As to what you write about my saying I do not envy you because great numbers go to hear you, I still say it, as far as I know my wicked and deceitful heart, and wish you might preach the pure and simple gospel, and that your hearers might desire nothing more than the sincere milk of the word, as new-born babes, preached unto them; that they might grow thereby, &c.
That place I directed you to in 1 John, iv. 5, 6, and wished you to consider, though I have in some measure already considered it, I will attempt more particular to consider it. 1st. You say, John says, "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God, and this is that spirit of Antichrist whereof you have heard it should come and even now already is in the world." John in the preceding verse said, that every spirit that confesseth Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God; do you think, sir, that every person that assents to this truth is a true believer? But few that have been born in a land of gospel light but what assents to this; but the soul that is born of God truly believes it, according to what the same apostle writes, 5th Chapter 1st epistle 1st verse, "Whosoever believeth Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him." Do all men that confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh profess to be born of God? Do they love the children of God that bear his image? No; they, if unregenerate, are of the world; they "love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil." Who does our Lord mean when he says, "If the world hate you, it hated me before it hated you, if ye were of the world the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you?" Sir, you know that there has been many antichristian professors of this truth, that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, that have shed much human blood, because they hated the dear children of God. Therefore I conceive this is the meaning of the text: we must know for ourselves that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, as Peter did when he confessed him, and Christ said to him, "Blessed art thou Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven—upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." I believe that true and saving faith is wrought in the heart by the spirit of the living God; and the soul that believes truly, is, as I have already said, born of God, is in union with Christ, is partaker of the divine nature, and has escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust, and is pressing forward towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. I have wrote more than I intended, having received your other epistle and have considered some of it. This remains to be considered: what you wrote concerning your having great numbers of hearers. It is true Christ had a great number which followed, and heard him, but few which followed because they loved his doctrine, and followed him from right motives. He said unto them, "Ye seek me not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled. Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you, for him hath God the Father sealed," John vi. 26, 27. Our Lord says, John viii. 47, "He that is of God heareth God's words; ye therefore hear them not because ye are not of God." Hence you may see how our Lord and his beloved disciple John agree; it is not the truth as it is in Jesus, the populace are after; it is to gratify their curiosity, or hear something about their salvation in a way that has no cross in it. But Christ says, "If any man will be my disciple let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me." When Christ preached soul searching doctrine as he did in the 6th of John, "Many of his disciples went back and followed no more with him." And I believe when you preach repentance and faith, and shew what fruits they will produce in the true penitent and true believer, the world will not hear you and cordially like your doctrine. But they, as John says, are of the world, therefore they speak of the world, and the world heareth them; "We are of God, we that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us: hereby know we the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." I have reason to think some popular preachers are good men, but the world do not like them nor their doctrine, because they are so; but because of their popularity their curiosity is fed, or gratified—and not their souls with the pure milk of the word. Sir, you answer in some way which is ambiguous to me about your preaching repentance, and say repentance may be preached without speaking the word repentance. What makes you shun speaking plainly as Christ did? Be explicit in preaching it. You cannot deny, but Christ and his apostles preached it explicitly. Christ said in plain language, "Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish," Luke xiii. 3, 5. In your answer concerning the resurrection of the dead, you do not speak of that in a clear and explicit way, and your not mentioning it at either of the funerals, makes me doubt whether you believe it in as clear and literal a manner as it is expressed in the scriptures by Christ and his apostles. Paul says, "Seeing we have such hope we use great plainness of speech." I hope, sir, you will not be offended with me for plain dealing.
As to your apostasy, I hope I shall have an opportunity to confer with you about it. I am happy to say I feel no rancour or enmity against your person or people, as a neighbour and friend, but should be willing to assist you in, and as far as my ability and power with a good conscience will admit; and hope this will not interrupt our meeting together as usual in visiting the schools. I think we had best drop the controversy, and I think I shall no more write to you, and hope you will no more write to me on this subject. You may make what use you please of it; I hope it will be made of good use to you.
I now, dear sir, "commend you to God and the word of his grace, which is able to build yon up in the truth as it is in Jesus, and give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified."
From your friend, and well wisher in the gospel of our dear Lord Jesus Christ.
Mr. Hosea Ballou, Pastor of a Church.
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FROM THE REV. HOSEA BALLOU TO THE REV. JOSEPH WALTON.
PORTSMOUTH, JAN. 15, 1811.
