To bathe in the ocean of endless bliss!

    "Blessed are those whose strength is in You,
        who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
    As they pass through the Valley of Baca, ("weeping")
        they make it a place of springs;
        the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
    They go from strength to strength,
        until each appears before God in Zion."
            Psalm 84:5-7

Every living soul that has been experimentally taught
his lost condition—that has known something of a resting
place in Christ—that has turned his back upon both the
world and the professing church—and gone weeping
Zionward, that he may . . .
  live in Jesus
  feel His power,
  taste His love,
  know His blood,
  rejoice in His grace;
every such soul shall, like Israel of old, be borne safely
through this waste howling wilderness—shall be carried
through this valley of tears—and taken to enjoy eternal
bliss and glory in the presence of Jesus—to bathe in the
ocean of endless bliss!



Your eyes will see the King in His beauty!

"Your eyes will see the King in His beauty!"
Isaiah 33:17

Where in heaven or on earth can there be found such
a lovely Object as the Son of God?  If you have never
seen any beauty in Jesus . . .
  you have never seen Jesus,
  He has never revealed Himself to you,
  you never had a glimpse of His lovely face,
  nor a sense of His presence,
  nor a word from His lips,
  nor a touch from His hand.

But if you have seen Him by the eye of faith—and
He has revealed Himself to you even in a small
measure—you have seen a beauty in Him beyond
all other beauties, for it is . . .
  a holy beauty,
  a divine beauty,
  the beauty of His heavenly grace,
  the beauty of His uncreated and eternal glory.

How beautiful and glorious does He show Himself to be
in His atoning blood and dying love. Even as sweating
great drops of blood in Gethsemane's gloomy garden,
and as hanging in torture and agony upon Calvary's
cross—faith can see a beauty in the glorious Redeemer,
even in the lowest depths of ignominy and shame!

"How is your Beloved better than others?"
"My Beloved is dark and dazzling, better
 than ten thousand others!" Song 5:9-10


 

Can the Ethiopian change his skin?

"Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the
 leopard its spots?
Neither can you do good
 who are accustomed to doing evil."
    Jeremiah 13:23

Before the soul can know anything about salvation,
it must learn deeply and experimentally the nature of
sin—and of itself, as stained and polluted by sin.

The soul is proud—and needs to be humbled.

The soul is careless—and needs to be awakened.

The soul is alive—and needs to be killed.

The soul is full—and requires to be emptied.

The soul is whole—and needs to be wounded.

The soul is clothed—and requires to be stripped.

The soul is, by nature . . .
  self-righteous,
  self-seeking,
  buried deep in worldliness and carnality,
  utterly blind and ignorant,
  filled with . . .
      presumption,
      arrogance,
      conceit,      
      and enmity.

It hates all that is heavenly and spiritual.

Sin, in all its various forms, is its natural element.

To make man the direct opposite of what he originally is . . .
  to make him love God—instead of hating Him;
  to make him fear God—instead of mocking Him;
  to make him obey God—instead of rebelling against Him;
  to make him to tremble at His dreadful majesty—
    instead of defiantly charging against Him;
to do this mighty work, and to effect this wonderful
change—requires the implantation of a new nature by
the immediate hand of God Himself!

"Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the
 leopard its spots?
Neither can you do good
 who are accustomed to doing evil."
    Jeremiah 13:23

 


That Heavenly Teacher


We do not learn that we are sinners merely
by reading it in the Bible. It must be wrought—
I might say, burnt into us.

Nor will anyone sincerely and spiritually cry for
mercy—until sin is spiritually felt and known . . .
  in its misery,
  in its dominion,
  in its guilt,
  in its entanglements,
  in its wiles and allurements,
  in its filth and pollution, and
  in its condemnation.

Where the Holy Spirit works, He kindles . . .
  sighs,
  groans,
  supplications,
  wrestlings, and  pleadings
to know Christ, feel His love, taste the efficacy
of His atoning blood, and embrace Him as all
our salvation and all our desire.

And though there may, and doubtless will be,
much barrenness, hardness, deadness, and
apparent carelessness often felt—still that
heavenly Teacher
will revive His work—though
often by painful methods—nor will He let the
quickened soul rest short of a personal and
experimental enjoyment of Christ and His
glorious salvation.

 

 

Preserving grace before regeneration

"To those who have been called,
 who are loved by God the Father
 and preserved in Jesus Christ."
    Jude 1

What a mercy it is for God's people that before
they have a 'vital union' with Christ—before they
are grafted into Him experimentally—they have an
'eternal, immanent union' with Him before all worlds.
It is by virtue of this eternal union that they come
into the world . . .
   at such a time,
   at such a place,
   from such parents,
   under such circumstances,
as God has appointed.

