||delphia > The Rest of Faith- No.2 by Charles G. Finney from "The Oberlin Evangelist"
The Rest of Faith- No. 2
Charles G. Finney
A Voice from the Philadelphian Church Age
by Charles Grandison Finney
Public Domain Text
Reformatted by Katie Stewart
from "The Oberlin Evangelist"
September 25, 1839
THE REST OF FAITH--No. 2
by the Rev. C. G. Finney
Text.--Heb. 3:19 & 4:1."So we see
that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Let us therefore fear, lest a promise
being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of
Upon these words I remark:
1. That this rest, into which they could not enter, had been expressly promised
2. That though no condition was expressly annexed to this promise, yet faith as a
condition was necessarily implied; for if they had no confidence in the promise,
they would of course neglect the necessary means to gain possession of the promised
3. Unbelief rendered the fulfillment of the promise impossible, in as much as it
prevented their going up and taking possession when commanded to do so.
4. In my last, I showed that the land of Canaan was typical of spiritual rest or
the rest of faith.
5. This spiritual rest is expressly promised, and it is said that some must enter
therein, yet faith is an indispensable condition to its fulfillment.
These remarks prepare the way for the discussion of the two following propositions:
I. That faith instantly introduces the soul into a state of rest.
II. That unbelief renders the rest of the soul impossible.
I. Faith instantly introduces the soul into a state of rest.
- 1. This is evident from the nature of faith. Faith is the confidence of the heart
in the truth of God. It is a resting, a repose of the mind in God. Faith is that
state of mind in which every thing is confidently committed to the wisdom and goodness
of God. Faith is either satisfied with what we at present have, and is a confidence
that this is best for us, and most for God's glory; or it trusts in God to make such
changes in our circumstances and in our allotments as shall be most for his glory
and our interest.
- 2. Faith implies such a confidence as to exclude all anxiety about our own interest
for time or eternity. It is a confidence that God both knows, and is concerned to
supply all our wants--that he is both able and willing to be and do to us, and for
us, all that our souls and bodies need. It therefore excludes all anxiety in regard
to our present or future interests whether for time or for eternity.
- 3. Faith is that confidence in God's wisdom and goodness that prefers to have,
and to be denied whatever seems good in his sight. It chooses by all means that God
should mete out our changes, order our affairs, and dispose of every thing concerning
us. Faith would by no means consent to have any thing otherwise than according to
the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
- 4. Faith finds in Christ all the necessities of soul and body amply provided
for. It takes right hold on Christ as "our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification
and our redemption." Faith sees the meaning of such expressions as these in
the gospel, and lays fast hold on them, and so appropriates them to its own circumstances
and necessities as to feel no more trouble about its own destiny, than a man who
stands on everlasting rock will doubt its strength to support him. Thus faith, from
its own nature, puts carefulness and disquietude entirely out of the question.
II Unbelief renders the rest of the soul impossible.
- 1. This is evident from the nature of unbelief. Unbelief is not the mere absence
of faith. It is distrust--the refusal of the heart to trust in the truth, wisdom,
providence and grace of God. Consequently, in unbelief, the soul can find nothing
on which to rest for a moment. It is not satisfied with its present circumstances,
because there is no confidence in the wisdom and goodness of him who appointed them.
- 2. Unbelief renders it impossible for the mind to feel any security against future
ills, temporal or spiritual.
- 3. There is nothing in a state of unbelief that can support the mind amid the
necessary vicissitudes of life. God's government is moving on upon a vast scale,
and extends not only through immensity, but throughout eternity. Now it is self-evident
that in the administration of such a vast system of providences, innumerable things
will occur, that minds like ours cannot understand at present, and the design of
which we are utterly unable to see. Nor would it be possible for God, in our present
state, and with our present knowledge, to explain things so as to possess our minds
with all the reasons for his conduct. With infinitely more ease, could a parent engaged
in the most extensive worldly business in which any man was ever engaged, explain
to a child two years old the reason of his movements. The child has such confidence
in his parent, that he needs not to know the reason of any thing he does. But suppose
the child had no confidence in the wisdom and goodness of his parent, and still had
knowledge enough to understand that in ten thousand ways his own inclination might
be thwarted by the administration of his father's providence. This would naturally
and certainly keep his mind in a state of continual vexation. So, under the government
of God, it is impossible that we should not pass through a constant series of vicissitudes
and changes which will continue to vex and fret the mind that is in the exercise
of unbelief. Suppose the holy angels had not confidence in God. What think you would
be the state of mind into which they would be thrown by all the sin and misery they
behold in this world?
