Secret of the Lord


J.C. Philpot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full sermon . . . .


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