It is by virtue of this eternal union that the circumstances
of their lives are ordained. By virtue of this eternal union
they are preserved in Christ before they are effectually
called
.

They cannot die until God has brought about a vital
union with Christ!


Whatever sickness they may pass through—whatever
injuries
they may be exposed to—whatever perils assault
them on sea or land—die they will not, die they cannot;
until God's purposes are executed in bringing them into
a vital union with the Son of His love.

Thus, this eternal union watched over every circumstance
of their birth, watched over their childhood, watched over
their manhood, watched over them until the appointed
time and spot, when "the God of all grace," according to
His eternal purpose, was pleased to quicken their souls,
and thus bring about an experimental union with the Lord
of life and glory.

 

 

Free!

"If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
     John 8:36

To be made free implies a liberty from the WORLD
and the spirit of covetousness in the heart. If we
were to follow into their shops some who talk much
of 'gospel liberty', we might find that the world's
fetter had not been struck off their heart—that they
had a 'golden' chain, though invisible to their own
eyes, very closely wrapped round their heart.

And there is a being made free from the power of SIN.
I greatly fear, if we could follow into their holes and
corners, and secret chambers, many who prattle about
gospel liberty, we would find that sin had not yet lost
its hold upon them, that there was some secret or open
sin that entangled them, that there was . . .
  some lust,
  some passion,
  some evil temper,
  some wretched pride or other,
that wound its fetters very close round their heart.

And also there is a being made free from SELF . . .
  proud self,
  presumptuous self,
  self-exalting self,  flesh-pleasing self,
  hypocritical self,
  self in all its various shapes and turns,
  self in all its crooked hypocrisy and windings.

"If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."


 

These fugitive, transitory things

"The world and its desires pass away, but the man
 who does the will of God lives forever." 1 John 2:17

There is a reality in true religion, and indeed,
rightly viewed, a reality in nothing else. For every
other thing passes away like a dream of the night,
and comes to an end like a tale that is told. Now
you cannot say of a thing that passes away and
comes to an end—that it is real. It may have the
appearance of reality—when in fact it is but a shadow.

Money, jewels, pictures, books, furniture, securities,
are transitory. Money may be spent, jewels be lost,
books be burnt, furniture decay, pictures vanish by
time and age, securities be stolen.

Nothing is real but that which has an abiding substance.

Health decays,
strength diminishes,
beauty flees the cheek,
sight and hearing grow dim,
the mind itself gets feeble,
riches make to themselves wings and flee away,
children die,
friends depart,
old age creeps on,
and life itself comes to a close.

These fugitive, transitory things are then mere shadows.
There is no substance, no enduring substance in them. They
are for time, and are useful for a time. Like our daily food
and clothing, house and home—they support and solace us
in our journey through life. But there they stop—when life
ends they end with it.

But real religion—and by this I understand the work of God
upon the soul—abides in death and after death, goes with
us through the dark valley, and lands us safe in a blessed
eternity. It is, therefore, the only thing in this world of
which we can say that it is real.

"The world and its desires pass away, but the man
 who does the will of God lives forever." 1 John 2:17



A sad motley mixture

(The following is an excerpt from Philpot's letter to
a church which desired him to come as their pastor)

"I am less than the least of all God's people."
    Ephesians 3:8

"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;
 of whom I am the worst." 1 Timothy 1:15

Many are foolishly apt to think that a minister is more
spiritual than anyone else
. But I am daily more and more
sensible of the desperate wickedness of my deceitful heart,
and my miserable ruined state as a sinner by nature and by
practice. I feel utterly unworthy of the name of a Christian,
and to be ranked among the followers of the Lamb.

I have no desire to palm myself off on any church, as
though I were anything. I am willing to take a low place.

The more you see of me, you will be sure to find out more of
my infirmities, failings, waywardness, selfishness, obstinacy,
and evil temper. I am carnal, very proud, very foolish in
imagination, very slothful, very worldly, dark, stupid, blind,
unbelieving and ignorant.

I cannot but confess that I am a strange compounda sad
motley mixture
of all the most hateful and abominable vices
that rise up within me, and face me at every turn.




When You shall enlarge my heart.

"I will run the way of Your commandments, when
 You shall enlarge my heart.
" Psalm 119:32

The Word of God is full of precepts—but we are totally
unable to perform them in our own strength. We cannot,
without divine assistance, perform the precept . . .

  with a single eye to the glory of God,
  from heavenly motives, and
  in a way acceptable to the Lord,
without special power from on high.

We need an extraordinary power to be put forth in our
hearts—a special work of the Spirit upon the conscience,
in order to spiritually fulfill in the slightest degree, the
least of God's commandments.

None but the Lord Himself can enlarge the heart
of His people.
None but the Lord can expand their
hearts Godwards, and remove that narrowedness
and contractedness in divine things—which is the
plague and burden of a God-fearing soul.

