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REVIVAL LECTURES - LECTURE IV. - PREVAILING PRAYER. paragraph 39 What is effectual or prevailing prayer - Some of the most essential attributes of prevailing prayer - Some reasons why God requires this kind of prayer - That such prayer will avail much.

5. Prayer, to be effectual, must be offered from right motives. Prayer should not be selfish, but should be dictated by a supreme regard for the glory of God. A great deal is offered from pure selfishness. Women sometimes pray for their husbands, that they may be converted, because, they say: "It would be so much more pleasant to have my husband go to Church with me," and all that. And they seem never to lift up their thoughts above self at all. They do not seem to think how their husbands are dishonoring God by their sins, nor how God would be glorified in their conversion. So it is very often with parents. They cannot bear to think that their children should be lost. They pray for them very earnestly indeed. But if you talk with them upon the subject they are very tender about it and tell you how good their children are--how they respect religion, and how they are, indeed, "almost Christians now"; and so they talk as if they were afraid you would hurt their children by simply telling them the truth. They do not think how such amiable and lovely children are dishonoring God by their sins; they are only thinking what a dreadful thing it will be for them to go to hell. Unless their thoughts rise higher than this, their prayers will never prevail with a holy God.

 

 


REVIVAL LECTURES - LECTURE VI. - THE SPIRIT OF PRAYER. paragraph 55 What Spirit is spoken of in the passage: "The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities" - What that Spirit does for us - Why He does what the text declares Him to do - How He accomplishes it - The degrees of His influences - How His influences are to be distinguished from the influences of evil spirits - Who have a right to expect His influences.

He replied that "he wanted to be happy." He knew those who had the Spirit were happy, and he wanted to enjoy his mind as they did. Why, the devil himself might pray so! That is mere selfishness. The man, when this was shown him, at first turned away in anger. He saw that he had never known what it was to pray. He was convinced he was a hypocrite, and that his prayers were all selfish, dictated only by a desire for his own happiness. David prayed that God would uphold him by His free Spirit, that he might teach transgressors and turn sinners to God. A Christian should pray for the Spirit that he may be the more useful and glorify God more; not that he himself may be more happy. This man saw clearly where he had been in error, and he was converted. Perhaps many here have been making just the same mistake. You ought to examine and see if your prayers are not tinctured with selfishness.

 

 


REVIVAL LECTURES - LECTURE XXI. - THE BACKSLIDER IN HEART. paragraph 16 What backsliding in heart is not - What it is - What are its evidences - What are its consequences - How to recover from such a state.

4. The text implies that there may be a backslidden heart, when the forms of religion and obedience to God are maintained. As we know from consciousness that men perform the same, or similar, acts from widely different, and often from opposite, motives, we are certain that men may keep up all the outward forms and appearances of religion, when in fact, they are backslidden in heart. No doubt the most intense selfishness often takes on a religious type, and there are many considerations that might lead a backslider in heart to keep up the forms, while he had lost the power of godliness in his soul.

 

 


REVIVAL LECTURES - LECTURE XXI. - THE BACKSLIDER IN HEART. paragraph 77 What backsliding in heart is not - What it is - What are its evidences - What are its consequences - How to recover from such a state.

11. The backslider in heart will be full of his own cares. He has turned back to selfishness. He counts himself and his possessions as his own. He has everything to care for. He will not hold himself and his possessions as belonging to God, and lay aside the responsibility of taking care of himself and all that he possesses. He does not, will not, cast his cares upon the Lord, but undertakes to manage everything for himself, and in his own wisdom, and for his own ends. Consequently, his cares will be multiplied, and come upon him like a deluge.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON I. SINNERS BOUND TO CHANGE THEIR OWN HEARTS paragraph 23 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

But I come now to show what we are to understand by the command of the text. The Bible often speaks of the heart, as a fountain, from which flow the moral affections and actions of the soul, as in Matt. xv.19, "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." The term heart, as applied to mind, is figurative, and recognizes an analogy between the heart of the body, and the heart of the soul. The fleshly organ of the body called the heart, is the seat and fountain of animal life, and by its constant action, diffuses life through the animal system. The spiritual heart, is the fountain of spiritual life, is that deep seated but voluntary preference of the mind, which lies back of all its other voluntary affections and emotions, and from which they take their character. In this sense I understand the term heart to be used in the text. It is evidently something over which we have control; something voluntary; something for which we are to blame, and which we are bound to alter! Now, if the requirement is, that we are to make some constitutional change in the substance of the body or mind, it is evidently unjust, and enforced by a penalty no less than infinite, as obedience is impossible, the requirement is infinite tyranny. It is evident that the requirement here, is to change our moral character; our moral disposition; in other words, to change that abiding preference of our minds, which prefers sin to holiness; self-gratification to the glory of God. I understand a change of heart, as the term is here used, to be just what we mean by a change of mind in regard to the supreme object of pursuit; a change in the choice of an end, not merely in the choice of means. An individual may change his mind, and prefer, at one time, one set of means, and at another time, another set, to accomplish the same end: a man who proposes to himself as the supreme object of pursuit, his own happiness, may, at one time imagine, that his highest happiness lies in the possession of worldly goods, and in pursuit of this end, may give himself wholly to the acquisition of wealth, in pursuing which he may often change his choice of means; at one time he may pursue merchandise; at another, the profession of law; and still again, the profession of medicine; but all these are only changes of mind in regard to the means of accomplishing the same selfish end. Again, he may see that his happiness does not consist in the abundance of wealth; that he is to exist for ever; that he therefore has a higher interest in the things of eternity than in those of time; he may accordingly enlarge his selfish aims, carry forward his interest into eternity, and propose as the supreme object of pursuit, the salvation of his soul. It is now an eternal, instead of a temporal interest that he seeks; which he proposes as the supreme object of pursuit; but still the end is his own happiness; the end is substantially the same, it is only the exercise of selfishness on a more ample and extended scale; instead of being satisfied with the happiness of time, selfishness aims at securing the bliss of eternity. When confining his views and desires to the acquisition of worldly good, he aimed at engrossing the affections, the services, the honors, and the wealth of the world; he now "lengthens the cords, and strengthens the stakes" of his selfishness; carries forward his aims, his desires, and exertions towards eternity; sets himself to pray, to read his Bible, and become marvelously religious; and would fain engross the affections, and enlist the powers, and command the services of all heaven, and of the eternal God. While his views were confined to earthly things, he was satisfied that men should be his servants; but now, in the selfish pursuit of his own eternal happiness, he would fain call in all the attributes of Jehovah to serve him. But in all this there is no change of heart; he may have often changed in the choice of means, but his end has been always the same; his own happiness has been his idol.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON I. SINNERS BOUND TO CHANGE THEIR OWN HEARTS paragraph 24 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

A change of heart, then, consists in changing the controlling preference of the mind in regard to the end of pursuit. The selfish heart is a preference of self-interest to the glory of God and the interests of his kingdom. A new heart consists in a preference of the glory of God and the interests of his kingdom to one's own happiness. In other words, it is a change from selfishness to benevolence, from having a supreme regard to one's own interest to an absorbing and controlling choice of the happiness and glory of God and his kingdom.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON I. SINNERS BOUND TO CHANGE THEIR OWN HEARTS paragraph 26 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

Thus the world is divided into two great political parties; the difference between them is, that one party choose Satan as the god of this world, yield obedience to his laws, and are devoted to his interest. Selfishness is the law of Satan's empire, and all impenitent sinners yield it a willing obedience. The other party choose Jehovah for their governor, and consecrate themselves, with all their interests, to his service and glory. Nor does this change imply a constitutional alteration of the powers of body or mind, any more than a change of mind in regard to the form or administration of a human government.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON I. SINNERS BOUND TO CHANGE THEIR OWN HEARTS paragraph 44 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

Their preference of sin is their own voluntary act. They make self-gratification the rule to which they conform all their conduct. When they come into being, the first principle that we discover in their conduct, is their determination to gratify themselves. It soon comes to pass that any effort to thwart them in the gratification of their appetites, is met by them with strong resistance, they seem to set their hearts full to purpose their own happiness, and gratify themselves, come what will; and thus they will successively make war on their nurse, their parents, and their God, when ever they find that their requirements prohibit the pursuit of this end. Now this is purely a voluntary state of mind. This state of mind is not a subject of creation, it is entirely the result of temptation to selfishness, arising out of the circumstances under which the child comes into being. This preference to selfishness is suffered by the sinner to grow with his growth and strengthen with his strength, until this desperately wicked heart bears him onward to the gates of hell.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON I. SINNERS BOUND TO CHANGE THEIR OWN HEARTS paragraph 58 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

The work of conversion is spoken of in the Bible as a work of exceeding great power; and I once heard a clergyman, expatiating upon the great powers of God in conversion -- although he appeared to view it as a physical alteration of the constitution of man, as the implantation of a new principle, or taste -- assert that it was a greater exertion of power than that which hung out the heavens. The reason which he assigned for its being such a great exertion of power was, that in the creation of the material universe, he had no opposition, but in the conversion of a soul, he had all the powers of hell to oppose him. Now this is whimsical and ridiculous enough. As if the opposition of hell could oppose any obstacle in the way of physical Omnipotence. The power which God exerts in the conversion of a soul, is moral power; it is that kind of power by which a statesman sways the mind of a senate; or by which an advocate moves and bows the heart of a jury; by which "David bowed the heart of all Israel, as the heart of one man." Now when we consider the deep-rooted selfishness of the sinner; his long cherished habits of sin; his multifarious excuses and refuges of lies; it is a most sublime exhibition of wisdom and of moral power to pursue him step by step with truth, to hunt him from his refuges of lies, to constrain him by the force of argument alone, to yield up his selfishness and dedicate himself to the service of God. This reflects a glory and a lustre over the truth of God and the agency of the Holy Spirit, that at once delights and amazes the beholder.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON I. SINNERS BOUND TO CHANGE THEIR OWN HEARTS paragraph 64 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

I answer, No! Had Adam kept what truth he knew steadily before his mind, he doubtless would have resisted the temptation; but suffering his mind to be diverted from the reasons for obedience to the motives to disobedience, he failed, of course. When he had fallen, and selfishness had become predominant, he was averse to knowing and weighing the reasons for turning again to God; and if ever he was turned the Spirit of God must have pressed the subject upon him. So with every sinner: he at first sins against what knowledge he has by overlooking the motives to obedience, and yielding himself up to the motives to disobedience, and when once he has adopted the selfish principle, his ignorance becomes wilful and sinful, and unless the Spirit of God induce him, he will not see. He knows the truth to a sufficient extent to leave him without excuse, but he will not consider it and let it have its effect upon him.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON I. SINNERS BOUND TO CHANGE THEIR OWN HEARTS paragraph 65 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

But the objector may still ask, Is it not true, after all, if a full and sufficiently impressive knowledge of truth is all that is necessary to subdue the sinner, that he only needs to know the true character of God to love it, and that his enmity against God arises out of his false notions of him? Is it not a false and not the true character of God that he hates? I answer, No! It is the true character of God that he hates. He hates God for what he is, and not for what he is not. The sinner's character is selfishness: God's character is benevolence. These are eternal opposites. The sinner hates God because he is opposed to his selfishness. While the man remains selfish, it is absurd to say that he is reconciled to the true character of God. But is not his ignorance the cause of his selfishness? No! he knows better than to be selfish. It is true he does not, nor will he unless compelled by the Holy Spirit, consider the unreasonableness of selfishness. The work of the Holy Spirit does not consist merely in giving instruction, but in compelling him to consider truths which he already knows -- to think upon his ways and turn to the Lord. He urges upon his attention and consideration those motives which he hates to consider and feel the weight of. It is probable, if not certain, that had all the motives to obedience been broadly before the mind of Adam, or any other sinner, and had the mind duly considered them at the time, he would not have sinned. But the fact is, sinners do not set what truth they know before the mind, but divert the attention and rush on to hell.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON I. SINNERS BOUND TO CHANGE THEIR OWN HEARTS paragraph 81 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

Few more mischievous sentiments have ever been broached, than that there is no philosophical connexion between means and end in the conversion of sinners; that there is no natural adaptedness in the motives of the Gospel to annihilate the sinner's selfishness, and lead him to submit to God. This idea is a part of the scheme of physical depravity. It considers regeneration as a change in the substance of the mind; as effected by the direct physical agency of the Spirit of God, irrespective of truth. If this were a correct view of regeneration, it would be manifest that there could be no connexion between the means and the end. For if the work be a physical creation, performed by the direct and physical power of the Holy Ghost, then certainly it is effected by no means whatever. But so far is this from truth, that no sinner ever was or ever will be converted, but by means wisely and philosophically adapted to this end.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON II. HOW TO CHANGE YOUR HEART paragraph 12 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

I endeavored to show that a change of heart is not that in which a sinner is passive, but that in which he is active. That the change is not physical, but moral. That it is the sinner's own act. That it consists in changing his mind, or disposition, in regard to the supreme object of pursuit. A change in the end at which he aims, and not merely in the means of obtaining his end. A change in the governing choice or preference of the mind. That it consists in preferring the glory of God, and the interests of his kingdom, to one's own happiness, and to every thing else. That it is a change from a state of selfishness in which a person prefers his own interest above every thing else, to that disinterested benevolence that prefers God's happiness and glory, and the interests of his kingdom, to his own private happiness.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON II. HOW TO CHANGE YOUR HEART paragraph 22 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

But when the business of the day is past, and other objects cease to crowd upon his attention, this preference of home, of wife and family, comes forth and directs the thoughts to those beloved objects. No sooner are they thus bidden before the mind, than the corresponding emotions arise, and all the father and the husband are awake and felt to enkindle in his heart. So the Christian, when his thoughts are intensely occupied with business or study, may have no sensible emotions of love to God existing in his mind. Still, if a Christian, his preference for God will have its influence over all his conduct, he will neither act nor feel like an ungodly man under similar circumstances; he will not curse, nor swear, nor get drunk; he will not cheat, nor lie, nor act as if under the dominion of unmingled selfishness; but his preference for God will so modify and govern his deportment, that while he has no sensible or felt enjoyment of the presence of God, he is indirectly influenced in all his ways by a regard to his glory. And when the bustle of business is past, his abiding preference for God naturally directs his thoughts to him, and to the things of his kingdom; when, of course, corresponding feelings or emotions arise in his mind, and warm emotions of love enkindle, and glow, and happify the soul. He understands the declaration of the Psalmist, when he says, "While I mused the fire burned."

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON II. HOW TO CHANGE YOUR HEART paragraph 28 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

And here you ought to understand that there are three classes of motives that decide the will: First, those that are purely selfish. Selfishness is the preference of one's own interest and happiness to God and his glory. Whenever the will chooses, directly or indirectly, under the influence of selfishness, the choice is sinful, for all selfishness is sin,

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON II. HOW TO CHANGE YOUR HEART paragraph 31 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

The Bible never appeals to selfishness. It often addresses self-love, or the hopes and fears of men; because self-love, or a constitutional love of happiness, or dread of misery, is not in itself sinful. By thus appealing to the hopes, fears, and conscience, the mind, even of selfish beings, is led to such an investigation as to prepare the way for the enlightened and powerful remonstrances of conscience. Thus the investigation is carried on under the influence of these principles; but it is not the constitutional principle of self-love that finally determines the mind in its ultimate choice of obedience to God. When, under the combined influence of hope, fear, and conscience, the mind has been led to the full investigation and consideration of the claims of God, - when these principles have influenced the mind so far as to admit and cherish the influences of the Holy Spirit, as that it becomes enlightened, and is led to see what duty is, the mind is then ripe for a decision; conscience then has firm footing; it then has the opportunity of exerting its greatest power upon the will. And if the will decide virtuously, the attention is not at the instant occupied either with hopes or fears, or with those considerations that excite them. But at the moment when the decision is made, the attention must be occupied either with the reasonableness, fitness and propriety of its Maker's claims, or with the hatefulness of sin, or the stability of his truth. The decision of the will, or the change of preference is made, not mainly because, at the instant, you hope to be saved or fear to be damned, but because to act thus is right; [because] to obey God, to serve him, to honor him, and promote his glory, is reasonable, and right, and just. This is a virtuous decision: this is a change of heart. It is true, the offer of pardon and acceptance has a powerful influence, by more fully demonstrating the unreasonableness of rebellion against such a God. While in despair, the sinner would flee rather than submit. But the offer of reconciliation annihilates the influence of despair, and gives to conscience its utmost power.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON II. HOW TO CHANGE YOUR HEART paragraph 36 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

1. Fix your mind upon the unreasonableness and hatefulness of selfishness. Selfishness is the pursuit of one's own happiness as a supreme good; this is in itself inconsistent with the glory of God and the highest happiness of his kingdom. You must be sensible that you have always, directly or indirectly, aimed at promoting your own happiness in all that you have done; that God's glory and happiness, and the interests of his kingdom, have not been the leading motive of your life; that you have not served God, but have served yourself. But your individual happiness is of trifling importance, compared with the happiness and glory of God and the interests of his immense kingdom. To pursue, therefore, as a supreme good, your own happiness, is to prefer an infinitely less to an infinitely greater good, simply because it is your own. Is this virtue? Is this public spirit? Is this benevolence? Is this loving God supremely, or your neighbor as yourself? No, it is exalting your own happiness into the place of God; it is placing yourself as a center of the universe, and an attempt to cause God and all his creatures to revolve around you as your satellites.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON II. HOW TO CHANGE YOUR HEART paragraph 37 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

Your success, in pushing your selfish aims, would ruin the universe. A selfish being can never be happy until his selfishness be fully gratified. It is certain, therefore, that but one selfish being can be fully gratified. Selfishness aims at appropriating all good to self. Give a selfish man a township, and he covets a state; give him a state, and he longs for a nation; give him a continent, and he cannot rest without the world: give him a world, and he is wretched if there is nothing more to gain. Give him all authority on earth, and while there was a God to rule the universe, his selfish heart would rankle with insatiable desire, until the world, the universe, and God himself were prostrate at his feet his ambition could not be satisfied, his selfish heart could not rest. If, then, you could succeed in your selfish aims, your success would subordinate and injure, if not ruin every body else.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON II. HOW TO CHANGE YOUR HEART paragraph 38 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

Is this right? But could you succeed in subduing the universe to yourself, then your happiness would not be obtained; for a selfish moral agent cannot be happy. Could you ascend the throne of Jehovah; could you wield the scepter of universal government; could you appropriate to yourself the honor and the wealth of the entire universe; could you receive the homage, the obedience of God and all his creatures, yet the very elements of your nature would be outraged, and while in the exercise of selfishness, conscience would condemn you, the very laws of your moral constitution would mutiny; self- accusation and reproach would rankle in your heart, and, in spite of you, you would be forced to abhor yourself.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON II. HOW TO CHANGE YOUR HEART paragraph 39 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

Again. While you are selfish, all moral beings must hate and despise you; and it is impossible for a moral being to be happy under the consciousness of being deservedly hated and despised. The love of approbation is a law of our nature, it is laid in the very constitution of the mind by the hand that formed it. It is, therefore, as impossible for us to be happy under the consciousness that we are deservedly hated, as it is that we should alter the very structure of our being. It is in vain, therefore, for you to expect to be happy in the exercise of selfishness. God, angels and saints, wicked men and devils, the entire universe of moral beings must be conscientiously and heartily opposed to you while you sustain that character - while conscience gives forth the verdict that you deserve their hatred, and pronounces you unfit for any other world than hell.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON II. HOW TO CHANGE YOUR HEART paragraph 40 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

[2. Consider the guilt of selfishness.]

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON II. HOW TO CHANGE YOUR HEART paragraph 41 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

In the next place, look at the guilt of this. No thanks to you, if there is a vestige of virtue or happiness in the universe. If your example should have its natural influence, and not be counteracted by God, it would, like a little leaven, leaven the whole lump. If all your acquaintances copied your example, and their acquaintances theirs, and so on, you can easily see that your influence would soon destroy all benevolence, and introduce universal selfishness and rebellion against God. No thanks to you, if there is an individual in the universe that respects the government of God. You have never obeyed it, and all your influences have been against it; and if God had not been constantly wakeful in using counteracting influences, his government had long since been demolished, and virtue and obedience, and love to God and man had been banished from the world.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON II. HOW TO CHANGE YOUR HEART paragraph 42 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

Again, your influence has tended to establish for ever the dominion of Satan over men. Selfishness is the law of Satan's empire. You have hitherto perfectly obeyed it; and as example preaches louder than precept, you have used the most powerful means possible to induce all mankind to obey the devil. If God has a virtuous subject on earth, if all men are not in league with hell, and, by their example at least, shouting forth, "O Satan, live for ever!" no thanks to you, for the legitimate tendency of your conduct had been to produce this horrible result.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON II. HOW TO CHANGE YOUR HEART paragraph 44 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

Now, look at the guilt of this. The guilt of any action is equal to the evils which it has a natural tendency to produce. Now look at this. Your selfishness has the natural, and, if unrestrained, the inevitable tendency to ruin the world, to destroy God's government, to establish Satan's, and to people hell with all mankind.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON II. HOW TO CHANGE YOUR HEART paragraph 49 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

But again look at the utility of benevolence. It is a matter of human consciousness that the mind is so constituted that benevolent affections are the source of happiness, and malevolent ones the source of misery. God's happiness consists in his benevolence. Wherever unmingled benevolence is, there is peace. If perfect benevolence reigned throughout the universe, universal happiness would be the inevitable result. The happiness of heaven is perfect, because benevolence is there perfect. They love God with all their heart, and soul, and mind, and strength, and their neighbors as themselves; and who that knows the joy there is in holy love, does not know that the full tide of benevolence is but another name for the full tide of happiness? Perfect benevolence to God and man would at once give us a share in all the happiness of earth and heaven. Benevolence is good will, or willing good to the object of it. If we desire the happiness of others, their happiness will increase our own, according to the strength of our desire. If we desire their welfare as much as we do our own, we are made as happy by good, known to be conferred on them as upon ourselves; and nothing but selfishness prevents our tasting the cup of every man's happiness, and sharing equally with him in all his joys. If we supremely desire the happiness and glory of God, the fact that he is infinitely and immutably happy and glorious, and that he will glorify himself, and that "the whole earth shall be full of his glory," will constitute our supreme joy. It will be to us a never failing source of pure, and high, and holy blessedness. And when we look abroad upon men, and see all the wickedness of earth; when, through the page of inspiration, we survey as with a telescope the deep caverns of the pit; when we listen to its wailings, and behold the lurid flashes of its fires, and contemplate the gnawings of the deathless worm; in all this we see only the legitimate results of selfishness. Selfishness is the discord of the soul: it is the jarring. and dissonance, and grating of hell's eternal anguish. Benevolence, on the other hand, is the melody of the soul. In its exercise, all the mental powers are harmonized, and breathe the sweetness of heaven's charming symphonies. To be happy, then, you must be benevolent. Selfishness, you see, is neither reasonable nor profitable. Its very nature is at war with happiness. It renders you odious to God, the abhorrence of heaven, the contempt of hell. It buries your good name, your ultimate self- esteem, your present and future happiness, in one common grave, and that beyond the hope of resurrection, unless you turn, renounce your selfishness, and obey the law of God.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON II. HOW TO CHANGE YOUR HEART paragraph 70 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

But, sinner, you have seen, in the progress of this discourse, the reasonableness of benevolence, and the hatefulness of selfishness. The right and the duty of God to govern you, and your obligations to obey. You have seen the reasonableness and utility of virtue; the unreasonableness, the guilt, and evil of sin. And now what say you? What is your present duty? Is it right? Is it reasonable? Is it expedient longer to pursue your selfish course? Is it not best, and right, and manly, and honorable, and time, to turn and obey your Maker? Look at the consequences of your present course, to yourself, your friends over whom you have influence, to the church, and to the world. Will you continue to cast firebrands, arrows, and death, - to throw all your influence, your time and talents, your body and soul, into the scale of selfishness! Shall all your influence continue to be upon the wrong side, to increase the wickedness and misery of earth, to gratify the devil and grieve the Son of God? Sinner, if you go to hell, you ought to be willing to go alone; company will not mitigate, but increase your pain. Ought you not then, instantly, to throw all your influence into the other scale; to exert yourself to roll back the tide of death, and save your fellow- men from hell? Do you see the reasonableness of this? What is your judgment in the case? Do not stop to look at your emotions, nor turn your eye in upon your present state of mind; but say, will you cease your rebellion, throw down your weapons, and enlist in the service of Jesus Christ? He has come to destroy the works of the devil, to demolish his empire, and re- establish the government of God in the hearts of men. Are you willing that he should govern the world? Is this your choice? If allowed to vote, would you elect him as supreme Governor of the world? Will you obey him yourself? But do you reply, "Oh! I am so great a sinner, I fear there is no mercy for me?" That is not the question. The question is not, whether he will pardon you, but whether you will obey him. If he saw it not wise to pardon you, if the circumstances of his government require your damnation, is it not on that account the less your duty to obey him. The question for you to settle is, whether you will obey him, and leave the question [matter] of your salvation for him to settle, in view of all the circumstances of the case. He is infinitely wise, and as benevolent as he is wise. You ought, therefore, cheerfully to submit your final destiny to him, to make your duty the object of your attention, and obedience your constant aim. The atonement is full and perfect. The presumption is, that nothing is in the way of your salvation but your impenitence and unbelief; and indeed you have the promise, that on condition of submission to his will, you shall have eternal life. Do you see what you ought to do, and are you willing to do it? "Choose this day whom you will serve." To choose God and his services - to prefer these to your own interest and to every thing else, is to change your heart. Have you done it? Do you still ask, how shall I do it? You might with much more propriety ask, when the meeting is dismissed, how shall I go home? To go home would require two things, first, to be willing; secondly, to put your body in motion. But here, no muscular power is needed. But one thing is requisite, that is a willing mind. Your consent is all that is needed. Be willing to do your duty, [and do it,] and the work is done.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON II. HOW TO CHANGE YOUR HEART paragraph 88 Ezek. 18-31.--"Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

Lastly. I remark, that from this subject it will be seen that a death- bed is but a poor place for repentance. Many are expecting, that if they neglect repentance until they come upon a bed of death, that then they shall repent and give their hearts to God. But alas! how vain the hope! In the langour and exhaustion, the pain and distraction, the trembling and the anxiety of a death-bed, what opportunity or power is there for that fixedness and intensity of attention that are requisite to break the power of selfishness and change the entire current of the soul? To think, is labor; to think intensely, is exhausting labor, even to a man in health. But, oh! upon a bed of death, to have the intricate accounts of life to look over, the subject of the soul's character and destiny to ponder and understand; to hold the agonized mind in warm and distressing contact with the great truths of revelation, until the heart is melted and broken, rest assured, is ordinarily, if not always, too great an effort for a dying man. Be it known to all men, that, as a general truth, to which there are but few exceptions, men die as they live, and no dependence can be placed upon those waverings, and flickerings, and gleamings forth of the struggling mind, while the body, all weakness and pain, is breaking down to usher it into the presence of its Maker. Now is your time, in the wakefulness and strength of your powers, while the command to make to you a new heart and a new spirit, and the reasons for the performance of this duty lie fully before you; while the gate of heaven stands open, and mercy, with bleeding hands, beckons you to come; while the pearl of great price is tendered to your acceptance, seize the present moment, and lay hold upon eternal life.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON III. TRADITIONS OF THE ELDERS paragraph 23 Matthew, 15-6.-"Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect, by your tradition."

Again there are others, who make the law of God of no effect, by regarding it simply as of a negative character, as designed to prohibit the outbreakings of positive selfishness, rather than as requiring the existence and practice of all positive benevolence and virtue. These, content themselves with declaiming against out-breaking sins, regarding the law, simply, as prohibitory, they employ themselves in resisting the tide of corruption as it flows from the deep fountain of the heart, without enjoining and insisting upon the positive character of the law, as requiring every creature of God to devote all his powers to his service and giving himself up to doing good and promoting the interest of Christ's kingdom.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON III. TRADITIONS OF THE ELDERS paragraph 31 Matthew, 15-6.-"Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect, by your tradition."

It is a notorious fact that even the penalty of death is not in all cases sufficient to prevent the perpetration of murder; and is it philosophy, is it common sense, is it to be believed, is it possible, that to do away this penalty, or to mitigate its pain, or to substitute a less motive in its place, would be sufficient to prevent the crime? So it is seen to be a naked matter of fact, that the penalty of eternal death, does not, in those cases where it is admitted to be eternal, restrain from sin. This infinite penalty has not sufficient weight and power to counteract the selfishness of the human heart. And now by what mad logic of earth or hell, do these men arrive at the sage conclusion, that to do away this penalty, would have a tendency to promote obedience to God? It is in vain to say, that the excellence and blessedness of the precept, is a sufficient motive to secure obedience; this is not only contrary to fact, but contrary to all philosophy. It is admitted that there is a high and powerful motive, held out in the precept itself; the happiness of virtue is of itself a great inducement to be virtuous; but still this is only one part of the sanction of the law; from the nature of mind it is indispensable, not only that rewards to obedience should be offered, but that evil should be threatened to disobedience; and especially is this most manifest in a universe, where virtue is to be tested by temptation. Is it not certain, then, that could they succeed in establishing the doctrine of the old serpent, that the wicked shall not die; they would make the commandment of God of no effect, and introduce universal rebellion and misrule into the empire of Jehovah. If an infinite penalty does not sufficiently restrain the selfishness of the human heart; what delirious babble is it to say, that a finite one would do it. If the threatened pains of eternal death, be not sufficient to stay the overflowings of sin; shall the simple consideration of the pains of this short life, roll back the insurgent waves of rebellion against high heaven, and beget peace on earth, and good-will to men? It cannot be.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON III. TRADITIONS OF THE ELDERS paragraph 32 Matthew, 15-6.-"Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect, by your tradition."

Will it here be said, that the penalty of eternal death, only appeals to the fears of men; that men cannot be frightened into obedience to God? The truth is, that both fear and hope, are innate in the human mind, and are both implanted there as principles upon which moral government can act. Self-love, or the love of happiness, and dread of misery, differs entirely in its nature from selfishness. To these, to both hope and fear, both law and gospel continually make their appeals.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON III. TRADITIONS OF THE ELDERS paragraph 63 Matthew, 15-6.-"Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect, by your tradition."

But take away the foundation, and the superstructure falls of course. Annihilate the dogma of physical depravity and inability; show the sinner that his depravity is a thing of his own creation; that his wicked heart is his voluntary selfishness, and the rejection of God and his commandments; that it is not for his nature, but for his conduct, that he is blamed; show him that what he calls his cannot, is his will not, and you destroy the very foundation upon which his Univeralism is built, you convince him of his sin, and shut him up to the faith of Christ.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON V. TOTAL DEPRAVITY paragraph 12 Romans, 6:7.--"The carnal mind is enimity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."

II. I am to show what is meant by the carnal mind, as used in the text. The proper translation of this text is, the minding of the flesh is enmity against God. It is a voluntary state of mind. It is that state of supreme selfishness, in which all men are, previous to their conversion to God.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON V. TOTAL DEPRAVITY paragraph 14 Romans, 6:7.--"The carnal mind is enimity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."

They conform their lives, and all their actions to this rule of action, which they have established for themselves, which is nothing more nor less, than voluntary selfishness; or a controlling and abiding preference of self-gratification, above the commandments, authority, and glory of God.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON V. TOTAL DEPRAVITY paragraph 60 Romans, 6:7.--"The carnal mind is enimity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."

8th. You see, why sinners find it so hard to be religious. The total difficulty, consists in their unwillingness to yield up their selfishness.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON VI. WHY SINNERS HATE GOD paragraph 27 John, 15:25.--"They have hated me without a cause."

II. Sinners do hate God, because they are supremely selfish; and he is, as he ought to be, infinitely opposed to their supreme object of pursuit. The first thing that we discover, in the conduct of little children, is, the desire of self-gratification. At what period of their existence, their desire becomes selfishness, it is impossible for us to say. That a proper desire to gratify an appetite for food, and drink, and all our constitutional appetites, is not sinful, is manifest. These appetites, have no moral character; and their proper indulgence, is not sinful. But whenever their indulgence is inordinate, or whenever the indulgence of our appetites, comes in collision with the requirements of God; whenever, and wherever we indulge our constitutional propensities, when we are under an obligation to abstain from an indulgence, in every such case, we sin; for in all these cases we are selfish; we make our own indulgence, the rule of our duty, instead of the requirement of God. We consent to indulge ourselves, at the public expense, and in a way that is inconsistent with the glory of God, and the highest good of his universe. This is the essence, and the history of all sin. Now, at whatever period of our existence, we first prefer self-gratification, to our duty to God, when we first make self-gratification the supreme object of choice; at what particular moment self-gratification comes to be the ruling principle of our conduct, and the highest aim of our lives, it is perhaps impossible for us to determine.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON VI. WHY SINNERS HATE GOD paragraph 29 John, 15:25.--"They have hated me without a cause."

It is to trifle with the word of God. It is tempting the Holy Ghost. It is a stupid, not to say a willful perversion of the truth of God. Now, the great reason why sinners are opposed to God, is not, that there is any defect in their nature, rendering their opposition physically necessary, but because he is irreconcilably opposed to their selfishness. He is infinitely opposed to the supreme end of their pursuit, that is, to their obtaining happiness, in a way, that is inconsistent with HIS glory, and the happiness of other beings.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON VI. WHY SINNERS HATE GOD paragraph 43 John, 15:25.--"They have hated me without a cause."

The universally sinful conduct of men is easily and naturally accounted for, upon the principles of this discourse. They universally adopt in the outset, the principle of selfishness as their grand rule of action, and this from the very laws of their mental constitution, vitiates all their moral conduct, and gives a sinful character to every moral action.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON VI. WHY SINNERS HATE GOD paragraph 44 John, 15:25.--"They have hated me without a cause."

If it be asked how it happens that children universally adopt the principle of selfishness, unless their nature is sinful. I answer, that they adopt this principle of self gratification or selfishness; because they possess human nature, and come into being under the peculiar circumstances in which all the children of Adam are born since the fall: but not because human nature is itself sinful. The cause of their becoming sinners, is to be found in their nature's being what it is, and surrounded by the peculiar circumstances of temptation to which they are exposed in a world of sinners.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON VI. WHY SINNERS HATE GOD paragraph 45 John, 15:25.--"They have hated me without a cause."

All the constitutional appetites and propensities of body and mind, are in themselves innocent; but when strongly excited are a powerful temptation to prohibited indulgence. To these constitutional appetites or propensities, so many appeals of temptation are made, as universally to lead human beings to sin. Adam was created in the perfection of manhood, certainly not with a sinful nature, and yet, an appeal to his innocent constitutional appetites led him into sin. If adult Adam, without a sinful nature, and after a season of obedience and perfect holiness, was led to change his mind by an appeal to his innocent constitutional propensities; how can the fact that infants, possessing the same nature with Adam and surrounded by circumstances of still greater temptation, universally fall into sin, prove that their nature is itself sinful? Is such an inference called for? Is it legitimate? What, holy and adult Adam, is led, by an appeal to his innocent constitution to adopt the principle of selfishness, and no suspicion is, or can be entertained, that he had a sinful nature; but if little children under circumstances of temptation aggravated by the fall are led into sin, we are to believe that their nature is sinful! This is wonderful philosophy; and what heightens the absurdity is, that in order to admit the sinfulness of nature, we must believe sin to consist in the substance of the constitution, instead of voluntary action; which is a thing impossible.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON VI. WHY SINNERS HATE GOD paragraph 48 John, 15:25.--"They have hated me without a cause."

All experience shows, that from the laws of our constitution we are influenced in our conduct directly or indirectly by the supreme preference of our minds. In other words, when we desire a thing supremely, it is natural to us to pursue this object of desire; we may have desires for an object which we do not pursue. But it is a contradiction to say that we do not pursue the object of supreme desire. Supreme desire is nothing else than a supreme or controlling choice, and as certain as the will controls the actions; so certainly, and so naturally, shall we pursue that object which we supremely desire. The fact therefore, that sinners adopt the principle of supreme selfishness, renders it certain and natural, while their selfishness continues to be predominant, that they will sin, and only sin, and this is in strict accordance with, or rather the result of the laws of their mental constitution. While they maintain their supreme selfishness, obedience is impossible. This is the reason why "the carnal mind, or the minding of the flesh, is not subject to the law of God neither indeed can be." No wonder therefore, that sinners, whose supreme preference is selfish, should find it very natural for them to sin, and extremely difficult to do anything else than sin. This being a fact of universal observation, has led mankind to ascribe the sins of men to their nature; and a great deal of fault has been found with nature itself; when the fact is, that sin is only an abuse of the powers of nature. Men have very extensively overlooked the fact; that a deep seated, but voluntary preference for sin, was the foundation and fountain and cause of all other sins. The only sense in which sin is natural to men is, that it is natural for mind to be influenced in its individual exercises by a supreme preference or choice of any object. It will therefore, always be natural for a sinner to sin, until he changes the supreme preference of his mind, and prefers the glory of God and the interests of his kingdom to his own separate and opposing interests.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON VI. WHY SINNERS HATE GOD paragraph 55 John, 15:25.--"They have hated me without a cause."

7th. The better God is, the more sinners hate him. The better he is, the more he is opposed to their selfishness: and the more he opposes their selfishness, while they remain selfish, the more they are provoked with him.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON VI. WHY SINNERS HATE GOD paragraph 57 John, 15:25.--"They have hated me without a cause."

8th. Again. The more he tries to do them good, while they remain impenitent, the more they will hate him. While they retain their selfishness, all his efforts to restrain it, to hedge them in, to prevent the accomplishment of their selfish desires; the more he interposes to tear away their idols; to wean them from the world, the more he embitters every cup of joy with which they attempt to satisfy themselves, the more means he uses to reclaim, and sanctify and save; if their selfishness remain unbroken, the more deeply and eternally will they hate him.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON IX. STEWARDSHIP paragraph 50 Luke, 16:2--"Give an account of thy stewardship."

Again. Impenitent sinners will be finally and eternally disgraced. Do you not account it a disgrace to a man, to be detected in fraud and every species of knavery, in transacting the business of his employer? Is not such a man deservedly thrown out of business; is he not a disgrace to himself and his family; can any body trust him? How then will you appear before an injured God, and an injured universe--a God whose laws and rights you have despised--a universe with whose interests you have been at war? How will you, in the solemn judgment, be disgraced, your name execrated, and you become the hissing and contempt of hell, for the numberless frauds and villanies you have practised upon God and upon his creatures! But perhaps you are a professor of religion: Will your profession cover up your selfishness and vile hypocrisy, while you have defrauded God, spent his money upon your lusts, and accounted those as beggars, who came with drafts upon you to pay over into his treasury? How will you hold up your head in the face of heaven? How dare you now pray; how dare you sit at the communion table; how dare you profess the religion of Jesus Christ, if you have set up a private interest, and do not consider all that you have as his, and use it all for his glory?

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON XII. LOVE OF THE WORLD paragraph 20 I John, 2:15.--"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

God requires you to love your neighbour as yourself. Again he says, "let every one look not upon his own things, but upon the things of others." "Let every one seek not his own, but another's wealth." These are express requirements of God; they are the very spirit and substance of the Gospel. Benevolence is a desire to do good to others. A willingness to deny self, for the purpose of promoting the interest of your neighbor, is the very spirit of Christ, it is the heart and soul of his Gospel. Now, suppose a man, in his bargains with others, aims only at promoting his own interest; he seeks not another's, but his own wealth. He looks not to the welfare of others, but his eye and his heart are upon his own side of the bargain. He does not aim at benefiting the individual with whom he transacts business; his only object is to take care of himself. This is the very opposite of the spirit of the Gospel. Does this man love his neighbour as himself? Does he love that God supremely, who has prohibited all selfishness, on pain of eternal death? No! If he loved God, he would not disobey him, for the sake of making money. If he loved his neighbor as himself; if he felt that it was more blessed to give than to receive; if he had the spirit of the Gospel, he would of course feel and manifest as great a desire for the interest of those with whom he deals, as for his own interest. He would be as anxious to give, as to get a good bargain; nay, he would be more so. Self-denial, to promote the happiness and the interest of others, would be his joy, would constitute his happiness, would be that to which he would be inclined, of course. And now let me ask you who are here present, can you deny this principle? What then is your spiritual state? Have you the love of God in you? How do you transact business? Do you consult the interest of those with whom you deal, as much as you do your own? or in all your bargains, do you aim simply at securing a profit to yourself? If you do, the love of God is not in you. You have not the beginning of piety in your heart.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON XII. LOVE OF THE WORLD paragraph 26 I John, 2:15.--"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

Cases of this kind often occur. A customer comes in; he is instantly measured from head to foot by every eye; they survey him all around, to see whether he understands the value of the articles which he wishes to purchase; whether it will be difficult, or otherwise, to get a good bargain out of him; whether it will do to set the price of goods high, and how high; and whether it is likely that he will buy much or little. And if he wishes to make a heavy bill, some of the first articles for which he inquires are put low; and thus baits are laid to lead him on, from step to step, under the idea that all the articles are low. All such management as this is supreme selfishness, it is fraud, and the very opposite of the spirit of Christ. For such a man to profess the love of God is naked hypocrisy.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON XII. LOVE OF THE WORLD paragraph 28 I John, 2:15.--"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

A man that does this cannot be consulting the interest of his neighbor at all. He must be acting on principles of pure selfishness. He takes the money without an equivalent, and consents that they should "spend it for that which is not bread, and their labor for that which satisfieth not." This is the direct opposite of the spirit of Christ.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON XII. LOVE OF THE WORLD paragraph 33 I John, 2:15.--"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

Business principles, or the principles of commercial justice, are the principles of supreme selfishness. They have been established by selfish men, for selfish purposes, without even the pretence of conformity to the law of love. Upon these principles it is neither demanded, nor expected, that any one should seek another's wealth; but that every one should take care of himself, purchase as low, and sell as high as he can; take advantage of the state of the market, the scarcity of the articles in which he deals; and, in short, to go the whole circle of selfish projects, to promote the interest of self. Can a man love God supremely, and his neighbor as himself, who daily and habitually transacts business upon the principles of commercial justice, founded, as they are, in that which is the direct opposite of the requirement of God? Every day engaged in business transactions, the sum and substance, the aggregate, and the detail of which are designed to promote self-interest that do not even pretend to aim at the promotion of the interest of others; but self is the beginning, the middle, and the end of the whole matter.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON XII. LOVE OF THE WORLD paragraph 57 I John, 2:15.--"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

24th. All those who are more parsimonious in their expenditures for the kingdom of Christ, than in their expenditures upon themselves and their families, love the world supremely. There are multitudes of professedly pious people who seem to think it a Christian duty to have every thing connected with the worship and service of God of the cheapest kind, while in their own houses, and about their own persons, and that of their families, they practice upon a very different principle. If a church is to be fitted up, every thing must be done with as little expense as possible. If there are carpets, they must be of the cheapest kind; if there are stoves, or cushions, or lights, or other conveniences, almost any thing will answer, provided it is cheap; things are suffered to be out of order; filth is suffered to accumulate, and the house of God to lie waste; and all this is done under the pious pretence of Christian economy. Many churches in the country have no lamps, and some of them have no stoves, and others have the panes of glass broken out; the doors of others are so dilapidated that they will scarcely shut; others have the stoops rotten, and the church either not painted at all, or so faded, that if it was a dwelling house, you would suppose it the abode of the drunkard. Most of the churches in the country have no carpets; and in churches carpets are more needed than in any other house, to prevent the disturbance that always occurs where people are going out and in upon an uncarpeted floor; and in the city there are many who are entirely unwilling to be at the expense of fitting up a house of worship as commodiously as they fit up their own dwellings. Now, it is manifest, whatever may be the pretence, and however such things may be baptized by the name of Christian economy, all such conduct has its foundation in the love of the world, and in supreme selfishness. Men are always most free in appropriating their money to the promotion of the objects dearest to their hearts. This is simple matter of fact. If, therefore, the heart is set supremely upon honoring God with our substance, it is certain that if in any thing we are bountiful and liberal in our expenditures, it will be in fitting up places for his worship, and in all those things that are essential to decency, to comfort, and enjoyment in his service.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON XII. LOVE OF THE WORLD paragraph 63 I John, 2:15.--"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

Lastly. It is supreme selfishness, which is the direct opposite of the love of God and man. These considerations need only to be named, to be seen to be proof conclusive, that if any man love the world, the love of God is not in him.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON XII. LOVE OF THE WORLD paragraph 66 I John, 2:15.--"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

1. You can see from this subject, that if men should transact worldly business upon the principles of the Gospel, it would be infinitely better for the world in every respect. If every one sought to promote the happiness and interest of others, the amount of property, and of every other good, would be greatly increased. Some persons seem to suppose, that unless they consult solely their own interest, it is impossible that society should exist. What! they say, would you have us all seek not our own interest, but the interest of others? What then would become of our own interest? I answer, your interest would be secured, if, while you were mainly solicitous to benefit others, they were just as solicitous to benefit you. The secular interests of men would be thus as highly, and more highly advanced, than under the present arrangement of society, while the spirit that would be cherished and cultivated by this course of conduct, would shed a sweet, and healing, and refreshing influence over all the discords and disquietudes of selfishness; and peace, and love, and heaven, would reign in the bosoms of men.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON XII. LOVE OF THE WORLD paragraph 67 I John, 2:15.--"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

But does any one object and say, that inasmuch as worldly men will not practice upon these principles, it is impossible that Christians should, without giving up all the business of the world into their hands. This is a radical and ruinous mistake. Suppose it were known that Christians universally discarded all selfishness in their business, and acted upon principles of entire benevolence; that in all their dealings they sought the interest of those with whom they deal, equally with their own. No sooner would this fact be known, than worldly men would be forced to transact business upon these principles, or give up all the business of the world into the hands of Christians; for who would deal with a man who acted upon principles of supreme selfishness, when he might just as well transact business with those who would not only treat him with equity, but with entire benevolence; so that it is perfectly within the power of the church to compel worldly men to transact business upon Gospel principles, or not transact it at all. And woe to the church, if she does not reverse and annihilate the whole system of doing business on principles of selfishness.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON XII. LOVE OF THE WORLD paragraph 68 I John, 2:15.--"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

II. Perhaps some of you will say, if the doctrine of this sermon be true, who then can be saved? I answer, certainly not those who manage their affairs upon principles that are in direct opposition to the benevolence of the Gospel; who make commercial justice, which is founded in selfishness, the rule of their lives, and satisfy themselves with being honest in this sense of honesty, instead of being governed by the law of love; who seek their own, and not their neighbor's wealth; who mind earthly things, and account it more blessed to receive than to give. If there be any truth in the word of God, all such men are in the way to hell.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON XII. LOVE OF THE WORLD paragraph 70 I John, 2:15.--"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

IV. You see from this subject why it is that so few professors of religion have a spirit of prayer. The truth is, the love of God is not in them. Look around this great commercial city; nearly the whole population are here for the purposes of worldly gain. The principles upon which almost the entire business of the city is transacted, is that of supreme selfishness. How then can a spirit of prayer prevail in such a community as this. This same principle prevails almost universally through the country. Farmers, mechanics, merchants, and men and women of every occupation, without hesitation, transact their business upon selfish principles, and seek supremely their own and not their neighbor's wealth. It is impossible that the love of God should prevail in the church, or in any heart, while actuated by such principles.

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON XII. LOVE OF THE WORLD paragraph 71 I John, 2:15.--"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

V. You see from this subject why it is that young converts so uniformly wax cold in religion. Let any individual pass through one business season, acting upon business principles, and it is impossible that the love of God should be alive in his heart. He is assiduously cultivating and cherishing a spirit of selfishness; and in all his daily avocations, he does not so much as intend to seek the good of others, but his own good; and can we be at a loss for the reasons of such universal backsliding?

 

 


IMPORTANT SUBJECTS - SERMON XII. LOVE OF THE WORLD paragraph 75 I John, 2:15.--"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

IX. But do you ask, are nearly all the church wrong? I answer, that upon this subject they are wrong. In most things the church of the present day is orthodox in theory, but vastly heretical in practice. Nor is it any thing new for the church to be nearly all wrong. More than once or twice have nearly the entire body of the church departed from God, and satisfied themselves with the religion of selfishness.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE I - Self Deceivers paragraph 26

     A man may even feel an approbation of an abstract truth. This is what many persons suppose to be faith, the approbation which they feel for the character and government of God, and for the plan of salvation, when viewed abstractedly. Many persons, when they hear an eloquent sermon on the attributes or government of God, are set all in a glow at the sublimity and excellency displayed, when they have not a particle of true faith. I have heard of an infidel who would be moved even to ecstasy at such themes. The rational mind is so constituted that it naturally and necessarily approves of truth when viewed abstractedly. The wickedest devils in hell love it, if they can see it without its relation to themselves. If they could see the gospel without any relation that interferes with their own selfishness, they would not only see it to be true, but would heartily approve it. All hell, if they could view God in His absolute existence, without any relation to themselves, would heartily approve of His character. The reason why wicked men and devils hate God, is because they see Him in a relation to themselves. Their hearts rise up in rebellion, because they see Him opposed to their selfishness.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE II - False Professors paragraph 13

     There are many who make religion consist in certain acts of piety that do not interfere with their selfishness. You pray in the morning in your family, because you can do it then very conveniently, but do not suffer the service of Jehovah to interfere with the service of your own god's, or to stand in the way of your getting rich, or enjoying the world. The gods you serve make no complaint of being slighted or neglected for the service of Jehovah.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE II - False Professors paragraph 27

     There are many persons who profess to be the servants of God, but are eagerly engaged in gathering property, and calculating to retire to their country-seat by and by, and live at their ease. What do you mean? Has God given you a right to a perpetual Sabbath, as soon as you have made so much money? Did God tell you, when you professed to enter His service, to work hard so many years, and then you might have a perpetual holiday? Did He promise to excuse you after that from making the most of your time and talents, and let you live at ease the rest of your days? If your thoughts are set upon this notion, I tell you, you are not serving God, but your own selfishness and sloth.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE II - False Professors paragraph 30

     Who does not see that selfishness predominates in such persons? It shows the astonishing strength of selfishness. You often see the strength of selfishness showing itself in some such little thing more than in things that are greater. The real state of a man's mind stands out, that self-gratification is the law of his life, so strong that it will not give place, even in a trifle, to those great interests, for which he ought to be willing to lay down his life.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE II - False Professors paragraph 32

     You see what motive influences such a man. Suppose I wish to get him to subscribe for building a church, what must I urge? Why, I must show how it will improve the value of his property, or advance his party, or gratify his selfishness in some other way. If he is more excited by these motives, than he is by a desire to save perishing souls and advance the kingdom of Christ, you see that he has never given himself up to serve the Lord. He is still serving himself. He is more influenced by his selfish interests than by all those benevolent principles on which all religion turns. The character of a true servant of God is right opposite to this.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE II - False Professors paragraph 33

     Take the case of two servants, one devoted to his master's interests, and the other having no conscience or concern but to secure his wages. Go to one, and he throws into the shade all personal considerations, and enlists with heart and soul in achieving the object. The other will not act unless you present some selfish motive, unless you say, Do so, and I will raise your wages, or set you up in business, or the like. Is there not a radical difference between these two servants? Is not this an illustration of what actually takes place in our churches? Propose a plan of doing good that will cost nothing, and they will all go for it. But propose a plan which is going to affect their personal interest, to cost money, or take up time, in a busy season, and you will see they begin to divide. Some hesitate, some doubt, some raise objections, and some resolutely refuse. Some enlist at once, because they see it will do great good. Others stand back till you devise some way to excite their selfishness in its favor. What causes the difference? Some of them are serving their own gods.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE II - False Professors paragraph 45

     There are multitudes in the church, who show by their conduct, and even avow in their language, that their leading object is to secure their own salvation, and their grand determination is to get their own souls planted on the firm battlements of the heavenly Jerusalem, and walk the golden fields of Canaan above. If the Bible is not in error all such characters will go to hell. Their religion is pure selfishness. And "he that will save his life shall loose it, and he that will loose his life for my sake, shall save it."

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE II - False Professors paragraph 54

     You, who are performing religious duties from selfish motives, are in reality trying to make God your servant. If your own interest be the supreme object, all your religious services are only desires to induce God to promote your interests. Why do you pray, or keep the Sabbath, or give your property for religious objects? You answer, "for the sake of promoting my own salvation." Indeed! Not to glorify God, but to get to heaven! Don't you think the devil would do all that, if he thought he could gain his end by it---and be a devil still? The highest style of selfishness must be to get God, with all His attributes, enlisted in the service of your mighty self!

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE IV - Reproof, a Christian Duty paragraph 53

     It is important when you reprove your neighbor for sin, always to make him feel it is not a personal controversy with you, not a matter of selfishness on your part, or claiming any right of superiority, or to lord it over him, but that you reprove him in the name of the Lord, for the honor of God, because he has broken His law. If, by your manner, you in any way make the impression on his mind, that it is a personal controversy, or done for any private motive with you, he will invariably rise up against you, and resist, and perhaps retort upon you. But if you make the impression on his mind that it is done in the name of God, and bring him right up before God as an offender, he will find it exceedingly difficult to get away from you without at least confessing that he is wrong.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE V - True Saints paragraph 7

     II. Those who are actuated by hope and fear, or in other words, by self-love, or by selfishness.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE VI - Legal Religion paragraph 4

     Last Friday evening, you will remember, that in discoursing from this text, I mentioned three classes of professors of religion; those who truly love God and man, those who are actuated solely by selfishness or at most by self-love in their religious duties, and those who are actuated only by a regard for public opinion. I also mentioned several characteristics of the first class, by which they may be known. This evening I intend to mention several characteristics of the second class,

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE VI - Legal Religion paragraph 5

     THOSE PROFESSORS WHO ARE ACTUATED BY SELF-LOVE OR BY SELFISHNESS.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE VI - Legal Religion paragraph 8

     I will now proceed to mention some of the characteristics of the second class; those who are actuated in religion by self-love, or by selfishness, in whom hope and fear are the main springs of all they do in religion. And the things that I shall mention are such as, when they are seen, make it evident that the individual is actuated by a supreme regard to his own good, and that the fear of evil, or the hope of advantage to himself; is the foundation of all his conduct.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE VII - Religion of Public Opinion paragraph 5

     There is a plain distinction between self-love, or the simple desire of happiness, and selfishness. Self-love, the desire of happiness and dread of misery, is constitutional, it is a part of our frame as God made us and as He intended us to be; and its indulgence, within the limits of the law of God, is not sinful. Whenever it is indulged contrary to the law of God, it becomes sinful. When the desire of happiness or the dread of misery becomes the controlling principle, and we prefer our own gratification to some other greater interest, it becomes selfishness. When to avoid pain or procure happiness, we sacrifice other greater interests, we violate the great law of disinterested benevolence. It is no longer self-love, acting within lawful bounds, but selfishness.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE VII - Religion of Public Opinion paragraph 6

     In my last Friday evening Lecture, I described a class of professors of religion, who are moved to perform religious exercises by hope and fear. They are moved sometimes by self-love, and sometimes by selfishness. Their supreme object is not to glorify God, but to secure their own salvation. You will recollect that this class, and the class I had described before as the real friends of God, and man, agree in many things, and if you look only at the things in which they agree, you cannot distinguish between them. It is only by a close observation of those things in which they differ, that you can see that the main design of the latter class is not to glorify God, but to secure their own salvation. In that way we can see their supreme object developed, and see that when they do the same things, outwardly, which those do whose supreme object is to glorify God, they do them from entirely different motives, and consequently the acts themselves are, in the sight of God, of an entirely different character.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE VII - Religion of Public Opinion paragraph 9

     Observe, that impenitent sinners are always influenced by one of two things, in all that they do that appears like religion. Either they do them out of regard to mere natural principles, as compassion or self-love---principles that are constitutional in them---or from selfishness. They are done either out of regard to their own reputation or happiness, or the gratification of some natural principle in them, that has no moral character; and not from the love of God in them. They love the praise of men more than the praise of God.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE VIII - Conformity to the World paragraph 19

     1. The first reason why you are not to be conformed to this world in business, is that the principle of the world is that of supreme selfishness. This is true universally, in the pursuit of business. The whole course of business in the world is governed and regulated by the maxims of supreme and unmixed selfishness. It is regulated without the least regard to the commands of God, or the glory of God, or the welfare of their fellow men. The maxims of business generally current among business men, and the habits and usages of business men, are all based upon supreme selfishness. Who does not know, that in making bargains, the business men of the world consult their own interest, and seek their own benefit, and not the benefit of those they deal with? Who has ever heard of a worldly man of business making bargains, and doing business for the benefit of those he dealt with? No, it is always for their own benefit. And are Christians to do so? They are required to act on the very opposite principle to this: "Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth." They are required to copy the example of Jesus Christ. Did He ever make bargains for His own advantage?---And may His followers adopt the principle of the world---a principle that contains in it the seeds of hell! If Christians are to do this, is it not the most visionary thing on earth to suppose the world is ever going to be converted to the gospel.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE VIII - Conformity to the World paragraph 67

     There are a few persons who are pursuing greater objects than fashion. They are engaged in the scramble for political power, or they are eager for literary distinction, or they are striving for wealth. And they do not know that their hearts are set on fashion at all. They are following selfishness on a larger scale. But the great mass of the community are influenced mostly by these fluctuating fashions. To this class of persons it is a great and sore stumbling block, when they see professing Christians just as prompt and as eager to follow the changings of fashion as themselves. They see, and say, "What does their profession amount to, when they follow the fashions as much as anybody?" or, "Certainly it is right to follow the fashions, for see, the professing Christians do it as much as we."

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE IX - True and False Repentance paragraph 47

     2. False repentance is founded in selfishness.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE IX - True and False Repentance paragraph 48

     It may be simply a strong feeling of regret, in the mind of the individual, that he has done as he has, because he sees the evil consequences of it to himself, because it makes him miserable, or exposes him to the wrath of God, or injures his family or his friends, or because it produces some injury to himself in time or in eternity. All this is pure selfishness. He may feel remorse of conscience---biting, consuming REMORSE---and no true repentance. It may extend to fear---deep and dreadful fear---of the wrath of God and the pains of hell, and yet be purely selfish, and all the while there may be no such thing as a hearty abhorrence of sin, and no feelings of the heart going out after the convictions of the understanding, in regard to the infinite evil of sin.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE X - Dishonesty in Small Matters inconsistent with Honesty in any thing paragraph 24

     1. If he was actuated by a supreme regard to the authority of God, and if this was the habitual state of his mind, such a state of mind would be quite as apt to manifest itself in smaller matters as in large. Nay, where the temptation is small, he would be more certain to act conscientiously than in greater matters, because there is less to induce him to act otherwise. What is honesty? If a man has no other motives for acting honestly than mere selfishness, the devil is as honest as he is; for I dare say he is honest with his fellow devils, as far as it is for his interest or policy to be so. Is that honesty? Certainly not. And, therefore, if a man does not act honestly from higher motives than this, he is not honest at all, and if he appears to be honest in certain important matters, he has other motives than a regard to the honor of God.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE X - Dishonesty in Small Matters inconsistent with Honesty in any thing paragraph 28

     Our business here is to ascertain how this apparent discrepancy can consist with the declaration in the text. The Lord Jesus Christ has laid down the principle, that if a man is dishonest in small matters, he is not strictly honest at all. Now, here are facts, which to many appear to contradict this. We see many men that in small matters exhibit a great want of principle, and appear to be quite void of principle, while in larger things they appear to be honorable and even pious. This must be consistent, or Jesus Christ has affirmed a falsehood. That it is consistent with truth will be admitted, if we can show that their conduct in regard to larger matters can be accounted for on other principles than honesty of heart. If we can account for it on principles of mere selfishness, it will be admitted, that where a man is dishonest in small things, he is not really honest at all, however honestly he may act in regard to larger matters.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE X - Dishonesty in Small Matters inconsistent with Honesty in any thing paragraph 30

     They may know that certain small things are not likely to be mentioned in public, or to have a noise made about them, and so they may do such things, while the fear of disgrace deters them from doing the same things in regard to larger matters, because it will make a noise. What is this but one form of selfishness overbalancing another form? It is selfishness still, not honesty.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1836, LECTURE X - Dishonesty in Small Matters inconsistent with Honesty in any thing paragraph 66

     4. The man who, for the sake of gain, will sell rum, or intoxicating drinks, to his neighbor, and put a cup to his neighbor's mouth, and would thus consent to ruin him, soul and body, would consent to sell his neighbor into slavery to promote his own selfish interests, if he could do it with impunity. And if he did not rob and murder him for the sake of his money, it certainly would not be because the love of God or of man restrained him. If the love of self is so strong, that he will consent to do his neighbor the direct injury of selling him ardent spirits, nothing but selfishness under some other form, prevailing over the love of money, could prevent his selling men into slavery, robbing, or murdering them, to get their money. He might love his own reputation; he might fear the penalty of human law; he might fear the destruction of his own soul, so much as to restrain him from these acts of outrage and violence. But certainly it could not be the principle of love to God or man that would restrain him.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE I - True and False Conversions paragraph 8

     I. Show that the natural state of man is a state of pure selfishness.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE I - True and False Conversions paragraph 10

     III. That the New Birth consists in a change from selfishness to benevolence.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE I - True and False Conversions paragraph 13

     I. I am to show that the natural state of man, or that in which all men are found before conversion, is pure, unmingled selfishness.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE I - True and False Conversions paragraph 14

     By which I mean, that they have no gospel benevolence. Selfishness is regarding one's own happiness supremely, and seeking one's own good because it is his own. He who is selfish places his own happiness above other interests of greater value; such as the glory of God and the good of the universe. That mankind, before conversion, are in this state, is evident from many considerations.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE I - True and False Conversions paragraph 19

     III. That true conversion is a change from a state of supreme selfishness to benevolence.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE I - True and False Conversions paragraph 62

     1. If we are truly benevolent, it will appear in our daily transactions. This character, if real, will show itself in our business, if anywhere. If selfishness rules our conduct there, as sure as God reigns we are truly selfish. If in our dealings with men we are selfish, we are so in our dealings with God. "For whoso loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen?" Religion is not merely love to God, but love to man also. And if our daily transactions show us to be selfish, we are unconverted; or else benevolence is not essential to religion, and a man can be religious without loving his neighbor as himself.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE I - True and False Conversions paragraph 65

     3. If selfishness is the prevailing character of your religion, it will take sometimes one form and sometimes another. For instance: If it is a time of general coldness in the church, real converts will still enjoy their own secret communion with God, although there may not be so much doing to attract notice in public. But the deceived person will then invariably be found driving after the world. Now, let the true saints rise up, and make a noise, and speak their joys aloud, so that religion begins to be talked of again; and perhaps the deceived professor will soon begin to bustle about, and appear to be even more zealous than the true saint. He is impelled by his convictions, and not affections. When there is no public interest, he feels no conviction; but when the church awakes, he is convicted, and compelled to stir about, to keep his conscience quiet. It is only selfishness in another form.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE I - True and False Conversions paragraph 66

     4. If you are selfish, your enjoyment in religion will depend mainly on the strength of your hopes of heaven, and not on the exercise of your affections. Your enjoyments are not in the employments of religion themselves, but of a vastly different kind from those of the true saint. They are mostly from anticipating. When your evidences are renewed, and you feel very certain of going to heaven, then you enjoy religion a good deal. It depends on your hope, and not on your love for the things for which you hope. You hear persons tell of their having no enjoyment in religion when they lose their hopes. The reason is plain. If they loved religion for its own sake, their enjoyment would not depend on their hope. A person who loves his employment is happy anywhere. And if you loved the employments of religion, you would be happy, if God should put you in hell, provided He would only let you employ yourself in religion. If you might pray and praise God, you would feel that you could be happy anywhere in the universe; for you would still be doing the things in which your happiness mainly consists. If the duties of religion are not the things in which you feel enjoyment, and if all your enjoyment depends on your hope, you have no true religion; it is all selfishness.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE I - True and False Conversions paragraph 87

     Answer l. The Bible appeals to the constitutional susceptibilities of men, not to their selfishness. Man dreads harm, and it is not wrong to avoid it. We may have a due regard to our own happiness, according to its value.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE II - True Submission paragraph 6

     1. The first remark is this: If any of you are deceived in regard to your hopes, and have built on a false foundation, the fundamental error in your case was your embracing what you thought was the gospel plan of salvation from selfish motives. Your selfish hearts were unbroken. This is the source of your delusion, if you are deceived. If your selfishness was subdued, you are not deceived in your hope. If it was not, all your religion is vain, and your hope is vain.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE II - True Submission paragraph 8

     Who does not know that there is a great deal of this kind of deception? How often will a great part of the church lie cold and dead, till a revival commences? Then you will see them bustling about, and they get engaged, as they call it, in religion, and renew their efforts and multiply their prayers for a season; and this is what they call getting revived. But it is only the same kind of religion that they had before. Such religion lasts no longer than the public excitement. As soon as the body of the church begin to diminish their efforts for the conversion of sinners, these individuals relapse into their former worldliness, and get as near to what they were before their supposed conversion, as their pride and their fear of the censures of the church will let them. When a revival comes again, they renew the same round; and so they live along by spasms, over and over again, revived and backslidden, revived and backslidden, alternately, as long as they live. The truth is, they were deluded at first, by a spurious conversion, in which selfishness never was broken down; and the more they multiply such kind of efforts, the more sure they are to be lost.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE II - True Submission paragraph 31

     Objection l. "Why are the threatenings of the word of God given, if it is selfishness to be influenced by a fear of the wrath to come?"

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE II - True Submission paragraph 67

     What did the apostles tell sinners, when they inquired what they must do to be saved? What did Peter tell them at the Pentecost? What did Paul tell the jailer? To repent and forsake their selfishness, and believe the gospel. This is what men must do to be saved.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE III - Selfishness not True Religion paragraph 0
SELFISHNESS NOT TRUE RELIGION

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE III - Selfishness not True Religion paragraph 2

SELFISHNESS NOT TRUE RELIGION.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE III - Selfishness not True Religion paragraph 7

     This proposition is naturally the first in the series that I have been laboring to illustrate in the present lectures, and would have been the first to be discussed, had I been aware that it was seriously called in question by any considerable number of professed Christians. But I can honestly say, that when I commenced these lectures, I did not expect to meet any serious difficulty here; and therefore I took it in a great measure for granted, that selfishness is not religion. And hence, I passed over this point with but a slight attempt at proving it. But since, I learn that there are many professed Christians who maintain that a supreme regard to our own happiness is true religion, I think it necessary to examine the subject more carefully, and give you the arguments in favor of what I suppose to be the truth. In establishing my proposition, I wish to distinguish between things that differ; I shall therefore

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE III - Selfishness not True Religion paragraph 45

     The universal conscience of mankind has decided that a supreme regard to our own happiness is not virtue. Men have always known that to serve God and benefit mankind is what is right, and to seek supremely their own personal interest is not right. They have always regarded it mean and contemptible for individuals to seek their own happiness as the supreme object, and consequently, we see how much pains men take to conceal their selfishness and to appear benevolent. It is impossible for any man, unless his conscience is strangely blunted by sin, or perverted by false instruction, not to see that it is sinful to regard his own happiness above other interests of more importance.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE III - Selfishness not True Religion paragraph 56

     10. It is inconsistent with the public happiness. If each individual is to aim at his own happiness as his chief end, these interests will unavoidably clash and come into collision, and universal war and confusion will follow in the train of universal selfishness.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE III - Selfishness not True Religion paragraph 64

     4. The consciences of men should be changed so as to testify in favor of selfishness, and condemn and reprobate everything like disinterested benevolence.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE III - Selfishness not True Religion paragraph 67

     7. The human constitution must be reversed. If supreme selfishness is virtue, the human constitution was made wrong. It is so made, that man can be happy only by being benevolent. And if this doctrine is true, that religion consists in seeking our own happiness as a supreme good, then the more religion a man has the more miserable he is.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE III - Selfishness not True Religion paragraph 70

     10. The impenitent should be found to testify that they are supremely happy in supreme selfishness, and that they find true happiness in it.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE III - Selfishness not True Religion paragraph 76

     Suppose man could find happiness, only by pursuing his own happiness. Then each individual would have only the happiness that himself had gained, and all the happiness in the universe would be only the sum total of what individuals had gained, with the offset of all the pain and misery produced by conflicting interests. Now mark! God has so constituted things, that while each lays himself out to promote the happiness of others, his own happiness is secured and made complete. How vastly greater then is the amount of happiness in the universe, than it would have been, had selfishness been the law of Jehovah's kingdom. Because each one who obeys the law of God, fully secures his own happiness by his benevolence, and the happiness of the whole is increased by how much each receives from all others.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE III - Selfishness not True Religion paragraph 78

     III. When I gave out the subject of this lecture, I avoided the use of the term, selfishness, lest it should be thought invidious. But I now affirm, that a supreme regard to our own interest is selfishness, and nothing else. It would be selfishness in God, if He regarded His own interest; supremely because it is His own. And it is selfishness in man. And whoever maintains that a supreme regard to our own interest is true religion, maintains that selfishness is true religion.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE III - Selfishness not True Religion paragraph 79

     IV. If selfishness is virtue, then benevolence is sin. They are direct opposites and cannot both be virtue. For a man to set up his own interest over God's interest, giving it a preference, and placing it in opposition to God's interest is selfishness. And if this is virtue, then Jesus Christ, in seeking the good of mankind as He did, departed from the principles of virtue. Who will pretend this?

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE III - Selfishness not True Religion paragraph 90

     The subject for the next lecture will be, the distinction between legal submission and gospel submission, or between the religion of the law and the religion of faith. And here let me observe, that when I began to preach on the subject of selfishness in religion, I did not dream that it would be regarded by anyone as a controversial subject at all. I have no fondness for controversy, and I should as soon think of calling the doctrine of the existence of God a controversial subject, as this. The question is one of the greatest importance, and we ought to weigh the arguments, and decide according to the word of God. Soon we shall go together to the bar of God, and you must determine whether you will go there with selfishness in your hearts, or with that disinterested benevolence that seeketh not her own.---Will you now be honest? For as God is true, if you are seeking your own, you will soon be in hell, unless you repent. O be honest! and lay aside prejudice, and act for eternity.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE IV - Religion of the Law and Gospel paragraph 30

     Here, then, is the difference between the slavery of law and the liberty of the gospel. The liberty of the gospel does not consist in being freed from doing what the law requires, but in a man's being in such a state of mind that doing it is itself a pleasure, instead of a burden. What is the difference between slavery and freedom? The slave serves because he is obliged to do so, the freeman serves from choice. The man who is under the bondage of law does duty because conscience thunders in his ears if he does not obey, and he hopes to go to heaven if he does. The man who is in the liberty of the gospel does the same things because he loves to do them. One is influenced by selfishness, the other by disinterested benevolence.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VI - Sanctification by Faith paragraph 20

     The motives of the law did not restrain those beings from committing sin, and it is absurd to suppose the same motives can reclaim them from sin, when they have fallen under the power of selfishness, and when sin is confirmed by habit. The motives of the law lose a great part of their influence, when a being is once fallen. They even exert an opposite influence. The motives of the law, as viewed by a selfish mind, have a tendency to cause sin to abound. This is the experience of every sinner. When he sees the spirituality of the law, and does not see the motives of the gospel, it raises the pride of his heart, and confirms him in his rebellion. The case of the devil is an exhibition of what the law can do, with all its principles and sanctions, upon a wicked heart. He understands the law, sees its reasonableness, has experienced the blessedness of obedience, and knows full well that to return to obedience would restore his peace of mind. This he knows better than any sinner of our race, who never was holy, can know it, and yet it presents to his mind no such motives as reclaim him, but on the contrary, drive him to a returnless distance from obedience.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VI - Sanctification by Faith paragraph 26

     1. It relieves the mind from the pressure of those considerations that naturally tend to confirm selfishness.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VI - Sanctification by Faith paragraph 34

     The devil, who is a purely selfish being, is always accusing others of being selfish. He accused Job of this, "Doth Job fear God for naught?" He accused God to our first parents, of being selfish, and that the only reason for His forbidding them to eat of the tree of knowledge was the fear that they might come to know as much as Himself. The gospel shows what God is. If He was selfish, He would not take such pains to save those whom He might with perfect ease crush to hell. Nothing is so calculated to make selfish persons ashamed of their selfishness, as to see disinterested benevolence in others. Hence the wicked are always trying to appear disinterested. Let the selfish individual, who has any heart, see true benevolence in others, and it is like coals of fire on his head. The wise man understood this, when he said, "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; and if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." Nothing is so calculated to cut down an enemy, and win him over, and make him a friend.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VI - Sanctification by Faith paragraph 35

     This is what the gospel does to sinners. It shows them, that notwithstanding all that they have done to God, God still exercises towards them disinterested love. When he sees God stooping from heaven to save him, and understands that it is indeed TRUE, O, how it melts and breaks down the heart, strikes a death blow to selfishness, and wins him over to unbounded confidence and holy love. God has so constituted the mind that it must necessarily do homage to virtue. It must do this, as long as it retains the powers of moral agency. This is as true in hell as in heaven. The devil feels this. When an individual sees that God has no interested motives to condemn him, when he sees that God offers salvation as a mere gratuity, through faith, he cannot but feel admiration of God's benevolence. His selfishness is crushed, the law has done its work, he sees that all his selfish endeavors have done no good; and the next step is for his heart to go out in disinterested love.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VI - Sanctification by Faith paragraph 36

     Suppose a man was under sentence of death for rebellion, and had tried many expedients to recommend himself to the government, but failed, because they were all hollow hearted and selfish. He sees that the government understands his motives, and that he is not really reconciled. He knows himself that they were all hypocritical and selfish, moved by the hope of favor or the fear of wrath, and that the government is more and more incensed at his hypocrisy. Just now let a paper be brought to him from the government, offering him a free pardon on the simple condition that he would receive it as a mere gratuity, making no account of his own works---what influence will it have on his mind? The moment he finds the penalty set aside, and that he has no need to go to work by any self-righteous efforts, his mind is filled with admiration. Now, let it appear that the government has made the greatest sacrifices to procure this; his selfishness is slain, and he melts down like a child at his sovereign's feet, ready to obey the law because he loves his sovereign.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VI - Sanctification by Faith paragraph 42

     Some are afraid to throw out upon the sinner's mind all the character of God; and they try to make him submit to God, by casting him down in despair. This is not only against the gospel, but it is absurd in itself. It is absurd to think that, in order to destroy the selfishness of a sinner, you must hide from him the knowledge of how much God loves and pities him, and how great sacrifices He has made to save him.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VI - Sanctification by Faith paragraph 43

     III. So far is it from being true, that sinners are in danger of getting false hopes if they are allowed to know the real compassion of God, while you hide this, it is impossible to give him any other than a false hope. Withholding from the sinner who is writhing under conviction, the fact that God has provided salvation as a mere gratuity, is the very way to confirm his selfishness; and if he gets any hope, it must be a false one. To press him to submission by the law alone, is to set him to build a self-righteous foundation.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VI - Sanctification by Faith paragraph 45

     Suppose salvation was not altogether gratuitous, but that some degree of good works was taken into the account, and for those good works in part we were justified---just so far as this consideration is in the mind, just so far there is a stimulus to selfishness. You must bring the sinner to see that he is entirely dependent on free grace, and that a full and complete justification is bestowed, on the first act of faith, as a mere gratuity, and no part of it as an equivalent for anything he is to do. This alone dissolves the influence of selfishness, and secures holy action.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VI - Sanctification by Faith paragraph 47

     They should be made to see the law, and their own guilt, and that they have no way to save themselves; and then, the more fully the whole length and breadth and height and depth of the love of God should be opened, the more effectually will you crush his selfishness, and subdue his soul in love to God. Do not be afraid, in conversing with sinners, to show the whole plan of salvation, and give the fullest possible exhibition of the infinite compassion of God. Show him that, notwithstanding his guilt, the Son of God is knocking at the door and beseeching him to be reconciled to God.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE VII - Legal Experience paragraph 27

     This is one great source of self-deception. Men view the law of God in the abstract, and love it. When no selfish reason is present for opposing it, they take pleasure in viewing it. They approve of what is right, and condemn wickedness, in the abstract. All men do this, when no selfish reason is pressing on them. Whoever found a man so wicked, that he approved of evil in the abstract? Where was a moral being ever found that approved the character of the devil, or that approved of other wicked men, unconnected with himself? How often do you hear wicked men express the greatest abhorrence and detestation of enormous wickedness in others. If their passions are in no way enlisted in favor of error or of wrong, men always stand up for what is right. And this merely constitutional approbation of what is right may amount even to delight, when they do not see the relations of right interfering in any manner with their own selfishness.

