Man’s Most Deadly Enemy

800px-shadow_personIt will even make the cross of Christ into a pedestal on which to erect its deformed visage! 

(Octavius Winslow, “Eminent Holiness Essential to an Efficient Ministry” 1843)

An attribute in the formation of an elevated standard of ministerial holiness–too essential and important to be overlooked–is a growing humbleness of mind

Where is the spiritual minister of Christ who has not detected the latent existence, and who has not had to struggle against–the secret workings of the sin of pride?It is so insidious and powerful a sin–and is so exhilarating in the sensations it produces–that few are more liable to be enamored by its fair exterior, and ensnared by its specious and seductive form–than the minister of the gospel! And yet, pride is an evil more calculated to feed as a cankerworm at the root of his ministry! A sin more loathed of God, against which His denunciations are more severely recorded, on which His wrath has more signally and fearfully fallen–is not found to exist! Pride originated the first form of evil that ever existed–and it constitutes, at this moment, the great center of rebellion against God on earth!

Thus, the identical sin which we find to form so impregnable a stronghold of Satan in the hearts of the unregenerate, and which has so sadly wounded the peace, retarded the prosperity, and deformed the beauty of Christ’s Church–is the sin most rife in our own bosoms!

Its classifications are many. Among them may be specified the pride of office, the pride of denomination, the pride of knowledge, the pride of talent, the pride of scholarship, the pride of influence, the pride of orthodoxy, the pride of eloquence, the pride of pulpit, the pride of platform, the pride of success, and the pride of applause.

Pride is a protean evil–assuming a thousand varied and opposite forms! It will insinuate itself into the most spiritual and solemn of our services. There is no soil so holy–in which its root will not strike. There is no employment so sacred–on which it will not engraft itself. It will even make the cross of Christ into a pedestal on which to erect its deformed visage! Yes, while exalting Jesus–we may be found but exalting ourselves! And while exclaiming, “Behold the Lamb of God!”–we may be but veiling His true glory behind our insignificant persons; virtually exclaiming, “Behold my talents, my eloquence, and my zeal!” We are often guilty of the awful sin of self-exaltation–while setting forth the person, work, glory, and humiliation of the Son of God!

Is there not in us, my brethren, a manifest deficiency of the humble, self-annihilating spirit of the divine Master whom we serve–and whom it should be our aim and glory to resemble? In maintaining our position in the Church–may there not be a lofty deportment, an air of self-sufficiency and importance–utterly at variance with the “mind that was in Christ Jesus”? Is there not an unholy ostentation, and a desire for self-promotion–in much that we do for Christ?

Is there not . . .
an eagerness for preferment to influential and wealthy churches,
a fondness for conspicuousness of place,
a shrinking from fields of labor where no laurels are to be won,
a thirsting for human applause,
a studied aim after popularity,
a trimming policy designed to please the world,
a trumpeting of our own fame, and
a vaunting parade of our own success?
We have plucked the crown from Christ’s head–and placed it on our own! In setting forth Christ’s infinite glory, and His deep abasement and sufferings–we have turned it into an occasion of pride and self-exaltation!

Instead of inquiring, “Who shall be most lowly–the most like Christ–the least in the kingdom?” is it not, “Who shall be the greatest? Who shall stand upon the highest pinnacle of renown?”

Are we not, in many or in all these points–truly guilty before our God? 

And yet how much is there in us, if soberly and frequently pondered–calculated . . .
to abase our pride,
to repress our aspirings of vanity,
to rebuke our self-adulation,
and to lay us low in a low place?

Has not the cherishing of this sin of pride in our bosom–deeply grieved the Spirit? Is not the real secret . . .
of our barren souls,
of our ineffectual ministry,
of our languishing churches,
of our paralyzed efforts–
simply the sad but certain consequences of our accursed pride?

A holy ministry–is a humble ministry!

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Making Light of Providence

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“Our Father in Heaven, may Your name be kept holy.” Matthew 6:9

Nothing more quickly or truly indicates an irreverent and undevout mind, than levity on sacred subjects. The individual who can provoke a smile, or indulge in a cleverness, or shape a witticism–at the expense of what is divine and sacred–is blasphemous indeed! He who can treat in a light manner any religious subject, who can turn the Bible into a jest-book, and intersperse secular conversation with religious phraseology or Scripture language in sport–will the great God hold such an irreverent and profane mind guiltless?

