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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Joseph Plimsoll   17 December 1867

Exmouth. | 8 Bicton Place

Decr. 17. 1867

Dear Sir

I hope you will pardon my importunity—in pressing on your notice the claims of Eternity and Salvation1—prompted as that importunity is by a deep solicitude for your soul’s deliverance from a state of unbelief—(most perilous to its everlasting well-being; security, and happiness)—in the revelations contained in the Word of God, respecting the world’s, and man’s creation—the being and attributes of Jehovah—and His purposes of mercy and grace to our race, through the sacrifice and death of His beloved Son—our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I am anxious to know, dear Sir, if you have yet surrendered your heart to the demands of infinite love and grace—as manifested in the incarnation, sufferings, and sin-atoning blood, of the world’s Redeemer, and as verbally expressed in the command of the Apostles of Him, who is “the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of His person”2—“ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”.3 Have you yet obeyed the injunction—“Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled, but a little,— blessed are all they who put their trust in Him”—4 “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy Him for ever”—5 “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thine heart, and mind, and soul, and strength”6

Are you thus fulfilling the great design of your creation, and of your being endowed with the attributes of an intelligent and immortal nature? Has not the thought of the Saviour dying on the cross of Calvary to atone for your sins, and to reconcile you to God, produced any softening and penitence-engendering influence on your mind and heart? Cannot you yet say, whilst contemplating that self-immolation of a spotless, innocent, and ineffably-holy, as well as a compassionate and most philanthropic being—thus dying that you might live—enduring the penalty due to the violation of God’s laws, by man, in order that you and others may be delivered from the curse denounced against human transgression, and the hell of torment to which it will inevitably conduct you—(and which will be eternal in its duration),—unless you believe the gospel of Christ—exercise repentance towards God, and faith in the atonement made by the blood-shedding and death of His Son;— I ask—cannot you yet say, after contemplating the terrible price which was thus paid for your ransom from everlasting death and woe—and in virtue of your belief and trust in which,—as the means of your obtaining the divine pardon, acceptance, and favour—the offer of eternal salvation is so freely and graciously made to you—“the love of Christ constraineth me”?7 If not—then, hard, and unbelieving, indeed, must your heart be! May the almighty Spirit of God—in his infinite mercy and love to poor, perishing man—break that hard-heartedness, and destroy the enmity of your carnal mind against God,—through His omnipotent and resistless might. This is His blessed province;—His sole prerogative. May He exercise it in your behalf—and thus magnify the riches of His goodness, and the glory of His almightiness, by making you willing in the day of His power—even as He did, by the awakening—sin-convincing—and soul-converting power He displayed, in making Saul of Tarsus8—the previously fierce, and blood-thirsty persecutor of the infant church—a new creature in Christ Jesus. Yes! blessed thought! He can convert your soul, as well as that of Saul’s—and make you—as He did that illustrious man—a sincere, zealous, and devoted servant of the Lord Jesus Christ; can make you a powerful champion, and a worthy exponent of that faith, which by your “development theory”9—you have been endeavouring to sap the foundations of—; can effect in your heart, and life, and prospects, aims, and influence on your fellow men, as marvellous a transformation as that wrought in the disciple of Gamaliel,10 when from being a cruel persecutor of the Church, a bitter enemy of the doctrines of the Cross, and to Him, whose death gives to the Cross all its glory, and a labourer to stifle, at its birth, the religion of the Man of Nazareth—he became a chosen vessel of mercy to a lost and ruined world—the great Apostle of the Gentiles—the tender, and loving foster-parent of the infant Church—and one of the holiest, and most devoted servants of the living God.

That you, in like manner, may undergo the spiritual change, in which true conversion to God consists—and show forth the praises of Him who has thus called you out of nature’s darkness into God’s marvellous light, and made you a new creature by faith in Christ Jesus, and caused you to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory—is—dear Sir, the sincere wish and fervent prayer of Yours faithfully | J. Plimsoll | M.D. R.N.


See Heb. 1:3.
Acts 16:31.
Ps. 2:12.
The quotation is from ‘Man’s chief end’, the first chapter of A body of practical divinity (London, 1692) by Thomas Watson.
See Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27.
See 2 Cor. 5:14.
Saul was the name used by the apostle Paul before his conversion to Christianity (see Acts 13:9); Tarsus, now in southern Turkey, was his birthplace (Columbia gazetteer of the world).
On the development theory, see the letter from Joseph Plimsoll, 3 December 1867 and n. 13.
The apostle Paul had been educated by the teacher Gamaliel prior to his conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 22).


Columbia gazetteer of the world: The Columbia gazetteer of the world. Edited by Saul B. Cohen. 3 vols. New York: Columbia University Press. 1998.


A sermon.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Plimsoll
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 174: 54
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5732,” accessed on 26 June 2022,

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