Grace Gems for MARCH 2004

What are all the gilded toys of time?

(J. C. Philpot, "Letters and Memoirs" 1852)

What are all the gilded toys of time compared
with the solemn, weighty realities of eternity!

But, alas! what wretches are we when left to . . .
    self, and

How unable to withstand the faintest breath of temptation!

How bent upon backsliding!

Who can fathom the depths of the human heart?

Oh, what but grace, superabounding grace,
can either suit or save such wretches?

That dear, idolized creature

(J. C. Philpot, "Crucifixion with Christ" 1860)

"I have been crucified with Christ.
 Nevertheless I live." Galatians 2:20

The crucifixion of self is indispensable to following Christ.

What is so dear to a man as himself?

Yet this beloved self is to be crucified.

Whether it be . . .
  proud self,
  or ambitious self,
  or selfish self,
  or covetous self,
  or, what is harder still, religious self;
that dear, idolized creature, which has
been the subject of so much . . .
this fondly loved self has to be taken out of
our bosom by the hand of God, and nailed to
Christ's cross! The same grace which pardons
sin also subdues it!

To be crucified with Christ! To have everything
that the flesh loves and idolizes put to death!
How can a man survive such a process?

"Nevertheless I live!"

As the world, sin, and self are crucified, subdued,
and subjugated by the power of the cross, the life
of God springs up with new vigor in the soul.

Here, then, is the great secret of vital godliness:
that the more that sin and self, and the world are
mortified, the more do holiness and spirituality of
mind, heavenly affections and gracious desires
spring up and flourish in the soul.

O! blessed death! O! still more blessed life!

"I have been crucified with Christ.
 Nevertheless I live." Galatians 2:20


Who will shout the loudest in glory?
(Mary Winslow)

I wish only to live to show my love to Him, and
to manifest the power of His grace in one who
in herself is one lump of sin and defilement.

How marvelous that the Lord should select out
of the mass of the world's sinful beings such a
one as myself to show forth the power of His
redeeming love and grace!

Every fresh manifestation of this love breaks the
heart, and humbles the soul even to the dust!

Time is hastening us on, and the moment will
quickly come when our dearest Friend will claim
us as His own and for Himself. Then we shall
see Him face to face; and who will shout the
loudest in glory?

I think I shall. For, what has He not forgiven me?

No tongue can tell how my heart goes out, at times,
in wondering gratitude and adoring love towards Him.

Such is the Lord Jesus that angels themselves know not
half His worth. It is sinners, poor sinners like myself;
helpless, lost, ruined in themselves; who alone can
appreciate the glorious finished work of Jesus.

My soul at this moment; weeping while I write; rejoices
with joy unspeakable and full of glory in God my Savior.

Let us live as candidates for a crown of glory.

This will keep us above the trials and the trifles of time.


Unquenched, unquenchable!

(J. C. Philpot "Love in its Priceless Value
and Unquenchable Strength", 1862)

"Many waters cannot quench love; neither
 can floods drown it.
" Song of Solomon 8:7

The bride uses a figure which shall express the
insuperable strength of divine love against all
opposition; and she therefore compares it to
a fire which burns and burns unquenched and
unquenchable, whatever be the amount of water
poured upon it. Thus the figure expresses the
flame of holy love which burned in the heart of
the Redeemer as unquenchable by any opposition
made to it.

How soon is earthly love cooled by opposition! A
little ingratitude, a few hard speeches, cold words
or even cold looks, seem often almost sufficient to
quench love that once shone warm and bright. And
how often, too, even without these cold waters thrown
upon it, does it appear as if ready to die out by itself.

But the love of Christ was unquenchable by all those
waters. Not all the ingratitude, unbelief, or coldness
of His people could quench His eternal love to them!

He knew what the Church was in herself,
and ever would be . . .
  how cold and wandering her affections,
  how roving her desires,
  how backsliding her heart!

But all these waters could not extinguish His love!

It still burnt as a holy flame in His bosom,
unquenched, unquenchable!

"Many waters cannot quench love; neither
 can floods drown it.
" Song of Solomon 8:7


He can crawl like a serpent,
and he can roar like a lion!

(J. C. Philpot, "The Thorn in the Flesh, or
 Strength Made Perfect in Weakness")

"So that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are
 very familiar with his evil schemes." 2 Cor. 2:11

Satan well knows both how to allure and how to
attack; for he can crawl like a serpent, and he
can roar like a lion!
He has snares whereby he
entangles, and fiery darts whereby he impales.

Most men are easily led captive by him at his will,
ensnared without the least difficulty in the traps
that he lays for their feet; for they are as ready
to be caught as he is to catch them! Why would
Satan need to roar against them as a lion, if he
can wind himself around them and bite them as
a serpent?


Hear the voice of love in the rod

(Octavius Winslow, "Morning Thoughts")

"I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right,
 and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me."
    Psalm 119:75.

The mark of a vigorous love to God is when the
soul justifies God in all His wise and gracious
dealings with it—when it rebels not, murmurs not,
repines not—but meekly and silently acquiesces
in the dispensation, be it ever so trying.

