SOVEREIGN GRACE – THE JOYFUL SOUND

SOVEREIGN GRACE – THE JOYFUL SOUND

J.C. Philpot

“That I may rejoice in the gladness of Thy nation!” [Psalm 106:5]

WHAT is the gladness of God’s people?

To be saved without money and without price; to be saved by grace – free, rich, sovereign, distinguishing grace, without one atom of works, without one grain of creature merit, without anything of the flesh. This is the gladness of God’s nation; to rejoice in free grace, grace super-abounding over the aboundings of sin, grace reigning triumphant over the dreadful evils of our heart. It is grace that gladdens a man’s heart.

Oh! sweet grace, blessed grace! when it meets our case and reaches our souls. Oh! what a help, what a strength, what a rest for a poor toiling, striving, laboring soul, to find that grace has done all the work, to feel that grace has triumphed in the cross of Christ, to find that nothing is required, nothing is needed, nothing is to be done. It is a full and perfect, complete and finished work. Oh! sweet sound, when it reaches the heart and touches the conscience, and is shed blessedly abroad in the soul.

THIS is the gladness of God’s nation; THIS makes their heart glad, that the work is finished, that the warfare is accomplished, that the Church of God has received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins; this is the comforting sound with which God comforts His people; this makes the nation glad, and their heart to leap and dance for joy.

Has YOUR heart never leaped at the sound? – only for a moment? Has grace never sounded sweetly in your soul, and made your very heart dance within you? If it has, you know what is the gladness of God’s nation. Amen!

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THE CHRISTIAN FARING WELL [2 Corinthians 13:11]

THE CHRISTIAN FARING WELL  [2 Corinthians 13:11]

J.C. Philpot

To fare well, spiritually understood, is to have everything that God can make us happy in. All God’s people will eventually fare well. They all stand complete in Christ: nothing can touch their eternal safety; for they are all complete in him, “without spot, or blemish, or any such thing.” In this point of view, they must all in the end and forever fare well.

But when we come to the matter of experience, we often find that those very times when God’s people think they are faring ill, are the seasons when they are really faring well; and again, at other times, when they think they are faring well, then they are really faring ill. For instance, when their souls are bowed down with trouble, it often seems to them that they are faring ill. God’s hand appears to be gone out against them: he has hidden his face from them; they can find no access to a throne of grace; they have no sweet testimonies from the Lord that the path in which he is leading them is one of his choosing, and that all things will end well with them. This they think is indeed faring ill, and yet perhaps they never fare better than when under these circumstances of trouble, sorrow, and affliction. These things wean them from the world.

If their heart and affections were going out after idols, they instrumentally bring them back. If they were hewing out broken cisterns, they dash them all to pieces. If they were setting up, and bowing down to idols in the chambers of imagery, affliction and trouble smite them to pieces before their eyes, take away their gods, and leave them no refuge but the Lord God of hosts. If you can only look back, you will see that your greatest sweets have often sprung out of your greatest bitters, and the greatest blessings have flowed from the greatest miseries, and what at the time you thought your greatest sorrows: you will find that the brightest light has sprung up in the blackest darkness, and that the Lord never made himself so precious as at the time when you were sunk lowest, so as to be without human help, wisdom, or strength.

So that when a child of God thinks he is faring very ill, because burdened with sorrows, temptations, and afflictions, he is never faring so well. The darkest clouds in due time will break, the most puzzling enigmas will sooner or later be unriddled by the blessed Spirit interpreting them, and the darkest providences cleared up; and we shall see that God is in them all, leading and guiding us “by the right way, that we may go to a city of habitation” (Psalm 107:7).

THE CHILD OF GOD AMONGST RELIGIOUS GOATS

THE CHILD OF GOD AMONGST RELIGIOUS GOATS

J.C. PHILPOT

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? Gen 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.

OUR EYES ARE UPON THEE

OUR EYES ARE UPON THEE

J.C. Philpot

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

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

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

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

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

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 SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH

secret-place-of-the-most-high

THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH

J.C. Philpot

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” –Psalm 91:1

WHAT is “the secret place of the most High?” It is the same spot, of which Asaph speaks in the seventy-third Psalm–“Until I went into the sanctuary of God, then understood I their end.” It is the spot, of which the Lord speaks in Ezekiel–“I will be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.” Then this “secret place” is the secret bosom of God. It is an entrance by faith into Jehovah, by a spiritual manifestation of him, leading us into a spiritual acquaintance with him.

