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 AMONGST RELIGIOUS GOATS

THE CHRISTIAN’S EXPERIENCE WITH RELIGIOUS GOATS

J.C. PHILPOT’S CLASSIC SERMON

[ A ‘MUST READ’ for all those who claim to be Christian ]

The things he has passed through have brought the Christian into an acquaintance with God. He now knows the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent; and he has felt that God is a Spirit, and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth. He can no longer endure the vain inventions of men, the formalities of a carnal Establishment, the mummeries of priestcraft, the canting whine of hypocrites, the empty babble of chattering professors, the mock holiness of Arminian perfectionists, and the cloak of religion which masks thousands of rotten hearts.

He becomes a solitary character. He sets little store by loud prayers or long prayers, whether they come from the blind mill-horse in the pulpit, or his humble imitator in the pew. He finds that a secret groan is better than a long prayer, a tear of contrition sweeter than an extempore form, and a few words with God in his closet more precious than many words at a prayer-meeting, even though deacons pray.

A line of Hart’s hymns relieves his soul, when a noisy choir chanting Dr. Watts loads it with a burden; and half a verse of Scripture melts his heart, when a letter preacher with a long sermon hardens it into ice. He never leaves the company of empty professors without a load, or the sweet company of God without a blessing. He feels Christ to be his best Counsellor. His love most worth seeking, His friendship most enduring, His presence most cheering, and His smiles most to be desired.

Men, even the very best of them, often only wound him; the company of God’s children is often burdensome; and their advice usually an ineffectual help. His heavenly Friend never deceived him, never violated his confidence, disclosed his secrets, wounded his feelings, carnalised his mind, saddened his spirit, led him into error, or treated him with neglect. But on the contrary, ‘pardons his sins, forgives his ingratitude, pities his infirmities, heals his backslidings, and loves him freely.

The Christian thus 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 rotten 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, Pharisaic 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.

He that has no searchings of soul whether he is in the way, no chilling doubts nor sinking fears ever saddening his spirit, no secret groan nor sigh to have his heart right before God, no solemn midnight cries, no anxious prospects nor gloomy retrospects, no trembling apprehensions how it will be with him at the last, no dread of self-deceit, nor suspicions of Satan’s delusions-he, I say, who glides securely on without these deep exercises, manifests by his very ease that he is not in the narrow path that leads to eternal life.

By one who is spiritually sincere every step will be more or less weighed, every experience sooner or later brought to the touchstone, and every part of the road anxiously tried. He will love to be searched through and through. He will uncover his bosom to every arrow that flies from the pulpit, to see if it be aimed at him. He will love a searching ministry, and in his right mind cannot be probed too deeply. He will hate the daubers with untempered mortar, and those who sew pillows to all armholes. He will love heart and conscience work, and cleave most to him who most “commends himself to every man’s conscience in the sight of God”. He desires to have his path traced out, his stumbling-blocks removed, his temptations entered into, and the dealings of God with his spirit described.

He cannot speak evil of that secret power which has accompanied the word to his heart, laid bare its inmost secrets, traced out its most hidden workings, discovered its deepest thoughts, and manifested to his astonishment what he believed none could know but God and himself. Hungry men do not throw bread into the kennel; sick men do not shut the door in the doctor’s face; and prisoners do not strike the arm that sets them free. And thus you who are walking in this mysterious path will love the interpreters of your experience, the guides of your path, the breasts that give you suck, and the hand that ministers to you the bread of life.

The question is, Have we set one step in the way? “Watchman, what of the night?” Is it even, midnight, cock-crowing or morning? Mr 13:35. Is it spring, summer, winter or harvest? 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 should be 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. Have I described any part of your experience, found the least echo in your bosom, unravelled one divine secret of your heart, or touched one heavenly string in your soul? 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.

But I solemnly assure everyone who has ears to hear, that this path is the only way of salvation; and that every one who at the great day shall be found not to have walked in it will fall into the hands of Him who is a consuming fire; and will sink into hell, to lie for ever beneath His avenging frown.

[Edited by Michael Jeshurun from J.C. Philpot’s classic sermon ‘Winter afore Harvest’]

THE STRUGGLE FOR ASSURANCE OF SALVATION

THE STRUGGLE FOR ASSURANCE OF SALVATION

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 SPIRITUAL CHASE

THE SPIRITUAL CHASE

J.C. Philpot

“My soul followeth hard after Thee —Thy right hand upholdeth me.” [Psalm 63:8]

The first thing that the soul “followeth hard after” God to obtain is, RIGHTEOUSNESS.

