The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY
Another Revival at Auburn, New York
During the latter part of the time that I was at Rochester my health was poor. I was overdone, and some of the leading physicians, I learned afterwards, had made up their minds that I never would preach any more. About the closing up of my labors in Rochester at this time the Rev. Dr. Wisner of Ithaca came down and spent some time in Rochester, witnessing and helping forward the work. In the meantime I was invited to many fields; and among others I was urged by Dr. Nott, president of Columbia College, to go and labor with him and, if possible, secure the conversion of his numerous students. I made up my mind to comply with his request. In company with Dr. Wisner and Josiah Bissell, of whom I have spoken, I started in the stage in the spring of the year when the going was exceedingly bad. I left my wife and children for the time at Rochester, as the going was too dangerous and the journey too fatiguing for them to undertake. When we arrived at Geneva Dr. Wisner insisted on my going home with him to rest awhile. I declined, and said I must keep about my work. He pressed me very hard to go, and finally told me that the physicians in Rochester had told him to take me home with him, for I was going to die; that I would never labor any more in revivals, for I had the consumption and could live but a little while. I replied that I had been told this before, but that it was a mistake. That the doctors did not understand my case; and that I was only fatigued, and a little rest would bring me up.
Dr. Wisner finally gave up his importunity, and I passed on in the stage to Auburn. The going was so very bad that sometimes we could not get any more than two miles an hour in the stage, and we had been two or three days in going from Rochester to Auburn. As I had many dear friends in Auburn, and was very much fatigued, I made up my mind to stop there and rest till the next stage. I had paid my fare quite through to Schenectady; but could stop over for one or more days, if I chose, and then take the stage again. I stopped at the house of Brother Theodore Spencer, a son of Chief Justice Spencer of that state. He was an earnest Christian man, and a very dear friend of mine; consequently I went to his house instead of stopping at the hotel, and concluded to rest there till the next stage.
In the morning, after sleeping quietly for a time at Brother Spencer's, I had risen and was preparing to take the stage as it was expected along in the forepart of the day, when a gentleman came in with the request for me to remain, signed by that large number of influential men of whom I have spoken before as resisting the revival in that place in 1826. This was in the spring of 183I. In 1826, when Dr. Lansing was there, these men had set themselves against the revival, and carried their opposition so far as to break from Dr. Lansing's congregation and form a new one. In the meantime Dr. Lansing had been called to another field of labor, and the Rev. Josiah Hopkins of Vermont was settled as pastor of the First Church in Dr. Lansing's place. The paper to which I have alluded contained an earnest appeal to me to stop and labor for their salvation, signed by a long list of unconverted men, most of them among the most prominent citizens in the city. This was very striking to me. In this paper they alluded to the opposition they had formerly made to my labors, and besought me to overlook it and stop and preach the Gospel to them.
This request did not come from the pastor, nor from his church, but from those who had formerly led in the opposition to the work in 1826. But the pastor and members of his church pressed me with all their influence to remain and preach and comply with the requests of these men. They appeared as much surprised as I was myself at the change in the attitude of those men. I went to my room and spread the subject before God, and soon made up my mind what to do. I told the pastor and his elders that I was very much fatigued, and nearly worn out; but that upon certain conditions I would remain. I would preach twice upon the Sabbath and two evenings during the week, but that they should take all the rest of the labor upon their own hands. That they must not expect me to attend any other meetings than those at which I preached; and that they must take the labor of instructing inquirers and conducting the prayer and other meetings. I knew that they understood how to labor with sinners, and could well trust them to perform that part of the work. I furthermore stipulated that neither they nor their people should visit me, except in extreme cases, at my lodgings; for that I must have my days, Sundays excepted, that I might rest, and also my evenings, except those when I preached. There were three preaching services on the Sabbath, one of which was filled by Brother Hopkins. I preached in the morning and evening, I think, of each Sabbath, and he in the afternoon.
The Word took immediate effect. On the first or second Sabbath evening that I preached, I saw that the Word was taking such powerful hold that at the close I called for those whose minds were made up to come right forward, publicly renounce their sins, and give themselves to Christ. A good deal to my own surprise, and very much to the surprise of the pastor and many members of the church, the first man that I observed as coming forward and leading the way, was the man that had led, and exerted more influence than any other one man, in the opposition to the revival when I was there in 1826. He came forward promptly, followed by a large number of the persons who had signed that paper; and that evening there was such a demonstration made as to produce a general excitement throughout the place.
