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To Abel Stevens, editor Zion's Herald. Dear Brother: This leaves me in good health as I have enjoyed for years, or since I left the (Ohio) Penitentiary. I much more than thankful to you and to the Michigan Advocate for giving some us poor ministers in the Ohio Conference the privilege of defending ourselves against some of the most violent measures that in my opinion ever disgraced a body of ministers, calling themselves the ambassadors of the Blessed Jesus. Just because we would not believe and consent to act on the rule, advising us to build our houses of worship with free seats as mandatory and punishable, by the Executive Officers of the Discipline. No doubt you are well posted upon some of the doings of the aristocracy of our Conference, viz: Walker, Trimble, Moody, and company, and no one has come in for more of their abuse than myself. Brother Inskip has been persued withy a penitential zeal that would have been worthy of the Dark Ages, and our beloved Bishop Jones has been abused and reviled in the public streets of Chillicothe, and the brethren who have contended for the privilege of Family Sitting, their houses were called Houses of Assignation. Now my Brother, as you have noticed in your paper that I am superannuated, if you will consent I will the whole tale through your paper and let me old and tried friends and brethren in the membership and minister, east and Radicals know, why I am driven to the position I now occupy. It is to me a most painful task and so far as I am concerned I would decline saying anything. The ministers of the Church and the feelings of my friends are concerned, call for it. As you have opened your columns for me and others, I hoped you will permit me to given the history and the documents from the beginning to the end. I shall be very particular only to state such things as will be proven without controversy, both in reference to facts and circumstances, and in closing up this letter -- suffer me to say that the 10th day of last August, about 9:00 o'clock in the morning -- in the State of Kentucky, I was born of the Spirit 50 years ago (or in 1801). I have been traveling as an Itinerant 43 years the 1st day of next May. I have labored from the Fall of 1819 to 1828 as Superintendent on the Indian Mission; six years of that time I lived with them, and took of their hospitality eating and sleeping in their wigwams and in the woods, often between a colored man (Stewart or Pointer) and an Indian brother; on my bed of dried bark or an a bear or buffalo skin. Three years and 3 months did I spend in the Ohio Penitentiary as Moral Instructor not as a prisoner. I lived in the prison with the prisoners every day, prayed at their breakfast table every morning and ate with their guards. I had the appointment of Presiding Elder by the appointing powers for 22 years of my Itinerant life. I have traveled the ______ circuits of this Western valley, and done and suffered as much as any man for the cause of God and Methodism on the west side of the mountains according to my talents and at no time has my moral character been called in question, either for sincerity, honesty or sobriety until the Conference at Chillicothe on last September where I was accused by Mr. Granville Moody. I have sought redress, but none has been afforded me. So my dear friend if you will permit, I will in the year of ____ and I hope with the Spirit of a Christian minister state my whole grievance and then let the world and my brethren judge, and if they shall find me guilty, I will not object to be "anathematized." If you will permit this please send me your excellent paper as a subscriber, and I will send you the subscription price by the next communication...I am yours affectionately. J.B. Finley Abstract Number - 468
Defense of self in Zion's Herald; Church Reform
Finley, James B., "Letter from James B. Finley to Rev. Abel Stevens" (1851). Finley Letters. 666.