What Saith the Scripture?
The Eyes Opened to the Law of God- No.
by Charles Grandison Finney
President of Oberlin College
Oberlin Evangelist" Publication of Oberlin College
July 17, 1844
Public Domain Text
Reformatted by Katie Stewart
Text.--Ps. 119: 18:
"Open Thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law."
In this discourse I shall show--
I. In what sense the term law is used in the text.
II. The meaning of the request-- "open thou mine eyes."
III. What is implied in making the request.
IV. The consequences of receiving an answer to the request.
V. The condition of an answer to the request.
I. In what sense the term Law is used in the text.
The term "law" is used in various senses in the Bible. Sometimes it means
that which was written on the two tables of stone; sometimes the ceremonial law given
to Israel by God through Moses; sometimes the five books of Moses in distinction
from the books of the prophets and the Psalms, &c.; and sometimes it means the
whole revealed will of God. This last is its widest sense, and this I suppose to
be the meaning in the text; to wit: the whole Old Testament Scriptures--that is,
the whole revealed will of God. The prayer of the Psalmist is as if he had said--Open
Thou mine eyes to behold wondrous things in the Bible.
II. The meaning of the request--"Open thou mine eyes."
- 1. It does not mean create new eyes for me. Nor,
- 2. Does the Psalmist pray for any physical operation as removing a cataract,
or taking away a film from the surface of the eye; for it is not the natural eye
with which we see spiritual things. But,
- 3. The Psalmist does intend to pray for spiritual light. A man may have good
eyes, bodily and mental, and yet he will perceive nothing if light be wanting. I
suppose the Psalmist to pray for spiritual light, the medium of spiritual vision,
by which, supplied by the in-dwelling Spirit, he may apprehend the wondrous things
really revealed in the Bible. Many will inquire--What is this spiritual light? I
answer, that I cannot tell what it is, any more than I can tell what natural light
is. Ask me what natural light is, and I cannot tell. I can tell what philosophers
speculate about it, and that is all. I know this, that in its absence I cannot see,
and that in its presence I can see. So there is spiritual light. What it is I know
not, but that there is such a thing I do know, (and what Christian does not know
it?) Every man enlightened by the Spirit of God knows the fact full well. He may
be ignorant of its nature of the manner of its operations, as we doubtless are of
both natural and spiritual light, but of the fact of the existence of both we may
be perfectly sure; and of the existence of spiritual light, he upon whose eyes it
has shone, is as certain as any man can be of the existence of the sun in the heavens.
He knows that in its presence he can discern spiritual objects, and that in its absence
they are hid from his eyes. Now I say, that the Psalmist in the text, expresses his
desire to have spiritual light--his desire for the Spirit to shed his light upon
the Bible, without which, he could not see and apprehend the truth of the Bible,
and by which, they might be made to stand forth as actual realities to his soul.
I pass to show
III. What is implied in the request.
- 1. It is implied that we possess the faculties requisite for the perception of
spiritual objects. The Psalmist prays for no change or new creation, and there needs
no change in the nature or organization of our faculties.
- 2. That our spiritual eyes are useless without light--that they are of no avail
till God opens them, or till He supplies the light by which alone we can see--that
we shall not and cannot behold the wondrous things in God's law, only as the medium
of vision is supplied.
- 3. That the Psalmist knew very well that there were wonderful things concealed
from his spiritual eye in the absence of spiritual light. He knew some of the things
contained in the Scriptures doubtless. His eyes had been opened perhaps, and more
than once. Indeed, no spiritual man can read the 119 Psalm with any good degree of
attention, and not feel that he who wrote it had drank, and that deeply, into the
spirit of God's holy law. Every verse almost, any every verse but two, expresses
in some way his love for God's law, the importance of God's law, or the glory of
God's law. And the knowledge he already had gained had ravished his heart and made
him cry out more earnestly to have his eyes fully opened, that he might be able to
see clearly the glories of the Scriptures. The Psalmist had without doubt been enabled
to get in some degree, behind the veil of types and shadows of the Old Testament,
he had taken a peep beneath the drapery, and had seen Christ revealed and the wonderful
things of salvation; he had looked through and beyond the outward types and shadows
and the sight had so enraptured his soul, that he prayed with agonizing earnestness
and importunity--"Open mine eyes. O Lord open Thou mine eyes that I may behold
wondrous things out of Thy law." The wonders are in the Bible if we could only
see them. We might be walking in the midst of the splendors of nature, and see nothing
if there were not light. What are the glories of vision to a blind man? He may encircle
the globe, go over its mountains and through its valleys, cross its oceans and its
continents, pass among all it beauties and its luxuriance, and yet see nothing. Without
eyes they are nothing; or with eyes if there be no light, all is midnight darkness.
