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A SERVANT OF
IN THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION.
Which work is bumbly dedicated to the clergy of ev.
" And he shall send Jesus Christ which before was
Of sin, he comes to make an end,
PRINTED FOR C. R. MARSH, PUBLISHER,
PREFACE. Being fully convinced, that I owe to the publick world of mankind, a systematic statement of my religious sentiments, that every person, who pleases, may read, and plainly understand for himself, my serious views of the sacred Scriptures, and of the nature of the right. eous plan of divine grace, I am disposed to lay before the religious world, what has been made plainly to appear to me as sacred truth. I feel this obligation so to do, strongly impressed upon me as one voluntarily, standing alone in the world, as to my connection with any religious denomination. I once was a member of the general convention of Universalists, but finding by careful inquiry among the brethren, that although they were well agreed, that all men will finally be saved, yet no regular systematic plan of grace to effect that desirable end, was found to subsist, as an unanimous standard of doctrine, among the universalists. Many of them I found differed from me in theory ; 1 found we could no longer walk together, and of course, thought it my duty peaceably to withdraw from their connection, which they as peaceably consented to ; and I was dismissed from being a member among them, but still continued to be. lieve and preach tlie same doctrine as before. I still love the cause of Christ, and should be glad to remain an instrument in the hands of God, in bringing the world to believe the truth as it is in Jesus.
However, I am aware that in this work which lies be. sore the candid reader, I shall have to contená with the strong prejudices of different parties among christian professors : which may sometimes have a tendency to awaken the vile passions of old Adain in their breasts, and lead some unawares into low criticisms on my plain and eincere communications. But still after all, I hope that the truth herein advanced, will bear its own weight and prevail,
And as I understand no other language, but the plain language of Canaan, nor how to express that, only in the plain English tongue, unadorned with great swelling words, borrowed from orators, the reader must not expect to find any fashionable elegance of style, in this lit. tle book ; for my object is to instruct the mind in theo. fy, and not to dazzle the serious reader with a baughty pompous and a vain show of words. I shall aim at de. olaring the counsel of God, and not at darkening of it by words inapplicable to the subject; but in Holy Scripture phraseology, to explain the tenor of the bible, as it relates to the glorious plan of God's universal grace. · I shall endeavor to use all the brevity that I possibly can, in the use of qualifying words to strengthen the force of expression, and also in quoting scripture, to prove the truth of any particular position or point of doc. trine; and therefore shall adduce no more of a sacred test than what relates to the subject then, and there in question. However, at the same time, I shall be very careful to examine the subject of connection on the inspired page, and avoid making a use of a part of a text, which does violence to any part of the context. I conceive tnat the complex sense, in which inany passages are written in the Holy Scriptures, requires this mode of adducing evidence from them, in proof of any position whatever, at least we should not confound one subject with another, I want nothing niore to be said by an. evidence, than what relates to the case, more would be words without meaning, as to the question, consequent. ly darkens counsel, and leads to confusion. For this reason, I shall honestly quote such part of a text, as will reflect light on the subject under consideration. But after all, if the curious reader should be dissatisfied with a part of a text, I could wish him to turn to his bible and read the other part, and if he finds it contradicts what I have selected, then he may have some reason to condemn me, and on this ground he can then say, that I have appealed to an evidence that contradicts himself, when we come to observe, strictly, all he says. However, on this ground I fear no failure, for there is a joint
ħarınony in the divine scriptures, when rightly under. stood.
I an often tirnes surprised to hear professors of christianity observe,“ there are, we know, a great many pas. sages which go to support your doctrine, but still, we do not believe it, because we find more scripture against it than for it;" Which-implies, that they think they can find more scripture that says it is not true, than that says it is true. Gracious Heaven! forgive the folly of men. What do they mean? Do they think God tells the truth more times in the bible than lip repeats falsehood? Or do they think that his servants oftener speak what they believe to be the truth, than what they think to be false doctrine ? I cannot agree with those professors. In my opinion of the bible, I cannot believe that God has ever spoken once in favor of false doctrine. We have no eyidence in the scriptures, given by inspiration in favor of any thing but truth. I have therefore, made the bible the man of my counsel, and it shall give light to the subject before me. Now as I know of no system of doctrine which agrees with itself, only that which I believe, I shall introduce it, as the rule of my faith and practice, believing it to be wholesome for all men to be. lieve it; both as it respects this life and the life to come. I believe no doctrine can be strictly true, as it relates to our salvation from sin, unless it is consistent with all the gospel means of grace in the economy of God's plan. The divine truth concerning man's salvation embraces in it, the necessity of regeneration and the new birth, also, faith, hope, charity and repentance towards God. I am fully persuaded that the use of these means of grace, as used by the Saviour of the world, is consis. tent with no other notion of the plan of grace, but that of a final universal restitution, as God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets. But if we should admit that there are no future rewards and punishments, it would preclude the necessity of nearly all those gospel means which are so often enjoined on us by Christ and his inspired apostles, as I shall attempt to show in the course of my writings. I shall also endeavor to make it