The following is from the "Universalist's Book of Reference", written by Rev. E. E. Guild in 1853.
The Articles of Faith, Plan of Church Government, .... of the Denomination of
Universalists in the United States and British Provinces.
ARTICLES OF FAITH.
The following article on this subject, written by Rev. A. B. Grosh, is full, clear and comprehensive, and much
better than anything which we could substitute in its stead.
"The Universalists, as a body, have no
Creed or Confession of Faith which members must subscribe, or profess
faith in, before they can be admitted into fellowship or membership. The
Bible is the creed of the Universalist. But as we have been, at various
periods, much misrepresented by our opposers, a Profession of Belief,
embracing those important points of doctrine in which all Universalists
are agreed, became necessary.*
* "As the Universalists of the New
England States agreed with Congregationalists, in regard to church
government, they could not be legally distinguished from them, so as to
avoid paying taxes to support the then ‘standing order,’ until they became
a separate denomination, and made a formal Profession of Faith. In New
Hampshire they were so taxed, and the Supreme Court decided in favor of
the Congregationalists, as late, we think, as 1803. To obviate this
difficulty, which had been anticipated, a ‘Profession of Faith’ was
presented by the committee, previously appointed for that purpose, and
adopted by the General Convention, holden at Winchester, N.H. The members
of the committee were Zebulon Streeter, Geo. Richards, Hosea Ballou,
Zephaniah Laithe, and Walter Ferris; the Profession was composed by the
last on the commettee. There were some believers in the trinity and in
future punishment on the committee, and yet all could cordially agree to
the Articles presented." See an article on this subject in the Magazine
and Advocate, vol. 14, No. 40, taken from the Universalist Watchman.
The General Convention of Universalists
for the New England States and others, at that time the highest official
body in our order, in 1803, adopted and published the following, not as
binding on the faith of its members but as declarative of our sentiments.
No alterations have been necessary, neither have any been made in it,
since that period. It is, therefore, submitted to the reader as an
official and correct declaration of the faith of our denomination at
large, wherever it is known to exist, whether under the name of
Salvationist, Restorationist, Christian Friends, or the more common and
more appropriate one for all believers in impartial and universal grace,
"1. We believe that the Holy Scriptures
of the Old and New Testaments contain a revelation of the character of
God, and of the duty, interest and final destination, of mankind.
"2. We believe there is one God, whose
nature is love; revealed in one Lord Jesus Christ, by one Holy Spirit of
Grace, who will finally restore the whole family of mankind to holiness
"3. We believe that holiness and true
happiness are inseparably connected; and that believers ought to maintain
order, and practise good works, for these things are good and profitable
"This general declaration of the general
belief of our whole order, it will be seen, allows great latitude of
opinion on minor points, while it especially states our sentiments on all
points most important and useful to all Christians."
Lest it should be thought that the above
Profession of Faith is too brief, and not sufficiently expressive of our
views on all points connected with the Christian religion we here insert a
form of faith which was drawn up by Rev. D. Skinner, and which has been
published and extensively circulated in the United States; promising,
however, that we do not consider this creed as binding on the consciences
of our fellow-men, but as "a mere general declaration not of the things
which must be believed, but of the things that are believed among us." To
obtain the fellowship of our denomination it is only necessary that the
individual should believe in one God; in Jesus Christ as the Son of God
and the Saviour of the world; in the authority of the Bible; and that he
should possess a good moral character.
Article I. Concerning
We believe in one, only living and true God; that he is a pure
spirit, self-existent, immutable, eternal, infinite in wisdom, power and
goodness, and possesses every natural and moral perfection which can
render his character amiable, lovely, reverend and adorable; that he is
the Creator, Upholder, Benefactor and moral Governor, of the universe;
that he stands in the relation of Father to all mankind; that, as he hath
made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the face of the earth, we
are his offspring, all have one Father, one God hath created us; that
though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as
there be gods many, and lords ), yet to us there is but one God, the
Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; that God is love, good unto
all, and his tender mercies are over all his works; that he loveth all the
things that are, and abhorreth nothing that his hands have made, for he
never would have created anything to have hated it; that he is a just God
and a Saviour, who will have all men to be saved, and come to the
knowledge of the truth; that he worketh all things after the counsel of
his own will; that all his attributes harmonize; that in him mercy and
truth have met together, righteousness and peace have embraced each other.
