Elhanan Winchester.

The universal restoration. Exhibited in four dialogues between a minister and his friend ... chiefly designed fully to state, and fairly to answer the most common objections that are brought against it, from the Scriptures online

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and know that Christ is sent from God ?

Minister. When all that believe shall be one,
as the Father and Son are one. When the
great marriage of the Lamb shall be celebrated,
and his bride shall be one, in the bond of uni-
versal love and fellowship, as the Father and
Son now are: when the church shall be perfect-
ed in one; shall dwell in love, and dwell in God,
as the Father dwells in the Son, and the Son in
the Father: when Zion's watchmen shall see
eye to eye: when all believers shall speak the
same thing; when there shall be no more divis-
ions among them; when they shall be perfect-
ly joined together in the same mind, and in the
same judgment.

This was the state that St. Paul besought the
Corinthians to press after, and wished them to-
attain; but he had the mortification to see them
fall short of it, as all the Christian churches
have, from that day to this. But when Christ
shall give that glory and honor to his bride,
which the Father gave to him, and shall thus
unite her to himself, in an indissoluble union ,"^
and the several members of his body. the Church,
shall be as much united one to another, as the
members af the natural body are; or, to express
it in his own words, "As thou, Father^ art in me, \
and Jin //lee." When thus the church shall be
one, in spirit, love, design, judgement, &c. as the
Father and Son are; then shall the world be-
lieve, and believing, have life; then shall the



UNIVERSAL RESTORATION. 157

world know him, whom to know is life eternal.
See verses 2 and 3. But as this great cause
has neve? yet existed, the effect has not yet fol-
lowed; but when the first shall be, the last shall
take place in consequence.

The petitions in that most excellent prayer,
that may, with great propriety be called the
Lord's prayer, may be divided into four classes.
1. For himself, verses 1st and 5th. 2. For his
apostles, 9, 19. 3. For them that should believe
through their word, 20, 21, 22, 23. And 4. for
the world, verses 21, 23: as I have just observ-
ed, and need not add any more upon so plain a
matter.

Fnend. Proceed, if you please, to show, that
the doctrine of the tmiversality of the death of
Christ does not lead to licentiousness.

Minister. It is evident that it doth not; but
on the contrary, it is the strongest motive to all
who believe it, to love and live to him who died
for them, and rose again. We are not our oivn,
but are bought ivilh a 'price; therefore, we are
exerted not to be the servants of sin, slaves to
our passions, and servants to men; but to glori-
fy God in our bodies and spirits, which are his;
and the apostle beseeches us by the mercies of
God, to present our bodies a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable unto God; which is our reason-
able service. Forasmuch, as we know that we
were not redeemed with corruptible things, as sil-
ver & gold; but with the precious blood of Christ,
as of a Lamb without blemish, and without spot.
See 2 Cor. v. 15. Rom. vi. 12, 13. 1 Cor. vii.
23. vi. 19,20. Rom. xii. 1. 1 Pet. i. 13, 19.

14



158 DIALOGUES ON THE

What a horrid thought would it be, that Christ
should be the minister. of sin, and that his blood-
shedding should cause wickedness to abound!
The love of God in giving his Son to die, is
enough to move a heart of stone. "For when !
we were yet without strength, in due time, Christ
died for the ungodly, for, scarcely for a righteous
man will one die; yet peradventure, for a good
(kind, benevolent, generous) man some would
even dare to die. But God commendeth his
love towards us, in that, while we were yet sin-
ners, Christ died for us. Much more being now
justified through his blood, we shall be saved
from wrath through him. For if when we were
enemies, we were reconciled to God by the
death of his Son; much more, being reconciled,
we shall be saved by his life." Rom. v. 6, 10.

Here the death of the Lord Jesits is laid as
the ground and the salvation of men inferred
from it, wth the greatest possible certainty; yet,
will any one say, that because Christ hath died
for him, therefore he will indulge himself in sin?
God forbid. Some say that if they believed
this doctrine, they would live in sin; and in-
dulge themselves in their lusts and passions:
but then it may be observed, that those who say
so are its enemies, and those who oppose the
view, and not those who receive it.

