The Fifty Fruits of Pride: A Self Diagnostic

Thought provoking post from

1. Want to be Well Known or Important (Isaiah 14:13-15; James 3:13-16; Romans 12:6)

  • “I am selfishly ambitious. I really want to get ahead and make a name for myself. I want to be someone important in life. I like having a position or title. I far prefer leading to following.”

2. Sinfully Competitive

  • “I am overly competitive. I always want to win or come out on top and it bothers me when I don‟t.”

3. Want to Impress People (Luke 10:38-42)

  • “I want people to be impressed with me. I like to make my accomplishments known.”

a. Clothes or jewelry you wear.
b. Vehicle you drive.
c. Furniture you own.
d. House you live in.
e. Place you live.
f. Company you work for.
g. Amount of money you earn.
h. Food you eat.
i. How spiritual you are.
j. What you look like (physical appearance).
k. What you have accomplished.
l. What you know.
m. Where you went to school.
n. Who you know.
o. What your background is.

4. Draw Attention to Myself (Proverbs 27:2)

  • “I like to be the center of attention and will say or do things to draw attention to myself.”

5. Like to Talk About Myself

  • “I like to talk, especially about myself or persons or things I am involved with. I want people to know what I am doing or thinking. I would rather speak than listen. I have a hard time being succinct.”

6. Deceitful and Pretentious (Psalm 24:3-4, 26:2-4; Jeremiah 48:10; Proverbs 26:20-26)

  • “I tend to be deceptive about myself. I find myself lying to preserve my reputation. I find myself hiding the truth about myself, especially about sins, weaknesses, etc. I don‟t want people to know who I really am.”

7. Desire Recognition and Praise (John 5:41-44; Matthew 6:1, 23:5-7)

  • “I desire to receive recognition and credit for what I do. I like people to see what I do and let me know that they noticed. I feel hurt or offended when they don‟t. I am overly concerned about my reputation and hate being misunderstood.”

8. Not Fulfilled Serving Others (John 3:30)

  • “I am not very excited about seeing or making others successful. I tend to feel envious, jealous or critical towards those who are doing well or being honored.”

9. Self Sufficient (Matthew 4:4; John 15:5; Acts 17:25; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

  • “I tend to be self sufficient in the way I live my life. I don‟t live with a constant awareness that my every breath is dependent upon the will of God. I tend to think I have enough strength, ability and wisdom to live and manage my life. My practice of the spiritual disciplines is inconsistent and superficial. I don‟t like to ask others for help.”

10. Anxious (Psalm 4:8; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:6-7)

  • “I am often anxious about my life and the future. I tend not to trust God and rarely experience his abiding and transcendent peace in my soul. I have a hard time sleeping at night because of fearful thoughts and burdens I carry.”

11. Self Focused (Exodus 4:11; Job 10:8-11; Psalm 139:13-16; Isaiah 53:2; Jeremiah 1:5)

  • “I am overly self-conscious. I tend to replay in my mind how I did, what I said, and how I came across to others. I am very concerned about my appearance and what people think of me. I think about these things constantly.”

12. Fear Man (Proverbs 29:25)

  • “I fear man more than God. I am afraid of others and make decisions about what I will say or do based upon this fear. I am afraid to take a stand for things that are right. I am concerned with how people will react to me or perceive my actions or words. I don‟t often think about God‟s opinion in a matter and rarely think there could be consequences for disobeying him. I primarily seek the approval of man and not of God.”

13. Insecure

  • “I often feel insecure. I don‟t want to try new things or step out into uncomfortable situations because I‟m afraid I‟ll fail or look foolish. I am easily embarrassed.”

14. Compare Myself

  • “I regularly compare myself to others. I am “performance oriented.” I feel that I have greater worth if I do well.”

15. Perfectionist

  • “I am self-critical. I tend to be a perfectionist. I can‟t stand for little things to be wrong because they reflect poorly on me. I have a hard time putting my mistakes behind me.”

16. Self Serving (Philippians 2:19-22)

  • “I am self-serving. When asked to do something, I find myself asking, „How will doing this help me?‟ or „Will I be inconvenienced?‟ I am not focused on the needs and interests of others.”

17. Feel Better or Superior

  • “I feel special or superior because of what I have or do.”

18. Think Highly of Myself (Romans 12:3, 16; James 2:1-4)

  • “I think highly of myself. In relation to others I typically see myself as more mature and more gifted. In most situations, I have more to offer than others even though I may not say so. I don‟t consider myself average or ordinary.”

19. Credit Myself (1 Corinthians 4:6-7; 15:10)

  • “I tend to give myself credit for who I am and what I accomplish. I only occasionally think about or recognize that all that I am or have comes from God. I don‟t consciously transfer all glory to God for any good I have or any good I do.”

