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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gogues, and we and our families might suffer
thereby. For my own part, I am determined to
stand by this truth, whether I can continue my
place among the people where I am or not.
Rather than give up this (through grace) I would
give up life.

^' I have so much zeal in my heart for the con-
firmation and establishment of this truth, that I
would, were it in my power, gladly proselyte ail
men to embrace and enjoy the benefit of it.

*' I hope you will muster up all your resolu-
tion, and stand forth boldly again in vindication
of the cause of truth, and the most glorious and
most neglected part of that truth that all men
ought to embrace. I fear lest the enemy shall
cause a shout of triumph if you refuse again to
.engage, and do not come forth to the help of the
Lord against the mighty. Please to inform me
if you want any help where you are; I have
some little fortune, and would engage in promot-
ing the work of God, without being wholly de-
pendent on any people.

^' Direct to J. P. at Mr. John Brown^s, Book-
seller, Pockling.to7i, Yorkshire,

^^ Sincerely praying for the success of your
labors, and your welfare of body and mind,

^^ I am in truth, your affectionate friend,

"And servant in Christ Jesus."



PREFACE. XXXlll

^'Aylesbm-y, September 22 j 1790.
" Rev. and Dear Sir —

An anxious desire of a more intimate acquaint-
ance with you induces me to take this liberty of
writing to you, hoping you will excuse my free-
dom; undoubtedly it will appear strange, that
one you never saw nor heard of, should take
such liberty. But as a foe to flattery, I just
give you this short account of my first knowl-
edge of you; which was only by hearing of the
ear.

" Something more than a year ago, I was told
that there was a preacher just come to London,
an American by birth, who had undertaken to
preach an Universal Restoration to lost souls.
As it was new to me, I v>^as much surprized at
this strange account, and I thought and said,
(though with some degree of candor) that I
looked upon it to be some one that could not dig,
and was ashamed to beg, so to procure a living
he had written this book. Here I rested for
some time, thinking that much hurt would be
done thereby; till the last time I saw Mr. At-
kins, (who I understand is now in connexion with
you) he gave me some further account of you
and your doctrine. But I could not understand
it from his account; yet he persisted I should be-
lieve it, if I was to read your Dialogues. I told
him I would give them a fair reading, if I could
see them. Still I entertained the same strange
idea as before. The next account I had was
from a young man of Berhhamfstead, who came
to see me and in our discourse, I said, "Some of
your people have imbibed a new doctrine j I
hear." He said " Yes, and I verily believe it a



XXXIV PREFACE.

truth." I was now more surprized than before;
but he said, if I was to see it he had no doubl
but I should beheve it also, — "Well," saidi, "ii
I could see the book I would lay prejudice aside,
and give it a fair reading, let it be what it may.'
He very kindly told me, that as soon as he coulc j
get it home, (for he had lent it to a friend) he i
would send it to me. I thanked him, and prom-
ised to, read it impartially, knowiiig that whert '
party spirit reigns, blindness takes place. ;

"According to promise, he sent the book; anc i
as I had done before, I now laid the matter be-
fore the Lord with this petition, that he would
not suffer me to be misled or wander out of the
way, as I knew that he knew my desire and in-
tention. I was delivered from fear, and with
candor and cofidence I began to read my nev?.?
book, and to my great astonishment, yet to my
greater joy, I found what I had many times
wished for secretly in my heart, namely, the pos-
sibility of a release for those poor sufferers, and
not only so, but likev/ise the certainty of it; for
as I read on, I could not but see, that it was the
determination of Jehovah to make all men, as
his creatures, happy in himself. O with what!
eyes did I now view the Deity, and what ideas
did I entertain of him to what I had ever done
before! (though I was on the general plan,) O
how my soul was filled with love! what gratitude
did I feel to that God, who I now saw so loved
all creatures, as to give his only Son to die, with
a pure design to glorify himself in the salvation :
of every soul ! I now saw him a God of love in-
deed, but it is out of my power to tell fully the '
happy effect it had, and has now upon my mind; ,



PREFACE, XXXV

but it is something, what I experienced, when the
Lord first set my soul at hbertj; as I was then
swallowed up, as in the vision of God. But the
bigness of this sheet is not sufficient to tell you
all I could wish, but I trust I shall see you in per-
son, as I should esteem it a privilege indeed to
hear you preach, and to converse v/ith you, and
'. fully intended coming to London about last
May, on purpose, but as I had already a large
family, w4iich, through the blessing of God, I
maintain v/ith my labor; finding it likely to in-
crease, I could not well spare time to come, or I
lad been with you at that season, as I had noth-
,ng else in my way to hinder. Mr. John Holder ^
)f Tring^ an acquaintance of mine, has lent me
I few little tracts of yours, w^hich I am now read-
ng with pleasure and profit, and he has kindly of-
fered himself to accompany me at any time that
L shall appoint to come and see you, but the same
lifficulty is now in the way as before. If ever
i^rovidence should open a way, I shall gladly em~
irace the opportunity.

