Editor Fanning on Dr. Thomas and His Reply
An interesting incident occurred about this time, which was the visit to Dr. Thomas of Mr. Fanning, editor of the Christian Review (Campbellite paper), and that gentleman’s remarks on the visit in his paper, together with the Doctor’s reply. Mr. Fanning’s report was as follows: -
“Friday, the 24th, I travelled nearly fifty miles to Louisville, and spent the night with brother James Trabue, merchant of that city. Saturday, the 15th, I spent the day in visiting the city, renewing acquaintances with old friends and forming new ones. Among the rest, I became acquainted with Dr. John Thomas, who is at present publishing the Herald of the Future Age, in Louisville. As Dr. Thomas has been the cause of some difficulty amongst the disciples of Christ, both east and west, I hope a few reflections on his course, and the course of others towards him, will not be considered derogatory to the objects of a religious journal. I found the Doctor a pleasant gentleman of about forty-five years of age, much devoted to the study of the Bible, and one who thinks very intently on all subjects which engage his attention.”
“My own opinion is, Dr. John Thomas wishes to do right, but he labours under considerable embarrassments. Although he is an intelligent man, he is certainly very speculative—is an abstractionist in the fullest sense—is devoted to his friends, but has no mercy to such as he esteems his enemies. I shall not pretend to enter into the merits or demerits of the Doctor’s religious career. Suffice it to say, he may be an injured man, and he has in turn injured, in my judgment, every one who has come under his influence. His position in reference to the necessity of persons understanding the nature of baptism to enjoy its benefits, IMMORTALITY being a subject of promise in the New Testament, and the anti-christian character of sectarianism, may doubtless be sustained by the Bible. Still, on all these subjects his language is generally too strong, or rather of a character to embitter those who love it more than pious instruction. His notion of the non-resurrection of infants, idiots, and pagans, and annihilation of the wicked are certainly subversive of all the benevolence of God, and contrary to the Scriptures of truth; yet he admits these things constitute no part of the Gospel of Christ; I regret, with this admission, the Doctor persists in such unprofitable speculations.”
“From the Doctor’s peculiar organization and temperament, and the unmerciful opposition which some of his views have met, he has become emphatically a man of war, and always uses dangerous weapons. In the heat of conflict, he not unfrequently knocks out the eyes and commits other damages on his best friends. Hence the idea that ‘his hand is against every man,’ and every man’s hand is against him. The evils resulting from his course have not been so much from what he has pleaded as from the STYLE of his teaching. His admirers generally possess the same spirit as the Doctor. While I blame the Doctor, I can but love him, and regret that his organization and the circumstances which have governed him have been such as to render his best efforts worse than useless in the cause of Christ. I separated from them with the conviction that if he could forget Alexander Campbell, would quit studying and writing upon his speculations, and could be thrown into pious society, where he would be told plainly his errors, by genuine friends, he might become a good useful man.”
Dr. Thomas replied to Mr. Fanning in a long letter, which dealt with his report point by point. It is an excellent example of Dr. Thomas’s ability to deal with a critic less ill-disposed than many. It combines courtesy and raillery in such a way that, while the sting is taken out of it, every point was likely to go home to the recipient.
He first tilted at Mr. Fanning’s references to him as “Dr. Thomas” while calling others “brother,” those so addressed including other medical men. He continued: -
“Now, don’t let this ‘knock your eyes out’ (I quote your own phrase); but the truth is I every now and then meet with individuals in private who call me ‘brother,’ who when they speak or write of me in the hearing and seeing of ‘brother Campbell, brother Challen, brother Hall, brother this and brother that,’ only know me as one of the profession of medicine in general. Is this honest in the sight of men? If their conviction is that I am ‘an alien from the commonwealth of Israel,’ an unpardoned sinner, and therefore not of the ‘One Body,’ then let them be honest and say so. They will not offend me; but let them I pray cease to act two parts towards me: the one when no eye sees us but God’s; the other, when to fraternise with me might jeopardise their popularity with A., B., and C.!”
