Elizabeth and Charles Finney to Julia Finney

22 July 1859


[Ms in Finney Papers, Supplement # 76. The first part of this letter is in the handwriting of Elizabeth Finney.]


31 Arbour Square

Commercial Road

July 20th 1859

My Precious Daughter

Your letter of June gave us much pleasure

and we rejoice in every effort you put forth for benefitting your

fellow creatures - We here see so much to do - so many that seem

uncared for, and who are pressing their way down to the gates

of death, that our hearts sicken within us, in our feebleness &

our inability to reach out a helping hand to the multitude

and the conviction that these must perish, is distressing

in the highest degree - The poverty - the degradation - the

utter reckless ness of those that walk these streets every night

is perfectly appalling - We live on a square - a little

retired form the public road, but the police in taking

persons to the police station often pass our dwelling &

to see so many women, without hats and with rugged

dirty dresses some with babies in their arms, and some

young who would be very pretty were they dressed neatly


taken to the police station, I am ready to ^ "Oh! that my head

were waters and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I

might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter

of my people" - The poverty that every where meets your

eye - the blind beggar appealing to your sympathies, the

poor creatures that dare not beg, holding out a match

box for you to buy - well dear Julia you would not

be able to bring home any money in your pockets

I am quite sure if all this should meet your eye

[page 2]

Then you go to the West End and see the elegant equipages

the elegant dress of those riding - with coach men and footmen in

their liveries - the stately palaces of the rich, and one is almost

ready to wonder at the extremes permitted by an allwise God

Surely Gods ways and works are unsearchable - But we know

that the Judge of earth will do right -- -

July 21st Last night the meeting was well attended & solemn

after the sermon a young lady introduced herself as one that

attended at the Tabernacle when we were in London before

and was converted at that time -She is now a member of

another church, and her efforts to do good greatly interested

me - She says she has two hundred families whom she

visits regularly - I inquired how often she could get around

to see them all - Can you see them as often as once in two

months - Oh! yes - more frequently than that - she said

her employment was sewing books and the thought of her

charge made the needle fly more swiftly - then she

provides a tea for them occasionally - and how often do

you give this public tea? - Oh as often as I can lay by

money enough to defray the expense - and how much

is the expense? about 5/ - this is ten shillings our money

She says I invite the men by them selves - about 30 at a

time - sometimes I am obliged to invite them several

times before they will come - but by this means I get

them to attend worship in the house of God - and many

a man has blessed me for getting him to the tea meeting

as that had been the means of his conversion to God

After tea is over she will sometimes get a missionary to

address them - sometimes she speaks to them herself

and often she says they will hear me when they

would not listen to a man - and God so blesses me

in this work

[page 3]

There have been two very striking providences in connexion with

the preaching - You must know that one of the services

is held in the old church first built by the Hugenots

when they fled from the persecution in France - The first

Sunday June 27 Mr Finney preached in this all day - in

the morning his text was - my spirit shall not always strive

with man - The sermon was powerful in its influence

upon the congregation - many remained for instruction &

many seemed to submit to God - One person, a lady, was

very deeply impressed with the sermon, and it was said she

could talk of little else while she lived, before the week closed

she was dead - On Sunday last Mr Finney preached again

in the same church, In the evening his sermon was on the

worth of the soul." He repeated this solemn warning

to those who delayed to accept of salvation as a reason

why they should now close in with the offers of mercy

One man who sat near me said to some of the gentlemen

who are leaders in the society - I feel enough to go forward

to night for prayers - but he did not - and on Monday

night he expired in a fit - These providences affect

many and it is fearful, the risk people are willing

to run of losing their immortal souls - The work

of God is deepening and widening - every sermon

is telling upon the hearts of multitudes - I have a

meeting at 1/2 past three at the chapel where Mr Finney

preaches and then tea is provided - We then have

another meeting for those who can not come in the afternoon

The last meeting is often the most interesting - We now

in Glasgow

expect to leave here, spend Sunday 14th of August ^ &

then go to Edinburgh for the 21st to remain there

[page 4]

a month or two - We are not yet so situated dear Julia

that we can send for you - You judge rightly of Father

he will undoubtedly be wavering at least till Winter sets

in - Still he may see his way more clearly marked out, by

& by - Friday 22d Precious Julia. I must write to you a few

words. It is quite out of the question I am persuaded for us to

think of sending for you. I am unwilling to have you still kept

in a state of expectation only to be disappointed. I was happy to

learn from your letter that you was not sorely disappointed at

not being sent for. Avarice is the intensified sin of England.

