By Rev. Charles G. Finney
VI. CONDITIONS OF ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION.--Continued.
To ascertain the conditions of entire sanctification in this life we need to consider what the temptations are that overcome us. When first converted we have seen that the heart or will consecrates itself and the whole being to God. We have also seen that this is a state of disinterested benevolence or a committal of the whole being to the promotion of the highest good of being. We have also seen that all sin is selfishness, or that all sin consists in the will's seeking the indulgence or gratification of self; that it consists in the will's yielding obedience to the propensities instead of obeying God, as his law is revealed in the reason. Now who can not see what needs to be done to break the power of temptation and let the soul go free? The fact is that the department of our sensibility that is related to objects of time and sense has received an enormous development and is tremblingly alive to all its correlated objects, while by reason of the blindness of the mind to spiritual objects, it is scarcely developed at all in its relations to them. Those objects are seldom thought of by the carnal mind, and when they are, they are only thought of. They are not clearly seen, and of course they are not felt.
The thought of God, of Christ, of sin, of holiness, of heaven, and hell, excites little or no emotion in the carnal mind. The carnal mind is alive and awake to earthly and sensible objects, but dead to spiritual realities. The spiritual world needs to be revealed to the soul. The soul needs to see and clearly apprehend its own spiritual condition, relations, wants. It needs to become acquainted with God and Christ, to have spiritual and eternal realities made plain, and present, and all-absorbing realities to the soul. It needs such discoveries of the eternal world, of the nature and guilt of sin, and of Christ, the Remedy of the soul, as to kill or greatly mortify lust, or the appetites and passions in their relations to objects of time and sense, and to thoroughly develope the sensibility in its relations to sin and to God, and to the whole circle of spiritual realities. This will greatly abate the frequency and power of temptation to self-gratification, and break up the voluntary slavery of the will. The developments of the sensibility need to be thoroughly corrected. This can only be done by the revelation by the Holy Spirit, to the inward man, of those great and solemn and overpowering realities of the "spirit land," that lie concealed from the eye of flesh.
We often see those around us whose sensibility is so developed in some one or more directions, that they are led captive by appetite and passion in that direction in spite of reason and of God. The inebriate is an example of this. The glutton, the licentious, the avaricious man, &c., are examples of this kind. We sometimes, on the other hand, see by some striking providence such a counter development of the sensibility produced as to slay and put down those particular tendencies, and the whole direction of the man's life seems to be changed; and outwardly at least, it is so. From being a perfect slave to his appetite for strong drink, he can not without the utmost loathing and disgust so much as hear the name of his once loved beverage mentioned. From being a most avaricious man he becomes deeply disgusted with wealth, and spurns and despises it. Now this has been effected by a counter development of the sensibility, for in the case supposed religion has nothing to do with it. Religion does not consist in the states of the sensibility, nor in the will's being influenced by the sensibility; but sin consists in the will's being thus influenced. One great thing that needs to be done to confirm and settle the will in the attitude of entire consecration to God, is to bring about a counter development of the sensibility, so that it will not draw the will away from God. It needs to be mortified or crucified to the world, to objects of time and sense by so deep, and clear, and powerful a revelation of self to self and of Christ to the soul as to awaken and develop all its susceptibilities in their relations to him and to spiritual and divine realities. This can easily be done through and by the Holy Spirit who takes of the things of Christ and shows them to us. He so reveals Christ that the soul receives him to the throne of the heart and to reign throughout the whole being. When the will, the intellect, and the sensibility are yielded to him, he develops the intelligence and the sensibility by clear revelations of himself in all his offices and relations to the soul, confirms the will, mellows and chastens the sensibility by these divine revelations to the intelligence.
1. It is plain that men are naturally able to be entirely sanctified in the sense of rendering entire and continual obedience to God; for the ability is the condition of the obligation to do so. But what is implied in ability to be as holy as God requires us to be?
The ready and plain answer to this question is:
(1.) The possession of the powers, and susceptibilities of moral agents.
(2.) Sufficient knowledge or light to reveal to us the whole of duty.
(3.) And also to reveal to us clearly the way and means of overcoming any and every difficulty or temptation that lies in our way.
