The Octavius Winslow Reading Group: Help Heavenward (Chapter 11)

Well ladies and gentlemen, you did it. You made it through your very first book written by the late Rev. Octavius Winslow D.D. How does it feel?

I hope that those of you who are new to Winslow and have followed along with us have fallen in love with his Christ centered and gospel focused writing. At the end of this post, I would really appreciate it if you would please comment on your overall experience from this series and what you think of Winslow now that you have tasted in his literary goodness.

It’s been my pleasure and humble honor to have tried to lead you through Help Heavenward and it is my hope that you not only have been taken by this book but will now go on to read more of his works.

It has been my primary mission here to expose believers to him and his works and I hope I have somewhat accomplished that in this meager little series.

Now, sadly, for our final chapter.

Our adorable Lord came down to earth to allure us up to heaven. In all His delineations of that happy, holy place, He sought to present it to the believing eye clad in its richest beauty, and invested with its sweetest and most winning attractions. Its hope was to sanctify us, its prospect was to animate us, and its foretastes were to comfort us.

Sufficient, however, of the vail was uplifted to reveal the fact of its existence, to awaken the desire and to inspire the hope of its possession. We cite, as illustrating this, the words at the head of this chapter. They are few, but how expressive! Heaven is portrayed as our FATHER’S HOUSE. What a precious, endearing, attractive view does this give us of our future and final rest—our eternal abode!

He tells us it is a house—a Father’s dwelling and that within its walls there are many mansions, one of which awaits each of us; and then, He bids us not to be troubled in heart by reason of the sorrow and privation of our present exile, since ere long He would come and take us home.

While reading this chapter, I began to think of the fact that countless scores of believers that have gone on before us have distilled holy scripture of all of its illustrations and images of our future happy land that they might store them upon their minds and hearts that they might never forget that as their last breath would exit their bodies, they would finally be in that golden land with their Lord. They would suckle upon these minute images as honey to draw from them soul nourishment to ease their uncomfortable pilgrimage and ever wishful eye. That they would be in great trial, tribulation, suffering, pain, torment, and persecution and have only these brief words to grasp their souls arms upon to keep from losing heart and to bolster their ever weakening faith. They, as we, have a destination. It is our Father’s house!

The FATHERHOOD of God is the first truth our Lord propounds in connexion with this picture of heaven. It was a natural and befitting introduction to His attractive theme. In speaking of the Father’s house, He would first reveal to us the parental relation of God. We could never have given to this truth the grasp of faith it demands had not Christ revealed and explained it. It was He who first taught our lips to say, “Our Father!” In asserting His own relation as an Elder Brother, He flung around the entire brotherhood the filial bond that linked both Himself and them to the same God and Father.

Next, Winslow goes into a bit of proof texting to further shore up our heavenly confidence in the precious doctrine of our Adoption. What sweeter discover can be made by the feeble believer than to know and fully understand that he is now God’s son or daughter! No longer are we cast outside of the family home of the King of that great land but we have been searched out in the streets and byways of the outer city of His kingdom and have been brough nigh inside the castle gates, we have been washed clean, our infirmities are all gone, and we are now clothed in the sweet smelling raiment prepared for us by the King Himself! And no one can ever take that from us!

He states the examples below:

Let us cite a few examples. Speak we of prayer? Hear Him cry, “O righteous FATHER, the world hath not known thee, but I have known thee. I know, FATHER, that thou hearest me alway.” Speak we of duty? Hear Him exclaim, “Wist ye not that I must be about my FATHER’S business?” Speak we of reverence! Hear Him say, “Even so FATHER, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Speak we of submisson? Listen to His words, “Not my will, O my FATHER, but thine, be done.” Approach we the solemn scene of His death? Hear Him exclaim, amidst the maddening tortures of the cross, the thunders of God’s anger, the lightning of God’s justice rolling and flashing above and around Him, “FATHER, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” Do we track His footsteps to the mount from the summit of which He went back to glory? Hear His parting words, “I ascend unto my FATHER, and unto your FATHER.” And as we return from these hallowed scenes, we ask ourselves, Is it any marvel that He, the Elder Brother, who could so embosom Himself in the Fatherhood of God, should teach our faltering lips, when we prostrate ourselves before the Divine Majesty of heaven and earth, to breathe the prayer, “Our FATHER, which art in heaven?” O beloved, allow your heart no repose, and the Holy Spirit no rest, until He seal ABBA, FATHER, upon your heart!

