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Full text of "The Epistle to the Philippians"

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LIBRARY 

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DIVINITY SCHOOL. 



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THE EXPOSITOR'S BIBLE 



. ^ EDITED BY THE REV. 



THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS 



ROBERT RAINY, D.D. 



HODDER AND STOUGHTON 
27, PATERNOSTER ROW 

MDCCCXail 



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THE EXPOSITOR'S BIBLE. 

Crown Svo, cloth, price 71. 6d, each vol. 



First Series, 1887-8. 



Colossians. 

By A. MACiJiitEN, D.D. 
St. Mark. 

By Very Rev. the Dean of Armagh. 

Genesis. 

By Prof. Marcus Dods, D.D. 



1 Samuel. 

By Prof. W. G. Blaikie, D.D. 

2 Samuel. 

By the Same Author. 

Hebrews. 

By Principal T.C. Edwards, D.D. 



Second Series, 1888-9. 



Qalatlans. 

By Prof. G. G. Findlay, B.A. 

The Pastoral Epistles. 

By Rev. A. Plummbr, D.D. 

Isaiah i. — xxxix. 

By G. A. Smith, M.A. Vol. I. 



The Book of Revelation. 

By Prof. W. Milligan, D.D. 

1 Corinthians. 

By Prof. Marcus Dods, D.D. 
The Epistles of St. John. 

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Third Series, 1889-90. 
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By Rev. R. A. Watson, D.D. 
Jeremiah. 

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Isaiah xl. — lxvi. 

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FiPFH Series, 1891-2. 



Ephesians. 

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The Gospel of St. John. 

By Prof. M. Dods, D.D. Vol. II. 

The Acts of the Apostles. 

By Prof. Stokes, D.D. Vol. II. 



Philippians. 

By Principal Rainy, D.D. 
1 Kincp. 

By Ven. Archdeacon Farrar. 

Joshua. 

By Prof. W. G. Blaikie, D.D. 



Sixth Series, 1892-3. 

The Psalms. 

By A. Maclaren, D.D. Vol. II. 

Daniel. 

By Prof. Fuller, M.A. 

Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther. 

By Prof. W. F. Adbnby, M.A 



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9 



THE EPISTLE 



TO THE 



PHILIPPIANS 



ROBERT R,AINY, D.D. 

PRINCIPAL OF NEW COLLEGE, EDINBURGH 



HODDER AND STOUGHTON 
27, PATERNOSTER ROW 



MDCCCXCIII 



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MAY 21893 



Printed ity Hqulit WafsoHt & Vinty^ Ld., London and AyUsbury. 



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an 



PREFATORY NOTE. 

NOT much need be said by way of preface, in 
addition to what is suggested in the intro- 
ductory chapter. 

It may be observed, however, that the Apostle's 
teaching repeatedly touches on the question, How 
the problem of practical human life on this earth is to 
be conceived and dealt with under the light and the 
influences of Christianity? The thought occurred 
that some expository passages might be superseded 
by an appendix summing up in one view the principles 
conceived to underlie the Apostle's way of dealing 
with such topics, which could be referred to on each 
separate occasion : and such a statement was prepared. 
It was, however, finally judged more suitable to the 
nature of an exposition to keep as close as possible 
to the Apostle's turn of thought in each of the cases 
in which he approaches the subject, rather than to 
try to secure brevity by a more summary treatment. 

A few sentences have been transferred from a 
lecture on the Apostle Paul, published some years 
ago. 



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CONTENTS. . 

CHAPTER I. 

PAGE 

INTRODUCTORY : THE SALUTATION ... - 3 

CHAPTER II. 

THE APOSTLE'S MIND ABOUT THE PHILIPPIANS . . I9 

CHAPTER III. 

HOW THE PHILIPPIANS SHOULD THINK OF PAUL AT 

ROME 45 

CHAPTER IV. 

THE CHOICE BETWEEN LIVING AND DYING ... 65 

CHAPTER V. 

UNDAUNTED AND UNITED STEADFASTNESS * ' * TJ 

CHAPTER VI. 

THE MIND OF CHRIST 95 

CHAPTER VII. 
THE MIND OF CHRIST {continued) . . . .Ill 

CHAPTER VIII. 
WORKING AND SHINING I3I 



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viii CONTENTS, 

CHAPTER IX. 

PAGE 

TIMOTHY AND EPAPHRODITUS 157 

CHAFTER X. 

NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH 171 

CHAPTER XI. 

THE KNOWLEPGE OF CHRIST 199 

CHAPTER XII. 

THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH . . • . .217 

CHAPTER XIII. 

RESURRECTION LIFE AND DAILY DYING . . .237 

CHAPTER XIV. 

CHRISTIAN LIFE A RACE 259 

CHAPTER XV. 

ENEMIES OF THE CROSS 28 1 

CHAPTER XVI. 

OUR CITY AND OUR COMING KING .... 299 

CHAPTER XVII. 

PEACE AND JOY ... . ' ' - }i^1 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

THE THINGS TO FIX UPON J37 

CHAPTER XIX. 

GIFTS AND SACRIFICES . . • • 353 



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INTRODUCTORY, THE SALUTATION, 



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" Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in 
Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: 
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus 
Christ."— Phil, i. I, 2 (R.V.V 



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CHAPTER I. 

INTRODUCTORY, THE SALUTATION. 

THE sixteenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles 
contains the account of the Apostle PauFs first 
intercourse with the Philippians, and of the " beginning 
of the gospel" there. The date may be fixed as 
A.D. SI. After the council at Jerusalem (Acts xv.), 
and after the dissension between Paul and Barnabas 
(ver. 39), the Apostle of the Gentiles, accompanied by 
Silas, took his journey through Syria and Cilicia. 
" Confirming the Churches," he went over a good 
deal of ground which he had traversed before. At 
Lystra he assumed Timothy as an additional com- 
panion and assistant; and he passed on, guided in a 
very special manner by the Holy Spirit, until he arrived 
at Troas. Here a Divine warning, in a dream, deter- 
mined him to break ground in a new field. The little 
company, to which Luke was now added, passed on to 
Macedonia, and, having landed at Neapolis, where they 
do not seem to have made any stay or found any 
opportunity of preaching, they came to Philippi. This 
therefore was the first city in Europe in which, so far 



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THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



as we have any distinct intimation, the gospel of the 
grace of God was declared. 

Philippi was a city of some importance, and had the 
position and privileges of a Roman colony. It was 
situated in a fruitful district, was near to gold mines, 
and was also near enough to the sea to serve as a dep6t 
for a good deal of Asiatic commerce. 

It is hardly necessary to remind readers of the Scrip- 
ture how Lydia and others received the word ; how 
the preachers were followed by the damsel with the 
spirit of divination ; how, when that damsel had been 
silenced by Paul, her masters raised a tumult against 
Paul and Silas, and got them scourged and cast into 
prison ; how the earthquake, which followed during 
the night, resulted in the conversion of the jailor, and 
in Paul and Silas being sent forth from the city with 
honour. Perhaps Luke and Timothy remained behind 
at Philippi, and continued to edify the believers. At 
any rate, Paul himself had by this time continued there 
"many days." Two short visits of the. Apostle to 
Philippi at a subsequent time are known to us (Acts 
XX. 2, 6). 

The Church thus founded proved to be an interesting 
one, for it possessed much of the simplicity and earnest- 
ness of true Christianity. Both in the Epistles to the 
Corinthians and in this Epistle, the Philippians are 
singled out, above all Churches, for their cordiality of 
feeling towards the Apostle who had brought to them 
the knowledge of the truth. They made liberal 



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i. I, 2.] INTRODUCTORY, 5 

contributions for the furtherance of his work in other 
regions, beginning shortly after he left Philippi, and 
repeating them from time to time afterwards. They 
seem to have been remarkably free from some of the 
defects incidental to those early Churches, and to the 
Churches at all periods. The Apostle's commenda- 
tions of them are peculiarly warm and glowing; and 
scarcely anything had to be noticed in the way of 
special warning, except a tendency to disagreement 
among* some of their members. It does not appear 
that there was any great number of Jews at Philippi, 
and we find no trace of a synagogue. This may 
account in some measure for their freedom from the 
Judaising tendency: for we find the Philippians ex- 
horted, indeed, to beware of that evil, but not repre- 
hended as if it had taken any strong hold among them. 
On the other hand, they seem to have remained in a 
good measure free from evils to which Gentile Churches 
were most exposed, and which, at Corinth for example, 
produced much that was disheartening and perplexing. 
Eleven years, probably, had now passed since Paul 
had brought to Philippi the knowledge of Christ Jesus. 
During that time he had undergone many vicissitudes, 
and now he had been for some time a prisoner at Rome. 
Probably he had already written the Epistles to the 
Ephesians, the Colossians, and' to Philemon. Com- 
paring these with our Epistle, we may conclude that 
his prospects as a prisoner had not improved, but rather 
darkened, since the date of those letters. At this time, 



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THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 



then, Epaphroditus arrived, apparently after a dangerous 
journey, bearing with him a supply for the Apostle's 
wants, bringing tidings of the state of the Philippian 
Church, and assuring him of their sympathy and their 
prayers on his behalf. It is no wonder that, in these 
circumstances, the Epistle bears marks of having been 
written by the Apostle with a special flow of tenderness 
and of affection. 

The scope of the letter may be briefly stated. 
After the usual inscription and salutation, the Apostle 
expresses (as he does so often in his Epistles) his 
thankfulness for what the Philippians had attained, and 
his desire that they might grow to yet higher things. 
He goes on to tell them how matters stood with himself, 
and opens up, as to those whom he reckons trusted 
friends, the manner in which his mind was exercised 
under these providences. Returning to the Philip- 
pians, and aiming at this, that they and he might have 
growing fellowship in all Christian grace, he goes on 
to set before them Christ, specially in His lowliness 
and selfrsacrifice. This is the grand end; attainment 
to His likeness is work for all their lives. Paul sets 
forth how earnestly his heart is set on this object, 
and what means he is taking to advance it. After a 
brief digression relating to his circumstances and 
theirs, he returns again to the same point. In order 
that defects may be removed, dangers avoided, pro- 
gress made, Christ must be their joy, their trust, their 
aim, their very life. They, like the Apostle himself. 



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1, 2.] INTRODUCTORY. 



must press on, never content till the consummate sal- 
vation is attained (iii. 2i). If this should be so, his 
desires for them would be fulfilled. So he closes (iv. 2) 
with directions rising out of this central view, and with 
renewed expression of the comfort he had derived from 
their affectionate remembrance. Their goodwill to the 
cause in which his life was spent, and to himself, had 
cheered his heart. And he took it as God's blessing to 
him and to them. 

Such is a brief outline of the course of thought. But 
the Epistle, while perfect in the unity of its feeling 
and of its point of view, is remarkable for the way 
in which it alternates between matters proper to the 
Philippians, including the instruction Paul saw fit to 
impress upon them, and matters personal to himself. 
The Apostle seems to feel sure of affectionate sympathy 
in both regions, and in both equally ; therefore in both 
his heart utters itself without difficulty and without 
restraint. Ch. i. 3-1 1, i. 27 — ii. 16, iii. I— iv. 9, are 
occupied with the one theme, and i. 12-26, ii. 17-30, 
iv. 10-21, with the other. In short, more than any 
other Epistle, if we except, perhaps, that to Philemon, 
the Epistle to the Philippians has the character of 
an outpouring. The official aims and obligJations of 
the Christian instructor are fused, as it were, in the 
glowing affection of the personal friend. He is' sure of 
his place in the hearts of his correspondents, and he 
knows how glad they will be to be assured of the place 
they hold in his. 



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THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



Let US now attend to the inscription and salutation. 
Those who send the Epistle are "Paul and Timothy. 
Yet plainly we are not to regard it as a joint Epistle 
proceeding from both equally ; for it is Paul who speaks 
throughout, in his own name and by his own authority. 
Timothy only joins, as Sosthenes and Silas do in other 
cases, in heartily commending to the Church at Philippi 
whatever the Epistle contains. As there was harmony 
between the two labourers when they laid the founda- 
tion at Philippi, so there is also in the building up. 
Timothy is joined in the love and care ; but the authority 
is Paul's. Both alike are called "servants of Jesus 
Christ " ; for to this Church no further commendation 
and no rehearsal of a special right to speak and teach 
are needed. And yet, to understanding hearts, what 
commendation could be more weighty ? If these two 
men are called and allowed by Christ to be His servants, 
if they are loyal and faithful servants, if they come on 
an errand on which Christ has sent them, if they deliver 
His message and do His work, what more need be said ? 
This is honour and authority enough — to be, in our 
degree, Christ's servants. But the word is stronger : 
it means bondservants, or slaves, — such as are the 
master's property, or are at his absolute disposal. 5o 
Paul felt ; for we are not to reckon this to be, on his 
part, a mere phrase. Already, in this word, we re- 
cognise the sense of entire consecration to his Master and 
Lord ; in which, as we shall see, he felt he could count 
upon the hearty sympathy of his Philippian friends. 



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i. I, 2.] THE SALUTATION, 



Those v.ho are addressed are, in the first place, " all 
the saints in Christ' Jesus who are at Philippi." The 
saints, or holy opes, is a common expression in the 
Scriptures. The word "sanctify" is applied both to 
persons and to things. Bible-readers will have noticed 
that the term seems to vibrate or vacillate between two 
meanings, — signifying on the one hand the production 
of personal intrinsic holiness, and on the other merely 
consecration, or setting apart of anything to God's service. 
Now the connection of both meanings will appear, if we 
mark how both meet in the word as it is applied to the 
children of God. For such are separated, set apart for 
God from sin and from the world ; not, however, by a 
mere outward destination, devoting them to a certain 
use and service, but by an internal hallowing, which 
makes the man really in his inward nature holy, fit 
for God*s service and God*s fellowship. This is done 
by the regeneration of the Spirit, and by His indwelling 
thereafter. Hence, to distinguish this consecration 
from the mere outward ceremonial sanctification, which 
was so temporary and shadowy, we find the Apostle 
Peter (i. 2) saying that God's children are chosen " by 
sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprink- 
ling of the blood of Jesus." For the ancient Israel 
was sanctified to obedience in another manner (Exod. 
xxiv. 6). 

Now because this real consecration takes place when 
we are grafted into Christ by faith, because the Spirit 
comes to us and abides in us as the Spirit of Christ, 



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THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 



because whatever the Spirit does, as our Sanctifier, has 
its rise from Christ's redeeming work, because He unites 
us to Christ and enables us to cleave to Christ and 
hold fellowship with Him. therefore those who are thus 
sanctified are called saints in Jesus Christ. It is the 
Spirit who sanctifies ; but He does so inasmuch as He 
roots us in Christ and builds us up in Christ. There- 
fore saints are sanctified by^ or q/J the Spirit ; but they 
are sanctified (or holy) in Christ Jesus. 

This expression, "saints," or some phrase that is 
equivalent, occurs commonly in the Epistles as the 
designation of the parties addressed. And two things 
are to be observed in connection with it. First, when 
the Apostle addresses " all the saints," in any Epistle, 
he is not shutting out any professed members of the 
Church, any professed believers in the Lord. He never 
speaks at the outset of an Epistle as if he meant to 
make deliberate distinction between two several classes 
of members of the Church : as who should say, " I write 
now to some part of the Church, viz., the saints ; as 
for the rest, I do not now address them." Hence we 
find the term used as equivalent to the Church — "to 
the Church of God which is at Corinth, with all the 
saints which are in all Achaia," and again " to them . . . 
that are called to be saints." We shall see presently the 
lesson which this is fitted to teach. But, secondly ^ on 
the other hand, the Apostle's use of the word makes it 
clear that he uses it in the full sense which we have 
explained, of a real saintship. He does not restrain 



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i. I, 2.J THE SALUTATION. ii 



the sense to some merely external saintship, as if his 
meaning were "professing Christians whether they 
are real or not." The word stands, in the inscriptions, 
as equivalent to " sanctified in Christ Jesus," " faithful 
in Christ Jesus," " beloved of God" ; or as in 2 Peter i., 
" them that have obtained like precious faith with us," 
and in i Peter, " Elect according to the foreknowledge 
of God unto obedience." Thus then we are to take 
it : — The Apostle wrote to the visible, or the professed 
and accepted followers of the Lord, on the understand- 
ing that they were what they professed to be. He was 
not to question it : he assumed that they were saints of 
God, for to profess the faith of Christ is to claim that 
character. He rejoiced to hope that it would prove to 
be so, and gladly took note of everything which tended 
to assure him that their holiness was real. He proclaims 
to them, in the character of saints, the privileges and 
the obligations that pertain to saints. It was the 
business of every man to look well to the reality of his 
faith, and to try the grounds on which he took his 
place with those addressed as beloved of God and 
called to be saints. There might be some who had 
but a name to live (2 Cor. xiii. 5). If so, it was not 
the Apostle's part, writing to the Church, to allow that 
possibility to confuse or lower the style of his address 
to Christ's Church. He wrote to all the saints in 
Christ Jesus who were at Philippi. 

This is evident from the strain of all the Pauline 
Epistles, and it is important to observe it and apply it. 



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THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



Otherwise we shall readily fall into this way of reason- 
ing, — "Since there must have been some in these 
Churches who were only nominally and not really 
believers, the word saints must include such ; therefore 
it can imply only an outward separation of men, apart 
from any determination of their inward state." If we 
do so, then everything the Apostle says to saints, their 
standing, their privileges, their obligations, and their 
hopes, will come to be strained and lowered in the 
interpretation, so as to mean only that such privileges 
and blessings are somehow attainable, and if attained 
may also on certain terms be secured. The interpreta- 
tion of the Apostle's teaching on these subjects will, in 
short, be what it must be, if it is taken to apply at once, 
in his intention, to those who are indeed saints and to 
those who are not. This line, in point of fact, has been 
taken, in the interpretation of the Epistles, so as to 
resolve everything the Apostle says about the eternal 
life of saved men, as actually theirs, from their election 
downwards, into a mere matter of outward privileges. 
This view, no doubt, involves a straining of plain words. 
Yet it will always seem to force itself upon us, unless 
we hold fast (what is indeed demonstrably true) that 
when the Apostle speaks to saints, he says what should 
be said to those who are indeed saints, and on the 
understanding that those whom he addresses are such. 
In like manner, on the other side, we have a lesson 
to learn from the unhesitating way in which the 
Apostle writes to the saints, and sends the letter to 



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i. 1, 2.] THE SALUTATION. 13 

the members of a Christian Church as the parties in- 
tended. He may have some things to reprehend ; he 
may even have to express fears, when things have 
gone amiss, that some in the Church may yet prove to 
be no saints. Yet writing to the Church, he writes to 
saints. Let us learn from this what those lay claim 
to who become members of Christ's Church, and what 
responsibilities they take on. They claim, in Christ, 
the salvation which makes men saints — Le.^ persons set 
apart under the influence of the Holy Spirit to enjoy 
Christ's forgiveness and to walk in His ways. Christ 
does this for us, if He does a Saviour's work. It is a 
thing incongruous, a thing, in the Apostle's view, not 
to be taken for granted, that any one shall hold his 
place in Christ's Church who is worldly, earthly, un- 
holy. There may be such, but Paul will not assume 
it ; he will not measure the Christianity of Christ's 
Church by any such standard. Neither will he go about 
to determine whether perhaps it is so or not in the case 
of any who are professing Christ in the ordinary way. 
I/siny have entered Christ's Church who are content to 
continue in worldliness and sin, not seeking in Christ 
the grace which saves, that is solely their own personal 
sin, and in it they lie unto the Lord. But not for that 
will the Apostle come down to speak to Christ's Church 
as if it should be thought of as a company to which 
holy and unholy may equally well belong. If any be 
there who are in no vital sense saints, their intrusion 
will not hinder Paul from speaking to the Church of 



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14 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



God in its own proper character and according to its 
calling. 

But let it be remarked at the same time, that this 
same fact shows us that the Apostle was wont to judge 
of men and Churches charitably ; yes, with a very large 
charity. We may be very sure that there was a good 
deal in all those Churches, and a great deal in some, 
that needed to be judged charitably. They were not all 
clear, eminent, conspicuous saints; so far from that, 
there might well be some whole Churches in which 
saintship was, so far as man's inspection could perceive, 
faint and questionable. But the Apostle was far from 
thinking of shutting out the man whose faith was weak, 
whose attainments were small, whose regard to Christ 
was but a struggling and germinating thing. Far from 
being disposed to shut him out, no doubt the Apostle's 
whole desire was to shut such an one in, among the 
saints in Jesus Christ. 

To be accepted in the Beloved, to be sanctified in 
Christ Jesus, is a very great thing. No less than this 
great thing Christ offers, and no less we humbly claim 
in faith. Also it is no less than this that Christ 
bestows on those who come to Him. Let Christians, 
on the one hand, look to Christ, as able and willing to 
do no less than this even for them ; on the other hand, 
let them look to themselves, that they neither deceive 
themselves with false pretences, nor trifle idly with so 
great a gospel. And in the case of others, let hasty 
and needless adverse judgments be avoided. Let us 



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i. I, 2.] THE SALUTATION, 



be glad to think that Christ may see His own, where 
our dim sight can find but scanty tokens of His work. 

Along with the saints the letter specifies, in particular, 
the bishops and deacons. The former were the officers 
who took the oversight, as the word implies; the 
deacons those who rendered service, especially in the 
Church's outward and pecuniary concerns. These two 
standing orders are recognised by the Apostle. It is 
obvious that this does not suggest diocesan Episcopacy, 
for that implies three orders, the highest being a single 
bishop, to the exclusion of others assuming the office 
in that place. 

It is more important to observe that the Epistle is not 
directed to the bishops primarily, or as if they were 
entitled to come between the people and the message. 
It is directed to all the saints. To them the Epistle, to 
them all the Scriptures belong, as their own inheritance, 
which no man may take from them. In so far as the 
bishops and deacons are distinguished from other 
saints, the Scriptures pertain to them that they may 
learn their own duty, and also may help the people 
in the use and enjoyment of that which is already 
theirs. 

Now follows the salutation — Grace be unto you and 
peace. This is the ordinary salutation, varied and 
amplified in a few of the Epistles. It may be said to 
express the sum of all Christian well-being in this life. 

Grace is, first of all, the word which expresses the 
free favour of God, manifested towards the unworthy 



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1 6 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 



in Christ Jesus. But it is further extended in meaning 
to that which is the fruit of this favour, to the principles 
and dispositions in the mind which result from grace, 
which recognise grace, which in their nature correspond 
to the nature of grace. In this sense it is said " grow 
in grace." Peace is the well-grounded tranquillity and 
sense of well-being which arises from the sight of God's 
grace in Christ, from faith in it, and experience of it. 
Grace and peace are the forerunners of glory. That is 
a blessed company to which so great a fulness of good 
is commended, as ordinarily theirs. 

And from whom is this good expected to proceed ? 
From God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The 
Father who loved us, the Son who charged Himself with 
the burden of our salvation, impart a grace and a 
peace fragrant with that Divine love and charged with 
the efficacy of that blessed mediation. If any one 
wonders why the Holy Spirit is left out, a reason may be 
given for it. For if we look to the substance of the 
blessings, what are this grace and peace but the Holy 
Spirit Himself dwelling in us, revealing to us the Father 
and the Son from whom He comes, and enabling us to 
continue in the Son and in the Father ? 



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THE APOSTLES MIND ABOUT THE PHIUPPIANS, 



'^ 2 

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" I thank my God upon all my remembrance of you, always in 
every supplication of mine on behalf of you all making my supplication 
with joy, for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel from the 
first day until now ; being confident of this very thing, that He which 
began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ : 
• even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all, 
because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as, both in my bonds and 
in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, yc all are partakers 
with me of grace. For God is my witness, how I long after you all in 
the tender mercies of Christ Jesus. And this I pray, that your love 
may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment; 
so that ye may approve the things that are excellent ; that ye may be 
sincere and void of offence unto the day of Christ ; being filled with 
the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, unto the 
glory and praise of God."— Phil. i. 3-1 1 (R.V.), 



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CHAPTER II. 

THE APOSTLES MIND ABOUT THE PHILIPPIANS, 

AFTER the salutation, the first thing in the Epistle 
is a warm utterance of the feelings and the 
desires which Paul habitually cherishes in relation to 
his converts at Philippi. This is expressed vv. 3-1 1. 

