What Saith the Scripture?


Phila delphia > REVIVAL LECTURES by Charles G. Finney (page 5 of 5)



Page 5

Charles G. Finney

A Voice from the Philadelphian Church Age

  Wisdom is Justified

by Charles Grandison Finney

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Table of Contents
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Several things to be considered in regard to the hopes of young converts - Several things respecting their making a profession of religion - The importance of having correct instruction given to young converts - What should not be taught - What things are necessary to be taught.

Other points on which young converts ought to be instructed - How young converts should be treated by the Church - Some of the evils resulting from defective instruction in the first stages of Christian experience.

What backsliding in heart is not - What it is - What are its evidences - What are its consequences - How to recover from such a state.

What grace is - What the injunction to "grow in grace" does not mean - What it does mean - Conditions of growth in grace - What is not proof of growth - What is proof - How to grow in grace.

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Feed My lambs. - John 2:15.

Those who read their Bibles will recollect the connection in which these words occur, and by whom they were spoken. They were addressed by the Lord Jesus Christ to Peter, after he had denied his Lord, and had subsequently professed repentance. Our Lord asked him this question, to remind him, in an affecting manner, at once of his sin and of the love of Christ: "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these?" - strongly implying a doubt whether he did love Him. Peter answers: "Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee." Then Christ said unto Him: "Feed My lambs"; and repeated the question, as if He would read his inmost soul: "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?" Peter was still firm, and promptly answered again: "Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee."

Jesus still asked him the question again, the third time, emphatically. He seemed to urge the point, as if He would search his inmost thoughts, to see whether Peter would ever deny Him again. Peter was touched; he was "grieved," it is said; he did not fly into a passion, nor did he boast, as formerly: "Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee"

(Matthew 26:35); but he was grieved; he was subdued; he spoke tenderly; he appealed to the Savior Himself, as if he would implore Him not to doubt his sincerity any longer: "Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee." Christ then gave him his final charge: "Feed My sheep" (v. 17).

By the terms "sheep" and "lambs" the Savior undoubtedly designated Christians, members of His Church; the lambs probably represent young converts, those that have but little experience and but little knowledge of religion, and therefore need to have special attention and pains taken with them, to guard them from harm, and to train them for future usefulness.

And when our Savior told Peter to feed His sheep, He doubtless referred to the important part which Peter was to perform in watching over the newly-formed Churches in different parts of the world, and in training the young converts, and leading them along to usefulness and happiness.

My last Lecture was on the subject of giving right instruction to anxious sinners; this naturally brings me to consider the manner in which young converts should be treated, and the instructions that should be given to them.

In speaking on this subject it is my design to state:

I. Several things that ought to be considered, in regard to the hopes of young converts.

II. Several things respecting their making a profession of religion, and joining the Church.

III. The importance of having correct instruction given to young converts.

IV. What should not be taught to young converts.

V. What particular things are specially necessary to be taught to young converts.


I do not like this term, "experienced religion," and I use it only because it is a phrase in common use. It is an absurdity in itself What is religion?

Obedience to God. Suppose you should hear a good citizen say he had experienced obedience to the Government of the country! You see that it is nonsense. Or suppose a child should talk about experiencing obedience to his father. If he knew what he was saying, he would say he had obeyed his father; just as the apostle Paul says to the Roman believers: "Ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you" (Romans. 6:17).

What I mean to say is that ordinarily it is best to let their hope or belief that they are converted spring up spontaneously in their own minds.

Sometimes it will happen that persons may be really converted, but, owing to some notions which they have been taught about religion, they do not realize it. Their views of what religion is, and its effect upon the mind, are so entirely wide of the truth that they do not think they have it.

I will give you an illustration on this point.

Some years since, I labored in a place where a revival was in progress, and there was in the place a young lady from Boston. She had been brought up a Unitarian. She was a person of considerable education, and was intelligent on many subjects; but on the subject of religion she was very ignorant. At length she was convicted of sin. She became awfully convinced of her horrible enmity against God. She had been so educated as to have a sense of propriety; but her enmity against God became so great, and broke out so frightfully, that it was horrible to hear her talk. She used to come to the anxious meetings, where we conversed with each person separately; and her feelings of opposition to God were such that she used to create disturbance. By the time I came within two or three seats of her, where she could hear what I said in a low voice to the others, she would begin to make remarks in reply, so that they could be heard. And she would say the most bitter things against God, against His providence, and His method of dealing with mankind, as if God were an infinite tyrant. I would try to hush her, and make her keep still, because she distracted the attention of others. Sometimes she would stop and command her temper for a time, and sometimes she would rise and go out. I have seldom seen a case where the enmity of the heart rose so high against God. One night, at the anxious meeting, after she had been very restless, as I went towards her, she began as usual to reply, but I hushed her, and told her I could not converse with her there. I invited her to see me the next morning, when I told her I would talk with her. She promised to come; but, said she: "God is unjust - He is infinitely unjust. Is He not almighty? Why, then, has He never shown me my enmity before? Why has He let me run on so long?

Why does He let my friends at Boston remain in this ignorance? They are the enemies of God as much as I am, and they are going to hell. Why does He not show them the truth in regard to their condition?" And in this temper she left the room.

The next morning she came to see me, as she had promised. I saw, as soon as she came in, that her countenance was changed, but I said nothing about it. "Oh," said she, "I have changed my mind, as to what I said last night about God; I do not think He has done me any wrong, and I think I shall 'get religion' some time, for now I love to think about God. I have been all wrong; the reason why I had never known my enmity before was that I would not. I used to read the Bible, but I always passed over the passages that would make me feel as if I were a lost sinner; and those passages that spoke of Jesus Christ as God I passed over without consideration; but now I see that it was my fault, not God's fault, that I did not know any more about myself; I have changed my mind now." She had no idea that this was religion, but she was encouraged now to expect religion at some future time, because she loved God so much. I said nothing to make her imagine that I thought her a Christian, but left her to find it out. And, for a time, her mind was so entirely occupied with thinking about God that she never seemed to ask whether she "had religion" or not.

It is a great evil, ordinarily, to encourage persons to hope they are Christians. Very likely you may judge prematurely. Or if not, it is better, in any case, that they should find it out for themselves - that is, supposing they do not see it at once.
Sometimes persons express a hope in Christ, and afterwards remember some sin that needs to be confessed to men; or some case where they have slandered, or defrauded, where it is necessary to make satisfaction, and where either their character, or their purse, is so deeply implicated that they hesitate, and refuse to perform their duty. This grieves the Spirit, brings darkness over their minds, and justly leads them to doubt whether they are truly converted. If a soul is truly converted, it will generally be found that, where there are doubts, there is on some point a neglect of duty. They should be searched as with a lighted candle, and brought up to the performance of duty, and not suffered to hope until they do it.

Ordinarily, it is proper just there to throw in some plain and searching truth, that will go through them, something that will wither their false hopes. Do it while the Spirit of God is dealing with them, and do it in a right way, and there is no danger of its doing harm.

To illustrate this: I knew a person who was a member of the Church, but an abominable hypocrite - proved to be so by her conduct, and afterwards fully confessed to be so. In a revival of religion she was awakened and deeply convicted, and after a while she got a hope. She went to a minister to talk with him about her hope, and he poured the truth into her mind in such a manner as to annihilate all her hopes. She then remained under conviction many days, and at last she broke out in hope again. The minister knew her temperament, and knew what she needed, and he tore away her hope again. Then she broke down. So deeply did the Spirit of God PROBE her heart that, for a time, it took away all her bodily strength. Then she came out subdued. Before, she had been one of the proudest of rebels against God's government, but now she became humbled, and was one of the most modest, tender, and lovely of Christians. No doubt that was just the way to deal with her. It was just the treatment that her case required.

It is often useful to deal with individuals in this way. Some persons are naturally unamiable in their temper, and unlovely in their deportment. And it is particularly important that such persons should be dealt with most thoroughly whenever they first begin to express hope in Christ. Unless the work with them is, in the first place, uncommonly deep and thorough, they will be vastly less useful, and interesting, and happy, than they would have been had the probe been thoroughly and skillfully applied to their hearts. If they are encouraged at first, without being thoroughly dealt with; if they are left to go on as though all were well; if they are not sufficiently probed and broken down, these unlovely traits of character will remain unsubdued, and will be always breaking out, to the great injury both of their personal peace and their general influence and usefulness as Christians.

It is important to take advantage of such characters while they are just in these peculiar circumstances, so that they can be molded into proper form.

Do not spare, though it should be a child, or a brother, or a husband, or a wife. Let it be a thorough work. If they express a hope, and you find they bear the image of Christ, they are Christians. But if it should appear doubtful - if they do not appear to be fully changed, just tear away their hope, by searching them with discriminating truth, and leave the Spirit to do the work more deeply. If still the image is not perfect, do it again - break them down into a childlike spirit, and then let them hope. They will then be clear and thorough Christians. By such a mode of treatment I have often known people of the crookedest and most hateful natural character so transformed, in the course of a few days, that they appeared like different beings. You would think the work of a whole life of Christian cultivation had been done at once. Doubtless this was the intent of our Savior's dealing with Peter. He had been converted, but became puffed up with spiritual pride and self confidence, and then he fell. After that, Christ broke him down again by three times searching him with the inquiry: "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?" After which he seems to have been a stable and devoted saint the rest of his days.
Who would have such a wife? "Man, do you love your wife, do you love your family?" "Ah, you know we are poor creatures, we do not know our own hearts. I think I do love them, but perhaps I am deceived."


Ordinarily, the very idea of a person expressing doubts renders his piety truly doubtful. A real Christian has no need to doubt; and when one is full of doubts, ordinarily you ought to doubt for him and help him doubt.

