J.C. Philpot

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby.” [1Peter 2:2]

The only real food of the soul must be of God’s own appointing, preparing, and communicating.

You can never deceive a hungry child. You may give it a plaything but still it cries. It may serve for a few minutes; but the pains of hunger are not to be removed by a doll. A toy horse will not allay the cravings after the mother’s breast.

So with babes in grace. A hungry soul cannot feed upon playthings. Altars, robes, ceremonies, candlesticks, bowings, mutterings, painted windows, intoning priests, and singing men and women; these dolls and wooden horses; these toys and playthings of the religious baby house, cannot feed the soul that, like David, cries out after the living God (Psalm 42:23).

Christ, the bread of life, the manna that came down from heaven, is the only food of the believing soul (John 6:51).

‘Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart!” [Jer 15:16]

God’s Covenant Love in Christ

God’s covenant love in Christ

Robert Hawker

REFLECTIONS on Psalm 51 from Hawker’s Poor Man’s Commentary:

READER! let you and I look at this man after God’s own heart, and tremble in the recollection of what man is in his highest attainments, if left for one moment void of grace. Oh! what an important truth it is, and must be, to be impressed upon the mind, that our poor fallen nature is the same in all men: there is, there can be no difference: a corrupt stock must produce a corrupt generation; and this in an endless succession from father to son. And that the seeds of sin do not produce an equal degree of blossom and fruit in all men, doth not arise from any difference in our nature, but from the preventing and restraining grace of God. Oh! how blessed is it to see this and to be convinced of it, that we may not only ascribe all the praise where that praise is alone due, but also may walk with such holy fear and caution, amidst the numberless temptations arising both from our own nature and the dangers everywhere around, as to be always on the watch-tower, and while we think we stand, to take heed lest we fall. And above all, to be forever looking up for grace from above, knowing that they that are kept are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

Reader, let us not dismiss the contemplation of a subject in which we are so highly interested, without gathering from the review, under divine teaching, another improvement, namely, that as the best of men are but men, and cannot keep themselves from falling; so when, from the strength of temptation without, and the weakness of our own powers within, we are at any time overtaken in a fault, it is well to be convinced that no exertions of our own can restore us to the divine favour. David knew this and therefore, in another of his Psalms, gives the glory to God for his recovery by grace. “Thou restorest my soul (saith he) thou leadest me in the paths of righteousness, for thy name’s sake.” Hence, therefore, from the Lord let us seek grace, and the renewings of the Holy Ghost, to raise us up when fallen, and to restore to our souls the light of his countenance.

And lastly, and above all, let us remember, and everlastingly keep in view, that all our pardons, all our recoveries after backslidings, our perseverance in grace, our final preservation to God’s kingdom, as well as our first awakenings from sin; all and everyone is the sole result of God’s covenant love in Christ, and the merits of his blood and righteousness. Yes! thou precious, blessed Jesus, thou who art the Lord our righteousness! it is thy Father’s merciful engagement to thee, and the efficacy of thy obedience and death, which become the everlasting cause and security of all our mercies. God is a pardoning God to all thy redeemed, because there is an everlasting acceptableness in thy Person and thy work, notwithstanding our manifold departures, backslidings, and sins. And though those departures wound our souls, though those backslidings daily testify our poor corrupt nature, though those sins plead against us, and Satan is ready to accuse; yet, precious Jesus, thy blood is a speaking blood, and speaketh more for us than all that are against us.

Oh! grant our souls the daily, hourly benefit of thy great salvation! Lord, let this be the continued joy of all thy redeemed, that we have redemption through thy blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of thy grace.


Donkeys, Elephants, and Needful DISAGREEMENT

Donkeys, Elephants, and Needful DISAGREEMENT

Bill Bryant

Despite animal selection, donkeys and elephants, my thrust here is NOT political, although application could easily be made to political arena. Some with bumper sticker Superiority Complex no doubt think their kids/dogs smarter than mine (though I actually have neither). Yet, higher than we ought to think conclusions, often more the result of irrational processing than rational deduction. Those looking downward from their own or group nose apexes, can readily jump from assessment inanimate, “dumber than dirt” to animate analogy, oh, let’s pick one like “less smart than a donkey”. In their donkey illustration they even point out that donkeys can differentiate the pile, passing up the briers eating the hay. But, what if we tweak the far from slam dunk illustration, merely going from solid to liquid. Now, in the liquid soup we come to learn of healthful, pristine, organic ingredients along with a pinch or two of a lethal, deadly poison. Now with knowledge, what is the only choice of vitality in light of deadly ricin in the soup, to ingest or to refuse? Gullible gulp or resolute refusal? Always good to ask who is holding the brush when word pictures, illustrations are presented as “amens”.

Now, is the church house exempt from apex nose slope assessment, from resentment, and worse? The pastor, rebuking a fellow pastor for his solid separatism, resorted to the oft-used elephant three blind men illustration. One blind man examining only the side said the elephant is like a wall. The second examining only the tail said the elephant like a rope. The third only assessing the huge legs of the animal said like a tree of sorts. So, the on a rescue mission pastor moved from leaky illustration to less than conclusive comparison, “So we are all talking about the same thing in this matter of Christianity, we are just looking at it from different angles.” The under fire separated pastor responded saying, “There are just two things wrong with our illustration. Salvation is not an elephant and God’s people are not blind.”

The novelties of fancy, inventive and logical to natural persons, and accredited by some favorite name, readily pass for adherence to the revelation of God. Too many too often are ready to drink any cup presented to them, like children, who think everything good that is sweet. Errors, NEVER SOLITARY, are built upon some partial, insulated, or perverted truth . . . carefully ponder WHAT we hear as well as WHOM we hear/follow. Sift the most plausible pretensions (I. Thes. 5:21; I John 4:1). NEVER SET A GREAT NAME AGAINST THE DIVINE TESTIMONY.