The first teaching of the Spirit in the conscience is to convince us of our own unrighteousness—that we are sinners in the sight of a holy God; and to make us feel that unless we have a righteousness in which we can stand accepted before a pure and a holy God, we can never see Christ in glory. Now when a man begins to feel his lack of righteousness, when his sins and iniquities are opened up to him, and laid as a burden upon his conscience; when he knows that he has to do with a God who cannot be mocked, and whose justice cannot “clear the guilty,” he feels that he must have a righteousness which at present he has not, or perish in his sins.

And most people, in order to obtain this righteousness, seek it by “the works of the law.” Like the Jews of old, “being ignorant of God’s righteousness, they go about to establish their OWN righteousness, not submitting themselves to the righteousness of God.” The Lord having certain purposes to answer, allows them to set off in this ‘vain pursuit’. And what success have they? What does this vain pursuit do for them? For every step which they think they have taken forward, they find that they have slipped two backward; so that instead of obtaining this righteousness, they have only found a deeper discovery of their own heart, and are more and more convinced that in themselves, that is, in their “flesh, dwells no good thing,” and that all their “righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”

Now when a man is brought experimentally, in the feelings of his soul, to groan under the weight and burden of sin laid upon his conscience, the Lord the Spirit, sooner or later, enlightens his eyes to see, and brings into his soul a feeling apprehension of CHRIST’S glorious righteousness. The reason why so many stumble at the imputed righteousness of Christ is because they have never seen their sins in the light of God’s holy law, have never felt condemned before Him, have never had the deep corruptions of their heart turned up from the bottom, so as to loathe themselves in dust and ashes. Men therefore mock and scorn at imputed righteousness, because they are so deeply enamored with their own.

But when a man is brought to stand on the brink of eternal ruin, with but one step between him and death; when he is brought to see and feel that he is nothing, and has nothing in himself but sin and guilt, then when the Lord begins to set before his eyes, and bring into his heart a feeling apprehension of Christ’s glorious righteousness; when He shows him the dignity of Christ’s Person, and that His righteousness is that of the God-man, he is anxious to stretch forth the hand of faith, and “lay hold of eternal life.” Thus the soul “followeth hard after God,” that it may obtain this righteousness, and stand accepted and complete in the Beloved.

2. Again; in following “hard after the Lord,” the quickened soul followeth hard after PARDON. None of God’s people can live or die happily without the manifested pardon of their sins; and they cannot be satisfied without receiving it from God’s own lips. It is not merely having some loose, floating ideas about it; it is not taking it up as a doctrine, or learning it from the experience of others; but every child of God must sooner or later feel the pardon of sin manifested in his conscience. And when he feels guilty and condemned, then he “follows hard after” pardon—the manifested forgiveness of his sins, through the blood of sprinkling applied to his conscience. But if a man never knew what it was to follow hard after God, nor the many difficulties he has to press through before he can obtain it, he has never had pardon yet manifested to his soul.

3. GRACE is another thing which the soul “followeth hard after” God to obtain. Grace only suits those who are altogether guilty and filthy. Grace is completely opposed to works in all its shapes and bearings. Thus no one can really desire to taste the sweetness and enjoy the preciousness of manifested grace, who has not “seen an end of all perfection” in the creature, and that “God’s law is exceeding broad;” and is brought to know and feel in the conscience that his ‘good works’ would damn him equally with his ‘bad works’. When grace is thus opened up to the soul, when it sees that grace flows only through the Savior’s blood; that grace superabounds over all the aboundings of sin; that grace heals all backslidings, covers all transgressions, lifts up out of darkness, pardons iniquity, and is just the very remedy for all the maladies which we groan under; when grace, in the sweetness and blessedness of it, is thus spiritually opened up, there is a following hard after it in order to lay hold of and enjoy the happy and peaceful effects of it in soul experience.

