Experiences of Charles G. Finney
(1792 - 1875)
of Oberlin College (1851-1866), American lawyer Charles
G. Finney was a central figure in the religious revival
movement of the early 19th century; his sometimes
called the first of the professional evangelists.
At 29, he has this experience:
evening we got the books and furniture adjusted;
and I made up, in an open fireplace, a good fire,
hoping to spend the evening alone. Just as dark
Squire---seeing that everything was adjusted,
bade me goodnight and went to his home. I had
accompanied him to the door; and as I closed the
door and turned around, my heart seemed to be
liquid within me. All my feelings seemed to rise
and flow out; and the utterance of my heart was,
"I want to pour my whole soul out to God."
The rising of my soul was so great that I rushed
into the room back of the front office, to pray.
was no fire, and no light, in the room; nevertheless
it appeared to me as if it were perfectly light.
As I went in and shut the door after me, it seemed
as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ face to face.
It did not occur to me then, nor did it for some
time afterward, that it was a wholly mental state.
On the contrary it seemed to me that I saw him
as I would see any other man. He said nothing,
but looked at me in such a manner as to break
me right down at his feet. I have always since
regarded this as a most remarkable state of mind;
for it seemed to me a reality, that he stood before
me, and I fell down at his feet and poured out
my soul to him. I wept aloud like a child, and
made such confessions as I could with my choked
utterance. It seemed to me that I bathed his feet
with my tears; and yet I had no distinct impression
that I touched him, that I recollect.
must have continued in this state for a good while;
but my mind was too absorbed with the interview
to recollect anything that I said. But I know,
as soon as my mind became calm enough to break
off from the interview, I returned to the front
office, and found that the fire that I had made
of large wood was nearly burned out. But as I
turned and was about to take a seat by the fire,
I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Without any expectation of it, without ever having
the thought in my mind that there was any such
thing for me, without any recollection that I
had ever heard the thing mentioned by any person
in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me
in a manner that seemed to go through me, body
and soul. I could feel the impression, like a
wave of electricity, going through and through
me. Indeed it seemed to have come in waves and
waves of liquid love; for I could not express
it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath
of God. I can recollect distinctly that it seemed
to fan me, like immense wings.
words can express the wonderful love that was
shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy
and love; and I do not know but I should say,
I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings
of my heart. These waves came over me, and over
me, and over me, one after the other, until I
recollect I cried out, "I shall die if these
waves continue to pass over me." I said,
"Lord, I cannot bear any more"; yet
I had no fear of death.
long I continued in this state, with this baptism
continuing to roll over me and go through me,
I do not know. But I know it was late in the evening
when a member of my choir---for I was the leader
of the choir---came into my office to see me.
He was a member of the church. He found me in
this state of loud weeping, and said to me, "Mr.
Finney, what ails you?" I could make him
no answer for some time. He then said, "Are
you in pain?" I gathered myself up as best
I could, and replied, "No, but so happy that
I cannot live."
Charles G. Memoirs of Rev. Charles G. Finney,
(New York: 1876)
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