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Exhortations like this may have had some effect, but certainly Unitarianism has not made a rapid advance toward the goal which was thus placed in view. Its nature rebels against any firm ecclesiasticism, and in particular spurns the restrictions of creed. The Free Religious Association, which originated in 1867, was mainly an expression of the hostility which was felt in the younger generation of Unitarians against all bonds of a positive theology. More recently the Western Conference took action which implied that the Unitarian Church is an ethical club, without so much as a declared theistic basis. But it may be presumed that this dogmatic swoon was local and temporary. Charity forbids that such complete inanition should be attributed to the Unitarian communion as a whole. It is true, however, that Unitarian writers often speak in a way which indicates very slight anchorage in historical Christianity. The reputation of the body has suffered from the unscientific haste of some of its representatives to surrender to the latest conjectures advanced in the name of science.

In the realm of polite literature American Unitarianism has been favored with a noble list of men of national and international reputation. Among writers on theological themes, James Freeman Clarke and F. H. Hedge are properly assigned an eminent place.

While Unitarianism was advancing to a control of a part of the Congregational communion, it was gaining substantially the whole of the Universalist body. Hosea Ballou, in his “ Treatise on the Atonement,” published in 1805, sharply criticised the doctrine of the Trinity. Within a dozen years from this time the number of Trinitarians in the Universalist ministry had been reduced to two, — Dean of Boston, and Mitchell of New York.1

The ability of Ballou as a propagandist was manifested in another direction. Before he undertook, in 1817, the advocacy of the doctrine that there is no pun. ishment or suffering in the future life, it had obtained little currency. But with his support it advanced to a relative ascendency. Some of the ministers indeed resisted this serious departure from the original position of the denomination. So greatly were they afflicted by the innovation that in 1831 they formed a distinct organization, styled the Association of Universal Restorationists. In their announcement they declared their belief in future rewards and punishments, to be followed by the final restoration of all mankind to holiness and happiness. The schismatic movement, which at its height included about thirty ministers, chiefly from Massachusetts and Rhode Island, had little success, so far as visible fortunes were concerned. Its creed, however, came off victorious. Before the middle of the century the tide had turned in its favor. In more recent times the great majority of Universalists have allowed that temporary chastisements or sufferings may be devolved upon men in the world to come by the sin and perversity of the present life.

In return for a Unitarian faith the Universalists have given back their restorationist creed. At any rate the latter prevails very largely among Unitarians. This makes an appearance of essential identity of belief on the part of the two bodies. Nevertheless, there has been a difference in animus, and to some extent in pronounced position. The Universalists have been more united and steady in their acceptance of Biblical authority. Their recent historian says: “German Rationalism, which has made such havoc in the ranks of so-called Liberal Christians, sought a foothold in the Universalist Church, and for a few years, dating from about 1843, fascinated some of the younger preachers, necessitating an examination and expression of opinion by our ecclesiastical councils, which was thorough, emphatic, decisive. The seal of denominational disapprobation was put upon all attempts to eliminate the supernatural from the Christian records, and an earnest and unambiguous deliverance was made that the Universalist Church bows to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and accepts his religion as a revelation from God.” 1

1 Eddy, Universalism in America, ii. 104.

2. CONGREGATIONALISTS. — The revivals which occurred in the early part of the nineteenth century gave to the Congregationalists a partial compensation for the Unitarian defection. In Boston the revival movement began about 1823. Three years later it received a fresh impulse from the coming of one of the most effective preachers of that age. With the courage of the born warrior Lyman Beecher united an intense practical zeal. While he was ready to declare with boldness his theological convictions, he had no use for controversy except as it might bring men to the life of piety and saving faith. In his sermons logic always shaped itself sooner or later into persuasion, and persuasion was sent home with that force which can come alone from a powerful and earnest personality. Dr. Bacon says that whether speaking to a congregation or talking with a company of his brother ministers, “ he was like a powerful magnetic battery.” The ministry of Lyman Beecher in Boston fell between 1826 and 1832. At the latter date he entered upon a theological professorship at Lane Semi

1 Eddy, ii. 482.

nary in Ohio.

Congregationalism was carried westward by emigration from New England and by the activity of missionary societies. In this missionary enterprise Connecticut took a foremost part. The General Association of that State organized itself in 1798 into the Connecticut Missionary Society, and in the following years supported numerous laborers in New York, Western Pennsylvania, and Ohio. As these regions were cultivated also by the Presbyterian Church, and moreover Connecticut Congregationalism was somewhat tolerant of the Presbyterian polity, it naturally came about that a scheme of co-operation in religious work was introduced. In 1801 by agreement between the Association of Connecticut and the Presbyterian General Assembly the so-called “Plan of Union” was established. The tenor of its provisions may be seen in the following description by a friendly pen: “It enjoined on all the missionaries of both parties the promotion of mutual forbearance and accommodation between the two sects. It recommended, in case of minister and people belonging to different sects, that all should maintain their respective forms of government and discipline, and preserve their ecclesiastical connection, settling their difficulties between minister and people by a sort of arbitration, or council, composed of half of each sect, unless all could agree to submit to

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the forms of the sect to which the minister should belong. In case of a mixture of Presbyterians and Congregationlists in the same settlement, it recommended their uniting in one church, administering discipline by a committee from the communicants, with a right of appeal to the Presbytery, or the Church, as the accused should be of one or the other sect.” 1

For the space of a generation the Plan of Union was operated with a success which indicates that denominational jealousy was kept within moderate bounds. But it was intrinsically a delicate task so to manage the mixed polity as to give satisfaction to both parties. Congregationalist historians are decidedly of the conviction that the plan was an effective means for turning Congregational into Presbyterian churches, and for installing presbyteries and synods in the place of associations. Presbyterian critics, on the other hand, have charged against the Plan of Union that, in opening the door to Congregationalists, it gave entrance to a lax theology, thus corrupting the pure inheritance which had been handed down by the fathers of the Westminster Assembly. This dogmatic grievance was undoubtedly a main factor in stirring up the hostility of conservative Presbyterians, and constraining them in 1837 to abolish the Plan of Union.

The phase of New England theology which especially provoked disquiet and resentment among the champions of Presbyterian orthodoxy was that which had its seat in New Haven, and its leading representative in N. W. Taylor, of the Yale Theological School. Taylor repre

1 Review of the Leading Measures of the General Assembly of 1837 by a member of the New York Bar.

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