It is so as to spiritual things. Read the Bible, pass through its paragraphs, go
over its pages, and you may after all see nothing of its beauties--like a man traversing
a country in a stage-coach at midnight, he can get nothing of its scenery, how picturesque
so ever it may be. When men with eyes not opened in the sense of the text read the
Bible, they do not see its beauties, do not behold the wondrous things which are
nevertheless contained therein, and they should with all earnestness make the prayer
of the Psalmist. He prayed because he felt there were things in the law of God which
he had never seen.
- 4. It is implied that we need to know the wonderful things which are spoken of.
It is not to be supposed that the Psalmist wished to gratify a vain curiosity. Did
he utter this inspired prayer, I ask you, merely from idle curiosity? No. He needed
to know, and he felt it; he perishingly needed knowledge, and he cried in view thereof,
and not for his own benefit alone, but that he might teach others also, that he might
declare the praises of God in the great congregation.
- 5. It is implied that none but God can open our eyes. The Psalmist knew that
a mere knowledge of language, of grammar and philology could avail him nothing. He
understood the language of the Scriptures well enough. He did not pray to be taught
the language of the Bible, to have the ability to decipher all the philology thereof--he
would not pour contempt upon these, but value them in their place. But after all,
with all his knowledge of the language, he felt that not any man, not even the wisest,
not an angel, could give him the light. No, none but God, none but God by the Spirit
which indicted the sacred pages could open his eyes, and hence his prayer to God--"Open
Thou mine eyes." It should never be forgotten that the Bible is a mere dead
letter except to those to whom the Spirit makes it a personal revelation. Do you
understand me? What did the Psalmist pray for? To read the Bible? He could read it.
To understand the words? He could define them. To become acquainted with the literature
of the Bible? No, he knew all these things well enough. What then? That God would
make the Bible a special and personal revelation to him. Not through Moses and the
prophets, not by having the Scriptures in his hands, but to him, for himself--not
by giving light to others, but directly to him--by opening his eyes. Lord "open
Thou mine eyes." People are mistaken who think that the Bible is a revelation
to them in any such sense as to save their souls, except their eyes are opened by
the Holy Ghost. The Psalmist himself could not see without this, and he prayed God
to supply to him that light, by the aid of which he might apprehend the truths of
God's word. He sees the words--he reads the sentences--but what is the meaning? What
are the things said? Open my eyes that I may see them. His prayer was to God for
he felt that none but God could supply his need. But I hasten to notice,
IV. The consequences of having our eyes opened in the sense of the text.
- 1. Ourselves will be revealed. We shall see our own portrait drawn in a manner
that will convince us instantly that the pencil of the Omniscient has done the work.
It will be as if you had been sitting in the blaze of the Omniscient eye. The clearness
and exactness will be startling. You will seem never to have seen yourself before,
you will be astonished at the fearful fidelity with which every feature will be sketched.
Sinner, let your eyes be opened, and you will have another view of yourself altogether.
Though it never entered into your heart to sit for your portrait, yet there is drawn
every lineament, there you are, your face blazing right out, staring upon you, every
feature and lineament blazing from the page of inspiration. Look where you will,
there you are--a vile sinner, and you will wish to flee and get away from the horrible
picture of your own face.
- 2. God will be revealed. God and yourself--and this in proportion to the degree
of light. If the light be obscure, you will see indistinctly--"men as trees
walking"--like moon-light or star-light. In the star-light you can see the fences,
the trees, and the houses; in moonlight you can distinguish more; but yet things
are not clear. As the sun approaches, as it puts out the stars and makes the moon
dim, as it rises more and more till it appears in perfect day, your view grown fuller
and clearer till the whole landscape is bathed in a flood of light. God is revealed--Father,
Son, and Holy Ghost--but especially the Son, Christ, is revealed. You will find Christ
in places without number, in passages where before you never dreamed Christ was to
be found. The more I read my Bible and pray the prayer of our text the more am I
convinced of the spirituality of those who find Christ revealed every where in the
Bible. Once I thought differently. I remember a few years ago reading Edward's Notes
on the Bible, and that I thought him visionary because he found Christ hinted at
so often. He saw Christ every where. I saw no such thing. So some writers will find
clear proofs of the divinity of Christ, where others can see no reference thereto
at all. Now the difficulty with me was, I lacked spiritual light, so that I was unable
to see what was really revealed in the Bible. The Jews, the great body of them, could
not see Christ in the Jewish law, they did not see the drift and bent of the Scriptures.
