Most but not all of these definitions are taken verbatim out of Finney's writings--Ed.
ARBITRARY: a choice of the will in the worst sense; that is, in the sense of having no regard to reason, or to the nature and relations of moral agents.
ATONEMENT: the governmental substitution of the sufferings of Christ for the punishment of sinners. It is a covering of their sins by his sufferings.
CAUSE: the reason behind an effect or event.
CHOICE: the act of the will in selecting an object, the ground and reason of all physical acts.
CONDITION: a sine qua non, or that without which, something could not exist. Not a cause, yet a necessary element.
CONDITION OF OBLIGATION: A condition of obligation in any particular form is a sine qua non of obligation in that particular form. It is that, without which, obligation in that form could not exist, and yet is not the fundamental reason of the obligation, i.e. Moral agency and knowledge.
CONSCIENCE: the faculty or function of the intellect that recognizes the conformity or disconformity of the heart and life to the moral law as it lies revealed in the reason, and also awards praise to conformity, and blame to disconformity to that law. It also possesses a propelling or impulsive power, by which it urges the conformity, and denounces the nonconformity of will to moral law.
CONSCIOUSNESS is the faculty or function of self-knowledge. It is the faculty that recognizes our own existence, mental actions, and states, together with the attributes of liberty or necessity, belonging to those actions or states. "Consciousness is the mind in the act of knowing itself."
CONVERSION: see regeneration.
DEATH: as applied to the mind [heart] in the Scriptures is a state of entire sinfulness, of total depravity and alienation from God.
DESIRE: a phenomenon of the sensibility, the longing for or wanting what the mind perceives to be a good or desirable. The existence of constitutional desires are not sinful per se, their unlawful indulgence is.
DISINTERESTED BENEVOLENCE: Love, willing the good for its own sake; promoting good with no ulterior motive. Not uninterested, but without supreme self-interest.
DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY: The sovereignty of God consists in the independence of his will, in consulting his own intelligence and discretion, in the selection of his end, and the means of accomplishing it. In other words, the sovereignty of God is nothing else than infinite benevolence directed by infinite knowledge.
ELECTION: that all of Adam's race, who are or ever will be saved, were from eternity chosen by God to eternal salvation, through the sanctification of their hearts by faith in Christ. In other words, they are chosen to salvation by means of sanctification. Their salvation is the end--their sanctification is a means. Both the end and the means are elected, appointed, chosen; the means as really as the end, and for the sake of the end.
ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION: present, full obedience, or entire consecration to God.
EXECUTIVE CHOICE, VOLITIONS: efforts put forth to secure the end.
FAITH: It is an efficient state of mind, and therefore it must consist in the embracing of the truth by the heart or will. It is the will's closing in with the truths of the gospel. It is the soul's act of yielding itself up, or committing itself to the truths of the evangelical system. It is a trusting in Christ, a committing of the soul and the whole being to him, in his various offices and relations to men. It is a confiding in him, and in what is revealed of him, in his word and providence, and by his Spirit.
FIRST TRUTH: a truth universally and necessarily assumed by all moral agents, their speculations to the contrary, in any wise, not withstanding.
FORGIVENESS: Forgiveness implies previous condemnation, and consists in setting aside the execution of an incurred penalty.
FREE-WILL: the faculty or power of moral agents to choose, decide between objects of choice without force or of necessity.
GLORY: The original meaning of the term glory was, brightness, clearness, effulgence: from that it has come to signify honor, renown; and again, that which renders honorable, or demands honor, or renown, reverence, adoration, and worship--that which is worthy of confidence and trust. The glory of God is essential and declarative. By essential glory is meant that in Him which is glorious--that in his character which demands honor, worship, and adoration. His declarative glory is the showing forth, the revealing, the manifesting, the glory of his character--his essential glory--to his creatures: the laying open his glory to the apprehension of intelligences.
GOSPEL: the good news that the Mercy of God will withhold the deserved penalty for sin, and the Grace of God will treat the sinner as if he had never sinned, in consideration of the death and resurrection of Christ on condition of faith and repentance in the sinner.
