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AH 2nj F
RETAIN BOOK COPY
9i ilitamilous iU&^^torp,
OSCAR FijAFFORD, D.D.
*T is in the advance of individual minds
That the slow crowd should ground their expectations
Eventually to follow, — as the sea
Waits ages in its bed, till some one wave
Out of the multitude aspires, extends
The empire of the whole, some feet perhaps,
Over the strip of sand which could confine
Its fellows so long time ; thenceforth the rest*
Even the meanest, hurry in at once,
And so much is clear gain.
UNIVERSALIST PUBLISHING HOUSE.
By Thb Univbrsaust Publishing Housb.
John Wilson and Son, Cambridge.
I. Birth; Ancestry; Early Home .... 15
II. Converted to Calvinism 23
in. Dawn of a New Vision 31
IV. Self-Mastery 40
V. His Horizon Broadens; Ordination; Mar-
Vr. Hardwick-Dana, Mass.; Barnard, Vt. . . 59
Vn. "Treatise ON Atonement" 71
Vin. Barnard, Vt.; Missionary Journeys ; Hymn-
IX. Portsmouth, N. H 96
X. Salem 109
XI. School Street Church 122
XII. A Vigilant Watchman 132
XIII. A Discussion and its Sequences .... 142
XIV. In Labors Many 154
XV. In Trials 166
XVI. Mother-Wit 179
XVn. Spiritual Sons 189
XVni. In the Pulpit 207
XIX. Home Life 219
XX. Toward Evening 229
XXI. Visit to the Old Home 245
XXII. Through Darkness to Light 258
XXIII. Traits and Habits 267
XXIV. Character ; Faith ; Influence 277
Birthplace at Richmond, N. H 20
HosEA Ballou at Fifty Years of Age 97
The Old School-Street Church 128
Thomas Whittemore, D.D 192
Lucius R. Paige. D.D 196
HosEA Ballou 2d, D.D 200
Rev. John Boyden 204
Edwin H. Chapin, D.D 230
Alonzo a. Miner, D.D., LL.D 232
Statue of Hosea Ballou in Mount Auburn
TWO biographies of Hosea Ballou have already
been given to the public ; one by Maturin M.
Ballou, his youngest son, the other by Thomas Whitte-
more, a spiritual son. Both have long been out of
print. It has not been deemed advisable to republish
either of these biographies. That by his son is filially
aflfectionate and appreciative, and had a wide circula-
tion, but is wanting in analysis and completeness.
Dr. Whittemore's work is a magazine of facts, and is
straightforward and plain in style ; but it is devoted
largely to extraneous matters, and is infeasible for
republication by being in four volumes. As the Uni-
versalist Church cannot with self-respect suffer its
greatest theologian and most picturesque character
to remain in increasing obscurity, this new attempt
to tell his life-story has been made.
The biographer claims a brief privilege in auto-
In my boyhood I heard thoughtful Universal! sts in
the State of Maine frequently speak the name Hosea
Ballou with reverent regard. I unconsciously formed
a conception of his character as one of the master-
spirits in religious warfare. I was yet a lad when I
read his " Life " as written by his son. I can scarcely
recall the impression the book made. While a very
young man I also read Dr. Whittemore's "Life of
Ballou." I am bound to confess that the impression
made on my mind by this work was, to say the least,
exceedingly unpleasant. I had constantly heard Uni-
versalism spoken of by its opposers as a religion which
made light of sin by teaching that death rather than
Christ is the divine agent of redemption. By the
reading of Dr. Whittemore's volumes I was led to
believe that Mr. Ballou advocated this philosophy.
My reading of the work, I confess, was not critical,
and my discrimination was not acute. Nevertheless
the fact remains, that after reading Dr. Whittemore's
volumes, I regarded Mr. Ballou chiefly as an advocate
of the theory that death is the immediate savior of
all sinners. His philosophy — or the nescience I as-
cribed to him — appeared to me so contradictory of
axiomatic truths, that I could only hope for it speedy
and final oblivion.
I remained in this unfortunate state of mind several
In 1865, thirteen years after Mr. Ballou's death, I
became pastor of the First Universalist Church of
Charlestown. Nearly all the older members of the
parish had heard Mr. Ballou preach, and I was soon
commiserated as not having had that privilege. Cer-
tain of these estimable believers remembered with ex-
actness his pithy sayings, his striking illustrations, his
fervent words of appeal. I was forced to note that
Mr. Ballou liad at least the gift of saying things
which could not be forgotten. These good people
could never tire of their reminiscences of the great
preacher. Such copious remembrance of one gone
before was then unparalleled in my experience. At
the present writing the one kindred experience I can
recall is that of certain of my friends in Chicago who
had been personally associated with Abraham Lincoln
previous to his national renown, and who would with
alternate tears and laughter discourse of their old
friend at all hours without weariness or willing
cessation. I marvelled at this exhibition of the
power of Lincoln's personality. Scarcely less, I now
discern, was the power of Hosea Ballou's personal-
ity over those who had known him in life. These
Charlestowu parishioners, be it remembered, had
known E. H. Chapin and Thomas Starr King as
their own pastors. They did not forget the fact;
they mentioned it often with pride. But tliey rarely
quoted any saying of either of these cultured mas^
ters of expression. The recollections they revived of
these men, especially of Chapin, were of rapturous
eloquence in unreportable passages. Mr. Ballon they
had known only as a neighbor across the Charles
River. They had heard him but occasionally, yet it
was this preacher who constantly reappeared in their
speech whenever the inner fount of their natures was
opened ; and especially when God's redeeming love was
the theme of earnest speech, Mr. Ballon would come
to their grateful remembrance.
My curiosity was awakened in regard to this re-
I recall that in those busy, crowded years I read
certain of Mr. Ballou's printed sermons, and found
them strong, lucid, graceful, at once simple and pro-
found. I conceded to him unusual skill in the art
of sermon-making. I glanced through some of his
controversial works, on issues to me by-gone ; I was
struck with his candor and fertility in resources. As
a controversialist I conceded him genius. I at iSrst
stumbled in the " Treatise on Atonement," for want
of its historical clew; on arriving at a clearer un-
derstanding of the horrible nature of the theology,
or Satanism, it assaulted, the book appeared to me
a marvel of common sense and the herald of an
In 1874 I became pastor of the First Universalist
Church in Cambridge, and had Rev. Lucius R. Paige,
D.D., as a parishioner and counsellor. He was an
enthusiast in his regard for his only teacher in
theology. We sometimes discussed Mr. Ballou's af-
iSrmation of the no-future-punishment interpretation
of the Bible. Dr. Paige stoutly maintained that it
neither nullified nor modified any principle in ethics.
" Punishment," he said, " will continue till the sinner
is by divine love brought to repentance ; when it has
served its purpose it will be superseded by forgive-
ness. To me it is biblical and reasonable to believe
that this moral change will be a voluntary act of
every sinner immediately on his entrance into the
realm beyond the resurrection." I combated this
with the assertion of the persistency of individuality,
memory, and the moral sense as constituents of char-
acter. It did not, however, occur to me that the
theory, so stated, implied that death is the moral
Before I read Dr. Whittemore's " Life of Ballon "
a second time, I had learned to regard its author as
a zealous champion of the extreme no-future-punish-
ment theory. Dr. Whittemore had himself in the
calm afterthought of his closing days, as quoted
by Dr. E. G. Brooks, confessed misgivings as to cer-
tain of his ultra positions assumed in the heat of
debate. He championed Mr. Ballou's theory in the
Restorationist controversy. He was editor of the
"Trumpet," in which Mr. Ballon published certain
tent0,tive articles on the then inflammatory theme.
These articles, some of which were published anony-
mously, were carefully preserved by the editor, and
reappeared in form or coloring in his bulky work.
On my second reading of the " Life," I did not believe
these unsifted writings fairly representative of Mr.
Ballou's central doctrines. It is confessedly not dif-
ficult to quote from them negative expressions seem-
ingly indicative of his opinion that sinners need no
salvation other than that death itself will bring. This
was not — with entire certainty I aflBrm — at any time
Hosea Ballou's belief. Dr. Whittemore saw his spirit-
ual father with his own eyes; Dr. Whittemore had
himself, I was compelled to perceive, superficial views
of sin and punishment; he virtually idolized death.
No one who reads the following pages will doubt my
admiration of Dr. Wliittemore ; yet on this point I
regret his zeal. With entire honesty he presented a
picture of Mr. Ballon which to me appears twisted out
of symmetry. His partisanship led him to regard
an incident in Mr. Ballou's career, and an incidental
doctrine in his system, as of central and enduring
Now, what is the fact as to Mr. Ballou's advocacy
of the doctrine of strictly no future punishment ? It
is significant that he did not believe the doctrine till
he was forty-eight years old. What does this prove ?
Not thai he did not in his later years attach impor-
tance to the doctrine. No such claim is made. But
it proves beyond denial that he did not, during the
early part of his career, hold to the doctrine as essen-
tial to his system. He was a believer in future pun-
ishment when he wrote his " Notes on the Parables,"
and his " Treatise on Atonement." ^ He was a believer
in future punishment when he formulated the system
of theology to which the entire Universalist denomi-
nation was converted. The doctrine of no future
punishment is in his system subordinate and by no
means fundamental. The doctrine, furthermore, as
he gave it definitions in careful leading statements,
is not held in unconsciousness or disregard of the
acknowledged laws of moral science.^
By the time I had re-read Dr. Whittemore's work,
and added some careful reading between the lines,
I had given to Mr. Ballon my unqualified respect.
He more and more fascinated me in his human ex-
perience. I saw in his early hardships and extreme
limitations, contrasted with the achievements of his
manhood, a marvellous human story which possessed
more than the interest of romance. His simplicity,
honesty, transparency, his wit and humor, his genius
as a theologian, his oratorical triumphs, his pure home-
1 In the later editions of the "Treatise," interpolated passages
seem to contradict this assertion. The reference is of course to the
*' Treatise'* as at first written.
2 The statement of Mr. Ballou's position in Chapter XIII. of this
volume, ** A Discussion and its Sequences," has been by the author
submitted to the two men best fitted by knowledge and sympathy to
give an opinion as to its correctness, — Rev. Drs. L. R. Paige and
A. A. Miner, — and has received their approval as according substan-
tially with their own understanding of Mr. Ballou's doctrine.
life, his mission as a religious reformer, — a reformer
in the last degree radical, reforming the very char-
acter men ascribed to God, — these aspects of his
career, with lapse of time, grew in my estimation.
This bit of autobiography serves its purpose in
showing the view-point of this biography.
It is an attempt to picture Mr. Ballou's career in
While I doubt not I am myself limited by my own
point of view, and by my faculties of perception and
sympathy, I claim this advantage over my predeces-
sors : I have, without haste, studied my subject across
a well-nigh vanished generation. My scrutiny, I am
glad to confess, has found no fraction of Mr. Ballou's
career needing concealment ; yet I believe I can now
see, more clearly than could be seen at the time of
his death, what aspects of his life invite the larger
With kindly deference to the average reader, I have
kept my pages as free as possible from the impedi-
ment of references, foot-notes, statistics, and appen-
dices. It was in my design, however, to present a
full list of Mr. Ballou's books and pamphlets. My
labor at this point has been anticipated by Rev.
Richard Eddy, D.D., who in his " Universalism in
America " has made as correct a list as possible of
Mr. Ballou's works in all their authorized and spu-
rious editions. I believe I best serve the interested
reader when I simply refer him for the fruit of no
little patient research among public and private libra-
ries, to the name of " Hosea Ballon " in the " Bibli-
ography " of Dr. Eddy's attractive and trustworthy
My work has been done with an ever-increasing
reverence for the great pioneer preacher of hope,
and with an intensifying desire, not altogether self-
ish, that he may be recognized in his true charac-
ter, and his memory honored as one of the world's
BIRTH; ANCESTRY; EARLY HOME.
HOSEA BALLOU was born in Richmond, New
Hampshire, April 30, 1771, the sixth son and
eleventh child of Rev. Maturin Ballon, a Baptist
A casual reading of this simple record will perhaps
suggest for our hero propitious early surroundings.
The fact, however, is far different. It was into un-
usual hardships and exceptional limitations that the
subject of our story was summoned.
But fourteen years previous the first settler had
arrived in Richmond. The work of subduing the
forest had from that time progressed but slowly.
We may wonder, indeed, that Rev. Maturin Ballon,
in middle life, with a large family already dependent
upon him, should voluntarily become a resident of
this almost unbroken wilderness. He was, we con-
jecture, influenced mainly by two motives. It was
natural for him, in the first place, to desire to secure
for his children a better worldly prospect than he
had himself inherited. This he might hope to do by
becoming a landholder in a pioneer settlement. The
16 HOSEA BALLOU. [1771.
other motive we jSnd in the attraction of the family
tie. Among the iSrst settlers were Anthony and
Uriah Harris, brothers of his wife, also two of her
sisters and their families, all Baptists, after the pat-
tern of Roger Williams. With such neighbors to
offer welcome, it was reasonable for him to hope a
forest-home would not be altogether lonely. When
Mr. Ballon and his wife Lydia visited their kindred
in the wilds they were, we easily conjecture, earnestly
invited to cast their lot with the invaders of the
wilderness. Still another motive may have had
strong influence — perhaps even the strongest —
with tlie Baptist preacher; namely, his desire to
establish in the new country a Baptist church. He
had been a Baptist preacher fifteen years. He was
now forty-five ; when he was thirty, with a large
family looking to him for sustenance, and with-
out special education, he had entered on his chosen
vocation. He had preached the Baptist doctrine
successively at Smithfield, Pawtucket, and Scituate,
in Rhode Island. It is superfluous to say he had
not found his path of life free from anxieties. We
assume that in the prospect opening before him at
Richmond to found the second Baptist church in
New Hampshire, he saw promise of a continuance of
the same life-struggle. For the sake of his children
he was with this prospect content.
When Rev. Maturin Ballon moved to Richmond,
in 1767, he had eight sons and daughters living ; also
the sacred memory of one little Amy, a daughter
who had died at six, her precious remains mingling
with Rhode Island soil. Two additional sons were
born in Richmond; the first was biblically named
1771.] EARLY HOME. 17
Stephen ; the last, in seeming prophecy of his
mission, was named Hosea, signifying in English
" Salvation." i
Whatever expectation the father may have had of
deprivations and trials in the New Hampshire wilds,
could hardly have exceeded the reality. His pastor-
ate was gratuitously fulfilled. It is probable that he,
like many of the early preachers, had conscientious
scruples against receiving any stated compensation
whatever for pastoral services. Even if this were
not the case, and his people were willing to bear
their full share of the cost of the Christian ministry,
the circumstances of the people were such that they
could scarcely supply more than the salt for their
pastor's porridge. He himself, with such assistance
only as his neighbors could casually give, must build
his own rude house and barn ; he must fell his trees,
and clear of roots and stones the not over-rich soil ;
he must himself, with his boys, plant, sow, cultijrate,
reap, and garner; he must guard against shortage
in hay, corn, wheat, rye, potatoes, flax ; he must go
to the all-surrounding forest for fuel ; he must have
daily care of horses, oxen, and sheep. Only the slight
margin of time left could he give to his profession.
1 The children of Reverend and Mrs. Maturin Ballou were : 1. Mary,
who became the wife of Mr. David Bullock ; 2. Benjamin, who became
the father of nine children, and was grandfather to Rev. Hosea Ballou,
D.D., the first President of Tufts College ; 3. Amy, who died at six
years of age ; 4. Lydia, who married Samuel Moses, and left a large
family of children ; 5. Maturin, who became a Baptist preacher and
died at the age of thirty-five ; 6. David, a Universalist preacher for
many years ; 7. Nathan, at first a Baptist, afterward a Universalist,
who left a large family; 8. Sarah, who became the wife of Moses
Wheaton ; 9. Phoebe, who died a young woman ; 10. Stephen, who
moved in early life to New York ; 11. Hosea.
18 HOSE A BALLOn. [177\.
Within his home was a like stern necessity for
unremitting industry. The ordinary daily duties of
the housewife could not be easy. Not a garment
was worn by any member of the family that did not
come from the flax-plot or sheep-flock of the farm;
and every garment was the product of the spinning-
wheel and loom, and self-taught tailors or dress-
makers of the household.
It is to be recalled also that at the time of Hosea's
birth the American Colonies were on the eve of the
War for Independence. During that sanguinary strug-
gle, lasting till he was twelve years old, the American
people were as a whole kept on a strain for mere ex-
istence. Such stress, everywhere prevailing, could
not fail t^f deplorable effects in the self-supporting-
parsonage in Richmond.
And, as we can now plainly see, there was another
burden in that home more cruel than all other bur.
dens combined. The father and mother and older
children sincerely believed and professed Calvinism ;
unadulterated Calvinism, we might say, if it were not
impossible to adulterate a theology which starts with
the idea of a totally depraved God. The baneful heart-
depression caused by this theology — the cruelty of
the stony answer it gave to the heart-cries for bread
— we cannot attempt to describe. It is pitiful to re-
call Maturin Ballou, who was gentle in heart and mild
in manners, and gifted with a natural vein of light-
some humor, in some moment of human cheer narrat-
ing a facetious anecdote, then immediately sighing in
shamefaced repentance, — the least indulgence of nat-
ural mirth appearing to him, under the shadow of his
religion, to be sinful. The chief burden and bane of
1771.] EARLY LIFK 19
that innocent and right-meaning home was, it is but
just to say, its merciless religion. The climate of the
hills was severe ; trying were the extremes of summer
heat and winter cold ; the stress of poverty was unre-
laxing and painful ; yet Calvinism, sincerely believed,
was the most galling yoke and the bitterest cup.
We begin to see the surroundings into which Hosea
Ballon was born. It may give us a slight sympathetic
shiver to be told that while a little fellow he went
barefoot in the winter snow. It is a fact, neverthe-
less, to which he himself without shame testified in
his later years ; with only pity, indeed, for his father,
who endured the deeper pain of helplessness. An-
other fact remains to be told, which, as pertaining
to the little barefoot boy, is saddest of all. When he
was two years old his mother died. Poor weary soul,
can we wonder ? As Hosea grew older, he learned of
her excellences by the testimony of his older brothers
and sisters. Through life the thought of her was to
him tender and sacred. Yet of necessity he carried
in his heart all his days an unsatisfied mother-want.
His father and sisters, as far as they could, fulfilled
to him lovingly and faithfully maternal ministries.
He lived in his early years in an atmosphere of
holy, sorrowful, self-sacrificing love. Yet who can
withhold pity in the recollection of that motherless
His early educational advantages were necessarily
slight ; to be spoken of, in fact, as a minus quantity.
Scarcely any child could in this respect suffer more
deprivation than fell to his lot. It seems strange it
should be so. Destined to be foremost in a great intel-
lectual contest against the organized scholarship of the
20 HOSEA BALLOU. [1771.
schools, strange He should himself have had almost
no equipment of early education ! If he conquer, it
must be as David overcame Goliath, through divine
favor, in a method of warfare not learned in the
schools. He did not, till he was nineteen years old,
attend school one day; and then his self-earned school-
ing extended through only a few months. There were
during his boyhood no schools in Richmond. The
strife during the week for hard-earned bread to keep
away starvation, and the striving on Sunday for
harder bread of Calvinism to save from doom, en-
grossed the people. He early obtained, it is true, a
little knowledge of letters. He learned to read and
write, and to master simple mathematical exercises.
In after years, yet long before the same fact was told
of Abraham Lincoln, he stated to his children that he
learned to read on winter evenings in his boyhood by
the light of blazing pine knots, — even a tallow candle
being a luxury the straitened household could not af-
ford ; and writing he learned on birch-bark sheets he
had himself taken from the forest trees. The family
library consisted of a Bible, a small English diction-
ary antedating Johnson's, an old almanac, and a dog-
eared pamphlet concerning the Tower of Babel. Nor
were other books accessible. Newspapers were in that
wilderness home unknown. We cannot easily picture
a boy living within reach of civilization with educa-
tional advantages more meagre. In his youth stand-
ard literature was to him entirely an unknown realm.
He had virtually no book but the Bible. This, how-
ever, he found to be a wonderful library in itself, its
•literature, history, allegory, poetry, captivating his
1771.] EARLY LIFE. 21
We doubt whether, after all, it is now to be re-
gretted that his attention was thus early focused on
the English Bible. How else could he so well pre-
pare himself to read the Bible anew exclusively in
its own light ? Was it an unpromising thing that the
shepherd-boy David, shut away from even observation
of the prevailing military methods, should be perfect-
ing himself in the use of the simple sling ? The time
came, we remember, when his patiently-acquired skill
was a sanctified means of warfare. So the youthful
Hosea, shut from all avenues to history, poetry, and
prophecy save through the One Book, was uncon-
sciously preparing himself for the mission to which
he was in after years, alike by his genius and circum-
stances, signally called.
But let us not fail to recognize the fact that there
was light as well as shade in his early experience.
He had joy in the passing days of his youth. It
was, for one thing, fortunate that he was born with a
poet's love of Nature. Richmond is a town among
the hills ; itself mainly a level plot, Grassy Hill the
only height within its borders, but bulwarked by grand
elevations in the distance, and diversified on its sur-
face by three small lakes and Ashuelot and Miller's
rivers. Nature smiled an early benediction on the
young theologian. He was in after years remembered
as an erect, muscular lad of vigorous health and ruddy
countenance, with dark hair, and blue eyes in which a
pleasing light gleamed. It was impossible for even
Calvinism to make him in his early years altogether
The poverty to which he was born was not of the
heart ; it was not uncombed nor soapless ; it was
22 HOSEA BALLOU. [1771.
rather a simple life of providential allotment, bravely
and thankfully endured. The boy with bare feet and
homespun clothes grew to be a youth of manly quali-
ties and gentle heart. He carried with him, wher-
ever he went, an atmosphere of kindness. The farm
animals shared to an unusual degree in his thought-
ful care. He had cordial love for his brothers and
sisters, and reverent love for his father. There was
no guile or envy in his nature; he lived unselfishly,
and therefore found content.
The outward hardships of his early experience
touched only the externals of his life. Years after-
ward, when through the transfiguring light of dis-
tance he looked back on his youth among the hills,
he thought but slightly of the hardships he had
endured ; he virtually forgot his bare feet in winter,
his scanty clothes, his narrow mental vision ; he
thought more of his innocent country sports, his con-
tests in leaping, wrestling, and pitching the heavy
iron crowbar, — sports in which he excelled ; he
thought lovingly of Ballou Dell, in which stood his
native cottage ; he still kept his recollection of the
hills and vales surrounding; he thought of father
and brothers and sisters as making his daily life a
beatitude; and he gratefully named this ravishing
vision of his early home-life Happy Richmond.
CONVERTED TO CALVINISM.
Period, 1789. Age, 18.
SO passed, not altogether unhappily, the childhood
and youth of Hosea Ballou. At eighteen, an
event occurred in his life. He became the subject
of a religious revival, and united himself with the
Calvinist Baptist Church.
His father had at this time ceased to be the local
pastor at Richmond. There had, from some unknown
cause, sprung up a contention among the members ;
a section had withdrawn, and under Elder Artemtis
Aldrich had started a rival church. A temporary set-
tlement of the trouble had however been effected by
both pastors withdrawing, and the two segments of
the church uniting under a new minister, Rev. Isaac
The church-members, having ceased to snarl at each
other, had leisure to unite in a crusade against the
unconverted. A revival was the result. Within two
years a hundred members were added to the church.
It was, as compared with the population, a John-
Baptist sweep ; scarcely an unconverted soul could
have been left.
It may be added here, anticipating a little, that after
the revival had passed, the church-members had leisure
once more to revive their own quarrel. They inaugu-
24 HOSEA BALLOU. [1789.
rated a vigorous internal bickering. At this time
Rev. Maturin Ballon, the resident retired pastor, had
a dream. At one of the assemblies in which the bel-
ligerents were represented, he told his dream. " I
dreamed," he said, '' I stood by the oak-tree near my
next neighbor's house. While I stood looking at the
tree, it withered in my sight, and crumbled to pieces,
and became level with the ground." Whoso had ears
to hear, knew it was a prophecy that unless the inter-
nal quarrel ceased, tlie church would come to nought.
The dream-prophecy was fulfilled. When Hosea came
years afterward on a visit to Richmond, he found the
Baptist church extinct.
It was while the revival was at its height, and many
of his young associates were professing religion, that
our hero became touched by the prevailing fright. We
infer that the preaching to which he listened was of the
kind common in his day. Its message was, " Repent ;
hell yawns ; Satan has already one claw on you ! "
Such an excitement is dreadful in a community. It
is easier to stand against a literal cyclone than resist
such a spiritual whirlwind, if one has no shelter of
unbelief. Hosea accepted the conviction that he was
by nature a child of wrath hastening to destruction ;
but even in this excitement he did not wholly lose
his equipoise. He had such calmness under excite-
ment as might have made him great in fiery battle.
He afterward said he was grieved because he could
not agonize as others did ; he was fearful lest his fear
did not reach the regulation standard. However, hav-
ing made his confession to the church and narrated his
experience, he was accepted and immersed by Rev.
Mr. Kinney. " I thought it my duty," he afterward
iET. 18.] CONVERTED TO CALVINISM. 25
modestly said, " to become a professor and join the
church, which I did in the sincerity of my heart in
the month of January, 1789." He was not one to
shrink from immersion in ice-cold water at mid-
He had been from his childhood exceptionally up-
right. His life was always open as the day. Deceit
or falsehood was utterly impossible to him. Indeed,
not one wrong act or doubtful course can be found
characterizing a single member of his father's family.
A remarkable statement, yet duly attested. Hence,
there was no great visible change in Hosea's life when
he became a professing Christian; there was only
some addition of gravity in his bearing.
He naturally wished to understand the system of
faith he had accepted. He was prompted more care-
fully to study Calvinism. From his childhood he
had been taught its tenets. " I was well acquainted,"
he said, referring to this period, " with the most
common arguments which were used in support of
predestination, election, the fall of man, the penal
sufferings of Christ for the elect, the justice of rep-
robation, and many other particulars, such as the
moral agency of man, his inability to regenerate
himself, and the sovereignty and irresistibility of
regenerating grace." He wished to penetrate to the
reason of things. This disposition was with him a
trait. He had no satisfaction in a doctrine he could
Before this time he believed, as he was told, that,
his mind being unregenerated, he had no ability to
reason correctly concerning spiritual things. But
now, since his mind and heart had been renewed,
26 HOSEA BALLOU. [1789.
he felt a call to explore his profession for its basis
in Scripture and sound reason.
What is Calvinism ? The system he professed,
and, as far as is possible to any soul, believed, is in its
distinctive features embraced in Five Points. It is a
system of thought in large measure, at this writing,
outgrown by the Christian church ; it is too barbarous
to be courteously recalled. Yet we cannot forget that
in Hosea Ballou's youth it was the undisputed theology
of his town and virtually of New England.
It is essential to obtain some glimpse of Calvin-
ism, to understand the work of theological refor-
mation to which he afterward dedicated his life. As
one must study the slave-trade in connection with
Wilberforce, the inhumanities of the European prisons
in connection with Howard*s mission, the wrongs of
negro slavery in connection with the heroes of eman-
cipation, so we must resolutely repress disgust, and
try to look old Calvinism in the face, if we would
appreciate the work of theological reformation to
which our hero was called. These, then, authori-
tatively stated, are the famous, or infamous, Five
Points : —
" I. God hath chosen a certain number of the fallen race
of Adam, in Christ, before the foundation of the world, unto
eternal glory, according to his immutable purpose, and of his
free grace and love, without the least foresight of faith, good
works, or any conditions performed by the creature, and the
rest of mankind he was pleased to pass by, and ordain to
dishonor and wrath for their sins, to the praise of his vindictive
" II. Though the death of Christ be a most perfect sacri-
fice and satisfaction for sins, of infinite value, and abundantly
Mt, 18.] CONVERTED TO CALVINISM. 27
sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world, and though
on this ground the gospel is to be preached to all mankind
indiscriminately, yet it was the will of God that Christ, by
the blood of the cross, should efficaciously redeem all those,
and those only, who were from eternity elected to salvation
and given to him by the Father.
"III. Mankind are totally depraved in consequence of
the fall of the first man, who being their public head, his
sins involved the corruption of all his posterity ; which cor-
ruption extends over the whole soul, and renders it unable to
turn to God, or to do anything truly good, and exposes it to
his righteous displeasure both in this world and that which
is to come.
" IV. All whom God hath predestined unto eternal life,
he is pleased in his appointed time effectually to call by his
word and spirit out of that state of sin and death in which
they were by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ.
" V. Those whom God hath effectually called and sancti-
fied by his spirit shall never finally fall from a state of grace.
The believers may fall partially, and would fall totally and
finally but for the mercy and faithfulness of God, who keepeth
the feet of his saints ; also he bestoweth the grace of perse-
verance, bestowing it by means of reading and hearing the
Word, meditations, exhortations, threatenings, promises ; but
none of these things imply the possibility of a believer falling
from a state of justification."
Predestination, Particular Redemption, Total De-
pravity, Effectual Calling, Final Perseverance, — these
are the symbols of distinctive Calvinism. Endless
punishment in a fiery inferno, and the Athanasian
Trinity are also doctrihes essential to the scheme.
What is Calvinism ? In the prevailing light of the
present day it is complex and aggravated atheism.
To deny there is a God, and rest there (if there be
rest in such a negation), is simple atheism; to say
28 HOSEA BALLOU. [1789.
there is a God, and then affirm him to be an Infinite
Satan, with another Personal Satan to assist him in
fulfilling his evil plans, — this is complex and aggra-
vated atheism. What can be more essentially athe-
istic than the characterization Jonathan Edwards
obliquely gives to God in words like these: —
" Imagine yourself to be cast into a fieiy oven all of a glow-
ing heat, where your pain would be as much greater than that
occasioned by incidentally touching a coal of fire as the heat
is greater. Imagine that you were to be there for a quarter
of an hour, full of fire, as full within and without as a light
coal of fire, all the while full of sense. What horror would
you feel at the entrance of such a furnace ! How long would
a quarter of an hour seem to you; twenty-four hours; a
thousand years ! how would your heart sink if you knew you
must bear it forever and ever ! Your torment in hell will be
immensely greater than the illustration represents ! "
And God in the creation — as Calvinism affirms
— designed nearly all his children for such a doom,
to the praise of his vindictive justice! It was the
common thought in Hosea Ballou's early days that
not more than one in a thousand of mankind was
elected to escape this doom. Well did the Welsh
writer Llewallen say: —
" I challenge the whole body and being of moral evil to
invent or inspire or whisper anything blacker or more
wicked ; yea, if sin itself had all the wit, the tongues and
pens of all men and angels to all .eternity, I defy the whole
to say anything of God worse than this. sin ! thou hast
spent thyself in the doctrine of John Calvin. ... I denounce
the doctrine as the rancor of devils ; a doctrine the preaching
of which is babbling and mocking, its prayers blasphemies,
and whose praises are the horrible y ellings of sin and hell ! "
^T. 18.] CONVERTED TO CALVINISM. 29
Even such a vigorous characterization of Calvinism
is in our day scarcely beyond popular Christian ap-
proval. Professed Calvinism is not now what it once
was. Edwards, Emmons, Griffin, Park, their com-
peers and successors, have " modified " the old mon-
ster. We have in our day — God save the mark ! —
an adulterated Calvinism.
Let it not, however, be forgotten that in Hosea
Ballou's youth this fatalism, holding in adamant the
sinner to his sins from eternity to eternity, was mis-
called Christianity, and generally accepted as the in-
disputable doctrine of the Bible. It was thought to
be the divinely vouchsafed explanation of the mystery
of the universe.
Pity for Hosea Ballon that in his nineteenth year
he was committed to Calvinism ! Pity for all who
had, or have, real belief in Calvin's scheme "for satan-
izing the universe by making God the arch- Satan !
Pity for all such misbelievers! Especially to be
compassionated are such misbelievers if they have
loving hearts, and feel the woes of others as their
own. To be in heart a Christian and believe such
a doctrine, is to make life a moral madness. The
Father himself must pity such as suffer in their
conscience and love through sincere mistrust of
But the young Hosea Ballon has, with confidence
in his regenerated reason, begun the study of Calvin-
ism. A gleam of historic prophecy is in that fact.
He must, it is true, pursue a path of lonely struggle
toward the light. He must anon accept battle with
the apparent odds against him. A cruel and boast-
ful Goliath is in possession of the land ; his shadow
30 HOSEA BALLOU. [1789.
darkens all things. It is pleasing to see, however,
that our young David has a clear head and a good
heart, and unmeasured reserve of native strength.
He is "a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair counte-
nance." What can avail him, nevertheless, if his
battle be not the Lord's?
DAWN OF A NEW VISION.
Pebiod, 1789. Age, 18.
THE occasion of young Hosea's special study of
Calvinism, mentioned in the chapter preced-
ing, was the appearance in his neighborhood of a new
and strange heresy.
In the adjoining town of Warwick lived Rev. Caleb
Rich, who had been a Baptist and had subsequently
confessed his belief that all mankind would in ulti-
mate eternity become holy and happy. He was now
a man in middle life, of estimable character ; he had
been a soldier in the Revolution; at this period he
combined itinerant preaching with farming, and had
no little persuasive power in presenting his message
of impartial grace. He was the first to turn public
attention in Richmond to the doctrine of Universal-
ism. The consternation with which his message was
received by the adherents of the popular theology, it
is scarcely possible for us now to realize. It was
thought to be a fatal heresy. Hosea Ballou wrote
in his maturer years : —
" I remember very well how the doctrine of universal sal-
vation affected the common mind when it was first talked of
in the vicinity where my youth was spent. The doctrine ex-
cited horror, and was denounced as the most dangerous heresy
ever propagated: dangerous on account of two certain conse-
32 HOSEA BALLOU. [1789.
quences, — first, the entire prostration of all piety and moral-
ity in this world; and second, the certainty of everlasting
condemnation in the future. At that time, what is now sel-
dom hinted even in a low voice, namely, * If I believed so, I
would lie, cheat, indulge in deception, wallow in sin of every
kind, not hesitating to take the lives of my neighbors, my
family, or even my own life,' was loudly vociferated from
every lip ; and I was perfectly satisfied that such must be
the tendency of the doctrine."
Among the persons in Richmond who gave credence
to the message of Rev. Caleb Rich were Mr. James
Ballon, and his sons James, Jr., and Silas. There
was distant relationship between this family and that
of Rev. Maturin Ballon, ranging somewhere in the
second or third degree of cousinship. These Ballous
became local lay champions of the heresy preached
by Rev. Caleb Rich. Young Hosea, having perhaps
a native tendency to polemics, sometimes engaged
these namesakes and townsmen in argument. The
discussions were no doubt characterized by intense
earnestness, logical acuteness, and bad grammar.
The line of the discussion was afterwards recalled
by Hosea. He maintained that God has the right
to do what he will with his own. They replied, " Of
course, then, he has the right to save them." " But,"
said Hosea, '* God has a right to sentence his crea-
tures to endless torment for their sins." " Yet," was
the reply, " he has no greater right to make a part
miserable than the whole ; by what rule would he
save one part and condemn the rest ? " " All de-
serve endless damnation for their sins," Hosea as-
severated ; " and if God takes the elect as brands
from the burning, this is no injustice to the non-elect,
^T. 18.J DAWN OP A NEW VISION. 33
for it does not increase their suffering." " But is not
this partial ? If all are alike guilty, why make a dis-
tinction ? If it be not wrong to save a part of those
who are infinitely guilty, why would it be wrong to
save all, for the remnant could be no more guilty ?
If only a part are foreordained to be saved, is not
Deity partial ? " Hosea was logically compelled to
acknowledge that on Calvinistic ground God was not
impartial in bestowing his chief favors on fallen man.
Said he when reviewing this period : —
" In these conversations I frequently found that my Cal-
vinistic tenets could be managed either to result in universal
salvation, or to compel me to acknowledge the partiality of
the divine favor. This gave me no small inquietude of mind,
as I was always unable to derive satisfaction from sentimenta
which I could not defend. That which more than anything
else ^contributed to turn my thoughts seriously toward the be-
lief of universal salvation, was the ardent desire with which
I found myself exercised that sinners might be brought to
repentance and salvation. I found it utterly impossible to
bring the feelings of my heart to conform to the doctrine of
eternal reprobation; and I was compelled to allow, either
that such feelings were sinful, or that my Heavenly Father in
giving them to m6 had imparted an evidence in favor of the
salvation of all men, the force* of which I found no means to
He now began in earnest the study of the Bible,
which study was from that time his chief pursuit for
more than sixty years. *^ The trials I was then un-
dergoing," he afterwards said, "led me to famine
the Written Word, to satisfy myself on the great
question which had such weight on my mind." This
study was in its earlier stages attended with increas-
ing perplexity. He wished at first only to justify
34 HOSEA BALLOU. [1789.
and fortify his Calvinism. He sought such aid as
his father could give ; yet his independent mind thus
early could accept no conclusion except it appeared
to himself reasonable. " Suppose," he once asked
his father, " I had the skill and power out of an in-
animate substance to make an animate, and should
make one, at the same time knowing this creature
of mine would suffer everlasting misery; would my
act of creating this creature be an act of goodness ? "
The question troubled his father; it received no
answer. His affectionate parent had nevertheless
taught him to love all mankind. Was not this, he
now asked himself, manifestly wrong? Ought he
not to strive to be like God ? To be sure of salva-
tion himself must he not (to use a phrase of modern
"improved Calvinism") have similarity of feeling
with God ? He read in the Bible, " Love your ene-
mies;" "bless them which persecute you; bless and
curse not." How could he yield obedience to these
requirements and be faithful to his creed? Would
not "similarity of feeling with God" — namely, ha-
tred of men — be in him wrong, even criminal ? He
was sorely perplexed. But he shrank from Univer-
salism. The prejudice of his home-education was
1 against egress in that direction. He was cast into
a sea of speculation; he intently studied his Bible
as his chart, hoping thereby to find a haven.
The next stage in his earnest investigation is best
narrated in his own words: —
" In the spring following my union with the Baptist Church,
I went with my brother Stephen, next older than myself, who
had joined the church a short time after me, to Hartford, in
New York, then called Westfield, where we spent the sum-
^T. 18.] DAWN OF A NEW VISION. 35
mer.^ In this town there was a Baptist congregation, enjoy-
ing the pastoral labors of Elder Brown, on whose ministry
we attended. My brother was apprehensive that my mind
was inclined to Universalism, and told me that he had a de-
sire that I should converse with Elder Brown on the subject,
by which means he hoped I should become fully convinced
that the doctrine was false, and be more settled in the belief
of which I had made profession. There was, at my brother's
request, a conference appomted for Elder Brown to convince
me that I ought to give no heed to the doctrine which labored
in my mind. Accordingly we met. The Elder requested
me to turn to some passage of Scripture which appeared
to me favorable to Universalism, promising to do his en-
deavors to show me the error of applying it in favor of such
a doctrine. I opened to the fifth chapter of Romans. I di-
rected him to the eighteenth verse,^ and told him I was unable
to understand the passage if it agreed with the doctrine of the
eternal reprobation of any of the human family. He imme-
diately began, in his way, to speak very loudly, and nothing
to the subject. When he would stop, I had only to inform
him that what he had offered had no relation to the text I
had produced ; and, by showing him that the same aU men
who were under condemnation in the first member of the text
were under justification in the last, evidently confused his
mind, and immediately turned it sour. He was no longer
able to converse with a right spirit, and prudence dictated a
discontinuance. My brother grew more uneasy, and told me
he was sorry I had conversed with Elder Brown ; * for,* said
he, *' as he could by no means answer you, and as he mam-
1 Several summers he had worked away from home, to contribute to
the family's support. Two years previous, when seventeen, he had
walked forty miles to Guilford, Vermont, where he found employment
on a farm ; the year previous he had found employment at Putney, Ver-
mont ; in each case returning to Richmond for the winter.
3 "Therefore, as by the offence of one judgment came upon all to
condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came
upon all men unto justification of Hfp/' . . .
86 UOSEA BALLOU. [1789.
fested anger, you will think you had the best of the argu-
ment, and will feel encouraged to indulge favorable thoughts
of Universalism.* "
But a single point lost was not for Hosea the
defeat of his cause. He searched the Bible in
every part ; he kept it at hand while at work in the
field, that a leisure moment might be given to its
perusal. He was, let us observe, entirely alone in
this course of biblical investigation. He had seen
no Universalist book ; he did not even know there
was one in existence. When but ten years old he
heard Rev. Caleb Rich preach one sermon, but the
preaching made no impression on his mind. It may
be he was involved in some of his difficulties by the
discussions he had held with his distant kinsmen;
but they were not personally present now to main-
tain their doctrine. His lonely toil on the farm was
favorable to deep pondering. Of the course of this
investigation he gave afterwards some brief indica-
tions. " I continued my researches," he says, " with
no small solicitude.'' " Why," he asked again and
again, " has God made me to desire the salvation of
all my fellow-men?" That the Scriptures supported
this desire by teaching a world-wide charity, became
to him, as he studied the sacred pages, more and
more apparent. The lessons of Nature, to which he
was always peculiarly susceptible, were unmistakably
in harmony with universal benevolence. " Can God,"
he asked, " in all these witnesses — in my own best
desires, in Nature, and in the Bible — give false evi-
dence of his own character ? Can election and repro-
bation be true? Is the great majority of mankind
irretrievably doomed to endless pain? Was this
JEt. 18.] DAWN OF A NEW VISION. 37
doom determined in the foreknowledge of God when
the world was made? What then must be thought
of the character of God?"
Such questions haunted him day and night. They
took hold of his life. He was surrounded by those
who professed to believe Calvinism, and who appeared
to find no difficulty in holding their creed. He ap-
pealed to them for help. " Will you," he said, " who
are undisturbed in your faith, give me kindly guid-
ance out of my distress?" They scorned Universal-
ism ; but not one sound reason could they give him
why he should not become a Universalist.
At last an allrdiffusive light shone upon liim through
the pages of Scripture. He could doubt no longer
that God is a Father impartial in his love. When
a storm subsides and the sun shines again, there
will still be floating clouds in the sky : so now there
were some minor difficulties in his Bible not cleared
away; some problems of faith not brought to solu-
tion. But God's impartiality he no longer doubted.
This thought became fundamental in his faith. He
was confident that all perplexing clouds would be
in. due time dissipated. He possessed the patience
He saw he must, in faithfulness to his conviction,
accept a place among the people he had despised.
Not for a moment did he, after the fact was realized
by him, hesitate to avow himself a Universalist.
The stake would not have kept him from confessing
his dawning vision of truth. Modestly does he tell
it all : " Before I returned the next fall my mind was
quite settled in the consoling belief that God will
finally have mercy on all men."
88 HOSEA BALLOU. [1789.
We have warrant for believing that his homeward
journey in the autumn of 1789 must have been pur-
sued with mingled feelings of gladness and sorrow.
He could but be glad for the new light that had
brightened his inward life, — the light which, shin-
ing out of his heart, made all things in the world
more beautiful. Yet he could not forget that his
change of faith must cause great grief to an affec-
tionate father. His father had himself apparently
known no such difficulties in believing Calvinism as
his son had encountered ; it was therefore scarcely
to be expected that he could appreciate the reasons
which had wrought the change in his son. Of these
things young Hosea must have thought as his sum-
mer's work done he turned his face homeward.
He was met on his arrival home, however, by a
great and welcome surprise. His brother David,
twelve years his senior, now married and living in
Richmond, had during the summer avowed himself
a Universalist. He had, unknown to Hosea, been
for more than a year quietly investigating the prob-
lem of faith; he had at last come to a conclusion
far removed from the creed in which he had been
reared. He had even begun in a humble way to
preach impartial grace. The grief of the father
over his youngest son's change of belief was prob-
ably lessened by the shock not coming singly. His
youngest son could not seem to him so much de-
serving of blame as his mature son David, who
was by nature peculiarly calm and meditative. Why
this philosopher among his children should peril his
soul with such a heresy remained to the father an
Mt. 18.] DAWN OF A NEW VISION. 39
A little story is told pertaining to tliese days, which
illustrates a certain harmless, playful trait in Hosea's
character. "What book are you reading?" asked
his father one day. "A Universalist book, father."
"I cannot allow a Universalist book in my house,"
— the words being said not altogether seriously.
Hosea carried his volume out of doors, and in sight
of the watchful paternal eyes hid it in the woodpile.
He saw his father soon after search out the offend-
ing volume, and was not unduly hilarious at his fa-
ther's chagrin on finding his son's Universalist book
was the Bible.
The kind-hearted father did not accept his son's
new faith; but his love for his youngest child, to
whom he had been both father and mother, remained
during his life fond and tender. The enraptured
young believer fortunately was not required to for-
sake father and home for the sake of his faith. This
would, indeed, have been hard for him, but not to
his heroism of faith impossible.
Period, 1790-1791. Agb, 19-20.
YOUNG Hosea cherished as yet no plan of life
embracing the Christian ministry as a profes-
sion. That he however earnestly desired to com-
mend his new faith to his fellow-men we cannot
doubt. Such joy as his could not keep silence.
The ministry as he saw it could not have been
alluring to his worldly ambition. His father had
been a farmer more than a preacher; his brother
David, now beginning to preach, declared his pur-
pose (which was through a long life maintained)
not to accept worldly compensation for heralding
the news of the great salvation. Hosea thought it
possible he might in like manner some day combine
Sunday preaching in school-houses, private dwellings,
barns, groves, sometimes in a church, with daily em-
ployment for his livelihood. "When I engaged in
the ministry," he says, "it was not with the most
distant expectation that I should support myself by
Yet he felt that even such a partial ministry as he
hoped to fulfil required increased scope in his educa-
tion. He set himself to books with desperation.
He lived this winter with his brother David, whom
he could assist in winter farm-work, and with whom
Mr, 19-20.] SELF-MASTERY. 41
he could also pursue his growing passion for Bible
A fortunate opportunity of school attendance was
unexpectedly offered. A private school, the first in
Richmond, was started by some teacher now un-
known ; it met in the little unpainted Quaker meet-
ing-house : whatever urchins had parents able to pay
their tuition were invited. News indeed to the eager
young divinity student! "Here," he said, *'I ob-
tained my first instruction in English grammar."
Think of it ! What wonder that some of his habits
of crude speech were hard to overcome, since they
were rooted in unconsciousness for almost twenty
years ! We can easily believe him when he says,
"I studied night and day; slept little, ate little."
Feverish weeks, in which by swift long leaps he
hurried over the deferred tasks of childhood and
early youth. Well for him he had vigorous health.
Neither days nor nights were long enough for his
untiring study. Midnight oil he had none to burn:
the whales of the sea made no contributions to that
inland wilderness; but we can hope the flickering
blaze of pine-knots was succeeded at least by the
luxury of a tallow-dip to lighten his late night
The weeks of his first school were few, and quickly
passed. At the end he had scarcely made a begin-
ning in his new studies. His thirst for knowledge
was only intensified.
He now, with some degree of daring, turned his
hope toward an academy. We learn of him next
as spending one term in the Chesterfield Academy
in New Hampshire. To this end he devoted all the
42 HOSEA BALLOU. [1790-1791.
slow earnings he had saved. He purposed to make
the utmost possible use of his allotted time; he
joined classes far in advance of his acquirements,
and devoted his nights to the preliminary studies.
Such heroic zeal could but awaken helpful sympa-
thy. His teachers, seeing his assiduity, rendered
him gratuitous night assistance. The country-boy
in homespun found appreciative friends. "I well
remember ,'* said he many years afterward, "the
kindness and consideration exercised toward me by
Professor Logan, the principal of the academy, who
seemed resolved that my tuition should be of real
benefit to me."
