It may surprise you that the predominant challenges of our age – incessant hurry and technology-spawned distractions – are not as new as you might think. What follows are excerpts from a sermon preached in 1883:
Hurry is the characteristic of the age in which we live. Railways, and electric telegraphs, and general competition, appear to oblige modern Englishmen to live in a constant breathless whirl. On every side you see the many “driving furiously,” like Jehu, after business or politics. They seem unable to find time for calm, quiet, serious reflection about their souls and a world to come. They have no abstract objection to the doctrines of Christianity, or to the use of means of grace, the Bible, or private prayer. But, alas, they cannot make leisure for them! They live in a perpetual hurry, and in a hurry they too often die.
Let me, as Christ’s minister, impress on all into whose hands these pages may fall, the absolute necessity of making time for your souls. The restless, high-pressure hurry in which men live endangers the very foundations of personal religion. Daily private prayer and daily Bible-reading are too often jostled into a corner, and hastily slurred over. Body and mind are wearied out, when Sunday arrives, by the intense struggle of week-day life. Church services are listlessly attended, and sometimes neglected altogether. The temptation to idle away God’s day, or to spend it in visiting or dining out, becomes almost irresistible. Little by little the soul gets into a languid and relaxed condition, and the fine edge of conscience becomes blunt and dull. And why? Simply because in the incessant hurry of business and politics men never find time to think. They are not wilfully and of purpose irreligious; but they give themselves no leisure to stand still and take stock of the sate of their souls. Even at the end of last century William Wilberforce made this sorrowful remark about Mr. Pitt, “He was so absorbed in politics, that he had never given himself time for reflection on religion”.
I ask every reader of this paper to consider his ways. Beware of the infection of the times.
J.C. Ryle, The Upper Room, pp. 75-76.