The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2


IX. “Fringe” Writers Complicate the Controversy

Several “fringe” writers, moreover, appeared during this century. Among the rationalists there was French-born PIERRE BAYLE (1647-1706), professor of philosophy at the Protestant University of Sedan, and after its suppression and his removal, similarly professor of philosophy at Rotterdam. In his celebrated six-volume Dictionaire historique et critique (1695-1697)—which ran through eight editions in forty years, and was twice translated into English—in various places he opposes the doctrine of eternal torment, 42 but from a skeptical viewpoint. Its publication added fuel to the spreading flame. CFF2 241.3

Then there was the learned professor HENRY DODWELL (1641-1711), Irish-English classicist and theologian, educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He was made professor of ancient history at Oxford in 1688. His voluminous and “cumbrous” writings included An Epistolary Discourse (1706). This curious treatise sustained some of the principles of Conditionalism, but on a sacramentarian basis, supposing immortality to be a grace conferred by the effusion of the Holy Spirit, in baptism, and that none have the power of bestowing this immortalizing grace except the bishops. Its issuance created a storm of opposition and intensified the controversy, but it was defended by several writers. So the issues were complicated by certain of these “fringe” writers, not claimed by the Conditionalists. CFF2 242.1

Such was the situation at the close of the eighteenth century. CFF2 242.2

No.PageNameDatePlaceReligionPositionNature of ManIntermediate StatePunishment of Wicked
1205Blackburne, Fran.1765EnglandAnglicanArchdeacon — historianImmort. through res.Unconsciousness
2214Priestley, Joseph1777-82England — U.S.DissenterScientist — theologianOnly mortalAbs. insensibility
3218Watts, Isaac1740EnglandIndependentHymnist — theologianSubject to total deathUtter destruction
4221Warburton, Wm.1738EnglandAnglicanBp.— controvert.No eternal torment
5224Whiston, Wm.1740EnglandBaptistProfessor — minister(Mortal)Utter, ultimate destruction
6227Hallett, Jos. Jr.1729EnglandNon—Conform.MinisterImmort. only thru ChristSleep
7228Anonymous1729England(Mortal)Total unconsciousness
8230Scott, Joseph N.1743EnglandDissenterPhysician — theologianImmort. righteous onlyUltimate annihilation
9231Law, Edmund1745EnglandAnglicanBishop — prof.Immort. through res.Unconscious sleep
10234Peckard, Peter156EnglandAnglicanEd. — rectorNo innate immort.Sleeping
11236Bourn, Samuel1758-60EnglandDissenterMinisterImmort. gift of GodTotal extinction
12239Pitts, John11708EnglandAnglicanPresbyterDesigned for immort.
13239Jackson, John1735-47EnglandAnglicanRectorNo innate immort.No independ. exist.
14240Leland, John1691-1766EnglandNon-Conform.Minister — writerImmort. thru Christ
15240Dawson, Benjamin1765EnglandPresbyterian — AnglicanPhilologist — ministerAsleep in death
16240Alexander, John1766EnglandPresbyterianMin. — comment.Mortal
17240Clarke, George1792EnglandImmort. for righteousDestruction by fire
18240Kenrick, Wm.1751IrelandNot immortal
19240Marsom, John1794EnglandDestruction
20241Tottie, John1772EnglandAnglicanArchdeaconNo innate immort.
21241“Goadby’s Bible”1759EnglandDestruction
22241Bayle, Pierre1695-97France — HollandProtestantProf. — hist.Denies eternal torment
23242Dodwell, Henry1706Ireland — EnglandHigh ChurchProf.No innate immort.
(Universalism slowly takes on a separate entity as a distinct church.)


There is no particular transition point discernible in passing from the seventeenth to the eighteenth century. But there is a growing seriousness and scholarly validity that marks the overall witness of the new century. The scene is again centered chiefly in England—with one noted advocate migrating to the United States about the time of the Revolution of 1776.

T’he religious spread is again seen to be between Anglican, Dissenter, Baptist, Non-Conformist, and Presbyterian spokesmen. “Fringe” writers, who both help and hamper, are found in France, Holland, and Ireland. The stature of the champions of Conditionalism is again clearly seen by the roster—archdeacons, historians, theologians, clergymen, hymnists, scientists, educators, physicians, commentators, schoolmasters, teachers, and two bishops—and an anonymous Anglican.

Again there is balanced stress of the mortality of the soul, unconsciousness in death, and the total ultimate extinction of the wicked. And for the first time a reliable scholarly history appears, by Francis Blackburne, of the conflict over Conditionalism—tracing it from the beginning of Protestantism up to 1772, a century and a half of the crucial years of the recovery of a hidden and well-nigh abandoned doctrine, so far as the Middle Ages are concerned.

So Conditionalism is now in a far stronger position, is accorded much greater respect by its foes, and is gradually but steadily on the increase influence and adherents in the eighteenth century. It is approaching the acceleration point in the nineteenth century.

Thus much for Conditionalism in the eighteenth century.