“I perceive that in the Review, you have devoted nearly a page to ‘Dr. John Thomas’; in the exordium of which you say, ‘I hope a few reflections on his course, and on the course of others towards him, will not be considered derogatory to the objects of a religious journal.’ Well, I suppose your readers won’t object to these upon that score; for I presume my course and that of my opponents have, at least, as much to do with ‘the objects of a religious journal,’ as the ‘Mammoth Cave,’ ‘compact limestone,’ ‘gypsum,’ and ‘eyeless fish,’ of which you write on page 193. For my own part, I have no objection, provided you prove yourself an exception to Reform Editors of my acquaintance, who ‘knock out the eyes, and commit other damages’ upon the brethren, as concerns their estimate of my ‘course and character,’ and refuse to allow me or my friends (whose ‘eyes’ have not been ‘knocked out’) to prescribe for their relief, as becomes practitioners of the healing art. In a word, my good brother, I expect you to give insertion to this letter in your Review, as an antidote to the fatal ‘love’ you have therein revealed towards the ‘pleasant gentleman’ you formed an acquaintance with in this ‘fashionable and luxurious city’.”
“You say, ‘I found the Doctor a pleasant gentleman of about forty-five years of age, much devoted to the study of the Bible, &c.’ First you are mistaken as to my age. My looks may have deceived you, I am not forty; but let that pass. You are right as to my devotion to the study of the Scriptures. I believe you generally found me so engaged. The things they reveal are my study day and night. I study them by the midnight oil that I may discover the ‘wondrous things in God’s law,’ that I may show them forth to the faithful, who desire to know all the Scriptures teach concerning ‘Christ in us the hope of glory,’ and ‘the one hope of our calling.’ These things ‘engage my attention,’ and, as the world would say, too much for my own interest; for, you know, I am not a salaried religionist. You say, I think ‘very intensely’ on these things: that your ‘opinion is, Dr. Thomas wishes to do right,’ and that he is ‘an intellectual man’.”
“Now permit to ask, if this be true, do you not think that intense study of the Bible, by an intellectual man who wishes to do right, would be very apt to develop things from that book which would appear ‘new’ and ‘speculative’ to a generation immersed in the world, whose intense thoughts are concentrated upon the means of accumulating wealth for many years? The result of my application is that I have come to conclusions, which you admit ‘MAY, DOUBTLESS BE SUSTAINED BY THE BIBLE.’ These are: the necessity of persons understanding the gospel before immersion can be any benefit to them; that ‘immortality and life’ being matters of promise in the New Testament, to be bestowed at the resurrection, they constitute no part of the animal man; and that sectarianism is anti-christian and, therefore, cannot produce Christians. If these things, among others, be sustainable by the Bible, they are true; and, by this admission, you tread upon the position I hold in opposition to Mr. Campbell, who rejects them as ‘speculative and untaught’ in the Bible. But, I no sooner think I have a cooperator in you, than you suddenly retreat behind a ‘still’ (no double entendre here) ‘his language is generally too strong.’ But, if the things be true, can language be too forcible to express the truth? If we would soften the truth, we must, doubtless, select the softest words, and construct our sentences with the least possible precision. We shall thus preserve our character for sweetness and piety; for truth is bitter to the errorist when unmistakably expressed.”
“You say, my dear brother, ‘Although Dr. Thomas is an intellectual man, he is certainly very speculative, is an abstractionist in the fullest sense.’ Now, this reading would imply that speculative men were not intellectual men. I should like to see a man who speculates without intellect; he would be quite a curiosity. Well, I admit that I speculate; and will you tell me, brother Fanning, how a man can think without speculating, or speculate without thinking? I speculate thus: I regard the Bible as a speculum or mirror, into which I look, and there I behold, as in a glass, the Image of God, to which He requires me to be conformed. I think, I reflect, I look, or if you will, I speculate upon this Image, and I behold the Pattern of immortal men. I see in this speculum that this Archetype became immortal by the resurrection of his mortal body from the dead; and I see it averred that all his brethren who do his will shall become like him, perfect and complete, when he shall appear in glory. Yes, I am ‘an Abstractionist’ also. I abstract myself as much as possible from the world, ‘hating the garment spotted with the flesh.’ The industrious and busy bee is an abstractionist; it sips the nectar and abstracts the honey from every flower: the Word is the nectary I sip, and its ‘unadulterated milk’ the saccharine juice from which I abstract the nutriment of my faith. Avaunt this folly, my brother, and cease to pander to popular ignorance, by stirring up prejudice against a man for being guilty of the noblest exercise of intellect, that of speculating and abstracting the heart-cheering promises, and teaching of the word of God.”
