To Arthur Tappan Pierson

13 January 1873


[MS in the Charles Grandison Finney Papers, CN# 143, (Box 1, Folder 1), Billy Graham Center Archives, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois 60187]


This letter was written to Arthur Tappan Pierson (1837-1911), Presbyterian minister, promoter of missions, author and leader in the Higher Life movement, who was at that time, minister of Fort Street Presbyterian Church, Detroit.


Pierson was deeply influenced by Finney and his writings, and his own voluminous publications frequently refer to them. Finney's Memoirs, in particular, which were published in 1876, had a profound effect upon him, and was one of six books which, Pierson said, "occupied my reading almost exclusively during the most fruitful half-year of my intellectual life." At the Memorial Meeting for Finney held at Oberlin in July 1876, it was Pierson who gave one of the main addresses, on "The Communicable Secrets of Mr. Finney's Power." He believed that Finney was one of the most significant influences in the growth of the Holiness Movement out of which sprang those great "Forward Movements" which characterized the development of the Evangelical churches in the latter part of the Nineteenth Century, and in which Pierson played such a conspicuous part.


The letter is in the handwriting of Finney's third wife, Rebecca Allen Rayl Finney (1824-1907).


Oberlin Jan. 13 1873

Dear Brother Pierson,

Yours of Jan. 9th is

received. I thank you for it. Shall be

happy to see you, if you can come

down. Your Church Manual was not

enclosed. The tract was, and is valuable.

The entrance to both Chatham St. Chapel

and the Broadway Tabernacle was through

an arch way with a dwelling over

the arch. Your dates lead to the con-

clusion that your parents occupied

the residence over the entrance to the

Broadway Tabernacle. I will try to pray

for you, as the Lord leads. Is your

mother living? If so, please give my

most earnest love to her, and say,

"God Bless you, my dear Sister," for

me. I am troubled with weak eyes

at present, and therefore write by


[page 2]

another's hand.

God Bless you, My Brother.

C. G. Finney



. See Dictionary of American Biography; and Delavan Leonard Pierson, Arthur Tappan Pierson. A Biography (London: James Nisbet & Co., 1912).

. A. T. Pierson, "Helps and Hints, Textual and Topical" Homiletic Review, n.s. Vol. 30 (December 1895), p. 537. See also D. L. Pierson, Arthur Tappan Pierson, pp. 130-31.

. Reminiscences of Charles G. Finney (Oberlin, Ohio: E. J. Goodrich, 1876), pp. 28-29.

. See, for example, A. T. Pierson, Forward Movements of the Last Half Century (New York and London: Funk & Wagnalls, 1900), p. 10. See also, Dana Lee Robert, "Arthur Tappan Pierson and Forward Movements of Late-Nineteenth-Century Evangelicalism" (Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University, 1984).

. This letter is not in the Finney Papers in Oberlin College Archives.

. This may have been Manual of the Fort Street Presbyterian Church of Detroit (Detroit: Tribune Printing Co., 1872)

. The following "Remarks of Rev. Dr. Pierson, of Detroit" were made at the Finney Memorial gathering at Oberlin, on July 28, 1876:

My father was the cashier and intimate friend of Arthur Tappan. Before my birth, for months my father and mother were in constant attendance on the services of Mr. Finney in the Chatham Street chapel, New York. They occupied the very house beneath which, by an archway, the throngs poured into the chapel. The impression then made upon my mother's mind, determined her to consecrate me to the work of the ministry; and from my birth I never knew any hour when I was converted, and when I did not expect to be a minister. (Reminiscences of Charles G. Finney, pp. 28-29.)

Finney was the minister of Chatham Street Chapel in New York until March 1836 when he moved to the Broadway Tabernacle. Pierson was not born until March 6, 1837.

. Pierson's mother, Sally Ann (Wheeler) Pierson, was still living. She had been born in 1802 and did not die until 1895.

. Many of Finney's letters, from this time onwards, were dictated to his wife. This is the earliest that is known, of those that were dictated.