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said, he will* have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
I now come to that passage in St. Peter, which speaks of Christ's going and preaching
unto the spirits in prison ; which sometime were disobedient, in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing ;” i Pet. iii. 19, 20. Different senses have been put upon this passage ; & all have had something to say : the Universalists, perhaps, most of all ; & with more consistency than any. Christ, in the person of Noah, seems hardly consistent with the preceding verse : He suffered in his own person ; was personally put to death-And only preached impersonally! This neither sounds simple, nor plain. -And to sinners, only spiritually dead ? This but ill accords with chap. iv. 6. where the dead are opposed to the quick, in the former verse ; and means corporally, naturally dead.--That he “ descended into hell,” may be understood of the place of the damned, as well as of the place of the dead: for Sheol, (the word in the original) signifies both hell and the grave : And with a view, no doubt, to their salvation. For, having just suffered for sin and sinners, it is not to be thought he would go directly to the “ spirits in prison ;” to make the wretched more miserable still; but with a view to reclaim and restore them ; and make some of them, at least,
John, xvii. 24.-Where our Lord prays for the final happiness of his first disciples : he makes a demand, rather than a prayer : and says-Ibelo, I WILL (that they whom thou hast given, be with me, &c.) - It is the same word here, in the Greek: which gives room to believe, it is more than a conditioxal will in Gock, that all men shall be finally saved.
the first-fruits and trophies of his death. This, we must confess, would be a design worthy of him, and agreeable to his character, as a Saviour : And it seems highly probable, this was his design, from what is here said about it; and because
he delighteth in mercy. And, if some are released, we may look upon it as the earnest of all, in due time. *
But the Scripure that crowns all, and the last I shall bring into proof, is, Rev. v. 13. Here, “ Every creature, which is in heaven,and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them,” are heard; saying, “Blessing, and honour, & glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever."
Here, all creation is at his feet, and before his throne : and that, not with tears in their eyes, or petitions in their hands : not with crying, and supplications, or weeping, with John here, (at the 4th verse) because things were hidden and kept secret : but with joy in their hearts, and praises in their mouths ; with melody on their lips, and hallelujahs on their tongues ; with looks and countenances full of satisfaction and delight ! And their faces, instead of gather ing blackness, turning into paleness, or being
* The opinion of the Church of England, on this difficult pass sage, is very clear ; from the appointment she has made of it, for the epistle on Easter Eve. Who could be in prison, but lost (be. cause disobedient) spirits ? When did Christ preach to them ; but after his death? And, if Christ did preach to them ; what could he preach, but the glad tidings of great joy : that the powers of hell were brought into subjection, and a way cpoened into the Holiest of all ?
covered with shame and confusion, (as once was the case with some of them) they all now shine as the sun, replete with light, life, and love ; fuil of extacy and rapture ! And that, because the book, written within, and on the backside, and sealed with seven seals, is now opened & unsealed ; & all things revealed, and explained. Their own cases particularly unfolded to their view ; with all the ways and means their loving Saviour took, to bring them to the situation they are now in; with other miracles of grace and love. All this is the burden of their song; which the four beasts and four & twenty elders, (whoever are meant by them) both begin, and end : Arge's uniting their voices, & every creature joining in chorus.-See, Rev. v. 3. to the end.
Where, then, there is universal praise, and thanksgiving ; universal harmony, and love ; and both, beaven and earth sounding, and resounding, acclamations of joy and peace ; there must be universal Salvation:
And would not one rationally think, that this would be good news to all that heard it, and cause them to rejoice and sing ; nay, even to leap for joy? But at first hearing, it has another and different effect upon some.
With the shepherds they are sore afraid.
It charmed the hosts above, and they suddenly join the first angel, with an anthem, and notes of praise : but the legions, and some men below, seemed filled with sorrow, more than with joy : and if the Salvation, and peace that is proclaimed, are to be universally efficacious, it is sad, rather than zlad tidings in their ears ; and the message is
represented as dangerous, burtful, and delusive. But, fear not.
It must be allowed, this doctrine has objections in its way, and some of them very formidable, at first view ; but they vanish, as they are brought to the light, and examined by the law and the testimony. In so far, as the heart shall object to it, it must get changed, and purified by faith ; no arguments rectify this. 'But if through want of light and evidence, men object, (as very frequently is the case) they do well to attend to the evidence that appears for it; it will grow and increase upon them, in so doing if their heart incline not to wickedness. How far it may be with-held from some, for reasons best known to God, must be left to him to de. termine, when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed. It is an indulgence, and happiness, that some are here favored with, for which they should be thankful,hunible,& faithful.-Objec. tions arising from unwillingness, for the most part, are left unanswered with unintelligence Not liking to know, they never come to understand, in the sense it is revealed and made known. If they take it up as a doctrine, they have no joy and peace in believing it; nor do they live in the love and spirit of it; it remains a floating notion in the brain : and such, only sin upon, and abuse it. But where it is taught us of God, and received as a doctrine from him, it comes in the demonstration of the spirit, and of power : and is attended with very noble effects. Weakness of judgment, and slowness of capacity,
6!l never be imputed as a crime, where the
mind does not wilfully reject a thing. Obstinacy and self-will, are displeasing to God; but he pities our weakness and imperfections.
There is a time for some truths to lie hid ; and a time for ALL truth, to come out. Wisdom is profitable to direct, when this, in particular, may be seasonable. Supposing it a truth, I would never declare it, say some : but this is being wiser than God. See,Jer. xxii.28.—Shall man be a monopolist, where He is an Universalist ? or engross that to himself, which was given for the general good ? He forbid this to his first disciples; (Matt. x. 27.) By what authority, then, are his after-ones to countermand it ? BUT
Surely, noiv, the day begins to dawn; when : all the traditions of men, will be separated from the truth of God !-when the trappings of Isnorance, Superstition, and Bigotry, will no longer disfigure the simple and benevolent spirit of Christianity! The morning already appears; when men will dare to open their eyes, and admit the rays of heavenly light. F. L. UNIVERSALISM is a Plant of Heavenly growth;
though, by some, it has been branded as the vilest weed which the injudicious only, have adopted, and cultivated, out of noveliy. Oi course, (though it has risen to its present height) it is a poor, shrivelled, and solitary stem, known but tó very few, and scarcely
owned by any ! Nay, but this generous Plant has been fustered and patroziized by men of the most discrimi..