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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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the work which his father had given him to do.
In this he was — as in every thing else — a glori-
ous pattern and example for us! And, O that
we might follow him! Now we may feed the
hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the na- ■
ked, be eyes to the blind, feet to the lame; may
take in the stranger, relieve the distressed, visit
the sick, the fatherless, widows and prisoners in
their aiSliction; may bury the dead, and con-
stantly perform works of benevolence and mer-
cy, while we remain in this state of our exist-
ence; which if we here neglect, we never can
perform at all, and of consequence, never can
obtain the rewards which are promised to the
obedient; but as it is not the state of rewards
and punishments that we are now discoursing
about, but a state beyond — even the Restor-
ation of all things; neither is the dispute about
what men can do after this life, but what God



UNIVERSAL RESTORATION. 231

can do, or what he has purposed to do with
and for them, in the ages to come, after the
dreadful sentence is past; whether thej shall
be left under the same, uhile God erisi; or
whether they shall ever be restored; or wheth-
er they shall be annihilated; this, you know,
is the state of the question; some hold the
.^r.<}/ and others the /ast': but I am ant to think
both these opinions are extremes, and therefore
judge it safest to maintain the second, which I
take to be the medium here.

Friend. Indeed I am convinced, that no cir-
cumstance precedinnj the general judgement,
can affect the argument; because v/e are inform-
ed, that the condemnation of the wicked shall
be at that day, when God will render to them
according to their deeds, and will say to them,
Depart from me, Sec. — But the following texts of
Scripture form a strong objection to the univer- '
sal Restoration, which I would wish you well to
consider.

^'The expectation of the v»'icked shall perish;
and the hypocrite's hope shall perish. Whose
hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a
spider's web. — He shall lean upon his house,
but it shall not stand; he shall hold it fast, but it
shall not endure. The heaven shall reveal his
iniquity, and the earth shall rise up against him.
The eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall
not escape; and their hope shall be as the giving
up of the ghost. His confidence, shall be rooted
out of his tabernacle, and it shall bring him to
the king of terrors. For what is the hope of the
wicked, though he hath gained, when God tak-
eth away his soul ? Will God hear his crv, when



^32 DIALOGUES ON THE

trouble cometh upon him? He that being often
reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be
destroyed, and that without remedy. When a
wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish;,
and the hope of unjust men perisheth. Because
I have called, and ye have refused; I have
stretched out my hand, and no man regarded.
But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and
would none of my reproof; 1 also will laugh at
your calamity, I will mock when your fear com-
eth. When your fear cometh as a desolation,
and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind:
when distress and anguish come upon you: then
shall they call upon me, but I will not answer:
they shall seek me early, but they shall not find
me; for that they hated knowledge, and did not
choose the fear of Jehovah. They would none
of my counsel; they despised all my reproof.
Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their
own way, and be filled with their own devices,'^
Prov. X. 28. Job, viii. 13, 14, 15. xx. 27. xi. 20.
xviii. 14. xxvii. 8, 9. Prov. xxix. 1. xi. 7. 1. 24
—31.

These, and abundance of other similar passa-
ges, declare the future state of the wicked to be
desperate, without hope; they and their hopes
perish together, as the spider's web; they have^
no hopes or prospect of being redeemed; they
can look for nothing but judgement and fiery in-
dignation, which shall devour them as stubble
fully dry, and as thorns cut up shall they be
burned in the fire. Solomon says. "The ex-
pectation of the wicked is Avrath," Prov. xi. 23.
*'As he loved cursing, so shall it come unto him;
sis he delighted not in blessing, so shall it be far



UNIVERSAL RESTORATION. 233

from him. As he clothed himself with cursing,
like as with his garment; so shall it come into
his bowels hke water, and like oil into his bones."
Psal. cix. 17, 18. Indeed he can have no
hopes, when he considers that he hath neglected
so great a salvation all his life; that he hath set
at nought God's counsels, despised his reproofs;
that when his Creator called to him to turn, he
had no ears to hear his voice; and therefore,
when sorrow shall overtake, tho' he may cry, he
shall not be regarded of God; and though hemay
seek, he shall not find; the Master of the house
having risen up, and shut to the door, all knock-
ing for entrance is in vain, even though such
were to plead for admittance in the most earnest
•manner, saying, "Lord, Lord, open to us;" he
shall answer, "I know you notwhenceyou are;"
and though they may reiterate, and expostulate,
saying, "We have eaten and drank in thy pres-
ence, and thou hast taught in our streets," he
shall not be moved, but shall say to them, "I tell
you, I know you not whence you are; depart
from me, all ye workers of iniquity — There shall
be weeping, and gnashing of teeth, when they
shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and
all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and
they themselves thrust out." St. Luke, xiii. 25,
26, 27, 28.— See also St. Matth. vii. 21, 22, 23.
XXV. 11,12.

