Alexander Campbell.

A discussion of the doctrines of the endless misery and universal salvation : in an epistolary correspondence online

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always condemned ! No need of this, my good Sir, be-
cause I neither believe, teach, nor affirm any such propo-
sition. What then ] In accordance with all the rules of
interpretation I must regard the passage afi meaning that
he who hears the Gospel, and rejects or disbelievs it when
heard, is not saved, but condemned ; and so continuing, or,
if you please, so dying, shall always b^ unsaved, or con-
demned ; and he who, when hearing the Gospel, believes
and obeys it, is saved from sin ; and so continuing, and so
dying, shall be saved from all its consequences^

But from this you dissent, and interpret as follows :«—
He that hears and believes the Gospel, and is baptised, is
saved ; and so continuing, will always be savei— living,
dying, and forever. But ne that on hearing it, disbelieves
it, and rejects it, and so continues all his life, is now con-
demnedf or damned ; but shall hereafter be eternally saved.
This is your interpretation, if you dissent from mine. It
is not now material what meaning you annex to the words
saved and condemned. They 'are opposites. You will,
however, have thp believer and the unbeliever during this



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MR. CAMi»BfeLL TO Mit. MdNl?(K)]VrERY. ^ 2?J

life in opposite states, but in the same state hereafter ! —
presuming, no doubt, that during death, or after death,
unbelievers will all become believers and obedient good
Christians I ! This being out of the Record, is to me a
new revelation, which, because of a defect in the evidence,
I can not believe.. I would not choose Pharaoh, Nero,
Caligula, Heliogabulus, Judas, Voltaire, and such spirits
for my companions forever ; unless in some unknown
purgatory in another world they should hear some Gospel
and be saved from those hateful characters in which tnfey
passed over Jordan. It is judicious and kind on your part
to promise us their ftiture conversion.

But it appears to you that ** this passage has ho reference
beyond the apostolic age ; for proof of Which the context
is confidently cited." Ko ; nor has it refeffiBc^t^ even to
the apostolic age, if your mode of reasoning Be correct.
What is your syllogism ? " These signs shall follow them
that believe ; in my name they shall cast out devils, they
shall' speak vrith new tongues," etc. But after the apos-
tolic age this promise failed ; therefore, this promise was
only for the apostolic age. But, from these premises, the
following conclusion is more natural and more logical ;
therejhre^ there were no believers after the apostolic age.

But 1 have said you prove that this passage has no re-
ference to the apostolic age ; for your syllogism is, " These
signs shall follow them that believe : in my name they shall
work miracles," etc. But these signs did not in the apos-
tolic age accompany believers ; for multitudes believed that
could work no miracles; therefore, this promise respected
not the apostolic age.

Now, without either thinking or intending it, perhaps,
you have in this mode o^ reasoning, hit upon the true
meaning of the passage : for it wa», in truth, uttered with
reference to no age, but in reference to certain apostolic
persoTis, who were then, as you say, dmihtmg ; for some of
the commissioners doubted and " were «!ow to believe all
that the prophets had spoken ;" and, therefore, after giving
them a commission to all the w<M*ld, he very graciously ad*
ded, " These signs shaU.folk)w them [of the persons addres-
sed] who shall believe." In demonstration that such is the
meaning of the passage, I appeal to the next verses ; for,
says John Mark, ** They went out and proclaimed the
tidings every where, the Lord ca-^)per(Uing with them and
cof^rmmg their dsctrime t^ miracles accompanying^"



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34 PRBLIMINART lATTEIUh

Thus we dispose of the second great difficulty in yottf
way, and this leaves the promise of salvadon and con-
demnation on the same conditions — as perpetual as time,
and 88 extensive as all the nations wid generations of men. ^

The third point is an exception taken to the correctness
of-my remark, viz., that " if the words rendered everlastings
eternal, applied to the destruction of the wicked, mean not
destruction without end, then have we no words in human
speech that certify us that God, angels, or saints shall have
diuation without end."

You proceed to adduce other terms that " prove uncea-
sing duration;** such ^s incorruptible applied to God, Rom.
i : 23 ; CTidless life., Heb. vii : 16 j this corruptible must put
on incorrwpiAxm, and this martal must put on immortcdity ;
1 Cor. XV : 53. You ask, " Are these words applied to the
punishment of the wicked 1" I answer. No, nor to the
happiness of the righteous ; nor to simple duration at all.
Two of them are substantives, and therefore can not be
used as epithets — namely, immortality and incorruption ;
and the other three apply to beings or to material substan-
ces, in reference to simple indissolubility; not one of them
could properly b^ applied to a simple state of being, or to
happiness or misery: for although the word "«wZZe**"
might seem to be an exception, when the original word is
considered, it is not. It only figuratively signifies endless,
as any one may see who will examine either the etymo-
logical import or the common use of akatdlutos in Greek
writers. It literally signifies indissoluble, incapable of dis-
solution. Hence it figuratively may be rendered endless,
as it is once only in the New Testament.

