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Discussion Forum : Revivals And Church History : GOD CANNOT PLEASE SINNERS (Charles G. Finney)

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RobertW
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Independence, Missouri

 Re:

God Cannot Please Sinners (Part 9)
Charles G. Finney

Again. Sinners do not like the means of grace, as they are, nor would they be satisfied, if any other means were used to save them. They do not like the doctrines that ministers preach, when they preach the truth, nor would they be satisfied if they preached error.

If they come out with the pure doctrines of the Gospel, and bear down upon the hearts and consciences of men with the claims of God, their hearts arise in instant rebellion. This, say they, is an abominable doctrine. But if the minister lets down the high claims of the Gospel, their conscience is dissatisfied; and the sinner, if he is well instructed says, that the minister is afraid to tell the truth; that he is daubing with untempered mortar; that he is deceiving the people and leading them down to hell.

Now, whether the minister preaches the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, or error, and nothing but error, or a mixture of truth and falsehood, in just as far as he preaches the truth, the sinner's heart opposes; and whenever he preaches what the sinner knows to be error, his conscience condemns it. So let the minister preach what he will, while the sinner is impenitent, he will not, upon the whole, be satisfied.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2005/2/23 11:46Profile
RobertW
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 Re:

God Cannot Please Sinners (Part 10)
Charles G. Finney

Again. Sinners do not like the manner of ministers preaching as it is, nor would they be satisfied if their manner was different. If the minister's manner is rousing and pointed, pungent and impressive; the sinner's heart rises up against it. If it is lazy and cold and dry, his conscience condemns it. In the first case, the sinner says, he is an enthusiast, and a madman, that he appeals to the passions, and excites a great deal of animal feeling, that he frightens the women and children, and will drive people to madness. In the latter case, he says that he preaches the people all to sleep. That he is prosing and dull, and does* not believe the Gospel himself. Now let the minister's manner be wholly right, or wholly wrong, or a mixture of right and wrong, and the sinner is not satisfied. In so far as the manner is right, his heart is disturbed and opposed; and in as far as it is wrong, his conscience takes sides against it; and while the sinner is so inconsistent with himself, it is vain to hope to please him.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2005/2/23 13:21Profile
RobertW
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 Re:

God Cannot Please Sinners (Part 11)
Charles G Finney


Again. Sinners do not like the lives of ministers, as they are, nor would they be satisfied if they lived differently. If the minister is determined to know nothing among his people, save Jesus Christ and him crucified; if he make religion his entire business, and introduce his message on all occasions, the sinner's heart is filled with indignation:--says he is a great bigot, full of superstition, or a canting hypocrite; that he is not sociable, and affable as a minister ought to be; that he takes no interest in the common concerns of men; that he is entirely unacquainted with human nature; that he is always intruding his religion upon every body; and he thinks, for his part, that a minister would do a great deal more good, to be a little more like other people. But if on the other hand, the minister associates with the world like other people; takes an interest in the passing occurrences of the day; if he interests himself in politics; reads secular news, and books; relates anecdotes, and is cheerful, and companionable, and at home among his people on all occasions, then the sinner's conscience condemns him. O, he says, I don't see that he is any better than any body else, he is not what a minister should be, but is fond of politics, and as much interested in the business of this world, as other people are. I like to see a minister confine himself to the duties of his office. Now, let the minister live as he will, wholly right, or wholly wrong, and the sinner is displeased. But suppose there be a mixture of consistency and inconsistency, of right and wrong, in a minister's life; then they say, he is not at all what he should be; that he is sometimes very hot, and sometimes very cold; that he is sometimes all religion, and sometimes no religion; that sometimes his conversation is all upon religious subjects, and sometimes all upon the world; they think this inconsistency calculated to do a great deal of hurt; for their part, they like to see a minister consistent and be always the same. Now, it is evident, that while the sinner is so inconsistent with himself, he will be displeased with the lives of ministers, let them live as they may. As far as the minister lives as he ought, the impenitent heart loathes him; and in as far as he lives as he ought not, the conscience condemns him.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2005/2/24 8:22Profile
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 Re:

