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follows: None of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. If men will indulge themselves in sin, and do that which is forbidden them ; by this very means, they darken their minds, and harden their hearts, and indispose themselves from being more divinely taught. Sampson lost his eyes, and his strength,
Women and wine, and new wine, take away the heart, says the prophet Hosea.Nay, if these or any other vices, are persisted in, they so enervate and weaken both body and mind, as to bring on callousness and a seared conscience; pitch darkness, and a train of the most deadly evils. The light of the body is the eye, says our Lord : if therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light; but if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness : and if the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! Sen. suality, and the voluptuous life, therefore, are great and prevailing reasons Universal Salva. tion is so little relished and understood. This seems strange to some, who think and say
Voluptuaries, and the ungodly multitude, would be the first to receive and defend it: it is a doctrine suited to their carnal appetites and pas. sions ; what soothes, and bolsters them up in their sins, and rivets on their chains.: how can they be averse to it? It must be pleasing, and acceptable to them.” They are not averse to the sound of it, nor to the thing itself, if they might have it their own way: nor are they blind to it, as a doctrine. But, when a churge of Ecart is annexed to it; and an alteration of spir
it, way, and life, is to be an essential part of that salvation ; and no coming at it, but through sufferings, pain, and death, even the second death, (remaining as they are,) they have no more discernment in, or liking to it, than others.
Oh! say some, so long as they shall be saved at last, they will run the hazard of all this : and so long as it is not endless death, and endless misery, they will not care for any thing short of this. This is answering for others, without first speaking to them ; and knowing how God will check, and rebuke, and controul them, if they dare be so hardy and presumptuous : it is taking for granted limited punishments will have no restraining weight and effect, when it is known to have the most : it is making the benevolence and goodwill of God, with his patience, long-suffering and forbearance, all motives to sin ; and the sinner void even of love to himself, and of com
In short, it is random talk altogether, and not the clear, sober, and well-digested reasoning of a good understanding and of a sound mind. If there be such an one to be found, who can argue and reason in this manner, it is easy to see he feedeth on ashes : a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he can. not deliver his soul; nor say, is there not a lie in my right hand ?
Notwithstanding then, all the windings and turnings ; all the shufilings and pretences; all the colorings and false reasonings, of the wicked; or the jealousy, and over-anxious concern their friends and well-wishers seem to have for them ; it must be maintained, that if the; grit
any hurt by the doctrine of Universal Salvation, it begins and ends with themselves ; and known wilful, and avoidable sin, has been their ruin : 110t ibat doctrine. Pious, upright, and spiritual. ly good men, hold with, and believe this univer. sal view of God's grace ; but they are not hurt by it : nor would others, if it was not for the wickedness of their hearts, which they indulge, and give way to. Get then, but these changed, and the doctrine may remain as it is, sound and good. Here lies the error and blame, and not in the tenet. Let none then 'stumble at it, on this account." In judging of the truth of sobriety of religion, (says a sensible and judicious writer) the question ought not to be, What is it, as exemplified by its professors ? but, What is it, as contained in the Revelation of God?"But we may go a step further, and say, others do heartily embrace and rejoice in this doctrine, because they do not act up to the light they have, when they might and could, through the grace of God that is with them. Now this may be the case, without being sensual. There is the neglect and omission of what is right, as well as the practice and commission of what is wrong; and the former will cloud the understanding and dim the spiritual sight, as well as the latter,-- We are not only to keep
faith, but a good conscience also ; which, if we put away, we may make shipwreck of the faith, or truth, we have alreaday in some measure received. They must go hand in hand ; or faith,be it ever so sound and catholic, will dwindlie by degrees, until at length it evaporate and die, leaving melancholy conse
FRANCIS SPIRA, thus once addressed his friends that were around him: " Learn all of me, to take heed of severing faith and obedience. I taught justification by faith, but neglected obedience; and therefore is this befallen me.”-Some, who have got a little insight into this doctrine, and have begun to see univcrsally, not acting up to the light as it shonc in upon them, and adorning this doctrine of God their Saviour ; it lessened to their view ; grew weaker and dimmer, and in time went out again. They were taken, like some fishes, by the head only ; but fell from the gospel.net, through something of greater weight, that dragged them back again. ---No. gross or notorious sin, at first ; but carelessness, riegligence, and want of watchfulness; and this, by degrees. darkened their minds, and stopt their continued enquiries into this truth ; and now they seem to have no pleasure or satisfaction in thinking or speaking about it ; nay, even begin to suppose it an error. To sin openly and avowedly upon it, they have not dared ; but secretly, and by little and little ; in the same way, they have fallen : and by little and little have given it up; and all for want of being more diligent and faithful, in the practice and discharge of those things, which, as disciples of Jesus, were incumbent on them. What with this, and those other evils of the heart and mind I have before mentioned, advantage has been taken by Satan, that grand adversary of all truth ; and by it he has blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest this full light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ
should shine unto them. He is a watchful adversary, and loses no opportunity of deceiving and beguiling us. He works by our ignorance, pride, and unbelief : by our sloths and all the feshly, worldly spirit that is in us. By giving way to all or any of these things, we give him a power over us, which he had not before, nor could have without it. He has hid the whole gospel from some, by means of these things: what wonder then he should attempt to veil this doctrine of it, from the eyes of men !-Out of Zion hath God shined, and in full lustre, where this doctrine is maintained in her. well therefore be called, the perfection of beauty, (Psalm, l. 2.) But as envy is attendant on beauty, wherever else it is found ; so it is here. Satan envies the church this love, this smile, this charm in her countenance ; and fain would cast a veil over it. He has succeeded too long and too often, by means of the near-sightedness of some, & the bard-heartedness of others : and this I mention as one main reason Universal Salvation is not more generally received yet.. And now, (blessed be God !) there are some, after all, who have and do, cordially believe and heartily rejoice, in this noble and generous view of the grace
mercy of the gospel : (the reasons of which I mean to give you in another letter or two.) They have not taken it upon trusi; they have examined, and found it true': to be from heaven, and not of men. They have seen through the objections to it; they have owned and confessed it, in the face of its opposers ; and some have suffered loss and reproach soon