20. Self Righteous (Luke 18:9-14)

  • “I tend to be self-righteous. I can think that I really have something to offer God. I would never say so, but I think God did well to save me. I seldom think about or recognize my total depravity and helplessness apart from God. I regularly focus on the sins of others. I don‟t credit God for any degree of holiness in my life.”

21. Feel Deserving

  • “I feel deserving. I think I deserve what I have. In fact, I think I ought to have more considering how well I have lived or in light of all I have done.”

22. Ungrateful (Luke 17:11-19; Ephesians 5:19-20; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Colossians 3:15-17; Philippians 2:14)

  • “I often feel ungrateful. Instead of thanking other people, I tend to complain about them. I grumble about what I don‟t have or my lot in life. I am not amazed by grace on a regular basis and lack joy in my life.”

23. Captive to Self Pity

  • “I find myself wallowing in self-pity. I am consumed with how I am treated by God and others. I tend to feel mistreated and hate being misunderstood. I seldom recognize or sympathize with what‟s going on with others around me because I feel that I have it worse than they do.”

24. Jealous and Envious (James 3:13-16)

  • “I can be jealous or envious of others abilities, possessions, positions, accomplishments or friends. I want to be what others are or want to have what others have. I think I deserve or should have the good things other people do. I find it hard to rejoice when others are blessed by God.”

25. Unkind and Harsh (Ezekiel 16:49; Psalm 17:10; Proverbs 24:17-18; Luke 10:25-37)

  • “I am pretty insensitive to others. I feel some people just aren‟t worth caring about. I have a hard time showing compassion or extending mercy to others. Some people aren‟t worth my time and attention.”

26. Love to Reveal My Mind (Proverbs 18:2)

  • “I like to reveal my own mind. I have an answer for practically every situation and an opinion on every subject. I feel compelled to balance everyone else out and let them know my thoughts.”

27. Know It All (1 Corinthians 8:1)

  • “I have a know-it-all attitude. I am impressed by my own knowledge and understanding of things. I feel like there isn‟t much I can learn from other people, especially those less mature than me.”

28. Like People to Know I Know

  • “I feel compelled to stop people when they start to share something with me I already know.”

29. Hard to Admit I Don‟t Know

  • “I find it hard to admit it when I don’t know something. When someone asks me something I don‟t know, I will make up an answer rather than admit I don’t know.”

30. Don‟t Listen to Ordinary People

  • “I have a hard time listening to ordinary people. I listen better to those I respect or people I am wanting to leave with a good impression. I don‟t honestly listen when someone else is speaking because I am usually planning what I am going to say next.”

31. Interruptive

  • “I interrupt people regularly. I don‟t let people finish what they are saying.”

32. Don‟t Get Much Out of Teaching

  • “I don’t get much out of the teaching. I tend to evaluate the speaker rather than my own life. I grumble about hearing something a second time.”

33. Thinking of Others During Teaching

  • “I listen to teaching with other people in mind. I constantly think of those folks who need to hear and apply this teaching and wish they were here.”

34. Not Teachable (Proverbs 12:1)

  • “I‟m not very open to input. I don‟t pursue correction for my life. I tend to be unteachable and slow to repent when corrected. I don‟t really see correction as a positive thing. I am offended when people probe the motivations of my heart or seek to adjust me.”

35. Don‟t Admit Wrong Doing (Proverbs 28:13; James 5:16)

  • “I have a hard time admitting that I am wrong. I find myself covering up or excusing my sins. It is hard for me to confess my sins to others or to ask for forgiveness.”

36. Do Not Welcome Correction (Proverbs 15:12)

  • “I view correction as an intrusion into my privacy rather than an instrument of God for my welfare. I can‟t identify anyone who would feel welcome to correct me.”

37. Resent People Who Correct Me (Proverbs 9:7-9)

  • “I resent people who attempt to correct me. I don‟t respond with gratefulness and sincere appreciation for their input. Instead I am tempted to accuse them and dwell on their faults. I get bitter and withdraw.”

38. Contentious and Argumentative (James 1:19-20)

  • “When corrected, I become contentious and argumentative. I don‟t take people‟s observations seriously. I minimize and make excuses or give explanations.”

39. Get Angry or Offended With Others (1 Corinthians 6:7)

  • “I am easily angered and offended. I don‟t like being crossed or disagreed with. I find myself thinking, “I can‟t believe they did that to me.” I often feel wronged. I hate to be misunderstood by others especially those I respect and desire to think highly of me.”

40. Constantly in Conflicts (Proverbs 13:10)

  • “I have “personality conflicts” with others. I have a hard time getting along with certain kinds of people. People regularly tell me they struggle with me.”

