Words Addressed to an Anxious Soul
By Octavius Winslow
Bath, April 1858
The following letter, written in reply to the earnest inquiry of an anxious mind, addressed to the author from a dying bed, is published in its present form at the suggestion of several individuals. It is commended to God's blessing and to the prayers and wide circulation of His people.
To an Individual near Eternity
My dear Friend,
Although you withhold your name, there is yet such an air of truthfulness and earnestness in your note, as at once stamps it with sincerity. Sincere or not, the questions you ask are of vital consequence. May the Lord, the Spirit, dictate and bless the answer!
There are three touching features in your case, as described by yourself.
You are on the brink of eternity.
You are not ready to die.
You are alarmed and most anxious to know how you may be prepared to meet your God!
I hope that your present misery and concern spring from a real conviction of sin — and not merely from a fear and dread of death and of judgment. Has the Holy Spirit, then, shown you the plague of your own heart — caused you to feel your sins a heavy burden, giving you a true spiritually broken heart and contrite spirit?
Is the prayer of the humble and penitent publican the language of your soul: "God be merciful to me a sinner"? Like him, do you smite on your heart, the seat of sin; and, if sorry for sin, do you take the lowest place in the spirit of self-abhorrence?
Then, in briefest possible time, I urge you to cast yourself at once, in the simplest faith, upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.
All your true preparation for death is entirely outside of yourself — and in the Lord Jesus. Washed in His blood and clothed with His righteousness — you may appear before God divinely, fully, freely, and forever accepted. The salvation of the chief of sinners is all prepared, finished, and complete in Christ. "To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6). "And you are complete in Him" (Colossians 2:10).
Again, I repeat, your eye of faith must now be directed entirely outside of, and away from yourself — to Jesus. Beware of looking for any preparation to meet death in yourself. It is all in Christ. God does not accept you on the ground of a broken heart or a pure heart or a praying heart or a believing heart. He accepts you wholly and entirely on the ground of the atonement of His blessed Son. Cast yourself, in childlike faith, upon that atonement, "Christ dying for the ungodly" — and you are saved!
Justification is a poor, law-condemned, self-condemned, self-destroyed sinner, wrapping himself by faith in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He, then, is justified and is prepared to die — and he only — who casts from him the garment of his own righteousness and runs into this blessed "City of Refuge," the Lord Jesus, and hides himself there from the "avenger of blood," exclaiming in the language of triumphant faith, "There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!"
Look to Jesus, then, for a contrite heart;
look to Jesus for a pure heart;
look to Jesus for a believing heart;
look to Jesus for a loving heart —
and Jesus will give you all.
One faith's touch of Christ, and one divine touch from Christ — will save the vilest sinner. O the dimmest, most distant glance of faith, turning its languid eye upon Christ — will heal and save the soul. Cease not to wrestle with and cry unto the Lord Jesus, until His Spirit seals a sense of pardon and acceptance on your softened heart. God is prepared to accept you in His beloved Son, and for His sake He will cast all your sins behind His back and take you to glory when you die. Never was Jesus known to reject a poor sinner that came to Him empty and with "nothing to pay." God will glorify His free grace in your salvation, and will therefore save you just as you are, without money and without price."
I close with Paul's reply to the anxious jailer, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ — and you shall be saved." No matter what you have been or what you are — plunge into the "fountain open for sin and impurity" (Zechariah 13:1), and you shall be pure, "washed whiter than snow" (Psalm 51:7).
Heed no suggestion of Satan or of unbelief. Cast yourself at the feet of Jesus, and if you perish — perish there! O no! Perish you never will, for He has said, "The one who comes to Me I will never cast out."
"Come unto ME" is the blessed invitation; let your reply be, "Lord, I come! I come! I come! I entwine my feeble, trembling arms of faith around Your cross, around Yourself — and if I die, I will die cleaving, clinging, looking unto You!"
So act and believe, and you need not fear to die! Looking at the Savior in the face, you can look at death in the face, exclaiming with good old Simeon, "Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace — for my eyes have seen Your salvation!" May we through rich, free, and sovereign grace meet in Heaven and unite together in exclaiming, "Worthy is the Lamb, for He was slain for us!"
Octavius Winslow, Bath, April 1858