Lectures to Professing Christians

Author: Charles G. Finney


1. See why so little is accomplished in the world for Jesus Christ.

It is because there are so few that do anything for it. It is because Jesus Christ has so few real servants in the world. How many professors do you suppose there are in this church, or in your whole acquaintance, that are really at work for God, and making a business of religion, and laying themselves out to advance the kingdom of Christ? The reason why religion advances no faster is, that there are so few to advance it, and so many to hinder it. You see a parcel of people at a fire, trying to get out the goods of a store. Some are determined to get out the goods, but the rest are not engaged about it, and they divert their attention by talking about other things, or positively hinder them by finding fault with their way of doing it, or by holding them back. So it is in the church. Those who are desirous of doing the work are greatly hindered by the backwardness, the cavils, and the positive resistance of the rest.

2. See why so few Christians have the spirit of prayer. How can they have the spirit of prayer? What should God give them the spirit of prayer for? Suppose a man engaged in his worldly schemes, and that God should give that man the spirit of prayer. Of course he would pray for that which lies nearest his heart; that is, for success in his worldly schemes, to serve his own gods with. Will God give him the spirit of prayer for such purpose? — Never. Let him go to his own gods for a spirit of prayer, out let him not expect Jehovah to bestow the spirit of prayer, while he is serving his own gods.

3. You see that there are a multitude of professors, of religion that have not begun to be religious yet.

Said a man to one of them, Do you feel that your property and your business are all God’s, and do you hold and manage them for God? "O, no," said he, "I have not got so far as that yet." Not got so far as that! That man had been a professor of religion for years, and yet had not got so far as to consider his property, and business, and all that he had, as belonging to God! No doubt he was serving his own gods. For I insist upon it, that this is the very beginning of religion. What is conversion, but turning from the service of the world to the service of God? And yet this man had not found out that he was God’s servant. And he seemed to think he was getting a great way in religion, to feel that all he had was the Lord’s.

4. It is great dishonesty for persons to profess to serve the Lord, and yet in reality serve themselves.

You who are performing religious duties from selfish motives are in reality trying to make God your servant. If your own interest be the supreme object, all your religious services are only desires to induce God to promote your interests. Why do you pray, or keep the Sabbath, or give your property for religious objects? You answer, "For the sake of promoting my own salvation." Indeed! Not to glorify God, but to get to heaven! Do not you think the devil would do all that, if he thought he could gain his end by it — and be a devil still? The highest style of selfishness must be to get God with all his attributes, enlisted in the service of your mighty self.

And now, my hearers, where are you all? Are you serving Jehovah, or are you serving your own gods? How have you been doing these six months that I have been absent? Have you done anything for God? Have you been living as servants of God? Is Satan’s kingdom weakened by what you have done? Could you say now, "Come with me, and I will show you this and that sinner converted, or this and that backslider reclaimed, or this and that weak saint strengthened and aided?" Could you bring living witnesses of what you have done in the service of God? Or would your answer be, "I have been to meeting regularly on the Sabbath, and heard a great deal of good preaching, and I have generally attended the prayer meetings, and we had some precious meetings, and I have prayed in my family, and twice or thrice a day in my closet, and read the Bible." And in all that you have been merely passive, as to anything done for God. You have feared the Lord, and served your own gods.

"Yes, but I have sold so many goods, and made so much money, of which I intend to give a tenth to the missionary cause." Who hath required this at your hand, instead of saving souls? Going to send the gospel to the heathen, and letting sinners right under your own eyes go down to hell! Be not deceived. If you loved souls, in you were engaged to serve God, you would think of souls here, and do the work of God here. What should we think of a missionary going to the heathen, who had never said a word to sinners around him at home? Does he love souls? There is burlesque in the idea of sending such a man to the heathen. The man that will do nothing at home is not fit to go to the heathen. And he that pretends to be getting money for missions while he will not try to save sinners here, is an outrageous hypocrite.


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Chicago: Charles G. Finney, "Remarks," Lectures to Professing Christians in Lectures to Professing Christians (Oberlin, Ohio: E. J. Goodrich, 1878), Original Sources, accessed October 1, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=L7TNIZCEYFNIPN8.

MLA: Finney, Charles G. "Remarks." Lectures to Professing Christians, in Lectures to Professing Christians, Oberlin, Ohio, E. J. Goodrich, 1878, Original Sources. 1 Oct. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=L7TNIZCEYFNIPN8.

Harvard: Finney, CG, 'Remarks' in Lectures to Professing Christians. cited in 1878, Lectures to Professing Christians, E. J. Goodrich, Oberlin, Ohio. Original Sources, retrieved 1 October 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=L7TNIZCEYFNIPN8.