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Charles G. Finney
(29/08/1792 - 16/8/1875)




Professor Of Didactic, Polemic, And Pastoral Theology, In The Oberlin Collegiate Institute

VOL 1.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in 1840, by
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Ohio.

[Created and used With His Students by Prof. Finney from 1840 and Thereafter]

[This Text is The 1840 First Edition]




I. Define the study upon which you are about to enter.

II. Notice some of the requisite personal qualifications for this study.

III. Some of the advantages to be derived from the study of Systematic Theology.

IV. Some things to be avoided.


I. Define the study upon which you are about to enter.

1. Theology is the science of God, and of divine things. It teaches the existence, natural and moral attributes, laws, government, and whatever may be known of God, and of our relations, duties, and responsibilities to him and to the universe. In its most comprehensive sense it embraces all knowledge.

2. It may be and generally is divided into Natural and Revealed Theology.

This distinction does not imply that natural Theology is not revealed.

(1.) NATURAL THEOLOGY is that which derives its evidence from the works of God, or from nature, as it is commonly, but erroneously expressed.

(2.) REVEALED THEOLOGY is that which derives its doctrines and evidence from the Bible.

3. Theology is again subdivided into Didactic, Polemic, and Pastoral.

DIDACTIC, is the system of theological doctrines with their evidences, both of Natural and Revealed Religion.

POLEMIC, is controversial. It relates to the disputed doctrines of Theology.

It consists in the controversial maintaining of them, in opposition to their opponents.

PASTORAL, relates to the relations, duties, and responsibilities of Pastors. It consists in a judicious application of the great principles of the government of God to the Pastoral relation and office.


II. Notice some of the requisite personal qualifications for this study.

1. The ardent love of truth for its own sake.

2. The supreme and disinterested love of God.

3. An intense desire to know more of him.

4. Strong desire to make him known to others.

5. A willingness to make any personal sacrifice for this end.

6. A sense of ignorance and dependence upon divine teaching.

7. A willingness to practice as fast as you learn.

8. A fixed purpose to know and do the whole truth.

9. A state of mind that will not be diverted to make provision for the flesh.

10. Docility of mind.

11. Such humility as to be willing to expose your ignorance.

12. The love of study.

13. Sound education.

14. Industrious habits.

15. Patience and perseverance in investigation.

16. A mind so balanced as to be duly influenced by evidence.

17. Knowledge of the laws of evidence.

18. Knowledge of correct rules of biblical interpretation.

19. Knowledge of the limits of human research and investigation.


III. Some of the advantages to be derived from the study of Systematic Theology.

1. A constantly increasing sense of your own ignorance.

2. The highest advantages for growth in personal holiness.

3. The habit of rapid, correct, and consecutive thought.

4. System in thinking and communicating thought.

5. Facility in preparations for the pulpit.

6. Exactness in the statement of the doctrines of Christianity.

7. Facility in proving them.

8. Consistency of views and statements.

9. A settled state of mind in regard to religious truth.

10. Ability to teach the doctrines and duties of religion.


IV. Some things to be avoided.

1. Tempting God, by demanding an impossible or unreasonable kind or degree of evidence.

2. A caviling state of mind.

3. Defending error for the sake of argument.

4. Committing yourself to an opinion.

5. Avoid calling in question first truths.

6. Avoid attempting to prove them.

7. Avoid begging the question.

8. Avoid impatience at the ignorance or stupidity of your class-mates.

9. Avoid an ambition to excel them in study and argument,

10. Avoid a disputatious spirit.

11. Avoid stating one thing and proving another in your skeletons.

12. Avoid the use of weak and inconclusive arguments.

13. Avoid an involved method of stating your propositions.

14. Avoid stating more than you can prove.

15. Avoid leaving your propositions, until fully supported by evidence or argument.

16. Avoid the accumulation of evidence or argument after your proposition is fully established.

17. Avoid prolixity in the statement of your propositions.

18. Avoid the great error of supposing that truths which are self-evident to some minds, are so to all.


1. The study of Theology demands much prayer.

2. You will never get any effectual knowledge of Theology without the illumination of the Holy Spirit.

3. Take care that your hearts keep pace with your intellects.

4. Grieve not the Holy Spirit.


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