Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul

by Octavius Winslow (1841)

Chapter 5: Declension in Connection with DOCTRINAL ERROR

"Sanctify them through your truth." (John 17:17)

God has been graciously pleased to appoint his church the great conservator of his truth, and his truth the especial medium of sanctification to his church; there is a close and beautiful relation between the two. The church may be compared to the golden lamp which contains the sacred oil, which, in its turn, feeds the flame of its light and holiness. The church is to guard with a jealous and vigilant eye the purity of the truth, while the truth is to beautify and sanctify the ark which preserves it; compare i Tim. iii. 15; John xvii. 17. Thus there is a close relation, and a reciprocal influence constantly existing and exerted, between the church of Christ and the truth of God.

To this thought add yet another: every individual believer in Jesus is himself a subject, and therefore a witness, of the truth; he has been quickened, called, renewed, and partially sanctified through the instrumentality of God's revealed truth: " Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth." James i. 18. "For the truth's sake which dwells in us." 2 John 2. " You are my witnesses, says the Lord." Here is unfolded one of the most solemn and affecting truths touching the character and individual responsibility of a child of God. He is a subject of truth, he is a repository of the truth, and he is a witness for the truth; yes, he is the only living witness to the truth which God has on earth. The world he lives in is a dark, polluted, God-blaspheming, Christ-denying, truth-despising world. The saints who have been called out of it according to his eternal purpose and love, and by his sovereign, distinguishing, and free grace, are the only lights and the only salt in the midst of this moral darkness and corruption. Here and there a light glimmers, irradiating the gloomy sphere in which it moves; here and there a spot of verdure appears, relieving the arid and barren desolation by which it is surrounded. These are the saints of the Most High, the witnesses of the Divine character, the omnipotent power, and the holy tendency of God's blessed truth. Let the saints of God, then, solemnly weigh this affecting fact, that though the written word and the accompanying Spirit are God's witnesses in the world, yet they are the only living exemplifications of the power of the truth, and, as such, are earnestly exhorted to be " blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world." Phil. ii. 15.

The first point on which it is our duty to touch in opening the subject of this chapter, is the holy tendency of Divine truth, or the intimate relation between truth and holiness. There are two admitted axioms in every department of human science, which will apply with equal force to the matter before us; - that is, that an effect cannot exist without a cause, and that a cause does not operate without the use of means. Let these admitted propositions form the basis of our reasoning upon this important subject. God has designed the sanctification of his people; he has appointed his truth as the great instrument of effecting their sanctification; and in order to accomplish this, he has declared, that his truth must dwell in the heart in the same richness, fullness, and purity with which it is revealed in his word.

In sustaining our proposition, that the truths of the Gospel are the grand means which God employs for the sanctification of his people, let us be distinctly understood in the outset, as disclaiming all belief in the mere power of the truth itself to produce holiness. This is one of the grand errors of modern divinity from which we unhesitatingly dissent, and which we sternly repudiate. The mere presentation of truth to the un-renewed mind, either in the form of threatening, or promise, or motive, can never produce any saving or sanctifying effect. The soul of man in its unrenewed state, is represented as spiritually dead; insensible to all holy, spiritual motion. Now upon such a mind, what impression is to be produced by the mere holding up of truth before its eye? What life, what emotion, what effect will be accomplished? As well might we spread out the pictured canvas before the glazed eye of a corpse, and expect that by the beauty of the design, and the brilliancy of the coloring, and the genius of the execution, we would animate the body with life, and heave the bosom with emotion, and cause the eye to swim with delight, as to look for similar moral effects to result from the mere holding up to view Divine truth before a carnal mind, " dead in trespasses and sins." And yet there are those who maintain the doctrine, that Divine truth, unaccompanied by any extraneous power, can effect all these wonders! Against such a theory we would simply place one passage from the sacred Word: " Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

