the meat that perisheth. All they do is to be for God, and all they can earn, after comfortably supporting their families, is to be dedicated to the spread of the gospel and the salvation of the world."

19:85-89 It has long enough been supposed that ministers must be more pious than other men, that they must not love the world, that they must labor for God: they must live as frugally as possible, and lay out their whole time, and health, and strength, and life, to build up the kingdom of Jesus Christ. This is true. But although other men are not called to labor in the same field, and to give up their time to public instruction, yet they are just as absolutely bound to consider their whole time as God's, and have no more right to love the world, or accumulate wealth, or lay it up for their children, or spend it upon their lusts, than ministers have.

19:86-89 It is high time the church was acquainted with these principles; and the Home Missionary Society may labor till the day of judgment to convert the people, and they will never succeed, till the churches are led to understand and feel their duty in this respect. Why, the very fact that they are asking and receiving aid in supporting their minister from the Home Missionary Society while they are able to support him themselves, is probably the very reason why his labors among them are not more blessed.

19:87-89 I would that the American Home Missionary Society possessed a hundred times the means that it now does, of aiding feeble churches, that are unable to help themselves. But it is neither good economy nor piety, to give their funds to those who are able but unwilling to support the gospel. For it is in vain to attempt to help them, while they are able but unwilling to help themselves.

19:88-89 If the Missionary Society had a ton of gold, it would be no charity to give it to such a church. But let the church bring in all the tithes to God's storehouse, and God will open the windows of heaven and pour down a blessing. But let the churches know assuredly that if they are unwilling to help themselves to the extent of their ability, they will know the reason why such small success attends the labors of their ministers. Here they are spunging their support from the Lord's treasury. How many churches are laying out their money for tea and coffee and tobacco, and then come and ask aid from the Home Missionary Society! I will protest against aiding a church who use tea and tobacco, and live without the least self-denial, and who want to offer God only that which costs nothing.

19:89-89 FINALLY--If they mean to be blessed, let them do their duty, do all their duty, put shoulder to the wheel, gird on the gospel armor, and come up to the work. Then, if the church is in the field, the car of salvation will move on, though all hell oppose, and sinners will be converted and saved. But if a church will give up all the labor to the minister, and sit still and look on, while he is laboring, and themselves do nothing but complain of him, they will not only fail of a revival of religion, but if they continue slothful and censorious, will by and by find themselves in hell for their disobedience and unprofitableness in the service of Christ.

 

 

 

Back to contents

20:1-84 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION by The Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY LECTURE XIV MEASURES TO PROMOTE REVIVALS

20:2-84 TEXT. --These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city and teach customs which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. --ACTS xvi. 20,21.

20:3-84 "THESE men," here spoken of, were Paul and Silas, who went to Philippi to preach the gospel, and very much disturbed the people of that city, because they supposed the preaching would interfere with their worldly gains. And so they arraigned the preachers of the gospel before the magistrates of the city, as culprits, and charged them with teaching doctrines, and especially employing measures, that were not lawful.

20:4-84 In discoursing from these words I design to show,

20:5-84 I. That under the gospel dispensation, God has established no particular system of measures to be employed and invariably adhered to in promoting religion.

20:6-84 II. To show that our present forms of public worship, and everything, so far as measures are concerned, have been arrived at by degrees, and by a succession of New Measures.

20:7-84 I. I am to show that under the gospel, God has established no particular measures to be used.

20:8-84 Under the Jewish dispensation, there were particular forms enjoined and prescribed by God himself, from which it was not lawful to depart. But these forms were all typical, and were designed to shadow forth Christ, or something connected with the new dispensation that Christ was to introduce. And therefore they were fixed, and all their details particularly prescribed by Divine authority. But it was never so under the gospel. When Christ came, the ceremonial or typical dispensation was abrogated, because the design of those forms was fulfilled, and therefore themselves of no further use. He, being the anti-type, the types were of course done away at his coming. THE GOSPEL was then preached as the appointed means of promoting religion; and it was left to the discretion of the church to determine, from time to time, what measures shall be adopted, and what forms pursued, in giving the gospel its power. We are left in the dark as to the measures which were pursued by the apostles and primitive preachers, except so far as we can gather it from occasional hints in the book of Acts. We do not know how many times they sung and how many times they prayed in public worship, nor even whether they sung or prayed at all in their ordinary meetings for preaching. When Jesus Christ was on earth, laboring among his disciples, he had nothing to do with forms or measures. He did from time to time in this respect just as it would be natural for any man to do in such cases, without anything like a set form or mode of doing it. The Jews accused him of disregarding their forms. His object was to preach and teach mankind the true religion. And when the apostles preached afterwards, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, we hear nothing about their having a particular system of measures to carry on their work, or one apostle doing a thing in a particular way because others did it in that way. Their commission was, "Go and preach the gospel, and disciple all nations." It did not prescribe any forms. It did not admit any. No person can pretend to get any set of forms or particular directions as to measures, out of this commission. Do it--the best way you can--ask wisdom from God--use the faculties he has given you--seek the direction of the Holy Ghost--go forward and do it. This was their commission. And their object was to make known the gospel in the most effectual way, to make the truth stand out strikingly, so as to obtain the attention and secure the obedience of the greatest number possible. No person can find any form of doing this laid down in the Bible. It is preaching the gospel that stands out prominently there as the great thing. The form is left out of the question.

20:9-84 It is manifest, that, in preaching the gospel, there must be some kind of measures adopted. The gospel must be gotten before the minds of the people, and measures must be taken so that they can hear it, and to induce them to attend to it. This is done by building churches, holding stated or other meetings, and so on. Without some measures, it can never be made to take effect among men.

20:10-84 II. I am to show that our present forms of public worship, and everything, so far as measures are concerned, have been arrived at by degrees, and by a succession of New Measures.

20:11-84 1. I will mention some things in regard to the ministry.

20:12-84 Many years ago, ministers were accustomed to wear a peculiar habit. It is so now in Catholic countries. It used to be so here. Ministers had a peculiar dress as much as soldiers. They used to wear a cocked hat, and bands instead of a cravat or stock, and small clothes, and a wig. No matter how much hair a man had on his head, he must cut it off and wear a wig. And then he must wear a gown. All these things were customary, and every clergyman was held bound to wear them, and it was not considered proper for him to officiate without them. All these had doubtless been introduced by a succession of innovations, for we have no good reason for believing that the apostles and primitive ministers dressed differently from other men.

