A Look at Hosea Ballou
Hosea Ballou, born April 30th, 1771, is known to history as one of the most influential early American Universalist ministers. The son of a Baptist preacher born in rural New Hampshire, Ballou questioned the faith of his father for most of his young life. He could not reconcile with himself the idea that spiritual salvation was not accessible to all of mankind but only to a few.
Ballou began preaching his message of Universal Salvation in 1791, at the age of twenty, which earned him excommunication from his local Baptist church. In the next few years Ballou would travel the Northeast and meet many influential Universalists like John Murray, and gain much attention for himself as a respected preacher among his Universalist colleagues.
In 1794, while attending the Universalist General Convention in Oxford, Massachusetts, Ballou received an impromptu ordination from the fiery minister Elhanan Winchester. Winchester, who had been preaching Universalism for some years, was delivering a sermon at the convention with the young Ballou standing nearby the pulpit. At the height of his sermon he held a Bible to Ballou's chest and exclaimed, "Brother Ballou, I press to your heart the written Jehovah!", and after a pause, he gave Elder Joab Young the order, "Brother Young, charge him". After this surprising turn of events, Ballou dedicated his life to the ministry.
Ballou would eventually come to settle in Boston in 1817 as the minister for the Second Universalist Society. In 1819 he began to publish a weekly newspaper, the Universalist Magazine, and in 1830 the Universalist Expositor.
In 1852, Ballou died in Boston after a thirty-five year ministry in the city. He left behind a legacy of hope and faith in mankind. His firm commitment to the idea of salvation for all would inspire many after his death and steer a new course for Universalists in the coming century.
You can read more about Hosea Ballou on the Unitarian Universalist Historical Society's website.
For more information contact info @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Tuesday, September 25, 2012.
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