"The Word of the Spirit..."
"The Spirit, then, is our only authority. If I were going to name a church, it would not be Church of the Trinity or Unity, of the Disciples or the Episcopate, of Saints or Souls, nor even of the Messiah or Saviour, dear unspeakably as these titles may be; but of the Spirit whence Messiah and Saviour drew. Be we apart or together, let us mind the Spirit. Let us look and listen for it. Let us meditate and pray till it arrive, and unveil itself to cheer us. The reason we do not hear and receive it more is the tumult we are in of other things. Late at night, some time ago, six miles off, I stood waiting near the tower of a village-church. The clock struck. The mellow vibration continued after the hammer stopped, till I was amazed at its long duration. If other earthly noises are not allowed to encroach too much, the Spirit, with sweeter tone than of any instrument, will continue sounding in our souls.
" He that hath an ear," —that is, everybody,— " let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." We all have an ear, deeper than of the flesh, hearkening to something beneath all bells and breezes, tongues or outward motions. It is the dearest desire of my heart, if I know what it is, that we Congregationalists should be a church of the Spirit, in this finer hearing. Our service is called bare and meagre. We must bear the reproach. Doubtless the sonorous, priestly intoning and responding from sabbath to sabbath of the same idolized words (is not the idolatry of words as bad a violation of the command as that of graven images ?) would, in the weakness of human nature, win greater crowds, filling the seats, and stir them to a more vivid superficial delight. But would it be spiritual and profitable to the soul ? I think not; and I thank God, as a Congregationalist, for our joint success, and our hope still to prosper, without such alluring accessories, not in the gospel, which might convert people to us, and not to him. Let us trust his Spirit. With combined and separate entreaty, let us beseech it. In our life, let us obey it. For the building of our character, unseen and mysterious as it is, let us rely on it. The stout and aged woods grow from invisible gases of earth and air. Breathing what we never saw fashions and sustains our own fearful and wonderful frame. To this city and Jerusalem of our abode, wide acres yonder, pushing out the tide, are added by a puff of transparent steam, turning the iron wheels that roll hills, interior and out of sight, into sea-side, solid plains to hold up streets and dwellings and courts of the Lord. Could we open ourselves to the working of that marvellous force, which exceeds all the elements of nature and applications of art, there would be a moral result transcending material growth and human structures, as eternal glories shame the triumphs of sense and of time."