There is something so brutish and unaccount-'
able in such dispositions, as would lead men to
hate their best friends, merely because they are
so; that would lead them to hate God, because
he loved them; despise Christ, merely be-
cause he died for them; that for the honor
of human nature^ I would hope these instan-



UNIVERSAL RESTORATION. 159

ces are rare. But to the point; I have conversed
with many who beheve that Clinst died for them
in particular; and yet I never heard them say,
that they hated him for it; but, on the contrary,
'that they loved him exceedingly. Now, is not
the same cause likely to produce the same ef-
tect? If a thousand persons, for instance, all be-
lieving that Christ died for them, find their hearts
constrained to love him for it, would it not have
the same effect upon ten thousand, ten millions,
or ten millions of millions? — And if it would
cause licentiousness to abound in the world, to
preach that Christ died for all, if it was univer-
sally believed; by the same rule it must cause
it to prevail, in a lesser degree, to preach that lie
died for a small part, at least, among those who
believe themselves to be of the number; and,
therefore, it must not be preached at all, that he
died for any ? — Who can deny the consequence ?
It seems to be evident, that Christ has done and
suffered too much for those that he died for, to
lose them finally; and thus the universal Res-
toration stands connected necessarily with the
universality of the death of Christy and is dedu-
ced therefrom, in the eaisest manner; therefore,
the doctrine of the former cannot tend to licen-
tiousness, as it stands upon the ground of the
latter J which hath been demonstrated to have no
such tendency.

4. Another principle upon which the univer-
sal doctrine depends, is, the nnchangeableness of
God: whom he loves once, he also loves; he
loved his creatures when he made them, as none
can well deny; their sins he never loved, nor ever
will; he hath declared, that he loved us when



160 DIALOGUES ON THE

sinners, but never as sinners. His eternal and
constant hatred of all sin, and his unchangeable
love of all his creatures, are of the nature of
primary truths from which the doctrine of the
general Restoration may be easily and plainly
inferred. In this view we may understand those
many dreadful threatenings and gracious promis-
es, made to the same people and persons: both
shall be fulfilled ; the first, while they continue
as rebels, which are designed to humble and
subdue them; the last, Avhen they shall have
accepted of the punishment of their iniquity;
when their uncircumcised hearts are humble,
when their stubborn knees shall bow to Jeho-
vah, and their former rebellious tongues shall
swear allegiance to him.

Does this idea lead to licentiousness, that God .
hates sin, and determines to pursue it to entire
destruction, and never to put up his sword so
long as there is a rebel in the universe; yet, at
the same time, has no positive hatred to the
souls which he has made, but only wishes them
to return to order.'' — This idea appears to me,
equally to check presumption and despair; and
tends to put an end to licentiousness, rather than
to encourage it: for if rebels are assured that
their rightful sovereign hates them, and will never
suffer them to be reconciled to him, it naturally
causes them to fight with tenfold rage, as all
warriors will testify: as on the other hand if
they believe he is too weak, or undetermined, to
conquer them, they will be presumptuous, and
continue the war. It cannot, therefore, be af-
firmed, by any person of reason, that the dec-
laration that God will destroy sin tends to pro-



UNIVERSAL RESTOKATIor^. 161

mote it; or, that his love ot' order, and hatred of*
evil, being compatible with his love to tlie crea-
tures he has made, is a doctrine that encoura-
ges men to rebel; the contrary is evident; and
yet these are the verv grounds of the Univer-
sal Restoration; which cannot therefore be li-
centious.

5, Another of the first principles of the Resto-
ration is, the ImmidabiUfy of God^s counsels; which
he hath confirmed by an oath, ''That by two
immutable things (viz. his word and oath) in
which it was impossible for God to lie, we might
have a strong consolation, who have fled for ref-
uge, to lay hold upon the hope set before us."
lleb vi. 17,18. "God hath abounded towards
us in all wisdom and prudence, having made
known unto us the mystery of his will, accord-
ing to his good pleasure which he hath purposed
in himself. That in the dispensation of the ful-
ness of times, he might gather together (or re-
head) in one, all things in Chrisl, both which are
in heaven, and which are on earth even in him;
in whom we have obtained an inheritance, being
predestined according to the purpose of him
who worketh all ilimgs according to the counsel
of his own will." Ephes. i. 8, 9., 10, 11. God is
our Saviour (or Soferos, Restorer) who will have
all men to be saved, (sothenciiy restored) and to
come unto the knowledge of the truth." 1 Tim.
ii. 3, 4. This is the will and counsel of that God,
who ''Doth according to his will in the armies of
heaven, and among the inhabitants of tlie earth;
and none can stav his hand, or say unto hinf,
what doest thou ?" Dan. iv. So. He hath sworn
bv himself, the word is gone out of his niouth in

