The Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY'S
I. A RETURN TO OBEDIENCE TO MORAL LAW IS, AND MUST BE, UNDER EVERY DISPENSATION OF THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT, THE UNALTERABLE CONDITION OF SALVATION.
II. UNDER A GRACIOUS DISPENSATION, A RETURN TO OBEDIENCE TO MORAL LAW IS NOT DISPENSED WITH AS THE CONDITION OF SALVATION, BUT THAT OBEDIENCE TO LAW IS SECURED BY THE INDWELLING SPIRIT AND GRACE OF CHRIST.
I. A RETURN TO OBEDIENCE TO MORAL LAW IS, AND MUST BE, UNDER EVERY DISPENSATION OF THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT, THE UNALTERABLE CONDITION OF SALVATION.
1. Salvation upon any other condition is naturally impossible. Without holiness salvation is out of the question. But holiness and full obedience to the moral law are the same thing.
2. The gospel is not a repeal of the law, but designed to establish it.
3. As the moral law is the law of nature, it is absurd to suppose, that a return to entire obedience to it should not be the unalterable condition of salvation, that is, that salvation should be possible upon a less condition than a return, on the part of sinners, to the state of mind required by this law of nature.
4. The Bible everywhere represents the perfect love required by the law as indispensable to salvation. It is naturally indispensable.
Perhaps some one will say, that it is true, indeed, that one cannot enter heaven without first becoming entirely obedient to the divine law, but that this obedience may first take place immediately after death. I reply,--that the uniform representation of the Bible is, that men shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body, and that the state of mind in which they enter the eternal world, shall decide their destiny for ever. It is nowhere so much as hinted in the Bible, that men shall be saved in consequence or upon condition of a change that takes place after death. But the opposite of this is the unvarying teaching of the Bible. If men are not holy here, they never will be holy. If they are not sanctified by the Spirit and the belief of the truth in this life, there is no intimation in the Bible that they ever will be; but the contrary of this is the plain and unequivocal teaching of the Bible. The work of regeneration and sanctification is always represented as being instrumentally effected by the instrumentality and agency of those means that Christ has provided in this world. "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." Eph. iv. 7-13. This passage is only a specimen of scripture declarations and teachings upon this subject. It unequivocally teaches the entire sanctification of the whole mystical body, or church of Christ, in this life, or by the means which he has provided, and which means relate exclusively to this life.
II. UNDER A GRACIOUS DISPENSATION, A RETURN TO FULL OBEDIENCE TO MORAL LAW IS NOT DISPENSED WITH AS A CONDITION OF SALVATION, BUT THIS OBEDIENCE IS SECURED BY THE INDWELLING SPIRIT OF CHRIST RECEIVED BY FAITH TO REIGN IN THE HEART.
In discussing this proposition I shall endeavour to show,--
1. That salvation by grace does not dispense with a return to full obedience to law as a condition of salvation, and--
2. That the grace of the gospel is designed to restore sinners to full obedience to the law.
3. That the efficient influence that secures this conformity to law is the Spirit of Christ, or the Holy Spirit received into, and reigning in, the heart, by faith.
1. Salvation by grace does not dispense with a return to full obedience as a condition of salvation.
There is a class of scripture texts which have been quoted by antinomians in support of the doctrine, that salvation is not conditionated upon personal holiness, or upon a return to full obedience. It has been found very convenient, by many who were lovers of sin, and never conscious of personal holiness, to adopt the idea of an imputed holiness, contenting themselves with an outward righteousness imputed to them, instead of submitting by faith to have the righteousness of God wrought in them. Unwilling to be personally pious, they betake themselves to an imputed piety. Because the scriptures declare, that men are not saved by works of the law, they infer, that a return to that state of love required by the law, is not even a condition of salvation. The texts above referred to, are such as these. "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."--Gal. ii. 16. This, and sundry other passages that hold the same language, are grossly misunderstood and misapplied by antinomians. They merely declare, that men are not justified and saved by their own works, which of course they cannot be, if they have committed even one sin. But they do not intimate, and there is no passage rightly understood that does intimate, that men are saved or justified upon conditions short of personal holiness, or a return to full obedience to the moral law.
