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PREFACE.

THERE may possibly need something by way of apology, for putting out a book of this kind, especially in an age so profligate; and it may by some be looked upon as a design to promote libertinism, and concur with the aim and end of too many writers of these times, under pretence of religion to undermine it at the root: but I doubt not but the seriousness and solidity with which this subject is managed, the zeal for the glory of God, the vindication of his most glorious attributes, and the earnest endeavours for promoting the love of God and charity to all mankind, which all along appear so conspicuous in this work, will soon convince the reader that there is a design of the utmost service to religion at the bottom; and that rather by a new topic of persuasion to bring in proselytes to the kingdom of grace, than to drive any from it.

With relation to God, it cannot but be an acceptable service to represent him in his most amiable excellencies, and vindicate the supereminence of his love, which is his nature, and the full latitude of his mercy and goodness towards his creatures, which has had a cloud or veil of darkness drawn over it in the minds of the generality of mankind; so that it has shown out less amiably, and less powerfully convincing and commanding the hearts and affections of men, and giving occasion to many that have been strong in the faculty of reasoning, and have taken their notions of God rather from thence than from the Scriptures, as translated and glossed upon, and represented according to the schemes and systems of these latter ages, by reason of the many inconsistencies therein, to throw off all revealed religion, and own only a God in such manner as can be proved by human reason; and others that have less consideration and use of that talent, through their immersion into sense, have hence had too great encouragement and too great arguments for atheism and libertinism itself. And those that would convince them upon the common hypotheses have wanted also their greatest arguments to prevail upon them. One instance I shall give, which I have been well informed of, and that is in the late Earl of Rochester; in the midst of all his extravagancies, both of opinion and practice: he was once in company with the author of this treatise, who discoursing with him about religion and the Being of a God, took the opportunity to display the goodness of God in its full latitude, according to the scheme laid down in this his present work; upon which the earl returned him for answer, "That he could approve of and like such a God as he had represented." So far was he from drawing any encouragement for his

loose principles from hence, that on this supposition he gave up the cause. And thus we may see how, with relation to mankind, if God were truly represented in the infinity of his grace and goodness, and the authority of those other schemes which give his justice so great a prevalency over his mercy, were rebated or taken off, many that can stand the shock or terrors of the common preaching of eternal wrath and damnation, or a hell-fire without end, might yet be reclaimed by the manifestation of the goodness of God when they should come to see, or understand it as it is. For love is strongest, and in its own nature most powerful to attract and to persuade. And therefore when it is objected, this doctrine ought not to be broached in a licentious age, apt to take hold of all occasions of encouragement: we must turn back the argument upon the objectors, and tell them, therefore there is need of greater strength and argument for persuasion; that the best wine at last should be drawn out, and the full strength of the love in its turn and season should be superadded to the strength of justice and judgment for influence upon the minds of men.

It may be yet said, "Supposing this doctrine to be true, that in the opinion of several that have held it, it ought to be kept as a secret, among such as may be fit to receive it, and not publicly exposed?" To this I answer,

1. "Tis true. Origen himself says so: but this is not to be understood of writing upon the subject, for that he did himself most freely; but rather for the general conduct of our conversation, not to expose the mysteries of religion to such as could not receive them. But,

2. There is a time for all things. There is a time when all secrets are to be revealed and proclaimed upon the house tops. And this is in the latter day, in which WISDOM is to manifest herself, and knowledge to increase as the waters that cover the sea: Isa. ix. 11. See also Dan. ult. iv. 10. Yea, this very secret has its proper time to be revealed; as 1 Tim. ii. 6. i. e. "To be testified in due time."-And when is it, that this pouring out of knowledge is expected to be, and the manifestations of the hidden wisdom of God, but in the preparation or entrances of the blessed times of refreshment from the presence of the Lord, in his next or latter day advent, i. e. to his millennial kingdom; of which we hear the alarms at this very day, from all quarters and all parties; from such as have been students of the prophetic writers, or heedful observers of the signs of the times. As then in this very age, we have found many running to and fro, and knowledge increased,

