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the tempests of the storm ; while the one, which was built upon the sand (or the vanities of this . world) fell, and " Great was the fall of it.” Thus we may see the importance of building our faith upon a good foundation ; and the folly of contending about the form of religion, whilst we neglect the power. The foolish virgins had lamps as well as the wise, but being destitute of oil (or grace in their hearts) their lamps (or outward forms of religion), could do them no, good.
It cannot be expected, at this day, while so much darkness, superstition and tradition pre. vail in the land, that all will be brought to think exactly alike, in regard to matters of religion ; yet I cannot see why we may not have the freedom, to enjoy our own opinions, and worship God according to the dictates of our own consciences, with a free volition to believe the scriptures, according as we may understand them, from time to time and also to alter our opinions, whenever light makes it manifest to our understandings, that we have embraced an error, respecting things past, present, or to come. I would not be understood, that by this freedom, any one ought to be allowed, under a notion of re. ligion, to disturb the peace of society, violate the laws of the land, or in any way molest another, in his person or property ; for, “ A good man, out of the good treasure of the heart;bringeth forth good things." Mat. xii. 35. And if a man's conduct is evil, we have a right to believe, that his heart is so too; for, " The tree is known by its fruit ;” and, “Out of the
abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh."
VARIOUS have been the ideas, in regard to a future state ; some have denied its existence; and have supposed that the soul is begotten or created with the body, and as the bo dy increases in strength, the powers and facul. ties of the soul, or those intellectual faculties, are similar, until they come to maturity ;, then, as the body grows weak and feeble, the intel. lectual faculties decline, until both go to disso. lution together, the one to corruption, and the other to annihilation : But this islea is not very prevalent. The greater part of mankind be lieve in a future state of existence, and a state of rewards and punishments. This appears to be a general idea, even among the Heathens, or those who have nothing but the dim light of nature (as some term it, but rather the secret whisperings of the Spirit of Trutb) to direct them.
But notwithstanding this being a general idea, that the righteous shall be rewarded, or saved, and the wicked punished, or condemned; yet alas ! how many different opinions there are respecting the glorious plan of salvation, and the extensibility and duration of the sufferings of the wicked ;. even among those who live under the light of the gospel, and profess to be christians.. Yet they all profess to believe the scriptures, and will appeal to CHRIST, as the only foundation and chief corner stone,on which they place all their hopes of salvation.
I might here go on to speak more particular. larly of some of the different sentiments and de.
nominations ; but they are so numerous,and so well known, that I shall not trouble my readers with them ; but shall pass over the whole, by just observing, that notwithstanding they all may contain some truths, yet I believe it must be granted, and in due time will be made to ap
idea falls short of the whole truth, which leaves any beings, who were brought into existence by the almighty power of God, to rue their existence in endless woe and misery ! where they will continually breathe out curses and blasphemous oaths against their Creator, or else sink down in eternal despair !* Oh, surprising grace, and boundless love! which is shed abroad in Jesus CHRIST ! not to save us in our sins, but from our sins ! " If we confess and forsake our sins, he is faithful and just, to for.. give us our sins, and to cleanse us from all und righteousness.” And the gospel containeth the light which will cause us to repent of our sins, and sorrow for them after a godly sorrow.. Christ is the true light, “ That lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” Who can help mourning for sin, when they behold this light ? By this light, we gain a knowledge of the LORD, “Whom, to know aright, is ETERNAL LIFE! already begun in the soul.” And wherever the Lord hath begun a good work, he will surely carry it on to perfection. « The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” ir As. I live saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.”
* I would here note, that I believed these ideas for several years before I ever made them public ; and finally I' covenanted with, and joined a Baptist Church (as there was no Universal Society near, and I saw nothing in the way, but what I could travel with them in fellowship) for I viewed it to be a privilege to be under the watchful care of some church or other. But when I began to preach, my sentimients began to be more publicly known. But they created a wound in the breasts of my brethren that I did not expect. But not to mention all the trials which I have experienced and passed thro'on this account, I finally concluded that I must only hold the doctrine as a private sentiment, of my own, and I would say but a little about it, rather than to lay a stumbling block; or do any thing whereby my brother should be offended But some of my brethren were unwilling to let me have the privilege to enjoy my own opinion (unless I could think as they did), and therefore stirred up the minds of the breth. ren, until they saw fit to admonish me for holding,to what they cal. led, erroneous principles. I considered myself to be in such union with them, that I could not help feeling a regret ;. to think it must be broken, in any way whatsoever ; but I now feel to bless. God that they dealt with me as they did ; for it has not broken the union on my part, but it has set me at perfect liberty; and I now feel to be in union with every follower of CHRIST, of every denomination under heayen.
It cannot be expected, that a finite being, while here in the flesh, will ever be able to see through the Divine Plan, so as to remove every
doubt and obstacle from the mind; and if it could be comprehended by man,language would be too feeble to set forth in full splendor, the glorious and sublime system of Divinity. It was planned in infinite wisdom, and nothing short of the Spirit of God, is able to communicate it to the understanding of man. No wonder St. Paul (when he was in CHRIST, caught
into paradise, or the third heaven) heard unspeakable words, which was not lawful for a man to utter. How could they be uttered by man, when they were unspeakable ?
But shall we, because we cannot comprehend the whole system, and see all at once its beauty and barmony, never try to gain any spiritual
Knowledge of it? No, let us search the scriptures daily, and compare spiritual things with spiritual, and pray to God for light and understanding, lay ing aside all prejudice, and traditions of men, so that we may be enabled to obtain the plain tenor and meaning of the word of God; and in this way we shall grow in faith, and in the knowledge of the truth, and travel on from one degree of grace to another, until we arrive at the perfect man in Christ Jesus.
I Have thought of late, that I never should attempt to vindicate the doctrine of Universal Salvation, nor any other principle whatever ; but only to proclaim the glad news of salvation, in and thro’a glorious Mediator, and to set forth the danger of living in the paths of sin, and the blessings that were promised to those who pursued a contrary course of virtue and piety. But seeing the doctrine very much abused by many; some preaching the principle (being charmed, as it were with the pleasing sound of the name) without leading people into the true theory of it, and without teaching men the necessity of breaking off their sins by righteousness, and their iniquities by turning unto the Lord, in order to enjoy Chrisi, as their Saviour; while others, by being prejudiced against it, have treated it with contempt, as though it was a very heinous and licentious doctrine : therefore, I feel constrained to declare the whole truth as it is in Jesus, according as I understand the scriptures.
And considering my youth and inferior abilities, in knowledge and grace, I knew of no