20:13-84 But now all these things have been given up, one by one, by a succession of innovations or new measures, until now in many churches a minister can go into the pulpit and preach without being noticed, although dressed like any other man. And when it was done in regard to each one of them, the church complained as much as if it had been a Divine institution given up. It was denounced as an innovation. When ministers began to lay aside their cocked hats, and wear hats like other men, it grieved the elderly people very much; it looked so "undignified," they said, for a minister to wear a round hat. When, in 1827 I wore a fur cap, a minister said, "that was too bad for a minister."

20:14-84 When ministers first began, a few years since, to wear white hats, it was thought by many to be a sad and very undignified innovation. And even now, they are so bigoted in some places, that a clergyman told me but a few days since, in travelling through New England last summer with a white hat, he could perceive that it injured his influence. This spirit should not be looked upon as harmless; I have good reason to know that it is not harmless. Thinking men see it to be mere bigotry, and are exceedingly in danger of viewing everything about religion in the same light on this account. This has been the result in many instances. There is at this day scarcely a minister in the land who does not feel himself obliged to wear a black coat, as much as if it were a divine institution. The church is yet filled with a kind of superstitious reverence for such things. This is a great stumbling block to many minds.

20:15-84 So, in like manner, when ministers laid aside their bands, and wore cravats or stocks, it was said they were becoming secular, and many found fault. Even now, in some places, a minister would not dare to be seen in the pulpit in a cravat or stock. The people would feel as if they had no clergyman, if he had no bands. A minister in this city asked another, but a few days since, if it would do to wear a black stock in the pulpit. He wore one in his ordinary intercourse with his people, but doubted whether it would do to wear it in the pulpit.

20:16-84 So in regard to short clothes; they used to be thought essential to the ministerial character. Even now, in Catholic countries, every priest wears small clothes. Even the little boys there, who are training for the priest's office, wear their cocked hats, and black stockings, and small clothes. This would look ridiculous amongst us. But it used to be practised in this country. The time was when good people would have been shocked if a minister had gone into the pulpit with pantaloons on. They would have thought he was certainly going to ruin the church by his innovations. I have been told that some years ago, in New England, a certain elderly clergyman was so opposed to the new measure of a minister's wearing pantaloons, that he would on no account allow them in his pulpit. A young man was going to preach for him, who had no small clothes, and the old minister would not let him officiate in pantaloons. "Why," said he, "my people would think I had brought a fop into the pulpit, to see a man there with pantaloons on, and it would produce an excitement among them." And so, finally, the young man was obliged to borrow a pair of the old gentleman's clothes, and they were too short for him, and made a ridiculous figure enough. But any thing was better than such a terrible innovation as preaching in pantaloons. But reason has triumphed.

20:17-84 Just so it was in regard to wigs. I remember one minister, who, though quite a young man, used to wear an enormous white wig. And the people talked as if there was a divine right about it, and it was as hard to give it up, almost, as to give up the Bible itself. Gowns also were considered essential to the ministerial character. And even now, in many congregations in this country, the people will not tolerate a minister in the pulpit, unless he has a flowing silk gown, with enormous sleeves as big as his body. Even in some of the Congregational Churches in New England, they cannot bear to give it up. Now, how came people to suppose a minister must have a gown or a wig, in order to preach with effect? Why was it that every clergyman was held obliged to use these things? How is it that not one of these things have been given up in the churches, without producing a shock among them? They have all been given up, one by one, and many congregations have been distracted for a time by the innovation. But will any one pretend that the cause of religion has been injured by it? People felt as if they could hardly worship God without them, but plainly their attachment to them was no part of their religion, that is, no part of the Christian religion. It was mere superstition. And when these things were taken away they complained, as Micah did, "Ye have taken away my gods." But no doubt their religious character was improved, by removing these objects of superstitious reverence. So that the church, on the whole, has been greatly the gainer by the innovations. Thus you see that the present mode of a minister's dress has been gained by a series of new measures.

20:18-84 2. In regard to the order of public worship.

20:19-84 The same difficulties have been met in effecting every change, because the church have felt as if God had established just the mode which they were used to.

20:20-84 (1.) Psalm Books. Formerly it was customary to sing David's Psalms. By and by there was introduced a version of the Psalms in rhyme. This was very bad, to be sure. When ministers tried to introduce them, the churches were distracted, people violently opposed, and great trouble was created by the innovation. But the new measure triumphed.

20:21-84 Afterwards another version was brought forward in a better style of poetry, and its introduction was opposed with much contention, as a new measure. And finally Watt's version, which is still opposed in many churches. No longer ago than 1828, when I was in Philadelphia, I was told that a minister there was preaching a course of lectures on psalmody to his congregation, for the purpose of bringing them to use a better version of psalms and hymns than the one they were accustomed to. And even now, in a great many congregations, there are people who will go out of church, if a psalm or hymn is given out from a new book. And if Watt's Psalms should be adopted, they would secede and form a new congregation, rather than tolerate such an innovation. The same sort of feeling has been excited by introducing the "Village Hymns" in prayer meetings. In one Presbyterian congregation in this city, within a few years, the minister's wife wished to introduce the Village Hymns into the female prayer meetings, not daring to go any further. She thought she was going to succeed. But some of the careful souls found out that is was made in New England, and refused to admit it. "It is a Hopkinsian thing, I dare say."

20:22-84 (2.) Lining the Hymns. Formerly, when there were but few books, it was the custom to line the hymns, as it was called. The deacon used to stand up before the pulpit, and read off the psalm or hymn, a line at a time, or two lines at a time, and then sing, and the rest would all fall in. By and by, they began to introduce books, and let every one sing from his book. And what an innovation! Alas, what confusion and disorder it made! How could the good people worship God in singing, without having the deacon to line off the hymn in his holy tone, for the holiness of it seemed to consist very much in the tone, which was such that you could hardly tell whether he was reading or singing.

20:23-84 (3.) Choirs. Afterwards another innovation was carried. It was thought best to have a select choir of singers sit by themselves and sing, so as to give an opportunity to improve the music. But this was bitterly opposed. Oh, how many congregations were torn and rent in sunder, by the desire of ministers and some leading individuals to bring about an improvement in the cultivation of music, by forming choirs of singers. People talked about innovations and new measures, and thought great evils were coming to the churches, because the singers were seated by themselves, and cultivated music, and learned new tunes that the old people could not sing. It did not use to be so when they were young, and they would not tolerate such new lights and novelties in the church.

