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A Series of Letters In Defence of Divine Revelation by Hosea Ballou

Part 5 out of 6

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keeper?" How different must have been the spirit which dictated that
question from the spirit of him who saith, I will declare thy name
unto my brethren, my mother's children were angry with me, they made
me the keeper of the vineyards, but mine own vineyard have I not kept?

Your next observation is highly worthy, not only of general
consideration, but of particular notice; and I am the more pleased
with it on account of its falling from your pen as I am sure you must
understand the truths which are necessarily connected with the one
expressed in the observation; your words are, "there is a reciprocal
responsibility among mankind both for the interest of time and
eternity." As it cannot reasonably require any argument to discover
the propriety of supposing that the eternal interest of mankind is
connected with eternal causes and predicated on eternal principles, so
when it is acknowledged that a reciprocal responsibility exists among
mankind for their eternal interest, it is evident that this reciprocal
responsibility is eternal. Should any conviction of mind render it
necessary that we give up the idea of the eternal nature of this
reciprocal responsibility, that conviction would drive the idea of
eternal interest, predicated on such responsibility from our mind. How
noble are your sentiments communicated in this observation! How rich
must you and I feel in the enjoyment of such reciprocal principles and
in the consequent interest arising from them; not only for time, but
for eternity!

You very justly observe again--"Were I to see you or any others
exposing themselves to danger or running into situations which I
apprehended would be destructive, friendship would require me to warn
and admonish, and to endeavour to restrain." These expressions, sir,
illustrate the good fruits of real friendship, and as our Saviour has
told us that the tree is known by its fruits, so we are to distinguish
between real and pretended friends by their fruits. Suppose, sir, we
move the position a little, and say, notwithstanding you warn me and
endeavour to restrain me from danger, I persist in my error, and my
calamity comes upon me; in this situation you come and tell me that
you are heartily glad that I am tormented, and that you are glad to
think there is no probability of my misery's being any less; that you
feel no pity for me now; could I look back and remember your warning,
and believe that you warned me out of real friendship? We have just
seen that friendship predicated on the law of our common nature and on
the principles and spirit of the Christian religion must necessarily
be as durable as those eternal principles. It is no less the
characteristic of real friendship to endeavour to meliorate than to
preserve from sufferings.

On observing your admonitions, and believing you sincere in them, I am
led to say, that had I such a friend as you are who possessed the
means for making me eternally happy, I might entertain no doubt of
obtaining the inestimable enjoyment; nor do I view you, sir, less a
friend because you do not possess a power which is equal to the
putting of all your friendly desires into full execution, but will
acknowledge you my worthy friend, and accept the warnings which you
give me against the system of doctrine which, as you say, I have
embraced and come among this people to advocate, as a token of that
friendship which would, if connected with suitable power, place me out
of all final danger, or which would cause you to rejoice exceedingly,
had you the evidence to believe that one who has such power possesses
even stronger desires for my eternal welfare than you do.

You inform me that you do not know what system of Universalism I have
embraced. Permit me, sir, to inform you, though you do not request it,
that I have embraced the system of Universalism, which Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob embraced, in believing God, who said, "In thee shall all the
families of the earth be blessed; and in thy seed shall all the
nations of the earth be blessed." If this faith of Abraham were
imputed to him for righteousness, it must be a true faith, and if
true, worthy to be embraced by all nations and families of the earth,
without the exception of an individual. Permit me further to observe
that I disclaim all authors as divine guides, except the divine author
of those scriptures which cannot be broken.

You rightly apprehend me in supposing that I believe and teach that
all mankind will be saved, restored and associated with Christ Jesus
in realms of glory; but I do not believe as you intimate, that human
ingenuity, or plausible and sophistic reasoning are necessary to the
support of this doctrine among men; nor will I attempt to say how
sorry I am that you should declare the doctrine not true until you had
produced a "_thus saith the Lord_" to prove it false; or that you
should intimate that I am employing human ingenuity or plausible and
sophistic reasoning to support the universal benevolence of God until
the disagreeable circumstance should transpire, in which I might be
justly thus charged.

Although in order to please myself, I might explain your meaning as
directed against some others of the advocates of the heavenly gospel
of universal salvation; I could find but little satisfaction in thus
endeavoring to avoid any reproach which is directed against the true
disciples of my divine Master.

You inform me that as universal salvation is not true, "it can have no
effect in quickening into life or of sanctifying the soul, for it is
the spirit that quickeneth, and the truth, which sanctifies." If, dear
sir, you do not believe that the spirit of salvation quickeneth into
life, would it not have been proper to inform me what spirit does? And
I should have highly esteemed an illustration of the evidence which
you have, that the truth, _that mankind will remain eternally
unsanctified_, will sanctify the soul! I fully believe that as far as
any proposition is capable of being proved from the written word, or
of being demonstrated by logical reasoning from acknowledged facts,
the doctrine of the salvation of all men is capable of being proved
and substantially maintained. Does it require human ingenuity or
plausible and sophistic reasoning to make it appear from the
scriptures that Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for
every man; that he gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in
due time; that he is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world;
that it is the will of God that all men should be saved and come to
the knowledge of the truth; that he worketh all things after the
council of his own will?--Does it require this ingenuity, &c. to
substantiate from the written word that the promise to Abraham will be
fulfilled, and that all nations whom God hath made shall come and
worship before him and glorify his name; that Jesus will in the
fulness of time, reconcile all things unto himself, whether they be
things in heaven or things on earth, or things under the earth; that
he will gather together in one all things in Christ both which are in
heaven and which are on earth, even in him? If it be an acknowledged
fact that God will bless all the families of the earth in Christ, that
all nations which God hath made shall come and worship before him and
glorify his name, that Jesus gave himseif a ransom for all men to be
testified in due time, that he did by the grace of God taste death for
every man, that he will have all men to be saved and come to the
knowledge of the truth, that he hath made known the mystery of his
will according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself,
that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he would gather
together in one, all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and
which are on earth, and that he worketh all things after the council
of his own will, then the doctrine of the salvation of all men is as
fully acknowledged as language can possibly express, or my error lies
in not understanding the force of words and sentences.

By what method, sir, would it be proper for me to express my surprise
at your introducing the words recorded in the 13th chapter of Ezekiel,
and at the 22d verse, as a testimony against the doctrine of universal
salvation? "Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous
sad, whom I have not made sad, and strengthened the hands of the
wicked that he should not turn from his wicked way by promising him
life;"--Must I suppose, sir, that you believe, that the lies mentioned
in this quotation were promises of life in the seed of Abraham, in
whom all the families of the earth are to be blessed? I cannot believe
this of a man of your understanding, and yet cannot conceive why you
adduce this passage as proof that Christ is not the life of all men.
Is it not evident that those who were addressed in that text were such
as promised the people life in the vain traditions which they had
established, by which they made void the law? And what does the Lord
say that he would finally do in this case?--See verse 23d, "Therefore
ye shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations; for I will
deliver my people out of your hands, and ye shall know that I am the
Lord." This is very far from saying that they should be endlessly
miserable. Christ is the Lord our righteousness, and his heart was
made sad by the traditions of the house of Israel and by the Rabbis
who promised the people life in their vain customs which they had
established for religion: and I would acknowledge this passage justly
urged against the doctrine which I should vindicate, should I set up
any thing but Christ and him crucified, on which to depend for life
and salvation; but you leave this quotation as if you had done what
you hardly meant to do, by observing that you do not intend to enter
into a dispute on this subject, neither to enlarge on arguments to
support your own sentiments nor to disprove mine.

You think that no good would result from the argument however
temperately conducted it might be, assigning the pride of peculiarity,
and the influence of party views as sufficient barriers to prevent
success. In this observation may I say without offending, sir, you are
inexplicit, or wanting in propriety, and premature in application.
Temperate men are not governed in their religious researches by the
pride of peculiarity nor the influence of party views, and a faithful
trial ought to have been made in order to convince of error before the
charge of _pride of peculiarity_, or the influence of party views,
could with propriety have been made. I am disposed to believe when
persons are candid and temperate in an investigation, they generally
obtain light and edification. I will say for myself, notwithstanding I
highly prize your solemn warnings, and believe them as proceeding from
the most commendable sentiments of friendship, I should have been much
pleased if you had accompanied them with the best and most forcible
arguments of which you are master, against the doctrine which you are
disposed to say in so many words "_it not true_." The small still
voice to which you recommended my attention has never told me that
Christ was not the Saviour of all men.