But let us look at the expression “YOU.” “My soul followeth hard after Thee.” Not only does the quickened soul follow hard after the blessings which God has to give, but THE GREAT AND ARDENT OBJECT OF ITS PURSUIT IS GOD HIMSELF—the Giver. The Lord has made Himself in some measure manifestly known; He has discovered to the soul the dignity of His Person, with the beauty and loveliness of His countenance; and thus He has secretly drawn up the affections unto Himself, and the soul desires to know Him—and Him only. In following, then, hard after the Lord, it is that it may obtain possession of Him—that it may, as the apostle says, “win Him,” that is, clasp Him in the arms of faith, and embrace Him with spiritual affection, so as to be mutually loved and embraced by Him.

Now there is something in the expression “HARD,” which demands a little attention. It does not say merely, “my soul followeth after Thee,” but “hard after Thee,” which implies the INTENSITY OF THE PURSUIT. It is not merely a simple following, but a following with eagerness and ardor. And the expression also shows that THE OBJECT SOUGHT AFTER IS VERY DIFFICULT TO BE OVERTAKEN. It is not a slothful pursuit that will attain the object desired; it is not a mere wishing after something that will bring down the desired blessing; but the pursuit in which the soul is engaged is a most intense and eager one. There is also implied in the expression that THE OBJECT RETIRES, so to speak, as we pursue it; that it is not only overtaken with great difficulty, but that the Lord, the object of the soul’s pursuit, so withdraws Himself as we advance towards Him, that it requires all the intensity, and I was going to say, agony of the soul to pursue, and if possible to overtake and gain in Him all that it longs to enjoy.

But HOW does the soul thus “follow hard” after the Lord? Chiefly in longings, breathings, earnest cries, and intense pantings after Him. The Psalmist has expressed this in one short sentence, and a most emphatic and beautiful one it is—”As the deer pants after the water-brooks—so pants my soul after Thee, O God.” He there represents the hunted stag panting and thirsting after one refreshing draught from the water-brooks; panting as David himself once panted for the water of the well of Bethlehem, when he uttered that poignant desire, “O that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem!” Thus it is by the panting and longing of the soul after God in intense desire and vehement longings of the soul to enjoy His presence, that this “following hard” after the Lord is chiefly manifested.

And God’s people know this experimentally. How many times do they stretch themselves on their beds, and pant after the Lord as though the last breath were going out of their body! How often, as they are engaged in the daily pursuits of life, is there a cry going up out of their heart after the Lord, pleading with Him, and telling Him that they cannot be satisfied without His manifested presence! How often, perhaps, when for some time you have felt cold and dead, a sudden spirit of grace and supplication has come into your hearts, that has vented and breathed itself forth in cries to the Lord! And thus your soul has gone forth with the most intense desire to enjoy the sweet manifestations of His Person and testimonies of His covenant love.

“My soul followeth hard after Thee.” THE LORD (we would speak with reverence) DOES NOT ALLOW HIMSELF AT FIRST TO BE OVERTAKEN. The more the soul follows after Him the more He seems to withdraw Himself, and thus He draws it more earnestly on the pursuit. He means to be overtaken in the end—it is His own blessed work in the conscience to kindle earnest desires and longings after Himself; and therefore He puts strength into the soul, and “makes the feet like deer’s feet” to run and continue the chase.

But in order to whet the ardent desire, to kindle to greater intensity the rising eagerness, the Lord will not allow Himself to be overtaken until after a long and arduous pursuit. This is sweetly set forth in the Song of Solomon (5:2-8). We find there the Lord coming to His Bride; but she is unwilling to open to Him until “He puts His hand in by the hole of the door.” She would not rise at His first knocking, and therefore He is obliged to touch her heart. But “when she opened to her Beloved, He was gone!” and no sooner does He withdraw Himself, than she pursues after Him; but she cannot find Him—He hides Himself from her view, draws her round and round the walls of the city, until at length she overtakes, and finds Him whom her soul loves.

This sweetly sets forth how the Lord draws on the longing soul after Himself. Could we immediately obtain the object of our pursuit, we would not half so much enjoy it when attained. Could we with a wish bring the Lord down into the soul, it would be but the lazy wish of the sluggard, who “desires, and has not.” But when the Lord can only be obtained by an arduous pursuit, every faculty of the soul is engaged in panting after His manifested presence; and this was the experience of the Psalmist, when he cried, “My soul followeth hard after Thee.”

