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my first love, I have only to say, that old Adam has been too strong for young Melancthon.”
I mean not by this to damp the fire of your philanthrophy ; much less to quench the flame of your zeal, and of universal love in you. Let it burn, with all the glow and ardor it can.There is fuel enough to feed it : cross enough to be consumed by it. I only mean to hint, that corruption and depravity in the heart of man,
, is the cause in general, why this, and every oth er doctrine of
grace, is so hardly received by him. And having premised this, let me now attempt an answer to your request; and men. tion some of those things that seem the probable reasons why so many are for partial, and 50 few, at present, for Universal salvation.
The grace of God, when it operates and prevails, and is not wilfully slighted and wickedly opposed, subdues, and makes its way, and carries all, as it were, before it : and more of this is given, many times, than is cordially received and complied with. This then, must not be spoken of as any bindering cause at ail in this matter.
But first, Many are not Universalists, by reason of the IGRORANCE that is in them. "Universal Salvation has been so little known and at. tended to, that, like the doctrine of the Resur. rection; when first. preached by St. Paul to the Athenians, it is bringing a new and strange thing to their ears. Some have never heard of it at all: and those who have, it was in so short, dark, and confused a way, that they were little on nothing the better for it. It came to them
either in the mystic or scholastic stile, (which few only understand and are benefited by)-or else, it was so unscripturally stated and spoken of so contrary to Common-sense & Reason, as to be quite unintelligible to them. The doctrine, of course, lay in darkness and mystery, and they remained as ignorant of it as though it had been unrevealed ; and averse to it on that account. Besides, it stands connected with other doctrines, which some have little or no acquaintance with ; as, the Return and Conversion of the Jews--the Personal Appearance and Temporal Reign of Christ upon Earth--with unfulfilled Prophecy ; the understanding must be enlightened, and the judgment informed, of these and other things, before ever we can expect a hearty falling-in with this doctrine. Iga norance then, is one reason why so few at pre: sent embrace it.
Prejudice and the habit of thinking otherwises is another. -Most people are brought up in the belief of the doctrine of Endless Misery: It is their cradle-faith ; their infant-creed; what they drink in with their mother's milk. As soon as they are capable of reading or hearing for themselves, they find it the doctrine of their books, and the subject of their pulpits. Preachers and writers are in this faith : and, except. ing a few, who have dared to think for them. selves, it has been the current opinion of all generations; the received doctrine of all visible churches ; and what has the sanction both of ral and traditional Revelation. A matter then, o long and deeply impressed ; so generally
taught and inculcated ; and so universally received ; has all the force and authority of Custom on its side, every prejudice in its favor, and will plead prescription. It is no wonder then, the contrary belief should with such difficulty find its way, be so hard of digestion, and meet with no easier access to the minds and judgments of the generality, even of Christian professors. A habit of thinking, is as hard to get rid of as a habit of drinking, or any other bad habit we have contracted : Like a mighty torrent, it breaks through all opposition, and yields to nothing but superior force ; and not even to that without turbulence, noise, and murmuring. - Where the belief of Universal Salvation has obtained—where it has got over its first difficulties, and made its way, in some measure, into the heart and judgment of any—it is not immediately a settled point with such persons ; but ebbs, and goes back again, many times, before it comes to this. It is an opinion only, for some time, before it is an Article of Faith ; "and has many a struggle and debate, before it gets seated in the mind, and becomies a fixed principle.
The Israelites of old were for going back again to Egypt, though they had escaped from her bondage, anci were in the right road to Canaan, the land of promise; saying, from the force of custom, " It was better with us then, than now." So is it with some Universalists, at first coming into the view : they have been so used to think otherwise, and find such inwarc as well as outward opposition, in going forward in their faith ; that they halt many a time ; and are al
most ready sometimes, to give up the march,and the point.
If these then, are thus harrassed, through prejudice of Education, and former habits of thinking ; how great must be the influence in those, who are not at all in the persuasion and belief of it! Prepossession and Custom, accounts for this. --Origen, in his defence of Christianity, against Celsus, has the following striking passage : “Such is the
power of prejudice, and the love of opposition, that it often happens, we cannot discern the most apparent truths, and are loth to endure the shame which attends a recantation of those false and dangerous principles we have once embraced; and I think, it is every jot as easy, to leave any bad habit we have unhappily contracted, though it be as it were rooted in our very nature, as to leave the Opinions which we formerly held; and which were very dear and familiar to us. " It is well known, we do with a kind of secret re. luctance, forsake those houses, cities, and vil. lages, which by our long and delightful continwance in and have rendered themselves familiar, and even natural, to us.'
Others again' do not see the latitude of the gespel salvation, through constitutional fear, and diffidence. No masters of the subject, and slow, perhaps, of conception, and apprehension, (even when evidence is given) they are fearful of themselves ; jealous, lest they should be imposed upon by others; and frighted at the thought of consequences, if they should ; and sinking under these frights & fears, they are hard of access upon the point; and so decline, rather than attend
ta it. Being children in understanding, they act as such ; and, in this respect, but slowly become men. They have no material objection to this doctrine; are no enemies to it; never deny it ; nay, think and speak well of it, as worthy of God, and acceptable to men, if true : but here they stick ; their fear is greater than their faith : and therefore they receive it not with joy. They do not oppose it; but neither do they enbrace it, so as openly to confess it. They are fearful, and that is all they can say. - It is this, and not enmity, that shuts out their firm and steady belief of it. And it is a sort of fear, that is both pitiable and pardonable, in them, (tho’not in others) as it cleaves to,and over-powers them, in most other things. It suffices, perhaps, that such as these live in the spirit and love of this truth, without being concerned in the defence of it. Others, of stronger faith, and more natural and acquired courage, are the proper
advocates for it.
We meet again with some, who in general fall in with this belief ; but through an indolent and slothful spirit, have no heart to pursue the enquiry : if others will do it for them, it is well : but they are careless, and indifferent about it themselves, & so remain sceptics,rather than believers of it: It may or may not be so ; it seems all one to them; they are at ease about it. But this is culpable ; this is reproveable ; and what has stopped many in their spiritual growth and improvement. Diligence and activity are here needful ; and those who will not be at the pains and trouble to search it out, are likely to be