The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY
Labors at Home Again and Elsewhere
We arrived at Oberlin in May and had a very interesting revival, especially among our students, that lasted all summer. In the following autumn I was invited to visit New York and labor in the Broadway Tabernacle, the place of my former labors. I knew they were in the habit of letting the Tabernacle to various societies to hold their anniversaries, and for various lectures, especially during the winter season, and that we could do nothing there to promote a revival if the house was to be continually let for such purposes. I therefore wrote to Brother Thompson, the pastor, declining to accept of his invitation except upon the condition that, during my stay with him, the Tabernacle should not be let for other purposes. After a short time he replied that they had concluded not to let the Tabernacle during my laboring there to any of the societies; and that they had raised a fund in their own congregation to meet the expenses of the congregation, so that they should be under no pecuniary necessity of letting it.
When the time arrived my wife and myself went down and commenced our labors. But I soon found to my surprise that Brother Thompson objected wholly to putting up any posters about the city, giving notice of our meetings. I told him that I had never known that to be objected to in any place where I had labored in this country or in Europe, and that the custom was universal in great cities to put up posters advertising our meetings. But he persisted in refusing to have any such thing done; consequently our meetings were advertised in that great city only from the notices that were given from time to time in our meetings themselves. Brother Thompson's own congregation was not large, although his house was so large. The people were inquiring continually when I was going to preach. Mr. Thompson himself generally preached once on the Sabbath. The people were anxious to know, as I was then a stranger to most of them, what part of the day I would preach. But he would seldom or never give any notice to the people as to what part of the day I would preach. If for a Sabbath or two in succession I preached in the morning, or in the afternoon, as the case might be, the people would come expecting to hear me. But several times he exchanged, and took that part of the day to preach himself that I had occupied the previous Sabbath. It was very difficult for me to get hold of the people. I never could account for this course pursued by Brother Thompson, but I give the facts as they occurred. But soon after I began my labors I found that the men who had the financial affairs of the congregation in their hands began to let the Tabernacle on week evenings as they had formerly done. At first I supposed that these were to be merely exceptional cases. But I soon learned that the societies that had had the use of the Tabernacle in former years, and those who had been in the habit of holding lectures there, etc., had informed the leading men in the congregation that if they did not let them have the Tabernacle that winter as usual, they would go up town and hold their meetings, and not return there again. This overruled their decision not to let the house, and consequently it broke up in a great measure our weekly preaching services. On one Sabbath I had preached afternoon and evening to a very full house, and the congregation was very mellow, and everything looked as if we were on the point of having a great outburst of religious interest. But on going home I took cold, and on the next Monday morning found myself unable to rise from my bed.
I had appointed, if I remember right, to preach on Tuesday evening. But when the evening came I was still confined to my bed. I felt very anxious about it; but as Brother Thompson knew that I was sick, I supposed that he would be prepared to preach himself, or would get some one to take my place. However, for some reason he did no such thing. When the evening arrived he simply told the people, as they came thronging together, that I was unable to preach, and dismissed them and sent them away. After so far recovering as to be able to preach, I preached but very little, finding it, as I thought, impossible under the circumstances to promote a general revival. I therefore left, and accepted an invitation to go to Hartford, Connecticut, and hold a series of meetings. I was sent for by Brother William Patton, who was then a pastor of one of the Congregational churches of that city. I began my labors there, and very soon a powerful revival influence was manifested among the people.
But there was at this time an unhappy state of disagreement existing between Dr. Hawes and Dr. Bushnell. The orthodoxy of Dr. Bushnell, as is well-known, had been called in question. Dr. Hawes was himself of opinion that Dr. Bushnell's views were highly objectionable.
However, both Dr. Hawes and Dr. Bushnell attended our meetings, and manifested a great interest in the work which they saw had fairly begun. They invited me to preach in their churches, which I did. Still the lay brethren through the city felt as if the disagreement among the ministers was a stumbling block in the way, and there was a considerable urgency expressed on the part of the laity to have the ministers come more fraternally together, and take a united stand before the people to promote the work. The people generally did not sympathize with Dr. Hawes' strong views in regard to the orthodoxy of Dr. Bushnell. Being informed of this, I in a fraternal spirit told Dr. Hawes that he was in a false position, and that the people felt tried with his laying so great stress upon what he called the errors of Dr. Bushnell, and that they very generally, I believed, did not justify him in the position that he occupied. Dr. Hawes was a good man, and manifestly felt his responsibility in this matter very deeply.