Admit only one standard, the infallible one. Like the noble Bereans, who would not believe even an Apostle’s words except as confirmed by the written testimony (Acts 17:11). Clearly stated in inspired writing, the inevitability of “heresies among you”, but prevalent truth shall also, as the LORD sees fit, have its witnesses “that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” Beware, “among you” in the negative may so prevail in our day that “speckled-bird saints” must needs resort to dead men and that with Berean diligence, but do not our hearts burn within us as we rejoice in the truth with love of the truth, yea even in 2017? He who will not read is no better than he who cannot read. Come, LORD JESUS.




In Romans 8:29, 30 we read of that Golden Chain of Redemption which stretches from the eternity that is past to the eternity that is to come, — For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.”

Foreknown, foreordained, called, justified, glorified, with always the SAME PEOPLE included in each group; and where one of these factors is present, all the others are in principle present with it. Paul has cast the verse in the PAST TENSE because with God the purpose is in principle executed when formed, so CERTAIN IS IT OF FULFILLMENT.

“These five golden links,” says Dr. Warfield, “are welded together in one UNBREAKABLE CHAIN, so that ALL who are set upon in God’s gracious distinguishing view are carried on by His grace, step by step, up to the great consummation of that glorification which realizes the promised conformity to the image of God’s own Son.

It is ‘ELECTION,’ you see, that does all this; for ‘whom He FOREKNEW, them He also GLORIFIED’!

The Scriptures represent election as occurring in past time, irrespective of personal merit, and altogether sovereign, — “The children BEING NOT YET BORN, NEITHER HAVING DONE ANYTHING GOOD OR BAD, THAT THE PURPOSE OF GOD ACCORDING TO ELECTION MIGHT STAND, NOT OF WORKS, BUT OF HIM THAT CALLETH, it was said to her, The elder shall serve the younger. Even as it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated,” [Rom. 9:11, 12]

Now if the doctrine of election is not true, we may safely challenge any man to tell us what the apostle means by such language. “We are pointed illustratively to the sovereign acceptance of Isaac and rejection of Ishmael, and to the choice of Jacob and not of Esau before their birth and therefore before either had done good or bad; we are explicitly told that in the matter of salvation IT IS NOT OF HIM THAT WILLS, OR OF HIM THAT RUNS, BUT OF GOD THAT SHOWS MERCY!

And that He has mercy on WHOM HE WILL, AND WHOM HE WILL HE HARDENS; so we are pointedly directed to behold in God the potter who makes the vessels which proceed from His hand each for an end of His appointment, that He may work out His will upon them.

It is safe to say that language cannot be chosen better adapted to teach Predestination at its height!

[Paraphrased and quoted from Loraine Boettner’s ‘Unconditional Election’]



Lorraine Boettner

Jesus declared, “I give unto them (the true followers, or ‘sheep’) eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who hath given them unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand,” John 10:28. Here we find that our security and God’s omnipotence are equal; for the former is founded on the latter. God is mightier than the whole world, and neither men nor Devil can rob Him of one of His precious jewels. It would be as easy to pluck a star out of the heavens as to pluck a saint out of the Father’s hand.

Their salvation stands in His invincible might and they are placed beyond the peril of destruction. We have Christ’s promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church; yet if the Devil could snatch one here and another there and large numbers in some congregations, the gates of hell would to a great extent prevail against it. In principle, if one could be lost, all might be lost, and thus Christ’s assurance would be reduced to idle words.

When we are told that “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, who shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, If possible, even the elect,” Matt. 24:24, the unprejudiced believing mind readily understands that it is impossible to lead astray the elect.

The mystic union which exists between Christ and believers is a guarantee that they shall continue steadfast. “Because I live, ye shall live also,” John 14:19. The effect of this union is that believers participate in His life. Christ is in us, Romans 8:10. It is not we that live, but Christ that liveth in us, Gal. 2:20. Christ and the believers have a common life such as that which exists in the vine and the branches. The Holy Spirit so dwells in the redeemed that every Christian is supplied with an inexhaustible reservoir of strength.

Paul warned the Ephesians, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption,” Eph. 4:30. He had no fear of apostasy for he could confidently say, “Thanks be to God who always leadeth us in triumph in Christ,” II Cor. 2:14. The Lord, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah said, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love,” 31:3, — one of the best proofs that God’s love shall have no end is that it has no beginning, but is eternal. In the parable of the two houses, the very point stressed was that the house which was founded on the rock (Christ) did not fall when the storms of life came. Arminianism sets up another system in which some of those who are founded on the rock do fall. In the twenty-third Psalm we read, “And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” The true Christian is no temporary visitor, but a permanent dweller in the house of the Lord. How those rob this psalm of its deeper and richer meaning who teach that the grace of God is a temporary thing!

Christ makes intercession for His people (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25), and we are told that the Father hears Him always (John 11:42). Hence the Arminian, holding that Christians may fall away, must deny either the passages which declare that Christ does make intercession for His people, or he must deny those which declare that His prayers are always heard. Let us consider here how well protected we are: Christ is at the right hand of God pleading for us, and in addition to that, the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered, Rom. 8:26.

In the wonderful promise of Jer. 32:40, God has promised to preserve believers from their own backslidings:

“And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, AND I WILL NOT TURN AWAY FROM FOLLOWING THEM, TO DO THEM GOOD; and I will put my fear in their hearts, that THEY MAY NOT DEPART FROM ME.” And in Ezek. 11:19, 20,

He promises to take from them the “stony heart,” and to give them a “heart of flesh,” so that they shall walk in his statutes and keep his ordinances, and so that they shall be His people and He their God. Peter tells us that Christians cannot fall away, for they “by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time,” I Peter 1:5. Paul says, “God is able to make all grace to abound unto you; that ye, having always all sufficiency in everything, may abound unto every good work,” II Cor. 9:8. He declares that the Lord’s servant “shall be made to stand; for the Lord hath power to make him stand,” Rom. 14:4.

