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OF MR. ANDREW FULLER'S LAST LETTER.
**SIK, I AM always glad so see question of impoetance candily discussed,
and difference of opinion, operating as an incitement to impartial investigation. I cannot, however, but regret that persons evidently of a disposition hostile to the reception of truth, should engage in a controversy merely to defend opinions, which have little but deep sooted prejudice to support them; and in vindicating their own sentiments should display such a spirit of arrogance and self-sufficiency, and so little sense of decorum in the treatment of their opponents, as are discoverable in the letter of Mr. Andrew Fuller inserted in your last Miscellany..
When people have been long attached to a particular system, and accustomed to consider it as coming from God, and that it is impious to attack it, or even to doubt of its truth, however erroneous it may be, there is little reason to expect that they will ever be convinced of their mistake. But their contidence is not a sufficient ground for our assent to their doctrines, because we want the proofs of their infallibility!
I am so thoroughly convinced that the best and the wisest of men are liable to mistakes, that so many causes concur to the formation of our opinions, and that few can entirely surmount the prejudices of education, and judge for themselves with perfect impartiality, that I would be very cautious of censuring any one for maintaining what I consider as erroneous, And though I am persuaded that Calvinism, as a system, is utterly destitute of Scriptural foundation, and dishonourable to God in the highest degree; that it tends to spread a gloom over the mind that entertains it; to excite an unsocial and an illiberal disposition; that it has driven some to distraction, and induced others to lay violent hands upon themselves; I should nevertheless consider the sincere advocate for its truth, as entitled to compassion, rather than severity.
But whatever system a writer may have adopted, he should certainly treat those who are of a different persuasion, as he, with reason, expects to be treated himself. In observing this rule Mr. Fuller is notoriously deficient, and to this circumstance I shalı chiefly confine my remarks.
Throughout Mr. Fuller's letter appears that resentment and animosity which nothing can excuse, unless he could be certain that he was contending with the enemies of God. The spirit with which his letter is dictated, leaves no room to doubt but that this was his persuasion; but should it prove otherwise, his conduct must be acknowledged extremely reprehensible: and this might possibly be the case, though the truth of his system were more clearly evinced.
It is certainly truc, though it may not be evident to Mr. Fuller, that some are as sincere in rejecting his doctrines, as he can be in embracing and defending them. They are, by many, considered as contrary to reason, to Scripture, and ihe moral perfectious of God. Ought not they who are thus persuaded to propose their objections, and to vindicate what they consider as the truth? If Mr. Fuller thinks them confirmed in a dangerous error, he would act more like a Christian by lamenting their misfortune, thanin loading them with reproaches.
He will not adınit it to be any proof of impartiality, that his letters are perinitted to appear in the Universalist's Miscellany. But what would he have said, had his letters been refused ? He would, doubtless, then have exclaimed loudly against the partiality of the editor. And yet, from the general spirit of his letters, many would have thought themselves perfectly justified in denying them insertion.
Mr. Fuller's object in writing is not the discovery of truth, but the vindication of sentiments which he has long ago adopted. He seems not to have suspected that it is possible for him to be wrong, nor to think that his opponents are to be treated with civility. Universalists and Socinians, he classes with deists and libertines ; and insinuates that they are engaged in the same cominon cause. By such arts he may gain credit with his party, and impose upon the minds of unthinking people ; and this I presume is all that he will be able to effect.
Mrs. Barbauld, it seems, has incurred Mr. Fuller's displeasure by a passage in her Defence of Public Worship, in answer to Mr. Wakefield. But be it remembered she is not accustomed to adopt tenets upon trust, nor to reject opinions, without careful examination. When Mr. Fuller can bring himself to exercise equal impartiality, and to divest his mind as entirely of prejudice, it is probable that he also will give up a great part of his system.
It is not my intention to consider the arguments which Mr. Fuller has advanced, but to offer some remarks on the impropriety of the manner in which he has conducted the controversy. It should be the aim of polemical writers either to discover truth themselves or to convince their opponents. Mr. Fuller's manner is not suited to convince, because he is destitute of candour, and we therefore justly suspect a deficiency of evidence ; nor can he be convinced himself, because he is persuaded that he cannot be wrong. If therefore he should now be mistaken, he must remain so as long as he lives!
