Wednesday, December 16, 2009

let the true doctrine be preached...

William Ellery Channing lifts up our spiritual nature in this passionate conclusion to "The True End of Life"

"The doctrine of this discourse is no barren speculation, but a practical truth, bearing directly on active life, and affecting our whole happiness here and hereafter. It seems to need a specially earnest exposition at the present day, not because it is denied, but because it is thrown out of sight in the vehemence of worldly pursuits...

The true doctrine seems to be dying out—that man's elevation and happiness consists and can be found only in strength of Soul, in clear conceptions and deep convictions of Everlasting Truth, in calm reliance upon God and Duty, in stern resolve of cleaving to the Right, in self-possession under every change, in self-conquest amidst all temptation, in energy to do or suffer whatever may be imposed by Conscience, in disinterested and fearless self-consecration to whatever good work we may be appointed by Providence.

This Spiritual Dominion, this Kingdom of Heaven within the Soul, alone endures, alone gives dignity and peace. And yet with what scepticism, indifference, and even scorn, is such a doctrine heard in this age of materialism, of machinery, and of proud trust in man's dominion over nature! Still, let the true doctrine be preached in full confidence that what is so confirmed by the attestations of conscience, in all ages, cannot but find response. Man's Spiritual Nature is no dream of theologians to vanish before the light of Natural Science. It is the grandest reality on earth. Everything here but the Soul of Man is a passing shadow. The only enduring Substance is within.. When shall we awake to the sublime greatness, the perils, the accountableness, and the glorious destinies of the Immortal Soul ? O! for a voice of power to arouse the Human Spirit from its death in life of animality, to quicken it with a fit consciousness of its own nature, to lift it to an adequate comprehension of the purposes for which the sublime thoughts of God, of Duty, of Disinterested Love, of Heaven, are opened within! In what a vain show we walk, while we toil without ceasing for the perishable, and remain blind and dead to the Everlasting, the Perfect, and the Divine!"



David G. Markham said...

Dear BU:

Your blog and this series has been such a blessing to me. Yesterday I received in the mail my copy of Willam Ellery Channing: Selected Writings and I intend to continue my study of Channing's ideas prompted by your posts.

I mistakenly thought that Unitarian Universalism was "spirituality lite" with little depth and substance, but I have learned that there is a deep spirituality to the tradition through your blog.

I wonder if there is a group, or oganization within Unitarian Universalism which is dedicated to keeping this deeper spirituality alive within the tradition, do you know what I mean?

Thank you very much,

David Markham

Anonymous said...

BU: do you think that the UU Christian Fellowship might help our friend David in his quest?

slt said...

Hi David,
Few things bring me greater joy than helping to introduce to others the deep spring of "old-time" Unitarian spirituality. Thank you for your comment, I appreciate it greatly.
As to your question, Tracie makes a good suggestion (the UUCF can be found at Thanks Tracie!
I would love to hear from others on this questionas well. Blessings to all. BU