 

 


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 63

     Answer. If the power of habit can be so far encroached upon that an impenitent sinner can be converted, why can it not be absolutely broken, so that a converted person may be wholly sanctified? The greatest difficulty, surely, is when selfishness has the entire control of the mind, and when the habits of sin are wholly unbroken. This obstacle is so great, in all cases, that no power but that of the Holy Ghost can overcome it, and so great in many instances, that God Himself cannot, consistently with His wisdom, use the means necessary to convert the soul. But is it possible to suppose, that after He has begun to overcome it, after He has broken the power of selfishness and the obstinacy of habit, and actually converted the individual, that after this God has not resources sufficient to sanctify the soul altogether?

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE IX - Christian Perfection II paragraph 43

     The defect, whatever it be, in the character of any believer, will never be remedied, until he sees the relation of Christ to that part of his character, so as by faith to take hold of Christ and bring Him in to remedy that defect. Suppose a person is naturally penurious and selfish, and reluctant to act in a disinterested manner; he will never remedy that defect, until he receives Christ as his pattern, and the selfishness is driven out of his heart by imbuing his very soul with the infinite benevolence of the Savior. So it is with regard to any other defect; he will never conquer it, until you make him see that the infinite fulness of Christ is answerable to that very want.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE XII - Love the Whole of Religion paragraph 54

     I mean by this, that he will be cut loose from the influence of worldly considerations. Perfect love will so annihilate selfishness, that he will have no will but the will of God, and no interest but God's glory. He will not be influenced by public sentiment, or what this and that man will say or think. See that woman, what she will do from natural affection to her husband? She is willing to cut loose from all her friends, as much as if she was dead to them, and not pay the least regard to what they say, and leave all the riches, and honors, and delights they can offer, to join the individual whom she loves, and live with him in poverty, in disgrace, and in exile. Her affection is so great, that she does it joyfully, and is ready to go from a palace, to any cottage or cave in earth, and be perfectly happy. And all that her friends can say against the man of her affection has not the least influence on her mind, only to make her cling the more closely to him. This one ALL-ABSORBING affection has actually killed all the influences that used to act on her. To attempt to influence her by such things is in vain. There is only one avenue of approach to her mind; only one class of motives move her, and that is through the object of her affection.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE XII - Love the Whole of Religion paragraph 59

     But I wish to turn your attention here to what the apostle says in the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians, speaking of charity, or love. You will observe that the word here translated charity is the same that is in other places rendered love. It means love. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." He might have even the faith of miracles, so strong that he could move mountains from their everlasting foundations, and yet have no love. "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." You see how far he supposes a man may go without love. "Charity suffereth long." Long-suffering is meekness under opposition or injury. This is one of the effects of love, to bear great provocations, and not retaliate or revile again. Love "is kind," or affectionate in all intercourse with others, never harsh or rude, or needlessly giving pain to any. Love "envieth not," never dislikes others because they are more thought of or noticed, more honored or useful, or make greater attainments in knowledge, happiness or piety. "Is not puffed up" with pride, but always humble and modest. "Doth not behave itself unseemly," but naturally begets a pleasant and courteous deportment towards all. However unacquainted the individual may be with the ways of society, who is actuated by perfect love, he always appears well, it is natural to him to be so kind and gentle and courteous. "Seeketh not her own," or has no selfishness. "Is not easily provoked." This is always the effect of love. See that mother, how long she bears with her children, because she loves them.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE XIII - Rest of the Saints paragraph 22

     Works are from ourselves, when they result from the simple, natural principles of human nature, such as conscience, hope, fear, &c., without the influences of the Holy Ghost. Such works are universally and wholly sinful. They are the efforts of selfishness, under the direction of mere natural principles.---His conscience convicts him, hope and fear come in aid, and under this influence, the carnal, selfish mind acts. Such acts cannot but be wholly sinful. It is nothing but selfishness.---Multiply the forms of selfishness by selfishness forever, and it will never come to love. Where there is nothing but natural conscience pointing out the guilt and danger, and the constitutional susceptibilities of hope and fear leading to do something, it comes to nothing but the natural workings of an unsanctified mind. Such works are always the works of the flesh, and not the works of the Spirit. To enter into rest is to cease from all these, and no more to perform works from ourselves than for ourselves. Who does not know what a painful time those have, who set about religion from themselves; painfully grinding out about so much religion a month, constrained by hope and fear, and lashed up to the work by conscience, but without the least impulse from that divine principle of the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost? All such works are just as much from themselves, as any work of any devil is. No matter what kind of works are performed, if the love of God is not the mainspring and life and heart of them, they are our own works, and there is no such thing as rest in them. We must cease from them, because they set aside the gospel. The individual, who is actuated by these principles, sets aside the gospel, in whole or in part. If he is actuated only by these considerations, he sets aside the gospel entirely. And just so far as he is influenced by them, he refuses to receive Christ as his Savior in that relation. Christ is offered as a complete Savior, as our Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption. And just so far as anyone is making efforts to dispense with a Savior in any of these particulars, he is setting aside the gospel for so much.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE XIII - Rest of the Saints paragraph 46

     Again---It is evident that faith in Christ, from its own nature, brings the soul into the very state of rest which I have described. How instantly faith breaks up slavish fear, and brings the soul into the liberty of the gospel! How it sets us free from selfishness, and all those influences we formerly acted under! By faith we confide all to Christ, to lead us, and sanctify us, and justify us. And we may be just as certain to be led and to be sanctified, as we are to be justified, if we only exercise faith and leave ourselves in the hands of Christ for all. As a simple matter of fact, such faith brings the soul into a state of rest. The soul sees that there is not need of its own selfish efforts, and no hope from them if they were needed. In itself, it is so far gone in sin that it is as hopeless as if it had been in hell a thousand years. Take the best Christian on earth, and let the Lord Jesus Christ leave his soul, and where is he? Will he pray, or do anything good, or acceptable to God, without Christ? Never. The greatest saint on earth will go right off into sin in a moment, if abandoned by Jesus Christ. But faith throws all upon Christ, and that is rest.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE XIII - Rest of the Saints paragraph 47

     Again: Faith makes us cease from all works for ourselves. By faith we see, that we have no more need of doing works for ourselves, than the child needs to work for his daily bread, whose father is worth millions. He may work, from love to his father, or from love to the employment, but not from any necessity to labor for his daily bread. The soul that truly understands the gospel, sees perfectly well that there is no need of mingling his own righteousness with the righteousness of Christ, or his own wisdom with the wisdom of Christ, or his own sufferings with the sufferings of Christ. If there was any need of this, there would be just so much temptation to selfishness, and to working from legal motives. But there is none.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE XIII - Rest of the Saints paragraph 51

     It annihilates selfishness, and thus leaves no motives for our own works.

 

 


TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS 1837, LECTURE XIII - Rest of the Saints paragraph 57

     Suppose a child loses all confidence in his father. He can henceforth render no hearty obedience. It is a natural impossibility. If he pretends to obey, it is only from selfishness, and not from the heart; for the mainspring and essence of all real hearty obedience is gone. It would be so in heaven, it is so in hell. Without faith it is impossible to please God. It is a natural impossibility to obey God in such a manner as to be accepted of Him, without faith. Thus unbelief is shown to be the fountain of all the sin in earth and hell, and the soul that is destitute of faith, is just left to work out its own damnation.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 37 29 Professor Finney's Letter of January 1, 1839 ...

Now the thing that I desire to do is, so far as in me lies, to lay open before you the very secrets of your hearts, and also to lead you to an entire renunciation of everything that grieves the Spirit of God, to a relinquishment of selfishness, under every form and in every degree, and to hold out before you those "exceeding great and precious promises" whereby you may be made "partakers of the divine nature." The conductors of this paper are willing that I should make it the medium of spreading before you my thoughts, as the providence and Spirit of God shall enable me. I shall give you a sermon as often as my health and other duties will permit; and whenever you receive this paper containing one of my lectures, I wish you to consider yourself as personally addressed by me. I wish you to read for yourself and feel that I mean you, as much as though it were a private communication made to you from my own pen, or as if I had a personal interview and addressed you "face to face." If I probe you to the quick, I beg of you not to be offended and throw the paper aside and refuse to hear me. "I beseech you by the mercies of God," nay, I conjure you by our Lord Jesus Christ to hear me patiently and with candor. Nay, beloved, I expect candor from you; and many of you, I doubt not, will not only hear me with candor but with joy. I will try to write as if I had you all before me in one great congregation, as if I beheld your countenances and were addressing you "face to face." Nay, I will consider you, and I desire you to consider yourselves, as in such a sense members of my congregation as to attend statedly on my preaching. I shall take it for granted that you read every lecture, and of course address you from time to time as if you had candidly read and attentively considered what I had already said.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 173 144 Lecture III. Devotion ...

3. Others think that devotion may be sincere, and yet extend only to certain duties, i.e. that a man may pray sincerely, and from right motives, and yet be worldly in the transaction of business. Now a little reflection will convince any honest mind that it is naturally impossible. Devotion to God cannot be sincere any further than it annihilates selfishness. Devotion and selfishness are eternal opposites.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 188 144 Lecture III. Devotion ...

9. There is no peace of mind but in a state of devotion. No other state of mind is reasonable. In no other state will the powers of the mind harmonize. In any other state than that of devotion to God, there is an inward struggle, and mutiny, and strife in the mind itself. The conscience upbraids the heart for selfishness. Hence "there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 249 234 Lecture IV. True and False Religion ...

III. I am to show what true liberty is.

1. True liberty does not consist in the unrestrained indulgence of lust and selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 303 292 Lecture V. The Law of God 1 ...

(5) Another peculiarity of this love is that it must be in every instance supreme. The text plainly requires this. Besides, anything less than supreme love to God, must be idolatry. If anything else is loved more, that is our God.

Observe, that God lays great stress upon the degree of love. So that the degree is essential to the kind of love. If it be not supreme in degree, it is wholly defective and in no sense acceptable to God.

2. I will consider the kind of love to be exercised towards our fellowmen.
 

(1) It must be the love of the heart, and not mere desire or emotion. It is very natural to desire the good of others--to pity the distressed--and to feel strong emotions of compassion towards those who are afflicted. But these emotions are not virtue. Unless we will their good, as well as desire it, it is of no avail. James 2:15, 16: "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food. And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?"

Now here the Apostle fully recognizes the principle, that mere desire for the good of others, which of course will satisfy itself with good words, instead of good deeds, is not virtue. If it were good willing, instead of good desiring, it would produce corresponding action; and unless it is good willing, there is no holiness in it.

(2) Benevolence to men is a prime modification of holy love. This is included in what I have said above, but needs to be expressly stated and explained.

It is a plain dictate of reason, of conscience, of common sense, and immutable justice, that we should exercise good will towards our fellowmen--that we should will their good, in proportion to its importance--that we should rejoice in their happiness, and endeavor to promote it, according to its real value in the scale of being.

(3) Complacency towards those that are virtuous is another modification of holy love. I say towards those that are virtuous, because while we exercise benevolence towards all, irrespective of their character, we have a right to exercise complacency towards those only who are holy.

To exercise complacency towards the wicked is to be as wicked as they are. But to exercise entire complacency to those that are holy, is to be ourselves holy.

(4) This love is to be in every instance equal. By equal I do not mean that degree of love which selfish beings have for themselves, for this is supreme. There is a grand distinction between self-love and selfishness. Self-love is that benevolence to self, or regard for our own interest, which its intrinsic importance demands. Selfishness is the excess of self-love: i.e. it is supreme self-love--it is making our own happiness the supreme object of pursuit, because it is our own. And not attaching that importance to other's interests, and the happiness of other beings, which their importance demands. A selfish mind is therefore in the exercise of the supreme love of self.

Now the law of God does not require or permit us to love our neighbor with this degree of love, for that would be idolatry. But the command, "to love our neighbor as ourselves," implies,

(a) That we should love ourselves less than supremely, and attach no more importance to our own interests and happiness than they demand.--So that the first thing implied in this command is that we love ourselves less than supremely, and that we love our neighbor with the same degree of love which it is lawful for us to exercise towards ourselves.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 307 292 Lecture V. The Law of God 1 ...

Nor does it require or permit us to lend money to speculators, or for speculating purposes, or in any way to encourage selfishness.

(c) But by equal love is meant, I have said, the same love in kind and degree, which it is lawful for us to exercise towards ourselves. It is lawful, nay, it is our duty to exercise a suitable regard to our own happiness. This is benevolence to self, or what is commonly called self-love. The same, both in kind and degree, we are required to exercise to all our fellow men..
 

(5) Another feature of holy love is that it must be impartial; i.e. it must extend to enemies as well as friends. Else it is selfish love, and comes under the reprobation of the Savior, in the passage before quoted, Luke 6:32, 34, "For if ye love them who love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same."&c.

Now observe that this test must always be applied to the kind of love we exercise to our fellow men, in order to understand its genuineness.--God's love is love to enemies. It was for his enemies that he gave his Son. Our love must be the same in kind--it must extend to enemies, as well as friends. And if it does not, it is partial and selfish.

III. I am to notice several mistakes into which men have fallen on this subject.

1. It seems to be a very general opinion among men that love to God and men may be genuine in kind, but deficient in degree; i.e. that we may have some true love to God, that is not supreme love.

Now this cannot be true. For God lays great stress, in his law, upon the degree of love. Besides it is perfectly plain, if it be not supreme in degree that the mind loves something else more, and is consequently in a state of idolatry, instead of having any degree of holy love.

2. It seems to be a very general opinion that there is such a thing as imperfect obedience to God; i.e. as it respects one and the same act.

Obedience may be imperfect in respect to its constancy. An individual may obey at one time, and disobey at another. But I cannot see how an imperfect obedience, relating to one and the same act, can be possible. Imperfect OBEDIENCE! What can be meant by this but disobedient OBEDIENCE! a sinful HOLINESS!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 309 292 Lecture V. The Law of God 1 ...

But that the action or affection must be either right or wrong--that when the test of God's law is applied, it must be pronounced an act of obedience or disobedience seems to me to be very plain. That it should be of such a mixed character as both to be obedience and disobedience, if the nature of God's law be considered, appears to me to be impossible. It should be understood that holiness and sin belong to the will or choice of the mind. Where the mind is under the influence of an existing sinful choice, it should be understood that this choice is sinful, because it is selfish. Now a multitude of considerations may from time to time present themselves to the mind, that may diminish the power of a wrong or sinful preference or choice. But however much the power of a selfish choice may be weakened, yet there is no virtue till the mind comes to exercise an opposite or disinterestedly benevolent choice. Now whenever the mind puts forth a holy choice, it is absurd and contradictory to say that any degree of selfishness is exercised by the mind in putting forth that choice. For selfishness is supreme love. Therefore, it is naturally impossible that selfishness should mingle with holiness. It is the same contradiction as to say that supreme self-love co-exists with supreme disinterested love. Therefore the volition cannot possibly have a mixed character; i.e. it cannot be partly selfish and partly holy. If any degree of sin can be affirmed of it--if in any way it is defective, it must be on account of the degree of its strength, and not on account of its co-existence with some degree of selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 311 292 Lecture V. The Law of God 1 ...

Now, holiness is love. To say therefore, that holiness may be deficient in degree, is the same as to say that love may be true, acceptable love to God, while it is less than supreme in degree, which is plainly contrary to both the letter and spirit of the law of God; or, in other words, it may be acceptable to God, while we love something else more, and are in fact idolaters.

5. That we may be conscious of loving God less than something else, and yet have some genuine love, and some true religion.

Now love, to be genuine, must possess all the attributes which the law of God requires. And as God lays great stress upon its being supreme, if we are conscious that we love other things more than God, it is impossible that we should be in the exercise of any true religion.

6. That emotions of love, while the heart or will is selfish is true religion.

Now that there may be emotions, and strong emotions of love to a being, or thing, to which our will is opposed, is the experience of every day. And I see not why emotions of love to God, as well as emotions of gratitude to God, may not exist, while the will is selfish, and therefore the heart entirely depraved. I know from my own experience, that such emotions can exist in an unconverted mind; and it appears to me, that herein consists the grand delusion of vast multitudes of professors of religion, as well as of those who are professedly impenitent. When some flashes of light, in regard to some of the attributes of God are witnessed--when he is exhibited in certain relations--and his feelings of compassion are thrown out before the mind, as exhibited in the death of Christ, I think I know by experience, and I see not why it is not in accordance with true philosophy, that there should be a gush of emotion, which may be, and often is taken for true religion, while the heart or will is entirely selfish. This is illustrated in the character of those who, in revivals and seasons of religious excitement, will manifest a high degree of religious emotion, while in their business operations they prove to be completely selfish.

7. That some degree of selfishness may co-exist with some degree of holiness.

I say co-exist. I do not mean to deny, that a mind may be selfish at one time, and benevolent at another. But I do deny, that a mind can be selfish and benevolent at one and the same time; or that any degree of holiness can exist in the mind, in the exercise of selfishness. Selfishness, as we have already seen, is the supreme love of self. It is always the supreme affection of the mind, and cannot be exercised in any one instance, in any other form than that of supreme regard to self. It is what God expressly forbids. Every exercise of it, therefore, not only implies that we love ourselves more than we love our neighbor; but as it is a violation of the law of God, it is loving ourselves more than we respect the authority of God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 312 292 Lecture V. The Law of God 1 ...

To say therefore, that some degree of selfishness may co-exist with some degree of holiness, is the same absurdity, as to say that we can love ourselves supremely, and God supremely, at one and the same time.

8. That we may be conscious of loving our neighbor less than ourselves, and still love our neighbor with some degree of acceptable or holy love.

Now this is a radical and ruinous mistake. That we should feel compassion or pity for a person in distress is natural, whatever be the state of our will. But if our love only amount[s] to desire--if it is not good willing as well as good desiring, there is not a particle of anything good in it. It must be love of the heart, or will--that which will control the conduct. Again I repeat James 2:15, 16: "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food. And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be you warmed, and filled; notwithstanding, ye give them not those things which are needful for the body, what doth it profit?"

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 320 292 Lecture V. The Law of God 1 ...

Just so a man who is supremely devoted to his family may be acting consistently with his supreme affection, and rendering them the most important and perfect service, while he does not think of them at all. As I have endeavored to show, in my lecture on the text, "Make to yourselves a new heart, and a new spirit," I consider the moral heart to be the mind's supreme preference. As I there stated, the natural, or fleshly heart, is the seat of animal life, and propels the blood through all the physical system. Now there is a striking analogy between this and the moral heart. And the analogy consists in this, that as the natural heart, by its pulsations, diffuses life through the physical system; so the moral heart, or the supreme governing preference of the mind, is that which gives life, and character to man's moral actions; (e.g.) suppose that I am engaged in teaching Mathematics. In this, the supreme desire of my mind is to glorify God, in this particular calling. Now in demonstrating some of its intricate propositions I am obliged, for hours together, to give the entire attention of my mind to that object. Now, while my mind is thus intensely employed in this particular business, it is impossible that I should have any thoughts directly about God, or should exercise any direct affections, or emotions, or volitions towards Him. Yet if, in this particular calling, all selfishness is excluded, and my supreme design is to glorify God, my mind is in a sanctified state, even though, for the time being, I do not think of God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 321 292 Lecture V. The Law of God 1 ...

It should be understood, that while the supreme preference of the mind has such efficiency, as to exclude all selfishness, and to call forth just that strength of volition, thought, affection, and emotion, that is requisite to the right discharge of any duty, to which the mind may be called, the heart is in a sanctified state. By a suitable degree of thought, and feeling, to the right discharge of duty, I mean just that intensity of thought, and energy of action, that the nature and importance of the particular duty to which, for the time being, I am called, demand.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 327 292 Lecture V. The Law of God 1 ...

Nor does it imply, that we love him as much as we should, were we not so ignorant, or had we as much knowledge of Him as we might have had, had we improved our time, and opportunities of gaining information. The law of God requires, nothing more than the right use of our powers, as they are, without respect to whatever might, and would have been, had we never sinned.

18. That a state of entire holiness is inconsistent with the existence, and exercise of our constitutional susceptibilities.

A great portion of the temptations to which the mind is subject, consists in the excited state of the susceptibilities of the body and mind, that are purely constitutional. All the susceptibilities of our nature, Christ must have had, or he could not have been "tempted in all points like as we are." It was the excitement of Adam's constitutional appetites and susceptibilities, that led him to sin. But his sin consisted not, either in the existence of these susceptibilities and appetites, or in their being excited, but in consenting to gratify them in a prohibited manner. If our constitutional susceptibilities were annihilated, our activity would cease. So that if anyone supposes, that to be sanctified "wholly, body, soul and spirit," implies the extinction of any appetite, or susceptibility that is purely constitutional, he is deceived. A state of sanctification consists in subordinating all these to the will of God, and not in their annihilation.

19. That it implies a cessation of spiritual warfare.

If, by this, they mean a war with our selfishness, they are right. But if they mean that our war with the world, the flesh and the devil, will ever cease in this life, they are mistaken.

20. That it is inconsistent with growth in grace.

I suppose that saints will continue to grow in grace to all eternity, and in the knowledge of God. But this does not imply, that they are not entirely holy, when they enter heaven, or before.

21. That it is entirely inconsistent with any sorrow, or mental suffering. It was not so with Christ. Nor is it inconsistent with our sorrowing for our own past sins, and sorrowing that we have not now the health and vigor, and knowledge, and love, that we might have had, if we had sinned less; or sorrow for those around us--sorrow in view of human sinfulness, or suffering. These are all consistent with a state of entire sanctification, and indeed are the natural results of it.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 354 342 Lecture VI. The Law of God 2 ...


I. I am to show the real spirit and meaning of this commandment.

1. I will show what the law prohibits.
 

(1) It prohibits supreme self-love, or selfishness. In my last lecture, I attempted to show, that the command, "love thy neighbor as thyself," implied, not that we should love our neighbor supremely, as selfish men love themselves; but that we should love ourselves, in the first place, and pursue our happiness, only according to its real value, in the scale of being. But I need not dwell upon this; as it will not probably be doubted, that this precept prohibits supreme self-love.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 357 342 Lecture VI. The Law of God 2 ...

(4) It prohibits, of course, every degree of ill will, and all those feelings that are necessarily connected with selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 360 342 Lecture VI. The Law of God 2 ...

(4) It justly reprobates any violation of the great principle of equal love, as rebellion against the whole universe. It is rebellion against God, because it is a rejection of his authority--and selfishness, under any form, is a setting up of our own interests, in opposition to the interests of the universe of God.

II. I am to show the tendency, and natural effect of universal obedience to this law.

1. The tendency and effect of obedience, is to make the obedient individual happy. The state of mind required by the law, is itself happiness. And if there were but one individual who was obedient, he would be happy, for that reason.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 364 342 Lecture VI. The Law of God 2 ...

It is easy to see, that perfect obedience to this law, would create a perfect state of society; and for any community to live together, in conformity to this principle, would be heaven itself.

III. I am to show the tendency, and natural results of disobedience.

1. It would cause individual misery, because selfishness is misery. And to say nothing of the internal war and mutiny, that selfishness creates in the mind, it is misery, because it can never be gratified. From the very nature of the case, there could be but one selfish being in the universe, gratified. Nor even one; for did he possess all actual and existing good--did he possess all that is to be possessed--and govern all that are to be governed, instead of satisfying him, it would only "enlarge his desires as hell."

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 365 342 Lecture VI. The Law of God 2 ...

2. It would produce the greatest sum of public misery. Public misery is made up of the misery of the individuals who compose the public. Now each of these is miserable in the exercise of his own selfishness. And where selfishness is universal, and unrestrained, each one is engaged in making all around him miserable. In this state of things, every evil passion would be generated--perpetuated--increased--and perfected. And universal grasping after each other's possessions, would produce universal war. Indeed, it would result in universal hell.

IV. I am to show, that it is the universal and unalterable rule of right.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 372 342 Lecture VI. The Law of God 2 ...

The difference lies in the fact, that human laws do not require enough. Their requirements are good, so far as they go, and should be strictly obeyed. But as they fall short of the requirements of God's law, they may be strictly obeyed, without one particle of virtue, or holiness. But to be more particular, I remark,

1. That human laws are of a negative character. They are designed to prohibit outbreaking selfishness; and although they are said, by legal writers, to command what is right, and prohibit what is wrong, yet it will be seen, on close examination, that they are far from prohibiting all that is wrong. And that, in no case, do they require what God's law esteems to be really right. In their prohibitions, they necessarily stop short, at the outward act, without pretending to judge, or restrain the thoughts and affections of the mind, any farther than as they are developed in the outward actions. So that, in every case, all that constitutes the real moral character of the crime, may exist in any mind, without being recognized as a crime by any human law. The moral character lies in the disposition of the mind. But if this disposition be not acted out, human laws take no cognizance of it.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 373 342 Lecture VI. The Law of God 2 ...

2. They only prohibit outward acts of selfishness, or the open violation of other men's rights, and do not require even outward benevolence. They leave every man to be as selfish as he will, provided he restrains his selfish conduct within certain limits. Now it is easy to see, that all this falls entirely short of the spirit and letter of the law of God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 374 342 Lecture VI. The Law of God 2 ...

3. The law of God is positive. It not only restrains outward, but all inward selfishness. It not only prohibits outward selfish acts, but the inward selfish thoughts and feelings. It regards the outward act as crime, and deserving of punishment, only because it is the result of the inward feelings and affections of the mind. Hence, it aims its prohibitions at the heart, and spreads out its claims over all the movements of the mind.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 376 342 Lecture VI. The Law of God 2 ...

5. Another difference is, that perfect obedience to human laws, would not necessarily secure one particle of happiness. It would only lessen the amount of misery. As we have just seen, there might be perfect obedience to human laws, and yet supreme selfishness exist in every mind. So that perfect obedience, to the wisest and best of human enactments, may consist with a vast amount of individual and public misery.

But, on the other hand, perfect and universal obedience to the law of God, as we have seen, would secure the greatest amount of individual, and public happiness.

VI. I am to show, that every violation of this rule is fraud, and injustice.

1. Because this is the only rule of right. Remember that it is not by human law, but by his own law, that God will judge the world. The question is not, what is fraud, and dishonesty, in the light of human laws; but what is real fraud--what is real injustice? This can only be known, by a reference to the law of God. And every violation of this rule wears upon its front the seal of God's eternal reprobation. It is not enough, in the light of the law of God, that you abstain from trespassing upon your neighbor's possessions. If you do not actually love him, and love him as you do yourself, you as actually invade his rights and deny him that which is his due, as if you should steal his property. He has as absolute a right to your equal love, as he has to any article of property, which he may have in possession. And you have no more right to withhold the one, than to take the other. You are as much bound to consult his interest, in your dealings with him, as your own; and he has as actual a right to expect you to consult his interests, as well as to consult your own, as he has to expect that you will not steal his money. And to omit the former, is as absolute fraud, and injustice, as to do the latter.

Every violation of this law is injustice, fraud, and dishonesty towards God, and toward every individual in the universe. It is setting aside the rights, and authority of God, and trampling upon the rights of our neighbor. And as all mankind are one family, and have one common interest, to defraud one, is to injure the whole.

VII. I am to show, that the public, and private conscience, is formed on the principles of commercial justice.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 383 342 Lecture VI. The Law of God 2 ...

3. This self-constituted rule, with which we blind our mind, and stifle our conscience, only restrains selfishness within certain limits, while it is consistent with the deepest selfishness of heart. Who does not know that the principles of commercial justice are established, to regulate the selfish transaction of business. They are instituted by selfish men, for selfish purposes; (i.e.) they are so framed, as to aid every man, in securing all his selfish ends, so far as is consistent with a certain degree of respect for the selfish pursuits of others.

Now if casting off God's authority be rebellion in any individual, as it really is; in a professor of religion it must be outrageous apostacy.(sic.)

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 384 342 Lecture VI. The Law of God 2 ...

Obedience to God's law is the rejection of all selfishness, and the practical adoption of the principle of universal benevolence. For any individual, therefore, to engage in selfish business, is a total departure from God. And it includes in it, all that really constitutes apostacy.(sic.)

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 391 342 Lecture VI. The Law of God 2 ...

3. You can see the desert(sic.) of every act of selfishness--that it includes in it the entire rejection of the authority of God--and a trampling upon the rights of the universe. In this there is certainly infinite guilt, and the desert(sic.) of eternal punishment.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 392 342 Lecture VI. The Law of God 2 ...

4. You see what is the duty of God in relation to selfishness--that as the Father, and Supreme Executive Magistrate of the Universe, he is bound to punish it in every case, with unsparing severity, where there is not repentance.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 393 342 Lecture VI. The Law of God 2 ...

5. That the government of God is very little understood in this world. And human law, instead of the law of God, has come to be very generally regarded as the rule of right. This has blinded the world, and the Church, in regard to what real religion is. So that much passes current, among men, for true religion, that is, after all, an entire violation of the law of God. Multitudes in the Christian Church, are regarded as pious men, who are daily transacting business upon principles of entire selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 405 342 Lecture VI. The Law of God 2 ...

Suppose there were a famine in this land, and a multitude of vessels should be freighted with flour, and sail from Europe to supply the starving population. Suppose the owners to instruct their captains to sell it for five dollars per barrel. And now, suppose certain speculators in New York should receive advices of the arrival of the fleet upon our coast--they charter a boat, and go out and purchase all the flour. And when the fleet comes in sight, the docks, and every passage in the city is thronged with starving people, with their bags, and whatever money they can command to supply their starving families. But on the fleet's coming to anchor, they are informed, that the speculator demands seventy-five dollars per barrel for the flour. In this case, no doubt, the public would set the seal of reprobation, on such an outrage. But how does this differ, in principle, from that which is becoming so common, even among professed Christians, to secure as far as possible, and so as by all means to control the market, the bread stuffs, and to a great extent, the other provisions, throughout the length and breadth of the land, and then enrich themselves, by selling them at their own prices? Is this loving their neighbor, or is it supreme and horrible selfishness?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 426 342 Lecture VI. The Law of God 2 ...

But for centuries, selfishness has been the most prominent feature of the church. And instead of sacrificing herself for the salvation of men, she is sacrificing the world, to gratify her own lusts.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 427 342 Lecture VI. The Law of God 2 ...

17. It is naturally impossible that a selfish church should ever succeed in converting the world. They cannot possibly make the world understand the gospel. The light which they hold up is darkness. Their "salt has lost its savor"--their benevolence is selfishness--their religion is rebellion against God. Suppose Jesus Christ had come, as the Jews expected, as a great temporal prince--living, and reigning in mighty earthly splendor--overawing and subduing the nations--and exterminating his enemies by the sword. Could he, by any precepts whatever, have put the world in possession of the true spirit of religion? Could they have possibly received from him the idea of what constitutes obedience to the law of God? Certainly not. Nor could the Apostles, and primitive Christians, have possibly possessed the world with the right idea of religion, in any other manner, than by offering themselves up a living sacrifice for their salvation. And never can the world be converted--never can missionary enterprises succeed, until true religion is taught in the lives of its professors--until benevolence, and not selfishness, is exhibited by the church.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 428 342 Lecture VI. The Law of God 2 ...

18. I beg of you to remember, that this law is to be the rule of judgment, by which all the secrets of your heart, and soul, and life, shall be judged. Do therefore, I beseech you, bring yourselves to the true test--examine yourselves by this rule--decide your former life, and your present character, by inspecting it in the light of this law. You have never embraced the gospel, any further than you are under the practical influence of the law of God. The gospel was designed to annihilate selfishness--to produce true obedience. If it does not produce this result in you, you are lost forever.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 463 432 Lecture VII. Glorifying God ...

Now right over against this is the hypocrite. He professes to live for the glory of God; but yet he certainly knows, or ought to know, by his own consciousness, that if he seeks God's glory at all, it is with him a subordinate, and not a chief end. He knows full well, if he will be honest with himself, that selfishness lurks in all the religion he has. Instead of having a strong, and permanent consciousness, that he is living for God, the most that he can say is, he hopes he is thus covering up his hypocrisy.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 466 432 Lecture VII. Glorifying God ...

It is wonderful to see, that where selfishness does not blind them, how ready men are to form right opinions. Previously to the commencement of the Temperance Reformation, I recollect of having heard of a minister, who, by ill health, or for some other cause was prevented from preaching; and for the maintenance of his family, he established a grocery, in which he sold alcohol. This was, even then, universally reprobated. It seemed to shock the common sense of the whole community. And yet multitudes of laymen, and even Christian laymen, were engaged in the same employment, without supposing themselves to be doing anything wrong.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 471 432 Lecture VII. Glorifying God ...

I, some time since, asked a lawyer, if he supposed God called him to that particular employment, and if he engaged in it from such motives, as he supposed a minister ought to engage in the work of the ministry. He frankly said, "No." "How then," I inquired, "can you be saved? Are you not bound to live for the glory of God, as much as any minister? Are you not living in the habitual neglect of known duty? Is not the whole tenor of your life selfishness, and a palpable violation of the commandment of God?" In the light of this text, he could not deny, that it was so. Now there are hundreds, and thousands of such laymen, in the Church. They know themselves to be pursuing courses of life, from such motives as they would utterly condemn, in a minister. And they would judge, and rightly judge, that he had no religion at all. Know then, assuredly, that in your employment, whatever it is, unless you have such an eye to the glory of God, as you know a minister ought to have, in his employment, you cannot be saved.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 549 517 Lecture VIII. True and False Peace ...

Now this is exactly the conduct and character of many a convicted sinner, who obtains a false hope, and many a deceived professor of religion. Enlightened by the Spirit, conscience gives them no rest. Their distress increases till a forced submission is produced. The fear of punishment--the hope of pardon--a desire for peace, and the consolations of the gospel, and many other selfish inducements, may come in to influence the will, till there is a forced submission of some point, upon which the mind is particularly pressed. Perhaps it is the duty of family prayer, which the mind is resisting--perhaps it is the confession of some sin--the making restitution--the taking an anxious seat--attending a meeting of inquiry, the opening the mind to a minister, or something of this kind. Now when inducements are held out to yield this point, instead of the character of God being so presented as to make the mind fall in love with Him, it is plain, that multitudes of selfish considerations may cause the mind to yield, when, after all, it has no knowledge of God, and no love to him--when the mind is as far as possible from true repentance, or faith, or love to God, or man. Conscience has forced the will upon such a dilemma, that it has yielded the point, yet from selfish considerations--it has not at all changed its attitude toward God--it has only substituted one form of selfishness for another. When driven to desperation, and looking all around for peace, it has taken sanctuary in yielding the point--from some selfish motive.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 551 517 Lecture VIII. True and False Peace ...

Now the true distinction between this state of mind, and that peace, which they have who love the law of God is this. Instead of enforcing submission to the performance of some particular duty, the mind apprehends and loves the character of God--the will yields not to the biddings of conscience--or force of circumstances--or selfish considerations; but the mind, being diverted from all selfishness, looks away to God, and Christ, and sweetly yields to, and acquiesces in, his will.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 552 517 Lecture VIII. True and False Peace ...

Now the difference in these two states of mind. will be apparent in this. The deluded sinner, not having his will merged in the will of God, will soon find, that what he calls his peace, is continually broken. Instead of finding that be is not stumbled, or offended with the providences, and will of God, he will find that he is almost continually stumbled. He is thrown into an excitement of mind, at every providence, and every commandment of God, that crosses his path. The will of God is not the law of his being. So far from it, he often finds himself in such a state of mind, that conscience must enforce its claims upon the heart, and sometimes a severe conflict, compels him to yield one form of sin after another. Thus he submits, and yields one point today, from some selfish consideration, and to-morrow there is some new call to duty--some demand of self-denial--or something else, which brings him up to a stand of strong resistance, and throws him into great confusion. This, perhaps, after a severe struggle, the mind will yield, and retreat to some refuge, prepared to resist the next demand upon its selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 555 517 Lecture VIII. True and False Peace ...

Now rest assured, if this is your character, and this your experience, "you are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity." How many such persons have I seen, who would appear to be very happy in religion, while no sacrifice was called for, and no demand made upon their selfishness. But attack their lusts--call on them for self denial--ask their money for benevolent objects--point at some of their intemperate practices, in eating and drinking--reprove some favorite indulgence, and instantly you have destroyed all their religion. Their peace is all gone. Conscience, and the will are up in arms, and mutiny, and war immediately ensue.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 556 517 Lecture VIII. True and False Peace ...

Now let me place beside this picture, the experience of a Christian. In him, so far as he is a Christian, selfishness is subdued, and his conscience and heart are at one. In such a case, the office of conscience is not to force the heart, for the heart needs no force. Conscience is that power of the mind, that points out the moral qualities of actions, and enables the mind to distinguish between what is right, and what is wrong. Now the Christian heart is in love with what is right, (i.e.) with the will of God, whenever it discovers what it is. So that the dictates of conscience are readily, spontaneously, and joyfully obeyed by the heart. In this case, the peace of mind is unbroken, and there is a joyful acquiescence in all the will of God. Let there be new calls to duty--new occasions for self-denial--new demands upon life, and health, and strength, for the promotion of God's glory--no mutiny results, but peace, and a joyful yielding--a supreme and delightful preference of the will of God, reigns throughout the soul.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 559 517 Lecture VIII. True and False Peace ...

2. Many persons are spending their time, in putting a conscientious restraint upon selfishness, instead of giving it up. They are, like children, building dams of sand, that by the slight risings of the water, are instantly driven away. They see the risings of their pride--the rufflings of their temper--their worldly-mindedness, and their sin, under many forms. These they are busied in putting down. They resolve, and re-resolve--they vow, and break their vows--they purpose, and fail to fulfill, and for the best of all reasons, their heart does not love God; and selfishness is too strong for their conscience; and sin will break over their dams of sand.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 565 517 Lecture VIII. True and False Peace ...

It appears to me to be impossible, that true religion, and true submission, should be produced in the mind, without pressing upon the attention the character of God, and of Christ, as presented in the Bible. Those great and commanding objects of love, and of faith, must be presented, and embraced: and there must be a yielding up of selfishness, through the power of truth, and the Holy Ghost, or there is no true religion in the soul. But if selfishness is subdued, you will not witness these perpetual conflictings, that are so common, when professors of religion are pressed up to duty.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 588 577 Lecture IX. Dominion Over Sin ...

Sin is a state of mind, which is the opposite of the law of God. As I have shown, in a former lecture, the whole of true religion consists in obedience to this law, which requires supreme disinterested love to God, and disinterested and equal love to our neighbor. This is the opposite of selfishness or a supreme regard to our own interest. Selfishness therefore, under all its forms, is sin, and there is no form of sin, that is not some modification of selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 596 577 Lecture IX. Dominion Over Sin ...

I suppose this text to have a similar meaning. It does not mean, that no person, under temptation, can fall under the power of an occasional sin; but that no form of sin shall be habitual--that no form of selfishness, or lust, shall in any such case, be habitual, in the soul, that is under grace--that no appetite, or passion, or temptation of any kind, should in this sense be able to bring the soul into bondage to sin.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 603 577 Lecture IX. Dominion Over Sin ...

4. To be under grace, is to be so united to Christ, by faith, as to receive a continual life, and influence from Him. He represents Himself, as a vine; and His children as the branches. And to be under grace, is to be united to Him, as a branch is united to the vine--so as to receive our continual support, and strength, and nourishment, and life from Him.

To be under grace, is to pass from death unto life--to be translated from the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of God's dear Son--to pass from the state of a condemned criminal, into a state of redemption, justification and adoption.

V. I am to show, that under the law, sin will have dominion over an unsanctified mind.

1. Because this is the certain effect of law upon a selfish mind. A selfish mind is seeking its own interests of course. And if it attempts to obey the law, it will be through selfish considerations--either through hope or fear. But in every such attempt, the mind must fail of course; for selfishness is the very thing which the law prohibits. And every attempt to obey from selfish motives, is only a grievous breach of the law. Therefore, if all former sins were canceled, and salvation depended upon future obedience to the law, salvation would in this way be forever impossible. Hence, if the mind attempted to obey for the sake of obtaining salvation, this would be selfishness, and disobedience; and in every such attempt, the mind must fail of course.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 606 577 Lecture IX. Dominion Over Sin ...

4. Selfishness will of course seek present and selfish gratification, until compelled, by deep conviction to desist. In which case, the will certainly takes refuge in a self-righteous attempt to obey the law, unless it understands that salvation is gratuitous, or a matter of grace. There seems to be, as a matter of fact, no other way in which the power of selfishness can be broken, except to annihilate the reasons for selfish efforts, by bringing home to the soul the truth, that salvation is by grace, through faith.

The effect of law upon a selfish mind, is beautifully illustrated by the Apostle, in the 7th chapter of Romans. The case there supposed is what the Apostle, as is common with him, represents as if it were his own experience. It appears, from its connection, to illustrate the influence of law over an unsanctified mind. It is plainly a case where sin was habitual --where it had dominion -- where the law of sin and death in the members so warred against the law of the mind, as to bring the soul into captivity. Now some have contended, and continue to contend, that the Apostle, in this chapter, describes the experience of a saint under grace. But this cannot be; because, in this case, it would flatly contradict the text upon which I am preaching. As I have said, the case described in the seventh of Romans, is a case in which sin undeniably has dominion, the very thing of which the Apostle complains. But the text affirms, that sin shall not have dominion over the soul, that is under grace. Besides, it is very plain, that in the seventh of Romans it was the influence of law, and not of grace, which the Apostle was discussing.

5. Another reason, why sin will have dominion under the law is, that under law men are left to unaided exercise of their own powers of moral agency without those gracious helps, which alone can induce true holiness. The law throws out its claims upon them, and requires the perfect use, and entire consecration of all their powers, to the service of God, and then leaves them to obey, or disobey at their peril. It neither secures, nor promises to them any aid; but requires them to go forth to the service of God--to love Him with all their heart, and their neighbor as themselves, on pain of death. Now in such circumstances, it is very plain, that a mind already selfish, will only be confirmed in selfishness, under such a dispensation.

VI. I am to show, that sin cannot have dominion over those, who are under grace.

1. Because the law is written in the heart, (i.e.) the spirit of the law has taken possession of the soul, and made us forever "free from the law of sin and death," which was in our members.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 607 577 Lecture IX. Dominion Over Sin ...

2. Because the soul has become acquainted with God, and with Christ, and has fallen deeply in love with their character. It delights in God, and exercises the very temper required by the law, uninfluenced by the hope of its rewards, or by the fear of its penalty. It is overcome and swallowed up with that love, that naturally results from a right acquaintance with God. Now in this state of mind, sin can no more have dominion over the soul--no form of selfishness can be habitual, any more than a wife, who loves her husband supremely, can become a habitual adulteress. A woman who loves her husband, might, by force of circumstances, and by some unexpected and powerful temptation, be led to sin against her husband; but for this to become habitual, while the supreme love of her husband continues, is a contradiction.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 617 577 Lecture IX. Dominion Over Sin ...

1. There is no sound religion where there is not universal reformation. It should be constantly and strictly observed, in all cases of professed conversion, whether the reformation in habits and life is universal --whether it extends to selfishness, and sinful lusts, and habits of every kind, and under every form. If any lust is spared--if selfishness, under any form, is indulged, and habitual--if any sinful habit still remains unbroken and unsubdued--that is not a sound conversion. No form of sin will have dominion, where conversion is real. Occasional sin may occur through the force of powerful temptation; but no form of sin will be indulged.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 620 577 Lecture IX. Dominion Over Sin ...

4. What can those persons think of themselves, who know, that they are under the dominion of selfishness, in some of its forms? Do they believe this text to be a direct, and palpable falsehood? If not, how can they indulge the hope, that they are Christians? This text asserts, as plainly as it can, that they are under the law, and not under grace.

 

 


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 653 634 Lecture X. Carefulness A Sin ...

9. Because it is selfishness. Persons are never filled with carefulness unless they have some selfish interest in that which excites their care. You see the most diligent and efficient clerks, and those employed in other people's business; and while they have a sufficient solicitude to be prompt and energetic in the business of their employers, yet they are not filled with care about it. When they have performed their duty they can eat, and sleep calmly, and quiet themselves without corroding carefulness, with regard to the results of their business.

Just so with the servants of God, if their hearts are right. They perform every thing for him, and consider nothing as their own business--are prompt and energetic in the discharge of their duties; and calmly and quietly leave all the results to the disposal of his providence. It is just so with them on all religious subjects. They know that themselves, and all they have, are his, for time and eternity. And they can as cheerfully submit their spiritual, as their temporal interests to His disposal without carefulness, "always rejoicing in the Lord."

III. I am to show how to avoid carefulness.

1. Consider the reasons against it. Many persons are so inconsiderate as never to avoid any sin of heart, or life to which they are strongly tempted. But without consideration it is not to be expected that sin of any kind will be avoided. Consideration might and doubtless would have prevented the sin of our first parents. And it is not probable, that any being does or would sin with all the considerations against sin fully before, and subject to the attention of the mind. Let a mind fully consider the moral character of this state, and all the reasons against it, even should it go no further than I have described in this discourse--that it is forbidden of God--that it is infidelity--that it is rebellion--that it is setting aside all the evidences of God's love--that it can never benefit you, nor any one else--that it destroys your own happiness, and the happiness of those with whom you are connected--that it is a stumbling block to the Church, and an occasion of blasphemy to the world--that it grieves and dishonors the blessed God--and is one of the most loathsome and detestable forms of selfishness--let the mind, I say, consider these things, and it would put away this sin from the heart.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 661 634 Lecture X. Carefulness A Sin ...

9. Trust in Christ for grace in this thing. Do not suppose that by any unaided efforts of your own you are to avoid carefulness. Selfishness is one of your most powerful enemies; and you may as well attempt to grapple with Satan in your own strength, as to put down selfishness without the aid of Christ. Remember that he is your life, your strength, your righteousness, your salvation and redemption, not only from the curse of the law; but from every form of sin. Cleave to him, and whenever you find yourself tempted to carefulness, be sure to lay all your cares upon him. He is able and desirous to bear all your burdens.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 760 677 Lecture XI. & XII The Promises- No.'s 1 - 5 ...

12. The Old Covenant was only a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. Gal. 3:24: "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." But the New Covenant is the reign of Christ in the heart. Jer. 31:31-34: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt;( which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord;) But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Jer. 32:39-40: "And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." Ezek. 36:25-27: "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." Col. 1:27: "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." 1 John 4:4: "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." Rom. 8:9: "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." Gal. 4:6: "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." Gal. 2:20: "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Rom. 8:10-11, 16: "And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 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." "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." Phil. 1:19: "For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ." Here observe that the Old Covenant was designed to strip us of self-righteousness, and show us our need of Christ--to develop our selfishness and enmity--and our entire helplessness and dependence upon a foreign influence to incline us to holiness; and thus preparing the way for our acceptance of Christ as an indwelling and reigning Savior. Then when the Old Covenant, as a schoolmaster, has brought us to Christ, the New enters. In other words--Christ enters the soul, takes up His residence there--writes the law of love in the heart--takes away the stony heart of flesh--makes the New Covenant with the soul--and sheds His divine influence over the entire moral being. Now if as much as this is not taught in these scriptures, and in various other parts of the Bible, what is taught? And if these texts are to be set aside, and explained away after the common manner of disposing of Scripture testimony on this subject, what doctrine or truth may not be expunged from the Bible?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 789 677 Lecture XI. & XII The Promises- No.'s 1 - 5 ...

10. Again, we hold on too long, i.e. we do not go from promise to promise, taking hold on them as they rise one above the other. Now it is manifest to those who have experience on the subject, that the promises are adapted to all possible states of mind, from the lowest degree of grace, and from the lowest depths of despondency, step by step, up to the highest degrees of holy confidence and triumph of which the human mind is capable. It often comes to pass, that when individuals have taken hold on some of those promises, designed to reach the Christian in his most languid state, such as "He giveth power to the faint, and to him that hath no might he increaseth strength." "The bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench till he bring forth judgment unto victory" that here he rests, and being comforted by these promises he does not proceed to take hold on promises suited to his state of mind as he rises, and thus rise quite out of the murky regions of his unbelief and selfishness, but contents himself with hanging upon that one, or those of that class, without rising any higher. It is impossible that a believer should remain stationary. He must go from strength to strength, or he will certainly insensibly decline. The promises are like a ladder that reaches from earth to heaven; and the cry continually is, come up higher, come up higher, and unless the mind is taken up with viewing the heights still above, and what is still to be attained, it is apt to become giddy with looking down upon those below, and dwelling upon its own attainments, and being lifted up with pride, falls into the condemnation of the devil.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 799 677 Lecture XI. & XII The Promises- No.'s 1 - 5 ...

22. Selfishness in our motives. Under one form and another, selfishness is often lurking in our applications to the throne of grace for promised blessings. God cannot be deceived in this. And unless our eye be single our whole body cannot be full of light.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 800 677 Lecture XI. & XII The Promises- No.'s 1 - 5 ...

23. Our experience of the inefficacy of prayer, such as we have so often offered in selfishness, operates as a discouragement, and we come to God in the peevishness of unbelief. We have so often come to God in our selfishness and pleaded his promises, overlooking the wickedness of our motives, that we are ready to conclude either that we have misunderstood the promises altogether--that the time has not come for their fulfillment, or for some reason our prayers cannot prevail, and therefore we do not expect to receive the blessing. We are straitened by our wants, and cry to God, but it is in the anguish of unbelief, and we are of course denied.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 1103 1087 Lecture XIX. Legal and Gospel Experience ...

Now it often comes to pass that backsliders and the unconverted, for they are both actuated by the same motives, and are equally under condemnation, it often comes to pass I say, that they have too much conviction to be at all satisfied with anything they do, and yet they are too much distressed to do nothing. They see and feel themselves condemned even for their prayers, and yet they will cry for mercy. They drive in this and that direction, and lay hold on every shrub or bush within their reach to pull themselves out of the pit, and yet their guilt and condemnation is increasing every moment they live. They read, and pray, and go to meeting, and stay at home, and think, and meditate, and seek, and strive, and yet they see and feel themselves condemned for all their striving and efforts, because supreme selfishness is at the bottom of them all. Such a soul finds itself ready to resolve and re-resolve, and heap up resolutions almost without end, but his resolutions are yielding as air before every breath of temptation, because they are made in the face of an antagonist principle. And selfishness is found to sweep away as a dam of sand all those resolutions and efforts, by which an attempt is made to withstand its influence. The truth is that in all such cases, selfishness is at the foundation of all those resolutions and efforts, and while the heart is in this state nothing but a dreadful delusion can keep the mind from seeing that it is in a horrible pit of miry clay--that turn which way it will--that do what it may, while selfishness remains, the guilt is increased by every act, and the soul is sinking more and more deeply under condemnation and wrath at every step. This is truly a desperate situation. To give up effort, the soul in this state will not, and to make such kinds of efforts is worse than useless, in as much as every one of them is sin, and increasing his condemnation. In this state of mind, for an individual to praise the Lord is entirely out of the question.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 1110 1087 Lecture XIX. Legal and Gospel Experience ...

6. It implies a ripe conviction of the voluntariness of his sin, and consequently the horribleness of his situation. He did not look upon his circumstances as calamitous, and a misfortune but as desperate wickedness. A man never sees the truly horrible nature and desperateness of his circumstances, until he sees that his voluntary selfishness is the only reason why he does not yield full and instantaneous obedience to God. And that this selfishness having grown with his growth, and strengthened with his strength, is sinking him every instant in the horrible pit of miry clay, and despite his resolutions, is sweeping him as with a flood to the depths of hell.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 1113 1087 Lecture XIX. Legal and Gospel Experience ...

This is an affecting figure. The language is peculiar. God is here represented as having his attention arrested by some distant cry of distress. A soul has fallen into a horrible pit, and lifts up his voice and cries. "Help! O God, help!" But receiving no answer he cries again. "Help! O my God, help!" Here God's attention is arrested. The cry comes into his ear. He is represented as stooping down--"he inclined unto me." He is represented as inclining in the direction of the cry, and holding himself in the attitude of intense listening. Again the cry breaks upon his ear, "Help! O my God, help!" And then hastening as upon the wings of the wind, he bows the heavens and comes down, and lifts the soul up from the horrible pit of miry clay. This language implies,

1. Deliverance from that state of mind in which all his efforts were selfish and sinful--a breaking up of the influence of self upon the mind, and filling it with love, so as to give it the consciousness that it really rendered acceptable service to God. While under legal influence, he felt continually that his services were not accepted or acceptable--that they could not and ought not to be accepted by a holy God--that his best services were selfishness and rendered it more and more impossible for God to justify and save him.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 1115 1087 Lecture XIX. Legal and Gospel Experience ...

3. This expresses the experience of a soul who is led to lay hold on Christ by faith. His feet are set upon the rock Christ. Faith that produces love breaks the yoke of bondage, of selfishness, of death, and admits the soul at once into the rest and liberty of joy, and faith, and love. If any of you have passed through this state of mind, you do not need that I should say any thing to make you understand it; and if you have not, say what I would, you would understand but very little about it.

IV. What is meant by having his goings established.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 1120 1087 Lecture XIX. Legal and Gospel Experience ...

1. Great multitudes of souls are in the horrible pit of miry clay. From my own observation, I am convinced that the great mass even of those who are called the most pious in the churches, are in a state of legal bondage, and have gone no further in religion than to find themselves in a state of almost continual condemnation. They have conviction enough to make them miserable. They are driven and dragged by their consciences and the law of God--are struggling and resolving, but are under the influence of so much selfishness as to be continually crying out, as in the case supposed by the Apostle in the seventh of Romans, "When I would do good, evil is present with me." "I find a law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity." "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 1142 1132 Lecture XX. How to Prevent Our Employments from Injuring Our Souls ...

3. Idleness can result only from selfishness. A man must love his own ease supremely to be idle in a world like this.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 1148 1132 Lecture XX. How to Prevent Our Employments from Injuring Our Souls ...

2. Speculation is not a lawful employment. To embark in uncertain speculations involves in it the principle of gambling, and is eminently the spirit of gambling. It is a game of chance, where one of the parties must gain and the other lose, and where selfishness stalks abroad naked to grasp every man's wealth without blushing.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 1149 1132 Lecture XX. How to Prevent Our Employments from Injuring Our Souls ...

3. To be lawful, an employment must not be selfish. All selfishness is sin. And every employment however lawful it may be in itself, is rendered unlawful by being selfishly pursued.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 1166 1132 Lecture XX. How to Prevent Our Employments from Injuring Our Souls ...

3. Be sure that you do nothing selfishly. If you allow selfishness in any of its forms to come in and to have a place in your employments, you are already departed from God, and your business, whether spiritual, intellectual or whatever it may be, has become an abomination to God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 1189 1132 Lecture XX. How to Prevent Our Employments from Injuring Our Souls ...

16. Not one of the employments that are essential to the highest good of mankind, has any natural and necessary tendency to alienate the heart from God. By this, I do not mean that the perverted state of the human heart, is not such that it is natural for it, being in a state of selfishness, to take occasion to depart from God in these employments. But I do mean, that the real tendency of all these employments, to a mind not given up to selfishness, is to increase and perpetuate the deepest communion with God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 1191 1132 Lecture XX. How to Prevent Our Employments from Injuring Our Souls ...

18. If you have been called of God to any employment, and have become selfish in it, it has become an abomination to God, and you are bound to abandon it instantly or to renounce your selfishness, and diligently pursue your employment for God. By this, I do not mean that you would do right to abandon the employment to which God has called you, but that if you will not repent, and be "fervent in spirit serving the Lord," you are as far as possible from pleasing him in pursuing your business selfishly. If God be not with you, in any employment, whether it be study, the ministry, merchandise, farming. or any thing else, if God does not go with you in it you are certainly out of the way, are bound to reform, to turn instantly and wholly to the Lord, and go not a step forward until you have evidence of the Divine acceptance.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1839 paragraph 1226 1195 Lecture XXI. & XXII. Grieving the Holy Spirit- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

18. Every neglect of duty grieves the Holy Spirit. In reading President Edwards' account of his wife's experience, I was struck with a remark to this effect, that when she was in the highest exercise of grace, she was deeply impressed with the fact, that so much of religion consisted in the discharge of relative and social duties. Many people seem to overlook this part of religion and content themselves with what they call devotion to God. What they mean by devotion is praying, reading the Bible, attending on the exercises of the Sabbath, giving their money to benevolent objects, and such like things, while in their temper they exhibit any thing but the spirit of Christ. Now Christianity wherever it truly exists, will, from its very nature, develop itself to the view of men mainly in its influence in making them discharge all their social and relative duties; and if it be not apparent here it is certain that it does not really exist. There is such a vast amount of negligence among professors of religion as to render it almost certain were there nothing else forbidding in their history that multitudes of them have no religion at all. Some neglect to pay their debts. Not long since I published a sermon on "being in debt," since which I have seen several efforts in some of the religious periodicals to put down or set aside the principles of that sermon, and to remove the pressure from the conscience of the Church and the world in regard to their negligence in this respect. Some have misconceived and of course misrepresented the doctrines of the sermon. Others, by criticisms upon the text, have endeavored to show that it was not a command to abstain from being in debt. It is not now the time or place to reply to those remarks. But I would here simply say that the doctrine of that sermon, that it is a sin to be in debt, is eternal and unalterable truth, whether that particular text prohibits it or not. To deny this is the same absurdity as to say that you may owe a man and be under no obligation to pay him, and the same contradiction as to say that you may neglect or refuse to discharge your obligation without sin. Now what is sin but the violation of an obligation, and what is an obligation but to owe a man? To what then do all such criticisms amount as these to which I have alluded? Do such editors and newspaper-writers expect to set aside the principles of eternal justice, and to persuade mankind that it is not sinful to be in debt or to suffer their obligations to go uncanceled by mere criticisms upon a text? The doctrine of that sermon is true, and self-evident truth, entirely irrespective of its being taught in that or any other text in the Bible. If there were no Bible, that is a truth which must stand forever; and to deny it is a palpable absurdity.

But again let me say that many neglect to do things when and as they ought to be done. Now it is certainly a part of religion to do everything incumbent upon us at the right time and in the right manner, and any and every negligence in this respect is sin. Have you an appointment to meet a neighbor at a particular hour for the transaction of business; be there at the moment, lest you hinder him and all others associated with you in the affair. Is there an appointment for a Church or any other religious meeting, for worship or the transaction of business; be there at the moment, lest you interrupt or hinder the business or devotion of others. Have you engaged to do any thing for your neighbor or for any man or woman on earth, see that you do it just when and as it ought to be done. And in short, no man can keep a conscience void of offense--no man can fulfill the law of love--no man can abstain from grieving the Holy Spirit but by a most faithful and constant discharge of every duty to God or man.

19. Every form of selfishness grieves the Holy Spirit. I have often taught in my sermons that selfishness and sin are synonymous terms. By selfishness, I have often said that I do not mean the mere desire of your own happiness, for this is natural. It is self love, and not selfishness. But when even this desire becomes supreme, and leads you to sacrifice greater interests, for the sake of promoting your own, this is selfishness; and in whatsoever form it is cherished or exhibited, it is an utter abomination to God. How odious and detestable does selfishness appear to God, when he sees it exercised among his children in their intercourse with each other. If you are a parent, you know how you are grieved and offended, if you see one of your little ones bent upon gratifying himself at the expense of the good or happiness of the rest of your children. Now "if you being evil" are so stung and grieved with such a spirit as this, how much more shall your Heavenly Father be grieved at such an exhibition of selfishness among his children?

But there are so many ways in which the Holy Spirit may be grieved, that I must resume the subject, and also show the consequences of grieving the Holy Spirit in my next.


 

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 73 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

Just as a man who is supremely devoted to his family may be acting consistently with his supreme affection, and rendering them the most important and perfect service, while he does not think of them at all. As I have endeavored to show, in my lecture on the text, "Make to yourselves a new heart, and a new spirit," I consider the moral heart to be the mind's supreme preference. As I there stated, the natural, or fleshy heart, is the seat of animal life, and propels the blood through all the physical system. Now there is a striking analogy between this and the moral heart. And the analogy consists in this, that as the natural heart, by its pulsations diffuses life through the physical system; so the moral heart, or the supreme governing preference of the mind is that which gives life and character to man's moral actions; (e.g.,) suppose that I am engaged in teaching Mathematics. In this, the supreme desire of my mind is to glorify God, in this particular calling. Now in demonstrating some of its intricate propositions, I am obliged, for hours together, to give the entire attention of my mind to that object. Now, while my mind is thus intensely employed in this particular business, it is impossible that I should have any thoughts directly about God, or should exercise any direct affections, or emotions, or volitions towards him. Yet if, in this particular calling, all selfishness is excluded, and my supreme design is to glorify God, my mind is in a sanctified state, even though for the time being, I do not think of God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 74 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

It should be understood, that while the supreme preference of the mind has such efficiency, as to exclude all selfishness, and to call forth just that strength of volition, thought, affection, and emotion, that is requisite to the right discharge of any duty, to which the mind may be called, the heart is in a sanctified state. By a suitable degree of thought, and feeling, to the right discharge of duty, I mean just that intensity of thought, and energy of action, that the nature and importance of the particular duty to which, for the time being, I am called, demand.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 116 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

(4.) This love is to be in every instance equal. By equal I do not mean that degree of love which selfish beings have for themselves; for this is supreme. There is a grand distinction between self-love and selfishness. Self-love is that benevolence to self or regard for our own interest, which its intrinsic importance demands. Selfishness is the excess of self-love: i.e. it is supreme self-love-- it is making our own happiness the supreme object of pursuit, because it is our own. And not attaching that importance to other's interests, and the happiness of other beings, which their relative value demands. A selfish mind is therefore in the exercise of the supreme love of self.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 121 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

Nor does it require or permit us to lend money to speculators, or for speculating purposes, or in any way to encourage selfishness.

(c) But by equal love is meant, as I have said, the same love in kind and degree, which it is lawful for us to exercise towards ourselves. It is lawful, nay, it is our duty to exercise a suitable regard to our own happiness. This is benevolence to self, or what is commonly called self-love. The same, both in kind and degree, we are required to exercise to all our fellow men.
 

(5.) Another feature of holy love is that it must be impartial; i.e. it must extend to enemies as well as friends. Else it is selfish love, and comes under the reprobation of the Savior, in the passage before quoted, Luke 6:32-34: "For if ye love them who love you what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same," &c.

Now observe that this test must always be applied to the kind of love we exercise to our fellow men, in order to understand its genuineness-- God's love is love to enemies. It was for his enemies that he gave his Son. Our love must be the same in kind-- it must extend to enemies, as well as friends. And if it does not, it is partial and selfish.

2. Entire Sanctification implies, entire conformity of heart and life to all the known will of God however it may be made known-- to both physical and moral law so far as they are known.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 128 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

9. It does imply the subjugation of all our appetites and passions to the will of God. I have already said that the sin of Adam consisted in preferring the gratification of his appetites to the will of God. This is the sin of all men. This is the substance and the history of selfishness. Now entire obedience to the law of God does imply that no appetite or susceptibility of body or mind shall be gratified in opposition to the known will of God. But on the other hand, that "the whole body, soul and spirit" shall be held in a state of entire consecration to God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 132 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

He did so. And the reason is very obvious. The people possessed but very limited means of information. Copies of the law were very scarce and utterly inaccessible to the great mass of the people. So that while He held them sufficiently responsible to engage their memories to retain a knowledge of their duty and to search it out with all diligence, yet it is plain that He held them responsible in a vastly lower sense that He does those who have higher means of information. The responsibility of the heathen was less than that of the Jews-- that of the Jews less than that of Christians-- and that of Christians in the early ages of the Church, before the canon of scripture was full and copies multiplied, much less than that of Christians at the present day.

11. It implies the complete annihilation of selfishness under all its forms, and a practical and hearty recognition of the rights and interests of our neighbor. Let me point out in a few particulars what the law of God prohibits and what it requires in these particulars, as stated in a former lecture.
 

(1.) It prohibits all supreme self-love, or selfishness. The command, "love thy neighbor as thyself," implies, not that we should love our neighbor supremely, as selfish men love themselves; but that we should love ourselves, in the first place, and pursue our happiness, only according to its real value, in the scale of being. But I need not dwell upon this; as it will not probably be doubted, that this precept prohibits supreme self-love.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 135 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

(4.) It prohibits, of course, every degree of ill will, and all those feelings that are necessarily connected with selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 139 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

(9.) It justly reprobates any violation of the great principle of equal love, as rebellion against the whole universe. It is rebellion against God, because it is a rejection of his authority-- and selfishness, under any form, is a setting up of our own interests, in opposition to the interests of the universe of God.
 

12. Entire Sanctification implies a willingness to exercise self-denial, even unto death, for the glory of God and good of man, did they require it. The Apostle teaches us that "we ought to be willing to lay down our lives for the brethren," as Christ laid down his life.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 382 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

(2.) A laying hold upon all those truths upon which this state of mind depends, especially a full realization and belief of the sacred record God has given of His Son, "that his blood cleanseth us from all sin." It is easy to see that the realization and belief of the infinite love of God, as manifested in Christ Jesus, would have a tendency to fill the mind with unutterable and constant love to God--to annihilate selfishness--and beget the most cordial and perfect love to man. This result is instantaneous on the exercise of faith, and in this sense sanctification is an instantaneous work.
 

5. God is able to produce entire sanctification in any soul, when he is pleased to do so.

This appears to be plainly taught by Christ, when he spoke of the ability of God to save the rich. He asserts that their salvation is more difficult "than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle." And when the disciples expressed their astonishment, He replied, that "with God all things are possible." Now this seems to be a case in point. To sanctify the rich is the only difficulty in the way of their salvation. And Christ has asserted, that God is able not only to sanctify them, but that "all things are possible with Him," i.e. that there is no limit to His ability in this respect.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 388 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

3. Not by any direct efforts to feel right. Many spend their time in vain efforts to force themselves into a right state of feeling. Now it should be for ever understood, that neither faith, love, nor repentance, nor any other right feeling is ever the result of a direct effort to put forth those exercises. But on the contrary, they are the spontaneous actings of the mind when it has under its direct and deep consideration the objects of faith, and love, and repentance. By spontaneous, I do not mean involuntary. They are the voluntary and the most easy & natural states of mind possible under such circumstances. So far from its requiring an effort to put them forth, it would rather require an effort to prevent them, when the mind is intensely considering those objects & considerations which have a natural tendency to produce them. This is so true that when persons are in the exercise of such affections, they feel no difficulty at all in their exercise, but wonder how any one can help feeling as they do. It seems to them so natural, so easy, and I may say, so almost unavoidable, that they often feel and express astonishment that any one should find it difficult to love, believe, or repent. The course that many persons take on the subject of religion has often appeared wonderful to me. They make themselves, their own state and interests, the central point, around which their own minds are continually revolving. Their selfishness is so great, that their own interests, happiness, and salvation, fill their whole field of vision. And with their thoughts and anxieties, and whole souls clustering around their own salvation, they complain of a hard heart--that they cannot love God--that they do not repent, and cannot believe. Being conscious that they do not feel right, they are the most concerned about themselves, which concern but increases their embarrassment and the difficulty of exercising right affections. The deeper they feel the more they try to feel--the greater efforts they make to feel without success, the more they are alarmed and discouraged, the more are they confirmed in their selfishness, and the more are their thoughts glued to their own interests, and they are of course at a greater and greater distance from any right state of feeling. And thus their selfish anxieties beget ineffectual efforts, and ineffectual efforts but deepen their anxieties. And if in this state, death should appear in a visible form before them, or the last trumpet sound, and they should be summoned to the solemn Judgment, it would but increase their distraction, confirm and almost give omnipotence to their selfishness, and render their sanctification morally impossible.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 410 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

(6.) The truths to be believed, in order to induce this state of mind, are those which comprise "the record that God hath given of His Son." The mind needs to apprehend God in Christ. To be like God, we must know what He is. To be led to a spontaneous consecration of all to Him, our selfishness must be overcome by a knowledge of what God is. And this knowledge is to be obtained only by seeing God in Christ. For this very purpose God took to Himself human nature, that He might reveal Himself to the sons of men, and thus possess their minds of a true knowledge of His character.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 413 21 Lectures I. - IX. Sanctification- No.'s 1 - 9 ...

(b) There is a vastly greater amount of the Holy Spirit's influences exerted under this dispensation. The Old made nothing perfect, because of the obscure nature of the revelation of Christ, and because there was such a want of divine influence as fully to posses the mind of the truths indispensable to sanctification. The mind must know enough of God to slay selfishness, and without this, neither love or sanctification is possible. The New, blessed be God, with the influences of the Holy Spirit, have brought us into the clear sunlight, and so revealed God as to overcome sin.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 472 452 Lectures X. & XI. Unbelief- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

9. Unbelief often manifests itself in the interpretation of the Bible. Unitarians can see no sufficient evidence of the divinity of Jesus Christ. And why? Because of unbelief. It is remarkable to see to what an extent unbelief is the grand rule of biblical interpretation in the Church. Take for example, 2 Cor. 6:16-18: "And what agreement hath the temple of the living God; as God has 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 will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." Now what an infinitely different inference the Apostle drew from these promises from what is generally drawn: (2 Cor. 7:1:) "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." Here Paul saw in these promises such a fulness of meaning, as to infer at once from them, even if there were no other kindred promises in the Bible, the practicability of attaining a state of entire sanctification or holiness in this life. Mark the strength of his language. He exhorts them to "cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God." How easy it is to see that his faith apprehended an infinitely greater fulness in the meaning of these promises then is seen by the heart of unbelief. And why should he not make the inference he does?--for he says: "Ye are the temple 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 will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." Certainly the inference which the Apostle draws in the first verse of the next chapter, or rather the exhortation or command, as it may be regarded, to avail ourselves of the provisions, and "perfect holiness in the fear of God;" is eminently reasonable. And yet unbelief sees no satisfactory reason, either in these or in all the promises of the Bible, to warrant the conclusion, that as a matter of fact any such state is attainable in this life.

Hear that spiritual minded woman converse with her minister, of the great fulness there is in Christ. While she speaks in general terms he consents to all she says, that there is indeed unspeakable and infinite fulness in Christ. But where does she see this fulness? Why, in the scripture declarations and promises of God's word. Now let her begin to quote them one after another as she understands them, and he will probably demur to her views of every one of them, and consider her notions as utterly extravagant, and perhaps fanatical. He consents in general to the fulness that is in Christ, but explains away in the detail, all the evidence of that fulness as apprehended by a spiritual mind. The truth is, that a spiritual mind, and a spiritual mind only, understands the real meaning of the Bible. And nothing is more common than for persons in a state of unbelief to read again and again, any and every passage in the Bible, without apprehending the real meaning of the Holy Spirit. And a man in this state of mind has, as a matter of fact, never begun to understand the fulness there is in Jesus Christ, nor the depth and extent of meaning in the declarations and promises of the Bible.

10. Stumbling at difficulties, is another manifestation of unbelief. There is a large class of minds that seem not to be under the influence of evidence, especially upon those subjects that in any way clash with their own interests. However weighty the evidence may be, the suggestion of the least difficulty is to them an insurmountable stumbling-block, and the shadow of an objection seems to bring them to a dead stand in regard to all progress in reform, and to give them right over to the dominion of appetite, lust, and every form of selfishness. They are eagle-eyed in discovering an objection, and seem not to have the faculty at all to answer and remove objections. A slight objection or difficulty is a sufficient reason even for their resisting the evidence of miracles. Even demonstration itself, does not in such cases seem to move their hearts. If an answer to their difficulty be suggested to them, they heed it not but for a moment, for perhaps the next hour, or the next day, you will find them still hanging up their doubts, upon their old and perhaps often answered objections, and going stubbornly on in their sins. This is a most guilty and abominable state of mind. With what odiousness did it manifest itself among the Jews, when neither the life, nor the doctrine, nor the miracles, nor the death, nor the resurrection of Christ, could convince them. Certain preconceived notions of what Christ would be--certain false and absurd interpretations of prophecy in regard to Him, were sufficient objections in their minds to break the power of all the evidence with which Christ brought forth the demonstration of His Messiahship.

It is often amazing and distressing to see how unbelief will paralize the power of testimony in favor of truth, insomuch that no weight or accumulation of evidence can gain ascendancy over the intellect and the heart in the presence of objections oftentimes the most ridiculous.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 485 452 Lectures X. & XI. Unbelief- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

18. All pleading the promises of God without this inward, felt, unwavering assurance of mind, where the promise is plain and the application just, is an instance of unbelief. When Paul prayed against the thorn in the flesh, he had no express promise that that thorn should be removed. He was not therefore bound to believe that it would be. So Christ had no express promise that His agony in the garden should be removed. In neither of these cases did perfect faith in God, imply the belief that the particular things requested would be granted. But had there been an express promise in either or both of these cases, they both would have had the right, and been under an obligation to exercise the most unwavering assurance, that the specific blessing promised should be granted. It should be understood, therefore, that in pleading the promises of God, with a just apprehension and understanding of them, every state of mind is unbelief that falls short of the most unwavering assurance, that the thing promised shall be granted, according to the true tenor and meaning of the promise. All uneasiness of mind in regard to the event--all unhappiness through fear, that it will not be granted--every thing short of the utmost repose of mind in the veracity of God, is God-dishonoring unbelief. Suppose a student should receive letters from his father, containing the strongest assurances, that he would supply all his wants, giving him the fullest liberty to draw on him at any time for any amount he needed; and suppose it were well known that his father's fortune was very ample, and there could be no doubt of his ability to fulfill his promises; and suppose that his father's promises were backed up by oaths and the most abundant assurances that could be expressed in words: and now suppose this student is seen to be full of anxiety and carefulness about his support; laying his plans and making arrangements to help himself, entirely independent of his father's aid. It would be manifest at once, that he had no confidence in his father's assurances. Every body would infer at once, that however rich his father might be, no confidence could be placed in his veracity. Every one might say, "You see how it is. This young man is acquainted with his father. We have seen his letters. We know what abundant promises he has given, and yet as a matter of fact, his son has not a particle of confidence in these assurances." The inference of a want of integrity in his father would be natural and certain.

Now, Christian, did you ever consider how horrible your conduct is in the eyes of an unbelieving world. They know what promises your Father has made, and they see by your anxiety and worldly-mindedness how little confidence you have in these promises. They witness your carefulness and worldly spirit, and think in their hearts, these Christians know that God is not to be trusted, for as a matter of fact they have no confidence in His promises. Now how can you in any way more deeply wound religion, than in this--more awfully and horribly dishonor God? It is a most shameful publishing, in the most impressive manner possible, that you believe God to be a liar!

19. Not realizing that Christ died for you in particular, is another development of unbelief. The Apostle says, that "Christ tasted death for every man." Now what state of mind is that which does not realize and feel assured, that He died for you? There is a great deal of complaining in the Church, that individuals cannot feel as if Christ died for them in particular. If He died for every man, He died for you as an individual, and every want of realizing and feeling the inward assurance of this is unbelief. It is the mind's hiding itself in the darkness of its own selfishness. You believe that he died for all men--that "He tasted death for every man;" but cannot make it seem as if He died for you. Thus you parry obligation, and hide away from realizing that your sins nailed him to the cross, and that your soul is guilty of His death, and that his love has rolled a mountain weight of responsibility upon you. It is time for you to realize that this is nothing but unbelief, and a virtual contradiction of the truth that "Christ tasted death for every man." No wonder your heart is not subdued. No wonder you are in bondage to your sins. No wonder your lusts and appetites have dominion over you, while you are so unbelieving as not to realize that what God has said is true.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 492 452 Lectures X. & XI. Unbelief- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

III. The unreasonableness of unbelief.

1. It is unreasonable, because confidence in testimony is natural to man. This is a law of his being. And until selfishness comes to take possession of his heart and blind him, in respect to any truth or thing that opposes his will or inclinations, it is one of the easiest and most natural exercises of the human mind, to confide in testimony. This is strikingly manifest in the conduct of very young children.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 503 452 Lectures X. & XI. Unbelief- No.'s 1 & 2 ...


IV. Causes or occasions of unbelief.

1. Selfishness prevents attention to the evidence of God's character. Men are so taken up with seeking their own private interests as to have very little time for consideration in regard to the real character of God as manifested in the works of creation, providence, and grace. Men in their delirious scramble after their selfish interests almost lose the idea even of the existence of God, and to all practical purposes they often quite do this.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 504 452 Lectures X. & XI. Unbelief- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

2. The selfishness of men prevents their receiving the idea that God is benevolence. Being conscious of their own selfishness, and witnessing the same principle in all around them, they come to regard all intelligent beings as selfish. It is amazing to see how difficult it is to possess the human mind of the true knowledge of God. God charges mankind with thinking that he is altogether such a one as they are; and to judge others by ourselves is indeed very natural, however presumptuous and blasphemous it may be in respect to God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 529 452 Lectures X. & XI. Unbelief- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

7. It is the cause of all other sins. A little reflection will convince any one who will look at the subject, that unbelief or the withholding a felt confidence in the character, word, and promises of God, is the cause of worldly mindedness, and selfishness, under all the forms in which they exist in this world. Let the mind but have a conscious realizing assurance, that all the infinitely interesting things contained in the Bible are realities, and it instantly breaks the power of selfishness and pride, and every other abomination, and delivers the soul up to the entire dominion of truth.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 575 552 Lecture XII. Blessedness of Benevolence ...