Affection to God is as much a matter of consciousness as any other affection. A woman knows she loves her child. How? By consciousness.

She is conscious of the exercise of this affection. And she sees it carried into action every day. In the same way a Christian may know that he loves God; by his consciousness of this affection, and by seeing that it influences his daily conduct.

In the case of young converts, truly such, these doubts generally arise from their having been wrongly dealt with, and not sufficiently taught, or not thoroughly humbled. In any case they should never be left in such a state, but should be brought to such a thorough change that they will doubt no longer.

It is inconsistent with usefulness for a Christian to be always entertaining doubts; it not only makes him gloomy, but it makes his religion a stumbling block to sinners. What do sinners think of such a religion? They say: "These converts are afraid to think they have got anything real; they are always doubting whether it is a reality, and they ought to know whether there is anything in it or not. If it is anything, these people seem to have it, but I am inclined to think it rather doubtful. At any rate, I will let it pass for the present; I do not believe God will condemn me for not attending to that which appears so uncertain." No, a settled hope in Christ is indispensable to usefulness; and therefore you should deal so with young converts, as to lead them to a consistent, well-grounded, stable hope. Ordinarily, this may be done, if pursued wisely, at the proper time, and that is at the commencement of their religious life. They should not be left till it is done.

I know there are exceptions; there are cases where the best instructions will be ineffectual; but these depend on the state of the health, and the condition of the nervous system. Sometimes you find a person incapable of reasoning on a certain topic, and so his errors will not yield to instruction. But most commonly they mistake the state of their own hearts, because they judge under the influence of a physical disease.

Sometimes persons under a nervous depression will go almost into despair. Persons who are acquainted with physiology would easily explain the matter. The only way to deal with such cases is first to recruit their health, and get their nervous system into a proper tone, and thus remove the physical cause of their gloom and depression; then they will be able to receive and apply your instructions. But if you cannot remove their gloom and doubts and fears in this way, you can at least avoid doing the positive harm that is wrought by giving wrong instructions.

I have known even experienced Christians to have fastened upon them the error of thinking it was necessary, or was virtuous, or a mark of humility, to be always in doubt; and Satan would take advantage of it, and of the state of their health, and drive them almost to despair. You ought to guard against this, by avoiding the error when teaching young converts. Teach them that instead of there being any virtue in doubting, it is a sin to have any reason to doubt, and a sin if they doubt without any reason, and a sin to be gloomy and to disgust sinners with their despondency. And if you teach them thoroughly what religion is, and make them SEE CLEARLY what God wishes to have them do, and lead them to do it promptly and decidedly, ordinarily they will not be harassed with doubts and fears, but will be clear, openhearted, cheerful, and growing Christians - an honor to the religion they profess, and a blessing to the Church and the world.


I proceed to mention some things worthy of consideration in regard to young converts making a profession of religion, or joining the Church.

If there is no particular reason for delay, ordinarily the Church ought to receive them when they apply. If they are sufficiently instructed on the subject of religion to know what they are doing, and if their general character is such that they can be trusted as to their sincerity and honesty in making a profession, I see no reason why they should be delayed. But if there are sufficient reasons, in the view of the Church, for making them wait a reasonable time, let the Church so decide, on its responsibility to Jesus Christ. It should be remembered, however, what is the responsibility which the Church thereby assumes, and that if those are kept out of the Church who ought to be in it, the Holy Spirit is grieved.

It is impossible to lay down particular rules on this subject, applicable to all cases. There is so great a variety of reasons which may warrant keeping persons back, that no general rules can reach them all. Our practice, in this Church, is to propound persons for a month after they make application, before they are received into full communion. The reason of this is, that the Session may have opportunity to inquire respecting individuals who offer themselves, as so many of them are strangers. But in the country, where there are regular congregations, and all the people have been instructed from their youth in the doctrines of religion, and where everybody is perfectly known, the case is different, and ordinarily I see no reason why persons of good character should not be admitted immediately. If a person has not been a drunkard, or otherwise of bad character, let him be admitted at once, as soon as he can give a rational and satisfactory account of the hope that is in him.

That is evidently the way the apostles did. There is not the least evidence in the New Testament that they ever put off a person who wanted to be baptized and to join the Church. I know this does not satisfy some people, because they think the case is different. But I do not see it so.

They say the apostles were inspired. That is true; but it does not follow that they were so inspired to read the characters of men, as to be prevented from making mistakes in this matter. On the other hand, we know they were not inspired in this way, for we know they did make mistakes, just as ministers may do now; and, therefore, it is not true that their being inspired men alters the case on this point. Simon Magus was supposed to be a Christian, and was baptized and admitted into communion, remaining in good standing until he undertook to purchase the Holy Ghost with money.

The apostles used to admit converts from heathenism immediately, and without delay. If they could receive persons who, perhaps, never heard more than one Gospel sermon, and who never had a Bible, nor ever attended a Sabbath School or Bible Class in their lives, surely it is not necessary to create an outcry and alarm, if a Church should think proper to receive persons of good character, who have had the Bible all their lives, and have been trained in the Sabbath School, and have sat under the preaching of the Gospel, and who, therefore, may be supposed to understand what they are about, and not to profess what they do not feel.

I know it may be said that persons who make a profession of religion now, are not obliged to make such sacrifices for their religion as the early believers were, and, consequently, people may be more ready to play the hypocrite. And, to some extent, that is true. But then, on the other hand, it should be remembered that, with the instructions which they have on the subject of religion, they are not so easily led to deceive themselves, as those who were converted without the precious advantages of a religious education. They may be strongly tempted to deceive others, but I insist that, with the instructions which they have received, the converts of these great revivals are not half so liable to deceive themselves, and take up with a false hope, as were those in the days of the apostles. And on this ground I believe that those Churches that are faithful in dealing with young converts, and that exhibit habitually the power of religion, are not likely to receive so many unconverted persons as the apostles did.

It is important that the Churches should act wisely on this point. Great evil has been done by this practice of keeping persons out of the Church a long time in order to see if they were Christians. This is almost as absurd as it would be to throw a young child out into the street, to see whether it will live; to say: "If it lives, and promises to be a healthy child, we will take care of it," when that is the very time it wants nursing and taking care of, the moment when the scale is turning whether it shall live or die. Is that the way to deal with young converts? Should the Church throw her new-born children out to the winds, and say: "If they live there, let them be taken care of; but if they die there, then they ought to die"? I have not a doubt that thousands of converts, in consequence of this treatment, have gone through life without joining any Church, but have lingered along, full of doubts and fears, and darkness, and in this way have spent their days, and gone to the grave without the comforts and usefulness which they might have enjoyed, simply because the Church, in her folly, has suffered them to wait outside the pale, to see whether they would grow and thrive, without those ordinances which Jesus Christ established particularly for their benefit.

Jesus Christ says to His Church: "Here, take these lambs, and feed them, and shelter them, and watch over them, and protect them": and what does the Church do? Why, turn them out alone upon the cold mountains, among the wild beasts, to starve or perish, to see whether they are alive or not!

The whole system is as unphilosophical as it is unscriptural. Did Jesus Christ tell His Churches to do so? Did the God of Abraham teach any such doctrine as this, in regard to the children of Abraham? Never. He never taught us to treat young converts in such a barbarous manner. The very way to lead them into doubts and darkness, is to keep them away from the Church, from its fellowship, and its ordinances.

I have understood there is a Church which has passed a resolution that no young converts shall be admitted till they have "had a hope" for at least six months. Where did they get any such rule? Not from the Bible, nor from the example of the early Churches.
You will always find, if you put your questions rightly, that real converts will see clearly those great fundamental points - the Divine authority of the Scriptures, the necessity of the influences of the Holy Spirit, the Deity of Christ, the doctrines of total depravity and regeneration, the necessity of the atonement, justification by faith, and the justice of the eternal punishment of the wicked. By a proper course of inquiries you will find all these points come out, if you put your questions in such a way that they are understood.

A Church Session in this city has, as we are informed, passed a vote, that no person shall join that Church till he will give his assent to the whole Presbyterian Confession of Faith, and adopt it as his "rule of faith and practice and Christian obedience." That is, they must read the book through, which is about three times as large as this hymn-book which I hold, and must understand it, and agree to it all, before they can be admitted to the Church, before they can make a profession of religion, or obey the command of Christ. By what authority does a Church say that no one shall join their communion till he understands all the points and technicalities of this long Confession of Faith? Is that their charity, to cram this whole Confession of Faith down the throat of a young convert, before they let him so much as come to the Communion? He says: "I love the Lord Jesus Christ, and wish to obey His command." "Very well, but do you understand and adopt the Confession of Faith?" He says: "I do not know, for I never read that, but I have read the Bible, and I love that, and wish to follow the directions in it, and to come to the table of the Lord."

"Do you love the Confession of Faith? If not, you SHALL NOT COME,"

is the reply of this charitable Session; "you shall not sit down at the Lord's table till you have adopted all this Confession of Faith." Did Jesus Christ ever authorize a Church Session to say this - to tell that child of God, who stands there with tears, and asks permission to obey his Lord, and who understands the grounds of his faith, and can give a satisfactory reason of his hope - to tell him he cannot join the Church till he understands the Confession of Faith? Shut the door against young converts till they swallow the Confession of Faith! Will such a Church prosper? Never!

