14th March 2020
“Is there no balm in Gilead? is there no physician there?” Jeremiah 8:22
There is balm in Gilead, and there is a physician there. This is, and must ever be, our only hope. If there were no balm in Gilead, what could we do but lie down in despair and die? For our sins are so great, our backslidings so repeated, our minds so dark, our hearts so hard, our affections so cold, our souls so wavering and wandering, that if there were no balm in Gilead, no precious blood, no sweet promises, no sovereign grace, and if there were no physician there, no risen Jesus, no great High Priest over the house of God, what well-grounded hope could we entertain? Not a ray. Our own obedience and consistency! These are a bed too short and a covering too narrow. But when there is some application of the balm in Gilead, it softens, melts, humbles, and at the same time thoroughly heals. Nay, this balm strengthens every nerve and sinew, heals blindness, remedies deafness, cures paralysis, makes the lame man leap as a hart and the tongue of the dumb to sing, and thus produces gospel sight, gospel hearing, gospel strength, and a gospel walk. When the spirit is melted, and the heart touched by a sense of God’s goodness, mercy, and love to such base, undeserving wretches, it produces gospel obedience, aye, a humble obedience; not that proud obedience which those manifest who are trusting to their own goodness and seeking to scale the battlements of heaven by the ladder of self-righteousness, but an obedience of gratitude, love, and submission, willingly, cheerfully rendered, and therefore acceptable to God, because flowing from his own Spirit and grace. It is the application of this divine balm which purifies the heart, makes sin hateful, and Jesus precious, and not only dissolves the soul in sweet gratitude, but fills it with earnest desires to live to God’s honour and glory. This is the mysterious way the Lord takes to get honour to himself. As he opens up the depth of the fall, makes the burden of sin felt, and shews the sinner how his iniquities have abounded, he brings the proud heart down, and lays the head low in the dust; and as he makes him sigh and cry, grieve and groan, he applies his sovereign balm to the soul, brings the blood of sprinkling into the conscience, sheds abroad his mercy and love, and thus constrains the feet to walk in cheerful and willing obedience. This is obeying the precept from right motives, right views, right influences, under right feelings, and to right ends. This is the true Christian obedience, obedience “in the spirit and not in the letter,” an obedience which glorifies God, and is attended by every fruit and grace of the Spirit.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869