Rev. Sir,—Yours of the 11th inst. is before me, and according to my promise I hasten to pay an early attention to its contents, notwithstanding you express a hope that I should write to you no more on this subject. In your desire, sir, that I should write no more I believe you to be really sincere, for I believe you to be a man disposed to give your friends as little trouble as possible; but I have several reasons for answering your last, which, when I have stated, I presume, will fully satisfy you that my answer is required in justice to myself.
1st. I find myself accused of baseness, of which, were I guilty, the forfeiture would be that of confidence.
2d. I find my preaching misrepresented, and that in direct violation of my own declaration in the present correspondence.
3d. I find questions proposed for my discussion, which renders it reasonable that you should have an answer, as I was in hopes of obtaining to the questions which I stated to you.
4th. I find you quite off from the subjects of your admonitions, not attempting to support them, nor yet willing to exonerate me from charges.
5th. I find the scriptures of our blessed Lord and Saviour quoted with a manifest design to limit his grace and salvation.
I might go on and state a number more reasons why I conceive it to be my duty to reply, but the five already given will undoubtedly satisfy your mind; and they furnish subjects sufficiently ample for an epistle. To them I shall conform myself, and endeavour to be as concise as is consistent with the importance of the subject.
1st. Your accusation is in the following words:—
"Here you designedly, I think, mistake." "Those texts of scripture which you have quoted from Rom. 8th chapt. are not to be applied as you apply them, neither doth the apostle apply them so. And methinks you know they are not, if you consider the connexion from the 28th verse of the chapter to the end. And that passage of scripture quoted from 1 Cor. iii. 21, 22, 23, is only to be applied to real christians; and this, sir, I presume you know; but it would not suit your and your scheme of Universal Salvation to apply them so."
Here I am accused, 1st of designedly mistaking you! And, 2d of a wilful misapplication of the sacred word! To these high charges, sir, I beg the privilege of pleading not guilty; and, after making my defence, of submitting my cause to impartial judges.
With regard to the designed mistake, my defence is that no mistake was made by me either designed or not designed.—I have examined and find that I quoted you verbatim. I also find that I fully agreed with you in the sentence quoted as to what was necessarily signified by it. I applied the sentence according to my own mind; but did not pretend nor say that you applied it as I did. Where then is the designed mistake? Could an action lie against a man for murder if no body were found, on which murder had been committed?—Could an indictment for theft be supported against a man if no property were missing from the owner? Is it proper to bring an allegation thus, without pointing out some sort of mistake? I will not be so uncharitable, sir, as to suppose that you designed to bring a false accusation in this instance. No, sir, you are not capable of such wickedness; I have ever believed you to be an honest, sincere christian; and that opinion is so congenial to my feelings that I shall never give it up while I can find a reasonable excuse for retaining it.
My opinion is, that you, finding that I had made such ready use of your sentence apparently to my own advantage, thought I designed to mistake you, and feeling a little disagreeably on the occasion, did not look minutely to see if you had rightly apprehended me, or not.
With regard to the wilful misapplication of the sacred word my defence is to be made from the sacred text itself. In this defence, sir, it is sufficient if I give you reasons which induce me to apply the scripture as I do. It is not necessary that I convince you or any body else that my application is right, for we are all liable to err. What I shall aim at is to show that if my applications are not correct yet I am not guilty of wilfully misapplying the sacred text. 1st. Of the passage in the 8th of Rom. the following are my reasons for a general application of that scripture to mankind.
1st. The whole human family, at least, is made the primary subject of the apostle's application as may be seen by looking at the 19th verse and onward. "For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who subjected the same in hope; because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now; and not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."
