Dabney, Robert

Robert dabney



Works (Incomplete)

Systematic Theology, HTML  Buy  1878, 924 pages

A standard systematic theology.  One of the few by a southern presbyterian.

Discussions  Buy  1890, compiled by Dabney’s friend, C.R. Vaughan, who wrote the 12 page biography of Dabney at the beginning of the volume.  This is the unedited version.  The Banner of Truth edition is heavily edited.

vol. 1 – Theological and Evangelical, 721 pages

vol. 2 – Evangelical and Theological, 690 pages

vol. 3 – Philosophical, 603 pages 

vol. 4 – Secular, 692 pages

vol. 5 – Miscellaneous Writings, 619 pages


Books  (10)

A Defence of Virginia: and Through, Her of the South,  Buy  1867, 356 pages

The most thorough Biblical defense of slavery.  Dabney also gives the history of the rise of the slave trade (which he condemns, Virginia being the first state to outlaw it on Biblical grounds), the legal origins of slavery in America, as well as the history of emancipation in the states. 

Christ Our Penal Substitute, HTML,  Buy  11 chapters, 115 pages

A defense of the legal nature of the atonement based in justice for punishing sins, and Christ being a substitute for his people.

The Christian Sabbath: its Nature, Design and Proper Observance, 1882, 112 pages, here is an HTML version.  This book is also in his Discussions, vol. 1, p. 496-550

The Five Points of Calvinism, HTML, indexed by each point,  Buy

A defense of Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of the Saints

Life and Campaigns of Lieut.-Gen. Thomas J. Jackson (Stonewall Jackson),  Buy  1866, 742 pages

A classic biography of a Southern general of the Confederate States of America who was remarkable for his devout godliness, unswerving character and Calvinistic convictions.  Stonewall said, “My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed.”  

A Memorial of the Christian Life and Character of Francis S. Sampson, D.D., 1855, 122 pages

Fiction, No Defence of Truth: or a Review of “Theodosia Ernest; or the Heroine of the Faith”, 1859, 166 pages, Theodosia Ernest was a current popular fictional novel among many where the main story revolved around the baptist convictions of the heroine.  Here is Dabney’s review of it.

The Practical Philosophy: being the philosophy of the feelings, of the will, and of the consience, with the ascertainment of particular rights and duties,  Buy  1897, 365 pages, unfortunately there is no table of contents, though there is an index at the beginning

This is Dabney’s systematic exposition of ethics.  

Sacred Rhetoric: A Course of Lectures on Preaching, HTML  Buy  1870, 361 pages

A classic textbook on preaching, specifically on how to prepare, build and deliver sermons.

The Sensualistic Philosophy of the Nineteenth Century Considered,  Buy  1875, 369 pages

Here is Dabney’s major interaction with the popular philosophies (or “worldviews” in contemporary language) of his day.  See here for a review.


Chapters from Books 

(Every chapter of his Systematic Theology is indexed and online here)

God’s Indiscriminate Proposals of Mercy, as Related to His Power, Wisdom, and SincerityHTML, 1890, from his Discussions, vol. 1, p. 282, 30 pages

On the Theory of Evolution, chapters 6 and 9 of The Sensualistic Philosophy,  Buy  1875, p. 107 and p. 165, 23 and 43 pages respectively


Articles  (10)

Against Musical Instruments in Public Worship, HTML, 1849/1888, includes a Review of Dr. John L. Girardeau’s Instrumental Music in Public Worship

Dabney was one of the last American presbyterian stalwarts that upheld the majority historic reformed view against using musical instruments in the worship of God, as instruments were minutely regulated by God’s express command in scripture and inherently tied to the OT temple administration which is now done away with.

The Attractions of Popery, HTML, 1894

The Changes Proposed in our Book of Discipline, HTML, 1859, 48 pages

Christ our Substitute, HTML, no date, 4 pages, published by the Presbyterian Committee of Publication, Richmond, VA. 

From The Seventh Day To The First: A Brief Look At The History Of The Sabbath Day vs. The Lord’s Day, HTML, no date

Why do we worship on the first day of the week instead of the seventh?  Because scripture requires it.  Read this to learn more. 

Lay Preaching, 1876, 19 pages

This is largely a critique of Dwight L. Moody’s advocation and arguments for lay-preaching with its attendant man-centered methods

A Memorial of Lieut. Colonel John T. Thornton, of the Third Virginian Cavalry, C.S.A., 1864, 28 pages

The Public Preaching of Women, HTML, 1879, from the The Southern Presbyterian Review for October 

The argument against women preaching

What is a Call to the Ministry? no date or source info

Are you called to the Ministry?  Read this to find out.

What is Christian Union?  HTML, from the Central Presbyterian, May 11 & 18, 1870 

The principles upon which Christians churches should unite and remain separate.


Discourses and Speeches

A Speech against the Ecclesiastical Equality of Negro Preachers in our Church and their Right to Rule over White Christians, 1867, 16 pages

For the other side of the argument, from a southern white pastor of black slaves, urging their capacity to rule as elders, see John L. Girardeau’s Our Ecclesiastical Relations to Freedmen, 1867.  Girardeau’s position came to prevail and was enacted within a few years.

The New South: A Discourse, 1883, 28 pages

True Courage: a Discourse Commemorative of Lieut. General Thomas J. Jackson, Lk. 12:4,5, 1863, 36 pages, with a Sketch of the Life of Lieut. Gen. T.J. Jackson as an Appendix, 6 pages



Broad Churchism, 2 Tim. 1:13 and Titus 1:9, 1871

Against loose subscription to the Westminster Standards. 

The Christian Soldier: a Sermon Commemorative of the Death of Abram C. Carrington, 2 Sam. 10:12, 1863, 20 pages


Related  (5)

A Critical Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews,  Buy  1856, 509 pages, by Francis S. Sampson (1814-1854), edited by Robert Dabney, with a 10 page preface by Dabney.  Sampson was a colleague professor at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia with Dabney.  Dabney published this manuscript after Sampson’s death, greatly valuing its worth. 

The Life and Letters of Robert Lewis Dabney,  Buy  1903, 575 pages, by Thomas C. Johnson

The standard biography of Robert Dabney, by his friend T.C. Johnson.

A Review of R.L. Dabney’s Sensualistic Philosophy, HTML, 2006, by Lauren S. Bottomly

Robert Lewis Dabney, 1820-1898, HTML, 1998, by Michael Kimmitt, a Banner of Truth article

Sketch of the Dabneys of Virginia: With Some of Their Family Records,  Buy  1888, 197 pages, by William H. Dabney