THE MINISTRY OF HOME
Expository Lectures on Divine Truth"
by Octavius Winslow
The Burden Cast upon
"Cast your burden (or cares) upon the Lord, and He shall
sustain you." Psalm 55:22.
Whose eye will light upon this the closing meditation of
our volume, and feel that the character which these remarkable words portray
belongs not to him? Who is not burdened? Who bears not some heavy
load, staggers and faints not under the pressure of some galling, perhaps,
crushing weight of infirmity, trial, or cross, along life's crowded avenues?
There is no exception clause in the covenant of grace exempting the saints
of God from burdens. Yes, the very provision of that covenant- "a covenant
ordered in all things"- implies their existence, their varied character, and
deep necessity. The covenant of grace is made for a poor and an afflicted
people whom the Lord has left in the midst of Egypt. To know from experience
what the fulness and preciousness of that covenant is, we must be emptied,
tried, burdened. It is only the poor sinner that lives upon Christ's wealth,
the empty soul that lives upon Christ's fulness, the feeble saint that lives
upon Christ's power, the tried, afflicted, and tempted believer that lives
upon Christ's grace, sympathy, and love. The extent of our conscious need is
the measure of our life of faith on Jesus. We ally our weakness with His
strength, our demerit with His righteousness, our indigence with His
opulence, and hang our empty vessel upon His unbounded and fathomless
sufficiency. Beloved, entwine as a thread of gold with the ministry of home
this precious thought: "MY EMPTINESS FITS ME FOR CHRIST'S FULNESS; AND
CHRIST'S FULNESS IS DESIGNED FOR MY EMPTINESS."
But what an exceeding great and precious exhortation and promise is this-
"CAST YOUR BURDEN upon the Lord, and He shall sustain you." The marginal
reading is, "your gift." We accept both readings as correct. All that we
receive from the Lord we receive as a gift- the gift of His most free grace
and love. The believer sees and tastes free grace in every blessing of His
Heavenly Father. He traces it in the sun that cheers him, in the spring that
refreshes him, in the breeze that fans him, in the flowers that delight him.
He sees it in the love that comforts him, in the friendship that strengthens
him, in the sympathy that soothes him, in the outstretched hand that
relieves his need.
No, more. The child of God sees free grace- a Father's gift- in every
cloud that darkens, in every sorrow that embitters, in every disappointment
that wounds, in every burden that crushes.
But infinitely beyond all, he sees and tastes free grace in the blood
that pardons him, in the righteousness that justifies him, in the love that
adopts him, in the voice that calls him, and in the promises that engage to
bring him home to glory! Over the "door of hope" opened to us down in the
dark "valley" of our poverty and nothingness, the marvellous words are
emblazoned- "BY GRACE ARE YOU SAVED."
All these as gifts, natural and spiritual, are to be cast upon the Lord;
in other words, employed in His service and devoted to His glory. Is it
talent? is it wealth? is it influence? is it time?
is it grace? -cast your gift- whatever the one talent may be- upon the Lord;
consecrating all to, and employing all unreservedly for, HIM.
But we restrict our exposition of the passage to the received text. "Cast
your BURDEN upon the Lord." The Lord's people are truly a burdened people.
They of the whole creation are the most burdened. They are conscious of
burdens of which the unregenerate world is totally unconscious. In the first
place, beloved, are you sensible of the burden of sin? This is an evidence
of spiritual life. As a dead body has no sensibility and feels no pressure,
so a soul dead in trespasses and in sins has no consciousness of the body of
sin and of death to which it belongs. A corpse does not weep, nor groan, nor
sigh, nor bewail its humiliated condition; neither does a spiritually dead
soul cry out from its grave of corruption, "O wretched man that I am, who
shall deliver me from this body of sin and of death?" And why not? Because
there is no life, and where there is no life there is no sensibility. If, my
beloved, conscious sin is your burden- if your heaviest sigh, your deepest
groan, your bitterest tear springs from the feeling of indwelling sin, it is
one of the strongest evidences of spiritual life- that you are in truth a
living soul. The Spirit of God has breathed divine life into you, and thus
quickened and vitalized, you cry, "Woe is me! for I am undone, because I a
man of unclean lips."
Go, you who despairingly have thought that you had no affiliated relation
to the children of God, since you discern so much in your heart contrary to
the Father's nature, and so much in your spirit contrary to the image of the
brethren, and who in view of this exclaim, "I abhor myself, and repent in
dust and ashes,"- take the comfort to yourself that, this conscious burden
proves your possession of spiritual sensibility, and this bitter bewailment
evidences the life of God in your soul. O yes, the Lord's people are a
burdened people, and the burden of indwelling sin is the greatest burden of
Such, too, is the burden of the newly awakened soul. Where did great
inquiry come from- "What shall I do to be saved?" Where did the touching
appeal come from- "Lord, help me!" Where did the agonizing cry come from-
"God be merciful to me a sinner!" O it springs from the awakened conscience,
from the guilt-distressed soul, the sinner just made to feel his sins a
burden, convinced that he is poor and wretched, lost and undone, and without
Christ must perish forever.
