Friday, September 22, 2006

Defects in the Christian Character - Part 3

(Listed below is an outline taken from a preacher's (Cornelius Tyree) article in a publication written in 1859 regarding his concern about the defects he discerned within professing Christians of his day - I wonder what he would think of today's Christians???)

The prevalent DEFECTS in the Christian character—and how these defects operate against the spread of the Gospel;

1. We say in general, that the common type of Christian character is greatly lacking in PERSONAL HOLINESS.
2. Another prevalent and hurtful defect in the Christian character of this day is FICKLENESS.
3. Another defect in the religion of most professors is that they make PIETY SECONDARY to the interests of time and sense.
4. A lack of LOVE is another defect in the mass of Christians.
5. Another palpable defect in the present type of Christian character, is the lack of a CALM, SATISFIED, CHEERFUL SPIRIT.
6. Another marked defect in the majority of Christians of this age, is their lack of HUMILITY.
7. Another prominent delinquency in the Christian character, in its ordinary development, is SELF-INDULGENCE. The religion of Christ is a self-denying, cross-bearing religion. Hear the precepts of Christ: "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." He preached self-denial, and He sacrificed Heaven and Himself for the world. He requires His disciples to be detached from the world. And how closely the first Christians trod in the self-denying steps of their Master! Property, reputation, personal ease, and friends—they joyfully surrendered for Christ. They counted all things but loss for Him and His salvation. They gave themselves to Him—who gave himself for them. Now there are thousands of modern professors who cannot help knowing that in this essential particular, their manner of living is utterly unlike that of Christ and His primitive followers. The mass of professors live for self-indulgence and self-advancement. They seem determined not to encumber themselves with more religion than will allow them to take the world along with them to heaven. The religion that many have, costs them nothing. Have not the churches been encumbered and weakened long enough with professors, who dream they can go to heaven without paying tribute to our divine King? From such professors the cause of Christ gains nothing and loses much. They misrepresent the Savior, mislead their children, discourage their brethren, and harden into hopeless impenitence, mankind around them. Alas, this is not the day for self-denying, devoted Christians! It is a day of too much prosperity. O for another great reformation!
8. Another defect in the common type of religion, is INACTIVITY. God never intended any servant of His, in any kingdom or rank, to be idle. Jesus Christ, our great model, did not sit down in Jerusalem and require those who needed His salvation to seek him out and wait His convenience; but with a holy industry He went about doing good. With a zeal as steady as time, with a perseverance that no opposition could turn aside, and with a singleness of purpose that neither men nor devils could frustrate or discourage, He continued to preach, pray, and travel—to reclaim the depraved, to deliver the oppressed, elevate the down-trodden, and comfort the distressed—until He finished His work on the cross. And how closely did the first disciples follow the example of their Master in this respect! In that day there were no lounging idlers in the vineyard. Action! action! for Him who died for us and rose again, was their life-long motto. They were Christians indeed. Heaven and earth acknowledged them such. Had the same mind to work been in all subsequent Christians, long before this, the millennium would have dawned on this dark world. But alas! most of the Christians that have lived since, have been engaged about almost everything else, rather than fulfilling the unrevoked command of their Lord—to exert themselves in conveying the gospel to every creature. To be a New Testament Christian it is not enough to possess and display the passive virtues, such as meekness, gentleness, patience and love. Every Christian is bound, in addition to being sound in the faith and consistent in life—to do all be can, by his hand, his mind, his voice, and estate—to spread the empire of his Redeemer. There are Christians enough in the world to place Christianity in the ascendant, if they all would only go out of themselves in efforts to enthrone Christ in the hearts of others. If all were as laborious for Christ as a few have been, in less than a century the entire race would be brought to the knowledge of Christ. Our religion must become incarnated, and take the form of action, or the world will never be impressed deeply with its divinity and importance.
9. Another deficit in most Christians, is their lack of symmetry; or, their LOPSIDEDNESS. Christianity, as it shines upon the pages of the Bible, is a perfect system. All beauty, all worth, all excellences, are so blended and intermingled with the rest, that the more we study His character, the more are we impressed with its perfection. But in the present generation of His disciples, we see in but few, any approximation to this feature of His character. In the great majority you will see some one or more of the Christian's traits, and be at the same time struck with the palpable absence of others. In some of their connections they serve God and reflect His truth; but in other relations equally important, they serve another master, and reflect his dark image. Before leaving the prevalent deficiencies in the Christian character, it may be well to point out the causes of this disproportionateness in the development of our faith. Many of these defects are produced by the partial and distorted exhibitions of the Christian system that are given in the creeds, sermons, and books of the different sects. The New Testament develops Christ's religion as consisting of faith in His atoning death, and imitation of His perfect character. But how deplorably is the latter feature of Christ overlooked by the evangelical pulpit and press! Hundreds of books have been written on Christ, as an atoning sacrifice; in all our long list of good books is there one formally on Christ the model? Sunday after Sunday our pulpits resound with sermons on the cross—and this is infinitely important; but how rare is Christ preached as our Pattern, Model and Example! Now the effect of all this has been to make Christians more like Christ in their sentiments and feelings—than in their life and conduct.


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