The winter of 1843–1844, which Finney spent preaching in Boston at Marlborough Chapel, was a decisive one for him. His experience of the second blessing, or baptism of the Holy Ghost, occurred a this time, and is related here in this excerpt from his Memoirs (also called his Autobiography). In a way, Finney’s description of his experience seems unremarkable, if we are looking for anything exotic—he mentions no miraculous or mystical experience. Here is the real man, in intimate words that recall similar personal reflections by Edwards and others. Here is the inner man, who all that follow Christ—whether they agree with Finney or not—can relate to.

In the fall of 1843, I was called again to Boston …

The mass of the people in Boston are more unsettled in their religious convictions than in any other place that I have ever labored in, notwithstanding their intelligence; for they are surely a very intelligent people, on all questions but that of religion. It is extremely difficult to make religious truths lodge in their minds, because the influence of Unitarian teaching has been, to lead them to call in question all the principle doctrines of the Bible…. They deny almost everything, and affirm almost nothing.

During this winter, the Lord gave my own soul a very thorough overhauling, and a fresh baptism of his Spirit. I boarded at the Marlborough hotel, and my study and bedroom were at one corner of the chapel building. My mind was greatly drawn out in prayer, for a long time; as indeed it always has been, when I have labored in Boston. I have been favored there, uniformly, with a great deal of the spirit of prayer. But this winter, in particular, my mind was exceedingly exercised on the question of personal holiness; and in respect ...

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