William Styles, A Guide To Church Fellowship (Complete)

Article 28 – Churches Should Conserve And Circulate The Truth

Articles Of The Faith And Order Of A Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptist Church Of The Lord Jesus Christ, Based On The Declaration Of Faith And Practice Of John Gill, D. D., 1720

XXVIII. Churches should Conserve and Circulate the Truth.

We believe that it is incumbent on every Church as such, and upon each of its members individually, to maintain, contend for, aud disseminate the truth of God,[] both as it concerns all men as sinners,[2] and the children of God as His peculiar and privileged people,[3] and we consider ourselves bound to promote and engage in the circulation of the Scriptures, the moral and religious instruction of children, and the preaching of the Gospel to every creature, in the prayerful hope that all may be benefited,[4] and God’s elect made “wise unto salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus.”[5]


[1] Prov 23:23; Eph 4:15; Phil 1:7,17,27; 2:16; 1 Thess 1:8; 1 Tim 1:19; 3:15; 2 Tim 1:13; 3 Jn 8; Jude 3

[2] Prov 10:11; Acts 20:20,31; Phil 3:18,19; Col 4:5; 1 Thess 5:14,15; 2 Tim 2:25

[3] Acts 18:26; Gal 5:1; Phil 2:16; Tit 3:8

[4] Gen 18:19; Ex 12:26,27; Deut 6:7; Ps 34:11; Prov 22:6; Ecc 11:9, making no break to 12:7; Mk 16:15; Lk 18:16; Acts 11:19,20 and 20:21; Gal 6:6; Phil 1:15-18; Col 1:23,28; 2 Tim 2:25; 3:15 and 4:17

[5] Dan 12:3; 1 Cor 3:5; 2 Thess 2:13; 2 Tim 3:15


Note 1.—Strict and Particular Baptists are often ridiculed for speaking much of “The Truth,” as if it were a cant phrase originated by them. It is, however, largely used in the Bible to express the doctrines of the Gospel, (Gal. 3:1)—the sum of the teachings of Holy Writ as embodied and exemplified in the person, character, and work of Him who is “the Truth,” (Jno. 14:6; Eph. 4:21.)

God’s people “seek the Truth,” (Jer. 5:1,) and “buy the Truth,” (Prov. 23:23.) The Holy Spirit guides them “into all the Truth,” (R.V. Jno. 16:13.) Hence they “know the Truth,” (Jno. 8:32, and 1 Jno. 2:21.) They love it, in contrast to them that “perish, because (having heard the Gospel) they received not the love of the Truth, that they might be saved,” (2 Thess. 2:10.)

Hence, “they can do nothing against the Truth, but [are anxious to do all in their power] for the Truth,” (2 Cor. 13:8.) The grace of love inspires them to “rejoice with the Truth,” (R.V. 1 Cor. 13:6.) “For the Truth’s sake” (2 Jno. 2) was the watchword of martyrs, confessors, reformers, and the ejected Two Thousand of 1662. For “the Truth’s sake” compels Strict and Particular Baptists to maintain their position of isolation from other sections of the Church.

The Truth to he Conserved by the Churches.

Note 2.—“The Truth” is assailed by many, and from many quarters. Godless men “resist” it, (2 Tim. 3:8.) Infidels hate it. The “Higher Critics” so tamper with the Bible as to induce doubt as to its authenticity. Arminians subtly explain away many explicit texts.

Backsliders “err from [the profession and practice of] the Truth,” (Jas. 5:19.) Apostates “sin wilfully after they have received the knowledge of the Truth,” (Heb. 10:26.)

Christian Churches therefore should “conserve the Truth.”

A Pillar and a Ground of the Truth. 1 Tim 3:14,15. An Exposition.

“These things write I,”……that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to conduct thyself[1] in a (not the) House of God, which is a (not the) Church of the living God.” The original expresses by “a house” and “a Church” a local assembly, and not all the Christians on earth collectively considered, elsewhere called “the Church of God,” as distinguished from Jews and unconverted Gentiles. (1 Cor. 10:32.)