When the Lord is absent,
when He hides His lovely face,
when He does not draw near to visit and bless,
the heart contracts in its own narrow compass.

But when the Lord is pleased to favor the soul with His
own gracious presence, and bring Himself near to the
heart, His felt presence opens, enlarges, and expands
the soul—so as to receive Him in all His love and grace.



Our refuge!

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my
 deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take
 refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my  
 salvation—my stronghold." Psalm 18:2

On every side are hosts of enemies ever
invading our souls—trampling down every
good thing in our hearts—accompanied by
a flying troop of temptations, doubts, fears,
guilt and bondage sweeping over our soul.
And we, as regards our own strength,

are helpless against them.

But there is a refuge set before us in the
gospel of the grace of God. The Lord Jesus
Christ, as King in Zion, is there held up
before our eyes as . . .
  the Rock of our refuge,
  our strong Tower,
  our impregnable Fortress;
and we are encouraged by every precious promise
and every gospel invitation when we are overrun
and distressed by these wandering, ravaging,
plundering tribes—to flee unto and find a safe
refuge
in Him.

"Keep me safe, O God, for in You I take refuge."
     Psalm 16:1

"O Lord my God, I take refuge in You; save
 and deliver me from all who pursue me."
     Psalm 7:1

 


Supernatural light


"For God, who commanded the light to shine out
 of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give
the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in
the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Cor. 4:6

Until, then, this supernatural light of God
enters into the soul, a man has no saving
knowledge of Jehovah. He may . . .
  say his prayers,
  read his Bible,  attend preaching,
  observe ordinances,
  bestow all his goods to feed the poor,
  or give his body to be burned;
but he is as ignorant of God as
the cattle that graze in the fields!


He may—call himself a Christian, and be
thought such by others—talk much about
Jesus Christ, hold a sound creed—maintain
a consistent profession—pray at a prayer
meeting with fluency and apparent feeling,
stand up in a pulpit and contend earnestly
for the doctrines of grace—excel hundreds
of God's children in zeal, knowledge and
conversation.

And yet, if this ray of supernatural light has
never shone into his soul—he is only twofold
more the child of hell than those who make
no profession!




Little heathen?

(from Philpot's biography, written by his son)

There was nothing my father mistrusted more
than 'childhood piety.' He insisted that children
should never be taught or allowed to use the
language of 'personal possession' in reference
to God. To sing, for instance, "Rock of Ages,
cleft for ME" or, "MY Jesus".

Herein he was most logical. For by early influence
and example you can train up a child to be
. . .
  a little patriot,
  a little Catholic,
  a little Calvinist, or
  a little Bolshevist.

But no power on earth can make him a child of God.

He took great care that we, his children, attended
the means of grace, and never missed chapel or
family prayers. But he never expected us to be
anything but little heathen
. We had, it is true,
to be well behaved little heathen. If not, we got
"the stick", or its equivalent.

"Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the
 flesh, nor of the will of man—but of God." John 1:13

 


My desire is . . .

  to exalt the grace of God;
  to proclaim salvation through Jesus Christ alone;
  to declare the sinfulness, helplessness and
    hopelessness of man in a state of nature;
  to describe the living experience of the
    children of God in their . . .
        trials,
        temptations,
        sorrows,
        consolations
        and blessings.

 


And how is he lost?

"O visit me with Your salvation." Psalm 106:4

Salvation only suits the condemned—the lost.
A man must be lost—utterly lost—before he
can prize God's salvation.

And how is he lost?
 By . . .
  losing all his religion,
  losing all his righteousness,
  losing all his strength,
  losing all his confidence,
  losing all his hopes,
  losing all that is of the flesh;
losing it by its being taken from him,
and stripped away by the hand of God.




Wearied, torn, and half expiring

The poor sheep has gone astray; and having
once left the fold, it is pretty sure to have gotten

into some strange place or other. It has fallen
down a rock—or has rolled into a ditch—or is
hidden beneath a bush—or has crept into a
cave—or is lying in some deep, distant ravine,
where none but an experienced eye and hand
can find it out.

Just so with the Lord's lost sheep. They
get into strange places.
They . . .
  fall off rocks,
  slip into holes,
  hide among the bushes, and
  sometimes creep off to die in caverns.

When the sheep has gone astray, the shepherd
goes after it to find it. Here he sees a footprint;
there a little lock of wool torn off by the thorns.
Every nook he searches—into every corner he looks–
until at last he finds the poor sheep wearied, torn,
and half expiring
, with scarcely strength enough to
groan forth its misery. The shepherd does not beat
it home, nor thrust the goad into its back—but he
gently takes it up, lays it upon his shoulder, and
brings it home rejoicing.



