Slow or Sudden Came the Change

Jun 15th, 2017

Paul Mooney

by Paul Mooney

Young souls, that come to claim your place

In Christ’s enlisted band,

And seek the mighty sevenfold grace

Through touch of pastoral hand


The eyes that scan your ranks today

Are moist with hope and fear;

Just entered on the stern, sweet way, —

Oh! Will you persevere?


Alas for thousands that have knelt

Where you are bending now!

You feel what they as warmly felt,

In prayer and solemn vow.


Seemed it that nought could them estrange

From Him your hearts adore:

Yet, slow or sudden, came the change —

They walked with Him no more.


Seemed it that nought could them estrange

From Him your hearts adore;

Yet, slow or sudden came the change —

They walked with Him no more!

William Bright

Conformation Canon of Christ Church, Oxford

Christ Church, Oxford
In an old book that I had collected decades ago, came forth an inclusion of the “Conformation Canon of Christ Church, Oxford.” The words were profound, and as I read them I wept, my heart gripped, feeling the weight of the described estrangement from Christ in the poignant line, “They walked with Him no more!”

As if he were trying to understand how this separation could have happened, Bright prefaced the declaration with the lament, “Yet, slow or sudden came the change.” This phrase, a near question, matched my feelings and my prayers of late. There is little need to pose an argument about whether Christians at large, or even we who see ourselves as advocates of holiness, are or are not allowing a breakdown in our traditional and biblical convictions.

In matters of lifestyle, modesty, holiness of spirit, separation from worldly ambitions, worldly interests and entertainment there is a clear departure from Godly conviction. Admit it or not, we all know this is true. Even the most cursory perusal of the Internet documents this reality. America, and her church, has lost her compass. “Yet, slow or sudden came the change — They walked with Him no more!”

Love is at the root of all things. The love of Christ moves us to obey. The love of Truth anchors our minds and gives us strength to resist the wisdom of this world which God hath made foolish (I Corinthians 1:20). It seems impossible that the passion which once moved us, brought us together, changed us, sent us out to labor in mission fields at great sacrifice, could ever become cold. But, as the poet said, “Seemed it that nought could them estrange—From Him your hearts adore.”

Our personal rejoicing is this: both my mother and father used their last breath to acknowledge their love for the revelation of the mighty God in Christ. They had paid the price. They had kept the faith. I say this not to evoke sentimental platitudes such as, “Ahh! Isn’t that sweet? You must have really loved them,” but rather to explain that their deathbed emotion was about a sincere testimony.

The Apostle Paul explained it like this: “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward” (2 Corinthians 1:12).

The old Oxford Conformation invoked upon the young preacher, or the next generation, the matter of the candidate receiving the conformation by the laying on of the pastor’s hand. In that moment, the candidate had for himself felt the love toward the Lord in the same way and to the same depth as their pastors and elders had felt it. It was an acknowledgment of their love for the Truth as was known and understood generationally with the elders. It was a testimony of their conscience. It was not a temporary belief or popular religious position, but a matter of fervent conviction, from which no one was ever expected to become estranged.

I never expected my parents to depart from their convictions, and they trusted Micki and me to stay on the “right way,” as they liked to say. It was not an imposed indoctrination, a cultish pledge, a religious rite or simply a vow to one’s mother. It was a shared anointing and infilling of the Holy Ghost. We had together touched the same thing, loved the same thing – we all knew Jesus by our own revelation. Our hearts were fixed. “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise” (Psalm 57:7).

What must happen between generations is not merely shared religious history open to new interpretation and evolving sets of values shaped by modernity. What must happen is a mutual love for fellowship in His Spirit – The same Acts 2:38 experience and commitment to holiness lived, believed and practiced in our lives and in our hearts.


The eyes that scan your ranks today

Are moist with hope and fear;

Just entered on the stern, sweet way, —

Oh! Will you persevere?

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