“A Church of the living God” is “a (not the) pillar of and a (not the) ground (base or foundation) of the Truth.”

The conduct of Timothy in relation to His own Church was therefore to be regulated by three considerations:

(1) A Church is a house or dwelling-place of the living God, and

(2) A pillar and ground of the Truth. The Bible mentions two kinds of pillars, supporting and testifying. The former sustained the roofs of edifices, and hence the term is metaphorically applied to persons of influence and eminence, (Jud. 16:25; Jer. 1:18; Gal. 2:9.) The latter were columns raised and maintained in memory of distinguished persons or events. The word “monuments” or “obelisks” might better represent them to English readers. (Gen. 28:18 and 35:20 and Josh. 24:26; 2 Sam. 18:18;) and see Article on Pillar in Eadie’a Biblical Cyclopaedia.[2] The reference here is to a Pillar of Witness. Every “Church of the living God” was originated and is perpetuated to conserve and display Evangelical truth, (Isa. 43:10,12, and 44:8.)

A Gospel Church is also a ground (or basis) of the Truth. This refers to the underground foundation on which a pillar or obelisk rests. On such bases or stays inscriptions were also engraved, (2 Tim. 2:19, where for “seal” sfragida, read “in­ scription.”) This corresponded with what was displayed on the column, and was designed to presorve the record should the obelisk itself be mutilated.

William Palmer’s Corroboration.

“A Gospel Church is therefore called a ‘pillar and ground of the Truth ’—not that it gives authority to the Truth, or forms the foundation on which it rests; but the Churches are appointed to maintain and exhibit it. To them the Oracles of God have been committed, and by their means the existence of the Scriptures has been preserved, their purity protected, and their circulation promoted. Among Christians this precious gift of Heaven is lodged, like the Ark in the Temple, as its consecrated depository; and to guard and defend it, with all that jealous watchfulness exercised by the Jews over the Ark of God, is the high imperative duty of every Church. If the oracles of Christ, comprehending the whole of His Laws and Ordinances, are to be exhibited by each Church like inscriptions on a monumental pillar, the Ordinances as well as the Doctrines, the precepts as well as the promises, must be held up to observation.”—Free Communion Examined, page 52.

The Mission of the Churches.

This, though differing from the popular interpretation, strictly accords with the tenor of the New Testament. The expositions of some Protestants dangerously resemble the Romish doctrine that “the complete rule of Faith and Practice consists of Scripture and Tradition (or the oral teaching of Christ and His apostles) handed down through the Church, which is the divinely constituted depository of saving truth and the Judge of the meaning of Scripture and the validity of tradition.”

So far from Churches being supporting pillars or sustaining bases to the Truth, the opposite is the fact. They depend on the being and the nature of God; His saving actions towards His chosen, blood-bought and heaven-born people, and the revelations He has made of these; not on the characters and conduct of those that receive it. The doctrines of grace would have been true though Augustine and Calvin had not lived; and Popery a lie had Luther never resisted it. Churches have to testify to unalterable facts and irrevocable laws, and to denounce God-dishonouring errors.

Churches should Conserve the Truth.

An obelisk by the way-side preserves the inscription which long since was engraved in the stone, and which abides as a record of what it was designed to perpetuate. So a Church contains and retains the truth of God, not in letter only, as in the Bible, but in the living experience of those who feel its power and preciousness.

This it does by admitting none but sound preachers to the pulpit, (Rev. 2:6,15;) by listening with reverence to their messages (2 Cor. 7:13,15;) by duly keeping the Ordinances (1 Cor. 11:2;) by displaying mutual love and benevolence, (Jno. 13:35); by walking “in wisdom towards them that are without,” (Col. 4:5;) and by their visible union in the things and ways of God, (Jno. 17:23.)

A Church is also a base (or ground) of the Truth. In times of persecution Christians are not able to give public testimony to their convictions. Then, like the underlying foundation, they preserve the truth, which is kept in memory by their worship and testimony, until they can again witness before men.

