An apostolic face and a Judas heart

Many think that a minister is exempt from such
coldness, deadness, and barrenness, as private
Christians feel. And the hypocritical looks and
words of many of Satan's ministers favor this
delusion. Holiness is so much on their tongues,
and on their faces, that their deluded hearers
necessarily conclude that it is in their hearts.

But, alas! nothing is easier or more common,
than an apostolic face and a Judas heart.

Most pictures that I have seen of the "Last Supper"
represent Judas with a ferocious countenance. Had
painters drawn a holy, meek-looking face, I believe
they would have given a truer resemblance.

Many pass for angels in the pulpit, who if the truth
were known, would be seen to be devils and beasts
in heart, lip, and life at home.

"How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious
 law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! You are so careful
 to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside
 you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You try
 to look like upright people outwardly, but inside your
 hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness."
       Matthew 23:25, 28

 

A languishing body

(Letters of J. C. Philpot)

(February 1, 1840, to a dying youth)

My dear friend,
A languishing body is a heavy cross.
Sickness
often . . .
  depresses our spirits,
  shatters our nerves, and
  casts a gloom over our minds.

But it is good thus to be weaned and detached,
and gradually loosened from the strong ties that
bind us to earth. I was ill once for many months,
and many thought I would never recover. I found
it a heavy trial, but I believe it was profitable to
my soul
. May the Lord make all your bed in your
sickness, give you many testimonies of His special
favor—and when He sees fit to take down your
earthly tabernacle, remove you to that happy
country
where the inhabitant shall never say,
"I am sick," where tears are wiped away from
all faces, and sorrow and sighing flee away.

May the Lord speedily grant your desires, and
visit your soul with looks of love, rays of mercy,
and beams of tender kindness, so as to smile
you into . . .
  humility,
  resignation,
  patience,
  gratitude,
  contrition,
  love, and
  godly sorrow.

Yours affectionately in the bonds of the gospel,
J. C. Philpot
 


 

A painted bauble

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new
creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
     2 Corinthians 5:17

What a wonderful revolution is effected by
divine teaching and heavenly visitations!

The soul is brought to live in a new world
and breathe a new element. Old things pass
away, and behold, all things become new.

New desires, feelings, hopes, fears, and
exercises arise, and the soul becomes a new
creature. The world appears in its true colors,
as a painted bauble, and as its pleasures are
valued at their due worth, so its good opinion
is little cared for or desired.

What is this poor vain world with all its gilded clay,
deceptive honors and respectability, and soap-bubble
charms—compared to one smile from our loving Savior?

"And this world is fading away, along with
 everything it craves." 1 John 2:17


 

The religion which I want

I am quite sick of modern religion—it is such
a mixture, such a medley, such a compromise.
I find much, indeed, of this religion in my own
heart, for it suits the flesh well—but I would
not have it so, and grieve it should be so.

The religion which I want
is that of the Holy Spirit.

I know nothing but what He teaches me.

I feel nothing but what He works in me.

I believe nothing but what He shows me.

I only mourn when He smites my rocky heart.

I only rejoice when He reveals the Savior.

This religion I am seeking after, though miles and
miles from it—but no other will satisfy or content me.

When the blessed Spirit is not at work in me,
and with me, I fall back into all the . . .
  darkness,
  unbelief,
  earthliness,
  idleness,
  carelessness,
  infidelity, and
  helplessness
of my Adam nature.

True religion is a supernatural and mysterious thing.
 


 

It will matter little when I lie in my coffin!

What does it really matter where we spend
the few years of our pilgrimage here below?

Life is short, vain, and transitory; and if I live
in comfort and wealth, or in comparative poverty,
it will matter little when I lie in my coffin!

This life is soon passing away, and an eternal state
fast coming on! It will greatly matter whether . . .
  our religion was natural or spiritual,
  our faith human or divine,
  our hope a heavenly gift or a spider's web!

But our blind, foolish hearts are so concerned about
things which are but the dust of the balance, and so
little anxious about our all in all.

There is no greater inheritance than to be a son or
daughter of the Lord Almighty. To have a saving
interest in . . .
  the electing love of the Father,
  the redeeming blood of the Son,
  and the sanctifying operations of the Holy Spirit,
is worth a million of worlds! Without such, we must
be eternally miserable; and with it eternally happy.

"For God has reserved a priceless inheritance for His
 children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled,
 beyond the reach of change and decay!" 1 Peter 1:4

 

A little drop of purity in the midst of impurity

How mysterious is the life of God in the soul.
It seems like
a little drop of purity in the midst
of impurity
.

We shall always find sin to be our worst enemy,
and self our greatest foe. We need not fear
anything but sin—nothing else can do us any
real injury. Though the Lord in tender mercy
forgives His erring wandering children, yet He
makes them all deeply feel that indeed it is
an evil and a bitter thing to sin against Him.



