To the Editor of the Examiner and Chronicle

10 June 1873


[Ms in the handwriting of Mrs. Rebecca Rayl Finney, in the Finney Papers, Addendum, Microfilm, roll 8]


The following document accompanies the manuscript of the letter:



1st The Reason for my Reply.

2nd In my first article, I said the Lord sent me to

Gouverneur. Quote from the Ms History of the

church, written by Mr. Smith, to sustain the


3d I said that Hervey D. Smith was a skeptic, or

Deist. Quote Mrs. Smith's letter upon this


4th I went to Gouverneur in the spring either

late in April, or early in May. Quote Ms.

history. 2 Quote Oneida Circular.

5th Elder Barrell says the revival began

in June, in the Baptist church, and that after-

wards I was sent for, to labor in the Presbyterian

church. The above shows that Elder B. was


6th I said, that in our private interview Elder

B agreed not to proselyte, He denies this,

and justifies his proselyting, by assuming that it

would be compromising the truth of God, to

delay the reception of members until the revival

had spent its force I can not see how this

would follow.

7th Elder B. says that I admitted that immer

sion was the primitive mode of Baptism. I

am sure that I never entertained this opinion.

I maintained the contrary of this, in that discussion.

I have always taught, as the multitudes who have

been taught by me, can testify, that immersion

was not the primitive mode of baptism,

and that the concession by some persons, that

it was, was made without due consideration

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and a thorough mastery of the subject.

I am by no means disposed to consider these

questions, as questions of veracity, but as

questions of memory relating to facts that occur-

red nearly half a century ago. Elder B. denies

8th Elder B. denies that I had said that a proselyting

Baptist minister came there and lectured on

the subject of baptism, which led to my

discussion of the subject. Here Elder B. forgets

again, and asserts that no Baptist minister

was there, except upon one occasion. Daniel

Keyes & others, remember the facts substantially as

I remember them. Quote Oneida Circular.

Also Mrs. Smith's last letter.

9th. I said that some Baptist families united with

the Presbyterian church before I left Gouvrneur.

Answer. Quote Mrs. Smith's letter

10th Elder B. represents Joel Keys represents

as fearing that he was in the wrong church,

and that he left the Presbyterian and joined

the Baptist church. The records of the Presbyterian

church show that Joel Keys was never a member

of that church. His brother, Daniel Keys says he

was a member of a Congregational church in

Vermont. There is no record of any one's leaving

the Presbyterian church and joining the Baptist

until the autumn of that year, when one or


two ^ withdrew from the Presbyterian church for

that purpose.



Oberlin June 10th 1873

Editor of the Examiner and Chronicle,

Dear Sir, I have seen

the articles in your paper, denying the truthfulness of my

account of the revival in Gouverneur in 1825. Ill health,

the weakness of my eyes, & ignorance of the whereabouts of

certain parties, whose re collections of the facts, I wished to

consult, has postponed my public notice of those articles

until now. I had, several years since, at the earnest request

of many christian friends, written out from memory a

condensed account of the principal revivals in which I

have labored during my ministry. This manuscript

book, is not yet published. My memory has always

been, as I believe, remarkably tenacious. The account

I gave of the revival in Gouverneur in the Independent

was not an extract form the Mss. volume, but was

written independently of that, though it contained in

substance the same facts. My principal object in con-

sulting the recollections of others, regarding that revival

has been, not to contradict what my Baptist brethren have

said, but to justify the accuracy of my own remembrance

of the facts. I will be as brief as possible in this

article and touch only upon the main points of dis-

crepancy, between the recollections of my Baptist Brethren,

and my own.

1st The manner of my going to Gouverneur. I said in

substance, that I was not invited by man, but went

at the bidding of God. A friend has sent me from the

records of the Presbyterian church at Gouverneur as follows,

on this point. Speaking of Bro. Nash & myself, "They

came uninvited by man, but sent of God." Elder

Barrell is therefore mistaken, in saying that the Pres.

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church sent for me.

2nd The time of my going. Elder Barrell says that "The

revival commenced in the Baptist church in June

when several were received to the Baptist church". "After

that after the Presbyterian church sent for me."

The record in the Pres. church book, to which I have

alluded, says of Bro. Nash & myself, that one

of us arrived in April, and the other in May. The

recollections of the brethren at Gouverneur, as reported

to an agent of the Oneida circular are, that "Mr. Finney

and Father Nash were here, from April to September".

