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The Life Of Rev. John Murray: Written By Himself. The Records Contain Anecdotes Of The Writer's Infancy, And Are Extended To Some Years After The ... A Brief Continuation To The Closing Scene ...
The Life Of Rev. John Murray: Written By Himself. The Records Contain Anecdotes Of The Writer's Infancy, And Are Extended To Some Years After The ... A Brief Continuation To The Closing Scene ...
by Anonymous
Edition: Paperback
Price: $31.75
5 used & new from $19.89

5.0 out of 5 stars THE MEMOIR OF THE “FATHER OF AMERICAN UNIVERSALISM”, June 29, 2016
John Murray (1741-1815) was the founder of the Universalist denomination in the United States. [NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 250-page hardcover edition of 1816.]

He wrote in the Preface of this 1816 book, “The pages, which compose the Volume now presented to the public, were originally designed only for the eye of a tender and beloved friend… to whom the Author was endeared by many years of intimate friendship, and still more by those divine and soul-soothing tenets, of which it was his distinguished lot to be ordained the Promulgator… For those, who loved the philanthropic, the inspired Preacher, for the sake of the glorious inspiration; these sheets will possess the strongest, and most important interest: To such, and to such only, they are addressed.”

He left Ireland for England, and notes, “It was during my protracted residence in this city, that the celebrated Mr. George Whitefield arrived there, upon a visit. Of Mr. Whitefield I had heard much, and I was delighted with an opportunity of seeing, hearing, and conversing with so great a man. He was the first Calvinistic Methodist I had ever heard, and he became very dear to me; I listened with transport.” (Pg. 60)

He laments, “I became what is called very good company, and I resolved to see, and become acquainted with life; yet I determined, my knowledge of the town, and its pleasures, should not affect my standing in the religious world. But I was miserably deceived; gradually, my former habits seemed to fade from my recollection…” (Pg. 69) He adds, “I pursued this inconsiderate, destructive course, upwards of a year… Thus did my life exhibit a constant tissue of folly, and indiscretion.” (Pg. 70-71) He recalls, “At length I seemed awakened to a full sense of the horrors of my situation… At this moment, the voice of consolation vibrated upon my mental ear: "Imitate the prodigal of old, Arise, and go unto your Father: … beseech him, nevertheless, to receive you into his service." He was restored by again attending Whitefield’s services. (Pg. 72-73)

But then he was exposed to the preaching of James Relly: “I saw a crowd of people… I inquired of a passenger, what occasioned the assembling of such a multitude; and I was informed, one of James Relly's preachers was disseminating his damnable doctrines to the infatuated people! My soul kindled with indignation; … I could not forbear exclaiming: Merciful God I How is it, that Thou wilt suffer this Demon thus to proceed?” (Pg. 79) He admits, “I had frequently been solicited to hear him, merely that I might be an ear witness of what was termed his blasphemies; but, I arrogantly said, I would not be a murderer of time. Thus I passed on for a number of years, hearing all manner of evil said of Mr. Relly, and believing all I heard, while every day augmented the inveterate hatred, which I bore the man, and his adherents.” (Pg. 91)

He recounts an experience when he and several companions were asked to try and “reclaim” a “poor, deluded young woman” who was influenced by Universalist teachings. She asked him, “what is the unbeliever damned for not believing?” … ‘[E]very individual must believe for himself, that Jesus Christ is his complete Saviour.’ “Why, sir, is Jesus Christ the Saviour of any unbelievers?” ‘No, madam.’ “Why, then, should any unbeliever believe, that Jesus Christ is his Saviour, if he be not his Saviour?” ‘I say, He is not the Saviour of any one, until he believes.’ “Then, if Jesus be not the Saviour of the unbeliever, until he believes, the unbeliever is called upon to believe a lie. It appears to me, sir, that Jesus is the complete Saviour of unbelievers; and that unbelievers are called upon to believe the truth; and that, by believing, they are saved…” ‘No, madam … Jesus never was, nor never will be, the Saviour of any unbeliever.’ “Were you ALWAYS a believer, sir?” ‘No, madam.’ … “Did he never die for you, till you believed, sir?” Here I was extremely embarrassed, and most devoutly wished myself out of her habitation… when we bade her adieu, she enriched us by her good wishes. I suspected, that my religious brethren saw she had the advantage of me; and I felt, that her remarks were indeed unanswerable. (Pg. 91-93)

He admits, “From this period, I myself carefully avoided every Universalist, and most cordially did I hate them. My ear was open to the public calumniator, to the secret whisperer, and I yielded credence to every scandalous report, however improbable.” (Pg. 93) But he acknowledges of Relly, “I confess I felt a strong inclination to see, and hear this monster, once at least… I was prevailed upon to enter his church; but I detested the sight of him; and my mind, prejudiced by the reports, to which I had listened respecting him, was too completely filled with a recollection of his fancied atrocities, to permit a candid attention to his subject, or his mode of investigation.” (Pg. 94)

He happened upon a copy of Relly’s book Union: or, A Treatise of the Consanguinity and Affinity between Christ and His Church and borrowed it, nervously reassuring himself “that the Elect were safe; and that, although they took up any deadly thing, it should not hurt them, I decided to read the Union.” (Pg. 97) “The Union introduced me to many passages of scripture, which had before escaped my observation. A student, as I had been of the scriptures, from the first dawn of my reason, I could not but wonder at myself… One moment I wished from my soul, I had never seen the Union; and the next my heart was enlarged, and lifted up by considerations, which swelled my bosom to ecstasy.” (Pg. 99)

After hearing another of Relly’s sermons, “I never heard truth, unadulterated truth, before… It is the first consistent sermon I have ever heard… I now commenced the reading of the Scriptures, with augmented diligence. The Bible was indeed a new book to me; the veil was taken from my heart, and the word of my God became right precious to my soul. Many scriptures, that I had not before known, forcibly pressed upon my observation; and many, that, until now, I had not suffered myself to believe.” (Pg. 100-101)

After the death of his beloved wife, and on the advice of friends, he embarked for America. When he was encouraged to preach this new Gospel, he worried, “the clergy, of all denominations, would unite to oppose me… convinced that there were no enemies in the world more powerful than the clergy, I trembled at the thought of stemming the full tide of their displeasure.” (Pg. 129) But after he begins preaching in various places, “It appeared to me, that I could trace the hand of God, in bringing me, through a long chain of events, to such a place… so evidently prepared for my reception.” (Pg. 133-134)

He was challenged by a local minister: “‘I wish to know, whether you have church authority for preaching?’ … ‘Sir, I have the same authority for preaching, which the apostle Paul had; he received his mission by the will of God, so have I.' ‘Ay, sir, give us the same miracles Paul wrought, and we will believe you.’ ‘If the power of working miracles were necessary to prove a right to preach the gospel, perhaps you, sir, would be also at a loss to prove your own right, either to preach, or thus to question a fellow creature.’” (Pg. 147-148)

He summarizes, “the truth to be believed… was, that Christ had given himself a ransom for all… the inference was unavoidable… If the Redeemer DID NOT taste death for all; if He has NOT purchased all; then those, for whom He has not tasted death, whom He has not purchased, have no right to believe He has; and were they so to believe, they must indubitably believe a lie.” (Pg. 157)

Meeting a man who was “a self-righteous Calvinist,” he told him, “Sir, I once believed the faithful Creator had called into existence by far the greatest number of human beings, with no other intention, than to consign them to endless misery, rescuing only a few respected persons, from a state of sin and suffering. … The Christ, in whom I formerly confided, was a partial Saviour; but the Christ, in whom I now trust, is the Saviour of the world. … The gospel I preach, is glad tidings to every individual of the human race… in Christ… all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Pg. 167)

When he was offered a church and asked to pastor it, he replied, “I thanked him, most cordially, for his flattering offer; but added, that … [I was] solemnly impressed by a conviction, that I was sent out to preach the gospel; and that, as the servant of God, I must neither loiter by the way, nor seek to evade the spirit of my commission.” (Pg. 170)

Before he could preach in one town, he was asked by a committee, “‘Do ministers in general believe this [Universalism]?’ [He replied] ‘No, we know they do not… [But] Do they not pray, that God … shall bring in his ancient people, the Jews, and with them the fulness of the Gentiles…? For this… clergymen repeatedly pray … Are they such monsters of impiety, as to solicit, for what, they believe the Almighty had determined, before the foundation of the world, he would never grant?’ A profound pause succeeded…” (Pg. 175)

He recounts an encounter with a critic, who admitted, “No one… could take pleasure in the destruction of mankind." … [Murray said] “Why, sir, why should you not take pleasure in that, in which God takes pleasure? … [to] make individuals on purpose to destroy them? … Do you dare say, if you had power, no fellow creature should be lost; and dare you suppose, that He, who hath all power… hath not so much love as you, a finite being? Will He say to you, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you—and will He not do likewise? … He answered with a sigh, "I cannot argue with you, sir, that last observation has weight." (Pg. 178-179)

During one preaching occasion, he recalls, “a large rugged stone, weighing about a pound and a half, was forcibly thrown in at the window behind my back; it missed me. Had it sped, as it was aimed, it must have finished me. Lifting it up, and waving it in the view of the people, I observed: This argument is solid, and weighty, but it is neither rational, nor convincing.” (Pg. 193) He observes, “Yet was the charge of heresy never proved against me. I was never silenced either by reason or scripture—I had called upon men everywhere, clergymen, or laymen, to step forward, and convict me of error… solemnly promising, immediately upon conviction, to relinquish the obnoxious tenet… and to adopt that better way…” (Pg. 194)

At this point, the narrative breaks off, as Murray’s health did not permit him to continue. The Editor continues recounting Murray’s activities from January 1775 to his death in 1815. He recounts that Murray was again challenged, “‘Have you any credentials?’ … [Murray replied] ‘…there are many in this town who have heard me, and received my testimony; they are my credentials… When I came into this country … I believed it to be a land of civil and religious liberty… and every Law made among yourselves, breathed a spirit of toleration, I felt assured I should be allowed liberty of conscience… and I am still convinced, that I ought to preach the Gospel.’” (Pg. 201-202)

The editor concludes, “Such were the leading sentiments of Our Universalist; and he was firmly of opinion, that the doctrines of the Gospel, rightly understood, would teach men, everywhere, to be careful of maintaining good works, to love one another, and in all things to regard the best interest of their brother man.” (Pg. 249)

Although an “old” book, this book will be of immense interest to anyone seriously studying the history of Universalism---particularly in its American form.