No Church on earth has a right to impose its extended Confession of Faith on a young convert who admits the fundamentals of religion. They may let the young convert know their own faith on ever so many points, and they may examine him, if they think it necessary, as to his belief; but suppose he has doubts on some points not essential to Christian experience, - the doctrine of Infant Baptism, or of Election, or the Perseverance of the Saints; and suppose he honestly and frankly tells you he has not made up his mind concerning these points? Has any minister or Church a right to say, he shall not come to the Lord's table till he has finished all his researches into these subjects, that he shall not obey Christ till he has fully made up his mind on such points, on which Christians, and devoted ones too, differ among themselves? I would sooner cut off my right hand than debar a convert under such circumstances. I would teach a young convert as well as I could in the time before he made his application, and I would examine him candidly as to his views, and after he was in the Church I would endeavor to make him grow in knowledge as he grows in grace. And by just as much confidence as I have that my own doctrines are the doctrines of God, I should expect to make him adopt them, if I could have a fair hearing before his mind. But I never would bid one whom I charitably believed to be a child of God, to stay away from his Father's table, because he did not see all I see, or believe all I believe, through the whole system of divinity. The thing is utterly irrational, ridiculous, and wicked.
This is always suspicious. I should look out for such characters. It is almost certain they have no religion. Ordinarily, if a person does not desire to be associated with the people of God, he is rotten at the foundation. It is because he wants to keep out of the responsibilities of a public profession. He has a feeling within him that he had rather be free, so that he can, by and by, go back to the world again, if he likes, without the reproach of instability or hypocrisy. Enjoy religion just as well without obeying Jesus Christ! It is false on the face of it. He overlooks the fact that religion consists in obeying Jesus Christ.


Ordinarily, the Christian character of converts throughout life is molded and fashioned according to the manner in which they are dealt with when first converted. There are many who have been poorly taught at first, but have been afterwards re-converted, and if they are then properly dealt with, they may be made something of. But the proper time to do this is when they are first brought in, when their minds are soft and tender, and easily yield to the truth. Then they may be led with a hair, if they think it is the truth of God. And whatever notions in religion they then get, they are apt to cleave to forever afterwards. It is almost impossible to get a man away from the notions he acquires when he is a young convert. You may reason him down, but he cleaves to them. How often is it the case where persons have been taught certain things when first converted, that if they afterwards get a new minister who teaches somewhat differently, they will rise up against him as if he were going to subvert the faith, carry away the Church into error, and throw everything into confusion. Thus you see that young converts are thrown into the hands of the Church, and it devolves upon the Church to mold them, and form them into Christians of the right stamp. To a large extent, their future comfort and usefulness depend on the manner in which they are instructed at the outset. The future character of the Church, the progress of revivals, the coming of the millennium, depend on right instruction being imparted, and a right direction of thought and life given, to those who are young converts.


I have heard it preached as well as expressed in prayer, that seasons of backsliding are "necessary to test the Church." They say: "When it rains, you can find water anywhere: it is only in seasons of drought that you can tell where the deep springs are." Wonderful logic! And so you would teach that Christians must get cold and stupid, and backslide from God - and for what reason? Why, forsooth, to show that they are not hypocrites.

Amazing! You would prove that they are hypocrites in order to show that they are not.

Such doctrine as this is the very last that should be taught to young converts. They should be told that they have only begun the Christian life, and that their religion is to consist in going on in it. They should be taught to go forward all the time, and "grow in grace" continually. Do not teach them to taper off their religion - to let it grow smaller and smaller till it comes to a point. God says: "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18). Now, whose path is that which grows dimmer and dimmer into the perfect night? They should be brought to such a state of mind that the first indications of decay in spirituality or zeal will alarm them and spur them up to duty. There is no need that young converts should backslide as they do. Paul did not backslide. And I do not doubt that this very doctrine: "You will not always feel so," is one of the grand devices of Satan to bring about the result which it predicts.
When they are so full of the enjoyments of heaven, do you suppose they see heaven, and so walk by sight? It is absurd on the face of it. It is not faith, it is presumption, that makes the backslider hold on to the doctrine of Perseverance, as if that would save him, without any sensible exercises of godliness in his soul. Those who attempt to walk by faith in this way had better take care, or they will walk into hell with their "faith." Faith indeed! "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:20). Can dead faith make the soul live?
That is, in plain English: "Do not do anything that constitutes religion, till you see whether you have religion." Religion consists in obeying God.

Now, these wise teachers tell a young convert: "Do not obey God till you see" - what? - till you see whether you have obeyed Him - or, till you see whether you have obtained that substance, that mysterious thing which they imagine is created and put into man, like a lump of new flesh, and called "religion." This waiting system is all wrong. There is no Scripture warrant for telling a person to wait, when the command of God is upon him, and the path of duty is before him. Let him go ahead.

Young converts should be fully taught that this is the only consistent way to find out whether they have any religion, to find that they are heartily engaged in doing the will of God. To tell the convert to wait, therefore, before he does these things, till he first gets his evidence, is reversing the matter, and is absurd.


By emotion, I mean that state of mind of which we are conscious, and which we call feeling - an involuntary state of mind, that arises, of course, when we are in certain circumstances or under certain influences.

There may be high-wrought feelings, or they may subside into tranquillity, or disappear entirely. But these emotions should be carefully distinguished from religious principle. By principle, I do not mean any substance or root or seed or sprout implanted in the soul. But I mean the voluntary decision of the mind, the firm determination to fulfill duty and to obey the will of God, by which a Christian should always be governed.

When a man is fully determined to obey God, because it is RIGHT that he should obey God, I call that principle. Whether he feels any lively religious emotion at the time or not, he will do his duty cheerfully, readily, and heartily, whatever may be the state of his feelings. This is acting upon principle, and not from emotion. Many young converts hold mistaken views upon this subject, and depend almost entirely on the state of their feelings to go forward in duty. Some will not lead a prayer meeting, unless they feel as if they could make an eloquent prayer. Multitudes are influenced almost entirely by their emotions, and they give way to this, as if they thought themselves under no obligation to duty, unless urged on by some strong emotion. They will be very zealous in religion when they feel like it, when their emotions are warm and lively, but they will not act out religion consistently, and carry it into all the concerns of life. They are religious only as they are impelled by a gush of feeling. But this is not true religion.

Young converts should be carefully taught that when duty is before them they are to do it. However dull their feelings may be, if duty calls, DO IT.

Do not wait for feeling, but DO IT. Most likely the very emotions for which you would wait will be called into exercise when you begin to do your duty. If the duty be prayer, for instance, and you have not the feelings you would wish, do not wait for emotions before you pray, but pray, and "open thy mouth wide" (Psalm 81:10); and in doing it, you are most likely to have the emotions for which you were inclined to wait, and which constitute the conscious happiness of religion.
God is, in an infinitely higher sense, the Owner of all, than any employer can be said to be the owner of what he has. And the Church of Christ never will take high ground, never will be disentangled from the world, never will be able to go forward without these continual declensions and backslidings, until Christians, and the Churches generally, take the ground, and hold to it, that it is just as much a matter of discipline for a Church member practically to deny his stewardship as to deny the Deity of Christ; and that covetousness, fairly proved, shall just as soon exclude a man from the Communion as adultery.

The Church is mighty orthodox in notions, but very heretical in practice; but the time must come when the Church will be just as vigilant in guarding orthodoxy in practice as orthodoxy in doctrine, and just as prompt to turn out heretics in practice, as heretics that corrupt the doctrines of the Gospel. In fact, it is vastly more important. The only design of doctrine is to produce practice, and it does not seem to be understood by the Church that true faith "works by love and purifies the heart," that heresy in practice is proof conclusive of heresy in sentiment.

The Church is very sticklish for correct doctrine, but very careless about correct living. This is preposterous. Has it come to this, that the Church of Jesus Christ is to be satisfied with correct notions on some abstract points, and never reduce her orthodoxy to practice? Let it be so no longer.

It is high time these matters were set right. And the only way to set them right is to begin with those who are just entering upon religion. Young converts must be told that they are just as worthy of condemnation (and that the Church can hold no fellowship with them), if they show a covetous spirit, and turn a deaf ear when the whole world is calling for help, as if they were living in adultery, or in the daily worship of idols.
They have not even a natural conscience. They have dealt so rudely with their conscience, and resisted it so often, that it has got blunted, and does not act. The usefulness of a Christian greatly depends on his knowing how to cultivate his conscience. Young converts should be taught to keep their conscience just as tender as the apple of the eye. They should watch their conduct and their motives, and let their motives be so pure and their conduct so disinterested as not to offend, or injure, or stifle conscience.

They should maintain such a habit of listening to conscience, that it will always be ready to give forth a stern verdict on all occasions.

It is astonishing to see how much the conscience may be cultivated by a proper course. If rightly attended to, it may be made so pure, and so powerful, that it will always respond exactly to the Word of God. Present any duty to such a Christian, or any self-denial, or suffering, and only show him the Word of God, and he will do it without a word of objection.

In a few months, if properly taught, young converts may have a conscience so delicately poised that the weight of a feather will turn them.

Only bring a "Thus saith the Lord," and they will be always ready to do that, be it what it may.
Sometimes people will neglect to pray because they are in the dark, and feel no desire to pray. But that is the very time when they need prayer.

