J c Philpot writes concerining the maturing believer's winter before the harvest:
Thus his religion consists not in a head furnished with notions, but in a heart established with grace; not in an outward union with a church, but in an inward union with Christ; not in sitting down once a month to the ordinance, but in eating the bread which came down from heaven; not in having repented twenty years ago, but in being often melted by a sense of God's goodness and mercy; not in occupying a corner in an experimental chapel, but in having a place and a name in the church of the Firstborn. He will not indeed despise nor neglect any one of Christ's ordinances, but will look to the power more than to the form; and will think it sweeter to walk into the inner chambers of Zion's palace, and behold the King's face, than to go round about her, to tell her towers, and mark well her bulwarks.
Through the inward conflicts, secret workings, mysterious changes, and ever-varying exercises of his soul, he becomes established in a deep experience of his own folly and God's wisdom, of his own weakness and Christ's strength, of his own sinfulness and the Lord's goodness, of his own backslidings and the Spirit's recoveries, of his own base ingratitude and Jehovah's patience, of the aboundings of sin and the super-aboundings of grace. He thus becomes daily more and more confirmed in the vanity of the creature, the utter helplessness of man, the deceitfulness and hypocrisy of the human heart, the sovereignty of distinguishing grace, the fewness of heaven-taught ministers, the scanty number of living souls, and the great rareness of true religion. Nor are these convictions borrowed ideas, floating opinions, crude, half-digested sentiments or articles of a creed, which may be right or may be wrong; but they are things known by him as certainly, and felt as evidently as any material object that his eye sees, or his hand touches.
He has a divine standard set up in his soul by which he measures others as well as himself, for "he that is spiritual judges all things;" (1 Cor. 2:15) and as he measures them with one hand, he is forced to stamp "Tekel" with the other. He looks into the granaries, and finds chaff stored instead of wheat; he holds up the notes to the light, and cannot discover the water-mark; he walks up to the fold, and sees goats penned instead of sheep; and visits the household to search for the family likeness, but finds it filled with the "sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore." (Isa. 57:3)
All he wants is reality. All that he is in search of is something which bears the divine impress, and carries with it a heavenly and supernatural character. But instead of finding widows "indeed and desolate," (1 Tim. 5:5) he is pestered with widows of Tekoa; (2 Sam. 14:2) and instead of bankrupt debtors and impoverished paupers, he encounters scarce any but wealthy merchants, with a flourishing trade and a stock in hand. His soul can, however, only unite with the poor and needy, the stripped and the emptied, the shipwrecked sailor and the shelterless wayfarer, who, from sheer necessity, from being driven out of house and home, have fled for refuge to the hope set before them in a salvation without money and without price.
And thus a little godly fear, a little living faith, a little groaning prayer, a little genuine repentance--in a word, a little heavenly reality, will kindle a union, when towering pretensions, unshaken confidence, ready utterance, a sanctified countenance, a whining cant, a gifted head, and a tongue that walks through the earth, will freeze up every avenue of his heart. He has a needle in his soul which has been touched with a heavenly magnet; and the pole that a broken heart attracts, a bronze forehead repels.