The Believers’ Need for the Church and the Communion of the Saints: A Modern Application of Octavius Winslow’s Work- Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul


As it is natural for water to run down hill, so it is natural for a Christian to grow in Christlikeness through the institution of the church, and the habit of Christian fellowship.  However, the believer who fails to avail himself of the manifold benefits of the church, and the communion of saints will naturally begin to decline spiritually.  In Octavius Winslow’s book Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul,[1] Winslow repeatedly reminded his readers that failure to love, adhere, and participate in these benefits manifested an existing spiritual declension, and furthered spiritual declension.

My aim is first of all to examine Winslow’s warnings and  show that both the church and the communion of the saints are essential to Christian growth.  Secondly to give practical applications as to how a minster and session can help the soul struggling with this issue.  The format will follow the nine specific topics discussed in Winslow.


The article is by Rev. Henry Bartsch, minister of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Chatham Ontario, Canada.  He is currently pursuing an M.Th. degree at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is husband to Tammy and father of six children.

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[1] Octavius Winslow, Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul.  (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1993).

Holy Spirit Octavius Winslow Pietism Revival Spirituality

Piety in the wake of trade. The North Sea as an intermediary of reformed piety up to 1700

Paying attention to theology at the expense of piety is characteristic of the historiography
of Christianity in general and Protestantism in particular. The experience
of the doctrine and the resulting moral behaviour always remain underexposed.
With this article I wish to give some counterbalance on a very modest scale.
Throughout the ages there has been the tendency within Christianity to pursue
pious life as a specific aim. Attention to spiritual experiences and mysticism and
the practice of piety went hand in hand. The Protestant form of that tendency
was Pietism. This religious movement arose in various European countries rather
quickly after the political, military, economic and ecclesiastical consolidation of
the Reformation. In reaction to ethical abuses and the degeneration of religious
and ecclesiastical life, it emphasized the necessity of internal and external piety.
Religion should be a matter of the heart, becoming visible in life-style.1
Pietism manifested itself both in Reformed and Lutheran Protestantism. Since
this article deals with the former, whenever I employ the term Pietism I mean
Reformed Pietism.


This essay, written by W.J. op ‘t Hof, is found in The North Sea and culture (1550-1800): Proceedings of the International Conference Held at Leiden 21-22 April 1995, eds. Juliette Roding and Lex Heerma van Voss (Hilversum: Verloren, 1996), 248-265.

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Dutch Reformed Piety Further Reformation Pietism Piety Puritan