The life of Rev. John Murray; Written by himself. The records contain anecdotes of the writer's infancy, and are extended to some years after the ... a brief continuation to the closing scene
The life of Rev. John Murray; Written by himself. The records contain anecdotes of the writer's infancy, and are extended to some years after the ... a brief continuation to the closing scene
by Books Group
Edition: Paperback
Price: $21.79
5 used & new from $21.79

5.0 out of 5 stars THE MEMOIR OF THE “FATHER OF AMERICAN UNIVERSALISM”, June 29, 2016
John Murray (1741-1815) was the founder of the Universalist denomination in the United States. [NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 250-page hardcover edition of 1816.]

He wrote in the Preface of this 1816 book, “The pages, which compose the Volume now presented to the public, were originally designed only for the eye of a tender and beloved friend… to whom the Author was endeared by many years of intimate friendship, and still more by those divine and soul-soothing tenets, of which it was his distinguished lot to be ordained the Promulgator… For those, who loved the philanthropic, the inspired Preacher, for the sake of the glorious inspiration; these sheets will possess the strongest, and most important interest: To such, and to such only, they are addressed.”

He left Ireland for England, and notes, “It was during my protracted residence in this city, that the celebrated Mr. George Whitefield arrived there, upon a visit. Of Mr. Whitefield I had heard much, and I was delighted with an opportunity of seeing, hearing, and conversing with so great a man. He was the first Calvinistic Methodist I had ever heard, and he became very dear to me; I listened with transport.” (Pg. 60)

He laments, “I became what is called very good company, and I resolved to see, and become acquainted with life; yet I determined, my knowledge of the town, and its pleasures, should not affect my standing in the religious world. But I was miserably deceived; gradually, my former habits seemed to fade from my recollection…” (Pg. 69) He adds, “I pursued this inconsiderate, destructive course, upwards of a year… Thus did my life exhibit a constant tissue of folly, and indiscretion.” (Pg. 70-71) He recalls, “At length I seemed awakened to a full sense of the horrors of my situation… At this moment, the voice of consolation vibrated upon my mental ear: "Imitate the prodigal of old, Arise, and go unto your Father: … beseech him, nevertheless, to receive you into his service." He was restored by again attending Whitefield’s services. (Pg. 72-73)

But then he was exposed to the preaching of James Relly: “I saw a crowd of people… I inquired of a passenger, what occasioned the assembling of such a multitude; and I was informed, one of James Relly's preachers was disseminating his damnable doctrines to the infatuated people! My soul kindled with indignation; … I could not forbear exclaiming: Merciful God I How is it, that Thou wilt suffer this Demon thus to proceed?” (Pg. 79) He admits, “I had frequently been solicited to hear him, merely that I might be an ear witness of what was termed his blasphemies; but, I arrogantly said, I would not be a murderer of time. Thus I passed on for a number of years, hearing all manner of evil said of Mr. Relly, and believing all I heard, while every day augmented the inveterate hatred, which I bore the man, and his adherents.” (Pg. 91)

He recounts an experience when he and several companions were asked to try and “reclaim” a “poor, deluded young woman” who was influenced by Universalist teachings. She asked him, “what is the unbeliever damned for not believing?” … ‘[E]very individual must believe for himself, that Jesus Christ is his complete Saviour.’ “Why, sir, is Jesus Christ the Saviour of any unbelievers?” ‘No, madam.’ “Why, then, should any unbeliever believe, that Jesus Christ is his Saviour, if he be not his Saviour?” ‘I say, He is not the Saviour of any one, until he believes.’ “Then, if Jesus be not the Saviour of the unbeliever, until he believes, the unbeliever is called upon to believe a lie. It appears to me, sir, that Jesus is the complete Saviour of unbelievers; and that unbelievers are called upon to believe the truth; and that, by believing, they are saved…” ‘No, madam … Jesus never was, nor never will be, the Saviour of any unbeliever.’ “Were you ALWAYS a believer, sir?” ‘No, madam.’ … “Did he never die for you, till you believed, sir?” Here I was extremely embarrassed, and most devoutly wished myself out of her habitation… when we bade her adieu, she enriched us by her good wishes. I suspected, that my religious brethren saw she had the advantage of me; and I felt, that her remarks were indeed unanswerable. (Pg. 91-93)

He admits, “From this period, I myself carefully avoided every Universalist, and most cordially did I hate them. My ear was open to the public calumniator, to the secret whisperer, and I yielded credence to every scandalous report, however improbable.” (Pg. 93) But he acknowledges of Relly, “I confess I felt a strong inclination to see, and hear this monster, once at least… I was prevailed upon to enter his church; but I detested the sight of him; and my mind, prejudiced by the reports, to which I had listened respecting him, was too completely filled with a recollection of his fancied atrocities, to permit a candid attention to his subject, or his mode of investigation.” (Pg. 94)

He happened upon a copy of Relly’s book Union: or, A Treatise of the Consanguinity and Affinity between Christ and His Church and borrowed it, nervously reassuring himself “that the Elect were safe; and that, although they took up any deadly thing, it should not hurt them, I decided to read the Union.” (Pg. 97) “The Union introduced me to many passages of scripture, which had before escaped my observation. A student, as I had been of the scriptures, from the first dawn of my reason, I could not but wonder at myself… One moment I wished from my soul, I had never seen the Union; and the next my heart was enlarged, and lifted up by considerations, which swelled my bosom to ecstasy.” (Pg. 99)

After hearing another of Relly’s sermons, “I never heard truth, unadulterated truth, before… It is the first consistent sermon I have ever heard… I now commenced the reading of the Scriptures, with augmented diligence. The Bible was indeed a new book to me; the veil was taken from my heart, and the word of my God became right precious to my soul. Many scriptures, that I had not before known, forcibly pressed upon my observation; and many, that, until now, I had not suffered myself to believe.” (Pg. 100-101)

After the death of his beloved wife, and on the advice of friends, he embarked for America. When he was encouraged to preach this new Gospel, he worried, “the clergy, of all denominations, would unite to oppose me… convinced that there were no enemies in the world more powerful than the clergy, I trembled at the thought of stemming the full tide of their displeasure.” (Pg. 129) But after he begins preaching in various places, “It appeared to me, that I could trace the hand of God, in bringing me, through a long chain of events, to such a place… so evidently prepared for my reception.” (Pg. 133-134)

He was challenged by a local minister: “‘I wish to know, whether you have church authority for preaching?’ … ‘Sir, I have the same authority for preaching, which the apostle Paul had; he received his mission by the will of God, so have I.' ‘Ay, sir, give us the same miracles Paul wrought, and we will believe you.’ ‘If the power of working miracles were necessary to prove a right to preach the gospel, perhaps you, sir, would be also at a loss to prove your own right, either to preach, or thus to question a fellow creature.’” (Pg. 147-148)

He summarizes, “the truth to be believed… was, that Christ had given himself a ransom for all… the inference was unavoidable… If the Redeemer DID NOT taste death for all; if He has NOT purchased all; then those, for whom He has not tasted death, whom He has not purchased, have no right to believe He has; and were they so to believe, they must indubitably believe a lie.” (Pg. 157)

Meeting a man who was “a self-righteous Calvinist,” he told him, “Sir, I once believed the faithful Creator had called into existence by far the greatest number of human beings, with no other intention, than to consign them to endless misery, rescuing only a few respected persons, from a state of sin and suffering. … The Christ, in whom I formerly confided, was a partial Saviour; but the Christ, in whom I now trust, is the Saviour of the world. … The gospel I preach, is glad tidings to every individual of the human race… in Christ… all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Pg. 167)

When he was offered a church and asked to pastor it, he replied, “I thanked him, most cordially, for his flattering offer; but added, that … [I was] solemnly impressed by a conviction, that I was sent out to preach the gospel; and that, as the servant of God, I must neither loiter by the way, nor seek to evade the spirit of my commission.” (Pg. 170)

Before he could preach in one town, he was asked by a committee, “‘Do ministers in general believe this [Universalism]?’ [He replied] ‘No, we know they do not… [But] Do they not pray, that God … shall bring in his ancient people, the Jews, and with them the fulness of the Gentiles…? For this… clergymen repeatedly pray … Are they such monsters of impiety, as to solicit, for what, they believe the Almighty had determined, before the foundation of the world, he would never grant?’ A profound pause succeeded…” (Pg. 175)

He recounts an encounter with a critic, who admitted, “No one… could take pleasure in the destruction of mankind." … [Murray said] “Why, sir, why should you not take pleasure in that, in which God takes pleasure? … [to] make individuals on purpose to destroy them? … Do you dare say, if you had power, no fellow creature should be lost; and dare you suppose, that He, who hath all power… hath not so much love as you, a finite being? Will He say to you, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you—and will He not do likewise? … He answered with a sigh, "I cannot argue with you, sir, that last observation has weight." (Pg. 178-179)

During one preaching occasion, he recalls, “a large rugged stone, weighing about a pound and a half, was forcibly thrown in at the window behind my back; it missed me. Had it sped, as it was aimed, it must have finished me. Lifting it up, and waving it in the view of the people, I observed: This argument is solid, and weighty, but it is neither rational, nor convincing.” (Pg. 193) He observes, “Yet was the charge of heresy never proved against me. I was never silenced either by reason or scripture—I had called upon men everywhere, clergymen, or laymen, to step forward, and convict me of error… solemnly promising, immediately upon conviction, to relinquish the obnoxious tenet… and to adopt that better way…” (Pg. 194)

At this point, the narrative breaks off, as Murray’s health did not permit him to continue. The Editor continues recounting Murray’s activities from January 1775 to his death in 1815. He recounts that Murray was again challenged, “‘Have you any credentials?’ … [Murray replied] ‘…there are many in this town who have heard me, and received my testimony; they are my credentials… When I came into this country … I believed it to be a land of civil and religious liberty… and every Law made among yourselves, breathed a spirit of toleration, I felt assured I should be allowed liberty of conscience… and I am still convinced, that I ought to preach the Gospel.’” (Pg. 201-202)

The editor concludes, “Such were the leading sentiments of Our Universalist; and he was firmly of opinion, that the doctrines of the Gospel, rightly understood, would teach men, everywhere, to be careful of maintaining good works, to love one another, and in all things to regard the best interest of their brother man.” (Pg. 249)

Although an “old” book, this book will be of immense interest to anyone seriously studying the history of Universalism---particularly in its American form.


