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I cannot forbear admiring the ways of providence. I had it in my mind to turn aside from this place, but I rejoice that I did not. I discover the joy of the heart, in the countenance of the people. I knew you would come, says my host, and I had an amazing number of people not only from this town, but twenty miles around us, intreating me to send them word when you came; the desire of numbers to listen to the true gospel is very great. You never came to a place where you were more wanted.
Thus these good people go on. I must hasten, said the master of the house, and forward the intelligence as fast as possible. God bless you for coming, and bless your coming. Amen, say I.
I have been exceedingly favoured; my health is good, the weather is fine, the roads not bad, and my spirits greatly raised by the prospect of being made use of by our divine Master.
Fatigued by a long discourse delivered last evening, I retired to my chamber believing and hoping the company would disperse. But I was disappointed; clergymen were present, and the people expected opposition. The clergymen had said, they did not wish to oppose what they had heard me deliver, but they fancied I should be much confounded, by many scriptures they could produce.
The master of the house came to me— Sir, there have been this night to hear you, clergymen of indisputable abilities; it was expected they would oppose you, but they say they are greatly disappointed. Yet, they are not willing to depart without conversing with you; they do not wish to dispute, but merely to hear your sentiments on some passages of scripture; I am afraid you are fatigued, but numbers are waiting in earnest expectation to hear you converse with these reverend gentlemen; I beseech you consent, if possible." Let them enter, Sir—The room speedily filled ; the reverend gentlemen took seats next me, and the people stood in waiting. One of the ministers thus began :
Minister. I should be very much obliged to you, Sir, if you are not too much exhausted, if you would give me your opinion of the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew.
Murray. Certainly, Sir; I have no secret interpretation of scripture, I will give you the scripture account of it, with a great deal of pleasure.
I then proceeded to explain every part of this redoubtable ehapter by scripture. If they were attentive to my sermon, they were much more so, now ; and my conclusion was succeeded by a long pause-every one expecting, either the one or the other of Vol. ).
these reverend gentlemen would take up the matter. The elder gentleman opened not his mouth, but a young minister, without a a single remark, begged any opinion of the rich man and the beggar.
M. I beg your pardon, Sir, not until I can learn whether I am spending myself to any purpose. I should be glad if you have any objections to raise to what I have advanced, you would give me the privilege of attending to thein now, that we may finish one subject first.
Min. Why, Sir, a person may not be able to object, and yet not believe.
M. I should imagine, Sir, that every one could give a reason for his hope, if he were disposed; and if you either think or hope I am not right, you can certainly render some reason.
Min. Why, Sir, I cannot say any thing you have said is false, but I should be glad to ponder these sayings in my heart, and if you will indulge me with an answer to the question I proposed, I shall be obliged to you.
M. With pleasure.--I then gave as clear an explanation of the parable, as my abilities would permit. Never did I discover more astonishment than was exhibited in every countenance, especially in that of the eldest clergyman. After I had concluded, another considerable pause succeeded.Well Sir, what do you think?
Min. I hardly know what to think, I shall think of these things again, and again ; yet I cannot say I believe all mankind will be saved.
M. Why, Sir, what reason have you for thinking they will not?
Min. Sir, I may not be able to hold an argument with you, indeed I am convinced I am not; and you yourself affirmed in your sermon this evening, that no man could receive the things of God, but by the spirit of God.
M. Well, Sir, this is granted ; but as faith comes by hearing, let us see what can be said against, and for the salvation of all men.
I then introduced all that I could recollect, which is urged against Universal Redemption, and replied to every objection by scripture arguments based on reason ; the young gentleman uttered not a single syllable, and the eldest at last said-
It is assuredly true. The scriptures expressly say, “ The Son of man came into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved."
This was tantamount to giving up the point! The whole company stood fixt in astonishment at the force of the arguments adduced, and the consistency of divine truth. Their expres
. sively agitated and inquiring countenances, were turned upon
their preachers, and every feature seemed to say, “What, no reply?" The old gentleman at length arose, and taking me by the hand press. ed it very warmly, and with apparent sincerity, in a solemn and affectionate tone of voice, commending me to the special care of heaven, took leave. The young gentleman continued through the night, and was early this morning with me again, but in a very different spirit from that by which he was actuated the evening before. It appears to me he is not only almost, but altogether a Christian and upon the gospel plan. It seems the old gentleman never before missed an opportunity of disputing. I was complimented upon the magnitude of my abilities ; genius, talents, and what not were attributed to me, to which I replied:
Pardon me, gentlemen, nothing of all this belongs to me; did you reflect,you would be convinced of the smallness of my claims to mer. it. Do but consider, this gentleman has an immensity of gems, and wrought jewels locked up in his escritoir. He has the goodness to lend me his key, I unlock and display them, and you exclaim « What talents, what inconceivable ingenuity, what a prodigious man." Why, my friends, I have only turned the key, and drawn forth the treasures which this gentleman hath laid up here. The diamond, the pearl, the collecting those precious materials, the polish no part belongs to me, I have but turned the key; examine then the magnitude of my claims, and decide agreeably to justice.
The Almighty is the great artist, he hath designed and accomplished. In his treasury are laid up things new and old, treasures accumulating from the foundation, nay, from before the foundation of the world, treasures of incalculable value, more precious than gold, than silver, or than precious stones, since their worth is intrinsic, possessing real virtues of sovereign aid to peace. God hath graciously been pleased to loan unto his unworthy servant the key of David, for the purpose of unlocking his treasury. It is this, my friends, and only this. Not unto me, therefore, not unto me, but uinto God alone be the praise.
I parted with these people blessing, and being blessed.
I have chosen, for the subject of my public labours this afternoon, the first verse of the fourth chapter of Paul's first Epistle to Timothy:
“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.