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TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE VII - Religion of Public Opinion paragraph 30

     They seem to have a conscience in those things that are popular, and no conscience at all on those things that are not required by public sentiment. You may preach to them ever so plainly, their duty, and prove it ever so clearly, and even make them confess that it is their duty, and yet so long as public sentiment does not require it, and it is not a matter of reputation, they will continue on in the same way as before. Show them a "Thus saith the Lord," and make them see that their course is palpably inconsistent with Christian perfection, and contrary to the interests of the kingdom of Christ, and yet they will not alter. They make it manifest that it is not the requirement of God they regard, but the requirement of public opinion. They love the praise of men more than the praise of God.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VII - Legal Experience paragraph 81

     The subject for the next lecture, is CHRISTIAN PERFECTION.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VIII - Christian Perfection I paragraph 0
CHRISTIAN PERFECTION

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VIII - Christian Perfection I paragraph 2

CHRISTIAN PERFECTION.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VIII - Christian Perfection I paragraph 5

     In discoursing on the subject of Christian Perfection, it is my design to pursue this order:

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VIII - Christian Perfection I paragraph 6

     I. I shall show what is not to be understood by the requirement, "Be ye therefore perfect;" or, what Christian Perfection is not.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VIII - Christian Perfection I paragraph 10

     V. Answer some of the objections which are commonly argued against the doctrine of Christian Perfection.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VIII - Christian Perfection I paragraph 11

     I. I am to show you what Christian Perfection is not.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VIII - Christian Perfection I paragraph 15

     3. Christian Perfection, as here required, is not freedom from temptation, either from our constitution or from things that are about us. The mind may be ever so sorely tried with the animal appetites, and yet not sin. The apostle James says, "Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." The sin is not in the temptations, but in yielding to them. A person may be tempted by Satan, as well as by the appetites, or by the world, and yet not have sin. All sin consists in voluntary consenting to the desires.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VIII - Christian Perfection I paragraph 16

     4. Neither does Christian perfection imply a freedom from what ought to be understood by the Christian warfare.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VIII - Christian Perfection I paragraph 18

     II. I am to show what Christian perfection is; or what is the duty actually required in the text.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VIII - Christian Perfection I paragraph 19

     It is perfect obedience to the law of God. The law of God requires perfect, disinterested, impartial benevolence, love to God and love to our neighbor. It requires that we should be actuated by the same feeling, and to act on the same principles that God acts upon; to leave self out of the question as uniformly as He does, to be as much separated from selfishness as He is; in a word, to be in our measure as perfect as God is. Christianity requires that we should do neither more nor less than the law of God prescribes. Nothing short of this is Christian perfection. This is being, morally, just as perfect as God. Everything is here included, to feel as He feels, to love what He loves, and hate what He hates, and for the same reasons that He loves and hates.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VIII - Christian Perfection I paragraph 20

     God regards every being in the universe according to its real value. He regards His own interests according to their real value in the scale of being, and no more. He exercises the same love towards Himself that He requires of us, and for the same reason. He loves himself supremely, both with the love of benevolence and the love of complacency, because He is supremely excellent. And He requires us to love Him just so, to love Him as perfectly as He loves Himself. He loves Himself with the love of benevolence, or regards His own interest, and glory, and happiness, as the supreme good, because it is the supreme good. And He requires us to love Him in the same way. He loves Himself with infinite complacency, because He knows that He is infinitely worthy and excellent, and He requires the same of us. He also loves His neighbor as Himself, not in the same degree that He loves Himself, but in the same proportion, according to their real value. From the highest angel to the smallest worm, He regards their happiness with perfect love, according to their worth. It is His duty to conform to these principles, as much as it is our duty. He can no more depart from this rule than we can, without committing sin; and for Him to do it would be as much worse than for us to do it, as He is greater than we. God is infinitely obligated to do this. His very nature, not depending on His own volition, but uncreated, binds Him to this. And He has created us moral beings in His own image, capable of conforming to the same rule with Himself. This rule requires us to have the same character with Him, to love as impartially, with as perfect love---to seek the good of others with as single an eye as He does. This, and nothing less than this, is Christian Perfection.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VIII - Christian Perfection I paragraph 21

     III. I am to show that Christian Perfection is a duty.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VIII - Christian Perfection I paragraph 24

     2. I argue that Christian Perfection is a duty, because God has no right to require anything less.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VIII - Christian Perfection I paragraph 28

     IV. I will now show that Christian Perfection is attainable, or practicable, in this life.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VIII - Christian Perfection I paragraph 29

     1. It may be fairly inferred that Christian Perfection is attainable, from the fact that it is commanded.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VIII - Christian Perfection I paragraph 39

     Here let me observe, that so much has been said within a few years about Christian Perfection, and individuals who have entertained the doctrine of Perfection have run into so many wild notions, that it seems as if the devil had anticipated the movements of the church, and created such a state of feeling, that the moment the doctrine of the Bible respecting the sanctification is crowded on the church, one and another cries out, "Why, this is Perfectionism." But I will say, notwithstanding the errors into which some of those called Perfectionists have fallen, there is such a thing held forth in the Bible as Christian Perfection, and that the Bible doctrine on the subject is what nobody need to fear, but what everybody needs to know. I disclaim, entirely, the charge of maintaining the peculiarities, whatever they be, of modern Perfectionists. I have read their publications, and have had much knowledge of them as individuals, and I cannot assent to many of their views. But the doctrine that Christian Perfection is a duty, is one which I have always maintained, and I have been more convinced of it within a few months, that it is attainable in this life. Many doubt this, but I am persuaded it is true, on various grounds.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VIII - Christian Perfection I paragraph 82

     I have recently read Mr. Wesley's "Plain Account of Christian Perfection," a book I never saw until lately. I find some expressions in it to which I should object, but I believe it is rather the expression than the sentiments. And I think, with this abatement, it is an admirable book, and I wish every member of this church would read it. An edition is in the press, in this city. I would also recommend the memoir of James Brainerd Taylor, and I wish every Christian would get it, and study it. I have read the most of it three times within a few months. From many things in that book, it is plain that he believed in the doctrine that Christian perfection is a duty, and that it is attainable by believers in this life. There is nothing published which shows that he professed to have attained it, but it is manifest that he believed it to be attainable. But I have been told that much which is found in his diary on this subject, as well as some things in his letters, were suppressed by his biographer, as not fitted for the eye of the church in her present state. I believe if the whole could come to light, that it would be seen that he was a firm believer in this doctrine. These books should be read and pondered by the church.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VIII - Christian Perfection I paragraph 84

