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ves, it produces its effects. Therefore, to prove a man will suffer condemnation for sin, at thirty, forty, or fifty years of age, it would be necessary to prove that he would be a sinner at that time, or those times. So, in order to prove that a man will be miserable, after this mortal life is ended, it must first be proved that he will sin in the next state of existence.
It has been argued, by many, that the doctrine of future punishment, or misery, is a necessary doctrine to dissuade men from committing sin, which surely surprises me. To tell a person who is in love of sin, that if he does not immediately refrain, he will have to continue in sin for a long time, would be true, besure; but would be void of force to dissuade him from what he is in love with. I believe, that as long as men sin, they will be miserable, be that time longer or shorter; and that as soon as they cease from sin, they begin to experience divine enjoyment.
The scripture speaks of the times of the restitution of all things, but does not inform us their number, or their duration. It also speaks of the fullness of times, but gives us no date, or duration of them.
I have not stated so many objections against the doctrine which I have labored to prove, as many of my readers may wish I had, nor so many as I should have been glad to, was it not for swelling the work to more of an expensive size. But I have stated, and endeavored to answer the most frequent objections, and those on which my opposers put the most dependence; and I should have taken great satisfaction in communicating many more arguments, both from reason and scripture, in favor of universal holiness and happiness, than I have, was it not for the reason assigned in the other case. However, if those objections which I have taken notice of, are answered to the reader's satisfaction, other scriptures, generally used as argument against the salvation of all men, will not be hard to be understood, as not unfavorable to the doctrine.. And as for the proofs which I have deduced from scripture and reason, I believe them entirely conclusive; būt if not, more of the same kind would not be.
The reason I have not particularly explained those parables of the New Testament which I have had occasion to notice, in this work, is, my Notes, of which, mention is made on the title page of this book, are before the public, and contain my ideas on most of the parables spoken by Christ.
A question may be asked by many, which has labored much in my mind, respecting the propriety of publishing books on divinity, when we profess to believe in the book called the Bible, that it contains all which we mean to communicate as truth, in matters of religion; on which question I am determined for myself, that the gospel of Jesus Christ would have been better understood, had the bible been the only book ever read on the subject. And though I doubt not but many authors have done great justice to those sub
jects on which they have written, and theight of the scriptures have, by suci, means, been caused to shine; yet, by others it has been greatly obscured. And had one half the attention been paid to the Bible which has been paid to those authors who have written upon it, it would in my opinion, have been incomparably better for Christendom. But, on account of errors imbibed, in consequence of erroneous annotations, it may be argued, that it is now necessary to write and publish correct sentiments, by the same parity of reasoning as we argue the necessity of those means to restore health, which are not necessary to continue it.
To the short exhortation, with which the believer in Universalism will meet, in this work, he his humbly invited to pay strict attention; as no faith, however true it may be, can Le of any real service to the believer, unless it be accompanied with the spirit and life of that truth in which it is grounded. The greater the usefulness of a person, the more lamentable his death. The more divinity there is in any faith, the greater is the pity it should not be alive.
" As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead
My bretheren in the ministry will not think it assuming, that I have spoken of the necessity of our paying strict attention to the stewardship into which God by his grace hath put us; as it was not written so much to instruct, as to show the bretheren my faith; that they may see the ground on which I stand; know the manner in which I contend for the faith once delivered to the saints; and feel for me the same fellowship which I feel for them. You may regret that my ideas were not more correct, in many instances, and think the great subject on which I have written, might have obtained better justice from some more experienced writer; in which you have the same ideas with myself. But in this you may be satisfied, that I have written as I now think and believe, without leaning to the right, or to the left, to please or displease. I have been often solicited to write and publish my general ideas on the gospel, but have commonly observed to my friends, that it might be attended with disagreeable consequences, as it is impossible to determine whether the ideas which we entertain at the present time are agreeable to those which we shall be under the necessity of adopting after we have had more experience; and knowing to my satisfaction that authors are very liable to feel such an attachment to sentiments which they have openly avowed to the world, that their predjudice frequently obstruct: their further acquisitions in the knowledge of the truth; and even in cases of conviction, their own self-importance will keep them from acknowledging their mistakes: And having some snowledge of my own infirmities, I felt the necessity of preCaution which I have no reason to believe, is, or lias been injurious.
