A Special thanks to James North for sending me this:
I am working on a book of Expositions of Scripture by J C Philpot. They were published in 1870 and 1880 (2 volumes). I thought you mught like to have the attached as a small sample which you might like to put on your web page.
Sincerely in Christ
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace." (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
These words are true taken literally. Naturally we know that there is a season for this and a time for that, and that these seasons cannot be hurried; all we can do is to wait patiently for the time to come round. But of course these words look beyond any mere temporal matter, and refer to everything divine. In that sense, therefore, to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. God has arranged in his mind certain things that must take place; he has planned and decreed that certain purposes should be brought to light and executed. To everything thus arranged there is a season, and there is a time to every purpose under the heaven. There is a time appointed in God's heart for everything under heaven. This causes us to say with David, "My times are in thy hand" (Ps. 31:15), and this gives submission if we can realize it, to wait for the consummation of God's will. You are a parent. The Lord may purpose that your children shall be called by grace, but there is a time, and if it be his will or purpose, it will be developed in due time.
A time to be born and a time to die. A day of birth and a day of death; but we cannot tell when we are to be born or when and where we are to die. There is a time for natural birth, and a time for a new birth, a second birth; and there is a time to die; to die under the law as well as to be born under the gospel.
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. When spring comes round, it is a time to plant. Then the seedsman goes to plant, and the farmer sends forth a man to set his seed. Then there is a time to pluck up that which is planted. The old tree is to be cut down when it becomes unfruitful and past bearing. So in grace there is a time for God to plant his fear in the soul, and a time to pluck up that which is planted by the hand of self and Satan. There is a time to pluck up that, as there is a time to plant his grace in the soul. There is a time to pluck up that which is planted.
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up. There is a time to kill and there is also a time to heal. This must be applied spiritually. There can be no time for murder. There is a time to kill by the cutting strokes of the law and a guilty conscience, and there is also a time to heal by the application of atoning blood, and as none can hurry the time when he is to be killed by the law, so, though there is a time to be healed, none can hasten it. A time to break down. You may have planned your schemes, built your castles in the air, but as regards religion, they root up the gospel, they supplant the religion of the Bible. There is a time to break down when God shatters all your schemes and contrivances, and there is a time to build up his own work upon your soul; a time to break down everything contrary to his own mind and will, and to build up everything consistent therewith.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh. A time to weep when affliction comes to drop a silent tear, or to wet the pillow with tears, and a time to laugh when God turns the captivity; not a foolish giggle, or an empty joke. It is disgusting in a man; such laughing is sin. When shall a child of God laugh? When the Lord hears his prayer, as the Psalmist says, " Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them. The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad" (Ps. 126:2,3). ''He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him (Ps. 126:6).
A time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to mourn when the Lord hides his face, and we see ourselves as sinners before him. And a time to dance. Not at the Christmas ball, not at the tea party and the mirthful assemblage; God's word is point-blank against such things; but there is a time to dance; for the heart to dance and not the feet, for the soul to move in steps of joy and feastings; such a dance as David had before the ark, when he danced with all his might.
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together. As persons cast away stones of no importance, and then gather them to build houses.
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing. A time to embrace the Lord, and a time to refrain from embracing, when he withdraws himself, and the beloved is gone.
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. This is true naturally, but how little men are aware of it. There is a time to get. A man is in business; prosperity sets in, a favourable turn of events takes place. What is it owing to? His thoughtfulness, his clear-sightedness? Why, to believe this is to believe there is no God. The Lord tells us we cannot make one hair white or black, or add one cubit to our stature. Then surely a man's getting or gaining anything cannot be without the Lord having a hand in the matter. A time to lose. Men may lay their schemes and plans, and yet how soon they are defeated. How the rogue can upset the schemes of the wisest men. How a fraudulent executor or guardian may defeat the ends of the wisest will. The father may make the best will for his children that a man is able to make, and yet all be defeated by the iniquity of a trustee. So it is not man's wisdom, or man's deep laid plans that can make him succeed. A time to get, and a time to lose. It is like a favourable wind propelling a ship. A time to lose like an adverse wind driving the ship upon a rock, and a man has no more power over this than a sailor has over the wind.
The Christian tradesman ever bears this in mind, that the Lord is a God of providence. But in a spiritual sense there is a time to get when the Lord is blessing your soul. Don't you find you get more under one sermon that God blesses to your soul than you get under a hundred he does not bless? You get your religion upon your knees sometimes from the mouth of God by a divine inspiration. A time to get, and there is never a more seasonable time to get than when the soul is in affliction, temptation, and tribulation, and what it gets then is good and not worthless and ridiculous. It gets good things, for it gets them from God's own storehouse and treasury.