“The secret place of the most High” is that solemn spot, where Jehovah meets with the sinner in Christ, and where he opens up to him the riches of his mercy, and leads him into his bosom, so as to read the secrets of his loving heart.

It is called a “secret” place, as only known to the those to whom it is especially communicated. It is called a “secret” place, because none can get into it–no, nor desire to get into it–except the Lord himself, with his own mysterious hand, opens up to them a part in it, sets them down in it, and sweetly blesses them in it.

Then to be in “the secret place of the most High” is to be brought into something like fellowship and acquaintance with God–something like communion, spiritual worship, divine communion; so as to know something of him experimentally, and “run into” him, as “a strong tower,” and there feel solemn safety!

GOD DRAWS HIS ELECT WITH CORDS OF LOVE AND AFFECTION

cords-of-man

GOD DRAWS HIS ELECT WITH CORDS OF LOVE AND AFFECTION

J.C. Philpot

“I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love.” Hosea 11:4

When God draws His people near unto Himself, it is not done in a mechanical way. They are drawn, not with cords of iron, but with the cords of a man; the idea being of something feeling, human, tender, touching; not as if God laid an iron arm upon His people to drag them to His breast, whether they wished to come or not. This would not be grace nor the work of the Spirit upon the heart.

God does not so act in a way of mechanical force. We therefore read, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power” (Psalm 110:3). He touches their heart with His gracious finger, like the band of men whom He thus inclined to follow Saul (1 Sam. 10:26); He communicates to their soul both faith and feeling; He melts, softens, and humbles their heart by a sense of His goodness and mercy; for it is His goodness, as experimentally felt and realised, which leads to repentance.

If you have ever felt any secret and sacred drawing of your soul upward to heaven, it was not compulsion, not violence, not a mechanical constraint, but an arm of pity and compassion let down into your very heart, which, touching your inmost spirit, drew it up into the bosom of God. It was some such gracious touch as that spoken of in the Song of Solomon, “My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.” It was some view of His goodness, mercy, and love in the face of a Mediator, with some dropping into your spirit of His pity and compassion towards you, which softened, broke, and melted your heart.

You were not driven onward by being flogged and scourged, but blessedly drawn with the cords of a man, which seemed to touch every tender feeling and enter into the very depths of your spirit. And why is this? Because it is as man that our blessed Lord is the Mediator; it is the man Christ Jesus, the man who groaned and sighed in the garden, the man that hung upon the cross, the man who lay in the sepulchre, who is now the man at the right hand of the Father, and yet God-man; for it is through His humanity that we draw near unto God.

As His blood, which was the blood of humanity; and as His sufferings, which were the sufferings of humanity; and as His sacrifice, which was the sacrifice of the humanity; and as His death, which was the death of the humanity; as these are opened up with divine power, they form, so to speak, a medium whereby we may draw near unto God, without terror, without alarm, because God in Christ manifests Himself as altogether love.

THREE KINDS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

kings-daughter

THREE KINDS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

J.C. Philpot

“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall never enter into the kingdom of heaven.” [Matthew 5:20]

There are three kinds of righteousness, or at least three kinds of righteousness which bear that name. There is inherent righteousness, of which we have none. There is imputed righteousness, which is all our justification. And there is imparted righteousness, when God the Spirit makes us new creatures, and raises up in the heart that “new man, which after God” (that is, “after the image of God”) “is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

When the Lord, therefore, said, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall never enter into the kingdom of heaven,” he did not mean only an external righteousness wrought out by his obedience to the law for them, but an internal righteousness wrought out by the Holy Spirit in them. Thus we read of the inward as well as the outward apparel of the Church, “The King’s daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold.”

Two kinds of righteousness belong to the Queen; her imputed righteousness is her outward robe, “the clothing of wrought gold;” but imparted righteousness is her inward adorning, which makes her “all-glorious within.” This inward glory is the new man in the heart, with all his gifts and graces, what Peter calls “the divine nature,” “Christ in the heart, the hope of glory.” [Hallelujah!]

P.S. “This must be so if the Church is conformed to her Head, for He was “without spot” externally, and “without blemish” internally.” – A.W. Pink

RUNNING THE RACE WITH PATIENCE

running-the-race-with-patience

RUNNING THE RACE WITH PATIENCE

J.C. Philpot

“Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

None can run this race but the saints of God, for the ground itself is holy ground, of which we read that “no unclean beast is to be found therein.” None but the redeemed walk there; and none have ever won the prize but those who have run this heavenly race as redeemed by precious blood.