I am weak and ignorant, full of sin

I am weak and ignorant, full of sin and
compassed with infirmity. But I bless God
that He has in some measure shown me
the power of eternal things, and by free
and sovereign grace stopped me in that
career of vanity and sin in which, to all
outward appearance, I was fast hurrying
down to the chambers of death.



By the grace of God

"By the grace of God I am what I am."
   
1 Cor. 15:10

What but sovereign grace—rich, free and
super-abounding grace—has made the
difference between you and the world
who cannot receive Him?

But for His divine operations upon your
soul
, you would still be of the world, hardening
your heart against everything good and godlike,
walking on in the pride and ignorance of unbelief
and self-righteousness, until you sank down into
the chambers of death!




The outpouring of the everlasting wrath of God

"The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."
    Isaiah 53:6

What heart can conceive, what tongue express
what the holy soul of Christ endured when "the
Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all?"

In the garden of Gethsemane . . .
  what a load of guilt,
  what a weight of sin,
  what an intolerable burden of the wrath of God,
did that sacred humanity endure, until the pressure
of sorrow and woe forced the drops of blood to fall
as sweat from His brow!

When the blessed Lord was made sin (or a sin offering)
for us, He endured in His holy soul all the pangs of . . .
  distress,
  horror,
  alarm,
  misery, and
  guilt that all the elect would have felt in hell forever
as they would have experienced under the outpouring
of the everlasting wrath of God
. . .
  the anguish,
  the distress,
  the darkness,
  the condemnation,
  the shame,
  the guilt,
  the unutterable horror.

What heart can conceive—what tongue express—the
bitter anguish which must have wrung the soul of our
suffering Substitute under this agonizing experience?

 

 

Struggling against the power of sin?

How many poor souls are struggling against the
power of sin
, and yet never get any victory over it!

How many are daily led captive by . . .
  the lusts of the flesh,
  the love of the world,
  and the pride of life,
and never get any victory over them!

How many fight and grapple with tears, vows,
and strong resolutions against their besetting
sins, who are still entangled and overcome by
them again and again! Now, why is this?

Because they do not know the secret of spiritual
strength against, and spiritual victory over them.

It is only by virtue of a living union with the
Lord Jesus Christ—drinking into His sufferings
and death—and receiving out of His fullness,
that we can gain any victory over . . .
  the world,
  sin,
  death,
  or hell.

Sin is never really or effectually subdued in any other way.

It is not by legalistic strivings and earnest resolutions,
vows, and tears—the vain struggle of 'religious flesh'
to subdue 'sinful flesh'—that can overcome sin.

But it is by a believing acquaintance with, and a
spiritual entrance into the sufferings and sorrows
of the Son of God—having a living faith in Him,
and receiving out of His fullness supplies of grace
and strength.

 

 

The anointing

"But the anointing which you have received from
 Him abides in you." 1 John 2:27

All the powers of earth and hell are combined against
this holy anointing, with which the children of God are
so highly favored. But if God has locked up in the bosom
of a saint one drop of this divine unction, that one drop
is armor against . . .
  all the assaults of sin,
  all the attacks of Satan,
  all the enmity of self, and
  all the charms, pleasures, and amusements of the world.

Waves and billows of affliction may roll over the soul—
but they cannot wash away this holy drop of anointing oil.

Satan may shoot a thousand fiery darts to inflame all
the combustible material of our carnal mind—but all his
fiery darts cannot burn up that one drop of oil which
God has laid up in the depths of a broken spirit.

The world, with all its charms and pleasures, and its
deadly opposition to the truth of God, may stir up waves
of ungodliness against this holy anointing—but all the
powers of earth combined can never extinguish that
one drop which God has Himself lodged in the depths
of a believer's heart.

And so it has been with all the dear saints of God.
Not all their . . .
  sorrows,
  backslidings,
  slips,
  falls,
  miseries, and
  wretchedness,
have ever—all combined, drunk up the anointing that
God has bestowed upon them. If sin could have done
it—we would have sinned ourselves into hell long ago;
and if the world or Satan could have destroyed it or
us—they would long ago have destroyed both. If our
carnal mind
could have done it—it would have swept
us away into floods of destruction.

But the anointing abides sure, and cannot be destroyed;
and where once lodged in the soul, it is secure against
all the assaults of earth, sin, and hell.


"But the anointing which you have received from
 Him abides in you." 1 John 2:27

 

 

Can I be a child of God, and be thus?

Perhaps you are a poor, tempted creature—and
your daily sorrow, your continual trouble is that
you are so soon overcome—that . . .
  your temper,
  your lusts,
  your pride,
  your worldliness, and
  your carnal, corrupt heart
are perpetually getting the mastery.

