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MINISTER AND HIS FRIEND;
COMPREHENDING THE SUBSTANCE OF SEVERAL REAL CONVERSATIONS WHICH THE AUTHOR HAD
WITH VARIOUS PERSONS BOTH IN AMERICA AND EUROPE ON THAT
FULLY TO STATE, AND FAIRLY TO ANSWER THE MOST COMMON OBJECTIONS THAT ARE BROUGHT
AGAINST IT, FROM THE
BY ELHANAN WINCHESTER.
MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR. ,
Rev. ELHANAN WINCHESTER, was born at | Neek. A revival followed; Mrs. W. was Brookline, Mass., in 1751. He early evinced among the number converted, and soon after a contemplative mind, and, being of an awk- sickened and died. Mr. W. was also bronght ward appearance, shunned the society pecu- to the side of the grave by sickness, but reliar to youth, and devoted his leisure moments covered. In 1778 he was married to Sally to the acquirement of useful knowledge. At Luke, his third wife, for whom he cherished the age of five he was considered a good read a great affection. er; and his taste for reading, together with His attention was called to the subject of the rapidity with which he prosecuted his Universalism in this year, by reading Paul studies, was soon observed by his associates Seigvolk's works, entitled “The Everlasting and friends. Books of all kinds which fell Gospel,” but was not fully converted. The in his way were read with avidity; but arguments which he there saw, would occathe Bible was his chief favourite. With its sionally arrest his attention, and disposed him pages he was so familiar, that he was looked to propose them to others, which, to his surapon as a prodigy, for his knowledge of the prise, they could not answer. On mentioning Scriptures, and strength of memory.
the subject to another clergyman, he was in When in bis nineteenth year, he underwent formed that the doctrine had been controverted what is called by the new lights and orthodox, in Virginia, but that the daring individual who ** conviction and conversion," and soon after had preached it was suddenly "cut off commenced preaching, without being received from the earth.” into the church after the usual form. On During this year he was made to drink hearing of a revival in Canterbury, Con., he deeply of the cup of sorrow, of which he had immediately visited that place, and was bap- twice before partook. His third wife died. tized by Elder Ebenezer Lyon, and admitted He was now more zealously engaged than into the Free Will Baptist Church, of which ever, in preaching, and laboured among the Elder Lyon was pastor. In 1771 he removed slaves with great success, and very soon outto Rehoboth, Mass., and spent the year in its grew his Calvinistic principles, and preached vicinity. His youth, memory, eloquence, à free salvation. In 1779 he visited New and zeal, together with his singular dress and England, preaching on his way in many of appearance, drew multitudes to his meetings. the towns through which he passed, half inA revival followed, and a church was soon clined to Universalism, though considering gathered, over which he was ordained by El- himself its enemy. On the 7th of October, der Lyon. In the course of a short season, he of this year, he arrived in Philadelphia, and renounced his Arminian sentiments, embraced commenced preaching to the Baptist church the system of divinity advocated hy Dr. Gill, in that city, by their particular request. So and became one of the most thorough Calvin- great was the excitement produced by his ists in the country.
labours, that the house could not contain the In 1772, at the request of his friends, he people ;-herefore the largest house in the removed to Grafton, where he preached city was procured, and was immediately filled through the summer. In 1773 he removed to to overflowing—the clergy of all denominaHull, nine miles east of Boston. In the Au- tions comprising a part of his congregations. tumn of 1774, he started on a journey to the Though all appeared satisfied with his Southern States. On arriving in Charleston, labours, his own mind was not at rest. The S.C., he soon received an invitation to settle subject of Universal Salvation continued to with the Baptist Church at Welsh Neck, on agitate his thoughts; and he found no quiethe Great Pee Dee River, sixty miles from tude, until, by a candid and prayerful examiGeorgetown, which he accepted, and returned nation of the Bible, he became fully satisfied, to Grafton, Mass., for his family. In October that “God will have all men to be saved," of the next year, he returned with his family and that he doeth according to his will, in as far as Fairfax county, Va., where he was heaven and earth.” obliged to leave Mrs. W. on account of her ill His change of opinion was soon noised health. He, however, proceeded on to the abroad, and produced a great disaffection in place of desiination, where he spent the win- many of his former friends. One minister, ter. In the Spring he returned for his lady, in particular, met him in the street and parted whom he had left in the charge of a friend, with him in these words: “If you enibrace and learned on his arrival, that she was in her this sentiment, I shall no longer own you for grave.