It may also refer to that inner and secret experience of all true Church Members, which is the essential basis of their open testimony. What they have been taught in their souls is the foundation of their profession. “Beware,” said J. N. Darby, the Plymouth Brother, “of unfelt Truth.” “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord,” (Prov. 16:1.) John Hazolton was wont, once a year, and in a most solemn and impressive manner, to read to the Members “The Articles of Faith” which the Church had adopted—thus bringing their distinctive principles to the recollection of all present.

Churches should Display the Truth.

The inscription on a pillar or obelisk was designed to be seen by all. So the great mission of every Church is to extend the Truth, for the purposes stated in this Article.

In the true spirit of Protestantism,[2] it should testify to the Truth; in the true spirit of Evangelicism, it should carry the Truth abroad and vocalise it with clearness and urgency, “whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear,” (Ezek. 2:5.)

Hence “we are not only to guard the Gospel, but to give it: not only to define, but to diffuse it: not only to protect it, but to propagate it. We must sow as well as sift, and distribute as well as divide…….“We are to be rivers as well as reservoirs, and should fertilise as well as fence.”—William Palmer.

Churches should Extend the Circulation of the Bible.

Note 3.—This needs no proof; but the obligation should be more fully realised. It is a boon in every household, and certain to prove a pioneer of blessing. Popular tracts are often unre­ liable; religious magazines, not unfrequently, worse. The Bible is God’s own instrument for God’s own work, and Gospel Churches should devote money and energy towards placing it in the hands of all.

‘‘’The [British and Foreign] Bible Society’—with all my heart (and with a hundred hearts if I had them)—I bid it ‘God-speed.’ I think it one of the best existing Societies—its object being to send this unspeakably precious Book, the word of the Lord Jesus Christ, into all the world.”—John Hazelton.

Churches holding the Truth should give Religious Instruction to Children.

Note 4,—An important branch of Church duty is the maintenance of Sunday Schools.

These are not, indeed, essential to the existence or validity of Churches,—or assemblies that had none, would not be Churches. The Church is, however, essential to the School,[4] which should be the outgrowth of the spiritual life, intelligence and zeal of its Members, whose sanction should be obtained for all its proceedings. Schism between Churches and their Schools has led to untold mischief.

Sunday Schools are Authorised by the Bible.

Note 5.—God’s Ancient People were enjoined to instruct their children in the meaning of the Pascal service, (Ex. 12:26,27,) and to warn them not to serve other gods, (Deut. 11:19.)

David, when in the Cave Adullam, summoned the children of his heterogeneous company to “hearken unto him,” that he might “teach” them “the fear of the Lord,”[5] (Psa. 34)

Timothy owed his advantageous acquaintance with the letter and meaning of the Old Testament to the instruction of his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice, when but a child, (2 Tim. 1:5, and 3:15.)

The Christian parents at Tyre brought their wives and children to hid farewell to Paul, probably to hear his final words of counsel and benediction (Acts 21:5;) while Jesus said: “Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto Me,” (Matt. 19:14; see page 172.) These passages afford ample proof that God sanctions religious solicitude for the young.

(1) Sunday Schools should impart that branch of “the Truth” styled Moral Instruction. The teaching of much of the Bible concerns human duty, rather than religion, distinctly considered, and addresses men as having more or less natural ability to distinguish right from wrong. Virtue is commended, vice denounced. In such passages, appeal is made to the Conscience or moral sense.

This important department of “the Truth” is often over­ looked. The Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are, however, as much given by inspiration of God as Isaiah, or the Epistle to the Romans. Conscience in children is more susceptible to influence than in adults. Such topics as truthfulness, honesty, sobriety and temperance, kindness, consideration for dumb creatures, obedience to parents, avoiding bad companions, diligence and its promised reward, the brevity of life, etc., should therefore frequently be made the subjects of earnest appeal.

With the blessing of God such teaching may lead to the arousing of Conscience and conviction of sin, and so bring children to see their need of the mercy extended to sinners through Christ Jesus.

