in a history blog, you talk about history. And what better way to talk about history that to cite the leaders of southern Universalism. I hope my brief excerpts give a bit of the joy that these ministers felt about their beliefs.
Father Clayton in his autobiography talks about his conversion to Universalism. He had been spending much time in religious contemplation in the years up to 1837.
"To say that God created a part of the human race purposely to render them endlessly miserable would, to his [Clayton's] mind, transform that great and good Being into a MONSTER OF CRUELTY. To say that God had created all men for a destiny of endless felicity would be, as his religious training assured him, to embrace a soul-destroying heresy ..."
"In what direction to turn for relief, he did not know. He could not reconcile the doctrine of endless misery with his ideas of the principle of justice; which principle his religious teachers seemed to regard as the overshadowing attribute of the all-wise Creator. Against that dogma every attribute of his own soul was in open rebellion; and this fact he could not conceal from himself."
"but fortunately - as the writer now believes - there occurred, just at this, to him, critical period, and event quite trivial in its nature, as viewed from an ordinary stand-point, but an event designed, through the train of circumstances to which it gave rise, to exercise a controlling influence over at least fifty years of his earthy destiny. This was the placing in his hands .... of a copy of the EVANGELICAL MAGAZINE AND GOSPEL ADVOCATE, a Universalist weekly paper -- of which the [modern UU WORLD] is the lineal descendant ...
To one who had been occupying the benighted position that had proved so perplexing to the writer, that copy of the MAGAZINE AND ADVOCATE appeared as the glimmer of a light shinning in a dark place. he became not long thereafter a subscriber to that paper, and also a deeply interested reader. it opened up to him a new world....
"The shackles of religious error, by which he had been bound down to a servitude more grinding and oppressive that that of the galley-slave, fell from his limbs, and he stood forth, 'redeemed regenerated, disinthralled.' Then, as never before in his religious experience, he felt that a burden indeed had been lifted, not simply from his shoulders, but from his heart."
Athalia J. Irwin
from "A Bouquet of Verses", 1905
What matters it if the darkest night wears on, like a sunless life,
And weary hours coax not the sleep that would cover up your strife?
oh, know ye not, ye weary soul, that a day far faier still
Must break for thee in the eastern skies, and they hungering spirt fill?
Oh, know ye not that a day of light must surely dawn at last,
When darkness drear hast taught thy soul its burden where to cast.
Despair ye not, O weary soul, if the night be long and drear,
For a day of hope will surely come and bring they share of cheer.