May we not suppose that this voice is uniform in its testimony? Do
tell me, sir, if that voice ever told you that it was not the will of
God that all men should be saved! Is it not by the influence of the
spirit of this voice that you pray for the salvation of all men? And
would this small still voice tell you that it is not God's will to
save all men, and then induce you to pray for all men? If I be not a
stranger to this heavenly voice which teaches me to wrap myself in my
mantle, the Lord my righteousness, it influences me to pray in faith,
nothing doubting, for the salvation of all men.

In your truly affecting entreaty you direct my mind to the day of
judgment when I am called to give an account of my stewardship, and
ask what my situation must be, if the system I advocate should in
final evidence, prove false? I have seriously thought on this
question; and this is my conclusion: My judge will know that I am, in
this instance, honest and sincere; he will know how hardly I wrestled
against his written word in order to avoid believing that he would
save all men, and he will know that my deception was in understanding
his word as a simple, honest man would understand a plain testimony
void of scholastic dress. In this case I am willing to throw myself on
the mercy of the judge. On the other hand, dear sir, I have made a
calculation too. Suppose I adhere to your testimony, that the doctrine
I believe is not true, and abandon it as a heresy, preach it down to
the utmost of my ability, and the doctrine at last, when you and I
stand before that judge who knows the hearts of all men, should in
final evidence of the law and prophets, prove true, of which I have
not the least shadow of doubt in my mind, with what a blush must I
give up my account! My judge who has suffered every thing for me, asks
me, why did you deny me, forsake my cause, and use the abilities which
I gave you to preach that dishonourable doctrine that I did not redeem
all men, or that I would not finally reconcile all men to myself, and
cause them all to love me heartily in bliss and glory? I, abashed
beyond description, must answer, a man, who, I conceived was my friend
and who preached that God my Saviour, never intended to save all men,
told me the doctrine I preached was _not true_! O, how would my soul
thrill with grief when a look, such as was cast on Peter after he
denied his Lord, should accompany this question, and who told you in
the first place it was true?

I appeal to the searcher of hearts for the sincerity of my soul when I
say, my dear sir, I feel an uncommon desire to cultivate friendship
with you, and were it possible for me to gratify you in any thing that
should be consistent with my duty to my God, I think I should not
shrink from the service; but should the multitude, whose hearts have
been made joyful in the salvation of all men, become so blinded as to
renounce the sentiments, I must remain unshaken, until more than human
testimony stands against the doctrine.

I am very sensible of the propriety of the observation, that the
sincerity of a belief does not prove the thing believed to be true;
for though I cannot say so much as you do, viz. "that I know how far
men may be deluded and deceived," yet I am sensible that men may be
deceived and yet be honest; and it is on this ground, that I have
charity for those who believe and preach different from me.

Towards the conclusion of your epistle, you intimate that you wish not
to have me say at last, when my doctrine issues in my mourning, that
you had not warned me. Be assured, sir, if I may be so much at my own
disposal at the last day, that I will not say, you did not warn me;
but if my doctrine be false at last, and you are asked why you did not
prove from the written word to my understanding that I was in an
error, will you say in answer, that it would have been such a tax upon
time, that you could not afford it, that you could not or did not wish
to? As the passages which you quote on your last page are designed to
illustrate what I believe to be a fact, I forbear, at this time, an
illustration of them, in which, the impropriety of the common mode of
understanding them might be made to appear. Should you be disposed to
attempt to correct my ideas in this epistle, or my doctrine in
general, by turning to the great touchstone, the law and the
testimony, be as ample, sir, as your inclination and opportunity will
admit. Every argument shall be duly attended to with prayerful
solicitude to obtain conviction, if it can be found; and whatever
light I gain I will gratefully acknowledge, and wherein I do not agree
with you, I will give you my reasons.

Your most obliged friend and humble servant,

HOSEA BALLOU.

Rev. J. BUCKMINSTER.

P.S. If I have been so unfortunate, in the foregoing epistle make
choice of any words which indicate too much freedom, please to impute
it to a frankness which perhaps I sometimes indulge to a fault, and
not to any want of due respect. H.B.

* * * * *

LETTER III
FROM THE REV. JOSEPH BUCKMINSTER TO THE REV. HOSEA BALLOU.

PORTSMOUTH, JAN. 10, 1810.

_Dear Sir_,--It was not my intention, in the letter which I sometime
since addressed to you, to enter into a discussion of the subject of
Universalism, much less, for reasons that were suggested, provoke a
dispute upon it. I therefore endeavoured so to express myself that no
reply should be necessary.

My object was to discharge what I thought a duty of friendship and
affection, rendered more necessary by my personal declarations to you
at my house, by stating to you with frankness and decision what I was
persuaded would be the final result of that sentiment which you have
embraced, and are advocating among us; and to fulfil a duty which I
owe to myself, and to Him who has set me here to be a watchman, that I
might use every proper precaution to appear before my Judge at last
with unstained garments, preclude an occasion for a crimination and
reproach, and give up my account with joy and not with grief.

I might have a secret hope that the apprehensions so seriously and
candidly suggested might excite you to review your sentiments, and
renewedly compare them with the only standard, and that this serious,
calm and retired exercise might be accompanied with an influence from
above, that might alter your views and conclusions upon the subject;
but my principal design was to discharge what I thought my duty as
above stated. You have thought it your duty to remark upon the
address, and intimate an expectation that I should rejoin; your
professions and candor have induced me for a time, to hesitate whether
I ought not, in this instance, to depart from my general resolutions,
and this hesitation has had influence in my delay to notice your
letter. But the result of my hesitations, reflections and prayer, is a
more full persuasion, that if the writings of Dr. Edwards, Dr. Strong
and others who have discussed the subject, and which doubtless you
have seen, have produced no hesitation or conviction in your mind, it
would be vain and idle to expect it from any efforts of mine; and that
it would be a misuse of time, which might be employed in more hopeful
prospects of usefulness. This is a reason which I at present feel
satisfied to give to God and my conscience for declining to enter upon
a discussion of this subject, and I trust it will be accepted at the
tribunal of God. To that tribunal I humbly and cheerfully refer the
decision of the question that would be matter of dispute between us,
from which decision there will be no appeal, and to which there will
be no liberty to reply. I reciprocate the tender of every office of
friendship consistent with what I think my duty to God and my
conscience, and shall not cease to pray that those who have erred from
the truth may be recovered from their errors, and being sanctified by
the truth, may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your friend and
well wisher.

J. BUCKMINSTER.

* * * * *

LETTER IV.

FROM THE REV. HOSEA BALLOU TO THE REV. JOSEPH BUCKMINSTER.

PORTSMOUTH, JAN. 11, 1810.

_Rev. Sir_,--Your favour of yesterday is acknowledged with that
respectful submission which your age and experience, together with the
spirit and import of your note justly impose, and with gratitude also,
for an obligation which I wished to be under in being satisfied of
your having received my epistle of the 1st inst. This I learn by the
friendly rebuke in your first section in which you speak of my reply
as unnecessary, and also by your condescending to refer to it again in
your fourth section. Had I, sir, viewed your address altogether in the
light which you inform me you did, or had you informed me that a reply
would not be expected, I should by no means have troubled you contrary
to your wishes. However, as you are an experienced judge of all such
matters, so you will condescend to pardon me if in your judgment my
epistle is destitute of important subjects. You are so kind as to
repeat the design of your address again, certifying me that your
object was to discharge the office of friendship, by stating to me
with frankness and decision what you are persuaded will be the final
result of that sentiment which I have embraced and am advocating. No
man, sir, will ever be more ready to acknowledge a friendly office
with sentiments of gratitude than your humble servant; but I am sure
it cannot be expected by you, that I should receive the testimony of a
man, however friendly to me, as a decision against that gospel which I
did not receive of man, nor by man, but by the revelation of Jesus
Christ.

Your precautions in warning me as they regard your final justification
before God, I hope will be superceded by the acceptable atonement of
the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world; though that
shall not render your faithfulness void of approbation in a
subordinate sense. The secret hope which you entertained of exciting
me, by your serious apprehensions to review my sentiments and
renewedly to compare them with the only standard, would perhaps appear
not altogether so necessary, did you know that my daily business is to
study the law and the testimony, which increase their light as they
are more examined, and furnish every hour I study them, new proofs of
the unbounded goodness of God to the sinful race of Adam. O my dear
friend! Could you but know the inexpressible consolation and peace
which I enjoy in believing that he, who gave himself a ransom for all
men, will finally see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied,
you could not feel concerned about the final issue of the doctrine
which I believe and advocate!