(2) The same truths should he enforced in our Schools as are proclaimed from our pulpits. The doctrines of this book, if simply taught, lucidly illustrated, and lovingly urged, can be made as attractive to children as Arminianism or Fuller- ism. Many Sunday Schools are hotbeds of heresy, yet wonder is expressed that our young leave us for the World or other sects, as they grow up.

Our scholars should be encouraged to attend the Sunday morning service. Ministers have then an opportunity to devote “five minutes to the little ones,” some displaying rare ability in so doing.

(3) Should Church Members only teach in our Sunday Schools? This is a moot point. “If you ask me, I answer, ‘Teach what?’ You reply, ‘The way of salvation.’ I enquire, ‘How can this be taught by those that do not know it? Can one who is ignorant of geometry instruct others in this science?’ Paul never requests unconverted men to aid him in his Apostolic work.

You argue that those who commence the work in an unconverted state may themselves find salvation. This would be an experiment, and all experiments are attended with more or less risk. You would not engage a rogue to teach your children honesty, hoping that he might thus become conscientious, or an unskilled man to teach music, with the idea that he might himself thus acquire the art.

The School exists for the scholars. How, then, can their benefit be secured, if under the instruction of persons who have not ‘passed from death unto life ’ and known Jesus after the Spirit? If the teachers receive profit, the scholars may be injured by receiving wrong ideas of religion. No one shivering on the slopes of Sinai can tinfold the sweet mystery and grace of Calvary.

Looking at the question all round, I conclude that those only who know Christ can teach Christ, and that the School had better be taught by one person who loves Jesus, than by a thousand who have only heard of Him.” — Abridged from Joseph Parker, D.D.

Whether the matter, here so forcibly, is as fully considered, all must determine for themselves.

Christian prudence certainly demands that the number of the children received should be in proportion to the number of gracious and competent teaohers. It is folly to invite more guests than the food provided will satisfy. The pride of the numerical extension of our Schools has led to many evils, among them being the indisputable fact that unsound persons are often added to the staff of teachers—just to keep the concern going. A small School with holy and truth-loving teachers is by far the best. “Home-grown teachers are of all to be preferred.”—John Hazelton. Born again, baptised and trained among ourselves, there is strong probability that they will continue in living and loving touch with the principles and agencies of the Church.

(4) The Sabbath School in connection with the Church of Christ meeting for Divine Worship in Soho Chapel has a printed pamphlet of eight pages containing their Articles of Faith, and the Rules which their teachers must follow. This is handed to all who desire to become their stated co-workers, whose assent and consent must be signified before their election at a Teachers’ Meeting. The Articles are a careful abridgment of those of the Church, Their example, although unique, is worthy of universal adoption.

Churches should Promote and Aid the Preaching of the Gospel to Every Creature.

Note 6.—While others go abroad and vocalise “the Truth,” all Churches should take their share in their maintenance. Christian Missions need no present advocacy. If the Holy Ghost has “called,” and their own Church (as at Antioch) has “separated” men to this work (Acts 13:2,) other Churches (home claims being first considered)[6] are grievously in the wrong in withholding their sympathy, supplications, and support.

All Benefited—the Elect Saved.

Note 7.-—The proclamation of “the Truth” concerning God’s way of grace and peace invariably proves a benefit to men. Error is abandoned, society is purified, woman is reinstated in her true position, and children receive humane consideration, where “the Gospel wins its widening way.”

A so-called Gospel which does not accord with the Divine Word never fails to work mischief. Universal invitations, creature threatening and urging, and misrepresentations of human duty and ability in relation to God, must do moral evil, while they profit none (pages 59-90, 233, 234.) Yea-and-nay preachers “hurry the goats and worry the sheep,” but benefit neither.

“It is an indubitable fact that the Truth is evermore consistent with itself”—John Stevens; and a religious message, one part of which asserts what another part denies, cannot be wholly true. The affirmations or the contradictions must he lies; and “no lie is of the truth,” (1 Jno. 2:21, and page 31.) He that delivers such a message as if it were the Gospel, virtually gives the lie to God, from whom he professes to have received it. He may, indeed, tabulate many so-called conversions, but cannot fail to affront the understanding of thoughtful men, and so injure their souls.