Records of the Life of the REV. John Murray... - Primary Source Edition
Records of the Life of the REV. John Murray... - Primary Source Edition
by John Murray
Edition: Paperback
Price: $26.75
6 used & new from $16.13

5.0 out of 5 stars THE MEMOIR OF THE “FATHER OF AMERICAN UNIVERSALISM”, June 29, 2016
John Murray (1741-1815) was the founder of the Universalist denomination in the United States. [NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 250-page hardcover edition of 1816.]

He wrote in the Preface of this 1816 book, “The pages, which compose the Volume now presented to the public, were originally designed only for the eye of a tender and beloved friend… to whom the Author was endeared by many years of intimate friendship, and still more by those divine and soul-soothing tenets, of which it was his distinguished lot to be ordained the Promulgator… For those, who loved the philanthropic, the inspired Preacher, for the sake of the glorious inspiration; these sheets will possess the strongest, and most important interest: To such, and to such only, they are addressed.”

He left Ireland for England, and notes, “It was during my protracted residence in this city, that the celebrated Mr. George Whitefield arrived there, upon a visit. Of Mr. Whitefield I had heard much, and I was delighted with an opportunity of seeing, hearing, and conversing with so great a man. He was the first Calvinistic Methodist I had ever heard, and he became very dear to me; I listened with transport.” (Pg. 60)

He laments, “I became what is called very good company, and I resolved to see, and become acquainted with life; yet I determined, my knowledge of the town, and its pleasures, should not affect my standing in the religious world. But I was miserably deceived; gradually, my former habits seemed to fade from my recollection…” (Pg. 69) He adds, “I pursued this inconsiderate, destructive course, upwards of a year… Thus did my life exhibit a constant tissue of folly, and indiscretion.” (Pg. 70-71) He recalls, “At length I seemed awakened to a full sense of the horrors of my situation… At this moment, the voice of consolation vibrated upon my mental ear: "Imitate the prodigal of old, Arise, and go unto your Father: … beseech him, nevertheless, to receive you into his service." He was restored by again attending Whitefield’s services. (Pg. 72-73)

But then he was exposed to the preaching of James Relly: “I saw a crowd of people… I inquired of a passenger, what occasioned the assembling of such a multitude; and I was informed, one of James Relly's preachers was disseminating his damnable doctrines to the infatuated people! My soul kindled with indignation; … I could not forbear exclaiming: Merciful God I How is it, that Thou wilt suffer this Demon thus to proceed?” (Pg. 79) He admits, “I had frequently been solicited to hear him, merely that I might be an ear witness of what was termed his blasphemies; but, I arrogantly said, I would not be a murderer of time. Thus I passed on for a number of years, hearing all manner of evil said of Mr. Relly, and believing all I heard, while every day augmented the inveterate hatred, which I bore the man, and his adherents.” (Pg. 91)

He recounts an experience when he and several companions were asked to try and “reclaim” a “poor, deluded young woman” who was influenced by Universalist teachings. She asked him, “what is the unbeliever damned for not believing?” … ‘[E]very individual must believe for himself, that Jesus Christ is his complete Saviour.’ “Why, sir, is Jesus Christ the Saviour of any unbelievers?” ‘No, madam.’ “Why, then, should any unbeliever believe, that Jesus Christ is his Saviour, if he be not his Saviour?” ‘I say, He is not the Saviour of any one, until he believes.’ “Then, if Jesus be not the Saviour of the unbeliever, until he believes, the unbeliever is called upon to believe a lie. It appears to me, sir, that Jesus is the complete Saviour of unbelievers; and that unbelievers are called upon to believe the truth; and that, by believing, they are saved…” ‘No, madam … Jesus never was, nor never will be, the Saviour of any unbeliever.’ “Were you ALWAYS a believer, sir?” ‘No, madam.’ … “Did he never die for you, till you believed, sir?” Here I was extremely embarrassed, and most devoutly wished myself out of her habitation… when we bade her adieu, she enriched us by her good wishes. I suspected, that my religious brethren saw she had the advantage of me; and I felt, that her remarks were indeed unanswerable. (Pg. 91-93)

He admits, “From this period, I myself carefully avoided every Universalist, and most cordially did I hate them. My ear was open to the public calumniator, to the secret whisperer, and I yielded credence to every scandalous report, however improbable.” (Pg. 93) But he acknowledges of Relly, “I confess I felt a strong inclination to see, and hear this monster, once at least… I was prevailed upon to enter his church; but I detested the sight of him; and my mind, prejudiced by the reports, to which I had listened respecting him, was too completely filled with a recollection of his fancied atrocities, to permit a candid attention to his subject, or his mode of investigation.” (Pg. 94)

He happened upon a copy of Relly’s book Union: or, A Treatise of the Consanguinity and Affinity between Christ and His Church and borrowed it, nervously reassuring himself “that the Elect were safe; and that, although they took up any deadly thing, it should not hurt them, I decided to read the Union.” (Pg. 97) “The Union introduced me to many passages of scripture, which had before escaped my observation. A student, as I had been of the scriptures, from the first dawn of my reason, I could not but wonder at myself… One moment I wished from my soul, I had never seen the Union; and the next my heart was enlarged, and lifted up by considerations, which swelled my bosom to ecstasy.” (Pg. 99)

After hearing another of Relly’s sermons, “I never heard truth, unadulterated truth, before… It is the first consistent sermon I have ever heard… I now commenced the reading of the Scriptures, with augmented diligence. The Bible was indeed a new book to me; the veil was taken from my heart, and the word of my God became right precious to my soul. Many scriptures, that I had not before known, forcibly pressed upon my observation; and many, that, until now, I had not suffered myself to believe.” (Pg. 100-101)

After the death of his beloved wife, and on the advice of friends, he embarked for America. When he was encouraged to preach this new Gospel, he worried, “the clergy, of all denominations, would unite to oppose me… convinced that there were no enemies in the world more powerful than the clergy, I trembled at the thought of stemming the full tide of their displeasure.” (Pg. 129) But after he begins preaching in various places, “It appeared to me, that I could trace the hand of God, in bringing me, through a long chain of events, to such a place… so evidently prepared for my reception.” (Pg. 133-134)

He was challenged by a local minister: “‘I wish to know, whether you have church authority for preaching?’ … ‘Sir, I have the same authority for preaching, which the apostle Paul had; he received his mission by the will of God, so have I.' ‘Ay, sir, give us the same miracles Paul wrought, and we will believe you.’ ‘If the power of working miracles were necessary to prove a right to preach the gospel, perhaps you, sir, would be also at a loss to prove your own right, either to preach, or thus to question a fellow creature.’” (Pg. 147-148)

He summarizes, “the truth to be believed… was, that Christ had given himself a ransom for all… the inference was unavoidable… If the Redeemer DID NOT taste death for all; if He has NOT purchased all; then those, for whom He has not tasted death, whom He has not purchased, have no right to believe He has; and were they so to believe, they must indubitably believe a lie.” (Pg. 157)

Meeting a man who was “a self-righteous Calvinist,” he told him, “Sir, I once believed the faithful Creator had called into existence by far the greatest number of human beings, with no other intention, than to consign them to endless misery, rescuing only a few respected persons, from a state of sin and suffering. … The Christ, in whom I formerly confided, was a partial Saviour; but the Christ, in whom I now trust, is the Saviour of the world. … The gospel I preach, is glad tidings to every individual of the human race… in Christ… all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Pg. 167)

When he was offered a church and asked to pastor it, he replied, “I thanked him, most cordially, for his flattering offer; but added, that … [I was] solemnly impressed by a conviction, that I was sent out to preach the gospel; and that, as the servant of God, I must neither loiter by the way, nor seek to evade the spirit of my commission.” (Pg. 170)

Before he could preach in one town, he was asked by a committee, “‘Do ministers in general believe this [Universalism]?’ [He replied] ‘No, we know they do not… [But] Do they not pray, that God … shall bring in his ancient people, the Jews, and with them the fulness of the Gentiles…? For this… clergymen repeatedly pray … Are they such monsters of impiety, as to solicit, for what, they believe the Almighty had determined, before the foundation of the world, he would never grant?’ A profound pause succeeded…” (Pg. 175)

He recounts an encounter with a critic, who admitted, “No one… could take pleasure in the destruction of mankind." … [Murray said] “Why, sir, why should you not take pleasure in that, in which God takes pleasure? … [to] make individuals on purpose to destroy them? … Do you dare say, if you had power, no fellow creature should be lost; and dare you suppose, that He, who hath all power… hath not so much love as you, a finite being? Will He say to you, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you—and will He not do likewise? … He answered with a sigh, "I cannot argue with you, sir, that last observation has weight." (Pg. 178-179)

During one preaching occasion, he recalls, “a large rugged stone, weighing about a pound and a half, was forcibly thrown in at the window behind my back; it missed me. Had it sped, as it was aimed, it must have finished me. Lifting it up, and waving it in the view of the people, I observed: This argument is solid, and weighty, but it is neither rational, nor convincing.” (Pg. 193) He observes, “Yet was the charge of heresy never proved against me. I was never silenced either by reason or scripture—I had called upon men everywhere, clergymen, or laymen, to step forward, and convict me of error… solemnly promising, immediately upon conviction, to relinquish the obnoxious tenet… and to adopt that better way…” (Pg. 194)

At this point, the narrative breaks off, as Murray’s health did not permit him to continue. The Editor continues recounting Murray’s activities from January 1775 to his death in 1815. He recounts that Murray was again challenged, “‘Have you any credentials?’ … [Murray replied] ‘…there are many in this town who have heard me, and received my testimony; they are my credentials… When I came into this country … I believed it to be a land of civil and religious liberty… and every Law made among yourselves, breathed a spirit of toleration, I felt assured I should be allowed liberty of conscience… and I am still convinced, that I ought to preach the Gospel.’” (Pg. 201-202)

The editor concludes, “Such were the leading sentiments of Our Universalist; and he was firmly of opinion, that the doctrines of the Gospel, rightly understood, would teach men, everywhere, to be careful of maintaining good works, to love one another, and in all things to regard the best interest of their brother man.” (Pg. 249)

Although an “old” book, this book will be of immense interest to anyone seriously studying the history of Universalism---particularly in its American form.


