Personal Godliness

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Matt 22:37-40

“I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.”

Gen. 17:1




Prayer Before Meals
Spiritual Conferencing
Vain Disputings



Order of Contents

Intellectual & Theological Errors
Weak Points of the Righteous
Distinguishing Charity from Naivete
Unreasonable Patience & Righteous Anger





Durham, Margaret – ‘On Communion with Christ’  1669  11 paragraphs  being an extract from her Epistle Dedicatory to her husband, James Durham’s, Commentary on the Song of Solomon.

Lady Durham’s letter is impressive, being much more spiritually full and edifying, savoring of a rich, experiential acquaintance with the deep truths of Christ’s Word, than even the preface to the reader by the justly renowned scholar, John Owen.  In it you will find, sweetly and graphically described, Christ’s communion with His beloved people.



Alexander, Archibald

‘Love to an Unseen Savior’1863  12 pp.

‘The Nature of Vital Piety’  1843  19 pp.  being the introductory essay to Advice to a Young Christian, by J.B. Waterbury

An important work in its own right.  It begins, “True religion not only enlightens the understanding, but rectifies the affections of the heart. All genuine feelings of piety are the effects of divine truth…”

Binnie, William – ‘Personal Religion in the Psalms’, p. 218 ff.  39 pp.  being two chapters from his The Psalms: their History, Teachings and Use

Hodge, Charles

‘Let him who Boasts, Boast in the Lord’from his Commentary on 1 Corinthians, 1:26-31

‘The Nature and Necessity of a Public Profession of Religion’  HTML  Buy  from his The Way of Life, 1841

All too often Christianity is thought to be a personal opinion that one can keep to themselves and requires nothing.  Here is a Biblical corrective.  Christ said, “whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”  Mt. 10:33



Beeke, Joel – Calvin on Piety, no date, 33 pages, including a two page bibliography

Fentiman, Travis – The Most Predominate Sin of Reformed Christians  2014  6 paragraphs

Gebbie, D. Douglas – ‘The Experiemental Religion of the Westminster Standards’  2015  22 paragraphs

Rev. Gebbie has been a pastor in the Free Church of Scotland and the Presbyterian Reformed Church.

Isbell, Sherman – Recovering Experimental Religion  2009  13 pp.

Young, William – What is Experimental Religion?  2015  6 paragraphs



On Intellectual & Theological Errors


George Gillespie

Treatise of Miscellany Questions, ch. 12, ‘Whether a Sound Heart and an Unsound Head can Consist Together? and Vice Versa; or, Whether Truth and Holiness be not Insepararable Companions?’  in Works, vol. 2

“It is one of the greatest objections against the suppressing… of…  errors and schisms, ‘O,’ say they, ‘this is a persecuting of those that are godly; this is a wound to piety, and the power of godliness.’

I do not deny but there may be, and is, true piety in many who are somewhat infected with the leaven of false doctrine, and live in some erroneous opinion…

Those that are truly godly may in diverse things differ in opinion. Every error is not inconsistent with holiness, yet every error doth pro tanto [by so much], and proportionably retard, hinder, and prejudge holiness; and although the devil sow his tares among Christ’s wheat (I mean in the same persons as well as in the same church), yet who will say that a field of wheat is nothing the worse for the tares?…

And this I hold as a good rule in practical divinity… so error of judgment, if continued in, doth not only hinder growing, but makes a dangerous decreasing and falling short in true piety…

It is to be observed that sometimes the Scripture speaks of an error of the judgment concerning the faith as a fountain and cause of ungodliness, profaneness… 2 Tim. 2:16-19; Gal. 5:4; 2 Jn. 9; as contrariwise, there is a light and knowledge which preserves from sin and ungodliness, and leads the soul in ways of holiness and obedience, Ps. 9:10; 119:33-34; Jn. 17:17. If the knowledge of God, of his Christ, and of his Word, and will, and name and statutes, preserve us from sin, and lead us in the ways of obedience, then, by the rule of contraries, error of judgment in these things will ensnare us in sin and wickedness.”


