The Heart's Desire of Every Living Soul
A Sermon PREACHED ON LORD'S DAY EVENING, JUNE 28, 1840, BY J. C. PHILPOT, AT ZOAR CHAPEL, GREAT ALIE STREET
There is a blessed unity of Spirit, that runs through the whole of God s Word, as well as through the experience of God s people. And it is a sweet encouragement and a blessed consolation to the family of God, to find their feelings, thoughts, desires, groans, sighs, and tears, all faithfully recorded in the Word of God. In fact, there is no state of soul into which we may be brought, no trial which we may have to pass through, no temptation which we may have to encounter, no difficulty we may have to grapple with, that is not provided for in the Word of God; and there is no breathing of the soul, no desire of the heart, no sighing of a contrite spirit, which we do not find equally traced out in the Word of Jehovah, as experienced by his saints of old. And this makes the Scriptures such a wonderful book; that when the blessed Spirit is pleased to open up the spiritual and experimental parts of God s Word, he shows us how suitable and how applicable they are to our souls, and thus he makes the Word of God to be food indeed to our hearts.
"Remember me, 0 Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people; oh! visit me with thy salvation; that I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine Inheritance."
All God s people, sooner or later, are brought to this point -to see that God has a "people," a "peculiar people," a people separate from the world, a people whom he has "formed for himself, that they should show forth his praise." Election, sooner or later, is riveted in the hearts of God s people. And a man that lives and dies at enmity against this blessed doctrine, lives and dies in his sins; and if he dies in that enmity, he will be damned in that enmity. Every child of God is brought, sooner or later, to see that God has a people; and the longing desire of every living soul is to be manifested as one of that people. There are no cavillings against election, after God has broken a man down to nothing. There may be many cavillings against it, until we are stripped of all; but when a man is stripped of all, made a beggar, a bankrupt, a pauper, a poor needy insolvent, with a huge debt, and nothing wherewith to pay, then election is made manifest in that man s conscience; because he feels that unless God has chosen him from eternity, he will never see his face in glory.
"Remember me, 0 Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people." There is a "favour," then, that God "bears to his people." And what sort of "favour" is this? It is eternal favour. He never had anything else but favour to them: he loved them from eternity; his heart, his affections were eternally fixed upon them. And this is that favour, which every living soul wants to have manifested; he wants to have the eternal favour of God made manifest to his conscience. Again; this favour of God is discriminating favour. It is fixed upon some and not upon others. And this discriminating favour every quickened soul longs to experience. He does not want to have merely the general providential mercies of God, but he wants to have special tokens of his discriminating favours to his soul. He knows there are but few on whom this favour is conferred; he knows that God has discriminated certain persons, and fixed his favour upon them; and what he wants to experience is this discriminating favour made manifest in his heart and conscience. Again; this "favour" he wants to have shed abroad in his heart, and thus personally and experimentally made known. It does not satisfy him to read in the Word of God that he has a people, that he bears a favour to that people, that he loves that people; these doctrines, however glorious, will never satisfy a living soul, as long as they are in the mere letter of the Word; he wants to have them applied to his heart, to have them sweetly revealed within, and thus he prays with the psalmist, "Remember me with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people."
And what makes him earnestly long that God should "remember him with this favour?" Because he is a wretch without it; because he is a beggar without it; because he is damned without it. Every living soul is brought to this -that unless "favour" is revealed in his heart by the Holy Ghost, he shall die and be damned; he must go to that place where hope never enters; and therefore the longing cry of every quickened soul is to experience this personal, special, eternal, discriminating favour shed abroad in his heart -sweetly applied and revealed to his soul. The man that is brought here has "seen an end of all perfection;" he has found God s law to be "exceeding broad;" he has been brought in guilty; he has put his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope; he has been stripped of every rag of righteousness, he has had all his strength, wisdom, and power, entirely taken from him; he has stood shivering before God, a naked wretch without a single covering to shield him from the piercing eye of him, whose eyes are as a flame of fire; he has found the inability and the helplessness of the creature to do him any good; he has tasted and felt to his conscience, that no arm of flesh still less his own can deliver him from his feelings, or can do him that good which his soul is earnestly panting after.
He wants to be "remembered." He wants to taste the eternal favour of God that God should "remember him," that he should not pass him by, that be should not overlook him; that he should remember him in the time of necessity, in the time of suffering, in the time of trial, in the time of difficulty, in the time of temptation. He desires then to be "remembered with the favour that God bears to his people."
