05 April 2022 by Published in: Joseph Philpot, Letters No comments yet

April 19th, 1834.

My dear Mr. Parry,—Our mutual friend Tiptaft informed me a few days ago of his visit to Allington and of your wish to hear from me. So dark, ignorant, and benighted is my mind, that if I were to give you a view of what is doing in the chambers of imagery, it would afford you but little pleasure or profit. The first time that I saw you, as we were standing in the churchyard together, I think I observed that I knew more of the dark than of the bright side of religion, and I feel it to be so still. I cannot, like some professors, make to myself wings to soar when I please to the third heaven, nor kindle a fire and compass myself about with sparks, and then walk in the light of it. I am obliged to come to this—”Behold, He shuts up a man, and there can be no opening.” “When He hides His face, who can behold Him?”

Some of our professors here can always lay hold of the promises, and so strong is their faith, that they neither doubt nor fear; but this is a religion which I cannot come up to. And when I see that this faith of theirs is the work of man, and born of the flesh, I tell them that I would sooner have my unbelief than their faith. Not that I think unbelief and darkness good things, but this I learn from them, which few know in our day, that faith is “the gift of God”; and this, too, I know, that the feeling sense of our own helplessness and unbelief is the necessary, yes, the only preparation of the soul for the inward discovery and manifestation of Christ.

We have in our day too many spiritual thieves and liars. They first get their assurance by climbing over the wall, and then “boast themselves of a false gift,” which, as Solomon says, is “like clouds and wind without rain,” that is, has all the appearance of watering our souls, and then goes off without giving them a drop. From such a religion may the Lord keep us. It is better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud. It is better to sigh and mourn over a heart full of unbelief and corruption, than to take to ourselves one promise which the Lord does not apply. Many will tell us to believe, and say, “You are idle, you are idle,” who have never been in the iron furnace, nor sighed out of the low dungeon.

I believe, for myself, that the souls which can really and spiritually rejoice in the Lord are very few, and that their experience is very much chequered with seasons of darkness and distress. And as for that religion which tells us we must rejoice, because believers are told in the Bible to rejoice always, it savors to me too much of man’s power and free-will to be of God. The religion which I want is that of the Holy Spirit. I know nothing but what He teaches me; I feel nothing but what He works in me; I believe nothing but what He shows me; I only mourn when He smites the rock; I only rejoice when He reveals the Savior. I do not say I can rise up to all this, but this is the religion I profess, seek after, and teach; and when the blessed Spirit is not at work in me, and with me, I fall back into all the darkness, unbelief, earthliness, idleness, carelessness, infidelity, and helplessness of my Adam nature.

True religion is a supernatural and mysterious thing. It is as much hidden from us, until God reveals it, as God Himself, who dwells in the light which no man can approach unto. It is the work of the Holy Spirit from first to last; and no text is truer than this—”No man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and He will have compassion on whom He will have compassion; and these favored objects of mercy, and these alone, know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. And that happy soul which is thus experimentally taught of the Holy Spirit, and brought into a heavenly fellowship with the

Father and the Son, will enjoy forever the Triune Jehovah; when professors, high and low, doctrinal, experimental, and practical, Calvinist and Arminian, will be cast into the blackness of darkness forever. A man thus experimentally taught will be humble and abased, will be swift to hear and slow to speak, will have a tender conscience and a godly fear, will seek rather to please God than man, and would sooner speak with God for five minutes than with a frothy professor for an hour. This religion I am seeking after, though miles and miles from it; but no other will satisfy or content me.

I cannot say I am at all nearer leaving my post here than when I last wrote; indeed, while I am heard with acceptance, and have nothing to perform which presses on my conscience, I cannot move until I see my way. I am praying to be delivered from a carnal religious system, but my way out seems at present hedged up. Let me have your prayers that I may see my way clearly, and neither run before I am called out, nor stay after I hear the warning voice. I can’t move just when and as I please, but must wait for “the pillar and the cloud”.

Give my Christian regards to —, and believe me to be, Yours affectionately, in Jesus Christ,

J. C. P.


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