restricted access Second Unitarian Church, Brooklyn, New York, November 24, 1867
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Second Unitarian Church, 1867 171 7. Blanchard had described the larger trend toward liberal Christianity and its impact on Universalism, as a tension between traditional Universalists, who believed in the Bible, and those liberal Universalists who rejected “old interpretations of the text.” After LM, Robert Dale Owen spoke of the diffuse religious movement known as Spiritualism, which believed in the possibility of individual spiritual development and knowledge of the afterlife, as “invigorating” a variety of denominations (Report, 9, 27). 8. One of LM’s favorite examples of liberalism, Joseph Blanco White (1775–1841), a Spanish priest, converted first to the Church of England, and then to Unitarianism (John Hamilton Thom, ed., The Life of Joseph Blanco White [London: J. Chapman, 1845]; Palmer, 152). 9. The building was located at Chelten Avenue and Greene Street. 10. Possibly Mr. Newall of the Unitarian Society of Germantown (“Unitarian Society of Germantown, PA,” Christian Inquirer, July 19, 1866; Palmer, 378). 11. Possibly Charles C. Burleigh’s father, Rinaldo Burleigh (1774–1863), a graduate of Yale College and the head of Plainfield (Conn.) Academy. 12. At the meeting, delegates formed the Free Religious Association to “promote the interests of pure religion, to encourage the scientific study of theology, and to increase fellowship in the spirit” (Report, 54–55). Second Unitarian Church, Brooklyn, New York, November 24, 1867 WHEN the heart is attuned to prayer, by the melody of sweet sounds, or, it may be, by silent introversion, it seems sometimes almost as if words were a desecration. Still, we have need to stir up the pure mind, one in another, by way of remembrance, to endeavor to provoke one another to love and to good works. And in yielding to the invitation to gather with you here this morning, it was in accordance with a desire previously felt that I might have such an opportunity to gather with those accustomed to gather here; not supposing, however, that there would be the general notice or invitation extended which I found in the papers.1 And in coming now and mingling with you I have felt somewhat of the desire of the condition that existed in the first coming together of the disciples after their Beloved had left them; when they were so moved by the Divinity of His presence and the inspiration of His faith, and of their faith, of His God and their God, that—the record states—they spake one to another so that each man heard in his own tongue in which he was born, whether Parthian or Mede—and so on. It is not needful that I should go on. Now I can suppose this. I can believe it to have been done without mystery or without miracle—and, therefore, I seek no supernatural aid, but the Divine aid, which is natural, which is the Divine gift of God to man equally with his intellectual powers; seeking only this aid I feel that we may now speak one to another so that every man may hear in his own tongue in which he is born. To us, coming together here this morning, with all our variety of sentiments and of use, as to worship, there is, after all, notwithstanding this diversity—there is a language through which we can address one another that is universal in its application. And we find this to be the case from the hearty response that is returned to truth 172 Second Unitarian Church, 1867 when read—to righteousness, to justice and mercy, and all the attributes of the Deity with which we have any right to see the acquaintance. We find that there is this appreciation of the right. Why, to these same beatitudes which have just been read, who is there that would not respond? Into what language can they be translated, free of the encumbrances of theology, in which there would not be a recognition of their divinity? I believe that there would be none. And knowing that it is customary, in presenting what is called “a sermon” to the people, that there should be a text taken from the Scriptures, and, not being accustomed to bind myself to such a form or such an arrangement in preaching, I had not selected any particular passage of the Bible; but, after sitting down with you here a text arose from the Apocrypha, the truths of which there found are to me just as canonical as any other part of the Scriptures. Indeed, coming down to...