The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY
To Charles Prentice Tebbutt
16 December 1849
[Manuscript in Goodman Family Papers in the possession of Mr Tom Tebbutt, 6 Ann Beaumont Way, Hadleigh, Ipswich, Suffolk.]
Charles Prentice Tebbutt (1824-1910), was the son of Matthew and Mary Tebbutt, of Bluntisham. His father, who had been a farmer and landowner had died when Charles was ten years old, and Charles was now farming in Bluntisham. He came under the influence of Finney who arrived in Houghton early in November 1849. During the third week in November, Rev. Charles H. Roe, the Baptist minister of Birmingham, came over to visit. Roe had been involved in the revival movement in the Bluntisham Baptist Church in the early 1840s and knew the family well. After his return to Birmingham, Roe wrote to Finney on 26 November "May God have mercy upon Chas P. Tebbutt. O how important his conversion now." Roe then wrote a letter to Tebbutt encouraging him to give his life to God:
I need not say for I am persuaded you know it well that I have long felt a deep interest in the Spiritual welfare of your family. Formerly I thought of you only as a little boy whom I knew as the son of one whom I highly esteemed. Lately I have met you grown into a man intelligent, talented, influential. You may be sure my interest in you has considerably augmented, my desires and prayers for your salvation increased manifold. ...
There are periods in the history of each of us favourable to our turning to God when all seems to invite to it & God makes it peculiarly easy to do it. This seems to me a season of this kind. Finney's is an order of mind that no man needs to be ashamed to be influenced by. God has much honored him to the conviction decision & salvation of some of the loftiest minds in America. Why not allow his cogent reasoning to lead you finally to repentance & to faith in Christ? (Roe to Tebbutt, "Wednesday" [evidently 28 November 1849], in Goodman Family Papers. Punctuation has been edited.)
Finney went to Birmingham and started work with Roe on December 9th in his Church, and from there he wrote the following letter to Tebbutt:
Birmingham 16th 1849
We have just recd a letter
from your dear Mother & what she says
of your efforts for the salvation of
souls has brought me to a decision to
delay writing to you no longer.
I havefor some days desiring to write
to & hear from you & did confidently
expect to hear that you had made
up your mind irrespective of mere
personal considerations to do what
you can to honor God & save the
souls of men. You care for God's honor
& he will care for you. Abandon your
self & he will pick you up. Renounce
your self & he will identify your inter
est with his own. Live for others & you
can not loose yourself. Seek the good
of others & you will surely find your own.
It is an infinite mistake to suppose
that we can secure our good by living
to ourselves. Give up your life if you
would save it. Renounce yourself if
you would save self.
We were delighted to hear from your
Dear Mother. We love her for christ's
sake & do greatly rejoice with her
& with you all in view of the great
things which we trust God has
done for her own soul & for the
souls in her house.
I had a letter from Dear Mary
Goodman a few days since.
She wished me to see her Brother
Joseph. I have just spoken to him
several times. He is full of tender
feeling & weeps whenever I take him
by the hand. Let much prayer be
offered for him in your family &
I trust he will soon be converted.
Am deeply rejoiced to hear Dear
Charles that you are trying to
do something for Bluntisham
Present my kindest regards to
Br. Simmons & say to him that
my heart is with him & I trust
there is a great blessing in store for
his people. My heart would have
led me there from Houghton but
my relation to birmingham
seemed to make it duty to
first come here. The Lord is eviden
tly at work among the people here.
Can not yet speak very definitely as I
have only preached one sabbath
three week evenings & this sabbath
morning. Have appointments for this
evening & for 4 evenings in the week.
Next sabbath I must, Deo Volente
spend in Leeds, by previous engage
ment. Expect after christmas to
return here. Will you not write me
soon & tell me your "whereabouts"
Your temptation will be to unbelief.
You must learn My Dear Brother
to empty out self & to be filled
with Christ. You must learn
to live & walk by faith. Give
an abundance of love from
myself & dear wife to your
Sisters & to the members of the
Goodman family who are
with you. Mary we understa
nd is in London. And now
My Dear Son in the gospel, let
your loins be girded with truth.
Take the helmet of salvation
& the sword of the spirit &
play the man for the city
& the cause of our God.
The only way is to set your face as
a flint & resolve that come life
or death you will do all you
can to pull souls out of the fire.