To WHOM did the Savior address that wondrous invitation, the power and
savor of which will continue until the last awakened sinner shall look to
Christ and live: "Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I
will give you rest." O it was to just such as you! Has the Spirit discovered
to you your sinfulness, shown you to yourself as "poor, and blind, and
miserable, and naked"? Does your load of sin seem too great for you to bear?
Come and cast it upon Christ, the sinner's great Sin-Bearer! This great,
gracious, and free invitation is addressed, you guilt-burdened soul, to you,
and nothing shall dare forbid your acceptance. Christ speaks it, Christ
means it- and who shall say, No, when Christ says, Yes?
The love that bids you come, will be accompanied with the power that
enables you to come and in simple faith cast that burden of sin and guilt
upon the loving, Almighty Savior, who alone can unclasp it from your soul,
and give you rest. You have nothing to do either with its material or its
dimension. That is Christ's concern. Yours is simply to believe that He
sorrowed for it in Gethsemane, died for it on the cross, and now invites you
to transfer it to Him, seated in glory upon His throne. You have nothing to
do in the matter but believingly to take Him at His word, and so find rest
for your guilt-oppressed and sin-weary spirit.
"Come unto Me, you weary! Come!
You heavy-laden, cease to roam!
I will refresh the weary breast,
And give the laborings spirit rest."
"Sweet word! it calms my troubled soul,
It bids my sorrow cease to roll;
Smiles like the rainbow on the deep,
And hushes all my woes to sleep."
Perhaps a sense of backsliding from the Lord is your burden. You did run
well, walked closely with God, and loved to feed in green pastures with the
flock and beside the Shepherd's tent; but you did not love the fold, and
went away and walked no more with Jesus. And now the Shepherd has gone after
you, and by the gentle moving of His Spirit on your heart is drawing you
back with weeping, and mourning, and confession. Your departures are a
grievous and a heavy burden, and like Ephraim you smite upon the thigh, and
are ashamed, you are even confounded, and exclaim, "Turn me and I shall be
turned, for You are the Lord my God."
Come, then, poor backslider, you wanderer from the Shepherd's side, you
truant from the fold, and listen to the tender, forgiving language of that
God and Father against whom you have sinned. "Is not Ephraim still my son,
my darling child? asks the Lord. I had to punish him, but I still love him.
I long for him and surely will have mercy on him." (Jeremiah 31:20)
Approach, you penitent soul, though a wanderer, still a son; though a
backslider, still a child- and cast the burden of your back-slidings upon
Jesus, whose unchanging love and restoring grace are now gently and
effectually drawing you back to Himself. "I will arise and go to my Father,
and will say unto Him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before You."
"Return, O wanderer! Return,
And seek an injured Father's face;
Those warm desires that in you burn
Were kindled by recovering grace."
Perhaps your burden is mental. There is, probably, no pressure so acutely
felt as that in which the mind is more immediately concerned. Any trial- be
it spiritual or temporal- which implicates the mental powers, entails a
burden which nothing short of supernatural power can sustain.
The Lord has seen fit to send this cloud-veil upon your mind, which for a
time shades your Christian evidence, obscures your hope, weakens your hold
upon the Savior, depresses you to despondency and drives you almost to
despair. And now you question the sincerity of your Christian profession,
you doubt the reality of your conversion, and are ready to ignore the hope
of heaven which you once so happily cherished. All this, however, is the
effect only of a mind morbidly, nervously, and for a season, temporally
unhinged; but whose spiritual regeneration, whose hidden life, and whose
eternal safety nothing can touch.
Creation illustrates this idea. The sun is eclipsed, but not annihilated.
The stars are veiled, but not extinguished. Dark clouds may drape Christ
from the believer's eye, but nothing extinguishes, or can for a moment
lessen His great love to His saints. Mental depression may obscure your
Christian evidences- those stars of the soul which smile upon it so
cheeringly- but the Divine seal of the Spirit nothing can ever efface. The
child of the light may walk in darkness and be a child of the light still-
for once a child, ever a child!
Such is the burden which the Lord invites you to cast upon Him! No saint
or angel can sympathize with it as Jesus can. He passed through mental
distress infinitely darker and more crushing than yours. And will He allow
you to succumb to this temporary eclipse, or permit you to sink beneath
these dark waters? Will He allow the enemy always to take advantage of your
physical infirmities, thus to work upon your mental and spiritual feelings,
producing so much gloom, disquietude, and distress?