20:24-84 (4.) Pitchpipes. When music was cultivated, and choirs seated together, then the singers wanted a pitchpipe. Formerly, when the lines were given out by the deacon or clerk, he would strike off into the tune, and the rest would follow as well as they could. But when the leaders of choirs begun to use pitchpipes for the purpose of pitching all their voices on precisely the same key, what vast confusion it made! I heard a clergyman say that an elder in the town where he used to live, would get up and leave the house whenever he heard the chorister blow his pipe. "Away with your whistle," said he. "What! whistle in the house of God!" He thought it a profanation.

20:25-84 (5.) Instrumental Music. By and by, in some congregations, various instruments were introduced for the purpose of aiding the singers, and improving the music. When the bass viol was first introduced, it made a great commotion. People insisted they might just as well have a fiddle in the house of God. "Why, it is a fiddle, it is made just like a fiddle, only a little larger, and who can worship where there is a fiddle? By and by you will want to dance in the meeting house." Who has not heard these things talked of, as matters of the most vital importance to the cause of religion and the purity of the church? Ministers, in grave ecclesiastical assemblies, have spent days in discussing them. In a synod in the Presbyterian church, only a few years ago, it was seriously talked of by some, as a matter worthy of discipline in a certain church, that they had an organ in the house of God. This within a few years. And there are many churches now who would not tolerate an organ. They would not be half so much excited to be told that sinners are going to hell, as to be told that there is going to be an organ in the meeting house. Oh, in how many places can you get the church to do anything else, easier than to come along in an easy and natural way to do what is needed, and wisest, and best, for promoting religion and saving souls! They act as if they had a "Thus saith the Lord," for every custom and practice that has been handed down to them, or that they have long followed themselves, however absurd or injurious.

20:26-84 (6.) Extemporary Prayers. How many people are there, who talk just as if the Prayer Book was of divine institution! And I suppose multitudes believe it is. And in some parts of the church a man would not be allowed to pray without his book before him.

20:27-84 (7.) Preaching without notes. A few years since, a lady in Philadelphia was invited to hear a certain minister preach, and she refused, because he did not read his sermons. She seemed to think it would be profane for a man to go into the pulpit and talk, just as if he was talking to the people about some interesting and important subject. Just as if God had enjoined the use of notes and written sermons. They do not know that notes themselves are an innovation, and a modern one too. They were introduced in a time of political difficulties in England. The ministers were afraid they should be accused of preaching something against the government, unless they could show what they had preached, by having all written down beforehand. And with a time-serving spirit, they yielded to political considerations, and imposed a yoke of bondage upon the church. And, now in many places, they cannot tolerate extempore preaching.

20:28-84 (8.) Kneeling in Prayer. This has made a great disturbance in many parts of the country. The time has been in the Congregational churches in New England, when a man or woman would be ashamed to be seen kneeling at a prayer meeting, for fear of being taken for a Methodist. I have prayed in families where I was the only person that would kneel. The others all stood, lest they should imitate the Methodists, I suppose, and thus countenance innovations upon the established form. Others, again, talk as if there was no other posture but kneeling, that could be acceptable in prayer.

20:29-84 3. Labors of Laymen.

20:30-84 (1.) Lay Prayers. Much objection was formerly made against allowing any man to pray or to take a part in managing a prayer meeting, unless he was a clergyman. It used to be said that for a layman to pray in public, was interfering with the dignity of ministers, and was not to be tolerated. A minister in Pennsylvania told me that, a few years ago, he appointed a prayer meeting in the church, and the elders opposed it and turned it out of the house. They said they would not have such work, they had hired a minister to do the praying, and he should do it, and they were not going to have common men praying.

20:31-84 Ministers and many others have very extensively objected against a layman's praying in public, and especially in the presence of a minister. That would let down the authority of the clergy, and was not to be tolerated. At a synod held in this State, there was a synodical prayer meeting appointed. The committee of arrangements, as it was to be a formal thing, designated beforehand the persons who were to take part, and named two clergymen and one layman. The layman was a man of talents and information equal to most ministers. But one doctor of divinity got up and seriously objected to a layman's being asked to pray before that synod. It was not usual, he said; it infringed upon the rights of the clergy, and he wished no innovations. What a state of things!

20:32-84 (2.) Lay exhortation. This has been made a question of vast importance, one which has agitated all New England, and many other parts of the country, whether laymen ought to be allowed to exhort in public meetings. Many ministers have labored to shut up the mouths of laymen entirely. They overlooked the practice of the primitive churches. So much opposition was made to this practice nearly a hundred years ago, that President Edwards actually had to take up the subject, and write a labored defence of the rights and duties of laymen. But the opposition has not entirely ceased to this day. "What! A man that is not a minister, to talk in public! it will create confusion, it will let down the ministry; what will people think of us, ministers, if we allow common men to do the same things that we do?" Astonishing!

20:33-84 But now, all these things are gone by, in most places, and laymen can pray and exhort without the least objection. The evils that were feared, from the labors of laymen, have not been realized, and many ministers are glad to have them exercise their gifts in doing good.

20:34-84 4. Female Prayer Meetings. Within the last few years, female prayer meetings have been extensively opposed in this State. What dreadful things! A minister, now dead, said that when he first attempted to establish these meetings, he had all the clergy around opposed to him. "Set women to praying? Why, the next thing, I suppose, will be to set them to preaching." And serious apprehensions were entertained for the safety of Zion, if women should be allowed to get together to pray. And even now, they are not tolerated in some churches.

20:35-84 So it has been in regard to all the active movements of the church. Missions, Sunday Schools, and everything of the kind, have been opposed, and have gained their present hold in the church only by a succession of struggles and a series of innovations. A Baptist Association in Pennsylvania, some years since, disclaimed all fellowship with any minister that had been liberally educated, or that supported Missions, Bible Societies, Sabbath Schools, Temperance Societies, etc. All these were denounced as New Measures, not found in the Bible, and that would necessarily lead to distraction and confusion in the churches. The same thing has been done by some among the German churches. And in many Presbyterian churches, there are found those who will take the same ground, and denounce all these things, with the exception, perhaps, of an educated ministry, as innovations, new measures, new lights, going in their own strength, and the like, and as calculated to do great evil.

20:36-84 5. I will mention several men who have in Divine providence been set forward as prominent in introducing these innovations.

20:37-84 (1.) The apostles were great innovators, as you all know. After the resurrection, and after the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them, they set out to remodel the church. They broke down the Jewish system of measures and rooted it out, so as to leave scarcely a vestige.