I feel that my blessed Lord and kind Redeemer deserves every exertion
of mine to persuade men to the knowledge of that truth which would
make them free; nor can I easily forbear to express my desire that
your greater experience and better abilities might be employed in
shewing to poor benighted sinners the divine amplitude of gospel grace
for the salvation of all mankind. I believe, dear sir, if it should
please God to discover this soul rejoicing truth to you, that the
angels would rejoice in heaven, and saints on earth would be made
exceeding glad: yes, your church and parish would follow you with
rapturous joy to the fountain which is open for Judah and Jerusalem to
wash in from sin and uncleanness, and to which the fulness of the
Gentiles shall be gathered.

I am not at all disposed to complain of your decision not to enter
into an investigation of the doctrine against the truth of which you
have opposed your testimony; though I should hardly have believed that
in your judgment, such a testimony could have been thought proper
unless preceded or succeeded by some colour of evidence. No man, my
dear sir, is less calculated to enjoy a dry, unfruitful controversy on
religious sentiments than I am--though I wish to hold myself in
perpetual readiness to give an answer to every man who may ask me a
reason for the hope that is within me with meekness and fear.

The arguments of Dr. Edwards and Dr. Strong being disposed to
represent the divine economy of grace less extensive than the plain
and positive promises of God, the testimony of the prophets, the word
of life through Christ and the witnessing apostles, have declared it
to be, stand forever refuted by that cloud of witnesses, as they are
also by the spirit of Christ in every humble believing heart. It is
far more easy for the rational lover of Christ to believe those
learned doctors, deceived by the vain traditions of the schools, than
to believe that the grace of God in Christ Jesus is less extensive
than his word and spirit declare it to be.

If there never were a true Christian whose desires did not extend to
the whole human race, that all might be brought to a saving repentance
and to holy and happy life in Christ, then Jesus has never left
himself without a witness in his disciples, that all the creeds of men
which limit the divine favour are false. With whatsoever panics worms
of the dust may have struck their fellow worms by challenging them to
a decision of their weak, insignificant notions at a tribunal of an
omnipotent judge, such solemn appeals can have but little effect on
the humble mind who leans not to his own wisdom, and who views every
thing already decided in the eternal system of that God whose tender
mercies are over all the works of his hands.

The mode in which you express the circumstance of final judgment is
rather indicative of what I hope you do not mean, as it intimates that
too much freedom has been assumed by me in presuming to reply to your
address. There is much to excite my gratitude in the assurance you
give me of reciprocating offices of friendship, consistent with duty
to God;--and while you, sir, give me to understand that I have an
interest in your prayers, permit me to beg your supplications, that I
may be faithful unto death; and to assure you of my humble desire that
you may continue to be useful to your fellow pilgrims while you live,
and find acceptance with God through Christ at last. Your most obliged
friend and humble servant in Christ. HOSEA BALLOU.

* * * * *

A NOTE FROM THE REV. DR. BUCKMINSTER TO THE REV. MR. BALLOU.

FRIDAY, P. M.

It is a duty which Mr. Buckminster owes to himself to declare that the
thought of intimating that it was any assumption or presumption in Mr.
Ballou to reply to his address, never once entered his mind; and he is
sorry if any thing in Mr. Buckminster's communications could give
ground to suspect such foolish vanity; but it confirms the correctness
of the opinion, that _disputes however temperately conducted are
rarely productive of any good_. All that he meant was that the
decision at the tribunal of God would be final.

* * * * *

A NOTE FROM THE REV. MR. BALLOU TO THE REV. DR. BUCKMINSTER,
IN REPLY.

SATURDAY, P. M.

Mr. Ballou is happy to acknowledge the honour done him by the Doctor's
note of Friday, P. M. by which he realizes the hope expressed in his
epistle of the 11th inst, that what appeared to be intimated by the
Doctor's letter of the 10th inst. in relation to final judgment was
not meant. In the mean time Mr. Ballou thinks it a duty which he owes
to himself to point out to the Doctor the items in his letter which
were misunderstood. The Doctor's expression, "I therefore endeavoured
so to express myself that no reply should be necessary," was
understood to intimate that the reply was unnecessary; and the
Doctor's expression, "there will be no liberty to reply," was
understood to intimate that liberty had been assumed unnecessarily. In
confirming the opinion, that "_disputes however temperately conducted,
are rarely productive of any good_." Mr. Ballou thinks his mistake has
produced but little consequence, as that opinion was so confirmed
before, that even a reason for an assertion could not with propriety
be given.

LETTER I.

FROM THE REV. JOSEPH WALTON TO THE REV. HOSEA BALLOU.

PORTSMOUTH, Nov. 19, 1810.

_Dear Friend_,--I take this method to write to you, with a desire you
would receive it as a friendly admonition. You recollect, no doubt,
that I have heard you make two speeches at funerals, as they are
commonly called, one at the grave and the other at the house of sorrow
and mourning, upon a very solemn and singular occasion. At the grave
you were short, and said, if I mistake not, viewing the grave, "this
is the house appointed for all living," two or three times, and then
said, "what reflection shall we make from it? is it done by an enemy?
has the Almighty suffered the government to be taken out of his
hands?"--and spake as if death was originally designed by the Almighty
for the good of mankind, and made it a very desirable thing. My dear
sir, doth not the bible, which is the word of God, or the scriptures
of truth say, "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and
death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have
sinned," Rom. v. 12, and Rom. vi. 23, "For the wages of sin is death."
God who is a gracious and holy sovereign "made man upright, but he
sought out many inventions." By listening unto that apostate spirit,
Satan, he transgressed and disobeyed his maker and sovereign, by
eating the forbidden fruit. "God made man in his own image, in the
image of God created he him, male and female created he them. And the
Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden, to dress it
and to keep it; and the Lord God commanded the man, saying, of every
tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of
knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat of it, for in the day
thou eatest thereof, thou shall surely die." Gen. ii. 15, 17. Sin is
that enemy that introduced or was the cause of death, as we may
further see by considering that portion of scripture, I John. iii. 8,
"He that committeth sin is of the devil, for the devil sinneth from
the beginning." For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that
he might destroy the works of the devil. Sin is the work of the devil;
"the soul that sins shall die." If you will read the whole chapter and
seriously consider it, and pray to God through Jesus Christ to open
your understanding, that you may understand the scriptures, you would
not misappply and pervert them as I fear you do. In your speaking at
the house of mourning, you began and spake very eloquently at first
upon death; then you brought forward the same ideas, with respect to
death, as you did before at the grave. I do not remember that you, at
either place, spake one word of the necessity or nature of repentance.
Christ began his personal and public ministry by preaching repentance,
saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand"--again, "but
except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish," Luke xiii. 5. And
after his resurrection from the dead he appeared to his disciples and
confirmed them in the certainty of it, and chose them witnesses of the
truth of it, and said "thus it is written, and thus it behoveth Christ
to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day. And that repentance
and remission of sins should be preached in my name among all nations,
beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things," Luke
xxiv. 46, 47, 48. The apostles, after Christ's ascension, practised as
he commanded them, as we may see by reading the Acts of the apostles,
Peter in particular, in the 2d and 3d chapters; and we do not find
that they ever gave any encouragement that their hearers could or
should be forgiven their sins without faith and repentance. Peter
says, "Repent, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out;"
which presupposes that if they did not repent and be turned to God by
converting grace their sins would not be forgiven. Thus the apostle
Paul preached, see Acts xxvi. 18, 19, 20, which I entreat you to read
and seriously to consider. See likewise 20th chap. of the Acts of the
apostles, how he appealed to the elders of the church; in the 17th
verse it is written, "And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called
the elders of the church; and when they were come to him he said unto
them, ye know from the first day I came into Asia after what manner I
have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility
of mind, and with many tears and temptations which befell me, by the
lying in wait of the Jews; and how I kept back nothing that was
profitable unto you, but have shewed you and have taught you publicly
and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews and also to the
Greeks, repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus
Christ." The apostles spake of the nature of repentance that they
should bring forth fruits meet for repentance, and that Godly sorrow
worked repentance to salvation, not to be repented of; but the sorrow
of the world worketh death. For a minister of the New Testament to
advance such doctrine as will give hopes to their hearers that all
will be happy in a future state, whether they have repented or no, is
not preaching as Christ and his apostles preached. If we know not God,
and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, what will be the
consequence? See 2 Thes. i. 8, 9. Ministers are directed by the
inspired apostle Paul; see in his epistles to Timothy and Titus. See 2
Tim. 4th chap. from 1st to the end, the 5th verse, which I would
entreat and beseech you to read and seriously consider. He, in some of
those verses referred to, says to Timothy, "Reprove, rebuke, exhort,
with all long suffering and doctrine; for the time will come when men
will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they
heap to themselves teachers having itching ears. And they shall turn
away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But
watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an
evangelist, make proof of thy ministry." Paul was just about to leave
the world; the time of his departure was at hand; the above were his
dying words to his beloved son Timothy (in the faith.) The blessed and
beloved apostle had through grace kept the faith, that is, the true
faith of the gospel; he had finished his course, he had fought a good
fight, and henceforth he says, there is laid up for me a crown of
righteousness which God the righteous judge shall give me at that day;
and not only to me, but unto all them also, that love his appearing.
You, my friend, once professed the true faith of the gospel--have you
kept it? I think not. I fear you have fallen from it. You are now
preaching a doctrine which pleases the world, but it makes against
you, according to scripture; the apostle John says, in 1st epistle,
4th chap, 5th and 6th verses, "They are of the world; therefore the
world heareth them. We are of God; he 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 beseech you again, my friend, examine and
seriously consider the first five verses of that chapter, and pray God
through Jesus Christ that he would open it to your understanding:
Solomon says, "My son, lean not to your own understanding." I could
not but observe with what an _emphasis_ you at the grave mentioned
those selected texts of scripture which you supposed would confirm
your hearers in the doctrine of Universal Salvation. Would Christ or
the apostles preach Universal Salvation in one place of scripture, and
in another contradict it? I believe they would not. I am an _old man_,
and have studied the scriptures twenty or thirty years; yea, I may say
more or less from my youth up; I find it the best way of study, to
compare scripture with scripture; to consider the preceding and
following context; to be self-diffident; and to be much in prayer,
that it would please God, by his holy spirit, to lead and guide us
into all necessary truth; and I do not think it amiss to use sound
authors, for as we are in some measure dependant on one another for
temporal, so I think we may, under God, be for spiritual assistance;
though by no means to put our trust in an arm of flesh.