“You say, ‘Dr. Thomas has no mercy on such as he esteems his enemies.’ Believe me, I regard men personally as my opponents: mostly as opposing what they do not understand, and, therefore, their leaders excepted, as ‘not knowing what they do.’ These leaders are hostile to me; and yet, if their ‘unmerciful opposition,’ as you term it, were confined to my ‘views,’ I should not complain; but they assail my character, and seem to lack only the power to extinguish me from religious and social existence. I am not their enemy; but I am their invincible and interminable opponent, till they cease to ‘pervert the right ways of the Lord.’ My weapon—my ‘dangerous weapon,’ as you style it—is truth; I seek to take no unfair advantage of them; I do not circulate through the country, trumping up charges against them as they do against me; but when they attack, I expose falsehood, intrigue, and malevolence, and, in an avalanche of refutation, make it recoil upon their own pates. If this be merciless, then be it so; and if they would spare themselves the mortification of defeat, let them beware how they tempt me to unsheath the sword. If they will repent and do right, I will forgive them. I do pray for them, that the eyes of their understandings may be opened; that they may become honest men, and cease to pervert the truth; that they may act up to their old professions, and take their stand upon principle, and no more presume to dictate even to their inferiors, as they may suppose them, what they may see in the Scriptures, and what they may publish as contained in the word of the Lord. Let them attend to their own studies, and if they do not agree with the results of other people’s, let reason and testimony prove theirs the better; and let them remember that Christ’s freemen understand the liberty with which he has freed them from the yoke of bondage too well to permit them to lord it over their rights and consciences. I have ‘no mercy’ upon what I believe to be their perversions of the gospel, neither do I crave mercy; as men, peace be with them when they shall prove themselves worthy of it by having conquered.”
“Again, you say, ‘he has injured, in my judgment, everyone who has come under his influence.’ Well, this you give merely as your opinion. The assertion is a very broad one, you do not say wherein the injury I have done them consists. You ought to have been more explicit; for though you have a right to express your opinion, you have no right to injure me in vaguely exercising that right. You are not, I think, a competent judge in the case, because you are not acquainted with ‘every one who has come under Dr. Thomas’s influence.’ You only know a few, a very few; and if they have been injured, ‘in your judgment,’ you have no right to judge by the rule, ex uno disce omnes. * If you have, so have I; and I could, from a few cases, not difficult to find, show where they had become immoral after imbibing ‘brother’ Campbell’s opinions. Should I not, then, do him injustice in saying that he has injured ‘every one,’ &c., because some whom he had influenced had become renegades? Did all the troubles you have been mixed up with for the last few years originate from my influence? By whatever spirit they were actuated it could not be traced to me; they were ‘brother’ Campbell’s especial friends; but I argue nothing against him upon that account, any more than I argue against the doctrine of Jesus as injurious because of the impiety of multitudes of his disciples and professed friends. Be more impartial and reasonable in your conclusions. * (From one case learn all the rest.)
“Again, ‘his notion of the non-resurrection of infants, idiots, and pagans, and the annihilation of the wicked, are certainly subversive of all the benevolence of God, and contrary to the Scriptures of truth.’ This is an imprudent declaration of yours. You ought to have said, ‘subversive of all rabbinical views of the benevolence of God, and contrary to their interpretation of the Scriptures of truth.’ By the Rabbis in this case, I mean the teachers of the orthodox opinions of the destiny of infants and pagans; and of course you among the number. I do not use the term derogatively, but as best suited to express my idea. Can you perceive no difference between your views of God’s benevolence and His, your interpretations and Scripture itself, as identical? Now, I admit that my ‘notions’ are ‘subversive’ of your views; but I deny, and it is for you to prove, that they are ‘subversive of all the benevolence of God,’ and ‘contrary to the Scriptures of truth’.”
