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Proposed Discussion with Mr. Campbell


The interesting crisis in the history of the truth which the foregoing documents record would be incomplete without mention of an article in which Dr. Thomas proposed to Alexander Campbell a full written discussion on the immortality of the soul, to take place in the pages of the Harbinger, Mr. Campbell’s periodical: Mr. Campbell’s reply to the proposal, and Dr. Thomas’s rejoinder.

            These are referred to in the following pages:


                “There is no subject of more, or even of equal importance to mankind than that contained in the inquiry, ‘If a man die shall he live? We need not argue here to prove that it is paramount to all other questions; its superlative importance is self-evident and admitted by all.”


                “In this question the patriarch in effect inquires, ‘If a man die, what is his state after death?’ or, as he asks in another place, ‘When a man gives up the ghost where is he?’ In Job 14:12, the question is solved in these words: ‘He lieth down and riseth not: till the heavens be no more they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.’ By this, this enlightened prophet instructs us plainly that when man dies he does not live till ‘the heavens,’ or ‘times of the Gentiles,’ * pass away, or ‘are fulfilled’; and that in the interval between his death and resurrection, he sleeps in the dust of death. He teaches us that man does not live till he rises from the dead; that he comes forth into the present state ‘like a flower; that he fleeth through his life as a shadow and continueth not.’ In other words, he hath continued long enough to leave behind him a character which remains written in the book of remembrance before God, and then passes away into nonentity until a ‘set time,’ when he will be raised identical with the character which he left behind. Character is alone perpetual; as a shadow and a fading flower its animal proprietor vanishes away, and ‘is no more’ till the spring time of immortality arrive.”


                “Such was the doctrine taught and believed in the days of the patriarchs. Upon what principles in detail this resurrection from nonentity, or nothingness, to an antecedent identity was to be developed, they knew not; but that they might attain to a resurrection to consciousness and all its correlates, has been the one hope of the sons of light in all ages and generations since the world began.”


                “In ‘the Word of the Truth of the Gospel’ the realisation of this hope has been made consequent upon retaining the knowledge of the true doctrine thereof in memory, and on not holding traditions, the reasonings and conclusions of which nullify, and therefore subvert it. Let the reader mark well what we have to say; let him think deeply upon the words of this paragraph, for they are words of fearful and weighty import.”


                “Now it is notorious that this doctrine is not the teaching of our day. On the contrary, a doctrine is taught, which is not only different, but subversive of the hope of Israel, which is the only hope that God acknowledges, and by which alone a man can be saved. Job’s words are in effect denied. ‘Man’s body fleeth,’ say they, ‘as a shadow; but he continueth.’ The patriarch saith, he continueth not.’ Job saith that when men die ‘they go to nothing.’ Others say ‘this is devilish doctrine, for there is something left that is immortal and cannot die.’ Job saith, ‘my life is wind.’ They say, ‘No; it is the essence of the Deity, or God in every man.’ Job saith, that man in his nothingness is in a state analogous to sleep, and commingled with the dust. They say, that this is ‘soul sleeping,’ which they call ‘damnable heresy,’ and pronounce that he is awake, and in consciousness dwelling with God or the Devil! Thus they make the word of God of ‘none effect by their traditions’; for if these things are believed and maintained, to such persons at least, the resurrection and the judgment of the day of Christ are a mere nullity, an inconvenient and troublesome conceit.”


                “These traditions constitute a part of the theology of all sectarian teachers, from His Infallibility the Pope, down to the most recent edition of infallibility in the Protestant world. They teach one and all that the descendants of the first Adam, the great progenitor of sinners, have all in their animal bodies, and as a part of their fleshly natures, immortal souls! That, being immortal, when man dies his existence continues in heaven or hell, and consequently that the eternal life and eternal death of the holy word are but eternal happiness and misery.”


“Now we can prove that these dogmas are not only untrue, but pernicious and damnatory to him that believes them, as they are false and absurd. Being convinced that this is the case, we desire an opportunity of demonstrating it to mankind; but through what channel shall this demonstration flow into the minds of men? There is no particular medium through which all men may see, for there is no paper or periodical that all men will read. Our demonstration, therefore, must be to a part, that through this part we may operate upon all who take an interest in the answer to the question, ‘What is the truth?’   

