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NOTICES OF THE DEBATE WHICH LED TO THE
PUBLISHING OF THE
From the South Western Christian Advocate.
COLUMBUS, Miss., 1841.
MR. EDITOR-I have thought that a concise account of this debate might not be unaccepta ble to your readers. It is a mortifying fact, that this city has become FAMOUS or rather INFA MOUS for the prevalence of Deism and Atheism among her citizens. This has been produced in a good degree by the efforts of an old gentleman by the name of OLMSTED. Since his resi dence here, which has been about four years, he has been untiring in his exertions to sow the seeds of moral death in this community. He has organized his converts into a band, and operates systematically. He has written a book, which is not exceeded by Tom PAINE'S Age of Reason, for scurrility and ridicule. The old gentleman is as artful as the old DESTROYER himself; by which means he has obtained an immense influence over the minds of the young men of this place.
The circumstances which gave rise to the debate were as follows: the Rev. James Smith, during a visit to this city, delivered a few discourses on the dangerous tendencies of Infidelity, addressing himself particularly to the youth. This induced a committee of Infidel gentlemen to address a written challenge to Mr. S., to meet their champion, Mr. O., in a public debate. Mr. S. by the advice of many intelligent friends of truth, accepted the challenge. The time arrived, and the discussion commenced. All was anxiety and interest. The house was crowded, even the aisles and windows, with attentive hearers. They arranged to speak alternately, one, two hours each night, and the other a half hour; so the debate continued two hours and a half each night. From the representation of Mr. O's talents, learning, and preparation, we were made to tremble for the results; but we were not a little disappointed to find the old gentleman fall far below his fame.
He asserted that the Jews did not believe in a future state of existence, until after the Babylonish captivity; that they borrowed their doctrines of the immortality of the soul from the nations among whom they were dispersed-that the Jews believed in a plurality of Godsthat St. Paul was the author of Christianity-that Christianity encourages polygamy. To prove this last position, he quoted Paul's direction to Timothy: "Let a bishop be the husband of one wife." And to crown the mass of absurdities, he endeavored to prove that the blessed Jesus was a base impostor.
We found Mr. Smith well prepared for the contest. He had his arguments systematically arranged-had written them all, and read them well. He proved to a demonstration, the GENUINENESS, AUTHENTICITY and INSPIRATION of the Old Testament Scriptures. His arguments were interesting and convincing. His arguments on the New Testament were equally happy, and if possible, more convincing. The conclusion of every enquirer after truth, must have been, that the champion of Deism was signally defeated, and his cause left bleeding on the field. I doubt not but the defeat would have been more complete, had Mr. S. omitted some of his personal allusions, and had he suppressed his natural inclination to sarcasm. Indeed his blasts of sarcasm were truly WITHERING. His opponent, finding he could not cope with him in this respect, retreated, and took shelter under the sympathies of his audience. Yours, &c.
ONE OF THE HEARERS.
From the Union Evangelist.
COLUMBUS, Miss., May 11th, 1841.
DEAR SIR-Knowing that many of your readers are acquainted with the Rev. James Smith, formerly editor of the Cumberland Presbyterian, I have thought it might be interesting to many of them to hear something of the discussion in which he has been engaged in this place. When on a visit to this place in the winter of '39 and '40, he was challenged to meet Mr. C. G. Olmsted, Esq., of this place, and discuss the merits and divine claims of Christianity. He accordingly, in the course of last mouth, met Mr. O., and as the defender of the Bible against the attacks of the latter gentleman, gave to this community a course of lectures of the most interesting character. This discussion was for the most part confined to the genuineness, cred
ibility and inspiration of the Scriptures of the Old Testament. I am much pleased that he took up the matter at this point, for most defenders of the faith have rested satisfied with the New Testament. This is comparatively an easy task; but so little has been done of late years to place the Old Testament in an advantageous light before the community, that it be. came absolutely necessary to give it a situation in the front of his system of defence. He astonished us with the great amount and strength of external evidence in their favor. In his arrangement of this proof, great order and clearness was most evident. He then took up the prophecies, and in these he was equally as satisfactory. Some eighteen nights were occupied, so that time was afforded him to pursue that systematic course which he had laid out.
