The Octavius Winslow Reading Group: Help Heavenward (Chapter 11)

Well ladies and gentlemen, you did it. You made it through your very first book written by the late Rev. Octavius Winslow D.D. How does it feel?

I hope that those of you who are new to Winslow and have followed along with us have fallen in love with his Christ centered and gospel focused writing. At the end of this post, I would really appreciate it if you would please comment on your overall experience from this series and what you think of Winslow now that you have tasted in his literary goodness.

It’s been my pleasure and humble honor to have tried to lead you through Help Heavenward and it is my hope that you not only have been taken by this book but will now go on to read more of his works.

It has been my primary mission here to expose believers to him and his works and I hope I have somewhat accomplished that in this meager little series.

Now, sadly, for our final chapter.

Our adorable Lord came down to earth to allure us up to heaven. In all His delineations of that happy, holy place, He sought to present it to the believing eye clad in its richest beauty, and invested with its sweetest and most winning attractions. Its hope was to sanctify us, its prospect was to animate us, and its foretastes were to comfort us.

Sufficient, however, of the vail was uplifted to reveal the fact of its existence, to awaken the desire and to inspire the hope of its possession. We cite, as illustrating this, the words at the head of this chapter. They are few, but how expressive! Heaven is portrayed as our FATHER’S HOUSE. What a precious, endearing, attractive view does this give us of our future and final rest—our eternal abode!

He tells us it is a house—a Father’s dwelling and that within its walls there are many mansions, one of which awaits each of us; and then, He bids us not to be troubled in heart by reason of the sorrow and privation of our present exile, since ere long He would come and take us home.

While reading this chapter, I began to think of the fact that countless scores of believers that have gone on before us have distilled holy scripture of all of its illustrations and images of our future happy land that they might store them upon their minds and hearts that they might never forget that as their last breath would exit their bodies, they would finally be in that golden land with their Lord. They would suckle upon these minute images as honey to draw from them soul nourishment to ease their uncomfortable pilgrimage and ever wishful eye. That they would be in great trial, tribulation, suffering, pain, torment, and persecution and have only these brief words to grasp their souls arms upon to keep from losing heart and to bolster their ever weakening faith. They, as we, have a destination. It is our Father’s house!

The FATHERHOOD of God is the first truth our Lord propounds in connexion with this picture of heaven. It was a natural and befitting introduction to His attractive theme. In speaking of the Father’s house, He would first reveal to us the parental relation of God. We could never have given to this truth the grasp of faith it demands had not Christ revealed and explained it. It was He who first taught our lips to say, “Our Father!” In asserting His own relation as an Elder Brother, He flung around the entire brotherhood the filial bond that linked both Himself and them to the same God and Father.

Next, Winslow goes into a bit of proof texting to further shore up our heavenly confidence in the precious doctrine of our Adoption. What sweeter discover can be made by the feeble believer than to know and fully understand that he is now God’s son or daughter! No longer are we cast outside of the family home of the King of that great land but we have been searched out in the streets and byways of the outer city of His kingdom and have been brough nigh inside the castle gates, we have been washed clean, our infirmities are all gone, and we are now clothed in the sweet smelling raiment prepared for us by the King Himself! And no one can ever take that from us!

He states the examples below:

Let us cite a few examples. Speak we of prayer? Hear Him cry, “O righteous FATHER, the world hath not known thee, but I have known thee. I know, FATHER, that thou hearest me alway.” Speak we of duty? Hear Him exclaim, “Wist ye not that I must be about my FATHER’S business?” Speak we of reverence! Hear Him say, “Even so FATHER, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Speak we of submisson? Listen to His words, “Not my will, O my FATHER, but thine, be done.” Approach we the solemn scene of His death? Hear Him exclaim, amidst the maddening tortures of the cross, the thunders of God’s anger, the lightning of God’s justice rolling and flashing above and around Him, “FATHER, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” Do we track His footsteps to the mount from the summit of which He went back to glory? Hear His parting words, “I ascend unto my FATHER, and unto your FATHER.” And as we return from these hallowed scenes, we ask ourselves, Is it any marvel that He, the Elder Brother, who could so embosom Himself in the Fatherhood of God, should teach our faltering lips, when we prostrate ourselves before the Divine Majesty of heaven and earth, to breathe the prayer, “Our FATHER, which art in heaven?” O beloved, allow your heart no repose, and the Holy Spirit no rest, until He seal ABBA, FATHER, upon your heart!

Next he turns his attention to our Father’s HOUSE:

We have alluded to the hallowed attractions and the sunny memories which cluster around the paternal home. Transfer your thoughts, my reader, from the earthly to the heavenly,— take the purest, the fondest, the most poetic conception you can form of the one, and blend it with the other,—and still you have but the faintest analogy of heaven! And yet you have made some approximation to the idea. You have entwined around your heart the image and hope of heaven as your HOME. Earth has some foreshadowings of this truth. If “now are we the children of God,” then ours is not a state of dreary orphanage—we are not fatherless and homeless.

If, then, we are not fatherless, there is a sense in which we are not homeless: but that the lower rooms, the outer courts, the vestibules of the heavenly Home, are found on earth, in which we meet and hold communion with our heavenly Father. What is the sanctuary, filled with His glory,—the closet, hallowed with His presence,—the chamber of sickness, soothed with His love,—the hill-side, where at even-tide we go to meditate, sanctified with His fellowship, but our Father’s Home coming down out of heaven to dwell a while with His children on earth? Where my Father is, there is my Father’s house.

Winslow picks up on some very clever thoughts regarding the concept of our HOME here on earth. Frankly, I have never considered it this way, but have come to conclude he is indeed correct. We have here on earth but shadows and whispers of our future glorious home in such graces such as worship, prayer, meditation, and fellowship. It is as if a little bit of heaven has come down from on high and has done us a tremendous mercy in relieving our heart’s yearning pangs in these blessed events! Oh that He thinks so dearly of us in His beloved Son!

“In my Father’s house there are many mansions.” Guided by these words, the first view which it presents to the mind is its appointed and prepared state. We go to no uncertain home. It is the family mansion, eternally ordained and prepared for the dwelling of the saints. The everlasting love which chose us to salvation, the predestination which appointed us to be sons, provided the home we were eternally to occupy.

The apostle, too, reminds us that it is “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, RESERVED in heaven for you.” And did not our blessed Lord declare the same truth when He said, “I go to PREPARE a place for you.” We go, then, to a home all appointed and prepared, all garnished and made ready for our coming.

Personally speaking, I have some medical problems with my legs. I have a condition that will not allow the blood in the lower parts of my legs to be pumped back up to my heart. Therefore, the blood pools below my knees and causes me tremendous pain throughout the day. There is not one portion of my daily life that I am not in some degree of pain. What often will bring me great comfort is to lie in bed as still as I can and close my eyes and begin to think that there is a heavenly city and a heavenly home being prepared for me this very instant and that when I finally come to its doorway, my pain will be no more. My sleepless nights and pain filled days will be long forgotten and I will finally enter into my Kings celestial home. A home for me. A home for you.

Next, Winslow begins to explore the rooms of the mansion a bit:

The solemn hour of death once passed, the spirit, upborne by angels, finds itself at once ushered into the RECEPTION-ROOM of heaven, the first of the “many mansions.” There we shall see Jesus, not seated, but standing,—as when He rose to receive His first martyr,—to welcome us home, encircled by the general assembly and church of the first-born, the spirits of just men made perfect, and an innumerable company of angels, waiting to greet our arrival. In advance, and more eager than all the rest of that blessed throng, will be the loved ones from whom we parted on the margin of the river across which they passed to the Celestial City. Oh, what a reception! what greetings! what joy-wishings then!

What a joyous notion! Finally, as we close our eyes in mortal death and open them in infinite life we will see our Lord standing before us to welcome us home and embrace us as His own. Believing loved ones who have died in the Lord before us will be there to welcome us home along with the shouts of countless angels. Blessed thought!

The Heavenly Repast, which succeeds the reception, will introduce us into the BANQUET-HALL of heaven, another mansion of the Father’s house. We have remarked that there are bright gleams of heaven falling upon earth’s shadows. Among the most resplendent of these are the foretastes of the banquet which awaits us on high.

It is thus described by the evangelical Isaiah: “In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a FEAST of fat things, a FEAST of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.” How full and rich is the gospel of Christ! How divine the provision—how ample the supply—how free the invitation! The forgiveness of all and every sin,—your reconciliation with the offended Majesty of heaven,—peace in your soul so divine, so great, that it “passeth all understanding,”—life and immortality, the consummation and crown of its blessings! Oh, pray for and cherish a spiritual zest for this banquet!

There Christ will nourish you with the finest of the wheat; with honey from the rock will He satisfy you. Never forget that such is the fulness of the gospel of Christ, such its variety of blessings, such the sufficiency of its supply, and such the freeness of its bestowment, that it meets every case, every trial, every phase, and every want of our humanity! What a banquet, too, is the Lord’s Supper, where, perhaps, the brightest gleams of glory fall, since that, of all other institutions of Christ, the most closely unites and blends the atoning death and the millennial glory of Christ.

Oh to finally sit down among the myriads and myriads of saints to feast finally at our Lord’s banquet table! The countless Sunday Lord’s Table provisions while on earth were only shadowing this final moment when finally He will sit among us and drink the wine He said he would not until we had joined Him. What must this meal be like? Imagine the pains and trials of the previous life only making that moment all the more delicious to our senses. Can you imagine it? I cannot!

