The GOSPEL TRUTH
May 21, 1851
Close of Prof. Finney's Labors in London
According to promise in our last issue, we now lay before our readers entire, the documents respecting the close of Prof. Finney's labors in London, which appeared in the British Banner for March 26, and April 2. Though long, we are sure they will be read with unflagging interest. They will serve to show our readers how the gospel as preached by Bro. Finney has been received among British Christians. Far be it from us to glorify man in this thing. Let all honor be rendered to God and to his blessed gospel!
If any apology were needed for publishing so much respecting Prof. Finney's reception and success in England, we have it in the fact that his name and labors have been long identified very closely with revivals of religion in both England and America. Such revivals of religion we feel bound to sustain with our warmest zeal and most untiring labor,--to our latest breath. We cannot do this--no man can do it--without virtually endorsing the great system of evangelic truth and of gospel labor for the conversion of men, as developed prominently for the last quarter of a century by Prof. Finney. This endorsement need not cover all the lesser matters whether of the faith or the practices; but the greater and weightier ones--those which constitute the system--it must embrace. No man can vilify the labors of Prof. Finney in revivals--as has been done by a few in our country, without striking a blow --unintentionally it may be and we believe it is--at the dearest interests of modern revivals.
Hence our anxiety to present to our American readers Bro. Finney's labors, their general acceptance and results in England, as fully as it may be in our power.
Many of our readers will be happy to learn that Prof. Finney's published volumes of Theology have been carefully reviewed by some of the ablest divines of England, thoroughly revised also by himself, and that thus endorsed and thus internally improved, they are about to go to the British public, destined we trust to fill a wide and growing sphere of usefulness. We understand it is Prof. Finney's intention--life and health permitting--to complete his system of Theology and to prepare for the press also some other lesser works, called for in his view by existing circumstances in the churches.
Rev. C.G. Finney.
We have now to apprise the friends of Mr. Finney that his sojourn in England is drawing to a close. His Tabernacle engagements will terminate with the present month; and immediately afterwards he returns to the United States, with a view to resume his collegiate and congregational labors. He has had from divers places very urgent entreaties to prolong his stay in Great Britain, but the claims of Oberlin have prevailed. Thus, for the present he leaves the shores of a land in which he will be long remembered by multitudes who prize his gifts, esteem his character, and have profited by his labors.
It will be seen from our advertising columns, that a Public Tea-meeting of Mr. Finney's friends of the Tabernacle Church and congregation, and others is to be held next Monday evening, at the Royal Institution, Cowper-Street, City-road, to bid the excellent stranger adieu, after the old English fashion.
Now, then, that Mr. Finney's course has reached its close, it may be permitted us to utter a thought or two relative to a man for whom we have conceived a very high regard, and in whose labors and history we feel the deepest interest. Well, we cannot say that we are much gratified at the thought of Mr. Finney's returning to college duties, and the general ministry of a rural charge. We do not consider that such is the place for the man; and we must be allowed to think that, fifteen years ago, a mistake was committed when he became located in the midst of academic bowers. In our view, there are few living men to whom such an element is less suited. He is made for the millions--his place is the pulpit, rather than the professor's chair. He is a heaven-born sovereign of the people. The people he loves and the mass of the people all but idolize him. He seems specially created for oral labour. The structure of his mind is altogether peculiar. The logical faculty is developed in an unusual degree, and hence there is a tendency to argument in excess. He reasons on and on to the extreme of redundancy, often laboring to explain that which requires no further explanation, and needs no further proof. He is, moreover, strongly addicted to the metaphysical and analytical, and hence whatever he touches becomes more or less arrayed in a dialectical costume. These peculiarities might, at first sight, seem somewhat to unfit him for pulpit labor among the million: but it is otherwise; he succeeds either through or in spite of them. Whether he be understood or not, he is listened to, and complaints are not generally heard on the score of his being unintelligible. There rare gifts are of signal service in enabling Mr. Finney to fathom the deepest recess of the human heart, and to throw light on the darkest portions of human character. For moral anatomy, he has no equal among the multitude of great and successful ministers whom it has been our lot to hear. An assembly often quivers under him as does the living subject under the knife of the operator, whom experience has rendered skillful and habit made callous. Multitudes have stood amazed at themselves, as presented in the mirror he exhibits to their astonished view. This peculiar power alone would have rendered Mr. Finney remarkable among public instructors; but this is only one feature of his complex and multifarious character as a preacher. His declamatory are fully equal to his logical powers. In this walk we think he has no superior. He thunders and lightens when his subjects requires it, in a manner to shake the heart of an assembly, rousing the most apathetic, and awing the most careless. He would have ranked as a prince among that class of zealous and most useful men whom a godless world has scornfully denominated--Ranters!
But even this is not all; he possess another quality seldom found in combination with the foregoing; he is occasionally although but seldom, strongly pathetic; the voice falters, and the eyes become suffused with tears. Thus, then Mr. Finney largely combines to himself the qualities necessary to constitute the three great classes of public speaking, and is capable, with proper application, of the highest success in them all; but we believe it is only justice to his great character to say, that he never thought five minutes upon the subject. Whatever he is, he is from nature and the gifts of God; art has done nothing for him. The result of the whole is an extraordinary range of mental and moral contact with the assembly. There is something for men of every class; all, in turns are ratified, and all are occasionally disappointed, according as throughout the discourse the one quality or the other may predominate. Sometimes during an entire sermon he is dry and logical in the extreme, addressing himself to pure intellect, making no provision whatever for either heart or fancy. At other times, both are regaled in a very high degree, as an interdict is then placed on the logical faculty; and there have been a few discourses, also touching and pathetic throughout. In these respects he is the most varied of preachers and in all respect most unequal.