And Christians have the further promise, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, and will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it,” I Cor. 10:13. Their removal from certain temptations which would be too strong for them is an absolute and free gift from God, since it is entirely an arrangement of His providence as to what temptations they encounter in the course of their lives, and what ones they escape. “The Lord is faithful and will establish you and guard you from the evil one,” II Thess. 3:3. And again, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him and delivereth them,” Ps. 34:7. Amid all his trials and hardships Paul could say, ‘We are pressed on every side, yet not straightened; perplexed, yet not unto despair; pursued, yet not forsaken; smitten down, yet not destroyed; . . . knowing that He that raised up the Lord Jesus Christ shall raise us also with Jesus,” II Cor. 4:8,9,14.

The saints, even in this world, are compared to a tree that does not wither, Ps. 1:3; to the cedars which flourish on Mount Lebanon, Ps. 92:12; to Mount Zion which cannot be moved, but which abideth forever, Ps. 125:1; and to a house built on a rock. Matt. 7:24. The Lord is with them in their old age, Is. 46:4, and is their guide even unto death, Ps 48:14, so that they cannot be totally and finally lost.

Another strong argument is to be noticed concerning the Lamb’s book of life. The disciples were told to rejoice, not so much over the fact that the demons were subject to them, but that their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life. This book is a catalogue of the elect, determined by the unalterable counsel of God, and can neither be increased nor diminished. The names of the righteous are found there; but the names of those who perish have never been written there from the foundation of the world.

God does not make the mistake of writing in the book of life a name which He will later have to blot out. Hence none of the Lord’s own ever perish. Jesus told His disciples to find their chief joy in the fact that their names were written in heaven, Luke 10:20; yet there would have been small grounds for joy in this respect if their names written in heaven one day could have been blotted out the next. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Our citizenship is in heaven,” 3:20; and to Timothy he wrote, “The Lord knoweth them that are His,” II Tim. 2:19. For the Scripture teaching concerning the book of life, see Luke 10:20; Phil 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12-15; 21:27.

Here, then, are very simple and plain statements that the Christian shall continue in grace, the reason being that the Lord takes it upon Himself to preserve him in that state. In these promises the elect are secured on both sides. Not only will God not depart from them, but He will so put His fear into their hearts that they shall not depart from him. Surely no Spirit-taught Christian can doubt that this doctrine is taught in the Bible. It seems that man, poor, wretched and impotent as he is, would welcome a doctrine which secures for him the possessions of eternal happiness despite all attacks from without and all evil tendencies from within. But it is not so. He refuses it, and argues against it. And the causes are not far to seek.

In the first place he has more confidence in himself than he has any right to have. Secondly, the scheme is so contrary to what he is used to in the natural world that he persuades himself that it cannot be true. Thirdly, he perceives that if this doctrine be admitted, the other doctrines of free grace will logically follow. Hence he twists and explains away the Scripture passages which teach it, and clings to some which appear on the surface to favor his preconceived views. In fact, a system of salvation by grace is so utterly at variance with his everyday experience, in which he sees every thing and person treated according to works and merits, that he has great difficulty in bringing himself to believe that it can be true. He wishes to earn his own salvation, though certainly he expects very high wanes for very sorry work

The ‘Wilderness’ God brings His Elect into

The ‘Wilderness’ God brings His Elect into

by J. C. Philpot 1850

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her”. [Hosea 2:14]

What are we to understand by “the WILDERNESS“? I think we may understand by it two things. First, the world; secondly, the human heart. For, we shall find, if the Lord enable, that to a child of God both the world, and the human heart as dissected and laid bare by the Spirit of God, bear marks and characters of “a wilderness.”

But what is “a wilderness?” We must comprehend the word literally, before we can understand it spiritually.

1. A “wilderness,” then, is, first, a place where no food grows. That is the very character of the Arabian desert. No grain grows there fit for man.

2. But secondly, it is a place where no food can be made to grow. Now, you know, in this country there are commons and heaths that do not bear grain in their present state; but they might be brought under cultivation and made to produce it. But there are wild, waste districts in the Scottish Highlands, which could not by any cultivation be made to grow grain. So with the “wilderness.” You might plough, sow, harrow, and roll it, but you would never have a crop. The sun would dry it up; there is no soil in which the plant could grow. It might spring up for a time; but with all our attempts, it would soon utterly wither away.

3. And the third idea to make up a desert, and flowing out of the two former features, is, that it is a place of which the inhabitants are always rovers, without a settled habitation. They have no home, house, nor building, but live in tents; and are continually shifting the spot on which for a time they dwell.

Do not these three ideas very much make up the figure of a “wilderness?” See whether they are not applicable to two things in the experience of a child of God—the world, and his own heart.

1. The WORLD is not “a wilderness” to a worldling. To him it is a beautiful estate, enclosed in a ring fence, with land easily cultivable and soil of the best quality, producing the richest crops, laden with golden harvests. But to a child of God, as I shall show you by and by, (if led into it,) the world is but a “wilderness;” from which no crop grows to feed his soul; from which by no exertions of his own can food be made to grow; and in which he is, and ever must be, a wanderer, not a settled inhabitant.

2. And this, too, with the HUMAN HEART. We shall find, I think, these three ideas of “a wilderness” meeting also in the human heart, as laid bare by the keen dissecting knife of the Spirit to the spiritual eye of a child of God. Out of his heart no food can come, for “in him, that is, in his flesh, dwells no good thing;” there is no food in it for his new nature; nothing of which he can say, ‘This is what my soul can feed upon.’ And though he may seek to cultivate it, and is bidden and admonished to do so; and though he has tried often to put in the plough, to clean it with the hoe, to rake it with the harrow, to sow good seed, and to water it perhaps with the waterpot, yet, after all his attempts, the harvest is only a heap of sand in the day of desperate sorrow, the soil being absolutely barren, totally uncultivable and unproductive, with all his fairest exertions. He is tossed up and down, in consequence, finding nothing in his heart on which he can set his foot, on which he can build for eternity, or in which he can safely and happily dwell, as a fixed resting-place.

