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J.C. Philpot

Preached on Lordís Day Evening, 11th July, 1841,

at Zoar Chapel, Great Alie Street, London

A peculiar people

(1 Peter 2:9)

WHAT an involuntary testimony do ungodly persons often bear to the truth of the Scriptures! What, for instance, is more common in the world, and amongst those who are lying dead in a profession, than language of this kind: What an odd kind of people there are at such a chapel! what particular notions they have! what peculiar sentiments they entertain! There is only a set of peculiar books suited to them, and there are only a few peculiar preachers whom they will hear; and in all their words and actions they manifest an exclusiveness, a bigotry, a narrow- mindedness which is very different from what you witness at other places!

Is not this bearing a testimony to the truth of Godís Word? Does not truth unwillingly fall here from the lips of enemies? Has not God Himself said that they are a peculiar people? Then this very peculiarity which is stamped upon them, and which the keen eye of the world discovers, is an evidence that they are those, of whom God has said that they are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that they should show forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. This peculiar people has existed through all ages from the days of the first promise, and will exist until the final consummation of all things.

Abel was one of this peculiar people; and the peculiar blessings that God favoured him with, drew down upon him the wrath of his murderous brother. Noah was one of this peculiar people, whom God directed to build the ark, as typical of Christ Jesus the Lord, in whom His dear people find a refuge from the deluging waves and showers of Godís wrath. Lot in Sodom was one of this peculiar people, who vexed his righteous soul from day to day by witnessing their ungodly deeds. Abraham in the land of the Canaanites, Isaac his son, Jacob his grandson, were the ancestors of a peculiar people, upon whom God had set his own stamp that He had separated them from the nations of the earth, as typical of a people foreordained to eternal glory.

The separation of the Jews, the lineal descendants of Abraham, from all nations, typified the separation of the elect from all the people that dwell upon the face of the earth; and the enmity that was manifested against that peculiar people was but a manifestation of the enmity which exists in the heart against the people of God -the development of that enmity which God said He would Himself put between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. Ge 3:15 When they were in Egypt, their being a peculiar people called forth the enmity of that king that knew not Joseph. After the captivity, when they were dispersed through various lands, they called forth the enmity of Haman. He therefore went to the king his master and said, "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people, neither keep they the kingís laws: therefore it is not for the kingís profit to suffer them. If it please the king let it be written that they may be destroyed; and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the kingís treasuries" Ester 3:8,9.

Here was the discovery of the venom that ever dwells in the heart of the reprobate against the elect; here was the manifestation of that hidden enmity, which exists in the world against the peculiar family of Jehovah. These manifestations, then, of enmity are marks and testimonies, not merely to the truth of revelation, but in favour of those people against whom these envenomed arrows are shot. And depend upon it, friends, if you and I have never been aimed at by the bitter shafts of contempt, if we have never experienced persecution, if our fair fame has never been tarnished by the malicious slander of the world, if we have never been held up to scorn and execration as having such a peculiarity stamped upon us as the world hates, we carry with us no evidence that we are of the number of that peculiar people whom God has chosen in Christ, and blessed with all spiritual blessings in Him.

There is a peculiar people, then; and the desire of every heart that God has touched with His finger is sweetly breathed forth in the language of Ruth, when she said, "Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God" . Ru 1:16 "Yes", says the living soul whom God has quickened into a new and spiritual existence -"yes, they are the people of God; my heart cleaves to them with affection, I desire to be one with them; may my lot and portion be among the living family of God. Though there are in them many things which grieve me, though there are in them many divisions, though there is much lacking in them which I desire to see present, and much present in them which I desire to see absent, yet with all their failings and all their imperfections and all their infirmities, they are the people of the living God. With them I desire to live, and with them I desire to die." Then, friends, if you and I are walking in the strait and narrow path that leads to eternal life, we shall carry about with us some stamp, some evidence, that we belong to this peculiar people; we shall bear with us some marks that God has separated us, by a work of grace upon our souls, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth Exodus 33:16.