*This can hardly refer to the ‘times of the Gentiles’; it is an idiomatic way of saying those referred to will never rise.

                “Well, we have a periodical, it is true; but then only a very small part of the public, comparatively, will or care to read it. As time and labour are precious, we would economise both as much as possible. We would, therefore, seek a vehicle more extensively diffusive than our own. But the great difficulty is not the finding of such equipage for the way, but the lighting upon such a conductor as would not be afraid: that in admitting us as ‘an inside’ with our baggage, we should cause his Diligence to break down, and henceforth to be condemned as mere lumber by the way. But as there are periodicals which profess to be devoted to the apostolic precept, ‘prove all things, and hold fast that which is good,’ we should judge that such at least would not demur to take us up as a traveller by the way. On the other hand, can it be possible that a paper professing to revere this admirable precept, can be found upon this planet that would refuse to allow the question of immortality to be fairly and fully discussed in its pages? We would hope that there is no such paper under the sun which would act thus, on any conceivable pretence whatever. But we shall see.”


                “But what ‘theologian’ under these heavens can be found, who has confidence enough in his own dogmas, who will come forward, panoplied in his Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, and defend ‘the immortality of the soul’ in all its relations against the editor of the Herald of the Future Age? There is one champion in theology of whom we have some knowledge, whose spirit hath for years by-gone proved itself to be most chivalric and combative. He is a knight whose renown for ‘tilt and tourney’ has echoed through the world, against whose lance the Anakim have been broken as the reed. We knew such an one, who has bestrode his Bucephalus in the glory of his power, and become almost like another Alexander, in weeping because for him there remained no more champions to subdue! But hinc illoe lachrymo ‘Be followers of me,’ says the apostle, ‘and so walk that ye have us for an example.’ Paul was a courageous and untiring combatant for the faith. Avaunt these tears! ‘Be followers of me,’ says the apostle, ‘and so walk that ye have us for an example.’ Paul was a courageous and untiring combatant for the faith; a soldier of Christ, whose soldiership is worthy of admiration and imitation, till The Lord of Hosts appear at the head of his celestial squadron. It was not till the end of his service that he said, ‘I have finished my course; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.’ There was no resting upon his sword with him, and sighing for weariness, or for more Anakim to slay. ‘Be thou faithful unto death!’ is the condition of ‘the crown of life.’ The ‘fight of faith’ is not crowned with victory to the soldier that faints or runs away.”


                “Will that warlike theologian on any pretence seek to wage a combat for the truth? He is among the Philistines, whose ‘Dagon’ is the ‘Immortality of the Soul,’ and while he fraternises with them, we cannot but regard him as a champion of their idol. If this fondly cherished dogma be the truth of God, if it be the doctrine of His holy word, it can easily be demonstrated. We deny it, and challenge the whole world to the proof; and we denounce it as a pernicious falsehood, and dare this champion of it to make it appear from the Scriptures that it is the truth.”


                “But, why do we challenge him to the combat before any other? Because he is regarded as ‘a Master in Israel,’ and of great authority by ‘this Reformation,’ with which we are identified, * and to perfect which in doctrine and morality, we are primarily solicitous. Will the conductors of the Millennial Harbinger open their pages to a discussion of the subject of immortality, the parties to which shall be the senior editor on the one side, and the editor of the Herald of the Future Age on the other? We want a fair and full investigation of the matter, in type, that the public may see where the truth lies; if with the Platonists, then let it be proclaimed as proved that we are in error, and that ‘life and incorruptibility were brought to light by Plato’; but, if the truth be with us, then let all embrace it, though persecution and reproach follow; or if it be with neither, then may we all still search for it as a hid treasure.”



* “We say advisedly, that we are identified with ‘this Reformation,’ not that we regard ourselves belonging to it in a sectarian sense. All that has been proved to be good in relation to it we believe, teach, and earnestly maintain; the principles of reformation we advocate even to a preparation for the Lord at his coming. We are, however, opposed to these things of ‘this reformation,’ which consist in the building up by reformers what they formerly destroyed. We wish, and we are ready to cooperate with reformers in going on to perfection in knowledge and morality; but in so doing we feel bound to protest against their practice, if, in our judgment, they are contrary to the truth. We trust we shall never be found the apologist for iniquity, transgression, and sin, because the abominations happen to be current among those with whom we associate.”


