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.

THE BELIEVER’S STRUGGLE FOR ASSURANCE OF SALVATION

THE BELIEVER’S 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.

HANDLING THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT

HANDLING THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT

J.C. Philpot

“The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God!” [Eph 6:17]

There is only one weapon whereby we can fight Satan to any purpose, and that is the Word of God. But observe, that it must not be merely the LETTER of the Word. It must be the “sword of THE SPIRIT,” and therefore a spiritual sword, which can only be taken in hand when the word of God is applied with a divine power to your heart, and you have a living faith in it as made “life and spirit” to your soul.

It is of no use my bringing forward a text to resist a temptation of Satan, unless I can make that text my own; in other words, unless I can handle that sword as one who knows how to wield it. To take up a text and not know the sweetness and power of it, would be like a child taking up a warrior’s sword without having the warrior’s hand. He might play with the sword, but what is the sword of a giant in the hand of a child?

The sword of Scanderbeg, a famous Albanian warrior against the Turks, used to be shown at Vienna. A man who once looked at and handled it said, “Is this the sword which won so many victories? I see nothing in it; it is but a common sword.” The answer was, “You should have seen the arm that wielded it.” So it is not merely taking a text, adopting scripture language, and quoting passages, which will beat back the fiery assaults of Satan. This is having Scanderbeg’s sword without having Scanderbeg’s arm. But it is having the Word of truth brought into our heart by the power of God, faith raised up to believe that God himself speaks it to our heart, being thus enabled to wield it in the strength of the Spirit and by the power of faith in living exercise, to resist every hellish thrust.

In this battle we must not give way. To flee is to be conquered, for, as Bunyan well says, there is no armor for the back. Thus even if in this conflict you should slip and fall, lie not still as a conquered captive, but get up again and fight. “Resist Satan, and he will flee from you.” He is a conquered enemy; he cannot destroy you if you are the Lord’s.

The Word of truth, therefore, is full of most gracious promises, and sweet encouragements “to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ,” and never in heart or hand submit to be conquered by sin or Satan. 

J.C. PHILPOT’S TAKE ON CHILDREN’S SALVATION

J.C. PHILPOT’S TAKE ON CHILDREN’S SALVATION

(from Philpot’s biography, written by his son)

There was nothing my father mistrusted more than ‘childhood piety.’ He insisted that children should never be taught or allowed to use the language of ‘personal possession’ in reference to God. To sing, for instance, “Rock of Ages, cleft for ME” or, “MY Jesus.” Herein he was most logical. For by early influence and example you can train up a child to be a little patriot—a little Catholic—a little Calvinist—or a little Bolshevist. 

BUT NO POWER ON EARTH CAN MAKE HIM A CHILD OF GOD. He took great care that we, his children, attended the means of grace, and never missed chapel or family prayers. But he never expected us to be anything but little heathen. We had, it is true, to be well behaved little heathen. If not, we got “the stick,” or its equivalent.

THE ‘LOOKING UNTO JESUS’ AND THE ‘RUNNING AFTER HIM’ ARE BOTH BY GOD’S ENABLING

THE ‘LOOKING UNTO JESUS’ AND THE ‘RUNNING AFTER HIM’ ARE BOTH BY GOD’S ENABLING

J.C. Philpot

“Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith.” [Hebrews 12:2]

No one can ever run the race set before him, except by looking unto Jesus. He is at the head of the race; He stands at the goal; holding the crown of victory in His hand, which He puts upon the head of the successful runner. And we can only run on as we view Jesus by the eye of faith at the right hand of the Father opening His blessed arms to receive us into His own bosom at the end of the race.

Nor indeed can anyone really look to Him BUT BY THE SPECIAL GIFT AND GRACE OF GOD. He must be REVEALED to the soul by the power of God; we must behold His glorious Godhead and His suffering manhood by the EYE OF FAITH; and we must view Him as the incarnate God; the only Mediator between God and man.

We must see the efficacy of His atoning blood to purge a guilty conscience; the blessedness of His obedience to justify a needy, naked soul; the sweetness of His dying love as an inward balm and cordial against all the thousand ills and sorrows of life. We must see His glory, as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth; His suitability to every want and woe; His infinite compassion to the vilest and worst of sinners; His patient forbearance and wondrous long-suffering of our sins and backslidings; His unchanging love, stronger than death itself; His readiness to hear; His willingness to bless; and His ability to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.

Thus the heavenly runner looks not to the course however long, nor to the ground however rough, nor to his own exertions however multiplied, nor to his own strength whether much or little; nor to applauding friends nor condemning foes; but wholly and solely to the incarnate Son of God.

Jesus draws him onward with His invincible grace. Every glance of His beauteous Person renews the flame of holy love; every sight of His blood and righteousness kindles desires to experience more of their efficacy and blessedness; and every touch of His sacred finger melts the heart into conformity to His suffering image.

This is the life of a Christian,—day by day, to be running a race for eternity; and as speeding onward to a heavenly goal, to manifest his sincerity and earnestness by continually breathing forth the yearnings of his soul after divine realities, and to be pressing forward more and more toward the Lord Jesus Christ, as giving him a heavenly crown when he has finished his course with joy.

THE CHILD OF GRACE DRAGGED BY THE FLESH

THE CHILD OF GRACE DRAGGED BY THE FLESH

J.C. Philpot

“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” — Romans 8:4

A person may be “IN THE FLESH,” as indeed we all are, and yet not “WALK AFTER IT.” To walk after it implies, a setting it up as a pattern, and walking in accordance with it. But a person may be dragged after another, as we see sometimes a child is dragged unwillingly along by its mother, who does not willingly walk with her. The child is not walking after its mother, nor hand in hand with her, nor side by side; but is compelled against its will to go a road which it hates, as to go to school when it gladly would go to play.

So in a sense it often is with the child of grace; he is often dragged on by the flesh. He does not go after it willingly; he does not sin willfully, but is entangled by the strength of the flesh, dragged on contrary to his best wishes, and sometimes in spite of his earnest cries, tears, groans, and desires. He does not walk after it as in Alpine countries tourists walk through the snow after a guide, setting his feet deliberately in every step which the flesh has made before him.

The saint of God, therefore, though he is in the flesh, does not walk after the flesh; for if he so walked he could not fulfill the law of love, and therefore the righteousness of the law could not be fulfilled in him. But, as enabled by grace, he does from time to time walk after the Spirit, for as the Spirit leads, he follows; as the Spirit prompts, he obeys; and as the Spirit works, he performs. When the Spirit reveals Jesus, he loves him with a pure heart fervently; when the Spirit applies a promise, he believes it; and when he makes known the truth of God to his soul, he feeds upon and delights in it.