Next he turns his attention to our Father’s HOUSE:

We have alluded to the hallowed attractions and the sunny memories which cluster around the paternal home. Transfer your thoughts, my reader, from the earthly to the heavenly,— take the purest, the fondest, the most poetic conception you can form of the one, and blend it with the other,—and still you have but the faintest analogy of heaven! And yet you have made some approximation to the idea. You have entwined around your heart the image and hope of heaven as your HOME. Earth has some foreshadowings of this truth. If “now are we the children of God,” then ours is not a state of dreary orphanage—we are not fatherless and homeless.

If, then, we are not fatherless, there is a sense in which we are not homeless: but that the lower rooms, the outer courts, the vestibules of the heavenly Home, are found on earth, in which we meet and hold communion with our heavenly Father. What is the sanctuary, filled with His glory,—the closet, hallowed with His presence,—the chamber of sickness, soothed with His love,—the hill-side, where at even-tide we go to meditate, sanctified with His fellowship, but our Father’s Home coming down out of heaven to dwell a while with His children on earth? Where my Father is, there is my Father’s house.

Winslow picks up on some very clever thoughts regarding the concept of our HOME here on earth. Frankly, I have never considered it this way, but have come to conclude he is indeed correct. We have here on earth but shadows and whispers of our future glorious home in such graces such as worship, prayer, meditation, and fellowship. It is as if a little bit of heaven has come down from on high and has done us a tremendous mercy in relieving our heart’s yearning pangs in these blessed events! Oh that He thinks so dearly of us in His beloved Son!

“In my Father’s house there are many mansions.” Guided by these words, the first view which it presents to the mind is its appointed and prepared state. We go to no uncertain home. It is the family mansion, eternally ordained and prepared for the dwelling of the saints. The everlasting love which chose us to salvation, the predestination which appointed us to be sons, provided the home we were eternally to occupy.

The apostle, too, reminds us that it is “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, RESERVED in heaven for you.” And did not our blessed Lord declare the same truth when He said, “I go to PREPARE a place for you.” We go, then, to a home all appointed and prepared, all garnished and made ready for our coming.

Personally speaking, I have some medical problems with my legs. I have a condition that will not allow the blood in the lower parts of my legs to be pumped back up to my heart. Therefore, the blood pools below my knees and causes me tremendous pain throughout the day. There is not one portion of my daily life that I am not in some degree of pain. What often will bring me great comfort is to lie in bed as still as I can and close my eyes and begin to think that there is a heavenly city and a heavenly home being prepared for me this very instant and that when I finally come to its doorway, my pain will be no more. My sleepless nights and pain filled days will be long forgotten and I will finally enter into my Kings celestial home. A home for me. A home for you.

Next, Winslow begins to explore the rooms of the mansion a bit:

The solemn hour of death once passed, the spirit, upborne by angels, finds itself at once ushered into the RECEPTION-ROOM of heaven, the first of the “many mansions.” There we shall see Jesus, not seated, but standing,—as when He rose to receive His first martyr,—to welcome us home, encircled by the general assembly and church of the first-born, the spirits of just men made perfect, and an innumerable company of angels, waiting to greet our arrival. In advance, and more eager than all the rest of that blessed throng, will be the loved ones from whom we parted on the margin of the river across which they passed to the Celestial City. Oh, what a reception! what greetings! what joy-wishings then!

What a joyous notion! Finally, as we close our eyes in mortal death and open them in infinite life we will see our Lord standing before us to welcome us home and embrace us as His own. Believing loved ones who have died in the Lord before us will be there to welcome us home along with the shouts of countless angels. Blessed thought!

The Heavenly Repast, which succeeds the reception, will introduce us into the BANQUET-HALL of heaven, another mansion of the Father’s house. We have remarked that there are bright gleams of heaven falling upon earth’s shadows. Among the most resplendent of these are the foretastes of the banquet which awaits us on high.

It is thus described by the evangelical Isaiah: “In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a FEAST of fat things, a FEAST of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.” How full and rich is the gospel of Christ! How divine the provision—how ample the supply—how free the invitation! The forgiveness of all and every sin,—your reconciliation with the offended Majesty of heaven,—peace in your soul so divine, so great, that it “passeth all understanding,”—life and immortality, the consummation and crown of its blessings! Oh, pray for and cherish a spiritual zest for this banquet!

