Preached at Zoar Chapel, Great Alie Street, London, on Lord’s Day Evening, July 6th, 1845
The Scriptures, describing the path of the Christian, represent it under various figures, but all implying opposition to the path he takes. For instance, it is sometimes spoken of as a conflict: “Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me” (Phil 1:30). Sometimes as a race: “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb 12:1). Sometimes as a fight: “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life” (1 Tim 6:12). Sometimes as a struggle: “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin” (Heb 12:4). Sometimes as a contest: “If a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully” (2 Tim 2:5).
All these figures bear upon this one point, that the path of a Christian is one of internal and external opposition. But there is more to be observed than this. It is not a fight without a victory; it is not a conflict without success; it is not a race without reaching the goal; it is not a struggle that ends in the defeat of the contender. A victory is represented as the termination of the battle. “Nay, in all these things,” saith the Apostle, “we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Rom 8:37). The Lord, in the Book of Revelation (2 and 3), in each of the addresses to the seven churches, assigns a distinct promise “to him that overcometh.” A gracious promise is also contained in the text: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son.”
In looking at these words, my endeavour will be, first, to describe what it is to overcome; and then, if the Lord enable, to unfold the twofold promise which is given to him that overcometh: 1. “He shall inherit all things;” and 2. God will be his Father, and he shall by My son.”
I. In endeavouring to unfold what it is to overcome, we must premise a few observations. Observe, then, that this overcoming is not by our own strength, by our own wisdom, or by our own righteousness. The kingdom of God is not promised to anything done by the creature. The Apostle lays down a certain rule in the text before quoted: “If a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully” (2 Tim 2:5). In other words, it is not a bare striving, but a striving according to certain rules. But these rules are spiritual rules, and being spiritual rules, exclude everything of sense, reason and nature. Now man, in an unregenerate condition, whether he be in a state of profanity, or in a state of profession, has no spiritual knowledge of the way by which to overcome. He may strive against his lusts, he may endeavour to overcome those things that conscience bears testimony against, but he is not crowned, because he strives not lawfully. He strives in his own strength, contends in his own wisdom, and trusts in his own righteousness. Such strugglers and such overcomers (if overcomers they ever are) are not crowned, because they strive not according to the rules laid down in God’s Word. This at once excludes all creature righteousness, human wisdom and natural strength. This takes the crown completely off the creature, and puts it on the head of the Redeemer.
There are certain rules, then, laid down in the Scripture, according to which we are to fight and to overcome. For instance, the Lord of life and glory is held out in the Word as our pattern: “He hath left us an example that we should follow His steps” (1 Pet 2:21). He fought the battle before us, and He gained the victory, not for Himself only, but for His people; and He has left us here below to walk in His footsteps, and to overcome in the same way as He did; as we read, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne; even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne” (Rev 3:21). All striving, then, and all overcoming which is not in the steps of Christ, and precisely (in a measure) in the same way in which Jesus strove and overcame, is not the overcoming which is crowned with God’s approbation.
But let us look at a few of the enemies whom the Lord overcame. Remember that His enemies are our enemies; that as He fought we must fight; and that as He overcame we must overcome.
1. First, then, He overcame the world; as He told His sorrowing disciples: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
But how did the Lord overcome the world? Was it by taking up the sword of the conqueror, or by appearing in the majesty of the Father? No; it was by a state of humiliation and abasement; by emptying Himself so as to become “a worm, and no man”; by being made “a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;” by being buffeted, spit upon, despised, and crucified. Thus He overcame the world; not by taking the world’s weapons, but by contending against the world with spiritual weapons—the weapon of obedience to His Father’s will, the weapon of sorrow and suffering, of shame and contempt. He overcame the world by not being of it. He did not gain the victory by desolating the world with judgments as a triumphant conqueror, but by setting up a spiritual kingdom of faith, love and obedience.