Do this & leave all the rest to christ. C. G. Finney
[across the right hand side of page 3]
P.S. Monday morning 17. Our meeting last night was awfully solemn. I called the anxious
to the lecture room for the first time. About 300 went in & many of them professed subm
ission before they left. Time will shew. God bless you.
Charles Tebbutt Esqr.
On reverse of envelope, postmarks:
BIRMINGHAM DE 17 1849 K
ST-IV[ ] DE [ ] 1849
? 18 DE 1849
Finney received the following letter from Charles Tebbutt:
27th Decr 1849.
My dear Mr Finney.
I have refrained from
writing to you for some days
because I have felt really una-
ble to tell you any thing of a
definite nature as to myself,
and I am sorry to say that
now I am in the same situation.
But a sense of love and gratitude
to you for your kindness in thus
kin thinking of me and caring
for me compels me to delay no
longer, but to send you these few
lines. And now my dear sir what
shall I say to you about myself
I sometimes hope that I have a
real wish to know and do the
will of God and some love to
the Redeemer, but often doubt
whether all my actions and feel-
ings are not merely of the selfish
kind. I have so long known
the Gospel without obeying it
that I feel I am far more liable
to deception than one who has
been sinning in comparative ig-
norance. And the heart is deceit-
ful above all things. Pray for
me my dear friend that God
would not utterly cast me off
for so long sinning against light
Please give my very kindest regards
to Mrs Finney and also to
Mr Roe, and believe me to be
My dear Sir,
Yours very sincerely,
Chas P. Tebbutt
Revd C. G. Finney,
Revd C. H. Roe,
The following letters were written by Mary Brown to Mary Goodman, in London:
Houghton Thursday [i.e. January 3, 1850]
Charles Tebbutt has dined with us to day he appears going on well -- I asked Neville if he had said any thing to Joe, I think he told me he had but could not get him to talk, I think if you would frequently write to him and inclose a tract and request him to read it perhaps that would arrest his attention, when N returns I mean to have him here and invite him to accompany the elder part of the Sunday School children into the little room on the Monday night when Mr Harcourt has them assembled for 1 hour for religious instruction & prayer, but I shall first consult Neville abt it as he has been once present on these occasions --
N & J have not returned I told them when they left if they desired benefit from the preaching and other means employed there by Mr Finney not to hasten home, we have not heard from them so rather look for them to night
Houghton Tuesday morning [i.e. January 8, 1850]
My dear Mary,
I again resume my pen to give you a little information of what is going on in our two villages, and I think we can truly say that our God is hearing and answering the prayers of his people, now as your dear brother Joe lays nearest your heart I will speak of him first and tell you that he came to us yesterday (Monday) to tea and at 6 o clock I asked Neville to go with him to the young inquirers meeting held in the little school room for one hour which he did when that was over he accompanied N to our meeting for prayer after that was over Mr Harcourt taking Joseph Afford who has just joined the Church by the hand said here is a youth here and we do not know whether he has given his heart to the Saviour let us calling to George & Neville go into the little room and pray for and converse with him & ascertain the state of his mind which they did and when we bowed at the family altar Neville said in his prayer My Brother tells us he has given his heart to God thou knowest if he is sincere, N went out early this morning with Bateman skating so that I have not had an opportunity to ask him any thing more to tell you, but we shall not fail to talk to him and pray for him and do you make him the object of your prayers and pray that God will save his soul and that now. ...
Neville makes himself useful & I hope he will encourage George to more active exertion in this great and glorious work of saving Souls - N. says he ought to write to you he asked me if you mentioned in any of your letters what you were doing for Christ, how delightful it is that when we assemble around the fire side we four talk about the good work how it is progressing and who we shall speak to and who we shall pray for, no reserve great openness & heaven & heavenly things uppermost N & G miss no meetings & we often remain late on Saturday night for conversation after those who have domestic matters to attend to retire, O my dear Mary we can truly say whilst we are attempting to water others our own Souls are watered, I tell you abt the movements here believing you feel deeply interested abt your native village - I have been told to day that sinners feel afraid to come to Chapel lest they should be convicted. Geo says he was never so whiped in his life by any preacher, the text you will find in Hosea 7 chapter 8 Verse - Ephraim is a cake not turned -When I go and converse with different individuals they ask me if I do not think Mr H preaches very different sermons to what he used to do before Finney came - ... I said in Nevills presence yesterday that I did no work when he replied by saying was he me he would not do any more particularly fancy work & he wished other ladies would not I wish you could see for yourself how anxious N is to husband the minutes and not to rob God any more --
[MSS in Goodman Family Papers.]