“But I affirm that they are neither, and I put to you and all your side of the question to the proof. I affirm that my ‘notions,’ as you style them, are in harmony with God’s benevolence, and the plain, ungarbled letter of the word. I invite you to take up my review of Campbell and Rice’s Debate about infants, &c., in Nos. 4, 5 and 6 of the Herald of the Future Age, in all its several points, methodically; I invite you to grapple with the grand principle therein developed, and to annihilate the testimonies of the Spirit adduced; I invite you to take it up candidly, chivalrously, honestly, and without fear, and see what you can do with it: and permit me to say that until this work is accomplished, it will be prudent for you to be sparing of your criticisms upon my ‘notions’ concerning pagans, &c., as subversive of anything but the traditions of men.”
“As prejudice may prevent many of your readers from perusing the Herald of the Future Age, I present the following for their especial benefit, on the presumption that you will do me the justice to insert this epistle.”
“I do not use the word ‘annihilation’ in speaking and writing; but, as my opponents force it upon me for effect, I will say a few words about it. It is derived from two Latin words—AD, to and NIHILUM, nothing, which in combination are used to signify a reducing to nothing. Abstractly, this conveys more than I believe; because I believe the wicked will be reduced to dust, which is something: but, in the sense that their organization, or that they, as men, will be utterly demolished, or reduced to no men, as there was no man before Adam was formed from the dust, in that sense they may be said not to be or to be ‘annihilated.’ Now the question is, do the Scriptures teach that the wicked shall not be? On page 205 of the Review, you say, ‘speculations are not wanted, but the teaching of the Holy Spirit.’ Well, here it is. I believe you noted down the passages when I delivered them to you in my office. Job, speaking of his brethren, who had dealt deceitfully and forsaken the fear of the Almighty, says, —
‘The paths of their way are turned aside; they go to nothing (ad nihilum) and perish’ (Job 6:18).
‘Thou hast destroyed the wicked; thou hast put out their name for ever and ever’ (Psa. 9:5).
A name represents something which exists; to put out a name is to put out of existence the thing for which it stands.
‘The wicked shall perish; they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away as the fat of (the sacrificial) lambs’ (Psa. 37:20).
Can any destruction be more complete than this? It comes as near to ‘annihilation,’ as you style it, as words can express.
‘Man that is in honour and understandeth not, is like the beasts which perish’ (Psa. 49:20).
What do you term the destiny of beasts? Call it what you please; such is the destiny or end of the wicked.
‘As a snail which melteth, let every one of them (the wicked) pass away, like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun’ (Psa. 58:8).
What is the end of an abortion? Has the Holy Spirit yet convinced you of the ‘annihilation,’ as you call it, or of the destruction of the wicked, as the Scriptures term it; or do you need greater and plainer testimonies? ‘In the mouth of two or three witnesses,’ saith the Scripture, ‘shall every word be established’; but here are five; must I add the climax? Here, then, is the sixth witness.
‘Consume them in wrath,’ saith Messiah in prophecy; ‘consume them that they may not be’ (Psa. 59:10).
When they are in a state of not being, will you tell me, my brother, how much of the wicked, save dust, remains? Again,
‘Let them be blotted out of the book of the living’ (Psa. 69:28).
When blotted out of this book, are they living or dead? Again,
‘When all the workers of iniquity do flourish, it is that they shall be destroyED for ever’ (Psa. 92:7)—
not destroying for ever, but just as it reads. Do you still think something of the wicked remains, when they are consumed into smoke away, and cease to be? Well, then, here is the last passage I will quote, and if that will not convince you, you must pursue the path of your own waywardness.
‘Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked BE no more’ (Psa. 54:35).