It has often been said, by the enemies of the doctrine for which I have contended, that it would do to live by, but not to die by; meaning that it would not give the mind sutistaction, when sensible it was about to leave a mortal, for an immortal state. As to the truth of the assertion, I cannot positively say, that moment has not yet been experienced by me ; and as those who make the remark have never believed the doctrine, I cannot see how they should know any better than I do. Thus much I can say, I believe I have seen, and often heard of persons rejoicing in the doctrine, in the last hours of their lives; but I do not build my faith on such grounds. The sorrows, or the joys of persons, in their last nioments, prove nothing to me ot' the truth of their general belief. A Jew who despises the name of Christ, fron the force of his education, may be filled with comfortable hopes, in his last inoments, from the force of the same education. I have no doubt but a person may believe or pretend to believe, in the doctrine of universal salvation, when he knows of no solid reason for his belief, but has rather rested the matter on the judgment of those in whom he has placed more confidence than he has in reality, on the Saviour of the world; and I think it very possible, that such Universalists may have strange and unexpected fears, when the near approach of death, or any other circumstance, should cause them to think more seriously, on so weighty a subject.
What my feelings might be, concerning the doctrine which I believe, was I called to contemplate on a death bed, I am as unable to say, as I am what I'may think of it a year hence, should I live and be in health. But I am satisfied, beyond a doubt, that if I live a year longer, and then find cause to give up my present belief, that I shall not feel a consciousness of having professed what I did not sincerely believe; and was I called to leave the world and niy writings in it, and at the last hour of my life should find I had erred, yet I am satisfied, that I should possess the approbation of a good conscience in all I have written.
Therefore, though sensible of my imperfections, yet enjoying great consolation in believing the doctrine for which I have argued, in the following work, and in the enjoyment of a good conscience, I submit the following pages to a generous and candid public, praying for the blessing of the Goil whom I serve, on the feeble endeavors of the most unworthy whom he hath called as a servant of all men.
THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE TO THE FIFTH EDITION
As this edition of the treatise on atonement, in several re spects, varies from former editions, the author feels that he owes it to the public to offer some reason for such variations.
It has pleased God to continue his life, until this work has passed through four editions, with all the imperfections which it contained when first published, nearly thirty years ago. For a number of years he has seen reasons to doubt the correctness of some of the opinions which he entertained at the time he wrote the work; and also the propriety of the use he then made of certain passages of scripture. In his preface to the first edition, he says; I have had, for sometime, an intention to write a treatise on this subject, but thought of deferring it until more experience might enable me to perform it better, and leisure give me opportunity to be more particular. But the consideration of the unce
ncertainty of life was one great stimulous to my undertaking it at this time, added to a possibility of living to be informed with what success it meets in the world, and of having an opportunity to correct whatever I might, in my future studies, find incorrect, were not the smallest causes of my undertaking it.'
Now as he has lived to know that the denomination of christians, to which he belongs, has given to this humble work a much more favorable reception than he had any reason to anticipate, and bestowed on it an attention which far exceeds his most flattering hopes, and as he has, as he thinks, improved in his understanding, in certain particulars; feel satisfied that the work needed correction, he felt boun in duty to himself and the public, to make such corrections as his present views required.
But be it known, and duly considered, that in no particular has the author's views, undergone any change unfavorable to the main doctrine, to the support of which the treatise was devoted.
The main points, in relation to which his views now differ from those he entertained when he first wrote the following work, relate to the pre-existence of Christ, of man's existence before his corporeal organization; and the application of some passages of scripture
solely to the purifying operations of divine truth in man's understanding which passages he now believes embraced, in their true sense, all the temporal judgments with which a most perverse and wicked generation was visited.
Although he as fully believed in the dependence of Christ on his God and Father, as he now does, he entertained the opinion that he had a sentinent existence before he was manifested in flesh; and he then thought that certain passages of
so as to