Why not? They were carnal, sensual, they had not the Spirit. Where persons' eyes
are thus opened, they will have revelations of Christ such as to surprise them exceedingly;
such a fullness and glory as will astonish them greatly. O what love! And in proportion
to the clearness of the light of the Spirit, you will see that the design of the
Bible every where, is to reveal Christ directly or indirectly. Christ is the subject,
and the end--in history, in prophecy, in poetry, the Old Testament and the New--every
where, Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the sum and the substance, the beginning
and the end. Let your eyes be opened, and Christ is every where--our righteousness,
our wisdom, our sanctification, and our redemption.
- 3. We shall differ very much in our views from all those whose eyes have not
been opened. Impenitent young men, you sympathize with each other, you are alike
self-wise and vain, you meet and scoff at religion and religious men, you agree in
your notion that all piety is superstition and beneath your notice. But let the Spirit
open the eyes of one of your number, and how changed his tone. How he will differ
from those with whom he so perfectly agreed but just now in his views of himself
and of them, of his works and their works, of his relations to God and of theirs.
He can no longer sympathize with them, and join their wicked scoffings--he sees with
a strong light, and is astonished at their darkness and his former darkness--he shuns
them as the gate of hell. Why? His eyes are opened to behold eternity, and the judgment,
and his sins. He sees himself, and them, standing upon the slippery steep, and fiery
billows rolling beneath, and he cries out, and flees in terror. All this may be true
while he is impenitent. But suppose he is converted; then he differs from them still
more. He goes farther and farther and farther from them, and as he progresses in
grace, and the light of the Spirit's illumination beams stronger and brighter upon
his soul, he presses on to the perfect day, while they remain where they were or
plunge into deeper darkness.
This difference in views is true moreover of the different stages of Christian
experience. As a man's eyes are opened more and more, he differs more and more from
those who are below him; he sees things which they cannot see, and has a clear view
of what they see but dimly. His view differs from theirs, as a view in the bright
noon-day differs from one at evening twilight. Their experience will differ from
his, as the description of a village, or a mountain, or a landscape, seen in the
evening, would differ from a description of them as seen under broad day-light. Just
as far as we get our eyes open we view the Scriptures differently, as naturally as
cause produces its effect. As our light increases, our views must enlarge and expand
of course. We must see more and better surely, when we stand with the great sun pouring
upon our heads his flood of light, than when in the dim star-light we cast our eyes
And here let me remark--it is unspeakable folly to stereotype religious opinions,
as if men were of course to agree in all their views. A young convert just born into
the kingdom, wishes to be admitted into the fold of the Good Shepherd. Well, the
whole system of religious doctrine is read over. Do you subscribe to this? the whole
of this? And then not a step farther may they go, at the peril of heresy. How strange
it is that men should imagine that here can be such a thing as for Christians to
be just alike in their views of religious truth. They may be alike as far as they
go. They may each be correct, while one may be far in advance of his fellow. And
as a new truth comes to view, it always sheds its light over all the rest, and modifies
the form in which they appear. And while the Spirit continues to throw its light
upon the sacred pages, we may expect to modify and enlarge, and in some degree change
our view of truth. How absurd to nail down our system and say--There, never change
more. I have heard persons reckon it a virtue that they had never changed their views
of truth. But I ask, have such persons prayed the prayer of the Psalmist? Have their
eyes been opened?
- 4. The Bible will become to us a new book. Converts say so, and with truth; but
it is not true with them alone. Old men, men who have long known God, are made by
their experience to say the same thing. A few years since I was laboring in a revival
with an elderly minister, a man sixty years old. I shall never forget how that man
would say to me time after time, with deep emotion--"I have a new Bible. How
striking the promises are. It seems to me as though I had never read them before.
So rich they are, so full, so precious!" Ah, yes! Nor is this a singular nor
an uncommon case. In many, very many instances have persons who have long been Christians,
thus found their Bible a new book, and growing fresh and new as it were every day.
It has become so precious, so glorious, so sweet, they could, so to speak, devour
it, as the hungry soul devours its needful food. In my own case, let me say, beloved,
within the last year the Lord has given to me such views of the Bible, that I have
found it difficult to realize that I had ever known before any thing thereof at all.
