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  • SANCTIFICATION, FURTHER OBJECTIONS - B,
    CHARLES FINNEY SYS. THEOLOGY

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    Let ministers urge upon both saints and sinners the claims of God. Let them insist that sinners may, and can, and ought, immediately to become Christians, and that Christians can, and may, and ought to live wholly to God. Let them urge Christians to live without sin, and hold out the same urgency of command, and the same encouragement that the new school holds out to sinners; and we shall soon find that Christians are entering into the liberty of perfect love, as sinners have found pardon and acceptance. Let ministers hold forth the same gospel to all, and insist that the grace of the gospel is as sufficient to save from all sin as from a part of it; and we shall soon see whether the difficulty has not been, that the gospel has been hid and denied, until the churches have been kept weak through unbelief. The church has been taught not to expect the fulfillment of the promises to them; that it is dangerous error to expect the fulfillment to them, for example, of the promise: "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it" (1 Thess. 5:23, 24). When God says He will sanctify us wholly, and preserve us blameless unto the coming of the Lord, masters in Israel tell us that to expect this is dangerous error.

    9. Another objection to this doctrine is, that it is contrary to the views of some of the greatest and best men in the church: that such men as Augustine, Calvin, Doddridge, Edwards etc., were of a different opinion. To this I answer:

    (1.) Suppose they were; we are to call no man father, in such a sense as to yield up to him the determination of our views of Christian doctrine.

    (2.) This objection comes with a very ill grace from those who wholly reject the opinions of these divines on some of the most important points of Christian doctrine.

    (3.) Those men all held the doctrine of physical moral depravity, which was manifestly the ground of their rejecting the doctrine of entire sanctification in this life. Maintaining, as they seem to have done, that the constitutional susceptibilities of body and mind were sinfully depraved, consistency of course led them to reject the idea, that persons could be entirely sanctified while in the body. Now, I would ask what consistency is there in quoting them as rejecting the doctrine of entire sanctification in this life, while the reason of this rejection in their minds, was founded in the doctrine of physical moral depravity, which notion is entirely denied by those who quote their authority?

    10. But again; it is objected, that, if we should attain this state of continual consecration or sanctification, we could not know it until the day of judgment; and that to maintain its attainability is vain, inasmuch as no one can know whether he has attained it or not. To this I reply:

    (1.) A man's consciousness is the highest and best evidence of the present state of his own mind. I understand consciousness to be the mind's recognition of its own existence and exercises, and that it is the highest possible evidence to our own minds of what passes within us. Consciousness can of course testify only to our present sanctification; but,

    (2.) With the law of God before us as our standard, the testimony of consciousness, in regard to whether the mind is conformed to that standard or not, is the highest evidence which the mind can have of a present state of conformity to that rule.

    (3.) It is a testimony which we cannot doubt, any more than we can doubt our existence. How do we know that we exist? I answer, by our consciousness. How do I know that I breathe, or love, or hate, or sit, or stand, or lie down, or rise up, that I am joyful or sorrowful? In short, that I exercise any emotion, or volition, or affection of mind? How do I know that I sin, or repent, or believe? I answer, by my own consciousness. No testimony can be "so direct and convincing as this."

    Now, in order to know that my repentance is genuine, I must know what genuine repentance is. So if I would know whether my love to God and man, or obedience to the law is genuine, I must have clearly before my mind the real spirit, and meaning, and bearing of the law of God. Having the rule before my mind, my own consciousness affords "the most direct and convincing evidence possible," whether my present state of mind is conformed to the rule. The Spirit of God is never employed in testifying to what my consciousness teaches, but in setting in a strong light before my mind the rule to which I am to conform my life. It is His province to make me understand, to induce me to love and obey the truth; and it is the province of consciousness to testify to my own mind whether I do or do not obey the truth, when I apprehend it. When God so presents the truth, as to give the mind assurance, that it understands His mind and will upon any subject, the mind's consciousness of its own state in view of that truth, is "the highest and most direct possible" evidence of whether it obeys or disobeys.

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