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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [1]

the name assumed by a body of professing Christians who are to a very great extent identical with the Unitarians, on the one hand, and the Universalists, onl the other. Their peculiar doctrine is, that all men will ultimately become holy and happy. They maintain that Godd created men only to bless them, and that he sent his Son to "be for salvation to the ends of the earth." They further teach that man's probation is not confined to this life, but extends throughout the mediatorial reign of Christ; and that, as he died for all, all will eventually be saved. They consider that punishment is reformatory in its character, and has for its object the conversion of the sinner. Although the Restorationists, as a separate body, have only existedfor a few years, their sentiments are by no means new. Some of the early fathers Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, Didymus of Alexandria, Gregory Nyssen, and others believed and advocated the restoration of all fallen intelligences. A branch of the German Baptists, before the Reformation, held and propagated the doctrine. In Europe many prominent names may be cited as its advocates. It was introduced into America about the middle of the 18th century, but not much taught until about 1775 or 1780, when John Murray and Elhanan Winchester became its advocates.

Afterwards we find Dr. Chauncey, of Boston; Dr. Rush, of Philadelphia; Dr. Smith, of New York; and Mr. Foster, of New Hampshire, as advocates, although most of them continued in the ranks of the various sects. In 1785 a convention was organized at Oxford, Mass., under the auspices of Messrs. Winchester and Murray; and as all who believed in universal salvation believed that the effects of sin and the means of grace extended into a filture life, the terms Restorationist and Universalist were synonymous, and the convention adopted the latter as their distinctive name. In 1818 the Rev. Hosea Ballou, of Boston, advanced the doctrine that all retribution is confined to this world; to which was added by others the doctrine of the mortality of the soul, that the whole man died a temporal death, and that the resurrection would introduce all men into everlasting happiness. As a result a distinct sect, by the name of Universal Restorationists, was formed at Mendon, Mass., Aug. 17, 1831; but it soon became extinct. The Restorationists maintain that a just retribution does not take place in time; that men are invited to act with reference to a future life; that there are grades of reward and punishment; that it is not death or the resurrection that introduces men into heaven. The Restorationists have never been numerous; they are found more extensively in Massachusetts, although they have a few societies in other states. At one time they published a weekly newspaper, and had from twenty to thirty ministers, with from two to three thousand members. Very many, however, are found in the other sects who entertain the peculiar views of the Restorationists. See Ballou, Ancient History of Universalism; Belcher, Religious Denominations; Foster, Examination of Strong; Hudson, Letter and Reply; Chauncey, Salvation of all Men; Hartley, On Man; Stonehouse, Universal Retribution; Smith, On Divine Government. (See Universalism).

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [2]

Name of a sect in America holding the belief that man will finally recover his original state of purity.