We must have the aid of the Holy Spirit, for ours is not a mechanical religion. If our worship consisted in the reading of forms “appointed by authority,” we could do exceedingly well without the assistance of the Spirit of God. If we believed in the manipulations of priest-craft, and thought that after certain words, and genuflections, and ceremonials, all was done, it would matter little to us whether we had the conscious presence of God or no. If we could regenerate by water, applied by hands saturated with the oil of apostolical succession, we should have no particular need to pray for the benediction of the Holy Ghost; and if the utterance of certain words, it may be by profane lips, could turn bread and wine – oh, horrible dogma! – into the flesh and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, we could wondrously well afford to dispense with the Spirit of God.
But we cannot thus deceive ourselves. Ours is not a religion of mechanics and hydrostatics: it is spiritual, and must be sustained by spiritual means. If our religion were, on the other hand, one of mere intellectualism, we should only need a well-trained minister, who had passed through all the grades of human learning, who had stored himself with the best biblical criticism, and was able to instruct and illuminate our understandings, and we, if we be men of judgment ourselves, could profit exceedingly well. Our faith standing in the wisdom of man, the wisdom of man could easily be found, and our faith could be confirmed. But if, my brethren, our faith standeth not in the wisdom of man nor in the eloquence of human lips, but in the power of God, then in vain do we make a profession, unless the Holy Ghost dwelleth in our inner man.
excerpt from a sermon entitled “Make This Valley Full Of Ditches” April 28, 1867.