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

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righteousness of Christ will remain endlessly in a state of death and
condemnation? If you do not feel competent to the task of maintaining
such palpable contradiction, why would it not be doing yourself a
kindness just to examine that _soul chilling_ and _heaven dishonouring
doctrine_ of _endless, unmerciful punishment_! One moment's
examination of such an idea when brought in sight of the fountain
which is opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of
Jerusalem to wash in from sin and uncleanness would abolish it
forever. I acknowledge, sir, that my five particulars do not
comprehend every particular of your letter; nor have I attended to all
which they do comprehend so extensively as I would if I could suppose
it necessary; but as you were in hopes of receiving nothing, it is not
to be expected that you will find fault because there is no more.

[Footnote 11: "Candid Review," or Answer to Robinson.]

I cannot be willing to close this epistle without giving you credit of
following the apostle's direction in your observation concerning my
argument in respect to St. Peter. You say "I conceive you think you
have got a _mighty_ argument," &c. The apostle exhorts us to be
_children_ in _malice_, and I am sure St. Paul, nor any body else ever
heard a more _childish expression_ which communicated the least
possible disaffection.

What you quote from St. Peter with a design to prove endless misery,
without attempting to show that such was his meaning, I forbear
commenting upon. If you had shown that Peter could consistently
believe that no man was common or unclean considered in the sheet
which he saw in vision, and at the same time believe that the greatest
part of mankind would remain in sin and uncleanness eternally you
would have done more than you have. I hope, sir, if you are determined
to take your leave of this correspondence without supporting the
subjects of your admonition, and without supporting the heavy charges
you have stated against me, and, likewise, without acknowledging the
impropriety of your admonition, and the incorrectness of your charges,
that you will never attack another of your fellow creatures in the
same way. I do not express this because I feel the least
unfriendliness to you in consequence of the method you have pursued,
but because I think it is contrary to the spirit of Christianity; it
is not doing as we wish to be done by. I do not believe that your soul
feels satisfied with it; but you have some remains of pride yet which
keeps you from giving up ground which you are sensible you cannot
maintain. I hope, sir, you will entertain no apprehensions respecting
my cordial friendship to you, or my readiness to join you in any
possible usefulness to our fellow creatures. And, as you
affectionately committed me to God and to the word of his grace,
please to accept the sincere desires for your present and everlasting
welfare, of sir, your humble servant, for Christ's sake.

HOSEA BALLOU.

* * * * *

LETTER VI.

FROM THE SAME TO THE SAME.

PORTSMOUTH, FEB. 1, 1811.

_Rev. Sir_,--Having taken into serious consideration the whole
correspondence which has passed between us, I have felt very deep
impressions on my mind arising from the following coosiderations.

1st. You and I are accountable beings, and must undoubtedly, sooner or
later, be called to account for the propriety, or impropriety of our
labours with each other.

2d. Our professional character must, without doubt, be a high
consideration in our accountability.

3d. The eyes of society are ever watchful, and God has made us
accountable, not only to himself, but to our fellow creatures, who
have a just demand upon us.

While these important considerations were revolving in my mind, I felt
a sense of my youth, compared with your age, my inexperience, the
proneness of the human heart to the vanity of self confidence, the
blindness of prejudice to which old and young are more or less
subject, and also, the friendship which has hitherto happily subsisted
between us since our first acquaintance.

These circumstances and those considerations, led my mind to the
conclusion that I ought to lay the whole matter before God, and to ask
of him suitable wisdom to guide me in relation to so weighty a
subject.

The result of my devotional supplications is a forcible application of
the divine direction, given by St. Paul 1 Tim. v. 1, "Rebuke not an
elder but entreat him as a father, and the younger men as brethren."

How far your communications to me are consistent, or inconsistent with
the apostle's direction, in the above test, I do not conceive it my
duty to judge, any farther than a discharge of my own duty, pursuant
to the apostle's direction, may require. On the most deliberate
recapitulation of all which I have written, I cannot now say, that I
could wish to recall a single idea, argument, application of
scripture, or sentiment; though I will not even suggest that better
information might not produce a different conclusion. I trust I have
hitherto treated you, sir, and the subjects of your communications
with all the propriety of which my understanding is master; and my
fervent desire is, that I may complete the labours enjoined on me by
the above text, in strict conformity to that most holy spirit which
inspired such excellent counsel. Therefore, Rev. Sir, I _entreat you_
as a _father_ to consider,

1st. Whether you entreated your humble servant as a _brother_ when you
admonished him for important particulars which you wholly refuse to
substantiate either as facts or wrongs?

2d. Whether you entreated me as a brother in refusing to decide, as to
your meaning, in the first subject of your admonition, and in not
giving me to understand whether I had rightly apprehended you or not?

3d. Whether you entreated me as a brother in not acknowledging an
agreement of sentiment on the subject of _repentance_ after I had
given _you_ the fullest assurance possible, that I believed in its
necessity and importance?

