The whole apparatus of religion

(J. C. Philpot, "Reviews")

"I see that you are very religious in every way."
      Acts 17:22

Religion, in some shape or other, is indispensable
to the very existence of civilized society. There is
a natural religion--as well as a spiritual religion.

Natural conscience is the seat of the former;
a spiritual conscience the seat of the latter.

One is of the flesh--the other of the Spirit.

One for time--the other for eternity.

One for the world--the other for the elect.

One to animate and bind men together as
component members of society--the other to
animate and bind the children of God together
as component members of the mystical body
of Christ.

True religion is what the world does not want
--nor does true religion want the world.

The two are as separate as Christ and Belial.

But some religion the world must have!
And as it will not have, and cannot have
the true--it will and must have the false.

True religion is . . .
  spiritual and experimental,
  heavenly and divine,
  the gift and work of God,
  the birthright and privilege of the elect,
  the peculiar possession of the heirs of God.

This the world has not, for it is God's enemy--not
His friend--walking in the broad way which leads
to perdition--not in the narrow way which leads
to eternal life.

Worldly religion cannot exist without an order of
men
to teach it and practice its ceremonies. Hence
come clergy, forming a recognized priestly caste.
And as these must, to avoid confusion, be governed,
all large corporate bodies requiring a controlling power,
thence come bishops and archbishops, ecclesiastical
courts, archdeacons--and the whole apparatus of
clerical government.

The ceremonies and ordinances cannot be carried on
without buildings set apart for the purpose--thence
churches and cathedrals.

As prayer is a part of all religious worship, and carnal
men cannot, for lack of the Spirit, pray spiritually--they
must have forms of devotion made ready to their hand,
thence come prayer-books and liturgies.

As there must be mutual points of agreement to hold
men together, there must be written formulas of doctrine
--thence come articles, creeds, and confessions of faith.

And finally, as there are children to be instructed, and
this cannot be safely left to oral teaching, for fear of
ignorance in some and error in others, the very form
of instruction must be drawn up in so many words--
thence come catechisms.

People are puzzled sometimes to know why there is
this and that thing in an established religion--why we
have churches and clergy, tithes and prayer-books,
universities and catechisms--and the whole apparatus
of religion
. They do not see that all these things have
sprung, as it were, out of a moral necessity, and are
based upon the very constitution of man--that this
great and widespread tree of a human religion has
its deep roots in the natural conscience; and that all
these branches necessarily and naturally grow out of
the broad and lofty stem.

The attachment, then, of worldly people to a worldly
religion
is no great mystery. It is no riddle for a Samson
to put forth--or requiring a Solomon to solve.