Many a time have I cried out, as the light poured upon the truth--"Lord, I never
knew this before,"--and I could scarcely for the time believe that I had ever
seen the thing at all. I do not mean I had not, for I know I had before seen great
beauties in the Bible, but the light was so great that the spots that before seemed
bright, were now hidden in the added splendor, as stars are lost in the light of
dawn. Whole trains of passages would crowd through my mind with such glory and freshness--passages
which I had preached from again and again, would come in review under a light so
new and striking, and with a meaning so full, that it would seem as though I had
never known anything of them before, and the thoughts would crowd, and roll, and
swell like an infinite tide, till it would appear as if I could preach and preach,
and never be done preaching from almost any one of them.
- 5. Persons will be astonished at their former ignorance of the Bible when God
opens their eyes. They will see so much that is new where they thought they knew
all before, that they will be forced to exclaim in amazement--how could I have passed
these things and not see them. I have read the passages a hundred times, why have
I not seen these things before? As if a person should pass through a village in the
dark, not knowing it was night, but supposing it was day, and then should go through
the same village in actual broad day, and see the houses, and streets, and gardens,
and wonder (as he would) why he did not see the village before. Without spiritual
light, persons fail to see almost every spiritual truth in the Bible. They are like
persons in the dark, while yet they say "We see;" and when God does indeed
open their eyes, and they really see, they are astonished above measure that they
had never seen before.
- 6. Those whose eyes are opened will see a great multitude of things in the Bible
which others do not see, and which they will not believe are there, even though you
tell them of their existence therein. Read the Bible under the illumination of the
Spirit, and you will see myriads of things, which if you tell to others, they will
smile at you for a crazy man; they will declare no such things are there, and suspect
you to be a little beside yourself. Well let them alone. Let them have their say.
They cannot see what you have seen, till they stand in the like strong and clear
light. Let two persons pass through a place one in the night, and one in the day,
and let the one who passed in the dark think that it was day, and that he saw all
that was to be seen. Can he convince him? Wait till he goes through in the day-time,
and then talk with him.
And here let me remark, as I said a little ago of the doctrine of Christ's divinity,
so it is of the doctrine of Entire Sanctification. Once I could not see that doctrine
in the Bible, and now I wonder much why I did not, for now I see it every where,
almost. It is true with me as a good sister said of herself--when I first heard of
the doctrine of Entire Sanctification, I thought it was no where in the Bible, but
now I see that it is everywhere. I can adopt that language myself. It is not strange
however, that persons whose eyes are not opened cannot see that doctrine in the Bible.
The Bible, much of it, is so written, and perhaps from the necessity of the case,
that the soul must be in a certain state, in order to see at all what was in the
mind of the Spirit. "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost,"
says Paul. That is, no man can see Christ as He is--the Lord of our salvation--but
by the light of the Holy Spirit spread upon the sacred page. It is curious to see
how many notions and conceits men will have of the meaning of the Bible, or how dull
of apprehension they will be, and then how clear it will seem when the Lord has opened
their eyes. Before, nothing could convince them, now they need nothing to convince
them. If a man should pass this meeting-house, supposing he could see when he could
not, you could not convince him of its presence; but let his sight be restored or
the light shine upon his eyes, and there needs no more--there it stands before his
own eyes. The doctrines of Atonement, of Christ's Divinity, of Sanctification--when
the light from heaven bursts upon the page, you need no voice to tell you; all silent,
you gaze upon the revealed wonders, as when from the deepest midnight the sun breaks
from the darkness and the whole landscape lies before you in an ocean of glories.
Now Christian friends, I mean what I say; there is a spiritual illumination, a supplying
the spiritual eyes with light, in which light the mind sees with a power of demonstration,
like that which attends natural vision, the spiritual truths revealed in the Bible.
Before this light is supplied, the mind may doubt, and reason, and cavil, and deny;
but O, when the sun rises and pours forth its glorious blaze, then everything is
revealed, every cavil is hushed, every doubt forgotten, and the soul gazes in silent
rapture on the wondrous scene.
