In Spurgeon's day England had a state controlled religion (Anglican) which was kind of a compromise between Catholicism and Puritanism, competing with an evangelical upsurge that Spurgeon himself was leading. As always, his words then ring loudly now. Substitute the Church of England for the US Government's state controlled religion (Atheism) and substitute the holy sacraments of atheism: homosexuality, illegal immigration, and state sponsored race riots, for the fripperies that Spurgeon mentions and this could have been written yesterday.
To the spiritual Churchman we would say:—Take the eighteen volumes of the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, and see if you can find eighteen pages of matter which even look towards politics; nay, more, see if there be one solitary sentence concerning politics, which did not, to the preacher's mind, appear to arise out of his text, or to flow from the natural run of his subject. The abstinence of the preacher from such themes would be eminently praiseworthy, if it were not possibly censurable; for he may have neglected a distasteful duty.
The truth is that many of us are loath to touch politics at all, and would never do so if we were not driven to it. Our life-theme is the gospel, and to deal with the sins of the State is our "strange work," which we only enter upon under the solemn constraints of duty. To see Popery made the national religion has aroused the gentlest among us. An evangelical church, imposed upon us by the State, was a grievance and a wrong, but to force a shamelessly Ritualistic Establishment upon us as the national religion is a tyranny which no Englishman ought to bear.
Is an Anglican priest to swing his censer in our faces in the name of the nation? Are the idols and breaden deities of Ritualism to be held up before us, with this exclamation, "These be thy gods, O England!" The case is so, and we protest for we are Protestants - we will not tamely endure it for we worship the living God. We will go on with our spiritual duties quietly enough if those in power will deal out equal measure to all religions. We shall be delighted to have no more grounds of appeal to public justice, and no more reasons for difference with our fellow Christians. If we are political, give us our rights and we shall be so no more. If our spirituality be precious to our antagonists, let them deliver us from the temptation which puts it in peril.
For a Christian minister to be an active partisan of Whigs or Tories, busy in canvassing, and eloquent at public meetings for rival factions, would be of ill repute. For the Christian to forget his heavenly citizenship, and occupy himself about the objects of place-hunters, would be degrading to his high calling: but there are points of inevitable contact between the higher and the lower spheres, points where politics persist in coming into collision with our faith, and there we shall be traitors both to heaven and earth if we consult our comfort by slinking into the rear.
Till religion in England is entirely free from State patronage and control, till the Anglican Papacy ceases to be called the national religion, till every man of every Faith shall be equal before the eye of the law as to his religious rights, we cannot, and dare not cease to be political. Because we fear God, and desire his glory, we must be political—it is a part of our piety to be so. When nearest to God in prayer, we pray that his church may neither oppress nor be oppressed; when walking in holiest fellowship with Jesus, we long that he alone may be head of the church, and that she may no more defile herself with the kings of the earth.
Let not our opponents mistake us: we dare carry our cause before the throne of God, and habitually do so. Our protests before man are repeated in our prayers to God. Our deepest religious emotions are aroused by the struggle forced upon us. We will not say that Nonconformists who are not abused as Political Dissenters are not pious, but we will say that, if we shirked the work which makes us political, we should prove ourselves traitors to the Lord our God. The curse of Meroz (Judges 5:23) would fall upon us if we came not up to the help of the Lord in this the day of battle.
The history of the nation, and the destiny of millions, may depend upon the faithfulness of Nonconformists at this hour, and our persuasion is that the day will come when it shall be fame rather than dishonor to have been reckoned—A POLITICAL DISSENTER.
- From the March 1873 Sword and Trowel