thou standest by faith

“thou standest by faith.” (Rom 11:20)

Why is it that you have been kept to the present moment? You have seen many a tall cedar bowed to the earth; many who did appear to “run well,” but who, in the hour of temptation, when worldly power, and wealth, and distinction increased, made shipwreck of their fancied faith, and fell into diverse lusts and snares which drowned their souls. Why have you been kept? your vessel weathering the storm, your feet yet upon the rock? Because “you stands by faith,” – the “faith of God’s elect” has kept you; and though you are deeply conscious of many and great departures, – sins, it may be, which if known to an ungodly, ignorant world, would bring upon you the laugh of scorn, – yet you have never been left quite to unhinge your soul from Jesus; you have discovered your sins, and mourned over and confessed them, and sought their forgiveness through a fresh application of the atoning blood, – and still, “you stands by faith.” Ah! if faith had not kept you, where would you now have been? where would that temptation have driven you? into what consequences would that sin have involved you? But O, that brokenness, that contrition, that mourning, that going afresh to the open fountain, does prove that there was that in you which would not let you quite depart! The cedar may have been bowed to the earth, but it has risen again; the vessel may have been tossed in the tempest, and even may have been worsted by the storm, yet it has found its port: the “faith of God’s elect” has kept you. “Be not high-minded, but fear.” Your own vigilance, and power, and wisdom, had been but poor safeguards, but for the indwelling of that faith that can never die. – Octavius Winslow

Is sin your plague?

Philpot’s writings are so powerful I can’t help feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. Give the questions listed below a minute to sink in, ruminate on them…

The Leper Diseased

Is sin your plague? Does it grieve you? Is it your burden? Take all your worldly anxieties, tie them up in one bundle, and put them into the scale; now place in the other scale the plague of sin. Which scale goes down? Which kicks the beam? If you are a spiritual leper, you will say, “Ah! there is no doubt upon that point; I know well which scale weighs the heavier! Oh, it is sin, sin, that I sometimes fear will be a millstone to drown my soul in hell!” And canst thou find this mark, “the leper in whom the plague is”? Is not this a very striking expression, “In whom”? I think Paul has hit the matter to a nicety; and well he might, for he wrote as a man who knew what he was writing about; he says, “the sin that dwelleth in me”. Sin is not like a martin that builds its nest under the eaves, which sticks to the house, but is not in the house. Neither is sin a lodger to whom you can give a week’s or a month’s notice to quit; nor is it a servant whom you may call up, pay him his month’s wages, and send him about his business. No, no. Sin is one of the family who dwells in the house, and will not be turned out of the house; haunts every room, lies in every bed, nestles in every corner, and like the poor ejected Irish of whom we read, will never leave the tenement while stick or stone hangs together. Is not this the case with you? Does not sin dwell in you, work in you, lust in you, go to bed with you, get up with you, and all the day long, more or less, crave, design, or imagine some evil thing? Do you feel sin to be a plague and a pest, as it must be to every living soul? Then are you not something of a leper if the plague dwell in you?

The experimental teachings of God in the soul.

“All true religion has a beginning, and a beginning, too, marked, clear and distinct. That the entrance of divine light into the soul, the first communications of supernatural life, the first manifestations of an unknown God, the first buddings forth of a new nature, the first intercourse of man with his Maker; that all these hitherto unfelt, unthought of, uncared for, undesired transactions should take place in the soul, and the soul be ignorant of them, should know neither their time nor their place, is a contradiction.

The evidence of feeling is as strong, as distinct, as perceptible as the evidence of sight. I know by sight that this object is black and that white. I know as certainly by feeling that this substance is cold and that hot. I may not be able to tell why the one is hot and the other cold, but I know the fact that they are so. Thus a new-born soul may not be able to tell why it feels, nor whence those feelings arise; but it is as conscious that it does feel as that it exists. It suits well the empty profession of the day to talk about early piety, and convictions from childhood, and Sunday school religion, and baptismal regeneration, and infant lispings, and the dawnings of the youthful mind. “The privilege of pious parents, of family religion, of the domestic altar, of a gospel ministry, of obedience to ordinances, of a father’s prayers, of a mother’s instruction”-who has not heard these things brought forward again and again as the beginning of what is called Christian conversion and decided piety? Many of these things are well in their place, and not to be despised or neglected; but when they are held up as the almost necessary beginning of a work altogether heavenly and supernatural, they must be set aside.

Thousands have had these things who have perished in their sins; and thousands have not had them who have been saved with an everlasting salvation. A true beginning is a beginning felt. I will not say that we must be able to point out the moment, the hour, the day or the week, though the nearer we approach the precision of time, the nearer we approach to a satisfactory evidence. But the season, the time within certain limits, when new feelings, new emotions, new wants, new desires arose in the heart, can never be forgotten by one who has really experienced them. To smother over, to mystify, to smuggle up the beginning is to throw discredit on the whole. If the beginning be wrong, all is wrong. If there be no divine beginning, there can be no divine middle, and no divine end; and if the first step be false, every successive step will partake of the original error. If a man, therefore, who professes to be walking in the way never knew the door, and never found it a strait and narrow one, he has clambered over the wall, and is a thief and a robber. His sentence is already recorded. “Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness” Mt 22:13.” – J. C. Philpot

 

The Joy of Hope

“Far greater than all other afflictions, deeper than all other sorrow, heavier than all other grief, is that which comes with the consciousness of our sins and depravity in the sight of a holy God. Loss of worldly possessions, friends and health, all these are nothing to this affliction. Temporal misfortunes and suffering are counted light in comparison with this heavy and painful burden that now weighs us down to the dust. What anguish is in that self-abhorrence we must feel while ever conscious of being ourself the very corrupt thing we loathe! What sorrow in feeling that we are daily offending against the holiness of that God we have come to adore, and the sense of whose displeasure is now our greatest oppression! No words can express it. Oh could we but be pure in his sight!

