(Thomas Reade, "Christian Experience")
In the early Christian Church religion did not
consist in talking finely, but in living well.
We, alas! are not now what these primitive
Christians were; burning and shining lights.
The lamentation of the prophet is sadly too
descriptive of our state: "Our silver has become
dross, and our wine is mixed with water."
The world has tainted the Church by its unhallowed admixture.
Where is the simplicity, the self denial, the zeal, the
entire devotedness of these first Christians to be found?
Certainly not among the great mass of religious professors.
Long continued prosperity has induced a spirit of slumber.
Without any breach of that charity which hopes all things,
we are compelled to declare this painful truth: that thousands
who are moral, and regular in all the outward duties and
decencies of religion, are still as far distant from the spirit
and practice, the principles and feelings, of the true believer,
as the East is from the West.
Do any startle at this plain assertion?
Where, we would ask, is...
their deep contrition,
their sincere repentance,
their hatred of sin,
their application to the Savior,
their love to his name,
their delight in his service,
their attachment to him,
their self denying obedience,
their renunciation of the world,
their patience under suffering for the Gospel's sake?
Where, in short, is the new creature in Christ Jesus
to be seen in them? It has no existence.
They have a name to live, being called Christians,
and professing to believe in Jesus, but they are dead.
The general truths of the Gospel may dwell in their
understandings, but they have no abiding place in
The Apostle has well described the character of these
nominal Christians: "they profess that they know
God; but in works deny him. They have the form of
godliness, but deny the power thereof."
These are the people who, frequenting the house of
God, sneer at 'conscientious piety'. Yet, they have full
confidence in the mercy of God, and deem it most
uncharitable, even to breathe a hint that they are in
danger of eternal perdition.