a brother.” And he was true to his word. Instead of returning to the South, as he had In 1781," on the first Sunday of April, MT. designed, he came to Boston, and supplied Winchester was to preach at Germantown, for Dr. Stillman, at the first Baptist church, about eight miles from Philadelphia, among during the summer. Soon after this he was the German Baptists, who hold the doctrine married to Miss Sarah Peck, of Rehoboth, of Universal Restoration. As he was leaving
of eminent ministers had just arrived from the cated his new sentiments. After preaching country, on the private request of some of his four years in this place, a hall was obtained, opposers, to hold a public dispute with him. where he afterwards preached, located on the Giving them the liberty of his pulpit for the spot now covered by the Lombard Street next day, he departed for the place of his ap- Church; and subsequently the house now im. pointment. During his absence, a report was proved by the First Uuiversalist Society, was industriously circulated, that he had fled to erected. avoid an interview ; and on Monday, when At Philadelphia, he resided in the house be returned, the delay occasioned by a funeral owned by his fourth wife, to whom he was that he was called to attend, encouraged his married in 1781, and whom he buried in less opposers, till they began to deceive them than two years afterwards, “making him, at selves with that falsehood they had imposed the age of thirty-two, four times a widower." on others. The multitude was assembled in In 1784 he visited South Carolina, and was the meeting-house, impatiently waiting for the married to his fifth wife, “ a desperate fury, dispute ; his opposers were reproaching his whom he loved with a doting fondness." In friends with his flight, and clamourously vaunt- 1787 he visited England, very much to the suring over them, when Winchester entered with prise, and against the will of his New England a serene countenance, and took his seat. A friends, and there remained, preaching in sudden change came over the assembly ; his various places for the space of six years and friends were relieved from their anxiety, and a half. While there he wrote and published they who had boasted so much in his absence, his “ Dialogues on the Universal Restorafeared to encounter him when present. His tion,” his Lectures on the Prophecies," and astonishing memory, which had already trea- - Five Letters in Reply to Rev. Daniel sured up much of the Scriptures, was well Taylor's Sermon on Endless Misery." known, and his talents as a public speaker In July, 1794, he again arrived in America. undoubted. The vote of the assembly was During this and the succeeding year, he travelthen read, by which the Rev. Mr. Boggs had led in almost all parts of the country, labourbeen selected to dispute with Mr. Winchester. ing under a broken constitution, and an Mr. Boggs then arose, and thus addressed the increasing asthma, which foretold a fatal people: "I am not prepared to dispute with termination. Mr. Winchester. I have heard that he says In October, 1796, he made his first appear. it would take six weeks to canvass all the ance in Hartford, Con.; at the grave of a
guments on both sides; and I sup- young man. The people were assembled pose that he has been studying on the subject around the grave, when they were surprised for a week or more, and I have not studied at at the voice of a stranger, who, unasked, had all.” Discovering that there was to be no taken the freedom to address them on the ocdebate, Mr. Winchester then begged the pri- casion. His language and manner were very vilege of explaining and defending his own affecting, and excited a general wish to hear sentiments, for two hours, and finally for only him again. Accordingly, he gave one or two one hour; but, as might have been anticipated, lectures during the week, and preached the they who dared not meet him on equal ground, next Sunday in the theatre. A respectable dared not allow him to exhibit his strength; congregation was soon gathered, among which his request was wholly refused. They felt, were some gentlemen of influence. however, the necessity of providing some Thus he continued preaching, till about the business worthy of the great preparations that 1st of April, 1797, when he delivered a serhad been made; and accordingly, when one mon, under a strong impression that it was his of the ministers rose and said that their busi- last, from St. Paul's farewell address to the ness was not to debate with Mr. Winchester, elders of the Ephesian Church. but to ask him whether he believed that bad entered his desk again. His death was fast men and angels would finally be restored; approaching, and he contemplated it with serethe rest immediately agreed, and insisted that nity and joy. On the morning of his decease, he the question should be put to him. “Do you requested two or three young ladies, who were believe in Universal Restoration ?" Mr. sitting by him, to join in singing a hymn, obser. Winchester's friends objected to his answer- ving at the same time, that he might expire ing the question, unless he had leave to vin- before it should be finished. He began with dicate his sentiments; but he rose, and them, but his voice soon faltered, and the observing that he feared no use which could torpor of death fell upon him. They were be made of his words, told them plainly, that disconcerted and paused; but he reviving, he did believe the doctrine of Universal Res- encouraged them to proceed, and joined in toration, and was willing to defend it. After the first line of each stanza, till he breathed some conversation, the ministers advised the no more. This was on the 18th of April, church to obtain another pastor; and the 1797, in the 47th year of his age. matter was so managed, that though Mr. His fiineral was attended on the 21st, by a Winchester's adherents were at firsta majority numerous concourse of afflicted friends and of the society, the scale was soon turned sympathizing spectators. The Rev. Dr. Strong against them, and they excluded him from the preached the sermon from Heb. ix. 27, in meeting house.
which, though an opposer of his sentiments, On the 22nd of April, he delivered a sermon he gave Mr. Winchester anexcellent character, in the hall of the Pennsylvania University, and bore a frank testimony !o his final con