Could the stains upon us but be washed away! But we are all one stain in his sight – no soundness or purity in us. How we sink under the oppression while our heart bursts with its fullness of grief, and becomes weak and tender as we think of that purity we so long for, but which, alas! can never be ours. Is it a wonder that the poor heart leaps for joy and bursts forth in glad and triumphant songs of praise when the wonderful and blessed way of salvation is made known to us, and that holiness from which we had thought ourselves for ever debarred becomes ours through a glorious Redeemer, “who was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (II Corinthians 5:21)?” But this is the joy of hope. “We wait for the hope of righteousness by faith (Galatians 5:5).”

We are yet left with “the body of this death” and all its heaviness, waiting for deliverance, and comforted during our sojourn here by that blessed and sure hope. When we contemplate the glory to which it points us with steadfast certainty, the cause of sorrow is gone, forgotten; but when we look upon ourselves, it returns with full force. Through death only shall full deliverance come; and it is not strange, therefore, that when heavily burdened and dark, death should appear desirable to us.” – Silas Durand, The Trial of Job

Does not the eye guide the hands and feet?

Philpot writes,

The Lord knows what we are, as so deeply, so awfully sunk in the Adam fall.

Adam was wise as well as upright; but with the fall both were gone as in a moment; for the same awful crash which broke to pieces his innocency wrecked and ruined his wisdom, and thus he became a fool as well as a sinner. This folly we inherit from him; for “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” (Prov. 22:15) God, then, as perfectly acquainted with the folly of our mind, with our wretched ignorance and inability to find out the way of salvation, or to walk in it when found, has mercifully and graciously given to us One in the courts of bliss who shall be to us and for us far beyond all that we have lost, and has therefore made him our “wisdom.” “It hath pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;” (Col. 1:19) and therefore a fullness of heavenly wisdom he communicates out of his fullness to his believing people. I do not like exactly to say that his wisdom is theirs by imputation, and yet there is a sense in which it may be called such.

Take for instance the figure of head and members. Is not our head, in a sense, wisdom for every member of the body?

Does it not bear the responsibility of every movement, so that all the wisdom or skill which any member possesses may be considered as being in the head?

Does not the eye guide the hands and feet?

Does not the ear hear for the whole body?

Does not the brain think and the tongue speak for every member?

Thus we see naturally that all our wisdom lies in our head, and the wisdom of our head is put to the account of all the members. So, spiritually, all our heavenly wisdom is in our covenant Head. The people of God see and feel their ignorance and folly; their inability to guide their own feet into the way of truth and peace. Their daily experience convinces them how easily they are entangled in the snares of sin and Satan; how dark their mind, how hard their heart, how carnal their frame, when the Lord does not communicate light, life, and power to their souls. To remedy then and overcome these miserable evils under which they groan and sigh, being burdened, Jesus Christ is of God made unto them wisdom; so that when the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ looks upon his dear Son in the courts of bliss, he views him as their representative head, and sees all the wisdom that they need stored up in his eternal fullness. Thus, as he does not impute to them their sins because of Christ’s righteousness, so he does not impute unto them their follies because of Christ’s wisdom. “Ye are wise in Christ,” says the apostle to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 4:10)–wise by your union with him. Now out of this wisdom which dwells in Christ without measure, he communicates to his people. They have none of their own. What they have is freely given to them liberally and bountifully, without stint and without upbraiding.

But it may be as well to glance at some of the effects of this wisdom as divinely communicated to the saints of God. To look unto Jesus by the eye of faith; to see him as the Son of God, “able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him;” and to view the treasures of love and grace which are stored up in his blood and righteousness, is also a part of this wisdom. To depart from all evil and seek all that is good; to obey the precepts as well as believe the promises; to walk tenderly, cautiously, and circumspectly in the fear of God; to read and pray and meditate; to commune with their own heart, and be ever seeking divine teaching, is a part also of this wisdom. In fact, this wisdom is indispensable for every right movement in heart, lip, and life; for every good word and work; for our conduct in the church and in the world; and for everybody becoming our holy profession. This the people of God deeply feel. Well do they know that not a single truth can they see aright except by seeing light in his light. Not a snare can they shun, or danger avoid, but by his warning voice or guiding hand; not a doctrine can they understand, not a promise believe, not a precept obey, except he who of God is made unto them wisdom, is pleased to communicate it to their heart. But, by looking to him, and receiving out of his fullness supplies of divine instruction, which he communicates to them through the word of his grace, as made life and spirit to their hearts, they are made wise unto salvation; and thus from their living and spiritual union with him, wisdom flows into their bosom out of his fullness, as in the figure of the vine, sap flows out of the stem into the branch. Thus, as he is their wisdom representatively in the courts of bliss, being their Counselor and Advocate who pleads their cause, so he is their wisdom efficiently, by the communication of this wisdom they have comes out of his fullness. And he is their wisdom also, as being the end and object of all the wisdom they possess or require, for the highest, greatest, and best of all wisdom is to know him and the power of his resurrection; to know experimentally the beauty and glory of his divine Person; the efficacy of his atoning blood and of his justifying righteousness; and, above all things, to know our happy and eternal interest in all that he is, in all that he has to the Church of God. [source]