Tuesday, August 28, 2012
The Soul of Religion
What wretched communities some churches are, where the soul of religion is absent. There is a company of people called a Christian church, and a man called a minister who gives them a pious essay every Sunday morning, and they go in and out, and go home, and there is an end of the whole thing: meanwhile their neighbors are perishing for lack of knowledge, but they care nothing, the heathen are dying without Christ, but they heed it not. So much is given to the cause of God as must be paid out of sheer necessity for the maintenance of outward ordinances, but there is no zeal, no consecration, no fervor of love. May we never come down to this.
O my beloved, I long to see among us yet more and more abundantly the spirit of divine life, energetic life, fervent, self-denying life, life which consumes everything to achieve God’s glory. Beloved, ye have this and may have more of it, but ye may also lose it. Life and power may soon depart; pastor and people may alike sleep in spiritual sloth, and then at such times, the power having gone from the church, its energy is no longer felt among the unconverted. A living church grasps with a hundred hands all ￼that comes near to it; it is a mighty soul-saving institution, which with its far-reaching nets draws thousands from the sea of death. A living church attracts even the Sabbath-breaker, and arouses the infidel. It startles those whom it does not save. When the church is in this state her converts are plenteous; then her teaching and preaching are with power, and truth pushes down its adversaries....
I tremble lest we should go to sleep, and do nothing: I am alarmed lest there should be no conversions, and nobody caring that there should be any, and yet everything seeming to be prosperous. I know that people may be growing more respectable, and appearing to be more pious than ever they were, and yet everything may be going back. God forbid that the dry rot of indifference should seize upon the heart of the church while she yet appears to be sound and strong. Before that occurs may God be pleased to take me home.
From a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon entitled "And Why Not?," delivered November 12, 1876. Image by Dion Gillard on Flickr under Creative Commons License.