“Ours was the first Christian body in America to set forth the new philosophy of Christianity, which conceives of the soul as set in this world, not to be tested by a fixed law, but to find its destiny in a true freedom; which begins and ends in the idea of the sovereignty of love; which sees in the moral creation not a scheme merely to give every may his deserts, but a system whose aim is to help every man to realize his true destiny. Such is the theology for which this church has stood, in which it has been faithfully taught from the beginning. And I would that as we study it and realize its essential harmony with itself, with the unfolded teachings of science, and with the trend and spirit of the Bible, we might raise a fervent prayer of gratitude to God for the light which shone in the hearts of the fathers and gave them power to see and to say the things which are giving such peace and satisfaction to the human soul.”
–Rev. John Coleman Adams, The Story of Universalism in Hartford, 1906.
“Though there be that are called Gods whether in heaven or in earth as there be gods many and lords many, yet to us there is but one God the Father of whom are all things and we in him. That God is love, good unto all, and his tender mercies are all over his works, that he is a just God and a Savior who will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, that he worketh all things after the council of his own will and that all his attributes harmonize. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ. . . that God hath given all things into his hand even power over all flesh that he should give eternal life to as many as the Father hath given him. That all that the Father giveth him shall so come to him as not to be cast out. . . that the ransomed universe shall at last unite in the song of Moses and the Lamb in ascribing blessing and honor and glory and power unto God and the Lamb forever and ever. This is the doctrine I believe and glory in, it is worthy of its divine author and by promulgating this you say that I am preaching the devils doctrine and preventing the salvation of souls. Now I beseech you never to think so again or acknowledge while holding the doctrine of Election that man can prevent the salvation of souls for it is wholly inconsistent with a belief that doctrine according to my view of the subject. Now if this doctrine of the Election of a part of mankind be the truth of God how can you call him impartial or just or good or merciful in giving being to those that are lost. Do think of these things solemnly seriously and constantly for if the doctrine of eternal misery be true I beseech you as a father never to give your consent that either of your dear children should marry, nay farther than this you should separate those what are married and do all in your power to prevent so great an evil from falling upon any of your posterity.”
–Rebecca Porter, Letter to the clerk of the Baptised Church of Christ in Hartford, 1827.
“The gospel is the dynamite of God. And some people don’t like dynamite. They think that a sermon aimed at correcting the evils and social injustices of our common life, and any social action by the Church to right the wrongs of today, is taking religion out of its proper sphere, and is not truly Christian. It should be concerned with individual salvation.”
–Rev. Stanley Manning, ca. 1940
“[Universalism is] a faith springing out of the moral and spiritual instincts of the human soul, and declaring itself in statements that may be changed and that should be changed as the reason of men follows the ever unfolding truth of God and Christianized conscience grows freshly sensitive to ever nobler ideals of religious living. . . I believe, for example, that evolution, whether in the world of nature or of man, is the method of God. But that is not an article of my religious belief. I believe that the book of Isaiah had at least two authors and that Genesis is a compilation, much of it legend and tradition recreated by the spirit of man as touched by the spirit of God. But that is not an article of my religious belief. . .
The heretic, to the Universalist, is not the man who denies the accuracy of a method of creation portrayed in the book of Genesis; he is the one who distrusts the deathless love of God. . . for the child whom He has somehow created. He is not the one who denies the metaphysics of the doctrine of the Trinity, but the one who denies at heart Christ’s ethical oneness with God by willfully ignoring his teachings and life. . . It is the depth and earnestness of the religion, and not the correctness of the scholarship, that is of primary concern.
–Rev. Frederic Williams Perkins, “Why I am a Universalist.” Boston: Universalist Publishing House, 1900.
“In the afternoon I preached [on] the uses of the communion. . . The administration of the Lord’s supper followed, which was a deeply interesting time. These seasons of communion are the most happy of my life; nothing penetrates more deeply towards the centre of my moral being, or carries me so far out of myself and into the blessed realities of true spiritual life.”
–Rev. Henry Soule, ca. 1847
“If, therefore, the world is to end in 1843, or any subsequent period, we have no evidence for believing that any one has been ‘let into the secret’ as to the precise time; neither is it at all certain that the scriptures used by Mr. Miller and others, to support their visionary theory, have any sort of reference to the subjects to which they apply them.
