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“Now, the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of Devils.”
A Doctor N— who has attended my preaching, ever since I arrived in this town, attended me home, and after some very highdrawn compliments, said,
Dr. N. I cannot, Sir, conceive you are right, in your notions of universal redemption.
Murray. I have no notions, that I know of, Sir, which are not drawn from the Bible.
Dr. N. I cannot see, Sir, that the Bible teaches this doctrine.
M. I am happy in being able to give you an answer; not only a direct, but an infallible answer; my answer shall be from scripture ; mind, Sir, from scripture : I do not pretend to produce any thing infallible from any other source. Paul's epistle to the Romans furnishes an answer to your question. “God hath concluded all men in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all."
Dr. N. Aye, the scriptures say so, but how can it be, that a man dying in a state of unbelief can ever be saved, when Jesus Christ himself says, “if ye die in your sins, where I am ye cannot come?”
M. All the words of our Saviour are most true, Sir; he uttered nothing else but the most precious truths; nothing which defileth can enter where he is, and as there is no man who liveth, and sinneth pot, he said unto his immediate disciples, “I say unto you, as I said unto the Jews, where I go ye cannot come.”
Dr. N. But he who believeth not, shall be damned.
M. Then, Sir, the disciples must be damned eternally, for their Master upbraids them with their unbelief; and we must all be damned eternally, for we were all once unbelievers.
Dr. N. But I assert, Sir, that no one will ever be saved hereafter, who does not believe in this world; for “ now is the accepted time now is the day of salvation ;” this is our state of probation.
M. Yes, Sir; now, and to eternity, will be the day of salvation. But what do you mean by the day of probation ?
Dr. N. Why, Sir, if they do not improve the present time, they never will have another offer.
M. Another offer of what, Sir ?
M. Does God offer grace to dead men? Is it not said, “ye are dead, but your life is hid with Christ, in God ?"
Dr. N. Aye, thas is spoken to believers only.
M. But our Apostle says, “the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, if one died for all, then were all dead."
Dr. N. Well, Sir, notwithstanding this, there are none who will be saved eternally, who do not know God in this life, and believe in Jesus Christ.
M. Are you sure of this, Sir?
M. Well, Sir, it is with a degree of painful pleasure, I presume to assure you, that both scripture and reason are against you. The scriptures declare, that our Saviour while his body continued in the sepulchre, was in spirit preaching to those imprisoned spirits who were sometime disobedient in the days of Noah.
Dr. N. Aye, but the scriptures do not say they believed.
M. All who are taught by God's spirit you will readily grant are believers.
Dr. N. I do not think the text you have mentioned hath any thing to do with the matter.
M. Well, then, Sir, quitting revelation, we will turn to reason. There are many infants, who pass out of this world without the knowledge of God. Do they never obtain the knowledge of God?
Dr. N. Why—I do not pretend to say, but God may, in such cases, where there are no actual transgressions In such instances, I say,
I believe the death of Jesus Christ may answer. M. Then you suppose the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord is not. sufficient to cleanse from all sin ?
Dr. N. Yes, where it is applied.
M. Well, but it is in Christ we are saved, and his blood will, in fact, be applied to every individual, to the whole world; for he is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.
Dr. N. No, no, no, no, he died only for those who believe ; not for the sins of the world.
M. But all who know God, believe.
M. Doth not our Lord say, they shall all know him from the least to the greatest?
Dr. N. Aye, what all, that is the question?
M. The answer is ready; The whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
Dr. N. Pray, Sir, do you acknowledge the brazen serpent to be a type of Christ?
M. Certainly, I do.
Dr. N; Well, Sir, you see all who did not look upon the brazen serpent, died of their wounds.
M. They did, Sir, and all who do not believe in Jesus Christ, will die of their wounds, as they did, that is, pardoned by the grace of God.
Dr. N. They did not die, pardoned, Sir.
