March 30, 2010

George MacDonald

Nineteenth century author, poet, theologian and pastor George MacDonald (1824-1905), influenced many authors and theologians after him, including C.S. Lewis, who wrote the following concerning MacDonald in the introduction to his book, George MacDonald: An Anthology:
"This collection...was designed not to revive MacDonald's literary reputation but to spread his religious teaching. Hence most of my extracts are taken from the three volumes of Unspoken Sermons. My own debt to this book is almost as great as one man can owe to another: and nearly all serious inquirers to whom I have introduced it acknowledge that it has given them great help-sometimes indispensable help toward the very acceptance of the Christian faith.
"I know hardly any other writer who seems to be closer, or more continually close, to the Spirit of Christ Himself. Hence his Christ-like union of tenderness and severity. Nowhere else outside the New Testament have I found terror and comfort so intertwined.... In making this collection I was discharging a debt of justice. I have never concealed the fact that I regarded him as my master; indeed I fancy I have never written a book in which I did not quote from him. But it has not seemed to me that those who have received my books kindly take even now sufficient notice of the affiliation. Honesty drives me to emphasize it."
Amazon.com sells The Complete Works of George MacDonald (including Unspoken Sermons) in digital version for Kindle for 99 cents.  Click here to order it, and note that you do not have to buy a Kindle device to read Kindle files - you can read them on your PC by downloading a free Kindle reader.

2 comments:

  1. Jerome Ellard emailed me in response to this post:

    "Thank you, Ted! I'm loving it!

    "Here is a sentence from the first section of 'Unspoken Sermons' that grabbed my heart:

    "The perfection of his [God's] relation to us swallows up all our imperfections, all our defects, all our evils; for our childhood is born of his fatherhood."

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  2. Here are quotes from MacDonald's "Unspoken Sermons." First, from "The Higher Faith":

    The dull disciple [says]--"God has said nothing about that in his word, therefore we have no right to believe anything about it. It is better not to speculate on such matters. However desirable it may seem to us, we have nothing to do with it. It is not revealed." ...For [the dull disciple] all revelation has ceased with and been buried in the Bible, to be with difficulty exhumed, and, with much questioning of the decayed form, re-united into a rigid skeleton of metaphysical and legal contrivance for letting the love of God have its way unchecked by the other perfections of his being.

    Sad, indeed, would the whole matter be, if the Bible had told us everything God meant for us to believe. But herein is the Bible itself greatly wronged. It nowhere lays claim to be regarded as the Word, the Way, the Truth. The Bible leads us to Jesus...The one use of the Bible is to make us look at Jesus, that through him we might know his Father and our Father, his God and our God.

    Till we thus know Him, let us hold the Bible dear as the moon of our darkness, by which we travel towards the east; not dear as the sun whence her light cometh, and toward which we haste, that, walking in the sun himself, we may no more need the mirror that reflected his absent brightness.

    "But is not this dangerous doctrine? Will not a man be taught thus to believe the things he likes best, even to pray for that which he likes best? And will be not grow arrogant in his confidence?"

    If it be true that the Spirit strives with our spirit; if it be true that God teaches men, we may safely leave those dreaded results to him. If the man is of the Lord's company, he is safer with him than with those who would secure their safety by hanging on the outskirts and daring nothing. If he is not taught of God in that which he hopes for, God will let him know it. He will receive something else than he prays for. If he can pray to God for anything not good, the answer will come in the flames of the consuming fire. These will soon bring him to some of his spiritual senses. But it will be far better for him to be thus sharply tutored, than to go on a snail's pace in the journey of the spiritual life. And for arrogance, I have seen nothing breed it faster or in more offensive forms than the worship of the letter.

    [God] is not afraid of your presumptuous approach to him. It is you who are afraid to come near him. He is not watching over his dignity...

    From the sermon "It Shall Not Be Forgiven":

    To accept as the will of our Lord which to us is inconsistent with what we have learned to worship in him already, is to introduce discord into that harmony whose end is to unite our hearts, and make them whole.

    "Is it for us," says the objector who, by some sleight of will, believes in the word apart from the meaning for which it stands, "to judge the character of our Lord?" I answer, "This very thing he requires of us."

    He requires of us that we should do him no injustice. He would come and dwell with us, if we would but open our chambers to receive him. How shall we receive him if, avoiding judgment, we hold this or that daub of authority or tradition hanging upon our wall to be the real likeness of our Lord?...

    ...To mistake the meaning of the Son of man may well fill a man with sadness. But to care so little for him as to receive as his what the noblest part of our nature rejects as low and poor, or selfish and wrong, that surely is more like the sin against the Holy Ghost that can never be forgiven; for it is a sin against the truth itself, not the embodiment of him.

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