This is triumphant.”
“Is it ‘contrary to Scripture’ to affirm that a portion of the pagan world will not rise again from the dead, to undergo the same punishment which shall hereafter be inflicted upon those who, knowing God’s law, have refused to obey it? I will give you one passage, and when you have put that out of the way, I will give you more. Read the whole of Isaiah 26, beginning ‘IN THAT DAY shall this song be sung in the land of Judah.’ In what day? See the context of the two preceding chapters, and you will find the answer to be, ‘in that day when the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the; Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously,’ in that day when he shall on that mountain ‘make unto all people a feast of fat things.’ ‘When he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail (of ‘strong delusion’: 2 Thess. 2:11) that is spread over all nations’—when ‘he will swallow up death in victory’—THEN ‘shall be sung in the land of Judah this song.’ This song occupies the whole of chapter 26—a song of victory which will be sung by Israel then become, by eminence, ‘THE RIGHTEOUS NATION.’ Having ascertained the time when and the choir by which this song shall be sung, we are prepared to appreciate the sentiments of the glorious melody. What are these as bearing upon the question before us? Let us see.”
“The subjects of the song are the exultation of Jerusalem; the overthrow of the ‘lofty city’; the destruction of the wicked (parallel with 2 Thess. 1:8); the non-resurrection of Israel’s oppressors; and the resurrection of the Lord’s dead men, at his appearing ‘to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity’.”
“Now open your eyes, brother Fanning, if they are not ‘knocked out,’ and read what the Spirit saith about the ‘non-resurrection of pagans’ (verse 12):
‘Lord, Thou wilt ordain peace for us (Israel), for Thou also hast wrought all our works in (or among) us. O Lord, our God, other lords besides Thee have had dominion over us: but by Thee only will we make mention of Thy name. They are dead; THEY SHALL NOT LIVE; they are deceased; THEY SHALL NOT RISE; therefore hast Thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish’.”
“Answer me, now, who are these ‘other lords?’ are they not those who ‘have had dominion over’ Israel from the first until this song of triumph shall be sung by them in the land of Judah, when ‘the Restitution of all things’ to Israel shall come to pass? Lords or rulers who have ‘deceased’ under ‘times of ignorance’ which ‘God winks at?’ What else can you make of it? But, behold the contrast in verse 19, where it was written, —
‘Thy dead men SHALL LIVE, my Dead Body SHALL ARISE.’
In view of this, the prophet joyously exclaims—
‘Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for Thy dew (O Lord) is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead,’ like dew from the womb of the morning (Psa. 110:3).
Where do the dead dwell? ‘In the dust!’ What dead shall the earth cast out? ‘Thy dead men, O Lord!’ Then they are neither in Heaven, Paradise, nor Hades, but dead and sleeping in the dust! Is this ‘language too strong?’ Is it ‘rather of a character to embitter those who love it?’ Do you condemn this instruction as destitute of piety? Is this what you style ‘unprofitable speculations?’ Or is it not rather a glowing theme, and a satisfactory vindication of the justice, benevolence, and abounding goodness of God? Ah! brother Fanning, there is more soul-expanding speculation, more ennobling developments, than have yet ‘entered into the hearts’ of the editors; or have yet been displayed in the pages of the periodicals of this Reformation. You seem all of you to be colleagued against the truth in raising a stupid cry against speculation and untaught questions! Be more modest, I beseech you all, and confess that you have as yet scarcely peeped into ‘the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him,’ and which He hath revealed by His Spirit to His apostles (1 Cor. 2:9).”
