The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY
To Zenas Finney
19 June 1874
[Published in The New-York Evangelist, 9 March 1876, p. 8]
According to notes by Mrs Beverley Ramsey, which are among the Scott Family Records in the Henderson Historical Society, Henderson, New York, Zenas was the eldest of Sylvester Finney's children and took over the family farm from Sylvester, who died in 1836. Zenas was born on August 19, 1783, in Litchfield, Warren County, Connecticut. He married Rachel Matthews (b. 1784) in 1800. He died on October 22, 1874, in Brownville, New York, and was buried in the Carpenter Cemetery.
Extracts from Finney's letter are published in the following article from The New-York Evangelist, March 9, 1876, p. 8:
THE CONVERSION OF ZENAS FINNEY
The Exultation of the Aged Oberlin Saint, on receiving the news, shortly before his death.
The Rev. H. M. Dodd of Dexter, Jefferson county, sends us the following:
Editor New York Evangelist:
Much interest is just at present manifested in the life and character of the late Chas. G. Finney. Providence has cast my lot in a field near his early home, which enabled me to contribute something to your "Finneyana." I send you some items, which you can print if you think best.
About three years ago I was called to visit the oldest brother of Charles G. Finney, Mr. Zenas Finney, who resided about four miles from me, with his daughter. The acquaintance thus begun, continued, and I visited him at intervals for over two years, till his death.
This Mr. Finney had lived a godless life, being indifferent or hostile to religion, and openly skeptical, profane, and Sabbath breaking. He had passed unmoved through many religious seasons, and had never, apparently, been affected by the entreaties of his pious brothers. But when over eighty years of age he was convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit. It came to him in his infirmity in the enforced seclusion of his home, and wrought its office work in his heart. He was enabled to embrace, somewhat tremblingly, the Lord Jesus as a personal Saviour. For several years he continued in an increasing assurance of his acceptance till his lamp went out, Oct. 22d, 1874, at the advanced age of ninety-one years, leaving behind many gratifying evidences of true conversion.
A few months before his death I wrote to the veteran revivalist an account of his brother's religious hopes, thinking to cheer his heart. The return mail brought two letters&emdash;one to me and one to the brother. The latter now lies before me. I give a portion:
"Oberlin, June 19th, 1874.
"My Dear Brother Zenas: I have just received from Rev. Henry M. Dodd, with unspeakable joy and gratitude to God, the announcement that you have faith, and entertain a hope of eternal life in our Lord Jesus Christ. I have read his letter with tears and almost shouts of joy and gratitude, and could hardly wait to finish it before I fell upon my knees to pour out my heart in thankfulness and praise to God for his unspeakable grace.
"My brother, I have prayed for you ever since I was converted, and God only knows with what feelings I have plead in your behalf. I cannot assume that God has heard my poor prayers, but he has heard somebody's prayers for you, and blessed be His name. He does, and always will, hear honest, earnest prayer, and answer it too.
"Do not, my dear brother, let your long life of neglect of Him keep you back from the fullest confidence that Christ loves you, and is more than willing to forgive the past, and save you with the fulness of His salvation. Through all these long years of sin and unbelief His loving heart has been set on securing your salvation, and now I beg you to give Him the fullest possible confidence, and trust Him with all your heart and soul. I want to see you very much, and have done so ever since I saw you last, but the infirmities of age have prevented my taking journeys of late years, and it is not very likely that we shall meet again on earth, but blessed be God, we shall meet in heaven, and that before long. . . . I write this by the hand of an amanuensis.
"God bless you and yours forevermore.
"Your brother, C. G. FINNEY."
The omitted portions of the above letter refer to family matters.
The rest of this article refers to a letter from Finney to Henry M. Dodd.
This letter is not in the Finney Papers.