- 7. Our views will become a wonder to others, and just in proportion as our eyes
are opened. Our views will be reckoned peculiar. Yes indeed, peculiar light will
produce peculiar views of course. As far as the Spirit gives us light and we see
thereby, our views will be modified, and those who have not the same light, will
think them strange, and will wonder at us. How is it, they say, that they find such
and such things? We find nothing like that. The Jews think the Christian doctrine
blasphemous; they cannot find our Jesus in their Old Testament Messiah. We shall
surely be regarded as heretics by those who have not our light. If God gives us light,
if the revelations of His word be made to our souls, and especially if we proclaim
them to the world, who shall be thought heretics. Let any man push his prayer before
God, "Open Thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law,"
and let an answer be granted, and his eyes be really unsealed, and the presbytery
will begin to watch him, the whisper will begin to go around, "The brother has
a good spirit, but his views are dangerous"--they must have an eye to him, a
committee must be appointed, and they must confer with him to rid him of his strange
and peculiar views. What is the matter? Nothing, only the Spirit sheds light upon
his mind, and he has got a step or two beyond the stereotype form, that is all. He
understands the Bible better than before, has a richer insight into the richness
of its promises; the Spirit has anointed him for his work--that is all. And if he
ventures to say meekly to his fellow-servants, "Brethren, the Lord hath shown
me such things in His word," their counsel will be--our brother seems to have
a sweet, heavenly spirit, but his views are peculiar and dangerous, and they must
be pronounced heterodox, and he be silenced. This has always been so, and men who
are led in advance of their fellow Christians, must be content to be suspected of
- 8. Those who are enlightened, will be counted mystical. The most spiritual have
in all ages been reckoned mystical. There are real mystics to be sure; there are
extremes and delusions, and men think they see when they do not; but that does not
alter the fact that spiritual men are reckoned mystical by those who are in the dark.
Why? Because the former have spiritual eyes, they have spiritual light, and they
see and understand things that are entirely invisible, and a complete mystery to
- 9. Those who are enlightened will be considered deranged by those whose eyes
are not opened. Christ was thought to be mad. Festus said to Paul, "Thou art
beside thyself, much learning hath made thee mad," you have studied so hard,
have gone so deeply into philosophy and theology that you are deranged. Paul indeed
answered him most solemnly, "I am not mad most noble Festus, but speak forth
the words of truth and soberness." But now wherein lay the difference? Paul
had met Jesus by the way and had seen a light from heaven above the brightness of
the sun, shining round about him. The light of God had fallen upon him, and now people
thought him mad--Festus thought him mad. And why should it not be so? It will be
so. It will surely be so. When do we judge a man deranged? Suppose a man's eyes should
really be opened as Elisha's were, and those of the young man who was with him, and
he should behold the angel of God encamped about him, which is in fact true, or like
Stephen's, so that he could look into heaven and see the Son of Man standing at the
right hand of God, could behold the realities of the invisible world--would he not
be pronounced deranged? Yes indeed. "Put a strait jacket on him--do hear him"
they will cry, "he says he sees angels, and chariots, and horses all round him--he
sees heaven opened! Blasphemy--away with him--stone him to death!" Why? He tells
what he really sees. Let a man but speak out what he sees, and surely he must be
deranged. Now men do become deranged--surely they do; they do sometimes become visionary--most
certainly; but men's eyes may really be opened too, as Stephen's and Elisha's were,
and then others will imagine they are deranged. Those who think so may be honest
in their opinion too.
- 10. Such will almost certainly be persecuted. Why was Paul persecuted? Because
his eyes had been opened to see the fullness of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his
Lord, and because he was constrained by his love to preach the cross. He had been
a persecutor and injurious; he had many friends; but Christ's love had ravished his
soul, and he would joyfully pour out his whole being for his Master. And what did
he say? Hear him. "As I came nigh to Damascus, suddenly there shone from heaven
a great light round about me, and I heard a voice saying unto me--Saul, Saul, why
persecutest thou Me?" and he went on and finished the story of his conversion.
They bore impatiently with this, but soon he began again--"while I prayed in
the temple I was in a trance, and saw [the Lord] saying unto me, make haste and get
thee out of Jerusalem," and they could bear it no longer. They gave him audience
till this word, and then lifted up their voices and said--"Away with such a
fellow from the earth, it is not fit that he should live." And "they cried
out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air." And why? Surely
Paul was beside himself, and a horrid blasphemer, and to kill him would be to do
God service. They persecuted him. Why? He could see and they were blind. And those
who are thus blind often will think that they ought to do many things contrary to
those who are spiritual, and whom they regard as dangerous fanatics. I am very far
from believing that all persecution arises from mere malicious wickedness. Many in
high places and in low, oppose and persecute because they are in the dark, and think
they see, and they persecute "in all good conscience." They may be, (as
indeed they are) wicked for being in the dark, but in the dark, they think their
spiritual brethren are mischievous, and must be put down and put out of the church;
and think to do God service when they use the exscinding knife. But are they innocent?
