PEARLS FROM PHILPOT
Man's religion & God's religion
Man's religion is to build up the
God's religion is to throw the creature
the dust of self-abasement, and to glorify Christ.
What a mystery are you!
"So I find this law at work—When I want to do
good, evil is right there with me." Rom. 7:21
Are you not often a mystery to yourself?
Warm one moment—cold the next!
Abasing yourself one hour—
exalting yourself the following!
Loving the world, full of it, steeped up to
your head in it today—crying, groaning, and
sighing for a sweet manifestation of the love
of God tomorrow!
Brought down to nothingness, covered with
shame and confusion, on your knees before
you leave your room—filled with pride and self
importance before you have got down stairs!
Despising the world, and willing to give it all
up for one taste of the love of Jesus when in
solitude—trying to grasp it with both hands
when in business!
What a mystery are you!
Touched by love—and stung with hatred!
Possessing a little wisdom—and a great deal of folly!
Earthly minded—and yet having the affections in heaven!
Pressing forward—and lagging behind!
Full of sloth—and yet taking the kingdom with violence!
And thus the Spirit, by a process which we may feel
but cannot adequately describe—leads us into the
mystery of the two natures perpetually struggling
and striving against each other in the same bosom.
So that one man cannot more differ from another,
than the same man differs from himself.
But the mystery of the kingdom of heaven is this—
that our carnal mind undergoes no alteration, but
maintains a perpetual war with grace. And thus,
the deeper we sink in self abasement under a
sense of our vileness, the higher we rise in a
knowledge of Christ, and the blacker we are in
our own view—the more lovely does Jesus appear.
What stupid blockheads!
"Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them.
What lessons we need day by day to teach
us anything aright, and how it is for the most
part, "line upon line, line upon line—here a
little, and there a little." O . . .
what slow learners!
what dull, forgetful scholars!
what stupid blockheads!
what stubborn pupils!
Surely no scholar at a school, old or young,
could learn so little of natural things as we seem
to have learned of spiritual things after . . .
so many years instruction,
so many chapters read,
so many sermons heard, so many prayers put up,
so much talking about religion.
How small, how weak is the amount of
growth—compared with all we have read
and heard and talked about!
But it is a mercy that the Lord saves whom
He will save—and that we are saved by free
grace—and free grace alone!
Take me as I am with all my sin and shame
"Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
save me, and I shall be saved." Jer. 17:14
Here is this sin! Save me from it!
Here is this snare! Break it to pieces!
Here is this lust! Lord, subdue it!
Here is this temptation! Deliver me out of it!
Here is my proud heart! Lord, humble it!
Here is my unbelieving heart! Take it away,
and give me faith; give me submission to
Your mind and will.
Take me as I am with all my sin and
shame and work in me everything well
pleasing in Your sight.
Nothing but a huge clod of dust
"Set your affection on things above—not
on things on the earth." Colossians 3:2
Everything upon earth, as viewed by the eyes
of the Majesty of heaven—is base and paltry.
Earth is after all, nothing but a huge clod of
dust, and as such, as insignificant in the eyes
of its Maker as the small dust of the balance,
or the drop of the bucket.
What, then, are . . .
its highest objects,
its loftiest aims,
its grandest pursuits,
its noblest employments,
in the sight of Him who inhabits
eternity; but base and worthless?
Vanity is stamped on all earth's attainments.
All earthly pursuits and high accomplishments . . .
end in death!
The breath of God's displeasure soon
lays low in the grave all that is rich
and mighty, high and proud.
But that effectual work of grace on the heart,
whereby the chosen vessels of mercy are
delivered from the power of darkness and
translated into the kingdom of God's dear
Son, calls them out of . . .
those low, groveling pursuits,
those earthly toys,
those base and sensual lusts in which other
men seek at once their happiness and their ruin.
How can they escape?
"He will keep the feet of His saints."
1 Samuel 2:9
The Lord sees His poor scattered pilgrims
traveling through a valley of tears—journeying
through a waste-howling wilderness—a path
beset with baits, traps, and snares in every
How can they escape?
Why, the Lord 'keeps their feet'. He carries them
through every rough place—as a tender parent
carries a little child. When about to fall—He
graciously lays His everlasting arms underneath
them. And when tottering and stumbling, and
their feet ready to slip—He mercifully upholds
them from falling altogether.
But do you think that He has not different ways
for different feet? The God of creation has not
made two flowers, nor two leaves upon a tree
alike—and will He cause all His people to walk
in precisely the same path? No. We have . . .
each our path,
each our troubles,
each our trials,
each peculiar traps and snares laid for our feet.
And the wisdom of the all-wise God is shown by His
eyes being in every place—marking the footsteps of
every pilgrim—suiting His remedies to meet their
individual case and necessity—appearing for them
when nobody else could do them any good—watching
so tenderly over them, as though the eyes of His
affection were bent on one individual—and carefully
noting the goings of each, as though all the powers
of the Godhead were concentrated on that one
person to keep him from harm!
God will meet all your needs
"And my God will meet all your needs
to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:19
Until we are brought into the depths of poverty,
we shall never know nor value Christ's riches.
If, then, you are a child of God, a poor and
needy soul, a tempted and tried believer in
Christ, "God will meet all your needs."
They may be very great.
It may seem to you, sometimes, as though there
were not upon all the face of the earth such a
wretch as you—as though there never could be
a child of God in your state . . .
so blind and ignorant,
so proud and worldly,
so presumptuous and hypocritical,
so continually backsliding after idols,
so continually doing things that you
know are hateful in God's sight.
But whatever your need be—it is not beyond the
reach of divine supply! And the deeper your need,
the more is Jesus glorified in supplying it.
Do not say then, that . . .
your case is too bad,
your needs are too many,
your perplexities too great,
your temptations too powerful.
No case can be too bad!
No temptations can be too powerful!
No sin can be too black!
No perplexity can be too hard!
No state in which the soul can get, is beyond
the reach of the almighty and compassionate
love, that burns in the breast of the Redeemer!
That sympathizing, merciful, feeling,
tender, and compassionate heart
"For we do not have a High Priest who is unable
to sympathize with our infirmities." Hebrews 4:15
The child of God, spiritually taught and convinced,
is deeply sensible of his infirmities. Yes, that he is
encompassed with infirmities—that he is nothing else
but infirmities. And therefore the great High Priest
to whom he comes as a burdened sinner—to whom
he has recourse in the depth of his extremity—and
at whose feet he falls overwhelmed with a sense
of his helplessness, sin, misery, and guilt—is so
suitable to him as one able to sympathize with
We would, if left to our own conceptions, naturally
imagine that Jesus is too holy to look down in
compassion on a filthy, guilty wretch like ourselves.
Surely, surely, He will spurn us from His feet. Surely,
surely, His holy eyes cannot look upon us in our . . .
Surely, surely, He cannot bestow . . .
one heart's thought,
one moment's sympathy,
or feel one spark of love
towards those who are so unlike Him.
Nature, sense, and reason would thus argue,
"I must be holy—perfectly holy—for Jesus to love;
I must be pure—perfectly pure—spotless and
sinless, for Jesus to think of. But . . .
that I, a sinful, guilty, defiled wretch;
that I, encompassed with infirmities;
that I, whose heart is a cage of unclean birds;
that I, stained and polluted with a thousand iniquities;
that I can have any inheritance in Him—or that He can
have any love or compassion towards me—nature, sense,
reason, and human religion in all its shapes and forms,
revolts from the idea."
It is as though Jesus specially address Himself to the
poor, burdened child of God who feels his infirmities,
who cannot boast of his own wisdom, strength,
righteousness, and consistency—but is all weakness
and helplessness. It seems as if He would address
Himself to the case of such a helpless wretch—and
pour a sweet cordial into his bleeding conscience.
We, the children of God—we, who each knows his own
plague and his own sore—we, who carry about with us
day by day a body of sin and death, that makes us
lament, sigh, and groan—we, who know painfully what
it is to be encompassed with infirmities—we, who come
to His feet as being nothing and having nothing but sin
and woe—"we do not have a High Priest who is unable
to sympathize with our infirmities," but One who carries
in His bosom that . . .
Why are you cast down, O my soul?
"Why are you cast down, O my soul? Why
disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for
I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God."
Do you forget, O soul, that the way to heaven
is a very strait and narrow path—too narrow for
you to carry your sins in it with you?
God sees it good that you should be cast down.
You were getting very proud, O soul.
The world had gotten hold of your heart.
You were seeking great things for yourself.
You were secretly roving away from the Lord.
You were too much lifted up in SELF.
The Lord has sent you these trials and difficulties
and allowed these temptations to fall upon you,
to bring you down from your state of false security.
There is reason therefore, even to praise God
for being cast down, and for being so disturbed.
How this opens up parts of God's Word which
you never read before with any feeling.
How it gives you sympathy and communion
with the tried and troubled children of God.
How it weans and separates you from dead professors.
How it brings you in heart and affection,
out of the world that lies in wickedness.
And how it engages your thoughts, time after time,
upon the solemn matters of eternity—instead of being
a prey to every idle thought and imagination, and
tossed up and down upon a sea of vanity and folly.
But, above all, when there is a sweet response from
the Lord, and the power of divine things is inwardly
felt, in enabling us to hope in God, and to praise His
blessed name—then we see the benefit of being cast
down and so repeatedly and continually disturbed.
"Why are you cast down, O my soul? Why
disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for
I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God."
Treasure in earthen vessels
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels."
2 Corinthians 4:7
Do not be surprised if you feel that in yourself
you are but an earthen vessel—if you are made
deeply and daily sensible of your frail body.
Do not be surprised . . .
if your clay house is often tottering;
if sickness sometimes assails your mortal tabernacle;
if in your flesh there dwells no good thing;
if your soul often cleaves to the dust; and
if you are unable to retain a sweet sense
of God's goodness and love.
Do not be surprised nor startled . . .
at the corruptions of your depraved nature;
at the depth of sin in your carnal mind;
at the vile abominations which lurk and work
in your deceitful and desperately wicked heart.
Bear in mind that it is the will of God that this
heavenly treasure which makes you rich for
eternity, should be lodged in an earthen vessel.
We have ever to feel our native weakness—and
that without Christ we can do nothing—that we may
be clothed with humility, and feel ourselves the
chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints.
We thus learn to prize the heights, breadths,
lengths, and depths of the love of Christ, who
stooped so low to raise us up so high!
All trials, all temptations,
all strippings, all emptyings
The very trials and afflictions, and the sore
temptations through which God's family pass,
all eventually endear Christ to them.
And depend upon it, if you are a child of God,
you will sooner or later, in your travels through
this wilderness, find your need of Jesus as "able
to save to the uttermost."
There will be such things in your heart, and such
feelings in your mind—the temptations you will
meet with will be such—that nothing short of a
Savior that is able to save to the uttermost
can save you out of your desperate case and
felt circumstances as utterly lost and helpless.
This a great point to come to. All trials, all
temptations, all strippings, all emptyings
that do not end here are valueless—because
they lead the soul away from God.
But the convictions, the trials, the temptations,
the strippings, the emptyings, that bring us to
this spot—that we have nothing, and can do
nothing, but the Lord alone must do it all—these
have a blessed effect, because they eventually
make Jesus very near and dear unto us.
"There is no fear of God before their
Those who have every reason to fear as to
their eternal state before God, have for the
most part, no fear at all. They are
and free from doubt and fear.
The depths of human hypocrisy,
the dreadful lengths to which profession may go,
the deceit of the carnal heart,
the snares spread for the unwary feet,
the fearful danger of being deceived at the last;
these traps and pitfalls are not objects of anxiety
to those dead in sin.
As long as they can pacify natural conscience,
and do something to soothe any transient
conviction—they are glad to be deceived!
God does not see fit to disturb their quiet.
He has no purpose of mercy towards them;
they are not subjects of His kingdom;
they are not objects of His love.
He therefore leaves them carnally secure, as
in a dream—from which they will not awake
until the day of judgment.
These difficulties . . .
"From all your idols will I cleanse you." Ezekiel 36:25
When there are no crosses, temptations, or trials,
a man is sure to go out after and cleave to idols.
It matters not what experience he has had. If once he
ceases to be plagued and tried, he will be setting up
his household gods in the secret chambers of his heart.
Profit or pleasure, self-indulgence or self-gratification,
will surely, in one form or another, engross his thoughts,
and steal away his heart.
Nor is there anything too trifling or insignificant to
become an idol. Whatever is meditated on preferably
to God—whatever is desired more than He—whatever
more interests us, pleases us, occupies our waking
hours, or is more constantly in our mind—becomes
an idol, and a source of sin.
It is not the magnitude of the idol, but its existence
as an object of worship—that constitutes idolatry. I have
seen some 'Burmese idols' not much larger than my hand;
and I have seen some 'Egyptian idols' weighing many tons.
But both were equally idols—and the comparative size had
nothing to do with the question.
So spiritually, an idol is not to be measured by its size,
or its relative importance or non-importance. A flower may
be as much an idol to one man, as a chest full of gold to
If you watch your heart, you will see idols rising and setting
all day long, nearly as thickly as the stars by night.
But God sends . . .
to pull down these idols—or rather
to pull away our hearts from them.
These difficulties . . .
pull us out of fleshly ease,
make us cry for mercy,
pull down all rotten props,
hunt us out of false refuges, and
strip us of vain hopes and delusive expectations.
"They tell how you turned to God from idols
to serve the living and true God." 1 Thes. 1:9
Nothing is too small or too insignificant
which, at times, may not be an idol.
What is an idol?
Something my carnal mind loves.
How may I know whether my carnal mind loves it?
When we think of it, and are very much pleased with
it. We pet it, love and fondle it, dallying and playing
with it, like a mother with her babe. See how she
takes the little thing and gazes at it. Her eyes are
fixed on it—she dotes upon it because she loves it.
Thus we may know an idol if we examine our own
hearts—by what our imagination, desires and secret
thoughts are going out after.
Instead of being spiritually minded, having his
heart and affections in heaven, he has something
in his mind which it is going out after—something
or other laying hold of the affections.
The child of God has, more or less, all these evil
propensities working within. There is idolatry in
every man's heart. How deep this idolatry is
rooted in a man's heart! How it steals upon his
soul! Whatever is indulged in—how it creeps over
him, until it gets such power that it becomes master.
A man does not know himself—if he does not
know what power this idolatry has over him.
None but God can make the man know it—and
when the Lord delivers him, he then turns to
God and says, "What a vile wretch I have been!
What a monster to go after these idols, loving
this thing, and that. A wretch—a monster of
iniquity, the vilest wretch that ever crawled
on the face of God's earth—for my wicked
heart to go out after these idols!"
When the soul is brought down to a sense of its
vileness and loathsomeness—and God's patience
and forbearance—it turns to God from idols, to
serve the only living and true God, who pardons
Through the inward conflicts,
Through the inward conflicts, secret workings,
mysterious changes, and ever-varying exercises
of his soul, the true Christian becomes established
in a deep experience of . . .
his own folly and God's wisdom,
his own weakness and Christ's strength,
his own sinfulness and the Lord's goodness,
his own backslidings and the Spirit's recoveries,
his own base ingratitude and Jehovah's patience,
the aboundings of sin and the super-aboundings of grace.
He thus becomes daily more and more confirmed in . . .
the vanity of the creature,
the utter helplessness of man,
the deceitfulness and hypocrisy of the human heart,
the sovereignty of distinguishing grace,
the fewness of heaven-taught ministers,
the scanty number of living souls,
and the great rareness of true religion.
Wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores
"The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
From the sole of the foot even unto the head, there
is no soundness in it—but only wounds, and
and putrefying sores. They have not been closed,
neither bound up, neither soothed with ointment."
Every thought, word, and action is polluted by sin.
Every mental faculty is depraved.
The will chooses evil.
The affections cleave to earthly things.
The memory, like a broken sieve,
retains the bad and lets fall the good.
The judgment, like a bribed or drunken judge,
pronounces mindless or wrong decisions.
The conscience, like an opium eater, lies
asleep and drugged in stupefied silence.
When all these 'master faculties of the mind' are
so drunken and disorderly—need we wonder that
the bodily members are a godless, rebellious crew?
Lusts call out for gratification.
Unbelief and infidelity murmur.
Tempers growl and mutter.
Every bad passion strives hard for the mastery.
O the evils of the human heart, which, let loose,
have filled earth with misery, and hell with victims;
which deluged the world with the flood—burnt
Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from heaven—and
are ripening the world for the final conflagration!
Every sin which . . .
has made this fair earth a 'present hell';
has filled the air with groans; and
has drenched the ground with blood;
dwells in your heart and mine!
Now, as this is opened up to the conscience by the
Spirit of God—we feel indeed to be of all men most
sinful and miserable—and of all most guilty, polluted,
and vile. But it is this—and nothing but this—which
cuts to pieces our 'fleshly righteousness, wisdom, and
strength'—which slays our delusive hopes—and lays us
low at the footstool of mercy—without one good thought,
word, or action to propitiate an angry Judge.
It is this which brings the soul to this point—
that if saved, it can only be saved by the
free grace, sovereign mercy, and tender
compassion of Almighty God.
"They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary
way; they found no city to dwell in." Psalm 107:4
The true Christian finds this world to be a wilderness.
There is no change in the world itself.
The change is in the man's heart.
The wilderness wanderer thinks it
different world from what he has hitherto known . . .
his own family,
the employment in which he is daily engaged,
the general pursuits of men—
their cares and anxieties,
their hopes and prospects,
their amusements and pleasures, and
what I may call 'the general din and whirl of life',
all seem to him different to what they were—and
for a time perhaps he can scarcely tell whether the
change is in them, or in himself.
This however is the prominent and uppermost feeling
in his mind—that he finds himself, to his surprise—a
wanderer in a world which has changed altogether its
appearance to him. The fair, beautiful world, in which was
all his happiness and all his home—has become to him
a dreary wilderness.
Sin has been fastened in its conviction on his conscience.
The Holy Spirit has taken the veil of unbelief and ignorance
off his heart. He now sees the world in a wholly different
light–and instead of a paradise it has become a wilderness—
for sin, dreadful sin, has marred all its beauty and happiness.
It is not because the world itself has changed that the Christian
feels it to be a wilderness—but because he himself has changed.
There is nothing in this world which can really gratify or satisfy
the true Christian. What once was to him a happy and joyous
world has now become a barren wilderness.
The scene of his former . . .
anticipations of profit or happiness—
is now turned into a barren wasteland.
He cannot perhaps tell how or why the change has
taken place, but he feels it—deeply feels it. He may
try to shake off his trouble and be a little cheerful
and happy as he was before—but if he gets a little
imaginary relief, all his guilty pangs come back upon
him with renewed strength and increased violence.
God means to make the world a wilderness to every
child of His, that he may not find his happiness in it,
but be a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth.
"The Lord knows how to deliver the godly
out of temptations." 2 Peter 2:9
Few will sincerely and spiritually go to the Lord,
and cry from their hearts to be delivered from the
power of a temptation—until it presses
upon their conscience, and lies so heavy a burden
upon their soul, that none but God can remove it.
