The treasures of Divine truth

by J. C. Philpot

How little do we, for the most part, realize, and daily, hourly, live and feed upon those divine and heavenly truths which we, as Christians, profess to believe!

Take, for instance, that great, that astonishing truth—the incarnation of the Son of God, in its various fruits and consequences, such as his holy life on earth, his sufferings in the garden and on the cross, his resurrection, ascension, and exaltation to the right hand of God. This, the foundation of all our faith, hope, ands love, our only refuge in life and death, our only source of consolation here and of bliss hereafter, how little is it realized proportionately to its divine blessedness!

To say we do not realize it, is to say we are unbelievers; for, if faith be "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," to say we do not feel a substance in the incarnation of God's dear Son, is to say we have no faith in it or in Him! On the contrary, it is only as we do realize in our own souls the felt blessedness of having a Jesus who suffered, a Jesus who bled, a Jesus who died, a Jesus who was buried and rose again, a Jesus now at God's right hand for us as "the great High Priest over the house of God," that we ever feel anything worth feeling, receive anything worth receiving, or enjoy anything worth enjoying. No, further, it is only as we do realize this blessed truth that the Son of God is in our nature at the right hand of the Father, "able (and willing) to save to the uttermost all than come unto God by him," that we ever pray with any faith or acceptance, find any access or sweetness in approaching the throne of grace, or receive any answer to our petitions.

The more deeply our soul is penetrated with "the great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh," the more strongly that our faith embraces, our hope anchors in, and our love flows towards a once crucified, but now risen and glorified Immanuel, the more prayerful, watchful, humble, tender-hearted, contrite, and spiritually-minded shall we be, and the more will every gracious fruit appear and abound in our hearts, lips, and lives. No man, therefore, is worthy the name of a Christian who does not believe in, and spiritually realize in his own soul, who and what the Lord Jesus is as God's dear Son in our flesh; and the more he believes in him as such, and the more he receives out of his fullness "in whom it has pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell," the more he glorifies him, and is conformed to his image.

And yet it is, for the most part, only at times and seasons that we so realize who and what Jesus its as to obtain any sensible victory over the evils of our heart, the strength of sin, the snares of the world, or the assaults of Satan. Faith, it is true, never dies out of the heart when once it has been implanted there by the hand of God; but in its actings it often seems latent or asleep. Yet as the babe slumbering in the cradle is as much a living child as when pressed to the mother's bosom it receives nutriment from her bosom, so faith is as much a living faith when it slumbers as when it receives out of Christ's fullness grace for grace, and sucks the breasts of consolation.

Still we revert to our starting point—that compared with what is to be believed, known, and felt, we feel and realize comparatively little of the incarnation of the Son of God. How earnestly did Paul desire that he "might know Him, and the power of his resurrection," as if all he knew was but a drop compared with the ocean; and how fervently he prayed for his beloved Ephesians, that "they might comprehend with all saints what is the length, and breadth, and depth, and height, and might know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that they might be filled with all the fullness of God."

That he, who is the Father's co-equal and co-eternal Son, did really lie a babe in Bethlehem's manger, that he really did walk on this polluted earth, "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief," that he hungered, thirsted, groaned, wept, sweat great drops of blood,
"Bore all incarnate God could bear
With strength enough, and none to spare,"
and then, when by his blood-shedding on the cross, he had offered one, and the only one sacrifice for sin, meekly laid down his life, that he might take it again—can we, can any of us, say that we realize in this suffering and risen God-man, the thousandth or millionth part of the grace and glory, bliss and blessedness, peace and joy, liberty and love, treasured in, and flowing out of him? Consider for a moment, what fruits have already flowed into the hearts of the saints from a risen Immanuel. By faith in him, as the incarnate God, martyrs have faced death in its most appalling forms, and patiently, no, joyfully, endured the most exquisite torments which the most fiendish malice in hell, or out of hell, could devise; by faith in Him as God-man, thousands of despairing sinners have found pardon and peace. The bed of languishing and pain, the lonely garret of poverty and want, the cancer ward of a hospital, the walls of the union workhouse, have all been illuminated by the rays of the cross, so that sickness had no sorrow, death no sting, and the grave no terror. In the beautiful and experimental language of Kelly—

"The Cross, it takes our guilt away;
It holds the fainting spirit up;
It cheers with hope the gloomy day;
And sweetens every bitter cup.