Now, God listens to this cry. Wherever he has implanted this desire, be bows down his ear and grants it. Sooner or later "favour" comes; sooner or later "favour" is revealed; and it melts the heart into humility, gratitude, love, and praise. This favour may be only a drop; but a drop is sufficient to make itself felt. It may be only a crumb; but a crumb is enough to satisfy the soul whilst the crumb lasts. And wherever this "favour" has been shed abroad in the heart, it draws the soul upwards to God; it makes a man a new creature; it solemnizes, spiritualizes, and ravishes his heart, and makes him to know that God is gracious.
"Oh; visit me with thy salvation." You see how fond the Psalmist is of the word "thy," "remember me with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people; Oh! visit me with thy salvation." He wants the word "thy;" that is, something connected with God -something that comes immediately from God. This is that which every living soul is panting after; he wants something from God in a direct way -something let into the soul from above -something manifested and shed abroad in the heart from God himself. And what he especially wants is God s salvation; "Oh! visit me with thy salvation."
What is "God s salvation?" It is a salvation from death and hell; a salvation from doubts and fears; a salvation from guilt and condemnation; a salvation from wrath without, and wrath within. It is a salvation long as eternity; a salvation that is what it professes to be -"salvation" -saving the soul from all that it dreads, and all that it fears.
But how is a man brought and taught to want to be "visited with" this salvation? Ps 106:4 He must know something first of condemnation. Salvation only suits the condemned. "The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost;" and therefore salvation only suits the lost. A man must be lost -utterly lost -before he can prize God s salvation. And how is he lost? By losing all his religion, losing all his righteousness, losing all his strength, losing all his confidence, losing all his hopes, losing all that is of the flesh; losing it by its being taken from him, and stripped away by the hand of God. A man who is brought into this state of utter beggary and complete bankruptcy -to be nothing, to have nothing, to know nothing -he is the man, who in the midnight watches, in his lonely hours, by his fireside, and at times, well nigh night and day, is crying, groaning, begging, suing, seeking, and praying after the manifestation of God s salvation to his soul. "Oh! visit me with thy salvation." He wants a visit from God; he wants that God would visit him -come and dwell with him, take up his abode in his heart, discover himself to him, manifest and reveal himself, sit down with him, eat with him, walk in him, and dwell in him as his God. And a living soul can be satisfied with nothing short of this. He must have a visit. It profits him little to read in the Word of God what God did to his saints of old; the mere letter of the Scripture profits him little; he wants something for himself, he wants something that shall do his soul good; he wants something that shall cheer him, refresh him, comfort him, bless him, profit him, remove his burdens, and settle his soul into peace. And therefore he wants a visitation -that the presence and the power, the mercy, and the love of God, should visit his soul.
Now this God at times sweetly gives. If he never meant to give it he would never raise up desires after it; he would never give us liberty to poor out our hearts before him, that we might receive it from him. And, therefore, at times be visits our poor hearts with some sense of this great salvation. And when he visits the soul with his salvation, it is enough. The soul wants no more than salvation. For where salvation comes, the "things that accompany salvation" come in with it! And what are these things? A tender conscience, a broken heart, a contrite spirit, a filial fear of God, a desire to be right, a fear to be wrong, consistency of life, uprightness of conversation, cleaving to that which is good, a fleeing from that which is evil. God has no Antinomians in his family -that is, in the bad sense of the word; he has no loose, licentious, reckless characters, who "continue in sin that grace may abound." A living soul may fall, and fall foully; but he cannot live in sin. Sin is a hell to him -a hell in his conscience; and "who can dwell with everlasting burnings?" Who will not "flee from the wrath to come!" And therefore if there be any professor of religion or professor of high doctrines, who lives in sin, that man is no child of God; be is a child of the devil, a double-dyed, treble-distilled hypocrite. He has not the fear of Jehovah to his heart; for he puts his fear in their hearts, that they may depart from evil. And therefore continued inconsistency, a life of reckless inconsistency, a walk of careless hardened inconsistency, is not compatible with the grace of God to the heart; for he writes his laws in the hearts of his people, and puts his precepts and truths into their minds, that they may obey them and follow them, and be ruled and governed by them. So that let a man talk as he pleases about the Christ of God, he knows nothing about the Christ of God, if he knows not that which accompanies the Christ of God. If presumption is stamped upon him, he knows not the Christ of God; for the Christ of God and hardened presumption in its reigning power can never co-exist in the same heart. If he lives in known sin, without guilt or shame, he knows not the Christ of God; for the Christ of God "was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil." If he lives in continual hardness of heart, searedness of conscience, perpetual barrenness of frame, without any softening, humbling, melting, or tenderness, he is devoid of the Spirit of God. Not but that we have long seasons of barrenness; not but that we have all occasion, who know anything aright, to mourn over our deadness, and coldness, and slothfullness; but, thanks be to God! it is not always so with us; there are refreshing times, reviving times, strengthening times, praying times, and prayer-answering times, and these bring the soul out of that barrenness, and coldness, and deadness, to which some of us walk so much. But for a man to be barren year after year -he is like the parched heath in the wilderness, rather than "the field that the Lord hath blessed." No; the Spirit of God will do his work in the hearts of God s people. He will, more or less, make them fruitful; he will more or less shed abroad his blessed influences within, and that will make them new creatures.