Though I have no doubt of the doctrine of the
'Restoration^ as to myself, I have never spoke of
t in public as yet, not knov/ing whether that may
le the, way to make this glorious salvation known;
lUt 1 have spoke to several of the people in pri-
ate, those vdiom I judged to have the best un-
erstanding, and the most candor ; and most of
lese seem to be glad at the news, and my own
/"ife in particular receives it with all thankful-
ess, and joins with me in love to you. and yours.
Though very ill at this time.) If it will not be
ttended with too much trouble, please to send
le your Dialogues j bound, by the Jlylesbury stage.^



XXXVl PREFACE.

coach, il have given the coachman an order tc
pay the expense. As I stand Hke yourself (in
this respect) unconnected with any party, (though
I was with Mr. Wesley's people twelve years,) 1
am now free, I trust, from bigotry and prejudice,
open to conviction, and willing for instruction
A few lines from you will be gratefully acknowl-
edged, and thankfully received, by your affec-
tionate, though most unworthy, m^y I say, broth
er in Christ,

" THOMAS HIGGINS."

" P. S. I pray God of his mercy to give yoi
all the wisdom that you need, to make this grea
salvation more fully known, as I believe he hatl
raised you up for this purpose, and that a doubl
portion of his Spirit may rest upon you, and tha
your labors may be crowned with more abund
ant success, till the Son of righteousnes is seer
in his full strength, and with all his ability ti
save.

"Direct to Thomas HigginSy Jlyleshury Bucks,

I take the liberty of publishing these Letten
with the names and places of abode of the wrii
ters, as a kind of beginning of that general ac
quaintance, which I should wish to see tak
place among all the friends of this doctrine i
these kingdoms. I know several other minis
ters in England, who believe and preach th
Universal Restoration^ and I trust their numbei
will increase. In America, where I once stoo
almost in these views alone, (among those whf



PREFACE. XXXVU

speak the English tongue) there are now many'
who testify this Gospel of the free universal
grace of God, and they have formed a connexion
of societies on this plan, who meet by their rep-
resentatives in convention yearly, at Philadel-
phia, and I could wish a plan of the same na-
ture might be adopted in this country. If any
;hing that I have spoken or written may be of
ise to my fellow creatures, and may tend to pro-
note the glory of God, and the interest of the
3ear Redeemer in the v/orld, I shall have the sat-
sfaction to reflect, that I have not wholly lived
n vain.

London,. April 2, 1792



CONTENTS OF THE DIALOGUES.



DIALOGUE I.

Objection.— That the words everlasting, eter-
nal, <^c., are applied to the punishtnent of the :
wicked. i

Answer. — These words are but seldom ap-'-
plied to the misery of the wicked ; being con-
nected therewith only twice in the Old Testa-
ment, and but six times in the JN ew ; and are full '
as often connected with things and times that i
certainly have had, or will have an end, as they >
are with the misery of the wicked, &c.

Objection. — But the words forever and ever,,
are applied to the misery of the wicked, &c.

Answer. — This is a very strong phrase, and!
would be judged unanswerable, but for certain i
considerations. *

1. If the phrase forever and ever intends any
period or periods, longer than the word forever,,
then there must be a proportion, &c. 12. This;
phrase as applied to future misery cannat intend !
endless duration. 3. It is more than probable
that the lake of fire, in which the wicked will be
punished with the second death, will be the earth
dissolved by the general cofiagration, &c.

Objection. — Forever when applied to things
of this life and world may end, but being applied
to things of another state must mean endless.



CONTENTS. XXXIX

Answer. — The word forever applied to spir-
itual things, and circumstances of another state
must not be always understood to mean endless.

ObjectiOxV. — But does not the phrase forever
and ever, in the New Testament, always intend
endless?

