Showing the state of our nation in the light of God’s Holy Word

14th July

“Look unto me, and be ye saved,
all the ends of the earth;
for I am God, and there is none else.”
Isaiah 45:22

Till in soul feeling, we are at “the ends of the earth,” we have no eyes to see, no ears to hear, no hearts to feel what a glorious Mediator there is at the right hand of the Father. And the more we feel to be at “the ends of the earth,” the deeper is our need of him; and as the Spirit unfolds the mystery of the glorious Person of Christ, and reveals his beauty, the more does he become the object of the soul’s admiration and adoration. And O what a Mediator is held out in the word of truth to living faith! What a subject for spiritual faith to look to, for a lively hope to anchor in, and for divine love to embrace! That the Son of God, who lay in the bosom of the Father from all eternity, equal with the Father and the Holy Ghost, the second Person in the glorious Trinity, should condescend to take upon him our nature, that he might groan, suffer, bleed, and die for guilty wretches, who, if permitted, would have ruined their souls a thousand times a day—what a wonder of wonders!

But we cannot enter into, nor feel the power of this mystery till we are reduced to such circumstances, that none but such a Saviour can save our souls. Can we do anything to save ourselves? Then we want not help from that mighty One on whom God has laid help; and we secretly reject him. Can we heal ourselves? Then we want not the good Physician. But when our eyes are opened to see our own thorough ruin and helplessness, and to view the glorious Person of the Son of God, faith is drawn out to flee to and rest upon that glorious Object.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

13th July

“And I will make thy windows of agates,
and thy gates of carbuncles,
and all thy borders of pleasant stones.”
Isaiah 54:12

Upon Zion in her time-state “the Sun of righteousness” does not shine in all his brightness; the “windows of agate,” whilst she is in the flesh, temper his rays. Her prospects, too, are not fully bright and clear; as the Apostle speaks, “We see through” (or in) “a glass darkly;” we have not those clear views which the saints have in glory, where they see Jesus face to face. We have prospects sometimes, I hope, in our souls, of God, and Christ, and heavenly glory; but still these views are but semi-transparent, streaked and clouded like a window of agate, not bright and clear as a pane of plate glass. But as Daniel opened his windows toward Jerusalem, that he might see by faith what he could not see by sight, so should we aim to look towards the heavenly Jerusalem, that by faith we may there “see him who is invisible.”

But the Lord speaks of Zion’s “gates.” “And thy gales of carbuncles.” The carbuncle is of a blood-red colour; and why should the Lord have chosen that Zion’s gates should be of this peculiar hue? May we not, without wresting the figure too closely, believe that there is some mystic allusion here to the blood of the Lamb? As scarlet wool was taken by Moses, when he sprinkled the people, and as Rahab’s house was marked by a scarlet thread, may there not be something here significant in the colour of the gates?

But “gates,” or doors, not only give exit, but admission. How does God hear prayer, and answer it too? Only through the “gate of carbuncle.” Prayer ascends through Jesus, and answers descend through Jesus; groans through Jesus enter the ears of the God of Sabaoth, and through the same bleeding gate of mercy do answers drop into the soul. Our poor self-righteous hearts can hardly comprehend this; we think we must have a good frame, or bring a good deed, or something good in ourselves, to make our prayers acceptable to God. Perish the thought! It is nothing but the spawn of self-righteousness. The “gates of carbuncle,” the open wounds of the Lamb, through these every prayer ascends, through these every answer comes down; and if we set up anything else, or make a gate of human merit, we do despite to the Spirit of God, and pour contempt upon the grace and blood of the Lamb.

“And all thy borders of pleasant stones.” God’s providential dealings, which often form the outer setting of his inward mercies, are of pleasant stones. North, south, east, west, all Zion’s borders are of precious materials. The daily events of life, the circumstances of family, station, employment, success, or the contrary, the ties of domestic affection, with all those varied circumstances which seem rather the borders and outer courts than the inner sanctuary of gracious experience—yet all these are of divine material and workmanship. Viewed by faith, every event and circumstance of life, however apparently grievous, is a pleasant stone; for Zion is a king’s daughter, and the meanest of all her courts is made of pleasant stones. For of wisdom, that is, vital godliness, we read, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

12th July

“I will lay thy foundations with sapphires.”
Isaiah 54:11

Before we can stand firmly in the things of God we must have a good foundation, something solid for our faith, our hope, our love, our all, to rest upon. This God promises to lay for his afflicted Zion: “I will lay thy foundations with sapphires.” “A gift,” we read, “is a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it.” Every testimony, then, that God gives to the soul, every promise brought into the heart, every manifestation of mercy, every visit of love, or application of truth, we may call, in a spiritual sense, a sapphire; for it is indeed a precious stone, radiant with heaven’s own hue. When God thus lays his sapphires in the soul, they afford a solid foundation for faith. And as they are laid by the hand of God himself, they must be firm; as they are sapphires, they must be indestructible.

