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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Verse Musings on Nature, Faith, and Freedom (1889). I. Faith. III. Where is Religion?

John Owen (1836–1896)

(After Schleiermacher)

NOT in the text of Holy Writ,

Or words or writings elsewhere brought,

With sacred fire, though once uplit,

But now—the mere dead signs of thought.

Not in a church’s rule or plan,

Its public prayer or sacred rite,

Imperfectly devised by man,

To body forth the Infinite.

Not in confessions nor in creeds,

Or lifeless dogmas cut and squared,

Or pious acts or ritual deeds,

For quickening holy life prepared.

Such formal systems we discard,

No vital warmth can they inspire,

Like lava streams, now cold and hard,

Which erst flowed on—a living fire.

Such burnt-out systems have we seen,

Embers instead of burning glow,

The ashes tell where fire hath been;

No further use—cold embers know.

But in the heart, experience-taught,

Of faith and hope and love which tells

In th’ infinite of human thought,

There there alone, Religion dwells.