     People have the strangest notions on this subject. Sometimes you will hear them argue against Christian Perfection on this ground, that a man who was perfectly holy could not live, could not exist in this world. I believe I have talked just so myself, in time past. I know I have talked like a fool on the subject. Why, a saint who was perfect would be more alive than ever, to the good of his fellow men. Could not Jesus Christ live on earth? He was perfectly holy. It is thought that if a person was perfectly sanctified, and loved God perfectly, he would be in such a state of excitement, that he could not remain in the body, could neither eat nor sleep, nor attend to the ordinary duties of life. But there is no evidence of this. The Lord Jesus Christ was a man, subject to all the temptations of other men, He also loved the Lord his God with all His heart and soul and strength. And yet it does not appear that He was in such a state of excitement that He could not both eat and sleep, and work at His trade as a carpenter, and maintain perfect health of body and perfect composure of mind. And why needs a saint that is perfectly sanctified, to be carried away with uncontrollable excitement, or killed with intense emotion, any more than Jesus Christ? There is no need of it, and Christian Perfection implies no such thing.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE IX - Christian Perfection II paragraph 0
CHRISTIAN PERFECTION

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE IX - Christian Perfection II paragraph 2

CHRISTIAN PERFECTION.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE IX - Christian Perfection II paragraph 6

     2. What Christian perfection is.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE XI - Necessity of Divine Teaching paragraph 83

     I have recently recommended several books to you to read, such as Wesley's Thoughts on Christian Perfection, the Memoirs of Brainerd Taylor, Payson, Mrs. Rogers, and others. I have found that, in a certain state of mind, such books are useful to read. But I never pretend to make but ONE BOOK my study. I read them occasionally, but have little time or inclination to read other books much while I have so much to learn of my Bible. I find it like a deep mine, the more I work it, the richer it grows. We must read that more than any or all other books. We must pause and pray over it, verse after verse, and compare part with part, dwell on it, digest it, and get it into our minds, till we feel that the Spirit of God has filled us with the spirit of holiness.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE XIV - Christ the Husband of the Church paragraph 53

     Now the church does this. Notwithstanding Christ has done all that He could do, short of absolute force, to keep His church from sinning, yet the church charges her sin upon Him, as if He had laid her under an absolute necessity of sinning, by not making any adequate provision for preserving His people against temptation. And they are horrified now at the very name of Christian Perfection, as if it was really dishonoring Christ to believe that He is able to keep His people from committing sin and falling into the snare of the devil. And so it has been, for hundreds of years, that with the greater part of the church it has not been orthodox to teach that Jesus Christ really has made such provision that His people may live free from sin. And it is really considered a wonder, that anybody should teach that the bride of the Lord Jesus Christ is expected to do as she pretends to do. Has He married a bride, and made no provision adequate to protect her against the arts and seductions of the devil? Well done! That must be the ridicule of hell.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE XIV - Christ the Husband of the Church paragraph 67

     I believe the great difficulty of the church on the subject of Christian perfection lies here, that she has not fully understood how the Lord Jesus Christ is wholly pledged in all these relations, and that the church has just as much reason and is just as much bound to trust in Him for sanctification as for justification. What saith the scripture? "Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption." How came the idea to be taken up in the church, that Jesus Christ is our Redemption, and has made Himself responsible for the meanest individual who throws himself on Him for justification shall infallibly obtain it? This has been universally admitted in the church, in all ages. But it is no more plainly or more abundantly taught, than it is, that Jesus Christ is promised and pledged for Wisdom and for Sanctification to all that receive Him in these relations. Has He promised that if any man lack wisdom, he may ask of God, and if he asks in faith, God will give it to him? What then?---Is there then no such thing as being preserved by Christ from falling into this and that delusion and error? God has made this broad promise, and Christ is as much pledged for our wisdom and our sanctification, if we only trust in Him, as He is for our justification. If the church would only renounce any expectation from herself, and die as absolutely to her own wisdom and strength, as she does to her own righteousness, or the expectation of being saved by her own works, Jesus Christ is as much pledged for one as for the other. The only reason why the church does not realize the same results, is that Christ is trusted for justification, and as for wisdom and sanctification He is not trusted.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 765 677 Lecture XI. & XII The Promises- No.'s 1 - 5 ...

14. The Old Covenant made nothing perfect. Heb. 7:19: "For the LAW MADE NOTHING PERFECT, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God." Heb. 9:9: "Which WAS a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices that COULD NOT make him that did the service PERFECT, as pertaining to the conscience." Heb. 10:11: "And every priest standeth daily ministering, and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which CAN NEVER TAKE AWAY SINS." It is abundantly taught in this epistle that Abraham, and the other Old Testament saints did not receive the promises; i.e. they did [not] receive the fulfillment of the promises. The promises were made to them, or rather through them, to the Christian Church. But it is expressly said that they did not receive the fulfillment of the promises. Of the long list of saints mentioned in chapter 11 of this epistle, it is said, verse 13, "These all died in faith, NOT HAVING RECEIVED THE PROMISES." And in verses 39, 40, it is said: "And these all having obtained a good report through faith RECEIVED NOT THE PROMISE: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect."

The New Covenant is perfection itself. Lest this should be doubted, it may be well to inquire what we understand by Christian Perfection. Has God any where required perfection in the Bible? If so, where? Does his law require perfection? If not, what part of the Bible does? And if his law does not require perfection, why does it not? Is it not manifestly an imperfect law? And how can it be said that the "law is HOLY, JUST and GOOD"?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 40 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