                “We do not forget that the senior editor of the Millennial Harbinger has said that he wants nothing to do with us in any way. This may be his desire truly; but neither the times, the circumstances, nor the relation he professes to hold to the truth will permit him to evade a discussion with us upon this matter. We are obliged ‘to do with’ many things and persons in this life which are by no means agreeable. Let Paul be his example in this particular, who ‘wrestled against the rulers of the darkness of this (his) world (or age), against wicked spirits in the heavens’; or the archangel Michael, who disputed with the devil. Now, we argue, if Paul and Michael acted thus with devils, and the disputation of the latter was about a dead body, the senior editor may not fail of Scripture precedents to dispute with us about the hope of Israel, through which ‘life and incorruptibility’ are manifested in the world.”


                “Nor let him excuse himself on the plea of our inferiority. This will not avail him; for, if in 1838 he demurred not then, on account of inferiority, he can have no just cause to do so now. If he is strong and we are weak, let him show his strength by proving his propositions. Our strength is in the truth; if this be against us, we shall be exhibited as weak indeed. We were then ‘a very young man,’ and ‘a stripling’; yet he or his friends, we forget which, proposed a debate. It was then sought for by our opponents, now we seek it, not to steal a march upon them unawares, but that the truth may be made manifest.”


                “We invite to a discussion in the Harbinger, upon fair and equal grounds. We ask nothing we are not willing to grant. We would not put all the burden of proof on him, but divide it into two sets of propositions; the one expressing the dogmas on the side of which we find him, and the other the things we affirm in opposition thereto. With these views we submit the following particulars.”




“1. —There is a principle or essence in all animal man which is inherently and necessarily immortal.”

“2. —When animal men die, their inherent and hereditary immortal essence, commonly styled ‘the immortal soul,’ lives in heaven, hell, or an intermediate place other than the grave. Hence, ‘eternal life’ is simply ‘eternal happiness,’ and ‘death’ misery without end.”

“3. —The heaven promised to the saints in the Scripture, is ‘beyond the skies,’ is the place of ‘immortal souls,’ and is entered when the body dies.”

“4. —The hell spoken of in the Scriptures is the place of the unrighteous ‘immortal souls,’ burning with fire and brimstone, into which ‘immortal souls’ are placed at the instant of death.”


“These four propositions embody the hopes and fears of orthodox professors. As the senior editor is now reputed orthodox to a considerable extent, he can affirm these, perhaps, and we will meet him with a denial, saving only a slight modification of the fourth. But, from our recollection of his sentiments as expressed in his debate with us in 1838, we have a misgiving that he will not affirm the third and fourth of these. We would, therefore, present him the two following as alternatives, which, if he pleases, he may affirm instead: we also denying.”




“5. —The heavens promised to the saints in the Scriptures is ‘beyond the skies.’ It consists of two departments, the one proximate and the other remote. The proximate heaven is a place and a state intermediate between the death of the body and its resurrection, and is tenanted by ‘disembodied immortal souls’; these enter into it at the instant of death, and there remain till the end of time. At this crisis, ‘disembodied immortal souls,’ or ‘departed spirits,’ leave the proximate, or intermediate heaven, and are united with their bodies in the graves from which they issue forth to judgment, after which they enter the ultimate heaven as disembodied immortal souls.”

“6. —The hell spoken of in the Scriptures is the place where the unjustified dwell coeval with the years of God, burning in fire and brimstone. It consists of two departments, proximate and remote. These are states of being in one place or two; the proximate being for wicked departed immortal disembodied souls or spirits, and the ultimate or remote, for the same spirits when embodied; which embodiment is a reunion of the spirits with their bodies at the end of time, when they come forth from their graves to judgment, after which they enter upon the fullness of their torment.”


These six propositions, we believe, cover the whole ground of our opponents, and if they contain the truth, it can easily be shown without many words. But until we can meet with something like truth, we cannot justly be condemned for not assenting to them. In the meanwhile, we offer to demonstrate, subject to the denial and critique of the senior editor of the Harbinger, this




“1. —From the Creation until the proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom of God by the apostles, all men were ignorant of the true doctrine concerning immortality.”

“2. —Immortality is not an essence or abstract substance, but a quality or property of body.”

“3. —Immortality is a part of ‘the recompense of reward,’ and, therefore, promised only to the righteous.”

