Saturday, 29 September 2012

GOD'S METHOD OF ANSWERING PRAYER

There is sometimes in men's minds a kind of confusion in this matter. They are in a certain path, from which they want to be extricated; they are under a trial, from which they want to be delivered; they call upon the Lord to deliver them; and they ask some manifestation of Himself; some going forth of His hand, some divine leading which they are to follow. But the Lord may be working in a very different way from what they think; and they may really be inattentive to the internal voice of God in their conscience, because they are expecting the voice to come in some other way. It was just so with myself. When I was in the Establishment, burdened with all the things I had to go through, and troubled and distressed in my mind, I was calling upon the Lord to deliver me, to lead me out, to show me what to do, to make the path plain and clear. Now that was my sincere cry; but I expected some miraculous interposition — to hear some voice, to have some wonderful leading; and in waiting for that, I was waiting for what the Lord never meant to bestow. And I was brought at last to this internal conviction: suppose I were living in drunkenness, suppose I were living in adultery, suppose I were walking in known sin, should I want a voice from God to say to me, "Leave this drunkenness, come out from this adultery, give up this sin"? Should I want some divine manifestation to bring me out of a sin, when my conscience bore its solemn witness, and I was miserable under the weight and burden of it? No; the very conviction is the answer of God to the prayer; the very burden which the Lord lays on us is meant to press us out of that in which we are walking. So I reasoned with myself:
"If I am living in sin, if it be a sin to be where I am, if I must do things which my conscience tells me are sins, and by which my conscience is burdened as sins, the very conviction, the very distress, the very burden, is the answer. It is the voice of God in the conscience, not the voice of God in the air, not the appearance of God in the sky, but the voice of God in the conscience, and the appearance of the frown of God in the heart."
And on this simple conviction I was enabled to act, and never to this day have repented it. I have, therefore, been led to see by experience, that we are often expecting wonderful answers, mysterious answers, and the Lord does not mean to give those answers. By J.C. Philpot

THE CROSS

Who has not found, in the first approaches of God to his soul, in the first dealings of the blessed Spirit with his conscience, great mountains and hills in the way? Some of these are from natural, but not for that less trying, quarters. How our relatives and friends oppose, perhaps persecute us; how our temporal interests often stand in the way of our conscience, and how, as was particularly my own case, all our worldly prospects and all our long and deeply cherished plans stand as a mountain in the way of taking up the cross and following Christ. My first stroke was the cutting down of all my worldly prospects, for those who could and would have advanced me to emolument and honour were deadly enemies to the truths of the Gospel which I had embraced. The second was sharper still, for it took away my all, and almost stripped me to my last penny. When I was in the Church of England, I thought nothing could bring me out, for I dreaded the prospect of poverty and sickness, as I was at that time in a bad state of health. Oh, what a mountain this was before my eyes! The very thought of leaving, how it worked in my mind, until conscience knocked at the door again and again; and the voice of conscience at last obliged me to listen and obey. But so different was the prospect from the reality, that the day after I left was one of the most comfortable I ever had in my life; and truly wonderful, for more than twenty-three years since, have been the Lord's providential dealings with me. By J.C. Philpot

THE UTTER PROVERTY OF MAN

In the beginning of my experience in the things of God, which is now more than twenty-nine years ago, I had this truth impressed upon my conscience, as I have reason to believe, very powerfully and very distinctly, by the finger of God — that I could know nothing, but by divine teaching; have nothing, but by divine giving; and be nothing, but by divine making. And this truth thus impressed upon my conscience, so far from being erased by any subsequent experience, either of myself or of the Lord, has only been more and more deepened from that time to this. I think I can at times see the wisdom, as well as the goodness, of God, in tracing that truth on my heart in the first beginnings of grace; for I can perceive several benefits springing out of it. Just at that time my natural mind was very strongly bent upon human knowledge, for I had spent many years in various studies; and had it not been counteracted by divine teaching, I might have attempted to make myself a Christian, as I had previously made myself a linguist. Again, it set grace as a divine jewel in my heart's affections, and compared with it, everything else in my eyes was but dung and dross. A third benefit which I see at times to have sprung out of it, was, that it brought me to admire grace in others, where ever I might see it. It not only brought me down to stand on a level with the most ignorant and uneducated who possess grace, but very often in my soul's feelings sunk me very far below them; for I could see in them clearly that grace which darkness of mind had often hidden from myself. Grace, in the first instance, having thus been commended to my conscience, it has taught me ever since so to esteem, admire, and love it, wherever I can recognize it. Nor do I think that I should be very far from the mark, if I say that the apostle Paul, though I would not be so presumptuous as to compare myself for a moment with him, was not of a different mind; for who so much as he exalted the grace of God, and the teaching and testimony of the blessed Spirit? By J.C. Philpot

"I HAVE STUCK UNTO THY TESTIMONIES"

"I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame." (Psalm 119:31) -------------------- I know by soul experience that sticking to God's testimonies has kept me from many errors. When I have been placed, years back, before my mind was established in the truth, in circumstances of great trial; when I have seen dear friends fall around me, on the right hand and on the left, some into one error and some into another, and my own mind was driven to and fro by these winds and gusts, it was this solemn conviction that made me stick to that testimony which God had dropped into my heart, not to go into things which I had not known, nor to rush into doctrines which I was not spiritually taught. I have seen some friends dropping first into Arianism, then into Socinianism; others I have known to become Irvingites; some going into one error and some into another. And what then kept me? Why, this solemn conviction, which I trust the LORD Himself had implanted, to stick to God's testimony, to cleave to what I had felt, to abide by what I had known, and to hang upon that as the only link which held me up from making shipwreck altogether. And thus the LORD kept me by this powerful though invisible tie, when those who seemed to know more than I departed on the right hand and on the left. Therefore, by soul experience I can, in some measure, say, "I have stuck unto thy testimonies;" and since then I have felt the solid benefit of sticking to God's testimonies in my conscience, though it has cost me many sacrifices, and often made me on the right hand and on the left to encounter friend and foe. But to stick to God's testimonies will bring peace at last. By J.C. Philpot

Friday, 28 September 2012

AN ETERNAL DISTINCTION

The religious professor receives doctrines because he sees them in the Bible. The believer not only sees them in the Book, but he feels them in his heart, put there by the Holy Spirit. The believer gets at truth through trouble. He arrives at the banquet of mercy through sharp pangs of hunger. He lays hold of the robe of righteousness chilled by nakedness. He comes to the cross because he is guilty and there is nowhere else to go. Thus the religionist and the believer (however they may resemble one another) have an eternal distinction which the hand of God has drawn between the living and the dead. By J.C. Philpot