“We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” Hebrews 8:1, 2
Our blessed Lord was to be “a High Priest after the order of Melchizedec.” It will be remembered that Melchizedec met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him (Gen. 14:19). In the same way our great High Priest blesses the seed of Abraham; for “they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham;” and as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, they walk in his steps who “believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” But Melchizedec the type could only ask God to bless Abraham. He could not himself confer the blessing; but Jesus, the antitype, our great Melchizedec, whose priesthood is “after the power of an endless life,” blesses his people, not by merely asking God to bless them, but by himself showering down blessings upon them, and by communicating to them out of his own fulness every grace which can sanctify as well as save. Even before his incarnation, when he appeared in human form, as if anticipating in appearance that flesh and blood which he should afterwards assume in reality, he had power to bless. Thus we read that when Jacob wrestled with the angel, which angel was no created angel, but the Angel of the covenant, even the Son of God himself in human shape, he said, “I will not let thee go except thou bless me.” And in answer to his wrestling cry we read that “he blessed him there.” Jacob knew that no created angel could bless him. He therefore said, when he had got the blessing, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” To this blessing Jacob afterwards referred when, in blessing Ephraim and Manasseh, he said, “The angel which redeemed me from all evil bless the lads.” Thus, also, our gracious Lord, immediately before his ascension to heaven, as if in anticipation of the gifts and graces which he was to send down upon them when exalted to the right hand of the Father, “lifted up his hands and blessed his disciples;” and as if to shew that he would still ever continue to bless them, “he was parted from them and carried up into heaven,” even “while he blessed them,” as if he were blessing them all the way up to heaven, even before he took possession of his mediatorial throne (Luke 24:50, 51).
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.” Matthew 14:33
What a beauty and blessedness there is in the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, when viewed by the spiritual eye! Our reasoning minds, it is true, may be deeply stumbled at the doctrine of an incarnate God. My own mind, I know, has sometimes been driven almost to its wits’ end by this great mystery of deity and humanity combined in the Person of Christ, for it so surpasses all human comprehension, and is so removed beyond the grasp of all our reasoning faculties. It is not, indeed, contrary to reason, for there is nothing in it impossible or self-contradictory; but it is beyond and above the reach of human thought and tangible apprehension. But when we are led to consider what would be the most certain and most fearful consequences unless the Lord Jesus Christ were what he declares he is, God as well as man, we are compelled, from the very necessity of the case, to cast ourselves with all the weight of our sins and sorrows upon an incarnate God, as the shipwrecked sailor gladly casts himself upon the rock in the ocean as the only refuge from the devouring sea. When we feel what sinners we are, and have been, look down into the depths of the fall, and see in some feeble and faint measure what sin is in the sight of a holy and pure God, what can save us from despair unless we see the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ investing his work upon the cross and his obedience with a merit that shall suffice to justify our guilty souls, wash away our aggravated iniquities, blot out our fearful crimes, and make us fit to appear in the presence of a righteous God? Thus we are sometimes absolutely compelled to throw ourselves on the deity of Christ, as ready to perish, because in such a divine Saviour, in such precious blood we see a refuge, and we see elsewhere no other. We then feel that if the deity of Christ be taken away, the Church of God is lost. Where can you find pardon? where justification? where reconciliation to God? where atoning blood, if there is no Saviour who merited as God and suffered as man? We might as well leap into hell at once with all our sins upon our head, as a sailor might spring over the prow of a burning ship into the boiling waves, to meet death instead of waiting for it, unless we believe by a living faith in the deity of the Son of God. But sometimes we are sweetly led into this glorious truth, not merely driven by sheer necessity, but blessedly drawn into this great mystery of godliness, when Christ is revealed to our souls by the power of God. Then, seeing light in God’s light, we view the deity of Christ investing every thought, word, and act of his suffering humanity with unspeakable merit. Then we see how this glorious fact of deity and humanity in the Person of Immanuel satisfies every want, puts away every sin, heals every wound, wipes away every tear, and sweetly brings the soul to repose on the bosom of God. Sometimes, therefore, from necessity, driven by storms of guilt and waves of temptation, and sometimes sweetly drawn by the leadings and teachings of the Holy Ghost, we lay hold of the hope set before us in the essential deity and suffering humanity of the Son of God, knowing that there is a refuge in him from sin, death, hell, and despair.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.” 2 Corinthians 1:7