9. The Christian's happiness consists in the present and eternal indulgence of a ruling propensity or disposition to do good. A Christian has nothing else to do any more than God has. And from the very moment of his conversion, he has nothing to do to all eternity but to pursue uninterruptedly and as zealously as he pleases, the ruling disposition of his soul. And God has so circumstanced him, as to surround him continually with objects upon which he can gratify his benevolence. He has an ample field for the exercise and pouring out of all the benevolence of his soul, in efforts to do good; without ever, for one hour, being called off from that which constitutes his chief delight--from pursuing and indulging without restraint, the grand, peculiar, absorbing disposition of his soul.

III. Several forms of delusion.

1. Many seem to mistake light for religion. They get some new views of religious truth which produce a corresponding excitement of mind, and they bustle about, under the impression that this excitement is religion; when, at the same time, if they would narrowly watch, it would be seen that their heart is still selfish, and not benevolent--that their ruling propensity or disposition is not changed--that while they are excited by their new views of religious truth, it is emotion and not will that is active. Their business habits and transactions will soon develop the fact, that selfishness is, after all, in some form, the ruling propensity of their mind. In all such cases, there is of course a radical mistake, a fatal delusion, under which the mind is laboring.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 578 552 Lecture XII. Blessedness of Benevolence ...

(3.) The absence of that abiding soul satisfaction which belongs to the exercise and gratification of benevolent feeling. Many very zealous persons are any thing but truly happy in the exercise of the affections which are working within them. They carry with them all the while a sense of condemnation. They feel as if their holiest exercises needed to be confessed as sins, and there is all the time a grating and friction within, and a felt consciousness, that all is not right, a sense of defilement, a want of integrity and perfect uprightness of intention, and a consciousness of more or less selfishness in every thing they say or do. Now persons in this state of mind do not conceive what a clean heart is. They do not understand the immense and radical difference between their feelings and the exercises of a purely benevolent mind. How a person can live without condemnation, they cannot understand. And their experience being what it is, they of course look with great suspicion upon any who profess to live without a sense of condemnation, and judge of course that it is because they are not well acquainted with their own hearts, and also are ignorant of the purity of God's law. Now I can understand very well, from my own experience, what this state of mind is. I know very well what it is to have a legal zeal, that would compass sea and land to make a proselyte, and yet carry with it, as if woven into its very texture, the sense of condemnation. The fact is, the mind is so constructed that whenever it is enlightened, it cannot be satisfied with a legal zeal. Nothing but the exercise of unmixed benevolence can make it happy. Nothing but a conscious exercise of right affections can free it from the sting of self-condemnation. Herein is a vast delusion. Persons in this state of mind are very apt to suppose that there is no other state than this to which Christians may attain in this life, and to judge, and censure, and condemn all who profess the consciousness of a clean heart.
 

3. Many mistake emotion for disposition. They do not distinguish between the emotions which constitute their excitement of mind and that controlling disposition, or state of the will, that constitutes true benevolence.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 580 552 Lecture XII. Blessedness of Benevolence ...

5. There are many instances in which individuals are deceived, by setting down to the account of benevolence that which as a matter of fact, is only one form of selfishness triumphing over another. As for example:
 

(1.) The love of reputation may be the supreme ruling propensity of mind, and triumph over lust, intemperance, and a host of other subordinate propensities. So that a man or a woman may be liberal in giving, chaste in conversation and deportment, and of temperate habits; and all this may be put to the account of true benevolence, or religion, when it should be ascribed only to the love of reputation.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 583 552 Lecture XII. Blessedness of Benevolence ...

(4.) Selfish fears and hopes may restrain inward wickedness, and all these restraints may be, and often are, supposed to result from pure benevolence, when in fact they are only one form of selfishness, controlling and subordinating other forms of the same principle.
 

6. The only remaining form of delusion, that I shall now notice, is, where the individual's happiness consists, not in the exercise of his benevolence, but in the consideration of his own safety. We sometimes see persons settle down into an Antinomian security, and manifest great quietness and peace of mind, where happiness and peace are manifestly based upon the consideration of their own safety. Now this is as far as possible from a truly religious state of mind. Real religious happiness arises out of the true saint. To be sure, the contemplation of the grace of Christ, the joys of Heaven, and an eternity of blessedness at God's right hand, come in to make up the aggregate of a Christian's happiness; but the basis and foundation of the whole is that which belongs to the exercise and gratification of benevolent affections themselves.

REMARKS.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 584 552 Lecture XII. Blessedness of Benevolence ...

1. The natural heart does not apprehend the true nature of religion. I have often wondered what sceptics can be thinking about, and how it is that they can have any doubts of the necessity of a change of heart. But a consideration of the selfishness of their hearts, explains the whole difficulty. God's state of mind is the exact opposite of their own. Benevolence is the contrast of a selfish disposition. Selfishness finds its happiness in getting; benevolence, in giving. Selfishness is always endeavoring to promote its own, and benevolence the happiness of others.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 585 552 Lecture XII. Blessedness of Benevolence ...

2. This remark leads me to say, that we can here see the necessity of examples, to illustrate the true nature of religion. A leading object of Christ in taking to Himself human nature was, to associate with men, and possess their minds of the true idea of God's character, so to live and associate with them, that they might observe what God would be as a Neighbor, or Brother, or Son, or Friend; what spirit and temper He possessed, and would manifest, under the circumstances in which men are. As soon as a few had caught the rare idea, that God was love, He sends them forth, "as sheep among wolves," to lay down their lives, as He had done, for a rebellious world. They catch His spirit, imitate His example, and the waves of salvation roll wherever they go; and a few years had well nigh seen a world prostate at the feet of Christ. But alas! the state, with her selfish and polluting embrace, soon seduced the Church into selfishness and apostacy from God. And the world can never be converted, only as examples and illustrations of what true religion is, are held up in the lives of professed Christians, before the eyes of men.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 589 552 Lecture XII. Blessedness of Benevolence ...

6. You see what constitutes the unhappiness of many professors of religion. It is selfishness. It is naturally impossible, that a selfish mind should be happy. Selfishness lets loose an infernal brood of scorpions and vipers, to sting the soul's happiness to death.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 593 552 Lecture XII. Blessedness of Benevolence ...

10. From this subject it is easy to see, of what spirit those are who are ready to murmur at others possessing good things, of which themselves are deprived. Did you ever see a family of selfish children, and witness their complainings and murmurings, whenever something was bestowed upon one, which the others had not received? "Now, Ma, you have given brother such a thing and have not given it to me. Now let me have the best things; let me have the largest piece, and the most and best of every thing." Now this is a supremely hateful spirit; but it is exactly the spirit of many professors of religion. Instead of rejoicing to see their brothers and sisters blest with temporal or spiritual good things, they are ready to murmur and be offended, because these thing are not bestowed on them. This manifests the supreme selfishness of their minds, and affords the highest demonstration that they are not Christians.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 598 552 Lecture XII. Blessedness of Benevolence ...

15. We see what we should think of those who are unwilling to exercise any self-denial, for the sake of doing good to others. There is one man, who will not give up what he calls the temperate use of alcohol, for the sake of doing good. He contends, that it is lawful for him to use it moderately; that others have no right to make a stumbling-block of his use of it; and as for practising a little self-denial for the sake of the example, he will not do it. Here is a woman, who professes to love God supremely, and her neighbor as herself. She prays for the heathen, and thinks herself truly religious; and yet, she will not deny herself the use of tea and coffee, to save the heathen world from hell. The wail of eight hundred millions of human beings is coming upon every wind of heaven, crying out, "send us tracts, send us Bibles, send us missionaries, send us the means of eternal life; for we are dying in our sins." "But ah!" says these professing Christians, men and women-- "It is hard times; money is scarce; we are in debt; we must turn away our ears from hearing these wailings of woe." Now brother--sister--let me sit down at your table. What have you here? How much does this tea and coffee cost you a year? How much do these worse than useless articles of luxury curtail your ability to send the gospel to the perishing? My sister, how many Bibles and tracts have you used up in this way? How many Bibles, at five shillings each, might be sent by you to the heathen every year, were you willing to exercise a little self-denial, and that too, a self-denial which your own health and highest good demand? Brother, perhaps you use tobacco. How long have you used it? The price of how many Bibles does it cost you a year? And how many heathen might this day have had Bibles in their hands, who will now go down to hell, without ever hearing of the Savior, who might have had the Bible and eternal life, had you had one particle of benevolence in your heart? Will you make the calculation? Will you ask, how many Bibles and tracts might have been purchased by the money you have squandered in this manner? And will you settle the question, definitely, whether you are influenced by the love of God and of souls? Whether you eat and drink these things for the glory of God, or for the gratification of your own lust? Surely, the question is of no less importance, than whether benevolence or selfishness constitutes your character.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 602 552 Lecture XII. Blessedness of Benevolence ...

19. In the light of this subject, you can see that there is no true spirituality without real benevolence of heart and life. Many persons seem to be engaged in a most absurd attempt to keep up spirituality and a spirit of prayer and intercourse with God, while they live and conduct their business upon principles of selfishness. Now nothing can be a greater insult to God, than this--to pray for His Spirit, to attempt to have intercourse with Him, or even pretend to be His friend, while as a matter of fact selfishness is the rule of your life.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 606 552 Lecture XII. Blessedness of Benevolence ...

23. You see the secret of all unbelief in prayer. It is our own selfishness. I have already said that a selfish mind finds it difficult to conceive of the true character of God. A selfish man knows that he gives grudgingly; and he very naturally conceives of God, as being altogether such a one as himself. He finds it exceedingly difficult to get hold of the rare and great idea, that God is his exact opposite in this respect--that giving is His happiness--that He has infinitely more satisfaction in giving good things, than we have in receiving them--that He has greater pleasure in giving things, than the most avaricious man on earth has in getting. But it is no wonder that selfish minds are slow to understand and believe this.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 681 665 Lecture XIV. Death to Sin ...

Summarily, death to sin consists in the annihilation of selfishness, and the reign of perfect love to God and man in the heart and life.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 704 665 Lecture XIV. Death to Sin ...

11. If persons have entered into this state of mind, new trials may call for fresh baptisms of the Spirit. While we are in this world of temptation, we are never beyond the reach of sin and never out of danger. If selfishness could be called into exercise in holy Adam, how much more so in those who have lived so long under the dominion of selfishness? If a man has been intemperate or licentious although these appetites and propensities may be subdued, yet it behooves him to keep out of temptation's way; and renewed temptation calls for fresh and more powerful baptisms of the Holy Spirit. Be not satisfied then with one anointing. But look day by day for deeper draughts of the water of life.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 722 708 Lecture XV. The Gospel the Savor of Life or of Death ...

5. The bearing of the Atonement upon the universe, must have given it great value in the sight of God. But I shall enlarge upon this thought under the next head, viz.:

II. A full exhibition of Christ must do great good, whether men are saved or lost.

1. Because it fully reveals and demonstrates the infinitely great love of God to the universe. Should the province of an earthly monarch be betrayed into rebellion by slander, and the insinuation of selfishness in the government, would it not be highly honorable to the sovereign, instead of sending forth his armies, to crush and slay them, to send forth his son to expostulate, instruct, and insure them of the disinterested love and good-will of the government toward them. Now suppose that this son, associated with the father in the government, should go forth, not at the head of an army, but alone, unarmed, unattended, unprotected, should go from town to town, on foot, taking unwearied pains to instruct them, healing their diseases, spending whole nights in prayer for them, and when persecuted in one town should go to another--suppose that he should continue this course of teaching, of expostulation, and of prayer, and when at last they rose to murder him, should meekly suffer himself to be crucified, rather than injure a hair of any man's head, would not such a demonstration as this, of the love and disinterestedness of the government, greatly confound its enemies, and greatly honor the sovereign? Who cannot see that it certainly would?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 728 708 Lecture XV. The Gospel the Savor of Life or of Death ...

7. A full exhibition of the Atonement of Christ must do great good to the universe, whether sinners are saved or lost, because it reveals to sinners, to the whole world, and to the universe, the sincerity of God, by exhibiting the fulness of the provisions of grace. It demonstrates that the provisions are ample, that there is love and grace enough in God's heart, and ample fulness in the provisions of the gospel for the salvation of every sinner, and this stops every mouth, and leaves the damnation of every sinner, to be wholly chargeable upon himself.

III. Such an exhibition of Christ must produce great and manifest changes in the character of those who hear.

1. Because they cannot but receive or reject it. If they receive it, it will of course make them holy, fill them with love to God and men, and mold their whole character into the image of Christ. If they reject it, it must greatly confirm their selfishness and depravity, greatly harden their hearts, and place them in an attitude of greater, and more daring, and odious, and shameless rebellion than before.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 806 754 Lecture XVI. Christians the Light of the World ...

7. Unless Christians hold up the true light in contrast with the world's darkness, they are the greatest curses that are in the world. They are like a false light, that decoys the unwary mariners upon the rocks and quicksands. The world knows that you are professors of religion, that you are set as a moral lighthouse. They therefore think it safe to steer in the direction in which your light indicates that they should go. If therefore the light that is in you be darkness, what a curse are you to your family, your neighborhood, and the world around you. They will look at you. They mark your words. They ponder well your temper, and spirit, and life. They feel themselves safe in copying your example, in drinking in of your spirit, and in steering their course to eternity, by your light. And what a cruel monster are you, if you mislead them. What do you say of pirates who erect a false light upon some shoal, to decoy the unwary mariners to dash upon it, for the sake of plunder? Does not your blood curdle in your veins? Do not cold chills run over you? Does not your soul shudder when you read of the abominable selfishness of those who hold up false lights to mariners at sea, destroying so many lives, and so much property, for the sake of gratifying their odious selfishness? But professors of religion, you are the light of the world. Do you hold up a false light in the midst of the world's darkness? And when thousands of sinners are hovering round about upon your coast, benighted and bestormed, and looking to you for light, are you engaged in your selfish projects, exhibiting a carnal, earthly, and devilish spirit, while they are running upon the rocks and quicksands, ruining their souls, and going to hell by scores around you? Hear the wail of that lost soul, as it dashes upon the rocks, and sinks to hell. It lifts its eyes and cries out, O, I did not dream that evil was near. I had my eye upon that professor of religion. I transacted business upon the same principles, upon which I saw he transacted his. I kept my eye upon him and steered my bark by his light. And oh, unutterable horror, I am in the depths of an eternal hell!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 829 808 Lecture XVII. & XVIII. Communion with God - No.'s 1 & 2 ...

3. We have communion with God when our necessities are laid open to us. Sometimes we are hard and dark. We know that something must be wrong, but have no clear idea of what it is. I speak now of the case of those who have not yet learned to abide all the while in the light. But those who have made the greatest attainments, of any persons in this world, no doubt, often feel their spiritual necessities laid open before them, in a most remarkable manner. If not conscious of present or recent sin; yet they are often made to see how vastly they fall short of what they should have been had they never sinned at all. How much ignorance, how much weakness, how many infirmities, are open and about them, in consequence of their former sins, and habits of selfishness. God often draws us into deep communion with Him, and has protracted and close interview with us, sometimes for hours and even days together, for the purpose of kindly calling our attention to, and laying open before us, those particulars in our character and infirmities in which we need greater measures of his grace. He makes us to see the depth of our ignorance, how weak we are under temptation, and how certainly we shall be overcome, but for his ever present grace. In this state of mind, we may be sure that we are in communion with God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 952 928 Lecture XX Design or Intention Constitutes Character ...

5. When the intention is selfish. Whenever the ultimate end is to secure our own good, this is a state of selfishness. This is wrong, because our own is not the highest good, and that at which we ought ultimately and supremely to aim. God's glory, and the interests of his kingdom, are of infinitely more value than our own individual happiness. Whenever our ultimate intention is to secure our own happiness, our whole character and conduct is sinful, whatever means we may employ. We may attend to all religious duties, with the greatest zeal, give all our goods to feed the poor, our bodies to be burned, if we have not charity, and are not actuated by supreme love to God--if our ultimate intention is not to glorify Him, rather than to make ourselves happy--the foundation of our character is utterly wrong.

VI. When the intention is holy.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 953 928 Lecture XX Design or Intention Constitutes Character ...

When and only when it is the ultimate aim, object, or intention of the mind, to glorify God, and promote the good of the universe. If we design to glorify God as the means of promoting our own happiness, this is selfishness. To glorify and please God must be a thing intended and sought, for its own sake, and on its own account. And when this is the supreme and ultimate end at which we aim, the character is holy. In other words, none but a disinterestedly benevolent intention is holy.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 1109 1083 Lecture XXIII. A Single and an Evil Eye ...

2. Darkness and delusion will be the natural and inevitable results of this state of mind:
 

(1.) Because selfishness will prevent inquiry; especially honest, diligent, and persevering inquiry.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 1110 1083 Lecture XXIII. A Single and an Evil Eye ...

(2.) Because the state of the will, will prevent the perception and reception of evidence. Few persons seem to be aware of the extent of the influence of the will, over the decisions of the understanding. I have, for many years, been so circumstanced as to have an opportunity, almost continually, to observe the developments of mind, in this respect; and have often been astonished to see, to what an extent the will influences human opinion. Almost every one has observed, that under circumstances of strong excitement, it is of little or no use to reason with a man, against his prejudices. I have had repeated opportunities to observe, with pain, that prejudice, a committed state of mind, and many other considerations, and things, will so influence the will, as wholly to exclude the light of truth from the understanding. On many subjects, it seems next to impossible to convince a man, against his will; while, on the other hand, a man will believe almost any thing which he is disposed to believe. And the credulity of mankind, on subjects that accord with the state of their will, and in regard to doctrines and things which they are strongly disposed to believe, is as surprising as their incredulity upon subjects opposed to their will. It is amazing to hear infidels and sceptics contend, that human belief is involuntary, and that men necessarily believe what they do, when the real palpable voluntariness of human opinion and belief, on almost every subject, is as striking and apparent to a considerate observer, as almost any fact of human history.
 

3. A man under the influence of an evil eye, or in other words, a selfish heart, will not practice the truth, and therefore he cannot teach it. There are multitudes of truths, which can be seen and understood no farther than other truths are first seen and understood. And multitudes of truths are never understood, any further than they are experienced. Take, for example, the subject of temperance. Suppose you preach strictly temperance principles to a man who has always been in the habit of drinking ardent spirits freely. Now there are certain things which you can make him understand. If he has been a habitual drunkard, by describing to him the feelings of a drunkard, he can understand you; because upon this subject he has experience. Words are signs of ideas; and to him they will mean nothing more, than the idea represented by the word in his mind. You can therefore make him understand something of the evil of drunkenness; and yet, if he has always been in habits of intoxication, from his earliest recollection, you cannot, in any language whatever, so contrast the experience, follies, and health of a drunkard, with those of a strictly temperate man, as to make him understand you. He knows not what temperance is. He knows not what health is. He knows not what that state of mind is, which is the natural result of temperance and good health. Peradventure, you can fasten conviction upon him, of the great evils of intemperance, from the fact, that he had experience upon that part of the subject; and in this way you can get so much light in upon his mind, as to break him off from his cups. Now in proportion as he becomes a sober man, temperate, and healthy, his experience will enable you so to contrast temperance with intemperance, as fully to impress his mind with both sides of the question; and thus lodge in his mind the full weight of the momentous considerations in favor of temperance. But in all this process, it is easy to see that he must necessarily begin with the A, B, C of both the doctrines and the experience of temperance. Break him off from ardent spirits, and after a time he is better prepared to see and feel the indispensable necessity of universal temperance. Break him off from every thing that intoxicates, and his experience will soon enable him to understand the importance and necessity of breaking off from all innutritious stimulants in diet. When he has abandoned all these, his experience will, in a little while, enable him to understand the importance of selecting the most bland unstimulating kinds of food. This experience will naturally prepare his mind to understand the importance of universal cleanliness and chastity, the strictest subjection of the appetites and propensities, to the great and universal law of temperance. And in short, as he goes from step to step in reform, and no farther than he does so, is he in circumstance, to see, feel, understand, and appreciate arguments in favor of farther reformation.

Now what is true on the subject of temperance, holds true on nearly every practical question; and especially is this true on subjects that pertain to personal holiness. If a man will not practice he cannot learn. Talk to an impenitent sinner of entire sanctification. Holiness is so entirely opposite to his experience, that he does not at all understand you. Talk with him about his sins, and his convictions, his fears, misgivings, and on every subject that is with him a matter of experience, and so far he will understand you; but talk to him of entire sanctification, and he gets no idea of what you mean. Therefore, the only possible way to deal with him is, to begin upon those subjects upon which he has experience, and bring him to see and to feel, that it is an evil and bitter thing to sin against God. This will lead him to see, admit, and experience the doctrine of repentance. Now proceed, from step to step, lead him forward, and as his experience enlarges, his capacity of understanding about sanctification, its desirableness, its indispensable necessity, will be perceived and felt by him. But no farther than he practices can he properly learn. When he stops and refuses to follow truth any farther in practice, right there the clouds of darkness will shut down, round about him. And it is only as he goes forward, from step to step, practicing or experiencing one truth after another, as it is presented, that he can, by any possibility, come to an understanding and knowledge of the truth. Let it be ever remembered, therefore, that he who will not practice will not learn. In other words, unless his eye be single, his whole body will be full of darkness.

4. Selfishness must render the Bible unintelligible to him who has an evil eye. To him it is a sealed book. It is uninteresting, enigmatical, self-contradictory, and any thing and every thing, but interesting and intelligible. The fact is, its Author and the inspired writers, were in states of mind the direct opposite of selfishness. To a selfish mind they must, therefore, of necessity, speak in an unknown tongue.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 1118 1083 Lecture XXIII. A Single and an Evil Eye ...

Perhaps it may be objected to this, that many individuals are very much enlightened, and hold true opinions, and are very orthodox, who are yet under the influence of selfishness. To this I answer both from my own experience and the word of God--that they hold the truth only in words. They know not what they say, nor whereof they affirm. They are deceived, and you who make the objection are deceived in respect to them, if you think they know the truth.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 1119 1083 Lecture XXIII. A Single and an Evil Eye ...

7. From this subject, it is easy to see why the Church and the ministry are so divided in their opinions. It is because they are so sectarian and selfish in their spirit. It is selfishness, and nothing but selfishness, that divides the Church. When the Church shall come to have a single eye, her watchmen and her members will then see eye to eye; because her body will then be full of light.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 1120 1083 Lecture XXIII. A Single and an Evil Eye ...

8. From this subject you can see the only true way of promoting real Christian Union. It is in vain to talk of destroying sectarianism by destroying creeds. Creeds may perpetuate, but they are not the cause of sectarianism. Selfishness, and nothing but selfishness is its cause. Let universal love and a single eye prevail, and sectarianism is no more. Destroy a sectarian spirit, let it be supplanted by love, and Christians would then be in a state of mind to examine their differences of opinion with candor--to come to such mutual explanations, and so honestly and thoroughly to weigh each others opinions and arguments, as to almost entirely coincide in opinion. But should there still be discrepancy of views, in relation to any points, it would be as far as possible from their thoughts, to withdraw from communion with each other, and to divide into sects and separate departments.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 1123 1083 Lecture XXIII. A Single and an Evil Eye ...

11. How many there are, who have great confidence in their own opinions, who are ready to hazard their souls upon the truth of them, who have made up their minds on the most important and solemn subjects, while under the influence of selfishness--have entered the Christian Church--are hugging their delusions--are following the guidance and instruction of those who are perhaps as much under the dominion of an evil eye, as they are themselves, and whose mind is as full of darkness as their own. And thus they go on, unsuspectingly, while Christ assures them in the most solemn manner, that if their eye is evil, their whole body is full of darkness. Still they believe it not. They have the highest confidence in their own opinions, and in the safety of their state; and thus rush on, with a kind of mad assurance, to the depths of hell!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1840 paragraph 1173 1125 Lecture XXIV. Salvation Always Conditional ...

(5.) That believers are not, by one act of faith, brought into a state of permanent or unconditional justification, is evident, from the manifest tendency of such a sentiment. This is asserting, in its most objectionable form, the sentiment so often attributed to Calvinists by our Methodist brethren--that if a man is once converted he will be saved, however much he may backslide, and even should he die in a state of utmost backsliding.

3. The certain knowledge and belief of unconditional salvation from sin, or hell, or of unconditional justification and salvation, would break the power of moral government, and insure a fall. It would destroy the balance of motives, and nullify entirely the power of that class of motives that are addressed to the hopes and fears of men. What, I pray you, would all the warnings of the Bible avail to sustain the virtue of a man, who already knew himself to be in a state of unconditional salvation from sin, condemnation, and hell? Do you answer, that he does not need them, and that all regard to them would be selfishness. I ask, why then, are they found in the Bible, actually and every where addressed to the saints?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 36 16 Lectures XXV. & XXVI. Submission to God- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

3. It implies an honest, earnest, and diligent inquiry after the will of God. There are a great many who profess to hold themselves and all their possessions at the disposal of the will of God--who profess a willingness to do, or be, or say any thing that God requires of them. But mark, you will find it impossible to convince them, that any thing inconsistent with their selfish schemes, is the will of God. They profess to hold all their property at the disposal of God; but the agents of benevolent institutions may labor with them for months, without being able to convince them, that it is the will of God, that they should part with their possessions to promote these objects. The attitude of their minds is manifestly such, that they are unwilling to know what is the will of God in relation to the disposal of their possessions. They demand a kind and degree of evidence to satisfy their minds that cannot be had, and ought not to be expected, and would not be demanded by them, if they were in any other than a supremely selfish state of mind. And thus, while they profess to hold themselves and all they possess at God's disposal, they can always manage to quiet their consciences, in their superlative selfishness, by shutting out the light, and refusing to be satisfied in respect to what really is the will of God.

I knew a man who professed to be converted, and to give all his property to God. At one time he was about to devote it to one benevolent object, and at another to another object; and thus has excited hopes and expectations, sometimes in one direction and sometimes in another, that he would give up at least his surplus of worldly goods, to the promotion of the great benevolent objects of the day. But alas! he seems never to find any object, to which he can believe it to be the will of God, that he should devote his property. No actually existing evidence will satisfy him. It seems that nothing short of a direct revelation from God, in words to this effect, will work conviction in his mind, "Know you, A.B., of such a place, at such a time, that thus saith the Lord, it is my supreme will and pleasure, that you devote such a portion of the earthly goods in your possession to the advancement of the interests of the Redeemer's kingdom, and that you deliver to C.D., the agent of such a society, the specified amount without gainsaying." And that this order of God should be accredited by some direct miracle, or thundered in a voice from heaven, in order to afford the required evidence. I know others, who, while they make large professions of holding themselves and all their possessions at the disposal of God, can always find some excuse for doing little or nothing for the promotion of any benevolent object. Is a church to be built, they can avoid giving any thing by imposing some condition, to which the congregation cannot and ought not to consent. Is the minister's salary to be paid, they can always find some excuse for not believing it to be the will of God, that they should do any thing for his support. Is any thing to be given to the Foreign Mission cause, they can always find some fault with the proceedings of the Board, as a reason for not believing that it is their duty to give. Is any call made for funds to support the holy cause of the abolition of slavery, they don't like the proceedings of the abolition societies. They doubt, whether the funds are properly expended, or there is some imprudence in their measures, which renders it obligatory in them to withhold their funds. Is any thing to be done for the poor, they have always some evasive measure to propose, some other and better way to supply the poor, than the one proposed. If any thing is to be done for Moral Reform, they have some objection to the course pursued by its advocates and friends. And, in short, whatever is to be done, that calls them to self-denial, or to give their possessions up to the promotion of the glory of God, they have always some objection to what is done, or some proposal to have something else done, which, if not complied with, constitutes in their mind a sufficient reason for giving and doing nothing for that object.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 102 79 Lecture XXVII. Love Worketh No Ill ...

5. It is benevolence or good-willing; the exact opposite of selfishness. Selfishness is the supreme preference or choice of self-gratification, as the grand end of life. It is a choosing or willing our own gratification. This is the foundation of all sin, and the carryings out of this consist in those volitions, states of mind, emotions, and bodily actions that make up the history of wicked men. The love mentioned in the text, and that constitutes true religion, is that state of mind demanded by the law of God. Hence, it is said in the text, that "love is the fulfilling of the law." It is the mind's supreme election or choice, of the universal good of being, as the supreme end of existence. And it respects the good of all beings capable of doing or enjoying good. This supremely respects the being of God, as He is capable of doing and enjoying infinitely more good than all other beings. It therefore prefers his good, happiness, and glory, to all other things in the universe. Remember, it is benevolence in God and not complacency in God, that constitutes the foundation of all true religion. Complacency in God is virtue, when it is produced by a virtuous state of the will, but not otherwise. Complacency in the character of God, is often mentioned in the Bible as constituting virtue; but it should always be remembered, that emotions of complacency in God and other holy beings, when they are virtuous at all, instead of constituting the foundation and essence of virtue, are virtue only in its lowest form. I repeat it, the foundation of all virtue is benevolence to God and to the universe. It is good willing and doing, in opposition to mere good feeling. I wish to get this idea distinctly before your minds, because there are so many mistakes upon this subject.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 132 79 Lecture XXVII. Love Worketh No Ill ...

5. You see from this subject, the delusion of those who profess to be religious and yet transact business upon selfish principles. Selfishness and benevolence are exact and eternal opposites. Said a professional man to me, not long since, "I have been surprised, that the religion of those who have been long religious does not do more to overcome their selfishness." This is just the same thing as to express surprise, that those who have long professed to be religious have no religion. The fact is, that the very beginning of religion, or the new birth itself, is the overthrow of selfishness, as the reigning principle of the mind. It is the establishment in the mind, as a permanent state of the will, of the antagonist principle of benevolence. Hence, it is said, that "whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world," and that "he who is born of God cannot sin, for his seed remaineth in him, so that he cannot sin, because he is born of God." By this I do not understand the Apostle to mean, that a soul that is born of God cannot be seduced into occasional sins, by the power of temptation; but that he cannot live in sin. He cannot transact his daily business upon selfish principles, which are the essence of all sin. It is therefore absurd and impossible, that a benevolent or truly religious mind should transact business upon selfish principles.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 141 79 Lecture XXVII. Love Worketh No Ill ...

14. You see the utter unreasonableness of infidelity. Infidels affect to disbelieve the necessity of a change of heart. But what do they mean? do they not know by their own observation that mankind are by nature supremely selfish? And can they be happy without a radical change of heart? A world of selfish beings make up heaven! The idea is absurd and ridiculous. It is self-evident that without that change of heart which consists in a radical change of character from selfishness to benevolence, mankind can never be saved.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 143 79 Lecture XXVII. Love Worketh No Ill ...

16. Spurious conversions often throw the mind into a state of fermentation and deep feeling which of course soon subsides. But true conversion consists in a change of choice, and is of course an abiding state of mind. Where there are revivals of religion the chaff may be easily discovered from the wheat when the effervescence of excited emotion has passed by. You can then see whether the will is under the control of truth. While the emotions are strong they may induce a series of volitions which would lead for the time being to the conclusion that the will or heart is really changed, but as soon as these emotions subside, if the heart is not changed, the selfish preference will again resume its control; and just in proportion as the excitement ceases will it become apparent in the man's life, and spirit, and temper, and especially in his business transactions, that his selfish heart or preference is not changed, and that he is still an unregenerate man. The fact that the emotions very often induce volition, and many times a series of volitions inconsistent with the governing preference of the will or heart, renders it impossible for us, in the midst of the excitement of a revival, to distinguish clearly between true and false conversions; but as the excitement subsides, if we are willing to be guided by the word of God, we can clearly distinguish between those that are born again, and those that are not. And we are bound so to distinguish, and to deal faithfully, and promptly, and energetically with those who are seen still to remain in selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 160 146 Lecture XXVIII. Self Denial ...


I. What self-denial is not.

1. It is not the giving up of one form of selfishness for the sake of another form. In other words, it is not the triumph of one form of selfishness over another form of the same principle, &c.
 

(1.) Breaking off from any form of sin, for fear of the consequences of indulgence to self, is not self-denial; for this, after all, is only consulting self-interest.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 162 146 Lecture XXVIII. Self Denial ...

(3). Forsaking any form of indulgence for prudential reasons, such as regard to the health, wealth, reputation, &c. This is not self-denial, but only a regard to self-interest. It is only one form of selfishness triumphing over another.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 174 146 Lecture XXVIII. Self Denial ...

7. In short, self-denial implies, the death of selfishness. That is--self-denial and selfishness cannot exist in the mind at the same time. They are exact opposite states of mind.

IV. What is not taking up the cross.

1. It does not consist in the performance of the social and public duties of religion.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 179 146 Lecture XXVIII. Self Denial ...

6. Nor does it consist in submitting to any kind or degree of evil, persecution, or privation, for any legal or selfish reason, with respect either to our temporal or eternal interests; for all such things are only some modifications of selfishness.

V. What is taking up the cross.

1. It consists in crossing self, from disinterested benevolence.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 183 146 Lecture XXVIII. Self Denial ...

3. Cross-bearing implies the death of selfishness in general.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 198 146 Lecture XXVIII. Self Denial ...

4. Following Christ, then, implies the death of selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 199 146 Lecture XXVIII. Self Denial ...

5. It implies not merely and negatively the death of selfishness, but also true holiness of heart and life; or a supreme, disinterested benevolence to God, and equal benevolence to men.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 203 146 Lecture XXVIII. Self Denial ...

2. Because any thing short of this but confirms selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 206 146 Lecture XXVIII. Self Denial ...

1. From this subject, it is easy to perceive the mistake of those who suppose that self-denial implies selfishness. In preaching, a few years since, in the congregation of a brother minister, I had occasion to remark, upon the self-denial of God in the work of Atonement. Some of the members of the church were disturbed, with the idea that God could exercise self-denial, supposing that self-denial implied selfishness, and that none but a selfish being could deny self. I was informed, that one of them went to his minister, to see whether he accorded with me in my views of self-denial. He informed him that he did not agree with me, and that he thought it wrong to affirm that God exercised self-denial, inasmuch as it implied selfishness in God. Now it pains me to be obliged to say, that for a long time it has been growing more and more evident to my mind, from personal observation, reading, reflection, and prayer, that to a most alarming extent, the very nature of the Christian graces is radically mistaken by the Church and by multitudes of ministers--that in innumerable cases mere emotion is mistaken for religion--and that to an extent truly shocking, selfishness, in one or another of its modifications, is mistaken for true piety. Not long since, the question was seriously proposed by a brother, as a question to be considered and discussed, whether a mind in a state of entire sanctification could exercise self-denial at all, and whether any thing could be possibly called self-denial in one who is entirely benevolent. Now what a wonderful mistake is this. What? Query, whether a benevolent mind can exercise self-denial! Why, it is the most manifest thing in the universe, that self-denial implies benevolence, and that that cannot be self-denial that does not deny self, from motives of disinterested benevolence. It is, therefore, so far from being true, that self-denial implies selfishness, that selfishness is entirely inconsistent with self-denial. They are exactly opposite states of mind, and can no more co-exist than light and darkness can co-exist. This mistake is very extensively made in the Church; and I do not hesitate to say, that in just as far as it is made, it is a fundamental error. It is putting darkness for light, and sin for holiness; and I must confess, it is extremely difficult for me to understand how a mind that has ever truly exercised self-denial, could fall into so strange a mistake--how a man who has ever known what it was to deny himself, from disinterested benevolence, should ever afterwards suppose that self-denial implied selfishness--and that to deny one form of selfishness for the sake of gratifying another form could be self-denial.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 209 146 Lecture XXVIII. Self Denial ...

4. It would seem as if ministers are the only men, in the estimation of the Church, who are expected really to exercise any self-denial. They only are expected to labor without wages, from motives of disinterested benevolence. The churches do not pretend, in scarcely any case, to give the ministers any thing like a compensation for their labors. And in multitudes of cases they give them nothing at all. They feel as if ministers are to labor for the glory of God and the good of souls, and not for "filthy lucre." It seems to be generally understood, what self-denial in ministers is. It seems to be known, that they are to labor from motives of disinterested benevolence. They may visit the sick, and spend as much time as the physician, or more than he does, without its being so much as dreamed by any one, that they ought to have any compensation for this expenditure of time and strength. They may travel about the country, and, at the earnest request of the churches, spend a Sabbath, a week, or even a number of weeks, in laboring almost night and day, until they are prostrated and ready to die with fatigue, without so much perhaps as their traveling expenses being paid. In all this they are expected to labor from disinterested benevolence. They will spend as much time and strength in promoting the good of souls, as a lawyer would do in attending to secular affairs, where his charge would be five hundred or a thousand dollars; and if the minister should ask for a dollar of compensation he would be accused of selfishness, and laboring for "filthy lucre;" while it would not be so much as expected, that a lawyer or a physician would expend so much time and strength, without charging enough to buy him a farm. Now the question is, how comes there to be such a public sentiment as this? What would be said of a minister, if he made a charge of attending on the sick and officiating at funerals--if he should charge as physicians charge, or as lawyers charge, for services rendered at home or abroad. And should he do this, when he has no salary and no earthly means of support, it would not alter the case in the public estimation; but he would be denounced as a hireling, a selfish, and an ungodly minister. Now I ask again, how came such a public sentiment as this to exist in the Church and in the world? I answer, it is founded in this fundamental mistake, that ministers, and ministers alone, are expected to serve God and men from motives of disinterested benevolence.--That ministers are bound to do all they can to glorify God and save the souls of men, whether they receive any earthly compensation or not, I admit and fully maintain.

 

 


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I also maintain, that the churches are as solemnly bound to contribute to their support, and give them what is reasonable and just for their services as they are to support their own families, to pay their physician's bill, or the laborer that tills their ground. I am not advocating the principle, that ministers should either be allowed, or find it necessary to make a charge for preaching a sermon, a Sabbath, a week, or a month, or for visiting the sick, or for any such services. But I intend to maintain, that for all these services, they have the same right to expect a compensation from men, as lawyers, doctors, merchants, and mechanics have--that all other men are bound to be as self-denying, to perform all their services from as disinterested motives--to be willing to spend and be spent, and used all up in works of benevolence, just as ministers are bound to do. Any man, and every man has a right to expect such compensation for his labors as is reasonable and just, under the circumstances of the case. But no man has in any instance a right to make his wages the end at which he aims, and that without which he would not perform the service. The minister is to preach and labor for the glory of God and the good of souls, and not for the sake of a salary. The mechanic, the merchant, the lawyer, the physician, are all to do the same. And no one of them has a right to demand or expect any compensation, when, under similar circumstances a minister might not do the same. And now the thing I wish to impress upon your minds is this, that this public sentiment of which I am speaking reveals this alarming fact, that the Church has to a great extent lost sight of that which constitutes true religion in every body else but ministers. They expect and insist upon that in ministers, which really constitutes true religion; but that which they expect of themselves, and require of others than ministers, is nothing but sheer selfishness. They have set up one standard for ministers, and another for laymen and women. And this last has not a particle of true religion in it; for selfishness is the substance and essence of all sin; and disinterested benevolence is the substance of all true religion. And in such a world as this, to say the least, there cannot be any true religion without true self-denial. And what shall we say, when the real spirit of self-denial is so far lost sight of, and misunderstood, that only so far as it is applicable to ministers, does it seem to be recognized as even obligatory.

 

 


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9. From this subject we see why it is, that so many seem to suppose that self-denial must necessarily abridge our own happiness. It certainly is only because they do not understand what self-denial is. They call that legal constrained giving up one form of selfishness for another self-denial. When they are really whipped out of some form of selfishness, and driven by the terrors of conscience, the thunders of Sinai, or a regard to reputation, to deny themselves some indulgence, for the sake of avoiding some great evil, or attaining some great good, they call this self-denial. And being conscious, that it is to them a grievous privation and vexation, they of course suppose that self-denial is a great burden. I have often thought, that most professors of religion secretly feel as if God's service was a hard service; as if Christ's yoke was hard, instead of being easy; and his burden heavy instead of being light--that wisdom's ways are not, in their estimation, "ways of pleasantness, and all her paths peace;" that religion is a task, an irksome, difficult, up-hill, laborious business. It is fully manifest, that that which many call religion is really such a heavy burden; but is this the religion of the Bible? Is it true religion at all? No it is slavery, legality, selfishness, death! Enough of it would make up the very essence of hell!

 

 


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10. The real enjoyment of self-denial is the true criterion by which its character may and must be tested. If you do not enjoy it--if it is not a real pleasure to you--that in which you delight and choose for its own sake--if, as a matter of fact, in any particular case it is not more grateful to you than any other course it is no true self-denial, but only selfishness. Be sure to remember, that self-denial consists in denying self, from motives of disinterested benevolence. If, then, you deny yourself, from such a motive, it must of necessity promote your happiness; as it is doing the thing you supremely love to do. Let it be for ever remembered, then, that that is not self-denial, which does not promote your present happiness more than self-gratification would have done. But here again, let it be noticed, that your own happiness must not be the object at which you aim; else it is not self-denial, but self-gratification, which you practice. There is a distinction as broad as daylight, ever to be remembered, between pursuing and finding your happiness in the duties of religion.

 

 


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20. How infinitely diverse from this are the general notions of professing Christians in respect to the conditions of salvation. The general idea of professors of religion seems to be that if they only once in a while wake up as they call it--if they are revived now and then, at long intervals, and once in a while bluster about, and perform their duty as they call it, this will suffice as a sufficient ground of hope. And living in this way they expect to be saved. How amazing it is, that with the express declaration of Christ before them, they can dare to hope in the face of his most solemn declarations. Why, professor of religion, as sure as your soul lives, such loose notions as those that are common among professors of religion in respect to the conditions of salvation, will if you trust to them, land your soul in the depths of hell. I say again, remember that the daily doing of these things is just as expressly and indispensably a condition, as that you should do them at all. What then do you mean, to dream of eternal life while you indulge your selfishness and lust, with only now and then a spasmodic effort, when conscience can remain no longer silent, and the Spirit of God forces upon you the conviction that you are one of the greatest sinners out of hell. Then you set to blustering about and seem to suppose yourself to be religious enough in a few weeks to set off against years of selfishness and lust. Why, what do you mean?

 

 


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21. How ridiculous it is for persons to call such things as they often do, self-denial and bearing the cross. Some persons will abandon the use of alcohol because its use has become disreputable, or because it is injurious to their health, or because their conscience torments them in the use of it, or because they fear they shall become drunkards, disgrace and ruin themselves, and lose their souls. And this they call self-denial, when it is after all, only denying one form of selfishness for the sake of gratifying another form. In other words, they are denying one form of selfishness for the sake of promoting self-interest on a larger scale. "Verily they have their reward." Others will abandon the use of tea, coffee, tobacco, and many such-like articles, for similar reasons, and call it self-denial. But who cannot see through this?

 

 


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23. Our Lord Jesus Christ differed radically from multitudes of reformers. Reformers in general seem to aim at making as many proselytes to their peculiar views as possible, and are not wont to be so particular and searching as to render it very difficult for persons to fall in with and adopt their views. But Christ on the contrary, when multitudes seemed to be converted, professed to believe in Him, and to follow Him, would turn upon them and cut to the very quick, informing them plainly that they could not be his disciples at all unless they forsook all that they had; unless they would deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him--that no man could be his disciple unless he would not only forsake all that he had, but would hate his dearest earthly relations, and even his own life for Christ's sake. This certainly was a very different policy from that which is pursued by many ministers of the gospel. They, instead of insisting upon daily self-denial, the renunciation of selfishness, and a life of entire consecration to God, as indispensable conditions of salvation and church membership, seem to leave these express conditions of Christ almost entirely out of view. And for the sake of increasing the members of the Church, practically at least, hold out very different, and almost infinitely lower conditions of salvation. Brethren, how dare you do this? I ask you solemnly before God and the Savior Jesus Christ if you do insist upon a life of daily self-denial, cross-bearing, and following Christ--if you do insist that unless men forsake all that they have and renounce selfishness in their business transactions and in all their ways, and that unless they live a life of entire consecration to God, they can by no possibility be saved, and have no right to a standing in the Church of God? Do let me ask what is the practical standard to which some of you, my brethren, as a matter of fact require persons to conform as conditions of church-membership and of salvation? Do you not virtually plead for and allow sin? Do you not virtually deny or leave out of view the great truth upon which Christ every where and so often insisted, that "except a man forsake all that he hath, deny himself and take up his cross daily, he cannot be my disciple?" Instead of making this a condition of salvation as Christ does, I ask you my brethren, and I ask the churches who hear you preach if some of you do not virtually maintain or make the impression that a state of entire consecration to God, is so far from being an indispensable condition of salvation, that it is as a matter of fact never attained in this world; or at least, that it is never attained as a state in which men do as a matter of fact for any length of time continue? Now my beloved brethren, if this is true, let me get down at your feet, and beseech you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to consider what you are doing. How many of you are afraid to admit, avow, and maintain the doctrine of entire sanctification or consecration to God in this life? You are even afraid to allow that this state is ever attained and continued for any length of time by the best saints that ever lived on earth. But let me ask you, is not this state as a state made by the Lord Jesus Christ in these passages that I have so often quoted, an express and indispensable condition of salvation? If it is not, I beg of you, and conjure you to show what these passages do mean. What does Christ mean when he says "except a man forsake all that he hath he cannot be my disciple?" The Lord willing, I intend soon to give the Church my views of this declaration of Christ. When I say that this as a state is insisted on by the Lord Jesus Christ as an indispensable condition of salvation, I do not mean that the condition is that no occasional sin through the force of temptation is consistent with a state of real grace and with final salvation; but I do mean and maintain, that a state of entire consecration to God, or sanctification as a habitual state of mind is in the gospel, insisted upon as an indispensable condition of salvation; and that it is so far from being true, that this state as a state, with only occasional interruptions through the force of temptation, is never attained by the saints in this life, that under the gospel no one can be saved, nor ever has been saved, who has not attained and lived, and died in this state; a state in which entire sanctification is the rule, and sin only the exception.

 

 


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3. It consists in devoting the whole being to this end, for the same reasons for which God devotes Himself to the promotion of this end. Suppose you employ a servant who labors only for his wages, and feels no interest in the end which you are aiming to promote. He takes no interest in your business, for its own sake--has no disinterested desire to promote the end at which you aim; but simply labors for his wages. He begins as late in the morning, rests as long at noon, labors as sparingly, and breaks off as early at night as will possibly do, without being curtailed in his wages. Now you rightly say this man is serving himself and not you. He is a mere eye-servant. He is entirely selfish, and has an entirely different end in view, from what you have. And now suppose the end you have in view is not selfish, is not your own aggrandizement, the promotion of your own interests of happiness, but the promotion of the general good--would you not blame such a servant for not taking an interest in the end itself? Would you not regard his selfishness with abhorrence? Would you not regard him as engaged in self-service, and as deserving the severest reprobation? Suppose a king to be entirely disinterested, and engaging all his attributes, and all his wealth, and all his time, in the disinterested promotion of the public interests--suppose him to say to his subjects, "Here, lay hold and help me to forward this great work, and as your individual interests are parts of the public interest, I will see that you have your reward. But the thing I require of you is, that you take an interest in the end for its own sake. If you do not take an interest in the end for its own sake, your labor will all be selfishness and slavery. If you do not love the work on its own account, it will of course make you miserable. It will hang heavily on your hands, and you will long for the going down of the sun. But let your heart be deeply imbued with the spirit of doing good; let this be the grand object of your life--love it for its own sake, and your labor will be to you a continual feast." Now suppose that the subjects should take hold of the work as mere mercenaries, caring for nothing but their wages, taking no interest in the public happiness and well-being; but simply serving for reward. This would be a selfish, eye-service, and not heart-service. This would be serving self, and not the king.

Now the true service of God consists, not only in devoting the whole being to the promotion of the same end, but also with the same motives, or for the same reasons; that is, from supreme benevolence, or an absorbing disposition to do good for its own sake, and because it is good.

4. It consists in doing all this with the same feelings with which God engages in this work. If the heart is fully devoted to this work--if the whole being is given up to it, as God's being is given up to it--and if this is done for the same reasons, and from disinterested love to the work itself, the feelings with which we engage in it will naturally and necessarily be the same in kind as those in which God engages in it . The feelings with which we engage in it and pursue it, must depend upon our motives for engaging in it. If our motives are the same with God's, our feelings will be the same in kind with his.

IV. What is implied in acceptable service to God.

1. This kind of service in sinners, implies a radical change of heart, from selfishness to disinterested benevolence. Here let me be understood. By disinterested benevolence I do not mean, that the mind feels no interest in it; but I mean the direct opposite of this--that the mind does take the deepest, nay, a supreme interest, in promoting the good of being, for its own sake and on its own account.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 255 237 Lecture XXIX. The True Service of God ...

2. It implies a deep and efficient sympathy with God, in regard to the great end of life. By deep, I mean, not a mere superficial sympathy, consisting in the emotions, but a sympathy of heart, a sympathy lying in the deep foundations of moral action. Persons may have emotions and desires, that consist merely in the effervescence of an excited mind, while the heart, or the deep fountain of moral action, is after all supreme selfishness. By a deep sympathy, then, I mean a sympathy of heart, of will, of preference, and purpose. By an efficient sympathy, I mean an energetic, active sympathy; one that produces active and energetic effort, to glorify God, save the souls of men, and promote universal good.

 

 


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(3.) In proof of this position, I quote from the Bible. Job 27:10: "Will he delight himself in the Almighty? will he always call upon God?" Here it is mentioned, as one of the marks of the hypocrite, that he does not delight himself in the Almighty. It is truly wonderful to what an extent the Bible exhibits true religion as affording present joy and delight. I will only quote a few, out of the great multitude of passages upon this subject, that may serve as specimens of the light in which the Holy Scriptures present this subject: Isa. 32:17: "The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever." Isa. 54:13: "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children." Isa. 66:12: "Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream." Isa. 26:3: "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee." Ps. 37:4: "Delight thyself in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thy heart." 40:8: "I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart." Heb. 10:5: "When He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me." Ps. 119:14, 16, 35, 47, 70, 92, 97, 111, 127: "I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies as much as in all riches. I will delight myself in thy statutes; I will not forget thy word. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law. Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction. O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage for ever; for they are the rejoicing of my heart. I love thy commandments above gold, yea, above fine gold." Ps. 112:1: "Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments." Job 15:11: "Are the consolations of God small with thee? Is there any secret thing with thee?" Ps. 19:8-11: "The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honey-comb. Moreover, by them is thy servant warned; and in keeping of them there is great reward." Acts 13:52: "The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost." Rom. 14:17: "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." Rom. 15: 13, 29: "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." 2 Cor. 1:24: "Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand." 2 Cor. 2:3: "I wrote this same unto you, lest when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all." 2 Cor. 8:2: "In a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality." Gal. 5:22: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." Phil. 1:3, 4: "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all, making request with joy." Heb. 12:2: "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." 1 Pet. 1:8: "Whom having not seen ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." 1 John 1:4: "These things write we unto you, that our joy may be full." 2 Cor. 7:4: "I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation." Heb. 10:34: "Ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance." Deut. 28:45-47: "All these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee; and they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever. Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things," &c. In this last passage the terrible curses of the law are represented as coming upon the children of Israel, because they had not rendered that service to God which made them happy. They had not joyed and delighted in the service of God. Phil 3:1: "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord." Phil 4:4, 10: "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again: wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity." I Samuel 2:1: "Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord: mine horn is exalted in the Lord; my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation." Ps. 16:9: "My heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth; my flesh also shall rest in hope." Acts 5:41: "They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." From these and multitudes of other passages, it is most manifest, as well as from the very nature of the case, that the acceptable service of God must constitute the present happiness of the soul.
 

6. These two kinds of service may be distinguished from each other in the fact that a legal service affords to the mind very little present satisfaction, which consists in a self-righteous peace, and the anticipation of future happiness. In proof of this I observe that the very nature of the case shows that it must be so. Inasmuch as it is not chosen for its own sake and that in which the mind supremely delights on its own account, it is often a laborious and irksome business. It is something submitted to which is not pleasant in itself, but on account of an anticipated reward. Such a man is religious for the same reason that some people take bitter medicine. The medicine is disagreeable in itself; but submitted to for the sake of an anticipated good. It is taken as the less of two evils. So a man may toil hard for the sake of his wages; but toil is not desired for its own sake, but only submitted to for the sake of the end. Just so with a legal religion. It is an up-hill business. It is regarded as the less of two evils. It is something that must not be omitted, but attended to from the dire necessity of the case. But not consisting in benevolence, not being disinterestedly loved for its own sake, it cannot, in the very nature of the case, constitute the mind's present happiness. And the principal happiness which the mind can feel in it, is just that kind of satisfaction which a man may take in labor for the sake of the end he has in view. He would gladly forego the labor, could the end be obtained without it; but since it cannot, he submits to the labor, just in proportion as he regards the end. So when a man's convictions of the validity of religion, of the danger of hell, and the desirableness of heaven, are vivid in his own mind, he engages in the duties of religion, with a good degree of alacrity, feeling, and sensible satisfaction. Just as a man would feel a kind of satisfaction in his labor, who had a prospect of a great reward. But as soon as his convictions of sin, of danger, &c., subside, just in this proportion his religion becomes an irksome business. His prayers are short and far between, and the whole round of what he calls his religious duties drags heavily, and are a sad weight upon his shoulders. In short, his religion is slavery. It is more tolerable than hell; but it has not in it the unction and sweetness of heaven.

VI. If any man would serve the Lord, he must begin by making his heart holy.

1. God says to the wicked, "Make to yourself a new heart and a new spirit." This is the very beginning of all religion, to give up selfishness and become supremely, disinterestedly benevolent.

 

 


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(5.) Another consideration that establishes the fact that multitudes of professed converts have only a legal religion is, that they so suddenly backslide and as it is commonly expressed "grow cold in religion" as soon as the effervescence of excited emotion subsides. Now whether their religion is of the heart, or merely of the emotions, can only be known as the greatness of the excitement subsides. Strong feelings or very highly excited emotions, may induce volition or a series of volitions at variance with the state or permanent preference of the will or heart. A miser may be so affected in view of some spectacle or wretchedness as to exert such a temporary influence over his will, as that by a single volition he will relieve the sufferings before him, in view of which he is so greatly excited. But this volition has been induced by an excitement of feeling in opposition to the permanent state of the will. Now as soon as the excitement has subsided, he calls himself a fool for having been thus induced to part with his money, and almost curses himself for his folly. Now in revivals of religion, it often happens that strongly excited feeling will induce for the time being a series of volitions, that will so shape the life as really to lead us and to lead the subject of them to believe, that the heart is truly changed, that the deep moral preferences of the soul are reversed, that selfishness is given up, and that benevolence has taken its place. But let excitement fully subside, and then you will be able to discern clearly and distinctly, whether the heart is changed, or whether the volitions of the mind were only induced by temporary excitement. If it is found that the deep currents of the soul are benevolent, that selfishness in heart, life, business, and social intercourse is abandoned, and that love and disinterested benevolence, a supreme disposition to do good to all around is the real state of the heart, then you may be certain that there is true conversion, that that soul has truly entered upon the service of God, and that he is not a mere legalist, and serving for wages.

3. Converts should always be made to see, that the more disinterested they are in religion the more happy they will be; of course the less they seek happiness the more they will find it. And the less regard they have to their own happiness, the more self-sacrificing and disinterested they are, the greater will be their joy, and the fuller the tide of their blessedness. Suppose a man comes across, in the street, an object of the deepest distress and compassion. Being touched to the very quick with the spectacle before him, and from unmingled benevolence, he steps into a provision store and purchases a basket of provisions, and sets at the feet of this object of poverty and distress. The fainting starvling lifts up his streaming eyes of gratitude, speaks not, but looks unutterable thanks. Now the happiness of this benefactor would be precisely in proportion to the strength of his benevolence and disposition to do him good. If his benevolence was strong and disinterested, and he longed to do him good for its own sake, his happiness would be full and unmingled and he would find his happiness to be in proportion to his disinterestedness, and that in this thing he had found most exquisite happiness simply because he sought it not. Upon the principle that he who would lose his life for the sake of doing good, shall find it and keep it unto eternal life.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 278 237 Lecture XXIX. The True Service of God ...

5. You see also the secret of the apostacy of legalists. When their excitement subsides, their religion is too irksome a business for them. They abandon it because they have no heart in it. "They went out from us," says John, "because they were not of us. For if they had been of us, they would have remained with us." Now the same Apostle affirms that "he that is born of God doth not commit sin, because his seed remaineth in him, so that he cannot sin because he is born of God." The seed which remains in him is the love of God, the same benevolence that is in the heart of God.--This has taken the place of selfishness, has come to be the supreme ruling disposition of his soul.--And because his seed remaineth in him he cannot live in sin. And if it is found that he can live in sin, it is certain that he is not born of God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 282 237 Lecture XXIX. The True Service of God ...

9. You can see how few professors of religion have truly embraced the gospel; so few indeed that when here and there a soul is found that truly enjoys the service of God, and feels constrained to speak of the joys of God's salvation, he is looked upon as a wonder, as having a great deal of animal feelings, and as being well nigh deranged. He is not unfrequently rebuked and even despised for talking so much about enjoyment in religion. He is suspected and publicly accused of selfishness, and as serving God for the loaves and fishes, without considering at all, that it is his disinterested love and labors of love that constitute his happiness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 304 292 Lecture XXX. Entire Consecration a Condition of Discipleship ...

3. Nor is it a mere barter or exchange, a giving up of worldly things in exchange for eternal life. Many persons seem to have an idea, that forsaking all for Christ is merely giving up worldly things, for the sake of obtaining heavenly things. This would turn upon the mere principle of speculation, and is by no means the thing intended in the text.

II. What is implied in forsaking all for Christ.

1. A radical change of heart, from selfishness to benevolence. In other words, a forsaking, abandoning self-interest as the end of pursuit--an absolute and everlasting giving up of self-interest and self-gratification, as the end of life; and the entering into the views, sympathies, and designs of Christ, in promoting the glory of God, and the interests of his kingdom.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 316 292 Lecture XXX. Entire Consecration a Condition of Discipleship ...

2. The nature of the case:
 

(1.) Nothing short of this is conversion, or regeneration. Regeneration consists in renouncing selfishness, and becoming supremely benevolent. It consists in a change of heart.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 318 292 Lecture XXX. Entire Consecration a Condition of Discipleship ...

(3.) It is naturally indispensable to salvation. The prime idea of salvation is holiness. A man can neither be holy nor happy, without forsaking all he has, in the sense in which I have explained it. Without this, he can be at peace neither with God nor with himself. It is just what God demands, what his own conscience demands, and what the universe demands of him. Until he does this, it is impossible that he should have peace.
 

3. It is indispensable to divine teaching:
 

(1.) Because the renunciation of selfishness, as the rule of life, and a state of entire consecration to his service, are naturally indispensable to a right understanding of his views, sentiments, and instructions.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 320 292 Lecture XXX. Entire Consecration a Condition of Discipleship ...

(3.) Without this state of mind, Christ cannot teach you; because you will not study. It is in vain for any one to attempt to teach another, if he will not yield up his mind to the investigation and consideration of the subject. Therefore, except you forsake your selfishness, become truly benevolent, and engage heart and soul with Christ, in building up his kingdom, you will have no such interest in the end as to give up your mind to the study and understanding of the means by which the end is to be obtained.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 323 292 Lecture XXX. Entire Consecration a Condition of Discipleship ...

(6.) Nor will you understand the doctrines of self-denial which He teaches. Without a self-denying state of mind, without that state of mind which forsakes all that we have, and abandons selfishness in every form and degree, we shall not of course understand the doctrines of self-denial as taught by Christ.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 324 292 Lecture XXX. Entire Consecration a Condition of Discipleship ...

(7.) Without this state of mind, you will resist, when he rebukes your prejudices, selfishness and lust.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 329 292 Lecture XXX. Entire Consecration a Condition of Discipleship ...

5. It is tempting God to ask for divine teaching, or to ask Christ to be our teacher, unless we fulfill the condition upon the fulfillment of which alone, we can become his disciples. Certainly He has a right to impose such conditions upon us. Nay, He is bound to do so. Both justice and the nature of the case render such a condition indispensable. And is it not insulting Him to ask for divine teaching, to profess to be his disciples, while as a matter of fact, we do not fulfill the expressed condition of discipleship? Have we a right to retain our selfishness--to live in any form of sin--to reject the condition--and yet claim to be his disciples, and come to Him for instruction, as if we fulfilled the condition? Surely we have no such right, and every such expectation is vain.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 342 292 Lecture XXX. Entire Consecration a Condition of Discipleship ...

10. You see why so few persons really enjoy the continual teachings of the Holy Spirit--why they so often pray for the Spirit to teach them, and are not taught by Him. Why is it, that you, my brethren, so often ask for the Holy Spirit, and pray for divine guidance and teaching, and do not receive what you ask? I can answer for you. It is because you do not fulfill the condition, upon which alone you are to receive his influences. You are indulging some form of selfishness. You do not literally forsake all that you have. If you did, you might approach Christ, at any time, with the assurance that He will teach you. But as it is, He says to you, "Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things I say?" "Why do you claim me as your teacher, and come to me for instruction, when you do not comply with the expressed conditions, upon which alone I have promised to teach you?"

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 343 292 Lecture XXX. Entire Consecration a Condition of Discipleship ...

11. You see that whenever you go to pray for divine teaching, that this question must be distinctly before you, whether you so live in the fulfillment of the condition, that you have a right to ask for his instruction? Many persons live in selfishness. They are as conscious, that they do not live in a state of entire consecration, as they are that they live at all. And yet they continue to pray for divine teaching, as if they fulfilled the condition. Sometimes they deceive themselves, by thinking they are taught of Christ, when they are only amusing themselves with their own delusions, or following the suggestions of Satan. At other times they so often pray for divine teaching, with a consciousness that they do not receive it, as to become discouraged, and feel as if praying was of but very little use. They really doubt, whether the promises of Christ mean what they say. In all this they overlook the fact, that there is an express condition to these promises, although not in all cases immediately connected with them. Yet, in our text, and in multitudes of similar passages, it is expressed in the plainest language; with which they do not comply.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 347 292 Lecture XXX. Entire Consecration a Condition of Discipleship ...

15. You can see from this subject, what great injustice a minister does to Christ, and to the Church to which he ministers, if he does not live in a state of entire consecration to God. Why, suppose a Church employ a minister, and instead of his living in such a manner as to enjoy divine teaching, he indulges selfishness, appetite and lust, and thus deprives himself of the teaching of Christ. How infinitely does it endanger souls! How greatly does it dishonor God!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 350 292 Lecture XXX. Entire Consecration a Condition of Discipleship ...

18. Forsaking all that you have, deadness to selfishness, and to other lovers, is indispensable to the enjoyment of God and of Christ. A wife enjoys the society of her husband just in proportion as her heart is swallowed up in him. His presence is no satisfaction to her if she does not love him. If she have other lovers, the presence of her husband is but an annoyance to her. Just so with you. Unless you are supremely devoted to Christ, his presence would be but an annoyance to you.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 353 292 Lecture XXX. Entire Consecration a Condition of Discipleship ...

21. Sinners can see what they have to do to become Christians. You must renounce your selfishness and become supremely and disinterestedly benevolent. You must change your heart, forsake all that you have and consecrate your all to Christ.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 393 357 Lectures XXXI. & XXXII. A Seared Conscience- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

19. When you can be in the habit of borrowing and using your neighbor's tools, without perceiving and feeling the injurious tendency of such conduct, and without realizing the pernicious principle on which such a practice turns, it is because you have a seared conscience. Many persons act as if they supposed that conscience had to do with but one side of this question--that it is the lender exclusively, and not the borrower, who is to look to his conscience, and see that he does not violate the principles of benevolence. But let us look at the principle contained in this. If you borrow money of a man, you expect to pay him interest, or at least to restore the same amount you borrow; but if you borrow a man's coat or tools, that are injured by wearing, it is the lender and not the borrower, that has to pay the interest, and often a very high rate of interest too. Many a man has lost his tools, and paid at the rate of twenty-five per cent for the privilege of lending them. Now suppose a man has a hundred dollars in money. Money is scarce, and a hundred men desire to borrow it, every one in his turn. And now suppose each one should wear a dollar out of it. The man's hundred dollars are soon used up. But suppose a man should come to you and ask you to lend him money, and insist upon it that you should pay him interest, instead of his paying you interest, and you should say, "Why, I never heard of such a request! Do you ask me to lend you money and pay you interest besides?" Now any man would be ashamed, and would have reason to be ashamed, to make such a request; and his naked selfishness would in such a case be most manifest to every one. And who would think of accusing the lender of selfishness, in such a case, if he should refuse to let his money go for nothing, pay interest besides, and finally take the trouble to go after it. And yet this involves precisely the same principle upon which many persons conduct, in the neighborhoods where they live, in continually borrowing and using up their neighbors' tools, and perhaps compelling them to go after them, and that too without compunction or remorse. Nay, so far are they from feeling compunction or remorse, and perceiving that they are actuated by the most unpardonable selfishness, that they would complain, and suppose themselves to have a right to complain of the selfishness of a neighbor who should refuse to indulge them in acting upon such principles.

By this I do not mean to say, or intimate, that it is not proper and a duty, in certain cases, for neighbors to borrow and use each other's tools. But this I do say, that the practice as practiced, is unjustifiable. Borrowing should not be resorted to, except in cases where a man might, without any cause for blushing, ask a man to lend him money, not only without interest, but also ask him to pay interest.

20. When you can neglect secret prayer, without feeling condemned, and a great sense of guilt resting upon you, it is because you have a seared conscience.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 403 357 Lectures XXXI. & XXXII. A Seared Conscience- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

30. When any form of selfishness can be indulged, without compunction, it is because you have a seared conscience.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 487 357 Lectures XXXI. & XXXII. A Seared Conscience- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

6. You see from this subject how it is that many professors of religion manage to retain their hope, notwithstanding they are as manifestly in their selfishness and sin, as they are in the world. The fact is, that their conscience has become seared with a hot iron. And having very little sense of moral obligation, they pass along securely with a lie in their right hand. To them the words of the prophet apply with great emphasis: "A deceived heart hath turned them aside so that they cannot deliver their soul, nor say, have I not a lie in my right hand?"

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 496 357 Lectures XXXI. & XXXII. A Seared Conscience- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

15. This subject shows why so many forms of sin are suffered to exist in some churches; so much selfishness, worldly-mindedness, pride, vanity, luxury, speculation, novel reading, party going, evil speaking, and many forms of sin, are allowed to exist from year to year, without rebuke, and without hardly appearing to be perceived by the minister. Now who does not see, that such a minister is "a blind leader of the blind?" His conscience is so seared, that he has very little moral sensibility. If his conscience were awake, such a state of things would wring his heart with insupportable anguish. He could not hold his peace. He would cry out in his pangs. His soul would be in travail day and night. He would lift up his voice like a trumpet, and rebuke those iniquities, come on him what would.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 500 357 Lectures XXXI. & XXXII. A Seared Conscience- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

19. We see that it is utterly in vain to talk so loud and boastingly about a thorough course of training for the ministry, while so much sin is allowed among the young men in the course of training, and so little pains are taken to develop and quicken their consciences and sanctify their hearts. As a matter of fact, the present courses of education for the ministry are, to a great extent, a failure. It is in vain to deny this. It is worse than in vain--it is arrant wickedness, to deny it. "Facts are stubborn things." And the average rate of ministerial usefulness, throughout the whole of Christendom, affords a demonstration of this truth, that ought to alarm and agonize the Church, and cause those of us who are engaged in educating ministers to tremble, and inquire upon our knees before the blessed God, what it is that makes so great a majority of the young men who are trained under those influences so nearly useless in the Church of God. Will this be called censoriousness? It is the solemn truth. I say it with pain and agony; but say it I must, and say it I would, if I knew it would cost me my life. Why, beloved brethren, unless there is more conscience in the Christian ministry--a broader, deeper, more efficient, and practical knowledge of the claims of the law of God--a deeper, quicker, more agonizing insight into the depths of iniquity of the human heart--a greater abhorrence of every form of sin--a more insupportable agony in view of its existence in every form and in every degree--the world and the Church too, will sink down to hell, under our administration. I appeal to you, my brethren, who are already in the ministry; I appeal to your churches; I appeal to the lookers on; I appeal to angels and to God, and inquire, how many forms of sin are allowed to exist in you, and in your churches, without any thing like that pointed rebuke which the nature of the case demands? Why, my brethren, do not many of you satisfy yourselves simply with preaching against sin, while you are afraid so much as to name the different forms of sin that exist among those to whom you are preaching? Do you not preach against sin in the abstract, with very little or no descending to particulars? Do you arraign selfishness in all the various forms that it exists among your people? Do you rebuke their pride, self-indulgence, vanity, luxury, speculations, party spirit; and, indeed, my brethren, do you name and bring the law and gospel of God fully to bear upon the various forms of iniquity, in the detail, that exist among your people? Or are the consciences of some of you so seared, as to render you almost blind to any thing like the details of sin as they exist around you? Said a discerning man in my hearing, not long since, Our minister preaches against sin; but he does not tell what sin is. He preaches against sin in general; but never against any particular sin. He denounces it in the aggregate; but never meddles with it in the detail, as it exists among his people. I do not give the words, but the substance of his remarks. Now, my beloved brethren, of how many of us could such a testimony as this be borne with truth? And how many such ministers, think you, would it require to convert the world? Of what use is it, I pray you, to preach against sin, or in favor of holiness, in the abstract, without so far entering into the detail as to possess our people of the true idea of what sin and holiness are?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 565 525 Lecture XXXIII. Conditions of Being Kept ...

2. What numerous blunders have been made by theological writers on the subject of faith. Some holding it to be a passive state of mind, thus confounding it with the perception of truth--others have confounded it with emotion, or a full assurance that the gospel or the promises are true--others still have made it voluntary only indirectly and have supposed it to have moral character only because it is indirectly produced by an act of the will, in directing the attention to the examination of the evidence. It seems to have been quite extensively understood to be synonymous with conviction of persuasion of mind that a thing is true. These and similar blunders upon this subject, have led so many Antinomians and heartless professors of religion to settle down upon the supposition that they are Christians, taking it for granted that they can have true faith, true love, and true repentance, and yet that these graces may exist without manifesting themselves in benevolent outward conduct. How infinitely important it is then to understand that repentance, faith, love, are all acts of the will, of choices; and must of necessity manifest themselves in a corresponding outward conduct. The love that constitutes religion is good willing, or benevolence, and not complacency in God or any other being. We are as entirely involuntary in the exercise of the love of complacency toward God, as we are in the exercise of complacency in any other object, that is to us naturally beautiful and lovely. So repentance is an act of the will, and does not consist at all in those emotions of sorrow that are often supposed to be repentance. Repentance, when properly considered, and resolved into its proper elements, is precisely synonymous with regeneration or a change from selfishness to benevolence. Sorrow for sin is a mere consequence, connected with repentance by a natural necessity just as complacency in God is with benevolence and faith. Whoever overlooks, therefore, in his own experience, or in his account or estimation of his character, the fact that all the Christian graces, properly so called, or all that in which there is true virtue, consist in acts of will, which must of course and of necessity manifest themselves in corresponding outward acts, will totally deceive himself.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1841 paragraph 801 781 Lecture XXXV. Mediatorship of Christ ...

2. I said, the existence of a mediator implies, that a controversy is existing between the parties. That there is a controversy between God and men, is one of the most notorious facts in the universe. It is impossible, that God should approve the conduct of mankind. It cannot be, that He does not disapprove, and that He is not highly displeased with the course of conduct pursued by our race. He cannot but know what the conduct of mankind is. He cannot but approve of disapprove their conduct. For Him to approve their conduct would be to be as bad as they are. He cannot possibly be a virtuous being, unless He highly and infinitely abhor the selfishness of mankind.

Nor can it be possible, that selfish men, remaining selfish, love God. They are hostile to God, because He is so holy as to require of them entire benevolence, on pain of eternal death. This He ought to require. Nothing less than this can He require and be virtuous. But, for this very requirement, men hate Him; and because they hate Him for his goodness, He must certainly, and, if He be a good being, must necessarily abhor them. But the actual state of things in the world shows, that the world is full of blasphemous opposition to the government of God, on the one hand, and that, on the other hand, God is sweeping the nations, from time to time, with the besom of destruction. It is manifestly open, outrageous war, between God and men--God exercising as much forbearance all along as the nature of the case admits--while men, encouraged by his forbearance, are pushing their desperate opposition in the most fool-hardy and blasphemous manner. To maintain, that there is no controversy between God and men, is to deny one of the most universally evident facts that exists in the universe.

3. I said, that the existence of a mediator implies a difficulty in the way of their coming together and adjusting their own matters in difference, and that this difficulty might arise out of an indisposition in one or both the parties to have the matter adjusted, or out of the relation of the parties to each other. Hence, I observe:
 

(1.) The necessity of a mediator between God and men did not arise out of any unmerciful disposition on the part of God, or any disinclination on his part to pardon sin, if it could be safely done in consistency with the stability of his government. God is love, and of course infinitely disposed to do good whenever He wisely can. It is absurd to say, that an infinitely benevolent being should not be merciful in his disposition, and that He should not actually exercise mercy in the pardon of crime, whenever it can be done consistently with the public interest.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 72 13 Lecture I. Thy Will Be Done ...

8. The doctrine of total depravity as consisting in the selfish state of the will, and of entire holiness, as consisting in the benevolent state of the will, must stand or fall together. If any thing about a man can be sinful, while his will is in a perfectly benevolent state, it must be true that when the will is in a perfectly selfish state, some things or many things in the same mind may be at the same time truly holy. And if a man can be all the while sinning, while his heart or will is in a state of disinterested benevolence, he can all the while be partly holy, while his heart or will is unregenerate and in a state of entire selfishness. If the emotions and actions of a man whose will is in a perfectly benevolent state can be sinful, then the emotions or actions of a man who is in a perfectly selfish state can be holy. So also, if the actions and emotions which follow from a selfish state of the will must of necessity be sinful, so the actions which follow from a benevolent state of the will must in the same sense be holy.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 99 13 Lecture I. Thy Will Be Done ...

5. Coming into this state of mind is what we mean by conversion or regeneration. It is a change in the ultimate choice or intention of the mind, in other words, from selfishness, or the choice of self-gratification as the great end of life, to disinterested benevolence. This and nothing short of this, is regeneration or the new birth. It is and must be the beginning of true religion. This is holiness. It is sanctification, and the uninterrupted continuance of it is what is intended by a state of sanctification. And if, as new relations are perceived, the will comes into immediate conformity to all these new relations, and remains in this state of conformity, such a mind is in entire harmony with the will of God, and can sincerely say, "Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."

REMARKS.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 134 115 Lecture II. Danger of Delusion ...

3. It has been a common and almost universal idea that sin and holiness can co-exist in the same mind. But if true religion or holiness consists in supreme or ultimate intention, sin can by no means co-exist with it; for certainly a moral being cannot, at the same time, have a supremely benevolent intention, and a selfish intention. If virtue consists in intention, so must sin. Sin consists universally in a supremely selfish intention, or in aiming at the gratification of self, as the supreme end of life. Selfishness then and true religion, as I have more than once said in former lectures, consist in opposite ultimate intentions, and cannot co-exist in the same mind. When therefore it is supposed that sin and holiness can co-exist in the same mind, it is manifest that the true idea of true religion is not before the mind.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 137 115 Lecture II. Danger of Delusion ...

6. Only certain gross sins are generally regarded as being inconsistent with the existence of true holiness. It seems to be generally understood that habitual drunkenness, licentiousness, lying, theft, murder, &c., would demonstrate that a person had no true religion. But it does not seem to be at all the general opinion that one form of habitual selfishness is just as inconsistent with true religion, as another. Men may transact business on selfish principles; they may live in vanity, in various forms of self-indulgence, and these forms of selfishness may be habitual with them, and yet they may regard themselves, and be regarded by others, as being truly religious. But this cannot be. A man can no more be truly religious, and transact business upon selfish principles, and for selfish reasons, that he could be truly religious, and be drunk every day in the week; for it makes no difference, whether he devotes himself to the promotion of self-gratification in the form of obtaining wealth, or in the form of gratifying appetite for strong drink, or in other sensual indulgences. It matters not whether a woman devotes herself to dress, or to the gratification of licentious appetites. A vain woman can no more be religious than a licentious woman. It does not seem to be understood, or hardly so much as dreamed of by the Church in general, that one form of selfishness is just as inconsistent with true religion, as another; and that no form of selfishness whatever can consist with true religion.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 138 115 Lecture II. Danger of Delusion ...

7. If often happens that nearly all the reasons urged by ministers and others to induce men to be religious, are mere appeals to their selfishness. Now this shows that often-times religious teachers themselves, have not the true idea of religion developed in their own minds. I might appeal to my readers and ask you, is it common for you to hear true religion accurately defined? Do your teachers make such discriminations as generally to develop in the minds of their congregation, the true idea of what constitutes religion? I hope in many instances they do. And yet I am sure that in many instances they do not. It is the very general fault of religious teachers that they do not succeed in developing in the minds of their hearers the true idea of religion.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 140 115 Lecture II. Danger of Delusion ...

