“And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.” Amos 4:7
How powerless we are as regards the rain that falls from the sky! Who can go forth when the sun is shining in its brightness and bid the rain to fall? Or when rain is falling, who can go forth and restrain the bottles of heaven? He who gives us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with
food and gladness, also turns a fruitful land into barrenness for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. Equally sovereign is the blessing that God gives to the preached gospel. He holds the blessing in his own hand; it is his to give, and his to withhold. If he bless, it is because he has promised it; but when, where, and to whom it shall come, is at his own sovereign disposal. Yet what do we naturally desire when the earth is parched up for want of rain? Knowing that there is rain stored up in the clouds above, and that when it does come it will produce beneficial effects, desires, if not prayers, go up that it may fall. In fact, the earth itself, parched and dried up by heat, the very ground itself, by the fissures and clefts which are made in the soil by a burning sun, silently, mutely, but still imploringly calls upon the rain to fall. Every crack you see in July is a silent mouth asking the rain to come down. The withered herbage, the cattle lowing in the field, the dried-up ponds and brooks, are all imploring, though not a word is uttered, that rain may fall. So in grace. The parched, withered, dried-up feelings of the soul are all so many mute mouths imploring God’s blessing to come down. Nay, the very hardness, barrenness, and sterility felt in our heart when the blessing of God does not rest upon the word, are so many mute appeals to the God of all grace that his blessing would attend the word to our conscience. I say this because you may think sometimes that you are not praying for the blessing of God to rest upon the word, because you may not be using vocal prayer, or are not favoured with a spirit of grace and supplications. God sees your wants, and to those wants he has a kind regard. The babe need not, and indeed cannot ask in so many words for food. The cry of hunger is enough. Or even if too weak to cry, the mother knows the child is hungry by its restless movements; and she is as pleased to give the nutritious food as the babe is to receive it. So you must not always measure the strength of your prayers by the mere vocal utterance you may give to them. The heartsearching God reads your wants, knows your desolate case, and sees your barren condition. As in the kingdom of his providence he views from his holy throne the parched ground, and sends down showers because he sees its need; so in the kingdom of his grace he looks upon the parched condition of his people, and gives the spiritual rain because he knows they need it.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.” Psalm 4:6
The cry of the Church has always been, “Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.” You may often feel as if immersed in the very shadow of death, and say with Heman, “I am counted with them that go down into the pit; I am as a man that hath no strength” (Psalm 88:4); but the very feelings of death, the chill at your heart, and the cold sweat upon your brow, make you long for the appearance of him who is the Resurrection and the Life; and who can in one moment whisper, “Fear not; I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of hell and of death.” You may be pressed down at times with the power of unbelief, and think and say there never was a heart like yours, so unable to believe, so doubting at every step; but this deep conviction of your wretched unbelief, which is the Spirit’s work to shew (John 16:9), only makes you long for that living faith of which Christ himself is not only the Object, but the Author and Finisher. You may be sunk at times in despondency, as to both your present and future state; but that makes you the more desire to have a good hope through grace, as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast. You may feel at times the guilt, and not only the guilt, but the dreadful power and prevalence of sin; but that only makes you long the more earnestly for manifestations of pardon and peace, and that no sin may have dominion over you. “The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it,” that sooner or later you shall have every needful blessing. The valley you now feel to be in shall be exalted; the mountain and hill shall be made low; the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain, and your eye shall see the glory of the Lord; Christ shall be made precious to your heart; he will come sooner or later into your soul; and then when he comes he will manifest himself as your Lord and your God. And so you keep hanging, and hoping, and looking up until he appears; for your heart is still ever saying,
“None but Jesus, Can do helpless sinners good.”