There is another peculiarity about the public speaking of Mr. Finney which renders it noticeable, and even striking. The style of address, the accent and intonation, and the whole air is American, and such as presents a striking contrast to that of England. At first, it is unpleasant to the English ear, but the ear soon comes to like it, and at length is charmed with it. The general cast of his preaching is simple even to plainness, and good taste is often violated for the purpose of illustration. The whole air of the man and of his address is deeply marked with homeliness and simplicity. As everything beyond the mere outline of his discourse is extemporaneous, there is an utter absence of obvious effort, whether of thought or language. The elaborate, the exquisite, and the ornate, have no place in his pulpit performances. Nature is everywhere apparent in her modest everyday garb. There is no exhibition; no speaking for speaking's sake. Mr. Finney may say with Whitefield, whom in many respect he resembles, "I use market language." There is no room for display of any description. Self seems annihilated. The subject is everything, and the salvation of men is the supreme concern. To crown all, Mr. Finney, beyond the great run of public speakers, is endowed with a voice of remarkable clearness. Its faintest accents are heard in the remotest comer of the edifice where he now labours, although eighty feet square, while it is capable of acquiring the swell of the martial trumpet. It is not sweet, not melodious, but possesses a penetrating clearness of tone, with a distinctness of enunciation which would render him audible in the largest edifice. He finds his account exceedingly in this attribute. When he has spoken three hours, there is often no symptom whatever either of hoarseness or fatigue. Indeed he has appeared to us, not seldom, the only person who was not exhausted! It is certainly a pity that a man so singularly endowed for evangelic labour should be chained down by the dull routine of College duties. If we mistake not, there are a thousand men to be found in the United States, that would perform Mr. Finney's professional duties as well, perhaps in many respects better, than he; but we doubt if, amongst the three-and-twenty millions American citizens, and the forty thousand ministers, more or less, that labor among them, there are many, if one, that possess all the qualifications above enumerated. Thus much for the attributes of Mr. Finney as a public instructor; and the opinion is given after hearing him incessantly for about nine months.
But what may be said of the effects of his labors? For, after all, this is the point both with him and with the Church of God. On this point we have little to say at present, in addition to the very copious statements already made in our columns. The attendance, and the visible impression of his labours have grown rather than diminished up to the present hour. There has, of course, been a great and constant change going on in the audience; but still the crowds are unabated, and the number of inquirers has considerably increased. We are not yet in a position to speak with particularity on the subject of conversion in connection with his second visit. In the former case, it was not till his departure that the effects become fully apparent; and, perhaps, it will be largely so again.
Mr. Finney's mode of dealing with men is peculiar, such as, at times, to subject him to the charge of not preaching the Gospel. What he does, however, is done upon principle. He gave last Lord's-day morning, a most masterly defence of his own course in descanting on the words of the Prophet, "Break up the fallow ground, and sow not among thorns." Mr. Finney is not disobedient to the heavenly voice; he breaks up the fallow ground, as with a steam-plough, turning-up, crushing, and destroying whatever roots or weeds may stand in the way.
Of his theology, after what we have said on former occasions, we need here say nothing beyond re-asserting its radical soundness on all the great points of Evangelicalism. His modes of statement, at times, are not such as a sound, erudite English divine would approve or adopt; he may be occasionally the victim of his own logical subtlety, his statements may sometimes appear to be rash, and his deductions daring, but he always and quickly rights himself, and, with a powerful hand, never fails to vindicate the ways of God to man. On the subject of man's responsibility, he has, in our view, no equal; never was it our lot to see the human spirit so completely divested of every plea, and so shut up to the faith! He may often, with justice, be charged with a limited or defective exhibition of the grace of God. We have heard sermons from him, in which the name of Christ was never mentioned, nor his work so much as referred to,--sermons which might have been preached by a Jew, or a Turk; but, in setting forth the claims of justice, he has no superior and few equals; and, when he does preach the Gospel, it flows like the river of the water of life!
But our space forbids enlargement, which is needless, as Mr. Finney will shortly speak for himself deliberately, and upon a large scale. As we stated before, Mr. Tegg has purchased the copyright of Mr. Finney's great work on Theology, which, during his residence in London, he has carried through the press, severely revising, and, to considerable extent, re-writing it. In a few days, that goodly volume of nearly a thousand pages will be before the public, who will then be in a position to judge for themselves.
It is but proper to say, that the extraordinary audiences of Mr. Finney, through so long a period, have not been the sole fruit of mere pulpit attraction. He has been sustained as never was a preacher before in the Metropolis nor in these lands. In addition to the aids he derived from the journals under our conduct, other means have been adopted on an unusual scale to awaken public attention. In addition to the issue of two large Addresses, written by the Pastor, of eight thousand copies each, distributed from house to house throughout the surrounding neighborhood, the young men of the Tabernacle have labored most laudably, and even heroically, to excite the attraction of the careless, and to bring them to hear the Word of Life. They actually subscribed among themselves between thirty and forty pounds to work the Press! Fifty thousand copies of another Address, prepared by the pastor, were circulated by them and the young females throughout the city, and large numbers of other addresses. Besides all this, large bills were extensively posted, and not only so, but carried on the shoulders of men throughout the numerous thoroughfares. There can be no doubt that these measures had a mighty effect in calling together the best sort of material to work upon--the unsophisticated, the men, not Gospel-proof and sermon-hardened, the men with whom Whitfield and Wesley dealt, and who formed the staple of their original converts. These boards, which were borne through the streets, created considerable scandal to not a few worthy people, who are not quite as wise as the children of this generation. And there were not wanting those to blame both the Pastor of the Tabernacle and Mr. Finney, although neither of them had aught more to do with the matter than the Presidents of France and the United States. Neither of them so much as even knew of the thing till it had been some time in operation; but we believe, looking at the subject not through the medium of a diseased decorum, but of common sense, and even of sound discretion, they felt less disposed to censure than to applaud the deed. Would that the spirit which prompted it may extend throughout the length and breath of the land! Delicacy and propriety are, in their places, virtues to be highly prized; but delicacy may be false and cruel; propriety may be spurious and fatal; and, through an undue regard to them, immortal men may be suffered to go down to hell through a dread of violating the proprieties of an ungodly world and a slumbering Church.
