“In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” Ephesians 1:13
Sealing is subsequent to believing: “In whom after ye believed, ye were sealed.” In legal documents the writing always precedes the sealing. That is the last act, and follows even the signing, putting an attesting stamp on the whole document, from the first word to the last signature. So in grace. The Spirit begins the work. He writes the first lines of divine truth on the soul; he makes the first impression on the heart of stone, which under his operation becomes a heart of flesh; he writes every truth that he thus makes known on the fleshy tables of the heart. He thus gives faith and hope, and then he comes with his special inward witness, and seals the truth and reality of his own work, so as not only to make it plain and clear, but to ratify and confirm it beyond all doubt and fear, questioning or dispute, either by ourself or others. The work of God on the soul sometimes seems to lie as if dead and dormant; little prayer goes up, little answer comes down. Then doubts and fears arise whether the work be genuine, and much bondage and darkness sensibly gather over the mind like a dark and gloomy cloud, which much obscures the handwriting of the divine finger. Now the blessed Spirit revives his work by some application of the word with power, some softening and melting of the hard heart by his divine influence, some communication of a spirit of prayer, some discovery of the gracious Lord, some strengthening of faith, reviving of hope, and drawing forth of love. He thus puts the seal on his own work, and stamps it as genuine. Under the sweetness and blessedness of this attesting seal many a poor child of God can look back to this and that testimony, this and that Ebenezer, this and that hill Mizar, this and that deliverance, blessing, manifestation, answer to prayer, special season under the word or on his knees, which were almost lost and buried in unbelief and confusion. But especially when he bears witness with their spirit that they are the children of God, and shedding abroad the love of God in their heart becomes in them the Spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, “Abba, Father,” is his sealing manifest and complete.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37
Now, poor sinner, upon whose head the beams of a fiery law are darting; now, poor sinner, distressed in thy mind, guilty in thy conscience, plagued with a thousand temptations, beset by innumerable doubts and fears, canst thou not look up a little out of thy gloom and sadness, and see that the eternal God is thy refuge? Dost thou not cleave to him with the utmost of thy power, as being beaten out of every other? Hast thou not taken hold of his strength that thou mayest make peace with him? Art thou not looking to him? And does he not say, “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth?” He bids thee look at him as Moses bade the Israelites look to the brazen serpent. Poor sinner, groaning under the weight of thy transgression, he bids thee look to him. Has the blessed Lord, he into whose lips grace was poured, not said, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out?” Why should you not look? Why should you not come to him? Will he cast you out? Do you not feel the secret drawings of his grace, movements upon your heart which make you come often with strong crying and tears, with groans and sighs, earnest, vehement, and continual supplications? What are these but the inward teachings of God, as our Lord said, “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” And do you not know that the Lord himself said, that no man can come to him except the Father which hath sent him draw him? These comings, therefore, of thy soul in earnest and vehement desire are, according to his own testimony, from the special teachings and gracious drawings of God in thee. Having made his dear Son to be the refuge of thy soul, he is now drawing thee unto him that thou mayest find pardon and peace in him. But perhaps you will say, “I am so sinful, so guilty, I have been such a sinner, much worse than you can form any conception of; and it is this which sinks me so low.” Art thou lower than brother Jonah when he was in the whale’s belly, and, in his own feelings, in the belly of hell? And yet what said he? “Yet will I look again toward thy holy temple.” Canst thou not look again toward the holy temple? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? So David felt and feared, but it was not so, for “his mercy endureth for ever;” and that is a long and strong word. Look and live, look and live!
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Romans 8:34
As the soul is led and taught by the Spirit, it follows the Lord through all the various acts and sufferings of his life. The first spot to which the Holy Ghost takes the poor sinner is the cross of Jesus. That is the first real saving view we get of the Lord of life and glory; the Holy Ghost taking the poor guilty sinner, laden with the weight of a thousand sins, to the foot of the cross, and opening his eyes to see the Son of God bleeding there as a propitiation for sin. To be brought there by the power of the Holy Ghost, and receive that blessed mystery of the bleeding, suffering, and agonising Son of God into our hearts and consciences, is the first blessed discovery that God the Spirit favours us with.