41. Have Little Esteem or Respect for Others (Numbers 16:1-3)

  • “I lack respect for other people. I don‟t think very highly of most people. I have a hard time encouraging and honoring others unless they really do something great.”

42. Do Violence with My Mouth (Psalm 101:5; Romans 3:13-14; 3 John 1:9-10)

  • “I am a slanderer. I find myself either giving or receiving evil reports about others. I am not concerned about the effect of slander on me because of my maturity level. I think I can handle it. I only share with others the things I think they really need to know. I don‟t tell all. Anyway, the things I say or hear about people are usually true.”

43. Sow Discord (Proverbs 28:25)

  • “I am divisive. My actions and attitudes separate people rather than unite people. My words frequently undermined the confidence and trust people have in one another. I also tend to resist or resent authority. I don‟t like other people to give me orders or directions.”

44. Demean or Belittle Others

  • “With a motivation to put people in their place or look good myself, I like to demean or put others down. They need my adjustment. This includes leaders. Other people need to be humble and have a “sober” assessment of themselves.”

45. Critical

  • “I tend to be critical of others. I find myself feeling or talking negatively about people. I subtly feel better about myself when I see how bad someone else is. I find it far easier to evaluate than to encourage someone else.”

46. Self Willed and Stubborn

  • “I am self-willed and stubborn. I have a hard time cooperating with others. I really prefer my own way and often insist on getting it.”

47. Independent (Proverbs 18:1; Luke 1:51-52)

  • “I am independent and uncommitted. I don‟t really see why I need other people. I can easily separate myself from others. I don‟t get much out of the small group meetings.”

48. Unaccountable (Acts 2:42; Hebrews 10:25)

  • “I am unaccountable. I don‟t ask others to hold me responsible to follow through on my commitments. I don‟t really need accountability for my words and actions.”

49. Unsubmissive (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:5)

  • “I am unsubmissive. I don‟t like being under the authority of another person. I don‟t see submission as a good and necessary provision from God for my life. I have a hard time supporting and serving those over me. I don‟t “look up” to people and I like to be in charge. Other people may need leaders but I don‟t. It is important that my voice is always heard.”

50. Feel Mature

  • “I really appreciate somebody taking the time to put this paper together. It will really be a big help to my friends and family. However, I don‟t really need this because I think I’m pretty humble already.”

-Compiled by Brent Detwiler

Beloved, what is Heaven?

“In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.’—John 14:2.

Beloved, what is heaven? What is the final glory of the saints? Is it not the best place, the richest inheritance provided by the Father for the people ransomed and brought home to glory by His Son?

Yesterday was a difficult day.  The Mother of a childhood friend passed away from a long, hard struggle with Cancer a few days ago, and I attended the visitation last night.  When I saw the face of my dear, sweet friend, her first words were ” I don’t know how people who are not Christians do this”. This life can be filled with sadness and sorrow, love and beauty but according to God’s word it’s all fleeting. This world we know is passing away.  We as Children of God cling to the blessed hope of Heaven. It was a welcome relief to enter my Church yesterday and be able to sing praises to our God in Hymns that celebrate our joyful path to Heaven. Oh what a glorious gift God has given us!  I don’t ponder it enough dear reader and I thought it might be a wonderful encouragement for you to ponder it this fine Monday morning. Whatever your day brings, if Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior he has set aside a glorious place for you dear child to spend eternity with your King in Heaven.  There will be a day with no more sorrow, pain or tears. You will reside forever with the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. What a Joyous day that will be!

I have included the lyrics to one of the songs we sang yesterday. “When we all get to Heaven” by Eliza E. Hewitt, followed by a few words of wisdom from Octavious Winslow.

For more information on Eliza’s own struggles and inspiring testimony click here:

Sing the wondrous love of Jesus,

  1. Sing the wondrous love of Jesus,
    Sing His mercy and His grace;
    In the mansions bright and blessed
    He’ll prepare for us a place. 

    • Refrain:
      When we all get to heaven,
      What a day of rejoicing that will be!
      When we all see Jesus,
      We’ll sing and shout the victory!
  2. While we walk the pilgrim pathway,
    Clouds will overspread the sky;
    But when trav’ling days are over,
    Not a shadow, not a sigh.
  3. Let us then be true and faithful,
    Trusting, serving every day;
    Just one glimpse of Him in glory
    Will the toils of life repay.
  4. Onward to the prize before us!
    Soon His beauty we’ll behold;
    Soon the pearly gates will open;
    We shall tread the streets of gold.