I have spoken of Rev. Abel Clary as the praying man who was at Rochester. He had a brother, a physician, living in Auburn. I think it was the second Sabbath that I was at Auburn this time that I observed in the congregation the solemn face of this Rev. Abel Clary. He looked as if he was borne down with an agony of prayer. Being well-acquainted with him, and knowing the great gift of God that was upon him, the Spirit of prayer, I was very glad to see him there. He sat in the pew with his brother, the doctor, who was also a professor of religion, but who knew nothing by experience, I should think, of his brother Abel's great power with God. At intermission, as soon as I came down from the pulpit Brother Clary, with his brother, the doctor, met me at the pulpit stairs, and the doctor invited me to go home with him and spend the intermission and get some refreshment. I did so.
After arriving at his house we were soon summoned to the dinner table. We gathered about the table, and Dr. Clary turned to his brother and said, "Brother Abel, will you ask a blessing?" Brother Abel bowed his head and began audibly to ask a blessing. But a sentence or two had escaped him when he broke instantly down, moved suddenly back from the table, and fled to his bedchamber. The doctor supposed he had been taken suddenly ill, and rose up and followed him. In a few moments he came down and said, "Mr. Finney, Brother Abel wants to see you." Said I, "What ails him?" Said he, "I do not know; but he says you know. He appears in great distress, but I think it is the state of his mind." I understood it in a moment, and got up and went to his room. He was in one of his seasons of travail of soul. He lay groaning upon the bed, and tossing from side to side; the Spirit making intercession for him and in him with groanings that cannot be uttered. That is, his desires were altogether too great to be expressed in words, and his groans could be heard all over the house. I had no more than fairly got into the room when he made out to say, "Pray, Brother Finney." I knelt down and helped him in prayer by leading his soul out for conversion of sinners. I continued to pray until his distress passed away, and then I returned to the dinner table. I think that Brother Clary did not make his appearance at the dinner table again, and I do not recollect that I spoke with him again that day. But I understood that this was the voice of God. I saw the Spirit of prayer was upon him, and I felt his influence upon myself, and took it for granted that the work would take on a powerful type. It did so.
I believe, but am not quite sure, that every one of those men that signed that paper, making a long list of names, was converted during that revival. But a few years since Dr. Steel of Auburn wrote to me to know if I had preserved that paper, wishing, as he said, to ascertain whether every one of the men that signed it was not at that time converted. The paper has been mislaid; and although it is probably among my numerous papers and letters, and may sometime be found, yet I could not at the time answer his inquiry to his satisfaction. But of this I am confident, that nearly if not quite all of those men were converted, and they have been, I believe, among the most earnest and useful Christians in that city ever since.
I stayed at this time at Auburn six Sabbaths, preaching, as I have said, twice on the Sabbath, and twice during the week, and leaving all the rest of the labor for the pastor and members of the church. Here, as at Rochester, there was at this time little or no open opposition. Ministers and Christians took hold of the work, and everybody that had a mind to work found enough to do, and good success in their labors. The pastor told me afterwards that he found that in the six weeks that I was there, five hundred souls had been converted. The means that were used were the same that had been used at Rochester. In this revival there was no appearance of fanaticism, or anything witnessed, that I know of to be regretted. This revival seemed to be only a wave of divine influence reaching Auburn from the center at Rochester, whence such a mighty influence had gone out over the length and breadth of the land.
Near the close of my labors here a messenger arrived from Buffalo with an earnest request that I should visit that city. Auburn, I believe, is about the same distance east of Rochester that Buffalo is west. The revival in Rochester had prepared the way in Auburn, as in every other place all round about, and had also prepared the way at Buffalo. At Buffalo, the messenger informed me, the work had begun, and a few souls had been hopefully converted; but they felt as if other means needed to be used than those that were on the spot, and they urged me so hard, that from Auburn I returned back through Rochester to Buffalo. I spent but about one month, I think, at Buffalo; during which time a large number of persons were hopefully converted.