But when we really feel the burden of a temptation;
when, though our flesh may love it, our spirit hates
it—when, though there may be in our carnal mind a
cleaving to it, our conscience bleeds under it, and
we are brought spiritually to loathe it and to loathe
ourselves for it—when we are enabled to go to the
Lord in real sincerity of soul and honesty of heart,
beseeching Him to deliver us from it—I believe, that
the Lord will, sooner or later, either remove that
temptation entirely in His providence or
by His grace,
or so weaken its power that it shall cease to be what
it was before, drawing our feet into paths of darkness
As long, however, as we are in that state of which
the prophet speaks, "Their heart is divided—now
shall they be found faulty" (Hosea 10:2)—as long
as we are in that carnal, wavering mind, which James
describes—"A double minded man is unstable in all
his ways;" as long as we are hankering after the
temptation, casting longing, lingering
after it, rolling it as a sweet morsel under our tongue;
and though conscience may testify against it, yet not
willing to have it taken away, there is . . .
no hearty cry,
nor spiritual breathing of our soul,
that God would remove it from us.
But when we are brought, as in the presence of a heart-
searching God, to hate the evil to which we are tempted;
and cry to Him that He would—for His honor and for our
soul's good—take the temptation away, or
deaden its power—sooner or later the Lord will hear
the cry of those who groan to be delivered from those
temptations, which are so powerfully
down to the dust.
Idling life away like an idiot or a madman
When one is spiritually reborn, he
sees at one and the same moment . . .
God and self,
justice and guilt,
power and helplessness,
a holy law and a broken commandment,
eternity and time,
the purity of the Creator, and
the filthiness of the creature.
And these things he sees—not merely as
declared in the Bible—but as revealed in
himself as personal realities, involving all
his happiness or all his misery in time and
in eternity. Thus it is with him as though
a new existence had been communicated,
and as if for the first time he had found
there was a God!
It is as though all his days he had been asleep,
and were now awakened—asleep upon the top of
a mast, with the raging waves beneath—as if all
his past life were a dream, and the dream were
now at an end. He has been . . .
blowing soap bubbles,
fishing for minnows,
building houses of cards, and
idling life away like an idiot or a madman.
He had been perhaps wrapped up in a religious
profession—advanced even to the office of a deacon,
or mounted in a pulpit. He had learned to talk about
Christ, and election, and grace, and fill his mouth
with the language of Zion.
But what did he experimentally know of these
things? Nothing, absolutely nothing!
Ignorant of his own ignorance (of all kinds of
ignorance the worst)—he thought himself rich,
and increased with goods, and to have need of
nothing—and knew not that he was wretched,
and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
This wily devil!
What a foe to one's peace is one's own spirit!
What shall I call it? It is often an infernal spirit.
Why? Because it bears the mark of Satan upon it.
The pride of our spirit,
the presumption of our spirit,
the hypocrisy of our spirit,
the intense selfishness of our spirit,
are often hidden from us.
This wily devil, SELF, can wear such
masks and assume such forms!
This serpent, SELF, can so creep and crawl,
can so twist and turn, and can disguise itself
under such false appearances—that it is often
hidden from ourselves.
Who is the greatest enemy we have to fear? We all
have our enemies. But who is our greatest enemy?
He whom you carry in your own bosom—your daily,
hourly, and unmovable companion, who entwines
himself in nearly every thought of your heart—who . . .
sometimes puffs up with pride,
sometimes inflames with lust,
sometimes inflates with presumption, and
sometimes works under pretend humility and fleshly holiness.
God is determined to stain the pride of human glory.
He will never let SELF, (which is but another word for
the creature,) wear the crown of victory. It must be
crucified, denied, and mortified.
To bathe in the ocean of endless bliss!
"Blessed are those whose strength is in You,
who have set their hearts on
As they pass through the Valley of Baca, ("weeping")
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with
They go from strength to strength,
until each appears before God in
Every living soul that has been experimentally taught
his lost condition—that has known something of a resting
place in Christ—that has turned his back upon both the
world and the professing church—and gone weeping
Zionward, that he may . . .
live in Jesus
feel His power,
taste His love,
know His blood,
rejoice in His grace;
every such soul shall, like Israel of old, be borne safely
through this waste howling wilderness—shall be carried
through this valley of tears—and taken to enjoy eternal
bliss and glory in the presence of Jesus—to bathe
ocean of endless bliss!
Your eyes will see the King in His beauty!
"Your eyes will see the King in His beauty!"
Where in heaven or on earth can there be found such
a lovely Object as the Son of God? If you have never
seen any beauty in Jesus . . .
you have never seen Jesus,
He has never revealed Himself to you,
you never had a glimpse of His lovely face,
nor a sense of His presence,
nor a word from His lips,
nor a touch from His hand.
But if you have seen Him by the eye of faith—and
He has revealed Himself to you even in a small
measure—you have seen a beauty in Him beyond
all other beauties, for it is . . .
a holy beauty,
a divine beauty,
the beauty of His heavenly grace,
the beauty of His uncreated and eternal glory.
How beautiful and glorious does He show Himself to be
in His atoning blood and dying love. Even as sweating
great drops of blood in Gethsemane's gloomy garden,
and as hanging in torture and agony upon Calvary's
cross—faith can see a beauty in the glorious Redeemer,
even in the lowest depths of ignominy and shame!
"How is your Beloved better than others?"
"My Beloved is dark and dazzling, better
than ten thousand others!" Song 5:9-10
Can the Ethiopian change his skin?
"Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the
leopard its spots? Neither can you do good
who are accustomed to doing evil."
Before the soul can know anything about salvation,
it must learn deeply and experimentally the nature of
sin—and of itself, as stained and polluted by sin.
The soul is proud—and needs to be humbled.
The soul is careless—and needs to be awakened.
The soul is alive—and needs to be killed.
The soul is full—and requires to be emptied.
The soul is whole—and needs to be wounded.
The soul is clothed—and requires to be stripped.
The soul is, by nature . . .
buried deep in worldliness and carnality,
utterly blind and ignorant,
filled with . . .
It hates all that is heavenly and spiritual.
Sin, in all its various forms, is its natural element.
To make man the direct opposite of what he originally is . . .
to make him love God—instead of hating Him;
to make him fear God—instead of mocking Him;
to make him obey God—instead of rebelling against Him;
to make him to tremble at His dreadful majesty—
instead of defiantly charging against Him;
to do this mighty work, and to effect this wonderful
change—requires the implantation of a new nature by
the immediate hand of God Himself!
"Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the
leopard its spots? Neither can you do good
who are accustomed to doing evil."
That Heavenly Teacher
We do not learn that we are sinners merely
by reading it in the Bible. It must be wrought—
I might say, burnt into us.
Nor will anyone sincerely and spiritually cry for
mercy—until sin is spiritually felt and known . . .
in its misery,
in its dominion,
in its guilt,
in its entanglements,
in its wiles and allurements,
in its filth and pollution, and
in its condemnation.
Where the Holy Spirit works, He kindles . . .
wrestlings, and pleadings
to know Christ, feel His love, taste the efficacy
of His atoning blood, and embrace Him as all
our salvation and all our desire.
And though there may, and doubtless will be,
much barrenness, hardness, deadness, and
apparent carelessness often felt—still that
heavenly Teacher will revive His work—though
often by painful methods—nor will He let the
quickened soul rest short of a personal and
experimental enjoyment of Christ and His
Preserving grace before regeneration
"To those who have been called,
who are loved by God the Father
and preserved in Jesus Christ."
What a mercy it is for God's people that before
they have a 'vital union' with Christ—before they
are grafted into Him experimentally—they have an
'eternal, immanent union' with Him before all worlds.
It is by virtue of this eternal union that they come
into the world . . .
at such a time,
at such a place,
from such parents,
under such circumstances,
as God has appointed.
It is by virtue of this eternal union that the circumstances
of their lives are ordained. By virtue of this eternal union
they are preserved in Christ before they are effectually
They cannot die until God has brought about a vital
union with Christ!
Whatever sickness they may pass through—whatever
injuries they may be exposed to—whatever perils assault
them on sea or land—die they will not, die they cannot;
until God's purposes are executed in bringing them into
a vital union with the Son of His love.
Thus, this eternal union watched over every circumstance
of their birth, watched over their childhood, watched over
their manhood, watched over them until the appointed
time and spot, when "the God of all grace," according to
His eternal purpose, was pleased to quicken their souls,
and thus bring about an experimental union with the Lord
of life and glory.
"If the Son sets you free, you will be
To be made free implies a liberty from
and the spirit of covetousness in the heart. If we
were to follow into their shops some who talk much
of 'gospel liberty', we might find that the world's
fetter had not been struck off their heart—that they
had a 'golden' chain, though invisible to their own
eyes, very closely wrapped round their heart.
And there is a being made free from the
power of SIN.
I greatly fear, if we could follow into their holes and
corners, and secret chambers, many who prattle about
gospel liberty, we would find that sin had not yet lost
its hold upon them, that there was some secret or open
sin that entangled them, that there was . . .
some evil temper,
some wretched pride or other,
that wound its fetters very close round their heart.
And also there is a being made free from
SELF . . .
self-exalting self, flesh-pleasing self,
self in all its various shapes and turns,
self in all its crooked hypocrisy and windings.
"If the Son sets you free, you will be
These fugitive, transitory things
"The world and its desires pass away, but the man
who does the will of God lives forever." 1 John 2:17
There is a reality in true religion, and indeed,
rightly viewed, a reality in nothing else. For every
other thing passes away like a dream of the night,
and comes to an end like a tale that is told. Now
you cannot say of a thing that passes away and
comes to an end—that it is real. It may have the
appearance of reality—when in fact it is but a shadow.
Money, jewels, pictures, books, furniture, securities,
are transitory. Money may be spent, jewels be lost,
books be burnt, furniture decay, pictures vanish by
time and age, securities be stolen.
Nothing is real but that which has an abiding substance.
beauty flees the cheek,
sight and hearing grow dim,
the mind itself gets feeble,
riches make to themselves wings and flee away,
old age creeps on,
and life itself comes to a close.
These fugitive, transitory things are
then mere shadows.
There is no substance, no enduring substance in them. They
are for time, and are useful for a time. Like our daily food
and clothing, house and home—they support and solace us
in our journey through life. But there they stop—when life
ends they end with it.
But real religion—and by this I understand the work of God
upon the soul—abides in death and after death, goes with
us through the dark valley, and lands us safe in a blessed
eternity. It is, therefore, the only thing in this world of
which we can say that it is real.
"The world and its desires pass away, but the man
who does the will of God lives forever." 1 John 2:17
A sad motley mixture
(The following is an excerpt from Philpot's letter to
a church which desired him to come as their pastor)
"I am less than the least of all God's people."
"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;
of whom I am the worst." 1 Timothy 1:15
Many are foolishly apt to think that a minister is more
spiritual than anyone else. But I am daily more and more
sensible of the desperate wickedness of my deceitful heart,
and my miserable ruined state as a sinner by nature and by
practice. I feel utterly unworthy of the name of a Christian,
and to be ranked among the followers of the Lamb.
I have no desire to palm myself off on any church, as
though I were anything. I am willing to take a low place.
The more you see of me, you will be sure to find out more of
my infirmities, failings, waywardness, selfishness, obstinacy,
and evil temper. I am carnal, very proud, very foolish in
imagination, very slothful, very worldly, dark, stupid, blind,
unbelieving and ignorant.
I cannot but confess that I am a strange compound—a sad
motley mixture of all the most hateful and abominable vices
that rise up within me, and face me at every turn.
When You shall enlarge my heart.
"I will run the way of Your commandments, when
You shall enlarge my heart." Psalm 119:32
The Word of God is full of precepts—but we are totally
unable to perform them in our own strength. We cannot,
without divine assistance, perform the precept . . .
with a single eye to the glory of God,
from heavenly motives, and
in a way acceptable to the Lord,
without special power from on high.
We need an extraordinary power to be put forth in our
hearts—a special work of the Spirit upon the conscience,
in order to spiritually fulfill in the slightest degree, the
least of God's commandments.
None but the Lord Himself can enlarge the heart
of His people. None but the Lord can expand their
hearts Godwards, and remove that narrowedness
and contractedness in divine things—which is the
plague and burden of a God-fearing soul.
When the Lord is absent,
when He hides His lovely face,
when He does not draw near to visit and bless,
the heart contracts in its own narrow compass.
But when the Lord is pleased to favor the soul with His
own gracious presence, and bring Himself near to the
heart, His felt presence opens, enlarges, and expands
the soul—so as to receive Him in all His love and grace.
"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my
deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take
refuge. He is my shield and the horn of
salvation—my stronghold." Psalm 18:2
On every side are hosts of enemies ever
invading our souls—trampling down every
good thing in our hearts—accompanied by
a flying troop of temptations, doubts, fears,
guilt and bondage sweeping over our soul.
And we, as regards our own strength,
are helpless against them.
But there is a refuge set before us in the
gospel of the grace of God. The Lord Jesus
Christ, as King in Zion, is there held up
before our eyes as . . .
the Rock of our refuge,
our strong Tower,
our impregnable Fortress;
and we are encouraged by every precious promise
and every gospel invitation when we are overrun
and distressed by these wandering, ravaging,
plundering tribes—to flee unto and find a safe
refuge in Him.
"Keep me safe, O God, for in You I take refuge."
"O Lord my God, I take refuge in You;
and deliver me from all who pursue me."
"For God, who commanded the light to shine out
of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give
the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in
the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Cor. 4:6
Until, then, this supernatural light of
enters into the soul, a man has no saving
knowledge of Jehovah. He may . . .
say his prayers,
read his Bible, attend preaching,
bestow all his goods to feed the poor,
or give his body to be burned;
but he is as ignorant of God as
the cattle that graze in the fields!
He may—call himself a Christian, and be
thought such by others—talk much about
Jesus Christ, hold a sound creed—maintain
a consistent profession—pray at a prayer
meeting with fluency and apparent feeling,
stand up in a pulpit and contend earnestly
for the doctrines of grace—excel hundreds
of God's children in zeal, knowledge and
And yet, if this ray of supernatural light has
never shone into his soul—he is only twofold
more the child of hell than those who make
(from Philpot's biography, written by his son)
There was nothing my father mistrusted more
than 'childhood piety.' He insisted that children
should never be taught or allowed to use the
language of 'personal possession' in reference
to God. To sing, for instance, "Rock of Ages,
cleft for ME" or, "MY Jesus".
Herein he was most logical. For by early influence
and example you can train up a child to be . . .
a little patriot,
a little Catholic,
a little Calvinist, or
a little Bolshevist.
But no power on earth can make him a child of God.
He took great care that we, his children, attended
the means of grace, and never missed chapel or
family prayers. But he never expected us to be
anything but little heathen. We had,
it is true,
to be well behaved little heathen.
If not, we got
"the stick", or its equivalent.
"Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the
flesh, nor of the will of man—but of God." John 1:13
My desire is . . .
to exalt the grace of God;
to proclaim salvation through Jesus Christ alone;
to declare the sinfulness, helplessness and
hopelessness of man in a state of nature;
to describe the living experience of the
children of God in their . . .
And how is he lost?
"O visit me with Your salvation." Psalm 106:4
Salvation only suits the condemned—the lost.
A man must be lost—utterly lost—before he
can prize God's salvation.
And how is he lost? By . . .
losing all his religion,
losing all his righteousness,
losing all his strength,
losing all his confidence,
losing all his hopes,
losing all that is of the flesh;
losing it by its being taken from him,
and stripped away by the hand of God.
Wearied, torn, and half expiring
The poor sheep has gone astray; and having
once left the fold, it is pretty sure to have gotten
into some strange place or other. It has fallen
down a rock—or has rolled into a ditch—or is
hidden beneath a bush—or has crept into a
cave—or is lying in some deep, distant ravine,
where none but an experienced eye and hand
can find it out.
Just so with the Lord's lost sheep. They
get into strange places. They . . .
fall off rocks,
slip into holes,
hide among the bushes, and
sometimes creep off to die in caverns.
When the sheep has gone astray, the shepherd
goes after it to find it. Here he sees a footprint;
there a little lock of wool torn off by the thorns.
Every nook he searches—into every corner he looks–
until at last he finds the poor sheep wearied,
and half expiring, with scarcely strength enough to
groan forth its misery. The shepherd does not beat
it home, nor thrust the goad into its back—but he
gently takes it up, lays it upon his shoulder, and
brings it home rejoicing.
I am weak and ignorant, full of sin
I am weak and ignorant, full of sin and
compassed with infirmity. But I bless God
that He has in some measure shown me
the power of eternal things, and by free
and sovereign grace stopped me in that
career of vanity and sin in which, to all
outward appearance, I was fast hurrying
down to the chambers of death.
By the grace of God
"By the grace of God I am what I am."
1 Cor. 15:10
What but sovereign grace—rich, free and
super-abounding grace—has made the
difference between you and the world
who cannot receive Him?
But for His divine operations upon your
soul, you would still be of the world, hardening
your heart against everything good and godlike,
walking on in the pride and ignorance of unbelief
and self-righteousness, until you sank down into
the chambers of death!
The outpouring of the everlasting wrath of God
"The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."
What heart can conceive, what tongue express
what the holy soul of Christ endured when "the
Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all?"
In the garden of Gethsemane . . .
what a load of guilt,
what a weight of sin,
what an intolerable burden of the wrath of God,
did that sacred humanity endure, until the pressure
of sorrow and woe forced the drops of blood to fall
as sweat from His brow!
When the blessed Lord was made sin (or a sin offering)
for us, He endured in His holy soul all the pangs of . . .
guilt that all the elect would have felt in hell forever
as they would have experienced under the outpouring
of the everlasting wrath of God . . .
the unutterable horror.
What heart can conceive—what tongue express—the
bitter anguish which must have wrung the soul of our
suffering Substitute under this agonizing experience?
Struggling against the power of sin?
How many poor souls are struggling against the
power of sin, and yet never get any victory over it!
How many are daily led captive by . . .
the lusts of the flesh,
the love of the world,
and the pride of life,
and never get any victory over them!
How many fight and grapple with tears, vows,
and strong resolutions against their besetting
sins, who are still entangled and overcome by
them again and again! Now, why is this?
Because they do not know the secret of spiritual
strength against, and spiritual victory over them.
It is only by virtue of a living union with the
Lord Jesus Christ—drinking into His sufferings
and death—and receiving out of His fullness,
that we can gain any victory over . . .
Sin is never really or effectually subdued in any other way.
It is not by legalistic strivings and earnest resolutions,
vows, and tears—the vain struggle of 'religious flesh'
to subdue 'sinful flesh'—that can overcome sin.
But it is by a believing acquaintance with, and a
spiritual entrance into the sufferings and sorrows
of the Son of God—having a living faith in Him,
and receiving out of His fullness supplies of grace
"But the anointing which you have
Him abides in you." 1 John 2:27
All the powers of earth and hell are combined against
this holy anointing, with which the children of God are
so highly favored. But if God has locked up in the bosom
of a saint one drop of this divine unction, that one drop
is armor against . . .
all the assaults of sin,
all the attacks of Satan,
all the enmity of self, and
all the charms, pleasures, and amusements of the world.
