The Oberlin Evangelist
November 21, 1860
From The Congregational Herald.
The Oberlin Evangelist says that President Finney is to commence, on the first of January next, the publication in that paper, of a series of sermons embracing most of those discourses which he has been accustomed to preach in revivals. Thousands will rejoice to see this announcement, and will pray that his life may be spared to complete the series.
And we are confident we shall but echo the voice of thousands when we say that Mr. Finney ought to write and publish, or leave behind him, a detailed history of the great revivals in Central New York which occurred in connection with his early labors. Such a work must be largely autobiographical, and should be written, we think, without delay. We are aware this may be thought a remarkable suggestion. We will give our reasons for making it, somewhat after Mr. Finney's own method of sermonizing.
1. Future generations will be eager to know the whole history of a man who was the means of the conversion of so many thousands of souls, both in this country and in the father land, and who has awakened so general an interest in the whole subject of revivals. That eagerness, as the world moves toward the Millennium, will be vastly greater than that manifested in the history of a conquerer, though he may have been the hero of a hundred battles.
2. It is evident that no other pen can supply the place of Mr. Finney's in this work. His friends would be partial, and his enemies would not be impartial. No one else can give us a reliable account of his early life. And this reason has greater emphasis as his years increase and his contemporaries are laid in the grave. Mr. F. is already approaching three score and ten.
3. Many apocryphal stories of his conversion and his early labors, are already afloat, and they will multiply rather than diminish, unless there is some authentic record with which they may be compared.
4. Unless Mr. Finney himself give it, the history of those wonderful displays of Divine grace--the early revivals at Rochester, Rome, Whitesboro, Utica, and other places--will, to a great degree, be lost to the church. Most of the generation who witnessed them have already passed away, and no one person was with Mr. F. in them all. The facts have never been put on record. They exist nowhere but in Mr. F.'s memory. It is a solemn duty he owes to the church of Christ to preserve this portion of her history.
5. It is understood, or at least it has been asserted, that Mr. Finney in his riper years admits serious mistakes in his early labors. He owes it to posterity to tell precisely what those mistakes were, and "what they were not," that (1.) his admirers may not imitate them, and (2.) that his enemies may not use his own authority to condemn what his mature judgment approved.
6. Such a book, written in Mr. Finney's simple, lucid style, would be read by millions, and, there is reason to believe, would of itself be a means of grace to thousands. The details of his conversion and his Christian experience will preach to a multitude of captivated readers who would not read his sermons.
7. The world will better understand his theology when they have his experience to interpret it, and know the process through which his own mind was carried.
We might easily go on to Fifteenthly, but seven good reasons are enough. We entreat Mr. Finney to weigh these reasons; and we charge his immediate friends to see that he does not neglect this work. We should not have said thus much except for the conviction that this important history is in danger of being lost to the world.
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