“4. —The ‘great recompense of reward,’ or ‘hope of the gospel,’ glory, honour, incorruptibility, life, corporeal might, political majesty, and dominion and power over the existing nations, in association with Jesus Christ, reigning in person on the throne of his father David, to be re-established, exercising supreme ecclesiastical political jurisdiction over the restored twelve tribes of Israel and the Gentiles for 1000 years; at the end of which this everlasting kingdom and empire will be discontinued.”

“5. —Heaven is a place and a state of being. Its locality is the planet earth, as reformed and renewed when the future age, or ‘Dispensation of the fullness of times’ shall have passed away. Its population will then be to a single individual all sinless, glorious, and immortal as the angels of God. This, and this only, is the heaven to which God invites mankind, on the terms of the gospel of the kingdom of David’s Son.”

“6. —Before the saints can enter heaven, they must reign with Christ on earth 1000 years, or ‘a season and a time.’ This reign is ‘the state’ intermediate between this and the eternal world.”

“7. —‘Hell,’ as importing the punishment of men, is periodical and confined to time. It is on the earth’s surface, and makes no part of the arrangements of the eternal world. The day of judgment is the day of Christ.”

“8. —For men to inherit ‘the things of the kingdom of God,’ who live prior to the resurrection of the first fruits, it is necessary that they become citizens of the commonwealth of Israel, or they are without part or lot in the matter.”

“9. —All who hold traditions subversive of the one hope of Israel, as preached by the holy apostles, will be rejected from the kingdom of God.”

“10. —The things preached by ‘this Reformation,’ as the reward of righteousness, are contrary to and subversive of the hope of the gospel, which Paul announced to all men by revelation of God.”


“The following we propose as the rules by which the discussion shall be regulated.”




“1. —Nothing to be admitted as proof of these two sets of propositions but the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.”

“2. —The Scriptures may be reasoned upon for and against the propositions.”

“3. —All other matter, though admissible at the expense of the time and space of the party introducing it, shall be considered as irrelevant ‘and proof only of deficiency in Scripture testimony.’ The opposite party may notice it at his own option. Not to do so shall not be construed unfavourably to the propositions in hand.”

“4. —He that first indulges in personalities shall be regarded as averring in so many words the weakness of his position, that it cannot be sustained by reason and Scripture.”

“5. —No reference shall be made to, nor quotations from anything which either party may have said, or written, upon the matter in dispute, previous to this discussion.”

“6. —The discussion to be conducted in the pages of the Harbinger and Herald of the Future Age.”

“7. —Equal space to be afforded to each, and nothing to be construed in the arrangements in favour of the one which is not equally admissible for the other.”


“All which is submitted in the spirit of truth, candour, and oblivion of the past, for the sake of the ‘one hope’ of ‘the majesty of God’.”


To this the following reply appeared in the Millennial Harbinger:


“ ‘’John Thomas, not D.D., but M.D.’ has recently published a very pompous challenge to the editor of the Millennial Harbinger to admit him into his pages as large as life, to discuss with him, once more, his stale, moth-eaten, twice dead speculations upon no-soulism and materialism. His Herald of the Future Age, in the agonies of death, threw out this challenge in the last number of his volume, in the forlorn hope of holding on his far scattered and scattering subscribers, and raising to life his desponding, drooping, dying friends, already sickened unto death with the soul-withering speculation about souls manufactured out of blood, and spirits out of breath, by the vis conservatrix naturae. Having had a full proof, both in theory and practice, of all the saving graces of materialism . . . a number of the initiated, we have learned, are disposed not to pay seven times for the same improbable speculations, and are disposed to lay the Herald of the Future Age on the shelf, to see whether it may resemble Samson’s slain lion, killed by the jaw-bone, or some other weapon, of an ass—out of which came honey and oil for the consolation of the sick and dying.”