A contradictory Gospel must emanate from a contradictory God, and Reason revolts and Faith recoils at the idea of trusting such a Being. This may account for the many who, having received such teaching, become sceptics and atheists.

Let all who preach “the Truth” take comfort from the assurance that they deliver messages which must do moral good, as well as further the accomplishment of God’s purposes of grace, “His word shall not return unto Him void,” (Isa. 55:11.) None can be injured, reformation may be effected, while the elect will be experimentally saved, when in “the time of love” the Gospel “comes to them in power and in the Holy Ghost,” (1 Thess. 1:4,5.) Our very next sermon may he the means of salvation to a chosen sinner. God will bring as many to hear us as He means to bless, and His promise warrants the “hope” mentioned in our Article.

Our desires for success in winning souls are limited to the chosen of God. We loathe such expressions as “The world for Jesns,” or “London for Christ.” The Gospel is to be preached—not with the vague and vain wish of saving all men;—but is to be proclaimed “in the whole inhabited earth, for a testimony unto all the nations.” (Matt. 24:14, R.V.) A saved World is a delusion; a saved Church is a certainty.

The salvation of His elect people (pp. 28, 29 & 44.) is satisfactory to tbe Lord. It is God’s pleasure, and His pleasure. (Isa. 52:10, 11.) The lines (of eternal purpose which mark off his people) are fallen unto Him in places which He regards as pleasant, (Psa. 16:6.) He prayed “not for the world, but for them which had been given Him,” (Jno. 17:9.)

Peter’s Pentecostal sermon limited “the promise” to as many as the Lord God should call,” (Acts 2:39.)

Paul became “all things to all men,” that he might, by all means, save (not ‘all’) but some,” (1 Cor. 9:22.) He “endured all things for the sake of God’s elect, that they also (as well as those who were then believers) might obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory,” (2 Tim. 2:10.)

Thus, while with Paul, every preacher trusts, by the manifestation of “the Truth to commend himself to every man’s conscience, in the sight of God,” (2 Cor. 4:2,) he also hopes to prove a tongue unto the Holy Ghost, and so to vocalise the Gospel that the Lord’s hidden ones may, through him, be “called out of darkness into His marvellous light,” (1 Pet. 2:9.)

Evangelical messages which honestly portray men as dark, (Eph. 5:8;) deceived, (2 Tim. 2:26;)’ defiled, (Tit. 1:15;) depraved, (Rom. 3:12,13;) doomed, (John 3:15) domineered over by Satan, (Eph. 2:2;) dead, legally and spiritually, (Eph. 2:1;)’ and soon to die naturally, and after death to meet God in judgment, (Job 14:1, and Heb. 9:27,) must awaken Conscience and invoke solemn inquiry.

“When men believe that Christ died for His elect [only] they begin questioning, ‘Did He die for me?’ but when told that there is salvation for all, they say, ‘Then I may sit still and fold my arms;’ and so they go onwards to hell, procrastinating.”—Joseph Irons.

The Truth cannot do harm. “Gospel hardened” is a detestable phrase. Men’s hearts are naturally callous, a callousness which is increased by the “deceitfulness of sin,” (Heb. 3:13, 1 Tim. 4:2.) All will remain whither the Fall left them, and their sins have brought them, unless sovereign grace arrest them. “No doctrine of the Gospel is, therefore, to be concealed. God’s truth is a harmonious whole, and Divinely adapted to benefit mankind.”—John Hazelton.

The Truth to be Presented to Anxious Inquirers.

Note 8.—The Inquirers intended, are chosen and redeemed sinners, who have received spiritual life, and are concerned to “know the way of salvation,” (Acts 16:17.) “What must I do to be saved?” is their cry—not, as often quoted, “What shall I do?” but, literally, “What is it needful for me to do in order that I might be saved?” (Acts 16) The burden of an urgent and insupportable need weighed on the jailor’s heart. His character and circumstances rendered it imperative that something should be done. Information on the point, he now requested.

