The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY
To Henry Cowles
15 March 1859
[MS in Oberlin College Archives 30/27]
London. 15. Feb. 1859
Dear Br. Cowles,
I thank you for yours of the
23d ult, just recd. I am much interested in
the spirited manner in which the people
of O. took hold of the work of endowment.
Every day is revealing more & more clearly
that the way of the Lord is prepared &
preparing in England for a great
revival of religion. There are many obstacles
& adversaries but never was I more pressed
with earnest invitations to "come over & help
us than since I have been in England.
Nor have I ever seen more encouragement to
labor for souls than now & here. Every blow
tells with unmistakable power. The work
at Houghton & St. Ives where we spent a few
weeks after our arrival, was & is very interes
ting. We have been in london 3. Sabs. For the
time the works has made most cheering progress.
Several of the city churches are calling for our
labors. In every direction out of the metropolis
calls are constantly reaching us for labor.
The ears of the masses in this densely
crowded country are open. It is
affecting to see how anxious they are
male & female to hear every word that we
have strength to say to them. The females
will hang for any length of time upon every
word that wife can say to them. & while I
have power to speak a mixed congregation
will sit to hear me. They do not hear in vain.
The Spirit of the Lord is present to give efficacy
to the Word. My Dear Wife has already overdone
her strength. She has been laid up for several
days. She can not be restrained when the people
are so anxious to hear. I really fear that she
will kill herself outright. She is better but
looks & is feeble & worn. God will order all
things well. We can not yet speak of returning.
I trust our hearts are open to Divine guidance.
Dear Mary has gone home. Well we can not
mourn for her, but rather for the living.
I trust you will succeed with the endowment.
May the Lord direct & help you. I am sorry
to hear so little of the religious progress
in Oberlin this winter. No one has written
me of any special religious interest there.
This oppres[s]es me. I have no hope for Oberlin
if their zeal for the conversion of souls & the
sanctification of believers abates & subsides.
I[t] matters not at all to me how much of money
or of students or of any thing else they have.
The more of these things the worse if the
leaders fail to be intently aggressive in the
direction of spiritual progress. In this
respect I am jealous of & for Oberlin. Many
fears are excited & unabated. I am sure
that blindness at least in part has
happened to many in O. on this great matter.
I have never loved, never cared for or
prayed for Oberlin as I have this winter.
I have never felt its importance as I now
do if its spiritual standard can
be kept up. But my fears on this head are
oppressive. I can not tell you how much I
fear or how much I feel on this point.
Since I left & have had time for much reflection
& prayer I have been all the more confirmed
in the impressions I mentioned to you before
I left. What is to be done to hold the college
to the point for which it was established.
The alarming fact is that the leaders do not seem
to think that any thing needs to be done.
Oberlin is well enough. Better than ever
seems to be their impression. How long will
this state of things continue. The Lord bless
you & your[s] & your present work my Dear Brother
Yours in the best of bonds
C. G. Finney
Internal evidence indicates that Finney should have written March here instead of Feb. See footnotes 2-4.
This letter is not in the Finney Papers. 23 ult must have been 23 February, since Henry Cowles evidently refers to the death of his daughter Mary, which occurred on 2 February.
The Finney's had arrived in England on 1 January 1859, and had spent until February 24th holding meetings for the revival of religion in Houghton and St. Ives in Huntingdonshire. See Finney, Memoirs, pp. 576-79.
Finney started preaching at Borough Road Chapel in Southwark, on Sunday February 27th, so that his third Sabbath there, was 13 March. This letter must therefore have been written on Tuesday 15th March, rather than in February. See Elizabeth Atkinson Finney's "Journal", p.30.
The reading here is uncedrtain.
Mrs Finney wrote in her Journal on March 21st:
I have been quite ill since writing [on March 9th]. My lungs seemed seriously affected - this was attended with chills & fever. Thank God I am now better.
Mary Louisa Cowles was the youngest daughter of Henry Cowles. She died of tuberculosis on 2 February 1859, aged 19 years. At the time of her death she was a member of the Freshman year in the College. See the obituary by her father in The Oberlin Evangelist, 16 February 1859, p. 31; and Robert S. Fletcher, "Oberlin in the Fifties As Recorded by Twelve-year-old- Mary Louisa Cowles" in The Oberlin Alumni Magazine, XXVII (May 1931), pp. 233-237.