The work at Buffalo, as at Auburn and Rochester, took effect very generally among the higher classes. Among the converts at Buffalo, I believe the Rev. Dr. Lord then a lawyer, was converted at that time. Also at that time, Mr. Heacock, the father of the present Rev. Dr. Heacock of Buffalo, was converted. There were many circumstances connected with his conversion that I have never forgotten. He was one of the most wealthy and influential men in Buffalo, and a man of outwardly good morals, fair character, and high standing as a citizen, but an impenitent sinner. His wife was a Christian woman, and had long been praying for him, and hoping that he would be converted. But when I began to preach there, and insisted that the sinner's "cannot" is his "will not," that the difficulty to be overcome was the voluntary wickedness of sinners, and that they were wholly unwilling to be Christians--Mr. Heacock rebelled very decidedly against such teaching. He insisted upon it that it was false in his case; for he was conscious of being willing to be a Christian, and that he had long been willing. As his wife informed me of the position that he occupied, I did not spare him; but from night to night, and from day to day, I hunted him from his refuges, and answered all his objections, and met all his excuses. He became more and more excited. He was a man of strong will, and he declared that he did not, and would not, believe such teaching. He said so much in opposition to the teaching as to draw around him, to some extent, some men with whom he had no sympathy at all except in their opposition to the work. But I did not hesitate to press him in every sermon, in one shape or another, with his unwillingness to be a Christian.
After his conversion he told me that he was shocked and ashamed when he found out that some scoffers had taken refuge behind him. One evening he said he sat right across the aisle from a notorious scoffer. He said that repeatedly while I was preaching this man, with whom he had no sympathy at all on any other subject, would look to him and smile, and give great indications of his fellowship with his opposition to the revival. He said that on discovering this his heart rose up with indignation; and he said to himself, "I am not going to be in sympathy with that class of men; I will have nothing to do with them."
However, that very night at the close of my sermon I pressed the consciences of sinners so hard, and made so strong an appeal to them to give up their voluntary opposition and come to Christ, that he could not contain himself. As soon as meeting was out, altogether contrary to his custom, he began to resist and to speak against what had been said before he got out of the house. The aisles were full, and people were crowding around him on every side. Indeed he made some profane expressions, as his wife informed me, which very much disturbed her, as she felt that by his opposition he was very likely to grieve the Spirit of God away and lose his soul. However, that night he could not sleep. He afterwards told me that he scarcely slept at all. His mind was so exercised that he rose as soon as there was any light, left his house and went off to a considerable distance where there was then a grove of wood, and not far from where he had some water works which he called "the hydraulics." There in that grove he knelt down to pray. He said he had felt during the night as if he must get away by himself, so that he could speak aloud and let out his voice and his heart, as he was pressed beyond endurance with the sense of his sins, and with the necessity of immediately making his peace with God. But to his surprise and mortification when he knelt down and attempted to pray, he found that his heart would not pray. He had no words; he had no desires that he could express in words. He said that it appeared to him that his heart was as hard as marble, and that he had not the least feeling on the subject. He stood upon his knees disappointed and confounded, and found that if he opened his mouth to pray he had nothing in the form of prayer that he could sincerely utter.
In this state it occurred to him that he could say the Lord's prayer. So he began, "Our Father which art in heaven." He said as soon as he uttered it he was convicted of his hypocrisy in calling God his Father. When he uttered the petition, "Hallowed be thy name," he said it almost shocked him. He saw that he was not sincere, that his words did not at all express the state of his mind. He did not care to have God's name hallowed. Then he uttered the next petition, "Thy kingdom come." Upon this, he said, he almost choked. He saw that he did not want the kingdom of God to come; that it was hypocritical in him to say so, and that he could not say it as really expressing the sincere desire of his heart. And then came the petition, "Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." He said his heart rose up against that, and he could not say it. Here he was brought face to face with the will of God. He had been told from day to day that he was opposed to this will; that he was not willing to accept it; that it was his voluntary opposition to God, to His law, and His will, that was the only obstacle in the way of his conversion. This consideration he had resisted and fought like a tiger. But here on his knees, with this Lord's prayer in his mouth, he was brought face to face with that question, and he saw with perfect clearness that what he had been told was true: that he was not willing that God's will should be done; and that he did not do it himself because he would not.