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain–for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain!” Exodus 20:7

The Promises of God

download(Octavius Winslow, “The Preciousness of the Divine Promises”)

“God has given us His very great and precious promises!” 2 Peter 1:4

The promises of God are the jewelry of the Bible!

Every page of the sacred volume is rich and sparkling with these divine assurances of Jehovah’s love, faithfulness, and power towards His people.

Upon no spot in this wilderness world can the Christian plant his foot, strange and untrodden though that path may be–but a gem from this casket meets his eye, the sight of which inspires his heart with confidence, his spirit with comfort, his soul with hope!

Imagine what would have been the condition of God’s children apart from the divine promises of which the blessed volume is so full. What must have been the desolateness, the sadness, and the sinking–did we not have the divine assurances of God’s Word to rely on; by which we are . . .
guided in our march heavenward,
upheld in weakness,
cheered in depression, and
conducted step by step to final blessedness.

The promises are comprehensive in their character, and adapted to all the varied circumstances of our individual history. Child of God, you cannot conceive of . . .
any condition in which you may be placed,
any circumstance by which you may be surrounded,
any sorrow by which you may be depressed,
any perils that may confront you,
any darkness that may overshadow you,
or any needs that you may have–
in which you may not find some precious promises of His blessed Word which meet your case!

The promises of Scripture are exceedingly precious, because they are all signed and sealed with the heart’s blood of Jesus! They are the throbbings of the infinite love of Jesus! The promises are but echoes of His heart sounding from each page of the sacred volume!

If you are sin-burdened or sorrow-stricken–just stretch forth your hand and receive these precious jewels as they flow out from the open casket of God’s Word!

The promises have stanched may a bleeding wound.

The promises have dried many a falling tear.

The promises have calmed many a disturbed mind.

The promises have guided feet through many a labyrinth.

The promises have shed light on many a lonely path.

The promises, like voices of music, have broken sweetly on many a dreary night of weeping and woe.

We have these rich clusters of precious promises bending down from the Tree of Life!
We may pluck them at all times, in all seasons, and under all circumstances!

Poor, Naked, Penniless, Worthless?

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(Octavius Winslow, “Morning Thoughts”)

“I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has
now come when the dead will hear the voice
of the Son of God and those who hear will live.”
John 5:25

There is the special, direct, and effectual call of
the Spirit, in the elect of God, without which all
other calling is in vain.  The Spirit effectually
works in the soul with an inward, supernatural,
secret power. There is an energy put forth with
the call, which . . .
awakens the conscience,
breaks the heart,
convinces the judgment,
opens the eye of the soul, and
pours a new and an alarming sound
upon the hitherto deaf ear.

Mark the blessed effects . . .
the scales fell from the eyes,
the veil is torn from the mind,
the deep fountains of evil in the heart are broken up.

The sinner sees himself as . . .
lost and undone
without pardon,
without a righteousness,
without acceptance,
without a God,
without a Savior,
without a hope!

Awful condition!

“What shall I do to be saved?” is his cry! “I am
a wretch undone! I look within me, all is dark
and vile; I look around me, everything seems
but the image of my woe; I look above me, I
see only an angry God. Whichever way I look,
is hell! And were God now to send me there,
just and right would He be.”

But, blessed be God, no poor soul that ever
uttered such language, prompted by such
feelings, ever died in despair! That faithful
Spirit who begins the good work, effectually
carries it on, and completes it.

Presently He leads him to the cross of Jesus
and unveils to his glimmering eye of faith a . . .
suffering,
  wounded,
  bleeding,
  dying Savior;
and yet a Savior with outstretched arms!

That Savior speaks; oh, did ever music sound
so melodious? “All this I do for you . . .
this cross for you,
these sufferings for you,
this blood for you,
these stretched out arms for you.
Come unto Me, all you that labor and are
heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Look
unto Me, and be saved!
Are you lost? I can save you!
Are you guilty? I can cleanse you!
Are you poor? I can enrich you!
Are you sunk low? I can raise you!
Are you naked? I can clothe you!
Have you nothing to bring with you?
No price?
No money?
No goodness?
No merit?
I can and will take you to Me, just as you are . . .
  poor,
  naked,
  penniless,
  worthless;
for such I came to seek,
for such I came to die.”