- 4. In unbelief the soul finds nothing to satisfy its desires. Having no communion
with, or resting in God, its very nature is such that nothing in the universe can
satisfy it. It has no such friend as it feels itself to need. The soul naturally
feels that it needs a friend with the attributes of a God. It knows full well that
all earthly friends, however faithful, are yet frail, and utterly unable to be to
them all they need. There is no portion but God that can satisfy the soul. The experience
and observation of every day, teach, that, multiply earthly goods without end, and
the soul is as far and even farther from being satisfied than at the first. The more
of any finite good the soul obtains, the more does it realize its wants, and either
grasps and heaves with convulsive longings after more, or feeling the utter insufficiency
of any finite good, it loathes them all. God is the only possible satisfying portion
of the soul, and it is as impossible that the soul should find a resting place except
in God, as that a dove should rest in mid-heaven, with weary wing, without a place
upon which to rest the sole of her foot. Unbelief then is the soul's refusal to settle
down and rest upon the infinite wisdom, goodness, truth and grace of God. It is the
soul's refusal to bathe in the ocean of his love--to bask in the sunlight of his
countenance--to rest sweetly and composedly in his hand, and hide under the cover
of his wing. Consequently,
- 5. The soul in unbelief has no sufficient barrier against the power of temptation.
Lust rages, and of course reigns while unbelief is in the heart. The soul without
faith has no perception of those higher motives that lift its desires and affections
above sensible objects. And in this state, the mind is given over to the reigning
power of the flesh, and the gratification of sense becomes the soul's supreme object
of pursuit. Thus the soul becomes the slave of the body. The spiritual eye being
shut, and the bodily eye open, the whole being grovels in the dust like a brute.
While the soul is chained down to this miserable earth, it languishes, and groans,
and hopes, and ever hopes in vain for future or present good to satisfy its immortal
cravings. Being thus delivered up to the power of temptation, it wallows in its own
filth, and is even ashamed of its own deformity. It loathes itself, and abhors every
thing else. A universal feeling of distrust, and enmity, and hell, keep it continually
on the rack.
- 6. I said that in unbelief, the soul was of course, delivered over to the reigning
power of lust. The mind must be under the influence of motives of some kind. If unbelief
prevails, no motive from eternity--from heaven--no voice or truth of God--no spiritual
or elevating considerations will call the attention of the mind, and elevate its
aims, and hopes, and efforts. The whole spiritual world being annihilated in the
estimation of such a mind, and the world of sense being that alone from which such
a mind receives impressions, all the motives under which it acts or in such a case
can act, being those derived from sensible objects, it will be influenced by such
considerations as might affect the beasts.
- 7. Another reason why unbelief renders the rest of the soul impossible is this.
Where there is any degree of spiritual light, the conscience is quickened to keep
the distrustful mind in a state of perpetual disquietude.
- 8. Unbelief delivers the soul over to a train of emotions, exercises, and affections,
which constitute essential misery. The soul that distrusts the wisdom, goodness,
and providence of God, will as a thing of course, be greatly soured by the providences
of God, and misanthropized by the conduct of men. To such a mind everything goes
wrong. Understanding and believing nothing of God's great plan of government, the
universe seems to such a mind as little else than a general chaos or ocean of confusion
and misery. And being supremely selfish, it is continually rasped and outraged by
the selfish collisions of clashing interests with which it is surrounded. To trust
in man, it cannot, and feels that it has no reason. To trust in God, it will not,
and consequently it has no place of repose in the world.
- 9. Unbelief therefore plunges the mind into an ocean of storms, and keeps it
there. Ignorant of the past--uncertain of the future--a prey to lust and passion--without
hope and without God--to rest is impossible.
