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send me one contradiction, made out in proper form, and written in
such style as will not shock the nerves of any of my readers, male
or female, I will engage to show, according to right reason, that there
is no contradiction in it. In all good will, respectfully.


Accepting Mr. Campbell's invitation to present one contradiction of
Scripture, Mr. Marshall presented the following as involving the
credit of the whole Scripture. (See Matt. xxvi. 34.) "Jesus said unto
him, [Peter,] Veirily I say unto thee, that this night before the cock
crow, thou Shalt deny me thrice." (See Mark xiv. 30.) "And Jesus
said unto him, [Peter,] Verily I say unto thee, that this day, even in
this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice."
Here the contradiction relied on consists in the contrast between once
and twice, referring to the crowing of the cock, to say nothing of the
entire member thrown into the sentence by Mark, viz.: "that this day."


Now, sir, each of these holy men give us, as the very words of Jesus,
a recital variant from one another in matter of fact; as one is different
from two, in meaning and effect, as well as in terms. Both are not
true — which is? When, sir, you have digested this — and you want
another, you shall have o.nk more; reserving to myself the right of
reply, within your given rules.

Mr. Campbell replied. Millennial Harbinger, 1831, page 371:

I gave you an invitation to select one of the many contradictions
of which you complained; and upon that one we should test the merits
of the whole. You have done so. You have made your selection, and
if you sustain this, we shall admit, without a trial, that you can sus-
tain others: if you can not, we must conclude, without trial also, that
you can not sustain any one whatever. This is your Goliah: if he be
slain your army is routed, and if he be triumphant we shall strike our
tents and retreat without farther ceremony.

•'A contradiction,'' as defined in my fifth letter to you, page 151,
and to which no exception has been taken, "is an irreconcilable con-
trariety of statement." An omission, or a mere variety of statement,
or a difference in expression, never can constitute a contradiction; for
ii that were the fact, all witnesses who do not use all the same words,
and in all the same places, are contradictory. Every falsehood is not
a contradiction, for then no single affirmative proposition could express
a falsehood. Nor is every verbal contradiction a falsehood, as before
demonstrated. But "especially, (you say,) a contradiction consists of
an affirmative on one side, and a negative expressed or implied on the
other." This, though vague enough, is sufficiently relevant to the case
before us, because we are speaking of a contradiction between two wit-
nesses. But now on your own definition, and in the case which you
have selected: Does Matthew affirm and Mark deny the predicate of
the subject. Of Peter, the subject of the proposition, it is predicated
by Matthew that he will, before the cock crow, thrice deny his Master.
Does Mark deny this of Peter? No: there is no negative expressed or
implied on the part of Mark. He does not say that Peter will not
deny his Master thrice, nor that he will not deny him thrice before
the cock crow once: for, mark it well, his affirming that he will thrice
deny his Master before the cock crow twice, does neither express nor
imply that he will not deny him thrice before the cock crow once!
Where now is your affirmative on one side and your negative on the
other? To say it shall be done before the cock crow tuice, does not
i.MPLY that it shall not be done before the cock crow once; and most
assuredly it does not express that it shall not be done until the cock
crow twice.

To give it even the semblance of a contradiction it ought to have
read in Matthew, "Before the cock crow once you will thrice deny


me;" and in Mark, "Before, but not until the cock crow twice, you
shall thrice deny me." Even then, however, I could demonstrate from
other circumstances that there might not be a real contradiction,
though there would be an apparent one; but as it now reads, and upon
your own definition, there is not the semblance of a contradiction.

