“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” Hebrews 10:12
It is a fundamental article of our most holy faith, that the man Christ Jesus is now at God’s right hand, a very man, not a shadowy, aerial substance. “There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” God looks at him as such with eyes of intense delight, with ever new approbation and love; and views him as the representative of all that are interested in him; he being the Head, the Church the members; he the Bridegroom, the Church the bride; he the great High Priest, and the Church the house of God. As living for her at the right hand of the Father, he is ever presenting on her behalf the validity of his intercession. The fact, the reality that he is there, is the Church’s joy, as it is all her hope and all her boast. “Because I live, ye shall live also.” To him, then, do we direct our prayers; on his glorious Person we fix our believing eyes; upon his blood we hang our hope; under his righteousness we ever desire to shelter; to feel his presence, taste his grace, experience his love, and know his power, is what our soul, under divine teaching, is ever longing for. See, then, the grounds of holy boldness for a poor sinner to enter into the holiest. Blood has been shed, which blood has the validity of Godhead stamped upon it. A new and living way has been consecrated, in which a living soul may walk. A great High Priest is set over the house of God, who is ever presenting the merits of his intercession. Thus, those who feel their need of him, who cannot live and dare not die without him, whose eyes are upon him and hearts towards him, are encouraged to enter with all holy boldness into the holiest, that they may have communion with Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.” Isaiah 40:4
If in your road heavenward, no valley ever sank before you; if no mountain and hill ever rose up in sight; if you encountered no crooked path through the dense wood; and no rough places, with many a rolling stone and many a thorny briar in the tangled forest, it would not seem that you were treading the way which the saints of God have ever trod, nor would it appear as if you needed special help from the sanctuary, or any peculiar power to be put forth for your help and deliverance. But being in this path, and that by God’s own appointment, and finding right before your eyes valleys of deep depression which you cannot raise up; mountains and hills of difficulty that you cannot lay low; crooked things which you cannot straighten; and rough places which you cannot make smooth; you are compelled, from felt necessity, to look for help from above. These perplexing difficulties, then, are the very things that make yours a case for the gospel, yours a state of mind to which salvation by grace is thoroughly adapted, yours the very condition of soul to which the revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ is altogether suitable. So that if you could at the present moment view these trials with spiritual eyes, and feel that they were all appointed by unerring wisdom and eternal love, and were designed for the good of your soul, you would rather bless God that your pathway was so cast in providence and grace that you had now a valley, now a mountain, now a crook, and now a thorn. And even as regards the present experience of your soul, you would feel that these very difficulties in the road were all productive of so many errands to the throne—that they all called upon you, as with so many speaking voices, to beg of the Lord that he would manifest himself in love to your heart. We all want ease; we love a smooth path. We should like to be carried to heaven in a palanquin; to enjoy every comfort that earth can give or heart desire, and then, dying without a pang of body or mind, find ourselves safe in heaven. But that is not God’s way. The word of truth, the sufferings of Christ, and the universal experience of the saints, all testify against the path of ease; all testify for the path of trial; they all proclaim, as with one united voice, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction,”—and this is the way of ease and of that prosperity which destroys fools (Prov.1:32); but “strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life,”—and this is the path of suffering and sorrow.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“I will give thee the treasures of darkness.” Isaiah 45:3
Is not this a strange expression? “Treasures of darkness!” How can there be darkness in the City of Salvation of which the Lord the Lamb is the eternal light? The expression does not mean that the treasures themselves are darkness, but that they were hidden in darkness till they were brought to light. The treasures of Belshazzar, like the Bank bullion, were buried in darkness till they were broken up and given to Cyrus. It is so in a spiritual sense. Are there not treasures in the Lord Jesus? Oh! what treasures of grace in his glorious Person! What treasures of pardon in his precious blood! What treasures of righteousness in his perfect obedience! What treasures of salvation in all that he is and has as the great High Priest over the house of God! Yet, all these treasures are “treasures of darkness,” so far as they are hidden from our eyes and hearts, till we are brought by his special power into the City of Salvation. Then these treasures are not only brought to light, revealed, and made known, but the soul is at once put into possession of them. They are not only seen, as the Bank of England clerk sees notes and sovereigns, but are by a special deed of gift from the Court of Heaven made over to him who by faith in the Lord Jesus receives him into his heart. No one has the least conception of the treasures of grace that are in the Lord Jesus till he is brought out of darkness into God’s marvellous light, and knows him and the power of his resurrection by the sweet manifestations of his presence and love.
