Grace Gems for September 2001

 
Our desire.   Our intention.
(from Octavius Winslow's, "The Fullness of Christ")

Our desire is that the Holy Spirit, who is the Divine
Revealer and Interpreter of Christ and His truth, may
impart to your hearts a sober, spiritual and sanctifying
receptivity of His Word; abasing self, and exalting Christ!

Our intention is to unfold and illustrate the Lord Jesus
Christ in the relation in which He stands to His people, to
unveil His glory, beauty, and fullness, to define the close
bond of union that unites to Him all His brethren, and to
bring you into a more personal realization of what Christ
is to you, and of what you are to Christ.
 

Christ's garden
(by Spurgeon)

"I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse." Song of Solomon 5:1
The heart of the believer is Christ's garden. He bought it with His precious blood, and He enters it and claims it as His own.

A garden implies separation. It is not the open common; it is not a wilderness; it is walled around, or hedged in. Would that we could see the wall of separation between the church and the world made broader and stronger. It makes one sad to hear Christians saying, "Well, there is no harm in this; there is no harm in that," thus getting as near to the world as possible. Grace is at a low ebb in that soul which can even raise the question of how far it may go in worldly conformity.

A garden is a place of beauty, it far surpasses the wild uncultivated lands. The genuine Christian must seek to be more excellent in his life than the best moralist, because Christís garden ought to produce the best flowers in all the world. Even the best is poor compared with Christís deservings; let us not put Him off with withering and dwarf plants. The rarest, richest, choicest lilies and roses ought to bloom in the place which Jesus calls His own.

The garden is a place of growth. The saints are not to remain undeveloped, always mere buds and blossoms. We should grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Growth should be rapid where Jesus is the Husbandman, and the Holy Spirit the dew from above.

A garden is a place of retirement. So the Lord Jesus Christ would have us reserve our souls as a place in which He can manifest Himself, as He does not unto the world. O that Christians were more retired, that they kept their hearts more closely shut up for Christ! We often worry and trouble ourselves, like Martha, with much serving, so that we have not the room for Christ that Mary had, and do not sit at His feet as we should. The Lord grant the sweet showers of His grace to water His garden this day.
 

The image and reflection of Christ!
(Winslow, "A Full Christ for Empty Sinners")

As Christ is taken into our hearts by faith,
He becomes a part of our moral nature, an
integrated element of our spiritual being.
Consequently we grow Christ-like, or rather,
Christ grows in us. We become more holy, more
meek, more gentle, more humble; in a word,
the image of our Lord is more developed in
us, and we grow less man-like and more
God-like; and the quietness of our spirit, and
the courtesy of our demeanor, and the lowliness
of our minds, and the gentle, winning sweetness
of our whole carriage and  speech are but the
image and reflection of Christ!
 

Why, then, these fears? Why this distrust?
(Winslow, "The Glory of Christ in Heaven")

Jesus has all the treasures of the everlasting
covenant, all the fulness of the Godhead, all
the resources of the universe in His keeping,
and at His disposal!

Look at the starry sky; Jesus strewed it with its jewelry.

Look at that enchanting landscape; Jesus enameled it with its loveliness.

Look at that cloud capped mountain; Jesus reared it.

Look at that beauteous lily; Jesus painted it.

Look at that soaring bird; Jesus feeds it.

He, with whom is all this strength and beauty,
is your Brother. Are you not better and dearer
to Him than these? He has loved and chosen you
from all eternity, ransomed you with His blood,
and inhabited you by His Spirit.

Why, then, these fears? Why this distrust?

All He requires of you is to bring....
  to His fulness your emptiness;
  to His sympathy your grief;
  to His unerring wisdom your embarrassment; and
  to His sheltering wing your temptations and trials.

Spread your case before Him in the humble
confidence of a child. Listen to His words:
"I am the Lord God that brought you up out
 of the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide,
 and I will fill it."
 

Lean hard!
(from Winslow's, "The Burden Cast upon God")

"Cast your burden upon the Lord, and
 He shall sustain you." Psalm 55:22.

It is by an act of simple, prayerful faith we
transfer our cares and anxieties, our sorrows
and needs, to the Lord.

Jesus invites you come and lean upon
Him, and to lean with all your might upon
that arm that balances the universe, and
upon that bosom that bled for you upon
the soldier's spear!

But you doubtingly ask, "Is the Lord able to do this
thing for me?" And thus, while you are debating a
matter about which there is not the shadow of a
shade of doubt, the burden is crushing your gentle
spirit to the dust.

And all the while Jesus stands at your side and
lovingly says, "Cast your burden upon Me and
I will sustain you. I am God Almighty. I bore
the load of your sin and condemnation up the
steep of Calvary, and the same power of
omnipotence, and the same strength of love that
bore it all for you then, is prepared to bear your
need and sorrow now.  Roll it all upon Me!"

"Child of My Love!  Lean hard!  Let Me feel the
pressure of your care.  I know your burden, child!
I shaped it- I poised it in My own hand and made
no proportion of its weight to your unaided strength.
For even as I laid it on, I said I shall be near, and
while she leans on Me, this burden shall be Mine,
not hers.  So shall I keep My child within the circling
arms of My own love.  Here lay it down!  Do not
fear to impose it on a shoulder which upholds the
government of worlds!  Yet closer come!  You are
not near enough!  I would embrace your burden,
so I might feel My child reposing on My breast.
You love Me!  I know it.  Doubt not, then.  But,
loving me, lean hard!"
 

