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Stackhouse was born. This doctrine, Sir, cannot be overthrown by fair arguments; and it is remarkable enough, that in all the attempts made to refute it, feldom or ever is any effort made to invalidate those reasons brought for its support.
It is also remarkable, that ministers in general misrepresent the Universal doctrine, both in public and private--ras though they were determined to prejudice the minds of their hearers against it, and by that means stop its progress. This minister's letter affords me an instance of misrepresentation. He says, « Those men take that for granted which ought to be proved, viz. that punishment will give a man a new nature, and make him love God, who hates him in his heart.” Now, fo far from taking, I think the Universalists, to an individual, will say« We will not have it at all.” In what part of Mr. Winchester's works is this sentence to be found? No where. How is it that our author makes such a charge? What can we expect froin a man, who pretends to refute a doctrine which he understands no more about, than that it « includes the falvation of devils and damned spirits? It is true, we have neither Scripture, reason, nor example on our fide for such a sentiment as this; and therefore we must send it back again to him who presented us with it: but, at the same time, we think our selves bound to contend for that which the Scripture declares, viz. “ And he that fat upon the throne said, Behold, I create all things new.”
But we are told, we must affuine another absurd notion, viz. * That the damned in heli ceale to fin, and so cease to deserve punishment.” The latter part of the sentence is a consequence of the former.--if the damned in hell cease to fin, then they will cease to deserve punishment; but they will not cease to fin, therefore they will not cease to deserve punishment. This, I think, is our author's argument. That a departed spirit is ca. pable of sinning, I do not dispute; but that it is As capable and AS ACTIVE in fin, as it would be in the body, I must deny. The sins of inebriety, debauchery, avarice, &c. seem to be peculiar to this preient state. A departed fpirit, therefore, is so far from being active in these sins, that it appears it is not even capable of committing them at all.
This man takes that for granted which ought to be proved, viz. that a wicked departed fpirit will never cease to fin. For this bold sentiment he has neither Scripture, reason, nor example on his fide; and yet this is his foundation for the eternity of hell torrents. “ I acknowledge (says he) 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 lin.”
Thus the original ground of the controversy is given up, and the sentiment of eternal torments is placed upon a foundation less striking, and equally false. But this minister says, It is absurd to suppose the damned in hell will cease to sin. But if the Scriptures be true it is not a mere supposition, much less an absurd one. If the arın of the wicked shall be broke, and · wickedness be fought ought till Jehovah himself find none---if all iniquity shall stop her mouth---if Christ shall make an end of Jin, and destroy the works of the devil, then it no longer re. mains an absurd notion, but becomes a real truth, That the damned in hell will ceafe to fin.
I cannot help observing, that the conduct of ministers in general is exceedingly absurd : they at one time labour with zeal to stop the progress of fin---at another time they plead for its endless duration; and some think it a dangerous and others a damnable herely, to believe it ihall be finally destroyed out of all the creatures of God.
I now proceed to another wonderful assertion, viz. “ They must cast away the doctrine of atonement, as necessary to the remission of sin." Now, so far from this being fact, we conti
nually affirm, that there can be no remiffion of fin, but by the - reception of the atonement. · We grant that poft sufferings cannot atone for the prefent offence; yea, we say more---that past sufferings cannot atone for past offence; for punishment is not atonement. Christ is the great atoning or propitiatory facrifice, for the sins of the whole world. But there is a work of Christ previous to the finner's receiving the atonement, viz. subjection; none ever did, nor ever will receive it until they are subdued. For this very end is Christ invested with all power, that he might subdue all things unto himself. Subjection and atonement are two distinct parts of the work of Christ, by his power will all things be fubdued; and by his atonement, or death, will all - things be reconciled. . Do we, therefore, cast away the doctrine of atonement, because we assert it'shall be tenfoid more effectual than others? Who cannot see the absurdity of this? I know not the person, nor the sentiments of, this minister ; but if he is a Calvinist, he supposes, that the atonement was only made for the elect--How then can he charge us with casting away that which was
sinne nor ever will removested with all the
never made? If he is a Calvinist, then it is clear, that though he does not cast the atonement away, yet, in great part, he denies it, because he confines it to the elect, but the Scriptures extend it universally.