One evening I had been preaching, I think, for Brother Patton, and the three Congregational ministers were present. After meeting they followed me to my lodgings, and Dr. Hawes said: "Brother Finney, we are satisfied that the Spirit of the Lord is poured out here; and now what can we as ministers do to promote this work?" I told them freely what I thought. That a great responsibility rested upon them, and it seemed to me that it was for them to say whether the work should become general throughout the city or not. That if they could reconcile their differences, and come out before the churches and be united and take hold of the work, a great obstacle would be removed; and that I thought we might expect the work to spread rapidly on every hand. They saw their position, for I talked quite plainly to them, and Dr. Hawes and Dr. Bushnell came to an understanding to lay aside their difficulties, and go on and promote the work. I should say here that I believe Brother Patton had never sympathized with the strong views held by Brother Hawes; and I should also say that Dr. Bushnell himself did not seem to have any controversy with Dr. Hawes; and the obstacle to be removed from before the public seemed to be mostly the unwillingness of Dr. Hawes to cordially cooperate with the other ministers in the work.
Dr. Hawes was too good a man to persist in anything that would prevent his doing whatever he could consistently do to promote the work. Therefore from that time we seemed to work together with a good measure of cordiality. The work spread into all the congregations, and went on very hopefully for a number of weeks. But there was one peculiarity about that work that I have never forgotten. I believe every Sabbath that I was in that city it stormed furiously. Such a succession of stormy Sabbaths I almost never witnessed. However, our meetings were fully attended, and for a place like Hartford the work became powerful and extensive.
Those who are acquainted with Hartford know how fastidious and precise they are in regard to all they do. They were afraid of any measures other than simply prayer meetings, and preaching meetings, and meetings for inquiry. In other words it was out of the question to call on sinners to come forward and break away from the fear of man, and give themselves publicly to God. Dr. Hawes was especially very much afraid of any such measures. Consequently I could do no such thing there. Indeed Dr. Hawes was so much afraid of measures, that I recollect one night in attending a meeting of inquiry in his vestry with him the number of inquirers present was large, and at the close I called on those that were willing then and there to give themselves up to God, to kneel down. This startled Dr. Hawes; and he remarked before they knelt down that none were requested to do so unless they did it cheerfully, of their own accord; which, by the by, I was aware that most of them would very readily do. They did kneel down, and we prayed with them. Dr. Hawes remarked to me as the inquirers rose and were dismissed: "I have always felt the necessity of some such measure, but have been afraid to use it. I have always seen," said he, "that something was needed to bring them to a stand, and to induce them to act on their present convictions, but I have not had courage to do anything of the kind." I said to him that I had found some such measure indispensable to bring sinners to the point of submission.
In this revival there was a great deal of praying. The young converts especially gave themselves to very much prayer. One evening, as I learned, one of the young converts after the evening services invited another convert to go home with him, and they would hold a season of prayer together. The Lord was with them, and the next evening they invited others, and the next evening more still, until the meeting became so large that they were obliged to divide it. These meetings were held after the preaching service. The second meeting soon became too large for the room, and that again was divided. And I understood at the time that these meetings multiplied until the young converts were almost universally in the habit of holding meetings for prayer in different places after the preaching service. Finally to these meetings they invited inquirers, and such as wished to be prayed for. This led to quite an organized effort among the converts for the salvation of souls.
A very interesting state of things sprung up at this time in the public schools. As I was informed, the ministers had agreed that they would not visit the public schools and make any religious efforts there, because it excited jealousy on the part of different denominations. One morning a large number of lads, as I was told, when they came together were so affected that they could not study, and asked their teacher to pray for them. He was not a professor of religion, and sent for one of the pastors, informing him of the state of things, and requesting him to come and hold some religious service with them. But he declined, saying that there was an understanding among the pastors that they would not go to the public schools to hold any religious services, lest it should excite denominational animosities. He sent for another, and another, as I was informed, but they told him he must pray for the scholars himself. This put him in a tight place. But it resulted, I believe, in his giving his own heart to God, and in his taking measures for the conversion of the school. I understood there was a goodly number of the scholars in the various common schools that were converted at that time.
