What Evangelical Religion is not

According to J. C. Ryle, Bishop of Liverpool 1880–1900

Excessive ornament, and a theatrical ceremonial, is to defeat the primary end for which worship was established

“I go on to say that Evangelical Religion does not object to handsome churches, good ecclesiastical architecture, a well-ordered ceremonial, and a well-conducted service. It is not true to say that we do. We like handsome, well-arranged places of worship, when we can get them. We abhor slovenliness and disorder in God’s service, as much as any. We would have all things done ‘decently and in order.’ (1 Cor. xiv. 40.)

“But we steadily maintain that simplicity should be the grand characteristic of Christian worship. We hold that human nature is so easily led astray, and so thoroughly inclined to idolatry, that ornament in Christian worship should be used with a very sparing hand. We firmly believe that the tendency of excessive ornament, and a theatrical ceremonial, is to defeat the primary end for which worship was established, to draw away men’s minds from Christ, and to make them walk by sight and not by faith. We hold above all that the inward and spiritual character of the congregation is of far more importance than the architecture and adornments of the church. We dare not forget the great principle of Scripture, that ‘man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.’ (1 Sam. xvi. 7.)

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