        “To lay aside the figurative and to speak the literal truth, our readers have in former times been sated with the lubrications of this moon-stricken speculator. They have heard him to satiety. He still has the assurance to allude to his Amelia interview with me—at which his friends, seasonably, though without any good effect, interposed in hopes of saving him from ruin, and snatched him from the discussion. Since that time we honoured his theory with an extra on Life and Death, to which he has never, so far as known to me, presumed to respond, nor any one for his sake. With this essay not only unanswered, but in his own practice deemed unanswerable, how ridiculous to all men of common sense must appear his late egotistic puff of himself in the form of a challenge, when retiring at the back door from a stage, with his lease expired in the judgment of three and twenty Richmond friends! ! ! For these faltering and unfaltering adherents, the fruit of seven years toil, he has laboured only to prove that, like Priestley and Hume, though of incomparably less dimensions, he can create doubts from which ‘he cannot deliver his own soul,’ nor say to himself or them, ‘Is there not a delusion in my right hand?’ He has long enough fed them upon ashes. I am told he is about to migrate to New York in quest of new adventures.



        To this Dr. Thomas published a rejoinder, accompanied by the following letter:


“March 24, 1847.

“Mr. Alexander Campbell,

        “Dear Sir, —By accident, as it were, I learned that you had again broken through your oft-repeated, and as oft-infringed determination, not to notice me any more. I was glad to hear that you had been moved to speak, supposing that after three months’ reflection you had concluded, as ‘one of nature’s noblemen,’ as you have been styled, to act nobly; and, in the spirit of courtesy and truth, to lift the gauntlet which I had thrown down to you in the first number of the present volume of the Herald of the Future Age. I say by accident, for although I never fail to forward you the Herald periodically, you have not reciprocated the compliment; so that, if anything happens to come out against me, I am very apt to hear it from everybody else before I see it in print. Your last was received at the Times and Compiler office, whence, through a third person, I was informed that you had come out upon me ‘as no politician would have dared to assail another.’ I was sorry to find that this was the style of your notice, seeing that if the proposed discussion were acceded to, it would be undertaken in a very bad spirit by yourself.”


        “Now, permit me to remark that, while it gives me an advantage over you, it was very bad policy for you to manifest such a spirit in view of the fourth rule of the proposed discussion, which saith, ‘he that first indulges in personalities shall be regarded as averring in so many words the weakness of his position, that it cannot be sustained by reason and Scripture.’ Now, I hold that it matters little whether a disputant get angry, or abusive, or indulge in false, and therefore slanderous accusations, before, in the course of, or after a discussion; it equally proves against him—it proves one of three things: either, first, that he fears he will be beaten; or, that he is being beaten; or, that he has been beaten. If I had felt desperate, I would have been prudent enough not to have shown it. I think, therefore, that in publishing the manifestation before us you have acted unwisely, and without due regard to your favourite doctrine of expediency.”


        “It is to be regretted, for your sake, that you should have permitted the flesh to dictate such an article as that before us. Sceptic-maker, like Priestley and Hume, though of incomparably less dimensions, as you deem me, do you think you have replied to my proposals as a Christian, supposing you to be one, ought to have answered even such a character? Doth not the apostle say ‘Be ready to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and respect?’ You say that you have within you an immortal soul, and that you hope it will go to Paradise or to Abraham’s bosom, or to Christ, when your body dies; I repeat you say this; for this is the side you are understood to advocate. Now, I ask you respectfully for a reason of this hope, for I can discover no such hope taught in the Word. You are to give it ‘with meekness and respect.’ Have you obeyed this injunction? I endeavoured to ask you in this spirit; for at the conclusion, I say, ‘all which is submitted in the spirit of truth, candour, and oblivion of the past, for the sake of the one hope of the Israel of God.’ Could you not have answered me in the same spirit? Would it have cost you any more, save a little crucifixion of the flesh?”


        “But, bating the spirit, you say that you have given me a reason as the apostle enjoined; and that it was so convincing, or confounding, that I could not, because I did not respond. It is true I did not formally respond to your extra on Life and Death, and I think I gave you a reason in one of the Heralds why I did not. I will state it here. Before the extra came to hand I had prepared a manuscript upon the same subject, a portion of which was published in the Herald in the number after it arrived. When it had all appeared, I republished it in a pamphlet of 43 pages 8vo, under the title of the ‘The Things of the Spirit of God.’ This was, therefore, published sometime after your extra, and has been in part republished in the Bible Examiner by Mr. George Storrs, of Philadelphia—an honest man and independent thinker, and one who appears to love truth for its own, and not for party’s sake. Seeing, therefore, that this pamphlet, a copy of which I sent you, demolishes all your strong points, I did not think it necessary to go into a formal refutation of yours; but, if you will consent to the discussion in the Harbinger, you shall have no reason to complain that your most invulnerable fortresses have not been attacked, and, by the help of the truth, rased to their foundations.”