Rev. C.G. Finney.
It is now our painful duty to announce the close of the evangelical labors, for the present, in England, of Mr. Finney. To complete our previous notices of this distinguished stranger, we shall, therefore, add the facts which have attended the termination of his services. Last Lord's-day morning he preached from James 2:22, -- "Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was his faith made perfect?" The weather was favorable to attendance, and the congregation accordingly was large, although both the services of the day were signalized by one of those things which generally tend somewhat to winnow metropolitan assemblies,--collections were made at both times for the Christian Instruction Society. The subject of faith in relation to works is one with which Mr. Finney is peculiarly fitted to deal, and accordingly it was wrought out with consummate ability.
The subject is such, of course, as to admit of but little originality in its mode of treatment, and it was selected, not for exhibition, but for usefulness. The primary object was to state the truth comprised in the given text, and to press home its consequences. But only to have done this would not have fully met the demands of the occasion, in a day of general, superficial, cheap, and easy profession. The subject is one of immense importance in the economy of redemption, as entering fully into the very essence of true religion. It is a point on which millions have erred to their own eternal undoing. The error comprises two extremes: men on the one hand have relied on a faith that produces no works, and on the other they have rested on works that did not proceed from faith--works which had no regard to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Either extreme is alike certainly fatal to all who are the subjects of it. To prevent the occurrence of either evil is, therefore, the business of the public teacher, but this is not enough; it is also a matter of the utmost moment to recover such as are fallen into one or other of these errors, and, accordingly, this was not forgotten by Mr. Finney, who with characteristic penetration, distinguished between things that differ, and, with his accustomed point and vigor, pressed home the great lessons upon all whom the several matters concerned. The refuge of lies was swept away as with a hurricane, while the honest and earnest--those betaking themselves to works of faith and labors of love had much to encourage and fortify them. The Evangelical system was strikingly exhibited in all its grace and loveliness. The tendency of all such discourses must be to purify real religion and to elevate it. In the evening Mr. Finney took his text Acts 24:24 and 25. On this occasion the house was much crowded, and the preacher rose with the occasion. He has repeatedly equalled, but never exceeded, the power of the discourse then delivered. Blending a good deal of mental and moral philosophy, which was rendered subservient to theology, he came exceedingly close to the conscience of the audience. One copious passage fell with a weight on the assembly superior to any thing we ever heard him utter, putting us in remembrance of some of those outbursts of intellect and emotion which were wont to characterize the preaching of Dr. Chalmers on great occasions, and which frequently signalize the pulpit labors of Mr. Parsons. After about an hour and a half of a mingled stream of argument and address, the preacher paused, giving place to the pastor, who addressed the assembly on certain matters of arrangement. This was followed by devotional services, when the congregation was dismissed, it being intimated that all who chose to remain for a further address might do so. Accordingly, overborne by heat and fatigue, a multitude withdrew; but when they were gone scarcely a sitting seemed to be left vacant, curiously exemplifying how closely human beings may be packed together.
It may be observed, that, as last Lord's-day was that appointed for taking the census, the audience was carefully counted, both morning and evening, by two individuals at each entrance, who took each a separate account, afterwards comparing their computations. The attendance in the morning was 2,100, and in the evening, in round numbers, 2,200; these numbers refer to adults, as the Sunday-schools were not present either morning or evening, there being for these a separate service.
The tea-meeting, at which upwards of 600 sat down, took place in the Royal British Institution, Cowper-street, City-road, Mr. and Mrs. Finney, of course, being present. We say Mrs. Finney--for the wife of the great evangelist accompanies him. Not having had occasion till now to mention this excellent lady, it may be proper to say a word concerning her. This may be considered due to her own personal worth, and useful as serving to open her way elsewhere to humble efforts at public usefulness. Mrs. Finney is a woman of wholly kindred spirit with her husband; she sees every thing in the same light, estimates all matters by the same standard, and by the same means seeks the same ends. Her heart is strongly set on advancing the kingdom of God, and to that end, like him, she perseveringly labors. She established the daily morning female prayer-meeting, which has been held in the Tabernacle for the last nine months, and over which she has, while in London, uniformly presided. In addition to this, she has on a number of occasions addressed meetings of mothers and other females in the Tabernacle and in other places, besides occasionally addressing Ragged and other schools, and Temperance Societies. In this and other ways Mrs. Finney is in a high degree a helpmate for her husband.