Hosea had before lived among those who but lightly
esteemed the advantages of education; he found a
different atmosphere among those who placed a high
estimate on mental culture. Those flitting weeks at
Chesterfield, rendered almost sleepless by his eager-
ness to turn every possible moment to account, se-
cured to him the elements of book-knowledge. He
then for the first time came into association with
young men of his own age who had been favored
by previous mental training. It worked no harm to
him, — for pride or vanity he had none, — to dis-
cover himself not their inferior in ability to master
the prescribed school problems.
When he left the academy he was granted a cer-
tificate of competency to teach a common school.
This quickly but dearly-won document was destined
to be of substantial value to him in the years imme-
Our narrative must not be blocked with panegyric ;
but the reader will note that this rare young man is
-Et. 19-20.] SELF-MASTERY. 43
thus strenuously preparing himself to preach, with
not the most distant expectation that he can ever
support himself by preaching. Is he not, without
the least thought of it, clothing himself in the in-
visible mantle of Saint Paul?
During the summer following he worked in Rich-
mond on his brother David's farm. He was about this
time duly excommunicated from the Baptist Church,
with such courtesy, however, as took all bitterness
out of the act. No fault was found with him, but only
with his belief. He had always afterward a kindly
regard, a " family feeling " he called it, for the
In fellowship with his genial brother the summer
wore happily away. The Bible was Hosea's constant
companion ; " it was ever in his hands or about his
In September he and his brother attended the New
England General Convention of Universalists at Ox-
ford, Massachusetts. It was to them both a great
privilege. Isolated as they were, they coveted the fel-
lowship of kindred minds. They had heard through
Rev. Caleb Rich of Universalism having some foot-
hold on the Atlantic sea-board, and the fame of such
names as John Murray, George Richards, Elhanan
Winchester, Thomas Barnes, preachers of impartial
grace, had reached them in dim reports. To attend
a convention of their fellow-believers who had won
victories for their faith was, we can well believe, an
esteemed privilege. "Here," says Hosea, "I saw
John Murray for the first time, and George Richards,
and some other public teachers." No record has
come to us of the session of the Convention in 1791.
44 HOSEA BALLOU. [1790-1791.
It is not probable any of the recognized preachers
gave special attention to the youug layman, who came
with open heart to hear and see. Yet more impor-
tant than anything else in the Convention, and all
tilings combined, as pertaining to the future of Uni-
versalism, was the silent young man in homespun
clothes, in whose absorbent heart was throbbing a
He returned to his brother's home, and continued
his studies in fulfilment of his manifest destiny.
As a Baptist, he had been accustomed to offer
prayer and exliortation in lay meetings. In evening
meetings of believers of the new faith in his brother's
home he had also briefly borne his testimony. The
time was now approaching when he must pass the
ordeal of his first sermon. The occasion was one
in which no little interest naturally centred.
Hosea at nineteen must have been locally popular.
He had shown exceptional fleetness in running, skill
in wrestling, and brawn in casting the crowbar as a
javelin. He was open-hearted, cheery, also discreet
and^ thoughtful. It was to be expected that a goodly
company would be present to hear his first sermon.
The meeting was at the house of Deacon Thayer,
a man who had been a deacon in the Baptist Church
of Richmond, but had become a convert to Univer-
salism under the preaching of Rev. Caleb Rich. It
marks the importance of the occasion to find Rev.
Caleb Rich, of Warwick, present to hear the first
sermon of the young man. David Ballon was also
present. There were doubtless besides these other
anxious listeners. The text was, 1 Cor. i. 30 : " But
of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made
^T. 19-20.] SELF-MASTERY. 45
unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctifica-
tion, and redemption." This is the text ; the sermon
is not extant. No one who heard it could long re-
member it. It was spoken of with pity. The young
preacher rambled in his thoughts, became incoherent,
but persevered through the martyrdom of a reason-
able sermon-time. The attempted discourse was
without manuscript; such was the preaching-custom
in that time and locality. The young preacher's
perspiration flowed freely, his words quite contrari-
wise. When he had finished he was shame-stricken.
Rev. Mr. Rich and his brother David felt deeply for
him, yet did not completely despair in his behalf.
When Hosea could look calmly back on this occur-
rence, and dispassionately narrate it, he said: "Ac-
cording to what I could learn, my brother and Rev.
Caleb Rich had doubts whether I had a talent for
such labor, but were not without some hope."
It was a gleam of comfort that he did not break
down utterly. To be sure, he could not, as the giddy
focus of so many eyes, say what he wished to say,
or anything akin to it; still he had managed to
stumble on and say something, even if not in the
least to the purpose. This was a straw for his
sinking courage to grasp. It pleased Providence,
however, to give the young aspirant a yet deeper
"The second time," he says, "I attempted to
preach was in the town of Brattleborough, Vermont,
where my brother preached in the daytime, and I
undertook to speak in the evening, being overper-
Buaded to do so ; but this attempt was a failure, and
I was greatly mortified, and thought for a time that
46 HOSEA BALLOU. [17904791.
I would not engage in a work for which I was not
competent." A small tragedy is here outlined. His
previous partial failure had left him in partial dis-
couragement. His kindly brother, however, bade
him be of good cheer ; he would yet, he was told,
be able to bear his message with composure. The
sight, too, of the familiar eyes of his curious young
acquaintances had before been bewildering to him;
but among strangers he might do better. He
yielded to fraternal urging. But when he found
himself standing again before an audience a tremor
ran through his nerves. Into any single pair of
those eyes he could have looked steadily, and spoken
his mind freely; but the continued gaze of the
many eyes dissipated his ideas, clogged his words,
relaxed his muscles, and gave him an unwelcome
sweat-bath. It is said the best blooded fighting-
cock, if once whipped, is always afterward a cow-
ard. One flash of recollection of his former defeat
may have in this moment modified the courage of
our hero. He struggled while he could, and then
sank helpless to his seat, thus gaining and giving
It is not to be wondered at that the young man
was now deeply dejected.
Nor is it astonishing such a young man should
make such an apparently inauspicious beginning in
his public speaking. He is unconsciously aiming at
a higher prize than he has yet had courage to covet.
In him is the force sublime of kindling life. It is
in him to play with audiences as an artist plays a
grand organ, brinsfing from a multitude now the joy-
ful, now the high-aspiring, now ''the low, sad music
Mt. 19-20.1 SELF-MASTERY. 47
of humanity." Not yet does he dream that he car-
ries such incipient forces within him. How is he to
become such a master of assemblies ? As all others
have done, through self-mastery.
Those of cold nature, not centring in themselves
the common thought and feeling, may speak the first
time with easy self-poise. Such may be rhetoricians,
but not orators; lecturers, not preachers. It was
because Hosea Ballou, like Demosthenes, Sheridan,
Patrick Henry, had the stuff of the orator in him,
that he, like these and many another, was compelled
by discipline to learn to control his faculties in the
presence of critical eyes, and on his feet organize
his thoughts for capturing the common heart. The
temporary disheartening of our crude orator need
not therefore awaken despair in his behalf.
He tells the sequel of this part of his story: "It
was not long before I became encouraged to try
again ; after which I met with no remarkable failure
to produce discouragement."
For some months succeeding he continued to live
in Richmond, engaged in farm-labor, but preaching
as best he could wherever he found hearers in his
native town or in towns surrounding; and little by
little, through more ready command of his scriptural
knowledge, and his native logical faculties, and his
power of expression, he increased his self-mastery.
HIS HORIZON BROADENS; ORDINATION;
Period, 1791-1797. Age, 20-26.
HOSEA BALLOU gave to his vision of truth his
first and deepest love, and served it to his last
day with heroic consecration.
We advance our narrative nearly three years, — from
the time when he began publicly to declare God's love
to all men in the winter of 1791, to September in the
The New England Convention of Universalists is
again in session in Oxford, Massachusetts. Three years
ago, it will be remembered, young Hosea Ballon came
with his brother David from his native Richmond, to
attend the Convention in this same Oxford. It is an
indication of the numerical smallness of the Univer-
salist sect at this time, that the Convention, meeting
annually in turn among the parishes, comes again so
soon to this little town. A reason, however, why this
town is preferred may be the fact that among the lay-
men of Oxford are some persons who have unusual
J)readth of vision and are anxious to promote a gen-
eral organization of Universalist preachers and par-
ishes, that the cause at large may be more effectively
Two important items of business will make this
session of the Convention in 1794 memorable.
^T. 20-26.1 HIS HORIZON BROADENS. 49
One is its adoption of the articles of faith and form
of church government recommended by the Phila-
delphia Convention at its session of the previous year,
by which all the Universalists of the land, as far as
declaration can effect, are brought into harmony of
belief and likeness of organization and discipline ; the
other, and a matter of more direct bearing on our
narrative, is the ordination of Hosea Ballon in a ser-
vice as unique as had been his preparation for ordina-
The Convention meets ; it proceeds to business by
the choice of Rev. Elhanan Winchester president,
Rev. Joab Young clerk.
The business of previous Conventions has been
largely the expression of mutual sympathy among the
brethren. The sect " everywhere spoken against,"
with a scattered membership, thus gained new courage
as it felt the heart-throbs of its common life. But
this year there is felt to be business of more practical
import to be done. The plan of organization, looking
to the unity of all Universalists in America, is fully
discussed and heartily adopted. Also a proposition
to simplify the system of religion in a catechism for
children is held under consideration, and a committee
is appointed to devise means whereby the coming gen-
eration may be instructed in the Universalist faith.
A prophetic spirit is, now beginning to stir the com-
mon heart of Universalist believers. They feel their
faith has come into the world to stay. It quickens
their hope to hear reports of unprecedented progress.
Thirty-eight new preaching stations have been added
to the New England missionary circuit during the
year past. The cause moves on.
50 llOSEA BALLOU. [1791-1797.
The meetings for preaching during the Convention
are frequent. Many of those assembled will for weeks
and months hear no preaching after the Convention
dissolves ; they can bear, indeed they covet, a generous
present supply to be held in memory as a reserve.
When Hosea Ballou was here three years since he
was, we may recall, a diffident young layman. Now,
however, he has attained to readiness and marked
effectiveness of speech. It is not in him to keep si-
lent when opportunity offers to bear testimony to his
faith. He is still nominally a layman, but among
laymen he has exercised his liberty.
Rev. Elhanan Winchester at this Convention meets
and hears Hosea Ballou for the first time. " Who,"
he may have asked, " is this shy but rare young man ?'
What is his history ? Is it he who these three years
past has been fulfilling such a self-sacrificing minis-
try in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hamp-
shire?" Yes, he it is who, with his certificate from
the Chesterfield Academy, nearly three years since
obtained a position as teacher in Bellingham, Massa-
chusetts, expressly that he might preach on Sunday
without price. From Bellingham he went to Poster,
Rhode Island, and there also taught on week-days and
preached in his own school-house on Sundays. We
hear of him also in Scituate, Rhode Island, where his
father once preached ; in Smithfield, Providence, Paw-
tucket, in Royalston, Petersham, Brookfield, Stur-
bridge, Charlton, Hardwick, and here in Oxford has his
voice been heard. In Murray's church in Gloucester,
Massachusetts, he has preached and met with approval ;
he has travelled to the Connecticut River west, to Rich-
mond north, and to Hartford and New London south.
^T. 20-26.] HIS HORIZON BROADENS. 51
And not alone on Sundays has he preached, but on the
week-day evenings, after his day of teaching, he has
often instructed and stirred the people wlio have gath-
ered in barns or school-houses or private dwellings to
hear him speak of the things of the Kingdom. And
he has been meanwhile a strenuous student, with origi-
nal thoughts budding in him. Such labors have se-
verely taxed even his vigorous constitution. He has
felt pain from indigestion, yet has kept at his work ;
has filled appointments indeed even when compelled
to sit while preaching. Young man ! what has been
your worldly gain ? " Mine has not been a hard lot ;
I have been honored above many others by being per-
mitted to preach in the name of Jesus ! " But what
has been your worldly gain ? " Worldly gain ! Only
that I have more costly clothing than the homespun
with which I began.*'
Rev. Elhanan Winchester hears this story. It is
not told by the young evangelist, but it is in the air
and known of all. Several of the new preaching sta-
tions this year reported are the result of his Pauline
labors. Elhanan Winchester has been himself of kin-
dred spirit. He too was once a Baptist ; as early as
1780 he gave up a position of popular regard in his
sect that he might proclaim the more hopeful faith
that had been born in him. In some ideas of doc-
trine differing from Murray and Relly, he has been
behind neither in self-sacrificing zeal in heralding
both in America and England the great hope. He
is now in his active mid-life. He is held among
Universalists in especial honor. The people delight
to hear him. He is of large and generous nature,
fluent and rapt in speech.
52 HOSEA BALLOU. [1790-1797.
He has heard what has been said of young Hosea
Ballon. The story vibrates a sympathetic chord in
his own self-forgetful nature.
It falls to Rev. Elhanan Winchester, as President
of the Convention, to preach the final sermon. He
has invited young Hosea Ballou into the pulpit with
him, also Brother Joab Young. He yields himself to
the suggestions of the hour, and his utterance be-
comes fervid. It is a season of awakened hope.
The banners of the kingdom are everywhere advan-
cing. Despised the cause may be by those who
have set their hearts against it ; still it finds devoted
friends. The wrath of man is powerless to hinder its
progress. What more natural than for the preacher,
in the glowing tide of speech, to speak of the victo-
ries won for the cross by the modest young man at
his side? Not a heart present but is responsive to
the preacher. What more natural than for him to
ask of the young man, who has heretofore during
his ministry been unable to fulfil the special func-
tions of a clergyman for want of ordination, to now
stand forth ?
" This young man has, brethren, with no help save
of God, won his right to ordination. To him we
give our trust." The preacher now speaks as one
inspired. He takes up the pulpit Bible and says:
" Brother -Ballou, I press to your heart the written
Jehovah!" The congregation is electrified and
melted. How harmonious and appropriate is it all!
For a moment the venerable preacher holds the
Bible to the throbbing young heart; then in kindly,
imperative tone of spiritual authority says, " Brother
Young, charge him." The charge is voiced by Rev.
JEt. 20-26.] ORDINATION. — MARRIAGE. 63
Joab Young, who is reputed eloquent of speech,
but who could not, even if his temperament were
ordinarily cold, fail to speak with a heart at white-
heat in an hour inspiring and hopeful as this.
So Hosea Ballou has won the trust of his breth-
ren; he has won his honors, so to speak, in the
field. Now, at the close of the Convention, without
solicitation or expectation on his part, he finds him-
self an ordained minister of the gospel. It is not
possible for him to betray the generous trust his
admiring and loving brethren have so spontaneously
reposed in him.
Who can withhold the prophecy that he will make
full proof of his ministry in the future years?
Two years pass, and we see the subject of this
narrative at another epoch in his life. In the town
records of Hardwick the following memorandum is
made : « Sept. 11, 1796. Mr. Hosea Ballou, of Hard-
wick, and Miss Ruth Washburn, of Williamsburg."
No one will be in doubt as to the meaning of this.
No one whose heart has not withered, but is capti-
vated by the rapture of "love's young dream." It
accords with our present purpose to dwell on this
epoch in our hero's life only as it illustrates the
statement made at the beginning of this chapter.
This experience of his life, idyllic, romantic, entran-
cing as it must have been, was in our mind when
we said our hero gave to his vision of truth his first
and deepest love, and served it to his last day with
entire consecration. This is not saying he was not
an ardent lover; it simply means his strongest hu-
man love was held in subordination to his deeper
64 HOSEA BALLOU. [1790-1797.
Only a sketch can we gather from the scant tes-
timony of this attractive experience. It appears Rev.
Caleb Rich told Hosea Ballon, when he was twenty-five,
that he ought to marry and make for himself a home.
So altogether absorbed in his love of the gospel had
Hosea been, that this very obvious duty seems not
before to have occurred to him. " And furthermore,"
said the clerical match-maker, "I know a young
woman in Williamsburg who would make you an
excellent wife. She has had good home-training;
she is of noble nature ; she has been led by her par-
ents tp embrace the gospel as we understand it;
she has been educated in habits of frugality and in-
dustry; withal, she is very attractive and comely in
her person. This young paragon of a minister's
wife is the daughter of Brother Stephen Washburn,
— Ruth Washburn, if you please, — and her single
fault is that, being but seventeen years of age, and
eight years your junior, she is slightly juvenile for
the grave cares you would, in case you should be so
fortunate as to win her heart and hand, expect her
to assume; but the fault of youth she will in time
outgrow." In some such way Rev. Caleb Rich talked
to youug Hosea Ballou. The plain prose of it is in
the record: "Rev. Caleb Rich commended to his
attention a young lady of Williamsburg, Massachu-
setts, Miss Ruth Washburn, who was a few years
younger than himself." We report the speech which,
as appears to us. Rev. Caleb Rich must in substance
What Hosea said in reply is not by so much as a
hint recorded. Perhaps he blushed and said nothing.
The next scene in the drama is Rev. Caleb Rich
JEt. 20-28.1 MARRIAGE. 65
making a similar address to the young lady herself.
It is very tempting for ua again to use our imagi-
nation. We refrain. The plain historical prose is
this : " She was prepared by the well-meaning elder
to receive Mr. Ballou's visits with favor." Well-
meaning! Not only in this case did he mean well,
but he did well. The conclusion is foregone. When,
years afterward, Mrs. Ballou told this bit of romance
to Rev. Thomas Whittemore, she said that as soon
as she saw the young man, in company with Elder
Rich, approaching her father's house, — a red and
tremulous young man he must have been, neverthe-
less manly and not unhandsome ! — she said to her-
self, or something within her seemed to say, " There
comes my future companion.'' A marriage, and
with Rev. Caleb Rich the officiating clergyman, is the
inevitable result. In that instance the officiating
clergyman well earned his marriage fee ; and we wish
it could have been larger than the worldly posses-
sions of the bridegroom would at that period justly
Perhaps some young reader may suspect that such
a marriage, entered upon by a method quite unlike
that of the story-books, did not prove happy. No
greater mistake could be made. A marriage con-
tracted thus, in subordination to the dictates of
religion, has the highest possible promise. This
proved in fact an ideal marriage. After years have
passed, we must look again at this home, now with
hope begun. We shall find it based not alone on
the stern idea of duty, — from which indeed it never
swerved, — but on a conjugal love which had in it
the grip of death and the hope of heaven.
66 HOSEA BALLOU. [1790-1797.
But mark this. The love of woman, in the day
of his youth, was held quite subordinate to his love
for his vision of truth, which imposed on him a
cross of daily hardship. Chivalric the hero who
"I could not love thee, dear, so well,
Loved I not honor more."
Hosea Ballou was with exceptional ardor devoted
to his home; we shall find him an ardent lover at
eighty : the notable thing is that he was an ideal hus-
band and father because he loved truth better than
houses or lands or wife or children.
After Hosea and his wife had remained at her
father's home three months, the young couple moved
to a home of their own in Hardwick, where they re-
mained in peaceful content seven years, during which
the young theologian made long strides in spiritual
Before this chapter is closed, a brief account must
be given of the effect of Hosea Ballou's preaching
during these his most peaceful days. It was becom-
ing apparent even to him that he had unusual power
over the people who constituted his congregations.
There was now a fathomless joy in his life, and this
he in his facile speech diffused. It was, as compared
with the accustomed method, " a sea-change, . . . rich
and strange," for the common people to hear one talk
to them so earnestly, and in their own vernacular,
presenting religion as meeting their daily needs, and
finding for them in familiar objects and every-day
occurrences pictures of hidden realities. Many people
came to hear him because made curious by his spread-
ing fame. He had genius in speaking words which
JEt. 20-26.] MARRIAGE. 57
necessitated report and iteration. Tliose who came
merely to gratify curiosity were often surprised into
captivated adherents. In all the places he visited, his
congregations increased. There were always some,
it is true, to decry, cavil, and distort; there were
some to shudder at the new heresy as a sorcery lur-
ing to endless horrors. So it ever has been. Of the
Son of Man it was said that he cast out demons by
favor of the arch-demon.
Of necessity such opposition made of the young
preacher a controversialist. He boldly assailed the
challenging Goliath who claimed possession of the
land. In those days it was more like a fair and
open fight than in the days which succeeded. True,
the Goliath of Calvinism was mailed in prejudice
and custom; yet it made its claims of Scripture
support boldly, and did not, as in a later age,' skulk
from one covert to another, and nowhere make a
stand. The young David had joy in his brave fight.
This Calvinistic Goliath, unlike the old Philistine
giant, could endure more than one skull-penetrating
pebble; with his body weighted with lodged pebbles
he could still walk about, making a show of life, —
and indeed so continues in the day that now is. But
it was a coveted privilege for the young expounder
to hurl one after another the explained proof-texts at
the giant, together with the plain testimonies of the
Bible to God's universal love. In this work the young
preacher did not grow hard or bitter. There was
such serenity and gladness in his life that he could
easily keep patience even with scorners and tradu-
cers. He lived the doctrine of human brotherhood he
preached. His love of Calvinism is not apparent ; it
58 UOSEA BALLOU. [1790-1797.
grew less and less every year ; but his love of men was
strong and sincere. It was born of his responsive
love to God. He kindled hope in many a heart in
those days of itinerant Christian ministry, by show-
ing how behind every frowning providence God hides
a smiling face.
This general characterization of his preaching and
its influence is intended to apply to the early years
of his ministry, when he travelled long journeys over
the steep northern hills, by wagon or sleigh or on
horseback, and as a rule preached three times on
Sunday, and on almost every evening of the week.
Peaceful, happy, busy, prophetic years!
HARD WICK-DANA, MASS.; BARNARD, VT.
Period, 1797-1804. Age, 20-33.
TTOSEA BALLOU and his young wife at the be-
■*• -■■ ginning of their housekeeping remained seven
years in one house; yet near the middle of the pe-
riod their home was, strangely enough, changed from
Hardwick to Dana. The explanation is that in 1801
the town of Dana was formed of parts of Hardwick,
Greenwich, and Petersham; their home was in the
During these years Mr. Ballon fully regained his
ruddiness and robustness. Referring to this period
he says, " My uniform weight for several years was
about two hundred pounds." He was six feet in
height, and firmly built. He had physical resources
for hard work and effective oratory.
During this period his stated compensation was five
dollar^ per Sunday. It indicates the worldly strug-
gle in which the farming population was involved at
the beginning of the century, to find that even this
seeming pittance could be raised only from a large
circuit of preaching stations. Yet he is not a sub-
ject for pity. He fared well, if not sumptuously.
He kept his own horse and vehicle. He was easily
able to maintain whatever "style" was prevalent
60 ROSEA BALLOU. [1797-1804.
among his neighbors. There was plenty in his mod-
est home. He lived in grateful content.
During his second year in Hardwick he involun-
tarily became an author. He was for some unex-
plained reason moved to address a letter to Rev.
Joel Foster, A.M., of New Salem, Massachusetts,
inviting him to a friendly discussion of the points
at issue between Orthodox and Universalist theology.
As the letter was accompanied by the statement that
its author had enjoyed but few educational advan-
tages, and earnestly desired the benefit of Mr. Foster's
larger experience and well-known scholarship, the
request was courteously entertained. An extended
discussion was the result. It was admirable audacity
in the young man to propose such an investigation.
The benefit he received was real. For one thing, he
had Orthodox doctrines presented in exact statements.
For another, he had the advantage of being politely
ridiculed for his verbal inelegancies and inaccuracies.
The pen had been until this time an unused instru-
ment in his hands ; he could hardly be expected to ex-
hibit the grace of an expert. He had the good sense
to be thankful to his critic for even helpful ridicule.
An interesting item of this controversy is that
although Mr. Ballou, for the purpose of investiga-
tion, had assumed the position that there will be no
future punishment, he at the end of the discussion
confessed, " I am now satisfied in the idea of a future
state of discipline, in which the impenitent will be
miserable." There can be no question that at this
period such was his belief.
At the close of the discussion Mr. Foster proposed
that the letters be published. Mr. Ballou replied,
^T. 26-33.] HARDWICK-DANA, MASS. 61
"As some of my letters contain thoughts which I
am unwilling to contend for in public, you will ex-
cuse me if I am not willing to publish them." What
must we think of a Christian minister who could,
nevertheless, publish the discussion, and give his
opponent no opportunity at correction or revision?
This Rev. Joel Foster, A.M., proceeded to do; en-
titling the book, "A Literary Correspondence," —
an innuendo touching Mr. Ballou's style. It is to our
hero's credit that he kept his temper. The book,
long since consigned to obscurity, is a curiosity in
being a reminder of how Hosea Ballon at first be-
came involuntarily an author. He was born to be
an author, and he achieved authorship; he also had
authorship thrust upon him.
In the autumn of 1797 he made an extended visit
to Boston, during which a famous episode occurred
in Rev. John Murray's church. A fact has already
been slightly hinted, which will hereafter be more
fully set forth ; namely, that Mr. Ballou had learned
from his study of the Scriptures a different system
of religion from that which had from Relly's day
prevailed among Universalists. He believed Christ
is subordinate to the Father; that he came to do,
not to frustrate, the Father's will, — to express God's
love to men, not to satisfy his law or palliate his
wrath. Some of his ministerial brethren were ag-
grieved at this departure from their standard of
doctrine. Among the most deeply aggrieved was
Rev. John Murray, popularly known as the founder
of Universalism in America. Mr. Murray held, with
Relly of England, that all mankind are saved by their
union with Christ. As every man is mystically
62 HOSEA BALLOU. 11797-1804.
united to Adam; he said, so every man is Ukewise
mystically united with Christ. "The redemption,"
said Mr. Murray, "will therefore be, through the
substitutionary sufferings of Christ, co-extensive with
the fall." When Mr. Murray heard of Mr. Ballon
denying original reprobation, and the substitutionary
punishment of Christ, he was not pleased. When,
therefore, in October, 1797, he wrote to Mr. Ballou at
Hardwick, we are not surprised that he should begin
his letter : " My dear Brother, — You are sensible, I
presume, that some time past you delivered in this
town some matters not quite pleasing to me."
This must refer to Mr. Ballou's brief visit in Bos-
ton on his way from Cape Ann, before his ordina-
tion. We infer that he preached his new views in
the presence of the veteran that he might have the
benefit of his opinion. Mr. Murray, while not satis-
fied with the innovation, was yet at this time mag-
nanimous. The letter proceeds from "censures" to
"commendations," and soon turns to an invitation
to the young preacher to be the author's substitute
in his pulpit during his contemplated absence in
Philadelphia. The country preacher is offered the
enticing remuneration of ten dollars per Sunday,
•exclusive of his weekly keep; and Mr. Murray, as
an added inducement, tells him he may preach even-
ings in contiguous towns to his heart's content. The
plain implication is, however, that the young man
from the hill-country is not, in Mr. Murray's absence,
to stand in his place and assault his doctrines. We
think Mr. Ballou understood this, and that he did not
during his ten Sundays in Boston consciously in a
single instance violate Christian courtesy.
^T. 26-33.] HARD WICK-DANA, MASS. 63
The scene which occurred on the afternoon of his
last Sunday is of little importance save as an ex-
hibition of feminine alertness, and a young preach-
er's dignified self-control. We accept Dr. Whitte-
more's account of the matter, in the main, rather
than that of Maturin Ballon. The latter says that
his father "boldly preached his Unitarian views."
We think the son was misinformed. His father
could scarcely have done that and observed the
courtesy for which he was noted. Some words are
quoted as from Hosea Ballon which certainly can-
not be his. His producing disturbance by his Uni-
tarian views, and then declaiming that "he had
come there to preach no one's convictions but his
own," that " he should proclaim the truth as by the
help of Heaven he had been enabled to learn it from
the Bible, and the truth only," — all this seems in-
herently improbable. The son in his biography must
have been in this instance led into error. The sub-
stantial facts were written by Dr. Whittemore, and
his account publicly approved by Mr. Ballon;^ the
story bears on its face the evidence of its truth.
The clew is the fact that Mrs. Murray was an
"uneasy spirit." It is she and not Mr. Ballon who
makes the scene. She has listened to her husband's
substitute through all the Sundays on the qui vive
for some objection. She has seen that the verdant
young preacher has strangely captivated the people.
Not even her florid and emotional husband was ever
heard with more absorbing attention. She was, with
due deference to her sex, a woman; she was, fur-
thermore, a solicitous wife; she was, be it kindly
1 See Trumpet, vol, xx. p. 160.
64 HOSEA BALLOU. [1797-1804.
repeated, an "uneasy spirit." Now, on this last
afternoon (we imagine her thinking), this ambitious
young preacher is to air his heresy. What else can
his text mean ? " When all things shall be subdued
unto him, then shall the Son also be subject unto him
that put all things under him, that God may be all
in all." If that refers to Christ (we imagine her
saying) it surely implies his subordination to the
Father. It must refer to the "son of perdition."
Meanwhile the sermon goes on. The text is devel-
oped mainly as a testimony to the final triumph of
the mediatorial reign of Christ and the redemption
of the universe from evil. Rapt the listeners ! Some-
thing must be done. She sends a Mr. Tirrill to the
singing seats with a message for Mr. Jonathan Balch.
Mr. Ballou, having offered the final prayer, stands
with hymn-book in hand to read the final hymn.
Mr. Jonathan Balch from the singing gallery breaks
forth : " I wish to give notice that the doctrine which
has been preached here this afternoon is not the doc-
trine which is usually preached in this house." It
is to be regretted that the sunlight could not at that
moment have opportunely pictured the expression on
Mr. Ballou's face. What will he say? If he had
said he came there " to preach nobody's convictions
but his own," and " should proclaim the truth as by
the help of Heaven he had been enabled to learn it
from the Bible," he would have cheapened himself by
telling what the people knew already. Will he say
that he has not consciously forgotten courtesy ; that
his disagreement with Mr. Murray, as it appeared in
his sermon, was but incidental ; that he had endeav-
ored in his sermons to respect the opinions of the
^T. 26-33 ] HARDWICK-DANA, MASS. 65
absent pastor? TrutlifuUy he might have said this;
but not a word of this did he say. What he did say,
with self-repression and quiet dignity, is, " The au-
dience will please take notice of what our brother
has said." Then he proceeded to read the closing
Poor " uneasy " Mrs. Murray ! In a published ser-
mon of her husband on the same text there is no
mention of the Son meaning the "son of perdition;"
the phrase is interpreted as meaning the human race
collectively ; and in the aggregate his meaning is not
unlike that which Mr. Ballou saw in the passage.
The singularity of the occurrence alone makes it
memorable. "It was," says Dr. Whittemore, "a
matter of Mrs. Murray, and of Mr. Balch as her in-
strument; the congregation at large were chagrined
and wounded by the transaction, and the committee
took immediate measures to assure Mr. Ballou of
These ten Sundays in Boston had prophetic sig-
nificance. His preaching was such as could not be
forgotten. It is proposed to him that if he will come
to the city a new society will be at once formed,
which will yield him ample support. "I cannot
do anything," he says, **to injure Brother Mur-
ray, or the beloved society to which he ministers ;
oblige me by not mentioning the subject again." The
whirligig of time, in many an instance, brings un-
looked-for things to pass. That Mr. Ballou will some
day come to Boston is a prophecy to be based on a
strong hope and an enduring purpose.
Now to the hills again! The city with its prof-
fered flatteries has not touched the simple nature of
66 HOSE A BALLOU. [1797-1804.
our hero. He resumes his itineracy. We find him
journeying from Cape Ann to Vermont, and preach-
ing with more or less regularity in Brookfield, Charl-
ton, Sturbridge, Oxford, and as often as once in four
weeks at home in Dana. He has a circuit which it
takes two months to complete. As far as is possi-
ble, he endeavors to answer all calls made upon him.
His sympathy goes quickly to any one who is grop-
ing in the terror-filled darkness of the old theology.
He knows in himself the pain of such fear. He knows
what it is to have heart-hunger for hope. No Mace-
donian cry can find him unresponsive. In mercy to
human nature he is eager to strike the Goliath of
Calvinism wherever he may an additional blow. By
nature as well as by his experience he is divinely
ordained to be a missionary.
In February, 1803, he removed his household to
Barnard, Vermont. There was a cluster of promis-
ing towns in that picturesque region — Woodstock,
Bethel, Bridgewater, Hartland — soliciting the new
interpretation of the gospel. Mr. Ballou was urged
by the older preachers to sow the seed in this new
ground. Regretfully he left Dana, but gladly con-
tinued his accustomed tasks in the new communities.
To guard against possible difficulty, owing to the
legal irregularity of his ordination, he was reordained
in Barnard, Sept. 27, 1803, with due regard to all
formalities. A sermon was preached by Rev. George
Richards; prayer was offered by Rev. Samuel Hil-
liard ; a charge was (for the second time) given
by Rev. Joab Young; and the fellowship of the
Convention and societies was voiced by Rev. Walter
JEt. 26-33.] BARNARD, VT. 67
In the same autumn, in 1803, he attended the
United States Convention of Universalists in Win-
chester, New Hampshire, at which the Universalist
Confession of Faith was adopted. A committee had
the previous year been appointed to present a dec-
laration of principles; and the committee reported
through Rev. Walter Ferris a declaration so fortu-
nate in statement that it seemed impossible it could
lead to division. It is understood the Confession
was written by Rev. Mr. Ferris. It was fully dis-
cussed in the Convention. It was opposed by Revs.
Noah Murray and Edward Turner, on the ground
that no creed-yoke should be put upon believers. It
was advocated by Revs. Walter Ferris, Zephaniah
Laithe, George Richards, and Hosea Ballon. It was,
the minority yielding, finally passed by unanimous
vote. It remains to this writing the authoritative
creed-symbol of the Universalist Church of America.^
In 1804 Mr. Ballon became of his own choice an
author. His first book, "Notes on the Parables," is
a study of the illustrative stories of the New Testa-
ment as interpreted by the Bible itself. It was writ-
ten during a temporary confinement at home. He
had been surprised to learn how generally the para-
1 Profession of Faith. Art. I. "We believe that the Holy Scrip-
tures of the Old and New Testaments contain a revelation of the
character of God, and of the duty, interest, and final destination of
Art. II. "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 and happiness.
Art. III. We believe that holiness and true happiness are insepara-
bly connected ; and that believers ought to be careful to maintain order
and practise good works j for these things ai'e good and profitable unto
68 HOSEA BALLOU. (1797-1804.
bles were regarded as literal history, and how often
they were misapplied to things foreign to the evident
intention of the sacred authors. He says in the
preface: "After travelling many miles and preach-
ing several sermons in a day, I have found it neces-
sary to explain various parables to some inquiring
hearer, when my strength seemed almost exhausted.
At such times I have thought a volume such as the
reader has in hand might save me much labor, and
I have often said, ' If God will give me a few weeks'
leisure I will, with his assistance, employ them in
writing Notes on the Parables.' " This favor of
leisure came in the deprivation of such health as
would be adequate for his taxing journeys, but leaving
him composed in his study. It is a very valuable
book, especially to those perplexed by the figurative
language of the parables. Some modern volumes pre-
sent advantages of knowledge of Eastern life such
as was impossible at this time to Hosea Ballou ; but
no other book better presents the plain common-sense
interpretation of the New Testament parables. It
has been a book greatly blessed in the enlightenment
of darkened minds.
Of another book, the "Treatise," — a book which
was an event, the dawn of an era, — we will more
fully speak in a chapter following.
The year 1804 was in subsequent years held by
Hosea Ballou in solemn retrospect. During its au-
tumn his honored father was borne to his rest. The
affection between parent and son was more than ordi-
narily tender. Hosea was the father's youngest child ;
he was loved as Jacob loved his youngest son Ben-
jamin ; neither is it to be forgotten that the widowed
^T. 26^33.] BAKNAKD, VT. 69
father had tried faithfully, as far as he was able, to
fulfil to the motherless boy a mother's ministry.
Hosea responded to his parent's peculiar love. It
is pleasing again to recall that no divergence of re-
ligious views broke the bond which united their
Through the mists of the years one scene comes
to distinct view, upon which we dwell with a pensive
gladness. It is in the Richmond church, or in a
church near Richmond. Hosea is the preacher. His
father is present as a hearer ; present also are three
of his brothers, two of whom are now in agreement
with the young apostle of the world-wide hope. The
Baptist father, however, remains steadfast to the
church of his early choice; yet he cannot repress
paternal pride as he looks upon his son. Hosea has
evidently had some anxiety in anticipating this or-
deal ; these paternal and fraternal eyes are penetrat-
ing ; he has, contrary to his custom, prepared for the
occasion a written discourse. During some minutes
after beginning to preach he reads from his manu-
script. But in reading his own words he is not an
adept ; and his feelings are now alive as they were not
.when in privacy he guided his pen. Always sensi-
tive to his hearers' mood, he feels he is becoming
wearisome. Why has he consented to be so tongue-
tied? He leaves his manuscript, pushing it quite
out of reach, and asserts his customary freedom of
utterance. All hesitation in a moment ceases. His
speech flows freely, copiously ; it sparkles, it burns ;
it seems the visible pulse of a heart on fire. See
the father now! Tears dim his longing eyes and
course down his furrowed cheeks. Ah, to be the
70 HOSEA BALLOU. [1797-180-4
father of such a boy ! Who will say the tremulous
beginnings of the great hope may not have been felt
by the listenhig parent ? It has been said that Hosea
never in his palmiest days spoke with more sublime
pathos. Truly this father and son were held together
by bonds of love which death could not break.
Only two years before this date Ch&teaubriand, the
eloquent defender of the Bible against French revolu-
tionary scepticism, on hearing of the death of his
pious mother, sat down to the writing of his master-
piece, " The Genius of Christianity," as a son's trib-
ute to her revered memory. May we not believe that
Hosea Ballou, in writing his "Treatise on Atone-
ment," his next work after his father's death, wrote
with a desire that he might embody his vision of
truth in such form as his transfigured father would
. "TREATISE ON ATONEMENT."
Period, 1806. Age, 34.
WHAT are we to understand by atonement ?
As a creed-doctrine it has a history; a
glance at which will show the monstrosities of the-
ory of which good Christians have been capable.
In the early ages of the Church the sophists natu-
rally asked, "Why did Christ die on the cross?"
They searched the Scriptures for an answer. They
read apostolic testimony that Christ died as a ransom.
As a ransom! So much then was settled. But to
whom; for whom? Here they had an opportunity
to exercise their renowned and peculiar ingenuity.
They lived in a barbaric age. They saw banditti
capture opulent citizens and hold them for ransom.
Beloved, here is the mystery of the cross solved.
Who is Satan but the arch-bandit? He captured
the children of God in the Garden. He held them
for ransom. He was open to barter, Christ offered
to die on the cross if Satan would yield his claim
on the race. He accepted the offer. So Christ be-
came our ransom. Do we caricature? Not in the
least. This was the reputed Orthodox doctrine of
atonement in the Church for more than a thousand
years. According to this theory men are saved from
Satan because Christ " gave the Devil his due."
72 HOSE^ BALLOU. [1806.
But in the eleventh century Anselm began to ask,
"Where, mean\«hile, is God?" He maintained that
the Creator and Judge must have been the actual
possessor of the race from the first. He proposed
as an amendment to the doctrine this ; namely, that
God in the beginning, to the praise of his vindictive
justice, brought the human race into existence for
no other purpose than to condemn to endless ruin
all save the few elect, and that Christ died to pacify
his anger against these few elect. This theory in
the interest of Satan was strongly opposed. Why,
it was asked, take the ownership of the race from
Satan after it has been conceded to him for a thou-
sand years? But Anselm's theory was formally
adopted. In fact, the change was slight. One the-
ory said Satan when it meant Satan; the other as-
cribed Satanic attributes to God. The theories were
equally satanic. A sect — vile heretics that they were
— rebelled against the new theory, declaring that God
did not hate the race before Adam lapsed from vir-
tue. Sublapsarians these heretics were called. The
doctrine was reaffirmed that God brought his non-
elect children into existence for the primal purpose
of showing his vindictive majesty. Supralapsarians
these more orthodox ones were called. The " Subs "
and " Supras " had a long discussion, which was sub-
stantially continued under the names Arminianism
and Calvinism. Subs and Supras alike held that
Jesus died to placate the bad temper of Deity.
Anselm's theory in its two schools prevailed in
America at the beginning of our century. The the-
ory is this in brief: God created Adam and placed
him in the Garden; Adam fell, instantly involving
;Et. 84] " TREATISE ON ATONEMENT." 73
himself and all his posterity in total guilt and doom ;
then God the Son, the second person in the Trinity,
died on the cross as the infinite atonement to an
infinite anger for an infinite sin. Through faith one
can (if he be of the elect, interpose the Calvinists)
obtain an interest in Christ's expiatory death, which
is the atonement.
This is the doctrine Hosea Ballou was taught in
his youth. It seems now impossible that men ever
believed such a so-called theology. Some old ser-
mons we have read seem utterly impossible of sober
belief; they seem in the same way satirical as De
Quincey in his strange essay, '• Murder as a Fine Art."
De Quincey, as those who have read his frightful
satire will recall, praises a skilful murderer as virile,
plucky, and cunning, and assumes it to be wrong to
find fault with him on the score of mere common-
place morality. " Through the great gallery of mur-
der, brethren, together let us wander in delighted
admiration." How exact this imitation of some of
the old sermons ! Why expect God to be moral ?
Earthly kings are scandalous and cruel; none dare
call them to account. Why should not the King
of kings in like manner be a law unto himself?
Whatever God does — whatever Augustine or Anselm
or Calvin or Edwards tells us God does — must be
right. So God was praised for beating Satan at his
own game, and then cruelly demanding of his chil-
dren that his unrighteousness be called righteous !
It stirs us to recall, even as dead doctrine, these
monstrosities of thought. We revive their memory
only to show the historical bearings of Hosea Ballou's
"Treatise." We must remember that Hosea Ballou
74 HOSEA BALLOU. 11806.
had been himself borne along by the current of the
common doctrine. With the common drift he ac-
cepted it without question. With Relly and Murray,
after his conversion to the great hope, lie believed
in man's universal fall in Adam, and in the conse-
quent need of a Divine pacification ; he differed from
the Calvinists in believing that the atonement of
Christ was effective for the whole human race. For
a season he was dazed by this system of terrible
doctrines. He asked why the glorious consumma-
tion needed to be reached through such a doubtful
process. He was also, as he confesses, further per-
plexed by reading " some deistical writings." He
probably refers to Paine's " Age of Reason," a crude
but pungent assault on the Bible in its traditional
Orthodox interpretation. It was issued in 1796, and
at once sent a magnetic shiver of consternation
through the whole reputed Orthodox hand-joined
circle. What Hosea Ballou learned from this book,
or from other deistical writings, was creditable to
his candor. "I was led to see," he says, "that it
was utterly impossible to maintain Christianity as
generally believed by the Christian church."
In his lonely rides over the hills of his northern
country we doubt not he pondered his great problem.
He was by nature a poet, else he could not have
been so true an orator. Nature in panoramic pic-
tures suggests breadth, greatness, harmony, rest.
Could he help questioning within himself, Is not
one God, the Infinite Good, over all? Did he not
foreknow the result of his creation? Is it not all
according to his plan? Can there be a rival evil
deity? Can Father and Son be co-eternal? Can
JEt. 84.] " TREATISE ON ATONEMENT." 75
punishment of the innocent clear the guilty? Can
the Bible contradict Nature ? A frustrated Creator !
a vengeful Judge ! a pacified Father ! Hard for a
free soul to think such disturbing thoughts under
the peaceful open sky! A voice within told him
that God is better and nearer than the creeds had
At last Hosea Ballon, to his unspeakable joy,
reached the solution of his problem. In his *' Trea-
tise" he made his solution known.
Atonement, what is it?
Not expiation, but reconciliation. It is satisfac-
tion, in the sense of content, or a want fulfilled. " A
being unreconciled to truth and justice needs recon-
ciliation; a dissatisfied being needs satisfaction."
What is atonement? Its precise etymology sig-
nifies AT-ONE-MENT, — alienated beings brought to
The unreconciled and dissatisfied beings needing
change are men, not the Immutable. " God was
in Christ reconciling the world unto himself." The
Eternal Father is not a subject of improvement. In-
finite Perfection is without shadow of turning.
Why, then, to ask again the old Christian sophist's
question, did Christ endure the cross ? We have had
in church doctrines, as we have seen, a progressive
series of answers. The early schoolmen said, "His
death is a ransom to Satan, to reconcile the bandit
to man's release from inferno." The mediaeval
schoolmen, under Anselm, said, " He died to placate
an incensed God, whose wrath could be pacified only
by an offering of his own Son's blood." The New
England Theology, or the Edwardsian System (the
76 HOSEA BALLOU. [1805.
New School of Orthodoxy in Hosea Ballou's day, be
it understood, is the Old School now), said, "He
died to fulfil the demands of the majestic broken
law, which must have so much suffering for so much
sin, but is indifferent whether the suffering is in-
flicted on the guilty or the innocent."
It is now declared by this unschooled man of the
hills that all these answers are radically wrong;
that Christ did not die to pay a ransom to Satan,
who has quite enough conceded to him already ; that
he did not die to placate God, who is amid all the
changes of visible creation the Eternal Serenity ; that
he did not die to answer Shylock demands of a law
by which God is withheld from his desire to be mer-
ciful, — as if there could be a* law other than God's
will ; but Christ died on the cross as a testimony of
God's love, and hence as a moral appeal to man.
The appeal of Christ to the alienated world is, " Be
YE reconciled to God." He was lifted up on the
cross, not to draw God nearer to men, but to draw
all men to himself, saying, "He who receiveth me,
receiveth Him that sent me."
The method of Hosea Ballou in his "Treatise"
was necessitated by his circumstances. A man in
troubled times erecting a fort bristling with arma-
ment in an enemy's country can scarcely have such
regard to proportion, symmetry and outlook as one
may have in leisurely building a palace on his own
land in quiet years. The effective plan of our author
was to project his revolutionary thoughts against
haughty so-called Orthodoxy where it boasted itself
strongest. Weakened there, its whole line would
be virtually broken. His inquiries are concerning —
JEt. 34.] "TREATISE ON ATONEMENT." 77
(1) Sin, its nature, cause, effects; (2) Atonement;
(3) the Consequences of Atonement to mankind.
Like the workmen rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem
under Nehemiah, he was compelled to build with a
trowel in one hand and a sword in the other, — and
to the sword he gave his right hand.
The system of doctrines of which this interpreta-
tion of at-one-ment is a constituent, is, in brief sum-
mary, this : God is the Sole Sovereign of the universe,
Omnipotent, Omniscient, All-Good. What he planned
in the beginning will be fulfilled. He was not dis-
appointed, nor in the strict sense angry, when men
became sinners; he foreknew that, in the exercise
of the power of choice between good and evil with
which he endowed man sin would result. But he
controls all evil, and will cause it to serve his own
ultimate purpose of good. While men are in sin
they suffer, because they are out of harmony with
his image in themselves. Hosea Ballou's own words
are, "As long as men sin they will be miserable,
be that time longer or shorter ; as soon as they cease
from sin they will begin to experience divine enjoy-
ment." Christ came to the world, as out of the
Father's bosom, to bear witness to the truth of God's
love and providence and Fatherhood. Because the
right is not only the best thing but the strongest,
God through Christ will subdue all enemies. The
at-one-ment with the Father will be finally complete,
when through repentance of evil and choice of good
the last prodigal returns, receiving the ring, a symbol
of endless love, and the kiss of pardon.
The "Treatise on Atonement" should, like every
book, be read with due regard to the time in which
78 HOSEA BALLOU. [1805.
it was written. The author was a pioneer, blazing
as he traversed the forest. He had no human guide
or companion. AH unknown to him was the incip-
ient struggle against Trinitarianism in Boston; his
" Treatise " antedated the Unitarian sect in America
ten years. If there had been some endeavor among
the Universahsts of the Middle States to base their
doctrines in the nature of things, the news had not
reached him. To compare his book with some which
have followed, especially with Horace BushnelFs great
work, ''Vicarious Sacrifice," which advocates essen-
tially the same view of at-one-ment, would be like
comparing an Atlantic-traversing steamship with the
vessel in which Columbus first crossed from the Old
World to the New. Fulton's first steamboat, Morse's
first telegraph, Howe's first sewing-machine, Edison's
first electric light, have prophetic and poetic interest
no subsequent improvements supersede. Read in the
remembrance of the shadowed days in which it was
written, the "Treatise on Atonement" is luminous
as a prophecy of the coming epoch.