But this people are a peculiar people in several points of view. They are a peculiar people by the original separation of them in the eternal councils of the Three-one God. They were chosen in Christ before all worlds, that they might be a people in whom the Lord Jesus might eternally delight, and in whom He might eternally be glorified. Their fall in their first parent was foreseen and foreprovided for. The Lamb of God was slain, in the mind of God the Father, before the foundation of the world, and they stood eternally one with Christ, justified in His glorious righteousness, holy in His spotless innocency, perfect in His perfection, and comely in His comeliness.

And thus this peculiar people were blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, Eph 1:3 before time had an existence; before this world had a being; before the all- creative voice of God made the sun and stars shine in the skies; when eternity alone existed, and the Three-one God dwelt alone in sacred communion, without any one object of Their creative hand. This people had a being then in the mind of God; and in virtue of this original being, they are brought forth first in time (each according to the moment that God has foreordained) and then in Godís appointed season, are brought forth by the quickening operations of the Holy Ghost into a new and spiritual existence.

But how, as a matter of individual inquiry, shall we know that we belong to this peculiar people? Shall we turn over the leaves of our Bible, and read, Eph 1:1 or, Ro 8:1 and seeing there that God has an elect people, at once conclude that we belong to them? Shall we turn to the first epistle of John, and reading there The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin, therefore conclude that our iniquities are pardoned? Shall we cast our eyes on the text Who is he that condemneth? it is God that justifieth; - and by reading that text of Scripture, without further ado, believe in our own personal justification? No; this may do for a dry professor, for one dead in a form; but it will never do for a living soul, whose conscience God has touched with His own finger. Before he can realize his interest in those blessings, wherewith God has blessed His people before all worlds, he must have a personal manifestation and revelation of those blessings to his own soul, under the operations of the Holy Spirit; and if they are not sealed upon his conscience, and evidenced to his heart, by the witness of the Holy Ghost, he can never be satisfied that he is a sharer in those blessings that are stored up for the elect in Christ Jesus.

But there are certain marks and evidences, which fall short of the manifestation of Christ with power to the soul; there are testimonies which do not amount to a full and complete satisfaction; and when a child of God is in deep poverty and strong exercises of soul, he will be glad to accept a little token when he cannot get a greater. The beggar in the street will take a copper coin; he does not turn away from that with contempt; his hunger and his poverty make the smallest gift acceptable. A man in good circumstances would turn away from such a pitiful donation, and think it an insult; but he that is deeply sunk in poverty is glad to have anything that may relieve his pressing want. Many times, when the Lord lays poverty as a deep and galling load upon the souls of His dear family, He makes them glad to get hold of those little coins (I mean apparently such, for no coin is little that comes from heavenís mint), which proud professors despise.

We will, then, with Godís blessing, endeavour to trace out a few of the peculiar marks that are stamped upon this peculiar people; and if the Lord shall be pleased through my mouth to convey from the courts of heaven one of these coins into your heart, He will lock it up safe in that treasury; He will sometimes bring it out for you to look upon; and thus you will have at times a sweet evidence that you are interested in that love which knows no bounds.

1. The peculiar people, then, have peculiar exercises. No man knows anything of spiritual exercises, except he is a spiritual man. He may have convictions, it is true; he may have passing doubts and fears; he may have some dim and dismal apprehensions of the wrath to come; but as to spiritual exercises, he knows them not, for they are peculiar to spiritually taught people.

But all Godís family, each according to their measure, have spiritual exercises. Sometimes, for instance, they are powerfully exercised with unbelief; that is, the unbelief of their hearts so powerfully works in their carnal mind, as to obscure every evidence, hide every testimony, and deface every inscription that the Holy Ghost has engraved upon their souls. But it is not the mere existence of unbelief, that manifests a child of God, for unbelief reigns and rules in the hearts of the reprobate; it is the exercise of the soul under unbelief, that shows the existence of spiritual life; it is the conflict, the opposition, the struggle, that is carried on in the bosom; for this implies a counteracting principle, the existence of the company of two armies.

To be shut up in unbelief is no testimony of being a living soul; but to find in our hearts a counteracting principle w