Christian ‘In Name Only’

In 1544 these words were written, and they sound as though they could have been written today:

“The name of Christian flies from mouth to mouth, but when men are called upon to humble themselves under the Gospel, which is the sceptre with which Christ exercises his dominion over us, they almost all turn away. Yea, it is only too common for people to adorn themselves hypocritically with the name of Christian, and then to desecrate it.

It is therefore no little virtue to prove ourselves by action true disciples of the Son of God. You must accordingly so much the more intensely feel his mercy, which has led you so far; for it is not our work when we come to Him, but He draws us to Himself; and that his goodness may shine the more brightly, and be the better understood, He separates us from the rest, the poor blind sinners, whom we see wandering about us; and shows us, as in a glass, the wretched condition in which we should be without Him, and this, that we may glorify Him the more for having delivered us from the horrible darkness of death.

Therefore consider, Sir, the whole worth of the treasure which God bestows upon you, and make good use of it. When we see the iniquity which everywhere prevails, and the violence of Satan against those who take the right way, we must feel the necessity of turning our eyes to heaven, and praying for strength and perseverance to resist. If we wish to be made partakers of the glory of our Redeemer, we must be ready to bear the shame of his cross. I therefore pray you, as the necessity increases, to stir up and animate yourself, to contend resolutely against Satan and the world, and to die more and more unto yourself, that you may be renewed in God. And since, in order to love, we must have knowledge, I beseech you to read diligently those exhortations which lead thereto.

The coldness which we see in so many, comes from the negligence which allows them to imagine that enough has been done if they have snatched, in a passing way, some few words of holy Scripture. We ought on the contrary, as St. Paul says, to become more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ, by beholding him in the mirror of his Gospel, and so to advance from glory to glory. He hereby shows, that the better we know Christ, the more nobly will his grace and power operate in our souls.

Strive therefore to learn more and more, and especially from the consideration that you have your children to think of, whom God has entrusted to you, that you may consecrate them to Him, and that he may be their Father, even as He is yours. Be careful therefore to bring them up in his fear, and to preserve them from the filth and pollution in which we have been sunk. I know that the obstacles which Satan places in our path are difficult to overcome. Hence I admonish you to educate them rather as looking forwards to an inheritance in heaven, than as anxious for the perishable riches and honors of the present world.

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