Bring your sorrows to Me
(From Octavius Winslow's, "Bring him unto
Me; or, Help and Salvation Only in Christ")

"Bring him here unto ME."  Matthew 17:17

In your moment of disappointment and despair,
Jesus meets you with the gracious words, "Bring
it here unto me." And now your spirit revives,
your heart bounds, at the words, and you exclaim,
"Behold, Lord, I come."

Jesus says, "Bring your sorrows to Me."
Never did the soul find so powerful a magnet,
attracting to itself affliction in every form, and
sorrow in every shade, as Jesus.

Standing as in the center of a world of woe,
He invites every daughter of sorrow, of sin,
of grief to repair to Him for succor, sympathy,
and healing.

As the High Priest of His Church for whom
alone He suffered, and wept, and sobbed;
He unveils a bosom capacious enough and
loving enough, and sympathizing enough,
to embrace every sufferer, and to pillow
every grief.

Accept, then, His compassionate invitation,
and bring your grief to the soothing, sustaining,
sanctifying grace of His heart.
 

Creature idolatry
(From Octavius Winslow's, "Bring him unto
Me; or, Help and Salvation Only in Christ")

This is what the Lord says: "Cursed are those
who put their trust in mere humans and turn
their hearts away from the Lord." Jeremiah 17:5

We trust either in our own selves or in others,
until God writes upon our human dependence
the sentence of death.

Thus the Lord empties us of our heart's idolatry,
teaches us the weakness of human power, withers
the arm and dries up the spring of creature help,
that He might but draw us to Himself.

Accept, as sent in love to you, child of God, the
painful and humiliating discipline of your heavenly
Father, which has destroyed all your creature
confidences, broken your beautiful vessels and
blasted your pleasant gourds of created good.

Oh, never did Jesus evince His love to you as now!

Were not His desire towards you, were He not
jealous of your love, and did He not wish to make
you supremely happy by bringing you to seek and
find that happiness supremely in Himself, then
would He have allowed you to follow after your
lovers, giving you up to the creature idolatry
of your too fond and clinging heart.

How seldom do we repair to Jesus with our
burdens, perplexities, and needs until we
have tried any and every other resource.

So earthly and carnal beings are we, that if
we can but attach ourselves in seasons of
conscious sorrow and need and weakness to
another creature, however frail the object
and feeble the hold, we would rather do so
than trust in the invisible God. We bear our
burden first to the creature rather than directly
and immediately to Jesus Himself.

When all human power failed, and all creature
resources dried, and men or angels could not
help us, we only then turn to Jesus.

"Bring him here unto ME."  Matthew 17:17

It is the highest as the sweetest privilege of
the believer to bring all to Jesus; to come,
though He be a last resource; to come, though
filled with shame and penitence at not having
come to Him before, at not having come to
Him at first, yet to come bearing the burden,
unveiling the grief, disclosing the need to Jesus.

Do not take your burdened heart to minister, nor to
saints, nor to sacraments, nor to religious duties,
nor to pious services; all, all these, are vain helpers,
having no power to lighten you of the burden.

Let us endeavor to strengthen and encourage
you, my reader, in this holy and helpful privilege
of bringing to Jesus what, in all probability, you
have brought in vain to man.

Imagine the Lord addressing these words to you,
"Bring it here unto me." The invitation, perhaps,
finds you in deep need, in overwhelming distress,
at a critical crisis of your history. Human power
has proved helpless, friends faithless, plans futile,
and you are at your wits' end.

Do not be ashamed to take your case to Jesus,
even though you have gone first to human help.

It is His glory to step in and achieve a work and
bestow a blessing when all human power and
resources have failed. He loves to unlock His
treasury when man's is utterly exhausted.

Go, then, fall at His feet, and tell Him you have
tried all other help, and all has failed you, and
at last you come to Him.

In a word, Jesus bids you bring all to Him....
your depression and despondency,
the sadness of your heart,
the anxieties of your mind,
the wounds of friends,
the calumnies of foes,
the assaults of man,
your fear of death and
your dread of judgment.

All, all He invites to the asylum of His
love, to the arm of His power, and to
the fullness of His sufficiency.

No word of upbraiding will fall from His
lip, no look of anger dart from His eye.

Well will He remember how you leaned upon
the arm of human power and it failed you, how
you reposed upon the heart of human love and
it disappointed you, how you resorted to human
skill and it could not cure.

And now, in the deepest, tenderest sympathy
with your blighted hopes, your wounded affections,
your disappointed plans, He would sincerely uplift
the flower crushed and trampled in the dust, and,
bathing it in the dew of His grace, place it in His
sheltering bosom, to freshen and to bloom forever
beneath the warm sunshine of His smile.
 

Sweet truth is this!
(From Winslow's, "Christ's Knowledge
of His People; Their Ignorance of Him")

Our highest source of comfort lies,
not in our knowledge of Christ,
but in Christ's knowledge of us.

We too imperfectly deal with Jesus personally.

We too little bring our individual sorrows,
 needs, and circumstances to Christ.

And yet what a comforting truth is this, and
not comforting only, but deeply sanctifying:
Jesus knows me personally,
Jesus has my name on His heart,
Jesus has my position in His mind,
Jesus has my circumstances in His eye,
Jesus is acquainted with my individual state in society,
  with my trials, temptations, sorrows, and needs.