1 Cor. 8:4-6; Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29; John 4:24; Mal. 2:10, and 3:6; Gen.
17:1; Ps. 147:5; 45:9, and 85:10; Wisdom 11:24; Isa. 45:21; Acts 17:24-28;
1 Tim 2:4, 5; Eph. 1:11; 1 John 4:8-16.
Article II. Concerning
We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ; that Jesus of Nazareth
is the promised Messiah, the one Mediator between God and men, the son of
God and the Saviour of the world, the brightness of the Father’s glory,
and the express image of his person; that to him the Divine Spirit was
given without measure, and hence, God hath made him both Lord and Christ
-- given all things into his hand, even power over all flesh, that he
should give eternal life to as many as the Father hath given him; that all
that the Father giveth him shall so come to him as not to be cast out;
that he was sent to reveal the true character of God to the world, and
save mankind from sin, misery, darkness and death; that, to this end, he
gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time; is a
propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of
the whole world; that, having been crucified on the cross, he arose from
the dead on the third day, ascended up on high, leading captivity captive,
and giving gifts unto men; and having brought life and immortality to
light by the Gospel, he shall see of the travail of his soul and be
satisfied; shall reconcile all things unto God, by the blood of his cross;
that as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive; that
he shall reign in his mediatorial kingdom till all things shall be subdued
unto him; till death, the last enemy, shall be destroyed; till every knee
shall bow, and every tongue confess him Lord, to the glory of God the
Father; and that he will then deliver up the kingdom to God the Father,
that God may be all in all. 1 Cor. 8:6, and 15:3, 4, 22, 24-28; 1 Tim.
2:5, 6; 1 John 2:2, and 4:14; John 1:45; 3:34, 35; 6:37, and 17:2, 3;
Matt. 1:21; Heb. 1:3; Rom. 14:9; Eph. 4:8; 2 Tim. 1:10; Isa. 53:11; Col.
1:20; Phil 2:10, 11.
Article III. Concerning the
We believe in the Divine authenticity of the Scriptures
of the Old and New Testaments, that they contain a true and faithful
record of the revelation of God to men, and are a perfect and infallible
rule of faith and practice; that the prophecy came not in old time by the
will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy
Spirit; and that all Scripture, given by inspiration of God, is profitable
for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and instruction in
righteousness, that the servants of God may be thoroughly furnished unto
all good works, and become wise unto salvation. 2 Peter 1:21; 2 Tim.
Article IV. Concerning the Motive
We believe that, as God hath commended his love to us
in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, it is our duty to
love him because he first loved us; that if God so loved us, we ought also
to love one another; that the goodness of God leadeth to repentance; that
the grace of God, which bringeth salvation to all men, hath appeared,
teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live
soberly, righteously and godly, in this present world; and that those who
believe in God, ought to be careful to maintain good works; for these
things are good and profitable unto men; that Christ should be our
pattern, and his love should constrain us to walk in his footsteps. Rom.
2:4, and 5:8; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15; Tit. 2:11, 12, and 3:8; 1 John 4:11, 19.
Aritcle V. Concerning the Reward of
We believe that great peace have they who love God’s
law, and nothing shall offend them; they are like trees planted by the
rivers of water, that bring forth their fruit in season; their leaf also
shall not wither, and whatsoever they do shall prosper; that Wisdom’s ways
are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace; that she is a tree
of life to them that lay hold of her, and happy is every one that
retaineth her; that the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them
that make peace; that Christ’s yoke is easy and his burden light, and all
who come to him will find rest to their souls; that we who have believed
do enter into rest; that, though God is the Saviour of all men, he is
especially so of the believer, and that whoso looketh into the perfect law
of liberty, and continueth therein, and is not a forgetful hearer but a
doer of the word this man shall be blessed in his deed. Ps. 1:3, and
119:165; Prov. 3:17, 18; Matt. 11:28-30; Heb. 4:3; 1 Tim. 4:10; James
1:25, and 3:18.
Article VI. Concerning the
Punishment of Disobedience.
We believe that God, as the righteous
and moral Governor of the universe, will render to every man according to
his deeds: tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil,
of the Jew first and also of the Gentile; that he that doeth wrong shall
receive for the wrong which he hath done, and there is no respect of
persons; that the way of transgressors is hard; that the wicked are like
the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt;
for there is no peace, saith our God, to the wicked. Rom. 2:6, 9; Col.
3:25; Prov. 13:15; Matt. 16:27; Isa. 57:20, 21.
Article VII. Concerning the
remedial Design and Limitation of Punishment.
We believe the Lord
will not cast off forever; but though he cause grief, yet will he have
compassion according to the multitude of his mercies; that he will not
contend forever, nor be always wroth, lest the spirit should fail before
him, and the souls he has made; that although he may apparently forsake
his children for a small moment, but with everlasting kindness will he
have mercy on them, and heal them, and lead them also, and restore
comforts unto them; that whom he loveth he chasteneth (and he loveth and
chasteneth all) for their profit, that they may be partakers of his
holiness, and be enabled afterwards to say, "Before I was afflicted I went
astray, but now have I kept thy word." Lam. 3:31, 32; Isa. 54:7, 8, and
57:16-18; Heb. 12:7-11; Ps. 89:30-35, and 119:67.