But there is a time to lose also, and what is this time? It is when you are losing your creature righteousness, your vain hopes, your self-confidence, and everything you thought so highly of, and being stripped of all your fancied goodness, and there is no getting except in the Lord's time, which is in his hand. This made David say, "My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me" (Ps. 31:15). Many people in religion are like children that can hardly tell a penny from a sovereign, or who do not know a piece of gilt paper from gold. Well, such people know not what to get or what to keep just as a child might keep something worthless, and throw away something valuable.
Now in religion there is a time to keep and there is a time to cast away. There is a time to keep what God has done for you, what he has put into your heart, and what he has made precious to your soul. Hold it fast! If there has been any word, any smile, any blood applied to your conscience, any mercy revealed to your heart, any token for good, hold it fast. There is a time to keep that, keep it fast, with a firm grasp, as your testimony whereby you may encounter death and hell, but to keep this the Lord must keep it for you, for he keepeth his saints.
There is a time to keep, and when Satan is knocking for an entrance and seeking to get in, then is the time to keep. When the burglars are seeking entrance into the bank then that is the time to keep it by setting a double quantity of watchmen about it, by telling the police, and by getting up in the night to look after it. So when Satan assaults the soul, there is a time to keep the burglar out by calling upon the Lord, and begging of him to keep it.
There is a time to cast away all that is worthless, the religion which, it may be, you have heaped up. Look at most people's religion. I don't wish to speak uncharitably, but what is it made up of? A few prayers, a few church or chapel goings, partaking of the sacrament, comparative righteousness, nothing so bad as their neighbours. What a foundation is this? How it sets aside the obedience and righteousness of Christ, the Christ of God. Then how can the child of God keep this? He casts it away, he says is worthless, "Tekel" is stamped upon it.
There is a time to cast away at the approach of death, when eternity stares him in the face. Then it is also a time to keep what God has done for the soul, and to cast away what he has not done, to keep true religion, and to cast away false religion, to keep true faith, and to cast away false faith, to keep true hope, and to cast away false hope, to keep the love of God, and to cast away the love of the world, to keep hold of atoning blood, and to cast away a guilty conscience, to keep Christ's righteousness, and to cast away all the filthy rags of one's own self-righteousness.
So there is a time to get and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast away, and these times are in the Lord's hand. What a mercy to have some discrimination; to know what to keep and what to cast away. When you move from one house to another you hardly know what to keep and what to throw away, what to take and what to leave behind, and yet you know in your judgment it is no use keeping what is worthless.
So in religion you want a discerning eye, you want your eye to be as the eye of the enlightened, and your conscience made tender. You would keep all that God has done, and what he has not done, that you would cast away. How many prayers you have offered up! How many you have heard offered up! How many hymns you have heard sung! What have you got by all this? How much of it is worth keeping? But if you have a word, a token for good, a sweet testimony, a gracious evidence, some raising up of faith, and hope, and love, any sweet deliverance, any application of atoning blood to the conscience, any views of Christ, any looking forward to a blessed inheritance, a heart filled with love towards a blessed Redeemer, there is a time to keep these, while as to other things there is a time to cast them away. But as to keep is in the Lord's hand, so to cast away is in his hand also. And when the time does come, it is a blessed time, a heart penetrating time. Then you say, "This I keep, and this I cast away."
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak. There is a time to rend, what? All our fleshly religion, our garments that we have woven with the greatest care and industry, feeling how unable they are to clothe us, and there is a time to sew, in bringing together evidences and fitting them in a compact form, that they may be one whole; not mere fragments and pieces, but sewn together, that we may see they are evidences that the Lord will receive.
There is a time also to rend other things. We by nature are in very close connection with the world, the whole web of our being is interwoven with it, and this is to be rent asunder. There is a time too to rend when the blessed Spirit works with divine power upon the conscience and the web that bound us is cut asunder. Then there is our own righteousness which is filthy rags; these are to be rent asunder, for who would dress himself in filthy rags? Then there is your heart. "Rend your heart, and not your garments" (Joel 2:13). Your hearts into which nothing can enter, no light, nor faith, nor hope, nor love, nor anything but by the power of God. When the Spirit of God enters into the heart, it rends it asunder by trouble, exercises, and convictions, so as to make way for the balm of the gospel.
