Tuesday, June 16, 2009

same enjoyment of celestial realities...

Ezra Stiles Gannett was the great promoter and defender of "traditional Unitarianism" and, thus, was opposed to the general drift of transcendentalism. Regular readers of this blog know that I love the traditionalists AND the transcendentalists, and today's words from ESG are part of the reason why. This from his sermon, "The Soul's Salvation Through Faith in Christ"

"For us, my friends, it is sufficient to know Christ as the channel and manifestation of a Divine influence, by which the believer is so instructed, animated, enriched, and fortified, that he becomes conscious of a new experience working in him to disclose unknown capacities of life, and through this inward change spreading a new aspect over life as it lies around him...

Holiness, — it once was a more common word in Christian discourse and Christian conversation than now. Holy men and women, — why, we regard them with somewhat the same distant admiration with which we look back on the saints or martyrs of other times. Here and there we see one — a godly man, a saintly woman — standing in society like spiritual eminences that rise above the clouds of our familiar experience and enjoy the clear sunshine of God's presence. But why, tell me, I pray you, explain to yourselves, if you can, my friends, why every one of us should not aspire to the same enjoyment of celestial realities. " Be ye holy even as your Father in heaven is holy," said Jesus to the same persons to whom he delivered his instruction respecting the forgiveness of injuries and the distribution of alms. Away with the notion, which multitudes cherish, that only a few are called to be saints! Lend no countenance to this half-gospel. Every one, every one, should be a partaker of that life through which man has his fellowship with the Eternal Father and the sinless Son.

My friends, hear the words of Christ, " Whosoever — whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a fountain springing up into everlasting life." Has your experience been a confirmation of those words ? Have you ever thought that the " whoso ever " includes you ? Have you still unsatisfied wants, a restless heart, an impatient will? Do you know what distress or discontent is of which you say nothing because you but half understand it, that thirst of the soul which can be slaked only in the water of Christian salvation, that longing after peace, that dim outline of satisfaction which mocks the feeling of which it is the shadow, — do you know this ? Then take into your innermost being the influences of which Christ is the symbol and the source, —drink, drink freely, abundantly, continually, of the water that He shall give you, and you will find the relief, the rest, the satisfaction which you want."
Emerson said much the same thing when he asked "Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe?" Somewhere else in Emerson is this wonderful line. "What can we excel in, if not in holiness? Many blessings

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