To Sherlock Bristol

c. 1843


[Published in Sherlock Bristol, The Pioneer Preacher (Chicago: Fleming H. Revell, 1898), pp. 120-21.]


The trustees and faculty of Oberlin College voted me a call to a soliciting agency for the college. Its finances were in a sad condition. For near two years the salaries of the professors had been unpaid. They had been obliged to run up heavy bills for food and clothing at the stores, hoping that money would come, but it did not. ... But the prospect of raising money was truly dismal. There were two reasons for this: First, the financial distress and almost general bankruptcy of the country. Second, the immense prejudice against Oberlin. To go out as its advocate and agent asking money, had just then a most forbidding aspect. I declined the call because I had little confidence in my ability to persuade men to give money, and also because I was enthusiastic in my attachment to the work of preaching the Gospel. Some letters passed between us, I still declining. At last there came a letter signed by President Mahan, Professor Finney and all the other professors, saying, "If you still refuse to act as our agent, and no one else competent undertakes it, within ---- days, we shall each and all resign our places and give up the enterprise in despair." This was too much for me, and I wrote back at once: "Dear Brethren and Fathers! stay where you are and abide at your posts. Help will come I know. I will go and do what I can. Oberlin is worth a thousand lives like mine." So I left the dear flocks of my love, moved my family to Oberlin and went out as their agent.