The Oberlin Evangelist
December 21, 1859
Mr. Finney in Scotland
[From the (Glasgow) Christian News.]
As a very general rule, we know we may count on the readers of the Christian News as those who are deeply and peculiarly interested in true revivals of religion. A very large proportion of our friends are not only in a state of mind to be waked up by such a season of general public interest as exists at present, but are so interested in this work as to be constantly convinced that nothing but such work will ever save our country, or the world, from sin and its miseries, and ruin. It is of the very highest importance that those who have been brought into such a state of mind, should understand their responsibilities, and fully know everything calculated to give them true power with God and men. Just now groups of congregations are making a sort of effort to band themselves together for united prayer: ecclesiastical bodies, representing many thousands of souls, are holding solemn conferences upon 'revivals'--the press even is compelled to take notice of the 'movement' which is affecting, more or less, the entire community; but if any man, who knows what a true revival means, looks carefully to the essential character of the whole thing, he will be shut up effectually to the conviction that an immense amount of what now prevails will ere long be a matter of history only, if it be even remembered at all. A little above twenty years from this date, a revival, not quite perhaps so general as the present, but both general and powerful, passed over the West of Scotland. Then, just as now, ministers and congregations waked up to both prayer and greatly increased effort, and in solemn assembly the revival was both considered and in a sort of way promoted. It would be utterly untrue to say that it all passed away; but no one can doubt that thousands who were thus waked up so far as to run about like men in a dream, went speedily into the soundest of slumbers again; nor can any one who has traced the results, fail to know that many ministers as well as laymen, who owed their own professed conversion to God to revival work, became totally oblivious to its existence, or hostile to its continuance. The movement continued in this sense that ever since then 'special services'--'conversation with inquirers'--special seasons of prayer--the continuous occurrence of known and undoubted conversions to God, have been characteristics of a few churches and laborers of various denominations. The true glory of the revival now going on is found in the great extension of those characteristics at the present time. Meetings for cold and formal prayer, and services in which not a soul is found to be undoubtedly converted, are mere outside symptoms of a powerful movement somewhere in the neighborhood of those who take part in such services, and they will all cease unless that movement is sustained and greatly increased in power. Even in those places where terror of an undefined character is chiefly influencing the excited mind, or in which the true elements of religion are not made paramount, those aroused will all pass into dead slumber, if a more true and divine work is not made to throw its hallowing power in upon the people who are temporarily influenced. Real revivalists may be sure of a time being at hand when all true revival work will again devolve upon them, to whatever denomination they may belong. It is this that makes us so desirous that our churches should make the most of all that tends to give them the true elements of permanent and constant success in the actual conversion of men.
It is this that throws around Mr. Finney's visit at the present crisis the greatest interest, and makes it momentous that we should not fail to improve it to the utmost. He has had one unbroken chain of real revival success for the last forty years, and the fact that conversion work has been a constant stream with him during the whole of that time unquestionably directs us to his labors, as those on which God himself has set his seal, and from which we may learn much that we deeply need to give us the true qualifications for that which we are called to in our country now. It is utter folly to look upon the work of such a man and because he does not in every word speak just as we have spoken, refuse to ask what has made him, for forty years continuously, successful in winning souls in hundreds. It is even astonishing to us that he differs from ourselves even in words so seldom; but undoubted wisdom demands of us to scan his system of operations, so as to learn the elements of success so uninterrupted. Some of those may be stated in few words. Mr. Finney, then, has no idea of salvation which is not essentially salvation from sin. He has a full and terrible conviction of the eternal punishment of the lost, and of pardon on the sole ground of the Savior's atonement, but no idea of pardon for a moment apart from a true and thorough leaving-off of all sin. The law of supreme love to God and equal love to man, is not only a law in his mind which every man may obey and ought to obey, but which every one must obey or perish. He has no idea that any soul can be saved for such obedience, and is fully clear that each one must be saved in order