20:38-84 (2.) Luther and the Reformers. You all know what difficulties they had to contend with, and the reason was, that they were trying to introduce new measures--new modes of performing the public duties of religion, and new expedients to bring the gospel with power to the hearts of men. All the strange and ridiculous things of the Roman Catholics were held to in the church with pertinacious obstinacy, as if they were of Divine authority. And such an excitement was raised by the attempt to change them, as well nigh involved all Europe in blood.

20:39-84 (3.) Wesley and his coadjutors. Wesley did not at first tear off from the Established Church in England, but formed little classes everywhere, that grew into a church within a church. He remained in the Episcopal church, but he introduced so much of new measures, as to fill all England with excitement and uproar and opposition, and he was everywhere denounced as an innovator and a stirrer up of sedition, and a teacher of new things which it was not lawful to receive.

20:40-84 Whitefield was a man of the same school, and like Wesley was an innovator. I believe he and several individuals of his associates were expelled from college for getting up such a new measure, as a social prayer meeting. They would pray together and expound the Scriptures, and this was such a daring novelty that it could not be borne. When Whitefield came to this country, what an astonishing opposition was raised! Often he well nigh lost his life, and barely escaped by the skin of his teeth. Now, everybody looks upon him as the glory of the age in which he lived. And many of our own denomination have so far divested themselves of prejudice as to think Wesley not only a good but a wise and pre-emiently useful man. Then almost the entire church viewed them with animosity, fearing that the innovations he introduced would destroy the church.

20:41-84 (4.) President Edwards. This great man was famous in his day for new measures. Among other innovations, he refused to baptize the children of impenitent parents. The practice of baptizing the children of the ungodly had been introduced in the New England churches in the preceding century, and had become nearly universal, President Edwards saw that the practice was wrong, and he refused to do it, and the refusal shook all the churches of New England. A hundred ministers joined and determined to put him down. He wrote a book on the subject, and defeated them all. It produced one of the greatest excitements there ever was in New England. Nothing, unless it was the Revolutionary War, ever produced an equal excitement.

20:42-84 The General Association of Connecticut refused to countenance Whitefield, he was such an innovator. "Why, he will preach out of doors and anywhere!" Awful! What a terrible thing, that a man should preach in the fields or in the streets. Cast him out.

20:43-84 All these were devoted men, seeking out ways to do good and save souls. And precisely the same kind of opposition was experienced by all the ecclesiastical bodies, obstructing their path and trying to destroy their character and influence. A book, now extant, was written in President Edwards' time, by a doctor of divinity, and signed by a multitude of ministers, against Whitefield and Edwards, their associates and their measures. A letter was published in this city by a minister against Whitefield, which brought up the same objections against innovations that we hear now. In the time of the late opposition to revivals in the State of New York, a copy of this letter was taken to the editor of a religious periodical with a request that he would publish it. He refused, and gave for a reason, that if published, many would apply it to the controversy that is going on now. I mention it merely to show how identical is the opposition that is raised in different ages against all new measures designed to advance the cause of religion.

20:44-84 6. In the present generation, many things have been introduced which have proved useful, but have been opposed on the ground that they were innovations. And as many are still unsettled in regard to them, I have thought it best to make some remarks concerning them. There are three things in particular which have chiefly attracted remark, and therefore I shall speak of them. They are Anxious Meetings, Protracted Meetings, and the Anxious Seat. These are all opposed, and are called new measures.

20:45-84 (1.) Anxious Meetings. The first that I ever heard of under that name, was in New England, where they were appointed for the purpose of holding personal conversation with anxious sinners, and to adapt instruction to the cases of individuals, so as to lead them immediately to Christ. The design of them is evidently philosophical, but they have been opposed because they were new. There are two modes of conducting an anxious meeting, either of which may effect the object of them.

20:46-84 (a.) By spending a few moments in personal conversation and learning the state of mind of each individual, and then in a address to the whole, take up all their errors and remove their difficulties together.

20:47-84 (b.) By going round to each, and taking up each individual case, and going over the whole ground with each one separately, and getting them to promise to give up their hearts to God. Either way they are important, and have been found most successful in practice. But multitudes have objected to them because they were new.

20:48-84 (2.) Protracted Meetings. These are not new, but have always been practised, in some form or other, ever since there was a church on earth. The Jewish festivals were nothing else but protracted meetings. In regard to the manner, they were conducted differently from what they are now. But the design was the same, to devote a series of days to religious services, in order to make a more powerful impression of divine things upon the minds of the people. All denominations of Christians, when religion prospers among them, hold protracted meetings. In Scotland they used to begin on Thursday at all their communion seasons, and continue until after the Sabbath. The Episcopalians, Baptists, and Methodists all hold protracted meetings. Yet now in our day they have been opposed, particularly among Presbyterians, and called new measures, and regarded as fraught with all manner of evil, notwithstanding they have been so manifestly and so extensively blessed. I will suggest a few things that ought to be considered in regard to them.

20:49-84 (a.) In appointing them, regard should be had to the circumstances of the people; whether the church are able to give their attention and devote their time to carry on the meeting. In some instances this rule has been neglected. Some have thought it right to break in upon the necessary business of the community. In the country, they would appoint the meeting in harvest time, and in the city in the height of the business season, when all the men were necessarily occupied and pressed with their temporal labors. In defence of this course it is said that our business should always be made to yield to God's business; that eternal things are of so much more importance than temporal things, that worldly business of any kind, and at any time, should be made to yield and give place to a protracted meeting. But the worldly business in which we are engaged is not our business. It is as much God's business, and as much our duty, as our prayers and protracted meetings are. If we do not consider our business in this light, we have not yet taken the first lesson in religion; we have not learned to do all things to the glory of God. With this view of the subject, separating our business from religion, we are living six days for ourselves, and the seventh for God. REAL DUTIES NEVER INTERFERE WITH EACH OTHER. Week days have their appropriate duties, and the Sabbath its appropriate duties, and we are to be equally pious on every day in the week, and in the performance of the duties of every day. We are to plough, and sow, and sell our goods, and attend to our various callings, with the same singleness of view to the glory of God, that we go to church on the Sabbath, and pray in our families, and read our Bibles. This is a first principle in religion. He that does not know and act on this principle has not learned the A B C of piety as yet. Now there are particular seasons of the year in which God in his providence calls upon men to attend to business, because worldly business at the time is particularly urgent, and must be done at that season, if done at all; seed time and harvest for the farmer, and the business seasons for the merchant. And we have no right to say, in those particular seasons, that we will quit our business and have a protracted meeting. The fact is, the business is not ours. And unless God, by some special indication of his providence, shown it to be his pleasure that we should turn aside and have a protracted meeting at such times, I look upon it as tempting God to appoint them. It is saying, "O God, this worldly business is our business, and we are willing to lay it aside for thy business." Unless God has indicated it to be his pleasure to pour out his Spirit, and revive his work at such a season, and has thus called upon his people to quit, for the time being, their ordinary employments, and attend especially to a protracted meeting, it appears to me that God might say to us in such circumstances, "Who hath required this of your hand?"