9. Sin is often denounced without telling what it is. It is almost always spoken of as something different from selfishness. And when selfishness is spoken of at all as sin, it is only spoken of as being one form of sin. It often happens, that selfishness ceases to be regarded as sin, and very little will be said of it as constituting sin at all, whereas selfishness, under its various modifications, is the whole of sin.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 141 115 Lecture II. Danger of Delusion ...

10. Were not the true idea of what constitutes true religion rare, hopes could not possibly be entertained by nor for the great mass of professing Christians. If it were generally understood that religion is nothing else than supreme benevolent intention, that necessarily begets corresponding feeling and action--were it also generally understood that one form of habitual selfishness is just as inconsistent with true religion as another, and that the habitual existence of any form of selfishness whatever, is proof conclusive, of the absence of true religion, how impossible would it be that hopes should be entertained, either by or for the scores of selfish professors, that fill our churches.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 154 115 Lecture II. Danger of Delusion ...

3. The selfishness of mankind creates in them a strong tendency to make religion consist in some modification of selfishness, and to overlook the fact, that religion consists in disinterested benevolence.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 155 115 Lecture II. Danger of Delusion ...

4. The selfishness of men creates in them a strong tendency to misunderstand the Bible. The Bible every where promises reward to virtue, and threatens vice with endless evil. But the Bible no where makes virtue to consist in aiming at the reward as an end. It always represents virtue as consisting in disinterested benevolence. Now as mankind are selfish, they are extremely liable to make escape from the penalty of sin, and the rewards of virtue, the great and most influential reasons for their attempts to be virtuous. They set up the rewards of virtue as an end--aim at getting to heaven--and set about the service of God for the sake of reward. But this is not virtue. It is only serving for the loaves and fishes. There is not a particle of true benevolence in it. It is amazing to see to what extent men set about what they call the service of God, from purely selfish motives, and really understand the Bible as an appeal to their selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 157 115 Lecture II. Danger of Delusion ...

6. The selfishness of men with which we are perpetually surrounded, tends strongly to divert the attention from that which constitutes true religion.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 190 115 Lecture II. Danger of Delusion ...

3. The radical principle of all false religion, whatever be its name, is selfishness. No matter whether it be Judaism, Christianity, Mahommedanism, or by whatever name you call it, the radical principle, that which constitutes the end and aim of every false religionist, is some form of selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 192 115 Lecture II. Danger of Delusion ...

5. The state of the world and of the Church is such, and the general strain of preaching such, that even true converts are very apt soon to let slip the true idea, and consequently to fall from the practice of true religion. They see so little of real benevolence, they hear so little about it, they witness such universal selfishness, that they soon get confused, backslidden, and fall into the snare of the devil. How striking and appropriate, then, is the admonition of the Apostle in the text, "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we let them slip."

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 256 235 Lecture IV. God Under Obligation to Do Right ...

Some seem to suppose that the reason why God cannot sin, is that He is above law, that his arbitrary will is law, and that whatever He wills or can will, must be right simply because his will is law. But such persons do not consider that if this theory is true, He can no more be holy than He can sin, for if there be not some rule of conduct obligatory upon Him, He has no standard of action, nothing with which to compare his own conduct, and can in fact have no moral character. Now the reason why God cannot sin, is not because He is naturally unable to sin, nor because selfishness in Him would not be sin. But it is said He cannot sin, because He is voluntarily holy, infinitely disposed not to sin.

IV. All moral beings are bound to be willing that God should do right.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 317 306 Lecture V. Ordination ...

4. Ministers should not take such heed to themselves as to indulge any form of selfishness. Selfishness is the direct opposite of holiness, and cannot co-exist in the same heart with holiness. If, therefore, a minister should not be totally depraved, he should not indulge any form of selfishness: but,

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 349 306 Lecture V. Ordination ...

3. See that you do not LOSE the idea of true religion, nor suffer those to whom you preach to lose it. Remember that selfishness is so rife in this world, and there are so many forms of selfishness that look very much like benevolence, that persons are in the utmost danger of letting slip the true idea of religion.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 388 371 Lecture VI. Wisdom Justified of Her Children ...

(2.) They are free from the bias of selfishness. They have no self righteous and legal prejudices to blind them on the one hand, and no idols to consult or lusts to gratify on the other. In just so far as their eye is single, they will naturally and readily apprehend the truth as it is. From the very constitution of their mind, they are the less likely to misunderstand the truth, by how much the less they are influenced by any selfish consideration. And the more likely to understand it aright, by how much the more single their eye is to the glory of God. Christ says, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me, But a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him, for they know not the voice of stranger." Here Christ plainly teaches that those who are truly his sheep, will not follow strangers; that is, they will not be led away into a fundamental error. The Apostle, in one of his letters, plainly teaches the impossibility of deceiving the elect.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 390 371 Lecture VI. Wisdom Justified of Her Children ...

(4.) To the truly wise, the law and gospel are one consistent scheme of revelation and salvation, and not contradictory and conflicting schemes. A truly pious person will behold at a glance the wisdom and benevolence of God, in the typical manner of teaching the gospel under the old Testament dispensation. He sees at once, that through those types and shadows, a future Christ, and justification by faith in Him, were taught. Truly pious persons see no difference in the way of salvation under the two dispensations--that they only differ in this, that in the old, Christ was presented through types and prophecies as a future sacrifice, while in the new He is presented in the simple form of history, as having lived and died, and thus set aside the necessity of the typical manner of teaching the gospel. To them God is the same in both dispensations and the spirit of all that He has ever done or said is one and the same.

III. Selfish minds will stumble at what is wise and true; and why they will do so.

1. Their state of mind, or the end for which they live, has a powerful tendency to beget misunderstanding. Being selfish, they naturally overlook the benevolence of God, as it is every where manifested in the works of creation. They have their eye upon the promotion of their own private interests, and see no benevolence in any thing that does not favor the particular end they have in view. They are often fretted with the providence of God. Like the owl in the fable, that wondered why the sun was created, with so much light that he could not see to catch a mouse, the selfish sinner looks upon every thing as very untractable, and ill-natured, that does not fall in with his peculiar ends and aims. In this state of mind, he naturally misunderstands almost every thing that God does and says. If God commands him to glorify Him, he is apt to understand God as being selfish and ambitious, just as the sinner knows himself to be. He does not understand that God is purely and disinterestedly benevolent in such a requirement. He naturally understands all God's commands, promises, and threatenings, as founded in selfishness. He knows his own to be, and therefore naturally thinks of God, as being altogether such an one as himself. Furthermore, when God promises reward to virtue, and threatens evil to vice, he understands these as appeals to his selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 391 371 Lecture VI. Wisdom Justified of Her Children ...

2. Just so with the providence of God. The sinner misunderstands it at every step. If it should happen to fall in with his favorite pursuits and schemes, he looks upon God as being very partial to him, and perhaps thanks God, as we often hear selfish professing Christians do, for being so much better to him, than He is to others--for being so very partial to him in a great many respect. But on the other hand, if God's providence happen not to favor his particular pursuits and schemes, he is apt to look upon God as prejudiced against them and as indulging some pique--as acting towards them upon the principle of retaliation and revenge. Being conscious, to some extent, of the principles by which they know themselves to be actuated, they very naturally attribute the same motives to God--and thus they perpetually deceive themselves in regard to the divine character. God's works, and providence, and word, are universally good. They tend to one ultimate end--the highest good of being. God aims at promoting every interest according to its relative value. He proceeds upon a vast scale of benevolence, which induces Him to cause his sun to rise, and his rain to descend, upon the evil and the good. The very fact that God is pursuing one end, and the sinner another, leads the sinner, almost continually, to misinterpret God's ways, and works, and word. The wisdom and virtue of God so conflict with the sinner's selfishness, as to keep him in almost a continual fret.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 392 371 Lecture VI. Wisdom Justified of Her Children ...

3. The sinner's selfishness naturally tends to make him misunderstand the moral law, to overlook its spirituality, and to consider obedience to consist either in outward acts, or inward feelings. And seldom do sinners understand obedience to the moral law, to consist simply in universal disinterested benevolence.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 393 371 Lecture VI. Wisdom Justified of Her Children ...

4. The selfishness of the human heart, led the Jews to misunderstand and misinterpret the ceremonial law, and to look upon it as a religion or works. Instead of understanding it to be a system of typical instruction, by and through which the most spiritual truths were taught, their selfishness led them to regard the splendid temple and the vast round of rites and ceremonies, and costly sacrifices, as a splendid, costly, gorgeous set of rites, such as the great Mogul might institute, or some human deity might cause to be observed, in relation to himself.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 394 371 Lecture VI. Wisdom Justified of Her Children ...

5. Being in a selfish state of mind, and not understanding the spirit of the Old Testament, God appears to them, under that dispensation, to have been malignant, revengeful, selfish, bloody. Under the gospel, He appears to them as at the opposite extreme of selfishness, and as exhibiting such an overweening fondness for men, as to be far from exercising even needed severity. They seem unable to understand how it is, that it is the same God, and the same state of mind, that manifests itself under both dispensations. They are far enough from realizing, that the same benevolence required the exterminating wars in the days of Moses, and Joshua, and Samuel, that poured out the Savior's life's blood upon the cross, and manifested such vast forbearance in the days, and in the person of Christ. Their selfishness is such, that they do not understand how it is that benevolence manifests itself in all the variety of ways, in which God has dealt with men at different times. They do not understand that it is the same benevolence, manifesting itself in a regard to the public good, that sends sinners to hell, and takes the righteous to heaven--that it was the same spirit in Samuel, that led him to hew Agag in pieces, before the Lord, that in other circumstances, in the person of Jesus Christ, could stand in the midst of the fiery furnace of persecution, even unto death, unangered, and sweetly quiet as a lamb.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 395 371 Lecture VI. Wisdom Justified of Her Children ...

6. One class of selfish minds are legalists. Having been convicted of sin, their selfishness takes on that peculiar type. They are, perhaps, remarkably strict in the outward observance of the Sabbath, and the ordinances of God's house. They seem to be always dissatisfied with themselves, and with every body else--vexed and harassed with the consideration that they do not meet the demands of their own conscience. They are always confessing their heart sins, but never forsaking them. Having no faith in Christ, they know nothing of gospel liberty. Not knowing what it is to eat and drink for the glory of God, their table becomes a snare and a trap, and a stumbling-block to them, They are uncomfortable themselves, and render those around them so. Cheerfulness looks shocking to them, and appears altogether like unbecoming levity. Encouraging any of the arts, appears to them like conformity to the world, and even the temperate enjoyment of such things as are requisite to health, comfort, and usefulness, appears to them inconsistent with benevolence. They do not seem to know that all these things are parts of benevolence, but look upon them as a spirit of self-gratification, just as a man who knows nothing in his own experience, of eating from any other motives than self-gratification, would not, of course, understand how others could do the same things only as they were influenced by the same motives.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1842 paragraph 400 371 Lecture VI. Wisdom Justified of Her Children ...

11. But another class who are wise, understand the doctrine of self-denial to be as it is, a total renunciation of selfishness in all its forms, the doing, and using, and being every thing for the glory of God. They understand the doctrine of self-denial to require them to hold every thing, even life itself, at the absolute disposal of God, in so high a sense, as not to count their own lives dear to them, if the cause of Christ demands that they should be given up--that while they thus hold their lives and their all at the disposal of God, they do not wantonly and recklessly cast their lives away as a thing of nought, but carefully preserve and enjoy their lives, while, in the Providence of God, permitted to do so. And so in regard to every thing else which they have and are. While every thing is held at God's disposal, they do not recklessly cast away and squander, or give away, to be squandered by the improvident around them, the useful things, which God has put in their possession, but temperately and thankfully use such of them, as can conduce to their health, comfort, or usefulness, until the Providence of God shall call for the relinquishment of some or all of them; for his glory. Then they count these things not dear to them, but yield instant possession, not only without gainsaying, but with joyfulness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 9 TABLE OF CONTENTS ... HOLINESS OF CHRISTIANS IN THE PRESENT LIFE ...

Lecture III. Selfishness>Selfishness

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 69 24 Lecture I. Prove All Things ...

(10.) This intuitive faculty affirms, that on the will's consenting to gratify any of these appetites, desires or passions under forbidden circumstances, there is sin. For example, when Eve saw the fruit, her appetite naturally craved it. In this there was nothing wrong, but when she consented to gratify her appetite, not withstanding it was prohibited, this was supreme selfishness. Had it not been prohibited the gratification would have been proper, but being prohibited, it was sin. It is the same respecting the gratifying of any desire or passion whatever.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 83 74 Lecture II. Nature of True Virtue ...

2. This love is not complacency or esteem. Complacency is that pleasant emotion, or state of the sensibility which is experienced when we see any thing which, from the laws of our constitution, is naturally pleasing to us. For example. If you contemplate a beautiful natural scenery, you experience a pleasing emotion, or delight, from the very nature of your constitution. It is precisely the same in contemplating moral beauty. Men are so constituted that whenever they contemplate a virtuous character, provided it does not in any way conflict with their selfishness, they delight in it--a pleasurable emotion always springs up of course. Now this complacency, or esteem of virtuous character, is perfectly involuntary, and therefore can have no virtue in it. This we know by consciousness which I defined in my last lecture to be the mind's knowledge of its own existence, acts, and states, and of the liberty or necessity of these acts and states. By consciousness then we know that this complacency in the character, either in God or any other virtuous being, is involuntary, and the natural and necessary result of the mental constitution, when brought into certain relations to such characters. Again, this complacency cannot be true virtue, or the love required in the Bible, because it can with propriety be exercised only towards the virtuous, whereas the love which the Bible requires is to be exercised towards all. We are not required to exercise complacency towards sinners, and it would plainly be unjust and absurd if we were, since to delight in a sinful character is impossible. But the text requires universal love. Therefore the love which it requires and complacency cannot be identical. Again, complacency is common to real saints, and to the self-deceived, and impenitent. Much evil is done by denying that sinners have this feeling of complacency towards God and his law, when the fact is they know that they have. Whenever they see the character of God aside from his relation to themselves, they cannot avoid it. It arises by a natural necessity from the mental constitution. The wickedest devil in hell would experience it, if he could view the character of God aside from its relations to himself. It is absurd to deny that mind would feel thus, for if it would not, it must be inconsistent with itself, which cannot be. Furthermore complacency in virtuous character is consistent with the highest degree of wickedness. It is related of a certain infidel that he would go into ecstacies in contemplating the character of God, and who has not heard the wicked insist on it that they do love God, and found it almost impossible to convince them that they did not love Him with any virtuous love? Why? Because they are conscious of these emotions of complacency towards Him, and mistake it for real benevolence.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 84 74 Lecture II. Nature of True Virtue ...

3. The love required in the text is not what is commonly called fondness, for this is a mere emotion and therefore involuntary. I know not what else to call a certain development of the mind towards God. Persons often exhibit a fondness towards God, the same as towards any other being. They love Him because He loves them just as sinners peculiarly love those who do them a good turn. And they do not distinguish between this and true religion; but immediately after the strongest exhibition of it, take advantage of a neighbor in trade, or exhibit selfishness in some other form.

The truth is, it often consists with the most fiendish wickedness, as also with the highest irreverence. Persons in this state of mind often seem, in conversing about Him, in their prayers to Him and in every way to regard and treat God merely as an equal. I have often thought how infinitely insulting to Him their conduct must be. Again this fondness is consistent with any degree of self-indulgence. In direct connection with its exercise, persons often show themselves to be the perfect slaves of their appetites and passions. They undoubtedly feel their fondness, but do they love? They say they love, but is their love benevolence? Is it religion? Can that be religion which puts no restraint on the appetites and passions, or only curbs some of them, while it cleaves the more tenaciously to others? Impossible!

4. The love intended in the text is not synonymous with desire. Persons say they desire to love God--they desire to love their neighbor as themselves. No doubt they do, but there is no religion in this, since desire is constitutional and has no moral character. Sinners have the desire and remain sinners still, and every one knows that they are consistent with the highest wickedness. Besides, as it is mere desire, it may exist forever and do no good. Suppose God had from all eternity merely desired to create a universe and make it happy. If He had never gone further than that what good would it have done? So it will not do for us to say to our neighbors be ye warmed, and be ye fed, but give them not those things which are essential to their well being. Unless we really will what we desire, it will never effect any good.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 86 74 Lecture II. Nature of True Virtue ...

6. Nor is the love required in the text delight in the happiness of mankind. We are so constituted as naturally to delight in the happiness of others, whenever there is no selfish reason to prevent. It is this same constitutional tendency which produces such abhorrence of whatever is unjust and injurious. For example: How men's feelings of indignation swell and boil on witnessing acts of injustice. Suppose, in a court of justice, a judge perverts justice, shamefully wronging the innocent, and clearing the guilty. How would the spectators feel? There was a case, sometime since, in one of our cities, where a man had been guilty of a flagrant outrage, but when it was brought before the court, the justice so insulted and abused the sufferer and showed such a disposition to clear the guilty, that the indignation of the spectators became aroused to such a degree that they could hardly be restrained from seizing, and wreaking their vengeance on him. And these were persons who made no pretentions to religion. So men universally, whether virtuous or not, abhor a liar, or the character of the devil. Who ever contemplated the character of the devil, as it really is, without abhorring it? On the contrary, men universally, whether virtuous themselves or not, admire and delight in virtuous characters. Take, for example, the Jews in Christ's time. How they admired, and manifested their delight in the character of the prophets who had formerly perished by the violence of their contemporaries. Now how was this? Why, they now saw the true character of those prophets, without its sustaining such a relation to their selfishness as to annoy them and their constitutional delight was naturally awakened in this way. But at the same time they were treating Christ in the same manner that their fathers, treated those prophets and for the same reason. So now multitudes join in admiring and praising such men as Whitefield, and Wesley, and Edwards, who, if they had lived in their day, would have cried as loud as their contemporaries did--'away with them.' Now, why is this? Because the relations of the characters of these men to the world are now changed, and do not directly cross the track of their selfishness, as they did while living. The same principle is manifested in respect to human freedom. For example: Some years ago, during the struggle of the Greeks for their freedom, what enthusiasm prevailed--what earnestness to go and help them. The government could scarcely control the waves of excitement in their favor. But those very men, who were so enthusiastic in behalf of the Greeks, would now hiss at any error to remove slavery from this country! Now why is this? Because, I say again, men are so constituted that when no selfish reason exists to prevent it, men naturally delight in happiness, and sympathize with the suffering. But there is no virtue in this. It is mere natural emotion which is consistent with the highest wickedness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 95 74 Lecture II. Nature of True Virtue ...

(8.) Aggressiveness is another attribute of benevolence. Of course if benevolence is willing the good of being, it wills the destruction of whatever prevents that good, and continually makes encroachments in every direction upon every form of wickedness however fortified. It will not only sally out against such sins as licentiousness, intemperance, and profanity, but every form of selfishness however popular it may be.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 121 74 Lecture II. Nature of True Virtue ...

8. Many are satisfied with no preaching but such as fans into existence certain happy emotions. These are a kind of religious epicures. Whenever we preach so as to lay bare the roots of selfishness and detect its secret workings, they are not fed. They say this is not the gospel, let us have the gospel. But what do they mean by the gospel? Why simply that class of truths that create and fan into a flame their emotions. And those who most need to be searched are often most unwilling to endure the probe. They make their religion to consist in emotions, and if these are taken away what have they left? Hence they cling to them with a death grasp. Now let me say that these emotions have not one particle of religion in them, and those who want simply that class of truths which fan them into existence are mere religious epicures, and their view of the gospel is sheer antinomianism. If the world were full of such religion it would be none the better for it.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 129 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

Selfishness>Back to Top

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 130 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

HOLINESS OF CHRISTIANS IN THE PRESENT LIFE --No. 3
Selfishness
Lecture III
February 1, 1843

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 133 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

In this passage the Lord complains of the selfishness of Israel; and it is my present design to show,

I. What selfishness is not.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 136 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

IV. Mention some evidences of selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 138 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...


I. What selfishness is not.

1. It is not a desire of happiness, and dread of misery. This is perfectly constitutional in all moral beings. It is involuntary as we know by consciousness, and is, therefore, destitute of all moral character.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 142 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

5. Nor does selfishness consist in any kind, or degree of mere desire as distinguished from choice or willing. As I have often said, every one knows the difference between desire and willing, by his own consciousness. For example; I may desire to go to Europe, and strongly desire it, and yet on the whole, never will to go, for desire does not, but will does govern the conduct.

II. What selfishness is.

1. Man, as I have before said, possesses three cardinal faculties, called Intelligence, Sensibility, and Will. This we know by consciousness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 147 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

(2.) The Sensibility invites to gratification irrespective of the law of the reason. The Sensibility is naturally blind. It impels towards every object, which awakens its susceptibilities, for its own sake, that is because it will afford gratification, and for no other reason. Now every man knows by his own consciousness that such are the relations of his reason, and his sensibility to his will and that he is under the necessity of choosing between them.

The way is now prepared to state directly what selfishness is.

6. It consists in willing the gratification of the Sensibility--in the minds consecrating itself to its demands in opposition to the law of the reason. It is a disposition to gratify self instead of seeking a higher and holier end. It is a state of the will, as distinguished from the Sensibility.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 148 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

7. It must then always consist in what I called in the last lecture, an ultimate intention. The ultimate end chosen by the mind is self-gratification. This, in some form or other, is preferred to everything else. It is not selfishness to have a capacity of gratification, nor is the gratification itself selfishness. Brutes have a sensibility like men, and when the demands of their awakened susceptibilities are met they are gratified, but there is no selfishness in them, nor are they capable of selfishness, because they have no reason to impose on them a higher law than the mere impulses of their sensibility. These impulses, are, however, regulated in them by instinct. But moral beings have a higher faculty which reveals to them a higher end of life, and imposes on them obligation to choose it. It requires them to regard all personal gratification as a means, and not an end, and therefore to be held in perfect subordination to the law imposed by the reason. The Bible only repeats the demands of every man's own reason, when it says-- "Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." That is, hold all your appetites, desires, and passions, with a steady rein, and under perfect control. Now selfishness, consists in preferring self-gratification to the demands of this higher faculty, that is, making personal gratification an end--the ultimate end of life.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 149 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

8. This is just what the Bible calls the "carnal mind," "walking after the flesh." That is, the carnal mind consists in the mind's choosing the gratification of the Sensibility as the end of pursuit. I have said already, that every object of desire, is desired for its own sake, that is, because it is capable of affording gratification. Selfishness therefore consists in choosing desired objects because they are desired; or to gratify self, and not as a means to the glory of God.

III. Selfishness and holiness cannot co-exist in the same mind.

1. In the preceding lecture, I showed that holiness, or true virtue consists wholly in disinterested benevolence, that is, in willing every interest according to its perceived relative value. Benevolence must be a supreme choice, or ultimate intention; for if it wills every interest according to its perceived value, there is nothing else in the universe which it can will. If every good is willed for its own sake according to its perceived value, it is naturally impossible to will any thing beyond that, or aside from it. To say that you can is a contradiction. It is the same as to say that you can will every interest according to its perceived value, and not will it at the same time.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 150 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

2. Now what is selfishness? As we have already seen, under the previous head, it is also an ultimate intention. In other words it is the preference of self-gratification to the law of the reason, that is, to benevolence. Instead of willing every good according to its perceived value, it is willing one good more than all other goods. Whenever an individual prefers his own gratification to the demands of his own reason, he does it in the face of the law of God, and in defiance of his authority.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 151 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

3. But these are, self-evidently, opposite choices and therefore cannot co-exist in the same mind. Is it possible that there can be two supreme, ultimate conflicting choices in exercise by the same mind, at the same time? This cannot be.

I may add that benevolence and selfishness regard and treat every perceived interest in the universe, in an order exactly the opposite of each other. Benevolence regards God's interests first, and aims at his glory as the supreme good; next the well being of the universe; then of this world; afterwards of its own nation; then of its own community; next of its own family; and lastly of itself. Now selfishness exactly reverses all this. The selfish man places self first, and regards his own interest as supreme; then he regards the interest of his family and special friends, but only so far as supreme devotion to himself on the whole prompts; next he regards his own community or city in opposition to all other communities and cities, whenever their interests clash; then he regards his own nation, and is what men call very patriotic, and would sacrifice the interests of all other nations, just as far as they interfere with his own; and so he progresses till finally, God and his interests find the last place in his regards. That this is so, is a simple matter of fact as every body knows, and how then is it possible that these two opposite choices should co-exist in the same mind? Believe it, who can.

IV. Several evidences of selfishness.

1. A want of zeal for God's interests. Men are always zealous for that which they supremely choose, and if they are not zealous for God's honor, it proves that it is not the object of their supreme regard. To deny this is absurd.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 153 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

3. More zeal and labor in promoting self interest, than the interest of God, is an evidence of selfishness. It proves to a demonstration that your own interests are preferred to his. Men universally manifest the most zeal in behalf of that in which they are most interested.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 156 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

6. The absence of a spirit of prayer is an evidence of selfishness. In a world like this prayer is the very breath of benevolence. How can a benevolent man walk through the streets, and mingle in society, without his spirit being stirred within him, and venting itself in earnest prayer? It cannot be.--What! thousands around us, jostling us at every step, in all their sins, already suffering many evils the consequences of transgression, exposed to eternal death! Who that believes there is any help in God for them, can avoid prayer? Certainly none but those who are supremely selfish.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 157 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

7. Another evidence of selfishness is spiritual epicureanism. There is a certain class of persons who are always wanting something to make them happy, and whatever measures or preaching will not secure this result, they of course reject. Now what state of will does this indicate? Why, a selfish state to be sure. They do not want to have their minds enlightened, and their duty pointed out because this renders them unhappy; but they delight to sit and have their emotions fanned till their sensibility is all in a glow, and the preaching which does that, is to them the only gospel. Now this is nothing but a refined selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 158 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

8. Where persons are more zealous to defend their own reputation and character than the cause and honor of God, it is an evidence of selfishness. There are multitudes even of professors of religion, who, if men should say anything against their character, or if in any way, their reputation was about to suffer, would be thrown into an agony, lie awake all night, and wet their pillow with tears; but if they should hear a ribald infidel rail against God, and cover his character all over with foul reproaches, it would scarcely catch a passing notice. Now why is this? Plainly because they prize their own character more than the honor of God, and are supremely selfish.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 159 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

9. Unwillingness to make personal sacrifices to promote a higher good is another evidence of selfishness. This needs no illustration.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 160 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

10. Another evidence of selfishness is the dominion of any appetite or passion over the will. There are some who pretend to be religious, who habitually gratify certain appetites and passions which they admit to be wrong. Ask them if they do not believe it to be wrong; they say, yes, but they cannot overcome it. And mark me, that is a selfish man; that is the very definition of selfishness. It is preferring self gratification to the known will of God. It is what the Apostle means by "minding the flesh."

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 162 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

12. Another evidence is a disposition to envy and murmur, if others possess what you do not.- What state of mind is that? It cannot bear to see anybody live in a better house, have better accommodations, superior endowments, or richer equipage. Instead of rejoicing in their good, it repines that they are not on a level with itself. It says, let no one have more than I. Now this must be supreme selfishness. How would benevolence feel and talk? Plainly it would rejoice in their good, and its language would be, "I thank God that others possess these good things if I do not."

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 163 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

13. A spirit of speculation is another evidence of selfishness. By this, I mean a disposition to make bargains out of others. Now would benevolence represent the article above its real value--would it attempt to get rich by taking the advantage of others? I have been amazed whenever I have thought of the perfect mania, which swept like an epidemic over all the length and breadth of the land some years since. It was the great object to make money by speculation. Christians, and even ministers rushed headlong into the general scramble after money. When asked why they did so, they replied, they wished to make money for God, that is, in plain English, they wished to promote the glory of God, by trampling upon his law. Why, the principle is as absurd as to become a pirate to get money to give to the Bible Society. Suppose a man should turn pirate, and go out upon the high seas to run down, and destroy every vessel that came in his way under pretense of getting money to give to the Bible Society! And when remonstrated with, suppose he should urge the importance of sending abroad the Bible, and that he could make more money by piracy in order to accomplish this object, than in any other way! Who would give him credit for any benevolence in this? So to attempt to justify speculation on the ground of acquiring means by it, to spread the Gospel, is to put on an impudent face and baptize rebellion against God, with the name of holiness. Rob your neighbor to give to God!!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 164 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

14. Squandering time and money to gratify artificial appetites is another evidence of selfishness.- There are certain appetites which must be gratified that is, the things desired are necessary to our existence and usefulness, and where gratification under appropriate circumstances is proper. To expend money for the gratification of these, is to make a proper use of it, so long as it is done in accordance with the dictates of reason. Such are all the constitutional appetites which are really such.- But when they are not natural, but artificial, their gratification can be nothing else but selfishness.- To illustrate, take the appetite for ardent spirits, tobacco, or any other unnatural stimulant.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 165 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

15. An unwillingness to bear your part in making public improvements, is another evidence of selfishness. Suppose roads are to be made, or churches to be built, or anything else to be done which is essential to the public good, what else can it be but selfishness to stand back from bearing your part in the labor and expense necessary to accomplish it? I have sometimes seen cases of this kind: A church has become deeply involved in debt, and certain individuals seem to want to leave it. They manifest peculiar anxiety to change their relations, when it is as manifest as can be, that their only reason is they wish to avoid doing their part towards paying the debt.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 166 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

16. When self interest must be appealed to in order to excite to action, it is evidence of selfishness. When a man is benevolent, all that is necessary to move the deep foundations of his moral being, is to lay before him some real good to be achieved. It is enough for him to have his intelligence enlightened. But in vain do you attempt to move the selfish man by appeals to his benevolence. If you wish to move him, you must exhibit an entirely different class of motives, such as take deep hold on his sensibility. If he be a professor of religion, perhaps it will be impossible to move him until you can shake his hope. Duty must be brought, with such persons, into such relation as to appear the least of two evils, one or the other of which they must endure, and then their very selfishness leads them to perform it. Or it must be so placed before them as that its performance will advance their own special interests. For example: Suppose a church is to be built. Now if you are obliged to go to a man and tell him how it will increase the value of his own property, or in some other way promote his own peculiar interests, you may depend upon it, that man is supremely selfish. It is the same with this class of persons as it respects their eternal interests. Nothing will move them so effectually to any kind of religious effort, as a representation of the personal good which will accrue to them in the future world. In short, the only way in which you can influence such men, is by appealing either to their hopes or fears.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 168 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

18. A disposition to suspect others of selfishness. This is an almost universal characteristic of selfish minds, and never of a benevolent one. It is for this reason that selfish men so generally, deny that there is any such thing as disinterested benevolence. Mankind are disposed to regard others in the light of their own character. This might be illustrated by the case of Satan and Job. Job was an upright man and served God disinterestedly.- But Satan, being supremely selfish, did not believe it. Said he, "Doth Job serve God for naught?" intimating that the only reason for Job's apparent obedience, was the personal advantages which would accrue to him from it, and even when he had stripped him, by the permission of God, of almost all that he held dear, and Job remained unmoved, he still intimates that his only reason for doing so was a selfish one. "Skin for skin, yea all that a man hath, will he give for his life. But put forth thy hand now and touch his bone and his flesh and he will curse thee to thy face." The truth is, a benevolent man is naturally unsuspicious- "thinketh no evil." But show me a suspicious man, one who is always attributing the worst motives to others, and I will show you a man who is himself supremely selfish.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 169 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

19. An indisposition to do as you would be done unto, is another evidence of selfishness. I gave very high offense to certain persons in one of our cities, not long since, by pressing this thought. Suppose yourself and family to be enjoying all the blessings of liberty, suppose you have a wife whom you dearly love, and children, upon whom have centered the affections of your heart, but in a wo[e]ful day, they are wrested away from your embrace, and plunged into slavery. How would you feel? How would you talk? Would you say we have nothing to do with slavery? Nothing to do with it! Would you say it is nothing to me? Nothing to me! You may depend on it, in that case you would bring up no plea of the delicacy of the subject, as an excuse for refusing to interest yourself in their behalf and to condemn the outrageous system by which they were oppressed. In this way every one may learn his duty towards those who are enslaved in this nation. Put yourself and your family in their place and inquire how you would wish others to regard your condition and to act in reference to it. Now mark, the very thing which you would judge to be their duty in the circumstances supposed, is your own in your present circumstances. Suppose it were now, as it was some years ago, that the Algerines were enslaving our fellow citizens--how would it be regarded by this nation? It would be the signal for instant war. Thousands would press forward to enlist in the work of vengeance upon the oppressors, and if they could not otherwise accomplish the rescue of those in bondage, they would wade through an ocean of blood, and desolate with fire and slaughter their whole territory. But alas! the winds of heaven may come over from the south, laden with the groans of thousands of our fellow men, daily suffering the wrongs of slavery, in its worst forms, and with thousands scarcely a feeling is enlisted in their favor. Is that loving their neighbor as they love themselves? Is this the religion of Jesus Christ? My soul come not thou into the secret of such religion as that! And stranger still, multitudes even attempt to make the Bible sanction and authorize this accursed system. They say the Bible has really authorized it as an institution. But who can believe it? What! the same God who uttered the fiery law, requiring man to love his neighbor as himself, and denouncing death on all who will not comply with the requisition, authorize and sanction a system, which tramples on this law at every step, by which, one man seizes his brother,

"Chains him and tasks him,

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 173 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

Who does not regard such a supposition, when fairly stated, as downright blasphemy, and who would not reject the Bible as a gross imposition, if it really did thus contradict itself and belie its pretended author.

20. Another proof of selfishness, is covetousness. Some cannot bear to see others have what they have not without coveting it, and often to such a degree, that they can scarcely keep their hands from it.--Now wherever this spirit exists it is supreme selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 174 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

21. A disposition to get the best seat in church or the prominent place in assemblies. For example, in churches where they sell their seats, you will see them striving to get the best seat and the best cushion, and the most convenient location, and if they fail of this they are more distressed than if a soul were lost. So, often, when churches are formed instead of trying to secure a house best adapted to the service of God, and instead of trying to promote the conversion of sinners, they lay themselves out to get the best house, and the best organ and the best choir, and the best minister, and then sit down to be preached to heaven. But how shall a minister preach to them? He will utterly fail to do them any good, and to save them from death, if he does not put his finger into their very eyes, and rebuke their horrible selfishness.

V. One form of selfishness is as inconsistent with salvation as another.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 175 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

Remember that selfishness consists in obeying the propensities, appetites, passions, and desires.--This devotion to self gratification developes itself in a great variety of ways without changing its character. With one, one propensity predominates, with another, another. One for example is an epicure. His desire for pleasant dishes predominates over everything else, and he does not value money only as it contributes to his gratification. Another is a miser, and is entirely too much devoted to the desire of wealth to be an epicure. Indeed, he thinks his ruling passion contemptible. One is fond of dress, and values money only as it contributes to the gratification of this desire. This is his form of selfishness. He thinks of it all the year round, and labors with his eye on self gratification in this form. Right over against this, another is fond of power or influence to such an extent as to wonder that any can be fond of such a trifling gratification as dress affords. But he is as much enslaved by his desire of power as the other by his devotion to dress, and is equally selfish. Again, some are so fond of reputation, as to do anything that public sentiment requires, rather than to fail of popularity. This is their form of selfishness.--Their reputation is preferred to the well-being of the universe. But others have such a large development of some appetite or passion as to sacrifice reputation for it. For example: the drunkard.--He regards his appetite for intoxicating drinks above everything else, and his character weighs not a straw when brought into competition with this. Now each of these different forms of selfishness is a violation of the law of God. One just as much so as the other. They all lord it over the will.--And yet those devoted to one form take great credit to themselves because they are not devoted to all the others. The truth is in all cases the sin lies in the indulgence of any appetite, desire or propensity whatever, in opposition to the law of love.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 177 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

1. It matters not which of the propensities prevail over the will in order to constitute selfishness. None of them has moral character in itself. To prefer the indulgence of anyone of them to higher interests is what constitutes sin. It is minding the flesh. It is enmity against God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 179 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

3. Indulgence in any form of selfishness is utterly inconsistent with salvation. It is sin, and the Bible declares that "without holiness no man shall see the Lord."

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 182 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

6. There is so little discrimination, as to the nature of sin, that endless delusions prevail. For example: while it is known that drunkenness, licentiousness, theft, robbery, murder &c. are utterly inconsistent with salvation, various other forms of sin are regarded as consistent with a profession of religion. But the truth is, as I have said before, a man who is selfish in his business, or who practices selfishness in any other form, however slight it may seem, can no more be saved than a drunkard can. Why cannot a drunkard be saved? or the licentious man, or the thief? Because he is selfish. So it must be with any other man who is selfish, whatever may be the type which his selfishness has put on. If a man were drunk but once a week he would be excommunicated as hopelessly lost, but he may be habitually avaricious, vain, or an epicure, and yet be regarded as a good Christian in the estimation of the church. If any church should continue the drunkard in its communion, it would bring upon itself the frown of Christians universally, and yet persons indulging various forms of selfishness are to be found in almost every church, and regarded as true Christians. Scarcely any one suspects that they will not be saved. Now this must be delusion. But why is this mistake? It is because there is so little discrimination respecting the nature of sin. The truth is, if any appetite, desire, or propensity whatever, rules over the will, it matters not what it is, the man is in the way to death.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 184 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

8. Selfishness was the first sin of man; that is, his first sin consisted in preferring his own gratification to the will of God. Now see whether I have given the right definition of sin. The first pair were placed in the garden in which were many trees bearing an abundance to supply their wants, but in the midst was one upon which God laid a prohibition. It is an important question why God laid this restraint[?] It is a question which is often asked, and it is important that it should receive a right answer. The design undoubtedly was to teach them that they must control their sensibility--that they must keep their appetites, desires, and passions in subjection to the law of reason. This lesson it was of vast importance they should learn, and learn too as soon as possible, before their sensibility had such a development, that is, before their appetites, desires, and passions, should acquire such strength, during their ignorance of the tendency of gratifying them, as to render it certain that they never would deny themselves of their gratification when they came to see its tendency. For this reason God prohibits their eating the fruit of one particular tree. Now here Satan steps in, and being well aware of the relation of the Sensibility to the Will, and of both to the Reason, he suggested to our mother Eve, that God was selfish in laying restraint upon the constitutional propensities, and then presents such considerations before her mind as awakens two of the strongest of them, the appetite for food, and the desire of knowledge. This placed the demands of her reason which echoed the prohibition of God, and the demand of her constitutional desires in opposition. Between these her will was compelled to choose. And in that evil hour she preferred the gratification of these appetites to the will of God, and thus

"Brought death into the world, and all our woe."

This was the first sin. Observe now, these constitutional appetites were perfectly innocent in themselves, but the sin consisted in her consenting to their gratification in opposition to the requirement of God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 185 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

9. Selfishness is the first sin of every human being. Children come into the world in perfect ignorance both of the law of God and of the tendency of their sensibility. Now what is the process by which they sin. See the little child. At first it can scarcely turn its head or open its eyes. It is hardly conscious of any thing. Soon its sensibility begins to be developed, and foremost its appetite for food. As soon as you give it any thing, no matter what, it puts it right into the mouth. Gradually other appetites are awakened, equally constitutional, and therefore without moral character. At what age their reason begins to be developed we cannot know. But it is doubtless very early. But as soon as it is developed and affirms obligation then its very next is a moral act. Hence the appetites, desires, and propensities of its sensibility which have previously been developed, and its perception of obligation are both placed before its will, and it prefers the former to the latter. This is its first sin, and this is the first sin of every human being. But why does it always choose wrong? Because previously to the development of its reason, its will has constantly been under the control of its appetites, and it has acquired a habit of consenting to them. On the contrary the first affirmations of its reason are necessarily feeble. He therefore chooses self-gratification in opposition to it.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 186 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

10. Selfishness constitutes sin in every instance. It is easy to show that this must be so.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 187 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

11. We can see what regeneration is. It is turning from selfishness to benevolence. It is the act of the will preferring the well being of the universe to self-gratification to which it has always previously consented.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 190 129 Lecture III. Selfishness ...

14. See why the Spirit of God is needed in regeneration. Men have been so habituated to gratify themselves, and their attention is so absorbed with this that the Spirit of God is needed to develop their reason, and to throw the light of heaven upon its eye, that it may see at once the nature and beauty of religion in contrast with the nature and deformity of sin. This is conviction. Then the sinner needs to be charmed away from his selfishness by correct apprehensions of the character of God, and the love of Christ. This it is the Spirit's office to effect.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 217 193 Lecture IV. Christian Character ...

4. Sin is the exact opposite of this, and consists in the consecration, by the will or heart, of the whole being to the gratification of self. This is selfishness, which we have already endeavored to show is the substance of all the sin in the universe.--Whatever, in the action of the will or heart, is not conformed to the law of love, as perceived by the reason, is sin, whether it be omission of duty or the commission of that which is positively prohibited. Entire conformity of heart and life, therefore, to all known truth is holiness, and nothing short of this is, or can be. If persons deny this, it is because they do not know what they say, and have not the idea of holiness before their mind at all. The law of God is one--a unity, and to talk of being partly conformed to it, and partly not, is to overlook the very nature both of the law and of conformity to it. The law of God requires perfect conformity of life and heart to all the truth perceived, and this is moral perfection in any being, and is the only sense in which any being can be morally perfect in any world. Suppose there is a moral pigmy whose standard of truth is No. 1. Now if he fully conforms to that, he does his whole duty. So you may increase the scale to 2, 5, 10, 20, and moral perfection will still consist in conformity to the light possessed. Suppose you ascend the scale to ten thousand or a million, it is still the same until you arrive at God Himself, and this is just what constitutes the moral perfection of God. All the truths in the universe are known to Him with absolute certainty, and He conforms to all He knows. Since his knowledge admits of no increase, his holiness admits of none, while that of all finite beings does and will to all eternity. Angels doubtless sustain innumerable relations of which they are totally ignorant, and to which they are not morally conformed, but their state of will is such, that as fast as they learn them they conform to them , and hence their holiness is constantly increasing; and so it must be from the lowest to the highest degree of moral capacity. Every thing, then, short of living up to the light we have, is sin, and every moral act is either right or wrong.

III. What to be born of God is not.

1. Regeneration does not consist in the creation of any new faculties. We have faculties enough, more than we use well, and do not need any more.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 228 193 Lecture IV. Christian Character ...

3. This seed, which has once broken the power of selfishness, remains in him, that is, in his memory, so that he can sin only by letting it slip. "Let that therefore abide in you which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." This truth, as I said before, is not a piece of something which God puts into you, nor is it religion, nor love, but it is that which once subdued your will and will not cease to influence you, only as you let it slip.

VII. What is not intended by the assertion that whosoever is born of God does not and cannot commit sin.

1. It cannot mean that a holy being has not power to commit sin. Adam was a holy being and he sinned, as did also the "Angels that kept not their first estate." If there were a lack of natural power to sin, there would be no virtue in obedience. This position would contradict facts innumerable. Perhaps very few have ever been born of God who have not afterwards been guilty of sin. This is a matter of consciousness. Most of the histories recorded in the Bible of good men, show that they did fall into sin, and the Bible everywhere assumes that there is danger of this. It would destroy free agency and the possibility of being sinful or holy.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 322 309 Lecture VI. Putting on Christ ...

II. What is implied in obeying this command.

1. It implies the putting away of selfishness. Christ was not selfish. Selfishness is the preference of self-gratification, to the will of God, and the good of the universe, and Christ never did this. The Apostle adds, "and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof." Here, he contrasts "putting on Christ," and "making provision for the flesh," which is the same as selfishness. Paul was more philosophical than any of the sacred writers, and employs the language--"works of the flesh," "following after the flesh," "carnal mind," & c. to designate the nature of sin. But the whole Bible condemns self-seeking as wrong, and inconsistent with the true service of God, or imitation of Christ.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 403 370 Lecture VII. Way to Be Holy ...

3. It is the only possible way, in the very nature of the case, to secure love. God might command, and back up the command with threatenings. But this would only fill the selfish mind with terror, leaving its selfishness unbroken, and even grasping at its objects amid the roar of its thunders. In the very nature of mind, then, to secure obedience, He must secure confidence. Why, look at Eve. The moment she doubted, she fell. And so would all heaven fall if they should lose confidence in God. Yes, they would fall! They would no more retain their obedience, than the planets would retain their places, if the power of gravitation were broken. Every one knows that if the power of attraction were destroyed, suns, and stars, and planets would run lawless through the universe, and desolation would drive her ploughshare through creation. So, break the power of confidence in heaven, and every angel there would fall like Lucifer, and universal anarchy prevail.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 451 413 Lecture VIII. What Attainments Christians May Reasonably Expect to Make in This Life ...

12. The absence of all selfishness. Selfishness, in any degree, is inconsistent with sanctification.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 492 482 Lecture IX. Necessity and Nature of Divine Teaching ...


I. Necessity of a divine influence in regeneration and sanctification.

1. A selfish mind will, as a matter of fact, never recover itself to holiness. This will appear evident from the nature of selfishness. Selfishness consists in the committal of the will to self-gratification, or the indulgence of the constitutional propensities.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 493 482 Lecture IX. Necessity and Nature of Divine Teaching ...

2. Now observe that selfishness is the supreme choice of the mind. It is choosing self-gratification over and above all other and higher interests. It is making self-gratification the ultimate end--the thing to which every other thing is made, by the mind, to sustain the relation of means, and which is therefore chosen for its own sake.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 496 482 Lecture IX. Necessity and Nature of Divine Teaching ...

5. If it be an existing choice, which diverts the mind from one class of objects or motives, and directs it into another channel, although the mind is entirely free, yet failing to perceive objects from which it is thus diverted, it does not possess within itself the means that will ever secure its choosing in accordance with them. I do not mean to say that an existing choice, whether selfish or holy, absolutely prevents the mind from perceiving any motives to a choice contrary to itself; for, as I showed in my lecture on the Christian warfare, our sensibility will always lay us open to temptation, however holy we may become. But a holy choice naturally shuts out motives hostile to itself as far as possible, and keeps its attention upon the opposite class. So, on the contrary, a selfish choice cannot utterly hush the voice of reason, and shut out all motives to holiness, but it naturally does so as far as it can; and, as a matter of fact, we find selfish minds so much open to motives to selfishness, and so diverted from all others, that selfish motives have the entire influence over them. Unless, therefore, some agency external to itself is employed to engage the attention, and cause the mind to apprehend and consider another class of motives, than those to which it has committed itself, the case is hopeless. While it is thus taken up and engrossed, it will not perceive objects of a different character so as to come under their influence, but will be drifted along to the depths of hell. All its choices will be between different forms of selfishness. It has committed itself to the stream, and notwithstanding the spontaneous remonstrances of reason, it will float onward. Persons may even hear daily the best of instruction, and the most solemn warnings, and yet so divert their attention from it, as to feel its power but little if any. Thus Judas was always thinking of money, so that even the preaching of Christ did him no good. So, multitudes of persons have so employed themselves in selfish pursuits that although they hear, every Sabbath, the most pungent and solemn truths, they do not seem to be in the least degree affected by them, but even sit in the house of God plotting schemes of selfish enterprize, and thus, by the action of the laws of their own minds, rush on to certain destruction, unless arrested by some foreign influence.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 501 482 Lecture IX. Necessity and Nature of Divine Teaching ...

5. This agent must be able to reveal to the mind such truths as are calculated to inspire confidence and love. Otherwise all his testimony will only confirm their selfishness, and leave them still "carnal, sold under sin." He must also possess immeasurable patience. Men often get out of patience, and even parents with their own children. What patience then is necessary in order to influence men to obey the will of God. Moreover, He must also be Omnipresent, and characterized by vast benevolence. Just think what benevolence is required. The Atonement is made, but sinners heed it not, and here something additional must be done to remove the blindness, and overcome the sottishness of man--to lead him to accept its offers and obey its precepts.

III. This kind of influence is actually employed.

1. The Holy Spirit strives with every generation, and with every individual altogether gratuitously. He receives no pay for it. Oh how great must be his benevolence! His influence has all the characteristics above specified. It is spiritual, John 16:7-8. "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment."

It is moral, as opposed to physical. He works in us to will and to do, by motives, by truth. See the texts. Also, James 1:18. "Of his own will begat He us, with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures." 1 Pet. 1:23. "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." Jn. 17:17. "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." All these passages, not only assert that the Spirit exerts an influence, but plainly teach that it is moral in kind. The Atonement of Christ, furnishes the motives by which to effect the work, both of converting sinners, and sanctifying saints. If it should occur to you, that there were persons converted before the Atonement was made, I answer, that it was through that class of truths which the Atonement presents, and they were shadowed forth in the Jewish ritual, and revealed in prophecy. It certainly was not by merely legal influences. Law only drives a sinner to despair. What! a selfish sinner brought to love by the threatenings of the law? Impossible! Conscious of his selfishness and guilt, he looks up, and sees God clothed in terrors and frowns, with the red thunderbolt in his hand to dash him to hell. Has this a tendency to induce in him a disinterested submission to, and love for God? No, but directly the contrary. It condenses his selfishness into fiercer opposition. But how different the manifestation of love in the Atonement. It is, as Paul says--Romans 12:20. "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." If you meet your enemy, you may scold and threaten to shoot him; and while you upbraid him, he may blush; while you threaten, he may tremble; but he will not love. We know the influence of such a course, by our own consciousness. But if we manifest benevolence towards him, we heap coals of fire on his head. We change him into a friend. So, when the sinner sees God all love instead of frowns, with what a magic power it wilts him all down! While he sees only the signs of wrath, he stands as unbending as a marble pillar, and if he weeps, his tears are the tears of a rock; but as the Spirit takes and shows him the things of Christ, he is instantly all unbraced--his stubborn knees bow, his heart breaks, and he lies all along, subdued at the foot of the cross. Such is the work of the Spirit.

IV. The consistency and co-operation of divine and human agency in the work.

1. We are conscious of being active in every step of the work. The Spirit does not first convert men and they then become active. We are conscious that we are perfectly active all along, every step of the way; just as much so as in business, or any thing else in the world.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 503 482 Lecture IX. Necessity and Nature of Divine Teaching ...

3. Without his agency, though perfectly free and responsible, yet being selfish, and voluntarily shutting ourselves up to the consideration and influence of motives to selfishness, we should do nothing to recover ourselves out of the snare of the devil. He works in us to will, and to do of course, since willing necessitates doing. He addresses Himself to the work of influencing the will, because that is just the place to begin. All the actions we perform which are good, are truly ours, but the agent who persuades us to them, is the Holy Spirit. He wisely charms our wills into conformity to the will of God.

REMARKS.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 512 482 Lecture IX. Necessity and Nature of Divine Teaching ...

9. See what Rom. 5:6, means. "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." But for the Atonement, the Holy Spirit could not sanctify us for want of motives adapted to slay our selfishness. But the Atonement gives Him that power over us.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 545 526 Lecture X. Fulness There is in Christ ...

7. We need an influence that can break our hearts and bring us to repentance--not only to atone for, but to reclaim us. That is a very slim gospel, which merely pardons men, and then leaves them to achieve their own victories over the world, the flesh, and the devil. It would never save any man. We need a gospel which will come to us where we are, break up the deep foundations of our selfishness, and transform us to love.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 698 668 Lecture XIII. Gospel Liberty ...

3. Admitting the least selfishness, naturally leads into bondage. Observe, religion is benevolence. The least selfishness, then, is bondage of course.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 740 722 Lecture XIV. Joy in God ...

5. Many professors of religion are at heart, Universalists. They are not thoroughly and really with God, in his administration of government. Universalism has its seat in the heart. It is a state of heart, divesting God of his holiness, of his justice, of his prerogative to execute terrible judgments, to send the wicked to hell. These things Universalism cannot love. Their God must not do such things as these. No, surely! Is this true religion? to limit God, to say, do thus or thus; punish not me, my friends, or my race; no matter how rebellious we are, destroy us not; no matter how incorrigible we are; or we cannot love you? This is selfishness, and is regarded by Jehovah as such.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 750 722 Lecture XIV. Joy in God ...

13. Sinners can see the necessity of a change of heart. They know this is not their state of mind, every sinner knows perfectly well he does not feel thus towards God; every sinner knows he cannot be happy, except his own way is followed, his own will gratified. He cannot rejoice in God let him do what he will, and yet who does not know that this is universal in heaven? How could he be happy in heaven, were he to go there? He has no sympathy with God, no delight in his will, he would be alone in heaven; the holiness of that pure place, how could it receive him, or be congenial with his selfishness?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1843 paragraph 789 761 Lecture XV. The Benevolence of God ...

22. If "God is love," it follows that He abhors whatever is inconsistent with the highest good of being. He of course abhors all sin, and all sinners, and is opposed to all the selfishness in the universe, and to whatever is forbidden by his law. If He is benevolent, He is manifestly sincere when He commands his subjects to be holy; and He commands this, with all his heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. As a necessity of his character, He is better pleased with holiness than with sin.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1844 paragraph 22 12 Lecture I. Hardness of Heart ...

The above, and many other texts which might be advanced, show that hardness of heart is a voluntary state of mind. If it is a voluntary state, it must be the will in a state of choice--a will committed, for the time being, to some form of selfishness. The term hardness is appropriately used, because when the heart is in this state, it is stubborn, and will not yield to the truth, and prevents the intelligence and sensibility from perceiving, and being duly impressed by the truth. But I must pass rapidly on and show,

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1844 paragraph 25 12 Lecture I. Hardness of Heart ...

3. When the heart is hard, we do not consider the truth as we otherwise would. This must of necessity be true; for if the will is given up to the indulgence of any form of selfishness, of course it cannot pay a calm and dispassionate attention to the truth. Such a thing would be an impossibility, and could never be. Suppose for instance, that the mind is committed to money-making for selfish purposes; of course, all the feelings will drift in that direction, and it would be absurd to say, that while such is the case--while the will is committed, the intelligence can give serious and candid attention to the great truths of religion.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1844 paragraph 101 61 Lectures II. & III.The Eyes Opened to the Law of God- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

8. We must give up those pursuits, that reading, those objects, which divert our attention, and prevent us from giving our whole souls to the Bible. While our minds are drawn off from the Bible by other things, while we are interested in those authors whose spirit is as directly opposite to that of the Bible as heaven is to hell, how can we hope to have the enlightenment of the Spirit? There is a class of writings, which, in their influence, make the soul totally blind to the glories of the Scriptures&emdash;it cannot receive them in such a state of mind. If you give yourself to search for the spirit of Byron, that spirit will come upon you with little effort on your part. It is so congenial to the heart in its selfishness and passion, it will fall upon you without being prayed for. But the Spirit of God will never enlighten you, never. I believe it to be an unalterable condition of communion with the Spirit, that the mind must be broken off from communion with such corrupt and corrupting authors. You must break loose from them, or you will never enjoy the sweet light of God's Spirit.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1844 paragraph 216 208 Lecture VI. Blessed are the Poor in Spirit ...

2. Being poor in spirit implies that we see in its true light the tendency in us to every thing evil--that we understand that the habitudes of our minds, that our appetites and propensities, that nearly the whole power of the sensibility continually tends to selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 91 81 Lecture II. Governing the Tongue ...

3. The Scriptures recognize this truth. "But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." Idle words in the sense of this text are useless words, words not spoken to edification, nor with a design to glorify God and benefit man. Some commentators over-looking the rule by which the tongue is to be governed, have supposed by idle words in this passage, are meant slanderous, or false, or censorious, or bitter words. But the language is plain, and should be understood in its plain natural sense; for then and only then does it come up to the manifest rule by which the tongue is to be governed. That the tongue is to be governed by the rule of universal love, or entire consecration to God, none can rationally doubt. All words then spoken for any other end than to promote the good of being are idle words, and are sin against God. To bridle the tongue then is to so check and rein it in, and control it, as that its use shall be wholly conformed to the law of God.

II. The conditions upon which it may be governed.

1. The first condition indispensable to the government of the tongue in accordance with the rule as above stated, is perfect love in the heart, or in other words, that the will should be in a benevolent attitude--that the glory of God and the good of being should be its supreme aim, design, or choice. I have said that the tongue is governed by the will, by a law of necessity. The will is free, but the tongue is not free. It is connected by a physical or necessary law, with the action of the will. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth not only does but must speak, if it speaks at all. All our physical powers so far as they are directly under our control at all, are connected with the action of the will, by a law of necessity. At the bidding of the will they move, or cease to move. Now where there is perfect benevolence of heart, no power that is under the control of the will can be used in any other than a benevolent manner. When the heart is in the attitude of supreme, disinterested benevolence, the tongue is used and cannot but be used for the glory of God and the good of being. But if this be not the state of the heart, the tongue cannot be used benevolently. All use of the tongue is idle and sinful when the heart is not in a benevolent state. No matter how much the tongue might edify men or glorify God, its use is an idle use so far as the speaker is concerned, if his aim be not benevolent. A man might teach mathematics, philosophy, or theology with a selfish heart, in which case the use of his tongue is sin, because his intention is sin. It is not conformed to the law of love, but is under the influence of selfishness. If God overrules this selfish use of the tongue to promote His won glory, no thanks to him who thus uses his tongue, for he means no such thing. His object is to glorify himself, to get a good name or a piece of bread. It should always be understood that any use of the tongue is sinful when the heart is not in a perfectly benevolent state.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 185 170 Lecture IV. Weights and Besetting Sins ...

The first condition mentioned in the text is, that we lay aside every weight. This race or conflict is mental, not physical; it belongs to the mind and not to the body. We inquire therefore what is to be regarded as a weight or unnecessary encumbrance in running this race; I answer,

1. All unnecessary business. By this I mean any kind or degree of business to which we are not manifestly called by the providence of God. Any business in kind or amount to which we are manifestly called by the providence of God, and to which we attend with a single eye to His glory, is not inconsistent with our running the race, is not to be regarded as a weight, but as a part of our business and duty as Christians, and therefore as part of the race itself. But when a man engages in any business, however great or small, to which he is not thus called, he then takes an unnecessary burden upon himself. It is a dead weight upon him--nay, he cannot run at all with this business upon him because it is selfishness, and he has already apostatized from God and gone over to the serving of himself.

He has no right to do, say, or be anything more or less than that to which God calls him. If he undertakes any selfish business, or takes any more or less upon him than duty to God requires, he is then out of God's service, and consequently can no more win in this race, than a man could win in the Olympic games if he ran right the other way, instead of running towards the goal. Let it be forever remembered that for a man to undertake any business in kind or amount which according to his best judgment is not for the glory of God and is not designed for His glory, is actual apostasy from God, and is a weight that must be laid aside or the soul cannot be saved.

2. Whatever draws unnecessarily upon our time is a weight that must be laid aside. All our time is God's; all to be consecrated to Him. Whatever is suffered to occupy a day, an hour, or even a moment of our time that is not demanded by our duty to God, is a weight that just so far hinders our progress in the Christian race. Suppose a racer in the Olympian games should suffer himself to be hindered by the compliments of the spectators; suppose he should stop to receive and return the salutations of his friends and acquaintance as he passed along; and thus lose time and distance instead of tasking his powers every moment--could he win the race? Now it should be forever understood that whenever a man suffers his time to run to waste, or to be desecrated from the service of God--whenever he suffers his time to be occupied with any other than God's business, he then takes upon himself a weight that must be laid aside, or he will never win the race.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 190 170 Lecture IV. Weights and Besetting Sins ...

10. Fashion is another weight that must be laid aside. What a multitude are busy a great part of their time, as the different seasons follow each other in rapid succession and as the ever fluctuating fashions are introduced, in altering their dresses, making changes, getting new ones and disposing of old ones, running here and there shopping, conversing about the newest fashions, the most tasteful colors, the best milliners, and mantua-makers and tailors, and all the world of gossip and folly which engages the world of fashionables. Who can run the Christian race with a mind filled with such things as these? Who does not perceive at once that persons thus engaged are not consecrated to God? God has never called them to this service and these engrossments. This is selfishness and must ruin the soul. And it is impossible ever to win a crown of glory by living such a life as this.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 196 170 Lecture IV. Weights and Besetting Sins ...

3. Covetousness is another easily besetting sin. This is selfishness in a peculiar form. Some persons seem to lust after or to covet every thing they see, especially every thing that is a little superior to what they have themselves. A horse, a carriage, a farm, a house, a dress, or anything which exceeds their own things, they covet; little realizing that this is an easily besetting sin. Now all these desires indulged, are entirely inconsistent with running the Christian race. And whoever will notice the operations of his own mind, will find they always destroy his peace of mind, and communion with God. And whenever men indulge the wish of having this, or that, or the other thing, to the possession of which God does not call them, they are always out of the way, and should thrust such temptations entirely aside, or they can never run the Christian race.

Some persons seem never to be satisfied with what they have, but are always lusting after more and better things, just as long as any of their acquaintances have them. As the scripture says, "They enlarge their desire as hell." Now God often gives them their desire, but sends leanness into their souls. Have you never observed this, that when you have set your heart very much on having something which you did not possess, when you get it, it is a snare to your soul, engrosses your thoughts and time, and leads you away from God?

4. Another easily besetting sin is avarice. Avarice is a disposition to hoard up property. Some persons are so much disposed to this sin, that an opportunity to make a good bargain, a speculation, is a great temptation to them. There is a constant tendency in their minds to selfishness in this form. But this must be restrained and put away, or we shall never get to heaven.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 200 170 Lecture IV. Weights and Besetting Sins ...

8. Unfaithfulness in business is another easily besetting sin of many persons. They are not faithful to God in their own business, and never pay that sacred regard to it which their duty to God requires. They do not seem to understand that they are the clerks and agents of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that He expects in them the most entire promptness and faithfulness. They are exceedingly loose, and reckless, and inattentive to business. If they are employed by others as clerks, agents, or laborers, either within doors or without, they are eye-servants, feeling little or no responsibility, attending to nothing only for the sake of wages. They are thus exceedingly unfaithful to their employers and to God, and never can get to heaven with such a state of mind as this. It is sheer selfishness and injustice, and anything but religion.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 211 170 Lecture IV. Weights and Besetting Sins ...

19. All fleshly indulgences are sins, and with most persons easily besetting sins. We are required to make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof. Whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, we are to do all to the glory of God, and not for the sake of gratifying our appetites and passions. Self-indulgence is always selfishness and always sin. The spirit of self seeking, and self-indulgence must be put away, and whatever we do must be done from a higher motive than to please and gratify ourselves.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 220 170 Lecture IV. Weights and Besetting Sins ...

4. You see the importance of counting the cost. It will cost you much to be truly religious. You can obtain a hope. You can pass for a Christian. You can gain a reputation with a worldly church, of being a disciple of Christ. But mark well what I say and what Christ says, except a man forsake all that he hath, he cannot be a disciple of Christ's. Selfishness under every form and in every degree must be cut up root and branch and put away entirely and forever, or you will make shipwreck of your soul.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 392 383 Lecture IX. The Old Man and The New ...

Mental activity is first developed through our connection with a physical body. The new-born infant has constitutional wants; its appetites demand gratification; and its mind is thus first aroused to exercise. Here human nature begins to develop mental activity. We would not be understood to imply that this first action of the infant is sinful; it manifestly is not unless the intelligence is so far developed as to take cognizance of right and wrong;--the Bible every where assuming that some knowledge of obligation must be present, or sin cannot be. All that we can say now on this point is that our earliest mental activity is prompted by our connection with the body; and that the constitutional demands of the body lead to indulgence which, though not sinful before any knowledge of duty exists, yet becomes the main-spring of foul selfishness when this knowledge is developed and in the very face of it we prefer to please ourselves rather than God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 393 383 Lecture IX. The Old Man and The New ...

Another source of mental activity is the Spirit of God. We do not mean by this that the Spirit is a necessary cause of mental action, in such a sense that the mind under the Spirit's influence acts of necessity and not freely; we only mean that the Spirit excites to action, and is the occasion of such action as would not take place without the Spirit. Thus the Bible represents God as working in us to will and to do, and Christians as walking with the Spirit, or after the Spirit and not after the flesh. The Spirit begets a peculiar kind of action, the very opposite of that produced by the workings of selfishness.

2. The old or first man, is the carnal mind, or principle of selfishness. It begins with caring for the flesh even before its action can have any moral character, and continues to care for the flesh ever after. Hence it is called a carnal mind, or a minding of the flesh. Its characteristic feature is that its own gratification is its supreme end.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 400 383 Lecture IX. The Old Man and The New ...

It should be observed that these physical appetites are not necessarily the source of our activity. We may act from love and obedience to God, these appetites still existing within us; for we may indulge them only because we rightly conclude that this will please God, and only so far as this seems to be the case.

4. Putting off the old, and putting on the new man, implies entire consecration to God. It is equivalent to putting away all selfishness, and acting only and alone from real benevolence; renouncing the dominion of the flesh, and submitting to the dominion of the Spirit. This, of course, is entire consecration to God. There is no middle or third state. He who puts off the old man must put on the new man; for the mind will have some spring of action, some ultimate end to gain, some prime source of its activity. It must therefore turn from one of these to the other. In fact the mind never puts off the old man except that it may put on the new. We never really renounce self except when the Spirit draws us to choose God as our supreme portion.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 405 383 Lecture IX. The Old Man and The New ...

9. Selfishness is put away and Christ put on in all things. This is the very essence of the Apostle's meaning. The new man put on, is the yoke of Christ taken, the Spirit of Christ imbibed and acted out; the law of love, supreme to God, and impartial to man, becomes supreme; a spirit of self sacrifice ensues, and the individual no longer asks what will gratify me, but what will please God. Now he puts on Christ, and grows up into Him in all things, studying continually to conform every thought and act to the great law of his being--imitation of Christ and obedience to His will.

IV. We are to notice several mistakes into which persons are wont to fall.

1. They try to reform the old man, not considering that he admits of no reform to any purpose. Just consider what the old man is--namely, a supreme intention to please self; and you will see at once that this intention can admit of no reform for the better. You may change its direction from one form of selfish indulgence to another, but such reform as this, though very common, is yet perfectly useless, for it leaves the heart as completely enslaved to sin as before. Thus, often men change the form of their selfishness without in the least changing its moral quality. A man removing from a community where one form of selfish indulgence is popular, to another where it is unpopular, will probably adapt himself to his new circumstances, and pursue the most productive form of selfish gratification. Why not? Selfish happiness is his object; why shall he not make the most he can of it, and pursue it in the most hopeful way? This change may seem to him perhaps to be conversion, especially if he substitutes a more refined for a grosser form of selfishness; a form on which moral and Christian society frown, for one on which they smile. Yet in this very change he may be more thoroughly selfish than ever before; with this additional mischief that he is now deceiving himself, and blinding his eyes for the fatal plunge into perdition. All he has done, is just an attempt to reform the old man. It is no real reformation. He may put on a new face--it is only a mask; a new coat, a Sunday suit, but this changes not the hidden man of the heart.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 411 383 Lecture IX. The Old Man and The New ...

8. Often men mistake the impatience of the old man for the holy jealousy of the new man. The old man frets at sinners because they sin, fells indignant at such horrible wrong-doing; but point out to him his own sins, and press his conscience to repent and confess, and O! he does not think that wrong under his circumstances; he has nothing particular to confess. His heart is not quite so indignant against sin in himself as against sin in others. In his own case he sees various extenuating circumstances which more than alter, which quite reverse the case. Thus he reveals himself.

Yet he often takes credit to himself for holy indignation against sin. The real Christian feels a holy indignation; Christ felt it and often could not repress it; yet it was a holy jealousy for the honor of God, and not a fitful irritation against wrong doing because it might injure some of his own interests, or because it offended against his virtuous principles.

9. Often men fail to distinguish between the selfish sorrow of the old man and the godly sorrow of the new.

The new man remembers his former sins with great sorrow; his soul is weighed down within him and often his tears gush out in the very streets as he is reminded of his past deeds of shame and guilt; but not so the old man. He has a sort of sorrow for his old sins, especially if they have affected his reputation. But you do not see him loathing himself in his own sight for all his secret abominations. Yet he counts his own tears for sin, and things he has the sorrows of the real penitent.

10. Many mistake the selfish joys of the old man for the spiritual joys of the new man. The former however begin and end in selfishness; the man is pleased when good comes to himself, that is all. The latter rejoices in God, yea in God, his exceeding joy. He is happy when others get good, though himself has none.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 418 383 Lecture IX. The Old Man and The New ...

Some years since, my mind was greatly exercised on this point. Almost every waking moment the question would press upon me--Why am I doing this and why that? This led me to settle in my mind a thousand points of difficulty, and thus became of great service to my soul. How can we labor together with the Spirit of God in our own sanctification, unless we get hold of the real distinctions between holy consecration, and refined selfishness?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 424 383 Lecture IX. The Old Man and The New ...

This leads me to say that a spiritual man is exceedingly jealous of the old man. He will always be watching his old enemy, and will never trust him at all. Yet, alas, even the spiritual are sometimes deceived by the old man and are lured into a selfish state before they are fully aware of it. But when they come to see it, O, how they loath the abomination! I have known persons so deeply disgusted with themselves for their own selfishness as actually to vomit. O, how horrid and how loathsome! That young man goes out to preach. He has prepared his sermon. But when he was studying it out and making it up, something whispered--"Now get in some choice and splendid paragraphs--this very classical and elegant expression, that fine philosophical illustration--show the people that you are a scholar and a genius." Well, he has made up his sermon and goes to the pulpit--spouts it off--takes good care to make a good impression for himself; at length returns to his home and his closet; there the truth flashes upon him--serving myself--serving myself--none else but self--not Christ, but my own great self! O! how he loathes this abomination! He is disgusted, and turns away from himself as if he had met the very devil! He is ready to vomit or even spit in his own face! O, young man, that is a bad business--such letting up of self--such a resurrection of the old man in your heart. Beware!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 425 383 Lecture IX. The Old Man and The New ...

The converted man falls into selfishness, but let him see it, and how he loathes it! Horrible! Detestable! He would fain spue his very self out of his own soul!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 427 383 Lecture IX. The Old Man and The New ...

Beloved, how is this with you? Does the religion you possess make you new creatures in Christ Jesus, or does it leave your old selfishness still reigning, only somewhat dressed over perhaps, and fitted out sometimes in a Sunday suit; how is this? O, there is nothing that so perils the souls of men in this Christian land and in this passing age, as a refining the manners, and polishing the exterior of the old man, till he shall pass for that new man which is truly born of God, and molded into His divine image!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 439 429 Lecture X. Coming Up through Great Tribulation ...

2. Another form is that of Satanic temptation. The true children of God must always expect to be tempted by Satan. He has small cause to tempt the wicked; generally he can lead them captive at his will with little trouble, so great is their selfishness and so controlling their constitutional tendency to self-indulgence; but let them attempt to break quite away from his grasp and they must expect a fierce and frightful struggle. Real saints always have conflicts with Satan, and especially when they are about to snap the last bond of his that holds them. Satan growls hideously when he sees them about to ascend the table land of promise beyond his control. At this point they should look for a fierce struggle.

Again, saints often suffer much from spiritual desertion. Saints in all ages have had seasons of spiritual desertion in which the light of God's countenance has been withdrawn. I do not mean that in these cases God abandons them so as not to be in them and with them, and so as not to be indeed a Father to them, seeking ever their best good. I only mean that for the best of reasons He hides His face, and leaves them to grope awhile in darkness and great agony. Some of the bitterest scenes of anguish I ever saw have occurred in such cases. One man I knew intimately who had lived for some time in unclouded communion with God, often enjoying visions of divine glory most enrapturing, but for some just cause God withdrew this light of His face, and His deserted child wailed and groaned in agony. He fell to the floor and rolled in anguish, refusing to be comforted. No physician ever saw a patient suffer more, or seem in keener pain.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 490 476 Lecture XI. Delighting in the Lord ...

8. Delight in God implies, a deep interest in his honor and glory. Everything we do and say will have reference to God. God will be the supreme end of all we say and do. In this we shall sympathize with God himself. God has a supreme regard to his own interest and glory, and is the chief end of all his works. This is by no means selfishness in God. It is not because it is his own glory, but because it is infinitely the greatest good, that he has a supreme regard to it. God's well-being is of infinitely more value than the aggregate of the well-being of all creatures that ever were or could be made. God's well-being is infinite. Whereas the well-being of all creatures will always be finite. Nothing can be infinite that is not eternally and necessarily so. Nothing finite can ever grow and increase until it becomes infinite. Therefore the aggregate well-being of all finite creatures, must always be finite and of course infinitely less than the well-being of God. Now if God would regard things according to their relative value he must of necessity lay infinitely more stress upon his own happiness and glory than upon the happiness and glory of all other beings together. There is no comparison between the finite and the infinite, and therefore the aggregate value of the endless happiness of all creatures is absolutely as nothing when put into the scale against the well-being of God. God so regards this; and it is reasonable and right and infinitely important that he should. Consequently himself, his own glory, and his well-being, are the supreme end of all his works. When I saw this fact announced in Pres. Edwards' writings many years since, I did not at once perceive its truthfulness. And I have often since heard persons speak as if they were stumbled by such announcements as if it implied selfishness in God. Now selfishness is preferring our own interests to our neighbors, simply because it is our own. It is not selfish in us to prefer our happiness to the happiness of a goose, because ours is really more valuable. But it is selfish in us to prefer our happiness to our neighbor's, when his is equally valuable with our own. I repeat it again; it is not because the happiness or glory is God's that his heart is set supremely on it, but because of its intrinsic value, because it is so infinitely the greater good. Now delight in God implies that we regard this as he does, so far as we understand it; that we sympathize with him in this; that we regard his interests as the supreme and infinite good, and delight ourselves in promoting his glory and honor in the universe; that we find our supreme happiness and satisfaction of soul in this.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 493 476 Lecture XI. Delighting in the Lord ...

III. Why this promise is thus conditioned.

1. Because without this condition the promise would be unsafe to the universe. For God to promise unqualifiedly to give us the desire of our heart, unless he knew that we had a complete sympathy with him, would be unreasonable, unsafe, and what he could not innocently do. What would it amount to for him to make such a promise without this condition? Why to this--that our selfish desires should be granted. But when selfishness is slain, when our supreme desire is on God, and our whole soul sympathizes deeply with him, it is plain that our desires may be granted. It is then both consistent with the will of God, and with the highest good of being to grant our desires. God is then the great end and center of the desires of the soul, and in giving himself to the soul, he gratifies its desires.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 556 520 Lecture XII. Having a Good Conscience ...

2. Such persons are often annoying and harassing their neighbors exceedingly. Their own selfishness seems to have blinded their own eyes so much that they can see no other selfishness but their neighbors, they never see their own, even though it may be so prominent, and so glaring as to amaze the whole neighborhood. It sometimes seems as if such persons would not scruple a moment to bring the small-pox into a neighborhood if it might in some perceptible degree subserve their own interests. The inquiry about the interests of others, either does not strike their mind at all, or if it does, it awakens not the least solicitude. What a conscience this!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 777 748 Lecture XVI. Faith in its Relations to the Love of God ...

Around this point, there hangs in the views of many minds an unaccountable darkness. They do not see the very thing, to pardon and remove which they need Christ. They are feeling about after some particular sins, lying, perhaps, or theft, or Sabbath-breaking, from which they suppose they need Christ to save them. Yet, what are all these, and all such sins, but the mere bubbling up of a certain state of mind--a little of the overflowing water from that deep and vast ocean of iniquity which spreads itself all over their inner moral being? It is this state of mind--this deep sink of iniquity, the rooted selfishness in which you have accustomed yourself to live and move and have your being--this it is from which you need to be saved. This is the great thing which needs to be set right. Do you understand this? What is it that you need when your heart sighs within you for peace, and you look to religion for help? What do you need? This only--to have your disposition to sin taken away, and in its place, a disposition to serve and please God. When you come to see yourself as you are in all your relations to God and duty, you will see that your own state of mind is the very thing you need to be saved from. You will see that this is really more terrible, and more to be feared than all the devils in hell. You need not fear the mightiest devils if your own state of mind is not radically wrong.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 782 748 Lecture XVI. Faith in its Relations to the Love of God ...

Such a gospel meets human want and affords an adequate remedy for human selfishness. It presents tangible points of blessed truth upon which a guilty, despairing sinner may take hold.

5. An apprehension of the nature as well as degree of this love is essential to, and is implied in real faith. The mind must clearly see that this love of God to us is not complacency, but compassionate benevolence.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1845 paragraph 809 748 Lecture XVI. Faith in its Relations to the Love of God ...

11. There is no danger that this view of the love of God should make men hard-hearted, stupid and reckless. Nothing else has such power as this to soften and melt the hearts of men. Nothing else can be compared with this to subdue rebellion; transform selfishness to benevolence, and regenerate the polluted soul into the image of God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1846 paragraph 53 19 Lecture I. The Nature of Impenitence and the Measure of Its Guilt ...

