In circumstances of spiritual relapse, how precious does Christ become as the Restorer of His saints, as the Shepherd that goeth in quest of His stray sheep and bringeth it back to the fold with rejoicing. How unspeakably dear is the Savior to the wandering yet restored heart! Our backslidings are perpetual and aggravated, our affections fickle and truant,* our faith fluctuating, our love waning, our zeal flagging, our walk often feeble and unsteady; but Jesus withdraws not His eye from His own work in the soul, and never for a moment loses sight of His stray-going sheep…
How precious is Christ in the season of fiery temptation! When the arch-foe comes, robed as an angel of light, with gentle tread, and oily tongue, and soft persuasiveness, seeking to ensnare and beguile the unsuspicious and unwary—leveling his darts at the very foundations of our faith—insinuating his doubts of the truth of the Bible, of the being of God, of the sufficiency of the Savior, of the reality of a future world—thus seeking to shake the confidence, obscure the hope, and destroy the comfort of the Lord’s people—oh, how precious then is Christ as the Conqueror and Spoiler of Satan; as He Who enables the trembling believer to quench the fiery dart in His own blood, and to take refuge beneath His outspread, all-sheltering wing!…He Who, alone and unaided, battled with Satan those forty days and nights in the solitary wilderness—is He Who was “in all points tempted like as we are” (Heb. 4:15) and “knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations” (2Pe. 2:9) and will shortly bruise Satan, crushed and conquered, under your feet (Rom. 16:20).
In the hour of adversity, of trial, of sorrow, oh, how precious is Christ in the experience of the believer! It would seem, beloved, as though we had never really known Him until then. Certainly, we never knew from experience that there was so much that was human, tender, and compassionate in His heart until sorrow touched our own. We had no conception what a fount of sympathy was there. A new bend in your path, a new epoch in your history, or a new stage in your journey, has frosted with the snowflake and swept with the storm-blast of winter the entire landscape of life: fortune gone—friends removed—health failing—poverty threatening—want pressing, oh, how dreary and lonely seems the path you tread. But pause—it is not all winter! Jesus approaches! He unveils a bosom once pierced, shows a heart once sad, and drawing you within its blest pavilion, hides you from the wind and covers you from the tempest. You never thought Jesus had a heart of such exquisite tenderness until now…The creature has left a blank, but Christ has come and filled it. Reverse has made you poor, but the treasures of divine love have enriched you. In the Lord Jesus, you have more than found the loved one you have lost; and if in the world you have encountered tribulation, in Him you have found peace. O sweet sorrow! O sacred grief that enthrones and enshrines my Savior more preeminently and deeply in my soul!
There is a supremacy in the feeling of Christ’s preciousness to the believer, which is worthy of a remark. Christ has the preeminence in the affection of the regenerate. “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee” (Psa. 73:25). Listen to His own words, asserting His claim to a single and supreme affection: “He that loveth father or mother”—brother or sister, wife, or children—“more than me is not worthy of me” (Mat. 10:37). There are natural ties of affection—the parental, the conjugal, the filial; there are ties, too, of human love and friendship, linking heart to heart; but not one word does He Who inspired those affections, Who formed those ties, breathe, denying their existence or forbidding their exercise. Nay, the religion He came to inculcate distinctly recognizes these human relations, and seeks to strengthen and intensify by purifying, elevating, and immortalizing them. But mark the emphatic word employed by Christ: “more than me”!…In a word, Christ should become more supreme and precious to our hearts by all the sweet, sacred relations and affections of life…
Receive as precious everything that flows from the government of Jesus. A precious Christ can give you nothing but what is precious. Welcome the rebuke—it may be humiliating; welcome the trial—it may be painful; welcome the lesson—it may be difficult; welcome the cup—it may be bitter; welcome everything that comes from Christ in your individual history. Everything is costly, salutary, and precious that Jesus sends…The most severe disciplinary dispensations in the government of Christ are as much the fruit of His eternal, redeeming love as was the tenderest and most touching expression of that love uttered from the cross. All is precious, wise, and salutary in the dealings of Christ. His teachings, His woundings, His withholdings, His withdrawings, His slayings, His changed countenance, His altered tones—when, in a word, His uplifted hand lights heavily upon us, smiting us seven times, even then, oh, how precious should Christ be to the believing soul! Then it is we learn by experience what a balsam exudes from His pierced heart for the very wound His own hand inflicted!…Oh, precious Christ! so divine, so all-sufficient, so indescribably precious, may we not welcome with thankfulness and receive with submission all that Thou dost send…
But there is approaching a period—ah, how it speeds!—which will be the most solemn and severe, yet the sweetest and truest test of the sustaining, soothing power of Christ’s preciousness in the experience of His saints: the last sickness and the closing scene of life. Imagine that moment to have arrived. All of earth’s attraction ceases, all of creature-succor fails. Everything is failing: heart and strength failing—mental power failing—medical skill failing—human affection and sympathy failing; the film of death is on the eye, and the invisible realities of the spirit-world are unveiling to the mental view. Bending over you, the loved one who has accompanied you to the margin of the cold river asks a sign. You are too weak to conceive a thought, too low to breathe a word, too absorbed to bestow a responsive glance. You cannot now [affirm] your faith in an elaborate creed, and you have no profound experience, ecstatic emotions, or heavenly visions to describe. One brief, but all-emphatic, all-expressive sentence embodies the amount of all that you now know, believe, and feel; it is the profession of your faith, the sum of your experience, the ground of your hope: “CHRIST IS PRECIOUS TO MY SOUL.” Enough! The dying Christian can give, and the inquiring friend can wish no more. Dearest Savior, be Thou close to me in that solemn moment! Tread the valley by my side, pillow my languid head upon Thy bosom, speak these words of heart-cheer to my struggling, panting, departing soul: “Fear not: for I am with thee” (Isa. 43:5). Then, it will be happiness for me to die—death will have no venom—the grave no gloom—eternity no dread; and, from the measured experience of Thy preciousness on earth, I shall pass in triumph through the shadowy portal into the full sunshine and perfect realization and eternal enjoyment of all that faith believed, love desired, and hope expected of Thy full-orbed glory and preciousness in heaven.
From “The Preciousness of Christ” in The Precious Things of God,
Soli Deo Gloria, a division of Reformation Heritage Books, www.heritagebooks.org.
“CHRIST IS PRECIOUS ~ Reprint from Free Grace Broadcaster, www.chapellibrary.org/
*fickle and truant – changeable and straying.
Octavius Winslow (1808-1878): Nonconformist pastor; born in London, England, raised in New York, buried in Abbey Cemetery, Bath, England.
Related articles and Websites:
- Free e-books http://octaviuswinslow.org/e-books/
- Knowing Christ (agoldentreasury.com)
- The Story of the Cross (samuelatgilgal.wordpress.com)