Now no sooner do we see by faith the race set before us than we begin to run; and, like Christian in the “Pilgrim’s Progress,” we run from the City of Destruction, our steps being winged with fear and apprehension. All this, especially in the outset, implies energy, movement, activity, pressing forward; running, as it were, for our life; escaping, as Lot, to the mountain; fleeing, as the prophet speaks, “like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah” (Zech. 14:5); or as the manslayer fled to the city of refuge from the avenger of blood.

As, then, the runner stretches forward hands, and feet, and head, intent only on being first to reach the goal, so in the spiritual race there is a stretching forth of the faculties of the new-born soul to win the heavenly prize. There is a stretching forth of the spiritual understanding to become possessed of clear views of heavenly truth. There is a stretching forth of the desires of the heart to experience the love of God; to feel acceptance with him through the blood of sprinkling; to know the way of salvation for ourselves, and to have clear evidences that our feet are in it; to receive tokens for good, and manifestations of the pardoning love of God; to walk in his fear, live to his praise, and enjoy union and communion with the blessed Lord. And there is a stretching forth of the affections of the heart after Jesus and the truth as it is in Jesus, with many longings, breathings, earnest cries, and fervent wrestlings at the throne of grace, that we may know the truth and by the truth be sanctified and made free.

So that when you look at the word “race” as emblematic of a Christian’s path, you see that it is not any movement of the body, what the Apostle calls “bodily exercise,” that is intended, but an inward movement of the soul, or rather of the grace that God has lodged in your bosom, and to which are communicated spiritual faculties, whereby it moves forward in the ways of God, under the influences of the blessed Spirit.

SEEKING GOD’S SMILE OR APPROVAL IN ALL THINGS

Angry little girl isolated on white background

SEEKING GOD’S SMILE OR APPROVAL IN ALL THINGS

J.C. Philpot

“The LORD lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” [Number 6:26]

When we offend a person, his face is not toward us as at other times. It was so with Laban towards Jacob; and if we have in any way incurred a friend’s or superior’s displeasure, we watch instinctively his countenance. Is it down or up? Does it wear a frown or a smile? Is it looking upon us with the eye of affection, or are the eyes averted? We can tell in a moment if we know the countenance.

Thus is the blessing asked, “The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee,” as a kind and affectionate parent upon an obedient child, as a fond husband upon a loving, devoted wife; for such is God to his children—Father and Husband. And do we not, as children, often provoke Him to look upon us with frowning brow, or rather, not to look upon us at all, to “hide His face,” as we read, “that we cannot see Him?”

The prayer then is, “The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee,” with a smile upon it; free, open, forgiving, merciful, and mild, that thou mayest advance therein.

When a disobedient child comes home and sees its father’s face not towards it as before, it shrinks away; there is no pressing forward to get upon the knee, no throwing the little arms round the neck and snatching a kiss, but a shrinking away through guilt and shame.

So it is in the things of God. When conscience tells us how in this and that instance we have disobeyed, been inconsistent, transgressed, and done amiss, when we go into God’s presence there is a hanging back, a shrinking away, through fear of an ill reception. But oh, the change in the child when the frown disappears and the smile succeeds; when the little one is taken once more into the arms and the tears are kissed away!
How much more so in the things of God when He kisses away the tears of the disobedient child, as in the case of the returning prodigal! There are no kisses like those kisses of forgiveness, of mercy, and of restoring grace.

“And give thee peace.” Oh, what a blessing! As Hart says, “I’ll lay me down and sweetly sleep, For I have peace with God.”

It is THIS that makes the pillow easy in life, and will alone make that pillow easy in death – peace with God through Jesus Christ, peace through the reconciliation, peace through the blood of sprinkling, “the peace of God which passeth all understanding.” Many covet great things, high things. But what said the Lord to Baruch? “Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not!”

Ministers often seek great gifts, great eloquence, great knowledge of mysteries, great congregations, great popularity and influence. They are wrong in seeking these so-called great things. Let them rather seek real things, gracious things, things that will make their souls blessed here and hereafter.

The blessing that the gracious soul most earnestly covets is peace; for this is the sweetest honey-drop in God’s cup. It is true that it does not make the heart overflow like joy, nor to dance with exultation like the first beaming in of the rays of hope, nor melt it down like the visits of love; but it is in some respects sweeter than all, because it so settles down the soul into sweet assurance; it is the realisation of the Saviour himself, for “He is our peace,” and may thus be called the crowning blessing.