to such obedience, but he uncompromisingly adheres to the Bible truth that no soul can possibly be saved without obedience. The clear truth that sin must be abandoned, and the soul yielded thoroughly to God, or there can be no salvation in the case of that soul, is not only a doctrine which he holds, or a point which he defends, but a weapon of the Lord which he wields with resistless power. So far as we know, all our ministerial friends who agree with us in doctrine, would most cordially harmonize with him the view, but none to whom we have ever listened come up to him in the manner in which salvation from all sin is urged upon the conscience and heart of the sinner. Sin is the real hell from which Mr. Finney's preaching warns away the soul. Holiness rather than pardon is the salvation to which he urges men. Not that he is indifferent to pardon, or to any other blessing, blood-bought and God-given, but it is holiness--real and thorough holiness, that is the great salvation with him. But another thing which we need to note, in Mr. Finney's system of effort is the urging the acceptance of the living Savior in his spiritual presence in the soul, as securing the holiness of him who truly believes. In truly coming to know Jesus every Christian is aware of his taking possession of the whole mind so that he is felt to be the all in all in the heart of the Christian. After the manner somewhat in which a man is "possessed" by another spirit while yet his own will is free, Christ in us is the sanctification of the believer. A holy Jesus dwelling thus in man secures the will of Jesus being the real principle of that man's life. It is beyond measure important and instructive the manner in which this true revivalist urges home the entire surrender of the whole being to the incoming and indwelling Jesus. We may learn something of incalculable value from him here. Another thing is Mr. Finney's strong conviction that every man, woman, and child who is truly converted may tell to others what the Lord has done for their souls. Kindred to this is his conviction that every one may pray in the hearing or presence of others. He refuses to acknowledge the conversion of any one who is too proud publicly to own himself a Christian. It has, we confess, been to us most astonishing how he has demonstrated that the most timid and retiring of human beings will actually stand up before a congregation and declare by the act even of standing alone, their devotion to their Redeemer. He thus secures a race of converts entirely committed and brought out in the service of their Savior. If a young man, who , a week ago, would have shrunk from being questioned as to his attending a revival meeting, is made so to come out for Christ that he would stand up and own him before the world, and that young man thoroughly knows and has considered what he is doing, it will not be difficult to get him to do anything or to give up anything else for Jesus. There are not smoking or snuffing or tippling revivalists left in the wake of Mr. Finney's labors. It is clean work alone he acknowledges, and beyond all question he secures it. There may be some of our readers who smoke or use tobacco, or who cannot do without a little liquor, who think these things might be let alone, but surely they must be immensely needy of such indulgences, if they crave their being left as unseemly spots on the soul in which Jesus takes up his abode. At any rate no pipes, nor anything of the sort, out live the conversion of the soul under Mr. F.'s labors, nor is there any failure on the part of that soul in doing as the will of Jesus directs in all things whatever. Business and all other conduct of life is made to feel the effects of his preaching. Everything that darkens the gospel light in the practice of Christians is without mistake pointed out and must be abandoned. Living, practical devotion to Jesus--this secured, and this alone--will give us the foundation of a permanent revival in our country. Mere prayer meetings and extra preaching covering liquor-selling and known sin, in churches whose prayer meetings they are, will just as certainly cease as man is man and God is God. Another thing we must note is the trust in prayer which both Mr. and Mrs. Finney's labors especially secure on the part of those among whom they labor. Decided and most wonderful answers to supplication are common occurrences now among those who assemble with them in Edinburgh. We cannot doubt that such is the case to some extent throughout the churches sympathizing with us, but it may be so to an incalculably greater degree. And if we are to take a worthy part in the regeneration of our country, we must advance a great way in this direction. Space forbids us going on at present. Mr. Finney cannot be expected to go over many of our churches even if his stay in Scotland is greatly protracted; but it will be a great matter indeed that he gives his precious aid at our great centres, and a still greater matter that we learn the true elements of revival success as a standing experience throughout the length and breadth of our field of influence. Our God is ready to bless us but we too must be ready to accept and make the most of the blessings.
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