Heaven is a place designated by God

Chosen and consecrated by Him for the Church redeemed by the precious blood of His dear Son. And when we enter there, we shall enter as children welcomed to a Father’s home! It will be the best that God can give us! He will bestow upon us, who deserved the least, the best in His power to bestow—the best Savior, the best robe, the best banquet, the best inheritance.

In the new heaven and the new earth there will be nothing more to taint, nothing more to sully, nothing more to embitter, nothing more to wound—no serpent to beguile, no spoiler to destroy, no sin to defile, no adversity to sadden, no misunderstanding to alienate, no tongue to defame, no suspicion to chill, no tear, nor sickness, nor death, nor parting. It will be the best part of the pure, radiant, glorified universe which God will assign to His people! Saints of the Most High!

Let the prospect cheer, sanctify, and comfort you! It will not be long that you are to labor and battle here on earth. It is but a little while that you are to occupy your present sphere of conflict, of trial, and of sorrow. The time is coming—oh, how fast it speeds! Soon the Lord Jesus Christ will bring you home to heaven!

Grace Gems: Octavius Winslow (1808 – 1878)

Words of Wisdom from Mary Winslow

The Mother of Octavius Winslow,  Mary Forbes (1774–1854) had Scots roots but was born and raised in Bermuda and was the only child of Dr. and Mrs George Forbes. On September 6, 1791, when she was just 17, she married Army Lieutenant Thomas Winslow of the 47th Regiment. Shortly after this, she came under spiritual convictions and was brought to gospel deliverance while pleading the promise, “Ask, and ye shall receive”. Christ Himself powerfully told her heart, “I am Thy salvation!” and she was saved.

Mary and Thomas Winslow went on to live in England and Octavius was born in Pentonville, a village near London, on August 1, 1808. He was the eighth of 13 children. Those children recorded in the family bible of Robert Winslow, brother of Octavius, are:

  • Thomas Forbes (1795)
  • Isaac Deblois (1799)
  • Edward (1801)
  • George Erving (1804)
  • Henry James (1806)
  • Robert Forbes (1807)
  • Octavius (1808,
  • Forbes (1810)
  • Emma (1813)
  • Mary (1814)

Sadly, Thomas and Mary had three children who died before their first birthday. They are:

  • Mary (1814)
  • Robert Deblois (1798)
  • Mary Elizabeth (1803).

Octavius seems to have been given his name because he was then the eighth surviving child.

Thomas was from a wealthy family but by 1815, following his retirement from the army, he suffered ill-health and the loss of his fortune due to one of several national financial disasters that occurred in this period. A decision was soon made to move to America, but before Mr. Winslow could join his wife and children in New York, he died. At the same time, their youngest child died too. Octavius was but 7 years old.

Widowed at 40, responsible for a large family, and scarcely settled in America, Mrs Winslow’s entire life was turned upside down. Worst of all, spiritual darkness and despondency overwhelmed her for many months. They were a deeply religious family and Octavius later wrote a book about their experiences from his mother’s perspective in a book entitled Life in Jesus.

Family historian D. Kenelm Winslow recorded their plight:

Mary had the youngsters out on the streets of New York selling matches and newspapers as soon as they were old enough for such tasks. She set them to any job they could tackle, gathering them around her at night for scripture reading followed by a good sound evangelical harangue and prayers.

Mary and her children lived in New York City until 1820. Then, after a four month visit back to England, they would then move to Sing Sing, NY on the Hudson River for “four years of congenial repose”. In 1824, they would move back to New York City for a season of “special revival” where brothers Octavius, Isaac, and George would become converted and later convinced of God’s calling to ministry.

Winslow was saved under the ministry of Samuel Eastman, pastor of Stanton Street Baptist Church in New York City. On Wednesday, April 11, 1827, Octavius shared his testimony and professed his faith in his Savior. He would later be baptized in the Hudson River on the Lord’s Day of May 6 at 4pm. Mary would later pen this:

My children are earnestly engaged in bringing sinners where the Holy Ghost is displaying His mighty power. They visit from house to house, dealing faithfully with all they meet who know not God

Wonderful Article from Theology for Girls.

Mary Winslow

What a constant source of temptation the world is, in some shape or other, to the believer all through his journey homeward!  Its cares and its pursuits, its pleasures and its claims, lawful though they be, yet, through the weakness of the flesh, are a constant snare to the heavenly pilgrim!  Its principles and its spirit are adverse to the prosperity of the soul, which struggles on through a host of foes. “Precious Jesus, strengthen Your poor dust, and enable me to cling closer and closer to You.”

“At times my heart is overwhelmed with a sense of His unmerited love towards one so utterly unworthy. I long to be with Him. The thought of heaven is very sweet. I long to see Him in glory who has so frequently and tenderly dealt with me. 