But in the event of failing to establish a contradiction here (which
I think you must now see is impossible,) then you will say, "Whether
does Matthew or Mark give the precise words which Jesus spoke?" To
this I answer. Not one of the historians pretend to do this. Many
of his maxims they quote, and a few of his sayings they publish, but
not with a scrupulous or rather a superstitious regard to every letter,
pause, and point; but with the most faithful regard to scope and mean-
ing. This matter is adverted to and descanted upon in my "Hints
to Readers" at the end of the Four Testimonies in the New Version.
You will see, first edition, page 214, this very point enforced and

But let me more fully illustrate the passage, and show how per-
fectly groundless is your alleged contradiction. And first, please to
notice that in all writers, and as frequently in the New Testament
writers as in any others, there are many general propositions spoken
with a limitation not expressed. Of this sort are the following in the
New Testament, common version, (John v. 31,) "If I bear witness of
myself, my witness is not true." The Pharisees retorted these words,
(John xii. 13,) "Thou bearest witness of thyself, thy witness is not
true." Jesus replies, "Though I bear witness of myself, my witness is
true." Again Jesus says, "The testimony of two men is true." These all
are general propositions spoken without limitation, and yet every one
of them is limited in their application, which is their specified sense:
for the sense of words is not always ascertained from general laivs,
but from specific applications. The word "true"" means worthy of
regard; for there is no reason can be assigned why the testimony of
two men must be true: but the testimony of two was always, accord-
ing to the Jewish law, worthy of regard. Now the^re are some cases in
which a person's testimony concerning himself is worthy of regard,
and there are other cases in which it is not worthy of regard.

Another example, still more in point, is found in John xiii. 33. To
the disciples Jesus says, "Whither I go ye can not come." This is
very general, and taken absolutely would teach the disciples that they
could not follow Jesus. But upon a question proposed a few verses
afterwards by Peter, it is limited by the word "now" (v. 36). "Thou
canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow me afterwards." So
that a general proposition which said, "Whither I go ye can not
come," when limited by the circumstances, and explained upon a ques-
tion made, is equivalent to "whither I go you can not come now."


Such is the case before us. "Before the cock crow" is a general and
unlimited expression; but when considered with a reference to cir-
cumstances, it is equivalent to "before the cock crow the second time,"
or "before the cock crow twice."

I am now fairly brought to the explanation of this whole matter,
which, had you examined more closely, you would never have selected
as a contradiction, and still less as the most palpable one in the book!
The facts in the case are these: The Jews reckoned the day from
sun-setting to sun-setting. The night of each day preceded the light.
Hence in Greek they called the day Nuchthemeron. They divided the
night into four watches, of three hours each. The first was from sun-
setting till 9 o'clock, called Ilespcra. The second, from 9 till 12, called
Opsia. The third, from 12 till 3, they called Praia; and the fourth,
from 3 till 6, or sun-rise, they called Orthros. The third watch, called
Froia, began and ended by the crowing of the cock. In Judea the day
and night being equal all the year, or nearly so, the cock very regularly
crowed at 12 and at 3 in the morning. Hence that watch which began
at the first crowing and ended at the second crowing was called the
cockcrowing watch, or alektrophonia. (See Mark xiii. 35.) Hence
"before the cock crow," in allusion to the watches of that night, is
equivalent to "before the cock crow twice." And the fact proves the
prediction and explanation; for before the end of the watch called
"the crowing of the cock," Peter had thrice denied his Master.

Now, sir, I hope you will be so candid as to admit that neither the
words themselves. Independent of any allusion to Jewish history, nor
the facts in the case, as now explained, according to the reference,
Mark xiii. 35, will afford the least semblance of a contradiction. Let
us now have a candid and honorable renunciation of your quibbles and
imaginary contradictions : for if it has thus fared with your GoUah of
Gath, where would your Lilliputian army appear!

Concerning reason and revelating, Mr. Campbell wrote in Millen-
nial Harbinger, 1832, page 97:

Querist. — Are there not some truths in revelation, as commonly
understood, contrary to thy decisions?

Reason. — No truth in any science is contrary to my decisions. I
decide only what is truth. But many notions are called truths ot reve-
lation which are not found in revelation, but in the bewildered and
confused imaginations of men. Some there are who affirm (and. no
doubt, think) that whatever is contrary to their ignorance and preju-
dice, is contrary to reason; for they imagine that their own projiidices
and ignorance are identical with reason. But I own nothing to be
truth which is not correspondent with what exists. My definition of
historic truth is the agreement of the narrative with the fact; of logical
truth, the agreement of the terms of the proposition with one another,


or the conclusion with the premises; and of religious truth, whatever
God, or some one deputed by him, has spoken. This is the truth con-
cerning which you are interrogating me. Everything that God has
spoken is true: for "God is truth."

