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IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON IV. TOTAL DEPRAVITY paragraph 27 John, 15:42--"But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you."

This law of mind holds true, in all its fullness and extent, upon the subject of religion. I appeal to every Christian in this house, whether, to do the will of God, is not more than his necessary food; whether it is not your meat and drink to do the will of your Heavenly Father. When are you so happy, as when engaged in those things that you know will promote the honour and glory of God. I do not mean, or suppose, that it is your design to gratify yourself, when you obey and serve God; but I ask, do you not find it to be a matter of fact, that you are never so happy, as when you are engaged in doing those things that please him. You search his word, to know what will please him; and when you know his will, and engage heartily in the performance of it, the happiness you will experience in the performance of these duties may not enter into your design or thoughts; and yet you know, that as a matter of fact, the performance of duty promotes your own happiness. To please God, pleases yourself. And now, let me appeal to the experience of every impenitent sinner in this house: do you not know, that from the very constitution of your mind, you love to please your friends. And do you not know, that it makes no part of your happiness to please God. How you delight to gratify your children; to please the objects of your most endeared affection; but I ask your conscience, do you take delight in pleasing God? Do you study to know what will please him? And when you have learned his will, do you find yourselves inclined, readily and joyfully, to perform it?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 791 677 Lecture XI. & XII The Promises- No.'s 1 - 5 ...

13. Another reason is the concealing the grace of God which we actually have received, either through the suggestion of Satan that we shall lose the present blessing, or through fear that we shall be thought egotistical and proud, if we declare what God has done for our souls. Says the Psalmist, "I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart. I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation. I have not concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth from the great congregation." And when he had been brought up from the horrible pit of miry clay, and his feet set upon a rock, his goings established, and a new song put into his mouth, he said, "Many shall see it and shall fear, and shall trust in the Lord." Christ has said that "men do not light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that it may give light to all that are in the house." "Even so," he adds, "let your light so shine that men may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

Now it is not enough that we should merely behave ourselves aright, but we should be prompt, and plain, and simple-hearted in ascribing all our good works to the grace of God within us, else ourselves and not God will have the glory in the estimation of men. If we conceal the lovingkindness of the Lord, if we are ashamed, or afraid, or for any cause neglect to give him glory and tell what the Spirit hath done for our souls, we may expect that to overtake us which was spoken by the prophet, "If ye will not hear and if ye will not lay it to heart to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings."

14. A voluntary humility may prevent us from receiving the fulfillment of the promises. Many individuals seem afraid to hope or expect to attain to any but the lowest measures of grace, on account of their great unworthiness. They feel as if it would be aspiring and getting out of their place to ask for the children's bread, and therefore suppose themselves to be doing God service, in consenting to live upon the crumbs under the table. They read of the attainments of others, but ah! they think, these are not such great sinners as themselves. They thus dishonor the grace of God, by somehow imagining that it was because they were not so great sinners that they have been so highly exalted. In other words, they insult the grace of God by accounting for the attainments of those of whom they read, upon the score of justice rather than grace--supposing that it was because they were not so ill-deserving as themselves. Now what is this but wicked and shocking unbelief, depreciating the grace of God, and ascribing that to justice which is only the result of infinite grace--and besides, a most self-righteous keeping down in the dust, by a most God-dishonoring idea that our worthiness and not unworthiness is to recommend us to the grace of God? Now it should be forever understood that worthiness recommends us to the justice and not to the grace of God, and that our deep unworthiness, while it lays us under the condemning sentence of justice, recommends us to the grace of God. Let no one therefore suppose himself to be pleasing God, when he voluntarily consents to grovel in the lowest attainments, when he ought to rise into the full sunlight of God's countenance, and to be filled with all the fullness of God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 396 383 Lecture IX. The Old Man and The New ...

5. This is also an ultimate and efficient intention. In the form of the old man it is a deep and hearty committal of the soul to self-gratification. It controls all the activity of all unregenerate men. You do not see the old man with the external eye, but by its ceaseless development we learn its character and omnipresent agency.

II. What constitutes the new man.

1. It is a spiritual mind, or a disposition to please God instead of self. It is right over against the carnal selfish state. The mind is fully committed to pleasing God, so that this becomes the chief end for which the individual lives and acts. The new man is thoroughly committed to do the will of God just as the old man is to do the bidding of his carnal impulses. The former lives for God; the latter for himself.

Besides these two ultimate ends, no other can be conceived. All voluntary agents will seek to please either God or themselves. All action, therefore, results from one or the other of these ultimate intentions. And this is true not only of all men but of all other intelligent beings--of angels and of devils.

2. These two dispositions divide all mankind into two classes. Hence there are, as we often say, two sorts of men; and so the Bible says. The Bible represents all men as either saints or sinners; holy or unholy; spiritual or carnal; children of God or children of the devil. It makes them either old men or new men; born of the flesh, or born of the Spirit. The old state is first in order, and all pass into the channel of self-gratification which leads directly to it, unless some may be enlightened and converted by the Spirit from the womb. With this exception all others begin a course of self-gratification from their birth, which becomes sinful as soon as they know that God forbids their making this the supreme end of their existence and yet refuse to obey God.

