The Utter Poverty of Man
In the beginning of my experience in the things of God, which is now more than twenty-nine years ago, I had this truth impressed upon my conscience, as I have reason to believe, very powerfully and very distinctly, by the finger of God — that I could know nothing, but by divine teaching; have nothing, but by divine giving; and be nothing, but by divine making.
And this truth thus impressed upon my conscience, so far from being erased by any subsequent experience, either of myself or of the Lord, has only been more and more deepened from that time to this.
I think I can at times see the wisdom, as well as the goodness, of God, in tracing that truth on my heart in the first beginnings of grace; for I can perceive several benefits springing out of it.
Just at that time my natural mind was very strongly bent upon human knowledge, for I had spent many years in various studies; and had it not been counteracted by divine teaching, I might have attempted to make myself a Christian, as I had previously made myself a linguist.
Again, it set grace as a divine jewel in my heart’s affections, and compared with it, everything else in my eyes was but dung and dross.
A third benefit which I see at times to have sprung out of it, was, that it brought me to admire grace in others, where ever I might see it.
It not only brought me down to stand on a level with the most ignorant and uneducated who possess grace, but very often in my soul’s feelings sunk me very far below them; for I could see in them clearly that grace which darkness of mind had often hidden from myself.
Grace, in the first instance, having thus been commended to my conscience, it has taught me ever since so to esteem, admire, and love it, wherever I can recognize it.
Nor do I think that I should be very far from the mark, if I say that the apostle Paul, though I would not be so presumptuous as to compare myself for a moment with him, was not of a different mind; for who so much as he exalted the grace of God, and the teaching and testimony of the blessed Spirit?
By J.C. Philpot