RECORDS OF THE LIFE OF THE REV. JOHN MURRAY; Late Minister of the Reconciliation, and Senior Pastor of the Universalists, Congregated in Boston. Written by Himself.
RECORDS OF THE LIFE OF THE REV. JOHN MURRAY; Late Minister of the Reconciliation, and Senior Pastor of the Universalists, Congregated in Boston. Written by Himself.
by John Murray
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars THE MEMOIR OF THE “FATHER OF AMERICAN UNIVERSALISM”, June 29, 2016
John Murray (1741-1815) was the founder of the Universalist denomination in the United States. [NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 250-page hardcover edition of 1816.]

He wrote in the Preface of this 1816 book, “The pages, which compose the Volume now presented to the public, were originally designed only for the eye of a tender and beloved friend… to whom the Author was endeared by many years of intimate friendship, and still more by those divine and soul-soothing tenets, of which it was his distinguished lot to be ordained the Promulgator… For those, who loved the philanthropic, the inspired Preacher, for the sake of the glorious inspiration; these sheets will possess the strongest, and most important interest: To such, and to such only, they are addressed.”

He left Ireland for England, and notes, “It was during my protracted residence in this city, that the celebrated Mr. George Whitefield arrived there, upon a visit. Of Mr. Whitefield I had heard much, and I was delighted with an opportunity of seeing, hearing, and conversing with so great a man. He was the first Calvinistic Methodist I had ever heard, and he became very dear to me; I listened with transport.” (Pg. 60)

He laments, “I became what is called very good company, and I resolved to see, and become acquainted with life; yet I determined, my knowledge of the town, and its pleasures, should not affect my standing in the religious world. But I was miserably deceived; gradually, my former habits seemed to fade from my recollection…” (Pg. 69) He adds, “I pursued this inconsiderate, destructive course, upwards of a year… Thus did my life exhibit a constant tissue of folly, and indiscretion.” (Pg. 70-71) He recalls, “At length I seemed awakened to a full sense of the horrors of my situation… At this moment, the voice of consolation vibrated upon my mental ear: "Imitate the prodigal of old, Arise, and go unto your Father: … beseech him, nevertheless, to receive you into his service." He was restored by again attending Whitefield’s services. (Pg. 72-73)

But then he was exposed to the preaching of James Relly: “I saw a crowd of people… I inquired of a passenger, what occasioned the assembling of such a multitude; and I was informed, one of James Relly's preachers was disseminating his damnable doctrines to the infatuated people! My soul kindled with indignation; … I could not forbear exclaiming: Merciful God I How is it, that Thou wilt suffer this Demon thus to proceed?” (Pg. 79) He admits, “I had frequently been solicited to hear him, merely that I might be an ear witness of what was termed his blasphemies; but, I arrogantly said, I would not be a murderer of time. Thus I passed on for a number of years, hearing all manner of evil said of Mr. Relly, and believing all I heard, while every day augmented the inveterate hatred, which I bore the man, and his adherents.” (Pg. 91)

He recounts an experience when he and several companions were asked to try and “reclaim” a “poor, deluded young woman” who was influenced by Universalist teachings. She asked him, “what is the unbeliever damned for not believing?” … ‘[E]very individual must believe for himself, that Jesus Christ is his complete Saviour.’ “Why, sir, is Jesus Christ the Saviour of any unbelievers?” ‘No, madam.’ “Why, then, should any unbeliever believe, that Jesus Christ is his Saviour, if he be not his Saviour?” ‘I say, He is not the Saviour of any one, until he believes.’ “Then, if Jesus be not the Saviour of the unbeliever, until he believes, the unbeliever is called upon to believe a lie. It appears to me, sir, that Jesus is the complete Saviour of unbelievers; and that unbelievers are called upon to believe the truth; and that, by believing, they are saved…” ‘No, madam … Jesus never was, nor never will be, the Saviour of any unbeliever.’ “Were you ALWAYS a believer, sir?” ‘No, madam.’ … “Did he never die for you, till you believed, sir?” Here I was extremely embarrassed, and most devoutly wished myself out of her habitation… when we bade her adieu, she enriched us by her good wishes. I suspected, that my religious brethren saw she had the advantage of me; and I felt, that her remarks were indeed unanswerable. (Pg. 91-93)

He admits, “From this period, I myself carefully avoided every Universalist, and most cordially did I hate them. My ear was open to the public calumniator, to the secret whisperer, and I yielded credence to every scandalous report, however improbable.” (Pg. 93) But he acknowledges of Relly, “I confess I felt a strong inclination to see, and hear this monster, once at least… I was prevailed upon to enter his church; but I detested the sight of him; and my mind, prejudiced by the reports, to which I had listened respecting him, was too completely filled with a recollection of his fancied atrocities, to permit a candid attention to his subject, or his mode of investigation.” (Pg. 94)

He happened upon a copy of Relly’s book Union: or, A Treatise of the Consanguinity and Affinity between Christ and His Church and borrowed it, nervously reassuring himself “that the Elect were safe; and that, although they took up any deadly thing, it should not hurt them, I decided to read the Union.” (Pg. 97) “The Union introduced me to many passages of scripture, which had before escaped my observation. A student, as I had been of the scriptures, from the first dawn of my reason, I could not but wonder at myself… One moment I wished from my soul, I had never seen the Union; and the next my heart was enlarged, and lifted up by considerations, which swelled my bosom to ecstasy.” (Pg. 99)

After hearing another of Relly’s sermons, “I never heard truth, unadulterated truth, before… It is the first consistent sermon I have ever heard… I now commenced the reading of the Scriptures, with augmented diligence. The Bible was indeed a new book to me; the veil was taken from my heart, and the word of my God became right precious to my soul. Many scriptures, that I had not before known, forcibly pressed upon my observation; and many, that, until now, I had not suffered myself to believe.” (Pg. 100-101)

After the death of his beloved wife, and on the advice of friends, he embarked for America. When he was encouraged to preach this new Gospel, he worried, “the clergy, of all denominations, would unite to oppose me… convinced that there were no enemies in the world more powerful than the clergy, I trembled at the thought of stemming the full tide of their displeasure.” (Pg. 129) But after he begins preaching in various places, “It appeared to me, that I could trace the hand of God, in bringing me, through a long chain of events, to such a place… so evidently prepared for my reception.” (Pg. 133-134)

He was challenged by a local minister: “‘I wish to know, whether you have church authority for preaching?’ … ‘Sir, I have the same authority for preaching, which the apostle Paul had; he received his mission by the will of God, so have I.' ‘Ay, sir, give us the same miracles Paul wrought, and we will believe you.’ ‘If the power of working miracles were necessary to prove a right to preach the gospel, perhaps you, sir, would be also at a loss to prove your own right, either to preach, or thus to question a fellow creature.’” (Pg. 147-148)

He summarizes, “the truth to be believed… was, that Christ had given himself a ransom for all… the inference was unavoidable… If the Redeemer DID NOT taste death for all; if He has NOT purchased all; then those, for whom He has not tasted death, whom He has not purchased, have no right to believe He has; and were they so to believe, they must indubitably believe a lie.” (Pg. 157)

Meeting a man who was “a self-righteous Calvinist,” he told him, “Sir, I once believed the faithful Creator had called into existence by far the greatest number of human beings, with no other intention, than to consign them to endless misery, rescuing only a few respected persons, from a state of sin and suffering. … The Christ, in whom I formerly confided, was a partial Saviour; but the Christ, in whom I now trust, is the Saviour of the world. … The gospel I preach, is glad tidings to every individual of the human race… in Christ… all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Pg. 167)

When he was offered a church and asked to pastor it, he replied, “I thanked him, most cordially, for his flattering offer; but added, that … [I was] solemnly impressed by a conviction, that I was sent out to preach the gospel; and that, as the servant of God, I must neither loiter by the way, nor seek to evade the spirit of my commission.” (Pg. 170)

Before he could preach in one town, he was asked by a committee, “‘Do ministers in general believe this [Universalism]?’ [He replied] ‘No, we know they do not… [But] Do they not pray, that God … shall bring in his ancient people, the Jews, and with them the fulness of the Gentiles…? For this… clergymen repeatedly pray … Are they such monsters of impiety, as to solicit, for what, they believe the Almighty had determined, before the foundation of the world, he would never grant?’ A profound pause succeeded…” (Pg. 175)

He recounts an encounter with a critic, who admitted, “No one… could take pleasure in the destruction of mankind." … [Murray said] “Why, sir, why should you not take pleasure in that, in which God takes pleasure? … [to] make individuals on purpose to destroy them? … Do you dare say, if you had power, no fellow creature should be lost; and dare you suppose, that He, who hath all power… hath not so much love as you, a finite being? Will He say to you, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you—and will He not do likewise? … He answered with a sigh, "I cannot argue with you, sir, that last observation has weight." (Pg. 178-179)

During one preaching occasion, he recalls, “a large rugged stone, weighing about a pound and a half, was forcibly thrown in at the window behind my back; it missed me. Had it sped, as it was aimed, it must have finished me. Lifting it up, and waving it in the view of the people, I observed: This argument is solid, and weighty, but it is neither rational, nor convincing.” (Pg. 193) He observes, “Yet was the charge of heresy never proved against me. I was never silenced either by reason or scripture—I had called upon men everywhere, clergymen, or laymen, to step forward, and convict me of error… solemnly promising, immediately upon conviction, to relinquish the obnoxious tenet… and to adopt that better way…” (Pg. 194)

At this point, the narrative breaks off, as Murray’s health did not permit him to continue. The Editor continues recounting Murray’s activities from January 1775 to his death in 1815. He recounts that Murray was again challenged, “‘Have you any credentials?’ … [Murray replied] ‘…there are many in this town who have heard me, and received my testimony; they are my credentials… When I came into this country … I believed it to be a land of civil and religious liberty… and every Law made among yourselves, breathed a spirit of toleration, I felt assured I should be allowed liberty of conscience… and I am still convinced, that I ought to preach the Gospel.’” (Pg. 201-202)

The editor concludes, “Such were the leading sentiments of Our Universalist; and he was firmly of opinion, that the doctrines of the Gospel, rightly understood, would teach men, everywhere, to be careful of maintaining good works, to love one another, and in all things to regard the best interest of their brother man.” (Pg. 249)

Although an “old” book, this book will be of immense interest to anyone seriously studying the history of Universalism---particularly in its American form.