In 1851, Charles Tebbutt married Mary Goodman, and they lived at "The Walnut Trees", the family home in Bluntisham, until their deaths. He was a landowner and farmer all his life, but in 1856 he also became manager of a bank in St. Ives. He was prominent in local affairs, as a magistrate, and County Councillor,
and occupied many official positions in connection with parish matters, Fen Drainage, Agriculture, Politics, Philanthropy and Religion, in all of which matters he was remarkable as to his knowledge and powers of lucid expression and could have occupied a leading position in the county had he been so minded.
His talents were widely recognised:
There is no doubt that if he had wished to become a prominent leader in party politics his clear insight, accurate memory, well-balanced mind, cautious yet decided opinions, and charming and convincing speech, he could have taken any position his ambition--had he any--desired. One who knew him well, and was capable of judging, said that only Edmund Burke excelled him as a politician, while a great literary critic spoke of his capacity as a speaker as second only to Lord Rosebery.
He became an earnest Nonconformist and was a member of the local Baptist Church serving as Deacon, Treasurer and Sunday School Superintendent. At his funeral, his minister described him "as one of the purest, humblest, and most Christian men he had ever met."
An album belonging to Charles Tebbutt, in the Goodman Family Papers, has entries on two separate pages:
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you
November 6th 1850 Elizabeth A. Finney
Pray without ceasing
C. G. Finney.
See "Death of Mr. C. P. Tebbutt" in The Hunts County News, 12 March 1910, p. 8.
See Charles H. Roe to Finney, dated "Friday night" [probably 16 November 1849] in Finney Papers, No. 1392.
This letter is not in the Finney Papers.
This letter is not in the Finney Papers. Mary Goodman (1828-1891), the second daughter of Joseph and Rose Goodman, had been brought up by Mrs Tebbutt since she was sixteen. A manuscript notebook, listing, in Mary Goodman's handwriting, books borrowed from the St. Ives Intellectual Society, with the start and finishing dates of when they were read, has: "1840 Aug - Jany 1843. Lecture Revivals - Finney." A few days before the Finneys arrived in Houghton, she wrote in a journal, under the date October 29, 1849:
If I can compare myself with what I was ten years ago, I think I shall find no improvement. Can I really be a Christian if such is the case. I do not know how, or I feel a disinclination to examine myself. I fear it is this. I have a presentiment that all is not right within.
Mary was staying in Islington, London, with her sister, Eliza Allon, who had given birth to her first daughter, Rose, on December 18th.
Joseph Goodman (1837-1857) was the third son of Joseph and Rose Goodman. He was 12 years old and had been living with Mrs Tebbutt in Bluntisham since he was seven. Joe subsequently learned the milling business in Houghton, and went to help his brother, Neville, at Royston. But he died of enteric fever in 1857. According to his brother, Albert:
Potto Brown said of him: "he was the flower of the flock"; this was both for piety and remarkable mental ability and skill in all branches. As a brother I remember him with great respect and affection (Goodman, Genealogy, p. 243).
Rev. John Edmund Simmons (1796-1868) was the minister of the Baptist Chapel in Bluntisham from 1830-1868. Albert Goodman who lived with the Tebbutts recalled:
We used all to attend the ministry of the Rev. John Simmons at Bluntisham; he was a grand old dissenting divine of marked character and personality, and lived at Colne, whence he used to drive in, in a low pony chaise nick-named "The Ark" ... on Sundays many families chiefly farmers drove in from miles round to attend the services ("Genealogical Book", p. 131-32).
See also Robert Walker Dixon, A Century of Village Nonconformity at Bluntisham, Hunts 17887 to 1887 (London: Harris & Co., 1887), pp. 271-73.
According to Albert Goodman, "Mr Simmons had no sympathy with the sensational Revivals carried on in the neighbourhood." However he gave a further invitation to Finney in a letter dated Colne, 12 February 1850. The letter is notable for the flourishes with which he finished off his letter. Albert Goodman noted:
Mr Simmons was quite a literary man and ably conducted the Bluntisham Book Society; in writing the name of the Society in books, he used such flourishes that we used to say "he flourished in the middle of the XIXth century" (Genealogical Book, p. 132)
Goodman, Genealogy, p. 231.
"Funeral of Mr. C. P. Tebbutt" The Hunts County News, 19 March 1910, p. 8.
Rev. B. G. Collins in ibid.