There are probably in this place, nay even under the sound of my voice, persons more guilty than any pirates in the universe--more monstrously wicked than the pirate Gibbs, who boasted that he had murdered so many men. The selfishness of Gibbs took one particular form; the selfishness of gospel-hardened sinners here, a different form; different, but not a whit less hostile to God, or less odious in His sight, or less really depraved and worthy of eternal condemnation. The blackest malignity as estimated by God belongs to that form of selfishness which has resisted and still resists most light.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1846 paragraph 82 65 Lecture II. The Rule by Which the Guilt of Sin is Estimated ...

8. But it is time I should state, positively, that guilt is always to be estimated by the degree of light under which the sinful intention is formed, or in other words, it is to be measured by the mind's knowledge or perception of the value of that end which the law requires to be chosen. This end is the highest well being of God and of the universe. This is of infinite value; and in some sense every moral agent must know it to be of infinite value, and yet individuals may differ indefinitely in respect to the degree of clearness with which this great end is apprehended by the mind. Choosing this end--the highest well-being of God and of the universe always implies the rejection of self-interest as an end; and on the other hand, the choice of self-interest or self-gratification as an end always and necessarily implies the rejection of the highest well-being of God and of the universe as an end. The choice of either implies the rejection of its opposite.

Now the sinfulness of a selfish choice consists not merely in its choice of good to self, but in its implying a rejection of the highest well-being of God and of the universe as a supreme and ultimate end. If selfishness did not imply the apprehension and rejection of other and higher interests as an end, it would not imply any guilt at all. The value of the interests rejected is that in which the guilt consists. In other words the guilt consists in rejecting the infinitely valuable well-being of God and of the universe for the sake of selfish gratification.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1846 paragraph 194 133 Lecture III. On Divine Manifestations ...

This is the history of their case. They learn from the Bible that God promises manifestations; from merely selfish motives they seek this blessing; and God answers them according to their seeking and his promise. They set up the idol of their own selfishness in their hearts, and seeking God thus, He answers them according to their idols as He has said he would. The Lord suffers Satan to deceive them. No wonder they are exceedingly positive and as bitter as they are positive. The hand of Satan is in all this. How else can you account for their state?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1846 paragraph 423 396 Lecture VII. On Becoming Acquainted With God ...

Another condition is the giving up of all selfishness and of the self-seeking spirit. This is most essential to success. All selfish ends must be abandoned. If we are bent on sustaining our own interests, we certainly cannot know God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1846 paragraph 424 396 Lecture VII. On Becoming Acquainted With God ...

I have recently been very much struck with hearing an individual relate his own Christian experience. His case showed how truth seemed crowding its way into his mind, and how time after time its entrance was resisted and prevented by his selfishness. It seemed for a long time impossible for him to know God, and the reason was nothing else than this--selfishness was deeply rooted in his heart, and while there, the truth concerning God could get no admission. Sometimes, he came almost up to the very gate which, once opened, would introduce him to God; then his bounding heart would say, "Now I shall know God, and I shall be a great man--a distinguished Christian"--and lo, down he goes again--farther from God than ever. So time after time he was thrown all aback by such developments of selfishness and self-seeking.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1846 paragraph 426 396 Lecture VII. On Becoming Acquainted With God ...

Selfishness takes on so many forms and is so subtle that many persons entirely fail to detect its workings. Hence, impeded by this fatal hindrance--they are never able to come to the knowledge of God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1846 paragraph 482 396 Lecture VII. On Becoming Acquainted With God ...

5. A selfish mind cannot be properly acquainted with God. Experience seems to show that where selfishness takes on certain peculiar forms, it effectually precludes all right knowledge of God. Ambition and avarice seem to be its worst and most fatal forms. Ambition--O what a curse to the soul! If the ambitious man sets about seeking his own salvation, his aim is to make himself great or to enhance his reputation. Seeking it with such a motive, God will of course repel his proud heart away from His own mercy-seat. If the ambitious man seeks more piety--supposing him to be a Christian--still he is prone to let his ambition work in even here, and his object will be to gain distinction. Oh, how such a soul will be blighted by its own selfishness!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1846 paragraph 483 396 Lecture VII. On Becoming Acquainted With God ...

No better is the case of the avaricious man. His selfishness is wont to assume such power as utterly to exclude all right knowledge of God. See the case of Judas. He could attend the personal preaching of Christ for three years, and yet never have so much as the crust of his selfishness broken through. Alas, Judas was a thief and carried the bag. His heart was wholly in that bag, and the thought of making something for himself was ever present, and no matter how sacred his employment, nothing could be so sacred as to save it from being perverted by his sordid heart. If he had been building a meeting house, he would contrive if he could to make some speculation out of it. Ask such a man now to do something for the Institution here and he would try to make it turn in some way to his own personal advantage. Self, you may be sure, will somehow be cared for--else what good will his life do him? His reigning disposition is--"I might as well not live as live and get no good to myself."

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1846 paragraph 484 396 Lecture VII. On Becoming Acquainted With God ...

Now where these and similar forms of selfishness exist, it seems utterly impossible that men should become acquainted with God. The mighty currents of their heart drift them forever away from God and they cannot serve God and Mammon if they try ever so earnestly. If they would give up their selfishness--forsake their idol Mammon, they might then seek God and find Him when they should seek Him with all their heart.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1846 paragraph 642 633 Lecture X. The Blessedness of Enduring Temptation ...

To tempt is to try; to subject one to trial. Now sin consists in self-seeking, self-indulgence. Whatever, therefore, tends to selfishness, and draws the mind to self-seeking, is temptation, and is more or less strong according as this tendency is more or less strong towards self-indulgence.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1846 paragraph 662 633 Lecture X. The Blessedness of Enduring Temptation ...

Again, temptations are naturally incidental to our present state. They spring up from our very constitution, and from the relations we sustain to the world we live in. Indeed we might say, they spring out of our moral being, and that no moral being can exist in circumstances where he can find sources of happiness without being exposed to have those very sources of happiness become temptations to selfishness. We have reason to believe that there is no world where moral being may not be thus tempted.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1846 paragraph 669 633 Lecture X. The Blessedness of Enduring Temptation ...

The more I have thought of it the more I have been astonished that any class of men who ever think at all on moral subjects can ever tend towards infidelity. What! reject the religion of the Bible and then talk of salvation? The man knows not what he is talking about. He knows no more about the subject and no more understands what he says than the veriest maniac! For, what is salvation? What is eternal life? Only let the individual press the question--what is this thing about which I am talking? And he will see that he must become just what the Bible represents men as becoming before they can be saved. He will see that it is in the nature of the case impossible that any man should be saved from misery to happiness unless he be changed from selfishness to benevolence.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1846 paragraph 748 705 Lecture XI. Quenching the Spirit ...

11. The Spirit is often quenched by indulging in dishonesty. Men engaged in business will take little advantages in buying and selling. Sometimes they are powerfully convinced of the great selfishness of this, and see that this is by no means loving their neighbor as themselves. It may happen that a man, about to drive a good bargain will raise the question--is this right?--will balance it long in his mind--will say--"now this neighbor of mine needs this article very much, and will suffer if he does not get it; this will give me a grand chance to put on a price;--but then would this be doing as I would be done by?" He looks and thinks--he sees duty but finally decides in favor of his selfishness. Eternity alone will disclose the consequences of such a decision. When the Spirit of God has followed such persons a long time--has made them see their danger--has kept the truth before them, and finally, seizing the favorable moment, makes a last effort and this proves unavailing--the die is cast--thereafter all restraints are gone and the selfish man abandoned of God, goes on worse and worse, to state's prison perhaps, and certainly to hell!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1847 paragraph 48 10 Lectures I. & II.All Things for Good to Those that Love God-- and All Events Ruinous to the Sinner- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

Hence it does not follow that we should do evil that good may come. In fact, it is in the nature of the case impossible that a man should do evil for the sake of its resulting good. It is impossible that a man should sin for the sake of doing good thereby, and with this design. Suppose a man to say--let me sin on now for this is the way to do good! Pause a moment and ask--What is sin? Surely it is not doing anything with the design of bringing about good; no but, sin is mere selfishness--is always a trampling down of the greater good for the sake of a far less good for myself. Sin, therefore, never can have the greatest good for its object. Every act that has the greatest good for its design, object or motive, is holiness, not sin.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1847 paragraph 389 198 Lectures V. & VI. & VII.Conditions of Prevailing Prayer- No.'s 1 & 2 & 3 ...

(2.) You can not help seeing this at your first glance at the subject. Your prayer must not be selfish but benevolent--else how can God hear it? Will he lend himself to patronize and befriend your selfishness?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1848 paragraph 18 13 Lecture I. Refuges of Lies ...

The class of persons spoken of here enjoyed great religious privileges. The word of the Lord came to them, "precept upon precept," and they had most abundant means of knowing its revealed truths and enjoined duties. But they did not love these truths and would not do these duties. Consequently, restive under the unwelcome pressure of truth upon their consciences, they sought relief under some refuge of lies. It will be my present object to notice some of the many refuges of lies to which men are wont to resort when their consciences are ill at ease.

1. A selfish religion. This is one of the most common delusions among men. In this case selfishness, instead of seeking worldly good alone, elevates its aim and seeks heaven. Selfishness is usually distinguished for its grasping some earthly good, in a spirit of reckless disregard alike of others' rights and interests, and of the known will of God. But it is not the character of the good it seeks which makes it selfishness; but rather the spirit with which the good is sought.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1848 paragraph 240 221 Lecture IV. Conditions of Being Saved ...

It is amazing that men should hope to be sanctified and saved by this great error, or indeed by any error whatever. God says you must be sanctified by the truth. Suppose you could believe this delusion, would it make you holy? Do you believe that it would make you humble, heavenly-minded, sin-hating, benevolent? Can you believe any such thing? Be assured that Satan is only the father of lies, and he cannot save you--in fact, he would not if he could; he intends his lies not to save you, but to destroy your very soul, and nothing could be more adapted to its purpose. Lies are only the natural poison of the soul. You take them at your peril!

8. Don't seek for any self-indulgent method of salvation. The great effort among sinners has always been to be saved in some way of self-indulgence. They are slow to admit that self-denial is indispensable--that total, unqualified self-denial is the condition of being saved. I warn you against supposing that you can be saved in some easy, self-pleasing way. Men ought to know, and always assume that it is naturally indispensable for selfishness to be utterly put away and its demands resisted and put down.

I often ask--Does the system of salvation which I preach so perfectly chime with the intuitions of my reason that I know from within myself that this gospel is the thing I need? Does it in all its parts and relations meet the demands of my intelligence? Are its requisitions obviously just and right? Do its prescribed conditions of salvation obviously befit man's moral position before God, and his moral relations to the government of God?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1848 paragraph 397 354 Lecture VI. Pride of Heart Deceives ...

Now let it be known forever, all real Christians have the spirit of religion in their hearts--their souls are full of it. Worldly men are full of the world, and no wonder that it boils over and flows out incessantly. Christ says--"Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks;" and who does not know that this is profoundly philosophical? Of course this principle will be developed in the Christian. The Spirit of Christ has taken possession of his soul, and now, how can it help gushing out in rich overflowings of love, meekness, faith and humility? Mark me now--as God is true--if this is not your character--if love does not reign in your heart, and fill your soul, so that religion must be your theme--nearer and dearer to your heart than all things else--if this be not the case with you, you are a hypocrite, and when your death-knell tolls, you are damned! Mark what I say!

8. Many think themselves Christians, although conscious that they have no peace of mind. What but a desperately wicked and deceitful heart can cherish such a hope? For what is religion? "Not meat and drink" surely; "but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost." What says the Bible? That "Wisdom's ways are pleasantness and all her paths peace." "Come unto Me all ye that labor, and ye shall find rest for your souls." "His commandments are not grievous."

Now look around you and mark those professed Christians whose religion involves no peace of mind. You see them all afloat--drifted and driven by all those impulses which agitate other minds. Where is their religion? Do they know anything about peace with God and joy in the Holy Ghost? Do they withdraw from the agitations of worldliness and selfishness, and find repose as on the bosom of their Savior? Have they such faith that they can glory in tribulation, and does their tribulation work for them experience, and experience hope; and is their hope one that does not make ashamed? Is this their experience? If so, then 'tis well; but how can men who go on year after year without peace of mind and without trust in God, flatter themselves that they are real Christians?

9. Many think they are accepted of God although aware that they are indulging in sin. This delusion is more common than any other I have mentioned, and becomes so for the reason that even the church have lost sight of the fact that Christians can and do live without sin. Strange to tell, multitudes of professed Christians--with ample access to the Bible--do hold that all men are to be expected to live in sin, notwithstanding all the gospel can do in this world to deliver them from its power.

Under this view, it is no wonder such results should follow. They expect, they say, to be saved through the imputed righteousness of Christ, and they hold that this will avail for them without any righteousness of their own. But let us reason a moment about this. I admit most fully that men are to be justified by Christ alone, and on the condition of personal faith in Him; but mark, not without personal holiness. Here lies the fundamental error of those who think to get to heaven without being free from sin; they assume that saving faith in Christ does not involve personal holiness. No mistake can be greater than this! The Bible says, "faith works by love." It declares "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." Of course there can be no such faith as this while the soul is in the bondage of sin.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 43 21 Lecture I. Mutual Confession of Faults, and Mutual Prayer ...

4. Confession is indispensable to peace and sympathy with all the just and good. While it is true that neither God nor the injured party can be at peace with the wrong-doer till he confess, the same is equally true of all holy beings. Their minds can not be in a peaceful and harmonious state towards me while they know that I am guilty of wrong-doing and will not confess. So long as they know me to be in this state they must regard me as a transgressor, and this must create an everlasting barrier between me and them. They may have no disposition to retaliate or injure me, but on the contrary they may be most earnest in prayer for me that God would humble me and break down my pride. Their position towards me may be no other than that of true benevolence; yet till I confess they can not be in Christian sympathy and friendship with me. The thing is naturally impossible.

The same is true of even the wicked. They can not be at peace with me till I confess my wrongs. It is remarkable that a wicked man as really condemns wrongdoing as a good man does, although he may do the very same thing himself. His moral decisions upon the right and the wrong may be just and truthful notwithstanding his own bad character. Let him have a case in which his own selfishness does not bribe his conscience and blind his intelligence, and he will decide that wrong is wrong, and ought to be confessed and put away. You can not therefore have the respect of even wicked men unless you will confess your known wrongs. Even the wickedest men or devils in hell can not be satisfied with your course as right till you confess. They might not love you if you were to become holy, but certainly they never can esteem you until you do--never till you confess and abandon all your known wrong-doings. They can never justify and approve your sins.

5. Confession of wrong is indispensable to self-respect. It is naturally impossible that you should respect yourself while you withhold proper confession of your sins. By the very laws of your moral nature this can never be. Who does not know this? If you do not know this, you certainly may know it. Surely you can get no good by resisting the claims of an enlightened conscience, for if all the universe should let you alone in your sin, your conscience would not and could not. Still its voice would ring in your ear, and you could not silence its upbraidings.

Have you not sometimes been ashamed of yourself because you were too proud to confess? This very shame of making confession has filled your soul with bitter agony and the keenest self-reproach and you have sometimes felt that it is a greater shame and a deeper guilt than the original wrong itself. Suppose you were to meet the very man whom you have wronged. The best opportunity is afforded to make the confession which you know to be due--but shame and pride seal your lips. Not a word of confession is lisped. You go away full of remorse and a sense of guilty shame, for you can scarcely help feeling that the last sin is worse than the first. As a physician under these circumstances once cried out--"O how full of hell I am!" So you perhaps are sometimes constrained to say. You know that this which you experience in your soul is an earnest of hell, for you are but too sure that you deserve the deepest, darkest place in the dwellings of the damned.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 86 74 Lecture II. God's Anger Against the Wicked ...

Those are righteous who have true faith in Christ, whose spirit is consecrated to God, who live a heavenly life on earth, and who have been renewed by the Holy Ghost. Their original selfishness is subdued and slain, and they live a new life through the ever present grace of Christ Jesus.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 87 74 Lecture II. God's Anger Against the Wicked ...

Right over against them in character are the wicked, who have not been renewed in heart--who live in selfishness, under the dominion of appetite in some of its forms, and it matters not in which out of all possible forms, it may be; but self is the great and only ultimate end of their life; these are in the scriptural sense, the wicked.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 94 74 Lecture II. God's Anger Against the Wicked ...

3. God's anger can not be in any sense a selfish anger; for God is not selfish in the least degree, but infinitely the reverse of it. Of course His anger against the wicked must be entirely devoid of selfishness.

In our attempts to conceive of the mental faculties of the divine mind, we are under a sort of necessity of reasoning analogically from our own minds. Revelation has told us that we are "made in the image of God." Of course the mind of God is the antetype from which ours was cast. The great constituent elements of mind we must suppose are therefore alike in both the infinite and the finite. As we have intellect, sensibility, and will, so has God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 103 74 Lecture II. God's Anger Against the Wicked ...

It is plain that the degree of God's anger against the wicked ought to be equal to the degree of their wickedness, and must be if God is what He should be. The times of heathen ignorance and darkness "God winked at"--the degree of their guilt being less by as much as their light is less than that of such cities as Chorazin and Bethsaida. God does not hold them innocent absolutely, but relatively they might almost be called innocent, compared with the great guilt of sinners in gospel lands. Against those who sin amid the clearest light, His anger must burn most intensely; for example, against sinners in this place and congregation. You may be outwardly a decent and moral man, respected and beloved by your friends; but if you are a selfish, impenitent sinner the pure and holy God loathes and abhors you. He sees more real guilt in you than in ten thousand of those dark-minded heathen who are bowing down to idol gods, and whose crimes you read of with loathing and disgust. Think of it. God may be more angry against you for your great wickedness than against a nation of idolaters whose ignorance He winks at, while He measures your light and consequent guilt in the balances of His own eternal justice. O are you living here amid the blazing sun-light of truth--knowing your duty every day and every day refusing to do it; do you not know that in the eye of God you are one of the wickedest beings out of hell, or in hell either, and that God's hatred against your sin is equal to your great guilt? But you say perhaps, Am I not moral and honest? Suppose you are moral. For whose sake are you moral, and for what reason? Is it not for your reputation's sake only? The devil might be as moral for such a purpose as you are. Mark, it is not for God's sake, not for Christ's sake, that you are a moral man, but because you love yourself. You might be just as moral if there were no God, or if you were an atheist. Of course if so, you are saying in your heart let there be no fear of God before my eyes--no love of God in my heart. Let me live and have my own way as if there were no God. And all this you do not under the darkness of heathenism, but amid the broadest sun-light of heaven's truth blazing all around you. Do you still ask, What have I done? You have arrayed yourself against God, rejected the gospel of His Son, and done despite to the Spirit of His grace. What heathen has ever done this, or anything that could compare with this in guilt? The vilest heathen people that ever wallowed in the filth of their own abominations are pure compared with you. Do you start back and rebel against this view of your case? Then let us ask again, By what rule are we to estimate guilt? You pass along the street and you see the lower animals doing what you would be horrified to see human beings do, but you never think of them as guilty. You see those dogs try to tear each other to pieces; you will try perhaps to part them, but you will not think of feeling moral indignation or moral displeasure against them; and why? Because you instinctively judge of their guilt by their light, and by their capacity of governing themselves by light and reason. On nearly the same principle you might see the heathen reeking in their abominations, quarreling, and practicing the most loathsome forms of vice and selfishness--but their guilt is only a glimmering taper compared with yours, and therefore you can not but estimate their guilt as by so much less than your own as their light is less! Your reason demands that you should estimate guilt on this principle, and you know that you can not rightly estimate it on any other. For the very same reason you must conclude that God estimates guilt on the same principles, and that His anger against sin is in proportion to the sinners' guilt, estimated in view of the light he enjoys and sins against. The degree of God's anger against the wicked is not measured by their outward conduct, but by their real guilt as seen by Him whose eye is on the heart.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 268 229 Lecture V. The Joy of God's Salvation ...

So it often happens that men want God to meet their selfishness; and when they find He does not, they have often a long struggle before they really humble themselves, so as to meet God on his own ground.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 278 229 Lecture V. The Joy of God's Salvation ...

Few things are a greater curse than a legal state of mind. It is often as bad as open wickedness, if not worse. Often it is such a misrepresentation of religion as makes the little children more afraid of such a religious man than of a fiend. Does he recommend religion? He could not possibly disparage and misrepresent it more than he does. Better far if he were never thought to be a Christian at all; for then his somber, morose and harsh spirit would be ascribed to its true cause--the unselfishness of his heart, and the utter absence of the gentle spirit of gospel love.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 333 321 Lecture VII. The Self-Hardening Sinner's Doom ...

Again, it often happens that men by means of their selfishness become involved in difficulty; perhaps by a selfish use of their property, or by a selfish indulgence of their tongues; and God springs His net upon them, and suddenly they are taken, and find themselves suddenly brought up to think of their ways, and to experience the mischiefs of their selfish schemes. How often do we see this! Men make haste to be rich, and start some grasping scheme of selfishness for this purpose; but God suddenly springs His net upon them--blasts their schemes, and sets them to thinking whether there be not a "God in heaven who minds the affairs of men."

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 335 321 Lecture VII. The Self-Hardening Sinner's Doom ...

As men have a thousand ways to develop their selfishness, so God has a thousand ways to head them back in their schemes and suggest forcibly to their minds that "this their way is their folly." In all such cases men ought to regard themselves as taken in the net of God's providence. God meets them in the narrow way of their selfishness, to talk with them about the vanity and folly of their course.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 337 321 Lecture VII. The Self-Hardening Sinner's Doom ...

Every obstacle which God in His providence interposes in your way of selfishness, is His reproof. You can regard it in no other light.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 387 369 Lecture VIII. The Death of Saints Precious ...

But let us now pass on to say,

1. That we often fail to regard the death of saints as precious, because of our own selfishness. The selfishness of surviving friends is so great that they do not look at the great glory and great gain of the departed saint. So much are they absorbed in their own loss, that they seem incapable of looking away to the glory of that dear child of God who has been permitted at last to go home. Of course this must be a very short-sighted view of things. How can we justify it to our minds that we should think only of our own interests, and not of the interests of our dear friends? Why should not their happiness be as dear to us as our own?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 416 401 Lecture IX. God Not Pleased with the Death of the Wicked ...

2. God has no pleasure in the sinner's death because He is a moral being, and it is contrary to the nature of moral beings to delight in suffering for its own sake. To all moral beings happiness is intrinsically good, and unhappiness is intrinsically evil, and must be from the very constitution of moral beings. Hence unhappiness can never be a source of pleasure, in itself considered. The view of it as endured by others cannot be deemed a good by any moral being, for its own sake, and considered simply as misery, for the reason that it is what it is -- misery, and not happiness -- the very constitution of a moral being demanding that happiness shall be held as the only good, and misery as intrinsically evil. Even Satan with all his malignity against God can never enjoy the sight any more than the endurance of misery, for its own sake. How much more must this be true of God! Selfishness may wickedly trample down the rights and happiness of others; but yet good to itself, and not misery to others, is its direct object. The consequent misery to others will in its time re-act upon selfish beings with terrible vengeance, harrowing up their souls with the bitterest torture. It is in the very nature of selfishness and sin to accumulate the resources for its own torment, just as benevolence accumulates the means of its own blessedness; and the reason in both cases lies fixed in the changeless nature of moral beings. The selfish cannot enjoy evil-doing let them try ever so much, for it is not in their nature as moral beings to enjoy misery. If it were, they might make a heaven of hell itself. But as it is, their selfish attempts to wrest away others' good will cause misery first to others, and next, ultimately and eternally, to themselves. Sin must be its own tormentor. Neither the sight nor the infliction of misery can ever in itself beget happiness. The nature of all moral beings forbids it.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 461 442 Lecture X. The Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of True Christianity ...

1. True Christians need no appeal to their selfishness or to their self-interest to secure their highest exertions. You need not urge them to deeds of charity that they may be seen by men; not implicate their good name in any way, and the reason is, they sympathize with Christ. They have a single eye to the same end which He sought. Hence they do not ask as many others do--"Who is the Lord, that we should obey His voice?" or "What profit shall we have" if we give anything for His cause? You need only place before them the good to be secured; and at once the joy springs up in their hearts, and they use most cheerfully the means to secure the good contemplated.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 464 442 Lecture X. The Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of True Christianity ...

4. It is so far from being true that sinners enjoy the good things of others, that in their selfishness they do not half enjoy their own. That sinner never has enough so long as he sees anything enjoyed by others which is not at his command. Haman may be next in honor to the great king, and yet a single Jew sitting at his gate, irreverent, may spoil his enjoyment. So with the selfish sinner always. If there is anything in the universe, not his own, he cannot be happy. Everything good which he sees must sustain a certain relation to himself, or he cannot be happy in view of it, but it rather excites his envy. O how he enlarges his desire as hell, and cannot be satisfied! All the good he sees beyond his reach is evil to him. He sees others enjoying it, and this spoils his own enjoyment of what he actually possesses. So restless is he, so anxious, so hungry, so thirsty after everybody else's happiness; so miserable because there are good things within his view which he cannot appropriate wholly to himself. Thus he is so far from enjoying other's good things, that the sight of their good, lying beyond his reach, effectually poisons his own. Poor wretched being! Who has such a tide of misery as he? If a benevolent God fills the world with happiness, this very fact dooms him to misery. How just and fitting that he should be wretched! He has chosen and cultivated the disposition which must make him so forever.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 484 442 Lecture X. The Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of True Christianity ...

By the very laws of mind, a man is never so much delighted with the disposal of his property as when it goes most directly to promote his most favorite object. He hates to bestow upon objects foreign to his heart's chief desire. Whenever, therefore, you see Christians giving grudgingly, you may know that selfishness is the law of their life. For all men, and of course Christians too, will naturally make most efforts to secure their chief object. Whatever stands highest in their esteem and regard will command the most of their efforts, and of their money. If they are selfish, they will think they cannot do better than to lay out their money for self. Hence you will see them constantly shaping all their plans to give little and keep much. Why, say they, should I not do this thing since it will be for my good? Instead of finding their highest satisfaction in giving, they find it in hoarding.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 485 442 Lecture X. The Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of True Christianity ...

Did you ever see a miser? If so, you have seen a man who grudged everything he gave unless the object were to secure property. I knew one in New York. He wore a buckskin coat for his only covering, and as this was never washed, he made an important saving of money on it. He seemed to grudge himself even his necessary food, and to find all the comfort he ever had in hoarding up money. So all-controlling did his passion become that he could starve himself for the sake of laying up the more money. Of course when this passion of money-hoarding is so terribly developed that men will pinch and wring everything they can out of themselves to put into their great iron chest, you need not expect them to be merciful, if they are even so much as just, towards their fellow men. O how terribly does that man curse both himself and his race who gives himself up to this form of selfishness!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 488 442 Lecture X. The Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of True Christianity ...

15. If men would be merely comfortable, they must abandon living for self. I need not say that none can enjoy selfishness. I say more. If men would not be positively unhappy they must cease to be selfish. Self is so utterly unreasonable in its demands, and makes you so wretched if all its demands are not met, there is no living in peace unless it is thoroughly kept under. No man, or woman either, ever yet satisfied self by indulgence. Like the horse-leach, it cries forever, Give, give; and might well have been numbered among the three and four things which never say--"It is enough." Consequently, persons only torture themselves and make their own happiness impossible by giving scope to their selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 492 442 Lecture X. The Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of True Christianity ...

18. Selfish persons may as well give up their selfishness first as last, for they cannot get good by it. Have you not seen plainly enough that it is of no use to be selfish; that if you gain anything, it is all of no use as to the matter of substantial enjoyment? If you should gain the whole world, it would be of no avail to you as a fund of enduring happiness. There can therefore be no real motive--no good motive for being selfish. Have you not often seen this so clearly as to be compelled to say--"I will never again act for self, for I may just as well not act at all, and better too." It does no good to seek to gratify self, for it only serves to enlarge one's desire even as hell, and it can never be satisfied. It is as if a man diseased should drink to slake his thirst, and it only makes him the more thirsty; or should eat to allay his hunger and it only sharpens his appetite the more. What then can you gain by pushing on in this direction or in that, to gratify the insatiate demands of self? Suppose you should drive your efforts selfishly even for your own salvation. You make a great mistake--yea, an infinite mistake. You will only make the matter inexpressibly worse. I can well recollect a crisis in my own religious history. I felt that there was not another step to take in the direction I was going. I had pursued my worldly interests a long time, all in vain; I had sought God selfishly, but all in vain; and I now betook myself to mighty prayer as I supposed, as if I would pull down blessings at any rate upon my needy soul. Often since, I have looked back with wonder to that moment. I came then to see and I actually said to myself--I may just as well stop this course of seeking now as ever. I hastened away to the woods to pray, pressed with the consideration--I am a selfish man--altogether selfish. I must come to a dead stand in this course; my selfish efforts are of no use, and even my selfish prayers are nothing better than an abomination before God. I had gone out with the determination never to leave the place without giving myself to God. I could see that all had been perfectly selfish, and that now the thing God demanded of me was to desist from my selfishness and give up myself supremely and wholly to Him.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 493 442 Lecture X. The Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of True Christianity ...

While laboring in Western New York, I saw a young woman who seemed to be by nature and education most amiable and lovely. Indeed, she was regarded by her friends as a perfect model of propriety. Her sisters and relatives could not bear to think that she was a sinner, or to hear her spoken to as a sinner. Yet she was selfish. When I saw her I could not help being strongly impressed with this fact, and urged it earnestly upon her conscience. At length she saw it and then exclaimed, I have sown to the wind and I must reap the whirlwind. My whole heart is selfish. I see that I might as well make no effort for salvation as to make selfish ones, and that truly I have but one right and hopeful way, and this is, to renounce my selfishness at once and forever.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 494 442 Lecture X. The Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of True Christianity ...

See that young man selfishly pursuing his education. What do you want of your education? What will you do with it? You reply, "O, perhaps I shall be a great man." Then persisting in your selfishness, you will be the greater in hell. "Perhaps I shall get to be the President of these United States." Then, unless you repent of your selfishness, you will sink to be the merest drudge in hell. "Oh," says that young man, "I shall get into some learned profession and make a brilliant display of my talents, and make an impression on the world." And will all this make you happy? If selfishness rule in your heart, it will only make you a greater curse to yourself. You may drive in this direction and in that, you can only fill up the cup of your own misery, if you will make self your idol god. Suppose you toil for fame; there will be a canker-worm at its root. What good will it do you? All is against you and nothing can work for your real good so long as you will not yield your heart to God and crucify your selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 615 584 Lecture XIII. Receiving Honor from Men and Not from God ...

3. Multitudes who profess religion are totally blind in this matter. Some are given up to one form of self-seeking and some to another; but almost none of them attribute this to total depravity. Are they not totally blind in these things? How can men be religious while their will is given up to selfishness? Surely this state is precisely the opposite of religion.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 616 584 Lecture XIII. Receiving Honor from Men and Not from God ...

4. How few know what it is to renounce the world in the sense of renouncing all undue regard to its opinions and its honors, and giving themselves wholly to God. We sometimes see a case of this sort in which a Christian does really break the yoke of sin and selfishness--but how rare! Yet in no other cases have we the proof that persons are truly religious.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 617 584 Lecture XIII. Receiving Honor from Men and Not from God ...

5. Many of the most endearing and important relations of life are perverted by selfishness and thus become a snare to souls. For example, the marriage relation. Many women feel worse to lose the affections of their husband than to lose the love of God. They will wander far, very far away from God, and incur His certain and sore displeasure; yet it gives them scarcely the least possible anxiety or pain; but these same persons at the same time may be tremblingly alive to the opinions of their husbands! Oh, if they could only please their husbands? But you see no manifestations of strong desire to please God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 618 584 Lecture XIII. Receiving Honor from Men and Not from God ...

The same thing is often true of husbands towards their wives. So in all the various relations of life. They are abused and perverted by the selfishness of men. Designed by our Creator for our social happiness, they are so perverted as to become a great temptation to idolatrous affection and regard; then of course, God is disesteemed and forgotten, and the most fatal effects of human depravity are the natural results.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 699 636 Lecture XIV. Faith the Work of God ...

3. The exact difference between a legal and a gospel life is this: the gospel life is a spontaneity of faith and love. A legal life is a spontaneity of selfishness. Sincere and hearty obedience flows naturally from faith and from love. It must be so, and always will be. Just as naturally does selfishness, when it aims to be religious at all, put on the type of legality.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1849 paragraph 701 636 Lecture XIV. Faith the Work of God ...

Or observe how the sea-captain gathers up the choicest things he can from the ends of the earth to bring home to the wife he loves. Is this a hardship? Does he drag out a miserable bondage in performing services of this sort for his beloved wife? If not, then you may know how to judge of the self-denials and hardships of the true Christian's life. It is not the gospel Christian, but the legalist, who is dragging his snail's pace up the hard hill of his religious life. Ah, his whole religion is nothing better than penance--a penance of such sort as God neither asks nor accepts. Sinner, you misconceive of religion, and your misconception results from your selfishness. If in the place of selfishness you had true love to God, you would see far other things in religion than what you now see. Go and ask that young convert how all these waters of life taste to him. He will tell you that they are sweeter than the honey or the honey-comb. If you would know this, try it. O, when will you understand what religion is, and having understood it, yield your heart at once in obedience to its claims? Then should your peace be like a river, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1851 paragraph 129 104 Lecture III. Jesus Christ Doing Good ...

1. How very simple and intelligible is the nature of true religion. Every man knows what it is to love to do good to some individual. Every person has some one or more objects of affection. Now suppose that selfishness were all put away--that we were to associate our own happiness most intimately with that of all our race, taking as much interest in each other person's well-being as in our own; could we not then understand this state of mind! This is real religion.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1851 paragraph 131 104 Lecture III. Jesus Christ Doing Good ...

2. You have revealed in our subject the state of mind to which the rewards of heaven are promised. These rewards by no means appeal to human selfishness; they were never intended to stimulate the selfishness of the human heart. God promises to reward those who live as He lives -- who labor for the same ends. Suppose a father should promise his estate to his children on condition they should live as they ought to. Would this mean--If you are careful and anxious to get my estate, you shall have it? No, but it would mean this; If you regard my will and happiness, and if you try in all things to do right; if you love me, and love all the family, with a single eye, and prove yourself to be in every respect a worthy son -- then you are entitled to my estate.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1851 paragraph 132 104 Lecture III. Jesus Christ Doing Good ...

And would this be an appeal to their selfishness? By no means. No intelligent child could so understand it.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1851 paragraph 148 104 Lecture III. Jesus Christ Doing Good ...

How plain this is! One who knows the value of others' happiness, yet cares not to promote it; none who knows the miseries of his fellow-beings yet cares not to alleviate them, what claim has he upon either God or the universe for happiness? What could he do or enjoy in heaven? If he lives only for himself, what could he do there? Just think of him, carrying all his selfishness into heaven! A man once said on the floor of Congress-"The people in the North are so selfish that if they should hear of the river of life, their first thought would be to ask if there were any mill-seats on it!" How can minds so steeped in selfishness be happy even in heaven?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1851 paragraph 168 157 Lecture IV. The Wicked Heart Set to do Evil ...

Selfishness takes on a thousand forms and types; but each and all are sinful, for the whole mind should give itself up to serve God and to perform every duty as revealed to the reason. What did Eve do? Give herself up to gratify her propensity for knowledge, and for the good of self-indulgence. She consented to believe the lying spirit who told her it was "a tree to be desired to make one wise." This she thought must be very important. It was also, apparently, good for food, and her appetite became greatly excited; the more she looked, the more excited she became, and now what should she do? God had forbidden her to touch it: shall she obey God, or obey her own excited appetite? Despite of God's command, she ate it. Was that a sin? Many would think it a very small sin; but it was real rebellion against God, and He could not do otherwise than visit it with His terrific frown!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1851 paragraph 170 157 Lecture IV. The Wicked Heart Set to do Evil ...

I said that selfishness often assumes a religious type. In the outset the mind may be powerfully affected by some of the great and stirring truths of the gospel; but it presently comes to take an entirely selfish view, caring only to escape punishment, and make religion a matter of gain. It is wonderful to see how in such cases the mind utterly misapprehends the design of the gospel, quite losing sight of the great fact that it seeks to eradicate man's selfishness, and draw out his heart into pure benevolence. Making this radical mistake, it conceives of the whole gospel system as a scheme for indulgences. You may see this exemplified in the view which some take of the imputation of Christ's righteousness, which they suppose to be reckoned to them while they are living in sin. That is, they suppose that they secure entire exemption from the penalty of violating law, and even have the honors and rewards of full obedience while yet they have all the self-indulgences of a life of sin. Horrible! Were ever Romish indulgences worse than this?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1851 paragraph 171 157 Lecture IV. The Wicked Heart Set to do Evil ...

Examine such a case thoroughly and you will see that selfishness is at the bottom of all the religion there is in it. The man was worldly before and is devout now; but devout for the same reason that he was worldly. The selfish heart forms alike the basis of each system. The same ends are sought, and sought in the same spirit; the moral character remains unchanged. He prays perhaps; but if so, he asks God to do some great things for him, to promote his own selfish purposes. He has not the remotest idea of making such a committal of himself to God's interests, and having no interests other than God's to serve at all.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1851 paragraph 178 157 Lecture IV. The Wicked Heart Set to do Evil ...

That amiable lady insists that she is not much depraved. O no, not she. She will not steal! True, her selfishness takes on a most tender and delicate type. She has most gushing sensibilities; she cannot bear to see a kitten in distress;--but what does she care for God's rights? What for the rights of Jesus Christ? What does she care for God's feelings? What does she care for the feelings and sympathies of the crucified Son of God? Just nothing at all. What then are all her tender sensibilities worth? Doves and kittens have even more of this than she. Many tender ties has she, no doubt, but they are all under the control of a perfectly selfish heart

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1851 paragraph 179 157 Lecture IV. The Wicked Heart Set to do Evil ...

Mother Eve too was most amiable. Indeed she was a truly pious woman before she sinned -- and Adam no doubt thought she could be trusted everywhere; -- but mark how terribly she fell! So her daughters. Giving up their hearts to a refined selfishness, they repel God's most righteous claims, and they are fallen!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1851 paragraph 233 215 Lecture V. Repentance Before Prayer for Forgiveness ...

3. That he becomes just and equitable towards men--truly an honest man. Selfishness is the greatest dishonesty in the world. No man is radically honest who is selfish, unless a man can be honest in practically denying everybody's rights but his own. No; selfishness is the perfection of dishonesty. It is absurd for a wicked man to pretend to be honest. He has not a particle of genuine honesty, more than Satan has! What is honesty? Respecting all other men's rights and especially God's rights. How false their pretensions! They respect their neighbor's rights only for their own interests--only because in some way they expect to reap good to themselves from the respect they hypocritically show to their neighbor's interests. The fact is, men are totally deceived if they think themselves honest towards men while they are not really honest towards God. The heart of honesty is not in them. If they do not love their neighbor as themselves, they are not honest. No man has a right to say practically that his rights and interests are greater than his neighbor's. The practical assumption of this is both false and dishonest.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1851 paragraph 237 215 Lecture V. Repentance Before Prayer for Forgiveness ...

8. Repentance also implies not only an abandonment of all selfish branches of business, but of all selfish modes of transacting business, even of business in itself right. Selfish men often pursue a good business in a bad way--on most selfish principles and policy. This also repentance precludes, because repentance is a change of the heart and life from selfishness to real benevolence. It implies an abandonment of all selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1851 paragraph 238 215 Lecture V. Repentance Before Prayer for Forgiveness ...

9. Repentance implies a universal reformation of life,--a reformation extending to all forms of sin. Penitent men turn from all sin as sin--because they regard it as sin, and therefore can have no sympathy with it. All known sin therefore they at once abandon. And since to them nothing can be sin except what is known to be such, the forsaking of all known sin is really the forsaking of all sin. No man is truly penitent who allows himself to continue in some chosen sin, and who picks and chooses his indulgences. This is not repentance at all.

When I speak of abandoning sin, I do not imply that the penitent man never for even a moment relapses into it; but I imply that he sets himself against it in real honesty and earnestness.

10. Finally, true repentance implies confidence in God and in Jesus Christ. If a man truly repents of sin he will of course believe on Jesus Christ.

IV. What is implied in the consecutive order of duties, as enjoined by Peter--repentance before prayer for pardon?

1. He assumed that Simon Magus was totally depraved--totally alienated from God, and hence unwilling to give up his sins. Hence he could not exhort him to pray for pardon while yet in his sins. Peter knew full well that Simon would spring at the idea of being forgiven before he repented; but he meant to caution him in the strongest way against such a delusion. He knew that his sin consisted in cleaving to his selfishness, and therefore told him first to give up his sins and then to ask forgiveness. Peter assumed that his unwillingness to give up his selfishness was his great sin, first of all to be repented of and put away.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1851 paragraph 249 215 Lecture V. Repentance Before Prayer for Forgiveness ...

8. Every doctrine of scripture is consistent with the course of directions given in the text and with no other course. Every doctrine of scripture shuts the sinner up to the doing of present duty. The whole Bible urges him to do present duty and if he is in unrepented sin, it tells him that his first duty is to repent. Men have struck out for themselves a strange way that they should direct sinners to do something else than repent;--but the Bible holds steadfastly to the only consistent course--urging evermore on every sinner that first of all he should repent. John came crying in the wilderness of Judea--Repent ye;--and Jesus Christ followed him preaching the same thing and nothing different from this;--"Repent", says he, "for the gospel kingdom is at hand." So every prophet, and every apostle, each in his place, cried aloud--Repent, REPENT, as if there was nothing else they dared to say till this first duty is done.

This is the only rational course--the only course which is based upon scripture, upon reason, and upon the true science of mind. Every sinner knows that he is a sinner. You no more need the Holy Ghost to make you see yourself a sinner than to make you see that you exist. This shows why the Bible always faces the sinner down with the assumption--You are a sinner, and the fact needs no proof. Every sinner knows it.

9. Sinners are often very willing to pray, but not to repent. Only let him off from the heart-work of repenting, and he will gladly do many other things. A young man once said to me--"I would travel to any part of the world if I might thereby be saved." Yes, said I, but one thing you will not do;--give up your self-righteousness, and be saved on Christ alone, without doing anything meritorious yourself.

So with every sinner. Tell him to pray for conviction. O yes, he will pray for conviction, but he will resist conviction, until he repents. Tell him to pray for the Holy Ghost. O yes, he will pray for the Holy Ghost, but still he will perhaps resist the Holy Ghost continually. He is ready to do the outside work, but not the heart-work; he will readily cleanse the outside of the cup and platter, but the turning of his own heart from his sins and selfishness, that is the hard thing--the thing which of all others he is reluctant to do.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1852 paragraph 47 16 Lecture I. The Child-Like Spirit an Essential Condition of Entering Heaven ...

2. Selfishness in its moral and proper sense does not appear in very young children. They love their own happiness to be sure: What sentient being does not? But this is not the same thing as selfishness. If you would carefully observe the difference between the self-seeking of very young children, and the self-seeking of those whose moral agency is developed, you would discover it to be very great. The little one loves to be happy, but loves to have others happy also. He is altogether simple-hearted and guileless. But as soon as he gets away from his infantile simplicity, the fruits of sin and of guilty selfishness become apparent. Now he is all guileful. Like Adam and Eve, he hastens to sow up some fig-leaf covering and to hide himself among the trees of the garden from the searching scrutiny of both God and man. He has done something wrong; all wrong things are mean; he knows and feels it keenly; and therefore seeks to hide and cover up. Until this time he had never done anything which he wished to cover up. Now, therefore, his spirit of concealment and guile reveal his sin and selfishness. All full of fraud and treachery, he waxes worse and worse; conscious of wrong doing, and anxious to save appearances, his temptations to deceit and hypocrisy are too great for him to resist.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1852 paragraph 48 16 Lecture I. The Child-Like Spirit an Essential Condition of Entering Heaven ...

3. Selfishness is too false to be confiding. The selfish youth knows himself to be unworthy of confidence, and hence, judging others by himself, he does not naturally trust them. With no self-respect, it cannot be natural for him to trust his fellows. Unteachable also, he ought to expect to remain in ignorance. How often it happens that sinners get above becoming religious, simply because they become too self-sufficient and proud of their attainments or talents to understand a thing so simple as the gospel. They get into a state of mind in which they cannot learn the plain and humbling doctrines of the cross, and hence they are prepared for yet deeper self-deception. It would be easy to show that selfishness is the greatest self-deception. The selfish man seems to use his intellect only to deceive himself and to deceive others, his main business being to cover up his own true character and real motives. "A deceived heart hath turned them aside," saith the heart-searching word of the Lord; and nothing can be more true. It does most truly turn men aside from integrity and truth. "Deceiving and being deceived," is another daguerrotype sketch of the selfish man's history. It is but a righteous judgment that he who gives himself up to deceive others should be caught in his own snares, deceiving himself just because there is no simplicity nor honesty in him.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1852 paragraph 53 16 Lecture I. The Child-Like Spirit an Essential Condition of Entering Heaven ...

5. Selfish beings are continually progressing into a state more and more offensive to God. As they come to know more of God, they become more intensely and more meanly selfish--more committed to evil, and more fatally opposed to good. Let a young man come here for education, as many have, young in years and not greatly hardened in heart;-- he enters the lower classes, comparatively humble in spirit; for a season he passes along quietly and pleasantly to himself; but by and by he becomes ambitious;--then you may see some of the most detestable features of selfishness developing themselves; and perhaps when the time arrives which is to test his standing and his ambition, you may see him angry, and almost mad, because he is not the first and foremost; almost a devil in spirit, he inwardly frets and rages, and outwardly he will often pour out the venom of his selfish and mortified spirit upon the whole surface of the society in which he moves. I have sometimes had occasion to say that I dreaded the influence of the Senior College Class. Do you ask me why? Because they are so testy, so sensitive and so ambitious. What's the matter? They have been in college till they have grown wiser in science but wickeder in heart!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1852 paragraph 141 102 Lecture III. God's Love to Sinners as Seen in the Gospel ...

Faith implies a full renunciation of selfishness. Such renunciation is fully involved in the idea of self-committal to God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1852 paragraph 147 102 Lecture III. God's Love to Sinners as Seen in the Gospel ...

2. Your selfishness is that which makes it so difficult for you to conceive aright of these things. You never loved your enemies: you never make any sacrifice of your own ease or pleasure for their good--but God does. Hence you find it difficult if not impossible to understand God's benevolence--it is so unlike your own selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1852 paragraph 149 102 Lecture III. God's Love to Sinners as Seen in the Gospel ...

But how can you realize such a state of mind as His? Your selfishness is so great and so controlling that you never have any such feelings yourself towards your enemies. And when you are called on to relinquish your enmity and selfishness, you plead that you can't do it. Hence you are sadly crippled in respect to meeting the condition of faith intelligently. Just as it is one of the most difficult things in the world to make a great liar believe your word however trustworthy, or just, as you cannot persuade a great scoundrel or knave into the course of duty. They don't understand the proper force of the motives you present, and more than all, they do not love to admit sound moral truth home to their heart and conscience. So a thief always suspects others of theft. And on the same principle it becomes sternly difficult for a wicked man to have confidence in God's sincerity and goodness. He may admit it in theory, but still he doesn't believe it and bring it home to his own bosom as a reality.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1852 paragraph 276 156 Lecture IV. & V. All Things for Good to Those That Love God-- All Things Conspire for Evil to The Sinner- No.'s 1 - 2 ...

Need I press again on your attention the wide and awful contrast between saints and sinners? They live together here; the same roof shelters them; the same table spreads for them their daily bread; the same sun rises and pours its blaze of light and joy over all; the same clouds come freighted with waters of summer and distill their precious drops for all; but Oh! how unlike is the scene that lies beneath! Underneath the surface God marks in one a heart of gratitude and penitence; in another a soul tainted with selfishness and mad upon its lusts and its idols. Of course the one must go up, up, rising in the perfection of its holy character; and the other down, down, sinking under the depraving influence of its own headstrong appetites and its will, opposed to God and goodness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1852 paragraph 307 280 Lecture VI. Guilt Modified by Ignorance ...

Repentance is turning the heart to God, and abandoning selfishness. The work of repentance belongs to the heart or will. Of course it must be the function of the voluntary or moral department of the mind's powers.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1852 paragraph 412 344 Lectures VII. & VIII. Salvation Difficult to The Christian- Impossible to The Sinner-- The Salvation of Sinners Impossible- No.'s 1 - 2 ...

1. The ungodly and the sinner will appear in that day among the damned--among lost angels, doomed to the place prepared of old for their eternal abode. So Jesus has Himself told us. The very words of their sentence are on record: "Then will He say to them on his left hand--Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." This is indeed the only place for which they are prepared; and this the only society to which their hearts are congenial. They have of choice belonged to Satan's government on earth: at least in the sense of doing precisely what he would have them do. Now therefore, after such a training in selfishness and sin, they are manifestly fit for no other and better society than that of Satan and his angels.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1853 paragraph 63 18 Lecture I. Prayer and Labor for the Gathering of The Great Harvest ...

Many will be sent to hell at last for treating this subject as they have, with so much selfishness at heart! I know the young man who for a long time struggled between a strong conviction that God called him to the ministry and a great repellency against engaging in this work. I know what this feeling is, for I felt it a long time myself. A long time I had a secret conviction that I should be a minister, though my heart repelled it. In fact, my conversion turned very much upon my giving up this contest with God, and subduing this repellency of feeling against God's call.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1853 paragraph 201 180 Lecture IV. The Sinner's Excuses Answered ...

But at length the hour of temptation came, alluring him to withdraw his heart from God and turn to pleasing himself. To Eve the tempter said--"Hath God indeed said--Ye shall not surely die?" Ah, is that so? Thus he raised the question either as to the fact that God had really threatened death for sin, or as to the justice of doing so. In either case it raised a question about obedience and opened the heart to temptation. Then that fruit came before her mind. It was fair and seemed good for food. Her appetite enkindles and clamours for indulgence. Then, it was said to be fitted to "make one wise," and by eating it she might "be as the Gods, knowing good and evil." This appealed to her curiosity. Yielding to this temptation and making up her mind to please herself, she made herself a new heart of sin; she changed her heart from holiness to sin, and fell from her first moral position. When Adam yielded to temptation, he made the same change in his heart; he gave himself up to selfishness and sin. This accounts for all future acts of selfishness in after life.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1853 paragraph 269 215 Lecture V. God's Love for A Sinning World ...

Our subject strikingly illustrates the nature of sin as mere selfishness. It cares not how much sin costs Jesus Christ--how much it costs the Church, how much it taxes the benevolent sympathies and the self-sacrificing labours of all the good in earth or heaven;--no matter; the sinner loves self-indulgence and will have it while he can. How many of you have cost your friends countless tears and trouble to get you back from your ways of sin? Are you not ashamed when so much has been done for you, that you cannot be persuaded to give up your sins and turn to God and holiness?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1853 paragraph 293 282 Lecture VI. Alive Without the Law, Slain Thereby ...

3. Another result was a self-righteous performance of all he called his religion. But there I must explain; for I am afraid many are not well aware what the Bible means by self-righteousness; certainly it is the case that many professed Christians do not well understand this matter. For explanation of the point that is most important for discrimination, take the case of Paul. When he performed what he called his duties, and thanked God, Pharisee-like, that he prayed and fasted, and paid tithes, did he feel himself so utterly lost that he ascribed all his acceptable work to Christ, working in him? Far from it. He had done all these things himself.

When he came ultimately to know himself and then to know Christ, he could speak on this subject with intelligent discrimination, and ever wakeful interest. Then he dwelt much on the fact that the Jews depended on their own works and on themselves alone, to do their own works; while on the other hand he insisted that while left to themselves they never did anything but sin. He always maintained that the energetic power of the divine Spirit wrought in them all that was ever acceptable to God. Often does he illustrate this by his own experience. Before he was a Christian, he performed religious duties as regularly as now; says "I profited in the Jews' religion above many of mine equals," but all along, he regarded his obedience as in such a sense rendered in his own strength that he made no hearty acknowledgments of dependence on sovereign grace. Of that grace which comes through divine mercy, and first moves the heart to good, he seemed to know nothing. His own righteousness was self-originating, self-performed. There was nothing else of it but what came of himself. It had no spiritual life or power in it, for the reason that there was no power of God in its origin, no influence from God, molding its character. Paul did not truly recognize God's grace in this obedience, and God did not impart His grace to subdue selfishness and beget true love in his soul.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1853 paragraph 296 282 Lecture VI. Alive Without the Law, Slain Thereby ...

The law was set home to both his moral and spiritual consciousness and perception. He was led to see what the law meant in its moral relations to himself and to his neighbor, that without love, all was nothing. He saw the same also in regard to prayer, to alms, to worship, that all is nothing, only a grievous abomination in the sight of God when the subjective state of the heart is wrong. He became fully aware of this, all suddenly, as if a flash of lightning had broken upon him. He saw the reality of this spiritual meaning, and with it a purity and blessedness in the law itself which commanded his most intense regard. And what was the result of this new view of God's law? This is the point we are next to consider.

1. It quickened his selfishness. This was the first result of bringing the spirituality of the law home to his selfish heart. This new light as it flashed upon his mind found him in a most self-complacent state, altogether satisfied with himself. No sooner however did he see the spirituality of the law than one of two results must inevitably take place;--either he must break down at once, acknowledge his guilt and empty himself of all his self-righteousness, or if he resist this, his selfishness must be quickened into fresh activity. In Paul's case the latter result ensued; his selfishness was aroused and stirred up as if Ithuriel's spear had touched him. The long unnoticed enmity of his heart was developed. We are not to suppose that during all the time he was persecuting the Church, he enjoyed an easy, self-complacent state of mind, and that all was quiet until the moment when the great light from heaven broke upon him. By no means. It must not be assumed that he had no serious thought about his moral relations to God, prior to the scenes at Damascus. Doubtless his mind had been stirred up long before. He had heard of the sermon on the mount; had heard about Christ's pungent and terrible denunciations against the Pharisees; he had known that Christ had publicly rebuked and exposed their favorite interpretations of the law, and had torn up their system from its very foundations, and that the masses of the common people heard him gladly. This had greatly quickened the selfishness and stirred up the enmity of his heart against that man, so that his very soul was maddened. You recollect he says of himself--"I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth." It was obviously under color of being very zealous for the truth;--but really his selfishness was all on fire and all the malign passions of his soul were astir. It is exceedingly plain from the history that Paul was all this time warring against his own consciousness. This great fact was perfectly known to Jesus, and hence, when He came down in that flood of overwhelming light and arrested the burning persecutor, what did He say? "Saul, Saul, who persecutest thou Me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks."

Here we have the secret of Saul's state of mind. He is kicking against the pricks. The sharp points of his moral sense are against him, and he is resisting and is wounding himself upon those piercing points continually. He is like a hampered animal trying to run away, while every step drives the goads into his quivering flesh. He tries to kick--he winces and shrieks, yet has too much obstinacy to yield. Sometimes perhaps he half persuaded himself that he ought to oppose Jesus of Nazareth; but the whole case shows that he was ill at ease in that impression, and that on the whole he knew better and was truly fighting against his prevailing convictions of duty.

2. When the law came home to his soul, it compelled reflection. This almost always supervenes when the law comes home more and more to the soul. There will be hours of deep and earnest reflection, producing first consternation--then a deep sense of shame, the mind waking up to see things in their true light. This leads to great consternation, remorse, self-condemnation, and then, often to despair. The man is stripped of all his excuses, and then, not having yet seen the great love of God, and having therefore no faith and trust, he settles down in the conviction,--I ought to be damned and I certainly must be! There can be no help for me! More than one such case have I seen where men, long time settled down in infidelity, are wakened to see themselves as they are before God and His holy law, and they cry out, I deserve eternal damnation! One such I have in my mind's eye. I shall never forget how he looked. Every feature of his countenance depicted horror. Every muscle was in a tremor. A little reflection had brought him into an attitude in which he could not stand before God. There was also the case of Dea. H. whom I well knew in his years of infidelity. He is now in heaven, but when an infidel, he professed to be entirely satisfied that the Bible was all priestcraft, and verily thought that soon this delusion (Christianity,) would be swept from the earth. Returning at one time from the dale of infidel books, full of self-complacency, all elated with his success, he conversed freely with his wife upon his labors for the day--when all suddenly, a new view of the truth and meaning of God's word broke in upon his mind; intuitively he saw himself a sinner and undone; he could no longer shut his eyes to the fact that Jesus whom he had been opposing was truly the Savior of the world, that the Bible he had been gainsaying was really God's own revelation to lost men. Seeing all this he was in agony. His wife, alarmed, cried out, Dea. H., what is the matter with you? Still he groaned as a man in agony of body, and still she pressed her question--What's the matter? At last he broke out saying--"The stubborn oak must bow! Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world!" She was thunderstruck! It could not have surprised her more if a bolt from heaven had broken through the roof and smote him to the floor. There he was--but how changed! Go and ask him now what Paul meant by saying--"When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." He can doubtless tell you.

IV. The consequences of this "coming of the commandment".

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1853 paragraph 301 282 Lecture VI. Alive Without the Law, Slain Thereby ...

So in our own day many professed Christians, who are living along in a legal and pharisaic state, get now and then some scattering rays of new light--glimpses of truth break in upon their minds as they hear the true gospel, faithfully preached, or as the Spirit sets home upon their souls some portions of God's word; something within says--"That is true Religion, but I have not got it--I have no such experience as that." Sometimes in reasons of searching power, the Spirit of God hurls His arrows broadcast, and many are pricked in their heart and constrained to say--"My hope is vain and I am yet in my selfishness, and know nothing yet of true religion as I must know it. I must give up this old rotten hope, or be lost!" But they resist at the moment; they cannot quite bring their minds to give it all up now and throw their naked souls on divine mercy as lost sinners; and, thus resisting, they relapse into ten fold greater hardness and delusion. If under such appeals from God they would not resist, light would increase, and they would doubtless be soon brought forth into day. I knew the case of an elder who took an honest course, unlike most persons in similar circumstances. I was preaching in the place of his residence; the Spirit was pressing truth on some minds, as I endeavored to aid His searching scrutiny into the heart by preaching on the case of Achan and the accursed thing. I was progressing in my sermon, in search after that accursed thing, when suddenly he rose in the midst of the congregation and cried out--"Mr. Finney, Mr. Finney, you need not say another word, it's found; I am the man, I am the very man!" There he stood pale as ashes. "If there were no other Achan here," said he, "I am enough to curse the whole church. I did not want to disturb the congregation," he added, "but I saw that I must speak. I have been brought almost to this point before, but I drew back and my soul relapsed into darkness. I knew that I must meet the demands of my conscience now, or my soul would be lost."

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1853 paragraph 316 282 Lecture VI. Alive Without the Law, Slain Thereby ...

Often and perhaps I may say always, where under gospel light true conversion does not take place, the reason is, something binds the mind. Truth adapted to wake up the consciousness, first to fear and then to love, fails to produce its effects. Do you ask the reason? Selfishness has bound up the mind all round about and it has no enlargement--no freedom, to go forth in confidence or in penitence. When they attempt to pray, it is as if something bound up the mind; no earnest going out of soul after God. When they say, I will go and seek God, they go not. It is not with them as with those whom the Spirit of God is drawing, who feel as if their very soul would go out after Christ--even almost out of the body. This going out of the soul I often compare to what you may have noticed often when you put a burning candle in a strong draft of air; the wind bears the blaze away and almost forces it entirely from the wick, yet it flickers and hangs--yet you can see it borne quite a perceptible distance from the wick--but the connection is still maintained and when you arrest the draft, the candle burns again as before. So the Christians almost goes off from the body--his soul being drawn away by the power of his ravishing views of Jesus.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1853 paragraph 330 320 Lecture VII. The Essential Elements of Christian Experience ...

Not much is said in the Bible as to the mode in which sin entered our world and acquired such relations to the human soul, but it is distinctly referred to Adam's first sin, and is asserted to be in some way connected with that event. Facts show that sin has become in a most significant sense natural to the race, so that they all spontaneously, not of necessity, yet spontaneously, if no special grace interpose, begin to sin as soon as they begin to act morally, or in other words, as soon as they become capable of moral action. Not that men are born sinners, not that they sin before they are born, not that sin is born in them, nor that they are beyond their control born into sin; but yet the constitution of the man--body and mind--is such, and the law of development is such, that men sin naturally (none the less voluntarily, responsibly, and guiltily), but they all sin of free choice; the temptations to sin being developed in advance of those intellectual and moral powers which should counteract the excessive demands of the sensibility. Mark the developments of the new-born child. Some pain or some appetite awakens its consciousness of existence, and thus is created a demand for the things it perceives itself to need. Then the little infant begins to struggle for good--for that particular good which its new-developed sensibility demands. Want, the struggling demand for supply, and the gratification, form a process of development which gives such power to the sensibility as generates ere long an intense selfishness; and before the conscience and the reason are perceptibly developed, have laid the foundation for spiritual death. If the Spirit of God does not excite spiritual wants and arouse the mind to efforts in obtaining them, the mind becomes so engrossed and its sensibilities acquire such habits of control over the will, that when the idea of right and wrong is first developed the mind remains dead to its demands. The appetites have already secured the ascendancy. The mind seems to act as if scarcely aware that it has a soul or any spiritual wants. The spiritual consciousness is at first not developed at all. The mind seems not to know its spiritual relations. When this knowledge first forces itself upon the mind, it finds the ground pre-occupied, the habits fixed, the soul too much engaged for earthly good to be called off. The tendency of this law of development is altogether down ward; the appetites become more and more despotic and imperious; the mind has less and less regard for God. The mind comes into a state in which spiritual truth frets and chafes it, and of course it thoroughly inclines to spiritual apathy-- choosing apathy, though not unaware of its danger before the perpetual annoyance of unwelcome truths. This tends toward a state of dead insensibility to spiritual want.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1853 paragraph 334 320 Lecture VII. The Essential Elements of Christian Experience ...

Alas, he has no idea of acting from any other or higher motive than his own interests. It is his darkness on this very point that makes the sinner's struggle so long and so unprofitable. This is the reason why he cannot be converted at once, and why he must needs sink and flounder so much longer in the quagmire of unavailing and despairing works. It is only when he comes at last to see that all this avails nothing, that he begins to take some right views of his case and of his relations. When he learns that indeed he cannot work out his own salvation by working at it on this wise, he bethinks himself to inquire, whether he be not all wrong at bottom--whether his motives of heart are not radically corrupt. Looking round and abroad, he begins to ask whether God may not have some interests and some rights as well as himself. Who is God and where is He? Who is Jesus Christ and what has He done? What did He die for? Is God a great King over all the earth, and should He not have due honor and homage? Was it this great God who so loved the world as to give His Son to die for it? O, I see I have quite neglected to think of God's interests and honor! Now I see how infinitely mean and wicked I have been! Plainly enough, I cannot live so. No wonder God did not hear my selfish prayers. There was no hope in that sort of effort, for I had, as I plainly see, no regard to God in any thing I was doing then. How reasonable it is that God should ask me to desist from all my selfish endeavors and to put away this selfishness itself, and yield myself entirely and forever to do or suffer all his blessed will!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1853 paragraph 365 320 Lecture VII. The Essential Elements of Christian Experience ...

5. Is it not full time that each one of you who has any spiritual life should stand out before the world and put on your beautiful garments? Let all the world see that there is a power and a glory in the gospel, such as human philosophy never has even approached. Show that the gospel begets purity and peace. Show that it enlarges the heart and opens the hand for the good of all human kind. Show that it conquers selfishness and transforms the soul from hate to love.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 34 23 Lecture I. Converting Sinners A Christian Duty ...

These are the essential elements of mind, necessary to constitute a moral agent. Yet these are not all the facts which develop themselves in a sinner.


2. He is a selfish moral agent, devoted to his own interests, making himself his own supreme end of action. He looks on his own things, not on the things of others. His own interests, not the interests of others, are his chief concern.

Thus every sinner is a moral agent, acting under this law of selfishness, having free will and all the powers of a moral agent, but making self the great end of all his action. This is a sinner.


3. We have here the true idea of sin. It is in an impor tant sense, error. A sinner is one that "erreth." "He that converteth a sinner from the error of his ways." It is not a mere mistake, for mistakes are made through ignorance or incapacity. Nor is it a mere defect of constitution, attributable to its author. But it is an "error in his ways." It is missing the mark in his voluntary course of conduct. It is a voluntary divergence from the line of duty. It is not an innocent mistake, but a reckless yielding to impulse. It involves a wrong end--a bad intention--a being influenced by appetite or passion, in opposition to reason and conscience. It is an attempt to secure some present gratification at the expense of resisting convictions of duty. This is most emphatically missing the mark.

II. What is conversion? What is it to "convert the sinner from the error of his ways?"

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 35 23 Lecture I. Converting Sinners A Christian Duty ...

This error lies in his having a wrong object of life--his own present worldly interests. Hence to convert him from the error of his ways is to turn him from this course to a benevolent consecration of himself to God and to human well-being. This is precisely what is meant by conversion. It is changing the great moral end of action. It supplants selfishness and substitutes benevolence in its stead.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 53 23 Lecture I. Converting Sinners A Christian Duty ...

If these things be true, then,


1. Converting sinners is the work of the Christian life. It is the great work to which we, as Christians, are especially appointed. Who can doubt this?
 
2. It is the great work of life because its importance demands that it should be. It is so much beyond any other work in importance that it cannot be rationally regarded as anything other or less than the great work of life.
 
3. It can be made the great work of life, because Jesus Christ has made provision for it. His atonement covers the human race and lays the foundation so broad that whosoever will may come. The promise of his Spirit to aid each Christian in this work is equally broad, and was designed to open the way for each one to become a laborer together with God in this work of saving souls.
 
4. Benevolence can never stop short of it. Where so much good can be done and so much misery can be prevented, how is it possible that benevolence can fail to do its utmost?
 
5. Living to save others is the condition of saving ourselves. No man is truly converted who does not live to save others. Every truly converted man turns from selfishness to benevolence, and benevolence surely leads him to do all he can to save the souls of his fellow-man. This is the changeless law of benevolent action.
 
6. The self-deceived are always to be distinguished by this peculiarity--they live to save themselves. This is the chief end of all their religion. All their religious efforts and activities tend toward this sole object. If they can secure their own conversion so as to be pretty sure of it, they are satisfied. Sometimes the ties of natural sympathy embrace those who are especially near to them--but selfishness goes commonly no further--except as a good name may prompt them on.
 
7. Some persons take no pains to convert sinners, but act as if this were a matter of no consequence whatever. They do not labor to persuade men to be reconciled to God.
 
8. Some seem to be waiting for miraculous interposition. They take no pains with their children or friends. Very much as if they felt no interest in the great issue, they wait and wait for God, or miracle to move. Alas, they do nothing in this great work of human life!
 
9. Many professed Christians have no faith in God's blessing, and no expectation, thereby, of success. Consequently they make no effort in faith. Their own experience is good for nothing to help them, because never having had faith, they never have had success. Many ministers preach so as to do no good. Having failed so long, they have lost all faith. They have not gone to work expecting success, and hence they have not had success.
 
10. Many professors of religion, not ministers, seem to have lost all confidence. Ask them if they are doing anything; they answer truly--nothing. But if their hearts were full of the love of souls, or of the love of Christ, they would certainly make efforts. They would at least try to convert sinners from the error of their ways. They would live religion--would hold up its light as a natural spontaneous thing.
 
11. Each one, male or female, of every age, and in any position in life whatsoever, should make it a business to save souls. There are indeed many other things to be done; let them have their place. But don't neglect the greatest of all.
 
12. Many professed Christians seem never to convert sinners. Let me ask you how is it with you? Some of you might reply--Under God, I have been the means of saving some souls. But some of you can not even say this. You know you have never labored honestly and with all your heart for this object. And you do not know that you have ever been the means of converting one sinner.

What shall I say of those young converts here? Have you given yourselves up to this work? Are you laboring for God? Have you gone to your impenitent friends, even to their rooms and by personal, affectionate entreaty, besought them to be reconciled to God?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 181 172 Lecture V. What Men Highly Esteem, God Abhors ...

1. They have a different rule of judgment. God judges by one rule; they by another. God's rule requires universal benevolence; their rule is satisfied with an amount of selfishness, so be it sufficiently refined to meet the times. God requires men to devote themselves not to their own interest, but to His interest and those of His great family. He sets up one great end--the highest glory of His name and kingdom. He asks them to become divinely patriotic, devoting themselves to their Creator and to the good of His creatures.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 184 172 Lecture V. What Men Highly Esteem, God Abhors ...

God regards nothing as virtue except devotion to the right ends. The right end is not one's own, but the general good. Hence God's rule requires virtue, while man's rule at best only restrains vice. All human governments are founded on this principle, as all who study the subject know. They do not require benevolence, they only restrain selfishness. In the foundation principles of our government, it is affirmed that men have certain inalienable rights, one of which is the right to pursue each his own happiness. This is affirmed to be an inalienable right, and is always assumed to be right in itself, provided it does not infringe on others' rights of happiness. But God's rule requires positive benevolence and regards nothing else as virtue except devotion to the highest good. Man's rule condemns nothing, provided man so restrains himself as not to infringe on others' rights.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 227 172 Lecture V. What Men Highly Esteem, God Abhors ...

6. A morality, based on the most refined selfishness, stands in the highest esteem among men. So good a man of the world, they say--almost a saint; yet God must hold him in utter abomination.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 261 232 Lecture VI. Variety in the Service Offered to God ...

If we trace back the history of this class, we shall find that they once lived in sin; that they became awake to their guilt and convinced of their sin; were led to consider the character of God, the nature and spirit of His law; that they became interested in these objects, so that although they commenced their inquiries under convictions of danger and peril, yet they found themselves interested in God's character; they saw the fitness and excellence of His law and the glory of His gospel, and though they may be quite unable to tell when or where they embraced this gospel and committed themselves to its principles, yet this they know -- that they became intensely interested in God, in Christ, and in the entire scheme of the gospel. They are not thinking now about their hope, but about Christ's work, His great mission; its success and their own responsibilities in promoting it. Look into the heart of one of these Christians; he seems to have dropped all fear, to have forgotten himself; he has ceased to pray much or chiefly for himself; has given himself up to a deep sympathy with the whole movement. When he comes to look within to the state of his inner impulses, he thinks this must be true religion; yet very possibly he had been in this state a long time before he saw it. He started selfishly, but lost his selfishness before the wonderful cross of the Savior! He dropped it there, when he saw and believed the love that God hath toward us. Then and thenceforward his religion became entirely spontaneous. He gave himself up to prayer for others. Neither hope nor fear is uppermost in his mind; but the love of God and the love of man -- these are quite first and uppermost in all the inner workings of his mind. All his religion is spontaneous. He loves his work because he is unified with Christ in His great enterprise and in the all-controlling benevolence of His heart.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 280 272 Lecture VII. License, Bondage and Liberty ...

License differs essentially from liberty. License is selfishness unrestrained by moral considerations--a state in which men do as they list, with no fear of God before their eyes, and follow out their own selfish ends without moral restraint.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 281 272 Lecture VII. License, Bondage and Liberty ...

Its characteristics are,


1. An undeveloped conscience. They have had so little moral training that their views on moral questions are yet immature, or merely negative, and not infrequently erroneous. To this class I once belonged. Many things which I have since regarded as gross sins, gave me then no trouble. My conscience was undeveloped. Nothing had then transpired to develop it. Some of my earliest impressions of moral restraint were produced by seeing my mother weep because my father would let his sons go to the lake fishing on the Sabbath. Her tears reminded me forcibly that there was something wrong in this. I was then old enough to know all about such matters of duty, but not having my attention turned to these subjects, I remained practically as if I had no conscience.
 
2. Others have only a seared conscience. These go on much as if they had no conscience at all, although they may have had a conscience very considerably developed. They can recollect when they could not lie or swear. Tempted, they were often obliged to refrain by the demands of conscience. Now they are inclined perhaps to smile over their former notions.
 
3. Others are not restrained, although ever so much upbraided. They have no faith in the great things revealed of God. Indeed they act as if there were no God, for although they admit His existence, they allow it to have no practical influence on their minds. They have no practical regard for what is morally right. Having no vivid sense of moral obligation, their minds are wholly open to the impulses of selfishness. If they forbear to cheat, lie, or steal, it is not through any moral consideration, but under the influence of some form of selfishness. They manifest the spirit of license in this particular, that conscience has no practical control over them. The desire to do good has no influence. They do not care to do any good, although they know they have the power and the opportunity.

Here let me stop and ask, how it is with you in this respect? What testimony do your heart and life bear when tried by such tests as these? Are you living as you know you ought not to live? Are you doing what your conscience condemns? Are you going on in your own way, despite of all God may require, under a spirit of moral recklessness? Let this matter be inquired into. You may not be reckless as to other considerations; but if you are so as to moral considerations, the fact ought to alarm you. If the motives which ought to control you fail of doing so, your heart must be fearfully wrong. If your condition is such that others, in order to influence you, must appeal to something besides conscience, and the sense of duty, you may know that you are far gone in moral recklessness and ruin.


4. It is curious to see how this downward tendency acts on the moral nature. The perception of moral principles grows dim; moral relations seem to fade away gradually from the mind. The man will tell you he doubts whether such and such things are sinful at all. He does not quite see how there need be any wrong in them. If you try to point out to him their moral qualities and relations, you are amazed to find, that his perceptions on such questions are so dull that you cannot make him see a sin. This is naturally the state of all those who have the spirit of license, for if persons have clear, sharp moral perceptions, they will fall into one of the two later classes. The men of license you will find have but few moral principles. Singularly, you will see that these principles have dropped out of their mind, until there is little of that sort left. They can now laugh over the commission of sins which once made them sweat with agony. All moral principles become lax in their minds. Things once deemed wrong they learn to excuse; look back on their former scruples as superstitious and foolish; and talk largely of their "progress"--little thing, alas, that their way of progress is towards hell.
 
5. Persons in youth, having the spirit of license, will manifest in it their pleasure loving tendencies, and in their passion for dress. Amusement is often their chief delight, and of course their spirit of license develops itself in this direction. What, they say, were we not made that we might enjoy ourselves? Does not God like to see us happy? But if you search carefully into their state of mind you will see that they are "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God;" that they care little as to what will please God, but much for what will please themselves. They know how to excuse anything which it pleases them to do.
 
6. Developments of the same reckless spirit vary according to age and tastes. As the young are pleasure-loving, the middle-aged are covetous and money-loving; or perhaps they aspire after distinction in their professions. Whither the heart goes, in that direction, you will find the spirit of license in sin developing itself. Under such a state of moral feeling, men will be sure to leave a broad margin for deviations from moral right. They can justify a great many dishonest ways of getting gain; or of promoting their favorite schemes of ambition.

It is striking and sad to see how their worldly-mindedness can deface and even efface all their notions of right and of wrong; how they will plead for sin; defend various forms of sin and indulgence; roll their sin as a sweet morsel under the tongue--unscrupulously violate the Sabbath--allow themselves almost any amount of latitude in their direction, especially if among strangers; take a little strong drink and say--What's the harm if nobody knows it and it brings no disgrace? In business, what will they not do if they can escape detection? If there is danger of detection, they will call it a mistake and rectify it,--a thing they never do for the sake of the moral principle. In political life, they manage any way to subserve their ends, their object being, never the general good, but always their own personal interests. In whatever form of self-seeking, they care not for the eye of God, nor for the dictates of conscience.


7. The law of progress with all men of this class is from bad to worse. If you notice where they started and trace along their secret history, you will see this distinctly and fearfully illustrated. You, young men, who yield yourselves to sin, do you not see that your law of progress is from bad to worse? And you, young women, if you give yourselves up to license in sin?

Some of you have been almost surfeited with religious instruction. You have heard prayers enough and have seen tears enough to melt any heart but yours. Where will you be when once removed forever from these restraints and given up to the full sweep of that fearful law of downward progress?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 285 272 Lecture VII. License, Bondage and Liberty ...

In swift obedience move--"

and this obedience is the highest freedom and the purest blessedness. When the heart is right it asks nothing wrong, and men have only to go according to their heart; or more strictly, they have only to follow the Lord, and to this the heart makes no resistance but yields with the utmost delight.


2. But those whose hearts are yet in sin, yet who do a bond-service--for God as they suppose, but really for self; they would fain lessen their religious services if they might. They would stay away from religious meetings if it would do. They lust for the fleshpots of Egypt, and would return thither if they dared. They are in bondage to their consciences. For the sake of peace with conscience, they conform to its dictates in part, in the way of compromise, pleading to be let off as much as possible, and making the best turns they can, as men are wont to do with a hard master.

Again, this class are in bondage to God, serving Him, so far as they render Him any service, in the spirit of slaves, not of sons. They think they must be religious, or do worse, and they are afraid of the worse alternative. They would do many things which God forbids, but they dare not. Hence they submit, yet the heart yields only the form of service.


3. They are in bondage to the church. They are afraid of censure. To have Christians watch over them is about equivalent to having spies environing their path. So far from rejoicing to have the kind and watchful eye of brethren and sisters on them, they feel this to be an unwelcome restraint.

Now, beloved, how does this test apply to your heart?