‘DOCTRINE IN THE HEAD’ AND A ‘WORK OF GRACE IN THE HEART’ – THE VITAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN APOSTATE AND A CHILD OF GOD

‘DOCTRINE IN THE HEAD’ AND A ‘WORK OF GRACE IN THE HEART’ – THE VITAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN APOSTATE AND A CHILD OF GOD

In 1821 a young clergyman’s son matriculated at Worcester College, Oxford. Amongst the cleverest of his generation, he knew nothing of the wisdom which can only be imparted by the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul. Just previously, another young man, of similar academic capabilities, had graduated with an unexpectedly low third-class degree. Yet, in contrast to the first, this man professed to have known something of the work of grace in his soul, having been ‘converted’ when he was 15 years old.

In time, both men, having been baptised and ordained as ministers in the Church of England, were forced by conscience to secede from it. Both cast in their lot with, at that time, minority churches. On the Lord’s Day both rose early, preaching and ministering to the poor of this world. Today, both are still esteemed; their works are still printed and read. Yet what a gulf between them! Today, the one is about to be beatified because of a supposed miracle he has performed; the other, whilst not regarded as a saint by the Lord’s people on this earth, is amongst the glorified spirits above, not because of any good in him, nor anything he wrote or said, but because of what the Lord accomplished in his soul, by free and sovereign grace alone!

Of these two men, the first was Joseph Charles Philpot, minister amongst the Gospel Standard Baptists; the second was John Henry Newman, a cardinal in the Church of Rome. What was the vital difference between these two men?

By 1821 Newman had confessed to a work of grace in his soul, but the Lord did not begin to move in Philpot’s soul until 1827, by which time Newman was clearly showing his apostasy. What separated these men at conversion? Why did the one become an apostate, while the other was ‘kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time’ (1 Pet. 1:5)?

It comes down to this: the reality of the work of grace in the soul. Newman describes his ‘conversion’ as a young 15 year old whilst reading a book by William Romaine, as being brought to rest ‘in the thought of two and two only absolute and luminously self-evident beings, myself and my creator’ (Newman (1909) Apologia, p. 5). Newman makes no mention of his sin or repenting of it, neither does he express any hope of salvation in the finished work of Jesus Christ; rather he seems to describe coming to an intellectual belief in the existence of God. In contrast, at a later date, Philpot was brought to feel his state as a sinner, his own inability to save himself in any way and his own hope of salvation as being in Jesus Christ alone. Of his conversion, Philpot says:

It was in 1827, now twenty-two years ago, that eternal things were first laid upon my mind, that I was made to know myself as a poor, lost sinner, and a spirit of grace and supplication poured out upon my soul. I may have had doubts and fears since as to the reality of the work of grace upon my soul; but I have never doubted, and shall never doubt, that if I possess grace in my heart, it was then first implanted. (The Gospel Pulpit, 218 p. 4).

In time Newman’s conversion experience was to prove itself nothing but imagination. We are not the best judges of the Lord’s work in our own souls, let alone in other people’s, but there are two principles which must, in measure, form the basis of every Holy Spirit-wrought work of grace in the soul. These are a knowledge of, and repentance over, personal sin, and, secondly, a knowledge of the Lord Jesus as our only hope of salvation. The latter may be only a ‘hope’, not necessarily a full assurance; but there must be a realisation that as sinners we cannot save ourselves. Newman’s conversion lacked both of these vital aspects. Consequently, his days were spent ‘ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (2 Tim. 3:7). In contrast, the work of grace in Philpot’s soul was to deepen with time, and he was to become an able minister of the Gospel.

In time the differences stemming from this vital difference between these two men became vividly apparent. The one held to biblical, ‘Reformed’ truths, the other to the apostate teachings of the Church of Rome.

First, while both considered the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, they differed on its sufficiency. For Philpot the Bible was the complete revelation of God. All questions of doctrine, experience and practice can only be settled by bringing them to the testimony of Holy Scripture alone – man’s opinion and historical reasoning has no place in such matters. Philpot’s teaching is best summed up in the Articles of Faith he wrote for his church at Stamford:

We believe in the Authenticity and Divine Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, and receive them as a gracious Revelation of the mind and will of God; and we believe that therein are revealed all the Doctrines and Truths which we here state. (Article 1).

