OUR EYES ARE UPON THEE

OUR EYES ARE UPON THEE

J.C. Philpot


“O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee.” [2Chr 20:12]

Jehoshaphat did not know what to do; he was altogether at his wit’s end; and yet he took the wisest course a man could take.

This is the beauty of it; that when we are fools, then we are wise; when we are weak, then we are strong; when we know not what to do, then we do the only right thing. O had Jehoshaphat taken any other course; had he collected an army, sent through Judah, raised troops and forged swords and spears he would certainly have been defeated! But not knowing what to do, he did the very thing he should do. “OUR EYES ARE UPON THEE.”

“Thou must fight our battles; thou must take the matter into Thy own hands. Our eyes are upon Thee, waiting upon thee, looking up, and hoping in Thee; believing in Thy holy name, expecting help from Thee, from whom alone help can come.” But this is painful work to be brought to this point, “Our eyes are upon Thee,” implying there is no use looking to any other quarter. It assumes that the soul has looked, and looked, and looked elsewhere in vain, and then fixed its eyes upon God as knowing that from Him alone all help must come.

This I believe to be the distinctive mark of a Christian, that his eyes are upon God. On his bed by night; in his room by day; in business or at market, when his soul is in trouble, cast down, and perplexed, his eyes are UPON GOD. From Him alone all help must come; none else can reach his case. All other but the help of God is ineffectual; it leaves him where it found him; it does him no good. We are never safe except our eyes are upon God. Let our eyes be upon Him, we can walk safely; let our eyes be upon the creature, we are pretty sure to slip and stumble.

“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”

“They that trust in the LORD shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.” [Psalm 118:8; 125:1]

Praise ye the LORD!

ASSURANCE OF SALVATION AND THE STRUGGLE FOR IT

ASSURANCE OF SALVATION AND THE STRUGGLE FOR IT

J.C. Philpot


“The entrance of Thy Words giveth light” [Psalm 119:130]

We often get into such dark paths, that we feel as if there were no more grace in our souls, than we are as one altogether dead in trespasses and sins. And whether we look back at the past, or view the present, or turn our eyes to the future, one dark cloud seems to rest upon the whole; nor can we, with all our searching, find to our satisfaction that we have one spark of true religion, or one atom of grace, or one grain of vital godliness, or any trace that the Spirit of God has touched our consciences with his finger.

Now, when we are in this dark, benighted state, we want LIGHT; we want the blessed Son of righteousness to arise; we want the south wind to blow a heavenly gale, and drive the mists away; we want the clouds to part, and the light of God s countenance to shine into our souls, so as to show us where we are, and what we are, and make it clear, that base and vile as we are, yet that we are interested in the love of the Father, the blood of the Son, and the teachings of the Holy Ghost.

Are you never there in soul-feeling? Do you not sometimes look into your hearts, and weigh up your evidences, and examine yourselves, and say, “I must honestly confess” and you sink fathoms in a moment “that I cannot find in my soul one mark of grace; I am as worldly, as stupid, as ignorant, and as carnal, as though the finger of God bad never touched me.”

In these seasons, then, you want the ENTRANCE OF LIGHT. You cannot run to a friend, and say, “Be so kind as to give me a little flattery. Do just take the whitewash brush, and brush me over; get out the mortar and trowel, and daub me over with a little plaster. Pray, put a little putty into these cracked evidences; shore up my sinking religion, that it may not be altogether” a tottering wall, and a bowed fence.” No; you would rather ask a man of God to take his trowel, and pick out with the pointed end all the putty, instead of putting fresh into the crack.

You would rather stand naked before God, that he himself might, in his own time and way, clothe you with the garments of salvation, than be wrapped up in the veils and mantles of profession, or borrow a robe from your neighbour. Thus in these seasons you cannot go to man. You cannot angle for praise. If you resemble me, you cannot go to a child of God with a head hanging like a bulrush, and with demure looks throw out some disparaging, condemnatory sentence against yourself, for the express purpose of your Christian friend taking it up in order to underprop with it your religion. But you will act as Jeremiah says he did Jer 15:17, “I sat alone, because of thy hand;” you will do as we read La 3:28 he does who bears the yoke, -“he sitteth alone, and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him.”

You will be crying unto the Lord in some secret corner, be tossing on your midnight couch, wrestling with the Saviour for a manifestation, and big scalding drops will be rolling down your cheeks, that the Lord would make himself known unto you, and sprinkle your conscience with his atoning blood. You will be sighing and mourning, away from every human eye and every human ear, that the Lord himself would lift up the light of his countenance upon you, and cause you experimentally to know the meaning of the words: The entrance of Thy words giveth light.” You can t be satisfied with the doctrine of Christ s blood, and the doctrine of Christ’s righteousness, and the doctrine of God s everlasting love, but you want the feeling application of it; the spiritual and supernatural entrance of it into your souls, so as to raise up that in your hearts which shall bring you out of prison to praise and bless his name.

And you want this entrance of light into your heart, that it may give you entrance into that which is within the veil, even a sweet and blessed entrance, by faith into the very heart and compassionate bosom of Jesus, so as to drink into his spirit, and to be melted into his likeness.

THIS IS THE RELIGION THAT I WANT; and as to any other, I would, in my right mind, tear every shred of it from me. As to any religion that does not stand in divine teachings, sweet applications, blessed manifestations, and heavenly testimonies, I would throw it aside from me as an unclean garment -I would bury all such rags and tatters in the first dunghill that I came to.

THE HOPE OF THE CAST-DOWN SOUL

THE HOPE OF THE CAST-DOWN SOUL

J.C. Philpot

WHY art thou cast down, O my soul? and WHY art thou disquieted (disturbed) in me? Hope thou in God!” Psalm 42:5

There is something singularly tender and touching in the enquiry that David here makes of his own soul. He addresses it as the faithful and tender companion of all his joys and all his sorrows—his treasure and his all. For if our soul be happy, we must needs be happy; if our soul be troubled, we must needs be troubled; if our soul be safe, we must needs be safe; if our soul be cast down, we must needs be cast down too. Not that there is any thought or feeling in man distinct from his soul—I mean not that. But David here addresses his soul, as being that which is the most precious part of man, redeemed at an infinite price by the blood of the Lamb; and the prosperity or adversity of which must ever deeply interest him.

In this touching and affectionate address to his soul, we may notice two things.

I. The QUESTION itself—”WHY are you cast down, O my soul? and WHY are you disquieted in me?”

II. The ENCOURAGEMENT that he addresses to his cast down and disturbed soul—”Hope in God!”

I. The QUESTION itself—”WHY are you cast down, O my soul? and WHY are you disturbed in me?” It is evident from the very form of the question that David here puts, that his soul was “cast down.” If it were not “cast down, and disturbed in him,” the enquiry that he makes as to the cause of its disquietude would be utterly useless.

But we may take these words as applicable not to David only at the time he put the question, but as suitable also to THE WHOLE FAMILY OF GOD who tread in the experience of David.

A. The first question David asks his soul is, “WHY are you cast down, O my soul?” Let us look, then, at some of the things which cause the souls of God’s people to be often “cast down” within them.

But, first, WHAT IS IT to be “cast down?” It is to be depressed; to feel our soul bowed down within us; to be sunk low, in a low spot; to be brought off from presumption, false confidence, levity, profanity, pharisaism, and worldliness; and by the work of the Spirit upon us, to be brought into that low place, out of which nothing but the hand of the Lord evidently stretched out and His arm made bare can deliver us.

Now there are many things that cause the souls of God’s family to be “cast down” from time to time within them. Some prominent ones being THE GUILT OF SIN, TEMPTATIONS AND AFFLICTIONS.

But David puts another question to his soul—not differing much from the first, but still having a slight distinction—”WHY ART THOU DISQUIETED (OR DISTURBED) IN ME?” The expression, “cast down,” refers more especially to present feeling; but the word, “disturbed,” refers more to the anxiety of the soul in looking to the FUTURE.

The causes of trouble in the heart of a child of God are often of this two-fold nature. Not merely does present sorrow and affliction cast down the soul at the time; but it is disturbed at the prospect of the future. This ever will be the tendency of affliction and sorrow. Could we see the rainbow in the cloud, and feel assured the sun would soon shine forth, half the trouble would be taken away. But to see the whole atmosphere enwrapped in misty darkness; to view clouds rising upon all sides of the horizon; not to behold one ray of light piercing through the dark gloom—it is this which makes the soul not merely “cast down” for the present, but “disturbed” for the future.

Thus when under GUILT, there will be disquietude until pardon is sweetly experienced. When under AFFLICTIONS, there will be disquietude and doubts how the afflictions will terminate. When engaged in CONFLICT with the enemies of our soul’s peace, there will be disquietude lest we should be overcome in the battle. When the BODY IS AFFLICTED with pain and disease, disquietude may be felt whether it will end in death. When FAMILY AFFLICTIONS press down the mind, there will be disquietude what the result may be.

In a word, whatever be the source of sorrow that casts down the soul, from the present trouble and present affliction there will be almost necessarily many an anxious glance towards the future, many a watching whether the cloud gives any indication of dispersion, many fears lest the thunder-storm, whose roar we hear in the horizon, and the flashes of which we perceive afar off, will not approach nearer and nearer, and burst wholly upon us.

So that when the soul is cast down, distressed, and burdened, it is not merely so with what is taking place at the present; but suspicions and disquietudes arise as to what will be the outcome, as to what we may EXPECT, and as to what we may fear for the FUTURE.

How gracious and merciful was it of the Lord to cause the soul of David thus to be exercised! How kind and tender it was of Him to cause him, by the pen of inspiration, to record in the sacred Scriptures his painful experience! We have reason to bless God for it. Many of the Lord’s dear family have had to take this enquiry into their lips, and with a burdened heart, cry aloud, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?”

But we will pass on to the ENCOURAGEMENT that David proposes to his own soul. It was, as I hinted, the tender and affectionate partner of all his sorrows; and he desired it to be also the tender and affectionate partner of all his joys. “Hope in God.” He here addresses himself to his own soul, as though he would cheer it onward, as though he would hold forth to it some prospect of relief, as though he would lay the strong arm of consolation beneath it that it might not utterly sink, as though he would encourage it to look for better times, as though he would say, “My soul, cast not away all your confidence—Hope in God!”

Thus, one source of hope in God springs out of THE INVITATIONS THAT THE LORD HAS GIVEN IN HIS WORD TO THE POOR AND NEEDY, to the exercised and distressed, to the burdened and sorrowful. For instance, the Lord says, “Come unto ME, all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28.) “Look unto ME, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.” (Isa. 45:22.) “Him who comes unto ME, I will never cast out.” (John 6:37.) These invitations, addressed in God’s word to certain characters, are applied from time to time by the blessed Spirit with dew and power to the soul, so as to encourage it to hope in God.

You will observe, that the Psalmist here encourages his soul to hope in GOD. NOT in God’s mercy, NOT in God’s faithfulness, though both these are needed. But, if I may use the expression, he takes his desponding soul beyond the attributes of God to hope in THE PERSON OF GOD HIMSELF. So that, in order that there may be this hope in God, springing out of the suitability and preciousness of the invitation addressed to certain characters, there must be in the heart and conscience a personal knowledge of God—and this springing out of His own manifestations to the soul, and the communication to the heart of that precious faith by which the invitations are received into the affections as set forth in the Scriptures of truth.

