” Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him,
nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.
My covenant will I not break,
nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.”
Psalm 89:33, 34
We live in a changeable, ever-changing world. All outside of us is stamped with variation, death, and decay; and as regards ourselves, everything within us tells us how frail, weak, and mutable we are. Thus, as viewed by the eye of sense and reason, uncertainty and changeability are ever seen to be deeply stamped, not only on every event of time, but on all we are and have in body and soul; and this experience of what we feel in ourselves and see in all around us often greatly tries both our faith and hope, for we are apt to measure God by ourselves, and judge of our state before him, not according to his word, but according to the varying thoughts and exercises of our mind.
But when we can look by faith through all these mists and fogs which, as resting on the lower grounds of our soul, so often obscure our view of divine realities, to the fixed purposes of God as manifested in an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure, and have at the same time some testimony of our interest therein, ground is thus afforded both for faith and hope as resting, not on our ever-changing feelings, but on the word and promise of him who cannot lie. It was thus David was comforted on his bed of languishing when the cold damps of death sat upon his brow (2 Samuel 23:5). It was then in this “everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure,” that even before the world was formed, or man created, or sin committed, a Savior was provided, a Redeemer set up, and the persons of the redeemed chosen in him and given to him. How can we think, then, that any changing and changeable events in time can alter and frustrate what was thus absolutely fixed by firm and sovereign decree, or that any mutable circumstances in ourselves or others can defeat and disannul the eternal purposes of God?
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of glory, may give unto you
the spirit of wisdom and revelation
in the knowledge of him.”
Revelation means literally an uncovering or unveiling of a concealed or covered-up object. It is used, therefore, sometimes in the sense of manifesting, making known, or bringing to light, what had before been hidden in darkness and obscurity. This revelation is, therefore, either outward in the word, or inward in the soul, and the two strictly correspond to and are counterparts of each other. Immediately when, by the power of divine grace, a poor Gentile sinner turns to the Lord, the Spirit of revelation removes the veil off the Scriptures, and off his heart. Have we not found it so? What a sealed book was the word of God once to us! How we read or heard it without one real ray of light to illuminate the dark page; and what a thick veil was there of ignorance, unbelief, prejudice, self-righteousness, and impenitence on our heart. But the gracious Spirit of revelation took this double veil away, and by giving us the light of life, made the word of God a new book, and gave us a new heart; and ever since the day when the entrance of his word gave us light, God’s word has been a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path.
But the Spirit of revelation is chiefly given to lead us into a spiritual, experimental, and saving knowledge of Christ. Without this blessed Spirit of revelation Christ cannot be effectually or savingly known. When, therefore, Peter made that noble confession of his faith in Christ as “the Son of the living God,” our Lord said to him – “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah; for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, but my Father who is in heaven.”
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“Our fathers trusted in thee:
they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
They cried unto thee, and were delivered:
they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.”
O what a blessed thing it is to have in one’s own bosom a secret trust in Jesus – that while so many are looking to something in themselves or in one another, resting their eternal salvation on works that really are but the sports of a child, the saint of God is reposing upon the Lord of life and glory! On him he hangs his hope, and in him he puts his trust. These the Lord will honour; nor will he ever disappoint their hope or put their confidence to shame. Whoever trusted in the Lord and was confounded? If you are enabled to trust in him, to believe his faithful word, to discard all creature confidence and to hang the weight of your soul – and O what a weight is that! – upon a faithful, covenant-keeping God, he will never leave, fail, or forsake you.
You may find it hard to trust in him at all times or indeed at any time. You may feel a desire of something sensible – something to see or hear, distinct from faith. Look not for this. We walk by faith, not by sight. It must be a naked trust in an invisible God. “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses – but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” And if you are enabled so to trust, he will make it manifest sooner or later in your own conscience that you are one of the righteous; light will beam upon your path; glory will dawn upon your heart, and you will have the end of your faith, even the salvation of your soul.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd,
and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts:
smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered:
and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.”
Would we see, feel, and realize the exceeding sinfulness of sin, it is not by viewing the lightnings and hearing the thunders of Sinai’s fiery top, but in seeing the agony and bloody sweat, and hearing the groans and cries of the suffering Son of God, as made sin for us, in the garden and upon the cross. To look upon him whom we have pierced will fill heart and eyes with godly sorrow for sin, and a holy mourning for and over a martyred, injured Lord. To see, by the eye of faith, as revealed to the soul by the power of God, the darling Son of God bound, scourged, buffeted, spit upon, mocked, and then, as the climax of cruel scorn and infernal cruelty, crucified between two thieves–this believing sight of the sufferings of Christ, will melt the hardest heart into contrition and compunction.