Here let me remark, that a definition of terms in all discussions is of prime importance. Especially is this true of this subject. I have observed that almost without an exception those who have written on this subject dissenting from the views entertained here, do so upon the ground that they understand and define the terms, Sanctification and Christian Perfection, differently from what we do. Every one gives his own definition, varying materially from each other and from what we understand by the terms. And then they go on professedly opposing the doctrine as inculcated here. Now this is not only utterly unfair, but palpably absurd. If I oppose a doctrine inculcated by another man I am bound to oppose what he really holds. If I misrepresent his sentiments "I fight as one that beateth the air." I have been amazed at the diversity of definitions that have been given to the terms Christian Perfection, Sanctification, &c.; and to witness the diversity of opinion as to what is, and what is not, implied in these terms. One objects wholly to the use of the term Christian Perfection, because in his estimation it implies this and that and the other thing, which I do not suppose are at all implied in it. Another objects to our using the term Sanctification, because that implies, according to his understanding of it, certain things that render its use improper. Now it is no part of my design to dispute about the use of words. I must however use some terms; and I ought to be allowed to use Bible language, in its Scriptural sense as I understand it. And if I should sufficiently explain my meaning and define the sense in which I use the terms, this ought to suffice. And I beg that nothing more nor less may be understood by the language I use than I profess to mean by it. Others may, if they please, use the same terms and give a different definition of them. But I have a right to hope and expect if they feel called upon to oppose what I say, that they will bear in mind my definition of the terms, and not pretend, as some have done, to oppose my views while they have only differed from me in their definition of the terms used, giving their own definition varying materially and I might say infinitely from the sense in which I use the same terms, and then arraying their arguments to prove that according to their definition of it, Sanctification is not really attainable in this life when no one here or any where else, that I ever heard of pretended that in their sense of the term, it ever was or ever will be attainable in this life, and I might add, or in that which is to come.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 94 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

The most violent opposition that I have ever seen manifested to any persons in my life, has been manifested by members of the Church, and even by some ministers of the gospel, towards those whom I believe were among the most holy persons I ever knew. I have been shocked, and wounded beyond expression, at the almost fiendish opposition to such persons, that I have witnessed. I have several times of late observed that writers in newspapers were calling for examples of Christian Perfection or entire sanctification. Now I would humbly inquire, of what use it is to point the Church to examples, so long as they do not know what is, and what is not implied in a state of entire sanctification? I would ask, are the Church agreed among themselves in regard to what constitutes this state? Are any considerable number of ministers agreed among themselves as to what is implied in a state of entire sanctification? Now does not everybody know that the Church and the ministry are in a great measure in the dark upon this subject? Why then call for examples? No man can possess this state without being sure to be set at nought as a hypocrite, and a self-deceiver.

30. It is not implied in this state that the sanctified soul will himself always at the time be sure that his feelings and conduct are perfectly right. Cases may occur in which he may be in doubt in regard to the rule of duty; and be at a loss, without examination, reflection, and prayer, to know whether in a particular case he has done and felt exactly right. If he were sure that he understood the exact application of the law of God to that particular case, his consciousness would invariably inform him whether or not he was conformed to that rule. But in any and every case where he has not a clear apprehension of the rule, it may require time and thought, and prayer, and diligent inquiry to satisfy his mind in regard to the exact moral quality of any particular act or state of feeling; e.g. A man may feel himself exercised with strong indignation in view of sin. And he may be brought into doubt whether the indignation, in kind or degree, was not sinful. It may therefore require self-examination and deep searching of heart to decide this question. That all indignation is not sinful is certain. And that a certain kind and degree of indignation at sin is a duty, is also certain. But our most holy exercises may lay us open to the assaults of Satan. And he may so turn our accuser as for a time to render it difficult for us to decide in regard to the real state of our hearts. And thus a sanctified soul may be "in heaviness through manifold temptations."

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 101 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

In all the discussions I have seen upon this subject, while it seems to be admitted that the law of God is the standard of perfection, yet in defining what constitutes Christian perfection or entire sanctification, men entirely lose sight of this standard, and seldom or never raise the distinct inquiry; what does obedience to this law imply, and what does it not imply. Instead of bringing every thing to this test, they seem to lose sight of it. On the one hand they bring in things that never were required by the law of God of man in his present state. Thus they lay a stumbling block and a snare for the saints, to keep them in perpetual bondage, supposing that this is the way to keep them humble, to place the standard entirely above their reach. Or, on the other hand, they really abrogate the law, so as to make it no longer binding. Or they so fritter away what is really implied in it, as to leave nothing in its requirements, but a kind of sickly, whimsical, inefficient sentimentalism, or perfectionism, which in its manifestations and results, appears to me to be any thing else than that which the law of God requires.
 
 

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 222 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

(2.) If this language does not describe a state of entire sanctification, I know of none that would. If "to be perfect and complete in all the will of God," be not Christian perfection, what is?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 236 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

Suppose when this covenant was proposed to a convert about to unite with the church, he should take it to his closet, and spread it before the Lord, and inquire whether it was right for him to make such a covenant--and whether the grace of the gospel can enable him to fulfill it. Do you suppose the Lord Jesus would reply, that if he made that covenant, he certainly would, and must as a matter of course live in the habitual violation of it, as long as he live, and that His grace was not sufficient to enable him to keep it? Would he in such a case have any right to take upon himself this covenant? No, no more than he would have a right to lie.

20. It has long been maintained by orthodox divines, that a person is not a Christian who does not aim at living without sin--that unless he aim at perfection, he manifestly consents to live in sin; and is therefore certainly impenitent. It has been, and I think truly, said, that if a man does not in the fixed purpose of his heart, aim at total abstinence from sin, and at being wholly conformed to the will of God, he is not yet regenerated, and does not so much as mean to cease from abusing God.

Now if this is so, and I believe it certainly is, I would ask how a person can aim at and intend to do what he knows to be impossible. Is it not a contradiction to say that a man can intend to do what he knows he cannot do? To this it has been objected, that if true, it proves too much--that it would prove that no man ever was a Christian who did not believe in this doctrine. To this I reply:

(1.) A man may believe in the attainability of and aim at attaining what is really a state of entire sanctification, although he may not call it by that name. This I believe to be the real fact with Christians: and they would much more frequently attain what they aim at, did they know how to appropriate the grace of Christ to their own circumstances. Mrs. President Edwards, for example, firmly believed that she could attain to a state of entire consecration. She aimed at and manifestly attained it, and yet such were her views of physical depravity, that she did not call her state one of entire sanctification. It has been common for Christians to suppose that a state of entire consecration was attainable; but while they believed in physical depravity, they would not of course call even entire consecration, entire sanctification. Mrs. Edwards believed in, aimed at, and attained, entire consecration. She aimed at what she believed was attainable, and nothing more. She called it by the same name with her husband, who was opposed to the doctrine of Christian perfection, as held by the Wesleyan Methodists; manifestly on the ground of his notions of physical depravity. I care not what this state is called, if the thing be fully explained and insisted upon, together with the means of attaining it. Call it what you please, Christian perfection, heavenly mindedness, or a state of entire consecration; by all these I understand the same thing. And it is certain, that by whatever name it is called, the thing must be aimed at to be attained. The practicability of its attainment must be admitted, or it cannot be aimed at.