Such is His individual and discriminating knowledge;
He knows me as if I were the only one He owns and
acknowledges on earth!

Sweet truth is this!

If you retire to your chamber to brood in solitude
and silence over your lonely griefs, perhaps, with
the sad thought, "no one knows me, no one
sympathizes with me, no one is acquainted with
my case, I am like a sparrow alone on the house
top. I pray, and sigh, and groan in lonely places,
and no one cares for my soul."

Oh, beloved child of God, there is One who knows
you, knows your name, your position, your griefs,
your temptations, your loneliness, who says,
"I know their sorrows," -it is Jesus.

Lord, are you acquainted with such a poor, sinful worm as I?

Do you, Lord, care for me; think of me; love me?

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is like Yourself, Divine!

"The foundation of God stands fast, having
this seal, the Lord knows those who are His."

Here is your comfort, your safety, and your hope:
   Jesus knows you,
   Jesus is acquainted with you,
   Jesus has His unslumbering eye upon you,
and you can be in no circumstance of sorrow,
of peril, of darkness, and of need, in which
Christ shall not know and recognize you as
His child, and most dearly beloved.

Let the thought of Christ's knowledge of us
be an ever present, ever abiding remembrance.

When darkness or sorrow veils Him from our view,
still let us cling to the truth that He knows us;
and when sin would tempt, and the world seduce,
and the creature ensnare, and some false attraction
would disturb the central fixedness of our heart on
Christ, oh, let the solemn truth that Jesus knows
us then instantly break the spell, dissolve the
enchantment, and win back the soul to its
allegiance and love!
 

What an angel's tongue never can unfold!
(Winslow, "The Glory of Christ in Heaven")

It is splendid when we are led by the Eternal Spirit
into a heartfelt acquaintance with the riches and
fullness of the gospel.  There is no spiritual need
of the soul which the provisions of the gospel of
Jesus do not meet....
  for our wounds it is a balm;
  for our fears it is a cordial;
  for our battles it is an armor;
  for our soul's hunger and thirst it is manna
    from heaven and water from the Rock.

"O Lord, we bless You for the gospel! It is a
feast of fat things, a mine of inexhaustible
wealth, a spring of all consolation, a good
and pleasant land, bathed in the sunshine
and laden with the fruit of eternal summer."

O beloved, into what a rich, spiritual condition
Jesus brings us when He brings us into experimental
acquaintance with Himself!  Oh, to know Jesus;
to have the least degree of a spiritual, a heartfelt
acquaintance with Christ; a full Christ, a present
Christ, a compassionate Christ, a powerful Christ;
is what an angel's tongue never can unfold!

But, beloved, we would have you know into what
spiritual wealth, bounty, and peace you are brought
when in the least degree you are enabled to realize
what Christ is to you.

Do you, amid life's trials and earth's cares,
consider the possessions you have in Jesus?
What a Savior!
What a Redeemer!
What a Brother!
What a Friend!
What an Advocate!
What a Counselor!
What a loving heart loves you!
What a sleepless eye watches over you!
What a full hand supplies you!
What a present help in every time of need!
 

The garden of the soul
(Winslow, "The Church of God, a Garden")

Look well to the condition of your soul!

Whatever else is neglected, allow no neglect here.

Your spiritual state infinitely outweighs every
other consideration. Nothing demands more
incessant watchfulness, pruning, weeding, and
irrigation; since nothing is so susceptible of
decay, as the garden of the soul.

Guard against.....
  the world's blight,
  the canker worm of covetousness,
  the nipping frost of carnal association, and
  the withering heat of religious professional excitement,
lest the lamentation of old should again be heard:
"They made me the keeper of the vineyard,
  but my own vineyard have I not kept."
 

His uplifted dart is inexorable!
(From Octavius Winslow's, "A Good Man's
 Misinterpretation of a Dark Providence")

We are born to die.

The treasured ones around us have within them
the seeds, and upon them the sentence, of death.

The brilliant eye, the roseate cheek, the vermilion
lip, the tall, graceful form shooting up, as in a night,
like a cedar, are often to a skillful and discerning
glance, but as flowers blooming for the tomb.

Our home circles, with all the powerful barriers
which affection and influence can cast around them;
guarded as by angel sentinels of love; are not a
security against the entrance of 'the king of terrors'.

Youth cannot resist him.
Beauty cannot awe him.
Wealth cannot bribe him.
Eloquence cannot persuade him.
Learning cannot confound him.
Skill cannot baffle him.
Tears cannot move him.
Religion cannot evade his icy touch.

To all this, his uplifted dart is inexorable!

He takes....
  the prince from the throne,
  the ruler from the state,
  the orator from the senate,
  the judge from the bench,
  the minister from the pulpit,
  the head from the family,
  the mother from the home,
  the babe from its mother's arms.
None, none are spared!

Do you see....
  that vacant chair?
  those unread books?
  those portraits on the wall?
  that treasured locket?
  that unworn apparel?

What do they mean?

Oh, how sad, how touching their mute, expressive
eloquence! They remind us of the departed. They
tell of the eternal land where they have fled, where
they will return not again until time be no more.

But what is this sad visitation of bereavement,
but one of the appointed dispensations of our
heavenly Father, sent in unerring wisdom,
righteousness, and love?
 

Luxuriating forever!