Now, bear these things in mind, and when I come to the “wilderness,” as the Spirit of the Lord has promised to bring his people there, you will then see whether you have an experimental knowledge of these two things for yourselves.

B. The Lord says, “Behold, I will ALLURE her.” Does this mean the first work of the Spirit upon the soul? I believe not. The first work of the Spirit, we read in Scripture, and we find confirmed by experience, is, to convince of sin, to pierce to the heart, to wound, to make the soul sensible of its state before God, and its utter alienation from him. Therefore, the word “allure,” cannot apply to the first work of the Spirit upon the soul. Men may talk of being drawn by love; but what is the religion of those who are thus drawn by love? What depth, what reality, what power, what life, what godliness is there in it? The word “allure” is not applicable, then, to the first beginning of a work. That first work usually commences with conviction, a sight and sense of sin, a cry for mercy, a feeling of wretchedness and ruin, and a despair of salvation in self. [Amen!]

But after the Lord has been pleased thus to pierce, to wound, to convince, and bring down, he often, perhaps usually, drops down some sweetness, blessedness, and consolation into the soul. He gives it to taste a few ‘dewdrops of his love’, some ‘honey-drops from the Rock of Ages’. This I call the “Spring of the soul”. You know what a beautiful season spring is; when the leaves are clothing the trees, when the birds are singing upon the branches, when the flowers are springing out of the ground, when the chilly winds of winter are gone, when the balmy breezes blow from the south, when the sun rises high in the sky, and sheds gladness over the face of the renewed earth. Thus the soul has, generally speaking, a Spring; and, as there is but one spring in nature, so for the most part there is but one spring in grace. As regards our natural life, it is only once that we are young; and it is so spiritually; we only once enjoy that sweet season of which Job speaks, “As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle.” (Job 29:4.)

During, then, this youth of the soul, this Spring season, this “day of espousals,” there is an “alluring” of the heart unto God. Now this we need. And why? Perhaps we are bound up with carnal companions, or by snares we cannot break; hampered by worldly relations, and their persecutions we cannot face; tied down with lusts and sins, and the chain of these we cannot burst; in the world, and unable to come out of it. Notwithstanding all the frights, terrors, alarms, and convictions that the soul may experience, (though these for a time may operate, and that powerfully); yet when their effect has ceased, it slips back into the old spot; it is not fairly or fully brought out. We need something beyond law and terrors to do that; we need something besides thunder and lightning to bring the soul fully unto God. [Amen]

There is felt and seen, then, a beauty, a blessedness, a reality, a sweetness in the things of God, which the tongue cannot describe. By it the heart is drawn unto the Lord Jesus, to the truth as it is in Jesus, to the people of Jesus, and to the service of Jesus. The world, friends, foes, relations are all disregarded; neither frowns nor smiles have any effect. There is such a sweetness then felt in the things of God, such a blessedness and reality, that the soul is “allured” by them out of everything that before held it back from union with a living Head.

Under these blessed feelings, a soul will do anything for Christ; will make any sacrifice, give up anything, bear anything, endure anything for the Lord Jesus. The ‘Spring of nature’ is beautiful to see; but the ‘Spring of grace’ is more beautiful to feel. Early days, if not the most profitable, yet are often the best days in our feelings.

Now, by these “allurements,” sweetness, and blessedness, the Lord draws the soul into a profession of religion, into perhaps joining a church, taking up the cross, walking with the people of God, putting itself forward, and that in the utmost sincerity, to serve the Lord Jesus. And perhaps, we think, we shall enjoy this all our days. At this season, when we see old professors carnal and worldly-minded, and we feel full of life and zeal; some mourning and sighing, and we singing and dancing; others complaining of their bad hearts, when we scarcely know that we have a bad one; others cast down with temptations, and we not exposed to them; or groaning under trials, and we ignorant of them; we think that they must be deceived. We say, ‘That is not religion; the religion we have is a very different thing; there is a sweetness in ours; there is a comfort, a blessedness in it.’

Perhaps we write very hard things against these old professors; think they have been doing something very bad, and have sinned away their comforts; or that it is their own fault they are not so lively, so happy, and so comfortable as we. But we do not know what the Lord is doing by this “alluring,” nor what his purposes are; that all this is to bring us “into the wilderness.” And when he has got us there fairly and fully, then to show us what the “wilderness” really is.

C. But HOW does this take place? A “wilderness,” I endeavored to show represents generally two things—the world and the human heart.

Now, I dare say, when your soul was flourishing, the world in a measure flourished with you too. The Lord, generally speaking, calls his people young—being young, they have not many worldly trials—and therefore, very often natural youth and spiritual youth go hand in hand. There is a buoyancy, then, naturally, and spiritually, and the two are often closely united. But now comes the “wilderness.” Now comes the world, as opened up in its real character. Trial often begins with some heavy stroke of a worldly nature. This is sometimes the first stab that the soul gets when it comes into the “wilderness.” Perhaps some illness robs us of health for life; or some stroke in providence casts down all our airy Babels—or some disappointment, it may be of a very tender nature, lays all the youthful hopes of the heart prostrate in the dust.

1. Now, up to this time the world was not manifested as a “wilderness” world, nor was our heart altogether divorced from it. And though the Lord was sweet and precious, yet there were worldly things indulged in; worldly society perhaps not fully given up; worldly practices that the heart was not weaned from; worldly connections not fully broken through. John Newton speaks of his enjoying in early days the presence of the Lord sweetly in the woods, and yet spending the rest of the evening in carnal company. Now that seems very strange; yet perhaps you and I might have done something of the same kind. When I was a Fellow of my College at Oxford, soon after I felt the weight of eternal things, I have sat in the Common Room after dinner with the other Fellows, and amid all the drinking of wine, and the hum and buzz of conversation, in which I took no part, have been secretly lifting up my heart to the Lord. But I could not go among them after I got into the wilderness. The reason was, I was not fully brought out; though there was a blessedness felt in the things of God, yet the evils of the world were not clearly manifested; temptation was not powerfully presented; and therefore, the danger of it was not felt nor feared.