I understand by the above quotation that St. Paul meant the same by the "whole creation" as he did by the "creature" who was "made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope." And this creature which he calls the "whole creation" he says shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. This is the apostle's primary application of the love and mercy of God. In a minor sense he is particular as may be seen in the above quotation, "and not only they," that is the whole creation at large, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." I know of no way to understand the apostle here to mean otherwise than that the whole human race groan and travail for the same deliverance and redemption that those do who are blessed with the first fruits of the spirit. Nor do I find any expression, in relation to this subject, more significant of the deliverance of those who have the first fruits of the spirit, than of the deliverance of the whole creation, or creature made subject to vanity. By turning back only to the 5th chap, we find the apostle laboring the subject of grace and salvation in just as extensive a manner. See verse 18th, "Therefore as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men unto condemnation, even so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." Consistently with this positive and particular declaration of the apostle's belief in the justification of all men through the righteousness of Jesus Christ, we find his following testimony. See 1 Tim. ii. 4, &c. "Who will have all men to be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time." Heb. ii. 9. "But we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." Rom. iv. 25.—"who was delivered for our offences and was raised again for our justification." v. 8. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
In the above testimony the apostle says, that Christ gave himself a ransom for all men, that he, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man, that he was delivered for our offences and was raised again for our justification, that his death for sinners is a commendation of God's love to them. Now I am willing to acknowledge to you, sir, and to all the world, that I can make no sense of the above testimony without applying it to all mankind. In the apostle's observations in the close of the 8th of Rom. of nothing being able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, there is a perfect analogy with the foregoing testimony. The love of God which is in Christ Jesus, was commended to a sinful world in that Christ tasted death, by the grace of God, for every man. If one of all those for whom Christ died can be separated from that love by which Christ died for him, I know not why the whole may not be, by the same argument.
2d. Of the passage in 1st Cor. 3d, &c. This passage, you say, you presume I know ought not to be applied to any but real christians! See the text. "Therefore let no man, glory in men; for all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's." Are you willing, sir, to presume that I know that the apostle Paul did not mean to dissuade any but real christians from trusting in men? This you must presume in order to presume that I know the text ought to be applied to none but real Christians. Is not the sense of "no man" as universal in the negative, as the sense of "all men" is in the positive? Why did you not attempt to give some reason for such a presumption? I hope dear sir, you will not allow yourself to think, even for one moment, that I am so uncharitable as to suppose you presumed thus, contrary to impressions of your own mind, though you cannot think any worse of me than is implied in the presumption. I tell you, sir, that I seriously believe that the above text ought to be applied to all men; I believe it is wrong for any man to put his trust in man, according to that scripture; and I believe it to be perfectly right to exhort all men to put their trust in God who has given his son to die for us all, and who will with him freely give us all things richly to enjoy.
I do not doubt your sincerity in the above presumption, but I doubt your having paid a suitable attention to the subject before you thus presumed. Hasty judgments and sudden conclusions frequently make work for repentance; but the true christian will, on cool reflection, be willing to acknowledge his faults and to remove unjust accusations.— "By their fruits ye shall know them." On considering the usage with which I meet in this unsolicited and unexpected correspondence, I cannot but call to mind the very different treatment which the devil received from an heavenly dignitary, who dared not to bring against his opponent a railing accusation! As a further evidence that the text in Corinthians ought to be applied to all men, or to men in general, see the words of the same apostle to the Ephesians, chapter iv. 8, 11, &c. "Wherefore he saith, when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. And he gave some apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers."—Now look again to the passage in Corinthians, "For all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas," &c. These were the gifts given unto men. The question now is, were those gifts which were given unto men, given to any but real christians? See Psalm lxviii. 18, to which the apostle alludes in his words quoted from Eph. iv. "Thou hast ascended on high; thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them." Are you willing, sir, to presume that I know that the prophet David and St. Paul meant to apply those scriptures to none but real christians? I must acknowledge my suprise at such presumption. I will now take my leave of those accusations, just remarking that I feel no fear in submitting my case to any impartial tribunal.
The 2d general particular is that of my preaching being misrepresented, and that in direct violation of my own declarations in the present correspondence. This misrepresentation I find in your letter in the following words: "I think, sir, your giving your hearers encouragement in your preaching that Christ will save them all whether they repent and believe the gospel or no, is of a dangerous nature." In the first place I call my whole congregation to witness against this misrepresentation. In the second place I call my own testimony in this correspondence which you had before you, to witness against this misrepresentation. The following are my own words verbatim:—"In the first place I wish to observe that I as much believe in those scriptures which speak of the necessity of repentance, as I do in any part of the sacred writings. The many scriptures which you have judiciously quoted to prove the propriety of the doctrine of repentance are justly applied as I conceive, and I accord with you in their use and meaning as far as you have explained them. While a man is in a state of unbelief he is not in the enjoyment of the truth." These quotations, sir, are all in direct opposition to your representation of the subject of repentance.