We may observe how earnest David in prayer to God was in the 25th
Psalm. He was a prophet as well the royal Psalmist, yet he comes in a
very humble manner to God in prayer that he would shew him his ways,
and teach him his paths; and in that Psalm, 8th verse, says, "good and
upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The
meek will he guide in judgment; and the meek he will teach his way."
But if men will undertake to explain scripture in their own strength
and wisdom, what must we expect but to have them mangled and made
havoc of, or explained in a mere mystical or literal sense? "The
natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God: for they
are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are
spiritually discerned." See I Cor. ii. 14.

As you did not say any thing about the resurrection of the dead in
either of your speeches, I began to query in my mind whether you
believed it or no. I think, yea, I know, it was preached by Christ,
and explained so as to confute the Sadducees. Our Lord says, "Marvel
not at this, for the hour is coming in the which all that are in their
graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done
good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto
the resurrection of damnation." St. Paul in his defence before the
Roman governor when accused by an orator, whom the Jews employed, as
he was allowed to speak for himself, said, "they cannot prove the
thing, whereof they now accuse me; but this I confess after the way
which they call heresy; so worship I the God of my fathers, believing
all things which are written in the law and the prophets, and have
hope towards God, which they themselves also allow; that there shall
be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust; and herein
do I exercise myself to have always a conscience void of offence
toward God, and toward man." We may observe what an influence the
belief of a future state of rewards and punishments had on the blessed
apostle to excite him to live a godly and self-denying life. In 2 Cor.
v. 10, 11, speaking of a day of judgment, "when every one must give an
account for himself as the deeds have been done in the body, that
every one may receive the things done in his body according to that he
hath done whether it be good or bad;" and says, "knowing the terror of
the Lord, we persuade men." My friend, is there the least room for us
to believe from this scripture and many others, that the wicked who
have died impenitent and in a disbelief of the gospel or without the
true knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, whom God hath sent, have
eternal life, in the fruition and enjoyment of God? Heaven consists in
being made like God, and enjoying him: hence it is, that the pious
thirst for God, the living God, saying, when shall I come and appear
before him? Again, "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none
upon earth I desire besides thee. My flesh and heart fail me, but God
is the strength of my heart and portion forever." These pious
breathings are the exercises of the children of God. O may they be
ours.

JOSEPH WALTON.

PORSTMOUTH, Nov. 19, 1810.

P. S. The within, enclosed, my friend, I can assure you was not
written to you in this manner, as God is my judge, from an envious and
bitter spirit, for I love and esteem your person, as a friend, who
has, from my first acquaintance with you, treated me with great
respect. I see, on the Lord's days, great numbers of precious souls
going and returning from your meeting; and, as far as I know my own
heart, I do not envy you for that; but have often prayed that the
gifts and natural abilities you have might be sanctified and turned
into right improvements, which is the glory of God and the saving
benefit of your hearers. May it please God to make you an able and
faithful minister of the New Testament, not of the letter, but of the
spirit, for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. From your
friend and humble servant, JOSEPH WALTON, _Pastor,

Of the Independent Congregational Church in Portsmouth_.

TO MR. HOSEA BALLOU, PASTOR OF THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH AND
SOCIETY IN PORTSMOUTH.

_Sir_,--You may observe by the date, the letter has been written some
time; but by several avocations I have not had time to correct and
copy it until the present date, December 7, 1810.

J.W.

* * * * *

LETTER II.

FROM THE REV. HOSEA BALLOU TO THE REV. JOSEPH WALTON.

PORTSMOUTH, DEC. 11, 1810.

_Rev. Sir_,--It is with pleasure that I hasten to acknowledge the
receipt of your "friendly admonition," bearing date December 7th,
which came to my hand late last evening, which I assure you is
accepted as a token of friendship, and a mark of particular attention;
and merits, as I conceive, a grateful acknowledgement as well as an
early answer.

Your admonition begins by taking notice of what you conceive an
egregious error which you have heard me suggest at two several
funerals. You say that I "spake as if death was originally designed,
by the Almighty, for the good of mankind." This statement you consider
of such a dangerous nature that it renders an admonition necessary.
But, dear sir, there are two important ideas contained in the above
short sentence, and you have not distinguished between them, nor
informed me whether it be both, or only one which is thus
reprehensible.

That _God originally designed death_, is one idea; that he _designed_
it for the _good of mankind_ is another idea. In order to do you
justice and to attach no other meaning to your communication than such
as I conceive to be consistent with your real sentiments, I must
suppose that you would not wish to fault the first of those ideas, as
it is an item in your creed, that "God foreordained whatsoever comes
to pass;" of course, you believe that God _originally designed death_.
But, that God designed death for the _good of mankind_, I do not know
it to be an article of your faith, and therefore, may, without doing
you any injustice, suppose that you believed that God originally
designed death, but _not_ for _the good of mankind_! Here, sir, I
acknowledge that my sentiment differs from yours; and as you have
given me no reason why God should not have designed death for the
_good_ of mankind, I have only to consider the "friendly admonition,"
with which you oppose my idea. I would query why the idea that God
should design death for the good of mankind renders me justly
admonishable? Would the idea, should I avow it, that God designed
death for the _damage_ of mankind, render me commendable? So, it
seems; but at this expense I cannot avoid admonition! I would further
query what interest God could have consulted which required him to
design death for a _damage_ to those creatures whom he made subject to
death? And I think it expedient to ask how God can be justified, in
the sight of his rational creatures, if the idea be once established
that he designed evil against them, even before they existed?

I feel it to be my duty, dear sir, to call on you to support this high
allegation against the Father of our spirits. I would not pretend that
you designed to bring an allegation against our Creator, but I am
satisfied that every unprejudiced mind must see the nature of an
allegation in what you are disposed to maintain. For if we say God,
our Creator, designed death for the damage of those dependent beings
whom he has made, it is giving him a character which, I believe, the
wisest of men would find it difficult to justify.

