THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 967 928 Lecture XX Design or Intention Constitutes Character ...

9. It is easy to see the great danger of delusion, because the ultimate intention of the mind is so often and so easily overlooked. Here, for example, are two students, just commencing a course of study. Now how many subordinate ends must they pursue, and how remote, so to speak, is the ultimate end at which they aim. They both labor hard, exercise economy, study hard, and may preach zealously, and be equally useful; and yet their moral characters all along be entirely opposite; their thoughts being taken up so much with the different subordinate ends of pursuit, that they may easily overlook and keep out of view, the ultimate end or main spring of all their actions. But herein lies the moral character of all their conduct. And if they are ignorant or mistaken in respect to this, they may, at any period of their lives, drop into eternity with a false hope, but in a state of such deep delirium as to cry out, "Lord, Lord, open unto us. Have we not prophesied in thy name, and in they name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto you, I never knew you."




Lecture II. Danger of Delusion



THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 116 115 Lecture II. Danger of Delusion ...

Danger of Delusion
Lecture II
August 17, 1842



THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1855 paragraph 401 339 Lecture IX. On Injustice To Character ...

No department of self-examination is more difficult than this. Hence, it needs to be pressed faithfully, with much self-distrust, and thoroughly, through all the circle of our formed and expressed opinions as to others. On no point is there more danger of delusion, and on none is this delusion more likely to prove fatal. Professed Christians are but too apt to forget that this is radically a dishonest state of mind, and hence, must be inevitably damning.



THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 1058 971 Lectures XVII. - XIX. Revival- No.'s 1 - 3 ...

What otherwise could be desired? It is the very thing that is needed. It is the very manner in which God has always wrought. Why, then, is excitement objected to as connected with revivals of religion? The objection is manifestly absurd. Could you be made, in short, to believe that that was a true revival of religion where there should be no excitement manifested by the church or the world? No; you could not believe that it was. In every age of the world when the Spirit of God has been poured out, men have been convicted of sin and the truth of God has been made plain by the Holy Ghost. It has aroused the community; it has moved individual minds; and even the masses have been moved as the trees of the forest are moved in a tempest. And what is the objection to all this? There is no valid objection to it.

2. Danger of delusion.

Many persons have the impression that converts are much likely to be deceived, or to obtain a false hope, in a revival of religion, than when they are more calm, and when there are no external circumstances of excitement, and no revival. But why should this be so?

(1.) In the first place, if a revival is judiciously managed; if the preaching be thorough, and searching, and practical; if it be to the point; if it strip away the sinner's refuges; if it shut him up to Christ, and real revival preaching always does -- why should there be more danger of delusion under such circumstances, though many are attending to it at the same time? The reason that has been assigned for this danger is this: they say that many are affected by sympathy. They see others affected, and they become affected by sympathy. Now, what is intended by this? Is it supposed that the Holy Ghost never works through the principle of sympathy in human beings? Is this assumed? If it is, the assumption is as false as possible. Why set human beings to persuade human beings? Why set friends to labor with friends? The fact is, that through what we call sympathy, the Holy Ghost works largely, and always did. The very tears the minister sheds when preaching to the ungodly -- these tears preach, as well as the words. The look of anguish, the look of affection, the earnestness of manner and voice -- why these all preach; these all communicate truth; these all serve to impress the mind, and give to the audience a higher appreciation of the truths of the Gospel. Just so the tears that accompany the pleadings of young converts; their earnest appeals; the concern which they manifest for souls; the love which they manifest for Christ; all this, to be sure, is calculated to excite sympathy, but also to beget attention, to make the truth appear to be truth, and everything of this kind.

All the earnestness of the community, all the earnestness of converts, all the earnestness of convicted sinners -- all the whole movement in a revival, is preaching. It is the loudest, most effectual appeal to the conscience and the heart of all around. It serves to make truth real and to wake up an interest in the masses; and it seems as if it were next to impossible that persons should be deceived. So many instrumentalities are used, and there is so much on every side to make truth real, that if ever we might expect persons truly to embrace the truth, truly to understand the truth, truly to be subdued by it, these are the very circumstances under which we should expect such results.

(2.) But, an examination has been made on a large scale for the very purpose of testing this question, and deciding it.

A pamphlet was given to me a few years ago, containing statistics that had been gathered upon this subject by great painstaking. There had been in one of our large cities, and throughout a large district of country surrounding it, a very general revival of religion. It had been conducted mostly by a man who had been accused of being loose in his instructions, and of using a good deal of art in arresting attention and making an impression. When I heard of the manner in which those revivals were conducted, my own fears were excited. I must confess that I strongly doubted the result of such a method of conducting revivals; and indeed I do not now believe that this was a proper method of conducting revivals of religion.



THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 1064 971 Lectures XVII. - XIX. Revival- No.'s 1 - 3 ...

But still, as I have said, the proportion of those that fell away was very much less than the fallings in the same number of those that had been received when there was no revival. So that delusions under revivals conducted in that manner were not so common by any means as delusions that occur when there is no revival at all.

(4.) But again, why should this not be so? When everything surrounds men that is calculated to impress them with the truth, as is the case in a revival of religion, why should they not be more likely to understand and embrace it aright, than when everything around them has a different tendency, as is the case when there is no revival of religion and the church is in a comparatively worldly state.

But, as I said, very much will depend on the course of instruction pursued, and upon the whole manner in which the thing is conducted from beginning to end. If the conduct of the work, so far as human instrumentality is concerned, be scriptural; if the preaching of the gospel be plain, and pungent, and adapted to secure sound conversion; if there is much prayer and labor on the part of God's people; if the convicted are not properly encouraged to entertain hope; if too much stress is not laid upon emotion, but the Will is thoroughly carried by the truth -- there is indeed very little danger of delusion under such circumstances, as I can testify from an experience of many years of this kind of work.



SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 82 - Perseverance of Saints V paragraph 35 Perseverance proved

     We have seen, in another place, that the Bible represents perseverance, in the sense already explained, as an attribute of Christian character; and therefore no one can have evidence that he is a saint, any farther than he is conscious of abiding in obedience. If saints do abide in the light, and have the assurance that they are saints, we have seen the sense in which they may be influenced by hope and fear, and the sense in which moral law with its sanctions may be useful to them. But when a saint shall backslide, he must lose the evidence of his being a saint, and then all the warnings and threatenings may take full effect upon him. He finds himself not persevering, and has of course to infer that he is not a saint; and the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints can be no comfort to him. It is in fact against him; for this doctrine is, that the saints do persevere; and every day he lives in backsliding, it becomes less evident that he is a saint. The Bible is manifestly written, for the most part, upon the assumption, that individual saints do not certainly know their election, and the certainty of their own salvation. It therefore addresses them, as if there were real uncertainty in respect to their salvation; that is, as if, as individuals, they were not certain of salvation. It represents the salvation of real saints as certain, but represents many professed saints as having fallen, and warns them against presumption and self-deception, in the matter of their profession, privileges, and experience. It represents the danger of delusion as great, and exhorts them to examine and prove themselves, and see whether they are truly saints. The warnings found in the Bible, are for the most part, evidently of this kind; that is, they assume that individuals may deceive themsleves, and presumptuously assume their own election, and saintship, and safety, from their privileges, relations, and experiences. Inspiration, therefore, proceeds to warn them, assuming that they do not know the certainty of their own individual salvation. We shall by and by have occasion to examine some passages that will illustrate and confirm this remark.