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me.” Luke 22:29
For whom is this kingdom appointed? For the presumptuous, the proud, the hypocritical, and the self-righteous? No; not for these. “I appoint unto you,” you that “have continued with me in my temptations;” you that are tempted and exercised; you that walk in the paths of tribulation; you that follow in the print of the footsteps of a suffering Jesus; you that know the painful exercises of temptation, and yet are strengthened with strength in your inner man, to “resist even unto blood, striving against sin,” so as not to be carried away or overwhelmed by it. What kingdom is this? It is the same kingdom that the Father hath given to Jesus. “I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me.” Now what is the kingdom which God the Father appointed unto his dear Son? Is it to sit upon a throne like an earthly monarch? To wear a diadem, and carry a sceptre? “My kingdom,” said Jesus, “is not of this world” (John 18:36). The kingdom of the Lord of life and glory was to make an end of sin, to abolish death, and “destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;” to reign spiritually in the hearts of his chosen; to be King and Lord in Zion, and to rule over the willing affections of his subjects; a kingdom of righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; a kingdom of grace set up by the blessed Spirit in the heart; a spiritual kingdom which none can see or enter into but those that are born of the Spirit. His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, and consists in having a people to see him as he is, a people to glorify him, a people to love him, and a people for him to love. A kingdom cannot be the same to sovereign and subject, when it is of an earthly and temporal nature. Were the earthly monarch to impart his kingdom to his subjects, it would cease to be a kingdom, and become a republic. But not so with a spiritual kingdom. Jesus does not diminish his own grace by imparting it to his people, nor lessen his own joy by shedding it abroad in their hearts, nor sully his own glory by communicating of it to them. The sun has lost no light nor warmth by the countless millions of rays that have issued from it since it was first created. Nor does the glorious Sun of righteousness lose the fulness that is in him by communicating of his grace and glory. In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, unexhausted and inexhaustible. Then this kingdom which he appoints to his tried and tempted disciples is the kingdom of grace in the heart; the kingdom of God in the soul; the presence of Jesus within; the manifestation of that kingdom which is spoken of in Daniel 2:44, as set up on the ruins of all the other kingdoms, when it has broken them in pieces.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.” Luke 22:28
“Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.” Luke 22:28 Satan brought all his artillery to bear upon the Son of God. He was permitted to try him to the utmost. It was the purpose of God, that his wellbeloved Son should be tempted like as we are; and if you are God’s, not a single temptation has beset you which did not beset the Lord of life and glory. Are we tempted sometimes to doubt a God of providence? The Lord Jesus was similarly tempted, when Satan said to him, “Command these stones to be made bread.” Are we tempted to vain confidence and presumption? The Lord of life and glory was similarly tempted, when the prince of darkness said to him, “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence.” Are we often tempted to disbelieve that we are the children of God, and exercised at times with distressing suspicions and fears lest we have only a profession of religion, without its experimental power in our hearts? Satan brought the same temptation against the Lord, when he said, “If thou be the Son of God;” as Hart says, “O, what an if was there!” Are we tempted to turn our backs upon the Lord for the sake of what the world offers? The Lord Jesus was similarly tempted when Satan said that he would give him all that he presented before his eyes when he took him upon the mountain top. Are we ever tempted to turn from the true God and worship idols? The Lord of life and glory was similarly tempted when Satan with his infernal pride and cursed impudence proposed to the Son of God to worship him. The Son of God worship Satan! But some may say, “Was Jesus tempted like I am? How can that be? He was pure, spotless, and holy; but I am full of corruption from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. The Lord of life and glory had a perfect, unfallen nature, a holy human body, and a holy human soul, taken into union with Deity; but I have a fallen nature, defiled in body and polluted in soul. Can there be a resemblance in our temptations?” I would ask, what is it in you that feels the burden of temptation when Satan injects his blasphemies into your mind? Is there not a something in you which is grieved, I was going to say tortured, by these fiery darts? Is it not the new nature? and is not that nature spotless and holy? Is it not born of God, and therefore as holy as God is holy, and pure as God is pure? Thus just in the same way as your pure and holy nature that is born of God is grieved and distressed by the fiery darts of Satan, so was the holy soul of the Lord Jesus ten thousand times more grieved and tortured by the temptations of Satan presented before his pure and spotless mind. The disciples did not forsake their Lord, though so sorely buffeted with these temptations; nay more, they, according to the measure of their faith, partook of them individually and personally, suffering as well as sympathising with him, and wounded, though in a far less degree, by arrows from the same bow. And thus disciples now continue with Jesus in his temptations by suffering as members with their covenant Head, walking, most of them, in a daily path of trouble and sorrow, daily tempted by Satan, by the world, and by their own evil hearts; day by day tempted to do everything from which their spiritual nature recoils; day by day tempted to do things which are hateful in the eyes of a pure God, and to them too when in their right mind.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” John 15:8