Records of the Life of the Rev. John Murray
Records of the Life of the Rev. John Murray
by Murray John 1741-1815
Edition: Paperback
Price: $24.95
7 used & new from $24.94

5.0 out of 5 stars THE MEMOIR OF THE “FATHER OF AMERICAN UNIVERSALISM”, June 29, 2016
John Murray (1741-1815) was the founder of the Universalist denomination in the United States. [NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 250-page hardcover edition of 1816.]

He wrote in the Preface of this 1816 book, “The pages, which compose the Volume now presented to the public, were originally designed only for the eye of a tender and beloved friend… to whom the Author was endeared by many years of intimate friendship, and still more by those divine and soul-soothing tenets, of which it was his distinguished lot to be ordained the Promulgator… For those, who loved the philanthropic, the inspired Preacher, for the sake of the glorious inspiration; these sheets will possess the strongest, and most important interest: To such, and to such only, they are addressed.”

He left Ireland for England, and notes, “It was during my protracted residence in this city, that the celebrated Mr. George Whitefield arrived there, upon a visit. Of Mr. Whitefield I had heard much, and I was delighted with an opportunity of seeing, hearing, and conversing with so great a man. He was the first Calvinistic Methodist I had ever heard, and he became very dear to me; I listened with transport.” (Pg. 60)

He laments, “I became what is called very good company, and I resolved to see, and become acquainted with life; yet I determined, my knowledge of the town, and its pleasures, should not affect my standing in the religious world. But I was miserably deceived; gradually, my former habits seemed to fade from my recollection…” (Pg. 69) He adds, “I pursued this inconsiderate, destructive course, upwards of a year… Thus did my life exhibit a constant tissue of folly, and indiscretion.” (Pg. 70-71) He recalls, “At length I seemed awakened to a full sense of the horrors of my situation… At this moment, the voice of consolation vibrated upon my mental ear: "Imitate the prodigal of old, Arise, and go unto your Father: … beseech him, nevertheless, to receive you into his service." He was restored by again attending Whitefield’s services. (Pg. 72-73)

But then he was exposed to the preaching of James Relly: “I saw a crowd of people… I inquired of a passenger, what occasioned the assembling of such a multitude; and I was informed, one of James Relly's preachers was disseminating his damnable doctrines to the infatuated people! My soul kindled with indignation; … I could not forbear exclaiming: Merciful God I How is it, that Thou wilt suffer this Demon thus to proceed?” (Pg. 79) He admits, “I had frequently been solicited to hear him, merely that I might be an ear witness of what was termed his blasphemies; but, I arrogantly said, I would not be a murderer of time. Thus I passed on for a number of years, hearing all manner of evil said of Mr. Relly, and believing all I heard, while every day augmented the inveterate hatred, which I bore the man, and his adherents.” (Pg. 91)

He recounts an experience when he and several companions were asked to try and “reclaim” a “poor, deluded young woman” who was influenced by Universalist teachings. She asked him, “what is the unbeliever damned for not believing?” … ‘[E]very individual must believe for himself, that Jesus Christ is his complete Saviour.’ “Why, sir, is Jesus Christ the Saviour of any unbelievers?” ‘No, madam.’ “Why, then, should any unbeliever believe, that Jesus Christ is his Saviour, if he be not his Saviour?” ‘I say, He is not the Saviour of any one, until he believes.’ “Then, if Jesus be not the Saviour of the unbeliever, until he believes, the unbeliever is called upon to believe a lie. It appears to me, sir, that Jesus is the complete Saviour of unbelievers; and that unbelievers are called upon to believe the truth; and that, by believing, they are saved…” ‘No, madam … Jesus never was, nor never will be, the Saviour of any unbeliever.’ “Were you ALWAYS a believer, sir?” ‘No, madam.’ … “Did he never die for you, till you believed, sir?” Here I was extremely embarrassed, and most devoutly wished myself out of her habitation… when we bade her adieu, she enriched us by her good wishes. I suspected, that my religious brethren saw she had the advantage of me; and I felt, that her remarks were indeed unanswerable. (Pg. 91-93)

He admits, “From this period, I myself carefully avoided every Universalist, and most cordially did I hate them. My ear was open to the public calumniator, to the secret whisperer, and I yielded credence to every scandalous report, however improbable.” (Pg. 93) But he acknowledges of Relly, “I confess I felt a strong inclination to see, and hear this monster, once at least… I was prevailed upon to enter his church; but I detested the sight of him; and my mind, prejudiced by the reports, to which I had listened respecting him, was too completely filled with a recollection of his fancied atrocities, to permit a candid attention to his subject, or his mode of investigation.” (Pg. 94)

He happened upon a copy of Relly’s book Union: or, A Treatise of the Consanguinity and Affinity between Christ and His Church and borrowed it, nervously reassuring himself “that the Elect were safe; and that, although they took up any deadly thing, it should not hurt them, I decided to read the Union.” (Pg. 97) “The Union introduced me to many passages of scripture, which had before escaped my observation. A student, as I had been of the scriptures, from the first dawn of my reason, I could not but wonder at myself… One moment I wished from my soul, I had never seen the Union; and the next my heart was enlarged, and lifted up by considerations, which swelled my bosom to ecstasy.” (Pg. 99)

After hearing another of Relly’s sermons, “I never heard truth, unadulterated truth, before… It is the first consistent sermon I have ever heard… I now commenced the reading of the Scriptures, with augmented diligence. The Bible was indeed a new book to me; the veil was taken from my heart, and the word of my God became right precious to my soul. Many scriptures, that I had not before known, forcibly pressed upon my observation; and many, that, until now, I had not suffered myself to believe.” (Pg. 100-101)

After the death of his beloved wife, and on the advice of friends, he embarked for America. When he was encouraged to preach this new Gospel, he worried, “the clergy, of all denominations, would unite to oppose me… convinced that there were no enemies in the world more powerful than the clergy, I trembled at the thought of stemming the full tide of their displeasure.” (Pg. 129) But after he begins preaching in various places, “It appeared to me, that I could trace the hand of God, in bringing me, through a long chain of events, to such a place… so evidently prepared for my reception.” (Pg. 133-134)

He was challenged by a local minister: “‘I wish to know, whether you have church authority for preaching?’ … ‘Sir, I have the same authority for preaching, which the apostle Paul had; he received his mission by the will of God, so have I.' ‘Ay, sir, give us the same miracles Paul wrought, and we will believe you.’ ‘If the power of working miracles were necessary to prove a right to preach the gospel, perhaps you, sir, would be also at a loss to prove your own right, either to preach, or thus to question a fellow creature.’” (Pg. 147-148)

He summarizes, “the truth to be believed… was, that Christ had given himself a ransom for all… the inference was unavoidable… If the Redeemer DID NOT taste death for all; if He has NOT purchased all; then those, for whom He has not tasted death, whom He has not purchased, have no right to believe He has; and were they so to believe, they must indubitably believe a lie.” (Pg. 157)

Meeting a man who was “a self-righteous Calvinist,” he told him, “Sir, I once believed the faithful Creator had called into existence by far the greatest number of human beings, with no other intention, than to consign them to endless misery, rescuing only a few respected persons, from a state of sin and suffering. … The Christ, in whom I formerly confided, was a partial Saviour; but the Christ, in whom I now trust, is the Saviour of the world. … The gospel I preach, is glad tidings to every individual of the human race… in Christ… all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Pg. 167)

When he was offered a church and asked to pastor it, he replied, “I thanked him, most cordially, for his flattering offer; but added, that … [I was] solemnly impressed by a conviction, that I was sent out to preach the gospel; and that, as the servant of God, I must neither loiter by the way, nor seek to evade the spirit of my commission.” (Pg. 170)

Before he could preach in one town, he was asked by a committee, “‘Do ministers in general believe this [Universalism]?’ [He replied] ‘No, we know they do not… [But] Do they not pray, that God … shall bring in his ancient people, the Jews, and with them the fulness of the Gentiles…? For this… clergymen repeatedly pray … Are they such monsters of impiety, as to solicit, for what, they believe the Almighty had determined, before the foundation of the world, he would never grant?’ A profound pause succeeded…” (Pg. 175)

He recounts an encounter with a critic, who admitted, “No one… could take pleasure in the destruction of mankind." … [Murray said] “Why, sir, why should you not take pleasure in that, in which God takes pleasure? … [to] make individuals on purpose to destroy them? … Do you dare say, if you had power, no fellow creature should be lost; and dare you suppose, that He, who hath all power… hath not so much love as you, a finite being? Will He say to you, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you—and will He not do likewise? … He answered with a sigh, "I cannot argue with you, sir, that last observation has weight." (Pg. 178-179)

During one preaching occasion, he recalls, “a large rugged stone, weighing about a pound and a half, was forcibly thrown in at the window behind my back; it missed me. Had it sped, as it was aimed, it must have finished me. Lifting it up, and waving it in the view of the people, I observed: This argument is solid, and weighty, but it is neither rational, nor convincing.” (Pg. 193) He observes, “Yet was the charge of heresy never proved against me. I was never silenced either by reason or scripture—I had called upon men everywhere, clergymen, or laymen, to step forward, and convict me of error… solemnly promising, immediately upon conviction, to relinquish the obnoxious tenet… and to adopt that better way…” (Pg. 194)

At this point, the narrative breaks off, as Murray’s health did not permit him to continue. The Editor continues recounting Murray’s activities from January 1775 to his death in 1815. He recounts that Murray was again challenged, “‘Have you any credentials?’ … [Murray replied] ‘…there are many in this town who have heard me, and received my testimony; they are my credentials… When I came into this country … I believed it to be a land of civil and religious liberty… and every Law made among yourselves, breathed a spirit of toleration, I felt assured I should be allowed liberty of conscience… and I am still convinced, that I ought to preach the Gospel.’” (Pg. 201-202)

The editor concludes, “Such were the leading sentiments of Our Universalist; and he was firmly of opinion, that the doctrines of the Gospel, rightly understood, would teach men, everywhere, to be careful of maintaining good works, to love one another, and in all things to regard the best interest of their brother man.” (Pg. 249)

Although an “old” book, this book will be of immense interest to anyone seriously studying the history of Universalism---particularly in its American form.


