Classic Sermons

THE WONDERFUL LOVE OF GOD

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."--John iii.16

 

THE term world as here used does not mean the globe of earth on which we live--but the race of man. In this sense the term is often used. The world; the whole world; are terms often used to signify the men who live in the world, the race of man, as such. The term perish in this passage does not mean annihilation; it is manifestly put in contrast to everlasting life, as the opposite of that. Everlasting life, as the term is here used, is not merely everlasting existence--I know not the term is ever used in that sense in any other part of the Bible: whether everlasting existence will be a blessing or not, will depend upon the state in which individuals exist, whether in happiness or misery. Under some circumstances everlasting existence might be anything but a blessing.

This everlasting life which is here spoken of is doubtless an everlasting living with God in heaven--an everlasting existence combined with everlasting happiness; this is the eternal life so often spoken* of in the Scriptures, and, doubtless, is that which is meant in this place. Now to perish is the opposite of this; it is not annihilation or a mere ceasing from existence, because to annihilate would ofttimes be no evil to the individual on whom the sentence should be inflicted; to a wretched being it would be not an evil at all, but a great favour. In short, it is very plain that to perish is the very opposite of everlasting life, and means what is expressed in everlasting death, or a state of endless punishment.

In speaking from these words I propose to notice--

Read More

CHRIST OUR ADVOCATE WITH THE FATHER

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." --1 John 2:1

 

In remarking upon this passage, I must,

1. Explain the sense in which the term "advocate" is here used;

2. Show what is implied in the existence of this office;

3. Explain the essential qualifications of an advocate;

4. State some of the conditions of his success.

Read More

THE TRUE SERVICE OF GOD

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

TEXT--Josh 24:19: "Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord: for He is a holy God."

 

In this discussion I will show:

I. IN WHAT THE HOLINESS OF GOD CONSISTS.

II. THAT THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF SERVICE, BOTH OF WHICH CLAIM TO BE RENDERED TO GOD.

III. WHICH CONSTITUTES THE ACCEPTABLE SERVICE OF GOD.

IV. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN IT.

V. HOW THESE TWO KINDS OF SERVICE CANNOT, AND HOW THEY CAN BE DISTINGUISHED FROM EACH OTHER.

VI. IF ANY MAN WOULD SERVE THE LORD, HE MUST BEGIN BY MAKING HIS HEART HOLY.

Read More

ON CONFESSING AND BEING CLEANSED FROM SIN.

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9

 

The connection in which this passage stands, is this--"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."

The first inquiry under our text is,--

What is implied in "confessing our sins?"

Read More

TRUE AND FALSE CONVERSION

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

TEXT.--Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of my hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.--Isaiah 50.11.*

 

IT is evident, from the connection of these words in the chapter, that the prophet was addressing those who professed to be religious, and who flattered themselves that they were in a state of salvation, but in fact their hope was a fire of their own kindling, and sparks created by themselves. Before I proceed to discuss the subject, let me say, that as I have given notice that it was my intention to discuss the nature of true and false conversion, it will be of no use but to those who will be honest in applying it to themselves. If you mean to profit by the discourse, you must resolve to make a faithful application of it to yourselves--just as honest as if you thought you were now going to the solemn judgment. If you will do this, I may hope to be able to lead you to discover your true state, and if you are now deceived, direct you in the true path to salvation. If you will not do this, I shall preach in vain, and you will hear in vain.

I design to show the difference between true and false conversion, and shall take up the subject in the following order:

I. Show that the natural state of man is a state of pure selfishness.

II. Show that the character of the converted is that of benevolence.

III. That the New Birth consists in a change from selfishness to benevolence.

IV. Point out some things wherein saints and sinners, or true and spurious converts, may agree, and some things in which they differ. And,

V. Answer some objections that may be offered against the view I have taken, and conclude with some remarks.

Read More

TRUE AND FALSE REPENTANCE

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

TEXT.--For godly sorrow worketh repentance into[unto] salvation, not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world worketh death.--2 CORINTHIANS vii. 10.

IN this chapter the apostle refers to another epistle, which he had formerly written to the church at Corinth, on a certain subject, in which they were greatly to blame. He speaks here of the effect that it had, in bringing them to true repentance. They sorrowed after a godly sort. This was the evidence that their repentance was genuine.