Now the effect of the suitability and preciousness of the invitations flowing into the heart and conscience is to raise up a hope in God. It may not be a hope that affords strong consolation; it may not be a hope that entirely overcomes despondency. But yet it shall be a hope that shall raise the soul up from the waves. It is something like a buoy at sea, or the life-boat in a storm; it may often be dashed by the waves that beat upon it, yes, so dashed as to be hidden by the foam. But let there be a subsidence of the troubled waters, let the waves and billows cease, then we see the buoy again; that sure mark of the anchor beneath is not lost, though it may be hidden for a short space from the view. Thus, hope in God springing out of the suitability, sweetness, truth, and preciousness of the invitations, as they flow with power into the conscience, supports the soul under the waves of doubt and despondency, although it may feel the foam often dash over its poor desponding head, and even fear that it may prove a castaway.

But there is a “hope in God” springing out of the PAST TESTIMONIES THAT HE HAS GIVEN TO THE SOUL.

And THIS is what David seems here especially to allude to. He says, “O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore will I remember Thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.” In the land of Jordan, and the Hermonites, God had appeared conspicuously for David; and the little hill Mizar had been raised up in his heart and conscience by some testimony from God. He looked to that spot, and stood upon it as a foundation for his hope.

Now every intimation of God’s favor that we may have received, every token for good that we may have experienced, every glimpse and glance, every believing view of a precious Christ, every feeling of the power of atoning blood in the conscience, and every manifest shedding abroad of divine love, is a testimony to which the soul may at times look; and if it could always look there, it would not be cast down and disturbed; nor would David need to raise up his soul and encourage it to hope in the Lord from past testimonies—I believe myself that when our testimonies are beclouded, we would look back for comfort to things we have gone through, but darkness rests upon them. It is with us as with Job; when he went forward, he could not behold; and when he went backward, there was darkness still. When the soul is cast down, testimonies are but dimly seen—If I may use so familiar an illustration, it is like passing through a deep cutting in a railway; we cannot see the country on either side, though there it is in all its blooming beauty.

So, as we pass through the deep cuttings in the soul, we cannot see our Mizars, our Ebenezers. They are there; the testimonies remain the same—but just in proportion as we sink, do we sink out of their sight. But David would encourage his soul to hope still in God; he would softly remind it of what it had sweetly experienced. This encouraged his poor troubled heart still to hope in God, looking for better times, and trusting that the Lord would shortly appear.

Now just in proportion to the “hope in God” will be the soul’s relief from being cast down and disturbed within. The reason that we are downcast often in our soul is because we cannot exercise this “hope in God.” The anchor is still within the veil; the ship rides securely; it is not carried down the tide of sin; it is not borne down the stream of an ungodly world; the vessel is at anchor; and though the waves and billows that dash against its sides may hide the cable that holds the anchor, yet there is a secret power which keeps the ship in her place.

THE CHILD OF GOD NEVER ENTIRELY LOSES HIS HOPE; HE NEVER UTTERLY LOSES HIS TRUST IN GOD; HIS FAITH NEVER TOTALLY DESERTS HIM. What else is it that supports his soul from sinking into despair? What keeps him from plunging into the filth and abominations of his lustful heart? What preserves him from altogether giving up the very profession of religion? What keeps him from open blasphemy and infidelity? Is there not a secret power in his soul, invisible to himself, acting in a mysterious way, and holding him up, so that concerning faith he does not make shipwreck?

Perhaps some of you have made a profession many years, and many have been the waves and billows that have passed over your head; and the longer you live, the more will these billows roll. Never expect to be long at ease; and if you are spiritually-minded, you cannot bear the thought of being at ease. I can speak for myself; I would sooner have trials, temptations, troubles, exercises, crosses, and sorrows—feel my soul kept alive by them, and enjoy the presence and favor of God in them, than be at ease in Zion, and settled upon my lees, or have all prosperity, and know no changes nor reverses.

But WHO has raised up your soul amid these waves and billows? Have you not sometimes been tempted to cast away all your confidence? Have you not sometimes been so cut up by guilt as to do you think never could lift up your head before God and His people again? Have you not been so carried away, at times, by some master sin as to fear lest it break out and bring you to open shame? Have you never got weary of religion altogether; and feared a time would shortly come when you would be made manifest as an hypocrite? And have you not waded through many other inward and outward trials which I cannot enumerate? Trials which none but a man’s own soul can know; for each heart knows its own bitterness—each one is best acquainted with his own sorrows, burdens, and perplexities.

We cannot breathe them all into the ears of our best friend. We admit our friend sometimes into the ante-chamber, into the outer court; but who has ever taken his friend into the inner chamber of his heart’s secrets? I never have, and never can. There are depths there that the eye of man never has looked into; NONE BUT THE EYE OF GOD IS PRIVILEGED TO LOOK INTO THE VERY CENTER OF THE HEART. Child of God! is it not so? What then has kept you during all this storm? What has held you up secretly, when you have resolved upon some sin?—when you have contrived it, plotted it, planned it, and in a fit of wild despair at its vile workings in your heart, have felt that you would plunge into the sin today, though you jumped into hell tomorrow. What kept you? Was there not a secret power that held you up in this storm?

When doubts and fears and despondency almost made head in your heart, was there not a secret, “Who can tell?” (Jonah 3:9) A longing looking to the Lord, though you might be, with poor Jonah, in the very belly of hell, with the weeds wrapped round your head? And though you may have almost despaired of ever coming forth into the light and liberty of God’s countenance, what held, what kept you from utter despair? Was there not a secret breathing of your soul God-wards? A mysterious laying underneath of the everlasting arms? A sensible going out of your whole soul and spirit into the bosom of Immanuel?

Or when you have BACKSLIDDEN—(and who dare say that he has never backslidden in heart, lip, or life? What! No adulterous eye, no roving heart, no filthy idol that has carried you away captive, and cut you up with guilt and shame?)—but when in this backsliding state, WHAT kept you from utterly abandoning the place where God’s Word is preached, and turning your back upon the Lord’s people, and the cause of God and truth? What brought you upon your knees, made you confess your sins, and caused tears of sorrow to roll down your cheeks, and the sobs of contrition to heave from your bosom? What held you up in these storms? Was it not the mysterious, the secret workings and operations of God the Spirit in your conscience, enabling your soul to hope in God; still to look to, lean upon, and pour out your heart before the Lord—to rely upon His Word of promise, and to believe that whatever HE might do would be right?

THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE PREDESTINATED TO WALK IN THE PATHS OF TRIBULATION —no “strange thing” has happened unto you; nothing but what is the lot of saints. Have not the family of God trodden these paths before YOU? Did not the Son of God travel this dreary road? Was He not made perfect through sufferings? Did He not pour out His heart to God in strong cries and tears? Then “why art THOU cast down, O my soul?” If these things were to destroy you—if these griefs were to cut you off without hope or help—if these trials were to crush you in the dust without remedy—if these temptations were for your entire destruction—then, my soul, you might be cast down.

But when you have such sweet encouragements, such gracious support, such abundant promises—such a God, whose truth cannot be impeached, whose mercies cannot fail—such a High Priest of covenant faithfulness and super-abounding grace—such a Three-One God to lean upon—”why art thou cast down?” The present is painful; but will not the present pain be made up by future pleasure? The future is dark; but is not the Lord, who has helped hitherto, a present help; and will he not provide for the future? Has He not promised, “As thy days is, so shall thy strength be!” (Duet 33:25) Has it not passed from His faithful lips—”Thy shoes shall be iron and brass?” Do you not know that the mercies of God fail not—that they are FOR EVERMORE? Then, “WHY art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?” THIS is your remedy. I know that you are disturbed; and I know what your poor dark, anxious bosom is heaving with. But still “HOPE IN GOD,” for there is no care or restless disquietude for which the Lord is not your remedy.

How tenderly David – or rather, the Spirit of God in David, encourages his poor soul—”Hope in God.” The soul’s expectation shall not be cut off; Jesus still lives and reigns within the veil. “Hope in God.” The time will come when “I shall yet praise Him who is the health of my countenance and my God,” adds the sweet Psalmist of Israel. “And believing I shall yet praise Him; believing that HE is the health of my countenance; believing that HE is my covenant God and Father—I will hope in Him, and not give it up; but still look unto Him, and lean upon His everlasting arms which cannot fail, and His love that endures for evermore.”

Now is not this precisely suitable to the state and case of every child of God here who is cast down and disturbed? Does not the same God live and reign, who lived and reigned when David wrote? Are not His consolations THE SAME? Is not His love THE SAME? Is not His faithfulness THE SAME? O, it will be our mercy if our numerous causes for being cast down, if our numerous sorrows, anxieties, and disquietudes, lead us away from the creature, to “hope in God;” and to believe that we shall yet praise Him, “who is the health of our countenance and our God.”

“I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.” [Psalm 40:1-3] Amen!

THE MYSTERIOUS PATH OF GOD’S ELECT

THE MYSTERIOUS PATH OF GOD’S ELECT

J.C. Philpot


The Regenerated child of God soon learns that if he stands, God must hold him up; if he knows anything aright, God must teach him; if he walks in the way to heaven, God must first put, and afterwards keep him in it; if he has anything, God must give it to him; and that if he does anything, God must work it in him. He now “through the law”-that is, through his experience of its killing sentence-“is become dead to the law, that he may live unto God”. He can no longer take a killing letter for a living rule, but is deeply conscious that it is only by being “married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that he can bring forth fruit unto God” Ro 7:4. Thus by the presence of God going with him, he becomes separated “from all the people that are upon the face of the earth” Ex 33:16.

Whilst others boast of what they have done for God, he is glad to feel that God has done something for him; whilst others are handling the shell, he is eating the kernel; whilst others are talking of Christ, he is talking with Him; whilst others are looking through the park palings, he is enjoying the estate; and whilst others are haranguing about the treasure in the Bank of England, he is pleased to find a few coins in his own pocket, stamped with the king’s image and superscription. But he finds the truth of that text, “In much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increases sorrow” Ec 1:18. As his inward religion separates him from those who have only an outward one, he becomes a butt for empty professors to shoot at. Those whom he once would have disdained to set with the dogs of his flock, now spare not to spit in his face Job 30:1 Job 30:10.

Every consequential Evangelical, who has not an idea about religion but what he has gleaned from Scott or Simeon, condemns him as “a rank Antinomian”. Every spruce Academic, hot from Hackney or Cheshunt, who knows no more about the operations of a living faith than of the Chinese language, has an arrow stored in his quiver, feathered with a text to strike him through the heart as “an awful character”. Every high-faith professor rides over his head; every dry Calvinist outruns him in the race; every Pharisee outstrips him in zeal; every ranting Methodist thunders at him for sloth; and every doer of duty avoids him as a pestilence.