The new man is born of the Spirit--born from above; the Spirit of God continually begets his moral activity, leading him thoroughly to renounce self, and commit his whole being to do the pleasure of God.

3. The old man is corrupt according to and in compliance with the deceitful lusts. So says our text. By lust is meant in the scriptures all forms of sensual desire. It includes the entire circle of our physical propensities. All these the old man commits himself to obey. He lives for their gratification. They are called deceitful for the obvious reason that the pleasure they promise in their gratification is always delusive. They flatter only to destroy.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 417 383 Lecture IX. The Old Man and The New ...

1. None but a spiritual mind will really make the distinctions which I have been pointing out. No others care to make them; and moreover, the qualities of the new man can never be clearly apprehended without experience. Yet it is a vastly desirable attainment to be able to distinguish between what originates with self, and what originates with the Spirit of God. How rarely made! From my acquaintance with Christians, I think this point is but feebly developed. They don't distinguish between pleasing self and pleasing God. Yet no two things can be more opposite to each other, and none should be more carefully distinguished. In eating, in all labor, in study, we should be careful to know whether we are doing all to please God, or to please ourselves.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 489 476 Lecture XI. Delighting in the Lord ...

7. Delight in God implies delight in obeying him, or delight in his service. It is one thing to obey, and another thing to have delight in obedience. To be sure our nature is such that true obedience always produces delight. But obedience and delight are not the same thing. Where the true spirit of obedience exists, we shall find our delight and happiness of course in the service of God. We are always delighted with the course on which our heart is supremely set. When, therefore our hearts are given up to pleasing God, and we live to this end, when we are heartily and universally consecrated to God's glory and interests, nothing will of course afford us so great pleasure, we shall be so delighted in nothing else, as in waiting on God, doing his bidding, and in every thing engaging in his service. The service of God will be our meat and drink. We shall know what Christ meant when he said "I have meat to eat that ye know not of." "It is my meat to do the will of him that sent me." "I delight to do thy will, O my God."

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1846 paragraph 700 633 Lecture X. The Blessedness of Enduring Temptation ...

But you say perhaps--"I can't tell--I don't know where I am." A young man came to me a few days since with this complaint--I don't know where I am; --I don't know what to think of myself. In fact I am so afraid of sinning against God that I hardly dare to eat or drink or sleep" Indeed, thought I, and where can you be? What is your state of mind, dear young man? So afraid of sinning that you scarcely dare to eat! So full of fear lest you displease God! Surely this shows for itself where you are. A heart so tenderly alive to the fear of displeasing God may be easily known.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1847 paragraph 129 116 Lectures III. & IV.Heart Condemnation, A Proof that God Also Condemns-- and An Approving Heart, Confidence in Prayer- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

5. Hence we see that our conscience may condemn us when we are not conscious of its condemning sentence. We fail of being thus conscious, however, not because its decisions are in their nature occult, not appearing at all upon the field of consciousness;--but because we feel so little interest in its decisions as not to notice them when they are made.

II. If our conscience condemns us, we shall not have the present evidence of pleasing God. The sweet consciousness that we are accepted of God will be wanting.

1. On this point it is important to distinguish between being sure we do not please God, and not being sure that we do. The clear, present evidence of pleasing God is lacking in both of these states; though in the latter the individual may not be conscious that his state does displease God. But even he lacks the present consciousness of pleasing God--the clear testimony of his conscience approving his own state.

Again, it of course implies being conscious of not having the decided approval of conscience. Persons are often in a state in which they feel no approval of conscience, and are not sensible of any disapproval.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 481 442 Lecture X. The Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of True Christianity ...

Great mistakes are wont to be made in this matter. Indeed sinners usually make them. Many suppose that to give up all idea of being rich is almost awful. It is a great thing, scarcely to be endured for any consideration. That young man says in his heart, Why should I go and preach and toil for almost nothing, laboring for a very small salary and for a most ungrateful people? Ah indeed! You cannot make up your mind to follow in the steps of Him who "had not where to lay His head," and who "came unto His own and His own received Him not." It would involve too many sacrifices! But did you not know that after all, the most devoted and self-sacrificing ministers of Christ, are among the happiest people in the world? You entirely mistake, young man, if you think otherwise. Even when nobody thanks them, God smiles on their souls and all is joy and blessedness within. If nobody else gives to supply their wants, God does. He knows how to supply the great deep want of the soul for peace and joy, and He is not forgetful to do so towards His faithful, self-denying servants. Ask the faithful missionary of the cross in what portion of his life he has had most satisfaction. You will be told that by how much the more he has sacrificed, by so much the greater is his joy. He will say to you--I love my work; it is good for me to endure the cross, despising the shame. Ask any true missionary--Are you rewarded for your toils and self-denials? He will reply--O if I might see salvation flow to those heathen tribes, it would be my greatest joy. Nothing else could make me so happy. It is the hope of this success and the consciousness of pleasing God in my labors that makes all my toils sweet. Why should I not give myself up to such a work with my utmost might?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1851 paragraph 78 61 Lecture II. Awaking from The Sleep of Spiritual Death ...