Querist. — But if God should be reputed as having said anything
contrary to your ascertained decisions on subjects within your scrutiny
and jurisdiction, what then? Dost thou affirm it?

Reason. — What God has spoken, and what he is reputed to have
spoken, are very different things. I hold it that God has spoken only
truth. But he is represented to have spoken very contrary proposi-
tions, according to the testimonies of prejudice and imagination. But
let me tell thee once for all, there is nothing contrary to me that is not
contrary to truth; and my province is simply to decide all pretensions
to truth.

To me it appears consistent with the principles developed in the
constitution of the mundane system, that God has spoken to man con-
cerning his origin and destiny. And certainly the positive evidence
inscribed upon, transfused through, and collateral with, these oracles
of God, is as clearly ascertained as that, if there be any design apparent
in human action, there is design apparent in the creation and preservar
tion of the universe.

I have in millions of instances, during four thousand years, decided
that God has spoken repeatedly to man; and in millions of instances,
during the last two thousand years, I have affirmed "that God, who
in sundry times and in diverse parcels, spoke in time past to the
fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by his
Son." Such is my oracle, because I have decided from many processes
of examination and cross-examination of the witnesses for God, with
as much assurance as I have ever affirmed any historical fact.

Querist. — For the sake of argument, then, let it be conceded that
your decision is accordant to truth. Then I ask. Admitting that God
has spoken to man, and that the Bible contains these communications;
but amongst the various copies and versions, ancient and modern,
there are various readings and interpolations: how, then, do you dis-
criminate the genuine from the spurious readings? What are thy

Reason. — The narrative of facts is the same in all manuscripts,
copies, and versions, in every substantial particular. The facts are
not only the basis, but the matter of Christian faith; and it is only
in the verbal expositions of the meanings and tendencies of these
facts, that interpolations or various readings of any importance occur.
Comparisons of the more ancient manuscripts and translations, and
of the quotations found in the writings of the primitive authors,
together with the scope, style, and manner of the inspired penmen,


make it not difficult, when proper pains are taken, to ascertain the gen-
uine readings, and to detect the supplements or mistakes ot tran-

Querist.— But does not the detection of some supplements, interpola-
tions, or erroneous readings, constitute some objection against the
authenticity of the religion founded upon these writings?

Reason.— Ko: no more than the detection of the works of man upon
the mountains and plains, upon the lakes, rivers, and seas, weakens
the argument that the earth is the Lord's and that he is the maker of
it. As soon would I reject all proof of the divine benevorence because
there are found vegetable poisons in our gardens, and mineral poisons
among our medicines which God has himself created, as reject a com-
munication from him because he has permitted man to transcribe it,
and left it possible for him to pervert it; affording, however, sufficient
criteria to detect every foreign ingredient, as he has to discriminate
the vegetables and minerals favorable to life, or to contradistinguish
what are called the works of nature from the works of art.

Querist.— Tell me, then, what use dost thou make of revelation?
Reason.— AU its communications are to me as the axiomata of
Euclid to the mathematician. I use them all as fwst and fixed prin-
ciples never to be called in question, as rules and measures by which
all moral principles are to he tried. A ''thus says the Lord" settles
all debate, and is absolutely authoritative in every question concern-
ing the spiritual and eternal world. So soon as I ascertain the mean-
ing of the command, promise, or proclamation. I pause not to inquire
whether it ought to be regarded, received, or obeyed, but proceed forth-
with, according to its tenor and import, to act in accordance with it

Querist.— But is not this implicit and unconditional surrender of
thyself derogatory to thy true dignity, office, and honor?