Divine love in the heart, deepening and expanding
towards that God from where it springs, will, in the
hour of trial, exclaim, "My God has smitten me, but
He is my God still, faithful and loving. My Father
has chastened me sorely
, but He is my Father
still, tender and kind. This trying dispensation . . .
  originated in love,
  speaks with the voice of love,
  bears with it the message of love,
and is sent to draw my heart closer and yet
closer to the God of love, from whom it came."

Dear reader, are you one of the Lord's afflicted ones?

Happy are you if this is the holy and blessed result of
His dealings with you. Happy if you hear the voice of
love in the rod
, winning your lonely and sorrowful heart
to the God from whom it came.

All glory to the gospel of Free Grace!

(Henry Law, "The Raven" 1869)

Christ is the sum and substance of the Bible!

Christ . . .
  accepted of God.

Christ wondrous in His person, the mighty
God, therefore infinitely glorious to save.

Christ loving from everlasting to
everlasting, with love knowing . . .
  no origin,
  no end,
  no intermission,
  no degrees;
with love always . . .
  unchangeably the same,

Christ hanging on the accursed tree, laying
down His life a sufficient ransom price.

Christ by His death . . .
  closing the gates of hell,
  quenching God's fiery wrath,
  paying all demands,
  satisfying every claim,
  glorifying every attribute,
  washing out each crimson stain of all His ransomed flock.

Christ gloriously fulfilling every iota of the glorious
Law, saying to each command, 'I fully have obeyed';
and then transferring the vicarious obedience, as
divine righteousness, to His bride the Church, as
her robe for heaven; her luster in the courts above.

Christ purchasing the Holy Spirit, and sending
Him to bless the Church with all His powers . . .
  to teach,
  to sanctify,
  to comfort,
  to adorn,
  to beautify.

Christ rising from the grave, a proof that God is
satisfied, and all redemption fully earned; a pledge
that the ransomed in their turn shall put on the
beauties of a resurrection body, worthy of a
resurrection state.

Christ ascending . . .
  to the right hand of the Majesty on high;
  representing all His people in Himself;
  bearing their names upon His heart;
  receiving all gifts for them;
  pouring down all blessings on them.

Christ coming . . .
  to institute a glorious reign,
  to change the living,
  to raise the dead,
  to execute eternal judgment,
  to fill all heaven with glory,
  to awaken the eternal song of never ending hallelujahs!

O my soul, what a flood of tidings of great joy!

All things are yours!

The world!

Things present!

Things to come!

All are yours!

All glory to the gospel of Free Grace!

This unravels the mystery!

(Octavius Winslow, "Christ, the Counselor")

The path of providence is often paved with
difficulties, and beset with perplexities with
which we can ill cope.

Our way to heaven is through an intricate
wilderness and across a circuitous desert.

To many even of the Lord's people this is
literally the case. Visit their abodes, and
ponder the struggle passing within. All is . . .
  poverty and discomfort,
  penury of bread,
  scantiness of clothing,
  pining sickness,
  loathsome disease,
  excruciating suffering,
  with no human friends,
  no soothing alleviation,
  no earthly comforts.

And yet not entirely unrelieved is this dark picture.

Christ dwells in that obscure abode!

God's eye is watching over it!

There is . . .
  gnawing poverty, and yet boundless wealth;
  deep need, and yet a rich supply;
  acute suffering, and yet exquisite pleasure;
  keen sorrow, and yet unspeakable joy.

And why these paradoxes?

How are we to understand these strange contradictions?

The apostle gives us a clue in a page of his own history.
"As unknown, and yet well known;
 as dying, and, behold, we live;
 as chastened, and not killed;
 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;
 as poor, yet making many rich;
 as having nothing, yet possessing all things."

This unravels the mystery!

The possession of Christ explains it! He who has Christ
in him, and Christ with him, and the hope of being forever
with Christ in glory, is not a poor, nor a sorrowful, nor a
suffering, nor a lonely man. He can say, "I am not alone,
for my Father is with me! I am not poor, for all things
are mine! My body is diseased, but my soul is in health!
I have all and abound!"

Can we for a moment doubt His perfect power . . .
  to undertake all the cares,
  to cope with all the difficulties,
  to solve all the doubts, and
  to disentangle all the perplexities brought to
Him by His saints in all places and at all times!

"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

If you want to see what sin really is

(Philpot, "Sin Condemned and Righteousness Fulfilled")

To cast the sinning angels out of heaven;
to banish Adam from Paradise;
to destroy the old world by a flood;
to burn Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from heaven–
these examples of God's displeasure against sin were
not sufficient to express His condemnation of it. He
would therefore take another way of making it manifest.

And what was this?

By sending His own Son out of His bosom, and offering
Him as a sacrifice for sin upon the tree at Calvary, He
would make it manifest how He abhorred sin, and how
His righteous character must forever condemn it.

See here the love of God to poor guilty man in not
sparing His own Son; and yet the hatred of God against
sin, in condemning it in the death of Jesus.

It is almost as if God said, "If you want to see what
sin really is
, you cannot see it in the depths of hell. I
will show you sin in blacker colors still– you shall see
it in the sufferings of My dear Son; in His agonies of
body and soul; and in what He as a holy, innocent
Lamb endured under My wrath, when He consented
to take the sinner's place."