Here again I ought to observe, that I am far from accusing you of an intentional fault, or a wilful misrepresentation; though in order to suppose you clear from such a fault, I must charitably suppose that the perturbations of your mind were such that you did not give my letter a careful examination. I proved by plain and positive scripture that repentance is as much a gift of Christ as the forgiveness of sins, which is, with the passage quoted from my letter, sufficient to convince any man, who is not "improperly biased by tradition," that I do not exclude the necessity of repentance.
3d. I find questions proposed for my discussion, which renders it necessary that you should receive an answer, as I was in hope of obtaining to the questions which I stated to you.
These questions are in the following words: "I would ask you, if, when I am writing a letter or an epistle to Mr. Hosea Ballou, it would be proper for me to apply what I wrote in particular to you concerning your affairs, or circumstances, to the whole world? Who does our Lord mean when he says, 'If the world hate you it hated me before it hated you,' &c." To the first of these questions I answer, should you state in a letter to me that no man ought to preach the doctrine which I preach, I should suppose that your observation would apply to the whole world of mankind as well as to me; or if I should say in a letter to the Rev. Joseph Walton, no man ought to presume his friend to be guilty of wilful mistakes, and misapplications of scripture without the best possible evidence I believe you would see the propriety of applying my observation to all men, even if you should feel yourself particularly admonished by it.
The second question I conceive may be justly answered thus: The world which hated Christ was that religious order among the Jews who accused him of being a friend to publicans and sinners; who thought themselves so much better than their neighbours, as to say, "Stand by thyself; come not nigh me, for I am holier than thou."
Enmity to Christ grows out of a Pharisaical notion of our own righteousness, and it is an invariable mark of a Pharisee to oppose the humiliating doctrine of equal guilt and equal grace. No man ever hated Christ who felt the weight of his own sins and the need of a Saviour. No set of men ever fomented persecutions but such as thought themselves the more particular favourites of God than others.
When I hear certain characters raising such queries, I am almost induced to use the freedom with them which the prophet Nathan used with his terrible majesty the king, and say. "Thou art the man!" But I dare not assume the place of judgment; and I know my own fallibility so well that I have no need to accuse others.
4thly. I find you quite off from the subjects of your admonition, not attempting to support them, nor yet willing to exonerate me from charges. Quite off, I say, from the subjects of admonition; for you have not attempted to distinguish between the two ideas contained in what you stated as the first subject of admonition, nor have you told me whether it be one, or both which you consider thus reprehensible.—You labour some time on another subject which concerns the mode by which death was introduced, but you have said nothing about whether God originally designed death, or not. Not knowing your real mind from what you expressed on this subject, I queried in my mind how I ought to understand you, and supposing you consistent with yourself, and having sufficient reason to believe that your creed contains the belief that God foreordained whatsoever comes to pass, I explained the sentence accordingly; but you neither acknowledge me right in this particular, nor object; but you say that you do not think you ever told me so! Here again, sir, I can easily suppose you speak the truth, though I am under the necessity of charitably supposing that your memory fails, for at the first visit which I had the happiness of making you, I heard you recommend the Catechism to be taught in schools which contains this very article of faith. And now, sir, I must either believe that you would recommend that which you do not believe, or I must still suppose that you believe that God foreordained whatsoever comes to pass; and of course that he foreordained death. And as you admonish me for suggesting that God originally designed death for the good of mankind you cannot be consistent with yourself, as I can see, without believing that God originally designed death for a damage to mankind. And as you do not deny believing thus, I cannot but marvel that you should wholly neglect to answer my queries on this subject: a subject which evidently involves the moral character of God. Do you feel, sir, as if you had honourably acquitted yourself in this particular, by only exulting in your forgetfulness concerning having given me to understand your creed? Does this look altogether like renouncing the hidden things of dishonesty? Did you believe your creed in respect to the subject of admonition was hid from me? Why then did you not openly decide either one way or the other? May I not without doing you the least injustice suppose you were straightened by the glaring inconsistency of your admonition? If you avowed the suggested item all the abominable absurdity which I posted full in sight must have been charged to your account. If you disavowed the suggested item then away went the darling Catechism, in a moment, and with it, more of the preposterous inventions of priestcraft than could be easily replaced to the advantage of the cause of superstition and ignorance! I would by no means suggest that you did any thing or neglected to do any thing from a motive which your own conscience disallowed; but I am impelled, even by charity itself, to attribute your conduct in the above case to an improper prejudice against a doctrine of which you know but very little.