Minister. These are awful warnings, indeed;
and were they attended to as they ought to be,
would be sufficient, one would think, to deter
men from their evil ways. I am glad that you
have stated them in this most striking point of
iight; for though they form no real objection to

20*



234 DlAlvOGUES ON THE

my views of God's dealing with men, as I un-
derstand the Scriptures, they are an insuperable
bar to the opinions of those who deny a future
state of retribution, which I think impossible
for them to answer fairly. I shall, however, no-
tice briefly, some things in this collection of
Scriptures, in order that my sentiments may ap-
pear in their true light.

1. All the hopes of the wicked, ungodly, and
hypocrites, shall perish at their death.

Perhaps they hoped to have lived long, to
liave enjoyed health, wealth, pleasure, and all
worldly good, for many years; to have seen
their children for many generations, flourishing
for along time on earth; but death destroys _,
these hopes.

The hypocrites might have hoped that they
should have been accepted with God, on the ac-
count of their birth, parentage, profession, rank
among the people of God, observation of the
externals of religion, &c. &c, all of which vain
hopes do certainly perish at death.

The profane and v/icked infidel, and practic-
al atheist, might have hoped, either to have ceas-
ed to exist, or to have found some way of es-
caping the threatened punishment; but death
destroys these hopes also,

2. Whatever may be the final intention of God
towards these miserable creatures, it is evident
they are shut up in a state of keen tormenting
despair, or dreadful suspence, and may be ful-
ly persuaded that they shall never be released,
of which it is likely they may not have even the
most distant hope, or the least degree of knowl-
edge — but, on the contrary, be in fearful expecta-
tion of more terrible punishment hereafter.



UNIVERSAL RESTORATION. 235

3. As they have lived and died in sin, their
destruction, or misery, is certain — and there is
no remedy that can prevent their experiencing
the consequences of their crimes, and suffering
the just punishment which shall be inflicted on
■them, according to their different deserts.

4. They who live and die in rebellion against
God, will be eternally deprived of the glories
& honors of the kingdom of Christ, which other-

'wise they might have possessed; will be exclu-
ded from a s^are in the first resurrection, and will

-he exposed to suffer the torments of the second
4eath; which all must inevitably suffer, who re-

jnain incorrigible till the great day of judgement.

5. As God hath called, and they have refu-
sed, it is but reasonable to suppose, that they in
their turn, shall cry in vain yet nevertheless,
though he may long delay, he may hear their
cries, and deliver them at last. See Psal. cvii.
13, 14, 15, 16.

David, in his Psalm xxxivth, saySj "The face
of Jehovah is against them that do evil, to cut
off the remembrance of them from the earth."
Our translators not understanding, or not enter-
taining an idea of the future Restoration, add,
^^ The righteous cry, and Jehovah heareth, and
delivereth them out of all their troubles." Where-
as the Holy Ghost has put no such words as
the righteous into the text there; but after say-
ing, that the face of Jehovah is against them
that do evil, to destroy them out of the world,
and to make them forgotten, and their names to
cease upon the earth, it adds, a word that signi-
fies Cnjingj and then says, /'And Jehovah
heareth, and delivereth them out of all their



23S DIALOGUES ON THE

troubles;" See ver. 16, 17. This seems indeed
like the doctrine of the Bible, which elsewhere
says, speaking of the notoriously wicked; O my
God, make them like a wheel; as thebtubble be-
fore the wind. As the fire burneththe wood; and
as the flame setteth the mountain on fire; so per-
secute them with ihy tempest, and make them
afraid with thy storm. Fill their faces with
shame, that they may seek thy name, O Jeho-
vah. Let them be confounded, and troubled
for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and
perish. And they shall know (as the Hebrew
word signifies, and as it is rendered in the old
translation) that thou, whose name alone is Je-
hovah, art the most high over all the earth."
Psal. Ixxxiii, 13, 18. Here we see, in a beautiful
and clear manner, that one grand design of God
in bringing judgements, and even what is called
utter destruction, upon men, is that they ^^may
know that he is Jehovah, the true God; and
there are but few intelligent Christians, but
must in some measure, be able to conceive hopes
concerning all those to whom the knowledge of
God is promised.

