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forced to repent," or words to that effect. Those men take that for granted which ought to be proved, viz. that punishment will give man a new nature, and make him love God who hates him in his heart! For this bold sentiment, they have neither Scripture, reason, nor example on their side :---they must also assume another absurd notion, viz. that the damned in hell cease to fin, and so cease to deserve punishment; but a departed fpirit is as capable of sinning, and as active in fin, as it would be in the body; and as it will be ever finning, it will deserve to be ever suffering : they must caft away the doctrine of atonement, as necessary to the remision of fin; for he that is perpetually finning cannot attone for the present offence by his past sufferings---justice cannot punish till after the crime is committed.
But the doctrine of a future state depends on divine revelation, and, consequently, the state of intelligent beings beyond the grave. No mode of argument can therefore be admitted on this subject, to overturn the clear revelation which God has given us in his word; when, therefore, our Lord represents that there is no passage between hell and heaven, in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, he contradicts the sentiment of those men. When it is said, “ As the tree falls so it lies, and as death leaves us, so judgment will find us---Their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched---They shall go into everlasting punishment--. He that is filthy, let him be filthy Still ;” with many other similar passages, what shall we say ? What! because the Restitution of all Things is mentioned once, muft we conclude that all things refer to and include the damned in hell ? Strange idea! when this general term in Scripture is generally used in referring to particular objects, even the people of God--- or in reference to a particular period of time, 'uch as the general spread of the gospel, &c. &c.
I acknowledge that the original word translated everlasting, fignifies ages; and for ever and ever, for ages and ages, and therefore of vague signification; but the sentiment of the eternity of hell torments must depend on the eternal existence of the finner, and his ever continuing to fin: he must continue to sin, except his nature and disposition be changed ; for he has no disposition to love God, and nothing but divine grace can give him a disposition to love God; for this is a change of nature that cannot be effected but by the power of a divine agency; and punishment will do nothing towards producing Ebis change. Cast a man into a prison for having hated and injured you, and see whether that will make him love and serve you.' It is a notion grounded in ignorance and opposition to the word of God.”
USES OF ELECTION. To the Editor of the Universalist's MiscellANY. · DEAR SIR, I HOPE the statement which I have given of the Scripture I doctrine of Election, and its connection with the Univerfal Restoration, will be admitted by the serious and impartial reader to be of great practical utility.
Election, as maintained by many of its advocates, has, I fear, been a stumbling-block to finners. Some have presumed that, if included in the chosen number, their salvation must be secure, let them act as they will; and that, if not of that number, they have supposed, not all they can do, not all the means they can make use of, can ever change an irreversible decree, which has excluded them from salvation, or prevent their ine. vitable damnation. I will do serious and pious Calvinists the justice to say, they have frequently laboured to guard their doctrine from such a construction; but the thing has been, and still must be, in many instances, impossible, as their statement thereof feems evidently to lead to such a conclufion. Its baneful infiu., ence has been counteracted where its adherents have been influenced by real piety, but no where else; and such counteraction is to be ascribed solely to the dispositions of individuals being better than their ideas. I trust the representation given in my letters compleatly sets aside the baneful conclusion to which Calvinian election is liable; for it goes directly to thew, that the elect cannot be made happy any further than they are obedient to God and useful to men; and that the non-elect are not excluded from salvation, or from the enjoyment of any blessing necessary to their happiness, by their non-elections but that, on the contrary, the door of salvation is kept open before them, and all the means of happiness afforded them, through the medium of the elect; that nothing can keep them from being saved and made completely happy, but their wilful rejection of the gospel, and continued rebellion against God. Does it not hence appear, that our views of election have greatly the advantage over Calvinian election in point of practical tendency?
Calvinian election has frequently operated as a discouragement to finners, when truly awakened and led to see their loft,
helpless, perishing condition. Conceiving that God loves only a chosen few---that Christ died only for them--that the gospel is intended to save none else---and, not being able to discover any evidence of their being of that number, they have been driven to the brink of despair, if not to desperation itself; when, had they been informed, that all the peculiar manifestations of divine love, the operations of distinguishing grace, and God's election of his people, are intended to open the way for him to manifest his love to all his creatures, and make the whole world happy, they would have been encouraged to hope in divine mercy, to look unto Jehovah for his salvation, instead of being discouraged thereby. The latter is the light in which I have endeavoured to place the subject; hence I conclude that my statement is calculated to be useful to sensible finners.
