The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY
To Jacob Helffenstein
8 March 1832
[Autograph signed letter in Finney Papers, Box 9.]
Boston 8 March 1832.
Dear Brother Helfenstein.
Your favor came to hand
to day. I must reply in a word. As to the measures
used in your protracted meeting, I have seen enough
to know that it is impossible to form a correct
opinion of a measure unless all the circumstances
under which it was adopted are before the mind.
Whether measures are new or old is nothing in
my judgment. We have the law & gospel in our
hands & are to take the best way in our power
to bring men under their influence. In regard to
measures I do not ask whether the measure
is [new or old] expressly commended or recognised in scripture.
The questions are, Is it consistent with the bible.
I.E. Is it not inconsistent with its letter or spirit?
Is its tendency good&emdash; Is it so liable to abuse
that the precedent would be dangerous? Or not?
Is it a common sense way of brining truth
in contact with the mind? [Or] Is it so strange
as greatly to shock the church & lead to vain
gangling? Or is it so in accordance with
common sense as to have the good sense
of thinking men in its favor. Does God own
& bless it. Is it consistent with order, & conducive
to deep thought & solemnity. Such questions as these
I should ask & the answer, would settle my
mind. I will not express an opinion in relation
[along the left-hand margin of page 1}
# If as some contend we must use no measures for which we have
not an express "thus saith the Lord," I would ask what "thus saith the Lord"
have the Churches for nearly all their forms of publick worship. & many
to your meeting. I presume had I been on the
ground, your views & my own wd not have materially
differed. The least said about such things the better.
As to every thing like confusion, or that naturally
leads to it, it should in my judgment be avoided
by all means. What you say of loud responses I should
think reasonable, & do not think you & I should differ
on that subject. I know Br. Burchard well. He
needs instruction much. Br. Myrick wrote me expressing
this opinion. Br. Johnson wrote me a long letter from
which I should think that he has been excited upon
this subject. He thought I ought to have written to you instead
of Br. Gillett. I have informed him why I wrote to Br. G.
& need not repeat what I said to him as you have
probably seen it. I want to say to you, & let you
say to our friends in that region confidentially
that they are watched, that if they are not on
their guard I fear that we shall soon have a
second edition of the New Lebanon convention.
Already letters are circulating. One was recd in
this city a few days since from a D.D. in that state
complaining bitterly of various things. Strictly inter nos.
If they dare do it, we should soon have a fire around
our ears. & let any thing be done which shall afford a
handle & you will again see a tremendous conflict.
I could tell you much upon this subject.
Let our brethren be on their guard. I dont mean
that they should be afraid to do their duty. But
they must not suppose that the Devil is dead
or asleep, or that the battle is so far won
that the soldiers may be for a moment off
their guard. I communicate these sentiments
to you. It would be well to keep my letter to
yourself as every thing from me will be laid
hold of to increase the excitement that
about measures. My health has b
poor this winter. Almost every one has
& multitudes have died. Our meetin
greatly from this source. My family h
deal ill also. Mrs Finney has now a c
days old. of course is ill. The rest of u
comfortable. The Lord is here especially a
congregation to which I preach. I shall proba
be there early in the summer & I hope you will
not leave till [I] come. Our Love to your dear wife.
I would say that I am sorry that she is sick
were it not that her sickness is of God.
Br. H. the truth is, that every revival man
must be himself, & must & will have a way
of his own. If his way is not unscriptural it
is unreasonable & ridiculous to complain
that "he followeth not with us." & so "forbid him."
It is desirable & indispensible that men should be
different in their manner & to some extent in their
measures. Different manners & measures arrest the
attention of different classes of society. So that
more are saved than if all preachers were run
in one mould. When shall we have an edition of
common sense from any D.D. Your Brother.
C. G. Finney
[along the left hand margin]
P.S. Dont understand me to insinuate that the same men who attended
the New Lebanon convention would again think of any such thing.
But other men are getting very uneasy. some at the west & some
at the east.