The Father’s house has also its MUSIC-MANSION. Adoration and praise would seem to constitute the principal employment of the redeemed in heaven. The visions of glory which floated before the eye of John were all associated with music. To his sea-girt isle were wafted the strains of the song sung by the hundred and forty and four thousand who stood on Mount Zion.

And who and what are the subjects of their song?—Jesus and His Redemption? “Thou art worthy, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” Blended with the song of Redemption will be the song of PROVIDENCE. Retracing all the way thy God led thee through the wilderness, thou shalt gather material from each mercy and from each trial, from each joy and from each sorrow, for an eternal hymn of praise to His great and glorious name. Beloved, you are learning these songs now in the house of your pilgrimage. As you cross the desert sands, or break your lone footsteps through the depth of the wilderness, or stand within the sacred shadow of the cross, God is preparing you for the Music-mansion of glory. All His dealings with you in providence and in grace are but to train and attune the powers, affections, and sympathies of your soul to the sweet harmony of the spheres.

Oh to be in this room! What must these sounds be like? Those saints whose trials have tuned their voices to sing with utmost of praise must bellow throughout the halls corridors. Imagine the throng singing praises to their King! Countless upon countless souls lifting up with one voice the Lamb who was slain. All honor and all glory is He due!

The THRONE-ROOM of heaven is not one of the least appropriate and gorgeous mansions of the Father’s house. The saints of God are a kingdom of priests—a royal priesthood—the heirs of a kingdom. And no character in their glorified state will be more visible and distinct than their regal one.

A public and glorious enthronement and coronation awaits you. A royal priest, you will ere long be made like Christ, a “priest upon His THRONE.” Emerging from your present incognito—the ignorance of the world and the cold neglect of the Church—you will be ushered into the THRONE-ROOM of glory, saints and angels will escort you to your seat, and, amidst the halleujah chorus of countless myriads, Christ will CROWN you a KING and a PRIEST unto God, and you shall REIGN with Jesus for ever and ever. Oh, whatever obscurity may now vail your relation as belonging to the seed-royal, let your demeanor be such as to stamp you with the character once ascribed to Gideon’s brethren, of whom it was said, that “each one resembled the CHILDREN of a KING!”

Next Winslow draws us inside the glorious throne room where we shall sit beside our Lord forever and ever. To be in His presence as He rules over the universe as a glorious redemptive King. We will be there dressed in robes of resplendent glory that mortal eyes might melt if they were to view them. We will be with Him and shall never again depart!

We are trespassing not upon the region of Imagination when, in depicting the spiritual architecture and appointments of the Father’s house, we refer to the PICTURE-GALLERY as constituting one of its most appropriate and attractive mansions. It is not materializing heaven to transfer to its spiritual descriptions the expressive imagery of the material. In so doing we but imitate the Holy Ghost, who, in all His spiritual delineations of glory, hesitates not to dip His divine pencil in the bright, gorgeous colors with which God has tinted and enamelled this beautiful world.

Upon the walls of that magnificent gallery, depicted in color of living light, will be seen all the marvellous events of God’s moral and providential government in the history of the universe, separately, visibly, and eternally traced. Nor this only. What will be our astonishment and marvel, when we gaze upon the walls of that gallery, to behold our individual history, from our entrance into this world of woe, to our entrance into the world of glory,—each event, each epoch, each step delineated with a life-like truthfulness, a depth of tint, and a transparency of color which shall reveal all the past with startling vividness, overpowering the mind with wonder, and expanding the heart with praise! Incidents which we had failed to note, events which we had totally forgotten, providences which we had blindly seen, and circumstances which we had strangely misunderstood, will then form a series of pictures, presenting a complete and perfect history of our individual life, illustrating the infinite wisdom, goodness, faithfulness, and love of our Father throughout the whole.

Now this is a room I am most interested to walk in. To see, painted on the walls, every trial and joy given to us on our earthly pilgrimage by the hand of our Father and the reason why it was given. To see, finally, why the Lord allowed such and such incident to occur in our lives and how it had a profound affect on drawing our souls heavenward. Who of us does not say, from time to time, “why is the Lord allowing this to happen to me”? We will then finally know why!

Among the many mansions there will not be wanting one which will especially recognize heaven as a place of study. What a LIBRARY of knowledge, therefore, awaits us in our Father’s house! Heaven is a place of thought, of expanded intellect, of matured and ever-enlarging and enriching mind. Our minds are but in the infancy of their being; and the themes of reflection and subjects of research which they grasp are necessarily graduated to our present infantine and limited powers.

And will THE BOOK have no place in that library? Verily, I believe that it will. I do not think that in the archives of heaven, the Sacred Scroll of God’s Revealed Truth will be missing. That most marvellous of all wonderful books, the BIBLE,—the parent, and source, and foundation of all that was accurate in history, true in philosophy, profound in science, rich in poetry, sound in ethics, and real in religion,—will then unclasp its lids and unfold its leaves; and in a light that will explain every truth, elucidate every mystery, harmonize every discrepance, we shall read the Bible as we never studied its wondrous contents before. Not a truth will be lost.

The Library of Knowledge! What a thought! To be able to open the volumes of the wealth of God’s knowledge, or at least what He will allow us to know, to be able to comprehend and understand so much! I can;t even begin to wrap my mind around it. And the, probably in the center of this library, may lie the Best of Books. We will then be able to read its pages and understand so much more than our fallen minds could while on earth! I want to understand what was going through Eve’s mind!

Conclusion

Well, that’s it folks. We’re all done! What did you think? What say you of this 19th century Victorian pastor and writer now? What has this book helped you to see or understand?

By all means, please take some time and write your reflections below in the comment section. I am so excited to hear from you.

Thanks for reading along with me!

Fin

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The Octavius Winslow Reading Group: Help Heavenward (Chapter 10)

Quick Announcement: My apologies for not getting this posted on Monday. I made a brief mention on the Facebook Fanpage that recently my wife was admitted to the local hospital with some chronic issues she has been fighting and that my time just simply slipped away from me. I am happy to report that as of right now, she is feeling a lot better (though not out of the woods quite yet) and is now beginning to recover a bit. Thanks to all of you who expressed concern and offered your most coveted prayers for her and our little family.

Also, please note that the last chapter will not be due this Monday but he following Monday as I think that might be a wiser decision on my part since I am not exactly sure how much free time I will have this upcoming week.

So, with no further a do, heeeeeeeere’s Winslow:

The emancipation of God’s people from the iron furnace of Egypt, their march across the desert, their passage over Jordan, and their final settlement in the land of Canaan, are indisputable points of agreement, and present at one glance the moral map of the Christian’s pilgrimage and journey from earth to heaven.

Approaching the end of this volume, we feel there would be wanting an essential link in the chain of helps heavenward were we to omit gathering around the closing scene of the believer’s life those appropriate instructions, soothings, and hopes essential to the succouring of the soul in so solemn and momentous a stage of its history. Doubtless to the eye of the children of Israel, as they stood upon its banks surveying the promised land beyond it, the intervention of Jordan was an object of gloom and terror.

That there are swellings of Jordan in the Christian’s experience we doubt not. For example, there are the fears with which the child of God anticipates the last enemy,—there are the sad recollections of all his past sins crowding around his pillow,—there are the suggestions of unbelief, perhaps more numerous and powerful at this moment than ever,—and there is the shrinking of nature from the final wrench, the last conflict, the closing scene—the last glance of earth, the last look of love, the loosing of those fond and tender ties which entwine us so closely with those we leave;—these are some of the swellings of Jordan.

The crossing of the river Jordan has been one of the most recognizable metaphors of death used by believers down through the ages. And why shouldn’t it be? After all, it’s the culmination of a life lived and that is ready to finally be laid aside to come into its full inheritance in the Lord Jesus. But to pass over this river is no small matter, not even to believers. As Bunyan so beautifully portrayed in Pilgrim’s Progress, there are some of us that, when we come to its banks, shall not proceed without much trial and difficulty. Satan still lingers upon its shore to accuse Zion’s travelers already weakened by the pilgrimage thus of their failures and shortcomings. Thus, when they proceed into its waters, they begin to flail and thrash as its depths begin to creep slowly upon their necks. Doubts and remembrances may begin to pummel their tender conscience that they begin to gasp and almost even drown.

Thankfully, however, their Anchor lies well within the city beyond and is there to safely provide them safe passage to her shining shores. There are also those of us who may go boldly and in full confidence into her raging waves where every step forward only draws even more and more confidence and courage to plunge ahead and lay hold of the sandy banks beyond squarely and firmly. Those of us in Jesus will indeed cast a wishful eye upon her banks one day. None of us will be exempt. We will all one day see her shores.

Winslow then launches into a tremendously beautiful typological illustration of the twelve priests as they carried the ark of the covenant through Jordan’s waters:

We read that God commanded that twelve priests, representing the twelve tribes, should bear the ark of the Lord before the people, and that the moment the soles of the feet of the priests that bore the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, the waters rose up on either side; and then we read that, “the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.” Now here we have a beautiful representation of the passage of the children of God through death into heaven. Take each particular. There was present, first, the ark of the covenant. Upborne upon the shoulders of the priests, it went before and led the march of the advancing hosts. That ark was an especial and glorious type of the Lord Jesus. Christ, our divine Ark, has already clave the waters of Jordan, for He has passed through death in advance of His people. And still the Ark is with them. Never was there the departure of a believer unattended by the presence of Jesus. Delightful thought! Christ our Ark will divide the dark waters as we pass, will go before, will go with us, will be our rearward, and thus encircled by Christ, amid the swelling of Jordan, we will fear no evil. What more is needed than the sensible presence of the Saviour to raise the heart superior to the fear of death, and to bear the soul tranquilly across the river? Fear not, then, believer—you will see His smile, you will hear His voice, you will feel His hand, and His conscious presence will enfold you as you pass.

