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TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VII - Legal Experience paragraph 0
LEGAL EXPERIENCE

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VII - Legal Experience paragraph 2

LEGAL EXPERIENCE.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VII - Legal Experience paragraph 15

     A right understanding of this passage must be fundamental. If this passage in fact describes a sinner under conviction, or a purely legal experience, and if a person supposing that it is a Christian experience finds his own experience to correspond with it, his mistake is a fatal one. It must be a fatal error, to rest in his experience as that of a real Christian, because it corresponds with the 7th of Romans, if Paul is in fact giving only the experience of a sinner under legal motives and considerations.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 621 577 Lecture IX. Dominion Over Sin ...

5. You see the state of those who are encouraged by the seventh chapter of Romans, supposing that to be a Christian's experience. If they have gone no farther than that, they are still under the law. I have been amazed to see how pertinaciously professors of religion will cling to a legal experience, and justify themselves in it, by a reference to this chapter. I am fully convinced, that the modern construction of the chapter--from the 14th to the 25th verses--interpreting it as a Christian experience, has done incalculable evil; and has led thousands of souls there to rest, and go no farther, imagining that they are already as deeply versed in Christian experience as Paul was, when he wrote that epistle. And there they have stayed, and hugged their delusion, till they have found themselves in the depths of hell.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 625 577 Lecture IX. Dominion Over Sin ...

(3.) In a legal experience, it will also generally be manifest, that some forms of sinful indulgence are practiced and defended, as not being sin. And where there has not been a powerful conviction, that has deterred the soul from indulgence, selfishness and lust are still tolerated.

A gospel, or gracious experience will manifest itself in a universal hatred of sin and lust, in every form. And, as I have said, sin will have no place, except in cases of such powerful temptation, as to carry the will for the time, by the force of excited feelings, when a reaction will immediately take place, and the soul be prostate in the depths of repentance.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 790 677 Lecture XI. & XII The Promises- No.'s 1 - 5 ...

11. We do not duly consider how intimately God's glory is connected with our receiving all that the promises mean. We are apt to be taken up with a sense of our unworthiness, and be discouraged by a consideration of it, and not duly to consider that this very unworthiness would render it exceedingly honorable to God to give us the fullness of his grace, and wholly to transform us into his own image. I love to contemplate the grace of God as manifested in Paul--once a Saul--a raging persecutor, breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the infant Church--afterwards so changed by the grace of God as to become the wonder of the world in his remarkable resemblance of the Son of God.

God's glory is his reputation or renown. And if to bestow great and transforming grace upon the children of men who are in the image of hell, is calculated to convey a high idea of the patience, forbearance, goodness and moral omnipotence of God, then certainly his glory is intimately connected with our receiving the full meaning and power of his promises.

12. We do not sufficiently consider the importance of our becoming living illustrations of the power and grace of God. There should be among Christians, a holy ambition, each one to become a living, standing illustration of the full meaning of the promises, and of the provisions of the gospel to transform the soul into the divine image and make it a partaker of the divine nature. Who that has read the life of Mrs. President Edwards, has not been encouraged and edified and strengthened to press after higher attainments in holiness when they have seen what grace can do and what it actually has done, even in modern times, to transform and elevate the soul. Now as we prize the glory of God--as we desire to do good to the Church, instead of being satisfied with small attainments, we should reach after the highest measure of grace, and try the full strength and intent of the promises, and ask God to give us for his own glory all that he meant to promise--that the unbelief of the Church may be rebuked, and that we might so illustrate in our own experience the fullness of gospel salvation, that the frittering away of the promises and paring them down to the legal experience of the Church in her present state may be done away forever.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 289 237 Lecture XXIX. The True Service of God ...

15. And now, dearly beloved, as I have spread out this subject before you, let me ask you where you are. What is your true character? What is your religion? Are you a real servant of God, or are you serving yourself? Are you a legalist, or are you a Christian? Are you converted, or are you not converted? Are you free, or are you a slave? Do you walk with God in the liberty of the gospel, or are you wearing the galling yoke of the law, and in bondage to sin? O, beloved, walk up to an honest answering of these questions.--Remember, that God has said, "sin shall not have dominion over you, because you are not under the law but under grace." Does your experience test the truth of this? Can you honestly say "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ, hath made me free from the law of sin and death," or are you still crying out in the legal experience portrayed in the 7th of Romans: "O, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"--My perishing and beloved souls, rest not a moment in such a state as this. This whole matter of a legal experience is full of death. It is the rottenness of a legal religion, which will lead you down to the gates of hell. O, remember that "there is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 144 115 Lecture II. Danger of Delusion ...

