Friday, May 28, 2010

pure and lofty action...

The Boston Unitarians were accused of many things-not the least of which was making the religion of Jesus seem a little...bloodless or dispassionate. While I think that assessment inaccurate and unfair, I can sometimes see where it comes from. It was, however, a criticism rarely applied to William Ellery Channing.  This from the sermon:

"THE GREAT PURPOSE OF CHRISTIANITY  (Discourse at the Installation of the Rev. M. I. Motte, Boston, 1828.)

Timothy 1. 7: " For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

"Why was Christianity given? Why did Christ seal it with his blood ? Why is it to be preached ? What is the great happiness it confers ? What is the chief blessing for which it is to be prized ? What is its pre-eminent glory, its first claim on the gratitude of mankind ? These are great questions. I wish to answer them plainly, according to the light and ability which God has given me. I read the answer to them in the text. There I learn the great good which God confers through Jesus Christ. " He hath given us, not the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." The glory of Christianity is the pure and lofty action which it communicates to the human mind. It does not breathe a timid, abject spirit. If it did, it would deserve no praise. It gives power, energy, courage, constancy to the will ; love, disinterestedness, enlarged affection to
the heart ; soundness, clearness, and vigor to the understanding. It rescues him who receives it from sin, from the sway of the passions ; gives him the full and free use of his best powers ; brings out and brightens the divine image in which he was created ; and in this way not only bestows the promise but the beginning of heaven. This is the excellence of Christianity."


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