Note the course of thought. In ver. 3 he declares his 
thankfulness and in ver. 4 his prayerfulness on their 
behalf ; and he puts these two together, without as yet 
saying why he thanks and what he prays for. He puts 
them together, because he would mark that with him 
these are not two separate things; but his prayer is 
thankful, and his thankfulness is prayerful ; and then, 
having so much to be thankful for, his prayers became, 
also, joyful. The reason why, he presently explains 
more particularly. For, ver. 5, he had to thank God, 
joyfully, for their fellowship in the gospel in the past ; 
and then, ver. 6, knowing to what this pointed forward, 
he could pray joyfully— that is, with joyful expectation 
for the future. And thus he prepares the way for telling 
what special things he was led to pray for ; but first he 



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THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



interposes w. 7 and 8, to vindicate, as it were, the right 
he had to feel so warm and deep an interest in his 
Philippian friends. The matter of his prayer follows in 
vv. 9-1 1. 

First he thanks God for grace bestowed upon the 
Philippians. As often as he remembered them, as 
often as he lifted up his heart in prayer to make request 
for them, he was cheered with the feeling that he could 
make request joyfully — />., he could rejoice over mercies 
already given. We know that the Apostle, in his 
letters to the Churches, is found always ready to evince 
the same spirit ; he is prompt to pour out his thanks 
for anything attained by those Churches, either in gifts 
or grace. We find it so in his letters to the Churches 
of Corinth and Ephesus and Colossae and Thessalonica. 
He does this, always, in a full and hearty way. He 
evidently counted it both duty and privilege to take 
note of what God had wrought, and to show that he 
prized it. Like John, he had no greater joy than to 
hear that his children walked in the truth ; and he gave 
the glory of it to God in thanksgiving. In the case of this 
Church, however, the ground of thanksgiving was some- 
thing that bound them to Paul in a peculiar manner, 
and touched his heart with a glow of tenderer love and 
gladness. It was, ver. 5, "their fellowship in the 
gospel (or rather, unto the gospel) from the first day 
until now." He means, that from their first acquaint- 
ance with the gospel, the Philippian Christians had, 
with unusual heartiness and sincerity, committed them- 



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i. 3-11.] PAULS MIND ABOUT THE PHILIPPIANS, 21 



selves to the cause of the gospel. They had made it 
their own cause. They had embarked in it as a fellow- 
ship to which they gave themselves heart and soul. 
There might be Churches, more distinguished for gifts 
than that of Philippi was, where less of this magnani- 
mous spirit appeared. There might be Churches, where 
men seemed to be occupied with their own advantage 
by the gospel, their individual and separate advantage, 
but withheld themselves from the fellowship unto it, — 
did not readily commit themselves to it and to each 
other, as embarking wholly and for ever in the common 
cause. This misconception, this servility of spirit, is 
but too easy. You may have whole Churches, in which 
men are full of self-congratulation about attainments 
they make in the gospel, and gifts they receive by the 
gospel, and doctrines they build up about it — but the 
loving "fellowship unto it" fails. A large measure 
of a better spirit had been given to the Philippians 
from the first. They were a part of ^hose Macedonian 
Churches, who " first gave their own selves " to the Lord 
and His Apostles, and then also their help and service. 
It was an inward fellowship before it was an outward 
one. They first gave their own selves, so that their 
hearts were mastered by the desire to see the ends of 
the gospel achieved, and then came service and sacrifice. 
Trials and losses had befallen them in this course of 
service ; but still they are found caring for the gospel, 
for their brethren in the gospel, for their father in the 
gospel, for the cause of the gospel. This fellowship — 



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THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



this readiness to make common cause with the gospel, 
out and out, had begun at the first day; and after 
trouble and trial it continued even until now. 

The disposition here commended has its importance, 
very much because it implies so just a conception of the 
genius of the gospel, and so hearty a consent to it. 
He whose Christianity leads him to band himself with 
his fellow-Christians, to get good by their help, and to 
help them to get good, and along with them to do good 
as opportunity arises, is a man who believes in the work 
of the gospel as a vital social force ; he believes that 
Christ is in his members; he believes that there are 
attainments to be made, victories won, benefits laid 
hold of and appropriated. He is in sympathy with 
Christ, for he is attracted by the expectation of great 
results coming in the line of the gospel ; and he is one 
who looks not merely on his own things, but rejoices to 
feel that his own hope is bound up with a great hope 
for many and for the world. Such a man is near the 
heart of things. He has, in important respects, got 
the right notion of Christianity, and Christianity has 
got the right hold of him. 

Now if we consider that the Apostle Paul, " the slave 
of Jesus Christ," was himself a marvellous embodiment 
of the spirit he is here commending to the Philippians, 
we shall easily understand with what satisfaction he 
thought upon this Church, and rejoiced over them, and 
gave thanks. Was there ever a man who, more than 
Paul, evinced " the fellowship of the gospel " from the 



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i. 3-1 1.] PAULS MIND ABOUT THE PHILIPPIANS. 23 



first hour to the last? Was there ever one whose 
personal self was more swallowed up and lost, in his 
zeal to be spent for the cause, — doing all things for the 
gospel's sake that he might have part therein? Did 
ever man, more than he, welcome sufferings, sacrifices, 
toils, if they were for Christ, for the gospel? Was 
man ever possessed more absolutely than he with a 
sense of the worthiness of the gospel to be proclaimed 
everywhere, to every man — and with a sense of the 
right the gospel had to himself, as Jesus Christ's man, 
the man that should be used and expended on nothing 
else but upholding this cause, and proclaiming this 
message to all kinds of sinners ? The one great object 
with him was that Christ should be magnified in him, 
whether by life or by death (ver. 20). His heart, there- 
fore, grew glad and thankful over a Church that had so 
much of this same spirit, and, for one thing, showed 
this by cleaving to him in their hearts through all the 
vicissitudes of his work, and following him everywhere 
with their sympathy and their prayers. Some Churches 
were so much occupied with themselves, and had so 
little understanding of him, that he was obliged to write 
to them at large, setting forth the true spirit and manner 
of his own life and service ; he had, as it were, to open 
their eyes by force to see him as he was. This was not 
needed here : the Philippians understood him already : 
they did so, because, in a degree, they had caught the 
contagion of his own spirit. They had given them- 
selves, in their measure, in a fellowship unto the 



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«4 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 

gospel, from the first day until now. They had 
claimed, and they still claimed, to have a share in all 
that befell the gospel, and in all that befell the Apostle. 

Paul ascribed all this to God's grace in them, and 
thanked God for it. True, indeed, much activity about 
the gospel, and much that looks like interest in its 
progress, may proceed from other causes besides a 
living fellowship with Jesus, and a true disposition to 
forsake all for Him. The outward activity may be 
resorted to as a substitute for the inward life ; or it 
may express the spirit of sectarian selfishness. But 
when it appears as a consistent interest in the gospel, 
when it is accompanied by the tokens of frank goodwill 
and free self-surrender to the Church's evangelical life, 
when it endures through vicissitudes of time, under 
trial, persecution, and reproach, it must arise, in the 
main, from a real persuasion of the Divine excellence 
and power of the gospel and the Saviour. J^ot without 
the grace of God does any Church manifest this spirit. 

Now to the Apostle who had this cause of gladness 
in the past, there opened (ver. 6) a gladdening prospect 
for the future, which at once deepened his thankful- 
ness and gave exp)ectancy to his prayers. "Being 
confident of this very thing, that He that hath begun a 
good work in you will perform it unto the day of Jesus 
Christ." ''Being confident of this very thing" is 
equivalent to " Having no less confidence than this " ; 
for he desires to express that his confidence is emphatic 
and great. 



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i. 3-II.] PAULS MIND ABOUT THE PHIUPPIANS. 25 



The confidence so expressed assumes a principle, 
and makes application of that principle to the Philippian 
saints. 

The principle is that the work of saving grace clearly 
begun by the Spirit of God shall not be destroyed and 
come to nothing, but shall be carried on to complete 
salvation. This principle is not received by all Chris- 
tians as part of the teaching of Scripture ; but without 
entering now into any large discussion, it may be 
pointed out that it seems to be recognised, not merely 
in a few, but in many passages of Holy Writ. Not to 
recite Old Testament indications, we have our Lord's 
word (John x. 28) : " I give unto them eternal life, and 
they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck 
them out of My hand." And there is hardly an Epistle 
of our Apostle in which the same principle is not 
presented to us, stated in express terms, or assumed 
in stating other doctrines, and applied to the comfort 
of believers (i Thess. v. 23, 24; I Cor. i. 8; Rom. 
viii. 30). The ultimate salvation of those in whom a 
good work is begun, is, in this view, conceived to be 
connected with the stability of God's purposes, the 
efficacy of the Son's mediation, the permanence and 
power of the Holy Spirit's influence, and the nature of 
the covenant under which believers are placed. And 
the perseverance thus provided for is supposed to be 
made good through the faith, patience, fear, and dili- 
gence of those who persevere, and by no means without 
these. As to the place before us, whatever exceptions 



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26 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



and whatever distinctions may be taken on the subject, 
it must be owned that, gladly recognising Christian 
character and attainment as a fact, he finds therein a 
warrant for emphatic confidence about the future, even 
to the day of Christ. 

As to the application of this principle to the Philip- 
pians, the method in which the Apostle proceeds is 
plain. He certainly does not speak as by immediate 
insight into Divine counsels about the Philippians. He 
is directed to utter a conclusion at which he had arrived 
by a process which he explains. From the evidence of 
the reality of their Christian calling, he drew the con- 
clusion that Christ was at work in them, and the further 
conclusion that this work would be completed. It may 
be asked how so confident an application of the prin- 
ciple now in view could be reached on these terms? 
How could the Apostle be sure enough of the inward 
state of his Philippian friends, to enable him to reason 
on it, as here he seems to do ? In answer, we grant 
it to be impossible for any one, without immediate 
revelation on the point, to reach absolute assurance 
about the spiritual state of other people. And there- 
fore we are to keep in view, what has already been 
suggested, that the Apostle, speaking to "saints," 
really remits to themselves and to their Lord the final 
question as to the reality of that apparent saintship. 
But then, we are taught by the Apostle's example that 
where ordinary tokens, and especially where more than 
ordinary tokens of Christian character appear, we are 



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i. 3-11.] PAULS MIND ABOUT THE PHIUPPIANS. 27 

frankly and gladly to give effect to those signs in our 
practical judgments. There may be an error, no doubt 
there is, in unbounded charity ; but there is error also 
when we make a grudging estimate of Christian brethren ; 
when, on the ground of some failing, we allow suspicion 
to obliterate the impressions which their Christian faith 
and service might fairly have made upon us. We are 
to cherish the thought that a wonderful future is before 
those in whom Christ is carrying on His work of grace ; 
and we are to make a loving application of that hope 
in the case of those whose Christian dispositions have 
become specially manifest to us in the intercourse of 
Christian friendship. 

However, the Apostle felt that he had a special right 
to feel thus in reference to the Philippians — more, 
perhaps, than in regard to others ; and instead of going 
on at once to specify the objects of his prayers for them, 
he interposes a vindication, as it were, of the right he 
claimed (ver. 7) : " Even as it is meet for me to be thus 
minded with respect to all of you, because I have you 
in my heart, you who are all partakers of my grace, 
not only in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, 
but also in my bonds." As if he would say, — There 
are special ties between us, which justify on my 
part special tenderness and vigilance of appreciation 
and approbation, when I think of y6u. A father has a 
special right to take note of what is hopeful in his son, 
and to dwell with satisfaction on his virtues and his 
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28 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



together have a sp)ecial right to cherish a deep trust in 
one another's well-tried fidelity and nobleness. Let 
strangers, in such cases, set, if they will, a slight value 
on characters which they hardly know ; but let them 
not dispute the right which love has to scrutinise with 
delight the nobler qualities of those who are beloved. 

The Philippians were sharers of Paul's grace, as 
sharing his enthusiasm for the successful advocacy 
and confirmation of the gospel. So they had their 
share in the grace that was so mighty in him. But 
besides that, the Apostle's heart had been cheered and 
warmed by the manifestation of their sympathy, their 
loving thoughtfulness in reference to his bonds. So he 
joyfully owned them as partakers in spirit in those 
bonds, and in the grace by which he endured them. 
They remembered him in his bonds, "as bound with 
him." Every way their fellowship with him expressed 
itself as full and true. No jarring element broke in to 
mar the happy sense of this. He could feel that 
though far away their hearts beat pulse for pulse with 
his, partakers not only of his toil but of his bonds. So 
he *' had them in his heart " : his heart embraced them 
with no common warmth and yielded to them no 
common friendship. And what then ? Why then " it is 
meet that I should be thus minded," " should use love's 
happy right to think very well of you, and should let 
the evidence of your Christian feeling come home to 
my heart, warm and glowing." It was meet that Paul 
should joyfully repute ihem to be sincere — to be men 



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i. 3-II.] PAULS MIND ABOUT THE PHIUPPIANS, 29 

cleaving to the gospel in a genuine love of it. It was 
meet that he should thank God in their behalf, seeing 
these happy attainments of theirs were so truly a 
concern of his. It was meet he should pray for them 
with joyful importunity, counting their growth in grace 
to be a benefit also to himself. 

It would be a helpful thing if Christian friends 
cherished, and if they sometimes expressed, warm hopes 
and expectations in behalf of one another. Only, 
let this be the outcome of truly spiritual affection. 
Paul was persuaded that his feelings arose from no 
mere human impulse. The grace of God it was which 
had given the Philippians this place in his heart. God 
was his record that his longing after them was great, 
and also that it was in the mercies of Christ. He 
loved them as a man in Christ, and with Christlike 
affections. Otherwise, words like these assume a canting 
character, and are unedifying. 

Now at last comes the tenor of his prayer (ver. 9) : 
"That your love may abound yet more and more in 
knowledge and all discernment ; so that ye may approve 
the things that are excellent," and so on. 

Let this first be noted, that it is a prayer for growth. 
All that grace has wrought in the Philippian believers, 
everything in their state that filled his heart with 
thankfulness, he regards as the beginning of something 
better still. For this he longs ; and therefore his heart 
is set on progress. So we find it in all his Epistles. 
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30 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



please God — so abound more" (i Thess. iv. i). This 
is a very familiar thought, yet let us spend a sentence 
or two upon it The spiritual prosperity of believers 
should be measured not so much by the point they have 
reached, but by the fact and measure of the progress 
they are making. Progress in likeness to Christ, 
progress in following Him ; progress in understanding 
His mind and learning His lessons ; progress ever 
from the performance and the failures of yesterday to 
the new discipline of to-day, — this is Paul's Christianity. 
In this world our condition is such that the business 
of every believer is to go forward. There is room for 
it, need of it, call to it, blessedness in it. For any 
Christian, at any stage of attainment, to presume to 
stand still, is perilous and sinful. A beginner that 
is pressing forward is a happier and a mor6 helpful 
Christian than he is who has come to a stand, though 
the latter may seem to be on the borders of the land of 
Beulah. The first may have his life marred by much 
darkness and many mistakes ; but the second is for the 
present practically denying the Christian truth and the 
Christian call, as these bear on himself. Therefore 
the Apostle is bent upon progress. And here we have 
his account of that which suggested itself to him as the 
best kind of progress for these converts of his. 

The life of their souls, as he conceived it, depended 
on the operation of one great principle, and he prays 
for the increase of that in strength and efficacy. He 
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i. 3- 1 1.] PAULS MIND ABOUT THE PHIUPPIANS, 31 



He was glad to think they had shown, all along, a 
loving Christian spirit. He wished it to grow to its 
proper strength and nobleness. 

No one doubts that, according to the Scriptures, 
love is the practical principle by which the fruits of 
faith are brought forth. The Christian character 
peculiarly consists in a Christ like love. The sum of 
the law from which we fell is. Thou shalt love ; and, 
being redeemed in Christ, we find the end of the com- 
mandment to be love, out of a pure heart, and a good 
conscience, and faith unfeigned. Redemption itself is 
a process of love, setting forth from heaven to earth to 
create and kindle love, and make it triumph in human 
hearts and lives. Every one that loveth is born of 
God and knoweth God. No point is so well settled. 
Nobody doubts it. 

Yet, alas I how many of us are truly aware of the 
great meaning which apostolic words, which Christ's 
words, carry, when this is spoken of ? or how shall it 
be made inwardly and vividly present to us ? In the 
heart of Christ, who loved us and gave Himself for us, 
was a great purpose to awaken in human hearts a deep 
and strong affection, kindred to His own — true, tender, 
steadfast, all-prevailing, all-transforming. Apostles, 
catching the fire in their degree, were full of the 
wonder of it, of the glad surprise and yet the sober 
reality of it ; and they carried about the gospel every- 
where, looking to see men thrill into this new life, and 
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32 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 

we? Let each man answer for himself. He is a happ}' 
man who can answer clearly. What is it to have love 
for the inspiration of the heart and the life : love sub- 
merging the lower cravings, love ennobling and ex- 
panding all that is best and highest, love consecrating 
life into a glad and endless offering ? Which of us has 
that within him which could break into a song, like the 
thirteenth chapter of Corinthians, rejoicing in the good- 
ness and nobleness of love? "That your love may 
abound." In our tongue it is but one syllable. So 
much the easier for our perversity to slide over the 
meaning as we read. But all our earthly life is too 
short a space for learning how deep and how pertinent 
to ourselves this business of love is. 

No doubt, the kindness the Philippians had shown 
to the Apostle, of which he had been speaking, 
naturally prepares the way for speaking of their love, 
as the verse before us does. But we are not to take 
the word as referring only to the love they might bear 
to other believers, or, in particular, to the Apostle. 
That is in the Apostle's mind; but his reference is 
wider, namely, to love as a principle which operates 
universally — which first holds lowly fellowship with the 
love of God, and then also flows out in Christian affec- 
tion towards men. The Apostle does not distinguish 
these, because he will not have us to separate them. 
The believer has been brought back in love to God, and 
having his life quickened from that source he loves 
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i. 3-II.] PAULS MIND ABOUT THE PHILIPPIANS, 33 



the Bible for this reason, that in love towards men the 
exercise of this affection finds the most various scope, 
and in this way also it is most practically tested. The 
Apostle would not grant to any of us that our pro- 
fession of love to God could be genuine, if love did 
not exert itself towards men. But neither would he 
suffer it to be restricted in the other direction. In the 
present case he gladly owned the love which his 
Philippian friends bore to himself. But he sees in 
this the existence of a principle which may signalise its 
energy in all directions, and is able to bear all kinds of 
good fruit Therefore his prayer fixes on this, " that 
your love may abound." 

Now here we must look narrowly into the drift of 
the prayer. For the Apostle desires that love may 
abound and work in a certain manner, and if it shall, 
he assures himself 0|f excellent eflFects to follow. 
Perhaps we may best see the reason which guided his 
prayer, if we begin with the result or achievement he 
aimed at for his Philippian friends. If we can under- 
stand that, we may the better understand the road by 
which he hoped they might be carried forward to it. 

The result aimed at is this (vv. 10, ii): "that ye 
may be sincere and without offence until the day of 
Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, 
which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of 
God." The last end is the glory and praise of God. 
This, let us be assured, is no mere phrase with the 
Apostle. All these things are real and vivid to him. If 

3 



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34 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



he were to come among us, knowing us to be professed 
believers, then, strange as some of us may think it, he 
would actually expect that a great degree of praise and 
glory to God should accrue out of our lives. The time 
he fixes on for the manifestation of this, the time when 
it should be seen how this has come to pass, is the 
day of Christ. That great day of revealing shall 
witness, in particular, the consummate glory of Christ's 
salvation in His redeemed. And he prays that unto 
that day and at that day they may be sincere, without 
offence, filled with fruits of righteousness. 

First, sincere : that signifies simplicity of purpose, 
and singleness of heart in following out that purpose. 
Sincere Christians cherish in their hearts no views, no 
principles, adverse to the Christian calling. The test of 
this sincerity is that a man shall be honestly willing to 
let light shine through him, to evince the true character 
of his principles and motives. Such a man is on the 
road to the final, victorious, and eternal sincerity. For 
the present there may be within him too much of that 
which hinders him, and mars his life. But if he is set 
on expelling this, and welcomes the light which exposes 
it, in order that he may expel it, then he has a real, 
present sincerity, and his course is brightening towards 
the perfect day. 

Second, without offence. This is the character of 
the man who walks without stumbling. For there are 
obstacles in the way, and they are often unexpected. 
Grant a man to be in a measure sincere — the call of the 



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i. 3-1 1.] PAULS MIND ABOUT THE PHILIPPIANS. 35 

gospel has really won his heart. Yet as he goes, there 
fall in trials, temptations, difficulties, that seem to come 
upon him from without, as it were, and he stumbles : 
he fails to preserve the uprightness of his life, and to 
keep his eye fixed with due steadiness on the end of 
his faith. Suddenly, before he is well aware, he is 
almost down. So he brings confusion into his mind, 
and guilt upon his conscience ; and in his bewilderment 
he is too likely to make worse stumbles ere long. He 
who would be a prosperous Christian has not only 
to watch against duplicity in the heart : he must give 
diligence also to deal wisely with the various outward 
influences which strike into our lives, which seem often 
to do so cruelly and unreasonably, and which wear 
some false guise that we had not foreseen. Paul knew 
this in his own case ; and therefore he " studied to 
keep a conscience void of offence." We may have 
wisdom enough for our own practice as to this, if we 
know where to go for it. 

Thirdj filled with fruits of righteousness — which is 
the positive result, associated with the absence of guile 
and the freedom from stumbling. A tree that bears 
any fruit is alive. But one that is filled with fruit 
glorifies the gardener's care. " Herein is My Father 
glorified, that ye bear much fruit ; so shall ye be My 
disciples." Distinct and manifold acts of faith and 
patience are the proper testimonies of the soul that is 
sincere and without offence. 

This is the line of things which the Apostle desires 



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36 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



to see running its course towards the day of Christ. 
Now let us ask, In what circumstances is the believer 
placed for whom Paul desires it ? 

He is placed in a world that is full of adverse 
influences, and is apt to stir adverse forces in his own 
heart. If he allows these influences to have their way 
— if he )delds to the tendencies that operate around 
him, he will be carried off* in a direction quite different 
from that which Paul contemplates. Instead of sincerity, 
there will be the tainted, corrupt, divided heart ; instead 
of freedom from offence, there will be many a fall, or 
even a complete forsaking of the way ; instead of fruits 
of righteousness filling the life, there will be "wild 
grapes." On the other hand, if, in spite of these 
influences, the Christian is enabled to hold his course, 
then the discipline of conflict and trial will prove full of 
blessing. Here also shall the promise be fulfilled that 
all things work together for good to them that love God. 
Strong temptations are not overcome without sorrow 
and pain ; but being overcome, they turn out ministers 
of good. In this experience sincerity clears and 
deepens ; and the bearing of the Christian acquires a 
firmness and directness not otherwise attainable ; and 
the fruits of righteousness acquire a flavour which no 
other climate could have developed so well. This hard 
road turns out to be the best road towards the day of 
Christ. 

The effect, then, of the circumstances in which the 
believer is thus placed will be according to the way in^ 



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i. 3-11.] PAUVS MIND ABOUT THE PHlLlPPlANS. ^7 



which he deals with them. But plainly, to deal rightly 
with them, implies a constant effort of judging the 
things within him and without him, the world within 
and the world without, that he may " approve what is 
more excellent " — that he may choose the good and re- 
fuse the evil. Discerning, distinguishing, as to opinions, 
influences, feelings, habits, courses of conduct, and so 
forth, so as to separate right and wrong, spiritual and 
carnal, true and false, must be the work in hand. There 
must be the prevailing practical mind to elect and to 
abide by the proper objects of choice, to cleave to the 
one and to put away the other. 

So we can understand very well, if the Philippians 
were to be sincere, without offence, filled with fruits of 
righteousness, that they must, and ever more and more 
searchingly and successfully, "approve the things that 
are more excellent." The phrase is also rendered " try 
the things which differ " ; for the expression implies 
both. It implies such a putting to proof of that which 
is presented to us, as to make just distinctions and give 
to each its proper place — silver on the one side, dross 
on the other. What is the whole life and business of 
the Philippians, of any Christians, as Christians, but 
that of following out perpetually a choice, on given 
principles, among the multitude of objects that claim 
their regard ? The fundamental choice, arrived at in 
believing, has to be reiterated continually, in a just 
application of it to a world of varying and sometimes 
perplexing cases. 