Now, after we have had a taste of salvation we lose it; the sweetness,
the dew, the unction, the power thereof evapourate, and leave our hearts
dead and dry. But we cannot rest here. We cannot go back to this past experience,
and say -"I enjoyed this so many years ago, I have never enjoyed it
since, but I have no doubt of my state, nevertheless." This is not
the feeling of a living soul. It is true he cannot get it; it is true, he
has no more power to produce it, not one drop of it, than he has power to
create a world; but the same Spirit which brought it in, brings the sigh
after it from his soul; the same Spirit which first communicated it to him,
raises up pantings after it, and makes him restless, discontented, dissatisfied,
and miserable without it. Look now at your daily warfare; look at what passes
from time to time in your soul. Can you do comfortably without God, from
one year to another? Then you are dead in sin. Can you do comfortably without
some access to private prayer, for months together? Then you are dead in
a profession. Can you talk glibly about religion, and for weeks and months,
and perhaps years, never have a sigh, nor a cry nor a groan, nor a tear?
Then you are "twice dead, plucked up by the roots. God s people are
an afflicted people; for he hath "chosen them in the furnace of affliction."
God s people are a tried people, for he "trieth the righteous,"
and "they are all righteous." God s people are a praying people,
for he pours out upon them the spirit of grace and of supplications."
God s people are a hungering and thirsting people, for "blessed are
they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness." God
Now, hast thou ever in thy life put up this prayer? I do not say, the words; look at thy heart. Hast thou ever, in the depths of sorrow and trouble, when "deep called unto deep at the noise of God s water-spouts" -to the secret watches of the night, when there was no eye to see and no ear to hear but God s -didst thou ever pour out this prayer? not the words, perhaps, but that which the words convey -"Oh! visit me with thy salvation." And have you wrestled with God, well nigh for the hour together, that he would thus visit your souls? If you have not, you never had it. "For all these things will I be inquired of by the house of Israel;" "seek and ye shall find;" and therefore there is a seeking, before there is a finding. Many persons are glad to talk about salvation, who are very unwilling to walk in the way to obtain it; they are very glad to hear about Jesus and the salvation of Jesus, but they do not like to hear of the internal work, whereby God strips and empties a man, and prepares him for the manifestation of his salvation. But this is that, which a living soul wants to hear. He wants to have the work traced out; he wants to have his experience brought to light; he wants to find whether the finger of God has touched his conscience; he wants to have the steps of the Holy One traced out in his soul; and he says -Has God done this? am I a quickened character? Is the work genuine? Did I begin with God, or did God begin with me? How was it? And what has been done since? And how glad he is, and what joy comes into his heart, if the spirit of God bears witness that the work is sound, genuine, and real! It makes his very heart dance for joy within him, when he has the witness of the Spirit with his spirit that he is a child of God, and shall have a mansion beyond the skies, when he shall be free from the body of sin and death, and see him whom he loves face to face.
"That I may see the good of thy chosen; that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation; that I may glory with thine inheritance."