But the word “treasures” signifies not only something laid up and hidden from general view, but, being in the plural number, expresses an infinite, incalculable amount—an amount which can never be expended, but suffices, and suffices, and suffices again for all wants and for all believing comers. When we get a view by faith of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus and see the everflowing and overflowing fulness of his grace, and how it superabounds over all the aboundings of sin, it may well fill our minds with holy wonder and admiration. When we get a glimpse of the virtue and efficacy of his atoning blood, that precious blood which “cleanseth from all sin,” and that divine righteousness which is “unto all and upon all them that believe,” what treasures of mercy, pardon, and peace are seen laid up in him! To see this by the eye of faith, and enter into its beauty and blessedness, is indeed to comprehend with all saints the length, and breadth, and depth, and height, and to know something of the love of Christ which passeth knowledge. The sun will cease to give his light, and the earth to yield her increase; but these treasures will still be unexhausted, for they are in themselves infinite and inexhaustible.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.” Psalm 63:2
Every place is “a sanctuary” where God manifests himself in power and glory to the soul. Moses, doubtless, had often passed by the bush which grew in Horeb; it was but a common hawthorn bush, in no way distinguished from the other bushes of the copse; but on one solemn occasion it was all “in a flame of fire,” for “the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire” out of the midst; and though it burnt with fire, it was not consumed. God being in the bush, the ground round about was holy, and Moses was bidden to put off his shoes from off his feet. Was not this a sanctuary to Moses? It was, for a holy God was there. Thus wherever God manifests himself, that becomes a sanctuary to a believing soul. We want not places made holy by the ceremonies of man, but places made holy by the presence of God. Then a stable, a hovel, a hedge, any homely corner may be, and is a sanctuary, when God fills your heart with his sacred presence, and causes every holy feeling and gracious affection to spring up in your soul. If ever you have seen this in times past, you have seen God in the sanctuary; for then your heart becomes the sanctuary of God, according to his own words, “Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them.” Are not your very bodies the temples of the Holy Ghost? (1 Cor. 6:19.) Does not Christ dwell in the heart by faith? And is he not formed there, the hope of glory? It is, then, not only in Christ without, but in Christ within that we see the power and glory of God. It is in this way that we become consecrated to the service and glory of God, set our affections upon heavenly things, and obtain a foretaste of eternal joy.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:3
What poor, blind fools are we by nature! How insufficient is all our earthly wisdom and all our natural knowledge, to guide us into the truth! When the soul really is under divine teaching, how ignorant it feels as to every single thing it desires to know! What clouds of darkness perpetually hang over the mind! What a veil of ignorance seems continually spread over the heart! The simplest truths of God’s word seem hid in the deepest obscurity, and the soul can neither see the truth, nor see nor feel its personal interest in it. Now, when a man is here, he does not go to the Lord with lying lips and a mocking tongue, and ask him to give him wisdom, merely because he has heard that other persons have asked it of God, or because he reads in the Bible that Christ is made of God “wisdom” to his people; but he goes as a poor, blind fool, as one completely ignorant, as one totally unable to understand a single spiritual truth of himself, as one thoroughly helpless to get into the marrow of vital godliness, into the mysteries of true religion, or into the very heart of Christ. For it is not a few doctrines received into the head, nor a sound creed, that can satisfy a soul convinced of its ignorance. No; nothing can satisfy him, but to have that divine illumination, whereby he “sees light in God’s light;” that spiritual wisdom communicated, whereby he feels himself “made wise unto salvation;” that unctuous light shed abroad in the heart, which is the only key to gospel truth, and is its own blessed evidence, that he knows the truth by a divine application of it to his soul.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16
Love is communicative. This is a part of its very nature and essence. Its delight is to give, and especially to give itself; and all it wants or asks is a return. To love and to be beloved, to enjoy and to express that ardent and mutual affection by words and deeds,—this is love’s delight, love’s heaven. To love, and not be loved,—this is love’s misery, love’s hell. God is love. This is his very nature, an essential attribute of his glorious being; and as he, the infinite and eternal Jehovah, exists in a Trinity of distinct Persons, though undivided Unity of Essence, there is a mutual, ineffable love between Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. To this mutual, ineffable love of the three Persons in the sacred Godhead the Scripture abundantly testifies: “The Father loveth the Son;” “And hast loved them as thou hast loved me;” “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” And as the Father loves the Son, so does the Son love the Father: “But that the world may know that I love the Father,” are his own blessed words. And that the Holy Ghost loves the Father and the Son is evident not only from his divine personality in the Godhead, but because he is essentially the very “Spirit of love” (Romans 15:30), and as such “sheds the love of God abroad in the heart” of the election of grace.