If Mr. Pride gets a wound in the head


"Some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry.
 But others preach about Christ with pure motives."
     Philip. 1:15

I hope I can rejoice in the Lord's blessing the labors
of other good men. It is indeed a sad spirit when
ministers are jealous of each other
, and would
rather cavil and find fault with each other, instead
of desiring that the blessing of God might rest
upon them and their labors. Oh that miserable
spirit of detraction and envy, which would gladly
pull others down, that we might stand as it were,
a little higher upon their bodies! Where is there any . . .
  true humility of mind,
  simplicity of spirit,
  brotherly love, or
  an eye to God's glory,
when this wretched spirit is indulged?

If Mr. Pride gets a wound in the head, it will
not be the worse for the grace of humility. 

 

Our greatest enemy

I am more afraid of myself—my lusts and passions,
and strong and horrible corruptions—than of anybody
in the whole world.

SELF is and ever will be our greatest enemy. And
all our enemies would be as weak as water against
us, were we not such vile wretches in ourselves.
 

 

The end will make amends for all!

What a world it is of sin and sorrow!

How everything serves to remind us
that we are all passing away!

I feel for you in your trials and afflictions,
so various, painful, and multiplied. But
dare I wish you free from what the all-wise,
all-gracious Lord lays upon you? Could
He not in a moment remove them all?

Our Father sees fit in His wisdom and mercy
to afflict His children, and we know that He
would not do so unless it were for the good
of their soul. What can we say then? All we
can do is to beg of the Lord that He would
support, comfort, and bless them.

It is in the furnace that we learn our need of
realities, and our own helplessness and inability.
The furnace also brings to our mind the shortness
of life, and how vain all things are here below.

Affliction are sent to . . .

  wean from this world,
  make life burdensome,
  and death desirable.

I well know that the poor coward flesh is fretful
and impatient under afflictions, and would gladly
have a smoother, easier path. But we cannot
choose our own trials
, nor our own afflictions.
All are appointed in fixed weight and measure;
and the promise is that all things shall work
together for good to those who love God.

Wherever we go, and wherever we are, we must
expect trials to arise. But it will be our wisdom
and mercy to submit to what we cannot alter, and
not fret or repine under the trial—but accept it as
sent for our good.

We need trial upon trial, and stroke upon stroke
to bring our soul out of carnality. We slip insensibly
into carnal ease; but afflictions and trials of body
and mind stir us up to some degree of earnestness
in prayer, show us the emptiness and vanity of
earthly things, make us feel the suitability and
preciousness of the Lord Jesus.

The path in which you have been led so many
years is a safe way, though a rough and rugged
way. The end will make amends for all!
 

 

We are no longer young

"My life is but a breath." Job 7:7

"My life passes more swiftly than a runner.
 It flees away, filled with tragedy." Job 9:25

My dear friend,
We are no longer young. Life is, as it were,
slipping from under our feet.
It is a poor life
to live to sin, self, and the world—but it is
a blessed life to live unto the Lord.

I never expect to be free from trial, temptation,
pain, and suffering of one kind or another, while
in this valley of tears
. It will be my mercy if these
things are sanctified to my soul's eternal good.

I cannot choose my own path, nor would I wish
to do so, as I am sure it would be a wrong one.

I desire to be led of the Lord Himself into the way
of peace, and truth, and righteousness—to walk in
His fear, live to His praise, and die in the sweet
experience of His love.

I have many enemies, but fear none so much as
myself
. O may I be kept from all evil and all error,
and do the things which are pleasing in God's sight.

Our days are hastening away swifter than a runner.
Soon with us it will be time no longer, and therefore
how we should desire to live to the Lord, and not
to self!

Yours affectionately in the truth,
J. C. Philpot, June 20, 1861


 

The afflictions of the ungodly

"It was good for me to be afflicted." Ps. 119:71

There is a great difference between the
afflictions of the godly, and the afflictions
of the ungodly
.

To the godly afflictions are a blessing;
but to the ungodly afflictions are a curse.

Afflictions soften the heart of the godly;
but they harden the heart of the ungodly.

In the case of the godly, afflictions . . .
  stir up the grace of prayer,
  wean the heart from the world,
  bring us to Word of God,
  make us consider our latter end,
  give power and reality to divine things,
  show us the emptiness of all creature religion,
  make us look more simply and believingly to
the blessed Lord, to feel how suitable He is to
every want and woe; and that in Him, and in
Him alone, is pardon, acceptance, and peace.

But the afflictions of the ungodly only produce . . .
  sullenness,
  self-pity, and
  rebellion.


 

Like a little child in the arms of eternal love

How I see men deluded and put off with a vain
show, and how few there are, whether ministers
or people, who seem to know anything of the
transforming efficacy of real religion and vital
godliness.

We desire to be more separated from the world
in heart, spirit, and affection; to be spiritually
minded, and to know more of that holiness
without which no man shall see the Lord.

And though we find sin still working in us, and
sometimes as bad as ever, yet our desire is to
have it subdued in its power, as well as purged
away in its guilt and filth.

We have lived to see what the world can do for
us—and found it can only entangle; and what sin
can do—which is to please for a moment and
then bite like an adder.