The Lord has appointed the path of sorrow for the redeemed to walk in. Why? One purpose is to wean them from the world; another purpose is to shew them the weakness of the creature; a third purpose is to make them feel the liberty and vitality of genuine godliness made manifest in their soul’s experience. What am I, and what are you when we have no trials? Light, frothy, worldly-minded, carnal, frivolous. We may talk of the things of God, but they are at a distance; there are no solemn feelings, no melting sensations, no real brokenness, no genuine contrition, no weeping at the divine feet, no embracing of Christ in the arms of affection. But when affliction, be it in providence or be it in grace, brings a man down; when it empties him of all his high thoughts, lays him low in his own eyes, brings trouble into his heart, I warrant you he wants something more than outside gospel. He wants power; he wants to experience in his soul the operations of the blessed Spirit; he wants to have a precious Jesus manifesting himself to his soul in love and blood; he wants to see his lovely countenance beaming upon him in ravishing smiles; he wants to hear the sweet whispers of dying love speaking inward peace; he wants to have the blessed Lord come into his soul, manifesting himself to him as he does not manifest himself to the world. What brings a man here? A few dry notions floating to and fro in his brain, like a few drops of oil in a pail of water? That will never bring the life and power of vital godliness into a man’s heart. It must be by being experimentally acquainted with trouble. When he is led into the path of tribulation, he then begins to long after, and, in God’s own time and way, he begins to drink into, the sweetness of vital godliness, made manifest in his heart by the power of God.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5
Without a union with Christ, we have no spiritual existence; and we may boldly say that we no more have a spiritual being in the mind of God independent of Christ, than the branch of a tree has an independent existence out of the stem in which it grows. But you will observe, also, in this figure of the vine and the branches, how all the fruitfulness of the branch depends upon its union with the vine. Whatever life there is in the branch, it flows out of the stem; whatever strength there is in the branch, it comes from its union with the stem; whatever foliage, whatever fruit, all come still out of its union with the stem. And this is the case, whether the branch be great or small. From the stoutest limb of a tree to the smallest twig, all are in union with the stem and all derive life and nourishment from it. So it is in grace: not only is our very being, as sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty, connected with our union with Christ, but our well-being. All our knowledge, therefore, of heavenly mysteries, all our faith, all our hope, and all our love— in a word, all our grace, whether much or little, whether that of the babe, the child, the young man, or the father—flows out of a personal, spiritual, and experimental union with the Lord Jesus; for we are nothing but what we are in him, and we have nothing but what we possess by virtue of our union with him.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“The gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24
What does the word “gospel” signify? Gospel is a good old Anglo-Saxon word, sprung from that pure Anglo-Saxon stock which forms the bulk, as well as the most expressive and precious portion of our noble language, of that language of which the daily lengthening line is gone throughout all the earth, and its words to the end of the world, our mother tongue, in which God seems to have set a tabernacle for the Sun of the gospel, whose going forth is from the end of the heaven and its circuit unto the ends of it. Its literal meaning is either “God’s word” or message, or rather, “good news,” or “good tidings,” which is more agreeable to the original. But if it be “good news,” it must be good news of something and to somebody. There must be some good tidings brought, and there must be some person by whom, as good tidings, it is received. In order, then, that the gospel should be good news, glad tidings, there must be a message from God to man, God being the Speaker, and man the hearer; he the gracious Giver, and man the happy receiver. But if the gospel mean good news from heaven to earth, it can only be worthy of the name as it proclaims grace, mercy, pardon, deliverance, and salvation, and all as free gifts of God’s unmerited favour. Otherwise, it would not be a gospel adapted to our wants; it would not be good news, glad tidings to us poor sinners, to us law-breakers, to us guilty criminals, to us vile transgressors, to us arraigned at the bar of infinite justice, to us condemned to die by the unswerving demands of God’s holiness. And as it must be a gospel adapted to us to receive, so must it be a gospel worthy of God to give. This gospel then, pure, clear, and free, is good news or glad tidings, as proclaiming pardon through the blood of Jesus and justification by his righteousness. It reveals an obedience whereby the law was magnified and made honourable, and a propitiation for sin by which it was for ever blotted out and put away; and thus it brings glory to God and salvation to the soul. It is a pure revelation of sovereign mercy, love and grace, whereby each Person in the divine Trinity is exalted and magnified. In it “mercy and truth meet together, righteousness and peace kiss each other.” As revealed in it, “truth springs out of earth” in the hearts of contrite sinners, and “righteousness,” eternally satisfied by Christ’s obedience, “looks down from heaven.” If you love a pure, a clear, a free gospel, “the gospel of the grace of God,” you love it not only because it is so fully suitable to your wants, so thoroughly adapted to your fallen state, but because you have felt its sweetness and power; because it not only speaks of pardon, but brings pardon; not only proclaims mercy, but brings mercy; not only points out a way of salvation, but brings salvation, with all its rich attendant blessings, into your heart. It thus becomes “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.”
