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A course of LETTERS on the Subject of UNIVARSAL SALVATION, to a Friend who de sired Information; and who afterwards, up on being convinced of its Truth, and making Confession of it, met with strange Usage, and Ill-Treatment for it.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
I HEARTILY rejoiced to find you was not disheartened at the strange treatment you met with, for embracing the grace and hope of the gospel, in its fullest and utmost extent. It sat isfies me you have been taught it of God; but it gave me a poor idea of your opposers. Your former persecutors were from the world; but now they have been from the church.
'Twas easy to foresee, how they would re ceive, and conceive of you, if they had heard nothing of the doctrine before; and yet one should wonder (if any thing was to be wondered at in fallen man) that such a doctrine as this, for which you have been so lately opposed, should not rather have rejoiced, than have given um brage and offence upon first hearing of it. Bu I also, in a measure, find it, as you have found it, and therefore can more readily sympathiz with you.
As men's minds in general, are little prepared for it at present, it becomes us to guard the doctrine, as well as to speak of it; and to observe, that something very severe, awful and lasting, is meant by the miseries that will come upon the wicked, in another state. That in proportion as they sin, they will suffer; and if they can, and will venture to sin, that such grace as this may abound towards them, they will find, to their no small mortification, that their misery and wretchedness will abound also: and the duration thereof, be measured hereby, in the just and equitable judgment of God. If this does not restrain them, it is not likely the doctrine of eternal torments will. This has been, and is still, the current doctrine of this, and of all past ages of the church; and yet, how many have lived and died in sin, notwithstanding. 'Tis because they do not believe either one or the other, if they sin; not because they do. It is a doctrine, like the other doctrines of grace, liable to abuse; and it is to be feared, many base ears, and corrupt hearts, will abuse it, and sin, because such grace and love doth abound. But, what then? Must it be stifled, and given up, on this account? so then, must the Bible itself; for this is abused by multitudes. The real truth is, let but the doctrine of Universal Salvation, be scripturally stated, and well understood, and not according to men's carnal views and apprehensions of it, upon first sight and hearing; and it will not prove a licentious doctrine, but a doctrine according to godliness. Those that will sin, because God is merciful,
and will not punish them forever, deserve to be punished, as long as he pleases, for abusing such love and goodness; and they will surely find it This is the law, and the testimony of God. And having premiseḍ this, I would now give, what I apprehend to be a true and scripture state of the case.
The fallen angels, we are told, (Jude 6.) are reserved in everlasting (or, according to the original, unknown) chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day. How much longer, is not specified; nor indeed was there any occasion.. Long enough, to answer the end of their confinement and restoration. The following verse intimates, it will not be endless; for, like Sodom and Gomorrah, they are set forth for an example, which one time or other must cease, and be no more, as having no end to answer; and, like Sodom also, must return to their former estate. Ezek. xvi. 55. Both will suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. (But eternal does not mean endless.) But fallen men is our principal, and more interesting con
All mankind then, fell in Adam; and all man. kind are restored in Christ: that is, the redemption, ransom price, is paid for them all. The whole human race are the purchase of his blood. This, I think, appears from 2 Cor. v. 14, 15.-1 Tim. ii. 6.--Heb. ii. 9. and many other places in scripture. Some, indeed, still imagine Christ's blood will have no saving ef fects respecting many; but it cannot well be will finally lose his purchase, tho'
he may, for a while, suffer it to fall into other bands.-Redemption and Salvation, seem connected in scripture; nor can I think, they will forever be unconnected in reality. Universal Salvation appears to be scriptural, and the mindand will of God concerning us; but in his own way and time, and agreeable to his own consti tution of things. As mistakes are made in this matter, and the best minds are apt to err about it, I would state it more particlarly, and correctly; and shew first, what I dot not mean by it-and secondly, what I do.
1st. Then, I do not mean, a mere act of mercy, or indemnity in God; as though he had, or would freely and fully pardon and forgive the sinner, and receive him to favor and happiness, without something more.. Some think, and talk strangely here, and have exposed the doctrine to contempt, except to libertine minds. They have supposed, that a sinner dying in his sins, and rising again, shall in virtue of a sovereign act of grace, and of the offering of Christ, once offered, be admitted immediately to favor and life, without any change of heart, or heav enly disposition of mind. But this is both antiscriptural and dangerous, and not the truth of this matter, as it is in Jesus. Sin is a disease and infection of nature, as well as an offence against God; and therefore must be removed and destroyed, as well as pardoned and forgiven. Re mission removes the guilt, but not the being. and power of sin. However it be atoned by the blood of Christ; and however, tain sense, all mankind may be cons
the eye of the law, and justice, as clear, and jus tified before God; yet, as pertaining to the con science of the sinner, it is unremitted and except it be forgiven there, as well as here, there is no peace: nothing but uneasiness, fear, and distress; or else, a stupid ignorance, and hardness of heart. Unless the conscience be purged from dead works, and the heart purified by the blood of sprinkling, we cannot serve the living God, in a lively way, nor with a quiet mind. To do this scripturally and acceptably, there must be no more conscience of sins. Forgetting this, many have run into blunders and mistakes, and some into wildness and extrava gance, supposing they were serving God, when it was only themselves. Sin, satan, and the world, they were serving with divers lusts and pleasures.
To be happy and comfortable in mind, there must be peace in ourselves, as well as with God; and till it comes to this, we shall have no enjoyment of our privileges, but live and die as careless, senseless, and ignorant, as though there was no Saviour or salvation to be had. But it is not only justification and forgiveness, and a consciousness thereof; a new heart and spirit, is also needful. Mere absolution without this, might make us not miserable; but who can rejoice, and be sensibly happy long, that has not a new nature, and the same mind and spirit in him, that was also in Christ Jesus? It is not a bare act of grace, or absolvency, that I mean by either present or future salvation: nor is it salvation only in part, life and happiness for a sea