November 18, 2017

An Open Press Essential to the Progress of Truth

By Alexander Campbell

It is one of the distinguishing characteristics of our pleadings for reformation, that our press has always been open to our enemies. From the 4th day of July, 1823, till now, I have conducted a printing press which has issued a volume every year, and a number every month, without a single failure; and, sir, those volumes are filled with communications from our enemies, to speak in sectarian style, as from our friends. I believe, sir, mine is the only press in this nation that has systematically and undeviatingly given both sides on every question, and opened its pages to all sorts of opponents  Romanists, Protestants, infidel or sectarian, provided only he paid a decent regard to the laws of grammar and politeness.

I believe, sir, I may go farther and say, that my periodical was the first and the only religious periodical in the world which has pursued that course. They were, in those days, all pledged to some creed or party  all one sided. I have been shut out of all their pages. They dared not to admit my essays. They feared to let their readers hear from me on those subjects which they were inculcating. To those very persons that shut us out, we have tendered them page for page, line for line, word for word in our volumes. Some of them have accepted, some of them have declined.

We have then, sir, nothing secret, nothing clandestine. We have called for investigation, for documents, arguments, and evidence. On our pages all parties have been heard and responded to, so that our constant readers are the most intelligent persons in the religious world. They know both sides.

What, may I ask, is the augury of this? Does it omen the fear of light, or the love of darkness? Indicates it the fear of man, or the consciousness of truth and its eternal strength? Is this the way that conscious error or weakness intrude themselves upon the public ear? No, sir. No, fellow-citizens, you know it is not.

You cannot, with all your various and multifarious modes of thinking, imagine a course more creditable, more just, more candid, more honorable before heaven and earth than the course I have pursued, for the last twenty years, in con-ducting this great discussion of principles. We impute to no man, to no party, principles that they disavow. We fearlessly open and avow our own. We say to every man  hear, examine, judge, and decide for yourself.

Every distinguishing principle of this reformation has passed through an ordeal of the most fiery discrimination. And sir, as soon will the arm of mortal arrest the rising sun, or stop the planets in their course, as any mind stay the progress of truths that have been so clearly spoken by prophets and apostles, and that have passed through such a burning furnace unscathed and unimpaired. (Excerpt from speech by Alexander Campbell in his Debate on Human Creeds with N.L. Rice, contained in Campbell-Rice Debate [Lexington, KY: A.T. Skillman & Son, 1844], pp. 759-912, see p. 887.)

Guardian of Truth XL: 9 p. 21
May 2, 1996