Samuel James Pierce Anderson on human nature’s tendency to Formalism in opposition to vital Christianity

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
It cannot be denied that there is in our nature a strong tendency to formalism in religion. Formalism is, indeed, a compromise between conscience and the love of the world. The mind does not readily rest in infidelity; and does not love God or holiness. The resultant of these two forces is often the adoption and strenuous advocacy of a form of religion, which is enough like the truth to appease the conscience, yet which has not life enough to conquer worldly-mindedness. And if this form of godliness can be decorated with a splendid and captivating drapery, which appeals to the imagination, and gratifies the taste, its reception is all the more welcome, and its power the more absolute.

This tendency to exalt and rest in whatever appeals to the senses, is manifested in every part of the world, and in all ages of time. It stands boldly forth in all those systems of religion which man has devised for himself And even a true religion has not unfrequently so degenerated, as to be given up to its sway. Thus it was that that system of truth given by God as the forerunner of Christianity had so yielded to this principle, that its most prominent advocates were chargeable with having a form of godliness, but denying the power of it. ...

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