"It makes the coward spirit brave;
And nerves the feeble arm for fight;
It takes its terror from the grave;
And gilds the bed of death with light."

There are two most blessed subjects of spiritual contemplation as revealed to us in the word of truth. The one is, the Son of God in our flesh—suffering on earth, glorified in heaven. The other is the Church of Christ viewed in her relationship to this once suffering, now glorified Immanuel. What blessed subjects for meditation, searching the Scriptures, believing views of, and sweet experimental realization!

We do feel that whatever leads us to search the Scriptures, to penetrate beyond the mere surface into the treasures of Divine truth therein laid up, and above all, to feel the power and blessedness and to realize by a living faith the present grace and future glory of oneness with Christ, is indeed most profitable.

Here we feel there is in our day a great deficiency with most that fear God. They have a few hopes and many fears; a sense of their ruin and misery, and at times sweet glimpses and glances of the sufficiency and suitability, the blood, grace, and love of the Lord Jesus; but they do not seem to realize, or even seek to realize, what he is in himself to those that believe in his name. To search the Scriptures, as for hidden treasure, because they testify of him; to ply a throne of grace for a revelation of this Divine Savior to their hearts; to seek an entrance by living faith into the mystery of his glorious Deity and suffering humanity, so as to have them brought by the blessed Spirit before their eyes, and into their very souls; to resort unto Him as unto an ever-living, ever-loving Mediator and Advocate at the right hand of the Father, so as to receive supplies of strength and comfort out of his fullness—how short most seem here to come!

If a wealthy and liberal friend were to put into a banker's hands a large sum of money for us, how eager should we be to draw for what our needs required. Alas! how slow and backward, how unbelieving, and, at times, almost unwilling to resort to the only storehouse of grace and strength, our only hope and help, for the supply of our spiritual needs. Surely, it must be grace and grace alone which can make us feel our need; show us in whom is the supply; draw forth prayer and desire after it, and then bestow what is needed!

Men deny the truth, trifle with it, or are indifferent to it, because they feel no urgent personal need of it!

Now look at the Deity of Christ as a truth which the Holy Spirit has to reveal; and indeed "no man can call Jesus Lord," that is, believe in and worship him as God, "but by the Holy Spirit." Assume, then, all the objections that reason and infidelity combined may urge against it; and if a man has not been tempted and exercised in this point, he has no idea how powerful, how insuperable by all human argument these objections are. But let them be mountains high, and oceans deep, let a deep sense of need be once felt in the soul, and how soon are they swept away, or, at least, their power broken. Lying in yonder bed, in the still season of the night, see that wretched sinner, pressed down almost to despair by a guilty conscience. Look at him writhing and trembling under the wrath of God.

What shall pacify this guilty conscience? Search and examine all the host of duties, rites, forms, and ceremonies. Can any, can all raise up this trembling sinner or speak peace to this troubled conscience? How shall pardon, mercy, acceptance, reconciliation come into it? One drop of the wrath of God, one pang of hell in the conscience, has silenced in a moment all the cavils of reason, all the arguments of infidelity. A sinner truly convinced of sin by the blessed Spirit does not doubt the deity of Christ. We do not say that no fiery darts may glance across his soul, for Satan will harass such a one with all the artillery of hell. But take him in his moments of spiritual distress; though he may seem to himself to have no faith, yet he is a solid believer in the deity of the Son of God. For what he wants, is what Christ only, as the Son of God, can give—deliverance from guilt and despair—hell taken out of his conscience, and heaven brought in.