14*



162 DIALOGUES ON THE

righteousness, and shall not return, that unto
him " every knee shall bow, every tongue shall
swear." Isaiah, xlv. 23. The counsel of God
shall stand; he will perform his pleasure, notwith-
standing all the opposition that men can make ;
God is not a man, that he should lie, neither the
son of man, that he should repent. Hath he
said, and shall he not do it? or, hath he spoken,
and shall he not make it good?" Numb, xxiii. 19.
If God will have all men to be saved &l restored,
and to come" to the knowledge of the truth, if it is
his good pleasure which he hath purposed in him-
self, in the dispensation of the fulness of times,
to rehead all things in Christ, both in heaven
and on earth; if he hath sworn that unto him
every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall
swear; and if he worketh all things after
the counsel of his own will, and is determined
to perform all his pleasure, which he is able to
do; and with him nothing that he pleases is
impossible, I say if all these things are true, (as
who, that believes the Scriptures, can deny;)
then, is not the doctrine of the Restoration true?
And who will venture to charge that with licen-
tiousness, which God, in the counsel of his will
hath purposed, and is determined to perform?
We know, that the will of God is a will to all
goodness, and that he cannot do any thing un-
just or contrary to his holy nature, or incon-
sistent with his plan of moral government, or
that shall tend to promote rebelhon; therefore, if
God had seen that this great work had been, in
any respect injurious to his perfections, char-
acter, government, &c. he would not have pro-
posed it; and if he had foreseen that the know!-



UNIVERSAL RESTORATION. 163

.edge of it would have been hurtful to mankind,
he would not have revealed it: but since he hath
done jDoth, we may certainly argue that it is
not a licentious doctrine to declare, that God
will finally make all his intelligent creatures
happy; by making them all his subjects, by de-
stroying their sins, and making them holy, in a
way perfectly consistent with all his perfections
and attributes; without doing the least injury to
his character, or rendering his moral government
weak, or making any of his words void, wheth-
er threatenings or promises, or in the least setting
aside the sanctions of his law or gospel, or a fu-
ture state of rewards and punishments; without
derogating at all from the glory of the Mediator,
but rather exalting it to the highest possible
pitch vvithout saddening the hearts of the right-
eous, or diminishing in the least, from the hap-
piness of Heaven, but rather causing it to in-
crease; for if there is joy in Heaven over one
j sinner that repenteth, there must be more over
I many, in exact proportion; and as God will cer-
i tainly give greater possible joy to his chosen, &
I there is no doubt but it will receive addition from
€very one that is restored, or brought home to
himself; therefore, it can only be brought to its
highest possible pitch by the universal Restora-
tion; which doctrine cannot, therefore, be licen-
tious, as God has appointed and revealed it, and
all holy beings (except some weak good men
on earth) rejoice therein exceedingly.

6. Another of the principles on which the
general Restoration is founded is, that God hath
given all things into the hand of Christy who hath
declared, that it is the Father'^s will, that of all



164 DIALOGUES ON THE

thai he gave him he should lose nothing; and that ,
power was given him over all, that he should
give the knowledge of God, even eternal life, to
all that the Father had given him ; and that a//,
without exception, whom the Father hath given,
shall come in such a manner as not to be cast
out: But as all these scriptures have been recit-
ed, and reasoned upon before, I shall only now
observe that as God the Father hath given all
things to Christ, and as he hath engaged to
bring all back, without exception, and hath both
wi// and j9ou'er to perform this work, and came
into the world on purpose to accomplish it, it
must of consequence, be finally performed; yet
it cannot tend to licentiousness, or the God of
Heaven, and the Lord Jesus Christ, would nev-
er have planned it, approved it, or sought to ex-
ecute it.

Many more first principles, on which the doc-
trine of the Restoration is founded, might be
mentioned, and shewn to be far from tending to
licentiousness. But I shall mention but one
more; and that is — The Scriptures must be,fuU
filled; the Sciptures canuoi be broken: None of
the words of God can fail of being accomplished;
and he hath not only denounced dreadfiil threat-
enings, but made many gracious promises to the
same people. These cannot be fulfilled togeth-
er; — and if there is no truth in the Restora-
tion, I cannot see how^ the latter will ever be ful
filled at all; and if sins are not punished in the
persons v/lio commit them, lam equally at a loss
what sense or truth there can be in the former.
It would be a great task to collect all the texts
which justify remark, that threatcnings and prom-



UNIVERSAL RE:ST0RATI0N. 165

ises belong to the same people in different peri-
ods, some specimens of which have been given
in the course of these dialogues. Novi', it can-
not lead to licentiousness, to suppose that the
Scriptures shall all be fulfilled; but it must lead
to infidehty, and all kinds of evil to suppose the
contrary.

