Friday, August 19, 2011

Spring of improvement...

The nature, qualities or even the existence of a peculiar "Unitarian Piety" was often discussed by the Boston Unitarians. It is not often spoken of today. And yet it is an idea so crucial to living a religious life. Here is the start of James Freeman Clarke's "Five Kinds Of Piety"

"We love God when we love the highest and best' thing we know; that is, when we look up, not down; up to the Infinite, not down to the finite; up to goodness, not down to wickedness; up to truth, not down to error. By thus looking up to what is higher and better than ourselves we refresh our souls, we purify our hearts, we open them so that Divine influences come in.
A man of piety, therefore, is essentially one who believes in and who loves goodness. A man without piety is one who either does not believe in it or does not love it. The natural culture of piety, therefore, consists in looking up, not down, — looking up to good things, not down to evil things; in contemplating truth rather than error, right rather than wrong, nobleness rather than meanness. Every good and generous act done by man makes it easier to love God and to believe in him; every lie we tell, every act of dishonesty we perform, makes trust in God more difficult, not only to ourselves, but to others. Such great scandals as have recently occurred in the financial world not only make men doubt of human honesty more, but also distrust Divine truth. Every bad action which men do makes humanity seem less lovely, and so makes it harder to love, not only the brother we have seen, but also the God we have not seen.
We see why piety is essential to all real worth. A man without piety is only a part of a man, and is incapable of growing into anything better. A man who never looks up to, adores, reverences superior goodness, has in him no spring of improvement.

Blessings

4 comments:

Christine Leigh said...

Thank you for this! :)

Bill Baar said...

What would the pious Clark say of this expression of Unitarianism.

I can't thank of a starker contrast of where we've been, and what we've become.

boston unitarian said...

Thank you Christine for writing. It is much appreciated! Blessings, BU

boston unitarian said...

Hi BIll,
Contrast indeed...I appreciate you using the words of JFC to illuminate that divide. Thanks and
Blessings, BU