True ministers of Jesus Christ are solemnly solicitous to divide the word of the Truth rightly (2 Tim. 2:15,) and to give to every one “his portion of food in due season,” (Luke 12:42, R.V.) They therefore seek to set the Truth be­ fore those who are seeking Jesus, in an appropriate form and way, so that “the lambs may feed after their manner,” (Isa. 5:17.)

Nothing but the Truth can profit a person under religious concern. Gospel lies or half-lies must bewilder him. Some, with the idea of accelerating God’s work in the soul, misquote texts, make unscriptural assertions, and give assurances which their own experience falsifies. (Pages 31, 32.)

“Guides cry, ‘Lo here! Lo there! on this, on that side keep.’ Some over-drive; some frighten back; and others lull to sleep.”

(1) Arminianism and Fullerism should be eschewed. Much so-called “simple Gospel preaching” flatly contra­dicts Articles VI., pages 4 and 38; and X., XL and XII., pages 6, 7, and 56-90.)

The alleged greater success of erroneous preachers should not discourage men of sterling truth. Some who have been in the secret could tell strange tales concerning many recorded conversions. It were better to suffer our fellow-sinners to remain as they are than to urge them by spurious Faith to ob­ tain a worthless religion, in which they will be “twice dead”—in trespasses and sins and in a dead profession—(Jude 12,) and finally be consigned to hell, after they “have come, and gone from the place of the holy,” as formal worshippers all their days, (Eccl. 8:10.)

The popular idea that, even if people are not saved, “moral good is often effected” by these means is a delusion. Professing what one does not possess, is not moral amendment, but pursuing a most mischievous and wicked course.

(2) Sound doctrine should be urged upon the attention of anxious sinners. “That the soul be without knowledge is not good” (Prov. 19:2,) while accurate information on the teachings of the Bible is always helpful. “Dry doctrines will not save them,” but acquaintance with the facts on which Faith relies is essential to its exercise. “So then belief [cometh] of hearing [or what is heard,] RV. and what is heard [is] through the word (or doctrine) of God,” (Rom. 10:17; page 75.)

(3) Definitions are of service. Words are used in religious literature in a sense different from their ordinary signification. To explain such, to paraphrase long terms by expressing their meaning in simple and familiar words, is materially to aid the Truth. What is unintelligible to the mind can never profit the heart.

(4) Distinctions should be made evident, and differences noted. Broad lines of demarcation should be drawn between Justification and Sanctification; the Ground and the Warrant of Faith; soul (or the sentient and intelligent principle in natural men) and spirit (the principle infused into God’s people by regenerating grace;)[7] the “howl” of affrighted nature (Hos. 7:14), and the cry or sigh of true penitence; the three purgings of the Gospel; pharisaic zeal and evangelical activity; Christian liberty and Antinomian licence; the natural and spiritual paternity of God; the conduct of Jehovah in His rectoral character toward all men as a Moral Governor, and His gracious conduct towards His people as their Heavenly Father; the fear that hath torment, and the gracious fear implanted in the hearts of God’s children; and the temporal and eternal consequences of sin, both as regards men of the world and God’s people.

These and kindred topics, which are so plain to well-instructed saints, are often “stumbling-blocks ” (Isa. 57:14) in the way of an Anxious Inquirer. To take these up out of his way is a gracious ministry.

Some shudder to think that they may have committed “the sin against the Holy Ghost.” This phrase is not to be found in the Bible, which mentions only “blasphemy,” or a “speaking against the Holy Ghost,’’ a distinct, definite act, in which the lips, in express words, defame His person, defy His power, and denounce His operations as diabolic, (Matt. 12:31,32.) None can have done this without remembering it.

Trembling sinners sometimes fear that they have sinned away their day of grace others that they have “resisted the Spirit’s strivings,” and that He has left them, never to return.

“The Truth” intelligently presented is adapted to remove such impressions as these by correct views of the certainty, free­ ness and fulness of sovereign grace.