These sapphires, it is true, may every one of them be buried in the dust of carnality and worldlymindedness; the filth and sewage, the mud and slush, of our fallen nature may roll over them flood after flood. But are they injured thereby? is their nature changed, their value impaired, their hue tarnished, their lustre faded and gone? They may be hidden from view, their setting be obscured, and their faces for a while be dimmed, but one ray from the Sun of righteousness will bring them again to light; one touch of the Polisher’s hand will restore all their beauty. Grace has no more communion with sin than a diamond with a dunghill.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

11th July

“Behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours.”
Isaiah 54:11

By these “stones,” which the Lord has promised to “lay with fair colours,” I think we may understand the blessed truths of the gospel which are laid into the soul by the hand of God. The fair colours are deeply ingrained and embedded in the very substance of the stone, not artificially laid on. They are like beautiful marbles, in which every bright hue and vein penetrate into the deepest substance of the material. Such are the truths of God, beautiful throughout, penetrated with grace and glory into their inmost depths.

But these colours are hidden from view till brought out and laid into the soul by the hand of God. However fair or beautiful any word of God be in itself, it only experimentally becomes so as inlaid by his own divine hand into the soul. This brings out the fair colours. How often we read the word of God without seeing the least beauty in it! But let the very same portion come home with sweetness and power to the soul, then beauty, inexpressible beauty, is seen in it immediately; it becomes “a stone of fair colours.” Salvation full and free, the pardoning love of God, the precious blood of the Lamb, justification by Christ’s imputed righteousness, “wine and milk without money and without price,” superabounding grace, eternal mercy, everlasting life—these are some of the precious stones with fair colours which God the Spirit with his own hand lays into the conscience.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

10th July

“O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted.”
Isaiah 54:11

The Lord here compares his suffering Church to a ship at sea, under bare poles, labouring in a heavy storm, driven out of her course by contrary winds, as was Paul’s case in the Adriatic, and doubtful whether she will ever reach the harbour; as the hymn says, “Half a wreck by tempests driv’n.”

What a picture of a tempest-tossed soul! Sun and stars beclouded, compass lost, chart useless, pilot absent, and breakers ahead! Many, very many of the Lord’s dear family are thus “tossed with tempest;” some with a tempest of doubts and fears; others with a tempest of lust and corruptions; some with a tempest of rebellion and fretfulness; others with a storm of guilt and despondency, or with gloomy forebodings and dismal apprehensions. Thus they are driven from their course, their sun and stars all obscured; no clear evidences, no bright manifestations; darkness above, and a raging sea beneath; no harbour in sight, and hope of reaching the desired haven almost gone.

But it is further said of Zion, that she is “not comforted;” that is, not comforted by, nor capable of comfort from, any other than God. This I look upon as a very decisive mark of a work of grace upon the soul. When a man is so distressed in his feelings, so cast down in his mind, and so troubled in his conscience, that none but God can comfort him, we seem to be at once on the footsteps of the Spirit. We do not find hypocrites on this ground. False professors can easily take comfort; they can steal what God does not give, and appropriate what he does not apply. But Zion’s special mark is that she is “not comforted,” that her wounds are too deep for human balsams, her sickness too sore for creature medicines. God has reserved her comfort in his own hands; from his lips alone can consolation be spoken into her soul.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

9th July

“What man is he that feareth the Lord?
him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.”
Psalm 25:12

In all the multiplicity and variety of circumstances that have distressed the children of God, has the Lord ever taken a wrong step? Though he has baffled nature, though he has disconcerted reason, though he has turned our plans upside down, though perhaps he has done the thing that we most feared, and thwarted every natural purpose and inclination of our heart— can we say that he has erred? that he has made a mistake? that he has acted unwisely? that he has not done that which is for our spiritual good?

Murmuring, rebellious, unbelieving heart, hold thy peace! Shall man, foolish man, a worm of the earth, a creature of a day, lift up his puny voice and say, that God can mistake? Your path is very dark, very intricate, very perplexed; you cannot see the hand of God in the trial that is now resting upon you; you cannot believe that it will work together for your good. I admit it. I have felt it. I have known it. But the time will come, when this dark path in which you are now walking, shall be seen full of radiancy and light, when you will prove the truth of these words, “He brought the blind by a way that they knew not.”

When we know God to be infinitely wise, that he cannot err, that all his dealings must be stamped with his own eternal wisdom, we are silenced, we hold our peace, we have nothing to say, we are where Aaron was. When Nadab and Abihu were smitten by the Lord, Aaron knew that God could not err; he held his peace (Lev. 10:3). This is our right spot. If we know anything of the folly of the creature—if we know anything of the wisdom of God—this is our spot. When our dear Nadabs and Abihus are smitten before our face, our spot is to hold our peace, to put our mouth in the dust; for God is still accomplishing his object, in the face, and in spite of nature, sense, and reason.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

8th July

“There is therefore now no condemnation
to them which are in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 8:1

There is not a more blessed declaration than this in the whole word of truth. It is the sweetest note sounded by the gospel trumpet, for it is the very crown of the whole jubilee. Is not condemnation the bitterest drop in the cup of trembling? the most thrilling, piercing note of that terrible trumpet which sounded so long and so loud from Sinai’s blazing top that all the people that were in the camp trembled? (Exod. 19:13, 16.) Condemnation is the final execution of God’s righteous law, and therefore carries with it all that arms death with its sting and the grave with its terror.

