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even then he pledged himself not to preach what he believed to be the gospel, nor to introduce it in private conversation, unless he was attacked or requested. Valiant defender of the truth, who, for the sake of a support and influence, would cloak his real sentiments, and not even mention them to his friends! Such a man deserves the scorn of every honest spirit!
Notwithstanding the care of Mr. Winchester and his friends, the thing was noised abroad; and, despite of his attempts at concealment, in April, 1781, he was obliged by the popular voice to avow his real sentiments, and he was, in consequence, excluded from the house he had possessed or retained by his duplicity. On the 22d of the same month he preached his doctrine "plainly for the first time," in the hall of the Pennsylvania University; and he soon gathered round him a society somewhat respectable, as to its numbers and character. (Mod. Hist. Univers., pp. 348-9.) He remained with this congregation until 1787, when he sailed for England, where he remained until 1794. He fled from England to avoid the tyranny of his wife, who declared, both in word and practice, that "she must be a devil and govern." This needless and shameful flight only gives farther evidence of the weakness of the man's mind, and of an indecision of character which marked, but too legibly, his whole course. Mr. Winchester, on his arrival in this country from England, commenced his public labors again principally in New-England, and continued to preach in various places for some time, though not with that success which had formerly marked his course. He closed his career, and his body was committed to the dust, in Hartford, Conn., in 1797.
In the year 1785 a Convention of Universalists was called. It met at Oxford, Mass., on the 14th of September of that year." (Mod. Hist. Univers., p. 364.) Mr. Winchester was chosen moderator, and Daniel Fisk clerk. This convention decided that their sect should be called the "Independent Christian Universalists." They also adopted certain articles of agreement, styled the "Charter of Compact." In this charter they agree to receive Christ as their master, and his word and spirit as their guide; and after various other provisions and declarations, we find the following:"We will, as much as possible, avoid vain jangling and unnecessary disputation." How fully and constantly the sect have adhered to this article, let the files of their Trumpet and Magazine, their Star in the East, their Religious Inquirer, and other papers, as well as the record of their endless controversies, testify. All will prove that there is no sect in the United States so entirely given up to "jangling" and "disputation" as these same Universalists.
The meeting at Oxford resulted in the establishment of the "General Convention of Universalists," which, since that time, has held
It is a fact somewhat interesting, that while the Universalists were holding their jubilee in New-Haven, just fifty years after the convention at Oxford, the Methodists were occupying the Universalist church in Oxford with almost constant meetings. A great revival, at that time, spread through the town; and many, who had long been Universalists, experienced religion, and became members of the church of Christ. Thus, like the new verdure, fresher and more vigorous, God causes the truth to spring up upon the very soil which the fires of error have desolated.
an annual session. This convention appears to have the general oversight of the societies, and provides for the prosperity of the cause; while each society retains, within itself, all authority in its own special affairs. At the meeting of the convention, in 1803, the following profession of faith was adopted, viz. :—
"Art. 1. We believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, contain a revelation of the character of God; and of the duty, interest, and final destination of all mankind.
"Art. 2. We believe that there is one God, whose nature is love, revealed in one Lord Jesus Christ, by one Holy Spirit of grace, who will finally restore the whole human family to holiness and happiness.
"Art. 3. We believe that holiness and true happiness are inseparably connected, and that believers ought to be careful to maintain order and practise good works; for these things are good and profitable unto all men.' ""*
It is, perhaps, unnecessary to particularize in this sketch the various doings of the convention from year to year, as they bear but very little relation to Universalism as a system of theology.
The next movement of considerable importance was the formation of the "Massachusetts Association of Universal Restorationists," which took place in the year 1831, on the 16th of August, at Mendon, Mass. The convention was attended by Rev. Paul Dean, David Pickering, Charles Hudson, Adin Ballou, Lyman Maynard, Nathaniel Wright, Philemon R. Russel, Seth Chandler, and several laymen; and they unanimously adopted the following preamble and resolutions, viz. :—
"Forasmuch as there has been, of late years, a GREAT departure from the sentiments of the first Universalist preachers in this country by a majority of the General Convention, the leaders of which do now arrogate to themselves the name of Universalists; and whereas we believe with Murray, Winchester, Chauncey, and the ancient authors who have written upon this subject, that REGENERATION, A GENERAL JUDGMENT, FUTURE REWARDS AND PUNISHMENTS, to be followed by the final restoration of all mankind to holiness and happiness, are fundamental articles of Christian faith, and that the modern sentiments of No Future accountability, connected with Materialism, are unfriendly to pure religion and subversive of the best interest of society; and whereas our adherence to the doctrines on which the General Convention was first established, instead of producing fair, manly controversy, has procured for us contumely, exclusion from ecclesiastical councils, and final expulsion, and this without proof of any offence on our part against the rules of the order or laws of Christ: it is therefore
"Resolved, That we hereby form ourselves into a religious community for the defence and promulgation of the doctrines of revelation in their original purity, and the promotion of our own improvement, to be known by the name of the Massachusetts Association of Universal Restorationists.
