Home Burdens

Octavius Winslow writes the following to comfort all who carry the weight of “home-burdens.” After I read it I stopped to pray for the wives I know who carry a heavy load of family duties and burdens on a daily basis. This is from his book The Ministry of Home (London: 1847), pages 351–352:

Perhaps, your home-duties, trials, and needs, form your burden. Every home is an embryo kingdom, an epitomized world, of which the parent constitutes the sovereign. There are laws to be obeyed, rules to be observed, subjects to be governed, cares to be sustained, demands to be met, and “who is sufficient for all this?” is often your anxious inquiry. Who can tell what crushing burdens, what bitter sorrows, what corroding cares, what pressing demands, may exist within a single family circle, deeply veiled from every eye but God’s? . . . Your children are an anxiety. Your domestic duties a trial. Your necessities are pressing. Your whole position one of embarrassment and depression [financially].

What shall you do? Do even as the Lord who loves you enjoins — “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain you.” Your Heavenly Father knows all your home-trials, for He has sent them! Jesus, though he had no home on earth, yet sympathized with the home-cares and sorrows of others, and is not a stranger, nor indifferent to yours. Bring all to Him, tell Him all, confide to Him all, trust Him in all. You have no family trial too great, and no domestic need too little, and no home-sorrow too delicate, to take to Christ. Obey the precept, “Cast your burden upon the Lord;” and He will make good the promise, “and He shall sustain you.” O costly and blessed home-burden that brings Jesus beneath our roof! . . .

Jesus is the great Burden-Bearer of His people. No other arm, and no other heart, in heaven or upon earth, were strong enough, or loving enough, to bear these burdens but His! He who bore the weight of our sin and curse and shame in His obedience and death — bore it along all the avenues of His weary pilgrimage, from Bethlehem to Calvary — is He who now stretches forth His Divine arm, and makes bare a Brother’s heart to take your burden of care and of grief, dear saint of God, upon Himself.

A Soul-Satisfying Spectacle

Octavius Winslow, The Ministry of Home (London: 1847), page 39:

The sight of Jesus is a soul-satisfying spectacle.

The penitent soul is satisfied, for it sees in Jesus a free pardon of sin.

The condemned soul is satisfied, for it receives in Jesus a free justification.

The believing soul is satisfied, for it discovers in Jesus a fountain of all grace.

The tried, tempted, sorrowful soul is satisfied, for it experiences in Jesus all consolation, sympathy and love.

O, what an all-satisfying Portion is Jesus!

He satisfies every holy desire, for He realizes it.

He satisfies every craving need, for He supplies it.

He satisfies every sore grief, for He soothes it.

He satisfies the deepest yearnings, the highest aspirations, the most sublime hopes of the renewed soul, for all these center and end in Him!”

For You

From the sermon of Octavius Winslow (1808–1878) titled “The Vitality of the Atoning Blood”:

The moment the ransomed and released soul enters glory, the first object that arrests its attention and fixes its eye is the interceding Savior. Faith, anticipating the glorious spectacle, sees him now pleading the blood on behalf of each member of His Church upon earth.

“By His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” [Hebrews 9:12]

“For Christ has not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, NOW to appear in the presence of God for us.” [Hebrews 9:24]

There is blood in heaven! the blood of the Incarnate God! And because it pleads and prays, argues and intercedes, the voice of every sin is hushed, every accusation of Satan is met, every daily transgression is forgiven, every temptation of the adversary is repelled, every evil is warded, every need is supplied, and the present sanctification and the final glorification of the saints are secured.

“Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” [Romans 8:33–34]

Draw near, you Joshuas, accused by Satan!

Approach, you Peters, whose faith is sifted!

Come, you tried and disconsolate!

The mediatorial Angel, the pleading Advocate, the interceding High Priest, has passed into the heavens, and appears before the throne, for you.

If the principle of the spiritual life in your soul has decayed, if your grace has declined, if you have ‘left your first love,’ there is vitality in the interceding blood of Jesus, and it prays for your revival. If sin condemns, and danger threatens, and temptation assails, and affliction wounds, there is living power in the pleading blood of Immanuel, and it procures pardon, protection, and comfort.

