O, theologian, come not to argue with me about God,
As to the Deific identity I know, perhaps as well as anyone, how unknowable it is;
More than any priest, O soul, we too believe in God,
Yet understand God not in the least.
With the mystery of God we dare not dally—we absolutely know nothing.
In the dispute on God and eternity I am silent,
And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God,
For I who am curious about each am not curious about God,
No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God.
Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I am a man who has perfect faith,
I hear and behold God in every object,
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then.
What black and stupid hour is that, while the unspeakable something in man’s eyes anywhere beams upon me, that I do not feel the hint and the ecstasy of the presence of God?
Where will I, on the sea or on the land, be without the autograph of God?
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign’d by God’s name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe’er I go,
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.
I guess the grass is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say, Whose?
Priests! Until you can explain a paving stone, do not try to explain God,
There is more miracle in a wave, a rock, a tree than we were attributing to the whole of theology.
No man has ever been half devout enough,
None has ever adored or worship’d half enough,
The bull and the bug never worship’d half enough.
Time and space,
Or shape of Earth divine and wondrous,
Or some fair shape I viewing, worship,
Or lustrous orb of sun or star by night,
Be ye my gods.
Aught, aught of mightiest, best I see, conceive, or know,
All great ideas, the races’ aspirations,
All heroisms, deeds of rapt enthusiasts,
All that exalts, releases thee, my soul,
To break the stagnant tie—thee, thee to free, O soul,
Be ye my gods.
Did you think the demonstrable less divine than the mythical?
Scientific facts, deductions, are divine too—precious counted parts of moral civilization, and indispensable to it, to prevent fanaticism. For abstract religion, I perceive, is easily led astray, ever credulous, and is capable of devouring, remorseless, like fire and flame.
With science, the old theology of the east, long in its dotage, begins evidently to die and disappear.
But science, grand as it is, stands baffled before the impenetrable miracle of the least law of the universe, and even the least leaf or insect.
I cannot join men of science in their silent or expressed contempt of the vulgar idea of God;
Not that it is true, but that, with all its violations of the rules of science, it is a faint indication, perhaps indirection (as much as the masses can hold,) of the all-enclosing truth, of the truth behind all science.
Humanity sees God, or the idea of God, as it sees all things else, from the point of view which its degree of vision, knowledge, etc. affords it capacity to see, and no more.
How far, far off, how pitiful and crude and mean, (to a better or fully developed mind,) how almost entirely human and anthropomorphic, how ready to sink and sure to dissipate utterly away like the flimsiest of cloud-figures, are the supposed portraitures of God held up in all ages to the peoples, in the present age and the current churches just as much as any.
Yet the idea of God is to be accepted on any terms and made the best of,
The idea, in all history, poetic fables, and under all circumstances, is vertebral to the whole of the rest.
That idea seems to me to come out of the abysms,
With all its shortcomings, errors, perturbations, and frantic insanities, that great idea has been, and will ever be, a principal factor in the complicated influences of individual belief and character, individual nobility, and the human race’s progress.
Grant all the harm that it has done in the history of man—
Then what would man be, or have been, without it?
To me, the worlds of religiousness, of the conception of the divine, and of the ideal are just as absolute in humanity and the universe as the world of chemistry, or anything in the objective worlds.
The supreme and final science, where science becomes religion, is the science of God—
The new theology, lusty and loving, and wondrous beautiful—
What we call science being only its minister (as democracy is, or shall be, also.)
Science alone has perfect faith—faith not in a part only, but all.
Thought of the infinite—the All!
Be thou my God,
The general soul, nameless, ethereal, most solid,
Rapport of sun, moon, earth, and all the constellations,
Holding the universe with all its parts as one—
The rounded catalogue divine complete—
Life of the great round world, the unseen something in all life,
Including all life, pervading all, the fibre and the breath,
Fluid, vast identity, life of the real identities, essence of forms,
Something that underlies me, of whom I am a part and instrument,
The impalpable sustenance of me from all things at all hours of the day.
Thou mightier centre of the true, the good, the loving,
Thou that in all, and over all, and through and under all,
Unseen force, centripetal, centrifugal, through space’s spread, incessant!
What central heart—and you the pulse—vivifies all? what boundless aggregate of all?
What subtle indirection and significance in you?
What clue to all in you?
Thou O God, light of the light, my life hast lighted,
With ray of light, steady, ineffable, vouchsafed of thee,
Light rare untellable, beyond the light,
Beyond all signs, descriptions, languages,
Lighter than light, lighting the very light.
All the vastness of space-systems of suns, carried in their computation to the farthest that figures are able, then multiplied in geometrical progression ten thousand billion fold, do not more than symbolize the reflection of the reflection of the spark thrown off a spark, from some emanation of God.
Yes, I believe in the Trinity—
God reality, God beneficence or love, and God immortality or growth.
I will cling fast to thee, O God, though the waves buffet me,
I have not once lost nor faith nor ecstasy in thee—
Intentions, purports, aspirations mine,
As for the way things finally turn out, leaving results to thee,
Accepting all from thee, as duly come from thee.
The end I know not, it is all in thee,
Thee, thee at least I know.
Bathe me O God in thee,
Thou moral, spiritual fountain—affection’s source—thou reservoir,
I and my soul mounting to thee, to range in range of thee,
Breathe, bathe myself once more in thee, commune with thee.
O pensive soul of me—O thirst unsatisfied—waitest not there,
Waitest not haply for us somewhere there the Comrade perfect,
Waiting content, invisible yet, but certain?
My rendezvous is appointed, it is certain,
The great Camerado—lover divine and perfect comrade, the lover true for whom I pine—will be there, O soul,
When thou, the time achiev’d,
Surrounded, copest, frontest God, yieldest, the aim attain’d.
That is blasphemous, petty, and infidel which denies any immortal soul to be eligible to advance onward to be as supreme as any,
To grow through infinite time finally to be a supreme god himself or herself.
Have you thought there could be but a single supreme? there can be any number of supremes—
One does not countervail another any more than one eyesight countervails another, or one life countervails another.
Waiting my time to be one of the supremes,
The day getting ready for me when I shall do as much good as the best,
Who knows but I too shall in time be a god as pure and prodigious as any of them.
I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
The Lord will be there and wait till I come on perfect terms,
As, fill’d with friendship, love complete, the elder brother found,
The younger melts in fondness in his arms.