Though the threatenings in the prophecy of
Ezekiel, both against the Jews and other na-
tions, are uncommonly severe; yet they frequent-
ly close with this gracious promise — "And they
shall know that I am Jehovah," or something
similar; as will evidently appear to those who
will be at the pains of examining the following
passages in that book:

Ezekiel, vi. 7, 10, 13, 14. vii. 4, 9, 27. xi. 10,
12. xii. 15, 16, 20. xii. 9, 14, 21, 23. xiv. 8. xv. 7.
xvi. 62,.xx. 12, 20, 26,38, 42, 44. xxii. 16.



U.NIVF.RSAL RESTOKATlOrC. 237

xxiii. 49. xxiv, 24, 27. xxv. 5, 7, 11, 17. xxvi. 6.
xxviii. 22, 23,24,26. xxix. 6, 9, 16,21. xxx.
8, 19, 25, 26. xxxii. 15. xxxiii. 29. xxxiv. 27,
XXXV. 4, 9, 12, 15. xxxvi. 11, 23, 38. xxxvii. 6y
13. xxxviii. 23. xxxix. 67, 22, 28.

Friend. But does not punishment harden and
inflame offenders instead of softening and hum-
bling them? As we read Isa. viii. 21. ''They
shall curse their Kin^ and their God, and look
upward;" and in Rev. xvi. 9, 10, 11. "And men
were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed
the name of God, which hath power over these
plagues; and they repented not to give him glo-
ry. And they gnawed their tongues for pain, and
blasphemed the God of Heaven, because ©f
their pains and their sores; and repented not of
their deeds."

jyiiniste7\ Punishment to a certain degree, in-
flames and enrages, in a most amazing manner;
Tjut continued longer, and heavier, produces a
contrary effect — softens humbles, and subdues.
When Epbraira of old, bemoaned himself, he
said thus: — "Thou hast chastised me, and I was
chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the
yoke; turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for
ihou art Jehovah, my God." Jer. xxxi. 18. The
metaphor here used, expresses in a most lively
manner the different effects of the same disci-
pline, in its beginning, progress, and end. When
a bullock first has the yoke laid on his neck, he
frets, tosses, and rages exceedingly; but by a
continuance of the dicipline, he is subdued,
brought down, humbled and tamed, so as to
become the most useful and gentle of animals.
The sons of Zion are represented as lying "at



238 DIALOGUES ON THE

the head of all the streets, as a wild bull in a
net; full of the fury of Jehovah, the rebuke of
God." Isaiah, li. 20. A wild bull, in a net must
be a furious creature; so are men when first they
are brought under the Divine correction. But
God knows how to correct men, in such a man-
ner as to bring them to submit to him, in due
time; and though some are so sunk in sin as not
to be reformed, by any means in this life: yet
that is no argument, that God is not able to sub-
due and bring down the proud and most rebell-
ious in another state, by means that may be us-
ed effectually there, though they could not be
used here. God says, by the prophet to Israel,
''Because I have purged thee, and thou wast
not purged, thou shalt net be purged from thy
filthiness any more till I have caused my fury
to rest upon thee. So will I make my fury to-
wards thee to rest, and my jealousy shall depart
from thee; and I will be quiet, and will be no
more angry." Ezek. xxiv. 13. xvi. 42. Some
sins are so daring and presumptuous, as to pro-
voke God to threaten, that they shall not be
purged away in this life; axd, perhaps their ma-
lignancy may be so great, that nothing that can
be used here is able to subdue them. Thus,
Mhen God threatened his people, of old, with
destruction, they turned his threatenings into
ridicule; instead of weeping, mourning, bald-
ness, and girding with sackcloth, to which God
called them; there was nothing but ''joy and
gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating
flesh and drinking wine. — Let us eat and drink,
for to-morrow ue die. x\nd it was revealed in
mine ears, by Jehovah of Hosts, surely thi^



UNIVERSAL RESTORATION. 239

iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die^
fiaith Jehovah, God of Isreal." Isai. xxii. 12, 13,
14.

