Charles Haddon Spurgeon writes:
We too often flog the church, when the whip should be laid on our own shoulders. We drag the church, like a colossal culprit, to the altar; we bind her, and try to execute her at once; we bind her hands fast, and tear off thongfull after thongfull of her quivering flesh—finding fault with her where there is none, and magnifying her little errors; while we too often forget ourselves. Let us, therefore, commence with ourselves, remembering that we are part of the church, and that our own want of revival is in some measure the cause of that want in the church at large.
Now, I directly charge the great majority of professing Christians—and I take the charge to myself also—with a need of a revival of piety in these days. I shall lay the charge before you very peremptorily, because I think I have abundant grounds to prove it. I believe that the mass of Christian men in this age need a revival, and my reasons are these:
In the first place, look at the conduct and conversation of too many who profess to be the children of God. It ill becomes any man who occupies the sacred place of a pulpit to flatter his hearers, and I shall not attempt to do so. The evidence lies with too many of you who unite yourselves with Christian churches, and in practically protesting against your profession.
It has become very common now-a-days to join a church; go where you may you find professing Christians who sit down at some Lord’s table or another; but are there fewer cheats than there used to be? Are there less frauds committed? Do we find morality more extensive? Do we find vice entirely at an end? No, we do not. . . . My brethren, it is well known and who dares deny it that is not too partial, and who will not speak willful falsehood ?—it is well known that it is not these days a sufficient guaranty even of a man’s honesty, that he is a member of a church. It is a hard thing for Christian ministers to say, but we must say it, and if friends say it not, enemies will; and better that the truth should be spoken in our midst, that men may see that we are ashamed of it, than that they should hear us impudently deny what we must confess to be true!
O sirs, the lives of too many members of’ Christian churches give us grave cause to suspect that there is none of the life of godliness in them at all. . . . God in heaven knows that what I speak is true, and too many here know it themselves. If they be Christians, at least they want revival; if there be life in them, it is but a spark that is covered up with heaps of ashes; it needs to be fanned, ay, and it needs to be stirred also, that, haply, some of the ashes may be removed and the spark may have place to live. The church wants revival in the persons of its members. The members of Christian churches are not what once they were. It is fashionable to be religious now; persecution is taken away; and ah! I had almost said, the gates of the church were taken away with it. The church has, with few exceptions, no gates now; her sons come in, and go out of it, just as they would march through St. Paul’s cathedral, and make it a very place of traffic, instead of regarding it as a select and sacred spot, to be apportioned to the holy of the Lord, and to the excellent of the earth, in whom is God’s delight. If this be not true, you know how to treat it; you need not confess to sin you have not committed; but if it be true, and true in your case, O humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God; ask him to search and try you, that if you be not his child you may be helped to renounce your profession, lest it should be to you but the gaudy pageantry of death, and mere tinsel and gew-gaw in which to go to hell. If you be his, ask that he may give you more grace, that you may renounce these faults and follies, and turn unto him with full purpose of heart, as the effect of a revived godliness in your soul. (“The True Essence of Revival”)
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