Nor is the interest of this book merely historic.
He who discovers in its first pages some want of
rhetorical finish, and puts the book away as the
presumptuous essay of a sciolist, suffers loss for his
haste. It is to be regretted, to be sure, for the sake
of the fastidious, that the book is not classic in ex-
pression. But can we doubt that it has served its
purpose better for being in homespun, untailored garb ?
There is toughness of fibre in the book, and great
persuasive power. Little need is there, if read can-
didly, of mistaking what the author intends to say.
It is, in main part, homely talk on great themes ; its
JEt. 84.] " TREATISE ON ATONEMENT." 79
marked merit is in bringing abstractions to the clear
apprehension of the unlettered reader. , " Our Cre-
ator," he says, '' made us reasonable beings ; all the
truth necessary for our belief is not only reasonable,
but reducible to our understandings." His illustra-
tions are drawn from familiar objects and every-day
life. His method is strikingly similar to that of
Abraham Lincoln, in whose homely talk, says Low-
ell, " the American people heard themselves thinking
aloud." As the argument in the "Treatise " proceeds,
the style naturally assumes purity and dignity. The
tide of inspiration which possessed the author en-
ables him finally to indite passages which will suffer
little by being compared even with Abraham Lin-
coln's unique address at Gettysburg. What a book
to be read and pondered, and re-read and shrewdly
discussed, by New England country firesides at the
beginning of the nineteenth century J And it is now
more the fault of Universalists than of tlie book, if it
is in their homes dust-covered in these closing years
of the same century.
Attacking so-called orthodoxy at almost every point,
our author is sometimes content to refute doctrines
by simply giving them a clear statement, and bring-
ing them to the touch of reality. In the passage
following he takes home to experience one of the
stock-doctrines of the popular creed: —
"I am born into this world of sorrow and trouble; the
first vibration of sense is want; I endeavor to supply my
needs, and to maintain my existence, which my Maker has
bestowed upon me ; but as soon as I come to years of un-
derstanding, I am told of an infinite debt which stands against
me, which I owed thousands of years before I was bom ;
80 HOSEA BALLOU. [1805
and that my Maker is so angry with me, and has been ever
since the debt was due, that he has prepared a furnace of
endless flames to torment me in, according to the due re-
quirements of justice!"
To this his answer by parody is : —
" My father gives me a farm, and puts me in possession of
it ; I am pleased, and prize it very highly. In consequence
of my possession, I paint to myself many pleasing prospects.
But to my mortification a person comes and presents me
witli a mortgage of my farm for ^ye times its value, the
mortgage running so as to hold the possessor obliged to
clear it. I will leave the reader to say whether my father
was kind or unkind."
He shows by simple statement the absurdity of the
"governmental theory," in its affirmation that the
second person in the Trinity paid the debt due from
the sinner : —
" The sinner owed a debt to divine justice which he was
unable to discharge ; the Divine Being cannot, consistently
with his honor, dispense with the pay, but says, *I must
have what is my due ; * but as the debtor has not ability to
pay the smallest fraction, Divine Wisdom lays a deep-con-
certed, mysterious plan for the debt to be discharged. And
how was it? Why, for God to pay it himself ! "
Effectively and simply he answers another mon-
strosity of the " scheme " : —
" It is argued with much assurance that God has a just
right to do with his creatures as he pleases, because he has
it in his power so to do ; and that he never does anything
because it is right, but what' he does is right because he does
it. If this statement is just, moral holiness consists in the
power of action, and not in the disposition that designs the
uEt. 84.] "TREATISE ON ATONEMENT." 81
action. If so, we are driven to say that unholiness, or sin,
is the want of power to perform an evil action, and holiness
consists in having the power to do it. One man designs to
murder another for his money ; he makes the attempt and
fails. His sin consists in not having power to execute his
designs, hut in his designs there is no evil. On the other
hand, he makes the attempt, and succeeds ; here is no evil
at all, because he had the power to do it. On this principle,
everything that can be done is moral holiness, and every-
thing that cannot be done is sin, or moral evil.*'
In his justification of the ways of God to man as a
Judge, he by a question takes the reader to the root
of the problem : —
" Which reflects the more honor on the divine character,
to contend it was necessary for him to create millions of ra-
tional creatures to hate him, and every divine communica-
tion he makes to them, to all eternity, to live in endless
rebellion against him, and endure inconceivable torments as
long as God exists ; or to suppose him able and willing to
make all his rational creatures love and adore him, yield
obedience to his divine law, and exist m union and happi-
ness with himself?"
Our author answers the query as to his understand-
ing of the ethical application of his doctrine in words
which will still bear emphasis : —
^^God, in infinite wisdom, has constituted all moral beings
so that their duty is their happiness, and strict obedience
fulness of joy. Why, then, my brethren, shall we starve?
Why live poor ? Why should we be so parsimonious of those
heavenly stores that never can be exhausted? 'Blessed are
they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they
shall be filled.' 'Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye
shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.' God
forbids none ; * the Spirit and the Bride say, Come ; and let
82 HOSEA BALLOU. [1805.
him that heareth say, Come ; and whosoever will, let him
take the water of life freely/ Remember, the salvation
which God wills is salvation from sin. Then, as much as
you desire salvation, you will wish to avoid sin and wicked-
ness. There are none who say they do not want salvation ;
but how few there are who say they want it by their own
conduct! No man understandingly wants salvation any
further than he wants more holiness. The Universalist,
who is really so, prices his duty as his heaven, his peace,
his most sublime enjoyment."
When describing the true at-one-ment in experi-
ence, — the knowledge of the goodness of God lead-
ing the sinner to repentance, — he becomes a poet of
Nature under guidance of Scripture: —
" The earth, in time of drought, ceases to be fruitful ; the
streams and springs thereof are dried up ; the fields put off
their robes of green, and the gardens afford no fragrant de-
lights ! But when the heavens give the wonted blessings in
gentle showers, how suddenly is the face of Nature changed !
The purling rill murmurs through the mead, pastures and
fields teem with vegetation, and gardens blush with enamelled
beauties. So the soul, unwatered with the rain of righteous-
ness, and destitute of the waters of eternal life, is like the
barren fig-tree that yields no wholesome fruit. But behold
the transition ! the^moment atoning grace is effective in the
mind, the parched ground becomes a pool, and the thirsty
land streams of water. The soul is like the earth that drink-
eth in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth
herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed; and, like a
garden well watered and cultivated, yielding all manner of
The marshalling of scriptural imagery in the final
passage of the book, describing the universal at-one-
ment perfected, possesses an eloquence kindred to
that of the Seer on Patmos: —
^T. 34.] "TREATISE ON ATONEMENT." 83
"The fulness of times will come, and the times of the
restitution of all things will be accomplished. Then shall
truth be victorious, and all error flee to eternal night. Then
shall universal songs of honor be sung to the praise of him
who liveth forever and ever. All death, sorrow, and crying
.shall be done away ; pains and disorders shall be no more
felt, temptations no more trouble the lovers of God, nor sin
poison the human heart. The blessed hand of the Once
Crucified shall wipe tears from off all faces. O transport-
ing thought ! Then shall the blessed Savior see of the tra-
vail of his soul and be satisfied, when through his mediation
universal nature shall be brought in perfect union with truth
and holiness, and the Spirit of God fill all rational beings.
Then shall the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which
maketh free from the law of sin, become the governing prin-
ciple of the whole man once made subject to vanity ; once
enthralled in darkness, sin, and misery, but then delivered
from the bondage of corruption, and restored to perfect rec-
onciliation to God, in the heavenly Adam. Then shall the
great object of the Savior's mission be accomplished. Then
shall the question be asked, O death, where is thy sting?
But death shall not be, to give the answer. And, O grave,
where is thy victory ? But the boaster shall be silent. The
Son shall deliver up the kingdom to God the Father, the
eternal radiance shall smile, and God shall be all in all."
What is atonement ?
The expiatory scheme is withered fruit of a dying
tree ; among thinkers abreast of the age, a dead issue ;
to be classed with calashes, whale-oil lamps, and the
grewsome " Alonzo and Melissa " and " Clarissa Har-
lowe," over which our great-great-grandmothers shed
hot tears. It is inharmonious with the Bible, Nature,
and the inalienable sense of right in the human soul.
The at-one-ment, the Reconctliation, as set forth
in the " Treatise," is the revelation of God interpreted
84 HOSEA BALLOU. [1806.
by the plain nature of things. The principles of this
doctrine are already interwoven with the best repre-
sentative Christian thought of the ag6. The Univer-
salist Church, when it instantly and instinctively
adopted the doctrine of its great pioneer, set its face
toward the dawn.
BARNARD, VT.; MISSIONARY JOURNEYS; HYMN-
Pbsiod, 1808-1809. Aob, S2-38.
OIX years Hosea Ballou preached to the Univer-
^ salist societies in the vicinage of Barnard, Ver-
mont. Busy years, full of content, swiftly passed !
Alike through the crisp oxygenated air of the bright
winter days, and deepening drifts of Vermont winter
storms, and through tiie dreamy air of summer, and
during the wondrous transformations of the vernal
season alike at its beginning and close, he " rode
over the hills and through the valleys and by the
winding streams," to his weekly appointments. Ever
afterward he treasured the memory of these years of
intrepid itineracy in Vermont.
We find him still faithful to his mission as a seed-
The sequences of a sermon he preached in Rutland,
in June, 1805, are illustrative of the spirit which in
those days prevailed. He was invited by some leading
citizens of the town to preach in the parish meeting-
house, which they had been able to obtain for his
services. The pastor of the parish was a Presbyterian,
Rev. Lemuel Haynes by name ; an educated colored
preacher, of marked local popularity. He was fluent,
and given to pulpit effects. When Mr. Ballou
86 HOSEA BALLOU. [1803-1800.
appeared, he invited Mr. Haynes to accompany him
into the pulpit. Mr. Haynes at first declined, but
yielded after a little urging, remarking, " I may have
a word to say after the sermon." Mr. Ballou preached
from the text : " Herein is love, not that we loved
God, but that he loved us, and gave his Son to be the
propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us,
we ought also to love one another " (1 John iv. 10,
11). Mr. Ballou (a contrary impression was received
by some from hearsay, however) was a man noted
for his courtesy. He now purposely avoided such
topics as might offend those '* of the contrary part."
In the main his sermon was a plea for mutual forbear-
ance and Christian unity. At its close Mr. Haynes,
by Mr. Ballou's invitation, made some remarks. He
proceeded, with great excitement, to declare that the
preacher had just preached the Old Serpent's doctrine.
Mr. Haynes fulminated and perorated his prepared
screed. Some in the audience were grieved ; some
thought such impudence an exhibition of genius. It
was not a reply to anything Mr. Ballou had said or
hinted ; it was a reply to what Mr. Haynes may have
imagined Mr. Ballou would say. It must be confessed
the situation was trying to Mr. Ballou. In beholding
him remain calm and offering no word of rejoinder,
we see him at his best. That " flash of eloquent si-
lence " has dignity like that of an old Roman drawing
his toga about him. Yet it was kindly. He assumed
that the over-zealous preacher would on reflection
feel a becoming shame. He closed the meeting as if
nothing had happened. What was his surprise, there-
fore, when some months afterward Mr. Haynes's
screed, entitled " The First Lie Refuted," appeared in
^T. 82-38.] BARNARD, VT. 87
print as a sermon. Then Mr. Ballon, in a published
letter, spoke his mind. " The design of this epistle,"
he says in the opening paragraph, " is to inform you
and the public how I viewed your conduct at the time
you delivered your sermon, to which I reply; and
what I think of said sermon and its general com-
plexion." The epistle is illustrative of how a man
of calm temper feels, for instance, when stung by a
gad-fly. Not in a sentence, however, does he forget
courtesy or dignity. Mr. Haynes hastened to promise
the public a reply ; but it never appeared. Here the
Yet for years afterward Mr. Haynes's " Sermon "
was circulated among reputed orthodox people as an
acute and effective assault on Universalism. Some
people have wondered why Hosea Ballon was a
By appointment of the General Convention Mr.
Ballon visited Western New York in the summer of
1806, to assist in organizing the " Western Association
of Universalists." There had been an "Eastern
Association " organized in Maine ; a " Central " in
Massachusetts ; now it was fitting the Convention
should have its eye on what was then the far West.
He was accompanied on this visit by Revs. William
Farwell, Joshua Flagg, and Paul Dean. The Con-
vention in those days was fortunate in being able
to send to its important work its most influential
preachers. Mr. Ballou's reputation at this time was
popular power ; wisely was it utilized to missionary
How the coming of the appointed brethren to their
field of labor was regarded by the scattered resident
88 HOSEA BALLOTT. [1803-1809.
Universalists, is suggested in the words of Rev.
Nathaniel Stacy, written in his " Memoir." Mr. Stacy,
gentle and apostolic in spirit, was at this time doing
pioneer missionary work in Utica. " My heart," he
says, " was so full of the anticipation of meeting my
brethren again, after having alone and at so great
a distance, and for a whole season experienced the
unmerciful buffetings of the storms and tempests
of sectarian wrath, that the approaching meetings
caused me to weep for joy." From the same " Me-
moir " we take (with some condensation) a graphic
account of the meetings which were held : —
'^ As the season approached that would call our miuistering
brethren from the East to preach with us, and counsel and
assist us in organizing an Association, my heart beat high
in anticipation of peculiar felicity. I could hardly wait its
arrival. All preparations in our power were made for the
coming event, to render it as satisfactory as possible to the
visiting committee and profitable to the glorious cause, by
securing as large a congregation as we could induce to attend.
Information of the meeting was widely extended through all
the country, with earnest invitations both to friends and
opposers, and as ample provision was made for their enter-
tainment as circumstances would permit. The place for
meeting was appointed in Columbus, Chenango County, not
because more friends of the cause were there, but because it
was the most central location we could obtain where we could
find accommodations. No Universalist society was at that
time thought of there, but there were a few families in the
immediate vicinity who were ready to do all they could, and
whose liberality was ample. The country was thinly settled ;
no meeting-house had been erected. But a building had
just been built designed for a tavern, with an extensive ball-
room ; this the owners generously offered and we gratefully
accepted as the most eligible place that could be found. And
JEt. 82-38.] MISSIONARY JOURNEYS. 89
here was organized the first Association of TJniversalists in
the State, — the third organization of the kind effected in
America. Four discourses were delivered on the ooDasion :
one by Mr. Flagg, one by Mr. Dean, and two by Mr. Ballou.
A numerous congregation for the time and place waa in
attendance ; and in the afternoon of the first day, and both
parts of the second, we were compelled to repair to the ad-
jacent forest for our religious exercises, the chamber not
being sufficient to hold a tenth part of the congregation.
The weather was fine for the season, and we found ourselves
comfortably accommodated, with the verdant and waving
foliage of a dense forest to screen us from the scorching rays
of a summer sun, and the trunks and fragments of fallen
trees, mostly, for our seats ; and here we listened with intense
interest and fervent gratification to the preaching, which, it
appeared to me, was almost sufficiently piercing to penetrate
the dark vault of the tomb, and powerful enough to raise
the dead to life."
A year afterward, in 1807, Mr. Ballou again visited
Western New York by appointment of the General
Convention. Not alone at the Association he had
helped to organize did he manifest his desire to serve
the cause; but having spoken his quickening words
of counsel to the brethren there assembled, he went
about his accustomed missionary work in the growing
towns of that section. His preaching at Utica was
especially memorable, because heard by a boy whose
heart was prepared soil, which received the word, and
brought forth fruit an hundred-fdd. Rev. Stephen R.
Smith, one of the pioneer preachers of Universalism
in New York State, was in mature years strikingly
like Hosea Ballou in essential traits of character. In
simplicity of spirit, inigged honesty, strength of re-
ligious conviction, power over the common heart ; in
90 ROSEA BALLOU. [1803-1809.
eloquence of extemporaneous address, in the content,
gratitude, and dignity with which a humble homespun
way of life was accepted for his unpopular faith's
sake, Mr. Smith was like Mr. Ballou. It is vastly
interesting to read the words of Mr. Smith, descrip-
tive of his first hearing of Mr. Ballou. It was dur-
ing his second visit to Western New York. Says
Mr. Smith : —
" By what means the intelligence that Mr. Hosea Ballou
would preach on the following Sunday, in a place some fif-
teen miles distant, could have been conveyed to a very young
man, who did not then know a single Universalist in the world,
is not remembered. He went, however, and heard a discourse
in the morning from Zechariah vi. 13, and for the first time
in bis life felt that he had listened to a sermon that involved
neither an absurdity nor a contradiction. The congregation
was not large, and occupied a school-house in the present city
of Utica, then a meagre and muddy village. A larger con-
gregation was anticipated for the afternoon, and arrangements
were made for the services in the open air, under some trees,
on the bank of the Mohawk Biver. There in due time a
large auditory assembled, and listened to one of Mr. Bullou's
best discourses, from Deuteronomy xxxiii. part of 16th with
17th verse. It was a glorious day, early in June ; the silence
of Sunday was around us ; the bright blue heavens above us,
partly veiled by the branches of a few scattering oaks ; the
clear, quiet river at our side ; the ruddy and healthy preacher
in all the vigor of manhood before us, and pleading the cause
of God and humanity with a group of most attentive hearers.
Such a scene is not to be forgotten ; and, altogether, it was
one in every respect calculated to make the most favorable
as well as lasting impressions. And such certainly were its
effects on the mind of the writer. For while it left him with-
out any pretension to the knowledge or belief of Universalism
as a system of religious truth, it entirely satisfied him that it
^T. 82-38.] HYMN-MAKING. 91
was consistent with itself and with all that we see and know
of the Deity and his moral government. It is scarcely to be
doubted that similar impressions were made on many persons
in that congregation."
How excellent this description, and how pleasing
to see, in the mirror of a kindred spirit, our young
David, now matured into "a ruddy and healthy
Mr. Ballou (we must add with some tinge of re-
gret) received another commission of the General
Convention, first in 1806, renewed in 1807, of which
he, while doing his best, made a not over-creditable
fulfilment. With Revs. Sebastian Streeter, Edward
Turner, and Abner Kneeland, he was appointed " to
prepare a hymn-book for the use of the Universalist
societies." No doubt there was need of a new hymn-
book. The Universalists naturally could not heartily
sing the prevalent Orthodox hymns of perdition ; their
only popular hymn-book, which had been issued by
Mr. Murray's society in Boston, was objectionable on
account of embodying in many of its hymns the re-
jected ideas of the Trinity and vicarious punishment.
A new hymn-book was surely in order. But the mem-
bers of this committee gave an interpretation to their
powers which the Convention, if clothed in its right
mind, could hardly have intended. They assumed it
their duty to themselves write all the hymns of the
new book! The volume contains four hundred and
seventeen so-called hymns; and, sad to recall, Mr.
Ballou wrote one hundred and ninety-eight, almost
one half the whole. It is of little consequence that
of the remaining, Mr. Kneeland wrote one hundred
and thirty-eight, Mr. Streeter forty-eight, Mr. Silas
92 HOSEA BALLOU. [1808-180a
Ballou (a distant relative of Hosea) twenty-three,
Mr. Turner ten. It is such a hymn-book as was,
under the circumstances, to be expected. Mr. Knee-
land's hymns are " weak and insipid," without either
reason or rhyme. It is scarcely strange that he after-
ward rejected Christianity, since he had expressed
his estimate of it in such hymnology. Mr. Ballou's
hymns, however, do, as a rule, have at least some
reason. They even attempt, in phrases often badly
cramped by the count for metre, to reason out a
logical argument. As sermons, they are fleshless
bones; as sacred songs, artistic failures. A hymn,
a lyric of the soul, we are wont to think, is one of
the highest and rarest productions of human genius.
It sings itself in some rapt heart; thence it is in-
stinctively adopted by the common heart. " Rock
of Ages," "While thee I seek," "Nearer, my God,
to thee," are hymns. No real hymn is machine-
made, or merely hand-made.
It is not, perhaps, after all, a matter for regret
that Mr. Ballou so generously interpreted his com-
mission, because he thus formed a habit of rhym-
ing, which was to him ever afterwards a source of
harmless pleasure. He in late life confessed that
he had never studied the rules of poetry, not even,
as he says, for an hour, — which is to be regretted.
What a revelation it would have been to him had
he studied the masters of versification ! He would
thereby have been taught to distinguish in his own
productions gold from dross, and to consign the
dross to oblivion. For we must acknowledge there
is gold to be found in this unsmelted yet not quite
unmetred ore. Three hymns, at least, are not mis-
Mt. 32-38.] HYMN-MAKING. 93
placed in any collection however choice. Here is a
lyric of faith: —
" In God's eteruity
There shall a day arise,
When all the race of man shall be
With Jesus in the skies.
"As night before the rays
Of morning flees away.
Sin shall retire before the blaze
Of God's eternal day.
** As music fills the grove
When stormy clouds are past.
Sweet Anthems of adeeming love
Shall all employ at last.
" Redeemed from death and sin.
Shall Adam's numerous race
A ceaseless song of praise begiu,
And shout redeeming grace."
We can easily believe this hymn sung itself to the
author before he offered it for singing. The hymn
written for opening an Annual Convention, beginning,
"Dear Lord, behold. thy servants here.
From various parts together meet,
To tell their labors through the year.
And lay the harvest at thy feet,"
is worthy of yearly repetition in the Annual Conven-
tion. The hymn beginning,
** From worship now thy church dismiss, —
But not without thy blessing, Lord ;
Oh, grant a taste of heavenly bliss,
And seal instruction from thy Word,"
after having been sung in the closing moments of a
Sunday service, could not easily leave the heart of a
94 HOSEA BALLOU. [1803-1809.
believer. If Mr. Ballou had published these hymns
only, in which the sentiment is so rhythmic as to com-
pel completeness and grace of expression, he would
have won such fame as a sacred lyrist as his volumi-
nous hymn making did not achieve.
The hymn-book was, of course, by the societies which
adopted it, soon sung out or found out, and discarded.
Yet the willingness of Mr. Ballou even to attempt,
with some assistance, to write an entirely original
hymn-book (like the after-dinner proposition of the
drink-dazed statesman to himself pay the public debt)
indicates an exceedingly lavish zeal.
We close this free-hand criticism by asking the
reader, if he ever should see a thin, neglected volume
entitled " Ballou's Poetry," not to think of the author
less highly than he ought to think. The making of
the verses was his amusement when he was too tired
for work ; it was done sometimes merely to give " va-
riety " to his newspaper. He is to be regarded with
forbearance also, because he did not himself gather up
his verses and publish them as a book. It was done
for him, and badly done ; verses not his, and even less
meritorious than his, were palmed off under his un-
protesting name. In the collection of limping, jerky
lines, however, are some of human interest, as we
may hereafter recall.
Let us concede that rhyming was not Mr. Ballou's
strong point. If we have no weakness of our own
needing greater forbearance, we may freely cast our
gibe at him.
At the end of his six years of earnest work (in
which his hymn-writing may be reckoned as valiant
endeavor) he removed his home to Portsmouth, the
chief city in his native New Hampshire. His removal
AT THE AGE OF 50.
JEt. 82-38.] HYMN-MAKING. 95
from Barnard was the occasion of deep and general
regret among the people cherishing the larger hope ;
but they were led to see that their pastor should not
withhold himself from the wider field.
His going from Barnard was a corresponding satis-
faction to those in that community who believed his
mission was to blight souls. One good deacon, of the
Calvinist persuasion, was especially delighted to hear
that Mr. Ballou was to leave the place ; the more so,
perhaps, because he had an intelligent daughter-in-law
who was inclined to regard liim with favor. The
good deacon, on receiving the news, as he was sitting
down to dinner, was inclined to be facetious. " Mr.
Ballou to leave town ?" he asked. " I am very sorry ;
for I suppose we may expect to have the Devil himself
here next ! " " Why, father," said the apt daughter-
in-law, " do you think Mr. Ballou the only man who
can keep the Devil out of Barnard ? "
Maledictions and benedictions in this world are
sometimes strangely blended.
PORTSMOUTH, N. H.
Pebiod, 1809-1816. Age, 38-44.
'TPHB world — the kindly world, which has remained
-*■ " good," which neither misbelief nor misdoing
has perverted — beamed in friendliness on Hosea Bal-
lon when he arrived in Portsmouth.
Children had been born to him ; his domestic life
was a garden of delights, his home-content was with-
out flaw. He was nearing his maturity. Gristle had
hardened to bone; he had become firm and fibrous;
he had not discovered the bounds of his physical
vigor. He bore no scars, but many laurels, from his
And Portsmouth at this time was an ambitious and
attractive village. Tlie town /is located on the south
bank of the Piscataqua River, at the head of an ex-
tensive harbor. Its marked distinction was then, as
it has been since, its neighborhood to the United
States Navy-yard, situated on an island in the river.
The narrow, straggling streets were adorned with
graceful shade-trees ; even at that day the village was
beginning to be ornamented with fine buildings. The
future city had high hope ; it assumed a right to the
first choice in all things. That the Universalists of
Portsmouth should believe their growing village the
appropriate field for our hero, proves them possessed
JEt. 38-44.] PORTSMOUTH, N. H. 97
of discernment and enterprise. They pledged to him
" eight hundred a year and the contribution money."
And this to our hero was a vision of worldly glory to
almost dazzle his eyes. A proffer of the kingdoms of
the world and the glory of them could scarcely be to
him more alluring.
And for this vision of visible splendor he had not
been even invited to fall down and worship Satan.
For the popular Satan of his day, indeed, he professed
even less than respect. For the ubiquitous firemon-
ger and salamander, the beast-reptile, with cloven
feet, enscrolled tail, and three-tined fork for handling
live fuel, — for this Satan, most important deity of the
Calvinists, — sub-deity, abh-gott (ex-god), we might
call him, if he had not so evidently obtained the
mastery of his Creator, — for this Satan Mr. Ballon
had no propitiatory offerings. He quietly but con-
stantly proclaimed defiance. He called him unrea-
sonable, unbiblical, impossible, ridiculous. Before
that Satan, at least, he was not likely to fall in
The providential lines had allotted to Mr. Ballon a
pleasant place, but he was not looking for a bed of
roses. No dropping the knapsack yet for comfortable
bivouac ; no sheathing the sword. He had enlisted
as a minute-man for the whole war. He stood on
guard for the truth, and had no aversion to an aggres-
sive campaign. He found Calvinism a miasma that
pervaded the sea-breezes. In the village it blighted
love, hope, mirth, and health. It was not then coy,
nor of a retiring disposition ; it had learned none of
its modern modesty. It was a pestilence that wasted
at noonday and gave terror by night. We cannot
98 HOSEA BALLOU. [1809-1815.
under such provocation expect our zealous soldier of
the cross to suffer the sword of the Spirit to become
rusty in its scabbard. He had no personal quarrels
to wage, and never had; but in the good fight of faith
he was an instant and persistent soldier. He could
not be otherwise ; yet he maintained the high courtesy
of a true Christian. He was respectful and deferen-
tial toward his clerical neighbors with whom he came
in contact. He was a personal exponent of the gospel
of good-will and fraternity.
The history of his Portsmouth settlement is largely
a story of discussions. He was destined to partici-
pate in a varied, and at some points a bitter warfare
during his entire stay in the city by the sea.
His ministry, let us first observe, however, was in
its method greatly changed. He had before devoted
himself to pioneer work. As an itinerant, he had
repeated his sermons throughout his circuit, and re-
vised them as he rode to his appointments, improving
them on repetition, becoming a helpful critic of him-
self. Now, two sermons each Sunday to the same
people was the order. He used no manuscript in
preaching ; he had no " barrel." Each n^'w sermon
must be evolved fresh from his brain. But the emer-
gency did not daunt him. He soon became the popu-
lar preacher of the thriving village, and his church
the focus of eager Sunday crowds. Converts to the
religion of hope were numerous, and his parish for
a season prospered.
His initiatory discussion at Portsmouth was, in one
point of view, a foreign contest. During his first
year there came to him a pamphlet of sixty-nine
pages, from Rev. Isaac Robinson, of Stoddard, New
Mt. 38-44.] PORTSMOUTH, N. H. 99
Hampshire, entitled " A Candid Reply to a Doctrinal
Controversy between the Hopkinsian and the Uni-
versalist." It was the continuance of a controversy
begun while Mr. Ballon was at Barnard. He had
been drawn into it as assistant of Rev. Ebenezer Paine,
a Universalist, and by force of his superior aptitude
for debate he had become a principal. Rev. Mr.
Robinson, the Hopkinsian, a believer of " modified
Calvinism^" was liberally educated, of discriminating
mind, and estimable character; for fifty years he was
a pastor in the town of Stoddard. The " Candid
Reply " was a renewed challenge to Mr. Ballon. Of
course he could not decline an answer. A merely per-
sonal assault sometimes found him a non-resistant ; he
could then turn the other cheek. But when his vision
of Truth was assaulted, he resisted evil with good ; he
turned to the assailant, not the other cheek only, but
a full-face view of Truth. He was soon before the
public in a lengthy pamphlet entitled " A Candid Re-
view." As a specimen of sagacity in discerning the
weak statements and self-contradictions of an oppo-
nent, this pamphlet is interesting. " Do Universalists
verily believe," asked Mr. Robinson, " that a good
earthly father would treat any of his children as they
know and acknowledge God has treated some of his
offspring ? " " Observe," said Mr. Ballon in reply, '' it
is the good earthly parent he will not allow to be a fit
emblem of our Father in heaven ! " Mr. Robinson
avowed belief that God '' from all eternity designed
that certain of his children should never taste the
sweets of his nature." '' My blood feels as if freez-
ing," exclaims Mr. Ballou. " Oh, my God, in whose
hands my breath is, pardon the folly of thy benighted
100 HOSEA BALLOU. [1809-1816.
children ! " In its main issues the '' Candid Review "
is now fortunately out of range of popular interest ;
but it was for its day an effective polemical work.
Mr. Robinson was content to leave the field ; he
vouchsafed no more *' candid replies."
Soon Mr. Ballou found himself face to face with
another assailant ; in this instance a neighbor. Rev.
Joseph Buckminster was the pastor of the first Con-
gregationalist Church of Portsmouth. A graduate of
Yale College, twenty years Mr. Ballou's senior, a con-
scientious Calvinist, he was, from commendable mo-
tives, moved to attempt the rescue of his heretical
neighbor. Under date Dec. 28, 1809, he writes to
Mr. Ballou a lengthy private letter, urging him to flee
from his dangerous position. He does not revile,
nor censure, nor impeach his neighbor's sincerity ; he
writes under shadow of the " Great Day." He says :
" I cannot bear the thought of your being able, when the
scheme of Universalism shall all vanish like the baseless
fabric of a vision, and all hopes built upon it will be like
the spider's web, to say I never warned you of this issue, nor
admonished you of your danger."
Here was a Christian believer in inferno ! Mr. Bal-
lou says in the first letter of his series in reply : —
" In your truly affecting entreaty, inviting me to direct my
mind to the day of judgment, when I am called to give
an account of my stewardship, you ask what my situation
must be if the system I advocate should, in thq final evi-
dence, prove false. I have seriously thought on this ques-
tion, and this is my conclusion : My Judge will know
that I am in this instance honest and sincere ; he will know
how I wrestled against his Word in order to avoid believing
that he would save all men ; and he will know that my
Mt.S^A^ PORTSMOUTH, N. H. '101
deception was ia understanding his Word as a simple, honest
man would understand a plain testimony void of scholastic
dress. In this case, I am willing to throw myself on the
mercy of the Judge. . . . On the other hand, dear sir, I
have made a calculation : suppose I adhere to your testi-
mony that the doctrine I believe is not true, and abandon it
as heresy, and preach it down to the utmost of my ability ;
and then the doctrine at last — when you and I stand be-
fore the Judge who knows the hearts of ail men — shall
prove true (of which I have not the least shadow of doubt),
with what a blush must I give in my account ! My Judge,
who has suffered everything for me, asks, * Why did you
deny me, and preach the dishonorable doctrine that I did
not purpose to redeem all men in eternity ? ' Abashed be-
yond description, I must answer : ' A man I conceived
was my friend, who preached tliat God never intended to
save all men, told me the doctrine I preached was not true.'
How would my soul thrill with grief when a look such as was
cast on Peter when he had denied his Lord accompanies the
question, 'And who told you, in the first place, it was true ? ' "
The series of private letters became in due time an
appeal to the public. That Mr. Ballon maintained his
cause with his accustomed courtesy and ability, the
above extracts will suggest. Mr. Buckminster deserves
for his good-hearted endeavor the tribute of grateful
respect. His example, in appearing to have some
grains of honest belief in his creed, as attested by
his human pity, is not unworthy the emulation of the
clergymen of a later day, who nominally profess to
believe the same creed, but hide its sulphuric flame
under a bushel. How can they hope to escape in the
" Great Day " ?
No truce yet for our soldier of the cross ; no day
yet for scabbarding his sword of the Spirit.
102' HOSEA BALLOU. [1809-1816.
Rev. Joseph Walton was pastor of the Third Con-
gregationalist Church of Portsmouth. He was also
Mr. Ballou's senior by many years. He was for some
reason a volunteer attendant at two funeral services
conducted by Mr. Ballon. He heard him speak of
death " as originally designed by the Almighty for the
good of mankind." He protested in a very earnest
letter. Mr. Ballou's reply was not needlessly delayed.
He had looked into Rev. Mr. Walton's creed, to find
it contained the words, " God foreordained whatsoever
comes to pass." Since it was evident Mr. Walton be-
lieved God originally designed death, would he please
show good cause for not believing he designed it for
good ? Why must we think evil of him ? Mr. Walton
had quoted in his letter from 1 John iii., and added :
" If you will read the whole chapter, and seriously
consider it, and pray to God to open your under-
standing, that you may understand the Scriptures,
you would not misapply and pervert them, as I fear
you do." Mr. Ballon said : —
" Are you sufficiently acquainted with my preaching and
writing to warrant the propriety of the suggestion that
I am in the habit of misapplying and perverting the Holy
Writings ? Are you sufficiently acquainted with my retired
studies and religious exercises to warrant the suggestion that
I get along without acknowledging the wisdom of God ? . . .
Judge not another who must stand or fall to his own Master.
. . . Friendly advice to be constant in fervent supplication
would be received by me as a mark of a Christian. . . .
Are you willing to have me go into your desk with you, in
presence of your church and congregation, and there read
the whole of the above-named chapter, and then in humble
and solemn prayer to Almighty God through Christ Jesus
implore a true and just understanding of his truth written in
JEt. 38-'44J PORTSMOUTH, N. H. 103
this portion of his Word, and close my performance with a
candid dissertation on the chapter ? Grant me liberty to do
this in your hearing ; after which I will not object to being
informed of any misapplication or perversion you may think
you discover. By what law is a man condemned without
first having his defence heard?"
The subject was pursued in a series of letters, which
was given to the public by aid of printer's types. Mr.
Ballou's closing letter, of Feb. 1, 1811, was a model
of keen analysis and effective home-thrusts.
Even here is no rest.
One Rev. George Forrester, a teacher of the sciences
in Portsmouth, a recently-arrived foreigner, a pedant,
saw it was the fashion to strike at Mr. Ballou, and
thought he saw his opportunity to gain personal fame
to answer the hunger of his conceit. He would show
his brother Calvinists how to snap the head off such
a heretic. He came before the public in a pamphlet
entitled " Strictures on ' The Treatise on Atonement,'
and ' Notes on the Parables.' " He assumed a stilted
style of severity, ridicule, and contempt. His argu-
ments were but poor reproductions of familiar Calvin-
istic formulas. Mr. Ballou would have been like
some men if he had taken no notice of his conceited
reviewer. His foeman in this case was scarcely wor-
thy his steel. "A braying ass does not cause the
stars to fall." But Mr. Ballou was too courteous not
to treat even a swollen pedagogue with respect. He
replied in a series of letters entitled " An Attempt
with a Soft Answer to turn away Wrath." He an-
swers the stock objections to his books with gentle-
ness and completeness, and makes an earnest plea for
Christian forbearance and charity. He says : —
104 HOSEA BALLOU. [1809-181&
" Come, dear brother, let us reason together. < Have we
not all one Father, hath not one God created us ? ' It surely
appears to me you have not treated me as a brother ; you
have not written as if you realized that we have one Father
and Creator. I do not complain on my personal account ;
but it is a matter of no little grief that one who professes the
religion of the Savior should dishonor that profession by
such angry animadversions as appear in your ' Strictures.' '*
He takes his opponent through a course of reason-
ing and expounding which might have been of ben-
efit to him had he not been already filled with east
wind. Sometimes, however, pearls are wisely cast
before swine, because other than swine-eyes will see
them. It was a general opinion in the community
that Mr. Forrester had injured his cause, and that
Mr. Ballou, by his manifest candor, had gained re-
spect for the cause he maintained.
In these contests, it is to be observed, Mr. Ballou
was not the assailant. Who will say he was not
justified in turning the full force of his vision of
Truth on each one of these who had given him an
uninvited blow? And in all these contests, be it
further observed, he was, by example and precept,
giving counsel and courage not alone to believers in
his own parish, but to many along the lines of the
There were, however, some agreeable aspects of
his life during his Portsmouth pastorate.
In January, 1811, a Ministerial Association was
formed in Gloucester, composed of the Universalist
clergymen of the New England seaboard cities. Revs.
Edward Turner, of Salem, Thomas Jones, of Glouces-
ter, and Abner Kneeland, of Charlestown, were Mr.
iET. 38-44.] PORTSMOUTH, N. H. 105
Ballou's associates in these friendly gatherings. He
had great happiness in these fraternal meetings. The
censorious popular church offered him but little grace
of fellowship; to share his toils and cares with his
own brethren, and become enlivened under the touch
of mutual sympathy, kept the untainted, unperverted
good world in his view.
It is noteworthy that Rev. Edward Mitchell, of the
First Church of Boston, was not a member of this
Ministerial Association. This is suggestive of an im-
portant fact. Mr. Mitchell was at this time, except-
ing the now feeble John Murray, the only clergyman
in New England w^ho preached Universalism on the
basis of the Calvinistic " scheme." Remarkable fact !
When, six years before, the " Treatise on Atonement "
was published, all Universalists were Trinitarian Cal-
vinists; now the denomination had become almost
unanimous in its acceptance of the New Theology.
The pastor of the First Church, standing alone and
aloof from his brethren, is a significant indication of
the change which had been wrought in the denomi-
nation through Mr. Ballou's influence.
The " Gospel Visitant," a quarterly of sixty-four
pages, was published in Salem, June, 1811, as the
organ of the Ministerial Association. This was the
first stated Universalist publication. That it was
especially Mr. Ballou's project cannot be doubted,
when we recall that he was the only Universalist
clergyman of that day who had enthusiastic faith
in printer's types. The contributions of Mr. Ballou's
now practised pen to the " Visitajit " were numerous
and valuable. In the first number we find a letter
from him to Rev. Asa Kent, a Methodist minister of
106 HOSEA BALLOU. [1809-1816.
Portsmouth. In the second number we find a care-
ful review of a sermon preaclied by Rev. Samuel
Worcester, of Salem. In the " Visitant " for March,
1812, is an article from Mr. Ballon worthy of distinct
attention. It is an exposition of 1 Peter, iii. 18-20,
in which he makes affirmation of his belief in lim-
ited future punishment. He subsequently modified
his opinion, as will be shown; at this time he be-
lieved there would be punishment of the impenitent
in the future world till they should be brought to
repentance ; and this period he did not regard as
necessarily very brief. He made manifest in the
article to which we refer, his opinion that "the spir-
its in prison, to whom Christ preached, were the diso-
bedient ones who lived on earth in the days of Noah."
Prom Noah's day to Christ's day, according to his
view, these rebellious spirits had been in misery, be-
cause left in ignorance of God's forgiving love.
But some aspects of his Portsmouth ministry, in its
later days, were not so agreeable. With his neigh-
boring ministers he continued in good fellowship ;
with his own parish he did not continue in unbroken
concord. He learned by experience what bitterness
can animate the hearts of alienated brethren.
It will be observed that his ministry in Portsmouth
covered the period of the second war with England.
The appeal to arms brought stagnation of the common
industries and a great increase of partisan excitement.
There was in the city intense opposition to the war-
policy. The Federalists, as the opposition party was
named, were more numerous among the wealthy citi-
zens. Their influence was felt outside the city; it
was. regarded as a serious liindrance to the national
;Et. 38-44.] PORTSMOUTH, N. H. 107
cause. And many of these anti-war Federalists were
Mr. Bailouts most capable financial supporters. They
were themselves very outspoken and domineering in
their opinions ; their speech at times almost touched
overt trjason ; but they expected of their minister,
unless he agreed with them, to say no word in the
pulpit on politics. But Mr. Ballou was to the bone a
patriot. His Universalism and his faith in American
Democracy in many points coincided. He retained
also a little of the popular grudge against England,
dating from the Revolution. On Fast Day, Aug. 20,
1812, he expressed his convictions in regard to the
national crisis. He preached a decided and vigorous
war sermon. He was temperate, but uncompromising.
No patriot, he said, would side with his country's
enemy in the terrible trial of war. Now there was
commotion ! That he should dare to so express his
opinion ! The rancor into which some of his leading
people on that day fell, was to Mr. Ballou a surprise.
Some who differed from him in political matters nobly
remained his supporters ; others withdrew and began
an active opposition. Their partisan politics had
nullified their religion. The parish was in a tumult ;
many of the best people were in discouragement.
What will Mr. Ballou do ? Many a minister in a simi-
lar situation has run away. Many an one has de-
claimed his grievances and posed as a martyr, and
lived on his financial credit in the hope of some favor-
able issue. Mr. Ballou did none of these things. He
showed the texture of his manhood by quietly main-
taining his position, and accepting without complaint
the partial support the disturbed parish could offer
him, and by teaching a private school making both
108 HOSE A BALLOU. [1809-1816.
ends of his family cash-account meet. He did not
during this strain neglect his pulpit, nor the sick and
unfortunate needing a pastor's frieudly counsel ; and
his pen became accustomed to late hours. But by the
added burden of wearing daily teaching he earned his
right to speak a telling word for his country. We
know not whether his justification of the war was right ;
but this we know, his following his conviction, and
speaking for his country in her stress, was right, and
grandly right. He now, across the chasm of the years,
offers his hand in fellowship to all independent,
patriotic, heroic spirits. Whoever can by faith clasp
that proffered hand must feel ennobled by its pressure.
It pulsates with better than royal blood.
Things, naturally, could, not always remain in this
condition. In 1815 the Salem pulpit had been vacant
more than a year ; in the spring of 1814 Rev. Edward
Turner had removed to Charlestown. Mr. Ballou, at
a venture, was called to the Salem pastorate. He
submitted his case to the Portsmouth parish. He
required, as a condition of remaining in his pastor-
ate, a fair support for his family. There was needless
deliberation over the matter. Salem, having some
assurance of hope, became urgent. The name " Salem"
signifies " peace," — a good omen to a peace-seeking
man. One day the Salem invitation was accepted.
Then Portsmouth was aroused ! The acceptance must
be recalled ! The Portsmouth parish now pledged
"nine hundred dollars and the collection money."
Too late !
Midsummer, 1815, Mr. Ballou removed to the city
of weird witchcraft fame.
Pebiod, 1816-1818. Age, 44-47.
SALEM, among American cities, must be conceded
a character distinctively its own. Peculiar fas-
cinations are in its atmosphere. Traditions of its
hard-faced Pilgrim founders, of a period antedating
the settlement of Boston ; ghostly yet captivating
legends of its witchcraft delirium in the closing years
of the seventeenth century ; numerous mementos
of the latter part of the eighteenth century, when
Salem dreamed its manifest destiny was to become
the commercial metropolis of New England, — me-
mentos of a blighted hope, which give the pathetic
suggestion of a wonderful city of Might-Have-Been ;
idiosyncratic architecture in the angular two-big-one-
little storied houses with depressed pyramid roofs,
built by the opulent East India merchants, — these
things still give to the old town a character and an
atmosphere not found elsewhere in America.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, more fully than any other,
has interpreted his weird native city of Salem. A
strange humor prompted him to speak of its " flat
unvaried surface, chiefly covered with wooden houses,
few or none of which pretend to architectural beauty ; "
of " its irregularity, which is neither picturesque nor
quaint, but only tame ; " of its " long and lazy street,
110 HOSEA BALLOU. [1816-1818.
lounging wearisomely through the whole extent of
the peninsula." Such being in his eyes the visible
features of his native town, he declared he felt for it
no more sentimental attachment than he could feel
toward a disarranged checker-board. His mother-city
might indeed be wanting in figure and fashion ; but
ought her son therefore to compare her to a washer-
woman in her suds ? Poor, solitary Hawthorne ! It
is not strange Salem did not love her taunting son.
. Nevertheless, the author of " The Scarlet Letter " and
" The House of the Seven Gables " had open eyes to
see and graphic words to picture the Salem of the past.
The former city, the city within the city, was not,
under the enchantment of distance, wanting to him in
picturesqueness or quaintness, and it was far from
being tame. If he could only have seen with as kindly
eyes the Salem of his day, he might have found it also
attractive. He was artistically far-sighted ; he could
not rightly focus his Aesthetic vision on the Salem in
which he lived.
Hawthorne, we remember, born in 1804, was passing
through his shy, sensitive adolescence during the two
years and four months Hosea Ballon lived in Salem.
We do not know that he ever saw the popular Univer-
sal ist preacher, or indeed could have seen the real
man, had his eyes been turned on him, more than he
could see the real Salem. Hawthorne was in spirit a
dreary sort of literary Calvinist. Generations of his
ancestors, the "Hathornes," were believers in Cal-
vin's gloomy fatalism ; Nathaniel was prompted by
the artistic instinct to add the becoming consonant to
his name, and drop the unlovely theories of Calvinism
from his faith. He disliked Calvinism as unbcautiful ;
^T. 44-47.] SALEM. Ill
for the same reason he disliked the Quaker fashion in
dress. He early became an optimistic latitudinarian ;
yet inherited melancholy was in him a constitutional
tendency. He says of his ancestors, whose spirits he
imagined still lingered in the atmosphere of Salem,
"Let them scorn me as they will, strong traits of
their nature have intertwined themselves with mine."
America's greatest imaginative writer was thus not
able entirely to escape from the heavy spiritual atmos-
phere into which he was born. Gloom pervaded his
vision and limited his genius.
If he had given a pen-picture of Hosea Ballon,
would it have been a correct picture ? It would, with-
out doubt, have been an accurate likeness of the man
Hawthorne saw ; but the picture would have been, as
judged from our own standing-point, essentially untrue.
With mild disdain he would have seen a man intensely
in earnest in his religion. He would have had no
good-speed for him in his assaults on the diabolism
underlying the Pilgrim austerity and the witchcraft
fanaticism ; yet Hawthorne himself had cynical scorn
of the entire old delusion. He was too fastidious, too
much of a dilettante^ to look with favor on a man
natural in speech, and fluent, idiomatic, and popular,
but not bookish, and far from classic. Not even in
Mr. Ballou's country-pronounciation could he have
found amusement ; nothing would have seemed to him
quaint in commonplace Salem. It marks the partial -
ism of Hawthorne's vision, to recall that the Univer-
salist Church of Salem, with its earnest, thoughtful,
working people, cherishing a world-wide hope, had not
even literary attraction for him. Had the heavy-
hearted artist, with his peerless candor, been more
112 HOSBA BALLOU. [1815-1818.
broadly human, he would have seen in this heresy one
of the most characteristic and prophetic movements
of his generation. .