And now I would humbly inquire whether it is not true, that to preach any thing short of this is not to give countenance to sin?

21. Another argument in favor of this doctrine is that the gospel, as a matter of fact, has often, not only temporarily but permanently and perfectly overcome every form of sin, in different individuals. Who has not seen the most beastly lusts, drunkenness, lasciviousness, and every kind of abomination, long indulged and fully ripe, entirely and for ever slain by the power of the grace of God? Now how was this done? Only by bringing this sin fully into the light of the gospel, and showing the individual the relation that sin sustained to the death of Christ.

Now nothing is wanting to slay any and every sin, but for the mind to be fully baptized into the death of Christ, and to see the bearings of one's own sins upon the sufferings and agonies and death of the blessed Jesus. Let me state a fact to illustrate my meaning. A habitual and most inveterate smoker of tobacco, of my acquaintance, after having been plied with almost every argument to induce him to break the power of the habit, and relinquish its use, in vain, on a certain occasion, lighted his pipe and was about to put it to his mouth, when the inquiry was started, did Christ die to purchase this vile indulgence for me? He hesitated, but the inquiry pressed him, Did Christ die to purchase this vile indulgence for me? The relation of this conduct to the death of Christ, instantly broke the power of the habit, and from that day he has been free.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 317 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

(3.) That the Apostle did not design to deny the doctrine of Christian perfection or entire sanctification, as maintained in these lectures, seems evident from the fact that he immediately subjoins, "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man and able also to bridle the whole body."
 

4. Another objection is founded upon 1 John 1:8: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." Upon this I remark:
 

(1.) This verse is immediately preceded by the assertion that "the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin." Now it would be very remarkable, if immediately after this assertion, the Apostle should mean to say that it does not cleanse us from all sin, and if we say it does we deceive ourselves. But if this objection be true, it involves the Apostle in as palpable a contradiction as could be expressed.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 351 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

(2.) Let any Christian do his whole duty to the Church and the world in their present state--let him speak to them and of them as they really are, and he would of course incur the charge of censoriousness. It is therefore the most unreasonable thing in the world to suppose that the Church, in its present state, should not accuse any perfect Christian of censoriousness. Entire sanctification implies the doing of all our duty. But to do all our duty, we must rebuke sin in high places and in low places. Can this be done with all needed severity, without in many cases giving offence, and incurring the charge of censoriousness? No; it is impossible; and to maintain the contrary, would be to impeach the wisdom and holiness of Jesus Christ Himself.
 

12. It is objected that this doctrine lowers the standard of holiness to a level with our own experience. It is not denied that in some instances this may have been true. Nor can it be denied, that the standard of Christian perfection has been elevated much above the demands of the law, in its application to human beings in our present state of existence. It seems to have been forgotten, that the inquiry is, what does the law demand?--not of angels, and what would be entire sanctification in them; nor of Adam, previously to the fall, when his powers of body and mind were all in a state of perfect health; not what will the law demand of us in a future state of existence; not what the law may demand of the Church in some future period of its history on earth, when the human constitution, by the universal prevalence of correct and thorough temperance principles, may have acquired its pristine health and powers;--but the question is, what does the law of God require of Christians of the present generation; of Christians in all respects in our circumstances, with all the ignorance and debility of body and mind which have resulted from the intemperance and abuse of the human constitution through so many generations?

The law levels its claims to us as we are, and a just exposition of it, as I have already said, under all the present circumstances of our being, is indispensable to a right apprehension of what constitutes entire sanctification.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 434 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

Now I would by no means contend about the use of words; but still, it does appear to me, to be of great importance, that we use scripture language and insist upon men being "perfect as their Father in Heaven is perfect," and being "sanctified wholly body, soul, and spirit." This appears to me to be of the most importance for this reason, that if we use the language to which the Church has been accustomed upon this subject, she will as she has done, misunderstand us, and will not get before her mind that which we really mean. That this is so is manifest from the fact that the great mass of the Church will express alarm at the use of the terms perfection and entire sanctification, who will neither express or feel any such alarm if we speak of entire consecration. This demonstrates, that they do not, by any means, understand these terms as meaning the same thing. And although I understand them as meaning precisely the same thing, yet I find myself obliged to use the terms perfection and entire sanctification, to possess their minds of my real meaning. This is Bible language. It is unobjectionable language. And inasmuch as the Church understand entire consecration to mean something less than entire sanctification or Christian perfection, it does seem to me of great importance, that ministers should use a phraseology which will call the attention of the Church to the real doctrine of the Bible upon this subject. And I would submit the question with great humility to my beloved brethren in the ministry, whether they are not aware, that Christians have entirely too low an idea of what is implied in entire consecration, and whether it is not useful and best to adopt a phraseology in addressing them that shall call their attention to the real meaning of the words which they use?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 234 146 Lecture XXVIII. Self Denial ...

My dear brethren in the ministry, who among you dare to quote and enforce with the expectation that it will take effect, the following language of Paul: "Ye are the temples of the living God, as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people." "Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you and be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." Now, my brethren will you suffer me to ask, whether you follow the example of Paul, whether in view of the exceeding great and precious promises, you do exhort, encourage, and command Christians to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God? Observe the Apostle expected them to do this in this world; for it was "from all filthiness of the flesh," as well as "spirit" that they were to cleanse themselves. Now my beloved brethren, do you and do your churches know that you explain to them what this and similar passages mean? Do you make the impression that you expect them to do this, as you do upon sinners that you expect them to repent? How dare you, with this and multitudes of similar passages before you, stumble and talk as some of you do about the doctrine of Christian perfection? Why, some of you seem to be horrified at the very idea of expecting Christians to perfect holiness in the fear of God. The very term Christian Perfection seems to be an abomination to you, and a thing neither to be understood nor seriously insisted upon as a truth and a command of God. O, my brethren, I ask you how you dare to do this? How can you find it in your heart to do it? Will you consider these texts and tell your churches what they mean?-- Will you expound, enforce, and crowd them home, and expect your churches to receive and obey these truths? Why, how can it be possible that so many of the professed ministers of Christ are stumbling at, opposing, and even ridiculing the doctrine of Christian Perfection? My soul trembles for you. It would seem as if your attention was so taken up with the fancied dangers of enforcing the doctrine and duty of Christian Perfection, that you count it an arrant heresy, for any man to teach or expect Christians to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, and this in the face of the church.--My brethren, is this the work of the gospel ministry?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 235 146 Lecture XXVIII. Self Denial ...