The first we all possess. The second we also possess, for nothing strictly is or can be duty that is not revealed or made known to us. The third is proffered to us upon condition that we receive the Holy Spirit who offers himself as an indwelling light and guide, and who is received by simple faith.
The light and grace which we need and which it is the office of the Holy Spirit to supply, respects mainly the following things:
1. Knowledge of ourselves, our past sins, their nature, aggravation, guilt, and desert of dire damnation.
2. Knowledge of our spiritual helplessness or weakness in consequence of,
(1.) The physical depravity of our natures.
(2.) Of the strength of selfish habit.
(3.) Because of the power of temptation from the world, the flesh, and Satan.
3. We need the light of the Holy Spirit to teach us the character of God, the nature of his government, the purity of his law, the necessity and fact of atonement.
4. To teach us our need of Christ in all his offices and relations governmental, spiritual, and mixed.
5. We need the revelation of Christ to our souls in all these relations, and in such power as to induce in us that appropriating faith without which Christ is not and can not be our salvation.
6. We need to know Christ, for example, in such relations as the following:
(1.) As King, to set up his government and write his law in our hearts; to establish his kingdom within us; to sway his sceptre over our whole being. As king he must be spiritually revealed and received.
(2.) As our Mediator, to stand between the offended justice of God and our guilty souls, to bring about a reconciliation between our souls and God. As mediator he must be known and received.
(3.) As our Advocate or Paracletos, our next or best friend to plead our cause with the Father, our righteous and all prevailing advocate to secure the triumph of our cause at the bar of God. In this relation he must be apprehended and embraced.
(4.) As our Redeemer, to redeem us from the curse of the law and from the power and dominion of sin; to pay the price demanded by public justice for our release and to over come and break up forever our spiritual bondage. In this relation also we must know and appreciate him by faith.
(5.) As our Justification. to procure our pardon and acceptance with God. To know him and embrace him in this relation is indispensable to peace of mind and to release from the condemnation of the law.
(6.) As our Judge, to pronounce sentence of acceptance, and to award to us the victor's crown.
(7.) As the Repairer of the Breach, or as the one who makes good to the government of God our default, or in other words, who, by his obedience unto death, rendered to the public justice of God a full governmental equivalent for the infliction of the penalty of the law upon us.
(8.) As the Propitiation for our sins, to offer himself as a propitiatory or offering for our sins. The apprehension of Christ as making an atonement for our sins seems to be indispensable to the entertaining of a healthy hope of eternal life. It certainly is not healthy for the soul to apprehend the mercy of God without regarding the conditions of its exercise. It does not sufficiently impress the soul with a sense of the justice and holiness of God, with the guilt and desert of sin. It does not sufficiently awe the soul and humble it in the deepest dust to regard God as extending pardon without regard to the sternness of his justice, as evinced in requiring that sin should be recognized in the universe as worthy of the wrath and curse of God, as a condition of its forgiveness. It is remarkable and well worthy of all consideration that those who deny the atonement make sin a comparative trifle, and seem to regard God's benevolence or love as good nature rather than, as it is, "a consuming fire" to all the workers of iniquity. Nothing does or can produce that awe of God, that fear and holy dread of sin--that sense of self-abasement--that self-abasing, God-justifying, spirit that a thorough apprehension of the atonement of Christ will do. Nothing like this can beget that spirit of self-renunciation, of cleaving to Christ, of taking refuge in his blood. In these relations Christ must be revealed to and apprehended and embraced by us as the condition of our entire sanctification.
(9.) As the Surety of a better than the first covenant, that is, as Surety of a gracious covenant founded on better promises; as an underwriter or endorser of our obligation; as one who undertakes for us and pledges himself as our security to fulfil[l] for and in us all the conditions of our salvation. To apprehend and appropriate Christ by faith in this relation is no doubt a condition of our entire sanctification. I should greatly delight to enlarge, and write a whole course of lectures on the offices and relations of Christ, the necessity of knowing and appropriating him in these relations as the condition of our entire, in the sense of continued sanctification. This would require a large volume at least. All that I can do is to merely suggest a skeleton outline of this subject in this place.