What wondrous wisdom,
what depths of love,
what treasures of mercy,
what heights of grace
were thus revealed and brought to light in God's
unsparing condemnation of sin, and yet in His
full and free pardon of the sinner!

If you have ever had a view by faith of the suffering
Son of God in the garden and upon the cross; if you
have ever seen the wrath of God due to you, falling
upon the head of the God-Man; and viewed a bleeding,
agonizing Immanuel; then you have seen and felt in
the depths of your conscience what a dreadful thing
sin is. 
Then the broken-hearted child of God looks
unto Him whom he has pierced, and mourns and grieves
bitterly for Him, as for a firstborn son who has died.

Under this sight he feels what a dreadful thing sin is.

"Oh," he says, "did God afflict His dear Son? Did
Jesus, the darling of God, endure all these sufferings
and sorrows to save my soul from the bottomless pit?
O, can I ever hate sin enough? Can I ever grieve and
mourn over it enough? Can my stony heart ever be
dissolved into contrition enough, when by faith I see
the agonies, and hear the groans of the suffering,
bleeding Lamb of God?"

Christians hate their sins. They hate that sinful, that
dreadfully sinful flesh of theirs which has so often,
which has so continually, betrayed them into sin.
And thus they join with God in passing condemnation
upon the whole of their flesh; upon all its actings and
workings; upon all its thoughts and words and deeds;
and hate it as the prolific parent of that sin which
crucified Christ, and torments and plagues them.

Christ is never fully valued

(J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Luke" 1858)

Christ is never fully valued, until sin is
clearly seen. We must know the depth
and malignity of our disease, in order
to appreciate the great Physician.

The hard-hearted, cold-blooded,
wise-headed professor

(J. C. Philpot, "Deliverance from Death")

We are surrounded with snares.

Temptations lie spread every moment in our path.

These snares and these temptations are so suitable
to the lusts of our flesh, that we would certainly fall
into them, and be overcome by them, but for the
restraining providence or the preserving grace of God.
The Christian sees this; the Christian feels this.

The hard-hearted, cold-blooded, wise-headed
sees no snares. He is entangled in
them, he falls by them, and not repenting of his
sins or forsaking them, he makes utter shipwreck
concerning the faith.

The child of God . . .
  sees the snare,
  feels the temptation,
  knows the evil of his heart,
and is conscious that if God does not
hold him up, he shall stumble and fall.

As then a burnt child dreads the fire, so he
dreads the consequence of being left for a
moment to himself; and the more is he
afraid that he shall fall.

If his eyes are more widely opened to see . . .
  the purity of God,
  the blessedness of Christ,
  the efficacy of atoning blood,
  and the beauties of holiness,
the more also does he see the evil of sin, the dreadful
consequences of being entangled therein. And not only
so, but his own helplessness and weakness and inability
to stand against temptation in his own strength.

And all these feelings combine to raise up a more
earnest cry, "Hold me up, and I shall be safe!"


Entwined with crosses?

(Thomas Reade, "Christian Meditations")

Our most endeared enjoyments are transitory,
and mixed up with many cares. If we cultivate
the rose and admire its blushing leaves and
sweet perfume, the prickly thorn protects it.
If we would possess the honeyed hive, it is
guarded by a thousand stings.

Truly our comforts are entwined with crosses.

This world is not our rest.

"How vain are all things here below,
 How false, and yet how fair.
 Each pleasure has its poison too,
 And every sweet a snare."


Pictures of Jesus?

"And they took knowledge of them, that
 they had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13

(by Charles Spurgeon)

A Christian should be a striking likeness of
Jesus Christ. You have read 'lives of Christ',
beautifully and eloquently written; but the
best life of Christ is His living biography,
written out in the words and actions of His

If we were what we profess to be, and
what we should be, we would be pictures
of Jesus
; yes, such striking likenesses of
Him, that the world would, when they once
beheld us, exclaim, "He has been with Jesus;
he has been taught of Him; he is like Him;
he has caught the very idea of the holy Man
of Nazareth, and he works it out in his life
and daily actions."

A Christian should be like Christ in his
boldness. Never blush to own your religion.
Be like Jesus, very valiant for your God.

Imitate Him in your loving spirit; think kindly,
speak kindly, and do kindly, that men may
say of you, "He has been with Jesus!"

Imitate Jesus in His holiness.

Was He zealous? So be ever going about
doing good. Let not time be wasted; it is
too precious.

Was He self-denying, never looking
to His own interest? Be the same.

Was He devout? Be fervent in your prayers.

Had He deference to His Father's will?
So submit yourselves to Him.

Was He patient? So learn to endure.

And best of all, as the highest portraiture
of Jesus
, try to forgive your enemies, as
He did; and let those sublime words of your
Master, "Father, forgive them; for they know
not what they do," always ring in your ears.
Forgive, as you hope to be forgiven. Good
for evil, recollect, is godlike.

Be godlike, then; and in all ways and
by all means, so live that all may say
of you, "He has been with Jesus!"

