To Charles Albert Blanchard

2 November 1871


[MS in the Finney Papers, microfilm, roll 6, #2139. Copy of a letter in the handwriting of Rebecca Finney]


Finney had received the following letter from Charles A. Blanchard:


Wheaton Oct. 27. 1871

Rev. C. G. Finney

My dear brother,

Philo Carpenter, Esq. has

to day read to my father and myself a letter

from you wherein you "bitterly and personally" re-

proach the Editor of the Cynosure, and remark

that the Cynosure must be reformed before it can

reform others. Along with this rather insulting re-

mark, comes an insinuation, that, under other

hands the paper could accomplish much more

for the cause.

On account of this letter I beg leave to

call your attention to a few facts: and first,

That when the secret lodges were undermining

the liberties of Americans, and the religion of

Christ, the alarm was not sounded from Oberlin

but from Illinois. It is true that Clark, Burrell,

Cross, Morgan and other brethren, and above all

yourself have done noble work, but this does not

alter the fact that organized opposition to the


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secret orders commenced west of Ohio. and second,

That when the paper was called for Oberlin was

asked, by one of its Professors to lead the movement

and take the paper but Oberlin declined, the Prof.

writing that "we shall resign that honor to Wheat-

on: and third,

That the paper has lived and grown in spite

of the world, the flesh and the devil, to a

circulation of over five thousand, receiving the

heartfelt "God-speeds" of the same kind of men

who were the first to follow you to Christ, and

the opposition, secret or open, of the same sort of

D.D.'s, and Profs. who threw their whole weight

against Finney and Holiness and God, and fourth

That when the open enemies are beginning

to give way; when the denominational papers

have been compelled to say a little for God's

own truth; when the secular papers are begin-

ning to throw off the muzzles of secretism;

and finally when a great misfortune should

have stilled the tongue and stopped the pen

of slander, of envy or of malice: The man

who has kept the fires burning when his


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brethren were asleep; who started the paper

they lacked strength or courage to start, this

man is struck, and struck in the dark,

and in the back by a brother in Christ!

If you believe one half that you have said

in the letter referred to, you have sinned in not

warning in the spirit of Christ your brother who

was going wrong. But at such a time, in such a

way, to attack a paper which has contended as

best it could for principles you profess to love; to


seek to draw it from the one who startedŸto a place

or able

where there is no one who has been willingŸto

take any responsibility for it, and to seek to put

it into the care of strangers; this is past belief.

Did I not know you[r] earnest work for the Mas-

ter; your long and faithful fight with sin; your

elevated christian character, I should say that

the author of such a letter was a trickster and

a coward. Nor can I now think that my own


C. G. Finney, whose name I have reverenced sinŸ

I breathed prairie air, could have written such

a letter unless he had been (unconsciously) in-

fluenced by a small ambitious spirit, which


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seeks to obtain from strangers a place for

which his best friends most thoroughly

know his complete unfitness.

It seems to me that a confession is

due from yourself to Prest. Blanchard and

also a Christian reproof if you think him

to be wrong. Hoping and knowing that

you will put this matter, before Him who

has so abundantly blessed your labors and

that we may both be drawn nearer to Him by this affliction

I am your servant in Christ Jesus

C. A. Blanchard


Finney's reply is as follows:



Oberlin 2nd Nov. 1871

My Dr. Br. Blanchard,

Yours of the 27th ult is rec'd.

I will reply in the order of your letter 1st "bitterly & personally"

reproached &c. My Br. is there no difference between an earnest,

and a bitter protest? is there no difference between a personal attack

in a public newspaper & writing of an error of a person in a

private letter? and especially when the letter is written to an official

respecting the duties of his office. Br. C. is the most influential, as I sup-

pose, of the committee that controls the organ of the national society

I supposed that I should write to him as the man to correct the

error of which there is so much complaint. You regard the suggestion

that the Cynosure needs reforming, as an "insult." You must be aware

my Dr. Br. that this is the opinion of many of the best, & most devoted

friends of the paper, & the opinion of Br. Carpenter & other members

of the committee. Why then am I accused of insulting you or your

Father by suggesting to the proper person the necessity which we

have all along felt in common? My Dr. Br. your letter has led me to

fear that your resentful tendencies, & those of your dear Father have

deterred your nearest friends & associates in the work, from telling

you plainly what they think. I musts confess my Dr. Br. that it

is dangerous to a sensitive mind to be frank & honest with

you &endash; I am driven to this conclusion by your letter to me,

the like of which, I have never before rec'd to my recollection.

