The following is from the "Universalist's Book of Reference", written by Rev. E. E. Guild in 1853.
Facts in relation to the History of Universalism.
From the time of the death of the apostle John, which
happened about A. D. 100, to the year 150, the history of opinions entertained by Christians respecting the final
destiny of the human race, is involved in much obscurity. But little is known except that the doctrine of the final
happiness of all men was held by the different sects of Gnostics, viz., the Basilidians, the Carpocratians, and the
Valentinians. And although these sects were regarded as heretics by the orthodox fathers, and although these fathers
"warmly and bitterly attacked their respective systems in general," yet, "it does not appear that they ever selected
the particular tenet of the salvation of all souls as obnoxious."
In the year 140, or 150, a belief in Universalism was distinctly avowed in a work, which was the production
of some Christian or Christians, called the Sibylline Oracles."
Of the orthodox fathers, who lived between 150 and 210, some believed in Universalism, while others held
to the doctrine of endless misery. "This diversity of opinion, however, occasioned no divisions, no controversies
nor contentions among them; and both sentiments existed together in the church without reproach."
From the year 230 to 553, Universalism was believed and advocated by a number of the most learned, pious
and distinguished fathers that the church ever produced.
Tertullian, a presbyter of Carthage, in Africa, was the first Christian writer who asserted and maintained the
doctrine that the misery of the wicked will be of equal duration with the happiness of the righteous. This doctrine
he defended in a work published by him in the year 204.
Universalism was never condemned by any Christian writer, either orthodox or heretic, till the year 394.
"In the year 394 a quarrel broke out between the followers of the celebrated Origen and their opponents, in
which some of the latter attacked, for the first time, the particular tenet of the ultimate salvation of the devil, but
did not at first object to the final salvation of all men.
"In 399, some of the councils that were convened against the Origenists, condemned expressly the doctrine
of the salvation of the Devil and his angels, though they passed by the belief of the salvation of all mankind
without a censure."
Universalism was not officially condemned by the church until the Fifth General Council, which was held at
Constantinople in the year 553. See "Ancient History of Universalism," and "Plain guide to Universalism."
Notwithstanding this authoritative condemnation of Universalism, the doctrine still continued to be held and
maintained in the church until the establishment of Popery.
From the time of the condemnation of Universalism by the Fifth General Council, the church gradually sunk
into ignorance, superstition, and moral darkness, until at last spiritual despotism and tyranny reigned triumphant.
From the time of the breaking out of the Protestant Reformation to the present time, Universalism has been
believed and advocated by some of the most distinguished divines, theologians and philosophers, of all the different
prominent sects in Christendom.
The Manicheans, a very powerful and influential sect, which flourished from the year 265 even to the time
of the Reformation, held the doctrine of Universalism.
During the reign of Popery, Universalism was held by the Albanenses, the Albigenses, the Waldenses, the
Paulicians, and the Lollards. It is thought that these sects all descended from the Manicheans. Neither of them ever
submitted to or acknowledged the authority of the Pope.
Universalists, as a distinct denomination, were known in England as early as 1770.
The first Universalist preacher in the United States was Dr. George De Benneville. He came to this country
The first Universalist society in the United states was formed between the years 1771 and 1780.
The first Universalist paper was published in England in 1793.
The first Universalist paper in the United States was published at Boston, Mass., in 1802. The first weekly
paper was commenced in 1819.
The General Convention of Universalists of the United States was formed in 1785.