This consisted, as I have incidentally remarked, of the external proof of the Old and New Testaments, and the whole was closed with the internal evidence. It is proper to remark, that he occupied two or three nights in laying a broad foundation, upon which the superstructure to which I have just adverted, was reared. The edifice of defence thus constructed, appeared strong and well proportioned in all its parts. The Christian's system of faith seemed, as presented by him, most beautiful to behold. Every one of unbiased mind was left at the close, a firmer and more intelligent believer. Mr. Smith has done much, very much for the whole Christian church. He has done far more than his most sanguine friends dared to expect. All looked for a masterly effort, but none could have anticipated so entire and decided a victory as this proves to be. He has by it clearly proved himself capable of great, and gigantic intellectual efforts. I have had many works on this subject, but I know of none embraced within the same compass of these lectures that can claim equality. You may think this too strong, but the truth is, Mr. Smith stands in this matter, far above my feeble eulogies. We all owe him a debt, a great debt, and as he wishes to publish a work as the result of this matter, I hope he will be liberally encouraged by all Christians of all names. He will receive a large subscription in this country. C. C. PRESTON.
From the Union Evangelist.
COLUMBUS, Miss., April, 1841.
DEAR SIR-Not having written you before since my departure for New Orleans, and having witnessed in the interval many things both upon land and water, you no doubt think that by this time, out of some of them I ought to be able to discharge, in part at least, the obligation under which I am brought to you for your kind letter received since I arrived here. Bi to leave minor things as subjects for conversation, when we shall meet again, I must take up this in letting you know something about the debate between the champion of Infidelity, (C. G. Olmsted,) and that noble defender of the Christian cause, our Mr. Smith; and here I can do little more than excite, without being able to gratify, your curiosity. Why, I ask, did you not attend? You have missed an intellectual feast, which nothing short of a volume containing the matter on the Christian side of the question can supply. Should such a work be published, which I hope will be done, I speak confidently, when I say, if estimated according to its worth, it will be read with more interest than any similar publication either of ancient or modern times.-I arrived here a week before the debate commenced, and have been a regular attendant, from the commencement to the close. Of the interest which the citizens of the place took in the discussion, you can the better judge, when I tell you that on the last, the nineteenth night of the debate, we had a good, we may say, a large audience.-It is true, there had been some falling off in the attendance for some time previous, but this is to be accounted for very easily. In the first place, the debate commenced during the session of one of the courts in this place, which had brought many persons to town from the country, and the church was crowded for some nights to overflowing, there being many who could not obtain seats; and for some time before the close, the audience had been disappointed in consequence of Mr. Olmsted not being able to debate, professing to be sick, which I have no reason to doubt, as he was evidently quite reduced, and was said, by a physician of the place, at one time to be out of his senses. And it was by no means strange that such should have been the case. For apart from any other cause of distraction, for a man of his intellect to stand in opposition to the flood of light and weight of argument which he did, both the mental and physical derange ment which he suffered, a candid Infidel himself might account for without being compelled to believe a miracle. To attempt to give you in the compass of a letter any account of the miserable sophistry by which he attempted to sustain his sinking cause, would be useless. However, in relation to one of his positions at the outset, "that Infidelity is nothing;" I doubt not that before the close, he felt that as much of a nothing as it was, that it had become to him positively very troublesome, and most of his Infidel friends of any discernment, I am persuaded, would much rather that nobody had had their boasted nothing to manage.
But that you may judge for yourself on this point, a short account of the close will be suffi cient. After Mr. Smith had closed his argument on the last night, and returned to the audi ence his thanks, Mr. Omsted rose and told the audience that he should occupy as much or more time than usual, but if there were any that wished to leave, he would not think hard of them doing so, but intimated that he expected the friends of truth only to remain. Whereupon the congregation in a crowd, with a few exceptions only, left the house, and to these, with a few others who dropped back from the crowd, the old man raved for a while and
A FAIR STATEMENT, AND IMPARTIAL EXAMINATION
LEADING OBJECTIONS URGED BY INFIDELS
ANTIQUITY, GENUINENESS, CREDIBILITY AND INSPIRATION
ENRICHED WITH COPIOUS EXTRACTS FROM LEARNED AUTHORS.
BY JAMES SMITH.
"If I have done well, and as is fitting the story, it is that which I desired; but if slenderly
and meanly, it is that which I could attain unto."-2 Macabees xv. 38.
"The Christian Faith,
To prove, examine, search, investigate;
And gave herself a light to see her by."-Pollock's Course of Time. B. iv
TWO VOLUMES IN ONE.
STEREOTYPED AND PUBLISHED BY J. A. JAMES.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1843,
In the Clerk's Office for the District Court of Kentucky.