Then, the feet of the priests stood firm in the midst of Jordan. The waters had parted, and on either side they stood as crystal walls of defence, while the hosts of the Lord passed over. Infinitely firmer do the feet of the saints stand on Christ when they die. The Rock on which you stand is a firm rock,—the covenant of grace which you grasp is a sure covenant,—the love of God in which you confide is an unchangeable love,—the atoning work upon which you rest is a finished and accepted work. The throne of God in heaven stands not firmer than does the weakest and most fearful who, leaning on Jesus, clinging to Jesus, is sustained by Jesus, as he cleaves his way through the swelling of Jordan.

And then we are told that, all the people passed clean over. What an impressive illustration of the full salvation of the whole Church of God! All the people,—the small as the great, the timid as the bold, the weak as the strong,—not one left upon the shore, but all went over and stood an unbroken column on the other side. Blessed thought! the Church of Christ shall be finally and fully saved—not one shall be left upon the bank, not one shall perish amid the swelling of Jordan. You have often mused—“How shall I meet the final conflict? Will faith as weak, will grace as little, will knowledge as limited, will experience as shallow as mine be able to breast the swelling flood?” But why these fears? why these misgivings? why these doubtful reasonings? Weak as may be your faith, small your grace, limited your experience, you shall not perish, for it is not your hold upon Christ, but Christ’s hold upon you, that insures your safe and certain passage over.

Now who of you cannot draw encouraging strength from the honey of this exposition!? Oh that we should see more of Jesus in all of our readings of the Old Testament!

Jordan was the passage to Canaan,—death is the passage to heaven. Beyond the “swelling flood” faith descries the better land, the fair haven, the glorious and eternal inheritance of the saints. Let this thought exert a soothing influence on your mind. And then, to this add a kindred reflection—that, on the other side of Jordan you will greet again the loved ones from whom you parted on this side of the river. Our home circles are thinning; vacant places around our domestic hearth remind us that some, who sat with us there, have passed over.

Friend after friend is departing,—familiar and loved faces are disappearing from our view,—and life seems more lonely and the world more desolate. Well, be it so. We shall find all who sleep in Jesus again on the other side of the river. We accompanied them to the margin, saw them enter the swelling tide, heard their shout of victory, and then they vanished from our sight, and we saw them no more. And soon our time will come, when we, too, shall pass over and meet them all again.

Be not over anxious as to the time, the place, or the mode of your passage over Jordan. As death is in the covenant, so are all the circumstances of death likewise in the covenant, and they will transpire just as your covenant-God has fixed and arranged. Ah, how many feel the swelling of Jordan more in groundless, anticipative fears than in actual reality! But be not careful, beloved, about this matter. All is in the Lord’s hands, and He will divide the swelling billows, and take you dry-shod over, and not a heaving, not an undulation of the cold waters, shall chill the warmth or ruffle the calmness of your breast.

We all are going to die. It is the one thing in our lives that we will have to do absolutely alone. But in a sense, we are not alone, for there is One who waits for us weary travelers on the river’s bank on the other side. We shall take no provisions, no wealth, and no family or loved ones may cross with us. We must all, believer and unbeliever alike, ultimately submit to her rushing waters. And when we do finally come to the other side, we will either be wearing the spotless white robe of our Beloved or the rags of our former life of sin. As Bunyan so insightfully stated, “There is a way to hell, even from the gates of heaven”. Horrific thought to consider that there will be multitudes upon multitudes that will be led down that dark path while the precious few shall enter into their Kings rest and glory!

And what will it profit us to fret and worry about that glorious day? What will it add to our comfort or encouragement? Be content to just know that one day, perhaps tomorrow or in 50 years, you will breathe your last breath and shall enter His presence. Until then, we must be busy at our Master’s work here on earth with the time allotted to us.

I put the question to the sincere humble believer in Jesus—How will you do in the swelling of Jordan? You reply, “I will cleave closer and closer to Jesus. As the waters deepen, I will plant my foot of faith firmer and firmer upon the Rock, until I find myself in glory.” Then, fear not the swelling tide! Death will be to you—looking to Jesus, clinging to Jesus, accepted in Jesus—but a falling asleep,—a translation from the family of God on earth to the family of God in heaven,—a going from the Church below to the Church above. It is but a narrow stream that divides you, as seen by faith. You may go down to the margin of the river, weeping and lamenting as you go—

“Oh! could I make my doubts remove,
These gloomy doubts that rise,
And see the Canaan that I love
With unbeclouded eyes!

“Could I but climb where Moses stood,
And view the landscape o’er,
Not Jordan’s streams, nor death’s cold flood,
Should fright me from the shore.”

But when you enter, your tears will cease to flow, and your song will commence, and your departure shall be like that of Bunyan’s pilgrim, “Valiant-for-the-Truth,” which that master of allegory thus inimitably describes:—“‘My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought His battles who will now be my Rewarder.’ And when the day that he must go hence was come, many accompanied him to the river-side, into which, as he went, he said, ‘Death, where is thy sting?’—and as he went down deeper, he said, ‘Grave, where is thy victory?’ So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.”

Next Week

Please read the final chapter, Our Father’s House for April 11. I am giving an extra week for this last chapter to ensure I have enough wiggle room in case my time gets pretty thin.

I’ll see you here then!

 

“Help Heavenward” Chapter 10: The Swelling Of The Jordan

Help Heavenward

Chapter 10: The Swelling of the Jordan

“How wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?”—Jer. 12:5

We remarked in an earlier part of this work that the history of the children of Israel was strikingly illustrative, if not designedly typical, of God’s spiritual Israel. And although, as in all illustrative and typical teaching of the Bible, we should bear in mind the marked ascendancy of the truth typified above the type, the thing symbolized above the symbol, yet there are always points of analogy and assimilation strictly true, impressively instructive, and strikingly beautiful, which it is our wisdom to study and apply. The emancipation of God’s people from the iron furnace of Egypt, their march across the desert, their passage over Jordan, and their final settlement in the land of Canaan, are indisputable points of agreement, and present at one glance the moral map of the Christian’s pilgrimage and journey from earth to heaven. And yet, as we gaze upon the two pictures, and contrast Pharaoh with Satan, the curse with Egypt, the wilderness with the heavenly pilgrimage, Jordan with death, Canaan with heaven, and Moses with Christ, we feel the force of the truth, how impotent is all material and earthly imagery to illustrate things spiritual and heavenly. We select, however, from these interesting points of history one only as illustrating an important and solemn stage in the believer’s journey—the passage of the children of Israel over Jordan. The Church has for ages been wont to consider, and not improperly, this event as foreshadowing the Christian’s departure to glory by death, while with it has been blended the most solemn, tender, and holy thoughts, feelings, and anticipations that ever found a home in the believer’s heart. Approaching the end of this volume, we feel there would be wanting an essential link in the chain of helps heavenward were we to omit gathering around the closing scene of the believer’s life those appropriate instructions, soothings, and hopes essential to the succouring of the soul in so solemn and momentous a stage of its history. Doubtless to the eye of the children of Israel, as they stood upon its banks surveying the promised land beyond it, the intervention of Jordan was an object of gloom and terror. And as its waters, dark and cold, rose and swelled and broke in mournful cadence at their feet, as if in anticipation chanting the sad requiem of their death, we can easily imagine the question arising in many a sinking heart—“How shall I do in the swelling of this Jordan?” Ah! how many who bend in sadness and trembling over these pages, to whose sick-chamber or dying-bed they will travel, are resolving in their anxious breasts the question—“How shall I be able to meet death? how pass over this swelling flood? how may I meet this last, this latest, this most terrible crisis of my being?” Be still, these fears! hush these doubts, child of God! while we endeavour to shew how you shall fearlessly, safely, and triumphantly pass through the swelling of Jordan, and reach your heavenly home at last.

Continue reading ““Help Heavenward” Chapter 10: The Swelling Of The Jordan”

The Octavius Winslow Reading Group: Help Heavenward (Chapter 9)

“Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God.”—Jeremiah. 3:22.

Few will read the pages of a work designed to proffer a helping hand to Zion’s travellers to whom that hand will be more needful and acceptable than the awakened, returning backslider. To such, languid and fainting, depressed and despairing, hesitating to return, doubting God’s welcome,—evidences lost, soul-beclouded, fears rising, hope vailed,—the strongest cordials of God’s most gracious, full, and free promises are needful to rouse, revive, and reassure the wanderer that the Lord invites, receives, and welcomes the returning backslider—the child retracing his way back to his forsaken Father.

God addresses them as backsliding CHILDREN. He can never forget His parental relation to them, though they may forget or abuse their filial relation to Him. Children though we are, adopted, sealed, and inalienably entitled to all the covenant blessings of adoption, we are yet backsliding children. The heart is ever swerving from God. The renewed soul possesses the principle of its own departure, contains the elements of its own declension, and but for the electing love, the restraining grace, the illimitable power of God, would destroy itself entirely and forever.

