The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY
To First Congregational Church, Oberlin
4 September 1871
[MS in First Congregational Church Records, Oberlin College Archives, RG 31/4/1]
First Congregational Church of Oberlin, Ohio.
Dearly Beloved in the Lord.
As but few of your present members
understand the facts, I call your attention
to the date & circumstances of my settlement
as your Pastor. I was at the time Professor of
theology in Oberlin College. In June 1836 the
Church invited me to supply their pulpit, I did
so until May 1837, when they called me
to the Pastoral office. I accepted upon con
dition that I should still perform my
College duties, & further, that I should
labor abroad as an Evangelist from time
to time, in accordance with my sense of duty.
In much infirmity of body & mind, I have
labored to perform these multiplied ^ labors
to the acceptance of Christ & the church.
Yet I have always had the painful
consciousness that I came far short of
meeting the necessities of the church.
This has been a source of much grief
to me, & I doubt not to you. I have never
been able to look after your children or my
own as I most earnestly wished to do.
Of late years I have been obliged to abstain
from attending to the burial of your dead
because of its severe trial of my brain.
The excitement, & sorrow, & ^ air of crowded
rooms, are too much for my worn nerves.
Seeing so much to be done for you, & feeling
less & less able to meet your wants from year
to year, has been a heavy burden on my heart
by day & by night, for a long time, & this
sorrow is increasing. I am now in the
8th year of my age, & of course can not
hope to be able to meet your wants in
the future even as feebly as in the past.
After much prayer & consideration, & after
helping you unitedly through the cases
of discipline that have recently afflicted
you, I have reached the conclusion that
I may now resign my pastoral relation
to you, which I hereby do, & I pray you to
consider that as final on my part, &
to cordially unite in accepting it, &
in cho[o]sing the man that you need
"to go in & out before you, & to break to you
the bread of life." In taking leave of
you as Pastor, I trust I need not
assure you of my undying love of
you, & interest in your welfare. I beseech
you to remember that a housed divided
can not stand, therefore Dearly Beloved,
"Study those things that make for peace."
"Be of one mind & one judgment," Be
considerate, be forbearing, love as brethren.
"Mark any that cause divisions amongst
you & avoid them" "& the God of peace
shall be with you". God bless you all
ever more. C. G. Finney
Oberlin, 4th Sept. 1871.
P.S. It was my sincere desire that you
should accept my resignation that I
tendered several months ago. But
you did not understand me,
& as the matter took the turn that
I did, I thought it unwise to agitate
the subject further at that time.
But now I must insist on my resignation
being accepted, since I am unable to hold
out under such responsibilities as are
resting upon me. You can ^ ask a man
of 80 years to meet your wants. Because
of my love for you it is a grief to me to
resign, but ^ were still a deeper grief
to continue to witness your wants
& be utterly unable to supply them.
Again God bless you dear souls
C. G. Finney
The minutes of the meetings of the First Church have an entry under the date September 6:
The Church met, by call of Pres. Finney on the previous Sabbath, to consider his resignation which he had tendered to the Church.
The meeting was called to order by Bro H. Halburd, and Bro T. J. Keep appointed to the chair, meeting opened by prayer by Bro. Jas. Dascomb. The resignation of Pres. Finney as Pastor of the church was then read. moved and seconded that the resignation be accepted. After a considerable discussion it was moved and seconded that we at once proceed to vote by ballot. Motion lost. After further discussion motion was again made and seconded and carried with the following result
For accepting resignation Fifty eight,
Against " " Ninety.
The following resolution offered by Bro Allaber was then passed
Whereas, we the members of the first Church of Oberlin have refused by vote to accept our Pastor's resignation, through no desire to thwart his wishes or to impose upon him burdens which he is unable to bear, but from an earnest desire to still enjoy his ministrations, We do now affectionately request him to re-consider his resignation, and to consult with the church with a view of maturing some plan by which such additional pastoral labors may be secured as may be needed
Under the date October 20, 1871:
Dr. Dascomb in the chair. Prayer by Rev. R. T. Cross. Minutes read and approved. The Committee to confer with the Pastor presented a written report of which the following is a copy.
"To the 1st Congregational Church of Oberlin,
"Your Committee to whom was assigned the duty of calling on the Pastor to ascertain his wishes with reference to assistance in the pastoral work for the coming year, finding that there was a slight misunderstanding in their minds with regard to his views, as expressed at a former interview, determined to recommit the subject to him, and now beg leave to report.
"That according to arrangement, they called on the Pastor on the 10th of October, and after presenting the subject were answered by him in substance as follows.
"That in consideration of the religious interest at present existing in the Church, and particularly with the young people, and the importance that the attention of the Church should not be diverted from the work of saving souls he thought it better that there should be no immediate change.
"He farther expressed the wish that Prof. Morgan should continue to be his assistant for the present.
"At some future time he may wish to communicate farther with the Church on this subject but at present has no change to recommend."
"J. W. Merrill"
Report was accepted and adopted.
Finney meant to write 80th here.
Finney's addition of a d here, was probably in view of the next word.
Romans 16: 17: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have received; and avoid them."
Finney had written Aug. here and changed it.
Finney may have meant to write it here.
First Congregational Church Record Book 1857-1891, in Oberlin College Archives, 31/4. Minutes recorded by W. O. Hart, Clerk.