1. Both faith and unbelief are volitions, and are therefore in the highest sense
within our reach, i.e. we are in the highest and most absolute sense voluntary in
their exercise. It is utterly absurd to say that we are unable to exercise either
faith or unbelief. Faith is the mind's acceptance of the truth of God. Unbelief is
the mind's rejection of that truth.
2. Faith is indispensable, in moral beings, to all virtue and all holiness in all
worlds. Were it not for their confidence in God, how soon would the angels be stumbled
at his providence and fall into rebellion. How many myriads of things does God find
it necessary to do, the reasons and wisdom of which they cannot at present understand.
Faith therefore is as indispensable to their virtue and happiness as to ours.
3. We can see why God has taken so much pains to inspire faith. The great object
of all his dispensations, and all his works and ways is to make himself known, and
thereby secure the confidence of intelligent creatures. Knowing that their virtue
and eternal happiness depend on this, he spares no pains, nay he did not hesitate
to give his only begotten and well beloved Son, to secure the confidence of his creatures
in his love.
4. We see that unbelief is the most shocking and abhorrent wickedness. Suppose that
children should refuse to trust their parents, and casting off all confidence in
their goodness and providence, they should refuse all obedience except the reasons
for every thing were satisfactorily explained--that neither the wisdom or justice
of any requirement or prohibition could be admitted without being made plain in all
their relations to their comprehension--that the parent could be trusted for nothing,
but that all was distrust and of course murmuring, uncertainty and discontent. Who
does not see that any family under the influence of unbelief, would present an image
of bedlam, and would be an epitome of hell? What parent would not consider himself
insulted in the highest degree, and feel the utmost certainty that his family were
ruined, if unbelief should come to be the prevailing principle of action? We naturally
feel in the highest degree insulted and outraged, whenever our veracity is called
in question. And you can scarcely anger men sooner than to suffer even an incredulous
look to advertise them that you doubt their word. And what is there more shocking
and offensive among dearest friends than to discover among those we love a want of
confidence in us? Let every husband and wife--let every parent and child--every friend
that is susceptible of the feelings of humanity, rise up and bear witness. Say, is
there any thing within the whole circle of disgusting and agonizing considerations
that is capable of inflicting a deeper wound upon your peace, than a discovery of
a want of confidence in those you love? It is an arrow dipped in deadly poison. It
is unmingled gall. Now how infinitely abominable must unbelief be in the sight of
God. What! his own offspring cast off confidence in their heavenly Father! Virtually
accusing him of lying and hypocrisy, and proudly disdaining all comfort, and impiously
and ridiculously insisting upon every thing being made plain to their understanding
so that they can see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and thrust their
hand into the wound in their Savior's side, or they will not believe. How must it
grieve the heart of God to see such a state of things as this existing in his family?
Distrust, and consequent confusion reigning all around, and no painstaking on his
part, prevails to secure confidence, and hush the tumultuous elements of conflicting
mind to rest.
5. You can see why unbelief is so anathematized in the Bible, as that awful sin against
which God has unmasked all the batteries of heaven. The reason is, it is at once
the foundation, and implies the whole aggregate of all abominations. It breaks the
power of moral government--shuts out the peace of God--lets in the infernal brood
of all the abominable passions of earth and hell upon the soul.
6. You who do not enter into the rest of faith may understand your present character
and your prospects. Remember that you are in the exercise of this greatest of all
infernal sins. Unbelief is the sin and the misery of hell. It is the sin and misery
of earth. Why do you harbor such an infernal monster in your bosom? It is as hideous
and frightful as the Apocalyptic beast with seven heads and ten horns, and as full
of curses as the seven last plagues.
7. How strange that unbelief is so seldom reckoned as sin. When professors of religion
and impenitent men are enumerating their sins, they almost never consider unbelief
as the foundation and cause of all their other sins. In confessing their sins to
God, if at all sensible of unbelief, they seem to whine over it as a calamity, rather
than confess and mourn over it as a crime. While this is so, and unbelief is neither
understood nor repented of as a sin, there is no prospect of a reconciliation between
God and the soul.