Waves and billows of affliction may roll over the soul—
but they cannot wash away this holy drop of anointing oil.
Satan may shoot a thousand fiery darts to inflame all
the combustible material of our carnal mind—but all his
fiery darts cannot burn up that one drop of oil which
God has laid up in the depths of a broken spirit.
The world, with all its charms and pleasures, and its
deadly opposition to the truth of God, may stir up waves
of ungodliness against this holy anointing—but all the
powers of earth combined can never extinguish that
one drop which God has Himself lodged in the depths
of a believer's heart.
And so it has been with all the dear saints of God.
Not all their . . .
have ever—all combined, drunk up the anointing that
God has bestowed upon them. If sin could have done
it—we would have sinned ourselves into hell long ago;
and if the world or Satan could have destroyed it or
us—they would long ago have destroyed both. If our
carnal mind could have done it—it would have swept
us away into floods of destruction.
But the anointing abides sure, and cannot be destroyed;
and where once lodged in the soul, it is secure against
all the assaults of earth, sin, and hell.
"But the anointing which you have
Him abides in you." 1 John 2:27
Can I be a child of God, and be thus?
Perhaps you are a poor, tempted creature—and
your daily sorrow, your continual trouble is that
you are so soon overcome—that . . .
your worldliness, and
your carnal, corrupt heart
are perpetually getting the mastery.
And from this you sometimes draw bitter conclusions.
You say, in the depth of your heart, "Can I be a
of God, and be thus? What mark have I of being in
favor with God when I am so easily—so continually
But the Spirit reveals Christ—taking of the things of
Christ, and showing them unto us—applying the word
with power to our hearts, and bringing the sweetness,
reality, and blessedness of divine things into our soul.
It is only in this way that He overcomes all unbelief
and infidelity, doubt and fear, and sweetly assures
us that all is well between God and the soul.
Faith keeps eyeing the atonement—faith looks not
so much to sin, as to salvation from sin—at the way
whereby sin is pardoned, overcome, and subdued.
The truth shall make you free!
"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall
make you free!" John 8:32
To a spiritual mind, sweet and self-rewarding is the task, if
task it can be called, of searching the Word as for hidden
treasure. No sweeter, no better employment can engage
heart and hands than, in the spirit of prayer and meditation,
of separation from the world, of holy fear, of a desire to
know the will of God and do it, of humility, simplicity,
and godly sincerity—to seek to enter into those heavenly
mysteries which are stored up in the Scriptures—and this,
not to furnish the head with notions, but to feed the
soul with the bread of life.
Truth, received in the love and power of it . . .
informs and establishes the judgment,
softens and melts the heart,
warms and draws upward the affections,
makes and keeps the conscience alive and tender;
is the food of faith,
is the strength of hope,
is the main-spring of love.
To know the truth is to be made blessedly free . . .
free from error;
free from the vile heresies which everywhere abound;
free from presumption;
free from self-righteousness;
free from the curse and bondage of the law;
free from the condemnation of a guilty conscience;
free from a slavish fear of the opinion of men;
free from the contempt of the world;
free from the scorn of worldly professors;
free from following a multitude to do evil;
free from companionship with those who
have a name to live, but are dead.
"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall
make you free!" John 8:32
Sin cannot be subdued in any other way.
"The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by
faith in the Son of God." Galatians 2:20
There is no way except by being spiritually immersed
into Christ's death and life—that we can ever get a
victory over our besetting sins. If, on the one hand,
we have a view of a suffering Christ, and thus become
immersed into His sufferings and death—the feeling,
while it lasts, will subdue the power of sin.
Or, on the other hand, if we get a believing view of
a risen Christ, and receive supplies of grace out of
His fullness—that will lift us above sin's dominion.
If sin is powerfully working in us, we need one of
these two things to subdue it.
When there is a view of the sufferings and sorrows,
agonies and death of the Son of God—power comes
down to the soul in its struggles against sin—and
gives it a measure of holy resistance and subduing
strength against it.
So, when there is a coming in of the grace and love
of Christ—it lifts up the soul from the love and power
of sin into a purer and holier atmosphere. Sin
be subdued in any other way. You must either be
immersed into Christ's sufferings and death—or you
must be immersed into Christ's resurrection and life.
A sight of Him as a suffering God—or a view of Him as
a risen Jesus—must be connected with every successful
attempt to get the victory over sin, death, hell, and the
You may strive, vow, and repent—and what does it
all amount to? You sink deeper and deeper into sin
than before. Pride, lust, and covetousness come in
like a flood—and you are swamped and carried away
almost before you are aware!
But if you get a view of a suffering Christ, or of a
risen Christ—if you get a taste of His dying love—a
drop of His atoning blood—or any manifestation of
His beauty and blessedness—there comes from this
spiritual immersion into His death or His life a subduing
power—and this gives a victory over temptation and
sin which nothing else can or will give.
Yet I believe we are often many years learning this
divine secret—striving to repent and reform, and cannot;
until at last by divine teaching we come to learn a little
of what the Apostle meant when he said, "The life I now
live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God." And
when we can get into this life of faith—this hidden life,
then our affections are set on things above.
There is no use setting to work by 'legal strivings'—they
only plunge you deeper in the ditch. You must get Christ
into your soul by the power of God—and then He will
subdue—by His smiles, blood, love, and presence—every
Two kinds of repentance
"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to
salvation and leaves no regret—but worldly
sorrow brings death." 2 Cor. 7:10
There are two kinds of repentance which
need to be
carefully distinguished from each other, though they
are often sadly confounded—evangelical repentance,
and legal repentance.
Cain, Esau, Saul, Ahab, Judas, all repented—but their
repentance was the remorse of natural conscience—not
the godly sorrow of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
They trembled before God as an angry judge—but were
not melted into contrition before Him as a forgiving Father.
They neither hated their sins nor forsook them—they
neither loved holiness nor sought it.
Cain went out from the presence of the Lord;
Esau plotted Jacob's death;
Saul consulted the witch of Endor;
Ahab put honest Micaiah into prison;
and Judas hanged himself.
How different from this forced and false repentance of
a reprobate, is the repentance of a child of God—that true
repentance for sin, that godly sorrow, that holy mourning
which flows from the Spirit's gracious operations.
This repentance does not spring from a sense of the wrath of
God in a broken law—but from His mercy in a blessed gospel—
from a view by faith of the sufferings of Christ in the garden
and on the cross—from a manifestation of pardoning love;
and is always attended with self-loathing and self-abhorrence,
with deep and unreserved confession of sin and forsaking it,
with most hearty, sincere, and earnest petitions to be kept
from all evil, and a holy longing to live to the praise and
glory of God.
Have we nothing to give to Christ?
our trials, and above all,
the salvation and sanctification of our souls.
And what has He to give us? What? Why . . .
everything worth having, everything worth a moment's anxious thought,
everything for time and eternity!
After you have suffered a while
"But the God of all grace, who has called us unto
His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have
suffered a while—make you perfect, establish,
strengthen, settle you." 1 Peter 5:10
There is no divine establishment, no spiritual
strength, no solid settlement—except by suffering.
But after the soul has suffered, after it has felt
God's chastising hand, the effect is . . .
and to settle it.
By suffering, a man becomes settled into a solemn
conviction of the character of Jehovah as revealed
in the Scripture, and in a measure made experimentally
manifest in his conscience. He is settled in the persuasion
that "all things work together for good to those who love
God, and are the called according to His purpose"—in the
firm conviction that everything comes to pass according
to God's eternal purpose—and are all tending to the good
of the Church, and to God's eternal glory.
His soul, too, is settled down into a deep persuasion of
the misery, wretchedness, and emptiness of the creature;
into the conviction that the world is but a shadow—and
that the things of time and sense are but bubbles that
burst the moment they are grasped—that of all things
sin is most to be dreaded—and the favor of God above
all things most to be coveted—that nothing is really
knowing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified—that all
things are passing away—and that he himself is rapidly
hurrying down the stream of life, and into the boundless
ocean of eternity.
Thus he becomes settled in a knowledge of the truth,
and his soul remains at anchor, looking to the Lord to
preserve him here, and bring him in peace and safety
to his eternal home.
In this scene of confusion and distraction
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
We do not know what we ought to pray for—but the
Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words
cannot express." Romans 8:26
"We do not know what we ought to pray for." How
often do we find and feel this to be our case . . .
darkness covers our mind;
ignorance pervades our soul;
unbelief vexes our spirit;
guilt troubles our conscience;
a crowd of evil imaginations, or foolish or worse
than foolish wanderings distract our thoughts;
Satan hurls in thick and fast his fiery darts;
a dense cloud is spread over the mercy-seat;
infidelity whispers its vile suggestions,
until, amid all this rabble throng, such confusion
and bondage prevail that words seem idle breath,
and prayer to the God of heaven but empty mockery.
In this scene of confusion and distraction,
all seems going to the wreck—how kind, how gracious
is it in the blessed Spirit to come, as it were, to the
rescue of the poor bewildered saint, and to teach
him how to pray and what to pray for.
He is therefore said "to help our weaknesses," for
these evils of which we have been speaking are not
willful, deliberate sins, but wretched infirmities of
the flesh. He helps, then, our infirmities—by subduing
the power and prevalence of unbelief—by commanding
in the mind a solemn calm—by rebuking and chasing
away Satan and his fiery darts—by awing the soul with
a reverential sense of the power and presence of God—
by presenting Jesus before our eyes as the Mediator at
the right hand of the Father—by raising up and drawing
forth faith upon His Person and work, blood and
righteousness—and, above all, by Himself interceding
for us and in us "with groans that words cannot express."
His own sore and his own afflictions
"When a prayer or plea is made by any of Your people
Israel—each one aware of his own sore and his own
afflictions, and spreading out his hands toward this
Temple—then hear from heaven, Your dwelling place.
Forgive, and deal with each man according to all he
does, since You know his heart, for You alone know
the hearts of men." 2 Chronicles 6:29-30
The man for whom Solomon prays is he who
knows and feels, painfully feels, his "own sore"
and his "own afflictions"—whose heart is indeed
a grief to him—whose sins do indeed trouble him.
How painful this sore often is!
How it runs night and day!
How full of ulcerous matter!
How it shrinks from the probe!
Most of the Lord's family have a "sore"—each
some tender spot—something perhaps known
to himself and to God alone—the cause of his
greatest grief. It may be . . .
some secret slip he has made,
some sin he has committed,
some word he has spoken, or
some evil thing he has done.
He has been entangled, and entrapped, and cast
down—and this is his grief and his sore which he
feels—and that at times deeply before God.
For such Solomon prays, "then hear from heaven,
Your dwelling place. Forgive, and deal with each
man according to all he does, since You know his
heart, for You alone know the hearts of men."
Yes—God alone knows the heart—He knows
it completely—and sees to its very bottom.
What are we, when we have no trials?
The Lord has appointed the path of sorrow for the
redeemed to walk in. Why? One purpose is to wean
them from the world—another purpose is to show them
the weakness of the creature—a third purpose is to
make them feel the liberty and vitality of genuine
godliness made manifest in their soul's experience.
What are we, when we have no trials?
We may talk of the things of God, but they
are at a distance—there are . . .
no solemn feelings,
no melting sensations,
no real brokenness,
no genuine contrition,
no weeping at the divine feet,
no embracing of Christ in the arms of affection.
What can bring a man here? A few dry notions
floating to and fro in his brain? That will never
bring the life and power of vital godliness into
a man's heart. It must be by being 'experimentally
acquainted with trouble'. When he is led into the
path of tribulation, he then begins to long after,
and, in God's own time and way, he begins to
drink into, the sweetness of vital godliness,
made manifest in his heart by the power of God.
When affliction brings a man down, it empties
him of all his high thoughts, and lays him low
in his own eyes.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit." Matthew 5:5
Spiritual poverty is a miserable feeling
emptiness before God, an inward sinking sensation
that there is nothing in our hearts spiritually good,
nothing which can deliver us from the justly merited
wrath of God, or save us from the lowest hell.
To be poor in spirit, then, is to have this wretched
emptiness of spirit, this nakedness and destitution
of soul before God.
He who has never thus known what it is to groan
before the Lord with breakings forth of heart as a
needy, naked wretch—he that has never felt his
miserable destitution and emptiness before the
eyes of a heart-searching God—has not yet
experienced what it is to be spiritually poor.
"I will satisfy her poor with bread." Psalm 132:15
What a sweetness there is in the word "satisfy!"
The world cannot satisfy the child of God.
Have we not tried, some of us perhaps for
many years, to get some satisfaction from it?
But can wife or husband satisfy us?
Can children or relatives satisfy us?
Can all the world calls good or great satisfy us?
Can the pleasures of sin satisfy us?
Is there not in all an aching void? Do we not reap
dissatisfaction and disappointment from everything
that is of the creature, and of the flesh? Do we not
find that there is little else but sorrow to be reaped
from everything in this world? There is little else to
be gathered from the world but . . .
"vanity and vexation of spirit."
The poor soul looks round upon the world and the
creature—upon all the occupations, amusements
and relations of life—and finds all one melancholy
harvest—so that all it reaps is sorrow, perplexity,
Now when a man is brought here—to desire satisfaction,
something to make him happy, something to fill up the
aching void, something to bind up broken bones, bleeding
wounds, and leprous sores—and after he has looked at
everything—at doctrines, opinions, notions, speculations,
forms, rites and ceremonies in religion—at the world with
all its charms—and at self with all its varied workings, and
found nothing but bitterness of spirit, vexation and trouble
in them all, and thus sinks down a miserable wretch—why,
then when the Lord opens up to him something of the bread
of life, he finds a satisfaction in that which he never could
gain from any other quarter.
And that is the reason why the Lord so afflicts his people;
why some carry about with them such weak, suffering
bodies; why some have so many family troubles; why
others are so deeply steeped in poverty; why others have
such rebellious children; and why others are so exercised
with spiritual sorrows that they scarcely know what will
be the end.
It is all for one purpose—to make them miserable out
of Christ—dissatisfied except with gospel food—to render
them so wretched and uncomfortable that God alone can
make them happy, and alone can speak consolation to
their troubled minds.
The religion of a dead professor . . .
How different the religion of a child of God
is, from the religion of a dead professor!
The religion of a dead professor . . .
begins in self, and ends in self;
begins in his own wisdom, and ends in his own folly;
begins in his own strength, and ends in his own weakness;
begins in his own righteousness, and ends in his own damnation!
There is in him never any going out of soul
after God, no secret dealings with the Lord.
But the child of God, though he is often faint, weary,
and exhausted with many difficulties, burdens and
sorrows—yet he never can be satisfied except in living
union and communion with the Lord of life and glory.
Everything short of that leaves him empty.
All the things of time and sense leave a child of God
unsatisfied. Nothing but vital union and communion
with the Lord of life, to . . .
feel His presence,
taste His love,
enjoy His favor,
see His glory;
nothing but this will ever satisfy the desires
of ransomed and regenerated souls. This the
Lord indulges His people with.
Have we not leaned upon a thousand things?
"If you lean on Egypt, you will find it to
be a stick that breaks beneath your weight
and pierces your hand." Isaiah 36:6
Have we not leaned upon a thousand things?
And what have they proved? Broken reeds that
have run into our hands, and pierced us . . .
our own strength and resolutions,
the world and the church,
sinners and saints,
friends and enemies,
have they not all proved, more or less, broken reeds?
The more we have leaned upon them, like a man
leaning upon a sword, the more have they pierced
The Lord Himself has to wean us . . .
from the world,
in order to bring us to lean upon Himself; and
every prop He will remove, sooner or later, that
we may lean wholly and solely upon His Person,
love, blood, and righteousness.
Poor, moping, dejected creatures
We are, most of us, so fettered down by . . .
the chains of time and sense,
the cares of life and daily business,
the weakness of our earthly frame,
the distracting claims of a family, and
the miserable carnality and sensuality of our fallen nature,
that we live at best a poor, dragging, dying life.
Many of us are poor, moping, dejected creatures.
We have . . .
a variety of trials and afflictions,
a daily cross and
the continual plague of an evil heart.
We know enough of ourselves to know that in SELF
there is neither help nor hope, and never expect a
smoother path, a better, wiser, holier heart. As then . . .
the weary man seeks rest,
the hungry man seeks food,
the thirsty man seeks drink,
and the sick man seeks health,
so do we stretch forth our hearts and arms that we
may embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, and sensibly
realize union and communion with Him.
He discovers the evil and misery of sin that we may
seek pardon in His bleeding wounds and pierced side.
He makes known to us our nakedness and shame,
and, as such, our exposure to God's wrath, that we
may hide ourselves under His justifying robe.
He puts gall and wormwood into the world's choicest
draughts, that we may have no sweetness but in and
No sight, short of this
"He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree."
1 Peter 2:24
We beg of the Lord, sometimes, to give us . . .
a broken heart,
a contrite spirit,
a tender conscience,
and a humble mind.
But it is only a view by faith of what the gracious
Redeemer endured upon the cross, when He bore
our sins in his own body with all their weight and
pressure, and with all the anger of God due to them,
that can really melt a hard, and break a stony heart.
No sight, short of this, can make sin
felt to be hateful;
bring tears of godly sorrow out of the eyes, sobs of true
repentance out of the breast, and the deepest, humblest
confessions before God as to what dreadful sinners and
base backsliders we have been before the eyes of His
infinite Purity, Majesty, and Holiness.
Oh, what hope is there for our guilty souls; what
refuge from the wrath of God so justly our due;
what shelter from the curse of a fiery law, except
it be in the cross of Jesus?
O for a view of Him revealed to the eyes of our
enlightened understanding, as bearing our sins
in His own body on the tree!
The penetrating light of the Spirit
"For God . . . made His light shine in our hearts
to give us the light of the knowledge of the
glory of God in the face of Christ." 2 Cor. 4:6
"But you have an anointing from the Holy One,
and all of you know the truth." 1 John 2:20
The only saving light is the light of God shining
into the soul—giving us to see and know "the only
true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent."
A man may have the clearest light in his judgment,
and yet never have the penetrating light of the
producing conviction in his soul. He may have the
soundest knowledge of the doctrines of grace, and
see the harmonious scheme of salvation—and yet
never have by divine teaching, seen a holy God, nor
have ever felt the spirituality of God's righteous law
condemning him as a transgressor.
If we do not have this penetrating light of the
Spirit, we shall be sure to go astray. We shall . . .
be entangled in some error,
plunge into some heresy,
imbibe some doctrine of devils,
drink into some dreadful delusion,
or fall into some dreadful sin, and
have our faith shipwrecked forever.
A false light can but wreck us on the rocks of
presumption or despair. But the light of divine
life in the soul is accompanied with all the
graces of the Spirit. It is . . .
the light of the glory of God,
the light of Jesus' countenance,
and the light of the Spirit's teaching,
and therefore an infallible guide and guard.
And this infallible pilot will guide the soul
to whom it is given safe into the harbor of
endless rest and peace.