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so we may expect it will be yet much more The occasion of our author's writing upon this subject is so very singular, that I believe some account thereof will be both acceptable and useful to such as shall incline to look into it. When he was at the University, and had studied all the schemes of divinity, he could not find from any, or from all of them together, that God was good, that God was love, as the Scriptures declare of him. This put him into a great dissatisfaction and perplexity of mind, from which he could no way extricate himself; but it grew upon him more and more, till it threw him into a fit of sickness, and that so dangerous that there was no hope of his recovery; but in it, at the most, he had a beam of divine grace darted upon his intellect, with a sudden, warm, and lively impression; which gave him immediately a new set of thoughts concerning God and his works, and the way of his dealing with his offending creatures, which, as they became the rule and standard of all his thoughts and measures of things afterwards, as I have heard him declare, so they gave in particular, the ground and occasion of this present design. And upon this he presently recovered. This, as reasonably may be supposed, might give occasion to an expression of greater freedom in his title, as he at first intended it; which we have taken the liberty to omit, lest any might stumble at it; yet the reader will find it mentioned by him in the book.

He had wrote at first more voluminously, but towards the latter end of his life he was busied in contracting and preparing it for the public service; in which he was more particularly taken up, and so brought it to a conclusion, a little before his death.

His character is great, and has been more than once given to the world in print; though on account of the offence many will be apt to take at the subject, it has been thought fit here to conceal his name.

He goes indeed upon the predestinarian hypothesis, as will appear in several passages of his work; but by his additional scheme makes it quite another thing, and entirely evacuates it as the severer part. But if any inured to other schemes of divinity are yet unsatisfied in this, they may take his general hypothesis of the restoration, and graft it upon their own, and it will suit as well; and serve to rectify and improve it, as it has done this.

There are many indeed that run so far in magnifying the method God has taken for manifestation of his grace and mercy towards his fallen creatures, as to imagine their fall was needed in order to the perfect display of the wonders of his goodness. Indeed there is something of a particular and partial manifestation accidentally made through the objects of mercy, rendered so by their sin and folly but surely God needed not this accident to show that grace which was contained in, and but as a part of his essential goodness; and which might by the enlightened eye be contemplated therein; or by the works of God, and manifestation of himself, he exhibit

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ed to full view by the direct pencil of the divine wisdom, which operates all in perfect unity and harmony, and wants not the breach or division of the properties of nature in any degree of disproportion and disharmony, or of real contrariety in order to its own perfect product. And the accidental illustration of grace by sin and sufferings; seems to be chiefly in the passage through the vale of misery, or the first sensation of those that are admitted to the heavenly enjoyments, which without these extraneous and accessory excitements, go on increasing and multiplying without bound or end, from their own eternal motives and incentives; from the ground of the eternal and infinite fulness and perfection of the Godhead, as moving in its own harmonious unity, proceeding and manifesting itself, of itself, and by itself, in all harmonious variety; and that without any such thing as a delective foil; which has rather been an offence or impediment of its glory, only as this has, and still does, like the sun, break through the fog and discover itself.

In this work the author has gone only upon Scripture grounds; and yet from the Scriptures which he has produced and discoursed at large upon, he has sufficiently absolved the rational part. And for further confirmation, it has been thought fit here to add some testimonies both ancient and modern to this great point; and they are as follow.

ORIGEN is well known to be the great propagator of this doctrine, so that it might seem scarce needful to make citation from him to this purpose, yet as a leader of others, I shall here set him in the front, with a testimony or two. We find then, this learned father, Origen in fine Lib. Svi. Explanat in Epist. ad Rom. declaring himself after this manner:" "But he that despises the purificaitons of the Word of God, and the doctrine of the Gospel, is reserved for those dreadful and penal purifications afterwards; that so he may be purged by the fire and torment of hell, who would not receive purgation from the apostolic doctrine and evangelical word, according to that which is written of being 'purified by fire.' But how long this purifi cation which is wrought out by penal fire shall endure, or for how many periods or ages it shall detain sinful souls in torment, he only knows to whom all judgment is committed by the Father."