But the power of the truth for which we plead, is that which results from the attending energy and demonstration of the Holy Spirit. The sacred Word, inspired though it be, ii but a dead letter, unclothed with the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit. Awful as are the truths it unfolds, solemn as are the revelations it discloses, touching as are the scenes it portrays, and persuasive as are the motives it supplies, yet, when left to its own unaided operation, Divine truth is utterly impotent to the production of spiritual life, love, and holiness in the soul of man. Its influence must necessarily be passive, possessing as it does no actual power of its own, and depending upon a Divine influence extraneous from itself, to render its teaching efficacious. The three thousand who were converted on the day of Pentecost, were doubtless awakened under one sermon, and some would declare it was the power of the truth which wrought those wonders of grace. With this we perfectly agree, only adding, that it was truth in the mighty hand of God which pierced them to the heart, and wrung from them the cry, " Men and brethren, what shall we do?" The Eternal Spirit was the efficient cause, and the preached truth but the instrument employed, to produce the effect; but for his accompanying and effectual power, they would, as multitudes do now, have turned their backs upon the sermon of Peter, though it was full of Christ crucified, deriding the truth, and rejecting the Savior of whom it spoke. But it pleased God, in the sovereignty of his will, to call them by his grace, and this he did by the effectual, omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit, through the instrumentality of a preached gospel.

Thus, then, we plead for a personal experimental acquaintance with, and reception of, the truth, before it can produce anything like holiness in the soul. That it has found an entrance to the judgment merely, will not do; advancing not further, - arresting not the will, touching not the heart, renewing not the whole soul, - it can never erect the empire of holiness in man; the reign of sanctification cannot have commenced. The mental eye may be clear, the moral eye closed; the mind all light, the heart all dark; the creed orthodox, and the whole life at variance with the creed. Such is the discordant effect of Divine truth, simply settled in the human understanding, unaccompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit in the heart. But let a man receive the truth in his heart by the power of God himself; let it enter there, disarming and dethroning the strong man; let Jesus enter, and the Holy Spirit take possession, renewing, sealing, and sanctifying the soul; and then we may look for the " fruits of holiness which are unto eternal life."

Now that it is the natural tendency of Divine truth thus received into the heart, to produce holiness, a moment's reference to the word of God will show. The design of the whole plan of redemption, was to secure the highest holiness and happiness of the creature; and when the gospel comes with the power of God unto the salvation of the soul, this end is pre-eminently secured. The renewed man is a pardoned man; the pardoned man becomes a holy man; and the holy man is a happy man. Look, then, at God's word, and trace the tendency of every doctrine, precept, promise, and threatening, and mark the holy influence of each. To select, for example, a few of the distinguishing doctrines of grace. Take the doctrine of God's everlasting love to his people, as seen in their election to eternal life. How holy is the tendency of this truth! "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." Eph. i. 3,4. Let not my reader turn from this glorious doctrine, because he may find it irreconcilable with others that he may hold, or because the mists of prejudice may long have veiled it from his mind; it is a revealed doctrine, and therefore to be fully received; it is a holy doctrine, and therefore to be ardently loved. Received in the heart by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, it lays the pride of man in the dust, knocks from beneath the soul all ground for self-glorying, and expands the mind with the most exalted views of the glory, grace, and love of Jehovah. He who receives the doctrine of electing love in his heart by the power of the Spirit, bears about with him the material of a holy walk; its tendency is to humble, abase, and sanctify the man.

Thus holy, too, is the revealed doctrine of God's free, sovereign, and distinguishing grace. The tendency of this truth is most sanctifying: for a man to feel that God alone has made him to differ from another - that what he has he has received - that by the free, distinguishing grace of God, he is what he is, - is a truth, when experienced in the heart, surely of the most holy influence. How it lays the axe at the root of self! how it stains the pride of human glory, and hushes the whispers of vain boasting! It lays the renewed sinner, where he ought ever to lie, in the dust; and places the crown, where it alone ought to shine, bright and glorious, upon the head of sovereign mercy. " Lord, why me ? I was far from you by wicked works; I was the least of my Father's house, and of all, the most unworthy and unlikely object of your love: and yet your mercy sought me, - your grace selected me out of all the rest, and made me a miracle of its omnipotent power. Lord, to what can I refer this, but to your mere mercy, your sovereign and free grace, entirely apart from all worth or worthiness that you did see in me? Take, therefore, my body, soul, and spirit, and let them be, in time and through eternity, a holy temple to your glory." Thus "the grace of God, that brings salvation, has appeared to all men, teaching us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present evil world." And so might we pass on through all the kindred doctrines of grace, were it necessary, showing that the sanctification of the believer is their great end and tendency.