That is the very reason why they ought to pray. You should go right to God and confess your coldness and darkness of mind. Tell Him just how you feel. Tell Him: "O Lord, I have no desire to pray, but I know I ought to pray." And immediately the Spirit may come and lead your heart out in prayer, and all the dark clouds will pass away.
They should always look at Christ as their model. Not aim at being as good Christians as the old Church members, and not think they are doing pretty well because they are as much awake as the old members of the Church; but they should aim at being holy. The Church has been greatly injured for the want of attention to this matter. Young converts have come forward, and their hearts were warm, and their zeal ardent enough to aim at a high standard, but they were not directed properly, and so they soon settled down into the notion that what was good enough for others was good enough for them, and therefore they ceased to aim higher than those who were before them. And in this way the Church, instead of rising, with every revival, higher and higher in holiness, is kept nearly stationary.
They should understand that they are incorporated into the family of Jesus Christ, as members in full, so that their whole interest is identified with His. They are embarked with Him, they have gone on board, and taken their all; and henceforth they have nothing to do, nor anything to say, except as it is connected with this interest, and bearing on the cause and Kingdom of Christ.
There are a great many spiritual epicures in the Churches, who are all the while seeking to be happy in religion, white they are taking very little pains to be useful. They had much rather spend their time in singing joyful hymns, and pouring out their happy feelings in a gushing tide of exultation and triumph, than in an agonizing prayer for sinners, or in going about pulling dying men out of the fire. They seem to feel as if they were born to enjoy themselves. But I do not think such Christians show such fruits as to make their example one to be imitated. Such was not the temper of the apostles; they travailed for souls; they labored in weariness and painfulness, and were "in deaths oft," to save sinners (2 Corinthians 11:23). Ordinarily, Christians are not qualified to drink deep at the fountain of joy. In ordinary cases, a deep agony of prayer for souls is more profitable than high flights of joy. Let young converts be taught plainly not to calculate upon a life of joy and triumph. They may be called to go through fiery trials; Satan may sift them like wheat. But they must go forward, not calculating so much to be happy as to be useful; not talking about comfort but duty; not desiring flights of joy and triumph, but hungering and thirsting after righteousness; not studying how to create new flights of rapture, but how to know the will of God and do it. They will be happy enough in heaven. There they may sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. And they will in fact enjoy a more solid and rational happiness here, by thinking nothing about it, but patiently devoting themselves to do the will of God.
The boaster is generally a coward at heart. But I mean moral courage - a humble and fixed decision of purpose, that will go forward in any duty, unangered and unawed, with the meekness and firmness of the Son of God.
Knowledge is the food of the mind. "That the soul be without knowledge," says the wise man, "it is not good" (Proverbs 19:2). The mind cannot grow without knowledge any more than the body without food. And therefore it is important that young converts should be thoroughly indoctrinated, and made to understand the Bible. By "indoctrinating," I do not mean teaching them the catechism, but teaching them to draw knowledge from the fountain-head. Create in their minds such an appetite for knowledge that they will eat the Bible up - will devour it - will love it, and love it all. "All Scripture... is profitable,... that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
See that young woman. Formerly she loved the gay circle, and took delight in its pleasures; she joined the Church, and then found herself aloof from all her old associates. They do not ask her now to their balls and parties, because they know she will not join them; and perhaps they keep entirely away for a time, for fear she should converse with them about their souls.

But, by and by, they grow a little bold, and some of them venture to ask her just to take a ride with a few friends. She does not like to say "No."

They are her old friends, only a few of them are going, and surely a ride is so innocent a recreation that she may accept the invitation. But, now she has begun to comply, the ice is broken, and they have her again as one of them. It goes on, and she begins to attend their social visits - "only a few friends, you know," - till, by and by, the carpet is taken up for a dance; and the next thing, perhaps, she has gone for a sleigh ride on Saturday night, coming home after midnight, and then sleeping all the forenoon on the Sabbath to make up for it - perhaps Communion Sabbath, too. All for the want of learning to say "No."

See that young man. For a time he was always in his place in the Sabbath School and in the prayer meeting. But, by and by, his old friends begin to treat him with attention again, and they draw him along, step by step.

He reasons that if he refuses to go with them in things that are innocent, he will lose his influence with them. And so he goes on, till prayer meeting, Bible class, and even private Bible reading and prayer are neglected. Ah, young man, stop there! If you do not wish to expose the cause of Christ to scorn and contempt, learn to resist the beginnings of temptation.
It is necessary, both for their comfort and their usefulness, that they should understand this, so that they need not run themselves into needless distress for the want of that which is by no means essential to Christian experience, nor flatter themselves that they have more religion than they really exercise.
Some persons are always telling about the sacrifices they make in religion.

I have no confidence in such piety. Why keep telling about their sacrifices, as if everything they do for God is a sacrifice? If they loved God they would not talk so. If they considered their own interests and the interest of Christ identical, they would not talk of making sacrifices for Christ: it would be like talking of making sacrifices for themselves.
It is of great importance that young converts should understand what it is to be strictly honest in everything, so that they can maintain "a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men" (Acts 24:16). Alas, alas, how little conscience there is! How little of that real honesty, that pure, simple uprightness, which ought to mark the life of a child of God. How little do many regard even an express promise. I heard the other day that of a number of individuals who subscribed to the Anti-Slavery Society, not half will pay their subscriptions. The plea is, that they signed when they were under excitement, and do not choose to pay. Just as if their being excited released them from the obligation to keep their promise.

Why, it is just as dishonest as it would be to refuse payment of a note of hand. They promised, signed their names, and now will not pay? And they call that honesty!

I have heard that a number of men signed for hundreds of dollars for the Oneida Institute, promising to pay the money when called on; and when they were called on, they refused to pay the money. And the reason is that all in the Institute have turned Abolitionists! Very well. Suppose they have. Does that alter your promise? Did you sign on the condition that if abolitionism were introduced you should be clear? If you did, then you are clear. But if you gave your promise without any condition, it is just as dishonest to refuse as if you had given a note of hand. And yet some of you might be almost angry if anybody were to charge you with refusing to pay money that you had promised.

Look at this seriously. Who does God say will go to heaven? Read the fifteenth psalm, and see. "He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not." What do you think of that? If a man has promised anything, except it be to commit sin, let him keep his promise, if he means to be honest and to go to heaven. But these people will make promises, and because they cannot be prosecuted, will break them as if they were nothing. They would not let a cheque of theirs be returned from the bank. Why? Because they would lose credit, and would be sued. But the Oneida Institute, and the Anti-Slavery Society, and other societies, will not sue for the money, and therefore these people take offense at something, and refuse to pay. Is this honest? Will such honesty as this get them admitted to heaven? What?

Break your promises, and go up and carry a lie in your hand before God?

If you refuse or neglect to fulfill your promises, and go up and carry a lie in your hand before God? If you refuse or neglect to fulfill your promise you are a liar; and if you persist in this, you shall have your part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. I would not for ten thousand worlds die with money in my hands that I had unrighteously withheld from any object to which I had promised it. Such money will "eat as doth a canker" (2 Timothy 2:17).

If you are not able to pay the money, that is a good excuse. But then, say so. But if you refuse to pay what you have promised, because you have altered your mind, rely upon it, you are guilty. You cannot pray till you pay that money. Will you pray: "O Lord, I promised to give that money, but I altered my mind, and broke my promise; but still, O Lord, I pray Thee to bless me, and forgive my sin, although I keep my money, and make me happy in Thy love"? Will such prayers be heard? Never.

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Feed My lambs. - John 21.15.

I Propose to continue the subject by:

I. Noticing several other points upon which young converts ought to be instructed.

II. Showing the manner in which young converts should be treated by the Church.

III. Mentioning some of the evils which naturally result from defective instructions given in that stage of Christian experience.


It is important that young converts should be taught: Negatively, what religion does not consist in.

(a) Not in doctrinal knowledge. Knowledge is essential to religion, but it is not religion. The devil has doctrinal knowledge, but he has no religion. A man may have doctrinal knowledge to any extent, without a particle of religion. Yet some people have very strange ideas on this subject, as though an increase of doctrinal knowledge indicated an increase of piety. In a certain instance, where some young converts had made rapid progress in doctrinal knowledge, a person who saw it remarked: "How these young converts grow in grace!" Here he confounded improvement in knowledge with improvement in piety. The truth was, that he had no means of judging of their growth in grace, and it was no evidence of it because they were making progress in doctrinal knowledge.

(b) They should be taught that religion is not a substance. It is not any root, or sprout, or seed, or anything else, in the mind, as a part of the mind itself. Persons often speak of religion as if it were something which is covered up in the mind, just as a spark of fire may be covered up in the ashes, which does not show itself, and which produces no effects, but yet lives, and is ready to act as soon as it is uncovered. And in like manner they think they may have religion, as something remaining in them, although they do not manifest it by obeying God. But they should be taught that this is not of the nature of religion. It is not part of the mind itself, nor of the body; nor is it a root, or seed, or spark, that can exist, and yet be hid and produce no effects.

(c) Teach them that religion does not consist in raptures, or ecstasies, or high flights of feeling. There may be a great deal of these where there is religion. But it ought to be understood that they are all involuntary emotions, and may exist in full power where there is no religion. They may be the mere workings of the imagination, without any truly religious affection at all. Persons may have them to such a degree as actually to swoon away with ecstasy, even on the subject of religion, without having any religion. I have known a person almost carried away with rapture, by a mere view of the natural attributes of God, His power and wisdom, as displayed in the starry heavens, and yet the person had no religion.

Religion is obedience to God, the voluntary submission of the soul to His will.

(d) Neither does religion consist in going to services, or reading the Bible, or praying, or any other of what are commonly called religious duties. The very phrase, "religious duties," ought to be struck out of the vocabulary of young converts. They should be made to know that these acts are not religion. Many become very strict in performing certain things, which they call "religious duties," and suppose that is being religious; while they are careless about the ordinary duties of life, which, in fact, constitute A LIFE OF PIETY. Prayer may be an expression and an act of piety, or it may not be. Going to church or to a prayer meeting, may be considered either as a means, an act, or an expression of pious sentiment; but the performance of these does not constitute a man a Christian; and there may be great strictness and zeal in these, without a particle of religion. If young converts are not taught to discriminate, they may be led to think there is something peculiar in what are called religious duties, and to imagine they have a great deal of religion because they abound in certain actions that are commonly called "religious duties," although they may at the same time be very deficient in honesty, or faithfulness, or punctuality, or temperance, or any other of what they choose to call their common duties. They may be very punctilious in some things, may "pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin" (Matthew 23:23), and yet neglect "the weightier matters of the law"; justice and the love of God.