The Tea-meeting occupied from five to seven o'clock, when, for the accommodation of the friends assembled, and others expected to join, although unable to attend the tea-meeting, the assembly adjourned to the Tabernacle, which was very considerably filled, both in the pews and in the galleries. After the devotional exercises, in which Dr. Brown, of Cheltenham offered prayer, the Pastor in the chair, having addressed the meeting on subjects which had been suggested by the occasion, turning to Mr. Finney, said,--
My dear Friend, you must now for a moment allow my character of president to merge into that of representative of a body of people among us to whom you are peculiarly dear. You will, therefore, please to consider me as their embodiment. Whatever I now feel, speak, and do, you will kindly consider as felt, spoken, and done by them. They are anxious to assure you, that by them you will never be forgotten; and they are very unwilling that they should be forgotten by you. They have, therefore, devised a means by which, in some measure, to prevent this: they have provided the copy you see in my hands of the English Hexapla, comprising the Greek Text of the New Testament, with six translations subjoined, on which is inscribed the following:--
Presented to the Rev. C.G. Finney, as a token of respect and affection, by his friends in the Tabernacle, London. March 31, 1851, on his departure for his native land.
Permit me, then, my dear brother, to present to you this book in their names, as a memorial of your British visit and of your London friends. The thing and the deed are both to be considered solely as monumental --as "in memoriam." It will serve at times to remind you of another clime and of other men than those of the New World. It will also serve to apprise your posterity that their ancestor visited the Fatherland in 1851, and that there it pleased God to give him favor in the eyes of many of the excellent of the earth, and to honor him through the conversion of souls to add to their numbers. Accept, then, the book as a token of love. Such it is--nothing more--nothing less. The question of its pecuniary value was wholly excluded from their thoughts, as it will be wholly excluded from yours. Its character is altogether spiritual; its object is entirely moral; you will accept it in the same spirit in which it is given, with the strong desire, with the earnest prayer on their part that you may continue for many years to publish its truth with increasing success, fidelity, and power, and that through life, and at the close of life, its doctrines may be your support and your consolation.
Dr. Campbell, then turning to Mrs. Finney, said,
My dear Friend, will you permit me to beg that you will apply to yourself what has just been uttered respecting your husband. As every way one, you cannot be separated, and assuredly it is not the wish or intention of those whom I now represent to attempt it. But, although one, you have your distinct personal identities, attributes, characters, and claims. I have, then, to assure you, on their behalf, that you are highly esteemed, not simply for your husband's sake, but for your own. Those who have been privileged to hold intercourse with you, and to share your friendship, highly prize your worth, and greatly respect your character. They have also witnessed with delight your anxiety to be useful, and the efforts you have made for that purpose, both among ourselves and throughout the locality. They will long remember you, and they desire that you should not wholly forget them. To prevent this, as far as may be, they adopt the same method towards yourself as your husband. I hold in my hands, the condensed Commentary of Ingram Cobbin, the best production of its class in the English tongue, bearing an inscription, the exact counterpart of that presented to your husband:--
Presented to Mrs. C.G. Finney, as a token of respect and affection, by her friends in the Tabernacle, London. March 31, 1851, on her departure to her native land.
Allow me, then, my dear Friend, to place this in your hands, and to beg your acceptance of it as a token of Christian affection. When far away from the white cliffs of Albion, it will remind you of intercourse which was profitable to others, and, it is to be hoped, pleasant to yourself. It will remind you of a place where prayer was wont to be made, in which you had long the privilege to lead or join. It will tell your children and your children's children, that their revered mother was once in England, and had friends in the Mother Country who prized her worth, and were stimulated by her zeal.
Turning to the audience, the Chairman said: In looking to these two beautiful and invaluable volumes, I am strikingly reminded of the fact of the decease of both the men whose honored names are inseparably connected with them--Samuel Bagster, as the projector of the English Hexapla, and Ingrain Cobbin, as the author of the Condensed Commentary. In connection with the subject of the Scriptures, Bagster and Cobbin are by far the two most remarkable men of their own time. Bagster founded the most complete Bible establishment the world has seen; and for intense, prolonged, and useful labor, on the sacred Scriptures, lngram Cobbin had no equal among his contemporaries. Cobbin is not more; he rests from his labors, and his works follow him. The turf was only just placed on his honored grave, when it was announced that Bagster had followed him. The venerable publisher died last week, and is still unburied. Peace to their ashes, and honor to their memories! My friends will excuse this digression, and perhaps, consider that it is not wholly impertinent to the occasion. There is something due to the memories of those who have been distinguished as the benefactors of mankind upon a scale which embraces all nations and which will extend to a distant posterity; and more especially is it meet and grateful, while inscribing tablets to the worth of the living, that we should pay a passing tribute to the wisdom and the virtues of the dead who have aided us in our enterprise.
But let me now, before I close, ascend for a moment from the particular and more personal to more general views, and endeavor to impress on you the fact, that this is not simply a night of friendly valediction. It is also, or it ought to be, a night of solemn individual self-inquisition. A voice is now sounding in the ears of the assembly: "Let them assuredly know that a prophet has been among them!"
You have for a long period been receiving from the lips of a stranger, instructions the most precious, warnings the most solemn, enforced by considerations the most tender. You have been plied with every consideration that love, knowledge, and experience could devise. All the resources of Scripture, fact, and argument have been brought to bear upon you, with a view to detach you from the world, and bring you to the Lord. In no other spot in Europe, perhaps, no other on the earth, during the same long period, has there been such an amount of evangelical labor put forth upon such a multitude of people. Six nights a week the doors of this edifice have been thrown open, its walls have literally never cooled; and what is to be the issue? So far as Mr. Finney is concerned, this stupendous effort of pulpit toil is at an end. Another service, and he is on the mighty waters, speeding his way for the land of the Pilgrim Fathers, to meet with the bulk of you no more till you meet in the solemn judgment! What is the day to declare? What will eternity reveal? Who among you are to prove his joy at the final audit? When the Lord shall write up the people, of whom will it be heard, this man, and that man, and the other, were born there? Concerning whom shall he say, "Here am I, and the children whom thou has given me?" May the result to him, to you, and to all that have heard him, be glory and joy for evermore!
