To George Whipple

Secretary of the American Missionary Association

10 May 1870


[MS in American Missionary Association Papers, #115666 & 7, Amistad Research Center, Tulane University.]


Oberlin 10th May 1870.

Dear Br. Whipple.

Yours of the 6th is recd.

You can not depend on me

for the article you desire.

In laboring for the promotion of

revivals I have not often known

their antecedents enough to make

an impression upon me that

I can recal[l] except in a

few instances. Our revivals

or rather revival here, has been

so nearly continuous that I

am not the right man to

write the article in question.

In my experience revivals have

produced cheerful & bountiful

appropriations to christ rather


than ^ preceeded by them. I have

often known penurious churches

made bountiful by revivals.

[page 2]

When a church considers itself

as doing its duty in giving &

doing for the cause of Christ it

is difficult to convict them of sin

& secure a revival in their hearts.

They can not see that they need a

revival, & indeed they do not

if they are doing their duty.

It is astonishing that Christians

should make a righteousness of

giving, but they often do, & even

ministers will think their

churches in a good state if

they give considerable & pay

their salaries beside. They will

seem content with this when

in fact there is not faith enough

in the church, minister & all

to convert one sinner a month

from year to year. Some minis

ters & churches reckon their prosper

ity & usefulness by the amount

they give & not by the number

[page 3]

of souls they win to christ.

Suppose this method of estima

tion should become general,

the end would be lost in

the abundance of means.

Spiritual churches & christians

if well taught will do their

duty in giving, but it is often

dangerous to set a sinner

or a backslider in heart

to give as a means of getting.

I am more & more afraid of making

clean the outside, & see more

& more clearly that we must

begin with the heart & keep

the heart in sympathy with

christ & giving will result

of course. Take an opposite

course & we may mu[l]tiply converts

who are only pharisees & the

most reprobate of sinners.

I fear I can not in a word

make you understand me.

[page 4]

Agents & Managers of benevolent

societies are so set upon getting

funds & need funds so much

that they are apt to give or deny

credit as more or less money is

forth coming. As if money were of

essential value whereas I regard

both the raising of it & the use

of it as a curse when there

is not faith & spiritual power

enough to win souls to christ.

Much money & but few conversions

This is sickening, discouraging,

wicked. A brother in England who

gives his money like a prince made

a calculation a few years ago what

the conversion of each soul cost in money.

He convinced himself that the whole

wealth of England could not at this

rate convert its souls. I would to God

that a thousand times more money wer[e]

given but ten times more faith would

do ten times more good with less money

than is now given. Men will give their

[page 5]

money & withhold their hearts.

This is our greatest error

at present. I know men &

women who have no money

to give who convert more

souls, which is the end of money

giving, than whole churches

who are well satisfied with

themselves because they give

of their abundance without

a particle of self denial.

If the Church had faith like

a grain of mustard seed she

would secure the conversion

of the world without so much

effort to raise money. Money would

come fast enough if there was a

spirit & a power that would

convert souls. Under the

pretense of showing their

faith by their works they

are really trying to get on

by works without faith enough

[page 6]

to convert scarcely any souls.

Faith will bring out the money

but money will not bring out

faith. How much ado about

money & how little about faith.

O, if there could but be a universal

cry for faith ten times less

would need be said about

money & money would accomplish

a thousand fold more

than it does now. Few I

know will understand &

sympathise with this view.

I have not & never had a

zeal for raising money unless

I can see that there is faith

enough to prevent the abuse

& secure the effectual use of it.

But I did not intend to say

all the above but only to inform

you that I am not the man to write

the article in question. I am

afraid I should hinder instead of

help. God bless you.

C. G. Finney



This letter is not in the Finney Papers.

This was probably Potto Brown of Houghton. See Finney, Memoirs, p. 481, note 19.