If ever there were a more encouraging chapter in all of christen dome and in all works ever penned by the hand of man, this chapter and this opening verse must be it. Who of us cannot immediately relate and benefit of its rich blessing and comfort? Who of us had not, even in the quiet of our very souls, slidden away from our true Love and sought solace in the futility of another’s earthly arms? Wretched men and women that we are! Though we be saved, redeemed, and regenerated, who of us does not need to hear this opening word to us? “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.” He does not call us enemies or rebels here, He calls us children! Blessed thought!

He goes on. This excerpt is a little long, but it really needs to be read:

The language in which God addresses you is most reassuring. He calls you “children;” though a backslider, yet a child. Can the human parent ever forget, in the deepest provocation of his offspring, that still he is his child? God here meets His wanderer just where that wanderer stands most in need of a Divine assurance. What relation is it which spiritual backsliding the most contravenes, which sin the most obscures, and of which unbelief and Satan, presuming upon that backsliding, would suggest to the mind the strongest suspicion and doubt? We answer—the relation of Divine sonship. The backslider reasons thus—“Is my adoption real? Can I be a child of God, and prove so base, sin so deeply, and depart so far from my God? If a son, why am I so rebellious, disobedient, and unfaithful? Surely I cannot belong to the adoption of God, and grieve and wound the Spirit of adoption thus?” Now God meets the wanderer just at this critical juncture. He declares that though a backslider, yet he is still His child, and that no departure however distant, and that no sin however aggravated, has impaired the strength or lessened the tenderness, tarnished or shaded the lustre of that relation. If God, then, comes forth, and, despite our backsliding, recognizes our son-ship, and acknowledges us as His children, who shall dispute or contravene the fact? “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” Such, beloved, is the first consolation I suggest to your sad and depressed soul. Could it be surpassed by anything else I may offer? What! does God still call you His child? Does He not disown and disinherit you as a son of God and an heir of glory? Ah, no! He cannot forget that He has predestinated you to the adoption of children, that His Spirit has been sent into your heart, and that in happier days gone by you have often called Him “Abba, Father.” And although you have been rebellious, backsliding, and stiffnecked, yet, taking with you words and turning to the Lord your God, He meets you as once He met His repenting, mourning Ephraim— “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself . . . Is Ephraim my dear SON? is he a pleasant CHILD? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord,” (Jer. 31:18, 20.) Clear is it, then, that God’s children do backslide; that it is no strange thing that their love to Him should wax cold, their faith decline, their strength decay, their zeal slacken, their godly frames grow sleepy and inert, the spirit of prayer be restrained, the means of grace be neglected; and, as a consequence of all this inward declension, the world should have an ascendancy, Satan prevail, and the sin that does most easily beset them attain a momentary triumph. But still they are God’s children,—O wondrous grace! O changeless love!—and chastened, corrected, rebuked, and humbled, their heavenly Father will restore them to His pardoning love and gracious favour, and they shall again walk with Him filially, humbly, softly, as His dear children, “when He is pacified towards them for all that they have done.”

After reading that excerpt, stop a moment and let it fall on you. Mediate and taste all that is in it! If your heart is not firmly planted within the clouds after reading that you are not alive!

What an invitation! “RETURN!” It is GOD who speaks it—the God from whom we have revolted, departed, and gone so far astray. It is the word of our Father, against whom we have rebelled, so deeply, so grievously sinned. He trammels His invitation with no conditions. His simple word is—“Return unto me!”

The Lord Jesus is this open door. The blood of Jesus, the righteousness of Jesus, the intercession of Jesus, the grace of Jesus, the quenchless love of Jesus, the outstretched hand of Jesus, unite in guiding the trembling footstep of the returning soul back to its Father. The present efficacy and the continuous presentation of the Lord’s sacrifice in heaven, blended with His intercessory work, personally and constantly prosecuted before the throne, are a warrant that this door to God shall never be closed while there lives a penitent sinner to enter it.

Brood not over what is past, yield to no forebodings and fears as to what may be the future—grapple with the present. For it you have a door, which God Himself has opened and which neither man, nor Satan, nor sin, shall shut. You have a throne of grace now inviting your approach; and you have the blood of Jesus with which to enter, as new, as efficacious, as prevalent, and as free as when it streamed from His sacred body on the cross. Let there be no postponement, then, of your return to God.

As Winslow said, the door is wide open for the adopted sons and daughters of God and no one, NO ONE can or will ever shut it! Do not fret yourself believer that if you return He may be disgusted or displeased with you. He is now your Father and as such He cannot disown you. Though you have run from Him and have tasted of the worlds foolishness and fickle idols, He ever waits to embrace you once more. And as you return your gaze to Him from afar, He runs to you and welcomes you willingly and openly! He loves you believer! HE LOVES YOU!

Backsliding from the Lord involves wounds, bruises, dislocation. It wounds the conscience, it bruises the soul, it breaks the bones of our strength, and causeth us to travel in pain and halting many a weary step. Ah, there is nothing so wounding as departure from God! Nothing so bruising of the soul’s peace and joy and hope as sin! Who can heal, who can bind up, who can mollify, who can reset these broken bones so that they shall rejoice again, but our sin-pardoning God? We have no self-power in this great matter of restoration. All that we can do is to make burdens, forge chains, carve crosses, inflict wounds,—in a word, destroy our own selves.

God will forgive! Christ will bind up the broken heart! The Comforter will restore joy to the soul! There is still balm in Gilead, and a Physician there. The healing balsam still bleeds from the wounded, stricken Tree of Life. The gate of paradise is yet unclosed, its portal garlanded with a thousand exceeding great and precious promises, all inviting your entrance and insuring you a welcome to its sunny banks, its shaded bowers, its peaceful quiet streams.

What glad tidings these astounding words contain to repentant back-sliders! What a bow of promise and of hope do they paint upon the dark cloud of despair which enshrouds the soul! “He will turn again.” Though He has turned a thousand times before, yet, “He will turn AGAIN;” not “seven times” only, but “seventy times seven.”

When we do return to the Savior of our soul, we are promised and assured He will bind our wounds, heal our hurts, and pour salve on our conscience. I the embrace of a Father’s arms in humble repentance, all things are made anew and all becomes well again with our souls. He will not continue to chasten us upon our return, but He has promised to re assure us over and over and over again that we are His and we will always be the apple of His eye and the joy of His heart through His Son Jesus Christ. No matter how many times we have departed or how cold our hearts have grown, He will always be ours and we will always be His… thanks be to God!

If the Lord has graciously given you to experience His restoring mercy, forget not one great reason why you are restored—that you might hate and forsake the cause of your departure. If we have succumbed to temptation, it is not enough that we have broken from its snare; if we have fallen into sin, it is not enough that we have escaped from its power. God would have you learn thereby one of your holiest lessons—the deeper knowledge of that which tempted and overcame you, that you might go and sin no more. Restored yourself, seek the restoration of others.

Seek to bring souls to Jesus. Let this be an object of life. Be especially tender, gentle, and kind to Christians who have fallen into sin, and are thereby wounded, distressed, and despairing. Extend a helping hand to lead them back to Christ. Your deep abhorrence of the sin must not be allowed to lessen your compassion and sympathy for the sinning one.

Therein lies the importance of belonging to a local body of believers and realizing that these trials are not only sent for our own sanctification and growth, but to now go and help others who are struggling in their earthly war and need help heavenward. Ask yourself, during your times of brokenness and trial, wouldn’t you have wanted a kind word or an open ear to help you in your time of need? Such a blessing you can be to a fellow traveler on the King’s highway with you!

From here Winslow jumps off into a bit of exposition of Hebrews 6:4-6, of which, I think I will not touch on at this moment as I feel his treatment of this text is of such weight and has caused much damage to many a fragile soul that it really needs its own post here on the blog. So please look for that in days to come. I will leave you this week with his introduction to this brief exposition:

It is no uncommon thing for the Lord’s backsliding children to be sadly and sorely distressed and cast down by certain portions of God’s Word, containing delineations of character and denunciations of woe which they suppose applicable to themselves; and which, so applied, inconceivably aggravate their soul distress, their mental anguish, and incapacitate them from receiving the promises and accepting the comfort which God, in His Word, so profusely and so graciously extends to His children, returning from their backslidings, with weeping and mourning, confession and prayer. Among the declarations thus referred to, which are supposed to have, the most direct application, and to wear the most threatening aspect, are those, so frequently quoted and as frequently misinterpreted and misapplied, found in the 6th chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews from the 4th to the 6th verse:—“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

Next Week

Please read Chapter 10: The Swelling of the Jordan for March 28!

 

 

 

The Octavius Winslow Reading Group: Help Heavenward (Chapter 8)

It will be acknowledged by every spiritual and reflecting mind that the tendencies of the age are not the most favourable to the calm, solemn, holy duty of self-communion. We are fallen upon times of great religious, as well as worldly activity and excitement. So strong and rushing, indeed, is the tide, that there exists a fearful and fatal liability in those who profess to walk with God, as did Noah and Enoch, to neglect entirely one of the most essential and effectual helps heavenward—the due, faithful, and constant examination of the spiritual state and condition of their own hearts.

With everything but themselves the great mass of human beings by whom we are surrounded are in the closest communion.

It is of the utmost moment, then, that the saint of God should be kept in perpetual remembrance of this sacred duty of self-communion: its neglect entails immense spiritual deterioration and loss; its observance will, more than all other engagements—for it stimulates to activity all others—effectually advance the soul in its heavenward course.