It was my wish for many years that Mr. Finney should visit the shores of England. His works had come before him, and, when his Lectures on Revivals appeared, I read them with avidity, and, as a portion of you will remember, for three months, from week to week, at special meetings, I read and expounded them in this edifice. Their value was not in my estimation at all lessened by their peculiarities, and by what might be called, not without truth, their occasional extravagance, both of thought and of language. These I considered, and still consider, but as the dust in the balance--as spots in the sun! The volume, as a whole, I have ever viewed as of extraordinary importance. The more I pondered, the more I perceived its inherent excellence. The book excited a very strong desire in me to see the man, and still more to hear him. The man I have seen, the man I have heard, and in both, the expectations excited by the book have been more than realized. But I have not only seen and heard him: after the manner of the Ancients, we have eaten salt together. You all know the adage, If you will know a man you must live with him. Mr. Finney and I have lived together for the space of some nine months, a period which, I suppose, will be admitted sufficient for the purpose in question. I think I may, therefore, say I have a tolerable knowledge of him, and that it is but simple justice to say that to increase knowledge has been only to increase regard. Throughout that long period, we have seen in him much to love and much to admire. I shall never cease to prize his friendship and to think of him with unalloyed satisfaction and high pleasure. His virtues partake not a little of the old Roman, while his manners are strongly Republican. In every thing good the reality exceeds the appearance, and, as the observation becomes closer, the esteem ascends.
But, it is incumbent on me, on the present occasion, to say something on the subject of Mr. Finney's Theology; circumstances render this imperative. My own creed is, I believe, generally considered sound. I swear by the sacred scriptures, their plenary inspiration, and their supreme authority, holding, with a firm grasp, those views of their import which have ever characterized the Nonconformists of England. This is by me confessed; it is my boast and glory! While I call no man on earth master, I hesitate not to declare my very general concurrence with that illustrious body of men, the most distinguished class of Britain's sons, the Puritans and Nonconformists of England. Such are my views and my avowal of them. Now there are those--and among them people of sense and worth--who think that Mr. Finney and I preach very different gospels. These have expressed their sorrow and amazement that he should have so long occupied the pulpit of this ancient edifice. Those worthy people are much mistaken, if they refer to principles: I am not aware of any tenet of revelation connected with the hope of man on which we differ. We may differ in our views of many Scriptures, and in modes of stating many truths, and the proportions in which such truths ought to be combined and presented. On these points we may differ; we do differ; but that difference, while a fact, is a proof of nothing but itself. I may think Mr. Finney would be improved, in some respects, by leaning a little more in my direction; and it is just possible my friend will conclude, that I should be improved by leaning a little more in his; and who is to decide? However, I believe we are both right. Were I to commence Evangelist to-morrow, I would most assuredly, to a great extent, run in the vain of Mr. Finney, the propriety, the expediency, and the necessity of which have been thoroughly made out under my own observation. On the other hand, were Mr. Finney to become a settled pastor to-morrow, I think it is just possible that he would pursue the course which is now pursued by the bulk of the best of English ministers. For special efforts I think his method incomparable; for settled pastorship I should deem it very defective. l view the ministrations of Mr. Finney as partaking of a special character; I look upon them as admirably adapted, as special means, to accomplish a special end. The thing, however, is not to be determined by prior reasoning, it must be tested by its harmony with the Divine examples, and by its results as indicative of Divine approbation. I have encountered considerable obloquy in some quarters, on account of the course I have pursued with respect to Mr. Finney; but assuredly none of these things move me. So far as I can judge, with the amplest means of ascertaining the fact, his creed is as sound, in all radical matters, as that of John Owen. Even his opponents being judges, Mr. Finney's faults have been mainly of a negative character. The regrets which have been felt--and regrets in which I have occasionally shared--have arisen not from what he has said, but from what he did not say. When he has been with his own peculiar vigor, "breaking up the fallow ground" of the human heart, it has been lamented that he did not, at the same time, both plough and sow; but Mr. Finney had his reasons for his course, although these reasons were not always understood. What he did not state it was presumed he denied; but I need not tell the bulk of you, that when Mr. Finney did preach the gospel no man ever preached it more fully or more purely. The noble specimen of yesterday morning is still fresh in your memory.
I reflect with the utmost satisfaction on the course I have pursued respecting Mr. Finney, and cannot doubt but that it has the approval of the Master of us both. Would that every thing else I have done in connection with his cause were as sure to obtain from his lips--"Well done!" I have not hesitated, both with tongue and pen, to defend Mr. Finney, and to promote the success of his labors to the utmost of my power. In all I have done I do rejoice, and will rejoice. I ask, on Mr. Finney's behalf, candor and inquiry. Let this be granted and I seek no more. For a long period I have stood alone in the face of the public in the character of advocate; now, however, I find myself in the company of such as I highly value, and such as serve largely to fortify me as the advocate of our American friend and his potent labors. Dr. Redford, Of Worcester, as a theologian second to none in these realms, has boldly prefixed his name to the English edition of Mr. Finney's Theology, just about to appear under the respectable auspices of Mr. Tegg. Dr. Redford has prefixed to the volume a preface, which I now hold in my hand, and a portion of which I will read to you:
"The Editor having had the pleasure and honor of forming a personal acquaintance with the Author soon after his arrival in this country, did not long remain ignorant of his Theological Lectures. After the first hasty perusal of them, he ventured strongly to recommend their publication, both for the sake of making the British churches better acquainted with the Author's doctrinal views, and also on account of the direct benefit which students, and other inquirers into the theory of Gospel doctrines, would be likely to derive from a work so argumentative, and so unlike all the works on systematic and dogmatic theology known to the English schools. After due consultation and deliberation, the Author pressed upon the Editor the work of revision, and placed the lectures in his hands with the request, that he would read them carefully, and suggest such alterations as he might deem desirable to adapt the work to the English reader; and then submit the whole to the Author's adoption or rejection.
