A colleague just called and asked about three Universalist sermons that would match the three Unitarian sermons in the long-published, oft-used book, Three Prophets of Religious Liberalism.
That’s hard to say. Universalists were less prone to use monumental sermons like the Unitarians, and tended to rely more on newspaper articles, biographies, debates, and devotional guides.
But the request is reasonable, and I can point to two sermons (on the Web) that fit the bill, and will look for (or, if need be, add from my historical library) a third.
In particular, I will look to the undervalued persons in Universalist history like Orello Cone, William Henry Ryder, Phoebe Hanaford, John Wesley Hanson, and Edwin Hubble Chapin.
Until then, look at
1. Elhanan Winchester’s The Outcasts Comforted at “God’s Truth for Today“.
But could we believe that sin and misery should endure to all eternity, that the blessed God, worthy of all praise, from all intelligences, should be hated by vast numbers of the beings he hath made capable of loving and serving him, and that to all endless ages, we should be filled with the greatest sorrow imaginable! For even when we see poor miserable wretches, under the power and government of Satan, profaning and blaspheming the name of God, it fills our hearts with grief inexpressible; how inconceivable would our distress then be, if we could be made to believe, that they must, to all endless ages, continue in rage, blasphemy, and despair! But glory to God in the highest, we believe that the wisdom, power, and goodness, of the ever-adorable JEHOVAH shall shine most gloriously, in the entire destruction of all evil, and total subjection, and complete restoration of all his creatures. “We believe, and therefore we speak.” Great is our joy; though we are despised, rejected, and treated with contempt by many for the gospel’s sake which we believe, yet we would not part with the satisfaction we find therein, for all the glories of the world, and the applause of all mankind.
2. Quillen Hamilton Shinn’s Affirmations of Universalism
at the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship page. (OK, I typed that myself, but no longer maintain that site.)
Universalism affirms a good destiny for the entire human race. At the outset I dwelt upon this distinguishing feature of our faith. A few additional words I think are necessary for the reason that, however clear we make to ourselves our views touching destiny, we are still confronted, and how frequently, with the old question, “What will become of wicked people who die in their sins?” The idea seems fixed in the minds of people that God can do nothing for his sinful children after they leave this world. Now, the relationship existing between the spiritual Father and his children is spiritual. Death cannot change it. Death cannot separate us from the love of God, said the great apostle. Has redeeming love physical limitations? Will we get beyond its reach by going to another world? It would be as reasonable to confine its action to New York, or even to Rhode Island, as to confine it to this world.
What, then, is our answer to this question so perplexing to many anxious souls? This: Those who are not cured in this world, and none are completely cured here, will be cured in the next. Old Orthodoxy says they will be sent to an eternal penitentiary. New Orthodoxy says they will establish themselves in endless rebellion against God, become eternal anarchists. The doctrine of annihilation, another phase of New Orthodoxy, says they will be blotted out of existence. Which answer can you best harmonize with the will and purpose and character of an infinitely good God? Universalism answers, They will be cured.
I’m rather looking forward to finding #3.