Does this sound familiar of our day? It obviously was in Winslow’s time but perhaps we may be so bold as to say it is of epidemic levels in ours! So many things, even good and noble things, become our distraction day and evening. We can become so concumed with the most mundane of subjects without even knowing our attention has been drawn away. Perhaps in no other country than ours (USA) is this epidemic more prelevent due to the overwhelming amount of distractions available at our fingertips. Television, the internet, shopping, books, news, gadgets, and friends have so much influence and sway of out time that before we know it, our entire day is spent and that sinking feeling of its absence of the Lord’s presence presses in while we lie on our beds. Neglecting the scriptures, prayer, and self communion will lead to a slow, choaking death for the believer.

Now, from here begins to lay out his argument in bullet format, as he is so prone to do, to detail the manner in which we might combat this lack of self communion.

1) Know Your True Spiritual State Before God

In the first place, my beloved reader, commune with your own heart, to know its true spiritual state as before God.

The questions, then, which we must weigh are—Have I passed from death unto life? Has my heart been convinced of sin? Am I a subject of the new birth? and from a state of insensibility to objects, and feelings, and hopes that are spiritual, eternal, and divine, have I been quickened by the regenerating Spirit to walk with God, and before the world, in newness of life? These are personal and serious questions, which must not, which cannot, be evaded without imperilling all that is most dear and precious to your everlasting well-being.

First and foremost, let’s not forget the obvious! Let us not assume the obvious! We must search our souls to see if we do truly share in the gift of the regenerating action of the Holy Spirit and are now indeed truly new creatures in Christ. We must not search for shear perfection and complete and perfect sanctification, but we must look for the precious fruits that grow from the branches of trees planted by the Gardener of our souls. Do we now have new affections? Do we desire to be holy? Do we thirst after Christ and His word?

2) Know The Existence and Condition of the Love of God in Your Own Heart.

Commune with yourself to ascertain the existence and condition of the love of God in your heart.

What is the warmth and vigour and ardour of your affections? Do you so love God in Christ as, under its constraining influence, to do what He commands, to yield what He asks, to go where He bids, to hate what He hates, and to love what He loves; yea, to embrace Him with an affection simple, single, and supreme, oblivious, if need be, of every other claimant, and satisfied, if so He willed it, with Him alone? Oh, what is the state of your love to Jesus—frigid, selfish, inconstant; or, glowing, self-denying, fixed?

Your love to Christ will never increase by feeding upon itself. You must light your torch of affection at the altar of Calvary. You must go there, and learn and believe what the love of Jesus is to you: the vastness of that love,—the self-sacrifice of that love,—how that love of Christ laboured and wept, bled, suffered, and died for you.

Sit not down, then, in vain regrets that your love to God in Christ is so frigid, so fickle, so dubious; go and muse upon the reality, the greatness, the present intercession of the Saviour’s love to you, and if love can inspire love, then methinks that, while you muse, the fire will burn, and your soul shall be all in flame with love to God.

Winslow isn’t all sunshine and roses and at times he will back you into a corner, sit you down, and ask you some very hard, revealing, and even painful questions. During pilgrimage, our affections towards the Savior can grow cold and disconnected. We are a fickle and most pitiful lot indeed and we need constant reminding from the word and from the gospel to keep our souls aflame for our Jesus. We need to be honest with ourselves and face this problem face on. We will, this side of glory, have to struggle with this most embarrassing and even humiliating of subjects. But! Thanks be to God, His grace is ever extended toward us and the gospel is always open to welcome us back from our sheepish and wandering ways! “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it” is the heart cry of all of His children and we are not alone in this fight! If you find your affections cold, share it with a fellow believer. You will be surprised to find you are not unique!

3) Know Your Own Heart as to its Views and Feelings towards the Lord Jesus.

The great question, which decides so much is, “What think you of Christ?” Is it with you a reality that Christ died for sinners? Do you fully credit the promise by which God has engaged to accept through His sacrifice and intercession all who believe in His name? Do you believe Him to be divine, accept His obedience as justifying, and His death as sacrificial? Has it pleased God to reveal His Son in you? Is He precious to your heart? And do you receive Him, trust in Him, follow Him, and hope to be with Him for ever, as all your salvation and all your desire?

Do I love Jesus? Is He the object of my supreme admiration and delight? Is He the chosen, the preferred, the supreme Being of my warmest affection? Is He precious to my soul? And am I trusting believingly, and exclusively, and without mental reservation, as a sinner utterly undone, self-abhorred, and self-condemned, to His atoning sacrifice?

You think of your sinfulness, your unworthiness, of the taint and flaw and unloveliness of all you are doing, of your faint love, of your weak faith, of your doubtful sincerity, and then you shrink from the thought of claiming an interest in Christ, and resign yourself to the conviction that your salvation is an utter impossibility—that you are not, and never will be, saved! But to take a closer view of the matter. Upon what ground do you base this hesitation and justify this self-exemption from the great salvation? It is not for your worth that you are saved, but for Christ’s worth. It is not on the ground of your personal merit that you are justified, but on the ground of Christ’s merit alone. It is not upon the plea of your fitness, your tears, your confessions, your prayers, your duties, that God forgives and accepts you, but simply and exclusively upon the one plea of the Saviour’s sacrifice.

The great work is all done—it is not to be done. It is complete, finished, accepted, sealed. And you, as a lost sinner, without holiness, without strength, without one plea that springs from what you are, have nothing to do. Believe, and you are saved. Believing is not doing, it is not meriting, it is TRUSTING—it is the simple exercise of a faith in Christ which God gives, and which the Holy Ghost produces in the heart; so that your salvation, from beginning to end, is entirely out of yourself, in another.

And still you ask, “What then must I DO to be saved?” Do! I answer—NOTHING! All is done, completely and for ever done! Blessed, O thrice blessed be God! Christ has done it all—paid it all—endured it all—suffered it all—finished it all—leaving you, O sin-burdened, anxious, trembling, hesitating soul, nothing to do, and only to believe. Will not this suffice? Will you demur a moment longer to commit yourself to Christ, to lay your soul on Jesus, to accept the salvation, the heaven, the crown, the eternal life He proffers you as the free bestowments of His grace? Your sins, countless as the stars, are no barrier to your salvation if you but believe in Jesus. Your transgressions, deep as scarlet and as crimson, shall not be of too deep a dye if you but plunge into the fountain of Christ’s blood. His delight, His glory is to receive sinners—to receive you. And the moment you cease to give over doing, and begin only to believe, from that moment your soul rests from its labour, you enter into peace, and are for ever saved!

Sorry for huge amount of quoted text, but there was just so much to cover in this one. Essentially, Winslow is saying this I think. This Christ you believe in, who is He to you and what is He capable of to you? Is He an all forgiving Christ who is capable of forgiving all of your sin? Is He a Christ who needs your 10% to fulfill His 90% of work accomplished on your behalf? Is He a Christ worthy of your time, mind, and resources? Is He a Christ worth your souls delight and love? Winslow will pepper you with questions like these and in this repetitive manner to penetrate any callousness that may have formed on your heart to drive his point as a hammer and nail into your soul. Are you beginning to see how he works in his writings? So what say you personally of this One called the Christ? More tough questions.

4) Know the Ruling Principles of Your Actions.

What is the ruling principle of your heart? Have you examined yourself to know? Beware of self-treachery, the most easy and the most fatal of all species of deception. There are many deceitful things in the world. The wind is deceitful, the ocean is deceitful, the creature is deceitful, but the human “heart is deceitful above all things,” and in nothing, probably, more so than in the principles and motives which govern and sway it.

But, retreating to my chamber, let me, in solitude, self-scrutiny, and prayer, commune with my own heart. Laying bare, as with the deepest incision of the knife, its spiritual anatomy before God.

Keeps getting tougher, doesn’t it? Here Winslow is asking us to search ourselves in the quiet of our closet that we may know the over ruling motivation that lies behind all things done by us for God. Many times, I fear, we set to do such and such a thing in the right spirit and for the glory of God, but it can soon become tainted by the desire to be seen of men and for our efforts to be applauded openly. As scripture says, the heart is a truly deceptive thing! Who can know it? God does!

5) Know the Heavenly Tendencies of Your Own Heart.

Commune with your own heart, and ascertain its heavenly tendencies,—whether the shadows of time or the realities of eternity have the ascendancy. Let no child of God deem such a scrutiny needless. The Word of God is replete with exhortations to the Church to set its affections on things above and not on the earth; to seek first the kingdom of God; to have its conversation in heaven. Encompassed as we are by earth, blinded by objects of sense, weighed down by human cares and anxieties, we need to be watchful against their secular influence upon our minds. It is good, therefore, to retire to our chamber and examine the spiritual barometer of the soul, to adjust the balance of the affections, and to see that divine and eternal realities are obtaining a growing ascendancy and pre-eminence.

This is one of my favorites. The heavenly tendencies of our souls! What a blessed gift it is to have our affections and minds re directed by teh Holy Spirit to dwell far far above our current stations that we may, in essence, be right there in the very presence of God! Of all of the gifts given to the children of light, this indeed is one of the richest and most fulfilling! Search your hearts to see if your mind is indeed frequently taken up into the heavenly places and dwells where no eye can see and no imagination can fathom.

6) Know Your Own Heart as to its Real and Habitual Fellowship with God.

