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form and bring them off from their vicious habits, as it would be to draw the saints in light from their adherence to virtueand goodness.
Minister. Your reasoning would be conclusive, upon the supposition that there are two eternal principles, viz. good and evil; if it can be proved, that evil is coexistent with goodness, that it hath always been ; then. the absolute eternity of sin and misery may be easily inferred. This is the true foundation of endless misery, and it came from the Pagan theology: The Heathens believed in two eternal principles, ever warring against each other, and neither fully prevailing; that men had the liberty of enlisting under which they pleased; and that those who in life choose virtue should enjoy endless felicity ; while those who chose and adhered to vice, would eternally remain underits dominion, and of consequence be always miserable. Thus, the internal deities being judged by the poor Pagans to be as eternal as the good gods, and more powerful ; they sacrificed more to the evil principle than to the good, out of fear, and to appease the anger of those abhorred, malevolent agents; hence, the frequency of human sacrifices.
Now. when the Christian Religion triumphed over Paganism in the Roman empire, many of the philosophers embraced and professed it, but withal, retained many
of their Pagan notions ; among which was the eternity of these two opposite principles; hence arose the Ancient sect of the Manichees, who believe not only the eternal existence of two contrary eternal Gods, one good and the other evil; but also, that all visible things were created by the devil; and upon this principle, they might argue the universality of damnation, with as much ease and certainty, as we, upon the contrary, may argue the certainty of the Universal Restoration, according to that glorious promise of God, Isaiah, lvii. 16, 17, 18, 19, “ For I will not contend for ever, neither will I always be wroth; for the Spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. For the iniquity of his covetous
bess was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me and was wroth; and he went on frowardly, in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways and will heal him: 1 will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him, and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips ; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and 10 him that is near, saith JEHOVAH; and I will heal him."
Those who venture to contradict their Maker, and say, that he will contend for ever, and be always woroth; ought to give as good a reason, at least, why he will, as he hath given why he will not; and, consegaently, must prove him not to be the Father of all spirits, and the Creator of all souls : If, therefore, it can be de. monstrated, that Satán is an eternal, self-existent, im mutable, evil being, and that he hath created all, ar a part of mankind, (as some asserted formerly, and as I myself have heard lately) or that he hath drawn some of God's creatures into such an union with himself, that they cannot be separated from him; and that he will maintain his crown, throne and kingdom, in opposition to God, to all endless duration ; then, and not till then, may the elernity of sin and misery,be concluded from the nature of things, with equal ease and certainty, as the perfection and happiness of the saints.
But if the kingdom of evil, and all the works of sin, Satan and darkness, shall be totally destroyed by Christ, and all things shall be reheaded in him, wbo is the head of all principality and power, as well as of every man : See Ephes. i. 18. Col. ii. 10. 1 Cor. xi. 3. If every knee shall bow, and tongue shall swear, and all things, whether in heaven or in earth, or under the earth, shall confess that he is Lord; and all things whether in heaven or in earth, shall be reconciled to him: See Isaiah, xly, 23. Phil. ii. 10. Col. i. 20. And all kingdoms (not excepting that of the prince of the power of the air) shall be broken and destroyed by the kingdom of Christ, which shall itself be yielded up into the kingdom of boundiess love, where judy. ment shall be no more : What shall we say of that
doctrine, that teaches us the endless duration of evil? So far is the endless sin and misery of the wicked from being inferred from the endless holiness and felicity of the righteous, in the kingdom of the Father, that every proof and demonstration of the latter, concludes equally against the former.
One of the first arguments that ever began to take hold of my mind, & to bring me to think seriously of the system of the Restoration, was,what I read in a little book upon the subject, called, The Everlasting Gos. pel, &c and is there thus expressed.
