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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Joseph Plimsoll   21 October 1867

Exmouth. | 8 Bicton Place

Octr. 21. 1867.

Dear Sir

Feeling, as I do, deeply solicitous for the salvation of your immortal soul, I hope you will pardon the liberty I have thus taken in addressing, by letter, one with whom I have not the honour and the privilege of a personal acquaintance, but for whose great intellectual powers and reputation I entertain a profound respect—and also bear with me, whilst in this brief epistle, I endeavour to bring before your notice those momentous considerations which should move us all to be anxious to become reconciled unto God, and to secure His love and favour, in time, and throughout eternity—and also to state the means which Heaven in its infinite grace, wisdom, and condescension, has instituted for the realization, by fallen man, of those great ends of human existence.

In the first place, then, dear Sir, I beg to submit, respectfully, to your consideration, and serious ponderings—that most welcome and soul-rejoicing declaration of Holy Writ—“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”1 Will you not at once, dear Sir, without a moment’s delay—for who knoweth what a day may bring forth!—avail yourself of this most gracious promissory mandate? Will you not hasten to the throne of grace, and entreat the Author and Finisher of our faith (even the Lord Jesus Christ—the Saviour of the world—the Redeemer of fallen humanity—and respecting whose saving power—nay essentialness to salvation—his apostles have affirmed—“there is no other name given under heaven among men whereby we can be saved, but the name of the only begotten Son of God”—)2 to grant to you this saving faith in Him? True faith is the gift of Heaven. Man can no more beget it in himself—(in his own heart—for it is “with the heart”, and not the intellect, merely, “that man believeth unto righteousness”—)3 than he can create a universe. Mere intellectual faith—or historic faith, as it is sometimes called—that is, the assent of the understanding, only, to the truths of Holy Writ, and a belief in, and avowal (when a man wishes to be considered orthodox in his theology,) of their authenticity and divine origin, may be engendered by the reasoning powers alone. This however, is not the kind of faith that will issue in the procurement of the divine forgiveness, approval, love, and adoption of the subject of such belief into the redeemed and truly filial family of God. Plead earnestly, then, I beseech you, for the bestowment upon you of this holy, heaven-begotten, and heaven-securing faith. Have you not every reason to hope that such a petition will be granted you by an all-merciful and benevolent God? Has not the Saviour himself said—“Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name he will give it you”?4 Think, dear Sir, of the stupendous and inestimably-blessed issues of such a boon—as it respects its influence on your eternal destiny—should it be vouchsafed to you, in answer to your earnest and importunate prayers! Is it nothing—or a matter of but small moment—to become the possessor of a divinely implanted principle of spiritual, moral, and intellectual operation in the soul—which will insure for its recipient the assurance—of deliverance from obnoxiousness to the divine wrath—of escape from the condemnation of the eternal judge of quick and dead, and consequent consignment of the condemned to the realms of everlasting woe—even to the gnawings of that worm which dieth not, and to the flames of that fire which never can be quenched?

Is not this assurance—the assurance of such an awful doom being averted from us—worth praying for? Then what is? “For who”—as the prophet Jeremiah asks—“Who can dwell with everlasting burnings?”.5 And is it nothing, to enjoy, throughout this mortal life, the conviction—and a well-founded one—that in the last Great Day, when we shall all be assembled before the “Great White Throne”6 of the dread Arbiter of our eternal destiny,—before Him, who, on that awful occasion will pronounce our doom (and execute it too) to endless destruction, or our exaltation to the glories and blessedness of the realms of holiness, life, peace, and joy—that the latter adjudication will be our blissful and glorious portion? And will not this be worth praying for?… Is it a consciousness of guilt that deters you from entertaining the hope that the Almighty will graciously answer you, should you present yourself as a petitioner at his footstool, and ask Him to impart to you such a transcendent blessing—that consciousness of guilt which all the sons and daughters of Adam must experience, when the soul is in a state of healthful moral sensibility; since all mankind have shared hitherto, and will continue so to do, till the end of time, in that inheritance of sinfulness which has descended to them from our first parents, as the primal transgressors of the divine laws—and whereby they have been actuated, during life, in their thoughts, desires, purposes, aspirations, and conduct—for “there is none”, as the Word of God saith, “that doeth good and sinneth not”?7 If so—if you are the subject of such a consciousness, and that to a great and very distressing degree—then, for the relief of your sin-burdened spirit, I beg still further to quote the language of Inspiration, and for your peace and comfort, to convey to you, through this letter, the all-important and incontrovertible announcements that “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin”8—that “God so loved the world, as to give his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life”9—that “it is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”10—that “whosoever cometh unto Him he will in no wise cast out”11—that “He came to seek and to save them that are lost”12—that He is “the friend of sinners”13—that He came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance”14—that He came not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved”.15 What more can fallen, rebellious man require more than this to be animated by hope of salvation, if he comply with the requirements of the gospel—or rather requirement—for it is belief alone that is required? Since, dear Sir, it is appointed unto men once to die, and after death the judgment;16 since we shall all have to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to answer for the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or whether they be evil; and since it has been affirmed by Him who cannot lie, that to those on the right hand of the Almighty Saviour, will be addressed the invitation—‘Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’17—whilst to those on his left he will say—Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels”18— are you not looking forward with the deepest anxiety to that eventful last Assize, and with the most intense desire that its decisions may be in your favour, and that through faith in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ you may on that day win the favourable notice, forgiveness, and commendation of the Lord God Almighty?.

I am, Sir | Yours sincerely— | J. Plimsoll | M.D


Acts 16:31.
See John 3:18.
Rom. 10:10.
John 16:23.
See Isa. 33:14.
Rev. 20:11.
See Eccles. 7:20.
1 John 1:7.
John 3:16.
1 Tim. 1:15.
See John 6:37.
See Luke 19:10.
See Matt. 11:19, Luke 7:34.
Luke 5:32.
See John 3:17.
See Heb. 9:27.
Matt. 25:34.
Matt. 25:41.


Seeks to save CD’s soul.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Plimsoll
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 174: 51
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5655,” accessed on 7 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15