"And they took knowledge of them, that
 they had been with Jesus."  Acts 4:13

A stable, a hovel, a hedge, any unadorned corner

(J. C. Philpot, "
A Longing Soul in a Thirsty Land")

This is what the Sovereign Lord says: "Although
I sent them far away among the nations and
scattered them among the countries, yet I will
be to them as a little sanctuary
in the countries
where they have gone." Ezekiel 11:16

Every place in which the Lord manifests Himself,
is a sanctuary to a child of God.

Jesus is now our sanctuary, for He is "the true
place of worship that was built by the Lord and
not by human hands." We see the power and
glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.

Every place is a sanctuary, where God manifests
Himself in power and glory to the soul. Moses,
doubtless, had often passed by the bush which
grew in Horeb; it was but a common thorn bush,
in no way distinguished from the other bushes
of the thicket. But on one solemn occasion it was
all "in a flame of fire," for "the angel of the Lord
appeared unto him in a flame of fire" out of the
midst; and though it burned with fire, it was not
consumed. God being in the bush, the ground
round about was holy, and Moses was bidden to
take off his shoes from his feet. Was not this
a sanctuary to Moses? It was, for a holy God was
there! Thus wherever God manifests Himself,
that becomes a sanctuary to a believing soul.

We don't need places made holy by the ceremonies
of man; but places made holy by the presence of

Then a stable, a hovel, a hedge, any unadorned
may be, and is a sanctuary, when God fills
your heart with His sacred presence, and causes
every holy feeling and gracious affection to spring
up in your soul.

Poor, miserable, paltry works of a polluted worm!

(Philpot, "The Loss of All Things for Christ's Sake")

"We are all infected and impure with sin. When we
 proudly display our righteous deeds, we find they
 are but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither
 and fall. And our sins, like the wind, sweep us away."
        Isaiah 64:6

We once thought that we could gain heaven by
our own righteousness. We strictly attended to
our religious duties, and sought by these and
various other means to recommend ourselves
to the favor of God, and induce Him to reward
us with heaven for our sincere attempts to obey
His commandments.

And by these religious performances we thought we
would surely be able to make a ladder whereby we
could climb up to heaven. This was our tower of
, whose top was to reach unto heaven, and
by mounting which, we thought to scale the stars.

But the same Lord who stopped the further building
of the tower of Babel, by confounding their speech
and scattering them abroad on the face of the earth;
began to confound our speech, so that we could not
pray, or talk, or boast as before; and to scatter all
our religion like the chaff
of the threshing floor. Our
mouths were stopped; we became guilty before God;
and our bricks and mortar became a pile of confusion!

When, then, the Lord was pleased to discover to our
souls by faith, His being, majesty, greatness, holiness,
and purity; and thus gave us a corresponding sense of
our filthiness and folly; then all our creature religion
and natural piety
which we once counted as gain, we
began to see was but loss; that our very religious duties
and observances, so far from being for us, were actually
against us; and instead of pleading for us before God as
so many deeds of righteousness, were so polluted and
defiled by sin perpetually mixed with them, that our
very prayers were enough to sink us into hell
, had
we no other iniquities to answer for in heart, lip or life.

But when we had a view by faith of the Person, work,
love, and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, then we began
more plainly and clearly to see, with what religious toys
we had been so long amusing ourselves
, and what is
far worse, mocking God by them.

We had been secretly despising . . .
  Jesus and His sufferings,
  Jesus and His death,
  Jesus and His righteousness,
and setting up the poor, miserable, paltry
works of a polluted worm
in the place of
the finished work of the Son of God.

Mere toys and baubles

(Philpot, "Deliverance from the Power of Darkness")

True religion must be everything or nothing with us.
In religion, indifference is ruin; neglect is destruction.

Of all losses, the loss of the soul is the only one that
is utterly irreparable and irremediable. You may lose
property, but you may recover the whole or a portion
of it; you may lose health, but you may be restored
to a larger measure of bodily strength than before
your illness; you may lose friends, but you may obtain
new ones, and those more sincere and valuable than
any whom you have lost. But if you lose your soul,
what is to make up for that loss?

Do you ever feel what a tremendous stake heaven
or hell is? Have you ever felt that to gain heaven is
to gain everything that can make the soul eternally
happy; and to lose heaven is not only to lose
eternal bliss, but to sink down into . . .
  unutterable woe?

It is this believing sight and pressing sense of eternal
things; it is this weighty, at times overpowering, feeling
that they carry in their bosom an immortal soul, which
often makes the children of God view the things of
time and sense as . . .

  mere toys and baubles,
  trifles lighter than vanity,
  and pursuits empty as air,
and gives them to feel that the things of eternity
are the only solid, enduring realities.

Heavenly dew

(J. C. Philpot, "The Doctrine which Drops as the
Rain, and the Speech which Distills as the Dew")

"My words descend like dew."  Deuteronomy 32:2

The dew falls imperceptibly. No man can see it fall.
Yet its effects are visible in the morning. So it is with
the blessing of God upon His Word. It penetrates the
heart without noise; it sinks deep into the conscience
without anything visible going on. And as the dew
opens the pores of the earth and refreshes the ground
after the heat of a burning day, making vegetation lift
up its drooping head, so it is with the blessing of God
resting upon the soul.