But when we see, by the eye of faith, that this was the smallest part of his sufferings, that there were depths of soul trouble and of intolerable distress and agony from the hand of God as a consuming fire, as of inflexible justice and righteous indignation against sin wherever and in whomever found, and that our blessed Lord had to endure the wrath of God until he was poured out like water, and his soft, tender heart in the flames of indignation became like wax, melted within him (Psalm 22:14)–then we can in some measure conceive what he undertook in becoming a sin offering.
For as all the sins of his people were put upon him, the wrath of God due to them fell upon him. Separation from God, under a sense of his terrible displeasure, and that on account of sin, that abominable thing which his holy soul hates–is not this hell? This, then, was the hell experienced by the suffering Redeemer when the Lord laid on him the iniquities of us all (Isaiah 53:6).
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“For if, when we were enemies,
we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,
much more, being reconciled,
we shall be saved by his life.”
What a fearful spot it is to be in – to feel and fear oneself an enemy to God! I think it is one of the most painful feelings that ever passed through my breast, to fear I was an enemy to God. For what must be the consequence, if a man lives and dies having God for his enemy? In that warfare he must perish. If God be his enemy, who can be his friend? Such sensations in the bosom are well-near akin to despair. Let a man fully feel that he is God’s enemy, where can he hide his head? Hell itself seems to afford him no refuge. But he must be exercised with something of this before he can prize reconciliation. He must see himself to be an enemy of God by birth–that he was born in what our Reformers called “birth sin;” and that his carnal mind is enmity against God. O the painful sensations of the carnal mind being enmity against God! It is bad enough to be God’s enemy; but that every fiber of our nature should be steeped in enmity against God, that holy and blessed Being to whom we owe so much, and to whom we desire to owe everything; that our carnal heart in all its constitution, in its very blood, should be one unmitigated mass of enmity to God, O it is a dreadful thought! If you are made to experience that enmity in your bosom, and to feel more or less of its upheavings and risings–that will cut to pieces all the sinews of creature righteousness; that will mar all your loveliness, and turn it into corruption.
Now, when a man is thus exercised, it will make him look out, if he has any root of spiritual feeling, for a remedy. God has provided such in the sacrifice of his dear Son, in the blood of the Lamb; in the sufferings, obedience, death, and resurrection of the blessed Jesus. Now when this is opened up in our soul by the Spirit of God; when faith is given to receive it; when the Holy Spirit applies it; when it is received into the heart (for the Apostle says, “We have received the atonement”), then a felt reconciliation takes place; we are then reconciled to God; love takes the place of enmity, praise of sighing, and blessing his name instead of writing bitter things against ourselves.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“The poor have the gospel preached to them.”
What is the gospel? Is not the gospel a proclamation of pure mercy, of super-abounding grace? Does it not declare the loving-kindness of God in sending his only-begotten Son to bleed and die, and, by his obedience, blood, and merit, to bring in a salvation without money and without price? Is not this the gospel? Not clogged by conditions, nor crippled by anything that the creature has to perform; but flowing freely forth as the air in the skies? The poor to whom the gospel is preached, value it; it is suitable to them; it is sweet and precious when the heart is brought down. But if I stand up in religious pride, if I rest upon my own righteousness, if I am not stripped of everything in the creature, what is the gospel to me? I have no heart to receive it; there is no place in my soul for a gospel without money and without price.
But when I sink into the depth of creature poverty, when I am nothing and have nothing but a mass of sin and guilt, then the blessed gospel, pardoning my sins, covering my naked soul, shedding abroad the love of God, guiding me into everything good, and leading me up into enjoyment with a Three-One God, becomes prized. When such a pure, such a blessed gospel comes into my heart and conscience, has not my previous poverty of spirit prepared me for it? Has not my previous beggary and necessity made a way for it, made it suitable to me, and when it comes, makes it precious to me? We must, then, sink into poverty of spirit, that painful place, in order to feel the preciousness, and drink into the sweetness and blessedness of the gospel of the grace of God.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“Who art thou, O great mountain?
before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain:
and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof
with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.”
If the literal temple had been built up without any trouble whatever; if all had gone on smooth and easy, there would not have been any shouting of “Grace, grace,” when it was finished. But when it was seen how the Lord had brought a few feeble exiles from Babylon; how he had supported them amid and carried them through all their troubles; and how he that laid the foundation had brought forth the head-stone, all that stood by could say, “Grace, grace unto it.” It was these very perplexities and trials that made them join so cheerily in the shout, and made the heart and soul to leap with the lips, when they burst forth with “Grace, grace unto it.” And who will shout the loudest hereafter?
