On Dimmesdale's Preaching
. . . the gift that descended upon the chosen disciples, at Pentecost, in tongues of flame; symbolizing, it would seem, not the power of speech in foreign and unknown languages, but that of addressing the whole human brotherhood in the heart's native language. . . .
. . . this very burden it was, that gave him sympathies so intimate with the sinful brotherhood of mankind; so that his heart vibrated in unison with theirs, and received their pain into itself, and sent its own throb of pain through a thousand other hearts, in gushes of sad, persuasive eloquence. Oftenest persuasive, but sometimes terrible!
. . . And yet, majestic as the voice sometimes became, there was for ever in it an essential character of plaintiveness. A loud or low expression of anguish,--the whisper, or the shriek, as it might be conceived, of suffering humanity, that touched a sensibility in every bosom! . . . What was it? The complaint of a human heart, sorrow-laden, perchance guilty, telling its secret, whether of guilt or sorrow, to the great heart of mankind; beseeching its sympathy or forgiveness,--at every moment,--in each accent,--and never in vain! It was this profound and continual undertone that gave the clergyman his most appropriate power.
. . . For the instinct is sure, that prompts him to tell his brother what he thinks. He then learns that in going down into the secrets of his own mind he has descended into the secrets of all minds. He learns that he who has mastered any law in his private thoughts, is master to that extent of all men whose language he speaks, and of all into whose own his language can be translated. . . . The orator distrusts at first the fitness of his frank confessions, his want of knowledge of the persons he addresses, until he finds that he is the complement of his hearers;--that they drink his words because he fulfills for them their own nature; the deeper he dives into his privatest, secretest presentiment, to his wonder he finds this is the most acceptable, most public, and most universally true. The people delight in it; the better part of every man feels, This is my music; this is myself.
. . . Two inestimable advantages Christianity has given us . . . secondly, the institution of preaching,--the speech of man to men,--essentially the most flexible of all organs, of all forms. What hinders that now, everywhere, in pulpits, in lecture-rooms, in houses, in fields, wherever the invitation of men or your own occasions lead you, you speak the very truth, as your life and conscience teach it, and cheer the waiting, fainting hearts of men with new hope and new revelation?
Hester's voice in Chapter 17
"What we did had a consecration of its own. We felt it so!"
"Whither leads yonder forest-track? Backward to the settlement, thou sayest! Yes; but onward, too! Deeper it goes, and deeper, into the wilderness . . . . There thou art free!"
"And what hast thou to do with all these iron men, and their opinions? They have kept thy better part in bondage too long already!"
"Begin all anew!"
"Exchange this false life of thine for a true one."
No law can be sacred to me but that of my own nature. -- "Divinity School Address"
In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth. . . . In the woods, we return to reason and faith. -- Nature
Whoso would be a man, must be a noncomformist. -- "Self-Reliance"
Wherever a man comes, there comes a revolution. The old is for slaves. -- "Divinity School Address"
Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? -- Nature
Wake [men], and they shall quit the false good, and leap to the true, and leave government to clerks and desks. -- "The American Scholar"