Sunday, December 20, 2009

objects of awe and solemn interest...

I have ended up spending much more time on the sermon, "The Perfecting Power of Religion" than I had anticipated largely because it is full of riches.  Channing's great project was the elevation of human nature and the recognition of the divinity in all things.  Today, it is the intellect.  Unitarians tend to deeply respect intellect, but do we reverence it? 
Have a blessed Sabbath everyone.

"in all classes however cultivated, Intellect is too much the slave of the senses and of selfish passions, and is yet to be awakened to a consciousness of its real glory. To religion I look as the power by which this divine faculty is to be revealed and exalted to its true felicity.

1. Religion then is the great Inspirer of the Intellect, in the first place, by exhibiting its essential grandeur, and by teaching it to reverence itself. It is religion only that teaches us this reverence for the Intellect. For it alone reveals to us the connexion of the Intellect with God, its derivation from His Wisdom, its nearness to His Reason, its capacity of everlasting reception of His Light of Truth...

It is only as we apprehend our relationship to an All-wise God, that we can understand ourselves, and become to ourselves objects of awe and solemn interest. The human mind, regarded as the offspring of the Infinite Mind, consciously partakes of the grandeur of its source. Let me know that an Infinite Intelligence pervades the Universe, and I feel that intelligence -without bounds may be possible also for myself. Let me further know that this Infinite Intelligence is the Parent of my mind, has an interest in it, watches over it and created it that it should unfold for ever, and partake more and more of His own Truth, and how can I but regard my intellect with veneration ? Then I look abroad upon this vast creation, which before had discouraged me, with joy and hope; for I see in its very vastness only a wider field for intellectual culture. I cease to be depressed by learning slowly, if I am to learn for ever. Nor am I any longer cast down by difficulties in gaining truth ; for the energy and hardihood of thought, acquired by struggling with obstacles and by a laborious training, are the best preparations for an endless progress. Religion thus reveals the grandeur, and still more the sacredness, of human intellect. For it shows that Reason is not figuratively but really a Divine Energy working in us. No other motive can have equal efficacy in teaching us to watch over and expand this heavenly gift. The power of this motive is but little known, because man's Living Relationship with God through the vital influence of religion has as yet been but faintly comprehended; and what has been called religion has too often tended to depress rather than to invigorate human reason..."


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