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any hurt by the doctrine of Universal Salvation, it begins and ends with themselves ; and known wilful, and avoidable sin, has been their ruin: not that doctrine. Pious, upright, and spiritual. ly good men, hold with, and believe this universal view of God's grace ; but they are not hurt by it : nor would others, if it was not for the wickedness of their hearts, which they indulge, and give way to. Get then, but these changed, and the doctrine may remain as it is, sound and good. Here lies the error and blame, and not in the tenet. . Let none then stumble at it, on this account.-" In judging of the truth of sobriety of religion, (says a sensible and judicious writer) the question ought not to be, What is it, as exemplified by its professors ? but, What is it, as contained in the Revelation of God?"But we may go a step further, and say, others do heartily embrace and rejoice in this doctrine, because they do not act up to the light they have, when they might and could, through the grace of God that is with them. Now this may be the case, without being sensual. There is the neglect and omission of what is right, as well as the practice and commission of what is wrong; and the former will cloud the understanding and dim the spiritual sight, as well as the latter, -We are not only to keep faith, but a good conscience also ; which, if we put away, we may make shipwreck of the faith, or truth, we have alrea. day in some measure received. They must go hand in hand ; or faith,be it ever so sound and catholic, will dwindle by degrees, until at length it evaporate and die, leaving melancholy conse
FRANCIS SPIRA, thus once addressed his friends that were around him : " Learn all of me, to take heed of severing faith and obedience. I taught justification by faith, but neglected obedience; and therefore is this befallen me."-Some, who have got a little insight into this doctrine, and have begun to see universally, not acting up to the light as it shone in upon them, and adorning this doctrine of God their Saviour ; it lessened to their view; grew weaker and dimmer, and in time went out again. They were taken, like some fishes, by the head only ; but fell from the gospel.net, through something of greater weight, that drasged them back again.--No gross or notorious
sin, at first ; but carelessness, negligence, and want of watchfulness ; and this, by degrees, darkened their minds, and stopt their continued enquiries into this truth; and now they seem to have no pleasure or satisfaction in thinking or speaking about it; nay, even begin to suppose it an error.-To sin openly and avowedly upon it, they have not dared ; but secretly, and by little and little ; in the same way, they have fallen : and by little and little have given it up; and all for want of being more diligent and faithful, in the practice and discharge of those things, which, as disciples of Jesus, were incumbent on them. What with this, and those other evils of the heart and mind I have before inentioned, advantage has been taken by Satan, that grand adversary of all truth ; and by it he has blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest this full light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ
should shine unto them. He is a watchful adversary, and loses no opportunity of deceiving and beguiling us.
He works by our ignorance, pride, and unbelief : by our sloth, and all the fleshly, worldly spirit that is in us. By giving way to all or any of these things, we give him a power over us, which he had not before, nor could have without it. He has hid the whole gospel from some, by means of these things: what wonder then he should attempt toʻveil this roctrine of it, from the eyes of men !-Out of Zion hath God shined, and in full lustre, where this doctrine is maintained in her. well therefore be called, the perfection of beauty, (Psalm, 1. 2.) But as envy is attendant on beauty, wherever else it is found ; so it is here. Satan envies the church this love, this smile, this charm in her countenance; and fain would cast a veil over it, He has succeeded too long and too often, by means of the near-sightedness of some, & the hard-beartedness of others : and this I mention as one main reason Universal Salvation is not more generally received yet. And now, (blessed be God !) there are some, after all, who have and do, cordially believe and heartily rejoice, in this noble and generous view of the grace and mercy of the gospel : (the reasons of which I mean to give you, in another let. ter or two.) They have not taken it upon trust; they have examined, and found it true : to be from heaven, and not of men. They have seen through the objections to it; they have owned and confessed it, in the face of its opposers ; and some have suffered loss and reproach soon.
er than conceal or deny it. Among these, I must reckoni yourself. Should your trials in. crease, for standing firm and faithful to it ; your joys will also abound, when you shall one day see all who disbelieve it, all who reason against and oppose it, all who sin upon and abuse it ; every one brought to see and believe it ; to acknowledge and avow themselves the willing and happy subjects of that faith which once they so strangely destroyed.
In the mean time, we will pray for them ; own them all as his offspring by creation, and many of them by adoption and grace. We will love them as brethren : pity them, as weakly in this respect ; and endeavor (as they will let us) to get that weakness removed. By this means we shall get more confirmed in that faith ourselves, in which I am, Affectionately yours,
L ET T E R XI:
Shewing the reasons why the Doctrine is received
MY DEAR FRIEND,
THE four last posts brought you my answer to a question you put—" If Universal Salvation be the doctrine of Scripture, how comes it so
few at present fall in with this belief; and that it is not more generally received ?!?..
I endeavored to reply to it fully and faithful ly; and I hope with all that modesty the nature of the question would admit of.'.fi
I would now offer some reasons why the clock trine is admitted at all, and received by any.
The first is, because it is bumane. It is sa agreeable to all the feelings and workings of sim: ple nature in us,and to what constitutes us men, that the greatest opposers have hardly refused it in this view. To think, they should be instrumental in multiplying themselves, and bringing creatures into the world to be endlessly wreiche ed, is neither a pleasing nor a satisfactory tho't. That they should be miserable at all, is painful to nature ; but to be forever so, goes against all the grain, and is only alleviated and reconcilca. ble to us, as men, from the supposition it may one day be otherwise, and have an end. The humanity of the doctrine, then, is one reason some have to come into it.
Others believe it, because it is both reasonable and scriptural, and agreeable to the charac. ter of God, as Love ; and as he has been pleased to reveal himself to us,in his word and works. It is but reason, that if men will sin, they should also suffer: and this the Universal doctrine admits But whether finite crimes should have infinite sufferings ; Reason rather staggers at this and has never yet said it without hesitation: It always faulters when asked, and obliged to reply. If Revelation has declared it, she sub. mits; but not else.