2. He overcame Satan; for we read, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb 2:14). And He said to His disciples, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18). How did He overcome Satan? Did He meet him upon the battlefield, and (as He might have done, being “God over all, blessed for evermore”) crush him with one look? He met him not so, but He passed through the territories of death; and by suffering, by obedience, by the cross, by bowing His head and giving up the ghost, He “destroyed him that had the power of death.” He conquered not with a carnal, but a spiritual weapon, even obedience in suffering unto death.
3. He also overcame the law, though He was “made under the law,” and subject to it. In overcoming the law, He took away its curse and condemnation; not by putting it aside, but by obeying and fulfilling it, by magnifying and making it honourable. Thus He overcame the curse and the condemnation by being Himself made a curse, and being Himself made a condemnation; enduring in His holy soul and holy body the vengeance of the Almighty due to the transgressors.
I put this example of Christ before you to shew that if we are overcomers, and in overcoming inherit the blessing, we are to walk in these footsteps. Poor vain creatures, blind wretches! we are thinking of overcoming in our own strength, in our own wisdom, in our own resolutions, and in our own righteousness. This is not the way. “The battle is not yours, but the Lord’s.” We are to do as it was said to those of old: “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle; set yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord” (2 Chron 20:17).
Observe, then, the promise is “to him that overcometh.” We have enemies to overcome. Who, and what are they? We can scarcely enumerate them all; we will therefore content ourselves with naming a few.
1. There is the world, that great enemy of our soul’s peace. How are we to overcome it? The Christian must either overcome the world, or be overcome by it. If he be overcome by the world, he will be condemned with it; but he that overcomes it will be saved by Him that has overcome it for him. In this battle we are losers before we are gainers; we are vanquished before we are victors; we lose our life before we find it; we flee before we shout the song of victory. All this is to teach us our weakness. Could we overcome the world, its temptations, its allurements, its riches, its honours, its praise, and its glory; could we overcome it standing upon the basis of our own strength, our own wisdom, or our own righteousness; we should “sacrifice to our own net, and burn incense to our own drag.” And instead hereafter of singing “the song of Moses and of the Lamb,” we should sing the song of our own attainments, our own strength, our own wisdom, our own righteousness, of our own good hand and our own good sword which had carved for us the victory. But such a sound of creature exaltation will never be heard in the courts above; no notes are chanted there but those of praise to the Triune God. As the clink of the hammer was not heard in Solomon’s temple, so the noise of creature praise will never be heard in the courts of heaven. Therefore, if we overcome the world, we must overcome it by faith; as we read, “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5). Defeats lead to victories, losses to gains, surprisals to watchfulness, and ourselves being overcome leads eventually to ourselves overcoming. How? Why? That we may learn the grand secret of spiritual warfare; the strength of Jesus made perfect in our weakness. When we experience a little measure of the love of God, taste a little of the beauty and glory of the Lamb, feel the heart melted and watered by the blessings dropping down from above, this purges out the love of the world, and enables us to overcome it by the Spirit of God working in the soul, when we could never overcome it by any resolution, any strength, or any wisdom of our own. What read we? “They overcame.” How? “By the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Rev 12:11). These were their weapons—the blood of the Lamb sprinkled upon the conscience, the word of His testimony felt in their heart, and a loving not their lives unto the death.
2. Again. There is sin; and every person must be either overcome by sin, or he must overcome it. There is no neutrality in this warfare. It is either being conquered, and being condemned as conquered; or conquering, and being crowned as victors. But all God’s children, until they are taught better, fight against sin in their own strength. They know not, at first, the power of sin in them, the power of lust, the power of pride, the power of rebellion, and the power of temper; in one word, the power of corruption. And being ignorant of the consummate craft, skill, and maneuvering policy of this inward enemy, sin, they are sure to be defeated, because they fight not in the Lord’s strength against it. Yet, strange though it may appear, it is necessary to be overcome that we may overcome. Generals have gained battles often by defeats. Defeats have led to victories, where success would only have flushed and led them into the ambuscade; when reverses have made them wary and skilful. So spiritually, we only know the power of sin by being vanquished, overcome, got the better of, and laid low. This cuts down creature righteousness and strength. And then, when we feel the guilt of sin in the conscience, and its dominion in endeavouring to obtain the mastery over us, we are brought out of self to look unto the Lord of life and glory, that we may receive out of His fulness that pardon which blots out its condemnation, and those supplies of grace which alone can enable us to fight against it. We can never overcome sin but by “the blood of the Lamb,” and “the word of His testimony”—”the blood of the Lamb” purging the conscience from the guilt of it, and “the word of his testimony” communicating a secret power to conquer it.