(10.) We need to apprehend and appropriate Christ as dying for our sins. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to thus reveal his death in its relations to our individual sins, and as related to our sins as individuals. The soul needs to apprehend Christ as crucified for us. It is one thing for the soul to regard the death of Christ merely as the death of a martyr, and an infinitely different thing, as every one knows who has had the experience, to apprehend his death as a real and veritable vicarious sacrifice for our sins, as being truly a substitute for our death. The soul needs to apprehend Christ as suffering on the cross for it, or as its substitute; so that it can say, that sacrifice is for me, that suffering and that death are for my sins. That Blessed Lamb is slain for my sins. If thus fully to apprehend and to appropriate Christ can not kill sin in us, what can?
(11.) We also need to know Christ as risen for our justification. He arose and lives to procure our certain acquittal or our complete pardon and acceptance with God. That he lives and is our justification we need to know, to break the bondage of legal motives and to slay all selfish fear; to break and destroy the power of temptation from this source. The clearly convinced soul is often tempted to despondency and unbelief, to despair of its own acceptance with God, and it would surely fall into the bondage of fear, were it not for the faith of Christ as a risen, living, justifying Savior. In this relation the soul needs clearly to apprehend and fully to appropriate Christ in his completeness, as a condition of abiding in a state of disinterested consecration to God.
(12.) We need also to have Christ revealed to us as bearing our griefs and as carrying our sorrows. The clear apprehension of Christ as being made sorrowful for us, and as bending under sorrows and griefs that in justice belonged to us, tends at once to render sin unspeakably odious and Christ infinitely precious to our souls. The idea of Christ our substitute, needs to be thoroughly developed in our minds. And this relation of Christ needs to be so clearly revealed to us as to become an every where present reality to us. We need to have Christ so revealed as to so completely ravish and engross our affections, that we would sooner cut our own throats or suffer others to cut them than to sin against him. Is such a thing impossible? Indeed it is not. Is not the Holy Spirit able, and willing, and ready to thus reveal him upon condition of our asking it in faith? Surely he is.
(13.) We also need to apprehend Christ as the one by whose stripes we are healed. We need to know him as relieving our pains and sufferings by his own, as preventing our death by his own, as sorrowing that we might eternally rejoice, as grieving that we might be unspeakably and eternally glad, as dying in unspeakable agony that we might die in deep peace and in unspeakable triumph.
(14.) "As being made sin for us." We need to apprehend him as being treated as a sinner and even as the chief of sinners on our account, or for us. This is the representation of scripture that Christ on our account was treated as if he were a sinner. He was made sin for us, that is, he was treated as a sinner or rather as being the representative or as it were the embodiment of sin for us. O! this the soul needs to apprehend--the holy Jesus treated as a sinner, and as if all sin were concentrated in him, on our account! We procured this treatment of him. He consented to take our place in such a sense as to endure the cross, and the curse of the law, for us. When the soul apprehends this, it is ready to die with grief and love. O, how infinitely it loaths self under such an apprehension as this! In this relation he must not only be apprehended, but appropriated by faith.
(15.) We also need to apprehend the fact that "he was made sin for us that we might be make[made] the righteousness of God in him;" that Christ was treated as a sinner that we might be treated as righteous; that we might also be made personally righteous by faith in him; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him; that we might inherit and be made partakers of God's righteousness as that righteousness exists and is revealed in Christ; that we might in and by him be made righteous as God is righteous. The soul needs to see that his being made sin for us, was in order that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. It needs to embrace and lay hold by faith upon that righteousness of God which is brought home to saints in Christ, through the atonement and indwelling Spirit.
(16.) We also need him revealed to the soul as one upon whose shoulders is the government of the world; who administers the government moral and providential of this world for the protection, discipline and benefit of believers. This revelation has a most sin-subduing tendency. That all events are directly or indirectly controlled by him who has so loved us as to die for us; that all things absolutely are designed for and will surely result in our good--these and such like considerations when revealed to the soul and made living realities by the Holy Spirit tend to kill selfishness and confirm the love of God in the soul.