"There is another important circumstance with which the reader should be made acquainted, which will enhance the value of this edition, and render it highly preferable to the American; it is this, on the publication of these Lectures they attracted the attention of many able theologians in America, and were severely attacked by the periodical press. The Author replied at considerable length to the most learned and distinguished of his critics, fairly and fully meeting every objection that had been urged against his views. The present edition incorporates the substance of these objections with the replies of the Author.
"The Editor, however, would not have ventured to recommend the publication of these Lectures in this country, if he had not deemed them, as a whole, eminently deserving the attention and examination of British theologians. When they first came into his hands they struck him as so pleasingly unlike all the other systems of dogmatic theology and moral philosophy it had ever been his lot to peruse, so thorough in their grappling with difficulties, and often so successful in the solution of them; so skilfully adjusted to modern metaphysical speculations, and so comprehensive of what is valuable in them; so manifestly the production of a masculine intellect and independent thinker, that he was not only pleased with the air of freshness and originality thrown over old themes of dry and elaborate discussion, but greatly benefited and instructed by some of the Author's views of important moral and theological questions. It may not be the same with all the Author's English readers; but assuredly few will rise from the perusal of the whole work without confessing that, as least, they have seen some points in a new and impressive light, have been constrained to think more closely of the opinions they hold, and in other respects have been benefited by the perusal.
"As a contribution to theological science, in an age when vague speculation and philosophical theories are bewildering many among all denominations of Christians, this work will be considered by all competent judges to be both valuable and seasonable. Upon several important and difficult subjects the Author has thrown a clear and valuable light which will guide many a student through perplexities and difficulties which he had long sought unsuccessfully to explain. The Editor frankly confesses, that when a student he would gladly have bartered half the books in his library to have gained a single perusal of these Lectures; and he can not refrain from expressing the belief, that no young student of theology will ever regret the purchase or perusal of Mr. Finney's Lectures.
"One recommendation he begs respectfully to offer to all readers whether old or young; it is this, suspend your judgment of the Author and his theology until you have gone complete through his work. On many subjects, at the outset of the discussion, startling propositions may be found which will clash with your settled opinions; but if you will calmly and patiently await the Author's explanation, and observe how he qualifies some strong or novel assertions, you will most probably find in the issue, that you have less reason than you supposed to object to his statements.
"In many respects, Mr. Finney's theological and moral system will be found to differ both from the Calvinistic and Arminian. In fact, it is a system of his own, if not in its separate portions, yet in its construction; and, as a whole, is at least unique and compact; a system which the Author has wrought out for himself with little other aid than what he has derived from the fount itself of heavenly truth, and his own clear and strong perception of the immutable moral principles and laws by which the glorious Author of the Universe governs all his intellectual creatures."
Now, my friends, what say you to this? Is not this going a far as I ever went on the subject of Mr. Finney's Theology? This seems a tolerable testimony to be borne by such a man as Dr. Redford to a Republican heretic! But, seriously, Mr. Finney is a man of no human school; he has framed his own chart, and made his own compass; but, notwithstanding this, it will be found, that he is a safe guide on the ocean to eternity. For his special work, what many worthy people have deemed his defects, are really his excellencies, and constitute, in no small degree his strength. To point out the advantages which have arisen from them would take more time then we can now afford, and therefore I shall not attempt it. Suffice it to say, that in this way he has commended attention, excited inquiry, and awakened fears for the world to come, which could not have been awakened by a simple, polished, stereotype exhibition of the common salvation, as it is generally administered in these realms. Of the acceptance of his ministry in this city I need say nothing; the result is before the world. No such experiment has been made on the population of this great Metropolis in our times; and, so far as numbers and continued attendance are concerned, the experiment has been complete. Had a Council of the Ancients, of wise and experienced men in matters appertaining to Metropolitan religion, at the close of March, last year, been convened, and their opinion solicited as to the likelihood of success, it is highly probable, that, with one consent, they would have predicted its utter failure- they would have foretold the impossibility of any man whatever commanding audiences such as he has commanded so frequently, and through so long a series of months. Had these reverend councilors, before they began to deal with the question, been permitted to hear Mr. Finney deliver one of his "fallow-ground" manifestoes, they, of a certainty, would have predicted, that, before two months, he would have fairly scattered the largest congregation in London, and have been in a position to present the keys to the masters of the concern, to prevent further damage to the edifice. So blind is man, and so difficult is it to ascertain the springs which govern the human mind.
I must close my observations by reciting to you the draft of the letter which it is proposed to hand to Mr. Finney, as expressive of the sentiments you entertain towards him, which, if it meet your approval, will be signed by the Pastor and Office Bearers, and communicated to our friend. The proposed draft is as follows:
"DEAR AND HONORED SIR,--We can not suffer you to return to the land of your Fathers without expressing to you the pleasure we have derived from your visit. Your spirit and speech, while they have ofttimes not a little contributed to reprove and to condemn, have also served to animate and cheer us. Your enlightened zeal for the salvation of men has been rendered instrumental in firing many hearts that required to be animated, and in giving fresh impulse even to those that were previously valiant for the truth. Your vigorous, pungent, faithful ministrations have greatly tended to quicken believers; while your broad, luminous, and impressive exhibitions of the great doctrine of Repentance towards God have been made extensively the means of awakening the careless to a sense of their danger, and of leading them to flee from the wrath to come. We have witnessed with delight, often not unmingled with astonishment, your self-consuming and unwearied efforts for the salvation of the perishing, and greatly rejoice in the manifold tokens of success on all sides which are already apparent, while there is the utmost reason to look on what is known as only the first fruits of a coming harvests.