Prompt Confession of Sin

“I feel when I have sinned an immediate reluctance to go to Christ. I am ashamed to go. I feel as if it would not do to go, as if it were making Christ the minister of sin, to go straight from the swine-trough to the best robe, and a thousand other excuses. But I am persuaded they are all lies direct from hell. John argues the opposite way—‘If any man sins, we have an advocate with the Father;’ … The holy sensitiveness of the soul that shrinks from the touch of sin, the acute susceptibility of the conscience at the slightest shade of guilt, will of necessity draw the spiritual mind frequently to the blood of Jesus. And herein lies the secret of a heavenly walk. Acquaint yourself with it, my reader, as the most precious secret of your life. He who lives in the habit of a prompt and minute acknowledgement of sin, with his eye reposing calmly, believingly, upon the crucified Redeemer, soars in spirit where the eagle’s pinion [wings] range not.”

Octavius Winslow, No Condemnation in Christ Jesus (Banner of Truth 1853/1991), pp. 79—80.

Info please: Octavius Winslow

tss-john-calvin-coffee.jpgTSS readers have a track record of supplying rare biographical and bibliographical information. So here goes another request.

Today, a seminary student contacted me who is pursuing a PhD and wants to study the homiletics of Octavius Winslow (1808-1878). Here’s what’s needed:

(1) Biographical details of Winslow’s life and ministry (beyond the short summary in his books).

(2) Access to Winslow’s original sermon manuscripts (if they exist).

If you know of where to find these details, or have possible leads, please leave comments.

Thank you!


Some lesser-known, Cross-centered books

tsslogo.jpgRecently, a good friend emailed me for recommendations on my favorite books on the cross. He wanted me to focus on books God has used to make a profound impact on my soul. When I sent the list, it included great titles like The Cross of Christ by John Stott, Living the Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney, and several titles by John Piper. But as I scanned through my shelf of books on the cross, I realized that over the past few years I’ve come across a number of lesser-known, but richly valuable, books. And so in my list for a friend I added a subcategory of books that have great value in meditating on the cross, but don’t get much attention or are now out-of-print.

So here are five of those titles (in no particular order):

1. Christ Crucified: The Marrow of the Gospel in 72 Sermons on Isaiah 53 by James Durham (Naphtali Press; $30). I’ve written a more extensive review of this volume so I’ll keep this description brief. Christ Crucified is a precious Puritan work on the work of Christ. Yet when this volume appeared in print in 2001, it had not been previously published since 1792! In 72 sermons Durham slowly walks through Isaiah 53:1-12, pulling out the doctrine of the cross and calling the reader to respond with praise, joy, and obedience. The editor behind this contemporary edition did an outstanding job of making the text clean and easy to navigate. In the front cover of his personal copy, C.H. Spurgeon simply wrote, “Much prized.” I would agree.

2. Caleb’s Lamb by Helen Santos (Reformation Heritage; $7.50). A family favorite, my wife and I read this book with our children. The 100-page chapter book is the story of Caleb, a reluctant boy forced to work with his shepherd dad. Caleb personally despises the sheep. The narrative develops within the context of the Old Testament Israelites in the months leading up to the Exodus. Long story short: Caleb rescues a spotless, newborn lamb from wilderness danger and his dad passes on to Caleb a personal responsibility to care for this sheep. The story progresses around Caleb’s growing maturity and his growing bond with lamb. But rumors are stirring of Moses and a coming deliverance from Egypt. Every household must prepare for the coming angel of the Lord by sacrificing a spotless lamb. It’s a sobering yet wonderful story for children capturing the substitutionary atonement of Christ.