(3.) Now the sinner's death is clearly proved to be a case of suicide. For, by the very nature of his death, nobody else could have caused it--no agency in the universe can be the cause of it but himself. For the cause of the death lies in his own voluntary action. He of his own free choice yields up himself to the demands of his appetites. He himself voluntarily chooses selfish good before and instead of God and of the universe, which is the very death of which we speak. In this and in this only consists his death in sin. He has made this fatal choice of pleasing self and displeasing God, not only through all the past years of his moral activity, but is making it at the present moment. In other words, he not only killed himself when he first began to act morally, but he has been repeating his suicidal acts ever since, and is repeating them even now. Now, even today, his own moral activities are altogether suicidal, so that if he had never killed himself before, the voluntary sin of this day would be the murder of his soul.
 

2. The things I now affirm follow inevitably from the very nature of moral, voluntary action. No one compels a sinner to love himself more than he loves God; no one compels him to follow his own propensities, instead of obeying the voice of his reason and his conscience. No one man ever killed another in the sense of spiritual death; no man ever did or ever can sin for another so that his sin shall be the death spiritually of his neighbor. One man may entice another to sin; may tempt him--may lead him along into sinning; this is only being the occasion; and when we ask for the occasion of the sinner's spiritual death, much may be said about the agency of others. No doubt much is to be ascribed to the influences which occasion sin; but occasion and cause are entirely distinct and should never be confounded together. The cause is the acting agent who sins; the occasion may be any influence from other agents, acting upon the sensibilities of his being, appealing to his appetites and passions, and presenting inducements to wrong moral action.
 

(1.) The cause of an event or act is the efficient power which does it. It always implies the exercise of force or power, adequate to the production of the effect. Now with this meaning of the terms before our minds, we see that the only cause of sin must be the sinner's own voluntary powers of choice. No other being can compel him to sin; if the thing were possible, the sin when committed would not be his own sin, but the sin of the compelling power. Just as in physical death, you may tempt your neighbor to suicide; if in his sane mind he commits it, though under your temptation, it is suicide; he has killed himself, and however great your guilt, he is still the guilty cause of his own death. So of all temptations to sin. They are the occasion of sin, and sin never takes place without occasion. There must be something presented to the sinner's mind as an inducement which leads him to choose selfishly. All sin is choice which the sinner makes and persists in--choice of the good hoped for in disobeying God before the good promised in obeying. These temptations are various. Adam's first sin became the occasion of great sin to his race--very great sin;--of this there can be no doubt. So all the intemperance that has ever existed has made the appetite more clamorous, for by a law of our physical constitution, the habits of the parent affect his constitution, and his constitution affects that of his offspring. Thus the effects of Adamis sin have passed over upon all his race.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1851 paragraph 263 215 Lecture V. Repentance Before Prayer for Forgiveness ...

7. Many professors of religion are greatly backslidden from God, yet they pray in form, but don't repent. Many talk about praying as if they made up in prayer what they lack of pleasing God in sinning. I asked a young lady--Do you pray? Yes sir. When? On retiring to rest at night. What for? That God would take me to heaven if I should die before morning. Do you expect God would do so? No. You expect then to so on in sin. Now be so honest as to tell God just the truth. Say to Him--Lord, forgive my sins--give me strength by sleep and food that I may sin a little more; I have sinned all the day past--I don't intend to repent; I only want to be taken to heaven if I die, for I cannot bear to sink down to hell: Lord help me to sin on against thee as long as I live, and then take me up to heaven!!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1853 paragraph 107 70 Lecture II. Men Invited to Reason Together With God ...

11. Urge as a further reason that you are willing to become dead to a worldly and unbelieving church--that you are ready to die even to their good opinion--to be excommunicated if they will do it; to be cast out if they will cast you out. You shrink not from being reputed a heretic, if you may only have grace to overcome all sin and every temptation. You wish to please but one, and you are quite satisfied with pleasing God only. This shall be your object, and this, attained, shall fully satisfy your soul. You are willing to give up all idols and live to Him alone. No matter if your name be cast out as evil and trodden down as vile, by the church, by her ministry, by all men, if you may only live to please God. Tell Him you are willing to renounce all creature help, and all earthly reliances, with only one great inquiry--How can I most and best please God?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1853 paragraph 204 180 Lecture IV. The Sinner's Excuses Answered ...

The reason you cannot please God in your executive acts, is that your governing purpose is not right. While your leading motive is wrong all you do is selfish, because it is all done for the single object of pleasing yourself. You do nothing for the sake of pleasing God, and with the governing design and purpose of doing all His holy will; hence all you do, even your religious duties, only displease God. If the Bible had anywhere represented God as being pleased with your hypocritical services it would be proven false, for this is perfectly impossible.

13. But you say--The Bible requires me to begin with the inner man--the heart;--and you say you cannot get at this; that you cannot reach your own heart or will to change it.