All the precepts, too, are on the side of holiness. " If you love me, keep my commandments"; "Love not the world, nor the things of the world "; " Come out of the world, and be you separate, and touch not the unclean thing "; " Watch and pray "; " Pray without ceasing "; " Love as brethren "; " Be you holy, for I am holy "; " God has not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness "; " That you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God." Holy precepts! May the Eternal Spirit engrave them deep upon our hearts!

Not less sanctifying in their tendency are those "exceeding great and precious promises " which the word of truth contains. " Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."

Equally holy is the tendency of the Divine threatenings. " The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness! Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that you look for such things, be diligent that you may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless." Thus holy and sanctifying are the nature and the effect of Divine truth. It is in its nature and properties most holy; it comes from a holy God; and whenever and wherever it is received in the heart, as the good and incorruptible seed of the kingdom, it produces that which is in accordance with its own nature, - holiness. As is the tree, so are the fruits; as is the cause, so are the effects. It brings down and lays low the high thoughts of man, by revealing to him the character of God; it convinces him of his deep guilt and awful condemnation, by exhibiting the Divine law; it unfolds to him God's hatred of sin, his justice in punishing and his mercy in pardoning it, by unfolding to his view the cross of Christ; and taking entire possession of the soul, it implants new principles, supplies new motives, gives a new end, begets new joys, and inspires new hopes, - in a word, diffuses itself through the whole moral man, changes it into the same image, and transforms it into " an habitation of God through the Spirit."

Now it will require no labored or lengthened discussion to show, that the nature and tendency of error must be opposite to that of truth; for it is impossible that two things so different in their natures should be capable of producing the same effects. If the nature and the tendency of truth are to promote holiness, it must be the nature and tendency of error to promote unholiness: if the one tends to humble the pride of man, to diminish him in his own eyes, to correct the evils of his fallen nature, to break the power of corruption, and to introduce him into the holy liberty of the child of God, - for " if the truth makes him free, then is he free indeed," - surely the other tends to foster his proud conceit of himself, to beget a lofty view of his own gifts and attainments, to lessen his views of sin's exceeding sinfulness, and, lowering the motive and weakening the power of holiness, gives the unchecked rein to all the corrupt propensities of a fallen nature.

It is the tendency of false doctrine to divert the mind that cherishes it into a wrong channel: it leads the soul away from God. As truth experimentally received draws the heart to God, so error cherished in the mind leads the heart from God. It imparts distorted views of the Divine character, gives low conceptions of the Divine law, beclouds the finished work of Christ, weakens the power of moral obligation, and, from step to step, leads the soul entirely, and, if grace do not interfere, forever, from God.

That the connection between spiritual and personal declension and false doctrine is close and inseparable, and the results always the most painful and disastrous, cannot be questioned. The moment a private Christian, or a public teacher, or an associated body, becomes infected with false doctrine, departs from the word of God, and sets up doctrines, and commandments, and ordinances, at variance with the revealed word, that moment finds him or them deteriorating in spirituality and declining in holiness; and from a career of spiritual prosperity, perhaps the most unexampled, relapsing into a state of formality, deadness, and unfruitfulness, from which nothing seems fully and permanently to recover them.

Select an individual believer, a minister, or the case of a church, which has departed from the "faith once delivered unto the saints," and has relinquished some of the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel, and how marked and painful are the results!