Our esteem for Mr. Ballon is not lessened when we
perceive how largely, as the biblical preacher of hope,
he was incomprehensible to the shadowed man of
Mr. Ballou's ministry in Salem was fulfilled during
the business depression resulting from the war. The
time was not favorable to religious interest ; yet his
preaching attracted widespread attention, and was
tonical for the whole population. He withheld from
the service of his cause no reserve of time or
We shall find controversy still a necessary and im-
portant feature of his work.
He had not been long in Salem when a pamphlet
against Universalism, written by Rev. John Kelly, of
Hampstead, New Hampshire, appeared as a claimant
for public attention. It was entitled " Solemn and
Important Reasons against Becoming a Universalist."
Quickly came Mr. Ballou into the field, with a reply
entitled " The Divine Benevolence." This brought
from Mr. Kelly a pamphlet which he designated as
" Additional Reasons against Universalism ; or, Divine
Benevolence Vindicated in the Distribution of Future
and Everlasting Rewards and Punishments." In a
very short time Mr. Ballou was again in the field with
a pamphlet designated by the title " Divine Benevo-
lence further Vindicated." The effect of this dis-
cussion was a marked increase of believers in the
Universalist faith. The discussion awakened an in-
terest throughout New England. Mr. Ballou's cham-
^T. 44-47.] SALEM. 113
pionship of his cause was regarded by both friends
and opponents as able and effective.
During his second year in Salem one of his neigh-
bors, Rev. Brown Emerson, made a public attack on
Universalism. He was met promptly by a pamphlet
from Mr. Ballon. Mr. Emerson immediately sub-
sided. He saw he could not help his cause in the
public estimation by the controversy he had invijpd.
He appeared to have but little solicitude for Mr.
Ballou's safety in the " Great Day." He made an
easy retreat, claiming no laurels. Discretion, with
him, was better than valor.
The discussion, however, eclipsing all others of
that period in present interest, is the one he held
with Abner Kneeland on the Authenticity of Divine
Mr. Kneeland subsequently became a noted sceptic.
We will delay, and outline his varied career. He was
ordained a Universalist preacher in Langdon, New
Hampshire, in 1805 ; Mr. Ballon preached the ordina-
tion sermon and gave the symbolic right hand of
fellowship. He was associated with Mr. Ballon in a
missionary tour to western New York, and also in the
preparation of the famous original hymn-book. He
was not a successful missionary, and as a hymn- writer
he was a more complete failure than Mr. Ballou. Of
his one hundred and thirty-eight hymns, not one was
sufficiently exceptional to the prevailing insipidity to
warrant its preservation under the law of the survival
of the fittest. He had, nevertheless, some attractive
personal traits. He was singularly free from envy,
and could be an enthusiastic friend. He was installed
pastor of the Universalist Church in Charlestown,
114 llOSEA BALLOU. [1815-1818.
Massachusetts, Sept. 5, 1811 ; Mr. Ballou came from
Portsmouth to preach the sermon. He remained in
Charlestown three years. In his correspondence with
his parish relative to his retirement, he stated that
his wife was in the millinery business in Salem, and
needed his assistance; he was inclined, unless his
people objected, to withdraw from the ministry and
become the business assistant of his wife. The par-
ish was willing he should go or stay, but not will-
ing he should stay unless he gave a larger share of
his time to his ministry, and less to Salem, than he
had for some months chosen to give. With good-
nature he took up his residence in Salem. What-
ever he was as a sceptic, as a Christian he was not
heroic. While a professed believer, he preferred to be
a milliner's assistant rather than a preacher of the
gospel. He had a natural tendency toward material-
istic views. While in Salem he became newly troubled
with sceptical queries. He proposed to Mr. Ballou to
discuss with him in a series of letters the credibility
of the Bible. He proposed to assume the position of
unbelief, and statC/his objections to Christian faith in
as strong a manner as possible, while Mr. Ballou was to
champion his own biblical faith. The correspondence
was carried on during the greater portion of Mr.
Ballou's ministry in Salem. At its conclusion Mr.
Kneeland acknowledged himself convinced of the error
of his assumed position, and of the truth of the biblical
We break the straight line of our narrative to con-
tinue our sketch of Mr. Kneeland's checkered career
to its close.
In 1816, his wife's business having failed, he re-
JEt. 44-47.] SALEM. 115
moved to Whitestown, New York, where he preached
a portion of the time, and was remembered as a calm,
gentlemanly preacher of dry metaphysical discourses.
Thence he went to Philadelphia, as pastor of the First
Universalist Society in that city ; thence he removed
to New York City. He was now becoming reputed as
having sceptical tendencies. The Kennebec Asso-
ciation in Maine, on the basis of reports it had heard
in regard to his preaching, by an extraordinary action
withdrew from him its fellowship. The Southern
Universalist Association, of which he was a member,
met in May, 1829, at Hartford, Connecticut. He ap-
peared with the singular request that he be allowed
to " suspend himself " until he could induce confidence
that he was what he professed to be, " a real believer
and defender of the Christian religion." The re-
quest, mainly through the influence of Mr. Ballou, was
granted. In September following, however, Mr. Knee-
land, in a paper entitled the "Free Inquirer," an-
nounced to the public that he "no longer believed in
the existence of God, or in man's conscious existence
in a future state." Mr. Ballou sent him a question-
challenge, " What evidences necessary to prove God's
existence can be added to those already furnished ? "
He deigned no reply. He came to Boston and gath-
ered > an audience of professed Freethinkers in the
old Federal Street Theatre. He also commenced the
publication of the " Investigator," which still continues
a free lance against all faith. We have heard eye-
witnesses describe those Federal Street Theatre meet-
ings. Mr. Kneeland would read portions of the Old
Testament, not designed for public reading in a non-
Jewish assembly; he would dramatically cast the
116 HOSEA BALLOU. [1816-1818.
Bible across the hall as a book not fit to be kept in
decent company. In 1838 he was, for words published
in his newspaper, indicted for obscenity and blas-
phemy ; he was convicted, and sentenced to sixty days'
imprisonment in the common jail. This arbitrary
treatment helped his cause ; his name, with many, be-
came associated with the right of free thought. There
is no warrant for denial, however, of the fact that he
in his speech transgressed civility and decency. While
he was in jail, Mr. Ballou visited him and gave him
such cheer as was possible under the circumstances.
He was a friend in his need. On his release he re-
sumed his teaching, if teaching it may be called ; but
his prestige even among the vulgar was gone. He
fell into penury, and in March, 1839, left Boston
for Iowa, and soon after reaching that- region died of
bilious fever. Mr. Ballou persisted in thinking him
more worthy of pity than of blame. He had a nat-
urally unbalanced mind. At the time he was de-
crying all superstition and credulity, he was himself
under lead of common fortune-tellers. We may freely
concede to him sincerity ; we may freely pity him as
one who fell into self-torturing mistakes ; we will fur-
ther believe the unveiling of his spirit has brought his
honest mistakes to their full correction.
From this long, this scout-report, in the march of
our narrative, we return to summarize the discussion
It is interesting to observe that Mr. Kneeland's
assumption of the sceptical position for the sake of
argument, was preliminary to his actual acceptance
of sceptical opinions. He naturally remembered his
own arguments longer than he remembered their
^T. 44-47.] SALEM. 117
refutation. It is to be hoped, for his own self-
respect, that in undergoing his actual conversion
to scepticism he argued against his former self
with more effect than he in this correspondence rea-
soned against his neighbor. It is not improbable
that if Mr. Ballon had been at hand when his opin-
ions were once more in an unsettled state, he would
have been again led back to the renewal of his early
Some extracts from Mr. Ballon will show his method
of argument. He says : —
" You will duly consider that in disproving the religion of
Jesus Christ, you disprove all religion. The choice is be-
tween the gospel and no religion at all. Let us have the
worst of it. Show, from undoubted authority, that there
never was such a man as Jesus; or show that he was a
wicked impostor, and deservedly lost his life. Show, more-
over, that there never were such men as the apostles of
Jesus ; or that they were likewise impostors, and properly
suffered death for their wicked impiety. Give the particu-
lars of Saul's madly forsaking the honorable connection in
which he stood, for the sake of practising a fraud which
gained him an immense income of suffering. But you say
the apostles were not bad men. Very well. Yet how could
good men tell so many things they knew not true, and suffer
and even die in attestation of what they knew to be false ?
You cannot suppose honest men can bear testimony to false-
hood under pretence of doing good, as this would destroy all
testimony at once. Even your own could not be relied on,
if you admitted this detestable principle."
It is a suggestive facff that Mr. Kneeland, in reject-
ing Christianity, rejected all religion. He maintained
blank theoretical atheism.
Strongly does Mr. Ballou state the central historical
118 HOSEA BALLOU. [1815-1818
argument for the credibility of the New Testament
record : —
" The proofs of which the gospel is susceptible, are in all
respects equal to what they would have been in any other
way within the reach of human conception. This is going
to a great length, I confess ; yet I am strongly inclined to
this opinion. . . . No set of men ever lived in this world who
could either have planned such a scheme as the gospel, or
have invented such a chain of evidences for its support. If
the single miracle of the resurrection be considered, the fact
on which all the other facts of the gospel rest, it is confi-
dently believed that no human invention could have con-
ceived a system so well calculated to secure a knowledge
and belief of* the fact to all future generations, as that which
was adopted by the divine economy. Had the whole of the
.Jewish nation, with their Gentile neighbors, together with
the Roman authorities, all confessed Christianity, being fully
convinced of the resurrection of Jesus, and had they inscribed
all the miracles of the New Testament on monuments which
should defy the hand of time to bring them to decay, it re-
quires but a moment's reflection to see that all this would
have vastly increased the difficulty now to prove that it was
not all contrived by man's invention. Let us consider the
unbelief of the Jews ; the violent opposition of the ancient
priesthood ; its coalition with the Roman government against
the gospel ; the great jealousy which the acknowledged mir-
acles had excited ; the vigilance with which he was watched
by his religious enemies; the careful scrutiny to discover
fraud if possible in his miracles ; and then add to these con-
siderations tHat the miracles of Jesus were publicly performed,
and of such a nature as to admit of the easiest possible de-
tection if they had not been real ; and finally, to disarm un-
belief at once, consider that the ministry of the gospel was
set up by the apostles on the bold declaration that God had
raised the crucified Jesus - from the dead, — a declaration
which, if it had not been true, could have been easily refuted
and rendered the derision of all people."
Mt. 44-47.J SALEM. 119
Rafel}", if ever, has the historical argument for the
central facts of Christianity been more clearly or justly
stated. This is but a specimen of his statements
which show him thoroughly familiar with the histor-
ical grounds of Christian faith. His thoroughness,
exactness, and eloquence alike surprise us. When
he comes to the testimony of human nature to Chris-
tianity he is buoyantly confident: —
" It is a soul-rejoicing fact, that of the precious things
brought to light by the Sun of Righteousness, the hope of
immortality is the most precious jewel. * This makes every-
thing valuable. Hence we may lay up our treasures where
neither moth nor rust can corrupt, nor thieves break through
and steal. Here will God's bright favor never grow dim, nor
will our love and gratitude ever decay. Do you see that
celestial form leaning on her anchor unmoved, while the
raging waves of a restless sea dash against her feet? Do
you observe her aspect firm, and her eyes turned toward
heaven ? It is Hope. And would you wish to cast her
down, and dash her on the rocks of unyielding doubt ? Go
to the chamber of sickness, where life's waning embers can
no longer warm the dying heart ; there hear from cold and
quivering lips this hope expressed, * I long to be with Christ ;
I long to be at rest.' Would you blast this amaranthine
flower of faith and joy? would you plant in its stead the
nightshade of despair?"
Mr. Kneeland confessed himself unable to refute
Mr. Ballou's arguments. He says: —
"Notwithstanding when I found that I could not help
doubting, I have tried to reconcile myself to my doubts, and
have sincerely and honestly tried to make myself believe
that I was perfectly reconciled either way ; yet the moment
I begin to think about the certainty of immortality and
eternal life, I am all on fire ; I hardly know how to con-
120 HOSEA BALLOU. [1816-1818.
Before Mr. Ballou wrote the final epistle of the
'series, Mr. Kneeland had decided to re-enter the
Christian ministry. This fact will show the bearing
of his fraternal closing words: —
" To conclude ; as you, my brother, have labored together
with your fellow-servant to look into and examine these things
which belong to the kingdom of righteousness, and as we have
been favored with mutual satisfaction in these researches, may
it please the Great Head of the Church still to hold us in bis
hand, still to engage us in his blessed cause, and render our
mutual labors promotive of his grace among men. And how-
ever distant from each other it may best suit the Captain of
our Salvation to place us, may it be his pleasure to continue
our fellowship in the bonds of the gospel."
Mr. Ballou's steadfast affection for Mr. Kneeland
after he had, by lapse of faith, become widely sepa-
rated from him in opinion and purpose, his free prof-
fer of sympathy and help to his forlorn old friend in
prison, show us an aspect of our hero's nature we
cannot too strongly admire. He was not a friend
simply for a summer day.
During the last year of Mr. Ballou in Salem, it be-
came apparent tliat he was destined to a ministry
in Boston. Certain influential Universalists in that
city had set about building a commodious church on
School Street; the index-finger of all concurrent
events pointed to Mr. Ballou as the coming metropoli-
tan pastor. After Mr. Murray's death, Sept. 3, 1815,
there was no one to dispute with Mr. Ballou the first
place in the esteem and confidence of the Univer-
salist Church. More even than Mr. Murray he was
the doctrinal founder of the denomination. In the
^T. 44-47.] SALEM. 121
nature of things the strongest man would be called
to the place of largest influence.
His ministry in Salem left a deep and lasting im-
pression. Fifty years afterward there were those in
that city who spoke with kindling eyes and trembling
voices of the joy which came to them in their youth
through his awakening and melting words.
SCHOOL STREET CHURCH.
Pekiod, 1818-1819. Agb, 47.
/^N the first Sunday in January, 1818, Mr. Ballou
^^ began his ministry in Boston. Various circum-
stances conspired to make this an epochal event in the
history of Universalism.
Forty-four years prior, John Murray was stoned
while preaching in the old French Church, which stood
on the site afterward occupied by the School Street
Church. With the quick wit for which he was noted,
Mr. Murray took in his hand the stone which had
lodged in his pulpit, and said, " We confess the argu-
ment is solid and weighty, but it is neither scriptural
nor convincing." Mr. Murray was loyal to his Own
vision, and fought a good fight ; in honored old age,
after years of feebleness, he was in 1815 summoned
to his long home. In 1811 Rev. Edward Mitchell was
settled as his colleague. Like Mr. Murray, he was a
Rellyan, believing all mankind unconditionally share
the expiatory sacrifice of the Savior ; he was very in-
tolerant of the Unitarian view. His ministry was for
some reason not satisfactory, and at the end of a year
it quietly ended. Rev. Paul Dean was his successor ;
and after Mr. Murray's death he was the sole pastor
of the First Church for nine years. Some things in
regard to Mr. Dean it is disagreeable to recall, yet
^T. 47.] SCHOOL STREET CHURCH. 123
essential to an understanding of the circumstances
under which Mr. Ballou began his ministry in Boston.
The pastor of the First Church was in many ways an
estimable man. His preaching at this period was
aesthetically pleasing, and offended as little as possible
any one's prejudice. He trimmed close to the wind,
and was willing to spread for whiffling breezes. Was
he a Rellyan or a Unitarian at this period ? He was
neither decidedly. Such a passive ministry was at
this formative period ill-timed. Orthodoxy was con-
fident and arrogant. Mr. Dean's soft assaults were
not worthy even its notice. He was snowballing a
granite fort ; those inside were scarcely interested to
look over the parapet. It is to be feared also that
Mr. Dean was a victim of his own jealousy. He ex-
pressed no word of approval when he saw the new
church on School Street in process of erection. It is
welK attested that he endeavored to obstruct Mr.
Ballou's coming to Boston. " The inevitable rivalry
which will result," he said, "will be harmful to the
First Church." Mr. Ballou replied : " If Providence
should lead me to Boston, I will suffer notliing to be
done to the injury of the First Church." Mr. Dean
was still ill at ease. His trial was really not a slight
one. He h"ad once accompanied Mr. Ballou on a mis-
sionary tour, and knew his power of popular appeal.
Mr. Ballou in a Boston pulpit would, he knew, be the
point of attraction for all the Universalists of the city.
Mr. Dean had been victorious in some trials of pa-
tience ; but he could not now, if he tried his best,
be a cheerful Tantalus. When the new church was
dedicated, on the 16th of October, 1817, Mr. Dean sat
in the pulpit, but resolutely declined to take any part
124 HOSEA BALLOU. [1818-1819
in the services. He pleaded ill health, and no doubt
his plea should be allowed. Mr. Ballou was not
present, being absent in the country on a preaching
tour. Mr. Dean's attitude toward the new church and
the new neighbor was certainly not cordial.
Another fact is perhaps of more import. The new
Universalism, as embodied in the " Treatise," had at
this time secured no hearing in Boston. Mr. Murray,
it is well known, had been decided and at times petu-
lant against the new theology. His policy of exclu-
sion was heartily espoused by Mr. Mitchell and was
tacitly continued by Mr. Dean. What had the Uni-
versalists of Boston heard from their own pulpit ? A
scheme of doctrines embracing an Adamic fall, an
angry Deity, a prepared inferno, a personal Satan, a
deferred dramatic judgment-day, and universal re-
demption through the expiatory death of the second
person in the Trinity. One can now see at a glance
that such a system of Universalism is heavily mort-
gaged to Satanism. This was the only Universalism
that had been preached in Boston. It is true Mr.
Ballou, twenty years before, had preached ten Sundays
in Mr. Murray's pulpit ; but it was under circumstances
precluding the free expression of his peculiar personal
convictions ; and it is doubtful if he had then entirely
formulated his own system. So it was that, while the
'* Treatise " Universalism found instant acceptance
by the denomination elsewhere, Boston remained the
Gibraltar of Rellyism.
There were intelligent Universalists in Boston who
were not satisfied with this state of things. They
determined to break the policy of inertia which had
so long prevailed. With the spirit of reformers they
^T. 47.] SCHOOL STREET CHURCH. 125
brought the author of the "Treatise" to the New
Another matter needs to be understood as having
an important bearing on Mr. Ballou's advent in
Boston. In 1812 there appeared in Belsham's " Life
of Lindsey," a Unitarian preacher of London, letters
from several clergymen of Boston, which revealed the
fact that there were a number of prominent Con-
gregationalist ministers in secret protest against the
Athanasian doctrine of the Trinity. Three years
afterward, at the close of the war with England, this
" Life of Lindsey " fell into the hands of the editor
of the " Panoplist," a Boston Congregationalist news-
paper, and a division of the Congregationalist sect
was an immediate effect. Several Congregationalist
churches, discovering that they had Unitarian pastors,
promptly voted themselves Unitarian. The contro-
versy between the two divisions of Congregationalism
was hot and bitter. It is to be particularly noted
that during the first three years of the Unitarian
discussion in Boston the Universalists stood with the
Trinitarians. The Unitarians and Universalists were
thus hindered from coming to an early understanding
of their need of each other. When Mr. Ballou arrived
in Boston the Unitarians had lost their first zeal, and
were anxious to prove themselves "Orthodox" on all
points save the Trinity. It was during this reaction-
ary period of Unitarianism that Mr. Ballou saw in it
so much to condemn. That these two bodies, with so
many interests in common, were thus started on op-
posite roads is a matter for regret. That Mr. Ballou
should find Calvinism behind Unitarian intrenchments
is now one of the curiosities of history.
126 HOSRA BALLOU. [1818-1819.
Such were the circumstances attending Mr. Bai-
louts arrival in Boston. There was no cordial wel-
come for him seemingly, anywhere, save among his
own people. There was a bit of jealousy at the First
Church, a bit of haughtiness among the Unitarians ;
there was profound unconcern among the dominant
But to Boston Mr. Ballou has at last come. Some
" common people " are prepared to hear him gladly.
We may be sure of one thing, • — the spell of the timid
policy will be quickly broken ; there will now be plain
speaking and fair fighting. The new Universalism
will be brought boldly to the front.
He was installed Dec. 25, 1817. It is suggestive of
a conciliatory spirit in Mr. Ballou that by his request
Mr. Dean preached the sermon and proffered the
fellowship of the churches in the installation ser-
vices. The installing prayer and charge were given
by Rev. Edward Turner.
The commotion produced by Mr. Ballou's first Sun-
day's preaching yet lives as a tradition. He was in
the full maturity of his powers. Wherever the magi-
cal finger of' Fame points, human eyes must follow ;
and Fame had made some overtures toward this man
from the hills. It is true, Boston blue blood received
no quickening from him ; yet it cannot be questioned
that he touched the best life of Boston. His vigorous
health, his dignified and striking person, his strong
and flexible voice, — powerful in emphasis, melting in
appeal, — his mild blue eyes, which sparkled in mo-
ments of humor and flashed as with heat-lightning in
moods of moral indignation ; his self-command in the
pulpit and freedom from manuscript ; his simple yet
THE OLD SCHOOL-STREET CHURCH.
JEt. 47.] SCHOOL STREET CHURCH. 127
irresistible reasoning ; his pictorial illustrations ; his
entire self-absorption in his themes, — these things
were noted as his recommendations by the people on
the first Sunday of his ministry in Boston.
From that daiy the popular Sunday tide was turned
toward his church. His sayings were repeated; his
adroit witticisms were kept on their errands for weeks
among the people ; his reasonableness and fearless-
ness were generally conceded by those who had once
heard him in the pulpit.
In order to accommodate the throngs which desired
to hear him, he usually preached three times each
Sunday. The seats of the church would be filled in
the forenoon ; the aisles would be filled in the after-
noon ; in the evening, the doors, stairs, windows, and
pulpit-steps would be crowded to the last inch of room.
These immense congregations were completely under
the preacher's control. Smiles and tears, joy at the
discovery of some new aspect of the gospel, sympathy
for mankind in the light of the Divine Fatherhood,
gratitude for a faith answering to the soul's deep need,
— these sentiments, like clouds in still water, were
pictured in the face of the congregation when under
the rapt preacher's sway.
The evening sermon of his first Sunday has for-
tunately been preserved. Mr. Henry Bowen, a young
printer, with a heart to serve his faith and an eye
for business, prevailed on Mr. Ballou to write it
out for publication ; and this, by the way, was the
beginning of an enterprise which was the agency
afterward of conveying many of Mr. Ballou's sermons
to the larger public. The text of this first published
discourse must itself have been, an astonishment to
128 HOSE A BALLOU. [1818-1819
those who had a suspicion that Universalism could
be believed only by refusing to note certain passages
in the Bible. " And to you, who are troubled, rest
with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from
heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking
vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey
not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be
punished with everlasting destruction from the pres-
ence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power "
(2 Thess. i. 7-9). ''When," asked the preacher, "is
the event here described to come to pass ^ " He turned
to Matthew xvi. 27, and read : " The Son »>f Man shall
come in the glory of his Father with his angels ; then
shall he reward every man according to his works."
" Clearly, this is the coming to which the text refers.
When was it to occur ? The Savior does not leave it
to conjecture : ' Verily I say unto you, there be some
standing here, which shall not taste death till they
see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom ' " (Matt,
xvi. 28). Other Scriptural proofs were adduced to
prove that the revelation of the Lord Jesus from
heaven, with his mighty angels, to take vengeance on
unbelievers, was an event of the past. " What is to be
avenged ? Unbelief. Why will vengeance be taken on
unbelievers ? That they may be taught to *know God,
whom to know is life eternal. It is the vengeance of
love. It is a flaming fire from heaven ; but the Lord
Jesus and his mighty angels are in it, therefore it is
heavenly. Fire is purifying. Vengeance, in God, means
purifying punishment, according to the Psalmist's
teaching: 'Thou wast a God that forgavest them,
though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions.' "
On this line the merciful meaning of the text was
Mt. 47.1 SCHOOL STREET CHURCH. 129
made to appear. The vengeance of God must be
harmonious with the character of God. The preacher's
moral appeal against the prevailing interpretation is
characteristic. We give a passage : —
"The kind of divine vengeance we have been usually
taught to contemplate, is consistent with nothing but the
worst and wickedest of human passions. One would be
led to believe, on seeing the tragical scene of horror gen-
erally represented as the fulfilment of the text, that some
powerful angel from the imaginary regions of darkness was
let loose on mankind! Who would suppose it to be that
humble, meek, kind son of Mary, of whom we have an ac-
count in the New Testament ? Will Jesus, who opened the
eyes of the blind, who opened the ears of the deaf, who
caused the lame man to leap as an hart, the tongue of the
dumb to sing, who raised the dead, cast out devils, and
cured all manner of diseases among the people of a wicked
age and nation, ever appear in our world as a destroyer of
human beings ? Will that blessed, that adorable Son of God,
whose name is music in heaven and consolation to every
believer, who gave himself a ransom for all mankind, and
prayed for his murderers on the cross, who taketh away the
sin of the world, ever come with hostile intentions against
the redeemed, and fulfil all the vain imaginations of super-
stition by scattering firebrands of vindictive wrath and eter-
nal death among the offspring of his Father ? "
The effect of such preaching was electric. Nothing
like this had the TJniversalists of Boston previously
heard. Their preachers had dealt in the stock Ortho-
dox phrases. They were accustomed to hear of the
literal ignoble anger and vengeance of the Infinite
Father, and of his pacification by the Son. Here was
fundamental denial of the whole scheme.
There was immediate quickening of the Universalist
130 HOSEA BALLOU. [181&-1819.
pulse in the city. Hope was revived and courage
strengthened. Those who, profiting by such words
of instruction, were received into the household of
faith, counted it joy to give themselves to a cause so
Meanwhile Mr. Dean, at the First Church, was
grieved and hurt. He was instinctively a gentleman,
and was not without noble impulses, but he was
human. He has been severely blamed by many who
would probably in his place have been far more
fretted. That he did not, for instance, possess such
a spirit of self-abnegation as Nathaniel Stacy, who
was eager to yield his own established missionary
circuit in the Mohawk Valley to Mr. Ballon, and
find a new one for himself, if thereby he could
bring the stirring preacher to New York, — that Mr.
Dean was instead thoughtful especially of himself and
the First Church, is, to say the least, so like human
nature, as the most of us know by very particular
acquaintance, that we would cover the shortcoming or
failure with the mantle of charity. The matter would
find no mention in these pages save for its relation
to some important subsequent happenings.
Mr. Ballou's Boston ministry, as we have seen, was
begun with a vigor to match the first Napoleon's. He
summoned all his forces to the front, and made no
provision for retreat. School Street Church at once
became the representative battle-ground, not only for
the Universalists of Boston, but of all New England.
It focused the Universalist cause.
" Sixteen Universalist societies, twelve Universalist
preachers, " — such was the meagre numerical record
of the cause in Massachusetts when Mr. Ballon came
JEt. 47 ] SCHOOL STREET CHURCH. 131
to Boston. He lived to see the number increased to
more than a hundred preachers, and a larger number
He was in School Street Church a tower of strength
for the Universalist cause, and a leader and defender
of the people.
A VIGILANT WATCHMAN^
Period, 1818-1862. Aob, 47-81.
THE symbol is not strained in the least when
Hosea Ballou in School Street Church is called
a tower of strength for the Universalist cause.
We have read in some book of ancient warfare, of
the Martello Tower, a high, circular stone building,
with a single catapult or cannon on the summit,
mounted on a traversing platform, to be quickly
turned in any direction. Mr. Ballou in the School
Street pulpit was like a watchman on a Martello
Tower. When he mounted guard, a new security
was felt by the Universalists of Boston. His words
of reassurance were more tonical than the Boston
Bay breezes on an August afternoon. The people
had confidence in his vigilance and in the integrity
of his judgment. Universalists became aggressively
in earnest; they no longer felt themselves casting
unheeded snowballs at an intrenched enemy. They
knew the eagle-eyed watchman on the tower would
keep a faithful lookout for all assailants.
And soon assaults came.
Rev. Timothy Merritt was one of the Methodist
preachers in Boston. He was the first volunteer
against the new disturber of Orthodox complacency.
He issued a pamphlet entitled "Strictures on Mr.
^T. 47-81.] A VIGILANT WATCHMAN. 133
Ballou's Sermon delivered at the Second Univer-
salist Meeting-house in Boston on the Evening of the
First Sabbath in January, 1818." We concede to
Mr. Merritt credit for zeal, and appreciate his des-
perate endeavor to be witty. But his lame argument
— lame even then with old age — we can scarcely
regard as worthy of reproduction. He maintained
that the Scriptures prophesy a literal end of the
material world as preliminary to a day of judgment ;
and he based his proposition mainly on passages the
revisers have since cleared of all appearance of such
meaning as was then ascribed to them. Mr. Ballou
was soon face to face with the new assailant. We
assume he preached a sermon or two on the theme ;
the sermon was his cannon on a traversing platform,
to be fired in any direction where there was need.
He also made a sortie with a pamphlet entitled " A
Brief Reply to the Strictures." It was an opportu-
nity to explain to such as would use their eyes the
meaning of the scriptural phrases " judgment," ^* that
day," and " end of the world." The work was done
witli civility and faithfulness. Mr. Merritt was not
satisfied; he was soon again before the public with
a pamphlet entitled "A Vindication of the Common
Opinion relative to the Last Judgment and the End
of the World, — in Answer to Mr. Ballou's Reply."
It seems he hoped now to end the controversy ; but
while there was little in his pamphlet to require
answer, his opponent was not one voluntarily to re-
tire from a discussion while it could be made a means
of enlightenment to honest inquirers. Mr. Ballou
followed quickly with a "Brief Reply;" the brevity
admitting of an exhaustive treatment extending
134 HOSEA BALLOU. [1818-1862.
through forty closely-printed octavo pages. As a
specimen of Mr. Ballou's reasoning against the doc-
trine of endless punishment, we extract as follows :
" If such a tremendous punishment is to be inflicted on
some to prevent others from sinning in this world, why
should the whole affair be kept out of sight? The King of
Babylon once had a furnace in which to burn those who
would not worship the image which he had set up ; and he
had it where the people could see it. This was remarkably
effectual, for we have no account of more than three who
were not terrified into submission. If there be in reality
such dreadful torments in another state for crimes com-
mitted in this world, it seems reasonable to conclude that
they are kept out of sight of mortals lest they should have
the effect on them to prevent their committing those sins
for which it is just to punish them in this unmerciful man-
ner. If this be the scheme, it is not agreeable to it to
persuade people to do well. ... As we cannot find the
necessity of this doctrine of punishing people in another
state to prevent wickedness here, we will endeavor to look
for its necessity in the state where it is supposed to exist :
and as our preachers are constantly calling our attention
to this awful subject, we will approach it now in good ear-
nest. Well, then, suppose the time is come. This material
world is burned up. Eternity commences. The righteous
are received into heaven, and the wicked are sent to hell.
What are those poor miserable wretches in hell to be tor-
mented unmercifully and eternally for? Answer: as a
warning to others, and for the security of the divine gov-
ernment. Here the absurdity of the whole scheme stares
us in the face. What ! must the blessed in heaven be terri-
fied with th6 torments of hell to keep them from committing
sin ? Must the righteous husband see his sinful companion,
with whom he lived in this world in love and peace, in the
torments of hell forever in order to keep him from becoming
a sinner in immortal glory? Must the righteous wife see
^T. 47-81] A VIGILANT WATCHMAN. 135
her sinful husband, with whom she lived in this world in
harmony and love, and raised a family of children, some
for heaven and some for hell, in this horrible torment, in
order to prevent her from apostatizing from glory? Will
it be necessary in heaven for parents to see their own off-
spring in the burning lake, in order to make them love
God ? And must children there, in immortal bliss, see their
parents in hell, in order to inspire them with the true spirit
of devotion to the God of mercy ? Will all this unspeak-
able horror be necessary to heighten the hallelujahs which
surround the throne of God and the Lamb? Is this the
message proclaimed by the angels to the shepherds, — ' Fear
not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which
shall be unto all people ' ? "
Mr. Ballou maintained that the power of the gos-
pel is not in such fears, conjured by the imagination,
but in the attractions of the Father, and the moral
efficacy of love. "The goodness of God leadeth to
repentance." As a confession of his positive regen-
erating faith, these words, with which he closes the
controversy with Mr. Merritt, are worthy earnest
attention : —
" Before the majesty of Love the writer of these sheets
prostrates himself, and to it' yields himself a willing captive.
Yes, and he avails himself of this opportunity of testifying
to the public, and particularly to his opponent, that this Love
is all his confidence. He knows no law, no gospel, no sav-
ior, no justice, no holiness, no truth, no life eternal, no solid
peace, no substantial enjoyment, but this same Love. If the
doctrine of universal, unchangeable mercy cannot be sup-
ported by Love, it falls to the ground ; but if Love Divine
lies at the bottom of this doctrine, the more it is examined,
the more it is opposed, the more it is persecuted, the more
it will manifest its immovable foundation."
136 IIOSEA BALLOU. [1818-1862.
Here tlie discussion closed. During its progress
the Universalist cause and not the Methodist gained
converts. This was not what Rev. Timothy Merritt
desired. He retired to silence with his withered
Our Martello-tower watchman is not long, however,
in discovering another assailant worthy a sermon and
a pamphlet. He never disdains a challenge of Cal-
vinism, the Goliath of his youth. Calvinism in 1818,
we must remember, was, if wounded, yet alive; it
scarcely dreamed the hurts it had received were fatal.
Mr. Ballon thought it not amiss to sling another
pebble or two into its exposed forehead.
Dr. Nathaniel Emmons, of Franklin, Massachusetts,
published a book of sermons ; one of the sermons was
on the text referring to Pharaoh (Ex. ix. 16) : " In
very deed, for this cause have I raised thee up." Ac-
cording to Dr. Emmons, God raised up Pharaoh on
purpose endlessly to torment him, and God is to be
justified in the act. This was made as plain by the
tender-hearted doctor as De Quincey makes it plain
that murder is one of the fine arts. The beautiful
doctrine of reprobation was valiantly defended by
Dr. Emmons, who, it is suggestive to remember, was
one of the new-school Calvinists of his day. Let us
observe how fairly and justly Mr. Ballou describes
the dear old doctrine: —
" Why did Pharaoh oppress the children of Israel ? An-
swer : for the promotion of his own worldly glory. Would
he have been thus cruel if he had not believed that he should
promote his own interest by it? No, Why does God exer-
cise his unmerciful vengeance on his creatures? Hear the
Doctor's answer : * God made Pharaoh for himself, as well
^T. 47-81.] A VIGILANT WATCHMAN. 137
as for the day of evil ; and he would not have made him
for the day of evil, had it not been necessary in order to de-
clare his own glory. God has the same end to answer by
bringing all the non-elect into existence. He intends they
shall be the means of displaying his own glory, both in time
and in eternity/ Now, let the mind be free from all preju-
dice abd superstition, and let it answer the following ques-
tion : Which would you choose to be, Pharaoh's bondman,
or God's non-elect in hell ? There is no doubt the Doctor
would choose to be Pharaoh's bondman. And if so, it is a
fact, whether he will own it or not, that he has a better opin-
ion of Pharaoh than he has of God ! "
Another passage from Mr. Ballou's pamphlet de-
scribing a different phase of the dying Satanism, so
long miscalled Christianity, is worthy attention : —
" We may now notice what the Doctor says concerning
the blessed in heaven. The following are his words : * It is
absolutely necessary to approve of the doctrine of reproba-
tion in order to be saved. None can be admitted to heaven
who are not prepared to join in the employments as well as
the enjoyments of the heavenly world ; and we know that
one part of the business of the blessed is to celebrate the
doctrine of reprobation. While the decree of reprobation is
eternally executing on the vessels of wrath, the smoke of
their torments will be eternally ascending in the view of the
vessels of mercy, who, instead of taking the part of those mis-
erable objects, will say. Amen ! Alleluia ! Praise ye the Lord.'
This he calls a * touchstone,' by which we must stand or fall.
All who have not a heart which perfectly accords with this
eternal reprobation ' must be excluded from the abodes of the
blessed, and sink speechless into the bottomless pit of despair.'
With these sweet words the reverend Doctor closes his ser-
mon, — a sermon which will serve as a monument of human
weakness and beggarly superstition when its author, as we
confidently hope, will rest in the arms of that merciful God
138 HOSEA BALLOU. [181&-1852.
whom he has so misrepresented. The preacher makes our
cordial willingness that our fellow-creatures should be eter-
nally reprobated to endless torments an indispensable condi-
tion of salvation. All men who are not willing their dearest
connections in life should be endlessly miserable, must be
made so themselves ! This sentiment is too absurd to need
any argument to refute it. Did our blessed Savior preach
in this way ? Did he who gave himself a ransom for all men,
who prayed for his enemies, and who teaches us to pray for
our enemies, ever inform us that we must be eternally mis-
erable if we are not willing others should be so ? O Jesus,
to whom shall we go ? Thou hast the words of everlasting
A Universalist seminary now stands on the old
Emmons estate at Franklin. The theology Dr. Em-
mons bequeathed to posterity has suffered a similar
transformation. We will hope with Mr. Ballon that
the Divine Mercy has, in the world where he now is,
pardoned the '" human weakness and beggarly super-
stition " of the doctrines he taught while on earth.
Who next, and where?
Of all the cliallenges and bouts, the defensive
strategies and sharp thrusts, with " the sword of the
Spirit, which is the Word of God," we cannot give
full account. Of the inquirers answered, the oppo-
nents met in conflict, the supercilious critics punct-
ured with keen-edged wit, we cannot attempt even
an inventory. We confess our inability to under-
stand how physical human nature could endure such
a strain as Mr. Ballon put upon himself during those
early years of his Boston ministry. Three sermons
in the crowded church on Sunday; occasional jour-
neys into the country, to give the encouragement of
his presence and inspiring words to scattered believ-
Mt. 47-81.1 A VIGILANT WATCHMAN. 139
ers; frequent lectures nearer home on week-day
evenings; a faithful ministry as pastor to the sick
and bereaved, — this was work to exhaust a man's
strength. Yet he had strength and zeal for large
additional labors. We shall hereafter speak of his
editorial cares. Here we observe thj^t he was rarely
without a controversy on his hands. At scarcely any
time during his mature years, indeed, do we find
him not engaged in an exacting doctrinal discussion.
Twenty-six "Lecture Sermons," preached on alter-
nate Sunday evenings during a year, and generally
prepared in answer to inquiries for clear thought
and consistent doctrine, were published separately;
when completed, they made a volume of sermons
which became famous. The life Mr. Ballou lived in
these days is wonderful for its fulness. He was a
cheerful man, else he could not have been such an
intense and untiring worker.
One discussion in which he was engaged during
his first year in Boston we shall carefully study in
a chapter by itself. We refer to his controversy with
Rev. Edward Turner on future punishment. The
effect of this discussion on Mr. Ballou's own faith
must also be described.
It is to be regretted, but under the circumstances
it was inevitable, that Mr. Ballou should come into
collision with the Unitarians. When a Unitarian
newspaper, "The Kaleidoscope," was started in the
professed interest of " rational and liberal Christian-
ity, as distinguished from Roman Catholicism, Cal-
vinism, Hopkinsianism, Univeraaliamj and Deism,"
Mr. Ballou did not feel complimented to have his
cause so classified. It occurred to him to say as
140 HOSEA BALLOU. [1818-1852.
much. When the editor of "The Kaleidoscope"
pressed him to avow his position on future punish-
ment, saying, "If not inconsistent with your views
and feelings, we respectfully request you to inform
us and the public on this point," lie parried the
proffer with some stinging home-thrusts. "'If not
inconsistent with my views and feelings!' as if any
but Unitarians could hold opinions jn private not to
be confessed in public ! " When the Unitarian, Dr.
Ware, in reply to a charge of Dr. Leod that the
Unitarians were tending to Universalism, declared,
"The doctrine of a tremendous retribution, incon-
ceivable, indescribable, awaiting the wicked in a
future world, is a part of our creed and of our
preaching," Mr. Ballon was moved to observe that
"after all the heart-chilling and soul-appalling hor-
rors actually described by Calvinistic preachers, the
Unitarians declare their dissent because the future
punishment in which they believe exceeds the power
of conception and defies all description!" He did
not therefore, he says, court Unitarian fellowship for
Universalists ; quite the contrary. " Universalists,"
he said, " can never consent to show fellowship with
Yet Hosea Ballon was a Unitarian.
When Sylvester Graham came to Boston in 1837,
preaching the superiority of a vegetable diet, he was
mobbed in Amory Hall. One would naturally expect
to find butchers the persecuting rabble. It was, how-
ever, a " bakers' rising." If Mr. Graham had simply
recommended patronage of bakers instead of butch-
ers, he might have been the recipient of loaves in
abundance ; but he recommended coarse, home-made
Mt. 47-81.] A VIGILANT WATCHMAN. 141
bread, and he was rewarded by the generous bakers
with decayed eggs and brickbats. A little difference
is sometimes equivalent to much.
Hosea Ballou was a Unitarian. He had, by his
unaided teaching, brought his entire denomination
to the Unitarian standard. One would think this
should entitle him, when he came to Boston, to Uni-
tarian favor. Because, however, he was something
more than a Unitarian of those days, he was held
Time nevertheless has brought correction. Bakers
now make and sell " Graham bread," and Unitarians
as a body confess the Universalist hope.
That Martello-tower watchman is still profoundly
remembered in the city of the Mathers. His thirty-
five years of ministry in Boston justified its early
promise. "To the hero the hour is great when he
mounts guard." Mr. Ballou made the hour epochal
when he came to Boston in championship of the
cause he held dearer than his life.
A DISCUSSION AND ITS SEQUENCES.
Pebiod, 1817-1818. Age, 46-47.
V\7HEN in 1817, before he had left Salem, Hosea
^^ Ballou sent a fraternal challenge to Rev.
Edward Turner, of Charlestown, to discuss with him
the question " whether the doctrine of future punish-
ment is taught in the Scriptures," we surmise he
little imagined the inter-denominational strife which
would be thereby initiated. It is not the first in-
stance that a fire, the fuel being susceptible, has
been kindled from a spark.
Rev. Jacob Wood, of Haverhill, was the immediate
instigator of the discussion. It has been intimated
that as a go-between he, without exact facts to war-
rant, told each respectively that the other was very
desirous of the controversy. Mr. Wood afterward
figured prominently in the Restorationist secession.
Mr. Ballou had a natural fondness for debate ; but
why, when he had at least one other discussion on
his hands, he should propose this new one, is an un-
solved puzzle. "The human mind," he said in his
friendly summons, "never becomes acquainted with
its own resources until opposition and difficulties call
them into action." We have heard a somewhat
similar observation in a young men's debating so-
ciety; but why two mature men, greatly burdened
Mt. 46-47.] A DISCUSSION AND ITS SEQUENCES. 143
with cares, should wish to engage in such a method
of self-culture is not clear.
"At first thought," he further continues, "it might
seem that the two who are to conduct the discussion
should be of opposite sentiments on the subject ar-
gued." A very natural first thought! Men do not
often argue, with self-satisfaction at least, unless their
arguments accord with their convictions. Attorneys,
it is true, sometimes pretend to opinions; this is
expected in the legal profession, but religious ques-
tions are not, as a rule, discussed save on a basis of
sincerity. " On more mature consideration, how-
ever," he adds, "a thought suggests itself, — that the
inquiry will be more likely to be kept free from in-
judicious zeal if the parties are of the same opinion,
than if they were of opposite sentiments." No doubt;
if there be no real disagreement, there can be little
temptation for the disputants to present other than
the good and pleasant sight of brethren dwelling
together in unity.
These brethren, be it understood, were at this time
fellow-believers in the doctrine of limited future pun-
ishment. Nearly twenty years before, Mr. Ballou, in
his discussion with Rev. Joel Foster, had temporarily
assumed unbelief in any future punishment, but at
the close of the discussion confessed faith " in a fu-
ture state of discipline in which the impenitent will
be miserable." Some years afterward he discarded
the doctrine of "penal sufferings," which we inter-
pret as meaning penalties arbitrarily inflicted, the
fulfilment of which God will accept in the stead of
obedience. He believed that punishment is corrective ;
that when it has wrought its object of correction it
144 HOSEA BALLOU. [1817-1818.
will cease. Obedience, not suffering, he said, God
exacts from his children. On this theory he could
believe in future punishment only as the result of
actual sinning in the future world. Yet he regarded
certain passages of Scripture, notably Peter's ob-
scure statement in regard to Christ preaching to
spirits in prison, as teaching that there will be fu-
ture sinning and suffering. While there may have
been, therefore, incipient tendencies in his thought
toward his subsequent diverse views, he was, as he
confessed, now in substantial agreement with his
brother Turner, and with Universalist clergymen
in general, in believing that punishment of sin will
extend into the spiritual realm. It certainly shows
him not deeply prejudiced one way or the other,
that he could make this proffer to Mr. Turner (we
quote his exact words) : " You have the privilege
of choosing the side of the question that you would
prefer to vindicate, and move as directly to the mer-
its of the argument as you think proper, and leave
the other to be vindicated by me."
The discussion which ensued — Mr. Turner accept-
ing the challenge and choosing to " vindicate future
punishment " — is extant in the " Gospel Visitant."
It is unique reading ; but as a discussion of the com-
plex question involved, we must be allowed to think
it crude and inadequate. Mr. Turner is chary,
diffuse, in many of his sentences obscure; and Mr.
Ballon is in the first part exceedingly unlike him-
self. It is said of Abraham Lincoln, that when as
a lawyer he had before a jury a case not in accord-
ance with his sense of justice, he was limp as a
water-soaked reed. It is not to Mr. Ballou's dis-
^T. 46-47.] A DISCUSSION AND ITS SEQUENCES. 145
credit that in this respect he exhibits some likeness
to Mr. Lincoln.
Nevertheless, these letters are important, in Mr.
Ballou's life-story, as a turning-point in his faith.
" While attending to this correspondence," he wrote
to Thomas Whittemore in 1829, " I became entirely
satisfied that the Scriptures begin and end the his-
tory of sin in flesh and blood, and that beyond this
mortal existence the Bible teaches no other sentient
state than that which is called by the blessed name
of life and immortality."
Scanning these fourteen epistles, we find in the
verbiage some threads of argument. Mr. Turner
proposes this for a test-question: "Does death ne-
cessarily produce such a moral change in the mind
of the sinner as to make him at once a willing,
obedient, happy subject of the moral kingdom?"
Mr. Ballon, in reply, is not willing to accept the
question in a form conceding such power to death;
affirming that "at the dissolution of the natural
corruptible body the Savior of sinners, who has con-
quered death and him who had the power of death,
may do what death could not eflfect, and clothe the
subject of his grace in his right mind, as he did the
man among the tombs." Here this thread is dropped.
Mr. Turner takes up another, affirming that as one
may suffer for sins committed a year before, there
may be by the same law of memory painful conse-
quences of sin carried forward into the future life.
Mr. Ballon replies: "That the powers of man can
remain for a year without temptation, without being
led into sin, and without being liable to be led into
sin, and yet suffer for sins committed before this
146 HOSEA BALLOU. [1817-1818.
period, surely needs some evidence." Mr. Turner
responds with the statement that the brethren of
Joseph painfully remembered their sin of years be-
fore, and their regret was apparently not occasioned
by sins afterward committed ; Paul also had painful
regret for his crime of persecution long after his
experience of repentance, conversion, and divine
forgiveness. Mr. Ballou affirms in reply that regret
is not identical with guilt or punishment; also that
the immortal state is such a complete deliverance
from the limits df mortality that we are not justified
in adhering very closely to the earthly analogy.
So the thread is sent back and forth, as in a shuttle
on a loom, and the fabric of controversy is woven.