(Winslow, "The Glory of Christ in Heaven")

Beloved, the Lord Jesus intends that His
people shall be near unto Him in heaven.

His satisfaction of soul will not be complete
until He clusters around Him in glory all for
whom His soul travailed in suffering on earth.

Nothing shall separate Him from His people!

Not a jewel from His crown, not a lamb from the
fold, shall be missing from the Father's house!

You will drink of the pure river of the water of
life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne
of God and of the Lamb!

You will eat of the fruit of the tree of life in
the midst of the paradise of God, yielding
its fruit every month!

You will....
  behold Christ in His glory,
  enjoy God forever,
  be perfected in purity, and
  swim in the ocean of infinite and eternal blessedness!

There Jesus will take you, dear saints of God.

And there shall be....
  no more exile,
  no more sorrow,
  no more neediness,
  no more parting,
  no more sickness,
  no more death, and
  no more sin.

You will be luxuriating forever amid the
glories and plenitude of the new Jerusalem!
 

The true test of the spiritual state of our souls!
(From Octavius Winslow's, "The Desire to See Jesus")

Christ once seen by faith becomes an object
of ever growing desire. The believing soul is
never satisfied with the sight it has had of Jesus.

The Apostle Paul saw Jesus as none of the
others had seen Him; and yet this was still
his great desire, "that I may know Him."

Thus the desires of the renewed soul
after Christ are unlimited and insatiable,
and will never be satisfied until it beholds
Him in glory; nor even then!

Eternity will be occupied with Jesus; in contemplating
His person, in admiring His beauty, in beholding His
glory, in studying His work, and in sweetly chanting
his high praise.

But the Christ loving soul wants
to realize more of Jesus now;
  more of His love and loveliness;
  more of His grace and graciousness;
  more of the fitness and completeness of His sacrifice;
  more of His manifested presence and sacred communion.

There does not exist a stronger evidence of
our union with Christ, and of our interest in
His salvation than this one ardent desire of
the soul after Him.

Our views and thoughts and aspirations
concerning Jesus constitute the true
test of the spiritual state of our souls!

Let this, then, evidence the reality of your conversion,
and the healthfulness of your growing state; namely,
your longings after Christ, your deepening desire to
see more of Jesus, to have more real transaction with
Him by faith, closer fellowship with Him, and to exalt
Him more warmly and supremely upon the throne of
your love!
 

The sympathetic love of the Incarnate God!
(Winslow, "Christ's Love at the Grave of Lazarus")

"Jesus wept."  John 11:36

These are among the most wonderful words
recorded in the Bible. They mark the most
exquisitely tender, touching, and expressive
incident in His whole life.

"Jesus wept," wept from emotion, wept from
sympathy. Is there a more consolatory, soothing
view of Christ's love than this?

It is a compassionate, sympathizing, weeping love.

The sympathy of Jesus never wearies or slumbers,
it never chills or forgets. It entwines with our every
cross, attaches to our every burden, and frosts
with sparkling light, each darkling cloud. It is not the
vapid sentiment of fiction, nor the morbid sympathy
of romance. It is a divine-human reality.  It is
the sympathetic love of the Incarnate God!

Let your faith, then, repose with confidence on
the reality of Christ's sympathy with your grief.

Oh how sacred and precious are the tears of divine
love, the tears of Jesus! Soothed and sustained by
such a sympathy as Christ's, we may well drink
meekly the cup our Father mingles; we can well
afford to be severed from all other sympathy, and
weep out our sorrow in lonely places; Jesus weeping
with us by the couch of languor, by the bed of
darkness, and at the grave of buried love.

O you afflicted one, tossed with tempest and not
comforted, refuse not this cup of consolation which
the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, would give you; the
sympathy of your Lord and Savior, your Friend and
Brother in the time of your calamity. Yield yourself
to its irresistible power, and it will draw you
submissively to His feet, and hush to rest your
sobbing heart upon His bosom!
 

Love flowing from a sight of the cross!
The following is from Octavius Winslow's sermon, "The
Disciple Washing Christ's Feet, or, The Service of Love"

"A certain immoral woman heard Jesus was there
and brought a beautiful jar filled with expensive
perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet,
weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped
them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his
feet and putting perfume on them."  Luke 7:37-38

She washed Christ's feet with the tears of grateful
love. Jesus had pardoned all her sins, had absolved
her from their guilt, and had released her from their
power. How natural was the feeling of gratitude,
how appropriate this service of love!

The most genuine contrition for sin flows from a
sense of its forgiveness. Nothing breaks the heart
so thoroughly as the experience of God's pardoning
love, love flowing from a sight of the cross!
 

Human guidance
(from Winslow's, "The Fragrance of Christ's Name")

We have need to be on our watch against the powerful influence of spiritual mentors, lest, fascinated by the fame of some popular leader, we become the willing dupes of a childish superstition, or the blind followers of a fatal error.

Do not take your views of Divine truth from man; draw them primarily from God's Word. Do not study the Bible through your theological system, but let your system be taken from, and faithfully weighed with, the Bible. Our theological system must not be allowed to give its complexion to, or to be the interpreter of, revealed truth. But, on the contrary, God's Word is to suggest and mold and tint all our thoughts and opinions and systems.