Article VIII. Concerning
As there is differnce of opinion among the sincere
followers of Christ, in regard to this ordinance, and this difference
ought not to separate true disciples one from another, we believe it is
the duty of every one to follow the dictates of his or her conscience,
leaving each to judge both of the subject and mode of Baptism, as shall
seem most consistent with Scripture and reason. Matt. 28:19; John 4:2;
Acts 2:41; Rom. 6:3-5, and 14:1-6; 1 Cor. 1:14-17; 1 Pet. 3:21.
Article IX. Concerning Repentance,
Faith and Love.
We believe, according to the divine doctrine and
preaching of Christ and his apostles, that repentance toward God for sin,
faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and love to God and our fellow-creatures,
are means of grace appointed by God, and essential to our salvation and
glory. Matt. 4:16, and 22:37-40; Mark 1:15; Acts 3:19, 5:31, and 20:21;
Heb. 11:;16; 1 John 3:23, 24.
Article X. Concerning the Extent of
We believe that God, who is rich in mercy, who turneth
the hearts of the children of men as the rivers of water are turned, who
worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, whose people shall
be willing in the day of his power, will, in the dispensation of the
fulness of times, gather together in one all things, in Christ, both which
are in heaven and which are on earth, even in him; and that every
(intelligent) creature in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth,
and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, shall at last unite
in the song of Moses and the Lamb, saying Blessing and honor, and glory,
and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb
forever and ever. Eph. 1:9-11, and 2:4; Prov. 21:1; Ps. 110:3; Rev. 5:13.
PLAN OF GOVERNMENT
The following article, taken from the
Universalist Register and Almanac for 1836, and written by A. B. Grosh, is
as clear and correct on this subject as can possibly be desired.
"The government and discipline of the
Universalist denomination, so far as it has yet been established on
general principles, is republican and fraternal -- in accordance with the
mild, equalizing and affectionate principles of Christianity.
"The smallest associations are those
. These are formed by any
number of believers in a vicinity, according to the laws of the State or
Territory, or to the customs of the community where there are no legal
regulations on the subject. Brother
is the common and equal title
of all the male members, as sister
is that of the females. Where
discipline is instituted among societies only, it is, as it should be, a
church discipline, and conducted according to the rules laid down in the
New Testament -- particularly as recommended in Matt. 5:23, 24; 7:12;
18:15-23; and the parallel passages. It is to be hoped that, ere long,
every society will establish such a discipline among its members.
"The societies are sovereign and
independent -- competent to govern themselves, select and discharge their
own officers and preachers. But for social purposes, and to promote unity
and harmony among and with each other, in certain districts they unite
These are governed by a council, composed, in
general, of two or more delegates from each society, and of the
ministering brethren residing within the bounds of the Association. The
delegates are elected annually, by their respective churches or societies.
Ministering brethren from other Associations are either constitutionally
admitted as members of the council, or are invited to unite in its
deliberations. The discipline instituted over preachers and societies, by
the Associations, is similar to that of churches or societies, except
where gross offences are committed by preachers, when immediate suspension
or expulsion is pronounced; and in no case is any further authority
assumed than the withdrawal of fellowship.
"The power to grant letters of fellowship
or ordination, or both, in general belongs to every regularly associated
body of believers in the order; but of late years is only exercised by the
Associations and Conventions, or by ordaining councils, or committees on
fellowship and ordination appointed by them, or acting at the wishes of a
society in presumed accordance with the wishes of those bodies.
"In all other matters the associations
merely advise or recommend, leaving to societies and individuals the
privilege of acting or not, as circumstances or their own judgments may
dictate and require. When Associations become numerous in any one or more
States, they generally unite, to extend their social intercourse and
These are State
or sectional, as one or more States are embraced within their boundaries.
Their councils are generally constituted of a certain number of lay, and a
certain number of ministerial delegates sent by each association in their
fellowship. Generally, the lay delegates are most numerous -- but in some
Conventions an equal number of each are required. The powers of these
Conventions, except in granting fellowship from them, are merely
recommendatory and advisory.
"When State Conventions become numerous,
they sometimes unite in a general Convention embracing several States.
Thus, formerly, the New England States had a General Convention (even
before any State Conventions were formed), and the Southern and Western
have formed similar Conventions. But the largest organized body of
Universalists in America is
"THE UNITED STATES CONVENTION.
council is composed of delegates chosen annually by each Convention in its
fellowship, each State being allowed four ministerial and six lay
delegates. It meets annually, in each State alternately, and continues its
session until its business is transacted. Its powers are merely
recommendatory and advisory. If its organization be reckoned from the
formation of the ‘General Convention of the New England States and
others,’ which it superseded, then the session in September, 1853, was its