Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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PETTINGILL, John Hancock, theologian, born in Manchester, Vermont, 11 May, 1815; died in New Haven, Connecticut, 27 February, 1887. He was graduated at Yale in 1837, and subsequently at Union theological seminary, New York city. Until 1843 Mr. Pettingill was a professor in the Institution for the deaf and dumb in the latter city, but in that year he accepted a call to be pastor of a Congregational church at South Dennis, Massachusetts, where he remained until 1847. He was subsequently called to Essex and Westbrook, Connecticut, and Saxonville, Massachusetts, besides acting as district secretary of the American board of commissioners for foreign missions, residing in that capacity at Albany, New York, from 1852 till 1860. In 1856-'7 he visited the missions of the American board in Servia, Turkey, and Greece, and between 1866 and 1872 he travelled extensively over northern Europe in behalf of the American seamen's friend society, residing at Antwerp as its chaplain. During the prevalence of the cholera in 1866 he devoted much time to the care of the sick, and was publicly thanked by the Belgian government. On returning to this country, he resided for a time in New York city, afterward removing to Philadelphia, where the most of his books and essays were written. Mr. Pettingill was chiefly known as a writer on theological subjects, and as the original American advocate of what is known as conditional immortality, holding that only those who believe in Christ receive the gift of eternal life, and maintaining that this doctrine was held by the early Christian church until it was corrupted by Platonism. These views not meeting with recognition or acceptance, Mr. Pettingill suffered from financial embarrassment, religious persecution, and even social ostracism. He at first experienced great difficulty in getting his books printed, but lived to see them widely circulated They have been translated into German, Italian, and other European languages. In England their sale has been very large, and their author was there regarded as one of the brightest and most vigorous writers on his side of the controversy. At the time of his death Mr. Pettingill had a large following, and was in constant receipt of letters from friends and converts both in this country and in Europe Besides contributing largely to periodical literature, he wrote "The Homiletical Index," a reference-book for clergymen (New York, 1877); "The Theological Trilemma" (1878); "Platonism versus Christianity" and "Bible Terminology" (Philadelphia, 1881) ; "Life Everlasting" (1882); "The Unspeakable Gift " (Yarmouth, Maine, 1884) ; and "Views and Reviews in Eschatology" (1887).
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