UU Minute #90

John Murray in Gloucester

John Murray first preached in Thomas Potter’s chapel in 1770. Murray returned to reside with Potter, itinerating from Virginia to New Hampshire, until 1774, when he settled at Gloucester, Massachusetts and established a congregation there out of a Rellyite study group.

He had previously declined settled positions in Philadelphia, New York, and Portsmouth because he preferred itinerant preaching. But over four years of itinerating, his reputation as a Universalist grew, and, with it, opposition. Finding more and more pulpits closed to him, Murray was at last disposed to settle down with a sympathetic congregation.

In the Revolutionary War, John Murray served as chaplain of the Rhode Island Brigade defending Boston. Because Murray did not believe in hell, other chaplains objected to him, and petitioned to have him dismissed, but General George Washington intervened on Murray’s behalf.

In Gloucester, Murray met the author and philosopher Judith Sargent Stevens. They married in 1788.

In 1793, he accepted a call to serve the Universalist Society of Boston, which he did until 1809, when a debilitating stroke ended his preaching. John Murray died in Boston in 1815.

Once, when Murray was giving a lecture in Boston, someone threw a rock through the window, intending to injure or intimidate him. Murray calmly stepped over to where the rock rested, picked it up and said,
“This argument is solid, and weighty, but it is neither rational nor convincing.”
Then, after his friends suggested that the situation might be too dangerous for him to proceed, he proclaimed that
“not all the stones in Boston, except they stop my breath, shall shut my mouth, or arrest my testimony.”

NEXT: Elhanan Winchester, part 1

No comments:

Post a Comment