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YOUR REASONING PUT IN SYLLOGIS
That the Spirit of inspiration Whatever state was prayed for prayed for the entire sanctification by the Spirit of inspiration, Christof believers in this life, is no evi-ians may aim at with a rational dence that an answer to this prayer hope of attaining: the Spirit of inmay be expected by saints in this spiration prayed for the entire sanclife. Paul, under the spirit of in- tification of saints in this life: therespiration, did pray for the entire fore, Christians may aim at this sanctification of the saints in this attainment with the expectation of life. Therefore, this prayer is no success. evidence that saints may aim at being entirely sanctified in this life, with a rational hope of being so sanctified.
Again That Christ has made it the universal duty of saints to pray for the entire sanctification of Christians in this life, is no evidence that they may offer this prayer, with a rational expectation of being answered. Christ has made it the universal duty of Chris
Again: Whatever state Christians are required to pray for in this life, they may pray for with the expectation of being heard and answered. Christians are required to pray for a state of entire sanctification in this life. Therefore, they may pray for this attainment tians to pray for entire sanctifica- | with the expectation of being heard tion in this life.-Therefore, this and answered in this life. is no evidence that they may offer this prayer with the rational hope of being heard and answered.
Now brethren, whose logic is most conclusive?
III. In one paragraph of your report you admit and deny at the same breath, that entire sanctification is promised in this life. You
"It is a glorious truth, that God has promised to all believers a final victory over sin, which undoubtedly will be accomplished in some period of their history. But does it follow, that because believers are to be perfectly sanctified at sometime and somewhere, the present life will be the time and place of this perfect sanctification? Let a promise be adduced, if it can be, that fixes the period of this event to the present life. The divine promises, like the provisions of the gospel, are conditioned as to the degree of their results, by appropriative acts on the part of the believer. Hence, the fallacy of the argument is apparent, in that it takes for granted that some believers in the present life do fully comply with all the conditions contemplated in the promises themselves. Without this assumption it proves nothing."
In the first part of this paragraph, you deny that God, anywhere in the Bible, promises a state of entire sanctification in this life, and request that one promise be adduced, that fixes this event to the present life. And then you seem immediately to admit that the blessing is promised, on the connition of "appropriative acts on the part of the believer." This you must intend to admit, inasmuch as you have before admitted that "should a believer avail himself of all the resources of
the gospel," he might make this attainment." Certainly you will not pretend to have any authority for such an admission, unless the promises when fairly interpreted do proffer such a state to christians upon condition of "appropriative acts." How shall we understand such a denial and admission at the same breath as this paragraph contains?
But you request that one promise may be adduced that fixes the pe riod of entire sanctification to the present life, I might quote many; but as you ask for only one, I will quote one, and the one, a part of which you have quoted-1 Thess. 2: 23, 24; "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."
That this prayer and promise relate to this life, I think cannot consistently be questioned. The prayer is that the "body," as well as the "spirit and soul," be wholly sanctified, and "be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Then the promise-"Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it." Does not this relate to this life?
IV. You deny that christians can know that they are in a state of entire sanctification.
You say "If a case of perfection were admitted to be real, still it is impossible, in the present state of our faculties, to find it, and predicate certain knowledge of it."
Here, assuming as you do that the main proposition respects the fact of actual attainment, you insist that this fact, did such cases exist, would be entirely insusceptible of proof. Indeed! Does God command man to do what he cannot know that he does, even if he does it? This would be passing strange. You admit that God requires men to be entirely sanctified-condemns them if they are not-but yet deny that they could know that they obeyed, if they did. This would indeed be a singular requirement-to command a man on pain of eternal death to do that which he could not possibly know that he did, even if he did it. This denial of ability to know, whether we are in a state of entire sanctification, is a total denial of the doctrine of natural ability as I presume it is held by every member of your body. Do not every one of you, my brethren, hold that natural ability to obey a command is the sine qua non of moral obligation to obey it? Do not you hold that a man cannot be under a moral obligation to do what he cannot understandto use a power which he does not know himself to possess-to employ his faculties in any kind or degree of service which he cannot know to be his duty? Now if a man does all that he is able to know himself capable of doing, is he under a moral obligation to do anything more? And if he is unable to know that he falls short of his duty, does he fall short of it? Brethren, will you give us light upon this subject? Do you, will you seriously maintain that a man is naturally unable to know whether he obeys the commands of God, and yet, that he is condemned and liable to be damned for coming short, when he could not know that he came short? Brethren, will you maintain this? It con
V. Your answer to our proof texts is a very summary one. sists simply in affirming that we have misapplied them-that we regard certain terms as proofs of perfection, which are only distinctive of Christian character, and, that we interpret them in an absolute and
unrestricted sense-without so much as naming one of them. You have indeed, quoted one passage, and affirmed that a better proof text cannot well be conceived.' But we have never regarded nor quoted it as a proof text at all. Your disposal of our proof texts is really a short hand method of getting over them. But there was one difficulty in the way of your quoting and answering them, which was-that had you quoted them, it would have appeared to every body, that they were used by us to prove another proposition than that which you were controverting.
VI. Our arguments in support of the fact of attainment, you have passed over, almost in silence. At the same time, you have taken our arguments adduced to prove the practical attainability, and replied to them as if adduced to prove the fact of actual attainment. Brethren, we think we have reason to feel grieved with this.
