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

17th September

“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him;
and he will shew them his covenant.”
Psalm 25:14

“The secret of the Lord” (that is, present possession) “is with them that fear him; and he will shew them” (that is, something future) “his covenant.” This shews, that while all the people of God, who fear his name, have the secret with them, that is, a measure of the secret, yet all the people of God have not the covenant revealed to them at the same time with the secret. The “secret” is in the present tense; the “shewing of the covenant” is in the future.

It is very sweet to see how the Holy Ghost has discriminated between these blessings. If, for instance, it had run thus, “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he shews to them his covenant,” some doubting, desponding child of God might say, “How can I be one of those that fear God? for it says, God shews to them his covenant, and he has not shewn it to me yet.” But being put in the future tense, “he will shew to them his covenant,” it takes the form of a promise, and so is just adapted and sweetly suited to their wants. This covenant is the covenant that “stands fast for evermore;” the everlasting covenant of grace, which stands in the Person, love, blood, and work of the Son of God; the covenant made by a Triune Jehovah, on behalf of the elect, before the world was.

What a suitable foundation for a poor tottering heart! The Lord in shewing this covenant unto them that fear him, shews them that it is all of grace, and therefore meets all their unworthiness and superabounds over all the aboundings of their sin; that it is more than a match for their aggravated iniquities, and will land them safe in glory, because God has determined to bring them there. Nothing but a covenant of grace can suit a poor exercised soul, who knows his helplessness and worthlessness; and the Lord shews this to them that fear him.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

16th September

“For he is our peace, who hath made both one,
and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.”
Ephesians 2:14

“He is our peace.” This necessarily springs from being reconciled and brought nigh by the blood of Christ. Sin has not only made us enemies to God, but made God an enemy to us. What peace, then, can there be between us whilst thus mutual enemies? Peace is between friends, not between foes. During this state of hostility and warfare, as there is no real, so there can be no felt or enjoyed peace. But the removal of the cause of the war brings about peace, first really and then experimentally. Christ has made peace through the blood of his cross (Col. 1:20). There is now no enmity on the part of God, for it was a law enmity. God always loved his people in Christ; and as he is unchanging and unchangeable, he never could or did hate them. But as a judge is an enemy to a criminal, even were that criminal his own son, so, as Judge and Lawgiver, God was an enemy to his own elect, viewed as lawbreakers.

But when the law was fulfilled, and all the breaches of it atoned for by the obedience and death of his dear Son, then this law enmity was removed, and the anger of God against sin and the sinner pacified. Sin, therefore, being put away, the whole cause of that law enmity is removed; and when we believe in the Son of God, and receive the atonement by his precious blood, then there is no enmity on our side; for the goodness, mercy, and love of God melt the heart into the sweetest humility, affection, and love to and before him.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

15th September

“Hear counsel, and receive instruction,
that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.”
Proverbs 19:20

What lessons we need day by day to teach us anything aright, and how it is for the most part “line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” O what slow learners, what dull, forgetful scholars, what ignoramuses, what stupid blockheads, what stubborn pupils! Surely no scholar at a school, old or young, could learn so little of natural things as we seem to have learnt of spiritual things after so many years’ instruction, so many chapters read, so many sermons heard, so many prayers put up, so much talking about religion. How small, how weak is the amount of grace compared with all we have read and heard and talked about.

But it is a mercy that the Lord saves whom he will save, and that we are saved by free grace, and free grace alone, through the blood and righteousness of the Son of God. “He of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption;” so that if we have him we have everything, and if we have him not we have nothing. Where these things are felt they will cause exercise of soul, with many prayers and supplications to the God of all our mercies; and all this will strip and empty us of that light, superficial, and flimsy profession which seems so current in our day.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

14th September

“Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.”
Psalm 107:10

God’s people are here represented not as sitting in death; were they sitting there, they would be dead altogether; but they are sitting in the shadow of death. Observe, death has lost its reality to them; it now can only cast a shadow, often a gloomy shadow, over their souls; but there is no substance. The quickening of the Spirit of God in them has destroyed the substance of death spiritually; and the death and resurrection of Jesus have destroyed the substance of death naturally.

Yet, though the gloomy monster, deadness of soul, and that ghastly king of terrors, the death of the body, have been disarmed and destroyed by “Immanuel, God with us;” yet each of them casts at times a gloomy, darkling shadow over the souls of those that fear God. Is not your soul, poor child of God, exercised from time to time with this inward death? Deadness in prayer, deadness in reading the word, deadness in hearing the truth, deadness in desires after the Lord, deadness to everything holy, spiritual, heavenly, and divine? How it benumbs and paralyses every breathing of our soul Godward! Yet it is but a shadow. Write not bitter things against yourself, poor, tempted, exercised child of God, because you feel such deathliness and coldness from time to time in your heart. It will not destroy you; nay, it is life in your soul that makes it felt; and the more the life of God has been felt in your conscience, the more painfully the deathliness of your carnal mind is experienced.