13. The fact that the 7th chapter of Romans has been so generally understood as descriptive of the Christian warfare, is evidence conclusive, that the true idea of true religion is rare. In that chapter the Apostle is speaking of a legal experience, as contrasted with a gospel experience, of which he proceeds to speak in the 8th chapter. And the fact that the Church have so generally stopped short, and claimed the 7th chapter, as descriptive of a Christian's experience, because it was their own experience, shows to what a limited extent the real idea of true religion has been developed.

I might adduce a great many other reasons, showing that the true idea of true religion is a rare idea: but I must pass to say,

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 477 413 Lecture VIII. What Attainments Christians May Reasonably Expect to Make in This Life ...

(3) From radically defective Christian experience, or rather, having had none but a legal experience.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 463 436 Lecture VIII. The Kingdom of God In Consciousness ...

3. How very different is this account of the religion of Jesus, from the experience narrated in the seventh chapter of Romans, which is plainly a legal experience, in which the kingdom of God is not set up, but is striving to get possession of the heart. The eighth chapter of Romans portrays an experience in which the kingdom of God is set up in the heart; in which "the righteousness of God is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit."

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1862 paragraph 22 9 Lectures I. & II.Great Peace- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

3. To love the law of God is more than delight in it. In Rom. 7, Paul, representing a legal experience, says -- "I delight in the law of God after the inner man." The state of mind here expressed doubtless includes approbation, admiration, and a very conscious delight or pleasure in the purity and moral beauty of God's law. Delight, by itself, is commonly intended to express a feeling of pleasure or satisfaction in a thing. It does not by any means always imply that this delight has the sympathy of the will -- the executive faculty of the soul. I think it is a common experience for persons to be pleased and very much affected in view of moral beauty, and of moral fitness and rightness in any thing. I know it was so with me before I was converted. I recollect that at one time, I wept with delight in view of an act of great moral beauty. I was conscious at the time, that I should not myself have done the thing that affected and delighted me so much. I seemed to be aware at the time, that such acts were not like me, and that my heart would not prompt me to them. Many persons seem to think that if they have a feeling of pleasure in hearing a sermon, or in reading of a good and noble act, or in the contemplation of a godly character, that this is evidence that they love goodness in the sense in which this text speaks of loving God's law. But this is a hasty conclusion. The prophet Isaiah represents the people of Israel as "seeking God daily," and delighting to know his ways as a nation that did righteousness; he even said "they take delight in approaching to God;" when in fact they were in a very apostate and rebellious state. The Lord said to Ezekiel -- "They come before thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a very pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument; for they hear thy words, but they do them not." Indeed I believe it is a common experience for the sensibility to sympathize, to a considerable extent, with the decisions of the conscience, and to take an intense feeling of pleasure in view of the purity of Christ's life, the excellence of his teachings, the spiritual beauty of the law of God, and the spiritual beauty of holy character in general. When the soul does not feel particularly pressed with a sense of personal obligation, it may and often does, feel a sense of satisfaction and delight in the contemplation of the law of God.

But let no one think that this feeling is true religion. It may and must exist where true religion is; but it may exist where true religion is not.

4. To love the law of God in the sense of the text, is to embrace it as the rule of our own lives. It is a cordial acceptance of it by the will, a cordial submission to its requirements, a cordial yielding of one's self to be governed by this universal and beautiful rule of duty. There is certainly in human experience a complacency of conscience, also a complacency of the sensibility, and a complacency of the will. We are all at times conscious of this distinction.