Mr. Turner is at length constrained to say : " That
I have never had much claim to the character of a
close investigator, and still less to that of a deep
controvertist, are circumstances with which you are
perfectly familiar." He is apologizing for the open
secret that he is conducting his argument with wor-
risome feebleness. Mr. Ballou rejoins in these over-
generous words : " To me it is entirely inconceivable
how an argument could be better managed than the
one you have adduced to prove that the guilt and
condemnation of sin not only may be but actually
are protracted beyond the existence of the sin itself."
We misjudge if we think him satirical. His esteem
for his opponent's ability was unfeigned. He be-
lieved his argument had been skilfully conducted.
He thought the argument, however, insufficient to
support the doctrine of future punishment.
Mr. Turner, as a new thread, refers to the passage
in 1 Peter iii. 18-20, where Christ is spoken of as
Mt. 46-47.] A DISCUSSION AND ITS SEQUENCES. 147
once suffering for sins, the just for the unjust, that
he might bring us to God, and went also and preached
unto the spirits in prison, which were sometime dis-
obedient.^ Mr. Ballou is at once touched and aroused.
He has in a previous issue of the " Gospel Visitant "
expounded this intricate passage. He has maintained
its obvious import to be that the people wlio were on
earth in the days of Noah were in a prisoned condition
in the invisible world at the time of the crucifixion
of Christ, and that Jesus then went to preach to them
the emancipating gospel. This is, of course, to assume
the existence of sin and punishment in the spiritual
state. He now sets resolutely about a review of his
former exposition. He conceives the meaning may be
that Christ in the power of his resurrection preached
to imprisoned Gentile souls, — souls imprisoned in
sin, prejudice, and ignorance. He finds prophecies
of Christ's work in the earth as an opener of prison
doors that the oppressed may go free. He becomes,
without pretence, convinced that he has found the
right clew to the perplexing passage. He is soon en-
tirely certain of the correctness of his new rendering.
His exposition is lengthy, full, yet concise ; he is, as
respects debating power, himself again; disagree as
one may with his point of view, no one who candidly
reads can deny that he has accomplished a remark-
able work of exegesis in behalf of his cause.
1 The passage reads: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins,
the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to
death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit ; by which also he went
and preached unto the spirits in prison ; which sometime were disobe-
dient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah,
while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were
saved by water."
148 nOSEA BALLOU. [1817-1818.
This virtually ended the controversy. Mr. Turner
made some objections ; his tone assumed a quality of
sliglit petulance. Mr. Ballou easily disposed of the
objections offered ; it is evident he now argued with-
out assumption and in self-enjoyment. The corre-
spondence abruptly closed with the cessation of the
publication of the " Gospel Visitant." That the con-
troversial laurels, whatever the merits of the cause,
are to be conceded to Mr. Ballou, must be the voice
This summarizes the controversy so important in
We indulge a query: What would have been the
probable result if Mr. Turner had chosen to defend
the no-future-punishment doctrine? "A man," says
Sterne, '^ picks up an opinion as he picks up an apple ;
it becomes his own ; if he is a man of spirit he would
lose his life rather than give it up." Under stress
of defence one easily exaggerates. " The cricket had
been singing five minutes," said Dickens; "contra-
dict me, and I '11 say ten." We have seen how Abner
Kneeland, by assuming the position of a sceptic, was
apparently helped into scepticism. We recall that
Hosea Ballou in his youth, by assuming in his con-
versation with Elder Brown to be a Universalist, was
helped into Universalism. It was only, we observe,
on this question of future punishment that Mr. Ballou
ever assumed, save incidentally and briefly, a position
other than his own. It is of course no evidence that
his conclusion is wrong, to see that he was led to its
adoption under subtle laws governing human nature.
It was a foregone conclusion in such a discussion, that,
however the sides were chosen, Edward Turner would
-Et. 46-47] A DISCUSSION AND ITS SEQUENCES. 149
be vanquished. It is an interesting query how far, as
respects denominational tendencies, Edward Turner
held the decision of destiny in his hands when it w^as
left to him to choose which side of the issue he would
We do not purpose to review at any length the
old inter-denominational controversy. We have not
space to give to this dead issue. The general dis-
cussion which followed is to be characterized, how-
ever, as not altogether free from " injudicious zeal,"
to repeat Mr; Ballou's phrase; it was often even
partisan and violent. Paul Dean showed himself at
his worst in this doctrinal warfare. Under his lead
the discussion in 1831 resulted in actual schism;
eight clergymen initiated the unfortunate, in fact
almost still-born, Restorationist sect. But it is our
privilege and duty to say that throughout this sharp
controversy, as far as we learn of it in its published
records, Mr. Ballou maintained a degree of personal
dignity and judicial equanimity to which we must ac-
cord cordial admiration. On this point of doctrine
we do not profess implicit agreement with him ; but in
our disagreement we would do him justice. Univer-
salists are, and have been since the decline of Relly-
ism, in substantial unity in the acceptance of the
" Ballou theology " as a system of doctrines ; freedom
of disagreement on the question of future discipline
has never been more earnestly claimed than it was by
Mr. Ballou cordially conceded.
What were Hosea Ballou's distinctive ideas on fu*
For many years, as we have seen, he assented to
the doctrine. At first he held to the " penal code,"
150 HOSEA BALLOU. [1817-1818.
that is, the arbitrary exaction of suffering as the sub-
stitute for obedience. Afterward he believed that
sinful acts carry in themselves judgment and pun-
ishment ; hence that punishment in the future world
will depend on actual sinning in that world. He
finally arrived at the opinion that there can be no
sinning in the future life ; hence that there will be
no punishment. The movement of his thought,
whether progressive or not, was orderly.
His doctrine has been grossly perverted, because
some have failed to make distinctions which seem to
us as visible as a church by daylight.
It has been asserted that he believed death to be in
an absolute sense a moral savior. His saying that the
biblical history of sin is confined to " flesh and blood,"
has been interpreted as a confession of faith that sin
is in flesh and blood, and does not touch the soul. He
plainly means by the phrase, however, only the earthly
time-section of our lives. In 1833 Dr. Channing said
the interpretation of his doctrine is : " Moral evil is
to be buried ii^ the grave." Mr. Ballou was not a
little indignant that he was so interpreted. " It has
the appearance," he said, " of a canting throw at what
he is not disposed to treat with his usual candor."
Again, Dr. Channing said Ballou-Universalists ascribe
the "power to death of changing and purifying the
mind." Mr. Ballou did not mean to be misunderstood
in his reply : " He certainly never heard any of us
state such views, nor has he ever read any such state-
ment in any of our writings." It came to be a fashion
with some to speak of his doctrine as "death-and-
glory," implying that death is synonymous with glory.
He at one time patiently explained that the phrase
Mt. 46-47 ] A DISCUSSION AND ITS SEQUENCES. 161
could no more describe his doctrine than any doctrine
of blessed immortality. His doctrine was censori-
ously caricatured as " salvation by mud " and " salva-
tion by rot." He withheld reply. Those who charged
Christ with casting out demons by the prince of de-
mons were far gone in perversity ; having eyes they
would not see. The keynote of Mr. Ballou's thought
on this point — from which he, save inadvertently,
neither flatted nor sharped to the last 7— is his re-
fusal even to discuss whether death produces a sav-
ing moral change in the character of the sinner.
" Never," he said to Dr. Channing, " did we ascribe
the power of cleansing from sin to anything but that
which the Scriptures mean by ^the blood of the
Yet he undoubtedly ascribed an important agency
to death. He said with Paul, " to die is gain." In
his view death is cessation of bodily ills and the draw-
ing away of the veil from the spiritual realm. As
amusement seekers are impatient for the curtain to
be drawn away from the theatre stage, that the scenic
life may begin, so death may be longed for as " happy
release " from the darkness of mortality and the un-
veiling of the glories of immortality. To say that
death, according to this theory, is identical with the
experience of the holiness and happiness of heaven,
is as inaccurate as to say that the theatre play con-
sists entirely in the withdrawing of the curtain. The
withdrawing of the veil cast over all nations, that the
hidden realities may be known, is of measureless im-
portance ; but it is not itself to be confounded with the
moral power of the spiritual realities then revealed.
He believed the wages of sin is death ; sin is moral
152 HOSEA BALLOU. [1817-1818.
death in itself ; its destiny is literally to die. He be-
lieved the good only is to live. Prom the bath of
death the soul rises, washed of its sins, but possessed
of all the good it has achieved. The present punish-
ment of sin, instant in all sinful deeds, he held to be
the practical and biblical doctrine of judgment.
He believed that the soul on arriving at immortal-
ity, with earthly and sinful desires all gone, will im-
mediately behold such heavenly illumination as will
cause a glad forgetfulness of the things behind, and a
pressing forward toward the things before. This re-
sult of glorious salvation, however, he believed would
be effected by no arbitrary means or interference with
the individuality or free choice of the soul, but by the
moral power of the Father's all-conquering love.
Such are outlines of Mr. Ballou's theory as regards
future punishment. In his many discussions of the
topic there are certain crude phrases which may bear
a contrary construction on some points ; but this, after
a careful reading of all his writings which bear an the
theme, seems to us fairly to outline his thought. " No
man," he says, " can love heaven, or desire to be in it,
any further than he loves righteousness." We inter-
pret him as meaning to teach the same ethical theory
as Tennyson : —
" The wages of sin is death ; if the wages of Virtue be dust,
Would she have heart to endure for the life of the worm and the fly ?
"She desires no isles of the blest, no quiet seats of the just,
To rest in a golden grove, or to bask in a summer sky ;
Give her the wages of going on, and not to die."
Important are Mr. Ballou's own words as interpret-
ing his understanding of the ethical nature of his
doctrine : —
^T 46-47.1 A DISCUSSION AND ITS SEQUENCES. . 153
" The Universalist who believes that this mortal state, in
flesh and blood, is the only state of sin and misery, stands on
the same principle as does his brother who believes there may
be a futare state of discipline, which will eventuate in bring-
ing all sinners to a state of holiness and happiness. Neither
difference respecting the timB when the creature is to be made
happy, nor the particular means by which this event is to be
brought about, makes the least difference in principle. Two
brothers, sons of the same father, may perfectly agree in their
sentiments respecting their parent. They both believe he Will
not fail to give them all the instruction they need, that his
discipline over them is designed for their benefit ; and yet
they may entertain different views respecting time and means.
One may think that they are to be kept at school till they
are eighteen, the other may be of the mind that they are to
be continued under tutors and governors a year longer ; yet
both believe that their father knows best, and will order their
concerns according to his own wisdom and goodness. He
who believes that all sufferings end with this mortal state, ^
and he who believes that they end at the expiration of any
other period, differ only as it respects time, not as it respects
principle ; for both believe that all discipline is for the good
of the punished."
IN LABORS MANY.
A MARVEL of Hosea Ballou's life is its small in-
debtedness for idle words and vacant hours.
From 1818 onward, for more than thirty-four years,
his figure was increasingly familiar on certain of the
Boston streets. Tall, erect, gracefully cloaked, wear-
ing a broad-brimmed silk hat, his eyes fixed on the
ground, an air of abstraction about him, a look of
intense thought in his face, and his lips moving in
articulation of inaudible words, — he was pointed out *
to the unfamiliar beholder as he passed ; and when
once thus seen he was not soon forgotten. Some
who met him, especially thoughtful boys, regarded
him with an almost superstitious awe ; he seemed
conversing with invisible companions. A greeting by
a neighbor or parishioner, however, or the sight of a
child (children felt no shyness in his presence) would
bring him to consciousness of the passing moment;
a smile of recognition and the light of friendliness
would come quickly into his face.
Such preoccupation was incident to the ardent
mental state in which he lived.
He preached three discourses on Sunday (three
being the rule) without manuscript, but not without
abundant preparation. Such specimens of these ser-
mons as have been preserved exhibit painstaking in
IN LABORS MANY. 155
every part. In strong grip of the main thoughts ; in
regard for proportion ; in ease, simplicity, and fulness
of expression ; in illustrations which illustrate ; in
such mastery of the central theme as enables the
preacher at moments to treat it with a playful yet
dignified familiarity, — in such qualities as these,
which enter into the effective popular sermon, his
discourses are far above the ordinary. No student
will doubt that every one of these discourses must
have been the result of severe brain-work. He was
gifted by Nature with rare facility in speech ; but he
did not abuse his gift. As often as he spoke he took
good care to have something worth the saying. His
heart was equally alive with his brain. Not one of
these sermons but is impact with emotion. Had his
life-aim been simply achievement of dialectic skill in
artistic sermon-making, his success would have been
evidence of an exceptional industry.
To his work as a preacher he early added the cares
of editorship. He had always something of Luther's
sagacious faith in printer's types as missionaries.
From his coming to Boston he had aided Mr. Henry
Bowen in the weekly publication of one of his ser-
mons. This had been, owing to Mr. Ballou's popu-
larity, of pecuniary profit to both publisher and author.
After this order of things had been continued more
than a year, Mr. Bowen conceived the project of turn-
ing a small struggling quarto sheet he was publishing,
entitled the " Weekly Magazine and Ladies' Miscel-
lany," into a Universalist newspaper. In pursuance
of this project, on July 3, 1819, the first number of
the "Universalist Magazine" appeared, "devoted to
doctrine, religion, and morality," and " edited by the
156 HOSEA BALLOU.
Rev. Hosea Ballou." This was the first Universalist
newspaper published in America ; it could have had
no predecessor in the world. Its only precursor as a
stated Universalist publication was the " Gospel Visi-
tant," which from June, 1811, during two years, was
issued once in three months iu Salem, then was sus-
pended for five years; was revived in April, 1817,
and continued till July, 1818, and was then finally sus-
pended for want of remunerative patronage. Thirty-
seven years after the first " Magazine " was issued. Rev.
Thomas Whittemore, then the editor of the " Trum-
pet," which was a successor of the " Magazine," had
the diminutive sheet before him. With his practical
turn for facts, he measured the little four-page sheet,
to find it " just twelve inches by nine and a half." He
gave his reader various side-reminders of the news-
paporial progress made in his day. For a less price
than was asked for the " Magazine," his readers could
have the privilege of reading the " Trumpet." The
editorship of such a small journal as the " Magazine,"
however, before journalism had become a profession,
was attended with ianxiety, and was fulfilled only by
persistent painstaking. In the editor's initial arti-
cle he said : " If any are oppressed with sorrow that
right views on the subject of religion would heal, they
are invited to make known their sorrows through the
medium of this sheet." What a family aflFair a re-
ligious newspaper was in those days ! He also in his
first editorial invited " members of different sects of
Christians to present in this sheet their views, clothed
in their most simple light and shining in their purest
lustre." This sentence is the only " fine-writing " we
discover in the editorial department of this first news-
IN LABORS MANY. 157
paper ; it is curious it should itself be an invitation
to aspiring fine-writers, who have since been an Egyp-
tian plague to editors. B^t even on such a hospitable
basis it was not easy to fill the little sheet with origi-
nal matter. In our day the editorial problem is what
to omit ; then it was how to fill the meagre space.
The editor's pen was of course in large requisition.
The editor endeavored heroically to make a readable
paper. There can be no question about his success.
It reveals his own interpretation of his editorship, to
find him confessing years afterward, in regard to
his poor rhymes, that he wrote them to give variety
to his newspaper. He must surely be accorded the
credit of making a very valiant endeavor in his edit-
ing. We accord to Horace Greeley lasting renown
as the founder of the "New York Tribune." The
memory of Hosea Ballon has a somewhat similar
claim on his successors, as the founder of the "Univer-
salist Magazine." The " Magazine " became the " Trum-
pet ; " the " Trumpet " became the " Universalist ; "
the " tJniversalist " became the existing " Christian
He remained sole editor of the "Magazine" two
years. The paper was then for a year under imper-
sonal editorship; at this period the Restorationist
controversy became conspicuous in its columns. Dur-
ing this controversy we may be sure Mr. Ballon did
not remain a silent spectator. In 1822 Mr. Ballou
became again the chief editor, with Rev. Hosea 2d
and Rev. Thomas Whittemore as assistants. From
this time till his death Mr. Ballou was either editor,
assistant editor, or contributor to the " Magazine " or
its successor the "Trumpet." When Thomas Whit-
158 HOSEA BALLOU.
teraore entered the newspaper field, it was in the
nature of things that he should soon be accorded the
In July, 1830, the first number of the " Universalist
Expositor " appeared, published in Boston by Marsh,
Capen, & Lyon, 362 Washington St., and edited by
Hosea Ballou and Hosea Ballon 2d. This publica-
tion, issued once in two months, was designed as the
repository of labored essays and systematic disquisi-
tions on doctrines, critical exegesis, and reviews of
books of special interest to Universalists. It was in-
tended to foster the spirit of inquiry and research
among the Universalist clergymen and educated lay-
men, by bringing them into mutual intellectual ac-
quaintance. Two years the publication was continued
under the firm which originally issued it ; then, the
patronage not being deemed sufiicient, it was sus-
pended. On the following January, 1833, it was
revived under the supervision of H. Ballou 2d, T.
Whittemore, G. W. Bazin, and Wait & Dow. Mr.
Ballou remained a contributor. This magazine is the
predecessor of the "Universalist Quarterly." Mr.
Ballou did not fail to do his full share of this more
elaborate editorial work. His younger namesake,
HoseU 2d, — Dr. Ballou, as he was in due time distin
guished, — was, it must be conceded, without a peer
among his brethren for scholarly attainnients ; his
contributions to the "Expositor," and afterward to
the "Quarterly " (of which he was editor), are not sur-
passed in Universalist literature, scarcely in any re-
ligious literature, for critical insight, grace of style,
and spiritual wisdom. Yet the senior Ballou's more
scholarly writings, as preserved to us in these vol-
IN LABORS MANY. ^ 159
umes, are not unworthy the company in which we find
them. Ruggedness, directness, common-sense, free-
dom, are their literary characteristics. He especially
exhibits mastery, we may say even genius, as a bib-
lical expositor. His culture did not, like that of his
younger namesake, enable him freely to roam in va-
rious literatures and philosophies; but it was full,
exact, luminous in the English text of the Scriptures.
His articles — we recall particularly his " Criteria of
True and False Preaching," his " Doctrine of Endless
Punishment the Cause of Persecution," his "Ortho-
doxy Inimical to the Scriptures," his " Scripture Doc-
trine of Punishment" — exhibit a wonderful ability
in implicitly following the lead of his adopted princi-
ple. In this respect we question whether Jonathan
Edwards was his superior. He was as logical a be-
liever in God's fatherhood as Edwards was in God's
malignity. Ballou's peculiar genius as a theologian is
seen in his evolution of underlying biblical principles'.
Not yet do we by any means compass the measure
of his labors. His preaching in his own pulpit and
his editorial writing may well have taxed his power
of endurance. But he was in addition the sponta-
neously-recognized, therefore divinely-commissioned
bishop of the general Universalist Church. His com-
mission was in his natural dower and his achieved
graces. His paternal regard for the local churches,
his unmatched awakening power in speech, invited
innumerable labors of love. To an extent which
causes us to wonder, he fulfilled the duties of his
democratic and Christian bishopric. In his eai'lier
days the novelty of Universalist ordinations, installa-
tions, and church dedications made such services at-
160 HOSEA BALLOU.
tractive to the multitude. It was for years regarded
an important incidental reward of Universalist en-
deavor in many a struggling parish, that Mr. Ballou
would be , willingly present to assist in dedicating the
new church or consecrating the new minister. In an
incomplete list we count thirty-one ordination ser-
mons, thirty-four installation sermons, preached by
him, and thirty-one services of church dedication in
which he fulfilled leading assignments.
He also continued his preaching tours in the coun-
try-towns. Leaving an acceptable clergyman to preach
to his people in Boston, he would answer the requests
which came to him from a distance, and go forth as a
missionary of a world-wide gospel. In such labor he
exerted an influence beyond our power of measure-
ment. At home, his average sermon was thirtj^-five
minutes in length ; in the country-places, alike on
Sundays and week-day evenings, he preached, to
answer the urgent demand, from one hour to two
hours. His convincing force in argument, his per-
suasive power in appeal, were eflFective in the conver-
sion of multitudes to his standard. It is a question
whether any preacher before him in America was
instrumental in a larger number of conversions by
the agency of speech than he effected in his zealous
and mighty ministry.
In the winter of 1821-22 he made an extended visit
to the cities of New York and Philadelphia. In the
latter city he preached the famous " Eleven Sermons,"
which, after being stenographically reported, were pub-
lished as a book. The last sermon of this series, " A
Feast of Knowledge," he preached in the room of the
Washington Benevolent Society, known as the Grand
IN LABORS MANY. 161
Saloon ; his congregations on the preceding evenings
having uncomfortably crowded the church. His con-
gregation on this occasion numbered fully seven thou-
sand people. It testifies to his ample physical reserve,
that during his long sermon he was easily heard in the
remote corners of the immense hall. For more than an
hour he held the vast throng in a high state of rap-
ture. This visit to the southward seaboard cities was
in after years many times repeated. Several published
volumes of sermons is one of the results. He was at
different times urgently invited to remove permanently
to New York. Inducement of pecuniary gain was held
out to him. He could not, however, be persuaded to
leave Boston. He compromised with the solicitous
New York brethren by promising to make them a
"professional visit" as often as was in his power.
We must also recall that during all these busy years
he was in constant attendance on the annual Conven-
tions, both State and General. This sometimes re-
quired a chaise-journey of weeks. For many years
a Convention was regarded as sadly incomplete if he
was not present to preach one of the sermons, — the
sermon of the occasion, whoever might be the other
preachers. And not more did his brethren esteem
the privilege of seeing his notable presence, and hear-
ing his wise and cheery words, than he esteemed the
privilege of greeting those of like precious faith, and
counselling them as to the interests of the common
He was, by natural fitness, undoubted integrity,
fidelity to his convictions, kindling zeal, the peerless
bishop; and he magnified his bishopric more in its
duties than in its honors. " We doubt," says Rev.
162 HOSEA BALLOU.
Otis A. Skinner, " whether in all the history of the
Church, another instance can be found in which a
minister has had so high rank in his sect, and mani-
fested less desire to rule."
His son Maturin computes that his printed words,
not including his newspaper contributions, if gathered,
would make a series of one hundred volumes, each of
four hundred duodecimo pages. He also estimates
that during his ministry he preached, including his
week-day evening discourses, not less than ten thou-
sand sermons. These estimates must be approxi-
And meanwhile, we recall, he was not forgetful of
his work in the specific parish relation. Of his ordi-
nary pastoral attentions to persons in health we have
only meagre reports. His employments were too
absorbing to admit of a large degree of this social
work. But as a pastor where the need was real, as
a messenger of sympathy and helpfulness to those in
sickness or bereavement, the reports are numerous.
He always brought some beams of the dayspring from
on high to those he visited under the shadow of death.
He knew how to adapt his gospel to the actual need.
There were times when he knew deeds would preach
more of the Savior's gospel than any possible rheto-
ric. Dr. Whittemore gives an illustrative instance.
Mr. Ballou was sent for to visit a sick man whose
wife was a Baptist. She, seeing her husband in dan-
ger, sent for her minister, who came and prayed that
the sufferer might be saved from the second death.
The prayer did not avail for his comfort. He asked
to see Mr. Ballou. The wife resisted ; but the request
for Mr. Ballou was repeated so urgently that she at
IN LABORS MANY. 163
last consented that he should be called. In a few
hours he was by the side of the sick man ; the wife
at once left the room. He looked about and saw
signs of destitution. He sat down and said : " Well,
my friend, you are quite sick, and I am sorry to see
you so low. Sometimes the sick suffer by not permit-
ting themselves to make their wants known." The
feeble man was constrained to say that the trouble in
his mind was partly occasioned by an indebtedness of
seventeen dollars to their landlord. " Well," said Mr.
Ballon, *' he will probably not harm you ; do you not
feel the need of any little matters of food that might
strengthen you and do you good ? " Mr. Ballon took
a ten-dollar bill from his purse. " I thought you
would need something," he said ; " I have heard of
your case from others. Take this, and let your wife
purchase for you such nourishing delicacies as you
need. Don't pay your rent with it ; it is not enough
for that, and the money is for your own private use ;
the rent we will talk about another time. Now,
brother," continued Mr. Ballon, " we trust your case
is not hopeless ; you are indeed very sick, but possibly
you may recover, with the blessing of God and the help
of good nursing. Cast all your care upon the Lord.
He is our Shepherd ; he will not permit us to suffer
more than is for our good ; and though we walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, we should
fear no evil, for he is with us, his rod and his staff will
comfort us." The sick man, quickened by a new
hope, confessed that while he had not been wilfully
perverse, he had been too unmindful of the blessings
God had given him. "I have a dear son absent at
sea," he said ; "pray for us and for him, that he may
164 HOSEA BALLOU.
return ; then all will be well." Mr. Ballon offered
prayer, commending the sick man, then his wife, and
the absent son, to the kind care of God. The sufferer's
"Amen" was expressed in audible sobbing, bringing
relief to his pent heart. " I am unwilling to leave you
alone," said Mr. Ballon, when about to retire. The
sufferer intimated that his wife would return as soon
as she heard him go downstairs ; and thus he left.
The sequel is not unnatural. The wife, on the recov-
ery of her husband, had such a change come over
her spirit, that she became a member of Mr. Ballou's
church, and held him in fervent respect as long as
she lived. And by her this story, so illustrative of
the nature of Mr. Ballou's pastoral care, was given
So do we find him " redeeming the time." His
genius as a theologian, his great success as a preacher,
resulted from exceptional painstaking in private study.
If he had worried or fretted under his burden he would
have fallen midway in life. As it was, indeed, he for
a period when near the age of fifty found himself
overstrained and dispirited ; for hours, during this
period, he would sit despondent, and surrender him-
self to gloomy forebodings. But this lapse of his
splendid physical powers was only temporary. With
some lightening of his labors, and rest, and sensi-
ble medical treatment, and especially help at home,
he recovered his buoyant health. He had the rare
fortune of entire mental as well as physical adap-
tation to his high life-calling. His heart was in his
work : —
"And the heart
Giveth grace to every art.**
IN LABORS MANY. 165
His toil was his recreation. No maiiyr ever more
completely devoted his life to his cause than did Mr.
Ballon. He made his sacrifice, not in one supreme
moment, but day by day, hour by hour. He could
proffer no greater gift to his cause than his life : this
he gave without reserve, and found his reward in
his free gift.
Fbbiod, 1790-1862; ob, Dubino his Ministbt.
IF Hosea Ballou's career had been cast in a differ-
ent age, and the trial of -his faith brought to a
mortal crisis, would he have endured the test ? If he
had, for instance, lived in the period of which Euse-
bius of Caesarea gives account, when it was the fashion
to test Christian faith in a battle with wild beasts, or
in the period of which Fox gives account, when a live
Christian was often honored with the san-benito and
autchda-fS^ would he have won a crown of life by
being faithful unto death ?
His lot was cast in a period when Christians were
becoming sceptical of torture as a means of Christian
persuasion. He was not, therefore, proffered a mar-
tyr's visible crown. He was privileged to give his
life to his faith, hour by hour, day by day, year by
year ; but not as a single gift, in mortal martyrdom.
If the supreme trial had come to him, however,
we believe it would not have found him unprepared.
There was in him the stuff of which martyrs are
made. He was always sane ; no wildness or fanati-
cism characterized his zeal. He was not one need-
lessly to covet martyrdom. He had no desire to
personally experience burning fagots, pronged wheels,
a Procrustean bed, or a dark dungeon. He would, we
IN TRIALS. 167
are sure, have tried his best to have a question in
dispute decided by more judicious methods. Yet in
intensity and completeness of conviction, as regards
the central points of faith, he was peer of the heroic
believers of any age. If his request for fair judg-
ment, therefore, had been disregarded, — as by the
old inquisitors it would have been, — if it had been
left him to choose whether he would profess faith
in a future burning for the children of God, or have
knowledge of how a blistering flame feels in the flesh,
we believe it would have been easy for him to achieve
a martyr's crown.
It is at least a fact that in every trial which act-
ually came to him he was found faithful. In not
a single instance did he show want of nerve, or fall
short of complete mastery of the occasion. His
dangers, indeed, were not hazards of his life : he was
tried rather in his courage, patience, and good-will.
It is a question whether any man before him in
America was so much a target for bigotry. We say
this after carefully considering what has been said in
regard to Thomas Paine, not overlooking how obnox-
ious the author of the " Age of Reason " was to the
so-called orthodox churches. But Paine was coarse
and crude ; he was neither aggressive nor persistent
in his negations. Popular Orthodoxy could afford
to ignore him. It was not so as regards Mr. Ballon.
He was active, positive, and persistent against estab-
lished Calvinism. His gospel of winning love made
irresistible headway in displacing the popular fear.
He caused widespread disturbance among the sedate
believers in the prevailing Satanism. They could not
ignore him if they would. It was not easy or con-
168 ROSEA BALLOU. [1790-1852.
sistent for them even to tolerate him. They no doubt
honestly thought him engaged in decoying souls to the
fiery lake they had been religiously taught to fear.
Why should they, from their view-point, not give him
a foretaste of his own doom? What, indeed, was
Torquemada's fault, save that he tried to be perfect
as the Orthodox God is perfect ? Why should mortal
man be more just than God ?
How did it happen, then, that Mr. Ballou escaped
actual torture at tlie stake ? Surely the logic of the
popular creed of his day made slow burning for mis-
belief a comparative mercy. How, then, did he escape
martyrdom ? It must be that even before his day
professors of the mediaeval Satanism had begun to be
better than their creed.
Yet he did not escape the trials of persistent detrac-
tion, scornful opposition, and merciless defamation.
How he bore himself in these trials, with what ability,
dignity, patience, good-nature, and equanimity, we will
show in some examples.
In 1799 the General Convention of Universalists
met at Woodstock, Vermont. At that time the name
of this body was more imposing than the body itself.
There were but three preachers present, — Revs. Wil-
liam Farwell, Walter Ferris, and Hosea Ballou. The
people, however, came in multitudes to hear these her-
alds of hope. The resident Universalists had applied
for the use of the county court-house. As it was cus-
tomary for the civil authorities to grant such requests,
permission was not withheld in this case. But there
arose an unexpected obstacle. The sheriff of the
county, Rice by name, did not wish the court-house
polluted by Universalism. He declared it must not,
IN TRIALS. 169
should not be. He was a man of local importance ;
in his own esteem he was a great man. He deter-
mined to be bold in the cause of his Lord. As the
door of the building had been opened, and it was not
in his power to close it, he determined to guard it
from desecration, if need be, with his life. He de-
clared no one, save by his permission, should enter
that door. He stood on the stoop with a drawn sword
in his band. Fearful to behold! The time of the
appointed meeting arrived. The procession of min-
isters, Hosea Ballon — although youngest — at the
head, approached. There stood the valiant, bold-faced
sheriff, flourishing his broad-bladed weapon. What
was to be done? Was it prudent to hazard blood-
shed? There was a brief consultation — a council of
war, so to speak — among the perilled ministers. The
decision was in favor of a forward movement. The
procession marched. When the door was reached, Mr.
Ballou, with the easy, courtly dignity with which his
presence was at times instinct, said to the sheriff, in
the language of Scripture, " Peter, put up thy sword
into his place." Whether the sheriff was startled at
being called ''Peter" (as the irate fishwoman was
subdued when Dr. Samuel Johnson said, "Madam,
you are a phenomenon^^^ ; or whether there was some-
thing not to his liking in the resolute eye of the
preacher who so strangely called him by a name other
than his own, or whether he concluded it not to be
strategic to hazard a battle at that time and place, are
points not made clear in the authenticated tradition.
But the unquestioned and central fact in the tradi-
tion is that the sheriff instantly surrendered. He
wilted, became starchless, looked demure as a lamb.
170 HOSEA BALLOU. [1790-1862.
Nathaniel Stacy, who was present, an open-eyed boy,
records that the bold sheriff retreated to his home
hanging his head. No further molestation was of-
fered. The people, we may be sure, were captivated
by a man who could, like Ethan Allen at Ticonderoga,
make a verbal request equivalent to an irresistible
assault. The hero of this story, it is needless to say,
is not the sheriff.
A similar exhibition of personal courage we find in
Mr. Ballou's experience in Atkinson, New Hampshire.
During his ministry in Portsmouth he preached one
Sunday in Atkinson, and some then heard his testi-
mony with faith. In 1819 the town at its annual
meeting voted that its meeting-house should be occu-
pied impartially by the different denominations of
Christians. A committee was appointed justly to
apportion the Sundays to each. The Universalists
preferred their claim, and it was allowed. On the
first Sunday assigned to them, the last of May in that
year, they invited Mr. Ballon to preach. He accepted
the invitation. Then a breeze of religious indignation
arose. Universalists allowed in a church made holy
by Congregationalist possession ! When even a Bap-
tist preacher in New Hampshire, about that time, had
preached one Sunday in a school-house, the autocratic
Congregationalists would not enter the school-house
afterward until they had publicly cleansed it with
smoke. If they were thus scornful toward Baptists,
we may infer what must be their feelings toward Uni-
versalists. The breeze of indignation increased to a
gale. A committee of the Congregationalist Society,
on the 25th of May, five days before the appointed
Universalist meeting, addressed a letter to Mr. Ballou
IN TRIALS. 171
at Boston, in which their case is very emphatically
stated. He is warned not to come to Atkinson. Tlie
Congregationalists have had possession of the church
nearly fifty years. They propose to maintain their
right to continued possession. They have met and
voted " that it is the duty of this society to meet as
usual at the meeting-house for public worship on the
Sabbath ; that whatever person or persons shall dis-
turb or molest this society in its public worship on the
Sabbath, shall be considered and dealt with as dis-
turbers of the peace and of the public worship of
God." What will Mr. Ballou think of the prospect ?
Here is an opportunity to test the comfort of a New
Hampshire jail as a peace-breaker and disturber of
public worship ! The letter of the committee kindly
concludes by saying, " Should any unpleasant conse-
quences result to you or your friends here from your
leaving your people in Boston and coming here to
preach in this meeting- house, you will have the candor
to acknowledge you were apprized of the existing dif-
ficulties previous to your coming." The problem was
still further complicated by the dying of the venerable
Congregationalist clergyman of Atkinson, Rev. Ste-
phen Peabody ; his funeral was held in the church on
the Thursday previous to the Sunday on which Mr.
Ballou was to preach. Mr. Ballou, on receiving the
letter, resolved to go to Atkinson at once, and judge
of his duty by a direct knowledge of all the circum-
stances. By his advice the statement was made to
the senior deacon of the pastorless Congregationalist
Society that the Universalists would waive their right
to the meeting-house on the next Sunday, on condition
that they should have the use of the academy building,
172 HOSEA BALLOU. [1790-1862.
of which the aforesaid deacon had control The reply
was defiant : " We are as willing you should occupy
the meeting-house on the next Sunday as on any Sun-
day in the year ; we do not mean you shall occupy it
at all." It was no longer a question of courtesy : a
right must be maintained ! The gale in the town had
now become a tornado. Mr. Ballou decided to preach
in the church. A citizen favoring his claim held the
key to the building, and would not surrender it to the
opposite party. On Saturday afternoon the meeting-
house was broken into by the Orthodox braves, and
the doors and windows flung wide open. A watch
was accordingly set in the church by the Universalist
party on Saturday night. Early on Sunday morning
a company approached to capture the church, but
finding it guarded, retired. On Sunday, at the usual
time of worship, the church on being opened was
immediately thronged. Mr. Ballou entered the pul-
pit, and proceeded, in beginning his services, to read
from the Scriptures. Meanwhile the Congregation-
alists had organized, and under lead of Rev. Isaac
Brown, the oldest minister of the Congregationalist
Association, came in and marched to the front. Mr.
Brown ascended the pulpit-stairs, and stood at the
pulpit-door in waiting till Mr. Ballou had finished
reading the Scriptures. Then he asked, as if not
quite believing his eyes, "Do you expect to render
divine service here to-day?" Mr. Ballou, without
hinting that his acts spoke of themselves, mildly re-
plied, " I do, sir." " By what authority ?" asked Mr.
Brown. Mr. Ballou had the orator's faculty of being
emphatic without being loud, and dignified without
loss of courtesy. There was emphatic yet courteous
IN TRIALS. 173
dignity in his reply : " I have my authority, sir, from
the selectmen of Atkinson." This blusterless re-
mark had an astonishing effect. It meant that the
heretic was for once under the protection of civil law.
In America, that protection is not slight. An assault
of the preacher would be an assault on the selectmen :
to assault the selectmen would be to aim a blow at the
State. There was a hurried consultation among the
Congregationalist braves ; then they quietly withdrew,
to hold their services in the academy. Mr. Ballon
preached without molestation morning, afternoon, and
evening. The threat was made, however, that he
would be arrested early Monday morning. Mr. Ballou
remained in Atkinson during nearly the whole of Mon-
day, that the officers might have no needless trouble in
securing their prisoner ; but the officers did not appear.
Having gained two points, — secured the Universalists
of Atkinson in their legal church claim, which was not
afterward withheld, and demonstrated his entire will-
ingness to be a fellow-prisoner with Bunyan, Silas,
and Paul, — he returned to his home in Boston. He
had exhibited an intrepidity which had commanded
the respect of even his opponents.
Dean Stanley narrates a mediaeval legend which,
he affirms, has some foundation in fact; the story
being that a pope was once arrested for heresy and
condemned to be burned, but for his legal execution it
was necessary he should, as pope, sign his own death-
warrant. He kindly consented to do so, and for this
act of self-denial he was canonized. If such a pope
ever existed, he was a more admirable successor of
Saint Peter than we always find occupying the papal
see. We are prompted to suggest that Mr. Ballou
174 HOSEA BALLOU. [1790-1852.
was somewhat like-minded to this apocryphal pope.
Both had a kindly, accommodating disposition toward
those who wished to confer on them the honors of
Perhaps as great a trial of his power to control his
laughter as ever came to him was atT Wrentham,
Massachusetts. The few Universalists in the town
in 1820, unable to secure a meeting-house or even
school-house, were obliged to hold their services in
the hall at the Mann Tavern. Rev. Mr. Fisk, the
pastor of the Congregationalist church in the town,
was greatly disturbed by Mr. Ballon coming into his
parish. He consulted a shrewd physician, Dr. Samuel
Bugbee, as to the propriety of his meeting the new
preacher face to face, and exposing his error. Dr.
Bugbee had heard Mr. Ballon preach, and he tried to
dissuade his friend from such a venture. But he was
not to be dissuaded. He attended Mr. Ballou's ser-
vices ; and when, after the sermon, liberty was given to
any one to offer remarks, Mr. Fisk was immediately on
his feet. " In the first place," he said, " the speaker
of this evening is to be blamed for leaving his own
church and coming into this town and preaching his
pernicious doctrine." "Would you," interposed Mr.
Ballon, " decline a respectable invitation to preach in
Boston?" " Oh," exclaimed Mr. Fisk, " if the sainted
Messenger and Mann and Bean, former pastors of this
parish, should look down from the blissful abodes and
see what is going on here to-night, it would fill their
souls with sorrow." " Do you," interjected Mr. Bal-
lon, " think there is sorrow in heaven ? " Mr. Fisk
was perplexed. He was more than perplexed, he
was nauseated. The scent of heresy may have
IN TRIALS. 175
had a tendency to turn his stomach. Some sur-
mised, however, a less aesthetic cause of his sudden
illness. He was what some Americans would call a
" powerful " tobacco-chewer. He had masticated in
unconscious vigor during Mr. Ballou's sermon. Cus-
padores were not then in fashion, — at least there
was none within convenient reach of this valiant sol-
dier of the cross. As a natural if not logical result,
when he attempted to answer Mr. Ballou's question he
was overpowered by his emotions. He was observed
by the sympathetic crowd to look longingly toward an
open window. A way was cleared for him, which he
traversed in haste. While his head was protruded
from the window the congregation waited. It would
be inexact to say a breathless silence was meanwhile
maintained. In due time the distressed minister was
relieved, and went back to his place and resumed his
speech. He proceeded to quote the stock passages of
Scripture in an attempt to prove the doctrine of end-
less punishment. He felt evident exhilaration in his
own speech ; perliaps also his sudden recovery from
sickness was pleasing to him. At the imagined suc-
cess of his argument, he very perceptibly smiled his
satisfaction. Mr. Ballon, in reply, gave rapid expla-
nations of the Scriptural citations which were as
familiar to him as the alphabet, and in conclusion
mentioned the strangeness of his friend showing
gratification in trying to prove the dreadful doctrine
of endless woe for his fellow- men. " When our Lord,"
said he, " anticipated even temporal sufferings for the
inhabitants of Jerusalem, he wept over the city ; what
should we think of him if we had seen him, because he
thought a far greater punishment was certain for his
176 HOSEA BALLOU. [1790-1852.
people, laugh with satisfaction ? '' Mr. Fisk came once
more to his feet ; but before he could fairly begin his
remarks he again had recourse to the window. He
had enjoyed his own turn at laughing ; the audience
was now privileged once more with its turn. Poor
man ! A modern Orthodox lecturer declares if he had
a dog that chewed tobacco he would shoot the dog. It
is evident his brother-clergyman did not need to be
shot in order to feel, to say the least, the inconvenience
of his habit. When he finally got himself in speaking
order, he made a humble and ample apology, not for
his habit which a dog would spurn, but for not main-
taining due solemnity when speaking on the awful
subject of endless misery. There is no record of Mr.
Ballou's indulging even in a smile during this pro-
tracted appeal to his sense of the ludicrous. One
practical result of this discussion was the conversion
of Dr. Bugbee to the Universalist cause ; of which
he remained during his life an earnest and effective
Mr. Ballou's whole ministry, especially in its itin-
erant department, was filled with trials. Whenever
he preached in a new locality he expected spiteful
opposition. To defame him was a religious fashion.
Jacob Knapp, the gross revivalist, told in dramatic
form the preposterous story that Mr. Ballon publicly
confessed guilt of drunkenness, profanity, and Sab-
bath desecration. Such false evil-speaking against the
champion of the gospel of hope naturally caused those
who knew him to gather more closely and affection-
ately about him. He was under necessity of keeping
his armor whole and his sword of the spirit ready for
use. At Mattapoisett, tlie resident pastor, Rev. Lemuel
IN TRIALS. 177
Le Baron, at the church door forbade his entering the
church. " You have," he said, " the legal right to do
so, by human law ; but you have no moral right to
preach a doctrine subversive of Christianity." Never-
theless, Mr. Ballou entered the church and preached.
In Canton, Massachusetts, after he had discoursed on
the Scriptural declaration, " God will have all men to
be saved, and to come unto a knowledge of the truth,"
Rev. Mr. Tinkham, a Methodist clergyman, at the close
of the sermon requested permission to say that while
God originally willed to save all, man by his trans-
gression had defeated God's will ; it was now God's
will that the impenitent should suffer forever. . " Our
brother," replied Mr. Ballou, " thinks the will of God
has been defeated ; if God's will to save his children
cannot be done, how can we say his will to damn his
children can be done ? " The turn was so adroitly
made, that the audience rose as one person and burst
Mr. Ballou was not, as far as we have learned, in a
single instance placed in discomfiture. When, through
temporary failures, like the eaglet practising its wings,
he had once gained self-mastery in speech, he was in
every known instance master of the situation. Not only
could he commend his faith in sustained reasoning ;
he could, when need was, flash light on an intricate
point in an unpremeditated sentence.
We are constrained to say, however, that these
trials, born of expected external opposition, were
not his hardest trials. Paul's severest experiences
were not perils of land or sea, nor opposition of
Gentiles and Jews; but those which were brought
upon him by his false brethren. Mr. Ballou's hardest
178 HOSEA BALLOU. [1790-1862.
trials came to him not from Calvinistic hatred, but
from the injustice and unfraternity of those he loved
as brothers. He knew the backbiter's sting. During
his lifetime he bore his hurts in silence. We believe
we fulfil his wish in not definitely recalling these
things from fast-coming oblivion. He bequeathed to
his family a package of papers, sealed by his own
hand, bearing an inscription of this purport : " Never
to be opened unless my character needs vindication."
We have been kindly asked if in our search for facts
from which to evolve his life-story we have come to any
question to justify the opening of that package. But
of his integrity there never could have been a reason-
able question. Of his magnanimity even when he was
touched to the quick there remains no tenable sus-
picion. While we have our human curiosity in regard
to every fact pertaining to his life, we deem it best
that the package remain unopened. We respect his
wish. Its unbroken seal means merciful forgetfulness
of the human failings of some of his contemporary
brethren. Their wrongs brought to themselves the
inevitable fruitage. We know enough confidently to
affirm it to be honorable alike to Hosea Ballou's
memory and to human nature, that more than an
average generation has passed away since his hands
fixed the seal on that package, and no occasion has
arisen to break the seal to this day.
Not all real martyrdoms are visible. There are
heroes without worldly triumphs, and victors without
laurel crowns. The spirit knoweth its own bitter-
ness, and the Eternal knows what may be gained in
silent endurance and quiet self-abnegation.
THE aggregate of Mr. Ballou's lightsome qualities
— his quiet humor, susceptibility to the comical,
bis power of repartee, and abounding common-sense
— we label his mother-wit.
The phrase itself, however, suggests a pathetic pro-
test. He was not what is ordinarily called a mother's
boy. His mother was drooping when he was born,
and died when he was but two years old. In her
final years she was overburdened and sad of heart.
According to the commonly-accepted surmises as to
heredity, we can scarcely believe that she dowered her
last-born with his buoyant nature. We must believe
that he received from her his transparent sincerity,
and his quick and fathomless human sympathy ; for
we behold him in his profounder traits both womanly
He was, we are wont to think, peculiarly his father's
boy. We remember of his father that he religiously
endeavored to be sad. He believed this deity-shad-
owed world no place for laughter. Yet he could not,
we remember, altogether repress the true divine ten-
dency in his own nature toward good-humor and glad-
ness. When he by a sudden natural impulse told his
boys an amusing anecdote, the laughter was followed
by a deep sigh; for his theology taught him that a
180 HOSEA BALLOU.
single moment of merriment in this lost world is sin-
ful. Is it not a justifiable surmise that the father's
repressed nature asserted its inalienable rights in his
youngest son ? We must regret that the father shut
out of his own heart the light of his own natural wit
and humor ; but what he would not concede to him-
self he could not, under the laws of heredity, withhold
from his youngest son, who emerged from the dark-
ness of religious dread into the light of a great hope.
The saying is therefore less Hibernian than it
seems, — Hosea Ballou inherited his mother-wit from
However it may be explained, the fact will not be
disputed that Mr. Ballou was a very humorous man.
He was also witty. Humor is a sustained sentiment ;
wit is a momentary inspiration. Wit scintillates ; hu-
mor glows. Chapin was the prince of wits. His wit
at times, to recall Beecher's apt simile, glistened like
the spokes of a revolving carriage-wheel in the sun.
Yet Chapin had but little humor ; his prevailing mood
was intensely serious. In Mr. Ballou, humor abounded.
He had prolonged enjoyment of the comical aspect of
things. Laughter, after it left his lips, lingered in
Mr. Ballou would not, in our view, be properly called
a brilliant wit. " I lived long," said Dr. Porson, " be-
fore I discovered that wit is truth." Mr. Ballou's wit
was better than brilliant ; it was natural. His state-
ment of simplest facts was often strangely enjoyable.
When in the humorous mood his manner, ingenuous,
childlike, very quiet, was itself amusing. His peculiar
manner is the proper setting of his peculiar wit. We
cannot recall any one reporting a humorous saying
from his lips, who did not endeavor to imitate his
quaint, appealing tone.
Without attempt at arrangement, or analysis, we
open our budget and offer its miscellaneous contents
in testimony of his lightsome traits.
In his old age he was one day starting in good
season for a journey. " Do not be in a hurry," was
persuasively said to him. " I do not want to be in a
hurry," he said, "so I will start now." The remark
was treasured for the wisdom of its wit.