Commune with your own heart as to its real and habitual fellowship with God. Do we pray? What is the character of our prayers? Do we pray in the Spirit? Is our prayer communion? Do we walk with God as a Father, and with Christ as our best Friend? And is the throne of grace the sweetest, holiest, dearest spot to us on earth? For the want of this honest communion with our heart, there is often an essential defect in our communion with the heart of Jesus. Our hearts grow so cold that we are insensible to the warmth of His. There is so little self-examination touching prayer, that our devotions glide into a cold, abstract formality, and petitions and supplications which should be as swift arrows shot from the bow of faith entering into the presence of God, congeal in icicles upon our lips.

We need to ask ourselves if we are truly praying with a broken and contrite heart or if we have slipped into a state of just going through the motions. Has our devotional time in the word grown cold for an extended period of time? Am I relying on my own efforts and strength to carry out this life that God has intended that we live in the strength of His Spirit? Again, all tough questions, but they are much needed questions if we are to live a fruitful Christian life and if we expect to finish well!

7) Know Your Progress in the Divine Life.

Commune with your own heart as to your progress in the divine life. It is impossible to know correctly the distance we are on our heavenward way, the stages we have travelled, the points we have reached, without self-communion. The mariner examines his ocean-chart, the traveller the milestones of the road, to mark the progress he has made homewards; how much more necessary this for the voyager to eternity, for the traveller to the heavenly Zion!

As he states beforehand, are we making progress in our spiritual pilgrimage? Are we currently moving forward or are we standing still? I think we will all agree that it takes little effort on our part to suddenly find ourselves in some bypath meadow that we had no idea we were even in! For example, we may be making sweet progress mining the depths of some particular doctrine such as the atonement or the holy Trinity and at some point, without us even being aware of it, we find our feet wandering down some path of error! Oh how we might then bewale ourselves for being so slothful to see how cumbersome we were in handling the word of God! We must constantly keep a watchful eye on our path to make sure it is leading towards our heavenly city.

8) Know the State of Your Heart Touching the Spirit of Thanksgiving and Praise.

Commune with your own heart to ascertain its state touching the existence and exercise of the spirit of thanksgiving and praise. There is scarcely any part of our religious experience that receives less attention and insight than this. And in consequence of its neglect, we lose much personal holiness, and God much glory.

We are so absorbed by the trials and discouragements of the Christian pilgrimage as to overlook its blessings and its helps.

I have exhorted you, beloved reader, to cultivate self-communion as to the matter of prayer; with equal point and earnestness do I exhort you to this holy duty as to the matter of praise. There exists a serious defect in the Christianity, a sad lack in the religious experience of many of the Lord’s people touching this holy exercise.

I am always to be in a thankful, praiseful spirit for all the dispensations of His providence and grace. What a holy state will my soul then be in! What happiness will it ensure to my heart, and what a revenue of glory will accrue to God! How will it lighten my burdens, soothe my cares, heal the chaffings of sorrow, and shed gleams of sunshine upon many a lonely, dreary stage of my journey. I am too little praiseful. I am looking only to the crossing of my will, to the disappointment of my hopes, to the foil of my plans, to what my Father sees fit to restrain and withhold, and not to the mercies and blessings, bright as the stars which glow and chime above me, and numerous as the sands of the ocean upon which in pensive sadness I tread; therefore it is that while those stars chant His praise, and those sands speak His goodness and power, I alone am silent!

Thanksgiving and praise can be tough to give in seasons of a particular trial or affliction, but we must understand that it is our heavenly Father working behind the scenes to use this time to mature and consecrate us all the more in our heavenly walk. Search yourself to see if you murmur more that you give thanks to a God who has given His that you might truly live and be made right with Him. Check your attitude frequently throughout the day to see if you are in a place where your heart wants to say “it’s not fair” or “why me” and quiet your soul enough to understand that this trial does not come to you by accident and that it sent to you directly from the hand of your Father to mold you more and more, from faith to faith, into the image and likeness of His one and only Son who gave Himself for you! When viewed in that light, your murmuring will be turned into praise!

9) Know with Certainty your Possession of Heart Religion.

If, my beloved reader, there is one caution which I would urge with deeper emphasis of meaning and solemnity of spirit than another, it is this—be not satisfied without the clearest evidence of the personal possession of HEART-RELIGION. In nothing does there exist a greater tendency, a more easy road to fatal self-destruction than in this. The substitutes for heart-religion are so many and subtle, that without the closest scrutiny and the most rigid analysis of religious feeling and action, we may be betrayed, unsuspectingly to ourselves, into the gravest error.

Examine yourself by these tests: Do I know that my sins are pardoned through Christ? Have I peace with God in Jesus? Am I living in the enjoyment of the Spirit of adoption? Have I in my soul the happiness, the joy, the consolation, the hope which heart-religion imparts? Or—solemn thought!—am I endeavouring to quiet my conscience, to stifle self-reflection, to divert my thoughts from my unsatisfactory, unhappy condition and state of mind by the religious substitutes and subterfuges with which the present age so profusely abounds, and which, with those who are ensnared by them, pass for real spiritual life? Oh, commune faithfully with your own heart touching this matter!

Not much to say here because he mostly touched on this way back in number one. But perhaps it needs to be stated again. Do you posses that true heart religion or is your religion all external and flash? Hard questions again, but they need to be asked!

10) Directions as to the Manner in which Self Communion is to be Engaged.

A. Seek earnestly the aid of the Holy Spirit

He alone can enable us to unlock the wards, to unravel the mystery, and to penetrate into the vailed depths of our own heart. We need the knowledge, the grace, the love of the Spirit in a task so purely spiritual as this. Let us, then, betake ourselves to the Holy Ghost, invoke His power, supplicate His grace, and seek His renewed anointing.

B. Blend communion with Christ with self-communion

Let converse with your own heart be in unison with converse with the heart of God. Endeavour to realize that in this sacred engagement God is with you, His thoughts towards you thoughts of peace, and the feelings of His heart the warm pulsations of His love. Associate all views of yourself with this view of God: that whatever discoveries you arrive at of waywardness and folly, idolatry and sin,—however dark and humiliating the inward picture,—not a frown of displeasure shall glance from His eye, nor a word of reproach breathe from His lips. Oh, do you think that He will join in your self-accusation? that because you loathe, and abhor, and condemn yourself, He will likewise loathe, abhor, and condemn you? Never.

C. Commune with your own heart, looking fully to the cross of Christ

Without this, self-examination may induce the spirit of bondage. It should never be entered upon but upon the principles, and in the spirit of the gospel. It is only as we deal closely with the Atonement, we can deal closely with sin. It is only as we deal faithfully with the blood, that we can deal faithfully with our own hearts. Overwhelming were the revelations of a rigid self-scrutiny but for the hold faith maintains of the sacrifice of Christ—the close, realizing apprehension it has of the cross of Jesus. You must commune with Christ’s heart and your own heart at the same moment! Looking at Jesus in the face, you will be enabled to look your sins in the face; and as your love to Him deepens, so will deepen your sin and self-abhorrence. As has been beautifully remarked, “for one look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ;” no dark discovery will then sink you to despair.

11) Blessings that result from this habit of self-communion.

A. It will help to keep you acquainted with the true state of your soul.

B. It will keep you whole nights upon your watch-tower, and the foe shall not surprise you

C. It will increasingly deepen the conviction of your individuality

D. You will have less time and still less inclination to examine and judge your fellows

E. It will greatly conduce to growth in personal holiness

F. It will also promote true humility

G. It will lead to self-acquaintance

H. How precious will Jesus grow with growing self-communion

To conclude, we will end with a bit of prose:

“And what am I? My soul awake,
And an impartial survey take;
Does no dark sign, no ground of fear,
In practice or in heart appear?

“What image does my spirit bear?
Is Jesus form’d and living there?
Say, do His lineaments divine
In thought, in word, and action shine?

“Searcher of hearts! oh, search me still;
The secrets of my soul reveal;
My fears remove, let me appear
To God and my own conscience clear!

“Scatter the clouds which o’er my head
Thick glooms of dubious terrors spread;
Lead me into celestial day,
And to myself myself display.

“May I at that blest world arrive
Where Christ through all my soul shall live,
And give full proof that He is there,
Without one gloomy doubt or fear!”

Next Week

Please read Chapter 9: Backsliders Returning to be due on March 21!



 

“Help Heavenward” Chapter 8: Self Communion

Help Heavenward

Chapter 8: Self Communion

“…Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still”—Psalm 4:4

It will be acknowledged by every spiritual and reflecting mind that the tendencies of the age are not the most favourable to the calm, solemn, holy duty of self-communion. We are fallen upon times of great religious, as well as worldly activity and excitement. So strong and rushing, indeed, is the tide, that there exists a fearful and fatal liability in those who profess to walk with God, as did Noah and Enoch, to neglect entirely one of the most essential and effectual helps heavenward—the due, faithful, and constant examination of the spiritual state and condition of their own hearts. To the consideration of this vitally-important subject—a subject so intimately entwined with our progress in the divine life—let us now address ourselves. The Divine precept is emphatic—“Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still;” or, as it is rendered in another and a beautiful version of the Psalms, “Commune with your own heart in your chamber, and be still?”—The Book of Common Prayer. Both renderings are good, but perhaps the latter conveys more distinctly and impressively the idea of retirement for self-communion. “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers,” is the invitation of God to His Church. Like to this is the Saviour’s exhortation—“When thou prayest, enter into thy closet.”
Continue reading ““Help Heavenward” Chapter 8: Self Communion”

The Octavius Winslow Reading Group: Help Heavenward (Chapter 7)

This glorious little chapter opens before us with the call from Winslow to search our hearts to see how we so often can be consumed with our cares and woes that we more times than not forget to look unto Jesus for our sweet relief.