* These articles of faith were drafted by Rev. Walter Ferris, who was a firm believer in the doctrine of limited future punishment. This fact is sufficiently indicative of the intention of the articles, and shows, most conclusively, that they who afterward denied the doctrine of limited future punishment, departed from the system agreed to by the General Convention of 1803.
"Resolved, That the annual meetings of this body be holden in Boston on the first Wednesday and following Thursday in January. Signed, "CHAS. HUDSON, President. "NATH. WRIGHT, Secretary." On the 17th of September, 1831, the Trumpet, the organ of the Ultra-Universalists, as they now very properly began to be denominated, came out with an article entitled "The New Sect," in which sophistry and evasion were mingled with the bitterest reproaches against the Restoration Convention and the gentlemen composing it. This was replied to by Rev. Adin Ballou, in two articles of nearly seven columns of the Independent Messenger, a paper then printed at Mendon, and in the interest of the Restoration party. The warfare was carried on for some time with considerable zeal and skill, and with no little acrimony; until, tired of contention, the parties desisted from farther attempts upon each other's reputation."
The Restorationists, doubtless, had all of justice and right upon their side, and were perfectly consistent and praiseworthy in the formation of their association; while the members of the General Convention cannot be too much censured for their attempts to crush the system which they themselves formerly advocated, while, at the same time, they professed not to have departed from the principles of the Convention of 1803. At the present time the Universalist body is divided into two principal parties, viz.: the Ultra-Universalists, who, following Hosea Ballou, deny the doctrine of punishment after death, &c.; and the Universal Restorationists, who hold to a general judgment, and a limited punishment beyond the grave. The former class is much the most numerous, and includes the larger part of all the societies in America.
The latter community can lay claim to a morality and respectability in their communion of which the other class is generally devoid. It is a fact, too, somewhat interesting, that between the Restorationists and New-England Unitarians there is but a slight difference of sentiment; and both these bodies may, without any great revolution, in the course of a few years be made one.
Universalism has increased considerably in this country since its introduction by Murray. There is not, however, probably a very general organization of churches by this sect. The friends of the system, with some exceptions, are gathered into legal societies, in which the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper are not administered, nor any thing like church discipline executed. There are, however, in some of the principal towns and cities, churches organized, and the ordinances of the church are attended to.
Under such circumstances it is very difficult to determine the num.
It is to this controversy that we are indebted for the means of determining who are Universalists, a question that has sometimes been difficult to solve. The General Convention held its annual session for 1831 in September, one month after the movement at Mendon. Hosea Ballou presided. The Convention was holden at Barre, Vt. Among other proceedings, the following resolution, drafted by Thos. Whittemore, was adopted :
Resolved, That we consider all persons to be Universalists who believe in the final reconciliation of all men to holiness and happiness."
This was, doubtless, designed to conciliate the Restorationists, while it legitimatized Ultraism. Whatever it might have been designed for, it is invaluable; as it marks so legibly, and distinguishes so clearly, Universalists from all others.
ber of Universalists with exactness. They state that they have six hundred and fifty-three societies, two hundred and forty-four meeting-houses, and three hundred and seventeen preachers. In this they are, doubtless, correct. They claim, in addition, that the number of persons connected with them amounts to five hundred thousand. This may be a fair estimate, and it may not. There are, doubtless, many who attend worship among them who are not Universalists in sentiment; and we think it unfair for them to class all persons in their congregations with themselves, while all other sects claim only those who are within the pale of the church, and enjoy its privileges as actual members.
Having thus sketched the secular history of Universalism, we proceed to notice the several treatises on the subject which have appeared in this country. The first, as we have before said, was Seigvolk's Everlasting Gospel, which appeared in 1753, at Germantown, Pa.
The works, also, of Stonehouse have been read in this country somewhat extensively, though, it is believed, in an English edition.