And we have seen also a little of the Person and
work, blood and righteousness, grace and glory,
blessedness and suitability of the Son of God;
and He has won our heart and affections, so as
at times to be the chief among ten thousand
and the altogether lovely One.

May you experience the sweetness and blessedness
of calmly relying on the faithfulness of God, and lying
like a little child in the arms of eternal love.

Yours very affectionately,
J. C. Philpot


 

The end of God in all His doings and dealings

Blessed are those chastenings and those
teachings which bring us to the feet of Christ,
and by which He is made precious to the soul.

This is the end of God in all His doings and
dealings
with His people—to strip and empty
them wholly of self, and to manifest and make
His dear Son feelingly and experimentally their
All in all. In Him and in Him alone can we, do
we, find either rest or peace.




The only smile worth having

All the vain applause of mortals, and all
that is called popularity, I think little of.
It leaves an aching void, and often a guilty
conscience. The blessing of the Lord makes
rich, and all else is poverty, rags, and shame.

Not he who commends himself is approved,
but whom the Lord commends. God's smile,
not man's, is
the only smile worth having.

The incredible greatness of His power

"I pray that you will begin to understand the incredible
 greatness of His power
to us who believe Him." Eph. 1:19

The work of God on the soul, is a work of sovereign and
omnipotent power! See what a mighty power was put forth in
turning us from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan
unto God; and how it was the outstretched arm of Omnipotence
alone, which could deliver us from the power of darkness and
bring us into the eternal heavenly kingdom.

Consider the difficulties which grace has to overcome,
in the "quickening" of a dead soul into spiritual life. View
the depths of the fall. Contemplate . . .
  the death of the soul in trespasses and sins,
  the thorough alienation from the life of God,
  the darkness, blindness, and ignorance of the understanding,
  the perverseness of the will,
  the hardness of the conscience,
  and the depravity of the affections!

View the soul's . . .
  obduracy, stubbornness and obstinacy;
  its pride, unbelief, infidelity and self-righteousness;
  its passionate love to, habitual practice of, and long
imprisonment to sin. Consider its strong prejudices
against everything godly and holy!

Contemplate the desperate, implacable enmity of the
carnal mind against God Himself—its firm and deep
rooted love to the world, in all its varied shapes and
forms—and remember also how all its hopes, happiness,
and prospects are bound up in the things of time and sense!

O what a complicated mass of difficulties, do all these
foes
form in their firm combination, like a compact, well
armed, thoroughly trained army—against any power which
would seek to dislodge them from their position!

Add to this—all the power, malice, and deceitful arts of
Satan
, as the strong armed man—keeping the palace night
and day, and yielding to none but the stronger than he!

Consider, too, the sacrifices which must often be made
by one who is to live godly in Christ Jesus . . .
  the tenderest ties, perhaps, to be broken;
  the lucrative prospects which have to be abandoned;
  old friends to be renounced;
  family connections to be given up;
  position in life to be lost;
  shame and contempt to be entailed on oneself!

Viewing, then, a soul dead in sin, with all these
difficulties and obstacles
in their complicated array,
must we not pronounce that to be a mighty act of
power
which, in spite of all these apparently invincible
hindrances
, lifts it up and out of them all, into a new
and spiritual life? So fully and thoroughly is this fruit
and effect of omnipotent power, and of omnipotent
power alone, that it is spoken of in the word as . . .
  a new and heavenly birth;
  a new creation;
  a resurrection
—all which terms imply a putting forth of a divine power,
as distinct from and independent of any creature effort.

Contemplate also, the mighty power of God in "maintaining"
divine life in our soul. We have to see and feel . . .
  what mountains of difficulty,
  what seas of temptation,
  what winds and storms of error,
  what assaults and snares of Satan,
  what floods of vileness and ungodliness within and without,
  what strong lusts and passions,
  what secret slips and falls,
  what backslidings and departures from the living God,
  what long seasons of darkness, barrenness, and death,
  what opposition of the flesh to the strait and narrow way,
  what crafty hypocrites, pretended friends, false professors
—all striving to throw down or entangle our steps!

Consider also, what helplessness, inability, and miserable
impotency in ourselves to all that is good; and what headlong
proneness to all that is evil.

We have also to ponder over what we have been and what
we still are
, since we professed to fear God—and how, when
left to ourselves, we have done nothing but sin against and
provoke God to His face!

And thus as read over article by article, this long dark catalogue,
still to have a sweet persuasion that the life of God is in our soul
—we realize, believe, and feel, and bless God for His surpassing,
superabounding grace, in maintaining this divine life in our soul.

"Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound!" Rom. 5:20


 

The miserable dregs of self!

"Accepted in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:6

We are ever looking for something in SELF to make
ourselves acceptable to God. We are often sadly cast
down and discouraged when we cannot find in ourselves . . .
  that holiness,
  that obedience,
  that calm submission to the will of God,
  that serenity of soul,
  that spirituality,
  that heavenly-mindedness,
which we believe to be acceptable in His sight!

