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MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR,
Neck. A revival followed; Mrs. W. was among the number converted, and soon after sickened and died. Mr. W. was also brought to the side of the grave by sickness, but recovered. In 1778 he was married to Sally Luke, his third wife, for whom he cherished a great affection.
REV. ELHANAN WINCHESTER, was born at Brookline, Mass., in 1751. He early evinced a contemplative mind, and, being of an awkward appearance, shunned the society peculiar to youth, and devoted his leisure moments to the acquirement of useful knowledge. At the age of five he was considered a good reader; and his taste for reading, together with the rapidity with which he prosecuted his studies, was soon observed by his associates and friends. Books of all kinds which fell in his way were read with avidity; but the Bible was his chief favourite. With its pages he was so familiar, that he was looked upon as a prodigy, for his knowledge of the Scriptures, and strength of memory.
His attention was called to the subject of Universalism in this year, by reading Paul Seigvolk's works, entitled "The Everlasting Gospel," but was not fully converted. The arguments which he there saw, would occasionally arrest his attention, and disposed him to propose them to others, which, to his surprise, they could not answer. On mentioning the subject to another clergyman, he was informed that the doctrine had been controverted in Virginia, but that the daring individual who had preached it was suddenly "cut off from the earth."
When in his nineteenth year, he underwent what is called by the new lights and orthodox, "conviction and conversion," and soon after commenced preaching, without being received into the church after the usual form. On hearing of a revival in Canterbury, Con., he immediately visited that place, and was baptized by Elder Ebenezer Lyon, and admitted into the Free Will Baptist Church, of which Elder Lyon was pastor. In 1771 he removed to Rehoboth, Mass., and spent the year in its vicinity. His youth, memory, eloquence, and zeal, together with his singular dress and appearance, drew multitudes to his meetings. A revival followed, and a church was soon gathered, over which he was ordained by Elder Lyon. In the course of a short season, he renounced his Arminian sentiments, embraced the system of divinity advocated by Dr. Gill, and became one of the most thorough Calvinists in the country.
In 1772, at the request of his friends, he removed to Grafton, where he preached through the summer. In 1773 he removed to Hall, nine miles east of Boston. In the Autumn of 1774, he started on a journey to the Southern States. On arriving in Charleston, S. C., he soon received an invitation to settle with the Baptist Church at Welsh Neck, on the Great Pee Dee River, sixty miles from Georgetown, which he accepted, and returned to Grafton, Mass., for his family. In October of the next year, he returned with his family as far as Fairfax county, Va., where he was obliged to leave Mrs. W. on account of her ill health. He, however, proceeded on to the place of destination, where he spent the winter. In the Spring he returned for his lady, whom he had left in the charge of a friend, and learned on his arrival, that she was in her grave.
Instead of returning to the South, as he had designed, he came to Boston, and supplied for Dr. Stillman, at the first Baptist church, during the summer. Soon after this he was married to Miss Sarah Peck, of Rehoboth,
During this year he was made to drink deeply of the cup of sorrow, of which he had twice before partook. His third wife died. He was now more zealously engaged than ever, in preaching, and laboured among the slaves with great success, and very soon outgrew his Calvinistic principles, and preached a free salvation. In 1779 he visited New England, preaching on his way in many of the towns through which he passed, half inclined to Universalism, though considering himself its enemy. On the 7th of October, of this year, he arrived in Philadelphia, and commenced preaching to the Baptist church in that city, by their particular request. So great was the excitement produced by his labours, that the house could not contain the people ;-therefore the largest house in the city was procured, and was immediately filled to overflowing-the clergy of all denominations comprising a part of his congregations. Though all appeared satisfied with his labours, his own mind was not at rest. The subject of Universal Salvation continued to agitate his thoughts; and he found no quietude, until, by a candid and prayerful examination of the Bible, he became fully satisfied, that "God will have all men to be saved," and that "he doeth according to his will, in heaven and earth."
His change of opinion was soon noised abroad, and produced a great disaffection in many of his former friends. One minister, in particular, met him in the street and parted with him in these words: "If you embrace this sentiment, I shall no longer own you for a brother." And he was true to his word.
