Review of "Distinguishing Traits of Christian Character"

A review by Jaclyn Tyner

“How can I know that I am saved?”

This is a question that has come up in nearly every Christian’s heart and mind. The author of this small book sets out to answer this question about assurance of salvation. By examining a list of character traits derived from the Scriptures, Spring seeks to dash any false assurances by misled religious converts, and to encourage and exhort all true believers.  We, as God’s children, should have assurance that he loves us and has saved us, so that we can live our lives with confidence in Him. However, Scripture also tells us to “examine ourselves and prove ourselves whether we be in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:15). This booklet will help guide you through the examination of your affections.

The author starts out with several chapters of character traits that may often be misunderstood as evidence of true faith. Some examples are visible morality, knowledge of Scripture, religious disciplines, conviction of sin, and even strong assurance of salvation. These traits are not to be seen as definitive evidence of the state of your soul, and are often the very things that people place their false assurance in.

The author then sets out to write on aspects that can be seen as evidence of true faith: A true love for God, a repentance of sin and turning away from it, self-denial and humility, a devotion to the honor and glory of God, brotherly love, and separation from the world.

There are some strong exhortations to believers in this book that I daresay would likely not make it into a modern writing of the subject for fear of offending someone. I don’t find this a weakness of the book, but rather I mention it as a challenge to my fellow saints to read this and consider the exhortations and where their personal walk with God may be weak or lacking.

Overall, I found the book helpful in answering the question of how a person might know whether he is saved. Even if a believer has great confidence in their own salvation, I think the book is worthwhile to exhort one in their Christian walk and to perhaps give him a better grasp of how to answer someone if they ask for advice on assurance.

As a note of writing style, this book was written in 1829, and so the language and readability is perhaps a bit more tedious than popular modern books. Thankfully, it is a small book (80 pages) with short chapters (1-5pages), so you can pick it up here and there when you have 10 minutes of available time and still finish the book in a reasonable time frame.

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