CHARLES GRANDISON FINNEY
1792 - 1875
Charles Grandison Finney, "American clergyman, revivalist preacher, and educator.
Finney was born in Litchfield county, Conn., on Aug. 27, 1792. He studied law from 1818 to 1821, when he had a sudden conversion
experience. After this he began to preach and was licensed to preach by the Presbyterian denomination in 1824. Wherever he
traveled he started extensive religious revivals.
Finney was criticized because he emphasized the will of man in the process of regeneration
and employed revival techniques that became known as "New Measures", calculated to evoke a highly emotional response. Impatient
with Presbyterianism, he became a Congregationalist, serving New York City's Broadway Tabernacle.
Finney was appointed professor of theology at Oberlin College (1835), minister of the First
Congregational Church at Oberlin (1837), and was named president of the college in 1852. His Lectures on Revivals (1835) became
a handbook for American revivalists, and his Lectures on Theology (1846) indicate the modifying influence of evangelicalism
on American Calvinism.
"I have a retainer from the Lord Jesus Christ to plead his cause, and cannot plead yours."
The 29-year-old lawyer Charles Grandison Finney had decided he must settle the question of his soul's salvation.
So on October 10, 1821, he headed out into the woods near his Adams, New York, home to find God. "I will give my heart to
God, or I never will come down from there," he said. After several hours, he returned to his office, where he experienced
such forceful emotion that he questioned those who could not testify to a similar encounter.
"The Holy Spirit … seemed to go through me, body and soul," he later wrote. "I could feel the impression,
like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves of liquid love, for I could not
express it in any other way."
The next morning, Finney returned to his law office to meet with a client whose case he was about to argue.
"I have a retainer from the Lord Jesus Christ to plead his cause," he told the man, "and cannot plead yours."