There Christ will nourish you with the finest of the wheat; with honey from the rock will He satisfy you. Never forget that such is the fulness of the gospel of Christ, such its variety of blessings, such the sufficiency of its supply, and such the freeness of its bestowment, that it meets every case, every trial, every phase, and every want of our humanity! What a banquet, too, is the Lord’s Supper, where, perhaps, the brightest gleams of glory fall, since that, of all other institutions of Christ, the most closely unites and blends the atoning death and the millennial glory of Christ.

Oh to finally sit down among the myriads and myriads of saints to feast finally at our Lord’s banquet table! The countless Sunday Lord’s Table provisions while on earth were only shadowing this final moment when finally He will sit among us and drink the wine He said he would not until we had joined Him. What must this meal be like? Imagine the pains and trials of the previous life only making that moment all the more delicious to our senses. Can you imagine it? I cannot!

The Father’s house has also its MUSIC-MANSION. Adoration and praise would seem to constitute the principal employment of the redeemed in heaven. The visions of glory which floated before the eye of John were all associated with music. To his sea-girt isle were wafted the strains of the song sung by the hundred and forty and four thousand who stood on Mount Zion.

And who and what are the subjects of their song?—Jesus and His Redemption? “Thou art worthy, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” Blended with the song of Redemption will be the song of PROVIDENCE. Retracing all the way thy God led thee through the wilderness, thou shalt gather material from each mercy and from each trial, from each joy and from each sorrow, for an eternal hymn of praise to His great and glorious name. Beloved, you are learning these songs now in the house of your pilgrimage. As you cross the desert sands, or break your lone footsteps through the depth of the wilderness, or stand within the sacred shadow of the cross, God is preparing you for the Music-mansion of glory. All His dealings with you in providence and in grace are but to train and attune the powers, affections, and sympathies of your soul to the sweet harmony of the spheres.

Oh to be in this room! What must these sounds be like? Those saints whose trials have tuned their voices to sing with utmost of praise must bellow throughout the halls corridors. Imagine the throng singing praises to their King! Countless upon countless souls lifting up with one voice the Lamb who was slain. All honor and all glory is He due!

The THRONE-ROOM of heaven is not one of the least appropriate and gorgeous mansions of the Father’s house. The saints of God are a kingdom of priests—a royal priesthood—the heirs of a kingdom. And no character in their glorified state will be more visible and distinct than their regal one.

A public and glorious enthronement and coronation awaits you. A royal priest, you will ere long be made like Christ, a “priest upon His THRONE.” Emerging from your present incognito—the ignorance of the world and the cold neglect of the Church—you will be ushered into the THRONE-ROOM of glory, saints and angels will escort you to your seat, and, amidst the halleujah chorus of countless myriads, Christ will CROWN you a KING and a PRIEST unto God, and you shall REIGN with Jesus for ever and ever. Oh, whatever obscurity may now vail your relation as belonging to the seed-royal, let your demeanor be such as to stamp you with the character once ascribed to Gideon’s brethren, of whom it was said, that “each one resembled the CHILDREN of a KING!”

Next Winslow draws us inside the glorious throne room where we shall sit beside our Lord forever and ever. To be in His presence as He rules over the universe as a glorious redemptive King. We will be there dressed in robes of resplendent glory that mortal eyes might melt if they were to view them. We will be with Him and shall never again depart!

We are trespassing not upon the region of Imagination when, in depicting the spiritual architecture and appointments of the Father’s house, we refer to the PICTURE-GALLERY as constituting one of its most appropriate and attractive mansions. It is not materializing heaven to transfer to its spiritual descriptions the expressive imagery of the material. In so doing we but imitate the Holy Ghost, who, in all His spiritual delineations of glory, hesitates not to dip His divine pencil in the bright, gorgeous colors with which God has tinted and enamelled this beautiful world.

Upon the walls of that magnificent gallery, depicted in color of living light, will be seen all the marvellous events of God’s moral and providential government in the history of the universe, separately, visibly, and eternally traced. Nor this only. What will be our astonishment and marvel, when we gaze upon the walls of that gallery, to behold our individual history, from our entrance into this world of woe, to our entrance into the world of glory,—each event, each epoch, each step delineated with a life-like truthfulness, a depth of tint, and a transparency of color which shall reveal all the past with startling vividness, overpowering the mind with wonder, and expanding the heart with praise! Incidents which we had failed to note, events which we had totally forgotten, providences which we had blindly seen, and circumstances which we had strangely misunderstood, will then form a series of pictures, presenting a complete and perfect history of our individual life, illustrating the infinite wisdom, goodness, faithfulness, and love of our Father throughout the whole.

