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PRE FAC E.
W ILL the Supreme Judge of the world, in the last day,
W sentence us to everlasting life or punishment accord. ing to our characters formed in this state? So Christ hath expressly taught us; and it is of moft interesting importance to every one, to know and realize it. This was the faith of the Jewish and Christian church in the days of inspiration. This hath been the common faith of the Christian church ever since. This was the faith of our pious forefathers in this land; and hath been the undisputed faith of their posterity, until the prefent age. And considering the powerful, falutary tendency and influence of this doctrine, for the good of men in this world and world to come, is it not to be lamented, that this important article of the Christian faith, should be drawn into question ? But so it is. The contrary doctrine, “ that all men fhall be saved,” is now exhibited to public examination. -A clear stage-fair dealing and argumentation-we ask no more.--Great is the power of truth, and it will prevail. Christ hath furnished his fervants with sufficient ability and faithfulnefs, from age to age, to vindicate the faith once delivered to the saints; and to unmask and expose error, however disguised by art and sophisty; nor need we question it in the present or any future day.
When I read the pamphlet, intitled, “ Salvation for all Men,” printed in Boston, 1782, I viewed it as an opening wedge of controverfy ; and thought it duty to turn my tho'ts upon the best method of defending the doctrine of the future punishment, as commonly received in the Chriftian world; which
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to me appeared, might as well be supported as any doctrine of like importance, in divine revelation. The plan now exhibited, appeared well adapted to the purpose ; and I had bem gun to write upon it before I knew of any answers to that pamphlet. . Several answers have since appeared, which, in my judgment, are well executed upon their respective plans : And more is said than enough to answer that piece; the com. mon faith is substantially supported in them : But the controversy doth not rest. A much more laboured treatise, in support of that impladed tenet, is imported among us, printed in London, 1784. It requires an answer-none hath yet appear ed ;--and as the plan now exhibited, is very different from that of those who have gone before me, and on that account may give the reader an advantage to see truth represented and error exposed in various points of view; it is thought this publication may be needful and useful.
The two first parts of it, have lain by me more than a year. Indeed, the second part was delivered in public discourses, in the fall 1783, in a time of uncommon general sickness in this place, which is the occasion of its appearance in the present form. Having turned my attention to the subject, and not knowing that I should live to publish any thing upon it, I. thought it duty to endeavour to establish my hearers in a point of so great importance. The public were notified in 1783, an ingenious work would be published, “ wherein the subject is exhausted ;" which I waited to see till October, 1784... The third part; is chiefly taken up in a reply to this, which I 3 suppose to be the anonymous treatise forementioned, intitled, . “ The mystery hid from ages and generations, made manifest by gospel revelation : or, the salvation of all men the grand thing aimed at in the scheme of God, as opened in the NewTestament writings, and entrusted with Jesus Christ to bring into effect;" Printed in London, 1784. It contains 406 pages, exclusive of the preface. It is wrote with ingenuity and much labour, with a display of learning and critical geni. us, with an appearance of much candour and benevolence; but with a sufficient degree of contempt of the whole Christian
world, papal and protestant, common annotators and Christian writers, who differ from the author ; accompanied with a va. riety of insinuating arguments of address, plausible argumentations, and pretensions of good in the doctrine. Wherefore, if the author is mistaken, and it is fitted only to establish a ruinous error, the more plausibly it is wrote, it becomes the more, ensnaring and dangerous to the reader. .
It may not be amiss, to give a sketch of the general scheme of doctrine in it; which I take to be this.-In respect to the doctrine of the Trinity, it is Arianism ;-respecting that of imputation, Socianism ;-in respect to the doctrines of grace as commonly called, Pelagianism ;-in respect to the intermedia ate state between death and the resurrection, so far as I can collect the sentiment, it better agrees with the Muggletonians than the common christian doctrine ;-in respect to the future judgment, it is fingular ; it will be final, and there will be no other public judgment; and yet it will not be decisive by un alterably fixing the states of good or bad men ; the sentences will never be reversed by any future judgment; and yet will be temporary, and not of perpetual and everlasting force; in respect to the future state after the last judgment, his transmutation states better agrees with the notion of some of the old heathens than with thechristian system, it beingwholly unknown in the revelations of God.--And in his doctrine of purgatory, he surpasses the popes, clergy, and church of Rome itself; for his begins after the last judgment, when theirs is ended. !
Whether these are the author's true sentiments, or only an adopted scheme to support the doctrine of Universal Salvation, is not so material to me or the reader ; nor is it my design to combat these principles any farther than the subject in debate is concerned ; or the settling the construction of some disputed texts may require. But it is thus stated with a view to these two remarks: One is, those who are settled in the firm belief of the contrary articles of the christian faith, are in no great danger of becoming universalifts, on this plan; they would be great loosers by such a change: they must sacrifice doctrines of far greater importance than this fully error can be supposed
to be. The other, and principal remark, is this : If this imi pleaded tenet cannot be lupported upon this plan, it is in vain to hope for it upon any other whatever. The ingénuity and ability of this writer is inconteftible; and he hath spared no labor and pains in the cäufe. He had all the world of doc. lines, of truth and error to choose out of; and he hath taken his stand of support and defence upon this foundation; and if he now fails of lupporting it, when enforced with all the aid of those learned men, Mr. Whilton, Scot; Hartly, Hallet, &c. and is re-enforced again with Gog and Magog, under the ind Auence of the devil, introduced to bring up the rear of support to one important part of the scheme, it is in vain to hope it can ever be supported upon any plan of doctrine whatever. In this fensé, « the subject is truly exhausted." This being by far the most plaufibỉy wrote, in which their strength is cole lected, and " the subject exhausted;" should it fail of support, the universalifts, if wise, for their own fake, will not attempt to mend it, for the parts do now hang badly together, and should they joftle and alter the posts and pillars of it, the superstructure certainly falls to ruin with its own weight. Whether it be now fupported, or is supportable by any means whatever; the reader who carefully attends to the following work in all the parts of it, may be under forne advantage to judge. One thing, perhaps, fhould not be wholly passed over, and may be noticed here, inasmuch as it did not naturally fall in any where in the last part. We are told, in order to the ada mission of this scherne, « some generally received doctrines must be given up, and that it is high time they should be renounced and others embraced in their room, more honourable to the father of mercies, and comfortable to the creatures whom his hands have formed.Page 14. What are the articles tõ be embraced in the room of thofe of the christian and proteftant faith, which are to be renounced? Why, it feems, we are to receive it as a first principle, that the end of the creation of the moral world was the happiness of the creature ; and that if God foreknew any of them (say the devil and his angels and the finally wicked of mankind) would, by the abuse of their