Our crooked tempers,
our fretful, peevish minds,
our rebellious thoughts,
our coldness and barrenness,
our alienation from good,
our headlong proneness to evil,
with the daily feeling that we get no better,
but rather worse
—make us think that God
views us just as we view ourselves!

And this brings on great darkness of mind and bondage
of spirit, until we seem to lose sight of our acceptance
in Christ
, and get into the miserable dregs of self—almost
ready to quarrel with God because we are so vile, and only
get worse as we get older!

Now the more we get into these dregs of self, and the more
we keep looking at the dreadful scenes of wreck and ruin
which our heart presents to daily view—the farther do we
get from the grace of the gospel—and the more do we lose
sight of the only ground of our acceptance with God. It is
"in the Beloved" that we are accepted—and not for any . . .
  good words,
  good works,
  good thoughts,
  good hearts, or
  good intentions of our own!

If our acceptance with God depended on anything
in ourselves, we would have to believe we might
be children of God today and children of the devil
tomorrow!

What, then, is to keep us from sinking altogether
into despair, without hope or help? Why, a knowledge
of our acceptance "in the Beloved," independent of
everything in us—good or bad!

"And you are complete in Him!" Colossians 2:10
 


I am full of confusion!

"I am full of confusion!" Job 10:15

God is the great Ruler, Director, and Controller of all things!

We must not look on the varied events that are ever taking
place in this world, as a mere matter of 'chance'—a confused
medley—as though these multitudinous circumstances were
all thrown like marbles into a bag, and thrown back out
without any order or arrangement.

God is a God of order.

In the natural world, the world of creation—all is in order.

In the spiritual world, the world of grace—all is in order.

And in the providential world, the world of providence—all is order also.

To our mind, indeed, all often seems disorder. But this
arises from our ignorance, and from not seeing the whole
as one definitely arranged plan.

If you were to see a weaver working at a loom, and saw
nothing but the threads and needles jumping up in continual
motion, you would see nothing but confusion. Nor could you
form the slightest conception of the pattern which was being
worked. But when the whole was completed, and the silk
taken off the roller—then you would see a pattern arranged
in beautiful order—every thread concurring to form one
harmonious design. But all this was known beforehand
by the artist who designed the pattern, and every
arrangement was made in strict subserviency to it.

But if this is the case as to Gods appointments in
providence, how much more is it true of His glorious
designs in grace. Every . . .
  trial,
  temptation,
  affliction,
  sorrow,
are but the result of a definite plan in His eternal mind!

Yet to us how often all seems confusion! This confusion
is not so much in the things themselves—as in our mind.
Job, when surrounded by trouble, cried out, "I am full of
confusion!
" Yet we can see in reading his history that all
his trials were working toward an appointed end. So every
trial, sorrow, temptation or affliction, which has ever lain,
or ever will lie, in your path—has been marked out by
infinite, unerring wisdom!


Is not the commonest road laid out according to a
definite plan? And does not the surveyor, when he
lays it out, put every mile-stone in its proper place?

So, does not the Lord lay out beforehand the road in
which His people should walk? And does He not put a
trial here and a sorrow there—an affliction at this
turning and a cross at that corner? All is definitely
planned in His infinite wisdom, to bring the traveler
safely home to Zion!
 

 

What vain toys!

"This world is fading away, along with everything
 it craves! But the man who does the will of God
 lives forever." 1 John 2:17

Compared with spiritual and eternal blessings, we
see how vain and empty are all earthly things.

What vain toys!

What idle dreams!

What passing shadows!


We wonder at the folly of men in hunting after
such vain shows—and spending time, health,
money, and life itself, in a pursuit of nothing
but misery and destruction!

We care little for the opinion of men as to what
is good or great—but much for what God has
stamped His own approval upon, such as . . .
  a tender conscience,
  a broken heart,
  a contrite spirit,
  a humble mind,
  a separation from the world,
  a submission to His holy will,
  a meek endurance of the cross,
  a conformity to Christ's suffering image,
  and a living to God's glory.
 

"This world is fading away, along with everything
 it craves! But the man who does the will of God
 lives forever." 1 John 2:17
 

 

Dying

"As dying, and, behold, we live!"
    2 Corinthians 6:9

Though we die, and die daily, yet, behold,
we live. And in a sense, the more we die,
the more we live.

The more we die to self,
the more we die to sin.

The more we die to pride and self-righteousness,
the more we die to creature strength.

The more we die to sinful nature,
the more we live to grace.

This runs all the way through the
life and experience of a Christian.
Nature must die—that grace may live.

The weeds must be plucked up,
that the crop may grow.

The flesh be starved,
that the spirit may be fed.

The old man put off,
that the new man may be put on.

The deeds of the body be mortified,
that the soul may live unto God.

As then we die—we live.

The more we die to our own strength,
the more we live to Christ's strength.

The more we die to creature hope,
the more we live to a good hope through grace.

The more we die to our own righteousness,
the more we live to Christ's righteousness.

The more we die to the world,
the more we live to and for heaven.

This is the grand mystery, that the Christian
is always dying—yet always living. And the
more he dies—the more he lives.