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38 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



When we have all this in view it is easy to under- 
stand the scope of the Apostle's prayer about the 
growth and education of their love. Out of love this 
needed discrimination must come. For 

1. No practical discriminations or determinations are 
of any worth in God's sight except as they are ani- 
mated by love, and, indeed, determined by it. If a 
Christian should choose anything, or reject anything, 
yet not in love, his choice as to the matter of fact may 
be right, but for all that the man himself is wrong. 

2. Love alone will practically carry through such 
habitual discrimination, such faithful and patient choice. 
Love becomes the new instinct which gives life, spring, 
and promptitude to the process. When this fails, the 
life of approving the things that are more excellent 
will fail ; the task will be repudiated as a burden that 
cannot be endured. It may still be professed, but it 
must inwardly die. 

3. Nothing but love can enable us to see and to affirm 
the true distinctions. Under the influence of that 
pure love (that arises in the heart which God's love 
has won and quickened) the things which differ are 
truly seen. So, and only so, we shall make distinctions 
according to the real differences as these appear in 
God's sight. Let us consider this a little. 

Evidently among the things that differ there are 
some whose characteristics are so plainly written in 
conscience or in Scripture, that to determine what 
should be said of them is matter of no difficulty at all. 



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i. 3-1 1.] PAULS MIND ABOUT THE PHIUPPIANS. 39 



It is no matter of difficulty to decide that murder and 
theft are wrong, or that meekness, benevolence, justice 
are right. A man who has never been awakened to 
spiritual life, or a Christian whose love has decayed, 
can make determinations about such things, and can 
be sure, as he does so, that as to the thing itself he 
is judging right. Yet in this case there is no just 
apprehension of the real difference in God's sight of 
the things that differ, nor a right mind and heart to 
choose or to reject so as to be in harmony with God's 
judgment. 

And if so, then in that large class of cases where 
there is room for some degree of doubt or diversity, 
where some mist obscures the view, so that it is not 
plain at once into what class things should be reckoned 
— in cases where we are not driven to a decision by a 
blaze of light from Scripture or conscience — in such 
cases we need the impulse of the love which cleaves to 
God, which delights in righteousness, which gives to 
others, even to the undeserving, the brother's place in 
the heart. Without this there can be no detection of 
the real difference, and no assurance of the rectitude 
of the discrimination we make. 

Now it is in such matters that the especial proof and 
exercise of religious life goes on. Here, for example, 
Lot failed. The beauty of the fair and prosperous 
valley so filled his soul with admiration and desire, that 
it chilled and all but killed the affections that should 
have steadied and raised his mind. Had the love of 



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40 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 

the eternal and supreme maintained its power, then in 
that day when God on the one hand and Lot on the 
other looked down on the plain, they would have seen 
the same sight and judged it with the same mind. 
But it was otherwise. So the Lord lifted up His eyes 
and saw that the men of Sodom were wicked and 
sinners before the Lord exceedingly ; and Lot lifted up 
his eyes and saw only that the plain was well watered 
everywhere, as the garden of the Lord, as the land of 
Egypt. 

But the love of which the Apostle speaks is the 
breath of the upper world and of the new life. It 
cleaves to God, it embraces the things which God loves, 
it enters into the views which God reveals, — and it 
takes the right view of men, and of men's interest and 
welfare. The man that has it, or has known it, is 
therein aware of what is most material. He has a 
notion of the conduct that is congruous to love's nature. 
What love knows, it is the nature of love to practise, 
for it knows lovingly ; and at every step the practice 
confirms, establishes, and enlarges the knowledge. So 
the genuine growth of love is a growth in knowledge 
(ver. 9) — the word implies the kind of knowledge that 
goes with intently looking into things: love, as it 
grows, becomes more quick to see and mark how 
things really are when tried by the true standard. 
Conversing practically with the mind of God in the 
practice of life, love incorporates that mind and judges 
in the light of it. This prepares a man to detect 



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i. 3-11.] PAUL'S MIND ABOUT THE PHIUPPIANS, 4» 



the false and counterfeit, and to try the things that 
differ. 

Not only in knowledge shall love grow, but '* in all 
discernment," or perception, as it might be rendered. 
There may be instances in which, with our best 
wisdom, we find it hard to disentangle clear principles, 
or state plain grounds which rule the case ; yet love, 
growing and exercised, has its percipiency : it has that 
accomplished tact, that quick experienced taste, that 
fine sensibility to what befriends and what opposes 
truth and right, which will lead to right distinctions 
in practice. So you discriminate by the sense of taste 
things that differ, though you can give no reason to 
another, but can say only, " I perceive it." In this 
sense ** he that is spiritual judgeth all things." 

For all this the aid of the Holy Spirit is held out 
to us, as we may see in i John ii. He makes love 
to grow, and under that master influence unfolds the 
needed wisdom also. So comes the wisdom *' from 
above, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and 
easy to be entreated, full of mercy and of good fruits, 
without partiality and without hypocrisy" (James iil 17). 
It is hidden from many wise and prudent, but God has 
often revealed it unto babes. 



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HOW THE PHILIPPIANS SHOULD THINK OF 
PAUL AT ROME. 



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"Now I would have you know, brethren, that the things which 
happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the 
gospel ; so that my bonds became manifest in Christ throughout the 
whole prsetorian guard, and to all the rest; and that most of the 
brethren in the Lord, being confident through my bonds, are more 
abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear. Some 
indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife ; and some also of good 
will : the one do it of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of 
the gospel : but the other proclaim Christ of faction, not sincerely, 
thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds. What then ? only 
that in every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is proclaimed ; 
and therein I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this 
shall turn to my salvation, through your supplication and the supply 
of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and 
hope, that in nothing shall I be put to shame, but that with all 
boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my 
body, whether by life, or by death."— Phil. i. 12-20 (R.V.). 



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CHAPTER III. 

HOW THE PHIUPPIANS SHOULD THINK OF PAUL 
AT ROME. 

HAVING poured out his feelings about those dear 
friends and children in the Lord at Philippi, the 
Apostle recognises corresponding feelings on their part 
towards him. These must naturally be feelings of 
anxiety to know how it was with him in body and 
spirit, and how far he had been protected and sustained 
amid the dangers and sorrows of a prisoner's lot. On 
this then he is glad to be able to give them good 
tidings. He can do so, because he is in the hands 
of a wonder-working Lord, who turns the shadow of 
death into the morning. Hence his history as well as 
theirs (ver. ii) is moving towards the glory and praise 
of God. 

The Apostle's affairs had seemed to be full of trial to 
himself, all the more that they bore so discouraging an 
aspect towards the cause to which he was devoted. 
He had been for years a prisoner. The work of 
preaching to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of 
Christ had been stopped, except as the narrow oppor- 
tunities of a prisoner's life offered scant outlets for it. 



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46 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 



He had, no doubt, his own share of experiences tending 
to depress and embitter : for in his day philanthropy 
had not yet done much to secure good treatment for 
men situated as he was. Still more depressing to an 
eager soul was the discipline of delay : the slow, mono- 
tonous months passing on, consuming the remainder of 
his life, while the great harvest he longed to reap lay 
outside uncared for, with few to bring it in. Mean- 
while even the work done in Christ's name was largely 
taking a wrong direction : those who under the Christian 
name preached another gospel, and perverted the gospel 
of Christ, had a freer hand to do their work. Paul, at 
least, had no longer the power to cross their path. 
Ground on which he might have worked, minds which 
he might have approached, seemed to be falling under 
their perverting influence. All this .seemed adverse — 
adverse to Paul, and adverse to the cause for which he 
lived —fitted therefore to awaken legitimate concern : 
fitted to raise the question why God's providence should 
thus depress the heart and waste the life of an agent so 
carefully prepared and so incomparably efficient. 

Most likely these things had tried the faith of Paul 
himself, and they might distress and perplex his loving 
friends at Philippi. It was right to feel that these 
providences were trying; but one might be tempted 
also to conclude that they were in every sense to be 
lamented. So much the better it was, therefore, that 
the Apostle could testify how here also all things 
were working for good, and in particular were turaing 



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i. I2-20.] HOIV TO THINK OF PAUL AT ROME. 47 



out to be for the furtherance of the gospel. This was 
taking place in two ways at least. 

First, Paul's imprisonment had become the means 
of bringing to the knowledge of the gospel many who 
were not likely ever to hear of it in any other way ; 
for his bonds had become manifest in Christ in the 
Praetorium, and in all other places. The precise mean- 
ing of the several words here used has become matter 
of discussion ; but the general result is much the same 
whatever view is taken of the matters debated. The 
word translated "palace" in the Authorised Version 
(Marg. Caesar's Court) may perhaps refer to the quarters 
of the guard, in the immediate neighbourhood of the 
palace. Prisoners whose cases were in a special 
manner reserved to the Emperor were sometimes 
confined there. And Paul, whether actually confined 
there or not, must have come into contact with the troops 
stationed there, for we know he had been delivered to 
the captain of the guard (Acts xxviii. 16*). Then the 
"all others" (Marg. of A.V.) may probably mean the 
rest of the Emperor's household (comp. ch. iv. 22), and 
would naturally be connected with it in the minds of 
men, so that a mere indication like this was enough. 
For, in a military system such as that of the Empire 
was, the soldiers and officers of the guard formed an 
important part of the household. That household, 
however, was an immense affair, including hundreds or 

* This, however, is omitted in critical editions. 



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48 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 

even thousands of persons — mostly freedmen or slaves, 
performing all sorts of functions. 

Paul, then, in charge of the guard, coming in contact 
with individuals belonging to the various reliefs which 
successively had him in custody, spoken of as one re- 
served to the judgment of the Emperor himself, became 
known throughout the quarters of the guard, and to 
persons of the household of every rank and class. In 
point of fact we know and can prove from evidence 
external to the Bible that a few years later than this 
(perhaps even earlier than this) there were members of 
the household who were Christians. Before the end of 
the century a branch of the family which then occupied 
the imperial throne seems to have joined the Church, 
perhaps through the influence of a Christian nurse, 
who is commemorated in an inscription still preserved. 

But how did his bonds " become manifest in Christ " ? 
The words no doubt mean that he became known ex- 
tensively as a man whose bonds, whose imprisonment, 
was for his adherence to the name and doctrine of Jesus 
Christ. Let us consider how this would come about. 

There might, at first, be universal indifference with 
reference to the cause of this prisoner's confinement. 
When his character and statements led to some 
curiosity about him, men might find it difficult to 
understand what the real nature of this mysterious 
case could be. For while the charge, whatever form it 
took, was not yet a common one, we may be very sure 
that the man struck people as profoundly different from 



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i. 12-20.] HOH^ TO THINK OF PAUL AT ROME. 49 



ordinary prisoners. For ordinary prisoners the one thing 
desirable was release ; and they employed every artifice, 
and exhausted every form of influence and intrigue, and 
were prepared to sacrifice every scruple, if only they 
could get free. Here was a man who pleaded for truth ; 
his own freedom seemed to be quite secondary and 
subordinate. So at last men come to an understanding, 
more or less, of the real cause of his bonds. They were 
bonds for Christ. They were the result of his ad- 
herence to the faith of Christ's resurrection, and to the 
truths which that great event sealed. They were con- 
nected with a testifying for Christ which had brought 
him into collision with the authorities of his own nation, 
which had set on Jews " everywhere " to '* speak 
against" him (Acts xxviii. 22). And in his imprisonment 
he did not lay down his testimony, but preached with 
all his heart to every man who would hear him. This 
state of things dawned upon men's minds, so far as they 
thought about him at all; it, became clear; it was 
" manifest in the Praetorium, and to all the others." 

One influence was at work which would at least 
direct attention to the case. There were certainly Jews 
in the household ; there were also Jews in Rome who 
made it their business, for their worldly interest, to 
establish connections in the household ; and about this 
time Jewish influence rose to the person nearest to 
Nero himself. There was therefore a class of persons 
in the household likely to feel an interest in the case. 
And on these most likely the influence of Jewish 

4 



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50 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 



religious authorities would be exerted to produce an 
unfavourable opinion of Paul. It would be felt desir- 
able that the Jews of the household should think of 
Paul as no loyal Jew, as a seditious person, and of his 
opinions as not legitimately pertaining to Jewish religion 
— as a religious belief and practice which Judaism re- 
pudiated and denounced. Thus, while Paul's case might 
begin to influence the guard, because members of it 
were personally in contact with him, in the rest of the 
household there was a class of persons who would feel 
an interest in discussing his case. One way or another, 
some impression as to the peculiar character of it was 
acquired. 

Now think how much was done when some view of 
^the real nature of Paul's bonds had been lodged in the 
fninds of these men. Think what an event that was in 
the mental history of some of these heathens of the old 
world. Paul was, in the first place, a man very unlike 
the ordinary type of movers of sedition. It seemed 
that his offence stood only in religious opinions or per- 
suasions ; and that itself, precisely in Nero's days, was 
a little singular to figure as the ground of political im- 
prisonment. He was persecuted and endangered for 
his faith, and he neither denied nor disguised that 
faith, but spent all possible pains in proclaiming it. 
This was new. He had a faith, resting professedly on 
recent facts, which he proclaimed as indispensably 
necessary to be received by all men. This was new. 
He seriously told men, any man and every man, that 



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i. 12-20.] HOIV TO THINK OF PAUL AT ROME. 51 

their welfare must be attained through their being 
individually transformed to a type of character of the 
unworldliest type ; he could press that alike on sordid 
Jews and gay young officers. This was new. He 
was a man who, in place of the ordinary anxieties and 
importunities of a prisoner, was ever ready to speak and 
plead in behalf of Christ, that singular young Jew who 
had died thirty years before, but whom Paul affirmed to 
be alive. And in all this, however it might strike one as- 
foolish or odd, there were tokens of an honesty, a sanity, 
and a purity that could not be explained away. All 
this struck men who stood near the centre of a world 
falling many ways into moral ruin, as something strange 
and new. Paul's own explanation of it was in the one 
word " Christ" So his bonds were manifest in Christ 

A few of them might have heard previously of 
Christianity as a new and a malignant superstition. 
But another conception of it reached them through the 
bonds of Paul. This imprisoned man was a fact to be 
accounted for, and a problem to be solved. In him 
was an influence not wholly to be escaped, an instance 
that needed a new interpretation. Many of them did 
not obey the truth, some did ; but at least something 
had become manifest that could not easily be got rid 
of again, — the beginning, in their case, of that leaven 
which was eventually to revolutionise the thinking and 
feeling of the world. Remember also that most of these 
were men to whom Paul at liberty, speaking in syna- 
gogues and the like, would have found no access, nor 



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52 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



would he have come near the circles to which their in- 
fluence extended. But now, being imprisoned, his bonds 
became manifest in Christ. 

Thus does it often come to pass that what seems 
adverse, proves to be on our side. Fruit is not always 
borne most freely when the visible opportunities of 
labouring are most plentiful. Rather the question is, 
how the opportunities given are employed, and how far 
the life of the labourer bears witness of the presence 
and power of Christ. 

But besides the direct impression on those who were 
outside, arising from the fact of Paul's imprisonment, it 
became the means of stimulating and reinforcing the 
labours of other Christians (ver. 14). It is not hard to 
see how this might be. From Paul's bonds, and from 
the manner and spirit in which they were borne, these 
brethren received a new impression as to what should 
be done and what should be borne in the service of 
Christ. They were infected with the contagion of Paul's 
heroism. The sources of Paul's consecration and of his 
comfort became more real to them ; and no discourage- 
ment arising from pain or danger could hold its ground 
against these forces. So they waxed confident. While 
dangers that threaten Christians are still only impend- 
ing, are still only looming out of the unknown future, 
men are apt to tremble at them, to look with a shrink* 
ing eye, to approach with a reluctant step. Now here 
in the midst of those Roman Christians was Paul, in 
whom were embodied the trouble accepted and the 



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i. I2-20.] HOW TO THINK OF PAUL AT ROME, 53 



danger defied. At once Christian hearts became in- 
spired with a more magnanimous and generous spirit. 
Wherever dangers and hardships are endured, even 
apart from Christianity, we know how prompt the 
impulse is to rush in, to give help, and to share bur- 
dens. How much more might it be so here. 

Not that the impulse to evangelistic earnestness, 
arising from Paul's presence in Rome, was all of this 
kind. It was not so. Some preached out of goodwill, 
in full sympathy with the spirit that animated PauFs 
own labours and sustained him in his trials. But some 
preached Christ out of envy and spite, and supposed to 
add affliction to his bonds. How are we to fit this into 
our notions of the Primitive Church ? 

The truth is that, ever since the gospel began to 
be preached, unworthy motives have combined with 
worthier in the administration and professed service 
of it. Mixture of motive has haunted the work even 
of those who strove to keep their motives pure. And 
men in whom lower motive and worse motiv<e had 
a strong influence have struck into the work along- 
side of the nobler and purer labourers. So it has 
pleased God to permit; that even in this sacred 
field men might be tried and manifested before the 
judgment of the great day ; and that it might be the 
more plain that the effectual blessing and the true 
increase come from Himself. 

More especially have thes^ influences become ap- 



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54 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 



parent in connection with the divisions of judgment 
about Christian doctrine and practice, and with the for- 
mation of parties. The personal and the party feelings 
have readily allied themselves, in too many men, with a 
self-regarding zeal and with envy or spite. And where 
these feelings exist they come out in other forms be- 
sides their own proper colours and their direct mani- 
festation. More often they find vent in the way of 
becoming the motive power of work that claims to be 
Christian — of work that ought to be inspired by a 
purer aim. 

There were, as we all know, in the Church of those 
days powerful sections of professed believers, who con- 
tested PauPs apostleship, questioned his teaching, and 
wholly disliked the effects of his work. Perhaps by 
this time the strain of that conflict had become a little 
less severe, but it had not wholly passed away. We 
call these persons the Judaisers. They were men 
who looked to Jesus Christ as the Messiah, who owned 
the authority of His teaching, and claimed interest in 
His promises. But they insisted on linking Chris- 
tianity to Jewish forms, and rules, and conditions of 
law-keeping, which were on various grounds dear and 
sacred to them. They apprehended feebly the spiri- 
tuality and Divineness of Christ's religion ; and what 
they did apprehend they wished to enslave, for them- 
selves and others, in a carnal system of rules and 
ritual that tended to stifle and to bury the truth. With 
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i. i2-2a] HOIV TO THINK OF PAUL AT ROME, 55 



and antipathy. Such men there were in Rome. Pos- 
sibly there might even be a Christian congregation 
in the city in which this type prevailed. At any rate, 
they were found there. Before Paul's coming no very 
remarkable nor very successful efforts to spread abroad 
the gospel in that great community had been going on. 
But Paul's arrival made men solicitous and watchful. 
And when it was seen that his presence and the en- 
thusiasm that gathered round him were beginning to 
give impulse and effect to the speaking of the word, 
then this party too bestirred itself. It would not — 
could not — oppose the carrying of the message of 
Christ to men. But it could try to be first in the field ; 
it could become active, energetic, dexterous, in laying 
hold of inquiring and susceptible persons, before the 
other side could do so ; it could subject Paul to the 
mortification, the deserved mortification ^ of failure or 
defeat, so far as these would be implied in his seeing 
the converts going to the side which was not his side. 
Evangelistic zeal awoke on these terms, and bestirred 
itself. And sheaves that in other circumstances might 
have lain untended long enough, were gathered now. 

This very same spirit, this poor and questionable 
zeal for Christ, still works, and does so plentifully. 
The activities of Churches, the alertness of Mission 
societies and agencies, still partake, in far too many 
instances, of this sinister inspiration. We ought to 
watch against it in ourselves, that we may overcome 
the evil and grow into a nobler temper. As regards 



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56 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHTUPPIANS, 



Others, we may, in special cases, see the working of 
such motives clearly enough, as Paul saw them at 
Rome. But usually we shall do well, when we can, 
to impute the work of others to the better side of their 
character : and we may do so reasonably ; for as 
Christian work is far from being all of it so pure and 
high as we might desire, on the other hand, the lowly 
and loving temper of Christ's true followers is very 
often present and operative when it is not easy for us 
to see it. Let us believe it, because we believe in Him 
who worketh all in all. 

Now the Apostle, looking at this, is glad of it. He 
is not glad that any men, professing Christ, give way 
to evil and unchristian tempers. But he is glad that 
Christ is preached. There were cases in which he 
vehemently contended with such persons — when they 
strove to poison and pervert Christians who had learned 
the better way. But now he is thinking of the outside 
world ; and it was good that the making known of 
Christ should gather strength, and volume, and ex- 
tension. And the Apostle knew that the Lord could 
bless His own message, imperfectly delivered perhaps, 
to bring thirsty souls to Himself, and would not fail in 
His unsearchable wisdom to care for those who came, 
and to lead them in the ways He thought best. Let 
Christ be preached. The converts do not belong to 
the denominations, but first of all to Christ. Neither 
is it appointed that the denominations shall permanently 
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i. 12-20.] HOIV TO THINK OF PAUL AT ROME, 57 

them, and can order their future in ways we cannot 
foretell. 

It is not true that the preaching of Christ serves no 
purpose and yields no fruit, in cases where it is not 
carried on in the right, or the best spirit. Indeed, God 
honours the pure, loving, lowly hearts, which He has 
Himself cleansed ; they are appropriate agents for His 
work, and often receive a special blessing in connection 
with it. But God is not tied up to give no success to 
men acting under wrong motives : at least, if we are not 
to say He gives the success to them, yet in connection 
with them He is well able to take success to Himself. 
Through strange channels He can send blessings to 
souls, whatever He gives or denies to the unworthy 
workmen. But perhaps the success which attends such 
preachers is not remarkable nor very long continued. 
Souls truly gathered in will soon get beyond their 
teaching. At any rate, it is a poor business to be 
serving Christ upon the devil's principles. It cannot 
be good for us— whatever good may sometimes come 
thereby to others. Let us purge ourselves from such 
filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit. 

''Christ is preached." How glad the Apostle was 
to think of it ! How he longed to see more of it, and 
rejoiced in all of it that he saw ! One wonders how 
far the thoughts and feelings associated with these 
words in Paul's mind, find any echo in ours. Christ is 
preached. The meaning for men of that message, as 
Paul conceived it, grew out of the anguish and the 



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58 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



wonder of those early days at Damascus, and had been 
growing ever since. What might Christ be for men ? — 
Christ their righteousness, Christ their life, Christ their 
hope ; God in Christ, peace in Christ, inheritance in 
Christ ; a new creature, a new world ; joy, victory — 
above all, the love of Christ, the love which passes 
knowledge and fills us with the fulness of God. There- 
fore also this was the burning conviction in Paul's 
soul — that Christ must be preached ; by all means, on 
all accounts, Christ must be preached. The unsearch- 
able riches of Christ must be proclaimed. Certainly, 
whoever might do or not do, he must do it. He 
was to live for nothing else. " I Paul am made a 
minister of it.** " Woe is unto me if I preach not the 
gospel." 

Lastly, as to this, not only does he rejoice that Christ 
is announced to men, but he has an assurance that this 
shall have a happy issue and influence towards himself 
also. What is so good for others shall also be found to 
contribute an added element of good to his own salva- 
tion ; so good and rich is God, who, in working wide 
results of Divine beneficence, does not overlook the 
special case and interest of His own servant This 
work, from which the workmen would shut Paul out, 
shall prove to pertain to him in spite of them; and he, 
as reaper, shall receive here also his wages, gathering 
fruit unto life eternal. 

For it is characteristic of this Epistle (ii. 17; iv. lO, 
18) that the Apostle reveals to his Philippian friends 



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i. 12-20.] HOIV TO THINK OF PAUL AT ROME, 59 

not only his thoughts concerning the great objects of 
the gospel, but also the desires and hopes he had about 
his own experience of deliverance and well-being in 
connection with the turns and changes of progressive 
providences. Here, it is as if he said : " I confess I am 
covetous, not a little covetous, to have many children 
in Christ : I would fain be a link in many a chain of 
influences, by which all sorts of persons are reached 
and blessed in Christ. And here where I sit confined, 
and am also the object of envy and strife that are 
solicitous to baffle me, I can descry ties forming 
between my influence in my prison and results else- 
where with which I seem to have little to do. I can 
claim a something of mine, granted me by my Lord, in 
the Christianity of those who are kept far from me, and 
taught perhaps to doubt and dislike me. If I in my 
prison experience can but live Christ, then all sorts of 
effects and reactions, upon all sorts of minds, will have 
something in them that accrues as fruit to Christ — and 
something also that accrues as my Lord's loving 
recognition of me. Only do you pray — for this is a 
great and high calling — pray, you who love me, and 
let the Lord in answer plentifully give His Spirit; and 
then, while I lie here in the imprisonment which my 
Lord has assigned to me, and in which He vitalises me, 
oh how fruitful and successful shall my life be, what 
gain and wealth of salvation shall be mine! There 
shall be fruit for an Apostle still, coming in ways I 
cannot follow ; and in it, and with it, the confirmation 



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6o THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 

and deepening of my own eternal life. It shall turn 
to my salvation." 