Keason.— Nothing I conceive so honorable, so dignifying, so con-
genial to my office, as this implicit acquiescence in all the annuncia-
tions of the Great Father of reason and truth. Nothing so certain,
so durable, so unchangeable as the word of the Lord. There is no
error in it. There can be no error in the most strict and exact con
formity to it; for it shall stand forever. Truth, like its author, is
eternal and unchangeable. And when it is ascertained that God has
spoken, to bow with reverence and without reserve is my duty and
my honor.

Querist.— But is it not alleged by thee that God has always spoken
in accordance with thee— that revelation and reason perfectly har-

Reason.— 'When men speak of revelation and reason according and
harmonizing, thoy can not mean a faculty of the human soul: for
what sense is there in affirming that natural light and the eye bar-


monize and accord? To say that light and the eye agree, is to say
as much as that revelation and reason agree. Reason is that eye of
the soul to which the light of revelation is addressed. But the bab-
bling world, perhaps, mean that revelation and experience agree; which
is true just as far as we have experience; but as revelation immeasur-
ably transcends our experience, it can only be affirmed that so far as
human experience reaches, it accords with revelation; and hence it
is fairly to be presumed that experience will continue to agree
or correspond with revelation until the terms "revelation" and
"experience" will be terms of equal value, and cover the same area
of thought.

The improper use of terms, the confounding of words and phrases,
is an error as common among skeptics as among Christians, and it
is equally pernicious to them as to any other class of reasoners. The
phrases, ''ahove reason," ''contrary to reason," ''accordant to reason,"
when fairly tested, mean no more among those who think, than above
or beyond my experience, contrary to my experience, or accordant to
my experience. He, therefore, who says he believes nothing above his
reason, nor contrary to his reason, simply says he believes nothing
above his experience or contrary to it; and therefore revelation to
him is wholly incredible. A Christian may believe the Alcoran or
the writings of Confucius or Zoroaster just as far as many persons
believe the Old and New Testament: that is, as far as their experi-
ence goes.

I am wholly misapprehended by the great multitude who pretend
to adore me. They are burning incense to a phantom which I abhor,
and insulting me to my face by ascriptions of praise, which caricature
rather than characterize me. Their philosophy concerning my being
and perfections, when stripped of its flimsy veil, represents me as a
deity of subcreative power, an independent dependant, originating and
originated, creating and created. My worshippers, were they to under-
stand themselves, would be astounded at the grossness of their idol-
atry and the stupidity of their devotion. One says, "I believe nothing
above thee, Reason!" Another says, "I believe nothing contrary to
thee, Reason!" In derision I have replied, "I see nothing above
thee, O Eye!" "I see nothing contrary to thee, Eye!" Yet they feel
not the severity of my reproof, but repeat their unmeaning adorations.
A votary of mine, carrying a candle in a dark night, once exclaimed,
"I desire no guide but thee, O Reason!" to whom I whispered, "I want
no guide but thee, Eye!" and immediately blew out his candle. He
stood confounded; but perceived not the meaning of my remonstrance,
and forthwith cried out for a guide. No ear heard him, for he had
declared himself independent of the ear; and, plunging into a ditch,
he perished!


Reproof, remonstrance, irony, and satire are in vain. This ignoble
crowd still throng my courts, and are worshipping they know not
what. I renounce them; they belong not to ray school — they are not
admitted into my secrets. I claim not divine honors. Whatever knowl-
edge I have acquired I have gleaned from two volumes. I read but
two — the volume of Nature and the volume of Revelation: the former
for the present, the latter for the future destiny of man. I have not
an original idea: all that I know of the material system is derived
from the volume of Nature; and all that I know of the spiritual is
derived from the volume of Revelation. With these lamps I can direct
all who submit to my guidance; but without them I can not move one
step, much less guide them in the path of life. I carry two lamps —
one in each hand: these guide my true disciples; but the lamps which
guide them illuminate my path and show me where to place my foot.

Querist. — Thou now speakest without a parable — and while thou
ciaimest for thyself no higher honors than these, thou wilt ever find
me thy advocate when thou demandest my aid. Editob.