But we pass on from that to see Jesus sleeping in the sepulchre; for we have to die ourselves, and we want to see the Forerunner who has entered into the grave for us. We want to feel that we can lie down in the grave, and see that narrow bed in which our body will one day be stretched, in a measure perfumed by Jesus having lain there before us. And when we have travelled from the cross to the sepulchre, we then go a step farther; to the resurrection of the Lord of life and glory. On the third day we view him by faith springing out of the sepulchre in which he lay entombed, rising up in glory and power for our justification. And thus we see in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus the hope of the soul for a blessed immortality. But we do not tarry there; as the Lord the Spirit gives us eyes to see, and moves our heart to feel, we travel one step farther; this is, to the ascension of the Lord of life and glory; not tarrying on earth (for he tarried not there), but mounting up to see him sitting at the right hand of the Father, as the Mediator between God and man, as the divine Intercessor, as the glorious Head of grace, as communicating out of his own fulness gifts and graces unto poor and needy souls, who are living in daily and hourly bankruptcy. These want to receive perpetual supplies of life, light, and grace out of his fulness, to keep them in the way wherein the Lord has set their feet. So that the ascension of the Lord Jesus up on high, and his sitting at the right hand of God, when received into the conscience under the power of the Spirit, is not a dry doctrine, not a dead bone of a withered skeleton; but is so connected with all the feelings of our heart, with all our misery and ruin, with all our wretchedness, with all our guilt, with all our daily wants, with all our hourly necessities, that, when led by the Spirit’s teaching to look at this Mediator at the right hand of the Father, it becomes a truth full of blessed sweetness and power to the heaventaught soul.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Galatians 5:17
The Holy Spirit is especially tender of his own work upon the soul. He originally formed it; it is his own spiritual offspring; and as a mother watches over her babe, so the blessed Spirit watches over the spirit of his own creating. It is the counterpart of himself, for it is the spirit that he has raised up in the soul by his own almighty power. He, therefore, acts upon it, breathes into it fresh life and power, and communicates grace out of the inexhaustible fulness of the Son of God, thus enabling the spirit to breathe and act, struggle and fight against the flesh, so that the latter cannot have all its own way, but must submit and yield. For the spirit can fight as well as the flesh; can act as well as the flesh; and can desire good as well as the flesh can desire evil. What a mercy for us it is that there are those heavenly breathings in our soul of the spirit against the flesh, cryings out to God against it; and that the spirit within us thus takes hold of the arm of Omnipotence without us, seeks help from the Lord God Almighty, and by strength thus communicated fights against the flesh, and gains at times a most blessed victory over it. For what can the flesh do against the spirit when animated by divine power? What are sin, Satan, and the world when they have to oppose a Triune God in arms? This makes the victory sure, that our friends are stronger than our foes, and the work of God upon our soul greater than anything sin, Satan, or the world can bring against it. This made the Apostle say, after he had been describing the inward conflict, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 7:25). And when he had enumerated the opposition that the Christian has to endure on every side, he cries out, as if in holy triumph, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37).
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
Oh! if there were no Christ Jesus, there could be no “supply.” Howling in hell would our miserable souls be, unless there were a Mediator at the right hand of the Father; a blessed Jesus, full of love, pity, and power, co-equal and co-eternal in his divine nature with the Father and the Holy Ghost, and yet the God-Man, in whom “it hath pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell.” If there were not such a blessed Mediator at the right hand of God, not one drop of spiritual comfort, not one particle of hope, not one grace or fruit of the Spirit to distinguish us from the damned in hell, would ever be our lot or portion. Oh! we should never forget the channel through which these mercies come; we should never, for one moment, think that they could come through any other Person or in any other way, than through God’s only begotten Son, now in our nature, at his right hand, as our Advocate, Mediator, and Intercessor with the Father.
And this supply is “according to the riches of his glory;” which is, I believe, a Hebrew idiom, signifying his glorious riches—riches so great, so unlimited, so unfathomable, raising up the soul to such a height of glory, that they may well be called “glorious.” And these “in Christ Jesus;” stored up in him, locked up in him, and supplied freely out of him, just according to the wants and exercises of God’s people.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.” 1 Timothy 1:19
We find that, in the Apostle’s time, there were characters who held faith, or rather what they called faith, and put away “good conscience.” He mentions by name, “Hymeneus and Alexander, whom he had delivered unto Satan,” that is, excommunicated them out of the Church, as heretics and blasphemers. But if to have put good conscience away, stamps a man as unfit for the visible Church of God, it behoves us to search whether we have this weapon at our side, and in our hand. What does the Apostle, then, mean by “a good conscience?” I believe he means a conscience alive in God’s fear, a spiritual conscience, a tender conscience, what he calls, in another part, “a pure conscience;” “holding faith in a pure conscience,” that is, purified from ignorance, from guilt, from the power of sin, “a conscience void of offence toward God and men.” Wherever, then, there is living faith in the soul, there will be united with it “a good conscience.” The Lord never sends forth a soldier to fight his battles with the weapon of faith only; he puts faith in one hand and “a good conscience” in the other. And he that goes forth with what he thinks to be faith, and casts aside “a good conscience,” will manifest himself to be one of those characters, who, “concerning faith make shipwreck.”