O no! In the exercise of His Divine power He will cry- "Thus far shall
you, go and no farther." The darkness and the light are both at His command,
and both, in the experience of His saints, work together for good. If ever
the sympathy of Him who in the terrible and unparalleled darkness of His
soul exclaimed, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me," flowed out
toward you, it is now. And do you think that this temporary darkness of the
mind through which you are passing, lessens the love, or shakes the
faithfulness, of impairs the power of your covenant God and Father?
Impossible! Listen to His marvellous language. "The mountains shall
depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from you,
neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, says the Lord who has
mercy on you." Cheer up, then, you sad and desponding one! Why are you cast
down? Hope in God, for this long, dreary night of weeping shall, before long
and forever, merge into a bright morning of joy.
Heavy, too, is the burden of affliction. Who counts not this among the
many which he bears along the weary, dusty road of life? "Many are the
afflictions of the righteous." And again: "The Lord tries the righteous."
Yet again: "Whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He
receives." Thus if you are an afflicted saint, a tried believer, a chastened
child, burdened with carping cares, corroding-anxieties, heart-crushing
sorrows, and heavy stripes, you wear but the garments of the spiritual realm
to which you belong, and possess but the seals and evidences of a nobler
sonship and closer relationship to God than angels claim. "If you endure
chastening God deals with you as with sons." Accept, then, in meekness and
love these Divine evidences -these sacred proofs of adoption- even the many
trials, sore temptations, and painful corrections with which your Heavenly
Father, in love, sees fit to visit you.
But, 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? You are perhaps a widower- bereaved and desolate;
or you are a widow- lonely and helpless. Your children are an anxiety, your
domestic duties a trial, your necessities are pressing, your whole position
one of embarrassment and depression.
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!
But who is our Burden-Bearer? "Cast your burden UPON THE
LORD." JEHOVAH-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. Can you for a moment
question either His power or His love after all that He has done for you?
This would be cruel unbelief indeed!
But how shall we, how can we, describe the tenderness of Christ towards
His burdened ones, and the gentleness with which He leads them? "He tends
his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them
close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young (those who are
burdened)." Isaiah 40:11 You are wearied. Your deep afflictions area burden.
Your sinful heart is a burden. Your lack of faith, and love, and
fruitfulness is a burden. You are, as it were, "with young," passing through
much sore and painful travail of soul, a burden to yourself, cast down and
discouraged by reason of the way.
But oh, blessed solace! Jesus leads you, and leads you gently. All others
would drive you- man would drive you, the world would drive you, Satan would
drive you, your own impulsive heart and blind judgment would drive, and even
the saints would drive you- but Jesus leads you, and leads you tenderly,
skillfully, and safely. He is the loving, careful Shepherd who overdrives
not His sheep, especially the weak, the sick, the burdened, the little ones
of His flock.
He knows your burden- "your burden." The marvellous language of God is "I
know their sorrows." He knows how your friend that loved you is gone like a
shadow, how your gourd that sheltered you is smitten in a night, how the
voice that was the sweetest music to you is hushed in the stillness of
death, how the strong and beautiful staff that supported you is broken and
lies a ruin in the dust. Jesus knows all- and He is leading you through all.
He is leading you by these very same dark providences; these events that
appear so adverse, this way that seems so dark, these dealings that seem so
mysterious, painful, and crushing. How precious and soothing is the promise,
"I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in
paths that they have not known; I will make darkness light before them, and
crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake
As Jesus thus gently leads, so let us meekly, confidingly follow,
believing that His hand is powerful, His heart is loving, His eye is
unslumbering, and that He is leading us by the right way home to be with Him
But the question will arise in your heart, HOW am I to cast my burden
upon Him? The answer is at hand. In faith and by prayer. It is by an act of
simple, prayerful faith we transfer our cares and anxieties, our sorrows and
needs, to the Lord. Only believe that God is able to do all that you need,
and ask Him to do it. Only believe that Christ is willing to grant all that
you request. Only believe that He is most true, most loving, most faithful
when He invites you come and lean upon Him, and to lean with all your might
upon that arm that balances the universe, and upon that bosom that bled for
you upon the soldier's spear!
Perhaps faith and unbelief are now struggling painfully within your
tried and anxious heart. You believe that God is able to bear your burden,
but you question His willingness to bear it. Or, perhaps, you question not
His readiness, but you doubtingly ask, "Is the Lord able to do this thing
for me?" And thus, while you are debating a matter about which there is not
the shadow of a shade of doubt, the burden is crushing your gentle spirit to
the dust. And all the while Jesus stands at your side and lovingly says-
"Cast your burden upon Me and I will sustain you. I am God Almighty. I bore
the load of your sin and condemnation up the steep of Calvary, and the same
power of omnipotence, and the same strength of love that bore it all for you
then, is prepared to bear your need, and sorrow now. Roll it all upon Me."