"That I may see the good of thy chosen." There is a certain "good,"
then, that belongs to God s chosen family. And what is that "good,"
but every blessing which the Author of good bestows upon them? "There
is none good save one, that is God;" and his gifts are "good gifts"
and "perfect gifts," and "come down from the Father of lights,
with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." God confers "good"
upon his chosen. Let us see what some of these good things are. It is a "good"
thing, then, to have a tender conscience; that is, a good gift of God -a
conscience made tender, a conscience made to feel sin, little sins as they
are commonly called, heart sins, sins of thought, sins of speculation, sins
of imagination, sins continually working up from the bottom of a sinful
heart. To have a conscience to feel it, and grieve on account of it, and
mourn and sigh and cry on account of the daily workings of an evil heart
-that is a good thing; it is a "good gift;" and none but God can
give this tender heart. And, again, to have a conscience purged and sprinkled
with the blood of the Lamb, to have guilt removed from it, filth cleansed
away, condemnation taken off, and simplicity, and humility, and godly sincerity,
implanted, so as to have a single eye to God s glory -this is a "good"
thing. Again, to have earnest breathings and longings after God
Now, God s people want to "see" this good. "That I may see the good of thy chosen." They want to see it with their own eyes, feel it with their own hands, hear it with their own ears, enjoy it with their own hearts. "That I may see the good of thy chosen;" so as to be ravished with it, delighted with it, comforted with it, blessed by it; so as to see my unworthy name in the book of life; so as to feel streams of goodness encircling, watering, delighting, and refreshing my soul; so as to taste it, and feed upon it, and enjoy it, and find it to be like honey and the honey-comb; so as to derive a solid satisfaction from it, and to taste in it a "peace which passeth all understanding." This is the "good" of God s chosen; to be "satisfied with favour, and full of the goodness of the Lord." "Oh! taste and see that he is good;" to know that he is good, gracious, and kind; to know that he is on our side; that he will not suffer any to set upon us to harm us, and that "no weapon formed against us shall prosper;" to know that all his perfections are arrayed on our behalf -his strength, his wisdom, his power, his faithfullness, his love; to feel that "all things" are for us, and that therefore nothing can be against us. This is to "see the good of God s chosen." To see it, the vail being taken from our eyes; to see it, our eyes being "anointed with eye-salve," so as to look into it, and see the depths of it, and view the beauty of it; that our eyes may pierce into the secret recesses of this goodness, and drink into it, and be sweetly enlarged, blessed, and filled with it.
This is to "see the good of God s chosen;" not as Balaam, who "saw him, not nigh," but "afar off," and merely saw him with the eye of prophecy, the eye of judgment, the eye of speculation, the eye of fancy, but to see him with the appropriating eye of faith and affection, when it sees the object, realises the object, and embraces the object. When you see a person that you love, you gaze upon his features, and as you gaze affection kindles; your eye drinks into that which kindles the affections of your soul; some aged parent it may be, whose venerable features you love to look upon, some dear wife whose countenance beams affection, some child, weak and tender perhaps, and yet whose lineaments are engraved upon your heart, and as you see this beloved object, your eye is scarcely satisfied with looking, but through seeing it, all the affections of your heart are drawn forth and enkindled. This is a different thing from seeing a stranger, from looking at a picture of some unknown person, from seeing a statue. Such is the difference between seeing things in the letter of God s word, with the eye of judgment and the eye of speculation, and seeing them with the eye of faith -that eye which has been "anointed with eye-salve," that eye from which the vail has been taken away. And therefore Jesus said to his people -"The world seeth me no more, but ye see me; because I live, ye shall live also." "He that doeth evil hath not seen God." There is a seeing of him, that is invisible; as one of old, "by faith endured, seeing him who is invisible." To "see the good of God s chosen," then, is not that of which the Lord spake, saying, "Ye shall see the prophets in the kingdom of heaven, and you yourselves thrust out;" it is not like seeing people sitting at a banquet, and you standing on the other side of the lattice, as the nuns in a convent see their relations, and cannot come near to them, but are separated and cut off from them. No; this is not the way a living soul wants to "see the good of God s chosen;" but he wants to see it in himself, feel it in himself, know it in himself, and enjoy it in himself. Nothing but thus seeing it can ever satisfy him. And if he sees it thus here, he will see it and drink it in with his eyes hereafter. "That I may see the good of thy chosen."
Now, did you ever see any good to God s chosen? Oh! "how goodly are thy tents, 0 Jacob, and thy tabernacles, 0 Israel!" Did you ever see what good God has blessed his people with, and how good it is to be one of them? All God s people see that there is a "good" in God s chosen family, peculiar to them, and that they sigh and long for.