(17.) We also need Christ revealed to the inward being as Head over all things to the church. All these relations are of no avail to our sanctification only in so far forth as they are directly and inwardly and personally revealed to the soul by the Holy Spirit. It is one thing to have thoughts and ideas and opinions concerning Christ, and an entirely different thing to know Christ as he is revealed by the Holy Spirit. All the relations of Christ imply corresponding necessities in us. When the Holy Spirit has revealed to us the necessity and Christ as exactly suited to fully meet that necessity, and urged his acceptance in that relation until we have appropriated him by faith, a great work is done. But until we are thus revealed to ourselves and Christ is thus revealed to us and accepted by us, nothing is done more than to store our heads with notions or opinions and theories, while our hearts are becoming more and more, at every moment, like an adamant stone.
I have often feared that many professed christians knew Christ only after the flesh, that is, they have no other knowledge of Christ than what they obtain by reading and hearing about him without any special revelation of him to the inward being by the Holy Spirit. I do not wonder that such professors and ministers should be totally in the dark upon the subject of entire sanctification in this life. They regard sanctification as brought about by the formation of holy habits instead of resulting from the revelation of Christ to the soul in all his fulness and relations, and the soul's renunciation of self and appropriation of Christ in these relations. Christ is represented in the bible as the Head of the church. The church is represented as his body. He is to the church what the head is to the body. The head is the seat of the intelligence, the will, and in short, of the living soul. Consider what the body would be without the head, and you may understand what the church would be without Christ. But as the church would be without Christ, so each believer would be without Christ. But we need to have our necessities in this respect clearly revealed to us by the Holy Spirit, and this relation of Christ made plain to our apprehension. The utter darkness of the human mind in regard to its own spiritual state and wants, and in regard to the relations and fulness of Christ, is truly wonderful. His relations as mentioned in the bible are overlooked almost entirely until our wants are discovered. When these are made known and the soul begins in earnest to inquire after a remedy, it needs not inquire in vain. "Say not in thine heart, who shall ascend up to heaven? that is, to bring Christ down from above; or who shall descend into the deep? that is, to bring Christ again from the dead. But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart."
(18.) Christ as having all power, or authority in heaven and earth, needs also to be revealed to the soul, and received by faith, to dwell in and rule over it. The corresponding want must of necessity be first known to the mind before it can apprehend and appropriate Christ by faith in this or any other relation. The soul needs to see and feel its weakness, its need of protection, of being defended, and watched over, and controlled. It needs to see this, and also the power of its spiritual enemies, its besetments, its dangers and its certain ruin unless the Almighty One interpose in its behalf. It needs thus truly and deeply to know itself and then, to inspire it with confidence, it needs a revelation of Christ as God, as the Almighty God, to the soul, as one who possesses absolute and infinite power, and as presented to the soul to be accepted as its strength and as all it needs of power.
O how infinitely blind he is to the fulness and glory of Christ who does not know himself and know Christ as both are revealed by the Holy Spirit. When we are led by the Holy Spirit to look down into the abyss of our own emptiness--to behold the horrible pit and miry clay of our own habits, and fleshly, and worldly, and infernal entanglements; when we see in the light of God that our emptiness and necessities are infinite; then, and not till then, are we prepared wholly to cast off self and to put on Christ. The glory and fulness of Christ are not discovered to the soul until it discovers its need of him. But when self, in all its loathsomeness and helplessness, is fully revealed, until hope is utterly extinct as it respects every kind and degree of help in ourselves; and when Christ, the all and in all, is revealed to the soul as its all-sufficient portion and salvation, then, and not until then does the soul know its salvation. This knowledge is the indispensable condition of appropriating faith, or of that act of receiving Christ or that committal of all to him that takes Christ home to dwell in the heart by faith and to preside over all its states and actions. O, such a knowledge and such a reception and putting on of Christ is blessed. Happy is he who knows it by his own experience.
It is indispensable to a steady and implicit faith that the soul should have a spiritual apprehension of what is implied in the saying of Christ that all power was delivered unto him. The ability of Christ to do all and even exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, is what the soul needs clearly to apprehend in a spiritual sense, that is, to apprehend it, not merely as a theory or as a proposition, but to see the true spiritual import of this saying. This is also equally true of all that is said in the bible about Christ, of all his offices and relations. It is one thing to theorize and speculate and opine about Christ, and an infinitely different thing to know him as he is revealed by the Holy Spirit. When Christ is fully revealed to the soul by the Comforter, it will never again doubt the attainability and reality of entire sanctification in this life.