20:50-84 God has a right to dispose of our time as he pleases, to require us to give up any portion of our time, or all our time, to duties of instruction and devotion. And when circumstances plainly call for it, it is our duty to lay aside every other business, and make direct and continuous efforts for the salvation of souls. If we transact our business upon right principles, and from right motives, and wholly for the glory of God, we shall never object to go aside to attend a protracted meeting whenever there appears to be a call for it in the providence of God. A man who considers himself a steward or a clerk, does not consider it a hardship to rest from his labors on the Sabbath, but a privilege. The selfish owner may feel unwilling to suspend his business on the Sabbath. But the clerk, who transacts business not for himself but for his employer, considers it a privilege to rest upon the Sabbath. So we, if we do our business for God, shall not think it hard if he makes it our duty to suspend our worldly business and attend a protracted meeting. We should rather consider it in the light of a holiday. Whenever, therefore, you hear a man pleading that he cannot leave his business to attend a protracted meeting --that it is his duty to attend to business, there is reason to fear that he considers the business as his own, and the meeting as God's business. If he felt that the business of the store or farm was as much God's business as attending a protracted meeting, he would doubtless be very willing to rest from his worldly toils, and go up to the house of God and be refreshed whenever there was an indication, on the part of God, that the community was called to that work. It is highly worthy of remark, that the Jewish festivals were appointed at those seasons of the year when there was the least pressure of indispensable worldly business.

20:51-84 In some instances, such meetings have been appointed in the very pressure of the business seasons, and have been followed with no good results, evidently for the want of attention to the rule here laid down. In other cases, meetings have been appointed in seasons when there was a great pressure of worldly business, and have been signally blessed. But in those cases the blessing followed because the meeting was appointed in obedience to the indications of the will of God, by those who had spiritual discernment, and understood the signs of the times. And in many cases, doubtless, individuals have attended who really supposed themselves to be giving up their own business, to attend to God's business, and in such cases they made what they supposed to be a real sacrifice, and God in mercy granted them the blessing.

20:52-84 (b.) Ordinarily, a protracted meeting should be conducted through, and the labor chiefly performed by, the same minister, if possible. Sometimes protracted meetings have been held and dependence placed on ministers coming in from day to day. And they would have no blessing. And the reason was obvious. They did not come in a state of mind to enter into the work, and they did not know the state of people's minds, so as to know what to preach. Suppose a person who was sick should call in a different physician every day. He would not know what the symptoms had been, nor what was the course of the disease or of the treatment, nor what remedies had been tried, nor what the patient could bear. Why, he would certainly kill the patient. Just so in a protracted meeting, carried on by a succession of ministers. None of them get into the spirit of it, and generally they do more hurt than good.

20:53-84 A protracted meeting should not, ordinarily, be appointed, unless they can secure the right kind of help, and get a minister or two who will agree to stay on the ground till the meeting is done. Then they will probably secure a rich blessing.

20:54-84 (c.) There should not be so many public meetings as to interfere with the duties of the closet and of the family. Otherwise Christians will lose their spirituality and let go their hold of God, and the meeting will run down.

20:55-84 (d.) Families should not put themselves out so much in entertaining strangers as to neglect prayer and other duties. It is often the case that when a protracted meeting is held, some of the principal families in the church, I mean those who are principally relied on to sustain the meetings, do not get into the work at all. And the reason is, that they are encumbered with much serving. They often take needless trouble to provide for guests who come from a distance to the meeting, and lay themselves out very foolishly to make an entertainment, not only comfortable but sumptuous. It should always be understood that it is the duty of families to have as little working and parade as possible, and to get along with their hospitality in the easiest way, so that they may all have time to pray, and go to the meeting, and to attend to the things of the kingdom.

20:56-84 (e.) By all means guard against unnecessarily keeping late hours. If people keep late hours, night after night, they will inevitably wear out the body, and their health will fail, and there will be a reaction. They sometimes allow themselves to get so excited as to lose their sleep, and become irregular in their meals, till they break down, and a reaction must come. Unless there is the greatest pains taken to keep regular, the excitement will get so great that nature will give way, and they run down, and the work stops.

20:57-84 (f.) All sectarianism should be carefully avoided. If a sectarian spirit breaks out either in the preaching, or praying, or conversation, it will counteract all the good of the meeting.

20:58-84 (g.) Be watchful against placing dependence on a protracted meeting, as if that of itself would produce a revival. This is a point of great danger, and has always been so. This is the great reason why the church in successive generations has always had to give up her measures--because Christians had come to rely on them for success. So it has been in some places, in regard to Protracted Meetings. They have been so blessed that in some places the people have thought that if they should only have a protracted meeting, they would have a blessing, and sinners would be converted of course. And so they have appointed their meeting, without any preparation in the church, and just sent abroad for some minister of note, and set him to preaching, as if that would convert sinners. It is obvious that the blessing would be withheld from a meeting got up in this way.

20:59-84 (h.) Avoid adopting the idea that a revival cannot be enjoyed without a Protracted Meeting. Some churches have got into a morbid state of feeling on this subject. Their zeal has become all spasmodic and feverish, so that they never think of doing anything to promote a revival, only in that way. When a protracted meeting is held, they will seem to be wonderfully zealous, and then sink down to a torpid state till another protracted meeting produces another spasm. And now multitudes in the church think it is necessary to give up protracted meetings because they are abused in this way. This ought to be guarded against, in every church, so that they may not be driven to give them up, and lose all the benefits that protracted meetings are calculated to produce.

20:60-84 (3.) The Anxious Seat.

20:61-84 By this I mean the appointment of some particular seat in the place of meeting, where the anxious may come and be addressed particularly, and be made subjects of prayer, and sometimes be conversed with individually. Of late this measure has met with more opposition than any of the others. What is the great objection? I cannot see it. The design of the anxious seat is undoubtedly philosophical, and according to the laws of mind. It has two bearings:

20:62-84 1. When a person is seriously troubled in mind, everybody knows that there is a powerful tendency to conceal it. When a person is borne down with a sense of his condition, if you can get him willing to have it known, if you can get him to break away from the chains of pride, you have gained an important point towards his conversion. This is agreeable to the philosophy of the human mind. How many thousands are there who will bless God to eternity, that when pressed by the truth they were ever brought to take this step, by which they threw off the idea that it was a dreadful thing to have anybody know that they were serious about their souls.

