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Gems written at the age of 16 - 18

By Whitmore Winslow

      The Hidden Life

      Gleanings from the journal of Whitmore Winslow
      written at the age of 16 to 18.

      His journal, which was previously unknown to his family,
      was found among his papers after his unexpected death,
      at the age of 21. He died in 1856, and was the son of
      Octavius Winslow.

      When He afflicts, it is only out of kindness
      Sweet it is not only to believe, but also to experience
      that as much affliction as God is pleased to give, so
      much of His divine blessing He invariably bestows with it.

      He causes us to feel His rod that His blessing may
      be experienced the more. He makes us to taste the
      bitter only to prepare us for the sweet.

      And when He finds that prosperity weans us from
      Him and assimilates to the world, He chastens us.

      Oh, how sweet to be resigned to His will, feeling
      assured that He does all things for our best welfare;
      that when He afflicts, it is only out of kindness;
      and that when He accomplishes the end, He returns
      to us laden with blessing.

      O the demon SELF!
      Alas! our noblest actions are so mixed with SELF.

      Such is the real fact, I need not disguise it. This
      it is that chills our warmest feelings, and mars our
      happiness in looking to Jesus.

      O the demon SELF! it will ever come in to spoil
      that which is holy.

      Alas, alas! how cold we are! How insensible
      to the greatest mercies, perpetually reminded that
      we are not only mortal, but sinful.

      When I reflect upon the spiritual blessings which
      I have received, and feel how insensible I am, oh
      it is a cause of mourning. I think nothing is so
      ungracious as a thankless spirit, and yet how
      often do we manifest it when God has been so
      good! We take care not to be ungrateful to an
      earthly friend for the slightest benefit, and yet
      how careless in thanking God!

      How has God led me these many years! How has
      He been the Protector and Guide of my youth! And
      how has He brought me to what I am! When I
      thought of all this I did lift up my heart in gratitude.
      What He has done for me is overwhelming.

      Oh, my precious Savior
      What a blessed thing it is that we are not to live
      here always, that our existence is not bounded by
      this lower sphere!

      Holy Father, may our hearts, while aching, praise
      You that Your chastenings but wean us from this
      sinful and disappointing world, and fill our minds
      with holy joy, and longing hope for the blessed
      heaven to come. Oh, may Your love more completely
      fill these truant hearts! May Your ceaseless affection,
      changeless ever, when we wander, link our souls in
      closer union with You.

      Oh, my precious Savior, may that look of pity and
      love, which beamed so gloriously from Calvary, light
      upon Your weak and sinful child! May I find in Your
      loving bosom a shelter from the storm. And though
      the world, or those I love, cease to sympathize,
      precious Savior, You will never look coldly down,
      but will open Your heart of love to receive me.

      How low and humbled do we feel
      As truly as the sinner feels himself unfit for heaven
      and for heavenly society on earth, so truly does the
      child of God feel sad and unhappy when in the society
      of the wicked.

      How low and humbled do we feel when accidentally
      or necessarily obliged to listen to unholy conversation,
      or to witness some open act of sin.

      Alas! next to our own sinfulness we ought to deplore
      the wickedness of those we are constantly coming in
      contact with. All we can do is to observe a marked
      silence, and show by our conduct and example how
      painful it is to our spirits, though we would desire
      openly to rebuke.

      Words, however, are sometimes less significant
      than conduct, and I have often found how powerful
      is the effect of silent example. But we need much
      wisdom and much grace both to speak and to act
      as we ought and when we ought.

      But, blessed thought, that with all our deficiencies,
      the righteousness of Christ is our complete covering,
      and by its merit we shall soon reach the realms of
      purity where sin can never enter.

      O Father, preserve me from the deadening
      influence of all within and without; and grant
      me an eye to see, and a heart to feel, all your
      tenderness, forbearance, and love.

      It grasps an airy bubble floating by in momentary splendor
      Amid all the characters given by poets and philosophers
      to Life, perhaps the least regarded is the IMAGINATION.