Indeed, you are entirely mistaken. This is the very thing that is most entirely within your power. Of all things conceivable, this is the very thing that you can do most certainly--that is most absolutely within your power. If God had made your salvation turn upon your walking across the room, you might not be able to do it; or if upon lifting your eyelids, or rising from your seat, or any, the least movement of your muscles, you might be utterly unable to do it. You could will the motion required, and you could try; but the muscles might have no power to act. You often think that if God had only conditioned your salvation upon some motions of your muscles, it would have been so easy; if he had only asked you to control the outside; but oh, you say, how can I control the inside? The inside is the very thing you can move and control. If it had been the outside, you might strive and groan till you die, and not be able to move a muscle, even on pain of an eternal hell. But now inasmuch as God only says, "Change your will," all is brought within your control. This is just the thing you always can do; you can always move your will. You can always give your heart, at your own option. Where, then, is your difficulty and objection? God requires you to act with your freedom; to exercise the powers of free voluntary action that he has given you. He asks you to put your hand on the fountain head of all your own power, to act just where your central power lies--where YOU ALWAYS HAVE POWER so long as you have a rational mind and a moral nature. Your liberty does not consist in a power to move your muscles at pleasure, for the connection between your muscles and your will may be broken, and at all events is always necessary when your body is in its normal state; therefore God does not require you to perform any particular movement of the muscles, but only to change your will. This, compared with all other things, is that which you can always do, and can do more surely than anything else.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1853 paragraph 333 320 Lecture VII. The Essential Elements of Christian Experience ...

It is but natural that when the spiritual faculties are aroused, men will begin to pray and struggle under a deep sense of being wrong and guilty. At first this may be entirely selfish. But before conversion takes place, there will be a point in which the counter influences of the selfish against the spiritual will balance each other, and then the spiritual will gain the ascendancy. The animal and the selfish must relatively decline and the spiritual gain strength, till victory turns on the side of the spiritual powers. How commonly do you observe that when the mind becomes convicted of sin, the attractions of the world fade away; all it can give looks small; sinners can no longer take the pleasure in worldly things they once had. Indeed this is a most curious and singular struggle. How rapid and great are the changes through which the sinner passes! To-day, he quenches the light of God in his soul, and gropes on in darkness; tomorrow the light may return and reveal yet greater sin; one day he relapses back to worldliness, and gives up his soul to his own thoughts and pleasures; but ere another has past, there is bitterness in this cup and he loathes it, and from his soul cries out: This can never satisfy an immortal mind! Now he begins to practice upon external reformation; but anon he finds that this utterly fails to bring peace to his soul. He is full of trouble and anxiety for salvation, yet all his struggles thus far have been entirely selfish, and ere he is converted he must see this to be the case. He is in a horrible pit of miry clay. The more he struggles, the deeper he sinks and the more desperate his case becomes. Selfish efforts for spiritual relief are just like a quagmire of thick clay. Each struggle plunges the sinking man the deeper in the pit. The convicted man is ready to put himself to hard labor and mighty effort. At first he works with great hope of success, for he does not readily understand why selfish efforts will not be successful. He prays, but all in a selfish spirit. By this I mean that he thinks only of himself. He has no thought of honoring or pleasing God--no thought of any benefit to his fellow-beings. He does not inquire whether his course of life and state of heart are such that God can bless him without detriment to the rest of his great family. In fact he does not think of caring for the rest of that family nor for the honor of its great Father. Of course such selfish praying brings no answer; and when he finds this to be the case, he frets and struggles more than ever. Now he goes on to add to his works and efforts. He attends more meetings, and reads his Bible more, and tries new forms of prayer. All is in vain. His heart is selfish still. What can I do? he cries out in agony; if I pray I am selfish, and if I desist from prayer, this too is selfish; if I read my Bible or neglect to read it, each alike is selfish, and what can I do? How can I help being selfish?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1855 paragraph 322 296 Lecture VIII. On Being Searched of God ...

16. Men are prone to take credit for what is of little or no real value. Often they do things only in the letter, without a particle of the spirit which God requires, and which only could make the outward doing, real obedience. Thus, men will attend religious meetings--right in the letter,--but with no heart of worship, and no regard to pleasing God--and hence, all is wanting in the spirit of the deed. Or, they give their money for a benevolent object, yet give it most grudgingly or selfishly, and therefore, in a spirit which God abhors. Now, if men take credit to themselves for such services, they are under a most radical mistake, and need God's Spirit to open their eyes to see it.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1856 paragraph 235 215 Lecture VI. The Sinner's Natural Power and Moral Weakness ...

Nor is the drunkard alone in the contempt which his sensual degradation entails. See the tobacco-smoker. The correct taste of community demands that by conventional laws he be excluded from parlors, steamboat-cabins, first class rail-cars, churches, and indeed all really decent places. Yet, for the sake of this low indulgence, the smoker is willing to descend into places not decent. See him steal out of his place among respectable people in the rail-car, and herd with rowdies in the smoking car, for the sake of his filthy indulgence. If he were only obliged to ride all day in the society to which he sinks himself by this indulgence, it might admonish him of the cost of his sensuality! It might help to open his eyes!

6. I have taken these forms of sensual indulgence as illustrations of the real degradation of sin. In these cases the good sense of mankind has been evinced by the grade of debasement to which they consign these votaries of low self-indulgence. If we only saw things in their right light we should take the same view of the moralist. I recollect that in talking with a great moralist he said, "How can I act from regard to God or to the right? How can I go to meeting from the high motive of pleasing God? I can go from a desire to promote my own selfish ends, but how can I go for the sake of pleasing God?"

Yes, that is precisely his difficulty and his guilt. He does not care how little he pleases God! That is the least of his concern. The very lowest class of motives sways his will and his life. He stands entirely afar from the reach of the highest and noblest. In this consists his self-made degradation and his exceeding great guilt.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1860 paragraph 27 9 Lectures I. & II.On Loving God- No. 1 -- On Love To Our Neighbor- No. 2 ...