Again: James wrote his epistle to establish this point. Grace cannot save by dispensing with personal holiness, or a return to full obedience to the law. Grace must not only pardon, but secure personal holiness, or the soul is not fitted, either for the employments or enjoyments of heaven. It is naturally impossible for grace to save the soul, but upon condition of entire sanctification.
2. The grace of the gospel was designed to restore to full obedience to the moral law.
This is abundantly evident from almost every part of the Bible. "And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live."--Deuteronomy xxx. 7. "And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God; for they shall return unto me with their whole heart."--Jeremiah xxiv. 7. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."--Jeremiah xxxi. 31-34. "And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you: and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a[n] heart of flesh."--Ezek. xi. 19. "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness and from all your idols, I will cleanse you."--Ezek. xxxvi. 25. "For, finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."--Hebrews viii. 8-12. "And he shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS; for he shall save his people from their sins."--Matt. i. 21. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly: and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."--1 Thess. v. 23, 24. "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace."--Rom. vi. 14. These, and many other passages of like import, plainly teach the truth of the proposition we are considering, namely, that grace was designed to secure personal holiness, and full return to the love required by the law, and not to dispense with this holiness or obedience, as a condition of salvation.
3. The efficient influence that secures this return to full obedience to the law, is the Holy Spirit received to reign in the heart by faith.
That God writes his law in the heart by his indwelling Spirit, is abundantly taught in the Bible. Writing his law in the heart, is begetting the spirit of love required by the law in the heart.
By his reigning in the heart, is intended his setting up, and continuing his dominion in the heart, by writing his law there, or, as is said just above, by begetting the love, required by the law, in the heart.
Also by reigning in the heart, is intended, that he leads, guides, and controls the soul, by enlightening and drawing it into conformity with his will in all things. Thus it is said, "It is God that worketh in you to will and to do of his good pleasure."
By the assertion, that the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of Christ, is received by faith, to reign in the heart, it is intended, that he is actually trusted in, or submitted to by faith, and his influence suffered to control us. He does not guide and control us, by irresistible power or force, but faith confides the guidance of our souls to him. Faith receives and confides in him, and consents to be governed and directed by him. As his influence is moral, and not physical, it is plain that he can influence us no farther than we have confidence in him; that is, no farther than we trust or confide in him. But I must cite some passages that sustain these positions. "That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles, through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."--Gal. iii. 14. "Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest."--Isaiah xxxii. 15. "For 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."--Isaiah xliv. 3. "But this shall be the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people."--Jer. xxxi. 33. "And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me."--Jer. xxxii. 40. "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplication; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born."--Zechariah xii. 10. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 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. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 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."--Rom. viii. 1, 5, 9, 11, 13-16. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"--1 Cor. iii. 16. "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"--1 Cor. vi. 19. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."--Gal. v. 22, 25. "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye, being rooted and grounded in love."--Eph. iii. 17. "For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God."--Eph. ii. 8. "And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith."--Phil. iii. 9.
These passages abundantly support the position for the establishment of which they are quoted. It is only necessary to remark here,--
1. That the Holy Spirit controls, directs, and sanctifies the soul, not by a physical influence, nor by impulses nor by impressions made on the sensibility, but by enlightening and convincing the intellect, and thus quickening the conscience.
2. The fundamentally important doctrine of an indwelling Christ, that the Spirit of Christ must be received by faith to reign in the heart, has been extensively overlooked. "Christ our sanctification!" said a minister to me a few months since, "I never heard of such a thing." Also said a Doctor of Divinity to me, "I never heard Christ spoken of as our sanctification until the Perfectionists affirmed it." Indeed, it is amazing to see how this blessed truth has been overlooked. Christ, by his Spirit, must actually dwell within and reign over us, and this is an unalterable condition of salvation. He is our king. He must be received by faith, to set up and establish his kingdom in the heart, or salvation is impossible.
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