Heavenly dew comes imperceptibly, falls quietly, and is
manifested chiefly by its effects, as softening, opening,
penetrating, and secretly causing every grace of the Spirit
to lift up its drooping head.

Whenever the Lord may have been pleased to bless our
souls, either in hearing, in reading, or in private meditation,
have not these been some of the effects? Silent, quiet,
imperceptible, yet producing an evident impression . . .
  softening the heart when hard,
  refreshing it when dry,
  melting it when obdurate,
  secretly keeping the soul alive, so that it is neither withers
up by the burning sun of temptation, nor dies for lack of grace.

"May God give you the dew of heaven." Genesis 27:28

All is well.

(Henry Law, "Deuteronomy" 1858)

How varied are the stations of man's calling!

How diverse are their positions in life!

Some reign in palaces;
some toil in cottages.

Some feast at plenty's table;
some pine in poverty's contracted cells.

Purple and splendor deck the rich man;
Lazarus lies a beggar at the gate.

Some work at looms;
others in fields.

Some climb the mast;
others handle the spade.

Some exercise the mental powers;
others strain the muscles of the body.

Some soar in literature's highest flights;
some crawl illiterate to the grave.

But perfect Wisdom rules these varieties
on life's stage. No being enters or recedes,
but in accordance with God's will.

He speaks; they live.
He speaks; they die.

Entrance and exit are in His hand.

At His decree all kings, all beggars,
breathe and expire.

Both times and stations are allotted
by His mind.

He raises to the pinnacles of earth;
or veils in seclusion.

He leads to walks known and observed by all;
or hides in garrets of obscurity.

Let then the child of God live, rejoicing in his
day and lot. No change would be improvement.
He best can serve his generation, and advance
his soul concerns, by working cheerfully in his
assigned position

Believer . . .
  banish your fears;
  cast out all doubts;
  lift up the happy head;
  clap the exulting hands;
  give thanks.

Your heavenly Father cannot set you in wrong place.

Your loving Savior cannot lead you in wrong paths.

All is well.

Coming up from the wilderness

(J. C. Philpot, "Coming up from the Wilderness" 1857)

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

To come up from the wilderness, is to come up out
of OURSELVES; for we are ourselves the wilderness.
It is our wilderness heart that makes the world
what it is to us . . .
  our own barren frames;
  our own bewildered minds;
  our own worthlessness and inability;
  our own lack of spiritual fruitfulness;
  our own trials, temptations, and exercises;
  our own hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

In a word, it is what passes in our own bosom
that makes the world to us a dreary desert.

Carnal people find the world no wilderness. It is an
Eden to them! Or at least they try hard to make it so.
They seek all their pleasure from, and build all their
happiness upon it. Nor do they dream of any other
harvest of joy and delight, but what may be repaid
in this 'happy valley', where youth, health, and good
spirits are ever imagining new scenes of gratification.

But the child of grace, exercised with a thousand
difficulties, passing through many temporal and
spiritual sorrows, and inwardly grieved with his own
lack of heavenly fruitfulness, finds the wilderness

But he still comes up out of it, and this he does
by looking upward with believing eyes to Him who
alone can bring him out.

He comes up out of his own righteousness, and
shelters himself under Christ's righteousness.

He comes up out of his own strength,
and trusts to Christ's strength.

He comes up out of his own wisdom,
and hangs upon Jesus' wisdom.

He comes up out of his own tempted, tried,
bewildered, and perplexed condition, to find rest
and peace in the finished work of the Son of God.

And thus he comes up out of the wilderness of
, not actually, but experimentally. Every desire
of his soul to be delivered from his 'wilderness
sickening sight' that he has of sin and of himself
as a sinner. Every aspiration after Jesus, every
longing look, earnest sigh, piteous cry, or laboring
groan, all are a coming up from the wilderness.

His turning his back upon an ungodly world; renouncing
its pleasures, its honors, its pride, and its ambition;
seeking communion with Jesus as his chief delight;
and accounting all things but loss and rubbish for
the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus his Lord
as revealed to his soul by the power of God; this,
also, is coming up from the wilderness.

When we gaze upon the lifeless corpse

(J. C. Philpot, "Light Affliction and Eternal Glory" 1857)

From the cradle to the coffin, affliction and sorrow are
the appointed lot of man.
He comes into the world with
a wailing cry, and he often leaves it with an agonizing
groan! Rightly is this earth called "a valley of tears," for
it is wet with them in infancy, youth, manhood, and old
age. In every land, in every climate, scenes of misery
and wretchedness everywhere meet the eye, besides
those deeper griefs and heart-rending sorrows which lie
concealed from all observation. So that we may well say
of the life of man that, like Ezekiel's scroll, it is "written
with lamentations, and mourning and woe."

But this is not all. The scene does not end here!

We see up to death, but we do not see beyond death.

To see a man die without Christ is like standing
at a distance, and seeing a man fall from a lofty
cliff—we see him fall, but we do not see the crash
on the rocks below.

