« PreviousContinue »
thing," it must be considered, at least, as an unne"cessary thing." The most intelligent of the Universalists are fully aware of this, and have therefore, very prudently, taken sanctuary in Socinianism.
The author has endeavoured to leave the immoral no alternative betwixt conversion and a "fearful looking "for of judgment and fiery indignation." He seriously wishes such to weigh well what is advanced, and, perhaps, they will see that even the infinite love and mercy of God is not to be called into question, should they, by rejecting the grace offered in the Gospel, render themselves eternally wretched. It is hoped that such a view of things may have a happy influence upon their minds, and lead them to improve the present day of their visitation, so as to ensure present and eternal happiness. Should this be the case in a single instance, he will think himself amply compensated for the time and labour which he has devoted to this subject. He is, however, too well acquainted with the prejudices of mankind, in favour of schemes which are not very rigid in their exactions on the score of morality, to expect that many will be reclaimed who have given their assent to the system here opposed. His great aim has been to preserve the serious Christian from falling into, what he considers, a very dangerous error.
The arguments which prove the endless duration of future punishment, are here brought forward sparingly, as that subject is nearly exhausted by Messrs. Taylor, Fuller, and Jerram; whose valuable writings merit the most serious and attentive perusal.
There is not a class of writers who talk more about candour, charity, and liberality, or who discover less of these Christian graces, than the Universalists.
Weaver, after expressing his disapprobation of Mr. Huntington's asperity, proceeds to call him, "The sur"geon, the butcher, the raving sinner."* He is not less ceremonious with his other adversaries. One is called "a snarling cynic," and another " a flippant fop." Without presuming to justify Mr. H., it is very natural to inquire, whether he has not as much right to deal in hard words as Mr. W.? Will an Universalist pretend, that other denominations of Christians have not an equal right with himself to think freely upon religious subjects, and to embrace those sentiments which appear to them to be most conformable to divine truth? If he will not, he ought not to blame them for believing that the doctrine of Universal Restoration is an erroneous and dangerous system. It seems that the candour and liberality of the Universalists consists in attaching little or no importance to articles of faith and modes of worship. All who come up to this standard, receive the fraternal embrace; but such as think differently, are stigmatized as bigots. There is certainly such a thing as being bigoted against those who are considered as bigots. And are those who indulge this spirit more to be commended than the bigots whom they condemn? No, in nowise.
Mr. Wright" presumes," he tells us, "that the editor "of the Theological Magazine is one of those mistaken "good men who rejoice in the ungodlike doctrine of end"less misery." Must a man rejoice in every doctrine which he believes to be true? Then Mr. Wright rejoices in the doctrine, that many millions of his fellow-creatures will be tormented in hell for an age. But Mr. Wright calls him one of the good men! and then ascribes
* Free Thoughts, preface, p. 17.
+ Examination of Ryland's Sermon, p. 6.
to him dispositions, which, for malignity, can only just be equalled by those of devils!
Mr. Vidler too affirms, that "the leading men, both among Calvinists and Arminians, are doing every thing "which interest, connexion, favour, or frowns can do, "to prevent the threatening evil,-to stop the progress of "the Universal doctrine."* It must be remarked, that this charge is altogether unsupported by evidence. The leading men are selected out of those two bodies of Christians for Mr. V. to spit his venom at. It is-but language does not furnish a name for so vile a calumny. Let Mr. V. go and learn what that Scripture meaneth, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Mr. Samuel Bradburn is charged with saying that "the "Universalists put hell-fire in the place of the blood of "Christ." This produced a letter from Mr. V., addressed to Mr. S. Bradburn, and all the Methodist preachers in England. As none of them honoured it with their notice, Mr. V. makes an ostentatious triumph in the advertisement of his reply to Mr. Fisher. The contents of Mr. V.'s letter are unknown to the author of this work. He did not so much as know that such a letter had been written, till he saw Mr. V. exulting in victory; and he then understood from an Universalist bookseller, that it was out of print. Should Mr. V. publish a new edition of his letter, he is desired to take notice of the following proof of Mr. Bradburn's assertion : Mr. Winchester, when speaking on the effects produced by different degrees of punishment, illustrates the subject by relating the case of a Mr. M., who underwent a severe flogging when he served in the army. "When "he first began to feel the lash," says Mr. W. " he was
* Winchester's Dialogues, Editor's preface, p. 11, 4th edition.