In a company of ministers he was studying a pas-
sage of very florid rhetoric. "What can the man
mean ? " he asked, with a puzzled expression on his
face. A fluent brother volunteered a lengthy exposi-
tion, which was quite as obscure as the redundant pas-
sage itself. With a look of great simplicity Mr. Ballou
said, " Like as not, that is what he says." How could
it be more exquisitely suggested that the ambiguity of
the passage still remained ?
Dr. Paige remembered a remark he made when
commenting on the doctrine prevalent among some
religious people of his day ; namely, that no one can
be sure of his own salvation, and every one should
live in fear of being lost. The logic of the doctrine
was of course anxiety. " Yes," said Mr. Ballou, " they
would be scared to death if they were not afraid."
" In my boyhood," said an aged clergyman to us,
" I heard Mr. Ballou preach, and one remark he made
I have not forgotten. He had been advertised to an-
swer the attack of an opponent. He began the service
before a crowded audience in the School Street Church,
by reading the tenth chapter of Romans. When he
182 HOSEA BALLOU.
had read the second verse, — ^ For I bear them record
that they have a zeal of God, but not according to
knowledge,' — he paused, and said : * Paul must have
included my opponent in this very just observation ;
I bear him record that he is very zealous, but, as we
shall see, he doesn't icn iw much.'"
Mr. Ballou was extici.iv i . considerate of others, and
did not, save a good purpose was to be served, wound
by his words ; but at one time he felt justified in giv-
ing a proper rebuke to a country-woman with whom
he was tarrying as a guest. " Mr. Ballou," she said
at the dinner-table, where there were also two other
clergymen, " will you take a piece of this apple-pie ?
It is really so poor, — I had such miserable luck at
my last baking, — I am sure it is not fit to eat ; I am
ashamed to ask you to taste it." Mr. Ballou knew she
was inwardly priding herself on her superior cooking.
He said : " You must excuse me, madam. I am, I will
acknowledge, particularly fond of apple-pies; but to
attempt to eat of such a pie as this would, I fear,
prejudice me against all apple-pies hereafter." Her
chagrin at being taken at her word can be easily im-
agined, and was morally medicinal.
In the constant opposition he encountered, his readi-
ness of reply often served him a good turn. When
about to begin a service at Reading, Vermont, a Bap-
tist deacon approached him, declaring he wished to
ask him one question. " Are you the Mr. Ballou who
is to preach here this afternoon?" he asked. "I
am." "Well, although I understand you are in
a great hurry, I wish to ask what you think of the
case of a man who goes out of this world cursing
and swearing, and calling on God to damn his soul."
" Why deacon," said Mr. Ballou, " a profane swearer
is no doubt a very wicked man; do you think God
will answer the prayer of so wicked a man as that ? "
^'No, I am sure he will not." ''Well, deacon," he
said, "you have answered your own question;" and
he passed in to begin the service for which the people
" What would you do with a man who died reeking
in sin and crime ? " was asked of him. " I think," he
said, " it would be a good plan to bury him."
It was a theory of Rev. John Murray that the goats
and the sheep spoken of in the twenty-fifth chapter of
Matthew symbolically represent the human race and
the devils. The sheep, that is, mankind, through
their union with Christ, he contended, are to be saved
in the judgment day ; the goats, or devils, or fallen
angels, having no part in Christ's sacrifice, are to go
into remediless fire. When he proposed this inter-
pretation to Mr. Ballou, the latter said: "Father
Murray, those on the left hand, the goats, you will
observe, are accused of not having visited the sick.
Do you think it so desirable to have the devils visit
the sick, that they will be condemned to everlasting
fire for having neglected that duty ? " Mr. Murray,
it is said, walked hastily across the room and deeply
sighed, and the conversation closed.
Mr. Ballou at one time received a letter from an
anxious inquirer, who was troubled by a then current
report that Mr. Ballou, having been called to attend a
dying young man, went home and dreamed three times
in succession of seeing the young man in iell ; which,
as the rumor ran, so impressed him, that the next
Sunday he publicly renounced his universal hope.
184 HOSEA BALLOU.
The anxious inquirer, with palpitating heart, wrote to
learn if this story was correct. Mr. Ballon, as editor
of the " Magazine," replied in his own behalf. " As
Mr. Ballou," he said, " did not dream himself into the
doctrine of God's universal goodness and impartial sal-
vation of the human race, it is not at all likely he will
ever dream himself out of it ! "
While editor of the " Magazine " he received a let-
ter from a Presbyterian postmaster at Bradleysville,
South Carolina, in which an attempt was made to be
satirical. The letter was dated " Infernal Pit ; " it pro-
ceeded: "My Good Friend, — Continue as you have
done to disseminate your princely magazine, and be
assured you shall have one of the most exalted thrones
amongst us. Yours, with all the love of a fiend, Nick
Lucifer." Mr. Ballou printed this delectable compo-
sition, and made this characteristic comment: "We
have long been of opinion that it is not necessary to
go into the future world to find the infernal pit so
much talked of, and we are now furnished with a
demonstration of the correctness of our opinion. The
above letter came directly from that pit, where, it ap-
pears, there is a post-oflBce and a postmaster. We
have the satisfaction also to learn that the ' Univer-
salist Magazine ' does not please those who are in this
infernal pit, for the number we sent there was sent
back with the above letter ; but it was not scorched,
nor was the smell of fire or brimstone on it."
" There was one good thing in your sermon," said
Mr. Ballou, after he had for the first time heard
Thomas Whittemore preach, and was walking home-
ward from Roxbury with the young man. "What
was that ? " asked the young preacher, very eager for
any word of praise. " The text : that was excellent."
Mr. Whittemore afterward acknowledged that the im-
plied severe criticism was just ; it was uttered in good
will, and its effect on the forward young man was
Mr. Ballou was once more severe in needed criti-
cism. He had in early life a conceited neighbor who
occasionally preached among the Baptists. This neigh-
bor said one day, " Mr. Ballou, I am awfully tried with
myself." " What is the trouble with you now ? " " To
think I should ever try to preach and know so little ;
what do you think ?" " Well, I think if you knew a
little more, you 'd never try again."
When riding in Troy, New York, he passed a house
shut away from every agreeable outlook, and itself
seemingly built as a model of ungainliness and dis-
comfort. "The people who live there," he said,
" ought to enjoy life." " How can they," it was
asked, " in that place ? " " They ought to enjoy life,"
he said, " because they have nothing else to enjoy."
When the question was asked of him by a special
acquaintance, " How is your health ? " he was accus-
tomed to reply, " What health I have is very good."
When he was preaching before the Southern Asso-
ciation at Milford one afternoon, the sun shone through
an unblinded window directly in his face. His hear-
ers being slow to take a hint through their eyes, he
by a little detour in his sermon referred to God's im-
partial love as like the glorious sun, " which," he said,
" now nearly blinds me with its superabundant light."
There was on the part of several hearers an instan-
taneous movement toward the window, and a coat was
made to serve the purpose of a screen.
186 ROSEA BALLOU.
He once approached a company of ministers, when
one of them pleasantly said, " Father Ballou, we are
telling stories about you ; but they are all true ones."
'' When I had ugly stories told about me," he said, " I
used to say to ray wife that we need not care, because
they were not true ; but now it is time for me to look
out, if you are beginning to tell true stories about
At the Eastern railway-station in Boston he bought
a horn comb of a woman of poverty-stricken appear-
ance. After paying the price, he said, " Madam, per-
haps you have some use for this comb; if you will
accept of it you are welcome." " May all the saints
bless you," said the grateful woman ; " may the Holy
Mary, the mother of God, bless you." " Has God a
mother ? " he asked. " Sure he has ; are ye such a
heretic as not to know that ? " " Is she a good wo-
man?" "A good woman, is it? Hear the man!
The Holy Mother of God a good woman ! There is
none the likes of her, you poor heretic; she is the
best of all the women, bless her holy name." " I am
very glad to hear it," he said ; " I am very glad to
know God came of a good family."
He was capable of enjoying the discomfiture which
over-zealous people sometimes unwittingly brought on
themselves. From Nantucket, where he had preached,
he was, having been ferried across Vineyard Sound,
returning home in a stage-coach. A stranger said
to him, "Are you from Nantucket, sir?" "I am."
"They, say old Ballou is down there preaching; did
you hear anything of him ? " " He has been preach-
ing there." " Did you hear him, sir ? " "I did, sev-
eral times." "Well," said the stranger, "I do not
like him ; he preaches that all men will go to heaven
when they die, just as they leave this world." " Did
you ever hear Mr. Ballou preach?" "No, I never
did ; and I have no desire to hear him preach." " How
do you know, then, he preaches in that manner?"
" I have heard so a thousand times." " But you may be
misinformed ; I am quite confident he would tell you,
if you should ask him, that he preaches that men are
not to go to heaven in their sins, but that they are to
be saved from their sins." " No such thing ; but how
is it you know so much about him ? " ''I live in Bos-
ton, sir." " What church do you attend ? " " Mr.
Ballou's." "Are you personally acquainted with
him?" "My name is Hosea Ballou, my friend." It
is probable that the over-confident stranger felt after
this a touch of embarrassment.
On another occasion, when riding from Roxbury to
Boston in an omnibus, he was accosted by a very zeal-
ous Orthodox lady : " I want to know, Mr. Ballou, if
you preach as Jesus Christ preached when on the
earth?" "Well, I don't know, madam," said he,
slowly and mildly; "I believe I intend to do ^o."
"Ah, but are you faithful, sir? Do you set forth the
punishment of sin as faithfully as Jesus Christ and
his apostles did ? " "•! would not be self-confident in
such a matter ; but I try to preach the doctrine of
my Master." "Do you," said she, growing excited,
" preach to your people every Sabbath, * Ye serpents,
ye generation of vipers, ye hypocrites, how can ye
escape the damnation of hell ? ' " " No, madam, I do
not." "Why do you not? Jesus preached in that
way ; why don't you preach the same ? " " That class
of people don't come to my meeting."
188 HOSEA BALLOU.
These instances sample his mother-wit. Some one
defines wit as " an unexpected combination of distant
resemblances." By this standard Mr. Ballou cannot
be called a witty man. He was not given to play upon
words. Save in the one instance, at the Reform Fes-
tival, there is no record of his ever making a pun.
His wit did not consist in any degree in a combina-
tion of distant resemblances. It was precisely the
sort of wit Dr. Porson was so long in discovering. It
was the pleasing grace of simple truth. He had the
direct vision of the single mind. He saw in plain
truth its amusing aspect.
We note that all these samples of his wit bear tlie
stamp of his own personality. No one else could have
spoken them ; and it is difficult for us to see how he
could have repressed their utterance. His humor, we
also observe, was always of excellent quality. He had
no aptitude whatever for mere drollery. Some people,
from reports of his preaching, imagined him boorish
and pert in the pulpit ; but his witticisms never low-
ered the high themes upon which he uniformly dis-
coursed. '' It was no uncommon thing for him," said
Rev. 0. A. Skinner, speaking of his preaching, "to
excite a smile ; but usually it was done by some in-
genious argument that would electrify every one pres-
ent." It is not known that any person ever listened
to one of his sermons who was not so impressed with
liis sincerity, dignity, and earnestness, that the recol-
lection of his occasional humorous sayings was held
subsidiary and helpful to his main serious purpose.
His mother-wit was sanctified. It served a divine
mission in diffusing cheerfulness and health.
LEADERSHIP is self-multiplication. A photogra-
pher brings forth many pictures from one; a
master-spirit multiplies himself in his disciples. Alfred
the Great, Charlemagne, Washington, Garibaldi, all
renowned swordsmen, indeed, had conspicuous genius
for transforming other men into their own likeness.
The fact holds as to religious epoch-makers. Follow-
ers of Augustine, Loyola, Luther, Calvin, Fox, Edwards,
Wesley, were severally like their leaders. The true
disciple yields to his chieftain a glad self-abnegation ;
his yoke is easy ; his bondage is liberty. His master
magnetizes him into the semblance if not into the
reality of a new person.
Did Hosea Ballon possess this power of self-multi-
plication? Is he to be classed among the religious
Prophecy is history in the future tense. We are
studying Mr. Ballon as he was in his own age.
It is significant that, from middle life, he was among
Universalists popularly designated as " Father Ballon."
In domestic life he had, indeed, some claim to the title ;
he was the happy father of three sons and six daugh-
ters, and these all yielded him rare filial devotion.
But in the spiritual life he was much more extensively
a father. Innumerable souls gladly acknowledged
190 HOSEA BALLOU.
indebtedness to him for birth into a diviner range
of being. "I question," said Rev. 0. A. Skinner,
"whether there was ever a preacher who made so
many converts by his pulpit labors as Father Ballon.
Thousands on thousands were convinced by him ; and
his converts were always remarkable for ability to
reason and for hearts of benevolence." Mr. Ballon
himself at one time spoke of those who had confess-
edly received through his words a new impulse of the
better life, as " ten thousand friends and more." It
was not mere sacerdotal courtesy, therefore, that con-
ferred on him the honorary title of " Father."
This chapter is designed to be a free word-picturing
of a few of his more notable spiritual sons.
If Mr. Ballon, during his first Sundays in School
Street Church, happened to cast an especially observ-
ing eye on his voluntary choir, he must have marked
among its members the face of a certain young man.
Thomas Whittemore had uncontested ownership of the
face. He had at this time barely turned eighteen,
having been born on the first day of the century. We
do not mean to insinuate that he was himself ashamed
of his countenance, or had reason to be greatly cha-
grined at this item of his very meagre ancestral inher-
itance. The features were heavily encased in flesh ;
earthliness was prominent, but not dominant; intel-
ligence, humor, good-will, honesty, self-assurance,
blended in the expression; the eyes were full, gray
in color, penetrating, and facetious ; his lips were un-
usually prominent. The countenance was in all its
traits strong. It was tense with a seemingly inex-
THOMAS WHITTEMORE, D.D.
SPIRITUAL SONS. 191
haustible vital force, and mobile with a restless tem-
perament. The owner was at this time a boot-maker's
apprentice. He was fatherless, and virtually mother-
less. He was hilarious and exuberant, with abundance
of green material in him of that burlesque of manhood,
a Boston rough. He was crudely and boisterously
sceptical. He had, however, an intense passion for
music. When, therefore, the new preacher who had
been so thoroughly shaking up the religious dry bones
was to come to Boston, he, having nothing more amus-
ing on hand, volunteered to assist with his bass-viol
in giving him a suitable choir-accompaniment.
But he soon became an interested listener to Mr.
Ballou's novel preaching. It had to him a peculiarly
personal appeal. Might it not be worth one's while
to believe such a gospel of hope and charity ? At a
distance he respected the earnest preacher. He felt
a better spirit taking possession of him. He had so
far been neglectful of even his slight school privileges.
Now, on the opening of the evening school in the au-
tumn, he became a constant attendant.
When the school closed in the spring, and he had
completed his nineteenth and begun his twentieth
year, he ventured to call on Mr. Ballou, toward whom
his heart had more and more yearned. Arrayed in
his modest best, and feeling some assurance in the fact
that Mr. Ballou rented his house on Blossom Street of
his employer, Abel Baker, he knocked at the door of
the manse. Would Mr. Ballou kindly assist him
a little in the study of English grammar, now the
evening school was closed? The busy preacher was
gracious, and his wife was unaffectedly maternal.
They kept the homeless young boot-maker through
192 HOSE A BALLOU.
the evening, and he left under promise to come again
soon with a composition for his new teacher to criti-
cise. A few evenings later he brought, as fruit of his
midnight oil, some rude rhythmic "Reflections over
the Grave of an Infant." Did he instinctively know
that rhymes had for Mr. Ballou a peculiar charm ?
The critic was greatly pleased ; the young man had
done surprisingly well. The adolescent effusion was
kept, and in a few days appeared in the " Universalist
Magazine." In print ! The young boot-maker was in
a state of exaltation. A new life-purpose was formed
To further tell how, on reaching his majority on
the 1st of January, 1821, he entered Mr. Ballou's
house as a student ; how, after his first sermon before
his teacher, he was complimented on having selected
a good text ; how he, after a year as pastor at Milford,
in 1822 settled in Cambridgeport, w^here he was pas-
tor for nine years and resident during his life ; how
in 1828 he purchased the " Universalist Magazine "
and appropriately changed its name to " The Trum-
pet ; " how he in 1830 published the " Modern History
of Universalism ; " in 1834, " Notes and Illustrations
of the Parables ; '' in 1837, " Songs of Zion," a music-
book, containing some original hymns and tunes ;
in 1840, "A Plain Guide to Universalism;" in 1852,
"A Memoir of Rev. Walter Balfour;" in 1854-55,
" The Life of Ilosea Ballou," in four volumes ; in 1859,
"The Early Days of Thomas Whittemore, an Auto-
biography ;" in 1860, the first volume of a new edition
of his first book, " Modern History of Universalism,"
and was preparing the second volume at the time of
his death, March 21, 1861; how he was a man of
SPIRITUAL SONS. 193
extraordinary business capabilities, holding for many
years the presidency of the Cambridge Bank and the
presidency of the Fitchburg Railroad ; how he was
the representative of his town in the Legislature, and
served as an alderman ; how it was during all his life
his greatest happiness to preach the impartial gospel ;
how he travelled incessantly as an itinerant ; what hold
he had on the popular heart by his exuberant wit and
his preaching power, — this, while its mention swells
a paragraph, could be adequately told only in a vol-
ume. Picturesque, unforgetable man, in intensity and
activity almost miraculous, he was in a real sense
given to the world by Hosea Ballon. He himself as-
cribed to his " Father Ballon " all that was noble and
victorious in his life.
Another spiritual son of Mr. Ballon, extremely un-
like in form and texture, shall introduce himself in
the letter following: —
Hasowick, Mass., April 23, 1823.
To Rev. Hosea Ballou.
Dear Sir, — Although an utter stranger to you, I take
the liberty of addressing you, presuming you will be willing
to pardon me for obtruding myself on your notice. In early
youth I was taught to believe that God had determined to
render happy after the slumbers of death a part, and a part
only, of his offspring. My parents were both believers and
professors of this doctrine ; but their hearts were so much
better than their doctrine, that they lived such a life as in-
duced me to suppose that their opinions must be right. I
placed unlimited confidence in them, and believed their doc-
trine to be true, because they considered it so. At times, it
is true, I was somewhat astonished at some expressions used
by ministers of the Calvinistic faith, which appeared to me
to implicate the character of God. On inquiry of professors
194 HOSEA BALLOU.
the reasons of such expressions, I was almost invariably in-
formed that such things were spiritually discerned, and that
my not discerning them was the effect of my not having been
renewed; and as I had never experienced such- transports as
are by them deemed the only proofs of regeneration, I thought
it probable that what they said was correct. At length, how-
ever, the inconsistencies of Calvinism appeared so glaring that
I set about reading the Scriptures, particularly the New Tes-
tament, more carefully than I had before done. The effect
you probably anticipate ; it pleased Grod to remove the veil
from my heart, and cause me to see that he is a tender parent
of all his children, that he consults their best good, and that
he will finally make pure, sinless, holy, and consequently
happy, all created intelligences. About this time I had an
opportunity to peruse your " Treatise on Atonement," and
it is a duty which I owe to you and to myself to state that it
was a mean in the hand of God of removing from my mind
many clouds which had heretofore obscured my vision.
L. R. Paige.
Over this characteristic letter we in reminiscent
mood linger. It is, at the date we write, more than
sixty-five years old. Yet the hand penning these
words was but a day or two since in the friendly
clasp of the hand which more than threescore and
five years ago penned this epistle. The youth of
that day, delicate, sensitive, painstaking, is now the
veteran Dr. Paige, nearing his eighty-seventh year.
He has fulfilled the prophecy of his youth. As we
linger over this epistle, at once aged and young, it
seems to us that the studied sentences, so exact, con-
scientious, and graceful, might have been written yes-
terday by our clear-visioned and buoyant old friend.
As he was when he had the crown of life to win, he
is now with the crown of life won. He was Thomas
SPIRITUAL SONS. 195
Whittemore's successor in Hosea Ballou's home, begin-
ning his specific preparation for the ministry soon after
reaching his majority. The demand for preachers
was in those days too urgent to admit of more than
a few months devoted to preparation. He was very
soon graduated into the school of experience. Two
years an evangelist ; four years pastor at Springfield,
Massachusetts;- two years pastor at Rockport, Cape
Ann, where, in imitation of Mr. Ballon at Portsmouth,
he supplemented his inadequate salary as preacher by
school-teaching, — in May, 1832, he began his minis-
try in Cambridgeport, being, as once before, Thomas
Whittemore's successor. Seven years his faithful
pastorate continued, and his residence in the city con-
tinues to this day. By self-mastery and perseverance
he has fulfilled extraordinary tasks. For livelihood,
he was town clerk, afterward city clerk, in Cam-
bridge; he was bank treasurer, cashier, and presi-
dent ; such employment, like Paul's tent-making,
being, however, incidental to his life mission. In
1833 he published a book revealing the scope of his
biblical studies, entitled "Selections from Eminent
Commentators." It was to all observant biblical
scholars in that day a surprise ; to some of the old
school it was a shock. In the exact language of emi-
nent Orthodox commentators, every passage of Scrip-
ture popularly supposed to teach endless punishment
was expounded as harmonious with the universal hope.
Scholarly believers in the endlessness of punishment
based the doctrine on certain passages, conceding that
it was not taught in other passages which had been
quoted in its support. A search among all the rep-
utable commentators revealed the astonishing fact
196 HOSEA BALLOU.
that some standard Orthodox authority had conceded
to Universalism every passage which could be quoted
against it. After the publication of this book the scrip-
tural battle was made easy for Universalists. Not one
passage could be quoted against them where they could
not confront their assailants with an Orthodox exe-
gesis contrary to Orthodoxy. In 1838 he published a
book entitled "Questions on Select Portions of the
Gospels, designed for the Use of Sabbath Schools and
Bible Classes." In 1844 appeared the first volume of
the wovk on which his fame most securely rests, his
" Commentary on the New Testament," the sixth
and last volume of which appeared in 1870. The ex-
cellency of this Commentary is widely acknowledged.
Its correctness in statement and quotation, its candor
in reasoning and exegesis, its reverent faith, its direct
and limpid style are readily apprehended by its stu-
dents. Yet the heroism of its preparation but few have
known. While itself diffusive of light, it is largely a
product of the night. Patient night-study after days
of wearying secular toil, — study persevered in through
years, under a burden of delicate health, necessitating
utmost care and temperance, and through repeated
family bereavements such as would have wi*ecked the
energy of many a physically stronger man, — such the
roots; the Commentary the flowering and fruitage.
Produced under any circumstances, the work would
have honored its author; produced under such cir-
cumstances, this pioneer Universalist Commentary is
both a monument and a crown for its author. Fol-
lowing this protracted labor of love, in 1877 Dr. Paige
published a " History of Cambridge," a book involving
an amount of research in the early annals of the city
LUCIUS R. PAIGE, D.D.
SPIRITUAL SONS. 197
of his adoption suflScient itself to be for a man a life
work. Following this he published, some years later,
a history of his native town of Hard wick, — a book,
like all his others, of utmost trustworthiness of state-
ment or restatement. And through all the years he
has been a preacher of the faith which early awak-
ened him to a cheering hope. When his health has
permitted he has been in the pulpit, where his modest
demeanor and crystal style have made him the delight
of the thoughtful ; at all times, by the unmistakable
testimony of a heart cheerful in sorrow, a courage
valiant in pain, love unfailing, and hope all-conquer-
ing, he has been a living example of his faith. He
has not been, like Whittemore, a master of emotion ;
but on one theme he could never speak without a kind-
ling of the eye, and not often without a trembling of
the voice. " To that man," he once said to a company
of fellow-clergymen, pointing to an engraving of Hosea
Ballon on the wall, " I owe my deepest gratitude ; he
was my father, my guide, my friend." Dr. Paige, tall,
slight, with no ambition for scholarship outside divine
revelation and American history, and very impatient
of all schools of metaphysics, is a distinctive person-
ality; yet in him reappears in likeness his honored
In 1814, as we have seen, Mr. Ballon in Portsmouth,
New Hampshire, eked out his scanty income by school-
teaching. A young man bearing precisely his own
name was his assistant. Hosea Ballon 2d he always
wrote his name. He has in later years been commonly
designated as Dr. Ballon. To this name must be con-
ceded a high place, even if it be not yet widely conspio-
198 HOSEA BALLOU.
uous, in the temple of fame. He was a grandson of
Mr. Ballou's oldest brother, Benjamin. He was born in
Guilford, Vermont, Oct. 18, 1796. His parents were
Baptists. Tradition tells of the second Hosea being
also a youthful subject of a Baptist revival. At the
age of fifteen he was a precocious district school-
teacher. At the same age he began, under guidance
of Rev. Mr. Wood in Marlborough, Vermont, to make
his way through the Latin language into the Latin lit-
erature. When he came to Portsmouth to assist his
great-uncle, he had been a teacher three winters, his
summers having been divided between farm-work and
study. He had also, through an experience we can-
not now with the means at our command rescue from
obscurity, become a Universalist in his faith. He
could doubtless, in language, literature, and science
have taught his teacher ; but in theology and biblical
exegesis he was a most reverent student. An apt stu-
dent, indeed, he must have been. He preached his
first sermon at nineteen in Monroe, Massachusetts.
An expected preacher not appearing at a school-house,
he obeyed the instant summons to the desk, and ac-
quitted himself with credit. His first settlement was
at Stafford, Connecticut. In 1821, a large edifice
having been erected in Roxbury, a suburb of Boston,
where Mr. Ballon had been the missionary, he was
called to this important pastorate by the recommen-
dation of his former teacher. Seventeen years were
spent at this post ; fifteen years as pastor at Medford,
another suburban town of Boston, followed. He then
left the pastoral ministry to enter, after a year of
travel and study at the universities of Europe, on his
duties as first President of Tufts College. He held
SPIRITUAL SONS. 199
this position till May 27, 1861, when he was summoned
to his final rest. He is pre-eminently the Universalist
scholar. In 1829 he published the "Ancient History
of Universalism." This exhibition of his researches
in church history at its sources in the dead languages
was the wonder of the learned. Dr. Edward Beecher
says of the book, " The work is one of decided ability,
and is written with great candor and a careful exami-
nation of authorities." Dr. Beecher's own protracted
studies in the same unfrequented field, led him, con-
trary to his expectation in the beginning, to the same
conclusions reached by Dr. Ballon ; namely, thait Uni-
versalism was the dominant doctrine in the church in
the age immediately succeeding the apostolic. For
many years Dr. Ballon was editor of the " Univer-
salist Expositor," and its successor, the " Universalist
Quarterly." The heroism of his devotion to scholarly
literature in the service of his faith but few in his
generation understood. The ardor of his desire that
his brethren might lead the church in sound learning,
and appreciate the true and good in philosophy, made
him a pioneer among Universalists in education, as his
great-uncle had been in theology and exegesis. He
had very slight oratorical gifts. He had the scholar's
shyness; in manner he was usually introversive and
dry ; yet he was heard with eager interest by those
who could appreciate the substance of his utterances.
In prayer he always kindled to eloquence ; and in con-
versation with a kindred mind, or with two or three
friends, he was unconstrained and charming. Unlike
his senior, he shrank from the presence of a multitude ;
he found no exhilaration in public address; he dis-
trusted and underrated his ability to interest the mass.
200 HOSEA BALLOU.
But with his pen he had freedom and easy mastership.
He could make hidden things visible, and follow a
sure clew through the most intricate problems. He
was at once a logician and a seer. His studies of will-
freedom and necessity, of the testament written in
human nature in connection with the testaments of
revelation, have never been surpassed for perspicuity
and profundity. For spiritual discernment he can be
named with Pascal, Channing, and Martineau. More
than any other man of his generation he explored the
entire system of Universalist doctrines, and appre-
hended the Christian faith as a philosophy. In his
personality, we must confess, he escapes our descrip-
tive words, even as his shy spirit when in the body
shrank from recognition. It is easy to say he was
single-hearted, in candor transparent, an utter stranger
to envy, that he had no small trait ; yet such affirma-
tions can only suggest to those who already know them
the indescribable attractions of his deep and loving
nature. He was the plainest of men in his method of
life, yet he has never been explained. No one has at-
tempted to write his too-long-delayed biography. His
name among Universalists is like the name of Socrates
in the world of letters. There is fascination in the
name itself. Chapin and Starr King found enchant-
ment in his companionship. It is to be regretted that
neither of these eloquent men revealed in full deline-
ation the charm of this personality, so profound in
simplicity, so grand in mental proportions, so sublime
It is well known that Dr. Ballou did not follow his
elder namesake in the belief that punishment of sin
is bounded by mortality. The theology he learned of
HOSEA BALLOU, 2D.
SPIRITUAL SONS. 201
his great-uncle in Portsmouth he did not during his
life unlearn or disbelieve. In his later years he
was called a new-school man ; in reality he was, in
this point of opinion, of the original Ballon school.
This divergenpe of conviction, however, did not in the
least disturb the mutual friendliness of these kindred
spirits. In joint editorship, and in appreciation of
each one's pecidiar gifts, either was the virtual com-
pletion of the other. Dr. Ballon, by counselling unity
through forbearance and charity, rendered the Uni-
versalist Church a signal service during the Restora-
tionist controversy. He was in doctrinal sympathy
with the seceders, yet by his calmness and candor
kept many turbulent spirits from excesses of zeal.
The two Ballous blend in spiritual union. To the
younger will be conceded the wider range of scholar-
ship ; the older excelled as a biblical specialist. The
work of the younger supplements that of the older in
our denominational history. For the gift of Hosea
Ballon 2d to the church we now bespeak gratitude
to the senior Hosea Ballon.
Rev. John Boyden, who died Sept. 28, 1869, when
liearing the completion of the thirtieth year of his
pastorate in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, was also a
spiritual son of Hosea Ballon. Not varied and pro-
found in scholarship as Dr. Ballon, not a patient plod-
der in books like Dr. Paige, not a general genius like
Dr. Whittemore, he was, in his own place, no less
than either esteemed. He had genius in loving. He
diffused about him an atmosphere of love. He was
born in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, May 14, 1809, and
had early country-school privileges, which he faith-
202 HOSEA BALLOU.
fully improved. At fourteen he heard Mr. Ballou
preach one sermon in Brookfield. The subject was
•'The Unsearchable Riches of Christ." With his
usual directness of address the preacher at the climax
of each division of his discourse asked, " Do you see
the unsearchable riches of Christ ? " The sermon was
a revelation to the eager young soul. Tliree or four
years afterward he heard Mr. Ballou preach again,
when his subject was, " We preach not ourselves, but
Christ Jesus the Lord." "After reading his text,"
Mr. Boyden long afterward wrote, " he carefully
folded his glasses, put them in his pocket, as was
his custom, and while the audience was waiting with
breathless attention to hear the first word that fell
from his lips, he began thus : ' The text mpposes that
there is such a thing as a man preaching himself. '*
The audience breathed, — a token that it already pos-
sessed the key to the sermon." This discourse car-
ried the young man captive to the hope of the whole
world's redemption. On the 14th day of May, 1829,
— the day he was twenty years old, — he entered
Mr. Ballou's house as a student. He was a shy coun-
try-boy, but was soon made to feel at home in the
large and affectionate family. Such, in those days,
was the urgency of the demand for preachers of hope,
that Mr. Ballou sent the young man to preach in
Annisquam, Gloucester, in the place of the pastor,
Rev. Mr. Leonard, on the first Sunday of the month
following. As he was preparing to leave for Glouces-
ter, with trepidation and misgiving in his heart, Mr.
Ballou gave him this charge : " Be in earnest. Don't
speak one word without making the people understand
and feel that you believe it with all your heart."
SPIRITUAL SONS. 208
How the young preacher succeeded in Annisquam on
that Sunday he was not inclined to confess; but he
left on record the confession that through all the sub-
sequent years of his ministry, whenever he in the pul-
pit felt the effects of a wearied frame in languor of
speech, he could instantly arouse himself by recollect-
ing the words of his spiritual father, " Be in earnest."
This was indeed his real life-motto. He was distinc-
tively an earnest man. He was in 1830 ordained in
Berlin, Connecticut, where he remained four years;
he was in Dudley, Massachusetts, six years, and in
1840 became pastor of the new society inWoonsocket,
Rhode Island, where he completed his life-work, and
where his memory is still fulfilling a blessed ministry.
He resembled his spiritual father in being specifically
a Bible student and preacher. He was a resolute
preacher of righteousness, an antislavery and tem-
perance reformer ; he was as true to the right as the
needle to the pole. But the winning love of the good
man, the gospel grace, — how can it be portrayed ?
He was the personification of the loving spirit. He
felt divinely beloved ; it was his cheerful necessity to
humanly love. "Who at once can love and rest?"
asks Mrs. Browning. He had the gospel light and
heat which illumines and radiates ; his ministry was
visibly active, and in this sense unrestful, yet his
heart was securely anchored and at peace. He was
so perfectly a representative of the Lord Jesus, that
it seems scarcely improper to say, in behalf of those
who through responsive love felt the depth and ten-
derness of his affection, " He hath borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows." We know not who in his
generation surpassed him in largeness of love, — the
204 HOSEA BALLOr.
Christian love which recognizes the Infinite in the
finite, the Divine in the human, and feels another's
joy and sorrow as its own. No name among those
held in honor by the Universalist Church is regarded
with more affection than John Boy den, the Christian
pastor, who had a genius for loving.
It is our privilege to add that all Mr. Bailouts chil-
dren, bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh, were his in
spiritual likeness. The proverbial erring one, the
stray-away, was not known in his household. . No
pillows were wet because of a- recreant or thankless
child. It was the father's happiness to see two of his
three sons choose his own profession.
Hosea Faxon, in early manhood, preferred a farmer's
life, and was settled in Monroe, Massachusetts ; but at
thirty, as was the case with his grandfather, the call
to the ministry became irresistible. He was ordained
in BostoA, June 30, 1833 ; he settled in Whitingham,
Vermont, where he remained pastor nearly twenty*five
years, and then removed to Wilmington, Vermont,
where he was pastor fifteen years, when the infirmi-
ties of age caused him to retire from the pulpit. He
had marked resemblance, both personal and mental,
to his father. When he appeared at the centennial
celebration in Gloucester, in 1870, many of his breth-
ren wondered why he was not conceded the leadership
in the church, of which he was so manifestly capable.
The explanation was his entire content in quiet coun-
try life. He reared a large family, and had happiness
in his home. He was held in high esteem by his fel-
low-townsmen. He was in Whitingham town clerk ;
in Wilmington he was twice elected a member of the
REV. JOHN BOYDEN.
SPIRITUAL SONS. 205
Constitutional Convention, and once was elected to the
State Legislature, and was president of the local sav-
ings-bank. In this thrifty country-life his ambition
was satisfied. When he died in Wilmington, May 20,
1881, at almost the precise age at which his father
died, it was largely conceded that no man in southern
Vermont had been for fifty years held in more rever-
ent esteem than he had been, and none more than he
had influenced religious opinion.
Another son of Mr. Ballon, Massena Berthier, quite
early entered the Universalist ministry, settling at
Stoughton, Massachusetts. After fulfilling an active
pastorate of twenty-five years he relinquished the care
of the parish, and became one of its members and sup-
porters. He is at this writing still living at Stough-
ton ; he is nearing the completion of his eighty-eighth
year, and is, we believe, the oldest living Universalist
preacher. The beauty of his spirit, the gentleness of
his heart, the uprightness of his life, are affectionately
witnessed by his neighbors. " My father named me,"
he once said to us, " after two of Napoleon's marshals
for whom he had great admiration. It was the only
mistake I ever knew him to make : I am utterly des-
titute not only of the love of warfare, but of the desire
for controversy ; there is no fight at all in me." But
in the warfare which the lamb represents, — that of
appeal to the better nature of man, — who will say
this gentle soldier of the Cross has not fought a good
fight of faith ?
The youngest son of the subject of our biography,
Maturin Murray, in his biography of his father, shows
his deep appreciation of his honored parent. He early
turned his attention to literature and the publishing
206 HOSEA BALLOU.
business, and won marked success. In later years he
has been an extensive traveller in unfrequented por-
tions of the earth; his descriptive books have com-
manded a very wide reading.
We reluctantly leave this aspect of our theme. The
real leadership of Mr. Ballon could be in striking in-
stances much more extensively proved. His followers,
as we behold, were all faithful to their own native
characteristics. They were by no means servile imi-
tators of their chosen example. Yet in every one the
spirit of Mr. Ballou reappears.
Only a real religious leader could be the father of
such a company of freeborn spiritual sons.
IN THE PULPIT.
WHOEVER once saw Mr. Ballou in the pulpit
was not likely to forget the fact. Yet one
needed to see him repeatedly, under widely different
circumstances, to appreciate the range of his pulpit
gifts. Whether in a country farm-house, or in a city
pulpit, or at a convention, he was equally at home.
Before the greater multitude he was undoubtedly at
his best ; yet he needed to be seen on all the lesser
occasions, that his best might be rightly measured.
In the early years of his ministry, while itinerating
from Dana and Barnard, he frequently preached in an
imaginary pulpit in a farm-house.
Let us conjure into visibility one of these specimen
experiences. It is brought about somewhat in this
Mr. Ballou is a much-talked-of man in the country
districts. He is spoken of by the " unco guid " as a
very dangerous man. He is, they say, an emissary of
Satan with beguiling words, destroying saving faith
in many a precious soul. Yet there are some who
bravely testify in his behalf. They declare he does
not speak like an infidel ; that he commends a cheer-
ful faith with great zeal and undeniable sincerity.
Some friend of fair play is moved to say to his fellow-
citizens of the farming community : "Let us have him
208 HOSEA BALLOU.
preach fbr us some evening, and learn of this sect
everywhere spoken against." The suggestion is re-
ceived with some favor. An application is accordingly
made for the Congregationalist church for a week-day
evening service. The refusal is prompt. In another
section of the town is a Baptist meeting-house; an
application is made for that, on such terms as it is
sometimes let to a travelling panorama. The refusal
here is both prompt and empliatic. These sects have
not yet learned to love each other very fervently, but
they agree in the determination that the perdition-
filling heresy must be kept out of the town. What
now is to be done ? A number of people have become
eager to hear the new preacher. The conflicting
stories they have heard make them curious. At this
point a thrifty farmer, having a commodious house,
offers it for such an evening service. The offer is
cordially accepted. The request is sent to Mr. Ballon
that he will favor the inquirers with an evening dis-
course ; he replies with glad consent, and names the
first evening at his command.
Notice of the meeting goes abroad. Many tongues
advertise the coming event.
The evening, dreaded by some, impatiently waited
for by others, at length arrives. The house has two
spacious rooms opening from either side of the hall,
and in the rear a large kitchen, the " living-room " of
the family. The people arrive in groups, many bring-
ing their own chairs ; they arrange themselves in
rows in the three rooms, until the space is completely
The assembly is a good representation of New Eng-
landers of the second generation after the Revolution.
IN THE PULPIT. 209
One can here see how the doubly-named caricature
" Brother Jonathan " and " Uncle Sam " is rooted in
actual New England country life. These people, it
must be confessed, are guilty of not having been born
in Paris ; they are, consequently, crude in some of
the social graces. Yet a more thrifty, intelligent, in-
corruptible populace can nowhere be found. " What
can be raised here ? " was asked of Daniel Webster,
as his eye rested on the barren granite hills of New
Hampshire. " Men," was his reply. Those eager peo-
ple now waiting to hear the new preacher are repre-
sentative New Englanders of the closing years of the
homespun age. They have been trained to do their
own thinking ; they are not laggards in the business.
The audience — the faces of the people being dimly
visible in the light of tallow dips, while rays from the
blazing wood in the open fireplace dance through the
rooms and cast fantastic shadows on the walls — is a
human picture curious and historic.
The time for the services has arrived. The buz2r
of whispered conversation ceases. The preacher has
taken his place in the kitchen, midway between the
doors which open on either side into the crowded front
rooms. He rises and announces a hymn, holding a
hymn-book in one hand and a tallow dip in the other.
He shows his full six feet of height. His hair^
parted in the middle, falls to his neck. Later in
life he will wear it more shortly cut; now, he follows
the prevalent ministerial fashion. His voice is mild,
with an occasional hint in it that under stress it can
He has finished the reading; he invites all to
engage with freedom in the singing, remarking that
210 HOSEA BALLOU.
he cannot assist them, yet fully appreciates the min-
istry of sacred song. It is the era of country singing-
schools. Not a few are willing to assist in psalmody
on any public occasion. The familiar hymn is vigor-
ously sung; all the parts are properly rendered. A
chapter of Scripture is read, and accompanied by
explanatory remarks. A prayer is offered, varying
from the prayers commonly heard ; its simplicity, its
absence of stock-phrases, its process of reasoning,
under guidance of the Infinite Intelligence, marking
this portion of the service as singularly original. At
the reading of the second hymn a glistening has come
into the preacher's blue eyes, and a persuasiveness
appears in his manner. Some of his hearers have
already ceased to regard him with dread.
The sermon begins. It is precisely the one inquir-
ers will be glad to hear. The text is a passage often
quoted as conveying a threat of endless punishment.
He states the case fairly. No Orthodox minister
could say more in behalf of the commonly-accepted
interpretation than he says. He means at least to be
frank. Now comes his own explanation. Very sim-
ple and plain he makes everything. He knows all
about farming ; his illustrations are taken out of our
every-day life. And now he is growing eloquent.
Part of the time we see only his back, as he talks to
those in the other rooms ; but we easily hear his
words, and we follow, without loss of a link, the chain
of his argument. Now he turns toward us. Easy
and fluent his speech has become. He looks directly
at one of his hearers, whose face seems to make objec-
tion, and he at once clothes the objection in words.
It really seems the hearer who is speaking. He has
IN THE PULPIT. 211
begun his answer to his critic, when his hearer appears
to make another objection. " Wait a little," he says,
"I am now speaking to the remark you just now
made ; remember this new objection, and we will re-
turn to it soon." What interest is seen in the face
of every hearer! The preacher is making clear his
doctrine that God is the Father of all, and Christ the
Savior of all. He is surely a man of good heart and
human sympathy. One would think the Scripture
must mean what he says ; it does not look reasonable
that it can mean anything else. What a happiness
to believe there is no literal lake of fire into which
almost all mankind are to be plunged ! And now he
is closing. Quickly the time has passed. It was
seven o'clock when he began his sermon ; now it is
fifteen minutes to nine. The hour and three quarters
have seemed less than half an hour. Well, we have
a great deal to think of when we are at work in the
field, and we must read the Bible in this new light.
If ever this preacher comes within twenty miles of
us we must hear him again.
As seen in the mirror of a hearer's mind, such was
Mr. Ballou's preaching on many an evening in a
By aid of the historic imagination we now transport
ourselves to School Street Church, Boston.
The period is near the completion of the first quar-
ter of the nineteenth century. This is the church
which was built for Mr. Ballon before he came to
Boston. We are here before the people have begun
to arrive. We look about us. The auditorium is
plain, home-like, designed rather for use than to
solicit admiration ; with galleries extending around
212 HOSEA BALLOU.
three sides, it proffers seats to near a thousand peo-
ple. Opposite the pulpit are the singing-seats, afford-
ing accommodations for a large voluntary choir.
Now the people begin to assemble. They are,
forsooth, unregenerates ; they dare to discredit Mil-
ton's Satan and Dante's Inferno. Christians ? Their
neighbors class them with Pagans, Infidels, Atheists.
Little, however, these people seem to care for their
ill names. They have, we note, begun to vary the
ancestral Puritan type. The typical long face has
shortened, the forma^l dress has been changed to a
more worldly fashion ; the heavy heart within, which
was in other days esteemed religious according to its
heaviness, has been lightened with some strange
cheer. These people are happy, cordial, of indepen-
dent thought, and of generous heart. The regular
worshippers nearly fill the seats. To such seats as
remain the strangers are welcomed. Before the
hour for service has fully come, the congregation has
solidified to a dense mass.
Is that man sitting behind the pulpit Mr. Ballon ?
Yes, it is he.
In one thing, at least, we are disappointed. We
have heard of him as a wit and the preacher of cheer-
fulness, yet his face now looks cheerless, gloomy,
almost morose. It is indeed true that his face does
at times give strangers the impression of his being
in ill-temper. While travelling he has appeared to
observers a man in bad humor. When Dr. Lucius
B. Paige recalls his first sight of Mr. Ballon, it is in
language like this : "On reaching my majority I has-
tened from Hardwick to Boston. I arrived in time
to attend a service at School Street, and without call-
m THE PULPIT. 213
ing on my future teacher, I went to the church. My
first impression of Mr. Ballou was that he seemed, as
we New Englanders say, cross ; for a few moments I
thought him the Grossest man I had ever seen." And
what is the explanation of this most unexpected
appearance? It need not be said that as far as it
suggests ill-nature it is altogether deceptive. It sig-
nifies simply that his mind is severely striving with
his theme. He is to preach with no manuscript to
guide him ; his sermon he carries in his mind in all
its logical completeness. His stress and introversion
he shows all unconsciously ; it is pictured in his
countenance, because his face is quick to respond to
his passing mood.
After the choir-anthem he rises, and begins the
reading of the Bible. Almost immediately we con-
cede that he is a natural elocutionist. A school-
taught teacher could, no doubt, instruct him as to
the customary pronunciation of certain words; but
not every teacher would attempt to improve his
method of emphasis and modulation.
His pronunciation is interesting as a remnant of his
boyhood. At this time — 1826 — a bright, finely-
organized boy, Thomas Baldwin Thayer, is a student
in the Boston Latin School ; he is Mr. Ballou's sharp
yet silent verbal critic. The boy is coming under the
preacher's spell, yet he makes note in his memory
of the mispronounced words. When he has himself
become an eminent advocate of the doctrine he is
now learning of Mr. Ballou, he will smile — laughter
filling his eyes while barely touching his delicate lips
— as he recalls, concerning the preacher he uniformly
declared had no equal in modern generations for
214 HOSEA BALLOU.
direct vision of spiritual verities and genius of ex-
pression, certain well-remembered instances of amus-
ing orthoepy. This characteristic of Mr. Ballou's
speech will, however, save in a few unimportant
remnants, disappear in his maturer years. It is natu-
ral that, like a Scotchman or a Yorkshireman, he
should retain some suggestion of his native idiom.
He has at this day so rarely heard polished public
speakers, and has been himself so constantly speaking,
that he has had but little opportunity to mend his
native style. In the country, his pronunciation is not
peculiar ; in the city, if it make an occasional critic
smile, it has a pleasant home-sound to many of his
Mr. Ballon, while we delay in these reflections,
continues his reading.
We note that the look of ill-nature, introversion,
anxiety, whatever it was, has entirely vanished. As
he reverently reads the sacred words, his countenance
expresses the newly-awakened emotions. In the read-
ing of the hymn he finds evident enjoyment. It is
sung by the choir with marked skill and enthusiasm.
The prayer, simple, spontaneous, dominated by the
reason, is offered, and another hymn brings us to
We now see him as the preacher.
His face has become the witness of deep earnestness.
By utter absence of self-consciousness he favorably
impresses his observers. He is very quiet, but no one
can doubt his consciousness of mastery. He an-
nounces his text deliberately and distinctly. We now
see him in vigorous middle life. The Muse of history
prophesies that later he will have a habit of putting
IN THE PULPIT. 215
on spectacles to read his text; then, before begin-
ning his sermon, taking them off and encasing them ;
then spreading his handkerchief across the pulpit, —
a procedure in his case peculiarly adapted to invite
and fix attention. He has not, at our present behold-
ing, attained to the distinction of wearing spectacles.
Indeed, spectacles will always be to him more orna-
mental than essential ; at eighty he will not need them
in reading fine print. He now, we observe, has no
such dramatic introduction. The opening words of
his sermon are explanatory of the biblical setting of
the text. In a few sentences he shows his text to
have bearings on great questions and great principles ;
in these relations it is soon discerned that its tradi-
tional interpretation is not reasonable.