(e) Religion does not consist in desires to do good actions. Desires that do not result in choice and action are not virtuous. Nor are such desires necessarily vicious. They may arise involuntarily in the mind, in view of certain objects; but while they produce no voluntary act, they are no more virtuous or vicious than the beating of the pulse, except in cases where we have indirectly willed them into existence, by voluntarily putting ourselves under circumstances calculated to excite them. The wickedest man on earth may have strong desires after holiness. Did you ever think of that? He may see clearly that holiness is the only and indispensable means of happiness. And the moment he apprehends holiness as a means of happiness, he naturally desires it. It is to be feared that multitudes are deceiving themselves with the supposition that a desire for holiness, as a means of happiness, is religion. Many, doubtless, give themselves great credit for desires that never result in choosing right. They feel desires to do their duty, but do not choose to do it, because, upon the whole, they have still stronger desires not to do it. In such desires there is no virtue. An action or desire, to be virtuous in the sight of God, must be an act of the will. People often talk most absurdly on this subject, as though their desires had anything good, while they remain mere desires. "I think I desire to do so-and-so." But do you do it? "Oh, no, but I often feel a desire to do it." This is practical atheism.

Whatever desires a person may have, if they are not carried out into actual choice and action, they are not virtuous. And no degree of desire is itself virtuous. If this idea could be made prominent, and fully riveted in the minds of men, it would probably annihilate the hopes of half the members of the Churches, who are living on their good desires, while doing nothing for God.

(f) They should be made to understand that nothing which is selfish, is religion. Whatever desires they may have, and whatever choices and actions they may put forth, if, after all, the reason of them is selfish, there is no religion in them. A man may just as much commit sin in praying, or reading the Bible, or going to a religious service, as in anything else, if his motive is selfish. Suppose a man prays simply with a view to promote his own happiness. Is that religion? What is it but attempting to make God his Almighty Servant? It is nothing else but to attempt a great speculation, and to put the universe, God and all, under contribution to make him happy. It is the sublime degree of wickedness. It is so far from being piety that it is in fact superlative wickedness.

(g) Nothing is acceptable to God, as religion, unless it is performed heartily, to please God. No outward action has anything good, or anything that God approves, unless it is performed from right motives and from the heart. Young converts should be taught fully and positively that all religion consists in obeying God from the heart. All religion consists in voluntary action. All that is holy, all that is lovely, in the sight of God, all that is properly called religion, consists in voluntary action, in voluntarily obeying the will of God from the heart.
There is no religion in this kind of giving. A man might give a very large sum to a benevolent object, and there would be no religion in his doing so, if he could give the money as well as not; nor would there be any self-denial in it. Jesus Christ exercised self-denial to save sinners. So has God the Father exercised self-denial in giving His Son to die for us, and in sparing us, and in bearing with our perverseness. The Holy Ghost exercises self-denial, in condescending to strive with such unholy beings to bring them to God. The angels exercise self-denial, in watching over this world. The apostles planted the Christian religion among the nations by the exercise of self-denial. And are we to think of being religious without any self-denial? Are we to call ourselves Christians, the followers of Christ, the "temples of the Holy Ghost" (1 Corinthians 6:19), and to claim fellowship with the apostles, when we have never deprived ourselves of anything that would promote our personal enjoyment for the sake of promoting Christ's kingdom? Young converts should be made to see that unless they are willing to lay themselves out for God, and ready to sacrifice life and everything else for Christ, they "have not the Spirit of Christ, and are none of His" (Romans 8:9).
Multitudes would be as much at a loss to tell intelligibly what sanctification is, as they would be to tell what religion is. If the question were asked of every professor of religion in this city: "What is sanctification?" I doubt if one in ten would give a right answer. They would blunder just as they do when they undertake to tell what religion is, and speak of it as something dormant in the soul, something that is put in, and lies there, something that may be practiced or not, and still be in them.

So they speak of sanctification as if it were a sort of washing off of some defilement, or a purging out of some physical impurity. Or they will speak of it as if the faculties were steeped in sin, and sanctification is taking out the stains. This is the reason why some people will pray for sanctification, and practice sin, evidently supposing the sanctification is something that precedes obedience. They should be taught that sanctification is not something that precedes obedience, some change in the nature or the constitution of the soul. But sanctification is obedience, and as a progressive thing consists in obeying God more and more perfectly.
He is justly subject to the whole penalty. If he disobeys God habitually in one particular, he does not, in fact, obey Him in any particular. Obedience to God consists in the state of the heart. It is being willing to obey God; willing that God should rule in all things. But if a man habitually disobeys God, in any one particular, he is in a state of mind that renders obedience in anything else impossible. To say that in some things a man obeys God, out of respect to His authority, and that in some other things he refuses obedience, is absurd. The fact is, that obedience to God consists in an obedient state of heart, a preference of God's authority and commandments to everything else. If, therefore, an individual appears to obey in some things, and yet perseveringly and knowingly disobeys in any one thing, he is deceived. He offends in one point, and this proves that he is guilty of all; in other words, that he does not, from the heart, obey at all. A man may pray half of his time and have no religion; if he does not keep the commandments of God, his very prayer will be hateful to God. "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination" (Proverbs 28:9). Do you hear that? If a man refuses to obey God's law, if he refuses to comply with any one duty, he cannot pray, he has no religion, his very devotions are hateful.
Nothing but an enlightened conscience can carry forward a permanent reform. Ten years ago, most ministers used ardent spirit, and kept it in their houses to treat their friends and their ministering brethren with. And the great body of the members in the Churches did the same. Now, there are but few, of either, who are not actual drunkards, that will do so. But still there are many that indulge, without scruple, in the use of wine.

Chewing and smoking tobacco, too, are acts of intemperance. If they use these mere stimulants when there is no necessity for them, what is that but intemperance? That is not being "temperate in all things." Until Christians shall have a conscience on this subject, and be made to feel that they have no right to be intemperate in anything, they will make but little progress in religion. It is well known, or ought to be, that tea and coffee have no nutrients in them. They are mere stimulants. They go through the system without being digested. The milk and sugar you put in them are nourishing; and so they would be, just as much so, if you mixed them with rum, and made milk punch; but the tea and coffee afford no nourishment; and yet I dare say, that a majority of the families in this city give more in a year for their tea and coffee than they do to save the world from hell.

Probably this is true respecting entire Churches. Even agents of benevolent societies will dare to go through the Churches soliciting funds, for the support of missionary and other institutions, and yet use tea, coffee, and, in some cases, tobacco. Strange! No doubt many are giving five times as much for mere intemperance as they give for every effort to save the world.

If professing Christians could be made to realize how much they spend for what are mere poisons, and nothing else, they would be amazed. Many persons will strenuously maintain that they cannot get along without these stimulants, these poisons, and they cannot give them up, no, not to redeem the world from eternal damnation. And very often they will absolutely show anger, if argued with, just as soon as the argument begins to pinch their consciences. Oh, how long shall the Church show her hypocritical face at the missionary meeting, and pray God to save the world, while she is actually throwing away five times as much for sheer intemperance, as she will give to save the world! Some of you may think these are little things, and that it is quite beneath the dignity of the pulpit to lecture against tea and coffee. But I tell you it is a great mistake of yours if you think these are little things, when they make the Church odious in the sight of God, by exposing her hypocrisy and lust. Here is an individual who pretends he has given himself up to serve Jesus Christ, and yet he refuses to deny himself any darling lust, and then he will go and pray: "O Lord, save the world; O Lord, Thy Kingdom come!" I tell you it is hypocrisy. Shall such prayers be heard? Unless men are willing to deny themselves, I would not give a groat for the prayers of as many such professors as would cover the whole of the United States.

These things must be taught to young converts. It must come to this point in the Church, that men shall not be called Christians, unless they will cut off the right hand, and pluck out the right eye, and deny themselves for Christ's sake. A little thing? See it poison the spirit of prayer! See it debase and sensualize the soul! Is that a trifle beneath the dignity of the pulpit, when these intemperate indulgences, of one kind and another, cost the Church five times, if not fifty times, more than all she gives for the salvation of the world?

An estimate has recently been made, showing that in the United States seven millions of dollars' worth of coffee is consumed yearly; and who does not know, that a great part of this is consumed by the Church. And yet grave ministers and members of Christian Churches are not ashamed to be seen countenancing this enormous waste of money; while at the same time the poor heathens are sending upon every wind of heaven their agonizing wail for help. Heaven calls from above: "Go... preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). Hell groans from beneath, and ten thousand voices cry out from heaven, earth, and hell: "Do something to save the world!" Do it now Oh, NOW, or millions more are in hell through your neglect. And oh, tell it not in Gath, the Church, the ministry, will not deny even their lusts to save a world. Is this Christianity? What business have you to use Christ's money for such a purpose? Are you a steward?

Who gave you this liberty? Look to it, lest it should be found at last, that you have preferred self-gratification to obedience, and made a "God of your belly" (Phillippians 3:19).

The time to teach these things with effect is, when the converts are young.