“Again, you say, ‘Dr. Thomas admits that these things constitute no part of the gospel of Christ.’ But, my brother, does the New Testament treat only of the gospel of Christ? Does the Old Testament treat only of this? You say, I believe, that ‘the Bible is your rule of faith and practice’; well, does it testify of nothing but gospel or glad tidings? Does it not treat of the destiny of man, as righteous or otherwise; or does it assign all men to one destiny? You must admit that it treats of pagans, of the wicked under law, as well as of the sinners without law; as I have shown, it also treats of resurrection and non-resurrection, and a multitude of other things besides. I propose to explain, as far as I am able, whatever comes to hand. The Bible also is your rule of practice. Why do you not follow that rule? Paul offered the gospel to all men. When they rejected it, he preached damnation to them. The apostasy has dishonoured God in the mis-representation of His dealing with the condemned; I propose to vindicate His character from its aspersions, by showing the true doctrine of the word if I can; and I believe I can. What possible objection can there be? Truth is dangerous to nothing but error; have you or others any beloved traditions they fear to lose? I hope not.”
“Again, you say, ‘the Doctor has become emphatically a man of war and always uses dangerous weapons.’ Well, what is the use of weapons to a soldier unless they are ‘always dangerous?’ You would not have him encounter Satan’s troops with a lath, would you, my good brother? I wield a sharp two-edged, but only against the perverters of the truth, as I believe it. My opponents have the same weapon within their reach, if they have valour and chivalry enough to use it according to the rules of fair and honourable warfare. Why don’t they slay me, if my views are so very ridiculous? Surely, it is easy done! Is my weapon kept in too good order; is it too sharp, its point too piercing; does it chill their timid hearts to look upon it? They can shoot poisoned arrows from behind bushes; my corselet, helmet, and shield are sticking full of them, but they have not reached the skin yet. Thanks be to God, who gives the victory, I have seen nothing in them yet to excite dismay. They are crying ‘peace,’ and ‘let him alone,’ and he will die away. These are the words of the ‘fearful and unbelieving,’ not of the conqueror who fights for a kingdom, a sceptre, and a crown of life.”
“But, assuming that you are correct, what objections have you to a Christian being ‘a man of war?’ Can a man be a conqueror without being a man of war? What do you call that man equipped, with girded loins, a breastplate, shield, helmet, and sword? Is he not a very warlike person? ‘Oh, but,’ you say, ‘his weapons are not always dangerous; they are not carnal.’ I admit they are not carnal; they neither defend his flesh from wounds nor doth his sword draw blood from the flesh of his opponents. His defensive armour is spiritual; it is constituted, not of brass and steel, but of truth, righteousness, faith, hope, and the sandals of a genuine gospel preparation: his weapon is not a Damascus blade, or ‘Toledo trusty,’ but the word of God. Is not such a man, clad in ‘the whole armour of God,’ a warlike looking character? A soldier, who ‘knocks out the eyes and commits other damages’ upon Satan’s troops, whether friends or foes, good, bad, indifferent, or ‘best?’ If my ‘best friends’ are found fighting with the aliens against the truth, I exceedingly deplore it; and if they get their eyes ‘knocked out’ and sustain ‘other damages’ in the affray, I am very sorry for it.”
“But, brother Fanning, men are mistaken in supposing that ‘the times of the Gentiles’ were, in any portion of them, to be the times of peace to the soldiers of Christ. THE PRESENT AGE (by this I mean the interval between the ascension and future advent of Messiah) is essentially a period of war: war for principle against the apostasy in all its forms. Disciples obtain peace in this age in proportion as they are indifferent to principle. We are not to expect peace and enjoyment; and if we are faithful we shall be certain not to get it. I hear men sing
‘Must I be carried to the skies
On flow’ry beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,’
And sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face,
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?
Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord,’ &c., &c.”
“I say Yes, there are foes enough for you to face, if you will contend for the faith without adulteration. Try it, brother F.; defend the ‘position’ I have taken against the opposite, and which you admit is sustainable by the Bible, and you will find foes start up against you like dragons’ teeth; who will take care not to allow the angels to carry you to the skies on flow’ry beds of ease! But, let men be indifferent to everything that interferes with their worldly advantage, and they may sing for foes for ever, but they will find none; for the devil feels so sure of them, that he will destroy the wretched factionist, if he can, who shall dare to disturb their schemes of peace, prosperity, and aggrandisement, for so very ridiculous an affair as principle.”
