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the Rev. S. C. Thacher, in which he By the time this controversy subsided, charges the Panoplist with the attempt to the Orthodox and Unitarian Congrega. fasten on the Unitarians of this country tionalists were found to constitute two disall the odium of Mr. Belsham's peculiar tinct bodies. The ministers of both divi. views, and replies to what he conceived to sions, however, in Massachusetts, still an. be other misrepresentations of the re- nually met in convention as Congregaviewer, particularly to the accusation of tionalists, a name which belongs equally hypocritical concealment, brought against to both, but have, elsewhere, little religious the Unitarians. Several pamphlets were fellowship or communion. written in this controversy by Dr. Chan- Such is the origin and history, so far as ning, Dr. Samuel Worcester, of Salem, they can be given here, of the American and some others, mostly in 1815. Unitarians, viewed as constituting a dis.
The tendency of this controversy was tinct class or denomination of Christians. to draw a sharp and distinct line between They are mostly the descendants of the the parties. The Panoplist had urged on old Congregationalists of New England, the Orthodox the necessity of a separation and are still Congregationalists, the forms “ in worship and communion from Uni- of which they value for what they regard tarians." From that time the exchange as their scriptural simplicity, as well as of pulpits between the clergymen of oriho- from many ancestral associations. dox and liberal denominations, in a great measure, ceased, though all were not pre
STATISTICS. pared for this decided step. Many con. gregations were much divided in opinion ;
It is difficult to estimate the number of a separation was viewed by many as a Unitarians in the United States ; and of great evil; many were strongly opposed their character for intelligence, piety, and to it, but it now became inevitable. benevolence, it does not become us, in the
The Unitarian controversy, strictly so present article, to speak. When they called, brought up the question of the have no separate place of worship, they rights of churches and parishes, respect. continue in many instances united in wor. ively, in the settlement of a minister. ship with orthodox societies. From the Before the excitement on this subject had Fifteenth Report of the Executive Com. subsided, another controvery arose, occa
mittee of the American Unitarian Assosioned by Dr. Channing's sermon, preach- ciation (May, 1840,) it appears that the cd at Baltimore, at the ordination of Mr. number of religious societies and churches Sparks.
professedly Unitarian, in Massachusetts, This controversy embraced the doc. was then 150; in Maine, 15; in New trine of the Trinity, and the doctrines of Hampshire, 19; and out of New England, Calvinism generally, all of which were 36. The number has since increased, subjected to a very thorough discussion. and is now estimated in all about 300. Professor Stuart, of Andover, appeared in These are Congregational Unitarians, to defence of the Trinity, and Mr. Andrews whom this article refers. The same docuNorton in opposition to it, in an article in ment assigns to the denomination called the Christian Examiner, subsequently en Christians, (who are also Unitarians,) in larged and published in a separate volume, 1833, 700 ministers, 1000 churches, from under the title, “ A Statement of Reasons 75,000 to 100,000 communicants, and for not believing the Doctrine of Trini. from 250,000 to 300,000 worshippers. tarians, concerning the Nature of God, Besides the Congregational Unitarians, it and the Person of Christ.” Dr. Woods, is computed that there are now in the of Andover, defended the doctrines of Cal. United States, about 2,000 congregations vinism, and Dr. Ware, of Harvard Uni- of Unitarians, chiefly of the sect called versity, replied. There were several re- Christians, Universalists, and Friends or plications and rejoinders on both sides. A Quakers, discussion was at the same time going
on Among the periodicals which utter Unibetween Mr. Sparks of Baltimore, and Dr. tarian sentiments, at the present time, are Miller, of Princeton.
the Christian Register, a weekly paper,
commenced in Boston, in 1822; the Month- , after which various topics are discussed in ly Miscellany of Religion and Letters, a speeches or addresses. The Association, monthly publication in Boston, commenced through its Executive Committee, issues in 1829; and the Christian Examiner. tracts monthly, of which the 16th volume The latter was originally issued under the is now in the course of publication. name of the Christian Disciple, a monthly It furnishes temporary aid to small and publication, commenced at Boston in 1813, destitute societies, and does something for under the superintendence of the late Dr. domestic missions, particularly in the Noah Worcester. It continued under his Western States. There is also a Book and charge until 1819, when a new series was Pamphlet Society, not under the control commenced under different editors. This of the Association, but which co-operates, series terminated with the fifth volume, at in some measure, with it, and distributes the end of 1823. The work then took a large number of books and tracts. the name of the Christian Examiner, which The last annual report of the Associais still continued, a number being issued tion speaks of the condition and prospects every two months, the 34th volume being of the denomination, as in a high degree now in the course of publication. This encouraging. Societies, it affirms, arc work, which combines literature with theo multiplying in New England, and in va. logy, has always sustained a high reputa- rious parts of the South and West. If the tion for learning and ability,-nearly all spirit of active controversy in the sect is the more eminent Unitarians of the day passing away, as some think, the importhaving been, at different times, numbered ance of a living, practical faith, and an among its contributors.
earnest piety, was never more deeply felt. The American Unitarian Association The present year, active efforts have been was founded in Boston, in 1825. An ex- made, and not wholly in vain, to raise tensive correspondence is carried on, and funds to meet the wants of the denomina. other business transacted by the general tion, especially to educate young men for secretary of the Association ; and there the ministry, to assist destitute societies, are now several auxiliaries in different and support missionaries; in different ways parts of the United States.
to promote the cause of spiritual Chris. The Association holds its annual meet. tianity, and aid in building up the kingdom ings at Boston, in May of each year, at of the Redeemer in the world. which the report of the secretary is read,
BY THE REV. A. B. GROSH, UTICA, N. Y.
