Where Finney Prayed
THE GROVE OVER THE HILL
Finney had entered the law office of Wright and Wardell as a student of law. He was an apprentice for the next three years, until the fall of 1821, when at age twenty-nine he had a life-changing encounter with the living Christ. From that day on he began to prepare for the ministry. There were several things that contributed to his powerful conversion:
As part of his legal training, it was required that he read Blackstone’s law commentaries, which showed how many of our laws in America were actually based upon the laws in the Old Testament. Finney’s curiosity was picked by this, so he went out and bought his first Bible. In time, he began to read it more out of sincere interest. However, when someone would come into the law office, he would quickly hide the Bible under another book.
As he read the Bible, he began to see a discrepancy between what he was reading about the New Testament church and the church in Adams. For example, when Jesus spoke about prayer He said "Ask, and you shall receive," but when Finney attended the local prayer meetings, he said their prayers were weak and feeble and he saw no apparent answers to them.
He had also befriended the young pastor, Rev. George W. Gale, who was only three years older than Finney at the time. He was fresh out of Princeton Theological Seminary and this was his first pastorate. Charles began attending Gale’s church and was even asked to lead the choir because of his superior singing voice.
Charles’ younger brother, George, had written him a letter during this time, saying that he had just become a believer. This caused Finney to break down and cry, as he considered how improbable it was that God would save someone from his family.
Then there was a young woman named Lydia Andrews, who had been visiting relatives in Adams and was also in the choir. She began to seriously pray for Finney. (She later became his wife.)
According to his memoirs, Finney’s dramatic conversion took place in a grove of trees just beyond the village. Finney wrote:
"North of the village, and over a hill, lay a piece of woods in which I was in the almost daily habit of walking, more or less, when it was pleasant weather. It was now October, and the time was past for my frequent walks there. Nevertheless, instead of going to the office, I turned and bent my course toward the woods, feeling that I must be alone, and away from all human eyes and ears, so that I could pour out my prayer to God.
I then penetrated into the woods, I should think, a quarter of a mile, went over on the other side of the hill, and found a place where some large trees had fallen across each other, leaving an open place between. There I saw I could make a kind of closet. I crept into this place and knelt down for prayer. As I turned to go up into the woods, I recollect to have said, "I will give my heart to God, or I never will come down from there." I recollect repeating this as I went up -- `I will give my heart to God before I ever come down again.’”1.
Charles G. Finney had become a Christian in Adams on October 10th, 1821, a few months before his thirtieth birthday.
WHERE IS THE GROVE OF TREES TODAY?
There is only one hill north of the village, about a quarter of a mile away. Although the deep pine forest has long since been harvested, no houses have been built on this land. It remains an open field remains to this day. Years before I began doing any research about Finney, I met an older Christian lady at a retreat who introduced herself as being from Adams. When I asked her if she knew anything about Finney, she said she owned a house on the hill near where he met the Lord. The house is right beside the village water tower on the hill that overlooks the place where Finney had prayed. The woods had been cut down in Finney’s lifetime. Someone wrote to tell him about it, and he expressed grief at finding that the beautiful grove had been transformed into a simple field. He said that many people had found the Lord there. 2.
1. These details were found in the footnotes of "Memoirs of Charles G. Finney", with Complete Restored Text, as edited by Richard A. Dupuis and Garth M. Rosell, published by Academie Books, an imprint of Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
2. This fact was found in the footnotes of "The Memoirs of Charles G. Finney" Edited and annotated by Garth M. Rosell and Richard A. G. Dupuis.
3. The Screen Shot of Adams, NY Copyright © 2012-2019 Apple Inc. All rights reserved.