To William Cox Cochran

16 September 1874


[Autograph signed letter in the possession of Mrs. Ellen Speers, 3915 Sierra Drive, Austin, Texas 78731, in the handwriting of Rebecca Rayl Finney]



Address: Wm C. Cochrane Esq.

82, West Third St,



Postmark: OBERLIN O. SEP 16

Stamp: embossed 3 cents.



Oberlin Sept. 16th 1874.

Dear Willie,

Yours of the 14th inst. is rec'd.

I thank you for it, and especially for

going so far, toward opening up to me,

your state of mind. I pray you

keep me not in ignorance, but

let me know your real mental

state, from time to time. Your

letter arrived in time to be read

by your Aunt Ange. She & the

children, left yesterday on the

five o'clock train, for their home

on the shore of the great Pacific.

I feel greatly bereaved, so much

so, that I can hardly endure

it. They are no better, and no dearer

to me, than my other children

& Grand children, except that they

have been so long with us.

[page 2]

I am not disappointed by the

revelation you have made in

this letter, of your mental

state. I have expected as

much. A letter that you

wrote me about a year ago,

I think, revealed to my practiced

eye, a tendency that would

land you in skepticism, I

feared, if you had not already

begun to doubt the truth of revealed

religion. The fact is, Dear Willie,

that you are backslidden from God,

and have quenched the light of

the Holy Spirit, in your heart,

and, reason as you may, deny

or admit what you will, turn

every way, dip into every pos-

sible source of human happiness,

nothing will satisfy you, in

all the world & works of God,

until you return, and seek your

[page 3]

home, and your happiness in Him

alone. I once thought you converted

to Christ, and if you have ever

tasted that the Lord is gracious, it

is utterly impossible that you should

ever be satisfied with any compan

ionship or enjoyment, out of Christ.

We were created in God's image, &

to have fellowship with Him, and

happiness is forever impossible to

us, if, and as long as, we separate

ourselves from this fellowship. A moral

agent, may as well expect to live

under water, and enjoy good

health, as to live without God, and

be truly happy. The remedy for all

your unsettled states of mind, your

restlessness & dissatisfaction, is, an

honest, heart return to God.

A giving yourself up, to do and

suffer all His will, and by

faith, a walking in fellowship with

[page 4]

Him. Dear Willie, I beg you to believe

me, for the longer you experiment

upon the means & sources of

mental repose & satisfaction, the

harder it will be for you to

return. You were advised not to

identify yourself with the people

of God, and join Christ's church,

and you took the advice. It

will surely cost you dear. I pray that

it may not prove your utter ruin.

You are evidently all afloat, no anchor

down, anywhere, you are groping

in the darkness of the carnal mind, &

I beseech you not to deceive yourself

any longer, nor suffer yourself to be

deceived. A backslider is necessarily wretched.

If backsliding be persisted in, it is apostacy and

utter ruin. Unless you return soon, your doubts

will increase till they will settle you down

[page 5]

in utter darkness & despair.

My Dear Willie, make haste, &

return while the door is open,

lest it be shut in your face.

I hope to hear from you again

soon, and that you have

made up your mind to re-

turn to God, and begin a

life of devotion to Him.

Dear Willie, I want to suggest

to you, the importance of

cultivating more repose of

manner, in your intercourse

with society. You appear

nervous & fidgetty, and disposed

to laugh at what you are saying

yourself. This makes you appear

childish, and breaks the repose of

those with whom you converse. Will

you not, My Dear Boy, lay this to heart,

[page 6]

and keep it in mind? Impose

a strict restraint upon your excitability

in conversation, by the force

of your will. Imagine, if you

can, that you hear your

Grandfather who loves you so

well, whispering to you, "Be calm

Willie, be calm." "Be cheerful

Willie, but don't giggle." There is

often so much apparent levity & childishness

in your conversation, that you really

greatly misrepresent your real self.

Wrestle, Dear Boy, with this tendency,

and pray for help to overcome

it. Write me often, and fully,

for I love you, and take a

great interest in your welfare,

and highest usefulness. Your

Grandmother, by whose hand I write this,

joins in much love, and the best of

wishes to you. Your Mother expects to leave

on Friday, for home. God Bless You Evermore.

C. G. Finney


A year later, just after Finney's death, his wife, Rebecca, wrote to William C. Cochran:

I was a little surprised by the revelation which your letter made of the feeling of shyness, or something like it, which you spoke of, as having kept you from the full & free communication with your blessed Grandfather in which you might have gained so much. I know his heart was so full of tender love to you, that he would have rejoiced to have you most freely open your mind to him, & you would have found a wealth of considerate kindness and sympathy at your service, of which you can have little conception, if you never had occasion, or never took the liberty upon occasion, to draw upon it. Your dear Grandfather had the most unwavering confidence in the uprightness of all your ways, & often quoted you as a model for other young people. If you do not really know him as well as I do, I wish I could reveal him to you, but that would be impossible. There was a depth of wisdom and tenderness in him, which if I were sure that I understood & appreciated myself, I should still know that I never could portray to another. The dear man and myself were greatly pleased with all we saw of you during your last visit to us. I often spoke with your dear Grandfather about the beautiful manner in which you manifested your affection and deference to your Father & Mother, and the great control you had evidently acquired over yourself, bringing your natural nervousness, & the little habits into which it had led you, into such subjection, that the expression of your manliness, was as pleasing & dignified, as the manliness always was true & noble. Your dear Grandfather regarded you as in some sense his child, &, I think, felt more responsibility as to your course in life than as to that of any of the other children. (Rebecca Rayl Finney to William C. Cochran, 16 September 1875)