Francis Turretin

Institutes  (P&R), vol. 3, 19th Topic, Q. 30, ‘The Adoration of the Eucharist’, section 21, p. 547

“Therefore, although the Romanists in their hypothesis [about Transubstantiation] do not intend to worship the bread, but Christ (whom they believe to be there in place of the bread), they are not on that account the less to be considered as really adoring the bread.

This false hypothesis and erroneous intention arises from an induced and voluntary ignorance, which so far from being worthy of excuse only increases the guilt.  It is not occupied with a thing not revealed and which they are not bound to know, but about a thing which it is their duty to know and which is with sufficient clearness revealed to us in the word.  Thus it can readily be perceived unless we are readily blind.

Nor can the crime be lessened from its seeming to be only a theoretical error of the intellect.  A theoretical error necessarily draws after it a practical sin; otherwise every idolatry (even the most gross) would deserve an excuse because it arises always from a theoretical error of the intellect.  For no one would worship an idol, who did not believe it to be God, unless he imagined him to be present.”



Shedd, William G.T.

‘Sin in the Heart the Source of Error in the Head’  in Sermons to the Natural Man, pp. 101-122

‘Pride Vitiates Religious Knowledge’  in Sermons to the Spiritual Man, pp. 272-85  on 1 Cor. 8:2, “If any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.”



On the Weak Points of the Righteous

Edmund Burke

Thoughts on the Prospect of a Regicide Peace: in a Series of Letters  (London, 1796), Letter 1, p. 19

“…the desire of peace is essentially the weak side of that kind of men.  All men that are ruined, are ruined on the side of their natural propensities.  There they are unguarded.  Above all, good men do not suspect that their destruction is attempted through their virtues.

This their enemies are perfectly aware of: and accordingly, they, the most turbulent of mankind, who never made a scruple to shake the tranquility of their country to its center, raise a continual cry for peace…”



On Distinguishing Charity from Naivete

“[Charity]…  is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;”

1 Cor. 13:5-6



Rev. Michael Spangler

“Charity vs. Naivete.  Some important distinctions:

1. Charity inteprets evidence of good as proof of good, and lack of evidence as reason to withhold judgment. Naivete interprets evidence of evil, or lack of evidence, as proof of good.

2. Charity remembers all men lie, and so quietly verifies all things it hears. Naivete trusts certain men implicitly.

3. Charity remembers all men sin, and covers sin in love by forgiveness and meek dealing. Naivete assumes some men don’t sin, or don’t sin much, then struggles to forgive when that assumption is disproved.

4. Charity knows forgiveness does not itself bring restored trust. Naivete quickly puts its foot back in the snare.

5. Charity overlooks evil insofar as it would cause anxiety or unjust anger. Naivete overlooks evil insofar as it calls for exposure or rebuke.

6. Charity bears long with inconsistent godly men while still standing firm against their sins and errors. Naivete thinks orthodoxy in the basics excuses falsehood in other doctrines, or sins in life.

7. Charity waits to judge motives until they are revealed. Naivete assumes good motives when there is no evidence, or the evidence shows otherwise.

8. Charity knows great evils are often done with good intent. Naivete thinks well-meaning men will never cause much harm.

9. Charity knows baptism, church membership, profession, and even ordination vows exempt no one from error, evil, and apostasy. Naivete thinks outward signs suffice for proving character and orthodoxy, or at the least, assuming them.


“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

Matthew 10:16″



On Unreasonable Patience & Righteous Anger

John Chrysostom

“He who is not angry, whereas he has cause to be, sins.  For unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices, it fosters negligence, and incites not only the wicked but the good to do wrong.”



Latin Articles


Voet, Gisbert – 33. ‘Of the Practice of Faith’  in Select Theological Disputations  (Utrecht: Waesberg, 1655), vol. 2, pp. 496-511

Leydekker, Melchior – ‘An Inaugural Oration on Eagerly Pursuing the Truth in Love’  appended at the end of The Power of Truth, or Disquisitions on Some Controversies which are now Greatly Moved in Belgium, on the Economy of the Covenants of God…  (Utrecht, 1679)

Leydekker, a Dutch reformed theologian, wrote numerous volumes elucidating the theological controversies in the Netherlands, yet while arguing against the Cocceians at each point.




Related Pages

Sealing of the Spirit