But some will say, Had David never seen it when he penned this Psalm? Aye, surely, he had seen it. But did he not want to see it again? Yes; he had lost the sight of it, the sweet vision of it had retired, the old vail had come back, his eyes were dim, he wanted fresh "eye-salve." So with us; we have seen, we trust, at times, "the good of God s chosen," have felt our affections drawn towards them, and drawn up towards God, and have said, "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee." That was to enjoy the sweet foretastes of heaven. But all these sweet foretastes became clouded; fogs and mists rested upon them, and hid them from our eye. Fresh sin brought fresh guilt, and darkness, and deadness, and doubts, and temptations, and fears, and besetments, came on, of various kinds; and all these beclouded our sight. But we cannot forget the past; we cannot forget the solemn moments when we walked with God and talked with God, nor the sweet feelings that his presence enkindled. However dark, however dead, however disconsolate, however tried, harassed, and tempted, we cannot forget that. And having "seen the good of God s chosen," we want to see again the good sight, to taste again that heavenly banquet. "That I may see the good of thy chosen."
"That I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation." "Now what is the gladness of God s nation?" To be saved "without money and without price;" to be saved by grace -free, rich, sovereign, distinguishing grace, without one atom of work, without one grain of creature merit, without anything of the flesh. This is "the gladness of God s nation;" to rejoice in free grace, grace superabounding over the aboundings of sin, grace reigning triumphant over the dreadful evils of our heart. It is grace that "gladdens" a man s heart. Oh! sweet grace, blessed grace! when it meets our case and reaches our souls. Oh! what a help, what a strength, what a rest for a poor toiling, striving, labouring soul, to find that grace has done all the work, to feel that grace has triumphed in the Cross of Christ, to find that nothing is required, nothing is wanted, nothing is to be done. It is a full and perfect, complete and finished work. Oh! sweet sound to a poor, striving, toiling, labouring, working, guilty, and condemned soul. Oh! sweet relief to a heavily burdened conscience, that groans under sin night and day. Oh! sweet tidings to one toiling and tugging at the oar of the law, striving to bring the boat safe to the shore, and driven back with every wave and wind. Oh! sweet sound for a backslider, who has "started aside" from God, "like a broken bow," and brought guilt and wrath into his soul. Oh! sweet sound for every despairing son and daughter of the King of Kings. Oh! sweet sound for every weary pilgrim, for every worn-out soldier, for every tempest-tossed mariner, drifting upon the seas without home and without harbour. Sweet sound! to rest in Christ, and in Christ alone, and find salvation in him, "without money and without price;" nothing to pay, he having paid all; nothing to do, he having done all; nothing to work, he having finished the work, and brought in everlasting righteousness, to clothe and shield the naked guilty soul. Oh! sweet sound, when it reaches the heart? and touches the conscience, and is shed blessedly abroad in the soul.
This is "the gladness of God s nation;" this makes their heart glad, that the work is finished, that the warfare is accomplished, that the Church of God "hath received of the Lord s hand double for all her sins;" this is the comforting sound, wherewith God "comforts his people;" this makes the nation glad, and their heart to leap and dance for joy. Has your heart never leaped at the sound? -only for a moment? Has grace never sounded sweetly in your soul, and made your very heart dance within you? If it has, you know what is "the gladness of God s nation." Oh! they are not glad because they have done their duty, because they have said their prayers, because they have read their Bible, because they have come to chapel regularly, because they are members of a Gospel Church, because they have lived consistently, because they bear an unblemished character; but they are glad because they are saved by grace, grace superabounding over their abounding sins. This makes them glad; and nothing but this can make them glad.
Now, the living soul wants to rejoice in this gladness -"That I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation." How "rejoice?" By being a partaker thereof. But we read that there is such a thing, as seeing all this, and being ourselves shut out. God says, "his servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit." Isa 65:14 Now, what a cutting thought this is to a poor tried and tempted soul -to see grace, and yet feel not to have it, to see it at a distance, and not be able to grasp it, to see it in others, and not see it in himself; to know who are right, who "are the people," who are the ministers, what is the way, and yet, through doubts and fears, difficulties, temptations, and trials, not to see clearly his own interest therein. Aye, there are many of God s poor children, that know what truth is, that love to hear it, that know who are the people, that can see grace in them, and yet see no grace in themselves. But all such want to "rejoice in the gladness of God s nation." "Oh!" they say, "that it might reach me, that it might visit me, that it might come into my heart, that I might bathe in it and drink into it, and enjoy it, and realize it, and know it, in myself and for myself." The Psalmist, you see, had similar feelings. Some of you are cutting yourselves off, and saying -"I cannot see grace in myself; I can see grace in this person, I can see grace in that person, I know who are right, but I cannot trace those feelings in myself that I want to feel." Well, David was here. Why did he say, "That I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation," if he were at that time rejoicing? Why did he pray to rejoice, if he were in the act of enjoyment? It shows clearly, that at that time he was not enjoying it. If he had been enjoying it, he would not be praying to enjoy it; the words show that he was at that time without the enjoyment. He was in darkness, and wanted light; he was in deadness, and wanted life; he was in sorrow, and wanted joy; he was in a poor doubting, desponding way, and wanted to be brought out of it, to "rejoice in the gladness of God s nation."