4th. Whether you entreated me as a brother in admonishing me as an
apostate from the true faith of the gospel, while I profess to believe
in Christ the Son of God, as the Saviour of the world; and stand in
society, in my various relation by the blessing of God, unimpeached as
to morality?

5th. Whether you entreated me as a brother in admonishing me against a
doctrine which commends the love and mercy of God in the final
reconciliation and everlasting happiness of all unreconciled beings;
and in opposing said doctrine with no other argument than saying, in
effect, that if the scriptures which prove the doctrine are allowed to
mean as they naturally read, other scriptures contradict them! Thus
furnishing the infidel with his darling weapon against the divinity of
the scriptures?

6th. Whether you entreated me as a brother in stating those heavy
charges against me, in which you _accuse me_ of a _designed mistake_,
and of _wilful misapplications_ of scriptures where neither _mistake_
or _misapplications_ of scriptures can be made to appear?

7th. Whether you entreated me as a brother in misrepresenting my
preaching when you never heard me perform in the particular capacity
of a preacher?

8th. Whether you entreated me as a brother in taking your leave of
this correspondence without supporting one single particular of your
admonition, or one single charge against me. And also, without
acknowledging the incorrectness of your admonition, or the impropriety
of your charges.

I entreat you, sir, as a father, to consider whether the spirit which
you manifested, in bring such _unreasonable_ charges against me, be
consistent with the directions given by St. Paul to Timothy, and also
with the example and precept of him who loved his enemies and
commanded his disciples to do likewise?

I entreat you seriously to consider what the conduct of the Saviour
would have been, if he had been disposed to _judge, denounce, reject_
and _disfellowship_ all those who sincerely believe in him and strove
to honour him with becoming obedience to his commands, on account of
their not understanding every thing as well as he did?

I entreat you to call in question your treatment of me because I do
not believe in every thing as you do; and carefully examine if it
correspond with the conduct of him, who, out of pity to human
weakness, submitted himself to the scorn and hatred of those who
considered themselves more righteous than others?

In relation to the doctrine, to which you appear so violently opposed,
I entreat you, as a father, to take into consideration, 1st. The
promises of God to Abraham by which the doctrine is supported. 2dly.
The corroborating testimonies in the New Testament by which we are to
understand those promises. 3dly. The consistency of the doctrine with
the character of _infinite goodness_. And, 4thly. The consistency of
the doctrine with every benevolent and godlike desire of the human
heart.

If God promised to bless all the families, nations and kindreds of the
earth in the seed of Abraham, who is Christ, and if St. Paul has
informed us that this blessing is _justification through faith_, I
entreat you to consider by what authority you condemn the doctrine of
_Universal Justification_.

If the apostle has also argued that God has made peace through the
blood of the cross of Jesus, by him to reconcile _all things_ to
himself, I entreat you to consider by what authority you condemn the
doctrine of _Universal Reconciliation_.

If in perfect conformity to the promises of God, the prophet has given
his testimony that _all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation
of our God_, I entreat you to consider by what authority you condemn
the doctrine of _Universal Salvation_.

If you make use of scripture to contradict such plain and positive
declarations, by explaining _parables_ and _doubtful sayings_ for that
purpose, I entreat you candidly to consider whether you can do any
thing more to the dishonour of the sacred word, or more pleasing to
those who wish to bring the scriptures into disrepute.

If you feel determined to maintain and inculcate the idea of God's
punishing his rational offspring eternally without mercy, love, or
pity towards them, I entreat you, as a father, to consider whether you
can invent any idea which, applied to God, would make his character
appear more contrary to the spirit of him who loved his enemies and
died for them.

I entreat you to examine carefully and see if it be possible to
reconcile the doctrine of endless misery with the benevolent desires
of the true spiritual children of God; and consider seriously whether
it be proper to pray for the salvation of all men, and then condemn
the belief of it as a heresy.

I entreat you, as a father, to call into serious consideration the
real cause of all the persecutions and abominable cruelties which have
been practiced in Christendom, on account of religion, and see if you
can find a foundation for these things except in the blasphemous
notion that God is unmerciful towards the impenitent.

Endeavour, sir, to satisfy yourself how the foolish prejudices of
ignorant zealots could ever have succeeded in establishing so many
middle walls of partition, and in making so many pernicious
distinctions in the Christian world, if the blasphemous notion of
partiality in God had not been the rage of an apostatised church.

Find out, if you can, I entreat you, sir, the cause of all the madness
and folly, which appear in the habitual coldness and bitterness
exercised by the clergy, of different denominations towards each
other, if it be not the blasphemous notion that their foolish
prejudices are sanctioned by God!

Adieu, I write no more. I feel that I have done my duty. I have
entreated you as a father in love and faithfuness. I leave the effects
with God; humbly praying and joyfully believing, that when we are
purged from our hay, wood and stubble, with the spirit of judgment and
the spirit of burning, we shall see eye to eye and be admitted to a
humble seat at the feet of our blessed Saviour, for whose sake I
remain, sir, your most obedient and very humble servant.

HOSEA BALLOU

Rev. JOSEPH WALTON.

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