However various sects differ among themselves, they all unite in condemning him. All other religion is right, and his alone wrong; everyone else’s faith is genuine, and his only is spurious. Of him alone the charitable augur uncharitably; universal salvationists cut off him alone from salvation; those that pity the heathen have no pity for him; and those who compass sea and land to make one proselyte, pronounce his case alone as past recovery. And what is his trespass and what is his sin, that they so hotly pursue after him? Ge 31:36. Does he live in sin? No. Is he buried in the world, head over ears in politics, heaping together dishonest gains, or eaten up with covetousness? None dare say so. Does he neglect prayer, reading the Word, hearing the truth, contributing to the necessities of saints, and living peaceably with all men? No. Why then this universal baying at him from every dog of the pack? For the same reason that Joseph’s brethren hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him-the Father loves him, and has clothed him in a garment of many colours, and given him revelations which He has denied to them.

But he has sorrow, too, and opposition within, far more trying to his spirit than the evil names which malicious ignorance heaps upon him, or the unjust suspicions which Pharisaic pride harbours against him. Paul, after being caught up into the third heaven, had given to him a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him, lest he should be exalted above measure 2Co 12:7. Go where he would, this thorn still accompanied him, rankling continually in his flesh, hampering every movement, inflicting unceasing pain, and piercing him deeper and deeper the more that he struggled against it.

Ten thousand thorns in the hedge do not pain like one in the flesh. And thus ten thousand unjust suspicions of the sons of Belial, though they be “all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands; but the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear” 2Sa 23:6,7 -ten thousand suspicions, I say, from vulture-eyed professors are but as thorns in the hedge, which only wound us when we go near them, and which a wise man will keep a due distance from. But a thorn in the flesh, driven and fastened in by the hand of God, we can neither ease nor extract.

And thus any one constant harassing temptation, which strikes into the soul of a child of God, will grieve and wound him a thousand times more deeply than a thick hedge of furze-bush professors standing by the roadside. But by these painful exercises he is kept from settling down on the lees of a dead assurance, or resting at his ease on the ground of a past experience. This rankling thorn preserves him from that vain, wretched, delusive establishment, falsely so-called, which, as a spreading gangrene, has infected well nigh whole churches with the dry rot-an establishment built upon length of profession, upon belief of the doctrines of grace, upon membership in a Particular Baptist Church, upon consistency of conduct, upon a general currency as a believer, upon freedom from doubts and fears, and upon an experience twenty years ago. His thorn in the flesh will not let him stand at ease, or ground his arms, as though the battle were won, the enemy vanquished, and the articles of peace signed.

He cannot rest on doctrines, of which the power is not now felt; nor in a past experience, which is not continually renewed; nor in a Saviour in the Bible whose presence is not from time to time manifested; nor in promises, of which the sweetness is not occasionally enjoyed. He cannot thus cast anchor in the Dead Sea. He cannot lie stretched at his ease on this downy bed, for his thorn will not let him rest, but makes him “full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day” Job 7:4.

Thus his establishment consists not in a head furnished with notions, but in a heart established with grace; not in an outward union with a church, but in an inward union with Christ; not in sitting down once a month to the ordinance, but in eating the bread which came down from heaven; not in having repented twenty years ago, but in being often melted by a sense of God’s goodness and mercy; not in occupying a corner in an experimental chapel, but in having a place and a name in the church of the Firstborn. He will not indeed despise nor neglect any one of Christ’s ordinances, but will look to the power more than to the form; and will think it sweeter to walk into the inner chambers of Zion’s palace, and behold the King’s face, than to go round about her, to tell her towers, and mark well her bulwarks.

Through the inward conflicts, secret workings, mysterious changes, and ever-varying exercises of his soul, he becomes established in a deep feeling of his own folly and God’s wisdom, of his own weakness and Christ’s strength, of his own sinfullness and the Lord’s goodness, of his own backslidings and the Spirit’s recoveries, of his own base ingratitude and Jehovah’s longsuffering, of the aboundings of sin and the super-aboundings of grace. He thus becomes daily more and more confirmed in the vanity of the creature, the utter helplessness of man, the deceitfullness and hypocrisy of the human heart, the sovereignty of distinguishing grace, the fewness of heaven-taught ministers, the scanty number of living souls, and the great rareness of true religion. Nor are these convictions borrowed ideas, floating opinions, crude, half-digested sentiments or articles of a creed, which may be right or may be wrong; but they are things known by him as certainly, and felt as evidently as any material object that his eye sees, or his hand touches.

He has a divine standard set up in his soul by which he measures others as well as himself, for “he that is spiritual judgeth all things” 1Co 2:15; and as he measures them with one hand, he is forced to stamp “Tekel” with the other. He looks into the granaries, and finds chaff stored instead of wheat; he holds up the notes to the light, and cannot discover the water-mark; he walks up to the fold, and sees goats penned instead of sheep; and visits the household to search for the family likeness, but finds it filled with the “sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore” Isa 57:3. All he wants is reality. All that he is in search of is something which bears the divine impress, and carries with it a heavenly and supernatural character. But instead of finding widows “indeed and desolate” 1Ti 5:5, he is pestered with widows of Tekoa 2Sa 14:2; and instead of bankrupt debtors and insolvent prisoners, he encounters scarce any but wealthy merchants, with a flourishing trade and a stock in hand.

His soul can, however, only unite with the poor and needy, the stripped and the emptied, the shipwrecked sailor and the shelterless wayfarer, who, from sheer necessity, from being driven out of house and home, have fled for refuge to the hope set before them in a salvation without money and without price.

And thus a little godly fear, a little living faith, a little groaning prayer, a little genuine repentance-in a word, a little heavenly reality, will kindle a union, when towering pretensions, unshaken confidence, ready utterance, a sanctified countenance, a whining cant, a gifted head, and a tongue that walketh through the earth, will freeze up every avenue of his heart. He has a needle in his soul which has been touched with a heavenly magnet; and the pole that a broken heart attracts, a brazen forehead repels.

Thus growth in grace is not progressive sanctification and fleshly holiness on the one hand, nor a false and delusive establishment on the other. The narrow path lies between these two extremes. On the one side is Seneh, and on the other side is Bozez 1Sa 14:4, Pharisaical holiness and Antinomian security, and between these two sharp rocks lies the path “which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen” Job 28:7. From dashing on either of these rocks, a living man is kept only by the mysterious dealings of God with his spirit, and the internal exercises through which he continually passes.

A constant acquaintance with his own vileness preserves him from a self-righteous holiness in the flesh; a daily cross and a rankling thorn keep him from careless presumption. His path is indeed a mysterious one, full of harmonious contradictions and heavenly paradoxes. He is never easy when at ease, nor without a burden when he has none. He is never satisfied without doing something, and yet is never satisfied with anything that he does. He is never so strong as when he sits still Isa 30:7, never so fruitful as when he does nothing, and never so active as when he makes the least haste Isa 28:16. All outstrip him in the race, yet he alone gains the goal, and wins the prize. All are sure of heaven but himself, yet he enters into the kingdom, whilst they are thrust out. He wins pardon through guilt, hope through despair, deliverance through temptation, comfort through affliction, and a robe of righteousness through filthy rags. Though a worm and no man, he overcomes Omnipotence itself through violence; and though less than vanity and nothing Isa 40:17 2Co 12:11, he takes heaven itself by force Mt 11:12.

Thus amidst the strange contradictions which meet in a believing heart, he is never so prayerful as when he says nothing; never so wise as when he is the greatest fool; never so much alone as when most in company; and never so much under the power of an inward religion as when most separated from an outward one. Strange mysterious creature! He cannot live without sinning, yet cannot live in sin; cannot live without prayer, and yet for days together cannot pray; continually finds religion a burden, yet would not part with it for the world; lusts after sin as a delicious morsel, yet hates it with a perfect hatred; esteems Christ the Chiefest among ten thousand, and yet is at times tried with doubts whether He is a Saviour at all.

Such, then, is the path, however feebly or imperfectly described, in which the redeemed walk Isa 35:9, a path trodden by them alone, and that too, often sorely contrary to their own inclinations.

To walk in this path is not the product of wisdom Da 2:30, the effect of talent 1Co 2:6, nor the fruit of study. On the contrary, all that nature can do is to fight against it. Reason calls it folly, wisdom terms it madness, prudence considers it delusion, learning deems it enthusiasm, free-will counts it presumption, and self-righteousness thinks it licentiousness. Bishops and Archbishops despise it, Deans and Archdeacons abhor it, High Church clergy revile it, Low Church clergy preach against it, Bible and Missionary Societies cashier anyone the least tainted with it, and the devout and honourable expel it out of their coasts Ac 13:50. Graceless Calvinists abhor the sword whose keen edge gives them no quarter; Wesleyans revile the weapon that lays their proud fabric in the dust; worldly Dissenters hate the light that makes manifest their rotten foundation; preachers made at colleges and academies detest the voice which demands their divine commission; and formalists of all grades, sects, names and denominations loathe a religion which cuts them off from eternal life, and leaves them without the shadow of a hope.

One thing is to them sufficiently clear: if this be the only way to heaven, they are not walking in it. This, at any rate, they have discernment enough to see; and thus, if they would justify themselves, they must necessarily condemn the way itself, the people who are walking in it, and the ministers who preach it.

But happy are those of us who, by an Almighty hand and a supernatural power, have been put into this blessed path! We neither placed ourselves in it at first, nor have kept ourselves in it afterwards. If we have done either, we are not in the way at all, but are walking in a side path, and shall end at that door which Bunyan saw to open into hell from the very gates of heaven!

WORKING OUT WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING WHAT GOD HAS WORKED IN

WORKING OUT WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING WHAT GOD HAS WORKED IN

J.C. Philpot


“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” [Phil 2:12,13]

None but God’s people under the teachings of the Spirit know what it is to “WORK OUT THEIR OWN SALVATION.” And all who work out their own salvation will work it out “with fear and trembling.” For when a man is taught by God to know what he is; when he feels what a deceitful heart he carries in his bosom; when the various snares, temptations, and corruptions by which he is daily encompassed are opened up to him; when he knows and feels what a ruined wretch he is in self, then he begins to fear and tremble lest he should be damned at the last. He cannot go recklessly and carelessly on without “making straight paths for his feet,” without “examining himself whether he be in the faith.”

And whenever a man’s dreadfully deceitful heart is opened up to him; whenever the hollowness of an empty profession is unmasked; whenever he feels how strait is the path, how narrow the way, and how few there are that find it; whenever he is brought to see how easily a man is deceived, and how certainly he must be deceived unless God teaches him in a special manner—whenever a man is brought to this point, to see what a rare thing, what a sacred thing, and what a spiritual thing religion Isaiah , that God himself is the author and finisher of it in the conscience, and that a man has no more religion than God is pleased to give him, and cannot work a single grain of it into his own soul; when he stands on this solemn ground, and begins to work out that which God works in, it will always be “WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING;” with some “fear” lest he be deceived, until God assures him by His own blessed lips that he is not deluded; and “with trembling,” as knowing that he stands in the immediate presence of God, and under His heart-searching eye.

