Finney, Charles G - The illumination of Charles G. Finney
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Cosmic Consciousness, by Richard Maurice Bucke, , CHAPTER 13. Charles G. Finney. 1792–1875.
The illumination of Charles G. Finney took place early in his thirtieth year—that is, in October, 1821. He had the usual earnest religious temperament, and for some time had been greatly troubled about his spiritual state, eagerly desiring, but unable to reach assurance of, salvation. Then occurred what he calls his "conversion." He says:
The rising of my soul was so great that I rushed into the room behind the front office, to pray.
There was no fire and no light in the room; nevertheless it appeared as if it were perfectly light. As I went in and shut the door it seemed as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ face to face. It did not occur to me that it was wholly a mental state; it seemed 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 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.
I must have continued in this state for a good while; but my mind was too much absorbed to recollect anything I said. But I know, as soon as my mind became calm, 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.
No 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.
How long I continued in this state I do not know. But it was late in the evening when a member of my choir came to see me. He was a member of the church. He found me in this state of loud weeping, and said, "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 and replied, "No, but so happy that I cannot live" [104: 17–18].