Records of the Life of the REV. John Murray
Records of the Life of the REV. John Murray
Price: $26.95
2 used & new from $26.95

5.0 out of 5 stars THE MEMOIR OF THE “FATHER OF AMERICAN UNIVERSALISM”, June 29, 2016
John Murray (1741-1815) was the founder of the Universalist denomination in the United States. [NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 250-page hardcover edition of 1816.]

He wrote in the Preface of this 1816 book, “The pages, which compose the Volume now presented to the public, were originally designed only for the eye of a tender and beloved friend… to whom the Author was endeared by many years of intimate friendship, and still more by those divine and soul-soothing tenets, of which it was his distinguished lot to be ordained the Promulgator… For those, who loved the philanthropic, the inspired Preacher, for the sake of the glorious inspiration; these sheets will possess the strongest, and most important interest: To such, and to such only, they are addressed.”

He left Ireland for England, and notes, “It was during my protracted residence in this city, that the celebrated Mr. George Whitefield arrived there, upon a visit. Of Mr. Whitefield I had heard much, and I was delighted with an opportunity of seeing, hearing, and conversing with so great a man. He was the first Calvinistic Methodist I had ever heard, and he became very dear to me; I listened with transport.” (Pg. 60)

He laments, “I became what is called very good company, and I resolved to see, and become acquainted with life; yet I determined, my knowledge of the town, and its pleasures, should not affect my standing in the religious world. But I was miserably deceived; gradually, my former habits seemed to fade from my recollection…” (Pg. 69) He adds, “I pursued this inconsiderate, destructive course, upwards of a year… Thus did my life exhibit a constant tissue of folly, and indiscretion.” (Pg. 70-71) He recalls, “At length I seemed awakened to a full sense of the horrors of my situation… At this moment, the voice of consolation vibrated upon my mental ear: "Imitate the prodigal of old, Arise, and go unto your Father: … beseech him, nevertheless, to receive you into his service." He was restored by again attending Whitefield’s services. (Pg. 72-73)

But then he was exposed to the preaching of James Relly: “I saw a crowd of people… I inquired of a passenger, what occasioned the assembling of such a multitude; and I was informed, one of James Relly's preachers was disseminating his damnable doctrines to the infatuated people! My soul kindled with indignation; … I could not forbear exclaiming: Merciful God I How is it, that Thou wilt suffer this Demon thus to proceed?” (Pg. 79) He admits, “I had frequently been solicited to hear him, merely that I might be an ear witness of what was termed his blasphemies; but, I arrogantly said, I would not be a murderer of time. Thus I passed on for a number of years, hearing all manner of evil said of Mr. Relly, and believing all I heard, while every day augmented the inveterate hatred, which I bore the man, and his adherents.” (Pg. 91)

He recounts an experience when he and several companions were asked to try and “reclaim” a “poor, deluded young woman” who was influenced by Universalist teachings. She asked him, “what is the unbeliever damned for not believing?” … ‘[E]very individual must believe for himself, that Jesus Christ is his complete Saviour.’ “Why, sir, is Jesus Christ the Saviour of any unbelievers?” ‘No, madam.’ “Why, then, should any unbeliever believe, that Jesus Christ is his Saviour, if he be not his Saviour?” ‘I say, He is not the Saviour of any one, until he believes.’ “Then, if Jesus be not the Saviour of the unbeliever, until he believes, the unbeliever is called upon to believe a lie. It appears to me, sir, that Jesus is the complete Saviour of unbelievers; and that unbelievers are called upon to believe the truth; and that, by believing, they are saved…” ‘No, madam … Jesus never was, nor never will be, the Saviour of any unbeliever.’ “Were you ALWAYS a believer, sir?” ‘No, madam.’ … “Did he never die for you, till you believed, sir?” Here I was extremely embarrassed, and most devoutly wished myself out of her habitation… when we bade her adieu, she enriched us by her good wishes. I suspected, that my religious brethren saw she had the advantage of me; and I felt, that her remarks were indeed unanswerable. (Pg. 91-93)

He admits, “From this period, I myself carefully avoided every Universalist, and most cordially did I hate them. My ear was open to the public calumniator, to the secret whisperer, and I yielded credence to every scandalous report, however improbable.” (Pg. 93) But he acknowledges of Relly, “I confess I felt a strong inclination to see, and hear this monster, once at least… I was prevailed upon to enter his church; but I detested the sight of him; and my mind, prejudiced by the reports, to which I had listened respecting him, was too completely filled with a recollection of his fancied atrocities, to permit a candid attention to his subject, or his mode of investigation.” (Pg. 94)

He happened upon a copy of Relly’s book Union: or, A Treatise of the Consanguinity and Affinity between Christ and His Church and borrowed it, nervously reassuring himself “that the Elect were safe; and that, although they took up any deadly thing, it should not hurt them, I decided to read the Union.” (Pg. 97) “The Union introduced me to many passages of scripture, which had before escaped my observation. A student, as I had been of the scriptures, from the first dawn of my reason, I could not but wonder at myself… One moment I wished from my soul, I had never seen the Union; and the next my heart was enlarged, and lifted up by considerations, which swelled my bosom to ecstasy.” (Pg. 99)

After hearing another of Relly’s sermons, “I never heard truth, unadulterated truth, before… It is the first consistent sermon I have ever heard… I now commenced the reading of the Scriptures, with augmented diligence. The Bible was indeed a new book to me; the veil was taken from my heart, and the word of my God became right precious to my soul. Many scriptures, that I had not before known, forcibly pressed upon my observation; and many, that, until now, I had not suffered myself to believe.” (Pg. 100-101)

After the death of his beloved wife, and on the advice of friends, he embarked for America. When he was encouraged to preach this new Gospel, he worried, “the clergy, of all denominations, would unite to oppose me… convinced that there were no enemies in the world more powerful than the clergy, I trembled at the thought of stemming the full tide of their displeasure.” (Pg. 129) But after he begins preaching in various places, “It appeared to me, that I could trace the hand of God, in bringing me, through a long chain of events, to such a place… so evidently prepared for my reception.” (Pg. 133-134)

He was challenged by a local minister: “‘I wish to know, whether you have church authority for preaching?’ … ‘Sir, I have the same authority for preaching, which the apostle Paul had; he received his mission by the will of God, so have I.' ‘Ay, sir, give us the same miracles Paul wrought, and we will believe you.’ ‘If the power of working miracles were necessary to prove a right to preach the gospel, perhaps you, sir, would be also at a loss to prove your own right, either to preach, or thus to question a fellow creature.’” (Pg. 147-148)

He summarizes, “the truth to be believed… was, that Christ had given himself a ransom for all… the inference was unavoidable… If the Redeemer DID NOT taste death for all; if He has NOT purchased all; then those, for whom He has not tasted death, whom He has not purchased, have no right to believe He has; and were they so to believe, they must indubitably believe a lie.” (Pg. 157)

Meeting a man who was “a self-righteous Calvinist,” he told him, “Sir, I once believed the faithful Creator had called into existence by far the greatest number of human beings, with no other intention, than to consign them to endless misery, rescuing only a few respected persons, from a state of sin and suffering. … The Christ, in whom I formerly confided, was a partial Saviour; but the Christ, in whom I now trust, is the Saviour of the world. … The gospel I preach, is glad tidings to every individual of the human race… in Christ… all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Pg. 167)

When he was offered a church and asked to pastor it, he replied, “I thanked him, most cordially, for his flattering offer; but added, that … [I was] solemnly impressed by a conviction, that I was sent out to preach the gospel; and that, as the servant of God, I must neither loiter by the way, nor seek to evade the spirit of my commission.” (Pg. 170)

Before he could preach in one town, he was asked by a committee, “‘Do ministers in general believe this [Universalism]?’ [He replied] ‘No, we know they do not… [But] Do they not pray, that God … shall bring in his ancient people, the Jews, and with them the fulness of the Gentiles…? For this… clergymen repeatedly pray … Are they such monsters of impiety, as to solicit, for what, they believe the Almighty had determined, before the foundation of the world, he would never grant?’ A profound pause succeeded…” (Pg. 175)

He recounts an encounter with a critic, who admitted, “No one… could take pleasure in the destruction of mankind." … [Murray said] “Why, sir, why should you not take pleasure in that, in which God takes pleasure? … [to] make individuals on purpose to destroy them? … Do you dare say, if you had power, no fellow creature should be lost; and dare you suppose, that He, who hath all power… hath not so much love as you, a finite being? Will He say to you, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you—and will He not do likewise? … He answered with a sigh, "I cannot argue with you, sir, that last observation has weight." (Pg. 178-179)

During one preaching occasion, he recalls, “a large rugged stone, weighing about a pound and a half, was forcibly thrown in at the window behind my back; it missed me. Had it sped, as it was aimed, it must have finished me. Lifting it up, and waving it in the view of the people, I observed: This argument is solid, and weighty, but it is neither rational, nor convincing.” (Pg. 193) He observes, “Yet was the charge of heresy never proved against me. I was never silenced either by reason or scripture—I had called upon men everywhere, clergymen, or laymen, to step forward, and convict me of error… solemnly promising, immediately upon conviction, to relinquish the obnoxious tenet… and to adopt that better way…” (Pg. 194)

At this point, the narrative breaks off, as Murray’s health did not permit him to continue. The Editor continues recounting Murray’s activities from January 1775 to his death in 1815. He recounts that Murray was again challenged, “‘Have you any credentials?’ … [Murray replied] ‘…there are many in this town who have heard me, and received my testimony; they are my credentials… When I came into this country … I believed it to be a land of civil and religious liberty… and every Law made among yourselves, breathed a spirit of toleration, I felt assured I should be allowed liberty of conscience… and I am still convinced, that I ought to preach the Gospel.’” (Pg. 201-202)

The editor concludes, “Such were the leading sentiments of Our Universalist; and he was firmly of opinion, that the doctrines of the Gospel, rightly understood, would teach men, everywhere, to be careful of maintaining good works, to love one another, and in all things to regard the best interest of their brother man.” (Pg. 249)

Although an “old” book, this book will be of immense interest to anyone seriously studying the history of Universalism---particularly in its American form.


Records of the life of the Rev. John Murray
Records of the life of the Rev. John Murray
by John Murray
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.99

5.0 out of 5 stars THE MEMOIR OF THE “FATHER OF AMERICAN UNIVERSALISM”, June 29, 2016
John Murray (1741-1815) was the founder of the Universalist denomination in the United States. [NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 250-page hardcover edition of 1816.]