Here the whole question of his rebellion, in its nature and its extent, was brought so strongly before him, that he saw it would cost him a mighty struggle to give up that voluntary opposition to God. And then, he said, he gathered up all the strength of his will, and cried aloud, "Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." He said he was perfectly conscious that his will went with his words; that he accepted the will of God, and the whole will of God; that he made a full surrender to God, and accepted Christ just as He was offered in the Gospel. He gave up his sins, and embraced the will of God as his universal rule of life. The language of his heart was, "Lord, do with me as seemeth Thee good. Let Thy will be done with me, and with all creatures on earth, as it is done in heaven." He said he prayed freely, as soon as his will surrendered, and his heart poured itself out like a flood. The rebellion of his mind all passed away, his feelings subsided into a great calm, and a sweet peace seemed to fill all his soul. He rose from his knees and went to his house and told his anxious wife, who had been praying for him so earnestly, what the Lord had done for his soul; and confessed that he had been all wrong in his opposition, and entirely deceived as it respected his willingness to be a Christian. From that time he became an earnest laborer for the promotion of the work of God. His subsequent life attested the reality of the change, and he lived and died a useful Christian man. Judge Wilkinson was also converted at that time, if I am not mistaken, and many other prominent men, and women not a few. From Buffalo I went in June, I think, to my father-in-law's, in Whitestown. I spent a part of the summer in journeying for recreation, and for the restoration of my health and strength.
Early in the autumn of 183I I accepted an invitation to hold what was then called "a protracted meeting," or a series of meetings, in Providence, R.I. I labored mostly in the church of which the Rev. Dr. Wilson was at that time pastor. I think I remained there about three weeks, holding meetings every evening, and preaching three times on the Sabbath. The Lord poured out His Spirit immediately upon the people, and the work of grace commenced and progressed in a most interesting manner for the short time that I at that time spent in that city. However, my stay was too short to secure so general a work of grace in that place as occurred afterwards in 1842, when I spent some two months there; the particulars of which I shall relate in its proper connection.
There were many very interesting conversions at that time; and several of the men who have had a leading Christian influence in that city from that time to the present day, were at that time converted. This was also true of the ladies: many among them very interesting cases of conversion occurred. Among them I remember with great distinctness the conversion of one young lady, which I will in brief relate. I had observed in the congregation on the Sabbath a young lady of great personal beauty, sitting in a pew with a young gentleman who I afterwards learned was her brother. She had a very intellectual, and a very earnest look, and seemed to listen to every word I said with the utmost attention and seriousness. I was the guest of Brother Josiah Chapin; and in going from the church with him to his own house, I observed this young gentlemen and lady going up the same street. I pointed them out to Brother Chapin, and asked him who they were. He informed me that it was a Mr. and a Miss Ainsworth, that they were brother and sister, and remarked that she was considered the most beautiful girl in Providence. I asked him if she was a professor of religion, and he said, No. I told him I thought her very seriously impressed, and asked him if he did not think it would be well for me to call and see her. He spoke discouragingly in regard to that, and thought it would be a waste of time, and that possibly I might not be cordially received. He thought that she was a girl so much caressed and flattered, and that her surroundings were such, that she probably entertained but little serious thought in regard to the salvation of her soul. But he was mistaken; and I was right in supposing that the Spirit of the Lord was striving with her.
I did not call upon her; but a few days after I first spoke to Brother Chapin respecting her she called to see me. I knew her at once, asked her to be seated, and inquired of her in regard to the state of her soul. She was very thoroughly awakened; but her real convictions of sin were not ripened into that state that I wished to see, and which I thought was necessary before she could be really brought intelligently to accept the righteousness of Christ. I therefore spent an hour or two--for her call was considerably protracted--in trying to show her the depravity of her heart. I asked her if she was not proud, and vain, and self-righteous. She thought she was not. I asked her many searching questions, such as these. I asked her if she had never been envious. She replied that she was not aware that she had. I asked her then if there was any young lady of her acquaintance that she thought more beautiful than herself. She at first recoiled from this searching question, but there was a spirit of candor that pretty soon brought her to acknowledge that she did not know any young lady that she thought was more beautiful than she was. I asked her if she did not think she should be envious or jealous if she thought there was any young lady more beautiful than she was. She thought she should not. I asked her if she knew any young lady that she thought was more amiable than herself. She said that she did know of one at least, that she thought was more amiable than herself; but she was not aware that she had any envy or jealousy in respect to her. I put a great many such like questions for the purpose of forcing her to think and reflect in that direction. Her convictions seemed to ripen as I conversed with her; and she became more and more profoundly serious as I put the searching questions to her. When I had said to her what I thought was necessary to secure a ripened and thorough conviction under the influence of the Spirit of God, she got up with a manifested feeling of dissatisfaction and left me. I was confident the Spirit of God had so thoroughly taken hold of her case that what I said to her would not be shaken off, but on the contrary that it would work the conviction that I sought to produce.