GOSPEL JUSTIFICATION: it consists in a governmental decree of pardon or amnesty--in arresting and setting aside the execution of the incurred penalty of law--in pardoning and restoring to favor those who have sinned, and those whom the law had pronounced guilty, and upon whom it had passed the sentence of eternal death, and rewarding them as if they had been righteous. Not to be regarded as a forensic or judicial proceeding. An act of grace, not law.
GOVERNMENT: the direction, guidance, control by, or in accordance with, rule or law. All government is, and must be, either moral or physical.
GRACE: the attribute of love disposed to give a blessing to a person who deserves opposite treatment.
GROUND: the reason for something, the cause, the consideration.
GROUND OF OBLIGATION: the consideration which creates or imposes obligation, the fundamental reason of the obligation, the intrinsic value of the object.
HONOR: See GLORY
INTELLECT: the faculty which includes, among other functions, reason, conscience and self-consciousness.
LAW: A Rule of Action: it is applicable to every kind of action, whether of matter or of mind--whether intelligent or unintelligent--whether free or necessary action.
LAW OF LIBERTY: rule of action administered by motive and choice, moral law, not pre-determined.
LAW OF NECESSITY: a rule of action imposed by force, law of cause and effect, pre-determined.
LEGAL JUSTIFICATION: the pronouncement that the justified person is guiltless, or, in other words, that he has not violated the law, that he has done only what he had a legal right to do. An act of law, not grace. It cannot be possible that a sinner can be pronounced just in the eye of law; that he can be justified by deeds of law, or by the law at all.
LOVE: the commitment to promote the good of another for its own sake; disinterested benevolence.
MEANS: immediate objects or proximate ends of pursuit; actions taken to secure or promote the end chosen.
MORAL ACTION: strictly an act of the will only.
MORAL AGENCY consists in the possession of the powers, or faculties, and susceptibilities of a moral agent and is universally a condition of moral obligation. The attributes of moral agency are intellect, sensibility, and free-will.
MORAL DEPRAVITY: Moral depravity is the depravity of free-will, not of the faculty itself, but of its free action. It consists in a violation of moral law. Depravity of the will, as a faculty, is, or would be, physical, and not moral depravity. It would be depravity of substance, and not of free, responsible choice. Moral depravity is depravity of choice. It is a choice at variance with moral law, moral right. It is synonymous with sin or sinfulness. It is moral depravity, because it consists in a violation of moral law, and because it has moral character.
MORAL GOVERNMENT: the declaration and administration of moral law. It is the government of free will by motives as distinguished from the government of substance by force.
MORAL GOVERNMENT, GROUNDS OF: Moral government is indispensable to the highest well-being of the universe of moral agents. The universe is dependent upon this as a means of securing the highest good. This dependence is a good and sufficient reason for the existence of moral government.
MORAL GOVERNMENT, END OF: to promote the highest good, or blessedness of the universe.
MORAL LAW: that rule to which moral agents ought to conform all their voluntary actions, and is enforced by sanctions equal to the value of the precept.
MORAL PERFECTION: conformity to moral obligation.
OBEDIENCE: the consent of the will to serve the dictates of another, either the demands of the sensibilities for gratification, or the demands of the reason to conform to moral law.
OBLIGATION: idea of obligation, or of oughtness, is an idea of the pure reason. It is a simple, rational conception, and, strictly speaking, does not admit of a definition, since there are no terms more simple by which it may be defined.
PARDON: setting aside the penalty due for transgression of law, an exercise of mercy by the executive, not the judge. Synonym: forgiveness.
PENALTY: that misery or pain due as a sanction for transgressing the law.
PERFECTION: conformity to what is intended or required.
PERFECTIONISM: See Sinless Perfection.
PERMANENT SANCTIFICATION: consists in being established, confirmed, preserved, continued in a state of sanctification or of entire consecration to God.
PERSEVERANCE: that all who are at any time true saints of God, are preserved by his grace and Spirit through faith, in the sense that subsequently to regeneration, obedience is their rule, and disobedience only the exception; and that being thus kept, they will certainly be saved with an everlasting salvation.
PHYSICAL DEPRAVITY: is commonly and rightly called disease. It consists in a physical departure from the laws of health; a lapsed, or fallen state, in which healthy organic action is not sustained. When physical depravity is predicated of mind, it is intended that the powers of the mind, either in substance, or in consequence of their connection with, and dependence upon, the body, are in a diseased, lapsed, fallen, degenerate state, so that the healthy action of those powers is not sustained. Physical depravity, being depravity of substance as opposed to depravity of the actions of free-will, can have no moral character.
