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Octavius Winslow's Book -Help Heavenward- Chapter 8

 15.3.11

We are now on chapter 8 of this wonderful book, Help Heavenward by Octavius Winslow. (we still have three more chapters to go.)

Chapter 8


Chapter 8: Self Communion

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


This chapter asks hard questions; the same questions that Winslow thought necessary to ask in the 1800's when he said these words which not only describe his days but ours as well,

"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."

There is nothing new under the sun, the heart of men is the same since the fall, I read Winslow's words and it seems that he is describing our days,

"With everything but themselves the great mass of human beings by whom we are surrounded are in the closest communion. Man is in communion with nature in its glories, with science in its wonders, with art in its triumphs, with intellect in its attainments, with power in its achievements, with the creation in its attraction. There is but one object with which he holds no rational, sacred, and close communion,—from which, though the nearest and the most important, he seems the most widely isolated; that object is—himself! He studies not the wonders of his being, the spirituality of his nature, the solemnity of his relations, the accountability of his actions, the immortality of his destiny. He thinks not of himself, and of death, and judgment, and eternity at the same moment."

We need to recover the disposition and the discipline to commune with our heart upon our bed and be still, and Winslow encourages us to this, by asking us hard questions concerning the true spiritual state before God, about the existence and condition of the love of God in our own heart, about our heart's feelings for the Lord Jesus, about the ruling principles of our actions, about the heavenly tendencies of our own heart questions about our real and habitual fellowship, about our progress in the Divine life,  with God, about our thanksgiving and praise to God, about the certainty of our possession of heart's religion; questions "which we must weigh...  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."

Have I passed from death unto life? 

Has my heart been convinced of sin? 

Am I a subject of the new birth? 

...{A}nd 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? 

{A}re you sensible that within you all things have been made new?

(Are you sensible )that your heart is in sympathy with objects that are spiritual, 
with enjoyments that are holy, 
with engagements that are heavenly?
—in a word, that your views of sin and self, of God and of Christ and of the gospel, 
are radically, essentially changed, 
and that you seem to yourself the subject of a new-born existence, 
and the occupant of a new-created world?

Do you love God because He is holy?
(Do you love) His law, because it is righteous? 
His government, because it is divine and just? 
His ways, because they are wise, and right, and sure? 

Do you love Him for sending His Son into the world to save sinners? 

Do you love Him as a Father, as a Friend, as a God in covenant relation? 

How stands your heart, O believer! 
with God as to its love? 

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? 

You ask how your love to Christ may be tested and increased? 
Test it by obedience; 
“If you love me, keep my commandments.”


"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. Can you stand before this love—this love so precious, so great, so enduring, so self-consuming, so changeless, and know that for you was this offering, for you this cross, for you this agony, for you this scorn and insult, for you this death, and feel no sensibility, no emotion, no love? Impossible!"

The questions keep on coming, we still have hard questions to answer in the solitude, on our bed.


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? 

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 BLOOD of Christ pardons, the RIGHTEOUSNESS of Christ justifies you, and this is all that you require, or that God demands. 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."

What is the ruling principle of your heart? 

Have you examined yourself to know?

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?


"Oh, how needed and wholesome and precious is self-communion now! Never, perhaps, before has your heart been laid open to such inspection, subjected to such scrutiny, submitted to such tests. Never have you been brought into such close contact with yourself; never has self-communion appeared to you so needed, so solemn, and so blessed as in this quiet chamber. Ah, much-abused, much-neglected heart! how have I allowed thee to wander, to be enanmoured, enchained, won, and possessed by others! How has thy spiritual verdure withered, how have thy fresh springs dried, thy beauty faded, and thy strength decayed! How cold, how inconstant, how unfaithful, how unkind hast thou been to thy best, thy dearest, thy heavenly Friend! But for the restraints of His grace and the constraints of His love, and the checks of His gentle corrections, whither, oh, whither wouldst thou have gone? I thank thee, Lord for Thy discipline—for the shaded path, the severed tie, the lonely sorrow, the loving, lenient correction that recalls my heart to Thee!"

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?


This chapter is so important;  I wish you could take some time to read it (no need to read the previous ones to understand this one); there are so many riches in it! And what a better time to examine ourselves than today? What a better season than Lent, when we are considering all that it means that Jesus willingly set his face to go to Jerusalem to be hanged on a cross?





Matthew Blair, the host of this reading group wrote an excellent summary of this chapter here.

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Becky
If I am happy it is because of God! God, in His sovereign grace, has called me out of darkness into His Admirable light. He has opened my eyes and has shown me the way to Eternal Life. He has set my feet on a journey, and now I am walking Daily on My Way to Heaven. I did not find Jesus, He found me. I did not seek Him, yet He called me. I did not love Him, yet He loved me. I deserved death and He gave me Life. This is the place where I keep a journal of my life under His sun and by His grace!
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Borrowed Words

"It becomes us to spend this life only as a journey toward heaven... to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labor for or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end and true happiness?"

Jonathan Edwards

"I am still pondering God's greatness in His creation. I have so many questions that I would like to ask the Lord about the universe, creation, the fall of man... But when I'm in heaven, I wonder if I will even remember them. At that time, being in the presence of God will be enough. I'm thankful that I can look forward to that day."

-Persis

“Heaven is not here, it’s There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.”

- Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart



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