Essential Principles of Christian Universalism
In 1878, a group of Universalist ministers in Boston, (which
included A.A. Miner, T. J. Sawyer, C. R. Moor, O. F. Safford, and A. St. John
Chambre, and others) prepared a statement which intended to embrace essential
principles held in common by the Universalist ministers generally. This
We, the Universalist ministers of Boston and vicinity,
observing the widespread agitation in the religious world with respect to
the final destiny of our race, and more especially of those who die in
impenitence and sin, and desirous that our views on this important subject
should not be misunderstood, after much earnest thought and prayerful
consideration present the following, not by any means as a full statement
of our faith, but as indicating its general character:
We reverently and devoutly accept the Holy
Scriptures as containing a revelation of the character of God and of
the eternal principles of his moral government.
As holiness and happiness are inseparably
connected, so we believe that all sin is accompanied and followed by
misery, it being a fixed principle in the divine government that God
renders to every man according to his works, so that "though hand join
in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished."
Guided by the express teachings of revelation, we
recognize God not only as our King and Judge, but also as our gracious
Father, who doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men;
but though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to
the multitude of his mercies.
We believe that divine justice, born of love and
limited by love, primarily requires "love to God with all the soul,"
and to one's neighbor as one's self. Till these requisitions are
obeyed, justice administers such discipline, including both
chastisement and instruction, and for as long a period, as may be
necessary to secure that obedience which it ever demands. Hence it
never accepts hatred for love, nor suffering for loyalty, but
uniformly and forever preserves its aim.
We believe that the salvation Christ came to effect
is salvation from sin rather than from the punishment of sin, and that
he must continue his work till he has put all enemies under his feet,
that is, brought them in complete subjection to his law.
We believe that repentance and salvation are not
limited to this life. Whenever and wherever the sinner truly turns to
God, salvation will be found. God is "the same yesterday, today, and
forever," and the obedience of his children is ever welcome to him.
To limit the saving power of Christ to this present
life seems to us like limiting the Holy One of Israel; and when we
consider how many millions lived and died before Christ came, and how
many since, who not only never heard his name, but were ignorant of
the one living God, we shudder at the thought that his infinite love
should have made no provision for their welfare, and left them to
annihilation, or, what is worse, endless misery. And it is but little
better with myriads born in Christian lands, whose opportunities have
been so meager that their endless damnation would be an act of such
manifest injustice as to be in the highest degree inconsistent with
the benevolent character of God.
In respect to death we believe that, however
important it may be in removing manifold temptations and opening the
way to a better life, and however, like other great events, it may
profoundly influence man, it has no saving power. Salvation, secured
in the willing mind by the agencies of divine truth, light, and love,
essentially represented in Christ -- whether effected here or in the
future life -- is salvation by Christ, and gives no warrant to the
imputation to us of the "death-and-glory" theory, alike repudiated by
Whatever differences in regard to the future may
exist among us, none of us believe that the horizon of eternity will
be relatively either largely or for a long time overcast by the clouds
of sin and punishment, and in coming into the enjoyment of salvation,
whensoever that may be, all the elements of penitence, forgiveness,
and regeneration are involved. Justice and mercy will then be seen to
be entirely at one, and God be all in all.