All true religion
Jesus is . . .
our sun, and without Him all is darkness;
our life, and without Him all is death;
the beginner and finisher of our faith;
the substance of our hope;
the object of our love.
It is the Spirit who quickens us . . .
to feel our need of Christ;
to seek all our supplies in Him and from Him;
to believe in Him unto everlasting life,
and thus live a life of faith upon Him.
By His . . .
manifestations of Christ's glorious Person and work,
Christ's agonizing sufferings and dying love,
the Holy Spirit draws the heart up to Christ.
He thus wins our affections, and setting Christ
before our eyes as "the chief among ten thousand
and the altogether lovely One," draws out that love
and affection towards Jesus which puts the world
under our feet.
All true religion flows from the
presence and power.
The regenerating operations of the Holy Spirit
From the very nature of the fall, it is impossible
for a dead soul to . . .
believe in God,
or love God.
It must be quickened into spiritual life before it can
savingly know the only true God. And thus there lies
at the very threshold—in the very heart and core of
the case—the absolute necessity of the regenerating
operations of the Holy Spirit upon the soul.
The very completeness and depth of the fall render the
regenerating work of the Holy Spirit as necessary, as
indispensable as the redeeming work of the Son of God.
This hard school of painful experience
In times of trial and darkness, the saints and servants
of God are instructed. They see and feel what the flesh
really is, how alienated from the life of God—they learn
in whom all their strength and sufficiency lie—they are
taught that in them, that is, in their flesh, dwells no
good thing—that no exertions of their own can maintain
in strength and vigor the life of God—and that all they
are and have, all they believe, know, feel, and enjoy,
with all their ability, usefulness, gifts, and grace—flow
from the pure, sovereign grace—the rich, free, undeserved,
yet unceasing goodness and mercy of God.
They learn in this hard school of painful
their emptiness and nothingness—and that without Christ
indeed they can do nothing. They thus become clothed
with humility, that lovely, becoming garb—cease from
their own strength and wisdom—and learn experimentally
that Christ is, and ever must be, all in all to them, and
all in all in them.
Many difficulties, obstacles, and hindrances
"Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press
on to know Him!" Hosea 6:3
The expression, "press on," implies that there are
difficulties, obstacles, and hindrances in a man's way,
which keep him back from "knowing the Lord." Now the
work of the Spirit in his soul is to carry him on in spite
of all these obstacles—to lead him forward—to keep
alive in him the fear of God—to strengthen him in his
inner man—to drop in those hopes—to communicate
that inward grace—so that he is compelled to press on.
Sometimes he seems driven,
sometimes led, and
but in one way or another the Spirit of God so
works upon him that, though he scarcely knows
how—he still "presses on."
His very burdens make him groan for deliverance—his
very temptations cause him to cry for help—the very
difficulty and ruggedness of the road make him want
to be carried every step—the very intricacy of the path
compels him to cry out for a guide—so that the Spirit
working in the midst of, and under, and through every
difficulty and discouragement, still bears him through,
and carries him on—and thus brings him through every
trial and trouble and temptation and obstacle, until He
sets him in glory.
It is astonishing to me how our souls are kept alive.
The Christian is a marvel to himself. Carried on, and
yet so secretly—worked upon, and yet so mysteriously;
and yet led on, guided, and supported through so many
difficulties and obstacles—that he is a miracle of mercy
as he is carried on amid all . . .
The poison fang of sin!
We must go down into the depths of the fall
to know what our hearts are, and what they are
capable of—we must have the keen knife of God
to cut deep gashes in our conscience and lay
bare the evil that lies so deeply imbedded in
our carnal mind—before we can enter into and
experience the beauty and blessedness of
salvation by grace.
"From the sole of the foot even unto the head
there is no soundness in it—but wounds, and
bruises, and putrefying sores—they have not
been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified
with ointment." Isaiah 1:6
When the Church of God fell in Adam, she fell with
a crash which broke every bone and bruised her
flesh with wounds which are ulcerated from head to toe.
Her understanding, her conscience, and her
affections were all fearfully maimed . . .
her understanding was blinded;
her conscience stupefied;
her affections alienated.
Every mental faculty thus became perverted and distorted.
When Adam fell into sin and temptation—sin rushed
into every faculty of body and soul—and penetrated
into the inmost recesses of his being.
As when a man is bitten by a poisonous serpent,
the venom courses through every artery and vein,
and he dies a corrupted mass from head to foot;
so did the poison fang of sin penetrate
Adam's inmost soul and body, and infect him
with its venom from the sole to the crown.
But it is only as sin's desperate and malignant
character is opened up by the Holy Spirit that it
is really seen, felt, grieved under, and mourned
over as indeed a most dreadful and fearful reality.
"The whole head is sick—and the whole heart faint."
Every thought, word, and action is polluted by sin.
Every mental faculty is depraved . . .
the will chooses evil;
the affections cleave to earthly things;
the memory, like a broken sieve,
retains the bad and lets fall the good;
the judgment, like a bribed or drunken judge,
pronounces heedless or wrong decisions;
the conscience, like an opium eater, lies
asleep and drugged in stupefied silence.
A penitent backslider and a forgiving God!
"And while he was still a long distance away,
his father saw him coming. Filled with love
and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced
him, and kissed him." Luke 15:20
After a child of God has enjoyed something of
the goodness and mercy of God revealed in the
face of His dear Son, he may wander from his
mercies—stray away from these choice gospel
pastures—and get into a waste howling wilderness,
where there is neither food nor water—and yet,
though half starved for poverty, has in himself
no power to return.
But in due time the Lord seeks out this wandering
sheep, and the first place he brings him to is the
mercy seat—confessing his sins and seeking mercy.
O what a meeting!
A penitent backslider and a forgiving God!
O what a meeting!
A guilty wretch drowned in tears—and a loving
Father falling upon his neck and kissing him!
O what a meeting for a poor, self-condemned wretch,
who can never mourn too deeply over his sins, and yet
finds grace super-abounding over all his abounding
sins—and the love of God bursting through the cloud,
like the sun upon an April day—and melting his heart
into contrition and love!
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
"Now has come the salvation." Rev. 12:10
The sweetest song that heaven ever proclaimed,
the most blessed note that ever melted the soul,
To be saved from . . .
death and hell;
the worm which dies not;
the fire which is not quenched;
the sulphurous flames of the bottomless pit;
the companionship of tormenting fiends;
all the foul wretches under which earth has groaned;
blaspheming God in unutterable woe;
an eternity of misery without hope;
and saved into . . .
the sight of Jesus as He is;
perfect holiness and happiness;
the blissful company of holy angels and glorified
saints! And all this during the countless ages of a
What tongue of men or angels can describe
the millionth part of what is contained in the
A peculiar people
"But you are . . .
a chosen generation,
a royal priesthood,
a holy nation,
a peculiar people." 1
May we never forget that the suffering Son of God
gave Himself to purify unto Himself a peculiar
people . . .
a people whose thoughts are peculiar, for their thoughts
are the thoughts of God, as having the mind of Christ;
a people whose affections are peculiar,
for they are fixed on things above;
a people whose prayers are peculiar, for they are wrought
in their heart by the Spirit of grace and supplication;
a people whose sorrows are peculiar,
because they spring from a spiritual source;
a people whose joys are peculiar, for they are joys
which the stranger cannot understand;
a people whose hopes are peculiar,
as anchoring within the veil;
a people whose expectations are peculiar, as not
expecting to reap a crop of happiness in this marred
world—but are looking for happiness in the kingdom
of rest and peace in the bosom of God.
They make it manifest that they are a peculiar
people by . . .
walking in the footsteps of the Lord the Lamb,
taking up the cross,
denying themselves, and
living to the honor, praise, and glory of God.
Softened, broke, and melted your heart
"I drew them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love." Hosea 11:4
When God draws His people near unto Himself,
it is not done in a mechanical way. They are drawn,
not with cords of iron, but with the cords of kindness;
not as if God laid an iron arm upon His people to drag
them to Himself—whether they wished to come or not.
God does not so act in a way of mechanical force.
We therefore read, "Your people shall be made willing
in the day of Your power." He touches their heart with
His gracious finger, and he communicates to their
soul both faith and feeling. He melts, softens, and
humbles their heart by a sense of His goodness and
mercy—for it is His goodness, as experimentally felt
and realized, which leads to repentance.
If you have ever felt any secret and sacred drawing
of your soul upward to heaven—it was not compulsion,
not violence, not a mechanical constraint—but an arm
of pity and compassion let down into your very heart,
which, touching your inmost spirit, drew it up into the
bosom of God.
It was some view of His goodness, mercy, and love,
with some dropping into your spirit of His pity and
compassion towards you, which softened, broke,
and melted your heart. You were not driven onward
by being flogged and scourged, but blessedly drawn
with the cords of kindness, which seemed to touch
every tender feeling and enter into the very depths
of your soul.
Fixed and fastened by an Almighty hand.
Truth, as it stands in the naked word of God,
is lifeless and dead—and as such, has no power
to communicate what it has not in itself—that is,
life and power to the hearts of God's people. It
stands there in so many letters and syllables, as
lifeless as the types by which they were printed.
But when the incarnate Word takes of the
written word, and speaks it home into the
heart and conscience of a vessel of mercy,
whether in letter or substance—then He endues
it with divine life—and it enters into the soul,
communicating to it a life that can never die.
Eternal realities are then brought into the soul,
fixed and fastened by an Almighty hand.
The conscience is made alive in the fear of God;
and the soul is raised up from a death in sin, to
a heavenly, new, and supernatural life.
When we are reduced to poverty and beggary
How often we seem not to have any real religion,
or enjoy any solid comfort! How often are our minds
covered with deep darkness! How often does the
Lord hide Himself, so that we cannot behold Him,
nor get near to Him! What a painful path is this
to walk in, but how profitable!
When we are reduced to poverty and beggary,
we learn to value Christ's glorious riches.
The worse opinion we have of our own heart, and
the more deceitful and desperately wicked that we
find it—the more we put our trust in His faithfulness.
The more black we are in our own esteem—the more
beautiful and lovely does He appear in our eyes.
As we sink—Jesus rises.
As we become feeble—He puts forth his strength.
As we come into danger—He brings deliverance.
As we get into temptation—He breaks the snare.
As we are shut up in darkness and obscurity;
He causes the light of His countenance to shine.
Now it is by being led in this way, and walking
in these paths, that we come rightly to know who
Jesus is; and to see and feel how suitable and
precious such a Savior is to our undone souls!
We are needy, He has in Himself all riches.
We are hungry—He is the bread of life.
We are thirsty—He says, "If any man thirst,
let him come unto Me, and drink."
We are naked—and He has clothing to bestow.
We are fools—and He has wisdom to grant.
We are lost, and He speaks—
"Look unto Me, and be saved."
Thus, so far from our misery shutting us out
from God's mercy—it is the only requisite for it.
So far from our guilt excluding His pardon,
it is the only thing needful for it.
So far from our helplessness ruining our souls,
it is the needful preparation for the manifestation
of His power in our weakness.
We cannot heal our own wounds and sores. That is
the very reason why He should stretch forth His arm.
It is because there is no salvation in ourselves, or
in any other creature, that He says, "Look unto Me,
for I am God, and there is no other."
Not a grain! Not an atom!
What am I?
What are you?
Are we not filthy, polluted, and defiled?
Do not we, more or less, daily feel
altogether as an unclean thing?
Is not every thought of our heart altogether vile?
Does any holiness, any spirituality, any heavenly-
mindedness, any purity, any resemblance to the
divine image dwell in our hearts by nature?
Not a grain! Not an atom!
How then can I, a polluted sinner,
ever see the face of a holy God?
How can I, a worm of earth, corrupted within
and without by indwelling and committed sin,
ever hope to see a holy God without shrinking
When we view the pure and spotless holiness
of Jesus imputed to His people, and view them . . .
holy in Him,
pure in Him,
without spot in Him,
how it does away with all the wrinkles of the
creature, and makes them stand holy and
spotless before God.
They will come with weeping
"They will come with weeping; they will
pray as I bring them back." Jeremiah 31:9
As they come, they weep. They mourn . . .
over their base backslidings,
over the many evils they have committed,
over the levity of mind which they have indulged,
over the worldliness of spirit,
obstinacy of their heart.
They go and weep with a broken heart and softened
spirit—seeking the Lord their God—seeking the secret
manifestations of His mercy, the visitations of His
favor, the "lifting up of the light of His countenance"—
seeking after a revelation of the love of Jesus—to know
Him by a spiritual discovery of Himself.
Being thus minded . . .
they seek not to establish their own righteousness;
they seek not the applause of the world;
they seek not the good opinion of professors;
they seek not the smiles of saints. But they . . .
seek the Lord their God,
seek His face day and night,
seek His favor,
seek His mercy,
seek His grace,
seek His love,
seek His glory,
seek the sweet visitations of His presence and power,
seek Him until they find Him to be their covenant God,
who heals all their backslidings.
This is the saint's inheritance!
"Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of
God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in
His sufferings in order that we may also share in
His glory." Romans 8:17
This is the especial blessedness of being a child of God:
that death, which puts a final extinguisher on all the
hopes and happiness of all the unregenerate—gives him
the fulfillment of all his hopes and the consummation
of all his happiness—for it places him in possession of
"an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that
fades not away, reserved in heaven."
In this present earthly life, we have sometimes sips
and tastes of sonship, feeble indeed and interrupted;
yet are they so far pledges of an inheritance to come.
But this life is only an introduction to a better. In this
life we are but children—but in the life to come, we shall
be put into full possession of the eternal inheritance.
And what is this? Nothing less than God Himself.
"Heirs of God!" says the Apostle. God Himself is
the inheritance of His people—yes, He Himself in
all His glorious perfections . . .
all the love of God,
all the goodness of God,
all the holiness of God,
all His happiness, bliss, and blessedness,
all His might, majesty, and glory, in
all the blaze of one eternal, unclouded day!
This is the saint's inheritance!
Let us press on by faith and prayer to
win this eternal and glorious crown!
Savory food such as their soul loves
"For My flesh is real food and My blood is real drink."
This food is specially for the elect . . .
blood shed for their sins, and for their sins only;
righteousness brought in for them, and for them only;
love bestowed upon them, and upon them only;
promises revealed for their comfort, and for their comfort only;
an eternal inheritance reserved in heaven for them, and for them only.
The elect are the only people . . .
who hunger after it,
who have an appetite for it,
who have a mouth to feed upon it,
who have a stomach to digest it.
They are the only people whose eyes
are really open to see what "food" is.
All others feed upon shadows—they know nothing of
the savory food of the gospel. "I have food to eat
which you know not of." Jesus' food was . . .
the hidden communications of God's love,
the visitations of His Father's presence,
the divine communion that He enjoyed with His Father.
So, for the children of God, there is food in Christ;
and this food the Lord gives them a hunger after.
He not only sets before their eyes what the food is,
but He kindles inexpressible longings in their
soul to be fed with it.
God's people cannot feed . . .
nor upon ashes,
nor upon chaff,
nor upon the wind,
nor upon grapes of gall and the bitter clusters of Gomorrah.
They must have real food, "savory food such
their soul loves," that which God Himself communicates,
and which His hand alone can bring down, and give unto
them, so that they may receive it from Him as their soul-
"For My flesh is real food and My blood is real drink."
A smoother way to glory?
"They encouraged them to continue in the faith,
reminding them that they MUST enter into the
Kingdom of God through many tribulations."
The Lord has chosen that His people should pass
through deep and cutting afflictions, for it is "through
many tribulations" they are to enter the Kingdom of
God above, and into the sweetness and power of the
Kingdom of God below.
But every man will resent this doctrine, except God
has led him experimentally into it. It is such a rough
and rugged path—it is so contrary to flesh and blood
—it is so inexplicable to nature and reason—that man,
proud, rebellious man, will never believe that he must
"enter into the Kingdom of God through many
And this is the reason why so many find, or seek to
find, a smoother way to glory than the
appointed His saints to walk in. But shall the Head
travel in one path—and the members in another?
Shall the Bridegroom walk and wade through seas
of sorrow—and the bride never so much as wet her
feet with the water? Shall the Bridegroom be crucified
in weakness and suffering—and there be no inward
crucifixion for the dearly beloved of His heart?
Shall the Head . . .
and the members dance down a flowery road,
without inward sorrow or outward suffering?
But, perhaps, there are some who say in their heart,
"I am well convinced of this—but my coward flesh
shrinks from it. I know if I am to reach the Canaan
above, I must pass through the appointed portion
of tribulation. But my coward flesh shrinks back!"
It does! it does! Who would willingly bring trials
upon himself? Therefore the Lord does not leave
these trials in our hands—but He Himself appoints
a certain measure of tribulation for each of His
people to pass through. They will come soon enough;
you need not anticipate them; you need not wish
for them. God will bring them—in His own time
and in His own way.
And what is more, God will not merely bring you
into them, but God will bring you through them,
and God will bring you out of them!
It will be our mercy if enabled to ask the Lord . . .
to bless us with faith and patience under tribulation;
to give us strength to bear the storm;
to lie as clay in His hands;
to conform us to the image of His Son;
to guide us through this valley of tears below;
and eventually to take us to be with Him above!
Should you then seek great
things for yourself?
"Should you then seek great things for
yourself? Seek them not." Jeremiah 45:5
Ministers often seek . . .
They are wrong in seeking these so-called great things.
Let them rather seek real things, gracious things, things
that will make their souls blessed here and hereafter.
We stand upon slippery places!
"The Lord keep you." Numbers 6:24
How we need the Lord to keep us!
We stand upon slippery places!
Snares and traps are laid for us in every direction.
Every employment, every profession in life, from the
highest to the lowest—has its special temptations.
Snares are spread for the feet of the most illiterate
as well as the most highly cultivated minds. Nor is
there anyone, whatever his position in life may be, who
has not a snare laid for him—and such a snare as will
surely prove his downfall if God does not keep him.
Well, then, may it be the desire of our soul,
"The Lord keep me" . . .
keep me in His providence, keep me by His grace;
keep me by planting His fear deep in my soul, and
maintaining that fear alive and effectual in my heart;
keep me waking, keep me sleeping;
keep me by night, keep me by day;
keep me at home, keep me abroad;
keep me with my family, keep me with my friends;
keep me in the world, and keep me in the church.
May the Lord keep me, according to His promise,
every moment—keep me by His Spirit and grace
with all the tenderness implied in His words,
"O keep me as the apple of Your eye!"
My friends, you can know . . .
little of your own heart,
little of Satan's devices,
little of the snares spread for your feet,
unless you feel how deeply you need this
blessing—"The Lord keep you."
And He will, for we read of the righteous, that they
are kept "by the power of God through faith unto
salvation;" and that "He will keep the feet of His saints."
One grain of holiness?
Have I one grain of holiness in myself?
Can all the men in the world, by all their united
exertions, raise up a grain of spiritual holiness
in their hearts? Not an atom, with all their efforts.
If all the preachers in the world were to unite
together for the purpose of working a grain of
holiness in one man's soul, they might strive
to all eternity—they could no more by their
preaching create holiness, than by their
preaching they could create a lump of gold.