"That I may glory with thine inheritance." Now, the Church is Christ s inheritance. He purchased it by his own blood. He went into captivity for it, and has redeemed it by pouring out his precious blood for it.
This inheritance glories; "That I may glory with thine inheritance." And in whom does it glory? It glories in its covenant head. It does not glory in itself -in its pious self, righteous self, strong self, religious self; "let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches, but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me." "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." The glory of the Church is to glory in her covenant head -to glory in Christ, and in Christ alone; to glory in his strength, love, blood, grace, and righteousness; and to glory in it, herself being covered with shame. None can glory in Christ, until he is stripped of his own glory. There is no putting the crown of glory on the head of self and on the head of the Mediator. There is no saying, "I have procured this by my own strength," and putting the crown upon that head. There is no saying, "I have obtained this by my own exertions," and putting the crown upon those exertions. No; a man, to glory in Christ, must be covered with shame and confusion. He must be abased in his feelings; he must have his mouth in the dust; be must loathe himself in dust and ashes before God; he must see and feel himself to be the chief of sinners, and "less than the least of all saints;" he must know and feel himself to be a wretch indeed. And then, when he lies in the dust of abasement, if a sight of the dear Redeemer s glory catches his eye and inflames his heart, he glories in him, and in him alone, and all the "inheritance" of God glory in him. He can glory in nothing else, and his highest attainment is to place all the glory of salvation, from first to last, simply upon his head, to whom that glory belongs.
Now, these are the feelings of a living soul. Are they yours? "Oh!" he says, "Lord remember me with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people; oh! visit me with thy salvation; that I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance." Did your heart ever long to be one of them? Have you found that by all your strivings and exertions you could not put yourself into the number? Has all hope been cut off? And then, when all was dark and all was gloomy, and all was full of bitterness, confusion, and sorrow, were you taken up out of the dust and out of the dunghill, and made to sit among princes, and to inherit the throne of glory, and found these things sweetly revealed to your soul? You know something of the matter. "The secret of the Lord is with you, and he has shown you his covenant."
But some, perhaps, cannot get as far as this. They can get to desires, but they cannot get to answers; they can get to seeking, but they cannot get to finding; they can get to knocking, but they cannot get to the opened door; they can get to guilt, but they cannot get to pardon; they can get to bondage, but they cannot get to liberty. Well, but you are in the road. It is a mercy to be in the way. Abraham s servant was in the way, when he was brought into the house of his master s brethren. It is a mercy to be in the way. It is a mercy to have the fear of God in your heart as "the beginning of wisdom." It is a mercy to have a conscience made tender by his blessed Spirit. It is a mercy to be weary of yourself. It is a mercy to be out of conceit and out of love with your own righteousness. It is a mercy to be seeking and suing for the sweet manifestations of the Son of God.
Now, I must make the standard low that is to say, as low as I conscientiously can, to take in all the quickened family. Never mind what your head is stored with; that is of little consequence; look to what is passing in your heart. There is the place to look; see what is going on there. Never mind what you know in your head. Just see what the foundation is. Is the foundation sound? If that is sound, all is sound. Now, what is the foundation? The fear of God. Is that in your soul? That is the foundation; for it is "the beginning of wisdom." And how is the fear of God manifested? It is "a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death." Then if you have the fear of God, you have a fountain of life, and you depart from evil. This fountain of life goes out in prayers, supplications, sighs, groans, pantings, and longings. This fountain bubbles up, so as to bring your soul into the presence of Jehovah. This fountain is continually bringing some living thing up out of your heart -for it is a fountain of life -some living prayer, some living desire, some living groan, some living feeling, something alive and living, something at work and working, in your soul. And it has caused you to depart from evil -to depart from evil doctrines, to depart from evil practices, to depart from evil worldlings, and to depart from evil professors -and it has brought you in simplicity and godly sincerity to seek Christ, and him alone, and to say with the martyr of old, "None but Christ, none but Christ!" And he that thus seeks shall find; for the Lord has said, "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."