3. But again. There is overcoming one’s own spirit. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city” (Prov. 16:32). What a foe to one’s peace is one’s own spirit! And what shall I call it? It is often an infernal spirit. Why? Because it bears the mark of Satan upon it. The pride of our spirit, the presumption of our spirit, the hypocrisy of our spirit, the intense selfishness of our spirit, are often hidden from us. This wily devil, self, can wear such masks and assume such forms; this serpent, self, can so creep and crawl, can so twist and turn, and can disguise itself under such false appearances, that it is hidden often from ourselves. Who is the greatest enemy we have to fear? We all have our enemies. But who is our greatest enemy? He that you carry in your own bosom; your daily, hourly, and momently companion, that entwines himself in nearly every thought of your heart; that suggests well nigh every motive; that sometimes puffs up with pride, sometimes inflames with lust, sometimes inflates with presumption, and sometimes works under feigned humility and fleshly holiness.
Now this self must be overcome; for if self overcome us eventually, we shall perish in the condemnation of self. God is determined to stain the pride of human glory. He will never let self (which is but another word for the creature) wear the crown of victory. It must be crucified, denied, and mortified; it must be put off, that so Jesus may be put on; that in the denying of self Jesus may be believed in; and that in the crucifixion of self there may be a solemn spiritual union with Him that was crucified on Calvary. Now, are we overcoming self? Are we buffeted? What says self? “Buffet again.” Are we despised? What says self? “Despise again; retort angry look for angry look, and hasty word for hasty word; ‘an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'” But what says the Spirit of God in a tender conscience? “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21).
The way to overcome self is by looking out of self to Him who was crucified upon Calvary’s tree; to receive His image into your heart; to be clothed with His likeness; to drink into His spirit; and “receive out of His fulness grace for grace.”
But what are the weapons in this spiritual warfare? We need weapons offensive and defensive to fight in these battles.
1. One weapon is faith. By faith we stand, by faith we fight, by faith we conquer; as we read, “Through faith they subdued kingdoms.” Not by their own strength or wisdom: “For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but Thy right hand and Thine arm, and the light of Thy countenance, because Thou hadst a favour unto them” (Ps 44:3). How does faith fight in this battle? By fleeing, all helpless and defenceless, to seek shelter and refuge in Jesus. Faith deals with invisible, eternal realities, with inward strength communicated in a secret way from Jesus who dwells and reigns within the veil. Faith prevails by looking and fleeing to Him, by committing the cause into His hands, by pleading with and cleaving to Him with full purpose of heart, and thus receiving out of His fulness. Faith does not stand upon its own foundation, or fight in its own strength; if it were so, it would still be self in another form. But faith, like a poor defenceless woman, flies to the Husband for shelter, strength and defence; and thus fights in His wisdom, His strength, and His righteousness.
2. But prayer is another weapon. True prayer is the pouring out of the heart and soul before the Lord; committing all one’s cause into His hands who judgeth righteously; panting and groaning after His presence, and venting forth the troubled spirit into the bosom of God. The Lord brings all His people here. He shews them how helpless they are without His help; how hopeless without His hope; how wretched without His consolation; how eternally lost without His sovereign favour! And He kindles and raises up these panting desires after Himself, that He may communicate Himself in all His glorious fulness to the groaning, crying and panting soul.
