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PREFACE.

IF

F the writer of the following pages had not believed that the interests of morality are materially involved in this controversy, he would not have recommended his thoughts upon it to the notice of the public. The immoral tendency of the Restoration System is shown in the course of this work.

One of the most important doctrines of Christianity, the doctrine of atonement, has no place in the Universalist's creed, if consistency be regarded. It cannot be reconciled with his doctrine of corrective punishment. Mr. Weaver observes, “ Divine justice is that perfection “ in God, by which he endeavours continually to make all “intelligences just."* According to this representation, justice does not look backward, and punish" according to the deeds done in the body;" but forward, and disposes of her stripes in the way best calculated to correct the moral pravity of the mind. In this system, therefore, the doctrine of guilt has no place : no man need apply for “redemption through the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sins,” Eph. i. 7. but merely for “the renewing of the Holy Ghost," Titus iii. 5. since the recovery of the mind to virtue is the great point to which the exercise of divine justice is directed. If the blood of atonement be not counted, upon this scheme, an “unholy

* Endless Misery Overthrown, p. 9.

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thing," it must be considered, at least, as an “cessary thing." The most intelligent of the Universalists are fully aware of this, and have therefore, very prudently, taken sanctuary in Socinianism.

The author has endeavoured to leave the immoral no alternative betwixt conversion and a “fearful looking “ for of judgment and fiery indignation.” He seriously wishes such to weigh well what is advanced, and, perhaps, they will see that even the infinite love and mercy of God is not to be called into question, should they, by rejecting the grace offered in the Gospel, render themselves eternally wretched. It is hoped that such a view of things may have a happy influence upon their minds, and lead them to improve the present day of their visitation, so as to ensure present and eternal happiness. Should this be the case in a single instance, he will think himself amply compensated for the time and labour which he has devoted to this subject. He is, however, too well acquainted with the prejudices of mankind, in favour of schemes which are not very rigid in their exactions on the score of morality, to expect that many will be reclaimed who have given their assent to the system here opposed. His great aim has been to preserve the serious Christian from falling into, what he considers, a very dangerous error.

The arguments which prove the endless duration of future punishment, are here brought forward sparingly, as that subject is nearly exhausted by Messrs. Taylor, Fuller, and Jerram ; whose valuable writings merit the most serious and attentive perusal.

There is not a class of writers who talk more about candour, charity, and liberality, or who discover less of these Christian graces, than the Universalists.

Mr.

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Weaver, after expressing his disapprobation of Mr. Huntington's asperity, proceeds to call him, “ The sur“geon,--the butcher,--the raving sinner."* He is not less ceremonious with his other adversaries. One is called “ a snarling cynic,” and another“ a flippant fop." Without presuming to justify Mr. H., it is very natural to inquire, whether he has not as much right to deal in hard words as Mr. W.? Will an Universalist pretend, that other denominations of Christians have not an equal right with himself to think freely upon religious subjects, and to embrace those sentiments which appear to them to be most conformable to divine truth? If he will not, he ought not to blame them for believing that the doctrine of Universal Restoration is an erroneous and dangerous system. It seems that the candour and liberality of the Universalists consists in attaching little or no importance to articles of faith and modes of worship. All who come up to this standard, receive the fraternal embrace ; but such as think differently, are stigmatized as bigots. There is certainly such a thing as being bigoted against those who are considered as bigots. And are those who indulge this spirit more to be commended than the bigots whom they condemn ? No, in nowise.

Mr. Wright" presumes," he tells us, " that the editor “ of the Theological Magazine is one of those mistaken “ good men who rejoice in the ungodlike doctrine of end«« less misery."| Must a man rejoice in every doctrine which he believes to be true ? Then Mr. Wright rejoices in the doctrine, that many millions of his fellow.creatures will be tormented in hell for an age. But Mr. Wright calls him one of the good men ! and then ascribes to him dispositions, which, for malignity, can only just be equalled by those of devils !

* Free Thoughts, preface, p. 17. + Examination of Ryland's Sermon, p. 6.

Mr. Vidler too affirms, that “the leading men, both “among Calvinists and Arminians, are doing every thing " which interest, connexion, favour, or frowns can do, " to prevent the threatening evil,—to stop the progress of “ the Universal doctrine."'* It must be remarked, that this charge is altogether unsapported by evidence. The leading men are selected out of those two bodies of Christians for Mr. V. to spit his venom at.

It is—but language does not furnish a name for so vile a calumny. Let Mr. V. go and learn what that Scripture meaneth, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Mr. Samuel Bradburn is charged with saying that “the “ Universalists put hell-fire in the place of the blood of “ Christ.” This produced a letter from Mr. V., addressed to Mr. S. Bradburn, and all the Methodist preachers in England. As none of them honoured it with their notice, Mr. V. makes an ostentatious triumph in the advertisement of his reply to Mr. Fisher. The contents of Mr. V.'s letter are unknown to the author of this work. He did not so much as know that such a letter had been written, till he saw Mr. V. exulting in victory ; and he then understood from an Universalist bookseller, that it was out of print. Should Mr. V. publish a new edition of his letter, he is desired to take notice of the following proof of Mr. Bradburn's assertion : Mr. Winchester, when speaking on the effects produced by different degrees of punishment, illustrates the subject by relating the case of a Mr. M., who underwent a severe flogging when he served in the army.

" When “he first began to feel the lash,” says Mr. W.“ be was

* Winchester's Dialogues, Editor's preface, p. 11. 4th edition.

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