His speech is very simple. It has the ease and the
occasional lapse and recovery of familiar conversation.
Yet there is in it a singular dignity. He personifies
" the objector " and reports " our opponent," making
their utterances forcible ; he gives them courteous and
complete answer. Meanwhile, interest in the congre-
gation is being aroused. He is himself becoming ab-
sorbed in his speech. It is no longer possible to be
critical of his manner or observant of his quaint pro-
nunciations. His gestures are so entirely the appropri-
ate accompaniment of his emotion, that in themselves
they attract no attention ; in after years they will be
remembered only by some exceptional hearer who has
reflected on their remarkable naturalness and grace.
In utter self-forgetfulness he declares his vision. We
begin to feel that, whatever his topic, he can have but
one central subject. God's Fatherhood, God's Love,
made manifest in persuasive power in the Lord Jesus
216 HOSEA BALLOU.
Christ, the Savior of the world, — all his themes are
tributary to this at last. Different aspects of his spe-
cial theme now give him the logical divisions of his dis-
course. On each he is complete, yet wastes no word.
AH his positions are indissolubly connected with his
established premises. He is surely a master in logic.
Scriptural passages from every portion of the sacred
writings come to him like his own spontaneous speech.
He seems in the very atmosphere in which the Bible
His discourse has now become majestic. A bubbling
mountain spring, clear and sweet ; a trickling stream ;
a rivulet with tributaries; now a broad river, swift,
irresistible, hurrying to the ocean, — such is the par-
allel of his discourse. He is speaking as one inspired.
He is vehement, yet under full command ; as by in-
stinct he summons all his reserve forces to the front.
He projects his great truth into the minds and hearts
of his hearers. To the whole congregation he has be-
come irresistible. His words are as nails fastened by
a master of assemblies. All faces are as one face.
When the theme for a moment seems tangled, on the
general face is suspense. A few rapid explanatory
words make the crooked place straight: a beam of
satisfaction passes over the common countenance. An
opponent's confident objection is so quickly and en-
tirely dissolved that the process seems like juvenile
play : a smile, yes, a laugh, broadens the common face.
Soon a picturing of Divine compassion becomes a joy
full of pathos : the eyes of the common face swim in
tears. The preacher is the embodiment of the Living
Oracles. In him the truth is life and light. It suf-
fuses the hearer's heart ; it illumines the whole horizon
IN THE PULPIT. 217
The sermon, by orderly approaches, reaches its artis-
tic climax aiid is finished. The audience, instructed,
awakened; exalted, quietly disperses. The spell of
cheering hope and worshipful love, nevertheless, will
long remain in the hearers' hearts.
Our picture of Mr. Ballou in the School Street pulpit
is a composite of many gathered memories, especially
of those who were his frequent hearers. Certain re-
corded idiosyncratic recollections of occasional hearers
— among which must be classified some of the graphic
reminiscences of Rev. Dr. E. G. Brooks — are not sus-
tained by general testimony, and therefore are not re-
produced in this generalized picture.
We have recalled Mr. Ballou when he was at his
best ; yet the evidence is uniform that he was in the
School Street pulpit almost always at his best. Age
in due time lessened his extraordinary fertility and
oratorical exuberance; but even then the quantity
and vehemence more than the quality of his preaching
At all Universalist Conventions for more than half
a century he was the one minister the people could not
excuse from preaching. In his maturer years his
presence in the pulpit at the general convocations
was itself a benediction. He was usually the preacher
reserved till the last; he alone could be trusted to
bring the series of meetings to a fitting culmination.
Rev. Dr. A. A. Miner recalls hearing him^at the New
Hampshire State Convention in 1838. " Tears of joy,"
he wrote, " rolled down the cheeks of the gray-haired
fathers as the hopes of the gospel burned anew in their
hearts." When he had preached at the General Con-
vention in Akron, Ohio, in 1843, an editor of a secular
218 HOSEA BALLOU.
paper said, " No other made the brown faces of the
old farmers so fairly shine with admiration as Father
The many extant sermons of Mr. Ballon are ad-
mirable as specimens of the art of sermon-making.
Unmistakable in statement, without verbal waste, pic-
torial, logical, at every stage intrenched in Scripture,
they are in themselves worthy of careful study. Yet
the notable charm of his pulpit oratory was in his
personal presence. He possessed the manifest attrac-
tions of a simple nature. It was impossible for a can-
did person not to see in him the stamp of sincerity.
His voice, his gestures, his speaking eyes, his mobile
countenance, conveyed the magnetism of spiritual
emotion. These things elude transmission through
the inanimate printed page.
"PARALLEL with the public career of Mr. Ballou
-*- was a home life singularly pure and felicitous.
We are constrained to believe that his visible life
could not have been so heroic, and yielded such be-
neficent public influence, if his heart had not been
constantly nurtured at home.
Only slight glimpses of his domestic experience are
possible to us ; yet these are, fortunately, sufficient for
our understanding of the rare quality of his life at
He fulfils the Psalmist's description of the man who
walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, and is like
a tree planted by the rivers of water. At the roots of
his being he was fed by two rivers. One was the law
of the Lord. This was his unfailing delight. Day
and night it was his joy to meditate upon the endless
theme. The other invisible river was his home. What
Prince Rasselas could not find in courts- or schools or
scenes of revelry, — content, — the poor misanthrope
might have found in Mr. Ballou's household. Here
was the peaceful realm of a true queen. Children's
voices, both in its early and later days, made it musical.
Why need Mr. Ballou, indeed, care for the harsh tones
without, that condemned and traduced, so long as he
had such a fountain of joys at home ? Truly, rivers
220 HOSEA BALLOU.
of water fed the sources of his life, and kept him young
When Ruth Washburn Ballon first claimed our no-
tice, she was, we remember, a bride of seventeen. We
take a peculiar pleasure in reviving the memory of her
wooing. Before she herself appears to have seriously
thought of marriage, she was, we recall, selected by
Rev. Caleb Rich as the wife of our hero, then a bash-
ful young preacher. Mr. Rich pleaded with her not
to be too coy if the lonely young man should confess
his need of her assistance in his rugged pathway of
life. She did not, to be sure, commit herself in ad-
vance ; but we recall her naive confession that when
she, knowing his errand, saw the manly young preacher
approaching her home in company with Mr. Rich, she
heard an inner voice saying, " There is my future com-
panion." She needed no second glance at the blush-
ing young candidate, nor a second message from her
own heart, to convince her that her duty and inclina-
Love at first sight, under such circumstances, is, we
venture to affirm, admirable.
Tradition ascribes to Mrs. Ballon in her youth quite
unusual personal beauty. She was tall, of graceful
form, with light brown hair, blue eyes, and clear com-
plexion. She was in early life an almost ideal New
England girl. Abundant health, a buoyant heart,
and abounding common sense were her conspicuous
traits. She possessed in unusual degree what New
Englanders of her day called "faculty." She could
easily make a comfortable homo on her husband's
Hard wick-Dana salary of five dollars a week, and
be happy as the queen she was. She did not repine
HOME LIFE. 221
at her husband's necessary absences on his appoint-
ments; and she lighted up his home-coming with
Truly, what joy of love flooded the young husband's
To see her bright face in the home-greeting, after a
tussle with the winds and drifts on the hills in the
wintry weather, left him in no doubt that heaven is
a reality. The little piece of it he had in his home
showed him the fibre of it all.
Children were born to the young couple with a
frequency that might have perplexed less trustful
hearts. The gift of children, however, only deepened
the content of the home. It has been a query why
such romantic names were given to the daughters.
We conjecture that they were suggested by the fond
pride of the poetic father. For such daughters, com-
mon names would be by no means appropriate. Of
course not! Cassendana, Mandana, Clementina, Fi-
ducia, — these are the names the delighted father
fancied his unequalled daughters deserved. And
Mrs. Ballon, the happy mother, consented, we assume,
to have her daughters so distinguished, believing the
father would be pleased, and her girls receive no irrep-
arable harm ! Our smile at the paternal pride, good
reader, should be at least respectful ; it may well be
The final count of children born was eleven ; nine
survived infancy and reached maturity.^
1 The children bom to Mr. and Mrs. Ballon, surviving infancy, were
these : Fanny, Oct. 13, 1797 ; Hosea Faxon, April 4, 1799 ; Massena
Berthier, Nov. 28, 1800; Cassendana, Jan. 9, 1803, bom in Dana,
Massachusetts; Mandana, Sept. 17, 1804, bom in Barnard, Vermont;
222 HOSEA BALLOU.
The mother, it will be readily conceived, needed to
look well to the ways of her household. She did not,
to be sure, literally lay her hands to the spindle and
the distaff; by-gone, in her day, in village life, was
domestic spinning and weaving. But of making and
mending, of sewing much and cutting close, there
was no end.
By the time her husband had arrived at Salem, on
his predestined way to Boston, she had become in-
ured to rigid economy. When increase of. salary and
profits from his books made heroic economy no longer
a necessity, the simple and prudent life was for its
own sake preferred.
Through all the strenuous period of the family ex-
perience she was dowered with unfailing health and
cheerfulness. The husband at times, under his burden
of labors, was distraught ; her courage was his tonic.
At one period, early in his Boston ministry, he was
seriously sick : he was for a season almost disheart-
ened ; but she kept courageous, and did more than all
the physicians to bring him back to health and hope.
Mrs. Ballon had, meanwhile, her own trials. Two
new-born children were afterward missed from the
home circle ; not, we may be sure, without pangs of
grief. But she, with Divine aid, ruled her own spirit,
and bravely bore her own burden. Her help to others
was the overflow of her own victory of loving faith.
Beautiful is she in her faithful and contented moth-
erhood. " Her children rise up and call her blessed ;
her husband also, and he praiseth her."
Elmina Ruth, April 80, 1810; Clementina, July 10, 1812; Fiducia,
May 1, 1814, born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Maturin Murray,
April 14, 1820, born in Boston, Massachusetts.
HOME LIFE. 223
As her life neared its close she became yet more
beautiful. The testimony of beholders is uniform as
to the rare grace of her declining years. Her mem-
ory was burdened with no painful regrets. Charity,
good-will, loving-kindness, made her slightly-furrowed
face bloom with an ever-deepening happiness. Her
childlike mildness was combined with decided mental
vigor. " But few such women have ever lived," said
Thomas Whittemore. Her motherhood in her later
years had become a many-jewelled crown. Two of her
sons had become preachers of the faith she loved ; the
youngest was prospering as an author and publisher.
Two of her daughters had married preachers of the
great hope. All her sons and daughters were happy
in their own home relations. Her grandchildren,
numbering in her later days no less than forty, kept
her fresh in the human joy of motherhood.
Beautiful indeed was she in old age; her beauty
Even in this Beulah period, however, she still had
trials. This world is not heaven, and no heavenly
condition can long exist. She lived to take the last
farewell of her oldest daughter. Grandchildren were
taken, and with them faded so much of her human
hope. Not long at any period of her life was she per-
mitted to forget that this is a mortal state.
But her life-joy, while her husband remained by
her side, rose high above her heart-sorrow. Her
wifely love grew more spiritual, trustful, reverential,
as the final home was more nearly approached.
Those often in her presence in her peaceful last days,
seeing her as she sat in her rocking-chair, spectacled,
reading, or in reveries of memory, silently hoping and
224 HOSEA BALLOU.
loving, the picture of an ideal grandmother, some-
times saw her as one who was anticipating by slow
transfiguration the heavenly state.
The devotion of her husband corresponded with
her own. Benjamin B. Whittemore, Esq., a grandson
who spent some years of his youth with his grand-
parents, said to the writer: "My grandfather could
not have been more chivalric toward his wife in their
honeymoon than he was in the last years of his life.
I remember my grandmother as a delightful woman
in my day, companionable, and the confidential friend
of the children."
The husband's devotion was expressed not alone in
words, but in deeds. Prudence, industry, and simple
tastes had, as we have observed, brought the reward
of competency to their natural resting-time. With
characteristic thoughtfulness he desired her to sur-
render to competent younger hands the cares of the -
household. It was therefore arranged that the second
daughter, Cassendana, wife of Joseph Wing, Esq.,
should be the responsible head of the household. For
thirty years Mrs. Wing fulfilled the duties of this
position, which would have been a hard one in most
households, an impossible one in many ; and the
result was all the patriarchal husband and father
anticipated. It was a household absolutely without
jealousies. "A more clieerful and happy home,"
wrote Maturin, "it would be difficult for fancy to
The peaceful happiness of these two intermingled
lives in their last days testifies to the sacredness of
true marriage. It may be that the best success Mr,
Ballou achieved was, after all, in his own home. His
HOME LIFE. 225
life brought to fulfilment the divine promise, " At
evening time it shall be light."
His whole home experience was of the same sub-
stance as the final evenings his son Maturin so graphi-
cally pictures. " How well," he writes, " can we see
him at this moment, in the mind's eye, as he used tp
appear at the centre-table, with his book close to the
lamp, and his wife opposite to him, listening to him
while he was reading aloud to her. Such is almost the
last evening scene we can recall in connection with
him ; his clear, distinct pronunciation, proper empha-
sis, and fine voice, even in old age, seeming to portray
with singular accuracy the author's ideas, and to add
a charm to the subject treated."
We shall not be suspected of having any excess of
regard for Mr. Ballou's rhymes. But, as may be re-
membered, we made some exceptions to our sweeping
verdict. There is, we must persist in thinking, more
poetry in our hero's daily life than in many of his
crude lines. We offer here an illustrative instance.
It is, in our view, poetic to see him, with the gal-
lantry of youth, present to his wife an Autograph
Album, after they had passed their golden wedding-
day. Still more poetic is. it that he should write in
the Album some verses to his wife of more than fifty
years. And the poem itself, we are free to declare,
delights the heart with a grace all its own : —
TO MY WIFE.
Thou dearest of the dear to me,
Of the beloved the best,
Conldst thou but read this heart, and see
The treasures of my breast,
226 HOSEA BALLOU.
Assarance surely would be thine
That undiminished love,
By age grown better, like to ndne,
Can never faithless prove.
Not when the virgin rose of youth
Blushed on thy snowy breast ;
Not when we pledged ourselves in truth.
And were by Hymen blessed,
Could strong affection boast as now
Of such resistless sway,
When age sits wrinkled on my brow.
And mortal powers decay.
The secret of this happy home was its religion. The
religion was not ostentatious ; it was not made onerous
with forms. " Before the noonday meal on the Sab-
bath," writes his son, " with his family assembled
about the board, he always asked the Divine blessing
ill an impressive manner ; but on no other day was he
accustomed to do so aloud." Religion was real in the
household ; its spirit pervaded all amusements as well
as duties. Mr. Ballon was himself, when with children,
exceedingly playful. He accorded children their full
rights. He governed his household in the spirit of
his faith. The rules he wrote for Christian parents,
he proved in his own home to be divinely wise.
" When giving your children commands, be careful that
you speak with a becoming dignity, as if not only the right
but the wisdom also to command was with you. Be cautious
never to give your commands in a loud voice or in haste.
When you have occasion to rebuke, be careful to do it with
manifest kindness. When you are obliged to deny the re-
quest that your child may make, do not allow yourself to do
this with severity. It is enough for the dear little ones to be
denied what they want, without being nearly knocked down
HOME LIFE. 227
with a sharp voice ringing in their tender ears. You will
find they will imbibe your spirit and manners. They will
treat each other as you treat them. If you speak harshly,
they will, when they have formed their habits, treat you with
unkind and unbecoming replies. If you treat your little
ones with tenderness, you will fix love in their hearts ; they
will love you and each other ; they will imitate the conver-
sation they have heard from the tenderest friends children
have on earth."
Mr. Ballou's home life was fashioned after a deeply-
meditated plan. His own childhood had been full of
austerities ; his little heart in those years must often
have ached under the government of a religion of
hate and fear. But in his maturity and old age he
had such sympathy witli children, and drank with
them so gladly at the same fountain, that he re-
deemed for himself the natural childhood of which
he was in his early years defrauded. He became the
leader of children through friendship, as well as their
parent exercising authority. And what love he won
from his children ; what glad obedience they gave him !
" The idea is perhaps an extravagant one," wrote Rev.
Sebastian Streeter, " but I have often thought that his
house was the nearest fac-simile of the great mansion
of the Infinite Father on high, of which I could form a
This home is in visible form now no more in the
earth. The writer has passed through Blossom Street,
peering at all the houses, because he knew that in
some one of them Mr. Ballon first made his home
in Boston; knowing that in the walk up and down
he must pass the door at which Thomas Whittemore,
when an unlettered boot-maker's apprentice, stood
228 HOSEA BALLOU.
and knocked. The writer has also, under guidance
of Dr. Paige, gazed long at the house at the head
of Garden Street, with the external staircase, where
the Ballou family was living wlien Dr. Paige was a
student with his spiritual father. The writer has
also lingered in front of No. 24 Myrtle Street,
where Mr. Ballou established his last home on earth.
To revive in imagination the domestic life once lived
under that roof, was more than the gratification of
an idle whim; it was a heart-offei'ing at a worthy
shrine. With such a spell on us as was ours while
reading Frederika Bremer's exquisite home-story,
"Neighbors," and was again ours when we read
Goethe's "Hermann and Dorothea," we stood before
the visible remains of this real home which almost
transcends the beauty of romance.
The home itself is now a memory; yet its spirit
must, while the world endures, be reproduced in every
household that truly realizes the Divine Fatherhood
in domestic life.
TN due time age proffered to Mr. Ballou its trials
-*• and triumphs.
Soon after he was seventy he received an unam-
biguous hint that he was growing old. Certain mem-
bers of his parish urged the settling of a colleague.
This to another man might in itself have been a griev-
ance. For it was not, be it marked, the offer of an
associate to do the pastoral drudgery. It was rather
the suggestion that a young man divide with him the
honors and emoluments of his office. But Mr. Ballou
beheld the situation without grief. Whatever prom-
ised to promote the welfare of his loved people could
meet no opposition from him. He would not have
hesitated himself to retire from the pastorate if he
could have seen in the act a prophecy of new prosper-
ity for the parish. Nevertheless, when the subject
was brought to a vote, it was made manifest that a
decisive majority of the society had undiminished re-
gard for their old pastor, and held to him in his' ma-
turity as vines to a supporting oak. He was assured
that any wish he would express in regard to the
matter should be eagerly granted. He had learned,
however, the important life-lesson of coming down
without giving up. The cordiality with which he
joined the minority in asking for a colleague makes
it doubtful whether the act cost him even a struggle*
230 HOSEA BALLOU.
Rev. T. C. Adam became temporary junior pastor.
May 1, 1841 ; but the experiment of a substitute for
Mr. Ballon was not in the first instance successful. Mr.
Adam remained only a few months. For three years
more Mr. Ballon, with occasional aid of various minis-
terial brethren, fulfilled the duties of the pastorate.
April 8, 1844, Rev. H. B. Soule became experimental
junior pastor of the society, and held the position
nearly two years. Mr. Soule was devoted and gifted ;
he regarded Mr. Ballon with reverence, and appre-
ciated the greatness of his genius ; and Mr. Ballon was
as helpful as possible to him in his trying position.
Yet it was plainly discovered that it was Mr. Ballou
the people wished to hear preach. He was still the
magnet at School Street.
When Mr. Soule had gone, the question was asked,
if any man could maintain himself as junior pastor
under Mr. Ballou. It was then that shrewd eyes were
turned across Charles River ; in Charlestown they saw
a young man who was stirring the elements. It was
assumed that Rev. E. H. Chapin, if he would accept
the position of junior preacher, would not be overshad-
owed by his veteran associate. But this meteor-star,
this poet-preacher, was known to be expensive. He
lived a rapt life, in utter disregard of the common
economics. Mr. Ballou, the frugal, thrifty man, could
hardly be expected to favor such a privilege of genius.
That the young man disagreed with him on the ques-
tion of future punishment, and was outspoken in his
convictions, did not appear to lessen the veteran's re-
gard. But he was frank to say the young man should
not be pecuniarily so extravagant. Nevertheless, he
so esteemed the young spendthrift that he made the
TOWARD EVENING. 235
first edition of the book was needlessly enlarged by a
collection of his rhymes made from newspapers and
magazines by a hand other than his own. This collec-
tion was very properly omitted in the second edition.
We claim the right to see Mr. Ballon at his best. He
was a voluminous writer ; he almost always wrote well
in prose, and almost always wrote ill in rhyme. His
rhymes would have fulfilled their proper mission if
they had not been raised from their graves in the old
newspapers and magazines. It was a resurrection to
condemnation. The book comprehended " A General
Epistle to Universalists," full of excellent exhortation;
" Advice to Young Men who design to enter the Min-
istry," embracing paternal advice based on his own
long experience. In one article he attempts to un-
ravel the problem of problems. His theory is stated
in the title, " The Utility of Evil." In this essay he
maintains that evil is a resultant of prior good ; " if
we say that the cause which produced evil was evil, we
thereby say that evil existed before it existed ; " and
again, that good will continue after evil is no more.
He gives many scriptural exemplifications of evil be-
coming useful. He does not commit the error of
maintaining that evil is good, or good evil, but declares
the permanence of good and the evanescence of evil.
The logic exhibited in this production of his pen is
worthy an Edwards. The remarkable title of the
article seems fully justified. It is noteworthy that
the veteran, under the weight of almost eighty years,
should begin such a profound speculative study; it
is not less noteworthy that he treats it with a per-
spicuity and vigor he could not have surpassed in
236 HOSEA BALLOU.
When he drew near the completion of his eightieth
year, Nov. 10, 1850, he preached a valedictory ser-
mon. It was not his last sermon, nor designed to
be ; but the last which he committed to writing, and
the one he purposed to preach under such responsi-
bility as he would feel if it were known to him to be
his final utterance. His appropriate text was 2 Peter
i. 15 : "I will endeavor that ye may be able, after my
decease, to have these things constantly in remem-
brance." It is a review of his ministry, and of the
doctrines he had rejected and the doctrines he had
preached. He strenuously maintains the Divine Sov-
ereignty as the solvent of all theoretic problems.
In treating of one point, however, he seems to us
to lapse a little from his usual high courtesy and can-
dor. " Of late, the writer of this," he says, *' has seen
an inclination in some of the professed teachers of
Universalism to adopt some of the peculiar opinions
of our Unitarian fraternity. . . . Among other things is
the opinion that men carry into the next world the im-
perfections of this ; so that their moral condition here-
after will depend on the characters they form while
here in the flesh ; while it is affirmed that they may,
and will, improve and progress in virtue and holiness
in the spirit world." We think Mr. Ballon is here a
little unlike himself. It was no doubt natural for him
to regret the admitted tendency of the denomination
away from the doctrine of exclusive earthly penalties,
of which doctrine he had been the champion for thirty
years ; but it was not like him to even suspect that
this tendency was for strategic reasons designedly
toward Unitarianism. It was in fact toward a doc-
trine he had himself believed during half liis min-
TOWAKD EVENING. 237
istrj; We observe that when Mr. Ballou comes to
this point in his valedictory sermon, he for the
first time in the discourse oecomes tangled in his ian»
guage. He says of the doctrine that there will be
penal effects of sin beyond death: "This opinion
being rather newly adopted, and as it seems to ingra-
tiate them in the favor of Unitarians, it is quite nat-
ural for such preachers to devote not a small share of
public labor to lead the minds of their hearers to the
adoption of such views of the future state." We do
not remember another instance where he tries so hard
to say so simple a thing. He apparently means to say
that some of his brethren, merely to please Unitarians,
preach too often immature opinions as to the future
life. With this exception the valedictory sermon is
worthy its author.
We would be glad to think that this exceptional pas-
sage, in which is seeming want of courtesy, was in-
tended as a facetious reference to Dr. Ballou. This
careful scholar, in the " Quarterly " of the preceding
January, had published an article in which he had
stated that* the great change of the denomination
under Hosea Ballou was to Unitarianism. He main-
tained that there had been three marked changes in
the doctrinal tendencies of the Universalist denomina-
tion. " The first," he says, " occurred about the com-
mencement of the present century, when the former
doctrines of the Trinity, of the vicarious or penal
character of Christ's death, of Antinomianism, began
to give way to Unitarian views on these points." This
was of course a virtual statement that Hosea Ballou
had led the denomination into Unitarianism. " The
second took place between the years 1817 and 1824,
238 HOSEA BALLOU.
when the tendency, which had been long increasing,
to confine sin and its evil consequences to this life,
assumed a more determinate character, and became
predominant. The third change, if it prove to be
general, may be said to have begun within a few of
the last years, when the current of opinion has run
more strongly in favor of a moral connection of the
present life with the future, and when the sharp out-
lines of doctrine in general have been softened down,
if not sometimes obliterated, to say nothing of certain
movements occasioned by the rationalistic and tran-
scendental tendencies without." Of the existence of
this last-named tendency, Mr. Ballon, senior, had pre-
viously expressed doubts ; now, in his valedictory
sermon he admits its existence, but makes the ap-
parently serious objection that it is toward Unita-
rianism. The pioneer of Unitarianism in America
ought to have been in a facetious mood when he thus
implied horror of a tendency toward Unitarianism.
If, however, the denomination in his last days was
departing from his doctrinal standard, it surely was
not in any degree losing its reverential love for its
great pioneer preacher.
"I had hoped," said Hon. Israel Washburn, Jr.,
while presiding at the Universalist Reform Festival
in 1851, "to see here that good old soldier. Father
Ballou, who has done more for the cause of Christian
truth than any other man living. We may not all
agree with all his distinctiveness, but we can all
honor, respect, and esteem him." The statesman
voiced the sentiment which pervaded the entire Uni-
Near this time Mr. Ballou preached one Sunday in
TOWARD EVENING. 239
Charlestown. " To look upon that venerable form,"
wrote one describing the occasion, " which, like some
aged tree having stood the blasts for many years
begins to yield and bow its head, and upon those
snowy locks whitened with the frosts of eighty win-
ters, and then to reflect that for so long a period all
his time, talents, energy, his very heart and soul, have
been devoted to the glorious cause in which he is still
engaged, conveyed a silent lesson to the heart, as
impressive as it was beautiful." In every Universal-
ist congregation he was in like manner revered.
The Universalist Reform Festival of 1851, of which
mention has been made, was one of a series famous
in the history of New England Universalism. An
intense spirit of humanitarian reform, especially as
regards slavery, intemperance, war, and capital punish-
ment, was kindled in the Universalist Church. The
people who exalted the Fatherhood of God and the
Brotherhood of Man as cardinal doctrines of Chris-
tianity were naturally susceptible to human appeals.
On Anniversary Week — the last week in May — va-
rious reform associations held meetings, and in 1847
the meetings culminated in a Reform Festival. It
was a breakfast in a small hall, about two hundred
being present. No extended report of this first fes-
tival was preserved. The presiding oflBcer was Hon.
Richard Frothingham ; with him appears one other
layman in the list of speakers. The clerical speakers
were Revs. C. H. Fay, A. A. Miner, J. G. Adams, Syl-
vanus Cobb, Henry Bacon, E. H. Chapin, S. Streeter,
J. S. Dennis, J. M. Spear. Last on the list was Ho-
sea Ballon. Mr. Chapin, at this time his colleague,
then as ever the peerless after-dinner orator, in an
240 IIOSEA BALLOU.
apostrophe to the Universalist pioneers thrilled and
enraptured all present. Mr. Ballou was in feeble
health, and spoke briefly, yet appropriately brought
all previous speeches to a practical application. He
was in sympathy with every reform which promised
progress. In closing, he expressed the hope that the
Reform Festival, then inaugurated, would become an
institution among Uuiversalists, and that a larger hall
would in future be secured to accommodate the hun-
dreds who would be present. The desire he ex-
pressed was, while he lived, yearly fulfilled.
In 1848 the Festival took the form of a dinner in
the spacious Boylston Hall. Mr. Ballou had an en-
gagement in the country which necessitated his leav-
ing while the intellectual festivities were in progress.
He remained, however, to speak some wise words on
reform, as having its basis in true religion and to be
effected under Divine guidance. He exhorted his
young brethren, some of whom had advocated icono-
clastic sentiments, not to undervalue good things be-
cause they are old. "We use the same numerals
now," he said, " that were used of old, and the first
principles of numeration and multiplication still hold
good. We find use for the same sun, moon, and stars
now which people used to see thousands of years ago.
Do not cast everything behind you. Do not suppose
that you are going to surprise your Maker by any
operation you can perform." This sentence, pro-
nounced with an inimitable mingling of simplicity and
drollery, convulsed the audience; again and again,
as the venerable speaker attempted to proceed,^ the
applause and merriment were renewed. He con-
cluded by reminding the audience of their all-inclusive
TOWARD EVENING. 241
hope, and remarking that he must not miss the cars,
he expressed in parting his desire that if he should
never be permitted to meet with them again on the
earth, they might all see God's glory together in eter-
nity. As he left the hall, a solemn hush was on the
assembly. Mr. Chapin, the peerless, was the one re-
maining speaker. He spoke in reverential terms of
the veteran, from whom he was then separating as a co-
laborer ; of the kindness and consideration the father
in Israel had uniformly shown to him ; of the conserv-
atism of the old warrior, which was not inconsistent
with any reasonable promise of progress. " He is con-
servative," he said, " hut he will never be too late for the
cars ! " The pat allusion was of course irresistible.
The Festival of 1849 was also held in Boylston Hall,
and was so like that of the preceding year as to need
no separate description. That of 1850 was again a
repetition of its predecessors, with some distinguish-
ing characteristics. The name of Rev. Thomas Starr
King appears among the speakers. The sensation of
the day was the speech of Rev. T. B. Thayer, touching
the work accomplished by Universalists. "Behold,"
he said, " what has already been done by Universalists !
See that old patriarch out there ! " pointing to Mr.
Ballou, who sat at the head of the hall. Great cheer-
ing followed this allusion to the venerable presence.
" What a noble work has he done ! We are all heart-
ily glad to see him here to-day. Let us follow bis ex-
ample. His place at these festivals will by and by
be vacant, for he must depart ; and when he goes it
will be like the falling of a mighty oak in the midst of
the forest, when, from the echoes, it would seem as if
every tree far and near had taken up a wailing for its
242 HOSEA BALLOU.
fall. But we hope he will be with us many years yet."
Then, directly addressing the aged patriarch, he said :
" And when at last thou shalt depart, return to us ;
come again, after thou art gone, in the influence of thy
gentle spirit, in the power of thy undauntable resolu-
tion, in thine example, and in the energy of that good
old heart of oak." Indescribable the emotion of the
audience on the utterance of these words of prophecy.
When, a few moments afterward, Mr. Ballou was
called up, and in the midst of repeated cheers began
to speak, he said : " It is the privilege of old age to be
garrulous and egotistical. I will endeavor to guard
against this habit of the aged ; but I will say a little
about my self, — I cannot leave myself out altogether."
This clause, pronounced in his peculiar style, caused
great merriment. " I have been compared to the old
oak that is just ready to fall in the forest ; but per-
haps that old oak, if you get it ignited, will make as
much fire as even green wood,'^^ This may have been a
pun, — his only known offence of this sort, — as Rev.
Thomas J. Greenwood sat close to him, among the
veterans. There was prolonged hilarity in the audi-
ence, ending in cheers. " Looking backward sixty
years," he said, on resuming his speech, " I can see how
much the cause of true reform has progressed. It has
gone on so effectually that even the old partial God in
whom the theologians believed has got reformed. He
is so changed that the old clergy, if they were to hear
him described now, would not know him. Our heavenly
Father has become a real Father. The Bibl6 has felt
the reform. Wliat was thought to be hostile to Uni-
versalism is now seen to be favorable to that doctrine.
All sects seem coming to harmonize on the great truths
TOWARD EVENING. 243
of the paternity of God and the brotherhood of man."
In this strain he made a quite lengthy address.
As implied in the words quoted from Hon. Israel
Washburn, Jr., he was not present at the Festivj^l in
1851. It is probable he was then absent in the
At the time of the Festival of 1852 his wife was
prostrated with a serious sickness. He was reluctant
to leave her bedside; but in response to an urgent
appeal from his brethren, seconded by members of his
own family, he was prevailed upon to leave his wife
in the care of those whose solicitude was like his
own, that he might add to the pleasure of those
who were scarcely less dear than his nearest kindred.
That day Boylston Hall was splendidly decorated
with flags, pennons, and festoons. Benjamin F.
Tweed, Esq., was the presiding officer. At the pro-
nouncing of the words " Father Ballou," as sponsor
for the sentiment, "Our denominational fathers, We
honor them for what they were and are, and for what
their glorious life-power shall be in the strife and pro-
gress of the future," there was long-continued cheer-
ing, which was immediately hushed to perfect silence
when the patriarch began to speak. "- 1 am an old
man," he said ; " I avail myself of the privilege of an
old man, — to be a child. ' Once a man, twice a child.'
I remember the child of long ago. That child was
fond of praise, and loved to be petted and called a
good boy. Now I am an old man, yet find myself the
same boy, and of course I love to be praised now.
Well, I have said enough about myself, and will turn
to something of more importance. I am to speak
about reformation, or [turning to the president] is
244 HOSEA BALLOU.
the word ' progress ' ? [The president stated that the
word was progress.] Ah, I like that better ; it does
not imply that I have been wrong. Progress ! I am
well posted on that. Certain Scriptures relating to
progress come to my mind. I recall the * handful of
corn upon the top of the mountain ; the fruit thereof
shall shake like Lebanon.' This was progress. The
same law of progress is seen in the Savior's metaphors
of the leaven hidden in the meal, and of the mustard-
seed. I saw the Universalist denomination when it
was like that handful of corn upon the top of a sterile
mountain ; I saw it when it was a grain of mustard-
seed ; and I have seen it as I see it this day. Does
not the increase shake like Lebanon ? I have lived to
realize, and be confident, that there is not an opposer
of Universalism in the world who is not at heart a
Universalist. And how long do you suppose they can
keep out of their heads that which is in their hearts ?"
As he sat down, the whole assembly rose as by one
impulse, and gave three cheers. And afterward, when
Rev. B. M. Tillotson, in response to a sentiment com-
plimentary of New Hampshire, said of Mr. Ballou,
" That brave old oak," — modulating his voice to ten-
derness and repeating, — " that brave old oak was
transplanted to Massachusetts from the New Hamp-
shire fields," there was a spontaneous rising all over
the hall, with cheers, and waving of scarfs and
Such unfeigned gratitude and devotion helped to
make light the even-time of the honored prophet of
hope. The deeper night-shadows, nevertheless, were
coming on apace. "The night cometh; also the
VISIT TO THE OLD HOME.
Period, 1851. Age, 80.
•ppRIDAY, Oct. 10, 1861, Mr. Ballou was on the
-'- Cheshire rail-train journeying toward Richmond.
He had left his wife with a married daughter at Lan-
caster, Massachusetts ; invisible company attended him
on this pilgrimage to his heart's early shrine.
The rail-track on which he was travelling had been
but recently laid. The little box-car in which he was
seated was no doubt a great improvement on the stage-
coach it had superseded; but as compared with the
luxurious rail-carriages of the trunk-lines of later
years, it was as a dump-wagon to a liveried Central
Park turnout. This plain railroading- was to our
traveller entirely satisfactory. He did not feel as
vigorous as in the days fifty, even sixty years before,
when he had driven his own horse over the same
journey. He could then enjoy a chaise-ride through
this rugged hill-country. Now, he was whitened with
age. He was still reputed to be hale. It was often
said of him, as of Moses, "his eye was not dim, nor
his natural force abated ; " but he unmistakably bore
in his frame the weight of more than eighty years.
When he was in the glow of preaching, it is true, he
seemed almost youthful in his enthusiasm. But in re-
pose, especially when in deep meditation, the wrinkles
246 HOSEA BALLOU. [1851.
on his face were deep ; there was visible shrinkage of
his form, prefiguring the great transformation. He
was more easily wearied than in other years. In
his early life, in an exigency, he had driven in his
chaise from Boston to Richmond in one day. He
must now be more moderate in his endeavors. Rail-
roads at this time were comparatively new. He was
quite sixty years old before the first tramway was
constructed for a steam-locomotive. Pleasant now
to go over the old route in such comfort! He had
always had a kindly thought for the horse that had
drawn him up the steep hills. He need waste no
sympathy on the unwearying iron horse now drawing
his carriage. On the whole, this modern wonder, the
railroad, added vastly to the aged man's comfort.
And he was going back to his childhood's home !
In former years it was for him a heart-necessity to
frequently visit the old place; but in more recent
years the old home had become but little better than
a memorial of bereavements. It had now been some
years since he had made a pilgrimage to the scenes
of his childhood.
At the little village of Fitzwilliam he left the rail-
road. His cousin, Luke Harris, a kindred spirit, was
waiting to take him to his hospitable home. Of the
old stock, Mr. Harris was his nearest living relative.
All the brothers and sisters of Mr. Ballou had fol-
lowed their parents to the "silent land." It was
indeed natural it should be so. Hosea was the young-
est of the old family ; he was himself now past eighty
years of age. It is remarkable that not a relative of
the name of Ballou was left in the old town.
In our narrative we are held rigidly to the proved
iET. 80.] VISIT TO THE OLD HOME. 247
facts ; nevertheless, with our mind's eye we see the
greeting, not effusive but sincere, between these aged
remnants of a generation gone. Mr. Harris regarded
his famous relative with fervid affection. To grasp
his hand was an epoch in his life.
The ride to Richmond was through a country since
but little changed. The time, we must not forget, was
early October. The atmosphere was crisp, clear, and
invigorating. The hills, in autumnal gold and scarlet
and crimson, were like dream-pictures. The golden-
rod and wild aster bloomed by the roadside. In the
woods, the beeches, maples, ashes, and birches mingled
their brilliant hues with the many-shaded green of
pines, hemlocks, balsams, and spruces. From each
hill-brow was a scene to make heart-revelling for an
artist. Some years before, when riding one October
day with his son Maturin on a hill overlooking the
Connecticut valley, he asked his son, who was holding
the reins, to draw up the horse. Among the words he
then uttered, his son recorded these : " What a mild
and holy religion is breathed by Nature in such a
scene as this ! It teaches no terror, no gloom ; it rouses
no fierce passions in the heart ; it is calm, it is forgiv-
ing." Nature's benediction and Divine forgiveness are
indeed of nearer kindred than our unpoetic theology
has always admitted. Mr. Ballon had a rare love for
the beautiful in Nature. He was appreciative of the
strikingly brilliant in colors, and had pleasure in all
the finer tints. At Niagara, when he beheld the rain-
bow over the cataract, and through a prism saw the
strange combination of the flashing iris-hues, his de-
light was that of a rapt spirit. " My soul ! my soul ! "
he exclaimed, as Thomas Whittemore reminded him
248 HOSEA BALLOU. [1851.
that they must linger no longer," how can 1 leave this
But now, we suspect, he saw all the autumnal color-
ing on his journey to his old home with scarcely
more than a passing remark. Poor and constrained
is speech to one under the spell of teeming memories.
The journey lay through the village of Richmond.
The town had changed since his boyhood, but mainly
in ceasing to be a new settlement and maturing to aa
old New England village. In population and thrift
there had been no progress. The streams had not
attracted manufacturing enterprise from abroad, nor
awakened it among the citizens. Hillside farms which
were once cultivated, and sustained homesteads, had
been abandoned, and were returning to their original
On entering the village, at his right he saw the
Universalist church, which he afterward described as
" respectable for size, conveniently constructed, neat
in appearance ; " while of • the society worshipping
therein he said, " It is not very numerous, but more
so than any other denomination in town ; and better-
disposed disciples of the Divine Master are seldom
found." Farther on, at his left, he saw the old
Baptist church in which his father preached. Thirty-
one years afterward, Aug. 20, 1882, Rev. Dr. G. H.
Emerson saw this building. "It is," wrote Dr. Emer-
son, "black with age. It seems hardly strong enough
to keep timber and board and shingle together. The
very sight of it takes us back to a former and very
primitive age. The glass is held to the sash by bits
of tin ; the putty long since got tired and ' let go.'
We cannot enter, but we can look through the win*
iET.80.] VISIT TO THE OLD HOME. 249
dows. On the north side is the great square pine
pulpit, possibly one that never knew the smell of
paint. The square pews have high seats, from which
only tolerably long limbs can touch the knotty floor.
There is no grace of form, no cunning device of archi-
tect, nothing to woo a trained fancy. In and of itself,
it is a hulk that only cumbers the ground." Yet Dr.
Emerson confesses that " because nearly a century be-
fore, Rev. Maturin Ballon preached in the pine pulpit,
and among his regular auditors, possibly the most
thoughtful of all, his little legs dangling from the
rough benches, sat his youngest son Hosea," he was
moved to "look often, long, and spellbound upon the
wretched old rookery." As Mr. Ballon in 1852 saw
this meeting-house, it had much of the same decrepit
But what a memorial was this uncouth building to
him ! Are we unfaitlrful to probability when we say
that the strange light his acquaintances sometimes
saw in his glance — he at such times seeming to live
apart from his bodily presence — now came into his
eyes as he while passing looked upon his first church
The journey led a mile and a half beyond the vil-
lage, through the farm on which he was born. With
eager eyes he looked at his old home. His precise
birthplace was marked only by a mass of rocks and
a ruined cellar ; the renovated house near by was the
same as his birthplace, yet not the same. In exter-
nal form it was as in his boyhood, a goodly-sized one-
story cottage. The original frame-timbers were in
the new structure. The immense central chimney,
at the base of which the log-fire blazed, in the light of
250 HOSEA BALLOU. [1861.
which he had in the far-away winter evenings learned
to read, had furnished the material for the three small
chimneys of tlie remodelled house. New windows of
modern style added some briskness of appearance to
the substantial farm-house. The barn and the corn-
house, however, at the rear, had been spared any
modernizing touch. Mr. Ballou, we may be sure,
at a glance noted all these things.
Then he saw Grassy Hill at the east, at the foot
of which his old home nestled, up the side of which
the Ballou farm reached. He looked at the other
hills, which make his birthplace a natural amphi-
theatre ; he noted the fields of the plain, and Ashue-
lot's and Miller's gleaming waters. What was his
emotion ? His pen recorded : " All around lay the
hills and mountains, the valleys and streams, which I
always carry with me on the map of fond memory.
But where were the father, the mother, the brothers
and sisters, who watched over my infancy and guided
my youth ? " His reply to this question, which was
born of his sense of human loneliness, was the brief,
triumphant Christian answer, " In heaven." He had
a joy in his confident faith deeper than the profound
sorrow of his human solitariness.
He arrived at the house of his host, not far froih the
Ballou farm. Here he received sucli cordial greeting
and kindly attentions as brought back to him a little
of the home feeling. It was an event for Luke Har-
ris's sons and daughters to have " Uncle Hosea " with
them once more. They were in the vigor of manhood
and womanhood ; some of them had homes of their
own near by ; they were such estimable relatives as
the simple-hearted old man regarded with affectionate
^T. 80.] VISIT TO THE OLD HOME. 251
pride, and he was held by them in loving reverence.
It was now more than pleasure to have him in their
midst: it was comfort. Two daughters of the fam-
ily had one after the other been recently consigned
to the grave. The home circle was yet under the
dread shadow. Who like " Uncle Hosea " could speak
the word of divine cheer, and bring peace to the
troubled hearts ? By ministering to their grief he
lessened his own.
In the evening, Rev. Joshua Britton came to offer
his greeting to his parishioner's distinguished guest.
Mr. Britton was the Universalist pastor at Richmond.
In early life he had been a teacher, and had made
an extensive acquaintance with books; he had been
brought from Presbyterianism to acceptance of the
world-wide hope, and had obeyed the inner call to tes-
tify to the light that was in him ; he was now in mid-
life fulfilling a pastorate divided between Richmond
and Winchester. He was a mild and loving man, of
marked spirituality. When he died, at Fort Atkinson,
Wisconsin, Oct. 30, 1878, in his seventy-sixth year, he
left an untarnished name as a legacy to the church.
By his assiduous attentions he contributed greatly
to Mr. Ballou's satisfaction during this visit to his
old home. He had given notice in his pulpit, on
the preceding Sunday, of the probability of Father
Ballou's preaching in that church the Sunday follow-
ing. Would Father Ballou fulfil the expectation which
had been raised ? Yes, gladly would he do so. To
fulfil this purpose he had refused all other proffered
He inquired of the local pastor for one after an-
other of his old friends. " How is Brother Luther
252 HOSEA BALLOU. [1851.
Cook ? " he asked, referring to one of the veterans of
the faith he held in special regard. " Did you not
know Father Cook has passed on ? " Other sorrow-
ful surprises came to him as he was told of com-
panions of his boyhood having finished the earthly
journey. He expressed a wish to go the next day to
such of the bereaved homes as he could visit ; and
with Mr. Britton he spent Saturday in the ministry of
sympathy and divine comfort.
Going with Mr. Britton to the churcli on Sunday,
he found the edifice filled with expectant people to the
last inch of its space. Such an audience had rarely
before been seen in the little country town. Accus-
tomed as Mr. Ballon was to crowds, this was to him a
surprise. He looked over his congregation. So much
had he travelled through the country, preaching the
Word, that in almost every town he had esteemed ac-
quaintances. He afterward recalled people in this
congregation from Swansea, a company from Fitzwil-
liam, representatives from Troy, Warwick, Royalston,
Orange, and Winchester. It was a testimony of the
extent to which his fame had gone abroad. He was
one of the exceptional prophets who live to be hon-
ored in their own country. " I beheld this large
assembly," he afterward wrote, " all of whom seemed
moved with one spirit, every countenance presenting
the same expression of desire and expectation."
How inspiring the sight of such a congregation!
But while the preacher looked at this throng of eager
faces, it all, by a process not strange, vanished from
his vision. He saw instead a little evening assembly
in a private dwelling ; he saw a boy essaying to preach
— and failing ! He himself tells his story : " I could
JEt. 80.] VISIT TO THE OLD HOME. 253
not avoid a comparison between what I then saw, with
the condition of the cause of divine truth sixty years
ago, when I first attempted to speak in its defence in
a private dwelling in this Richmond. Then, but few
could be collected to hear the impartial and sufficient
grace of the Redeemer proclaimed and defended."
Of his last sermons in Richmond no report has been
preserved. He brought from his treasury, it is safe to
infer, things both old and new. His reminiscences
were not gloomy ; his hope made all hearts buoyant.
To behold the old victor in the pulpit, so simple, so
paternal, so cheerful, peacefully awaiting his crown of
life, was itself a sermon ; it was the Word made mani-
fest. There can be no doubt of the truth of Mr. Brit-
ton's testimony, — " It was a happy day for us all."
On Monday morning, in company with Mr. Brit-
ton, he resumed his calls upon his former townspeo-
ple. He was solicitous that none, however distant,
who he believed would receive profit or pleasure in
his presence should be neglected. Where need of
comfort was manifest, he fulfilled the holy offices of
his loved profession. To those who told him of their
faith-problems or religious hindrances he gave wise
counsel. He showed a friendly interest in the welfare
of all. " Those not acquainted with Father Ballon,"
wrote Mr. Britton, " can hardly conceive of the ease
and success with which he familiarly approached all,
the young, the middle-aged, and the aged."
It was the time of apple-gathering. When he found
farmers at work in their orchards, he would go among
them, seeming to take peculiar interest in their em-
ployment. When the best specimens of the orchard-
fruitage were offered to him, he courteously declined
254 HOSEA BALLOU. [185i;
to taste them. He had regular and temperate habits
in eating ; but there was one notable exception to this
rule of the day. Mr. Britton accompanied him to the
old Ballon liomestead ; the owner, like his neighbors,
was at work in his orchard. Mr. Ballou, on seeking
-^him there, was greeted with the same heartiness with
which he was everywhere received. An invitation
was given to the two clergymen to remain and dine,
and was accepted. Before dinner Mr. Ballou, with
his companion, wandered about the orchard. Some
of the oldest of the trees were unforgotten friends of
liis boyhood. He needed no invitation to eat of their
golden offerings. " We walked about and found ap-
ples," says Mr. Britton, " of which my companion ate."
