Andover Theological Seminary

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Andover Theological Seminary

[Lysander Spooner, (unsigned)]

This Institution seems to be fast losing its grip on Tophet. All its original theological capital, and virtually also all its financial capital, were invested in a bottom mortgage on the infernal regions. This mortgage was to be a perpetual one; the interest only to be paid; and this was to be paid only in board, lodgings, and brimstone for such sinners as the Institution should see fit to send there. At the time this arrangement was entered into, the Institution claimed the prerogative, as God’s vicegerent, of sending sinners to Tophet in very large numbers; and that, too, whether the sinners themselves consented to go there, or not. So long as the right of the Institution to do this was undisputed, both its theological and financial prosperity was satisfactory to its proprietors. But of late years the sinners have been coming to the conclusion that they have rights to a voice in the matter; and most of them have actually decided that they will not go there at all. The result is that the quarters set apart for the damned are nearly all vacant; and consequently the mortgage, which the Institution holds on the premises, is rapidly becoming worthless. We think the holders of the mortgage would to-day be glad to realize ten per cent., perhaps even five per cent., on their original investment. In evident dismay at their prospects for the future, they are now trying to reduce the temperature of the place so as to make it more comfortable—or, rather, less uncomfortable—for the sinners, for whose residence they originally designed it. They seem to imagine that they can thus save the place from utter depopulation. But in this we think they are mistaken. The truth is, that the concern has got a bad name among those for whom it was intended. In other words, sinners, as a class, are sick of Andover, its theology, its penal colony, and all its belongings. Its brimstone stench has disgusted them. And people who have no desire to burn even their fingers—to say nothing of burning their souls—have no inducements to make their home in Tophet, under any change of climate which its proprietors may be able to effect. In fact, sulphur stocks of all kinds are a drug in all the theological markets, with no prospect of ever being again in demand. We therefore advise the holders of the Andover mortgage to give the Devil a quit-claim of the premises, and leave him in full possession of his dominions. He seems to be the only one who will ever have any further use for them. Nevertheless, he would not be the greatest gainer by the trans. action. The priests themselves would be the greatest gainers, for they would then have less inducements to make asses and hypocrites of themselves; and might perhaps in time become sensible and honest men. If such should be the result, who will ever say again that miracles are impossible?

  • Lysander Spooner, “Andover Theological Seminary,” Liberty 1, no. 20 (May 13, 1882): 2-3.