3. But another weapon is the Word of God. This is the only true blade—”the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” If we have battles to fight; if we have enemies to overcome; if we have corruptions to subdue; if we have lusts to conquer; whatever conflict, external or internal, we are engaged in, let us never think for a single moment that God will own or bless any weapon but His own Word, “the Word of His testimony,” in the heart and conscience; the Word of truth dropped by the Spirit into the soul. We can never overcome temptation but by the Word and the testimony; we can never mortify self but by the Word and the testimony; and we can never receive anything out of Christ’s fulness but through the channel of God’s testimony.
II. Now the promise is absolute: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things.” Let me ask you two questions to bring matters to a nearer compass. Have you ever had any enemies to encounter? Does your soul know the difficulties, the exercises, and the perplexities of a conflict? “It does,” answer you. “I do know,” says the living soul, “what it is to have, more or less, a daily, and sometimes an hourly, conflict with sin, corruption, temptation, and the world.” Good. Let me ask you another question: “Do you ever overcome in this battle? You say that you are fighting. Is it all defeat? Is there never any victory? Is there never any success? Is corruption never mortified? Does temper always overcome you, or lust cast you down? Pride, peevishness, impatience, unbelief, hypocrisy, do these always bear the sway in your heart? Surely you are deceived if you think you have a conflict, and find yourself always overcome.” Is there a promise merely to the fighter? It is true we must fight, but does the promise belong merely to the battle? Does not the promise belong to “him that overcometh”? Read the Lord’s own testimony in the second and third chapters of the Revelation. Is the promise made to the fighter, or is the promise made to the conqueror? “But,” say you, and that justly, “I am often overcome.” But do your defeats lead to victories? What is the effect when sin overcomes you? When temper, when pride, when lust, when hypocrisy, when corruption, in its various shapes and forms, overcome you, are you cut? are you grieved? are you distressed? are you troubled? Do the eyes overflow with tears of sorrow? Does the bosom heave with convulsive sobs of penitence and remorse? “Yes,” say you, “it does.” Then you are not overcome. That is the secret of victory. These things shew that there is an internal principle in your bosom that flies out of self, to lay hold of the strength of Jesus. I will tell you when a man is overcome— when he sins and feels no sorrow; when his lusts captivate him, and he is never filled with shame before God; when his pride, his ill-temper, his unbelief, his covetousness, exercise unchecked sway over him. ‘There is no conflict then; no tear from his eye, no sob from his heart, no groan from his conscience. But to be sorrowing and mourning, sighing, groaning and panting after the Lord; these are so many victories. They may come to us as defeats, but actually they are so many victories, because they lead us on to conquest. They purge us of self, they overcome our self-righteousness, they empty us of that leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy, and they prepare the heart, by meekening the spirit and softening the soul, to receive a glorious and precious Jesus in all His fulness.
Now, the promise runs to such: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son.” Let us look at these two promises.
1. “He shall inherit all things.” When? In eternity? Yes. But only in eternity? Oh no! In time also. There is a twofold inheritance, though one and the same—one in time, another in eternity; one the first-fruits, the other the harvest; one the earnest, the other the full sum. There is an inheriting here below, and an inheriting above; and he that never receives any portion of his inheritance below will never receive an inheritance above. Now, just in proportion as we overcome are we put in possession of this inheritance. What are we to inherit? Riches, glory, honour, power, praise? These are worldly things; let the world enjoy them. In inheriting “all things,” we are to inherit the things of God—the favour of God, the love of God, the mercy of God, the glory of God; all that a covenant God gives in giving Himself; peace here, glory hereafter; pardon below, salvation above; the beginning of rest on earth, the fulness of rest in heaven.