      Life in its loveliest forms consists in a great measure
      in the imagination. Thus thought loves to dwell upon
      scenes of future or imagined happiness, grouping into
      the most felicitous shapes all one's future career.

      Thus it grasps an airy bubble floating by in momentary
      splendor, and builds upon it a destiny of the highest and
      most substantial happiness.

      How one's youthful imagination seems to bear us on, blind
      to the misery and woe all around us; blind to the stern and
      sometimes sickening realities of existence, and alive only
      to the beautiful and happy, the gay and glorious.

      How imagination, that wonderful power of the soul, can
      magnify a transient beam of sunshine into an ever abiding
      and increasing stream of effulgent radiancy! How a look
      from the eye, a smile of the countenance, a trifling act
      of love, can kindle a flame in the soul, which our fond
      imagination would persuade us to believe is enduring,
      giving power and warmth!

      How gladdening are feelings of youth; how keen its
      susceptibilities to the beautiful!

      But alas, alas! how Life in its onward progress alters
      this beautiful picture! How soon do the dark shades
      pencilled by the experience of sin and sorrow cast their
      chilling influences upon the canvas once so gaily tinted!
      How soon the keen blast of adversity sweeps away, as
      with a whirlwind, all that before seemed so beautiful and
      promising! How soon the slow but fearfully sure disease
      cuts down the budding flower!

      Yes, how strange a mystery is Life!

      Yes, when once the eye has been turned in the right
      direction, and the mists and phantoms have disappeared,
      we shall see that life is the theater of action, and the
      prelude to eternity; an eternity whose untold wonders
      are beyond the highest flight of the imagination!

      Can a man suppose that he was made for himself?
      What a glorious motto for a man, "I Live for God!"

      It is religion's truest definition.

      It is a motto for a life.

      Can a man suppose that he was made for himself?

      Miserable thought!

      Yet the world acts upon this belief. They devise, and
      scheme, and accomplish apparently for others; but
      the spring of action and the end of action is, SELF.

      This is a course abhorrent to God.

      A mere bubble, a toy, an insignificant nothing!
      How blessed when one is low and downcast in mind
      and body, to feel a little uplifting, and to trace, yet
      more blessed, the healing hand of the Great Physician.

      To see the Shepherd of the sheep stooping to take and
      embrace in His arms of love the weak and feeble lamb.

      "When men are cast down, then You shall say, There
      is lifting up." Oh, the delightful feeling, this 'lifting up!'
      Who can express it but the man who has been down
      into the lowest depths, and then brought up so high
      that the world appears, as it were, a mere bubble,
      a toy, an insignificant nothing! The world no longer
      is visible to him; lost in the glorious light shed upon
      his soul by the sight of Jesus.

      We sometimes reason ourselves into the belief, that
      the world, with all its grandeur, beauty, and wonder,
      must be something worth our attention.

      But, oh! five minutes' communion with God, in spite
      of reason and of ourselves, convinces us that nothing
      but the object upon which our soul rests is truly great.

      The way we read the Bible
      What a difference there is in the way we read the
      Bible; taking it up sometimes as a matter of form and
      duty, perusing some of its most precious truths, and
      laying it down again without sensible benefit.

      There can be no mistake as to where the fault lies;
      a cold or worldly heart, an eye covered with the film
      of sensuous objects, are the real causes.

      We do not know what Popery really is!
      (The following was written by Whitmore Winslow
      at the age of 18, after visiting a Roman Catholic
      Cathedral in France.)

      In England, we do not know what Popery really is!

      We imagine it to be something repulsive, and cannot
      conceive how people can be deceived by it.

      But once to witness it as it really is, with its gorgeous
      paraphernalia, you are admitted to the secret of its
      power. The whole structure seemed to look down upon
      you in conscious magnificence, and is intended to
      inspire you with awe and reverence.

      No system could possibly have been invented more
      captivating to the senses, or better adapted to the
      natural heart.

      It allows its devotee free scope to sin, while covering
      him with a cloak of religion.

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