Take, for example, the case of an individual believer. Has he abandoned the ancient landmark of truth? Has he lost a reverence for its character, a sense of its value, a relish for its sweetness ? Trace the sad effects in his uneven walk, his careless spirit, his low-toned spirituality, his hardened conscience, his insensible heart, his neglect of means - in a word, the apparent withering up of all his grace. What a change has passed over the man! what a distant spirit now marks him whose walk was once so close with God! what exhibitions of self in him who was once so humble and so retiring, whose carriage did seem to speak the inward consciousness of the soul " less than the least of all saints!" what a turning of the back upon the means of grace by him to whom they were once so highly prized, so eagerly sought, so richly enjoyed, amid which he walked as through green pastures, and by the side of still waters! what unkindness, what haughty bearing, what frigid distance, now marks his conduct towards the saints of God, once so dear to his heart, his chosen and beloved companions, with whom he desired to live and to die! He has departed from the faith, and these are some of the dire effects!

Take the still more affecting case of a professed minister of the Gospel. Has any change taken place in his views of the Christian system? has he relinquished any fundamental doctrine of the Gospel? has he abandoned any essential element of revealed truth? Perhaps he has given up the Godhead of Christ, the sacrificial character of his death; or, it may be, he denies the Deity and Personality of the Spirit; or else his views touching the obligation of the believer to holiness have undergone a painful alteration. But, whatever be the error he has imbibed, whether doctrinal or preceptive, a fearful blight has in consequence fallen upon the man. How changed the spiritual frame of his mind! - no more zeal, tenderness, or solemnity marks him. How altered the character of his ministry! - no more power, earnestness, or spirituality, clothes it. How different its results! - no more conversions, and no more edification, comfort, and establishing of the saints, follow it. How differently he prays, - no more unction, life, and power breathe in his petitions. He has imbibed error, he has turned his back upon God's truth, and God has turned his back upon him.

We might go on to trace the same or similar effects, showing the close connection between false doctrine and spiritual declension, in the history of a church which has departed from the purity of the faith; but sufficient has been advanced, we believe, to illustrate the awful consequences of tampering with God's word, and of relinquishing our hold upon a single truth which he has revealed for the sanctification and salvation of the soul.

The inquiry appropriately suggests itself here, - how far may the prevailing deficiency in spirituality be traced to the influence of lax views of Divine truth among professedly orthodox Christians, and to the existence of alarming errors, which, like a flood, threaten to sweep away the ancient landmarks of Gospel truth? That such a dearth of spirituality does exist, - traced in the pulpit, on the platform, from the press, and in the social communion of Christians, cannot be doubted: the only question is, To what are we to refer it as a cause? We unhesitatingly reply, To a defective theology, to false doctrine, to low and lax views of God's revealed truth. Declension in spirituality has ever followed a departure from the purity of the faith. Look at the reformed churches on the continent of Europe; they departed from the pure doctrines of the Reformation, and what and where are they now? Scattered, many of them, to the winds, - torn up by the roots; while those that remain have sunk into a state of the deepest declension, abandoned to the withering influence of an infidel neology, and a mystic transcendentalism. It is true, the sun of the Reformation appears in some parts of the land of Calvin and Luther to be emerging from its long and deep obscuration, inspiring hopes of the revival of a more pure and spiritual Christianity. And to what are these favorable symptoms to be traced, save to a return of some of the churches and pastors to the pure doctrines of the Reformation? - doctrines which Luther boldly preached, on which Calvin powerfully wrote, and for which Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer went fearlessly to the stake. It is much to be feared, that if the reformed churches of England and of America return not soon to a purer and a more spiritual theology, they will smite upon the rocks on which the continental churches have so sadly made shipwreck of faith. To descend to particulars:

