Shutting the Door
Open doors are admirable at times, but the most sacred and the sweetest things are never done until the door be shut. I was a watcher, one day, of a little child. Heaven's blue was in her eyes, and the sun's golden glory shone upon her head. In one room sat her mother, and in the room next to it, her aged grandfather. The little one wanted to ask old grandfather — and you know grandfathers are proverbially generous and soft — she wanted to ask him for a gift. But before she asked for it, the little hand shut the door between the two rooms. Why done? Because the child had a certain sense of modesty, which could not bear that any but the one to whom the prayer was spoken should hear the request. I have seen nothing prettier or sweeter. The motions of the child's hand were but the revelations of the child's heart. So there must be the closing of the door before even the little, honest, earthly prayer could be put up to the earthly father! And there is a certain sanctity and mystery peculiarly solemn and sweet in a whisper. …
There are other times, many times you know, when we shut the door, and they are usually about the best times of our lives. Lovers are not fond of the door being left open. Where there is love between two souls, the first thing almost is to shut the door. Why? Because there are things too sacredly sweet and too sweetly sacred to be looked at and listened to by curiosity-mongers and strangers, or even by friends. When the soul is at its best, it wants no spectators. So the little child at prayer, the lovers at their meetings, and the husband and wife at their best, instinctively "shut the door."
— George Dawson (born February 24, 1821)
Amidst the Decay of Systematic Religion
The fact is, the world is fast passing away from systematic religion — that is, from theologies that affect to be complete and final statements of what relates to the infinite, or even complete statements of that which relates to human duty and human holiness.
With regard to myself, I am more than ever convinced that the best thing nowadays is to organize men — not for the defence of the Devil, and his personality; nor to make a stand on behalf of the Trinity; nor to do something for Heaven; but to bring together the scattered forces of charity; to gather together men and women so that the warmth that is diffusive from the heart may uphold and alter. This is the most important of all — to gather men together to examine on what basis morality is to be placed when tradition is decaying, when the old authority is impossible, when no form of religion can be allowed to claim its exclusive right over our own judgment and conscience, and when we deny that a thing is made right or wrong by being made the law. A very pressing question, which must, before long, come up before the nations is this: In the decay of the traditional faith on which morals have been based, what basis is to be put before men, so that they may still believe that there is right and there is wrong, and still be able to judge what is right and what is wrong? Just as in politics the great question will be how to get a good authority, and a wise reverence for that authority, out of the large liberty that modern times give us; so, with regard to religion, the first great question is, on what shall we base, for the future, our ideas of right and wrong, and how obtain the sanction of law in these matters?
— George Dawson (born February 24, 1821)
Preach the Glad Tidings
The whole world is your vineyard; go, sow everywhere; go, preach the same glad tidings, the same hope that animates you preach to every creature in every part of the world. You are but the least of seeds, it is true, but you shall grow until at last the organization of which you are the beginning has overspread the world. You are but a little leaven, it is true, hidden away in three measures of meal; men do not see you, they do not know what is coming from you; but go, and your agitating presence shall go on and on until it has pervaded the whole world and the whole world is changed by your presence in it.
— Lyman Abbott (1835-1922)
|George Dawson (1821-1876)|
Minister, Church of the Saviour, Unitarian, Manchester (1847-1876)