Now, whilst we are overcome, there is no being put into possession of this eternal inheritance. Does sin overcome us? Do we inherit pardon in being overcome? No; we inherit shame and confusion, guilt, fear, and wrath. When we consul our own temper, our own spirit, our own pride, our own worldliness, our own profit, do we inherit the image of Christ, the meekness of Jesus, the favour of God, the dew of the Spirit, the compassion of Jehovah? No; we feed upon ashes; the clusters are the clusters of Sodom, and grapes of gall. Let us have our pride gratified; does it put us into possession of a heavenly inheritance? Sorrow, shame, confusion follow. Are we overcome by our lusts? Do we gratify them? Do we fill our carnal heart with the enjoyment of them? What do we inherit? Love, pardon, peace, salvation, bliss? No; distress, shame, remorse, confusion, trouble, fear, doubt, despondency, the wrath of God in the conscience. Do we seek the exaltation of self in its various forms, that dear self may be honoured, admired, gratified, fed? Do we then inherit all things? the favour of God, the testimony of mercy, the consolations of the Spirit, the dew of heaven? No; we inherit nothing but the inheritance of fools, which is shame and folly. But do we overcome in God’s strength, in God’s name, in God’s righteousness? We begin, the moment that we overcome, to be put into possession of the inheritance. What is the inheritance? Is it not peace and pardon, the image of Christ, the “rivers of pleasure, which are at His right hand for evermore”? Is not this inheritance the goodly land flowing with brooks of honey, milk, and wine? Do we not, just in proportion as we overcome, drink into a portion of the inheritance? Do I overcome the world? Am I separate in spirit from it? Is its love cast out? Are its allurements opened up to me in their true colours? Do I overcome it by believing on the name of the Son of God? Directly I overcome it, I begin to drink into the eternal inheritance, into the kingdom of heaven, which is opposed to and incompatible with the kingdom of earth. I must be brought out of the world in heart, in spirit, in affection, that I may enter into the kingdom of heaven, and partake of the inheritance reserved for the saints. Do I overcome myself? Is self mortified, crucified, subdued, put off? No sooner do I put off self than I put on Christ; I must put off the old man to put on the new. When I put off self, I put on Jesus; and in putting on Jesus, I put on the earnest of an eternal inheritance, which is Jesus in His almighty, glorious fulness. Do I overcome my temper, my pride, my hypocrisy, the inward workings of self in all its hateful forms? Do I return good for evil? Do I turn the left cheek when the right is smitten? Do I humble myself under the mighty hand of God? Do I seek to know His will, and when known to do it? Am I contrite, brokenhearted, tender, softened, looking to the Lord, and to the Lord only? Do I sometimes thus overcome self? The moment that I overcome self, I begin to enter into the inheritance. The inheritance is the image of Jesus, for to that image we are predestinated to be conformed. Then no sooner do I overcome self than I put on the image of Christ; and in putting on the image of Christ I enter into the inheritance. Does sin overcome me, or do I overcome sin? If I overcome sin, it is not in my own strength, or by my own resolutions. I am lost there. But do I ever overcome sin by the fear of God in my soul, as Joseph did? Do I ever overcome sin by looking to the Lord of life and glory to sprinkle His blood upon my conscience? Do I ever overcome sin by the leadings and teachings of the Spirit in my heart? No sooner do I thus overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of His testimony, than I enter into the inheritance. So that there is a connection, a beautiful, an experimental connection, between overcoming here below, and inheriting here below. But in order to enter into this inheritance, we must be perpetually reminded that we have no strength of our own. And thus our slips, our falls, our backslidings, our frailties (though we would not, dare not justify them), are mercifully overruled amongst the “all things” that work together for our good. They teach us our weakness, and by teaching us our weakness, lead us up to Christ’s strength: and by leading us up to Christ’s strength, to “inherit all things”: for in inheriting Him, we inherit all that He is to God’s people.
Those who know nothing of their own heart, of their own infirmities, of their own frailties, of their own inward or outward slips and backslidings, know nothing of the secret of superabounding grace, nothing of the secret of atoning blood, nothing of the secret of the Spirit’s inward testimony. They cannot. Only in proportion as we are emptied of self in all its various forms are we filled out of the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.