How earnestly such a trembling sinner calls on Jesus, as the Son of God, to save and deliver him! How he longs for the application of his atoning blood and the manifestations of his justifying righteousness! Where now are the infidel doubts that once perhaps he entertained? Where now any caviling about his being the Son of God? Lying on his bed or walking up and down his room, in real distress, how earnestly, how sincerely, how believingly he now looks up to Christ at the right hand of the Father, as though he would send forth his desires and petitions into the very heaven of heavens, and bring down an answer from the mouth of the incarnate Son of God. Is not the Deity of Christ expressed or implied by all and every one of these fervent desires? Who but God can hear prayer? Who but God can answer prayer? Who but God can read the thoughts and desires of the heart? With every supplicating breath, with every laying bare of the naked heart before him, Christ is acknowledged and looked unto as God. What a fulfillment is there in this poor sinner's lookings and longings of that gracious invitation, "Look unto me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else."

Now, what to such a condemned and guilty sinner would be the blood of Christ, if the blood of a mere man? What value, what efficacy, what merit or worth could there be in it to satisfy or save? We say it with all reverence, if Christ be merely a man, his blood could no more cleanse from sin than the blood of the malefactors shed at his side. But being the Son of God and God, no, God because he is the Son of God, infinite merit, the very value and efficacy of Deity, was in and upon that blood, and therefore it "cleanses from all sin." It is true that God can neither suffer, bleed, nor die; but the human nature, assumed into intimate union with the Person of God's co-equal Son, could and did; and the actings, sufferings, sacrifice, blood shedding, and death, being, through this assumption, virtually the sufferings and sacrifice of the Son of God, the merits of Deity were, so to speak, in every drop of that precious blood, and enriched it with the virtue and validity of Godhead. If this be not so, where is our hope?

If sin, in its very nature and essence, be such a violation of the justice of God, that it cannot be pardoned unless that justice be satisfied, search and see what can make this atonement to offended justice? All the obedience of a creature, say of the most exalted creature, a Gabriel or a Michael, is due to his Creator, and cannot possibly be transferred to any other creature, and of all least to a sinful creature. If, therefore, we deny the Deity of the Son of God, we cut off every ray of hope. Atonement for sin stands or falls with the Deity of Christ. If we deny his Deity, we must deny the atonement, for what value or merit can there be in the blood of a mere man that God, for its sake, should pardon millions of sins? This the Socinians clearly see, and therefore deny the atonement altogether. But if there be no atonement, no sacrifice, no propitiation for sin, where can we look for pardon and peace? Whichever way we turn our eyes is despair, and we might well take up the language of the fallen angel:

"Me miserable! Which way shall I fly
Infinite wrath, and infinite despair?
Which way I fly is hell; myself am hell!
And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep
Still threatening to devour me opens wide,
To which the hell I suffer seems a heaven."

But when by the eye of faith we see the Son of God obeying the law, rendering, by doing and dying, acting and suffering, a satisfaction to the violated justice of the Most High, and offering a sacrifice for sin, then we see such a glory and such a value breathing through every thought, word, and action of his suffering humanity, that we embrace Him and all that he is and has, with every desire and affection of our regenerated soul. All our religion lies here; all our faith, hope, and love flow unto, and are, as it were, fixed and concentrated in Jesus Christ, and him crucified; and without a measure of this in our heart and conscience, we have no religion worth the name, nothing that either saves or sanctifies, nothing that delivers from the guilt, filth, love, power, and practice of sin, nothing that supports in life, comforts in death, or fits for eternity.

The way, then, whereby we come to a knowledge of, and a faith in, the Deity of Christ is, first by feeling a need of all that he is as a Savior, and a great one, and then having a manifestation of him by the blessed Spirit to our soul. When he is thus revealed and brought near, we see, by the eye of faith, his pure and perfect humanity and his eternal Deity; and these two distinct natures we see combined, but not intermingled, in one glorious Person, Immanuel, God with us. Until thus favored we may see the Deity of Christ in the Scripture, and have so far a belief in it, but we have not that personal appropriating faith whereby, with Thomas, we can say, "My Lord and my God."

May the Lord, in tender mercy, enlighten the eyes of our understanding, that we may see more and more beauty and blessedness in the Son of God, live a life of faith upon him, cleave to him with more purpose of heart, spend the remainder of our days more to his glory, and when death comes, welcome its stroke as carrying our souls to see him face to face, and to be with him forever!

"Dry doctrine cannot save us,
Blind zeal or false devotion;
The feeblest prayer, if faith be there,
Exceeds all empty notion."