Answer. — It doth not. An undeniable in-
stance brought in proof, to which several more
might have been added.

Objection. — But is not the Scripture charge-
able with a design to mislead men in these words
when applied to future misery, unless they intend
endless duraiionl And does not the limiting these
words accuse Christ of duplicity and deceit in
his threatenings ?

Answer. — The Hebrew word rendered ever-
lasting properly intends a hidden duration^ or pe-
riod, but not endless.

Objection, — The same word everlasting or
eternal is in the very same verse applied both to
the misery of the wicked and to the happiness
of the righteous.

Answer. — The very same word is in other
places applied to very different things, whose
natures and durations are entirely dissimilar.

Objection. — But, upon the supposition that
the doctrine of endless damnation was true, in
what manner might one expect it to be express-
ed in the Bible .''

Answer. — If it was true, there could be no
promises, intimations, or even distant hints to
the contrary. And it is therefore shewn to be
false by a number of positive proofs. If there
were not promises and intimations of the General
Restoration in the Scripture ,the doctrine ofendlest



Xl CONTENTS.

damnation might be then concluded to be true,
however dark ; but the endless happiness of the
righteous is set forth in much stronger language,
and with more abundant force of expression.

The endless happiness of the righteous stands
upon such foundations that can never be over-
thrown or destroyed ; such as their indissoluble
union with the original source of life and happi-
ness ; their being heirs of God, and joint heirs
with Christ, and the promise that they shall live
because he lives ; and his life is truly endless.

Objection.— That since the wicked have cho-
sen evil, persevered in it through life, it is be-
come a fixed habit in them, from which it would
seem as impossible to reclaim them, as to draw
off the just from their attachment to God and'
goodness.

Answer. — This reasoning is founded uponi;
the old pagan system of good and evil being two :
eternal co-existing principles.

All men are God's creatures, and therefore J
he will not contend forever, nor be always wroth i
with the souls that he hath made.

Satan's kingdom and all evil shall be destroy-
ed, and therefore endless misery cannot have the
same permanent foundation as endless happiness.

Two things diametrically opposite to each oth-^-
er cannot both exist together to all eternity. ''

Objection. — But does not the word all fre-
quently intend a part only ? . i

Answered. — By giving certain never failing'^!
rules, whereby it may be known when the word I
a?l means strictly r///, or the whole universally/
without any exception; confirmed by plain in-
staaces out of St. Paul's writings.



CONTENTS. Xli

Objection. — -That perhaps by a// things being
put under Christ, nothing farther may be meant
than their being brought into a state of forced
subjection, or made subject to his control.

Answer. — They are now put under him in
this respect, but they are not yet put under him
in the sense that they shall be, which implies a
state of willing subjection.

The word many frequently means all.

All things were created by Christ; all rebell-
ious beings shall he subcluedhy him, and all with-
out exception shall be reconciled by him, and
through him, to God.

DIALOGUE II.

OBJECTION. — Of the worm that dieth not, and
the unquenchable fire, five times threatened by
our Lord Jesus Christ in one passage.

Answered. — By reference to the words in
the prophesy of Isaiah, to which our Lord prob*>
ably alluded.

Passages from the prophets brought to shew a
literal accomplishment of the original words.

The dreadful threat enings of future misery to
the wicked, implied in those words of our Sav-
iour. They shall be publicly punished and tor-
mented in the lake of fire, which is the earth in
its melted or dissolved state.

Nevertheless, there shall be a new creation
of the earth, and so the lake of fire shall cease.

Many instances of fires mentioned in Script-
ure, of which it was said, they shall not be quench-
ed, which yet have ceased long ago.

And of those fires whose smoke is said to as-
cend up forever.

4*



Xlii CONTENTS.

Things contrary are often predicted of the
same places and people, and must be understood
^s occurring at ditferent titnes.

Our Lord's words of every one being salted ':
with fire considered.

Obection. — All the fires above mentioned
were on earth, and in time; but the Hre of heil,
being in eternity, can never go out, or cease to
burn to all endless duration.

Answer. — Those fires on earth that were never
to be quenched did not continue to burn as long
as the earth remained; and therefore there is no
necessity of granting that the fire of hell shall
burn to all eternity.

Punishments belong only to the ages of ages ,
before Christ shall have dehvered up the king-
dom to the Father.