But you append to this exception a remark that deserves
notice — ^viz., if everlasting means duration without end, in
its primitive signification, you ask, ** When it is applied to
the punishment of the wicked, is it not in those instances
where it is taken in a part of its signification : for you
admit that it is sometimes so taken in the Scriptures ?"
For two reasons we muiM: answer, No. 1st. Because it is
taj?:e^ in a part of its signification; or, rather, it is used
figuratively only when applied to subjects in which there
is a physical impossibility that it can be taken in its fair
and literal import. But more especially as Montesquieu
says somewhere, " In all laws, enactrtients, and statutes^
words are taken and to be interpreted m their most com-
mon and literal aceepUtion»" I quote from memory ; but»



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ML CAIIPBBLL TO MR. MONTGOMERY. 25

m; all events, this is an oracle of reason : (or if words are
used figuratively or taken only^ in a part of their meaning
in charters, grants, statutes, and laws, there is an end to
all certainty in human affairs. Orators and poets for
figurative language; but lawgivers and the founders of
states and institutions for perspicuity, precision, and the
literal and current acceptation of words.

But as^ I study brevity, I hasten to your fortification in
liie i^tnesses^oi the alleged ambiguity of the words ever"
lastingf eternal. To this you again and again recur as the
Gibraltar of universal salvation, or rather of your scrupu-
losity touchitig the ultimate destiny of ungodly men.

You very pertinently, and rationally, and logically assert
that " adjectives sometimes (and especially some adjectives
sotnetimes) take their peculiar meaning from the subjects
to which they ate applied." This, I agree with you, is
strictly true of the words utidet* consideration. This single
fact sufficiently explains all those applications of the word
everlasting iti a liihited sense: because the subjects to
which it is applied physically preclude the proper sense of
the word. It is therefore used figuratively (for I do con-
tend that this is what is grammatically and rhetorically
called the figurative meaning of the word) when applied
to all things that necessarily must have an end. It is never
used figuratively when the subject to which it is applied
does not necessarily requite a litnited sense ; or, to express
the same idea in dthei* terms, it is only usea figuratively,
or in a part of its signification, when the suhstaavtive to
which it belongs absolutely demands it. Now all this only
puts it upon you to show, that, in reference to things be-
yond this life, there is such a necessity existing as to pre-
clude the possibility of its being used literally, or in its
proper signification. And this, give me leave to say, with
all emphasis, Uo living man can do. I feel najrself logically,
grammatically, as well as theologicafiy woA religiously,
liompelled to affirm this proposition — that in reference to
things mundane, or to things of this life, the words
everlastings eternal, and thidr representativeSp in all lan-
guages, are used figurawfey — ^from the aforesaid law, or
necessity of liatnguage, which you affirm — ^viz., that ad-
jectives must sometimes take the extent of their meaning
from the substantives to which they belong : also, that in
reference to thin^ not mundane or belonging tothislifi^-^
(that necessity ot yours and mine being removed — ) that

3

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26 PRELnflNABT LBTrBBS*

is, tn thmgibeiftrndtme^ tbftse words must be usedliterallyV
or in their full and proper meaning, if such meaning they
have. From all of whioh &cts and reasonings it would
follow, that if the words Vernal, everlasting, ever mean what
they comprehend, it must be in reference to the future
state of men and angels, good and bad, or to spirits
diat live beyond the landmarks of time : for as they can
not be taken in their fuU and literal import in reference to
earthly things ; if they are ever so taken, it must be in
their application to things beyond the confines of time and
sense.

To this you may make (logically, perJiaps) one, and
only one' ^xceptioit, in your own relief; and that is, that
these words have no literal and p^roper meaning. But
then this will undeify dd£ Creator, arid annihilate the uni-
verse ! I trirst, then, that it is by a happy necessity you are
constrained to' adtiiiC, that, in reference to lifie arid Jeath,
happiness and misery, as well as in reference to God and
all spiritual existences, these words necessayily nmst have
their literdl and proper signification.

