Friday, December 11, 2009

destined to wisdom and virtue...

William Ellery Channing spoke yesterday of why we can trust in God and today he tells what we may trust for.  His passionate call for living an eternal kind of life right now is something to think deeply me.  His sermon "Trust in the Living God" continued:
"II.—Thus are we led to the second question that I proposed to consider: What is the Good for which, as Individual Persons, we may trust in God ?...I reply, that we may trust unhesitatingly, and without a moment's wavering, that God desires the Perfection of our Nature, and that He will always afford such ways and means to this great End, as to His Omniscience seem most in harmony with man's moral freedom. There is but one True Good for a spiritual being, and this is found in its Perfection...

Such I say is the Good for which we may confide in God, the only Good for which we are authorized to trust in Him. The Perfection of our Nature—God promises nothing else or less. We cannot confide in Him for prosperity, do what we will for success; for often He disappoints the most strenuous labours, and suddenly prostrates the proudest power. We cannot confide in Him for health, friends, honour, outward repose. Not a single worldly blessing is pledged to us. And this is well. God's outward gifts—mere shadows as they are of Happiness— soon pass away; and their transitoriness reveals, by contrast, the only True Good. Reason and conscience, if we will but hear their voice, assure us that all outward elevation, separate from inward nobleness, is a vain show; that the most prosperous career, without growing health of soul, is but a prolonged disease, a fitful fever of desire and passion, and rather death than life; that there is no stability of power, no steadfast peace, but in immovable principles of right; that there is no true royalty but in the rule of our own spirits; no real freedom but in unbounded disinterested love ; and no fulness of joy but in being alive to that Infinite Presence, Majesty, Goodness, in which we live and move and have our being...

This Good of Perfection, if we will seek it, is as Sure as God's own Being. Here I fix my Confidence. When I look round me, I see nothing to trust in. On all sides are the surges of a restless ocean, and everywhere the traces of decay. But amidst this world of fugitive existence, abides One Immortal Nature. It is the Human Soul—your soul —my soul—the soul of every human being. Entirely I trust that this is Immortal, because allied by god-like powers to the Father. This Soul He created, as I believe, to become a glorious Image of Himself—to contend with and overcome all evil, to seek and receive evermore all good, to obey the eternal Law of Bight, to which God's own Will conforms. In God I trust for this Infinite Good. I know no other Good for which to trust Him. Take away this, and I have nothing, you have nothing, worth living for. Henceforth our existence is without an End; and the Universe itself seems to be but a waste of power.

Human nature is indeed at present in a very imperfect stage of its development. But I do not therefore distrust that Perfection is its End. For an end, from its very nature, is something to be attained through inferior degrees. We cannot begin with the end. We cannot argue that a being is not destined for a good, because ho does not instantly reach it. We begin as children, and yet are created for maturity. So we begin life imperfect in our intellectual and moral powers, and yet are destined to wisdom and virtue.

What a sublime doctrine it is, that Goodness cherished now is Eternal Life already entered on!... These assurances of Trust are no dreams. They are sublime truths, manifested in our Nature, written in God's Word, shining out in the character of the Beloved Son. No! They are not dreams. To each and all of us they may become glorious Realities. This is not a Confidence to be cherished by a select few. Each and all of us are invited to cherish such a Trust, and authorized by Our Father to regard this unutterable good as the End of our being!"



David G. Markham said...

Dear BU:

WEC is deeply spiritual. I am very moved by his words. I did not know that this level of spirituality existed in Unitarian Universalism. Thank you for pointing me (us) in this direction.

All the best,

David Markham

slt said...

Thanks David,
I have been reading WEC for years and am still sometimes startled by the depth of his spirituality and the eloquence of its expression.
Many blessings to you. BU