“It is not the ordinary affairs of this life, the fleeting and transitory concerns of today or tomorrow; it is not whether we shall live all freeman, or die all slaves; it is not the momentary affairs of empire, or the evanescent charms of dominion – nay, indeed, all these are but the toys of childhood, the sportive excursions of youthful fancy, contrasted with the question, What is man? Whence came he? Whither does he go? Is he mortal or an immortal being? Is he doomed to spring up like the grass, bloom like a flower, drop his seed into the earth, and die forever? Is there no object of future hope? No God – no heaven – no exalted society to be known or enjoyed? Are all the great and illustrious men and women who have lived before we’re born, wasted and gone forever? After a few short days are fled, when the enjoyments and toils of life are over; when our relish for social enjoyment, and our desires for returning to the fountain of life are most acute, must we hang our heads and close our eyes in the desolating and appalling prospect of never opening them again, of never tasting the sweets for which a state of discipline and trial has so well fitted us? These are the awful and sublime merits of the question at issue. It is not what we shall eat, not what we shall drink, unless we shall be proved to be mere animals; but it is, shall we live or die forever? It is as beautifully expressed by a Christian poet –
Shall spring ever visit the mouldering urn?
Shall day ever dawn on the night of the grave?
- Alexander Campbell
Campbell-Owen Debate, p. 13