Friendly Enemies

Shall we quarrel with—these doubts and fears—these temptations and trials—these assaults from Satan—these workings-up of inward corruption—when they are, in God’s mercy and in God’s providence, such blessed helpers?

If they drive us to a throne of grace—if by them we are brought out of lying refuges—if by them all false hopes are stripped off from us—if by them we are made honest and sincere before God—if by them we turn away from all human help, and come wholly and solely to the LORD—shall we quarrel with these things, which are, if I may use the expression—such friendly enemies—that are so changed from curses into blessings—that in God’s overruling providence are made so mysteriously to work for our good?

Shall we not rather bless God—for every trial that brings us to His footstool—for every temptation that has stripped away creature righteousness—for every blow that has cut us off from the world—for every affliction that has embittered the things of time and sense—for everything, however painful to the flesh, which has brought us nearer to Himself—and made us feel more love towards Him, and more desire after Him? Surely, when we sum up God’s mercies, we must include in the number—things painful to the flesh—and which at one time we could only look upon as miseries. No, in summing up the rich total, we must catalogue in the list—every pang of guilt—every stroke of conviction—every agonizing doubt—every painful fear—every secret temptation—everything that has most disturbed us.

And could we assign a more prominent place to one of God’s mercies—we would give the most distinguished place to the deepest trial. We would say, “Of all mercies, the greatest have been our troubles, trials, exercises, and temptations—for we now see that their blessed effect has been to cut us clean out of fleshly religion, and out of those delusions which, had we continued in them, would have been our destruction. These trials eventually brought us into more sweet and special communion with God Himself!”

J.C. Philpot

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