In 1781," on the first Sunday of April, Mr. Winchester was to preach at Germantown, about eight miles from Philadelphia, among the German Baptists, who hold the doctrine of Universal Restoration. As he was les
of eminent ministers had just arrived from the country, on the private request of some of his opposers, to hold a public dispute with him. Giving them the liberty of his pulpit for the next day, he departed for the place of his appointment. During his absence, a report was industriously circulated, that he had fled to avoid an interview; and on Monday, when he returned, the delay occasioned by a funeral that he was called to attend, encouraged his opposers, till they began to deceive themselves with that falsehood they had imposed on others. The multitude was assembled in the meeting-house, impatiently waiting for the dispute; his opposers were reproaching his friends with his flight, and clamourously vaunting over them, when Winchester entered with a serene countenance, and took his seat. sudden change came over the assembly; his friends were relieved from their anxiety, and they who had boasted so much in his absence, feared to encounter him when present. His astonishing memory, which had already treasured up much of the Scriptures, was well known, and his talents as a public speaker undoubted. The vote of the assembly was then read, by which the Rev. Mr. Boggs had been selected to dispute with Mr. Winchester. Mr. Boggs then arose, and thus addressed the people: "I am not prepared to dispute with Mr. Winchester. I have heard that he says it would take six weeks to canvass all the arguments fairly on both sides; and 1 suppose that he has been studying on the subject for a week or more, and I have not studied at all." Discovering that there was to be no debate, Mr. Winchester then begged the privilege of explaining and defending his own sentiments, for two hours, and finally for only one hour; but, as might have been anticipated, they who dared not meet him on equal ground, dared not allow him to exhibit his strength; his request was wholly refused. They felt, however, the necessity of providing some business worthy of the great preparations that had been made; and accordingly, when one of the ministers rose and said that their business was not to debate with Mr. Winchester, but to ask him whether he believed that bad men and angels would finally be restored; the rest immediately agreed, and insisted that the question should be put to him. "Do you believe in Universal Restoration?" Mr. Winchester's friends objected to his answering the question, unless he had leave to vindicate his sentiments; but he rose, and observing that he feared no use which could be made of his words, told them plainly, that he did believe the doctrine of Universal Restoration, and was willing to defend it. After some conversation, the ministers advised the church to obtain another pastor; and the matter was so managed, that though Mr. Winchester's adherents were at firsta majority of the society, the scale was soon turned against them, and they excluded him from the meeting house.
On the 22nd of April, he delivered a sermon in the hall of the Pennsylvania University,
cated his new sentiments. After preaching four years in this place, a hall was obtained, where he afterwards preached, located on the spot now covered by the Lombard Street Church; and subsequently the house now improved by the First Uuiversalist Society, was erected.
At Philadelphia, he resided in the house owned by his fourth wife, to whom he was married in 1781, and whom he buried in less than two years afterwards, "making him, at the age of thirty-two, four times a widower." In 1784 he visited South Carolina, and was married to his fifth wife, "a desperate fury, whom he loved with a doting fondness." În 1787 he visited England, very much to the surprise, and against the will of his New England friends, and there remained, preaching in various places for the space of six years and a half. While there he wrote and published his Dialogues on the Universal Restoration," his "Lectures on the Prophecies," and Five Letters in Reply to Rev. Daniel Taylor's Sermon on Endless Misery."
In July, 1794, he again arrived in America. During this and the succeeding year, he travelled in almost all parts of the country, labouring under a broken constitution, and an increasing asthma, which foretold a fatal termination.
In October, 1796, he made his first appearance in Hartford, Con., at the grave of a young man. The people wer assembled around the grave, when they were surprised at the voice of a stranger, who, unasked, had taken the freedom to address them on the occasion. His language and manner were very affecting, and excited a general wish to hear him again. Accordingly, he gave one or two lectures during the week, and preached the next Sunday in the theatre. A respectable congregation was soon gathered, among which were some gentlemen of influence.
Thus he continued preaching, till about the 1st of April, 1797, when he delivered a sermon, under a strong impression that it was his last, from St. Paul's farewell address to the elders of the Ephesian Church. He never entered his desk again. His death was fast approaching, and he contemplated it with serenity and joy. On the morning of his decease, he requested two or three young ladies, who were sitting by him, to join in singing a hymn, observing at the same time, that he might expire before it should be finished. He began with them, but his voice soon faltered, and the torpor of death fell upon him. They were disconcerted and paused; but he reviving, encouraged them to proceed, and joined in the first line of each stanza, till he breathed no more. This was on the 18th of April, 1797, in the 47th year of his age.