The writings of Elhanan Winchester, particularly his " Dialogues on Universal Restoration," and his "Lectures on the Prophecies," were, at one time, widely circulated, and assisted much toward establishing the sentiments he entertained in the United States; but they have long since ceased to be text-books, and the mantle of oblivion will soon cover them.
Of American productions in favor of this system, the work of Dr. Joseph Young, of New-York, who, in 1793, published a treatise entitled "Calvinism and Universalism Contrasted," claims precedence in the order of time. This same author also wrote a treatise, in which he attempted to refute the physical system of Sir Isaac Newton. Probably one work was written with as much wisdom, and proved quite as successful, as the other. Indeed it would seem, from the statements of the Modern History of Universalism, (page 381,) that the warmth with which the first work was written was its principal recommendation.
The next book claiming our notice is a posthumous publication from the pen of the Rev. Dr. Joseph Huntington, of Coventry, Conn., which was issued from the press of Samuel Green in New-London, in 1796. It was entitled "Calvinism Improved, or the Gospel Illustrated as a System of Real Grace, issuing in the Salvation of All Men." The precise time when this work was written is not known. The author, as appears from the Introduction, intended to publish it soon after its composition, but finally, as the date of the publication shows, he concluded to defer it; and, in the latter part of his days, as those who knew him assure me, he preached the same Calvinistic doctrine which had marked his earlier ministration. He was not even suspected of holding the tenets of his book until after his death, when, in the examination of his papers, the manuscript was found. A Restorationist in the neighborhood earnestly besought the privilege of publishing the book. For a time he was refused, until Mrs. Huntington, overcome by his representations, at last consented; but such was her view of the dangerous tendency of the work, that, with the assistance of her friends, she afterward collected and burned all the copies she could possibly obtain. The design of
Dr. Huntington probably was, that the work should never appear; but his name, by the importunity of a misguided man, has been branded with the effects of his work. He attempts to show in his book. simply this that the decree of election embraces all men, and, consequently, all will be saved. The book probably never had a great influence, and will never be called from its resting-place into use. It is a dry work, wearying us by its prolixity, as well as by its uninteresting style.
The book of Dr. Huntington was reviewed, in a short time after its publication, by Rev. Nathan Strong, of Hartford, Conn., in a treatise entitled, "The Doctrine of Eternal Misery reconcileable with the Benevolence of God, and a Truth plainly asserted in the Scriptures."
This was, in its turn, subjected to the ordeal of criticism by Rev. Dan Foster, A. M., of Charlestown, N. H. His book bore the name of "A Critical and Candid Examination of a late publication, entitled, The Doctrine of Eternal Misery reconcileable with the Infinite Benevolence of God."
From what can be learned of the review and reply, they are neither of them of high merit. Both have long since gone out of notice.
Another author, more eminent than those above named, has also contributed his mite to the support of the system. Dr. Charles Chauncey, at the time pastor of the First Congregational Church in Boston, about the year 1757, wrote a work in defence of the doctrine of Universal Restoration. He did not dare to publish it, however, for some time. Like Murray before him, he felt the weight of the motive which a good salary, an easy situation, and a large circle of friends afforded; and these he would not sacrifice for the truth. He published, however, in 1782, a pamphlet, the object of which was to sound the public on the subject, so as to ascertain whether it would be prudent to affix his name to his larger work.
Dr. Samuel Mather, of Boston, and Dr. Gordon, of Roxbury, both attacked the pamphlet, and the whole tide of public feeling turned against it. This settled the question in the mind of Chauncey, and he determined not to send out his work in his own name, nor from an American press. But still, the loss of so great a literary labor seemed too much, and, accordingly, the doctor sent his work to London, where it appeared anonymously in 1784. The younger President Edwards came out with a reply, entitled, "The Salvation of All Men Strictly Examined," &c. This is the ablest of all the early works against Universalism. It is unanswered and unanswerable, and forms a most valuable addition to the library of the theological student.
There seems to have been a period of some years, just subsequent to 1786, in which few if any authors favored the world with the result of their lucubrations upon this subject. In latter times, however, many books have been published on all sides of the question, and the doctrine is undergoing, with many, a most thorough investigation.
Hosea Ballou stands at the head of modern Universalist authors by general consent. He has written a "Treatise on the Atonement," several volumes of sermons, and, lately, "An Examination of the
VOL. VIII.-October, 1837. 34