20:63-84 2. Another bearing of the anxious seat, is to detect deception and delusion, and thus prevent false hopes. It has been opposed on the ground, that it was calculated to create delusion and false hopes. But this objection is unreasonable. The truth is the other way. Suppose I were preaching on the subject of Temperance, and that I should first show the evils of intemperance, and bring up the drunkard and his family, and show the various evils produced, till every heart is beating with emotion. Then I portray the great danger of moderate drinking, and show how it leads to intoxication and ruin, and that there is no safety but in TOTAL ABSTINENCE, till a hundred hearts are ready to say, "I will never drink another drop of ardent spirit in the world; if I do, I shall expect to find a drunkard's grave." Now, I stop short, and let the pledge be circulated, and everyone that is fully resolved is ready to sign it. But how many will begin to draw back and hesitate, when you begin to call on them to sign a pledge of total abstinence. One says to himself "Shall I sign it, or not? I thought my mind was made up, but this signing a pledge never to drink again, I do not know about that." Thus you see that when a person is called upon to give a pledge, if he is found not to be decided, he makes it manifest that he was not sincere. That is, he never came to that resolution on the subject, which could be relied on to control his future life. Just so with the awakened sinner. Preach to him, and at the moment he thinks he is willing to do anything; he thinks he is determined to serve the Lord; but bring him to the test, call on him to do one thing, to take one step that shall identify him with the people of God, or cross his pride--his pride comes up, and he refuses; his delusion is brought out, and he finds himself a lost sinner still; whereas, if you had not done it, he might have gone away flattering himself that he was a Christian. If you say to him, "There is the anxious seat, come out and avow your determination to be on the Lord's side," and if he is not willing to do so small a thing as that, then he is not willing to do anything, and there he is, brought out before his own conscience. It uncovers the delusion of the human heart, and prevents a great many spurious conversions, by showing those who might otherwise imagine themselves willing to do anything for Christ, that in fact they are willing to do nothing.

20:64-84 The church has always felt it necessary to have something of the kind to answer this very purpose. In the days of the apostles baptism answered this purpose. The gospel was preached to the people, and then all those who were willing to be on the side of Christ were called on to be baptized. It held the precise place that the anxious seat does now, as a public manifestation of their determination to be Christians. And in modern times, those who have been violently opposed to the anxious seat have been obliged to adopt some substitute, or they could not get along in promoting a revival. Some have adopted the expedient of inviting the people who were anxious for their souls to stay for conversation after the rest of the congregation had retired. But what is the difference? This is as much setting up a test as the other. Others, who would be much ashamed to employ the anxious seat, have asked those who have any feeling on the subject to sit still in their seats when the rest retire. Others have called the anxious to retire into the lecture room. The object of all these is the same, and the principle is the same, to bring people out from the refuge of false shame. One man I heard of who was very far gone in his opposition to new measures, in one of his meetings requested all those who were willing to submit to God, or desired to be made subjects of prayer, to signify it by leaning forward and putting their heads down upon the pew before them. Who does not see that this was a mere evasion of the anxious seat, and that it was designed to answer the purpose in its place, and he adopted this because he felt that something of the kind was important?

20:65-84 Now what objection is there against taking a particular seat, or rising up, or going into the lecture-room? They all mean the same thing, when properly conducted. And they are not novelties in principle at all. The thing has always been done in substance. In Joshua's day, he called on the people to decide what they would do, and they spoke right out in the meeting, "We will serve the Lord; the Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey."

20:66-84 REMARKS. 1. If we examine the history of the church we shall find that there never has been an extensive reformation, except by new measures. Whenever the churches get settled down into a form of doing things, they soon get to rely upon the outward doing of it, and so retain the form of religion while they lose the substance. And then it has always been found impossible to arouse them so as to bring about a reformation of the evils, and produce a revival of religion, by simply pursuing that established form. Perhaps it is not too much to say, that it is impossible for God himself to bring about reformations but by new measures. At least, it is a fact that God has always chosen this way, as the wisest and best that he could devise or adopt. And although it has always been the case, that the very measures which God has chosen to employ, and which he has blessed in reviving his work, have been opposed as new measures, and have been denounced, yet he has continued to act upon the same principle. When he has found that a certain mode has lost its influence by having become a form, he brings up some new measure, which will BREAK IN upon their lazy habits, and WAKE UP a slumbering church. And great good has resulted.

20:67-84 2. The same distinctions, in substance, that now exist, have always existed, in all seasons of reformation and revival of religion. There have always been those who particularly adhered to their forms and notions, and precise way of doing things, as if they had a "Thus saith the Lord" for every one of them. They have called those that differed from them, who were trying to roll the ark of salvation forward, Methodists, New Lights, Radicals, New School, New Divinity, and various other opprobrious names. And the declensions that have followed have been uniformly owing to two causes, which should by no means be overlooked by the church.

20:68-84 (1.) The Old School, or Old Measure party, have persevered in their opposition, and eagerly seized hold of any real or apparent indiscretion in the friends of the work.

20:69-84 In such cases, the churches have gradually lost their confidence in the opposition to new measures, and the cry of "New Divinity," and "Innovation" has ceased to alarm them. They see that the blessing of God is with those that are thus accused of new measures and innovation, and the continued opposition of the Old School, together with the continued success of the New School, have destroyed their confidence in the opposition, and they get tired of hearing the incessant cry of "New Lights," and "New Divinity," and "New Measures." Thus the scale has turned, and the churches have pronounced a verdict in favor of the New School, and of condemnation against the Old School.

20:70-84 (2.) But now, mark me: right here in this state of things, the devil has, again and again, taken the advantage, and individuals have risen up, and being sustained by the confidence of the churches in the New Measure party, and finding them sick of opposition, and ready to do anything that would promote the interests of Christ's kingdom, they have driven headlong themselves, and in some instances have carried the churches into the very vortex of those difficulties which have been predicted by their opposers. Thus, when the battle had been fought, and the victory gained, the rash zeal of some well-meaning but headlong individuals, has brought about a reaction that has spread a pall over the churches for years. This was the case, as is well known, in the days of President Edwards. Here is a rock, upon which a light-house is now built, and upon which if the church now run aground, both parties are entirely without excuse. It is now well known, or ought to be known, that the declension which followed the revivals in those days, together with the declensions which have repeatedly occurred, were owing to the combined influence of the continued and pertinacious opposition of the Old School, and the ultimate bad spirit and recklessness of some individuals of the New School.

