“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
None but God’s people under the teachings of the Spirit know what it is to “work out their own salvation.” And all who work out their own salvation will work it out “with fear and trembling.” For when a man is taught by God to know what he is; when he feels what a deceitful heart he carries in his bosom; when the various snares, temptations, and corruptions by which he is daily encompassed are opened up to him; when he knows and feels what a ruined wretch he is in self, then he begins to fear and tremble lest he should be damned at the last. He cannot go recklessly and carelessly on without “making straight paths for his feet,” without “examining himself whether he be in the faith.”
And whenever a man’s dreadfully deceitful heart is opened up to him; whenever the hollowness of an empty profession is unmasked; whenever he feels how strait is the path, how narrow the way, and how few there are that find it; whenever he is brought to see how easily a man is deceived, and how certainly he must be deceived unless God teach him in a special manner;—whenever a man is brought to this point, to see what a rare thing, what a sacred thing, and what a spiritual thing religion is, that God himself is the author and finisher of it in the conscience, and that a man has no more religion than God is pleased to give him, and cannot work a single grain of it in his own soul; when he stands on this solemn ground, and begins to work out that which God works in, it will always be “with fear and trembling;” with some “fear” lest he be deceived, until God assures him by his own blessed lips that he is not deluded; and “with trembling,” as knowing that he stands in the immediate presence of God, and under his heart-searching eye.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869