These are the first principles upon which the
doctrine of the Restoration stands, and by which
it is supported; and as these have all been
considered, and proved to have no tendency
to encourage sin, separately, much less can they
have any such tendency, jointly; and then it ev-
idently follows, that a doctrine which seems ne-
cessarily deduced, or inferred by undeniable con-
sequences, from all these considerations united,
cannot be false, or have any evil tendency.

But I shall next proceed to shew, that all true,
experimental, and practical rehgion, seems so
consistent with the universal Restoration, that it
may be reconed a wonder, that all who have
tasted that the Lord is gracious, and have dili-
gently practised his commands, have not in all
ages been fully convinced of the truth of it.

Friend. Is it possible that you can do this?
If so, I hope your reasoning will be attended to;
jand I must confess, that you have cleared your
way so well, by considering the first princi-
ples of the doctrine, and shewing that they are
very far from tending to licentiousness, that I am
half inclined to think you will be able to answer
this objection, formidable as it has been consid-
ered hitherto.

Minister. As I trust you have been made ac-
quainted with experimental religion, I need only
appeal to your own experience, for the truth of



1(36 DIALOGUES ON THE

what I advance; and I am apt to think, if you
will answer me candidly, to a few questions, you
must acknowledge either that the Restoration is
true, or that your experience is false.

Friend. I am willing to give you as plain and
candid answers as I can; for it will be of no use
to deny what the Lord has done for my soul.

Mimster. Let me then ask you in the first
place, did you not see yourself lost and undone;
and that you were vile before God, unworthy of
his mercy, and totally unable to deliver yourself
from your sin and misery ?

Fnend. I certainly did; and I was some-
times ready to think there Vv-as hardly such a
sinner on earth as myself, all circumstances con-
sidered; for I had sinned against such light and
love, that I thought all the world might be for-
given sooner than myself.

Minisier. And were you not brought by the
power of God, to resign yourself into his hands,
without reserve, to do with you, and dispose of
you, according to his will and pleasure; being
convinced, that he neither would nor could do
you any injustice .''

Friend. O yes; and then I founiil peace; my
rebeUion against God ceased; I looked upon
him quite differently from what I did before; I
saw that he was wholly right and just, and that
I was entirely to blame. My murmurings agai nst
him ceased; I viewed him as such a holy, good,
merciful, and yet righteous God, that I could
trust my soul in his hands, with the most entire
satisfaction.

Minister. And when Ckrisl was revealed to
you as a Saviour, how did he appear?



UNIVF.RSAL RESTORATION. ]G7

Friend. As one able and mighty to save,
even to the uttermost; and I thought there was
not only a sutliciency in him for me, the vilest of
all, but for the whole world, yea for a thousand
worlds, had there been so many. His blood
seemed to me so precious, his obedience and suf-
ferings so meritorious, his power so great, his
love so rich, boundless and free, that I was over-
come with the transporting view. And as I saw
in him a fullness for ail, so I found in him an in-
finite wiUinjTness to save all: for how could I
think ^otherwise? I knew myself to be most un-
worthy, and that he had graciously pitied me: I
beheld his love, like a river, flowing down to me
as free as water; and I was amazed that I had
not beheld it before, in the same light. I saw
that the lov^ of God to me, did not now begin.,
but was now manifested to my soul. I saw that
there was no change in God, but all in myself
These v/ords were pecious to my heart at that
time. "Yea, I have loved thee with an ever-
lasting love; — therefore with loving kindness
have I drawn thee." Jer. xxxi. 3. As also
these; "Son be of good cheer; thy sins be for-
given thee," St. Matth. ix. 2.

Minister. You have brought my own exper-
ience to my mind: It pleased God, by an inci-
dent too trifling to mention, to bring me to seek
earnestly for an unfading treasure; and by a
train of circumstances, fixed the concern deep-
Iyupoi;i my mind; and I labored night and day,
but could obtain no rest, till one morning — a
time never to be forgotten! — as I was walking
on a journey, under great distress, and when
deliverance seemed farther from me than ever.



