The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY
To The First Congregational Church, Oberlin
12 December 1870
[MS in First Church Records, 31/4/1, Oberlin College Archives]
At the 1870 annual meeting of the First Congregational Church, a committee was appointed "to confer with Pres. Finney and Prof John Morgan with reference to supplying the pulpit for the coming year." At the adjourned meeting, on October 10, the following minute was recorded :
Report of Com on supplying pulpit made. moved by Bro. Herrick that the com's report be accepted, and that in accordance with it we invite Rev. John Morgan to be assistant Pastor for the coming Year. Moved by Bro, Tambling and carried that the motion be amended by adopting the Com's report of last year on supplying the pulpit which is as follows:
Resolved, that Pres. Finney use his own discretion as soon as it may be practicable and engage in connection with the officers of the church, a suitable minister to assist him, who may labor with reference to a permanent pastorate of this church when he shall be no longer able to preach, and that the appropriation to be made this year as usual to pay an assistant pastor be appropriated to Rev. John Morgan if he shall consent to labor as such, until such other minister may be employed.
Under the date, December 10, 1870, the following minute was recorded:
The officers of the Church met by appointment of the Pastor at his house to take into consideration the calling of a Pastor to fill his place. He had informed them that it was his desire to resign, and had for some time been urging upon them the necessity of immediate action in securing his successor. Rev. H. C. Hayden of Painesville had filled the Pulpit on the previous Sabbath, on invitation of a committee of the officers of the church by the advice of the Pastor.
The following resolutions were adopted on the Pastor's recommendation
Resolved that we recommend to the First congregational church of Oberlin to call Rev. H. C. Hayden of Painesville to the Pastorate with a salary of three thousand dollars
Resolved that we call a meeting of the church to take action upon this subject at the meeting house, on monday the 12th inst at half past one o'clock Adjourned
Under the date, December 12, 1870, the following minute was recorded:
The church met according to previous notice to take action upon a call from the officers to recommend the calling to the Pastorate of Rev. H. C. Hayden
Rev. John Morgan in the chair. Meeting opened with prayer by the Chairman
The call for the meeting was then read.
The Chairman here stated that the Officers had entirely exceeded the powers delegated to them by the church, as they had only been instructed to secure an associate Pastor, and here they had recommended to the church to call a Pastor
Prof. Jas. Dascomb explained that the officers were aware that they were not acting entirely in accordance with the resolution authorizing them to secure an Associate Pastor, but that Brother Finney had been urging them to secure a Pastor in his place, as he felt the need of giving up the responsibility of longer remaining Pastor of the church. Bro. Burrell and others did not believe that Bro. Finney wanted to give up the pastorate but wanted an Associate to assist him and labor outside of the pulpit and leave him to do the preaching only.
Bro here read a communication from the Pastor to the Church. Goodrich in which the church was earnestly urged to secure another Pastor, and advised to get Rev. Mr Hayden.
(The communication is placed on file)
The communication is as follows:
To the first con. Church
Dearly Beloved. As I fear to
be with you this P.M. I send
you a note to say expressly again
as I have so often said, that my
age renders it impossible for
me to meet your wants as pastor,
& I earnestly desire you to get
a Pastor who can meet them
as soon as you can. I have
repeatedly given you in brief
my views of your necessities.
It is not for my sake but for yours
that I request you to act in
this matter. I ought no longer
to consent to ^ your families &
children being without more
pastoral care than I can
give them. Even what I can now
do, you can not expect of me but
a short time, & if things go on as
I fear they will unless you get a
pastor ^ the church will not do
what must be done or you
will sink lower & lower. To see
so much needing to be done, &
have no power to do it, weighs heavily
upon me by day, & deprives me
of rest by night. But beloved you
must act harmoniously or you
will call in vain for such a
pastor as you ^. Do not get divided.
I know of no reasonable cause
of division amongst you. I beg of
you to remember the injunction
of Gody by Paul "Mark them who
would cause division amongst
you & avoid them. I hope there
are none such amongst you.
Agree if you honestly can upon
the candidate before you.
I do not at present know where
you can get a man that would
be more likely, all things consid
ered to meet your wants.
But if you find yourselves unable
to agree upon Br. Hayden, do not
be uncharitable nor foment division.
Settle it Brethren, that you must
be substantially united, or you
will fail to get such a man
as you need. You must get you
a Pastor or do something else
that will meet your necessities
& wake you up to work for
souls or you are ruined
as a Church. I can not endure
to see religion decline & the
piety of Oberlin decay. Get
a strong Holy Ghost Pastor
if possible & with the least
possible delay, & may the
Blessed Jesus direct you.
I will give you my formal
resignation as soon as you
can get a man to take
my place. I do not do it before
lest I should seem to leave you
without an undershepherd
& compel you to act against
your convictions in getting
a pastor. Please Dear Brethren to be
assured that I do not wish
to shirk responsibility but at
my age you can not expect
me to meet all the wants
of this large Church.
May God bless
C. G. Finney.
The minutes of the meeting continued as follows:
After farther discussion by the church the following resolution was adopted.
Resolved that we do not desire Bro. Finney to resign but request him to remain our Pastor.
Nothing further was done about Hayden at this time, until Finney yet again submitted his resignation in 1872.
First Congregational Church Record Book, 1857-1891, in Oberlin College Archives, 31/4. Minutes kept by the Clerk, J. F. Harmon.
This was Hiram Collins Haydn (1831-1913) minister of the First Congregational Church in Painesville. Biographical details in "History of First Church Congregational, Painesville, Ohio, 1810-1891", p. 126, typescript in Morley Library, Painesville.
The clerk had written 1871 in error here.
The addition of a y to God may have been in anticipation of the next word.
Romans 16: 17 reads:
Now I beseech you brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.