Another subject of your admonition is that of my having apostatised from the true faith. On this subject, on which I was particular, you make no defence, nor yet exhonerate me from the charge. You observe you hope for an opportunity to confer with me about this matter. Why were you unwilling to write your defence of this allegation, or be so kind as to withdraw it. I must use the plainness, sir, to say, if you accuse of designed mistakes in writing where no mistakes exist, if I have a verbal conference with you on these matters, I should wish to have it before a ready scribe who could produce the conservation afterwards. You are not to suppose by this precaution I mean to intimate that you would report the conversation contrary to truth, designedly; I mean if when my letters are before your eyes, you misunderstand, you might be as likely to misunderstand conversation.
You admonished me for preaching a doctrine which pleases the world, meaning the populace; and I endeavoured to defend myself in that particular: but you neither attempt to show my reasoning faulty, nor yet, acknowledge me correct. This is admonishing, I should suppose, in the unaccountable manner in which Popes admonish! You say that many followed Christ for the sake of the loaves. Dear sir, I did not say but they all did; and if they did, the question is, does that prove his doctrine not of God? Here, sir, you will see, if you look one moment, that you were off, far off from the subject.
5th. I find the scriptures of our blessed Lord and Saviour quoted with a manifest design to limit his grace and salvation.
You introduce those quotations as follows: "You still will continue to maintain the doctrine of Universal Salvation by those texts which I said you spoke at the grave with such an emphasis. If they are to be understood only in a literal sense as they are expressed, I can quote as many, or more spoken by Christ and his apostles, which will contradict them in their literal sense. Christ says, 'He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned. Then shall he say unto them on his left hand depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.'—'Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way and ye shall seek me and shall die in your sins; whither I go ye cannot come. John viii. 21, 24. I said therefore unto you that ye shall die in your sins, for if ye believe not I am he ye shall die in your sins.'"
These passages you say contradict those which I make use of to prove Universal Salvation, if we understand those which I thus use in a literal sense, as they are expressed. I will state one passage only as an example, which I have before quoted. Rom. v. 18, "Therefore, as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men unto condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." Nothing can be said on the above text which can tend to make its meaning more plain than it is, if its most natural sense be the true sense. This, sir, I presume, you will allow: Now let us look for a contradiction of this text in the passages which you quoted. "He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned." I ask how long the unbeliever will be damned? Answer—As long as he is an unbeliever, and no longer, according to the text. Is there any expression in the text, or context that even intimates that any will remain eternally in unbelief? No. Where is the contradiction then? There is none. The passage which you quote from the 25th of Mat. says, "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal." As the word everlasting is very frequently used in the scriptures to signify ages and dispensations, is there any certainty that it has not such a meaning in this place? Answer: No. Where is the contradiction then? There is none. The very expression "punishment" shows plainly that what is inflicted is designed as an emendation of the punished. I have shown in a late publication, that it is in direct violation of the words of Christ, to explain the above text to signify a punishment in another state of existence; and yet, if we were under the necessity of understanding it so, it would fall after all infinitely short of proving that, at some period known to a merciful God, all men will not be justified unto life.—Therefore no contradiction can be found. The passage which speaks of those who should die in their sins will fall equally short of contradicting the testimony of Universal Justification. I will ask in the first place, whether a man's being dead in sin render it impossible for him to be quickened unto life by the spirit of God? See a passage which you quote, "You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins." If those who are dead in trespasses and sins can be quickened according to this passage, what is the reason that those Jews to whom Christ spake can never be quickened? You must see, sir, that the passage which you quote refutes your notion about this contradiction. You will say that Christ told the Jews "whither I go ye cannot come," but you cannot but remember that he said the same thing to his own disciples. "As I said unto the Jews so I say unto you, whither I go ye cannot come;" and afterwards explains himself to mean that they could not come immediately.—Let us now turn this subject round and ask how the text quoted from Romans can be true if your notion of endless misery be granted to be the true meaning of the passages you quote? Will you undertake to say that men who are justified unto life by the righteousness of Christ will remain endlessly in a state of death and condemnation? If you do not feel competent to the task of maintaining such palpable contradiction, why would it not be doing yourself a kindness just to examine that soul chilling and heaven dishonouring doctrine of endless, unmerciful punishment! One moment's examination of such an idea when brought in sight of the fountain which is opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to wash in from sin and uncleanness would abolish it forever. I acknowledge, sir, that my five particulars do not comprehend every particular of your letter; nor have I attended to all which they do comprehend so extensively as I would if I could suppose it necessary; but as you were in hopes of receiving nothing, it is not to be expected that you will find fault because there is no more.