And from this you sometimes draw bitter conclusions.
You say, in the depth of your heart, "Can I be a child
of God, and be thus?
What mark have I of being in
favor with God when I am so easily—so continually
overcome?"

But the Spirit reveals Christ—taking of the things of
Christ, and showing them unto us—applying the word
with power to our hearts, and bringing the sweetness,
reality, and blessedness of divine things into our soul.
It is only in this way that He overcomes all unbelief
and infidelity, doubt and fear, and sweetly assures
us that all is well between God and the soul.

Faith keeps eyeing the atonement—faith looks not
so much to sin, as to salvation from sin—at the way
whereby sin is pardoned, overcome, and subdued.

 

 

The truth shall make you free!

"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall
 make you free!
" John 8:32

To a spiritual mind, sweet and self-rewarding is the task, if
task it can be called, of searching the Word as for hidden
treasure.
No sweeter, no better employment can engage
heart and hands than, in the spirit of prayer and meditation,
of separation from the world, of holy fear, of a desire to
know the will of God and do it, of humility, simplicity,
and godly sincerity—to seek to enter into those heavenly
mysteries which are stored up in the Scriptures—and this,
not to furnish the head with notions, but to feed the
soul with the bread of life.


Truth, received in the love and power of it . . .
  informs and establishes the judgment,
  softens and melts the heart,
  warms and draws upward the affections,
  makes and keeps the conscience alive and tender;
  is the food of faith,
  is the strength of hope,
  is the main-spring of love.

To know the truth is to be made blessedly free . . .
  free from error;
  free from the vile heresies which everywhere abound;
  free from presumption;
  free from self-righteousness; 
  free from the curse and bondage of the law;
  free from the condemnation of a guilty conscience;
  free from a slavish fear of the opinion of men;
  free from the contempt of the world;
  free from the scorn of worldly professors;
  free from following a multitude to do evil;
  free from companionship with those who
  have a name to live, but are dead.

"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall
 make you free!
" John 8:32

 

 

Sin cannot be subdued in any other way.

"The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by
 faith in the Son of God." Galatians 2:20

There is no way except by being spiritually immersed
into Christ's death and life—that we can ever get a
victory over our besetting sins. If, on the one hand,
we have a view of a suffering Christ, and thus become
immersed into His sufferings and death—the feeling,
while it lasts, will subdue the power of sin.

Or, on the other hand, if we get a believing view of
a risen Christ, and receive supplies of grace out of
His fullness—that will lift us above sin's dominion.

If sin is powerfully working in us, we need one of
these two things to subdue it.

When there is a view of the sufferings and sorrows,
agonies and death of the Son of God—power comes
down to the soul in its struggles against sin—and
gives it a measure of holy resistance and subduing
strength against it.

So, when there is a coming in of the grace and love
of Christ—it lifts up the soul from the love and power
of sin into a purer and holier atmosphere. Sin cannot
be subdued in any other way.
You must either be
immersed into Christ's sufferings and death—or you
must be immersed into Christ's resurrection and life.
A sight of Him as a suffering God—or a view of Him as
a risen Jesus—must be connected with every successful
attempt to get the victory over sin, death, hell, and the
grave.

You may strive, vow, and repent—and what does it
all amount to? You sink deeper and deeper into sin
than before. Pride, lust, and covetousness come in
like a flood—and you are swamped and carried away
almost before you are aware!

But if you get a view of a suffering Christ, or of a
risen Christ—if you get a taste of His dying love—a
drop of His atoning blood—or any manifestation of
His beauty and blessedness—there comes from this
spiritual immersion into His death or His life a subduing
power—and this gives a victory over temptation and
sin which nothing else can or will give.

Yet I believe we are often many years learning this
divine secret—striving to repent and reform, and cannot;
until at last by divine teaching we come to learn a little
of what the Apostle meant when he said, "The life I now
live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God." And
when we can get into this life of faith—this hidden life,
then our affections are set on things above.

There is no use setting to work by 'legal strivings'—they
only plunge you deeper in the ditch. You must get Christ
into your soul by the power of God—and then He will
subdue—by His smiles, blood, love, and presence—every
internal foe.

 

 

Two kinds of repentance

"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to
 salvation and leaves no regret—but worldly
 sorrow
brings death." 2 Cor. 7:10

There are two kinds of repentance which need to be
carefully distinguished from each other, though they
are often sadly confounded—evangelical repentance,
and legal repentance.

Cain, Esau, Saul, Ahab, Judas, all repented—but their
repentance was the remorse of natural conscience—not
the godly sorrow of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
They trembled before God as an angry judge—but were
not melted into contrition before Him as a forgiving Father.
They neither hated their sins nor forsook them—they
neither loved holiness nor sought it.