8. Faith is the most simple and easy exercise of the mind conceivable. It is one
of the earliest and most frequent exercises of the human mind. It is one of the first
exercises that we witness in little children. Confidence in those around them seems
to be as natural to them as their breath. The admirable simplicity, sincerity, and
confidence of little children in their parents and those around them, are truly affecting,
and afford a beautiful illustration of the wisdom and goodness of God. This confidence
which is so natural to them is indispensable to their well-being in almost every
respect. Now confidence in God differs nothing in kind, so far as the philosophy
of mind is concerned, from confidence in parents. While the little child knows nothing
of its wants, present or future, nothing of its dangers, and has no idea of any other
wants than what its parents can supply, it rests in peace, confiding in its earthly
friends for all its necessities. But as soon as he learns how little confidence can
be placed in men, and that its necessities are far-reaching beyond the power of any
human arm, its confidence in its parents can no longer keep the soul at rest. Hence:
9. For those who will not believe there can be no remedy. Salvation to them is a
natural impossibility. Under the wings of unbelief are congregated and sheltered
the whole brood and catalogue of the miseries of earth and hell. Nothing but faith
can be a remedy for their accumulated evils. At the bidding of faith the whole congregation
of abominations break up and are scattered to the winds of heaven. But to the influence
of nothing else can the mind yield itself up, that will relieve its anxieties, dissipate
its forebodings, and lull it into sweet repose upon the bosom of the blessed God.
10. How few have faith enough to enter into rest. In my last I assigned several reasons
why the Church does not enter into the rest of faith. It is perfectly obvious upon
the very face of the Church that very few of her members have entered into rest.
They are filled with nearly the same cares and anxieties as other men. This is a
great stumbling block to the world, and they often inquire what is religion worth?
They see their professedly Christian friends, as restless, and fretful, and uneasy
as themselves. What then, they inquire, can religion be?
11. The great mass of the Church have just conviction enough to make them even more
miserable than worldly men. They have so much conviction of sin, and of the reality
of eternal things, as to render it impossible for them to enjoy the world, and, having
no faith, they do not enjoy God. Consequently they are really destitute of all enjoyment,
and are the most miserable of all the inhabitants of earth; i.e. their inward unhappiness
is great, often beyond expression or endurance. They are so miserable themselves,
as to make all around them unhappy. I know a woman who is little else than a bundle
of disquietudes. I scarcely ever saw her five minutes in my life without her falling
into a complaining strain of herself or somebody else. Every thing and every body
are wrong. And whenever any one thinks she is wrong, it is because they do not understand
her. I have several times thought, it might well be said of her, she is of all women
most miserable. It would seem that she cannot be made to see that the whole difficulty
lies in her unbelief, but full of uneasiness about the present, and forebodings as
to the future, blaming every body, and blamed by every body, she seems to be afloat
upon an ocean of darkness and storms.
12. It seems almost impossible to make those who are filled with unbelief understand
what is the nature of their difficulty. They often have so much conviction as to
think that they believe. You tell them to believe, they tell you they do believe.
They seem not to discriminate at all between intellectual conviction, and the repose
of the heart in the truth.
13. You can see the desperate folly, wickedness, and madness of infidelity. Infidels
seem to imagine that if they can get rid of the impression of the truths of Christianity,
can persuade themselves that the Bible is not true--and thus shake off their fears
and sense of responsibility, they shall be happy. O fools and blind. What utter madness
is in such conclusions as these! For in exact proportion to their unbelief is their
desperate and incurable misery. An immortal mind with all its immortal wants and
desires, launched upon the ocean of life and crowded forward without the possibility
of annihilation--covered with complete ignorance and darkness with regard to the
past--a veil of impenetrable midnight stretched over all the future--winds and waves
roaring around him--rocks and breakers just before him--no helm--no compass--no star
of hope--no voice of mercy--nowhere to rest--no prospect of safety--not a point in
the wide universe on which the mind can repose for a moment. Considered in every
point of view, infidelity is the consummation of madness, of folly, and of desperate
14. If you, to whom this rest is preached, fail to enter in because of unbelief,
a future generation will enter in. The Apostle says, "It remains that some must
enter in." The promise in regard to the Church that some generation shall enter
in is absolute. As it respects individuals, whether you or your children, or some
future generation shall enter in, must depend upon your or their exercise of faith.