To thi^ your oHvn good sense had almost constrained you
in the close of ^oiir e'pAstle : for your last effort is to assume
that there is a physical or morM impossibility in the way
' of its applying to future pdnishment ; because, indeed I
all punishmeiit is mere chastisemterit, and that all chastise-
riient will liecessafily eventuate in reformation. So that
when the Judge shall say, "Depart, ye cursed, into ever-
lasting punishment prepjired for the devil and his angels" —
it riieans, Depart, ye blessed, into everlasting chastisement
prepared to bring the devil and his angels and all wicked
meri to true repentance and to everlasting glory. Pardon
me, my ^ood Sir, if, while I have the canons of logic and
philosophy in my ey6, I must regard this as somewhat
visionary arid romaritic — too romantic for graved considera-
tion and logical reply. . ,

I would not have alluded to this pleasing dreaari of ever-
lasting chastisement, had it not been to shove yourself,
especially, and all my readers, tbat unless you could find
some pavilion of this sort to shield you from the conclii-
^on to which I am always constrained to eonie on this
sijfljjCct, you can not possibly escape from the logical and
Scriptiirii conclusion of this whole matter — ^viz., that by a
necessity ds iiisuperable as death, the words evertastmg,
ttemal, whbri applidd tb substantives, beyond the confines



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.of time and geiise, miiBt be taken in tbeir fufi, proper, and
imfigUratire import ; that it is only wben applied to aub-
atantives witbin the coasts of time, they are, or ought to
be, taken in a limited and figorattve sense. Beyond theee
diores, tliey are to be interpreted in their unfigurative and

,i;iM;estrieted signification. In reading the works of

'liiomas Paine, peihaps his " Age of Reason/' (it should
have been his J^^e ^FfiUy^ I was amused with a sort of
left hand (;om^iment he bestowed on the Society of
Fricsx^ds, sometimes called Quakers. " My father," says
^, (I quote from memory,) ",was a Quaker ; and it must
be contessed that of all the sects of Christians, that which
makes the nighest approach to true deism, is that of the
Quaker." I would propose to amend the bill by substitu-
ting the word Universalist in place of tte word Quaker.

Take away from the New Covenant, qr Christian Insti-
tution, the views which it gives of am, its nature, and cop-
sequences, and the punishment without mercy which
awaits those who now despise , and trampje upon the blood
of the everlastifig mstiiaiidn J «andmake our views of God's
perfections derived from the works of nature^ the inter-
preter of his word, and a religion so compqundeji and so
manufactured is worth nothing more than the pure deism
of the Jew or of the philosopher. It is not Christianity.
Hence the easy and frequent, nay, almost general transition
of Univ'ersalists into the ranks of infidelity. Be on your
guard, my dear Sir, against this delusion ; and pardon my
freedom if I have mistaken th^ strong leanines in your
letter to that side of the question. All of which is most
respectfully submitted. A, CAMPBELL.

Jawwar^ 26, 1836.



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28 |>BEIJ[MINART LSTTER««



MR. SKINNER TO MR. CAMPBELL. t

Dear Sir — ^I have recently i^ceived fix)m Rev. G. W.
Montgomery, of Auburn, N. Y., two numbers of |he Mil-
lennial Harbinger, containing the commencement ai^
continuance of a discussion, first between Mr. Spencer and
yourself, and then between Mr. Montgomery and yourself,
on the meaning of the yrords geketma, hades, aion^.aionum^
olenif akcUaltUoSy and other words in the original of the
Scriptures, together with certain texts, supposed to have
an important bearing in deciding die question whether the

Sunishment of the wicked will be limited or endless in
uration. Accompanying these numbers of the Harbinger
is a letter from Mr. Montgomery, in which he says he
transfers the controversy on the part, of the Universal-
ists into my hands for continuance, this being a mutual
agreement between yourself and hin^, at an interview had
in person ii]i June last, for reasons which I need not har^
jttate, and perfectly imderstood by both of you, he having
made choice of me as his substitute. He also informs xAe
that whenever the discussion was resumed, what has
already been published was to be copied by, and all the
future discussion published in, some Universalist paper,
as well as the Harbinger. I purpose^ Sir, to republish
what has already appeared in Uie Harbinger, in the
Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate, published in
this city, of .which I am one oi the Editors, and ot which
there are circulated weekly about 7000 copies. And after
die discussion is renewed to ii»ent the wht^le of it on both
aides; expecting you /Win do the same indie Hatrbjogjer.
The particular object I have in writing you this letter,
is, to ascertain when it will best suit your convenience to
resume the diseussioii. As I hav# h^ard that you either
had engaged, or were about to do so, in a discussion wit^
a Catholic Bishop at Cincinnati — and not knowing at wh^ft
time that was to <cpiomencey or whether it wc^iU siM^ ¥^