Cain went out from the presence of the Lord;
Esau plotted Jacob's death;
Saul consulted the witch of Endor;
Ahab put honest Micaiah into prison;
and Judas hanged himself.

How different from this forced and false repentance of
a reprobate, is the repentance of a child of God—that true
repentance for sin, that godly sorrow, that holy mourning
which flows from the Spirit's gracious operations.

This repentance does not spring from a sense of the wrath of
God in a broken law—but from His mercy in a blessed gospel—
from a view by faith of the sufferings of Christ in the garden
and on the cross—from a manifestation of pardoning love;
and is always attended with self-loathing and self-abhorrence,
with deep and unreserved confession of sin and forsaking it,
with most hearty, sincere, and earnest petitions to be kept
from all evil, and a holy longing to live to the praise and
glory of God.

 

 

Have we nothing to give to Christ?

Yes!
Our sins,
our sorrows,
our burdens,
our trials, and above all,
the salvation and sanctification of our souls.

And what has He to give us? What? Why . . .
  everything worth having,  everything worth a moment's anxious thought,
  everything for time and eternity!

 

 

After you have suffered a while

"But the God of all grace, who has called us unto
 His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you  have
 suffered a while
—make you perfect, establish,
 strengthen, settle you." 1 Peter 5:10

There is no divine establishment, no spiritual
strength, no solid settlement—except by suffering.
But after the soul has suffered, after it has felt
God's chastising hand, the effect is . . .
to perfect,
to establish,
to strengthen,
and to settle it.

By suffering, a man becomes settled into a solemn
conviction of the character of Jehovah as revealed
in the Scripture, and in a measure made experimentally
manifest in his conscience. He is settled in the persuasion
that "all things work together for good to those who love
God, and are the called according to His purpose"—in the
firm conviction that everything comes to pass according
to God's eternal purpose—and are all tending to the good
of the Church, and to God's eternal glory.

His soul, too, is settled down into a deep persuasion of
the misery, wretchedness, and emptiness of the creature;
into the conviction that the world is but a shadow—and
that the things of time and sense are but bubbles that
burst the moment they are grasped—that of all things
sin is most to be dreaded—and the favor of God above

all things most to be coveted—that nothing is really worth
knowing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified—that all
things are passing away—and that he himself is rapidly
hurrying down the stream of life, and into the boundless
ocean of eternity.

Thus he becomes settled in a knowledge of the truth,
and his soul remains at anchor, looking to the Lord to
preserve him here, and bring him in peace and safety
to his eternal home.

 

 

In this scene of confusion and distraction

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
 We do not know what we ought to pray for—but the
 Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words
 cannot express." Romans 8:26

"We do not know what we ought to pray for." How
often do we find and feel this to be our case . . .
  darkness covers our mind;
  ignorance pervades our soul;
  unbelief vexes our spirit;
  guilt troubles our conscience;
  a crowd of evil imaginations, or foolish or worse
  than foolish wanderings distract our thoughts;
  Satan hurls in thick and fast his fiery darts;
  a dense cloud is spread over the mercy-seat;
  infidelity whispers its vile suggestions,
until, amid all this rabble throng, such confusion
and bondage prevail that words seem idle breath,
and prayer to the God of heaven but empty mockery.

In this scene of confusion and distraction, when
all seems going to the wreck—how kind, how gracious
is it in the blessed Spirit to come, as it were, to the
rescue of the poor bewildered saint, and to teach
him how to pray and what to pray for.

He is therefore said "to help our weaknesses," for
these evils of which we have been speaking are not
willful, deliberate sins, but wretched infirmities of
the flesh. He helps, then, our infirmities—by subduing
the power and prevalence of unbelief—by commanding
in the mind a solemn calm—by rebuking and chasing
away Satan and his fiery darts—by awing the soul with
a reverential sense of the power and presence of God—
by presenting Jesus before our eyes as the Mediator at
the right hand of the Father—by raising up and drawing
forth faith upon His Person and work, blood and
righteousness—and, above all, by Himself interceding
for us and in us "with groans that words cannot express."

 

 

His own sore and his own afflictions

"When a prayer or plea is made by any of Your people
 Israel—each one aware of his own sore and his own
 afflictions
, and spreading out his hands toward this
 Temple—then hear from heaven, Your dwelling place.
 Forgive, and deal with each man according to all he
 does, since You know his heart, for You alone know
 the hearts of men." 2 Chronicles 6:29-30

The man for whom Solomon prays is he who
knows and feels, painfully feels, his "own sore"
and his "own afflictions"—whose heart is indeed
a grief to him—whose sins do indeed trouble him.

How painful this sore often is!
How it runs night and day!
How full of ulcerous matter!
How it shrinks from the probe!

