Pristine Grace

Robert Sandeman Updated #6
Paraphrased in Modern English by David Bishop
by Robert Sandeman
Robert Sandeman Updated #6

     The apostles were strangers to the earthly advantages of modern Christianity. They instead left the care for the nations and states in the hands of the powers ordained by God for that purpose. Rather than concern themselves with word from heads of states, they instead devoted themselves to preaching the remission of sins to all men. They formed no party to make head against the religious establishment of any country. They only declared instead, as they still do by their writings, that all who do not hearken to the gospel shall perish in the next world.

     The effect of this was that some, moved by fear of what death held in store for them, gave ear to them and followed. Others laughed though, and still many more provoked and persecuted. The apostles were in no wise disturbed by any of this, for they knew it was the genuine effect of their testimony and would remain so until the end of the world. We never find them murmuring about the prevalence of infidelity or the seemingly small success the gospel. It gave them no trouble to see unbelievers neglecting the Lord’s supper, the Lord’s day, and the rest of the Christian institutions, nor did the apostles call upon unbelievers to observe them. These institutions were at that time sacred to the honor of Christ, and not, as they are now, sacred only instead to the honor of the seminarians and popular preachers. 

     I say again, the apostles desired to see no unbelievers pretending regard to these institutions, but instead only those who depended on Christ for the remission of sins and the hope of eternal life. University degrees and professor’s robes were of no concern to them. They were so overjoyed with the company of their little congregations which they gathered in different places, chiefly out of the dregs of society, that they neither sought after men of high education, priests and philosophers, nor regretted from the want of their company. I might add, neither did they court the favor of the mob. That is, though they were driven from city to city, barely escaping with life and limb, yet we still find them rejoicing in the whatever success the gospel has had. 2 Cor 2:14 “Now thanks be to God, which always causeth us to triumph, in Christ, and maketh manifest the favor of his knowledge by us in every place.”

     All religions, except theirs, were political, and all political religions except the Jewish were human contrivances for the temporal benefit of particular states and kingdoms, and had no other object in view but worldly happiness. The apostles, in propagating their gospel, had no other object in view but happiness on the other side of death to men of all nations . . . 

     In contrast to this, how long shall we zealously cherish the roots of irreligion and yet still complain of its growth? How long shall we offer strong drink and yet still complain of intemperance? How long shall we pray that the cause flourish while the effects decrease? 

     We have been at great pains to sweeten and gild the Christian religion, to make it more palatable to the world. Yet all the same, men still slyly lick off the sweet and pocket the gold before throwing away the pill while complaining of its bitterness. 

     Melancholy case indeed! 

     What a pity is it that Christianity is not more fashionable. Were it more fashionable, then we modern Christians, rather than bearing the cross after Christ and patiently submitting to the hatred and contempt of the world like His ignorant apostles did, we might instead rise to top of fashion and have our importance and weight duly considered among mankind! Alas, the world would hold our self piety and devotion in high regard would only the more prominent and wealthy of the world’s families agree with us, and by the weight of their reputation and wealth, check the impertinence of unbelievers. How readily then would we set our affections on the things that are above, for we would then be disencumbered of all the inconveniences in our concerns below. And what a charming sight it would be to hold these two ideas which appeared irreconcilable to Jesus and His apostles now beautifully harmonizing together under the joint appellation of a “Christian world.”