Everyone acquainted with the city of Hartford knows that its inhabitants are a very intelligent people, that all classes are educated, and that there is perhaps no city in the world where education of so high an order is so universal as it is in Hartford. When they came to receive the converts, some six hundred, I believe, united with their churches. Dr. Hawes said to me before I left: "What shall we do with these young converts? If we should form them into a church by themselves they would make admirable workers for the salvation of souls. If, however, we receive them to our churches, where we have so many elderly men and women who are always expected to take the lead in everything, their modesty will make them fall in behind these staid Christian men and women; and they will live as they have lived, and be inefficient as they have been." However, as I understood, the young converts of both sexes formed themselves into a kind of City Missionary Society, and organized for the purpose of making direct efforts to convert souls throughout the city. Such efforts as this, for instance, were made by numbers of them. One of the principal young ladies in the city, perhaps as well-known and as much respected as any lady in the city, undertook to reclaim, and if possible save, a class of young men who belonged to high and wealthy families, and had fallen into bad habits and into moral decay, had lost their character and had a good deal fallen out of society and lost the respect of the people.
The position and character of this young lady rendered it possible and proper for her to make such an effort without creating a suspicion of any impropriety on her part. She took measures to get an opportunity to converse with this class of young men; and as I understood got them together for religious instruction, and conversation, and prayer, and was very successful in reclaiming numbers of them. If l have been rightly informed the converts of that revival were a great power in that city for good, and many of them remain there still, and are very active in promoting religion.
Mrs. Finney established prayer meetings for ladies, which were held in the vestry of the churches. These meetings were largely attended, and became very interesting. The ladies were very much united and very much in earnest, and became a principal power, under God, in promoting His work there. The doctrines that I preached were what I had everywhere preached, and the measures that I used what I had everywhere used, with the exception of the anxious seat. After preaching, however, I invited inquirers, as I had in other places, to the vestry for particular instruction, and those meetings were often very large. There were very many striking cases of conversion in this city, as was usual in all other places.
We left there about the first of April, and went to the city of New York, on our way home. There I preached a few times for Brother Henry Ward Beecher in Brooklyn, and there was a growing and deepening religious influence there when I arrived and when I left. But I preached but a few times, because my health gave way, and I was obliged to desist. We came home and went on with our labors here as usual, with the almost uniform results of a great degree of religious influence among our students, and extending more or less generally to the inhabitants. It had become so common to have large numbers of our students inquiring from week to week, and from month to month, that the inhabitants came to look upon it as a thing of course. There was no novelty in such a state of things, and therefore no such interest excited here by it as would have been excited in any other place. However, the good people always prayed earnestly for the forwarding of the work among the students, and there was always a goodly number of our people that would enter heart and soul into anything of this kind.
The next winter we left Oberlin at the usual season in the fall, and started east to occupy a field of labor to which we had been invited. While we were in Hartford the previous winter we had a very pressing invitation to go to the city of Syracuse to labor. The Methodist brethren had held a protracted meeting; and the kind and degree of excitement that had been manifested among them had excited opposition on the part of professors of other denominations, and a very unpleasant state of things had resulted as a consequence. In this extremity the minister of the Congregational church came down to Hartford to persuade me, if possible, to go to Syracuse. I could not see it my duty to go at that time, and thought no more about it. But as we went east, at Rochester we met this minister, who was not then the pastor of the little Congregational church in the city of Syracuse. But he felt so much interest for them that he finally induced me to promise him that I would stop there, and spend at least one Sabbath. We did so, and found the little Congregational church very much discouraged. Their number was small. The church was mostly composed of persons of very radical views in regard to all the great questions of reform. The Presbyterian churches, and the other churches generally, did not sympathize at all with them, and it seemed as if the Congregational church must become extinct. I preached one Sabbath, and learned so much about the state of things as to be induced to remain another Sabbath. Soon I began to perceive a movement among the dry bones.
Some of the leading members of the Congregational church began to make confession to each other, and public confession of their wanderings from God, and of other things that had created prejudice against them in the city. This conciliated the people around them, and they began to come, and soon their house of worship was too narrow to hold the people. I, however, had not expected to stay more than one Sabbath; but I could not see my way clear to leave; and I kept on from Sabbath to Sabbath. The interest continued to increase and to spread. The Lord removed the obstacles, and brought Christian people nearer together. The Presbyterian churches were thrown open to our meetings, and conversions were multiplied on every side. However, as in some other cases, I directed my preaching very much to the Christian people. There had been very little sympathy existing between them, and a great work was needed among professors of religion before the way could be prepared outside of the churches. Thus l continued to labor in the different churches until the Second Presbyterian Church was left without a pastor, after which we concentrated our meetings there in a great measure, and held on throughout the winter.