Thus, punishments are designed for the hum-
bling of the pfoud; but if they fail of answering
that purpose, as administered in the present
state, they will be continued and incresed in fu-
ture periods, to such a degree, as shall bring all
down in due time. Those pains which produced
that rage, and blasphemy, which you mention-
*?d, were all poured out on hardened sinners in
the present life; and v/ere so terrible and severe
■as to produce those fearful etTects, but not suf-
ficiently so as to produce the contrary.

That punishment, to a certain degree, produ-
ces rage, but to a certain degree beyond, produces
submission; may be illustrated by the following
fact, as well as many others, of the same na-
ture.

In the former war between England and
France, there was one Mr. , of Virgin-
ia, who was wagon-master-general in the army
of the Provincials. He was guilty of abusing
his power, by frequently striking the soldiers
with his wagon whip. Complaint being made,
a court martial was held, and he was sentenced
to receive five hundred lashes; which sentence
w^as executed upon him. When he first began
to feel the lash, he was exceedingly enraged,
and cursed those who had thus sentenced him;
swearing that if he lived to be released, he would
kill them all, if possible; for that he valued not his
life in the least, but would revenge this disgrace,
by kiUing them, wherever he found them; and
much more to the same purpose. But, before



240 DIALOGUES ON THE

he had received half his punishment, he de-
clared, that he had not the least disposition to
lift his hand against them; he saw clearly that
they had acted right-, that he had been entire-
ly to blame; and that his punishment was just
After his correction was over, he was led quietly
away, entirely cured of all his rage; from which
he was as much freed by his punishment, as ev-
er an effect was produced by a cause. H/.
was healed of his wounds, and, I think, restsred
to his post. Some tune after the war was over,,
he was passing one day over those mountains in
Virginia, commonly called The Blue Ridge; and
there he met alone one of the men who had '
condemned him, in the court martial, to such ai
punishment. He put him in mind of it; and';
told him that it was now in his power to retaliate
upon him. The other acknowledged, that he,

was in his power; but added, "M— , you:i

know you did wrong, and deserved the pun -
ishment you received; and if you kill me, II
declare, that we did right in sentencing you to^
be whipped; I should do the same, were it to do)
again; and so would you have done, had yom

been in my plac«." Mr. M acknowledg -

ed the truth of it; and was so far from fulfilling hiss
threatenings, that he suffered him to go in peace,,
highly commending him for his conduct. Mr,,

M may be still living; he was a general!

in the American army during the late war, and!

acquired great honor, for his valor and good
conduct.

This I think is an argument ad hominem. I'
have often observed instances of the same na-
ture, in a less degree; and I think it must be ad-



UNIVERSAL RESTORATION. 241

mitted, that although a certain degree of punish-
ment will inflame, harden and enrage; yet far-
ther degrees produce quite contrary etiects. Nor
is punishment the only thing in nature that pro-
duces contrary effects, according to the quanti-
ty used; almost all things do the same, thus wa-
ter with a little salt in it, will cause putrefaction,
much sooner than perfectly fresh water; but let
it be saturated with salt, and it will preserve
bodies that are cast therein. A little salt cast
on the earth is good manure, and causes fruit-
fulness; but a greater quantity produces the
contrary efiect, by causing barrenness. A
little wine refreshes, cheers, invigorates; but ta-
ken to excess, stupifies and intoxicates. And,
to mention no more instances, a little smattering
of knowledge puffs up the mind; but a greater
degree, humbles and brings it down: From
whence,

" DHnk deep, or never taste the spring. ^^

Friend. But let me ask you : when you view
the miserable state of fallen men, the inveterate
obstinacy of their wills, the total aversion that
many have to God, and goodness, their confirmed
habits of evil, their amazing love of vice, their
opposition to every method taken to reclaim
them, and a thousand other dreadful circumstan-
ces, which you must have observed; are you
not ready to despair of their recovery; not for
any want of goodness in God, but through their
total incapacity of ever being made better.
*• Minister. I must confess, this objection has
^reat weight; and I have often been ready to
ajive up my own salvation, on account of the

