EVENING THOUGHTS, or
DAILY WALKING WITH GOD
Octavius Winslow, 1858
“Let my prayer be set forth before you as
incense; and the lifting up of my hands
as the evening sacrifice.” Psalm 141:2
“It is God that justifies.” Rom. 8:33
IT would appear that there are two links in this marvelous chain—the purpose of God, and its final consummation; both so remote and invisible, as to bring the mind to a calm, unquestioning belief in certain doctrines of God’s word, which may more properly belong to the “deep things of God.” But while the two extremes of this chain of truths must for the present be left invisibly locked in God’s hand; there are certain intermediate and visible links, upon which if the perplexed and inquiring reader lay hold, he shall be saved, though all the rest remains wrapped in the profoundest mystery—like its Divine Author, dwelling in lone and unapproachable grandeur.
It is not essential to our salvation that we lift the veil of that awful mystery, and penetrate the depths of a past predestination, and a future glory; but it is essential to our salvation that we are called of God, and that by God we are justified. We may arrive at heaven without fathoming the awful profound of the one extreme, and with but twilight views of the magnificence spreading over all the other; but we cannot get to heaven without the Spirit’s grace and Christ’s righteousness. Grasp in faith, and receive into your heart, these two central and essential truths, and they will by and by lift you into a sunnier region, where all the rest will stand forth, clear and transparent, bathed in the noontide splendor of heaven’s own glory.
“It is God that justifies.” We believe that by many this cardinal doctrine of God’s justification is but imperfectly understood, and but indistinctly seen in its results. The lofty position of security in which it places the believer, the liberty, peace, and hope, into which it brings him, are points dim and obscure in the spiritual vision of many. We also believe that much of the weak, sickly Christianity of numbers is traceable, in a great measure, to the crude and gloomy conceptions they form of God, produced by not clearly seeing the interest which he felt, and the initiatory part which he took, in the great matter of our justification. Let our faith but trace the act of our justification to God, and we have placed ourselves upon a vantage-ground of the boldest defiance to all our enemies. Survey the truth in this light for a moment. Against whom have you sinned? Adopting David’s confession, you exclaim, “Against You, You only, have I sinned.” Having sinned against God, from God, then, you looked for the condemnation. You had violated His law, and from the lips of the Lawgiver you waited the sentence. When, lo! He declares Himself on your side.
Descending as from His tribunal, He comes and stands in your place, and avows Himself your Justifier. “It is God that justifies.” Upon you, a culprit, trembling at His bar, He throws His own righteousness, “which is unto all, and upon all those who believe;” and from that moment you are justified. Shall we, then, be indifferent to the part the Father took in the great question of our acceptance? Shall we cherish the shy and suspicious thought of God, as if He looked coldly at us, and felt that in pleading for His mercy, we were infringing upon His righteousness? Oh, no! Away with such thoughts of God! He it is who pronounces the act of your acquittal, and from His lips sound the glorious words, “No condemnation!” “It is God that justifies.”