3. It must be an abiding love. It must be a state of good-will, as distinguished from transient acts. A state of mind that is continuous must manifestly be implied and required.

II. I must next notice some things implied in this love.

1. If this love be good-will -- a perpetual purposing to promote the highest happiness of all, then it must imply a life devoted to this object. The love of the heart naturally and surely controls the life. Supreme love to God must therefore imply supreme devotion of the life to God, and by this I mean, to pleasing God and doing faithfully all His known will. If love be supreme and abiding, it must forever control the life and hold it to perpetual devotion, to the things that please God.

Here some will ask -- "What can we do for God? What should He care what we do?"

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1860 paragraph 31 9 Lectures I. & II.On Loving God- No. 1 -- On Love To Our Neighbor- No. 2 ...

So God feels. God's love is of this sort -- pure good-willing -- pure love of doing all the good He can safely and wisely, to His children. His children feel so towards Him. If they can do anything for His cause, it is the highest joy of their heart. Suppose the Lord were to say to some of you -- You may do any way you please. Would you not at once reply -- Not so, Lord, but rather anything that pleases Thee? Nothing else can ever please me, but doing what pleases Thee. What do I live for but to please and honor Thee?

6. If you find one who cannot deny himself, but chooses his ways to please himself otherwise than in pleasing God, you may know he does not love God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1860 paragraph 32 9 Lectures I. & II.On Loving God- No. 1 -- On Love To Our Neighbor- No. 2 ...

7. If you seek anyone's good with real love, you will certainly avail yourself to every means to learn what will please him. So of loving and pleasing God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1860 paragraph 33 9 Lectures I. & II.On Loving God- No. 1 -- On Love To Our Neighbor- No. 2 ...

8. Of course supreme love implies a greater dread of displeasing God than of displeasing anyone else. Nothing will distress one who loves God, so much as the thought of displeasing Him.

You may each and all, apply every one of these principles warm and fresh, to your own heart in self-examination. Say, does my love to God bear this test?

9. Again, if you truly love God, there will always be a spontaneous sorrow if you become conscious of having displeased Him. If you should be overcome by temptation, you would not need to make a great effort to feel sorry for it. When you have injured any friend whom you love more than any other being, you can easily regret and sorrow over the sad wrong.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1860 paragraph 41 9 Lectures I. & II.On Loving God- No. 1 -- On Love To Our Neighbor- No. 2 ...

3. Consequently He must make this revelation as enduring as His own governement. Both the natural and governmental consequences of sin must be as enduring and as striking as God can make them. Else God cannot do justice to His responsibilities as the Great Moral Father of the universe.

V. I must next notice some delusions which prevail on this subject.

1. Men get up some other standard of right. By a sort of mutual consent or conventionalism, they frame a code of morals in trade -- morals in social life or in politics, and then take great credit to themselves for having done right.

Now let men devise their own codes and notions as they may, this law of God is forevermore the one great and only standard of right. Nothing is right except it be in accordance with this law. If men talk about doing right, on any rule of right short of this, they egregiously deceive themselves. What do you mean to doing right? Do you mean that your life is a constant offering to God? Do you offer yourself to God as a living sacrifice? If not, why do you talk about pleasing God? Do you say -- I pay all my debts; I live fairly in society; I injure no man?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1860 paragraph 120 91 Lectures III. & IV.Spiritual Delusion- No. 1 -- On Leaving One's First Love- No. 2 -- (This 2-part sermon was listed in the Table of Contents of the "Oberlin Evangelist" as "Spiritual Declension") ...

7. The Christian's love is in a yet higher sense spontaneous in his supreme devotion to God. The very thought of displeasing God makes him tremble. The very danger makes him turn pale.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 158 149 Lecture III. Living To Please God ...

To this I answer --

1. To make His pleasure our ultimate end of life; that is, to make His pleasure an end, and not a means of promoting our own. It is possible to aim at pleasing God simply as a means of securing our own salvation. But this is not really aiming to please God as our end, but is aiming to please ourselves as an end, and pleasing God only as a means.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 165 149 Lecture III. Living To Please God ...

6. It is right to aim in all things at pleasing God, because His pleasure is the most worthy end for which we can live. It is not living for an abstraction. Some people have thought that the end proposed was rather an abstraction than a reality.

But do you account it an abstraction to live to please your mother or your father, your wife, or your dearest friend? That is anything but an abstraction. Your wife, or husband, or friend, would account their own pleasure anything but an abstraction.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 172 149 Lecture III. Living To Please God ...

Paul says he verily thought he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. But Paul was a Pharisee, a bigot, dishonestly committed against Jesus. He was a persecuting fanatic, and he was just one of those of whom Christ said, "The days shall come when he that killeth you will think that he doeth God service." But does any one suppose that these persecutors were really filled with the love of God; that they were honestly devoted to pleasing a God of love; that they were fair-minded, candid, and really devoted to pleasing the true God? No! their zeal was founded in delusion, and in a delusion in which they were dishonest. They were under a dishonest bias; they assumed that Jesus was a wicked impostor, and that His disciples were deluded fanatics. This they had no right to assume; this assumption was dishonest. It was founded in prejudice. Its roots were roots of bitterness, and its fruit was death. But it remains a truth, that where a mind is truly and honestly committed to pleasing God, in all its honest endeavors, it is and must be accepted.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 174 149 Lecture III. Living To Please God ...