Live much in heaven, and earth will grow less attractive. 

Whatever draws or drives us to Jesus is good. The oftener we go the better. The Lord frequently places us in such peculiar circumstances as compel us to apply to Him for the help we can get nowhere else. May the Lord enable us more and more to look alone to Him, for He is a present help in every time of need. His heart overflows with tenderness, sympathy, and love. 

It is good to feel that we are in the Lord’ hands, and that all our trials, small and great, are designed by Him for the furthering His work in our souls. They are great blessings in disguise to a child of God. Nothing takes place, within or without, but is designed for our especial benefit and the glory of His own dear name. We shall have to thank Him for all when we see Him face to face. What a blessed time will that be! How much do we need of weaning from this poor disappointing world; a world lying in the wicked one; and yet so closely do we cling to it. He who loves us is compelled to give us many a wrench to tear us from it. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” 

by Mary Winslow
Mary Winslow (1774-1854) married Thomas Winslow an army captain stationed in London. Widowed at forty, this God-fearing mother took her family of ten children to New York. All of the children became Christians, and three sons became evangelical ministers. Octavius Winslow was one of them and later wrote a book entitled “Life In Jesus” about his family’s experiences from his mother’s perspective.

Solitude Sweetened

I have had the greatest time lately. No parties, excitement or anything the least bit entertaining. I have simply been learning how to handle being still. This has nothing to do with contemplative anything, or quieting my mind or new age-ey style meditation. It’s simply something I have never really done before. Sitting still and getting alone and quiet, just me, my Bible and God. I have always read my Bible and studied but it’s been such a chore for me to just relax and learn to savor solitude. I was a very hyper little kid growing up and my Mom used to joke that there was never a time when I actually sat still. Literally I have always been moving.  I was always dancing around, getting  into things or trying to figure something out.  Unfortunately I am still a fidget-er and yes, a late night flopper just like on the mattress commercials. Old habits do in fact die hard…

It’s been difficult for me to try to learn how to relax and enjoy being quiet and reflective…God has been showing me how important this is and the bearing it has on my health, attitude and overall well being. I am slowly learning to enjoy life in the slow lane, moment by moment and to cherish the time I have doing well, much of nothing really.  I have been trying to take the time to really grasp scripture, and realize as a Christian that no matter my circumstance, having Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior is such a big deal, it transcends any and everything I could ever face. Just thinking about God and life and  how all those cliches about smelling coffee and roses really are true sometimes.  During this time I have come to love so many wonderful writers but Octavius Winslow has quickly become a favorite. This is his, a Brother in Christ and a lover of solitude. Enjoy gentle reader……


Solitude Sweetened

Octavius Winslow

“I am not alone, because the Father is with me” —John 16:32.

It was not one of the least mournful features in the Savior’s humiliation that the path he trod was in a measure solitary, and that the sorrow he endured was in its character a lonely one. He had created and had peopled the world—he had given to man a social constitution, had inspired the pulsation of love, and had imparted to his creatures a secret and strong affinity of mind to mind; and yet he was in the world as one to whom it afforded no home, and proffered no friendship. And was this no felt-trial to the Son of God? Did it enter nothing into the curse which he came to endure? Did it add no gall-bitter to his cup, no keenness to the sadness of his heart, no deepening to the shade upon his brow? Did the absence of a perfectly congenial mind, assimilating spirit, fond, confiding, sympathizing heart, on whose pillow he could lay to rest the corroding cares and mental disquietudes which agitated his own, create no aching void in the Redeemer’s bosom? Surely it must. Our Lord was human—though divine—and as man he must have felt, at times, an intensity of yearning for human companionship proportioned to his capacity to enjoy, and his power to enrich it. The human sympathies and affections that belonged to him, pure and elevated as they were, could only awaken a responsive chord in a human breast. And for this he must have sighed. He was formed for the enjoyment of life, was endowed with a sensibility to the objects around him. He had affections—and he delighted to indulge them: he had a heart—and he longed to bestow it.

There were times, too, when he seemed to contract an attachment to inanimate objects: the tree beneath whose shade he had occasionally sat, the fields over whose verdure he had roamed, the sequestered spots where he had often strayed, the sea whose shores he had frequently trod, the mountain-slopes where he had been wont to stand, associated as they were with communion with God and converse with his disciples, had become sacred and endeared haunts to the holy and sensitive heart of Jesus.

It might indeed be said that the Savior loved and coveted solitude, occasionally stealing away to some favorite place for meditation and prayer. But there were other and more frequent occasions, especially in the deep, lonely sorrow of Gethsemane, when he seemed to feel the need and to ask the soothing of human sympathy. With what melting tones must these words have fallen on the ears of his little band of followers: “Tarry here, and watch with me.”