Most of the Lord's family have a "sore"—each
some tender spot—something perhaps known
to himself and to God alone—the cause of his
greatest grief. It may be . . .
  some secret slip he has made,
  some sin he has committed,
  some word he has spoken, or
  some evil thing he has done.

He has been entangled, and entrapped, and cast
down—and this is his grief and his sore which he
feels—and that at times deeply before God.

For such Solomon prays, "then hear from heaven,
Your dwelling place. Forgive, and deal with each
man according to all he does, since You know his
heart, for You alone know the hearts of men."
Yes—God alone knows the heart—He knows
it completely—and sees to its very bottom.

 

 

What are we, when we have no trials?

The Lord has appointed the path of sorrow for the
redeemed to walk in. Why? One purpose is to wean
them from the world—another purpose is to show them
the weakness of the creature—a third purpose is to
make them feel the liberty and vitality of genuine
godliness made manifest in their soul's experience.

What are we, when we have no trials?
Light,
frothy,
worldly-minded,
carnal,
frivolous.

We may talk of the things of God, but they
are at a distance—there are . . .
  no solemn feelings,
  no melting sensations,
  no real brokenness,
  no genuine contrition,
  no weeping at the divine feet,
  no embracing of Christ in the arms of affection.

What can bring a man here? A few dry notions
floating to and fro in his brain? That will never
bring the life and power of vital godliness into
a man's heart. It must be by being 'experimentally
acquainted with trouble'. When he is led into the
path of tribulation, he then begins to long after,
and, in God's own time and way, he begins to
drink into, the sweetness of vital godliness,
made manifest in his heart by the power of God.

When affliction brings a man down, it empties
him of all his high thoughts, and lays him low
in his own eyes.

 

 

Spiritual poverty

"Blessed are the poor in spirit." Matthew 5:5

Spiritual poverty is a miserable feeling of soul-
emptiness before God, an inward sinking sensation
that there is nothing in our hearts spiritually good,
nothing which can deliver us from the justly merited
wrath of God, or save us from the lowest hell.

To be poor in spirit, then, is to have this wretched
emptiness of spirit, this nakedness and destitution
of soul before God.

He who has never thus known what it is to groan
before the Lord with breakings forth of heart as a
needy, naked wretch—he that has never felt his
miserable destitution and emptiness before the
eyes of a heart-searching God—has not yet
experienced what it is to be spiritually poor.

 

 

Satisfaction!

"I will satisfy her poor with bread." Psalm 132:15

What a sweetness there is in the word "satisfy!"

The world cannot satisfy the child of God.
Have we not tried, some of us perhaps for
many years, to get some satisfaction from it?

But can wife or husband satisfy us?
Can children or relatives satisfy us?
Can all the world calls good or great satisfy us?
Can the pleasures of sin satisfy us?

Is there not in all an aching void? Do we not reap
dissatisfaction and disappointment from everything
that is of the creature, and of the flesh? Do we not
find that there is little else but sorrow to be reaped
from everything in this world? There is little else to
be gathered from the world but . . .
  disappointment,
  dissatisfaction,
  "vanity and vexation of spirit."

The poor soul looks round upon the world and the
creature—upon all the occupations, amusements
and relations of life—and finds all one melancholy
harvest—so that all it reaps is sorrow, perplexity,
and dissatisfaction
.

Now when a man is brought here—to desire satisfaction,
something to make him happy, something to fill up the
aching void, something to bind up broken bones, bleeding
wounds, and leprous sores—and after he has looked at
everything—at doctrines, opinions, notions, speculations,
forms, rites and ceremonies in religion—at the world with
all its charms—and at self with all its varied workings, and
found nothing but bitterness of spirit, vexation and trouble
in them all, and thus sinks down a miserable wretch—why,
then when the Lord opens up to him something of the bread
of life, he finds a satisfaction in that which he never could
gain from any other quarter.

And that is the reason why the Lord so afflicts his people;
why some carry about with them such weak, suffering
bodies; why some have so many family troubles; why
others are so deeply steeped in poverty; why others have
such rebellious children; and why others are so exercised
with spiritual sorrows that they scarcely know what will
be the end.

It is all for one purpose—to make them miserable out
of Christ—dissatisfied except with gospel food—to render
them so wretched and uncomfortable that God alone can
make them happy, and alone can speak consolation to
their troubled minds.



The religion of a dead professor . . .

How different the religion of a child of God
is, from the religion of a dead professor!

The religion of a dead professor . . .
  begins in self, and ends in self;
  begins in his own wisdom, and ends in his own folly;
  begins in his own strength, and ends in his own weakness;
  begins in his own righteousness, and ends in his own damnation!

There is in him never any going out of soul
after God, no secret dealings with the Lord.

