Sir James Stonhouse - Universal Restitution

Sir James Stonhouse is often confused with Sir George Stonhouse.

“In 1761 Sir George Stonehouse published the first of several works from his pen, in advocacy of Universalism.

It was entitled “Universal Restitution a Scripture Doctrine,” etc. The author was educated at Oxford, and while there was a member of a society called, in derision, the ” Holy Club.” John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, James Hervey, were also members, Between the years 1729, and 1735 the doctrine of human destiny was debated with great interest by them. Whitefleld and Hervey look the Calvinistic view; John and Charles Wesley, the Arminian; others defended the Moravian sentiments; and Stonehouse stood alone in defense of universal restitution. He demanded fair attention to his arguments, and was told that if he would write out his thoughts they should receive a candid answer. Probably this led to his preparation of the work here mentioned, although some years elapsed before he put. it in print. Meeting John Wesley after the book had been for some time before the public, Mr. Stonehouse is reported to have said: “Ah, John, there are only you and I living out of us all.” To which Wesley replied: “Heller that you had died too, George, before you had written your book.” Stonehouse responded: “I expected you had eaten my book at a mouthful, John; but neither you, nor any of the rest, though you all engaged to do it, have answered a single paragraph of it.” “You must not think your book unanswerable on that account,” said Wesley. “I am able to answer it, but it would lake up so much of my time that I could not answer it to God.” To Sir George this answer seemed captious and evasive, and he was so stung by it that he wrote and published “Universal Restitution Vindicated.” ‘Another volume on the same subject came from his pen as late as 1773. His linguistic abilities were remarkable, as he qualified himself, it is said, to translate readily any passage of Holy Writ into thirteen different languages. His pages overflow with Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, or Chaldee references and quotations, making them difficult to read, and subjecting him to the charge of pedantry. Like Origen, Stonehouse held to the doctrine of the preexistence of souls, and that they were sent into this world, with Adam as their head, with a view to their recovery from sins committed elsewhere. Those who here accept Christ experience salvation. Those who go out of this world neglecting salvation incur all the penalties of sin, but, crying out from their prison-house and being penitent, are forgiven and restored. Salvation belongs only to the present life; restoration only to the future state of existence.” pg. 350-352, A History of the Unitarians and the Universalists in the United States, by Joseph Henry Allen, and Richard Eddy.

“Stonehouse, author of Universal Restitution.” P. 102. We might have referred our correspondent for satisfaction to our XIIIth volume, pp. 489 and 564. He will there see that “the author of Universal Restitution” was the Rev. (afterwards Sir) George Stonehouse. He was vicar of Islington from 1738 to 1741. From the extracts given by T. C. A. from his printed sermon, it would appear that in 1738 he believed the popular doctrine of future punishment. His ” Universal Restitution” appeared in 1761.— The above author is sometimes confounded with James Stonehouse, who was for twenty years a physician at Coventry and Northampton, but, entering into holy orders, became Lecturer of All Saints, Bristol, and obtained the livings of Great and Little Cheverel, in Wiltshire. James might be the brother of George Stone- house ; he is said (see Mon. Repos. XIII. 566) to have inherited the baronetcy from him.” pg. 703, The Monthly Repository of Theology and General Literature, vol. 21, 1826

Conversion to Christianity

“By one of those fortunate, or, as we should, perhaps, more properly say, providential, coincidences, which give an important turn in life, about the time of Hannah’s transplantation to Bristol, she drew the attention of Doctor, afterwards Sir James Stonhouse, by a poetical compliment addressed to his daughter. The doctor had but just quitted the profession of a physician, which he had practised above twenty years at Northampton, and had now, for his health, settled in Bristol. At his onset in life, he was perverted to infidelity by his medical tutor, the celebrated Dr. Frank Nichols, the king’s physician. Doctor Stonhouse, on graduating at Oxford, after his return from abroad, settled at Northampton, where it was his happy lot to contract an intimacy with Dr. Doddridge and Mr. James Hervey; this friendship had the effect of shaking his sceptical principles, and at length he became so deeply convinced of the truth of the Christian religion, that he destroyed all the copies of a pamphlet which he had, not long before his conversion, written against it. He also now exerted himself to the utmost, in repairing the evil he had done, by recovering to the truth those who had fallen by his example.” pg, 382, The Annual Biography and Obituary for the Year

His only surviving son was Rev. Timothy Stonhouse, M.A. of Oriel College, Oxford, Chaplain to the Bishop of Hereford.

Stonhouse was friends with the hymn writer Dr. Phillip Doddrige. Correspondence and Diary By Philip Doddridge, J. D. Humphreys

Stonhouse was also good friends with Hannah More.

In the Chapel at the Hot-Wells, Bristol.

Here rest awhile, in happier climes to shine,
The orator, physician, and divine:
'Twas hid, like Luke, the double task to fill.
To heal the nat'ral and the moral ill.
You, whose awaken'd hearts his labours blest,
Where ev'ry truth, by ev'ry grace was drest;
Oh ! let your lives evince that still you feel
Th* effective influence of his fervent zeal.
One spirit rescued from eternal wo
Were nobler fame than marble can bestow;
That lasting monument will mock decay
And stand, triumphant, at the final day.

The Works of Hannah More

Works by James Stonhouse

The pamphlet, “Whence Eternity? How Eternity Slipped In” by Alexander Thomson, recommends Stonhouse’s work “Universal Restitution.”