We must not set the sun by our watch; but our watch by the sun. In other words, we must not attempt to make God's Word dovetail with our creed, but must test every doctrine we hold, every opinion we receive, every principle we maintain, the hope we cherish, by the unerring standard of revealed truth. This will give a Divine and proper complexion to our views.

If we receive the light of the sun through a tinted lens, the light will necessarily reflect the hue of the medium through which it passes. So, if we receive the light of God's Word through any theological system whatever, it will necessarily reflect the error and imperfection, if such there be, of that system. And thus we shall fail to receive the teaching of God as it flows pure and simple from His Word, as light flows from the sun, and as streams from the fountain.

The Bible is our rule of faith and our only and ultimate appeal. By the law and the testimony let every doctrine, and system, and hope for eternity be tried. Be not, then, carried away by the learning, the influence, or even the piety attaching to a popular name. Allow no human leader the mastery of your mind and conscience.

Yield yourself meekly and obediently to the authority and teaching of Christ, accepting human guidance only so far as it comes with a "thus says the Lord" as its divine endorsement.

Our only safeguard in a matter of such infinite moment as our future well being, is God's pure Word; our only secure place, the feet of the Savior. Sitting there as His lowly disciple, the Holy Spirit will lead our minds into the truth, even "the truth as it is in Jesus," as it emanates from Jesus, as it speaks of Jesus, as it strengthens our faith in, and inspires our love to, Jesus, and as it prepares us to go and be with Jesus forever.
 

The children of wrath!

(Octavius Winslow, "I Am Jesus; or, Christ's
 Conversion of Paul a Christian Evidence.")

We are all by nature, the children of wrath.
There breathes not an individual of our race
who is not involved in the fall and wreck of
humanity; whose nature is not originally and
totally alienated and depraved, tainted by sin
and accursed of God; who, dying in that state,
unrenewed, unconverted by the Holy Spirit, must
pass into eternity but to endure its inconceivable,
indescribable, and never ending woe.
 

Our poor, famished, craving, destitute nature!
(From Octavius Winslow's, "Go to Jesus")

Why this air of restlessness which pervades
our nature? Why this look of dissatisfaction
imprinted on every countenance? Why those
deep furrows on every brow? Why this universal
cry of our humanity, "Who will show us any good?"

What! can you find no good in this vast universe
that God has formed?   Ah, no! Man finds all
'created good' to be but a broken cistern.

He hews out cistern after cistern, sets up enterprise
after enterprise, devises new plans of happiness,
each one more promising than the other, and still
his soul is filled with one vast, aching void....
  the heart restless,
  the spirit anxious, and
  the mind dissatisfied.

And so our poor, famished, craving, destitute nature
travels round the circle of all 'created' blessing, and
terminates the journey by reiterating the plaintive
cry, "Who will show us any good?"

There is a universal existence in our race of a need.
That need is happiness; a need for something that
will meet the intense yearning, and craving of our
spiritual, moral, and intellectual being.

Some seek it in the gay world, some in the sensual
world, others in the intellectual world, others more
in the political world, and there are not a few who
are seeking it in what is termed conventionally the
religious world.

These have little or no taste for the world's gaieties,
less for intellectual pursuits, and still less ambition
to climb the steep of human distinction and carve
their name on some lofty column.

But they seek to meet the yearning, the panting, and
the craving of their nature in a religion of their own;
and religious duties, religious engagements, religious
excitement, and religious rites and ceremonies, are
eagerly sought and sedulously cultivated, with a view
of meeting this spiritual craving for that which will give
repose and satisfaction to the soul.

Oh, we beseech you, keep your eye on the fine
line of distinction between a soul only thirsting
for 'religion', and a soul spiritually hungering and
thirsting for Christ.

Now, what is the one grand requirement of the soul?

What will meet this deep, intense craving?

Is it wealth? It has been tried to its utmost, and
found lacking. Ask the millionaire, and he will tell
you the toil of obtaining it, the risk of investing it,
the fear of losing it, and the thought of leaving it,
robs him of all comfort in the possession of it, and
that thus riches are utterly incompetent to make
their possessor happy.

Is it the world? Ah, no! It has been searched and
ransacked through and through, and can scarcely
afford a single new source of pleasure or enjoyment.
One could sometimes smile, were the spectacle
not too awful, at the puerile, childish expedients
to which the worldling resorts to meet this intense
craving of the mind. See the bubbles be blows, the
baubles he chases, the straws he gathers, while
the Son of God holds out a jeweled crown to the
aspirant for true glory, honor, and immortality.

Can another person supply it? Ask him who has found
the noblest, the dearest that earth ever afforded, if
that angel of intellect and beauty, before whom the
soul burns the incense of adoration, has filled this
deep and aching void.  What a hallucination, what
a fantasy, what a mockery is all this!  The mirage
of the desert not more deceptive!

The soul of man needs the Gospel, and nothing but
the Gospel of Christ will meet its spiritual and deep
necessities!  Nothing but the Gospel will uplift,
ennoble, sanctify, and save our fallen, famishing,
and crushed race!

Nothing short of the glorious Gospel of Christ
will regenerate, sanctify, and save the soul of man!
Oh, keep the eye firmly fixed on this truth, and you
will be wiser than the wisest of the worldly wise, a
more profound philosopher than the most learned!
 

Humility
The following is from Octavius Winslow's sermon,
"Daily Cleansing, or Christ Washing His Disciples Feet"

Humility is an essential element of the true
Christian. As humility is one of the first
principles of our Christianity, so it is an
ever growing and deepening one.