But Jesus imparts a measure of His own holiness
to His people. He sends the Holy Spirit, to raise up
holy desires. He communicates a heavenly, spiritual,
and divine nature—which bathes in eternal things
as its element—and enjoys spiritual things as sweet
and precious. It may indeed be small in measure;
and he that has it is often troubled because he has
so little of it—yet he has enough to know what it is.
Has not your soul, though you feel to be a defiled
wretch, though every iniquity is at times working
in your heart, though every worm of obscenity and
corruption is too often trailing its filthy slime upon
your carnal mind—has it not felt, does it not
sometimes feel—a measure of holiness Godwards?
Do you ever feel a breathing forth of your soul
into the bosom of a holy God . . .
singleness of eye,
simplicity of purpose,
a heart that longs to have the mind, image,
and likeness of Jesus stamped upon it?
This is a holiness such as the Lord of life and
glory imparts out of his fullness to His poor and
What is this hidden manna?
"To him who overcomes, I will give some of
the hidden manna to eat." Rev. 2:17
What is this hidden manna?
Is it not God's Word applied with power to the heart?
What does the prophet Jeremiah say? "Your Words
were found, and I did eat them; and Your Word was
unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart."
When the Lord is pleased . . .
to drop a word into the heart from his own lips;
to apply some promise;
to open up some precious portion of his Word;
to whisper softly some blessed Scripture into the heart;
is not this manna?
Whence did the manna flow? Was it cultivated by the
hand of man? No—it fell from heaven. And is not this
true of the Word of the Lord applied with power to the
heart? It is not our searching the Scriptures, though
it is good to search the Scriptures—but it is the Lord
Himself being pleased to apply some precious portion
of truth to our hearts—and when this takes place,
it is "manna;" it is . . .
yes, it is angels' food—the very flesh and blood of
the Lamb with which the Lord is pleased from time
to time to feed and favor hungry souls.
But, in the text it is called "hidden." Why "hidden"?
Because hidden from the eyes of the wise and prudent.
Hidden from the eyes of self-righteous pharisees;
hidden from those who fight in their own strength,
and seek to gain the victory by their own brawny arm;
hidden from all but God's tried and tempted family;
hidden from all but those who know the plague of
their own hearts; hidden from all but those who have
learned the secret of overcoming by the blood of the
Lamb and by the word of His testimony.
When the Lord leads us to sink down into weakness,
and in weakness to find his strength made perfect—
to fall down all guilty—and then to feel the application
of atoning blood—this is manna.
The children of Israel had to endure hunger in the
wilderness before manna fell—and thus the Lord's
people learn the value of the hidden manna—the
sweet communications from above—by hungering
and thirsting in a waste-howling wilderness.
This is hidden from all eyes except those that are
anointed by the Spirit to see it—and hidden from all
hearts except those that are prepared to receive
and feed upon it.
"I am the living bread who came down from heaven.
If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever."
Entangled, perplexed and distressed?
How many of the Lord's people are continually under
bondage to evil! What power the lusts of the flesh
have over some—how perpetually they are entangled
with everything sensual and carnal! What power the
pride of the heart has over another! And what strength
covetousness exercises over a third! What power the
love of the world and the things of time and sense
exercise over a fourth!
How then are they to overcome sin?
By making resolutions? By endeavoring to overcome it
in their own strength? No! Sin will always break through
man's strength. It will always be stronger than any
resolution we can make not to be overcome by it.
The Lord allows His people to be so long and often
entangled, perplexed and distressed, that they
may learn this secret—which is hidden from all but
God's living family—that the strength of Christ is
made perfect in their weakness.
Have not some of you had to learn this lesson very
painfully? There was a time when you thought you
would get better and better, holier and holier—that
you would not only not walk in open sin as before,
but would not be . . .
entangled by temptation,
overcome by besetting lusts,
or cast down by hidden snares.
There was a time when you thought you were going
forward—attaining some more strength—some better
wisdom than you believed you once possessed.
How has it been with you?
Have these expectations ever been realized?
Have you ever attained these fond hopes?
Has sin become weaker?
Has the world become less alluring?
Have your lusts become tamer?
Has your temper become milder?
Have the corruptions of your heart become feebler and feebler?
If I can read the heart of some poor tried, tempted
soul here present, he would say, "No! To my shame
and sorrow, be it spoken, I find on the contrary that
sin is stronger and stronger—that the evils of my
heart are more and more powerful than ever I knew
them in my life—and as to my own endeavors to
overcome them, I find indeed that they are fainter
and fainter, and weaker and weaker. This it is that
casts me down. If I could have more strength against
sin—if I could stand more boldly against Satan—if I
could overcome my besetting lusts—live more to God's
glory—and be holier and holier—then, then, I could have
some comfort. But to feel myself so continually baffled,
so perpetually disconcerted, so incessantly cast down
by the workings of my corrupt nature—it is this, it is
this that cuts so keenly—it is this, it is this that tries
me so deeply!"
My friend, you are on the high road to victory.
This is the very way by which you are to overcome.
When you feel . . .
weaker and weaker,
poorer and poorer,
guiltier and guiltier,
viler and viler,
so that really through painful experience you are
compelled to call yourself, not in the language of mock
humility, but in the language of self abhorrence—the
chief of sinners—then you are on the high road to victory.
Then the blood of the Lamb is applied to the sinner's
conscience, and the Word of God's testimony comes with
power into his soul—it gives him the victory over those
lusts with which he was before entangled—it brings him
out of the world that had so allured him—and breaks to
pieces the dominion of sin under which he had been so
A very different thing from lifeless,
barren head knowledge
"We know also that the Son of God has come and
has given us understanding, so that we may know
Him who is true." 1 John 5:20
There is a difference between a gracious, enlightened
understanding of the truth of God which springs out of
the teaching of the Spirit—and what is commonly called
"head knowledge." There is such a thing—and a most
dangerous, delusive thing it is—as "mere head knowledge"
and it is widely prevalent in the churches.
You may say, "How am I to distinguish between mere
head knowledge and this spiritual understanding?"
I will tell you. When a special light is cast into your mind—
when the Word is opened up in its spiritual, experimental
meaning—when the Holy Spirit seals it with sweetness and
power upon your heart—and you not only understand what
you read but receive it in faith, feel its savor, and enjoy
its blessedness. Is not this a very different thing
lifeless, barren head knowledge?
Poor in spirit
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for
is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3
None are really poor in spirit, but
the hand of God has stripped—whom He has
brought down—and made to abhor themselves
in dust and ashes—and to see and feel themselves
destitute of everything good, holy, heavenly, and
pleasing in His pure and heart searching eyes.
The heart must be stripped and emptied, and laid
bare effectually—by a work of grace that goes to
the very bottom, and penetrates into the recesses
of the soul—so as to detect all the corruption that
lurks and festers within.
The really "poor" man is one who has had everything
taken from him—who has had not merely his dim views
of a merciful God (such as natural men have) taken
from him—not merely his legal righteousness stripped
away—but all that kind of notional, traditional religion,
which is so rife in the present day, taken from him also
—and who has been brought in guilty before God, naked,
in the dust, having nothing whereby to conciliate Him,
or gain His favor.
"That no flesh should glory in His presence."
1 Cor. 1:29
Man may glory in himself—but God has forever
trampled man's glory under foot. God's purpose
is to stain the pride of human glory.
"Claiming to be wise, they became utter fools
What am I by nature? A fool! All my wisdom, outside
of Christ, is nothing but the height of foolishness—and
all my knowledge nothing but the depth of ignorance!
Left to ourselves we are utter fools! We
no wisdom whatever to direct our feet. We are . . .
utterly unable to find our way to God.
All wisdom which does not come down from the Father
is folly. All strength not divinely wrought in the soul is
weakness. All knowledge that does not
spring from the
Lord's own teaching in the conscience is the depth of
We must know the value of the gem before we can
really prize it. When diamonds were first discovered
in Brazil, nobody knew that they were diamonds. They
were handed about as pretty, shining pebbles. But as
soon it was discovered they were diamonds, they were
eagerly sought, and their value rose a thousandfold.
So spiritually. Until we can distinguish between the
"pebble of man's teaching" and the "diamond of divine
illumination" we shall neglect, we shall despise, we
shall not value divine wisdom.
The heart of God's child
There is much . . .
to be purged out of the heart of God's child.
But all these things . . .
keep him low,
mar his pride,
crush his self righteousness,
cut the locks of his presumption,
stain his self-conceit,
stop his boasting,
preserve him from despising others,
make him take the lowest room,
teach him to esteem others better than himself,
drive him to earnest prayer,
fit him as an object of mercy,
break to pieces his free-will, and
lay him low at the feet of the Redeemer, as
one to be saved by sovereign grace alone!
A spirit of delusion
A spirit of delusion seems to us widely
prevalent . . .
a carnal confidence,
a dead assurance,
a presumptuous claim,
a daring mimicry of the spirit of adoption.
Who that has eyes or heart does not see and
feel the wide spread of this gigantic evil?
No brokenness of heart,
no tenderness of conscience,
no spirituality of mind,
no heavenly affections,
no prayerfulness and watchfulness,
no godly devotedness of life,
no self denial and crucifixion,
no humility or contrition,
no separation from the world,
no communion with the Lord of life and glory.
In a word, none of the blessed graces and fruits
of the Spirit attend this carnal confidence.
On the contrary . . .
often gross self-indulgence
are evidently stamped upon many, if
not most, of these hardened professors.
The husks which the swine eat
All forms, opinions, rites, ceremonies and notions
to me are nothing—and worse than nothing. They
are the husks which the swine eat—not
of the living soul.
To have the heart deeply penetrated with the fear
of Jehovah—to be melted and filled with a sweet
sense of Jesus' dying love—to have the affections
warmed and drawn forth under the anointings of
the Eternal Comforter—this is the only religion
that can suit and satisfy a regenerate soul!
Then they cried
"They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary
way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and
thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they
cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and He
delivered them out of their distresses."
Until they wandered in the wilderness;
until they felt it to be a solitary way;
until they found no city to dwell in;
until hungry and thirsty their soul fainted in them;
there was no cry.
There might have been
a feeble wish, and
now and then a sigh or a groan.
But this was not enough. Something more was
needed to draw forth loving-kindness out of the
bosom of the compassionate Head of the Church.
A cry was needed—a cry of distress, a cry of soul
trouble, a cry forced out of their hearts by heavy
burdens. A cry implies urgent need—a perishing
without an answer to the cry. It is this solemn
feeling in the heart that there is no other refuge
The Lord brings all His people here—to have no
other refuge but Himself. Friends, counselors,
acquaintance—these may sympathize, but they
cannot afford relief. There is . . .
into which they can fly, except the Lord.
Thus troubles force us to deal with God in a
personal manner. They chase away that half-
hearted religion of which we have so much;
and they drive out that notional experience
and dry profession that we are so often
satisfied with. They chase them away as
a strong north wind chases away the mists;
and they bring a man to this solemn spot—that
he must have God to support him—and bring
him out of his trouble.
But what a mercy it is when there is a cry!
And when the Lord sends a cry in the trouble,
He is sure in his own time and way to send
deliverance out of it.
O what painful work it is!
"You also, like living stones, are being
built into a spiritual house." 1 Peter 2:5
God's people require . . .
many severe afflictions,
many harassing temptations,
and many powerful trials
to hew them into any good shape, to chisel
them into any conformity to Christ's image.
For they are not like the passive marble under
the hands of the sculptor, which will submit
without murmuring, and indeed without feeling,
to have this corner chipped off, and that jutting
angle rounded by the chisel.
But God's people are living stones, and therefore,
they feel every stroke. We are so tender skinned
that we cannot bear a 'thread of trouble' to lie upon
us—we shrink from even the touch of the chisel.
To be hewed, then, and squared, and chiseled
by the hand of God into such shapes and forms
as please Him—O what painful work it is!
If the Lord, then, is at work upon our souls . . .
we have not had,
we are not now having,
we shall never have . . .
one stroke too much,
one stroke too little,
one stroke in the wrong direction.
But there shall be just sufficient to work in us
that which is pleasing in God's sight—and to
make us that which He would have us to be.
What a great deal of trouble would we be spared
if we could only patiently submit to the Lord's
afflicting stroke—and know no will but His.
We get no better, but rather worse
"Accepted in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:6
We are ever looking for something in SELF to
make ourselves acceptable to God—and are
often sadly cast down and discouraged when
we cannot find . . .
that calm submission to the will of God,
that serenity of soul,
that spirituality and heavenly mindedness,
which we believe to be acceptable in His sight.
Our crooked tempers,
our fretful peevish minds,
our rebellious thoughts,
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. We
seem to lose sight of our acceptance in Christ,
and get into the miserable dregs of SELF. We
are so vile, and only get worse as we get
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" alone, that we
are accepted—and not for any . . .
good hearts, or
of our own.
And a saving knowledge of our acceptance "in
the Beloved," independent of everything in us
either good or bad, is a firm foundation for our
faith and hope—and will keep us from sinking
altogether into despair.
Blundering and stumbling on in darkness
After the Lord has quickened our souls, for a
time we often go blundering on, not knowing
there is a Jesus.
We think that the way of life is to . . .
keep God's commandments,
obey the law,
cleanse ourselves from sin,
reform our lives,
cultivate universal holiness in thought, word,
and action—and so we go—blundering and
stumbling on in darkness—and all the while
never get a single step forward.
But when the Lord has allowed us to weary ourselves
to find the door, and let us sink lower and lower into
the pit of guilt and ruin, from feeling that all our attempts
to extricate ourselves have only plunged us deeper and
deeper—and when the Spirit of God opens up to the
understanding and brings into the soul some spiritual
discovery of Jesus, and thus makes known that there
is a Savior, a Mediator, and a way of escape—this is the
grand turning point in our lives, the first opening in the
valley of Achor (trouble) of the door of hope.
When you are in the wilderness
"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring
her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably
unto her." Hosea 2:14
When you are in the wilderness, you have
. . .
no creature help,
no worldly comfort—
these have all abandoned you.
God has led you into the wilderness to bereave you
of these earthly ties, of these 'creature refuges and
vain hopes', that He may Himself speak to your soul.
If, then, you are separated from the world by being
brought into the wilderness—if you are passing through
trials and afflictions—if you are exercised with a variety
of temptations—and are brought into that spot where
the creature yields neither help nor hope—then you are
made to see and feel that nothing but God's voice
speaking with power to your soul can give you any
solid grounds of rest or peace.
But is not this profitable? It may be painful—it is painful—
but it is profitable, because by it we learn to look to the
Lord and the Lord alone—and this must ever be a blessed
lesson to learn for every child of God.
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."
What heart can conceive or tongue recount the
daily, hourly triumphs of the Lord Jesus Christ's
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!
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 tossed with tempest and not comforted;
the ready to perish;
the mourners in Zion;
the bereaved widow;
the wailing orphan;
the sick in body;
and still more sick in heart;
the racked with hourly pain;
the fevered consumptive;
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!
Trouble, sorrow, and affliction
"And He led them forth by the right way,
that they might go to a city of habitation."
Those very times when God's people think
they are faring ill, may be the seasons when
they are really faring well. For instance, when
their souls are bowed down with trouble, it
often seems to them that they are faring ill.
God's hand appears to be gone out against
them. Yet perhaps they never fare better than
when under these circumstances of trouble,
sorrow, and affliction.
These things wean them from the world.
If their heart and affections were going out
after idols—they instrumentally bring them back.
If they were hewing out broken cisterns
—they dash them all to pieces.
If they were setting up, and bowing down to
idols in the chambers of imagery, affliction
and trouble smite them to pieces before their
eyes—take away their gods—and leave them
no refuge but the Lord God of hosts.
So that when a child of God thinks he is faring very
ill, because burdened with sorrows, temptations,
and afflictions—he is never faring so well. The darkest
clouds in due time will break, the most puzzling
enigmas will sooner or later be unriddled by the
blessed Spirit interpreting them—and the darkest
providences cleared up—and we shall see that God
is in them all—leading and guiding us by the right
way, that we may go to a city of habitation.
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.
From a burning hell—to a
"I consider that our present sufferings are
not worth comparing with the glory that
will be revealed in us." Romans 8:18
What is to be compared with the salvation of the
soul? What are—riches, honors, health, long life?
What are all the pleasures which the world can
offer, sin promise, or the flesh enjoy? What is
all that men call good or great? What is everything
which the eye has seen, or the ear heard, or has
entered into the carnal heart of man—put side by
side with being saved in the Lord Jesus Christ
with an everlasting salvation?
For consider what we are saved FROM,
as well as what we are saved UNTO.
From a burning hell—to
a blissful heaven!
From endless wrath—to eternal glory!
From the dreadful company of devils and damned
spirits, mutually tormenting and tormented—to
the blessed companionship of the glorified saints,
all perfectly conformed in body and soul to the image
of Christ, with thousands and tens of thousands of
holy angels—and, above all, to seeing the glorious
Son of God as he is, in all the perfection of His beauty,
and all the ravishments of His presence and love.
To be done forever with . . .
all the sorrows, troubles, and afflictions of this life;
all the pains and aches of the present clay tabernacle;
all the darkness, bondage, and misery of the body of sin and death.
To be perfectly holy in body and soul, being in both
without spot, or blemish, or any such thing, and ever
to enjoy uninterrupted communion with God!
Our own wisdom, righteousness, and strength
"Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of
you thinks he is wise by the standards of
this age, he should become a "fool" so
that he may become wise." 1 Cor. 3:18
The fruit and effect of divine teaching is—to
cut in pieces, and root up all our fleshly . . .
God never means to patch a new piece upon
an old garment. All our wisdom, our strength,
our righteousness must be torn to pieces!
It must all be plucked up by the roots—that
a new wisdom, a new strength, and a new
righteousness may arise upon its ruins.
But until the Lord is pleased to teach us—we
never can part with our own righteousness,
never give up our own wisdom, never abandon
our own strength. These things are a part and
parcel of ourselves—so ingrained within us—so
innate in us—so growing with our growth—that
we cannot willingly part with an atom of them
until the Lord Himself breaks them up, and
plucks them away.
Then, as He brings into our souls some spiritual
knowledge of our own dreadful corruptions and
horrible wickedness—our righteousness
away at the divine touch.
As He leads us to see and feel our ignorance and
folly in a thousand instances—and how unable we
are to understand anything aright but by divine
teaching—our wisdom fades away.
As He shows us our inability to resist temptation
and overcome sin, by any exertion of our own—
our strength gradually departs—and we become
like Samson, when his locks were cut off.
Upon the ruins, then, of our own wisdom,
righteousness, and strength, does God build
up Christ's wisdom, Christ's righteousness, and
But only so far as we are favored with this special
teaching are we brought to pass a solemn sentence
of condemnation upon our own wisdom, strength,
and righteousness—and sincerely seek after the Lord's.
Oh! sweet grace, blessed grace!
"For it is by grace you have been saved."
We are saved by grace . . .
without one atom of works,
without one grain of creature merit,
without anything of the flesh.
Oh! sweet grace, blessed grace!