But now, the world begins to be opened up in its real character. Once it was your friend; now it has become your enemy—once it smiled upon you; now it frowns—once it did you good; now it slanders you, and does you all the evil it can—once you could enjoy it, but now it palls upon your appetite. Disappointment, vexation, and sorrow embitter all; and you find the world to be what God declares it, “a wilderness.” No food grows in it; nothing that your soul can really be satisfied with; “vanity and vexation of spirit,” are written upon all. Though you may try to get food out of it, all your attempts are blighted with disappointment; and you in consequence, finding no solid footing, become a wanderer, a pilgrim, and a stranger, tossed up and down in it, and having in it neither heart nor home.

2. But again. The human heart, as opened up to a child of God, is a “wilderness,” too. You did not know this formerly; you did not know you had so bad a heart. When the Lord was first “alluring” you into the “wilderness,” you could not see that you had no strength, no holiness, no wisdom in yourself; that your heart was a cage of unclean birds; that there was nothing spiritually good in it. In early days, we cannot discern between the Lord’s strength and our own; between natural and spiritual feelings; between the zeal of the flesh and the life of the Spirit. Nor do we understand these things until our senses are exercised to discern good and evil. A clear line is not drawn at first in our soul between nature and grace; and therefore, our hearts in early days are not to us a “wilderness.”

We think we can cultivate them; why could we not? Cannot we encourage a spirit of prayer? Cannot we read God’s word? Cannot we go to hear good men preach? Cannot we arrange certain seasons and hours in which to seek the Lord’s face? Cannot we watch against besetting sins? Cannot we keep the door of our lips? Cannot we keep our eyes and hearts fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ? We are told to do these things; to cultivate grace; and we make the attempt. Are we successful? If we are, it is our ignorance that makes us think so. [Amen] Let us have light to see, life to feel, and spiritual discernment to know what is of God, and what is of man; what grace is, and what the work of the Spirit is; what divine feelings are, and how distinct these are from the work of the flesh; then we shall find that our heart not only does not bear food that we can feed upon to our soul’s satisfaction; but cannot be made to bear it. It is a “wilderness,” a wide waste, a barren sand, a desert—fiercely blown by the dreadful Sirocco, parched by the sun, dried up and desolate, absolutely sterile and uncultivable.

Now, here in the “wilderness,” we get stripped to the very bone; here we lose all our goodness, all our wisdom, all our strength, all our creature holiness, all our rags of fleshly righteousness. It is in the “wilderness” we get stripped—and until we come there, we do not know what stripping is. Then we feel poor creatures, ruined wretches—desolate, forsaken, abandoned, almost without hope or help—in self lost and undone. We look upon the world—all is vanity, vexation, and sorrow. We look within—all is dark, wild, and desolate—nothing but sin, and that continually—unbelief, infidelity, obscenity, filth, and blasphemy—everything hideous, everything vile—nothing but evil without and within. This is stripping work—this is “the wilderness”—this is bringing a man to his senses; this is laying the creature low; this is making him know the depth of the fall; this is plucking up his fleshly religion, tearing out by the roots all his carnal hopes, leaving him naked, empty, and bare. All his creature holiness gone, all his creature zeal withered, all his creature strength turned into weakness, all his creature loveliness into corruption—and he standing before God utterly unable to work one spiritual feeling in his own heart. [Amen and Amen]

Are you here? Have you ever been here? Is God bringing you here? Here we must come to learn what true religion is; here must we come to see the end of all perfection, and to feel that “the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” But does the Lord leave his people here? No!
II. Which leads us to our second point. The Lord brings his people there to do them good—to give them blessings; to work grace in their hearts; and to extend to them favor and mercy in a measure and degree hitherto unfelt. But let us look at the catalogue of blessings provided for Israel when she comes into the “wilderness.”

A. “I will speak comfortably unto her.” It is in the margin, (and so it is in the Hebrew) “to her heart.” I shall take the two renderings—first, “to her heart;” secondly, “comfortably.”

1. “To her heart.” It is in the “wilderness,” then, that we learn “heart religion”. If you want God to speak to your heart, you must go into the “wilderness” for it. It is often only ‘headwork’ and ‘mere doctrines’ until we get there. Into the wilderness of human nature must we go, if God himself is to speak to our heart. And when you begin to feel what a heart you have, you will find the necessity of God speaking to it; for only so far as he speaks, have you any feeling, any life, any power in your religion. And O, when a man begins to find and feel what a “wilderness” heart he has—how anxious, how desirous he is that God would speak to his heart! How this shuts up his religion into a very narrow compass! How it cuts off the flesh of it, and brings him, and his religion too, into a nutshell! How it hacks to pieces all the ornaments that have been hung around it by self and the devil, and brings him to this point, (and a very trying point it is to be brought to)—”I have no religion of self; I cannot work a grain in mine own heart; I am dead, dark, stupid; God must speak to my soul—and if he does not speak, I am utterly destitute. I have no feeling, no life, no faith, no love, no strength, no holiness—I have nothing. I stand,” says the soul, “before God without a thread.”

“Lord,” (the poor man cries under these painful exercises, toiling and struggling in the wilderness), “speak to my soul; drop a word into my heart.” And how anxious he is for God to speak! But how many sleepless nights have you passed because God does not speak to your heart? How many times do you roll backwards and forwards upon your bed because you cannot get the Lord to speak a word into your soul? Do you ever go groaning and sighing along the street because the Lord does not speak to you? or, are you gazing with a fool’s eye into every picture-shop?

Now, if you are in the “wilderness,” you will want the Lord to speak to your soul; and you will feel all your religion to hang upon this—that you have no more true religion than springs out of God’s word and work in your heart. And here you will look and wait, long, beg, and pray, ‘Lord, in mercy speak to my poor soul.’ The Lord has promised to do this; but he will not speak until he brings you to the spot where he has promised to do so. When he has “allured” you along into the wilderness, and got you fastened there, he will now and then drop a word, give a promise, speak with soft melting whispers, make his word sweet and precious; and thus fulfill his promise, ‘I will speak to her heart.’

