To John Starkweather

8 August 1831


[Copy, in Finney's handwriting, in the Finney Papers # 843]


New York 8th August 1831

Rev. & dear Brother

your letter with Br. Gulliver's

P.S. came to hand by the last mail. Two or 3 days

since I recd a communication from Dr. Beecher

saying that the question of my comming to Boston

had been discussed both before & since my letter to

the union church & that the ministers are united

in the opinion that it was inexpedient for me

to come. Their reasons for this opinion are doubtless

well understood by themselves, for it were uncharitable

to suppose that they would assume this responsibility

without good & substantial ground. And as they

are in circumstances to form a correct judgment

as to the state of things, I do not see why I may not

adopt their view of the subject & act accordingly.

You say that some persons in Boston think that I

erred in submitting this question to the decission of

your ministers, but such a step was, in my judgment

unavoidable. I have been extensively supposed by

New England ministers to be a kind of interloper

crowding myself in here & there where I was not wanted.

Dr. Beecher himself has viewed me in this light & accused

me of floating on the tide of popularity, & laying ministers

under a moral necessity of falling in with me & in my

hearing he most solemnly pledged himself to use his influ

ence to oppose me if I came to New England.

Having no evidence that Dr. B. had changed his purpose

I do not see how I could consent to visit Boston

with design to labor there unless I meant to challenge

or at least hazzard his opposition & the peace of the

churches. I purposely avoided stating expressly my reasons

for referring this question to the pastors, as I supposed it

was unnecessary & might perhaps excite some unpleasant


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nor would I now advert to them were it possible otherwise

to explain my motives for doing as I did. I entertain now

but the kindest feelings towards those brethren & must not do

any thing to weaken their union or their influence.

As the the opinion of those brethren is that I ought not to come

I dont think that my comming would be productive of

sufficient good to bal=lance out the evil that would result

from division. What confirms me in the opinion that I

ought not to go is that while Dr. Beecher expressed the

kindest feeling toward me he was particular to inform

me that the change in his sentiment towards me was

founded on a sufficient revolution or reformation in

my views & practices. Now it would be uncandid in

me encourage this idea & not frankly to acknowledge

the in this he is mistaken, that my views in regard to

doctrine & revivals of religion are not that I know of

materially changed. I hope that like other men I make

some advances in knowledge & gain advantage from

experience, but to encourage the idea that my views

of doctrine or of measures (under similar circumstances)

are changed were to do wrong. I have always supposed

& do now believe that Dr. Beecher has been but very imperfectly

acquainted with my real views and practices, but if has under

stood them & has been opposed to what I really have been

I have no reason to doubt but that he would feel so

still should he come in contact with me.

I hope those brethren who wish me to come to

New England & especially to Boston will act

discretly , & that no division may spring up among

the brethren they will let the matter rest.

Love to all the Holy brethren & may & the

grace & peace of God abound toward you forever C.G.F.