When God has worked in a man “TO WILL,” and not only worked in him “to will,” but also worked in him “to do;” when he has made him willing to flee from the wrath to come; willing to be saved by the atoning blood and justifying righteousness of Jesus; willing to be saved by sovereign grace as a sinner undone without hope, and glad to be saved in whatever way God is pleased to save him; willing to pass through the fire, to undergo affliction, and to walk in the strait and narrow path; willing to take up the cross and follow Jesus; willing to bear all the troubles which may come upon him, and all the slanders which may be heaped upon his name; when God has made him willing to be nothing, and to have nothing but as God makes him the one, and gives him the other—and besides working in him “to will,” has worked in him “to do,” worked in him faith to believe, hope whereby he anchors in the finished work of Christ, and love whereby he cleaves to Him with purpose of heart.

When all this has been “with fear and trembling,” not rushing heedlessly on in daring presumption, not buoyed up by the good opinion of others, not taking up his religion from ministers and books; but by a real genuine work of the Holy Spirit in the conscience; when he has thus worked out with fear and trembling what God has worked in, he has got at salvation; a salvation from wrath to come, from the power of sin, from an empty profession; at salvation from the flesh, from the delusions of Satan, from the blindness and ignorance of his own heart; he has got at a salvation which is God’s salvation, because GOD has worked in him to will and to do of His good pleasure.

THERE ARE MYSTERIES IN GOD’S WORD

THERE ARE MYSTERIES IN GOD’S WORD

Condensed from the writings of J.C. Philpot by Michael Jeshurun

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a MYSTERY, even the HIDDEN WISDOM, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.” [1 Cor. 2:7]

Every true minister of the gospel is “a steward of the mysteries of God;” as the Apostle declares (1 Cor. 4:1), “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.” And his office is, as God the Spirit teaches and enables him, to bring forth these mysteries for the edification and consolation of the people of God.

WHAT IS A MYSTERY?

Let us endeavor to discover its scriptural meaning. A MYSTERY has these three marks attending it–

1. It is a truth beyond the comprehension of nature, sense, and reason.
2. It is hidden from the wise and prudent.
3. It is revealed by the Spirit of God unto babes.

These three distinct marks are found in EVERY gospel mystery; and therefore nothing but divine teaching can lead us into a spiritual and experimental acquaintance with heavenly mysteries.

Almost everything pertaining to the Gospel and the Kingdom to come is a ‘Mystery’!

There is the ‘Mystery of the Trinity’ [1John 5:7],
the ‘Great Mystery of Godliness’ [1Tim 3:16],
the ‘Mystery of the union of the Church with her covenant Head’ [Eph 5:30-32],
the ‘Mystery of the Gospel’ [Eph 6:19];
the ‘Mystery of the Kingdom of God!’ [Mark 4:11],
the ‘Mystery of the two natures, that “company of two armies,” perpetually struggling and striving against each other in the same bosom! [Sos 6:13]
the ‘Mystery of iniquity’ [2Thes 2:7]
the ‘Mystery of the Resurrection’ [1Cor 15:51, 52]

And then comes what John saw in Revelation (10:7)—”In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, THE MYSTERY OF GOD SHALL BE FINISHED, which He has declared to His servants the prophets.”

This is the winding up of all things, when the mystery of iniquity in the professing world; the mystery of God’s dealings with his people in grace; the mystery of his dealings with them in providence; the mystery of the way in which God has led his church; the mystery of all our trials, temptations, afflictions, and sufferings; the mystery of the crooked road we have walked, of the tangled labyrinth which we have threaded; the mystery why the wicked have prospered, and the righteous been oppressed—all these mysteries, which now puzzle and perplex nature, sense, and reason, will then be unfolded to the church of God.

Then “the mystery will be finished;” and God will lay bare the mystery hidden for ages in Christ Jesus, and make it known to the salvation of His people, the confusion of His enemies, and the glory of Himself.

Now, “in the Spirit,” the man of whom the Apostle spoke, preached “mysteries;” (1Cor 14;2) for “in the Spirit” they must be preached, and “in the Spirit” they must be received; or he who preaches, and those that hear, will preach and hear in vain. But what a mercy if the Spirit has preached any of these mysteries into our hearts; and what a blessing if we have received them in a measure of faith, hope, and love; and being deeply sensible of our ignorance, have received the truth in the love of it, been enabled to embrace it, in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, for our soul’s edification and consolation. THEY MUST BE RECEIVED AS MYSTERIES.

Immediately as natural reason intrudes, and the question is asked, “How can these things be?” we cease to submit to God’s will and word. But when we fall down before the throne of God, and feeling that though we cannot understand them, cannot comprehend them, cannot reason ourselves into them, we yet are enabled to receive them into our heart by a living faith, we see their beauty, taste their sweetness, and enjoy a measure of their glory.

Thus we have some evidence that we have received and have felt a power in the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, when a ‘reasonable’ religion, a ‘natural’ religion, an ‘intellectual’ religion satisfies us no longer. Has there not been a time with us when we scorned all mysteries, and would have no religion but one which we could comprehend, and, by dint of our natural understanding, could lay hold of? And through mercy, has not this ‘proud Babel’ been laid low? And have not some of us, through the teachings of God in the conscience, found NATURE, SENSE, and REASON buried in the dust; and felt ourselves brought down to be little children, to know our own ignorance, and to cry to the Lord to teach us the truth by divine revelation?

And since the Lord in mercy has brought our reason to nothing, since in mercy he has caused the ‘tall steeples of natural religion’ to topple down and be stretched in the dust, have we not felt a measure of sweetness, of power, of reality in the things of God not known before? Has not truth come with life and light into our souls, made us new creatures, revolutionized our lives, changed all our views, and given us eyes to see realities we never thought of before? And has not the Gospel of the grace of God been received into a believing heart, and a measure of its sweetness been experienced?

It is thus we have some evidence that we have received the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. And are they not doubly sweet, because reason cannot comprehend them, because we are not able to understand them; and because they can only be received from the lips of Jesus, or as they are dropped into the heart, and distilled on the conscience by the power of the Holy Spirit? And is it not far more blessed to learn them thus, than if we could understand all mysteries by natural intellect, or fathom the depths of God by the line of creature understanding?

Some of you perhaps are poor and despised, and are ridden down by ‘great professors’; your family and friends perhaps cast you out, and say, “Really we cannot understand you; you were a good Christian once, a pattern to others, a truly pious person; and everybody loved and spoke well of you. But,” they say, “what a strange person you are now! We cannot at all get on with you. Ever since you have gone to that chapel, and become connected with that strange sect, you are quite altered, and we know not what to make of you.” Does not this show that the mystery, revealed unto babes, is hidden from the wise and prudent? If all could SEE as we see, HEAR as we hear, FEEL as we feel, the gospel would then be no mystery at all; but by knowing something of this mystery, we are made to differ from them, and this stirs up their enmity and wrath.

“What,” say they, “are there only two or three in a village, only half a dozen in a town, only one in a family going to heaven? and are none right but they?—Away with such narrow-minded, bigoted wretches.” What is this but declaring that there is a mystery in this people’s religion? If they could understand it, if it were agreeable to nature, sense, and reason, it would cease to be a mystery, and you would cease to have a testimony from God that you have received it into your heart with power.

THEREFORE, TO KNOW GOSPEL MYSTERIES BY DIVINE TEACHING, WILL SEPARATE A MAN FROM THE WORLD, LEAD HIM OUT OF FALSE CHURCHES, CUT HIM OFF FROM DEAD MINISTERS, AND BRING HIM INTO UNION WITH THE PEOPLE OF GOD.

And as he finds these are spiritually led into the mysteries of the kingdom of God, it will produce a communion with them, and a sweetness which he never knew in dead churches; and, his heart being dissolved in love and affection, he will cry, “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16.) And thus he will have an increasing testimony from God that he is not one of the “wise and prudent” from whom these things are hidden, but one of “the babes” to whom they are revealed.

O may we know more of these divine mysteries! And may the Lord the Spirit lead us more deeply into them, favor us with more sweet and abiding views of them, and specially make the mystery of the gospel, in the Person, love, and blood of Jesus, “all our salvation and all our desire.” And then, we shall bless God not only that there is a mystery in the gospel, but that He has mercifully unfolded it with power to our consciences!

Amen! Praise the Lord! – M.J.

THE GRACE OF GOD IN THE HEARTS OF HIS ELECT CANNOT BE CONTAMINATED BY ANYTHING THAT MAY COME AGAINST IT

THE GRACE OF GOD IN THE HEARTS OF HIS ELECT CANNOT BE CONTAMINATED BY ANYTHING THAT MAY COME AGAINST IT

J.C. Philpot

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels.” [2 Cor 4:7]

Gold and silver, those precious metals, take no injury, receive no spot of corruption from the vessel in which they are contained; let them be buried in the damp earth, no tarnish or rust forms upon them. So spiritually, the grace of God in the heart, surrounded as it is with corruption, is not tarnished by it, the heavenly treasure is not contaminated, though lodged in an earthen vessel.

Christ in the heart is not defiled by the inward workings of depravity, and by the base thoughts that strive perpetually against his grace, any more than the gold of the Bank of England is defiled by the dark and damp cellars in which it is stowed. And what a mercy it is, that our corruptions cannot tarnish the grace of God; that our unbelief cannot mix with, and adulterate the faith of God’s elect; that our despondency cannot spoil and ruin a gospel hope; that our deadness, darkness, coldness, and rebellion cannot mingle with and defile the love of God in the soul!

This heavenly treasure remains still as unpolluted and pure as when God first put it there; being a part of “the divine nature,” it remains uncontaminated by the filth and corruption that surround it. Is not this a mercy for God’s tried people, that spiritual knowledge, living faith, gospel hope, heavenly love, and the fruits and graces of God’s Spirit in the soul can never be defiled; but, like the streams of a fountain, are ever gushing forth in pure water?

What a blessing it is, that the pure grace of God in a man’s heart cannot be contaminated by the filthy streams that are dashing from a vile nature against it, like the torrents of water from a fire-engine against a burning house, but remains as pure as when God the Spirit first breathed it into the soul.

WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE EYES FOCUSED ON THE LORD

WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE EYES FOCUSED ON THE LORD

J.C. Philpot

“But mine eyes are unto Thee, O GOD the Lord: in Thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute.” [Psalm 141:8]

Now observe, first, the character pointed out by the words, “Mine eyes.” For who alone has “eyes?” Is it not the living soul; one taught of God the Spirit; one in whose heart the Holy Ghost has begun and is carrying on a gracious work? In fact, before the Lord the Spirit begins this gracious work, we have no “eyes;” we are altogether shut up in nature’s blindness, and the very light that is in us, as the Lord said, is but darkness. None, then, but a living soul can use such words as these with real spiritual feeling:
“Mine eyes are unto Thee!”

But observe, in the second place, the condition of the soul here pointed out. This condition is one of soul poverty, soul exercise, soul distress. So that it is necessary not only to be a living soul, but it is also necessary to be placed by the Spirit in a certain condition, before we can know anything of the experience set forth in the words before us.

But having taken a glimpse of the character and condition implied in the text, let us now look at what is more specially contained in the words themselves: “Mine eyes are unto Thee, O God the Lord.”
By “eyes,” we may understand three different things as taking place in the soul’s experience.