"But, beloved Brother! while rejoicing in the profit which has redounded to ourselves as a flock, to many of our families, to a portion of our congregation, and residents in our immediate locality, we reflect with special satisfaction on the benefit which we have grounds to believe will result to other churches in our neighborhood, and throughout the city. There is on all hands proof abundant that your labor in the Lord has not been in vain; but that your visit to England has been one of the most useful periods of your laborious life.
"You will, therefore, dear and honoured Sir, accept this expression of our sincere and most cordial thanks for all your intense endeavors to advance the Kingdom of God in our midst, together with the assurance of our grateful esteem. You leave our country bearing with you the affectionate confidence of multitudes, who will pray for journeying mercies to you, both by land and sea; and that, with your dear and esteemed companion, Mrs. Finney, you may reach your home in safety, and find all well.
"Wishing you and yours grace, mercy, and peace, and every blessing in the New Covenant, we remain, dear and honored Sir, on behalf of the Church and congregation assembling in this house, yours most truly in the bonds of the Gospel."
Mr. Edward Selby then moved the following resolution:--
That the draft of the letter now read be transcribed, signed by the Pastor and Officers, and transmitted to Mr. Finney.
Mr. Henry Child, with great cordiality, rose to second the resolution. They did not exactly agree with their friend Mr. Finney on all points; but they believed he had preached to them the glorious Gospel of Christ, and that in the way in which he had been taught by the Holy Spirit. They were satisfied he was doing God's work, and it was impossible that independent minds should on all points see with one another; it was only the noodles of the earth who saw eye to eye on every matter, and subscribed unreservedly to creeds, and catechisms, and even to the dots of the i's and the crosses of the t's.
The resolution was then put to the meeting upstanding, and carried unanimously; but on the contrary being put, a number stood still: this, however, was explained, amidst considerable merriment, by a gentleman who called out from the crowd,-- "We are only standing because we are obliged to do so."
Mr. Finney then rose to reply, and was received with the most enthusiastic applause, which was suppressed by the pastor, on the ground that it incommoded Mr. Finney. After a new introductory remarks with reference to the novelty of the position he occupied, he proceeded to detail the circumstances which led him to visit this country. His ancestors were English. New England was people by the English from whom he was descended. In New England they had all our names, customs, and, to a large extent, held our views. In England he felt at home in almost every respect, so far as the people were concerned. His lectures on revivals--the book which had been published in this country--were delivered some twelve or thirteen years ago, and were reported at the time by the Editor of the New York Evangelist, and were published in successive numbers of that journal. He thought it necessary to state that he did not see those lectures until they were in print; but that before they were gathered up into a volume, he had just glanced through them to correct any serious errors that he might happen to meet with. This volume was published in England by Mr. Tegg. The consequence was, that many persons interested in the subject wrote to him from all parts of the United Kingdom, and this correspondence gave rise to a desire in his mind to visit England. About this time his health so failed as to compel him to desist from his labors as evangelist, and he accordingly took the pastoral oversight of a church in New York, and has continued to sustain the pastoral office ever since. His Church and congregation at Oberlin was one of the largest in America. He understood, therefore, very well, what Dr. Campbell meant by the difference between the labors of an evangelist and those of a pastor. He had labored eighteen years as a pastor, but it was always on the condition that a portion of the year should be devoted to his labors as an evangelist. He could not tell them how much he had been affected by the numbers of persons from all parts of the United Kingdom whom he had met in America, and who testified to the benefit they had derived from the perusal of his works,-- more especially of his Lectures; and it was the interest which these circumstances had excited that induced him to come. For a time he was prevented by the state of his health, and then by his public duties; but for the last twelve years he had been constantly entertaining the idea of coming, and he had accordingly taken the first opportunity at which God had seemed to open the way. On arriving in England, as Dr. Campbell had said, he passed straight through London, and went down into Huntingdonshire. He soon afterwards came up and preached several sermons at the Boroughroad Chapel. Then he returned to the Provinces, and labored first in Huntingdonshire, then in Birmingham, and subsequently in Worcester. Various rumors were circulated respecting him, and the first minister he saw told him that reports were circulated that he (Mr. Finney) had become an infidel! Now, this minister had himself been rescued from infidelity by the perusal of his works! Before he had been long in Birmingham, Mr. James received various letters calling in question his orthodoxy; some said he was a Unitarian, some a low Arminian, and some a Perfectionist; and all united in warning Mr. James lest he should aid in the diffusion of heresy! But he appealed to Mr. James, whose position in the matter had assumed importance, at once to satisfy himself, and forthwith to pronounce upon the matter. Mr. James had abundant opportunities of hearing him, but not satisfied with this, he handed him two volumes of his "Theology," wherein the said errors were reported to be found. These volumes Mr. James and Dr. Redford, of Worcester --in whose logical and theological acumen Mr. James had great confidence--submitted to three days careful examination. So satisfied were they with their general soundness and accuracy, that Dr. Redford urged their publication in this country for the benefit of the British public. Subsequently, he went to preach for Dr. Redford, when the subject again came up, and he handed his volumes to the Doctor, with the request that he would go through them, and make such criticisms and corrections as would enable him to make himself understood by British theologians. This Dr. Redford did; and, without his solicitation, had also, at the instance of the publisher, consented to have his name appear on the title page as Editor.