I did not know until now, that you claimed infallibility in the

conduct of that paper. I am made sad my Dr, Br. by this claim

as it forbids all hope of improvement, which I know the best &

warmest friends of the paper have hoped & longed to see. I did

not write to your dear Father, because I supposed, indeed knew

that he was well aware of the views of many of the readers of the

paper, and needed no expostulation from me. I love & revere

your dear Father. I love the paper, but have so often met with the

objection alluded to, that I have been unable to do much for its

circulation. I paid for it one year, for Br. Morgan, hoping that he


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would continue it, but he will not take it, for the reason alluded

to. This is the case with a large number of my personal acquaintances

2nd I love & honor your dear Father for the heroism he manifested

in taking charge of the paper, & for his able & fearless exposure of

iniquity, & especially of secretism. The conduct of the paper be-

longs to him as long as he will so abstain form personal altercation

as not to alienate friends & multiply & strengthen enemies. I was

not aware that any suggestion had ever been made, or any

thought entertained by any one of publishing the paper here, until Br.

Hart wrote after the fire to his son, that Br. Cook had lost all &

"the Cynosure is dead". In casting in my mind what was to be done

it seemed to me, that possibly it might be published here, if Br.

Hart, who has been associated with it from the first, could

come here & conduct it. Before I had mentioned it, I believe,

more than to one person, Br. Carpenter, in a letter to me said

"some friends here have thought the Cynosure might be

published at Oberlin. What would the friends there think of it?"

He can, if he pleases, show you my reply. Since writing

that letter, I have become convinced that no one here, or at

least, very few would favor its publication here. As to myself

nothing short of a command of God would induce me to sustain

any other relation to the paper than I have sustained. The thought never

entered my mind, until you suggested it. But my Dr. Br. you

have such satisfaction with the conduct of the paper, that you

cannot conceive why I should want it reformed; for any other reason

than that I wanted to be its editor. How, my Dr. Br. do you account

for the desire of your committee & for the very general desire for

its reformation? Do they all wish to be editors?

3rd The paper has lived and grown & other papers are being established

to advocate the same cause, but would some at least of these papers

have been needed, or ever existed had the Cynosure been free from that

element that has repelled so many? I am happy to know & to say that much

has been done: that your dear Father has done much &endash; & much of what


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he has done has been well done: but some things he has done

have done the cause & the paper much harm, & if I may judge

from what I know within the circle of my acquaintance

I should say that but for the error in question, the Cynosure

ere this

wouldŸhave had hundreds, if not thousands more readers than it has. I

know that there is such a class of opposers, as you mention, and I wish

all just occasion of complaint to be denied them. But are you not

aware that there is a large class of real friends, who will not justify

the personal assaults of the Cynosure ?, and will not take it, lest by so doing

they should appear to approve its course? I can assure you, that Prof. Morgan

is only a representative of this class, and the class is large. My Dr. Br. if you

and your dear Father have not often been told of this, I fear, from

this letter to me, that it is because the friends fear your resentments,

and that, if they are faithful to you, they shall be denounced in the

Cynosure as enemies to the cause. But, if the friends have been faithful

to you, and your Father, as I have supposed, and have frankly de-

clared the views which I know them to hold, why am I assailed, as

in this letter to me? If the friends of the cause are to be turned upon in

this manner, for attempting, by the proper means, and through the ap-

propriate channel, to correct so notorious, and grievous a fault,

what shall we do? I have always justified on all occasions your Father's

course, as far as I conscientiously could. He has had no truer friend

than myself. I have repeatedly asserted in defence of him, that we need

a Luther in this reform, who will use strong language, and strike

hard blows, and that mild, tame language, and gentle patting

are out of place, in this battle of secretism, but bitter, personal thrusts

are a great fault in a reformer. They deform rather that reform.