He wrote in the Preface of this 1816 book, “The pages, which compose the Volume now presented to the public, were originally designed only for the eye of a tender and beloved friend… to whom the Author was endeared by many years of intimate friendship, and still more by those divine and soul-soothing tenets, of which it was his distinguished lot to be ordained the Promulgator… For those, who loved the philanthropic, the inspired Preacher, for the sake of the glorious inspiration; these sheets will possess the strongest, and most important interest: To such, and to such only, they are addressed.”

He left Ireland for England, and notes, “It was during my protracted residence in this city, that the celebrated Mr. George Whitefield arrived there, upon a visit. Of Mr. Whitefield I had heard much, and I was delighted with an opportunity of seeing, hearing, and conversing with so great a man. He was the first Calvinistic Methodist I had ever heard, and he became very dear to me; I listened with transport.” (Pg. 60)

He laments, “I became what is called very good company, and I resolved to see, and become acquainted with life; yet I determined, my knowledge of the town, and its pleasures, should not affect my standing in the religious world. But I was miserably deceived; gradually, my former habits seemed to fade from my recollection…” (Pg. 69) He adds, “I pursued this inconsiderate, destructive course, upwards of a year… Thus did my life exhibit a constant tissue of folly, and indiscretion.” (Pg. 70-71) He recalls, “At length I seemed awakened to a full sense of the horrors of my situation… At this moment, the voice of consolation vibrated upon my mental ear: "Imitate the prodigal of old, Arise, and go unto your Father: … beseech him, nevertheless, to receive you into his service." He was restored by again attending Whitefield’s services. (Pg. 72-73)

But then he was exposed to the preaching of James Relly: “I saw a crowd of people… I inquired of a passenger, what occasioned the assembling of such a multitude; and I was informed, one of James Relly's preachers was disseminating his damnable doctrines to the infatuated people! My soul kindled with indignation; … I could not forbear exclaiming: Merciful God I How is it, that Thou wilt suffer this Demon thus to proceed?” (Pg. 79) He admits, “I had frequently been solicited to hear him, merely that I might be an ear witness of what was termed his blasphemies; but, I arrogantly said, I would not be a murderer of time. Thus I passed on for a number of years, hearing all manner of evil said of Mr. Relly, and believing all I heard, while every day augmented the inveterate hatred, which I bore the man, and his adherents.” (Pg. 91)

He recounts an experience when he and several companions were asked to try and “reclaim” a “poor, deluded young woman” who was influenced by Universalist teachings. She asked him, “what is the unbeliever damned for not believing?” … ‘[E]very individual must believe for himself, that Jesus Christ is his complete Saviour.’ “Why, sir, is Jesus Christ the Saviour of any unbelievers?” ‘No, madam.’ “Why, then, should any unbeliever believe, that Jesus Christ is his Saviour, if he be not his Saviour?” ‘I say, He is not the Saviour of any one, until he believes.’ “Then, if Jesus be not the Saviour of the unbeliever, until he believes, the unbeliever is called upon to believe a lie. It appears to me, sir, that Jesus is the complete Saviour of unbelievers; and that unbelievers are called upon to believe the truth; and that, by believing, they are saved…” ‘No, madam … Jesus never was, nor never will be, the Saviour of any unbeliever.’ “Were you ALWAYS a believer, sir?” ‘No, madam.’ … “Did he never die for you, till you believed, sir?” Here I was extremely embarrassed, and most devoutly wished myself out of her habitation… when we bade her adieu, she enriched us by her good wishes. I suspected, that my religious brethren saw she had the advantage of me; and I felt, that her remarks were indeed unanswerable. (Pg. 91-93)

He admits, “From this period, I myself carefully avoided every Universalist, and most cordially did I hate them. My ear was open to the public calumniator, to the secret whisperer, and I yielded credence to every scandalous report, however improbable.” (Pg. 93) But he acknowledges of Relly, “I confess I felt a strong inclination to see, and hear this monster, once at least… I was prevailed upon to enter his church; but I detested the sight of him; and my mind, prejudiced by the reports, to which I had listened respecting him, was too completely filled with a recollection of his fancied atrocities, to permit a candid attention to his subject, or his mode of investigation.” (Pg. 94)

He happened upon a copy of Relly’s book Union: or, A Treatise of the Consanguinity and Affinity between Christ and His Church and borrowed it, nervously reassuring himself “that the Elect were safe; and that, although they took up any deadly thing, it should not hurt them, I decided to read the Union.” (Pg. 97) “The Union introduced me to many passages of scripture, which had before escaped my observation. A student, as I had been of the scriptures, from the first dawn of my reason, I could not but wonder at myself… One moment I wished from my soul, I had never seen the Union; and the next my heart was enlarged, and lifted up by considerations, which swelled my bosom to ecstasy.” (Pg. 99)

After hearing another of Relly’s sermons, “I never heard truth, unadulterated truth, before… It is the first consistent sermon I have ever heard… I now commenced the reading of the Scriptures, with augmented diligence. The Bible was indeed a new book to me; the veil was taken from my heart, and the word of my God became right precious to my soul. Many scriptures, that I had not before known, forcibly pressed upon my observation; and many, that, until now, I had not suffered myself to believe.” (Pg. 100-101)

After the death of his beloved wife, and on the advice of friends, he embarked for America. When he was encouraged to preach this new Gospel, he worried, “the clergy, of all denominations, would unite to oppose me… convinced that there were no enemies in the world more powerful than the clergy, I trembled at the thought of stemming the full tide of their displeasure.” (Pg. 129) But after he begins preaching in various places, “It appeared to me, that I could trace the hand of God, in bringing me, through a long chain of events, to such a place… so evidently prepared for my reception.” (Pg. 133-134)

He was challenged by a local minister: “‘I wish to know, whether you have church authority for preaching?’ … ‘Sir, I have the same authority for preaching, which the apostle Paul had; he received his mission by the will of God, so have I.' ‘Ay, sir, give us the same miracles Paul wrought, and we will believe you.’ ‘If the power of working miracles were necessary to prove a right to preach the gospel, perhaps you, sir, would be also at a loss to prove your own right, either to preach, or thus to question a fellow creature.’” (Pg. 147-148)

He summarizes, “the truth to be believed… was, that Christ had given himself a ransom for all… the inference was unavoidable… If the Redeemer DID NOT taste death for all; if He has NOT purchased all; then those, for whom He has not tasted death, whom He has not purchased, have no right to believe He has; and were they so to believe, they must indubitably believe a lie.” (Pg. 157)

Meeting a man who was “a self-righteous Calvinist,” he told him, “Sir, I once believed the faithful Creator had called into existence by far the greatest number of human beings, with no other intention, than to consign them to endless misery, rescuing only a few respected persons, from a state of sin and suffering. … The Christ, in whom I formerly confided, was a partial Saviour; but the Christ, in whom I now trust, is the Saviour of the world. … The gospel I preach, is glad tidings to every individual of the human race… in Christ… all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Pg. 167)

When he was offered a church and asked to pastor it, he replied, “I thanked him, most cordially, for his flattering offer; but added, that … [I was] solemnly impressed by a conviction, that I was sent out to preach the gospel; and that, as the servant of God, I must neither loiter by the way, nor seek to evade the spirit of my commission.” (Pg. 170)

Before he could preach in one town, he was asked by a committee, “‘Do ministers in general believe this [Universalism]?’ [He replied] ‘No, we know they do not… [But] Do they not pray, that God … shall bring in his ancient people, the Jews, and with them the fulness of the Gentiles…? For this… clergymen repeatedly pray … Are they such monsters of impiety, as to solicit, for what, they believe the Almighty had determined, before the foundation of the world, he would never grant?’ A profound pause succeeded…” (Pg. 175)

He recounts an encounter with a critic, who admitted, “No one… could take pleasure in the destruction of mankind." … [Murray said] “Why, sir, why should you not take pleasure in that, in which God takes pleasure? … [to] make individuals on purpose to destroy them? … Do you dare say, if you had power, no fellow creature should be lost; and dare you suppose, that He, who hath all power… hath not so much love as you, a finite being? Will He say to you, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you—and will He not do likewise? … He answered with a sigh, "I cannot argue with you, sir, that last observation has weight." (Pg. 178-179)

During one preaching occasion, he recalls, “a large rugged stone, weighing about a pound and a half, was forcibly thrown in at the window behind my back; it missed me. Had it sped, as it was aimed, it must have finished me. Lifting it up, and waving it in the view of the people, I observed: This argument is solid, and weighty, but it is neither rational, nor convincing.” (Pg. 193) He observes, “Yet was the charge of heresy never proved against me. I was never silenced either by reason or scripture—I had called upon men everywhere, clergymen, or laymen, to step forward, and convict me of error… solemnly promising, immediately upon conviction, to relinquish the obnoxious tenet… and to adopt that better way…” (Pg. 194)

At this point, the narrative breaks off, as Murray’s health did not permit him to continue. The Editor continues recounting Murray’s activities from January 1775 to his death in 1815. He recounts that Murray was again challenged, “‘Have you any credentials?’ … [Murray replied] ‘…there are many in this town who have heard me, and received my testimony; they are my credentials… When I came into this country … I believed it to be a land of civil and religious liberty… and every Law made among yourselves, breathed a spirit of toleration, I felt assured I should be allowed liberty of conscience… and I am still convinced, that I ought to preach the Gospel.’” (Pg. 201-202)

The editor concludes, “Such were the leading sentiments of Our Universalist; and he was firmly of opinion, that the doctrines of the Gospel, rightly understood, would teach men, everywhere, to be careful of maintaining good works, to love one another, and in all things to regard the best interest of their brother man.” (Pg. 249)

Although an “old” book, this book will be of immense interest to anyone seriously studying the history of Universalism---particularly in its American form.


Knight of Cups
Knight of Cups
DVD ~ Christian Bale
Price: $13.87
14 used & new from $13.36

1.0 out of 5 stars "ART" FOR SOME; "SUPREMELY BORING" FOR MOST OTHERS, June 29, 2016
This review is from: Knight of Cups (DVD)
If your idea of "entertainment" is watching Hollywood types wandering aimlessly around beautiful scenery, improvising inane dialogue, attending endless parties, and indulging in various types of other meaningless activities (often including sex with much younger women)---while pseudo-existentialist words are languidly recited in the background, amid chapter headings based on Tarot cards---you'll probably love this film as "artsy." For me, this has to be the most tiresome and pointless film I've seen in many years. (And I LOVE both "art films" and "philosophical" films.)