He that has known and felt the most of the aboundings of sin to sink his soul down into grief and sorrow, and most of the super-aboundings of grace over sin to make him triumph and rejoice. Who will have most reason to sing, “Grace, grace?” The lost and ruined wretch, who has feared that he would go to hell a thousand times over, and yet has been delivered thence by sovereign grace, and brought to the glory and joy of heaven. No other person is fit to join in that song; and I am sure no other will join in it but he who has known painfully and experimentally the bitterness of sin and the evil of a depraved heart; and yet has seen and felt that grace has triumphed over all, in spite of the devil, in spite of the world, and in spite of himself, and brought him to that blessed place where many times he was afraid he would never come.
J C Philpot 1802-1869
“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience
by the things which he suffered.”
Our gracious Lord had to learn obedience to the will of God by a personal experience of suffering, and especially by an implicit submission to his heavenly Father’s will. And what was this will? That he should take upon himself the huge debt which his bride had incurred by original and actual transgression; that he should offer himself as a ransom price to discharge and put it away; that he should bear our sins in his own body on the tree, with everything which was involved in being made a curse for us; that he should by death overcome Satan, who had the power of death, and deliver them who all their life, through fear of death, were subject to bondage; and that, whatever sorrows and sufferings should lie in his path, he should bear them all, and learn, in and by them, implicit submission to the will of God. This was the will of God, for he was determined that his law should be magnified, his justice glorified, his infinite purity and holiness revealed and established; and yet, amid all and through all his displeasure against sin, that his infinite wisdom, tender pity, everlasting love, and sovereign grace might shine and reign in the happiness of millions through a glorious eternity. This, also, was the joy that was set before Christ, for which he endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
J C Philpot 1802-1869
“For there is one God,
and one mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus.”
1 Timothy 2:5
That he is God, is the very foundation of his salvation; for it is his eternal Godhead that gives virtue, efficacy, and dignity to all that as man he did and suffered for his chosen people. If he were not God, God and man in one glorious Person, what hope would there be for our guilty souls? Could his blood atone for our sins, unless Deity gave it efficacy? Could his righteousness justify our persons, unless Deity imparted merit and value to all the doings and sufferings of his humanity? Could his loving heart sympathize with and deliver us, unless “as God over all,” he saw and knew all that passes within us, and had all power, as well as all compassion, to exert on our behalf?
We are continually in circumstances where no man can do us the least good, and where we cannot help or deliver ourselves; we are in snares, and cannot break them; we are in temptations, and cannot deliver ourselves out of them; we are in trouble, and cannot comfort ourselves; are wandering sheep, and cannot find the way back to the fold; we are continually roving after idols, and hewing out “broken cisterns,” and cannot return to “the fountain of living waters.” How suitable, then, and sweet it is, to those who are thus exercised, to see that there is a gracious Immanuel at the right hand of the Father, whose heart is filled with love, and whose affections move with compassion; who has shed his own precious blood that they might live; who has wrought out a glorious righteousness, and “is able to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God by him.”
J C Philpot 1802-1869
“But we see Jesus.”
Did your eyes ever see him? Do look into conscience–did your eyes ever see Jesus? I do not mean your natural, your bodily eyes; but the eye of faith, the eye of the soul. I will tell you what you have felt, if you ever saw Jesus. Your heart was softened and melted, your affections drawn heavenward, your soul penetrated with thankfulness and praise, your conscience sprinkled with atoning blood, your mind lifted up above all earthly things to dwell and center in the bosom of the blessed Immanuel. Do you think, then, you have seen Jesus by the eye of faith? Then you have seen the perfection of beauty, the consummation of pure loveliness; you have seen the image of the invisible God; you have seen all the perfections and glorious character of the Godhead shining forth in him who was nailed to Calvary’s tree.
I am sure such a sight as that must melt the most obdurate heart, and draw tears from the most flinty eyes; such a sight by faith of the beauty and glory of the only-begotten Son of God must kindle the warmest, holiest stream of tender affection. It might not have lasted long. These feelings are often very transitory. The world, sin, temptation, and unbelief soon work; infidelity soon assails all; the things of time and sense soon draw aside; but while it lasted, such, in a greater or lesser degree, were the sensations produced.
Now, if you have ever seen Jesus by the eye of faith, and ever had a tender affection going out toward him, you will see him in glory. But you will never see him in glory, if you have not seen him in grace; you will never see him eye to eye in the open vision of eternal bliss, unless you have seen him now upon earth by the faith of God’s elect in your heart.
J C Philpot 1802-1869