I answer --

1. What is implied in this question? Suppose you should ask, how you should intend to please your mother, your father, or your benefactor. It is easy to see that the question implies that you do not love God; that His goodness to you has not led you to repentance. What! do you really find it difficult to mean to please Him? Then how totally unfit for heaven are you! Why, what would heaven be to you if it is so difficult for you to please God? You have no pleasure in pleasing God, no care to please God, no delight in pleasing God! Then hell must be your home. What would such a spirit do in heaven!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 183 149 Lecture III. Living To Please God ...

If she and Adam had returned with all their heart, with the simplicity of aim that they had before to please the Lord -- this would have been repentance, this would have been a change of heart. They changed their hearts when they turned away for pleasing God, and set up their own pleasure as their end. In this they changed their hearts from a holy to a sinful heart.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 184 149 Lecture III. Living To Please God ...

Now had they immediately returned, changed back again, renounced their wrong, and devoted themselves at once to pleasing God again, this would have been conversion to God. In this they would have become truly religious again.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 195 149 Lecture III. Living To Please God ...

But I fear it is after all the religion of the vast majority of professors. Many seem seldom or never to be aggressive in their religion. They are not laying themselves out, sacrificing self to please God; but they are living to please themselves, and as far as is consistent with this supreme regard to self, they avoid displeasing God. But in fact it is all displeasing to God. I say again, the religion of Jesus is positive, is necessarily aggressive. It is not merely the avoiding what there is harm in; but it is a positive labor, and a constant endeavor to please Christ, to do that which will glorify Him and save souls.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 206 149 Lecture III. Living To Please God ...

But after all we can well afford to live to please God; for the more singly we aim at pleasing Him, the more truly and surely do we really please ourselves. We do not aim in this to please ourselves; but, notwithstanding, we do gain our own approbation. We aim at pleasing God, and not man. We therefore care comparatively little what man thinks of what we do; if God approve, it is enough. The soul is quiet under that consideration, is peaceful and calm as a summer-evening sea. It becomes crucified unto the world and the world unto it; it pleases God; it is adjusted to His will; it meets His pleasure. He smiles His approbation, and all is peace.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 300 261 Lectures V. - VII. Hardness Of Heart- No. 1 -- Harden Not Your Heart- No. 2 -- Tender-Heartedness- No. 3 ...

Now, do you not see that you are deceived, that your hearts are hard? Your will is after all committed to self-pleasing, and not to pleasing God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 925 908 Lecture XVI. Any One Form of Sin Persisted In Is Fatal To The Soul ...

Now this is a fatal delusion. Such persons are totally deceived in supposing that they really obey God in anything. "He that is unjust in the least, is really unjust also in much;" and "whosoever will keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty of all." Again,

6. Any form of sin persisted in is fatal to the soul, because it is inconsistent with true repentance. Sin, however great, will be forgiven if repented of. But what is repentance? Repentance is not mere sorrow for sin, but it is the heart-renunciation of sin; it is the giving up of sin from the heart, and of all sin as sin; it is the rejection of it because it is that abominable thing which God hates; it is the turning of the heart from self-seeking to supreme love to God and equal love to our fellow men; it is heart-reformation; it is heart-rejection of sin; it is heart-turning to God. Now, while any one sin is persisted in and not given up, there can be no true repentance; for after all, this form of sin is preferred to the will of God--the indulgence of sense in this particular is preferred to pleasing God. There can, therefore, be no true repentance unless all known sin be for the time utterly abandoned.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 2 - PLEASING GOD. paragraph 0
PLEASING GOD

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 2 - PLEASING GOD. paragraph 2

PLEASING GOD.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 2 - PLEASING GOD. paragraph 32

(4.) Again: he must set his heart upon pleasing God. No individual will have the testimony that he pleases God unless he really means to please him. A man, I say, who would have the testimony that he pleases God, must have an heart set upon pleasing him, he must regard it as of the greatest importance that he please God, he must give himself to the work of pleasing God as a condition of pleasing him.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 2 - PLEASING GOD. paragraph 34

(6.) I remark again: another condition is, he must believe it possible for him to please God. If he does not believe it possible for him to please God; if he has such an idea of God's requirements that they are so exceedingly strict, and that he requires so much of man, that it is almost hopeless of man to expect to please him, if he has this idea, I say, he need not expect to please him. I have heard many persons talk as if it was the height of presumption to try to please God in this world, as if it would be most dangerous to the soul to indulge in the belief that it could please him. These persons represent God as so infinitely exacting, that the highest angel in heaven might hardly hope to please him--then how could man hope to do it? Now when an individual has this idea--that God requires his creatures to make brick without straw, that he requires of men that which they cannot do, because he does not give them the ability to do it, then he rejects every expectation of pleasing God. When an individual has this idea he is in a state of mind that cannot please God. It is true that God is holy, that his requirements are perfect. It is true that he requires men to love him with all their heart, and soul, and strength, and their neighbours as themselves, but it is also true that his grace is equal to his requirements; and in his requirements he pledges his grace to enable us to perform. It were infinitely strange, not to say unjust, if it were otherwise.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 2 - PLEASING GOD. paragraph 36

