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to time. In the mean while we stand firm in this part of the word and counsel of God, as we have received it we will be faithful to the light of it, as far as it has broke in upon us-thankful to our God, for his indulgent, condescending goodness, in letting us into it-and modest and humble in all our defences of it, with our brethren and fellow-creatures looking to our live ing and triumphant Head. In whom I am affectionately yours,
L E T T E R III,
Wherein some Objections to it are considered, and
MY DEAR FRIEND,
I WAS pleased to find my two last had their
weight with you, and have answered a valuable · purpose. This noble and generous view of the
gosple-grace and mercy, you are learning from a higher hand than mine, and will be taught it from a better pen ; because you wait at the feet of Jesus, make his Word your counselor and guide, and are asking his teaching Spirit.
It gives me little trouble to find that you have still your difficulties, and are not without your doubis concerning it. No one truth of the gosel comes, at first, with full assurance to the iind ; much less, such a doctrine as this.
Objections, not a few, arise, you say, in the way of it.
Your own mind suggests a great many; and your opponents have furnished you with more. This all, is for trial and confirmation ; not meant to discourage your pursuit. Take heart and courage from it. The first you mention, and lay stress upon,
is the Novelty of it; its so recently coming to light, at least to your knowledge. "If this be a Scripture truth (say.you) how comes it so few are acquainted with it? I have never heard of it till lately; it never struck me as a Bible-doctrine -nor have others spoke of it as such.” To this I reply-Many think well of it, who speak but little concerning it; and numbers believe it, who do not confess it.--Experience, of late, has shewn this. The apostles and prophets all taught it; and some fathers of the Church have maintained it. But a vail came over it, and it was almost stifled in the birth, through one cause or other ; but has revived, as dead flies in their season. This, and all truths, have their rise, progress and perfection, and many times an irregular growth. This is one of those truths. But it is no argument against it : a plea rather in its favor. Things that are now known, were once hidden and concealed in the womb of Na. ture, Providence, and Grace. The herbs and trees, that are now in sight, where once in their seed only, and under ground. Animals, and other visible creatures, were once in embryo, and invisible. Children lay 'silent in the womb, before they existed in the world; and slept long in their cradles, and at their mother's
breasts, before they came into active, stirring life. Clear and striking providences, were once obscure and dark; and what is now a glaring truth, was once a mysterious thing. Secret things come in time to be revealed ; and bidilen things of darkness, come into open light. This is Divine appointment; the constituted plan of God': and which opens itself by degrees, as we are able to receive it; but not all at once. It is no conclusive reason, then, against the truth of Universal Salvation, to say, Why not sooner manifested and made universally known? Were this of force, the Jews are not blinded, or to blame ; for in this manner they argue to this day, against the doctrine of the Messiah, or Christ being come in the flesh. They saw him in none of the rites, ceremonies, types, figures, or prophecies of their law. He is not yet come, according to them ; nor is this great and revealed truth any article of their present belief: and yet we know it to be true. In this manner also did, and do they still argue, against the coming of the Gentiles. Though declared and prophesied of, they saw it not a long while, and so opposed and objected to it. And yet, it is a truth, we well know, and rejoice in. In the same manner argue the Deists, and infidels of all ages, against the whole of Divine Revelation. Why not sooner revealed, and made known, if Christ were the Saviour of mankind ? or, Why so little known, now he is revealed, if that be a truth, as you say ? --- The truth is ; as we can hear it, the light breaks in, and shines upon us. If the natural sun was to rise all at once to our
view, it would dazzle and confound us. So is it with the Sun of Righteousness. and nations, are capable of receiving the whole truth, and the brightest beams of this glorious light of life, they usually are favored with it; and are first civilized ; then externally reformed ; and afterwards renewed, and made internally holy. And this is one reason why some see it to be only partial Redemption and Sulvation—others, general Redemption, but partial Salvation and others, Universal Redemption and Salvation too. Even among those who are come to this full view of the Gospel. Salvation, some are forwarder than others in that view, and are established therein by degrees only. It is the appointed way of God then, and most suitable to the present state of man, that the light of this, as well as other truths of the gospel, should shine out, in full lustre, by degrees. And this I offer in reply to your first objection.
You next say—“The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost seems against it.” We read (Mark m. 29.) He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, hath never forgiveness ; but is in danger of eternal damnation." This, indeed, seems formidable, and, at first sight, unanswerable ; but different answers may be made of it, consistent with Universal Restoration,
1st. If it is to stand as we have it in English, and the blasphemer is never to be forgiven ; he niust then endure the full punishment that is due to it, and so have no need of forgiveness. In that sense, it is never forgiven; because the threatning, in such case, has been executed, and
sustained by the blasphemer. But this, så
say you, is eternal damnation ; and he has not en dured that. If by eternal damnation, should be meant any thing short of endless misery ; secular or temporary wretchedness ; misery only for a time, for the age of the ages, or for ages of ages, as the original will bear; having endured this, he may be said to have suffered éternal damnation. And this is one reply..-But,
2dly. Another answer is this-The translation of this verse is neither literal nor true. In the Greek, it lies literally thus..." He that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost, hath not for givness to the age (that is, to the next age of period, the Millennium age) but is obnoxious, or stands bound over, to the age of judgment.” How different this from the present version! Never is not found in the original ; nor eternal damnation, in a strict and endless sense ; but in a lower and qualified one ; as it is taken 1 Cor. xi. 29. and would have been more truly and properly rendered, cateth and drinketh judgment to liimself. And froni the parallel place in St. Matth. xii. 32. where the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is again spoken of, the literal sense is this---" He that shall speak against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him ; but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not he forgiven him, neither in this age, nor the fu ture coming one." How it came to be transia
ted this world, and the world to come, is some what strange ; as it is well known the word Kosmos, iš the Greek for world; not Aiow. This latter word signifies age not world, and