2. “Comfortably.” But the word also means “comfortably.” Now when the Lord was “alluring” your soul in the way I have described, you did not know much about comfort springing out of the Lord’s speaking to your soul. You could hardly tell whence your comfort came. It did not come direct from the mouth of God; the Lord did not mean it at that time to come so. Every sermon seemed at that time blessed; but now perhaps it is only one word out of it. At that time, when you went upon your knees, it seemed as though you had sweet access to the throne of grace; every hymn was full of beauty; and every child of God you could take in your arms, embrace, and feel sweet communion with. And yet, all the time, when you look back, you cannot say this sprung out of any special words or promises that God applied to your soul. There was a general sweetness, but not a particular one. It was more in the truth, in the people of God, in the blessedness of the things of God, in the doctrines of grace, than it was in special promises, or special applications of blood and love.

But when you get into the “wilderness,” you cannot do with what did very well in times of old. There are many children of God who love to hear a minister trace out evidences. ‘O,’ they say, ‘this just suits me; I love to hear evidences.’ But you get, after a time, beyond evidences. They will do for a babe; they will suit a child; but a man wants meat; a man can pick a bone. And so (I address myself now to those who know the “wilderness”) you want something stronger, more solid, more weighty, more real, more effectual; you want testimonies, words, manifestations, a sweet discovery of the Lord Jesus Christ. And it is by being stripped in the “wilderness,” that we are brought to look and long for the Lord’s own special comfort; for we are brought to stand in need of it; and as we cannot get a drop of comfort by cultivating our own graces, we are obliged to beg for a few grains of comfort from the Lord himself.

And what a mercy it is, that he has promised to speak “comfortably;” that when nobody else can speak comfort, when we cannot speak it to our own souls, and cannot get consolation from anything, the Lord can and does, according to his promise, speak “comfortably.” He whispers peace, and blesses the soul with some testimony of its saving interest in the precious blood and love of his dear Son. That is the first thing the Lord has promised to do.

B. “I will give her her vineyards from thence.” A strange place! We would not go to Bagshot Heath or Woking Common to find “a vineyard;” and I am sure we should not go to the great Sahara desert, or the Arabian desert, to find grapes growing. But we might as well expect clusters of grapes upon Bagshot Heath, as spiritual fruitfulness in the human heart. Here, then, is the wonder. “I will give her her vineyards from thence.” What! in the wilderness! when she has been trying to bring something out of her heart to please God and self with, and all her efforts are baffled! What! to give her vineyards there! Why, that is the mystery; that is the beauty; that is the blessedness; that is the sweetness—that the Lord can and does make the barren heart fruitful in the “wilderness.”

Now, perhaps you have been toiling, tugging, working very hard to produce some fruit. ‘Come,’ say you, ‘it will not do to go on like this. I must do something; I must pray more, read the word of God more, watch over my heart more, and seek the Lord more. I will do it too; nobody shall hinder me.’ So some Monday morning, you begin and set to work, and take the Bible down. ‘Yes,’ say you, ‘I will read two or three chapters this morning; I will go to prayer, and I will try if I cannot do something to be a real Christian.’ All very good. But what do you get from it? What power, sweetness, or blessedness can you put into the word of God? What life and feeling can you put into your soul? Well, you have tried it again and again; and when you have cast up the account, it is nil—nothing, a cipher. Zero is the full amount! And you wonder where the fault is, until at last you begin to despair, and feel and say, ‘I am a wretch, and ever shall be. God be merciful to such a wretch! Lord, look in tender compassion on such a monster, such a filthy creature that has done nothing, and can do nothing but sin.’

Now when the Lord is pleased to speak a word to the heart, and bless your soul with real comfort, what is the effect? It makes you fruitful. Then you can read the word of God—aye, and with blessedness too; then you can pray, and with sweet satisfaction too; then you can look up, and with eyes of affection too; and then you can be holy, and that by the real sanctifying operations of the Spirit too. This is the way whereby all fruitfulness is produced—not by roller, plough, and harrow; seed basket and hoe; turning up the desert, and casting good grain there—to be like Pharaoh’s corn—only blasted by the East wind. But to be in the “wilderness”—to feel a needy, naked wretch, without hope or help in self, and to wait upon the Lord for him to speak a word to the soul, by his own blessed breath breathing into us a fruitfulness that our heart never could produce in itself. Here is genuine spirituality and true holiness—here is real fruitfulness. These are the graces of the Spirit—not the perishing works of the flesh.

What is thus wrought in the soul by the power of God is to the glory of God. “I will give her her vineyards from thence.” Now, if you had never known the “wilderness,” what a barren heart and desperately wicked nature you have, you would not have wanted fruitfulness to come from God’s own mouth into your soul. The starved, withered crop that ‘nature’ produces would have been reaped and gathered into your garner, and you would have been pleased with the sheaves, though they were but straw and chaff.

As time is running on, I must just hastily skim over the other blessings which God has promised in the “wilderness.”

C. “The valley of Achor for a door of hope.” Now the “valley of ACHOR” signifies the ‘valley of trouble.’ It was the valley in which Achan was stoned. And why stoned? Because he had taken the accursed thing—because his eye had been captivated by the Babylonish garment and golden wedge, and he had buried them in the tent. This may throw a light on what “the valley of Achor” is spiritually. Perhaps you have been guilty of Achan’s sin—you have been taking the accursed thing—you have been too deeply connected with the world—you have done things that God’s displeasure is against. Let conscience speak in your bosom. The consequence has been, that you have gotten into the “valley of Achor!” Trouble, sorrow, and confusion are your lot; and you do not know whether the lot of Achan may not await you there.