Objectioi^".— The blasphemy against the Bo-
ly Ghost shall never be forgiven, &c.

Answered. — 1. By shewing what this sin is,
Stc. 2. All that bears the name of death shall
be destroyed, and all sorrow, crying, and pain,
shall cease and be no more. 3, Where sin a-
bounded grace shall much more abound.
Objection. — The deplorable ease of Esau.
Answer. — He lost the birthright, and the pe-
culiar privileges that belonged to the first born,
but yet he had a blessing from his father of a
lower degree.

The great difference between them was more
fulfilled in their posterity than in their ov/n per-
sons.

Love and hatred are sometimes only compar-
ative, and not positive terms, and only imply a
preference of one to the other.



CONTENTS. xliii

Objection. — The great gulph between the
region of happiness and misery is impassable.

Answer. — Christ has passed it when he went
and preached to the spirits in prison, who were
disobedient in the days of Noah.

This proves a state of conscious existence af-
ter the death of the body.

The rich man seems to have had compassion
towards his brethren.

The scriptures constantly hold out punishment
in proportion to the sins committed in the pres-
ent life.

Objection. — The case of Judas, of whom
Jesus said, " Good were it for that man that he
had never been born."

Answer, — l.This was a proverbial saying. 2.
Both Job and Jererniah cursed the day of their
birth, and wished they had never been born. 3.
Solomon declares an untimely birth to be far
better than the longest and most prosperous life
of one whose soul is not, filled with good, and
v/ho hath no burial. 4. If Judas had died fee-
fore he was born he would have escaped all
earthly trouble, and future misery, and would
have been immediately happy. 5. The Jews as
much rejected and doomed to woe as Judas.

DIALOGUE III.

Objection. — That the doctrine of the Rep-
;oration tends to licentiousness, and is calculated
o encourage the wicked to a continuance in
heir evil ways, &c, ,

Answer. — First, by shewing the principles
upon which the doctrine of the Restoration is
founded. 1. God jg the Creator of all. 2. His



Xliv COxVTENTS.

benevolence is universal. 3, Ciirist died for ait
vvitiiout exception.

ObjectioxV.— That Christ did not die for all, ,
because he did not pray for all. -

Answer. — This objection is entirely ground-
less; — for though in one place he prays exclu-
sively for his apostles, yet a little after he sprays
for all that should believe on him, through their
word, &c. 4. Another of the first principles on
which the doctrine of the Universal Restoration-
is founded, is the unchangeableness of God. 5.>
The immutability of his counsels; cofirmed by
his oath. 6. That God hath given all things in-
to the hands of Christ, and that nothing that isM
given to him shall be lost. 7. That the Scrip-
tures must be. fulfilled, and that none of them;'
can be broken.

Secondly, It is proved that the doctrine of the
Restoration cannot lead to licentiousness, be-
cause it is perfectly consistent with experimental!
religion. — Queries asked upon this subject, Al
little sketch of the author's experience. Quer-
ies submitted to the consideration of all exper-
ienced Christians. Inference deduced there-
from in favor of the doctrine of the Restoration.

T^hirdly, It is proved, that the doctrine of thee
Restoration does not lead to licentiousness, byv
its tendency to practical religion. 1. We are:
commanded to love all mankind, even our ene -
mies. 2. To do good to all. 3. To forgive all!
that trespass against us. 4. To pray for all men,,
that they may be saved and come to the knowl-
edge of the truth.

The belief of the Restoration so far from pre-
venting us from these things, enables us to per-



CONTENTS. Xlv

form them with pleasure and consistency.

All shall be restored at last by the blood of
Christ.

Fourthly y It is proved, that the doctrine of the
Restoration is according to godliness, because
the belief of it tends to fill our hearts with all a-
miable tempers, &c.

Fifthly, The doctrine of the Restoration is
vindicated from the charge of licentiousness, by
an appeal to facts, especially by the amiable con-
duct of the Timkers, or German Baptists, in A-
merica, who universally hold these sentiments.

Reply to those who call this the doctrine
w^hich Satan taught Eve in the Garden.

Dr. Whitbifs grand objection, that the unbe-
liever shall not see life, answered.

Objection. — The doctrine of endless punish-
ment said to be the strongest possible restraint
upon sin.