Oh! what a help—what a strength—what
a rest for a poor toiling, striving, laboring
soul—to find that grace has done all the
work—to feel that grace has triumphed in
the cross of Christ—to find that . . .
nothing is required, nothing is needed,
nothing is to be done!
"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 must be starved,
that the spirit may be fed.
The old man must be put off,
that the new man may be put on.
The deeds of the body must 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
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
You were bought with a price!
"You were bought with a price!" 1 Cor.
of what alarming magnitude,
of how black a dye,
of how ingrained a stamp—
must sin be, to need such an atonement,
no less than the blood of the Son of God,
to put it away!
What a slave to sin and Satan,
what a captive to the power of lust,
how deeply sunk,
how awfully degraded,
how utterly lost and undone, must guilty
man be—to need a sacrifice like this!
Have you ever felt your bondage to sin, Satan,
and the world? Have you ever—groaned, cried,
grieved, sorrowed, and lamented under your
miserable captivity to the power of sin?
Has the iron ever entered into your soul? Have
you ever clanked your fetters, and as you did so,
and tried to burst them—they seemed to bind
round about you with a weight scarcely endurable?
You were slaves of sin and Satan. You were
shut up in the dark cell, where all was gloom
and despondency. There was little hope in your
soul of ever being saved.
But there was an entrance of gospel light into your
dungeon—there was a coming out of the house of
bondage! "You were bought with a price!"
Which is better?
"You are not your own." 1 Corinthians 6:19
Remember that you must belong to someone.
If God is not your master—the devil will be.
If grace does not rule—sin will reign.
If Christ is not your all in all—the world will be.
We must have a master of one kind or another.
Which is better . . .
a bounteous benevolent Benefactor;
a merciful, loving, and tender Parent;
a kind, forgiving Father and Friend;
a tender-hearted, compassionate Redeemer?
a cruel devil,
a miserable world, and
a wicked, vile, abominable heart?
Which is better . . .
to live under the sweet constraints of the
dying love of a dear Redeemer—under . . .
gospel promises, and
to live with sin in our heart, binding us in
iron chains to the judgment of the great day?
Even taking the 'present life'—there is more real
pleasure, satisfaction, and solid happiness . . .
in half an hour with God,
in reading his Word with a believing heart,
in finding access to His sacred presence,
in knowing something of His favor and mercy—
than in . . .
all the delights of sin,
all the lusts of the flesh,
all the pride of life, and
all the amusements that the world has ever
devised to kill time and cheat self—thinking, by
a deathbed repentance, at last to cheat the devil.
Conflicts, trials, painful exercises,
sharp sorrows, and deep temptations
"The Lord tries the righteous." Psalm 11:5
To keep water fresh, it must be perpetually
running. And to keep the life of God up in
the soul, there must be continual trials.
This is the reason why the Lord's people have so many . . .
and deep temptations—
to keep them alive unto God—to bring them
out of, and to keep them out of that slothful,
sluggish, wretched state of carnal security.
The Lord, therefore, "tries the righteous."
He will not allow His people . . .
to be at ease in Zion;
to be settled on their lees, and
get into a wretched Moabitish state.
He therefore sends upon them afflictions,
tribulations, and trials—and allows Satan
to tempt and harass them.
Personal, spiritual, experimental
knowledge of Jesus
It is our dim, scanty, and imperfect knowledge of
the Lord Jesus Christ in His eternal love—and in
His grace and glory—which leaves us so often cold,
lifeless, and dead in our affections towards Him.
If there were more blessed revelations to our soul
of the Person and work, grace and glory, beauty and
blessedness of the Lord Jesus Christ—it is impossible
but that we would more and more warmly and tenderly
fall in love with Him—for He is the most glorious object
that the eyes of faith can see!
He fills heaven with the resplendent beams of His
glorious majesty—and has ravished the hearts of
thousands of His dear family upon earth by the
manifestations of His bleeding, dying love. Just in
proportion to our personal, spiritual, experimental
knowledge of Him, will be our love to Him.
I have loved you with an everlasting love
The Lord has appeared of old unto me, saying,
"Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore with loving kindness have I drawn you."
There can be no new thought in the mind of GOD.
New thoughts, new feelings, new plans,
new resolutions continually occur to OUR
mind—for ours is but a . . .
But God has no new—thoughts, feelings, plans or
resolutions. For if He had, He would be a 'changeable'
Being—not one great, eternal, unchangeable 'I Am'.
All His thoughts, therefore, all His plans, all His ways
are like Himself . . .
The love of Christ to His Church is also—eternal,
unchanging, unchangeable. And why? Because
He loves as Deity.
O what a mercy it is for those who have any gracious,
experimental knowledge of the love of Christ—to believe
it is from everlasting to everlasting—that no incidents of
time, no storms of sin or Satan, can ever change or alter
that eternal love—but that it remains now and will
remain the same to all eternity!
Help from the sanctuary
"May the Lord answer you when you are in
distress—may the name of the God of Jacob
protect you. May he send you help from the
sanctuary and grant you support from Zion."
When the soul has to pass through the trying hour
of temptation, it needs help from the sanctuary.
All other help leaves the soul just where it found it.
Help is sent from the sanctuary because
his name has been from all eternity . . .
registered in the Lamb's book of life,
engraved upon the palms of His hands,
borne on His shoulder,
and worn on His heart.
Communications of life and grace from the sanctuary
produce spirituality and heavenly-mindedness. The
breath of heaven in his soul . . .
draws his affections upward,
weans him from earth, and
makes him a pilgrim and a sojourner here below,
"looking for a city which has foundations, whose
builder and maker is God."
Wherever the Lord brings trials upon the soul,
He pours out upon it the spirit of grace and
If the child of God has a burden;
if he is laboring under a strong temptation;
if his soul is passing through some pressing trial;
he is not satisfied with merely going through a
'form of prayer'. There is at such times and
seasons, a holy wrestling . . .
there are fervent desires;
there are unceasing groans;
there is a laboring to enter into rest;
there is a struggling after deliverance;
there is a crying unto the Lord—until He
appears and manifests Himself in the soul.
A disciple of Jesus
A disciple of Jesus is one who is
the Lord Jesus into His school—whom He Himself
condescends personally to instruct—and who
therefore learns of Him to be meek and lowly
A disciple of Jesus is one who sits
the Redeemer's feet—receiving into his heart
the gracious words which fall from His lips.
But a true and sincere disciple not only listens to
his Master's instructions, but acts as He bids. So
a disciple of Jesus is one who copies
example—and is conformed to his Master's image.
A disciple of Jesus is also
characterized by the love
which he bears to his Master—he is one who treasures
up the words of Christ in his heart—ponders over His
precious promises—and delights in His glorious Person,
love, and blood.
A disciple of Jesus is one who bears
to the image of his heavenly Master—he carries it
about with him wherever he goes—that men may
take knowledge of him, that he has been with Jesus.
The true disciple shines before men with some
sparkles of the glory of the Son of God.
To have some of these divine features stamped upon
the heart, lip, and life—is to be a disciple of
To be much with Jesus is to be made like unto Jesus—
to sit at Jesus' feet is to drink in Jesus' words—to lean
upon Jesus' breast is to feel the warm heart of Jesus
pulsating with love—and to feel this pulsation, causes
the heart of the disciple to beat in tender and
affectionate unison—to look up to Jesus, is to see a
face more marred than the sons of men; yet a face
beaming with heavenly beauty, dignity, and glory.
To be a disciple of Jesus, is to copy
to do the things pleasing in His sight—and to avoid
the things which He abhors.
To be a disciple of Jesus, is to be as
. . .
meek as He was;
humble as He was;
lowly as He was;
self-denying as He was;
separate from the world as He was;
living a life of communion with God—
as He lived when He walked here below.
To take a worm of the earth and make him a
disciple of Jesus is the greatest privilege God
can bestow upon man! To select an obstinate,
ungodly, perverse rebel, and place him in the
school of Christ and at the feet of Jesus—is the
highest favor God can bestow upon any child of
How unsurpassingly great must be that kindness
whereby the Lord condescends to bestow His grace
on an enemy—and to soften and meeken him by
His Spirit—and thus cause him to grow up into the
image and likeness of His own dear Son. Compared
with this high privilege—all earthly honors, titles and
robes sink into utter insignificance.
Sovereign, supreme disposal
"And God placed all things under His feet and
appointed Him to be head over everything,"
How vast—how numerous—how complicated are
the various events and circumstances which attend
the Christian here below, as he travels onward to
his heavenly home!
But if all things are put under Jesus' feet—there
cannot be a single circumstance over which He
has not supreme control. Everything in providence
and everything in grace are alike subject to His
disposal. There is not . . .
an affliction of body or soul,
a painful bereavement,
a case, state or condition,
which is not put under Jesus' feet.
He has sovereign, supreme disposal
events and circumstances. As possessed of
infinite knowledge He sees them—as possessed
of infinite wisdom He can manage them—and as
possessed of infinite power He can dispose and
direct them for our good and His own glory.
How much trouble and anxiety would we save
ourselves, could we firmly believe, realize, and
act on this!
If we could see by the eye of faith that . . .
every foe and every fear,
every difficulty and perplexity,
every trying or painful circumstance,
every looked-for or unlooked-for event,
every source of care, whether at present or
in prospect—are all put under His feet—at His
sovereign disposal—what a load of anxiety and
care would be often taken off our shoulders!
You must not love one of
these glittering baubles
"Do not love the world or anything in
the world." 1 John 2:15
This is a very wide sentence. It stretches forth
a hand of vast grasp. It places us, as it were,
upon a high mountain, and it says to us,
"Look around you—there is not one of these
things which you must love."
It takes us, again, to the streets of a crowded
city—it shows us shop windows filled with objects
of beauty and ornament—it points us to all the
wealth and grandeur of the rich and noble, and
everything that the human heart admires and
loves. And having thus set before us, it says,
"None of these things are for you. You must not
love one of these glittering baubles—you must
not touch one of them, or scarcely look at them,
lest, as with Achan, the golden wedge and the
Babylonish garment should tempt you to take
them and hide them in your tent."
The precept takes us through the world as a
mother takes a child through a bazaar—with
playthings and ornaments on every side—and
says, "You must not touch one of these things."
In some such similar way the precept would, as
it were, take us through the world—and when we
had looked at all its playthings and its ornaments,
it would sound in our ears—"Don't touch any one
of them; they are not yours—not for you to enjoy,
not for you even to covet!"
Can anything less than this be intended by those
words which should be ever sounding in the ears
of the children of God—"Do not love the world or
anything in the world"?
One unmingled scene of
happiness and pleasure
"In My Father's house are many mansions;
if it were not so, I would have told you. I
go to prepare a place for you." John 14:2
O that we could lift our eyes to those blessed
abodes—those mansions of heavenly bliss—
where no sorrow intrudes,
where sin is unknown,
where tears are wiped from off all faces,
where there is . . .
no languishing body,
no wasting sickness,
no pining soul,
but one unmingled scene of happiness and
pleasure—and the whole soul and body are
engaged in singing the praises of the Lamb!
And what crowns the whole—there is the
eternal enjoyment of those pleasures which
are at the right hand of God forevermore!
But how lost are we in the contemplation of
these things—and though our imagination may
seem to stretch itself beyond the utmost
conception of the mind, into the countless
ages of a never-ending eternity, yet are we
baffled with the thought—though faith
embraces the blessed truth.
But in that happy land, the immortal soul and
the immortal body will combine their powers
and faculties to enjoy to the uttermost all
that God has prepared for those who love Him.
The rod was dipped in love
"I will bear the indignation of the Lord,
because I have sinned against Him."
It is a view of our sins against God that
enables us to bear the indignation of the
Lord against us and them.
As long as we are left to a spirit of pride and
self-righteousness, we murmur at the Lord's
dealings when His hand lies heavy upon us.
But let us only truly feel what we
—that will silence at once all murmuring. You may
murmur and rebel sometimes at your hard lot in
providence. But if you feel what
will make you water with 'tears of repentance'
the hardest cross.
So in grace, if you feel the weight of your sins,
and mourn and sigh because you have sinned
against God, you can lift up your hands sometimes
with holy wonder at God's patient mercy that He
has borne with you so long—that He has not smitten
you to the earth, or sent your guilty soul to hell.
You will see, also, that the heaviest strokes were
but fatherly chastenings—that the rod was dipped
in love—and that it was for your good and His glory
that it was laid on you.
When this sense of merited indignation comes into
the soul, then meekness and submission come with
it, and it can say with the prophet—"I will bear the
indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned
You would not escape the rod if you might.
You can trust no minister really and fully.
"Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." John 1:17
The way to learn truth is to be much in
prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ. Beg of Him to
teach you Himself—for He is the best teacher.
The words which He speaks, they "are spirit
and life." What He writes upon our hearts is
written in characters which will "stand every
storm and live at last."
We forget what we learn from 'man'—but
we never forget what we learn from Jesus.
'Men' may deceive—Christ cannot.
You can trust no minister really and fully.
Though you may receive truth from his lips,
it is always mixed with human infirmity. But
what you get from the lips of Jesus—you get
in all its purity and power.
It comes warm from Him—it comes cold from 'men'.
It drops like the rain and distills like the dew from
His mouth—it comes only second-hand from men.
If I preach to you the truth, I preach indeed as the
Lord enables me to speak. But it is He who must
speak with power to your souls to do you any
real good. Look then away from me—look beyond
me—to Him who alone can teach us both.
By looking to Jesus in the inmost feelings of your
soul, you will draw living truth from out of His bosom
into your own—from His heart into your heart—and thus
will come feelingly and experimentally to know the
blessedness of His own declaration—"I am the truth."
Buried in the grave of
carnality and worldliness
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,
set your hearts on things above, where Christ
is seated at the right hand of God." Col. 3:1
How many there are even of those who desire
to fear God who are kept down by the world,
and to whom it has not lost its attractive power.
They are held fast, at least for a time, by worldly
business—or entangled by worldly people or worldly
engagements . . .
their partners in business or their partners in life;
their carnal relatives or their worldly children;
their numerous connections or their social habits;
their strong passions or their deep rooted prejudices;
all bind and fetter them down to earth.
There they grovel and lie amid "the smoke, and stir
of this dim spot which men call earth;" and so bound
are they with the cords of their sins, that they scarcely
seek deliverance from them—or ever desire to rise
beyond the mists and fogs of this dim spot into a
purer air—so as to breathe a heavenly atmosphere, and
rise up with Jesus from the grave of their corruptions.
But they shall never be buried in the grave of
A solitary drop of this holy anointing oil
"As for you, the anointing you received from
Him remains in you, and you do not need
anyone to teach you. But as His anointing
teaches you about all things and as that
anointing is real, not counterfeit . . ."
1 John 2:27
Have you ever had a solitary drop of this
holy anointing oil fall upon your heart?
One drop, if it be but a drop, will sanctify you
forever to the service of God. There was not
much of the holy anointing oil used for the
service of the tabernacle, when we consider the
size and quantity of what had to be consecrated.
When he went through the sacred work, he
touched one vessel after another with a drop
of oil—for one drop sanctified the vessel to
the service of the tabernacle.
There was no repetition of the consecration
needed—it abode. So if you ever had a drop of
God's love shed abroad in your heart—a drop of
the anointing to teach you the truth as it is in
Jesus—a drop to penetrate, to soften, to heal,
to feed—and give light, life, and power to your
soul—you have the unction from the Holy One—
you know all things which are for your salvation,
and by that same holy oil you have been sanctified
and made fit for an eternal inheritance.
'Practical atheists', we daily
prove ourselves to be.
We profess to believe in an All-mighty, All-present,
All-seeing God. But we would be highly offended
if a person said to us, "You do not really believe
that God sees everything—that He is everywhere
present—that He is an Almighty Jehovah." We
would almost think that he was taking us for
an atheist! And yet 'practical atheists', we
daily prove ourselves to be.
For instance, we profess to believe that God sees
everything. And yet we are plotting and planning
as though He saw nothing.
We profess to know that God can do everything.
And yet we are always cutting out schemes, and
carving out contrivances, as though He were like
the gods of the heathen, looking on and taking
We profess to believe that God is everywhere
present to relieve every difficulty and bring His
people out of every trial. And yet when we get
into the difficulty and into the trial—we speak,
think, and act, as though there were no such
omnipresent God, who knows the circumstances
of our case, and can stretch forth His hand to
bring us out of it.
Thus the Lord is obliged to thrust us into trials
and afflictions, because we are such blind fools,
that we cannot learn what a God we have to deal
with—until we come experimentally into those spots
of difficulty and trial, out of which none but such a
God can deliver us.
This, then, is one reason why the Lord often plunges
His people so deeply into a sense of sin. It is to show
them what a wonderful salvation from the guilt, filth,
and power of sin, there is in the Lord Jesus Christ.
For the same reason, too, they walk in such scenes
of temptation. It is in order to show them what a
wonder-working God He is, in bringing them out.
This too is the reason why many of them are so
harassed and plagued. It is that they may not
live and act as though there were . . .
no God to go to,
no Almighty friend to consult,
no kind Jesus to rest their weary heads upon.
It is in order to teach them experimentally and
inwardly those lessons of grace and truth which
they never would know until the Lord, as it were,
thus compels them to learn—and actually forces
them to believe what they profess to believe.
Such pains is he obliged to take with us—such poor
scholars, such dull creatures we are. No child at
a school ever gave his master a thousandth part of
the trouble that we have given the Lord to teach us.
In order, then, to teach us what a merciful and
compassionate God He is—in order to open up the
heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadths of
His love—He is compelled to treat, at times, His
people very roughly—and handle them very sharply.
He is obliged to make very great use of His rod,
because He sees that "foolishness is so bound up
in the hearts" of His children—that nothing but the
repeated "rod of correction will ever drive it far
Dead in sin
"As for you, you were dead in trespasses
and sins." Ephesians 2:1
To be dead in sin is to have . . .
no present part or lot with God;
no knowledge of Him;
no faith, no trust, no hope in Him;
no sense of His presence;
no reverence of His awesome Majesty;
no desire after Him or inclination toward Him;
no trembling at His word;
no longing for His grace;
no care or concern for His glory.
To be dead in sin is to be as a beast
intent like a brute on satisfying the cravings of lust,
or the movements of mere animal passion—without
any thought or concern what shall be the outcome,
and to be bent upon carrying out into action every
selfish purpose, as if we were . . .
our own judge,
our own lord,
and our own God.
O what a terrible state is it to be thus dead in
and not to know it—not to feel it—to be in no way
sensible of its present danger and certain end—unless
delivered from it by a mighty act of sovereign power!
It is this lack of all sense and feeling which makes
the death of the soul to be but the prelude to that
second death which stretches through a boundless
"I cried unto You—Save me, and I shall
keep Your testimonies." Psalm 119:146
If you know anything for yourself, inwardly
and experimentally of . . .
the evils of your heart,
the power of sin,
the strength of temptation,
the subtlety of your unwearied foe,
and that daily conflict between nature and
grace, the flesh and the spirit, which is the
peculiar mark of the living family of heaven;
you will find and feel your need of salvation
as a daily reality. There is present salvation—
an inward, experimental, and continual salvation
communicated out of the fullness of Christ as
a risen Mediator.