Thus man was not needed by the holy and ever-blessed Trinity as an object of divine love. Sufficient, eternally and amply sufficient, to all the bliss and blessedness, perfection and glory of Jehovah was and ever would have been the mutual love and intercommunion of the three Persons in the sacred Godhead. But love—the equal and undivided love of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—flowed out beyond its original and essential being to man; and not merely to man as man, that is to human nature as the body prepared for the Son of God to assume, but to thousands and millions of the human race, who are all loved personally and individually with all the infinite love of God as much as if that love were fixed on only one, and he were loved as God loves his dear Son. “I have loved thee with an everlasting love,” is spoken to each individual of the elect as much as to the whole Church, viewed as the mystical Bride and Spouse of the Lamb. Thus the love of a Triune God is not only to the nature which in due time the Son of God should assume, the flesh and blood of the children, the seed of Abraham which he should take on him (Hebrews 2:14-16), and for this reason viewed by the Triune Jehovah with eyes of intense delight, but to that innumerable multitude of human beings who were to form the mystical body of Christ. Were Scripture less express, we might still believe that the nature which one of the sacred Trinity was to assume would be delighted in and loved by the holy Three-in-One. But we have the testimony of the Holy Ghost to the point, that puts it beyond all doubt or question. When, in the first creation of that nature the Holy Trinity said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,” and when, in pursuance of that divine council, “the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living, soul,” God thereby uniting an immortal soul to an earthly body, this human nature was created not only in the moral image of God, but after the pattern of that body which was prepared for the Son of God by the Father.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:9
Nothing distinguishes the divine religion of the saint of God, not only from the dead profanity of the openly ungodly, but from the formal lip-service of the lifeless professor, so much as communion with God.
How clearly do we see this exemplified in the saints of old. Abel sought after fellowship with God when “he brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof,” for he looked to the atoning blood of the Lamb of God. God accepted the offering, and “testified of his gifts” by manifesting his divine approbation. Here was fellowship between Abel and God. Enoch “walked with God;” but how can two walk together except they be agreed? And if agreed, they are in fellowship and communion. Abraham was “the friend of God;” “The Lord spake to Moses face to face;” David was “the man after God’s own heart;”—all which testimonies of the Holy Ghost concerning them implied that they were reconciled, brought near, and walked in holy communion with the Lord God Almighty. So all the saints of old, whose sufferings and exploits are recorded in Hebrews 11, lived a life of faith and prayer, a life of fellowship and communion with their Father and their Friend; and though “they were stoned, sawn asunder, and slain with the sword;” though “they wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented;” though “they wandered in deserts and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth,” yet they all were sustained in their sufferings and sorrows by the Spirit and grace, the presence and power of the living God, with whom they held sweet communion; and, though tortured, would “accept no deliverance,” by denying their Lord, “that they might obtain a better resurrection,” and see him as he is in glory, by whose grace they were brought into fellowship with him on earth.
