9. We need, as a Church, a deeper spiritual life. We need the Power of the Holy Ghost. In spite of all the sorrow of the world, sorrow both of a personal nature and that which touches whole communities, there is only one real burden upon the heart of earnest men and women: it is our own inadequate representation of Christianity,—the disheartening difference between what we practise and what we profess. When the Church of God is in reality a powerful and hard-working body of sincere, honest, and loving people, the world will soon be saved!
By the question, Why join the Church?—I do not mean alone, Why add my name to a church-roll? I mean, Why give myself, my powers, my education, my love, my loyalty, to advance the progress of the Church?
There is nothing we resent more than a waste of ourselves. To attract our service, there must be in the Church an inner vitality, a moving and spiritual fire.
1. The Church embodies the spiritual dreams of the world. Man does not live by bread alone; he lives by imagination, and by religious powers. In the Church of God, the spiritual imagination of man reached its highest field of energy, and has brought forth its most triumphant works. The great art of the world has centred about the Christian Church—its architecture and much of its noblest speech. Imagine a world in which every work which was inspired by the Church, or by the concepts of religion embodied in it, should be left out. What would we then lack? We would lack the greatest works of Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Francesca, Botticelli, Murillo; we would not see the cathedrals of Milan, Strasburg, or Cologne; we would never read the poems of Caedmon, Milton, or Dante. The hamlet would be without a spire; philanthropy would be almost unknown; there would be neither night-watch nor morning-watch of united prayer. We should have no processional of millions churchward on the Lord’s Day, no hymns to stir our souls to joy and praise, no anthems or oratorios, no ministers, no ecclesiastical courts and assemblies, no church conventions, no church-schools, religious societies, nor religious press. All these works and institutions proclaim the glory of belief, and hand down the religious traditions and the spiritual aspirations of the generations of men. Shall we let others share in the mystery and triumph while we stand apart, silent, unapproving, and alone?
The dreams of the Church are high and holy. There is the dream of Freedom, of the Freedom of the Soul. It is an inspiring thought this, the essential democracy of the race. We do not find intellectual equality of souls. We see each man or woman differently circumstanced, differently gifted, differently trained. Yet each may say, I am spiritually free! To me also is given the opportunity of development, of majesty of character, of high service. The soul is the thrall of none; nothing can bind it to spiritual serfdom.