Now this is a room I am most interested to walk in. To see, painted on the walls, every trial and joy given to us on our earthly pilgrimage by the hand of our Father and the reason why it was given. To see, finally, why the Lord allowed such and such incident to occur in our lives and how it had a profound affect on drawing our souls heavenward. Who of us does not say, from time to time, “why is the Lord allowing this to happen to me”? We will then finally know why!

Among the many mansions there will not be wanting one which will especially recognize heaven as a place of study. What a LIBRARY of knowledge, therefore, awaits us in our Father’s house! Heaven is a place of thought, of expanded intellect, of matured and ever-enlarging and enriching mind. Our minds are but in the infancy of their being; and the themes of reflection and subjects of research which they grasp are necessarily graduated to our present infantine and limited powers.

And will THE BOOK have no place in that library? Verily, I believe that it will. I do not think that in the archives of heaven, the Sacred Scroll of God’s Revealed Truth will be missing. That most marvellous of all wonderful books, the BIBLE,—the parent, and source, and foundation of all that was accurate in history, true in philosophy, profound in science, rich in poetry, sound in ethics, and real in religion,—will then unclasp its lids and unfold its leaves; and in a light that will explain every truth, elucidate every mystery, harmonize every discrepance, we shall read the Bible as we never studied its wondrous contents before. Not a truth will be lost.

The Library of Knowledge! What a thought! To be able to open the volumes of the wealth of God’s knowledge, or at least what He will allow us to know, to be able to comprehend and understand so much! I can;t even begin to wrap my mind around it. And the, probably in the center of this library, may lie the Best of Books. We will then be able to read its pages and understand so much more than our fallen minds could while on earth! I want to understand what was going through Eve’s mind!

Conclusion

Well, that’s it folks. We’re all done! What did you think? What say you of this 19th century Victorian pastor and writer now? What has this book helped you to see or understand?

By all means, please take some time and write your reflections below in the comment section. I am so excited to hear from you.

Thanks for reading along with me!

Fin

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5 thoughts on “The Octavius Winslow Reading Group: Help Heavenward (Chapter 11)

  1. Matthew,

    I am, so grateful that you invited us to read this book. This was the first time for me to read Winslow, and I just loved his style and insight.

    I am sorry, I couldn’t keep up posting on my blog or commenting here on the last few chapters (time did not permit it). But I can say that it made a great impact on me to see through the words of this author, how doctrine was so rooted in his life that he was able to give biblical encouragement and exhortations throughout his book in such a natural way. I want to be like him, I pray that God’s Word, that sound doctrine will be the lens through which I may see every single circumstance that comes to me; and that I may be able to speak about it to my children.

    I am grateful that Winlsow encouraged us, his readers, to live with our eyes fixed on heaven. As I was memorizing Philippians, I was reminded how this was also Paul’s ONE goal… “to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (3:14) That God will grant me that ONE vision.

    Thank you for the time you put into each of the summaries. I will sure come back and re-read them.

    Thanks again for hosting this. I really enjoyed it.

    Blessings to your wife.

  2. Thank you again and again, Matthew, for doing this and writing your commentaries. I had only read a few quotes here and there of Winslow, so I was not very familiar with him. I was hooked after the first chapter, and chapter 3, “The Burdened Gently Led By Christ,” has been one that I have not only recommended several times, but one that I have gone back to for encouragement. It is a beautiful chapter and my favorite. I am glad to know about it and have it to share with others.

    He reminds me of Spurgeon with his words so heavy laden with a view towards love for Christ. That is what is so encouraging about his writing–his (Winslow) continually bringing us further and further to a complete vision of Jesus Christ!

    This book has mainly helped me to understand in a fuller way the confidence I can have of the magnificent ways that God loves His children.

    Thanks again and may the Lord bless.

  3. Very much grateful for the opportunity and challenge to newly experience Octavius Winslow. Help Heavenward was my third book with Winslow. The first was No Condemnation which caused me to search for a second, The Precious Things of God.