FIRST, it may signify the eyes of the understanding; as the Apostle says, “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” (Eph. 1:18.) Before divine life enters into the heart and conscience, there is no spiritual light in the understanding. We require therefore a special illumination of the understanding in order to see the things of God; and more especially to see the Person of the Son of God. For, you will observe, our text refers altogether to “God the Lord.” Before, then, our eyes can be unto “God the Lord,” we must have the eyes of our understanding enlightened to see who this Lord God is.

Now, I believe in my heart and conscience that every living soul of God’s family is brought to know, believe in, to worship, and to love a Three-One God. There are no – there can be no Arians, or Socinians, in the Lord’s living family. The Lord the Spirit leads all His quickened ones into a personal experimental knowledge of, and faith in a Three-One God, by unfolding to their understanding, and opening up to their heart and conscience the sacred mystery of three glorious Persons in one undivided Godhead. For instance; when the Psalmist says, “Mine eyes are unto Thee, O God the Lord,” his eyes were unto God the Father, desiring to experience a measure of the spirit of adoption in his soul, enabling him to cry, “Abba Father;” unto God the Son, as the treasure-house of all spiritual blessings; and unto God the Spirit, as the only Teacher and Revealer of salvation to the soul.

Thus the eyes of the understanding are not merely enlightened to see the Person of God the Father, but they are enlightened also to see the Person of God the Son. They are enlightened, for instance, to see the Godhead of Jesus; and what a sweet glory is cast into the soul, when the eyes of the understanding see the Godhead shining forth in the Person of Immanuel! And what an infinite preciousness, unspeakable value, and glorious dignity this stamps upon every word and action of a suffering Jesus, when we see the Godhead shining forth through them all!

When the eyes of our understanding are also enlightened to see the manhood as united to the Godhead; when we view this mysterious, secret, and indissoluble union; when we trace the human nature of the Lord of life and glory having a distinct existence from, and yet intimately united unto, His glorious and eternal Godhead; when the eyes of the understanding are thus enlightened to see the union of the infinite Godhead and the finite manhood in one glorious Person, and to view Him not only as God, and not only as man, but to view Him as the God-Man exalted far above all principality and power, a risen Mediator, a glorious High Priest, an ever-living and ever-loving Advocate, Mediator, Friend, and Intercessor, what glory and beauty then shine forth in this Immanuel!

But not only are the eyes of the understanding enlightened to see the Person of the God-Man, “Immanuel, God with us:” but they are also enlightened to see the distinct personality of God the Holy Ghost; and not merely brought to see it as revealed in the Scriptures, but to see it in that peculiar indescribable way whereby a living soul only can see it.

2. And this leads me to show, that not only are there eyes of the enlightened understanding, but that there are also eyes of faith; for we read, “By faith he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible.” [Heb 11:27] Wherever there is spiritual understanding, there must be spiritual faith. The graces of the Spirit are never separated; they are all in blessed and holy union one with another: yet they may be distinct in the matter of personal experience. Thus, sometimes we may see things by the eyes of our spiritual understanding; and yet find faith too weak to embrace that which is thus seen. Nay, when we are in this state, we may even fear lest the portion of Balaam seem to be ours, that we “shall see Him, but not nigh.” [Num 24:17] He had his eye upon, but never had faith in the glorious Person of the Son of God.

But the Lord gives to his people not merely spiritual eyes of the understanding, but also gives them the eyes of living faith, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” And when these new eyes, the eyes of faith, are given, then indeed we see. There is a sweet and solemn looking up of the heart unto the Lord; there is a going forth of faith upon his glorious perfections; there is a gracious internal act of the soul, whereby the person of the God-Man is looked unto, believed in, hoped upon, and cleaved to with purpose of heart. And wherever the soul has had, not merely the eyes of the understanding enlightened, but also has had the eyes, the believing eyes of living faith communicated to it, to lay hold of the Person, blood, righteousness, work, and love of Immanuel, that soul is passed from death unto life, and saved with an everlasting salvation.

3. But there are not only the eyes of the spiritual understanding, and the eyes of living faith; there are also eyes of loving affection. Therefore the Bridegroom says to the Bride, “Thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck:” [Son 4:9] and then, turning to her, he says, “Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me.” [Son 6:5] The eyes of the Bride gazed upon the Bridegroom, and cast upon him a languishing look of love. It is so naturally. If there be a beloved child; if there be an endeared wife or husband; if there be a cherished friend, do not the eyes look upon them with tenderness and affection? Can we ever look too much? Can we ever look too long? And as the eye rests upon the beloved object, do we not drink in deep draughts of still more tender affection? So spiritually.

Wherever the eyes of the understanding are spiritually enlightened, and wherever the eyes of faith look up unto the Lord, there also will be the eyes of affection. And these eyes of affection look up unto the Lord with sensations of the tenderest love; they look up unto Him not merely as casting all our hopes of salvation upon Him, not merely with admiration of His glorious Person, viewing His surprising majesty and beauty; but also with tender affection and devoted love, flowing forth out of the heart unto Him who is “altogether lovely.” [Son 5:16]

If ever I knew what it was to have the eyes of my understanding enlightened, the eyes of my faith opened, and the eyes of my affection looking up to the Lord of life and glory, it was during an illness I had last Autumn. There on my bed I knew what it was, I believe, in the actings of living faith and living affection to be looking up unto “God the Lord.” And sweet and blessed indeed was the sight of “Immanuel, God with us,” in His beauty, loveliness, and glory. It indeed softened my heart; and I knew a measure of what the Scriptures speak of in those words, “To be spiritually-minded is life and peace.”

Therefore in describing these things, I speak of what, I hope, the Lord has shown me, and wrought with divine power in my heart; and from time to time I do know what it is to be able to say, “Mine eyes are unto thee, O God the Lord.” For I am sure there is no other Object in earth or heaven that we can look to with any hope, or with any confidence; nor is there an object worthy of our heart’s affection or trust but “God the Lord.” God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, Israel’s Three-One God in covenant love and covenant ties, is worthy of, and will claim all the faith, all the hope, all the trust, all the admiration, and all the affection of every believing, hoping, loving heart. And when these blessed realities are brought with divine power into the soul, we are enabled to say, “Mine eyes are unto thee, O God the Lord,” and to no other!

THE NEED FOR PATIENCE

THE NEED FOR PATIENCE

J.C. Philpot


“For you have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise.” [Hebrews 10:36]

Why is patience needed? Because if we are the Lord’s people, we are sure to have many trials. The Lord sends us afflictions that He may give us the grace of patience to bear them. But O, what a rebellious heart do we carry in our bosom! What perverseness, peevishness, and self-will dwell in us! How soon our temper is stirred up, and our irritable minds roused in a moment by the smallest trifle! How little patience have we under the trials that God sees fit to lay upon us! We thus learn our need of patience, and that it is not a fruit of nature’s soil. The lack of it makes the soul follow after it; and when the Lord does give submission to His will, and enables His children to see how profitable these trials are for their souls, and how, but for this heavy ballast, they would certainly have been carried away into the world, they can see His merciful hand in their heavy afflictions.

Thus sometimes by feeling peevish and rebellious, and thus knowing their need of patience; and sometimes by feeling submissive, and enjoying the sweetness of it, they see what a blessed grace patience is. Scarcely any grace do we more daily need. We need it toward God, when He crosses us in our schemes, thwarts us in our desires, and instead of showing why He afflicts us, HIDES HIMSELF behind a thick cloud that neither faith nor prayer can pierce through.

We need patience with each other, with the world, with our relations in life, and with the Church of God. We need patience when anything is said or done to hurt our minds, wound our feelings, irritate our tempers, and stir us up to revenge. And what a mercy it is, under these sharp trials, to have patience, and thus follow the example of the blessed Lord, “who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not, but committed himself to Him who judges righteously.”

WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE EYES FOCUSED ON THE LORD

WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE EYES FOCUSED ON THE LORD

J.C. Philpot

 
“But mine eyes are unto Thee, O GOD the Lord: in Thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute.” [Psalm 141:8]
 
Now observe, first, the character pointed out by the words, “Mine eyes.” For who alone has “eyes?” Is it not the living soul; one taught of God the Spirit; one in whose heart the Holy Ghost has begun and is carrying on a gracious work? In fact, before the Lord the Spirit begins this gracious work, we have no “eyes;” we are altogether shut up in nature’s blindness, and the very light that is in us, as the Lord said, is but darkness. None, then, but a living soul can use such words as these with real spiritual feeling:

“Mine eyes are unto Thee!”
 
But observe, in the second place, the condition of the soul here pointed out. This condition is one of soul poverty, soul exercise, soul distress. So that it is necessary not only to be a living soul, but it is also necessary to be placed by the Spirit in a certain condition, before we can know anything of the experience set forth in the words before us.
      
But having taken a glimpse of the character and condition implied in the text, let us now look at what is more specially contained in the words themselves: “Mine eyes are unto Thee, O God the Lord.”
 
By “eyes,” we may understand three different things as taking place in the soul’s experience.
 
FIRST, it may signify the eyes of the understanding; as the Apostle says, “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” (Eph. 1:18.) Before divine life enters into the heart and conscience, there is no spiritual light in the understanding. We require therefore a special illumination of the understanding in order to see the things of God; and more especially to see the Person of the Son of God. For, you will observe, our text refers altogether to “God the Lord.” Before, then, our eyes can be unto “God the Lord,” we must have the eyes of our understanding enlightened to see who this Lord God is.
 
Now, I believe in my heart and conscience that every living soul of God’s family is brought to know, believe in, to worship, and to love a Three-One God. There are no – there can be no Arians, or Socinians, in the Lord’s living family. The Lord the Spirit leads all His quickened ones into a personal experimental knowledge of, and faith in a Three-One God, by unfolding to their understanding, and opening up to their heart and conscience the sacred mystery of three glorious Persons in one undivided Godhead. For instance; when the Psalmist says, “Mine eyes are unto Thee, O God the Lord,” his eyes were unto God the Father, desiring to experience a measure of the spirit of adoption in his soul, enabling him to cry, “Abba Father;” unto God the Son, as the treasure-house of all spiritual blessings; and unto God the Spirit, as the only Teacher and Revealer of salvation to the soul.
      
Thus the eyes of the understanding are not merely enlightened to see the Person of God the Father, but they are enlightened also to see the Person of God the Son. They are enlightened, for instance, to see the Godhead of Jesus; and what a sweet glory is cast into the soul, when the eyes of the understanding see the Godhead shining forth in the Person of Immanuel! And what an infinite preciousness, unspeakable value, and glorious dignity this stamps upon every word and action of a suffering Jesus, when we see the Godhead shining forth through them all!
 
When the eyes of our understanding are also enlightened to see the manhood as united to the Godhead; when we view this mysterious, secret, and indissoluble union; when we trace the human nature of the Lord of life and glory having a distinct existence from, and yet intimately united unto, His glorious and eternal Godhead; when the eyes of the understanding are thus enlightened to see the union of the infinite Godhead and the finite manhood in one glorious Person, and to view Him not only as God, and not only as man, but to view Him as the God-Man exalted far above all principality and power, a risen Mediator, a glorious High Priest, an ever-living and ever-loving Advocate, Mediator, Friend, and Intercessor, what glory and beauty then shine forth in this Immanuel!
      