Mr. Fuller maintains that the doctrine of Universal Restoration “ affords encouragement to a sinner going on still in his trespasses, and furnishes ground for hope and joy, even supposing him to persevere in sin till death ;" and imagines this to have been “ a self-evident truth." But what can be more evident, than that the assurance of future misery to impenitent sinners, which much more than counterbalances the present pleasures of sin, is sufficient, if believed, to deter from their pursuit? If the doctrine of eternal punishment be not believed it cannot influence the mind; and if a sinner be assured that he shall be miserable for a time, in consequence of his wickedness; that both the degree and duration of
his punishment are unknown, and that every wicked action will increase the weight of his sufferings, he cannot want an inducement which is sufficient in itself, to prevail with him to forsake his evil courses. As Mr. Fuller denies this, he denies, to use his own words, “ what is self evident, and there can be no farther reasoning with him."
Before I conclude, shall just observe, that the spirit of Mr. Fuller's letter is the same spirit that breathes through his book against the Unitarians, for which he has been so extravagantly applauded by his own party. As to the argument of that performance, it has been justly said to be, “We Calvinists are better Christians than you Unitarians, therefore our system is true." The same modest temper appears in his last letter to you: “ We who believe in Eternal Damnation are, by our superior love of holiness, better than you Universalists, therefore our system is true.". Of such an ainiable spirit, and of such overpowering argument, it would perhaps, Mr. Editor, be best to leave the self complacent Mr. Fuller in quiet and undisturbed possession. The triumphs of such controversialists neither excite my envy, nor cominand my admiration.
I am, HOXTON,
Sir, MARCH 6, 1800.
T'HE malice of ill tongues cast upon a good man is only like a mouthful
of smoke blown upon a diamond, which though it clouds its beauty for the present, yet is easily rubbed off, and the gem restored, with little trouble, to its genuine lustre.
II. · No man's glory or dignity is violated by the bad word of a profligate or abandoned man. .
A person may be indifferent to an enemy, but should never hate hiin; the former may be an act of prudence, but the latter is a symptom of mental weakness and depravity.
SIR, VOU seem to wish to persuade your readers that the grounds on whichl
rest my belief of the doctrine of endless punishment are very slender The truth is, I have not at present attempted to state those grounds Considering inyself as not engaged in a forinal controversy, I only introduced a few passages; and to several of them you have hitherto imade no reply. The principal grounds on which I rest iny belief of the doctrine you oppose are as follow:
. I. All those passages of Scripture which describe the future states of men in contrast.
“ Men of the world, who have their portion in this life : I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness. The hope of the righteous shall be gladness : but the expectation of the wicked shall perish. com The wicked shall be driven away in his wickedness : but the righteous shall hope in his death.- And many of thein that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. He will gather his wheat into the garner, and will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.- Wide is the gate and . broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth, unto life, and few there be that find it. Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is is in heaven. Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping, and gnashing of teeth. ---Gather ye first the tares, and bind them in bundles, to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. -- The son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and thein that do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth: then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that gathered fish of ever kind, which when it was full they drew to the shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, and cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world; the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of tire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Blessed is that servant, whom when his Lord cometh, he shall find so doing: but and if that evil
servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming, and shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken, the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy lord. But cast ye out the unprofitable servant, into outer darkness : there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 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. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into everlasting life....He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Blessed are ye when men shall hate you for the son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for behold your reward is great in heaven. But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. He that heareth my sayings, and doeth them, is like a' ınan who built his house upon a rock; and when the flood arose, the storm beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it; for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like unto a man who built his house upon the earth, against which the storm did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoeyer believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life. All that are in their graves shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.- Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted 10 destruction ? and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory? The Lord knoweth them that are his:-But in a great house there are vessels to honour and vessels to dishonour.--Be not deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the spirit shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.---That which beareth thorns and briars is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things which accompany salvation*."
* Psal. xvii. 14, 15. Prov. x. 28. xiv. 32. Dan. xii. 2. Mat. iii. 12. vii. 13, 14, 21. viii. 11, 12. xiii. 30, 40-43, 47-50. xxiv. 46-51. XXV. 23, 30, 34, 41, 46. Mark, xvi. 16. Luke, vi. 23, 24, 47, 49. John, iii. 16. v. 29. Rom. ix. 21–23. 2 Tim. ii. 19, 20. Gal. vi. 7. 8.