Now you, perhaps, (I address myself personally to some poor tempted child of God, that in touching one, I may touch others) are a poor tempted creature, and your daily sorrow, your continual trouble, is that you are so soon overcome; that your temper, your lusts, your pride, your worldliness, your carnal corrupt heart, are perpetually getting the mastery. And from this you sometimes draw bitter conclusions. You say in the depth of your heart, “Can I be a child of God, and be thus? What mark and testimony have I of being in favour with God when I am so easily, so continually overcome?” Now I want you to look to the end. What is the issue of these defeats? Remember, it is a solemn truth, and one that we learn very slowly, that we must be overcome in order to overcome. There is no setting out with a stock of strength, daily adding to it, weekly increasing it, and then gaining the victory by our own resolutions, our own innate strength. Such feigned holiness may come under a gospel garb, may wear a fair appearance; but it only more hides the rottenness of the flesh. Then, remember this, that in order to gain the victory, we must know our weakness; and we can only know our weakness by its being experimentally opened up in our consciences. We cannot learn it from others; we must learn it in our own souls, and that often in a very painful manner. But these painful sensations in a tender conscience lead a man more humbly, more feelingly, more believingly, to the Lord of life and glory, to receive out of His fulness. Thus every defeat only leads to and ensures victory at the last. Says the Apostle, “In all these things we are more than conquerors.” How? Through our resolutions, through our wisdom? No. “Through Him that loved us.” There is no other way, then, to overcome, but by the “strength of Jesus made perfect in our weakness.”
Now, in “inheriting all things,” we inherit the pardon of sin. But what can we know of the pardon of sin, unless we know what sin is by the rankling of it in our conscience? In “inheriting all things,” we inherit the favour and love of God. But do not the favour and love of God flow through the channel of Immanuel’s sufferings and obedience? And were not Immanuel’s sufferings and obedience for transgressors? for “He was numbered with the transgressors” (Is 53:12); and it is a faithful saying, that “He came to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10)—”to save sinners” (1 Tim 1:15). Then, if we are to know the favour and love of God, we must know it as sinners. It is a painful way. We would desire to inherit the favour of God as saints, as holy people, as truly religious characters, as having a form of godliness, as being what is called decidedly pious Christians. But to inherit favour through shame, through sorrow, trouble, perplexity, remorse and penitence, that it is not the path that nature loves to walk in. Yet God’s favour and forgiving mercy, through the blood and obedience of Jesus, can flow, and do flow, only into a guilty sinner’s conscience.
2. But we pass on to consider the next promise connected with overcoming: “I will be his God, and he shall be My son.” What a promise! That the God of heaven and earth will be our God, our Father, our Benefactor, our eternal almighty Friend; and that we in overcoming shall receive the adoption of sons, shall be manifested as the “sons and daughters” of the Almighty, and receive the inheritance reserved for the children of God! The promise runs in connection with “him that overcometh.” If we do not overcome, the promise is not for us. The promise of sonship is connected with overcoming in the same manner as that of “inheritance” is connected with it. Do I want to receive into my heart the Spirit of adoption? Do I want to feel the love of God the Father shed abroad in my soul? Do I want to establish a blessed title to the inheritance that He giveth to His children? How am I to get it? How is it to be obtained? By making myself religious, becoming holy, subduing my lusts in my own strength? This sets me farther from God than I was before. This makes me a god to myself! If I be saved by my own holiness, by my own strength, by my own righteousness, I worship myself, and in worshipping myself I become my own god. This is idolatry, damnable idolatry; so that he who lives and dies in the worship of self will live and die under the wrath of God as an idolater. Then how am I to receive adoption? By overcoming—not in my own strength, but in the strength of the Lord of life and glory. No sooner do I thus overcome than I become manifestly a child of God. How are you to be known as children of God? By base lusts, by pride, by covetousness, hypocrisy, conformity to the world lying in wickedness? Are these the marks, the stamps upon God’s sheep? No; honest conscience bears witness. How are you manifested as God’s children, as lights in a crooked generation? By