The Oberlin Evangelist
July 17, 1850
The following notice of Prof. Finney's labors in London, will be read with interest by his numerous friends in this country. We trust it will elicit much prayer for the blessing of God upon the great work to which Bro. Finney has so exclusively and earnestly devoted himself. The article is taken from the "British Banner," an able religious paper, of London, and one of the principal organs of the British Congregationalists.--ED.
REV. C.G. FINNEY
"Some six weeks back, we intimated that arrangements were made for a visit of the Rev. Mr. Finney to the metropolis, and that he would on the 12th of last month, commence a course of service at the Tabernacle. In a subsequent notice, we also gave a slight sketch of that gentleman's history and labors in the land of his nativity, the United States. To meet the extreme difficulty of making any great impression upon the Metropolitan population, it was deemed expedient to pioneer his way, not so much in the city generally, as in the immediate neighborhood of the chapel in which he was to commence his evangelical efforts. In some cases, it is not very difficult to gather together a vast number of those whom Mr. Jay properly designates "religious vagabonds," the chaff of professors, itinerant hunters after new things and new men, who are carried about from place to place by the ever-flowing, ever-changing current of novelty. To bring such people under the influence of a pungent, searching and powerful ministration of the word, is, doubtless, a point of no inconsiderable moment; but this class are among the most hopeless hearers on the face of the earth; they may be amused, moved, and led to utter the loudest strains in the praise of the idol of the hour; but, in general, the matter ends there. Conversion amongst this class is very rare. They are one Great Ear, which is never satisfied with hearing, while their heart is shrivelled into a muscle, bloodless and impassive! It was considered that, if much good was to be done by the visit of Mr. Finney, new ground, as far as possible, must be broken up, and the great question was, how to do this. As one of the best of the various means available, some eight or nine thousand copies of a copious Address were circulated by a body of the young men of the congregation on the morning and afternoon of the previous Lord's day.
"Mr. Finney began on the 12th, according to arrangements; and from that time to the present he has gone on regularly preaching in the Tabernacle, Lord's day morning and evening, and on the evening of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. As we understand many of our readers are looking for some intimation on the subject of the acceptance with which he may have met, we have pleasure in intimating that from the first, the attendances have been very great on all occasions, both on Sabbath and week days. Sabbath day audiences in houses with large regular churches and congregations are but an inferior test; the true test is the week-night meetings in this great, busy, and dissipated metropolis, which it is always difficult to move by any spiritual instrumentality, whatever be its originality or power.
"As to the ministrations of Mr. Finney, suffice it to say, in general, that their merits are very great. It is enough, meanwhile, to remark, that there is every reason to anticipate from his services great spiritual good. It is too early to affirm any thing special, or to report individual cases. For the first time, last Sunday, he requested parties desirous to be further and more specifically addressed, on the breaking up of the congregation to repair to the great adjoining school-room, when probably from seven to eight hundred persons were speedily congregated. It is not meant that, in the strictest sense of the word, these individuals were convinced and avowed penitents, but the fact showed, at any rate, that there was a sufficient measure of interest felt to lead them, after one very lengthened service in an oppressively crowded house, to repair to another. It was also obvious, that there were many who, at least for the moment, were pierced with the arrow of conviction. Time will tell the real character of the incipient movement. We rejoice to say, that appearances are in a very high degree encouraging.
"It may be proper to correct a mistake, which we regret to find somewhat general, more especially among the leading ministers and leading men of many of the churches, a number of whom heard Mr. Finney at the outset. On that occasion, it was felt, lamented, and noised abroad, that there was no gospel in his ministration. It has grieved us to find that very much has been made of this report. We. therefore, rejoice in being able to meet it with a statement, which, we doubt not, will prove satisfactory to those who are interested in the case.
"It must, then, be conceded, that Mr. Finney has his peculiarities--peculiarities very strongly marked both as to his manner of address, and the matter with which he opens his Commission. Avowedly, at the outset, his object is not so much to pour gospel truth on those who have been already saturated with it, and who are slumbering or dead under it, as to awake the sleepers--to quicken the dead--to drive the Churches from the rut of their formality--to prompt reflection--to work conviction to excite a sense of short-comings, guilt, weakness, and insufficiency for any great spiritual service in the salvation of the world. Such is his object, and his instrumentality is of a corresponding character. It is rousing and lacerating in a very high degree; but, having done this, he preaches the Gospel in all its length and breadth of grace and privilege. This he has done in the Tabernacle with a power that we have never seen surpassed in that pulpit--a pulpit which has been graced by nearly all the first ministers of the by-gone and of the present generation. On this ground, therefore, there need be no solicitude. At the request of the London Christian Instruction Society, Mr. Finney preached a special sermon to the visitors, last Wednesday evening, and we hesitate not to say, that never before were the claims of the city brought before that body with such vividness, such vigour, such fidelity, and power. So great was the interest, and so copious the subject, as it presented itself to his mind, that, after having preached an hour and a half, he was requested by the Secretaries to continue the subject, a request with which he at once complied, and, accordingly, he will resume it this evening.
"We, in our previous notice respecting Mr. Finney, made a mistake, or rather we had been misinformed, when we stated that he had his expenses guaranteed to and from the United States, by a gentleman in England; it is not so; that excellent person simply pressed his acceptance of 50 pounds towards that object.
"We cannot close without making a communication which may save much trouble to others as well as to Mr. Finney. He is continually assailed by applications to attend this meeting and that, to preach for this object and the other, in the city, and in the suburbs, and in the country. Of course, the answer in every case, is a negative. His hands at present are so full, and he is so borne down by the oppressive labors of the sphere he occupies, that any addition is out of the question. He has not come to England for the performance of multifarious labor, but for one special object from which nothing can detach him; and to that object he is giving himself with an uniformity, a devotion, and an energy, which leave neither time nor thought for anything else.
"A fortnight back, Mr. Finney presented us with a written notice for the Banner to this effect, which, however, we withheld, deeming it better that the statement should come directly from ourselves."
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