20:71-84 And here the note of alarm should be distinctly sounded to both parties, lest the devil should prevail against us, at the very point, and under the very circumstances, where he has so often prevailed. Shall the church never learn wisdom from experience? How often, Oh, how often must these scenes be acted over before the millennium shall come! When will it once be, that the church may be revived, and religion prevail, without exciting such opposition in the church, as eventually to bring about a reaction?

20:72-84 3. The present cry against new measures is highly ridiculous, when we consider the quarter from which it comes, and all the circumstances in the case. It is truly astonishing that grave ministers should really feel alarmed at the new measures of the present day, as if new measures were something new under the sun, and as if the present form and manner of doing things had descended from the apostles, and were established by a "Thus saith the Lord:" when the truth is, that every step of the church's advance from the gross darkness of Popery, has been through the introduction of one new measure after another. We now look with astonishment, and are inclined to look almost with contempt, upon the cry of "Innovation," that has preceded our day; and as we review the fears that multitudes in the church have entertained in by-gone days with respect to innovation, we find it difficult to account for what appear to us the groundless and absurd, at least, if not ridiculous objections and difficulties which they made. But, my hearers, is it not wonderful, that at this late day, after the church has had so much experience in these matters, that grave and pious men should seriously feel alarmed at the introduction of the simple, the philosophical, and greatly prospered measures of the last ten years? As if new measures were something not to be tolerated, of highly disastrous tendency, and that should wake the notes and echoes of alarm in every nook and corner of the church.

20:73-84 4. We see why it is that those who have been making the ado about new measures have not been successful in promoting revivals.

20:74-84 They have been taken up with the evils, real or imaginary, which have attended this great and blessed work of God. That there have been evils, no one will pretend to deny. But I do believe, that no revival ever existed since the world began, of so great power and extent as the one that has prevailed for the last ten years, which has not been attended with as great or greater evils. Still a large portion of the church have been frightening themselves and others, by giving constant attention to the evils of revivals. One of the professors in a Presbyterian Theological Seminary, felt it his duty to write a series of letters to Presbyterians, which were extensively circulated, the object of which seemed to be to sound the note of alarm throughout all the borders of the church, in regard to the evils attending revivals. While men are taken up with the evils instead of the excellencies of a blessed work of God, how can it be expected that they will be useful in promoting it? I would say all this in great kindness, but still it is a point upon which I must not be silent.

20:75-84 5. Without new measures it is impossible that the church should succeed in gaining the attention of the world to religion. There are so many exciting subjects constantly brought before the public mind, such a running to and fro, so many that cry "Lo here," and "Lo there," that the church cannot maintain her ground, cannot command attention, without very exciting preaching, and sufficient novelty in measures, to get the public ear. The measures of politicians, of infidels and heretics, the scrambling after wealth, the increase of luxury, and the ten thousand exciting and counteracting influences that bear upon the church and upon the world, will gain their attention and turn all men away from the sanctuary and from the altars of the Lord, unless we increase in wisdom and piety, and wisely adopt such new measures as are calculated to get the attention of men to the gospel of Christ. I have already said, in the course of these lectures, that novelties should be introduced no faster than they are really called for. They should be introduced with the greatest wisdom, and caution, and prayerfulness, and in a manner calculated to excite as little opposition as possible. But new measures we must have. And may God prevent the church from settling down in any set of forms, and getting the present or any other edition of her measures stereotyped.

20:76-84 6. It is evident that we must have more exciting preaching, to meet the character and wants of the age. Ministers are generally beginning to find this out. And some of them complain of it, and suppose it to be owing to new measures, as they call them. They say that such ministers as our fathers would have been glad to hear, now cannot be heard, cannot get a settlement, nor collect an audience. And they think that new measures have perverted the taste of the people. But this is not the difficulty. The character of the age is changed, and these men have not conformed to it, but retain the same stiff, dry, prosing style of preaching that answered half a century ago.

20:77-84 Look at the Methodists. Many of their ministers are unlearned, in the common sense of the term, many of them taken right from the shop or the farm, and yet they have gathered congregations, and pushed their way, and won souls everywhere. Wherever the Methodists have gone, their plain, pointed and simple, but warm and animated mode of preaching has always gathered congregations. Few Presbyterian ministers have gathered so large assemblies, or won so many souls. Now are we to be told that we must pursue the same old, formal mode of doing things, amidst all these changes? As well might the North River be rolled back, as the world converted under such preaching. Those who adopt a different style of preaching, as the Methodists have done, will run away from us. The world will escape from under the influence of this old fashioned or rather new fashioned ministry. It is impossible that the public mind should be held by such preaching. We must have exciting, powerful preaching, or the devil will have the people, except what the Methodists can save. It is impossible that our ministers should continue to do good, unless we have innovations in regard to the style of preaching. Many ministers are finding it out already, that a Methodist preacher, without the advantages of a liberal education will draw a congregation around him which a Presbyterian minister, with perhaps ten times as much learning, cannot equal, because he has not the earnest manner of the other, and does not pour out fire upon his hearers when he preaches.

20:78-84 7. We see the importance of having young ministers obtain right views of revivals. In a multitude of cases, I have seen that great pains are taken to frighten our young men, who are preparing for the ministry, about the evils of revivals, new measures, and the like. Young men in some theological seminaries are taught to look upon new measures as if they were the very inventions of the devil. How can such men have revivals. So when they come out, they look about, and watch, and start, as if the devil was there. Some young men in Princeton, a few years ago, came out with an essay upon the "evils of revivals." I should like to know, now, how many of those young men have enjoyed revivals among their people, since they have been in the ministry; and if any have, I should like to know whether they have not repented of that piece about the evils of revivals.

20:79-84 If I had a voice so loud as to be heard at Princeton, I would speak to those young men on this subject. It is high time to talk plainly on this point. The church is groaning in all her borders for the want of suitable ministers. Good men are laboring and are willing to labor night and day to assist in educating young men for the ministry, to promote revivals of religion; and when they come out of the seminary, some of them are as shy of all the measures that God blesses as they are of popery itself.

