The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY
To James Morison
5 January 1851
[Ms in the James Morison Papers, Moir Collection, Mitchell Library, Glasgow.]
Finney received the following letter from John Stevenson of Glasgow:
2 Warroch St Anderston
Glasgow 27th May /50
My Dear Brother in Christ Jesus
personally a stranger to you I am
not altogether ignorant of your views
of Divine truth, & therefore feel
emboldened to address you thus
familiarly, as a partaker of our
common salvation. I am one of those
in Glasgow who have received the "Oberlin
Evangelist" for the last 4 years, &
mean to continue a reader of it: but
believing it deserves a larger cir
=culation amongst us than it has
hitherto had, I desire to make an effort
to extend its circulation. We also re-
ceived a good many of the Oberlin pub-
lications last summer amongst which
was the second & third vols of your
Theology, & as I intend despatching
an order for more soon, will
you please to inform me if the
first Vol. is published yet &
what the cost of it is.
I intend to advertise all the
publications in the "Christian
News" (a weekly newspaper pub
=lished by those who hold the
views advocated by Messrs Mor-
ison, Kirk, Scott, & others,)
& would like to learn from you
if J. Fitch has published any new
works in connection with your
Oberlin movement within the
last nine months as I have received
no "Evangelists" since that period.
Is the "Quarterly" still holding
I have long been anxious to
hear the word of the truth of the
Gospel from your own lips
but more especially since I
heard of your arrival in England.
It was with difficulty that I
procured your address, & as it
reached me this morning I take
the earliest opportunity of en=
quiring of you if I will have
the pleasure of hearing you in
Glasgow before you leave our shores?
The extensive circulation of the
Editions of your works that have
been published in this country
would in my judgement
make many come to hear you.
As I will probably see Mr
Morison on Thursday I will
take it kind of you to reply
to this by return of post &
oblige yours in the faith
P.S. My Pastor's name is
Fergus Ferguson, Junior.
C. G. Finney
The following notice appeared in the editorial columns of The Christian News (Glasgow) July 4, 1850. p. 77:
OBERLIN PUBLICATIONS.--We beg to direct the attention of those of our readers interested in the above publications to the advertisement in our columns. We may here state that the advertiser has no pecuniary end in view, but is solely guided by a desire for the introduction of the publications issuing from the Oberlin press.
The advertisement is on the front page (p. 73):
OBERLIN PUBLICATIONS, OHIO, U.S.
The Subscriber, believing that there is much in the Oberlin publications to render them valuable in the estimation of every Christian, and being also aware that many others regard them in the same light, he has been induced to offer his services to import and deliver them in Glasgow, or through any of the Day-Star Agents, at the following prices:--
'Oberlin Evangelist,' published every alternate Wednesday, and will be delivered twice a-year. H. Cowles, editor. 4s 2d a year. 6 copies for 22s a year; 10 copies for 34s a year. Postage extra to those who wish it fortnightly, 3s 10d. The vol. for 1849 may also be had as above.
'Oberlin Quarterly Review,' published on the 1st of January, April, July, and October, It is designed to sustain a pure literature, a correct theology, a practical morality, and a spiritual religion. President Mahan and Professor Finney, Editors. 10s. a year.
By Professor Finney.
Vol.II. Embracing Lectures on Moral Government,
Atonement, Moral and Physical Depravity,
Regeneration, Philosophical Theories, and
Evidences of Regeneration. 9s. 4d.
Vol.III. Embracing Ability (Natural, Moral, and
Gracious), Repentance, Impenitence, Faith and
Unbelief, Justification, Sanctification, Election,
Reprobation, Divine Purposes, Divine Sovereignty,
and Perseverance. 9s. 4d
Vol.I. not yet published, but each volume contains a complete elucidation of the subject on which it treats.
'Guide to the Saviour.' 1s 8d.
'Conditions of Prevailing Prayer.' 1s 6d.
'Sinners Excuses Condemn God.' 6d.
By President Mahan.
'Moral Philosophy.' 3s 6d.
'System of Intellectual Philosophy.' 3s 6d.
'Doctrine of the Will.' 3s 6d.
'Holiness acceptable to God.' By Prof. Morgan. 1s.
'Gospel Manna.' By H. Cowles. 2s 3d.
Heathen Nations, or the Duty of the Present Generation
to Evangelise the World.' By. J. S. Green, missionary.
'Medical Reform.' By Izaac Jennings, M.D. A work of
great interest. 4s 9p; or 5 copies for L.1.
Orders received up to the 9th of July, and the Works will be delivered in six or eight weeks thereafter, on their arrival from Oberlin.
CONDITIONS.--About two thirds of the price of the Work ordered, to accompany the order, the remaining third payable on delivery.
Orders to be made payable to JOHN STEVENSON, 35, Warroch Street, Anderston, Glasgow, from whom a specimen number of the 'Evangelist' may be obtained gratis, or sent free to any address on receipt of two postage stamps.
6th June, 1850.
Finney's letter to Morison reads:
Tabernacle House, Finsbury, London, England.
5. Jan 1851.
Rev. James Morison
My Dear Brother. I did not expect to be in England so long as I have been without seeing you.
But my time & strength have been so completely filled up with labors, as to have forbidden hitherto my visiting you.
