The Oberlin Evangelist
June 5, 1850
The article which follows, copied from the New York Evangelist, can not fail to interest those of our readers who are not already familiar with the facts which it details. For ourselves, such cases always serve to impress our mind strongly with the power, the wisdom, and the riches of divine grace.--ED.
EARLY LIFE OF C. G. FINNEY
Mr. Editor:--Having sojourned awhile, almost within sight of the birth-place of Charles G. Finney, with my domicil on the very hill where, beneath the shade of forest trees, he gave his heart to God, I send you a few facts concerning that remarkable man, whose enemies have been many, and whose friends "are neither few nor cold-hearted."
His father was a plain farmer. On reaching manhood he left the parental estate, and commenced the study of law in this village. He also led the choir in the Presbyterian church. His clear intellect and independence of character, gave him a commanding influence over the youth of the place. He was intellectually orthodox on the great doctrines of revelation, but impenitent and careless. His views of Christian duty were so vivid, that he poured contempt on the apathy of the church. A fellow-student (now Judge W----) remarked to me recently, that Finney asked him one evening to attend a prayer meeting. They went, and upon their return, Mr. F. said with an oath, that it made him indignant to hear Christians pray after that fashion--"they didn't know what they wanted." He often told professors of religion and clergymen that they were not sincere--that it was not possible to believe that he and others were on the verge of hell, and yet be so indifferent to the terrific fact--and assured them, if he ever served God, it would be in earnest--he would "pull men out of the fire." This fearless manner gave him tremendous power, and one minister remarked that the young people would not be converted while Finney was here. But during the revival of 1821, he was reached by the truth of God--in an agony of conviction, he retired to a grove alone, and yielded to the Spirit. Returning to his office, he invited Dea. B. to come in; and with tears and smiles of rapture, told him what had transpired. When it was known in the place, many seemed to feel like the disciples when Saul was converted--they were in doubt. When he arose in the crowded sanctuary soon after, his first expression was, "My God! is it I?" He acted immediately on his former assurance. No modern Christian ever more literally exemplified Paul's experience, who warned men day and night with tears. This has ever been his manner of life, from that time of consecration to the Lord. His way of conducting meetings was always solemn; he never appealed to the animal feelings; his dependence was prayer, and a pungent presentation of God's law and man's ruin, without hope but in the arms of a Mediator. Mr. F. doubtless, had faults--some eccentricities, but they were those of a man who was thoroughly penetrated with a sense of eternal realities. Heaven and hell were words full of meaning to him. We find everywhere noble monuments of his labors in the gospel--the pillars in many a Zion, will call him blessed at the last day. And doubtless a rank of professed disciples, and among them not a few ministers, who have ignorantly or malignantly reproached him, will gaze there upon his radiant crown with wonder, while their own will be set with comparatively a few stars of rejoicing.
Adams, Jeff. Co., N.Y., May, 1850
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