If converts are not properly taught then, if they get a wrong habit, and begin with an easy, self-indulgent mode of living, it rarely happens that they become thoroughly reformed. I have conversed with old professors on these subjects, and have been astonished at their pertinacious obstinacy in indulging their lusts. And I am satisfied that the Church never can rise out of this sloth until young converts are faithfully taught, at the outset of their religious course, to be temperate in all things.
It does not look well in a minister. Indeed! For a minister's wife to wear such a fine bonnet, or such a silk shawl - oh no, it will never do! But they think nothing of these things in a layman, or a layman's wife! That is no offense at all! I am not saying that these things do look well in a minister; I know they do not. But they look, in God's eyes, just as well in a minister as they do in a layman. You have no more right to indulge in vanity, and folly, and pride, than a minister. Can you go to heaven without being sanctified? Can you be holy without living for God, and doing all that you do to His glory? I have heard professedly good men speak against ministers having large salaries, and living in an expensive style, when they themselves were actually spending a great deal more money for the support of their families than any minister. What would be thought of a minister living in the style in which many professors of religion and elders of Churches are living in this city? Why, everybody would say they were hypocrites. But it is just as much an evidence of hypocrisy in a layman to spend God's money to gratify his lusts, or to please the world, or his family, as it is for a minister to do so.

It is distressing to hear some of our foremost laymen talk of its being dishonorable to religion, to give ministers a large salary, and let them live in an expensive style, when it is a fact that their own expenses are, for the number of their families, and the company they have to receive, far above those of almost any minister. All this arises out of fundamentally wrong notions imbibed while they were young converts. Young converts have been taught to expect that ministers will have all the religion - especially all the self-denial. So long as this continues there can be no hope that the Church will ever do much for the glory of God, or for the conversion of the world. There is nothing of all this in the Bible. Where has God said: "You ministers, love God with all your heart, and soul, and mind, and strength"? Or, "You ministers, do all to the glory of God"? No, these things are said to all alike, and he who attempts to excuse himself from any duty or self-denial, from any watchfulness or sobriety, by putting it off upon ministers, or who ventures to adopt a lower scale of holy living for himself than he thinks is proper for a minister, is in great danger of proving himself a hypocrite, and paying in hell the forfeit of his foolishness.

Much depends on the instructions given to young converts. If they once get into the habit of supposing that they may indulge in things which they would condemn in a minister, it is extremely unlikely that they will ever get out of it.
But it is the duty of all to be perfect, and to purpose entire, perpetual, and universal obedience to God. It should be their constant purpose to live wholly to God, and obey all His commandments. They should live so that if they should sin it would be an inconsistency, an exception, an individual case, in which they act contrary to the fixed and general purpose and tenor of their lives. They ought not to sin at all; they are bound to be as holy as God is; and young converts should be taught to set out in the right course, or they will never be right.
Why should He? Where is the use?

This is the reason why so many people have so little enjoyment in religion. They do not exert themselves to honor God. They keep what little they do enjoy so entirely to themselves, that there is no good reason why God should bestow blessings and benefits on them.
How strange has been the course sometimes pursued! These persons have been converted, and - there they are. They get into the Church, and then they are left to go along just as they did before; they do nothing, and are taught to do nothing, for Christ; and the only change is that they go more regularly to church on the Sabbath, and let the minister feed them, as it is called. But suppose he does feed them, they do not grow strong, for they cannot digest it, because they take no exercise. They become spiritual dyspeptics. Now, the great object for which Christians are converted and left in this world is, to pull sinners out of the fire. If they do not effect this, they had better be dead. And young converts should be taught this as soon as they are born into the Kingdom. The first thing they do should be to go to work for this end - to save sinners.


How often is it found that the old professors will keep the young converts back behind the rest of the Church, and prevent them from taking any active part in religion, for fear they should become spiritually proud.

Young converts in such Churches are rarely or never called on to take a part in meetings, or set to any active duty, or the like, for fear they should become lifted up with spiritual pride. Thus the Church becomes the modest keeper of their humility, and teaches them to file in behind the old, stiff, dry, cold members and elders, for fear that if they should be allowed to do anything for Christ, it will make them proud. Whereas, the very way to make young converts humble and keep them so, is to put them to their work and keep them there. That is the way to keep God with them, and as long as God is with them, He will take care of their humility. Keep them constantly engaged in religion, and then the Spirit of God will dwell in them, and so they will be kept humble by the most effectual process. But if young converts are left to fall in behind the old professors, where they can never do anything, they will never know what spirit they are of, and this is the very way to run them into the danger of falling into the worst species of spiritual pride.
The devices of the devil, the temptations of the world, the power of their own passions and habits, and the thousand forms of danger, they do not know; and if not properly watched and warned, they will run right into such dangers. The Church should watch over and care for her young children - just as mothers watch their little children in this great city, lest the carts run over them, or they stray away; or as they watch over them while growing up, for fear they may be drawn into the whirlpools of iniquity. The Church should watch over all the interests of her young members, know where they are, and what are their habits, temptations, dangers, privileges - the state of religion in their hearts, and their spirit of prayer. Look at that anxious mother, when she sees paleness gather round the brow of her little child. "What is the matter with you, my child? Have you eaten something improper? Have you taken cold? What ails you?"

Oh, how different it is with the children of the Church, the lambs that the Savior has committed to the care of His Church! Alas! instead of restraining her children, and taking care of them, the Church lets them go anywhere, and look out for themselves. What should we say of a mother who should knowingly let her children totter along to the edge of a precipice? Should we not say she was horribly guilty for doing so, and that if the child should fall and be killed, its blood would rest on the mother's head? What, then, is the guilt of the Church, in knowingly neglecting her young converts? I have known Churches where young converts were totally neglected, and regarded with suspicion and jealousy; nobody went near them to strengthen or encourage or counsel them; nothing was done to lead them to usefulness, to teach them what to do or how to do it, or to open to them a field of labor. And then - what then?

Why, when they find that young converts cannot stand everything, when they find them growing cold and backward under such treatment, they just turn round and abuse them, for not holding out!
But to do it in a wrong manner is worse than not to do it at all. It is sometimes done in a manner which is abrupt, harsh, and apparently censorious, more like scolding than like brotherly admonition. Such a manner, instead of inspiring confidence, or leading to reformation, is just calculated to harden the heart of the young convert, and confirm him in his wrong courses, while, at the same time, it closes his mind against the influence of such censorious guardians. The heart of a young convert is tender, and easily grieved, and sometimes a single unkind look will set him into such a state of mind as will fasten his errors upon him, and make him grow worse and worse.

You who are parents know how important it is when you reprove your children, that they should see that you do it from the best of motives, for their benefit, because you wish them to be good, and not because you are angry. Otherwise they will soon come to regard you as a tyrant, rather than a friend. Just so with young converts. Kindness and tenderness, even in reproof, will win their confidence, and attach them to you, and give an influence to your brotherly instructions and counsels, so that you can mold them into finished Christians. Instead of this, if you are severe and critical in your manner, that is the way to make them think you wish to Lord it over them. Many persons, under pretense of being faithful, as they call it, often hurt young converts by such a severe and overbearing manner, as to drive them away, or perhaps crush them into despondency and apathy. Young converts have but little experience, and are easily thrown down. They are just like a little child when it first begins to walk. You see it tottering along, and it stumbles over a straw. You see the mother take everything out of the way, when her little one is going to try to walk. Just so with young converts. The Church ought to take up every stumbling block, and treat converts in such a way as to make them see that if they are reproved, Christ is in it. Then they will receive it as it is meant, and it will do them good.
Christians ought to make it a subject of much prayer and reflection, that they may do it in such a way as not to do more hurt than good. If you rebuke him merely for the things that he did not see, or did not know to be improper, it will grieve and disgust him. Such instruction should be carefully timed. Often, it is well to take the opportunity after you have been praying together, or after a kind conversation on religious subjects which has been calculated to make him feel that you love him, seek his good, and earnestly desire to promote his sanctification, his usefulness, and his happiness. Then, a mere hint will often do the work. Just suggest that "Such a thing in your prayer," or "your conduct in so-and-so, did not strike me pleasantly; had you not better think of it, and perhaps you will judge it better to avoid a recurrence of it?" Do it rightly, and you will help him and do him good. Do it in the wrong way, and you will do ten times more hurt than good. Often, young converts will err through ignorance; their judgment is unripe, and they need time to think and make up an enlightened judgment on some point that at first appears to them doubtful.

In such cases the older members should treat them with great kindness and forbearance; should kindly instruct them, and not denounce them at once for not seeing, at first, what perhaps they themselves did not understand until years after they were converted.


Their course, instead of being like the path of the just, growing brighter and brighter unto the perfect day (Proverbs 4:18), will grow dimmer and dimmer, and finally, perhaps, go out in darkness. Wherever you see young converts let their religion taper off till it comes to nothing, you may understand that it is the natural result of defective instruction. The philosophical result of teaching young converts the truth, and the whole truth, is that they grow stronger and stronger. Truth is the food of the mind - it is what gives the mind strength. And where religious character grows feeble, rely upon it, in nine cases out of ten it is owing to their being neglected, or falsely instructed, when they were young converts.
It is curious to see how ready young converts are to take right ground on any subject that may be proposed. See what they are willing to do for the education of ministers, for missions, moral reform, or for the slaves! If the great body of young converts from the late revivals had been well grounded in Gospel principles, you would have found in them, throughout the Church, but one heart and one soul in regard to every question of duty.

Let their early education be right, and you have got a body of Christians that you can depend on. If it had been general in the Church, how much more strength there would have been in all her great movements for the salvation of the world!
If their instruction is defective, they will probably live in such a way as to disgrace religion. The truth, kept steadily before the mind of a young convert, in proper proportions, has a natural tendency to make him grow "unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13). If any one point is made too prominent in the instruction given, there will probably be just that disproportion in his character. If he is fully instructed on some points and not on others, you will find a corresponding defect in his life and character.