God Cannot Please Sinners (Parts 12)
Charles G. Finney


Again. Sinners do not like the conduct of Christians, as it is, nor would they be satisfied if it were different. When Christians are very much engaged in religion, have a great many meetings, and make great efforts to save souls of men, the hearts of sinners are very much disturbed. They call them enthusiasts, and hypocrites, and think they had much better attend to their worldly business, lest their families should come upon the town. They do not thank them for their impertinence in visiting from house to house, and intruding their religion upon all their neighbours; and if Christians are opposed to balls and parties, and all kinds of sinful amusements; then they say they are morose and sour, and misanthropic; are opposed to all the sympathies and courtesies of life; and that they want to render every body else, as morose and sour and unhappy as themselves--that they had better be engaged in something else, than in muttering their prayers, running to meeting, and exhorting their neighbours to repent, as if nobody had any religion but themselves. But, if, on the other hand, Christians say but little about religion, attend meeting but seldom, except on the Sabbath; engage as deeply in business as worldly men, and appear to enjoy parties of pleasure, and time-killing amusements; now they say, these professors of religion are all hypocrites; what do they more than others? They care nothing about the souls of their neighbours. They neither warn nor exhort them; nor live as if they believed there was a heaven or a hell. If these are Christians, I want no such religion as this. So that if Christians live right or wrong, sinners are not satisfied. Of if there is a mixture of good and evil in their lives, they are no better pleased. If sometimes Christians are awake, and at other times asleep; if sometimes they do their duty, and at other times neglect it, sinners say, that their inconsistency is a great stumbling-block; that they don't like this periodical religion, that is one day all zeal, and the next all coldness and death. The truth is, if they are engaged, the sinner's heart is disturbed; and if they are cold, his conscience gives sentence against them. If they are neither cold nor hot, in just as far as they are warm, their hearts oppose; and in as far as they are cool, their consciences condemn, and who can please them?


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Robert Wurtz II

 2005/2/24 12:05Profile
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 Re:

God Cannot Please Sinners (Part 13)
Charles G. Finney

Again. Sinners are displeased if the church exercise discipline, and turn out unworthy members; and they are also displeased if they do not do it. If a church suffer disorderly and wicked persons in their communion, their consciences are opposed to this. They say these church members are all hypocrites, to sanction such conduct as this. What! have fellowship with such persons? The church can never prosper while they retain in their communion such hypocrites. By having fellowship with them, they show that they approve their deeds. But if on the other hand, the church rise up and excommunicate these offending members, then their hearts are disturbed. They maintain that the church are persecuting some of its best members. They think that the proceedings of the church are very uncharitable to deal thus with persons who, for aught they can see, are as good as any persons in the church. Cases of this kind have occurred, where the excommunicated members have been advised, by the ungodly, to prosecute the church for slander. The truth is, that while sinners continue to be so inconsistent with themselves, nothing upon the subject of religion can please them. What is right offends their hearts; and what is wrong offends their consciences.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2005/2/24 14:28Profile
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 Re:

God Cannot Please Sinners (Part 14)
Charles G. Finney

I shall conclude this subject with several remarks.

1st. From what has been said, you can see why it is that sinners find it impossible to rest in any form of error, until their consciences become seared as with a hot iron. It is affecting to see how many persons there are, who are making continual efforts to hide themselves behind some refuge of lies. These errors are congenial to their feelings, and they want to believe them; and in the excitement of debate, or in view of some glowing exhibition of their error, when it is exhibited, as if it were sober truth, they feel as if they did believe it, and while the excitement lasts, they seem to rest in it. But when the tumult of feeling subsides, and an enlightened conscience can gain a hearing, it gives forth the sentence of condemnation against their favourite heresy. Conscience comes forth and writes "falsehood" upon the very head and front of it. This leads the heart to mutiny, and an internal struggle and war is created, from which it would seem that the sinner can only escape by working himself into such an excitement as to lose sight of Scripture and reason and common sense, and thus, in the wild uproar of his tumultuous feelings, drown the voice of conscience, and for the time being feel measurably quiet in his sins. Thus you will see Universalists, and errorists of almost every description courting debate; they seem to be unhappy unless they can be engaged in some exciting conversation that will drown the voice of conscience. But until, by utter violence, they have put conscience to silence, they can never rest quietly in any form of error when they have been rightly instructed. It is in vain for them to expect to bring an enlightened conscience to take sides against truth, and against God. God has not left himself without a witness in the sinner's breast; and however much his warring passions, and his desperate heart, may mutiny against high heaven, he may rest assured that conscience will write out, and sign and seal his death-warrant; and often in anticipation of coming retribution, hand him over to the executioner of eternal justice.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2005/2/24 16:00Profile
RobertW
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 Re:

God Cannot Please Sinners (Part 15)
Charles G. Finney

Again. You can see, from this subject, why it is that sinners will at one time praise, and at another censure the same thing. There is a sinner goes to hear a minister preach who daubs with untempered mortar; whose velvet lips utter the honeyed words of deceitfulness and guile; who puts darkness for light, and light for darkness; who makes falsehood appear like truth, and truth like falsehood; and whose flowing eloquence is like one who has a pleasant voice, and can play well upon an instrument. He conceals the sinner's danger. He says nothing of his guilt. ["]He strengthens the hands of the wicked, that he shall not turn from his wicked way, by promising him life." O, says the sinner, what a charming preacher. His feelings are enlisted; he is almost in a rapture. He goes home pouring forth the most enthusiastic commendations of the sermon. But let his feelings subside; let him have time for reflection; and when he has thought, he will change his tune: and when speaking the sober dictates of his conscience, he will condemn the preacher and his sermon, as calculated to bewitch and deceive, rather than to reform and save.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2005/2/24 17:38Profile
RobertW
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 Re:

God Cannot Please Sinners (Part 16)
Charles G. Finney


Again. Let him hear a minister who brings the truth of God to bear with the most impressive pungency upon the hearts and consciences of men, and his heart rises in rebellion; and while under the excitement, he will pour out execrations upon the minister and his sermon, and declare that he will never hear him preach again. He is ready to quarrel with every body that will justify the sermon or the preacher. But let him have time to cool; let the lawless perturbations of his bosom cease; let conscience gain a hearing, and you will find him speaking a different language. Let the same preacher have an appointment in his neighbourhood, and you will find him at the house of God. He will say, after all, I may as well go; the man preached the truth, and I may as well hear it as not. Though I was angry at his doctrine, I cannot but respect his honesty; I will go once more and hear what he has to say. Now, in one of these cases, the sinner speaks the language of his heart, and in the other the language of his conscience.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2005/2/25 13:27Profile
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 Re:

God Cannot Please Sinners (Part 17)
Charles G. Finney


II. From this subject, you can see that a minister whose preaching pleases the hearts of sinners, cannot commend himself to their consciences in the sight of God. Many ministers seem to aim at conciliating the feelings of the impenitent part of their congregation. They seem to consider it an evidence of their wisdom and prudence, that their preaching has so much favour with the ungodly. Now, let these sinners be converted, and they will lose their confidence in such a minister. Their consciences, if enlightened, have never been satisfied with him. They have praised his preaching, and loved to hear him, because he has commended himself to their hearts, and not because he has commended himself to their consciences. If, then, they are ever truly converted, and their hearts are brought over to take sides with their conscience, it is highly probable that they will go away and join some other congregation, if another is within their reach; and where in such cases they do not do this, there is reason to fear that they are not truly converted. But where a minister preaches to the conscience, and sinners get angry and go away, if ever they are converted they will desire to come back again, and sit under the preaching that used so to disturb them while in their sins.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2005/2/26 12:37Profile
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 Re:

God Cannot Please Sinners (Part 18)
Charles G. Finney

III. From this subject you can see, that where Christians try to gain influence with sinners, by bringing down their religion so as to conciliate their feelings while in their sins, they will never, by this kind of influence, do the sinner any good. For while, by this course, they please the heart of sinners, their consciences condemn them; and while their consciences condemn the course they take, it is impossible that this course should do them any good.

Many persons are attempting to gain influence with people in high life, by imitating them, and conforming their lives and habits and equipage, to their taste and mode of living. In this way they seem to think that they shall gain access to them, and influence over them. But it is certain, that the access and influence they will thus gain, will never do the sinner any good; because this whole course of conduct by which this influence is gained, is condemned by the sinner's conscience. It is not a religious, but a worldly influence, that is thus gained. It is not a sanctified, but a sinful influence. And instead of giving the person's character, who takes this course, weight, as a Christian, it has directly the opposite effect; and destroys the confidence of the sinner that he is a Christian. By taking this proud and worldly course to gain influence, he may conciliate the sinner's feelings, and commend himself to his heart, but the sinner's conscience repels and condemns him.


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