Yes, our Lord’s was a solitary life. He mingled indeed with man—he labored for man—he associated with man—he loved man—but he “trod the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with him.” And yet he was not all alone. Creatures, one by one, had indeed deserted his side, and left him homeless, friendless, solitary—but there was One, the consciousness of whose ever-clinging, ever-brightening, ever-cheering presence infinitely more than supplied the lack. “Behold, the hour comes, yes, is now come, that you shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.”

But from the history of Jesus let us turn to a parallel page in the history of his saints. The disciples of Christ, like their Lord and Master, often feel themselves alone. The season of sickness—the hour of bereavement—the period of trial, is often the occasion of increased depression from the painful consciousness of the solitude and loneliness in which it is borne. The heavenly way we travel is more or less a lonely way. We have, at most, but few companions. It is a “little flock,” and only here and there we meet a traveler, who, like ourselves, is journeying towards the Zion of God. As the way is narrow, trying and humiliating to flesh, but few, under the drawings of the Spirit, find it.

If, indeed, true religion consisted in mere profession, then there were many for Christ. If the marks of discipleship were merely an orthodox creed—excited feeling—denominational zeal—flaming partisanship, then there are many that “find the way.” But if the true travelers are men of broken heart—poor in spirit—who mourn for sin—who know the music of the Shepherd’s voice—who follow the Lamb—who delight in the throne of grace—and who love the place of the cross, then there are but ‘few’ with whom the true saints journey to heaven in fellowship and communion.
But the path is even narrower than this—the circle is smaller still. How few real companions do we meet even among the saints of God! Loving them as we do, and yearning for a wider fellowship, yet how few there are with whom we can walk side by side! Doctrine divides us from some. If we speak of God’s eternal love, and free choice, and discriminating mercy, we offend. “When our Lord preached the doctrine of sovereign grace, we read that “from that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” O it is a solemn and affecting thought, that even the very doctrines of Christ’s gospel build a wall of partition between his true disciples.

Church government and ordinances sunder others. The blemishes and imperfections still clinging to the saints, such indeed as separated Paul and Barnabas, often interrupt the full harmony of Christian communion.

The difference of spirituality, too, which we find in the Lord’s people, tends to abate much of that communion which ought to distinguish the one family of God. We meet, perhaps, with but few who have been taught precisely in our school, who see truth as we see it, and who observe ordinances as we observe them, or who can understand the intricacies of Christian experience through which, with toil and difficulty, we are threading our way. Few keep the same pace in the Christian race with us. Some linger behind, while others outrun us. There is one always so lost in a sense of his unworthiness as never to enter into our joy; and there is another towering, as on the eagle’s wing, and soaring into a region whose very purity awes, and whose effulgence dazzles us. Thus are we learning the solitariness of the way, even in the very church and family of God within which we are embosomed.

But not from these causes alone springs the sense of loneliness which the saints often feel. There is the separation of loving hearts, and of kindred minds, and of intimate relationships, by the providential ordering and dealings of God. The changes of this changing world—the alteration of circumstances—the removals to new and distant positions—the wastings of disease and the ravages of death, often sicken the heart with a sense of friendlessness and loneliness which finds its best expression in the words of the Psalmist: “I watch, and am as a sparrow alone on the house-top.” But if God “places the solitary in families,” as he occasionally does, he more frequently sets the godly apart from others; and this has often been found to be one of his wisest and holiest appointments. “Come away and rest awhile;” “I will allure her into the wilderness,” are divine expressions which would seem to indicate this instructive truth.

Shall we enter the chamber of sickness? Ah! what solitude reigns here. The gentle movement, the subdued voice, the soft tread, the smouldering embers, the shaded light, all signify that the scenes and the society and the excitement of the world without, intrude not upon the stillness of that world within. Weeks and months and years roll on, and still God keeps his child a “prisoner of hope.” But since he has done it, it must be well done, for “his way is perfect.”

To be arrested in the midst of activity, enterprise, and usefulness,—to be snatched from the pinnacle of honorable distinction, from the scene of pleasant labor, from the soothing society of friends, from the bosom of the domestic circle, within all of which we were so warmly nestled, and to find ourselves the sickly occupant of a lone and gloomy chamber, from which books and friends and family are excluded, is to some a trial of faith and patience demanding grace of no ordinary degree. The pastor torn from his flock, feels it,—the minister banished from his pulpit, feels it,—the Christian laborer laid aside from his loved employ, feels it,—the mother separated from her little ones, feels it; all feel it to be a school of which, though the teaching is most blessed, yet the discipline is most severe.