But do you not, beloved reader, need to be put in constant remembrance of this divine secret of rest amidst toil, of repose amidst disquietude, of soothing amidst corroding cares, and of confidence and hope in the midst of change and depression? Bewildered and oppressed by the multitude of anxious thoughts within you, is there not a danger of being so absorbed by the care as to overlook the Caretaker? to forget the heart’s ease in the overwhelming of the heart’s anxiety? Verily we think so.

Although it may be easily stated that this inward looking to self may be contributed to our self-reliance, pride, and our own ability to cope with the issues that so easily press in around us, I think it may be more properly stated that it is in these moments that we just simply forget who we are in Christ and that in our feeble state we need constant reminding to lift up our heads to the Author and Perfector of our faith… no matter how weak that faith may presently be.

The cares of this life enter deeply into the carefulness of which the Lord seeks to lighten us. In proportion to the spiritual tone of the mind, and the closeness of the heart’s converse with God and heavenly realities, will be the tenderness of the believer to the chafing and pressure of temporal cares. The more heavenly we grow, the more acutely sensitive do we become to the encroachment and influence of earth and earthly things.

Such a blessed mark of God’s children, yet such a troublesome mark at the same time. When the regenerated soul and mind grows all the more acutely sensitive to the heavenly call with which it has been set to does the world and its troubles begin to bombard the believers mind as cannon fire to a ships hull. So earnestly do we now yearn and strive for heavenly thought and likeness, yet the sharp contrast of the world’s fallen state seems to becloud our souls to make us feel the remaining chains this worlds still holds us by. It becomes all too easy to sit and stew in our woe and discomfort and ultimately to forget that we are to still keep looking ahead of our current positions unto Jesus and where He now waits for us.

Then, there often presses upon the heart the anxiety to know the path of duty in which we should walk. This is no small care to the child of God. We are often brought to a stand-still, and are, as it were, at our wits’ end. Two paths, intersecting each other, diverging to the right and to the left, confront us, and we are perplexed to know which one we should take.

I think that this particular care can become overwhelmingly burdensome especially to babes in Christ who have not yet blossomed into the flowering maturity of being able to rest in the assurance that God is always working all things for our good and that He is worthy to be trusted in making our paths straight and sure. We live in a world and in a time where we want instant answers and resolutions to all of our problems and questions. To be able to wait on the Lord is indeed a grace much needed in our day!

But there are greater cares than these—the spiritual cares of the soul—which often press heavily upon the heart. You are anxious to know that you have an interest in Christ’s redeeming love,—that your name is written among the living in Jerusalem,—that your sins are pardoned,—that your person is adopted, accepted, saved,—and that after death you will reign with Jesus for ever. You are anxious, too, that your Christian walk should be obedient, perceptive, believing; that you should be more heavenly-minded, growing in knowledge, and grace, and divine conformity to the will of God and the image of Jesus. Ah! these are cares before which all others vanish into insignificance!

He who travailed in sorrow for your salvation is personally, tenderly cognizant of the anxious, the profoundly anxious, desire of your soul that there may not rest the shadow of a shade of doubt and uncertainty upon the fact of its everlasting safety. You are not alone in this soul-exercise. Jesus is with you. The travel of your heart after him, the panting of your spirit for His salvation, the longing of your soul for an assured interest in His love,—your tears, your sighs, your desires, your prayers, your watchings,—awaken in the heart of your Saviour the deepest, tenderest response.

I think we tend to view Jesus at many times like He is sort of just “out there” and that He would not be able to understand the soul sufferings we often go through. We could not be more wrong about that! We have a High Priest who is able to understand our weakness and concerns as He himself once walked in these paths at one time. He does indeed know the frailty of our faith at times and waits at all times for us to turn from our anxious ways and turn to Him for security and comfort in times of trouble.

But you will ask, How is this transfer of care to be made? In the directions which we suggest we would give prominence to the exercise of unquestioning faith. Here there must be a taking God at His word.

Will you, then, wound Him with your doubts, dishonour Him by your unbelief, and force from under you, buffeting, as you are, amidst the waves, this divine, sustaining plank—faith in the word and promise of the only true and living God?

The life blood which we believers now live upon is our faith. It is the muscle which is able to move mountains! And like any muscle, it must be exercised (tried) to become stronger. The word of God is the weight bench in which that muscle may now be built up and strengthened. To read the promises in the holy scriptures is one thing, but it is quite another to grab hold of them and to “lift them” again and again to strengthen our faith and thus increase our confidence and trust in Christ all the more. Doubts and anxiety begin to become more and more faint the more we exercise our faith in the gymnasium of the word of the Lord!

Not less potent is prayer as a mean of transferring care to God. God often sends the care to rouse us to call upon Him. We want an errand, and He sends a trial; we want an impulse, and He sends a sorrow; we want earnestness and importunity, and He sends the heavy and the continuous stroke—all His waves breaking over us. Prayer is the safety valve of the soul. The heart would break, the spirit would sink, despair would fold its dark shroud around us, but for the privilege of access to God through Christ.

The most obvious means of care transfer is that of prayer, yet, it is so often overlooked. While the trusting of a promise in the believers bosom is a much more secretive and discrete function, prayer requires the laying aside of all earthly duty and business and focusing our hearts care solely with our God. It is indeed true that we may send silent prayers to the Lord all throughout our day when the need arises, but nothing can replace prayer done in that special secret place in which the believers soul may become unhitched from this wilderness trial and may be brought into full communicative communion with our Lord who cares for us completely. Oh precious hour of prayer!

Winslow then concludes this chapter with a few observations of caution to his readers.

Do not anticipate care. By anticipating care, and thus antedating your future, you grieve the Spirit of God, wound your own peace, and unfit yourself for present duty and trial.

Sit not brooding over your state, deploring its existence, and lamenting your want of more faith, and grace, and love. Arise, responsive to the precept, and cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain both you and it. This inordinate absorption within yourself will bring to you no relief, no heart’s ease, and no nourishment to faith. One uplifted glance—one sight of Jesus—one believing touch of the promise of God, will bring more repose to your anxious spirit, more succor to your burdened mind, than a lifetime of self-absorption.

I love practical advice. And this is for sure good counsel from an experienced believer. To fret and worry for tomorrows provision is not only disobedience to a direct command of the Lord, but it only fuels the fire of anxiety within and fosters unbelief in the soul. You are so much important to Him than sparrows or blades of grass. You are bought with his Sons precious blood and He will not forsake the one whom He has applied the sacred blood upon! Trust Him for today. Trust Him for tomorrow. Trust Him for all!

Lastly, keep yourself from morbid naval gazing. This is an area in which I personally struggle mightily and have at times almost become paralyzed by my failures, shortcomings, and recurring sins. It is indeed healthy to examine oneself to test our spiritual condition and progress, but it must be tempered with a constant looking to the alien righteousness that is not of ourselves that is ultimately the substance which God now looks upon for our justification before Him!

Next Week

Please read Chapter 8: Self Communion which will be due on March 14!

 

 

Reading Group Update

For those of you reading along with me in the Winslow Reading Group, chapter 7 will be on Monday March 7 instead of February 28!

My family and I are going on vacation next week and I will not be able to write the new post. I was hoping to have it done this week, but it’s been very busy around the house with trying to get ready for the trip.

So I will see you guys back here on March 7!

“Help Heavenward” Chapter 7: Human Care Transfered to God

Help Heavenward

Chapter 7: Human Care Transfered to God

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you— 1 Peter 5:7

Were we to take the world’s estimate of the real value and happiness of a life of faith in God as the true one, how gloomy, joyless, and forlorn a life would it appear! The world imagines that there is nothing substantial, bright, or social in the religion of Christ—no reality, sunshine, or companionship! But how mistaken! We cite, as disproving this view, the precept we propose in this chapter to illustrate and enforce, which enjoins the transfer of human care to God. Where, in the world’s wilderness, grows the flower of heart’s ease as it blooms and blossoms here? “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” How full of soothing and repose are these words! What cares have they lightened,—what anxieties have they removed,—what burdens have they unclasped,—and what springs of joy and comfort and hope have they unsealed in many a sad and oppressed heart! But do you not, beloved reader, need to be put in constant remembrance of this divine secret of rest amidst toil, of repose amidst disquietude, of soothing amidst corroding cares, and of confidence and hope in the midst of change and depression? Bewildered and oppressed by the multitude of anxious thoughts within you, is there not a danger of being so absorbed by the care as to overlook the Caretaker? to forget the heart’s ease in the overwhelming of the heart’s anxiety? Verily we think so. Hagar, pining with thirst, and blinded by grief, saw not the well of water flowing at her side. The disciples in the storm, filled with alarm, and absorbed by fear, recognized not the Lord Jesus walking to them upon the waves which threatened the foundering of their vessel. Thus often is it with us—thus may it be now with you. We look at the want, and not at Him who supplies it; at the storm, and not at Him who controls it; at the care, and not at Him who assumes it. Is not the voice of the Lord mightier than the voice of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea? Is not the Caretaker greater than the care itself? Yet how we limit the Holy One, and magnify and multiply our cares, anxieties, and sorrows! But for the immutability of our redeeming God, whose unseen hand guides, and whose power, almost insensible to ourselves, sustains us, our care would consume us. How often we are upheld, we scarcely know by whom; kept in peace, we scarcely know how; preserved in safety, we scarcely know why. But “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him;” and, sooner or later, we learn that Jesus has done it all, and has done it for His own glory. Fain would I, beloved reader, proffer you a little help heavenward by inciting you to this transfer of anxious thought and chafing care to God. Lightened a little of your burden, with a more trustful heart and gladsome spirit you will speed your way homeward to that heaven of perfect repose, upon whose threshold you will leave the last anxious thought, and lay down the last earthly care, your weary, panting soul pillowed in eternal repose.