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MR. QimBIt^ TO UR. C4MPBBLL. SQ

:to h$,ve both 4t»GiiMioii8 m progress at the same time, or
whether you would prefer finishing ours first or letting it
be till after the other was disposed of, I would therefore
consult your couTenience in i^egard to time. I suppose,
however, that ^o or. three controversies in prqg]:e)ss at the
san^e time, With fl^erent individuals of different denomi-
nations, is no uncommon, nor perhaps inconvenient thing
for you to get along with. I do not care ahout commenc-
ing the publication ip the columns of the ^Magazine and
Advocate, till sUch time.as tibat fi-om which it can be regu-
larly continued onward, without any very long interval till
fished. If you will be ready to resume tbe discussion
immediately, as I hope you may- — though it will take
several weeks to get the articles already published and my
reply to your last, before our readers, in readin^^s for you
to respond — ^I will without further delay commence, x opi
will oblige us by an exchange of papers, as we shall both
doubtless like to see what is said hy the other side during
the pending of the discussion.

Your early answer to this, either by letter or in the
pages of the Harbinger (if you send it to us) will greatly
4)bUge, Dear Sir, your. obedient servant,

D. SKINNER.

JItica, Nuvember 14, 1836.



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M nmuMncABTT lci'MH^



MR. CAMPBELl HO MR. SKINNER.

Deae Sir— Your fsrer of the I4th Inst, was received
par dur last mail, and I hasten ie reply. I am just now,
as yoti have learned, engaged in a very important discus-
ftiOil of the Roman Catholic claims and pretensions, nfhii^
will call me heiice te Cincinnati the first week of January
next, and will likely engross my whole attention to the
first of February following.

Under these circumstances it would be injudicious ^ .
divert my attention to another subject, and therefore 1
must postpone the discussion which you have proposed
till After that period.

Touching the propositions *o which you allude on the
part of Mr. Montgomery, I have to observe, that in addition
to your name^ he gave me those of Messrs. Balftmr and
Ballou in Boston, and some others. 1 did not stop in
Utica, owing to fatigue of much speaking. But while in
Boston I took occasion to intimate to Mr. Balfour (to whom
I had an introduction "while visiting the book stores for the
purpose of purchasing his books) that I thought the ques-
tion at issue between him and other Christians had laot
yet been fully or fairly discussed — that I had just read the
discussion between Mr. Thomas of Philadelphia, and Dr.
E. S. Ely, and was more fully convinced, that neither of
these gendemen met the exact question tfairly. Mr. ®8^
four observed Aat if I would write something on the sub-
ject, he would reply to it. i remarked that I would prefer
to have a viva voce discussion of the whole matter, and
then a publication, if necessary. He declined such a dis-
cussion, on the ground of his jiot being in favor of that
species of controversy ; and so (he matter ended.

Now, Sir, permit me to suggest to your consideraticte
whether it would not be better to have such a viva voce,
face to face discussion of the real subject at issue between
us, and let some stenograpTier give it to the world. Thi^



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i«roul3 giYe more eonviction* interest, and vahie to the
imatter.; anddtuv^ould, coining from a neutral party, or a
miere stenographer, have more infliience with the whole
cc»nmanity.

One chief treason additional prompting me to this
^course, is, your paper is weekly — -mine is moTtthly ; and we
-could not meet on equal footing, iunless jou were to sus-
pend hostilities for ^toree -weeks «t a time. Again, I may
add that I could not, with propriety and justice to my
engagements, give more than 12 jpages .octavo to the con-
troversy — ^that is, six pages, each, -per monQi.

However, I will do this rather than fall short of a dis-
cussion ; but if, upon reflection, you would agree to meet
ijie in Philadelphia or some central city, ne^it Spring, and
have the whole matter canvassed to a point, I should think
it more likely to be useful, and we should soon get throu^
mth the matter, and reach the end by a more certain, a
tmore .direct, and a more practical course.