4. This class abound in resolutions. These constitute their principal Christian exercises. To make resolutions and to break them; to endeavor, yet to fail to perform; to resolve and resolve, yet go on as ever--this is their religious history. The reason is, they never break up the deep foundations of selfishness and let their souls settle down into the great depths of benevolence.
 
5. They are often greatly pressed with conviction, a deep sense of sin troubles them; conscience upbraids; they say, or omit to say many things for which they condemn themselves, and hence they feel exceedingly uneasy. If they are students they scarcely get a lesson. In fact they are simply convicted sinners, not converted saints.

Again, their knowledge of their own case controls the judgment they form of others, and hence they judge others harshly. They cannot conceive how a Christian can smile without sin. They do not understand that buoyancy of spirit which is so congenial to the peaceful Christian. Always dissatisfied with themselves, how can they be satisfied with others? Always conscious of doing wrong, how can they, naturally, judge otherwise of their friends? Their own mind screwed up under a feeling of bondage and a sense of constraint, they give no credit for honest piety to those who walk peacefully and calmly in the light of the Savior's presence. Spontaneously forming harsh judgments, first of themselves, and next of others, they have no idea what a change would come over these judgments of others if once they were to come themselves into gospel liberty. Set these bond-servants to the work of Christian discipline; they almost never reclaim or reform the offender. It is quite beyond their power to love him down--for the love is not in them.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 297 272 Lecture VII. License, Bondage and Liberty ...

5. Young men who have not associated with Christians who were in gospel liberty and acting under the impulses of love, will almost always have false conceptions of religion. Their idea of it will lack the amenities and the charities of the true gospel life. They do not see how anybody can be in such a state as not to lust after the flesh-pots of selfishness. They have no conception of that state in which the soul rises to a new class of aspirations and sympathies--in which it ascends far above the murky and foul atmosphere of earth, and bathes itself in the love and the light of heaven. They need to come into close communion with Christians who are in this state before they can properly appreciate the idea of religion.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 311 304 Lecture VIII. Living by Faith ...

1. Natural faith--such as unconverted men have in men and things--is useful to society--to the ends of business--to the comfort, not to say, the subsistence, of families. It is always useful so far as it goes, yet it is not virtue, for it does not have respect to God, to his character, or his law. It may be good and useful, yet not be virtue, for it co-exists with selfishness and with enmity to God. Pirates may, nay must have it; yet are pirates, therefore, good citizens!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 337 323 Lecture IX. God's Commandments Not Grievous ...

Again, if we were required to secure any given end and the requisite means were not within our reach, and are not furnished us by the Power that makes the requisition; if we were required to make brick without straw, or to convert the world without the requisite agencies and powers, and the commands were enforced by heavy penalties, this must be regarded as greatly grievous.


4. Or, if the command were unadapted to our nature or opposed to our highest and best interests; or if the possibility of obeying it were precluded by our circumstances, or by our relations, and we are laid under the burden of heavy penalties to do these things, this would be truly grievous. We could not possibly regard it otherwise.
 
5. We should regard a commandment grievous if it required anything more than honest intention and best endeavor, inasmuch as whatever lies outside of and beyond this must be impossible to us. What we cannot do with the best intention and the utmost endeavor, we cannot do at all. This, therefore, would be grievous.
 
6. Or yet again, if the interests to be protected by law were of vast importance, and yet were protected by only a slight penalty, such a law might well be deemed grievous by those who had interests demanding protection. You would regard it as a most grievous law which should propose to protect your life by a penalty of only 37 1/2 cents.
 
7. Or if a trifling end were set up, but a fearful penalty were attached, this also would be grievous.

II. When a commandment is not grievous.


1. It is not grievous merely because it conflicts with our unreasonable desires. If the desires are contrary to reason, it is not unreasonable that laws should cross them.
 
2. Law is not grievous because opposed to the selfishness of men. A precept may be perfectly, infinitely opposed to selfishness, and yet be far from being grievous.
 
3. It is not grievous because of its being opposed to our self-will. A self-will that is arbitrary and capricious is no standard by which to judge of law.
 
4. Law is not grievous when it merely opposes what conscience also opposes. If law does not conflict with a good and sound conscience, all is right, for conscience is the reason judging on moral subjects--the faculty constituted of God for this end. If conscience be for it, therefore, it cannot be grievous.
 
5. No law is grievous which requires only that which is for our highest good. This, our reason necessarily affirms.
 
6. If the object of the precept is to secure our own highest good, it cannot be regarded by us as grievous, for its spirit is altogether good.

Now do not say that in these statements I am dogmatizing. I am only affirming self-evident propositions. They need only a clear statement to appear to every mind self-evident.


7. If the law forbids nothing except what would be injurious to us, it is all right.
 
8. If it requires us to deny ourselves for the good of others, all is right, provided this self-denial will be for our own highest good. If it will be greater good to us than the sacrifice is an evil; if the self-denial, though real and great, gives us back more than an equivalent, the law which requires it is by no means grievous. Especially is this true if the self-denial not only gives us a greater good, but is an essential and only means of securing our highest good. By no means can this be deemed grievous, requiring of us a self-denial, of which the more we exercise, the greater good we secure.
 
9. A law is not grievous where it requires of us simple honesty--a regard to the rights of others, equal to our regard for our own. This cannot be grievous. This may be honest and right if it requires no more of us than we require of others conscientiously. Who can pronounce such a commandment to be grievous?

I shall proceed by and by to enquire whether God's commandments have these qualities and this character; but at present, I am discussing the subject only in its general and abstract form. So doing, we may perhaps better establish the principles that underlie the subject.


10. A command cannot be said to be grievous when it requires of us only the reasonable employment of all we have and are. For so much is reasonable, no matter what the particular service may be under the circumstances. It were a contradiction to say it is unreasonable to require a reasonable service of active powers, made for useful action, or of means of usefulness, put in our hands by our Creator.
 
11. That cannot be unreasonable or grievous which simply requires of us a right voluntary state. We know ourselves to have a free will, the power to originate our own volitions. This is a thing of which we are absolutely certain from our consciousness. We do not certainly know that we can move our own muscles. The law of connection between the will and the muscles is sometimes suspended. You might find it to be so in any effort you might make. But you know you can control your own will. You may try this at any time; and you will find it so. You also believe and assume it to be so, of everybody else, of sane and sound mind.
 
12. Now, therefore, if God's love requires of you only a right state of your will, and those acts and states which follow naturally from a right state of the will, no man can reasonably feel that this is grievous, or can honestly pronounce it to be so.
 
13. A commandment is not grievous when it requires nothing capricious, nothing unnecessary, nothing hard to the well-disposed; and threatens disobedience with only the proper penalties.

Again, it cannot be deemed grievous when we could not be satisfied if it required nothing less than it does; when we ourselves, in all honesty, are constrained to say, it is all right; but if anything less were required, or if its requisitions were enforced by a less penalty, we should say--it is wrong. Especially if we are aware that any other course than that indicated in the precept would be hard or even ruinous--hard in the sense in which sin is hard, and ruinous in the sense in which sin is ruinous.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 340 323 Lecture IX. God's Commandments Not Grievous ...

Negatively, as to what they are not and do not require.


1. Not one of them requires anything above the use of our own powers, and nothing which goes beyond the dictates and approval of our own reason. The precepts of the law and of the gospel are identical in spirit and in general character, neither requiring of us anything more than we can do, nor anything not in harmony with our reason.
 
2. God's law does not require us to undo anything we have done that is wrong--in the season of putting it back to its position before being done. This might be, and usually would be, impossible. God only requires us to undo our present wrong purposes and states of mind; the wrong deeds of the past. He has provided a way to forgive; the present wrong of our heart He makes our concern.
 
3. He does not require us to make satisfaction for the wrong done, either by atonement, or by making up for the wrong we have done.
 
4. He does not require us to save ourselves and secure the salvation of our own souls, without His aid and grace. He neither requires or expects that we shall save anybody else by our own wisdom or efforts. He knows this is naturally impossible.
 
5. He does not ask us to work out a legal righteousness for the future. He does not make perfect obedience to law the condition of our salvation. This, if required, would be grievous, inasmuch as we have entirely broken the law and forfeited all hope in that direction.
 
6. Nor does He require us to fulfil the law in the future without reference to His grace, and without His aid, presented in the gospel. Nor does He demand that we shall bear our own burdens, overcome our temptations, and fight our spiritual battles--without His grace, guidance and strength. He does not expect us to be our own guide, to find our own way, and to create our own success.

Again, God requires nothing that will in the least mar our own happiness, or interfere with our true interests. Nothing inconsistent with our highest progress in true improvement; nothing that naturally retards our rapid advancement in all that is good.


7. He does not require us to love Him above our ability.

The law specifies--"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind and with all thy strength." With whose mind--and whose strength? Only thine own. And with how much of this mind and strength? Only with all. Nothing more. It were simply absurd to say that this is impossible; and therefore it is impious to think or speak of it as grievous.


8. The law does not require us to regard and treat our Heavenly Father in any respect better than He deserves to be treated, and never better than we know He deserves, or than we affirm that we ought to treat Him. When we can honestly and conscientiously be satisfied with ourselves as to our treatment of God, He will be satisfied. No one shall ever be able, honestly, to say--"I think Thou requirest me to obey to love Thee more than Thou deservest to be obeyed and loved." There is nothing in either law or gospel which requires anything beyond the legitimate demands of our own reason. Nay more; the law appeals to him in its own vindication and makes his own conscience the rule. God appeals to every moral agent to judge for himself what is right. "Are not My ways equal, says He; are not your ways unequal?" "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God?" So throughout the Scripture God makes His appeal to man's own mind to judge for himself of the rectitude of the law imposed on him and of the equity of the threatened penalty. Who then should say that the spirit of His government is overbearing, capricious, unreasonable? Who can regard His commandments grievous?

Again, God never requires His interests to be estimated above their real value. Yet some think God to be very selfish, in requiring everybody to love Him. But what less could He require? God does not ask you to love Him more than He deserves to be loved; nor more than it is right you should love Him. This love which God requires of you towards Himself is good-willing, and it has intrinsically for its object the happiness of sentient beings, and should be in proportion to the amount of being, so to speak, which each individual may have; or (which amounts to the same result) to the amount of happiness each is capable of enjoying. Now God's capacity for happiness is infinite and therefore is an end of infinite value and rightly claims the utmost good-willing of all created beings. When God asks you to love Him supremely, He only asks you to love Him in proportion to the importance of the object--on His own happiness. If His interests are supreme, why not accord to them your supreme regard?


9. But He requires of you also the love of complacency; a delight in His character as good. He asks that this should be supreme, and why should He not? Is He not infinitely worthy of your complacency and regard?
 
10. Yet further; God never requires us to regard any interest not known, or which we are not capable of knowing; nor does He ask us to regard any interest beyond its perceived or perceivable value. Thus universally, God measures His demands by our powers of obedience, love and service. He never requires us to do things we cannot reach and grasp; never, to treat Him with any more confidence than He deserves, nor to love Him when He is unworthy of our love, or at all beyond His worthiness.
 
11. God's requisitions upon us never go beyond our honest convictions of what they should be. He does not require things, the propriety of which is to our own minds questionable. He is never despotic, never tyrannical. His intelligent creatures are always under the conviction that God's will ought to be obeyed and ought to be the universal law. He requires of no creature of His in any world more obedience or love than His own intelligence sees and affirms to be right.
 
12. No one can rightly ask of us any more or other feelings than those which naturally result from right intentions and a right state of the will. The feelings, it should be considered, are involuntary and therefore are not directly controlled by the will; yet they are so related to the will that certain feelings naturally follow a right state of the will and certain other feelings, a wrong state. Hence moral responsibility truly attaches to the state of the will; and it is on this principle that God acts, declaring that "if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted."
 
13. In accordance with this, God never requires any other action or course of life except what naturally flows from right intention. Hence He lays His requisitions on the will or heart, requiring only that this be right and thus virtually requiring its natural results and out-flowings.

IV. What God's law does require.


1. An equitable state of mind; one that regards every known interest according to our judgment of its value. God requires us to regard the universal good of each being according to its perceived value. This is an equitable and right state of mind. It is a voluntary and a simple state of mind, a mere unit. Instead of being embarrassed with points of casuistry, it comes to you asking only that you give your heart to God and merge your will in homage to His because His is infinite reason. It simply requires you to regard all interests according to their perceived value. If your neighbors interests are equal to your own, regard them so; if less, regard them less; if greater, regard them more. God never requires any being to sacrifice his own interest for a less valuable interest of another. Hence, when He requires of us universal benevolence, this does not demand that we love others and not ourselves--God and not ourselves; but only each, according to its value. Hence this law never drops from regard our own interest, but most effectually secures it.
 
2. This Christian, virtuous, life, is the natural and certain result of the state of mind which drops selfishness, and puts self and all other interests in their proper places. You have only to maintain that state of mind and abide in it; then your acts and state will meet the entire demands of the law.
 
3. Let us now look into the gospel. This requires the same as the law, and something more. It comes, in most inviting and impressive form, to win us back to the love and obedience which the law enjoins. Its special requisition for this end is that we receive the Holy Ghost as the condition and means of practical obedience and a practical realization of the great result of holiness in heart and life. Man needs such an influence; therefore God provides it. Whatever else did or did not occur at the fall of man in Eden, it is plain that the Holy Ghost was grieved. Man tore himself away from his God and from communion with Him, so that God no longer dwelt within him. But now God is seeking to restore that state of communion and fellowship. He now returns to man in the person of His Spirit, and asks of the sinner to open his heart and make this Heaven agent welcome.
 
4. I need not here speak of the case of those who know not the gospel, only to say that all such are plainly under the law only, and not under the gospel. They have the work of the law written in their heart; and by this light they stand or fall. But of us, who have the gospel, God requires that we should receive the Holy Ghost. Some will say--is not this unreasonable? No; for the Holy Ghost is not far away in some remote quarter of the universe where you cannot reach Him, but is present, and needs only be made welcome and He will take up His abode with you. He comes in connection with His word, to teach, enforce and impress it; and the thing for you to do is to yield yourself to the conviction of the truth, thus revealed. To yield to truth, is to yield to God. When the Bible shows you that you ought to believe and trust God, then to do this is to yield to the Spirit of God and to welcome His presence to your heart. When you know that you ought to give up your sins, then to yield to this conviction is to consent to the claims of His Spirit and to receive it to your soul. Else you resist the Holy Ghost. He does not expect you to rise of yourself and without His aid from the state of death in which you are plunged, but requires you to receive the Holy Ghost, and continually, to yield to every conviction of duty. By presentation of the truth, He draws; you are to yield; He constrains; you acquiesce. He requires you to be led and filled with the Spirit; to lean on Him and to avail yourself of His help. He bids you obey His perfect law; and by this divine agency, offered through the Spirit, He provides all requisite aid and strength for this purpose. This provision is both full and free. If it were otherwise, you might find or feel it hard to be required to be filled with the Holy Ghost. If you must needs ascend into heaven to bring Him down, or descend into the deep to bring Him up, this might be grievous. But only to receive a present and offered Spirit; how can you think this hard? Jesus comes to restore and reinstate you in holiness and love; does He require you to do all this unaided? He neither expects nor requires it. He tenders to you His advocacy; proposes to advocate your cause without cost. Are you rich? Give to your suffering fellow men and please God therein; Are you poor? He requires of you only according to what you have.
 
5. He does not require you to live an anxious distracted life, bearing all your own burdens alone, but has permitted you to be "without carefulness," casting all your care upon Him. He gives you the fullest permission to let the peace of God rule in your heart; and is this a hard thing? Is this state of mind a hard and grievous one? Jesus said--"My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you." The men of the world give sparingly, grudgingly; they give today and take back tomorrow; but not so does Christ give to His friends. Is this grievous?
 
6. He says--"Rejoice always." Many seem to think religion only fit for sick-beds and funeral occasions, and they say, "What have we to do with a religion so gloomy? Must we forego all our enjoyments? How grievous that would be!" The "righteous should make their boast in Him and be glad." In His salvation, let them "exceedingly rejoice." God invites them to look up to Him hopefully, never desponding, much less despairing. If He had required you to rejoice in worldly pleasure and be happy in the good things of earth, this were indeed a hard saying and a grievous commandment.
 
7. But I have heard some of you say--"God wants nothing to do with me; He has utterly cast me off; How then can I believe and trust in Him? I have abused Him too long." Mark; God asks of you no such feelings, no such thoughts. On the contrary He only asks you to take Him at His word and welcome to your soul a full salvation. He gives you the full consolation of believing. Is this grievous?
 
8. He requires you to embrace every dispensation with a kiss; to believe that all things shall work together for your good; and so believing, to rejoice in all your afflictions and tribulations.
 
9. Of you, sinner, He requires that you should come today and bring all your load of guilt to Him. Come, however deeply conscious of much past sin; come and hold your soul under the flowing stream of His redeeming blood. And is this hard? Is this too bad? Is it too bad that He should forgive so freely and tender you the waters of life without money or price? He does not require you to hear a great many sermons or make a great many impenitent prayers.

But you say--"Lord, if I were a Christian, I would come at once to Thee; but now, I must certainly make myself better before I come." "No," says your Savior; "come now. Make no delay; offer no excuses for refusal." "Can I come, you say, without His help?" Is He not helping you even now? Suppose I should sit sullenly down and refuse to move, when everything is ready and nothing wanting but the action of my own will? Suppose I should then plead that I lacked the power and that I must wait! What nonsense!

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 372 364 Lecture X. The Wages of Sin ...


I. An illustration will give us the best practical view of the nature of sin.


1. You have only to suppose a government established to secure the highest well-being of the governed, and of the ruling authorities also. Supposed the head of this government to embark all his attributes in the enterprise--all his wealth, all his time, all his energies--to compass the high end of the highest general good. For this purpose, he enacts the best possible laws--laws which, if obeyed, will secure the highest good of both subject and Prince. He then takes care to affix adequate penalties; else all his care and wisdom must come to naught. He devotes to the interests of his government all he is and all he has, without reserve or abatement.

But some of his subjects refuse to sympathize with this movement. They say, "charity begins at home," and they are for taking care of themselves in the first place. In short they are thoroughly selfish.


2. It is easy to see what this would be in a human government. The man who does this becomes the common enemy of the government and of all its subjects. This is sin. This illustrates precisely the case of the sinner. Sin is selfishness. It sets up a selfish end, and to gain it, uses selfish means; so that in respect to both its end and its means, it is precisely opposed to God and to all the ends of general happiness which He seeks to secure. It denies God's rights; discards God's interests. Each sinner maintains that his own will shall be the law. The interest he sets himself to secure is entirely opposed to that proposed by God in his government.
 
3. All law must have sanctions. Without sanctions, it would be only advice. It is therefore essential to the distinctive and inherent nature of law that it have sanctions.

These are either remuneratory, or vindicatory. They promise reward for obedience, and they also threaten penalty for disobedience. They are vindicatory, inasmuch as they vindicate the honour of the violated law.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 442 429 Lecture XII. Where Sin Occurs God Cannot Wisely Prevent It ...

Thus the impossibility of preventing sin lies not in the sinner, but wholly with God. Sin, it should be remembered, is nothing else than an act of free will, always committed against one's conviction of right. Indeed if a man did not know that selfishness is sin, it would not be sin in his case.


9. Once more, sin is always committed against and in despite of motives of infinitely greater weight than those which induce to sin. The very fact that his conscience condemns the sin is his own judgment on the question, proving that in his own view the motives to sin are infinitely contemptible when put in the scale to measure those against the sin in question. Every sinner knows that sin is a willful abuse of his own powers as a moral agent--of those noblest powers of his being in view of which he is especially said to be made in the image of God. Made like God with these exalted attributes, capable of determining his own voluntary activities intelligently if he will;--in accordance with his reason and his conscience if he will;--he yet in every act of sin abuses and degrades these powers, tramples down in the very dust the image of God enstamped on his being, and with the capacities of becoming an angel, makes himself a fool. Clothed with a dignity of nature akin to that of his Maker, he chooses to debase himself to the level of brutes and of devils. With a face naturally looking upwards--with an intelligence that grasps the great truths of God;--with a reason that postulates and affirms the great necessary principles involved in his moral duties and relations;--with capacities which fit him to sit on a nation's throne; he yet says--Let me take this glorious image of God and debase it in the dust! Let me cast myself down, till there shall be no lower depth of degradation to which I can sink!
 
10. Sin is in every instance a dishonoring of God. This every sinner must know. It casts off his authority, spurns his advice, maltreats his love. Truly does God himself say--"A son honoreth his father and a servant his master; if then I be a father, where is mine honor? and if I be a master, where is my fear?"

What sinner ever supposed that God neglects to do anything He wisely can do to prevent sin? If this be not true, what is conscience but a lie and a delusion? Conscience always affirms that God is clear of all guilt in reference to sin. In every instance in which conscience condemns the sinner, it necessarily must and actually does fully acquit God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 497 476 Lecture XIII. The Ways of Sin Hard; Of Holiness, Pleasant ...

V. Religion is altogether a natural state of mind, easy, peace-giving and delightful. Its exercises are in entire accordance and with our constitutional nature and with the nature and relations of things.


1. In a religious state of mind, man is in harmony with himself. Each function of his active powers performs its appropriate work, without friction and irritation. The affirmations of reason and the monitions of conscience are heard with quiet joy and are duly honored. The legitimate demands of animal nature are met, and the soul is not thereby brought into bondage. The social law of his nature finds ample scope in the new and glorious field of communion with the Father and with the Son Jesus Christ. A truly religious man is in harmony with God and with all His manifestations. He loves the law; he loves the gospel. Seeing God in all the ways of His providence he rejoices to know that here too is the land of his Father, doing all things well. Thus coming into contact with God in every point, and being at peace and in harmony with all God is and does, how can he be otherwise than blessed?
 
2. By the same natural law, his relations towards his fellow beings are all easy and naturally peaceful. He accords to them, to each and to all,--their rights, and does it with real gratification. He enjoys seeing and making them happy. Hence he does not come into collision with them, as a selfish man is likely to, everyday. In reference to them also, his own mind feels self-respect, instead of being harassed with self-reproaches. Thus he finds himself at peace with all the universe of created beings, and each one, as he becomes known, heightens the peace and joy of his soul. His mind works in harmony with all true motives; conscience smiles on his soul all along his way. It is a sunny way; for God sheds the light of His face upon it; all holy beings shine and smile upon it. This representation is true not occasionally and under special circumstances only, but necessarily and always where true piety prevails.
 
3. Old bad habits are molded and yielded as soon as the will and conscience come fully under the power of this law of love to God and man. Consequently, the tone of his mind becomes more and more easy and flowing, as the selfishness that chafes and irritates is subdued and rooted out. His bosom becomes the natural home of peace and joy, intruders and disturbers being thrust out.
 
4. The Bible represents this course as like the shining light of morning, which, from the faintest streaks, shineth more and more unto the perfect day. This is its natural law. Joy and peace must advance with progress in obedience and self-subjugation to God's will. This state must be intensely delightful because all the work in which God calls the Christian to engage is pleasant, and just what he most of all loves. These are not the labors of a slave, but of a free man, working for an object, with a heart and therefore "with a will." He makes God's glory his own end, the very thing in which he chiefly delights. Hence all he has to do is to promote his own highest interests, for he has identified his own highest interests with God's honor.
 
5. He has a glorious fellowship. No longer in universal warfare with God, and all the good in heaven and in earth, he is at peace with all, and in most refreshing sympathy. His enemies now are not the good and the mighty, but the bad and the weak. God is on his side, and his friends have God on their side. Against him are the world, the flesh and the devil; but for him are friends, more and mightier,--God, his angels, and all the good in earth or heaven. Well and fitly does the Bible speak of him as "more than a conqueror through Him who has loved us."
 
6. The scriptures do not deny that the good man has conflicts. No, they really recognize this fact; but they provide for him all the armor he wants; and pledge him the strong aid of the Almighty God besides.

I am speaking now of a state of true religion, not of legality. Many seem to misunderstand this subject. They talk as if this world must be dull and comfortless, and as if God had made it as bad as He well could. But this is a most blasphemous representation. When the Bible speaks of the present state as a warfare, it always represents the believing soul as gaining victories through Jesus Christ, his Lord. He conquers through abounding grace, and thus finds peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.

VI. On the contrary a course of sin is a hard state.


1. The way of transgressors, we have the best authority for saying, is hard. It is all unnatural, in the sense of a violation of the laws of our being. It deranges and tramples down each and every one of these laws. The mind conflicts with itself and wars perfectly against its own judgment and conscience. It also wars upon its own best interests; and not least, against the truth. God made the human mind to move in harmony with truth. But sin is a state of eternal antagonism against truth, and therefore must inevitably be one of disquiet and wretchedness.
 
2. This state of sin is necessarily one of warfare with all the wicked, for selfish men are by natural law at loggerheads with each other. Each man, having a supremely selfish interest to maintain, finds himself thoroughly in conflict with every other supremely selfish man. Notice their locks and bolts and bars. See how they build up their walls of protection against each other. The laws they make against all forms of selfish aggression upon property and the care they manifest to put everything in writing, show that they have no confidence in wicked men as generally honest. Surely God does not make men to devour each other like beasts of prey. Nor did He make man to live like the swine, regarding the indulgence of his appetites and passions as his chief concern. Surely such a course of living must be for man, such as he is made, most unnatural.
 
3. Sin is, of course, a constant warfare against God and against all the interests of God's great family and kingdom.

I said it was a state of universal warfare. And truly there is not a being, not a creature under heaven, against whom the sinner is not at war. He fights every man, every beast. He would lay the whole universe under contribution to minister to his own selfish enjoyment. He would lay his commands on God if he could. If he resorts to prayer instead of command, it is only because he finds he cannot command to any purpose. He prays only in hope thereby to make God his own servant. He cares no more for God than for the devil, only as His aid may be of more value to himself. If he could, how soon would he engross the universe to make it subservient to his own selfish ends! Gladly would he command and appropriate all the fishes of the sea and the cattle of a thousand hills. If it might subserve his own selfish ends, he would blot out the sun in the heavens, little caring how many equally good with himself were thereby doomed to eternal darkness. But you say--"Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?" "I never thought of doing such things!" Stay! Let me tell you the only reason why you have not. It is only because you have never supposed you could. Just as you have never thought of being king of England or President of the United States; yet if the way were open and you could reach either of these summits or power by a little sacrifice of your conscience, would you not do it? Certainly you would! Who would trust you to be disinterested and to act according to a sound conscience? No man. But what have you not done? A man who would do a little meanness for a sixpence would do a great villainy for a kingdom. A man who would quibble for a cent would do more than quibble for governmental office and patronage.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 502 476 Lecture XIII. The Ways of Sin Hard; Of Holiness, Pleasant ...

1. It is easy to see why the Bible always represents sinners as being fools. "Madness is in their hearts while they live." "The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God." Such is its language; and the reason of it we can realize in their vain and foolish labor. Solomon set his heart to exhaust every fountain of earthly good. No man can hope to have better facilities for the work than he, or more ample resources. He left on record the results of all his experiments. One word tells the story: "Vanity!" "Vanity of vanities;--all is vanity!" It was not through any failure of means for making a fair trial: it was a necessary failure; a failure founded in the nature of things; in the utter lack of adaptation in such objects, so sought, to satisfy a being so constituted. Man's nature cannot be altered. His relations as a subject of God's government, and as a member of society, are changeless. Hence, if he gives himself up to selfishness, he defeats himself, and only all the more certainly by how much the more ample his resources and elevated his position. The higher he stands, the more he interferes with other interests, and the more palpably he violates the laws of social order.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1854 paragraph 508 476 Lecture XIII. The Ways of Sin Hard; Of Holiness, Pleasant ...

Sometimes the sinner throws a loose rein on his selfishness, and allows himself in little dishonesties in business. Soon he finds himself uneasy, suspected, and withal, troubled in conscience. A hard time has he, when his old friends begin to say in under tones, "It is best to look out for him; he may possibly be an honest man, but we had better look sharp." Soon there comes down upon him a chilling suspension of confidence, and if he never did before, he does now find that the way of the transgressor is hard.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1855 paragraph 180 158 Lecture V. On Prayer for The Holy Spirit ...

3. Often your motive in asking for the Spirit is merely personal comfort and consolation--as if you would live all your spiritual life on sweet-meats. Others ask for it really as a matter of self-glorification. They would like to have their names emblazoned in the papers. It would be so gratifying to be held up as a miracle of grace--as a most remarkable Christian. Alas, how many in various forms of it, are only offering selfish prayers! Even a minister might pray for the Holy Spirit from only sinister motives. He might wish to have it said that he is very spiritual, or a man of great spiritual power in his preaching or his praying; or he might wish to avoid that hard study to which a man who has not the Spirit must submit, since the Spirit does not teach him, nor give him unction. He might almost wish to be inspired, so easy would this gift make his preaching and his study. He might suppose that he really longed to be filled with the Spirit, while really he is only asking amiss, to consume it on some unhallowed desire. A student may pray for the Spirit to help him study, and yet only his ambition or his indolence may have inspired that prayer. Let it never be forgotten, we must sympathize with God's reasons for our having the Spirit, as we would hope to pray acceptably. There is nothing mysterious about this matter. The great end of all God's spiritual administrations towards us in providence or grace is to divest us of selfishness, and to bring our hearts into harmony with his in the spirit of real love.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1855 paragraph 193 158 Lecture V. On Prayer for The Holy Spirit ...

6. Often the great difficulty in the way of Christian progress is an utter want of watchfulness. Some are so given to talking that they cannot hold communion with the Spirit of God. They have no leisure to listen to his "still small voice." Some are so fond of laughter, it seems impossible that their minds should ever be in a really serious frame. In such a mind, how can the Spirit of God dwell? Often in our Theological discussions, I am pained to see how difficult it is for persons engaged in dispute and mutual discussion, to avoid being chafed. Some of them are watchful and prayerful against this temptation, yet sometimes, we see persons manifestly fall before this temptation. If Christians do not shut down the gate against all abuse of the tongue, and, indeed against every form of selfishness, there is no hope that they will resist the devil and the world so far as to be conquerors at last.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1855 paragraph 262 248 Lecture VII. God Has No Pleasure In The Sinner's Death ...

God has no pleasure in the death of the sinner. He avers this, and even takes His solemn oath of it. Surely, it must have been His intention to make himself believed; and certainly He ought to be believed. "When He could swear by no greater, He swore by Himself." Such "an oath for confirmation should be an end to all strife" of conflicting opinions.

1. It is contrary to His very nature that He should take pleasure in the sinner's death. Indeed such is the nature of all moral beings that none of them can take pleasure in the misery of others, in itself considered. If any of them could, then might devils in hell find happiness in the misery of those whom they have brought into that place of torment. But the very laws of moral nature are such that it is painful to witness misery. Even the sufferings of the wicked in hell only aggravate, instead of lessening, the misery of the devil. He did not entice them there to enjoy their misery, but to vent his selfish spite against God. Yet, as always must happen, selfishness punishes itself, and the very thing Satan has done out of selfish hatred of God, will only augment his own eternal anguish. It is intrinsically contrary to the moral nature of any moral agent to enjoy the spectacle of suffering, apart from any other collateral source of enjoyment.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1855 paragraph 365 339 Lecture IX. On Injustice To Character ...

As to the sources whence unjust judgments arise, we may trace them,

1. To human selfishness. Men judge others by themselves. Being themselves selfish, they judge others to be so likewise. Nothing is more common than for men to regard others as selfish who will not give in to their own selfish demands. It is through their own selfishness that sinners mis-estimate God and withhold from Him the credit due for His loving-kindness. In the same manner they mis-estimate better men than themselves. They mis-conceive everybody's motives if those motives are of a higher moral grade than they are conscious of possessing.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1855 paragraph 379 339 Lecture IX. On Injustice To Character ...

2. This sin benumbs the religious sensibility. We should not wonder that one guilty of stealing should benumb his moral sensibility; and if he could bring his feelings to commit the crime of murder, we should expect him to be utterly callous to all tender and kind emotions; but it is too much overlooked -- strangely indeed -- that slanderers and all who can coolly inflict injustice on character, do utter violence to their own sensibility. They so benumb it that it refuses to move and act in its natural way. They become so hardened, they can sit under preaching that might almost electrify the very seats they sit on, and yet nothing moves their sensibility or their conscience. Go where you will among the churches, you see that this is one of their sorest evils. This sin fearfully stifles the voice of conscience, and perverts the moral judgment. Under its influence, men come to feel no compunction for this sin, and they also seem to lose that nice perception of evidence under which an unperverted mind judges uprightly of character. It is amazing to see of how slight evidence they will take up an evil report against a neighbor, and how incapable they become of judging righteously.

Again it augments the selfishness of the will. It is wonderful to see how the soul, under the sway of this sin, becomes committed to selfishness, loses all regard to others' rights and interests, and thus shuts itself up to the eternal dominion of the basest, purest selfishness. There cannot be a worse obstacle to conversion or to sanctification than this.

3. It destroys one's influence. It wounds the feelings of others, and puts them beyond the reach of your influence. What good can a minister do, or a deacon, if they allow themselves to injure the good name of their people! Sometimes a whisper, or even a look, will paralyze all the power and influence which a brother may have. It may break the arm of its strength so that it shall ever after hang useless by his side.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1855 paragraph 397 339 Lecture IX. On Injustice To Character ...

A man not just to character is not just to anything! He is a totally dishonest man, and just to nothing. If he appears to be just, it is an appearance only. What an appalling thought! There can be no stronger proof of radical dishonesty of character, and unmitigated selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1855 paragraph 432 410 Lecture X. God's Goodness Toward Men Basely Requited ...

The text has it - "They rewarded me evil for my good, and hatred for my love." Is this in accordance with the facts? Let us look at the position which sin takes towards God and the interests of His great family. Sin consists in selfishness. In all selfishness, the mind holds on to its own particular interests, real or supposed, and disregards the general interests in comparison with its own. But God, the Father of all, loving all equally, cannot endure selfishness in any one of them, for the good reason that it is intrinsically unjust and ruinous to interests which He loves and defends. He cannot bear to see one of His family outraging the rights of another one out of mere selfishness. This is the reason why He hates and withstands sin. It is not selfish in Him to take care of all the interests of His great family, nor to regard their general interests as of supreme importance, for they are really so. Consequently, it cannot be selfish in Him to maintain His own honor as King and Lord of all; for, unless He did, how could He rule His subjects so as to ensure their highest good? Hence, to be truly wise and good, He must maintain His dignity and authority against all the insults and abuses of selfish beings, and against all their encroachments on the interests of His great family. It should never be forgotten, that sin and selfishness are intrinsically unjust; - unjust to God and unjust to His creatures. This injustice God must and ought to oppose. Consequently, every being, persisting in his own selfishness, will fret against God and be rasped by unceasing collision with His righteous administration. It cannot be otherwise. A God who cares justly for all, must forever come into collision with creatures who care excessively for self. He will move on righteously; they will chafe and fret, selfishly; He, seeking evermore to secure the highest good of all; they seeking supremely the small and particular good of self as against all. Hence, it is impossible for a sinner remaining selfish, to deny that he renders to God evil for good. He opposes God for His love to all His great family. On this principle he opposes God's gospel - opposes His Law - opposes His Sabbaths - opposes His means of grace - opposes the course of His providence. Mark any one of these forms of opposition to God. See, for example, how men complain of God's providence. For what? Has God done anything wrong? They do not even pretend that He has. They act like bad children in a family, who are forever restive under a government which they know to be right, yet practically regard as wrong. You know how such children thwart all attempts for their good, rewarding their parents evil for all the good done and attempted to be done for themselves. What is all this rasping and fretting against God? Only selfishness working itself out in requiting God with evil for good - resisting measures which God adopts to bless His great family.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1855 paragraph 435 410 Lecture X. God's Goodness Toward Men Basely Requited ...

1. Would you, who remain in sin, be any better pleased if God should take a different course with you. What can He do to conciliate you? He would like to be at peace with you if He reasonably could, and never has sought a quarrel with you. Suppose He should abolish His law and not require you to obey Him in anything. Suppose He should not ask you to love your neighbor. Would this please you any better? To be released from all requisition from God to love your fellow-beings, would be quite a change; would you like it? You are not easy under His government now: would you have it reversed? Would you have God reverse the requisitions of His law and require you to hate instead of love your neighbor? Would you like this change? No. Your conscience would resist and condemn this new law not less than your selfish heart has resisted the old one. Yea, your whole moral nature would cry out against it. Especially when other selfish beings come down upon yourself, in obedience to this new law, you would exclaim against it as an infinite outrage. Nay, further, if God were merely to throw up the reins of government and leave every selfish being to prey upon your happiness as much as he pleased, you would cry out against even this as insufferable. You would say - Why does not God take care of His wicked creatures? Why does He not restrain their infamous selfishness? So, while you complain because God governs you to control your selfishness, you would complain infinitely more, and with some good reasons, too, if He were to do all what you demand for yourself! Let men alone, to be as selfish as they list.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1855 paragraph 504 475 Lecture XII. Men, Ignorant of God's Righteousness, Would Fain Establish Their Own ...

2. Many feel the need of becoming truly religious; they mean to be, and they set themselves to work for it in some way. Perhaps they set themselves to serve God, but have no right idea of what it is to be truly religious. Hence, we find so few who seem, in their own experience, to know the deep power of the gospel. Ah, the deep foundations of their selfishness are not broken up. They have never been made conformable to Christ's death. Hence, the difference between this class and those who are utterly cut down and slain by the law--then raised from the dead to a new life in Christ.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1856 paragraph 149 126 Lecture IV. The Wicked Stumbling in Their Darkness ...

12. Multitudes are stumbled by their selfish views of the whole matter of personal religion. Their whole conception of the plan of salvation makes it only an expedient to accommodate their sin, so that they can enjoy sin almost to the end of life, and then get religion enough to save their souls from hell. Have not some of you made this very mistake? Has not this been the great practical question with you; How long will it be prudent to neglect this great salvation? How long can I afford to run the personal risk of living in sin? So asking, your whole concern turns on self. You care not a farthing for God's feelings, or His rights. You have not the remotest idea of laying your soul and body on His altar, and making yourself truly a living sacrifice to the interests of His kingdom. All the love He has shown you seems to have no influence to draw you towards this earnest consecration to His service. A sinful heart makes men credulous as to falsehood, but incredulous as to truth. "How is it," said one, "that incredulity takes on such a type? Men are strangely incredulous as to what is good. They doubt the sincerity of this good man; but their doubts all look in only one direction, for they are most ridiculously credulous in admitting lies."

III. A few words should be said here as to the course that true wisdom dictates.

1. The facts of human consciousness in regard to man's selfishness and alienation from God should be thoroughly admitted and deeply studied.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1856 paragraph 239 215 Lecture VI. The Sinner's Natural Power and Moral Weakness ...

All this comes of bondage to base selfishness. Alas, that there should be so much of this in our world that public sentiment rarely estimates it anywise according to its real nature!

REMARKS.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1856 paragraph 265 250 Lecture VII. Moral Insanity ...

But, in moral questions, wicked men seem to take the utmost pains to subvert their own interests, and make themselves insolvent forever! O, how they beggar their souls, when they might have the riches of heaven.

6. Again, they endeavor to realize manifest impossibilities. For example, they try to make themselves happy in their sins and their selfishness. Yet they know they cannot do it. Ask them, and they will admit the thing is utterly impossible; and yet, despite of this conviction, they keep up the effort perpetually to try--as if they expected by and by to realize a manifest impossibility. Now, in moral things, it may not strike you as specially strange, for it is exceedingly common; but suppose, in matters of the world, you were to see a man doing the same sort of thing, what would you think of him? For example, you see him working hard to build a very long ladder, and you ask him what for? He says--"I am going to scale the moon." You see him expending his labor and his money, with the toil of a life to get up a mammoth ladder with which to scale the moon! Would you not say--he is certainly insane? For, unless he were really insane, he would know it to be an utter impossibility. But, in spiritual things, men are all the time trying to realize a result at least equally impossible--that of being happy in sin--happy with a mutiny among their own constitutional powers, the heart at war against reason and conscience. The pursuit of happiness in sin, is as if a man were seeking to bless himself by mangling his own flesh, digging out his own eyes, knocking in his teeth. Yet men as really know that they cannot obtain happiness in sin and selfishness, as they know they can not ensure health and comfort by mutilating their own flesh, and tearing their own nerves in sunder. Doing thus madly what they know will always defeat and never ensure real happiness, they show themselves to be morally insane.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1857 paragraph 59 12 Lectures I. & II.Owing God- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

6. Have you indeed? God has a right to demand of you towards men, even, unselfish benevolence. Have you had it? Have you been as unwilling to believe evil of your brother as to have him believe it of you? Have you treated his good name as you would have him treat yours? Have you been as jealous for his honor as for your own? Has the same been your habit and your life towards all men? Or has your justice towards your fellow-men been mere selfishness? You have not cheated your neighbor, you say; but if you lack the principle of honesty -- just that principle which will make you honest and upright towards God, it is absurd to suppose you have real honesty towards men. You have not done your duty towards your neighbor if you have neglected duty towards your God. "He that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much," and on a similar principle, he that is unjust in the great things (towards God) will not fail to be unjust in the least things -- those that look towards fellow-men.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1857 paragraph 130 68 Lectures III. & IV.On Sinning & On Being Holy- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

How strange that such men should think themselves fit for heaven! Christ said -- "Marvel not that I said unto you, ye must be born again." No marvel that men should need a radical change! Hearts so foreign from love, so full of selfishness -- how can such hearts dwell in heaven! The unholy man's hope of heaven -- how utterly absurd! What nonsense that men should cherish such hopes without any holiness to fit them for it! Just as if heaven were a certain place, of no peculiar character, and to go there would be to ensure one's bliss! You know better! You know something about the business and the delights of the Christian -- you know they are such as you delight not in. The Sabbath is no privilege to you. Rather you exclaim, "behold, what a weariness it is!" Social worship has no spiritual attractions for you. How then can you suppose that heaven would be a world of joy to you?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1857 paragraph 144 68 Lectures III. & IV.On Sinning & On Being Holy- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

11. Many insanely suppose that when they come to die, they shall be sanctified and prepared for heaven. Let us sit down by the bedside of such a man -- one who expects to be sanctified in death. What is he doing? What progress is he making? Would you speak kindly to him and enquire after his spiritual progress? But you must not allude to religion -- the doctor would not like to have you. He says it might retard the man's recovery. He wants his mind to be perfectly quiet and unthinking. It will not do therefore even to whisper the name of Jesus! And is it supposable that this dying man is taking hold vigorously of that blessed Name which you may not even whisper in his ear? Is he gaining the victory over the world by faith in the Lamb of God? Do you judge from what you see and hear that his soul is in a mighty struggle with the powers of selfishness and sin, a struggle in which faith in Jesus ensures the victory? Ah! he sinks -- he goes down, lower and lower; sometimes all consciousness seems to be lost; and can you think that in these dying hours, his soul is entering into sympathy with Christ -- is bursting away from the bands of temptation and taking hold with a mighty grasp of those exceeding great and precious promises? I do not ask you what you admit as to the possibility of miracles on a death-bed; but I ask if you think the circumstances are favorable for the mental effort which the nature of the case demands in renouncing sin and in receiving Jesus Christ by faith for sanctification?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1857 paragraph 215 185 Lecture VI. The Wrath of God Against Those Who Withstand His Truth ...

2. With sinners, the question of religion is one of loss and gain. But with Christians, it is only a question of right and duty towards God. This makes truth to him all important, and duty imperative. But the sinner only asks, "What shall I gain?" or "What shall I lose?" It is wholly a question of danger. Indeed so true is this that ministers often assume that the only availing motive with a sinner must be an appeal to his hopes and fears. They have mostly dropped out the consideration of right as between the sinner and God. They seem to have forgotten that so far forth as they stop short of the idea of right and appeal only to the sinner's selfishness, their influence tends to make spurious converts. For if men enter upon the Christian life only for gain in the line of their hopes and fears, you must keep up the influence of these considerations, and must expect to work upon these only. That is, you must expect to have selfish Christians and a selfish church. If you say to them, "This is your duty," they will reply -- "What have we ever cared for duty? We were never converted to the doctrine of doing our duty. We became Christians at all, only for the sake of promoting our own interests, and we have nothing to do in the Christian life on any other motive."

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1858 paragraph 263 246 Lecture VII. God's Love To Us ...

7. It was thus a part of the divine purpose to show us what true love is. And one said in prayer -- "We thank Thee, Father, that Thou hast given us Thy Son to teach us how to love." Yes, God would let us know that He Himself, is love, and hence that if we would be His children, we too must love Him and love one another. He would reveal His love so as to draw us into sympathy with Himself and make us like Him. Do you not suppose that a thorough consideration of God's love, as manifested in Christ, does actually teach us what love is, and serve to draw our souls into such love? The question is often asked -- How shall I love? The answer is given in this example. Herein is love! Look at it and drink in its spirit. Man is prone to love himself supremely. But there is a totally different sort of love from that. This love commends itself in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. How forcibly does this rebuke our selfishness! How much we need this lesson, to subdue our narrow selfishness, and shame our unbelief!

How strange it is that men do not realize the love of God! The wife of a minister who had herself labored in many revivals, said to me, "I never, till a few days since, knew that God is love." What do you mean? said I. "I mean that I never apprehended it in all its bearings before." Oh, I assure you, it is a great and blessed truth, and it is a great thing to see it as it is! When it becomes a reality to the soul, and you come under its powerful sympathy, then you will find the gospel indeed the power of God unto salvation. Paul prayed for his Ephesian converts that they might "be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height; and to know the love of God that passeth knowledge, that they might be filled with all the fulness of God."

8. God sought, in thus commending His love to us, to subdue our slavish fear. Some one said -- "When I was young, I was sensible of fearing God, but I knew I did not love Him. The instruction I received led me to fear, but not to love." So long as we think of God only as One to be feared, not to be loved, there will be a prejudice against Him as more an enemy than a friend. Every sinner knows that he deserves to be hated of God. He sees plainly that God must have good reason to be displeased with him. The selfish sinner judges God from himself. Knowing how he should feel towards one who had wronged him, he unconsciously infers that God must feel so towards every sinner. When he tries to pray, his heart won't; it is nothing but terror. He feels no attraction towards God, no real love. The child spirit comes before God, weeping indeed, but loving and trusting. Now the state of feeling which fears only, God would fain put away, and make us know that He loves us still. We must not regard Him as being altogether such as ourselves. He would undeceive us and make us realize that though He has "spoken against us, yet He does earnestly remember us still." He would have us interpret His dealings fairly and without prejudice. He sees how, when He thwarts men's plans, they are bent on misunderstanding Him. They will think that He is reckless of their welfare, and they are blind to the precious truth that He shapes all His ways towards them in love and kindness. He would lead us to judge thus, that if God spared not His own Son, but gave Him up freely for us all, then He will much more give us all things else most freely.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1858 paragraph 349 284 Lectures VIII. - X. The Blessedness Of The Merciful- No. 1 -- Blessedness Of The Pure In Heart- No. 2 -- Blessed Are The Persecuted- No. 3 ...

7. This state of mind is the opposite of the worldly man's. "God is not in all his thoughts;" but the man of pure heart "sets the Lord always before him." He lives as seeing God, though He be invisible. Hence, he cannot enjoy the presence and society of God's enemies. If duty calls him among such persons, he will go, yet not to enjoy their society as a thing congenial to his tastes, but rather with a kind of fear and shrinking as if his dangers and temptations were thereby to be greatly increased. I may appeal to every Christian's experience. He knows how he feels when he goes among ungodly men. Ah, he is fearful lest his heart may be drawn away from God, or agonized by the presence of sin against the God he loves. A pure mind, going into the great cities where licentiousness abounds, will feel an intuitive loathing. So, a man who from some eminence should look down on a battlefield and see its carnage and strife and bloodshed, will recoil with horror. Scarcely less will one who goes into a political caucus loathe the manifest selfishness, ambition and false hood which he meets with there. No sympathy can he have with such things. He can go there only with loathing and fear of contamination. I went to one political convention, and I pray God never to let me go to another. Lies were there; falsehood and ambition were there. I longed to get away alone to pray and to weep.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1858 paragraph 417 408 Lecture XI. On Refuges Of Lies ...


I. We have an infallible test.

1. Salvation, to be real and available, must be salvation from sin. Everything else fails. Any system of religion which does not break the power of sin, is a lie. If it does not expel selfishness and lust, and if it does not beget love to God and man, joy, peace, and all the fruits of the Spirit, it is false and worthless. Any system that fails in this vital respect is a lie--can be of no use--is no better than a curse. That which does not beget in us the spirit of heaven and make us like God, no matter whence it comes, or by what sophistry defended, is a lie, and if fled to as a refuge, it is a "refuge of lies."

Again, if it does not beget prayer, does not unify us with God, and bring us into fellowship and sympathy with him, it is a lie.

2. If it does not produce a heavenly mind, and expel a worldly mind, and wean us from the love of the world, it is a lie. If it does not beget in us the love required in the Scriptures, the love of God and of his worship and of his people--indeed, of all mankind;-- if it does not produce all those states of mind which fit the soul for heaven,--it fails utterly of its purpose.
 

(a.) Here I must stop a moment to notice an objection. It is said, "The gospel does not in fact do for men all you claim. It does not make professed Christians heavenly-minded, dead to the world, full of love, joy, and peace."

I reply: Here is medicine which, applied in a given disease, will certainly cure. This healing power is just what it has and what we claim for it. But it must be fairly applied. A man may buy the medicine, and because it is bitter, may lay it up in his cupboard and never take it; he may provide himself with a counterfeit to take in its stead; or he may follow it with something that will instantly counteract its influence in the system. In any such case, the efficacy of the medicine is not disproved; you only prove that you have not used it fairly and honestly.

(b.) So with the gospel. You must take it and use it according to directions; else its failure is not its fault, but yours.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1860 paragraph 50 9 Lectures I. & II.On Loving God- No. 1 -- On Love To Our Neighbor- No. 2 ...

But the pirate may still ask -- What have I done? Pause and see what. Just what the selfishness and wickedness of your heart has prompted; nothing else; nothing better. Men could do nothing in the pirate's business without these virtues. Those therefore who choose a pirate's life must pay at least so much homage to virtue as to be truthful, kind and generous to each other. And then shall they be blind enough to plead in self-defense that they are very moral pirates -- very kind and true to one another, and very much devoted to their business?

2. Like the self-justifying pirate, so the sinner asks -- What have I done? Done? You have waged war against God and all the nations of men. And can you call that, doing right? Will you plead that you are trying to do right?

It is a very simple thing to examine yourself and to know whether you are right as before God and His law. Is it your great aim to please God? Is it the business of your life? What have you done today to learn His will and to do His pleasure? Have you given yourself to prayer and to the faithful study of His word? Have you been seeking in all possible ways to please and honor your Father in heaven? Have you not been pluming yourself to display your beauty? Or is it true that you really bathe yourself in His presence all the day long and deem yourself blest then and then only then when you have the consciousness of pleasing Him?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1860 paragraph 74 9 Lectures I. & II.On Loving God- No. 1 -- On Love To Our Neighbor- No. 2 ...

It is not true humanity to do good only to one's own offspring. They are regarded as parts of one's self, and hence doing good to them only, is nothing beyond a slightly enlarged selfishness. Nothing is really love to man -- true humanity -- except that love which estimates human well-being for its intrinsic value, and loves man as man.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1860 paragraph 80 9 Lectures I. & II.On Loving God- No. 1 -- On Love To Our Neighbor- No. 2 ...

6. Without this love, salvation is naturally impossible. It is governmentally impossible; it cannot be, so long as God rules and cares for the interests of his great kingdom. The entrance to heaven is so guarded all round about that nothing shall by any means enter that worketh abomination -- nothing unholy. A man go there in his selfishness! Not if God can keep him out!

REMARKS.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1860 paragraph 86 9 Lectures I. & II.On Loving God- No. 1 -- On Love To Our Neighbor- No. 2 ...

6. You may also see God's personal relations to selfishness. Every particle of selfishness is personally hostile and hateful to God. It is so utterly unlike his heart, so totally opposed to all his principles and to all his acts, he can have no fellowship with it. He must forever hold it in utter abhorrence.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1860 paragraph 87 9 Lectures I. & II.On Loving God- No. 1 -- On Love To Our Neighbor- No. 2 ...

7. You may also see his governmental relations to sin. He can bear the personal insult and he does -- does for the time, and, but for governmental reasons, would pass it over perhaps forever. He endures with sinners now; he does not fret; does not manifest excited passion, as men do under insult; but the governmental bearings of sin he cannot overlook. The selfishness of men towards himself and towards each other, he must see. He is a magistrate, bearing the highest responsibilities of the universe. All eyes are turned upon him. He must mark the iniquities that are done among his subjects and his creatures. He must see all their wickedness, biting and devouring one another, trampling each other down. All eyes are upturned towards him. What says the Judge of all the earth to this! Ah, this must be answered! God's relations to his government make it an awful thing for man to love selfishness.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1860 paragraph 130 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") ...

17. Such a man has no enemies. Not that others may not hate him bad enough to kill him; but he hates no one. He has no quarrel with his neighbors. If they hate and persecute him, he knows it must be a mistake, because they misapprehend him. So completely is his selfishness subdued and supplanted by love, that he has none of the rasped feelings of wicked men.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 47 19 Lecture I. Christ's Yoke Is Easy ...

1. Then let it be understood that Christ's real yoke, or the true service of Christ, is never hard. His real yoke is never heavy. It is self-will and selfishness that at any time fault the yoke or the service of Christ.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 75 19 Lecture I. Christ's Yoke Is Easy ...

20. Christ is not responsible for these slavish experiences. They are only the result of selfishness and unbelief. He cannot away with them, he abhors them. They are his dishonor, the church's stumbling block, and the world's ruin.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 80 19 Lecture I. Christ's Yoke Is Easy ...

And now what do you say? Will you that never have taken Christ's yoke, now take it? Will you now offer yourself a willing sacrifice to be Christ's living servant forever? Will you who have worn the bondage of the law, lay it aside, give up your selfishness, your self seeking, your unbelief, and truly embrace Christ, and take his easy yoke, and find rest for your souls?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 193 149 Lecture III. Living To Please God ...

Now in all this negative religion there is not one particle of acceptable service rendered to God. There is nothing in it but self-pleasing after all. It is only a modified form of selfishness. It is just that kind of philosophy that teaches that men are to seek their own interest and their own pleasure as an end; but in so doing, not to interfere with the rights of others. They do not care to please God, but to please themselves. But they hold that in pleasing themselves they should not displease God. But the fact is, they always do displease God unless they positively mean to please Him. His requirements are positive, that we should live and walk so as to please Him; that is designing to please Him, making this our supreme and ultimate end in all that we do.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 194 149 Lecture III. Living To Please God ...

Now this religion that inquires, what harm will this do, and what harm will that do, instead of inquiring how to please God, and doing it for the purpose of pleasing Him -- I say the religion that seeks to please self and not God, that asks what harm will a thing do, instead of what good will it do, is not the religion of Jesus. It is not supreme love to God and equal love to man. It is the supreme love of self; it is selfishness under a religious type; it is a delusion, and an abomination to God.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 256 208 Lecture IV. Wherefore Do The Wicked Live ...

Now please reflect -- Have you more selfishness now than you had when you were young?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 289 261 Lectures V. - VII. Hardness Of Heart- No. 1 -- Harden Not Your Heart- No. 2 -- Tender-Heartedness- No. 3 ...

15. Selfishness in trade is another effect and manifestation of hardness of heart. You will always observe that such men are difficult to get along with. They are close and hard in their dealings, and will be sure to have the best end of a bargain. They have no such tenderness as will not allow them to do as they would not be done by. The golden rule is to them a blank. Their maxims are,

"Take care of number one;"
"Charity begins at home;"
"Let every man look out for himself;"
"My business is to make as good a bargain as I can."

These are the practical rules of trade.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 301 261 Lectures V. - VII. Hardness Of Heart- No. 1 -- Harden Not Your Heart- No. 2 -- Tender-Heartedness- No. 3 ...

2. You see the secret of alienation among brethren. Their hearts are hard. Now they cannot see alike. Being in this hardened state, every one sees everything in the light, or rather in the darkness, of his own selfishness and self-will. Each one has but a poor opinion of the other; each one justifies himself and condemns the other. They have no Christian confidence, for they have really no Christian character.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 396 261 Lectures V. - VII. Hardness Of Heart- No. 1 -- Harden Not Your Heart- No. 2 -- Tender-Heartedness- No. 3 ...

And a self-accusing spirit, rather than a self-justifying spirit, is manifest throughout the whole circle of the tender-hearted.

19. A tender heart manifests a spirit of self-loathing. It cannot endure its former selfishness and folly. When it thinks of its former self-seeking and wicked state of mind, it cannot express the loathing that it has of self. Such a mind seems to itself to have been the most hateful of all beings -- perhaps the most worthy of damnation, or least worthy of notice; and often feels surprised that anybody should treat it otherwise than with utter neglect and contempt.

In speaking the other day to a sister in the church, whose heart has recently became tender, I said to her that I was trying to get time to call upon her. She replied, tearfully, " How can you think of calling upon me? I am not worthy that anybody should take any notice of me." As I was speaking to a brother but a few days since, he made this remark: "I am not worthy to be on the face of the earth -- I am not fit to live in human society -- I am a loathing to myself -- I have no right to live, I have been so vile."

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 824 803 Lectures XIV. & XV.Holding The Truth in Unrighteousness- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

I reply, not a selfish anger such as selfish men exercise; but a benevolent, holy indignation, such in kind as a benevolent father or ruler might exercise toward injustice, selfishness, and madness in an undutiful child or subject. The term is a strong one, and is rendered wrath, by which we mean something more than mere anger in a low degree; it implies an intense indignation.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 886 803 Lectures XIV. & XV.Holding The Truth in Unrighteousness- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

4. Men feel that neglect is sin, when self is the object of this neglect. Parents feel that the neglect of their children is sin; husbands and wives feel that the neglect of the other party is sin; men in business fell that it is sin in their debtors to neglect to pay them, especially where this neglect is owing, not to inability, but to selfishness, or carelessness of the rights of others. Selfish men are loud in their complaints of others who neglect to pay their debts to them; but it would surely be more consistent for them to cease complaining of anybody's neglecting them, while they are neglecting to pay their debt to God. Thou that complainest that others neglect to pay their debts to you--dost thou neglect to pay thy debts to God?

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 918 908 Lecture XVI. Any One Form of Sin Persisted In Is Fatal To The Soul ...

That is, it is impossible for a person to be saved, who continues to commit any form of known sin.

1. It is fatal to the soul because any one form of sin, persisted in, is a violation of the spirit of the whole law. The text in James settles that: "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty of all." The law requires supreme love to God, and equal love to our fellow men.

Now sin is selfishness; and always requires the preference of self-interest and self-gratification to obedience to God, or to our duty to our fellowmen.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 937 908 Lecture XVI. Any One Form of Sin Persisted In Is Fatal To The Soul ...

While they will tell you that they know of but very few of their church of whom they can conscientiously say--I do not believe he indulges himself in any known sin; yet let one of that great majority, of whom he cannot say this, suddenly die, and this pastor be called to attend his funeral, would he not comfort the mourners by holding out the conviction that he was a Christian, and had gone to heaven? Now this shows that the pastor himself, whatever be his theoretical views of being justified while indulging in any known sin, is yet after all, practically an Antinomian; and practically holds, believes, and teaches, that Christ justifies people while they are living in the neglect of known duty; while they are knowingly shunning some cross; while they persist in known sin. Ministers, indeed, often leave this impression upon their churches, (and I fear Calvinistic ministers quite generally,) that if they are converted, or ever were, they are justified although they may be living habitually and always in the indulgence of more or less known sin; living in the habitual neglect of known duty; indulging various forms of selfishness. And yet they are regarded as justified Christians; and get the impression, even from the preaching of their ministers, that all is well with them; that they really believe the Gospel and are saved by Christ.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 994 971 Lectures XVII. - XIX. Revival- No.'s 1 - 3 ...

11. A revival of religion is greatly needed when Christians have so far lost their brotherly love that they can speak against their brethren; speak of their faults before others; when they become censorious, instead of being tender of the reputation of their brethren, and of the cause of Christ which they represent; publish their faults endlessly to the world, speak reproachfully of them, censure them, and seem disposed to judge uncharitably of them in almost every respect. Thus they help forward the devil's work, by shaking the confidence of the ungodly in Christians. Sometimes professors of religion do more to injure the church and the cause of Christ, to shake the confidence of the world in Christianity -- far more than it is in the power of ungodly men to do.

When professors of religion get away from God, they almost always become censorious. They speak against the church; they speak against Christians, publishing their real faults and imputing to them faults of which they are perhaps not guilty; and thus they take the most direct way to bring religion into contempt. In this state of things a revival of religion is always greatly needed.

12. A revival of religion is needed when professors of religion are self-indulgent.

Selfishness consists in a disposition to indulge self -- to indulge the appetites, desires, and propensities. We sometimes see professors of religion giving themselves up. like the world, to indulge themselves in a great many ways. They are pleasure-seekers; they run hither and thither just to please themselves. They will run and spend Christ's money for this object and that; they will run to this concert and that amusement; they will make this journey and that; purchase this article and that; and in a great variety of ways they will manifest a self-indulgent spirit -- in eating and drinking; in short in most of the ways in which ungodly men indulge themselves. They seem to lose sight of the fact that selfishness and self-indulgence is sin. They no longer deny themselves, and take up their cross daily and follow Christ. They have ceased to deny themselves; they have ceased to bear Christ's cross; and self-indulgence has come to be the habit of their lives. Instead of being devoted to Christ and doing all things for Him, they do everything directly or indirectly to please themselves. You see them engaging in a multitude of things which it is impossible to suppose they were doing to please Christ. It must be that they were doing these things to please themselves. It cannot be that they were running hither and thither, running to this concert and that amusement -- they cannot do this to please Christ; it must be that this is a self-pleasing spirit, the very opposite of the Christian religion. In this state of things you will often see, with all their self-indulgence, that they attend meeting on the Sabbath, and in various ways keep up the form of godliness while they deny its power. The ungodly are astonished at them, and they inquire, "Wherein do they differ from us? They seem as fond of pleasure; they seem as self-indulgent; they seem as little in earnest about religion , and as much in earnest about the world as we are." They spend their time, they spend their money, to please themselves.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1862 paragraph 87 63 Lectures II. & III.Moral Depravity- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

Moral depravity is the opposite of what this law requires; or, more strictly, it is want of conformity to this law. It is primarily a withholding--a refusal to be devoted to God and to the interests of his kingdom. It sets up self above God. It deliberately prefers self-interests and self-will to God's interest and God's will. It practically makes self of supreme importance. In one word, it is selfishness. It is the mind's committed to self as the great supreme good of life.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1862 paragraph 92 63 Lectures II. & III.Moral Depravity- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

Just so of this choice made by Adam. It became a fixed state of mind. He lapsed into a state of supreme selfishness, which is nothing else than a strong committal of the will, and consequently of the whole being, to self-gratification.

4. This carnal mind, or state of minding the flesh, reveals itself in fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. As is said in Ephesians 2:1-3, "And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience; among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."

The mind being settled in its great ultimate aim and end, the supreme choice being to gratify the deepest desires and propensities, it will of course reveal itself in all the myriad ways of self-indulgence in which unconverted sinners actually live.

5. The carnal mind has all the attributes of moral depravity. It is directly contrary to moral law; it is utterly sinful; it deserves punishment; it ought to be instantly abandoned; it can be instantly abandoned; to abandon it would be a change of heart.

IV. The "carnal mind" is a state of enmity against God. I say a state, that is, an abiding choice.

 

 


THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1862 paragraph 114 63 Lectures II. & III.Moral Depravity- No.'s 1 & 2 ...

1. The human mind is manifestly in a physically diseased state. By this I mean that sin has deranged its developments, insomuch that there are various tendencies in the constitution that result in selfishness. But let it be remembered, this is a physical and not a moral depravity. To illustrate this: Many persons come in to being with depraved appetites--a strong natural appetite, say, for strong drink, or some other sensual enjoyment. Now, these appetites, although in a diseased state, yet being constitutional, are not in themselves sinful. It is only their unlawful indulgence that is sinful. In fact, no appetite of man can be sinful that is strictly constitutional and normal, nor can it become in itself sinful by being in an unhealthy or depraved condition. The sin must consist in its unlawful indulgence. Adam and Eve had constitutional appetites for knowledge and for food. These were not sinful, not even when strongly excited by the temptation to indulgence. It was only the consent of the mind to indulge them in a prohibited manner, that constituted their sin.

 

 


HEART OF THE TRUTH - ON THEOLOGY, LECTURE 2 - THINGS IMPLIED paragraph 61 Some THINGS IMPLIED in the study of Theology. Some things that we know of man, independently of any revelation or knowledge of God.

THE MORAL ATTRIBUTES of mind are its voluntary but permanently and controlling moral dispositions or preferences, such as selfishness or benevolence, justice or injustice, etc. The existence of these is a matter of consciousness and cannot be doubted.

 

 


HEART OF THE TRUTH - ON THEOLOGY, LECTURE 5 - ATHEISM paragraph 106 ATHEISM. Definition; different forms; Principal objections to Theism answered; Difficulties of Atheism.

7. Another tendency of Atheism is to confirm selfishness. That selfishness is the character of unregenerate man is a matter of fact. That selfishness is detestable, is what all men feel. Nothing can annihilate it but faith in the existence, attributes, and character of God. To deny these, is to perfect and perpetuate selfishness forever.

 

 


HEART OF THE TRUTH - ON THEOLOGY, LECTURE 5 - ATHEISM paragraph 124 ATHEISM. Definition; different forms; Principal objections to Theism answered; Difficulties of Atheism.

9. But Atheism is manifestly a spirit of selfishness. It manifests itself, and its own nature in many ways.

 

 


HEART OF THE TRUTH - ON THEOLOGY, LECTURE 11 - JUSTICE OF GOD paragraph 35 JUSTICE OF GOD. The term Justice defined. The several senses in which it is used; God is just; An objection answered.

17. Injustice is a form of selfishness. And it has been shown that God is not selfish, but infinitely benevolent.

 

 


HEART OF THE TRUTH - ON THEOLOGY, LECTURE 23 - FOUNDATION OF MORAL OBLIGATION paragraph 88 FOUNDATION OF MORAL OBLIGATION. Moral Obligation defined; Conditions of Moral Obligation; Foundation of Moral Obligation.

If to this it be replied, that in such circumstances he would be under obligation to be benevolent, because of its tendency to promote his own happiness; to this it may be answered, that it is impossible to be benevolent for that reason. Benevolence is good willing. Benevolence to others is willing good to others. But to will good to others for the sake of my own happiness, is a contradiction; for it is willing good to myself as an end, and willing good to others only as a means. This is not benevolence, but selfishness. In this case the supposition is that I am to be benevolent or to will the happiness of others, not because it is a good in itself, and therefore to be desired for its own sake, not because it will promote the happiness of its object, but simply and only because it will promote my own happiness.

 

 


HEART OF THE TRUTH - ON THEOLOGY, LECTURE 25 - WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THE RIGHT TO GOVERN paragraph 21 WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THE RIGHT TO GOVERN. Reciprocal duties of rulers and ruled.

10. They are bound to be disinterested; that is---to discard all selfishness, and to regard and treat every interest according to its relative value.

 

 


HEART OF THE TRUTH - ON THEOLOGY, LECTURE 31 - NINTH COMMANDMENT paragraph 31 NINTH COMMANDMENT. What it implies; What is not a violation of it; What it prohibits; Reasons for it. Tenth Commandment to What it implies; What is not a breach of it; What it prohibits and enjoys; Reasons for it.

3. It implies that the exclusive enjoyment and possession of our wives and husbands as such is not selfishness.

 

 


HEART OF THE TRUTH - ON THEOLOGY, LECTURE 31 - NINTH COMMANDMENT paragraph 32 NINTH COMMANDMENT. What it implies; What is not a violation of it; What it prohibits; Reasons for it. Tenth Commandment to What it implies; What is not a breach of it; What it prohibits and enjoys; Reasons for it.

4. It implies that every desire to interfere with the exclusive enjoyment of wives by their husbands, or husbands by their wives, as such, is selfishness.

 

 


HEART OF THE TRUTH - ON THEOLOGY, LECTURE 31 - NINTH COMMANDMENT paragraph 44 NINTH COMMANDMENT. What it implies; What is not a violation of it; What it prohibits; Reasons for it. Tenth Commandment to What it implies; What is not a breach of it; What it prohibits and enjoys; Reasons for it.

6. It prohibits every degree of selfishness.

 

 


HEART OF THE TRUTH - ON THEOLOGY, LECTURE 33 - SANCTIONS OF GOD'S LAW paragraph 70 SANCTIONS OF GOD'S LAW. God's law has Sanctions; What constitutes the remuneratory Sanctions of God's Law; Their perfection and duration; What constitutes its vindicatory Sanctions; Their duration.

e. Sin tends to total and universal selfishness.

 

 


HEART OF THE TRUTH - ON THEOLOGY, LECTURE 36 - REASONS WHY AN ATONEMENT WAS PREFERABLE TO PUNISHMENT paragraph 30 REASONS WHY AN ATONEMENT WAS PREFERABLE TO PUNISHMENT, or to the execution of the Divine Law.

25. Another reason for the Atonement was to counteract the influence of the Devil, whose whole influence is exerted in this world for the promotion of selfishness.

 

 


HEART OF THE TRUTH - ON THEOLOGY, LECTURE 36 - REASONS WHY AN ATONEMENT WAS PREFERABLE TO PUNISHMENT paragraph 33 REASONS WHY AN ATONEMENT WAS PREFERABLE TO PUNISHMENT, or to the execution of the Divine Law.

28. The Atonement is the highest testimony that God can bear against selfishness. It is the testimony of his own example.