20:80-84 Shall it be so always? Must we educate young men for the ministry, and have them come out frightened to death about new measures, as if there had never been any such thing as new measures. They ought to know that new measures are no new thing in the church. Let them GO ALONG, and keep at work themselves, and not be frightened about new measures. I have been pained to see that some men, in giving accounts of revivals, have evidently felt themselves obliged to be particular in detailing the measures used, to avoid the inference that new measures were introduced; evidently feeling that even the church would undervalue the revival unless it appeared to have been promoted without new measures. Besides, this caution in detailing the measures to demonstrate that there was nothing new, looks like admitting that new measures are wrong because they are new, and that a revival is more valuable because it was not promoted by new measures. In this way, I apprehend that much evil has been done, already, and if the practice is to continue, it must come to this, that a revival must be judged of, by the fact that it occurred in connection with new or old measures. I never will countenance such a spirit, nor condescend to guard an account of a revival against the imputation of new or old measures. I believe new measures are right, that is, that it is no objection to a measure that it is new or old.

20:81-84 Let a minister enter fully into his work, and pour out his heart to God for a blessing, and whenever he sees the want of any measure to bring the truth more powerfully before the minds of the people, let him adopt it and not be afraid, and God will not withhold his blessing. If ministers will not go forward, and will not preach the gospel with power and earnestness, and will not turn out of their tracks to do anything new for the purpose of saving souls, they will grieve the Holy Spirit away, and God will visit them with his curse, and raise up other ministers to do work in the world.

20:82-84 8. It is the right and duty of ministers to adopt new measures for promoting revivals. In some places the church have opposed their minister when he has attempted to employ those measures which God has blessed for a revival, and have gone so far as to give up their prayer meetings, and give up laboring to save souls, and stand aloof from everything, because their minister has adopted what they call new measures. No matter how reasonable the measures are in themselves, nor how seasonable, nor how much God may bless them. It is enough that they are called new measures, and they will not have anything to do with new measures, nor tolerate them among the people. And thus they fall out by the way, and grieve away the Spirit of God, and put a stop to the revival, when the world around them is going to hell.

20:83-84 FINALLY.--This zealous adherence to particular forms and modes of doing things, which has led the church to resist innovations in measures, savors strongly of fanaticism. And what is not a little singular, is that fanatics of this stamp are always the first to cry out "fanaticism." What is that but fanaticism in the Roman Catholic Church, that causes them to adhere with such pertinacity to their particular modes, and forms, and ceremonies, and fooleries? They act as if all these things were established by divine authority; as if there were a "Thus saith the Lord" for every one of them. Now we justly style this a spirit of fanaticism, and esteem it worthy of rebuke. But it is just as absolutely fanatical, for the Presbyterian Church, or any other church, to be sticklish for her particular forms, and to act as if they were established by divine authority. The fact is, that God has established, in no church, any particular form, or manner of worship, for promoting the interests of religion. The scriptures are entirely silent on these subjects, under the gospel dispensation, and the church is left to exercise her own discretion in relation to all such matters. And I hope it will not be thought unkind, when I say again, that to me it appears, that the unkind, angry zeal for a certain mode and manner of doing things, and the overbearing, exterminating cry against new measures, SAVORS STRONGLY OF FANATICISM.

20:84-84 The only thing insisted upon under the gospel dispensation, in regard to measures, is that there should be decency and order. "Let all things be done decently and in order." We are required to guard against all confusion and disorderly conduct. But what is decency and order? Will it be pretended that an anxious meeting, or a protracted meeting, or an anxious seat, is inconsistent with decency and order? I should most sincerely deprecate, and most firmly resist whatever was indecent and disorderly in the worship of God's house. But I do not suppose that by "order" we are to understand any particular set mode, in which any church may have been accustomed to perform their service.

 

 

 

Back to contents

21:1-94 LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION by The Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY LECTURE XV HINDRANCES TO REVIVALS

21:2-94 TEXT. --I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you."-- NEHEMIAH vi. 3.

21:3-94 THIS servant of God had come down from Babylon to rebuild the temple and re-establish the worship of God at Jerusalem, the city of his fathers' sepulchres. When it was discovered by Sanballat and certain individuals, his allies, who had long enjoyed the desolations of Zion, that now the temple, and the holy city were about to be rebuilt, they raised a great opposition. Sanballat and the other leaders tried in several ways to divert Nehemiah and his friends, and prevent them from going forward in their work; at one time they threatened them, and then complained that they were going to rebel against the king. Again, they insisted that their design was not pious but political, to which Nehemiah replied by a simple and prompt denial, "There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart." Finally, Sanballat sent a message to Nehemiah, requesting him to meet in the plain of Ono, to discuss the whole matter amicably and have the difficulty adjusted, but designed to do him mischief. They had found that they could not frighten Nehemiah, and now they wanted to come round him by artifice and fraud, and draw him off from the vigorous prosecution of his work. But he replied, "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I come down to you?"

21:4-94 It has always been the case, whenever any of the servants of God do anything in his cause, and there appears to be a probability that they will succeed, that Satan by his agents regularly attempts to divert their minds and nullify their labors. So it has been during the last ten years, in which there have been such remarkable revivals through the length and breadth of the land. These revivals have been very great and powerful, and extensive. It has been estimated that not less than TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND persons have been converted to God in that time.

21:5-94 And the devil has been busy in his devices to divert and distract the people of God, and turn off their energies from pushing forward the great work of salvation. In remarking on the subject, I propose to show.

21:6-94 I. That a Revival of Religion is a great work.

21:7-94 II. To mention several things which may put a stop to it.

21:8-94 III. Endeavor to show what must be done for the continuance of this great revival.

21:9-94 I. I am to show that a Revival of Religion is a great work.

21:10-94 It is a great work, because in it are great interests involved. In a Revival of Religion are involved both the glory of God, so far as it respects the government of this world, and the salvation of men. Two things that are of infinite importance are involved in it. The greatness of a work is to be estimated by the greatness of the consequences depending on it. And this is the measure of its importance.

21:11-94 II. I am to mention several things which may put a stop to a revival.

21:12-94 Some have talked very foolishly on this subject, as if nothing could injure a genuine revival. They say, "If your revival is a work of God, it cannot be stopped; can any created being stop God?" Now I ask if this is common sense? Formerly, it used to be the established belief that a revival could not be stopped, because it was the work of God. And so they supposed it would go on, whatever might be done to hinder it, in the church or out of it. But the farmer might just as well reason so, and think he could go and cut down his wheat and not hurt the crop, because it is God that makes grain grow. A revival is the work of God, and so is a crop of wheat; and God is as much dependent on the use of means in one case as the other. And therefore a revival is as liable to be injured as a wheat-field.

21:13-94 1. A revival will stop whenever the church believe it is going to cease. The church are the instruments with which God carries on this work, and they are to work in it voluntarily and with their hearts. Nothing is more fatal to a revival