About a year ago there was a powerful revival in a church not far distant from this. In the fulness of my heart I wrote to my brethren who were engaged in promoting it, beseeching them to insist upon total abstinence from sin and to press the converts up to a state of entire and continued consecration to God. I insisted upon this as the only course they could take to secure the revival against a reaction. I felt at the time agonized with the thought that there should be a reaction in that place, and could have washed the feet of the brethren with my tears, if it could have availed to persuade them so to press the converts up to a habitual state of entire consecration, as to have prevented their backsliding. But all in vain. Within a few weeks or months, the pastor began to preach himself and suffer others to preach against the doctrine of Christian Perfection in his pulpit. The result was just what might have been anticipated with as much certainty as any other event whatever. And now, although scarce a year has elapsed since the revival was all in its glory, I have heard with unutterable pain that the pastor has confessed in public, that out of the many converts that joined his church, only a comparatively small number of them are ever seen in his meetings. And yet this same dear brother seems to be still alarmed only at the tendency of preaching the doctrine of entire sanctification or consecration to God in this life. Strange to tell, he sees not, feels not, acknowledges not, the awful tendency of preaching as he has preached, and maintaining that it is a dangerous error to expect to live in a state of entire sanctification to the will of God in this life. O tell it not in Gath; let not the sound reach Askelon, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph. Toward this brother, toward all of my ministerial brethren, I have none but feelings of the utmost tenderness. But yet I am grieved and pained, my soul is sick with the course that many of them are taking. Afraid to do as Paul did, press the church right up to cleansing themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and perfecting holiness in the fear of God, they merely satisfy themselves with saying it is a duty, it is naturally possible, but still not to be expected. Is this like Paul? Is this like Christ? Paul would say, come on, "having these promises, dearly beloved, let us, (for we can do it and must do it,) cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." And Christ could say, "Be ye therefore perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect." And yet, O dreadful to say, multitudes of ministers are opposing and even ridiculing the doctrine of Christian Perfection or entire consecration to God in this life, holding it up as a dangerous heresy, and even denying ministerial and Christian fellowship to those that believe it. Oh what a state of things is this!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 334 292 Lecture XXX. Entire Consecration a Condition of Discipleship ...

President Edwards, then, with all his fears of the doctrine of Christian Perfection, when describing true religion, asserts and maintains the very sentiment for which we contend, only changing the phraseology, but manifestly meaning the same thing.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 16 - Moral Government--Continued (Part III) paragraph 75 What constitutes obedience to moral law . . Just rules of legal interpretation . . That actual knowledge is indispensable to moral obligation shown from scripture . . In the light of the above rules, inquire what is not implied in entire obedience to the law of God

     The most violent opposition that I have ever seen manifested to any person, has been manifested by members of the church, and even by some ministers of the gospel, towards those who, I believe, were among the most holy persons I ever knew. I have been shocked, and wounded beyond expression, at the almost fiendish opposition to such persons which I have witnessed. I have several times of late observed, that writers in newspapers were calling for examples of Christian perfection or entire sanctification, or, which is the same thing, of entire obedience to the law of God. Now I would humbly inquire, of what use is it to point the church to examples, so long as they do not know what is, and what is not, implied in entire obedience to moral law? I would ask, are the church agreed among themselves in regard to what constitutes this state? Are any considerable number of ministers agreed among themselves, as to what is implied in a state of entire obedience to the law of God? The church and the ministry are in a great measure in the dark on this subject. Why then call for examples? No man can profess to render this obedience, without being sure to be set at nought as a hypocrite or a self-deceiver.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 57 - Sanctification. paragraph 53 An account of the recent discussions that have been had on this subject

     In the winter of 1836-7, I preached a course of lectures to Christians, in the church of which I was then pastor, in the city of New York, which were reported by the editor of the New York Evangelist, and published in his paper. Soon after they were published in that form, they were published in a volume, and went into extensive circulation, both in Europe and America. Among these lectures were two on the subject of Christian perfection, or entire sanctification, from Matt. v. 48--"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 57 - Sanctification. paragraph 60 An account of the recent discussions that have been had on this subject

     In the year 1840, President Mahan published a small work on the subject of Christian perfection. Several pieces had previously been published by him and myself in the "Oberlin Evangelist," upon the same subject. Prof. Cowles, about the same time, published a series of articles in the "Oberlin Evangelist," upon the subject of the holiness of Christians in this life, which were, soon after their first appearance, collected and published in a small volume. Nearly at the same time I published a course of lectures in the same paper, which were soon also put into a volume by themselves. All three of us gave a definition of Christian perfection, or entire sanctification, amounting in substance to the same thing, making it to consist in entire consecration to God, and entire obedience to the law, and supported the attainability of this state in this life, by substantially the same course of argument. We agreed in stating the attainability of this state, as the thing which we proposed to prove, and to the proof of which we shaped our whole course of argument. The attainability of this state we attempted to establish by many arguments, among which are the following:--

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 57 - Sanctification. paragraph 68 An account of the recent discussions that have been had on this subject

     Immediately upon the publication of the above-named works, the public journals opened a battery upon us, strangely, and I must say, unaccountably confounding our views with those of the antinomian perfectionists. What analogy was discernible between our views, as set forth in our writings, and those of the antinomian perfectionists, as expressed in their own formula of doctrine, as above given, I am utterly at a loss to understand. But it was insisted, that we were of that school and denomination, notwithstanding the greatest pains-taking on our part to make the public acquainted with our views. Many honest ministers and laymen, in this country and in Europe, were doubtless misled by the course pursued by the public press. Some of the leading religious journals refused to publish our articles, and kept their readers in ignorance of our real views. They gave to the public, oftentimes, the grossest misrepresentations of our views, and refused to allow our replies a place in their columns. The result for sometime was a good deal of misapprehension and alarm, on the part of many Christians who had been among our warmest friends. Soon after the publication of President Mahan's work, above alluded to, it was reviewed by Dr. Leonard Woods, of Andover Theological Seminary. Dr. Woods committed in his review four capital errors, which laid his review open to a blow of annihilation, which was in due time levelled against it by President Mahan. The president had defined what he intended by Christian perfection, or entire sanctification, and had also stated what he did not understand it as implying. He defined it to consist in a state of entire conformity of heart and life to the law of God, or in consecration of the whole being to God. He very expressly took issue upon the question of the attainability of this state in this life, and was at special pains to guard against the true point at issue being mistaken, and protested against any one's making a false issue. Dr. Woods noticed this, and his first error consisted in assuming, that the real point at issue between him and President Mahan was just what he, Dr. Woods, chose to make it. Hence, secondly, Dr. Woods proceeded to take issue with the author he was reviewing, not upon the possibility of attaining the state in question in this life, which was the proposition stated and defended by his author, but upon the fact of this state having been attained in this life. This was the doctor's second error. His third error consisted in the fact, that having made a false issue, he replied to the arguments of his opponent, as if they had been designed to establish, not the attainability, but the actual attainment of this state in this life.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 57 - Sanctification. paragraph 70 An account of the recent discussions that have been had on this subject