You need to be daily and almost hourly
saved from the . . .
of indwelling sin.
"I cried unto You—Save me, and I shall
keep Your testimonies." Psalm 119:146
The fatal mistake of thousands
The fatal mistake of thousands is to
unto God the fruits of the flesh—instead of
the fruits of the Spirit.
fleshly exertions, fleshly prayers,
fleshly religious forms,
these are what men consider good works,
and present them as such to God.
But well may He "who is of purer eyes than to
behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity", say
to all such fleshly workers, "If you offer the blind
for sacrifice, is it not evil? And if you offer the
crippled and the diseased, is it not evil?"
All that the flesh can do is evil, for "every
imagination of man's heart is only evil continually;"
and to present the fruits of this filthy heart to the
Lord of hosts, is "to offer defiled food upon His altar."
A broken heart,
a contrite spirit,
a tender conscience,
a filial fear of God,
a desire to please Him,
a dread to offend the great God of heaven,
a sense of the evil of sin,
a desire to be delivered from sin's dominion,
a mourning over our repeated backslidings,
grief at being so often entangled in our lusts and passions,
an acquaintance with our helplessness and weakness,
simplicity and godly sincerity,
a hanging upon grace for daily supplies,
watching the hand of Providence,
a singleness of eye to the glory of God,
—these are a few of the fruits of the Spirit.
The great secret of vital godliness
The great secret of vital godliness is
be nothing—that Christ may be all in all.
Every stripping, sifting, and emptying—every trial,
exercise and temptation that the soul passes through,
has but one object—to beat out of man's heart that
cursed spirit of independence which the devil breathed
into him when he said, "You shall be as gods".
A man must well near be bled to death before
this venom can be drained out of his veins!
The filthy holes and puddles
in which it grovels
In the first awakenings of the soul, we do not usually
know much, nor feel much, of our fallen sinful nature.
We feel more the guilt of sin 'committed' than of sin
The way in which SIN sometimes seems to sleep,
and at other times to awake up with renewed strength—
its active, irritable, impatient, restless nature,
the many shapes and colors it wears,
the filthy holes and puddles in which it grovels,
the corners into which it creeps,
its deceptive attraction,
its intense selfishness,
its utter recklessness,
its desperate madness,
and insatiable greediness—are
secrets, painful secrets, only
learned by bitter experience.
If the devil ever feels joy
If the devil ever feels joy—it is in
making souls miserable.
The cries of the damned are his music.
Their curses and blasphemies are his songs of triumph.
Their anguish and despair are his wretched feast.
Do not fear.
Say to those who are afraid, "Be strong, and do
not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your
enemies. He is coming to save you." Isaiah 35:4
"Do not fear." "Ah! but Lord," the soul
says, "I do
fear. I fear myself more than anybody. I fear . . .
my base, wicked heart,
my strong lusts and passions,
my numerous inward enemies,
the snares of Satan,
and the temptations of the world.
I do fear. I cannot help but fear."
Still the Lord says, "Do not fear."
Here is a child trembling before a large mastiff
dog; but the father says, "Do not fear, he will
not hurt you, only keep close to me."
Who is that dog but Satan, that huge mastiff,
whose jaws are reeking with blood? If the Lord
says, "Do not fear," why need we fear him?
He is a chained enemy.
But how the timid soul needs the divine "Fear nots!"
For without Him, it is all weakness—with Him, all strength;
without Him, all trembling—with Him, all boldness.
Say to those who are afraid, "Be strong, and do
not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your
enemies. He is coming to save you." Isaiah 35:4
The desire of our soul
"The desire of our soul is to Your Name,
to the remembrance of You." Isaiah 26:8
How sweet and expressive is the phrase, "The desire
of our soul!" How it seems to carry our feelings with it!
How it seems to describe the longings and utterings of
a soul into which God has breathed the spirit of grace
"The desire of our soul"—
the breathing of our heart,
the longing of our inmost being,
the cry, the sigh, the panting of our new nature,
ventings forth of the new man of grace;
all are expressed in those sweet and blessed
words—"The desire of our soul."
And what a mercy it is, that there should ever be
in us "the desire" of a living soul—that though the
righteous dealings of God are painful and severe,
running contrary to everything nature loves—yet
that with all these, there should be dropped into
the heart that mercy, love, and grace—which draw
forth the desire of the soul toward the Name of God.
This is expressed in the words that follow, "My
soul yearns for You in the night—in the morning
my spirit longs for You!" Isaiah 26:9.
Is your soul longing after the Lord Jesus Christ?
Is it ever, in the night season, panting after the
manifestation of His presence? hungering and
thirsting after the dropping of some word from His
lips—some sweet whisper of His love to your soul?
These are marks of saving grace.
The carnal, the unregenerate, the ungodly,
have no such desires and feelings as these!
O self! Self!
Oh, to be kept from myself—my . . .
O self! Self!Your desperate wickedness,
your love of sin,
your abominable pollutions,
your monstrous heart wickedness,
your wretched deadness, hardness,
blindness, and indifference.
You are a treacherous villain,
and, I fear, always will be such!
What are all the gilded toys of time?
What are all the gilded toys of time
with the solemn, weighty realities of eternity!
But, alas! what wretches are we when left to . . .
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
"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 . . .
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
"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,
"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!
"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
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
If you want to see what sin really is
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
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.
The hard-hearted, cold-blooded,
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
professor 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!"
A stable, a hovel, a hedge, any unadorned
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
corner 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
"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."
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
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
Babel, 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
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
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 . . .
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.
"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
Coming up from the wilderness
"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
self, 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
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
"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 winning ways,
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
"The Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him,
because it neither sees Him nor knows Him."
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
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 . . .
religion will always be rejected.
The world can receive a religion that consists of . . .
These are things seen.
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 . . .
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
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.
"Make straight paths for your feet."
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.
"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 . . .
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 . . .
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
trifling, 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
The foulest filth under the cleanest cloak
"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
burden, 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
ourselves! 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
enemy and the greatest foe!
In all its forms, SELF in its inmost
spirit is still a . . .
creature; 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
"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
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
Pride, self-conceit, and self-exaltation,
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
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.
What? Will He forgive us all sins?
"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
"But you have an anointing from the Holy
1 John 2:20
Wherever the anointing of the Holy One
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
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
anointing! 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 . . .
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
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
1 John 2:20
What makes the children of God so
"To God's elect, strangers in the world." 1 Peter 1:1
What makes the children of God so strange?
The grace of God which calls them out of this wretched
world. Every man who carries the grace of God in his
bosom is necessarily, as regards the world, a stranger
in heart, as well as in profession, and life.
As Abraham was a stranger in the land of Canaan;
as Joseph was a stranger in the palace of Pharaoh;
as Moses was a stranger in the land of Egypt;
as Daniel was a stranger in the court of Babylon;
so every child of God is separated by grace,
to be a stranger in this ungodly world.
And if indeed we are to come out from it and to
be separate, the world must be as much a strange
place to us; for we are strangers to . . .
in our daily walk,
in our speech,
in our mind,
in our spirit,
in our judgment,
in our affections.
We will be strangers from . . .
the world's company,
the world's maxims,
the world's fashions,
the world's spirit.
"They confessed that they were strangers
and pilgrims on the earth." Hebrews 11:13
By His wounds we are healed
Sin has thoroughly diseased us,
and poisoned our very blood.
Sin has diseased our understanding, so
as to disable it from receiving the truth.
Sin has diseased our conscience, so as to make it
dull and heavy, and undiscerning of right and wrong.
Sin has diseased our imagination, polluting it
with every idle, foolish, and licentious fancy.
Sin has diseased our memory, making it swift to
retain what is evil, slow to retain what is good.
Sin has diseased our affections, perverting
them from all that is heavenly and holy, and
fixing them on all that is earthly and vile.
"But He was pierced for our transgressions, He
was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment
that brought us peace was upon Him, and by
His wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5
Strangle and suffocate it!
"O Israel, you have destroyed yourself!
But in Me is your help." Hosea 13:9
Is not this a true charge? Does not your conscience
agree with it, as a well founded accusation? Have you
not willingly with your eyes open, run into some sin,
which, but for God's mercy and upholding hand,
would have proved your certain destruction? Have you
not stood upon the very brink of some deep pit, down
into which one more step would have plunged you?
As you realize the evils of your heart, you see what
a marvel it is, that grace is kept alive in your bosom!
You see yourself surrounded on every side with that
which would inevitably destroy it--but for the mighty
power of God!
You look back and wonder how the life of God in your
soul has been preserved so many years. Sometimes you
have been sunk into such carnality. You have felt such
emptiness of all good, and such proneness to all evil,
that you wonder how you have not been swallowed up,
overcome, and carried away into the pit of destruction!
David said, "I am as a wonder to many." But you can
say, "I am a wonder to myself!" The world, the devil,
and your own evil heart, have been for years all aiming
to destroy the precious life of God in your soul--all
stretching out their hands to strangle and
And yet, in His mysterious wisdom, unspeakable grace,
and tender compassion, He has kept the holy principle
alive in your soul.
O, the mystery of redeeming love!
O, the blessedness of preserving grace! We
have been preserved, upheld, and kept by the
power of God through faith unto salvation!
"O Lord, You have kept me alive, that I should
not go down to the pit!" Psalm 30:3
"He has preserved our lives and kept our
feet from slipping!" Psalm 66:9
"Hold me up, and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117
They will never perish!
"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!
And God, in His mighty power, will protect you
until you receive this salvation." 1 Peter 1:4-5
The elect are preserved in Christ, BEFORE they are
called by grace. They are kept by the power of
God from perishing in their unregeneracy.
Have not you been almost miraculously preserved in the
midst of dangers, and escaped when others perished by
your side--or been raised up as it were, from the very
brink of destruction and the very borders of the grave?
Besides some striking escapes from what are called
'accidents', three times in my life--once in infancy, once
in boyhood, and once in manhood, I have been raised
up from the borders of the grave, when almost everyone
who surrounded my bed thought I would not survive the
violence of the attack.
Were not these instances of being kept by the power
of God? I could not die until God had manifested His
purposes of electing grace and mercy to my soul.
But the elect are also kept by the mighty power of God
AFTER they are called by grace; for they are in the hollow
of His hand, and are kept as the apple of His eye.
I will not say they are kept from all sins. Yet I will
say that they are kept from damning sins. They are
kept especially from three things . . .
from the dominion of sin,
from daring and final presumption,
from lasting and damnable error.
They are never drowned in the sins and evils of the
present life so as to be swallowed up in them--for
it is impossible that they can ever be lost!
They are therefore preserved in hours of temptation,
for they are guarded by all the power of Omnipotence,
shielded by the unceasing care and watchfulness of
Him who can neither slumber nor sleep.
Looking back through a long vista of years, can you not
see how the hand of God has been with you--how He has
held you up, and brought you through many a storm, and
preserved you under powerful temptations? How gently
He sometimes drew you on, or sometimes kept you back?
"I give them eternal life, and they will never
No one can snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:28
Having chosen us, God begets us with His word,
regenerates us by a divine influence, and makes
us new creatures by the power and influence of
the Holy Spirit.
"You crowned Him with glory and honor and put
all things under His
feet. In putting all things
under Him, God left nothing that is not subject
to Him." Hebrews 2:7-8
See the sovereign supremacy of Jesus!
There may be circumstances in your earthly lot
which at this moment are peculiarly trying. You look
around and wonder how this or that circumstance will
terminate. At present it looks very dark--clouds and
mists hang over it, and you fear lest these clouds
may break, not in showers upon your head, but burst
forth in the lightning flash and the thunder stroke!
But all things are put in
subjection under Christ's feet!
That which you dread cannot take place except by His
sovereign will--nor can it move any further except by
His supreme disposal. Then make yourself quiet. He will
not allow you to be harmed. That frowning providence
shall only execute His sovereign purposes, and it shall
be among those all things which,
according to His
promise, shall work together for your good.
None of our trials come upon us by chance! They are
all appointed in weight and measure--are all designed
to fulfill a certain end. And however painful they may
at present be, yet they are intended for your good.
When the trial comes upon you, what a help it would
be for you if you could view it thus, "This trial is sent for
my good. It does not spring out of the dust. The Lord
Himself is the supreme disposer of it. It is very painful
to bear; but let me believe that He has appointed me
this peculiar trial, along with every other circumstance.
He will bring about His own will therein, and either
remove the trial, or give me patience under it, and
submission to it."
You may be afflicted by sickness. It is not by chance
that such or such sickness visits your body--that the Lord
sees fit to afflict head, heart, chest, liver, hand, foot, or
any other part of your body. All things
are put in subjection
under Him, and He has not exempted sickness and disease!
Whatever you suffer in bodily disease, He appoints and
arranges it for your good. Be resigned to His holy and
All your afflictions are put under the feet of Jesus! You may
think at times how harshly you are dealt with--mourning, it
may be, under family bereavements, sorrowing after the loss
of your 'household treasures'--a beloved husband, wife, or
child. But O that you could bear in mind that all your
afflictions, be they what they may, are put under the feet
of Jesus, so that, so to speak, not one can crawl from under
His feet but by His permission--and, like scolded hounds, they
crawl again beneath them at a word of command from His lips!
Let us then hold fast this truth, for on it depends so
much of our comfort.
Without a spot or wrinkle or any other
"Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. He did
this to present her to Himself as a glorious church
a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish! Instead, she will
be holy and without fault." Ephesians 5:25, 27
What are we ourselves as viewed by our own eyes?
Full of spots, wrinkles, and blemishes! And What do we
see in ourselves every day, but sin and filth and folly?
What evil is there in the world that is not in us, and in
our hearts? It is true others cannot read our hearts. But
we read them; yes, are every day, and sometimes all the
day reading them. And what do we read there? Like
Ezekiel's scroll, it is "written within and without;" and
we may well add, if we rightly read what is there written,
we have every reason to say it is "full of lamentations,
and mourning, and woe." Ezekiel 2:10
For I am sure that there is nothing that we see there
every day and every hour, but would cover us with
shame and confusion of face, and make us blush to
lift up our eyes before God, or almost to appear in
the presence of our fellow man!
But neither others, nor we ourselves, now see what
the church one day will be, and what she ever was in
the eyes of Jesus! He could look through all the sins
and sorrows of this intermediate period, and fix His
eye upon the bridal day--the day when before
assembled angels, in the courts of heaven, in the
realms of eternal bliss, He would present her to
Himself a glorious church, without a spot or
or any other blemish, but holy, and without fault.
O what a day will that be, when the Son of God
shall openly wed His espoused bride; when there
shall be heard in heaven, "what sounded like a
great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and
like loud peals of thunder, shouting--Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns! Let us rejoice and
be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the
Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready."
Bitten by this serpent's tooth
No man has ever sounded the depths of the fall.
The children of God have indeed discoveries of the
evil of sin. And they have such views at times of
the desperate wickedness and awful depravity of
human nature, that they seem as if filled with
unspeakable horror at the hideous enormity of
the corruption that works in their carnal mind.
But no man has ever seen, as no man ever can see,
in this time-state, what sin is to its full extent, and
as it will be hereafter developed in the depths of hell.
We may indeed in our own experience see something
of its commencement; but we can form little idea of
its progress, and still less of its termination. For sin
has this peculiar feature attending it, that it ever
spreads and spreads until it involves everything
that it touches in utter ruin.
We may compare it in this point of view to the
venom-fang of a serpent. There are serpents of
so venomous a kind, as for instance the Cobra
de Capello, or hooded snake, that the introduction
of the minutest portion of venom from their poison
tooth will in a few hours convert all the fluids of
the body into a mass of putrefaction. A man shall
be in perfect health one hour, and bitten by this
serpent's tooth shall in the next, be a loathsome
mass of rottenness and corruption. Such is sin.
The introduction of sin into the nature of Adam at
the fall was like the introduction of poison from the
fang of a deadly serpent into the human body. It at
once penetrated into his soul and body, and filled
both with death and corruption.
Or, to use a more scriptural figure, sin may be
compared to the disease of leprosy, which usually
began with a "bright spot," or "rising in the skin",
scarcely perceptible, and yet spread and spread
until it enveloped every member, and the whole
body becoming a mass of putrefying hideous
Or sin may be compared to a cancer, which begins
perhaps with a little lump causing a slight itching,
but goes on feeding upon the part which it attacks,
until the patient dies worn out with pain and suffering.
Now if sin be . . .
this venom fang,
this spreading leprosy,
this loathsome cancer;
if its destructive power be so great that, unless
arrested and healed, it will destroy body and soul
alike in hell, the remedy for it, if remedy there be,
must be as great as the malady. Thus if there be . . .
a cure for sin,
a remedy for the fall,
a deliverance from the wrath to come,
it must be at least as full and as complete
as the ruin which sin has entailed upon us.
The man who has slight, superficial views and feelings
of sin will have equally slight and superficial views of
the atonement made for sin. The groans of Christ will
never sound in his ears as the dolorous groans of an
agonizing Lord; the sufferings of Christ will never be
opened up to his soul as the sorrows of Immanuel, God
with us; the death of Christ will never be viewed by him,
as the blood shedding of the darling Son of God. While
he has such slight, superficial views of the malady, his
views of the remedy will be equally slight and superficial.
As we are led down into a spiritual knowledge of self
and sin, so we are led up into a gracious knowledge
of the Lord Jesus Christ.
By suffering all the penalties of our sin, Jesus redeems
us from the lowest hell and raises us up to the highest
heaven--empowering poor worms of earth to soar above
the skies and live forever in the presence of Him who
is a consuming fire!
"And she will have a son, and you are to name Him
Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
Like a weed upon a dung-heap!
"I hate pride and arrogance!" Proverbs 8:13
Our hearts are desperately proud.
If there is one sin which God hates more than
another, and more sets Himself against, it is
the sin of pride.
Like a weed upon a dung-heap, pride
more profusely in some soils, especially when
well fertilized by . . .
our own ignorance,
and the ignorance of others.
We all inherit pride from our fallen ancestor
Adam, who got it from Satan, that "king over
all the children of pride."
Those, perhaps, who think they possess the
least pride, and view themselves with wonderful
self-admiration as the humblest of mortals, may
have more pride than those who feel and confess
it. It may only be more deeply hidden in the dark
recesses of their carnal mind.
As God then sees all hearts, and knows every
movement of pride, whether we see it or not,
His purpose is to humble us!
When I look back upon my life, and see . . .
all my sins,
all my follies,
all my slips,
all my falls,
my conscience testifies of the many things
I have thought, said, and done, which . . .
grieve my soul,
make me hang my head before God,
put my mouth in the dust, and
confess my sins unto Him.
When I contrast my own exceeding
sinfulness with . . .
God's holiness, and
God's purity . . .
I fall down, humbly and meekly before Him,
I put my mouth in the dust,
I acknowledge I am vile.