Answered. — 1. By showing that God doth
not always lay the greatest possible restraint up-
on sin. 2. The idea of limited punishment by
appearing more just and reasonable to the mind,
is more calculated to restrain sin & iniquity than
the doctrine of endless misery. 3. That in fact,
though the greater part have professed to believe
endless damnation, yet their belief appears not
to have much restrained them from sin. 4. The
great number of heathen people that die with-
out ever hearing the gospel, infants, idiots, per-
sons born deaf, &c. render it probable that many
are reclaimed in a future state. 5. That the in-
tention of God is not so much to restrain sin, as
to show its enormity; and finally to destroy it out
of the universe. 6. If the doctrine of the Res-
toration should be abused, that can be no argu-



Xlvi CONTENTS.

ment against itj as the gospel itself has been per-
verted, yet is the greatest blessing to mankind;
therefore it is evident that this glorious doctrine
cannot justly be charged with the least tendency,
towards licentiousness.

Objection. — It would not be prudent in God,;
even if he intended finally to restore the wickec
to let them know his gracious designs before-
hand; it is time enough to let them know hisi
gracious purposes towards them, when his for-
mer threatenings have failed of their effect, but
not before. -

Answered. — God has thought it the abound-!
ing of his wisdom and prudence to make known
to his saints this mystery of his will, even his;
promise to rehead all things in Christ. This:
discovery is chiefly intended for the comfort and^
satisfaction of the good, and not for theencour -
agement of the bad.

God has frequently mixed promises of greatt
mercies with threatenings of terrible judgments;
yet his threatenings are not thereby weakened.

Objection. — The doctrine of the Restoration!
seems not very plainly revealed in the Scripture, ,
or it would not have been so long hidden from
so many great and good men.

Answer. — Things that have been plainly re^-
vealed, have been still hidden from great and 1
good men; as the death and resurrection of
Christ. *

Question. — But how comes this man to know
better than all the world? &c.

Answer. — The charge denied. Many have
known, believed, preached and defended it.

The doctrine of endless misery is one princi-



CONTENTS. Xlvii

)al cause of the disagreement among Chris-
ians.

DIALOGUE IV.

ObjectiOxN. — Christ threatens the Jews that
hey should die in their sins, and that they could
lot come whither he went.

Answer. — Our Lord told his disciples them-
elves that whither he went, they could not
ome, that is, then, as afterwards explained. ,

2. There are blessings promised in scripture,
o all Israel, without exception.

3. Those that have been rejected and cast off
ball at last return and be received.

Objection. — That the blessings promised on-
y respect to those that shall be found alive on
he earth at a certain time.

Answer. — The inhabitants of Sodom, Sama-
ia, and Jerusalem, with their daughters, or
leighboring cities, shall all be restored, though
lestroyed long ago.

2. That all things are given to Christ without
exception; and that all that are given shall at
ast come to him in such a manner as not to be
;ast out. From which promises, the Universal
Jlestoration is inferred, and proved to be certain-
y true.

Objection. — God sware in his wrath that the
'sraelites should not enter into his rest.

Answer. — The rest was the land of Canaan,
)eing typical of the time of the Millennium, or

hrist's reign on earth, and not of the ultimate
itate of happiness.

Objection. — There are some of whom we
;ead, that he that made them will not have mer-



Xlviii CONTENTS.

cy upon them, and he that formed them will she\^i
them no favor.

Answer. — These words must necessarily bo
understood with some limitation, and refer to ?;
particular season, when they shall have judgmen
without mercy, but finally mercy shall rejoice:^
against judgment.

Objection. — That the wicked shall never se^
light.

Answer. — Not until subdued, or overcome,
as the words ought to be rendered.

Objection. — A great ransom cannot deliver
those who are taken away by the stroke of God.
Answer. — The great ransom cannot intend !
the blood of Christ, the power of which is un-
limited, but gold, and all the forces of strength.i,
riches, wisdom, &c. none of these can deliver*
their possessors from death.

Objection.— Solomon says, that there is no
work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom inn
the grave; and that in the place where the treet
falleth, there it shall be.

Answer. — The first part of this objection
respects only the state of the body in the grave, .
but cannot be brought to disprove the conscious-
ness of the soul in a separate state, the resur-
rection of the body, a future state of existence^
or the final Restoration.

The second part of this objection has not thee
least relation to the subject; but belongs to quite 3
another matter, . >

Objection.— The liWng have hope, but thee


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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 3 of 20)