But why is it called “a good conscience?” Because it comes down from God, who is the Author of all good, the Giver of “every good gift, and every perfect gift.” There is none good but he, and there is nothing good but what he himself implants and communicates. This weapon of a good conscience, that the Lord arms his soldiers with, works with faith, as well as proves the sincerity of faith, and tests its genuineness and reality. Faith, without a good conscience, is dead. It bears upon it the mark of nature, and however high it may rise in confidence, or however it may seem to abound in good works, it is not the faith of God’s elect, of which the end is the salvation of the soul. But it may be asked, How does a good conscience work with faith? What is the connection between these two weapons, and how do they mutually support and strengthen each other? In this way. What faith believes, good conscience feels; what faith receives, good conscience holds; what faith embraces, good conscience rivets fast; when faith is weak, good conscience is feeble; and when faith is strong, good conscience is active. They grow and they wane together, and like two stems from one root together do they flourish and fade. He then alone wars the good warfare, who goes forth with faith in the one hand, and “good conscience” in the other; faith strengthening conscience, and conscience strengthening faith; each doing their separate office, but still tending to one end; each accomplishing the work which the Lord has appointed, and yet each fighting the Lord’s battles, and bringing the soldier safe and victorious over his enemy.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“That he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:27
Neither others nor we ourselves now see what the Church one day will be, and what she ever was in the eyes of Jesus. He could look through all this time-state, through all the sins and sorrows of this intermediate period, and fix his eye upon the bridal day, the day when before assembled angels, in the courts of heaven, in the realms of eternal bliss, he should present her to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy, and without blemish. O what a day will that be, when the Son of God shall openly wed his espoused bride; when there shall be heard in heaven, “as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth! Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). How cleansed, how sanctified, how washed, how clothed must the Church be in that day when the very eyes of omniscience, which can read the slightest departure, even a wrinkle, from infinite purity, will find in her neither spot nor blemish, so that God himself in all the blaze of his holiness may say of the Church, “I have viewed her with an omniscient eye; I have looked at every member of the mystical body of my dear Son; I have examined each with all the eyes of Godhead; but there is no spot, there is no wrinkle, no blemish in any one of them; all are complete in him; all stand accepted in the Beloved.” But you may ask, and this is an inquiry well worth pressing upon your conscience, “How am I to know that I shall stand at that day without spot or wrinkle?” To answer that inquiry, what do you know, I ask, of the cleansing, sanctifying influences of regenerating grace, of the word of truth laying hold of your conscience, of the word of power coming into your heart, of the blood of Christ being applied, and the love of God shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Ghost? If not now, yet before you are called away from these lower scenes, you are blessed with a living faith in the Son of God, with the application of his love and blood to your conscience, when time ends with you, it will open to you a glorious eternity, and for ever delivered from all your present sins and sorrows, fears and anxieties, you will be presented at the great day amongst that glorious Church, which has neither spot nor wrinkle nor any such thing. But if you live and die without any interest in these heavenly blessings, should I be faithful to my commission and to my conscience, if I were to say it will be all well with you?—that you have only on your deathbed to send for a minister to pray by your bedside, give you the sacrament, and speak a few comfortable words, and it will be all right with your soul? Should I be faithful to my commission to encourage such a delusion as this, a delusion by which thousands are continually deceived? I dare not do it. Yea, I would lift up my voice and cry aloud, “There is no salvation past, present, or future, but what flows through the precious blood of the Lamb, and is made experimentally known to the soul by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” Ephesians 5:25, 26
View the Church without the sanctifying operations and influences of regenerating grace. She is far from Christ; she has no desire towards him, no manifest union, no communion with him; no faith in his blood, no hope in his mercy, no love to his name. Were she left always thus, where would be her meetness for heaven? But when the word of truth comes with power, and is accompanied by the influences of the Holy Ghost to the heart, then there is not only a cleansing of the conscience from the guilt and filth of sin, but the communication of a new heart and a new spirit. How plainly is this spoken of by the prophet Ezekiel, where, after the promise, “From all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you,” it is added, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” We have not only therefore to be washed from our sins in the blood of the Lamb, not only to be pardoned and forgiven and thus have a title to heaven, but we want a meetness for heaven; we want a new heart and a new spirit given to us, whereby we may taste, handle, feel, and enjoy the love of Christ as shed abroad in the heart, and experience the flowings forth of love to him in return. As then the blood cleanses, so the Spirit sanctifies. John therefore says, “This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood” (1 John 5:6). The blood is the blood of the atonement; the water is the sanctifying influences of the Holy Ghost.