This is true. I sent Father Nash a few days before

me, in the last of April, and arrived myself

either in the last of April, or about the first of

May. The revival commenced immediately upon my

arrival, as I have related. Elder Barrell is therefore

mistaken in saying that the revival commenced

in Gouverneur in June.

3d In my first article I related the conversion of

Hervey D. Smith, and said he was a Deist. Some of

the Baptist brethren in Gouverneur wrote "Hervey D.

Smith was never an infidel." Under the date of

April 14th Mrs. Smith his widow writes, "I consider

your account," speaking of her husband's conversion,

"correct in all essential particulars."

4th I said in my article that after discussion on

the subject of Baptism, some Baptist families united

with the Presbyterian church. Elder Barrell says

that no one forsook him to join the Presbyterians. I did not say

they did. But I understood at the time, that they were Baptists.

A most reliable member of the Presbyterian church, upon

this point, writes me, as follows. "Those who united

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with our church, after the discussion you refer to,

who were members of the Baptist society. I do not cer-

tainly know if any of them were ever communicants

in the Baptist church," (i.e. in Gouverneur.) "Aas many

new inhabitants were coming in , and we had been

residents but little over a year." I understand

they were Baptists, as this writer does, but I did not know

whether or not they had joined the Baptist church in

that place, and never thought to raise the question.

5th Elder Barrell represents Joel Keyes as having left the

Presbyterian church, because he found "he was

in the wrong church," and joined the Baptists, after

the discussion of the subject in his house, of which I knew

nothing. A friend who has thoroughly examined the record

of the Pres. church, writes as follows, "Mr. Joel Keyes,

whose name he (Elder Barrell) mentioned, was never

a member of our church." From another source I

learn that Joel Keyes had been a member of a Con-

gregational church in Vermont, but had never

united with the Presbyterian church in Gouverneur.

It is very likely that the Baptist families that united

with the Pres. church when I was there, had been

members of Baptist churches east, but having recently

arrived in Gouverneur, had not joined the Baptist

church there, as my friend suggests.

6. Brother Barrell's account of his interview with me

previous to my differs marvelously, from my recollection

of the interview. He says that I admitted to him, that

immersion was the primitive mode of Baptism. This remark

will surprise the many that I have taught upon the this subject,

who know that I have always taught the contrary. I

certainly never held that opinion, but have uniformly

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that that concession

insisted, ^ by whomsoever made, was loosely made, and


Ÿnot warranted by historic truth. He does not deny,

but justifies the proselyting which I deplored, and

which forced me to publicly discuss the question.


7th Brother Barrell does not recollect, but denies,

that Elder Freeman came there at the time I

mentioned, and lectured on the subject of Baptism.

But some of the Baptists at Gouverneur remember

his being there. The agent of the Oneida circular affirms

that he had carefully questioned different parties in

Gouverneur, and writes "Daniel Keyes, and others, who

have not yet seen the Independent, told the same

story about the Baptist controversy, that Mr. Finney

reported." These were probably Presbyterians, but a most reliable

member of the Pres. Church, writes as follows, "The Baptist

sister, of whom I wrote in my last, said she remembered

Elder Freeman's visit here, but was prevented by ill

health, from attending the meetings ( i.e. his meetings)


8 I represented Elder Freeman as being present

on the last day of my discussion, and as going out,

and as being found by a Deacon of the Pres. church,

who led out a little child, sitting in the vestibule, and

weeping, at the close of my remarks. This same Deacon

writes under date of May 24th 1873. "You need not

doubt, that I saw Elder Freeman weeping, in the

vestibule of the church, as I told you." In reference

to leading out the little child, he says "James, the little

one whom I led out of church, as you may recollect,

died at Watertown in 1846." Thus, I find the accuracy

of my memory confirmed by the recollection of others.

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9th I said in my article that after I left, the Baptist church

dismissed their minister, and worshipped for some

time, with the Presbyterians. I derived my information

on this point, some years after I left Gouverneur,

from parties whose veracity, I did not at all

question. But as this is denied by some of the Baptist

brethren at Gouverneur, it is probable that I was

misinformed. I am not at all disposed to call in

question the veracity of Elder Barrell, or any

of the brethren, whose recollections differ from my

own, in regard to these questions. Indeed, they cannot

justly be considered questions of veracity, but only

of memory, and as the facts in question occurred

nearly a half a century ago, it were unchristian

to call in question each others veracity, instead

of understanding our differences as only matters

of memory.