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.” Psalm 91:14
A man must know the Lord’s name before ever he can feel any real love to him. Now this is needful, this is what the Lord does for his people, he causes them to know his name. “They shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest” (Jer. 31:34). “They shall all;” they shall. The Lord has declared it. They shall know me. Now what is the name of the Lord? When God revealed himself unto Moses, did he not say, “I AM THAT I AM?” This was the way God taught Moses his name, and we may gather from it that whatever God is, that is his name. God is holy, God is just, God is merciful, God is a God of love. Now the sinner must know this. He must know that God is a pure and holy God, and at first when he is beginning to learn this lesson, he is completely astonished and appalled by it. It causes him to shrink away and hide himself from God. “How can I appear before God, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity?” he cries. And so you see it brings distress into his conscience. It is the first work of the Spirit to “convince of sin,” and a sense of God’s holiness is that which brings us this conviction— our sin and God’s purity. How can the sinner appear before and approach to God? And while he is under the terrors of the law, he is full of distress, and at times, perhaps, wishes he had never been born, and at other times he is tempted with hard thoughts of God, reaping where he had not sown, and gathering where he had not strawed. This is how God is seen in his perverted mind. The devil is at him, and tries all he can to harden his heart against the Almighty. But the terrors of the Almighty have taken hold of him, and he tries many ways to get these arrows extracted; but all his tugging and pulling only make the wound worse. And so he goes on until he is brought to see that God is a God of mercy,—and this is revealed to him in and through the Lord Jesus. This is what clears up the mystery, when he sees Christ bleeding on the cross. Here he sees God is both a just God and a Saviour. God is pure and holy, and exacts to the utmost farthing all the enormous debt he owes, and yet to the bleeding, broken heart, he, through Christ, can and does manifest his mercy.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” John 10:28
The Lord says, “I give unto them (that is, my sheep) eternal life;” not, “I will give them in the life to come; but I give it unto them now.” We therefore read, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life”—has it now, as a present, felt, and enjoyed possession. This life is given manifestly when Christ reveals himself to the soul; for eternal life is then received out of his fulness as an enjoyed possession. All, then, who have truly fled for refuge, to lay hold of the hope set before them, embrace in so doing eternal life. They live, as being manifestly in Christ, for he is “our life;” and as they embrace it in him they feel its sweet movements in their breast, in the joy it communicates, in the peace it imparts, in the prospects it opens, in the doubts it removes, in the fears it disperses. Thus, in real religion, there is something, if I may so speak, tangible, something to be laid hold of; and this distinguishes a good hope through grace from every other hope which is delusive, enthusiastic, or visionary. Depend upon it, there is a reality in vital godliness, a possession for eternity, which, therefore, kills and deadens the living child of God to a perishing world, and the fading things of time and sense. Whenever we get a view of Christ, there is a view of eternal life in him; for he is the eternal Son of God, and when he makes himself known to the soul as such, he shews us that all our life is in him. The work that he accomplished is for eternity; he lives himself for ever and ever; and those whom he has redeemed by his blood, justified by his righteousness, and sanctified by his grace, will live for ever and ever in his glorious presence. It is the eternity of his love which stamps it with its main value and blessedness; for this life being eternal, secures not only perpetuity, but immutability, prevents it from any change in time as well as from any change in eternity, and secures it firm and stable to all the heirs of promise. As, then, they lay hold of eternal life in laying hold of him who is the life, and as the sweet movements of hope spring up in their breast, it opens before their eyes a vista of immortal joy.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“Those that walk in pride he is able to abase.” Daniel 4:37