"For behold this self-same thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter."

In the verse which I have taken for my text, he speaks of two kinds of sorrow for sin, one working repentance unto salvation, the other working death. He alludes to what is generally understood by two kinds of repentance. And this is the subject of discourse to-night.

TRUE AND FALSE REPENTANCE.

In discoursing on the subject, I design to show

I. What true repentance is:

II. How it may be known:

III. What is false and spurious repentance:

IV. How it may be known:

Read More

HOW TO PREVAIL WITH GOD

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh, It shall be opened."--Matt. vii. 7, 8.

"Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts."--James iv. 3.

 

THE subject to which I spoke last evening I shall continue this evening--The Conditions of Prevailing Prayer. I noticed last evening several of these conditions, and announced that this evening I should pursue the subject. I was speaking of Perseverance being made a condition of prevailing with God. Sometimes, however, the circumstances are of such a character that there is no time for perseverance, in any such sense as to protract; if the prayers must necessarily be repeated, the object cannot be attained at all. But often there are very good reasons why the supplicant should be left to wrestle and persevere. God is anxious, by this means, to develope a certain state of mind, sometimes for the petitioner's benefit, sometimes for the benefit of others, or both of these together. Some cases of this kind are recorded in Scripture, where God declined to answer at once, in order that he might develope a certain state of mind in the petitioner for the benefit of others. I shall instance some cases of this kind. I noticed last evening that of Jacob as an example of perseverance in struggling--persisting in supplication, until he prevailed. I noticed, also, the case of Moses, and was about to mention that of Elijah.

Read More

THE WICKED STUMBLING IN THEIR DARKNESS

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"The way of the wicked is as darkness; they know not at what they stumble." Proverbs 4:19

 

The older I grow, the more I admire and love the book of Proverbs. Its wisdom is most profound. Manifestly these proverbs are the result, not of inspiration only, but of much observation and reflection in the writer. They are useful, being easily remembered, and so various, that you can always find something to apply, be your circumstances what they may. It is plain the author had moved among men with his eyes wide open. Hence, he had noticed that the wicked are forever stumbling, and seem not to know at what they stumble. It is to this great truth that I now call your attention.

I. It is well, in the first place, to notice several facts of human consciousness.

Whoever shall carefully study these facts, shown by human consciousness, must see that the pretended skepticism of men is mere hypocrisy. Men know better.

What are these facts?

Read More

THE REST OF FAITH--NO. 2

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

Text. Heb. 3:19, & 4:1.--So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

 

Upon these words I remark:

1. That this rest, into which they could not enter, had been expressly promised to them.

2. That though no condition was expressly annexed to this promise, yet faith as a condition was necessarily implied; for if they had no confidence in the promise, they would of course neglect the necessary means to gain possession of the promised land.

3. Unbelief rendered the fulfillment of the promise impossible, in as much as it prevented their going up and taking possession when commanded to do so.

4. In my last, I showed that the land of Canaan was typical of spiritual rest or the rest of faith.

5. This spiritual rest is expressly promised, and it is said that some must enter therein, yet faith is an indispensable condition to its fulfillment.

These remarks prepare the way for the discussion of the two following propositions:

Read More

THE REST OF FAITH.[--NO. 1]

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

Text. Heb. 3:19, & 4:1.--So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

 

The following is the order in which I will direct your attention.

I. INQUIRE OF WHOM THE APOSTLE IS SPEAKING IN THIS TEXT, AND INTO WHAT IT IS SAID THEY COULD NOT ENTER.

II. WHY THEY COULD NOT ENTER IN.

III. SHOW THAT TEMPORAL CANAAN WAS TYPICAL OF THE REST OF FAITH.

IV. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THIS REST.

V. HOW WE MAY SEEM TO COME SHORT OF IT.

VI. HOW WE MAY TAKE POSSESSION OF IT.

Read More

THE AWFUL INGRATITUDE OF THE SINNER

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love."--Psalm cix. 5.