Observe the order in which these blessings come. First, is the love of Christ in eternity; secondly, the gift of himself in time; thirdly, the cleansing by blood; fourthly, the sanctifying by the Spirit. Now look at these things for yourselves. Are your sins pardoned? Have you any evidence that you are washed in the blood of the Lamb? Do you believe that you are going to heaven? What does your belief of this, or your hope in it, rest upon? Where are your evidences? Surely not from merely seeing these truths in the Scripture as the bare revelation of God, or believing them from my statements. Such a faith and such a hope, if you have no better, will prove delusive, and will leave you in the hands of him who is a consuming fire. If your hope of eternal life is well grounded, it is because the word of life has come into your soul, and you have been not only cleansed by the application of the blood of sprinkling to your conscience, but sanctified and renewed by the power of the word, through the Holy Spirit, upon your heart.,
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” John 17:17
When the gospel comes “not in word only, but also in power,” it comes “in the Holy Ghost,” that is, in and with the teaching and testimony of the Holy Ghost. It is this coming “in the Holy Ghost” which gives truth in its power such a sanctifying influence on the heart. But you will ask, perhaps, What is a sanctifying influence? It is the communication of holy feelings, heavenly desires, and gracious affections; in a word, it is the breathing into the soul of that sweet spirituality of mind which is life and peace. If we are among the people of God, he chose us in Christ “before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” If he chasten us in this time-state, it is “for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness” (Heb. 12:10). It is this holiness of heart, this heavenly-mindedness which I mean when I speak of the sanctifying influence of truth in its power. Now did truth ever come into your soul with any measure of this sanctifying influence? Did you ever long to get away from the chapel, go home to your room, fall upon your knees, and have blessed fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ? And were you ever so favoured when you did get home? Or sometimes when alone, in reading, or meditation, or secret prayer, did the word of God ever come into your soul with that sweet unction, savour, and dew that it seemed to make the very room in which you were holy ground? I remember when God was pleased to reveal his dear Son to my soul in my sick room many years ago, I was afraid almost to go out of my room lest I should lose the sweet, holy feelings and blessed spirituality of mind which I then and there enjoyed. Depend upon it, there is a holiness of heart and affection, an inward holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord; and depend upon it, whenever truth comes into a believer’s soul, it comes with that sanctifying influence, which not only gives him a meetness for, but is a blessed foretaste of the inheritance of the saints in light.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“Awake, O north wind; and come thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.” Song of Solomon 4:16
We are, most of us, so fettered down by the chains of time and sense, the cares of life and daily business, the weakness of our earthly frame, the distracting claims of a family, and the miserable carnality and sensuality of our fallen nature, that we live at best a poor, dragging, dying life. We can take no pleasure in the world, nor mix with a good conscience in its pursuits and amusements; we are many of us poor, moping, dejected creatures, from a variety of trials and afflictions; we have a daily cross and the continual plague of an evil heart; get little consolation from the family of God or the outward means of grace; know enough of ourselves to know that in self there is neither help nor hope, and never expect a smoother path, a better, wiser, holier heart, or to be able to do to-morrow what we cannot do to-day. As then the weary man seeks rest, the hungry food, the thirsty drink, and the sick health, so do we stretch forth our hearts and arms that we may embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, and sensibly realise union and communion with him. From him come both prayer and answer, both hunger and food, both desire and the tree of life. He discovers the evil and misery of sin that we may seek pardon in his bleeding wounds and pierced side; makes known to us our nakedness and shame, and, as such, our exposure to God’s wrath, that we may hide ourselves under his justifying robe; puts gall and wormwood into the world’s choicest draughts, that we may have no sweetness but in and from him; keeps us long fasting to endear a crumb, and long waiting to make a word precious. He wants the whole heart, and will take no less; and as this we cannot give, he takes it to himself by ravishing it with one of his eyes, with one chain of his neck. If we love him, it is because he first loved us; and if we seek communion with him, it is because he will manifest himself to us as he doth not unto the world.
Would we see what the Holy Ghost has revealed of the nature of this communion, we shall find it most clearly and experimentally unfolded in the Song of Solomon. From the first verse of that book, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth,” to the last expressed desire of the loving bride, “Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices,” all is a “song of loves,” all a divine revelation of the communion that is carried on upon earth between Christ and the Church. She “comes up from the wilderness leaning upon her beloved,” whilst “his left hand is under her head, and his right hand doth embrace her.” She says, “Look not upon me, because I am black;” but he answers, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” At one moment she says, By night, on my bed, I sought him whom my soul loveth; I sought him, but I found him not;” and then again she cries, “It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth. I held him, and would no let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house and into the chamber of her that conceived me.” Comings and goings; sighs and songs; vain excuses and cutting self reflections; complaints of self, and praises of him; the breathings of love, and the flames of jealousy; the tender affections of a virgin heart, and the condescending embraces of a royal spouse;—such is the experience of the Church in seeking or enjoying communion with Christ as described in this divine book.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869