Christianity especially has always thrived under persecution. For at such times it has no lukewarm professors. The Christian is then reminded that his Master’s kingdom is not of this world. When all on earth looks black, he looks up to heaven for consolation. Then he sees himself as a pilgrim and a stranger. For it is then as in the hour of death that he will examine well his foundations and cleave to the fundamentals.
But when religion is in a state of quiet and prosperity, the opposite effect tends to take place. The soldiers of the church militant will then tend to forget they are at war. Their ardor slackens and their zeal languishes. John Owen has made an apt comparison: Religion in a state of prosperity is like a colony that is long settled in a strange country. It is gradually assimilated in feature, demeanor, and language to the native inhabitants, until at length every vestige of its distinctiveness has died away.
– William Wilberforce –
from the book Real Christianity, 1797