" It is as impossible that there should be two end. less contrary things, as that there should be two real contrary Deities, a good God and a bad one, or two sorts of contrary creatures, boih of truly divine orig. inal, some being made good by God, and others bad. For an absolute and merely infinite duration, which bas neither beginning nor end, is, according to the confessions of all divines, yea, or every reasonable man, a property peculiar to the uncreated Being only, But such an infinite duration, which, although it has a beginning, yet shall have no end, can only be the property of those creatures that are of divine origin: al. For as these, according to the language of the scripture, are of divine origin, and therefore are rooted in God, or in his almighty creating power, which has no beginning, they can also be everlasting, theip existence or duration can also be without end in God But whatsoever has not its eternal root in God, or in bis eternal creating power, but is sprung up in the creature in this world, by its voluntary turniag away from God, and against his holy will, and consequently is an abordination and displeasure to the Most High, and is only suffered by him, such as sid, and the pup. ishment depending thereon, these things cannot possibly be of an absolute endless existence and duration, or remain so long as God shall exist; but pust of nei cessity once cease and be annihilated. For as God is -Being to those creatures which he created good, and which exist through his will, wherein they may
subsist and be preserved without end ; so he on the contrary, to iniquity and sin, (which against his will, is sprung up in and sticks to the creatures) a consuming fire, whereby all sin and perverseness in the creatures must be at last consumed, annihilated, and separated from them in the highest degree, in order to restore them to their primitive purity ; in the same manner as the fire doth not consume and destroy the gold, but only the dross, and that which is impure.
We will now state some of the arguments in favor of the endless continuance of the happiness of the saints, in the kingdom of their Father; and those which prove that the state of misery shall come to an end.
Christ hath promised, that the happiness of the saints shall have no end; because his life shall have no end, and he is their life.
The misery of the wicked shall end, because the kingdom of evil shall end.
The power of God stands engaged to preserve and keep those who commit themselves to him; and thus, their union with him shall always continue.
The same is engaged to destroy that covenant, with death, and that agreement with hell, whereby sinners are held in subjection to Satan, and thus to take the prey from the mighty, and the captives from the terrible.
The subjects of Christ are his natural sbjects ; be is their rightful sovereign : But Satan's subjects are slaves, led captive by him at his will; he is an usurper, and all that are in bondage to him belong to Christ, who will finally draw them all to himself.
Those that are in bliss shall be eternally attracted by him, and shall always choose that which is good; but when evil is broken, its influence shall no more prevail over those that are captivated by it; and they shall feel the consequences of sin in such a manner as. to loathe it; and they shall heartily return, and swear allegiance to their rightful King
There shall be no influence to draw the saints in bliss from Christ, and thereby dissolve his kingdom; but all the influence of God and goodness, shall tend to dissolve the kingdom of darkness, and to put an end to the thraldom and misery of its unhappy slaves.
Thus, I might go on with a long train of arguments upon this subject; but these may suffice.
Friend. Your arguments would seem very conclusive, for the entire subjection of all things, if you could prove that the word ALL, intends literally and mathematically, the whole, without exception; but this I doubt, will be difficult for you to do, as you must know that it is very frequently used in common language for a part, and sometimes for only a small part of mankind.
Minister. I acknowledge this is the case in common conversation, and in such parts of the sacred history where we are in no danger of being misled by it, being well informed by the context, or some other passages, or from the nature, or from the circumstances of the facts, that we must take it in a limited sense ; but I do not recollect any passage, where any point of doctrine is spoken of, in which the word all is used in that uncertain and undeterminate manner ; and it is necessary that it should not be used in that
ing inatters of importance ; because we might he led into confusion and great uncertainty thereby; not knowing whether to understand it universally, or partially. Wherefore I lay down this plain rule, viz. When the word all is used in ary passage of Scripture, & we are not necessarily obliged, either by the context or some other text, or the pature and circumstances of the case, to understand it partially; and especially where any important point of doctrine is spoken of, wc are always to understand it universally, without exception.
Friend. But can you prove from the writings of the apostles, that they used the word ALL in this large and universal sense ?