THE trouble with all such methods of reform as that adopted by the “Christian Citizenship” and kindred organizations for the regeneration of society, is that they do not go deep enough. They stop when they reach the Church; but alas! the Church herself needs to be reformed as much as anything else. Reform must start with the individual; it must proceed with individuals. Reform “en masse” or by organization, is a delusion. The Church is an organization; but her purity and righteousness are those of individuals in her communion. There are some in every church, and a large number in most churches, whose piety is but a pretense. They are a part of the organization, but are not made righteous by that fact. The Church herself cannot be pure while any of her members are unrighteous.
A moral reform which is to prove effectual must pierce through every organization and get at the individuals. It must reach the individuals in the Church as well as those outside of it. The Christian Citizenship kind of reform does not purpose to go within the portals of the Church. Hence as a moral reform it must prove a failure. It can only drive people to seek refuge with the Church, where as long as they can keep up a pretense of piety, they will be safe. Thus this “reform” will not only fail to benefit the State, but will fill the Church with the unconverted; and that must work the ruin of the Church. There is no safety in stopping short of individual reform, which is heart reform, and to be accomplished only by the power of divine grace.
This is the kind of reform that is most sadly needed to-day. But the professed ministers of that grace seem to be fast going into the business of trying to reform men by civil law. They are thus doing more than any other class of persons to lower the moral tone of society.