The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY
To George Whipple
Secretary of the American Missionary Association
10 May 1870
[MS in American Missionary Association Papers, #115666 & 7, Amistad Research Center, Tulane University.]
Oberlin 10th May 1870.
Dear Br. Whipple.
Yours of the 6th is recd.
You can not depend on me
for the article you desire.
In laboring for the promotion of
revivals I have not often known
their antecedents enough to make
an impression upon me that
I can recal[l] except in a
few instances. Our revivals
or rather revival here, has been
so nearly continuous that I
am not the right man to
write the article in question.
In my experience revivals have
produced cheerful & bountiful
appropriations to christ rather
than ^ preceeded by them. I have
often known penurious churches
made bountiful by revivals.
When a church considers itself
as doing its duty in giving &
doing for the cause of Christ it
is difficult to convict them of sin
& secure a revival in their hearts.
They can not see that they need a
revival, & indeed they do not
if they are doing their duty.
It is astonishing that Christians
should make a righteousness of
giving, but they often do, & even
ministers will think their
churches in a good state if
they give considerable & pay
their salaries beside. They will
seem content with this when
in fact there is not faith enough
in the church, minister & all
to convert one sinner a month
from year to year. Some minis
ters & churches reckon their prosper
ity & usefulness by the amount
they give & not by the number
of souls they win to christ.
Suppose this method of estima
tion should become general,
the end would be lost in
the abundance of means.
Spiritual churches & christians
if well taught will do their
duty in giving, but it is often
dangerous to set a sinner
or a backslider in heart
to give as a means of getting.
I am more & more afraid of making
clean the outside, & see more
& more clearly that we must
begin with the heart & keep
the heart in sympathy with
christ & giving will result
of course. Take an opposite
course & we may mu[l]tiply converts
who are only pharisees & the
most reprobate of sinners.
I fear I can not in a word
make you understand me.
Agents & Managers of benevolent
societies are so set upon getting
funds & need funds so much
that they are apt to give or deny
credit as more or less money is
forth coming. As if money were of
essential value whereas I regard
both the raising of it & the use
of it as a curse when there
is not faith & spiritual power
enough to win souls to christ.
Much money & but few conversions
This is sickening, discouraging,
wicked. A brother in England who
gives his money like a prince made
a calculation a few years ago what
the conversion of each soul cost in money.
He convinced himself that the whole
wealth of England could not at this
rate convert its souls. I would to God
that a thousand times more money wer[e]
given but ten times more faith would
do ten times more good with less money
than is now given. Men will give their
money & withhold their hearts.
This is our greatest error
at present. I know men &
women who have no money
to give who convert more
souls, which is the end of money
giving, than whole churches
who are well satisfied with
themselves because they give
of their abundance without
a particle of self denial.
If the Church had faith like
a grain of mustard seed she
would secure the conversion
of the world without so much
effort to raise money. Money would
come fast enough if there was a
spirit & a power that would
convert souls. Under the
pretense of showing their
faith by their works they
are really trying to get on
by works without faith enough
to convert scarcely any souls.
Faith will bring out the money
but money will not bring out
faith. How much ado about
money & how little about faith.
O, if there could but be a universal
cry for faith ten times less
would need be said about
money & money would accomplish
a thousand fold more
than it does now. Few I
know will understand &
sympathise with this view.
I have not & never had a
zeal for raising money unless
I can see that there is faith
enough to prevent the abuse
& secure the effectual use of it.
But I did not intend to say
all the above but only to inform
you that I am not the man to write
the article in question. I am
afraid I should hinder instead of
help. God bless you.
C. G. Finney
This letter is not in the Finney Papers.
This was probably Potto Brown of Houghton. See Finney, Memoirs, p. 481, note 19.