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J.C. Philpot

Preached at Gower Street Chapel, London, on Lordís Day Evening, 19th July 1868.

"Why art thou cast down, 0 my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?

Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him,

who is the health of my countenance, and my God."- .

Psalm 42:11

WHAT a proof it is of the truth and inspiration of the word of God, that no sooner is the Lord pleased to quicken our souls into spiritual life, than we find the Bible to become our companion, counsellor, and friend. True, we might possibly before that time, from a sense of duty or out of custom, have read the Scriptures, and that diligently. We might have been taught them from childhood, and committed large portions to memory; or even have been able so far to understand them as to speak fluently upon the truths contained in them, and contend for the doctrines of grace against opponents. But though we might have done all this, and much more than this, for who can say how far nature may go?- yet for the most part, how listlessly and languidly was the word of God read by us; how little was its spiritual meaning understood; how much less were the solemn realities revealed in it believed or acted upon.

We might not have doubted the inspiration of the Bible, and might have regarded it with a degree of reverence as the word of God; but with all that outward respect, there was no real faith in our heart either to fear the threatenings, or to receive the promises. We never obtained through it any well-grounded hope in the mercy of God; we never felt from it any spiritual love to his name, or to any truth connected with the Person and work of Christ. Nor did it ever work in us any humility of mind, brokenness of heart, contrition of spirit, or any obedience to Godís will, or create any earnest desire to please or solemn fear to offend him. And thus, as regards what the word of God was to us, as to any saving or sanctifying effect upon our hearts or upon our lives, it was a perfect blank to us, and we as great a blank to it.

But 0 what a change takes place in the soulís feelings towards the word of God when God is pleased to quicken it into divine life! Nor indeed need we wonder why there is such a marked revolution in our feelings toward it; for it is by the power of Godís word upon the heart, that this wondrous change is effected.

"Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."

James 1:18.

"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."

1 Peter 1:23.

This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me."

Psalm 119:50

†By that same word we were convinced of our sins; "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12.

By the power of that word also upon our consciences, we were, in due time, enabled to believe in the Son of God; for it is through his word applied to the heart with a divine power, that faith is raised up to believe in his name; and then it is, as the Lord said to his disciples, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." John 6:63

And this spirit and life are the spirit and life of faith, and specially of that faith which embraces Him as the Son of God; for when he is pleased to apply his precious word to the heart, and in the power of that word to manifest himself, faith is raised up to receive his testimony, and thus his word is made Spirit and life to the soul. This made Jeremiah say: "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart." Jeremiah 15:16.

In a similar way, when the soul is cast down by reason of the many difficulties of the way, that word becomes its support. "My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word." Ps 119:81. When we are in difficulties or perplexities, that word becomes our counselor; as David found it: "Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors." Ps 119:24. And again, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Ps 119:105. And the counsel it gives us is good counsel, for it tells us how to act and what to do: bids us cast our care upon the Lord, for that he will sustain us; bids us be still and know that He is God; warns us not to fight our own battles, or go forth to meet the enemy in our own strength; but to watch, and pray, and wait for the Lord to appear.

If we are persecuted by our enemies as David was by Saul, when he was hunted like a partridge upon the mountains, it is by the power and support of that word we get strength to bear their cruel accusations and to stand firm against their attacks. This made David say, "They had almost consumed me upon earth: but I forsook not thy precepts." Ps 119:87.

†If Satan come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord by the power of his word lifts up a standard against him. If we slip and start aside from the strait and narrow way, the word comes to restore us: "He restoreth my soul". Ps 23:3 for it is by believing Godís promise of freely forgiving all iniquity, transgression, and sin, that our backslidings are healed and our souls brought back from bondage, carnality, and death. In fact it is by the power of his word upon our heart, that the whole work of grace upon the soul is carried on from first to last. By its promises we are drawn, by its precepts we are guided, by its warnings we are admonished, by its reproofs we are rebuked, by its rod we are chastened, by its support we are upheld; in its light we walk, by its teachings are made wise, by its revivings are renewed, and by its truth are sanctified. Not that the word of God can of itself do all or any of these things in us and for us; but in the hands of the Spirit, who works in and by it as his effectual instrument, all these gracious operations are carried on in the soul.

Now can we say this, or anything similar to this, of any other book? Other books may instruct or amuse: they may feed the intellect, charm the imagination, and cultivate the mind. But what more can they do? I do not mean by this to despise or set aside every other book but the Bible; for without books society itself, as at present constituted, could not exist; and to burn every book would be to throw us back into the barbarism of the Middle Ages. Let, then, books have their place as regards this life: but what can they do far us as regards the life to come? What can our renowned authors, our choice classics, our learned historians, our great dramatists, or our eloquent poets do for the soul in seasons of affliction and distress? Can they heal a wounded conscience? Can they put away a sense of Godís wrath? Can they restore the joys of salvation, when, through guilt and fear, they seem well nigh gone? Can they support a dying man upon his bed of sickness? Can they take away the sting of death and snatch victory from the grave? How powerless all human writings are in these circumstances. Is it not as Mr. Hart well says? What balm could wretches ever find In wit, to heal affliction? Or who can cure a troubled mind With all the pomp of diction?

Now here is the blessedness of the word of God, that when everything else fails, that comes to our aid under all circumstances, so that we never can sink so low as to get beyond the reach of some promise in the word of truth. We may come, and most probably shall come, to a spot where everything else will fail and give way but the word of God which for ever is settled in heaven. Then the word of grace and truth which reaches down to the lowest case, the word of promise upon which the Lord causes the soul to hope, will still turn towards us a friendly smile, and still encourage us under all circumstances to call upon the name of the Lord, and to hang upon his faithfulness who hath said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." Mark 13:31. Thus, under circumstances the most trying to flesh and blood, where nature stands aghast and reason fails, there the word of God will come in as a counsellor to drop in friendly advice, as a companion to cheer and support the mind by its tender sympathy, and as a friend to speak to the heart with a loving, affectionate voice. We need not wonder, then, how the word of God has been prized in all ages by the family of God; for it is written with such infinite wisdom, that it meets every case, suits every circumstance, fills up every aching void, and is adapted to every condition of life and every state both of body and soul.

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