168 DIALOGUES ON THE

all at once I was brought to resign my soul into
the hands of God, and thus I expressed myself:
"Lord, here I am: a poor helpless sinner: I
resign myself into thine hands; take me, and deal
with me just as thou pleasest. I know thou canst
do me no injustice." Immediately these words
came into my mind, with great power and sweet-
ness. "In an acceptable time have I heard thee;;
and in a day of salvation have I helped thee."
Isa. xlix. 8. and I had then such a view or
Christ, as to make me cry out "Glory to God*
in the highest! This is salvation; I know this is
salvation!" Then those passages which you
have mentioned, came into my mind with great
energy; and I saw the fulness, sufficiency, and
willingness of Christ to save me and all men,
in such a manner as constrained me to venture
my soul into his arms; and if I had ten thousands
souls, I could have trusted them all in his hands.
And O how did I long, that every soul of Ad-
am's race might come to knov/ the love of God
in Christ Jesus! And I thought I could not be
willing to live any longer on earth, unless it
might please God to make me useful to my fel-
low creatures.

" What peaceful hours I then er.joyed !

" How sweet their memory still !
'* But they have left an aching void

" The world can never fill."

This is a little abstract of what God did then
graciously teach me by his Spirit; but I had
been brought up in that particular system and in
the course of a few years came to be so firmly
attached to it, as to refuse, in my preaching, to
make general invitations to mankind at large;



UNIVERSAL RESTORATION. 169

rightly reasoning with myself, that if provision
was only made for a small part, I had no war-
rant to call or invite the whole to come and par-
take; and therefore only pressed the duty on
such and such characters, as hunp'y, ihirsiyj wea-
ry, heavy laden, such as were without moneyy
sensible sinners, &c. all of which I concluded to
be of the elect, because I judged the Spirit* had
begun to operate savingly upon their hearts;
and that to these, and these only, the Scriptures
directed invitations to be made ; never consider-
ing that text — " Hearken unto me, ye stout
hearted, that are far from righteousness. I
bring near my righteousness; and it shall not be
far off, and my salvation shall not tarry." Isa.
xlvi. 12, 13. During the time that I remained
in this close hearted system, laboring with all my
might to maintain it, I chanced to come to a
house where, as far as I can judge, was a very
sensible and pious young woman, whom I never
saw before or since. She gave a very judicious
account of the work of grace upon her heart ;
but when she came to that part, where she said
she beheld an infinite fulness in Christ for all
the world, 1 interrupted her, and told her, that
could not be; for there was no provision made
for all, and therefore it was impossible that she
could have any such discoveries made to her by
the Spirit of God. This I insisted upon, accord-
ing to my system, contrary to my experimental
knowledge; (O the mischiefs of bigotry, preju-
dice, and vain attachment to system !) she, on the
contrary, maintained, that she clearly viewed
matters in that light; and that she certainly was
taught to believe, that inChrist there was a fulness

15



170 DIALOCUJES ON THE

St freeness for all. This I denied ; St she was there-
by prevented from finishing what she had begun.
I can never forgive myself, for the opposition I
made to what I knew to be truth by experience;
and as I did not inquire the name of the person,
I have had no opporturiity of making a recanta-
tion by letter, as I ought to have done; and hav-
ing never been in the place since, and it being
highly improbable that ever I shall again, I feel
myself extremely hurt, whenever I think of it.

Friend. I can but admire the agreement be-
tween us in matters of experience; for I found
the same dispositions of mind that you mention-
ed, when it pleased God to reveal his Son in me.
Minister. 1 never found an experienced
Christian in my life, but would give much the
same account, provided that his system was not
in sight; and I have found some, that though
they were violently attached to the contrary
system, and knew my intention in asking the
questions; yet answered the following affirma-
tively„

Did you not see and feel yourselves the vilest
of smners?

Did you not view the love of God infinitely
full, free and unmerited?

Did you not behold in Christ an infinite fiil-
ness, sufficiency and willingness, to save all,
without exception.

Did you not love all, and wish all might come
and partake of his grace }

Did you not earnestly desire the salvation of
all, not only of your family, friends, neighbors
and nation; but also of your enemies, and of all


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Online LibraryElhanan WinchesterThe universal restoration. Exhibited in four dialogues between a minister and his friend ... chiefly designed fully to state, and fairly to answer the most common objections that are brought against it, from the Scriptures → online text (page 11 of 20)