There are four grand arguments for the truth of the Bible. 1. The
miracles it records. (These are easily proved to have been recorded
and published at the time they profess to have been, and not having
been disputed for several hundred years after, can not be doubted.)
2. The prophecies it contains. (See those in the Old Testament, held
by the Jews then and to this day, who disbelieve in the Messiah Jesus
Christ and the New Testament, but which prophecies any child may
see fulfilled in Christ and in the events of his time.) The celebrated
infidel Rochester was converted by reading the fifty-third chapter of
Isaiah. 3. The goodness of the doctrine, (the greatest infidels acknowl-
edge it and no one can deny it.) 4. The moral character of the penmen.

The miracles flow from divine power; the prophecies, from divine
understanding; the excellence of the doctrine, from divine goodness;
and the moral purity of the penmen, from divine purity.

Thus Christianity is built upon these four Immutable pillars — the
power, the understanding, the goodness, and the purity of God.

The Bible must be the invention of good men or angels; of had
men or devils; or of God.

It could not be the invention of good men or angels, for they neither
would nor could make a book and tell lies all the time they were
writing it, saying, "Thus saith the Lord," when it was their own

It could not be the invention of had men or devils, for they would
not make a book which commands all duty, forbids all sin, and con-
demns their own souls to all eternity. Slmpson, 1832, page 311.


To Chas. Cassedy, Mr. Campbell writes, 1833, page 193, as

Dear Sir: — You have as much at stake as any man living in decid-
ing whether Jesus of Nazareth was an impostor, or the Son of God
and the only Saviour of the woiid. One, or the other, he certainly
was. And, metliinks, you will say, it would be rather miraculous if
the author of the purest and most sublime system of morality and
virtue which the world ever saw, should have been the most infamous
impostor that ever appeared in human form. And this he was, if it
be not true that "whosoever believes in him and is baptized, shall be
saved," and whosoever disbelieves and rejects his salvation will be
condemned. This was his last testimony, and this his last charge to
the apostles. For alleging this he suffered death. And if the apostles
are not the most impudent liars, after his resurrection and before his
ascension, he commanded it to oe promulged to you, and me, and al'

Language has no meaning, and the apostles deserved to be put to
death, and to be execrated by all the sons of men, if it be not true
that whosoever despises and rejects the mediation of Jesus will be
punished with an everlasting destruction from the presence of the
Lord. Now, Sir, this being the fair and unvarnished state of the ques-
tion, I put it to your intelligence and your candor, whether or not, it
be not most worthy of every rational man to decide by all the lights of
the volumes of creation, providence, and redemption, whether a sinner
— whether poor, weak, and short-sighted man, ought or ought not, to
commit himself into the hands of Jesus of NazaretTi: to submit himself
to his philosophy, logic, morality, and religion, rather than to his
own wayward fancy, or the imagination of any man that ever appeared
on earth.

This, my dear Sir, is the single question, on the decision of which,
all depends. To decide this question in the affirmative makes the Chris-
tian: to decide it in the negative, leaves us in this world without God,
and without hope. And is that man rational or philosophic who can
devote all his powers to the questions, what shall I eat, and drink,
and with what shall I be clothed; who can devote all his powers to the
things of time and sense, while his future and eternal destiny is
deferred to some more convenient season?

We so constituted and so circumstanced, that our individual and
personal happiness must be the paramount consideration. Now, was
it not kind in our Creator to place us under an insuperable necessity
of willing and seeking our own happiness? We may err in imagin-
ing the ways and means, but we are infallible in the wish to be happy.
A man must unmake himself before he can will his own ruin. But if
man be a rational or a free agent, he must have it in his power to


ruiu Iiimsell' — or he could not have it in his power to be virtuous, pious,
and happy. Tliis, reason asserts; and we see it accords with our
observation and experience, as well as with the oracles of the Great

Judge you then, is it wise, is it prudent to balance, or to outweigh,
the united testimony of apostles and prophets, of saints and martyrs,
of the wisest and the best, for four thousand years, by our own artifi-
cial and imaginative difficulties? Shall we place in the one scale, the

Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 42 of 70)