The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY
To the Editor of The Oberlin Evangelist
c. September 1843
[Published in The Oberlin Evangelist, 13 September 1843, p. 151]
For The Oberlin Evangelist.
DR. EMMONS ON ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION.
DEAR BROTHER:&endash; Will you give the extract below, from Emmons, a place in the Evangelist? It is from his sermon on "progress of saints for the constant exercise of holy affections." Coming from such a source, it may induce a certain class of opposers of Entire Sanctification, at least, to reconsider some of their objections and arguments. That Emmons maintained and believed the doctrine of sinless perfection, and that Christians do "sometimes love God supremely, and serve Him with a perfect heart, and the whole heart;" his own testimony places beyond all manner of doubt. I do not say he believed Christians do attain permanent sanctification, but he affirmed this state attainable, and the consequent obligation of attaining it. C. G. F.
"If the hearts of saints, (as he has before proved,) consists altogether in free, voluntary exercise, then they ought to be perfectly holy in this life. For if they ought to have one holy exercise, then they ought to have another, and another in a constant, uninterrupted succession. They have no right to exercise one selfish, sinful affection. And they are just as capable of exercising good affections as bad affections. Accordingly, God requires them to love Him supremely and constantly, and forbids them to exercise one single selfish affection. He does not indeed require them to put away any bad principles, for He knows they have no bad principles to put away; nor does He require them to cultivate, cherish, or improve any good principle, for He knows He has never implanted any good principle in them. But He does require them, 'to cease to do evil, and learn to do well;' to cease to set their affections on things below, and to set them on things above. He does require them to serve Him with a perfect heart, and with all the heart; and He does condemn them whenever they do not serve Him with a perfect heart. That is, He requires them always to exercise holy affections, and forbids them to exercise unholy affections. And this is the same thing as to require them to be perfectly holy in this life.
The reason why many suppose that even good men are not bound to be perfectly holy, is, that they have derived a sinful principle from Adam, which they are under a natural inability to remove, and which no holy affection can destroy. But this is an unfounded and unscriptural opinion. They have no corrupt or depraved principle; they have only corrupt, sinful, and selfish affections, which they might entirely remove from their hearts by the exercise of holy affections. They are, therefore, inexcusable for not putting away all their moral depravity, and becoming perfectly holy. All their remaining depravity is voluntary depravity, which they might entirely banish from their hearts, by the constant voluntary exercise of pure and holy love. It is their constant and indispensable duty to keep themselves always in the love of God, and continually exercise perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord. There is nothing to hinder them from attaining sinless perfection, but their voluntary neglect of exercising the same holy affections at all times, which they do actually and cheerfully exercise at sometimes. * * * * *
Every exercise of holiness, is perfect holiness. Every exercise of true love is perfect love. Every exercise of true faith is perfect faith. And every exercise of true submission is perfect submission. The precepts of the gospel therefore, require perfect holiness of the law."