Does this not sound like our times? Indeed, history has a way of repeating itself. This quote sits before me in a book published in 1949, but the date of writing is 1863. I put it in quote marks rather than indented text, because of its size.
“But just here in our history some will fall away. We have now entered the period when, by the light of our theory, we are attempting to effect a corresponding reformation in practice. A few impatient and unphilosophic spirits, seeing that the work goes slowly forward, will falter and turn back. By their clamor and their fruits you shall know them. They will cry down the theoretic in religion, and extol the practical. Indeed, they are now prepared to ignore theory altogether. Hence they are ready to fraternize with Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Universalists—in a word, with any sect or party, provided only an agreement can be effected in a few small practical details. This, of course, is easily done; and then the circle is completed. Starting in the darkness of sectarianism, these men halted in the light of Christianity; and now starting in the light of Christianity, they have ended in the darkness of sectarianism. They may be readily known by their abnormal charity and eccentric affinities. They love every body but their brethren, forget no one except their former friends, and have an intense affinity for sects, but none for the Church of Christ. They talk much of spiritual Christianity, but attempt to check their folly, and they reveal that they have the spirit of the Devil. At the mention of baptism, they sneer; at the mention of baptism and repentance, they are shocked; at the mention of baptism for the remission of sins, they take hysterics; while at the mention of the reformation, they positively have spasms. They love the sects, and yet will not abandon the brethren whom they hate, preach in churches where they are not wanted, affect piety as mechanically as a pharisee, and speak of the blunders of Mr. Campbell with an air exquisitely ludicrous. Such are a few of those who, just at this time, must slough off into the service of Satan.”
From Moses Lard, “The Reformation for Which We Are Pleading–What Is It?” Lard’s Quarterly 1 (Sept. 1863): 21.