Scholars in the School of Tribulation

Philpot writes, “If your child were as stupid, as dull, as intractable, in learning his A B C, as we are learning the A B C of religion, I know not how many times a day he would be put into the corner; I know not how many cuffs our natural impetuosity might not be provoked to give him. But we are such stupid wretches, that God has actually to put us into places where he would not otherwise put us, in order that we may learn the up-stroke of the great A of true religion; in order just to teach us, as the prophet says, “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little.” But when we have got a little way into our alphabet, such dull scholars are we that we almost immediately forget it all, and have to go back, and begin with great A again. So we go on learning and forgetting, learning and forgetting; and, with all the pains taken with us, when we most wish to put our lesson into practice, feeling as if we had not yet learnt a single truth aright. In order, then, to teach us what a God he is, what a merciful and compassionate High Priest -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 from them.”

Now to learn religion in this way, is not like getting hold of a few doctrines in the judgment, and then setting up to be a very bright professor; like a tradesman who borrows all his capital, and then, by puffing and advertising drives for a time a flourishing trade, till the bubble bursts. God’s people cannot thus borrow from books and ministers a number of doctrines and texts, and then set up with these as a stock in trade. No; they have to be emptied and stripped of all such borrowed stock and brought into darkness and confusion, that they may learn all they really know from the lips of the Lord himself. They have to pass through many painful exercises and troubles, and all for one purpose -that they may be scholars in the school of tribulation, and thus walk in the footsteps of a suffering Jesus.

And this leads us to the Channel,  through which God supplies all the varied wants of his people. “My God,” says Paul, “shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus.”

Oh! If there was no Christ Jesus, there could be no “supply.” Howling in hell would our miserable souls be, unless there was a Mediator at the right hand of the Father -a blessed Jesus, full of love, pity, and power, co-equal and co-eternal in his Divine nature with the Father and the Holy Ghost, and yet the God-Man in whom “it hath pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell.” If there was not such a blessed Mediator at the right hand of God, then not one drop of spiritual comfort, not one particle of hope, not one grace or fruit of the Spirit to distinguish us from the damned in hell, would ever be our lot or portion. Oh! we should never forget the channel through which these mercies come; we should never, for one moment, think that they could come through any other person or in any other way, than through God’s only begotten Son, now in our nature, at his right hand, as our Advocate, Mediator, and Intercessor with the Father.

And this supply is “according to the riches of his glory;” which, I believe, is a Hebrew idiom, signifying his glorious riches- riches so great, so unlimited, so unfathomable, raising up the soul to such a height of glory, that they may well be called “glorious.” And these “in Christ Jesus:” stored up in him, locked up in him, and supplied freely out of him, just according to the wants and exercises of God’s people.” (source)




  1. Flavio Deac · March 6, 2012

    Such preaching, in tracing out the steps of the flock, and the Shepherd, is a rarity today, is it not ? I have to travel great distances to hear in person such preaching. Thankfully there is sermonaudio and other sources to bring it to our ears.

    • jm · March 6, 2012

      Agreed. My Pastor mentioned, without using the same terms, how the Gospel changes you because you experience it as well as know it to be true. It’s not just a rational thought, a mental ascent to truth or a logical conclusion and that is the point A. W. Pink is driving at in his work “Practical Christianity.” He places emphasis on true evangelical faith that has been gifted to the sinner by God and how that changes a person to feel the weight of their sin and the blackness of their soul. How they come to long for holiness and desiring Christ more and more as they become “scholars in the school of tribulation.”

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