"We are all Christians."
"Why, we belong to a Christian
nation; are we not born Christians?"
"Surely we must be all right; we have
always attended our parish church, is
not that enough?"
"Our parents were always godly; we were
born into the church, were we not? Did
they not take us up in their arms when
we were little, and make us members of
Christ? What more do we lack?"
This is the common talk.
There is no Christian practice, there is
no Christian habit, but what has been,
or will be before long, imitated by people
who have no vital godliness whatever.
A man may appear much like a Christian,
and yet possess no vital godliness!
Walk through the British Museum, and you
will see all the orders of animals standing
in their various places, and exhibiting
themselves with the utmost possible
propriety. The rhinoceros demurely retains
the position in which he was set at first;
the eagle soars not through the window;
the wolf howls not at night; every creature,
whether bird, beast, or fish, remains in
the particular glass case allotted to it.
But you all know well enough that these
are not the living creatures, but only the
outward forms of them. Yet in what do
they differ? Certainly in nothing which you
could readily see, for the well stuffed
animal is precisely like what the living
animal would have been; and that eye
of glass even appears to have more of
brightness in it than the natural eye of
the creature itself.
Yet you know well enough that there is a
secret inward something lacking, which,
when it has once departed, you cannot restore.
So in the churches of Christ, many professors
are not living believers, but stuffed believers,
There is all the external of religion, everything
that you could desire, and they behave with a
great deal of propriety, too. They all keep their
places, and there is no outward difference
between them and the living, except upon that
vital point; they lack spiritual life. This is the
essential distinction, spiritual life is absent.
It is almost painful to watch little children
when some little pet of theirs has died, how
they can hardly realize the difference
between death and life!
Your little boy's bird moped for awhile upon
its perch, and at last dropped down in the cage;
and do not you remember how the little boy
tried to set it up, and gave it seed, and filled
its glass with water, and was quite surprised to
think that birdie would not open his little eye
upon his friend as it did before, and would not
take its seed, nor drink its water!
Ah, you finally had to tell the poor boy that
a mysterious something had gone from his
little birdie, and would not come back again.
There is just such a spiritual difference between
the mere professor, and the genuine Christian.
There is an invisible, but most real, indwelling
of the Holy Spirit, the absence or the presence
of which makes all the difference between the
lost sinner and the saint