The death of the flesh,
is the life of the spirit.

The death of sin,
is the life of righteousness.

The death of the creature,
is the very life of God in the soul.

"As dying, and, behold, we live."
    2 Corinthians 6:9

 

If you are at home in the world

"We are here for only a moment, sojourners and
 strangers in the land
as our ancestors were
 before us. Our days on earth are like a shadow,
 gone so soon without a trace." 1 Chron. 29:15

If you possess the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and,
Jacob, you, like them, confess that you are a
stranger; and your confession springs out of a
believing heart and a sincere experience.

You feel yourself a stranger in this ungodly world.

It is not your element.

It is not your home.

You are in it during God's appointed time, but
you wander up and down this world . . .

  a stranger to its company,
  a stranger to its maxims,
  a stranger to its fashions,
  a stranger to its principles,
  a stranger to its motives,
  a stranger to its lusts,
  a stranger to its inclinations, and all in which
this world moves as in its native element.

Grace has separated you by God's sovereign power,
that though you are in the world, you are not of it.

I can tell you plainly—if you are at home in the
world
; if the things of time and sense are your
element; if you feel one with . . .
    the company of the world,
    the maxims of the world,
    the fashions of the world, and
    the principles of the world
—grace has not reached your heart, the faith
of God's elect does not dwell in your bosom.

The first effect of grace is to separate.

It was so in the case of Abraham. He was called
by grace to leave the land of his fathers, and go
out into a land that God would show him. And so
God's own word to His people is now, "Come out
from among them, and be separate, says the Lord,
and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive
you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall
be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."

Separation, separation, separation from the world
is the grand distinguishing mark of vital godliness.

There may be indeed separation of body where there
is no separation of heart. But what I mean is . . .
  separation of heart,
  separation of principle,
  separation of affection,
  separation of spirit.

And if grace has touched your heart, and you are
a partaker of the faith of God's elect, you are a
stranger in the world, and will make it manifest
by your life and conduct that you are such.

 

O what crowds of pitiable objects!

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with
 confidence—so that we may receive mercy and
 find grace to help us in our time of need!"
    Hebrews 4:16

What heart can conceive, or tongue recount—the
daily, hourly triumphs of the Lord Jesus Christ's
all conquering grace?

We see scarcely a millionth part of what He, as a
King on His throne, is daily doing. What a crowd of
needy petitioners every moment surrounds His throne!

What urgent needs and woes to answer!

What cutting griefs and sorrows to assuage!

What broken hearts to bind up!

What wounded consciences to heal!

What countless prayers to hear!

What earnest petitions to grant!

What stubborn foes to subdue!

What guilty fears to quell!

What grace,
what kindness,
what patience,
what compassion,
what mercy,
what love,
what power,
what authority,
does this Almighty Sovereign display!

No circumstance is too trifling;
no petitioner too insignificant;
no case too hard;
no difficulty too great;
no seeker too importunate;
no beggar too ragged;
no bankrupt too penniless;
no debtor too insolvent,
for Him not to notice and not to relieve.

Sitting on His throne of grace . . .
  His all seeing eye views all,
  His almighty hand grasps all,
 and His loving heart embraces all whom the
Father chose—whom He himself redeemed by
His blood—and whom the blessed Spirit has
quickened into life by His invincible power!

The hopeless;
the helpless;
the outcasts whom no man cares for;
the tempest-tossed and not comforted;
the ready to perish;
the mourners in Zion;
the bereaved widow;
the wailing orphan;
the sick in body;
the still more sick in heart;
the racked with hourly pain;
the wrestler with death's last struggle.

O what crowds of pitiable objects
surround His throne—and all needing . . .
  a look from His eye,
  a word from His lips,
  a smile from His face,
  a touch from His hand!

O could we but see what His grace is—what His
grace has—what His grace does—and could we
but feel more what it is doing in and for ourselves,
we would have more exalted views of the reign of
grace now exercised on high, by Zion's enthroned
King!

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with
 confidence—so that we may receive mercy and
 find grace to help us in our time of need!"
    Hebrews 4:16
 

 

Have we not leaned upon a thousand things?

"You are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed
 of a staff, which pierces a man's hand and wounds
 him if he leans on it!" Isaiah 36:6

Have we not leaned upon a thousand things?
And what have they proved? Splintered 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, splintered 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 sooner or later remove—that
we may lean wholly and solely upon His Person,
love, death, and righteousness!
 


 

Nothing but this can really break the sinner's heart!

To view God's mercy in its real character, we must
go to Calvary! We must go by faith, under the secret
teachings and leadings of the Holy Spirit, to see
Immanuel, God with us, groveling in Gethsemane's
garden. We must view Him . . .
  naked upon the cross,
  groaning,
  bleeding,
  agonizing,
  dying!

We must view that wondrous spectacle of love and
suffering
—and feel our eyes flowing down in streams
of sorrow, humility, and contrition at the sight—in order
to enter a little into the depths of the tender mercy
of God.