Two or three days afterwards she called on me again. I could see at once that she was greatly bowed down in her spirit. As soon as she came in she sat down and threw her heart open to me. With the utmost candor she said to me, "Mr. Finney, I thought when I was here before that your questions and treatment of me were pretty severe. But," said she, "I see now that I am all that you represented me to be. Indeed," said she, "had it not been for my pride and regard for my reputation, I should have been as wicked a girl as there is in Providence. I can see," said she, "clearly, that my life has been restrained by pride and a regard to my reputation, and not from any regard to God, or His law or Gospel. I can see that God has made use of my pride and ambition to restrain me from disgraceful iniquities. I have been petted and flattered, and have stood upon my dignity, and have maintained my reputation from purely selfish motives." She went on spontaneously and owned up, and showed that her convictions were thorough and permanent. She did not appear to be excited, but calm, and in the highest degree rational in everything that she said. It was evident, however, that she had a fervent nature, a strong will, and an uncommonly well-balanced and cultivated intellect. Indeed, at the time I thought that I had never seen a more thoroughly interesting case of conviction than hers. After conversing with her for some time and giving her as thorough instruction as I could, we bowed before the Lord in prayer; and she, to all human appearance, gave herself unreservedly to Christ. She was in a state of mind at this time that seemed to render it easy for her to renounce the world. She has always been a very interesting Christian.
Not many years after her conversion she was married to a wealthy gentleman in the city of New York. For several years I had no direct correspondence with her. Her husband took her into a circle of society with which I had no particular acquaintance; and until after he died I did not renew my acquaintance with her. Since then I have had much Christian correspondence with her, and have never ceased to be greatly interested in her religious life. I mention this case because I have ever regarded it as a wonderful triumph of the grace of God over the fascinations of the world. It is probable that there was no lady in the country more flattered than she was, more caressed, more respected, and more the idol of society. But the grace of God was too strong for the world, even in a case like this, in which every worldly fascination was surrounding her. She has never that I can learn faltered in her Christian course.
While I was at Providence, the question of my going to Boston was agitated by the ministers and deacons of the several Congregational churches of that city. I was not myself aware of what they were doing there. But Dr. Wisner, then pastor of the Old South Church, came over to Providence and attended our meetings. I afterwards learned that he was sent over by the ministers "to spy out the land and bring back a report." I had several conversations with him, and he manifested an almost enthusiastic interest in what he saw and heard in Providence. About the time he was there, there were some very striking conversions.
The work at Providence was of a peculiarly searching character as it respected professors of religion. Old hopes were terribly shaken, and there was a great shaking among the dry bones in the different churches. So terribly was one of the deacons of one of the churches searched on one occasion, that he said to me as I came out of the pulpit, "Mr. Finney, I do not believe there are ten real Christians in Providence. We are all wrong," said he, "we have been deceived." Mr. Josiah Chapin was thoroughly blessed in that revival. He was converted about that time; but whether it was just after I got there, or just before, I cannot recollect. Among other gentlemen that were converted I recollect a Mr. Barstow, who has since been a prominent Christian man in that city; a Mr. Green also, who was cashier of one of the banks. Dr. Wisner, I believe, was thoroughly convinced that the work was genuine, and for the time, extensive; and that there was nothing to complain of as unchristian, or anything to be deplored.
After Dr. Wisner returned to Boston I soon received a request from the Congregational ministers and churches to go to that city and labor. Dr. Lyman Beecher was at that time pastor of the Bowdoin St. Church; and his son, Edward Beecher, was either pastor or stated supply at Park St. A Mr. Green was pastor of the Essex St. Church, but had gone to Europe for his health; and that church was without any stated supply at the time. Dr. Fay was pastor of the Congregational church in Charleston, and Dr. Jenks was pastor of the Congregational church in Green St., Boston. I do not recollect who were the pastors of the other churches at the time.
