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A General Epistle to all who believe the Doctrine
of General Redemption, and Universal Retoration, both in Europe and America.
My dear Friends, Brethren and Companions, IT having pleased Almighty God, of his great mercy and goodness, to shew to many these
glorious truths of late, and amongst others, the wri. ter of the following Epistle, though unworthy of that high honor: he therefore, as one that has obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful, begs leave, with all humility, to present this token of his love, to all those who are persuaded that Jesus having redeemed all men through his blood, will finally bring them all to bow the knee, and swear allegiance to him, and will reconcile and rehead all things to himself.
Dear brethren, suffer the word of exhortation and read over this letter daily, till you find the spirit of it hath taken entire possession of your hearts, and till you are enabled, through grace, to practice the important duties here recommended.
You profess to believe the universal benevoJence of the Deity; Olet me exhori you to imitate the love of your Father who is in heaven. Do not let hatred & wrath dwell in your hearts,
while universal love dwells upon your tongues, For nothing is a more palpable absurdity and contradiction, than a man professing to believe the universal benevolence of the Deity, and yet full of partiality and malice himself! Let all professing universal love, remember, that " if a man say I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seer?” As the belief of God's universal love to his creatures, tends to dispose our minds to love them too ; so the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, will enable us with pleasure to perform it. We must not only love our brethren, and professed friends, but we must love our enemies, bless them that curse us, do good to them that hate us, and pray for them that despitefully use us,
persecute us. This love to mankind we must shew by avoiding all that will hurt them, as far as possible : we must do them no harm, neither by actions nor by words; we must not allow ourselves so much as to think evil of them, far less to speak evil of them, on any occasion ; all slandering, lying, tattling, whispering, backbiting, &c. (crimes which are too frequent in the world) should be wholly avoided, as the mischief they occasion to society is inconceivable ; besides, they are expressly contrary to, and breaches of the plain commands of God, given to Moses, & confirined by Christ and his apostles:
“ Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale. bearer among .thy people ; neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor; I am
Jehovah. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shait not avenge, nor bear any grudge against. the children of thy people ; but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am Jehovah. Lev. xix. 16, 17, 18.
66 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil : cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another, with brotherly love ; in honor preferring one another.” Rom. xii. 9, 10.
• Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger and clamor,and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice : And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, éven as God in Christ hath forgiven you.” Eph. iv, 31, 32.
Wherefore, laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings ; as new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow there. by." 1 Pet. ii. 1, 2.
Ceasing to do evil, is the next step towards learning to do well ; and would all people learn to leave doing harm, there would be much less need, than there is now, of acts of kindness and mercy : for the great part of all the real miseries that are in the world, owe their existence and continuance to those dreadful principles, selfishness, envy, pridese and wrath, which are the the ruling tempers in the most of men, and which horrid dispositions fill the world with ev. ery evil work.
All men have a right in justice to reqiure one of another the following, which, to give it the greater force, I put it into the form of
An bumble Petition of each Man to bis Neighbor.
“ IF you can do me no good, pray do mie no harm. If you can give me no employ your self, pray do nothing that shall deprive me of what I have, or hinder me from obtaining an honest livelihood in the world : If you cannot forward me, do not hinder me. Do not inter. fere with my business, nor meddle with . mestic concerns: Do not blast my reputation with false reports, nor wound my peace by seek: ing occasions against me. If you can say noth: ing to my advantage, say nothing at all about me ; and if you cannot afford to help me for: ward, it will cost you nothing to let me alone." Reasonable as this petition my seem, it is not attended to as it ought to be, or we should not have such need to shew kindness and relieve the distressed.
But we ought not to content ourselves withi not doing any harm; we should seek to do good to all men as we have opportunity, and according to our ability. We should feed the hungry, ; give drink to the thirste, cloth the naked, visit the poor, sick, strangend prisoners, fatherless, widows, and mourners in their affliction : and in general should do to all men as we would they should do to us.
Let me exhort you to shew the same respect to religious societies that think differently from you, as you would wish them to shew to yourselves. Do not rail against them, nor depreciate their ministers, nor judge, nor condemn them, lest ye yourselves be judged and condemoed. Consider that all must give an account to God, and that the judge standeth before the door ; & therefore never take upon yourselves to be judges for others, but endeavor to be ready to give up your accounts to God, when he shall call you. Never speak evil of those who are in authority ; not stir up broils, debates and quarrels, in the families, neighborhoods, towns, cities,kingdoms and countries where you dwell.
Never render railing for railing, but, contrariwise, blessing; and how many evil things soever are said of you, be sure you never return any harsh or provoking words.
Never let envy, that basest and meanest of vices, dwell in your breasts, nor be harbored in your minds ; but be always filled with meekness and entire resignation to the will of God.
But were I to give you the most advice in the fewest words, it should be in these, Die to your own wills.
This lesson may be hard to learn, but wheni once it is gained, it is a source of endless happiness : for when once your own will ceases to rule you, a new and delightful dawn of heavenly sensibilities will arise in your souls, and pride and rage will prevail no more. O be humble ! “Pride was not made for man,” says the son of Sirach ; and an excellent sentence it is. The