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"He staggered not at the promise of God, through unbelief: but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that what he had promised, he was able also to perform," Rom. iv. 18 19, 20, 21.
This is the only way I answer this objection to my satisfaction-God hath sworn, that to him every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear, Isai. xlv. 24.— That in the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, things on earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue shall confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, Phil. ii. 10. 11. That it is the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself, in the dispensation of the fulness of the times, to gather together, or rehead, in one, all things in Christ; both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him, Ephes. i. 9, 10. And having made peace through the blood of his cross, he is determined to reconcile all things unto himself; wheth er things in heaven, or things on earth, Col. i. 20 That he worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, Epes. i 11. That he will have all men to be saved, or restored, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth, 1 Tim. ii. 6. That the Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hands, St. John iii. 35. And that Christ hath said, “All that the Father giveth me, shall come unto me; and him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." St. John vi. 37. When I consider these, and many such like promises, which I find in the Scriptures; and that he that hath promised, is able to perform; bath wisdom, power and goodness, sufficient to accomplish all his words, how difficult or impossible soever the matter may seem, to our carnal, vain and weak rea soning; I cast the whole of my concern upon him; judging that he is faithful, who hath promised, and that, in his own time he will fulfil all his purposes, & all his promises. But I confess to you, that it re
quires a faith, if possible, more strong than that of Abraham, to believe the doctrine of the Restoration steadfastly, in the midst of so much evil as prevails in the world, and which seems to render it impossible : But my only hope is in God.
"But, to encourage us the more, there are not only promises of what God will do, but examples of what he hath done, recorded in Scripture, as the cases of Manasseh, Nebuchadnezzar, Mary Magdalen, Saul, and many of the murderers of our Lord, priests, and even Pharisees, are left on record, as patterns of God's long suffering, power, mercy and love. And I would advise those Christians that doubt of the Universal Reconciliation of all things, to remember St. Paul's words to the Colossians, on this subject, chap. i. 21. "And you that were some time alienated, and enemies in your mind, by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled;" as a proof and example of his power to reconcile all things. Let all remember their own stubbornness; and then instead of reviling and deriding a truth which God has revealed, they will adore him, of whom, through whom, and to whom, are all things; who "doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou ??" Rom. xi. 36. Dan. iv. 35.
Friend. But allowing that God has power to change the hearts of the vilest of men, is not the exercise of that power evidently limited? For I find it written in Rev. xxii. 11. "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still,; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still." By these words it seems to be intimated, that the characters of both the wicked and the righteous, shall at some period be so confirmed and fixed, as to admit of no change or alteration.
Minister. This appears to be a considerable difficulty, but can by no means overthrow the system of the
Restoration, which seems established upon many gra÷ cious promises. The words seem to refer to a particular period, even when the Lord shall come, and shew that his coming will not (as some suppose) change the characters of men; but that all shall continue for a certain time, in the same character as before. But though he that is unjust, shall be unjust still; and he that is filthy, shall be filthy still"-during the age of judgment; and shall have the dreadful curse pronounced upon him; for, "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema Maranatha; that is, Accursed, the Lord cometh: 1 Cor. xvi. 22. Yet I trust I have proved, that the vilest shall be finally changed; and consequently, that these words must be understood with some limitation. And thus though this text is plainly contrary to the opinion of those who suppose that all the human race shall be admitted into the kingdom of hea ven at the day of judgment, yet it may well be reconciled to the system laid down in these Dialogues; especially if it can be proved that similar expressions are used, where a limitation is supposed, or necessarily implied.
Friend. Yes; if you can find similar expressions used for limited times, it will be satisfactory.
Minister. St. Paul says, 1 Cor. xiv. 38" But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant:" But we can hardly suppose that he meant without limitation. So we read of the Jews, that" God hath given them the spirit of slumber; eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, unto this day.” And David saith; "Let their table be made a snare & a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompense unto them. Let their eyes be darkened that they should not see, and bow down their back ALWAY," Rom. xi. 8, 9, 10. These expressions of their remaining in a blinded, hardened, and reprobate state, are stronger than those "He that is unjust let him be unjust still, &c. for, instead of still, the word alway is used; and yet we
are informed, that this "blindness in part has (only) happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in: And so all Israel shall be saved." that "God hath concluded them all (or, shut them up together) in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all," even all whom he had shut up, or concluded in unbelief. And, as I observed before, David "Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek thy name, O JEHOVAH. Let them be confounded and troubled forever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish: That they may know that thou whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the Most High over all the earth," Psal. lxxxiii. 16, 17, 18. Many other similar passages might be mentioned; but these may suffice, to shew, that often where the words Let it, or let them be, in such and such a state, they only intend a certain period, until another dispensation takes place. As for righteousness, holiness, and happiness, they have quite a different foundation from sin and impurity, as I have shewn before; and therefore, no arguments used in favor of the total destruction of evil, can, in the least, prove, that goodness, which is the Divine essence, shall cease; but the contrary; and those who are firmly joined to the Lord, and have continued with him through the state of temptation, shall never cease to be righteous, nor be separated from their Head, from whom they shall derive eternal life; for CHRIST hath said, "Because I live, ye shall live also." St. John xiv. 19.
CHRIST, at his coming, will bring every hidden thing to light, and shall take off all disguises; so that he that is unjust, shall appear unjust; and he that is filthy, shall be discovered; hypocricy shall be no more. "The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful," Isai.xxxii. 5. "Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked; and between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not," Mal. iii. 18. The judgment of God is according to truth, and
is designed to make an entire discovery of all pérsons, and all secret things," that every mouth-way be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God," Rom. iii. 19 But though judgment has its great use in discovering, laying open, convincing and condemning; and punishment in destroying, subduing and humbling; yet the powerful, saving grace of GOD, and the operation of the Divine Spirit, must have the glory of restoring, or creating men anew; and the blood of JESUS must cleanse their souls from the guilt and pollution of sin. Evil must be destroyed out of them; this is done by afilictions; and goodness must be restored; this is done by God's renewing power and grace.
But the objection may be answered another way, without any of this reasoning by considering the subject comparatively. Thus As God only is holy; as none are good but he, in an absolute sense; as he putteth no trust in his holy ones. and the heavens are not clean in his sight, and his angels he chargeth with folly; (See Job xv. 15 iv. 18.) and as all intelligences, compared with him, are unjust and unclean; so, those who have lived and died in rebellion against God, and in the pollution of sin, may remain unjust and filthy, compared with the saints, those vessels of honor and glory, who have purged themselves. "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood, and of earth; and some to honor and some to dishonor. If a man. therefore, purge himself from these (sins) he shall be a vessel of honor, sanctified and meet for the master's usé, and prepared unto every good work," 2 Tim. ii. 20,
Here we may observe, that in our Lord's great house there shall be divers vessels of various kinds, yet all useful, but some more highly so than others; that honor and dishonor are comparative terms; and that the way to become vessels of the highest honor at last, is to purge ourselves from iniquity while on earth, by obeying the truth. For it must appear