Is there not in the present day a criminal keeping back by some, and a painful undervaluing by others, of the scriptural and holy doctrines of grace? - The doctrines which unfold the eternity of God's love to his people - the sovereignty of his grace in their election - the effectual power of the Spirit in their calling - the free justification of their persons through the imputed righteousness of Christ, and the entire putting away of their sins by his atoning blood - the solemn obligation to " live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present evil world," and the certainty of their final glorification in the world to come, - are not these Divinely-revealed truths, at the present moment, and by the great mass of Christian professors and preachers, excluded from our pulpits and exiled from our land? are they not considered mean and unfashionable? and, having lost their savor with the many, are they not cast out and trodden under foot of men? We verily and solemnly believe that it is so. By some they are professedly received, but criminally held back; by others they are professedly preached, but with such timidity and obscurity, as to render them of none effect: and by the many they are disbelieved altogether, and therefore openly and boldly denied! And yet, these are the doctrines which shine so luminously in every page of the apostle's writings, - these are the doctrines which formed the grand themes of Christ's ministration, - and these are the doctrines, to the preaching of which by the reformers, we owe all the civil and religious liberty which, as a nation, we now possess. We hesitate not, then, to say that, along with the denial or the undervaluing of these doctrines of grace, there will go forth an influence that will wither the spirituality and obstruct the prosperity of the churches of our land. It is true, an outward appearance of fruitfulness may follow the exhibition of opposite and conflicting doctrines, - crowds may flock to their standard, and multitudes seem converted by their influence, - but soon these delusive appearances are seen to pass away. The time of trial and of sifting comes, and then it is found - when, alas! too late to close the floodgate against the overwhelming evils which the preaching of error has produced - that the truth, and the truth only, in the hands of the Eternal Spirit of God, can really enlighten the dark mind, regenerate the lifeless soul, and subdue and sanctify the rebellious heart: it is then discovered, that the true prosperity of a church, its stability, its spirituality, its vigor, and its holy influence, are essentially, and therefore inseparably, connected with a fearless and holy maintenance of the doctrines of grace; that where they are denied, or held back, or in any way obscured, there may indeed exist the form of godliness, but the power - the glorious, Divine, and sanctifying power - is wanting. The preaching of false doctrine may build up a church composed of "wood, hay, stubble," but the preaching of truth alone can rear a church composed of "gold, silver, precious stones." And the day is approaching, when " every man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." i Cor. iii. 13.

Do we long, and pray, and labor for a true revival of the Lord's work? - What is more calculated to bring down the Holy Spirit of God upon us in all the plenitude of his awakening influence, - arousing the careless, convincing the impenitent and unbelieving of sin, annihilating the self-righteousness, prostrating the high thoughts, and slaying the pride of the human heart, - than a clear, pointed, and faithful exhibition of God's own revealed truth? Has not the great experiment been tried, and the question set at rest? - It has. President Edwards, in his Narrative of Surprising Conversions, bears this testimony: - "I think I have found," says he, "that no discourses have been more remarkably blessed than those in which the doctrine of God's absolute sovereignty with regard to the salvation of sinners, and his just liberty with regard to his answering the prayers, or succeeding the pains of mere natural men, continuing such, have been insisted on. I never found so much immediate saving fruit, in any measure, of any discourses I have offered to my congregation, as some from those words, ' That every mouth may be stopped Rom. iii. 19; endeavoring from thence to show, that it would be just with God forever to reject and cast off mere natural men."

And to go still further back in search of a stronger testimony; what was the great revival at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost the result of, but a faithful exhibition of the truth, brought to bear upon the consciences and the hearts of three thousand rebellious sinners, by the bold apostle Peter? The doctrines he then proclaimed, were the now despised and slighted doctrines of grace; the truths he then thundered forth, were the most humbling to human pride, and the most offensive to the natural heart, and yet the most calculated, in the hands of the Eternal Spirit, to awaken the deepest emotion, and to produce the most anxious inquiry:- "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." " Now, when they heard this, they were pierced in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles. Men and brethren, what shall we do?" This was the result of a simple preaching of the truth, - a faithful exhibition of the doctrines of grace. The stout-hearted Jews listened with awe: the men who had witnessed the awful scene of Calvary without emotion, now quailed, trembled, turned pale, and smote on their breasts, in all the anguish of a deep, pungent conviction of sin. How soon did their proud natures bend, their hard hearts melt; the strong fortress of their prejudices yield before the simplicity and the majesty of the truth! It was the naked " sword of the Spirit" which Peter wielded, and this, at one blow, smote to the earth three thousand of the most hopeless, impenitent sinners; it was a crucified Savior that he held up, which, by the power of the Holy Spirit, wrought the wonders of the day of Pentecost. " Is not my word," says God, " like as a fire, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?" " Your arrows are sharp in the hearts of the king's enemies, whereby the people fall under you." Is it unreasonable, then, to expect, that the same Spirit will honor with similar tokens of his power, the preaching of the same truths in our day ? " Thus says the Lord, Stand you in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and you shall find rest for your souls." Jer. vi. 16.

