The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY
To Rebecca Rayl
26 September 1865
[MS in the possession of Mr. Ivor Anderson of Ludington, Michigan.]
Envelope: Address: Rev. J. L. Patton.
Norwalk Bronson, Huron co. Ohio.
Stamp: 3 cent embossed
Postmark: Oberlin O - Sep 26
Oberlin 26th. Sept, 1865.
Dear Mrs Rayl,
I have not heard from
you since friday & of course am
anxious to know how you are &
how Julia is getting along.
I requested you not to exhaust your
self by writing to me or to any one
else. If you can not write without
too much fatigue will not Bro. Patten
inform me often how you & Julia are.
There is a good deal of sickness here.
Esqr Prentiss died suddenly in a fit
yesterday. Isaach Penfield is very sick
& so are several others. Sabbath was
a solemn & a searching day. The
whole congregation was deeply moved
& at the close of service in the P.M.
nearly the whole congregation rose under
a searching appeal to commit them
selves then & there to God. Some & I
believe many were cut quite down
by the sword of the Spirit. The prayer-
meetings & enquiry meeting showed a
deep & manifest work of the Holy spirit.
Of course my hands & heart have
enough to do. I hope my Dear one,
that you will not be entirely over
done & brought down to a sick bed
by all that you are passing through.
I am not without fear that you will
presume too much upon your good
constitution & so trespass as to be
In regard to our relations I would
merely say that since you left I am
more than ever convinced that we
have both been altogether too much
influenced by an outside pressure, &
that if we expect to really & permanently
please ourselves & honor God we must
resolutely discard this outside influ
ence & manage our own affairs.
My great weakness is that I am too
easily persuaded by my friends.
On great questions I seldom dare
consult them lest I should be
persuaded by them without
following my own deliberate judgment.
In this case I have not sought counsel
but have had abundance of it
volunteered, no doubt from good mo
tives, but enough to frighten me when
I reflect upon the progress that we made
in so few days after we had deliberately
decided that it was wise to give up all
idea of marriage. I have never really
believed, I can now see, that your judgement
was fully convinced that it was best
& wise for us to marry. I am thankful
for an opportunity to think, & pray, & be
more thoroughly satisfied in regard
to this matter. Such a hold have your
lady friends gotten of your confidence
& your heart, that I should not feel
that I had a wife if they must
intermeddle & know all my pastoral
secrets, which are often sacred, but must
be known to my wife. Darling, when
God allows us to meet again
we will take the course that will
please him. We will not be inf[l]u-
enced by any one but God in our
decissions & conduct in relation
to this matter. I want much to see
you & shall not fail to do so as soon
as providence gives you leizure to see
me. Julia was so sick when you last
wrote that I am apprehensive that our
next intelligence will be discouraging.
Do not infer from what I have said in this
or in my previous letters that I am shaken
in mind in respect to you. What I mean is
to disenthrall ourselves from such outside
pressure as to be able hereafter to respect ourselves
as having had a mind of our own, & as
having acted in accordance with our own
unbiased convictions in whatever course we
decide to take. God Bless you my Precious
one, & help you in this hour of trial
with the sickness of Dear Julia.
Of course, I shall be most happy to hear from
you whenever it consists with your duty to
write me. Love to all.
C. G. Finney
According to Ivor Anderson, the reason that the letter is addressed to Rev James L. Patton, is that Finney had made arrangements with Patton to pass on the letter to Mrs. Rayl, who was residing there, thus preventing the post office employees at Oberlin from knowing that the College President was considering marrying for the third time with the resulting gossip. This is probably correct. Finney had made a similar arrangement when he was courting his second wife. According to his great-granddaughter, Mary Rudd Cochran: "My grandmother, Helen Finney then Mrs. Cochran, later Mrs. Cox, told me that while her father and Mrs. Atkinson were corresponding, she addressed his letters to Mrs. Atkinson and Mrs. Atkinson addressed her letters to Grandmother instead of to Mr. Finney." (Mary Rudd Cochran to Miss Eileen Thornton, Librarian of Oberlin College, October 31, 1960)