And then, upon the same place and subject, he adds: "But we must still remember that the apostle would have this text accounted as a mystery, so as that the faithful and perfect ones may keep its secret sense among themselves, and not ordinarily divulge it to the imperfect and less capable of receiving it."

The next I shall cite, (and indeed who might have disputed precedency with the for mer, as being Origen's master, though less noted on this account) is CLEMENS ALEXAN

[In this as well as in all the following references, we have omitted the passages as they simply given the translations as they appear occur in the original Latin or Greek, and have in the pre ace. Those who wish to consult the original can doubtless obtain the works from which the quotations are made.j

of God and latitude of his grace. "Tis from St. Austin, as follows.

DRINUS; Adumbrat. in Ep. 1. Johan. printed
at the end of his treatise, Quis Dives Salvetur;
where he has these words :-"The Lord is
not (says he, v. 2.) a propitiation for our sins"
only, that is, of the faithful, but also for the
whole world. Therefore he indeed saves all
universally; but some as converted by pun-
ishments, others by voluntary submission.
And hence he obtains the honour and dignity,
that to Him every knee shall bow, both of
things in heaven, and things on earth, and
things under the earth, that is, angels, and
men, and souls departed this life before his
coming into the world.

Another is GREGORY NAZIANZEN. He tells us, Paris Edit. 1630. Orat. Quadrag. Pug. 664, 665,-"There is another fire, not for purging but for punishing; whether it be of that kind by which Sodom was destroyed, or whether that prepared for the devil, or that which proceeds before the face of the Lord [at his last advent], or lastly, which is most formidable of all, that which is conjoined with the worm that never dieth, which is not quenched, but burns perpetually upon the wicked. All these are of a destructive nature. If yet we are not even here [in the last kind of fire to understand it more mildly [or with greater philanthropy or love to mankind] and more worthy of [or, suitable to the nature of] Him that punishes."

AUGUSTIN. De Civ. Dei, lib. xxi. cap. 17. And now I see I must have to do with our merciful men, and must dispute with them gently and peaceably, who either will not be lieve everlasting punishment to be inflicted on those whom the just Judge shall condemn to the pains of hell; or at least not on all of them: but that after certain periods of time, longer or shorter, according to the proportion of their crimes, they shall be delivered of that state."

St. JEROME, at the end of his comment on Isaiah, speaks thus, concerning the opinion that hell torments shall have an end; though he himself was persuaded in and believed the eternity of the torments of devils and Atheists. "Which (matter) we ought to leave to the wisdom of God alone, whose judgments as well as his mercies are in weight and mea sure, and who well knows whom, or how, or for how long he ought to judge them."

I shall conclude these testimonies of the fathers with that of FACUNDUS, Episcop. Hermiensis, lib. iv. cap. 4. pag. 62. Edit. Paris. 1679. "In the book which DOMITIAN, Bishop of Ancyra, wrote to Vigilius, he is found complaining of those that contradicted the doc trines of Origen, which maintained that the souls of men pre-existed in a state of happiness before they came into bodies; and that all those that were doomed to the eternal punishment, shall, together with the devil and his angels, be restored to their former state of blessedness." And after this he adds, "They have rashly run out to anathematize the most holy and most glorious doctors, (or teachers of the Church) on occasion of those doctrines that have been advanced concern

We have for another testimony, from GREGORY NYSSENUS. In Dial. de Anima and Resurrect. Paris Edit. 1659.-"For 'tis wholly and absolutely needful that evil should be removed out of the circle of being. For since evil is of that nature, that it cannot be without a will and purpose of its own; and since all will and arbitrement is in [and of right belongs to] God; how can it be other wise, but that the evil must be entirelying the pre-existence, and the restitution of abolished, so that nothing shall remain that can be a receptacle of it." And again in his Catechetical Oration, chap. xxvi, p. 517, 'tis said of Christ, "Who is He that delivers man from evil, and who heals the inventor [or author] of evil himself."