Amongst all the evils which lie naked and open before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do, pride seems especially to incur his holy abhorrence; and the outward manifestations of it have perhaps drawn down as much as, or more than, any other sin his marked thunderbolts. Pride cost Senhacherib his army and Herod his life; pride opened the earth to Korah, Dathan and Abiram, and hung up Absalom in the boughs of an oak; pride filled the breast of Saul with murderous hatred against David, and tore ten tribes at one stroke from the hand of Rehoboam. Pride drove Nebuchadnezzar from the society of his fellow-men, and made him eat grass as oxen, and his body to be wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown as eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. And as it has cut off the wicked from the earth, and left them neither son nor nephew, root nor branch, so it has made sad havoc even among the family of God. Pride shut Aaron out of the promised land, and made Miriam a leper white as snow; pride, working in the heart of David, brought a pestilence which cut off seventy thousand men; pride carried captive to Babylon Hezekiah’s treasure and descendants, and cast Jonah into the whale’s belly, and, in his feelings, into the very belly of hell. It is the only source of contention; the certain forerunner of a fall; the instigator of persecution; a gin for the feet; a chain to compass the whole body; the main element of deceitfulness, and the grave of all uprightness. The very opposite to charity, pride suffereth not long, and is never kind; she envieth always, and ever vaunteth herself; is continually puffed up, always behaveth herself unseemly, ever seeketh her own, is easily provoked, perpetually thinketh evil, rejoiceth in iniquity, but rejoiceth not in the truth; beareth nothing, believeth nothing (good in a brother), hopeth nothing, endureth nothing. Ever restless and ever miserable, tormenting herself and tormenting others, the bane of churches, the fomenter of strife, and the extinguisher of love—may it be our wisdom to see, our grace to abhor, and our victory to overcome her, and may the experience of that verse in Hart’s hymn be ours:
“Thy garden is the place
Where pride can not intrude;
For should it dare to enter there,
‘Twould soon be drown’d in blood.”
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“It shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary.” Ezekiel 47:12
There is always something new in the things of God. Here is a passage perhaps in the word of God that we have read and read again and again without seeing or feeling anything in it; but all of a sudden there may come a blessed flash of light upon it; we now see something in it that we have never seen before, something exceedingly sweet and precious. It is now all new; it is received as new, felt as new, fed upon as new, relished as new. It seems as though we never saw anything in the passage before. So with prayer; so with hearing. You may perhaps have had your soul shut up in distress and bondage and misery for months; you could scarcely trace anything of the life of God in you. But under the preached word, it may have pleased God to drop something which has come into your heart with warmth, and life, and feeling. Oh, how new it is! It is as new as though it were never heard before; it seems as though the eyes were now first opened to see new things, and the ears were opened to hear new things, and the heart opened to receive new things. The Lord thus fulfils that blessed promise, “He that sitteth upon the throne saith, Behold, I make all things new!” “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.”
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” Romans 10:11
A child of God may be often deeply exercised whether he has any faith at all; for when he reads what faith has done and can do, and sees and feels how little it has done for him, he is seized with doubts and fears whether he has ever been blessed with the faith of God’s elect. This makes him often say, “Oh, do I indeed possess one grain of saving faith?” But he does possess it: nay, it is his very faith which makes him so anxiously ask himself the question, as well as see and feel the nature and amount of his unbelief. It is the very light of God shining into his soul that shews him his sins, their nature and number; convinces him of their guilt and enormity; lays the burden of them upon his conscience; and discovers to him the workings of an unbelieving heart. But besides this, if he had no faith at all he could not hear the voice of God speaking in the gospel, nor receive it as a message of mercy; so that he has faith, though he has not its witnessing evidence, or its abounding comfort. This faith will save his soul; for “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance;” that is, God never repents of any gift that he bestows or of any calling which he has granted. If, then, he has ever blessed you with faith, however small that faith may be in itself or in your own view of it, he will never take it away out of your heart, but rather fan the smoking flax until it burst forth into a flame. He will never forsake the work of his own hands, for he which “hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” If ever, then, if but once in your life, you have felt the gospel to be the power of God unto salvation; if you have ever had one view of Christ by living faith; if but once only, under the influence of his blessed Spirit on your heart, you have laid hold of him and felt even for a few minutes that he was yours, your soul is as safe as though it were continually bathing in the river which maketh glad the city of God, continually drinking of the honey and milk of the, gospel, and walking all day long in the full light of his most gracious countenance. Not that a man should be satisfied with living at a poor, cold, dying rate; I mean not that, but merely to lay it down as a part of God’s truth that as regards salvation, it is not the amount, but the reality of faith that saves the soul.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869