     But the doctor fell into a fourth error as fatal to his object as either of the preceding. He did not at all define his views of what constitutes Christian perfection or entire sanctification, nor did he notice his opponent's definition. We are therefore left to the necessity of inferring what he understands by entire sanctification or Christian perfection from his course of argument.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 57 - Sanctification. paragraph 71 An account of the recent discussions that have been had on this subject

     From this we learn, that he founded his argument against the fact of attainment, which was the point that he aimed to overthrow, upon a grossly false assumption, in respect to the nature of Christian perfection. The following are specimens of his course of reasoning: He denied that any Christian had ever attained to a state of entire sanctification in this life, because the Bible requires Christians in all their earthly course to grow in grace. Now it will be seen at once, that this argument is good for nothing, unless it be assumed, as a major premise, that Christian perfection or entire sanctification implies the impossibility of further progress in holiness. The argument in syllogistic form would stand thus:--

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 57 - Sanctification. paragraph 72 An account of the recent discussions that have been had on this subject

     "Christian perfection or entire sanctification implies the impossibility of further progress in holiness. The Bible requires all Christians in all time to progress in holiness, which implies the possibility of their doing so. Therefore, no Christian is in this life entirely sanctified.'

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 57 - Sanctification. paragraph 74 An account of the recent discussions that have been had on this subject

     But President Mahan had expressly excluded from his definition of Christian perfection the idea of its implying a state in which no higher attainments in holiness were possible. He had insisted that the saints may not only always in this life grow in holiness, but that they must for ever grow in grace or holiness as they grow in knowledge. How strange, then, that Dr. Woods should not only make a false issue, but also proceed to sustain his position, by assuming as true what his author had expressly denied! There was not even the shadow of disagreement between him and his opponent, assuming as he did, that Christian perfection implied the impossibility of further progress in holiness. President Mahan as much abhorred the idea of the actual or possible attainment of such a state in this or any other life, as the doctor did himself. The doctor had no right to represent him as holding to Christian perfection, in any such sense as that he was controverting. In the face of President Mahan's disavowal of such a sentiment, the doctor shaped his argument to overthrow a position which the president never maintained. Having created his own issue, and supported it by his own assumption, he was pronounced by multitudes to have gained a complete victory.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 57 - Sanctification. paragraph 75 An account of the recent discussions that have been had on this subject

     Again: Dr. Woods denied that Christian perfection ever was or ever will be attained in this life, because the Bible represents Christians in all time as engaged in the Christian warfare. Here again we get at the doctor's view of Christian perfection; to wit, that it implies the cessation of the Christian warfare. But what is the Christian warfare?

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 57 - Sanctification. paragraph 76 An account of the recent discussions that have been had on this subject

     The doctor plainly assumes, that it consists in warring with present sin. Yet he holds all sin to be voluntary. His assumption then that the Christian warfare consists in a warfare with present sin, represents the will as opposing its present choice. Choice warring with choice. But the Christian warfare implies no such thing. It is a warfare or contest with temptation. No other warfare is possible in the nature of the case. Christ was a subject of it. He was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin. While our circumstances remain what they will always be in this world, we shall be subject to temptation, of course, from the world, the flesh, and Satan. But Christian perfection is not at all incompatible with the existence of this strife with temptation. This argument of the doctor was based wholly, like the preceding, upon the begging or assumption of a totally false major premise. He made an issue between himself and President Mahan, when there was none. The president no more held than he did, that such a state ever was or will be attained in this life, as implies the cessation of the Christian warfare, properly so called. Thus Dr. Woods set out without giving his readers any definition of Christian perfection, and stumbled and blundered through his whole argument, totally misrepresenting the argument of the author whom he reviewed, and sustaining several of his own positions by sheer assumptions.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 57 - Sanctification. paragraph 84 An account of the recent discussions that have been had on this subject

     These prefatory thoughts find an ample illustration in the present state of opinion, in some sections of the church, relative to the doctrine of 'Christian Perfection.' That all the sentiments of this system are false, it would be difficult to show; and as difficult to show their entire truth. The system is a subtle combination of truth and error. Any partial prevalence that it may have had, is easily explained on this principle. Where the truth is made most prominent, the whole assumes an imposing aspect; but an inversion of this error will as signally mark its defects. The work, therefore, of exposing the one, without injury to the other, becomes a duty with every devout and honest inquirer. This is what your committee purpose to undertake; and for this purpose it will be sufficient to answer the two following questions:--

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 57 - Sanctification. paragraph 89 An account of the recent discussions that have been had on this subject

     That there is some issue, admits of no doubt. What is it? It is not, whether by the requirement of the moral law, or the injunction of the gospel, men are commanded to be perfectly holy; not whether men are under obligations to be thus holy; not whether, as moral agents, such a state is to them a possible state; not whether the gospel system is competent to secure actual perfection in holiness, if its entire resources be applied; not whether it is the duty and privilege of the church, to rise much higher in holy living, than it has ever yet done in our world. To join issue on any or all of these points, is to make a false issue; it is to have the appearance of a question without its reality. Some or all of these points form a part of the scheme of 'Christian Perfection,' but certainly they do not invest it with any peculiar character; for they involve no new sentiment differing from the ground taken by the great body of orthodox Christians in every age. It cannot be supposed that their advocacy has led to the various and fearful solicitudes of learned and pious men in regard to the truth and tendency of this system. It must therefore be fraught with some other element. What is that element? The assertion, that Christian men do attain in some cases during the present life, to a state of perfect holiness, excluding sin in every form, and that for an indefinite period they remain in this state. This position requires a moment's analysis, that it may neither suffer nor gain by an ambiguous use of terms.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 57 - Sanctification. paragraph 92 An account of the recent discussions that have been had on this subject

     Such is the real question at issue--such is the import of 'Christian perfection,' so far as it has any peculiarity. This is the question to be decided; to argue any other, is to lose sight of the real one--it is to meet an opponent where there is no debate, but entire agreement.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 57 - Sanctification. paragraph 94 An account of the recent discussions that have been had on this subject