The apprehension of this; the dread and fear of being banished for ever from the presence of God; of being lost, and that without remedy; of sinking under the blazing indignation of him who is a consuming fire, has filled thousands of hearts with horror. And it must be so as long as the law speaks in its thunders, as long as conscience re-echoes its verdict, and as long as the wrath of God burns to the lowest hell. O the blessedness, then, of that word of grace and truth, worthy to be sounded through heaven and earth by the voice of cherubim and seraphim, “There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus!”

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

7th July

“For what is the hope of the hypocrite,
though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?
Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him?
Will he delight himself in the Almighty?
Will he always call upon God?”
Job 27:8-10

Many of God’s people are at times exercised as to their hypocrisy, and sometimes they may think themselves the most consummate hypocrites that ever stood in a profession. But if you are exercised with these painful surmises, these doubts and fears, just see (and the Lord enable you to bring it to the light of his countenance) these two features of a spiritual character. Do not talk about your hope; it may be “a spider’s web.” Do not boast of your gifts; they may be altogether in the flesh. Do not bring forward the good opinion of men; they may be deceived in you. But just see if, with the Lord’s blessing, you can feel these two tests in your soul, as written there by his own hand. If so, you are not a hypocrite; God himself, by his servant Job, has acquitted you of the charge.

Did you, then, ever “delight yourself in the Almighty?” It is a solemn question. Did your heart and soul ever go out after the living God? Did affection, love, and gratitude ever flow out of your bosom into the bosom of the Lord? Did you ever feel as if you could clasp him in the arms of faith, and live and die in his embrace? Now if your soul has ever felt this, you are no hypocrite; and nothing can rise up out of your wretched heart, as an accusing devil, that can prove you to be one.

Or if you cannot fully realise this, if you are one that always calls upon God, you are no hypocrite. I do not speak of your regular prayers, or any other of your regularities; for I believe that there is often more of God’s Spirit, and more craving after God and delighting in him, in your irregularities, than in all the daily regularities which hypocrites delight in. But I mean, is there a sigh or cry by night, as well as by day; a pouring out of the heart into the bosom of God from time to time, as the Lord works it in you, in trouble, in perplexity, in sorrow, and in distress? This is a test and a mark which no hypocrite ever had or ever can have.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

6th July

“Who by him do believe in God,
that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory;
that your faith and hope might be in God.”
1 Peter 1:21

Observe the special mark which is here given of those for whom Christ was manifested. It is said of them that “by him they believe in God.” If this be their distinctive mark, we may well inquire what is intended by it. It must surely be a very great thing to believe in God with a faith that brings salvation with it. It is easy to believe that there is a God in nature, or a God in providence, or a God in grace, according to the mere letter of the word, and this is what thousands do who have no manifested interest in redeeming love and atoning blood. In fact, it is the great delusion of the day, the religion of that religious multitude who know neither God nor themselves, neither law nor gospel, neither sin nor salvation. All this is a believing about God, or a believing of God, such as that he exists, or that he is such a God as the Scriptures represent him to be; but this is a very different thing from believing in God.

This is a special and peculiar faith, and implies a spiritual and saving knowledge of God, such as our Lord speaks of (John 17:3); and as none can thus know him unto eternal life but from some discovery of himself, some personal manifestation of his presence, some coming nigh of himself in the power of his word and the operations of his grace, so none can believe in him without a faith of divine operation. To believe, therefore, in God is not an act of the natural mind, but it is the gift and work of God, bestowed upon us through the mediation of Christ, and therefore, as the Apostle says, “given in the behalf of Christ” (Phil. 1:29).

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

5th July

“We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
Acts 14:22

What are the promises? Are not all the promises suited to the Lord’s poor and needy family? What are the promises of pardon, except to the guilty? What are promises of salvation, except to the lost? What are promises of consolation, except to the afflicted? What are promises of grace, except to those who feel themselves altogether undone? Thus it is “through much tribulation” we enter into the sweetness of the promises. Then they come with power into the heart; they are manifested with life and feeling to the soul; and we begin, like Jeremiah of old, to “find God’s word and eat it;” and feel it to be the very joy and rejoicing of our heart.

This is the effect of passing through tribulation in providence and in grace,—of cutting trials; of severe, harassing temptations; of frowns from the world; of blows from sinners and saints; of learning the workings of a heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; to lead us “into the kingdom of God;” and into those sweet manifestations of lovingkindness and tender mercy which alone can satisfy us whose consciences God’s finger has touched. And I believe you that are honest, you that are sincere, you that fear to be deceived, you that know there is a secret in vital godliness, and long to know it more deeply, and feel it more powerfully; I am sure there is an inward witness in your soul that you never entered into any one mystery of the kingdom of God set up in your heart except through tribulation. Was it not through tribulation you understood the word, and felt it applied to your conscience by the power of God? And was it not by and through tribulation, through the medium of suffering, that you were made to value more and more the manifestation of God to your soul? and feel that nothing could satisfy you, nothing content you, but a blessed discovery of dying love?

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869