The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY
To the Faculty of Oberlin College
16 January 1851
[[MS in Treasurer's Office File, 7/1/5, Oberlin College Archives (Microfilm of Letters Received by Oberlin College, 1822-1866, Roll 13)
Finney received the following letter from the Faculty of Oberlin College:
Oberlin, Dec. 10, 1850
Dear Br. Finney
When your letter came to Brs. Keep & Morgan informing us of your full intention to return in the Spring, Prof. Morgan was appointed to inform you of the great satisfaction felt by all the brethren in the prospect of seeing you again in the position in the Institution which all believed was all-important to its prosperity. But a desire to be able to send you more definite information on other points & the great absorbtion of time & strength in numberless meetings to perfect business arrangements to set the scholarship system going, have prevented Prof M. from executing his commission, & now several of the brethren are out on agencies, but you may be assured that the interest in your return & the cordial feeling towards you are increased in the Faculty.
The Faculty agree fully with you that we would better have no President at all than to have a man who is not the right one. When you are here, all that needs to be done on the subject, can be, we trust, with a disposition all round to consult the general good alone. All will be of course disposed to defer to your feelings, because [page 2] you are our natural head & leader, & we know that your fraternal spirit will sufficiently incline you to wish to act in entire harmony with your sons & brethren.
The theological students & others rejoice in the prospect of your return. In the upper classes they are not so numerous as to interfere with your plans for writing; but the Junior Class will be respectable in numbers & character - in the last of which respects the upper classes are beyond the average run of our young men. The Senior College Class are much pleased with the hope of your instruction in Moral Philosophy.
The church & congregation will rejoice once more to hear your voice. You are remembered with unabated interest & affection by almost all. There is a state of union here beyond, altogether beyond what would have been expected after the excitement arising out of the President's matters. The large subscription of the community for the endowment, nearly $20,000, clearly shows that they have not lost confidence in the Faculty or Trustees of the Institution. The subscription was obtained in a very few days after it was started & was almost double what we hoped for. [page 3] Through Br. Monroe's agency, Amherst has subscribed about $1500, Pittsfield over $2000, & Brownhelm $600 with a prospect of almost doubling it,
Father Keep & Prof Hudson have gone to apply to wealthy friends. As yet we have heard but little from them - they have been gone but a short time.
Great confidence is felt in the success of the plan adopted - but if we had the aid of your personal influence, we should feel that we had a great addition to our force. We must leave it to your judgment whether something might not be properly asked of English friends of yourself & your Theology.
We trust we shall see you & Mrs. Finney with good health & in good spirits as early in the Spring as navigation is comfortable. Your English friends will not be more sorry to see you take your leave of them than we shall be glad to welcome you to your old home & old friends. The Lord preserve & prosper us in our respective spheres till that day. Your affectionate brethren
Dascomb } John Morgan
Hudson } absent N.W. Hodge.
Penfield } J.H. Fairchild
Whipple } absent Geo. N. Allen
Monroe, sick H. Hill
[address:] Rev. C. G. Finney
Finney's reply is as follows:
Tabernacle House. Finsbury. London. 16th Jan 1851.
Faculty of Oberlin College.
My Dear Brethren
By the last mail I recd your
joint communication & thank you for your expressions of
confidence in & affection for me. Be assured, Dear Brethren,
that I fully reciprocate your sentiments of fraternal regard.
My labors are, at present, too exhausting to admit of
my writing you as fully, on some points, as I could wish.
However it is the less important that I should do so, since
I hope so soon to see you. I find a London winter clim
ate to be very trying to my health. So much so as seriously to
threaten me with the necessity of abandoning this, at present,
most interesting field of Spiritual labor. Should I be forced to
do so, I so much need rest that I should take passage for
America & make my way to O. D.V. ^ but for the immense
wear & tear of a winter passage westward across the
Atlantic. At present however, my health seems to be improving
& I hope soon to be able to get more out of Town for an
airing from day to day as I did in summer.
The work at the Tab. continues without abatement so far
as I can judge. During my absence, the congregation & the
interest considerably declined but I should think it is now
as hopeful as at any former period. We have, as yet, had
no cold weather. No snow, & very little frost. Rain
& smoke & dirt & the suffocating gases generated by millions
of coal fires, & millions of human & of animal lungs, render
the air quite unfit for respiration. I hear with concern that
Br. Munro is sick. The Lord spare his life. I hope to hear that he
is restored ere long.
I am happy to hear of the interest of the people in & around
Oberlin, in endowing the Institution. It seems to me that you
have hit upon the right plan. It has been a grievous hin
drance to the Faculty to be so straitened in their
I am also right glad that arrangements have been made
to improve the students in natural science. It has distressed
me to find that our ^ students had so little knowledge of some
matters of the highest practical moment. I find the same to be
true with many professed students on this side. The utter & dan
gerous ignorance of men in high places, of the laws of respiration
& ventillation. Of the nature & causes of atmospheric changes, of
the generation & affects of gases &c. &c. not only annoy me but
absolutely endanger my life, & waste my strength. Why when
we were building the church at O. & I was anxious to have the
scuttle with the blind over head, it was actually urged
by Pres. M. that the heated air from the roof would come
down upon the congregation instead of escaping at the windows.
Br. Mahan once said to me complaining of the prevailing system
of education, that when he was in college he did not know that
there were two cavities in the heart. I could hardly refrain
from telling him that now he was a Pres. he had not lea
rned that there were four. But enough of this. The same
want of utility has characterized the systems of education
on this side. Indeed their State University course is, if I
am rightly informed, highly ridiculous. Would you believe that
when a student gra[d]uates at either Oxford or Cambridge
the following oaths are taken by him. 1. That he will not break
the head of the Master of the college to which he belongs.
2. That he will not play at Marbles in the college yard before
ten oClock in the morning. 3. That he will not speak dispar
agingly of his Alma Mater. 4. That he is a veritable Mem
ber of the Church of England. You can hardly believe that
this is possible. But I am told by those who must know that
this is actually done to this day. But perhaps you are aware
that a commission has been appointed & is now in Session
designed to thoroughly reform the whole system of education.
It is destined to make a great excitement & to disturb the repose
of the present board of instruction, but the whole measure is
in such hands as to warrant the expectation of a most
important reform. So say the knowing ones.
The excitement here on the subject of Papal aggression
is prodigious but the interest & confidence in revivals &
revival efforts is also rapidly on the increase. Could
I remain here for a few years, & have health to push
matters I doubt not that a general movement would be
the result. Indeed at present it bids fair [to] do so. now.
I do not think it wise to make any effort to get money here for O.
There is a degree of sensibility & suspicion upon this subject
in this country that you can hardly understand. The inquiry
is frequently made ^ of me does he not mean to get money
for his college &c. &c. Indeed I find it difficult to get along
with the suspicion in some places. So many agents have
been over here after funds, that the people are sore.
And when their enormous load of taxes is considered
I do not wonder at their sensibility but rather admire
their patience. The state of the country in regard to intemp
erance is the greatest hindrance to revival efforts of any
that I have met with. As the law now stands in regard
to copy right I am about decided not to publish my theo
logy here at present. I expect to be at O. as early in the
spring as I can consistently with any comfort or health
in making the passage. I think, D.V. I shall be home in
April. May the Lord bless you my Dear Brethren.
Yours Most fraternally.
C. G. Finney,
Not for publication. P.S. Why would not Samuel Cochran make a good
Professor of Mental & Moral Philosophy at.O?
The letter is not in Oberlin College Archives.
Finney's letter was answered by John Keep in a letter dated November 18, 1850 (in the Finney Papers).