Complacency of the conscience is a purely intellectual state, and has no moral character. It is simply the intense approval, by the conscience, of that which is right.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 53 - The Notion of Inability. paragraph 15 Proper mode of accounting for it

     Nothing was more foreign from the apostle's purpose, it seems to me, than to affirm a proper inability of will to yield to the claims of God. Indeed, he affirms and assumes the freedom of his will. "To will," he says, "is present with me;" that is, to resolve. But resolution is an act of will. It is a purpose, a design. He purposed, designed to amend. To form resolutions was present with him, but how to do good he found not. The reason why he did not execute his purposes was, that they were selfishly made; that is, he resolved upon reformation without giving his heart to God, without submitting his will to God, without actually becoming benevolent. This caused his perpetual failure. This language, construed strictly to the letter, would lead to the conclusion, that the apostle was representing a case where the will is right, but where the established and natural connexion between volition and its sequents is destroyed, so that the outward act did not follow the action of the will. In this case all schools would agree that the act of the will constitutes real obedience. The whole passage, apart from the subject-matter of discourse, and from the manifest design and scope of the writer, might lead us to conclude, that the apostle was speaking of a proper inability, and that he did not therefore regard the failure as his own fault. "It is no more I, but sin that dwelleth in me. O wretched man that I am," &c. Those who maintain that the apostle meant to assert a proper inability to obey, must also admit that he represented this inability as a bar to obligation, and regarded his state as calamitous, rather than as properly sinful. But the fact is, he was portraying a legal experience, and spoke of finding himself unable to keep selfish resolutions of amendment in the presence of temptation. His will was in a state of committal to the indulgence of the propensities. In the absence of temptation, his convictions, and fears, and feelings were the strongest impulses, and under their influence he would form resolutions to do his duty, to abstain from fleshly indulgences, &c. But as some other appetite or desire came to be more strongly excited, he yielded to that of course, and broke his former resolution. Paul writes as if speaking of himself, but was doubtless speaking as the representative of a class of persons already named. He found the law of selfish habit exceedingly strong, and so strong as to lead him to cry out, "O wretched man," &c. But this is not affirming a proper inability of will to submit to God.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 64 - Sanctification (Part 8) paragraph 17 Relations of Christ to the believer--continued Part II

     (xxxiii.) Another precious and most influential relation of Christ in the affair of our sanctification, is that of the Bridegroom or Husband of the soul. The individual soul needs to be espoused to Christ, to enter into this relation personally by its own consent. Mere earthly and outward marriages are nothing but sin, unless the hearts are married. True marriage is of the heart, and the outward ceremony is only a public manifestation or profession of the union or marriage of the souls or hearts. All marriage may be regarded as typical of that union into which the spiritual soul enters with Christ. This relation of Christ to the soul is frequently recognized, both in the Old and the New Testament. It is treated of by Paul as a great mystery. The seventh and eighth chapters of Romans present a striking illustration of the results of the soul's remaining under the law, on the one hand, and of its being married to Christ on the other. The seventh chapter begins thus, "Know ye not, brethren, for I speak to them that know the law, how that the law hath dominion over a man so long as he liveth. For the woman who hath a husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband be dead she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress though she be married to another man. Therefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ: that ye should be married to another, even to Christ who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." The apostle then proceeds to show the results of these two marriages, or relations of the soul. When married to the law, he says of it, "For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death." But when married to Christ, he proceeds to say, "we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit and not in the oldness of the letter." The remaining part of this chapter is occupied with an account of the soul's bondage while married to the law, of its efforts to please its husband, with its continual failures, its deep convictions, its selfish efforts, its consciousness of failures, and its consequent self-condemnation and despondency. It is perfectly obvious, when the allegory with which the apostle commences this chapter is considered, that he is portraying a legal experience, for the purpose of contrasting it with the experience of one who has attained to the true liberty of perfect love.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 80 - Perseverance of Saints III paragraph 149 Further objections considered

     (11.) The eighth chapter of Romans seems to settle the question, or rather is, of itself a clear proof of the doctrine we are examining. We need to read and ponder prayerfully the whole chapter, to apprehend distinctly the scope of the apostle's teaching upon this subject. He had in the seventh chapter been dwelling upon and portraying a legal experience. He begins this eighth chapter by asserting, Rom. viii. 1: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; 4. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. 5. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life, because of righteousness. 11. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 12. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ: if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18. For I reckon, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."