SUCH is the general and approved name | city. of that denomination of Christians, which is distinguished for believing that God will finally save all mankind from sin and death, and make all intelligences holy and happy by and through the mediation of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. Anciently, believers in this sentiment were called by its opposers, "Merciful Doctors ;" and at a later day, "Hell-Redemptionists" and "Restorationers;" and within a few years past, efforts have been made to create a distinction among them, by classing them as "Restorationists" and "Ultra-Universalists;"-but the denomination itself, though composed of all classes thus attempted to be distinguished and divided off, claims for itself the sole name of UNIVERSALIST, and disclaims any other distinctive title by which to be designated. The great general sentiment of the final, universal salvation of all moral beings from sin and death, in which this denomination is united, and by which it is distinguished, is termed Universalism; or, sometimes, by way of varying the phrase ology, "the Abrahamic faith;" because it is the gospel that was declared to Abraham-or, sometimes, "the Restitution," or, "the Restitution of all things," &c. But that the reader may have as full information of this denomination and its faith, as the limits of this work will permit, I will etate-First, the history of the sentiment peculiar to it. Second, the rise, progress, present condition, and prospects of the denomination in its collective capa
Third, a brief summary of the general views held by Universalists, and the principle scriptures on which they rely for support.
I. THE HISTORY OF THE SENTIMENT,
The first intimation of God's purpose to destroy the cause of moral evil, and restore man to purity and happiness, is contained in the promise that the serpent, (which represents the origin and cause of sin,) after bruising man's heel, (a curable injury of the most inferior portion of humanity,) should have its head bruised by the woman's Seed. (Genesis iii. 15.) A bruise of the head is death to the serpent, (and to what that reptile represents ;) and the destruction being effected by the Seed of the woman, shows man's final and complete deliverance from, and triumph over, all evil. In accordance with the idea conveyed by representing man's heel only, as being bruised, is the limitation of the punishment divinely pronounced on the first pair of transgressors, to the duration of their earthly lives-(Genesis iii. 17, 19)—and the total absence of every thing like even a hint, that God would punish Cain, or Lamech, or the antediluvians, with an infinite or endless penalty-and the institution of temporal punishment only, in the law given by Moses. And the intimation of the final, total destruction of the very cause of moral evil, and of all
its works or effects, (or all sin,) is further |
This brief intimation of the ultimate destruction of evil, and man's salvation therefrom, grew into that divine promise to Abraham and his descendants, which the apostle Paul expressly calls "the gospel," viz., that in Abraham and his seed, (which seed is Jesus Christ,) “shall all the families," "all the nations," and "all kindreds of the earth be blessed"-by being "turned away every one from iniquity," and by being "justified (i. e. made just) by faith." (Compare Genesis xii. 3, xviii. 18, xxii. 18, and xxvi. 4, with Acts iii. 25, 26, and Galatians iii. 8.) Christ being a spiritual Prince, and a spiritual Saviour only, and this gospel being a spiritual promise; of course the blessings promised to all, in Christ, will be spiritual also, and not merely temporal. For all that are blessed in Christ, are to be new creatures. (2 Cor. v. 17.) Accordingly we find this solemn, oath-confirmed promise of Godthis "gospel preached before due time to Abraham"-made the basis and subject of almost every prophecy relating to the ultimate prevalence, and universal, endless triumph of God's moral dominion under the mediatorial reign of Jesus Christ.