I had not known, until the question was sprung upon me here, that your

dear Father had done so much in Illinois to rebuke this iniquity.

I love & honor him for this, and would as soon cut off my right hand

as deprive him of any honor or advantage to which he is entitled for his

courage and faithfulness. You may rest assured of this, that in my anxiety

to reform the Cynosure, I have not, & never had, so much as a thought or


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desire to gain profit, honor, or anything else for myself, nor have I

said, written, or done anything from a spirit of rivalry, unfriendliness,

or opposition to your dear Father. You speak of the "time" and the "way"

of attacking the paper. But, my Bro. what time could be more appropriate

than when our paper, with many others is under the rebuke of Providence?

Is not this, the time to consider, and put away, the faults of our paper?

As to the "way", what way is open to us, save through the committee

that controls the paper, and employs the editor? Is not this both the

time & the way, to press the question of reform? I say again, that

I judged it not my business, or my duty to undertake the reform-

ation of the editor, as that is the duty of the committee that em-

ploys him. I have no wish to have the present editor superseded if

this cause of complaint can be removed. Nay, I should strongly pro-

test against his removal. But, unless it can be removed, I should

say, with sadness, he should give place to some one else. I have

not a friend or relative on earth, of whom, under the circumstances

I would not say the same. You think I owe to Pres.t Blanchard a

confession. Of what? Have I done him a wrong, in privately

expressing my own opinion of his course in managing the paper,

to the person whose business it is, to see that the paper is wisely

edited? I expressed my views, and what I know to be the views

of many, to the proper authority. What else should I have done? I was

aware that the editor was well apprised of these protests against his

conduct of the paper, and that he failed to reform. Now, I know,

from your letter that you regard any suggestion of the necessity of

reform as an "insult". My Dr. Br. does this invite, or even brook, criti-

cism, or expostulation? I fear, my young Friend, that, if this is

to be your course you will not often learn the real opinions of your

best friends, with regard to yourself. Do not call this letter a "bitter attack"

on yourself or your Father. I have written every line, in tender sadness & with

much misgiving as to the future of our paper. With love to your Dear Father, God bless you evermore C. G. Finney.



Finney then received the following letter from Charles Blanchard:



Wheaton Nov 29 1871

Prest. C. G. Finney,

My dear Brother,

Your kind letter of 2d inst,

reached me via Mr. Carpenter some time since and

should have been answered ere this, had not my work


It is my desire just to correct one

error, caused by my obscurity in the first letter

addressed to you on this subject. It never occur-

red to me that you wished to edit the Cynosure.

I thought that you would never consent to oc-

cupy such a position under any circumstances

imaginable. What did I mean? That you were

influenced by the desires of one, whose anti masonry

never troubled the world until he came to live

on a movement thus far conducted (under God)

by a man whom he has steadily striven to sup-

plant. He has written to you endeavoring to damage

my father before this time and it is unnecessary

to call him by name.

You are sad to learn that I claim infallibility

for my father in his conduct of the paper. This

is a mistake caused by my writing or your

imagination. No such claim has been or will

be made. I have yet to see a paper or a man perfect-

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ed. We may in some future period have men

who are so thoroughly one with God, that they will

not fail in wisdom or falter in execution. At present

a large portion of the world is engaged in finding

fault with the rashness of those who actively oppose

the world's evils, and the minority are criticising

the well fed, well dressed majority who do nothing

at all in that direction. Both are right and both

are wrong. Christ is the only perfectly wise, perfectly

fearless one the race ever saw, and we have crucified

Him between two thieves.

Again you think I dislike to be reproved.

Again you are mistaken. I have heard much

backbiting; little honest, christian reproof. Those

who have come to me with the latter, are my

friends "because they tell me the truth." Men who

will tell another his faults between the two alone,

in the spirit of meekness are so scarce, as to be

valuable; men who are ready to tell your neigh-

bor of your faults are so common as to be a drug

in the market.

But is there no difference between

a letter to an influential man, and an article

in the editorial columns of a reform paper?