SULPICIUS SERVERUS, De Vita B. Martini, p. 488. Edit. Lugd. Bat. 1647. "If thou, O miserable one, [speaking to the devil] would cease from the temptation and persecution of man, and repent thee of thy facts, even at this time of day when the judgment is so near at hand; I myself could with true assurance for confidence] in God, promise thee the mercy of Christ."

This testimony, if it does not absolutely conclude for the point, yet it does against the so great difficulty and impossibility of it.which is by some supposed; and vindicates the good will of God, as all being ready, and nothing wanting on his part for the salvation | of all his creatures. That which follows may likewise be of use to show the gentleness and tenderness wherewith the propagators of this doctrine have been received, and serve to open the narrowness, and allay the severity and rigidness of spirit, with which they are treated by many at this day: as also to shew that in the times of the latter, as well as elder fathers, there was still a reserve in the Church, of vindicators of the great love

all things. And this indeed under pretext of Origen, but thereby anathematizing all the (great) saints which were before him, and which have been after him." Thus have we the declaration and testimonies of two of the ancient fathers and bishops of the Church in one.

This is a taste of those numerous testimonies of the ancients to the truth of this doctrine; and those of the moderns are yet more numerous. There have been several books written on this subject in French, in the High Dutch, and the Low Dutch; and particularly in the High German by the learned Dr. Jo. W. Petersen, sometime Superintendent of Lunenburgh, at large in folio; where he has strenuously defended this point, and collected. and adopted into his work the writings of several others upon this subject in lesser tracts: 'tis called The Restitution of all Things. There is also an ingenious piece written in French by a noble eminent lord and minister of the court of the King of Prussia, intitled, Entretiens sur la Restitution Univer selle de la Creation: or, A Conference upon the Universal Restitution of the Creation, betwixt Dositheus and Theophilus. But to collect testimonies from all these would make a volume instead of a preface: therefore I shall content myself with producing a few testimonies from some of the learned or curious en

quirers into this subject, some more, some less, that have been of our own nation.

GERARD WINSTANLEY, in his book Of the Mystery of God, &c. p. 9, printed 1649, declares thus: "Therefore I say the mystery of God is thus: God will bruise this serpent's head, and cast the murtherer out of heaven, [i. e. of] the human nature where it dwells in part. And he will dwell in that whole creation in time, and so deliver whole mankind out of their fall."

There is another treatise called The Church Triumphant: or, A comfortable Treatise of the Amplitude and Largeness of Christ's Kingdom; wherein is proved by Scripture and reason, that the number of the damned is inferior to that of the elect. By Joseph Alford, M. A. sometime fellow of Oriel Coll ge, Oxford. Printed An. 1644. The title-page of which being so full, I shall omit any further quotation from the book.

and the souls which I have make.' Isa. Ivii. 18.- For God hath concluded all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.' Rom. xi. 32."