I began my labors by preaching around in the different churches on the Sabbath, and on week evenings I preached in Park St. I soon saw that the Word of God was taking effect, and that the interest was increasing from day to day. However, I perceived also that there needed to be a great searching amongst professed Christians. I could not learn that there was amongst them anything like the Spirit of prayer that had prevailed in the revivals at the west and in New York City. There seemed to be a peculiar type of religion there, that had not that freedom and strength of faith in it that I had been in the habit of seeing in New York. I therefore began to preach some searching sermons to Christians. Indeed I gave out on the Sabbath that I would preach a series of sermons to Christians in Park St. on certain evenings of the week. But I soon found that these sermons were not at all palatable to the Christians of Boston. It was something they never had been used to; therefore the attendance at Park St. was less and less, especially on those evenings when I preached to professed Christians. This was new to me. I had never before seen professed Christians shrink back, as they did at that time in Boston, from searching sermons. But I heard again and again of speeches like these: "What will the Unitarians say if such things are true of us who are orthodox?" "If Mr. Finney preaches to us in this way, the Unitarians will triumph over us, and say that at least the orthodox are no better Christians than Unitarians." It was evident that they somewhat resented my plain dealing. I was soon informed by Dr. Wisner that my manner of dealing with professors of religion was directly opposite to that of Dr. Beecher. That the standard which he set up was a very low one; and that he was letting down the standard of orthodox piety and preaching in such a way that left the doors open too wide altogether to the orthodox Christian church. He said that he felt, and they had felt in Boston for some time, that getting the people into the churches under so low a standard of preaching was calculated to do them great mischief. This was the feeling, at the time, of Dr. Wisner, and I believe a feeling very extensively entertained by the orthodox people. I suppose that it was owing to this fact that my searching sermons so astonished and even offended multitudes of professed Christians. However, as the work went forward this state of things changed greatly; and after a few weeks they would listen to searching preaching, and came to highly appreciate it.
I found in Boston, as I had everywhere else, that there was a method of dealing with inquiring sinners that was very trying to me. I used sometimes to hold meetings of inquiry with Dr. Beecher in the basement of his church. One evening when there was a large attendance, and a feeling of great searching and solemnity among the inquirers, at the close, as was my custom, I made an address in which I tried to point out to them exactly what the Lord required of them. My object was to bring them to renounce themselves and their all, and give themselves and all they possessed to Christ then and there. I tried to show them that they were not their own, but were bought with a price, and pointed out to them the sense in which they were expected to forsake all that they had and deliver everything to Christ as belonging to Him. I made this point as clear as I possibly could, and saw that the impression upon the inquirers seemed to be very deep.
I was about to call on them to kneel down while we presented them to God in prayer, when Dr. Beecher arose and said to them: "You need not be afraid to give up all to Christ, your property and all, for He will give it right back to you." Without making any just discriminations at all as to the sense in which they were to give up their possessions, and the sense in which the Lord would allow them to retain them, he simply exhorted them not to be afraid to give up all, as they had been urged to do, as the Lord would give it right back to them. I saw that he was making a false impression, and I felt in an agony. I saw that his language was calculated to make an impression the direct opposite of the truth. After he had finished his remarks, as wisely and carefully as I could, I led them to see that in the sense in which God required them to give up their possessions He would never give them back, and they must not entertain such a thought. I tried to say what I said in such a way as not to appear to contradict Dr. Beecher, but yet thoroughly to correct the impression that I saw he had made. I told them that the Lord did not require them to relinquish all their possessions, to quit their business, and houses, and possessions, and never to have possession of them again; but to renounce the ownership of them, to understand and realize that these things were not theirs, but that they were God's. That they were never to treat these things as belonging to themselves as it respected God. That in respect to men these things were theirs, not belonging to others; but as respected God He required them not to regard themselves, or anything they possessed, as belonging to themselves. He therefore required them to renounce all claim to these, or anything else, as it respected their relation to Him. That His claim was absolute, and His property in themselves and in everything else so entirely above the right of every other being in the universe, that what He required of them was to use themselves and everything else for Him and His glory and as belonging to Him; and never to think that they had a right to use their time, their strength, their substance, their influence, or anything else which they possessed as if it were their own and not the Lord's.