     It is obvious that the burden of proof lies with him who affirms the truth of this sentiment. He must moreover direct his proof to the very thing affirmed, and not to something else. It is easy to carry a question by stating one proposition and proving another. If the proposition in debate be established, the discussion is at an end, the doctrine of Christian perfection must be acknowledged.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 57 - Sanctification. paragraph 106 An account of the recent discussions that have been had on this subject

     (2.) Having tried the merits of the positive testimony on this subject, we remark in the second place, that in the present state of the question, the position is absolutely incapable of proof. When a man affirms his own sinless perfection for any given period, as a day, a week, or a year, he affirms his own infallible knowledge on two points; that is, that at the present moment he can recall every moral exercise during that period, every thought, feeling, desire, purpose, and that he does infallibly judge of the moral character of each exercise. Will any pretend to this knowledge? To do so, manifests the last degree of presumption, as well as ignorance, both of facts and the truths of mental science. Every effort to recall the whole of our mental exercises for a single day, must always be a failure; it can only be partially successful. This shows how little weight is due to the testimony of a man who asserts his own perfection; he may be honest, but this is no proof of the truth of his statement. If a case of 'perfection' were admitted to be real, still it is impossible, in the present state of our faculties, to find and predicate certain knowledge of it. The evidences of 'Christian perfection,' are then not only inconclusive, but its main proposition is absolutely unknowable to us.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 57 - Sanctification. paragraph 109 An account of the recent discussions that have been had on this subject

     1. Resolved, That in the judgment of this Presbytery, the doctrine of 'Christian perfection' in this life, is not only false, but calculated in its tendencies, to engender self-righteousness, disorder, deception, censoriousness and fanaticism.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 57 - Sanctification. paragraph 122 An account of the recent discussions that have been had on this subject

     Permit me to make a few remarks upon your report on the subject of Christian perfection. I have read with attention most that has come to hand upon the subject of your report, and have thought it of little use to reply, until some opponent of our views should throw his objections into a more tangible form than any one had hitherto done. Your report embraces, in a condensed form, almost all that has been said in opposition to our views. For this reason, as well as for the reason that I have a high respect and fervent love for those of your number with whom I am acquainted, I beg leave to be heard in reply.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 57 - Sanctification. paragraph 124 An account of the recent discussions that have been had on this subject

     'That there is some issue, admits of no doubt. What is it? It is not, whether by the requirements of the moral law, or the injunctions of the gospel, men are commanded to be perfectly holy; not whether men are under obligations to be thus holy; not whether as moral agents, such a state is to them a possible state; not whether the gospel system is competent to secure actual perfection in holiness, if its entire resources be applied; not whether it is the duty and privilege of the church to rise much higher in holy living, than it has ever yet done in this world. To join issue on any, or all of these points, is to make a false issue; it is to have the appearance of a question without its reality. Some, or all of these points, form a part of the scheme of 'Christian perfection;' but certainly they do not invest it with any peculiar character, for they involve no new sentiment differing from the ground taken by the great body of orthodox Christians in every age. It cannot be supposed 'that their advocacy has led to the various and fearful solicitudes of learned and pious men, in regard to the truth and tendency of this system. It must, therefore, be fraught with some other element. What is that element? The assertion that Christian men do attain in some cases, during the present life, to a state of perfect holiness, excluding sin in every form, and that for an indefinite period may remain in this state.'

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 58 - Sanctification (Part 2) paragraph 17 Remind you of some points that have been settled in this course of study . . Definition of the principal terms to be used in this discussion

     Here let me remark, that a definition of terms in all discussions is of prime importance. Especially is this true of this subject. I have observed that, almost without an exception, those who have written on this subject dissenting from the views entertained here, do so upon the ground that they understand and define the terms sanctification and Christian perfection differently from what we do. Every one gives his own definition, varying materially from others, and from what we understand by the terms; and then he goes on professedly opposing the doctrine as inculcated here. Now this is not only utterly unfair, but palpably absurd. If I oppose a doctrine inculcated by another man, I am bound to oppose what he really holds. If I misrepresent his sentiments, "I fight as one that beateth the air." I have been amazed at the diversity of definitions that have been given to the terms Christian perfection, sanctification, &c.; and to witness the diversity of opinion as to what is, and what is not, implied in these terms. One objects wholly to the use of the term Christian perfection, because, in his estimation, it implies this, and that, and the other thing, which I do not suppose are at all implied in it. Another objects to our using the term sanctification, because that implies, according to his understanding of it, certain things that render its use improper. Now it is no part of my design to dispute about the use of words. I must however use some terms; and I ought to be allowed to use Bible language in its scriptural sense, as I understand it. And if I should sufficiently explain my meaning, and define the sense in which I use the terms, and the sense in which the Bible manifestly uses them, this ought to suffice. And I beg, that nothing more or less may be understood by the language I use, than I profess to mean by it. Others may, if they please, use the same terms, and give a different definition of them. But I have a right to hope and expect, if they feel called upon to oppose what I say, that they will bear in mind my definition of the terms, and not pretend, as some have done, to oppose my views, while they have only differed from me in their definition of the terms used, giving their own definition varying materially and, I might say, infinitely from the sense in which I use the same terms, and then arraying their arguments to prove, that according to their definition of it, sanctification is not really attainable in this life, when no one here or anywhere else, that I ever heard of, pretended that, in their sense of the term, it ever was or ever will be, attainable in this life, and I might add, or in that which is to come.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 60 - Sanctification (Part 4) paragraph 68 Bible argument

     (2.) If this language does not describe a state of entire, in the sense of permanent, sanctification, I know of none that would. If "to be perfect and complete in all the will of God," be not Christian perfection, what is?