(19.) Another necessity of the soul is to know Christ spiritually as the Prince of Peace. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you" said Christ. What is this peace? And who is Christ in the relation of the Prince of Peace? What is it to possess the peace of Christ--to have the peace of God rule in our hearts? Without the revelation of Christ to the soul by the Holy Spirit, it has no spiritual apprehension of the meaning of this language. Nor can it lay hold on and appropriate Christ as its peace, as the Prince of Peace. Whoever knows and has embraced Christ as his peace and as the Prince of Peace., knows what it is to have the peace of God rule in his heart. But none else at all understand the true spiritual import of this language, nor can it be so explained to them as that they will apprehend it unless it be explained by the Holy Spirit.
(20.) The soul needs also to know Christ as the Captain of salvation, as the skillful conductor, guide and captain of the soul in all its conflicts with its spiritual enemies, as one who is ever at hand to lead the soul on to victory and make it more than a conqueror in all its conflicts with the world, the flesh, and Satan. How indispensable to a living and efficient faith it is and must be for the soul to clearly apprehend by the Holy Spirit this relation of Captain of Salvation and Captain of the Lord's Host. Without confidence in the Leader and Captain, how shall the soul put itself under his guidance and protection in the hour of conflict? It can not.
The fact is that when the soul is ignorant of Christ as a Captain or Leader, it will surely fall in battle. If the church as a body but knew Christ as the Captain of the Lord's Host; if he were but truly and spiritually known to them in that relation, no more confusion would be seen in the ranks of God's elect. All would be order and strength and conquest. They would soon go up and take possession of the whole territory that has been promised to Christ. The heathen should soon be given to him for an inheritance and the uttermost parts of the world for a possession. Joshua knew Christ as the Captain of the Lord's Host. Consequently he had more courage, and efficiency, and prowess than all Israel besides. Even so it is now. When a soul can be found who thoroughly knows and has embraced and appropriated Christ, he is a host of himself. That is, he has appropriated the attributes of Christ to himself; and his influence is felt in Heaven, and earth, and hell.
(21.) Another affecting and important relation in which the soul needs to know Christ, is that of our Passover.
It needs to understand that the only reason why it has not been or will not assuredly be slain for sin is that Christ has sprinkled, as our Paschal Lamb, the lintel and door posts of our souls with his own blood, and that therefore the destroying angel passes us by. There is a most deep and sin-subduing or rather temptation-subduing spirituality in this relation of Christ to the soul when revealed by the Holy Spirit. We must apprehend our sins as slaying the Lamb, and apply his blood to our souls by faith--his blood as being our protection and our only trust. We need to know the security there is in this being sprinkled with his blood, and the certain and speedy destruction of all who have not taken refuge under it. We need to know also that it will not do for a moment to venture out into the streets and from under its protection, lest we be slain there.
(22.) To know Christ as our Wisdom in the true spiritual sense is doubtless indispensable to our entire in the sense of continued sanctification. He is our wisdom in the sense of being the whole of our religion. That is, when separated from him we have no spiritual life whatever. He is at the bottom of, or the inducing cause of all our obedience. This we need clearly to apprehend. Until the soul clearly understands this, it has learned nothing to the purpose of its helplessness and of Christ's spiritual relations to it.