pectively final, spiritual and internal subjection that is meant-" for we see not yet all things put under him," &c. (Heb. ii. 8, 9.) And in 1 Cor. xv. 2428, this subjection is represented as taking place after all opposing powers are put down, and the last enemy is destroyed-and it is connected with the subjection of all alike unto Jesus, and of Jesus unto God, and is declared to be, that God may be all that is in all ;—thus most emphatically and conclusively showing that nothing but a thorough, spiritual subjection of the whole soul to God can be intended. And that it is to be strictly universal, is evident, also, from the 27th verse, where God is expressly named as the only being in the universe who will not be subjected to the moral dominion of Jesus-thus agreeing with the testimony of Hebrews ii. 8, before quoted. Again: the promise of universal blessedness in the gospel, under the figure of a feast for all people, made on Mount Zion, and the swallowing up of death in victory, recorded in Isaiah xxv. 6-8, is very positively applied by the Apostle Paul to the resurrection of all men to immortality-thus showing its universality, its spirituality, and its endlessness. (See 1 Cor. xv. 54.) And again; in Isaiah lv. 10, 11, God gives a pledge that his word will more certainly accomplish all it is sent to perform, than will his natural agents perform their mission. In Isa. xlv. 22-24, he informs us that the mission of his word is, to make every knee bow, and every tongue swear allegiance, and surely say that in the Lord each one has righteousness and strength. The apostle to the Gentiles, in speaking of the flesh-embodied Word of God, Jesus of Nazareth, in a very emphatic manner confirmed the absolute universality of this promise, by declaring that it included all in heaven, and in earth, and under the earth, in its promise of final salvation, by gathering them into Christ. (See Phil. ii. 9-11.) This acknowledg. ment of Jesus, as universal Lord or owner, is to be made by the influence of the Holy Spirit-(1 Cor. xii. 3; and Rom. xiv. 8,
But if we would obtain a more perfect understanding of those prophetic promises, we must examine them in connexion with the expositions given of their meaning, by the Saviour and his apostles, in the New Testament. One or two examples are all that can be given here. The subjugation of all things to the dominion of man, (Ps. viii. 5, 6,) is expressly applied to the spiritual subjugation of all souls to Jesus, by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, who declares it a universal subjection; ("for in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under • The word "one" being in italics, was suphim;") and that it is not the present phy-plied by the translators, and is no part of the sical or external subjection, but the pros-original scripture
9, compared with John vi. 37–39, and most learned and illustrious man before Phil. ii. 21)—and is called reconciliation, Origen ; 185, Origen, the light of the without which, indeed, it could not be a Church in his day, whose reputation for true spiritual subjection and allegiance. | learning and sanctity gave rise to many (Col. i. 19, 20; and Eph. i. 8-10.) followers, and finally a great party, in the
Thus have we very briefly traced the Christian Church, the most of whom (if rise and gradual development of the doc- not all) were decided believers and advo. trine of universal salvation, from its first cates of Universalism. Among these we intimation down to its full and clear ex. will merely name, (for we have no room position ;-thus proving that it is, indeed, for remarks,) Marcellus, Bishop of Ancyra, “ the restitution of all things, which God and Titus, Bishop of Bostra ; A. D. 360, hath spoken by the mouths of all his holy Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, and Gregory prophets, since the world began"—(Acts Nazianzen, Archbishop of Constantinople; iii
. 21)—and the gospel which God “hath 380, Theodore, Bishop of Mopsuestia, and in these last days spoken unto us by his Fabius Manus Victorinus; A. D. 390, the Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all Origenists, the Gnostics, and the Manithings." This gospel of the great salva. cheans generally held it about this time, tion, so abundantly testified to by the and many eminent fathers whom we have apostles of the Saviour, was undoubtedly not room to particularize. Those we have the faith of the primitive churches. True, named quoted the same texts, and used other matters more directly engaged the many of the arguments in proof of the preaching and controversies of the early doctrine, that are now urged by Univerteachers; for both Jews and Gentiles de salists. And it is a remark-worthy fact, nied that Jesus was a divinely commis that the Greek Fathers who wrote against sioned teacher, and that he rose from the endless misery, and in favor of Univerdead after his crucifixion and burial—and salism, nevertheless used the Greek word many also denied the resurrection of the aion and its derivatives, (rendered ever, dead in general. But it is a fact clearly for ever, everlasting, and eternal, in our stated on the page of ecclesiastical history, common English version of the Bible,) to and proved by the writings of the early express the duration of punishment, which Fathers themselves, that the doctrine of they stated to be limited—thus proving universal salvation was held, without any that the ancient ineaning of these words directly counter sentiment being taught, was not endless duration when applied to until the days of Tertullian, in A. D. 204; sin and suffering. For instances, with reand that Tertullian himself was the first ference to author and page, see the “ An. Christian writer now known, who as- cient History of Universalism, by the Rev. serted the doctrine of the absolute eternity H. Ballou 2d” from which the foregoing of hell-torments, or, that the punishment very condensed statement is extracted. of the wicked and the happiness of the After existing unmolested, in fact, after saints were equal in duration. Nor was being the prevailing sentiment of the there any opposition to the doctrine of Christian Church, for nearly 500 years, universal salvation, until long after the especially of that portion of the Church days of Origen, (about A. D. 394,)—nor nearest Judea, and therefore most under was it ever declared 'a heresy by the the influence imparted by the personal disChurch in general, until as late as the ciples of the Lord Jesus - Universalism year 553, when the fifth General Council was at last put down, as its Great Teacher thus declared it false. But that the reader had been before it, by human force and may have names and dates, we will here authority. From the fifth General Coun. name a few of the most eminent Fathers, cil, in A. D. 553, we may trace the rapid with the date of their greatest fame, who decline of pure Christianity. During all openly avowed and publicly taught the the dark ages of rapine, blood and cruelty, doctrine of Universalism.
Universalism was unknown in theory as A. D. 140, the authors of the Sibylline it was in practice; and the doctrine of Oracles; 190, Clement, President of the ceaseless sin and suffering prevailed withCatechetical School at Alexandria, the lout a rival. But no sooner was the Re.