21



242 DIALOGUES ON THE

evils of my own heart, which sometimes rise,
and prevail in such a manner, as almost driven
me to despair; and I can find no relief but by
flying to Jesus, as my only refuge, and trusting
in his promises; and the case is the same with
respect to the Restoration of all men. My weak
reason tells me, that it cannot be; that it is ab-
solutely impossible, that such hardened rebels
can be so changed to eternity, as to become
willing and obedient subjects; but when faith
prevails, it informs me, that the things v/hich are
impossible with men, are possible with God; that
nothing is too hard for Jehovah; and that he
hath said — '' Behold I am Jehovah, the God oJ
all flesh; is there any thing too hard for me?"
Jer. xxxii. 27. And the example of Abraham
has oflen proved a great support to me in this
case; ''who, against hope, believed in hope,
that he might become the father of many na-
tions; according to that which was spoken, sc
shall thy seed be; and being not v/eak in faith,
he considered not" the impediments, which, tr
the eye of reason, rendered the accomplishment
of the promises improbable, if not impossible. —
" He staggered not at the promises of God.
through unbelief: but was strong in taith, giving
glory to God; and being fully persuaded thai
what he had promised, he was able also to per-
form." Rom.iv. 18, 19,20,21.

This is the only way I ansv/er this objectior
to my satisfaction — God hath sworn, that to hiir.
every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.
Isaiah xlv. 24. — That in the name of Jesus, ev-
ery knee shall bow, of things in heaven, things
oa earth, and things under the earth; and thai



UNIVERSAL RESTORATION. 243

every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is
Lord, to the glory of God the Father, Phil. ti.
JO, 11. That it is tiie mystery of his will, ac-
cording to his good pleasure, which he hath pur-
posed in himself, in the dispensation of the ful-
nes of the times, to gather together, or rehead,
in one, all things in Christ; both which are in
heaven, and which are on earth; even in him,
Ephes. i. 9, 10. And having made peace
through the blood of his cross, he is determined
to reconcile all things unto himself ; whether
things in heaven, or things on earth. Col. i. 20.
■ — That he worketh all things after the counsel
of his own will, Ephes. i. 11. That he will have
all men to be saved, or restored, &c to come unto
the knowledge of the truth, 1 Tmi. ii. 6. That
the Father loveth the Son, and hath given all
things into his hands, St. John, iii. 35. And
that Christ hath said, ^' All that the Father giv-
eth me, shall come unto me ; and him that Com-
eth unto me, I will in no wise cast out." St.
John, vi. 37. When I consider these, and many
such like promises, which I find in the Scrip-
tures; and that he that hath promised, is able to
perform; hath wisdom, power and goodness,
sufficient to accomplish -all his words, how diffi-
cult or impossible soever the matter may seem,
to our carnal, vain and weak reasoning; J cast
the whole of my concern upon him; judging
that he is faithful, who hath promised, and that,
in his own time he will fulfil all his purposes, and
all his promises. But I confess to you, that it
requires a faith, if possible, more strong than
that of Abraham, to believe the doctrine of the
Restoration steadfastly, in the midst of so much



214 DIALOGUES ON THE

evil as prevails in the world, and which seems to
render it impossible: but my only hope is in
God.

Bat, to encourage us the more, there are not
only promises of what God will do, but exam-
ples of what he hath done, recorded in Scrip-
ture, as the cases of Manasseh, Nebuchadnez-
zar, Mary Magdalen, Saul, and many of the
murderers of our Lord, priests, and even Phari-
sees, are left on record, as patterns of God's
long suffering, power, mercy and love. And 1
would advise those christians that doubt of the
Universal Reconciliation of all things, to remem-
ber St. Paul's words to the Collossians, on this
subject, chap. i. 21. "And you that were
some time alienated, and enemies in your mind,
by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled;"
as a proof and example of his power to recon-
cile all things. Let all remember that their own
stubbornness; and then instead of reviling and
deriding a truth which God has revealed, they
will adore him, of whom, through whom, and to
whom, are all things; who ''doeth according to
his will in the army of heaven, and among the
inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his
hand, or say unto him, what doest thou?" Rom.
xi. 36. Dan. iv. 35.

Friend. But allowing that God has power to
change the hearts of the vilest of men, is not
the exercise of that power evidently limited ?
For I find it written in Rev. xxii. 11. "He
that is unjust, let him be unjust still, and he that
is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is
righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that
is holy, let him be holy still." By these words



UNIVERSAL RESTORATION, 245

it seems to be intimated, that the characters of
both the wicked and the righteous, shall at some
period be so confirmed and fixed, as to admit of
no change or alteration.

Minister. This appears to be a considerable
difficulty, but can by no means overthrow the
system of the Restoration, which seems estab-
lished upon many gracious promises. The
words seem to refer to a particular period, even
when the Lord shall come, and shew that his
coming will not (as some suppose) change the
ch'aracters of men; but that all shall continue
for a certain time, in the same character as be-


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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 16 of 20)