The following quotes are from Charles G. Finney’s Lectures on Systematic Theology, one-volume edition, published in 1878 by E. J. Goodrich; republished in 1994 by Bethany House Publishers, 6820 Auto Club Road, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55438 (Link to Chapter 10 in J.W Jepson’s book, “It All Adds Up To Love” : https://www.gospeltruth.net/jepson_love.htm#10):
“Moral depravity consists in selfishness, or in the choice of self-interest, self-gratification, or self-indulgence as an end. Consequently it cannot consist in a sinful constitution or in a constitutional…craving for sin. Moral depravity is sin itself, and not the cause of sin.
“To talk of a sinful nature… is to ascribe sinfulness to the Creator, who is the author of nature.
“It is a monstrous and blasphemous dogma that a holy God is angry with any creature for possessing a nature with which he was sent into being without his knowledge or consent.
“If sin necessarily implies a sinful nature, how did Adam and Eve sin? How did angels sin? Had they also a sinful nature?
“Can we not account for Eve eating the forbidden fruit without supposing that she had a craving for sin? Her craving was for the fruit, for knowledge, and not for sin. This led to prohibited indulgence. All men sin in precisely the same way. They consent to gratify, not a craving for sin, but a craving for other things, and the consent to make self-gratification an end is the whole of sin.
“I object to the doctrine of constitutional sinfulness that it makes all sin, original and actual, a mere calamity, and not a crime.
“Upon this supposition, the law is tyranny and the gospel an insult to the unfortunate.
“What! Create them with a sinful nature, from which proceed by a law of necessity actual transgressions, and then send them to an eternal hell for having this nature, and for transgressions that are unavoidable! Impossible!
“The Bible…intimates that Adam’s first sin has in some way been the occasion, not the necessary physical cause, of all the sins of men.
“James says that a man is tempted when he is drawn aside of his own lusts and enticed …. Paul and other inspired writers represent sin as consisting in a carnal or fleshly mind,… in minding the flesh.
“The representations of Scripture are that the body is the occasion of sin. The law in his members, that warred against the law of his mind, of which Paul speaks [Romans 7] is manifestly the impulse of the sensibility opposed to the law of the reason.
“Selfish choice is the wicked heart …. This sinful choice is properly enough called indwelling sin.
“Moral depravity in our first parents was induced by temptation….All moral depravity commences in substantially the same way. The impulses of the sensibility are developed gradually… from… birth. The first acts of will are in obedience to these. A habit of self-indulgence is formed. When reason affirms moral obligation, it finds the will in a state of… committal to the impulses of the sensibility.
“Selfishness confirms, strengthens and perpetuates itself …. It grows with the sinner’s growth, strengthens with his strength, and will do so forever unless overcome by the Holy Spirit through the truth.
“The constitution of a moral being as a whole, when all the powers are developed, does not tend to sin, but strongly in an opposite direction. When reason is thoroughly developed by the Holy Spirit, it is more than a match for the sensibility, and turns the heart to God. The Holy Spirit reveals God and the spiritual world,… so as to give reason the control of the will. This is regeneration and sanctification.”
A question, for the reader, just occurred to me: Have you ever heard the name, Charles Finney, where you go to church? -Freeman