Looking forward 150 years to now
J. C. Philpot's MEDITATIONS ON VARIOUS IMPORTANT POINTS OF OUR MOST HOLY FAITH was written at a pivotal time in 1800s history when the rumblings of modern science and philosophies were beginning to be felt in the church.
We thought our readers would appreciate reading this in the context of the recent series we did on the Doctrines of Dominionism. Below is a fascinating, almost prophetic account of what lay ahead for the church in the days to come.
1. MEDITATIONS ON THE AUTHORITY AND POWER OF THE WORD OF GOD UPON THE HEART
. . . As believers in general, we are bidden “to hold forth the word of life,: (Phil. 1:16), and “to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints;” (Jude 3); and as servants of Christ in particular, we are to reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.” And why? Because “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.” (2 Tim. 4:2). And is not that time arrived? Was there ever a day when “men more turned their ears away from the truth, and were more turned unto fables?” Was there ever a day when the complaint of the prophet was more applicable: “Truth is fallen in the street and equity cannot enter?” (Isaiah 59:14). Yea, so fallen into the street that the professing no less than the profane world would gladly see both it and those who hold it swept away altogether into the common sewer, that both it and they might for ever disappear from the eyes of men, the one as an unclean thing too impure for the claims of modern holiness, and the other as too bigoted for the demands of an enlightened liberality.
But besides this general neglect and contempt of truth, there is another feature still more appalling. It is not merely “a day of trouble”—trouble to the Lord’s people, “and of rebuke”—in the frowns met with by honest truth, but “of blasphemy;” (Isaiah 37:3); for not only is the truth of God almost banished from the pulpit and the press, but its very foundations are fast being torn up, and this not as formerly by a few obscure infidels, but by learned divines in high places. Science is mustering all its arts and arms to undermine the veracity of the Bible; talent and learning are uniting all their strength openly to assault its authority; and a cheap press is lending its ready and powerful aid to give the utmost effect to these combined attacks upon the very foundation of all our hopes for eternity.
Meanwhile the professing Church stands as it were paralysed, not so much with fear—for that would imply some life—as with apathy. She has indeed a dim view of the approaching danger; but having lost her shield and sword by abandoning the truth, like a man in a dream she strikes her idle blows here and there, and after a show of resistance is even now almost ready to surrender into the hands of her enemies the second best gift of God to man—the inspired revelation of His mind and will in the Scriptures of truth.
And need we wonder that the Church, to whom has been entrusted the care of this sacred deposit, should be thus deserted of God when she has been so unfaithful to her trust? By departing from the truth of God she has virtually abandoned her charge. She has thrown away the jewel which gave the value to the casket; for of what value is the Bible separate from the truth of the Bible? When Hophni and Phinehas degrade and disgrace their priestly office, need we wonder that the ark should fall into the hands of the Philistines; or that an enemy should be seen in the house of the Lord’s habitation?
When men give up the truth of God they virtually give up the word of God. Those who deny the internal inspiration of the blessed Spirit are not far from denying the external inspiration of the Scriptures; and those who have no living faith in the incarnate Word cannot have faith in the written word.
There are, then, evident signs of an approaching compromise between the assailants and the defenders of the inspiration of the Scriptures. The Church and the world have long been coming closer and closer together, and now the last wall of separation is fast giving way. The verbal inspiration of the Scriptures will soon be openly or tacitly given up by the leaders of both the Church and Dissent; their example, as has invariably been the case in similar instances, will spread itself among the lower ranks of both bodies until there will be a general renunciation of the authority of the Bible as the word of the living God. With that renunciation the whole force and authority of the Scriptures will be gone; and then they will cease to be what they have been from the earliest period of time—a binding declaration from God to man.
Satan, indeed, with his usual craft, is hiding from the eyes of men the certain consequences of denying the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, for it is only as such that they are the word of God at all. Separate from this inspiration, we have no evidence that there is a heaven or a hell, or even a God, and the Scriptures are no more to us than the poems of Homer or the Vedas of the Brahmins.
Men speak justly of the formidable advance of Popery; but behind Popery there looms a much more terrible figure—Infidelity. Giants Pope and Pagan were great men in their day; but there is a greater giant to come—Giant Infidel. The Pope and Pagan giants warred against the body; but the Infidel giant wars against the soul. The weapons of Popery and Paganism were the rough and ready bodily application of fire and fagot, rack and thumbscrew; the weapons of infidelity are much more polished and quiet, but addressed with deadly effect to the intellect, and adapted to all classes of society. Scientific discussions of eminent geologists; annual meetings of learned societies in the large towns and prominent centres of civilization; Essays and Reviews from divines in high places or University professors, address themselves to the educated classes of society; whilst popular lectures, leading articles, half argument half bantor, in Sunday newspapers, trashy tales openly ridiculing religion and covertly advocating infidel principles, with a whole host of cheap publications of a similar character, serve up the same dish for the food and entertainment of the less educated masses.
We may seem to be going out of our usual path to notice these things; but a watchman should not be unobservant of the signs of the times, nor shut himself up in his sentry-box looking only in one direction. If there be a “coming struggle,” and if Infidelity be the last enemy of the Church, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. At any rate, if, when the Lord is about to bring a sword upon the land, the watchman see it coming, blow the trumpet, and warn the people, he delivers his own soul from blood, and it may be the souls of others from destruction.
But what we see now in the dim distance is but the beginning of the end. The mischief will not stop here. When the restraint of God’s word is gone, society has lost the most binding tie on the lusts and passions of men; for when there is no fear of judgment after death, what is there to keep men back from sin?
To what, then, are we called who have felt the power and authority of the word of God upon our hearts? To bind it more closely and warmly to our breast; to prize it in proportion to the attacks made upon it; to seek for clearer and more powerful manifestations of its truth and blessedness to our own soul, and, as called upon, to contend for it by tongue and pen. We feel, therefore, a growing desire to devote what remains of life and strength to the defence of the truth as it is in Jesus. . . .
[Excerpted from Meditations On Matters of Christian Faith and Experience, Vol. 3, by J.C. Philpot, pp. 2-6. (Old Paths Gospel Press, PO Box 318, Choteau, MT 59422). This excerpt has been reformatted for blog use.]
"The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." (2 Corinthians 4:4)