Do you expect that your carnal mind will ever be lively in the things of God? What is it but a lump of death, a huge mass of ungodliness, which, like some Behemoth, upheaves its broad flanks continually in the heart? Yet the people of God are very often troubled in their minds by the gloomy shadow that this death casts over their souls. But this trouble is a mark of life. If I were dead, could I feel it? The worst symptom of the dead in sin is, that they do not feel it. But, whilst we feel it, whilst we sigh on account of it, whilst we hate it, and hate ourselves on account of it, though it may pain and grieve, it never can destroy. It has lost its substance, though it casts its gloomy shadow.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

13th September

“For our gospel came not unto you in word only,
but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.”
1 Thessalonians 1:5

The Holy Ghost never comes into any poor sinner’s soul, except through the medium of the gospel of the grace of God. Have you ever considered that point? You are praying, perhaps, that the Holy Spirit would teach you, and be in you a Spirit of revelation, a Remembrancer, a Comforter, Instructor, and Teacher. You pray for his gifts, and graces, and sanctifying operations; but have you ever viewed these graces in connection with the gospel of Jesus Christ? Now, if you want the Holy Spirit to come into your soul, you must keep firm hold of the gospel; you must not run away from it to the law or to self; but keep firm, fast hold of it, so far as you have felt its power, and have a living faith in it.

If, then, you are tried, still hold the gospel. If Satan get you into his sieve, still hold the gospel; if in the furnace of affliction, still hold the gospel; if called on to wade through floods of sorrow, still hold fast the gospel. Let not Satan, if ever you have felt the power and the preciousness of the gospel, baffle you out of it, and drive you from it; but hold to the gospel, for it is your life. Indeed, where else will you find anything to suit your case if you are a poor, tempted, tried sinner? Will you go to the law, which can only curse and condemn you? Will you go to yourself? What is self? A heap of ruins. Where, then, will you go? After all, you must come to the gospel, if your soul is to be saved and blessed, and if you are to experience the consolations of the Holy Ghost, who alone can bless and comfort you.

I want, with God’s blessing, to impress this vital truth upon your conscience, that you may not be looking away from the gospel, and as Berridge says, “squint and peep another way,” but that you may keep your eyes firmly fixed on the gospel; for if you believe it, it can and will save your soul. Does not the Apostle say it is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,” so that there is neither power nor salvation in anything else? Never, therefore, expect power, salvation, or comfort, but in, and by, and through the Holy Ghost preaching the gospel into your heart.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

12th September

“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself;
but the simple pass on, and are punished.”
Proverbs 22:3

Noah, warned of God, prepared an ark to the saving of his house. Lot, admonished by the angels, fled out of Sodom. So there is a fleeing from the wrath to come. How careless, how secure, and unconcerned are we till quickened with spiritual life! Solomon speaks of those who sleep on the top of a mast, where one jerk of the wave, or one turn of the sleeper may precipitate him into the boiling ocean. God’s anger is gathering against a wicked world.

Who will escape this fearful storm of eternal, unmitigated wrath? Those who flee to Jesus. Who flee to Jesus? Those only who feel their need of him. How are they made to feel their need of him? By the flashes of God’s anger. Whence issue these flashes? Out of the thundercloud of God’s holy law—the revelation which he has made of his anger against transgressors. How necessary then to feel the application of the law to the conscience, to experience what Job calls, “the terrors of God,” that Jesus Christ, who is a “covert from the tempest,” may be seen and fled unto! It is like the warning given in Egypt of the grievous hail: “He that feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: and he that regarded not the word of the Lord left his servants and his cattle in the field” (Exodus 9:20, 21). Faith credits what unbelief derides. As is their nature and operation, so is their end. Faith ends in salvation; unbelief in perdition.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

11th September

“I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed,
and my blessing upon thine offspring.”
Isaiah 44:3

In pouring out his Spirit upon Zion’s seed, God pours out therewith every spiritual blessing that there is in his heart or hands to bestow. Whatever earthly good you may enjoy, without the blessing of God it will but prove a curse; whatever afflictions fall to your earthly lot, if God bless, they must all eventually be made a blessing. Nor is this blessing niggardly given, for the Lord has here promised that he will pour it out! It shall be given as profusely and as abundantly as the Spirit himself. Nor shall Zion doubt either the blessing itself or the source whence it comes, for it carries its own evidence, shines in the light of its own testimony, and manifests itself by its own effects.