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 60 - Sanctification (Part 4) paragraph 95 Bible argument

     A man may believe in what is really a state of entire sanctification, and aim at attaining it, although he may not call it by that name. This I believe to be the real fact with Christians; and they would much more frequently attain what they aim at, did they know how to appropriate the grace of Christ to their own circumstances. Mrs. President Edwards, for example, firmly believed that she could attain a state of entire consecration. She aimed at, and manifestly attained it, and yet, such were her views of constitutional depravity, that she did not call her state one of entire sanctification. It has been common for Christians to suppose, that a state of entire consecration is attainable; but while they believe in the sinfulness of their natures, they would not of course call even entire consecration, entire sanctification. Mrs. Edwards believed in, aimed at, and attained, entire consecration. She aimed at what she believed to be attainable, and she could aim at nothing more. She called it by the same name with her husband, who was opposed to the doctrine of Christian perfection, as held by the Wesleyan Methodists, manifestly on the ground of his notions of physical depravity. I care not what this state is called, if the thing be fully explained and insisted upon, together with the conditions of attaining it. Call it what you please, Christian perfection, heavenly mindedness, the full assurance of faith or hope, or a state of entire consecration; by all these I understand the same thing. And it is certain, that by whatever name it is called, the thing must be aimed at to be attained. The practicability of its attainment must be admitted, or it cannot be aimed at.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 71 - Sanctification (Part 15) paragraph 38 Objections--continued Part III

     (3.) That the apostle did not design to deny the doctrine of Christian perfection or entire sanctification, as maintained in these lectures, seems evident from the fact, that he immediately subjoins, "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body."

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 73 - Sanctification (Part 17) paragraph 15 Remarks

     Now, I would by no means contend about the use of words; but still it does appear to me to be of great importance, that we use scripture language, and insist upon men being "perfect as their Father in Heaven is perfect," and being "sanctified wholly, body, soul and spirit." This appears to me to be the more important for this reason, that if we use the language to which the church has been accustomed upon this subject, she will, as she has done, misunderstand us, and will not get before her mind that which we really mean. That this is so, is manifest from the fact, that the great mass of the church will express alarm at the use of the terms perfection and entire sanctification, who will neither express nor feel any such alarm, if we speak of entire consecration. This demonstrates, that they do not by any means understand these terms as meaning the same thing. And although I understand them as meaning precisely the same thing, yet I find myself obliged to use the terms perfection and entire sanctification to possess their minds of their real meaning. This is Bible language. It is unobjectionable language. And inasmuch as the church understands entire consecration to mean something less than entire sanctification or Christian perfection, it does seem to me of great importance, that ministers should use a phraseology which will call the attention of the church to the real doctrine of the Bible upon this subject. With great humility, I would submit the question to my beloved brethren in the ministry, whether they are not aware, that Christians have entirely too low an idea of what is implied in entire consecration, and whether it is not useful and best to adopt a phraseology in addressing them, that shall call their attention to the real meaning of the words which they use?

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), APPENDIX Reply to Dr. Duffield paragraph 157

     1. I was not aware that this was the "main, popular, and plausible argument by which the advocates of Christian perfection endeavour to sustain their position."

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), APPENDIX Reply to Dr. Duffield paragraph 168

     "Here let me remark, that a definition of terms in all discussions is of prime importance. Especially is this true of this subject. I have observed that, almost without an exception, those who have written on this subject dissenting from the views entertained here, do so upon the ground that they understand and define the terms sanctification and Christian perfection differently from what we do. Every one gives his own definition, varying materially from others, and from what we understand by the terms; and then they go on professedly opposing the doctrine as inculcated here. Now this is not only utterly unfair, but palpably absurd. If I oppose a doctrine inculcated by another man, I am bound to oppose what he really holds. If I misrepresent his sentiments, 'I fight as one that beateth the air.' I have been amazed at the diversity of definitions that have been given to the terms Christian perfection, sanctification, &c.; and to witness the diversity of opinion as to what is, and what is not implied in these terms. One objects wholly to the use of the term Christian perfection, because, in his estimation, it implies this and that and the other thing, which I do not suppose are at all implied in it. Another objects to our using the term sanctification because that implies according to his understanding of it, certain things that render its use improper. Now it is no part of my design to dispute about the use of words. I must however use some terms; and I ought to be allowed to use Bible language in its scriptural sense, as I understand it. And if I should sufficiently explain my meaning, and define the sense in which I use the terms, and the sense in which the Bible manifestly uses them, this ought to suffice. And I beg that nothing more or less may be understood by the language I use than I profess to mean by it. Others may, if they please, use the terms and give a different definition of them. But I have a right to hope and expect, if they feel called upon to oppose what I say, that they will bear in mind my definition of the terms, and not pretend, as some have done, to oppose my views, while they have only differed from me in their definitions of the terms used, giving their own definition, varying materially, and I might say, infinitely from the sense in which I use the same terms, and then arraying their arguments to prove that according to their definition of it, sanctification is not really attainable in this life, when no one here or any where else, that I ever heard of, pretended that in their sense of the term, it ever was or ever will be attainable in this life, and I might add, or in that which is to come."

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), APPENDIX Reply to Dr. Duffield paragraph 171

     I will not remark upon the characteristic language of this last paragraph. I supposed I had a right to use such terms as I chose, to define my own position, if I was careful to define the sense in which I used them, especially to use Bible language. I took much pains to say what I did not, and what I did mean by the terms I used, and protested against any one's overlooking my own definitions, and substituting a totally different one of their own, and thus setting up the pretence of opposing my views, when they were only assailing a position which I did not occupy. But, after all, this is the identical course which the Doctor has taken. His definition of perfection or entire sanctification, does not even pretend to be that of Christian perfection, or of Christian sanctification. It is only a definition of what would constitute perfection, in a being who had never sinned. My definition designates perfection or entire sanctification in one who has been a sinner. The Doctor well knows that there is no issue between us upon the attainability of perfection in this life, in his sense of the term perfection. I no more believe in the possibility of attaining perfection in this life in his sense of the term, than he does.

 

 


CHARLES G. FINNEY TESTIMONIAL OF REVIVALS, CHAPTER XXIV. - EARLY LABORS IN OBERLIN. paragraph 16 The tent - Financial failure - Hostility of the surrounding region - Embassy to England - Providential supply - Lectures to Christians in New York - Relations to Western Reserve College - Theological prejudice - Popular idea of Oberlin - Spiritual progress at home.

This led me to preach in the Broadway Tabernacle, two sermons on Christian perfection. Those sermons are now included in the volume of lectures preached to Christians. In those sermons I defined what Christian perfection is, and endeavored to show that it is attainable in this life, and the sense in which it is attainable. But about this time, the question of Christian perfection, in the antinomian sense of the term, came to be agitated a good deal at New Haven, at Albany, and somewhat in New York City. I examined these views, as published in the periodical entitled "The Perfectionist." But I could not accept them. Yet I was satisfied that the doctrine of sanctification in this life, and entire sanctification, in the sense that it was the privilege of Christians to live without known sin, was a doctrine taught in the Bible, and that abundant means were provided for the securing of that attainment.