Scripture is of more worth than ten thousand worlds. If any thing of good or mitigation is intended to them, it will come in upon this account; that they are the creatures of God and his workmanship: The Lord shall rejoice in his works, and they shall reciprocally rejoice in the Lord their God. If those very creatures who seem rejected, can but call upon him by the name of THE LORD, and lay hold on him as Esau did when he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, 'Bless me, even me, O my father! Hast thou but one blessing, O my father? [still putting in mind of the relation] bless me, even me also, O my father! So it may be conceived of those condemned forlorn and miserable creaturesthat after they have been long in wailing and gnashing of teeth-if they can but call upon him by the name of CREATOR, and remember and lay it before him,that they are the works of his hands:-God hath more than one blessing There is also a book written by R. Stafford, to saints and angels; he may make devils and entitled, Some Thoughts of the Life to come, &c. condemned sinners hewers of wood and drawPrinted Anno 1693, in which this doctrine is ers of water. For I will not contend forever notably asserted. We find here, p. 52, &c.- (saith the Lord), neither will I be always "So that let satan do his worst, as it is pro-wroth, for the spirit would fail before me, verbially and truly said, God is above the devil; so his knowledge doth as much exceed the other, (who is a creature and by him made) as the whole ocean a single drop of water. In the 1st and 2d chapters of Job, and the 2d The learned Dr. HENRY MORE, in his Diof Zechariah, and in Rev. xii. 10; we see and vine Dialogues, printed Anno 1668, especially understand God's superlative and over-ruling that part which relates and pursues the goodness and equity; how he doth moderate vision of Bathynous's silver and golden keys the matter, and affirm it by the way of favour (the keys of Providence,) speaks very favourand mercy on the side of mankind. And this ably of this, yea covertly and at a distance but as talking a little before the day of assize, involves it; not only in his direct maintain. an emblem and forerunner, how he will de-ing the doctrine of pre-existence, which goes termine it eternally on their side, at the last and great day of judgment, notwithstanding all the informations, accusations and aggravations of Satan. And now if there should be anywho draw up more heavy and false inditement than the true and very nature of the thing doth require and will bear: or if the conscience itself (which is yet more) pressed with sin and guilt, should forecast too grievous things: all this will not do one jot of harm in the day of the Lord; for He who hath prepared his throne for judgment knows all things:-"With righteousness will he judge the world, and the people with equity. Psalm 1xxxix. 9. Now equity is a mild thing, which doth state, moderate, and adjust a matter. Aud then after all, God doth reserve mercy, even after judgment and condeinnation for that is its proper place."

And afterwards, p. 55.-"But God only knows what may succeed after all this, when those miserable creatures have lain under condemnation and punishment, a much longer space of duration than six or seven thousand years, [the ages or evers of this lower creation] now God will look down from the heighth of his Sanctuary: From heaven will the Lord behold the earth,' (yea, and who knows whether he will behold yet lower: If I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there!)-to hear the groaning of the prisoners, to loose them that are appointed to death.' Psa. cii. 19, 20; [in the margin there, it is the children of death.] This one

hand in hand with it; but laying down the more general principles from whence it flows.

We find, p. 479, BATHYNOUS speaking thus: "I was not content to think of God in the gross only, but began to consider his nature more distinctly and accurately, and to contemplate and compare his attributes.-And I did confidently conclude, that infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, these three, were the chiefest and most comprehensive attributes of the divine nature; and that the sovereign of these was his goodness, the summity and flower, as I may so speak, of the Divinity; and that particularly whereby the souls of men become divine: whereas the largest communication of the other without this would not make them divine, but devils. In the mean time being versed in no other natural philosophy nor metaphysics but the vulgar; and expecting the laws of the external creation, either visible or invisible should be suitable to that excellent and lovely idea of the Godhead, which with the most serious devotion and affection I entertained in my own breast; my mind was for a long time charged with inextricable puzzles and difficulties, to make the phenomena of the world and the vulgar opinions of men in any tolerable way to comfort or suit with these two chiefest attributes of God, his wisdom and his goodness.”

This is a like plunge with that in which our author was found, as before-mentioned, viz. To make out that God was good: and

for the extricating of Bathynous [or the deep contemplator] out of his labyrinth, the vision of the two keys of Providence is ingenuously feigned: and the first sentence in the scroll discovered by the golden key, written in let ters of gold, is this:

"The measure of Providence is the divine goodness: which has no bounds but itself; which is infinite." And another of the sentences asserts, the pre-existence of souls. Another, viz. 5, is, "In infinite myriads of free agents which were the framers of their own fortunes, it had been a wonder if they all of them had taken the same path; and therefore sin at the long run shook hands with opacity [or, the abyss of darkness]." And the 6th, is ;-"As much as the light exceeds the shadows, so much do the regions of happiness exceed those of sin and misery."

The author of these dialogues would not go to the other six sentences, towards which he prepares the way, but makes Bathynous to be suddenly waked out of his dream by the braying of two asses; wittily hinting the reason why he concealed the other part of what might serve to clear up the providence of God, viz. the rudeness and clamour of narrow and ignorant spirits.