But if he be an Arroinian. he believes the atonement was made for a!), but denies its universal effect; he must, therefore, cast away the atonement, with respect to those whom he fupposes will never receive it, and endless torinents succeed. We therefore send back a coinmon charge from the Arminians, as only belonging to themselves, viz. « We put hell fire in the place of the blood of Christ.” · I acknowledge that punishment will do nothing towards changing the nature of a sinner ; but that it will be of no use in fubduing the evil in his nature, of subduing his disposition from rebellion to submission, is a position which cannot be granted : it not only is contrary to the general practice of both God and man, but also contrary to matter of fact. What was it that brought the prodigal fon to a knowledge of himself but his miserable situation, and the experimental want of all things? What was it that brought the rich man to such a state of humility, as to beg of Abraham to send Lazarus to relieve him? In this state the rich man is represented as having less compalfion on Lazarus than the very dogs ; but in hell he is humble enough to receive a moment's cessation, by the gift of one drop of cold water from that very man whom before he despised. The rich man, having experienced the evil of fin, is moved with compassion towards his brethren ; and although he failed in one petition, yet he murmurs not, but prays that Abraham would send that very man, who before was so despicable in his fight, that his brethren might be warned, left they also come to the same place of torment. But although he is denied even this, yet he murmurs not; but when Abraham puts him in remembrance of his conduct, he hears it with humility, and tacitly confesses his punishment just, and so sinks under the weight of transgression, i he rich man, therefore, was a better man in hell than he was when he existed in this state.
But as a few texts are referred to, in order to prove the doctrine of endless punishment, it is neceifary that I take some notice of them. The first is from Luke, xvi. 26. The minister says, “ When, therefore, our Lord represents that there is, no paslage between hell and heaven, in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, he contradicts the sentiment of those men.” Our Lord represents Abraham as saying, “ Besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulph fixed; so that they
which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us that would come from thence.” But how does this prove endless punishment ? Hell is a prison, and the prisoners are confined by a great gulph. Now what kind of prison would it be, if the prisoners and others had liberty to pass and repass as they pleased ? but Christ is the prison-keeper--.“ He hath the keys of hell and of death.---He is Lord both of the dead and the living.- -He shutteth and no man openeth, and he openeth and no man shutteth.---By his blood shall the prifoners be sent forth out of the pit wherein is no water.---O ( w) hell, I will be thy destruction.” And again---O (adn) hell, where is thy victory?” Thus, not only the prisoners shall be delivered, but the prison itself Ihall be destroyed. When, therefore, our Lord represents Abraham as laying“ Between us and you there is a great gulph fixt,” he does not, b, any mears, intend to contradict the sentiment of the
Universal Restoration. 1. The minister also quotes Ecclef. xi. 3. “ As the tree falls
so it lies; and as death leaves us, so judgment will find us.” The latter part of this lentence is an interpolation. To interpolate the Scriptures is unpardonable in any man, but especially in a minister. “And as death leaves us, so judgment will find us,” are words which cannot be found in all the Bible: and with respect to the words, “ As the tree falls so it lies,” I advise the minister to read the passage; and when he, or any other, can find any thing in it relating to departed spirits, I shall be thankful to have it communicated to me.
He then quotes Mark, ix. 44. but not quite right. The words run thus---" Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” Our Lord here calls the fire of hell inextinguishable. “Where (fays he) their worm dieth not," i. e. in hell their worm does not die, 6 and the fire is 8 olevulas, not -extinguished.” How long the fire of hell will be inextinguishable, this verse does not inform us. Mount Ætna and Vesuvius have long been fires inextinguishable. And the Scriptures fpeak of inextinguishable fires, that have ceased to burn. Nothing, therefore, can be inferred in favour of the endless duration of hell-fire, because our Lord calls it inextinguishable.
The last passage quoted is in Rev. xxii. 11. “ He that is filthy, let him be filthy ftill.” But here again no word is used to express the duration of that state. The phrase is used by the apostle Paul---" He that is ignorant, let him be ignorant still.” The apostle surely did not mean to lay, That all those VOL. III.
who were ignorant of the gospel, should eternally remain
But he says, “ there are many other fimilar passages.” If there are a thousand other passages, and all similar, they prove nothing more than those already quoted; and that they do not prove endless punishment, I think is evident..
If this minister will come forward in your Miscellany as an opponent, I am ready to meet him ; or if he chuse to come forward as an inquirer into the statement and truth of the doctrine of the Universal Restoration, I am ready and willing to give him every assistance that lays in my power. But at present I am constrained to say, that endless punishment is grounded in ignorance and opposition to the word of God.
I remain, dear Sir,
Yours, &c. MARCH 10, 1799.
“ SORROWS OF WERTER” CENSURED. THE following is taken from the Supplement to the Gen
tleman's Magazine for 1784---I think it ought to be inserted in the Universalist's Miscellany.
1 the sudden death of a Miss Glover. You have mentioned a circumstance relating to it, which you think proper to be made known, viz. That the Sorrows of Werter lay under her pillow; and I, never having seen the book, was induced to, give it a reading. I perfectly agree with you, that it is a pernicious book: and if you judge the following reflections, put down after the perusal, calculated in any degree to obviate the.. evil tendency of that work, I beg you will oblige your constant reader and occasional correspondent by giving them a place in your various and useful miscellany.
The idea of God, admitted by all who acknowledge his existence, is the idea of a perfect Being.
Revelation teaches us, that God stands in the relation of a father to his human creatures. “Though Abraham be igno