Spiritual Life in Churches

Boston Evening Transcript

Extract from a paper read by Rev. Joseph Robertson, M.A., at the International Congregational Council in Boston, Mass., September 26, 1899.

Our churches are nothing if not spiritual. We live in a time when much is made, in the church and out of it, of organization and machinery. We may be in danger of having men think that salvation is by public meeting and committee. It is admitted that our churches have ever exercised an influence great out of all proportion to their mutual strength, and, through their members and adherents, played a very important part in such matters as securing civil and religious liberty, advancing education, helping in municipal and political life and in developing works of philanthropy and benevolence, but our churches are nothing unless spiritual. The heroic band who began the work of laying the foundations of the American nation came to plant a church, and, as it has been said, in planting a church they founded a nation. Two dangers require to be avoided. There is an easy, selfish pietism which feels like sitting and singing itself away to everlasting bliss, that puts not its hand to the work of helping the lives of men, sympathizing with their sorrows, relieving their want and woe, not sufficiently realizing that, if man is a soul, he has a body, and that, if he is an heir of heaven, he is, meantime, a citizen of earth, and there is an active, busy—yes, and noble—service of man which may be in danger of losing its realization of the unseen and eternal. Spiritual men may need an ethical revival, but the busy organizer and worker must have the spiritual power which alone can make fruitful the works that are being set in operation by the desire to improve the moral and social condition of mankind.

Food Fear
October 5, 1899

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