(5) The Anxious may be helped by delineations or Scriptural descriptions of those who have a right to the explicit encour­ agements of the Gospel. Such as are born anew need “the sincere milk of the Word,” (1 Pet. 2:2.) Their wishes to be right with God, though feeble, are sincere. They groan, sigh, cry and call upon God. When vocal prayer is impossible, they appeal by the upturned glance of the tear-dimmed eye, or the nervous sign of the empty, trembling hand. Though not what they would be, they hope that, by the grace of God, they are what they are. The result of the Holy Spirit’s operations in the soul is always to make Christ desirable and attractive, and these always inquire for Him. They are drawn to God’s people, yet are often afraid to speak to them. Their desires exceed their ability, and they would but cannot feel and act as their hearts prompt them. Often rebuffed, they never go wholly back.

The true preacher should present their photographs as taken in the light of “the Truth” to the Anxious Inquirer, and encourage the weary and wanting sinner to pray:—

“Let save a trembling sinner, Lord,

Whose hope, still hovering round Thy Word, 

Would light on some sweet promise there. 

Some sure support against despair.”

(6) Lastly, to anxious inquirers the most definite directions should be given.

Sin must be abandoned. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts,” etc., (Isa. 55:7.) “Cease to do evil, learn to do-well,” (Isa. 1:16,17.) “Depart from evil, and do good: seek peace, and pursue it,” (Psa. 34:14.) “If I regard iniquity in my heart”—if I contemplate the iniquity which is in my heart with complacency—“the Lord will not hear me,” (Psa. 66:18.) Repentance, sincere and practical, in the order of ordinary experience precedes Faith.

Morality, as a ground of hope, must be renounced. The invitations of the Gospel are addressed to those only who take the lost sinners’ place before the lost sinners Saviour. “Works done before the grace of Christ and the inspiration of His Spirit, are not pleasant to God; . . . yea rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.” —Articles of the Church of England, No. XIII.

Faith in Jesus Christ is to be preached as the only way in which pardon and peace can be realised. Credence in the Gospel—an unaffected and informal Coming to Jesus and expressing one’s fears, feelings and desires in the best manner we can, and confidence in Him as mighty to save—should be urged on the anxious.

Divine Sovereignty must have reverent and humble submission. God’s prerogative is to show mercy to whom He wills, in His own manner, by His own chosen instrumentality, and in His own time. He cannot be hindered; He will not be hurried. God never owns error, but the Holy Spirit invariably rides in the chariot of “the Truth.” Therefore:—

“Leprous soul, press through the crowd, in thy foul condition; 

Struggle hard and call aloud on the great Physician;

Wait till thy disease He cleanse, begging, trusting, cleaving; 

When, and where, and by what means, to His pleasure leaving.”

A Gospel Church, A Unity

Note 9.—We have thus considered the Obligations and Duties of Church Members. As individuals, we are saved to the praise and glory of sovereign grace.” (Eph. 1:6 and 12) Our association in our Church life is for the purposes that have been specified.

Differing in age, capacity, character, and social position,— the members of a Church are one, forming a testifying Pillar to retain and display the truth of God. The letters engraved on the visible monument constitute one Declaration. The chiselled words on the buried foundation retain one testimony—and a Church exists as a body of witnesses to the truth, in accordance with which each member has been saved. The person­ ality of each is merged into the ministry of all as an incorporated whole. The Minister oversees and pastorises; the Deacons serve; the Sunday School extends its care to the young; the Members fill their places, and do what good they can,—with a harmonious and generous regard for the well­ being of all the rest.

“So we who are many, are one Body in Christ, and severally members one of another,” (Rom. 12:5. R.V.); and should, therefore, act as the following verses enjoin.

The New Testament never presents religion as something supplementary to our ordinary life, but as a principle permeating and actuating all conduct. Our character and profession as Church members cannot be dropped and resumed at will—we either contribute to the glory of God in “whatsoever we do,” (1 Cor. 10:31.) or are “a comfort unto Sodom,” (Ezek. 16:54,) giving our sanction and support to the principles and practices of God’s avowed enemies. (James 4:4.)

