What Saith the Scripture?


Phila delphia > Putting on Christ by Charles G. Finney from "The Oberlin Evangelist"

The Oberlin Evangelist

Lecture VI
Putting on Christ

Charles G. Finney

Charles G. Finney

A Voice from the Philadelphian Church Age

  Wisdom is Justified

by Charles Grandison Finney

Public Domain Text
Reformatted by Katie Stewart

from "The Oberlin Evangelist"
March 15, 1843

Lecture VI.

by the Rev. C. G. Finney

Text.--Rom. 13:14: "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof."

It is my purpose to show,

I. What is intended by this command.

II. What is implied in obeying it.

III. Some of the essential conditions of obedience to it.

IV. Obligation to obey this command is universal.

V. Obedience to the requirements of this text is naturally indispensable to salvation.

VI. Some of the consequences of obeying this requirement.

VII. Consequences of disobeying it.

I. What is intended by this command.

I observe that the idea is taken from the drama; "To put on a person," is to assume his character, and peculiarities, as an actor does on the stage. This commandment, therefore, enjoins the imitation of Christ, as actors imitate those whom they represent.

II. What is implied in obeying this command.

III. Some of the essential conditions of obedience to this command.

IV. Obligation to obey this command is universal.

V. Obedience to the requirement of this text, is naturally indispensable to salvation.

VI. Some of the consequences of obeying this requirement.

And here, I wish to be exceedingly candid, and keep nothing back. I have often marked how much the Lord Jesus Christ differed from many who set themselves up as reformers. He would often press his hearers, till almost all of them would forsake Him. Once, all left Him but his twelve disciples, and He turned to them and said, "Will ye also go away?" Implying that he would rather lose them than to keep back the truth. And we must not preach a false Christ, or you will have the livery of heaven, and the temper of the world.

VII. Consequences of disobeying this requirement.


1. Inconsistent professors sometimes gain the hollow applause of the unthinking, and ungodly.

2. But they never gain the solid respect, of any class, for any considerable time. Instead of this, they really lose it. For as soon as their true character appears, mankind cannot but condemn and abhor it. Their inward want of confidence in such professors, is often exhibited in a trying hour. A fact related in my hearing by a Methodist minister, made a deep impression on my mind. A wealthy man in the South, who had sat under the preaching of a worldly minister, was taken sick, and about to die. His friends asked him, if they should send for his minister. He said, no, I do not want him now; we have been together at the horse-race. They urged him to send for somebody, and mentioned several. But he rejected them all; and at last told them to call in Tom, one of his colored men; for, said he, I have often heard him pray alone. Tom came, laid his little hat at the door, and inquired what his master wanted. Said the dying man, "Tom, do you pray?" "Yes, master,--in my weak way." "Can you pray for your dying master?" "I'll try," he repeated. "Come here, then, and pray for me." And Tom drew near, and poured out his soul to God for the dying man. Ah! the master knew, in his inmost soul, that his minister could not pray. Poor Tom, was the man to pray.

3. The lives of many professors, are a most terrible burlesque on Christianity. Satan, it would seem, has pushed these into the Church to disgrace it. Persons who have a strong sense of the ridiculous, are often tempted to laugh at the absurd notions of religion which some manifest. They never seem to think of asking how Christ would do. I have sometimes seen servants, in families where they were called to family worship, come in cowering, and get behind the door, altogether away from the family circle. I wonder if they think it will be so in heaven. In some families I know, it is not their wish, but the choice of the servant, and of course they are not to blame. Since I have been here I have seen persons take up their hats and leave the house, when they see the colored people sitting among the whites. I wonder if such people would do so in heaven. Do let me ask, is not this the direct opposite of the spirit of Christ? How would Christ treat the poor slaves, and the colored people, if He were in this country?

4. See the importance of always bearing in mind the person whom you have undertaken to represent, and the part you are expected to act. For example; all can see that a minister in the pulpit, and every where, should bear this in mind, and so he should; but no more, really, than any other Christian should in his vocation.

5. It becomes us to inquire, whether we have so represented Christ as to give those around us the true idea of religion. Suppose a minister should never ask himself, what idea of religion his people get from him. It is easy to see that he would not be able to convey a very definite idea of it to his people. So every professor should do. And now beloved, do you live so as to make the impression, that religion is disinterested benevolence? Who would get that idea from you? Said a man not long since, if religion is benevolence, I know of but one man in our church who seems to be religious. How many do you know in this City? Nothing else is religion--Do you live so? Do I? If not what will become of our souls?

6. Those who do not put on Christ, are the worst kind of heretics. There is no heresy so bad as a false profession.

7. Inconsistent professors are the greatest curse to the world, that there is in it.

8. Professors who have not put on Christ should confess to those around them and instantly reform. Confess to your wife, your children, your church, your neighbors. Will you do it?

9. Sinners are altogether without excuse, and are as much bound to put on Christ as professors.

10. Unless every one of us, in his calling, fully intends to put on Christ, and keep Him on, we are in the way to hell. If you are not what you think Christ would be in your calling, you are not a Christian. How different is this from the common religion. All that we see is pride, and starch, and fashion, and death. Oh! brethren, let us put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and "make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof."


of easily misunderstood terms as defined by Mr. Finney himself.
Compiled by Katie Stewart

  1. 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 XII).

  2. 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).

  3. 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).

  4. 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).

  5. 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).

  6. 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).

  7. 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).

  8. 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 III).

  9. 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).

  10. 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).

  11. 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).


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