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it “as a solemn dedication of children to God.” And, farther, “ the only fault that I think I perceive in the denomination called Baptists is, that they rest too much in, or rather hold too tenaciously to, ordinances.” With regard to your first remark, I would ask—Where do you find authority for this dedication of children to God, by baptism, other than in the commandments of men P For, as I said before, you cannot show me, in all the New Testament, one word, either of precept or example, for this practice. And, with regard to your second (although I am agreed with you respecting the “one baptism"), I rather wonder that you, who profess to “call no man master”—you who labour to detect and expose the commandments and institutions of men, as subversive of the ordinances of God, should seem to think lightly of any one for conscientiously, and even “tenaciously," holding a plain and a positive institution of Christ, in preference to that which is of human invention. But I shall drop this, and advert to the subject about, which I am at present, more particularly interested, and which led to our correspondence.
"... I really cannot suffer myself, as I find too many do, to suppress and smother all inquiry and information on this momentous subject. This is what I find most fault with people for-their refusing to look the subject fair in the face, and their determination to adhere to the popular doctrine of never-ending misery, at all hazards, and to resist everything, even of scripture, that has the smallest tendency to encourage, on the contrary, but a ray of hope to the non-elect. The other night, I read Winchester's Sermon (which is worth a thousand volumes), to a christian who is most dear to me. The effect it produced was a sigh or two, in silence, without one word of contradiction, which I considered no small matter. I would have little doubt of the predominance of this amiable and god-like doctrine (which may, with propriety, be called the gospel), in opposition to the bug-bear doctrine of the orthodox clergy, if people would but read and think for themselves. But, so deeply-rooted is prejudice, that I cannot get those persons, about whom I am most solicitious, prevailed upon to read—they are afraid of being contaminated—they are afraid of losing caste. TRUTH, ought to be the object of every one's research, whether in the field of philosophy, or christianity; and I am certain that truth can never lose any thing, by impartial inquiry. My worthy friend, above alluded to, had the fortitude, for a while, to unfetter her
mind, and think for herself, on the subject of universal redemption. During that period, she was forced to acknowledge, that, under that belief, she could perceive a consistency in the Divine character, and a harmony in the scriptures, which she could not otherwise perceive; but this release from human fetters, was of short duration. In her intercourse with others, of the popular belief, she Boon became afraid, even to hint at a doubt on the subject, and returned to her old resting-place, on the orthodox scheme—nor dares again so much as to venture upon inquiry, lest she should be again unsettled, probably again convicted (as she professed for a time to be), and, consequently, compelled to change her principles, and her religious' connexions. Still, however, she acknowledges, that a christian may, without injury to himself, hold the benevolent sentiment; but cannot suffer the thought that any of the human race, "having no hope, and without God in the world" (Ephesians, II. 12.), should have any ray of hope, held out to them, as it respects eternity; and, the reason is, lest it should encourage licentiousness. But, what right have we to start such objections, or to attribute such effects to this god-like doctrine ?—It is presumptious. If it has a claim upon our belief, we ought to avow it, and leave the effects and consequences• to Him, whose ways are inscrutable, and to whom we have no right to say, "what tloest thou?"
But the doctrine of reconcilation, when really believed in, must have quite the opposite effect, by constraining pardoned sinners to love and obey the God of their salvation. Surely, the doctrine of never-ending damnation is not more likely to reconcile men to God, then the doctrine of divine love and forgiveness, and of universal redemption. But I shall yet go farther, and aver, that it is impossible, that one really under the influence of a firm belief in the unbounded love of God, can lead a licentious life. Taking a view of the narrow scheme of redemption, so generally held forth, contrasted with the grand idea of a sin-pardoning, and universally reconciling JEHOVAH—who can cease to exclaim, under a sense of love and gratitude "Is this the manner of man, O Lord God!" Truly, the manner of man is different indeed! Verily, " Love is of God, and he that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love" The question often recurs to my mind—how can that doctrine, which does not embrace universal reconciliation, be called the gospel, or glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. But, released, as I profess to be, in a great measure, from human trammels, I am yet sometimes afraid to trust to my own ideas of the scriptures, upon these subjects. But this I confess, that the more I "search the scriptures whether these things be so," I am the more convinced of the universality of the atonement. I freely confess, that in my present views, I cannot comprehend how the Redeemer of mankind can be said to have completely destroyed the works of the devil, or how grace can be said to abound much more than sin, unless all the evils introduced by sin are to be counteracted by grace. Therefore, on that subject, and also on the limited signation of everlasting, and eternal, when punishment is spoken of, I think I may say we are agreed. And the meaning of these terms (everlasting, &c.), as applied in scripture to different subjects, I have been at great pains to discover. There is a want, however, in your writings, in my opinion, that 1 beg leave to notice. It is this ;—although preaching damnation is not preaching the gospel, yet either in preaching, or in writing from the scriptures, a man should "not shun to declare the whole counsel of God." To dwell always on the bright side of the picture, you can neither plead the example of Christ, nor his apostles, nor prophets. I would like to know your sentiments on the future punishment of the wicked, either through the medium of your journal, or privately.
fcrttt r dF.tftJj.