PHYSICAL GOVERNMENT: control, exercised by a law of necessity or force, as distinguished from the law of free will, or liberty.
PHYSICAL LAW: the order of sequence, in all the changes that occur under the law of necessity, whether in matter or mind. I mean all changes whether of state or action, that do not consist in the states or actions of free will.
PROXIMATE CHOICE: choice of means.
PUBLIC JUSTICE: consists in the promotion and protection of the public interests, by such legislation and such an administration of law, as is demanded by the highest good of the public.
REASON: the faculty that intuits moral relations and affirms moral obligation, to act in conformity with perceived moral relations. It is the faculty that postulates all the a priori truths of science whether mathematical, philosophical, theological, or logical.
REGENERATION: the same as the new birth. It is designed to express primarily and principally the thing done, that is, the making of a sinner holy, and expresses also the fact, that God's agency induces the change. Throw out the idea of what is done, that is, the change of moral character in the subject, and he would not be born again, he would not be regenerated, and it could not be truly said, in such a case, that God had regenerated him. Same as conversion.
REPENTANCE: a change of choice, purpose, intention, in conformity with the dictates of the intelligence. A turning from sin to holiness, or more strictly, from a state of consecration to self to a state of consecration to God, is and must be the turning, the change of mind, or the repentance that is required of all sinners.
REPROBATION: that certain individuals of mankind are, in the fixed purpose of God, cast away, rejected and finally lost.
RETRIBUTIVE JUSTICE: Retributive justice consists in treating every subject of government according to his character. It respects the intrinsic merit or demerit of each individual, and deals with him accordingly.
SANCTIFICATION: a state of consecration to God. To sanctify is to set apart to a holy use--to consecrate a thing to the service of God.
SELFISHNESS: the obedience of the will to the impulses of the sensibility. It is a spirit of self-gratification. The will seeks to gratify the desires and propensities, for the pleasure of the gratification. Self-gratification is sought as an end, and as the supreme end. It is preferred to the claims of God and the good of being.
SENSIBILITY: the faculty or susceptibility of feeling. All sensation, desire, emotion, passion, pain, pleasure, and in short, every kind and degree of feeling, as the term feeling is commonly used, is a phenomenon of this faculty.
SIN: a voluntary transgression of the moral law; a spirit of self-seeking, or a disposition to seek good to self, upon condition of its relations to self, and not impartially and disinterestedly.
SINLESS PERFECTION: [also called PERFECTIONISM] a theological view that holds that a believer can "arrive" at a state in which (1.) his walk in obedience and holiness is not dependant on the Grace of God, and that (2.) he no longer has the ability to sin. Finney rejected this view entirely.
SOVEREIGNTY: By God's sovereign grace, I do not mean that He acts arbitrarily, or without a good reason; but that He acts independent of all save Himself--that He obeys the dictates of his own infinite benevolence, and asks no being but Himself for leave to do what He sees best to be done. 'I will consult my own unsearchable wisdom, and that which to me seemeth best, I will do,' is his declaration to the universe.
TEMPTATION: the demand of the sensibilities for gratification, contrary to that end to which the heart is devoted.
TOTAL DEPRAVITY: moral depravity of the unregenerate is without any mixture of moral goodness or virtue, that while they remain unregenerate, they never in any instance, nor in any degree, exercise true love to God and to man.
ULTIMATE CHOICE: the choice of an object for its own sake, or for its intrinsic value.
UNBELIEF: the soul's withholding confidence from truth and the God of truth. The heart's rejection of evidence, and refusal to be influenced by it. The will in the attitude of opposition to truth perceived, or evidence presented.
WANT: To lack something, to be in need of something. Not as we use the term today to mean: To desire something. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."-(I shall not lack)
WILL: "by will I mean the heart," the faculty or power of moral agents to choose. See choice.
WISDOM: the choice of the best ends, and in the use of the most appropriate means to accomplish the end chosen.
WONDERFUL: amazing, filled with wonder, astonishment.
Copyright (c)1999, 2000. Gospel Truth Ministries
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