But lastly we find him asserting, p. 515. "You acknowledge then his goodness the leading attribute in the creation of the world, and his wisdom and power, to contrive and execute what his will actuated by his goodness did intend.-But this is a marvel of marvels to me, that the goodness of God being infinite, the effects thereof should be so narrow and finite as commonly men conceit; if there be no incapacity in the things themselves that thus straitens them. That one small share of the divine goodness should be active, but that the infinite remainder thereof, as I may so speak, silent and unactive, is a riddle, a miracle that does infinitely amaze me!"

pence, and suspicion of the possibility of the truth of it, p. 164:

"The case then in short stands thus: Whenever we break the laws of God, we fall into his hands and lie at his mercy, and he may without injustice inflict what punishment upon us he pleaseth: and consequently to secure his law from violation, he may beforehand threaten what penalties he thinks fit and necessary to deter men from the transgression of it. And this is not esteemed unjust among men, to punish crimes that are committed in an instant, with the perpetual loss of estate, or liberty, or life. Secondly, this will appear yet more reasonable, when we consider, that after all, He that threatens hath still the power of execution in his hands. For there is this remarkable difference between promises and threatenings, that he who promiseth, passeth over a right to another, and thereby stands obliged to him in justice and faithfulness to make good his promise; and if he do not, the party to whom the promise is made is not only disappointed, but injuriously dealt withal. But in threatenings it is quite otherwise. He that threatens keeps the right of punishing in his own hand, and is not obliged to execute what he hath threatened any further than the reasons and ends of government do require: and he may without injury to the party threatened, remit and abate as much as he pleaseth of the punishment that he hath threatened: and because in so doing he is not worse but better than his word, nobody can find fault, or complain of any wrong or injustice thereby done to him.

"Nor is this any impeachment of God's truth and faithfulness, any more than is esteemed among men a piece of falsehood not to do what they have threatened. God did absolutely threaten the destruction of Nineveh, and his peevish prophet did understand the threatenings to be absolute, and was very angry with God for employing him in a message that was not made good. But God understood his own right, and did what he pleased, notwithstanding the threatening he had denounced; and for all Jonah was so touched in honour that he had rather himself had died than that Nineveh should not have been destroyed, only to have verified his message."

This is indeed larger than what may be applied to the particular occasion, viz. of the time and manner of the creation of the world; but here the braying comes in again, expressed by Sophronius: "O Bathynous, my very heart-strings are fretted with fear and anxiety, when you plunge into such profound disquisitions as these!" And so Bathynous keeps still to the first part of the scroll, in which he asserts pre-existence; but lays the Also p. 179, he says:-" Origen, I know ground for its sister tenet or doctrine, viz. not for what good reason, is said to be of opithe restitution of those spirits which had nion, that the punishment of the devils and their descent into regions of punishment, for wicked men, after the day of judgment, will their defect and lapse from their pre-existent continue but for a thousand years; and that state; which, if not prevented by the weak- after that time they shall all be finally saved. ness and incapacity of the hearer, had been I can hardly persuade myself that so wise discovered as the grand point of the second and learned a man as Origen was, should be part of the scroll; and without which ward, positive in an opinion for which there can be as I may say, of the golden key, the greatest no certain ground in reason, especially for objections against Providence are yet in the punctual and precise term of a thousand force, and the goodness of God, which he un-years. But upon the whole matter, however dertakes to vindicate, remains unasserted it be; be it for a thousand years, or be it for and almost as dark as before. But he here thought a word to the wise was sufficient. That great and good man, Dr. JOHN TILLOTSON, late Archbishop of Canterbury, in his 4th volume of sermons, preached 1694, writes thus favourably upon the case, as with sus

a longer and unknown term, or be it for ever, which is plainly threatened in the gospel; I say, however it be, this is certain, that it is infinitely wiser to take care to avoid it, than to dispute it, and to run the final hazard of it. Put it which way we will, especially if we

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