If the instruction of young converts is greatly defective, they will press on in religion no farther than they are strongly propelled by the first emotions of their conversion. As soon as that is spent they will come to a stand, and then they will decline and backslide. And ever after you will find that they will go forward only when aroused by some powerful excitement. These are your "periodical" Christians, who are so apt to wake up in a time of revival, and bluster about as if they had the zeal of angels, for a few days, and then die away as dead and cold as a northern winter. Oh, how desirable, how infinitely important it is, that young converts should be so taught that their religion will not depend on impulses and excitements, but that they will go steadily onward in the Christian course, advancing from. strength to strength, and giving forth a clear and safe and steady light all around.


Instead of bringing up their young converts to be working Christians, the Churches have generally acted as if they did not know how to employ young converts, or what use to make of them. They have acted like a mother who has a great family of daughters, but knows not how to set them to work, and so suffers them to grow up idle and untaught, useless and despised, and to be the easy prey of every designing villain.

If the Church had only done her duty in training up young converts to work and labor for Christ, the world would have been converted long ago.

But instead of this, how many Churches actually oppose young converts who attempt to set themselves to work for Christ. Multitudes of old professors look with suspicion upon every movement of young converts, and talk against them, saying: "They are too forward, they ought not to put themselves forward, but wait for those who are older." There is waiting again! Instead of bidding young converts "Godspeed," and cheering them on, very often they hinder them, and perhaps put them down. How often have young converts been stopped from going forward, and turned into rank behind a formal, lazy, inefficient Church, till their spirit has been crushed, and their zeal extinguished; so that after a few ineffectual struggles to throw off the cords, they have concluded to sit down with the rest, and WAIT. In many places young converts cannot even attempt to hold a prayer meeting by themselves, without being rebuked by the pastor, or by some deacon, for being so forward, and upbraided with spiritual pride. "Oho," it is said, "you are young converts, are you? And so you want to get together, and call all the neighbors together to look at you, because you are young converts. You had better turn preachers at once!" A celebrated Doctor of Divinity in New England boasted, at a public table, of his success in keeping all his converts still. He had great difficulty, he said, for they were in a terrible fever to do something, to talk, or pray, or get up meetings, but by the greatest vigilance he had kept it all down, and now his Church was just as quiet as it was before the revival. Wonderful achievement for a minister of Jesus Christ! Was that what the blessed Savior meant when he told Peter: "Feed My lambs"?
They never will be sanctified so. That is not the way God has appointed. Jesus Christ has made His people co-workers with Him in saving sinners, for this very reason, because sanctification consists in doing those things which are required to promote this work. This is one reason why He has not employed angels in the work, or carried it on by direct revelation of truth to the minds of men. It is because it is necessary as a means of sanctification, that the Church should sympathize with Christ in His feelings and His labors for the conversion of sinners. And in this way the entire Church must move, before the world will be converted. When the day comes that the whole body of professing Christians shall realize that they are here on earth as a body of missionaries, and when they shall live and labor accordingly, then will the day of man's redemption draw nigh.

Christian, if you cannot go abroad to labor, why are you not a missionary in your own family? If you are too feeble even to leave your room, be a missionary there in your bedchamber. How many unconverted servants have you in your house? Call in your unconverted servants, and your unconverted children, and be a missionary to them. Think of your physician, who, perhaps, is laying himself out to save your body; think that you receive his kindness and never make him the greatest return in your power.

It is necessary that the Church should take hold of her young converts at the outset, and set them to work in the right way. The hope of the Church is in the young converts.

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The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways. - Proverbs 14:14.

I cannot conclude this course of lectures, without warning converts against backsliding. In discussing this subject, I will show:

I. What backsliding in heart is not.

II. What backsliding in heart is.

III. What are evidences of backsliding in heart.

IV. What are consequences of backsliding in heart.

V. How to recover from this state.




Reason I hear, her counsels weigh, And all her words approve And yet I find it hard to obey, And harder still, to love.
Whenever, therefore, there is an irritable, uncontrolled temper allowed to manifest itself to those around, you may know there is a backslidden heart.
This he puts into the mouth of a convert, and who does not know that this is true? There is joy in the presence of the angels of God, over one sinner that repenteth, and is there not joy among the saints on earth, over those that come to Christ, and are as babes newly born into the Kingdom? Show me a professor of religion who does not manifest an absorbing interest in converts to Christ, and I will show you a backslider in heart, and a hypocrite; he professes religion, but has none.
While the love of Christ remains fresh in the soul, the indwelling Spirit of God will reveal Himself as the Spirit of grace and supplication. He will beget strong desires in the soul for the salvation of sinners and the sanctification of saints. He will often make intercessions in them, with great longings, strong crying and tears, and with groanings that cannot he uttered in words, for those things that are according to the will of God. Or, to express it in Scripture language, according to Paul: "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Romans 8:26, 27). If the spirit of prayer departs, it is a sure indication of a backslidden heart, for while the first love of a Christian continues he is sure to be drawn by the Holy Spirit to wrestle much in prayer.
I have known professed Christian parents to get into such a state that they had no heart to pray for the conversion of their own children, even when those children were under conviction. They would keep up family prayer, and attend a weekly prayer meeting, but would never get out of the rut of praying round and round for themselves. A few years since I was laboring in a revival in a Presbyterian Church. At the close of the evening sermon I found that the daughter of one of the elders of the Church was in great distress of mind. I observed that her convictions were very deep. We had been holding a meeting with inquirers in the vestry, and I had just dismissed the inquirers, when this young lady came to me in great agitation and begged me to pray for her. The people had mostly gone, except a few who were waiting in the body of the church for those friends who had attended the meeting of inquiry. I called the father of this young lady into the vestry that he might see the very anxious state of his daughter's mind.

After a short personal conversation with her in the presence of her father, I called on him to pray for her, and said that I would follow him, and I urged her to give her heart to Christ. We all knelt, and he went through with his prayer, kneeling by the side of his sobbing daughter, without ever mentioning her case. His prayer revealed that he had no more religion than she had, and that he was very much in her state of mind - under an awful sense of condemnation. He had kept up the appearance of religion. As an elder of the Church, he was obliged to keep up appearances. He had gone round and round upon the treadmill of his duties, while his heart was utterly backslidden. It is often almost nauseating to attend a prayer meeting of the backslidden in heart. They will go round, round, one after the other, in reality praying for their own conversion. They do not so express it, but that is the real import of their prayer. They could not render it more evident that they are backsliders in heart.
While the heart is engaged in religion, Christians will not readily omit family devotions, and whenever they are ready to find an excuse for the omission, it is a sure evidence that they are backslidden in heart.
For mere worldly amusements it has no relish. When the soul does not find more delight in God than in all worldly things, the heart is sadly backslidden.
Spiritual blindness reveals itself in a want of interest in God's Word, and in religious truth generally. It will also manifest a want of spiritual discrimination, and will be easily imposed upon by the insinuations of Satan. A backslidden heart will lead to the adoption of lax principles of morality. It does not discern the spirituality of God's law, and of His requirements generally. When this spiritual blindness is manifest it is a sure indication that the heart is backslidden.
This, in the Bible, is represented as a state of spiritual death. I am satisfied that the most common occasion of backsliding in heart is to be found in the clamor for indulgence of the various appetites and propensities. The appetite for food is frequently, and perhaps more frequently than any other, the occasion of backsliding. Few Christians, I fear, apprehend any danger in this direction. God's injunction is: "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). Christians forget this, and eat and drink to please themselves, consulting their appetites instead of the laws of life and health. More persons are ensnared by their tables than the Church is aware of. The table is a snare of death to multitudes that no man can number. A great many people who avoid alcoholic drinks altogether, will indulge in tea and coffee, and even tobacco, and in food that, both in quantity and quality, violates every law of health. They seem to have no other law than that of appetite, and this they so deprave by abuse that, to indulge it, is to ruin body and soul together. Show me a gluttonous professor, and I will show you a backslider.
While the heart is full of the love of God, God is feared, and not man. A desire for the applause of men is kept down, and it is enough to please God, whether men are pleased or displeased. But when the love of God is abated, "the fear of man," that "bringeth a snare" (Proverbs 29:25), gets possession of the backslider. To please man rather than God, is then his aim. In such a state he will sooner offend God than man.


The text says, that "the backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways."

Mistakes in business, mistakes in forming new relations in life, mistakes in using his time, his tongue, his money, his influence; indeed, all will go wrong with him as long as he remains in a backslidden state.
The animal appetites and passions will burst forth, to the astonishment of the backslider, and he will probably find himself more under their influence and more enslaved by them than ever before.
Having experimental knowledge of the true way of life, he has the infinite folly to abandon it. Knowing the fountain of living waters, he has forsaken it, and "hewed out to himself cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jeremiah 2:13). Having been guilty of this infinite folly, the whole course of his backslidden life must be that of a fool, in the Bible sense of the term.
"There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (Isaiah 57:21). There is no position in time or space in which he can be at rest.
Having forsaken God, and taken the attitude of self-will, God will inevitably disappoint him as he pursues his selfish ends. He will frame his ways to please himself, without consulting God. Of course God will frame his ways so as to disappoint him. Determined to have his own way, he will be greatly disappointed if his plans are frustrated; yet the certain course of events under the government of God must of necessity bring him a series of disappointments.
He loses much of his time. He loses his Christian reputation. He loses his Christian influence, and if he persists he loses his soul.
Again, he is in bondage to God. If he performs any duty that he calls religious, it is rather as a slave than as a freeman. He serves from fear or hope, just like a slave, and not from love. A gain, he is in bondage to his own conscience. To avoid conviction and remorse, he will do or omit many things, but it is all with reluctance, and not at all of his own cordial goodwill.
If he neglects or refuses to pray, he feels condemned. Everything condemns him. His conscience is up in arms against him, and the thunders and lightnings of condemnation follow him, whithersoever he goes.


Begin with your heart, and at once set yourself right with God.