The better way is, for people to attend to the concerns of today, of the present; ‘do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly;’ ‘lead a quiet and peaceful life, in all godliness and honesty;’ give heed to the internal coming and kingdom of Christ, and not be in a worry about the ‘end of the world,’ or about the day or manner of our death.”
–Rev. John Moore, 1843
“As the telling of those we love the faults we discover in them is a painful as well as an unthankful duty, we must be excused, for the present, after we have named one more fault, the correction of which would do them great honor. Among those commendable things which were named, in approbation of our Unitarian brethren, the hearer will recollect their liberality towards those Christians who differ from them in opinions. They have been laboring with all their Christian meekness, for years, to persuade their Orthodox opposers to extend to them the right hand of Christian fellowship, and to consent to reciprocate ministerial exchanges. We have read their learned and forcible arguments in favor of this brotherly practice; and we have also read what their Orthodox opposers have urged against it; and we are fully satisfied that our Unitarian brethren have, in reality, the best of the argument. Now, if the profession of liberality, without the practice, could make these brethren rich in the righteousness of God, the angels of heaven might envy their attainments! Will they exchange desks with Universalists? By no means. What is the reason? Because in some points of doctrine we do not come exactly to their views. As to doctrine generally, they will allow that we are much nearer them than are their Orthodox brethren, whom they are constantly inviting to exchange! Now, if they, like the Orthodox, were conscientious in refusing to exchange desks with those who hold doctrines opposed to their own, then would they act according to their profession, and would be consistent with themselves. But how are they to be justified in making those pretensions to liberality, while in fact it is not real? Is this Christianity? Is this genuine honesty?
–Rev. Hosea Ballou, “Commendation and Reproof to Unitarians,” November 29, 1829.
“Ye that are and dare to be Universalists–ye that would be Universalists, but dare not–ye that are Universalists at heart, but outwardly, ye go another way, to be seen of men, (a class innumerable)–ye that are willing to be a Universalist is ye can see the why and the wherefore (a noble class)–come–come–take the ‘Inquirer’–and we will show you the reason for the Faith that is in us. THE BOOK IS NOW OPENED, come let us search it together, that we may see and know the wonderful things that are truly given to us of God. . . Here we are, single-handed, and alone, not only in the City, but in the state, trammeled by no human systems, but devoted to the great cause of liberal principles and free enquiry. Whilst, right around us, are no less than three Orthodox papers, all fighting for their ‘Almighty Devil’ and ‘eternal Hell’. . .
But few now believe in INNATE TOTAL DEPRAVITY. The Calvinists give that up, if we may rely upon their latest bulletins; and scarcely a soul now credits the damnation of infants–when but a few years ago Hell was said to be paved with their skulls. . . And many good Orthodox people have gone so far as to doubt the existence of a real material devil. . . Thus we see that the hydra of error and ecclesiastical delusion is fast losing his heads. . .
–Rev. Menzies Rayner, The Religious Inquirer, 1828
“It is probably the fortune or misfortune of all newly organized christian communities, to win to their ranks the most discordant materials, and the most eccentric characters. The nucleus being once formed and put in motion, seems to attract nearly every particle floating in moral space, however unlike itself–if in some one particular, there exists a common element. Hence it follows, that in process of time a separation takes place–the discrepancies becoming more obvious, and the impossibility of acting in concert felt by all parties. . .”
–Rev. Stephen R. Smith, 1843.
“Acknowledging Jesus Christ to be the Head of the Church, and submitting ourselves unto him as such, we do hereby, as before him, agree to meet to worship together on the first day of the week, for the public worship of God, the breaking of bread, the reading of the scriptures, and the preaching of the gospel; that we may render becoming homage to our Creator, enliven our faith, improve ourselves in holiness, and strengthen our fellowship with each other; and that we may assist in bringing up the youth in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, in making them acquainted with the Scriptures, and inspiring them with the love of virtue.
We will endeavor to abstain from every vice, and faithfully to practise all the virtues of the christian religion. As far as in us lieth, we will live peaceably with all men.
And now, commending ourselves and all mankind unto God, to whom we are responsible, and on whom we are entirely dependent for all that light, wisdom and direction which we need, we pray that he would be pleased to make additions to the Church of such as shall be saved from the evil that is in the world by believing and obeying the truth as it is in the gospel of his Son; and that, by his grace, he would enable us, in all things, to conduct according to our christian profession.”
–Uniting Compact of the 1st Independent Universalist Church in Hartford, 1825.