Tuesday, February 22, 2011

in a frail skiff...

This from Ezra Stiles Gannett's sermon "The Mystery of God"

... the intercourse of the soul with God is the most precious and vital fact of our being, involving all that is dearest in our present history, and justifying the purest and loftiest hope which we can cherish. It is a fact, however, enveloped in mystery. The soul is abashed and overwhelmed at the thought of God's nearness to its most private exercises. I am never in such multitudinous companionship as when I am alone with God; never so little alone as when conscious that He is with me whom " no eye hath seen nor can see." Let me extend my thought beyond myself and try to seize upon the truth, that He is as near to every other human being, — at the same moment cognizant of all wants and all occurrences throughout the universe of which our largest discoveries have taken in but a little part, — and I find myself like one who in a frail skiff has put off on an ocean of unknown magnitude, without sail or instrument. In my closet, I am taught by my own meditation that it is not my prayer alone which is heard. The praises and the supplications of myriads of hearts reach their common object, without being lost in confusion by the way, or failing of distinct notice by Him to whom they are all addressed. I believe it is so; I know it must be so: yet it is as impossible for me to conceive of such a personal relation of one Being to all other beings as it would be to grasp the sceptre of Almighty power and assert my right of sovereignty."

(painting by Renoir)

1 comment:

David G. Markham said...

Interesting description of the view of God as "other" with whom one can have a "personal relationship".

This view of God is very limiting but seems to have given Gannett some emotional arousal which he waxes poetic about.

Would this kind of sermon "sell" in a contemporary UU church? I can't image a contemporary UU minister giving a sermon such as Gannett's. If one did, I would live to hear it.