So the eager Apostle, caged and cabined, triumphed 
still in Christ, assured that there was a way of dealing 
with his Lord's will, discouraging as that might seem, 
in which it would reveal both enlargement for the 
Kingdom and the most loving enrichment also for 
himself. 

This is a commonplace of Christianity. Christians 
trust in Christ to cause all to work for good. They know 
He can impart His most precious gifts through what seem 
adverse providences. But it is a memorable embodi- 
ment of this conviction that meets us in the Apostle's 
confidence, that when Christ's providence outwardly 
stops his work, it not the less pertains to Christ's 
wisdom to continue and extend his usefulness. The 
applications of the same principle to various cases in 
which Christians are trained through disappointment 
are innumerable. But mostly, even when, in a way, 
we are open to the lesson, we take it too easily. We 
forget that here also it is Christlike life and life in 
Christ that proves so fruitful and so happy. We do 
not apprehend how great a thing it is — what prayer it 
asks — what supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. For 
the Apostle, as we learn from what presently follows, 
this blessing came in the line of ^' earnest expectation 
and hope." It was not an exceptional effort of faith 
which awoke in him so firm a confidence about his cir- 
cumstances at Rome, and was rewarded so manifestly. 



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i. 12-20.] HOIV TO THINK OF PAUL AT ROME, 6i 

His whole life was set on the same key. He applied to 
that Roman experience the same mode of view which 
he strove to apply to every experience. This was his 
expectation — he was on the outlook for it — and this his 
hope, that not only in one great crisis, but all along his 
pilgrimage, his life should eventuate one way — should 
shape into glory to Christ His whole life must turn 
out to be a loving, believing, effectual manifestation of 
the greatness and goodness of Christ This was what 
rose before his mind as Success in Life. His thoughts, 
his prayers turned this way. As some men's minds 
turn spontaneously to money, and some to family pros- 
perity, and some to fame, and some to various lines of 
recreation or of accomplishment, so Paul's turned to 
this. And in this world of failure and disappointment, 
success welcomed him and gladdened him. His would 
have been the nobler life even if its expectation had 
been dis^pointed. But this is the life which cannot 
fail, because God is in it. 

There is a great admonition here for all of us who 
profess to be followers of Christ. Our line of service 
may not be so emphatically marked out for distinction, 
for special and exceptional eminence of doing and 
suffering, as PauFs was. But for every believer the 
path of service opens, however commonplace and 
undistinguished its scenery may be. And in some of 
its stages it takes, for all of us, the peculiar character, 
it assumes the distinguishing features which mark it 
out as Christian. Here, in Paul, we see the spirit that 



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62 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 



should inspire service, should make the strength, the 
peculiarity, the success of it, should be the quickening 
and gladdening influence of its efforts and its prayers. 
This ought to be for us also the longing outlook and 
the hope. 

Let us note also, before we pass on, that the Lord's 
personal kindness to ourselves is matter of legitimate 
rejoicing and legitimate desire. That may be gathered 
from almost every verse. There have been persons who 
conceived that a true Christian is to be so occupied 
with the thought of God's glory and will, or so occupied 
with the weal of others, as to have no personal desires 
or interests at all. This is a mistake. One of the most 
intimate and special channels in which the glory of God 
and the revelation of it are secured, is in the expression 
of His goodwill to His child's own heart. This is the 
privilege of faith, to cherish the expectation that His 
glory and our good are to agree well together. Only, 
as to the latter, let us leave it to Him how it is to come 
to pass; and then it will come divinely and wonderfully. 
" The Lord is my shepherd, / shall not want." 



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THE CHOICE BETWEEN UVING AND DYING, 



63 



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" For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if to live in 
the flesh; — ^if this is the fruit of my work, then what I shall choose I 
wot not But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to 
depart and be with Christ ; for it is very far better : yet to abide in 
the flesh is more needful for your sake. And having this confidence, I 
know that I shall abide, yea, and abide with you all, for your progress 
and joy in the faith ; that your glorying may abound in Christ Jesus 
in me through my presence with you again. ** — Phiu i. 21-26 (R.V.). 



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CHAPTER IV. 

THE CHOICE BETWEEN LIVING AND DYING. 

AT the close of the preceding section we see that the 
ruling principle of the Apostle — the earnest ex- 
pectation and hope which inspired his life — came into 
special exercise at this time with reference to the pos- 
sibility, and the likelihood, of an early and violent death. 
Dying for the name of the Lord Jesus, as well as 
enduring imprisonment for Him, might be near. He 
might not only be straitened in his labours, and secluded 
from the activities connected with his loved work on 
earth, but might be completely and finally withdrawn 
from it by Roman doom and execution. The Apostle's 
faith looked steadily at this final possibility. As at all 
times, so now also, Christ should be magnified in him, 
whether by life or by death. 

Now, when some great alternative of the future rises 
before a Christian, — some possibility which God's pro- 
vidence may turn either way, — it is natural that he 
should look heedfully to it, that he may order aright 
his faith and patience as the day of decision draws 
near. And it is natural in particular that his thoughts 

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66 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 

should be occupied by the consideration how far the 
one way of it is in itself more attractive to him than 
the other. For in view of that he has to watch his 
heart, that as to what seems more attractive he may 
not desire it idolatrously, nor let his heart be " over- 
charged " with it if it is realised ; and that as to what 
seems less attractive he may await God's will with 
submission and faith, and welcome it, if so it come 
to pass, with sincerity. So also the Apostle fixes his 
eye, ponderingly, on this alternative of life or death, 
so strongly suggested by his circumstances. But, as it 
were, with a smile he recognises that to a man standing, 
as he did, in the light of Christ, it was hard to say 
which should attract him most. Life and Death — what 
had they once been to him ? what were they still to 
many ? To live, self — self pleased, provided for, con- 
tended for, perhaps fighting for itself a losing battle 
with a bitter heart ; to die, a dark, dire necessity, full 
of fear and doubt. But now, to live is Christ. In all 
life as it came to him, in all its various providences, he 
found Christ ; in all life, as it fell to him to be lived, 
he found the circumstances set for him and the oppor- 
tunity given to follow Christ ; in all the attraction and 
all the pressure, the force and strain of life, he found 
the privilege of receiving Christ and employing Christ's 
grace, the opportunity for living by the faith of the Son 
of God. That was all very real to him : it was not 
only a fine ideal, owned indeed but only distantly and 
dimly descried ; no, it was a reality daily fulfilled to 



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i. 21-26.] THE CHOICE BETWEEN LIVING AND DYING. 67 

him. To live was Christ, with a support, an elevation, 
and a love in it such as the world knows not. That 
was good, oh how good ! And then to die was better : 
to die was gain. For to die, also,' was "Christ" ; but 
with many a hindrance passed away, and many a conflict 
ended, and many a promise coming into fulfilment as 
here it could not do. For if, as to his own interest and 
portion, he lived by hope, then death was a long step 
forward into possession and realisation. By grace 
Paul was to show how he valued Christ ; he was to 
show it in his life. And Christ was to show His care 
for Paul — in this life, no doubt, very lovingly; but more 
largely and fully at his death. To live is Christ — to 
die is gain ; to be all for Christ while I live, to find at 
length He is all for me when I die ! 

Which should he prefer, which should he pray for 
(subject to God's will), which should he hope for, life 
or death ? The one would continue him in a labour 
for Christ, which Christ taught him to love. The 
other would bring him to a sinless and blessed fellow- 
ship with Christ, which Christ taught him to long for. 
Looking to the two, how should he order his desires ? 

It is because he speaks as one always does speak 
who is pondering something— the words rising, as it 
were, from what he sees before him — that he speaks so 
elliptically in ver. 22. ''But if to live in the flesh 
come to me, as its fruit and reward bringing . . .'^ 
What ? The Apostle sees, but does not say ; something 
that might well reconcile him to prolonged toil and 



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68 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHHJPPIANS. 



suffering. But why produce the considerations on 
either side, why balance them against one another? 
It is too long, too difficult a process. And how can 
even an apostle confidently judge as to better or best 
here? *'And what I shall choose, really I do not 
know." But this he knows, that so far as his own 
desire's are concerned, so far as the possible futures 
draw his spirit, he is in a strait between two, having a 
desire to depart and to be with Christ, for that is far 
better ; and yet that he should continue in the flesh is 
of more imperative necessity for the sake of friends like 
the Philippians. 

Not every Christian is in the state of mind which 
would naturally express itself as a desire forthwith to 
depart and be with Christ. The great hope claims its 
place in every Christian heart ; but not in every case 
so as to inspire the longing to overleap all intermediate 
stages. Rather must we not say that there are periods 
of Christian experience, as there are also casts of char- 
acter, for which it is more usual and natural to desire, 
if it be God's will, some further experience of life on 
earth ? If this be immature Christianity, we will not, 
therefore, judge that it cannot be genuine. 

Yet to be ready, and, subject to God's will, desirous 
to depart, is an attainment to be aimed at and made 
good. Sooner or later it should come. It lies in the 
line of ripening Christian affection and growing Christian 
insight. For this is better. It is not that life in 
this world is not good : it is good, when it is life \x\ 



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■i. 21-26.] THE CHOICE BETWEEN LIVING AND DYING. 69 

Christ. It has its trials, its conflicts, and its dangers ; 
it has also its elements of defect and evil : yet it is 
good. It is good to be a child of God in training for 
a better country ; it is good to be one who carries 
the life of faith through the experiences of time. And, 
for some especially, there is a strong and not an un- 
worthy attraction in the forms of exercise which open 
to us just in such a life as this, under the guarantee 
and the consecration of Christ. Knowledge opens its 
career, in which many a generous mind is drawn to 
prove its powers. Love, in all the variety of its-calmer 
and its more ardent affections, sends a glow through life 
which gladdens it with promise. The tasks which call 
for practical effort and achievement stir vigorous natures 
with a high ambition. And when all these spheres 
are illuminated by the light, and dominated by the 
authority, and quickened for us by the love of Christ, 
is not life on those terms interesting and good ? True, 
it is destined to disclose its imperfection. Our know- 
ledge proves to be so partial ; our love is so sorely 
grieved, so often bereaved, sometimes it is even killed ; 
and active life must learn that what is crooked cannot 
wholly be made straight, and that what is wanting 
cannot be numbered. So that life itself shall teach a 
Christian that his longings must seek their rest further 
on. Yet life in Christ here upon the earth is good : 
let us say no unkind word of those who feel it so, — 
whose hearts, with true loyalty to Christ, would yet if 
it be His will put life fully to the proof before they 



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70 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHlLlPPIANS. 



go. Still, this must be said and pressed — let it be 
joyfully believed — that to depart is better. It is far 
better. It is better to be done with sin. It is better 
to be where all hopes are fulfilled. It is better to rise 
above a scene in which all is precarious, and in which 
a strange sadness thrills through our happiness even 
when we possess it. To be where Christ most fully, 
eminently, experimentally is, that is best. Therefore it is 
better to depart. Let mortality be swallowed up of life. 

It is not only better, so that we may own it so to be 
as a certainty of faith ; but also so that we may and 
ought to feel it warming and drawing the heart with 
delight and with desire. It is not needful that we 
should judge more hardly of life on earth ; but we might 
attain a far more gladdening appreciation of what it 
must be to be with Christ. With no rebellion against 
God's appointment when it keeps us here, and no 
grudging spirit towards earth's mercies and employ- 
ments, we might yet have this thought of departing in 
God's time as a real and bright hope ; a great element 
of comfort and of strength ; a support in trouble ; an 
elevating influence in times of gladness ; an anchor 
of the soul, sure and steadfast, entering into that which 
is within the veil. 

The hope of the gospel implies it. If that hope is 
ours and is duly cherished, must it not assert itself and 
sway the heart, so as more and more to command the 
life? 

The earnest of the Spirit implies it. Of the very 



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i. 21-26.] THE CHOICE BETWEEN UVING AND DYING, 71 



substance of the life eternal a foretaste comes, in the 
presence and grace of the Spirit of love and comfort. 
Can that be with us, can that leaven work duly in our 
hearts, and not awaken longing for the full entrance into 
so great a good ? It may be expected of us Christians 
that we should Hft up our heads because redemption is 
drawing nigh. 

As for the Apostle, however, if the choice were his, 
he felt that it must fall in favour of still cleaving to the 
present life ; for this, though less attractive to himself, 
was more necessary for the Churches, and, in particular, 
for his friends at Philippi. This was so clear to him 
that he was persuaded his life would, in fact, be pro^ 
longed by Him who appoints to all their term of 
ministry. Probably we are not to take this as a pro- 
phecy, but only as the expression of a strong persuasion. 
Work still lay before him in the line of training and 
cheering these believing friends, furthering and gladden- 
ing their faith. He hoped to see them yet, and to 
renew the old glad ''fellowship" (ch. i. 5). So there 
should be for the Philippians fresh matter of exultation, 
— exultation primarily in the great salvation of Christ, 
but yet receiving impulse and increase from the 
presence and ministry of Paul. Mainly, they would 
be exceeding glad of Christ ; but yet, subordinately, 
exceeding glad of Paul also. 

It is a striking thing to see how confident the 
Apostle was of the resources given to him to wield. He 
knew how profitable and how gladdening his coming 



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72 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 

would be to the Philippian believers. He admits no 
doubt of it. God has set him in the world for this, 
that he may make many rich. Having nothing, he yet 
goes about, as one possessing all things, to impart his 
treasures to all kinds of people. To disguise this would 
be for him mock humility; it would be a denying of 
his Master's grace. When ministers of Christ come 
aright to this impression of their own calling, then they 
are also powerful. But they must come to it aright. 
For it was not the Apostle's consciousness of himself, 
but his consciousness of his Master, that bred this 
superb confidence, this unabated expectation. In sub- 
ordination to that faith the Apostle no doubt had 
specific reason to know that his own personal mission 
was of the highest importance, and was designed to 
accomplish great results. Ordinary ministers of Christ 
do not share this peculiar ground of confidence. But 
no one who has any kind of mission from Christ can 
discharge it aright if he is destitute of the expectancy 
which looks forward to results, and, indeed, to momen- 
tous results ; for the reapers in Christ's harvest are to 
** gather fruit unto life eternal." To cherish this mood, 
not in the manner of a vain presumption, but in the 
manner of faith in a great Saviour, is the practical 
question for gospel ministers. 

Alike in the utterance of his mind about his 
Philippian friends, and in his explanations about him- 
self, it is remarkable how thoroughly the Apostle 
carries his faith through the whole detail of persons 



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i. 21-26.] THE CHOICE BETWEEN LIVING AND DYING. 73 



and things. The elements and forces of the Kingdom 
of God are not for him remote splendours to be 
venerated from afar. To his faith they are embodied, 
they are vitally and divinely present, in. the history of 
the Churches and in his own history. He sees Christ 
working in the Philippian . believers ; he sees in their 
Christian profession and service a fire of love caught 
from the love of Christ — the increase and triumph of 
which he anticipates with aflFectionate solicitude. The 
tender mercies of Christ are the element in which he 
and they are alike moving, and this blessedness it is 
their privilege assiduously to improve. So he was 
minded in regard to all the Churches. If in any of 
them the indications are feeble and dubious, only so 
much the more intently does he scrutinise them, to 
recognise, in spite of difficulty, that which comes and 
only could come from his Master's Spirit. If indications 
too significant of a wholly different influence have 
broken out, and demand the severest rebukes, he still 
casts about for tokens of the better kind. For surely 
Christ's Spirit is in His Churches, and surely the seed 
is growing in Christ's field towards a blessed harvest. 
If men have to be warned that naming the name of 
Christ they may be reprobates, that without the Spirit 
of Christ they are none of His, this comes as some- 
thing sad and startling to be spoken to men in Christian 
Churches. So also in his own case — Christ is speaking 
and working by him, and all providences that befall him 
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74 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHJLIPPIANS. 

of Christ. In nothing is the Apostle more enviable 
than in this victoriousness of his faith over the earthly 
shows of things, and over the unlikelihoods which in this 
refractory world always mask and misrepresent the 
good work. We, for our part, find our faith continually 
abashed by those same unlikelihoods. We recognise 
the course of this world, which speaks for itself ; but we 
are uncertain and discouraged as to what the Saviour is 
doing. The mere commonplaceness of Christians, and 
of visible Christianity, and of ourselves, is allowed to 
baffle us. Nothing in the life of the Church, we are 
ready to say, is very interesting, very vivid, very 
hopeful. The great fire burning in the world ever since 
Pentecost is for us scarcely recognisable. We even 
take credit for being so hard to please. But if the 
quick faith and love of Paul the prisoner were ours, we 
should be sensitive to echoes and pulsations and move- 
ments everywhere, — we should be aware that the voice 
and the power of Christ are everywhere stirring in His 
Churches. 



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UNDAUNTED AND UNITED STEADFASTNESS. 



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**Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, 
that, whether I come and see you or be absent, 1 may hear of your 
state, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one soul striving for the 
faith of the gospel ; and in nothing aflVightcd by the adversaries : 
which is for them an evident token of perdition, but of your salvation, 
and that from God ; because to you it hath been granted in the behalf 
of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer in His behalf: 
having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in 
me.""PHiL.i. 27-30 (R.V.). 



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CHAPTER V. 
UNDAUNTED AND UNITED STEADFASTNESS. 

AT.ver. 27 the letter begins to be hortative. Up to 
this point the Apostle has been taking the 
Philippians into his confidence, in order that they may 
share his point of view and see things as He sees 
them. Now he begins more directly to call them to the 
attitude and work which become them as Christians ; 
but up to ver. 30 the sense of the dear tie between him 
and them is still very present, colouring and controlling 
his exhortations. 

"Be assured," he has been saying, "that by the 
grace of God, abounding amid trials, it is well with 
me ; .and I have very good hope of yet again enjoying 
this honour, that through my means it may be well with 
you : — only fix you on this, let this be your concern, to 
walk as it becomes the gospel : this is the ground on 
which you must win your victory ; this is the line on 
which alone you can make any effectual contribution to 
our common welfare, and that of all the Churches." So 
the Apostle urges. For, let us be assured of it, while 
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78 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



lines we can do some stroke of service to the good 
cause, or to some special representative of it, after all 
the greatest and weightiest thing by far that we can 
do is to be thoroughly consistent and devoted in our 
own Christian walk, living lives answerable to the 
gospel. 

The original suggests that the Apostle thinks of the 
Philippians as citizens of a state, who are to carry on 
their life according to the constitution and laws of the 
state to which they belong. That citizenship of theirs, 
as we shall afterwards see, is in heaven (ch. iii. 20), 
where Christ their head is gone. The privilege of 
belonging to it had reached them through the call of 
God. And it was their business on the earth to act out 
the citizenship, to prove the reality of it in their con- 
duct, and to manifest to the world what sort of citizen- x 
ship it is. Now the standard according to which this 
is to be done is the gospel of Christ — the gospel, not 
only as it contains a code of rules for practice, but as it 
reveals the Saviour to whom we are to be conformed, 
and discloses a Divine order of holiness and grace to 
the influence of which our souls are to bow. And 
indeed, if our thinking, and speaking, and acting held 
some proportion to the gospel we profess to believe ; 
if they corresponded to the purity, the tenderness, the 
Divine worth of the gospel ; if from step to step of life 
we were indeed building ourselves on our most holy 
faith, what manner of persons should we be ? This 
opens more fully in the next chapter. 



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i. 27-30.] UNDAUNTED AND UNITED STEADFASTNESS. 79 



But we are tried by circumstances; and the same 
Christianity will take different manifestations according 
to the circumstances in which it is unfolded. For every 
Christian and for every Christian community much de- 
pends on the shaping influence of the providences of life. 
The Apostle, therefore, must have regard to the circum- 
stances of the Philippians. We are all ready, commonly, 
to exert ourselves, as we say, to ''improve our circum- 
stances"; and, in one view, it is natural and fitting 
enough. Yet it is of more importance — much more — 
that in the circumstances as they stand we should bear 
ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel. Some of 
us are ready to stir heaven and earth in order that 
certain unwelcome conditions of our lot may be altered 
or abolished. It would be more to the point to walk 
with God under them as long as they last. When they 
have passed away, the opportunity for faith, love, and 
service which they have furnished will have passed 
away for ever. 

The Apostle, therefore, specifies what he wished to 
see or hear of in the Philippian Church, as proper to 
the circumstances in which they stood. He calls for 
steadfastness as against influences that might shake 
and overthrow, put in motion against them by the 
enemies of the gospel. 

The words suggest the strain of the situation as it 
was felt in those small early Churches. It is difficult 
for us adequately to conceive it. There was the un- 
friendly aspect both of Roman law and of public opinion 



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8o THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 



to unauthorised religious fraternities; there was the 
hostility of ardent Jews, skilful to stir into activity 
enmities which otherwise might have slumbered ; 
there was the jealousy of religious adventurers of all 
kinds with whom that age was becoming rife. But 
besides, there was the immense pressure of general 
unbelief. Christianity had to be embraced and main- 
tained against the judgment and under the cool 
contempt of the immense majority, including the wealth, 
the influence, the wisdom, the culture — all that was 
brilliant, imposing, and conclusive. This temper was 
disdainful for the most part : it became bitter and 
spiteful if in any instance Christianity came near 
enough to threaten its repose. It found, no doubt, 
active interpreters and representatives in every class, 
in every family circle. Christianity was carried forward 
in those days by a great spiritual power working with 
the message. It needed nothing less than this to sustain 
the Christian against the deadweight of the world's 
adverse verdict, echoing back from every tribunal by 
which the world gives forth its judgments. Then, 
every feeling of doubt, or tendency to vacillate, created 
by these influences, was reinforced by the consciousness 
of faults and failings among the Christians themselves. 
Against all this faith held its ground, faith clinging 
to the unseen Lord. In that faith the Philippians were 
to stand fast. Not only so ; looking on " the faith " as 
if it were a spiritual personality, striving and striven 
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i. 27.30.] UNDAUNTED AND UNITED STEADFASTNESS, 81 



into the struggle, that the cause of faith might make 
head and win fresh victories. The faith is knocking 
at many doors, is soliciting many minds. But much 
depends on ardent and energetic Christians, who will 
throw their personal testimony into the conflict, and 
who will exert on behalf of the good cause the magic of 
Christian sympathy and Christian love. So they should 
be fellow-athletes contending on the side of faith, and 
in the cause of faith. 

In our own day a livelier sense has awakened of the 
obligation lying upon Christians to spend and be spent 
in their Master's cause, and to be fellow-helpers to the 
truth. Many voices are raised to enforce the duty. 
Still, it cannot be doubted that in most cases this aspect 
of the Christian calling is too languidly conceived and 
too intermittently put in practice. And many in all the 
Churches are so little qualified to labour for the faith, or 
even stand fast in it, that their Christianity is only held up 
externally by the consent and custom of thoseabout them. 

At this point and in this connection the Apostle 
begins to bring forward the exhortation to peace and 
unity which goes forward into the following chapter. 
Apparently no steadfastness will, in his view, be " worthy 
of the gospel," unless this loving unity is added. If there 
was a common instinct of worldliness and unbelief, 
giving unity to the influences against which the Philip- 
pians had to contend, the operation of a mighty uniting 
influence was to be expected on the other side, an 
influence Divine in its origin and energy. The subject 

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82 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPJANS, 

is brought forward, one can see, in view of tendencies 
to disagreement which had appeared at Philippi. But 
it was a topic on which the Apostle had intensely strong 
convictions, and he was ever ready to expatiate upon it. 

We need not be surprised at the earnestness about 
peace and unity evinced in the Epistles, nor think it 
strange that such exhortations were required. Consider 
the case of these early converts. What varieties of 
training had formed their characters ; what prejudices 
of diverse races and religions continued to be active in 
their minds. Consider also what a world of new truths 
had burst upon them. It was impossible they could at 
once take in all these in their just proportions. Various 
aspects of things would strike different minds, and 
difficulty must needs be felt about the reconciliation of 
them. In addition to theory, practice opened a field of 
easy divergence. Church life had to be developed, and 
Church work had to be done.' Rules and precedents 
were lacking. Everything had to be planned and built 
from the foundation. The very energy of the Christian 
faith tended to produce energetic individualities. If all 
these things are weighed, instead of being surprised at 
the rise of difficulties we may rather wonder how 
interminable disagreement was averted. The temper 
of " standing fast " might seem perhaps likely rather to 
aggravate than to alleviate some of these sources of 
discord. 