“If it be true, how can I help being Ishmaelitish, if every man’s hand is against me? If they are determined to treat me as Ishmael, they must expect a sharper sword than Ishmael’s to cleave them to the dust. You love me, brother Fanning? Ah, how can I persuade myself of this? Would a lover show up his beloved in such a style as you have exhibited me to your brethren and the public? Is it the part of one who loves another to treat him thus? Reserve your regrets, my dear friend, for other times. You express them too early by twenty years. You will, perhaps, then see no cause to regret, but rather to rejoice at our present position. I have no regrets, save the straitness of my means; but this may be overcome. My ‘organisation’ is suited to what lies before me, and the ‘circumstances which have governed me,’ though they may have rendered my ‘best efforts worse than useless,’ in your opinion, in promoting the worldly policy of a certain class of reformers. We will, with your leave, defer a final judgment in the case of how much I have abused ‘the cause of Christ,’ until he shall come and settle all disputes.”
“You greatly err in supposing that a remembrance of A. Campbell disturbs the tranquillity of my mind. It is true, from the nature of things, that I do not forget him. So long as he retains his present ground, and I mine, we must necessarily be in opposition. I am sorry he has not more chivalrousness of disposition; if he had, he would not persist in what he knows to be wrong. You understand me? And it does appear to me, that a man of his intellect must know better than he acts. I hope I do him no wrong in this opinion. If he would study demonology less and Christology more, he would not be so tyrannous in his opinions; and could he be thrown into a less parasitical (‘pious’ though it be!) society than that which surrounds him, he would be prepared to discuss the truth with less arrogance and self-sufficiency, and have a better opportunity of becoming acquainted with his own foibles, from the testimony of ‘genuine friends,’ who like brother Fanning, in the case of Dr. John Thomas, might show him up on the pages of the Christian or some other Review!”
“Finally, my brother, if you do, you ought not to love me (unless as an enemy, and that is evinced by heaping coals of fire upon his head). Indeed, I do not see how you can love me, for you say I am neither ‘good nor useful’; seeing, you say, that ‘under certain circumstances, I might become a good and useful man’; which is plainly declaring that, in your opinion, I am neither one nor the other.”
“Wishing you better measure than you have meted out to me, I subscribe myself without intending to offend you, your brother in Christ,
In relation to the foregoing, and to much that has been already recorded, the following statement of Dr. Thomas will be interesting and enlightening.
“Our object in bringing these things to light is to put such ‘reformers’ to shame, and to let good men see the deception which is practised upon them, when they are called upon by interested partisans to uphold such a system of things under pretence of its being sacred and apostolic! We yearn for such a state of society as will reflect the principles of God’s Word, where His testimony is the delight and glory of the people. We love the truth too well to allow mankind to be imposed upon with counterfeit metal instead of the pure gold. ‘This reformation’ in Eastern Virginia, is a mere apology for apostolicity. It is sound neither in doctrine nor morality. It began with a show of zeal for truth and liberty, but it has ended in establishing a new form of human authority and tradition. If it were not for the truth’s sake, do you suppose, with our means of doing better, that we would subject ourselves to reproach, to defamation, to the vexatiousness of a great enterprise with scantily furnished means, to the labour of body and mind, etc., which we have to undergo? Is the carnal mind of so purely a philanthropic constitution as to toil for the everlasting weal and glory of its contemporaries, with no other recompense than these things? No, reader, indeed; this is more than human nature, unimpressed with God’s truth, will subject itself to. We labour for that reward that is laid up for us in the heavens, and but for this, we should long ere this, have bid you learn the things of the Spirit as you best could; for ourselves, we must, long ago, have imitated the pious of ‘this reformation,’ and have devoted ourselves to covetousness and fleshly lusts. Our self-denial, while it will redound to our glory at the coming of the Lord, will be condemnatory of those who add to our difficulties by their proscription, or by a lukewarm and inefficient cooperation. Often, in retirement, do we sigh over this misguided and grovelling generation, and fain would we if our race were run, or the day of Christ were arrived, that we might find deliverance. But, courage, O my soul, with patience we must wait for it!”
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