M. Take care what you say, my good Sir. God, himself, says to Moses of this very people, Behold I have pardoned them; and he adds, As truly as I live, the whole earth shall be filled with my glory. But this, Sir, this very passage, if you are able to give due attention to it, will serve to show you, what it appears, the world in general, àre unacquainted with ; that is, the difference between what Christ has done for us, and what the belief of this, effects upon our minds. Let us consider, did looking to the serpent bring the children op Israel out of Egypt? No. Did looking to the serpent, bring them through the Red Sea ? It did not-Did it destroy the host by which they were pursued ? By no means; nor feed them with flesh? no; nor with manna ? no. Did it give them water from the finty rock? Assuredly no. What then did the people's looking to the serpent do for them? It healed their wounds, and that is all that our looking or believing can ever do. We have not fulfilled the Law by believing; the Redeemer hath done this. Our believing did not bruise the serpent's head; the seed of the woman hath done this. Our believing did not put away sin ; Jesus Christ hath put away sin, by the sacrifice of himself. Nor doth our believing redeem us to God; Christ Jesus hath redeemed us io God, by his blood ; nor doth my believing, save me from that death which is the wages of sin. It is because Jesus tasted death for every man; because he was made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that I do not suffer this death, which is the wages of sin. What then did, or does our believing do? It heals the wounded conscience, and it saves me from the evil that is in the world; and therefore, it is
written, “ He is the Saviour of all men, ésfiecially of those who believe."
Dr. N. O, Sir! I warn you not to speak peace to mankind, where there is no peace.
M. Thank you, Sir; be assured I will not, I will preach peace to them only through the blood of the cross.
Dr. N. But do not tell them they shall receive any advantage therefrom, hereafter; if it be not by a saving change applied to them here. Tell them that if they will not come unto him, that they may have life here, they shall be eternally damned.
M. Then, Sir, I should tell them a most notorious falsehood; because the Holy Ghost says, they shall be willing in the day of my power.
Dr. N. This, Sir, is the day of God's power.
M. No doubt; every day is the day of God's power, Sir. But that this is not the day adverted to by the Holy Spirit, is abundantly manifest from the people's not being made willing. For, saith the spirit of truth, they shall be willing in the day of my power.
Dr. N. I am really concerned for mankind.
M. What do you think that believing Jesus Christ is the Saviour of all men, will sink any individual to hell?
Dr. N. I do indeed, Sir.
M. Then from pure compassion to mankind, you would prevent my preaching the doctrine, were it in your power.
Dr. N. Certainly I would.
M. And you really commiserate the sinful sons of men, and would bring them home to God if you could ?
Dr. N. I would indeed, Mr. Murray.
M. Good man! What a pity you have not the power of God, or that God hath not so much compassion and love, for the work of his hands as dwelleth in the commiserating bosom of Dr. N-!
This made the proud man feel; and he paused for some time, and at length said:
Dr. N. Well, Sir, I am satisfied that Jesus Christ is my Saviour, and this is sufficient for me.
M. Yes, Sir ; I too believe that he is your Saviour. But, tell me how do you know that Jesus Christ is your Saviour ?
Dr. N. Why, Sir, by the witnessing spirit.
M. But, Sir, if that spirit tells you, that Christ is your Saviour, exclusively your Saviour, that he is not the Saviour of all men, trust it not; it is not the spirit that taketh of the things of Jesus, and manifesteth them to the sinner. It is a lying spirit, and again I say, believe it not. Surely we ought to inquire by what rule we are to determine we are saved, and other sinners lost, while the scriptures declare, “He, Jesus Christ, gave himself a ransom for all.” Thus we parted. And having a safe conveyance I will make up send forward my journal to this day, for your inspection.
I am as heretofore, &c. &c.
BY ANOTHER HAND.
Answer to queries proposed in the preceding letter.
Did I possess those abilities with which your complaisance, not to say flattery, would endow me, I should nevertheless evince the prevalence of vanity, were I even to attempt an explanation of all the questions you have proposed.
There are many particulars, into which it becomes us at least to suspend our inquiries. An ineffectual attempt to penetrate the grand arcanum, not only betrays ignorance, but involves the understanding in a labyrinth of doubt and perplexity.
Could we fathom the eternal mind, Omnipotence would cease to be an object of adoration, since I might in some sense, claim an equality with the being whom I could fully comprehend. Many writers have sought to trace the origin of evil, to illustrate the economy of the Most High; but all such pretenders have done no more than illustrate the pride of their own hearts, justifying the poet who affirms, that
* In pride, in reasoning pride, our error lies."