Calvinists and Arminians have never completely refuted, never can completely refute each other, so long as both remain on their present ground.---They are both right and both wrong. Before I was an universalist, I was convinced that ' there must be some medium between their different systems, When the Calvinist contends, that the love of God is, unchangeable--that all for whom Christ died shall be made happy ---that the countel of God shall stand, and all his gracious designs be carried into effect--- he has Scripture to support lim; and all his opponents, however acute their reasoning, cannot refute his positions. When the Arminian asserts, that God loves all mankind---that Christ died for the whole world.--and that the Most High desires the happiness of all his creatures--the lively Oracles afford such decisive evidence of the truth of his, pofitions, that all the arguments his opponents are masters of, however great logicians they may be, can never Yet them aside. But when the Calvinist contends, that the love of God, the universal creator and governor of the world, is restricted to a part of his creatures---that Chrift died for none but that part.--and that he who is good to all, and whose tender mercies are over all his works, never intended to make any others happy---reason revolts, Scripture furnishes evidence against him, and the Arminian will oppose him with success. And when the Arminian asserts, that the love of God may, change---that sinners are capable of extinguishing ito--that millions of those for whom Christ died, and whom God in. tended to make happy, will be endlessly milerable-..-right reafon cannot approve, Scripture protests against such ideas, and the Calvinist will triumph. This appearing to me to be the true state of the case, I conclude, that the long-continued con
versy, between the two parties, never can be so settled as for both to unite, with complete harmony, in the cause of Christ and human happiness, but by both receiving a more perfect fystem of truth, which shall comprise the leading doctrines of both.---- Such a system I think my letters calculated to promote; therefore I think my statement calculated to be of pract tical utility.
A professed unbeliever will be able to prove, that the s.stems of Calvin and Arninius are unworthy of that infinite wisdom, power, and goodness whereby the world was made and is governed. He will say, that a ivstem which represents the Father of the universe as loving and making provision for the happiness of only a part of his creatures, could never proceed from the God of infinite goodness. And he will say, that the oppolite system, which supposes him to love all, and design the bappiness of all, but that, after a few years, he will cease to love a considerable part of his creatures, and be baffled by them, and disappointed in his benevolent designs to all eternity, could never be communicated to men by him who is almighty and unchangeable: that if such be the doctrines of the Scrip. tures, they cannot be a divine revelation, because they convey unworthy ideas of the Supreme Being, either bounding his love or his power. Who can refute the unbeliever when he makes such assertions ? By what arguments can the glaring inconfiftences of either Calvinism or Arminianism be reconciled with the infinite wisdom, power, and goodness of God? The view which I have taken of the peculiar doctrines of the gorpel, their connection with, and subservience to, the designs of Infinite Goodness, I think is not at all liable to the above objection of unbelievers; upon the ground I have taken, we may boldly meet the opposers of revelation, face all their arguments, ror fear to engage in obviating all their objections.--- This is a matter of no small utility.
Calvinism carries an idea of selfishness upon the face of it, however generous many of its advocates may be. For a few men to suppose themselves the exclusive objects of divine love ---the only persons for whom Christ thought it worth his while to die. -that all the riches of divine grace are settled upon them for their exclusive emolument, looks much like a monopoly, claimed by a corporation as their private property. The tendency of such views of God and of his grace, is to sink the public in the private feeling---to bury the general interest in the private concern---to render indifferent to the happiness of others. Far different I conccive our views of election to
be; be;, for we conceive our being chosen, and all the favours bestowed upon us, not to be merely for our own emolument, but for the emolument of the whole creation ---that God hath blessed us in order to make us a blessing to others. Surely such a view of things must be calculated to stir up our minds to the greatest exertions for the good of others---to make us feel that our situations and all our enjoyments are a trust, to be improved and appropriated to the general benefit. '
The Arminian system is inefficient in its practical tendency, for it represents the wisdom, power, and love of God as too weak to carry into effect all his benevolent designs. According thereto he loves all his creatures for a time, and contrives to bring about their happiness ; but, meeting with con. tinual opposition from them, he at length gives up, lets his love to them die, takes no further steps to effect their happiness, leaves off to pursue their good, and configns them to their fate. Can such a view of the divine conduct be calculated to influ. ence the Christian never to cease'loving, or to give over feeking the happiness of all mankind ?
In treating the subject of election, I have considered God as never ceasing to love all his creatures, or to adopt such mea... sures as are best calculated to recover them to purity and happiness; and that he never will cease to carry on his benevolent plans until the whole creation be made pure and happy. Are not these considerations calculated to stimulate us to the greatest possible perseverance, the most incessant efforts, in doing good, whatever opposition we may meet with---to continue to love all men, however they may act.--never to be overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good?
Now the reader has the whole of what I intend saying on Election before him---I submit it to his consideration; and. remain, dear Sir,
Your brother and fellow-labourer in the gospel,
R. WRIGHT. JANUARY 9, 1799.
(See vol. ii. p. 219.) SIR, A S punitive justice ought never to proceed upon principles A of revenge, every kind of punishment attended with unneceffary severity will be found contrary to the end and deVOL. III.