Thursday, September 3, 2009

a new day shed abroad in our minds...

When the now famous "Transcendental Club" began meeting, it was called by Emerson the Hedge Club as it tended to meet when Frederic Henry Hedge, serving as minister in Maine, was back in the environs of Boston. Though the Transcendentalist circle had high hopes for Hedge, he was an ecclesiastical conservative at heart and shied away from directions taken by that group.
Hedge was a Boston Unitarian in many of its best senses and his call for ecumenicism and "the broad church" still resonates. His biography is fascinating and can be found here.
Hedge will be my companion for the next few days and hope he will be for you as well. This from his sermon, "Authorities and Scribes"

"He taught them as one having authority, and not as scribes. Matt. 7: 29

There are still, and always, these two kinds of teaching,-the teaching of authority and the teaching of scribes. We all have felt the difference without perhaps defining it to ourselves...

What constitutes authority in a teacher? The answer is, Competent testimony, original observation by a qualified witness...But what constitutes authority in religion? Who is the qualified witness of moral and spiritual truth? Here is a kind of knowledge accessible to all...We listen to one teacher, and, though what he says is undeniably true, and his manner of saying it unexceptional, he makes no impression...He teaches as the scribes. We listen to another who says substantially the same thing, and immediately a new world is open to our perception, a new day shed abroad in our minds. It is nothing new that he propounds, but it comes to us with the force of a new revelation. Before it was a truism, now it is a truth.

What Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount-that which made his hearers astonished at his doctrine-was not new; the scribes had said substantially the same; but the spirit with which it was said was new, and that new spirit made the Christian evangel a new creation, so that history dates from that teacher's word...

More tomorrow and

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