Finney: Directness

Charles Finney was a very direct preacher. He didn’t hold back on anything. If he believed the congregation to which he was speaking was resisting God, he said so. To do that kind of thing nowadays would be to invite open rebellion and loss of pulpit in most places. Yet Finney’s approach led to numerous awakenings of solid Biblical faith.

Charles Finney AutobiographyWherever he went, controversy followed. One story from his autobiography I find both amusing and sad at the same time:

There was one old man in this place, who was not only an infidel, but a great railer at religion. He was very angry at the revival movement. I heard every day of his railing and blaspheming, but took no public notice of it. He refused altogether to attend meeting.

But in the midst of his opposition, and when his excitement was great, while sitting one morning at the table, he suddenly fell out of his chair in a fit of apoplexy. A physician was immediately called, who, after a brief examination, told him that he could live but a very short time; and that if he had anything to say he must say it at once.

He had just strength enough and time, as I was informed, to stammer out, “Don’t let Finney pray over my corpse.” This was the last of his opposition in that place.

Even on death’s door, some people will not relent. God does not send them to hell; they send themselves.