An old-fashioned, narrow-minded, fossilized person!
(J.C. Ryle, "Needs of the Times!" 1879)
There is a common complaint in these days, that there is a lack of power in Christianity, and that the church does not shake the world as it did in former years. Shall I tell you what the reason is, in plain words? It is the low tone of life which is so sadly prevalent among professing believers. I believe we fall far short in our standard of Christian practice.
The times require a higher standard of personal holiness, and an increased attention to practical religion in daily life.
I must honestly declare my conviction, that there never has been . . .
so much profession of religion — without practice,
so much talking about God — without walking with Him,
so much hearing God's Words — without doing them,
as there is at this present date!
Never were there so many empty tubs and tinkling cymbals!
Never was there so much formality — and so little reality!
The whole tone of men's minds on what constitutes practical Christianity seems lowered. The old golden standard of the behavior which befits a Christian, appears debased and degenerated. You may see scores of religious people (so-called) continually doing things which in days gone by, would have been thought utterly inconsistent with vital Christianity! They see no harm in such things as theater-going, dancing, incessant novel reading — and they cannot in the least understand what you mean by objecting to them! The ancient tenderness of conscience about such things seems dying away and becoming extinct, like the dodo-bird.
And when you venture to remonstrate with those who indulge in them, they only stare at you as an old-fashioned, narrow-minded, fossilized person, and say, "What is the harm?" In short, laxity and levity are the common characteristics of the rising generation of professors.
Where is . . .
the redemption of time,
the absence of luxury and self-indulgence,
the unmistakable separation from earthly things,
the manifest air of being always about our Master's business,
the singleness of eye,
the simplicity of home life,
the high tone of conversation in society,
the patience, the humility, the universal love —
which marked Christians seventy or eighty years ago? Yes, where is it indeed? We have inherited their principles — but I fear we have not inherited their practice!
The Holy Spirit sees it — and is grieved! The world sees it — and despises us. The world sees it — and cares little for our testimony. It is life, life — a heavenly, godly, Christ-like life — depend on it, which influences the world!