Again, if the notion be true, that God designed death for the damage
of mankind, is it not from hence evident that he was an enemy to
mankind when he thus designed? Now, if God be considered an enemy to
mankind even before he made them, I wish to know what reason can be
given why mankind ought to love God since creation?

In relation to a number of scriptures which you have quoted, seemingly
with a design to illustrate the foregoing subject, I can only say,
that if any or all those passages relate at all to the subject, _that
relation_ is out of my sight. And I can truly say, that I am glad that
there is nothing, in any part of the scripture, so contrary to good
sense and reason as to support the notion that God is an enemy to the
works of his own hands. I believe, sir, if I prove from scripture that
God designed death for the good of mankind, it must be considered a
substantial support of what you wish to oppose; and will also be
considered as placing the scripture doctrine on the most reasonable
principle.

1st. I will show that death is not a token of God's enmity towards
mankind. As a proof of this, see Rom. viii. 38, 39, "For I am
persuaded, that neither _death_, nor _life_, nor _angels_, nor
_principalities_, nor _powers_, nor _things present_, nor _things to
come_, nor _height_, nor _depth_, nor _any other creature_ shall be
able to separate us from the _love_ of God which is _in Christ Jesus
our Lord_." This passage is a full and positive proof that neither
_death_ nor any thing else, is a token of God's enmity to mankind.

2d. I will now show that _death_ was designed by God for the _good_ of
men. Which to do, I must learn of Jesus. He is the truth. Was his
_death_ designed, by the eternal Father, for the good of mankind, or
not? Was his death a token of God's love to the world, or was it a
token of his enmity? See Rom. v. 8, "But God _commendeth_ his _love_
towards us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." This
same apostle, believing in Christ, who, he says, was delivered for our
offences, and was raised again for our justification, in a short, but
comprehensive inventory of the things which are ours, has placed
_death_ among them. See 1 Cor. iii. 21, 22, 23, "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." Again, he says, to the Phil. i. 21, "For me to live is Christ,
and to _die_ is _gain_." Nothing appears more evident than that the
death of Christ was designed for the good of mankind; and as he is the
head of every man, so his death is considered, in the scriptures, a
gracious benefit to every man; as the apostle expresses it, "That he,
by the grace of God, should taste _death_ for every man." And again,
"As in Adam all die, even so in Christ, shall all be made alive." Who
can impartially consider those scriptures and suppose that God
designed _death_ for a damage to mankind? I view _death_, sir, as an
appointment of God, a friendly messenger, sent to dissolve a
tabernacle of corruption and vanity, at the dissolution of which, "the
dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit unto God who gave
it."

Your admonition in the next place suggests, that "if" I "will read the
whole chapter (meaning the 3d chapter of the 1st of John) and
seriously consider it, and pray to God, through Jesus Christ, to open"
my "understanding, that" I "may understand the scriptures," I "would
not _misapply_ and _pervert_ them, as" you "fear" I "do."

Rev. Sir, are you sufficiently acquainted with my preaching and
writing on the scriptures to warrant the propriety of the suggestion,
that I am in the habit of _misapplying_ and _perverting_ the holy
writings? Are you sufficiently acquainted with my retired studies and
religious exercises to warrant the suggestion that I get along without
acknowledging the wisdom of God? I humbly request you to reconsider
this part of your admonition, and see if it do not wear the appearance
of _judging another_ who must stand or fall to his own master. In the
mean time I wish to observe, that a friendly advice to be constant in
fervent supplication and prayer would be received by me as a mark of
_christian friendship_ and _fellowship_. But I will ask you the
question, if you would be willing to have me go into your desk with
you in presence of your church and congregation, and there read the
whole of the above named chapter, then in humble and solemn prayer to
Almighty God, through Christ Jesus, implore a just and true
understanding of his word and truth contained in that portion of his
written will, and close my performance with a candid dissertation on
the chapter? Grant me liberty to do this in your hearing; after which
I will not object to your pointing out any _misapplication_ or
_perversion_ which you may think you discover. By what law is a man
condemned without first hearing his defence?

Again, your admonition suggests, that I did not, at either of the
funerals where you heard me perform, speak one word of the necessity
or nature of repentance. In this particular I believe you made a
mistake at both places, which mistake, I believe I can rectify to your
recollection. 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. But, after all, you and I
may entertain very different ideas respecting the _preaching_ of
repentance. The opinion that repentance is preached when a public
speaker tells his congregation that their eternal salvation depends on
their repentance, that eternal misery must inevitably be their doom
unless they repent is an opinion to which I have no reason to
subscribe.

_Preaching repentance_, I conceive _is teaching_ men and giving them
such divine instructions as bring their minds to discover more
glorious things than the sins and carnal vanities of this world; which
_teaching_ produces a returning of the mind to the things of God and
his ever blessed kingdom. The word _repent_ may or may not be used in
the giving of such instructions. I conceive a preacher of Jesus
Christ, warmed with the spirit of eternal love, breathing forth the
gracious words of truth, may successfully preach repentance as well
without the use of the word _repent_ as with it. At both those places
of sorrow, dear sir, I endeavoured to lead the mourners' minds to the
consideration _of eternal things_; I endeavoured to represent God our
Creator and Governor, as a friend to his creatures, and strove to the
utmost of my power to fix the love, regard and confidence of our
mourning friends on God our Creator. This you will recollect, and I
cannot suppose that you believe that a person can truly believe in the
divine goodness, and love his Creator as the greatest good, and put
confidence in him, so as to draw consolation, in the day of adversity,
from such confidence, and still be a stranger to true penitence.

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. I would wish to be understood that whenever
repentance is spoken of as a creature act, originating in creature
agency, it is represented directly contrary to the scripture sense as
expressed in Acts v. 31, "Him hath God exalted with his right hand to
be a _Prince_ and a _Saviour_, for to _give repentance_ to Israel and
forgiveness of sins."

From the above passage it is evident that repentance is no more
dependent on creature agency than the forgiveness of sins; and the
idea that repentance is a grant of divine favour is plainly expressed
in Acts xi. 18, "Then hath God also, to the Gentiles, _granted
repentance_ unto life." By the above testimonies the idea that
_repentance_ is a _creature condition_, on which the divine favour is
bestowed, is proved erroneous.

The next particular which your "friendly admonition" occupies, is the
subject of _Universal Salvation_ in the following words: "I could not
but observe with what _emphasis_ you, at the grave, mentioned those
selected texts of scripture which you supposed would confirm your
hearers in the doctrine of Universal Salvation. Would Christ or the
apostles preach Universal Salvation in one place of scripture, and in
another contradict it? I believe they would not." In the above
particular, sir, I agree with you in all which you express. I do not
believe that Christ or any of his apostles ever contradicted the
glorious doctrine, in which they all preached of Universal Salvation.
And until this contradiction can be shewn in their preaching, you and
I have full liberty to believe in God as "the Saviour of all men."
Christ gave himself a ransom for all men; tasted death for every man;
is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. He says he will
draw all men unto him, and he also says that "him that cometh after me
I will in no wise cast out." St. Paul says that God will have all men
to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. To which
testimony we might add an immense number of scriptures from the Old
and New Testaments; and as you agree that Christ and his apostles
would not preach Universal Salvation in one place, and contradict it
in another, so you must, of necessity subscribe to the _uniformity_ of
the scripture doctrine in the Salvation of all men.

You inform me, that you are an "_old man_;" this I was sensible of
before, in consequence of which, I have more particularly endeavoured
to cultivate an acquaintance with you, since I have been in this town;
for I conceive that the aged are not only entitled to the respects and
attention of the younger, but the younger are also entitled to the
advantages of their experience and wisdom.

You further tell me, that you have studied the scriptures twenty or
thirty years. On this account, sir, I covet earnestly your assistance;
for although I have studied the scriptures almost constantly twenty
years out of less than forty, yet I find but a few who are notable to
assist me in this agreeable employment. The happy method which you
recommend, I have for many years endeavoured to observe, for I am sure
that most of the vulgar errors, in respect to the scriptures, are for
the want of a careful examination of all which is said on the same
subjects.

Wherein you recommend the pious example of the prophet David, I fully
accord in it, and would humbly hope and strive to be a partaker of the
benefits arising from such an example.