What other orchard-fruitage, or apples of Hesperides,
could compare with the juicy yield of these well-remem-
bered trees ?
" We visited the old burying-ground, and stood by
the graves of the parents of my aged companion," Mr.
Britton writes. While standing by these grass-grown
graves in the burial-plot on the hillside, it is not un-
likely his memory was too busy for speech. Here was
the dust of the mother who had been an ideal blending
into a heavenly hope through all his remembered years.
Here also was the dust of the tender-liearted father,
who under hard necessities had striven to fulfil both
a father's and a mother's duty to the motherless boy.
Sacred their ashes ! On a previous visit, in 1843, in
company with his son, Rev. Massena B. Ballou, when
standing by the moss-grown slabs in the rank grass,
he had said: "I believe I could sleep more sweetly
here, among the hills of Cheshire, by the side of my
early home and kindred, than in the grounds of Mt.
y:<:T. 80.] VISIT TO THE OLD HOME. 256
Auburn." Yet he thought not of his dearly-loved
parents as tenants of these graves. With full assur-
ance his heart recalled them as living and united in
Three busy days he happily spent visiting the com-
panions and scenes of his youth.
Before one farm-house door a group of friends was
gathered. The spot commanded a full view of Ballou
Dell and Grassy Hill, mellow yet radiant with autum-
nal tints. Could Father Ballou recall some verses he
had once written, entitled "My Native Richmond?"
Yes, easily ; they were favorite verses of his, and had
often been sung in his home by his children, with an
instrumental accompaniment, to the tune of Dumbar-
ton's " Bonny Belle." Could Father Ballou repeat the
verses from memory ? It was a severe test for an old
man, but he would try. Without hesitancy, his counte-
nance expressing intense poetic delight, with a grace-
ful waving of the hand toward the Dell and Grassy
Hill at the appropriate places, he recited these lyrical
words : —
MY NATIVE RICHMOND.
There are no hills in Hampshire New,
Nor valleys half so fair,
As those outspread before our view
In happy Richmond, where
I first my mortal race began.
And spent ray youthful days ;
Where first I saw the golden sun,
And felt his cheering rays.
There is no spot in Richmond where
Fond memory loves to dwell,
As on the glebe outspreading there.
The home-place at the Dell.
256 UOSEA BALLOU. 11861.
There are no birds which sing so sweet
As those upon the spray,
Where from the brow of Grassy Hill
Comes forth the morning ray.
Unnumbered flowers, the pride of spring,
Are born to flourish there,
And round their mellow odors fling
On all the ambient air ;
There i)urling streams have charms for me
Which vulgar brooks ne'er give ;
And winds breathe sweeter down the lea
Than where magnolias live.
So passed the happy week till Friday, when he was
conveyed to Winchester, to renew acquaintance with
old friends there, and on the following Sunday preach
in the church where the Confession was adopted forty-
eight years before. A cold, stormy, dreary Sunday
was in strong contrast with the beautiful Sunday
preceding. He came back on Tuesday to Richmond,
seemingly loath to take what he felt would be his last
parting with his native town. On Tuesday, with Mr.
Britton, he visited some friends he had not before seen
in their homes.
When asked if he should visit Richmond again he
uniformly replied : " Should life be spared, and my
health continue as good as at present, I think I may."
There was, however, doubt implied in his tone. Still,
he was cheerful. He had no aptitude for scenes or
final farewells. His last evening in Richmond was
spent in the company of happy young people at a
singing-school in the Universaliat Church. He had,
as we have noted, never been himself a singer, yet he
had pleasure in simple melodies. The old man was
as young in his heart as the youngest.
^T. 80.] VISIT TO THE OLD HOME. 257
He spent the night with Mr. Britton; the next
day he was conveyed to Fitzwilliam, rejoined his wife
at Lancaster, and came back to his home in Boston ;
having in liis pilgrimage to Richmond enacted a poem
of the heart inferior to none ever clothed in the
rhythmic words of the poets.
THROUGH DARKNESS TO LIGHT.
/^N Wednesday, June 2, 1862, the Massachusetts
^^ Convention of Universalists is in session iu
Meetings of this body at this period are gala sea-
sons. The anti-inferno controversy is general and
hot. From all sides come reports of polemical tri-
umphs and numerical increase. How slight is the
regret, among these cheerful believers in the great
salvation, that they ai-e regarded with high-headed
disdain by the older sects! They have, it is plain
to see, abounding and alibuflBcient joy in their own
household of faith.
This Convention especially is a feast of happy fel-
lowship. Various incidents contribute to its excep-
tional excellence. The time is June. The place is by
the sea, in historic Plymouth ; the new Pilgrims in the
realm of ideas will enter into the labors of the older
Pilgrims who ventured for religious liberty. And not
least among the favorable incidents of the Convention
is the fact that to-day the patriarch, Hosea Ballou, is
expected to be present, to make the convocation a
Thanksgiving festival of home-coming for his reverent
and grateful spiritual family.
During the morning Bev. Massena B. Ballou re-
ceives a telegram summoning him to Boston on ac-
count of the sickness of his father.
THROUGH DARKNESS TO LIGHT. 259
The news almost instantly fills the church. The
veteran is expected to arrive in the first train from
Boston. A hopeful suspense till then is reasonable.
The train arrives, but Mr. Ballou does not appear.
Yet many brethren have come from Boston, — some
who are known to be often in the house of the old
preacher. What report do they bring ? They had
not, before leaving, heard of Mr. Ballou's sickness.
He was yesterday nearly as usual ; a slight cold, some
hoarseness, a little cough, this was all ; the variation
from his usual health seemed scarcely noticeable. Yes,
there must be some mistake in the sending of the tele-
gram. Mrs. BalloUj it is recalled, has been seriously
sick with a fever for three weeks. Her husband has
been anxious on her account. It was only when her
symptoms became favorable that he could be per-
suaded to leave her bedside. May she not have had
a relapse ? It is altogether probable. This would ac-
count for the failure of Mr. Ballou to start for the
Convention, and for the summoning of the son to the
The work of the Convention proceeds ; yet there is
a spirit of suspense in the air. In mingled hope and
fear is the premonition of an approaching shadow.
Meanwhile, what has transpired in Boston ?
Those who were watching by the bedside of Mrs.
Ballou had heard Mr. Ballou coughing at intervals
through the night. But he rose betimes, and made
his usual preparations for a journey. No slight ill-
ness could keep him from fulfilling his ardent wish
to be with his brethren at Plymouth. He came from
the chamber which he had occupied during Mrs. Bai-
louts sickness, and entered his wife's room. With a
260 HOSEA BALLOU.
graceful hand he smoothed her pillow. He lingered,
and with tender solicitude looked upon her. " When
I return, dear," he said, " I hope to find you still fur-
ther improved." The worn sufferer could speak only
with difficulty. With brightened eyes and a smile she
made her aflfectionate response. He gave her his ac-
customed kiss, and left the room.
That was the parting ! Could leave-taking for the
final farewell of earth be more appropriate ?
It was noticed that Mr. Ballon at the breakfast-table
was disinclined to eat ; and on his return to the sit-
ting-room he cast himself on the sofa. A fever-flush
on his face suggested to Mrs. Wing, his daughter, the
question whether it would he prudent for him to at-
tempt that day to go to Plymouth. His ready consent
to remain at home — so unlike his usual persistency
in fulfilling his purposes — occasioned instant alarm.
Such easy yielding to bodily weakness it was not re-
membered he had ever shown before.
Immediately all was done for the sick man that
anxious affection could suggest. Within a few mo-
ments from the discovery of his father's sickness, Bev.
Massena B. Ballou was summoned home from the
The alarm at the Convention was natural, yet slight
as compared to that which had now encompassed the
home. That strange thing called a chill — diffusing
pain through all the nerves, and causing a visible with-
ering and sinking of the vital forces — had been
experienced by the sick man. When the physician
arrived, there was no need of his pronouncing that
word — not so familiar then as when afterward it be-
came an omen of dread in New England — pneumonia^
THROUGH DARKNESS TO LIGHT. 261
to convince the distressed beholders that the suffering
one was in a severe struggle for the continuance of
his hold on mortality.
A bed was made for him in the room where he was
lying. All members of the family living near were in
immediate attendance. The sufferer had passed into
a dazed state, between sleeping and waking, his face
seeming as if thinly veiled ; he was beheld as one on
whom the shadow was deepening.
Anxiety had by this time become widespread. At
the assembling of the Convention in Plymouth on
Thursday the dangerous sickness of the honored father
in Israel was known. An undertone of solemnity
pervaded the proceedings. Earnest prayers for the
doubly-shadowed home-circle were offered.
It was nevertheless recalled that the " old man
eloquent" had with his wonted vigor addressed his
brethren at the Reform Festival only seven days
before; it was reported that only on the Sunday
preceding he had preached two sermons at Woon-
socket, Rhode Island, with an ease and power he
had but seldom surpassed. Not without apparent
reason was it therefore hoped that his remarkable
physical resources might withstand the severe trial,
and his sanctified presence still longer bless his
A similar spirit pervaded the Universalist believers
in Boston. When brethren met on the street, the first
inquiry was for the sick ones. The reports continued
of the same tenor : " Mrs. Ballon is convalescent ; Mr.
Ballou shows no signs of improvement." The thought
of the possible loss of the old standard-bearer, the
spiritual " father," saddened many a heart. It was
262 HOSEA BALLOU.
becoming manifest to all how deeply and trulj the
good man was loved.
Again we stand by the bedside of the sufferer.
Days pass ; no material change is to be noted, save
that the disease is increasing in intensity. The strong
mind of the sufferer appears at times struggling to
clear away the gathering mists of the fever. On Sat-
\urday, consciousness is regained suflBciently to answer
the question how he felt, with the clear reply, " I am
very sick." On Sunday, in a restless sleep, he im-
agines himself at a Convention, with a pressure of
perplexing committee-work on his hands, and great
duties to urge on his brethren. He is raised in his
bed, but immediately he faints. When on reviving he
sees his children whispering, and says, " You did not
understand what each other said," it is evident he
means he did not himself understand their whispered
Alas ! alas ! it is too evident to be doubted, that he
has entered that lonely path where all the footprints
point onward, — the path where is no turning.
The long hours pass ; still the fever burns.
At the dawn of Monday, June 7, it is apparent that
the end draws near. An old friend, a noted physi-
cian and brother in the faith. Dr. A. R. Thompson, of
Charlestown, calls ; he sees that the patient is beyond
medical aid ; he speaks some heartfelt words of spirit-
ual reassurance, and reverently retires. Mr. Ballon
rouses a little to say, " I do not think I understood
what the doctor said." These were his last words.
Ever was he trying to understand. Rev. Thomas
Whittemore calls; he is permitted the exceptional
privilege of going to the bedside. The sufferer, too
THROUGH DARKNESS TO LIGHT. 263
weak to speak, recognizes his spiritual son with a
smile. Mr. Whittemore takes the proffered hand
within both his own, and covers it with hot tears
and kisses. He retires. The family is now all pres-
ent, including Dr. Hosea Ballon 2d, the grand-nephew,
who has just entered. The crisis has come. All eyes
behold him passing into the valley of shadows. Not
one present can doubt that the Shepherd leads him,
and with his rod protects and with his crook comforts
him. No human aid can reach him now; but the
Divine One is present whither he is going, no less
than on the hither side the veil.
And now his breath has ceased. His features relax
from their stress. Behold, there comes into his face
an unwonted look. It is loving and peaceful. Some
query whether this is not evidence of the passing
spirit's first response, before it has quite left its house
of clay, to a radiance not of earth.
Through darkness to light ! Whither he has gone
our human eyes may not yet discern ; but our inner
eyes behold him in ravishing light on the other side
the valley of shadows.
Many are the hearts now to be saddened. The
new-made widow is informed of the calamity which
has befallen her. She hears the words from the hesi-
tating lips of a sobbing daughter : " Mother, he is at
rest ; he will suffer no more ! " She understands it
all ; yet she is strangely calm. Her one duty in life
will now be to wait in the patience of hope till her
own change shall come. Before a year has passed she
too will go ; till the welcome hour arrives she will live
in peaceful memories and heavenly anticipations.
Brethren meet, and tell of the heavy sorrow that has
264 HOSEA BALLOU.
befallen the whole church, and with tearful eyes many
a spontaneous eulogy is pronounced on the revered
servant of God. Thomas Whittemore, on hearing of
the bereavement which touches him so nearly, retires
from the large Monday gathering of his ministerial
brethren at 37 Cornhill, to his private room, and for
relief to his full heart writes these words of unmetred
poetry, appropriately voicing the spirit now ip the air :
" Father Ballon is dead ! What an event ! How it
will touch the hearts of the thousands of his brethren
throughout the land ! The dear, venerable man is
gone. That voice which we have heard so often in
prayer, which has thrilled us so deeply when expa-
tiating on the themes of the gospel, we shall hear no
more on earth. That example of humility, justice,
faithfulness, and charity, which I have had before my
eyes for more than thirty years, I shall see no more,
except as I shall see it in that indelible image of his
life which a long acquaintance with him has impressed
upon my memory. The last struggle is past. He can-
not return to us, but we shall go to him."
On Wednesday, June 9, the funeral was held in
School Street Church. Preliminary private services
were held at the house by the family pastor, Rev.
A. A. Miner, in the hearing of the bereaved widow,
still prostrated with her sickness. At the church,
every seat and every inch of room in the windows
and aisles, excepting the seats reserved for the fam-
ily, was occupied by the sorrowful people a full half-
hour before the services. The church was heavily
At three o'clock in the afternoon of the June day
the services began, Eev. 0. A. Skinner read the
THROUGH DARKNESS TO LIGHT. 265
Scriptures, prayer was offered by Rev. Thomas Whit-
temore, the sermon was preached by Rev. A. A. Miner,
and the concluding prayer was offered by Rev. Sebas-
tian Streeter. The sermon was a masterly presenta-
tion of the gospel hope as exemplified in the life and
teachings of the departed father ; the text was 2 Cor.
V. 1 : " For we know that if our earthly house of this
tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God,
a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
The sermon by the bereaved preacher was a rare filial
tribute ; it was entirely worthy the occasion ; yet no
sermon of words could equal in eloquence that of the
sight of the hushed and reverent multitude. The
body was placed in the vestibule. The assembly, on
passing out, briefly viewed the mortal remains of
the risen soul.
The funeral procession was one of the most memo-
rable ever seen in the streets of Boston. The body
was temporarily deposited in the burial-plot on the
Common. The procession was formed in the follow-
ing order : The body, with the bearers ; the standing
committee of School Street Church ; the clergy of the
Universalist denomination ; the members of the School
Street Society ; friends from neighboring towns ; the
family in carriages. When the formation of the pro-
cession was completed, its head was at the turn of
Boylston Street, while the rear was at School Street
Church ; it extended up School Street to Tremont, on
Tremont to Boylston, — the distance being scarcely,
less than half a mile. There is no record of the num-
ber forming the procession; it is known that there
were a hundred clergymen walking in the clerical
section ; and throughout, the procession was dense.
266 UOSEA BALLOU.
At the tomb, the remains were again uncovered for
the farewell gaze of the many who were unable to gain
admission to the church. The June sun was near the
western horizon when the grand solemn pageant was
brought to a close.
And this remarkable scene but expressed the gen-
eral mourning. All the Universalist newspapers, some
with blackened borders, published elaborate eulogies
of the honored dead. Probably not a Universalist pul-
pit but inculcated some moral lesson of his noble life.
Bereaved School Street Church moved to erect a mon-
ument to his memory ; a general request came from
Universalists of the whole country that they might
have part in the grateful tribute. The statue now
standing in the cemetery on Mt. Auburn is the de-
nomination's unsolicited offering to the precious mem-
ory of the great pioneer champion of all-embracing
So in triumph he left the world. The earth has
been the better for his having lived in it. The com-
mon heart has wider hope and larger charity since
he has fulfilled among men his Heaven-appointed
Through darkness to light ! We have seen how the
deprivations and gloom of his childhood were turned
to human benefit in his later years. So, under the
same Providence, out of the mists and shadows of
earth must be an issue into the enduring light.
STATUE OF HOSEA BALLOU IN MOUNT AUBURN
TRAITS AND HABITS.
THRIFT, a necessity in Mr. Ballou's early life, re-
mained a favored companion of his later years.
He had an especial aversion to incurring any pecuni-
ary debt whatever. His purchases, large and small
alike, were always paid for on the spot. Rev. Thomas
Whittemore once said to him, " Suppose, Father Bal-
lon, you hurriedly start for Cambridge to see me on a
matter of importance ; on the bridge you find you have
not with you the one cent for toll. Suppose you meet
a friend willing to loan you the one cent ; would you
then break your habit and borrow?" Mr. Ballon,
after due meditation, replied, " It is not a conceivable
case ; if I had my senses I would n't start for Cam-
bridge without one cent in my pocket." No one can
at least recall that he was, for any similar reason, ever
forced to borrow even the smallest amount. Any debt
unpaid over Sunday would, he maintained, detract from
the sacredness of the holy day.
He was also — it was a part of his life-plan — in-
sistent on being promptly paid. No urging would
cause him to take more than his due ; but that he de-
sired in good season. When he left Portsmouth, hav-
ing alienated some of his hearers, there was a nominal
arrearage of salary due him; this he remitted. On
leaving Salem, after a lax method of parish business
268 HOSEA BALLOU.
common in those days, by no means peculiar to that
city, he likewise had a claim on his parish for unpaid
salary. The fair-minded business men of the society
tiiought none the less of him when they found he was
himself a man of business. An interest^bearing note
became to the practical preacher thereafter available
capital. This, however, was made a matter of com-
plaint by some parishioners, who thought the going
away of a minister was itself the cancelling of all
parish delinquencies. His salary of two thousand
dollars in Boston was paid with promptness, and it
more than sufficed for his home needs. His publica-
tions were profitable; his investments were prudent,
without hazard of speculation ; he was in constant de-
mand as an evening preacher, and believed the laborer
worthy his hire ; economy, not rigid but constant,
prevailed in his household ; so it transpired that his
store grew to an ample competency. The altogether
remarkable thing is that he himself knew the fact.
There were some, as we have said, who thought he
loved money and set his heart on riches. This is
the exact opposite of the fact. He had no love for
Mammon other than as a servant. What merce-
nary man could have done as he did in relinquishing
his entire salary as pastor, when silence would have
brought him statedly the lion's share ? What money-
loving man would have refused compensation for
constant newspaper contributions during his mature
years? Thomas Whittemore testifies that he re-
peatedly urged a just remuneration upon him, which
was uniformly declined. Mr. Ballon had, indeed, a
friendly regard for Franklin's "Poor Richard;" but
he did not live by Poor Richard's monetary standard.
TRAITS AND HABITS. 269
When he once saw his large family ^stahrlished in a
prospect of worldly comfort, his care for money les-
sened. He at no time begrudged any outlay requisite
to a substantial and pleasant home ; and we remember
that, while living, he made a free division of his surplus
gains with his children, that they might be happier in
their own homes. A better example of the self-denial
requisite to accumulation, and of self-mastery in ap-
plying gains to unselfish ends, it would be difficult
to find. The peaceful independence of his age was ia
some part the natural fruitage of his early and per-
sistent habits of thrift.
When Thomas Whittemore's apprenticeship as a
boot-maker expired, he was possessed of. only such
rudiments of education as he had, after neglecting his
early school privileges, been able to secure by attend-;
ance on the public evening schools during two seasons*.
He was moneyless, and in knowledge of books not
properly qualified for public gospel service. He ar-
dently coveted an education ; he purposed to work at
his trade until he could secure means for the prose-^
cution of his studies. Mr. Ballou, seeing his zeal, and
knowing his impatience to enter the ministry, offered
to assist him in Bible study. At the close of a Sunday
morning service he called a few of his members to-
gether, and stated to them the practical problem in
hand. A few moments afterward Mr. Ballou had one
hundred and fifty dollars in his possession for the edu-
cation of his prot^g^. This would give him board and
clothes for a year in Mr. Ballou's home. The young
man entered this first modern Universalist theological
school with alacrity and gratitude, and pursued his.
270 HOSEA BALLOU.
studies with an enthusiasm that made long days and
short nights. A few months afterward — in response
to an urgent call for some preacher of the great salva-
tion — he began his public ministry. He was called
to Milford as soon as he was heard ; and leaving an
unexpended balance of the first Universalist educa-
tional endowment fund in the hands of Mr. Ballou,
accepted the call.
This work of ministerial education, thus begun, was
continued by Mr. Ballou for a score of years. We
cannot give a complete list, and will attempt none, of
those who studied theology with him. Members of
Mr. Ballou's family recall not less than twenty of
these students as living in their household, who after-
ward became heralds of universal hope. So quietly,
in such business-like manner, was this important edu-
cational work done, that it at no time attracted gen-
eral attention. Wliile some remember that Mr. Ballou
was doubtful in regard to the utility of established
theological schools, he is but seldom spoken of as
in his example one of the practical champions of
education in the Universalist Church.
His method of study was emphatically his own.
His range of daily reading might be superficially
called narrow ; it was really very wide. Some rapid
glances at a newspaper, to see how the world was
moving ; occasionally a brief study given to some
standard book of history or general knowledge ; then
he gave himself to the Book whose study was the
master passion of his life. The Bible was always
the freshest of books to him. Dr. Paige, on recall-
ing his experience in the home of his teacher, could
TRAITS AND HABITS. 271
not remember once seeing in his hand any vohime
but the Bible. When Dr. Paige published his " Selec-
tions from Eminent Commentators," Mr. Ballon on
meeting him spoke of the volume with high commen-
dation. " You do not mean to say that you have
read it?" said the pleased young author. '^Yes, I
have read every word in it." " That you should
leave the Bible long enough to do that," said Dr.
Paige, "is the most flattering compliment I have
ever in my life received." Dr. Paige's book, however,
was scarcely a variation in the study of his life-
theme ; for it was itself a contribution to the solution
of his great problem. To find more of the true
meaning of the Bible ; to discern its own side-light
contributions to its central facts ; to drink of its life-
giving springs in unexpected places ; to become more
and more assured that God's Fatherhood is the re-
vealed truth around which all other truths revolve,
— this was his daily happy experience. Prom cheer-
ful necessity he was a Bible specialist. Three hun-
dred carefully-selected volumes marked the extent
of his book-ownership ; but in his well-worn Bible
was a limitless library.
When, while bending over the sacred pages, his
lips began to move in partial enunciation, the mem-
bers of his family were careful to offer no disturb-
ance. It was probably his early experience in the
fields which fixed on him the habit of giving form
to his thoughts in unconscious soliloquy. If his
theme became plain to him, his face would soon
clear. If it was an editorial he had been studying,
he would take his pen and rapidly write his well-
meditated thought ; if a sermon, he reserved his final
272 HOSEA BALLOU.
expresBion for the pulpit. If the way through a
theme did not Boon appear^ he had a habit of ex-
pressing the fact in groans. Whatever puzzled him
made him groan. When he heard Thomas Whitte-
more preach his first sermon, he responded to the
crude utterances with groans to such an extent that
the young pulpiteer thought the veteran was attacked
with sudden sickness. The groans and the moving
lips, in the Ballon household, were treated with deli-
cate consideration. They are interesting as items in
a peculiar personality.
In traditions of Mr. Ballou's boyhood in Richmond
we find beginnings of one of his lifelong habits. As
a boy he won in an unusual degree the confidence
of the farm animals. Kindness to animals was to
the last a marked trait in his character. For nearly
sixty years he kept a horse, — the phrase, of course,
meaning a succession of horses. He had a distinct
friendship for each one. When one of his sons rode
with him a long journey, and at nightfall arrived
dusty and weary at an inn, he would observe his fa-
ther not only give explicit directions for the horse's
care, but wait to see that the instructions were all
obeyed, before he would seem to remember his own
need. He could not be greatly disturbed by human
ill-will; but the good-will of his horse he took great
pains to merit. And the grateful whinny of his
beast, which he could so readily interpret, was often
seen to bring a gleam of lively pleasure to his eyes.
He had also something of Dr. John Brown's appre-
ciation of dogs. He would very speedily cultivate a
dog's acquaintance, and for the whole canine species
TRAITS AND HABITS. 273
had a respectful sympathy. "He was accustomed,"
writes his son, "daily after dinner to prepare from
his own plate food for a large domestic dog that
belonged to a member of the family." Again the
same eye-witness says : " Even the family cat purred
more cheerfully when resting by his feet, while he
often gave it a kind caress." He instinctively rec-
ognized the truth to which John Buskin gives ex-
pression : " There is in every animal's eye a dim
image and gleam of humanity, a flash of strange
light through which its life looks out and up to our
great mystery of command over it, and claims the
fellowship of the creature, if not of the soul."
Some excellent people will regret to be told that
Mr. Ballou was a smoker. " Paint me with my
wart," said Cromwell. It is true, — we must de-
scribe our subject as we find him, — he was at
one time a smoker. During a period of his life he
might have been seen after each meal burning the
malodorous narcotic incense. The old story : Slightly
dyspeptic ; physician said smoke ; habit formed ; hard
to break; pleasant to continue, — especially to him-
self. We on the whole, however, commend his ex-
ample with regard to tobacco ; but only in two points :
first, he began to smoke after he was past seventy ;
and second, he promptly left it oflF when he found
the habit was medically a deceit. He gave it a test
of three years, and then declined to acknowledge
it his master. He had a similar experience with
snuflf. It was a largely-followed fashion in his day
to snuflf up pulverized tobacco. He formed the
habit; but on suspecting that it interfered with his
274 HOSEA BALr.OU.
distinctness of articulation, he at once cast out the
little idol. In these respects, as in all others, he
was in his final and best years complete master of
his inclinations. He was unreservedly swayed by
the Spirit of Righteousness to which he professed
Mr. Ballou was a total abstainer from alcoholic
drinks from before the time when the temperance re-
form began. He was also abstemious in his food ;
preferring a simple, healthful diet, that he might
have mental clearness and freedom. He was tem-
perate in all things. Through simple living he main-
tained high thinking.
He was not above indulgence in pleasing stratagems
in his household. When, before the era of railroads,
he was to visit New York, — the journey then, we must
remember, was a stage-ride of three hundred miles,
— one of his parishioners wished to place in his care
for the journey a daughter just arriving at early
womanhood. He readily accepted the charge. The
young lady was a very intimate friend of his daughter
Elmina ; and when his daughter heard of the pro-
jected journey, she naturally expressed regret that
she was not to be of the company. Mr. Ballou, see-
ing how much satisfaction might be conferred, con-
sented that his daughter should be included among
the travellers. '' But," he said, " say nothing to your
friend ; we will provide a little surprise for her." The
stage called for Mr. Ballou at early daybreak. He
took his place, after handing his closely-wrapped
daughter to the rear seat. The stage then proceeded
to the house of the young lady. She, with a saluta-
TRAITS AND HABITS. 275
tion to her protector, took her place by the side of her
companion. Silence for a season prevailed ; few are
talkative at such an hour. The young lady, trying to
scatter a little of the dreariness, said to Mr. Ballou :
"How pleasant it would have been if Elmina could
have come with us ! " " It would have been pleasant,
very," said Mr. Ballou ; and lapsed into silence. The
daylight increased ; the city was left behind ; the jour-
ney was fairly begun. Mr. Ballou at last said to his
young charge, " You seem scarcely to notice the
lady who sits by your side." There was instantaneous
recognition, and of course much maidenly hilarity.
The happy journey was completed in accordance with
this promising beginning.
Paul had perils because of false brethren ; Mr.
Ballou at one time had some peril because of a lazy
Near the end of his eightieth* year he had an ap-
pointment to preach in Middleborough. He had been
instructed to leave the rail-train at a station four miles
from the section of the town where he was to preach ;
he was assured that a man would meet him, and con-
vey him to his tarrying-place. He alighted from the
train on Saturday evening. A storm of driving rain
was raging. No peering into the darkness could dis-
cover the man with the carriage. The station-master
assured him that no one would come for him on such
a night. " I will wait awhile longer," he said. When
the waiting had become a trial of patience to the sta-
tion-master, who had before him a long foot-journey to
his own home, Mr. Ballou asked how far it was to the
nearest house. " Not more than a mile." " Can you
276 HOSEA BALLOU.
lend me a lantern ? " The station-master, looking him
over, consented to make the loan. With umbrella,
carpet-bag, and lantern, Mr. Ballon went out into the
wild night, and down the muddy road. The rain fell
in torrents; the wind was so fierce that he could
scarcely make his way against it. On arriving at a
solitary house and knocking at the door, he was cor-
dially invited in. He stated his name and the object
of his journey. The family was not of his faith, he
was told, they were all Baptists ; but they had heard of
flosea Ballon, and were glad to welcome him, — and,
indeed, would turn no one away on such a night.
He soon felt himself entirely at home ; there was
kindly ministry to all his wants, and in the morning,
the storm having cleared, he was by his host driven to
the church where he was to preach, and where he was
greeted by an expectant congregation. Among the
listening brethren was one who afterward offered a
shamefaced apology for not being at the station ; as-
suring Mr. Ballon that he would have gone for him in
the morning if he had known where to find him.
Mr. Ballou, in recounting this adventure, expressed
no regret at the peril imposed upon him by a lazy
brother. He could not regret that he had been him-
self faithful to his life-long habit of keeping with ex-
actness every engagement, while the fellowship he had
found in the hospitable Christian family had enriched
his heart. To sleep under a rain-pattered Baptist roof
must have been like a return to his own Baptist boy-
hood in "Happy Richmond."
CHARACTER; FAITH; INFLUENCE.
" "pUT it on the titlepage," said an interested friend
•^ to us, before we had touched pen to paper on
the inviting task which now uears its completion. We
had been speaking to him of Hosea Ballou's mission.
We had said, " The story, simply in its human aspect,
is marvellous." Our friend's advice was unpremedi-
tated. It may have since entirely passed from his
remembrance. But it has survived in our recollec-
tion, and its justness, tested by patient consideration,
has compelled its fulfilment. Not unadvisedly nor
hastily have we made for the subject of our biography
the claim implied in our titlepage.
Hosea Ballon was not, as the reader scarcely need
be told, in any sense a prodigy appealing to a cri3du-
lous curiosity. He was not an exceptional genius ap-
proaching the miraculous. No such claim is made for
him. The story of his career will not captivate a
crude imagination. His adventures were not visible ;
his striving was not for fame. For such a hero we
can covet no shallow triumph or belated laurels.
Yet Hosea Ballou's life-story is marvellous.
Wonderful in contrast with his hindrances is the
work he wrought. Motherless from infancy ; the pov-
erty of his early home so pitiable that no shoes could
be bought for him through the long winters ; preco-
278 HOSEA BALLOU.
cious in nothing save in the share he took in the hard
toil which won the family's scanty bread from the
reluctant soil ; without books save a Babel-tower pam-
phlet, an antiquated almanac, an antique dictionary,
and the ever-fresh Bible ; learning to read by the light
of pine-knots on winter evenings, and to write on the
birch-bark he had gathered in scrolls from the forest ;
with no lesson at school till after he was nineteen,
and his entire school-advantages compassed by a few
weeks, — such was his burdened and circumscribed
We see him again in his maturity.
Paradoxical, yet true : the unschooled boy has be-
come the founder of a school. Marshalled in opposi-
tion to him we see all the reputable learning of his
generation. In lonely study he has become a master
in the aggregate of all sciences. Theology ; he is now
a scholar and a leader of scholars.
But can he, we ask, as we seie him in his conflict,
prevail against a foe that surrounds him like the
We liopefuUy note that he is no wild enthusiast
deprecating intelligence. He is no fanatic, under con-
trol of a familiar ; he assumes no private right of
interpretation. He boldly affirms simply that he has
discovered a forgotten sense in God's Word. He ap-
peals for the decision of his cause not to hot hearts
but cool heads.
He wins his cause. He did not, it is true, imme-
diately capture literary Boston; but he won rural
New England, and literary Boston soon afterward
unconsciously espoused his cause. He did not, it is
again true, drive Calvinism completely out of the field;
but he fatally wounded it, and no one fears it now as
it limps toward its own place.
We note that in a hundred controversies the boy
whose library was an almanac, a dictionary, a Babel-
tower pamphlet, and an English Bible, has been
crowned victor against the most throughly-schooled
opponents. In no single controversy against Calvin-
ism has his jury, the discerning common people, voted
The marvel of this victory of faith will increase by
contemplation. Where, since apostolic days, can we
find a religious leader who, against such limitations
and hindrances, has waged a warfare of faith to such
success ? An impartial Orthodox writer has said of
him, " He broke the backbone of Calvinism in New
The personal aspect of his career is no less
Because he could not hide his light he entered the
Universalist ministry. At first, his expectation was
by daily manual labor to maintain his privilege of
speaking on Sunday of his precious faith. He was
the champion of an unpopular cause, yet he became a
popular preacher. His fame was pleasant to his hu-
man heart. The homage rendered him would have
made a shallow man vain; it followed him through
his happy old age, and became at his death an ovation.
He was also prospered in eartlily riches. Rare and
wonderful, he had enough ! He was more favored
than many a renowned millionnaire : he knew when
he had enough. If he had lived for the world alone,
could he have gained more than was " added unto "
his consecrated seeking of the kingdom of heaven ?
280 HOSEA BALLOU.
Marvellous also was his home life. Here, indeed,
was his dearest and noblest earthly triumph. In his
home he lived the poem he did not learn how to write.
In its human aspect, therefore, and not simply be-
cause we receive a heritage of faith from Mr. Ballou,
we contemplate his life-story as marvellous.
We covet attention while we endeavor briefly to
summarize Hosea Ballou's faith.
The distinguishing negative characteristic of his
faith is its disregard of the scholastic " scheme " of
salvation. He felt no call to deliver the Infinite One
from any dilemma into which theologians had in
their imaginations thrust him. He believed the crea-
tion is proceeding according to the original plan of its
Creator. A created Satan defeating the purpose of
the Creator; an angry God demanding pacification;
an infinite law, with an infinite break, demanding an
infinite penalty, yet regardless on whom it is inflicted;
an extensive prison-house as the intended dwelling-
place of vast numbers of God's children, prepared for
them before the first man was born, — these were
to Mr. Ballou chimeras, mere human traditions, not
teachings of the Bible.
Mr. Ballou was in some points at disadvantage as
compared with the trained linguists. But whether it
would have been for his advantage, as a leader of com-
mon people, to be versed in the historic philoso-
phies and theologies is more than doubtful. He was
singularly adapted to the work of popular Bible inter-
pretation. He had by nature the " single eye " whose
direct vision fills one's whole body with light. He
lived in close relationship with Nature. He was of near
kindred to the simple Bible-writers. He was in him-
self responsive to their deep) and harmonious messages.
He was thus able to rescue doctrinal Christianity from
its grave under the artificial " scheme," and become a
school in himself, and the founder of a school.
A fundamental positive doctrine in Mr. Ballou's
faith is the sovereignty of God. The phrase has in
his thought a distinctive meaning. Calvinism pro-
fessedly starts with the sovereignty of God ; yet tlie
proper meaning of the phrase, as employed by Cal-
vinists, is the supremacy of the Satanic in the Divine
nature, and an added subdivision of power with an
objective personal Satan. In Mr. Ballou's system of
doctrines the word Q-od is always to be understood
in its strict Anglo-Saxon sense, namely, Good. He
believed in the sovereignty of good in the universe.
He believed that good existed before evil began, and
will exist after evil is finished. He could admit of no
human freedom not foreknown by the One who saw
the end from the beginning. Whatever evil choices
are permitted by the Father, he taught are for some
final purpose of beneficence. He believed that there
can be no evil God cannot overrule, and in his own
time consign to oblivion.
The moral of this doctrine of Divine sovereignty
was not, " Let us do evil that good may come ; " for in
his view evil is sure of its appointed penalties, which
are pictorially described as wrath and tribulation. It
is integral in his system that a man must reap what-
soever he sows. To be in league with evil is to make
failure certain; for it is the destiny of evil to be de-
stroyed. Evil, in Mr. Ballou's thought, is absolutely
evil. It is not in any real sense good. It is to be
overcome in the personal experience because of its
282 HOSEA BALLOU.
own inherent badness; because, also, it usurps the
place of the good; because, again, of its inevitable
punishment co-existent with itself. The moral of
the doctrine, in working form, is this: "K God be
for us, who can be against us?"
We must further crave attention while we attempt to
unravel one of the more intricate points of his faith.
When he in his scriptural study arrived at one con-
clusion, he appeara to have been long bewildered as
to its exact logical outcome. He became early con-
vinced that '' the punishment of sin inheres in the
sin itself ; " that is, he ceased to believe the com-
mon doctrine of his day, that the Divine punishments
are sporadic or arbitrary. He believed every act car-
ries in itself seeds of judgment. He did not believe
the Divine penalty could be separated from any evil
act; he did not see in the discovered thief going to
jail, and the undiscovered thief escaping the jail, a
likeness of the Divine method ; he did not see real-
ity in the dogma which affirms the existence of a de-
served inferno which may nevertheless be escaped.
He believed the Divine penalty to be solely the nat-
ural, inevitable accompaniment and sequence of every
He furthermore held that punishment is exclusively
the sense of self-condemnation in the soul. This, he
believed, will not follow one in the forgiven state.
Certain effects of sinful deeds will be, he thought, car-
ried into the new life and into the future life, — such,
for instance, as regrets and griefs ; but these, he held,
will not be specifically punishment, and will issue in
final good. The Father, having forgiven his child, will
no longer punish him.
We doubt whether Mr. Ballou ever arrived at com-
plete opinions on this complex subject. There is no
question that during the latter half of his life he em-
phasized the fact of Divine punishment in tlie earth,
and disbelieved in its continuance beyond death. So
much of his extant writing on tliis point, however, is
merely denial of contrary opinions, and so much of
the remainder is tentative, that it is impossible to
find in his own words a statement that fairly covers
his positive doctrine. Apparently, his position is very
simple ; namely, " The Scriptures teach only oi pun-
ishment in the earth ; show me a single passage that
clearly teaches that the glorious immortal state is one
of punishment." He had equal assurance of his abil-
ity to prove the first member of his proposition, and of
the inability of any opponent to answer the demand of
the second. But as to the process of the resurrection,
save that it must be moral and spiritual, he seems not
to have arrived at a definite and final view.
Dr. Miner has told us that the veteran several times
sat in the pulpit of the School Street Church and lis-
tened to a presentation of his colleague's views of the
immortal life, and in subsequent conversations offered
no word of disapproval. We find a succinct expres-
sion of Dr. Miner's views in the sermon he preached at
Mr. Ballou's funeral : — .
" Can there be any doubt that the event of death removes
one from all those temptations which originate in the flesh,
or which necessarily stand connected with the body ? . . .
May not the wonderful experience it brings to every soul,
unprecedented and unrepeated, be an occasion of unsurpassed
good? Must we consider it, unlike every other experience
of God, without moral utility and without significance ? Does
284 HOSEA BALLOn.
it rend asunder no veils of prejudice and passion, and shall it
not bring the soul into closer proximity to truth ? . . . To
the soul unredeemed, death may be an occasion of great good ;
not itself the source of that good, but the instrumentality by
which the soul is mellowed to receive the good, and by which
it is brought into more immediate contact with such truth as
is the source of it. . . . To the man of God it is entrance
upon those immortal joys which have been the theme of his
meditations by night and day."
That Mr. Ballou held to this positive view " in sub-
stance of doctrine" will not, we assume, be questioned.
He often in discussion generalized on this point of
faith ; yet for a definite statement of the process of
the fulfilment of his immortal hope we are inclined
to choose the words of his scholarly and clear-visioned
With exactness and fairness we believe we state this
often-caricatured and much-controverted opinion held
by Mr. Ballou.
But we wish emphatically to affirm that this doc-
trine was not insisted on by Mr. Ballou as essential to
the universal hope. He rarely, indeed almost never,
made it the subject of even mention in the pulpit.
Among his ministerial brethren and in the religious
newspaper it was a subject of inquiry and discussion ;
but it was not regarded by him a theme appropriate
for pulpit treatment.
His theme — his theme of themes — was God's love
in Christ. This subject, with scriptural proof and
logical outcome, the people always expected to hear
him elucidate. On God's Fatherhood he based his
world-wide hope. The grace of the Father, testified
in Christ, was to him " the power of God unto salva-
tion." The attractions of the Father as set forth in
the Bible ; the goodness of God which leadeth to re-
pentance ; faith in the all-conquering power of love, —
a faith which, by its own elevation, overcomes inordi-
nate regard for the world ; the unscripturalness and
irreverence of unworthy thoughts of God ; the fire of
the Spirit in the believing heart, consuming lusts and
filling the soul with warmth and light, — these are the
things he habitually set forth in his preaching.
After a careful reading of nearly all his published
words, we confidently declare that, in a summary of
the Ballou Theology, his opinion in regard to ex-
clusively earthly punishments deserves only the mer-
est mention. It should not be exaggerated out of
its subordinate relations. His strong and constant
affirmation of faith, his comprehensive proposition
in regard to penalty, is that every sin will be justly
•and adequately punished.
This is distinctively the Ballou Theology : The
sovereignty of good in the universe; the paternity of
God; the universality of God' B providence ; the certain
penalty and destruction of evil; the universe to he finally
harmonized to its Author ; the moral appeal of the Fa-
therms love to sinful men expressed in the gospel^ and
especially in the cross of the Son, whose mission is the
salvation of the world from sin and from the conse-
quent fear of deaths and the modelling of human society
into the likeness of heaven,
Mr. Ballou was one of the most radical of reformers.
While other reformers assaulted depravity in hu-
man nature, he aimed his blows against the imag-
ined depravity men ascribed to the Divine Nature.
He was in fellowship with all true endeavors at refor-
286 HOSEA BALLOU.
mation. He was all his life a total abstainer from
intoxicants, yet not often a zealous anti-alcohol ex-
horter; he was committed to the anti-slavery cause,
yet not one of those who in his later days raised
the providential war-storm. He was in the main,
however, a fundamental reformer. He saw his peo-
ple almost wholly given to idolatry; this stirred
his spirit within him. He knew the tendency of
sincere worship is to transform the devotee into the
likeness of the object worshipped. He saw how
dreadful must be any human imitation of the Cal-
vinistic idol. He believed that for men to know God
as he is, the universal and all-loving Father, and the
human race as one family, must promote all just
causes and foster all sweet ministries. He felt his
high mission to be the reinforcement of human well-
being at its sources. He was a true peacemaker.
He wrought for peace by wielding the sword of the
Spirit, which is the word of God, against the haugh-
tiest and deadliest foe of human happiness.
When the procession of true reformers passes be-
fore the Muse of history, not last nor unlaurelled
will be Hosea Ballon, the witness of God's Fatherhood,
and the apostle of immortal hope.
He was necessarily in some degree a specialist in
his work of reform. He was, we must remember,
born in a community where there was no outcast
perishing class, the barrenness of the common lot
making luxurious vices impossible. Conversion in
that community essentially meant acceptance of a
scheme of doctrines ; and salvation meant escape from
a conjectured far-off doom. When Hosea Ballou be-
came a Universalist, against this scheme of doctrines
liis zeal burned. By the Scriptures he proved that
fear of a far-away doom is groundless. The people
who in the country towns came to hear him were
almost invariably righteous truth-seekers, who had
been made wretched by their belief in the religion
of hatred and fear. It is also undeniable that in the
larger towns, the persistently ill-meaning, the irre-
ligious drift and slag had only a momentary interest
— indeed, scarcely that — in the preaching of unes-
capable justice and impartial love. However this may
be construed, it certainly is a fact. With due deference
to those who have honestly believed Universalists
generally irreligious, we testify that the Universalists
of Hosea Ballou's day were men exceptionally upright
and reverent. It was the injustice of ignorance that
classed • them with infidels and atheists. They were
no doubt influenced by the fact that they had them-
selves sincerely believed in Calvinism, and had after-
ward been delivered into spiritual light and joy.
They were compelled to battle for their faith against
innumerable assailants. That they were not, for in-
stance, like John Wesley and his co-laborers, organ-
ized seekers of the lost, — that they did not, by united
and sustained endeavor, call sinners to repentance in
face-to-face encounters, — is to be predicated of the
situation. Their mission primarily was to do a dif-
The theological revolution inaugurated by Hosea
Ballon has at this writing been, in New England at
least, carried a long way toward completion. Preach-
ers do not, as was the fashion before his day, now
picture inferno-horrors without delicacy or reserve.
Those who still hold the letter of the old doctrines
288 HOSEA BALLOU.
are now compelled to respect the human sense of
right. As a consequence, the inter-denominational
dogmatic warfare wanes. To assail the dying dog-
mas of Calvinism is like warring against belated
ghosts. They flit at the approach of dawn ; or, better,
they are dissolved in the light.
What remains, then, to be accomplished by the fol-
lowers of Hosea Ballou ?
It is a manifest fact that the battle which is older
than that against the partial creeds — the battle,
namely, against irreligion, against materialism, against
besetting sins, against the idol every man carries in
his own breast — has not yet been waged to victory
for Christ. Every Universalist who lives his faith
must be a conscript if not a volunteer in this battle.
He believes — it is cardinal in his faith — that Christ
is to save the world from its sins. His faith compels
him to be a soldier of Jesus Christ. The Universalist
Church has no occasion for repentance that it gave its
early zeal to a brave fight against superstition. It
but followed its genius also when it established schools
and exalted intelligence. But now it finds its most
dangerous foes in new forms and changed positions,
The Universalist Church is a division of the army
seeking, under the great Captain, to free the world
from sin. While the battle for righteousness con-
tinues, the Universalist Church cannot accept a place
among the lookers-on or among the reluctant re-
serves : it must, as the condition of keeping ^its faith,
be in the van of the fight against religious indifference,
shallow scepticisim, idolatry of the beast, and pro-
fessed and unprofessed atheism.
In his day ITosea Ballou was heroically faithful to
his own gospel summons. No Christian yramor in
any age has fought for faith with more sincerity or
genius of common sense, or with braver heart, or
achiered a more manifest success. If he were still
bodily among men he would be resolute and uncom-
promising against the new foes. To attempt to fight
his battles over again would be on many a field —
yet not on every field — simply to beat the air. Cal-
vinism, with its broken backbone, invites no conflict.
As regards that complex atheism, the believer in God's
sovereignty can confidently wait for time's revenges ;
he may stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.
In the duties of a new epoch Universalists need to
keep and invoke the spirit of their great pioneer. At
the shrine of his memory the musing heart kindles
with a devotion like his own.
The gospel of good cheer and universal hope he
preached, is the gospel' the despairing common heart
must always need. Many souls wait, as Thomas
Whittemore in his irreligious youth unconsciously
waited, for the personal message of a religion it is
reasonable to believe and happiness to experience.
Fraternity incarnated, the Divine Fatherhood made
manifest, — this is the gospel tlie multitude heard
with rapture from the lips of Hosea Ballon. Be-
lievers have exemplified its fruits. The same ever-
lasting gospel which the apostle describes as the faith
which works by love, and which makes its supreme
appeal from the cross, must live in the world till it
draws all men to Christ.
A true reformer; a pioneer in paths since by in-
creasing multitudes traversed; a faithful man of God,
290 HOSEA BALLOU.
and every whit a man among men, in very tmtli i
of Nature's noblemen ; an apostle of universal In
and religious good cheer, who left the ^v^orld bet
and happier for having wrought in it his lier<
work ; and who will be more e*8teemed for his gGui
as he is seen in truer perspective and his propliet
mission comes nearer to fulfilment, — such is Hase
Ballou, whose marvellous life-story, in this most ix
adequate telling, has now reached its close.
Uniyenity Press : John Wilson & Son, Cambridge.