Salvation by ceremonies?

Spurgeon, “Hope, Yet No Hope. No Hope, Yet Hope”:

1427664_54442136I turn with loathing from gaudily decorated churches,
dedicated to salvation by ceremonies, daubed with paint, smothered with glitter, and bedizened with pictures, dolls, and all sorts of baby prettinesses.

I turned aside from them uttering, “If your god accepts
such rubbish as this, he is no God to me- my God is too sublime, too noble, too great minded to take delight in your genuflections, and stage play devotions.”

When I behold processions with banners, and crosses,
and smoking censers, and see men who claimed to be
sent of God, and yet dress themselves like Tom-fools,
I do not care for their god, but reckon that it was some
heathenish idol whom I scoff at and despise.

Has it never struck you that ceremonial salvation
would be a very wicked way of salvation?
What is there, for instance, about drops of baptismal
water which could make men better? What is there
about confirmation that should assure you of the
forgiveness of your sins? What is there about
receiving a piece of bread and drinking a drop
of wine that should confer grace?
Might you not remain as bad at heart and as wicked
after all these ceremonies as you were before?

And is it not a violation of the eternal principles of
morality that a man should be endowed with grace
while still his soul clings to sin?

Now, if there be no effect in water to make you hate
sin, and no result from the priest’s hands to make you
love God, and no result from sacraments to make you
holy and heavenly-minded, why do you trust in them?

Surely it is immoral in the highest degree to tell a
man that by outward ceremonies, which cannot
change the life, he shall have his sin forgiven!

The gospel gives not a vestige of confidence to anybody
who hopes to be saved by the performances of ritualism.

The gospel is so simple, so divine; how is it that so
many cast it aside, and take up with these sillinesses
which are the inventions of man?

Only divine grace can turn you from the delusive path
of trusting in vain religious ceremonies for salvation!

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