The one or two interesting lines, and the depressing scene in upper class Hollywood, could have been done in, say, twenty minutes---and then the film could have GONE SOMEWHERE with this reality... but it doesn't; it just continues on in the same vein, seemingly endlessly...


In Defense of the Descent: A Response to Contemporary Critics (Explorations in Reformed Confessional Theology) by Daniel R. Hyde (16-Mar-2010) Paperback
In Defense of the Descent: A Response to Contemporary Critics (Explorations in Reformed Confessional Theology) by Daniel R. Hyde (16-Mar-2010) Paperback
3 used & new from $76.60

5.0 out of 5 stars A DEFENSE OF THE CREEDAL STATEMENT, “HE DESCENDED INTO HELL”, June 26, 2016
Daniel Hyde is a Reformed pastor in Southern California who has written many other books, such as What to Expect in Reformed Worship, Second Edition: A Visitors Guide, Welcome to a Reformed Church: A Guide for Pilgrims, God in Our Midst: The Tabernacle and Our Relationship with God, Planting, Watering, Growing: Planting Confessionally Reformed Churches in the 21st Century, The Nursery of the Holy Spirit: Welcoming Children in Worship, God with Us: Knowing the Mystery of Who Jesus Is, Why Should I Fast?, etc.

He wrote in the Introduction to this 2010 book, “my purpose is to defend the inclusion of ‘He descended into hell’ in the Apostles’ Creed, to survey its historical roots, to expound its theological significance, and to offer some practical uses of the doctrine it teaches for Christian faith and experience.”

He quotes three Reformed authors---Randall Otto, Michael Williams, and Wayne Grudem---and summarizes, “the arguments of these three authors… are one: the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura necessitates that we remove this clause from the Creed and that we cease from reciting it in public worship. Simply put, since they believe the Bible does not say Jesus descended into hell, we cannot believe it.” (Ch. 1)

However, he states, “I am convinced that the descent into hell clause DOES belong in the Apostles’ Creed because it is an essential part of the doctrine and spiritual life of the Christian church and its members… ‘He descended into hell is vital to understanding our Lord’s work for us in His life and death and to appropriating that work for our spiritual comfort.” (Ch. 1)

He notes, “the Nicene Creed confesses that Christ was BURIED without any reference to His descent into hell. It is no stretch, then, to say that ancient, orthodox believers used the descent clause as another way of confession that Christ was buried.” (Ch. 2)

He outlines six views of the descent: “1. … Christ went to hell to suffer more than His suffering upon the cross. 2. … Christ went to hell to preach a second chance to those who died apart from Him. 3. … Christ went to hell and pronounced His victory to those who already believed in Him before their deaths. 4. … Christ went to hell and pronounced His victory to Satan. 5. … Christ was buried. 6. … Christ suffered hell His whole life, especially on the cross.” (Ch. 3)

He states, “The punishment view [#1] teaches that Jesus Christ’s perfectly obedient life and death were insufficient to redeem His people. This view should be considered heresy because it is contrary to our Lord’s own words when He said, ‘It is finished.’ [Jn 19:30].” [Ch. 3]

He continues, “the second chance interpretation [#2] ought to be judged false by Reformed Christians. No text in Scripture teaches any sort of second chance. In addition, this view violates the justice of God.” (Ch. 3)

He says of the #3 view, “the apostle Paul unequivocally calls Paradise ‘heaven’ and not a provisional place of blessing… the blessed hope of the Old Testament saints was to go to heaven to be in the presence of God… In fact, the hope of the ancient fathers was the same hope of New Testament saints, namely, the experience of the presence of God upon death.” (Ch. 3)

Of the #4 view, he comments, “this view … misunderstands the texts upon which it is based… Ephesians 4:7-10… is about the incarnation and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, not a descent ‘into hell.’ … New Testament scholars… explain 1 Peter 3:18-19 and … 3:20-22 as teaching not only that Christ died and was raised but also that His ascension WAS His proclamation of victory… the two main New Testament texts used to support a literal descent of Christ into hell … more clearly teach that Christ descended in His incarnation and ascended back to heaven in His resurrection and ascension.” (Ch. 3)

He points out, “Psalm 16 does not negate the descent of Christ as meaning His burial into the state of death… The apostles Peter and Paul apply this text to the resurrection of Jesus Christ FROM THE GRAVE---not from hell---in contrast to David whose ‘sepulchre is with us unto this day’ (Acts 2:29)…” (Ch. 4)

He concludes, “we have seen why it is necessary to keep ‘He descended into hell in the Creed and that it is crucial for the doctrine of the Reformed churches and the experience of her members. This phrase expresses the Old Testament prophecies for the burial and resurrection of our Lord… Since Christ died and was buried for us, we may be confident that He will be near us in our struggles and weaknesses… the descent clause… is also a historical phrase that links us as Protestants to believers of the past in ‘one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.’ To delete this phrase would remove us from the historic catholic faith… When we recite this phrase as Reformed believers in view of the all-sufficient work of our Lord Jesus Christ, we join myriads of believers before the throne of grace in experiencing true Christian comfort by reciting: ‘I believe… He descended into hell.’” (Conclusion)

Hyde’s book is brief, but it packs a lot of information and opinion into its compact size. He presents opposing views relatively objectively, and clearly explains his own positions. For anyone seriously studying this often controversial and/or misunderstood doctrine, this book will be very helpful.


By Daniel R Hyde In Defense of the Descent (Explorations in Reformed Confessional Theology) [Paperback]
By Daniel R Hyde In Defense of the Descent (Explorations in Reformed Confessional Theology) [Paperback]
22 used & new from $22.64

5.0 out of 5 stars A DEFENSE OF THE CREEDAL STATEMENT, “HE DESCENDED INTO HELL”, June 26, 2016
Daniel Hyde is a Reformed pastor in Southern California who has written many other books, such as What to Expect in Reformed Worship, Second Edition: A Visitors Guide, Welcome to a Reformed Church: A Guide for Pilgrims, God in Our Midst: The Tabernacle and Our Relationship with God, Planting, Watering, Growing: Planting Confessionally Reformed Churches in the 21st Century, The Nursery of the Holy Spirit: Welcoming Children in Worship, God with Us: Knowing the Mystery of Who Jesus Is, Why Should I Fast?, etc.

He wrote in the Introduction to this 2010 book, “my purpose is to defend the inclusion of ‘He descended into hell’ in the Apostles’ Creed, to survey its historical roots, to expound its theological significance, and to offer some practical uses of the doctrine it teaches for Christian faith and experience.”

He quotes three Reformed authors---Randall Otto, Michael Williams, and Wayne Grudem---and summarizes, “the arguments of these three authors… are one: the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura necessitates that we remove this clause from the Creed and that we cease from reciting it in public worship. Simply put, since they believe the Bible does not say Jesus descended into hell, we cannot believe it.” (Ch. 1)

However, he states, “I am convinced that the descent into hell clause DOES belong in the Apostles’ Creed because it is an essential part of the doctrine and spiritual life of the Christian church and its members… ‘He descended into hell is vital to understanding our Lord’s work for us in His life and death and to appropriating that work for our spiritual comfort.” (Ch. 1)

He notes, “the Nicene Creed confesses that Christ was BURIED without any reference to His descent into hell. It is no stretch, then, to say that ancient, orthodox believers used the descent clause as another way of confession that Christ was buried.” (Ch. 2)

He outlines six views of the descent: “1. … Christ went to hell to suffer more than His suffering upon the cross. 2. … Christ went to hell to preach a second chance to those who died apart from Him. 3. … Christ went to hell and pronounced His victory to those who already believed in Him before their deaths. 4. … Christ went to hell and pronounced His victory to Satan. 5. … Christ was buried. 6. … Christ suffered hell His whole life, especially on the cross.” (Ch. 3)

He states, “The punishment view [#1] teaches that Jesus Christ’s perfectly obedient life and death were insufficient to redeem His people. This view should be considered heresy because it is contrary to our Lord’s own words when He said, ‘It is finished.’ [Jn 19:30].” [Ch. 3]

He continues, “the second chance interpretation [#2] ought to be judged false by Reformed Christians. No text in Scripture teaches any sort of second chance. In addition, this view violates the justice of God.” (Ch. 3)

He says of the #3 view, “the apostle Paul unequivocally calls Paradise ‘heaven’ and not a provisional place of blessing… the blessed hope of the Old Testament saints was to go to heaven to be in the presence of God… In fact, the hope of the ancient fathers was the same hope of New Testament saints, namely, the experience of the presence of God upon death.” (Ch. 3)

Of the #4 view, he comments, “this view … misunderstands the texts upon which it is based… Ephesians 4:7-10… is about the incarnation and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, not a descent ‘into hell.’ … New Testament scholars… explain 1 Peter 3:18-19 and … 3:20-22 as teaching not only that Christ died and was raised but also that His ascension WAS His proclamation of victory… the two main New Testament texts used to support a literal descent of Christ into hell … more clearly teach that Christ descended in His incarnation and ascended back to heaven in His resurrection and ascension.” (Ch. 3)

He points out, “Psalm 16 does not negate the descent of Christ as meaning His burial into the state of death… The apostles Peter and Paul apply this text to the resurrection of Jesus Christ FROM THE GRAVE---not from hell---in contrast to David whose ‘sepulchre is with us unto this day’ (Acts 2:29)…” (Ch. 4)

He concludes, “we have seen why it is necessary to keep ‘He descended into hell in the Creed and that it is crucial for the doctrine of the Reformed churches and the experience of her members. This phrase expresses the Old Testament prophecies for the burial and resurrection of our Lord… Since Christ died and was buried for us, we may be confident that He will be near us in our struggles and weaknesses… the descent clause… is also a historical phrase that links us as Protestants to believers of the past in ‘one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.’ To delete this phrase would remove us from the historic catholic faith… When we recite this phrase as Reformed believers in view of the all-sufficient work of our Lord Jesus Christ, we join myriads of believers before the throne of grace in experiencing true Christian comfort by reciting: ‘I believe… He descended into hell.’” (Conclusion)

Hyde’s book is brief, but it packs a lot of information and opinion into its compact size. He presents opposing views relatively objectively, and clearly explains his own positions. For anyone seriously studying this often controversial and/or misunderstood doctrine, this book will be very helpful.


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