The fear of our being chargable to them was a great hindrance to the

cordiality with which we are invited to come to England as I

have since learned. When the question of your coming has come

up I can see how the question of expense is constantly before them.

I dont want you here to be a guest for a few days here & a few days

there. It would mortify you & me. It would hinder us & do

you no good. The families that have asked us to send for you

are not so situated as to give you an opportunity for seeing

or hearing or improv[em]ent in any way. Every week only convinces me

more & more of the unwisdom of sending for you. Besides my

pecuniary circumstances forbid it. Let therefore this matter rest.

In regard to remaining with Helen or going to Oshkosh, I hope

you will make it a question of duty. Where can you be most

useful. I rejoice that this is coming to be the question with you. So

it must ever be if you are to be saved. So far as comfort is

concerned, or pecuniary considerations, & any consideration except

that of doing good to those who need our labors we should be

indefinitely better off at home. But when we survey the dessolations

the many reasons for remaining here as long as we can stand

it, the question of duty alone keeps us here. Be content my

precious Julia to live & die for God & souls. We may return this autumn

but if able to labor I think we shall remain until Spring. C. G. Finney



Jeremiah 9:1. Mrs. Finney had written this people at first, but altered this to my.

In her Journal, Mrs Finney wrote under the date of July 3rd:

Mr Jones mentioned a very solemn fact - On Sund[ay] last a person was greatly impressed with the sermon my Spirit shall not always strive with man - She went home and could talk of nothing but the sermon - before the next Sabbath she was dead and we fear without hope ("Journal", p.47).

Finney, in his Memoirs also mentions this incidence as follows:

One Sabbath evening I had invited them "to come forward around the altar," as the Methodists express it, and give their hearts to God. One lady who was present refused to come forward, but was observed by those immediately around her to be in great agony of mind. They invited and urged her to go forward, but she declined. I had made a strong appeal to them not to hesitate; and as I frequently did, had warned them that might be their last opportunity. But for some reason this lady did not come forward. The next morning she was called to visit a friend who was dangerously ill at a distance from London, and she set off in the morning on the railroad to make this visit. She had been strongly exercised in her mind through the night, and her agony had been too great to permit her to sleep; but for some reason she could not be persuaded to submit. She started on this journey, and died on the railroad carriage before she arrived at her destination. Her friends in the congregation immediately reported this to me as a very striking and affecting fact (Memoirs, pp. 588-89).

In her Journal, Mrs Finney wrote under the date July 17th:

Mr Finney preached at Browns Lane - The solemn death of the woman was alluded to and a solemn warning given - A man sat just in front of me - he felt deeply - said to some one he felt enough to go forward for prayers - Monday night he died in a fit - a second warning not to delay repentance ("Journal", p. 48).

Finney wrote in his Memoirs:

On the next Sabbath evening, when I had made the call for them to come forward, I related this fact to the crowded congregation, and again warned them that might be their last time. There was then a man in the congregation who was in great distress of mind; which being observed by his friends they urged him till I think he went forward, but reluctantly. But when he had come forward, he refused to give his heart to God. The brethren remained and prayed for him, if I recollect right, after the service was over, and took much pains to try to bring him to Christ, but in vain. He stood out against all their entreaties. The next day he died in an apoplectic fit. These two very striking cases made a great impression upon the people that attended worship there (Memoirs, p. 589)

The rest of the letter is by Finney.

An almost identical sentence to this was quoted by Alfred Vance Churchill in his sketch of Finney in "Midwestern: Early Oberlin Personalities." Northwest Ohio Quarterly, Vol. 23, No. 4, (Autumn 1951), p. 237:

Neither money nor personal comfort could sway him from the path. Engaged in revival work in England, he writes to his daughter Helen: "So far as comfort is concerned, or pecuniary consideration, and any consideration except that of doing good to others who need our labors, we should be indefinitely better off at home."

Whether Churchill was quoting from the letter to Julia, and wrongly attributes it to Helen, or whether Finney had written an almost identical sentence in a letter to Helen is not known.