This same communion with himself is that which God now calls his saints unto, as we read, “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord,” for to have fellowship with his Son is to have fellowship with him. As then he called Abraham out of the land of the Chaldees, so he calls elect souls out of the world, out of darkness, sin, and death, out of formality and self-righteousness, out of a deceptive profession, to have fellowship with himself, to be blessed with manifestations of his love and mercy. To this point all his dealings with their souls tend; to bring them near to himself, all their afflictions, trials, and sorrows are sent; and in giving them tastes of holy fellowship here, he grants them foretastes and prelibations of that eternity of bliss which will be theirs when time shall be no more, in being for ever swallowed up with his presence and love.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings.” Malachi 4:2
Oh, what a mercy for the Church of Christ that the God and Father of the Lord Jesus has not left her as he might justly have left her, to perish in her sins, but has provided for her a Saviour, and a great one, and does from time to time encourage every poor, self-condemned sinner to hope in his mercy! The very things, poor, exercised soul, that most try your mind are the very things that make such a Saviour suitable to you. You are dark; this makes the Sun of righteousness exactly suitable to enlighten you. You are cold; this makes you want the Sun to warm you. You are cheerless and cast down; this makes you want the Sun to gladden you. You are barren and unfruitful, and lament that you cannot bring forth fruit to God’s glory; you want the Sun to fertilize you. You are, at times, very dead in your feelings, and can scarcely find any inclination to pray, meditate, or read the Scriptures; you want the Sun to enliven and revive you. Are not, then, these very trials and temptations necessary to make you feel that the Lord Jesus is the Sun you need, the very Sun that David (Psalm 84:11) felt him to be? What value do those put upon the Lord Jesus who make a fire for themselves, and walk in the sparks of their own kindling? What is Jesus to those who know no trouble of soul? What real and earnest prayer or fervent desire have they after him? what ardent longing for his appearing? what breathings to see and feel his blood and righteousness? Oh! it is sharp exercises, manifold trials, and powerful temptations that make the soul really value the Lord Jesus.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“But now we see not yet all things put under him.” Hebrews 2:8
It is God’s special prerogative to bring good out of evil, and order out of confusion. If you were to watch carefully from an astronomical observatory the movements of the planets, you would see them all in the greatest apparent disorder. Sometimes they would seem to move forward, sometimes backward, and sometimes not to move at all. These confused and contradictory movements sadly puzzled astronomers, till Sir Isaac Newton rose and explained the whole; then all was seen to be the most beautiful harmony and order, where before there was the most puzzling confusion. But take a scriptural instance, the highest and greatest that we can give, to shew that where, to outward appearance, all is disorder, there the greatest wisdom and most determinate will reign. Look at the crucifixion of our blessed Lord. Can you not almost see the scene as painted in the word of truth? See those scheming priests, that wild mob, those rough soldiers, that faltering Roman governor, the pale and terrified disciples, the weeping women, and, above all, the innocent Sufferer with the crown of thorns, and enduring that last scene of surpassing woe, which made the earth quake, and the sun withdraw his light. What confusion! What disorder! What triumphant guilt! What oppressed and vanquished innocence! But was it really so? Was there no wisdom or power of God here accomplishing, even by the instrumentality of human wickedness, his own eternal purposes? Hear his own testimony to this point: “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23). The “determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,” in the great and glorious work of redemption, was accomplished by the wicked hands of man; and if so, in this the worst and wickedest of all possible cases, is not the same eternal will also now executed in instances of a similar nature, though to us at present less visible?
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“He giveth power to the faint.” Isaiah 40:29
The Lord often gives his people power to take a longing, languishing look at the blood and righteousness of Jesus; to come to the Lord, as “mighty to save,” with the same feelings with which Esther went into the presence of the king: “I will go in, and if I perish, I perish.” It is with them sometimes as with the four lepers who sat at the entering in of the gate of Samaria: “And they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die? If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die” (2 Kings 7:3, 4). And so the Lord’s people are sometimes brought to this state—”If I perish, I will perish at his footstool.” If he give no answer of mercy, they will still cling to his feet, and beseech him to look upon, and save them. Now this is “power,” real power. Despair would have laid hold upon their soul, if this secret power had not been given to them. Sometimes we learn this by painful experience. Our trials sometimes stun us, and then there is no power to seek or pray. But when power is given, there is a pleading with the Lord, a going out of the heart’s desires after him, and a fulfilment in the soul of the experience described by the prophet, “I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.”
God gives power also to believe; for it is the work of the blessed Spirit to raise up living faith in the heart. He gives power to hope; for it is only so far as he communicates power, that we can cast forth this anchor of the soul. He gives power to love; for it is only as he gives power, that we feel any measure of affection either to the Lord or to his people. In a word, every spiritual desire, every breath of fervent prayer, every movement of the soul heavenward, every trusting in God’s name, relying on his word, and hanging upon his promises, spring out of power communicated by the Lord to the faint and feeble.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869