 

David was the type of Christ, and it was common for him to write Psalms in which there was manifestly much reference to the Messiah. The spirit of prophecy within him speaks many things, in these Psalms, particularly applicable to himself as the type of Christ, but applicable also to Christ himself; and in this case he speaks both of himself and of Christ. Some portions of the Psalms are quoted by the New Testament writers as having been spoken of Christ; and this passage is evidently of the same character. In proceeding to discuss this subject I shall,

 

Read More

EXCUSES CONDEMN GOD

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?" Job 40:8.

 

Although in the main, Job had spoken correctly of God, yet in his great anguish and perturbation under his sore trials, he had said some things which were hasty and abusive. For these the Lord rebuked him. This rebuke is contained in our context:

 

"Moreover the Lord answered Job, and said--Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct Him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it.

Then Job answered the Lord, and said--Behold I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken, but I will not answer; yea twice, but I will proceed no further.

Then answered the Lord unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said,--Gird up thy loins now like a man; I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?"--Job 40:1-8

 

It is not, however, my object to discuss the original purpose and connection of these words, but rather to consider their present application to the case of sinners. In pursuing this object, I shall

 

I. SHOW THAT EVERY EXCUSE FOR SIN CONDEMNS GOD.

II. CONSIDER SOME OF THESE EXCUSES IN DETAIL.

III. SHOW THAT EXCUSE FOR SIN ADDS INSULT TO INJURY.

Read More

ON BELIEVING WITH THE HEART

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness." -- Romans 10:10

 

The subject brought to view in this passage requires of us, that we should,

I. Distinguish carefully between intellectual and heart faith.

There are several different states of mind which are currently called faith, this term being obviously used in various senses. So, also, is the term heart used in various senses, and indeed, there are but few terms which are not used with some variety of signification. Hence, it becomes very important to discriminate.

Read More

THE WICKED HEART SET TO DO EVIL

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil"--Eccl. 8:11

 

This text manifestly assumes that the present is not a state of rewards and punishments, in which men are treated according to their character and conduct. This fact is not indeed affirmed, but it is assumed, as it is also everywhere throughout the Bible. Every body knows that ours is not a state of present rewards and punishments; the experience and observation of every man testifies to this fact with convincing power. Hence it is entirely proper that the Bible should assume it as a known truth. Every man who reads his Bible must see that many things in it are assumed to be true, and that these are precisely those things which every man knows to be true, and which none could know more certainly if God had affirmed them on every page of the Bible. In the case of this truth, every man knows that he is not himself punished as he has deserved to be in the present life. Every man sees the same thing in the case of his neighbors. The Psalmist was so astounded by the manifest injustice of things in this world, as between the various lots of the righteous and of the wicked, that he was greatly stumbled, "until," says he, "I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end,"

Read More

ON BEING HOLY

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"Be ye holy, for I am holy." 1 Peter 1:16

 

This precept enjoins holiness, and our first business should therefore be to enquire what holiness is. It is plain that the Bible uses the term as synonymous with moral purity; but the question will still return--What is moral purity?

I answer--Moral fitness; that which we see to be morally appropriate; it is in substance, moral propriety; in other words--perfect love; such as God requires. It is sympathy with God and likeness to him;--the state of mind that God has. Holiness in God is not a part of his nature in such a sense that it is not voluntary in him; but it is a voluntary exercise and state of his mind.

The same is true of all beings. Holiness is not a thing of nature as opposed to free action, but must always be a free and a moral thing. It is not possible to any beings but such as are made in the image of God in the sense of being moral agents. They must have free will, and then must voluntarily conform themselves to rectitude. Nothing less or other than a voluntary conformity of themselves to the moral law can be holiness. In them all, holiness is that state of mind which is precisely appropriate to their nature and relations. This state is expressed in one word--love, meaning by this, benevolence--good will to all. When this term is used in its widest sense, it includes all moral duty. Hence this command to be holy requires that we bring ourselves into a moral adjustment to God and our entire moral duty.

Why should we be holy?

Read More

CHRISTIAN PERFECTION --2

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

TEXT.--"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."--Matthew v. 48.

 

IN speaking from these words, two weeks ago, I pursued the following order.

1. I showed what is implied in being perfect.

2. What Christian perfection is.

3. That it is a duty.

4. That it is attainable in this life.

5. Answered some objections, and then gave some reasons why so many persons are not perfect.

Read More