 

 


HEART OF THE TRUTH - ON THEOLOGY, LECTURE 39 - INFLUENCE OF THE ATONEMENT paragraph 39

31. It has forever condemned all selfishness, as entirely inconsistent with virtue.

 

 


HEART OF THE TRUTH - ON THEOLOGY, LECTURE 40 - OBJECTIONS TO THE ATONEMENT ANSWERED paragraph 58

16. We see that selfishness is the great hindrance to the exercise of faith. A selfish mind finds it exceedingly difficult to understand the Atonement, inasmuch as it is an exhibition of a state of mind which is the direct opposite of all that the sinner has ever experienced. His experience being wholly selfish renders it difficult for him to conceive aright what true religion is, and heartily to believe in the infinitely great and disinterested love of God.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 1 - REGENERATION. paragraph 26

(3.) I remark, again, in other words, that regeneration consists in a change in the ultimate intention, or end of life. The mind, in regeneration, withdraws itself from seeking, as the ultimate disposition and end, the gratification of self, and choose a higher end than itself. Its disposition is changed from supreme selfishness to an entire devotion of the whole being to the great end for which God lives, and for which he made man to live. Regeneration, then, consists in ceasing to live to sin and for selfishness, and to live to and for God. I shall remark no further on this part of the subject at present, but proceed, thirdly, to notice--

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 1 - REGENERATION. paragraph 30

(3.) And this leads me to say that a new life results, as a matter of course, from regeneration. A new outward life is not regeneration, but it results from it, as effect from cause. You see a man devoted to God, and now he is engaged in different pursuits to what he was before; or if engaged in the same pursuits he acts from a different spirit. Is he a merchant? When he was a sinner his ruling motive in trade was selfishness--the spirit of self-gratification was supreme in all that he did. But now, his merchandise is God's. The things that he possesses are not his own, he is God's clerk, or steward, and he will not cheat any body, for he knows that God does not want his servants to cheat. He is transacting business for God; and, as he knows in his heart that God hates cheating, he will be honest now of course. It will be natural for him to be honest. If it is not possible for him to be honest, he is not a regenerate man. If his heart be honest his life will be honest. So in everything else. Let it be understood, then, that when regeneration occurs, a man's whole life will be a law of honesty.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 1 - REGENERATION. paragraph 31

(4.) But let me say again--another thing implied in regeneration, is a new sort of sympathies and feelings. Before, the feelings and sympathies were all enlisted in one direction, the direction of self. You see a man in this state, and you try to excite him to the performance of some generous action, but you cannot do it unless you can employ selfish motives as a means to accomplish your object. His self-interests are easily excited. Show him how much he can get by acting in the way desired by you, and you may succeed, but not else. All appeals to higher motives will fail. It is remarkable to what an extent this feeling of selfishness will develope itself. Make an appeal to an unregenerate man's benevolence, and your appeal has no effect, because his interests, he thinks, are not concerned in it; but make an appeal to his selfishness, and you can excite the deepest foundation of his being. Talk to him about God, and Christ, and religion, and his relations to God, and his sensibilities are not at all excited--his sympathies do not lie in that direction at all. How unfeeling he is if you tell him of his sins, he does not feel them, and can listen to the enumeration of them without emotion. But at length his mind is changed, and he now lives for other interests; now instead of being devoted to self, he is devoted to God, and every thing relating to God and his kingdom reaches his sensibilities and stir up the fountains of feeling in him. Talk to him now about God's glory and the interests of men's souls--spread out the world before him, and shew him the condition of mankind, and rely upon it you will move him! Before, if you expected to get any money from him you must show him the benefit that would in some sort accrue to himself; but now he has made God's interests his own interests, and he sympathises with God, and with Christ, and he has set his heart upon promoting those interests which shall glorify God and benefit men. Now only but show him the great field of Christian enterprise, and you fire his soul with love to men, and fill him with a desire to promote the kingdom and glory of God in the world. He has consecrated himself and all that he has to these objects. I have been struck a great many times with the beautiful process that goes on in the soul, as the Christian grows in grace. Sometimes I have looked upon an old saint, who for many years has been thinking of, and bathing his mind in, the great truths of the gospel, who has had so much communion and sympathy with God, that he has become beautifully and sweetly mellow; so delicate, so kind, and so Christ-like were the feelings he would manifest, that I have many times been charmed and cheered with the character of a fully developed Christian.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 1 - REGENERATION. paragraph 34

(7.) Again, let me say, that regeneration implies a state of self-denial. Now I do not mean by self-denial, the breaking off from some outward customs and habits in which you have been accustomed to indulge--that you leave off some showy articles of dress and wear plainer attire; or that you be a little more temperate, or a good deal more temperate; for self-denial does not belong to the outward life, but to the mind. Self-denial is the renunciation of selfishness, and all selfish appetites. Self-denial is not a total denial of our appetites and passions, but our appetites and passions are not to be our law. It is right to eat and drink, but we are to do both to the glory of God, that we may have strength to serve him. So with respect to all our appetites and propensities, they are to be properly employed and made to serve the purposes for which they were bestowed, but we are not to make their gratification the business and end of life.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 1 - REGENERATION. paragraph 37

(1.) In considering the necessity of this change, I remark, in the first place, that the unregenerate part of mankind are all selfish. No man could practically deny this, without incurring the charge of insanity; and, if he should proceed to do business upon that assumption, a commission of lunacy would no doubt be appointed to examine him, and who certainly would have no hesitation in bringing in their verdict, that he was not fit to manage his own affairs. The fact is, that all the arrangements of society proceed upon the assumption, which is a fact, that men are devoted to their own interests, and quite regardless of the interests of others. There is no plainer fact in the world than this. Now, do you ask, how it came to pass that men are selfish? Why, the principle grows up with us almost from our birth. As soon as the appetites and passions of children are sufficiently developed to come into exercise, they employ their wills to seek the gratification of their appetites and passions. The will becomes devoted to the gratification of self. Now that God is not selfish, I suppose, will be admitted on all hands; that a selfish mind is not at rest within itself, that men were not made to be selfish, and that no man can be satisfied and happy while he is selfish--that no man can be at peace with himself while he is pursuing solely his own interest. Man is so constituted that the mind of a selfish being cannot be happy. Now, suppose that the inhabitants of heaven were selfish, all their interests would be conflicting, and laws would be needed to restrain them from encroaching upon each other's rights, because their sympathies did not blend. The same difficulties would exist there as here, only in a much higher degree. There would be striving, and crushing, and overreaching; every man would be at war with his brother. Now, such a community as that can never possess heaven. In order to be saved, then--in order to be happy in heaven, men must really experience a radical change in the end for which they live: they must renounce self-interest, and they must recognize God's authority and interests as supreme, and they must love their brother as they do themselves. They must set up a common interest, and have a common object of love. Who does not believe that heaven is a place where all is unity and harmony, and where there is no selfishness, and where God's will is the universal law, and where the interest of one is the interest of all. Now it is easy to see that this would just meet the demands of man's being when he is regenerated. Now, just look at a world of selfish beings with all the restraints of law; with ten thousand pulpits preaching against selfishness, with the press groaning with articles against selfishness, with large numbers of colporteurs running hither and thither with Bibles protesting against selfishness, and yet see the immense amount of selfishness that exists in the world, after all. And now, when men are told that they must be born again, they do but smile at it. They don't understand it, they have the gross conception of it that Nicodemus had; they do not consider, that unless there be a radical change of character, they cannot possess and enjoy heaven. Put a selfish man into heaven, and what will he do there? Why, he will ask, if there is any way of making money, any way of making a speculation to his advantage? Heaven, then, is no place for selfish beings. But how are men to get to heaven? You tell them of this change of heart, and they do not deny but they may need some little change, but they do not see the necessity for a radical change of disposition and character. But it is nevertheless a great truth, that unless men cease to be selfish and become benevolent in their dispositions there is no place for them in heaven; and, if the selfish man could get there, the holiness and benevolence of heaven would be intolerable to him, his selfish nature would cry out against it, for God is not selfish, angels are not selfish, the saints in glory are not selfish. Now, do let me ask you, dear hearers, are you selfish? Have you always lived to please yourselves? and if so, is it not the most self-evident thing in the universe, that unless a change takes place in the end for which you live, that you never can sympathise with the inhabitants of heaven? Suppose that it were possible for you, with a selfish heart, to join in the worship of heaven, to live among those that were not selfish, but perfectly benevolent, what sympathy would you have there? Would it be the delight of your heart to mingle your song with their's? Could you mingle in their joys and find pleasure in their pursuits? Never! Your sensibilities do not lie in that direction, your minds are not there! Your hearts are not there! Methinks that you would need to be confined there, or you would spring over the battlements of heaven, and go down to hell, in order to get out of such holy and benevolent company.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 1 - REGENERATION. paragraph 42

(4.) I remark again; that many persons have got such ideas of regeneration, that when God calls upon them to become new creatures, they wait for God to change their hearts. They expect to have something done to them that shall act like an electric shock, and so they wait, instead of at once breaking away from their selfishness, and coming to Christ.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 3 - HEART SEARCHING. paragraph 49

(8.) Again I remark, that it is necessary that these trials should be awarded us, for it will not do that God should always feed his children on sweetmeats. We need severe discipline: it makes us good soldiers. A mere silken religion that passes through no trials has little efficiency in it. These providential trials take away the dross and tin, and make us strong in the Lord. How lovely is the character of the Christian who has patiently endured the trials through which he has had to pass. He becomes like a weaned child, and quiets himself under all the dispensations of providence: he receives every thing as bestowed upon him from his father. I might add a great many other things, but I must close by saying--the more holy Christians become the more sincere, and earnest are they to have their whole character, and being, completely searched, developed, and cleansed: and the more needful they find it to lay their whole heart before him, and ask him that his providence may search it, and purify it on every side, until he is satisfied with his own work. Christians, are you in the habit of asking the Lord to satisfy himself; to do that which shall bring you into a condition that will please him? Do you not long for the pruning knife to be applied, and to be purged of all your selfishness and everything that is offensive to God, so that you may stand before him as a young child in meekness and love, while he looks upon you and says, this is my handiwork, and it is very good. Ask God to search you then, and do not be afraid to have it done. Look upon all the trials of life as coming from your heavenly Father, in order that if you are really self-deceived you may know it, and if you are not, that you may grow up into the likeness of the Son of God. Amen.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 4 - THE KINGDOM OF GOD UPON EARTH. paragraph 21

     And here let me say that it was not part of the design of our Lord Jesus to give his disciples merely a form of prayer, the words of which they might repeat without knowing or caring what they meant or said; he did not give this prayer to be repeated over as a ceremony merely, without significance or interest. There is no greater profanity in the universe than to gabber it over in such a manner as it is frequently used. The Lord Jesus gave this prayer to be understood, and that the petition should be offered with sincerity and with faith, and in a certain state of mind. Who can doubt this? Did he intend to teach his disciples and his people in after-ages to be hypocrites? No, indeed! Did he intend them to offer insincere worship? No, indeed! Then he must have designed that they should offer these petitions with sincerity. Now, the question is, what is implied in sincerity? When is a man sincere in offering this petition to God? What are the characteristics and elements of sincerity? What is implied in being sincere? 1. I observe, first, that a sincere and acceptable offering of this petition implies repentance of past sins,--for sin rejects God, and tramples down his laws. No man who lives in sin can offer this prayer without gross hypocrisy--that's very clear; the man who rejects Christ and tramples on his laws, lives in sin, and cannot offer such a prayer as this acceptably. It implies, then, repentance and renunciation of all sin. 2. It implies confidence in God: observe, it is a petition to God, that his kingdom may come. Now, if an individual have not implicit confidence in the character and wisdom of God, in the perfection of his government, and in all the provisions of his kingdom, why should he pray it may come? Now, it is not enough that a man believes as a mere speculation that God is good, that his law is good, that his kingdom is what it should be; the devil knows this as well as anybody else. It is not enough that a man should admit intellectually that these things are so, but he must confide in God with his whole heart: to offer this petition acceptably he must really have heart-confidence in God's existence, in his wisdom, in his universal right to legislate for the world, in the perfection and wisdom of his government; he must have full confidence in God, I say, ere he can offer this petition acceptably--this is very certain. 3. Another thing implied in the acceptable offering of this petition is, that the heart obeys the law of God. An individual, for example, who does not in his heart submit to God's law, cannot pray that his kingdom may come, for what would he mean by that? That others may obey it, that others may submit to Christ's authority, that God's law may be set up in others' hearts, but not in his own. He cannot pray acceptably thus. The petitioner must have the law of God set up in his own heart, and his own life must be governed by it. But this leads me to say, 4. That, inasmuch as man's outward life is always of necessity, by a law of his nature, as his heart is, it implies an obedient life as well as an obedient heart. The term "heart" is used in various senses in the Scriptures--but whenever it is used in the sense that implies virtue, it means the Will. We say of those whose will is devoted to God, that their hearts are right--they are devoted to God, consecrated to him. Now, if we consider the heart as the will--and that is the sense in which I now use the term--the will governs the outward life; and if this will, or heart, devotes itself to the will of God, and yields itself up to obedience to the law of God, the outward life must be in conformity with the law of God, so far as it is understood. Let no man say, then, that his heart is better than his life. Let no man say that his heart has received the kingdom of God, while his outward life disobeys it. 5. Sincerity in offering this petition implies universal sympathy with God. By this I mean, first, that the petitioner really does sympathise with the great end which God is endeavouring to secure through the instrumentality of his law, and by the government of his kingdom. Now, government, remember, is not an end, but a means; neither is God's government an end, but a means. He proposes to ensure certain great ends by means of his government and his kingdom. Now, when a man prays that God's kingdom may come, to be sincere in his petition, he must fully sympathise with the end which is sought to be accomplished, and on which God has set his heart, which is his own glory, and the interests of his kingdom. A man, to offer this petition acceptably--"thy kingdom come," must understand this to be the great end, and set his heart upon it; to this he must consecrate his being, as the end on which God has set his heart. But it also implies, secondly, sympathy with God in reference to the means by which he is endeavouring to secure this great and glorious end. Again, sympathy with God implies a real and hearty aversion to all that stands in the way of the progress of his kingdom--all sin, in every form and in every shape. The individual that is not deeply and thoroughly opposed to sin, does not want God's kingdom to come; for God's kingdom would destroy all the works of the devil, would destroy sin in every form and degree. Those who offer this petition in sincerity, virtually pray that all sin may cease. Now, how can a man who does not cease from sin himself present such a petition as this? How can he pray for God's kingdom to come, while he is violating the known laws of that kingdom? If a man be not opposed to all sin, he cannot offer this petition acceptably. 6. It is plain that sincerity in offering this petition must imply supreme attachment to the King, his law and government. Observe, the petition does not express a partial attachment to the kingdom of God, but is an expression of entire agreement with God in reference to his kingdom--a universal submission, a universal attachment to the King and his entire administration. Every one, I think, will say that no man is or can be sincere in offering this petition, if he is not heartily and devotedly attached to the King and his government--to every principle and precept of his holy law and Gospel, and to his entire administration. 7. A sincere offering of this petition implies a sympathy with all the means that are used to establish this kingdom in the earth--to establish it in the hearts and souls of men. Now, if an individual prays that this kingdom may come, he prays that men may be made holy, as the condition of their being made happy, and of their being saved. Now, the man who does not truly love the souls of men, and desire their salvation, never offers this petition in sincerity; in order to do this, he must care for the souls of men. 8. It implies a supreme desire that God's kingdom may come. It is one thing for an individual to say "thy kingdom come," and another thing for him supremely to desire that it may come. It is common for a man to ask in words for what he does not deeply and sincerely desire; but I said that a man, to offer this prayer acceptably, must deeply, and sincerely, and supremely desire that God's kingdom may come. But, if a man is in bondage to his own lusts, and desires their gratification supremely, no one in this house, I presume, would affirm that such a man could offer this petition acceptably. Now, I suppose that, to offer this petition acceptably, there must be a supreme desire for the object prayed for; that no desire shall be allowed to prevail over this; that no merely selfish enjoyment or selfish indulgence shall have a chief place in the heart. Let me ask any one of you this question,--Suppose you should see a man on his knees offering this petition, and if you knew, at the same time, that he was a self-indulgent man, not willing to make any sacrifices, or hardly any, to promote the interests of this kingdom, spending ten times more on his own lusts than he gave to the cause of Christ, how could any of you believe that such a man was sincere in offering such a prayer? Such a man, if he uses this petition, virtually says,--"Lord, let thy kingdom come without my exercising any self-denial; let Providence enrich me, but let me keep all I get: let thy kingdom come, but let me seek my own gratifications." Now, if a man should pray in words in this way, you would say it is little less than blasphemy! But he might not say this in words for very shame; yet, suppose he said, "let thy kingdom come," and acted quite the opposite to any such desire, would his prayer be any the better? 9. But not only does an acceptable offering of this petition imply supreme desire--that is, without more influence than other desires--but it implies also, that the mind is supremely devoted to the end for which it prays; the voluntary power of the will devotes itself, and devotes the whole being, to the promotion of this end. Now, suppose we should hear a man pray in this way--"Lord, let thy kingdom come, if it can come without my being devoted to its interests; let thy kingdom come, if it can come without my ever giving my heart, time, energies, property, possessions, sympathies, and prayers, to promote it; I will say let thy kingdom come, but I will go on in my own way, and do nothing to promote it or hasten its approach:" you would say that this is not an acceptable offering of this petition. I suppose that none of you are disposed to deny that an acceptable offering of this petition does really imply that the heart is truly and sincerely devoted to the kingdom of God. 10. An acceptable offering of this petition must imply self-denial. Now, please to understand what I mean by self-denial; remember, it is not the forsaking of one gratification for another: it sometimes happens that men forsake the gratification of one appetite in order that they may gratify another. Persons may deny themselves in a great many respects, and yet be guilty of much selfishness. Suppose a man be avaricious, and love money, his heart is supremely set upon acquiring it, and hoarding it up. That man may be very frugal in his expenditure--he may be very much disgusted with many who spend money for their own gratification; this avaricious man may deny himself many things; he may go so far as to deny himself the comforts of life, as misers do, and berate everybody who do otherwise; but the man is selfish nevertheless: the love of money prevails over the love of everything else--his heart is set upon that. What people call self-denial, is often no self-denial at all; self-love is very frequently at the bottom, after all. But real self-denial consists in this--an individual's refusing to live to please himself; to promote his own profit and interests, as distinguished from God's kingdom; who refuses to do anything simply and entirely for self. It implies that an individual ceases from self and consecrates himself to God; lives to please God and not himself, and sympathises with nothing whose ultimate end is not to serve and glorify God. Now, when a man who does not deny himself offers this petition to God, what does he mean? He is a rebel against God, opposed to his law. Why does he want God's kingdom to come? Let no selfish man, then--no man who lives in any form of self-pleasing, suppose that he can offer this prayer acceptably. 11. It implies, on the part of those who offer this prayer, a real and whole-hearted embarking of their all with God in this great enterprise. If we offer it sincerely, it implies that we have come into such sympathy with him as to embark ourselves, body and soul, for time and eternity, our characters and affections, our all, in making common cause with God in the advancement of the interests of his kingdom. Now, I think it cannot be doubted that all this is included in a sincere offering of the prayer, "thy kingdom come." Take the case of an earthly prince desiring to establish a kingdom--true patriotism consists in sincerely seeking the promotion of the aim of the prince. The fact is plain, that the acceptable offering of this petition must imply that those who offer it have given themselves up to the promotion of this object; that they have embarked their all in this great enterprise; that for this end thy live, move, and have their being. 12. Let me say again, that it implies a fear towards whatever would be calculated to retard the progress of this kingdom. Persons in a right state of mind hate everything that would hinder the advancement of this kingdom, because they have set their hearts on its establishment. Sin and every form of evil is loathsome to them, because it retards the establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth. It is a law of man's being which makes him quiveringly, tremblingly alive to any interests on which he has set his heart, and causes him to be keen-sighted, and ever on the watch to remove anything that stands in the way of the progress of that upon which his hopes are so deeply set. Now, be it remembered this law of mind invariably shows itself in religious, as well as in worldly matters; it does do so, and must. 13. I observe, in the next place, that those who offer this petition sincerely, manifest grief and indignation at whatever is contrary to God's will. If they see an error, but which does not involve sin, they are grieved; but if it involves sin, they feel indignation. I do not mean malicious indignation, but a benevolent, a holy, a compassionate indignation. 14. Lastly, under this head, I observe that a right offering of this petition implies the joyful exercise of an economy in our lives, whether of time, talents, influence, or whatever else we possess; there is a joyful economising of everything for the promotion of this end. Now, who does not know that when men set their hearts upon any great object, that just in proportion to their attachment to that object will be their devotedness to it--just in that proportion are they cheerful, eager, and ready in using every economy for the promotion of this object--they husband everything for the promotion of that end. As an illustration of this, let me notice an affecting circumstance that occurred within my own knowledge. A woman, who was a slave in one of the southern states of America, had escaped from her bondage, but she had left her husband and children in slavery: the master of these individuals offered to sell them their time, and let them go free. This poor woman gave herself up to earn the money to redeem them; and it was very affecting to see how she toiled, and denied herself even the necessaries of life, in order to secure their liberty. Nothing daunted her; no hardship discouraged her; in the cold, when the snow was on the ground, you might see her working, with but little clothing, and her feet bare; if you gave her a pair of shoes or a garment, she would soon sell them, to get money to increase the fund which was to secure the liberation of her husband and children. Now, this poor creature practised economy for the promotion of the great end she had in view; I do not say that was wise economy in her case, for she nearly sacrificed her own life to it. Now, you mothers can understand and appreciate this woman's conduct; if you had husbands, sons, or daughters in slavery, would you not do as she did? This woman had no love for money, or for anything, only as it sustained a relation to the one great end on which her heart was set. This circumstance illustrates, I say, most powerfully this great principle, that whenever our hearts are supremely set upon any object, we count everything dear as it sustains a relation to, and secures that object; and he, therefore, who prays sincerely, "thy kingdom come," must have his heart so set upon the object as to exercise a joyful and perpetual economy, with an especial reference to that end.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 5 - THE SPIRITUAL CLAIMS OF LONDON. paragraph 22

     IV. Notice some of the conditions by which the true spirit of this injunction may be complied with. 1. Confidence in the presence, and in the ready and effectual co-operation of Christ. What do you suppose Christ intended by saying, "Lo! I am with you always, even to the end of the world?" For what purpose did Christ make this promise if he did not mean, Lo! I am with you for the effectual helping of you to do what I have commanded you? Now, I suppose when Christ said these words, "Lo! I am with you always even to the end of the world," he would have us to understand this, which is the spirit of the promise: do this work, and mind, you shall not be straitened in me; you shall receive all the help you need from me. I will be with you in this thing; my heart is with you, my power is with you, my presence is with you, and my sympathies are all with you, always and everywhere. Is not this the meaning? What else can be meant by these words? Now, I suppose no Christian will deny that this is the meaning of the words, and the very meaning that Christ intended to convey to us. Now, if so, we must believe it. Everything that Christ has said is to be received in faith; in order that it may be effectual, it must be received in faith; therefore, I observe as the first condition upon which the Church can ever secure the conversion of the world, or individuals can convert those around them, we must believe that Christ is with us. Now, it is generally admitted, that Christ is in some sense with his Church; but he is only with his Church so far as he is there personally with the individuals who compose that Church, in their efforts to secure, and do what he requires of them. We are to believe this, have confidence in the fact that he is present to help us by his spirit, always present with us, and ready to sympathise, and co-operate with us for the securing of the great end which we are commanded to accomplish. 2. Once more: I regard this as a fundamental condition of success; a realising reliance on, and appropriation of this truth by the Church of Christ. Where this is not realised and appropriated, I believe there is little power to convert men from their sins. 3. Again: Another condition of success is that we thoroughly believe that in Christ's strength we are able to go up and take possession of the land. There must be the conviction and the realisation of the fact, by the Church, that she is able to do what Christ has commanded her to do: that Christians are able to accomplish the end at which he has told them to aim. This truth stands out blazing on the pages of inspiration that the Church is able to convert the world, and that he shall ultimately possess the land. 4. Another condition of success in this great enterprise, is the devotion of the whole Church to this work. This enterprise cannot be accomplished by a few of the members of the Church, while the rest of them stand right in the way. Every indolent member is a hindrance in the way of good being done. That individual who is not engaged in the work stands right in the way, and will often undo as much as the others can effect; therefore the body of the Church, the whole membership of the Church, must come up to this work. If, now, the entire body of the Church of this City of London were to come up to this work, and engage in it with ardour, take hold of it in faith, believing that in Christ's strength they are able to possess the land, what a vast revival of religion would you witness in this city. 5. Once more, a thorough realisation of individual responsibility in this work is indispensable to success. A vast multitude of professors of religion feel but little personal responsibility. But if the masses of the people are ever to be converted, the entire membership of the Church must become alive to this fact, that they are individually accountable for the conversion of their fellow-creatures. Every one will see, if he reflects upon it, that this must be a condition of success on a large scale. Now, if you ask me what I suppose to be the greatest difficulty in the way of success, in the extension of religion, in any locality, I would reply, the unbelief and want of right spirit and agency on the part of professors in that locality. They are not in a state in which they can realise their own responsibility; and they have not confidence in the Gospel. Now, while this is the case with them, they are hindering, instead of advancing, the Gospel, in their midst. 6. Another indispensable condition of success is this, there must be sympathy with Christ in love to souls. Those who would undertake this work must enter into Christ's sympathies, feel as he felt and feels for sinners, pity them as he pities them, blame them as he blames them; take God's part against them as he does, and yet stand in such a relation as to sympathise both with God and man; addressing themselves to the work as Christ and the Apostles addressed themselves to the work. It is a very remarkable fact that those Christians in every age of the Church who have entered into sympathy both with God and man, have been those whose efforts have told most upon the world. The Lord Jesus Christ is a beautiful, perfect, specimen of this; he sympathised most intensely with the holiness of God, and yet he felt most tenderly for the distressed and guilty condition of fallen man. He was full of zeal for the purity of the Divine government; he was always ready to sacrifice his life, as he did sacrifice it, to honour the law; still he was full of compassion, kindness, and love, to all classes and conditions of men, whatever might be their forlorn and suffering condition. He stood between God and man, and sympathised, not with the sins of men, but with the infirmities and sufferings of their nature--all that in an any way affected their well-being. He stood in such a relation as to be an example to us; he sympathised both with God and man. The primitive Church caught the same spirit, for although his personal intercourse with them had ceased, he continued to be with them through the agency of his Spirit; and thus they possessed the same idea, and practised the same course of conduct. They came into habits of deep sympathy with God in their love for souls. They counted not their lives dear unto them, if by any means they might save souls; and the spoiling of their goods in this enterprise, they took joyfully, counting themselves honoured in having to suffer for his name and cause. They laid themselves without reserve on the altar, and this was the secret of their success. Now, beloved brethren, the conditions of success are the same now as then. If there is to be many converted, there must be a spirit of fervent prayer, and a large development of this sympathy of which I have been speaking, in the souls of Christ's ministers, the same as in the days of the Apostles. If you ask me, What is the reason of the want of success now? I say, the great reason is, because the spirit with which Christ and the Apostles began this work is not developed in the Church, and in individual members of the Church, to such an extent as to move the world--this is the reason of the difficulty. It is not that the Gospel is different. The Gospel is just the same now as it was in the days when the Apostles preached it; it will have just the same power in our hands that it had in the hands of the Apostles. Some persons speak as if they supposed that in the mouths of uninspired men the Gospel could not be expected to produce such great effects as when the Apostles preached it. But why, pray? What has inspiration to do with it? Inspiration revealed the Gospel; taught men to write what they have recorded; which record we have, and the same spirit which indited it, to explain it. Wherein, then, are we deficient? Depend upon it, friends, if we have the same spirit of love and confidence, with the same sympathy which they had both with God and man, the Gospel will be as powerful in our hands as it was in the hands of the Apostles. Since I have been a Christian myself, I have seen many hundreds of instances in which wonderful success in winning souls to Christ has attended those who have had the qualifications of which I have been speaking--sympathy with God and man. But I cannot now enter into these details or even mention these instances, in one lecture. I should like to deliver a course of lectures to this Society, instead of one, that I might direct your attention to these things. 7. Again: another condition of the success of the Churches in any given locality, is this--they must enter into sympathy with Christ, in respect to his spirit of self-sacrifice for the promotion of this work. The spirit of the Gospel is essentially a spirit of self-denial; and rely upon it, when this spirit is developed in the Church she will succeed in making great progress in this work. In order to great success there must be the same willingness to lay everything upon the altar, that was manifested by Christ, his Apostles, and the Primitive Church. Jesus laid everything upon the altar, in order to save men; and we must count nothing dear to us that can be given up for the promotion of this great object. 8. Another indispensable condition to success is the entire consecration of the ministry to this work. The ministers of Christ bear a very important relation to this work, but they are not required to accomplish it all themselves. They are like the officers in an army; instead of attempting to do all the fighting themselves, they direct the energies of others. Ministers are the officers in Christ's great army, who are fighting against sin, and seeking to win dominion for their Master: they take an important and leading part in the work, but by no means are they to be expected to do all the fighting themselves, any more than officers are in any army in the world. 9. I said there must be entire consecration to this work; and let me add further, that unless they manifest a true spirit of consecration, they will be stumbling-blocks to the rest of the Church. It is indispensable that they should show themselves to be men given up to this work, absolutely,--men possessing the true spirit of self-sacrifice, sympathising with God and man; and that they are on the altar in this matter. Without this, the masses in any locality will never be moved, and the minister will be a hindrance in the way of good being done. I do not know what may be the condition of the ministry here in London, and therefore I speak not personally, but I speak a general truth when I say, that if Christians do not see that their ministers are heart and soul in this work, that they are ready to sacrifice anything to promote it, they are, and must be, stumbling-blocks in the way of good being done. In order to be greatly useful, these men, whom God has placed in such a position, must let everybody see that they are heart and soul in this work, that they have laid their all upon the altar, that they count not their comfort, their reputation, their salary, nor even their lives dear unto themselves in comparison to moving the masses of mankind and bringing them to God. 10. Another indispensable condition of success is this: Lay men and women must cease to lay down one rule for their minister and another for themselves. They must conduct themselves by the same rule, and be upon the altar, too, in their respective spheres of labour. Instead of criticising their ministers, and finding fault with them, they must work under his direction and assistance. If the membership of the Church just suppose that they can put their responsibility upon the ministers, they are entirely mistaken. Suppose that the ministers come into the pulpits Sunday after Sunday, and labour, and toil, and weep, and pray, and the sinners sit and listen to the solemn and awful truths which come from the preacher's lips, and feel that they are solemn and awful realities; but suppose in the same place there is a multitude of careless professors of religion who show by their conduct that they don't believe what has been preached, what stumbling-blocks are they in the way of the conversion of these sinners, who would otherwise, in all probability, be converted! By their conduct they seem to say, "We don't believe in the truth of what our minister says in the pulpit--it is all very well for Sunday, and he is paid to believe and teach these things, but we don't concern ourselves about them." How many times, when ministers have poured out all their heart before a congregation, have sinners been roused, and felt their hearts start up in fear, and their hair to stand on end, in consequence of what they have heard; they are deeply impressed. The congregation begins to move out, the professors of religion laugh and shake hands with each other, and going home they converse upon indifferent subjects, just as if they had not been hearing of those great and eternal realities; and seem to say by all their words, actions, and looks, "Don't you be alarmed, you see we are not at all alarmed, and we have heard more about these things than ever you did; these things may be very well for the Sabbath, and fit for the pulpit, but there is no truth in them." No wonder that sinners are unconverted! The membership of the Churches must be made to feel their individual responsibility, they must come into sympathy with Christ, and with the minister so far as he sympathises with Christ, and labour with him for the conversion of souls. Let them understand that they must cease to apply one rule to the minister, another to themselves; let them feel their individual responsibility, and come right out and consecrate themselves for the work, and lay their all upon God; and then we shall see a great revival of true religion in our midst. 11. Another indispensable condition of success is, that our religion must begin at home, with our children and those immediately under our influence; and then we must seek the conversion of those whom, next to these, we can most readily reach and influence. When individuals are themselves converted, let them next secure the conversion of their children and those around them; and if they did this, they would create around them a little green and refreshing spot like that around the Siloam well, and its delightful soul-cheering and holy influence would soon be felt on every side. Let it be understood that persons must begin at home, and with those immediately around them, and then the influence must necessarily extend further. This must not only be felt to be true of ministers, but of everybody professing godliness. Let them each lay hold on their next friend, and bring him to Christ. 12. Another condition of success is this. The Church, and every individual member of the Church, must realise the guilt and danger of sinners. Let them look at it, and dwell upon it as they ought, and not turn their minds away from it. I have often thought that the reason why there is so little distress in the Church with respect to the state of sinners is, that Christians do not like to consider their real guilt and danger. They do not stir up their minds to a consideration of the real state of their children and their neighbours around them. Now, let me say, if persons are ever to be stirred up to take hold upon this subject, they must think upon it; and if they are ever to come into sympathy with God and man, they must attend to this subject; the mind must dwell upon it. 13. Once more: another condition of success is this--the members of the Church must cease to operate so much by proxy as they now do. The fact is, there is a very great and fatal tendency in Christians to do this, the great business of their lives, by proxy. They hire a minister, and pay a pound or two towards the support of a missionary, or a colporteur, and fancy that they have done the whole of their duty. Now, it is true that much good is to be done by ministers, missionaries, colporteurs, district visitors, and others in their several departments, but the Church membership must be wholly engaged if there is to be a large measure of success. The personal exertion of every Christian is needful and imperative; personal influence, personal conversation, prayer, and intelligent warning must be a condition of success in this great enterprise. I have never known this species of effort to be employed in any locality without an immediate and glorious result. I do not believe, in the history of the world, that the membership of any Church, in any part of the world, have engaged in this work in a right spirit, and from proper motives, without the success being such as to astonish themselves, it has been so far above all that they had expected. I say that every individual should be personally engaged in making known the Gospel, but I do not mean that they can give up their entire time to this work, but I do mean to say that very much more time might be employed by professors in this work than is at present, and immense good might result from it. 14. Another condition of success is: the Church must cease to neglect her duty, and then charge the failure upon the sovereignty of God. Some people talk as if want of success was to be ascribed to some mysterious sovereignty of God. It will do for us to talk of the sovereignty of God when we have done our duty, but not before. Why, what would you think of a man who should neglect to sow his field, and then, because at the time of harvest he had no crop, should ascribe it to the sovereignty of God? Or what would you think of a man who so shamefully neglected his business as to become a bankrupt, and then charge it to the sovereignty of God? Why, you would see the absurdity and wickedness of it at once. If the farmer tills and sows his land properly and wisely, and then God should send a blight upon it, so be it; but until he has done his duty in the spirit of dependence upon God, let him cease to talk, as if the want of a crop was the result of some mysterious sovereignty of God. So with Christians, they must cease to neglect their duty before they talk of the sovereignty of God hindering the conversion of sinners. 15. Again: professors of religion must cease to suppose that they do their duty, when they do not live in the true spirit of the Gospel. For example, suppose a minister should go into the pulpit from ambitious motives, that his chief desire should be to secure a great name for himself; and suppose this minister should say when he got home, "Well, I have preached so many times to-day, and I have done my duty." He preaches with a cold and unbelieving heart, and with little or no sympathy with Christ, little of no faith in the efficacy of the Gospel; and then can go home and say, "Well, whatever the result, I have done my duty;" and thus the want of success which is sure to follow such preaching, is thrown carelessly and wickedly upon God. "I have done my duty." No! You have not done your duty, even if you have preached the Gospel in all its truth, unless you have done it from a right motive, and in the spirit of the Gospel. If there are ministers present, let me say, that I am not affirming that you do any of these things, and preach the Gospel from wrong and impure motives, for I know you not; but I would call your attention to this, my brethren, for neither you nor I preach the Gospel in the spirit in which we ought to preach it, although we may preach the truth, and nothing but the truth, if we do not preach it in the spirit, and with the faith that Christ requires. Suppose our hearers should come to meeting and hear the Gospel, but not obey it, not believe it, and should then go home and say, "Well, we have been to meeting, and so we have done our duty." Nay! they have tempted God, instead of doing their duty. Let us, then, cease to talk about religion or duty, unless we come to our duty with right motives, and perform it in a right spirit. When we have done this, we may cast the results upon God, assured that Christ will complete the work which we have thus begun--for he says, "Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." 16. Another condition of success is this: the Church must come out from the world and show herself, and let it be known that God has a people in the world. Let there be a visible and plain distinction, that people may see that they are actuated by a different spirit, and living for a different end: they must appear to be what God says they are, "a holy nation, a royal priesthood, a peculiar people, zealous of good works." This is to be plainly seen as an indispensable condition of eminent success. 17. The stumbling-blocks, which have been produced by a worldly spirit, must be taken out of the way. If we have manifested an unkind, or unjust, or unchristian spirit, in our families, in our neighbourhoods, or in our business relations; anything that caused men to stumble; led them to doubt our Christianity, or gave them reason to doubt whether there was any truth in religion at all,--I say we must take these stumbling-blocks up, we must take them out of the way; we must confess our sins and forsake them, and show, by our constant anxiety for the souls of our children and our neighbours, that we have faith in our religion, and desire them to participate in its blessings. As an illustration, let me mention a fact which occurred in America. An elder of a Presbyterian Church, one of the most respectable men of the town where he lived, and was thought by his neighbours to be a very religious man, as he attended to the forms of religion very regularly; but still there was a deal of formality about him, and but little of the powerful life-giving energy of religion. This man had a large family of sons and daughters at the time of which I am speaking, men and women grown, and yet none of them were converted. One day he was walking alone, a little way from his house, when he became very seriously impressed with the thought that his family were not converted, and questioned himself as to the reason; and he was forcibly struck with the conviction that he had never entered into the subject with them in such a manner as that they should be able to realise their guilt and danger; and as he continued to reflect upon this, such was his agony that he trembled fearfully, and the perspiration rolled down his face. He started off for his house, and before he could get there he fairly ran. When he reached the house he inquired in a very excited voice for one and another of his children; hearing the tones and manner in which their father was speaking, the family were soon assembled to learn what could be the matter. When they were all come together, the father fell upon his knees, and made confession to them and to God, and prayed for their souls. It so affected the whole family that in a very short time they were all converted. Now, I could tell you of multitudes of cases similar to this, where individuals have come to see that they have not done their duty, but have resolved to do it, and obtained a blessed result. 18. Again: if the Church will succeed in this matter, she must be willing to be searched and reproved; and the language of every member must be, "Search me, O search me, and try my heart, and see what evil there is in me; and lead me in the way that is everlasting." They must be intensely desirous to know what is essential to this great work, and to be made fit for its accomplishment. There must be deep self-examination, and a determination to do whatever is necessary to be done. 19. The Church must cease to grieve the Holy Spirit by her selfishness and self- indulgence. The fact is, persons are often complaining that they want the Spirit, while they are grieving the Spirit by their self-indulgent practices. While in this state it is naturally impossible for them to have the Spirit dwelling in their hearts. Many individuals grieve the Holy Spirit, and yet they are not conscious of it. They live in a great many forms of self-indulgence, and complain of the absence of the Spirit, and yet do not know wherein they are in fault. Are not ministers often very guilty in this respect? My design is not to reprove ministers where reproof is not needed; but I must be faithful. Oh, brethren, take care not to grieve the Holy Spirit! Watch your thoughts, and be careful of all your actions, and separate yourselves from worldly men and worldly influences as much as you can, in order that you may the more effectually help forward the work of God. 20. The spirit of caste must be got rid of. By the spirit of caste I mean the spirit that seems to overlook the fact that men are brethren. From the very nature of things, I know there will be different stations in society, and which probably will always exist to a greater or less extent; and those which are proper I do not condemn; but there is an improper feeling and spirit too much prevalent among many in the higher walks of life, which prevents their doing good to those below them in station. I have been astonished sometimes to see the aversion of many professors of religion to descend to the lower class of society to do them good. Now, you know that this was not the case with Jesus Christ, whose constant aim it was to benefit and bless the poor; and he even went to this class for the men whom he chose for his apostles, to carry the Gospel to the world. I cannot enlarge upon this now; but you all know that in every locality there is a spirit of caste that misrepresents the Christian religion, and does an immense injury to the great mass of the lower classes in consequence. Christians, while they should faithfully rebuke their vices and reprove them for their sins, should also deeply sympathise with them in their poverty, and pity their distresses; and this is the way to win their hearts and lead them to the Saviour. The most flimsy infidelity takes possession of their minds, just in proportion to the seeming sympathy of the infidel teachers with their wants and necessities. They know how to appreciate such kindness; and the fact is, there is a great want of deep and intense sympathy on the part of the Christian Church with the masses of the poorer classes. Let this state of things be altered; let them get the impression, let it be once understood, that Christians are living to do them good in every way, and they will prefer Christianity to infidelity. It is not meant that Christians, in showing their sympathy should take such a part as to connive at their intemperance or sin in any form; but let the Christian seek to win them from vice, and persuade them to give up their intemperance in every form and degree; seek their welfare, temporal and spiritual, and a blessed result will follow. I have been astonished many times to see what a want of this spirit is to be found in different localities; and, in consequence, the mass of mankind are carried away with the most flimsy and absurd infidelity, because Christians fail to take any deep sympathy and interest in them. Now, if you are parents, let your families see that you earnestly desire their conversion to God. If you are a master, and have many persons under your influence, let them see that you have an earnest desire for their good, that you are vastly more desirous of securing their soul's salvation than their services in your business. The power of such conduct will be very great; it will move them--there is no mistake about it. But I must pass rapidly over these thoughts. 21. The Churches must be willing to be searched, and must help to search each other. Several years since, the students of one of my theological classes came to me for advice, as to the best plan they could adopt to assist each other in the best possible way to prepare for the ministry. I advised them to have a weekly meeting to search each other, to open their hearts to each other; and, furthermore, to privately tell each other their faults, and in the most fraternal manner try to reform everything that was wrong in their hearts, spirit, habits, and manners; in all and everything to make the most holy self-denial; and to unite in prayer for each other. They did this in several classes, and just in proportion as they have been faithful to each other, have I had the satisfaction of seeing them become prosperous and godly men, scattered about over our great country, with hearts full of love and faith, prosecuting the great work to which Christ has called them. Those classes that did most for each other in the way which I have named, have succeeded best, since they entered the ministry, in winning souls to Christ. Thus, I say, the Churches of Christ must be willing to be searched, they must search each other by all possible fidelity, kindness, and brotherly love. 22. Once more, all parties must realise their true responsibility. Every individual must remember that he is to be a missionary. We speak of missionaries as if they were men only who were sent to preach the Gospel to the heathen, or were connected with some Society for spreading the Gospel at home, forgetting often that every Christian is a missionary, or ought to be. 23. A high standard of piety is an indispensable condition to success in this work: there will never be any very great success in this city, or in any other locality, if the standard of piety be not greatly elevated in the Churches. In those localities that I have known, where great revivals of religion have taken place, the standard of piety has been raised higher and higher from time to time. Some person speak of revivals as if they were mere temporary excitements; that after revivals there has been declension, which has left the standard of religion lower than it was before the revival took place. Now, so far as my experience goes, I never knew such a state of things as that; if it was really a revival of religion, and Christians have got the standard of piety elevated in their own hearts, they will get a new development of spiritual life, from the brightness of which they may afterwards decline; but they will never go back so far as they were before. I have known persons pass through another and another revival; but at every succeeding revival they have had a higher development of spiritual life within them. Now, I stand not here to charge you with being hypocrites or backsliders, but I say, if you are to move the masses, and be the means of numerous conversions, you must have a higher standard of piety, a higher development of spiritual life. This must be! I will take your present standard at any given point, and say, from that point, whatever it may be, your piety must be greatly elevated; and just in that proportion will you be able to reach and influence those around you. If there are any ministers who sustain such a position before their people as not move their hearts, let me tell them that they never will move them, until they themselves have a higher development of spiritual life. Visitors, tract distributors, and all other labourers in this work, let me tell you--and you will, of course, not be offended with me when I tell you--that there must be a more thorough development of Christ in you; it must manifest itself in your looks, manners, and voice, that every man with whom you meet may be satisfied that you are sincere. A man by only looking at you can tell whether you are in earnest. The tone of your voice will often reveal the state of your heart. A man might go through the streets of the city calling, Fire! fire! in such tones that nobody would believe him. Now, you must speak about religion in such tones that people will believe you, or you will fail to make any impression. If you speak about religion in such a way as to lead men to suppose that you don't yourself believe what you are saying, it is impossible for you to get persons to believe what you say. You must be so much in earnest that your earnestness cannot be concealed. Whitfield used to stand in this pulpit, and let me ask what was the secret of his power? His earnestness. Everybody knew that he was in earnest. All men felt, they could not but feel, that he was in solemn earnest, and so they listened and were saved. Let the Church awake up from sleep, and show herself to be in earnest, and when she has done this, if she fails, then talk of the sovereignty of God, and not before.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 6 - CHRIST MAGNIFYING THE LAW. paragraph 17

     II. Why he should magnify the law and make it honourable; and what law is this? 1. Here let me remark, that very much of the infidelity and scepticism in the world has originated in this fact, that so many men have never attained to clear conceptions of what the law of God really is, and its relation to themselves; they generally look no farther than the letter of the law, entirely overlooking its spirit; and regarding it as emanating simply from the arbitrary will of God, and that he can dispense with the execution of it at pleasure. To make myself understood, I must give you my idea of the true nature of the moral law which is here spoken of. We have the letter of this law in the table of what are called the ten commandments; and indeed all the preceptive parts of the Bible may be regarded as simply explanatory of this law, as the principle contained in it applies to the outward conduct of human life. A just conception of the spirit of the moral law will show us that it originated in the eternal and immutable nature of God. From all eternity, God necessarily possessed an existence, and with that existence certain attributes--natural attributes. He possessed omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, and so forth. Now, there must have been some way in which it became him, from his very nature, to use these attributes; these attributes he possessed necessarily, and eternally, and there must be some way in which his intelligence must affirm that these attributes ought to be used. Now, observe, when we understand truly the spirit of the moral law, our reason affirms that all creatures are under obligation to exercise universal obedience to it. The moral law, then, is this--the eternal affirmation of God's own mind in respect to what course of conduct is proper in himself and in all moral agents; it is the eternal and necessary affirmation of the Divine reason and conscience as to how the attributes of any moral agent ought to be used. It is a necessary idea in God's mind, and in the mind of all moral agents: for example, no man can doubt that God's eternal reason must have affirmed that he ought to be benevolent. Who can doubt that selfishness or malevolence in God would have been sin in him? If God had been selfish and malevolent instead of being benevolent, that would have been sin in him; and why? Because God is a moral agent. Men are moral agents, and they have a nature which necessarily leads them to affirm this. The benevolence of God is really his virtue: and why? Because the exercise of benevolence is in compliance with that rule of conduct which was becoming in God to pursue; his reason affirmed his own obligation to it. Now, I have thought sometimes, that persons entirely overlook the fact that God is himself a moral agent, and the subject of moral obligation as really as they are. Some people startle at this, lest it should be thought derogatory to God's character; but if this were not so, God could not be virtuous: as he is a moral agent, he must be under moral obligation. The moral law was not given to God by any other being, for he is "a law unto himself"--his own eternal reason and conscience affirming that the carrying out of the principles of benevolence would be right in him, and of course the opposite wrong. When, therefore, God acts according to the moral law, he acts in compliance with an eternal law of his own nature, by which he was led to determine his own conduct, as the condition of his own happiness, and as the condition of the happiness of all moral agents. Let it be understood, then, that the moral law did not originate in God's arbitrary will; it lay further back--in a necessary law of his own eternal consciousness; as a rule of action it was prescribed to him by his own consciousness. This law is also prescribed to us by our own consciousness as well as enforced by the authority of God; and if we possessed none to legislate for us, and while possessing the same nature that we now do, our consciousness would have prescribed this rule of action to us--affirming that we ought to be benevolent. If the arbitrary will of God had originated this law, he could dispense with it at his pleasure; he could change the nature of virtue and vice, he could make that which is now virtue vice, and that which is now vice virtue, simply by altering his law; but does any one think that God could do this? Now, God never can change the nature of virtue and vice, and he claims no such power. This law having originated thus, and not by God's arbitrary will, it is binding upon us, as moral agents, by the very laws of our being. God created us moral agents like himself, and thus made this law obligatory upon us, enjoined it upon us by his own authority, and made it obligatory, also, by a law of our own nature. Now, the spirit of this law requires universal and perfect benevolence to God and man. By benevolence I mean love, with reference to the law of God and to the universe; this is what God's law requires of all moral agents. Now, observe, this law is as unalterable as God's own nature is--he did not create it, neither can he alter it in the least degree; he did not create it any more than he created himself--it never began to be any more than God did himself. Originating in his own self-existing nature, his own reason must have eternally recognised it as the course of action to be pursued by him; and thus it is plain that this law can never be repealed by him, and made less obligatory in reference to himself, or us--it can never undergo any change in its requirements, and can never be dispensed with in any case whatever. 2. Again: this law is infinitely valuable in the ends which it aims to secure. It is naturally impossible for moral agents to be happy unless they are virtuous, and virtue consists in obeying this eternal law. All virtue consists in perfect love--this is virtue in all moral agents. Now, in no further than this law is conformed to can there be happiness amongst men. Virtue is the basis of happiness, properly so called, in God or in anybody else. This law, then, aims to secure and promote all that creates happiness, as the condition of the happiness of God and of his creatures. I suppose that the things which I am affirming this morning will be admitted by all who hear me as self-evident truth; the mind of every moral agent must affirm them to be true, by a law of our own nature we affirm it, that they are true, that they must be true; for example, benevolence was proper and becoming in God, therefore obligatory upon him; and the opposite course would have been wrong--mind, I am not supposing that such a thing ever was or ever will be; but I am only supposing that if such a thing were possible, that God was not a good but a wicked being. Hence every moral agent will affirm that the moral law is a law which God imposed upon himself, and that it did not originate in his own arbitrary will--that its obligations can never be dispensed with in any case, neither repealed nor altered in any particular. Again: every moral agent, also, must affirm that this law must be of infinite value, because it aims to secure an infinitely valuable end. 3. The true spirit of this law can never be violated. There may be exceptions to the letter of the law, but not to the Spirit--nobody possesses any power to make the slightest exceptions to the spirit of the moral law; but as I just now said, to the letter of the law there may be exceptions. The law prohibits any work being done on the Sabbath, and yet the priests were allowed to do the work of the sanctuary on that day without violating the spirit of the command. All labour was prohibited, but works of necessity and mercy were nevertheless allowed, and even required. These were exceptions to the letter of the moral law, but not to its spirit; to which there can be no exception. Again: the transgression of the moral law by any human being, is a public denial of its obligation. It is a denial of the propriety, necessity, or justice of its being law at all, and that it is unworthy of being so. 4. Again: let us look at the necessity that Christ should magnify the law and make it honourable. Mankind had denied the obligation of this law, publicly and most blasphemously denied it. Now, observe, if any other than a public act, for forgiving sin, and setting aside the penalty of this law, had been adopted, if no regard had been paid to its vindication, God would have sanctioned and completed the dishonour. The law had been denied, man had denied its justice, and now suppose God should come forth and set aside the execution of the law, and make a universal offer of pardon without taking any notice of this dishonour to the law by any public act whatever, would not this have been to dishonour the law. Now, man in a most direct and emphatic manner had come right out in the face of the whole universe and denied that it was obligatory, that it was just, proper, necessary, and reasonable; and let me say that by their actual transgression they had denied the power of the law in a higher sense than they could by mere words. Now, if God very good-naturedly had said, "Well, no matter, I will forgive you, only be sorry," and had taken no notice of the dishonour that had been done to the law, would this have been to magnify the law and make it honourable? would it not have been rather, on the part of God, by a most public and emphatic act, just to sanction the horrible dishonour that had been done to his law? To have thus acted, every one will see, would have been unjust to himself, unjust to the law, and unjust to the universe, and ruinous to all parties--and therefore it never could be. 5. Again: two things, then, must be done if men were to be saved at all. First, something must be done to honour this law, and to honour it as thoroughly as it had been dishonoured: second, something must be done to restore men to obedience as a condition of their being pardoned; something that must restore them to that state of virtue, love, and confidence which the law required. These two things must be done, to save the law from dishonour and the universe from ruin. Observe, the law had been disgraced in some way, therefore the degraded law must be made honourable. Man had been rebellious, he must be made obedient as a condition of the first proposition. 6. This leads me to say that both precept and penalty must be vindicated: both had been denied, both had been dishonoured. Now, it is easy to see that this could be done by no subject of the government; a mere creature could not magnify either the precept or the penalty of this law. It is easy to see that the lawgiver must provide for both, as the condition of its being proper in him to set aside the execution of the penalty in the case of sinners. Now, this law may be honoured either by its penalty being executed on the offender, or it may by honoured by some substitute taking the sinner's place, if one could be found. 7. Again, I inquire, how can God honour the law? Here again, we have an important light shed upon the two natures of our Lord Jesus Christ, and upon the necessity of his possessing two natures in order to perform the work that was assigned him. The obedience of any mere creature could not be a sufficient vindication of this law. Great multitudes of the whole race had denied its propriety and justice. Now, if any mere creature had come forth and obeyed it, this would not have been to sufficiently honour the law which had been dishonoured by myriads. Now, it is very easy to see that if Christ possessed two natures, human and Divine, that he would be precisely in a position to magnify the law and make it honourable. Officially, and before the universe, he obeyed the law in both his natures; recognising its obligation as respects God and all moral agents. It is thus shown to be the rule of God's conduct, as well as the rule of our conduct; it is a rule which God imposed upon himself, and as really obligatory upon himself as upon us. Now, no mere creature, by obeying this law, could show its obligation upon Jehovah himself. But when man denied its obligation, Jehovah himself came forth, in the presence of the universe, and acknowledged its obligation, by recognising it in his two natures--one the nature of man, who had denied its obligation; and in this nature he obeyed every jot and tittle of it--"Heaven and earth," he said, "shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." Heaven and earth were not so steadfast as this law. Thus we see that in these two natures Christ fully obeyed the law, and though it had been trampled upon and degraded, lifted it up high as the throne of Jehovah. 8. Again: we say that the suffering of one who sustained no other relation to God than that of a mere creature, could not vindicate the justice of the law, or the penalty that it denounced against sin; but the Lord Jesus Christ, by taking two natures, and by the public sacrifice of the human nature on the altar of public justice, in vindication of this law, and as a substitution for the execution of its penalty, for the legitimate subject of it, did what none but himself could do. Christ, we say, suffered the penalty of this law, but in some sense he suffered it not as sinners would--as they must have done; he could not feel the bitterness and remorse which is a part of the lawful penalty awarded to those who commit sin; but he magnified this law, and made it honourable, for he sustained at once a relation to the lawgiver, and to those who had denied the obligation of the law. How beautifully, then, in these two natures united, could he vindicate the law, and thoroughly honour it in every particular.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 9 - GREAT CITIES - WHAT HINDERS THEIR CONVERSION? paragraph 13

Let me say, then, that all sin may be said to resolve itself into this--a spirit of devotion to self. It is generally believed, I suppose, that our first parents, when they sinned, fell into a state of total alienation from God. What was the particular thing they did? They withdrew their devotion from God, in order to gratify themselves, in spite of His authority. He told them they might eat of every tree in the garden, save one. He designed to throw a restraint upon them, for the sake of subduing their wills--developing and strengthening their virtue; but then they withdrew their allegiance from God, and set up to be gods themselves! The tempter said, "Ah! though God said, Of every tree of the garden mayest thou eat, except of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; thou mayest eat even of that, and in the day in which thou dost eat thereof thou shalt NOT surely die, but ye shall be as gods, knowing good from evil!" Of this, when Eve saw it, she partook. What constituted the great evil of this? It was not only disobedience to God's expressed commands, but it was sinning simply for the sake of their own personal gratification. Instead of seeking the honor, and obeying the commands of the Almighty, they withdrew themselves from God, and devoted themselves to the promotion of their own interests, in despite of God. Now, this is the sin of all mankind, for they withhold their allegiance from God, and devote themselves to themselves. "Selfishness" is a word which may express the will of sin, if properly understood. It matters not at all which of the propensities overrules the rest, and leads the mind into bondage. Sin consists in man's giving himself up to himself--to his own gratification, and seeking his own pleasure and profit. This develops itself in a great variety of ways. In one man, one propensity entices the will to seek its particular gratification; in another, another. This gratification of the various propensities--this devotion of the will and of the being to pleasing self in some way or other-is the great evil of the world. Now, whatever makes strong and powerful appeals to these propensities, are obstacles to be overcome. The thing to be done, is to withdraw man from himself, and to bring him to God. Our first parents set up to be gods for themselves. Now, if they had come back, and consecrated themselves to God, yielding up their whole being to obey Him, and seeking His interest and His glory--to have done this, would have been to have returned to God. There must be begun in us that devotion to God which constitutes piety. We must forsake ourselves; for virtue, or holiness, resolves itself into a unit as much as sin does, and the mind devoted to self, is a mind totally depraved; while the mind devoted to God--seeking his glory, and yielding itself up to be influenced by Him--this is a pious mind. Now, to induce men to cease altogether to live to and for themselves, and to live to God, is to restore them to a position in which they can be happy. A great many persons seem to talk, as if in this, and in all great cities, the people were very peculiar. Now, the peculiarity is not with the people, but it is with the circumstances which make the selfishness, which takes one development in one place, and another in another. The fact is, great cities are the very hot--beds of those influences which make such strong appeals to these propensities, yielding the mind up to which, constitute sin. The appetite for food or drink, when inordinate, is not a constitutional appetite, but the will seeking gratification; whereas the Almighty forbids us to give ourselves up to obey and seek the gratification of these propensities, instead of subordinating every one of them to the will and glory of God.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 9 - GREAT CITIES - WHAT HINDERS THEIR CONVERSION? paragraph 14

I pass on, then, in the next place, to inquire into some of the difficulties in the way of securing the end I have just named, namely, the subjugation of selfishness. Scarcely any of these difficulties are peculiar to great cities, in the sense that they do not exist at all in other places--for almost all of them exist in most places;--but the peculiarity is, that they exist in a multiplied form in great cities. Things in the way in great cities, may be expressed thus:--Great cities expose men to most aggravated forms of temptation. Don't let me be supposed to assert, that these things don't exist in other places: but that they do really exist in a most intense degree in great cities.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 9 - GREAT CITIES - WHAT HINDERS THEIR CONVERSION? paragraph 28

The next thing I have to say, is, what are the stumbling-blocks in the way of conversion of the ungodly? 1. The business habits of the Church--( it is a curious retributive law of God's kingdom)--the business habits of the ungodly draw the Church astray to a great extent. They fall into these ungodly habits. Their selfishness has taken effect to some extent, and what is the result? The Church is now a snare to them. They snared the Church, and now the worldly business habits of the Church snare them. So far as experience has gone, there is no such great stumbling-block so powerful as this. Many persons are engaged in kinds of business which the ungodly know are purely selfish. If professors act in this way, what will their clerks say? Who does not know that the ungodly in the employment of such men are stumbled by their conduct? Again, the self-indulgent habits of the Church, into which they are drawn by the worldly influences to which they are subjected, have a reactionary tendency on the people generally. Again, the manifested unbelief and cowardice of the Church, are great evils in the great cities. Professors of religion are shorn of their strength in great cities, they are afraid to be faithful, they cower down before the ungodly, and their influence. This is the great stumbling block; it is thus, then, as I said before, that, by a natural retributive law of the government of God, that if the world lays a snare for the Church, just so far as they succeed in ensnaring the Church, will they ensnare themselves. They bring down their violent dealings on their own head; it is easy to see that this is the natural action of things. But I must notice only a few things which are common to all classes.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 9 - GREAT CITIES - WHAT HINDERS THEIR CONVERSION? paragraph 29

First, for example, the temptations to intemperance and licentiousness. The appeals which are made, on every hand, to the weaknesses of human nature, all the ingenuity of science--earth and hell would seem to have been ransacked in order to develop to the utmost these propensities, to draw them out, and to compel the will to yield itself up thereto. As you walk the streets everywhere these things meet the eye, and strike the ear. The whole thing seems to have been molded, as it were, by some infernal agency. Temptations are presented alike to old and young, both sexes, and all classes of society. As you go round the city you perceive there are bands with trumpets before the tippling houses, getting the people to stop and hear the music--getting them to do this, and then, of course, they want something to drink. All sorts of things are contrived to entice people to these tippling houses--to get people to this place, and that place, to this lecture and that lecture, to this banquet of music and that banquet of wine. In short, who does not know that in our great cities it seems as if these things were set together as close as type. They thrust something into every nook. To arrest attention, the streets are placarded with all sorts of huge notices. But this is not enough; they send men to carry on their shoulders notices of the same baneful description. And, again, men drive about the city with these notices posted on great vans. Now, only think! the whole place is swarmed with them. Wherever you go you see them, and feel their influences. These are all so many stimuli tending to develop the love of sin--selfishness, to tempt the will to indulge the appetite. These things are seen on every hand, and as the Christian walks the streets, he must either hold constant communication with God, or yield himself up to temptation.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 12 - TOTAL ABSTINENCE A CHRISTIAN DUTY. paragraph 37

Another objection is--4. That the rights of hospitality demand it. Now, what is intended by this? The rights of hospitality! Has any man a right to expect me to do that which is inconsistent with benevolence as a mere matter of hospitality? No! You think, perhaps, you will be accused of selfishness instead of benevolence, by refusing to provide it. The fact is, that if your reputation must suffer for doing your duty, let it suffer; for the man who is not prepared to do this, is not prepared to go the length of taking Christ and his apostles as his examples. Men, when they bring up such excuses, and accuse others of selfishness, are not even themselves satisfied with their own reasonings; so that while they accuse others of selfishness, and of disregarding the rights of hospitality is not offering it--I cannot believe that they are satisfied with such reasoning as theirs.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 12 - TOTAL ABSTINENCE A CHRISTIAN DUTY. paragraph 55

They are both persevered for the same reason. Their usefulness and necessity, are pleaded for in the same manner. The spirit of selfishness acts the same part in both cases. In America, we find the same difficulty, in both cases, in the way of getting rid of these evils. Both are so firmly fixed in the habits of the people--so many interests are at stake, so much property is invested, both in ardent spirits and in slaves--there are so many difficulties in the way of getting rid of both--it is astonishing to see to what an extent these difficulties are the same. We find the same reluctance to examine the question on the part of those who are connected with either of these trades. Many pulpits were formerly shut to both these questions. Preachers have refused to give notice from the pulpits of meetings on these subjects. There is the same sensibility of rebuke both from the pulpit, and through the press. Some said, they were not proper questions for the pulpit, especially on the Sabbath.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 13 - MAKING GOD A LIAR. paragraph 21

V. The results of unbelief. First, unbelief always produces a heartless religion. Therefore, whenever you find a man whose religion is not soul-satisfying--not a living principle in his soul; whenever you find, in your own experience, that religion is not peace and joy in the Holy Ghost; whenever you find, that your religion is not a spontaneous principle of love to God, you may conclude that the reason is because the heart is filled with unbelief. Again: if you lose your faith, your religion will be legal. When persons lose their faith, they do a great many things without regard to God at all. They cease to have an eye to God's will, pleasure, and glory; you cannot distinguish between them and the professedly unGodly. Oftentimes, what they call their religious duties, they perform not out of love to God, supreme regard to him, but to promote their own selfishness. Again: another consequence of unbelief is that it renders salvation naturally impossible. Now, it should always be remembered that the conditions of salvation are not arbitrary; they are natural and necessary conditions. If anybody would go to heaven, be must be prepared for heaven. If an individual has not love to God in his heart, it is naturally impossible that he should be happy in heaven. What would there be in heaven to interest him? What would he do in heaven? To enjoy heaven, and be happy there, he must be a holy man, and this he can only be as he is made so by faith. Again: of course, disobedience of heart to God is always a result of unbelief; there is no heart-obedience to any government, any further than individuals have confidence in that government; the heart of man must confide in any system of government, in order to a hearty and true obedience to it. In respect to the governmental consequences: all unbelief entirely rejects the Mediator between God and man--it rejects the office, the authority, and atonement of Christ altogether. The penalty of the law is dead against those that are unbelievers--those who believe not are condemned already, because they have not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 15 - THE CONDITIONS OF PREVAILING PRAYER. paragraph 11

2. The rejection not only of sins of the outward life but the rejection of heart sins, is an indispensable condition of prevailing prayer. In the first passage I have read, it is merely implied, that if we do not keep a conscience void of offense if we do not reject the sins both of our heart and life we cannot expect him to hear us. In the second passage, this is expressly affirmed" if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." What is this? Why, if you have iniquity in your hearts. What are heart sins? Every form of selfishness belongs to the heart, as does all sin, or, properly speaking, every species of self-seeking. God expressly says, he will not hear you. Will not this account for the fact, that many do that which they call "praying," without prevailing with God?

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 15 - THE CONDITIONS OF PREVAILING PRAYER. paragraph 30

A selfish petition, therefore, will have no influence with God. It would disgrace him if it should. Petitions must be free from selfishness. We must rise above mere selfish considerations, and take into view the great reason for which God answers prayer. If persons would pray, for example, for their own holiness and sanctification, it should be because they sympathize with God's view of sin. They must be willing to be holy, whatever fiery trials the attainment and maintenance of holiness may lead them through. Men take a wrong view of this matter, supposing sanctification has no trials, whereas it often tests and tries men, in order that they and every one else may see what God has done for them.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 21 - THE SABBATH SCHOOL - CONDITIONS OF SUCCESS. paragraph 18

Take heed that you are taught of God. You must have the spirit of the gospel to explain it to you. You need to be ministers of the spirit as well as ministers of the letter,--instructed by the Holy Spirit himself. Take heed to this, for you certainly may be thus instructed, seeing that God never sets men to make bricks without straw, and if, therefore, he has really called you to instruct others, he will instruct you, if you will allow him to do so. But he will only instruct you on certain conditions--(1) that you believe, and (2) that you renounce your selfishness and have a single eye to his glory in seeking your instruction, and not any selfish motive. In the prayer, you will recollect I mentioned two passages in Scripture. "If a man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth liberally and upbraideth not;" and again, that "except a man forsake all that he hath, and follow me, he cannot be my disciple." To be a disciple is to be a pupil. You cannot have him for a teacher unless you forsake all that you have. This means that you must renounce selfishness, not seeking to be taught from any selfish motive, but for the same reason that he would impart instruction. Do this and you may be sure you will be taught of God. Only seek to be instructed for God's glory; pray in faith, and you will certainly receive instruction according to your need.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 23 - SEEKING HONOUR FROM MEN. paragraph 23

"How can ye believe which receive honor of men, and seek not that honor which cometh from God only?" First, it implies a disposition to be honored by them. To "receive" honor from men, implies that the mind embraces it, and comes into sympathy with it. Now, a man may be honored by his fellow-men, without being said to receive that honor in the sense here meant, or any sense that implies anything wrong. He may not seek it; and he may regard it as of no such importance as to sacrifice any principle of right and truth to it. To "receive" it, then, in the sense of the text, implies that the mind has such a regard to the public sentiment, or the opinion, good will, and favor of men in some particular thing, more than the opinion and favor of God. It implies a state of mind, in fact, that has no sympathy with God--a selfish state of mind that regards the approbation of men as a great thing, and that seeks to secure the favor and applause of men. That state of mind, I say, is selfish; it has the spirit of self-seeking in that particular form. For instance, some men seek money--that is the form in which their selfishness manifests itself; others seek power; others still, seek their own reputation among men--they aim to secure popularity, in order that they may control and rule; and such a regard have they for the praise of men, that they will not sacrifice it for the honor and approbation of Christ.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 23 - SEEKING HONOUR FROM MEN. paragraph 25

This is plainly stated in the text. Christ does not mean to say that we have no power to put away that selfish spirit and feeling, but that while we have that form of selfishness, we cannot believe. Do you say, Why is faith impossible? "Why? Just because there is no fellowship between Christ and the world. "He that will be a friend of the world, is an enemy of God," says the apostle. Again: Christ and the world have a spirit in complete opposition to each other. Again: There cannot be any sympathy both with the world and with Christ. Again: If persons seek to please the world and to have it's sympathy, favor, approbation, and good will, they are in a state of mind which is directly over against the state of mind that will please God, and secure the good will, approbation and favor of Christ. These two states of mind are exactly opposite. But mark! they are both voluntary states of mind. We can determine whether to love the world or to love God, whether to have the favor of the world or the favor of God; but we cannot have both at once; we cannot walk in two exactly opposite directions at the same time; we cannot will supremely to love God, and yet supremely will to seek the applause and honor of man, at the same time. It is an absurdity to suppose such a thing possible. I have known individuals to have such a supreme regard to the opinions and approbation of an individual, as to be in perfect bondage to him; the approbation and favor of that individual was more regarded than the favor of all the world beside, or perhaps than Christ himself. Now, a man who is in that state of mind cannot be in Christ: if he is in bondage to man, he cannot have a supreme regard to the will of Christ.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 24 - HARDENING THE HEART. paragraph 59

Now, observe, beloved, that if the truth is but yielded to, this is conversion itself. Conversion is the act of the mind in turning from error, selfishness, and sin, and yielding to the claims, and obeying the commands of the Almighty. This is conversion.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 28 - PURITY OF HEART AND LIFE. paragraph 25

But let me say again: regard to the rights of others in all respects is implied in washing our hands in innocency, including the payment of our debts and exact uprightness in all business transactions; not in the sense of compliance with human laws, but in the view of the great principle of loving your neighbour as yourself. Washing your hands in innocency, implies that all your business be transacted upon this principle. You cannot really be honest except only when you love your neighbour as yourself, and regard his interests as you would your own, and seek his good as well as your own. Suppose a man comes into your shop for a certain article, and you knew well that you have not got what he wants; but you show him another, and say, that this is not exactly the article you wanted, but it is better than the one you inquired for, and it is the article most generally used, while at the same time you know that you are deceiving the man; you know it is an inferior article, but you say, though this is not exactly what you wanted, I guess it is better and will answer your turn quite as well; you will get it on to him if you can, no matter by what means. Now let me ask, is this being honest with God? Is this washing the hands in innocency? Is it indeed! O, the endless tricks of selfishness, and the endless subterfuges with which men excuse themselves; and yet so much piety in the midst of it all--selfish all the week, but mighty pious on the Sabbath! Sometimes it is that persons would not on any account stay away from church on the Sabbath, but they would cheat you in their business on the Monday if they had an opportunity of doing so. Suppose a man comes into your shop and asks if you have such an article, and if you are not sure that you have, will you tell him so? will you say--I do not know that I have: I will look, but I do not think I have anything that will exactly answer your purpose. There is an article something like it, you can look at it and see if it will suit you. Now, will you tell him all that you know about that, and be right up and down with him? Or do you say that is not my business. Let me take care of myself. Your customer is ignorant of the quality of the article: will you be honest with him, or will you take advantage of his ignorance, and charge him more than it is worth? Perhaps he will barely get home before he finds out that neither the article nor the price were what they ought to have been. Suppose you say, well, I am seeking to get money that I may give it to the Missionary cause! Let me tell you that a man might as well fit out a pirate ship for the same purpose! You take advantage, lie and cheat, to get money for God! Well, when you have got the money so for God; just go into your closet, lay the money down, and say, "Lord, thou knowest how I got this money today: there was a man came into my shop and wanted a certain article; and I had not what he wanted, but I had one not so good, but I managed to get him to take it, and I charged him a little more than it was worth, because I wanted to give something to the Missionary cause!" Now would that be washing the hands in innocency? Can you serve God in such a way as that? Would an infinitely holy God accept such an offering? Judge ye!

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 30 - REFUGES OF LIES. paragraph 8

Let me say in the next place. Another refuge of lies to which mankind betake themselves is religious impulse. By this I mean they are excited purely by their feelings. This is a prevailing form of selfishness. This delusion consists in appealing to the feelings instead of to God's law as developed in the conscience and reason. Such persons as these think themselves very religious, because they feel deeply upon the subject. You will very often hear persons when spoken to on the subject of religion, say something about their feelings--they will tell you that they feel so and so; but take away their feelings and they have no religion. Now mark! I call this a religion of impulse, because it is not a religion of principle. These people become religious in proportion as their own feelings are excited; bring them under exciting means, and they are very religious. Nay! strongly excite them, and they will do almost anything; excite and rouse their feelings, and you can carry them along. But let the circumstances subside which excited their feelings, and you see that they have not the root of the matter within them. Now it is remarkable to what an extent we see the religion of impulse prevail--they are wonderfully religious while excitement prevails; but let it be swept away by neglect of the means of grace, and they will be very dull, and know very little about piety. If they do attend to means at all, it will perhaps be only the communion. Perhaps they will be superstitious enough to hold on to the ordinance--for there is a vast deal of this in every country that I have visited. Persons who are not really religious in their daily life, will yet make a point of appearing at the ordinance. Now it is very evident that such persons have no religion, and they make an ordinance of religion a refuge of lies in which they trust. They are like the Roman Catholics, who are very careful about attending to their Masses--they make attention to ordinances one of the prominent features of their religion. Now let me tell you right here--and you may set it down as a universal truth, that wherever the prominent feature of a person's religion is attendance upon ordinances, it is a sure sign that he is not a Christian. What are ordinances? They are the means of perpetuating certain truths in the world. The design of the Lord's Supper was to perpetuate the remembrance of the Lord's death. "As often," said the apostle, "as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come." It is symbolic and commemorative: the same by baptism. They commemorate two great truths, and are very important as such; but no Christian makes them his religion. He is not sanctified by baptism and the Lord's Supper, but by the reality which they represent. He has got the reality in his own heart--he leans on Christ, he feeds on Christ, he loves to commemorate the ordinances of Christ;--but mark! if he is not self-denying, prayerful, anxious for the salvation of others, and making efforts for this end, but merely cares about ordinances, he is not religious, but merely superstitious. Look at the Roman Catholics for example--and I do not wish it to be supposed that I mean to say no Roman Catholic is pious, for some of them may be, and doubtless are--who make ordinances the chief feature of their religion; and the same may be said of some other denominations to a considerable extent. They make so much of their mass, and of the ordinances, that instead of laying themselves out to do good, instead of leading holy lives, instead of being religious in everything, why their religion is confined to certain ceremonies. Now mark, this is an infinite mistake--religion is not a form, it is not an ordinance, it is a life. True religion must, from its very nature, show itself in a man's business as well as in his prayers. Nay! inasmuch as his business occupies six-sevenths of his time, the principal place in which to see his religion, if he has any--is in the daily walk of life. It will be seen there the most, if he has any. Now if you see persons religious on the Sabbath day; religious in ordinances; religious in particular forms, but not in their everyday life, you may be quite sure that their religion is mere superstition-nothing else. Some men are very particular in attending to what they call their religious duties. They make a distinction between religious duties and their duties to their fellow men. Now this is a fundamental mistake, for mark me! a man who does not live a religious life cannot be religious on the Sabbath; if he is not religious in his business, he cannot be religious at the communion, and he has no more business to be there than the devil has--not a bit more! If he is not religious in his daily business, he has no more right to be at the table of the Lord than those harlots have who spend their lives in abominations too horrible to be mentioned.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 30 - REFUGES OF LIES. paragraph 11

But another refuge of lies is the religion of sectarianism. I have seem much of this, and might tell of much. We see this largely in the Romish church, for she tells everybody not within her communion that they will go to hell; but it is not confined to that church; it is the doctrine of every church, who says that in their church only is salvation to be obtained. One particular sect sets itself up and claims to have apostolic succession, and everybody who is not of it is out of the church--that church is right, and every other church is wrong. When these sectarians, to whatever party they belong, speak of "the church," they do not mean the congregation of believers in every community, but their particular system or form which they call "the church." In this country, I believe that most of those who claim to themselves the right of being called the church, do admit that Dissenters from them may be Christians; and Dissenters will not deny that there may be good people in the church which is established by law in this land. But mark! there is a vast deal of zeal that is mere sectarianism. Really, I have been astonished sometimes in this country to hear ministers "thank God for Methodism." I do not know how many times I have heard that! The first meeting that I attended in England was a missionary meeting, especially connected with the Wesleyan body, and I was astonished and appalled at the first that so much was said about the glory of Methodism; thanking God for Methodism, and so on. I had not been in the habit of hearing such things in a missionary meeting, and it struck me as very astonishing that they should have invited people of different communities to be present, and talk thus while they knew that the very man who occupied the chair was not a Methodist! They had got together a multitude of people not belonging to their section of the church, in order to take up a collection for the missionary cause, and yet there was so much glorifying of Methodism! I did not rebuke it at the time, but I felt it, and I have since made up my mind, that if I ever hear it again under such circumstance, or any other, I will rebuke it! I will rebuke either the glorifying of Methodism, or the putting forward of any other species of sectarianism whatever, when Christianity ought to have been the theme. It is not to be tolerated. It is no part of religion. For my life I cannot enter with zeal into any efforts to build up any particular sect. I have my own notions, but I know that others hold opinions different from mine, with as much honesty as I hold mine. I do not mean therefore that I have no particular opinions, but I will not glorify any particular denomination, and spend my life in building up a party. There is a vast deal too much of this party spirit, and what is the effect? Selfishness of heart, and no openness of soul--no going out for the salvation of the world. I do not mean to say that I do not regard any of the distinctions which prevail as of any importance, because I do; but I do not regard them of such importance as to merge everything in their favour. I can respect the gospel and myself too, and therefore I cannot devote my time to the building up of a sect. The salvation of men is the great question! The salvation of men's souls is the first concern! Do not lay too much stress upon sectarian differences. Make your great aim the good of souls and the glory of God!

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 31 - THE SPIRIT CEASING TO STRIVE. paragraph 22

Persons are sometimes convinced by seeing that they have been altogether selfish. Selfishness is sin; and all sin is selfishness in some form. Persons often see that their very religion has hitherto been selfishness; they can see clearly that they are not in sympathy with God and with Christ--that they have not the spirit of Christ within them--that they are not living to and for God--and that they are utterly selfish in their business, and even in the relations they sustain to what they call their religion. They are fully convinced of this. Ah! are you convinced of it? Do not resist the light on such questions! Oh! if you shut down the gate, turn your eyes away, and refuse to be convinced you will wake up in the blackness and darkness forever!

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 35 - THE AWFUL INGRATITUDE OF THE SINNER. paragraph 23

The real reason for this opposition is that he is their moral opposite. All his great love is in direct opposition to their selfishness. His infinite holiness is in direct contradiction to it; it is also a contradiction to say that one so opposite to Christ should not be opposed to him, opposed because he stands out in contrast right over against him! His infinite benevolence is in direct contrast to their selfishness, and while they entertain this selfishness it must be opposed to his benevolence; while they entertain a spirit of injustice they must stand opposed to his justice; while they continue to entertain a spirit of unmerciful-ness they must stand opposed to his justice; while they continue to entertain a spirit of unmercifulness they must stand opposed to his mercy; their falsehood to his truth, his righteousness to their unrighteousness. There are moral opposites, and it is impossible for sinners while in such a state of mind to be otherwise than opposed to him. It is not because he is evil that they are opposed to him; they do not hate him for that reason, but simply because he is good. They being evil, naturally hate one so diametrically opposed to them.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 38 - LITTLE SINS. paragraph 21

Let me say again: it is easy to see that the state of mind which will supremely devote itself to one great end, cannot at the same time give itself up for the promotion of a different end: his mind cannot be devoted to one end and all his outward conduct tend in a directly opposite course; the very fact that he is devoted to an end will regulate his being, and be the mainspring of all his outward actions. If a man's mind is devoted to God, his outward actions will be an illustration of his thoughts: his heart is full of love to God, and he is set upon realizing the end at which God aims; and, therefore, all his outward actions will be a succession of endeavours to realize that end. Selfishness, in all sinners, is the end at which they aim; and their outward life is nothing more than a perpetual succession of efforts to gratify themselves; hence it is easy to see that all their actions will have one great end in view -- the promotion of their own interests. This, I say, everybody knows, that knows anything about mind and its actions.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 38 - LITTLE SINS. paragraph 30

Let me say again: I fear that there are great many professors of religion, who suppose that they are truly religious although they knew that there are some forms of sin which they have not given up -- things which the law and the gospel both condemn. But they expect Christ to justify them. They think they have some religion, and do not expect to be very pious because they cannot be perfect, and so they indulge in some forms of sin, and are under the influence of certain forms of selfishness, and are thinking all the while, that because they keep such and such other commandments in the letter, that they will be saved at last. Thus they do not keep any of the commandments in the spirit of them, as God requires them to be kept, and if a man obeys not the law in the spirit, he does not obey it at all.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 39 - THE SINNER'S SELF-DESTRUCTION. paragraph 29

Men need also to be warned against engaging in any improper business. I mean some business which will ruin you souls, if persisted in. Be careful what you do in this direction. Undertake no business which is injurious to your fellow-men -- nothing which is inconsistent with the well-being of society -- no business, in short, that you cannot pursue honestly, with an enlightened, upright heart, for the glory of God. now this is a very common sense thing. Every one can see that when an individual engages in a business he cannot consecrate to God, by that very engagement he has formally withdrawn his allegiance from Christ, and set up for himself. Be careful, then, for you had better have no business at all, ten thousand times than engage in one in which you cannot keep your conscience void of offence. But you must also be careful not to err by pursuing a proper business, for improper motives; if you take the most proper business in the world, and pursue it in an improper manner, it will be fatal. It may be selling Bibles, even; if you go about it selfishly, and yet say, "I am vending Bibles,' -- what if you are? Take care! Mark me, you may just as easily be selfish in that calling as in anything else. In fact, the more sanctimonious the exterior of a business, the greater your danger of pursuing it from wrong motives, without being aware of it. Take for instance, the preaching of the gospel. You can all see at once, that a man who preaches the gospel because of the nature of the profession, might easily give himself credit for it, while it was in fact only selfishness; because he preached the gospel that he might take it for granted that he was in the service of God, whereas he was serving himself in the gospel and not of the gospel. Be careful, then, that you do not prosecute your business selfishly; for if you do, it will be fatal to your souls.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 42 - ACCEPTABLE PRAYER. paragraph 29

The acceptable offering of this petition implies the absence of all selfishness in the mind that offers it. God is not selfish; selfishness is the will set upon itself, regardless of all else. The person who offers this petition cannot be selfish. The very pe tition implies the present absence of selfishness.

