Wednesday, December 23, 2009

life and force to our highest powers...

The conclusion of William Ellery Channing's "The Perfecting Power of Religion."

"4. This doctrine, that it is religion which chiefly quickens the Intellect and makes it a blessing, might be illustrated by a variety of considerations which it was my hope to place before you, but on which time is wanting to enlarge. I intended, for instance, to show that the principle of Universal Love, which is embraced in true religion, and is indeed its Essence, disposes the mind to the most enlarged thinking, and at the same time makes knowledge active and practical, thus converting it into Wisdom, by directing it to the promotion of the highest good in the service of mankind.

5. Again, I particularly intended to show that religion is a source of light to the Intellect by opening to it the highest order of truths, and thus introducing it to a Celestial Happiness. On this topic it might not be easy to avoid the charge of mysticism. I believe, however, and I wished to prove, that the highest truths are not those which we learn from abroad. No outward teaching can bestow them. They are unfolded from within, by our very progress in the Religious Life. New ideas of Perfection, new convictions of Immortality, a new consciousness of God, a new perception of our Spiritual Nature, come to us as revelations, and open upon us with a splendour which belongs not to this world. Thus we gain the power to look with deeper penetration into human life, as well as into the universe. We read a wider significance in events. We attain to glimpses of the Infinite Mind and of a Future World, which, though we may not be able to define them in human speech, we yet know to correspond to Realities. Now this higher wisdom, whereby the Intellect anticipates the bright visions which await it in another life, comes only from the growth and dominant influence of the Religious Principle, by which we become transformed more and more into the likeness of God. So true is it that Religion makes Intellect a blessing, and an infinite blessing.

In this discourse I have thus aimed to show how Religion is our Supreme Good, by giving life and force to our highest powers, bringing them into the healthiest and most harmonious activity, and quickening us in the pursuit of Perfection. Earnestly do I insist that Religion blesses us by no mysterious agency in procuring the favour of an All-powerful Being who will do everything for us without our co-operation, but by unfolding that pure, firm, disinterested, lofty Character, and that large, just, and wise Intelligence,—which conform us to the likeness of our Divine Parent, and best fit us to enjoy fellowship with Him, in His Natural Creation and in His Spiritual World. Religion welcomes us to be Perfect, as Our Father in Heaven is Perfect."


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