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not what he delights in. Sinners would have no strokes hereafter, if in this life, they so heard the rod, and who had appointed it, as to return to him that smites them. But dying here incorrigible, they meet with it hereafter, and must have stroke upon stroke, till they yield, and willingly submit themselves. If final extinction were God's design, how easy for him, hav.. ing got them in their graves, to keep the wicked there. It is hardly consistent with his known revealed character and will, to suppose he would bring vast numbers of intelligent creatures into being-preserve them in well-being --make provision for their future welfare and salvation-foresee, after all, they would miss of it-and yet make no provision for this. If it magnifies the grace of God to save any, not. withstanding all the difficulties, obstacles, and dangers, that are found in the way of it; much more to save all. If the power, wisdom, and goodness of God are eminently seen and displayed in rescuing some sinners, now in this life, from all the virulence, inveteracy, and deep malignity of their sins, and so to kill and crucify these as to save those alive; how much more are these perfections manifested, on the supposition he both can and will, in due time and order, when justice has had its course, so destroy and remove all sin out of all his works, that every sinner shall be restored, and all the cuilty world of angels and men, shall be brought 2 such subjection to the Father of spirits, as live !
This most certainly ennobles our idea of God, as an amiable Being ! & is more likely to gain our present attention and affection to him, than all the representations of him in his justice, boli. ness, majesty, and greatness ; though these all have their use, and are highly serviceable, in reducing rebels to their allegiance.----Mercy is the darling attribute of the Deity, and is said to rejoice against judgment. And if in this life, why not in that which is to come? It is no where said, the judgment-seat of Christ is a seat of judgment, without mercy, even to the wicked. It will be said, perhaps, that annibilation, or perdition, is this mercy to them. Comparatively, it would be so, if endless extinction were the truth; as non-existence is better than miserable existence, if it is never to have an end. But besides this being negative mercy only, and not any thing positive, or of happiness in it; we must reverse Scripture, in many places, to admit annihilation true. Upon his own sense of Scripture-expression, the Extinctionist loses his
He agrees the word cverlasting, when applied to the future punishment of the wicked, is to be taken in a strict and endless sense. When they are said to arise to shame, and everlasting contempt, it cannot be strictly true respecting themselves ; if the greatest part of their future punishment consist in utter silence, insensibility, and oblivion. For where is there any shame and contempt but what they previously undergo, if they are extinct, and brought to nothing, in the sense these persons contend for? It cannot therefore be everlasting, if they suppose it respects
themselves.--Perdition and destruction then, as respecting the future state of the wicked,can only be taken in a qualified sense ; there may be Restoration beyond it : And that there will, has been attempted, and I hope proved, in former Letters. Let me now conclude this with observing, that though God in the dispensation of his grace
in Christ Jesus, may and doth, and will see fit, to make a difference in the objects of it, both in the first and after-fruits thereof; though he has, does, and means to distinguish many, at least, till the Son give up the kingdom to the Father; yet it does not appear, either from Reason or Scripture, that it is his purpose ever to extinguish any. Influenced by this belief, it becomes us to live and act under the power of it. Be it then our great care, concern and endeavor, to gain all we can to God by Christ, now in this present life; and to pity, mourn over, and plead for those who will not let us : hoping when other and future methods have been tried with them, they may bow both the knee and the neck, and join in the universal song to God and the Lamb, withont ceasing, and without end.--In view of it, I remain, as ever, Your's
L E T T E R VII:
Wherein some Reasons are given why it is not,
at present, a generally-received Doctrine.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
You tell me in your last, that from mature thought and deliberation, and the good hand of God
upon you, you are now brought to believe that all intellectual beings will finally be restored, and come into favor and friendship with God again, through their great Principal and Head, Jesus Christ, and be delivered from all the sad and evil conseqences of their apostacy and rebellion. This you are now satisfied is the truth; having Humanity, Right, Reason, and Revelation on its side.
What at present engages your pen is, to know the likely reason why others do not more readily come into it. You meet with many, you say, who are so far from this, that they oppose, and even persecute you for so doing. This part of your request, I must confess, I enter upon with reluctance ; being sensible some may possibly be pained by it. But as this may prove profitable in the end; as your satisfaction and further confirmation, and the delicacy due to Truth, seem to require it; I will freely and faithfully, and with all the tenderness I am master of,grat-ify you in this respect : hoping none will be
personally offended, as none will be personally mentioned.
The Reasons and Causes then, of this blindness and aversion, appear to me to be many ; arising not from one source only, but from several. The Receivers, as well as the Rejecters of this doctrine, are in some measure to blame; and both of them the occasion of this complaint. I mean to enumerate particulars, and make them the substance of this and some following Letters. But first, let me observe, you do well to be patient and forbearing towards those you converse with; not expecting too much of them at once. This is God's way: He could,at once, subdue all things to himself, and bring every rebellious creature to his foot in an instant. But he does not he will not-it is not his plan, or his way. No more should it be ours.--He is long-suffering, gentle, and forbearing : We also should be patient towards all men.-We were the gradual subjects of this grace ourselves : Why then should we be precipitate, and suppose others must be sudden ones?
Phillip Melancthon, under his first impressions of Divine Truth, was so warm and sanguine, that he said to a friend" Give me but footing, and under God, I will convert the 'whole world.” After twenty years labor and experience, his reply was as follows:-" It is true, I have had some success in the Lord's vineyard ; I have been happily instrumental in bringing a few sheep back again to the fold :but respecting the rest, and the confidence I once expressed for them, under the ardors of