“Either a religion made up of loose opinions, like the familists, ranters, libertines, and antinomians, and the Jesuits too much; or else made up of trifling formalities, and a great deal of bodily exercise, and stage actions, and compliments, as much of the popish devotion is: and a little will draw a carnal heart to believe a carnal doctrine. It is easier to get such a new religion, than a new heart. And then the devil tells them that now they are in the right way, and therefore they shall be saved. A great part of the world think their case is good, because they are of such or such a sect or party...”
If you’ve engaged in social media for long, you surely have seen at least some religious conversions and de-conversions. The modern context puts everything on display, making observations of human tendencies as easy as a click away. Even for the well-grounded Christian, it can be disconcerting to see someone falling into various doctrinal and practical sins. Or, it can be disappointing to see people stay in unbiblical churches, opinions, and practices when you hoped better for them. Particularly troubling is when someone seemed to know and love Christ and his Word, but later falls to a sect with a false gospel, false worship, false piety.
Sometimes the problem is less severe, at least outwardly. In our context, there are so many religious options that a person can simply find whatever degree of soundness they can tolerate and settle there, until they again are strongly challenged (by the Word or Providence) in the particulars of their own life before God. Then they simply move on again to somewhere that feels easier to the flesh.
In this quotation from Baxter’s Christian Directory he warns of two kinds of sects that appeal to this sort: on one side are those that are of “loose opinions” (what I call “free range”) and on the other side are those that excel in man-made religious activities (exotic liturgies, false worship, special works or missions, and extras of all sorts.) So then, as you see if you are observant and wise, times have not changed! These great Scylla and Charybdis still wreck many souls. As Baxter says, “It is easier to get such a new religion, than a new heart.”