Now it is in this “valley of Achor,” or sorrow, confusion, and fear, that the “door of HOPE” is opened. And what is “a door of hope?” What is a ‘door’ literally? Is not “a door” a place of exit and a place for entrance? By “a door” we go out, and by “a door” we come in. So “a door of hope” admits the visits of the Lord to the soul; and “a door of hope” admits the going out of the soul’s breathings after God. Thus, every glimpse of mercy, every beam of love, and every ray of comfort; every sweet promise that drops into the soul, every intimation from God, every testimony of interest in Christ; every dewdrop, every honey-drop that falls into a parched wilderness heart—this is opening up “a door of hope.”

But why “in the valley of Achor?” That we may cease to hope in self—that a sound and true gospel hope may enter within the veil as an anchor sure and steadfast, and there be no hope but in the precious blood of the Lamb, and in a sweet manifestation of that blood to the conscience. This is “the door of hope” through which the soul looks into the very presence of God—sees Jesus on the throne of grace, the sprinkled mercy-seat, and the great High Priest “able and willing to save to the uttermost.”

Through this “door of hope,” by which Christ is seen, the soul goes forth in desires, breathings, hungerings, and thirstings after him. And through this “door of hope” descend visits, smiles, tokens, testimonies, mercies, and favors. And thus, there is a “door of hope;” no longer barred, closed, and shut back—but thrown wide open in the bleeding side of an incarnate God! And this is opened “in the valley of Achor,” where we deserve to be stoned to death because we have touched the accursed thing—where we deserve nothing but damnation, the eternal vengeance of God, and to be made as Achan a monument of eternal wrath. Yet, in this “valley of Achor,” is opened up a blessed “door of hope.”

D. “She shall sing there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when the Lord brought her out of the land of Egypt.” Spring again! only a better spring. Youth again! “They shall renew their strength as the eagle.” Here is a renewing—of visits almost despaired of—of joys that seemed never to return—of hopes almost extinct—of consolations remembered, but remembered almost with fear, lest they should have been delusive. “She shall sing there as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came out of the land of Egypt.”

But what a place to go and get into, to learn religion. How much more pleasant it would be to the flesh to take our Bible down, get a notebook, have a new pen, put some fresh ink into the ink bottle, and then to draw out our religion from the Bible; to believe all we read, take down all we see, and transplant it into our heart. But that is not the way—that would only stand in the ‘letter’. It would not do for eternity, nor for a dying bed. It would exalt the creature, but would depress the Creator. It might do for an hour, but it would not do for the judgment-day. And therefore, we have to learn our religion, if we learn it at all, in a way totally opposite.

Have you learned your religion in the wilderness? If you have, it will stand. There is a reality in it—it bears marks of God’s grace and teaching. But if we have not learned it in this way—what reality, what power, what blessedness is there in it? None! We shall have to part with it when we need it most. When we lie upon a death-bed, all our false religion will make to itself wings, and fly away—and when we stretch forth our hands for a little true hope, it is all gone.

Thus, we want something solid, real, spiritual, abiding; something of God and godliness, divine, heavenly, and supernatural; wrought in the soul by the almighty power, and breathed into our heart by the very mouth of God himself. That will stand, and no other will.

If the Lord has led you in his path, you have an evidence in your soul that these things are so; and you will know that this is the way—not because I say, so, nor because the Bible always says it—but because you have felt, experienced, and known these things by divine teaching and by divine testimony!

[The above sermon by brother Philpot is a true saying and worthy of all acceptation. If I had read this sermon even ten years ago, I would not have understood it neither would it have meant anything to me. But now after twenty nine years since I was saved, and having personally gone through this howling wilderness spoken of above, I know that these things are so; and that Brother Philpot has spoken the truth as it in Jesus! – Michael Jeshurun ]



Compiled by Michael Jeshurun

“So then it is NOT of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but OF GOD that sheweth mercy”! [Romans 9:16]

Free will is “corrupted nature’s deformed darling, the Pallas or beloved self-conception of darkened minds” – John Owen

“The friends of free will are the enemies of free grace.” – John Trapp

“This crown of free will is fallen from our head” and “If it be God’s purpose that saves then it is not free will.” – Thomas Watson

“A man’s free will cannot cure him even of the toothache, or a sore finger; and yet he madly thinks it is in its power to cure his soul.” – Augustus Toplady.

“Man is nothing; HE HATH A FREE WILL TO GO TO HELL, BUT NONE TO GO TO HEAVEN, till God worketh in him” and “you dishonour God by denying election. You plainly make salvation depend, not on God’s ‘free grace’ but on Man’s ‘free will.’” – George Whitefield

“Free will has carried many souls to hell, but yet never a soul to heaven.” C.H. Spurgeon

“I do not come into this pulpit hoping that perhaps somebody will of his own free will return to Christ. My hope lies in another quarter. I hope that my Master will lay hold of some of them and say, “You are mine, and you shall be mine. I claim you for myself.” My hope arises from the freeness of grace, and not from the freedom of the will.” C.H. Spurgeon

“God’s character is maligned by every person who believes in free will.” – W.E. Best

“This brought me out of the free-will fog, and truth shone in my heart like a comet … from that moment I waged war against free will.” – William Huntington

“Are we then so corrupt that we are wholly incapable of doing any good, and inclined to all wickedness? INDEED WE ARE; except we are regenerated by the Spirit of God.”



-preacher James Guyo

“Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth!” [Rom 9:18]

Everyone who reads Romans 9 knows exactly what God is saying. They just don’t like that kind of God because He rubs our flesh the wrong way. And so people come up with some foolishness that is supposed to cushion the reality of that God. My friends, the God of Romans 9 is the God of the Bible and is the only God that exists and is the God that you have to deal with.

Many theologians and people have developed hives trying to soften Him but to no avail. If you stand with the God of Romans, you are going to get accused of saying God is the author of evil. This term is actually a high sounding nothing term that was coined by people who will not submit to the true God who has revealed Himself and know nothing about the true God. God claims that He is the Potter of the clay and does whatever He wants with what is His.