What you say of men's explaining scripture in their own Strength and
wisdom, and of their making _havoc_ of, and _mangling_ them by
explaining them in a mystical or literal sense, I find myself rather
embarrassed about. You begin your epistle under the character of a
"friendly admonition," but what you mean by accusing me of the folly
of mangling and making havoc of the scriptures when you do not attempt
to show wherein I ever explained a passage wrong, I must leave for you
to explain when it is convenient. Nor is it easy for me to understand
you when you represent both the _mystical_ and _literal_ explanation of
scripture equally erroneous. You immediately conclude those
observations with the following quotation: "The natural man receiveth
not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto
him." Did you mean that the natural man, supposing the things of the
spirit of God to be foolishness, would say that the spirit _mangled_
and made _havoc_ of the scriptures? This could not be your meaning.

Your concluding query is the following; "My friend, is there the least
room for us to believe from this scripture (meaning 2 Cor. v. 10, 11)
and many others, that the wicked who have lived impenitent and in a
disbelief of the gospel, or without the true knowledge of God, and of
Jesus Christ whom God hath sent, have eternal life in the fruition and
enjoyment of God?" This query I will endeavour to answer as plainly as
possible.

1st. Unless we grant that a man has eternal life in Jesus Christ,
given him before the foundation of the world, we cannot justly call
him an _unbeliever_ because he does not believe he has this eternal
life in Christ. Nor can we say, with the least propriety, that he does
not _know_ the _truth_, because he does not know that which is not.

2d. If we allow that a man has eternal life in Christ, we must allow
him to be an unbeliever if he do not believe it; and that he does not
know the truth as it is in Jesus, if he be ignorant of this gift of
eternal life.

3d. While a man is in a state of unbelief he is not in the _enjoyment_
of the truth.

I conceive, sir, these observations must appear reasonable to any
reasonable man; and therefore I suppose they will appear reasonable to
you.

The passage in Corinthians alluded to, fully refutes the notion of
_endless_ rewards and punishments; for there it is stated, that
"_every one_ may receive the things done in his body, according to
that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." Now as this same
apostle tells us that all have sinned and come short of the glory of
God, if he mean that all who have sinned must be endlessly punished,
he cannot mean that any of the human race will be eternally blessed
according to their own works, nor yet according to the grace of God.
And you, sir, cannot but see if one sinner can be rewarded according
to his works and yet be saved by grace through faith, and that not of
himself, but by the gift of God, all the sinners of Adam's race may be
thus rewarded according to what they have done either _good_ or _bad_,
and yet be saved by grace as above.

Your suggestions respecting the resurrection require no other answer
than that I profess to believe in the doctrine of the resurrection as
taught by the scriptures, though I cannot flatter myself that that
opinion agrees with the opinion of what you call _sound authors_. For
myself, I call the writers of the holy scriptures _sound authors_, and
those who differ from them I am willing to call orthodox according to
our common schools of divinity. I join with you in a humble desire
that the holy breathings of the true children of God may be yours and
mine; and I am sensible if they be we shall not judge one another, nor
condemn one another; but strive for the unity of the spirit in the
bonds of divine peace. Yes, sir, I am confident that the true temper
and spirit of the gospel, if possessed and practiced by the public
ministers in this town, would lead them to open their doors to each
other, to meet together and pray, preach, sing and exhort, in love and
fellowship; but Antichrist's spirit is directly the reverse.

The assurance you give me in your postscript, that what you wrote to
me was not written in an envious spirit is duly appreciated; nor do I
much wonder that you do not envy me the numbers who attend my public
ministry, while you suppose that they with innumerable multitudes of
others are reprobated to endless sin and misery. Envy, in such a case,
would be truly unaccountable! I will not say that I fully comprehend
your meaning in calling the "great numbers" who attend my meeting,
"_precious souls_." Why are they precious? To whom are they precious?
If you view them the objects of divine love, of course you must
suppose them to be precious in God's sight; but if not, why do you
call them precious?

Your flattering acknowledgements of civilities received from me and
the acceptableness of my person to you, is very gratefully considered,
for it is an object with me to deserve the approbation of the pious
who have treasured up much valuable knowledge by experience; and I
wish to give you the fullest assurance possible that I consider my
acquaintance with yourself highly worthy of further cultivation and
improvement, which I shall always endeavour to promote, as opportunity
may present, and it shall please you to favour.

Having noted the most important sections of your "friendly admonition"
in as concise a manner as was convenient, permit me, dear sir, to make
a few observations on the doctrine of Universal Salvation, that being
a subject to which you allude in your epistle, though you did not see
fit to plant any particular arguments against it. This doctrine I
openly profess, and preach as a doctrine which I conceive is plainly
taught in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments; a doctrine
which all good men in the world desire the truth of; a doctrine the
most worthy of God of any ever published; a doctrine the best
calculated to fill the soul of the believer with love to God and to
our fellow creatures; a doctrine which harmonizes the divine
attributes, the scriptures and every principle of reason and good
sense, in a surprising and an astonishing manner; a doctrine, more
than any other, calculated to destroy the hurtful animosities existing
in the religious world; and to produce general fellowship and
brotherly love; and in a word, I believe it to be the only doctrine
which can be supported by reason or scripture, to a mind not
improperly biased by tradition. Though I am sensible of your greater
experience, yet I am willing to say to a man of your piety and
Christian candor, that any arguments which you should see cause to lay
before me, on the above subject, shall, by the blessing of God,
receive an early attention and a judicious discussion.

In the spirit of the New Testament and not in the letter; in the
spirit of life, and not in the death of the letter, in the spirit of
salvation, and not of condemnation, I pray God, I may ever live and
act according to your friendly desire; and feeling the same fervent
desire for my highly esteemed and venerable friend, I acknowledge
myself your most obliged and very humble servant, for Christ's sake.

HOSEA BALLOU.

Rev. Joseph Walton.

P.S. I have reserved three particulars in your "friendly admonition"
for the subject of another communication.

* * * * *

LETTER. III.

From the Same to the Same.

Portsmouth, Jan. 5, 1811.

_Rev. Sir_,--Having notified you in a postscript of my letter of Dec.
11th, that I had reserved three particulars in your "friendly
admonition" for the subject of another communication, I am disposed to
embrace this opportunity to fulfil my engagement. The three
particulars reserved are expressed, in your letter, in the following
words:

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but
after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having
itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and
shall be turned unto fables. You, my friend, once professed the true
faith of the gospel--have you kept it? I think not. I fear you have
fallen from it. You are now preaching a doctrine which pleases the
world, but it makes against you according to scripture. The apostle
John says in his 1st epistle 4th chapter 5th and 6th verses, They are
of the world; therefore the world heareth them; we are of God; he 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 would not,
dear sir, knowingly misapply your words, nor make a use of the above
quotation contrary to their most plain and evident sense which I
conceive is as follows:

1st. The doctrine which I believed before I believed as I do now, is
the true gospel according to the testimony of the apostle John, in his
1st epistle, 4th chapter 5th and 6th verses.

2d. That in believing as I now do, I have fallen from that faith, and
turned unto fables.

3d. My now preaching a doctrine which pleases the world is good proof
that my doctrine is not of God, and that those who hear me are justly
described by the apostle as heaping to themselves teachers having
itching ears.

In the first place I shall agree with you in the supposition that when
I first made a profession of religion, I believed the true gospel.

In the second place I shall endeavour to show that I have not fallen
from that faith.

In the third place I will attempt to show that the evidence, which you
think makes against me, is by no means sufficient to prove that the
doctrine I now believe and preach is consistent with the _lusts_ of
the _world_ or contrary to the true faith of the gospel.

1st. The true faith of the gospel as expressed in 1 John, 4th, &c. is
as follows--see verse 2, 3, "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus
Christ is come in the flesh is of God; and every spirit that
confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God."
The apostle here states in the most simple terms the true Christian
faith, and brings it into such a short compass that none can mistake
him. The belief that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is the true
faith, and a denial of that fact is a false faith.

When I first professed religion I professed to believe that "Jesus
Christ is come in the flesh;" and this I am willing to say now is the
true faith of the gospel, and the only article of faith which
constituted a Christian believer in the opinion of the apostles;
restricting this belief, at the same time, to Jesus of Nazareth, that
he was the Christ.

2d. I as much believe now as I ever did that Jesus Christ is come in
the flesh. I have as clear evidences now as I ever had that Jesus of
Nazareth is the Christ. These things being facts, the conclusion is
that I have not _fallen_ from the true christian faith.