Without doubt there is a difference between two

things that are unlike, from all which it does

not follow that a personal attack cannot be

made in more than one way, and that the

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latter might be more damaging than the former.

The whole force of my letter turned on

this one point: between christians the law is: "Go

and tell him his fault," not his neighbor, but

him! According to my understanding that word

was violated, when the letter complained of was

written. It is not pertinent to the case to say that it

was supposed some one else had done his duty in the

matter, the command is a plain one and admits

of no exceptions. Nor is it a sufficient answer

to say that others do the same thing, a dozen's

wrongs dont make one right.

Of course the Cynosure is to be criticised,

justly by friends, and unjustly by pretended friends

who are the worst enemies it can have. You will

observe this in regard to the latter class: they will

condemn Masonry in conversation with decided

antimasons and in all other places will be as whist

as the historical "Three blind mice."

You mention Prof. Morgan's opposition. Now I respect

this Professor and think very highly of him as a

man, but what has he done as a Reformer? The

answer is, I suppose, he is not a Reformer by na-

ture. Granted. Then it is not to be expected that

he will earnestly sustain a Reform paper.

He meets in Council with a large number

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of Freemasons: Does he say a word wise or other

wise about secret associations? You say; "Free

masonry is a system of gross hypocrisy" Amen!

"Masonic oaths are a conspiracy against God and

man." Just so, the Prof. assents, now what is he to

do about it? Why, we must go and commune with

supporters of a system of gross hypocrisy, with con-

spirators against God and man, and take for

Secretary of our National council a man who "can-

not be believed under oath."

You are my venerable and dear brother credited, I

know not how justly, with the statement that, "Hell

held jubilee when General Assembly met." What do you think

they did down there, when, in a church that will not

receive masons, masons communed with the con-

gregational churches of North America?

Call an Institution a system of "gross hypocrisy,"

"a conspiracy against God and man" and then

give its adherents the Royal Right Hand of Christian

fellowship and seats at the Lord's Table, this is what

our conservative brethren wish to do; and this is the

strongest bulwark of secret associations to day.

When the wise opponents of these societies start

a paper conducted judiciously, I will support it as

best I can; as long however as they content them-

selves with taking a paper you pay for, and find-

ing fault with men whom they leave to bear the

burden alone, I shall think if I do not say, "Oh Woe

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unto you

^ Scribes and Pharisees Hypocrites."

Do not misunderstand me. It is not be-

cause I think the paper faultless that I write

thus, but because the men of whom I speak

do not give as a rule, a moment of time, a

cent of money or even (apparently) a passing

thought to a subject like this.

The churches are dying of dry rot, D.D.'s are

joking about the Back parts of Congregationalism,

sinners are going to Hell, and christians (?)

are ha ha ing about such a low attempt at

wit as the one refered to, while a Congregational

Council permits the Lion's skin to slip way down from

its extremely long ears as it brays out an endorse-

ment of the Treaty of Washington!

On reflection I do not think I addressed

you with the respect due to one so much older

and better than my self, in a former letter, for

this I ask pardon, the facts are their own apol-


Should you reply to this please address me

at 25 N. Clinton St. Chicago. If you want to have

Mr. Carpenter read the letter I will mail it to

him after reading. I make this request as I do

not care to receive correspondence through a

third party.

Very Respectfully Yours

Chas. A. Blanchard.



See Finney to Philo Carpenter, October 25, 1871, Finney Papers, Microfilm, roll 6, #2136.

This word is in Finney's handwriting.

Philo Carpenter.

Still, silent.

This was the National Council of the Congregational Churches of the United States that had just been held in Oberlin.

Dr. Alonzo H. Quint.

Finney had stated in one of his lectures on the revival of religion in Chatham Street Chapel in 1835: "These things in the Presbyterian church, their contentions and janglings are so ridiculous, so wicked, so outrageous, that no doubt there is a jubilee in hell every year, about the time of the meeting of the General Assembly." (Lectures on Revivals of Religion by Charles Grandison Finney, edited by William G. McLoughlin [Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1960], p. 291.)