Dr. Campbell: It ought to be known that I advised Mr. Finney to get Dr. Redford, who had read the work to write a preface, but he said, "Let the book go alone, and stand on its own merits." Mr. Tegg, however, knew his business better, and secured it.
Mr. Finney: The present publication by Mr. Tegg contains only a part of my Theological system, which was necessary to meet the necessities of my theological class in their preparation for theological examination; and further, the Oberlin edition, as Dr. Campbell observes, was not very nicely got up. In fact, the firm to whom the printing was entrusted had but just commenced business, and this was the first book they ever produced. I myself wrote them under so great a pressure, that I could not edit it properly, so that that portion of the labor was committed to other hands. I wrote them at the rate of one a day, in the midst of all my other duties, and therefore it is not to be wondered at if they needed revision. I have no doubt you may find errors even in the present English edition; but those who know what I have been doing here, will find sufficient excuse in the multiplicity and continuity of my engagements. I may just observe, that, although I am not pecuniarly interested in the sale of this work, which is the property of the Publisher, yet I am interested--and deeply interested--in its being read. I want people to read it and to judge for themselves.
But I never meant to speak so much of myself. The fact is, I never attended a meeting of this kind before, or any meeting of which I was myself so much the subject. As to the manner in which I have been received in this country, I may say that I have been greatly affected by the way in which I have been treated, especially by those ministers and others with whom I have become personally acquainted. I have felt myself more and more at home amongst you, and more and more united to all Christians. Let me say with respect to Dr. Campbell,--as he spoke of me so freely,--that Mr. James said to me, "I want to have you see Dr. Campbell. I think you will find in him a kindred spirit in the work in which you are engaged." Dr. Redford also said, "I want you to go to the Tabernacle, for Dr. Campbell will stand by you." He also intimated that Dr. Campbell was "not afraid." (Great laughter.) Now, I wanted to find a man who could stand fire. (Increased laughter.) I know that a minister, to stand by me under such circumstances, must have some brass in his face, and some firmness in his heart, and a strong determination to stand for the sake of truth. I have now lived nine months in the Doctor's family,--and I always love to live with the pastor with whom I labor, that I may get at his heart daily, and he at mine, so that if there be any running to and fro and talking, we may understand each other,--I have been, as I said, nine months in his house, and I can most cheerfully reciprocate what he has said of me,--"the more I know him, the more I love him." That he would agree with me in all things I never expected. I have my own views, and I express them freely, and I allow my brethren to do the same. I do not say, I will not tolerate them because they do not agree with me; for if they do not agree with me, it is because I do not agree with them. Nevertheless, I call no man a heretic who maintains the fundamental truths of the Gospel, and such a man I cordially love. If he holds the fundamental truths of the Gospel, I bid him God-speed. I have published my views with pen and voice, and expect others to do the same. However some may prefer to see every truth together and adhere unreservedly to a stereotyped orthodoxy, independent minds cannot do so, so long as the progress of mind is what it is. Again, it is all the more honorable to religion when it is found that men holding diverse views can bid each other God-speed in the great work. Because they have the same aim they unite; and, if they do not exactly agree, yet they do not quarrel.
I have my own way of doing things, and can do them in no other man's way. Of course, a man must be crazy to undertake the pastoral office, and set about the work as a mere Evangelist would. I plough my own church up afresh every year, but I do not confine myself to that species of labor. My discourses have embraced a very extensive range, which, of course, I should neither have had time nor inclination to accomplish had I been simply an Evangelist.
For my dear wife, to whom, with myself, you have presented these beautiful volumes,--for which I most cordially thank you,--I may say, that we have found warm and loving hearts here. We have met with a greeting which has greatly delighted us in Dr. Campbell's family. We have seen the hand of God in that family, and we shall never forget it as long as we remember anything.
Mr. Finney concluded his address by a pathetic appeal to the young Converts, whom he urged to come forward and announce themselves to Dr. Campbell and his officers. This, he said, was simply justice to them, that they might glorify God for the success which had attended their efforts. He then went into copious details of his own emotions towards the spot on which he was converted, and described his grief at finding the beautiful grove transformed into a simple field. He could not take his leave of them on that occasion, as he hoped to address them once more on Wednesday (this evening). He would not indulge in any appeal to their sensibilities. When he left them his heart would still remain with them; his body departed, but his heart remained; and when he was pushing away o'er the mighty deep, he asked them to pray that the Lord would bless and preserve them, and give the winds and the waves a charge concerning them, that they injure them not.
Dr. Brown, of Cheltenham, who had been an interested auditor during the lengthened service, on the stroke of ten o'clock, received intimation from the pastor, that the few closing minutes would be accorded to him; and the Doctor, in standing up, intimated that the eyes of multitudes in all parts of the kingdom were now being directed towards this spot, and that they were anxiously waiting the result of these special movements, apprising the converts, that they, in a great measure, held the honor of the movement and of those concerned in it in their own hands. In confirmation of this, he stated a most touching fact which occurred in Dorsetshire, and which came under his own eye--the case of a wife whose persecutions from her husband were severe in the extreme, but who combined the utmost meekness with the most unflinching firmness, the result of which was completely to overcome her husband, who became, in the end, himself a companion of her pilgrimage, and a man of exemplary piety and eminent usefulness. The fact gave a beautiful finish to the interesting service.
It may be proper to state, that, with one or two exceptions, the numerous expressions of intense interest and sympathy with which the addresses were interspersed, to economise space, have been suppressed in the report. Altogether the service was one which will be long remembered.
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