“Lord, I believe,” exclaims the poor convinced soul!
You are just the Savior that I need. I needed one
that could and would save me . . .
with all my vileness,
with all my rags,
with all my poverty.
I needed one that would . . .
save me fully,
save me freely,
save me as an act of mere unmerited, undeserved
grace! I have found Him whom my soul loves! and
will be His through time, and His through eternity!”

Thus effectually does the blessed Spirit call a sinner,
by His especial, invincible, and supernatural power,
out of darkness into marvelous light!

“I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has
now come when the dead will hear the voice of
the Son of God and those who hear will live.”

The Golden Key!

87dec81797506402d8b06427d2f0a10c(Octavius Winslow)

Click to LISTEN to Audio while you read along with the quote below!

Jesus is the one great theme both of the Old Testament and the New. The whole Bible is designed to testify of Christ, “The Scriptures point to Me!” John 5:39

In Christ the Messiah, in Jesus the Savior, in the Son of God the Redeemer–all the truths of the Bible center.

To Him all the types and shadows point!

Of Him all the prophecies give witness!

All the glory of the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation–culminates at the cross of Christ!

The Bible would be an inexplicable mystery apart from Christ, who unfolds and explains it all.

He is the golden Key which unlocks the divine treasury of Scriptural revelation!

Until He is seen, the Bible is, in a sense–a great mystery. But when He is found, it is a gloriousrevelation.
Every mystery is opened,
every enigma is explained,
every discrepancy is harmonized, and
every truth and page, sentence and word–is quickened with a life and glowing with a light flowing down from the throne of the Eternal God.

Christ is the substance of the Gospel.
All its divine doctrines,
all its holy precepts,
all its gracious instructions,
all its precious promises,
all its glorious hopes–
meet, center, and fill up their entire compass in Jesus!

He is the Alpha and the Omega of the Bible–from the first verse in Genesis, to the last verse in Revelation.

Oh, study the Scriptures of truth with a view of learning Christ.

Do not study the Bible as a mere history.
Do not read it as a mere poem.
Do not search it as a book of science.
It is all that, but infinitely more.
The Bible is the Book of Jesus!
It is a Revelation of Christ!

Christ is the golden thread which runs through the whole! a6b1f5a4644ef7a94fe1477740cafd42

Blessed Lord Jesus! I will read and study and dig into the Scriptures, to find and learn more of You!
You, Immanuel, are the fragrance of this divine box of precious ointment.
You are the beauteous gem sparkling in this divine cabinet.
You are the Tree of life planted in the center of this divine garden.
You are the Ocean whose stream quickens and nourishes all who draw water out of this divine well of salvation.
The Bible is all about You!

What More Could He Have Done?

800px-Ghent_Altarpiece_D_-_LambNor must we overlook the grand source of encouragement to a returning soul, – that which springs from the cross of Christ. But for a crucified Savior, there could be no possible return to God; in no other way could he consistently with the holiness and rectitude of the Divine government, with what he owes to himself as a just and holy God, receive a poor wandering, returning sinner.

Mere repentance and humiliation for, and confession of, sin, could entitle the soul to no act of pardon.

The obedience and death of the Lord Jesus laid the foundation, and opened the way for the exercise of this great and sovereign act of grace. The cross of Jesus displays the most awful exhibition of God’s hatred of sin, and at the same time the most august manifestation of his readiness to pardon it. Pardon, full and free, is written out in every drop of blood that is seen, is proclaimed in every groan that is heard, and shines in the very prodigy of mercy that closes the solemn scene upon the cross.

O blessed door of return, open and never shut, to the wanderer from God! how glorious, how free, how accessible! Here the sinful, the vile, the guilty, the unworthy, the poor, the penniless, may come. Here, too, the weary spirit may bring its burden, the broken spirit its sorrow, the guilty spirit its sin, the backsliding spirit its wandering. All are welcome here.

The death of Jesus was the opening and the emptying of the full heart of God; it was the outgushing of that ocean of infinite mercy… it was God showing how he could love a poor, guilty sinner. What more could he have done than this?

Octavius Winslow   1841

What More Could He Have Done?