The contemporaries of Moses did not enter into temporal Canaan because of their unbelief
but the next generation took possession of it through faith.
of easily misunderstood terms as defined by Mr. Finney himself.
Compiled by Katie Stewart
- Complacency, or Esteem: "Complacency, as a state of will or heart,
is only benevolence modified by the consideration or relation of right character
in the object of it. God, prophets, apostles, martyrs, and saints, in all ages, are
as virtuous in their self-denying and untiring labours to save the wicked, as they
are in their complacent love to the saints." Systematic Theology (LECTURE
VII). Also, "approbation of the character of its object. Complacency is
due only to the good and holy." Lectures to Professing Christians (LECTURE
- Disinterested Benevolence: "By disinterested benevolence I do not
mean, that a person who is disinterested feels no interest in his object of pursuit,
but that he seeks the happiness of others for its own sake, and not for the sake
of its reaction on himself, in promoting his own happiness. He chooses to do good
because he rejoices in the happiness of others, and desires their happiness for its
own sake. God is purely and disinterestedly benevolent. He does not make His creatures
happy for the sake of thereby promoting His own happiness, but because He loves their
happiness and chooses it for its own sake. Not that He does not feel happy in promoting
the happiness of His creatures, but that He does not do it for the sake of His own
gratification." Lectures to Professing Christians (LECTURE I).
- Divine Sovereignty: "The sovereignty of God consists in the independence
of his will, in consulting his own intelligence and discretion, in the selection
of his end, and the means of accomplishing it. In other words, the sovereignty of
God is nothing else than infinite benevolence directed by infinite knowledge."
Systematic Theology (LECTURE LXXVI).
- Election: "That all of Adam's race, who are or ever will be saved,
were from eternity chosen by God to eternal salvation, through the sanctification
of their hearts by faith in Christ. In other words, they are chosen to salvation
by means of sanctification. Their salvation is the end- their sanctification is a
means. Both the end and the means are elected, appointed, chosen; the means as really
as the end, and for the sake of the end." Systematic Theology (LECTURE LXXIV).
- Entire Sanctification: "Sanctification may be entire in two senses:
(1.) In the sense of present, full obedience, or entire consecration to God; and,
(2.) In the sense of continued, abiding consecration or obedience to God. Entire
sanctification, when the terms are used in this sense, consists in being established,
confirmed, preserved, continued in a state of sanctification or of entire consecration
to God." Systematic Theology (LECTURE LVIII).
- Moral Agency: "Moral agency is universally a condition of moral obligation.
The attributes of moral agency are intellect, sensibility, and free will." Systematic
Theology (LECTURE III).
- Moral Depravity: "Moral depravity is the depravity of free-will,
not of the faculty itself, but of its free action. It consists in a violation of
moral law. Depravity of the will, as a faculty, is, or would be, physical, and not
moral depravity. It would be depravity of substance, and not of free, responsible
choice. Moral depravity is depravity of choice. It is a choice at variance with moral
law, moral right. It is synonymous with sin or sinfulness. It is moral depravity,
because it consists in a violation of moral law, and because it has moral character."
Systematic Theology (LECTURE XXXVIII).
- Human Reason: "the intuitive faculty or function of the intellect...
it is the faculty that intuits moral relations and affirms moral obligation to act
in conformity with perceived moral relations." Systematic Theology (LECTURE
- Retributive Justice: "Retributive justice consists in treating every
subject of government according to his character. It respects the intrinsic merit
or demerit of each individual, and deals with him accordingly." Systematic
Theology (LECTURE XXXIV).
- Total Depravity: "Moral depravity of the unregenerate is without
any mixture of moral goodness or virtue, that while they remain unregenerate, they
never in any instance, nor in any degree, exercise true love to God and to man."
Systematic Theology (LECTURE XXXVIII).
- Unbelief: "the soul's withholding confidence from truth and the God
of truth. The heart's rejection of evidence, and refusal to be influenced by it.
The will in the attitude of opposition to truth perceived, or evidence presented."
Systematic Theology (LECTURE LV).
RELATED STUDY AID:
Index for "The
Oberlin Evangelist": Finney:
Voices of Philadelphia