(23.) Very nearly allied to this is Christ's relation to the soul as its Sanctification. I have been amazed at the ignorance of the church and of the ministry respecting Christ as its Sanctification. He is not its Sanctifier in the sense that he does something to the soul that enables it to stand and persevere in holiness in its own strength. He does not change the structure of the soul, but he watches over and works in it to will and to do continually, and thus becomes its Sanctification. His influence is not exerted once for all, but constantly. When he is apprehended and embraced as the soul's sanctification, he rules in and reigns over the soul in so high a sense that he, as it were, develops his own holiness in us. He, as it were, swallows us up, so enfolds (if I may so say,) our wills and our souls in his that we are willingly led captive by him. We will and do as he wills within us. He charms the will into a universal bending to his will. He so establishes his throne in, and his authority over us that he subdues us to himself. He becomes our sanctification only in so far forth as we are revealed to ourselves, and he revealed to us, and as we receive him and put him on. What! has it come to this, that the church doubt and reject the doctrine of entire sanctification in this life? Then, it must be that they have lost sight of Christ as their sanctification. Is not Christ perfect in all his relations? Is there not a completeness and fulness in him? When embraced by us, are we not complete in him? The secret of all this doubting about and opposition to the doctrine of entire sanctification is to be found in the fact that Christ is not apprehended and embraced as our sanctification. The Holy Spirit sanctifies only by revealing Christ to us as our sanctification. He does not speak of himself, but takes of the things of Christ and shows them to us.
Two among the most prominent ministers in the Presbyterian church have said to me within a few years, that they had never heard of Christ as the sanctification of the soul. O, how many of the ministry of the present day overlook the true spiritual gospel of Christ.
(24.) Another of Christ's spiritual relations is that of the Redemption of the soul; not merely as the Redeemer considered in his governmental relation, but as a present Redemption. To apprehend and receive Christ in this relation, the soul needs to apprehend itself as sold under sin; as being the voluntary but real slave of lust and appetite, except as Christ continually delivers us from its power by strengthening and confirming our wills in resisting and overcoming the flesh.
(25.) Christ our Prophet is another important spiritual relation in which we need to apprehend Christ by the Holy Spirit as a condition of entire sanctification. He must be received as the great teacher of our souls, so that every word of his, will be received as God speaking to us. This will render the bible precious and all the words of life efficient to the sanctification of our souls.
(26.) As our High Priest we need also to know Christ. I say we need to know him in this relation, as really ever living and ever sustaining this relation to us, offering up, as it were, by a continual offering, his own blood and himself as a propitiation for our sins; as being entered within the veil and as ever living to make intercession for us. Much precious instruction is to be gathered from this relation of Christ. We need, perishingly need, to know Christ in this relation, as a condition of a right dependence upon him. I all the while feel embarrassed with the consideration that I am not able in this course of instruction to give a fuller account of Christ in these relations. We need a distinct revelation of him in each of these relations in order to a thorough understanding and clear apprehension of that which is implied in each and all of the relations of Christ.
When we sin, it is because of our ignorance of Christ. That is, whenever temptation overcomes us, it is because we do not know and avail ourselves of that relation of Christ that would meet at the time our necessities. One great thing that needs to be done is to correct the developments of our sensibility. The appetites and passions are enormously developed in their relations to earthly objects. In relation to things of time and sense our propensities are greatly developed and are alive; but in relation to spiritual truths and objects and eternal realities, we are naturally as dead as stones. When first converted, if we knew enough of ourselves and of Christ to thoroughly develop and correct the action of the sensibility and confirm our wills in a state of entire consecration, we should not fall. In proportion as the law-work preceding conversion has been thorough and the revelation of Christ at or immediately subsequent to conversion, full and clear, just in that proportion do we witness stability in converts. In most, if not in all instances, however, the convert is too ignorant of himself, and, of course, knows too little about Christ, to be established in permanent obedience. He needs renewed conviction of sin, to be revealed to himself and to have Christ revealed to him, and be formed in him the hope of glory, before he will be steadfast, always abounding in the work of the Lord.
Before I close this lecture, I must remark and shall have occasion to repeat the remark, that from what has been said, it must not be inferred that the knowledge of Christ in all these relations is a condition of our coming into a state of entire consecration to God or of present sanctification. The thing insisted on is that the soul will abide in this state in the hour of temptation only so far forth as it betakes itself to Christ in such circumstances of trial, and apprehends and appropriates him by faith from time to time in those relations that meet the present and pressing necessities of the soul. The temptation is the occasion of revealing the necessity, and the Holy Spirit is always ready to reveal Christ in the particular relation suited to the newly developed necessity. The perception and appropriation of him in this relation, under these circumstances of trial, is the sine qua non of our remaining in the state of entire consecration.