        “And here, I would remind you, that I have in the Herald, fully identified you, and all on your side the controversy, with ‘Philetus, Hymenaeus,’ and that ancient ‘Alexander, whom Paul delivered to Satan, that they might learn not to blaspheme.’ You are advocating precisely the same principles; and be assured that if you are not converted to the truth, Satan will have you as certainly as he had hold of them. My desire is to save you and this reformation from Hymenaeanism; for it is, little as you suspect it to be so in your own case, ‘a damnable heresy’ in the strictest import of the words.”


        “You say the proposed discussion is ‘a very pompous challenge.’ The pompousness of it depends a good deal upon the style of the reading. If you read it pompously, it would, doubtless, appear ‘very pompous’; but, as I did not feel at all pompous when I penned it, all the pomposity must be on your side of the hedge.”


        “You are labouring under a mistake when you say that I want to discuss ‘no-soulism and materialism’ with you. I do not advocate no-soulism; I believe that a living man is a living soul. It is you, my dear sir, who advocate no-soulism; for, you contend that there is in man such a thing as Plato, Hymenaeus and Co., termed an immortal ‘soul’, which the profoundest philosophers on your part admit cannot be proved by reason to exist.” ‘As the abstract existence of a thinking principle before birth, so abstract feeling, thought, or consciousness, after death, cannot be proved by human reason.’ This is their language; it would be useless, therefore, for you to attempt, and waste of time for me to follow you through a labyrinth of sophistry to prove, the existence of such a soul as you believe in. An immortal soul in mortal man is incapable of demonstration by reason. You believe, then, in a soul, which, as far as abstract reason is concerned, does not exist: this is equivalent to believing in no soul. But, if your ‘immortal soul’ be a reality, then its existence can be demonstrated by the Word. Now, I invite you to prove it by the Prophets and Apostles. I say you never have, and cannot prove that any such thing exists. Believing, therefore, in a soul, the existence of which can neither be proved by reason nor Scripture, you believe in truth in no soul at all, and, therefore, are yourself the advocate of ‘no-soulism,’ quod erat demonstrandum.”


        “As to ‘materialism,’ in our debate at Painesville, you admitted the materiality of spirit, therefore, you are as much a materialist as you declare me to be. You have too much good sense to allow anyone to extort from you the avowal that you are an immaterialist; and, if not an immaterialist you must be a materialist, for there is no middle ground between them. That which is material is something, that which is immaterial is nothing. An immaterial immortal soul is something curious anyhow, if nothing can be something. You recollect, perhaps, my remark on your admission that you did not believe in immaterial spirit. ‘My friends,’ said I, ‘while Mr. Campbell is opposing me, you must not jump to the conclusion that he is, therefore, advocating your philosophy. He would wish, as it would seem, to make this impression on your minds; but, the fact is, he is maintaining his own peculiar notions to the utter subversion of the foundation of your theory. Your philosophy teaches that the spirit, or soul, is immaterial; and because it is immaterial, therefore immortal. But, Mr. Campbell says that spirit is material, and that he cannot conceive of immateriality; therefore, on your hypothesis of immateriality being necessary to immortality, he has proved this thing you call the soul to be mortal’.”


        “I am surprised you should say that the Herald is in the agonies of death. I can readily believe that you wish it were, not only in articulo mortis, but actually defunct. Look at the present volume and compare it with the former, and you will discover that the symptoms of recovery, if at all diseased, are quite flattering. It is now printed in a new fount of bourgeoise, and contains twenty-four instead of sixteen pages as before. I think, with its new and flowery border and handsome-coloured jacket, and better paper than the Harbinger, that it will pass muster with all ‘our periodicals,’ if not excel them and the Harbinger to boot. But, on this point, I will say no more, lest I be thought to boast of things beyond my measure . . .”


