A Religious Animal

“Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious, for as I was walking along I saw your many altars. And one of them had this inscription on it — TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.”
(Acts 17:22-23)

Man has been called, and perhaps with some truth, a religious animal. Religion of some kind, at any rate, seems almost indispensable to his very existence—for from the most civilized nation, to the most barbarous tribe upon the face of the earth—we find some form of religion practiced. Whether this is ingrained into the very constitution of man, or whether it be received by custom or tradition—I will not pretend to decide. But that some kind of religion is almost universally prevalent, is a fact that cannot be denied. We will always find these two kinds of religion…false and true, earthly and heavenly, fleshly and spiritual, natural and supernatural.

Compare this vital, spiritual, heavenly, divine, supernatural religion – this work of grace upon the soul, this teaching of God in the heart, this life of faith within — with its flimsy counterfeit. Compare the actings of real faith, real hope, real love; the teachings, the dealings, the leadings, and the operations of the blessed Spirit in the soul — with rounds of duties, superstitious forms, empty ceremonies, and a notional religion, however puffed up and varnished.

Compare the life of God in the heart of a true Christian, amid all his dejection, despondency, trials, temptations, and exercises; compare that precious treasure, Christ’s own grace in the soul — with all mere external religion, superficial religion, notional religion. O, it is no more to be compared than a grain of dust with a diamond! No more to be compared than a criminal in a dungeon to the King on the throne! In fact, there is no comparison between them.

By J.C. Philpot

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