The Oberlin Evangelist
October 9, 1850
The Banner of Sept. 4, treats at some length on this somewhat exciting and ever interesting topic. It seems that there are those in England who are full of fears on this point, and we had previously learned that some Editors on this side the Atlantic, have felt called on to interpose as conservators of British Orthodoxy, and arrest, if they can, the apprehended mischiefs of Prof. Finney's doctrines and measures in that country. We hope these brethren act in this matter conscientiously, though obviously under great misapprehensions as to Prof. Finney's real sentiments, and also as to the real character of his influence upon the piety of the age. It is only to their great ignorance on this subject, that we can ascribe their statement--made here, and sent to London to head Prof. Finney's progress there--that no man in the country had exerted so disastrous an influence upon American Revivals as he. Our readers do not need from us any showing to evince the utter misapprehension of facts, involved in this assertion. We are happy to see that at least some British Christians are assuming the prerogative of forming their own opinions, now that they have both the man himself and his abundant labors in the gospel before them as data for truthful opinions. It will be both wiser and safer to trust their own eyes and ears than to confide unthinkingly in the statements of the Puritan Recorder.
But we were about to introduce to our readers an article from Dr. Campbell, of the British Banner. Speaking of Prof. Finney's address to the North Sunday School Union, he says:
"It was full of power, and very characteristic, setting forth with much breadth and clearness the great work of the Teacher, in laboring to effect immediate conversion. This led to the discussion of some points relative to human depravity and sovereignty, on which, we dare say, some of the views exhibited were not quite in harmony with the cherished opinions of some, perhaps many, that were present; but the difference was less one of principle than of representation. This is one of the peculiarities of Mr. Finney; he takes a point and expands it into such amplitude, that it bears the aspect of something new, strange, and, it may be to many heretical; whereas, were it simply stated according to custom, or briefly exhibited in its relations and combinations, it would excite no alarm, and no one would dispute its orthodoxy; it would not even awaken attention.
"The labors of Mr. Finney are now closing. He will preach again next Sabbath, morning and evening, and the following Tuesday and Wednesday; and thus, for the present, terminate his mission. On Friday next, we may just observe, his subject--(by our special request, since we find him much misrepresented by some; and others who have not heard him, are but too willing as usual, to receive the evil report,)--will be the words of the Apostle to the Philippians--"It is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure,"--a text which will test him, and we have no doubt he will abide the test. We mean, when we have time, to go fully into the theology of Mr. Finney, and thoroughly to examine his System by the lights of the New Testament. In the meantime, we beg it to be distinctly understood, that all we have said hitherto, solely and exclusively relates to, and bears upon, the numerous discourses we have heard from his lips, since we do not happen to possess his two volumes of Theology; but these volumes have been examined by one of the most competent men in England or in Europe--the Rev. Dr. Redford of Worcester--and from the gentleman's own mouth we had it, that, to all intents and purposes, peculiarities of exhibition and certain views notwithstanding, the theological system of Mr. Finney is perfectly sound.
"We mean this remark more especially for our able and excellent contemporary, the Puritan Recorder, Boston, who has commented, in a spirit of obvious hostility to Mr. Finney, upon one of our previous emanations, concerning which it says: 'The truth is, the Editor has yielded, as many here did, to a seductive theory, touching a new mode of presenting truth, of which, in after years, he will take a different view. This keeping back one-half the truth, while preaching to sinners, was, no doubt, one great element of Mr. Finney's power; and so it was the source of the wholesale disasters that followed in his train. Nor can it be done in a long course of labor, without producing positive errors in the hearers.'
"Now, we regret to differ with our Contemporary on such matters, but we must claim our right to do so; for most sure we are that Mr. Finney's mode of addressing the sinner is that which characterizes the Acts of the Apostles; and we can conceive nothing more abhorrent than apostolic practice--more at variance with the dictates of sound philosophy--than to dive into the depths of Gospel doctrine respecting the sovereignty of God, and the Election of Grace, in dealing with lost men. But enough of this; the theme is not one for our columns.
"We thank our brother of the Recorder for his compliment as to our hitherto supposed soundness in matters of "orthodoxy." In this he is not and will not be disappointed, notwithstanding that we "fully endorse" Mr. Finney, so far as we have heard him. We will further assure our Contemporary, that having once examined Mr. Finney's published system, if we shall find it at variance with his spoken system, and with the Word of God, and the commonly received faith of the Nonconformist Body, it will find in us opponents, from whom it has nothing to expect but justice. We very much respect Mr. Finney's character and regard his person; but we regard truth more; and the instant we feel that jeopardized, all consideration of person or of personal character, and every thing else, will at once be given to the winds."
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