Though I rejoice in sudden conversions, I entertain grave suspicions of those suddenly happy people who seem never to have sorrowed over their sin. I am afraid that those who come by their religion so very lightly often lose it quite as lightly. Saul of Tarsus was converted on a sudden, but no man ever went through a greater horror of darkness than he did before Ananias came to him with the words of comfort.
I like deep ploughing. Top-soil skimming is poor work; the tearing of the soil under surface is greatly needed. After all, the most lasting Christians appear to be those who have seen their inward disease to be very deeply seated and loathsome, and after awhile have been led to see the glory of the healing hand of the Lord Jesus as he stretches it out in the gospel.
I am afraid that in much modern religion there is a want of depth on all points; they neither deeply tremble nor greatly rejoice, they neither much despair nor much believe. Oh, beware of pious veneering! Beware of the religion which consists in putting on a thin slice of godliness over a mass of carnality. We must have thorough going work within; the grace which reaches the core, and affects the innermost spirit is the only grace worth having.
To put all in one word, a want of the Holy Ghost is the great cause of religious instability. Beware of mistaking excitement for the Holy Ghost, or your own resolutions for the deep workings of the Spirit of God in the soul. All that ever nature paints God will burn off with hot irons. All that nature ever spins he will unravel and cast away with the rags. Ye must be born from above, ye must have a new nature wrought in you by the finger of God himself, for of all his saints it is written, “Ye are his workmanship, created anew in Christ Jesus.”
Oh, but, everywhere I fear there is a want of the Holy Spirit! there is much getting up of a tawdry morality, barely skin deep, much crying “Peace, peace,” where there is no peace, and very little deep heart-searching anxiety to be throughly purged from sin. Well-known and well-remembered truths are believed without an accompanying impression of their weight; hopes are flimsily formed, and confidences ill founded, and it is this which makes deceivers so plentiful, and fair shows after the flesh so common.