When the Lord Jesus Christ was upon earth he was in a suffering state; and to this suffering image must all his people be conformed. In that suffering state he brought glory to God; and is now exalted to the right hand of the Father. So those who suffer with him will be also glorified together; and glorious indeed will they be, for they will shine like the stars for ever and ever, resplendent in the glorified image of the Son of God. The Apostle therefore says, “When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” The Lord did not assume angelic nature. He therefore did not adorn or beautify it; but by assuming our nature, the flesh and blood of the children into union with his own divine Person, he invested it with surpassing lustre. This is the foundation on which a redeemed sinner brings glory to God, not in himself, but as being a member of Christ, “of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” What a thought it is, that the lowest believer should actually bring more glory to God than the highest angel; and that the suffering obedience of a saint should be of higher value than the burning obedience of a seraph. To bring glory to God, then, should be our highest aim and most ardent desire. How the Lord urges this upon the consciences of his true disciples, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” A little fruit brings but little glory to God. It is in proportion to the amount of rich, ripe fruit that is borne upon the branches of the vine, that the Lord is glorified.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.” Psalm 39:7
True religion is a very simple thing. Simplicity is stamped upon all the works of God, and especially upon the work of grace. The more genuine, therefore, our religion is, the more simple it will be. To be simple is to be child-like, and to be child-like is to have that mind and spirit without which no man can enter into the kingdom of heaven. Can we, then, with this child-like simplicity, walk step by step here with David, and follow him throughout? Can we put our seal to these things, and say, “Lord, what wait I for?” Is your religion brought into this narrow point? “Truly, my soul waiteth upon God; from him cometh my salvation.” “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” Such a frame of soul is indeed from the hand of God, for no man ever did, or could bring himself into it. And if we can enter into one part of these heavenly breathings, we shall be able also to enter into the others, and say, “My hope is in thee.” Feeling the weight and burden of sin, we shall be constrained to cry, “Deliver me from all my transgressions;” and feeling our own weakness, and the evil of our hearts, we shall add, “Make me not the reproach of the foolish.” If, then, we can sincerely, before God, employ these petitions, may we not ask who produced them? Who wrought this experience in the soul? From whose hands did it come? Surely, surely, the same Lord that taught David, must have taught us; the same power that wrought in him, must have wrought in us, before we could, in sweet experience, enter into this feeling language, and adopt it as our own. Here, therefore, we see a little of what true religion is; here we see what are the genuine breathings of a child-like spirit, and what is the experience of a man of God; and it will be our mercy if we can see in his experience a sweet counterpart of our own.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“And they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Matthew 1:23
We must never, even in thought, separate the human nature of our adorable Redeemer from his divine. Even when his sacred body lay in the grave, and was thus for a small space of time severed from his pure and holy soul by death and the tomb, there was no separation of the two natures, for his human soul, after he had once become incarnate in the womb of the Virgin, never was parted from his Deity, but went into paradise in indissoluble union with it. It is a fundamental article of our most holy faith that the human nature of the Lord Jesus Christ had no existence independent of his divine. In the Virgin’s womb, in the lowly manger, in the lonely wilderness, on the holy mount of transfiguration, in the gloomy garden of Gethsemane, in Pilate’s judgment hall, on the cross, and in the tomb, Jesus was still Immanuel, God with us. And so ineffably close and intimate is the conjunction of the human nature with the divine, that the actings of each nature, though separable, cannot and must not be separated from each other. Thus, the human hands of Jesus broke the seven loaves and the fishes; but it was God-man who multiplied them so as to feed therewith four thousand men, besides women and children. The human feet of Jesus walked on the sea of Galilee; but it was the Son of God who came on the waves to the ship. The human lips of Jesus uttered those words which are “spirit and life” (John 6:63), but it was the Son of the living God who spake them (John 6:69). The human hands and feet of Jesus were nailed to the cross; but the blood shed by them was indeed divine, for all the virtue and validity of Deity were stamped upon it (Acts 20:28).
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15
Our gracious Lord experienced temptation in every shape and form, for the word of truth declares that “in all points he was tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” I wish to speak very cautiously upon this subject, for upon a point so difficult and so mysterious there is great risk of speaking amiss. So long as we keep strictly within the language of the Scripture we are safe, but the moment that we draw inferences from the word without special guidance by the Spirit of truth, we may greatly err. You may think then, sometimes, that your temptations are such as our gracious Lord never could have been tempted by; but that word of the Apostle decides the question, “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” It is a solemn mystery which I cannot explain, how temptation in every point, shape, and form could assail the holy soul of the immaculate Redeemer. I fully believe it. I see the grace and wisdom of it, and my faith acquiesces in it as most blessed truth. But I cannot understand it. I know also and believe from the testimony of the word and that of my own conscience, that whatever temptations he was assailed with, not one of them could or did sully, stain, or spot his holy humanity. That was absolutely and perfectly a pure, unfallen, immortal nature, able to die by a voluntary act, but having in itself no seeds of sickness, mortality, or death. And yet I read that, though thus possessed of a holy, pure, and spotless humanity, in everlasting union with his own eternal Deity, in all points he was tempted like as we are. I cannot explain the mystery—I do not wish to do so. I receive it as a mystery, in the same way as I receive that great mystery of godliness, “God manifested in the flesh.” But still I bless God that he was tempted in all points like as we are; for it makes him such a sympathising High Priest with his poor, exercised, tried, tempted family here below. I have sometimes compared the temptations which beat upon the soul of the Lord to the waves of the sea that dash themselves against a pure, white marble rock. The rock may feel the shock of the wave; but it is neither moved by it nor sullied. It still stands unmoved, immovable in all its original firmness; it still shines in all the brightness of the pure, glittering marble when the waves recede and the sun breaks forth on its face. So none of the temptations with which the Lord was assailed moved the Rock of ages, or sullied the purity, holiness, and perfection of the spotless Lamb of God.