"exceedingly enraged. But before he had received half "his punishment, he saw clearly that they had acted right. "He was entirely cured of all his rage, from which he "was as much freed by his punishment, as ever an effect "was produced by a cause. This I think is an ar
gument ad hominem; and I think it must be admitted, "that although a certain degree of punishment will in"flame, harden, and enrage, yet farther degrees produce "quite contrary effects."* If men are as fully cured of their bad tempers by punishment, as ever an effect was produced by a cause, it may be demanded, in the name of common sense, how the blood of Christ can be concerned in the cure?
In the following work, much is said about the liberty of moral agents. It is not pretended, however, that men are free by nature to choose good, since this power was lost by the fall. Its restoration is ascribed to the grace of God through Jesus Christ, and hence the whole glory of man's redemption is as fully secured to the Divine Redeemer by the advocates for moral liberty, as it can be by the abettors of the doctrine of necessity.t
It may not be amiss to remark here a late distinction between Salvation and Restoration. Mr. Wright considers this as a matter of "no small importance," and
* Dialogues, pp. 163, 164. 4th edition.
"When a man loses a limb or an eye, or is wounded in any mortal "part, he cannot have that limb restored, or be recovered, but by a mira"cle; and the same will hold as to the spiritual functions; when they are "lost or disabled, only he that gave them can restore them. Now this the "Holy Scriptures and the Catholic church have taught us to be the case of "the will of man in its corrupted state as to spiritual objects, and there"fore the effectual interposition of God's power to restore man, is the
Christian doctrine. But though the restoring the faculty to its former "state, be the immediate work of God's Spirit, yet the acts performed by "that restored faculty are man's, and he is free in the exerting of them." King's Origin of Evil, Law's Note, pp. 408, 409. 2d edition.
charges Dr. Ryland with " unfairness," and with "chang"ing the terms of the question," for not attending to it.* According to this distinction, the saved are preserved from going down into the pit, and the restored are delivered out of it. Mr. W. demands,-" Why are the advocates for "Universal Restoration charged with maintaining Univer"sal Salvation?" The answer is-because they do maintain it in their writings. See Winchester's Dialogues, preface, p. 7.-"UNIVERSAL SALVATION," says he, "is an antidote to all these evils," &c. If they choose to give it up, they must give up, also, all those texts which relate to the salvation of sinners, such as 1 Tim. ii. 3, 4.—iv. 10. as affording no aid to their cause; and then the controversy will be brought within a much nar→ rower compass.†
It may be necessary for the reader to know how strong his faith must be in order to believe the doctrine of the Restoration. Mr. Winchester, in his sermon on Philip. iii. 20, observes, "It requires a vastly stronger faith to "believe this important truth firmly upon the divine au"thority, than any one in the Bible; and therefore I do "not wonder that many good people who have faith "enough to trust their souls in the hands of Jesus, and "to believe that he will fulfil all his promises in their behalf, both as to soul and body, for this life and that
* Examination, p. 28.
Mr. Winchester, in his Dialogues, p. 101, renders 1 Tim. ii. 3, 4, thus: "God our Restorer, who will have all men to be restored." Now, since the apostle uses the plural pronoun of the first person in this passage, (μev, our, or of us,) if we interpret it according to Mr. Wright's distinction, we must suppose that both Paul and Timothy would be adjudged to hell for a time and if all men are to be restored, (and the Universalists will admit of no conditions here, nor of a restricted sense of the word,) then all men must be sent to hell: for none are said to be restored, according to their phraseology, but those who have endured future punish