Nothing more closely evidences an advance in
the divine life as our growth in Humility of mind.

The nearer we approach to heaven, the lower
  we grow in the estimate of ourselves.

As the fruit ripens for the gathering grows more
mellow, so the soul that matures for glory
becomes more humble an Christlike, and is
willing not only to wash the saint's feet, but
even to be trampled under foot of the saints.

We learn to take the low place as we become
more deeply sanctified, ready for any and every
work and office the Master may assign us.

It is the bough most richly laden with fruit that
bends downwards, and hangs the lowest. So
those Christians who have the richest gifts and
are favored with the greatest usefulness think
the most lowly of themselves, and hide their
gifts and graces and usefulness deepest in
the shadow of Christ's cross, and are the
best prepared for the lowliest service of love
to the saints.
 

The idol 'self' must fall
(Winslow, "A Full Christ for Empty Sinners")

The soul of man in its natural condition is
devoid of all holiness, of all righteousness,
of all spiritual goodness, strength, and love.

The soul of man is full to overflowing with
self righteousness, with rebellion against God,
with the love of sin, and the reigning power
of all iniquity. It is brimmed and overflowing
with all the elements of destruction, which,
if left to work their own results, will infallibly
plunge the soul into the chambers of eternal
darkness and despair.

The idol 'self' must fall, your own righteousness
must be renounced, there must be the deep
spiritual conviction of the plague of your own
heart; you must feel that you are under the
condemnation of the law, and that you have
not one claim to God's mercy, nor one plea
springing from yourself whereby He should
accept and save you.

It is only a heart deeply, spiritually conscious
of its poverty, lowliness, and uncleanness, and
emptied and humbled thereby in the dust, that
opens its doors to receive and welcome Him
who came "not to call the righteous, but sinners
to repentance."

Oh, if your heart is lowly, empty and penitent,
Jesus will make His gracious advent into it,
and dwell there forever!

It is the power of God alone that empties a man,
that makes him clearly to see the imperfection
of his own righteousness, his ignorance of truth,
of God, and of Christ.

It is the work of the Holy and Eternal Spirit to show
to the poor sinner that all his righteousness is as
filthy rags, that he has no spiritual strength, and
not one pulse of love to God throbbing in his bosom.

Oh, it is a power as great, as mighty, and as Divine
as that which spoke this universe into being, which
said, "Let there be light, and there was light," which
alone can empty your soul of all its darkness, its
rebellion, its ignorance, its love and homage of self,
and bring you to the cross of Christ, to the feet
of Jesus as a poor, empty beggar.
 

Beware of that practical atheism!
(Winslow, "The Glory of Christ in Heaven")

Beloved, God is in history.
God in every man's history.
God is in your history.

He is in every event, and circumstance, and
incident of your life. Whatever that history be,
God arranged it, shaped it, and tinted it.

Is it dark? He penciled it, with its somber hues.

Is it bright? He has thrown upon the canvas those beauteous colors.

Are they blended? He mingled and harmonized them.

Recognize and acknowledge, adore, love,
trust, and glorify Him for all, and in all.
"Acknowledge the Lord in all your ways."

Beware of that practical atheism which excludes
God from His own world; which excludes Him
from your individual history.  He is not only
present in His created universe, but He is as
much in personal events of life, shaping,
guiding, overruling each and all.
 

The Providence Of God
(by Don Fortner)

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

Divine providence is the daily, constant, sovereign rule of our God over all things for the accomplishment of his eternal purpose of grace in predestination.

Predestination is the sovereign, eternal, immutable, unalterable purpose of God almighty, by which he ordained and ordered, according to his own will and good pleasure, all things that come to pass in time.

Divine providence is the accomplishment of God's sovereign will and purpose. Providence is God bringing to pass in time (sovereignly, absolutely, and perfectly) what he purposed in eternity. Predestination is God's purpose. Providence is God's execution of his purpose.

Nothing in the universe happens by luck, chance, fortune, or accident, or by blind fate. Everything that comes to pass in time was purposed by our God in eternity, and is brought to pass by his wise, adorable, good Providence. Nothing comes to pass in time that God did not purpose in eternity, in sovereign predestination. Nothing comes to pass in time except that which God sovereignly brings to pass in his Providence. And that which God predestinated in eternity and brings to pass in his Providence is for the good of his elect, and the glory of his name. This is clearly and incontrovertibly the teaching of Holy Scripture (Ps. 76:10; Pro. 16:4, 9, 33; 21:1; Dan. 4:34, 35, 37; Isa. 46:9-11; Rom. 11:33-36).

Providence is God's government of the universe. If we have a proper view of God's Providence, we will see the hand of God and the heart of God in everything, in all the experiences of our lives. Believers ascribe their sorrows, the judgments of God, and even the cursing of their enemies to the hand of their heavenly Father's wise and good Providence (Job 1:21; 1 Sam. 3:18; 2 Sam. 16:11-12).

God is not idle. He never needs to rest, recuperate, or regroup! God almighty, our God and heavenly Father, is always at work, governing the world. I have frequently heard preachers and religious leaders speak of sickness, poverty and war, sin, crime and cruelty, famine, earthquakes and death, as things over which God has no control. Nonsense!

