Charles Finney, 1792-1875, Evangelist, Educator
AUTHOR: Ruckman
PUBLISHED ON: March 12, 2003
PUBLISHED IN: Biographies

Charles Grandison Finney
American evangelist and educator. Charles Finney was born at
Warren, Connecticut, but two years later his family moved to
upstate New York, where he received his early education in
frontier schools. As a young man, he studied law and set up
practice at Adams, New York.
        While reading Blackstone’s Commentaries on Law, he
noted continuous references to the Holy Scriptures.
Blackstone repeatedly mentioned the Bible as the highest au-
thority. This moved Finney to buy a Bible, and he soon was
reading it more than law.
        The Word of God brought deep conviction to his soul,
and on October 10, 1821, out in the woods, he was converted
to Christ. He immediately began witnessing for Christ, and
before long was conducting revival meetings. Finney used the
apostolic practices of the New Testament and was soon filling
the largest buildings available and keeping them filled.
        The highlight of his evangelistic ministry was the
“nine mighty years” of 1824 to 1832, during which he con-
ducted powerful revival meetings all over the eastern cities
of Goureneur, Rome, Utica, Auburn, Troy, Wilmington, Phila-
delphia, Boston, and New York. During his meeting in
Rochester, New York, “the place was shaken to its founda-
tions.” Twelve hundred people united with the churches of
Rochester Presbytery. All the leading lawyers, physicians,
and businessmen were saved. Forty of the converts entered the
ministry, and the whole character of the town was changed. As
a result of that meeting, revivals broke out in 1,500 other
towns and villages.
        He was finally forced to discontinue his evangelistic
ministry due to bad health, and, after many years as a re-
vival preaching pastor in New York City, he became president
of Oberlin College, where he lectured until his death.
        Over 500,000 people responded to his public invita-
tions to receive Christ. Finney was personal, homespun, dra-
matic, and forceful, and his revival lectures are still stud-
ied by Bible-believing preachers, teachers, and evangelists.

Ruckman ’67

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