     Now, let me pause here, and apply what I have I said to all classes of persons: not only to professed saints, but to those also who are not professed saints. Now, do you really desire the testimony that you please God? Of course, you cannot expect to have it while you remain impenitent. But, may you not enjoy this testimony, if you set your heart upon pleasing God? Yes! you may. To be sure you have not this testimony now, and some of you may say, it will be a great while before I can have it. Why? Will it take you a great while to repent, and set your heart upon obeying God? Oh, no! Well, it is as important for you to have this testimony as any body else,--then why not say at once, As I can have this testimony by the grace of God, I will not live another day without it. But I would observe, here, that the spirit of self-sacrifice is a condition of having this testimony. Christ lived not to please himself, but to please his Father: and, in order to do this, he was willing to sacrifice everything and his own life also. Now, if any of his followers would have the testimony that they please God, they must have the self-sacrificing spirit of their master. They must be willing to be used up, for the good of his kingdom. They must be willing, as Christ was, to sacrifice even their lives. But, I must hasten to consider

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 2 - PLEASING GOD. paragraph 49

(4.) I remark again, that many do not have it, because they have more regard for the approbation of men than the approbation of God. They care so little about pleasing God, that they have ceased to inquire what will please him, and they will not hesitate to do what they know will displease God rather than displease man. These persons, of course, cannot have the testimony of which we are speaking.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 39 - THE SINNER'S SELF-DESTRUCTION. paragraph 33

Again. persons often run to men for advice instead of to God. Some years since, at Detroit, in America, there lived a gentleman who belonged to one of the highest families in the place, and who was surrounded by a large circle of the very uppermost class of society. He was deeply convicted of his sins, very anxious about his soul, at length he became so intensely anxious that he could no longer refrain from speaking to me on the subject. I pressed him to submit. "I cannot do it," said he "without consulting my friends, without which I never take any important step, as they would think it unkind and ungenerous of me." "But are you going to consult unconverted men about your soul?" "Oh! Yes." "But I am certain if you do this, you will tempt the Spirit of God." But he "thought he should not." I pressed him for half an hour to make at once his peace with God. But no, he persisted to the last that his relations must be consulted; and so important a step must not be taken without their consent. Persons often thus consult their friends, and virtually commit themselves to their advice, rather than follow the dictates of their own conscience, their sense of right, and the law of God. They want no advice where the path of duty is so plain; but the fact is, they are afraid to displease their friends, and they therefore go on displeasing God! What a foolish and fatal course is this! -- flesh and blood before God!

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), APPENDIX Reply to Dr. Duffield paragraph 133

     "But the system of error, against which we warn you, utterly repudiates such a release from the condemnation of the law, and such a filial relation to God, except in so far as it may exist simultaneously, and only in connection with what it calls, at one time, 'present full obedience,' at another, 'entire sanctification,' and again, 'moral perfection.' It affirms that the Christian 'is justified no farther than he obeys, and must be condemned when he disobeys, or antinomianism is true.' It does not distinguish between the offending Christian's displeasing God as his heavenly father, and the condemnation of the impenitent sinner by God as his lawgiver and judge; between God's parental discipline administered to his erring children, and the infliction of the penalty of the law as moral governor upon the guilty; between forgiveness as a father, and pardon as a prince. A system of parental chastisement which is disciplinary, reforming, and not penal, is very different from a moral government armed with penal sanctions. Chastisement aims to reform and save; penalty does not; but to protect society and promote the public good. This distinction is very important; but it is wholly lost sight of in the erroneous theory which we condemn. It identifies these things, and confounds all the gracious relations and offices of God through Jesus Christ, with that of the high executive functionary of moral governor of the universe, boldly affirming, that 'when the Christian sins, he must repent and do his first works, or he will perish; until he repent, he cannot be forgiven.' Whenever he sins he must, for the time being, cease to be holy; he must be condemned, he must incur the penalty of the law of God.'

 

 


POWER FROM ON HIGH - CHAPTER 9 - Innocent Amusements paragraph 25

Now, is this rule a yoke of bondage? I do not wonder that it has created in some minds not a little disturbance. The pleasure loving and pleasure seeking members of the Church regard the rule as impracticable, as a strait jacket, as a bondage. But to whom is it a straitjacket and a bondage? To whom is it impracticable? Surely it is not and cannot be to any who love God with all their heart and their neighbor as themselves. It certainly cannot be so regarded by a real Christian, for all real Christians love God supremely. Their own interests and their own pleasure are regarded as nothing as compared with the interests and good pleasure of God. They, therefore, cannot seek amusements unless they believe themselves called of God to do so. By a law of our nature we seek to please those whom we supremely love. Also, by a law of our nature, we find our highest happiness in pleasing those whom we supremely love; and we supremely please ourselves when we seek not at all to please ourselves, but to please the object of our supreme affection. Therefore, Christians find their highest enjoyment and their truest pleasure in pleasing God and in seeking the good of their fellow-men; and they enjoy this service all the more because enjoyment is not what they seek, but what they inevitably experience by a law of their nature.

