Dabney on Forgiveness without Restitution

At the General Assembly of the Southern Presbyterian Church in 1870, many attendees who had been cucked by Lincoln’s War spoke of a union with the Northern Presbyterian Church, but a few steadfastly objected to the union. Some of the men implored Dabney to speak, knowing that if anyone could stave off the assault, then Dabney could. He repeatedly refused, because he was the Moderator, and it was considered inappropriate for the Moderator to insert himself into the discussion. Finally, he’d had all he could stomach.

Dr. E.M. Green says this:

“[Dabney] was on his feet in a moment. He began this way:”

“Mr. Chairman, I feel as if I were talking to people across a river a mile wide. If you are pleased with such speeches as you have been listening to, it is useless for me to express my thoughts. I do not profess to be as good as some people; I hear brethren saying it is time to forgive. Mr. Chairman, I do not forgive. I do not try to forgive. What, forgive those people who invaded our country, burned our cities, destroyed our homes, slain our young men, and spread desolation and ruin over our land? No, I do not forgive them. But you say, “They have changed their feelings towards us, and are kind.” And why should they not be kind? Have we ever done anything to make them feel unkind to us? Have we ever harmed or wronged them? They are amiable and peaceful, are they? And is not the gorged tiger amiable and peaceful? When he has filled himself with the calf he has devoured, he lies down in a kind, good humor; but wait till he has digested his meal, and will he not be fierce again? Will he not be a tiger again? They have gorged themselves with everything they could take from us. They have gained everything they tried to get, they have conquered us, they have destroyed us. Why should they not be amiable and kind? Do you believe that the same old tiger nature is not in them? Just wrest from them anything they have taken from us, and see.”

Dr. Green reported, “In that way, he went on for an hour. I never heard such a philippic. I was frightened. I believed every word he said, but I thought I never encountered before such a terrible* man.”

[Back in the day “terrible” meant fierce, awesome, formidable.]

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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