On the other hand, to the Apostle's mind a glorious 
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i.27-30.] UNDAUNTED AND UNITED STEADFASTNESS, 83 



Kingdom of God, That expressed the victory in all 
the members of the new society of one influence pro- 
ceeding from one Lord ; it expressed the prevalence of 
that new life the chief element of which is the uniting 
grace, the grace of love. It should not be difficult 
to understand the value which the Apostle set on this 
feature in the life of Churches, how he longed to see it, 
how he pressed it so ardently on his disciples. Sin, 
dividing men from God, had divided them also from 
one another, k introduced selfishness, self-seeking, 
self-worship, self-assertion, everything that tends to 
divide. It rent men into separate interests, societies, 
classes, worships; and these stood over against one 
another isolated, jealous, conflicting. Men had long 
ago ceased to think it possible to have things otherwise 
ordered. They had almost ceased to desire it. How 
eminently then did the glory of the redemption in Christ 
appear in the fact that by it the dispersed out of all kinds 
of dispersion were gathered into one. They were bound 
to one another as well as to Christ : they became more 
conscious of oneness than ever they had been of 
separation. It testified to the presence and working 
of Him who made all, and from whom all, by different 
paths, had gone astray. 

The means by which this unity was to be maintained 
was chiefly the prevalence of the Christian affectioHS in 
the hearts of believers— the presence and power of that 
mind of Christ, of which more must be said in connec- 
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84 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPJANS, 



regards this as, at any rate, the radical security for unity 
in life and work, and without it he does not suppose 
the unity for which he cares can exist at all. In this 
connection it is worth observing that the unity he is 
thinking of is chiefly that which should bind together 
the members of those little communities which were 
rising up in various places under his ministry. It is 
the harmony of those whose lot is cast in the same 
place, who can influence one another, whose plain 
business it was to confess Christ together. Wider 
unity was supposed indeed, and was rejoiced in; but the 
maintenance of it had not yet become so much a prac- 
tical question. This continued to be the case for some 
time after the Apostolic period. Men were anxious to 
hold each local congregation together, aiid to avert 
local splits and quarrels. If that were done, it seemed 
as though nothing further were urgently needed. 

Yet the same principles establish the unity of the 
visible Church throughout the world, and indicate the 
discharge of the duties which are necessary in order to 
the expression of it Christians differ indeed among 
themselves upon the question how far the Church has 
received organic institutions fitted to give expression or 
embodiment to her unity ; and diversity of judgment on 
that point is not likely soon to be removed. For the 
rest the main thing to observe is that Christ's Church 
is one, in root and principle. This applies not only to 
the Church invisible, but to the Church visible too. 
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i. 27-30.] UNDAUNTED AND UNITED STEADFASTNESS. 85 

attainment, falls short also in expressing her own unity 
and in performing the duties connected with it. On the 
one hand they err who think that because the state of 
the visible Church is marred by divisions, therefore unity 
in her case is a dream, and that the unity of the Church 
invisible is alone to be asserted. On the other hand 
they err who, on much the same grounds, conclude 
that only one of the organised communions can possess 
the nature and attributes of the visible Church of 
Christ. The visible Churches are imperfect in their 
unity as they are in their holiness. In both respects 
their state is neither to be absolutely condemned nor 
to be absolutely approved. And no one of them is 
entitled to throw upon the rest all the blame of the 
measure of disunion. Any one that does so becomes 
a principal fomenter of disunion. 

This is too wide a subject to follow further. Mean- 
while it may be gathered from what has been said that 
the most direct application of the Apostle's language 
must be, not to the mutual relations of great com- 
munions, but to the mutual relations of Christians 
in the same local society. There is great room for 
such an application of it. Exaggerated statements may 
sometimes be made as to the indifference of Christians 
in modern congregations to one another's weal or woe ; 
but certainly very often self-will and bitter feeling are 
allowed to prevail, as if the tender ties and solemn 
obligations of Christian fellowship had been forgotten. 
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86 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



aversion mark the relations of those who have wor- 
shipped God together for long years. Certainly there 
is either some element lacking in the Christianity 
which is supposed to sustain Church life of this kind, 
or else the temperature of it must be low. Hence it 
comes, too, that the edification of Christians has so 
largely dissociated itself from the fellowship of the 
Churches to which they still resort, and seeks support 
on other lines. It was not so in those earliest Churches. 
The life and growth of the Christians were nursed in 
the Church meetings. There they gathered to read 
and sing and pray and break bread; to strengthen 
one another against Pagan violence and seduction ; to 
love one another, as bound together by ties which 
Pagans never knew ; to endure together the scorn and 
wrong which Christ's name might bring upon them ; 
and not impossibly, after they had thus fought side by 
side, to die together one triumphant martyr death. 
Similar conditions have more or less returned again 
whenever the Churches have been tolerably pure and 
united, and have at the same time been subjected to 
some sharp pressure of persecution. 

They were to stand fast then in one spirit, cherishing 
that " spirit of the mind " which is the immediate fruit 
of the working of the One Spirit of God, the common 
gift of the Father. It is supposed that Christians know 
what this is and can recognise it. But they might not 
be solicitous enough to maintain it, and they might be 
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i.27-30.] UNDAUNTED AND UNITED STEADFASTNESS. 87 



Holy Spirit's influence, creating in each of them the 
new spirit of the mind, would be the key to right conduct 
in their common life. It would inspire a purer wisdom 
and a higher motive than the flesh supplies. Recognis- 
ing it in one another, they would find themselves 
confirmed and cheered, established against external 
opposition and internal strife. Too easily we content 
ourselves with thoughts, words, and deeds which 
come only from our own private " spirit " and which 
are governed by that. We are too careless of living 
in a higher region. For the want of this some persons 
among us are infidels. They think they can account 
for all they see in Christians from the men's own spirit. 
Their cavil is by no means always true or fair ; yet it 
finds too much plausible support. 

The same unity in the one spirit, with its accom- 
panying vitality, gladness, and courage, was to charac- 
terise their active labours in the gospel. Let it be 
remembered that men do not make this attainment in 
a moment by stepping across some definite line. They 
grow into it by sincerity of aim, and by steadfast 
endeavour in the strength of Christ. In this way the 
'' fellowship unto the gospel " (ver. 5), already so 
happily characteristic of the Philippians, was to grow 
yet more in cordiality, devotedness, and power. 

Meanwhile, what were they to make of the attacks 
directed against them by those who hated the gospel ? 
This was no doubt a very practical question. Although 
persecution of the Christians had not yet revealed the 



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energy it was afterwards to assume, their lot was often 
hard enough. The first burst of trial of this kind 
exerts a very depressing influence on some minds: 
with others the prolonged endurance of it, wearing out 
the spirit, is the more dangerous experience. Either 
way the dark cloud is felt, suddenly or gradually, 
shutting out the sky. This feeling of depression and 
dismay is to be steadfastly resisted. Enmity, un- 
pleasant and ominous as it may be, is not to perturb 
or move you. It is not to be regarded as a reason for 
depression or an augury of defeat. Far otherwise : 
here should be discerned and grasped a token of 
salvation given by God Himself. 

It has been said that earthly prosperity was the 
promise of the Old Covenant, but adversity that of the 
New. This is, at least, so far true, that the necessity 
and benefit of chastening are very plainly set before us. 
Such discipline is part of the salvation secured for us ; 
it is necessary to lead us aright to final well-being ; and 
it will be administered to God's children as He sees fit. 
When it comes, it does not necessarily indicate special 
Divine displeasure, still less Divine ill-will. It does 
indicate that we have lessons to learn, attainments to 
make, and faults to be purged out; it indicates also 
that God is taking loving pains with us for these ends. 
All these things ought to be very certain to Christians. 
Yet some Christians, when their own turn comes, find 
it very bard to believe so much. Pains, losses, and 
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i.27-30.] UNDAUNTED AND UNITED STEADFASTNESS. 89 

deprecate, wear such an unfriendly aspect, that they 
can only feel scorched and affronted; and the hurt 
spirit breaks out in a querulous " Why ? " To be so 
thrown off our balance is a failure of faith. 

But Paul is occupied here with the spirit in which 
one special form of trial is to be dealt with. Antipathy, 
contempt, and persecution are bitter, very bitter to 
some sensitive souls ; but when they come upon us as 
followers of Christ, and for His sake, they have a con- 
solation proper to themselves. They are to be borne 
gladly, not only because all chastening is guided by 
fatherly love and wisdom, but because this kind of 
suffering is our glory. It comes to believers as part of 
their fellowship with Christ; and it is such a part 
of that fellowship as carries with it a peculiar power of 
assurance and confirmation. Christians share with 
Christ the enmity of the world's unbelief, because 
they share with Him the knowledge and love of the 
Father. If, indeed, by indulging self-will and passion 
(though perhaps under religious forms) we bring enmity 
on ourselves, then we suffer as evil-doers. But if we 
suffer for righteousness, the Spirit of glory and of God 
rests upon us. Some ?hare of suffering for Christ 
comes, therefore, as God's gift to His children, and 
ought to be valued accordingly. 

As to the exact point of the Apostle's remark on the 
" token " of perdition and of salvation, two views may be 
taken. In the line of what has just been said, he may 
be understood to mean simply that when God allows 



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90 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 

believers to suffer persecution for Christ's sake, it is a 
sign of their salvation ; just as, on the contrai*y, to be 
found opposing and persecuting God's children is a sign 
and omen of destruction. As if he said : " It is not you 
but they who have cause to be terrified : for lo ! thine 
enemies, O Lord, for lo ! thine enemies shall perish." 

This is a scriptural view. Yet both here and in 
2 Thess. i. 6 it is perhaps more precise to say that for 
the Apostle the special sign of salvation on the one side, 
and destruction on the other, is the patience and calm- 
ness with which Christians are enabled to endure 
their trials. This patience, while it is a desirable 
attainment on their part, is also something secured 
for them and given to them by their Lord. It is 
very precious and should be earnestly embraced. In 
this view the Apostle says : *' In no wise be terrified 
by your adversaries; and this tranquillity of yours 
shall be a sign, on the one part, of your salvation, and 
also, on the other part, if they repent not, of their de- 
struction. For this tranquillity is a victory given to you 
by God, which endures when their malice is exhausted. 
Does it not tell of a power working for you which 
mocks their malice, a power which is well able to 
perfect your salvation as well as to overthrow the 
enemies of God ? So you find coming into experience 
that which beforehand was given you by promise. 
It was given you to believe in Christ, and also to 
suffer for Him. Now that you find yourselves enabled 
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i.27-3o.] UNDAUNTED AND UNITED STEADFASTNESS, 91 

to confirm all you have believed?" For the tran- 
quillity of spirit into which faith rises under persecution 
is an evidence of the source from which it comes. 
Much may be borne by resolute men for any cause in 
which they have embarked. But very different from 
this striving of the human heart hardening itself to bear, 
in order that an enemy's malice may not spy out its 
weakness, are the calmness and patience given to God's 
children in the hour of trial. That bespeaks an inward 
support more mighty than all sorrow. The Divineness 
of it becomes still more conspicuous when it approves 
itself as the One Spirit, triumphing in persons of 
diverse tempers and characters. This has been a sign 
to many an unbeliever filling him with rage and fear. 
And to the children of God it has been the Spirit wit- 
nessing with their spirit that they are His children. 

The Apostle will not allow it to be overlooked that 
in this point as in others his Philippian friends and 
he are tied together in closest fellowship. This con- 
flict of theirs is the same which they had heard of 
and seen as proceeding in his case too. Perhaps we 
may say of this that it admonishes us not to think 
too meanly of our own Christian experience, and of 
the questions and decisions which it involves. The 
Apostle knew that his Philippian friends regarded his 
conflict as something conspicuous and great. He was 
a standard bearer, on whom much depended ; and then, 
all the movements of his soul were magnanimous and 
grand. But their own experience might seem petty — 



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92 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 



almost mean ; their trials not very serious, and their 
way of dealing with them at times so halting and half- 
hearted, that it seemed an offence against humility to 
make much account of them. If this was the true view, 
then also it must be Christ's view ; and so a very 
depressed way of looking at their calling and their 
encouragements might set in. The Apostle will not 
allow this. He thinks, and they are to think, that it 
is the same question that is being fought out in their 
case as in his — the same forces are arrayed against 
one another in both cases — and the victory in both cases 
will be equally momentous. So he would quicken their 
sense of the situation by the energy and vivacity of his 
own convictions. It is unquestionable that Christians 
suffer much loss by indulging a certain bastard humility, 
which leads them to underrate the solemnity of the 
interest attaching to their own history. This renders 
them inattentive to the serious eyes with which Christ 
their Master is looking down upon it. 



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" If there is therefore any comfort in Christ, if any consolation of 
love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and com- 
passions, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be of the same mind, having the 
same love, being of one accord, of one mind; doing nothing through 
faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting 
other better than himself; not looking each of you to his own things, 
but each of you also to the things of others." — Phil. ii. 1-4 (R.V.). 



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CHAPTER VI. 

THE MIND OF CHRIST, 

IN the verses last considered the Apostle had begun 
to summon his Philippian friends to Christian 
duty. But so far his words bear the character only of 
occasional exhortation, which falls naturally in as he 
dwells upon his own circumstances and on theirs. 
Associated as they have beem and are, let there be no 
mistake as to the central bond between him and them. 
Let the Philippian believers partake increasingly in his 
own glowing apprehensions of the Christian calling. 
Let them abound in the loving, steadfast, energetic, ex- 
pectant life in which men are united who have become 
acquainted with Christ. . 

But he thinks fit to press the theme in a more set 
and deliberate way. For it is no light thing to awaken 
in men's hearts a right impression of what it is to be a 
Christian ; or if it has been awakened, to nurse it to 
due strength. These Christians possessed some in- 
sight into the world of truth which held the mind of 
Paul; they had some experience of evangelical im- 
pression : in these things they had a happy fellowship 

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96 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 

with one another and with their great teacher. But 
all this must be affirmed and embodied in the conflict 
and ministry of Christian life. It must prove strong 
enough for that Deeds are the true confession of our 
faith ; they are the verification of our religious ex- 
perience. And in this practical form we must overcome, 
not the temptations of other people or other ages, but 
our own. There is no more dangerous working of 
unbelief than that in which it never questions the 
doctrinal theory, but renders our Christianity cold and 
slack, and leads us to indulge a preference for a religion 
that goes easy. Could we but see as we are seen, we 
should find this to be a matter of endless lamentation. 

Temptations to rivalry and discord were working 
at Philippi. We are nol obliged to think that they 
had gone very far; but one could s«e a risk that 
they might go further. The Apostle has it in his heart 
to expel this evil, by promoting the principles and 
dispositions that are opposed to it. And in this work 
the Philippians themselves must embark with all their 
might. 

It has been remarked already that causes are easily 
found to account for rivalries and misunderstandings 
springing up in those primitive Christian congregations. 
The truth is, however, that in all ages and conditions 
of the Church these dangers are nigh at hand. Self- 
seeking and self-exaltation are forms in which sin 
works most easily, and out of these come rivalry and 
discord by the very nature of the case. Eager grasping 



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ii. 14.] THE MIND OF CHRIST, 97 



at our own objects leads to disregard of the rights and 
interests of others ; and thence come wars. Danger in 
this direction was visible to the Apostle. 

It may be asked how this should be, if the Philippians 
were genuine and hearty Christians, such as the 
Apostle's commendations bespeak them ? Here a 
principle comes to light which deserves to be considered. 
Even those who have cordially embraced Christianity, 
and who have loyally given effect to it in some of its 
outstanding applications, are wonderfully prone to stop 
short They do not perceive, or they do not care to 
realise, the bearing of the same principles, which they 
have already embraced, upon whole regions of human 
life and human character ; they do not seriously lay to 
heart the duties Christianity imposes or the faults it 
rebukes in those departments. They are pleased to 
have won so much ground, and do not think about the 
Canaanites that still hold their ground. So, in whole 
regions of life, the carnal mind is allowed to work on, 
undetected and practically unopposed. This tendency 
is aided by the facility we have in disguising from 
ourselves the true character of dispositions and actions, 
when these do not quite plainly affront Christian rules. 
Self-assertion and bad temper, for example, can put 
on the character of honest firmness and hearty zeal. 
More particularly, when religious principles have led 
us into certain lines of action, we are apt to take for 
granted that all is right we do in those lines. Religious 
zeal leads a man to take trouble and incur responsibility 

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98 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



in Church work. Under this notion, then, he readily 
persuades himself that all his Church work is conscien- 
tious and disinterested : yet it may be largely and 
deeply tainted with the impulses of the fleshly mind. 
In a measure it might be so here. The Philippians 
might be generally a company of sincerely Christian 
people. And yet the churchmanship of some of them 
might disclose sad tokens of selfishness and bitterness. 
Therefore they must be called to give heed to the 
principles and to give effect to the motives that expel 
those sins. 

In all this we may feel ourselves in the region of 
commonplaces ; we know it all so well. But the very 
point in hand is that for the Apostle these are not 
commonplaces. He is greatly in earnest about the 
matter, and his heart is full of it. We do not under- 
stand him until we begin to sympathise with his sorrow 
and his anxiety. This is for him no mere matter of 
expediencies or of appearances. He is striving for the 
victory of grace in the souls of his beloved friends ; for 
the glory of Christ ; for his own comfort and success as 
Christ's minister. All these are, as it were, at stake 
upon this question of the life of the Philippian Church 
proving to be, under the influence of Christ, lowly, 
loving, and answerable to the gospel. 

No one more than Paul appreciates the value of 
good theological principles ; and no one more than he 
lays stress on the mercy which provides a gracious and 
a full salvation. But no one more than he is intent 



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ii 1-4] THE MIND OF CHRIST. 99 



upon Christian practice : for if practice is not healed 
and quickened, then salvation ceases to be real, the 
promises wither unfulfilled, Christ has failed. We 
may well feel it to be a great question whether our own 
sympathy with him on such points is growing and 
deepening. The Kingdom of God within us must exist 
in a light and love for which goodness is a necessity, 
and evil a- grief and heart-break. But if it is not so 
with us, where do we stand ? 

In four clauses the Apostle appeals to great Christian 
motives, which are to give strength to his main appeal — 
" If there be any comfort (or store of cheering counsel) 
in Christ Jesus, if any consolation of love, if any fellow- 
ship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies or com- 
passions " ; in a fifth clause he draws a motive from 
the regard they might have for his own most earnest 
desires — "fulfil ye my joy" ; and then comes the ex- 
hortation itself, which is to unity of mind and heart — 
"that ye be of the same mind, having the same love, 
being of one accord, of one mind." This, in turn, is 
follpwed by clauses that fix the practical sense of the 
general exhortation. 

It has been made a question whether the Apostle 
means to say, " If there be among you, Philippians, 
influences and experiences such as these," or " If there 
be anywhere in the Church of God." But surely he 
means both. He appeals to great practical articles of 
faith and matters of experience. The Church of God 
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Church of Philippi, in its degree. But there may be a 
great deal more in them than the Philippian believers 
are aware of, — more in them as truths and promises ; 
more in them as contemplated and realised by riper 
Christians, like Paul himself. He appeals, certainly, to 
what existed for the faith of the Philippians ; but also to 
that " much more " which might open to them if their 
faith was enlarged. 

The " comfort " or cheering counsel " in Christ " is the 
fulness of gospel help and promise. Great need of this 
is owned by all believers ; and, coming as needed succour 
to them all, it may well bind them all together in the 
sense of common need and common help. As it comes 
from the good Shepherd Himself to all and each, so it 
is conceived to be ever sounding in the Church, passing 
from one believer to another, addressed by each to 
each as common succour and common comfort. Hence, 
in the next place, there comes into view the mutual 
ministry of " consolation " which Christians owe to one 
another, since they " receive ** one another, and are to 
do to one another as Christ has done to them. Here 
the consolation acquires a special character, from the 
individual affection and friendship breathed into it 
by the Christian, who carries it to his neighbour to 
encourage and cheer him on his way. This love of 
the Christian to his brother, which comes from God, is 
itself a means of grace ; and therefore the " consolation 
of love " deserves to be distinctly named. 

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ii. 1-4.] THE MIND OF CHRIST, loi 



is the common participation of the Holy Spirit of God 
in His gracious presence and working. Without this 
no one could have a real share in Christian benefits. 
The Spirit reveals to us the Son and the Father, and 
enables us to abide in the Son and in the Father. He 
brings us into communion with the mind of God as 
revealed in His word. He makes real to us the things 
of the Kingdom of God ; and it is He who opens to us 
their worth and sweetness, especially the lovingkind- 
ness which breathes in them all. Through Him we 
are enabled to exercise Christian affections, desires, and 
services. It is He, in a word, through whom we are 
participant in the life of salvation ; and in that life He 
associates together all who share His indwelling. The 
Apostle supposes that no Christian could ever contem- 
plate without, shall we say, a pang of gratitude, the 
condescension, the gentleness, and the patience of this 
ministration. And as all Christians are recipient together 
of so immense a benefit, they might well feel it as a bond 
between them all. But more especially, as the Holy 
Spirit in this dispensation evinces a most Divine love 
and kindness — for what but love could be the spring of 
it ? — so also the upshot of all His work is the revelation 
of God in love. For love is at the heart of all God's 
promises and benefits : they are never understood until 
we reach the love that is in them. And God is love. 
So the love of God is shed abroad in the hearts of 
believers through the Holy Spirit given to them. 
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102 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



comes to do: He comes to make us members of a 
system in which love rules ; and He inspires all loving 
affections and dispositions proper to make us con- 
gruous members of so high and good a world. 

Therefore, in the fourth place, it is to be supposed 
that "tender mercies and compassions" in human 
breasts are abundant where the fellowship of the Spirit 
is. How abundant they might be : surely also in some 
measure they must be present ; they must abound, amid 
all human infirmities and mistakes. All kinds of gentle, 
friendly, faithful, wise, and patient dispositions might 
be expected. They are the fruits of the country in 
which Christians have come to dwell. 

To all these the Apostle appeals. Perhaps a pathos 
is audible in the form of his appeal. *' If there be any." 
Alas ! is there then any ? Is there some at least, if not 
much ? For if all these had been duly present to the 
faith and in the life of the Church, they would have 
spoken their lesson for themselves, and had not needed 
Paul to speak for them. 

The form of appeal " Fulfil ye my joy " brings up 
one more motive — the earnest desires of one who loved 
them wisely and well, and whom they, whatever their 
shortcomings, loved in turn. It is worth observing that 
the motive power here does not lie merely in the con- 
sideration " Would you not like to give me pleasure ? " 
The Philippians knew how Paul had at heart their true 
welfare and their true dignity. That which, if it came 
to pass, would so gladden him, must be something great 



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ii. 1-4.] THE MIND OF CHRIST. 103 

and good for them. If their own judgment of things 
was cold, might it not take fire from the contagion of 
his ? The loving solicitude of a keener-sighted and a 
more single-hearted Christian, the solicitude which 
makes his heart throb and his voice tremble as he 
speaks, has often startled slumbering brethren into a 
consciousness of their own insensibility, and awakened 
them to worthier outlooks. 

In regard to all these considerations, the main point 
is to catch sight of the moral and spiritual scenery as 
the Apostle saw it. Otherwise the words may leave us 
as dull as they found us. For him there had come into 
view a wonderful world of love. Love had come forth 
preparing at great cost and with great pains a new 
destiny for men. Love had brought in Paul and the 
other believers, one by one, into this higher region. 
And it proved to be a region in which love was the 
ground on which they stood, and love the heaven over 
their heads, and love the air they breathed. And here 
love was coming to be their own new nature, love 
responsive to the love of Father, Son, and Spirit, and 
love going out from those who had been so blessed 
to bless and gladden others. This was the true, the 
eternal goodness, the true, the eternal blessedness; and 
it was theirs. This was what faith embraced in Him 
*' who loved me and gave Himself for me.*' This was 
what faith claimed right to be and do. If this was not 
so, Christianity was reduced to nothing. If a man have 
not love, he is nothing (i Cor. xiii.). "Is there any 



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lo* THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



truth at all in this glorious faith of ours ? Do you 
believe it at all ? Have you felt it at all ? Fulfil then 
^y joy-" Unity of mind and of heart is the thing 
inculcated. Under the influence of the great objects of 
faith and of the motive forces of Christianity this was 
to be expected. Their ways of thinking and their ways 
of feeling, however different, should be so moulded in 
Christ as to reach full mutual understanding and full 
mutual affection. Nor should they rest contented 
when either of these failed : for that would be content- 
ment with defeat ; but Christ's followers are to aim at 
victory. 