"Child of My Love! Lean hard! Let Me feel the pressure of
your care. I know your burden, child! I shaped it- I poised it in My
own hand and made no proportion of its weight to your unaided strength. For
even as I laid it on, I said I shall be near, and while she leans on Me,
this burden shall be Mine, not hers. So shall I keep My child within
the circling arms of My own love. Here lay it down! Do not fear
to impose it on a shoulder which upholds the government of worlds! Yet
closer come! You are not near enough! I would embrace your
burden, so I might feel My child reposing on My breast. You love Me! I
know it. Doubt not, then. But, loving me, Lean hard!"
And, how precious and assuring the promise- "He shall SUSTAIN you." The
terms of the promise are clear. It is not that the Lord will remove the
burden, but that He will sustain us under it. He gives us what is
equivalent, and, perhaps, more than equivalent to its removal- grace to
endure, and strength to carry it- so that we reap more spiritual blessing,
and He receives more Divine glory, than would accrue from its entire
removal. Read the histories of the saints, and learn how they illustrate and
confirm this truth.
Look at Jacob, in danger from the revenge of Esau, casting his burden of
anxiety and fear upon God. God did not remove it, but sustained His servant,
and brought him safely through.
Look at Elijah, fleeing for his life from the threatenings of Jezebel-
how God met him in his weariness and petulance, nourished and sustained him
in the wilderness, so that in the strength of that food he traveled forty
days and forty nights unto Horeb, the mount of God.
Look at Paul, afflicted with the thorn in the flesh, thrice asking,
and thrice denied, its removal- yet so sustained by the all-sufficiency of
Christ's grace, that he glories in its existence, that the power of Christ
might rest upon him. And what has been, is still the experience of the
Lord's people- that when He does not immediately remove a burden, He imparts
all-sufficient grace and strength to bear it. And O how much greater a
blessing to be daily upheld by the power of God, sustained by the grace of
Christ, and comforted by the consolation of the Spirit, than, with the
immediate and entire removal of the burden, to lose all the sweet,
sanctifying blessings that directly spring from it.
A prolonged affliction is often a prolonged mercy. The tedious illness
never alleviated; the couch of weakness never left; the white-hot furnace
never extinguished; the daily cross never lightened. O who can describe what
sweet mercy flows through this channel? what sweet nourishment comes from
this eater? how glorious and precious the Savior becomes? and how the daily
burden proves a daily confirmation of the truth and experience of the great
promise of God. "As your day so shall your strength be."
And when we arrive at heaven, and survey in the light of its glory all
the way the Lord our God led us there; when we review every cross and every
bereavement, every need and every correction, we shall then see the covenant
faithfulness of God, the tender love of Christ, and the gentle grace of the
Spirit, in not removing the burden, nor lifting the cross, nor taking our
feet out of the thorny, flinty path, but in giving us instead, what was a
richer, holier blessing: the upholding of His power, the sustaining of His
grace, and the consolation of His love.
Accept then, my beloved- and this shall be my last exhortation- accept in
meekness and faith your burdens as from the Lord. Seek that they may make
you more holy, may endear Jesus to your heart, fit you for heaven, and bring
much praise, and glory, and honor to your covenant triune God. They then
shall be as pinions to your soul, bearing you upon their gold-plumed wing
higher, and yet higher towards heaven, in faith, love, and prayer, until,
delivered from the burden of the flesh, you shall enter into eternal joy and
felicity- Forever with the Lord!
"Look onward still!
However dark the night may be,
The morning breaks joyously;
Wars after wars may come and go,
And billows seem to overflow
Your Father's hand a bound will set,
His love is deeper- deeper yet."
"Lean on this love!
Oh, earthly love has little power
To cheer you in your saddest hour;
And with your lonely, bitter lot,
The stranger intermedles not;
But there is One whose sympathy
Can prove enough for thee.
"Are there none left,
None, whom your life may help to show
How vain and empty all below?
To shine as brightest stars is given
To those who point the way to heaven
If such shall be their glorious state,
It is blessed, then, to work and wait."
"Say not, 'it is long!'
This sin-stained world is not to be
Your haven for eternity
The aching heart, the heavy trial,
Are only for a 'little while'
Patient, your upward pathway trace
Unto your Father's dwelling place."
"Joy comes then!
For when faith's less-enduring light
Is changed for perfect, lasting sight,
And hearts that even on earth seemed one
Shall beat in perfect unison,
And, leaning on a Father's breast,
His weary child shall be at rest."