        “As I have said, you err exceedingly in supposing that the object of the proposed discussion is ‘no-soulism and materialism’—it is not these, but the hope of the gospel. The propositions on your part are the ‘stale, moth-eaten, twice dead speculations,’ handed down to you from your brethren Hymenaeus and Alexander; and which have so eaten as a cancer, as completely to eradicate from your faith, or religious system, the ‘one hope of the calling.’ These are not mine as you mistakenly affirm—they are yours; I reject them, and am prepared to prove, before your readers, that the man who holds them has a vain and shipwrecked faith. No, my dear sir, the discussion I propose is for the vindication and elaboration of the one hope, which has been rendered null and void by the traditions you hold in common with all the world. I want to enlighten you and this reformation in the doctrine of Christ, which teaches that life and incorruptibility are attributes of the kingdom which the Ancient of Days shall set up, in contradistinction to the ‘profane vain babblings and oppositions of science falsely so called’—that ‘philosophy and vain deceit,’ handed down to us from ‘the fathers’ of the apostasy.”


        “In the conclusion of the first paragraph of the article before us, you are so highly ‘figurative’ that really I cannot exactly discover the point you are aiming to illustrate. Is the Herald of the Future Age comparable to the young lion before it was slain—for, if in death’s agonies, it is not yet dead, therefore, it is not like the lion slain. Are you the Samson to slay it with the jaw-bone of an ass? And when you have put it to death by this weapon, do you mean that when dead, the Herald will still give out sweetness, to solace the sick and dying? In one thing, however, you mistake. Samson did not kill the lion ‘with the jaw bone’ or some other weapon of an ass: he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand. You read the word too loosely: be more particular in future.”


        “It has seemed good to you to announce to the world that my friends are ‘desponding, drooping, dying.’ If this be indeed so, it is bad news, and I am very sorry to hear it. I have been doing the best I could, since my return to this State, to inspirit both my friends and yours by the glowing truths of the Word of God, to be manifested to human kin at the revelation of Jesus Christ. I fear, however, that there is some ground for your remark, that they are ‘drooping.’ I lament it sorely. I expound to them the word, but I cannot give them faith. But, seeing that my enemies are watching for their fall, that the truth may be gainsaid by their delinquency, I do hope that they will ‘awake to righteousness,’ and ‘labour to enter into God’s rest,’ when the kingdom shall be restored again to Israel. While I grieve for them with as much intensity, at least, as you seem to rejoice over their ‘dying’ state, I cannot refrain from saying that, sickly as they may appear, upon the principle that ‘a living dog is better than a dead lion,’ I rejoice to know that they have this advantage over your friends in Eastern Virginia, namely, that, if they be ‘desponding, drooping, dying,’ your adherents are dead and plucked up by the roots. It is said that ‘while there is life there is hope’; but ‘the dead know not anything.’ It is a bad state of things, both for your friends and mine; but, while I admit there is ground for your reproach, I would observe, in extenuation, that you should make some allowance for them, when you consider how long a time they were the recipients of your traditions and those of other sectarian leaders before they had anything to do with me. Turn your attention to your own churches, into which my name has only entered through the Harbinger, and consequently repeated with a chill of pious horror. Look at them where my views have never entered, and behold their spiritual death! What mean those lamentations over churches of which we read in ‘News from the churches?’ Look at home, my dear sir, and you will find evil matters enough among your own friends, without wantonly assailing mine!


        “It will have been a pretty good stroke of policy, I admit, if you can persuade your readers that I am a ‘moon-struck speculator.’ On this hypothesis, they will entirely approve of your refusal to discuss with me. If I thought you were ‘moon-stricken,’ I should decidedly avoid any encounter with you. If you really believe that this calamity hath befallen me, commiserate my misfortune, but do not, I beseech your ‘benevolence,’ revile me on this account! But, if you believe that I am not a lunatic, why callest thou me ‘moon-stricken?’ Did the Jews believe that Jesus was indeed insane, when they said he was mad? Or did Festus, when he cried out ‘Paul, thou art beside thyself?’ I reply to thee almost in the words of Paul, ‘I am not mad, unguarded sir; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness: believest thou the prophets? I affirm nothing but what these have said shall come to pass.’ The ability I possess, however ‘incomparably less’ it may be than the ‘dimensions’ of Priestley and Hume, I employ, after the example of Paul, in reasoning out of the Scriptures. You call this ‘speculation,’ and myself, therefore, a ‘moon-stricken speculator.’ Ah, unhappy me! I cannot help it; so true is it, that ‘what is bred in the bone will come out in the flesh.’ The prophets teach me thus and so; if thus, then say I to myself, that dogma of the world’s religion must be false. Thus enlightened by the word, I think aloud, and being a public speaker and editor, I speak and publish what I believe; and in this way, I imitate the apostles, and cooperate with them in ‘casting down imaginations (such as immortal-soulism and all its cognates) and everything that exalteth itself against God’s knowledge.’ It is true I do not worship at the shrine of Bethany; I do not first make a pilgrimage thither to learn first what is truth, and when learned, to know it to be expedient to publish it. You will, my dear sir, excuse me for this; for I have not learned to think, speak or act according to the rules, words or decrees of ‘infallibilities,’ great or small, in relation to the things of the spirit of God.”