So we see an unsaved man die, but when we gaze
upon the lifeless corpse
, we do not see how his soul
falls with a mighty crash upon the rock of God's eternal
justice! When his temporal trials come to a close, his
eternal sorrows only begin!
After weeks or months of
sickness and pain, the pale, cold face may lie in calm
repose under the coffin lid; when the soul is only just
entering upon an eternity of woe!

But is it all thus dark and gloomy both in life and death?
Is heaven always hung with a canopy of black? Are there
no beams of light, no rays of gladness, that shine through
these dark clouds of affliction, misery, and woe that are
spread over the human race?

Yes! there is one point in this dark scene out of which
beams of light and rays of glory shine! "God did not
appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation
through our Lord Jesus Christ."  1 Thessalonians 5:9

There, on the other side, is my solitary soul

(J. C. Philpot, "New Years' Addresses")

"For what is a man profited, if he shall gains the
 whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what can
 a man give in exchange for his soul?" Mt. 16:26

Here is my scale of profit and loss.

I have a soul to be saved or lost.

What then shall I give in exchange for my soul?

What am I profited if I gain the
whole world and lose my soul?

This deep conviction of a soul to be saved
or lost lies at the root of all our religion.

Here, on one side, is the WORLD and all . . .
  its profits
  its pleasures,
  its charms,
  its smiles,
  its winning ways,
  its comforts,
  its luxuries,
  its honors,
to gain which is the grand struggle of human life.

There, on the other side, is my solitary SOUL,
to live after death, forever and ever, when the
world and all its pleasures and profits will sink
under the wrath of the Almighty.

And this dear soul of mine, my very self, my
only self, my all, must be lost or saved.

Even your own relatives think you are almost insane

(J. C. Philpot, "The Abiding Comforter" 1858)

"The Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him,
 because it neither sees Him nor knows Him."
    John 14:17

The world—that is, the world dead in sin, and the
world dead in profession—men destitute of the life
and power of God—must have something that it can
see. And, as heavenly things can only be seen by
heavenly eyes, they cannot receive the things which
are invisible.

Now this explains why a religion that presents itself
with a degree of beauty and grandeur to the natural
eye will always be received by the world
; while a . . .
  heartfelt and
religion will always be rejected.

The world can receive a religion that consists of . . .
  rites, and

These are things seen.

Beautiful buildings,
painted windows,
pealing organs,
melodious choirs,
the pomp and parade of an earthly priesthood,
and a whole apparatus of 'religious ceremony',
carry with them something that the natural eye can
see and admire. The world receives all this 'external
religion' because it is suitable to the natural mind
and intelligible to the reasoning faculties.

But the . . .
  divine religion,
which presents no attractions to the outward eye, but
is wrought in the heart by a divine operation—the world
cannot receive this—because it presents nothing that
the natural eye can rest upon with pleasure, or is
adapted to gratify their general idea of what religion
is or should be.

Do not marvel, then, that worldly professors despise a
religion wrought in the soul by the power of God. Do not
be surprised if even your own relatives think you are
almost insane
, when you speak of the consolations of
the Spirit, or of the teachings of God in your soul. They
cannot receive these things, for they have no experience
of them; and being such as are altogether opposed to
the carnal mind, they reject them with enmity and scorn.

Make straight paths for your feet.

(J. C. Philpot, "New Years' Addresses")

"Make straight paths for your feet." Hebrews 12:13

Surrounded as we are with a crooked generation,
professing and profane, whose ways we are but too
apt to learn; beset on every hand by temptations . . .
  to turn aside into some crooked path,
  to feed our pride,
  to indulge our lusts,
  to gratify our covetousness;
blinded and seduced sometimes by the god of this world;
hardened at other times by the deceitfulness of sin; here
misled by the example, and there bewitched by the flattery
of some friend or companion; at one time confused and
bewildered in our judgment of right and wrong; at another
time entangled, half resisting, half complying, in some
snare of the wicked one; what a struggle have some of us
had to make straight paths for our feet; and what pain
and grief that we should ever have made crooked ones.

"But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
 I had nearly lost my foothold." Psalm 73:2

When I said, "My foot is slipping," Your love,
O Lord, supported me. Psalm 94:18

"He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the
 mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and
 gave me a firm place to stand." Psalm 40:2

"Hold me up, and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117

"I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead
 you along straight paths
." Proverbs 4:11

Have nothing to do with them.

(J. C. Philpot, "New Years' Addresses")

"They mingled among the pagans and adopted
 their evil customs. They worshiped their idols,
 and this led to their downfall." Ps. 106:35-36

The 'carnal professors' of the day see nothing
wrong, nothing amiss, nothing inconsistent in
their conduct or spirit, though they are sunk in . . .
  carnality, or

But where there is divine life, where the blessed
Spirit moves upon the heart with His sacred
operations and secret influences, there will be
light to see, and a conscience to feel, what is . . .
  and improper.

It its but too evident that we cannot be mixed up
with the professors of the day without drinking, in
some measure, into their spirit and being more or
less influenced by their example.