On the contrary, Newman taught that although the Bible was complete in itself, doctrinal revelation is still occurring. Therefore the Bible is insufficient for the Church to draw all teaching from; instead, he placed church tradition and the creeds of the church above the authority of scripture. He taught that the Bible was to be interpreted in the light of the creeds rather than that the creeds should be interpreted in the light of Scripture. It is by such teaching that the Church of Rome explains her innovations which are extra-Biblical, e.g. the Immaculate Conception and the intercession of Mary. It was this teaching of Newman’s which resulted in his dismissal, on March 8, 1830, from the post of secretary to the Church Missionary Society – the vacant post was filled by none less than J.C. Philpot! (Stunt (1970) Journal of Ecclesiastical History. 30, pp. 65-74).

Secondly, the doctrines of grace. While Newman initially held the doctrines of grace, he quickly gave them up. Why did these truths sit so lightly with Newman that he was able to quickly discard them? The reason is he never experienced them; they were never made living realities to him. Philpot, on the other hand, was taught well his heart’s plague and as a consequence came to know and feel that salvation must be entirely of God’s free and sovereign grace. Thus Philpot wrote:

I admire and love the grace of God; and the longer I live, the more do I love and admire it. My sins, my corruptions, my infirmities make me feel my deep and daily need of it; and as its freeness, fullness, suitability and inexpressible blessedness are more and more opened up to my heart and conscience, so do I more and more cleave to and delight in it. What, in fact, is there which you can substitute for it? (Philpot (1987) Sin and Salvation p. 19).

Thirdly, the view of soul-saving faith. Newman held that faith is a product of probability or that probability is antecedent to faith. Simplified, Newman taught that man makes a rational judgement as to the fact of something on the basis of probability, but the outcome of this judgement is not faith, but faith is the act of the will in the final step of assent to the truth. Such that, ‘Faith, in other words, is “not a conclusion from premises [probabilities], but the result of an act of the will, following upon a conviction that to believe is a duty”‘ (Kerr and Merrigan (2009), p. 81).

In contrast, rather than having its origin with us, Philpot clearly held that faith is a gift of God implanted in the heart by the operation of the Holy Spirit. Of the origin of saving faith, Philpot says:

It is ‘not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead’ (Gal. 1:1). Are we not expressly told that those who received Christ (and how could they receive him but by faith?) ‘were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God’ (John 1:13)? . . . Thus testifies also James – ‘Every good gift and every perfect gift’ (and is not faith both a good and perfect gift?) is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning’ (James 1:17). If faith, then, be of this divine origin we shall seek for it in vain among the children of this world. (The Gospel Pulpit, sermon 62)

What a contrast between the intellectual faith of Newman and the living faith of Philpot!

Fourthly, the doctrine of justification. In 1838, Newman published a book on justification which attacked the Reformation’s central teaching of justification by faith alone. However, at this stage Newman did not hold fully the Roman Catholic teaching of justification by baptism, instead teaching a middle road: that we are justified by both baptism and faith. Or as a recent writer has summarised his teaching for us: ‘That the work of salvation is begun in baptism, sustained by faith, hope and love, good works and sacraments, and transforms the believer in holiness and righteousness in the image of Christ from glory into glory’ (Cambridge Companion to John Henry Newman, p. 8). For Philpot there was no middle way! Justification is by Christ alone, through faith alone, precluding any work on the part of man.

Fifthly, the view of the church and its ordinances. On 22nd March 1835, Philpot hung his gown up for the final time in the vestry at Stadhampton and seceded from the ministry of the Church of England. Of the Church of England, Philpot said:

I secede from the Church of England because I can find in her scarcely one mark of a true church. She tramples upon one ordinance of Christ by sprinkling infants, and calling it regeneration . . . I am told . . . that she derives her sacraments and ministers in a direct, uninterrupted line from the apostles, and that to secede from her is to be guilty of schism. But where are the outward marks of this only true church? Where are the ‘signs’ of these successors of the apostles, the seals of their commission, whereby they ‘approve’ themselves ‘as the ministers of God . . .?’ (2 Cor. 6:4). (Philpot (1835), Letter to the Provost of Worcester College)

In contrast, Newman, in his first sermon, preached in June 1824, stated that only those that had been baptised were Christians, and all who had been baptised (that is, sprinkled as infants) were Christians. This argument he based on the falsehood of baptismal regeneration (the notion that the soul is regenerated or made spiritually alive by the administration of baptism, which of course in the Church of England is by infant sprinkling) (Early History, p. 17). Newman held the doctrine of Apostolic Succession (that is, that the chosen successors of the twelve apostles, from the days of the apostles to the present day, have the same authority, power, and responsibility as was conferred upon the apostles by Jesus, and that this is conferred on a priest by holy ordination). Similarly, Newman accepted the sacramental teaching of Rome, embracing the doctrine of the ‘Real Presence’ (transubstantiation – that the bread and wine become the real body and blood of the Lord Jesus when the priest blesses them during the mass).