 

 


GOSPEL THEMES, SERMON 6 - The Sinner's Excuses Answered paragraph 43

The reason you cannot please God in your executive acts, is that your governing purpose is not right. While your leading motive is wrong, all you do is selfish, because it is all done for the single object of pleasing yourself. You do nothing for the sake of pleasing God, and with the governing design and purpose of doing all His holy will; hence all you do, even your religious duties, only displease God. If the Bible had anywhere represented God as being pleased with your hypocritical services it would be proven false, for this is perfectly impossible.

 

 


GOSPEL THEMES, SERMON 11 - The Sinner's Natural Power and Moral Weakness paragraph 32

I have taken these forms of sensual indulgence as illustrations of the real degradation of sin. In these cases the good sense of mankind has been evinced by the grade of debasement to which they consign these votaries of low self-indulgence. If we only saw things in their right light we should take the same view of the moralist. I recollect that in talking with a great moralist he said, "How can I act from regard to God or to the right? How can I go to meeting from the high motive of pleasing God? I can go from a desire to promote my own selfish ends, but how can I go for the sake of pleasing God?"

 

 


GOSPEL THEMES, SERMON 24 - The Essential Elements of Christian Experience paragraph 15

It is but natural that when the spiritual faculties are aroused, men will begin to pray and struggle under a deep sense of being wrong and guilty. At first this may be entirely selfish. But before conversion takes place, there will be a point in which the counter influences of the selfish against the spiritual will balance each other, and then the spiritual will gain the ascendancy. The animal and the selfish must relatively decline and the spiritual gain strength, till victory turns on the side of the spiritual powers. How commonly do you observe that when the mind becomes convicted of sin, the attractions of the world fade away; all it can give looks small; sinners can no longer take the pleasure in worldly things they once had. Indeed, this is a most curious and singular struggle. How rapid and great are the changes through which the sinner passes! Today, he quenches the light of God in his soul, and gropes on in darkness; tomorrow the light may return and reveal yet greater sin; one day he relapses back to worldliness, and gives up his soul to his own thoughts and pleasures; but ere another has passed, there is bitterness in this cup and he loathes it, and from his soul cries out: This can never satisfy an immortal mind! Now he begins to practice upon external reformation; but anon he finds that this utterly fails to bring peace to his soul. He is full of trouble and anxiety for salvation, yet all his struggles thus far have been entirely selfish, and ere he is converted he must see this to be the case. He is in a horrible pit of miry clay. The more he struggles the deeper he sinks and the more desperate his case becomes. Selfish efforts for spiritual relief are just like a quagmire of thick clay. Each struggle plunges the sinking man the deeper in the pit. The convicted man is ready to put himself to hard labor and mighty effort. At first he works with great hope of success, for he does not readily understand why selfish efforts will not be successful. He prays, but all in a selfish spirit. By this I mean that he thinks only of himself. He has no thought of honoring or pleasing God -- no thought of any benefit to his fellow-beings. He does not inquire whether his course of life and state of heart are such that God can bless him without detriment to the rest of His great family. In fact, he does not think of caring for the rest of that family nor for the honor of its great Father. Of course, such selfish praying brings no answer; and when he finds this to be the case, he frets and struggles more than ever. Now he goes on to add to his works and efforts. He attends more meetings, and reads his Bible more, and tries new forms of prayer. All is in vain. His heart is selfish still. What can I do? he cries out in agony; if I pray I am selfish, and if I desist from prayer, this too is selfish; if I read my Bible or neglect to read it, each alike is selfish, and what can I do? How can I help being selfish?

 

 


WAY OF SALVATION, SERMON 5 - Men Invited To Reason Together With God paragraph 46

Urge, as a further reason, that you are willing to become dead to a worldly and unbelieving church; that you are ready to die even to their good opinion -- to be excommunicated if they will do it, to be cast out if they will cast you out. You shrink not from being reputed a heretic, if you may only have grace to overcome all sin and every temptation. You wish to please but one; and you are quite satisfied with pleasing God only. This shall be your object, and this, attained, shall fully satisfy your soul. You are willing to give up all idols and live to him alone. No matter if your name be cast out as evil and trodden down as vile, by the church, by her ministry, by all men, if you may only live to please God. Tell him you are willing to renounce all creature help and all earthly reliances, with only one great inquiry, How can I most and best please God?

 

 


WAY OF SALVATION, SERMON 9 - Any One Form of Sin Persisted In is Fatal to the Soul paragraph 31

Again, 6. Any form of sin persisted in is fatal to the soul, because it is inconsistent with true repentance. Sin, however great, will be forgiven if repented of. But what is repentance? Repentance is not mere sorrow for sin, but it is the heart-renunciation of sin; it is the giving up of sin from the heart, and of all sin as sin; it is the rejection of it because it is that abominable thing which God hates; it is the turning of the heart from self-seeking to supreme love to God and equal love to our fellowmen; it is heart-reformation; it is heart-rejection of sin; it is heart-turning to God. Now, while any one sin is persisted in and not given up, there can be no true repentance; for, after all, this form of sin is preferred to the will of God -- the indulgence of self in this particular is preferred to pleasing God. There can, therefore, be no true repentance unless all known sin be for the time utterly abandoned.