Shall we enter the house of mourning? Here is solitude indeed—the heart-aching solitude such as death only can create. What an awful stillness reigns here! The dread silence of all sounds has entered; even the living seem to hold their breath while the king of terrors passes by. The blinded windows—the light foot-fall—the wrapped thoughtfulness—the suppressed conversation—the air of desolateness resting on each countenance—and speaking from each eye, betokens how sad and deep and lonely is the grief with which each heart is breaking. Ah, yes! what a solitude does death often create in the life of the Christian.

The old companion, and the confiding friend removed—the “strong staff broken, and the beautiful rod,”—what a blank does the universe appear? But should we murmur at the solitary way along which our God is conducting us? Is it not his way, and therefore the best way? In love he gave us friends—in love he has removed them. In goodness he blessed us with health—in goodness he has taken it away. In faithfulness he vouchsafed to us affluence—in faithfulness he has recalled it.

And yet this is the way along which he is conducting us to glory. And shall we rebel? Heaven is the home of the saints; “here we have no continuing city.” And shall we repine that we are in the right road to heaven? What, if in weariness and sorrow, you were journeying to the metropolis, where your heart’s fondest treasure was embosomed; and you were to come to a way on whose finger-post was inscribed,—“The road to London,” or, “The road to Paris,” would you, because that road was lone and dreary and irksome, indulge in repining feelings, or waste your moments and your energies in useless regrets? Would you divert into another and an opposite, because a more pleasant and inviting path?

No! The image of your home with its sweet attractions—reposing like a fairy island in the sunny distance—would give wings to your feet, and carpet every step of that rough way with a soft mantle of green. Christ, your heart’s treasure, is there! And will you murmur that the way that leads you to it and to him is sometimes enshrouded with dark and mournful solitude? O the distinguished privilege of treading the path that Jesus walked in!

But the solitude of the Christian has its sweetness. The Savior tasted it when he said, “I am not alone, because the Father is with me;” and all the lonely way that he traveled he leaned upon God. Formed for human friendship, and even knowing something of its enjoyment—for there reposed upon his breast the disciple whom he loved—he yet drew the love that sweetened his solitude from a higher than a human source. His disciples were scattered, and he was left to plod his weary way alone: but his Father with him—O this was enough!

The companionship of God is the highest, purest, sweetest mercy a saint of God can have on earth. Yes, it is the highest, purest, sweetest bliss the saints of God can have in heaven. What is the enjoyment of heaven? Not merely exemption from trial, and freedom from sorrow, and rest from toil, and release from conflict: O no! it is the presence—the full, unclouded presence of our Father there. To be with Christ—to behold his glory—to gaze upon his face—to hear his voice—to feel the throbbings of his bosom—to bask in the effulgence of God’s presence—O this is heaven, the heaven of heaven!

The twilight of this glory we have here on earth. “I am not alone,” can each sorrowful and banished soul exclaim, “because the Father is with me.” Yes, beloved, your own Father. “You shall call me, my Father.” In Jesus he is your Father—your reconciled, pacified Father—all whose thoughts that he thinks of you, are peace; and all whose ways that he takes with you, are love. The presence, the voice, the smile of a parent, how precious and soothing! especially when that presence is realized, and that voice is heard, and that smile is seen in the dark desolate hour of adversity.

God is our heavenly parent. His presence, his care, his smiles are ever with his children. And if there be a solitary child of the one family that shares the richer in the blessing of the Father’s presence than another, it is the sick, the suffering, the lone, the chastened child. Yes, your Father is with you always. He is with you to cheer your loneliness—to sweeten your solitude—to sanctify your sorrow—to strengthen your weakness—to shield your person—to pardon your sins, and to heal all your diseases.

Hearken in your deep solitude to his own touching words: “Fear you not; for I am with you: be not dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.” Enough, my Father! if thus you are with me, I am not, I cannot be alone—and if such the bliss with which you do sweeten, and such the glory with which you do irradiate the solitude of your hidden ones, Lord, let me ever be a hidden one—shut out from all others, shut in alone with you!