[Footnote 11: "Candid Review," or Answer to Robinson.]
I cannot be willing to close this epistle without giving you credit of following the apostle's direction in your observation concerning my argument in respect to St. Peter. You say "I conceive you think you have got a mighty argument," &c. The apostle exhorts us to be children in malice, and I am sure St. Paul, nor any body else ever heard a more childish expression which communicated the least possible disaffection.
What you quote from St. Peter with a design to prove endless misery, without attempting to show that such was his meaning, I forbear commenting upon. If you had shown that Peter could consistently believe that no man was common or unclean considered in the sheet which he saw in vision, and at the same time believe that the greatest part of mankind would remain in sin and uncleanness eternally you would have done more than you have. I hope, sir, if you are determined to take your leave of this correspondence without supporting the subjects of your admonition, and without supporting the heavy charges you have stated against me, and, likewise, without acknowledging the impropriety of your admonition, and the incorrectness of your charges, that you will never attack another of your fellow creatures in the same way. I do not express this because I feel the least unfriendliness to you in consequence of the method you have pursued, but because I think it is contrary to the spirit of Christianity; it is not doing as we wish to be done by. I do not believe that your soul feels satisfied with it; but you have some remains of pride yet which keeps you from giving up ground which you are sensible you cannot maintain. I hope, sir, you will entertain no apprehensions respecting my cordial friendship to you, or my readiness to join you in any possible usefulness to our fellow creatures. And, as you affectionately committed me to God and to the word of his grace, please to accept the sincere desires for your present and everlasting welfare, of sir, your humble servant, for Christ's sake.
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FROM THE SAME TO THE SAME.
PORTSMOUTH, FEB. 1, 1811.
Rev. Sir,—Having taken into serious consideration the whole correspondence which has passed between us, I have felt very deep impressions on my mind arising from the following coosiderations.
1st. You and I are accountable beings, and must undoubtedly, sooner or later, be called to account for the propriety, or impropriety of our labours with each other.
2d. Our professional character must, without doubt, be a high consideration in our accountability.
3d. The eyes of society are ever watchful, and God has made us accountable, not only to himself, but to our fellow creatures, who have a just demand upon us.
While these important considerations were revolving in my mind, I felt a sense of my youth, compared with your age, my inexperience, the proneness of the human heart to the vanity of self confidence, the blindness of prejudice to which old and young are more or less subject, and also, the friendship which has hitherto happily subsisted between us since our first acquaintance.
These circumstances and those considerations, led my mind to the conclusion that I ought to lay the whole matter before God, and to ask of him suitable wisdom to guide me in relation to so weighty a subject.
The result of my devotional supplications is a forcible application of the divine direction, given by St. Paul 1 Tim. v. 1, "Rebuke not an elder but entreat him as a father, and the younger men as brethren."
How far your communications to me are consistent, or inconsistent with the apostle's direction, in the above test, I do not conceive it my duty to judge, any farther than a discharge of my own duty, pursuant to the apostle's direction, may require. On the most deliberate recapitulation of all which I have written, I cannot now say, that I could wish to recall a single idea, argument, application of scripture, or sentiment; though I will not even suggest that better information might not produce a different conclusion. I trust I have hitherto treated you, sir, and the subjects of your communications with all the propriety of which my understanding is master; and my fervent desire is, that I may complete the labours enjoined on me by the above text, in strict conformity to that most holy spirit which inspired such excellent counsel. Therefore, Rev. Sir, I entreat you as a father to consider,
1st. Whether you entreated your humble servant as a brother when you admonished him for important particulars which you wholly refuse to substantiate either as facts or wrongs?
2d. Whether you entreated me as a brother in refusing to decide, as to your meaning, in the first subject of your admonition, and in not giving me to understand whether I had rightly apprehended you or not?
3d. Whether you entreated me as a brother in not acknowledging an agreement of sentiment on the subject of repentance after I had given you the fullest assurance possible, that I believed in its necessity and importance?
4th. Whether you entreated me as a brother in admonishing me as an apostate from the true faith of the gospel, while I profess to believe in Christ the Son of God, as the Saviour of the world; and stand in society, in my various relation by the blessing of God, unimpeached as to morality?
