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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 embraced essential principles held in common by the Universalist ministers generally. This statement was:

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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."

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 all.

  9. 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.