“The Unitarian denomination in this country represents the only example in the history of the Church of a sect that deliberately undertook to ignore the question of human destiny. The question came up before the body as early as the days of Dr. Channing and Andrews Norton. These eminent men and their scarcely less eminent confreres took the position that it is an unimportant matter at the best, and that is it impossible to find out any thing definite or satisfactory in relation to it, any way. The Scriptures, they said, are “silent” as to the fate of those who die unregenerate, and it is folly for men to vex themselves with an inquiry that can never result in any thing better than conjecture. Dr. Hedge long ago spoke of Universalism as “a brave hope,” but warned his brethren against exercising any of the courage requisite to avow it. And the official declaration referred to in the preceding note avers: “It is our firm conviction that the final restoration of all men is not revealed in the Scriptures, but that the ultimate fate of the impenitent wicked is left shrouded in impenetrable mystery.” If any policy could have prevailed to keep the controversy out of their communion and preserve them from any effects, good or bad, of the agitation, it would seem that the cautious line marked out by the Unitarian fathers must have secured it. But mark the result. The Unitarian body, ministry and laity, has been carried over, by stress of the compelling interest of the theme, to the ground of universal restoration. The neutrality formerly affected on the subject is now supplanted by a rather coy, but on the whole distinct, affirmation of the “brave hope.” It has been found practically impossible either to evade the discussion of this profoundly interesting question, or to prevent the denomination from drifting into avowed Universalism.”
–I.M. Atwood, The Latest Word in Universalism. Boston: Universalist Publishing House, 1879: x-xi.