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Phila delphia > Communion with God-- No. 1 by Charles G. Finney from "The Oberlin Evangelist"

The Oberlin Evangelist

Lecture XVII
Communion with God-- No. 1

Charles G. Finney

Charles G. Finney

A Voice from the Philadelphian Church Age

  Wisdom is Justified

by Charles Grandison Finney

Public Domain Text
Reformatted by Katie Stewart

from "The Oberlin Evangelist"
August 26, 1840

Lecture XVII.

by the Rev. C. G. Finney

Text.--2 Cor. 13:14: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen."

In discussing this subject, I shall--

I. Consider the meaning of the term communion.

II. What is implied in communion with the Holy Ghost.

III. How we may know whether and when we have communion with God.

IV. The value and importance of communion with God.

V. How to secure and perpetuate it.

I. Meaning of the term Communion as used in the Bible.

It sometimes means friendly intercourse, as in Gen. 18:33: "And the Lord went his way, as soon as He had left COMMUNING with Abraham." Sometimes it means counsel, advice, and instruction; 1 Kings 10:2: "She came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold and precious stones; and when she was come to Solomon, she COMMUNED with him of all that was in her heart." It is the same term in the original that is rendered fellowship in Phil. 2:1: "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any FELLOWSHIP of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies." And 1 John 1:3: "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye may also have FELLOWSHIP with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." To commune with God, then, is to have fellowship with Him, friendly intercourse, consultation, advice, instruction.

II. What is implied in communion with the Holy Ghost.

III. How we may know whether and when we have communion with God.

In such cases the soul seeks to be alone with God. It naturally follows, crying after God, and its desires are like a liquid stream, flowing and flowing; and as he is on his way to some retired spot, or upon his knees in his closet, or perhaps in the night season upon his bed, "his heart and his flesh cry out for God, for the living God." From the deep bottom of his heart, his soul cries out, "Father, Father," and repeats and echoes, over and over, all the dear names, the titles, and relations of God; and his soul seems to be all liquid, and flowing, and gushing, and drawn into the deep waters of his love.

Now there are many degrees of this kind of communion with God, when the scriptures are so opened up to the mind, and so understood, and its truths so apprehended, and appear to the soul so glorious and ravishing, as to swallow up in a greater or less degree, the thoughts, attention, and whole being.

I must omit the remaining heads of this discourse till my next.


of easily misunderstood terms as defined by Mr. Finney himself.
Compiled by Katie Stewart

  1. Complacency, or Esteem: "Complacency, as a state of will or heart, is only benevolence modified by the consideration or relation of right character in the object of it. God, prophets, apostles, martyrs, and saints, in all ages, are as virtuous in their self-denying and untiring labours to save the wicked, as they are in their complacent love to the saints." Systematic Theology (LECTURE VII). Also, "approbation of the character of its object. Complacency is due only to the good and holy." Lectures to Professing Christians (LECTURE XII).

  2. Disinterested Benevolence: "By disinterested benevolence I do not mean, that a person who is disinterested feels no interest in his object of pursuit, but that he seeks the happiness of others for its own sake, and not for the sake of its reaction on himself, in promoting his own happiness. He chooses to do good because he rejoices in the happiness of others, and desires their happiness for its own sake. God is purely and disinterestedly benevolent. He does not make His creatures happy for the sake of thereby promoting His own happiness, but because He loves their happiness and chooses it for its own sake. Not that He does not feel happy in promoting the happiness of His creatures, but that He does not do it for the sake of His own gratification." Lectures to Professing Christians (LECTURE I).

  3. Divine Sovereignty: "The sovereignty of God consists in the independence of his will, in consulting his own intelligence and discretion, in the selection of his end, and the means of accomplishing it. In other words, the sovereignty of God is nothing else than infinite benevolence directed by infinite knowledge." Systematic Theology (LECTURE LXXVI).

  4. Election: "That all of Adam's race, who are or ever will be saved, were from eternity chosen by God to eternal salvation, through the sanctification of their hearts by faith in Christ. In other words, they are chosen to salvation by means of sanctification. Their salvation is the end- their sanctification is a means. Both the end and the means are elected, appointed, chosen; the means as really as the end, and for the sake of the end." Systematic Theology (LECTURE LXXIV).

  5. Entire Sanctification: "Sanctification may be entire in two senses: (1.) In the sense of present, full obedience, or entire consecration to God; and, (2.) In the sense of continued, abiding consecration or obedience to God. Entire sanctification, when the terms are used in this sense, consists in being established, confirmed, preserved, continued in a state of sanctification or of entire consecration to God." Systematic Theology (LECTURE LVIII).

  6. Moral Agency: "Moral agency is universally a condition of moral obligation. The attributes of moral agency are intellect, sensibility, and free will." Systematic Theology (LECTURE III).

  7. Moral Depravity: "Moral depravity is the depravity of free-will, not of the faculty itself, but of its free action. It consists in a violation of moral law. Depravity of the will, as a faculty, is, or would be, physical, and not moral depravity. It would be depravity of substance, and not of free, responsible choice. Moral depravity is depravity of choice. It is a choice at variance with moral law, moral right. It is synonymous with sin or sinfulness. It is moral depravity, because it consists in a violation of moral law, and because it has moral character." Systematic Theology (LECTURE XXXVIII).

  8. Human Reason: "the intuitive faculty or function of the intellect... it is the faculty that intuits moral relations and affirms moral obligation to act in conformity with perceived moral relations." Systematic Theology (LECTURE III).

  9. Retributive Justice: "Retributive justice consists in treating every subject of government according to his character. It respects the intrinsic merit or demerit of each individual, and deals with him accordingly." Systematic Theology (LECTURE XXXIV).

  10. Total Depravity: "Moral depravity of the unregenerate is without any mixture of moral goodness or virtue, that while they remain unregenerate, they never in any instance, nor in any degree, exercise true love to God and to man." Systematic Theology (LECTURE XXXVIII).

  11. Unbelief: "the soul's withholding confidence from truth and the God of truth. The heart's rejection of evidence, and refusal to be influenced by it. The will in the attitude of opposition to truth perceived, or evidence presented." Systematic Theology (LECTURE LV).


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