Friday, July 9, 2010

conservative and radical...

Samuel Longfellow continues his sermon "A Spiritual and Working Church"

"...a church I define to be a society of men and women and children, associated by a religious spirit, and for a religious work.

I wish to lay stress upon this word religious.

A church must justify its existence by this, that it holds as its special thought — not its exclusive possession, but its special thought — the idea of God. This it is to apply over the whole domain of life. With this it is to meet all private needs and confront all public emergencies. By this it is to try all spirits, tempers, and aims ; by this to judge all customs, institutions, laws. This makes the church's position to be... one of high mediation, at once conservative and radical, because this idea of God is at once the most conservative and most radical of ideas. " Remaining in himself, He passes through all things, making them evermore new." His immutable Permanence is the ground of all our faith and all our prayers ; his regenerating Immanence, the inspiration of all our effort for the triumph of good over evil, the coming of Heaven among men. So the church is religious. Its work is to make vital the thought of the living and infinitely present God, in the life of its members and of society. " Exceeding broad " it is — this religion, this eternal life of souls bound to God in the sense of his intimate presence and the consciousness of sonship. It is a piety that includes morality and humanity, as man is included in God. No dreamy aurora of mystic reverie ; nor altar-fire of periodic ceremonial; nor rare lightning of retributive remorse, declaring and restoring a lost equilibrium ; nor hearth-flame of domestic affection, and serving domestic needs, —not these alone, but more : an all-encompassing and quickening sunlight, lighting every human work; an inner vital heat, moving every motion ; the circulating currents of the Divine Spirit. This life of God every church is to receive and manifest ; therefore I lay stress on the word religious."

(Photo is BU's Church taken by daughter Molly)

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