And does not the contrast between the dry ground and the promised showers of blessing enhance it all the more? Your very barrenness and sterility make the promise all the more suitable, and therefore all the more sweet. If you look into yourself, a barren wilderness meets your view. If you look up, you see the clouds of blessing floating in the pure sky. You see that the Lord has promised to “pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.” You beg of him to fulfil that promise to your soul. You have no other plea but his own word of promise, no other recommendation but your own miserable barrenness. He enables you to cry to him. He listens to that cry, and in his own time pours water upon your thirsty soul, and floods upon your dry and parched heart. O may a sense of our poverty and destitution be ever a means, in his sacred hand, of leading us to seek that blessing which he alone can bestow!

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

10th September

“And floods upon the dry ground.”
Isaiah 44:3

How often does the soul, born and taught of God, feel that it is this “dry ground!” It would fain be fruitful in every good word and work; it would be adorned with every grace of the Spirit within, and with every good and godly fruit without. Let no one think that the child of God is careless or indifferent either as to inward or outward fruit. There is nothing too holy, too heavenly, too spiritual, or too gracious which the child of grace would not desire inwardly to experience and outwardly produce.

But he feels that he cannot by any exertion of his own produce this fruitfulness after which he sighs. As well might a barren field convert itself into a fruitful garden without being tilled by human hand or without rain from the sky, as a soul that feels and knows its own barrenness produce by its own exertions a crop of the fruits of righteousness.

But the Lord that knows the desire of the heart, and its inward mourning over its own barrenness, has given in the text a sweet and gracious promise, “I will pour floods upon the dry ground.” A partial shower would not be enough. The dry ground would soon absorb a few drops of summer rain. Floods must come, either from the skies or from the streams of that river which makes glad the city of God, to produce this mighty change. These “floods” are the promises poured into the soul, the love of God shed abroad in the heart, the manifestations of Christ and of his atoning blood, the inflowings of grace as superabounding over all the aboundings of sin, and the flowing of peace as a river into the contrite spirit.

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

9th September

“For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty.”
Isaiah 44:3

Thirst, as a feeling of the soul, in a spiritual sense, is certainly indicative of divine life. It is as impossible, spiritually viewed, for a man dead in sin to thirst after a living God, as for a corpse in the graveyard to thirst after a draught of cold water from the well. I know for myself that such a feeling as thirsting after God had no place in my bosom until the Lord was pleased to quicken my soul into spiritual life. I had heard of God by the hearing of the ear. I had seen him in creation, in the starry sky, in the roaring sea, in the teeming earth; I had read of him in the Bible; I had learnt his existence by education and tradition; and I had some apprehensions of his holiness in my natural conscience; but as to any spiritual thirsting after him, any earnest desire to fear him, know him, believe in him, or love him,— no such experience or feeling, I can say for myself, ever dwelt in my bosom. I loved the world too dearly to look to him who made it, and myself too warmly and affectionately to seek him who would bid me crucify and mortify it.

A man, therefore, I am well convinced, must be made alive unto God by spiritual regeneration before he can experience any such sensation as is here conveyed by the figure “thirst,” or know anything of the Psalmist’s feelings when he cried, “As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1, 2). Now wherever God has raised up in the soul this spiritual thirst after himself, he certainly will answer that desire, “the desire of the righteous shall be granted” (Prov. 10:24). His own invitation is, “Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters” (Isaiah 55:1); and Jesus himself says with his own blessed lips, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink” (John 7:37). Nay, he opened his ministry by pronouncing a blessing on such, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.”

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

8th September

“For it became him,
for whom are all things, and by whom are all things,
in bringing many sons unto glory,
to make the captain of their salvation perfect
through sufferings.”
Hebrews 2:10

When, with believing eyes, we can view God the Son as the eternal salvation of all whom the Father gave unto him; when we can see him, by the eye of faith, coming down into this lower world, taking our nature into union with his own Divine Person; when, by faith, we can accompany the Man of Sorrows into the gloomy garden of Gethsemane, or behold him groaning, bleeding, and dying on the cross, an object of ignominy and shame, and believe that in this way, and this alone, salvation could be wrought out, O, what a view it gives us of the demerit and awful nature of sin, that nothing short of the incarnation of God’s only begotten Son, nothing short of such a tremendous sacrifice could put away sin, and bring the elect back unto God!

On the one hand, as we take a glance at the suffering and dying Lamb of God, how it shews us the awful and abominable nature of sin; and, on the other hand, when we can see by the eye of faith what that work is, by whom that work was wrought out, and how glorious and efficacious that work must be which the Son of God, equal with the Father in glory and majesty, undertook and went through to the uttermost,— how it exalts salvation in our eyes!

Thus a believing sight of the Lord Jesus hanging upon Calvary’s tree, not only, on the one hand, shews us the awful nature of sin, but, on the other, how full, how complete, how glorious, and how effectual must that salvation be, of which the expiring Son of God could say, “It is finished!”

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869