3d. The above faith I preach, believing and testifying that God sent
his Son to be the _Saviour_ of the _world_; and I have reason to bless
God that such feeble means are at all prospered, and that as you
observe, "Great numbers of precious souls" adhere to the word, which I
conceive is no evidence that the faith I preach is not of God, or that
it is consistent with the lusts of the world. We are informed in the
word of God, that the _common people heard Christ gladly_. Who did not
hear him gladly? Answer, the Scribes and Pharisees. Do you think, sir,
that the common people's hearing Christ gladly was a justifiable
evidence to the Pharisees that he was not the true Messiah? When many
thousands of men, women, and children flocked from their cities into
desert places to hear the gracious words which proceeded from the lips
of him who spake as never man spake, was it a justifiable evidence
that he and his doctrine were not of God? To bring this matter, if
possible, nearer home, should you find your meeting house crowded with
hearers who expressed in their countenances an approbation of the
doctrine which you preach, would it be sufficient evidence to convince
you that your doctrine was not of God?

That the testimony that God sent his Son to be the Saviour of the
_world_ is not consistent with the _lusts_ of the _world_, is shown by
St. Paul to Titus; "For the grace of God which bringeth salvation to
_all men_, hath appeared, teaching us, that denying ungodliness and
_worldly lusts_, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this
present world."

I have not the least doubt in my mind, that if you and I preached more
like our blessed master than we do, people in general, would be more
engaged to hear us, and our meeting houses would be more thronged than
they are now.

Should you hear a shepherd complaining that the increase of his flock
was small, or that it rather diminished, you would think _that_
evidence made against _him_.

I suppose the particular idea which you had in view, which
constitutes, in your mind, an _Apostasy_, is, that Jesus Christ, who
was manifested in the flesh, will, pursuant to power given to him of
his father, save all men from their sins, and reconcile all things
unto himself. This idea, I acknowledge, I did not see clearly in, when
I first made a profession of a belief in Christ; but now am fully
persuaded in it. However, I cannot see why the adopting of this
particular idea should be called an _Apostasy_.

I will, sir, mention some similar cases, not wishing however, to be
considered an equal subject to the personage whom I shall introduce.
The apostle Peter was a believer in the true faith of the gospel, that
is, he believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God:
and Jesus says to him, on that confession, that flesh and blood had
not revealed it to him, but his Father. This belief Peter had before
he believed that Christ should suffer on the cross and rise from the
dead. After many trials and dreadful temptations in which this poor,
dependent brother of ours experienced the fallibility of all human
strength, he was privileged with positive evidence of the resurrection
of Christ from the dead.--Here I ask, was this new acquisition in
Peter's faith an apostasy? Was it not an advancement? You will agree
with me in this.

Again, this same apostle, even after he was endowed with power from on
high, and preached and healed in the name of Jesus, did not know that
the Gentiles were fellow heirs and of the same body, and partakers of
the promises of God, in Christ, by the gospel. It was not until the
angel of the Lord appeared unto Cornelius and directed him to send for
Peter, that God gave to that apostle the knowledge of the fact which
he acknowledged to Cornelius, that God had shewed him that he should
call _no man common_ or _unclean_. It is very evident that the apostle
Peter had more extensive knowledge of the gospel of the grace of God
in consequence of the vision of the sheet by the sea of Joppa than he
had before; but would any real Christian, knowing all the
circumstances, suppose that Peter had _apostatised_ from the true
faith, because he believed that millions would be benefited by Christ
more than were comprehended in his former belief? While they who were
of the circumcision remained ignorant of the revelation given to
Peter, we find they "_contended_ with him, saying, thou wentest in to
men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them." But when Peter had
"rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order
unto them, they held their peace and glorified God, saying, then hath
God also to the Gentiles, _granted repentance_ unto life." Thus we see
that the church in Jerusalem, who were of the circumcision, though
believers in Christ were, until Peter's defence further enlightened
them, ignorant of the extension of divine grace to the Gentiles
through the gospel. But surely no real Christian would suppose that
this enlargement of their faith in the great salvation was an
_apostasy_ from the true faith!

With profound deference, sir, permit me to suggest, that should the
foregoing observations present yourself, to your own mind, in a
similar situation with those of the circumcision, yet they acknowledge
you a believer in Christ, a minister of his word and a candidate for
greater manifestation of that grace of God by which Jesus tasted death
for every man.

I believe I may venture to say that unless the belief that _God is not
the Saviour of all men_ can be maintained by positive scripture as an
essential article of apostolic faith, I cannot be justly _admonished
for falling_ from the true faith. May I not, with great propriety,
call on my Rev. friend to show, if he can, that such an article of
faith was ever required by Christ or his apostles as a term of
christian fellowship and charity?

Let us look into the written word of God and see what is there
required of us to believe. See Rom. x. 9, "If thou shalt confess with
thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God
hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Acts viii. 37,
"And Philip said if thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest.
And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of
God." Matt. x. 32. "Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men,
him will I confess also before my father which is in heaven." Luke
xii. 8, "Also I say unto you, whosoever shall confess me before men,
him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God." Not
to multiply quotations, permit me to query whether there be in those
passages, or in any other scripture on the same point any intimations
given that the candidate must believe that this precious Saviour will
not, through the peace made by the blood of his cross, reconcile all
things to God? Are you fully satisfied, dear sir, that you are
authorised to _admonish_ as an _apostate_, one who confesses with his
mouth the Lord Jesus, and who believes in his heart that God hath
raised him from the dead? Why did not Philip demand of the Eunuch a
particular confession of a belief in _limited grace_ and _salvation_?
Was there not the same authority to require this article of faith
then, as there is now? If Jesus hath promised, in his word, that he
will confess before his Father in Heaven, whosoever confesseth him
before men are you satisfied with the authority by which you denounce,
disfellowship, and deny those little ones? The thought is truly
solemn! I feel a _chill_ in every vein of my body, when I consider the
vain traditions of a corrupted church, in which it has long been a
religious habit to anathematise those who confess Christ before men,
because they _cannot_ believe in certain tenets never required by
Christ or his apostles!

Rev. Sir, I can say in the sincerity of my soul, that I believe that
Jesus of Nazareth is the true Christ, I believe him to be the Son of
the living God, who was delivered for our offences and was raised
again for our justification. And though I feel myself the most
unworthy of the subjects of salvation, yet I should be ungrateful not
to acknowledge the goodness of God my Saviour. Whatever men may think
or say of me, I know that my soul experiences joys unspeakable in
sweet meditations on the glories and inexpressible beauties of my
Redeemer; and the thought that I am owned as his child before the
angels of God, is infinitely better than to receive the approbation of
men who are disposed to judge without knowing the heart.

If the Christian clergy were once disposed to strip their creeds and
confessions of faith till they were reduced to the simplicity that is
in Christ, and require no other belief than Christ and his apostles
required, there would be an end at once of all the discord and
animosity which have wounded the character of Christianity for ages.
And the prayer of the blessed Jesus would be fulfilled in the
_oneness_ of all who believe in him, which would convince the world
that the Father sent him.

Although you have not yet found it convenient to favour me with any
observations on my former letter, I have not done expecting it. And I
shall endeavour to hold myself in readiness to pay an early attention
to any communication which shall come from your hand. In hopes that
nothing contained in this letter will be considered inconsistent with
the true spirit of a humble believer in Christ, I remain, sir, your
humble servant, for Christ's sake.

HOSEA BALLOU.

Rev. JOSEPH WALTON.

* * * * *

LETTER IV.

FROM THE REV. JOSEPH WALTON TO THE REV. HOSEA BALLOU.

PORTSMOUTH, JAN. 11, 1811.

_Sir_,--I have received your answer to my letter sent you, dated Dec.
7, 1810, and now desire to answer it, in the fear of God, in as
concise a manner as I am capable, agreeable to the scriptures of
_truth_. Sir, I thank you for the civilities you manifest toward me,
and that you received my letter in a friendly manner as I think I sent
it, wishing it might be received and improved for your benefit; not
that I supposed that I was capable of convincing or confuting you of
what I conceive to be erroneous in your doctrine or principles, but
relying on the blessing of God to make it effectual for your
everlasting good, and those you profess to be over in the Lord.