    Over on GraceGems.org they list Winslow as “The most Comforting Author.” It must be true. Every sentence, every word practically is so full of Heaven. Didn’t it really in this chapter as he emphasized THE FATHER and The Father’s House. Just today I read and soon will post on Romans 8:26 where Winslow writes:

    “He sympathizes, too, with our infirmity in prayer, by portraying to our view the parental character of God. Sealing on our hearts a sense of adoption, he emboldens us to approach God with filial love and child-like confidence. He leads us to God as a Father. ”

    Winslow writes the bible is both “accurate in History”and “Profound in Science.” How wonderful to think of the Bible, itself there in Heaven! And also, thank you Winslow for the expressed confidence that is so often under attack today. Our Father’s house is precious beyond words, but thanks be to GOD he has given us such a book of words as the Holy Scriptures that is indeed and should be affirmed as “accurate in history” and “profound in science.”

    Grace and Peace to you and your family Matthew.
    I wonder what the context, and

  4. I was going to ask something in my above comment, but then changed my mind, however I failed in erasing this partially typed question. Since it lingers at the botttom of my above post, I’ll venture out and explain that I was wondering what context of current events might have been possibly in Winslow’s thoughts as he wrote “accurate in history” and “profound in science.” Was he at that time observing the “downgrade” Spurgeon fought so hard against? Was he cognizant of a rising interest in the fairy-tale faith of evolution even within Christendom? Was he thinking of the search for the more accurate text just beginning to become popularized in the progress of textual critical approaches to scripture? His chapter on the “Precious Word of God” within his book “The Precious Things of God” might indicate so.

    Or was he simply and boldly affirming what he knew every true believer believed concerning scripture but also knew it good for us to be reminded?

    Appreciated very much those words of confidence and in the last few days read things very similar in Schaeffer’s, The Great Evangelical Disaster. And Sam Waldron’s, “Modern Exposition of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith.” And besides that it seems even in the news of late – the controversy has moved from a creation vs evolution to simply contending with those who simply deny Adam even existed. (see Albert Mohler or Christianity Today on Peter Enns.)

    Those things are disturbing – but God is my Father, and there is a home prepared there now for all of his own in the many dwelling places in My Father’s House. And Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Praise the Lord. Hope you will allow me a litter meandering of thought and words. Besides many heavenly things, These also are things I thought as I read Winslow.

  5. Reading through this book has been more than an immense help to me! Winslow’s insights, encouragement, sincere warnings, immense love for the church and desire to see God glorified were timely reminders to seek and adore, above all things, the kingdom of my living Father, to completely trust my Lord, Saviour and Treasure Jesus and to utterly depend on my loving and gentle guide, the Holy Spirit! I enjoyed worshiping my God even as I chewed over some of the words that God, through Winslow, has left for us.

    I absolutely loved how Winslow constantly took us to God’s Word and clarified scripture using scripture. I must also add that the illustrations and elegant poetry blew my mind away! I’m very grateful for the opportunity to participate in this read and I thank God for Matthew and everyone that made this possible for all of us.

    Pertaining to the last chapter, these words also stood out to me:
    “What places of misery are some homes on earth, even where RELIGION is supposed to have found a temple and a shrine! Discord, where there should be harmony,—suspicion, where there should be confidence,—jealousy, where there should be delight,—coldness, distance, and alienation, where there should, be the warmest, closest and most endearing intercourse,—harsh, abrupt expressions, where there should be nought but pleasant words,—indifference and neglect, where there should be the profoundest interest and sympathy,—in a word, hatred, where there should be LOVE. But, beloved in the Lord, this should not be so with you! And with you it is an individual matter for our homes are just what the individual mothers of the family make them. One unhappy temper, one unbending will, one unloving, unsympathizing heart may becloud and imbitter the sunniest sweetest home on earth. Oh, cultivate the affections, the sympathies, and the intercourse you hope to perpetuate in heaven! By mutual forbearance, gentleness confidence and love; by offices of kindness, delicate attention, and graceful demeanor seek to transfer as much of the purity, love, and sunshine of your FATHER’S HOUSE above as you can to your Father’s house below. And then, when you ascend from the earthly to the heavenly, it will be but the transfer of home affection, intercourse and happiness cherished, cultivated, and sanctified here, to a higher and nobler sphere—holy as God, enduring as eternity.”

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