I know that in these written, far-dfl^ long-gun discus-
sions, there is .much sailing and generally a long voyage
before we get to port. I have received so favorable an
impression of your candor, ability, and erudition in all
these matters, that '\ can the more freely communicate
with you on the ways and means. I shall now, vnth all
respect for your good sense and discretion, wait for an
answer from you as soon as convenient. One reason -of
my naming Philadelphia, in addition to its being about
^equidistant and abounding in good accommodations, many
Universalists living there, and having a large meeting-
house, I have to attend in that city some time next Spring,
in all probability (as you may learn from the accompanying
ti«in|ber of the Harbinger I send you) in a trial spending
^tween Dr. Sleigh and myself.

An early answer upon all these points^wiU be dmkfally
received by, dear Sir,

Your obedient servant, A. CAMPBELI4.

,Bethanj/i, V<i., Novm^ 29, 1895.



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38 ^tmum&^^Y jum^MW^



MR. SKINNER TO MR. CAMPBELL.

Dkar Sir — ^Your faTor of the 29th ult., in answer to
mine of the 14th, is just received, for which you have my
thanks. Your reasons for. delaying the contemplated
^discussion till February next, are sufficient .and satisfactory
to me.

I was aware that Mr. Montgomery had mentioned other
names of Universalist preachers to you besides mine ; but
was informed that, provided you did not succeed in starting
a discussion while at Boston, either oral or written, then the
alternative was that the written discussion already com-
menced should be continued between you and myself, in
yours and some Universalist paper.

You now suggest, as another alternative, the holding of
a viva voce discussion at Philadelphia, and employing a
stenographer to take it down for publication, jejc. JA.s one
reason for this preference jpu mention that, as.,pur paper
is weekly and yours monthly y we t could not meet on.e^ual
footing in a written discussion, unless I were tp suspend
hostilities for three weeks at a time. This, Sir, I should
expect to do, provided I occupied as much space in one
number of our paper as you did in one number of yours ;
but as one numher^of .yours is equal to three or four of
ours, you could in a particular emergency, occupy muoh
more room in one number than it would be possible for
me to do in one number of .ours ; so that I §houJd be^un*
der the necessity, did I occupy equal spctoe with ;you, of
dividing my art^icles, and filling two or more numbers of
ours, (i. «., what was jaot ^p^i^ssarily occupied with other
matter,) in reply to one number of your^; However, I
do not apprehend that in general one article and the rejoin-
der to it will occupy moi« ^than 12 pages of the Harbin-
ger. In some few instances it may, and then it could be
divided into two numbers, unless you could spare more
,room than that at a time ; and I should in such ca«e }i|if^
ito divide it.iotoj^till snuilter divioioiif*



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X sbould agree with Mr. Balfour m preferring a vnitten
io an oral discussion, inasmuch as tbe rormer is in my view
ihe fairest method of eliciting truth, and would probably
be tb0 freest from personalities, frpm passion, and from
rash, hasty, j^d iQConsidra^t^ remarks ; and would ceitainly
be most likely to obtain ih^ -tr^e import and meaning of
words in any critical verbal investigations. It is true that
each mode of discussion has its advantages and its disad?
vantages. But for the above reasons, I shall decide, as you
have left the alternative with me, in favor of the written
discussiofi ; and shall accordingly commence the publica-
tion of the articles in the Harbinger in the columns of
the Maga^ne and Advocate sometime in January, so thi^t
my reply to your last article will come out 8onp# whei;^
between the first and middle of February.

If, however, after we have carried on the written dis-
cussion to our hearts' content, or to our mutual satisfac-
tion, you are still desjrous of an Qjal discussion, I thinj^ I
e«Q safely guaranty that ;fou shall be gratified. I have no
doubt that Mr. Thomas of Philadelphia would gladly meet
you M public 4ebate. If he will not, I think I can fin4
one who will, and who would at least be as acceptable to
you and the public as myself. But if noi, I wiU myself
consent to meet you at any time and place where we caij
mutually make it convenient.

"y;Qtirs with all djae respect, D. ^KINNEftr

P. S. After the publication of the discussion is com-
menced, I vnll, in order to facilitate its progress and prer
yent any unnec^S8ary delay, send you the copy of my ar-
ticles in proof before the issuing of the paper, and wish
you Xq send ine yours in like m^nnej. J). .S.

Utica, Decker 23, J836,



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—a



9i ^KBeLeQICAL Bf8C98Si<My>



THEOLOGICAL DISCUSSJOPT,



JVfR, SKINNER TO MR. CAMPBELti-
LETTER I.

Utica, February 10, 1837.

Dear Sir — This controversy on the part of the Umver-



Online LibraryAlexander CampbellA discussion of the doctrines of the endless misery and universal salvation : in an epistolary correspondence → online text (page 3 of 42)