wearing the image of Christ. What was the image of Christ—blow for blow, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, revenge for revenge, evil for evil? No; that is not the mind of Christ, that is not the image of Christ. What was the mind of Christ? How did He act? “He committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously;” He obeyed the will of the Father in all things; He gave Himself up wholly and solely into the hands of God, that His will might be done in and by Him. If, then, there is this image of Christ in your soul, if you are a child of God, your pride (and you will have pride to your dying day), your hypocrisy (and you will never be free from it), and your worldly-mindedness, will be your heaviest burdens. Corruptions do not prove that you are a child of God. But the faith of God’s implanting, the hope of God’s giving, the love of God’s communicating; the meekness, quietness, humility, brokenness, resignation, tender conscience, godly fear, separation of heart and spirit from the world; communion with the Lord of life and glory, tasting His love and feeling His presence; these are the marks of sonship; and as we overcome, we enter upon it. If I am shut up in self, I inherit self; nothing more. If I inherit the world, I have no more than the world. If I inherit sin, I inherit death, which is the wages of sin. Nothing more. But if I overcome, if weak, helpless and defenceless, I yield myself up to the hands of the Lord, as clay in the hands of the Potter; not seeking my own will, but looking to the Lord to make known His will in my conscience, and to work in me that which is well-pleasing in His sight. If I have this, I have an evidence of sonship; and where that evidence is, there will be a further evidence of it in the Spirit of adoption, enabling the soul to call God “Father.” And he that calls God “Father” here below, will call God “Father” above, where he will enter into the full enjoyment of it, and bathe in the consolations of Father, Son, and Spirit to all eternity.
Now there are two characters, perhaps more, here. There are those who are fighting in their own strength, and perhaps secretly congratulating themselves they are not as other men. No; they are wise, they are strong, they are righteous, they are holy. Now, be assured that this is not the way to overcome. Your victories are only defeats, and you will find one day, to your sorrow, that all your gain in self will end in shame and confusion of face. There are others here, poor, tried, exercised children of God, who are daily and hourly plagued with the body of sin and death; corruption and sin, carnality and guilt perpetually lurking and working in their heart. You are on the high road to victory; you cannot overcome in any other way. Depend upon it, we shall find out, if we are the children of God, sooner or later, that we cannot overcome in our own strength, or our own righteousness. Happy are we, if we have learned this lesson, though by painful experience, through a humbling sense of our own helplessness and nothingness. Every feeling groan and cry, under a sense of our own nothingness and worthlessness, to a living and loving Lord, that He would be our “sun and shield”; every tender feeling of affection, and every submissive yielding up of the soul and spirit into His hands and keeping, is a sure pledge and foretaste of certain victory. We shall never be allowed to conquer in any other way; but if we are the Lord’s, we shall conquer, we shall overcome; for the promise is made to such; but then, we shall never overcome but in His own way.
God, in mercy, beat out of our hands every weapon but His own. God, in mercy, bring us to that spot where He works in the broken heart and tender conscience. We are safe there. We may doubt, we may fear, we may be exercised and distressed in our mind; we may not see the chariot of the Almighty coming to our relief. But we are in a much safer, in a much surer, in a much better spot than when standing upon the pinnacle of victory in our own strength and wisdom. Do look at the words. The Lord lay it upon our hearts: “He that overcometh.” There is no promise to anyone else: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things.” Not one good thing shall fail; heaven here, and heaven hereafter; peace below, and peace above; the image of Christ now in his soul, and the image of Christ hereafter in soul and body. All the love of God, all the bliss of the saints, and all the happiness reserved at the right hand of God, where there are pleasures for evermore; all are summed up in that promise, shall “inherit all things.” Present sonship, and future enjoyment of it, are also contained in the promise. All are limited to, and belong to, that one character; and that one character, sooner or later, comprehends every ransomed soul: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son.”