Nothing but this can really break the sinner's heart!

Law terrors, death and judgment, infinite purity, and
eternal vengeance will not soften or break a sinner's
heart. But if he is led to view a suffering Immanuel,
and a sweet testimony is raised up in his conscience
that those sufferings were for him—this, and this
alone will break his heart all to pieces!



The flesh

"That which is born of the flesh is flesh." John 3:6

There is no promise made that in this life, we shall be
set free from the indwelling and the in-working of sin.

Many think that their flesh is to become "progressively
holier and holier"—that sin after sin is to be removed
gradually out of the heart—until at last they are almost
made perfect in the flesh.  But this is an idle dream,
and one which, sooner or later will be crudely and
roughly broken to pieces.

The flesh will ever remain the same—and we shall ever
find that the flesh will lust against the Spirit. Our fleshly
nature is corrupt to the very core. It cannot be mended.
It cannot be sanctified. It is the same at the last, as it
was at the first—inherently evil, and as such will never
cease to be corrupt until we put off mortality—and with
it the body of sin and death.

All we can hope for, long after, expect, and pray for—is
that this evil fleshly nature may be subdued, kept down,
mortified, crucified, and held in subjection under the power
of grace.  But as to any such change passing upon the flesh
—or taking place in the flesh as to make it holy—it is but a
pharisaic delusion, which, promising a holiness in the flesh,
leaves us still under the power of sin.

The true sanctification of the new man of grace—which is
wrought by a divine power—is utterly distinct from any
imagined holiness in the flesh—or any vain dream of its
progressive sanctification.



 

Only one hand can ease the trouble

"The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
 a refuge in times of trouble!" Psalm 9:9

Do you not see how the Scriptures always put
together the malady and the remedy? How they
unfold the promises as suitable to certain states
and cases of soul? And how all the perfections of
God are adapted to His people only so far as they
are brought into peculiar circumstances? This vein
runs through all the Scripture.

So here the Lord is declared to be a refuge. But when?
"In times of trouble!" We do not need Him to be a refuge
when there is no trouble. Shall I use the expression
without irreverence—'We can do without Him then.'
We can . . .
  love the world,
  amuse ourselves with the things of time and sense,
  let our heads go astray after perishing, transitory vanities,
  set up an idol in our heart,
  bow down before a 'golden god',
  have our affections wholly fixed on those naturally dear to us,
  get up in the morning, pass through the day,
  and lie down at night—very well without God.

But when times of trouble come, when afflictions lie
heavily upon us, when we are brought into those scenes
of tribulation through which we must pass to arrive at
the heavenly Canaan; then we need something more
than flesh and blood; then we need something more
than the perishing creature can unfold; then we need
something more than this vain world can amuse us with!

We then need God! We need His everlasting arms to
be underneath our souls; we need His consolations;
we need something from the Lord's own lips dropped
with the Lord's own power into our hearts!

These times of soul trouble make God's people know
that the Lord is their refuge. If I am in soul trouble;
if my heart is surcharged with guilt; if my conscience
is lacerated with the pangs of remorse—
Can the creature give me relief?
Can friends dry the briny tear?
Can they still the convulsive sigh?
Can they calm the troubled breast?
Can they pour oil and wine into the bleeding conscience?

No! They are utterly powerless in the matter!

They may increase our troubles, and they often, like
Job's friends, do so! But they cannot alleviate it!

Only one hand can ease the trouble—the same hand
which laid it on! Only one hand can heal the wound;
the same which mercifully inflicted it!

Now, in these times of soul trouble, if ever we have
felt them—we shall make the Lord our refuge.

There is no other to go to! We may try every arm but
His—we may look every way but the right way—and
we may lean upon every staff but the true one. But,
sooner or later, we shall be brought to this spot—that
none but the Lord God Almighty, who made heaven and
earth, who brought our souls and bodies into being, who
has kept and preserved us to the present hour, who is
around our bed, and about our path, and spies out all
our ways, and who has sent his dear Son to pay for our
sin—that none but this eternal Creator, Preserver, and
Redeemer, who made and upholds heaven and earth—
can speak peace, pardon, and consolation to our hearts!

How sweet it is in these times of trouble to have a God to
go to; to feel that there are everlasting arms to lean upon;
that there is a gracious ear into which we may pour our
afflictions; that there is a heart, a sympathizing heart, in
the bosom of the Lord of life and glory, which feels for us;
to know that there is a hand to relieve, and to experience,
at times, relief from that Almighty and gracious hand!

 


The afflictions the Lord sends on His people


"You have afflicted me with all Your waves." Psalm 88:7

Jesus was a man of sufferings—a man of sorrows
and acquainted with grief. And His people, in their
measure, must have the same. The Lord has
appointed it should be so. He has chosen His Zion
in the furnace of affliction. There is no escape.

The afflictions the Lord sends on His people are
of varied kinds. The Lord sees necessary to send
afflictions suitable to the case, state and condition
of each. What might be an affliction to one might
not be so to another. Each must carry his own
affliction. Each must bear his own load, and each
endure his own appointed lot.