Here again Mrs. Finney established her ladies' meetings with great success. She generally held them in the lecture room of the First Presbyterian Church, I think, a commodious and convenient room for such meetings. A great many very interesting facts transpired in her meetings that winter. Christians of different denominations seemed to flow together after awhile, and all the difficulties that had existed among them seemed to be done away. Neither of the Presbyterian churches had at that time any pastor. The First Church had no pastor when I arrived there, and the pastor of the Second Church left after I went there. The Congregational Church had no pastor, and hence none of them opened the doors of their churches to receive the converts. I was very willing that this should be so, as I knew that there was great danger, if they began to receive the converts that jealousies would spring up and mar the work.
As we were about to leave in the spring, I gave out notice from the pulpit, on my own responsibility, that on the next Sabbath we should hold a Communion service, to which all Christians who truly loved the Lord Jesus Christ, and gave evidence of it in their lives, were invited. That was one of the most interesting Communion seasons I ever witnessed. The church was filled almost or quite to its utmost capacity with communicants. Two very aged ministers, Father Waldo and Father Brainard, attended and helped at the Communion service. There was a great melting in the congregation, and a more loving and joyful Communion of the people of God I think I never saw anywhere.
After I left, the churches all secured pastors as soon as they could. I have been informed that that revival resulted in great and permanent good. The Congregational Church afterwards built them a larger house of worship, and has been, I believe, ever since a healthy church and congregation. The Presbyterian churches, and I believe the Baptist churches, were much strengthened in faith and increased in numbers.
The work was very deep there amongst a great many professors of religion. One very striking fact occurred which I will mention. There was a lady living in the first Ward by the name of Childs, the Christian wife of an unconverted husband. She was a lady of great refinement, and beauty of character and person. Her husband was a merchant, a man of good moral character, and as I should judge from what I heard him say, passionately fond of his wife. She attended our meetings, and became very much convicted for a deeper work of grace in her soul. She called on me one day in a state of very anxious inquiry. I had a few moments' conversation with her, and directed her attention especially to the necessity of a thorough and universal consecration of herself and of her all to Christ. I told her that when she had done this she must believe for the sealing of the Holy Spirit. She had heard the doctrine of sanctification preached, and it had greatly interested her, and her inquiry was how she should obtain it. I gave her the brief direction which I have mentioned, and she got up hastily and left me. Such a pressure was upon her mind that she seemed in haste to lay hold of the fullness there was in Christ. I do not think she was in my room more than five or ten minutes, and she left me like a person who has some pressing business on hand. In the afternoon she returned as full of the Holy Spirit, to all human appearance, as she could be. She said she hurried home from my room in the morning, and went immediately to her chamber, and cast herself down before God and made a thorough consecration of herself and of her all to Him. She said she had clearer apprehensions by far of what was meant by that than she had ever had before, and she made a full and complete resignation of herself and everything into the hands of Christ. Her mind became at once entirely calm, and she felt that she began to fill up with the fullness of the Holy Spirit. In a very short time she seemed to be lifted up above herself, and her joy was so great that she could hardly refrain from shouting.
As I said, she came down to see me again after dinner. I had some conversation with her, and saw that she was in danger of being overexcited. I said as much as I dared to say to put her on her guard against this, and she went home. In the evening she attended our prayer and conference meeting; and as one after another was getting up to relate their Christian experience, she arose to tell what the Lord had done, and was doing, for her soul. Her face was literally radiant with religious joy. Every person present I presume, was struck with the halo that seemed to fill her countenance. She proceeded a little way in her narrative, and became incoherent as if she was forgetting herself. I understood it in a moment, and stepped to her and speaking softly to her advised her to sit down. I then requested her friends to take her home, and advised my wife to go with her. She did so, and remained with her two or three days, until her excitement abated. Her joy was so great as to lift her quite above herself for several days, and she was really in danger of becoming entirely insane. However, my wife remained with her, did not suffer her to see any company, and soothed and quieted her as best she could until her danger of insanity was quite past.
A few days afterwards her husband called on me one morning with his sleigh, and asked me to take a ride with him. I did so, and found that his object was to talk with me about his wife. He said that she was brought up among the Friends, and when he married her he thought she was one of the most perfect women that he ever knew. But finally, he said, she became converted, and then he observed a greater change in her than he thought was possible, for he thought her as perfectly moral in her outward life before as she could be. Nevertheless, the change in her spirit and bearing at the time of her conversion was so manifest, he said, that no one could doubt it. "Since then," he said, "I have thought her almost or quite perfect. But." said he, "now she has manifestly passed through a greater change than ever. I see it in everything," said he. "There is such a spirit in her, such a change, such an energy in her religion, and such a fullness of joy and peace and love!" He inquired, "What shall I make of it? How am I to understand this? Do such changes really take place in Christian people?"