Joseph Philpot (1802-1869) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. In 1838 he was appointed the Pastor of the Churches at Oakham and Stamford, during which time he became acquainted with the Gospel Standard. In 1849, he was appointed the Editor for the Gospel Standard Magazine, a position he held for twenty-nine years (nine years as joint Editor and twenty years as sole Editor). John Hazelton wrote of him—
“A man of great grace, profound learning, and with a literary style equal to any of his contemporaries. For twenty years he was editor of the "Gospel Standard," in which his New Year's Addresses, Meditations, Reviews, and Answers to Correspondents were outstanding features. His ten volumes of sermons, entitled "The Gospel Pulpit," and his four volumes of "Early Sermons," testify to his powers as an expositor of the Word, to the beauty of his illustrations, and the heart-searching character of his ministry. He was born at Ripple, Kent, where his father was rector, and educated at Merchant Taylor's and St. Paul's schools, entering at Oxford University in 1821, taking a first-class, and ultimately becoming Fellow of his College. He accepted an engagement in Ireland as a private tutor, but prior to his departure he was unexpectedly detained at Oakham. There he bought a book, "Hart's Hymns," and was much struck by the beauty of many of them. In 1827, in Ireland, eternal things were first laid upon his mind, and "I was made to know myself as a poor lost sinner, and a spirit of grace and supplication poured out upon my soul." He returned to Oxford in the autumn, and "the change in my character, life, and conduct was so marked that everyone took notice of it." Early in 1828 he was appointed to the perpetual curacy of Chislehampton, with Stadhampton—or Stadham—not far from Oxford. He soon gained the love and esteem of his parishioners. His Church was thronged, and his labours were unceasing amongst young and old. In 1829 he became acquainted with William Tiptaft (1803-1864), vicar of Sutton Courtney, and a friendship commenced which death alone severed. Both ministers had been led to know the truths of predestination and election and the final perseverance of the saints, and preached them with unflinching boldness. Persecution soon arose; it always does in some quarter when there is a faithful ministry. In 1831 Tiptaft built a chapel at Abingdon, where he remained as a Baptist pastor until his death. In 1835 Mr. Philpot resigned his living and his fellowship; the temporal sacrifice entailed was such that he had to sell almost all his books. Soon after this momentous step had been taken he preached in a chapel at Newbury, which some of his friends had procured for the purpose. He writes: "When I therefore began to open up that God had a chosen and peculiar people the whole place seemed in commotion. One man called aloud, 'This doctrine won't do for me!' and started out, and was instantly followed by five or six others. I was not, however, daunted by this, but went on to state the truth with such measure of boldness and faithfulness as was given me. Some of my friends at the chapel thought that the people would have molested me, but no one offered to injure me by word or action, and I came safe out from among them." He also writes: “——is, I fear, something like the robin spoken of in 'Pilgrim's Progress, who can eat sometimes grains of wheat and sometimes worms and spiders. I am quite sick of modern religion; it is such a mixture, such a medley, such a compromise. I find much, indeed, of this religion in my own heart, for it suits the flesh well; but I would not have it so, and grieve it should be so." He preached much at Allington, near Devizes, and in the Metropolis, and many other places. His ministry was attended by crowds, and was blest to saint and sinner. In 1838 he became Pastor of the Churches at Oakham and Stamford, residing in the latter town till failing health caused his removal to Croydon. At the time of his settlement at Stamford he became associated with the "Gospel Standard," and in 1849 he was appointed editor. He was a most interesting writer on the things of God. His sermons are experimental rather than doctrinal, but when he treated of doctrine it was in a comprehensive and scriptural way, as his "Meditations" amply prove. His book on "The Eternal Sonship" practically closed the controversy which gave it birth. His "Reviews" are most instructive and brilliantly written. Would that the younger members of our Churches made a study of them! "The Advance of Popery" was another work which had a wide circulation, and events today prove the accuracy of the forecasts so solemnly made therein. His "Letters" have been a means of grace to many, and it is refreshing through them to know the spiritual history of some of the excellent of the earth in their day and generation, and to have glimpses of services at Eden Street, Gower Street, and Great Alie Street Chapels, and at Came and other places, especially in Wiltshire.”