Universalist Quote of the Day #50

“As an author, lecturer, and reformer, [Ralph Waldo Emerson] has made an indelible impression on the minds of men during the last half century.  The foremost thinkers acknowledged their indebtedness to him.  It his earlier days many of his statements indicated pantheistic opinions.  His discourse before the Divinity School in Harvard University in 1838–so clearly and ably replied to be Rev. Dr. Ware–seemed a singular questioning of the personality of God, and his statements in reference to the personal immortality of the soul hardly a strong Christian hope of this blessing.  But in his later expression of opinion we are differently taught.  His biographer says of him: ‘He is not a sceptic or a rationalist in the philosophic sense; and has no real affinity with any of these schools of thought.’  His own words, indicative of the Deity, are: ‘Nature is too thin a screen; the glory of the Creator breaks in everywhere.  There is no chance, no anarchy in the universe.’  Of the divine beneficence he says, ‘We see the steady aim of benefit in view of the first.  Melioration is the law.  The evils we suffer will at last end themselves, through the insistence opposition of Nature to everything hurtful.’  And of immortality, ‘All great natures delight in stability; all great men find eternity affirmed in the very promise of their faculties.  The being that can share a thought and a feeling so sublime as confidence in truth is no mushroom; our dissatisfaction with any other solution is the blazing evidence of immortality.’  And of the divine ruling: ‘Every wrong is punished; no moral evil can prosper at last; the good is absolute, the evil only phenomenal.’  And of the significance of Christ, this language is emphatic: ‘You must not leave out the word Christian, for to leave out that is to leave out everything.’

All these declarations, as we apprehend them, are in perfect accord with the teaching, spirit and assurance of Universalism of the New Testament.  In the grandest conceptions to which their author has given utterance, we know of nothing that reaches beyond this, and it is for this that we welcome him as a witness to the truth of the Christian Gospel.”

–John G. Adams, Fifty Notable Years: Views of the Ministry of Christian Universalism During the Last Half-Century. With Biographical Sketches.  Boston: Universalist Publishing House, 1882: 48-49.

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