So a wise God sees exactly what affliction to
lay on each and all . . .
  when it shall come,
  where it shall come,
  why it shall come,
  how it shall come,
  how it shall work,
  what it shall work,
  how long it shall last,
  when it shall be put on,
  and when taken off. 

In these matters the Lord acts as a sovereign.

We did not choose of what parents we would
be born, nor our situation in life; neither had
we any choice of our stature or skin color.

Likewise, the Lord appointed all our afflictions
for us—and when He puts them on, no human
arm can take them off
!

He knows our constitution and troubles—our
characteristics and the minutest things relating
to our situation in life. The Lord knows all our
concerns. Therefore He lays on each individual
the very affliction He sees that individual needs;
no greater, no less—exactly the very affliction
which shall bring about the very appointed purpose
intended by God to be brought about, which shall
be for the soul's good and God's own glory.


 

Who is this coming up from the wilderness?

"Who is this coming up from the wilderness,
 leaning upon her Beloved?"
Song of Sol. 8:5

A saved sinner is a spectacle for angels to contemplate!

That a sinful man who deserves nothing but the eternal
wrath of God, should be lifted out of justly merited
perdition, into salvation to which he can have no claim,
must indeed ever be a holy wonder!

And that you or I should ever have been fixed on in
the electing love of God; ever have been given to
Jesus to redeem; ever quickened by the Spirit to
feel our lost, ruined state; ever blessed with any
discovery of the Lord Jesus Christ and of His saving
grace—this is and ever must be a matter of holy
astonishment here—and will be a theme for endless
praise hereafter!

To see a man altogether so different from what
he once was—
once so careless, carnal, ignorant,
unconcerned—to see that man now upon his knees
begging for mercy, the tears streaming down his
face, his bosom heaving with convulsive sighs, his
eyes looking upward that pardon may reach him in
his desperate state—is not that a man to be looked
at with wonder and admiration?

To see another who might have pushed his way in
the busy, bustling scenes of life—who might have
had honors, riches, and everything the world had
to bestow heaped upon his head—abandon all for
Jesus' sake, and with Moses, "esteem the reproach
of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt,"
is not that man a wonder?

To live while here on earth in union and communion
with an invisible God—to talk to Jesus, whom the eye
of sense has never seen, and whose voice the ear of
sense has never heard—and yet to see Him as sensibly
by the eye of faith as though the natural eye rested
upon His glorious Person, and to hear His voice speaking
into the inmost heart, as plainly and clearly as though
the sound of His lips met the natural ear—is not that
a wonder also?

To see a man preferring one smile from the face of
Jesus, and one word from His peace-speaking lips,
above all the titles, honors, pleasures, and power
that the world can bestow—why surely if there is
a wonder upon earth, that man is one!

May we not, then, say with admiring as well as
wondering eyes, "Who is this?"

"Why, this man I knew—worldly, proud, ambitious,
self-seeking. That man I knew given up to vanity
and pride. Another man I knew buried in politics,
swallowed up in pleasure and gaiety, abandoned
to everything vile and sensual. But he has now
become prayerful, watchful, tender-hearted,
choosing the company of God's people, giving up
everything that his carnal mind once approved
of and delighted in
; and manifesting in his walk,
conversation, and whole deportment that he is
altogether a new creature."

Whenever we see any of those near and dear to us . . .
  touched by the finger of this all-conquering Lord,
  subdued by His grace,
  and wrought upon by His Spirit,
then not only do we look upon such with holy wonder,
but with the tenderest affection, mingled with the tears
of thankful praise to the God of all our mercies.

"Who is this coming up from the wilderness,
 leaning upon her Beloved?" Song of Sol. 8:5
 


 

The scale!


"What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole
 world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give
 in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:26

Put your soul in one side of the scale—and put all that
the world calls good and great
in the other side. Think
of everything that the heart of man can desire—riches,
honor, pleasure, power. Heap it up well! Fill one side of
the scale until there is no room for more. Put in . . .
  all the gold of Australia,
  all the diamonds of India,
  all the delights of youthful love,
  all the pleasures . . .
    of wife and home,
    of children and friends,
    of health and strength,
    of name and fame.
Put in all that the natural mind of man deems the
height of happiness, and everything that may weigh
this side of the scale down.

Now, when you have filled this side of the scale, put your
soul into the other side—the state of your soul for all eternity.
Represent to yourself your deathbed—hold the scale with
dying hands as lying just at the brink of eternity. See how
the scale now hangs!

What if you had the whole world that you have put into
the scale, and could call it all your own—but at that solemn
hour felt that your soul was forever lost—that you were dying
under the wrath of God—and there was nothing before you but
an eternity of misery! At such a moment as this, what could
you put in the scale equal to the weight of your immortal soul?

Take the scale again. Put into one side, every affliction,
trial, sorrow, and distress that imagination can conceive,
or tongue express. Let them all be yours . . .
  distress of mind,
  pain of body,
  poverty of circumstances,
  contempt from man,
  assaults from Satan,
  Job's afflictions,
  Jacob's bereavements,
  David's persecutions,
  Jeremiah's prison,
  Hezekiah's sickness.
Put into this side of the scale everything that makes life
naturally miserable—and then put into the other side, a
saved soul.