We can scarcely escape the influence of those with
whom we come much and frequently into contact.
If they are dead, they will often benumb us with
their corpse-like coldness. If they are light and
, they will often entangle us in their carnal
levity. If they are worldly and covetous, they
may afford us a shelter and an excuse for our
own worldliness and covetousness.

Abhor that loose profession, that ready
compliance with everything which feeds the . . .
  and lusts of our depraved nature,
which so stamps the present day with some
of its most perilous and dreadful characters.

"Having a form of godliness but denying its power.
 Have nothing to do with them." 2 Timothy 3:5

We find that they are empty bubbles

(J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Luke" 1858)

"And how do you benefit if you gain the
 whole world
but lose or forfeit your own
 soul in the process?" Luke 9:25

The possession of the whole world, and
all that it contains, would never make a
man happy.

Its pleasures are false and deceptive!

Its riches, rank, and honors, have
no power to satisfy the heart.

So long as we have not got them they
glitter, and sparkle, and seem desirable.
The moment we have them we find that
they are empty bubbles
, and cannot
make us feel content.

And, worst of all, when we possess this
world's good things to the utmost bound
of our desire, we cannot keep them!
Death comes in and separates us from all
our property forever. Naked we came upon
earth, and naked we go forth, and of all our
possessions we can carry nothing with us.

Such is the world, which occupies the whole
attention of thousands! Such is the world, for
the sake of which, millions every year are
destroying their souls!

"And how do you benefit if you gain the
 whole world
but lose or forfeit your own
 soul in the process?" Luke 9:25

The foulest filth under the cleanest cloak

(J. C. Philpot, "New Years' Address, 1858")

"Take heed unto yourselves!" Acts 20:28

There are few Christians who have not ever found
SELF to be their greatest enemy. The pride, unbelief,
hardness, and impenitence of a man's own heart; the
deceitfulness, hypocrisy, and wickedness of his own
fallen nature; the lusts and passions, filth and folly of
his own carnal mind; will not only ever be his greatest
, but will ever prove his most dreaded foe!

Enemies we shall have from outside, and we may
at times keenly feel their bitter speeches and cruel
words and actions. But no enemy can injure us like
In five minutes a man may do himself
more real harm, than all his enemies united could
do to injure him in fifty years!

To yourself you can be the most insidious
and the greatest foe!

In all its forms, SELF in its inmost
spirit is still a . . .
  proud, and
; masking its real character in a
thousand ways, and concealing its destructive
designs by countless devices.

We have but to look on the professing church to find . . .
  the highest pride under the lowest humility,
  the greatest ignorance under the vainest self-conceit,
  the basest treachery under the warmest profession,
  the vilest sensuality under the most heavenly piety,
  and the foulest filth under the cleanest cloak.

"Take heed unto yourselves!" Acts 20:28

Familiarity with sacred things

(J. C. Philpot, "New Years' Address, 1858")

"Take heed unto yourselves!" Acts 20:28

This was Paul's public warning to the elders of
the church at Ephesus. It was Paul's private
warning to his friend and disciple, his beloved
son, Timothy. And do not all who write or speak
in the name of the Lord need the same warning?

Familiarity with sacred things has a natural
tendency to harden the conscience, where
grace does not soften and make it tender.

Men may preach and pray until both become a
mere mechanical habit; and they may talk about
Christ and His sufferings until they feel as little
touched by them as a 'tragic actor' on the stage,
of the sorrows which he impersonates.

Well, then, may the Holy Spirit sound this note of
warning, as with trumpet voice, in the ears of the
servants of Christ. "Take heed unto yourselves!"

Pride, self-conceit, and self-exaltation

(J. C. Philpot, "New Years' Address, 1857")

Pride, self-conceit, and self-exaltation, are both
the chief temptations, and the main besetting sins,
of those who occupy any public position in the church.

Therefore, where these sins are not mortified by the
Spirit, and subdued by His grace; instead of being, as
they should be, the humblest of men; they are, with
rare exceptions, the proudest.

Did we bear in constant remembrance our slips, falls,
and grievous backslidings; and had we, with all this,
a believing sight of the holiness and purity of God,
of the sufferings and sorrows of His dear Son, and
what it cost Him to redeem us from the lowest hell;
we would be, we must be clothed with humility; and
would, under feelings of the deepest self-abasement,
take the lowest place among the family of God, as
the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all
the saints.

This should be the feeling of every child of God.

Until this pride is in some measure crucified,
until we hate it, and hate ourselves for it, the
glory of God will not be our main object.


I am black, but lovely!

(Henry Law, "The Song of Solomon" 1879)

"I am black, but lovely!" Song of Solomon 1:5

The believer pictures her state. It is a seeming
paradox. The extremes of lowliness and greatness
are combined. She presents two aspects. Deformity
and loveliness compose the portrait.
"I am black,
but lovely!

Blackness is frightful and repulsive. No eye can
rest on it complacently. But blackness is the emblem
of our state by nature. We are conceived and born in
sin; and sin is most hideous wherever it appears. The
Spirit has revealed this truth to each enlightened convert.
He sees it;
he feels it;
he owns it;
he bewails it.
It is his constant misery. When he would do good,
evil is present with him. He hates and loathes and
abhors himself in dust and ashes. Surveying the
innate corruption, which is his, he mournfully
confesses, "I am black; I am vile."

