From the Universal Father to the father of the individual...William Ellery Channing's vision continues this morning with an early take on the "interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part." The first part of his sermon:
"THE FATHER'S LOVE FOR PERSONS.
Luke xii. 7 : " Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered."
"HOW ought we to live with our Creator—as strangers or as children? How are we to worship Him—as a distant being or as near to us ? What is His relation to us—that of a remote Sovereign, who takes no immediate and special care of individuals, or that of a Parent, who, whilst provident of his whole family, watches over every particular child ?
These are great questions, and happily our Religion answers them full... as Christians we are assured that God in His government of the whole does not forget the parts, that He is the Father of each, as well as of All intelligent beings.
It is the Perfection of Wisdom—the distinction of an All-comprehensive Mind—to embrace at once the concerns of a vast community of beings and the interest of every single member, to conjoin the enlarged views of a Universal Sovereign with the minute inspection and tender care of a Father. And such is our God. He is the God of All, and yet He is my God.
I...there is no inconsistency in at once believing in God's Particular Providence and in His Universal Providence. He may watch over All, and yet watch over Each, as if Each were All. There is a simple truth, which may help us to understand, that God does not intermit His attention to Individuals in consequence of His inspection of the Infinite Whole. It is this. The individual is a living part of this living whole,—vitally connected with it, —acting upon it and reacted upon by it,—receiving good, and communicating good in return, in proportion to his growth and power. From this constitution of the Universe it follows, that the whole is preserved and perfected by the care of its parts. The General good is bound up in the Individual good....
I ought not then to imagine that God's interest in me is diminished, because His interest is extended to endless hosts of Spirits. On the contrary, God must be more interested in me on this very account, because I influence others as well as myself. I am a living member of the great Family of All Souls; and I cannot improve or suffer myself, without diffusing good or evil around me through an ever-enlarging sphere. My hearer, you are not to think of yourself as neglected, because God has an innumerable company of children to care for. One of the methods, by which He cares for these various children, is to make provision for your progress. The interests of others, as well as your own interests, require that the Universal Father should watch over your progress. For just so far as you are wise, disinterested, and happy, you will become a universal blessing....
We may well believe that so close and vital are the connexions throughout God's Universe—between this world of ours and other worlds—that the Human Race is benefited by the progress of all other Orders of Beings. So that the Creator is providing for your happiness and virtue, in the care which he extends over the diverse systems of worlds around, and over the higher ranks of Spirits in the Heavens. This happiness we may, indeed we do, lose by vice—by a spirit of self-love—hostile alike to the Creator and to his creatures. But this will be our self-imposed doom. Such isolation will not come from neglect on the part of our Heavenly Father. For He designs to make us all blessed beings together, in a blessed universe."