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“For to be carnally-minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Romans 8:6
One of the most blessed marks of regenerating grace and the sure fruit of the love of God shed abroad in the heart, is that spiritual-mindedness of which Paul declares, it is “life and peace.” “To be spiritually-minded,” to live and walk under the blessed power and influence of the Holy Spirit, to have the heart and affections drawn up from this poor, vain scene to where Jesus sits at the right hand of God, this is “life,” the life of God in the soul, with all its present blessedness and all its future glory, and “peace,” for peace and rest are alone to be found in this path of union and communion with a glorified Redeemer. In this sweet spirituality of mind, in these heavenly affections, and in this intercourse with the Lord at his own throne of grace, the life and power of godliness much consist. We trust we know, from what we have felt in our own bosom, what this sweet spiritual-mindedness is, and what are its blessed effects. It is a key to unlock the Scriptures, for then we read them under the same sacred influence, and by the same divine teaching by which they were written; it is a door of prayer, for under these calm and peaceful emotions the soul, as if instinctively and necessarily, seeks holy communion with God; it is the fruitful parent of sweet meditation, for the truth of God is then thought over, fed upon, and is found to be bread from heaven; it is the secret of all life and power in preaching, for unless the heart be engaged in, and melted and softened by the truth delivered, there will be a hardness in its delivery which will make itself sensibly felt by the living hearer; and it is the power of all spiritual conversation, for how can we talk with any unction or profit unless we are spiritually-minded, and in that frame of soul wherein the things of God are our chief element, the language of our lips, because the delight of our soul? But to be otherwise—to be carnally-minded on our knees, with the Bible open before our eyes, in the house of prayer, at the Lord’s table, in the company of the family of God—what a burden to our spirit, what a condemnation to our conscience, what a parent of doubt and fear whether matters can be right between God and our own soul, when there is such a distance between him and us!
It is true that the most eminent saints and servants of God have their dead and dark seasons, when the life of God seems sunk to so low an ebb as to be hardly visible, so hidden is the stream by the mud-banks of their fallen nature. Still it glides onward, round them, if not through them; and sometimes a beam of light falls upon it from above, as it threads its way toward the ocean of eternal love, which manifests not only its existence but its course, and that it gives back to heaven the ray it receives from heaven. Nay, by these very dark and dead seasons, the saints and servants of God are instructed. They see and feel what the flesh really is, how alienated from the life of God; they learn in whom all their strength and sufficiency lie; they are taught that in them, that is, in their flesh, dwelleth no good thing; that no exertions of their own can maintain in strength and vigour the life of God; and that all they are and have, all they believe, know, feel, and enjoy, with all their ability, usefulness, gifts, and grace, flow from the pure, sovereign grace, the rich, free, undeserved, yet unceasing goodness and mercy of God. They learn in this hard school of painful experience their emptiness and nothingness, and that without Christ indeed they can do nothing. They thus become clothed with humility, that comely, becoming garb; cease from their own strength and wisdom, and learn experimentally that Christ is, and ever must be, all in all to them, and all in all in them.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13, 14
The faith that rests short of believing in, laying hold of, and resting upon the Son of God in his finished work, will not be the work of faith that God will own and crown with his approbation; the love that never labours for an entrance into the mysteries of his dying love, will be found to be a love more in lip and tongue than in heart and life; and the hope that anchors in anything short of the finished work of the Son of God, will be a brittle cable which will snap asunder, or a rotten piece of iron which will break in the first heavy storm. Do not rest in the knowledge of a few doctrines in the letter of truth. Do not take up with a few passing thoughts and feelings; do not be satisfied with a few fleeting convictions or a few transient desires. Press on to know the blessed mysteries of the gospel as the food of your soul; press on to know the Son of God, not only as a crucified man, not only as sweating blood in Gethsemane’s garden, and agonising on Calvary’s tree; but press on to know him as the exalted God-man Mediator at the right hand of the Father, ever living to make intercession, able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him; and press on to enjoy him as your living Head, distilling into you as a living member of his mystical body, what the Psalmist calls, “the dew of his youth;” that is, the fruits of his resurrection, ascension and glorification, as manifested by the gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost. Press onward to know the power of the precious gospel you profess, to enjoy it more in your soul, and to manifest its reality more in your conduct, your conversation, and your life.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869