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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 I beg leave to no
tice. It is this;–although preaching damnation is not preaching
the gospel, yet either in preaching, or in writing from the scrip
tures, 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 pro
phets. I would like to know your sentiments on the future pun
ishment of the wicked, either through the medium of your journal,
From the Corresponding and Religious Tract Society
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 philoso
phical point. We, therefore, desire to commence a mutual correspondence with you, Dear Sir, and what can be more gratifying to the philanthrophist, 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 mor- .
tal career with joy, is the prayer of, * . o: Dear Sir, Your's, in the bonds of Christ, '' . \ D. S. Signed, ... J. P. W. C.
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. -
From W- W. to the Author. -
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 theirpreachers, andaged 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, o * > Your's truly, in the bond of the gospel, o - W. W.
From the Author, to the Corresponding and Religious Tract Society, in answer to theirs, received twenty months before.
DEAR BRETHREN, - In looking over my file of correspondence, I find your valuable letter addressed to me, so far back as the 6th December, 1824. I shall not attempt to apologize for not answering it, in due course. In a letter to your pastor, Mr. W-, shortly afterwards, I gratefully acknowledged the receipt of your's, and the pamphlets you sent, which acknowledgment I requested him to communicate to you. But, I own that this is not enough, and must take blame to myself. The truth is, I am conscious that I do not possess those abilities, either as a theological or philosophical writer, which you seem to ascribe to me, so that I have felt the more difficulty in writing to you. I shall now, however, throw off all such restraint, and send you a few lines—yet, I scarcely know how I shall begin.
In the first place, I regret exceedingly that you should have been obliged to discontinue the publication of the Gospel Communicator. With the exception of a few papers, it is, I think, an excellent work, and calculated to do much good, would people but read it. But, although I agree with you, in some measure, respecting Missionary and Bible Societies (for I judge of your sentiments, as a body, from that work), and although I would approve of a temperate and candid censure, where the agents are reprehensible, yet, I cannot help thinking that, in several instances, your oppoisition is carried so far as to hurt peoples' minds, and, consequently, do more harm than good. I shall just refer you to the paper upon “goats milk,” (Vol. 1st, p. 43), I might also refer to p. 11, and other papers. But, indeed, Mr. W-informed me, that the one first mentioned, was inserted by request, and I am aware of the difficulties of an Editor under such circumstances. I always find, however, that it has a better effect to combat religious errors and
prejudices with gentleness than with ridicule."
oi , "I have just received, by the Steam-boat, a small note from Mr. W saying—“Things have lately transpired respecting the Bible Society which fully justify my remarks.” Now, I maintain, that it is no proof that the
There is another subject about which I wrote to Mr. Wlong ago, and requested his views upon it, “either through the medium of your journal, or privately,” but he has taken no notice of it. Probably you may “supply his lack of service" in this respect. I mentioned that, although preaching condemnation was not preaching the gospel, yet I conceive, that either in preaching, or in writing, a man should “not shun to declare the whole counsel of God.” Now, in your writings, you hardly ever advert to the punishment of the wicked at all, so far as I have observed. I hate the extremes of the Calvinist, on the one hand, who, with the utmost complacency, deals damnation around him, almost upon all occasions; while, on the other hand, I would dislike that you should go to the opposite extreme, by keeping it almost entirely out of sight. As I remarked to Mr. W-, “to dwell always upon the bright side of the picture, you neither can plead the example of Christ, nor his apostles, nor prophets.” And if the following passages have not a reference to the punishment of the wicked, beyond this life, I am a loss to know their meaning, (Psalm, ix. 17; Matthew, xxv. 41 ; Luke, xvi. 23; John, v. 29; 2 Corinthians, v. 10; Hebrews, ix. 27; 2 Peter, iii. 7; Revelations, vi. 8—xxi 8, &c. &c.)
Imust nowbegin to tell you that, although our correspondence has been long suspended, and although, from my daily avocations, I have had very little leasure, for a long time past, yet I have not been altogether without thinking on the subject of universal reconciliation, and occasionally searching the scriptures in reference to it. My publication, which you saw, was confessedly, and very evidently, the production of a novice. Since that time, I have more maturely considered the subjects, about which I then wrote ; and the result is, that I have called in the unsold copies of my work, from wilich I have extracted the “Reflections on Nature, Christianity, and Providence.” My former thoughts on the origin of
system itself is wrong, because it has been abused, and its funds most disgracefully misapplied, and appropriated, by a set of canting hypocritical clergy, and others, whose God, they profess, is the God of the Bible; but whose God, whom they worship and serve, is mammon. Have we not seen many profess christianity, and, ultimately, disgrace their professiou? Does that, therefore, prove christianity to be bad? Neither does 'the disgraceful conduct of certain individuals, engaged in disseninating the scriptures, prove that it is not a laudable work.