VII. You find yourselves obliged to be exceedingly indefinite in regard to the measure of attainment which Christians may rationally hope to make in this life. You say "the question is not whether it is the duty and privilege of the church to rise much higher in holy living than it has ever yet done in this world." Now, brethren, I ask how much higher attainments Christians may make in this world than they have ever yet made? This is, with us, and must be with the church, a question of all-absorbing interest. Do you answer to this question, that Christians may make indefinitely higher attainments than they have yet made? I ask again, on what authority is this affirmation made? Do you argue it from the fact that the gospel has promised sufficient grace to Christians on condition of appropriative acts, to secure in them a higher state of holiness than has yet been attained? But if Christians may rationally hope to attain a higher state of holiness than has ever yet been attained, by appropriating to themselves promises which proffer entire sanctification in this life, why may they not rationally aim at attaining all that the gospel has promised to them? Brethren, will you answer this question?
Appended to your report is a resolution, expressing “regret and sorrow at the ground taken on this subject by the Theological Professors at Oberlin." Will you permit us to reciprocate your regret and sorrow, and express our deep grief that the Presbytery of Troy have taken such ground upon this subject, and so misapprehended, and of course misrepresented the arguments of their brethren?
I must close this communication with a few
1. We admit you had a right to take issue with us on the question of actual attainment, if you were dissatisfied with our course of argument on that position. But you had no right to represent our argument in support of another position, as you have done. You had no right to represent our argument in favor of the practical attainability, as having been adduced in support of the fact of actual attainment. This you have done, and by so doing, you have done your brethren and the cause of truth great injustice.
2. To what I have said in this article, you may reply, that you never denied the practical attainability of a state of entire sanctification, and
that, therefore, on that question, you have no controversy with us. Why then, my brethren, did you not admit, that in our main position you agree with us, and that you only deny one of the arguments by which we attempted to support that position? This, as Christian men, you were bound to do. But instead of this, you have said nothing about admitting our main position; but made the transfer of our arguments from the support of our proposition to the support of the one upon which you take issue, and thus represent our logic as absurd and ridiculous.
We shall be happy to discuss the question of actual attainment with our brethren, when they ingenuously admit that the main position we have taken, (namely, the practical attainability of a state of entire sanctification in this life,) is a truth of the Bible.
3. Permit me to ask, my brethren, what opponent or course of argument might not be rendered ridiculous by the course you have taken— that is, by stating another proposition than that intended to be supported, and then representing the whole course of argument as intended to support the substituted proposition?
4. Should you say that your report was not intended as a reply to our argument, I ask, who has ever argued in support of this doctrine in the manner you represent? Who ever inferred, that because men have natural power to obey God, therefore they do obey Him? I have read with attention almost every thing that has come to hand upon this subject, and 1 never saw or heard of any such mode of argumentation as that to which you profess to reply.
5. Will your Presbytery, in reply to what I have written, excuse themselves by saying, that their treatinent of our argument was an oversight— that they had supposed us to reason in the way they have represented us as reasoning? To this I must reply, that you were bound to understand our argument before you replied to it, in your public or any other capacity. And especially were you under this obligation, inasmuch as I had twice written to a leading member of your body, beseeching him, in the bowels of Christian love, to examine this subject, and to be sure he did it in a spiritual frame of mind, before he committed himself at all upon the question,
6. Will you, dear brethren, permit me to ask how long the opposers of the doctrine of entire sanctification in this life, expect to retain the confidence of the church, and prevent their understanding and believing this doctrine, by such a course of procedure as this? You are no doubt aware that your course is not a novel one, but that it has been substantially pursued by several other opposers of this doctrine.
And now beloved brethren in the Lord, do not understand me as entering into a war of words with you, or as entertaining the least unkind feeling in my heart towards you. I most cheerfully leave to your deliberate and prayerful consideration, the remarks I have freely made on your report. I cannot however refrain from saying, that when I saw the name of one whom I greatly loved, and with whom I had often taken sweet counsel, attached to that report, my heart felt a kind of spontaneous gushing, and I almost involuntarily exclaimed," El tu Brute!” Yours in the bonds of Christian love,
C. G. FINNEY,
472 RECENT DISCUSSIONS ON ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION. [MAY,
Since these replies were published, nothing worthy of notice has appeared in opposition to them that has fallen under my observation, but the policy seems to have been adopted of preventing further inquiry upon the subject. Nevertheless the agitation of the question in the minds and hearts of private Christians and of many ministers is going steadily and in many places rapidly forward, as I have good reason to know. Indeed it is manifest that there is increasing light and interest upon the subject, and it is beginning, or I should say fast coming to be better understood and its truthfulness and its importance appreciated. No thanks however are due to some of the leading journalists of the day if this blessed and glorious truth be not hunted from the world as most pernicious error. Nothing could have been more unfair and unjust than the course pursued by some of them has been. May the blessed Lord bring them to see their error and forgive them, not laying this sin to their charge.
It may doubtless appear unaccountable to the public in general, both in this country and elsewhere, that no objection was made to the doctrine of entire sanctification when published in the New York Evangelist, and afterwards in the form of a volume and so extensively circulated, and that the same doctrine should excite so much alarm when published in the Oberlin Evangelist. It may also appear strange that such pains should have been taken to confound our views with antinomian perfectionists, when every one can see that there is no more analogy between their views, as set forth in their Confession of Faith, and our views, than between them and any thing else. This they have all along alledged, and consequently have been amongst our bitterest opposers. Perhaps it is not best that the public should be made acquainted with the springs of influence that have stirred up and put in motion all this hurricane of ecclesiastical andtheological opposition to Oberlin. It is unpleasant to us to name and disclose it, and perhaps the cause of truth does not at present, at least, demand it.