5th. Whether you entreated me as a brother in admonishing me against a doctrine which commends the love and mercy of God in the final reconciliation and everlasting happiness of all unreconciled beings; and in opposing said doctrine with no other argument than saying, in effect, that if the scriptures which prove the doctrine are allowed to mean as they naturally read, other scriptures contradict them! Thus furnishing the infidel with his darling weapon against the divinity of the scriptures?
6th. Whether you entreated me as a brother in stating those heavy charges against me, in which you accuse me of a designed mistake, and of wilful misapplications of scriptures where neither mistake or misapplications of scriptures can be made to appear?
7th. Whether you entreated me as a brother in misrepresenting my preaching when you never heard me perform in the particular capacity of a preacher?
8th. Whether you entreated me as a brother in taking your leave of this correspondence without supporting one single particular of your admonition, or one single charge against me. And also, without acknowledging the incorrectness of your admonition, or the impropriety of your charges.
I entreat you, sir, as a father, to consider whether the spirit which you manifested, in bring such unreasonable charges against me, be consistent with the directions given by St. Paul to Timothy, and also with the example and precept of him who loved his enemies and commanded his disciples to do likewise?
I entreat you seriously to consider what the conduct of the Saviour would have been, if he had been disposed to judge, denounce, reject and disfellowship all those who sincerely believe in him and strove to honour him with becoming obedience to his commands, on account of their not understanding every thing as well as he did?
I entreat you to call in question your treatment of me because I do not believe in every thing as you do; and carefully examine if it correspond with the conduct of him, who, out of pity to human weakness, submitted himself to the scorn and hatred of those who considered themselves more righteous than others?
In relation to the doctrine, to which you appear so violently opposed, I entreat you, as a father, to take into consideration, 1st. The promises of God to Abraham by which the doctrine is supported. 2dly. The corroborating testimonies in the New Testament by which we are to understand those promises. 3dly. The consistency of the doctrine with the character of infinite goodness. And, 4thly. The consistency of the doctrine with every benevolent and godlike desire of the human heart.
If God promised to bless all the families, nations and kindreds of the earth in the seed of Abraham, who is Christ, and if St. Paul has informed us that this blessing is justification through faith, I entreat you to consider by what authority you condemn the doctrine of Universal Justification.
If the apostle has also argued that God has made peace through the blood of the cross of Jesus, by him to reconcile all things to himself, I entreat you to consider by what authority you condemn the doctrine of Universal Reconciliation.
If in perfect conformity to the promises of God, the prophet has given his testimony that all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God, I entreat you to consider by what authority you condemn the doctrine of Universal Salvation.
If you make use of scripture to contradict such plain and positive declarations, by explaining parables and doubtful sayings for that purpose, I entreat you candidly to consider whether you can do any thing more to the dishonour of the sacred word, or more pleasing to those who wish to bring the scriptures into disrepute.
If you feel determined to maintain and inculcate the idea of God's punishing his rational offspring eternally without mercy, love, or pity towards them, I entreat you, as a father, to consider whether you can invent any idea which, applied to God, would make his character appear more contrary to the spirit of him who loved his enemies and died for them.
I entreat you to examine carefully and see if it be possible to reconcile the doctrine of endless misery with the benevolent desires of the true spiritual children of God; and consider seriously whether it be proper to pray for the salvation of all men, and then condemn the belief of it as a heresy.
I entreat you, as a father, to call into serious consideration the real cause of all the persecutions and abominable cruelties which have been practiced in Christendom, on account of religion, and see if you can find a foundation for these things except in the blasphemous notion that God is unmerciful towards the impenitent.
Endeavour, sir, to satisfy yourself how the foolish prejudices of ignorant zealots could ever have succeeded in establishing so many middle walls of partition, and in making so many pernicious distinctions in the Christian world, if the blasphemous notion of partiality in God had not been the rage of an apostatised church.
Find out, if you can, I entreat you, sir, the cause of all the madness and folly, which appear in the habitual coldness and bitterness exercised by the clergy, of different denominations towards each other, if it be not the blasphemous notion that their foolish prejudices are sanctioned by God!
Adieu, I write no more. I feel that I have done my duty. I have entreated you as a father in love and faithfuness. I leave the effects with God; humbly praying and joyfully believing, that when we are purged from our hay, wood and stubble, with the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, we shall see eye to eye and be admitted to a humble seat at the feet of our blessed Saviour, for whose sake I remain, sir, your most obedient and very humble servant.
Rev. JOSEPH WALTON.