Octavius Winslow

“Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:11)

There is a perpetual proneness to seek our fruitfulness from anything save a close, spiritual, and constant dealing with the cross of Jesus: but as well might we expect the earth to clothe itself with verdure, or the tree to blossom, and the blossom ripen into fruit, without the sun’s genial warmth, as to look for fruitfulness in a regenerate soul, without a constant dealing with the Lord Jesus Christ; for just what the sun is to the kingdom of nature, Jesus the Sun of righteousness is to the kingdom of grace—the blessed source of all its verdure, fragrance, and fruitfulness.

Then, let all your expectations be centered here. No real good can come to you, no healing to your spirit, no fruitfulness to your soul, from a perpetual living upon convictions of sin, legal fears, or transient joys; the Divine life can derive no nourishment from these. But live upon the atoning blood of Jesus—here is the fatness of your soul found; this it is that heals the wound, wins the heart, and hushes to repose every fear of condemnation; this it is that enables a poor sinner to look full at God, feeling that justice, holiness, truth, and every Divine perfection are on his side. It is the blood of Jesus, applied by the Spirit, that moistens each fibre of the root of holiness in the soul, and is productive of its fruitfulness; this it is that sends the warm current of life through every part of the regenerate man, quickening the pulse of love, and imparting a healthy and vigorous power to every act of obedience.

And when the spiritual seasons change—for it is not always spring-time with the soul of a child of God—when the summer’s sun withers, or the autumnal blast scatters the leaves, and winter’s fiercer storm beats upon the smitten bough, the blood and righteousness of Christ, lived upon, loved, and cherished, will yet sustain the Divine life in the soul, and in due season the spring blossom and the summer fruit shall again appear, proving that the Divine life of a believer is “hid with Christ in God.” Then shall be said of you, as was said of the church by her Beloved: “The winter is past, and the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. The fig-tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Then let your heart respond, “Awake, O north wind, and come, ye south, blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.” (Sos 4:16)

Let the believer be aware how he despises what little fruitfulness the Lord the Spirit may have given him: there is danger of this. But, dear reader, it is a mercy for you to know that the Lord does not regard your estimate of a fruitful state; else, were the Lord to judge and condemn us as we do ourselves; were He to despise His own work as we too frequently do, it would indeed go hard with us. But He does not: that which we have often thought unworthy of His notice, He has looked down upon with the greatest complacency and delight. See, then, that you despise not what the Lord has wrought for you.

Any desire of the heart for Christ, any secret brokenness, any godly sorrow over indwelling sin, any feeble going out of self and leaning on Jesus, is the gracious work of the Holy Spirit in the soul, and must not be undervalued or unacknowledged!

A truly humbled view of self is one of the most precious fruits of the Spirit; it indicates more real fruitfulness, perhaps, than any other state of mind. That ear of corn which is the most full of grain hangs the lowest; that bough which is the most heavily laden with fruit bends the nearest to the ground. It is no unequivocal mark of great spiritual fruitfulness in a believer, when tenderness of conscience, contrition of spirit, low thoughts of self, and high thoughts of Jesus, mark the state of his soul. “Who hath despised the day of small things?” (Zech 4:10) not Jesus!


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