His funeral was attended on the 21st, by a numerous concourse of afflicted friends and sympathizing spectators. The Rev. Dr. Strong preached the sermon from Heb. ix. 27, in which, though an opposer of his sentiments, he gave Mr. Winchester an excellent character, and bore a frank testimony to his final con
BETWEEN A MINISTER AND HIS FRIEND.
OBJECTION. That the words everlasting, eternal, &c., are applied to the punishment of the wicked.
siderations:-1. If the phrase forever and ever intends any period or periods, longer than the word
OBJECTION.-Forever when applied to things of this life and world may end, but being applied to
ANSWER.-The word forever applied to spiritual things and circumstances of another state must
OBJECTION.-But does not the phrase forever and ever, in the New Testament, always intend
applied to future misery, unless they intend endless duration? And does not the limiting these words
ANSWER.-The Hebrew word rendered everlasting properly intends a hidden duration, or period,
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
OBJECTION.-But, upon the supposition that the doctrine of endless damnation was true, in what
ANSWER.-If it was true, there could be no promises, intimations, or even distant hints to the
a fixed habit in them, from which it would seem as impossible to reclaim them, as to draw off the
ANSWER.This reasoning is founded upon the old pagan system of good and evil being two eter-
OBJECTION.-But does not the word all frequently intend a part only?
ANSWERED. By giving certain never failing rules, whereby it may be known when the word all
OBJECTION. That perhaps by all 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 rebellious beings shall be subdued by him, and all without exception shall be reconciled by him, and through him, to God.
Friend. I have taken the freedom to call upon you, to have a little discourse with you concerning the doctrine of the Restoration of all Things, which it is said you believe; and to propose some objections.
Minister.-1 am happy to see you, and am willing to discourse, as well as I am able, upon any subject that may be agreeable; but I have always made it a rule never to press the belief of my sentiments upon my friends; and I can safely say, that, though such great pains have been taken by my adversaries, to prejudice people against me, I have never gone about from house to house to propagate iny opinions; and I make it a universal rule not to introduce the subject in conversation, unless desired; but yet I never have refused to own my sentiments, when asked, respecting the matter; and am ready, in the fear of God, to answer any objections that can be made, to a doctrine which I believe is plainly revealed in the Scriptures of truth, and appears to me worthy of God.
St. Matt. xxv. 41. " Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels." Verse 46. "These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal or everlasting." The same word in the original being used for both, though varied by the translators. St. Mark. iii. 29. But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damn
the presence of the Lord, and from the glory
2 Thess. i. 7, 8, 9. "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from
And the Angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over unto fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”
Minister. I am glad that you have so fairly and fully stated the matter; and I highly commend your resolution, not to believe the universal doctrine, unless this can be answered fully, without any torturing or twisting the Scriptures; and if I am not able with God's ing passages: Isaiah xxxiii. 14. The sin-assistance, to remove this difficulty, I will ners in Zion are afraid, fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings."
Friend. I shall first of all bring to view that grand objection, which is formed from the word eternal or everlasting, being applied to a future state of punishment; as in the follow
publicly recant my sentiments.
Dan. xii. 2. "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."
St. Matt. xviii. 8. " Wherefore, if thine hand or thy foot offend thee (or cause thee to offend) cut them off, and cast them from thee; it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands, or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire."
But, before I come to give a direct answer, I would beg leave to remark how very seldom this word is used to express the duration of punishment. We should think, by some sermons we hear, that everlasting is applied to misery in every book of the New Testament, if not in every chapter. A friend of mine told me, that he was once preaching in Maryland, and after sermon a man came and asked him of what denomination he was. To which he answered, a Baptist. I think, says the man, that you do not preach up so much everlasting damnation as the Baptists and Methodists among us do. To which my friend replied, everlasting damnation is found in the Scripture. True, answered the man; but some preachers give us more of it in one sermon than is to be found in the whole Bible. The truth of this remark will appear, if we consider that St. Luke never uses the or everlasting, as connected with the misery of the wicked, in his gospel; nor St. Mark but once, and then in a particular case only. In the gospel of St. John, it is not to be found at all in that connexion, nor in any of his epistles: in the account of the preaching of the apostles through the world, in the first age of Christianity, we do not find it mentioned, in that light, so much as once: no, not in all the sermons, and parts of sermons, which St. Luke has preserved in the book of the Acts; though
These texts, together, form such an objection to the doctrine of the Restoration, that I can by no means believe it, unless this can be fairly answered, and proofs brought from the Scriptures to shew, that the words everlasting and "eternal, (which are translations of the same word and synonymous) being connected with the punishment of the wicked, and their future misery, do not necessarily imply the continuance of the same while God exists.