& I see not now that I shall be able to visit Scotland before my return to America, which, God willing, must be early in the Spring. My family & my relations to Oberlin seem to forbid my remaining longer than until that time in this country. I have kept myself informed, to a considerable extent, of the progress of reform in Scotland, & have taken a deep interest in your own movements & writings. Br. Mahan saw you. I perceive the Oberlin publications are for sale in Scotland. Have you read My Dear Br. Mahans Moral Philosophy.
If so have you noticed the sad confusion of his mind on the question of the foundation of Obligation? I have greatly regretted the publication of that book as it by no means does Br M. justice as an author. He is particularly & unaccountably confused upon that question. I was obliged to write a review of it for the use of the students, which I have in manuscript, but dislike to publish because I so much love Br. M. & because of my relations to him. I find in my writing Desk a paper on which I noted the discreppancies upon that subject.
when I first read it. These are only a part of them. Every part of the work abounds, as perhaps you have observed, with either these contradictions or the logical consequences of them. In the latter part of the work however he almost uniformly & happily assumes the truth of the true theory. I will give you a copy of this paper just alluded to, as it may aid in fastening attention upon the question of consistency. You are aware that Br. M. has left Oberlin since his return to America. Things have been long tending to this result.
I shall feel his loss, but I suppose the step of his resignation was, upon the whole, wise. I feared that Dear Br. M. would fall into confusion just as he did because in his former treatise he had done so. But I am sorry to say that on this question his confusion rather increases than otherwise. I have prepared my two published volumes for a revised edition. In this edition I shall notice
to spare his feelings
these contradictions without naming the author. ^ The following is a copy of the paper alluded to.
"Contradictions in Br. M's. Moral Philosophy."
1. Ultimate Intentions alone are Moral Actions. ----Pages 55.124.
2. Ultimate intentions consist in choosing an object for its own sake 117.125.
3. Ultimate intentions must find their reasons exclusively in their objects 220.127.116.11.
4. Foundation of obligation must be intrinsic in the object of the intention. 18.104.22.168.117.145&6
5. Do. Not only in what is intrinsic but also in what is relative in the object of intention. 85.142.
6. Do. Exclusively in the relation of one being to another 23.143.
7. Do. In the affirmation of the moral faculty. 23.
8. Do. Exclusively in the relation of choice or intention to its object 79.86.
9. Do. Exclusively in the character of the choice itself. 76.
10. Do. Exclusively in oughtness. i.e. of obligation itself. 76.
11. Do. Exclusively in in [sic] the idea of duty. 62.63.
12. Do. Universally in the relation of fitness between choice & its object. 86.
13. Universally & exclusively in right 87.
14. Do. Sometimes exclusively in moral character 106.107.108.
With respect to the ground of obligation to will the good of bein[g] see as follows,
1. Happiness the only good per se. 114.115.
2. Obligation to will good founded universally & exclusively in its intrinsic value. 97
3. Do. Exclusively in a susceptibility for good 22.214.171.124.122.
4. Do. to will certain forms of good exclusively in the character of the subject of the good 107.108.
5. Holiness is a ground of obligation to its possessor. 102.
6. Holiness never a ground of obligation to will good to God. 111.
The above are among the contradictions which I am very sorry to say so abound in this work as to destroy its influence with those who read understandingly.
You observe that in this work he attempts to criticise my views. It was this fact that rendered it necessary for me to help the students by repl[y]ing in manuscript, for their use. I do not intend to publish my review if I can help it. Unless some publick notice should be taken of his criticism which demands a reply I intend to take no notice of it, in such a way as to touch his feelings. I hoped to have seen you as I have long desired to do so.
Shall you not be at London teween between now & March.
In preparing my theology for a new edition I have abridged a good deal on some points & especially on the question of the ground of obligation.
You perceive I hold from my theology I hold eternal but not un-conditional election & reprobation. I can not see how to escape this with [out] denying the attributes of God. I should extremely like to see you & have a few hours conversation with you on various points.
May the peace of God rule in your heart My Dear Brother is the prayer of your fellow labourer in the gospel,
C. G. Finney.
Mahan had gone to England in July 1849 as a delegate to the international Peace Conference in Paris. He was in Scotland early in October and had met James Morison when he attended the annual examination of the Kilmarnock Theological Academy. See "Examination of Kilmarnock Theological Academy" in The Christian News (Glasgow) 11 October 1849, p. 186.
See the letter of John Stevenson to Finney, 27 May 1850, in Finney Papers.
Asa Mahan, The Science of Moral Philosophy (Oberlin: The Evangelist Office, 1848)
This "Review of Mahan's Moral Philosophy at Oberlin" is a 220 page manuscript in the Finney Papers (microfilm, roll 8).
The sheet of paper headed: "Contradictions in Br. M.'s Moral Philosophy" is in the Finney Papers, Microfilm Roll 8. Finney has copied below what is on one side of the sheet with a few minor variations. On the reverse are some further points which Finney has not copied.
Finney is probably referring here to Doctrine of the Will first published in Oberlin by R. E. Gillet in 1845. Mahan had also written A System of Intellectual Philosophy, also first published in 1845, but the point Finney is mentioning is not dealt with in that book. New editions of both books were published in 1847, and there are copies in James Morison's library. Finney reviewed Doctrine of the Will in The Oberlin Evangelist, 8 December 1847, p. 198, and highly recommended it. He made no mention there of any inconsistencies.
Mahan devotes Chapter X (pp. 94-123) to a discussion of Finney's theory of the foundation of moral obligation.
Finney must have intended to write without here.