UU Minute #96

Hosea Ballou, part 3

Hosea Ballou, as a young man, became a Universalist. The Bible was actually pretty clear, he felt, that Jesus saved everyone.

The story is told that one afternoon Hosea sat reading in the kitchen. His father, Maturin, asked ‘What is that book you are reading?’ and Hosea answered, ‘A Universalist book.’
‘I cannot allow a Universalist book in my house,’ declared the father.
So Hosea walked out to the woodshed, and, knowing his father would be watching him, slid the book into the woodpile. After Hosea had gone to bed, Maturin went to the woodpile and discovered that the book he had forbidden was the Bible.

Hosea, who had never been to school, scrimped and saved his pennies and, at age 19, bought himself one term at Chesterfield Academy. He absorbed so much that at the end of that single term, he was granted a certificate to teach school.

In September 1791, at age 20, he attended the General Convention of Universalists in Oxford, Massachusetts. Universalism had gained a foothold in communities on the Atlantic coast, and Hosea had the chance to hear those preachers speak. Hosea heard the call and took to preaching himself.

In his day there were many preachers who earned most of their living doing something else. Hosea would teach all week and preach on Sunday. His fame spread. He got ordained.

He was 25 when some colleagues began to be a little concerned. He showed no signs of getting married. As far as anyone could tell, he had never had a love affair. His colleague universalist minister Caleb Rich explained to Hosea the hazards of an unmarried minister, and even produced a woman for Hosea: Ruth Washburn -- amazingly both intelligent and willing. The marriage was long, apparently happy, and produced eleven children.

NEXT: Universalism and Paying the Price

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