With all the light around them which God has proffered and now proffers, are they
innocent while they remain in the dark? I think not.
- 11. The illumination of the Spirit will make us cease from man. We shall cease
to expect any such instruction from human lips as shall suffice to qualify us to
be useful. Not that God may not use creatures to instruct us in a degree. He does
so. But we shall cease to rest in them, and we shall go to God feeling entirely sure
that from Him alone cometh our help--that He alone can supply the light by which
we are to see the things which lie hid in the Word of God.
- 12. In proportion to the light we enjoy, we shall find ourselves dwelling in
the spiritual instead of the natural world. Let a man see as with open vision, the
realities which we all believe to exist in the invisible world, let him apprehend
them as we now do the objects of this visible scene, and with which world think you
will he be most conversant? With God, heaven, Christ, and the eternal world, or this
gross and earthly clod on which we tread? As the mind is opened, it dwells in and
communes with the spiritual world, it loses sight of earthly objects--there is a
state of mind in which persons can feel the light shining broad and deep upon the
soul--God draws near--the soul withdraws from all the outward senses, and retires
into its inner sanctuary--God approaches and comes into the inner-most chamber of
the mind, and there is silence, far, far from all the world of sense and sight, the
soul communes with the eternal God, and if all the world were to throng around and
clamor for a hearing, still the soul, withdrawn far within, would heed them not,
but in bliss ecstatic drink draughts of ineffable joy from the presence of infinite
love, and God be all in all.
I remember well how once I read with astonishment the account of such men as Xavier,
where they would have such communion with God as utterly to drive from them all thoughts
of earth, and every object of sense. Xavier, you know, on a certain day, was to have
a visit from a prince--the viceroy. He went to his chamber, directing his servant
to call him at such a time. When the servant entered his room to call him at the
hour, there was his master kneeling on the floor, his eyes upturned, and his face
shining like that of an angel, wholly insensible to outward things--the servant dared
not disturb him. At the end of an hour he came again, still he was so--again, there
he knelt. The servant spoke, no answer--he spoke again, no reply--he shook him and
succeeded in awakening him from his trance--"Is the viceroy come?" inquired
he, "tell him I have a visit from the King of Kings today, and I cannot leave
it"--and he sank back into insensibility, and was shut up in the presence of
the Living God. Time was when I could not understand how Paul could be in such a
state of mind, that, speaking as an honest man, he could not tell, as he says, whether
in the body or out of the body. But now I can see how he could say so. The mind is
so absorbed with spiritual views, as to be insensible to natural objects entirely.
The senses are all swallowed up, laid aside. The senses you know are but the organs
which the mind uses; but she can do without them; she can retire from the touch,
the hearing, the sight, and in the deep sanctuary of the soul sit alone with God.
And this occurs when the light of the Spirit shines broadly and fully on the mind.
Speak to him he does not hear you--touch him, it does not arouse him--he is gone--gone
to the spiritual world; and when he returns and his soul comes back to earth, whether
I was in the body I could not tell.
You remember a case among ourselves some years ago. A beloved sister--the Spirit
came upon her, and she thought she was in heaven; her heart was there, and she thought
she was there; she forgot she was in the body, the glories of heaven were around
her, and she literally leaped for joy. I heard of a case, I think it was in the state
of New York. It was that of a deacon. He was sitting in the "deacon's seat,"
facing the congregation; as the minister was preaching, the Holy Ghost fell upon
the deacon. He rose up unwittingly, stretched out his hands upward, his face pale
and gazing as it were into heaven, and his countenance radiant as an angel's. The
assembly were amazed, the Spirit of God ran like fire through the whole congregation,
the arrows of conviction flew like lightening, and the whole body were convulsed
with emotion, and many were broken down before the Lord.
- 13. He whose eyes are opened, will be solemn, but it will be a cheerful solemnity.
It is related of Xavier, that his cheerfulness was so great, that those who were
not familiar with him thought him gay. David, in his joy, danced with all his might
before the ark, when he brought it up from the house of Obed-Edom. There will be
nothing like levity, but a deep and solemn cheerfulness, such a cheerfulness as we
may suppose God to possess--a broad, universal smile; the mind smiles in its deepest
being; to the very bottom of the heart, there is one deep, broad smile--as God looks
forth over His whole creation with a smiling face--the soul is cheerful, peaceful
as an ocean of peace.
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).
Next "Oberlin Evangelist"