The spirit of the Church was powerfully expressed by Bishop W. F. Pendleton in an address to the assembly of the General Church of the New Jerusalem on June 30, 1899.
In this address he said:
It is clear, however, that what makes the Church is not so much its doctrine as its spirit; for the essential of doctrine, the essential of faith, the essential of law, is the spirit that is in it; and while it may be said that doctrine makes the Church yet it is not the doctrine itself, but the spirit and life within it, that makes the Church. . . .
The most important principle of all the truth that is within the doctrine is the love of truth for its own sake.
The love of truth for its own sake is the love of truth for the sake of the truth itself, and thus for the sake of the Lord, who is in the truth, and not for the sake of self and the world; a love that will lead a man to sacrifice himself for the sake of truth, and not the truth for the sake of himself; a love that makes him willing to give up fame, reputation, gain, friends, even his own life, for the sake of the truth; that causes him to be regardless of consequences to himself, where it is necessary to uphold the standard of the truth. This is what is meant by the words of the Lord, "He that findeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." (Matthew 10:39)
If this love is in the Church, and continues in it as its ruling principle, as its spirit and life, the Church will have a spiritual internal from heaven, by which it will be enlightened and guided in the performance of its uses, and by which it will be protected from the spheres in which the spirit of the world rules; for then no man will come to it, or remain in it, who is not willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of the truth, who is not willing to die that the truth may live and prosper. "Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
By "losing one's life" in the above is not meant primarily losing the life of the body, or even giving up one's life in the world.
There are those who gladly give up their lives out of the ambition to be heroes or saints, who will sacrifice everything for the sake of glory. There are those who gladly become martyrs, in order to become renowned or gain a pre-eminent place in heaven, and there are those who care little for their life and may even have a tendency toward suicide. Even animals will fight to the death to protect their kind, particularly their young. It is a kind of animal instinct to defend one's country or church to the death when it is attacked.
By this we do not mean to minimize the virtue of those who give their life for the defense of their country, for the church, or for the sake of their belief, if it is done from a genuine love of country or church. But the essential giving up of one's life is the giving up of one's life that exists in the love of one's self and of one's own intelligence, one's life of worldly ambition; a giving up of one's life secretly and without the knowledge of anyone; a giving up with no ambition to receive a martyr's crown.
To give up the life existing in one's love of self and of one's own intelligence, to give up one's false ideals, with no thought of glory in heaven or earth, is a greater sacrifice than the yielding up of the life of the body.
To sacrifice one's loves solely for a love of God is the giving up of one's life that the Lord meant when He said, "He that loseth his life shall find it."
Those who sacrifice wealth, position, and reputation, and put on the greatest appearance of humility, may do so out of mere egotism, whereas internally they are often the proudest and most vain members of the human race.
The hope is that there may be some who, from love of our Lord as the way, the truth, and the life, and having lost their soul in secret, may find it, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.