I shall not take into consideration every argument you make use of,
but shall give it a general answer. Since I have received it I have
had a great number of scriptures occuring to my mind which I might
quote if I thought expedient. In the first place you speak or write as
if I thought death was originally designed by the Almighty for the
damage of mankind; I say death was threatened to be the consequence,
if mankind did transgress the law of their Creator; our first parents
transgressed, and the penalty was executed according to the
threatening, "Thou shall surely die;" they were condemned to die; they
were under sentence of death; they became spiritually dead,
immediately; they lost the knowledge of their Creator; darkness
covered their minds; they endeavoured to hide themselves from God
among the trees of the garden; they brought misery upon themselves and
upon their posterity; we feel the woeful effects of their fall and
apostasy until this day; by nature we are spiritually dead; as it is
written, "you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins."
Sir, if there is a law made by our legislature, is there not a penalty
annexed unto it? If that law is transgressed, is not the person who
transgressed punished some way or other?--Yet the law is made for the
good of the whole; the legislature is not to be impeached, as if he
made it for the damage of his people, whom he governs; the law-breaker
is punished either in his own person or his surety, though the pain,
shame and punishment is for the damage of the transgressor, yet the
law is for the good of the whole, and the law maker is not in the
least to blame; the transgressor also, if he repents and is reformed,
is benefited by it, &c.

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. Christ has said, "if ye
believe not that I am he ye shall die in your sins," John viii. 24.
Read, if you please, the proceeding context. The decrees of God, you
say, is my creed, and that I believe that God foreordained whatsoever
come to pass. I do not think I ever told you so. And so you think God
foreordained, according to my _creed_, death, for a damage to his
creatures. I have said death is punishment for sin, as I wrote, and I
can maintain it from scripture; death was introduced by sin; the
person that lives a life of sin and dies without regenerating grace,
which all true believers in Christ have, will be miserable, and be
"punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord
and the glory of his power." I believe every true believer is a true
penitent, is regenerated, is in Christ by a vital union is a "new
creature," and that those persons will be saved and none else,
according to the doctrine of Christ and his apostles. I believe that
God the Father worketh all things according to the council of his own
will; that his redeemed and saved people should be to his glory. You
say, in my writing to you, I said, "do you think Christ or his
apostles would preach universal salvation in one place of scripture
and contradict it in another? I believe they would not."--Here you
designedly, I think mistake; I do not believe that Christ or his
apostles ever did preach universal salvation, that is, that every son
and daughter of apostate Adam, would be saved. I believe that this
gospel of the kingdom is to be preached to every creature, and
"whosoever believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that
believeth not shall be damned." Do me justice, sir; do not animadvert
upon what I have just quoted, as if I think our Saviour is to be
understood as if every individual would have the privilege of hearing
the gospel. I conceive that the apostles' commission runs thus: "Go
into all the world and preach the gospel to every human or rational
creature."--What I meant by saying, do you think Christ would preach
universal salvation in one place, and in another contradict it, is,
that those texts which you suppose supports your doctrine, is not to
be understood as you apply them; for if they prove universal
salvation, as you would have them, then they will contradict many
texts which Christ and his apostles improved otherwise; therefore I
still assert, that the scriptures ought to be carefully examined,
conscientiously improved and applied. The faithful minister of Christ
will renounce the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in
craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by
manifestation of the _truth_, commending themselves to every man's
conscience in the sight of God. "For we are not as many which corrupt
the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of
God, speak we in Christ."--See 2d Corinthians, ii. 17. And I would
take it as a favour, if you would read the 15th and 16th verses in the
same chapter, and seriously consider them. Those texts of scripture,
which you have quoted from Rom. 8th chapter, 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 you and your
scheme of Universal Salvation to apply them so.

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 write in
particular to you, concerning your affairs or circumstances, to the
whole world? Ministers of Christ should rightly "divide the word;" and
should take the precious from the vile; then they would be as God's
mouth to the people. See Jeremiah xv. 19, see likewise, Ezekiel xiiv.
23, "The priests of the Lord are to teach the Lord's people the
difference between the holy and the profane," and cause them to
discern between the unclean and the clean;" it is by this _general_
way of preaching, errors are introduced, not only by your
denomination, but by others also. I could multiply quotations from the
Bible, both from the Old and New Testaments, but what would it avail,
unless you will consider them and endeavour to improve them, and apply
them as the Holy Ghost would have us to to? "For holy men of God spake
as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," see 2 Peter i. 25. You say, you
were somewhat embarrassed in understanding what I meant when I wrote
that men undertaking to explain the scriptures in their own strength
and wisdom, and their making havoc of them, &c. by explaining them in
a mystical or literal sense. I will endeavour to explain what I
meant--1st. To allegorize the scriptures in a mere moral or mystical
sense, or altogether in a figurative sense, is a degree of enthusiasm,
(as to say there is no _devil_ but our carnal nature, &c.) and in a
mere literal sense is to understand and improve them not in that
spiritual sense in which they are to be understood, but resting in the
letter only; as we may observe when Christ said in St. John, 6th
chapter, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his
blood, ye have no life in you;" "Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my
blood hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day;"
"These things said he in the synagogue as he taught in Capernaum;"
"Many therefore of his disciples when they heard this, said, this is a
hard saying, who can hear it? Christ said, doth this offend you?"--And
informed them he did not mean that they should eat his human flesh,
and drink his blood literally, but he was to be understood in a
spiritual sense. He informed them "it is the spirit that quickeneth,
the flesh profiteth nothing, the words I speak unto you they are
spirit and life." Some have since misunderstood him, and, to this day,
misunderstand this piece of scripture; and have from thence introduced
the absurd doctrine of transubstantiation, that after the words of
consecration, the bread and wine are the real body and blood of
Christ. So some adhere only to the letter of the word and expound the
law of God in a mere literal sense. It seems the apostle Paul, before
his conversion, understood it so.--Read the 7th chapter of Romans,
from the 6th to the end of the 13th verse. Paul was brought up at the
feet of Gamaliel, a doctor of the law; yet, while in his unregenerate
state, knew not the spiritual meaning of the law of God, (I mean the
holy or moral law) and no doubt he spake by experience when he says,
(as I wrote to you from I Cor. ii. 14) "But the natural man received
not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto
him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually
discerned." By the natural man, I conceive, the apostle meant the
unregenerate man: yea, with the highest degree of human teaching and
knowledge without he is taught of God, by his word and spirit, he
cannot truly understand the things of the spirit of God; and therefore
they are, as I say, misapplied, mangled and made havoc of. Faith is,
by some, only held as a bare assent that Jesus Christ came in the
flesh. None do truly believe that, but by the Holy Ghost.

You still will continue to maintain the doctrine of Universal
Salvation, by those texts, which I said you spake 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 that I am he ye shall die in your sins." With respect to that text
you quote from John xii. 32, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
will draw all men unto me." It is, I conceive, explained by Christ
himself in John iii. 14, 15, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in
the wilderness even so must the son of man be lifted up; that
whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting
life." By Christ being lifted on the cross the way of salvation is to
be preached to all men; but it is only those that believe who will not
perish and have eternal life, according to the foregoing scriptures I
have quoted from Mark xvi. 16, and Mat. xxv. 41, 46. I could quote
many more scriptures spoken by our Lord himself and explained by him;
and I hope, sir, you will allow our Lord to be the best expositor of
his own word. I conceive you think you have got a mighty argument when
you mention the apostle Peter, who had a vision which instructed him
in his duty to preach the gospel to the Gentiles; but remember, Peter
says, "I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every
nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness, is accepted of
him." Then he began to preach the gospel to Cornelius and his friends;
he preached Christ to them; he preached Jesus and the resurrection; he
shows he is ordained of God to be the Judge of the quick and the dead;
and says, "To him give all the prophets witness that through his name
whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." Did he
say that every individual of the human race would be saved? No such
thing! And though he had further light concerning the Gentiles, he
never, as I can find, preached Universal Salvation, but to the
contrary. Read his epistles, first and second, particularly 2d
epistle, 2d chapter from 1st to the end of the 9th verse. "The Lord
knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation; and to reserve the
unjust to the day of judgment, to be _punished_;" not to be
_liberated_! Read 3d chapter, 7th verse, "But the heavens and the
earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store reserved unto
fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." Peter
wrote these epistles after he had further light with respect to the
Gentiles' having the gospel preached unto them.

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.

JOSEPH WALTON.

Mr. Hosea Ballou, _Pastor of a Church_.

* * * * *

LETTER V.

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,[11] 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

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