Thursday, June 3, 2010

sanctifying, cementing power...

I think that what initially drew me to the "Boston Unitarians" was their good hearted effort to reconcile in a moderate and balanced way, the seemingly contradictory aspects of religious, and of all, life.  This from "The Christian Examiner" 1853.  It comes toward the end of the article, "Christ's Authority and the Soul's Liberty."

 "The great cry of our age and our land is Liberty, liberty for all! There is to this lifted a counter-cry of Law and order ! From our discussion it would appear that, truly understood, there is no contradiction in these cries ; but that they meet in one idea, there being no true liberty but in obedience to just command, and no proper moral law without freedom to act and to obey. Again, there is in one class or another, or from the heart of mankind, a cry for our rights! which the self-renouncing spirit of religion in the soul answers with a lowlier cry to know and do our duties. Here too philosophy and piety unite to teach every creature, man or woman, that the duties are the loftiest and most blessed rights. The poets Coleridge and Herbert, the one appealing to liberty and the other celebrating law, have by Ruskin been contrasted. They should rather be reconciled. For the former addresses the free elements as those that yield homage only to eternal laws ; and the latter but warns against the worst bondage, when he cites the trusty sun and sky for our examples of living by rule, that we may keep company with all God's works.

Lose not thyself, nor give thy humors way ;
God gave them to thee under lock and key."

Accordingly, with what beauty, as by an instinct for truth and impossibility of any exposure to narrowness or extravagance, the great Bible speaks of the law of liberty and of that service which is perfect freedom, joined in one seemingly antagonistic principle, as in nature we so often see opposite elements coalesce from their struggle in one simple product. We know of no topic more wholesome than this, especially for the mind of our own country to ponder. In the conflict among us of false extremes that can never be harmonized, boldness of speculation on one side and subjection to creeds on the other, utter individual independence and social servility, political license in the majority with unjust slavery in a weaker race, there is nothing it so becomes us to strive for as that combination of principle with free-will, which has its rise in religion, the fountain-head of all human thought and action, and thence pervades with sanctifying, cementing power all the departments of human life.

Such a consummation will be promoted if an idea can ever find us which will do away the antithesis, in particular, that has always been supposed between Christ's authority and the soul's liberty, and makes that authority and liberty the same, as verily, in the sight of God, we believe they are. We cannot offer a better prayer to God, we cannot breathe a better wish for man, than that this antithesis may be solved in our hearts, and so we be empowered to solve it in the hearts of all whom we may reach. So we shall move forward a little the chariot-wheels of the great God, who is Father and King. So we shall hasten the blessed day when Christ's universal lordship shall prove the emancipation of mankind."



Bill Baar said...

Great post

Reconciling Sharia with Liberty (and I don't just mean Muslim Sharia but any relgion's laws) the great issue of our time.

We Unitarians and Universalists reconciled both in our practiced faith yet we seldom mention it, or offer our example as a solution.

That will be our profound failure...

slt said...

Many thanks for your cautionary words which, I fear, are all too true. Blessings, BU