From the Corresponding and Religious Tract Society
i Dear Sir,
Understanding that you are a believer in the final restoration of all mankind, to purity and happiness, by Jesus
Christ—we, the undersigned, on behalf of the G Universalists'
Corresponding and Religious Tract Society, take the freedom to write to you. Your valuable Essay has made us well acquainted with your abilities, as a writer, either in a theological or philosophical point. We, therefore, desire to commence a mutual correspondence with you, Dear Sir, and what can be more gratifying to the philanthropist, than to hear from brethren who profess the glorious doctrine of reconciliation—to rejoice in their successes, and sympathize in their disappointments. And, although we may differ from one another in some doctrinal points, yet we scorn, and abhor the narrow-mindedness of those, who, for the the least difference in religious sentiments, would not give the right hand of fellowship. We look upon all men as free to judge for themselves; and we ourselves, as a body, claim this valuable privilege; we admire the candour, and true courage of those, who openly avow their sentiments, and, in spite .of all opposition, continue steadfastly to countenance and support what they esteem to be truth.
Our Society is but in an infant state, being only instituted last August;. it is expressly for conducting correspondence with those who profess the heavenly doctrine of universal reconciliation, and advancing the interests of the truth, by publishing and dispersing small tracts, in which the errors of the systems of men are exposed; and the long-established false notions of election, perseverance, and predestination refuted, in so far as they do not agree with the word of God, and the true character of our Heavenly Father, stated and defended. We are the only body, that we know of, in Europe, established on like principles; and, although we meet with much opposition, yet we count this our honour—that we are thus privileged to be accounted worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ; he promised to .his disciples persecution in the world, and the disciples are not above their Lord; for he first partook of the bitter draught, and sealed his testimony with his precious blood—which blood, we rejoice to believe, will not be shed in vain.
Dear Sir, we are happy to learn, that the cause of God and man, is rapidly advancing; and that men are beginning to perceive, how they have been hood-winked by a time-serving clergy; who, for the filthy lucre of this world, are willing to continue the empire of darkness, and deprive the blessed Jesus of the reward of his sufferings, on behalf of guilty man. But we look forward to a time, we hope not far distant, when the watchmen on the towers of Zion, will proclaim the gospel of glad-tidings to all people. The harvest truly is plentious, but labourers, faithful labourers, are very few.
Trusting, that you, Sir, will favour us with your correspondence, we shall expect an answer as soon as convenient, giving us an account of the spirit of religious inqury, in and about M . We,
therefore, conclude our letter, with our warmest wishes for your welfare; that you may long continue to be an advocate for truth and consistency, in this our day and generation, and end your mortal career with joy, is the prayer of, :--
N.B.-We have enclosed two dozen of tracts, published by our Society, to distribute among your friends, in your quarter, we hope they will be acceptable.
This is to inform you that, in the month of April, I went to London on a visit to the friends there, who profess the same, or similar views of the gospel; and I have but recently returned: this accounts for the interruption or suspension of our correspondence. The Universalists, in London, have a chapel at Finsburysquare: they are not numerous; but those individuals who form their society, are very respectable in life. They have lately suffered much inconsequence of the death of their preachers, and aged members; and seemed very anxious that, if possible, I should return the ensuing spring. The congregation had much increased, during my stay in London: some particulars you will find in the “Gospel Communicator.” I, therefore, shall only state, that I also visited a small society in Staffordshire, as I was returning homeward, and spent a Lord's day with them. Their elder is a very sensible man;
he was formerly a Glassite, and afterwards a Baptist; but not finding any real consolstion in the partial systems—and having after
wards, by means of a publication which had fallen into his hands, formed a correspondence with the London church—he became a Universalist; and now, he says, he enjoys the blessings of christian liberty! He has published a defence of Christ's Deity, a copy of which I have ventured to send you. Hoping to hear from you, as soon as convenient, I remain, - - Dear Sir,
Your's truly, in the bond of the gospel,
- . W.