But not only are the eyes of the understanding enlightened to see the Person of the God-Man, “Immanuel, God with us:” but they are also enlightened to see the distinct personality of God the Holy Ghost; and not merely brought to see it as revealed in the Scriptures, but to see it in that peculiar indescribable way whereby a living soul only can see it.
     
 2. And this leads me to show, that not only are there eyes of the enlightened understanding, but that there are also eyes of faith; for we read, “By faith he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible.” [Heb 11:27] Wherever there is spiritual understanding, there must be spiritual faith. The graces of the Spirit are never separated; they are all in blessed and holy union one with another: yet they may be distinct in the matter of personal experience. Thus, sometimes we may see things by the eyes of our spiritual understanding; and yet find faith too weak to embrace that which is thus seen. Nay, when we are in this state, we may even fear lest the portion of Balaam seem to be ours, that we “shall see Him, but not nigh.” [Num 24:17] He had his eye upon, but never had faith in the glorious Person of the Son of God.
 
But the Lord gives to his people not merely spiritual eyes of the understanding, but also gives them the eyes of living faith, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” And when these new eyes, the eyes of faith, are given, then indeed we see. There is a sweet and solemn looking up of the heart unto the Lord; there is a going forth of faith upon his glorious perfections; there is a gracious internal act of the soul, whereby the person of the God-Man is looked unto, believed in, hoped upon, and cleaved to with purpose of heart. And wherever the soul has had, not merely the eyes of the understanding enlightened, but also has had the eyes, the believing eyes of living faith communicated to it, to lay hold of the Person, blood, righteousness, work, and love of Immanuel, that soul is passed from death unto life, and saved with an everlasting salvation.
      
3. But there are not only the eyes of the spiritual understanding, and the eyes of living faith; there are also eyes of loving affection. Therefore the Bridegroom says to the Bride, “Thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck:” [Son 4:9] and then, turning to her, he says, “Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me.” [Son 6:5] The eyes of the Bride gazed upon the Bridegroom, and cast upon him a languishing look of love. It is so naturally. If there be a beloved child; if there be an endeared wife or husband; if there be a cherished friend, do not the eyes look upon them with tenderness and affection? Can we ever look too much? Can we ever look too long? And as the eye rests upon the beloved object, do we not drink in deep draughts of still more tender affection? So spiritually.
 
Wherever the eyes of the understanding are spiritually enlightened, and wherever the eyes of faith look up unto the Lord, there also will be the eyes of affection. And these eyes of affection look up unto the Lord with sensations of the tenderest love; they look up unto Him not merely as casting all our hopes of salvation upon Him, not merely with admiration of His glorious Person, viewing His surprising majesty and beauty; but also with tender affection and devoted love, flowing forth out of the heart unto Him who is “altogether lovely.” [Son 5:16]
      
If ever I knew what it was to have the eyes of my understanding enlightened, the eyes of my faith opened, and the eyes of my affection looking up to the Lord of life and glory, it was during an illness I had last Autumn. There on my bed I knew what it was, I believe, in the actings of living faith and living affection to be looking up unto “God the Lord.” And sweet and blessed indeed was the sight of “Immanuel, God with us,” in His beauty, loveliness, and glory. It indeed softened my heart; and I knew a measure of what the Scriptures speak of in those words, “To be spiritually-minded is life and peace.”
 
Therefore in describing these things, I speak of what, I hope, the Lord has shown me, and wrought with divine power in my heart; and from time to time I do know what it is to be able to say, “Mine eyes are unto thee, O God the Lord.” For I am sure there is no other Object in earth or heaven that we can look to with any hope, or with any confidence; nor is there an object worthy of our heart’s affection or trust but “God the Lord.” God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, Israel’s Three-One God in covenant love and covenant ties, is worthy of, and will claim all the faith, all the hope, all the trust, all the admiration, and all the affection of every believing, hoping, loving heart. And when these blessed realities are brought with divine power into the soul, we are enabled to say, “Mine eyes are unto thee, O God the Lord,” and to no other!
 

GOD’S GENTLENESS WITH HIS ERRING CHILDREN

GOD’S GENTLENESS WITH HIS ERRING CHILDREN

J.C. Philpot

“Yet doth He devise means, that His banished be not expelled from Him” [2 Sam 14:14]

The promise runs, “I will bring again that which was driven away” (Ezekiel 34:16). Guilt, temptation, Satan, doubts, and fears had driven them away from the shelter of the tabernacle. Yet the Lord has respect unto these also. He says, “I will bring again.” But how? By nothing but a sense of mercy.

It is not by frowns, but by smiles. “I drew them,” says the Lord, “with cords of a man” (that is, the tender feelings that are bound up in the human heart), “with bands of love.” You may thunder, you may lighten, you may take the whip and flog a poor backslider – but you can never flog him home. He must be drawn by mercy, by the goodness of God, which leadeth to repentance. [Rom 2:4]

How was Peter brought back? By that look which Jesus gave him, as he stood in the hall of the high priest; that look of mingled love and reproach. It was this that made Peter go out and weep bitterly. A frown would have driven him into despair, and made him hang himself by the side of Judas; but that look of mingled reproof and love wounded and healed, filled heart and eyes with the deepest grief and sorrow; and yet poured such a healing balm into his mourning soul that when Jesus was risen from the dead, and by His angel sent him a special message that He would see him again in Galilee, he leaped into the sea to meet Him, when He stood on the shore of the lake Tiberias.

But for that look and for that message, he would rather have leaped to the bottom with self-reproach, than leaped to the shore with love and affection. Thus was brought again poor driven-away Peter. And thus too, by the voice of pardon, was brought again poor driven-away David. For the Lord devises means that His banished be not expelled from Him.

THE QUESTION IS NOT WHETHER YOU HAVE GREAT FAITH, BUT WHETHER YOU HAVE ANY

THE QUESTION IS NOT WHETHER YOU HAVE GREAT FAITH, BUT WHETHER YOU HAVE ANY

J.C. Philpot

Then Gideon said to God, “And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground”. [Judges 6:39,40]

Many of the Lord’s people labor under doubts and fears, questionings and suspicions as to the reality of the work of grace upon their hearts; whether their convictions were not merely convictions of natural conscience, and whether their joys have been anything else but the joys of the hypocrite. “O,” they say, “what would I not give to have a divine testimony that the blessed Spirit was leading me in the right path!”

It is through these very doubts that the evidence is obtained. DOUBTS LEAD TO CRIES AND GROANS after a divine testimony; and in answer to these cries the heavenly witness is given. A man without doubts is without testimonies. Doubts are to testimonies what the lock is to the key, the enigma to the solution. Testimonies are Ebenezers, “stones of help” (1 Sam. 7:12, marg.); but the stone must have a hole dug for it to stand in, and that hole is doubt. Doubts of salvation are to manifestations of salvation what hunger is to food, nakedness to clothing, a thunderstorm to a shelter, a gallows to a reprieve, and death to a resurrection. The one of these things precedes, prepares, and opens a way for the other. The first is nothing without the last, nor the last without the first. Thus, next to testimonies, the best thing is spiritual doubts.

To know we are right is the best thing; to fear we are wrong is the second best. To enjoy the witness of the Spirit is the most blessed thing on this side of the grave; to pant after that enjoyment is the next greatest blessing. I am speaking, mind you, only of spiritual doubts; that is, doubts in a spiritual man, for natural doubts are as far from salvation as natural hopes. The path through the valley of Baca is “from strength to strength,” that is, according to the eastern mode of traveling, from one halting-place to another, where wells are dug, and “the rain also filleth the pools” (Ps. 84:6, 7).

We do not learn either God or ourselves, sin or salvation, in a day. The question is not so much whether you have much faith, but whether you have any. It is not quantity, but quality; not whether you have a very great religion, but whether you have any at all. A grain of true faith will save the soul; and I have known many, many seasons when I would have been glad to feel certain that I had the thousandth part of a grain.

A grain of mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds; and even faith as small as that can move mountains. Happy is he that has one divine testimony to his eternal interest in the electing love of the Father, in the atoning blood and justifying righteousness of the Son, and in the divine teachings of the Holy Spirit.

ASSURANCE OF SALVATION AND THE STRUGGLE FOR IT

ASSURANCE OF SALVATION AND THE STRUGGLE FOR IT

J.C. Philpot

“The entrance of Thy words giveth light” [Psalm 119:130]

We often get into such dark paths, that we feel as if there were no more grace in our souls, than we are as one altogether dead in trespasses and sins. And whether we look back at the past, or view the present, or turn our eyes to the future, one dark cloud seems to rest upon the whole; nor can we, with all our searching, find to our satisfaction that we have one spark of true religion, or one atom of grace, or one grain of vital godliness, or any trace that the Spirit of God has touched our consciences with his finger.

Now, when we are in this dark, benighted state, we want LIGHT; we want the blessed Son of righteousness to arise; we want the south wind to blow a heavenly gale, and drive the mists away; we want the clouds to part, and the light of God s countenance to shine into our souls, so as to show us where we are, and what we are, and make it clear, that base and vile as we are, yet that we are interested in the love of the Father, the blood of the Son, and the teachings of the Holy Ghost.

Are you never there in soul-feeling? Do you not sometimes look into your hearts, and weigh up your evidences, and examine yourselves, and say, “I must honestly confess” and you sink fathoms in a moment “that I cannot find in my soul one mark of grace; I am as worldly, as stupid, as ignorant, and as carnal, as though the finger of God bad never touched me.”

In these seasons, then, you want the ENTRANCE OF LIGHT. You cannot run to a friend, and say, “Be so kind as to give me a little flattery. Do just take the whitewash brush, and brush me over; get out the mortar and trowel, and daub me over with a little plaster. Pray, put a little putty into these cracked evidences; shore up my sinking religion, that it may not be altogether” a tottering wall, and a bowed fence.” No; you would rather ask a man of God to take his trowel, and pick out with the pointed end all the putty, instead of putting fresh into the crack.

You would rather stand naked before God, that he himself might, in his own time and way, clothe you with the garments of salvation, than be wrapped up in the veils and mantles of profession, or borrow a robe from your neighbour. Thus in these seasons you cannot go to man. You cannot angle for praise. If you resemble me, you cannot go to a child of God with a head hanging like a bulrush, and with demure looks throw out some disparaging, condemnatory sentence against yourself, for the express purpose of your Christian friend taking it up in order to underprop with it your religion. But you will act as Jeremiah says he did Jer 15:17, “I sat alone, because of thy hand;” you will do as we read La 3:28 he does who bears the yoke, -“he sitteth alone, and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him.”

