From Spurgeon's sermon, "Religion- a Reality"
Now we will grant you this morning that much of the religion
which is abroad in the world is a "vain thing".
The religion of 'ceremonies' is vain. If a man shall trust in the
gorgeous pomp of uncommanded mysteries, if he shall consider
that there resides some mystical efficacy in a priest, and that by
uttering certain words a blessing is infallibly received, we tell him
that his religion is a vain thing. You might as well go to the Witch
of Endor for grace as to a priest; and if you rely upon 'words',
the "Abracadabra' of a magician will as certainly raise you to
heaven, or rather sink you to hell, as the performances of the
best ordained minister under heaven. Ceremonies in themselves
are vain, futile, empty.
All 'ceremonial religion', no matter how sincere, if it consist
in relying upon forms and observances, is a vain thing.
So with 'creed-religion'- by which I mean not to speak against
creeds, for I love "the form of sound words," but that religion
which lies in believing with the intellect a set of dogmas,
without partaking of the life of God; all this is a vain thing.
Again, that religion 'which only lies in making a profession of
what one does not posses', in wearing the Christian name, and
observing the ritual of the Church, but which does not so affect
the character as to make a man holy, nor so touch the heart as to
make a man God's true servant- such a religion is vain
throughout. O my dear hearers, how much worthless religion
may you see everywhere! So long as men get the name, they
seem content without the substance.
Everywhere, it matters not to what Church you turn your eye,
you see a vast host of hypocrites, numerous as flies about a dead
carcass. On all sides there are deceivers, and deceived ones;
who write "Heaven" upon their brows, but have hell in their
hearts; who hang out the sign of an angel over their doors, but
have the devil for a host within. Take heed to yourselves; be not
deceived, for he who tries the heart and searches the
imaginations of the children of men is not mocked, and he will
surely discern between him that fears God, and him that fears