John Greenleaf Whittier was an American poet, devoted Quaker, fierce abolitionist, and reformer. I posted the following poem because in it he, ever so tactfully, and humbly, dissents from some of the unnamed beliefs of his time. The second and third stanzas stood out to me the most. I relate to this cautious feeling of dissension on many fronts in today's Christendom. I am not so bold when it comes to the condition of the lost, those that have never heard the name of Christ, or the eternal state of unbelievers. I, of course, interpret his meaning in regard to these issues.
The Eternal Goodness
O friends, with whom my feet have trod
the quiet aisles of prayer,
Glad witness to your zeal for God
And love of man I bear.
I trace your lines of argument;
Your logic linked and strong
I weigh as one who dreads dissent,
And fears a doubt as wrong.
But still my human hands are weak
To hold your iron creeds:
Against the words ye bid me speak
My heart within me pleads.
I walk with bare, hushed feet the ground
Ye tread with boldness shod;
I dare not fix with mete and bound
The love and power of God.
I see the wrong that round me lies,
I feel the guilt within:
I hear, with groan and travail-cries,
The world confess its sin.
Yet, in the maddening maze of things,
And tossed by strom and flood,
To one fixed trust my spirit clings;
I know that God is good!
I know not what the future hath
of marvel or surprise,
Assured alone that life and death
His mercy underlies.
And so beside the Silent Sea
I wait the muffled oar;
No harm from him can come to me
On ocean or on shore.