Listen to the words of Alexander Campbell’s thoughts in a letter to a Mr. Clark on April 1, 1830. Campbell wrote,
“That all men err, and, consequently, you and I, is, as you say, a self-evident position, and it is one reason why I never dare impose my inferences and my reasonings and conclusions upon others as terms of Christian communion. Whatever is matter of fact, plain and incontrovertible testimony, in that, and that alone, in which we cannot err-and that only should be made a term of communion. Our safety is in an unerring rule. By that let us walk; and if in any thing we should be otherwise minded, God will teach us, by our own experience, what we fail to learn from precept.
You ask me for a confession of my feelings, or propose such questions to me as call for an examination of the motives or influences which governed me in many pieces which I have published. No it would be saying too much, for one who has been so roughly and so savagely used by many, under the cloak of religion, to say that I have never felt angry, or set down aught in a spirit incompatible with the gospel. But without conceding the right which any person may claim to bring me to confession, and without boasting of my motives and feelings, I will say, that they have been, if not universally, very generally, of the most benevolent and charitable character. Always in benevolence, but not always in the spirit of christian love, have I written. Let me explain. Some person who have slandered and abused me, I do not love as christians. For as soon would I call the highwayman who had attacked me on the road, a christian, as some persons who have aspersed me. I feel, I think, towards them, as Paul felt towards Alexander the coppersmith. But yet there is not one of them for whose reformation and salvation I could not pray. And if it were in my power to reward them good for evil, I should rejoice in the opportunity. But when they appear as religious instructors and advocates of sound doctrine, I must not, I dare not, and I will not spare them. If I were writing my last essay, and about to lay down my pen forever, and they were the theme, I do not think that I would write in a different spirit, or speak in a different style of such persons. I differ, perhaps, in sentiment from you and many of my brethren, in what consists a christian spirit, a charitable spirit. John the Immerser, the Saviour of the World, and the Holy Apostles are my models in this, as in many respects. To a generation of vipers, to a fox-like Herod, to Scribes and Pharisees who tithed mint, anise, and dill, and neglected a righteousness, mercy, and the love of God; of such men as the false teacher in Corinth, the judaizers in Galatia, and the false teachers mentioned by Peter and Jude; of such man as Hymeneus, Philetus, Alexander, and Diotrophes, I would speak as the New Testament speakers have spoken. And still I would become all things to all men, that by all means I might save some. Such is my christian spirit.”