What is difficult to understand about doing whatever you want with what is yours? We do what we want with our shoes, clothes, etc., but somehow God has to seek our approval if He has to do what He pleases with what is His? That is the folly of human beings. We think God exists for us, for our glory and not us for Him and because of Him. The problem is, we actually think we belong to us and owe our existence to ourselves, but God says nope.

You belong to Him and for this purpose He raised you up that He may glorify Himself in you, in salvation or condemnation. We can throw tantrums all we want and for as long as we want, but the Lord remains unmoved. His testimony stands forever. Amen!



Octavius Winslow

“For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.” [2 Corinthians 4:11,13]

What is the life of faith which the believer lives, but a manifestation of the life of the Lord Jesus? The highest, the holiest, the happiest life lived below, is the life of faith. BUT NATURE CONTRIBUTES NOTHING TO THIS LIFE. It comes from a higher source. It is supernatural – it is opposed to nature. It springs from the life “hid with Christ in God.” “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God.”

Here is a glorious manifestation of the life of Jesus. If we desire any evidence that Jesus is risen, that He is alive again, and that He is the life of the soul, here it is! See the faith of a child of God sifted as wheat, yet not one grain falling to the ground—tried as gold, yet not one particle lost – though in the flame, yet never consumed. And why? Because Christ lives in the soul. Dear believer! your faith may be sharply tempted – severely tried – but never, never shall it quite fully fail; for Jesus lives in you, and lives in you FOREVER.

Oh blessed trial of faith, that manifests in, and endears to you the life of Jesus! It is the precious trial of a “precious faith,” – a faith which the more deeply it is tried, the more deeply it manifests the risen life of its Divine “Author and Finisher.”

And what, too, are all the supports of the believer in seasons of trial, suffering, and bereavement, but so many manifestations of the life of the Lord Jesus? What is our path to glory, but the path of tribulation, of suffering, and of death? Our Lord and Master, in the expression of His wisdom and love, forewarns us of this – “In the world you shall have tribulation.” And His apostles but echo the same sentiment, when they affirm that it is “through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom.”

But the life of our risen Lord is daily manifested in us. This it is that keeps the soul buoyant amid the billows, strong in faith, joyful in hope, soaring in love. Thus is Jesus the life of every grace, the life of every promise, the life of every ordinance, the life of every blessing; yes, of all that is really costly and precious to a child of God, Jesus is the substance, the glory, the sweetness, the fragrance, yes, the very life itself. Oh! dark and lonely, desolate and painful indeed were our present pilgrimage, but for Jesus. If in the world we have tribulation, in whom have we peace? – in Jesus! If in the creature we meet with fickleness and change, in whom find we the “Friend that loves at all times”? – in Jesus!

When adversity comes as a wintry blast, and lays low our comforts, when the cloud is upon our tabernacle, when health, and wealth, and influence, and friends are gone – in whom do we find the covert from the wind, the faithful, tender “Brother born for adversity?” – in Jesus! When temptation assails, when care darkens, when trial oppresses, when bereavement wounds, when heart and flesh are failing, who throws around us the protecting shield, who applies the precious promise, who speaks the soothing word, who sustains the sinking spirit, who heals the sorrow, and dries the tear? – Jesus! Where sin struggles in the heart, and guilt burdens the conscience, and unbelief beclouds the mind, whose grace subdues our iniquities, whose blood gives us peace, and whose light dispels our darkness? – Jesus!

And when the spark of life wanes, and the eye grows dim, and the mind wanders, and the soul, severing its last fetter, mounts and soars away, who, in that awful moment, draws near in form unseen, and whispers in words unheard by all but the departing one, now in close communion with the solemn realities of the invisible world – “Fear not; I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die”? – still, it is only Jesus!




Edward Payson (1783-1827)

“What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter!” John 13:7

Above all, I would say to the Christian: Never distrust the kindness, the love, the wisdom and faithfulness of your Savior–but confide in Him who has promised that all things shall work together for your good. Though you may not NOW know what He is doing–you shall know HEREAFTER.

all the trials and temptations,
all the dark and comfortless hours,
all the distressing doubts and fears,
all the long and tedious conflicts with which you are now exercised.
You will be convinced that not a sigh, not a tear, not a single uneasy thought was ever allotted to you–without some wise and gracious design.

Say not, then, like Jacob of old, “All these things are against me!”
Say not, like David, “I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul!”
For all these things are for your good–and you shall never perish, neither shall any pluck you out of Christ’s hand!

Why should you, who are sons of the King of Heaven–be lean and discontented from day to day? Remember that you are the heir of God and joint heir with Christ–of an incorruptible, eternal, and unfading inheritance!

Go to Jesus, the compassionate Savior of sinners, who heals the broken in heart, who gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart. Go, I say, to Him!

Tell Him all your griefs and sorrows!
Tell Him that your souls cleave to the dust!
Tell Him that iniquities, doubts, and fears prevail against you!
Tell Him that you are poor and miserable and wretched and blind and naked.

Go to His mercy-seat, where He sits as a merciful High Priest. Go and embrace His feet, lay open your whole hearts–and you will find Him infinitely more gracious than you can conceive; infinitely more willing to grant your requests, than you are to make them. He is love itself–it is His very nature to pity.

Have you a hard heart? Carry it to Him–and He will soften it.

Have you a blind mind? Carry it to Him–and He will enlighten it.

Are you oppressed with a load of guilt? Carry it to Him–and He will remove it.

Are you defiled and polluted? He will wash you in His own blood.

Have you backslidden? “Turn unto Me,” says He, “O backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.”

How great are the privileges which result from an ability to say, “CHRIST IS MINE!”

If Christ is yours–then all that He possesses is yours!
His POWER is yours–to defend you!
His WISDOM and KNOWLEDGE are yours–to guide you!
His RIGHTEOUSNESS is yours–to justify you!
His SPIRIT and GRACE are yours–to sanctify you!
His HEAVEN is yours–to receive you!

You will never live happily or usefully–until you can feel that Christ, and all that He possesses, are yours–and learn to come and take them as your own!