"I am nothing but dust and ashes." (Abraham)
"Behold, I am vile!" (Job)
"Woe to me! I am ruined!" (Isaiah)
"I am a sinful man!" (Peter)
He alone can rescue me
"My eyes are always looking to the Lord for
help, for He alone can rescue me from
traps of my enemies." Psalm 25:15
"Oh, please help us against our enemies,
for all human help is useless." Psalm 60:11
What a mighty God we have to deal with!
And what would suit our case but a mighty God?
Have we not mighty sins?
Have we not mighty trials?
Have we not mighty temptations?
Have we not mighty foes and mighty fears?
And who is to deliver us from all this mighty army,
except the mighty God? It is not a 'little God' (if I may
use the expression) that will do for God's people. They
need a 'mighty God', because they are in circumstances
where none but a mighty God can intervene in their behalf.
And it is well worth our notice that the Lord puts His
people purposely into circumstances where they may
avail themselves, so to speak, of His omnipotent power,
and thus know from living personal experience, that He
is a mighty God, not in mere doctrine and theory, but
a mighty God in their special and particular behalf.
Why, if you did not feelingly and experimentally know . . .
your mighty sins,
your mighty trials,
your mighty temptations,
your mighty fears,
you would not need a mighty God.
O how this brings together the strength of God and
the weakness of man! How it unites poor helpless
creatures with the Majesty of heaven! How it conveys
to feeble, worthless worms the very might of the
This sense of . . .
our weakness and His power,
our misery and His mercy,
our ruin and His recovery,
the aboundings of our sin and
the super-aboundings of His grace;
a feeling sense of these opposite yet harmonious
things, brings us to have personal, experimental
dealings with God. And it is in these personal
dealings with God that the life of all religion consists.
"The Lord hears His people when they call to Him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles." Psalm 34:17
The Lord sometimes flogs His children home!
"As chastened, yet not killed." 2 Corinthians 6:9
The Lord does not see fit to lay the same chastisements
upon all His people. He has rods of different sizes and
different descriptions; though all are felt to be rods
when God brings them upon the back.
The Lord chastises with one hand, and upholds with the
other. In your spiritual experience, you may have passed
under many chastising strokes. And when they fell upon
you, they seemed to come as a killing sentence from God's
lips. You feared your illness might end in death. Under your
bereavement, you felt as if you could never hold up your
head again. You thought your providential losses might
prove to be your earthly ruin. Your family afflictions
seemed to be so heavy, as to be radically incurable.
All these were killing strokes. But though chastened,
you were not killed. You lost no divine life thereby;
but you lost much that pleased the flesh; much that
gratified the creature; much that looked well for
days of prosperity, but would not abide the storm.
But you lost nothing that was for your real good.
If you lost bodily health; you gained spiritual health.
If you lost a dear husband or child; God filled up the
void in your heart by making Christ more precious.
If you had troubles in your family; the Lord made it up
by giving more manifestations of His love and grace.
Your very losses in providence were for your good;
for God either made them up, or what you lost in
providence He doubled in grace.
So that though chastened; you are not killed!
Has anything that has happened to you quenched
or extinguished the life of God in your soul?
As the dross and tin were more separated; has not
the gold shone more brightly? Have you not held
spiritual things with a tighter grasp? When God
chastens His people, it is not to kill them; it is . . .
to make them partakers of His holiness,
to revive their drooping graces,
to make them more sincere, upright and tender in conscience,
to make them more separate from the world,
to make them seek more His glory,
to make them have a more single eye to His praise,
to make them live more a life of faith.
Here is the blessedness--that when God chastises
His people, it is not for their injury, but for their profit;
not for their destruction, but for their salvation; not to
treat them with the unkindness of an enemy, but with
the love of a friend!
Look at the afflictions, chastenings and grievous sorrows
that you have passed through. Have they been . . .
friends to you, or enemies?
instruments of helping you, or hindrances?
ladders whereby you have climbed up to heaven,
or steps whereby you have descended into hell?
means of taking you nearer to Christ, or means
of carrying you more into the world?
If you know anything of God's chastening, you will
say, "Every stroke has brought me nearer to God!
He has flogged me home!" As a father will seize
his truant boy out of a horde of other children and
flog him home, so the Lord sometimes flogs His
children home! Every stroke laid upon their back
brings them a step nearer to their home in the
In your own experience, you know that God's
chastenings have not killed you. But rather they
have been the means of reviving and keeping
alive the work of grace upon your heart!
"As chastened, yet not killed." 2 Corinthians 6:9
He may talk like an angel, and live like a devil.
There is "a knowledge of the things of God" which a
man may possess without a personal experience of
the new birth--without any divine operation upon his
soul whatever, or any participation of the grace of God.
>From reading the scriptures and hearing the Gospel
preached, many attain to a carnal, intellectual,
barren head knowledge of the truth; who, as to
any experimental, vital, saving acquaintance
with it, are still in the very gall of bitterness and
the bond of iniquity.
A man may have the 'knowledge of an apostle'
and the 'worldliness of a Demas'.
He may be clear in head, and rotten in heart.
He may talk like an angel, and live like a devil.
He may understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and be nothing but a hypocrite and an impostor.
In our day such characters abound in the churches.
But distinct from this "head knowledge", as distinct
from it as heaven from hell, there is a most blessed
"spiritual knowledge" of the things of God, with
which the people of God are favored.
"Then He opened their minds so they could
understand the Scriptures." Luke 24:45
This idol-making, idol-loving world
'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians.
You know how I brought you to Myself and
carried you on eagle's wings." Exodus 19:4
The idea here, is of snatching His people out of
Egypt as an eagle would snatch her young away
from the hands of the spoiler of her nest, and bear
them away and aloft on her outstretched wings.
Deliverance . . .
from a state of degradation and abject slavery,
is the leading idea of bringing His people out of Egypt.
So, spiritually, the Lord bears us out of a worse Egypt, by
His Almighty power. Has He given you some deliverance
from the world and the spirit of it, and brought you to
Himself by the power of His grace? Has He carried you
up out of sin . . .
its open commission,
its secret practice,
its inward indulgence,
and broken in some measure the love and the power of it?
Has He carried you not only out of the grosser iniquities of
Egypt, but its more 'refined and acceptable sins', such as . . .
mocking God by superstition, tradition, and vain ceremony?
Has He carried you, as on eagles' wings, out of all
the idols of Egypt? For Egypt was a land teeming
with idolatry, and therefore an apt emblem of this
idol-making, idol-loving world.
"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of
Egypt, so that you would no longer be slaves to
the Egyptians." Leviticus 26:13
"Praise be to the Lord, for He has saved you from
the Egyptians and from Pharaoh. He has rescued
His people from the power of Egypt!" Exodus 18:10
"The pulpit has its accomplished
actors, as well as the playhouse!"
He has given me a cup of deep sorrow to drink
"He has filled me with bitterness. He has
a cup of deep sorrow to drink." Lamentations 3:15
The Lord's people have many hard lessons which they
have to learn in the 'school of Christ'. Each one has to
carry a daily cross, and are burdened and pressed down
under its weight. This daily cross may and does differ in
individuals. But every child of God has his own cross,
which laid upon his shoulders by an invincible hand, he
has, for the most part, to carry down to the very grave.
Thus, some of God's people are afflicted in body from
the very time the Lord begins His work of grace upon
their heart. Or if exempt from disease, are shattered
in nerve, depressed in spirits, and weighed down by
lassitude and languor, often harder to bear than
Some are tied to ungodly partners, meeting
with opposition and persecution at every step.
Others have nothing but trouble in their family,
either from the invasion of death into their circle,
or what sometimes is worse than death--disgrace,
shame, and ungodliness.
Others have little else but one continual series
of losses and crosses in their circumstances,
wave after wave rolling over their heads.
O, view the family of God toiling homeward . . .
some dragging along an afflicted body;
others a wounded spirit;
others carrying upon their shoulders dying children;
others with scarcely a rag to their back or a crust in their hand;
fearful in heart,
trembling at a rustling leaf,
a deep river to pass, and
a furious enemy in sight.
"Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there
are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop
fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though
the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of
my salvation. The Sovereign Lord is my strength!"
Were we left wholly in its hands!
"No temptation has seized you except what
is common to man." 1 Cor. 10:13
There is not a single sin ever perpetrated by man
which does not lie deeply hidden in the recesses of
our fallen nature! But these sins do not stir into
activity until temptation draws them forth.
Temptation is to the corruptions of the heart, what
fire is to stubble. Sin lies quiet in our carnal mind
until temptation comes to set it on fire.
Temptation is to our corrupt nature, what the spark
is to gunpowder. Have you not found this sad truth:
how easily by temptation are the corruptions of our
wretched heart set on fire, and burst into every kind
of daring and dreadful iniquity?
In temptation, we learn what sin is . . .
its dreadful nature,
its aggravated character,
its fearful workings,
its mad, its desperate upheavings against God,
and what we are or would be,
were we left wholly in its hands!
"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into
temptation." Matthew 26:41
"Hold me up, and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117
Romantic dreams of pleasure and earthly joy?
"The things on earth will be shaken, so that only
eternal things will be left." Hebrews 12:27
Man is always seeking happiness in some shape or
other, in the things of this world. He does not see or
feel that outside of God, happiness is impossible; and
that to seek it in 'the creature' is to add sin to sin. But
look at this vain attempt in a variety of instances.
Look at people young in life. What romantic prospects
dance before their eyes! "What dreams of love and home
by flowery streams!" But what a rude shock do these 'dreams
of earthly happiness' usually experience! This is true of most,
if not all, who build their hopes of happiness on 'the creature'.
But particularly so in the case of the family of God. How
jealous is He of all such schemes of earthly bliss--and how,
sooner or later, He shatters them all by His mighty hand!
Look, for instance, at health, that indispensable element of
all earthly happiness! What a rude shock many of the dear
family of God have experienced in their earthly tabernacle,
even in their youthful days, by accident or disease, so as to
mar all earthly happiness almost before the race of life was
Look again at wedded happiness--that "perpetual fountain
of domestic sweets"--how bitter a drop often falls from the
hands of God into that honeyed cup! Why does that mourning
widow sigh? Why does her heart swell, and her eye run over?
What does that scalding drop on her cheek mean?
How many a blooming daughter has faded away in consumption
before a mother's eye! How many a fine strong son has been
cut down by an accident--or sudden illness has borne him away
to the cold grave, in the very pride and prospect of life!
But apart from these elements of shattered and broken
creature happiness, what disappointment, what vexation,
what sorrow and care we find in everything we put our
hands to! Even with health and home unbroken, wife and
child untouched by death's cold hand, there is sin and
misery enough in a man's own bosom to fill his heart
with continual sorrow!
Thus wisely and mercifully, all our attempts to grasp
earthly happiness fail and come to nothing.
Child of grace, do not murmur at the hand of the Lord which
has broken your 'dreams of creature happiness'. God does not
intend that you should have your heaven here on earth, nor
live after the fashion of this world. It is a kind hand, though a
rough one, which blasts all your schemes of creature happiness,
which breaks your body into pieces with sickness, blights all your
prospects of wealth, and fame, and reputation, and ambition,
and pours bitter gall into each honeyed cup.
Why does the Lord brake all your earthly schemes
of human happiness? Why does He blight all . . .
your plans of ambition and of success in life,
your romantic dreams of pleasure and earthly joy?
That they may all be removed out of your hearts' affections;
and give you happiness which shall endure forever and ever!
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot
be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God
acceptably with reverence and awe." Hebrews 12:28
The love of the truth
"They perish because they did not receive the love
the truth, that they might be saved." 2 Thess. 2:10
There is a receiving of 'the truth', and a receiving of
'the love of the truth'. These two things widely differ.
To receive the truth will not necessarily save; for many
who receive the truth, never receive 'the love of the truth'.
Professors by thousands receive the truth into their
judgment, and adopt the plan of salvation as their creed;
but are neither saved nor sanctified thereby. But to receive
'the love of the truth' by Jesus being made sweet and
precious to the soul, is to receive salvation itself.
"Yes, He is very precious to you who believe." 1 Peter 2:7
These "lovers" of ours
"I will run after my lovers and sell myself to
them for food and drink, for clothing of wool
and linen, and for olive oil." Hosea 2:5
Here is the opening up of what we are by nature,
what our carnal mind is ever bent upon, what we
do or are capable of doing, except as held back by
the watchful providence and unceasing grace
and goodness of the Lord.
These "lovers" of ours are our old sins
lusts which still crave for gratification. To these
sometimes the carnal mind looks back and says,
"Where are my lovers that gave me my food and
drink? Where are those former delights that so
pleased my vile passions, and so gratified my
These lovers, then, are . . .
the lust of the flesh,
the lust of the eyes,
and the pride of life;
all which, unless subdued by sovereign grace,
still work in our depraved nature, and seek to
regain their former sway.
But the Lord, for the most part, mercifully interposes,
nor will He usually let His children do what they gladly
would do; or be what they gladly would be. He says,
"therefore I will block your path with thornbushes; I
will wall you in so that your cannot find your way."
The Lord, in His providence or in His grace, prevents
our carnal mind from carrying out its base desires;
hedges up our way with thorns--by which we may
spiritually understand prickings of conscience, stings
of remorse, pangs of penitence--which are so many
thorny and briery hedges that fence up the way of
transgression, and thus prevent our carnal mind from
breaking forth into its old paths, and going after these
former lovers to renew its ungodly alliance with them.
A hedge of thorns being set up by the grace of God,
our soul is unable to break through this strong fence,
because the moment that it seeks to get through it,
or over it, every part of it presents a pricking brier or
a sharp and strong thorn, which wounds and pierces
What infinite mercy, what surpassing grace, are hereby
manifested! Were our conscience not made thus tender
so as to feel the pricking brier, we can hardly tell what
might be the fearful consequence, or into what a miserable
abyss of sin and transgression our soul would fall.
But these lacerating briers produce remorse of soul
before God; for finding, as the Lord speaks, "that
when she runs after her lovers, she won't be able
to catch up with them. She will search for them but
not find them," there comes a longing in her mind
for purer pleasures and holier delights than her
adulterous lovers could give her. And thus a change
in her feelings is produced, a revolution in her desires.
"Then she will say, I will go back to my Husband as
at first, for then I was better off than now."
The idea is of an adulterous wife contrasting
the innocent enjoyments of her first wedded
love--with the state of misery into which she
had been betrayed by base seducers.
And thus the soul spiritually contrasts its former
enjoyment of the Lord's presence and power--with
its present state of darkness and desertion. "Where,"
she would say, "are my former delights, my first joys,
and the sweetness I had in days now passed, in knowing,
serving, and worshiping the Lord? Ah! He was a kind and
loving husband to me in those days. I will return to Him
if He will graciously permit me, for it was better with me
when I could walk in the light of His countenance, than
since I have been seeking for my lovers, and reaping
nothing but guilt, death, and condemnation."
It is in these storms
"When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone;
but the righteous stand firm forever." Proverbs 10:25
The very storms through which the believer passes,
will only strengthen him to take a firmer hold of Christ.
As the same wind that blows down the shallow-rooted
tree, only establishes the deep-rooted tree--so the
same storms which uproot the 'shallow professor',
only establish the 'true believer' more firmly in Christ.
Though these storms may shake off some of his 'leaves',
or break off some of the 'rotten boughs' at the end of the
branch, they do not uproot the believer's faith, but rather
It is in these storms that he learns
. . .
more of his own weakness, and of Christ's strength;
more of his own misery, and of Christ's mercy;
more of his own sinfulness, and of superabounding grace;
more of his own poverty, and of Christ's riches;
more of his own desert of hell, and of his own title to heaven.
It is in these storms that the same
blessed Spirit who
began the work carries it on; and goes on to engrave
the image of Christ in deeper characters upon his heart;
and to teach him more and more experimentally the
truth as it is in Jesus.
"Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy!
I look to You for protection.
I will hide beneath the shadow of Your wings
until this violent storm is past." Psalm 57:1
His secret power and influence
"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent
Me draws him." John 6:44
"I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love.
With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself."
None can really come to Jesus by faith, unless this
drawing power is put forth.
The Holy Spirit--that gracious and blessed Teacher, acts
upon the soul by His secret power and influence,
'cords of love' and 'bands of mercy' around the heart, and
by the attractive influence that He puts forth, draws the
soul to Jesus' feet; and in due time reveals Him as the
chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely one.
As the Spirit reveals and manifests these precious
things of Christ to the soul, He raises up a living faith
whereby Jesus is sought unto, looked unto, laid hold of,
and is brought into the heart with a divine power, there
to be enshrined in its warmest and tenderest affections.
All through its Christian pilgrimage, this blessed Spirit
goes on to deepen His work in the soul, and to discover
more and more of the suitability, beauty, and blessedness
of the Lord Jesus, as He draws the soul more and more
unto Him. There is no maintaining of the light, life, and
power of God in our souls, except as we are daily coming
unto Jesus as the living stone, and continually living
upon Him as the bread of life.
Every kind of sin
"He gave Himself to redeem us from
every kind of sin." Titus 2:14
Sins of heart.
Sins of lip.
Sins of life.
There are five things as regards sin, from
which our blessed Lord came to redeem us . . .
By His death, He redeemed us from sin's guilt.
By the washing of regeneration,
He delivers us from sin's filth.
By the power of His resurrection,
He liberates us from sin's dominion.
By revealing His beauty,
He frees us from sin's love.
By making the conscience tender in His fear,
He preserves us from sin's practice.
"The blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin."
1 John 1:7
If your flesh had its full swing?
"The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just
opposite from what the Holy Spirit desires. And the
Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what
the sinful nature desires. These two forces are
constantly fighting each other, so that you cannot
do the things that you would do." Galatians 5:17
At times, we can hardly tell how we are kept from evil.
There is in those who fear God, a spiritual principle
which holds them up, and keeps them back from the
ways of sin and death in which the flesh would walk.
This inner principle of grace and godly fear has, in
thousands of instances, preserved the feet of the saints,
and kept them from doing things that would have . . .
ruined their reputation,
blighted their character,
brought reproach upon the cause of God, and
the greatest grief and distress into their own conscience!
They cannot do the EVIL things that they would do.
The flesh is always lusting towards evil, but grace
is a counteracting principle to repress and subdue it.
Grace does not wholly overcome the evil lustings of
the flesh, but it can prevent those lustings from being
carried out into open action. For the Spirit fights
against the flesh, and will not let it altogether reign
and rule, nor have its own will and way unchecked.
What a mercy lies couched here! For what would
you be, if your flesh had its full swing?
What evil is there which you would not do?
What crime which you would not commit?
What slip which you would not make?
What open and horrid fall which you would not be
guilty of--unless you were upheld by Almighty
power--and the flesh curbed and checked from
running its destructive course?
We can never praise God sufficiently for His restraining
grace--for what would we be without it?
"Hold me up, and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117
A pastor has no right to turn the pulpit into a
coward's castle, and from there attack those
in the congregation, whom he is afraid to meet
face to face privately.
It is cruelly unfair to attack an individual who
cannot defend himself—to hold him up, as if on
the horns of the pulpit, before the congregation,
(who generally know pretty well who is meant),
and to condemn him without hearing his side,
with the pastor being the only judge and jury.