To the reader conscious of secret declension in his soul, we propose the same searching and tender inquiry. You did run well; who hindered you? What stumbling block has fallen in your way? What has impeded your onward course?
What has... enfeebled your faith, chilled your love, drawn your heart from Jesus, and lured you back to the weak and beggarly elements of a poor world? You set out fair; for a time you did run well; your zeal, and love, and humility gave promise of a useful life, of a glorious race, and of a successful competition for the prize; but something has hindered you.
What is it? Is it.... the world, creature love, covetousness, ambition, presumptuous sin, unmortified corruption, the old leaven unpurged? Search it out! Rest not until it be discovered. Your declension is secret, perhaps the cause is secret; some spiritual duty secretly neglected, or some known sin secretly indulged. Search it out, and bring it to light. You are not as you once were. Your soul has lost ground; the divine life has declined; the fruit of the Spirit has withered; the heart has lost its softness, the conscience has lost its tenderness, the mind has lost its lowliness, the throne of grace has lost its sweetness, the cross of Jesus has lost its attraction.
Oh, how sad and melancholy the change that has passed over you! And have you not the consciousness of it in your soul? Where is the blessedness you spoke of? Where is the sunlit countenance of a reconciled Father? Where are the rich moments spent before the cross? Where are the hallowed seasons of communion in the closet, shut in with God? Where is the voice of the turtledove, the singing of birds, the green pastures where you did feed, the still waters on whose banks you did repose? Is it all gone?
Is it winter with your soul? Ah! yes; your soul is made to feel that it is an evil and a bitter thing to depart from the living God. By Octavius Winslow