Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chapter 3 quotes from Personal Declension

Here are some quotes from chapter 3 of Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul (Winslow, Octavius. Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul. 5th ed. London: John Farquhar Shaw, 1853 )

Yet another character: he is a traveler to eternity, and every step is conducting him towards the close of a brief but responsible probation. Now, if in his religion he commences with unsound, unwarrantable, unscriptural views of any essential doctrine of salvation, the error with which he commenced must affect his entire religion; and unless his steps are retraced, and the error discovered and corrected, the end must prove fatal to his eternal happiness. (99-100)

We maintain that every faculty of the human mind is brought out in its full power, in the great work of heart-religion; that the Holy Spirit, working repentance and faith in man, does more to develop the intellectual faculties, than all human teaching beside. (100)

No mind is so powerful as a renewed and sanctified mind. (102)

This, reader, is faith; faith, that wondrous grace, that mighty act of which you have heard so much, upon which so many volumes have been written, and so many sermons have been preached; it is the simple rolling of a wounded, bleeding heart, upon a wounded, bleeding Savior; it is the simple reception of the amazing truth, that Jesus died for the ungodly - died for sinners - died for the poor, the vile, the bankrupt; that he invites and welcomes to his bosom all poor, convinced, heavy-laden sinners. The heart, believing this wondrous announcement, going out of all other dependencies and resting only in this, - receiving it, welcoming it, rejoicing in it, in a moment, all, is peace. Do not forget, then reader, the simple definition of faith, - it is but to believe with all the heart that Jesus died for sinners; and the full belief of this one fact will bring peace to the most anxious and sin-troubled soul. (104)

The life of faith:
  1. There is its security: a believer stands by faith, - "You stands by faith (Rom 11:20)."
  2. There is, too, the peculiar blessedness of the life of faith: "We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7)."
  3. Faith is an essential part of the spiritual armor: "Above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked (Eph 6:16)."
  4. Faith is a purifying grace: "Purifying their hearts by faith (Acts 15:9)," "Sanctified by faith that is in me (26:18)."
  5. This, too, is the grace that smooths the rugged way, lightens the daily burden, "glorifies God in the fire;" is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen;" rests upon God's word because he has said it; and keeps the soul, through all its conflicts and trials, safe unto eternal glory: "Kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation." (105-110)

Permit us to adduce a few causes to which a feeble and declining faith may frequently be traced.
  1. When a believer's visits to his closet grow less frequent and spiritual, faith will assuredly decline.
  2. Dealing much with a life of sense, is a most influential cause of declension in faith.
  3. Faith unexercised in dark and afflictive providences, leads greatly to its declension.
  4. The habitual, or even the occasional, doubtful apprehension indulged in of his interest in Christ, will tend materially to the enfeebling and decay of a believer's faith: no cause can be more certain in its effects than this.
  5. Nor must we forbear to specify, as among the most fruitful causes of a declension of faith, the power of unsubdued sin in the heart: nothing, perhaps, more secretly and effectually militates against the vigor of a life of faith than this.
  6. A looking off of Christ will tend greatly to the weakening and unfruitfulness of faith. (113-123)

Prayer is the channel that supplies faith with its nourishment and vigor. As well might we cut off all the rills and streams which flow down the mountain's side, and expect that the valleys beneath will present their enameled and verdant aspect, as to close up the channel of prayer, and then look for a healthy, vigorous, and growing faith. There is a beautiful connection between faith and prayer, - their influence is reciprocal: constant and ardent prayer strengthens faith, and faith, brought into exercise, stimulates to prayer. A praying man will be a believing man, and a man of faith will be a man of prayer. (114)

If it be true, as we have shown, that the exercise of faith develops its strength, it is equally true, that the perpetual indulgence of doubtful apprehensions of pardon and acceptance, must necessarily eat as a cankerworm at the root of faith. Every misgiving felt, every doubt cherished, ever fear yielded to, every dark providence brooded over, tends to unhinge the soul from God, and dims its near and loving view of Jesus. To doubt the love, the wisdom, and the faithfulness of God; to doubt the perfection of the work of Christ; to doubt the operation of the Spirit on the heart, - what can tend more to the weakening and decay of this precious and costly grace? Every time the soul sinks under the pressure of a doubt of its interest in Christ, the effect must be a weakening of the soul's view of the glory, perfection, and all-sufficiency of Christ's work. (119)

We look for the fruit of faith, - the lowly, humble, contrite spirit - the tender conscience - the traveling daily to the atoning blood - the living upon the grace that is in Christ Jesus - the carrying out of Christian principle - crucifixion to the world - patient submission to a life of suffering - meek resignation to a Father's discipline - a living as beholding Him who is invisible - a constant and vivid realization of eternal realities, - we look for these fruits of faith; but we find them not. And why ? because there is the worm of unmortified sin feeding at the root; and until that is slain, faith will always be sickly, unfruitful, and "ready to die." (123)

It only remains for us to show in what way the Holy Spirit revives, strengthens, and increases the declining grace of faith.
  1. And this he does, in the first place, by discovering to the believer the cause of its declension, and setting him upon, and strengthening him in, the work of its removal.
  2. A further step by which the Holy Spirit revives the decaying faith of the believer is, by leading him to rest more simply on the faithfulness of God. (124-131)

Nothing perhaps more tends to unhinge the soul from God, engender distrust, hard thoughts, and rebellious feelings, than thus to doubt his loving-kindness and faithfulness in the discipline he is pleased to send. But faith, looking through the dark cloud, rising on the mountain wave, and anchoring itself on the Divine veracity, and the unchangeable love of God, is sure to strengthen and increase by every storm that beats upon it. (127)

And then to remember, that the unbelief of the believer never affects the faithfulness of God! (131)

The work of Christ is a great and finished work; it is so glorious that it can admit of no comparison, so complete that it can allow of no addition, and so essential that it can give place to no substitution. (138)

Then make not a Savior of your faith; despise it not if it is feeble, exult not in it if it is strong, trample not on it if it is small, deify it not if it is great; such are the extremes to which every believer is exposed. (139)

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