When Finney was two years old his family moved to upstate New York. He received his early education in frontier schools. While he was still a young man, Finney studied law and set up practice in Adams, New York. A book on law, Blackstone's Commentaries on Law, repeatedly mentioned the Bible. Blackstone referred to the Bible as the highest authority. Finney bought a Bible and was soon reading it more than the books on law. The Bible moved Finney deeply and on October 10, 1821 Finney became a converted Christian. He decided to witness for Christ instead of practicing law.
Life as a Preacher
Finney was soon conducting large revival meeting and was filling the largest buildings available. The highlight of his evangelistic ministry, called the "nine might years," was from 1824 to 1832. During this time period, he conducted powerful revival meeting all over the eastern cities of Goureneur, Rome, Utica, Auburn, Troy, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. After his meeting in Rochester, New York, twelve hundred people united with the churches of Rochester Presbytery. The whole character of the town was changed. As a result of that meeting, revivals broke out in 1,500 other towns and villages. Due to poor health, Finney was forced to stop his evangelistic ministry. He became president of Oberlin College in 1851, where he lectured until his death, in August 16, 1875. An abolitionist, Finney's preaching and work with Oberlin College would often reflect this view. Finney is called the "father of modern revivalism" by some historians today.