        “Your highness seems to think it great assurance in me to allude to my Amelia interview with you. If in doing so I have committed an offence, I pray thee have me excused. That interview had become historical; and I was not aware that any part of history was interdicted to me or others. I alluded to facts—that we had met in 1838; that my inferiority then was inferred upon no ground whatever; that I was then regarded as ‘a very young man,’ and ‘a stripling’; and that you and your friends proposed a debate. These are the allusions. I made no boast, considering it neither your province or mine to decide which of us had the better. You appear to think that you were a perfect Goliath on the occasion; not when prostrate under the stripling’s sling-stone, but when he proudly stalked with his beam-like spear, attended by his armour-bearer, defying the hosts of Israel. Your friends claimed for you the victory; mine deny it: but as you objected to any report being recorded, there is no written proof of the truth either way. But upon the hypothesis that you ate me up, what had that to do with the proposed discussion now? If I am so easily devoured, would it not afford you unspeakable satisfaction to cannibalise me before your readers, and thus put me to rout for ever? May I give you a piece of advice here? When you gain such another overwhelming victory, take care and bury the slain, lest like the witnesses of God, they will not stay killed, but stand again upon their feet, and great fear fall upon you.”


        “You seem to think it a great argument against the usefulness and truthfulness of the things I advocate, in that I have, after seven years’ toil, but few friends in this city. At all events, does this not prove how strong my faith and hope are, seeing that I have so few, yet am so unconquerably persevering against overwhelming odds? You know the song you used to sing, or have you forgotten it, with other things? ‘Numbers are no mark that you will right be found,’ &c. By your own report, I have more friends than Noah had, or than Elijah, when he supposed himself the only one left of the true believers; or than Jesus, when all forsook him; or than Paul in Asia, when all had turned him off, &c. Do you not know, my dear sir, that at ‘the completion of the appointed times,’ the ancient gospel will have very few believers, and that because of this unbelief, the Gentiles will be broken off, and Israel grafted in again? You and your co-labourers, like David are numbering your forces, and vaunting yourselves in your 250,000; you are planning enterprises and forming schemes, by which you promise yourselves vast results; you are building up things which formerly you demolished, and now talk of even sending the gospel to Turkey, China, Hindostan. Oh sir, if you did but believe the prophets, whom you have all sadly neglected, you would not thus misdirect your well-meant but infallibly abortive undertakings. Set your house in order; abstain from lucrous collegio-religious schemes; so use the mammon of unrighteousness you have acquired as to gain for yourself friends who shall give you an entrance into the eternal mansions; renounce your Hymeneanism; learn, digest and believe the gospel preached to the fathers; become as a little child; be teachable; let your disposition and habit of thought be formed after the type of the father of the faithful; obey the gospel, that your faith may be imputed to you for righteousness; do these, my dear sir, for the Lord is coming upon you as a thief; and if he find you the patron of the Hymenean heresy, and absorbed in the cares of this world, and building up colleges for generations to come, and are yourself not rich towards God, you need not expect ‘a portion of the inheritance of the saints in the light’.”


        “In conclusion, do not waste time in personalities, you will gain nothing by it in the end. I admit there is wisdom in your policy; yet, it must be confessed, it is but worldly wisdom. So long as you can keep me from arguing the cause I advocate before your readers you are safe; keep them in the dark; make me out as black as darkness that may be felt, and you have nothing to fear. But, remember Providence can throw open even your pages to me. You know there is such a thing as pressure from without, which will unbar and unfold the gates of the inquisition itself; and if the truth does edge in, rather than stand in the shoes of Alexander Campbell, I would prefer to remain for ever the ‘moon-stricken speculator’,

John Thomas, not D.D., but M.D.”

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