But he looks off to Christ. He sees the precious
blood washing out every stain and obliterating
the crimson dye.

The blackness disappears.

In Christ he is whiter than the whitest snow.

He puts on Christ, and adores Him as made sin
for us, that we might be made the righteousness
of God in Him. He sees His pure and perfect
obedience wrought out as a robe to hide his
every defect, so bright, so lovely, and so
glorious, that it exceeds all admiration.

He feels that this righteousness is through grace
imputed to him. He knows that he is lovely through
divine loveliness. Thus clothed and decked, he
triumphantly tells his friends, "I am black, but lovely!"


Leaning upon her Beloved.

(Octavius Winslow, "Morning Thoughts")

"Leaning upon her Beloved." Solomon's Song 8:5

What more appropriate, what more soothing truth
could we bring before you, suffering Christian,
than this?

You are sick—lean upon Jesus. His sick ones are
peculiarly dear to His heart. You are dear to Him.
In all your pains and languishings, faintings and
lassitude, Jesus is with you; for He created that
frame, He remembers that it is but dust, and He
bids you lean upon Him, and leave your sickness
and its outcome entirely in His hands.

You are lonely—lean upon Jesus. Sweet will be the
communion and close the fellowship which you may
thus hold with Him, your heart burning within you
while He talks with you by the way.

Is the ascent steep and difficult?
Lean upon your Beloved.

Is the path strait and narrow?
Lean upon your Beloved.

Do intricacies and perplexities and trials weave their
network around your feet? Lean upon your Beloved.

Has death smitten down the strong arm and chilled
the tender heart upon which you were used to recline?
Lean upon your Beloved.

Oh! lean upon Jesus . . .
  in every difficulty,
  in every need,
  in every sorrow,
  in every temptation.

Nothing is too insignificant, nothing too
lowly, to take to Christ. He loves to have
you quite near to Him, to hear your voice,
and to feel the confidence of your faith
and the pressure of your love.

Always remember that there is a place in
the heart of Christ sacred to you, and which
no one can fill but yourself, and from which
none may dare exclude you. On that bosom
you, beloved, may repose, soothed, supported,
and sheltered by your Savior and your Lord.

What? Will He forgive us all sins?

(J. C. Philpot, "Faithful and Just to Forgive")

"He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,
 and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
     1 John 1:9

What? Will He forgive us all sins?

Every sin that we have committed?

Do we not sin with every breath that we draw?

Is not every lustful desire sin?
And is not every proud thought sin?
And is not every wicked imagination sin?
And is not every unkind suspicion sin?
Every act of unbelief sin?
And every working of a depraved nature sin?

We committed sin when we sucked our mother's
breast! We committed sin as soon as we were
able to stammer out a word. And as we grew in
body, we grew in sinfulness.

Will He forgive . . .
  sins of thought,
  sins of look,
  sins of action,
  sins of omission,
  sins of commission,
  sins in infancy,
  sins in childhood,
  sins in youth,
  sins in old age?

Will He forgive . . .
  all the base lusts,
  all the filthy workings,
  all the vile actions,
  all the pride,
  all the hypocrisy,
  all the covetousness,
  all the envy, hatred, and malice,
  all the aboundings of inward iniquity?

"The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin."
     1 John 1:7

This sacred anointing

(J. C. Philpot, "The Unction of the Holy One")

"But you have an anointing from the Holy One."
    1 John 2:20

Wherever the anointing of the Holy One touches
a man's heart it spreads itself, widening and
extending its operations. It thus communicates
divine gifts and graces wherever it comes. It . . .
  bestows and draws out faith,
  gives repentance and godly sorrow,
  causes secret self-loathing, and
  separation from the world,
  draws the affections upwards,
  makes sin hated, and
  Jesus and His salvation loved.

Wherever the anointing of the Holy Spirit touches
a man's heart it diffuses itself through his whole
soul, and makes him wholly a new creature. It . . .
  gives new motives,
  communicates new feelings,
  enlarges and melts the heart, and
  spiritualizes and draws the affections upwards.

Without this sacred anointing . . .
  all our religion is a bubble,
  all our profession a lie, and
  all our hopes will end in despair.

O what a mercy to have one drop of this heavenly
! To enjoy one heavenly feeling! To taste
the least measure of Christ's love shed abroad in the
heart! What an unspeakable mercy to have one touch,
one glimpse, one glance, one communication out of
the fullness of Him who fills all in all!

By this anointing from the Holy One, the
children of God are supported under . . .
  and sorrows.

By this anointing from the Holy One,
they see the hand of God . . .
  in every chastisement,
  in every providence,
  in every trial,
  in every grief, and
  in every burden.

By this anointing from the Holy One they can
bear chastisement with meekness; and put
their mouth in the dust, humbling themselves
under the mighty hand of God.

Every good word,
every good work,
every gracious thought,
every holy desire,
every spiritual feeling
do we owe to this one thing:
the anointing of the Holy One.

"But you have an anointing from the Holy One."
    1 John 2:20