We would also inquire, is there not in the present day a sad declension in the setting forth of the Lord Jesus Christ? Have we not cause to sound the note of alarm touching this most important point? We verily and solemnly believe that the pulpits of our land are awfully guilty here; that the modern preaching of the Gospel is not formed on the model of the apostles', which was - Christ crucified: " I determined not to know (or to make known) anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." Is not Jesus kept in the background ? Is not his cross hidden, and much of his glory veiled, as if ashamed to bring him fully forward? Are the glory, the majesty, and the beauty of his Divine and human nature, his wondrous person, clearly set forth ? Are the nature, necessity, and perfection of his great work, fully and fearlessly unfolded? Are his precious blood, his imputed righteousness, his mediatorial fullness, his exaltation and intercession at the right hand of God, truths prominently exhibited and fervently preached? On the contrary, are not human knowledge, and splendid talents, and brilliant eloquence, and moral suasion, greatly substituted for the preaching of the cross? That there should be a sad declension of vital piety, of real spirituality, and of active exertion, where Christ is not fully preached, is not to be wondered at. The cross of Jesus is the very soul of Christianity; all is death where Jesus is not. Grace decays, piety languishes, and formality takes the place of the power of the Gospel, where the person and the work of Christ are slighted, undervalued, or denied. How we should pray that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb slain, who is "worthy to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing," should be more fully and simply preached through the length and breadth of our land; that the church and the pulpit should more manifestly crown him Lord of all!

Once more: Is not the doctrine of the Holy Spirit held slightly? Is he not denied in his person, dishonored in his work, wounded and grieved in his influence ? Is there not a more marked dependence on creature power than upon the power of the Spirit? Do not sermons, and books, and reports sadly forget to recognize and honor him as the grand source of all blessing? Are his power, grace, and love, in the great work of conversion, distinctly acknowledged and duly honored? That there should be no precious gales of grace, no revival of the Lord's work, no true spiritual prosperity where the Holy Spirit is not glorified, we cannot marvel. All must be cold, formal, and lifeless - that church a stagnant pool, and that ministry a powerless instrument, where the Spirit of God is slighted, wounded, or absolutely denied.

In closing, let us remark, that, living as we do in a day of abounding error, it solemnly behooves those who believe the truth, fearlessly to maintain it. Let there be no compromise, no barter of the truth; buy it at any sacrifice of human opinion, sell it at no price whatever. " Buy the truth, and sell it not." Stand up a witness of the truth, humbly, boldly, and in the strength of the Lord, wherever his providence may place you. O consider the honor of being permitted to testify to the truth as it is in Jesus! You may be a lone, a solitary witness, yet fear not; he who is " the truth " itself says to you, as he did to the church in Philadelphia, - "You have a little strength, and have kept my word, and have not denied my name. Because you have kept the word of my patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly; hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown." Rev. iii. 10, 11

Let those who hold the truth, be careful to maintain good works, and so walk in all the holiness of the truth they profess; let them see that by no carelessness of deportment, by no want of integrity, by no neglect of the means of grace, by no exhibitions of unholy temper, by no worldly conformity, yes, by no inconsistency whatever, they bring a slur upon the holy doctrines they avowedly maintain and love; let them not be satisfied with maintaining a string of doctrines, unaccompanied with their sanctifying power: but let them see that with the truth in their judgments, they possess grace in the heart, and unspotted holiness in the life. " Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John viii 31, 32.