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The FoolóHis Character, Affliction, and Deliverance

J.C. Philpot

Preached at Providence Chapel, London, on July 27, 1851

"Fools, because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul abhors all manner of food; and they draw near unto the gates of death. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions" (Psalm 107:17-20).

The dealings of God with the souls of his people are similar, yet diversified; similar in substance, diversified in particulars. "All your children shall be taught of the Lord;" "When he has come, he shall convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment;" "This is life eternal, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent;" "He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you." These, and many other texts of a similar kind, point to the uniformity of God's teachings and dealings with the soul.

And yet, if we were to converse with God's people, one by one, we should find, that though in many points there was in their experience a great similarity, yet in others there would be a great diversity. The Apostle Paul, speaking of the gifts of the blessed Spirit (and in these gifts we may include also his graces) mentions this similarity and diversity. "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. (1 Cor. 12:4-6, 11.)

Psalm 107 is an epitome of Christian experience; an abstract, as it were, of the gracious dealings of God with the soul. And did time and opportunity permit us to run through the leading points of that Psalm, we would find these two features stamped upon it--diversity of experience in each case; with similarity in four things--distress, cry, deliverance, praise. In this epitome of Christian experience, Psalm 107, four characters stand prominently forth, which we may thus briefly characterizeó

the Wanderer (verses 4-9),

the Rebel (verses 10-16),

the Fool (verses 17-22),

and the Mariner (verses 23-32).

I shall with God's blessing this morning, take up the character of the "FOOL," and, in looking at his experience as drawn by the pen of inspiration, I shall hope to consider, First, his character. Secondly, his affliction, with its cause and consequences. Thirdly, his cry. Fourthly, his deliverance.

I. The fool, his CHARACTER. We are forbidden to call one another "fools," but there is no Scripture against calling ourselves "fools." If I am not mistaken, there are those here (at least I know one) who have called themselves fools, and the worst of fools, a thousand times over, and sometimes many times a day. If, then, we have called ourselves "fools," you will not be offended if the blessed Spirit call you the same. It is only bearing his witness to what you have often borne against yourself.

"Fools," says our text, "because of their transgressions, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted."

What is a "fool?" naturally, I mean. He is one who has not the least regard for his own interest, whom everybody can dupe and deceive; who will barter gold and silver for sticks and stones; whom his best friends cannot manage, and whom his enemies can securely deride and ridicule. Such is a fool. And as there are fools naturally, so