Respect and deference are therefore due to the Church to which we belong aa such. This was solemnly recognised by the Free Churches of former days. No young man, for in­ stance, dreamed of preaching, apart from the sanction and approval of those with whom he was in fellowship, before whom he privately exercised his gift; nor would other Churches admit such to their pulpits without letters of commendation from those who were thus competent and authorised to certify, that he loved the truth, and possessed ability to vocalise it for the edification of others.

Yet we hear of some supplying our pulpits who belong to no Church at all—leaving one great duty uufulfilled, while they presume to instruct others in all branches of Christian duty.[8] (Page 211, on the Sequence of Duties.)

It therefore becomes the reader (if he belongs “to a House of God,” “a Church of the living God,”) to enquire whether he personally maintains and “earnestly contends for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints,” (Jude 3,) and is thus a visible letter contributing to form the inscription on this “Pillar of the Truth.”

Those for whose use this Guide has been prepared are begged to refrain from joining a Church until they have fully weighed the consequences involved, and are prepared (by God’s grace) to take their cross and follow their Master in what surely awaits them as Members of a Church connected with the Sect so universally “spoken against.”


[1] Or “How [Christian] men ought to behave [or conduct] themselves,” etc.; R.V.—which would strengthen our position— but the emendation is doubtful.

[2] The obelisks in London, the monuments to Gray at Stoke-Pogis, and Beckford at Bath, and Cleopatra’s Needle, are instances of the columns of which Paul thought when he penned the word “pillar” (stulos) above. Gen. 19:26. Lot’s wife “became a pillar of salt,” “stele halos,” Septuagint. Not only was she punished for her sin by death, but her body was encrusted with bitumen, and became a perpetual and conspicuous monument of God’s displeasure with her sin.

[3] A Protestant is really one who publicly witnesses—for, or against. From pro “before,” and testis, “a witness.”

[4] Guard against such expressions as “the School is the nursery of the Church.” A nursery is a room devoted to the children of the family, and is part of the parental home. A Sunday School is designed to instruct the young—irrespectively of their religious condition—in the truths of God’s Word. We cannot, in this connection, quote Gal. 6:6: “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things,” or, perhaps literally, “Let the Catechumen communicate to the Catechist in all good things.” A Catechumen was a person recently converted, but ignorant of some of the leading doctrines of the Gospel; a Cateohist was a Christian teacher specially appointed to instruct him, in order that he might grasp what was expressed and involved in the rite of Baptism, and in Church Fellowship. Such a ministry is still practised in heathen lands, and is most important.

Sunday School teachers are Evangelists to the young—their object being to carry out the first of the three branches of the Master’s commission, (Matt. 28:19,20; and see pages 151 and 197,) and with God’s blessing to “make disciples” of those under their care.

[5] “The fear of the Lord,” in the Old Testament, generally means genuine religion in its entirety—not merely the branch of it which impels men to avoid displeasing God.

[6] “Home claims being first considered.” Strict and Particular Baptist Churches, while contributing many hundreds of pounds per annum to the two Missionary Societies connected with their section of the denomination, subscribe to the last five Societies mentioned on page 224 so small a sum annually that it were a shame to record it. Yet they suffer their own Causes, their itinerant Preachers, their aged Ministers, and the widows of their former Pastors to be liberally helped from Funds which they persistently decline to maintain.

[7] Many portions of Scripture which, if misunderstood, might perplex the anxious, are explained in the author’s Manual. Read the “Textual Index.” Every “soul-winner” should study the hymns of Joseph Hart.

[8] Preachers who come to us from Communities whose Faith and Order differ from our own, should make it their first BUSINESS to connect themselves with a Church of Truth, pages 12 and 215. This, and this only, gives them a valid position with the Christians among whom they now desire to exercise their gifts. An Arminian or Yea-and-nay preacher in a Strict Baptist pulpit is an atrocious anomaly.


William Styles (1842-1914) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He is the author of several works, including “A Guide To Church Fellowship As Maintained By Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptists” and “A Manual Of Faith And Practice”.

William Styles, A Guide To Church Fellowship (Complete)
William Styles, A Memoir of John Hazelton (Complete)