For Philpot, secession was forced upon him because the Church of England continued to maintain vestiges of these Romish doctrines, while for Newman, secession was the only way to fully embrace the teachings of Rome.

In conclusion, the Lord’s people have held Philpot in high esteem, not for his sake, but for the Truth’s sake. Blessing still attends his sermons and writings today. But what of Newman today? Newman’s teaching remains central to the Church of Rome; indeed he was possibly the greatest ideological influence on the Second Vatican Council. Furthermore, during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the UK this year, the Vatican plans to beatify (declare blessed) Newman; the first step to sainthood. Lest any feels Newman can be forgotten, or that we need not concern ourselves with him, I leave you with these chilling words, in the biography of Newman published by the Catholic Truth Society:

Darwin, Marx and Freud were three men of the nineteenth century whose ideas shaped the course of events all through the twentieth, and all in the direction of atheism – disbelief in any creating Spirit beyond the world of sense. Newman’s influence may seem weak in comparison with theirs, but it is like the yeast in Christ’s similitude, slowly leavening the lump of human dough and still active a hundred years after his death. (Trevor and Caldecott (2001), p. 5)

It was only the work of grace in Philpot’s soul that brought about a difference between him and Newman, but what a vital difference! It is only a work of grace in the soul of the reader which will cause any difference between Newman’s position and theirs. How do we stand? Our walk and confession can only be judged in the light of Scripture:

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. (1 John 2:18-19)

Does grace separate us to be one with the Lord’s people, or will a matter of time show us to be only one who followed the Lord because of the mere outward evidences?

Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. (John 6:26-27)

[From an Article in the Banner by M.J. Hyde]

THE ELECT OF GOD – THE PLANTING OF THE LORD

THE ELECT OF GOD – THE PLANTING OF THE LORD

J.C. Philpot

“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him–rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” [Colossians 2:6, 7]

It is a goodly sight to see a noble tree; and we may gather from the strength of the tree the strength of the soil, for only in deep and good soil will such trees grow. But look at the trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified! What depth and richness there is in the heavenly soil in which they are planted! View the true, real, and eternal Sonship, the glorious Deity of Jesus, and view that Deity in union with His suffering humanity!

What soil is there! What breadth to hold thousands and thousands of noble trees! What depth for them to root in! What fertility to clothe them with verdure and load them with fruit! The most fertile natural soils may be exhausted, but this is inexhaustible. For can Deity be exhausted? Is it not its very nature to be infinite? And when we view what our most blessed Lord now is at the right hand of God, what a perfect and complete Savior He is for the soul to lay hold of!

Again, as the more deeply and widely that a tree spreads its roots into the soil, the more nourishment does it suck up; so it is with a believing heart. The more Christ is laid hold of by faith, the more the soul roots down into Him; and the firmer hold it takes of Him, and the more deeply it roots into Him, the stronger it stands, and the more heavenly nourishment it draws out of His fullness.

This is being “rooted in Christ.” A religion must always be a shallow, deceptive, and ruinous religion if it has not Christ to root in, for then it must be rooted in self. But if it is planted and rooted in Christ, then there is a sufficiency, a suitability, a glorious fullness in Him in which the soul may take the deepest root, and not only for time but for eternity; for such a faith can never be confounded, such a love never perish, and such a hope be never put to shame.

Praise the Lord!

O WHEN WILT THOU COME UNTO ME

O WHEN WILT THOU COME UNTO ME

J.C. Philpot

“O, when wilt Thou come unto me?” (Psa. 101:2), is often your cry. But He will surely come, “for yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry,” (Heb. 10:37). Wherever there is a beginning of a work of grace upon the soul, there will be a carrying on; and where there is a carrying on, there will be a completion.

The Lord will never suffer His children to rest short of Himself. This is what they are sighing for—what they inwardly desire; and unless they are enabled to realize this, they can neither happily live nor comfortably die.