You will be crying unto the Lord in some secret corner, be tossing on your midnight couch, wrestling with the Saviour for a manifestation, and big scalding drops will be rolling down your cheeks, that the Lord would make himself known unto you, and sprinkle your conscience with his atoning blood. You will be sighing and mourning, away from every human eye and every human ear, that the Lord himself would lift up the light of his countenance upon you, and cause you experimentally to know the meaning of the words: The entrance of Thy words giveth light.” You can t be satisfied with the doctrine of Christ s blood, and the doctrine of Christ’s righteousness, and the doctrine of God s everlasting love, but you want the feeling application of it; the spiritual and supernatural entrance of it into your souls, so as to raise up that in your hearts which shall bring you out of prison to praise and bless his name.

And you want this entrance of light into your heart, that it may give you entrance into that which is within the veil, even a sweet and blessed entrance, by faith into the very heart and compassionate bosom of Jesus, so as to drink into his spirit, and to be melted into his likeness.

THIS IS THE RELIGION THAT I WANT; and as to any other, I would, in my right mind, tear every shred of it from me. As to any religion that does not stand in divine teachings, sweet applications, blessed manifestations, and heavenly testimonies, I would throw it aside from me as an unclean garment -I would bury all such rags and tatters in the first dunghill that I came to.

THE SECRET OF THE LORD!

THE SECRET OF THE LORD!

J.C. Philpot


“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant.” [Psalm 25:14]

In the text we find the Holy Spirit speaking of “a secret.” We need not wonder, therefore, that vital godliness is known but to a few. If it is “a secret,” it is evident it is not understood and known by all; the very essence of a secret being that it is confined to a few. And if there be a secret in religion (and such the Holy Spirit declares there is), it shows that vital godliness is confined to those only to whom the secret is made known by the power of God.

What do we understand by the expression “secret!” It something not revealed, nor made known to everybody; something locked up and concealed from the majority, and discovered only to a favored few. All the inward teachings, leadings, guidings, and dealings of God the Spirit upon the conscience, are therefore included in the word, “the secret of the Lord;” for all these inward leadings and teachings are “hidden from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes.” So that, with all their profession, they know nothing of the secret operation of God the Spirit in the conscience; their religion stands in forms and ceremonies, in rites and observances; it does not stand in the inward teachings of God the Spirit.

One part of “the secret of the Lord” is to show the very existence of a God. “He who comes to God,” we read, “must believe that he is.” (Heb. 11:6.) We cannot believe in the very being of a God, (at least such a God as the Scripture represents—a holy Jehovah, who compasses our path and our lying down, and is acquainted with all our ways,) until it is shown to us by the Spirit’s teaching. So that all men in a state of nature are Atheists; no, all professors, devoid of the Spirit are the same. I do not say they are so doctrinally, but they are so practically; for until the Lord does in some measure spiritually make himself known to the conscience, all men actually live without God in the world.

But when the Lord does shine into the conscience, (for the “entrance of his words gives light,”) we begin to feel that there is a God; that we are in his hand; that his eye searches all our ways; that go where we will he still accompanies us; that we cannot hide ourselves from his all-searching eye—and that he is such a God as the scriptures represent, who “will not clear the guilty,” but is just, righteous, and pure, and hates sin with an absolute abhorrence.

The Lord’s providential dealings with us is a part also of “the secret” which is “with those who fear him.” What a mercy it is to see the Lord’s hand stretched out for us in a way of providence! Some people affect to despise the providential dealings of God. But, as some one has justly observed, such as see him only as the God of grace see but the half of his countenance. We must see and feel him as a God of providence also to see the full face of Jehovah. How sweet it is to trace the Lord’s hand in providence; to look back on the chequered path that he has led us by; to see how his hand has been with us for good; what difficulties he has brought us through; in what straits he has appeared; how in things most trying he has wrought deliverance; and how he has sustained us to the present hour. Thus to trace out his dealings with us, is a main part of “the secret of the Lord” which is “with those who fear him.”

Some people may laugh and jeer at the Lord’s dealings in providence; but all this is little else than the mere spawn of a man’s atheistical, infidel heart, that is continually denying him to be the God of providence as well as the God of grace. How sweet are providential favors when they come stamped with this inscription, “This is from the Lord!” How precious every temporal mercy becomes—our very food, lodging, and clothing! How sweet is the least thing when it comes down to us as from God’s hands! A man cannot know the sweetness of his daily bread until he sees that God gives it to him; nor the blessedness of any providential dealing until he can say, “God has done this for me, and given that to me.” When a man sees the providence of God stamped on every action of life, it casts a glory, beauty, and sweetness over every day of his life. Thus to see the Lord’s hand is indeed a main part of “the secret of the Lord which is with those who fear him.”

A sense of the Lord’s presence. O this is indeed a part of the secret which is with those who fear his name. The Lord’s presence! Who but the Lord’s people know anything of that solemn feeling which that presence creates, and which Jacob expressed, when he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not. How awesome is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” (Gen. 28:16, 17.) What solemn feelings are produced in the mind under a sense of God’s presence! How the Lord’s presence turns night into day, makes every crooked thing straight, and every rough place plain! How it banishes all the gloom, melancholy, and despondency which hang over the soul! How it clears up every difficulty; and like the shining sun it drives away the damps and darkness of the night. If there is one thing to be coveted more than another, it is, that the Lord’s presence might be more felt in our hearts; for it is “the secret of the Lord which is with those who fear him” to show to them and make them to feel his blessed presence.

Communion with the Lord, so as to be able to talk to him, and find some access to his presence, is another part of “the secret which is with those who fear the Lord.” What a different thing this is from mere wordy prayers! A man may fall upon his knees, utter words and sound words too, and be engaged for a long time in his devotions, and yet have no communion with God. On the other hand, he may be lying on his bed, sitting in his chair, or engaged in his daily occupation, and in a moment his heart may be caught up into communion with the Lord. But one five minute (or shall I say one minute, for these seasons do not last very long) communion with the Lord is better than being on our knees the whole day, supposing we could kneel so long, merely uttering words without a sense of inward fellowship with the Lord of life and glory. It is through this communion with the Lord that heavenly blessings are bestowed.

But just so far as we are led into an acquaintance with this secret, will it have a powerful effect upon us; and one will be, to bring us into union with those who are taught the same divine lessons, and bring us out from those who are not so taught. If any with whom this secret is, are wrapped up in dead churches, there will be an aching void felt; they will want to have the secret which they feel traced out from the pulpit; but there is no word to meet their case. They want to trace something of it, too, in the members of the church of which they form a part; but they do not find that in their case, “as in water face answers to face, so the heart of man to man.” This inward want, sooner or later, brings them out of dead churches, from under dead ministers, and away from dead professors; and brings them into personal union and communion with the people who are taught by the Spirit of God.

WHAT THE “SONS OF GOD” ARE NOT

WHAT THE “SONS OF GOD” ARE NOT

J.C. Philpot


“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the SONS OF GOD, even to them that believe on His name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” [John 1:12,13]

In speaking of these “sons of God,” the apostle describes them negatively as well as positively; he tells us what they are not, and he tells us what they are. And it is by contrasting what they are not with what they are, that we may arrive at some spiritual knowledge of their real character and position.

1. OF BLOOD

Those then that have “received Christ,” and by receiving Christ have “become the sons of God” (Joh 1:13) manifestly, are said “not to have been born of blood.” The Jews, we know, laid great stress upon their lineal descent from Abraham. “We be Abraham’s seed,” they said to the Lord on one occasion, “and were never in bondage to any man; how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?” “Art thou greater,” asked they, “than our father Abraham?” (Joh 8:33, 53). Their lineal descent from Abraham was the ground of their hope; and they believed that, being his children, they were interested in all the promises which were made to him. They saw no distinction betwixt the children of Abraham LITERALLY and the children of Abraham SPIRITUALLY; and those promises which were made to the spiritual seed of Abraham, as “the father of all them that believe” (Rom 4:11), they appropriated to themselves as his lineal and literal descendants.

Now the apostle in the text demolishes that false idea, cuts from under their feet the ground on which their vain hopes rested, and declares that those who are so highly favoured as to “become the sons of God” had SOMETHING MORE than being “born of blood.” If you look at the word “born,” it implies some change. Birth is a transition from a state of almost non-existence into existence—a coming from darkness to light. When the apostle then says of them, that they were “born NOT OF BLOOD,” he implies that a change of some kind might take place, analogous to the natural birth, and yet not be such a change as makes a man become a child of God.

Is there not such a FALSE BIRTH frequently now? Are there not what are called “PIOUS CHILDREN OF PIOUS PARENTS?” And could you trace their religion to the very source and run it up to its first origin, you would find that it had no better beginning than PARENTAL PIETY; that the religious father taught religion to his child, and by dint of admonition and instruction made him just as religious as himself. So that a change may have taken place; seriousness may have taken the place of trifling, religious books may have been taken up instead of novels, and hymns be sung instead of songs; but after all, THE CHANGE IS A MERE BIRTH “OF BLOOD.” There has been no spiritual change, no almighty work of the Holy Ghost in the soul; but the religion has been handed down from parent to child, and stands upon no better footing than a mother’s instruction or a father’s tuition.

Those who were “born of God” on the other hand had SOMETHING BETTER THAN THIS to stand upon.

2. OF THE WILL OF THE FLESH

But the apostle, in tracing out the character of those who were “the sons of God,” brings forward another imitation of a spiritual birth; he says they were not born “of the will of the flesh.” Has “the flesh,” then, a will to be religious? Aye, surely; we have a religious “old man,” as well as an irreligious “old man.” Nature is not confined to one garb; she wears many masks and can put on various appearances. THUS THERE IS A WILL IN MAN, AT LEAST IN MANY MEN, TO BE RELIGIOUS, AND TO SAVE THEMSELVES IF POSSIBLE. But those who were “born of God” had “power given to them to become the sons of God,” and experienced a deeper, higher, spiritual, and SUPERNATURAL WORK upon their consciences, than any such birth “after the will of the flesh.”

The flesh, however high it may rise, can never rise above itself. It begins in hypocrisy, it goes on in hypocrisy, and it never can end but in hypocrisy. Whatever various shapes it puts on (and it may wear the highest Calvinistic garb, as well as assume the lowest Arminian dress), a fleshly religion never can rise above itself. There is no brokenness of heart, no contrition of spirit, no godly sorrow, no genuine humility, no living faith, no spiritual hope, no heavenly love “shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost” (Rom 5:5), in those that are “born after the will of the flesh.” No abasing views of self, no tender feelings of reverence towards God, no filial fear of His great name, no melting of heart, no softening of spirit, no deadness to the world, no sweet communion with the Lord of life and glory, ever dwelt in their breasts. The flesh, with all its workings and all its subtle deceit and hypocrisy, never sank so low as self-abhorrence and godly sorrow, and never mounted so high as into communion with the Three-One God. The depth of the one is too deep, and the height of the other too high for any but those who are “born of God.”

3. OF THE WILL OF MAN

We read in the text, however, of another birth still, which is “of the will of man.” Man, it appears, has a will to become religious; and as the birth according to “the will of the flesh” pointed out a religion taken up by ourselves, so the birth after “the will of man” shadows forth A RELIGION PUT UPON US BY OTHERS. And to what does the great mass of the religion of the present day amount? If we gauge it by the scriptural standard, if we look at it with a spiritual eye, if we examine it in its bearings God-ward, what must we say of the vast bulk of religion current in this professing day? Must we not say that it is according to “the will of man?”

