To Edward Payson Marvin

22 January 1874


[MS in Finney Papers, Box 9, in the handwriting of Mrs Rebecca Finney.]


Alice B. Whipple, wife of George Whipple, the secretary of the American Missionary Association, wrote to Finney on 22 December 1873:

Your letter, & the one enclosed to Miss Smiley, came this morning, & my heart prompts me to thank you for them, especially the one to Miss Smiley - which satisfied my love to her - and which I know will be precious to her. I did want you to receive her into your heart of hearts as one of the Lord's dear children, & I thank the Father that though not having seen her you love her in the Lord. She is to me wonderfully attractive, & every time I meet her, my love for her increases more & more. She is one of the most delicate womanly women I ever met, & she is a remarkably safe woman in her teaching. I am sure you and Mrs. Finney will enjoy her.

Miss Smiley is, I suppose, in New Haven to day, having a meeting there in the evening. She expects to return to New York tomorrow & leave in the evening for a few days rest at Clifton Springs before going to Lockport for the week of prayer. ...

If the dear Lord opens for me to go to Oberlin with Miss Smiley, I shall joyfully run in it.


and in a letter dated 21 January 1874, she wrote:

Miss Smiley's Bible teachings have I think been greatly blessed here. I see more & more reason for thinking so. They were blessed to several of my friends. ... The little tract "Prayer in the Name of Jesus"... I have sent Mrs D[ascomb] several copies, one of which is for you.


Sarah Frances Smiley (1830-1917) had become known among the Quakers after the Civil War for her work among the Southern freedmen, and for her scholarly defence of the divinity of Christ. In 1871 she caused a stir in Presbyterian circles by appearing in the Lafayette-Avenue Church pulpit in Brooklyn, which ultimately led to action in the Presbyterian General Assembly of 1874 on the "Woman Question". She subsequently became well-known as a religious speaker, and authoress. An accomplished Bible scholar and teacher, she was the founder and director of the "Society for the Home Study of Holy Scripture and Church History" which ran courses under the auspices of the Episcopal Church. In 1872 she had left the Quakers and was baptised. She was unmarried. See Who Was Who in America, Vol. 4 (1961-1968); Theodore L. Cuyler, "Miss Smiley's New Work on the Christian Life" in New-York Evangelist, Vol. 47 (16 November 1876), p. 1; and Nancy Hardesty, " 'Your Daughters Shall Prophesy': Revivalism and Feminism in the Age of Finney" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Chicago Divinity School, 1976), p. 151, note 4.


Rev. Edward Payson Marvin was the Presbyterian minister in East Lockport, New York.


Oberlin Jan. 22.. 1874.

Rev. E. P. Marvin,

Dear Bro. Yours of

the 19th is rec'd. I must, by

another hand (as my eyes are

weak) reply in few words.

Miss Smiley spent two days

with me. She is no universalist

I believe, but, as she seems to

know full well, she does not

yet know how to deal with men

on a large scale

so as to secureŸthe conversion

of sinners. This she feels deeply,

and was inquiring much on

that subject. Whether she will

have the moral courage to carry

out the suggestions which I gave

her, remains to be seen.

She was brought up among the

Friends, as you know, and, of course

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will need a great deal of instruction,

before her mission to different

classes can be rounded out.

I should think the beautiful in

religion had chiefly engaged her

attention thus far, since she

has begun to address public

audiences. I presume she has

not yet learned how to deal

with backsliders, and unconverted

sinners. Indeed, as I said, she

knows she has not.

She seems

to be a pure and spiritually-

minded woman, and will

doubtless come to understand

the necessity of using the

probe, in the hearts of both

professors, and non professors.

It is not likely that she will

ever be a Boanerges, but will

be, I think, "a Son," or rather, a

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daughter "of consolation" to those

in spiritual bondage.

God Bless You,

C. G. Finney.



This letter is not in the Finney Papers.

"Boanerges, which is, The son of thunder" was the name given by Jesus to the Apostles James and John (Mark 3:17). "Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,)" was the name given by the Apostles to Joses, the Levite from Cyprus who sold land and gave the money to the Apostles (Acts 4:36).