Again, our flesh is in very close contact with sin. Sin and the flesh are parts of each other, and our flesh has to be rent away, and this can only be done by the power of the Spirit who crucifies the flesh, and thus rends it asunder. Then there are many idols in the heart, many earthly joys, bosom toys, vile lusts, and creature things, all which take great hold upon our affections; these have to be rent asunder, and nothing short of the power of God can do it effectually.
But there is a time to sew as well as a time to rend, and while rending time is going on, no sewing time comes. The rending must be finished before the sewing is begun, and what is sewing? It is putting together that which is rent. Here is the heart rent asunder by trouble, sorrow, and exercises. This heart has to be sewed up, as the Lord speaks in Isaiah, "The edges were not closed nor healed with ointment." The edges have to be brought together, and when the blessed Spirit reveals mercy and peace through a Saviour's blood, then it is a time to sew. Then there is a union, a union with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. When the Holy Ghost rends our heart, it is not to leave us thus to be hurried forward to eternity without himself sealing his own testimony upon our heart, but he means to give us a union with eternity, a union with the eternal Father, a union with the eternal Son, and a union with the eternal Spirit, and thus there is a tune to sew. When Christ is made known, if that union be inspired, then we are sewn to Christ, sewn to the hem of his garment.
Then there is a love to the Saints of God. As our connection with the world is rent asunder, we have new friends, new brothers, new sisters, new fathers, and new mothers. These are the family of God, and the time to sew is when love and affection is felt in the heart toward them, and we begin to sew so as to come into sweet affection and union. Then there is church fellowship, and there is a rending of a man from dead professors and himself, and bringing him into union with living churches, the saints of God, and the ordinances of his house. So you see how wide the meaning is, and what a vast field there is to expatiate in.
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak. Which time is in God's hand, as the Psalmist said, "My times are in thy hand." There are times when it is far better to keep silence. Suppose you are present where there is a conversation going on extremely distasteful to you. There is no use in casting pearls before swine. What use is it for you to put your religion before them? There is a time to keep silence before God also as well as before men, when you can scarcely speak before God, and it is very good to lie before him, not saying a word, having the heart filled with a dreadful awe of the majesty of heaven, to pause and think whom you are going to address, consider what you are going to say, think what you want, ponder over it, and meditate upon it.
The saint of God deeply impressed with a reverence for the majesty of heaven knows there is a time to keep silence even before God, as well as a time to speak. So upon many points you will find the conversation of people will be disgusting, discussing the most difficult questions in theology. "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread." Among them, perhaps, there is a saint of God who knows scarcely anything of these nice points, but he knows something of God in the heart, he keeps silence, for he feels it best to keep silence in matters that he is not led into by the Holy Spirit.
There may be strife in the church, between the congregation, the minister, and the friends. We are told not to take a dog by the ears, then we must keep silent, and many things there are where it is best to keep silence. How many domestic troubles would be avoided if when one was angry the other held his tongue, if when one was out of temper the other bore it. What an extinguisher to many domestic trials.
But there is a time to speak. You may see a friend or a brother going to do a thing that will bring reproach upon the cause of Christ, or put a stumbling block in the way of another; you might want to keep silence and say, "If I speak I shall only bring a cross upon myself," but it is a time to speak.
So it is in prayer sometimes. The Lord shuts up. Then it is a time to keep silence. The Lord opens. Then it is a time to speak. So he that watches the hand of God will be acquainted with these things. As the Lord is pleased to open, he feels cheered on to speak, but when the Lord checks, then he holds back; and so he watches the movements of the Lord.
A time to love, and a time to hate, a time of war, and a time of peace. This time of love is when the Lord sheds abroad his love in the heart by the Holy Ghost. Then there is a time to love the saints of God, the ordinances of God's house, a time to love the truth of God opened up with a divine power, and a time to love everything godly, and holy, and heavenly, when the power is felt. A time to hate to hate what? Sin, carnality, ungodliness, hypocrisy, insincerity, wicked ways and works. There is a time to love, and a time to hate; not our bitterest enemies; we may pity, but not hate them. We may hate sin, but not the sinner; hate what God hates, and least of all hate any that love and fear God.
A time of war, when we are called to fight with sin and Satan, when the trumpet calls forth the hosts of the Lord to go out and fight a holy war. When the Lord gives us the cross to array ourselves under as a conquering banner, here is the time of war; but when the Lord applies atoning blood to the heart, and gives us peace with himself and with his people the church of God, there is the time of peace.
So you see that these are not matters merely of time, but matters of eternity, and you will see each of these things opens up a wide field of experimental religion, for the heaven-taught soul to walk in.