I explained it to him as best I could. I tried to make him understand what she was by her education as a Quaker, and what her conversion had done for her, and then told him that this was a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit that had so greatly changed her at that time. He was manifestly much surprised at the changes that had come over his wife, and especially this last one. She has now passed away to heaven, but the savor of that anointing of the Holy Spirit remained with her, as I have been informed, to the day of her death.
There was one circumstance that I have often heard my wife relate that occurred in her meetings, that is worth notice here. Her ladies' meetings were composed of the more cultivated and refined class of ladies in the different churches. Many of them were, as my wife supposed, fastidious. But among others there was an elderly and uneducated old woman that attended their meetings, and that used to get up and speak, sometimes a good deal to the annoyance of the ladies, as my wife understood. Somehow she had the impression that it was her duty to speak at every meeting, and sometimes she would get up and complain of the Lord that He laid it upon her to speak in meeting, while so many fine ladies of education were allowed to attend and take no part. She wondered why it was that God made it her duty to speak, while those fine ladies, who could speak so much to edification, were allowed to attend those meetings and "have no cross," as she expressed it, "to take up." What she said was always in a whining and complaining manner. The part that she felt it her duty to take in every meeting a good deal annoyed and discouraged my wife. She saw that it did not interest the ladies, and it seemed to her rather an element of disgust.
But after things had gone on in this way for some time, one day this same old woman arose in meeting, and a new spirit was upon her. My wife said she observed her rise, and at first she felt sorry that she was going to occupy the time again. But as soon as she opened her mouth it was apparent to everybody that a great change had come over her. She had come to the meeting full of the Holy Ghost, and she poured out her fresh experience in a manner that made the ladies stare. My wife said that she saw in a moment that they were greatly interested in what the old woman said, and she went forward with an earnestness in relating what the Lord had done for her that carried conviction to every mind. The ladies turned and leaned toward her to hear every word that she said, the tears began to flow, and a great movement of the Spirit seemed to be visible at once throughout the congregation. My wife has often remarked that such a remarkable change as that manifested to those ladies, wrought immense good among them, and that the old woman became a favorite. After that they expected to hear from her, and were greatly delighted from meeting to meeting to hear her tell what the Lord had done, and was doing for her soul.
In that city, I found a Christian woman whom they called "Mother Austin," a woman of most remarkable faith. She was poor, and entirely dependent upon the charitable assistance of the Christians in that city for subsistence. She was an uneducated woman, and had been raised manifestly in a family of very little cultivation. But she had such faith as to secure the confidence of all who knew her. The conviction seemed to be universal among both Christians and unbelievers, that Mother Austin was a saint. I do not think I ever witnessed greater faith in its simplicity and implicitness, than was manifested by that woman. A great many facts were related to me respecting her that showed her trust in God, and in what a remarkable manner God provided for her wants from day to day. She said to me on one occasion: "Brother Finney, it is impossible for me to suffer for any of the necessaries of life, because God has said to me, 'Trust in the Lord and do good: so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.'" She related to me many facts in her history, and many facts were related to me by others, illustrative of the power of her faith.
She said, one Saturday evening a friend of hers, but an impenitent man, called to see her; and after conversing awhile he offered her as he went away a five dollar bill. She said that she felt an inward admonition not to take it. She felt that it would be an act of self-righteousness on the part of that man, and might do him more harm than it would do her good. She therefore declined to take it, and he went away. She said she had just wood and food enough in the house to last over the Sabbath, and that was all, and she had no means whatever of obtaining any more. But still she was not at all afraid to trust God in such circumstances, as she had done it for so many years.