3. The Precious Things of God by Octavius Winslow (Soli Deo Gloria; out of print, buy used, read online). For a while now, I have considered Winslow to be one of the most influential writers on my soul. This book—The Precious Things of God—has the unique distinction of being classified as my most personally life-transforming book (apart from Scripture itself). The chapter on the preciousness of Christ’s blood really opened my eyes to the fuller experience of the cross within the Christian life. It impacted my life at a time when I needed to get away from very technical theology books and simply needed someone to remind me again of the cross. A faithful friend pointed me towards Winslow. And this precious book was a success. Here is one excerpt.

Keep your heart, O believer, much beneath the cross, your conscience in frequent and close contact with the blood, and the slightest touch of sin will make you restless and unhappy until you have confessed, and God has forgiven. This is the secret—which, alas! few see, or care to know—of preserving the garments white amid pollution, the mind serene amid turmoil, the heart happy amid sorrow, the life radiant and transparent as the sun, and the spirit, temper, and carriage Christ-loving, and Christ-like. Oh the wonders of the precious blood of Christ! Who can exalt it too highly, adore it too profoundly, love, magnify, and honor it too deeply and exclusively? Will it not constitute the theme of our study, the burden of our song, and the source of our bliss as ages roll on, and never cease to roll? Beloved, the surprise then will be, that here below we should have prized it so little, traveled to it so infrequently, and glorified it so imperfectly, and have regarded it with an affection so fickle and so cold! (pp. 178-179)

4. The Fullness of Christ by Octavius Winslow (Reformation Heritage: $12.00, read online). Drawing his framework around the history of Joseph and his brothers, Winslow captures the sufficiency of Christ. You may not agree with Winslow’s hermeneutic but through the framework he is faithful to the character and work of Christ. It’s a unique work and a treasure I return to often I my personal devotional time. Here is one choice excerpt:

In Him, this Divine, this wonderful Being, ALL FULLNESS dwells. In whom could all the fullness of the Godhead—all the mediatorial fullness of the Church dwell, but in the Son of God! But take the “fullness” particularly spoken of in this passage, the mediatorial fullness of Christ; and in whom, other than a being essentially God, could all fullness of merit, all fullness of righteousness, all fullness of grace, all fullness of pardon, all fullness of sanctification, all fullness of wisdom, all fullness of love, all fullness of sympathy, all fullness of compassion, in a word, all fullness of all supply, possibly dwell? …And in what does this fullness consist? A fullness of dignity to atone, a fullness of life to quicken, a fullness of righteousness to justify, a fullness of virtue to pardon, a fullness of grace to sanctify, a fullness of power to preserve, a fullness of compassion and sympathy to comfort, and a fullness of salvation to save poor sinners to the uttermost; in a word, ALL fullness; a fullness commensurate with need of every kind, with trial of every form, with sorrow of every depth, with sin of every name, with guilt of every hue, yes, with every conceivable and possible necessity in which the children of God may be placed; fullness of grace here, and fullness of glory hereafter; a fullness which the Church on earth will live upon; and boast of until time be no more; a fullness which will be the delight and glory of the Church in heaven to behold, until eternity shall end. In whom could all this fullness be enthroned? (pp. 55-57)

This quote captures the passion, skill, and articulation of Octavius Winslow. What a treasure!

5. Outrageous Mercy: Rediscovering the Radical Nature of Christianity by William P. Farley (Baker; out of print). Pastor Farley has become a friend over the years. His book, which briefly appeared in 2004 from Baker, is a gem. This is one book on the cross that you should make sacrifices to find. Here is one excerpt:

We can know all about the cross, and we can believe in the cross, but we can also relegate it to a back shelf in our thoughts and priorities. This is Christianity on the decline. If it is true of you and your church, you can reverse this trend. It is imperative that we do so. We can put the cross on the back shelf and still be Christians, but the slide will continue. The children of those who accept a Christianity centered in something other than the cross won’t put the cross on the back shelf; they will put Christianity on the back shelf. And the next generation might even forget the faith altogether (p. 35).

I’m hopeful Outrageous Mercy will be printed again in the future.


So those are some important, lesser-known books on the cross I would encourage you to incorporate into your library of resources and spiritual diet.

Now, what about you? What books have ministered the cross of Christ to your soul?