George MacDonald’s Unspoken Sermons

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I’ve started reading through George MacDonald’s Unspoken Sermons. It’s a book I’ve read piecemeal for years, skipping around here and there, but for the first time I am reading it straight through as one long progression of thought. The gems of revelation in Unspoken Sermons remind me of Golg in The Silver Chair telling Rilian, “I have heard of those little scratches in the crust that you Top-dwellers call mines. But that’s where you get dead gold, dead silver, dead gems. Down in Bism we have them alive and growing. There I’ll pick you bunches of rubies that you can eat and squeeze you a cup full of diamond-juice. You won’t care much about fingering the cold, dead treasures of your shallow mines after you have tasted the live ones of Bism.” Here are some of MacDonald’s live treasures:

 

From “The Child in the Midst”:

“In this, then, is God like the child: that he is simply and altogether our friend, our father—our more than friend, father, and mother—our infinite love-perfect God. Grand and strong beyond all that human imagination can conceive of poet-thinking and kingly action, he is delicate beyond all that human tenderness can conceive of husband or wife, homely beyond all that human heart can conceive of father or mother. He has not two thoughts about us. With him all is simplicity of purpose and meaning and effort and end—namely, that we should be as he is, think the same thoughts, mean the same things, possess the same blessedness. It is so plain that any one may see it, every one ought to see it, every one shall see it. It must be so. He is utterly true and good to us, nor shall anything withstand his will.”

 

From “The Consuming Fire”:

“For love loves unto purity. Love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds. Where loveliness is incomplete, and love cannot love its fill of loving, it spends itself to make more lovely, that it may love more; it strives for perfection, even that itself may be perfected—not in itself, but in the object. As it was love that first created humanity, so even human love, in proportion to its divinity, will go on creating the beautiful for its own outpouring.”

 

From “The Higher Faith”:

“What should I think of my child, if I found that he limited his faith in me and hope from me to the few promises he had heard me utter! The faith that limits itself to the promises of God, seems to me to partake of the paltry character of such a faith in my child—good enough for a Pagan, but for a Christian a miserable and wretched faith. Those who rest in such a faith would feel yet more comfortable if they had God’s bond instead of his word, which they regard not as the outcome of his character, but as a pledge of his honour. They try to believe in the truth of his word, but the truth of his Being, they understand not. In his oath they persuade themselves that they put confidence: in himself they do not believe, for they know him not. Therefore it is little wonder that they distrust those swellings of the heart which are his drawings of the man towards him, as sun and moon heave the ocean mass heavenward. Brother, sister, if such is your faith, you will not, must not stop there. You must come out of this bondage of the law to which you give the name of grace, for there is little that is gracious in it. You will yet know the dignity of your high calling, and the love of God that passeth knowledge. He 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. It is you who fear to be sent away as the disciples would have sent away the little children. It is you who think so much about your souls and are so afraid of losing your life, that you dare not draw near to the Life of life, lest it should consume you.”

Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he’s not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin’ on audiences around the world, he’s taking care of his donkey named “Trash” and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.


11 Comments

  1. Kim

    Thanks for sharing those. I’ve been enjoying his many gems in “The Quiet Neighborhood” and “The Seaboard Parish.”

  2. Harris

    Sigh. The Truth of His Being. YES. Thank you for sharing a bit of diamond juice today – much needed.

  3. Dan Rechlin

    I read through Unspoken Sermons during college, and it had a big formative influence on my faith, and everything else. I was probably even too young/immature to get the most out of it then. It makes me glad that you’re taking the time to read it all the way.

    Also nice photo in the header!

  4. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Thanks for the comments. Kim, I have yet to read those. MacDonald is on my hot list this year. He had a big output.

    Harris: I’ve been needing the diamond juice a lot lately.

    Dan: I sometimes think I am still to young/immature to fully get it all. MacDonald goes as deep as one chooses to go.

    Helena: That’s my favorite, too.

    Bonnie: Yes, one of many bookshelves in general, but this was one of a couple shelves of old copies and first editions. I have a small collection, mostly MacDonald (one signed) and quite a few various Lewis editions, but also a couple of Dorothy Sayers (one signed), a lot of old hymnals, nice copies of Les Mis and various other items. I tend to collect only those authors who have deeply impacted me.

  5. Sarah

    Love this. I am reading through Lilith right now…fruit of sitting in on your session at Hutchmoot. I am about to sign-off FB / Instagram for the remainder of the year and had thought of reading through Unspoken Sermons after finishing Lilith. I have very limited reading time, and there is so much I want to read!

  6. Amy S

    I love Unspoken Sermons! They have shaped my thoughts and made me love God more, trust Him more, believe more in His good plans for the world and mankind and rest in that belief. The whole sermon on the consuming fire is just SO intensely good and beautiful and reassuring.

    Thanks, Ron, for the excerpts. I hope more people will take time with this amazing work. I got it for free on Kindle.

  7. JamesDWitmer

    Wow, that third quote, from “The Higher Faith.” Needed that.

    I have a lot of MacDonald’s novels, but I think I need Unspoken Sermons, which I didn’t know existed.

    Thank you for sharing this, Ron.

  8. JamesDWitmer

    …Also, I love that quote from The Silver Chair. It speaks to me somehow of God’s extravagance in love and creativity.

    To take something beautiful as well-crafted gems, and then reveal a whole other dimension of glory unseen… it’s fiction, but it sounds exactly like something God would do – and does, every time we peek into a microscope, or telescope, or beneath the sea, or behind the leaves of our gardens.

    Makes me want to thank someone.

  9. scm

    If anyone enjoys the Unspoken Sermons, I also recommend a book by MacDonald called The Hope of the Gospel. Same flavor as the Sermons.

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