On the Sabbath day there came a violent snow-storm. It snowed terrifically all Sunday and Sunday night. On Monday morning the snow was several feet deep, and the streets were blocked up so that there was no passing without shoveling. She had a young son that lived with her, they two composing the whole family. They arose in the morning and found themselves snowed in on every side. They made out to muster fuel enough for a little fire, and soon the boy began to inquire what they should have for breakfast. She said, "I do not know, my son, but the Lord will provide." She looked out, and nobody could pass the streets. The lad began to weep bitterly, and concluded that they should freeze and starve to death. However, she said she went on and made such preparations as she could to provide for breakfast, if any should come. I think she said she set her table, and made arrangements for her breakfast, believing that some would come in due season. Very soon she heard a loud talking in the streets, and went to the window to see what it was, and behold, a man in a single sleigh, and some men with him shoveling the snow so that the horse could get through. Up they came to her door, and behold! they had brought her a plenty of fuel and provisions, everything to make her comfortable for several days. But time would fail me to tell the numbers of instances in which she was helped in a manner as striking as this. Indeed, it was notorious through the city, so far as I could learn, that Mother Austin's faith was like a bank; and that she never suffered for want of the necessaries of life, because she drew on God.
I never knew the number of converts at that time in Syracuse. Indeed I was never in the habit of ascertaining the number of hopeful conversions. I left all such things to be known when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed. However, the state of things in the spring in that city religiously was the very opposite of what it had been the fall before; and if I am rightly informed they have never had so disastrous a state of things in that city since, or anything like it, as there was immediately previous to that revival. By those who have had any knowledge of the state of things in this country for the last thirty years, it will not be considered strange that everywhere where I was called to labor I had to overcome a great deal of prejudice in regard to my theological views. Hyper-Calvinistic views had obtained among Presbyterians and Congregationalists almost universally, up to the time that I began to preach. I saw that it was indispensable to introduce new views on several important questions, before anything like a successful effort could be made to convert the world. President Edwards' view of the bondage of the will, and the strange distinction he made between moral and natural ability and inability, had greatly influenced the ministry, and taken possession of nearly all the pulpits in the Presbyterian and Congregational denominations.
In most of the Baptist churches in the country they held to a higher and more absurd Calvinism than in the Presbyterian and Congregational churches. It is not wonderful, therefore, that the theology which I preached should have excited alarm and resistance. But after all it was the strange confusion that had taken possession of the minds of men in regard to our views of sanctification as taught in this place, that developed a great deal of prejudice in the land, and was many times a powerful obstacle to be overcome wherever I attempted to promote a revival. At Syracuse, as in every other place where I preached, the people were snuffing for heresy; and it was not until their prejudices were absolutely worn out by attending our meetings, hearing what was said, and seeing that God evidently bore testimony to the truth as it was exhibited, that their prejudices were so far overcome as to unite in forwarding the work. I have already said that it was the avowed object of certain leading minds to hedge me in, and if possible shut all the pulpits in the land against me. In this, however, they never succeeded, and it was always impossible for me to favorably respond to but a small portion of the pressing invitations I had to preach in almost every direction. However, very much labor was needed, and very much caution and wisdom, to get over these prejudices that had been created, and secure union of effort among Christians to promote revivals of religion.
I was no doubt in a sense responsible for much of the prejudice that existed. It fell to my lot, in the providence of God, to attack and expose many fallacies and false notions that existed in the churches, and that were paralyzing their efforts and rendering the preaching of the Gospel inefficacious. Indeed, as long as ministers would preach repentance, and then solemnly inform their hearers that they could not repent; as long as they would preach faith, and then speak of faith as the gift of God in such a sense as that they could not exercise it; as long as they would represent faith as an intellectual state instead of a voluntary trust; as long as they would represent repentance as a feeling of godly sorrow, a state of the sensibility, and consequently an involuntary state instead of a voluntary change of mind--as long as these and kindred dogmas were held and taught, the Gospel was not really preached. What they called the Gospel was a stumbling block. As long as human nature was represented as in itself morally depraved, and, as a consequence, that sinners must wait for God to change their very nature before they could be Christians, what could be expected but a universal waiting on the part of sinners, and upon the part of Christians a universal throwing all the responsibility of the conversion of sinners upon God? As long as men were taught that for their sinful nature they were threatened with eternal damnation, and that the Atonement of Christ was made only for the elect--every one can see that all these and kindred dogmas were a snare and a stumbling block, and their legitimate influence was consequently manifesting itself in the wide-spread moral desolation that reigned.
It is not at all wonderful to me that, being commissioned, as I supposed myself to be, to attack and expose these errors let the consequence to myself be what it might, I should meet with just the opposition and prejudice that I did. However, it is true that the opposition and prejudice were greatly increased in some instances, by the unwise and almost unaccountable opposition of men who professed to agree with me in my theological teaching. I have seldom been in any place where I felt the strong bands of prejudice on the part of those around me, more than I did for some weeks in Syracuse.
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