It is obvious to say here that cases might arise in 
which turbulent or contentious persons might make it 
impossible for the rest of the Church, however well dis- 
posed, to secure either one accord or one mind. But 
the Apostle does not suppose that case to have arisen. 
Nothing had occurred at Philippi which Christian 
sense and Christian feeling might not arrange. When 
the case supposed does occur, there are Christian ways 
of dealing with it. Still more obviously one might say 
that conscientious differences of opinion, and that even 
on matters of moment, must inevitably occur sooner or 
later ; and a general admonition to be of one mind does 
not meet such a case. Perhaps it may be said in reply 
that the Church and the Christians have hardly conceived 
how much might be attained in the way of agreement if 
our Christianity were sincere enough, thorough enough, 
and affectionate enough. In that case there might 



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ii. 1-4,] THE MIND OF CHRIST. 105 

be wonderful attainment in finding agreement, and in 
dismissing questions on which it is not needful to agree. 
But, if we are not to soar so high as this, it may at 
least be said that, while conscientious diversities of judg- 
ment are not to be disguised, they may be dealt with, 
among believers, in a Christian way, with due emphasis- 
ing of the truth agreed upon, and with a prevaih'ng 
determination to speak truth in love. Here again, 
however, the Apostle recognises no serious difficulty of 
this kind at Philippi. The difficulties were such as 
could be got over. There was no good reason why 
the Philippians should not in their Church life exhibit 
harmony : it would be so, if Christian influences were 
cordially admitted into minds and hearts, and if they 
made a fit estimate of the supreme importance of unity 
in Christ. The same thing may be said of innumerable 
cases in later times in which Christians have divided 
and contended. It is right to say, however, that these 
considerations are not to be applied without qualification 
to all kinds and degrees of separation between Chris- 
tians. It is a cause for sorrow that denominational 
divisions are so many ; and they have often been both 
cause and consequence of unchristian feeling. Yet 
when men part peaceably to follow out their deliberate 
convictions, to which they cannot give effect together, 
and when in doing so they do not unchurch or condemn 
one another, there may be less offence against Christian 
charity than in cases where a communion, professedly 
one, is the scene of bitterness and strife. In either 



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io6 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



case indeed there is something to regret and probably 
something to blame ; but the former of the two cases is 
by no means necessarily the worse. 

In following out the line of duty and privilege set 
before them by the Apostle, Christians have to get the 
better of arrogance and selfishness (w. 3, 4). 

In the Church of Christ no man has a right to do 
anything from a spirit of strife or vainglory. Strife is 
the disposition to oppose and thwart our neighbour's 
will, either from mere delight in contest, or in order to 
assert for our own will a prevalence which will gratify 
our pride; and this is the animating principle of 
•'faction." "Vainglory" is the disposition to think 
highly of ourselves, to claim for ourselves a great place, 
and to assert it as against the claims of others. In the 
jostle of the world it may perhaps be admitted that 
forces acting on these lines are not wi|hout their use. 
They compensate one another, and some measure of 
good emerges from their unlovely energies. But such 
things are out of place among Christians, for they are 
right against the spirit of Christianity ; and Christianity 
relies for its equipoise and working progress on prin- 
ciples of quite another kind. Among Christians each 
is to be lowly-minded, conscious of his own defects 
and of his ill-desert. And this is to work in the way 
of our esteeming others to be better than ourselves. 
For we are conscious of our own inward and deep 
defect as we cannot be of any other person's. And it 
is abundantly possible that others may be better than 



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ii. 1.4.] THE MIND OF CHRIST. 107 

we are, and safe for us to give full effect to that possi- 
bility. It is said, indeed, that we may possibly have 
conclusive reason to believe that certain other persons, 
even in Christ's Church, are worse than we are. But, 
apart from the precariousness of such judgments, it is 
enough to say it is not for us to proceed on such a 
judgment or to give effect to it. We all await a higher 
judgment ; until then it becomes us to take heed to our 
own spirit and walk in lowliness of mind. 

Selfishness (" looking to its own things," ver. 4), as 
well as arrogance, needs to be resisted; and this is 
an even more pervading and inward evil. In dealing 
with it we are not required to have no eye at all to 
our own things ; for indeed they are our providential 
charge, and they must, be cared for; but we are 
required to look not only on our own, but every man 
on the things of others'. We have to learn to put 
ourselves in another's place, to recognise how things 
affect him, to sympathise with his natural feelings in 
reference to them, and to give effect in speech and 
conduct to the impressions hence arising. So a Chris- 
tian man is to "love his neighbour as himself" — only 
with a tenderer sense of obligation and a consciousness 
of more constraining motive than could be attained by 
the Israelite of old. Lovingly to do right to a brother's 
claims and to his welfare should be as cogent a prin- 
ciple of action with us as to care for our own. 

Arrogance and selfishness — perhaps disguised in 
fairer forms — had bred the disturbance at Philippi. 



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io8 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



The same baleful forces are present everywhere in all 
the Churches to this day, and have often run riot in 
the House of God. How shall the ugliness and the 
hatefulness of the e very-day selfishness, the every- 
day self-assertion, the every-day strifes of Christians, 
be impressed upon our minds? How are we to be 
awakened to our true calling in lowliness and in love ? 



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THE MIND OF CHRIST (Continued). 



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"Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, 
being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an equaHty 
with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being 
made in the likeness of men ; and being found in fashion as a man, 
He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the 
death of the cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted Him, and gave 
unto Him the name which is above every name ; that in the name of 
Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth 
and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess 
that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." — Phil. 
ii. 5-II (R.V.). 



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CHAPTER VII. 

THE MIND OF CHRIST {Continued). 

IT proves hard to make us aware of the sin and the 
misery involved in the place commonly allowed to 
Self. Some of its conspicuous outrages on Christian 
decency we do disapprove and avoid : perhaps we have 
embarked in a more serious resistance to its domina- 
tion. Yet, after all, how easily and how complacently 
do we continue to give scope to it I In forms of self- 
assertion, of arrogance, of eager and grasping competi- 
tion, it breaks out. It does so in ordinary life, in what 
is called public life, and, where it is most offensive of all, 
in Church life. Hence we fail so much in readiness to 
make the case of others our own, and to be practically 
moved by their interests, rights, and claims. There 
are certainly great differences here; and some, in 
virtue of natural sympathy or Christian grace, attain 
to remarkable degrees of generous service. Yet these 
also, if they know themselves, know how energetically 
self comes upon the field, and how much ground it 
covers. Many among us are domg good to others; 
but does it never strike us that there is a distant and 



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112 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



arrogant way of doing gocd? Many in Christian 
society are kind, and that is well; but undoubtedly 
there are self-indulgent ways of being kind. 

Having to deal with this evil energy of self, the Apostle 
turns at once to the central truth of Christianity, the 
person of Christ. Here he finds the type set, the 
standard fixed, of what Christianity is and means : or 
rather, here he finds a great fountain, from which a 
mighty stream proceeds ; and before it all the forms of 
self- worship must be swept away. In bringing this 
out the Apostle makes a most remarkable statement 
regarding the Incarnation and the history of our Lord. 
He reveals, at the same time, the place in his own 
mind held by the thought of Christ coming into the 
world, and the influence that thought had ekerted on 
the formation of his character. He bids us recognise 
in Christ the supreme exemplification of one who is 
looking away from his own things — whose mind is 
filled, whose action is inspired by concern for others. 
This is so at the root of the interposition of Christ to 
save us, that the principle becomes imperative and 
supreme for all Christ's followers. 

We have to consider the facts as they presented 
themselves to the mind of Paul, according to the 
wisdom given to him, that we may estimate the motive 
which he conceives them to reveal, and the obligation 
which is thus laid upon all who name the name of 
Christ and take rank among His followers. 

The Apostle, let us first observe, speaks of the In- 



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ii. 5-11] THE MIND OF CHRIST. 113 



carnation as that reveals itself to us, as it offers itself 
to the contemplation of men. To involve himself in 
discussion of inner mysteries concerning the Divine 
nature and the human, and the manner of their union, 
as these are known to God, is not, and could not, be 
his object. The mysteries must be asserted, but much 
about them is to continue unexplained. He is to ap- 
peal to the impression derivable, as he maintains, from 
the plainest statement of the facts which have been 
delivered to faith. This being the object in view, 
determines the cast of his language. It is the manner 
of being, the manner of living, the manner of acting 
characteristic of Christ at successive stages, which is 
to occupy our minds. Hence the Apostle's thought 
expresses itself in phrases such as ^^ form of God," 
*^form of a servant," and the like. We are to see one 
way of existing succeeding another in the history of 
Christ. 

First, our Lord is recognised as already existing 
before the beginning of His earthly history ; and in that 
existence He contemplates and orders what His course 
shall be. This is plain ; for in the seventh verse He 
is spoken of as emptying Himself, and thus assuming 
the likeness of men. For the Apostle, then, it was a 
fixed thing that He who was born in Nazareth pre- 
existed in a more glorious nature, and took ours by a 
notable condescension. This pre-existence of Christ is 
the first thing to consider when we would make clear 
to ourselves how Christ, being true man, differs from 

8 



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114 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



Other men. In this point Paul and John and the 
writer to the Hebrews unite their testimony in the 
most express and emphatic way ; as we hear our Lord 
Himself also saying, ''Before Abraham was, I am," 
and speaking of the glory which He had before the 
world was. But what manner of existence this was is 
also set forth. He " existed in the form of God." The 
same word " form " recurs presently in the expression 
'' the form of a servant." It is distinguished from the 
words " likeness," " fashion," which are expressed by 
other Greek terms. 

Frequently we use this word " form " in a way 
which contrasts it with the true being, or makes it 
denote the outward as opposed to the inward. But 
according to the usage which prevailed among thinking 
men when the Apostle wrote, the expression should 
not be understood to point to anything superficial, 
accidental, superimposed. No doubt it is an expression 
which describes the Being by adverting to the attributes 
which, as it were, He wore, or was clothed with. But 
the word carries us especially to those attributes of the 
thing described which are characteristic ; by which it 
is permanently distinguished to the eye or to the mind ; 
which denote its true nature because they rise out of 
that nature ; the attributes which, to our minds, ex- 
press the essence. So here. He existed, how ? In 
the possession and use of all that pertains to the Divine 
nature. His manner of existence was, what? The 
Divine manner of existence. The characters through 



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ii. 5-".] THE MIND OF CHRIST. 115 



which Divine existence is revealed were His. He sub- 
sisted in the form of God. This was the manner of it, 
the glorious " form " which ought to fix and hold our 
minds. 

If any one should suggest that, according to this 
text, the pre-existent Christ might be only a creature, 
though having the Divine attributes and the Divine 
mode of life, he would introduce a mass of contradictions 
most gratuitously. The Apostle's thought is simply 
this : For Christ the mode of existence is first of all 
Divine ; then, by-and-by, a new form rises into view. 
Our Lord's existence did not begin (according to the 
New Testament writers) when He was born, when He 
was found in fashion as a man, sojourning with us. 
He came to this world from some previous state. One 
asks from what state? Before He took the form of 
man, in what form of existence was He found ? The 
Apostle answers, In the form of God. 

To Him, therefore, with and in the Father, we have 
learned to ascribe all wisdom and power, all glory and 
blessedness, all holiness and all majesty. Specially, 
through Him the worlds were made, and in Him they 
consist. The fulness, the sufficiency, the essential 
strength of Godhead were His. The exercise and 
manifestation of all these was His form of being. One 
might expect, then, that in any process of self-mani- 
festation to created beings in which it might please 
Him to go forth, the expression of His supremacy and 
transcendence should be written on the face of it. 



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ii6 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



The next thought is expressed in the received trans- 
lation by the words " thought it no robbery to be equal 
with God." So truly and properly Divine was He that 
equality with God could not appear to Him or be 
reckoned by Him as anything else than His own. He 
counted such equality no robbery, arrogance, or wrong. 
To claim it, and all that corresponds to it, could not 
appear to Him something assumed without right, but 
rather something assumed with the best right. So 
taken, these words would complete the Apostle's view 
of the original Divine pre-eminence of the Son of God. 
They would express, so to say, the equity of the situa- 
tion, from which all that follows should be estimated. 
Had it pleased the Son of God to express only, and to 
impress on all minds only His equality with God, this 
could not have seemed to Him encroachment or wrong. 

I think a good deal can be said for this. But the 
sense which, on the whole, is now approved by commen- 
tators is that indicated by the Revised Version. This 
takes the clause not as still dwelling on the primeval 
glory of the Son of God, and what was implied in it, 
but rather as beginning to indicate how a new situation 
arose, pointing out the dispositions out of which the 
Incarnation came. " He counted it not a prize to be on 
an equality with God." To hold by this was not the 
great object with Him. In any steps He might take, 
in any forthgoings He might enter on, the Son of God 
might have aimed at maintaining and disclosing equality 
with God. That alternative was open. But this is not 



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ii. 5-II.] THE MIND OF CHRIST, 117 



what we see : no holding by that, no solicitude about that 
appears. His procedure, His actings reveal nothing of 
this kind. What we see filling His heart and fixing 
His regard, is not what might be due to Himself or 
assumed fitly by Himself, but what might bring deliver- 
ance and blessedness to us.* 

On the contrary, " He emptied Himself, taking the 
form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men." 
In the Incarnation our Lord assumed the *' form " of a 
servant, or slave : for in the room of the authority of 
the Creator, now appears the subjection of the creature. 
He who gave form to all things, and Himself set the 
type of what was highest and best in the universe, 
transcending meanwhile all created excellence in His 
uncreated glory, now is seen conforming Himself to the 
type or model or likeness of one of His creatures, of 
man. He comes into human existence as men do, and 
He continues in it as men do. Yet it is not said that 
He is now merely a man, or has become nothing but 
a man ; He is in the hkeness of men and is found in 
fashion as a man. 

In taking this great step the Apostle says " He 



* Various shades of meaning have been proposed. Meyer, whose 
opinion has weight, virtually interprets in this way : He did not 
reckon equality with God (which was His) to imply or to be fitly 
exercised in acquisition, or in accumulation of benefit to Himself : and 
Hofmann, after supporting another view, appears (in his Hist. Schrift. 
N. r.) to agree with this. To be equal to God, and to put forth power 
for His own enrichment, were for the Son very different things. The 
one He possessed : the other He renounced. 



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Ii8 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 

emptied Himself." The emptying is perhaps designedly 
opposed to the thought of accumulation or self-enrich- 
ment conveyed in the phrase " He counted it not a 
prize." However this may be, the phrase is in itself 
a remarkable expression. 

It seems most certain, on the one hand, that this 
cannot import that He who was with God and was God 
could renounce His own essential nature and cease to 
be Divine. The assertion of a contradiction like this 
involves the mind in mere darkness. The notion is 
excluded by other scriptures ; for He who came on earth 
among us is Immanuel, God with us : and it is not 
required by the passage before us ; for the '* emptying " 
can at most apply to the " form " of God — the exercise 
and enjoyment of Divine attributes such as adequately 
express the Divine nature; and it may, perhaps, not 
extend its sense even so far ; for the writer significantly 
abstains from carrying his thought further than the bare 
word " He emptied Himself." 

On the other hand, we are to beware of weakening 
unduly this great testimony. Certainly it fixes our 
thoughts on this, at least, that our Lord, by becoming 
man, had for His, irxilyfor Ht's, the experience of human 
limitation, human weakness and impoverishment, human 
dependence, human subjection, singularly contrasting 
with the glory and plenitude of the form of God. This 
became His. It was so emphatically real, it became at 
the Incarnation so emphatically the form of existence 
on which He entered, that it is the thing eminently 



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ii. 5-11] THE MIND OF CHRIST, 119 



to be regarded, reverently to be dwelt upon. This 
emptiness, instead of that fulness, is to draw and fix 
our regard. Instead of the form of God, there rises 
before us this true human history, this lowly manhood 
—and it took place by His emptying Himself. 

Various persons and schools have thought it right to 
go further. The word here used has appeared to them 
to suggest that if the Son of God did not renounce His 
Godhead, yet the Divine nature in Him must have 
bereaved itself of the Divine attributes, or withheld 
itself from the use and exercise of them ; so that the 
all-fulness no longer was at His disposal. In this line 
they have gone on to describe or assign the mode of 
self-emptying which the Incarnation should imply. 

It does not appear to me that one can lay down 
positions as to the internal privations of One whose 
nature is owned to be essentially Divine, without falling 
into confusion and darkening counsel. But perhaps we 
may do well to cherish the impression that this self- 
emptying on the part of the eternal Son of God, for our 
salvation, involves realities which we cannot conceive 
or put in any words. There was more in this empty- 
ing of Himself than we can think or say. 

He emptied Himself when He became man. Here 
we have the eminent example of a Divine mystery, 
which, being revealed, remains a mystery never to be 
adequately explained, and which yet proves full of 
meaning and full of power. The Word was made flesh. 
He through whom all worlds took being, was seen in 



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THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIAAS. 



Judaea in the lowliness of that practical historical man- 
hood. We never can explain this. But if we believe 
it all things become new for us : the meaning it proves 
to have for human history is inexhaustible. 

He emptied Himself, " taking the form of a servant," 
or bondslave. For the creature is in absolute sub- 
jection alike to God's authority and to His providence ; 
and so Christ came to be. He entered on a discipline 
of subjection and obedience. In particular He was 
made after the likeness of men. He was born as other 
children are ; He grew as other children grow ; body 
and mind took shape for Him under human conditions. 

And so He was " found in fashion as a man." Could 
words express more strongly how wonderful it is in the 
Apostle's eyes that He should so be found ? He lived 
His life and made His mark in the world in human 
fashion — His form, His mien, His speech, His acts. 
His way of life declared Him man. But being so, He 
humbled Himself to a strange and great obedience. 
Subjection, and in that subjection obedience, is the part 
of every creature. But the obedience which Christ 
was called to learn was special. A heavy task was 
laid upon Him. He was made under the law; and 
bearing the burden of human sin. He wrought redemp- 
tion. In doing so many great interests fell to Him to 
be cared for ; and this was done by Him, not in the 
manner of Godhead which speaks and it is done, but 
with the pains and labour of a faithful servant. *' I 
have a commandment," He said, as He faced the Jews, 



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ii. 5-II.] THE MIND OF CHRIST, 



who would have had His Messianic work otherwise 
ordered (John xii. 49). 

This experience deepened into the final experience of 
the cross. Death is the signature of failure and dis- 
grace. Even with sinless creatures it seems so. Their 
beauty and their use are past ; their worth is measured 
and exhausted ; they die. More emphatically in a nature 
like ours, which aims at fellowship with God and 
immortality, death is significant this way, and bears the 
character of doom. So we are taught to think that 
death entered by sin. But the violent and cruel death 
of crucifixion, inflicted for the worst crimes, is most 
significant this way. What it comprehended for our 
Lord we cannot measure. We know that He looked 
forward to it with the most solemn expectation ; and 
when it came the experience was overwhelming. Yes, 
He submitted to the doom and blight of death, in which 
death He made atonement and finished transgression. 
The Incarnation was the way in which our Lord bound 
Himself to our woful fortunes, and carried to us the 
benefits with which He would enrich us ; and His 
death was for our sins, endured that we might live. But 
the Apostle does not here dwell on the reasons why 
Christ's obedience must take this road. It is enough 
that for reasons concerning our welfare, and the worthy 
achievement of the Father's Divine purposes, Christ 
bowed Himself to so great lowliness. A dark and sad 
death — a true obedience unto death — became the portion 
of the Son of God. ** I am the Living One, and I was 



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122 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 

dead." So complete was the self-emptying, the humilia- 
tion, the obedience. 

" Therefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and 
given Him the Name that is above every name." For 
still we must think of Him as One that has come down 
into the region of the creatures, the region in which we 
are distinguished by names, and are capable of higher 
and lower in endless degrees. God, dealing with Him 
so situated, acts in a manner rightly corresponding to 
this great self-dedication, so as to utter God's mind 
upon it He has set Him on high, and given Him the 
Name that is above every name ; so that Divine honour 
shall be rendered to Him by all creation, and knees 
bowed in worship to Him everywhere, and all shall 
own Him Lord — that is, partaker of Divine Sovereignty. 
All this is " to the glory of the Father," seeing that in 
all this the worthiness and beauty of God's being 
and ways come to light with a splendour heretofore 
unexampled. 

So then, we may say, perhaps, that as in the humilia- 
tion He who is God experienced what it is to be man, 
now in the exaltation He who is man experiences what 
it is to be God. 

But the point to dwell on chiefly is this consideration 
— What is it that attracts so specially the Father's 
approbation ? What does so is Christ's great act of 
self-forgetting love. That satisfies and rests the Divine 
mind. Doubtless the Son's pure and perfect character, 
and the perfection of His whole service, were on all 



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ii. 5-11.] THE MIND OF CHRIST. 123 



accounts approved; but specially the mind of Christ 
revealed in His self-forgetting devotion. Therefore God 
has highly exalted Him. 

For, in the first place, Christ in this work of His is 
Himself the revelation of the Father. All along the 
Father's heart is seen disclosed. It was in fellowship 
with the Father, always delighting in Him, that the 
history was entered on ; in harmony with Him it was 
accomplished. Throughout we have before us not only 
the mind of the Son, but the mind of the Father that 
sent Him. 

And then, in the next place, as the Son, sent forth 
into the world, and become one of us, and subject to 
vicissitude, accomplishes His course, it is fitting for the 
Father to watch, to approve, and to crown the service ; 
and He who has so given Himself for God and man 
must take the place due to such a " mind " and to such 
an obedience. 

Let us observe it then : what was in God's eye and 
ought to be in ours, is not only the dignity of the per- 
son, the greatness of the condescension, the perfection 
of obedience and patience of endurance, but, in the 
heart of all these, the mind of Christ. That was the 
inspiration of the whole marvellous history, vivifying it 
throughout. Christ, indeed, was not One who could so 
care for us, as to fail in His regard to any interest of 
His Father's name or kingdom ; nor could He take any 
course really unseemly, because unworthy of Himself. 
But carrying with Him all that is due to His Father, 



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124 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



and all that befits His Father's Child and Servant, the 
wonderful thing is how His heart yearns over men, 
how His course shapes itself to the necessities of our 
case, how all that concerns Himself disappears as He 
looks on the fallen race. A worthy deliverance for 
them, consjecrating them to God in the blessedness of 
life eternal — this is in His eye, to be reached by Him 
through all kinds of lowliness, obedience, and suffering. 
On this His heart was set ; this gave meaning and 
character to every step of His history. This was the 
mind of the good Shepherd that laid down His life for 
the sheep. And this is what completes and consecrates 
all the service, and receives the Father's triumphant 
approbation. This is the Lamb of God. There never 
was a Lamb like this. 

How all this was and is in the Eternal Son in His 
Divine nature we cannot suitably conceive. In some 
most sublime and perfect manner we own it to be there. 
But we can think of it and speak of it as the " mind of 
Christ " : as it came to light in the Man of Bethlehem, 
who, amid all the possibilities of the Incarnation, is 
seen setting His face so steadily one way, whose life is 
all of one piece, and to whom we ascribe grace. " Ye 
know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ." Therefore 
God has highly exalted Him, and given Him the Name 
that is above every name. This is the right way. This 
is the right life. 

Are we followers of Christ ? Are we in touch with 
His grace ? Do we yield ourselves to His will and 



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ii. 5-II.] THE MIND OF CHRIST, 125 



way ? Do we renounce the melancholy obstructiveness 
which sets us at odds with Christ ? Do we count it 
our wisdom now to come into His school ? Then, let 
this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 
this lowly, loving mind. Let it Look not every man 
on his own things, but every man also on the things of 
others. Do nothing through strife or vainglory. In 
lowliness of mind let each esteem the other better than 
himself. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and 
envy, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all 
malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, 
forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake 
hath forgiven you. If there is any comfort in Christ, if 
any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, 
if any tender mercies and compassions, let this be so. 
Let this mind be in you ; and find ways of showing it. 
But, indeed, if it be in you it will find ways to show 
itself. 

The Church of Christ has not been without likeness 
to its Lord, and service to its Lord : yet it has come 
far short in showing to the world the mind of Christ. 
We often "show the Lord's death." But in His death 
were the mighty life and the conclusive triumph of 
Christ's love. Let the life also of Christ Jesus be 
manifest in our mortal body. 

