Those who suppose that, as Christ died for all, so, before he shall have delivered up his mediatorial kingdom to the Father, all shall be brought to a participation of the benefits of his death, in their restoration to holiness and happiness. They teach, that the wicked will receive a punishment apportioned to their crimes; that punishment itself is a mediatorial work, and founded upon mercy; that it is a mean of humbling, subduing, and finally reconciling the sinner to God. They suppose that the words eternal, everlasting, &c. as they sometimes apply to the things which have ended, so they cannot apply to endless misery. They say, this doctrine is the most consonant to the perfections of the Deity, most worthy of the character of Christ, and that the Scriptures cannot be reconciled upon any other plan. They teach their followers ardent love to God; and peace, meekness, candour, and universal love to men, they observe, are the natural result of these views.
The sentiments of the Universalists were embraced by Origen in the 3d century, and in more modern times by Chevalier Ramsay, Dr. Chryne, Mr. Hartley, and others. But one of the greatest advocates for this doctrine was Dr. Chauncy. His arguments are these: 1. Christ died not for a select number of men only, but for mankind universally, and without exception or limitation, for the sacred Scriptures are singularly emphatical in expressing this truth, 1 Thess. 5:10. 1 Cor. 15:3. Rom. 5:6. 1 Pet. 3:18. John 1:29. John 3:16, 17. 1 John 2:2. Heb. 2:9.—2. It is the purpose of God according to his good pleasure that mankind universally, in consequence of the death of his Son Jesus Christ, shall certainly and finally be saved, Rom. 5:12. &c. Rom. 8:19-24. Col. 1:19, 20. Eph. 4:10. Eph. 1:9, 10. 2 Tim. 1:4.—3. As a mean, in order to men’s being made meet for salvation, God will sooner or later, in this state or another, reduce them all under a willing and obedient subjection to his moral government, 1 John 3:8. John 1:29. Matt. 1:21. Psalm 8:5, 6. Heb. 2:6, 9. Phil. 2:9-11. 1 Cor. 15:24–29.–4. The Scripture language concerning the reduced or restored, in consequence of the mediatory interposition of Jesus Christ, is such as leads us into the thought, that it is comprehensive of mankind universally, Rev. 5:13.
The opponents, however, of Dr. Chauncy, and this doctrine, observe, on the contrary side, that the sacred Scriptures expressly declare that the punishment of the finally impenitent shall be eternal, Matt. 17:8. Matt. 25:41, 46. Mark 9:43. Rev. 14:11. 2 Thess. 1:9. Eph. 2:17. Jude 13. Rev. 9:3. Rev. 20:10. Matt. 12:31, 32. Luke 12:10. Mark 3:29. 1 John 5:16. Heb. 1:4, 6. Heb. 10:26, 27. Matt. 26:24.
The title of Universalists distinguishes those who embrace the sentiments of Mr. Relly. Dr. Joseph Huntingdon was a great advocate also for universal salvation, as may be seen from a posthumous work of his, entitled, “Calvinism improved; or the Gospel illustrated in a System of real Grace issuing in the Salvation of all Men.” This work was answered by Mr. Nathan Strong, minister of Hartford, in Connecticut, in which he endeavours to reconcile the doctrine of eternal misery with the infinite benevolence of God.
This doctrine of universal salvation, or restoration, besides being generally acknowledged by the Socinians, has been defended in England by Mr. Winchester, and after him by Mr. Vidler and others. The latter has been opposed by Mr. A. Fuller and Mr. C. Jerram. Dr. Chauncy’s Salvation of all Men; White’s Restoration of all Things; Hartly on Man; Universalists’ Miscellany; Fuller’s Letters to Vidler; and Letters to an Universalist, containing a Review of that Controversy, by Scrutator; Mr. Spaulding’s Treatise on Universalism, published in America.
Charles Buck (1771-1815) was an English Independent minister, best known for the publication of his “Theological Dictionary”. According to the “Dictionary of National Biography”, a Particular Baptist minister named John C. Ryland (1723-1792) assisted Buck by writing many of the articles for the aforementioned publication. One may conclude, based not only Buck’s admiration for his friend Ryland, but also on the entries in his Theological Dictionary, that he stood head and shoulders with the High-Calvinists of his day.