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.

[page 2]

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.

[page 4]

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.

[page 5]

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.