We see here what the vision of Christ was which 
opened itself to Paul, — which, glowing in his heart, 
sent him through the world, seeking the profit of many, 
that they might be saved. This was in his mind, the 



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126 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 



wonderful condescension and devotion of the Son of 
God. "It pleased God to reveal His Son in me." 
" God, who commanded the light to shine out of dark- 
ness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the 
knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ 
Jesus.'* " Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
how that though He was rich yet for our sakes He be- 
came poor, that we through His poverty might be made 
rich." " He loved me and gave Himself for me." And 
in various forms and degrees the manifestation of this 
same grace has astonished, and conquered, and inspired 
all those who have greatly served Christ in the Church 
in seeking to do good to men. Let us not separate our- 
selves from this fellowship of Christ ; let us not be 
secluded from this mind of Christ As we come to 
Him with our sorrows, and sins, and wants, let us 
drink into His mind. Let us sit at His feet and learn 
of Him. 

A line of contemplation, hard to follow yet inspiring, 
opens up in considering the Incarnation of our Lord as 
permanent. No day is coming in which that shall have 
to be looked upon as gone away into the past This is 
suggestive as to the tie between Creator and creature, 
as to the bridge between Infinite and finite, to be ever- 
more found in Him. But it may suffice here to have 
indicated the topic. 

It is more to the point, in connection with this 
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ii. 5-II.] THE MIND OF CHRIST. 127 



day. Of late great emphasis has been laid by earnest 
thinkers upon the reality of Christ's human nature. 
Anxiety has been felt to do full right to that humanity 
which the Gospels set before us so vividly. This has 
been in many ways a happy service to the Church. In 
the hands of divines the humanity of Christ has some- 
times seemed to become shadowy and unreal, through 
the stress laid on His proper Godhead ; and now men 
have become anxious to possess their souls with the 
human side of things, even perhaps at the cost of leaving 
the Divine side untouched. The recoil has carried men 
quite naturally into a kind of humanitarianism, some- 
times deliberate, sometimes unconscious. Christ is 
thought of as the ideal Man, who, just because He is the 
ideal Man, is morally indistinguishable from God, and 
is in the closest fellowship with God. Yet He grows on 
the soil of human nature, He is fundamentally and only 
human. And this, it is implied, is enough : it covers all 
we want. But we see this was not Paul's way of thinking. 
The real humanity was necessary for him, because he 
desiderated a real incarnation. But the true original 
Divine nature was also necessary. For so he discerned 
the love — the grace, and the gift by grace ; so he felt 
that the Eternal God had bowed down to bless him in 
and by His Son. It makes a great difference to religion 
when men are persuaded to forego this faith. 



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WORKING AND SHINING. 



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" So then, my beloved, even as ye have always obeyed, not as in my 
presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own 
salvation with fear and trembling ; for it is God which worketh in 
you both to will and to work, for His good pleasure. Do all things 
without rourmurings and disputings ; that ye may be blameless and 
harmless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked 
and perverse generation, among whom ye are seen as lights in the 
world, holding forth the word of life ; that I may have whereof to 
glory in the day of Christ, that I did not run in vain neither labour 
in vain. Yea, and if I am offered upon the sacrifice and service of 
your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all : and in the same manner 
do ye also joy, and rejoice with mc.** — Phil. ii. 12-18 (RV.). 



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CHAPTER VIII. 

WORKING AND SHINING. 

A FTER his great appeal to the mind of Christ, the 
-^^- Apostle can pursue his practical object; and he 
can do so with a certain tranquillity, confident that the 
forces he has just set in motion will not fail to do their 
work. But yet that same appeal itself has tended 
to broaden and deepen the conception of what should 
be aimed at. He had deprecated the arrogant and 
the selfish mind, as these are opposed to lovingkind- 
ness and regard for others. But now, in presence of 
the great vision of the Incarnation and obedience of 
Christ, the deeper note of lowliness must be struck in 
fit accord with that of love; not only lowliness in the 
way of doing ready honour to others, but deep and 
adoring lowliness towards God, such as is due both 
from creatures and from sinners. For if Christ's love 
fulfilled itself in such a perfect humility, how deeply 
does it become us to bear towards God in Christ a 
mind of penitence and gratitude, of loving awe and 
wonder, such as shall at the same time for ever exclude 
from our bearing towards others both pride and self- 



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132 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 

seeking. In this way the one practical object suggested 
by the circumstances at Philippi — namely, loving unity 
— now allies itself naturally with ideas of complete and 
harmonious Christian life ; and various views of that life 
begin to open. But each aspect of it still proves to be 
connected with the gracious and gentle mind of Christ, 
in the lowly form of that mind which is appropriate for 
a sinner who is also a believer. 

So then they are to apply themselves to the " calling 
wherewith they are called," in a spirit of "fear and 
trembling." The phrase is a common one with the 
Ap)ostle (i Cor. il 3 ; 2 Cor. vii. 15 ; Eph. v. 6). He 
uses it where he would express a state of mind in 
which willing reverence is joined with a certain sensi- 
tive anxiety to escape dangerous mistakes and to per- 
form duty well And it is fitly called for here, for 

1. If lowliness so became the Divine Saviour, who 
was full of grace, wisdom, and power, then what shall 
be the mind of those who in great guilt and need have 
found part in the salvation, and who are going forward 
to its fulness ? What shall be the mind of those who, 
in this experience, are looking up to Christ — looking up 
to lowliness ? Surely not the spirit of strife and vain- 
glory (ver. 3), but of fear and trembling — the mind 
that dreads to be presumptuous and arrogant, because 
it finds the danger to be still near. 

2. The salvation has to be wrought out. It must 
come to pass in your case in the line of your own en- 
deavour. Having its power and fulness in Christ, and 



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ii. 12-iS.] WORKING AND StilNlNG, 133 



bestowed by Him on you, yet this deliverance from 
distance, estrangement, darkness, unholiness, is given to 
believers to be wrought out : it comes as a right to be 
realised, and as a power to be exercised, and as a goal 
to be attained. Think of this, — you have in hand your 
own salvation — great, Divine, and wonderful — to be 
wrought out. Can you go about it without fear and 
trembling ? Consider what you are — consider what 
you believe — consider what you seek — and what a 
spirit of lowly and contrite eagerness will pervade your 
life! This holds so much the more, because the 
salvation itself stands so much in likeness to Christ — 
that is to say, in a loving lowliness. Let a man think 
how much is in him that tends, contrariwise, to self- 
assertion and self-seeking, and he will have reason 
enough to fear and tremble as he lays fresh hold on 
the promises, and sets his face to the working out of 
this his own salvation. 

3. This very working out, from whom does it come ? 
Are you the explanation and last source of it ? What 
does it mean ? Wherever it takes place, it means that, 
in a very special sense, God's mighty presence and 
power is put forth in us to will and to do. Shall not 
this thought quell our petulance ? Where is room now 
for anything but fear and trembling — a deep anxiety to 
be lowly, obedient, compliant ? 

Whether, therefore, we look to the history of the 
Saviour, or to the work to which our own life is 
devoted, or to the power that animates that work and 



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134 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



on which it depends — in all alike we find ourselves 
committed to the lowly mind ; and in all alike w^e find 
ourselves beset with a wealth of free beneficence, which 
lays obligation on us to be self-forgetting and loving. 
We are come into a wonderful world of compassionate 
love. That is the platform on which we stand — the 
light we see by — the music that fills our ears — the 
fragrance that rises on every side. If we are to live 
here, there is only one way for it — there is only one 
kind of life that can live in this region. And, being, 
as we are, alas, so strangely coarse and hard — even 
if this gospel gladdens us, there may well thrill through 
our gladness a very honest and a very contrite " fear 
and trembling.** 

Now all this is by the Apostle persuasively urged upon 
his Philippian children (ver. 12) : "As ye have always 
obeyed^ not as in my presence only, but now much 
more in my absence." For, indeed, it proves easy 
comparatively for our human indolence to yield to the 
spell of some great and forcible personality when he 
s present. It is even pleasant to allow ourselves to 
be borne on by the tide of his enthusiastic goodness. 
And when the Apostle was at Philippi, it might come 
easier to many of them to teel the force and scope of 
their calling in Christ. And yet now that he was gone, 
now was the time for them to prove for themselves, 
and evince to others, the durable worth of the great 
discovery they had made, and the thoroughness of the 
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li. 12-18.] WORKING AND SHINING. 135 



was the time to show Paul himself, that their " obedi- 
ence " was of the deep and genuine quality which alone 
could give content to him. 

Such in general seems to be the scope of these two 
verses. But one or two of the points deserve to be 
considered a little before we go on. 

Mark how emphatically the Apostle afBrms the great 
truth, that every good thing accompanying salvation 
which comes to pass in Christians is of the mighty 
power and grace of God. Therefore Christianity must 
stand so much in asking and in thanking. It is God 
that worketh in you. He does it, and no other than He ; 
it is His prerogative. He worketh to will and to do. 
The inclination of the heart and the purpose of the 
will are of Him ; and the striving to bring forth into 
act and deed what has been so conceived — that also is 
of Him. He quickens those who were dead in tres- 
passes and sins ; He gives the renewing of the Holy 
Ghost ; He makes His children perfect, working in them 
that which is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus 
Christ. All this He does in the exercise of His proper 
p)ower, in the " exceeding greatness of His power to us- 
ward who believe" — "according to the working of His 
mighty power, which wrought in Christ when He was 
raised from the dead.** Apparently we are to take it 
that in the children of God there is the new heart, or 
new nature, in respect of which they are new creatures; 
and also the indwelling of God by His Spirit; and 
also the actual working of the same Spirit in all fruits 



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136 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 

of righteousness which they bring forth to the glory 
and praise of God. And these three are so connected, 
that regard should be had to all of them when we 
contemplate each. 

He worketh to will and to do. From Him all godly 
desires and purposes proceed — from Him, every passage 
in our lives in which the " salvation that is in Christ 
Jesus" is by us received, put to proof, wrought out 
into the transactions of our lives. It must be so, if 
we will only think of it. For this " salvation " in- 
volves an actual, and in principle a complete agreement 
with God, affirmed and embodied in each right thought, 
and word, and deed. Whence could this flow but from 
Himself? 

In their statements and explanations about this 
Christians have differed. The difference has been 
mainly on the point, how to make it clear that men 
are not dealt with as inert nor as irresponsible ; that 
they must not hold themselves excused from working 
on the ground that God works all. For all agree that 
men are called to the most serious earnestness of 
purpose and the most alert activity of action ; but the 
theorising of this activity occasions debate. It is 
from the motive of trying to make more room for these 
indispensable elements on the human side, that modes 
of statement have been suggested which limit or explain 
away the Apostle's statement here. The motive is com- 
mendable, but the method is not commonly successful. 
All efforts to divide the ground between God and man 



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ii. 12-18.] WORKING AND SHINING. I37 

go astray. In the inward process of salvation, and 
especially in this "willing and doing/' God does all, 
and also man does all But God takes precedence. 
For it is He that quickeneth the dead, and calleth 
things that are not as though they were. Here we 
may say, as the Apostle does in another case, *' This 
is a great mystery." Let us recognise it as a mystery 
bound up with any hope we ourselves have of proving 
to be children of God. And under the sense of it, 
with fear and trembling let us work, for it is God that 
worketh in us to will and to do. 

He worketh in us to will. When I trace back any 
of my actions to the fountain where it takes its rise as 
mine, I find that, fountain in my will. The materials 
which I take up into my act, the impressions which 
gather together to create a situation for me, may all 
have their separate history going back in the order of 
cause and effect to the beginning of the world ; but 
that which makes it mine, is that / willf I choose, and 
thereupon I do it. Therefore also it is that I must 
answer for it, because it is mine. I willed it, and in 
willing it I created something which pertains to me, 
and to no other ; something began which is mine, and 
the responsibility for it cleaves only to me. But in the 
return to God through Christ, and in the working out 
of that salvation, there are acts of mine, most truly 
mine ; and yet in these another Will, the Will of Him 
who saves, is most intimately concerned. He worketh 
in us to will. It is not an enslaving, but an emancipat- 



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138 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 

ing energy. It brings about free action, yet such as 
fulfils a most gracious Divine purpose. So these 
"willings" embody a consent, a union of heart and 
mind and will, His and mine, the thought of which is 
enough to bow me to the ground with "fear and 
trembling." This is He who gathereth the dispersed 
of Israel into one. 

On the other hand, the salvation is to be wrought 
out by us. To have faith in the Son of God in exercise 
and prevalence; to have heart and life formed to 
childlike love of God, and to the fulfilment of His will ; 
to carry this out against the flesh and the world and 
the devil, — all this is a great career of endeavour and 
attainment It is much to make the discoveries implied 
in it : finding out at each stage the meaning of it, and 
how it should take shape. It is much to have the heart 
brought to beat true to it, to love it, consent to it, be 
set upon it. It is much to embody it in faithful and 
successful practice in the rough school of life, with its 
actual collision and conflict. Now the nature and 
working of God's grace at each stage is of this kind, 
that it operates in three ways at least. It operates 
as a calif an effectual call, setting a man on to arise 
and go. It operates also in a way of instruction, 
setting us to learn lessons, teaching us how to live, 
as it is said in Titus ii. 1 1, 12. And it operates as a 
poweVf as help in time of need. He that sits still at 
the call — he that will not be considerate to learn the 
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ii. 12-18.] WORKING AND SHINING, 139 

perfected in weakness, that he may fulfil and do the 
Father's will — he is a man who despises and denies 
the grace of God. 

Now what has been said of the believer's relation 
to the saving God, prepares the way for referring to 
his office towards the world. Here the moral and 
practical theme which is in the Apostle's mind all 
through proves again to be in place : the lowly and 
loving mind will best discharge that office towards the 
world, which the arrogant and distempered mind 
would hinder. " Do all things without murmurings 
and disputings, that ye may be blameless and 
harmless." 

A murmuring and disputatious temper — murmuring 
at what displeases us, and multiplying debate about 
it— is simply one form of the spirit which Paul depre- 
cates all through this context. It is the sign of the 
disposition to value unduly one's own ease, one's own 
will, one's own opinion, one's own party, and to lie 
at the catch for opportunities to bring that feeling into 
evidence. Now observe the harm which the Apostle 
anticipates. It is your office to serve God by making 
a right impression on the world. How shall that come 
to pass ? Chiefly, or at least primarily, the Apostle 
seems to say, by the absence of evil. At least, that 
is the most general and the safest notion of it, with 
which to begin. Some, no doubt, make impressions 
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140 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 

enterprising and successful benevolence — though all 
these have dangers and drawbacks attending them, in 
so far as the very energy of action provides a shelter 
for unperceived self-will. Still, let them have their 
place and their praise. But here is the line that might 
suit all. A man whose life stands clear of the world's 
deformities, under the influence of a light and a love 
from which the world is estranged, gradually makes an 
impression. 

Now murmuring and disputing are precisely adapted 
to hinder this impression. And sometimes they hinder 
it in the case of people of high excellence — people who 
have much sound and strong principle, who have 
large benevolence, who are capable of making remark- 
able sacrifices to duty when they see it. Yet this vice, 
perhaps a surface vice, of murmuring and disputing, is 
so suggestive of a man's self being uppermost, it so 
unpleasantly forces itself in as the interpretation of 
the man, that his real goodness is little accounted of. 
At all events, the peculiar purity of the Christian 
character — ^its blamelessness and harmlessness, its 
innocence — does not in his case come to light. People 
say : " Ah, he is one of the mixed ones, like ourselves. 
Christian devoutness suits some people : they are 
sincere enough in it very likely; but it leaves them, 
after all, pretty much as it found them." 

I say no more about murmuring and disputing as 
these reveal themselves in our relations to others. But 
the same spirit, and attended in its operations with the 



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12-18.] WORKING AND SHINING. 141 



same evil eflfects, may manifest itself in other ways 
besides that of unkindness to men. As frequently, 
perhaps, it may show itself in our behaviour towards 
God ; and in that case it interferes at least as seriously 
with the shining of our light in the world. 

Just as in the camp of Israel of old on many 
memorable occasions there arose a murmuring of the 
people against God, when His ways crossed their will, 
or seemed dark to their wisdom ; just as, on such 
occasions, there broke out among the people the ex- 
pression of doubt, dislike, and disputation, and they 
criticised those Divine dealings which should have been 
received with trust and lowliness, — so is it also, many 
a time, in the little world within us. There are such 
and such duties to be discharged and such and such 
trials to be encountered — or else a general course of 
duty is to be pursued under certain discouragements 
and perplexities. And, you submit, you do these things. 
But you do them with murmuring and disputing in 
your heart Why should it be thus ? " How is it fit," 
you say, "that such perplexities or such burdens should 
be appointed? Is it not reasonable, all things con- 
sidered, that I should have more indulgence and greater 
facilities; or, at least, that I should be excused from 
this conflict and this burden-bearing for the present ? " 
Meanwhile our conscience is satisfied because we have 
not rebelled in practice; and it takes no strict ac- 
count of the fretfulness which marred our act, or 
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142 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 

compliance. You are called, perhaps, to speak to some 
erring friend, or you have to go on a message of mercy 
to some one in affliction. Indolently you postpone it ; 
and your heart begins to stretch out its arms and to 
cling to the careless temper it has begun to indulge. 
At last conscience stirs, conscience is up, and you 
have to do something. But what you do is done 
grudgingly, with a heart that is murmuring and dis- 
puting. Again, you are called to deny yourself some 
worldly pleasure ; in Christian consistency you have to 
hold back from some form of dissipation ; or you have 
to take up a position of singularity and separation from 
other people. Reluctantly, you comply; only "mur- 
muring and disputing." Now this inward temper may 
never come to any man's knowledge, but shall we 
suppose it does not tell on the character and the 
influence of the life ? Can you, in that temper, play 
your part with the childlike, the cheerful, the dignified 
bearing, with the resemblance to Christ in your action, 
which God calls for? You cannot. The duty as to 
the husk and shell of it may be done ; but there can 
be little radiation of Christ's likeness in the doing of it. • 

Notice the Apostle's conception of the function which 
believers are to discharge in the world. They are set 
in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. These 
words were applied to the children of Israel of old on 
account of the stubborn insubordination with which 
they dealt with God; and they were applicable, for 
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ii. 12-18.] WORKING AND SHINING. 143 



gospel had come, but who had not bowed to it. Judged 
by the high and true standard, these Gentiles were 
crooked and perverse in their ways with one another, 
and still more so in their ways with God. Among 
them the Christians were to show what Christianity 
was, and what it could do. In the Christians was 
to appear, embodied, the testimony proposed to the 
crooked and perverse nation, a testimony against its 
perverseness, and yet revealing a remedy for it. In 
the persons of men, themselves originally crooked and 
perverse, this was to become plain and legible. Now 
how ? Why, by their being blameless and harmless, 
the sons of God without rebuke. 

It has been remarked already that the special way 
in which we are to manifest to the world the light ot 
Christianity is here represented as the way of blame- 
lessness. That man aright represents the mind of 
Christ to the world, who in the world keeps himself 
unspotted from the world, — in whom men recognise 
a character that traces up to a purer source elsewhere. 
As years pass, as cross lights fall upon the life, even 
in its most common and private workings, if it still 
proves that the man is cleansed by the faith he holds, 
if the unruly working of interest, and passion, and will, 
give way in him to motives of a higher strain, men 
will be impressed. They will own that here is some- 
thing rare and high, and that some uncommon cause 
is at the bottom of it. For the world knows well that 
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144 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



often plainly enough revealed by the trials of time. 
Therefore steadfast purity makes, at last, a deep 
impression. 

Innocence indeed is not the whole duty of a Christian; 
active virtue is required as well. The harmlessness 
called for is not a mere negative quality — it is supposed 
to be exhibited in an active life which strives to put on 
Christ Jesus. But the Apostle seems to lay stress 
especially on a certain quiet consistency, on a lowly 
and loving r^ard to the whole standard, which gives 
evenness and worthiness to the life. If you will do 
a Christian's office to the " perverse nation," you have 
to seek that they may have nothing against you except 
concerning the law of your God ; you have to seek 
that your reproach may be exclusively the reproach of 
Christ : so that if at any time the malice of men seeks 
to misconstrue your actions, and lays to your charge 
things which you know not, your well-doing may silence 
them ; and having no evil thing to say of you, they 
may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good con- 
versation in Christ. 

Strong appeals are made in our day to members of 
the Christian Church to engage actively in all kinds of 
Christian work. They are summoned to go forth 
aggressively upon the world's miser}' and sin. This 
has become a characteristic note of our time. Such 
appeals were needed. It is a shame that so many 
Christians have absolved themselves from the obli- 
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it 12-18.] WORKING AND SHINING, 145 



and the energies with which He has endowed them. 
Yet in this wholesale administration diversities are apt 
to be overlooked. Christians may be undervalued who 
do not possess qualities fitting them for the special 
activities ; or, attempting these without much aptitude, 
and finding little success, they may be unduly cast down. 
It is important to lay stress on this. There are some, 
perhaps we should say many, who must come to the 
conclusion, if they judge aright, that their gifts and 
opportunities indicate for them, as their sphere, a some- 
what narrow round of duties, mostly of that ordinary 
type which the common experience of human life sup- 
plies. But if they bring into these a Christian heart ; 
if they use the opportunities they have ; if they are 
watchful to please their Lord in the life of the family, 
the workshop, the market ; if the purifying influence of 
the faith by which they live comes to light in the steady 
excellence of their character and course, — then they 
need have no sense of exclusion from the work of Christ 
and of His Church. They, too, do missionary work. 
Blameless, harmless, unrebuked, they are seen as lights 
in the world. They contribute, in the manner that is 
most essential of all, to the Church's office in the world. 
And their place of honour and reward shall be far 
above that of many a Christian busybody, who is too 
much occupied abroad to keep the light clear and bright 
at home. 

Blameless, then, harmless, unaspersed, must the chil- 
dren of God, His redeemed children, be. So will the 

10 



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146 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 

light of Christian character come clearly out, and Chris- 
tians will be " luminaries, holding forth the word of life." 
The word of life is the message of salvation as it sets 
forth to us Christ, and goodness and blessedness by 
Him. Substantially it is that teaching which we have 
in the Scriptures ; although, when Paul wrote, the New 
Testament was not yet a treasure of the Churches, and 
the " word of life " only echoed to and fro from teacher 
to taught, and from one disciple to another. Still, the 
teaching rested on the Old Testament Scriptures under- 
stood in the light of the testimony of Jesus ; and it was 
controlled and guided by men speaking and writing in 
the Spirit. What it was therefore was very well 
known, and the influence of it as the seed of life eternal 
was felt. It was for Christians to hold by it, and to 
hold it out, — the expression used in ver. i6 may have 
either meaning ; and virtually both senses are here. In 
order to give light there must be life. And Christian life 
depends on having in us the word, quick and power- 
ful, which is to dwell in us richly in all wisdom and 
spiritual understanding. This must be the secret of 
blameless Christian lives ; and so those who have this 
character will give light, as holding forth the word of 
life. The man's visible character itself does this. For 
while the word and message of life is to be owned, 
professed, in fit times proclaimed, yet the embodiment 
of it in the man is the main point here, the character 
being formed and the practice determined by the 
"word" believed. So also we are said to live by the 



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ii. 12-18.] WORKING AND SHINING. 14? 



faith of the Son of God. The life of faith on Him, is 
the life of having and holding forth His word. 

Here, as everywhere, our Lord goes first. The 
Apostle John, speaking in his Gospel of the Eternal 
Word, tells us that in Him was life, and the life was 
the light of men. It was not merely a doctrine of light ; 
the life was the light. As He lived, in His whole 
being, in His acting and suffering, in His coming and 
staying and departing, in His Person and in His 
discharge of every office, He manifested the Father. 
Still we find it so ; as we contemplate Him, as His 
words leads us to Himself, we behold the glory, the 
radiance of grace and truth. 

Now His people are made like Him. They too, 
through the word of life, become partakers of true life. 
This life does not dwell in them as it does in their Lord, 
for He is its original seat and source ; hence they are 
not the hght of the world in the same sense in which 
He is so. Still they are luminaries, they are stars in 
the world. By manifesting the genuine influence of the 
word of life which dwells in them, they do make manifest 
in the world what truth and purity and salvation are. 
This is their calling ; and, in a measure, it is their 
attainment. 

