Transcription of article published in the Primitive Methodist Magazine by Joseph Ritson
The Present Distress.
We want to apply the old phrase to the Churches and to our own in particular. There is distress over the decline in the Churches. The more the better. The great danger lies in a foolish complaisance and indifference. If we all get thoroughly concerned about the matter the remedy will soon be found. We are disposed to think that what is needed all round is more religion, more genuine, and perhaps, we might say, old-fashioned, piety. If we can have the enthusiasm, the passionate earnestness and sincerity of forty years ago blended with the wider outlook and larger knowledge of to-day, there is no reason why we should not advance as rapidly as in the olden days.
Worldliness, indifference, lax observance of the Sabbath, and neglect of private prayer, spell inevitable decay. If these can be removed it will mean a renewal of that lively interest in the conversion of the unsaved which was such a feature with our fathers. With more genuine spirituality there will be a higher ethical tone, and a more satisfactory witness to the world of the value and blessedness of religion.
Life still has its afflictions, its losses, its misfortunes. Men cannot escape these any more than could the people of an earlier generation. Do Christian people give to those around them the impression. that they are better equipped for meeting such experiences than other people? The witness needed to-day is the witness of character. It must be seen that religion really does something for its professors; that they are more reliable, more just, more generous, more kindly and sympathetic than those who know nothing of religion. Genuine goodness never fails to make an impression.
The family altar, the Sun day evening prayer meeting, the grip of religious conviction, and the passion for souls can only come when there is a more complete consecration on the part of the Churches to God. Then the days of grace will indeed return.
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1912/837