 

 


FROM THE PENNY PULPIT, SERMON 42 - ACCEPTABLE PRAYER. paragraph 35

An individual who offers this petition acceptably to God must have as real a sympathy with all that God has as they have in heaven. In heaven they doubtless sympathize with all that is good, so the individual who offers sincerely this prayer must have intense hatred to all that is wicked, and must deeply sympathize with all that is good. There must be as true a renunciation of self and all selfishness, and as genuine a disposition to please God in every heart that offers this petition, as there is in heaven. I speak not of degree, because I suppose we do not apprehend these things so clearly as they do; but, insofar as we understand what God loves, our sympathy must be as real as it is in heaven.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 5 - Foundation of Moral Obligation paragraph 90 What is intended by the foundation of moral obligation . . The extent of moral obligation . . Remind you of the distinction between the ground and conditions of obligation . . Points of agreement among the principal parties in this discussion . . Wherein they disagree . . That the sovereign will of God is not the foundation of moral obligation . . The theory of Paley . . The utilitarian philosophy

     (1.) That if self-interest be the ground of moral obligation, then self-interest is the end to be chosen for its own sake. To be virtuous I must in every instance intend my own interest as the supreme good. Then, according to this theory, disinterested benevolence is sin. To live to God, and the universe, is not right. It is not devotion to the right end. This theory affirms self-interest to be the end for which we ought to live. Then selfishness is virtue, and benevolence is vice. These are directly opposite theories. It cannot be a trifle to embrace the wrong view of this subject. If Dr. Paley was right, all are fundamentally wrong who hold the benevolence theory.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 8 - Foundation of Moral Obligation. False Theories. III paragraph 24 The philosophy which teaches that moral order is the foundation of moral obligation . . The theory that maintains that the nature and relations of moral beings is the true foundation of moral obligation . . The theory that teaches that moral obligation is founded in the idea of duty . . That philosophy which teaches the complexity of the foundation of moral obligation

     Such-like phraseology, which is very common and almost universal among rightarian philosophers, demonstrates that they regard virtue or obedience to God as consisting in the adoption of a maxim of life. With them, duty is the great idea to be realized. All these modes of expression mean the same thing, and amount to just Kant's morality, which he admits does not necessarily imply religion, namely; "act upon a maxim at all times fit for law universal," and to Cousin's, which is the same thing, namely, "will the right for the sake of the right." Now I cannot but regard this philosophy on the one hand, and utilitarianism on the other, as equally wide from the truth, and as lying at the foundation of much of the spurious religion with which the church and the world are cursed. Utilitarianism begets one type of selfishness, which it calls religion, and this philosophy begets another, in some respects more specious, but not a whit the less selfish, God-dishonouring and soul-destroying. The nearest that this philosophy can be said to approach either to true morality or religion, is, that if the one who forms the resolution understood himself he would resolve to become truly moral instead of really becoming so. But this is in fact an absurdity and an impossibility, and the resolution-maker does not understand what he is about, when he supposes himself to be forming or cherishing a resolution to do his duty. Observe: he intends to do his duty. But to do his duty is to form and cherish an ultimate intention. To intend to do his duty is merely to intend to intend. But this is not doing his duty, as will be shown. He intends to serve God, but this is not serving God, as will also be shown. Whatever he intends, he is neither truly moral nor religious, until he really intends the same end that God does; and this is not to do his duty, nor to do right, nor to comply with obligation, nor to keep a conscience void of offence, nor to deny himself, nor any such-like things. God aims at, and intends, the highest well-being of himself and the universe, as an ultimate end, and this is doing his duty. It is not resolving or intending to do his duty, but is doing it. It is not resolving to do right for the sake of the right, but it is doing right. It is not resolving to serve himself and the universe, but is actually rendering that service. It is not resolving to obey the moral law, but is actually obeying it. It is not resolving to love, but actually loving his neighbour as himself. It is not, in other words, resolving to be benevolent, but is being so. It is not resolving to deny self, but is actually denying self.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 9 - Foundation of Obligation. IV paragraph 30 Another form of the theory that affirms the complexity of the foundation of moral obligation; complex however only in a certain sense

     The sanctions of government or of law, in the widest sense of the term, must be the ultimate of obedience and the end of government. The sanctions of moral government must be the ultimate good and evil. That is, they must promise and threaten that which is, in its own nature, an ultimate good or evil. Virtue must consist in the impartial choice of that as an end which is proffered as the reward of virtue. This is, and must be, the ultimate good. Sin consists in choosing that which defeats or sets aside this end, or in selfishness.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 9 - Foundation of Obligation. IV paragraph 41 Another form of the theory that affirms the complexity of the foundation of moral obligation; complex however only in a certain sense

     But this class of philosophers insist that all the archetypes of the ideas of the reason are necessarily regarded by us as good in themselves. For example: I have the idea of beauty. I behold a rose. The perception of this archetype of the idea of beauty gives me instantaneous pleasure. Now it is said, that this archetype is necessarily regarded by me as a good. I have pleasure in the presence and perception of it, and as often as I call it to remembrance. This pleasure, it is said, demonstrates that it is a good to me; and this good is in the very nature of the object, and must be regarded as a good in itself. To this I answer, that the presence of the rose is a good to me, but not an ultimate good. It is only a means or source of pleasure or happiness to me. The rose is not a good in itself. If there were no eyes to see it and no olfactories to smell it, to whom could it be a good? But in what sense can it be a good except in the sense that it gives satisfaction to the beholder? The satisfaction, and not the rose, is and must be the ultimate good. But it is inquired, Do not I desire the rose for its own sake? I answer, Yes; you desire it for its own sake, but you do not, cannot choose it for its own sake, but to gratify the desire. The desires all terminate on their respective objects. The desire for food terminates on food; thirst terminates on drink, &c. These things are so correlated to these appetites that they are desired for their own sakes. But they are not and cannot be chosen for their own sakes or as an ultimate end. They are, and must be, regarded and chosen as the means of gratifying their respective desires. To choose them simply in obedience to the desire were selfishness. But the gratification is a good and a part of universal good. The reason, therefore, urges and demands that they should be chosen as a means of good to myself. When thus chosen in obedience to the law of the intelligence, and no more stress is laid upon the gratification than in proportion to its relative value, and when no stress is laid upon it simply because it is my own gratification, the choice is holy. The perception of the archetypes of the various ideas of the reason will, in most instances, produce enjoyment. These archetypes, or, which is the same thing, the concrete realization of these ideas, is regarded by the mind as a good, but not as an ultimate good. The ultimate good is the satisfaction derived from the perception of them.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 11 - Foundation of Obligation. Summing up paragraph 59

     (1.) This objection is based upon the absurd assumption, that moral law would remain the same, though the nature of moral agents were so changed that benevolence should naturally and necessarily produce misery, and selfishness produce happiness. But this is absurd. Moral law is, and must be, the law of nature. If the natures of moral agents were changed, there must of necessity be a corresponding change of the law. Virtue and vice are fixed and unchangeable only because moral agency is so.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 11 - Foundation of Obligation. Summing up paragraph 60

     (2.) The objection assumes that moral agents might have been so created as to affirm their obligation to be benevolent, though it were a fact that benevolence is necessarily connected with misery, and selfishness with happiness. But such a reversal of the nature would necessarily either destroy moral agency, and consequently moral law, or it would reverse the nature of virtue and vice. This objection overlooks, and indeed contradicts, the nature, both of moral agency and moral law.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 11 - Foundation of Obligation. Summing up paragraph 61

     (3.) We infer the goodness of God from the present constitution of things, not because God could possibly have created moral agents, and imposed on them the duty of benevolence, although benevolence had been necessarily connected with misery, and selfishness with happiness; for no such thing is, or was, possible. But we infer his benevolence from the fact, that he has created moral agents, and subjected them to moral law, and thus procured an indefinite amount of good, when he might have abstained from such a work. His choice was between creating moral agents and not creating, and not between creating moral agents with a nature such as they now have, or creating them moral agents, and putting them under the same law they now have, but with a nature the reverse of what they now have. This last were absurd, and naturally impossible. Yet this objection is based upon the assumption that it was possible.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 12 - Foundation of Moral Obligation. Practical Bearings of the Different Theories. paragraph 30 The theory that regards the sovereign will of God as the foundation of moral obligation . . The theory of the selfish school . . The natural and necessary results of utilitarianism

     (2.) If this theory be true, sinful and holy beings are precisely alike, so far as ultimate intention is concerned, in which we have seen all moral character consists. They have precisely the same end in view, and the difference lies exclusively in the means they make use of to promote their own happiness. That sinners are seeking their own happiness, is a truth of consciousness to them. If moral agents are under obligation to seek their own happiness as the supreme end of life, it follows, that holy beings do so. So that holy and sinful beings are precisely alike, so far as the end for which they live is concerned; the only difference being, as has been observed, in the different means they make use of to promote this end. But observe, no reason can be assigned, in accordance with this philosophy, why they use different means, only that they differ in judgment in respect to them; for, let it be remembered, that this philosophy denies that we are bound to have a positive and disinterested regard to our neighbour's interest; and, of course, no benevolent considerations prevent the holy from using the same means as do the wicked. Where, therefore, is the difference in their character, although they do use this diversity of means? I say again, there is none. If this difference be not ascribed to disinterested benevolence in one, and to selfishness in the other, there really is and can be no difference in character between them. According to this theory nothing is right in itself, but the intention to promote my own happiness; and anything is right or wrong as it is intended to promote this result or otherwise. For let it be borne in mind that, if moral obligation respects strictly the ultimate intention only, it follows that ultimate intention alone is right or wrong in itself, and all other things are right or wrong as they proceed from a right or wrong ultimate intention. This must be true. Further, if my own happiness be the foundation of my moral obligation, it follows that this is the ultimate end at which I ought to aim, and that nothing is right or wrong in itself, in me, but this intention or its opposite; and furthermore, that everything else must be right or wrong in me as it proceeds from this, or from an opposite intention. I may do, and upon the supposition of the truth of this theory, I am bound to do, whatever will, in my estimation, promote my own happiness, and that, not because of its intrinsic value as a part of universal good, but because it is my own. To seek it as a part of universal happiness, and not because it is my own, would be to act on the true theory, or the theory of disinterested benevolence; which this theory denies.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 12 - Foundation of Moral Obligation. Practical Bearings of the Different Theories. paragraph 33 The theory that regards the sovereign will of God as the foundation of moral obligation . . The theory of the selfish school . . The natural and necessary results of utilitarianism

     (5.) The teachers of this theory must fatally mislead all who consistently follow out their instructions. In preaching they must, if consistent, appeal wholly to hope and fear, instead of addressing the heart through the intelligence. All their instructions must tend to confirm selfishness. All the motives they present, if consistent, tend only to stir up a zeal within them to secure their own happiness. If they pray, it will only be to implore the help of God to accomplish their selfish ends.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 13 - Practical Bearings and Tendency of Rightarianism. paragraph 15 The philosophy which teaches that the divine goodness or moral excellence is the foundation of moral obligation . . The theory which teaches that moral order is the foundation of moral obligation . . The practical bearings of the theory that moral obligation is founded in the nature and relations of moral agents . . The theory which teaches that the idea of duty is the foundation of moral obligation . . The complexity of the foundation of moral obligation . . The practical bearings of what is regarded as the true theory of the foundation of moral obligation, viz. that the highest well-being of God and of the universe is the sole foundation of moral obligation

     This philosophy represents all war, all slavery, and many things as wrong per se, without insisting upon such a definition of those things as necessarily implies selfishness. Any thing whatever is wrong in itself that includes and implies selfishness, and nothing else is or can be. All war waged for selfish purposes is wrong per se. But war waged for benevolent purposes, or war required by the law of benevolence, and engaged in with a benevolent design, is neither wrong in itself, nor wrong in any proper sense. All holding men in bondage from selfish motives is wrong in itself, but holding men in bondage in obedience to the law of benevolence is not wrong but right. And so it is with every thing else. Therefore, where it is insisted that all war and all slavery, or any thing else is wrong in itself, such a definition of things must be insisted on as necessarily implies selfishness. But consistent rightarianism will insist that all war, all slavery, and all of many other things, is wrong in itself, without regard to its being a violation of the law of benevolence. This is consistent with such philosophy, but it is most false and absurd in fact. Indeed, any philosophy that assumes the existence of a law of right distinct from, and possibly opposed to, the law of benevolence, must teach many doctrines at war with both reason and revelation. It sets men in chase of a philosophical abstraction as the supreme end of life, instead of the concrete reality of the highest well-being of God and the universe. It preys upon the human soul, and turns into solid iron all the tender sensibilities of our being. Do but contemplate a human being supremely devoted to an abstraction, as the end of human life. He wills the right for the sake of the right. Or, more strictly, he wills the good of being, not from any regard to being, but because of the relation of intrinsic fitness or rightness existing between choice and its object. For this he lives, and moves, and has his being. What sort of religion is this? I wish not to be understood as holding, or insinuating, that professed rightarians universally, or even generally, pursue their theory to its legitimate boundary, and that they manifest the spirit that it naturally begets. No. I am most happy in acknowledging that with many, and perhaps with most of them, it is so purely a theory, that they are not greatly influenced by it in practice. Many of them I regard as the excellent of the earth, and I am happy to count them among my dearest and most valued friends. But I speak of the philosophy, with its natural results when embraced, not merely as a theory, but when adopted by the heart as the rule of life. It is only in such cases that its natural and legitimate fruits appear. Only let it be borne in mind that right is conformity to moral law, that moral law is the law of nature, or the law founded in the nature and relations of moral agents, the law that requires just that course of willing and action that tends naturally to secure the highest well-being of all moral agents, that requires this course of willing and acting for the sake of the end in which it naturally and governmentally results--and requires that this end shall be aimed at or intended by all moral agents as the supreme good and the only ultimate end of life;--I say, only let these truths be borne in mind, and you will never talk of a right, or a virtue, or a law, obedience to which necessarily results in universal misery; nor will you conceive that such a thing is possible.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 13 - Practical Bearings and Tendency of Rightarianism. paragraph 43 The philosophy which teaches that the divine goodness or moral excellence is the foundation of moral obligation . . The theory which teaches that moral order is the foundation of moral obligation . . The practical bearings of the theory that moral obligation is founded in the nature and relations of moral agents . . The theory which teaches that the idea of duty is the foundation of moral obligation . . The complexity of the foundation of moral obligation . . The practical bearings of what is regarded as the true theory of the foundation of moral obligation, viz. that the highest well-being of God and of the universe is the sole foundation of moral obligation

     (8.) Right and wrong respect ultimate intention only, and are always the same. Right can be predicated only of good will, and wrong only of selfishness. These are fixed and permanent. If a moral agent can know what end he aims at or lives for, he can know, and cannot but know, at all times, whether he is right or wrong. All that upon this theory a moral agent needs to be certain of is, whether he lives for the right end, and this, if at all honest, or if dishonest, he really cannot but know. If he would ask, what is right or what is duty at any time, he need not wait for a reply. It is right for him to intend the highest good of being as an end. If he honestly does this, he cannot mistake his duty, for in doing this he really performs the whole of duty. With this honest intention, it is impossible that he should not use the means to promote this end, according to the best light he has; and this is right. A single eye to the highest good of God and the universe, is the whole of morality, strictly considered; and, upon this theory, moral law, moral government, moral obligation, virtue, vice, and the whole subject of morals and religion are the perfection of simplicity. If this theory be true, no honest mind ever mistook the path of duty. To intend the highest good of being is right and is duty. No mind is honest that is not steadily pursuing this end. But in the honest pursuit of this end there can be no sin, no mistaking the path of duty. That is and must be the path of duty that really appears to a benevolent mind to be so. That is, it must be his duty to act in conformity with his honest convictions. This is duty, this is right. So, upon this theory, no one who is truly honest in pursuing the highest good of being, ever did or can mistake his duty in any such sense as to commit sin. I have spoken with great plainness, and perhaps with some severity, of the several systems of error, as I cannot but regard them upon the most fundamental and important of subjects; not certainly from any want of love to those who hold them, but from a concern, long cherished and growing upon me, for the honour of truth and for the good of being. Should any of you ever take the trouble to look into this subject, in its length and breadth, and read the various systems, and take the trouble to trace out their practical results, as actually developed in the opinions and practices of men, you certainly would not be at a loss to account for the theological and philosophical fogs that so bewilder the world. How can it be otherwise, while such confusion of opinion prevails upon the fundamental question of morals and religion?

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 13 - Practical Bearings and Tendency of Rightarianism. paragraph 44 The philosophy which teaches that the divine goodness or moral excellence is the foundation of moral obligation . . The theory which teaches that moral order is the foundation of moral obligation . . The practical bearings of the theory that moral obligation is founded in the nature and relations of moral agents . . The theory which teaches that the idea of duty is the foundation of moral obligation . . The complexity of the foundation of moral obligation . . The practical bearings of what is regarded as the true theory of the foundation of moral obligation, viz. that the highest well-being of God and of the universe is the sole foundation of moral obligation

     How is it, that there is so much profession and so little real practical benevolence in the world? Multitudes of professed Christians seem to have no conception that benevolence constitutes true religion; that nothing else does; and that selfishness is sin, and totally incompatible with religion. They live on in their self-indulgences, and dream of heaven. This could not be, if the true idea of religion, as consisting in sympathy with the benevolence of God, was fully developed in their minds.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 14 - Moral Government paragraph 40 What constitutes obedience to moral law . . Obedience cannot be partial in the sense that the subject ever does or can partly obey and partly disobey at the same time . . Can the will at the same time make opposite choices? . . The choice of an ultimate end is, and must be, the supreme preference of the mind . . An intelligent choice must respect ends or means . . No choice whatever can be made inconsistent with the present choice of an ultimate end . . Inquiry respecting the strength or intensity of the choice . . The law does not require the constant and most intense action of the will . . An intention cannot be right and honest in kind, and deficient in the degree of intensity . . Examination of the philosophy of the question, whether sin and holiness consist in supreme, ultimate, and opposite choices or intentions . . Objections to the foregoing philosophy considered . . This philosophy examined in the light of the scriptures

     As holiness consists in ultimate intention, so does sin. And as holiness consists in choosing the highest well-being of God and the good of the universe, for its own sake, or as the supreme ultimate end of pursuit; so sin consists in willing, with a supreme choice or intention, self-gratification and self-interest. Preferring a less to a greater good, because it is our own, is selfishness. All selfishness consists in a supreme ultimate intention. By an ultimate intention, as I have said, is intended that which is chosen for its own sake as an end, and not as a means to some other end. Whenever a moral being prefers or chooses his own gratification, or his own interest, in preference to a higher good, because it is his own, he chooses it as an end, for its own sake, and as an ultimate end; not designing it as a means of promoting any other and higher end, nor because it is a part of universal good. Every sin, then, consists in an act of will. It consists in preferring self-gratification, or self-interest, to the authority of God, the glory of God, and the good of the universe. It is, therefore, and must be, a supreme ultimate choice, or intention.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 14 - Moral Government paragraph 46 What constitutes obedience to moral law . . Obedience cannot be partial in the sense that the subject ever does or can partly obey and partly disobey at the same time . . Can the will at the same time make opposite choices? . . The choice of an ultimate end is, and must be, the supreme preference of the mind . . An intelligent choice must respect ends or means . . No choice whatever can be made inconsistent with the present choice of an ultimate end . . Inquiry respecting the strength or intensity of the choice . . The law does not require the constant and most intense action of the will . . An intention cannot be right and honest in kind, and deficient in the degree of intensity . . Examination of the philosophy of the question, whether sin and holiness consist in supreme, ultimate, and opposite choices or intentions . . Objections to the foregoing philosophy considered . . This philosophy examined in the light of the scriptures

     1. It may be supposed, that selfishness and benevolence can co-exist in the same mind.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 14 - Moral Government paragraph 53 What constitutes obedience to moral law . . Obedience cannot be partial in the sense that the subject ever does or can partly obey and partly disobey at the same time . . Can the will at the same time make opposite choices? . . The choice of an ultimate end is, and must be, the supreme preference of the mind . . An intelligent choice must respect ends or means . . No choice whatever can be made inconsistent with the present choice of an ultimate end . . Inquiry respecting the strength or intensity of the choice . . The law does not require the constant and most intense action of the will . . An intention cannot be right and honest in kind, and deficient in the degree of intensity . . Examination of the philosophy of the question, whether sin and holiness consist in supreme, ultimate, and opposite choices or intentions . . Objections to the foregoing philosophy considered . . This philosophy examined in the light of the scriptures

     1. It may be supposed, that selfishness and benevolence can co-exist in the same mind.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 14 - Moral Government paragraph 54 What constitutes obedience to moral law . . Obedience cannot be partial in the sense that the subject ever does or can partly obey and partly disobey at the same time . . Can the will at the same time make opposite choices? . . The choice of an ultimate end is, and must be, the supreme preference of the mind . . An intelligent choice must respect ends or means . . No choice whatever can be made inconsistent with the present choice of an ultimate end . . Inquiry respecting the strength or intensity of the choice . . The law does not require the constant and most intense action of the will . . An intention cannot be right and honest in kind, and deficient in the degree of intensity . . Examination of the philosophy of the question, whether sin and holiness consist in supreme, ultimate, and opposite choices or intentions . . Objections to the foregoing philosophy considered . . This philosophy examined in the light of the scriptures

     It has been shown that selfishness and benevolence are supreme, ultimate, and opposite choices, or intentions. They cannot, therefore, by any possibility, co-exist in the same mind.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 14 - Moral Government paragraph 61 What constitutes obedience to moral law . . Obedience cannot be partial in the sense that the subject ever does or can partly obey and partly disobey at the same time . . Can the will at the same time make opposite choices? . . The choice of an ultimate end is, and must be, the supreme preference of the mind . . An intelligent choice must respect ends or means . . No choice whatever can be made inconsistent with the present choice of an ultimate end . . Inquiry respecting the strength or intensity of the choice . . The law does not require the constant and most intense action of the will . . An intention cannot be right and honest in kind, and deficient in the degree of intensity . . Examination of the philosophy of the question, whether sin and holiness consist in supreme, ultimate, and opposite choices or intentions . . Objections to the foregoing philosophy considered . . This philosophy examined in the light of the scriptures

     (5.) If by complexity of intention is meant, that it may be partly disinterestedly benevolent, and partly selfish, which it must be to be partly holy and partly sinful, I reply, that this supposition is absurd. It has been shown that selfishness and benevolence consist in supreme, ultimate, and opposite choices or intentions. To suppose, then, that an intention can be both holy and sinful, is to suppose that it may include two supreme, opposite, and ultimate choices or intentions, at the same time; in other words, that I may supremely and disinterestedly intend to regard and promote every interest in the universe, according to its perceived relative value, for its own sake; and at the same time, may supremely regard my own self-interest and self-gratification, and in some things supremely intend to promote my selfish interests, in opposition to the interests of the universe and the commands of God. But this is naturally impossible. An ultimate intention, then, may be complex in the sense, that it may include the design to promote every perceived interest, according to its relative value; but it cannot, by any possibility, be complex in the sense that it includes selfishness and benevolence, or holiness and sin.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 14 - Moral Government paragraph 96 What constitutes obedience to moral law . . Obedience cannot be partial in the sense that the subject ever does or can partly obey and partly disobey at the same time . . Can the will at the same time make opposite choices? . . The choice of an ultimate end is, and must be, the supreme preference of the mind . . An intelligent choice must respect ends or means . . No choice whatever can be made inconsistent with the present choice of an ultimate end . . Inquiry respecting the strength or intensity of the choice . . The law does not require the constant and most intense action of the will . . An intention cannot be right and honest in kind, and deficient in the degree of intensity . . Examination of the philosophy of the question, whether sin and holiness consist in supreme, ultimate, and opposite choices or intentions . . Objections to the foregoing philosophy considered . . This philosophy examined in the light of the scriptures

     (b.) To devote our entire being, now and for ever, to this end. This is right intention. Now the question is, can this intention co-exist with a volition inconsistent with it? Volition implies the choice of something, for some reason. If it be the choice of whatever can promote this supremely benevolent end, and for that reason, the volition is consistent with the intention; but if it be the choice of something perceived to be inconsistent with this end, and for a selfish reason, then the volition is inconsistent with the supposed intention. But the question is, do the volition and intention co-exist? According to the supposition, the will chooses, or wills, something, for a selfish reason, or something perceived to be inconsistent with supreme, disinterested benevolence. Now it is plainly impossible, that this choice can take place while the opposite intention exists. For this selfish volition is, according to the supposition, sinful or selfish; that is, something is chosen for its own sake, which is inconsistent with disinterested benevolence. But here the intention is ultimate. It terminates upon the object chosen for its own sake. To suppose, then, that benevolence still remains in exercise, and that a volition co-exists with it that is sinful, involves the absurdity of supposing, that selfishness and benevolence can co-exist in the same mind, or that the will can choose, or will, with a supreme preference or choice, two opposites at the same time. This is plainly impossible. Suppose I intend to go to the city of New York as soon as I possibly can. Now, if, on my way, I will to loiter needlessly a moment, I necessarily relinquish one indispensable element of my intention. In willing to loiter, or turn aside to some other object for a day, or an hour, I must, of necessity, relinquish the intention of going as soon as I possibly can. I may not design finally to relinquish my journey, but I must of necessity relinquish the intention of going as soon as I can. Now, virtue consists in intending to do all the good I possibly can, or in willing the glory of God and the good of the universe, and intending to promote them to the extent of my ability. Nothing short of this is virtue. If at any time, I will something perceived to be inconsistent with this intention, I must, for the time being, relinquish the intention, as it must indispensably exist in my mind, in order to be virtue. I may not come to the resolution, that I will never serve God any more, but I must of necessity relinquish, for the time being, the intention of doing my utmost to glorify God, if at any time I put forth a selfish volition. For a selfish volition implies a selfish intention. I cannot put forth a volition intended to secure an end until I have chosen the end. Therefore, a holy intention cannot co-exist with a selfish volition.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 14 - Moral Government paragraph 132 What constitutes obedience to moral law . . Obedience cannot be partial in the sense that the subject ever does or can partly obey and partly disobey at the same time . . Can the will at the same time make opposite choices? . . The choice of an ultimate end is, and must be, the supreme preference of the mind . . An intelligent choice must respect ends or means . . No choice whatever can be made inconsistent with the present choice of an ultimate end . . Inquiry respecting the strength or intensity of the choice . . The law does not require the constant and most intense action of the will . . An intention cannot be right and honest in kind, and deficient in the degree of intensity . . Examination of the philosophy of the question, whether sin and holiness consist in supreme, ultimate, and opposite choices or intentions . . Objections to the foregoing philosophy considered . . This philosophy examined in the light of the scriptures

     3. Christ has expressly taught, that nothing is regeneration, or virtue, but entire obedience, or the renunciation of all selfishness. "Except a man forsake all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 15 - Moral Government--Continued (Part II) paragraph 41 In what sense we have seen that obedience to moral law cannot be partial . . In what sense obedience to moral law can be partial . . The government of God accepts nothing as virtue but obedience to the law of God . . There can be no rule of duty but moral law . . Nothing can be virtue or true religion but obedience to the moral law . . Nothing can be virtue that is not just what the moral law demands. That is, nothing short of what it requires can be in any sense virtue . . Uses of the term justification . . Fundamentally important inquiries respecting this subject . . Remarks

     Repentance consists in the turning of the soul from a state of selfishness to benevolence, from disobedience to God's law, to obedience to it.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 15 - Moral Government--Continued (Part II) paragraph 98 In what sense we have seen that obedience to moral law cannot be partial . . In what sense obedience to moral law can be partial . . The government of God accepts nothing as virtue but obedience to the law of God . . There can be no rule of duty but moral law . . Nothing can be virtue or true religion but obedience to the moral law . . Nothing can be virtue that is not just what the moral law demands. That is, nothing short of what it requires can be in any sense virtue . . Uses of the term justification . . Fundamentally important inquiries respecting this subject . . Remarks

     The primary signification of the word rendered repentance is, to reflect, to think again, but more particularly to change the mind in conformity with a second thought, or in accordance with a more rational and intelligent view of the subject. To repent is to change the choice, purpose, intention. It is to choose a new end,--to begin a new life,--to turn from self-seeking to seeking the highest good of being,--to turn from selfishness to disinterested benevolence,--from a state of disobedience to a state of obedience.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 15 - Moral Government--Continued (Part II) paragraph 103 In what sense we have seen that obedience to moral law cannot be partial . . In what sense obedience to moral law can be partial . . The government of God accepts nothing as virtue but obedience to the law of God . . There can be no rule of duty but moral law . . Nothing can be virtue or true religion but obedience to the moral law . . Nothing can be virtue that is not just what the moral law demands. That is, nothing short of what it requires can be in any sense virtue . . Uses of the term justification . . Fundamentally important inquiries respecting this subject . . Remarks

     (a.) An understanding of the nature of sin, as consisting in the spirit of self-seeking, or in selfishness. This is implied, as a condition upon which repentance can be exercised, but it does not constitute repentance. Repentance is the voluntary turning which follows the intellectual illumination or understanding of the nature of sin.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 15 - Moral Government--Continued (Part II) paragraph 109 In what sense we have seen that obedience to moral law cannot be partial . . In what sense obedience to moral law can be partial . . The government of God accepts nothing as virtue but obedience to the law of God . . There can be no rule of duty but moral law . . Nothing can be virtue or true religion but obedience to the moral law . . Nothing can be virtue that is not just what the moral law demands. That is, nothing short of what it requires can be in any sense virtue . . Uses of the term justification . . Fundamentally important inquiries respecting this subject . . Remarks

     Certainly, if repentance means and implies anything, it does imply a thorough reformation of heart and life. A reformation of heart consists in turning from selfishness to benevolence. We have seen in a former lecture, that selfishness and benevolence cannot co-exist, at the same time, in the same mind. They are the supreme choice of opposite ends. These ends cannot both be chosen at the same time. To talk of partial repentance as a possible thing is to talk nonsense. It is to overlook the very nature of repentance. What! a man both turn away from, and hold on to sin at the same time? Serve God and mammon at one and the same time! It is impossible. This impossibility is affirmed both by reason and by Christ.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 15 - Moral Government--Continued (Part II) paragraph 119 In what sense we have seen that obedience to moral law cannot be partial . . In what sense obedience to moral law can be partial . . The government of God accepts nothing as virtue but obedience to the law of God . . There can be no rule of duty but moral law . . Nothing can be virtue or true religion but obedience to the moral law . . Nothing can be virtue that is not just what the moral law demands. That is, nothing short of what it requires can be in any sense virtue . . Uses of the term justification . . Fundamentally important inquiries respecting this subject . . Remarks

     Yes, it is impossible for one to repent of present sin. To affirm that present sin is repented of, is to affirm a contradiction. It is overlooking both the nature of sin, and the nature of repentance. Sin is selfish willing; repentance is turning from selfish to benevolent willing. These two states of will, as has just been said, cannot possibly co-exist. Whoever, then, is at present falling short of full obedience to the law of God, is voluntarily sinning against God, and is impenitent. It is nonsense to say, that he is partly penitent and partly impenitent; that he is penitent so far as he obeys, and impenitent so far as he disobeys. This really seems to be the loose idea of many, that a man can be partly penitent, and partly impenitent at the same time. This idea, doubtless, is founded on the mistake, that repentance consists in sorrow for sin, or is a phenomenon of the sensibility. But we have seen that repentance consists in a change of ultimate intention,--a change in the choice of an end,--a turning from selfishness to supreme disinterested benevolence. It is, therefore, plainly impossible for one to be partly penitent, and partly impenitent at the same time; inasmuch as penitence and impenitence consist in supreme opposite choices.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 16 - Moral Government--Continued (Part III) paragraph 45 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

     If a man love God supremely, and engage in any business for the promotion of his glory, if his eye be single, his affections and conduct, so far as they have any moral character, are entirely holy when necessarily engaged in the right transaction of his business, although, for the time being, neither his thoughts nor affections are upon God; just as a man, who is intensely devoted to his family, may be acting consistently with his supreme affection, and rendering them the most important and perfect service, while he does not think of them at all. It is said, in my lecture on the text, "Make to yourself a new heart, and a new spirit:"--"The moral heart is the mind's supreme preference. The natural, or fleshy, heart propels the blood through all the physical system. Now there is a striking analogy between this and the moral heart. And the analogy consists in this, that as the natural heart, by its pulsations, diffuses life through the physical system, so the moral heart, or the supreme governing preference, or ultimate intention of the mind, is that which gives life and character to man's moral actions. For example, suppose that I am engaged in teaching mathematics; in this, my ultimate intention is to glorify God in this particular calling. Now, in demonstrating some of its intricate propositions, I am obliged, for hours together, to give the entire attention of my mind to that object. While my mind is thus intensely employed in one particular business, it is impossible that I should have any thoughts directly about God, or should exercise any direct affections, or emotions, or volitions, towards him. Yet if, in this particular calling, all selfishness is excluded, and my supreme design is to glorify God, my mind is in a state of entire obedience, even though, for the time being, I do not think of God."

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 16 - Moral Government--Continued (Part III) paragraph 46 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

     It should be understood, that while the supreme preference or intention of the mind has such efficiency, as to exclude all selfishness, and to call forth just that strength of volition, thought, affection, and emotion, that is requisite to the right discharge of any duty, to which the mind may be called, the heart is in a right state. And this must always be the case while the intention is really honest, as was shown on a former occasion. By a suitable degree of thought and feeling, to the right discharge of duty, I mean just that intensity of thought, and energy of action, that the nature and importance of the particular duty, to which, for the time being, I am called, demand, in my honest estimation.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 16 - Moral Government--Continued (Part III) paragraph 84 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

     29. Nor does it imply that the rightness or moral character of benevolence is, at all times, the object of the mind's attention. We may intend the glory of God and the good of our neighbour, without at all times thinking of the moral character of this intention. But the intention is not the less virtuous on this account. The mind unconsciously, but necessarily, assumes the rightness of benevolence, or of willing the good of being, just as it assumes other first truths, without being distinctly conscious of the assumption. First truths are those truths that are universally and necessarily known to every moral agent, and that are, therefore, always and necessarily assumed by him, whatever his theory may be. Among them, are the law of causality--the freedom of moral agents--the intrinsic value of happiness or blessedness--moral obligation to will it for or because of its intrinsic value--the infinite value of God's well-being, and moral obligation to will it on that account--that to will the good of being is duty, and to comply with moral obligation is right--that selfishness is wrong. These and many such like truths are among the class of first truths of reason. They are always and necessarily taken along with every moral agent, at every moment of his moral agency. They live in his mind as intuitions or assumptions of his reason. He always and necessarily affirms their truth, whether he thinks of them, that is, whether he is conscious of the assumption, or not. It is not, therefore, at all essential to obedience to the law of God, that we should at all times have before our minds the virtuousness or moral character of benevolence.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 17 - Moral Government--Continued (Part IV) paragraph 18 What is implied in obedience to the moral law . . Call attention to certain facts in mental philosophy, as they are revealed in consciousness . . Point out the attributes of that love which constitutes obedience to the law of God . . Voluntariness . . Liberty . . Intelligence . . Virtuousness . . Disinterestedness . . Impartiality . . Universality

     Before I proceed to point out the attributes of benevolence, it is important to remark, that all the moral attributes of God and of all holy beings, are only attributes of benevolence. Benevolence is a term that comprehensively expresses them all. God is love. This term expresses comprehensively God's whole moral character. This love, as we have repeatedly seen, is benevolence. Benevolence is good-willing, or the choice of the highest good of God and the universe, as an end. But from this comprehensive statement, accurate though it be, we are apt to receive very inadequate conceptions of what really belongs to, as implied in, benevolence. To say that love is the fulfilling of the whole law; that benevolence is the whole of true religion; that the whole duty of man to God and his neighbour, is expressed in one word, love--these statements, though true, are so comprehensive as to need with all minds much amplification and explanation. Many things are implied in love or benevolence. By this is intended, that benevolence needs to be viewed under various aspects and in various relations, and its nature considered in the various relations in which it is called to act. Benevolence is an ultimate intention, or the choice of an ultimate end. But if we suppose that this is all that is implied in benevolence, we shall egregiously err. Unless we inquire into the nature of the end which benevolence chooses, and the means by which it seeks to accomplish that end, we shall understand but little of the import of the word benevolence. Benevolence has many attributes or characteristics. These must all harmonize in the selection of its end, and in its efforts to realize it. By this is intended that benevolence is not a blind, but the most intelligent, choice. It is the choice of the best possible end in obedience to the demand of the reason and of God, and implies the choice of the best possible means to secure this end. Both the end and the means are chosen in obedience to the law of God, and of reason. An attribute is a permanent quality of a thing. The attributes of benevolence are those permanent qualities which belong to its very nature. Benevolence is not blind, but intelligent choice. It is the choice of the highest well-being of moral agents. It seeks this end by means suited to the nature of moral agents. Hence wisdom, justice, mercy, truth, holiness, and many other attributes, as we shall see, are essential elements, or attributes, of benevolence. To understand what true benevolence is, we must inquire into its attributes. Not everything that is called love has at all the nature of benevolence. Nor has all that is called benevolence any title to that appellation. There are various kinds of love. Natural affection is called love. The affection that exists between the sexes is also called love. Our preference of certain kinds of diet is called love. Hence we say we love fruit, vegetables, meat, milk, &c. Benevolence is also called love, and is the kind of love, beyond all question, required by the law of God. But there is more than one state of mind that is called benevolence. There is a constitutional or phrenological benevolence, which is often mistaken for, and confounded with, the benevolence which constitutes virtue. This so called benevolence is in truth only an imposing form of selfishness; nevertheless it is called benevolence. Many of its manifestations are like those of true benevolence. Care, therefore, should be taken, in giving religious instruction, to distinguish accurately between them. Benevolence, let it be remembered, is the obedience of the will to the law of reason and of God. It is willing good as an end, for its own sake, and not to gratify self. Selfishness consists in the obedience of the will to the impulses of the sensibility. It is a spirit of self-gratification. The will seeks to gratify the desires and propensities, for the pleasure of the gratification. Self-gratification is sought as an end, and as the supreme end. It is preferred to the claims of God and the good of being. Phrenological, or constitutional benevolence, is only obedience to the impulse of the sensibility--a yielding to a feeling of compassion. It is only an effort to gratify a desire. It is, therefore, as really selfishness, as is an effort to gratify any constitutional desire whatever.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 17 - Moral Government--Continued (Part IV) paragraph 33 What is implied in obedience to the moral law . . Call attention to certain facts in mental philosophy, as they are revealed in consciousness . . Point out the attributes of that love which constitutes obedience to the law of God . . Voluntariness . . Liberty . . Intelligence . . Virtuousness . . Disinterestedness . . Impartiality . . Universality

     As disinterestedness is an attribute of this love it does not seek its own, but the good of others. "Charity (love) seeketh not her own." It grasps in its comprehensive embrace the good of being in general, and of course, of necessity, secures a corresponding outward life and inward feeling. The intellect will be employed in devising ways and means for the promotion of its end. The sensibility will be tremblingly alive to the good of all and of each, will rejoice in the good of others as in its own, and will grieve at the misery of others as in its own. It "will rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." There will not, cannot be envy at the prosperity of others, but unfeigned joy, joy as real and often as exquisite as in its own prosperity. Benevolence enjoys everybody's good things, while selfishness is too envious at the good things of others even to enjoy its own. There is a Divine economy in benevolence. Each benevolent soul not only enjoys his own good things, but also enjoys the good things of all others so far as he knows their happiness. He drinks at the river of God's pleasure. He not only rejoices in doing good to others, but also in beholding their enjoyment of good things. He joys in God's joy and in the joy of angels and of saints. He also rejoices in the good things of all sentient existences. He is happy in beholding the pleasure of the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea. He sympathizes with all joy and all suffering known to him; nor is his sympathy with the suffering of others a feeling of unmingled pain. It is a real luxury to sympathize in the woes of others. He would not be without this sympathy. It so accords with his sense of propriety and fitness, that, mingled with the painful emotion, there is a sweet feeling of self-approbation; so that a benevolent sympathy with the woes of others is by no means inconsistent with happiness, and with perfect happiness. God has this sympathy. He often expresses and otherwise manifests it. There is, indeed, a mysterious and an exquisite luxury in sharing the woes of others. God and angels, and all holy beings know what it is. Where this result of love is not manifested, there love itself is not. Envy at the prosperity, influence, or good of others, the absence of sensible joy in view of the good enjoyed by others, and of sympathy with the sufferings of others, prove conclusively that this love does not exist. There is an expansiveness, an ampleness of embrace, a universality, and a Divine disinterestedness in this love, that necessarily manifests itself in the liberal devising of liberal things for Zion, and in the copious outpourings of the floods of sympathetic feeling, both in joys and sorrows, when suitable occasions present themselves before the mind.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 19 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part II) paragraph 23 Opposition to Sin . . Compassion

     Compassion of sensibility is simply a felling of pity in view of misery. As has been said, it is not a virtue. It is only a desire, but not willing; consequently does not benefit its object. It is the state of mind of which James speaks:--James ii. 15, 16: "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit?" This kind of compassion may evidently co-exist with selfishness. But compassion of heart or will cannot; for it consists in willing the happiness of the miserable for its own sake, and of course impartially. It will, and from its very nature must, deny self to promote its end, whenever it wisely can, that is, when it is seen to be demanded by the highest general good. Circumstances may exist that render it unwise to express this compassion by actually extending relief to the miserable. Such circumstances forbid that God should extend relief to the lost in hell. But for their character and governmental relations, God's compassion would no doubt make immediate effort for their relief.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 19 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part II) paragraph 26 Opposition to Sin . . Compassion

     It should be said, before I leave the consideration of this attribute, that the will is often influenced by the feeling of compassion. In this case, the mind is no less selfish in seeking to promote the relief and happiness of its object, than it is in any other form of selfishness. In such cases, self-gratification is the end sought, and the relief of the suffering is only a means. Pity is stirred, and the sensibility is deeply pained and excited by the contemplation of misery. The will is influenced by this feeling, and makes efforts to relieve the painful emotion on the one hand, and to gratify the desire to see the sufferer happy on the other. This is only an imposing form of selfishness. We, no doubt, often witness displays of the kind of self-gratification. The happiness of the miserable is not in this case sought as an end, or for its own sake, but as a means of gratifying our own feelings. This is not obedience of will to the law of the intellect, but obedience to the impulse of the sensibility. It is not a rational and intelligent compassion, but just such compassion as we often see mere animals exercise. They will risk, and even lay down, their lives, to give relief to one of their number, or to a man who is in misery. In them this has no moral character. Having no reason, it is not sin for them to obey their sensibility, nay, this is a law of their being. This they cannot but do. For them, then, to seek their own gratification as an end is not sin. But man has reason; he is bound to obey it. He should will and seek the relief and the happiness of the miserable, for its own sake, or for its intrinsic value. When he seeks if for no higher reason than to gratify his feelings, he denies his humanity. He seeks it, not out of regard to the sufferer, but in self-defence, or to relieve his own pain, and to gratify his own desires. This in him is sin.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 19 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part II) paragraph 27 Opposition to Sin . . Compassion

     Many, therefore, who take to themselves much credit for benevolence, are, after all, only in the exercise of this imposing form of selfishness. They take credit for holiness, when their holiness is only sin. What is especially worthy of notice here, is, that this class of persons appear to themselves and others, to be all the more virtuous, by how much more manifestly and exclusively they are led on by the impulse of feeling. They are conscious of feeling deeply, of being most sincere and earnest in obeying their feelings. Every body who knows them can also see, that they feel deeply, and are influenced by the strength of their feelings, rather than by their intellect. Now, so gross is the darkness of most persons upon this subject, that they award praise to themselves and to others, just in proportion as they are sure, that they are actuated by the depth of their feelings, rather than by their sober judgment.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 19 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part II) paragraph 28 Opposition to Sin . . Compassion

     But I must not leave this subject without observing, that when compassion exists as a phenomenon of the will, it will certainly also exist as a feeling of the sensibility. A man of a compassionate heart will also be a man of compassionate sensibility. He will feel and he will act. Nevertheless, his actions will not be the effect of his feelings, but will be the result of his sober judgment. Three classes of persons suppose themselves, and are generally supposed by others, to be truly compassionate. The one class exhibit much feeling of compassion; but their compassion does not influence their will, hence they do not act for the relief of suffering. These content themselves with mere desires and tears. They say, Be ye warmed and clothed, but give not the needed relief. Another class feel deeply, and give up to their feelings. Of course they are active and energetic in the relief of suffering. But being governed by feeling, instead of being influenced by their intellect, they are not virtuous, but selfish. Their compassion is only an imposing form of selfishness. A third class feel deeply, but are not governed by blind impulses of feeling. They take a rational view of the subject, act wisely and energetically. They obey their reason. Their feelings do not lead them, neither do they seek to gratify their feelings. But these last are truly virtuous, and altogether the most happy of the three. Their feelings are all the more gratified by how much less they aim at the gratification. They obey their intellect, and, therefore, have the double satisfaction of the applause of conscience, while their feelings are also fully gratified by seeing their compassionate desire accomplished.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 20 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part III) paragraph 16 Mercy . . Justice . . Veracity

     I have said that the mere desire has no moral character. But when the will is governed by this desire, and yields itself up to seek its gratification, this state of will is selfishness under one of its most odious and frightful forms. Under the providence of God, however, this form of selfishness, like every other in its turn, is overruled for good, like earthquakes, tornadoes, pestilence, and war, to purify the moral elements of society, and scourge away those moral nuisances with which communities are sometimes infested. Even war itself is often but an instance and an illustration of this.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 20 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part III) paragraph 28 Mercy . . Justice . . Veracity

     Before I pass from the consideration of this topic, I must not omit to insist, that where true benevolence is, there must be exact commercial justice, or business honesty and integrity. This is as certain as that benevolence exists. The rendering of exact equivalents, or the intention to do so, must be a characteristic of a truly benevolent mind. Impulsive benevolence may exist; that is, phrenological or constitutional benevolence, falsely so called, may exist to any extent, and yet justice not exist. The mind may be much and very often carried away by the impulse of feeling, so that a man may at times have the appearance of true benevolence, while the same individual is selfish in business, and overreaching in all his commercial relations. This has been a wonder and an enigma to many, but the case is a plain one. The difficulty is, the man is not just, that is, not truly benevolent. His benevolence is only an imposing species of selfishness. "He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear." His benevolence results from feeling, and is not true benevolence.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 20 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part III) paragraph 30 Mercy . . Justice . . Veracity

     This attribute of benevolence must secure its possessor against every species and degree of injustice; he cannot be unjust to his neighbour's reputation, his person, his property, his soul, his body, nor indeed be unjust in any respect to man or God. It will and must secure confession and restitution, in every case of remembered wrong, so far as this is practicable. It should be distinctly understood, that a benevolent or a truly religious man cannot be unjust. He may indeed appear to be so to others; but he cannot be truly religious or benevolent, and unjust at the same time. If he appears to be so in any instance, he is not and cannot be really so, if he is at the time in a benevolent state of mind. The attributes of selfishness, as we shall see in the proper place, are the direct opposite of those of benevolence. The two states of mind are as contrary as heaven and hell, and can no more co-exist in the same mind, than a thing can be and not be at the same time. I said, that if a man truly, in the exercise of benevolence, appears to be unjust in any thing, he is only so in appearance, and not in fact. Observe; I am speaking of one who is really at the time in a benevolent state of mind. He may mistake, and do that which would be unjust, did he see it differently and intend differently. Justice and injustice belong to the intention. No outward act can in itself be either just or unjust. To say that a man, in the exercise of a truly benevolent intention, can at the same time be unjust, is the same absurdity as to say, that he can intend justly and unjustly at the same time, and in regard to the same thing; which is a contradiction. It must all along be borne in mind, that benevolence is one identical thing, to wit, good-will, willing for its own sake the highest good of being, and every known good according to its relative value. Consequently, it is impossible that justice should not be an attribute of such a choice. Justice consists in regarding and treating, or rather in willing, every thing just agreeably to its nature, or intrinsic and relative value and relations. To say, therefore, that present benevolence admits of any degree of present injustice, is to affirm a palpable contradiction. A just man is a sanctified man, is a perfect man, in the sense that he is at present in an upright state.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 20 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part III) paragraph 35 Mercy . . Justice . . Veracity

     Veracity, as a phenomenon of the will, is also often called, and properly called, a love of the truth. It is a willing in accordance with objective truth. This is virtue, and is an attribute of benevolence. Veracity, as an attribute of the divine benevolence, is the condition of confidence in Him as a moral governor. Both the physical and moral laws of the universe evince, and are instances and illustrations of the truthfulness of God. Falsehood, in the sense of lying, is naturally regarded by a moral agent with disapprobation, disgust, and abhorrence. Veracity is as necessarily regarded by him with approbation, and, if the will be benevolent, with pleasure. We necessarily take pleasure in contemplating objective truth, as it lies in idea on the field of consciousness. We also take pleasure in the perception and contemplation of truthfulness, in the concrete realization of the idea of truth. Veracity is morally beautiful. We are pleased with it just as we are with natural beauty, by law of necessity, when the necessary conditions are fulfilled. This attribute of benevolence secures it against every attempt to promote the ultimate good of being by means of falsehood. True benevolence will no more, can no more, resort to falsehood as a means of promoting good, than it can contradict or deny itself. The intelligence affirms, that the highest ultimate good can be secured only by a strict adherence to truth. The mind cannot be satisfied with anything else. Indeed, to suppose the contrary is to suppose a contradiction. It is the same absurdity as to suppose, that the highest good could be secured only by the violation and setting aside of the nature and relations of things. Since the intellect affirms this unalterable relation of truth to the highest ultimate good, benevolence, or that attribute of benevolence which we denominate veracity or love of the truth, can no more consent to falsehood, than it can consent to relinquish the highest good of being as an end. Therefore, every resort to falsehood, every pious fraud, falsely so called, presents only a specious but real instance of selfishness. A moral agent cannot lie for God; that is, he cannot tell a sinful falsehood, thinking and intending thereby to please God. He knows, by intuition, that God cannot be pleased or truly served by a resort to lying. There is a great difference between concealing or withholding the truth for benevolent purposes, and telling a wilful falsehood. An innocent persecuted and pursued man, has taken shelter under my roof from one who pursued him to shed his blood. His pursuer comes and inquires after him. I am not under obligation to declare to him the fact that he is in my house. I may, and indeed ought to withhold the truth in this instance, for the wretch has no right to know it. The public and highest good demands that he should not know it. He only desires to know it for selfish and bloody purposes. But in this case I should not feel or judge myself at liberty to state a known falsehood. I could not think that this would ultimately conduce to the highest good. The person might go away deceived, or under the impression that his victim was not there. But he could not accuse me of telling him a lie. He might have drawn his own inference from my refusing to give the desired information. But even to secure my own life or the life of my friend, I am not at liberty to tell a lie. If it be said that lying implies telling a falsehood for selfish purposes, and that, therefore, it is not lying to tell a falsehood for benevolent purposes, I reply, that our nature is such that we can no more state a wilful falsehood with a benevolent intention, that we can commit a sin with a benevolent intention. We necessarily regard falsehood as inconsistent with the highest good of being, just as we regard sin as inconsistent with the highest good of being, or just as we regard holiness and truthfulness as the indispensable condition of the highest good of being. The correlation of the will and the intellect forbids the mistake that wilful falsehood is, or can be, the means or condition of the highest good. Universal veracity, then, will always characterize a truly benevolent man. While he is truly benevolent, he is, he must be, faithful, truthful. So far as his knowledge goes, his statements may be depended upon with as much safety as the statements of an angel. Veracity is necessarily an attribute of benevolence in all beings. No liar has, or can have, a particle of true virtue or benevolence in him.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 21 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part IV) paragraph 10 Patience . . Meekness . . Long-suffering . . Humility

     This is patience as an attribute of selfishness, and patience in a bad sense of the term. Patience in the good sense, or in the sense in which I am considering it, is an attribute of benevolence. It is the quality of constancy, a fixedness, a bearing up under trials, afflictions, crosses, persecutions, or discouragements. This must be an attribute of benevolence. Whenever patience ceases, when it holds out no longer, when discouragement prevails, and the will relinquishes its end, benevolence ceases, as a matter of course.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 21 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part IV) paragraph 11 Patience . . Meekness . . Long-suffering . . Humility

     Patience as a phenomenon of the will, tends to patience as a phenomenon of the sensibility. That is, the quality of fixedness and steadfastness in the intention naturally tends to keep down and allay impatience of temper. As, however, the states of the sensibility are not directly under the control of the will, there may be irritable or impatient feelings, when the heart remains steadfast. Facts or falsehoods may be suggested to the mind which may, in despite of the will, produce a ruffling of the sensibility, even when the heart remains patient. The only way in which a temptation, for it is only a temptation while the will abides firm to its purpose, I say, the only way in which a temptation of this kind can be disposed of, is by diverting the attention from that view of the subject that creates the disturbance in the sensibility. I should have said before, that although the will controls the feelings by a law of necessity, yet, as it does not do so directly, but indirectly, it may and does often happen, that feelings corresponding to the state of the will do not exist in the sensibility. Nay, for a time, a state of the sensibility may exist which is the opposite of the state of the will. From this source arise many, and indeed most, of our temptations. We could never be properly tried or tempted at all, if the feelings must always, by a law of necessity, correspond with the state of the will. Sin consists in willing to gratify our feelings or constitutional impulses, in opposition to the law of our reason. But if these desires and impulses could never exist in opposition to the law of reason, and, consequently, in opposition to a present holy choice, then a holy being could not be tempted. He could have no motive or occasion to sin. If our mother Eve could have had no feelings of desire in opposition to the state of her will, she never could have desired the forbidden fruit, and of course would not have sinned. I wish now, then, to state distinctly what I should have said before, that the state or choice of the will does not necessarily so control the feelings, desires, or emotions, that these may never be strongly excited by Satan or by circumstances, in opposition to the will, and thus become powerful temptations to seek their gratification, instead of seeking the highest good of being. Feelings, the gratification of which would be opposed to every attribute of benevolence, may at times co-exist with benevolence, and be a temptation to selfishness; but opposing acts of will cannot co-exist with benevolence. All that can be truly said is, that as the will has an indirect control of the feelings, desires, appetites, passions, &c., it can suppress any class of feelings when they arise, by diverting the attention from their causes, or by taking into consideration such views and facts as will calm or change the state of the sensibility. Irritable feelings, or what is commonly called impatience, may be directly caused by ill health, irritable nerves, and by many things over which the will has no direct control. But this is not impatience in the sense of sin. If these feelings are not suffered to influence the will; if the will abides in patience; if such feelings are not cherished, and are not suffered to shake the integrity of the will; they are not sin. That is, the will does not consent to them, but the contrary. They are only temptations. If they are allowed to control the will, to break forth in words and actions, then there is sin; but the sin does not consist in the feelings, but in the consent of the will, to gratify them. Thus, the apostle says, "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath." That is, if anger arise in the feelings and sensibility, do not sin by suffering it to control your will. Do not cherish the feeling, and let not the sun go down upon it. For this cherishing it is sin. When it is cherished, the will consents and broods over the cause of it; this is sin. But if it be not cherished, it is not sin.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 21 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part IV) paragraph 13 Patience . . Meekness . . Long-suffering . . Humility

     Patience, then, as an attribute of benevolence, consists, not in placid feeling, but in perseverance under trials and states of the sensibility that tend to selfishness. This is only benevolence viewed in a certain aspect. It is benevolence under circumstances of discouragement, of trial, or temptation. "This is the patience of the saints."

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 22 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part V) paragraph 11 Self-denial . . Condescension . . Candour . . Stability . . Kindness . . Severity

     But again. The very idea of disinterested benevolence, and there is no other true benevolence, implies the abandonment of the spirit of self-seeking, or of selfishness. It is impossible to become benevolent, without ceasing to be selfish. In other words, perfect self-denial is implied in beginning to be benevolent. Self-indulgence ceases where benevolence begins. This must be. Benevolence is the consecration of our powers to the highest good of being in general as an end. This is utterly inconsistent with consecration to self-interest or self-gratification. Selfishness makes good to self the end of every choice. Benevolence makes good to being in general the end of every choice. Benevolence, then, implies complete self-denial. That is, it implies that nothing is chosen merely because it belongs to self, but only because of its relative value, and in proportion to it.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 22 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part V) paragraph 12 Self-denial . . Condescension . . Candour . . Stability . . Kindness . . Severity

     I said there was no true benevolence, but disinterested benevolence; no true love, but disinterested love. There is such a thing as interested love or benevolence. That is, the good of others is willed, though not as an end, or for its intrinsic value to them, but as a means of our own happiness, or because of its relative value to us. Thus a man might will the good of his family, or of his neighbourhood, or country, or of anybody, or anything that sustained such relations to self as to involve his own interests. When the ultimate reason of his willing good to others is, that his own may be promoted, this is selfishness. It is making good to self his end. This a sinner may do toward God, toward the church, and toward the interests of religion in general. This is what I call interested benevolence. It is willing good as an end only to self, and to all others only as a means of promoting our own good.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 22 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part V) paragraph 13 Self-denial . . Condescension . . Candour . . Stability . . Kindness . . Severity

     But again: when the will is governed by mere feeling in willing the good of others, this is only the spirit of self-indulgence, and is only interested benevolence. For example: the feeling of compassion is strongly excited by the presence of misery. The feeling is intense, and constitutes, like all the feelings, a strong impulse or motive to the will to consent to its gratification. For the time being, this impulse is stronger than the feeling of avarice, or any other feeling. I yield to it, and then give all the money I have to relieve the sufferer. I even take my clothes from my back, and give them to him. Now in this case, I am just as selfish as if I had sold my clothes to gratify my appetite for strong drink. The gratification of my feelings was my end. This is one of the most specious and most delusive forms of selfishness.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 22 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part V) paragraph 14 Self-denial . . Condescension . . Candour . . Stability . . Kindness . . Severity

     Again: when one makes his own salvation the end of prayer, of almsgiving, and of all his religious duties, this is only selfishness and not true religion, however much he may abound in them. This is only interested benevolence, or benevolence to self.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 22 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part V) paragraph 24 Self-denial . . Condescension . . Candour . . Stability . . Kindness . . Severity

     But it should be remarked, that this attribute of benevolence does and must secure the subjugation of all the propensities. It must, either suddenly or gradually, so far subdue and quiet them, that their imperious clamour must cease. They will, as it were, be slain, either suddenly or gradually, so that the sensibility will become, in a great measure, dead to those objects that so often and so easily excited it. It is a law of the sensibility--of all the desires and passions, that their indulgence developes and strengthens them, and their denial suppresses them. Benevolence consists in a refusal to gratify the sensibility, and in obeying the reason. Therefore it must be true, that this denial of the propensities will greatly suppress them; while the indulgence of the intellect and of the conscience will greatly develope them. Thus selfishness tends to stultify, while benevolence tends greatly to strengthen the intellect.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 22 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part V) paragraph 28 Self-denial . . Condescension . . Candour . . Stability . . Kindness . . Severity

     This is an attribute essentially belonging to benevolence or love in all benevolent beings. With the lowest of moral beings it may have no other developement, than in its relations to sentient existences below the rank of moral agents, for the reason, that there are no moral agents below them to whom they can stoop. God's condescension stoops to all ranks of sentient existences. This is also true with every benevolent mind, as to all inferiors. It seeks the good of being in general, and never thinks any being too low to have his interests attended to and cared for, according to their relative value. Benevolence cannot possibly retain its own essential nature, and yet be above any degree of condescension that can effect the greatest good. Benevolence does not, cannot know any thing of that loftiness of spirit that considers it too degrading to stoop any where, or to any being whose interests need to be, and can be, promoted by such condescension. Benevolence has its end, and it cannot but seek this, and it does not, cannot think anything below it that is demanded to secure that end. O the shame, the infinite folly and madness of pride, and every form of selfishness! How infinitely unlike God it is! Christ could condescend to be born in a manger; to be brought up in humble life; to be poorer than the fox of the desert, or the fowls of heaven; to associate with fishermen; to mingle with and seek the good of all classes; to be despised in life, and die between two thieves on the cross. His benevolence "endured the cross and despised the shame." He was "meek and lowly in heart." The Lord of heaven and earth is as much more lowly in heart than any of his creatures, as he is above them in his infinity. He can stoop to any thing but to commit sin. He can stoop infinitely low.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 22 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part V) paragraph 31 Self-denial . . Condescension . . Candour . . Stability . . Kindness . . Severity

     Candour is that quality of benevolence that holds the intellect open to conviction. It is that state of the will in which all the light is sought upon all questions, that can be obtained. Benevolence is an impartial, a disinterested choice of the highest good of being--not of some of them,--not of self--but of being in general. It inquires not to whom an interest belongs, but what is its intrinsic and relative value, and what is the best means of promoting it. Selfishness, as we shall see, is never candid. It never can be candid. It is contrary to its very nature. Benevolence can not but be candid. It has no reasons for being otherwise. Its eye is single. It seeks to know all truth for the sake of doing it. It has no by-ends, no self-will or self-interest to consult. It is not seeking to please or profit self. It is not seeking the interest of some favourite. No, it is impartial, and must be candid.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 22 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part V) paragraph 32 Self-denial . . Condescension . . Candour . . Stability . . Kindness . . Severity

     It should always be borne in mind, that where there is prejudice, benevolence is not, cannot be. There is not, cannot be such a thing as honest prejudice. There may be an honest mistake for want of light, but this is not prejudice. If there be a mistake, and it be honest, there will be, and must be, a readiness to receive light to correct the mistake. But where the will is committed, and there is not candour to receive evidence, there is, and there must be, selfishness. Few forms of sin are more odious and revolting than prejudice. Candour is an amiable and a lovely attribute of benevolence. It is captivating to behold it. To see a man where his own interest is deeply concerned, exhibit entire candour, is to witness a charming exhibition of the spirit of love. What can be more abhorrent to benevolence than the prejudices which are sometimes manifested, by professedly good men, against other men. They seem unwilling to believe any thing good of those against whom they are prejudiced. The great zeal for what they regard as orthodoxy, is often nothing more nor less than most revolting prejudice. This is often too manifest to require proof. Every one can see, in many cases, that this zeal is not a benevolent, but a selfish one.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 23 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part VI) paragraph 22 Holiness, or Purity . . Modesty . . Sobriety . . Sincerity . . Zeal . . Unity . . Simplicity

     As a phenomenon of the sensibility, it consists in a feeling of delicacy, or shrinking from whatever is impure, unchaste; or from all boasting, vanity, or egotism; a feeling like retiring from public observation, and especially from public applause. It is a feeling of self-diffidence, and is the opposite of self-esteem and self-complacency. It takes on, as a mere feeling, a great variety of types; and when it controls the will, often gives its subject a very lovely and charming exterior. But when this is only a phenomenon of the sensibility, and manifests itself only as this feeling takes control of the will, it does not rise to the dignity of virtue, but is only a specious and delusive form of selfishness. It appears lovely because it is the counterfeit of a sweet and charming form of virtue.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 23 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part VI) paragraph 36 Holiness, or Purity . . Modesty . . Sobriety . . Sincerity . . Zeal . . Unity . . Simplicity

     31. Another attribute of benevolence is Zeal. Zeal is not always a phenomenon of the will; for the term often expresses an effervescing state of the sensibility. It often expresses enthusiasm in the mere form of excited feeling. It is also often an attribute of selfishness. The term expresses intensity in the pursuit of an object, whether used of the will or of the emotions, whether designating a characteristic of selfishness or of benevolence. Benevolence is an intense action of the will, or an intense state of choice. The intensity is not uniform, but varies with varying perceptions of the intellect. When the intellectual apprehensions of truth are clear, when the Holy Spirit shines on the soul, the actings of the will become proportionably intense. This must be, or benevolence must cease altogether. Benevolence is the honest choice of the highest good of being, and, of course, it has no sinister or bye-ends to prevent it from laying just that degree of stress upon the good of being, which its importance seems to demand. Benevolence consists in yielding the will up unreservedly to the demands of the intelligence, when the intelligence is enlightened as to the ground of moral obligation. Nothing else is benevolence. Hence it follows, that the intensity of benevolence will, and must, vary with varying light. When the light of God shines strongly upon the soul, there is often consuming intensity in the action of the will, and the soul can adopt the language of Christ, "The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up."

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 23 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part VI) paragraph 37 Holiness, or Purity . . Modesty . . Sobriety . . Sincerity . . Zeal . . Unity . . Simplicity

     In its lowest estate, benevolence is zealous. That is, the intellectual perceptions never sink so low as to leave benevolence to become like a stagnant pool. It must be a fountain, flowing forth. It is never lazy, never sluggish, never inactive. It is aggressive in its nature. It is essential activity in itself. It consists in choice, the supreme choice of an end--and in consecration to that end. Zeal, therefore, must be one of its essential attributes. A lazy benevolence is a misnomer. In a world where sin is, benevolence must be aggressive. In such a world it cannot be conservative. It must be reformatory. This is its essential nature. In such a world as this, a conservative, anti-reform benevolence is sheer selfishness. To baptize anti-reform and conservatism with the name Christianity, is to steal a robe of light to cover the black shoulders of a fiend. Zeal, the zeal of benevolence, will not, cannot rest while sin is in the world. God is represented as clothed with zeal as with a cloak; and after making some of his exceeding great and precious promises, he concludes by saying, "the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 23 - Attributes of Love--Continued (Part VI) paragraph 46 Holiness, or Purity . . Modesty . . Sobriety . . Sincerity . . Zeal . . Unity . . Simplicity

     By simplicity is intended singleness without mixture. It has, and can have, but one simple end. It does not, and cannot, mingle with selfishness. It is simple or single in its aim. It is, and must be, simple or single in all its efforts to secure its end. It does not, cannot, attempt to serve God and mammon. But, as I have dwelt at length upon this view of the subject in a former lecture, I need not enlarge upon it here.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 25 - Moral Government B paragraph 32 Revert to some points that have been settled . . Show what disobedience to moral law cannot consist in . . What disobedience to moral law must consist in

     (7.) To will misery as a means is possible, but this is not malevolence, but might be either benevolence or selfishness.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 25 - Moral Government B paragraph 47 Revert to some points that have been settled . . Show what disobedience to moral law cannot consist in . . What disobedience to moral law must consist in

     5. Disobedience to God's law must consist in the choice of self-gratification as an end. In other words, it must consist essentially in committing the will, and through the will committing the whole being, to the indulgence of self-love, as the supreme and ultimate end of life. This is selfishness. In other words, it is seeking to gratify the desire of personal good, in a manner prohibited by the law of God.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 25 - Moral Government B paragraph 53 Revert to some points that have been settled . . Show what disobedience to moral law cannot consist in . . What disobedience to moral law must consist in

     4. Selfishness is always spoken of in terms of reprobation in the Bible.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 25 - Moral Government B paragraph 56 Revert to some points that have been settled . . Show what disobedience to moral law cannot consist in . . What disobedience to moral law must consist in

     7. When we come to the consideration of the attributes of selfishness, it will be seen that every form of sin, not only may, but must resolve itself into selfishness, just as we have seen that every form of virtue does and must resolve itself into love or benevolence.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 25 - Moral Government B paragraph 61 Revert to some points that have been settled . . Show what disobedience to moral law cannot consist in . . What disobedience to moral law must consist in

     12. But may not one will the good of a part of being as an end, or for the sake of the intrinsic value of their good? This would not be benevolence, for that, as we have seen, must consist in willing good for its own sake, and implies the willing of every good, and of the highest good of universal being. It would not be selfishness, as it would not be willing good to, or the gratification of, self. It would be sin, for it would be the partial love or choice of good. It would be loving some of my neighbours, but not all of them. It would, therefore, be sin, but not selfishness. If this can be, then there is such a thing possible, whether actual or not, as sin that does not consist in selfishness. But let us examine whether this supposition would not resolve itself into selfishness.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 25 - Moral Government B paragraph 63 Revert to some points that have been settled . . Show what disobedience to moral law cannot consist in . . What disobedience to moral law must consist in

     The partial choice of good implies the choice of it, not merely for its own sake, but upon condition of its relations to self, or to certain particular persons. Its relations conditionate the choice. When its relations to self conditionate the choice, so that it is chosen, not for its intrinsic value, irrespective of its relations, but for its relations to self, this is selfishness. It is the partial choice of good. If I choose the good of others besides myself, and choose good because of its relations to them, it must be either--

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 25 - Moral Government B paragraph 64 Revert to some points that have been settled . . Show what disobedience to moral law cannot consist in . . What disobedience to moral law must consist in

     1. Because I love their persons with the love of fondness, and will their good for that reason, that is, to gratify my affection for them, which is selfishness; or--

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 25 - Moral Government B paragraph 65 Revert to some points that have been settled . . Show what disobedience to moral law cannot consist in . . What disobedience to moral law must consist in

     2. Because of their relations to me, so that good to them is in some way a good to me, which also is selfishness; or--

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 25 - Moral Government B paragraph 67 Revert to some points that have been settled . . Show what disobedience to moral law cannot consist in . . What disobedience to moral law must consist in

     Again: If I will the good of any number of beings, I must do it in obedience to the law either of my intelligence and of God, or of my sensibility. But, if I will in obedience to the law of my intelligence, it must be the choice of the highest good of universal being. But if I will in obedience to the law or impulse of my sensibility, it must be to gratify my feelings or desires. This is selfishness.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 25 - Moral Government B paragraph 68 Revert to some points that have been settled . . Show what disobedience to moral law cannot consist in . . What disobedience to moral law must consist in

     Again: As the will must either follow the law of the reason and of God, or the impulses of the sensibility, it follows that moral agents are shut up to the necessity of being selfish or benevolent, and that there is no third way, because there is no third medium, through which any object of choice, can be presented. The mind can absolutely know nothing as an object of choice, that is not recommended by one of these faculties. Selfishness, then, and benevolence, are the only two alternatives.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 25 - Moral Government B paragraph 69 Revert to some points that have been settled . . Show what disobedience to moral law cannot consist in . . What disobedience to moral law must consist in

     Therefore, disobedience to the moral law must essentially consist in selfishness, and in selfishness alone.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 25 - Moral Government B paragraph 70 Revert to some points that have been settled . . Show what disobedience to moral law cannot consist in . . What disobedience to moral law must consist in

     It has been said, that a moral agent may will the good of others for its own sake, and yet not will the good of all. That is, that he may will the good of some for its intrinsic value, and yet not will universal good. But this is absurd. To make the valuable the object of choice for its own sake, without respect to any conditions or relations, is the same as to will all possible and universal good: that is, the one necessarily implies and includes the other. It has been asserted, for example, that an infidel abolitionist may be conscious of willing and seeking the good of the slave for its own sake, or disinterestedly, and yet not exercise universal benevolence. I reply, he deceives himself, just as a man would, who would say, he chooses fruit for its own sake. The fact is, he is conscious of desiring fruit for its own sake. But he does not and cannot choose it for its own sake. He chooses it in obedience to his desire, that is, to gratify his desire. So it is, and must be, with the infidel abolitionist. It cannot be that he chooses the good of the slave in obedience to the law of his intelligence and of God; for if he did, his benevolence would be universal. It must be, then, that he chooses the good of the slave, because he desires it, or to gratify a constitutional desire. Men naturally desire their own happiness, and the happiness of others: this is constitutional. But when, in obedience to these desires, they will their own or others' happiness, they seek to gratify their sensibility or desires: this is selfishness.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 25 - Moral Government B paragraph 71 Revert to some points that have been settled . . Show what disobedience to moral law cannot consist in . . What disobedience to moral law must consist in

     Let it be remembered, then, that sin is a unit, and always and necessarily consists in selfish ultimate intention, and in nothing else. This intention is sin; and thus we see that every phase of sin resolves itself into selfishness. This will appear more and more, as we proceed to unfold the subject of moral depravity.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 26 - Moral Government B continued (Part II) paragraph 11 What constitutes disobedience . . What is not implied in disobedience to the law of God

     We have seen that all sin or disobedience to moral law is a unit, and that it consists in selfishness, or in the choice of self-gratification as an end; in other words, that it consists in committing the will to the impulses of the sensibility, to the desires, emotions, feelings, and passions, instead of committing it to the good of being in general, in obedience to the law of the reason, or to the law of God as it is revealed in the reason. Selfishness is the intention to gratify self as an end. It is the preference of self-interest to other and higher interests.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 26 - Moral Government B continued (Part II) paragraph 13 What constitutes disobedience . . What is not implied in disobedience to the law of God

     I. It does not necessarily imply an intention to do wrong. The thing intended in selfishness is to gratify self as an end. This is wrong; but it is not necessary to its being wrong, that the wrongness should be aimed at or intended. There may be a state of malicious feeling in a moral agent that would be gratified by the commission of sin. A sinner may have knowingly and intentionally made war upon God and man, and this may have induced a state of the sensibility so hostile to God, as that the sinner has a malicious desire to offend and abuse God, to violate his law, and trample upon his authority. This state of feeling may take the control of the will, and he may deliberately intend to violate the law and to do what God hates, for the purpose of gratifying this feeling. This, however, it will be seen, is not malevolence, or willing either natural or moral evil, for its own sake, but as a means of self-gratification. It is selfishness, and not malevolence.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 26 - Moral Government B continued (Part II) paragraph 16 What constitutes disobedience . . What is not implied in disobedience to the law of God

     But again. It is not true that sinners have a constitutional appetency and craving for sin. They have a constitutional appetite or desire for a great many things around them. They crave food, and drink, and knowledge. So did our first parents; and when these desires were strongly excited, they were a powerful temptation to prohibited indulgence. Eve craved the fruit, and the knowledge which she supposed she might attain by partaking of it. These desires led her to seek their indulgence in a prohibited manner. She desired and craved the food and the knowledge, and not the sin of eating. So, all sinners have constitutional and artificial appetites and desires enough. But not one of them is a craving for sin, unless it be the exception already named, when the mind has come into such relations to God, as to have a malicious satisfaction in abusing him. But this is not natural to man, and if it ever exists, is only brought about by rejecting great light, and inducing a most terrible perversion of the sensibility. But such cases are extremely rare; whereas, it has been strangely and absurdly maintained that all sinners, in consequence of the fall of Adam, have a sinful constitution, or one that craves sin, as it craves food and drink. This is false in fact, and absurd in philosophy, and wholly inconsistent with scripture, as we shall see, when we make moral depravity the special subject of attention. The facts are these: men have constitutional desires, appetites, and passions. These are not sinful in themselves; they all terminate on their respective objects. Selfishness, or sin, consists in choosing the gratification of these desires as an end, or in preferring their gratification to other and higher interests. This choice or intention is sinful. But, as I have said, sin is not the object intended, but self-gratification is the end intended.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 26 - Moral Government B continued (Part II) paragraph 24 What constitutes disobedience . . What is not implied in disobedience to the law of God

     As it was with Adam and Eve, so it is with every sinner. There is not, there cannot be, sin in the nature of the constitution. But there are constitutional appetites and passions, and when these are strongly excited, they are a strong temptation or inducement to the will, to seek their gratification as an ultimate end. This, as I have said, is sin, and nothing else is or can be sin. It is selfishness. Under its appropriate head, I shall show that the nature or constitution of sinners has become physically depraved or diseased, and that as a consequence, the appetites and passions are more easily excited, and are more clamorous and despotic in their demands; and that, therefore, the constitution of man in its present state, tends more strongly than it otherwise would do, to sin. But to affirm that the constitution is in itself sinful, is worse than nonsense; it is contradicting God's own definition of sin. It is to stultify the whole question of morality and religion. But this we shall more fully see in a future lecture.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 27 - Attributes of Selfishness. paragraph 4 What constitutes disobedience to moral law . . What is implied in disobedience to moral law . . Attributes of Selfishness. Voluntariness . . Liberty . . Intelligence . . Unreasonableness . . Interestedness . . Partiality . . Impenitence . . Unbelief

ATTRIBUTES OF SELFISHNESS.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 27 - Attributes of Selfishness. paragraph 11 What constitutes disobedience to moral law . . What is implied in disobedience to moral law . . Attributes of Selfishness. Voluntariness . . Liberty . . Intelligence . . Unreasonableness . . Interestedness . . Partiality . . Impenitence . . Unbelief

     1. We have seen that disobedience to moral law consists always in selfishness.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 27 - Attributes of Selfishness. paragraph 12 What constitutes disobedience to moral law . . What is implied in disobedience to moral law . . Attributes of Selfishness. Voluntariness . . Liberty . . Intelligence . . Unreasonableness . . Interestedness . . Partiality . . Impenitence . . Unbelief

     2. Selfishness consists in the ultimate choice of our own gratification.

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 27 - Attributes of Selfishness. paragraph 15 What constitutes disobedience to moral law . . What is implied in disobedience to moral law . . Attributes of Selfishness. Voluntariness . . Liberty . . Intelligence . . Unreasonableness . . Interestedness . . Partiality . . Impenitence . . Unbelief

     5. Selfishness chooses and cares for good only upon condition that it belongs to self. It is not the gratification of being in general, but self-gratification upon which selfishness terminates. It is a good because it belongs to self, or is chosen upon that condition. But when it is affirmed, that selfishness is sin, and the whole of sin, we are in danger of misconceiving the vast import of the word, and of taking a very narrow and superficial and inadequate view of the subject. It is, therefore, indispensable to raise and push the inquiry,--What is implied in selfishness? What are its characteristics and essential elements? What modifications or attributes does it develope and manifest, under the various circumstances in which in the providence of God it is placed? It consists in the committal of the will to the gratification of desire. The apostle calls it "fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind." What must be implied in the state of mind which consists in the committal of the whole being to the gratification of self as an end? What must be the effect upon the desires themselves, to be thus indulged? What must be the effect upon the intellect, to have its high demands trampled under foot? What must be the developements of it in the outward life? What must be the effect upon the temper and spirit, to have self-indulgence the law of the soul? This leads to the investigation of the point before us, namely--

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 27 - Attributes of Selfishness. paragraph 17 What constitutes disobedience to moral law . . What is implied in disobedience to moral law . . Attributes of Selfishness. Voluntariness . . Liberty . . Intelligence . . Unreasonableness . . Interestedness . . Partiality . . Impenitence . . Unbelief

     The inquiry, it will be seen, naturally divides itself into two branches. The first respects the moral character of selfishness, the second respects the attributes of selfishness. We will attend to these two inquiries in their order, and--

 

 


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 27 - Attributes of Selfishness. paragraph 18 What constitutes disobedience to moral law . . What is implied in disobedience to moral law . . Attributes of Selfishness. Voluntariness . . Liberty . . Intelligence . . Unreasonableness . . Interes