God's Providence is as 'minute' as it is 'mysterious' (Matt. 10:30). Our God has ordained the number of hairs on the heads of all. Not even a worthless sparrow falls to the ground without his decree. God's Providence is 'all inclusive'. God rules everything, great and small, everywhere, and at all times. Our God is in control of all inanimate matter. He who created all things rules all things.

Nothing in God's universe breathes or wiggles contrary to God's decree (Isaiah 46:9-13).

As a wise, skilled pharmacist mixes medicine, our heavenly Father wisely mixes exactly the right measure of bitter things and sweet, to do us good. Too much joy would intoxicate us. Too much misery would drive us to despair. Too much sorrow would crush us. Too much suffering would break our spirits. Too much pleasure would ruin us. Too much defeat would discourage us. Too much success would puff us up. Too much failure would keep us from doing anything. Too much criticism would harden us. Too much praise would exalt us. Our
great God knows exactly what we need. His Providence is wisely designed and sovereignly sent for our good! Let him therefore send and do what he will. By his grace, if we are his, we will face it, bow to it, accept it, and give thanks for it.

God's Providence is always executed in the 'wisest manner' possible. We are often unable to see and understand the reasons and causes for specific events in our lives, in the lives of others, or in the history of the world. But our lack of understanding does not prevent us from believing God. We bow to his will, which is evident in his works of Providence, and say, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"

The God of Providence rules all things well. How we ought to trust him! Ever remember, our heavenly Father is God all wise, good, and omnipotent. He is too wise to err, too good to do wrong, and too strong to fail.
 

Have you, my reader, wept for sin?
The following is from Octavius Winslow's sermon, "The
Disciple Washing Christ's Feet, or, The Service of Love"

"A certain immoral woman heard Jesus was there
and brought a beautiful jar filled with expensive
perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet,
weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped
them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his
feet and putting perfume on them."  Luke 7:37-38

Those tears! who can analyze them?
Where shall we find pearls so priceless,
or stones so precious and of fairer colors?

She washed Christ's feet with the tears
of penitence. There are no tears in Christ's
view more costly or precious than these.

This woman was poor in spirit, humble and
contrite, and as she stood behind her sin
forgiving Savior, her tears of godly sorrow
for sin rained fast upon his feet.

Have you, my reader, wept for sin?

Does the recollection of past transgression
make you sorry? Does the memory of the sins
of your youth, the transgressions of riper years,
the sinful infirmities of old age, humble you in
the dust?

Holier and more precious tears were never shed
than those wept for having sinned against God
at Christ's feet.
 

The favorite delusion of sinners!
The following is from Spurgeon's sermon,
"The Curse; and the Curse for Us" #2093.

Salvation by self is man's darling hope.

Salvation by doings, feelings, or
something or other of their own, is
the favorite delusion of sinners!
 

Sanctification & Holiness
(Octavius Winslow, "The Christians Journey")

Christ himself is our sanctification.

As Christ, by the Spirit grows in us, and we
become conformed to the image of Christ,
He becomes our sanctification.

We grow holy only as we approximate to
the nature, the spirit, and image of Christ.

This is true holiness, and nothing else is.

Holiness does not consists in fastings, in prayers,
in religious duties, rites, and ceremonies. How
many there are in the present day who are
religiously and rigidly observing all these external
things, dreaming of holiness and fitness for heaven,
without one particle of real sanctification!

What a fearful and fatal delusion!

Your sanctification, beloved, is Christ: Christ growing
in you, "who of God is made unto us wisdom,
righteousness, sanctification, and redemption."

Beloved, you have to battle with indwelling sin, and
to conflict with outward temptation. But never forget
that you are to live upon Christ as much for your
sanctification as for your justification; that His grace
is pledged to subdue your iniquities, to arm you in
the conflict, to give you skill in the holy fight, and
the final victory over all your enemies.  And in
proportion as Christ grows in you, you will grow
in a true hatred of sin, in a deepening love of
holiness, and thus in real, gospel sanctification.
 

The school of adversity!
(from Winslow's, "The Fragrance of Christ's Name")

Beloved, you are, perhaps, smarting under the severe chastening of your Heavenly Father. The vase is shattered, and the flower that lent to life its sweetest perfume, lies smitten and trailing in the dust, and the hand of God is heavy upon you.

But think of the Name of Jesus, what it involves. Think of it as containing all, and infinitely more, than you have lost. Recall the sweetness of a wife's fond love, of a husband's faithful protection, of a child's tender devotion, of a friend's soothing sympathy, yes, the sweetness of every earthly good you once possessed, but possess no longer.

Then remember that all this is in Christ! That all this affection, all this counsel, all this care, all this sympathy, and all this pleasantness distilled from Him, the infinite springhead of all blessing!

O what a mercy that, when the rivulet is dried, and the stream is gone, and the cloud shades the pleasant picture that adorned with its presence and brightened with its smile our home circle, Christ remains a sufficient substitute for all; all of which combined could never have been an all satisfying substitute for Him.

Accept, then, the fragrant sympathy of Christ. No being in the universe is so near to you, loves or compassionates you so deeply in your present calamity as Christ does. Deem it not hard that He has dealt with you thus.