Eloquent exhortations to “flee from the wrath to come,” thundering denunciations of God’s vengeance against the world, working upon the natural feelings, wooing men into a profession of religion, drawing into churches boys and girls just out of the Sunday school, and persuading all from infancy to grey-hairs to become religious – this is the way in which is brought about the birth after “the will of man.” And what is the end of it all? It leaves the soul under “the wrath to come.”

There is in all this religion no deliverance from the law, no pardon of sin, no separation from the world, no salvation from death and hell. These various births, be they “of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man,” LEAVE A MAN JUST WHERE THEY FOUND HIM — dead in sin, destitute of the fear of God, and utterly ignorant of that divine teaching, which alone can save his soul from eternal wrath.

CONCLUSION

But those who were so highly privileged and so spiritually blessed as to “receive Christ,” and by receiving Christ to “become the sons of God,” were partakers of ANOTHER BIRTH THAN THESE FALSE ONES, and had received another teaching, another gospel, and another Jesus. And THESE, and THESE ONLY, were “born of God.” The Lord Himself had quickened their souls, and brought them out of nature’s darkness into His own marvellous light. The Lord Himself, by His secret work upon their consciences, had cast them down and lifted them up, had brought them to the birth and had also brought them forth; and thus they were “born of God,” and had received the KINGDOM OF GOD WITH POWER into their hearts (see 1Cor 4:20), so as to become “new creatures” (2Co 5:17) and to “pass from death unto life” (Joh 5:24).

GOD IS DETERMINED TO MAKE THE WORLD A WILDERNESS TO ALL HIS ELECT THAT THEY MAY NOT FIND THEIR HAPPINESS IN IT

GOD IS DETERMINED TO MAKE THE WORLD A WILDERNESS TO ALL HIS ELECT THAT THEY MAY NOT FIND THEIR HAPPINESS IN IT

J.C. Philpot

“They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.” Psalm 107:4

The true Christian finds this world to be a wilderness.

There is no change in the world itself.

The change is in the man’s heart.

THE WILDERNESS WANDERER thinks it altered—a different world from what he has hitherto known . . . his friends, his own family, the employment in which he is daily engaged, the general pursuits of men – their cares and anxieties, their hopes and prospects, their amusements and pleasures, and what I may call ‘the general din and whirl of life’, all seem to him different to what they were—and for a time perhaps he can scarcely tell whether the change is in them, or in himself.

This however is the prominent and uppermost feeling in his mind—that he finds himself, to his surprise – a WANDERER IN A WORLD which has changed altogether its appearance to him. The fair, beautiful world, in which was all his happiness and all his home—has become to him a dreary wilderness.

Sin has been fastened in its conviction on his conscience.The Holy Spirit has taken the veil of unbelief and ignorance off his heart. He now sees the world in a wholly different light– and instead of a paradise it has become a wilderness – for sin, dreadful sin, has marred all its beauty and happiness.

It is not because the world itself has changed that the Christian feels it to be a wilderness—but BECAUSE HE HIMSELF HAS CHANGED.

There is nothing in this world which can really gratify or satisfy the true Christian. What once was to him a happy and joyous world has now become a barren wilderness.

The scene of his former . . pursuits, pleasures, habits, delights, prospects, hopes, anticipations of profit or happiness – is now turned into a barren wasteland.

He cannot perhaps tell how or why the change has taken place, but he feels it—deeply feels it. He may try to shake off his trouble and be a little cheerful and happy as he was before—but if he gets a little imaginary relief, all his guilty pangs come back upon him with renewed strength and increased violence.

God means to make the world a wilderness to every child of His, that he may not find his happiness in it, but be a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth.

CHRIST WENT TO THE CROSS AND REDEEMED ONLY THOSE WHOM THE FATHER GAVE HIM AND NONE ELSE


CHRIST WENT TO THE CROSS AND REDEEMED ONLY THOSE WHOM THE FATHER GAVE HIM AND NONE ELSE
 
J.C. Philpot

 
Universalism means all; if Christ does not save all, can His work be called a PERFECT work? If redemption be universal, and only a portion saved, is it to be called a perfect work? If redemption springs from love, if redemption is universal, love will be universal; but if any be lost, if any be in hell, for whom Christ died, their redemption was in vain, and all Christ’s love to them was in vain. He paid their debt, and still their sins remain. He loved them, had power to save them, did all that He could to deliver them from hell, came down upon earth for the express purpose of bearing their sins in His own body on the tree, rose from the dead for them, and ascended up into Heaven as their High Priest and Advocate; and after all He cannot save them, after all this mighty, this infinite, immeasurable expenditure of love, sufferings, tears, groans, agony and blood, they perish in their sins, and are cast into hell.
 
Is Christ really and truly GOD? Has He all the attributes of Deity? Is He all-wise and all-powerful? Does He see the end from the beginning, and know all things, past, present, and to come? Did He know, when upon the cross, who would be saved and who would be lost? Then what a waste of love, what a useless expenditure of suffering, what needless amount of agony, if the effect of all He then suffered hung upon the free will of the creature, and millions were never to benefit by all that He endured for them. But did Christ die for the sins of all mankind? Then He bore the sins of the men of Sodom and Gomorrah; of the host of Pharoah, that perished in the Red Sea; of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, whom the earth swallowed up; of the seven accursed nations of Canaan; and of all those who perished in the universal deluge. But all these had died in their sins. Was a chance given them in hell?
 
Did Christ bear their sins on the cross, and afterwards go down into hell with offers of grace to the damned? Had free will another opportunity, another day of grace, another season allowed it for the exercise of its mighty power? Jude tells us that such as these are “set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (v.7). Paul says that “they were destroyed by the destroyer” (1Co 10:10). But if Christ died for all, He died for these, and if He died for these, there must have been some purpose, something to be done, some effect to arise from His bearing their sins. If He died not for them, then redemption is no longer universal.
 
We have found out millions for whom Christ did not die. A limit is at once set to the universality of the texts so often quoted in favor of universal redemption. If He did die for them, then they either receive some benefit from His death, or they do not. If they receive any benefit, then souls already in hell, who have died in their sins, and perished under the wrath of God, are saved. And if some, why not all?
 
 The pains of hell will surely have taught them to use their free will better than they did upon earth, and an hour’s experience of the burning lake will have made them close in with the offers of grace. Christ would not knock so long in vain at the doors of their hearts as the Wesleyan minister’s say He now does at the hearts of their hearers. If the damned, they tell us, had the same offers as we, how gladly would they embrace them. If Christ then died for them, hell has long ago been dispeopled of its ancient inhabitants. Cain, Pharoah, Saul, Ahithophel, Doeg, Esau, and thousands of others whom the Scripture represents as the enemies of God, are now in Heaven, singing the praises of the Lamb. But if Christ did not die for all these, then redemption is not universal; a limit has been set to it, and it is what we contend for—particular.
 
Thus we consider and believe from the Scriptures of truth that Christ “laid down His life for the sheep;” “was once offered to bear the sins of many;” “sanctified the people with His own blood;” “loved the church, and gave Himself for it;” and bare the sins of His elect family in His own body on the tree. As the names of the children of Israel were borne on the breast of the High Priest (Exo 28:29), so do we believe that Jesus bore on His heart the names of His elect when He hung upon the cross, and atoned by His blood for all their sins and transgressions. He paid their debt to the uttermost farthing, satisfied the most rigorous demands of eternal Justice, suffered in body and soul the full weight, measure and tale of the sins of His people, and left not a single sin of theirs unexpiated or unatoned for. Godhead gave dignity and merit to the sufferings of Manhood; and thus Immanuel, God with us, became the all-sufficient Savior of all that were given to Him, loved by Him, and redeemed by Him.
 
 
 

NO MATTER HOW DARK THE PATH, STILL ‘TIS GOD’S HAND THAT LEADETH ME

NO MATTER HOW DARK THE PATH, STILL ‘TIS GOD’S HAND THAT LEADETH ME

J.C. Philpot

God leads all His people “forth by the right way” (Psa 107:7); but the right way is to them, as God leads them, a mysterious one, for He “brings the blind by a way that they knew not” (Isa 42:16). Could you and I, by the eye of faith, retrace the whole path that God has been pleased to lead us in, from the time He was pleased to quicken our souls, or I might go further back than that—from the time that we came into existence; could we accurately and believingly trace out all the path, we should come to this sweet conclusion in our minds: It has all been a path of undeserved and unmingled mercy. His dealings with us, however painful they may have been, yet have all guided us “by the right way, that we might go to a city of habitation” (Psa 107:7).

And what is our present condition? Some of us, perhaps, are passing through severe trials, walking in “darkness which may be felt” (Exo10:21), labouring under heavy burdens, and not seeing the sun behind the cloud. But may we not judge from the past, what is the use of the present, and what will be the issue of the future? Has the Lord ever disappointed your expectations? Has He ever been to you less than you have hoped, or other than you wished? Oh that the Lord would enable each of us to trust Him even now! However dark the path He may call us to walk in, may the Lord give us this blessed confidence, that He is still leading us, still guiding us, and will lead us and guide us until He brings us to “see Him as He is” (1Jn 3:2), to enjoy His presence, and to sit down in His glorious and eternal kingdom.

He leadeth me, O blessed thought
O words with heavenly comfort fraught
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me

Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom
By waters still, over troubled sea
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me

He leadeth me, He leadeth me
By His own hand He leadeth me
His faithful follower I would be
For by His hand He leadeth me

Thank you Lord Jesus!

THE CHRISTIAN’S WEAKNESS IS HIS STRENGTH

THE CHRISTIAN’S WEAKNESS IS HIS STRENGTH

J.C. Philpot

“Though I be nothing.” [2 Cor 12:11]

Paul did not mean to say that he had no religion, but none IN HIMSELF. ‘What! could not Paul stand against temptation?’ Not more than you or I, unassisted by the grace of God. ‘Could not Paul pray more than I can?’ No, not at all, except so far as the spirit of grace and supplications was given to him. ‘Could not Paul love more than I do?’ Not a bit more, nor think a spiritual thought more, as far as self was concerned. I do not mean to say that Paul did not pray, believe, and love more than any of us do; but he did not perform these actions in himself one whit more than we can. He says, expressly, “In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing;” and therefore not the good thing of faith, or love, or divine communion.

Now when the Lord has brought a soul down to be NOTHING, he then makes HIS STRENGTH perfect in that nothingness; He communicates strength to pray, strength to believe, strength to hope, to love, to receive the gospel. Just like the poor man with the withered hand, to whom Jesus said, “Stretch forth thine hand.” It was withered, he could not do it of himself. But Christ’s strength was made perfect in weakness: when He spake the word, the withered hand was stretched forth, and became whole as the other. So with the dead Lazarus–he was asleep in death; but when the voice of love and power penetrated into the tomb, “Lazarus, come forth,” life was made perfect in the dead corpse. So with the Old Testament worthies, who “out of weakness were made strong” (Heb. 11:34).

And so, each in our measure, it is with us; our weakness, helplessness, and inability are the very things which draw forth the power, the strength, and the grace of Jesus.