Dr. Beecher made no objection to what I said either at the time, or ever, so far as I know; and it is therefore probable that he did not mean anything inconsistent with this in what he said. And yet he said that which was calculated to make the impression that God would restore their possessions to them, in the sense in which they had relinquished them and given them up to Him.
The members of the orthodox churches of Boston at this time generally, I believe, received my views of doctrine without question. I know that Dr. Beecher did; for he told me that he had never seen a man with whose theological views he so entirely accorded as he did with mine. There was one point of my orthodoxy however to which many of them at the time objected. There was a Mr. Rand, who published, I think, a periodical in Boston at that time, who wrote an earnest article against my views on the subject of the divine agency in regeneration. I preached that the divine agency was that of teaching and persuasion, that the influence was a moral and not a physical one. President Edwards had held the reverse of this; and Mr. Rand held with President Edwards that the divine agency exercised in regeneration was a physical one, that it was a change of the nature instead of a change in the voluntary attitude and preference of the soul. Mr. Rand regarded my views on this subject as quite out of the way, and wrote and published a pretty severe article at the time I was there in opposition to this view. There were some other points of doctrine upon which he dwelt in a critical manner, such, for example, as my views of the voluntary nature of moral depravity, and the sinner's activity in regeneration. Dr. Wisner wrote a reply, and justified my views, with the exception of those that I maintained on the persuasive or moral influence of the Holy Spirit. He was not then prepared to take the ground against President Edwards, and the general orthodox view of New England, that the Spirit's agency was not physical, but only moral.
Dr. Woods of Andover also published an article in one of the periodicals--I believe it was one that was at the time published at Andover under the title, "The Holy Ghost the author of regeneration." This was, I think the title; at any rate the design was to prove that regeneration was the work of God. He quoted of course that class of Scriptures that assert the divine agency in the work of changing the heart. To this I made no reply in writing; but in my preaching I said that that was only a half truth. That the Bible just as plainly asserted that regeneration was the work of man, and I quoted those passages that affirmed that. Paul said to one of the churches that he had begotten them, that is regenerated them, for the same word is used as where regeneration is ascribed to God. It was easy therefore to show that God had an agency in regeneration, and that His agency was that of teaching or persuasion, it was also easy to show that the subject had an agency: that the acts of repentance, faith, and love were his own; and that the Spirit persuaded him to put forth these acts by presenting to him the truth. As the truth was the instrument, that the Holy Spirit was one of the agents; and that a preacher, or some human, intelligent, and designing agent generally also cooperated in the work. There was nothing at all unchristian, that I recollect, in any of the discussions that we had at that time; nothing that grieved the Spirit or produced any unkind feelings among the brethren.
After I had spent some weeks in preaching about in the different congregations, I consented to supply Mr. Green's church in Essex St. statedly for a time. I therefore concentrated my labors upon that field. We had a blessed work of grace, and a large number of persons were converted in different parts of the city. Indeed the work was more or less extensive throughout the city. There my third child was born that winter. I had become fatigued, as I had labored more than ten years as an evangelist, without anything more than a few days or weeks of rest at a time during the whole period. The ministerial brethren were true men, had taken hold of the work as well as they knew how, and labored faithfully and efficiently in securing good results. By this time a second Free Church had been formed in New York City. Brother Joel Parker's church, the First Free Church, had grown so large that a colony had gone off and formed a second church, to which the Rev. Mr. Barrows, of late a professor at Andover, had been preaching. Some earnest brethren wrote to me from New York proposing to lease a theater and fit it up for a church, upon condition that I would come there and preach. They proposed to get what was called the "Chatham St. Theater," in the heart of the most irreligious population of New York. It was not far from the "Five Points," and was a place of resort highly discreditable to the city. It was owned by men who were very willing to have it transformed into a church. My family had then become so large that I could not well take them with me while laboring as an evangelist, and my strength had become a good deal exhausted; and on praying and looking the matter over a good deal, I concluded that I would accept the call from the Second Free Church, and labor for a time at least, in New York.
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