Surely, as in the case of worldly honors, and riches,
and happiness—a lost soul must weigh them all down!

So in the case of afflictions and sorrows and troubles
—a saved soul must weigh them all down too!
 


 

We are not to set our affections on them!

"Set your affections on things above, not on things
 on the earth.
" Col. 3:2

Naturally we have no affection for anything else.

There is no such thing as a spiritual desire or a
heavenly affection in our soul, when we are in a
state of unregeneracy. So fallen are we that we
love, and cannot but love the world, and the things
of the world. We have no heart for anything but
the things of time and sense. No, rather, as our
carnal mind is enmity against God, we hate
everything which is spiritual, heavenly, and holy.


One main part, therefore, of the work of God upon
the soul, is to take off our affections from these
earthly things—and to fix them upon Jesus where
He sits enthroned above—that we may love and
hate those same things which He loves and hates.

Our affections are not to be set upon things on the
earth. Business, worldly cares, the interests of our
family, the things of time and sense—in whatever
form they come, whatever shape they may assume,
must not so entwine themselves around our
affections as to bind them down to the earth.

We may use them for the support and sustentation
of our life—but we must not abuse them. We are not
to set our affections on them!


Houses,
gardens,
land,
property,
friends,
family;
all these earthly things we are not to set our affections
on—so that they become idols. Thus any lovely object
may be foul—because turned to an idol.

It may be but a flower—and yet be an idol.

It may be a darling child whom everybody admires for its
beauty and attractiveness—yet it may be a defiling idol.

A cherished project may be an idol.

A crop of wheat,
a flock of sheep,
a good farm,
a thriving business,
the respect of the world,
may all be defiling idols—for all these things, when
eagerly pursued and loved, draw the soul away from
God, and by drawing it insensibly from Him, bring
pollution and guilt into the conscience.

Now we are, or by grace in due time shall be, weaned
and divorced from earth with all its charms and pleasures
and all its polluting idols.

"Dear children, keep yourselves from idols!" 1 John 5:21

"I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from
 all your idols!" Ezekiel 36:25
 


 

Snares, traps, baits!

The Lord's people are, from time to time, deeply
exercised with the power of sin
. They find such
ungodly lusts—they feel such horrid evils—the
corruptions of their hearts are laid so naked and
bare—and they find in themselves such a reckless
propensity to all wickedness. They feel sin so
strong
—and themselves so weak!

O how many of the Lord's people are tempted with
sin morning, noon, and night! How many evils, horrid
evils, are opening, as it were, their jaws to wholly
swallow them up! Wherever they go, wherever they
turn, snares, traps, baits seem lying on every side
—strewed thickly in their path!

They feel so helpless—and so inwardly sensible that
nothing but the almighty power of God can uphold them
as they walk in this dangerous path—a path strewed with
snares on every hand—that they are made to cry to the
Lord, "Hold me up, and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117

Nothing short of God's salvation . . .
  in its freeness,
  in its fullness,
  in its divine manifestation,
  in its sin-subduing, lust-killing influence,
can save them from the power of sin!

"Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called
 you by name—you are Mine! When you go through deep
 waters and great trouble—I will be with you! When you
 go through rivers of difficulty—you will not drown! When
 you walk through the fire of oppression—you will not be
 burned up—the flames will not consume you. For I am
 the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel—your Savior!"
    Isaiah 43:1-3
 


 

The wilderness

"Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead
her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her."
    Hosea 2:14

The children of God would not voluntarily go into the
wilderness
—it is a place too barren for them to enter,
except as allured in a special manner by the grace of
God, and led by the power of God.

Nor do they for the most part know where the Lord
is taking them. They follow His drawings; they are
led by His allurings; they listen to His persuading
voice, trusting to Him as to an unerring Guide.

But they do not know the 'place of barrenness' into which
He is bringing them—this the Lord usually conceals from
their eyes. He allures and they follow, but He does not
tell them what He is going to do with them, or where
He intends to take them. He hides His gracious purposes,
that He may afterwards bring them more clearly to light.

Look at the place where He brings His people—the
wilderness
. This is a type and figure much used by
the Holy Spirit, and conveys to us much deep and
profitable instruction.

The wilderness is an isolated, solitary spot, far, far
away from cities, and towns, and other busy haunts of
men—a remote and often dreary abode, where there is
no intruding eye to mark the wanderer's steps, where
there is no listening ear to hear his sighs and cries.
The Lord, when He puts forth His sacred power upon
the heart, to allure His people into the wilderness,
brings them into a spot where in solitude and silence
they may be separated from everyone but Himself.

The 'wilderness', we take as an emblem of being alone
with God—coming out of the world, away from sin and
worldly company, out of everything carnal, sensual, and
earthly, and being brought into that solemn spot where
there are secret, sacred, and solitary dealings with God.




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