He has but transferred the flower from your bosom to His own; transplanting it to a sunnier and holier climate. Jealous of your love, He would have your undivided heart, and absorb your whole being in Himself. And O how honored and blest you now are! You shall experimentally know more of Christ, see more clearly His surpassing glory, drink more deeply His fathomless love, and experience more fully His tender sympathy than in all the past of your experience. It is only in the school of adversity that we really know what the Lord Jesus is. How much we learn from Him and of Him in one trial! Until the trial brought us sobbing upon His heart, how little we knew what that heart contained. Welcome, then, the grief that lifts you nearer to God, and that increases your acquaintance with, and your peace and joy in, the Lord Jesus.
 

The net of earthly, carnal, sensual engagements!
(Octavius Winslow, "The Christians Journey")

Jesus says, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures
upon earth.  Do not worry about your life, what
you shall eat, or what you shall drink; neither for
your body, what you shall wear."

We are passing through this fallen world to glory.
And the command of our Lord is, that we be
constantly forgetting the things that are seen and
temporal; nor regard the world, its possessions
and attractions; in the anticipation of the world
of glory that is before us.

The follower of Christ is to consider earth's wealth
and glory, this world's pleasures and politics, as
nothing to him; and constantly detaching himself
from the things that are earthly and temporal, he is
to be pressing forward to things heavenly and eternal.

How many a child of God, who should be growing in
grace and advancing in heavenliness, is constantly
clogging his feet with earth's clay, weaving around
him the net and the mesh of earthly, carnal, sensual
engagements; thus impeding his spiritual progress!
How can he grow in grace and heavenly mindedness
if this be so?  It is utterly impossible!

You must become more dead to earth, more
crucified to the world, and realize more the
power of Christ's resurrection in your soul.

Jesus says to you emphatically, "Do not regard
earthly possessions, your belongings, your worldly
advantage. Do not regret not the loss and sacrifice
of home, friends, and property, that you make for
your attachment to me, my service, and my cause.
Count it all as vanity and dross; gird up your mind
to endure my shame, to share my reproach, yes, to
deny all ungodliness, to come out of the world and
be my cross bearing disciples. I have laid up for you
treasure in heaven, infinite wealth, an inheritance
that is incorruptible, riches that perish not, joys that
do not glut, a crown of glory that does not fade away.
Count the world as loss, all created good as dross,
and the creature itself as vanity, for the glory, and
honor, and immortality that will soon be yours!"

Thus would our blessed Lord teach, cheer, and
animate us in our heavenly journey, by bidding
us cease from needless earthly care, and cultivate
the spirit, the mind, and the hopes of pilgrims
traveling to the celestial city!

God give us grace to lay to heart these exhortations
to heavenly mindedness!  We are but crossing a
desert land on our way home to Christ! He has
promised that our bread and our water shall be
sure, and that we shall lack no good thing.

Upon Him, then, let us cast our care, anxious
for nothing except how we may so walk as to
please Him in all things.
 

This ungodly world!
(Winslow "The Church of God a Garden")

"Therefore, come out from them and separate
 yourselves from them, says the Lord.  Don't
 touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you."
    2 Cor. 6:17

The question is not, how far you may go into
the world and not be worldly; nor is it to be
decided by the immediate and sensible effect
of worldly amusements upon your feelings.

A professing Christian may indulge in certain
worldly gaieties, or employments of questionable
propriety, without being conscious of any
immediate injury received, and then vainly
imagine that he has derived no hurt to himself,
whatever it may be with others.

But, has no injury in reality been received?

Has no evil influence been exerted upon the
spirituality of an easily susceptible and finely
fibered soul? Has not the spirit of devotion
been killed, the heart estranged from God,
the mind secularized, and all the sweet, holy
impressions of religion seriously impaired?

The question can only be determined by inquiry
into the nature, tendencies, and results of scenes
enacted at a theater; of sentiments promulgated
in an romance novel; of frivolities indulged in at
a ball, upon a soul on whom the solemn vows of
holy consecration to God are sealed.

Thus the spiritual injury of worldly conformity to
a professing Christian is often in a way of which
he is the least conscious.

His only safe and consistent path is one of marked
and decided separation; combating with the faith
that overcomes the world, and crucifying it by the
cross upon which it crucified his Lord and Master.

Can we be said to "Come out from among them,
touching not the unclean thing," and yet give our
personal and practical countenance to the sinful
pleasures, frivolous gaieties and vain recreations
essentially and professedly of the world?

Love to Christ, attachment to His truth, loyalty
to His cause, binds us to obedience, devotion,
and consecration to our Savior.

Let our holy living, let our Christlike spirit,
be a daily, hourly, solemn protest against the
wickedness, heartlessness, and emptiness of
this ungodly world!
 

Shadowy!
The following is from Octavius Winslow's sermon,
"The Shadow of Christ; Its Fruit and Repose."

The worldling lives in the realm of shadow.

All is but shadow that appertains alone to this
present life. The toil for wealth, the strife for
honor, the pursuit of pleasure, is but the race
of shadows.

I summon the worldling as a witness.

Does not your past experience confirm this
melancholy fact? Has your lust for gold been
satisfied with wealth? Your thirst for happiness,
with worldly pleasure? Your longing for rest,
with earthly repose? Your sighing for creature
friendship, sympathy, and love, with the creature?

Truth and honesty compel your emphatic answer,
      "No!"

And yet see how persistent is your folly!

Although bubble after bubble has burst,
and dream after dream has vanished,
and shadow after shadow has dissolved,
you are as eager and earnest as ever in
chase of those phantoms of earth born
bliss which dazzle but to bewilder, and
which allure but to destroy!