21 June 2009

Matthew Hale Smith's Anti-Universalist Rant, 1840

The following are the quotations I took while reading a hugely nasty book called Universalism Not of God, by Matthew Hale Smith, published in 1840 by the American Tract Society.

The author was a Universalist minister for about ten years, from 1830 to 1840, before he wrote this book.

I am interested in Universalist history and I have a copy of this book in my collection since it is relevant to the topic. (I do not agree with the anti-Universalist sentiments expressed in this book.)

My notes begin on page 171 because the only portion of the book that really interested me was the portion concerning the author's experiences with Universalism and Universalists. These are all direct quotes from the book; quotation marks are the author's.

I am posting these notes now because I plan to post my notes from another anti-Universalist book (
Man of Sorrows, by William Jackson, 4th edition, 1843) that briefly refer to this book.

pg 171, Universalists do not observe the sabbath. Officers of Universalist churches work on the sabbath on the principle that the sabbath is a human institution.

pg 172, The present development of the fruit of Universalism is that of Atheistic philosophy. Some of the most popular preachers are taking grounds against the character of God.

pg 173, Churches are not general among Universalists. Many prominent Universalists deny them altogether. Hosea Ballou II says that "two thirds of all the societies in the denomination are destitute of churches." Few join them when formed. A Universalist in Salem said to me that "if he should unite with the church, it would be carrying the joke too far."

pg 173, Abel C. Thomas has challenged any leading Universalist to prove that the Lord's Supper was to endure after the destruction of Jerusalem.

pg 174, There meet at a Universalist table, the Atheist, the Deist, the profane, the gambler, the drinker, and the adulterer. A professed Atheist, a member of a Universalist church in Boston, was in the habit of attending his meeting in the forenoon, and Mr. Kneeland's [another Atheist] in the afternoon.

pg 174–5, In my [Universalist] parish at Hartford, Connecticut, a lady presented herself to me for admission to the church. As she was one of the most active women in the society, I asked why she had never before joined. She replied that only one thing had prevented, and she did not know but now it would stand in her way. It was this: she did not believe in Jesus Christ.

pg 175, In a town in Rhode Island the Universalists have communion service once or twice a year. At such times the elements are passed to the whole congregation indiscriminantly.

pg 175, Universalism embraces men who have openly avowed their unbelief in parts of the Bible, and some of have announced they have no confidence in the sacred book.

pg 176, Hosea Ballou was called an Infidel by John Murray, and a Deist by Mitchel [a Murray Universalist].

pg 176, Universalists make the bible a mere textbook of Atheism or Deism.

pg 177, Some preachers of Universalism have explained away and rejected the whole bible and yet been none the less popular or successful as ministers at the altar.

pg 178, Orestes A. Brownson, who for many years was editor of a Universalist paper, says that out of twenty-five hundred subscribers, more than half were skeptics.

pg 178, Universalist meeting houses are open to infidels to lecture in. The Clinton Liberal Institute, the only institution of learning the sect have ever sustained, is essentially infidel.

pg 178–9, The Clinton Liberal Institute was founded and funded by Universalist ministers, yet no form of religion can ever be introduced into the reading of the school. Neither public prayer nor reading of the bible as an act of devotion can be performed in the school.

pg 179, There are tens of thousands of skeptics and liberals throughout the West, and in the absence of liberal and philosophical lecturers, they employ Universalists.

pg 179–80, An infidel returning from the West said, one of the oldest and most popular of the Universalist clergymen in Ohio preaches as good sense, reason, philosophy, liberality as he would want to hear.

pg 181, Orestes A. Brownson, a former Universalist minister, said that it was very common for the clergymen with whom he was acquainted, to speak of Universalism as a "stepping stone," as "the best weapon to destroy the Orthodox, do away with the clergy, and to prepare the way for something better."

pg 181, Brownson had conversed with hundreds of professed Universalists, who would own to him that they supported Universalism only "because it was the most liberal sentiment they could find, and because it was better than Deism to put down the Orthodox."

pg 182, I have known men of great principles, educated in the fear of God, to embrace Universalism; and in six months after to have no scruples about working on the sabbath! If persons, having set up an altar at home for family worship, embrace Universalism, they, in almost every case, abandon their devotions at once.

pg 184, The influence of Universalism on children is disasterous. It brings them up without the fear of God, and teaches them early to cast off fear and restrain prayer.

pg 192, The defense of Universalism varies according to circumstances. Sometimes it will be defended on one ground, and sometimes on another and a contradictory ground. They will baptize, or not, in any way, or in no way, as best may suit.

pg 192–3, Sermons preached to Universalist congregations are sent out as essays. Annuals, supposed to be merely literary works, are full of Universalism. Books for children, written by Universalist ministers, and full of heresy, are sent out as being free from sectarianism. [Even] Roman Catholics are not more deceptive and jesuitical.

pg 193, We see Universalists setting forth a fierce warfare against sabbath schools, and then adopting them; manifesting the most deadly hate towards revivals, and then professing to enjoy the blessing which attends them.

pg 194, Universalists have constantly ridiculed the exertions of those who are engaged in sending or carrying the gospel to the heathen.

pg 204, A Universalist preacher, having been settled seventeen years in Boston, said that nearly everyone who had been in the society when he was settled, and who had died during his ministry, had died an Atheist, a Deist, or a drunkard.

pg 205, Men guilty of bigamy have been declared by Universalists, in grave council, to have "committed no offense whatever against any law of morality or religion."

pg 205, One of the oldest preachers of Universalism now living, was for many years celebrated for using profane language and running a rum house.

pg 206, The preacher of one of the oldest Universalist societies confessed to me that, so dissolute were the people who composed his society, that no person thought of being married till one of the parties was compelled to be. Nearly all the marriages he celebrated, he said, were of this description.


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