Continue reading ““Help Heavenward” Chapter 7: Human Care Transfered to God”

The Octavius Winslow Reading Group: Help Heavenward (Chapter 6)

Note: For some more insight regarding the subject of trial and affliction, please see the recent series entitled “The Preciousness of Trial” from the book The Precious Things of God. There are lots of great insights to be had in this series!

There are few things in the spiritual history of the child of God more really helpful heavenward than sanctified trial.

Affliction is to the believer what the wing is to the lark, and what the eye is to the eagle,—the means by which the soul mounts in praise heavenward, gazing closely and steadily upon the glorious Sun of righteousness.

In the case of the unregenerate, all afflictions are a part and parcel of the curse, and work naturally against their good; but in the case of the regenerate, they are, in virtue of the covenant of grace, transformed into blessings, and work spiritually for their good. Just as the mountain stream, coursing its way, meets some sanative mineral by which it becomes endowed with a healing property, so afflictions, passing through the covenant, change their character, derive a sanctifying property, and thus become a healing medicine to the soul.

Pick up any book of Winslow’s and I can guarantee you that you will run into the subject of sanctifying affliction at some point. This is a subject he knew all too well I am afraid. He pastored a small church in the rough Bowery section of New York City during the beginning of the 19th century, lost his father at a young age, and would later lose 3 children within a year of one another…two of which were baby girls. Winslow’s spiritual vision was well acclimated to the dark valleys of this life and he was able to see the sanctifying graces contained within them. For the unregenerate, these afflictions are simply byproducts of the curse we all share in common with Adam. For the believer in the Lord Jesus, however, these blows were meant to bind up the soul to God and bring it into submission to a Father’s love that would have that soul to be set apart wholly unto Christ.

Thus we find tribulation the ancient and beaten path of the Church of God. “A great cloud of witnesses” all testify to sorrow as the ordained path to heaven.

Who would not sail to glory in the same vessel with Jesus and His disciples, tossed though that vessel be amidst the surging waves of life’s troubled ocean? All shall arrive in heaven as last, “some on boards, some on broken pieces of the ship, but all safe to land.”

It is not a matter if we will suffer, but when and for how long Winlsow seems to state here. Suffering is the blessed way of the cross and all who desire to walk her paths must indeed bear her stripes. Though it is true Jesus has taken our punishment and wrath in our place and brought us nigh to God, our sufferings and trials are meant to serve us a good and wholesome purpose… to draw us heavenward and to detach us from the things of this world.

Our first remark, then, with regard to trial is, that it is a time of spiritual instruction, and so a help heavenward.

Now, the school of trial is the school of spiritual knowledge. We grow in knowledge of ourselves, learning more of our superficial attainments, shallow experience, and limited grace. We learn, too, more of our weakness, emptiness, and vileness, the plough-share of trial penetrating deep into the heart and throwing up its veiled iniquity. And oh, how does this deeper self-knowledge lay us low, humble and abase us; and when our self-sufficiency and our self-seeking and our self-glorying is thus mowed down, then the showers of the Saviour’s grace descend “as rain upon the mown grass,” and so we advance in knowledge and holiness heavenward. Trial, too, increases our acquaintance with Christ. We know more of the Lord Jesus through one sanctified affliction than by all the treatises the human pen ever wrote.

Oh yes, times of trial are times of growth in experimental knowledge. We see God and Jesus and truth from new standpoints, and in a different light, and we thank the Lord for the storm which dispelled the mist that hid all this glory, unveiling so lovely a landscape and so serene a sky to our view.

To know ones self, that is, to see ourselves as God sees us apart from Christ is a double-edged sword indeed. It is a deeply humiliating and soul wrenching work of the highest order. To see the absolute vileness and depravity that lies within our very beings would drive us mad were it not for the restraining and comforting grace of our Lord. But it is this sight and this vision that will, by grace,  most assuredly make us flee to the Savior hanging upon the tree and trust in His atoning sacrifice to wash us from all of our impurity. Blessed day when we first learned of our wretched condition and sped to the Saviors feet in utter self-abasement and weakness! This, readers, is a taste of the experimental knowledge Winslow so often writes of. To experience this inner soul blackness and to be able to feel it breathing within ourselves and to know that there is One who has washed us in His blood and made us white as snow. This is the blessed man.

Trial quickens us in prayer, and so effectually helps us heavenward.

But precious and costly as is this privilege of prayer, we need rousing to its observance. Trial is eminently instrumental of this. God often sends affliction for the accomplishment of this one end—that we might be stirred up to take hold of Him.

I really can’t put it much better than these two excerpts. When a seaman is in stormy seas and the waves break over his head and crash onto the main decks, what will he naturally do? He will lay hold to that which is closest to him and that which is unmovable so that he may not be washed overboard. When trials come to us and it seems as though the breakers of God’s discipline burst upon our heads, we are brought to our knees to lay hold of He who is unshakable!

Trials are necessary to wean us from the world. Perhaps nothing possesses so detaching, divorcing an effect in the experience of the Christian as affliction. The world is a great snare to the child of God. Its rank is a snare, its possessions are a snare, its honours are a snare, its enterprises are a snare, the very duties and engagements of daily life are a snare, to a soul whose citizenship is in heaven, and whose heart would fain be more frequently and exclusively where Jesus, its treasure, is.

But God in wisdom and mercy sends us trial to detach us from earth, to lessen our worldly-mindedness, more deeply to convince us how empty and insufficient is all created good when His chastening is upon us, to intensify our affection for spiritual things, and to bring our souls nearer to Himself.

The world, the flesh, and the devil are our sworn enemies here on earth. To help speed us heavenward, God chooses to send afflictions to break the earthly bonds and throw down idols we have erected in our hearts. John Calvin once stated that “our hearts are continuous idol factories”. Do you agree? I know I do! So often do I find myself so easily inserting some worldly idol onto the “heart throne” within and before I know it, I find myself in some strange bypath meadow and that I have no idea how I got into it! Graces seem to have grown cold and the Lord seems to be light years away! After tasting from the broken cisterns of the world and have smarted from its hollow love, I flee again to Jesus and as always, He is only but one glance away.

The moral purity of heart (personal holiness) which chastened trial produces must have a distinct and prominent place in this enumeration of helps heavenward. Holiness, as it is an essential element of heaven, becomes an essential element in our spiritual meetness for its enjoyment.

To this end let us welcome God’s purifying agent—sanctified trial. When He causes us to walk in the midst of trouble, let us be submissive, humble, obedient. Resignation to the Divine will secures the end God intends to accomplish—our personal and deeper holiness. So long as we cherish an unsubmissive, rebellious spirit, the medicine will not cure, the, lesson will not instruct, the agent will not work its mission; in a word, our purity of heart will not be promoted. In the words of Rutherford, “When God strikes, let us beware of striking back again; for God will always have the last blow.”

There may be real holiness in the midst of innate unholiness; purity encircled by indwelling impurity; an intense thirst, an ardent prayerfulness for sanctification, and some measure of its attainment, in a soul far, very far, from having arrived at a state of perfect and entire sinlessness. Does not the earnest desire, for holiness, and the constant struggle for sanctification, prove the existence and indwelling power of evil in the saints of God? Most assuredly. And the Lord the Spirit discovers to us more and more of the inbeing and evil of sin, unvails to us more vividly the chambers of abomination, that we may be the more intently set upon the great work of sanctification, that we may deal more closely with the blood, and be more earnest and importunate in our cry, “Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.”

Finally, Winslow touches on the personal holiness which derives from much personal afflictions. How so? By resigning our own will to His. Confusion and anxiety can easily take root in the hearts and minds of Zion’s mourners during trial, but the trial is sent that the believer may resign his ways to a loving and all-knowing Father who knows what is best for the believer’s growth and maturity. Thus, the desirable fruits of humility, meekness, submissiveness, and obedience begin to blossom upon the branches of the afflicted soul. Dare we ask if our Father does not know what is best for us?

Conclusion

If this be the path to glory, this the evidence of adoption, this the example my Saviour has left me, and this the help heavenward which sanctified trial brings—the steps by which I climb, the wings with which I mounts the door through which I enter as a sinner pardoned through the blood and justified by the righteousness of Christ—then, oh then, my Father, THY WILL, NOT MINE, BE DONE!

No cross, no crown.

If we want and expect to see the sunny shores of our long awaited heavenly Zion, we must walk in the same steps of not only countless scores of past saints who have gone ahead of us, but the way of our Master as well. Take heart believer! Take courage afflicted mourner! You are well on your way and the trials and afflictions you currently bear shall be for you the bitter waters you must now drink to later taste of the sweet fruits of your King’s far off lands.

Next Week

Please read Chapter 7 Human Care Transfered to God for February 28!