the doctrine of everlasting damnation is the there is, of necessity a change also of the law. substance of many modern discourses. St. for he of whom these things are spoken perPaul never mentions everlasting destruction taineth to another tribe, of whom no man gave but once, though his writings form a conside-attendance at the altar: for it is evident that rable part of the New Testament. Neither our Lord sprang ont of Judah; of which tribe are such words found in the Epistle of St. Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. James, or in those of St. Peter, and but three And it is yet far more evident, for that, after times in the Gospel of St. Matthew and on- the similitude of Melchisedek, there ariseth ly twice in all the Old Testament. But was another priest, who is made not after the law the word aionion applied to misery but once of a carnal commandment, but after the power in the whole Bible, it would deserve a serious of an endless life: for he testifieth that, thou consideration; and unless the force of it can art a priest forever, after the order of Melchibe removed by the authority of the Scriptures, sedek: for there is verily a disannulling of the it must remain an unanswerable objection. commandment going before for the weakness But I shall proceed to answer it, by bringing and unprofitableness thereof." Heb. vii. 12, an equal number of passages where the word 18. The whole sum of the apostle's argueverlasting is applied to things and times, that ment, in this epistle, tends to prove that the have had, or must have, an end. As in the everlasting ordinance is now no more; and the following passages: Gen. xvii. 7, 8. "And I everlasting priesthood of Aaron and his sons is will establish my covenant between me and now abolished. thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant; to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God." Verse 13. "He that is born in thy house, and bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant."
Another passage where the word everlasting is evidently used in a limited sense, is Numb. xxv. 11, 12, 13, where we read thus: "Phinehas, the son of Eleazer, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore say, behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: and he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood: because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel."
Here note that the land of Canaan is called an everlasting possession; and the covenant of circumcision in the flesh, an everlasting covenant, though it is certain that the land of If the word everlasting intends endless duraCanaan, as well as the other parts of the earth tion, how shall we be able to reconcile this must be dissolved or melted, in the general promise with the total cessation of the Leviticonflagration; and circumcision is now decal Priesthood? As for the family of Phineclared null and void by the Holy Ghost; and has, with whom this covenant of an everlasting the ceremony cannot endure to endless ages. priesthood was made, it was entirely deprived of the benefit of the same, within the space of four hundred years; for when the sons of Eli transgressed the covenant, by profaning it, God sent him word, that as they had broken it on their parts, it was entirely, and to all intents and purposes, dissolved. Read 1 Sam. ii. from the beginning of the 12th verse to the end of the 17th, and from the 27th to the end of the chapter: and also, chap. iii. 11, 12, 13, 14.
Of the same kind are the following passages: Gen. xlviii. 3, 4. "And Jacob said unto Joseph, God almighty appeared to me at Luz, in the land of Canaan, and blessed me: and said unto ine, behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee, for an everlasting possession." And in the blessing of Joseph he says, "The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenifors, unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills." By which, I suppose, the hills of the land of Canaan were meant.
God saith to Moses, Exod. xl. 15. "And thou shalt anoint them (Aaron's sons) as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office; for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood, throughout their generations." Lev. xvi. 84. "And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins, once a year; and he did as JEHOVAH Commanded Moses."
The apostle declares, that these everlasting ordinances were only till the time of Reformation, Heb. ix. 10, and this everlasting priesthood of Aaron's son, had ceased long ago: "For the priesthood being changed (by Christ)
I will transcribe verse 30, of the second chapter in proof of my point. "Wherefore JEHOVAH, God of Israel, saith, I said indeed, that thy house, and the house of thy father should walk before me for ever: but now JEHOVAH saith, be it far from me, for them that honor me, I will honor; and they that despise me, shall be lightly esteemed."" Hophini, and Phinehas, were soon after slain in one day; and Saul the King of Israel, sent Doag the Edomite, who fell upon the priests and slew fourscore and five persons, who wore a linen ephod, in one day. "And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword; both men, and women, and children, and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword." 1 Sam. xxii. 19. The whole house of Phinehas seems to have been destroyed at this time