“You are near,—yes, Lord, I feel it,
You are near wherever I move;
And though sense would sincerely conceal it,
Faith often whispers it in love.
“You are near,—O what a blessing
To the souls your love has blest!
Souls, your daily care confessing,
Daily by their God confessed.
“Why should I despond or tremble
When Jehovah stoops to cheer?
But O far rather, why dissemble
When Omniscience is near!
“Am I weak? your arm will lead me
Safe through every danger, Lord:
Am I hungry? you will feed me
With the manna of your Word.
“Am I thirsting? you will guide me
Where refreshing waters flow;
Faint or feeble, you will provide me
Grace for every need I know.
“Am I fearful? you will take me
Underneath your wings, my God!
Am I faithless? you will make me
Bow beneath your chastening rod.
“Am I drooping? you are near me,
Near to hear me on my way:
Am I pleading? You will hear me,
Hear and answer when I pray.
“Then, O my soul, since God does love you,
Faint not, droop not, do not fear;
For though his heaven is high above you,
He himself is ever near!
“Near to watch your wayward spirit,
Sometimes cold and careless grown;
But likewise near with grace and merit,
All your Savior’s, His, His own.” [J.S. Monsell]

There are many thoughts calculated to sweeten the season of Christian solitude which we need but simply suggest to the reflective mind. You cannot be in reality alone when you remember that Christ and you are one—that by his Spirit he dwells in the heart, and that therefore he is always near to participate in each circumstance in which you may be placed. Your very solitude he shares: with your sense of loneliness he sympathizes. You cannot be friendless—since Christ is your friend. You cannot be relationless—since Christ is your brother. You cannot be unprotected—since Christ is your shield.

Do you need an arm to lean upon?—his is outstretched. Do you need a heart to repose in?—his invites you to its affection and its confidence. Do you need a companion to converse with?—he welcomes you to his fellowship. O sweet solitude, sweetened by such a Savior as this!—always present to comfort, to counsel, and to protect in times of trial, perplexity, and danger.

There is so much soothing in the reflection that it is a Father’s presence that sweetens the solitude of his child, that I know not how to express it. “MY FATHER IS WITH ME!” O what words are these! Who can harm you now? What can befall you? When and where can you be alone, if your heavenly Father is with you? He is with you on the ocean, he is with you on the land. He is with you in your exile, he is with you at home. Friends may forsake, and kindred may die, and circumstances may change—but “my Father is with me!” may still be your solace and your boast.

And O to realize the presence of that Father—to walk with God in the absorbing consciousness of his loving eye never removed, of his solemn presence never withdrawn, of his encircling arm never untwined—welcome the solitude, welcome the loneliness, welcome the sorrow, cheered and sweetened and sanctified by such a realization as this! “I am not alone, because my Father is with me.”

Let the season of temporary solitude be a time of earnest prayer—of deep searching of heart—of much honest, close, filial transaction with yourself and with God. He may have allured you into the wilderness, he may thus have set you apart from all others for this very end. You have been communing much with books, and with men, he would now have you commune with your own heart and with himself!

And this, too, may be the school in which he is about to train you for greater responsibility, for more extended usefulness, and for higher honors in his church. Moses was withdrawn from Pharaoh’s court and banished to the solitude of the wilderness forty years, in order to train him to be the great legislator and leader of God’s people. Who can tell what numerous blessings are about to be realized by you, and through you, by the church of God, from the present season of silence and repose through which you are passing?

O to feel a perfect satisfaction, yes, an ecstatic delight, with all that our heavenly Father does! Submission is sweet, resignation is sweeter, but joyous satisfaction with the whole of God’s conduct is sweeter still. “My Father, not my will but yours be done.” Be this, then, your solace—this your boast—this your midnight harmony—“I AM NOT ALONE, BECAUSE MY FATHER IS WITH ME.”

“How heavily the path of life
Is trod by him who walks alone,
Who hears not, on his dreary way,
Affection’s sweet and cheering tone;
Alone, although his heart should bound
With love to all things great and fair,
They love not him,—there is not one
His sorrow or his joy to share.
“Alone,—though in the busy town,
Where hundreds hurry to and fro—
If there is none who for his sake
A selfish pleasure would forego;
And O how lonely among those
Who have not skill to read his heart,
When first he learns how summer friends
At sight of wintry storms depart.
“My Savior! and did you too feel
How sad it is to be alone,
Deserted in the adverse hour
By those who must your love have known?
The gloomy path, though distant, still
Was ever present to your view;
O how could you foreseeing it,
For us that painful course pursue?
“Forsaken of your nearest friends,
Surrounded by malicious foes—
No kindly voice encouraged you,
When the loud shout of scorn uprose.
Yet there was calm within your soul,
No stoic pride that calmness kept,
Nor Godhead unapproached by woe—
Like man you had both loved and wept.
“You were not then alone, for God
Sustained you by his mighty power;
His arm most felt, his care most seen,
When needed most in saddest hour.
None else could comfort, none else knew
How dreadful was the curse of sin;
He who controlled the storm without,
Could gently whisper peace within.
“Who is alone if God be near?
Who shall repine at loss of friends,
While he has One of boundless power,
Whose constant kindness never ends
Whose presence felt, enhances joy,
Whose love can stop each flowing tear,
And cause upon the darkest cloud
The bow of mercy to appear.”