November 20, 2013

No dry nor clear sight of anything

Hawes Place Church, South Boston
Hawes Place Church, South Boston

"What another has said of false systems of science, will apply equally to the popular theology: 'It is barren in effects, fruitful in questions, slow and languid in its improvement, exhibiting in its generality the counterfeit of perfection, but ill filled up in its details, popular in its choice, but suspected by its very promoters, and therefore bolstered up and countenanced with artifices. Even those who have been determined to try for themselves, to add their support to learning, and to enlarge its limits, have not dared entirely to desert received opinions, nor to seek the spring-head of things. But they think they have done a great thing if they intersperse and contribute something of their own ; prudently considering, that by their assent they can save their modesty, and by their contributions, their liberty. Neither is there, nor ever will be, an end or limit to these things. One snatches at one thing, another is pleased with another ; there is no dry nor clear sight of anything. Everyone plays the philosopher out of the small treasures of his own fancy. The more sublime wits more acutely and with better success ; the duller with less success but equal obstinacy, and, by the discipline of some learned men, science are bounded within the limits of some certain authors which they have set down, imposing them upon old men and instilling them into young.'"
~ Theodore Parker, "A Discourse of the Transient and Permanent in Christianity; Preached at the Ordination of Mr. Charles C. Shackleford, in the Hawes Place Church in Boston, May 19, 1841." First published as a pamphlet, "Boston, Printed for the author [by Freeman and Bolles] 1841."

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