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But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.- 2 Peter 3:18.

I MUST conclude this Course of Lectures by giving converts instructions on the subject of Growth in Grace. I shall pursue the following method, showing:

I. What grace is, as the term is here used.

II. What the injunction to "grow in grace" does not mean.

III. What it does mean.

IV. The conditions of growth in grace.

V. What is not proof of growth in grace.

VI. What is proof of growth in grace.

VII. How to grow in grace.


Grace is favor. The word is often used in the Bible to signify a free gift.

The grace of God is the favor of God.


It does not enjoin the gradual giving up of sin. Strange to tell, it would seem that some have so understood it; but we are nowhere in the Bible commanded to give up sin gradually, we are everywhere commanded to give it up instantly and wholly.


It enjoins upon us the duty of growing in the favor of God, of growing in His esteem - in a worthiness of His favor.


True conversion to God involves the consecration of ourselves and of all that we have to Him, so far as we understand what is implied in this. But, at first, converts are by no means aware of all that is involved in the highest forms of consecration. They will soon learn that there are certain things that they did not think of, and that they did not give up to God. At first, perhaps, all that was in their thought was, to lay their naked soul upon the altar, and give up their whole heart to God. But soon they may learn that they did not think of all their possessions, of everything that was dear to them; they did not surrender all, leaving "not an hoof behind" (Exodus 10:26). They surrendered all of which they thought, but they were not fully enlightened, they did not think, nor could they think, at the time, of every appetite, passion, propensity, of every desire and affection, and of everything dear to them, in the whole creation, to make a thorough surrender and delivery of these to God.

To gain such knowledge is a work of time; and growth in the favor of God is conditioned on making a full surrender and consecration to God of everything we are, and have, and desire, and love, as fast as these objects are presented to thought. As long as we exist, and knowledge increases, there is no doubt that we shall be called upon to grow in grace, by consecrating to God every new object of knowledge, of desire, and of affection, that we may come to know, and desire, and love, to all eternity.

As you get new light, you must enlarge your consecration from day to day, and from hour to hour, or you will cease to grow in grace. Whenever you stop short, and do not lay and leave everything that you are, that you possess, or that you love, upon the altar of consecration, that moment you cease to grow in grace. I pray you to let this saying sink deep into your hearts.
By implicit, I mean an unreasoning faith, a confidence in God's character so profound that we trust Him in the dark as well as in the light, as well when we do not understand the reasons of His dealings with us, or of His requirements, as when we do; a faith like that of Abraham, who "staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief" (Romans 4:20), though the thing promised seemed irrational and impossible. An implicit faith is an unwavering, unquestioning faith, a state of mind that will rest in God, in His promises, in His faithfulness, in His love, whatever appearances may be and however trying and apparently unreasonable His commands or providential dealings may be. Abraham's faith is often commended in the Bible. God had promised him a son, but did not give him the promised seed until he was a hundred years old, and Sarah was ninety. But notwithstanding, Sarah was past age, and he as good as dead, he believed that God was able to fulfill His promise. Then, when he had received his beloved son, with the assurance that this was to be his heir, and that through him the promise was to be fulfilled through all generations, God tried his faith severely, by commanding him to offer his Isaac as a burnt sacrifice. Yet he obeyed, without the least hesitation, believing "that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead" (Hebrews 11:19). He made all his arrangements to obey this trying command, with such calmness that neither Sarah nor Isaac suspected that any such thing was in contemplation. This was an instance of the exercise of implicit faith.

Growth in grace, or in the favor of God, is conditioned upon growth in implicit confidence in Him.
These appetites, passions, and propensities, although not sinful in themselves, have been regarded and spoken of as indwelling sin. Strictly, they cannot be sin, because they are involuntary. But they are often a great hindrance to our growth in the favor of God. "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" (Galatians 5:17). This means that we cannot do for God what we otherwise would, because we have to battle so much with the states of the sensibility, to keep them under. As the sensibility becomes more and more subdued and in harmony with the will's devotion to God, we are left free to render to God a more unembarrassed service. Therefore, the more thorough the sanctification of the sensibility, the more thoroughly we are in favor with God.
Your growth in grace will depend upon this. Think not of stopping short of personally knowing Christ, not only in all these relations, but in the fullness of these relations. Do not overlook the fact that the appropriation of Christ, in each of these relations, is a personal act of faith. It is a putting on of the Lord Jesus Christ, a taking of Him as yours, in each of these relations, as your wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; as your Prophet, to teach you, your King, to govern you, your High Priest, to atone for you, your Mediator, your Advocate, your Strength, your Savior, your Hiding place, your High Tower, your Captain and Leader, your Shield, your Defense, your Exceeding Great Reward. In each of these relations, and in all other of His official relations, you need to appropriate Him by faith so as to secure to you personal intercourse with Him in these relations. Growing in a personal acquaintance with Him, in these relations, is an indispensable condition of growth in His favor.


Some degree of knowledge is indispensable to our being in favor with God; and growth in knowledge, as I have shown, is a condition of growth in grace; but knowledge is not grace, and growth in knowledge does not constitute growth in grace. A person may grow ever so much in knowledge, and have no grace at all. In hell, they cannot but grow in knowledge, as they grow in experience, and in the knowledge of God's justice. But there, their growth in knowledge but aggravates the guilt and misery of hell. They know more and more of God and His law, and their own guilt, and the more they know, the more wretched they are. From their increased knowledge they never learn piety.
But he may do all this, and yet have no grace at all. He may pray ever so engagedly, and increase in fluency and apparent pathos, and yet have no grace. People who have no grace often do so. It is true, if he has grace, and exercises himself in these things, as he grows in grace, he will grow in gifts.

No person can exercise himself in obeying God, without improving in those exercises. If he does not improve in gifts, it is a true sign he does not grow in grace. But, on the other hand, it is not sure evidence that he grows in grace because he improves in certain exercises, for he will naturally improve by practice, whether he is a Christian or a hypocrite.
This results from the very nature of the case. If any person is growing worse, his conscience will, for the time being, become more and more seared, and his mind more and more dark, as he stifles conscience and resists the light. Then he may imagine he is growing better, just because he has less sense of sin; and while his conscience continues to sleep he may continue under the fatal delusion. A man will judge of his own spiritual state as he compares himself with a high or low standard. If he keeps Christ before him, in His fullness, as his standard, he will doubtless always, at least in this state of existence, have but a low estimate of his own attainments. While at the same time, if he sets before himself the Church, or any member of the Church, as a standard, he will be very likely to form a high estimate of his progress in religion, and be very well satisfied with himself. This is the reason why there is such a difference in people's views of their own state arid of the state of the Church. They compare themselves and the state of the Church with different standards.

Hence, one takes a very humbling view of his own state, and complains of that of the Church; another thinks such complaints of the Church censorious, for to him the Church appears to be doing very well. The reason why he does not think the Church cold, and in a low state, is that

Christ is not his standard of comparison. If a man shuts his eyes, he will not see the defilement on him, and may think he is clean, while to all around he appears loathsome.


The manifestation of this implicit and universal confidence is proof that this growing confidence exists, and is, therefore, satisfactory evidence of growth in the favor of God. If you are conscious in your own soul that you do exercise more implicit and universal confidence in God, this is conclusive proof to you that you are growing in grace, and as you manifest in your life, and temper, and spirit, this growing confidence, you prove to yourself and to others that you are growing in the favor of God. For as you grow in implicit confidence in Him you must grow in His favor.
While this is so, their piety is in a feeble state. They must lose sight of their own glory, and have a single eye to the glory of God, to find acceptance with Him. But as they lose sight of self, and set God always before them, having an eye single to His glory they grow more and more in His favor.



They instruct the intellect to a certain extent, but they do not meet the wants of the heart. Converts starve under their preaching. They preach an intellectual, rather than a spiritual Gospel They preach religion as a theory, a doctrine, a philosophy and not as a real living experience. It is often exceedingly painful to hear ministers preach who manifestly do not know what they say, or whereof they affirm They speak of religion as an inward sentiment, instead of heart devotion to God; as an emotion, a feeling instead of an all-embracing and efficient love, a voluntary state and attitude of the mind, from which necessarily proceeds a holy life. They speak of faith as; mere intellectual state or conviction, and not as an act of trust, and of committal of the whole being, to do and suffer all the will of God. They speak of repentance as if were a mere involuntary sorrow for sin They do not teach that repentance is a change of mind toward God, a renunciation of the self-seeking spirit, and a turning of the whole mind to God. They speak of holiness as if it were a state utterly unattainable in this life. Indeed, I say it with sorrow, but I must say it, the teaching of a great many ministers is but a stumbling block to the Church. Under their instruction, converts do not, and cannot get so established in grace as to be greatly useful, or to live lives that are honorable to Christ. Just think that in the Nineteenth Century ministers preach to converts that they must grow in grace by works. Be heaven and earth amazed at this! Such teachers do not know how to grow in grace themselves. Shall I be accounted harsh if I say: "They be blind leaders of the blind"?
How sad it is to set such young men to feed the Church of God.. How do old Christians mourn, when they see the appointed leaders in the Church of God but spiritual babes.
In this respect, too, there must be a great change. Churches should refuse to ordain and receive pastors, unless they are fully satisfied of their having made much progress in Christian experience, so as to be able to lead on, and keep the Church awake.

They should insist upon the education of his heart as well as his head; upon his ability to take young converts, and conduct them on to those deep experiences that will make them stable and efficient workers in the cause of God. Think of Theological Seminaries, where the leaders of the Church of God are taught that sanctification or growth in grace is attained by works and not by faith! Tell it not in Gath! Alas for Zion, when her great and good men fall into such mistakes!



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"Sermons from the Penny Pulpit"
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