But the child of God, though he is often faint, weary,
and exhausted with many difficulties, burdens and
sorrows—yet he never can be satisfied except in living
union and communion with the Lord of life and glory.

Everything short of that leaves him empty.

All the things of time and sense leave a child of God
unsatisfied. Nothing but vital union and communion
with the Lord of life, to . . .
  feel His presence,
  taste His love,
  enjoy His favor,
  see His glory;
nothing but this will ever satisfy the desires
of ransomed and regenerated souls. This the
Lord indulges His people with.




Have we not leaned upon a thousand things?

"If you lean on Egypt, you will find it to
 be a stick that breaks beneath your weight
 and pierces your hand." Isaiah 36:6

Have we not leaned upon a thousand things?
And what have they proved? Broken reeds that
have run into our hands, and pierced us . . .
our own strength and resolutions,
the world and the church,
sinners and saints,
friends and enemies,
have they not all proved, more or less, broken reeds?
The more we have leaned upon them, like a man
leaning upon a sword, the more have they pierced
our souls.

The Lord Himself has to wean us . . .
  from the world,
  from friends,
  from enemies,
  from self,
in order to bring us to lean upon Himself; and
every prop He will remove, sooner or later, that
we may lean wholly and solely upon His Person,
love, blood, and righteousness.

 


Poor, moping, dejected creatures


We are, most of us, so fettered down by . . .
  the chains of time and sense,
  the cares of life and daily business,
  the weakness of our earthly frame,
  the distracting claims of a family, and
  the miserable carnality and sensuality of our fallen nature,
that we live at best a poor, dragging, dying life.

Many of us are poor, moping, dejected creatures.

We have . . .
  a variety of trials and afflictions,
  a daily cross and
  the continual plague of an evil heart.

We know enough of ourselves to know that in SELF
there is neither help nor hope, and never expect a
smoother path, a better, wiser, holier heart. As then . . .
  the weary man seeks rest,
  the hungry man seeks food,
  the thirsty man seeks drink,
  and the sick man seeks health,
so do we stretch forth our hearts and arms that we
may embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, and sensibly
realize union and communion with Him.
He discovers the evil and misery of sin that we may
seek pardon in His bleeding wounds and pierced side.

He makes known to us our nakedness and shame,
and, as such, our exposure to God's wrath, that we
may hide ourselves under His justifying robe.

He puts gall and wormwood into the world's choicest
draughts, that we may have no sweetness but in and
from Him.

 


No sight, short of this

"He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree."
     1 Peter 2:24

We beg of the Lord, sometimes, to give us . . .
  a broken heart,
  a contrite spirit,
  a tender conscience,
  and a humble mind.

But it is only a view by faith of what the gracious
Redeemer endured upon the cross, when He bore
our sins in his own body with all their weight and
pressure, and with all the anger of God due to them,
that can really melt a hard, and break a stony heart.

No sight, short of this, can make sin felt to be hateful;
bring tears of godly sorrow out of the eyes, sobs of true
repentance out of the breast, and the deepest, humblest
confessions before God as to what dreadful sinners and
base backsliders we have been before the eyes of His
infinite Purity, Majesty, and Holiness.

Oh, what hope is there for our guilty souls; what
refuge from the wrath of God so justly our due;
what shelter from the curse of a fiery law, except
it be in the cross of Jesus?

O for a view of Him revealed to the eyes of our
enlightened understanding, as bearing our sins
in His own body on the tree!

 


The penetrating light of the Spirit

"For God . . . made His light shine in our hearts
 to give us the light of the knowledge of the
 glory of God in the face of Christ." 2 Cor. 4:6

"But you have an anointing from the Holy One,
 and all of you know the truth." 1 John 2:20

The only saving light is the light of God shining
into the soul—giving us to see and know "the only
true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent."

A man may have the clearest light in his judgment,
and yet never have the penetrating light of the Spirit
producing conviction in his soul. He may have the
soundest knowledge of the doctrines of grace, and
see the harmonious scheme of salvation—and yet
never have by divine teaching, seen a holy God, nor
have ever felt the spirituality of God's righteous law
condemning him as a transgressor.

If we do not have this penetrating light of the
Spirit
, we shall be sure to go astray. We shall . . .
  be entangled in some error,
  plunge into some heresy,
  imbibe some doctrine of devils,
  drink into some dreadful delusion,
  or fall into some dreadful sin, and
  have our faith shipwrecked forever.

A false light can but wreck us on the rocks of
presumption or despair. But the light of divine
life in the soul is accompanied with all the
graces of the Spirit. It is . . .
  the light of the glory of God,
  the light of Jesus' countenance,
  and the light of the Spirit's teaching,
and therefore an infallible guide and guard.
And this infallible pilot will guide the soul
to whom it is given safe into the harbor of
endless rest and peace.




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