The view of the matter given here may be compared 
with that in 2 Cor. iii. 4. Christ, the Father's Word, 
may also be regarded as the Father's living Epistle. 
Then those who behold Him, and drink in the sig- 
nificance of this message, are also themselves, in 



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148 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 

their turn, Epistles of Christ, known and read of ail 
men. 

So to shine is the calling of all believers, not of some 
only; each, according to his opportunities, may and 
ought to fulfil it. God designs to be glorified, and to 
have His salvation justified, in this form. Christ has 
said, in the plainest terms, " Ye are the light of the 
world." But to be so implies separateness from the 
world, in root and in fruits; and that is for many a 
hard saying. "Ye are a holy nation, a peculiar people, 
that ye should show forth the praises of Him who 
called you out of darkness into His marvellous light." 

In the sixteenth and following verses comes in again 
Paul's own share in the progress and victory of the 
Christian life in his friends. '' It would be exceeding 
well," he seems to say, " for you ; how well, you may 
gather partly from learning how well it would be for me." 
He would have cause to '' rejoice in the day of Christ " 
that he had " not run in vain, neither laboured in vain." 
What might be said on this has been anticipated in 
the remarks made on ch. i., ver. 20 fol. But here the 
Apostle is thinking of something more than the toil 
and labour expended in the work. More than these 
was to fall to his lot. His life of toil was to close in a 
death of martyrdom. And whether the Apostle was or 
was not enabled to foresee this certainly, doubtless he 
looked forward to it as altogether probable. So he 
says : " But if I be ofiered (or poured out as a drink- 
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ii. 12.18.J WORKING AND SHINING, 149 



joy and rejoice with you all ; and do ye also likewise 
joy and rejoice with me." 

To see the force of this expression we must remem- 
ber that it was an ancient custom to seal and complete 
a sacrifice by the pouring out of a libation on the altar 
or at the foot of it This might be intended as the 
crowning testimony of the abun'dant freewill with which 
the service had been rendered and the sacrifice had been 
offered. To some such rite the Apostle alludes when 
he speaks of himself— that is to say, of his own life — 
as poured forth at the sacrifice and service of their faith. 
And it is not hard to understand the idea which dictates 
this mode of speech. 

We read in Romans xii. an exhortation to the saints 
to yield themselves a living sacrifice^ which sacrifice is 
their reasonable service. They were to do so in the 
way of not being conformed to the world, but trans- 
formed by the renewing of their minds. So here : the 
course of conduct which the Apostle had been exhorting 
the Philippians to pursue was an act of worship or 
service, and in particular it was a sacrifice, the sacrifice 
of their faith, the sacrifice in which their faith was 
expressed. Each believer in offering this sacrifice acts 
as a priest, being a member of the holy priesthood 
which offers to God spiritual sacrifices (i Peter ii. 5). 
Such a man is not, indeed, a priest to make atonement, 
but he is a priest to present offerings through Christ 
his Head. The Philippians, then, in so far as they 
were, or were to be, yielding themselves in this manner 



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ISO THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 



to God, were priests who offered to God a spiritual 
sacrifice. 

Here let us notice, as we pass, that no religion is worth 
the name that has not its sacrifice through which the 
worshipper expresses his devotion. And in Christian 
religion the sacrifice is the consecration of the man and 
of his life to God's service in Christ. Let us all see 
to it what sacrifices we offer. 

This doctrine, then, of the priesthood and the sacrifice 
was verified in the case of the Philippians ; and, by the 
same rule, it held true also in the case of Paul himself 
He, as little as they, was priest to make atonement. 
But certainly when we see Paul so cordially yielding 
himself to the service of God in the gospel, and dis- 
charging his work with such willing labour and pains, 
we see in him one of Christ's priests offering himself to 
God a living sacrifice. Now is this all ? or is some- 
thing more to be said of Paul ? More is to be said ; 
and although the point now in view is not prominent 
in this passage, it is present as the underlying thought. 
For the whole sacrifice of holy life rendered by the 
Philippians, and by his other converts, was, in a sense, 
the offering of Paul also ; not theirs only, but his too. 
God gave him a standing in the matter, which he, at 
least, was not to overlook. God's grace, indeed, had 
wrought the work, and Paul was but an instrument ; 
yet so an instrument, that he had a living and abiding 
interest in the result He was not an instrument 
mechanically interposed, but one whose faith and love 



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11. I2-I8.] WORKING AND SHINING, 151 

had wrought to bring the result to pass. To him it had 
been given to labour and pray, to watch and guide, to 
spend and to be spent. And when the Apostle saw the 
lives of many true followers of Christ unfold as the 
result of his ministry, he could think that God owned 
his place too in bringing all this tribute to the temple. 
" God grants me a standing in the service of this 
offering. The Philippians bring it, each for himself, and 
it is theirs ; but I also bring it, and it is my offering 
too. God takes it at their hand, but also at my hand, 
as something which with all my heart I have laboured 
for and won, and brought to His footstool. I also have 
my place to present to Christ the sacrifice and service 
of faith of all these men who are living fruits of my 
ministry. I have been minister of Christ to these 
Gentiles, ' ministering the gospel of the grace of God, 
that the offering up of these Gentiles might be accept- 
able, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. I have 
therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ ' " 
(Rom. XV. 16, 17). 

There remains but one step to be made, to reach the 
seventeenth verse. Consider the Apostle's heart glowing 
with the thought that God counted the holy fruits of 
those believing lives to be sacrifice and service of his, 
as well as theirs, and accepted it not only from their 
hands, but from Paul's too. Consider the gladness with 
which he felt that after all his toil and pains he had this 
great offering to bring, as his thank-offering to his Lord. 
And then imagine him hearing a voice which says : 



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THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



'' Now then, seal your service, crown your offering ; be 
yourself the final element of sacrifice ; pour out your 
life. You have laboured and toiled, spent years and 
strength, very willingly, and most fruitfully: that is 
over now ; one thing remains ; die for the worthy name 
of Him who died for you." It is this he is contem- 
plating : lil be poured out at the sacrifice and service 
of your faith ; if I am called to go on and to complete 
the sacrifice and service ; if one thing more alone is left 
for Paul the aged and the prisoner, and that one thing 
be to lay down the life whose labours are ending ; if the 
life itself is to run out in one final testimony that my 
whole heart, that all I am and have are Christ's, — shall 
not I rejoice ? will not you rejoice with me ? That will 
be the final identification of my life with your sacrifice 
and service. It will be the expression of God's accept- 
ing the completed gift. It will be the libation that 
crowns the service. I am not to be used, and then set 
aside as having no more interest in the results. On the 
contrary, your Christianity and mine, in the wonderful 
relation they have to one another, are to pass to God 
together as one offering. If, after running and labouring, 
all issues in my life being finally poured out in martyr- 
dom, that, as it were, identifies me finally and inseparably 
with the sacrifice and service which has filled your 
lives, and also my life It becomes one complete 
offering. 

It may give cause for thought to ministers of the 
gospel that the Apostle should so vitally and vividly 



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ii. 12-18.] WORKING AND SHINING. 153 



connect himself with the results of his work. It was 
no languid, no perfunctory ministry that led up to this 
high mood. His heart's blood had been in it; the 
strength and passion of his love to Christ had been 
poured out and spent on his work and his converts. 
Therefore he could feel that in some gracious and 
blessed way the fruits that came were still his — given 
to him to bring to the altar of the Lord. How well 
shall it be with the Churches when the ministry of their 
pastors burns with a flame like this ! What an image 
of the pastoral care is here expressed ! 

But may not all Christian hearts be stirred to see 
the devotedness and the love which filled this man's 
soul ? The constraining power of the love of Christ so 
wrought in him that he triumphed and rejoiced both in 
bringing and in becoming an offering, — breaking out, as 
it were, into sacrifice and service, and pouring out his life 
an offering to the Father and the Son. All hearts may 
be stirred ; for all, perhaps, can imagine such a mood. 
But how many of us have it as a principle and a 
passion entering into our own lives ? 



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" But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy shortly unto you, 
that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I 
have no man likeminded, who will care truly [genuinely] for your 
state. For thej- all seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ. 
But ye know the proof of him, that, as a child serveth a father, so he 
served with me in furtherance of the gospel. Him therefore I hope to 
send forthwith, so soon as I shall sec how it will go with me : but I 
trust in the Lord that I myself also shall come shortl3\ But I counted 
it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow- 
worker and fellow-soldier, and your messenger and minister to my 
need ; since he longed after you all, and was sore troubled, because 
ye had heard that he was sick : for indeed he was sick nigh unto 
death : but God had mercy on him ; and not on him only, but on me 
also, that I might not have sorrow upon sorrow. I have .sent him 
therefore the more diligently, that, when ye see him again, ye may 
rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. Receive him therefore 
in the Lord with all joy; and hold such in honour: because for . 
the work of Christ he came nigh unto death, hazarding his life to 
supply that which was lacking in your service toward me." — Phil. 
ii. 19-30 (R.V.). 



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CHAPTER IX. 

TIMOTHY AND EPAPHRODITUS. 

THE outpouring of his thoughts, his feelings, and 
his desires towards the Philippians has so far 
spent itself. Now he turns to mention the steps he is 
taking, in response to their communication, to express 
practically his love and his care for their welfare. Yet 
we must carry along with us what has just been said 
of the Christian service and sacrifice, and of the tie 
between the Apostle and his converts; for these thoughts 
are still in the Apostle's mind, and they gleam through 
the passage which now comes before us. 

Paul had been contemplating the possibility of dying 
soon in his Master's cause : no doubt it was an alter- 
native often present to his mind; and we see with 
what a glow of high association it rose before him. 
Still he, like ourselves, had to await his Master's will, 
had meanwhile to carry on the business of his life, and 
indeed (ch. i. 25) was aware that the prolongation of his 
life might very likely be a course of things more in the 
line of God's purpose, and more serviceable to the 
Churches at Philippi and elsewhere. So, while he has 

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158 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



expressed the mood in which both they and he are to 
face the event of his martyrdom, when it comes, he does 
not hesitate to express the expectation that he may be 
set free and may see them again. Meanwhile he has 
made up his mind ere long to send Timothy. Timothy 
will bring them news of Paul, and will represent the 
Apostle among them as only a very near and con- 
fidential friend could do; at the same time he will 
bring back to Paul an account of things at Philippi, 
no doubt after doing all that with God's help he could 
to instruct, correct, and edify the Church during his 
stay. In this way a sustaining and gladdening ex- 
perience for the Philippian Christians would be pro- 
vided ; and, at the same time, Paul too (I also^ ver. 19) 
would be gladdened by receiving from so trustworthy 
a deputy a report upon men and things at Philippi. 
In connection with this declaration of his intention, 
the Apostle reveals some of the reflections which 
had occupied his mind; and these suggest several 
lessons. 

I. Notice the spirit of sell-sacrifice on Paul's part. 
Timothy was the one thoroughly trusted and congenial 
friend within his reach. To a man who was a prisoner, 
and on whom the burden of many anxieties fell, it was 
no small ease to have one such friend beside him. Our 
blessed Lord Himself craved for loving human fellow- 
ship in His time of sorrow ; and so must Paul do also. 
Yet all must give way to the comfort and well-being of 
the Churches. As soon as Paul can descry how it is to 



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ii. 19-30.] TIMOTHY AND EPAPHRODITUS. IS9 

go with him, so that plans may be adjusted to the like- 
lihoods of the situation, Timothy is to go on his errand 
to Philippi. 

2. Notice the importance which may justly attach 
to human instrumentalities. One is not as good as 
another. Some are far more fit for use than others are. 
The Apostle thought earnestly on the point who was 
fittest to go, and he was glad he had a man like 
Timothy to send. It is true that the supreme source of 
success in gospel work is God Himself ; and sometimes 
He gives unexpected success to unlikely instruments. 
But yet, as a rule, much depends on men being adapted 
to their work. When God prepares fresh blessing for 
His Church, He commonly raises up men fitted for the 
service to be rendered. Therefore we do well to pray 
earnestly for men eminently qualified to do the Lord's 
work. 

3. Timothy's special fitness for this mission was that 
he had a heart to care for them, especially to care for 
their true and highest interests. So far, he resembled 
Paul himself. He had the true pastoral heart He 
had caught the lessons of Paul's own life. That was 
the main thing. No doubt he had intellectual gifts, 
but his dispositions gave him the right use of gifts. 
The loving heart, and the watchfulness and thoughtful- 
ness which that inspires, do more to create pastoral 
wisdom than any intellectual superiority. Timothy had 
a share of the " mind " of Christ (ver. 5), and that made 
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i6o THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



Philippians, as well as a trustworthy reporter concerning 
their state and prospects. 

4. What is most fitted to impress us, is the difficulty 
which Paul experienced in finding a suitable messenger, 
and the manner in which he describes his difficulty. 
He was conscious in himself of a self-forgetting love 
and care for the Churches, which was part, and a great 
part, of his Christian character. He was ready (i Cor. 
X. 33) to please all men in all things, not seeking his 
own profit, but the profit of many, that they might be 
saved. He looked out for men among his friends 
whose hearts might answer to him here, but he did not 
find them. He had no man likeminded. One indeed 
was found, but no more. As he looked round, a sense 
of disappointment settled on him. * 

One asks of whom this statement is made — that he 
finds none likeminded — that all seek their own ? Pro- 
bably not of Epaphroditus, for Epaphroditus goes at any 
rate, and the question is about some one in addition, 
to be, as it were, Paul's representative and commis- 
sioner. Nor are we entitled to say that it applies to 
Tychicus, Aristarchus, Marcus, and Jesus, mentioned 
in Colossians iv. For these men might not be with 
the Apostle at the precise moment of his writing 
to the Philippians; and the character given to them 
in the Epistle to the Colossians seems to set them 
clear of the inculpation in this passage : unless we 
suppose that, even in the case of some of them, a failure 
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i. 19-30.] TIMOTHY AND EPAPHRODITUS, 161 



written, which vexed the Apostle, and forced him to 
judge them unprepared at present for the service. It 
will be safest, however, not to assume that these men 
were with him, or that they are here in view. 

Still, the sad comment of the Apostle must apply 
to men of some standing and some capacity, — men 
of Christian profession, men who might naturally be 
thought of in connection with such a task. As he 
surveyed them, he was obliged to note the deplorable 
defect, which perhaps had not struck himself so forcibly 
until he began to weigh the men against the mission he 
was planning for them. Then he saw how they came 
short ; and also, how this same blight prevailed gener- 
ally among the Christians around him. Men were not 
" likeminded " ; no man was " likeminded." All seek 
their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. Is 
not this a sad saying? What might one expect at 
the outset of a noble cause, the cause of Christ's truth 
and Church ? What might one count upon in the circle 
that stood nearest to the Apostle Paul ? Yet this is the 
account of it, — ^All seek their own, not the tljings which 
are Jesus Christ's. 

Is it any wonder that the Apostle pleads earnestly 
with Christians to cherish the mind of " not looking 
each of you to his own things " (ver. 4) ; that he presses 
the great example of the Saviour Himself; that he 
celebrates elsewhere (i Cor. xiii.) the beauty of .that 
love which seeketh not its own and beareth all things ? 
For we see how the meaner spirit beset him and 

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i62 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



hemmed him in, even in the circle of his Christian 
friends. 

What does his description mean ? It does not mean 
that the men in question broke the ordinary Christian 
rules. It does not mean that any Church could have 
disciplined them for provable sins. Nay, it does not 
mean that they were destitute of fear of God and love 
to Christ. But yet, to the Apostle's eye, they were too 
visibly swayed by the eagerness about their own things; 
so swayed, that their ordinary course was governed 
and determined by it. It might be love of ease, it might 
be covetousness, it might be pride, it might be party 
opinion, it might be family interests, it might even be 
concentration on their own religious comfort : — how- 
ever it might be, to this it came in the end, All seek 
their own. Some of them might be quite unsound, 
deceivers or deceived ; especially, for instance, if Demas 
(2 Tim. iv. 10) was one of them. But even those of 
whom the Apostle might be persuaded better things, 
and things that accompany salvation, were so far gone 
in this disease of seeking their own, that the Apostle 
could have no confidence in sending them, as otherwise 
he would have done, on a mission in which the mind 
and care of Christ were to be expressed to Christ's 
Church. He could not rely on a " genuine care." 

You mistake if you suppose this faulty state implied, 
in all these cases, a deliberate, conscious preference of 
their own things above the things of Jesus Christ. The 
men might really discern a supreme beauty and worth 



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ii. 19-30.] TIMOTHY AND EPAPHRODITUS, 163 

in the things of Christ ; they might honestly judge that 
Christ had a supreme claim on their loyalty ; and they 
might have a purpose to adhere to Christ and Christ's 
cause at great cost, if the cost must finally be borne. 
And yet meanwhile, in their common life, the other 
principle manifested itself far too victoriously. The 
place which their own things held — the degree in which 
their life was influenced by the bearing of things on 
themselves, was far from occupying that subordinate 
place which Christ has assigned to it. The things of 
Jesus Christ did not rise in their minds above other 
interests, but were jostled, and crowded, and thrust 
aside by a thousand things that were their own. 

You may not cherish any avowed purpose to seek 
your own; you may have learned to love Christ for 
the best reasons ; you may have the root of the matter 
in you ; you may have made some sacrifices that 
express a sense of Christ's supreme claims : and yet 
you may be a poor style of Christian, an inconsistent 
Christian, a careless, unwatchful Christian. Especially 
you may habitually fail to make a generous estimate of 
the place to be given to the things of Jesus Christ. 
You may not be reckoned so defective either in general 
judgment or in your own esteem, because you may 
come up very well to what is usually expected. And 
yet you may be allowing any Christianity you have to 
be largely stifled and repressed by foreign and alien 
influences, by a crowd of occupations and recreations 
that steal heart and life away. You may be taking no 



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1 64 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 

proper pains, no loving pains, to be a Christian, in 
Christ's sense of what that should be. Though only at 
the beginning of the conflict, you may be living as if 
there was scarcely a conflict to be fought. And so in 
practice, in the history of your hours, you may be seek- 
ing your own things to an extent that is even disgraceful 
to Christian religion. . You may allow your course of 
thought and action to be dictated by that which is of 
self, by gain, self-indulgence, or frivolity, to a degree 
that would even be appalling if your eyes were opened 
to discern it. We all know that in religious exercises 
formality may usurp a large place, even in the case of 
men who have received power for reality. Just so in 
the Christian course, and under the Christian name and 
calling, what is " your own " may be suffered to encroach 
most lamentably on the higher principle ; so that an 
Apostle looking at you must say, " They all seek their 
own, not the things that are Jesus Christ's." You are 
not faithful enough to apply Christ's standard to your 
heart and ways, nor diligent enough to seek His Spirit. 
Perhaps if you were strongly tempted to deny Christ, 
or to fall into some great scandalous sin, you would 
awaken to the danger and cling to your Saviour for 
your life. But as things go commonly, you kt them 
go. And the consequence is, you are largely losing 
your lives. What should be your contribution to the 
good cause, and so should be your own gladness and 
honour, never comes to pass. Some of you have 
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ii. 19-30.] TIMOTHY AND EPAPHRODITUS, 165 



do not seem to find any doorways into Christian useful- 
ness. You do wish to see Christ's cause prosper. Yet 
somehow it never seems to come to your hands to do 
anything effectually or fruitfully for the cause. What 
con the reason be ? Alas, in the case of how many the 
reason is just what it was in the case of Paul's friends : 
you are so largely seeking your own things, not the 
things that are Jesus Christ's, that you are not fit to be 
sent on any mission. If the Apostle could say this to the 
Christians of his day, how great must be the danger still ! 
Now if we look at it as part of the experience of 
Paul the Apostle, to find this temper so prevailing 
around him, we learn another lesson. We know 
Paul's character, his enthusiasm, the magnanimous 
faith and love with which he counted all to be loss in 
comparison of Christ. And yet, we see what he found 
among the Christians around him. This has been so 
in every age. The unreasonableness, faintheartedness, 
and faithlessness of men, the unchristlikeness of Chris- 
tians, have been matter of experience. If our hearts 
were enlarged to plan and endeavour more generously 
for Christ's cause, we should feel this a great trial. All 
large-hearted Christians have to encounter it. Let it 
be remembered that it is not peculiar to any age. The 
Apostle had full experience of it. " Demas hath for- 
saken me, having loved this present world. . . . Alex- 
ander the coppersmith did me much evil. ... At my 
first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook 
me" (2 Tim. iv. 10-16). Let us be assured, that if 



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i66 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 

Christ's work is to be done, we must be prepared not 
only for the opposition of the world, but for the coldness 
and the disapprobation of many in the Church — of some 
whom we cordially believe to be, after all, heirs of the 
kingdom. 

Timothy is to go to Philippi, and is to bring to Paul 
a full report. But, at the same time, the Apostle finds 
it necessary to send Epaphroditus, not, apparently, with 
a view to his returning to Rome again, but to resume 
his residence at PhilippL It seems, on all accounts, 
reasonable to believe that Epaphroditus belonged to 
the Philippian Church, and was in office there. In 
this case he is to be distinguished from Epaphras 
(Col. iv. 12), with whom some would identify him, for 
no doubt Epaphras belonged to Colossae. Epaphro- 
ditus had come to Rome, bearing with him the gifts 
which assured Paul of the loving remembrance in which 
he was held at Philippi, and of the abiding desire to 
minister to him which was cherished there. His own 
Christian zeal led Epaphroditus to undertake the duty, 
and he had borne himself in it as became a warm- 
hearted and public-spirited Christian. He had been 
Paul's brother and fellow-workman and fellow-soldier. 
But, meanwhile, the Apostle was aware how valuable 
his presence might be felt to be at Philippi. And Epa- 
phroditus himself had conceived a longing to see the 
old friends, and to resume the old activities in the 
Philippian Church. For he had been sick, very sick, 
almost dead. Amid the weakness and inactivity of 



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ii. 19-30.] TIMOTHY AND EPAPHRODITUS. 167 



convalescence, his thoughts had been much at Philippi, 
imagining how the brethren there might be moved at 
the tidings of his state, and yearning, perhaps, for the 
faces and the voices which he knew so well. Paul 
was accustomed to restrain and sacrifice his own feel- 
ings; but that did not make him inattentive to the 
feelings of other people. Trying as his position at 
Rome was, he would not keep Epaphroditus in these 
circumstances. He had had great comfort in his com- 
pany, and would be glad to retain it. But he would be 
more glad to think of the joy at Philippi when Epa- 
phroditus should return. So he gives back Epaphro- 
ditus. As he does so he admonishes his friends to value 
adequately what they are receiving. Paul was sending 
to them a true-hearted and large-hearted Christian ; 
one who allowed nothing — neither difficulties nor risks 
—to stand in the way of Christian service and Christian 
sympathy. Let such men be had in reputation. It is 
a lawful and right thing to make a high estimate of 
Christian character where it eminently appears, and to 
honour such persons very highly in love. If they are 
not honoured and prized, it is too likely that others 
will be whom it is not so fit and so wholesome to 
admire. And the ground of admiration in the case of 
Epaphroditus sets once more before us the theme of 
the whole chapter: Epaphroditus was to be had in 
reputation because he had approved himself to be one 
seeking not his own, one willing to lay down his life 
for the brethren. 



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NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH. 



*69 



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" Finally, my brethren, rejoice m the Lord. To write the same 
things to you, to me indeed is not irksome, but for you it is safe. 
Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the 
concision : for we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of 
God, and glory in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh : 
though I myself might have confidence even in the flesh : if any other 
man thinketh to have confidence in the flesh, I yet more : circumcised 
the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a 
Hebrew of Hebrews ; as touching the law, a Pharisee ; as touching zeal, 
persecuting the Church; as touching the righteousness which is in 
the law, found blameless. Howbeit what things were gain to me, 
these have I counted loss for Christ. Yea verily, and I count all things 
to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my 
Lord."— Phil. iii. i-8 (R.V.). 



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CHAPTER X. 

NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH, 

THE third chapter contains the portion of this 
Epistle in which, perhaps, one is hardest put to 
it to keep pace with the writer. Here he gives us one 
of his most remarkable expositions of true Christian 
religion as he knew it, and as he maintains it must essen- 
tially exist for others also. He does this in a burst of 
thought and feeling expressed together : so that, if we 
are to take his meaning, the fire and the light must 
both alike do their work upon us ; we must feel and see 
both at once. This is one of the pages to which a 
Bible reader turns again and again. It is one of the 
passages that have special power to find and to stir 
believing men. 

Yet it seems to find its place in the letter almost 
incidentally. 

It would seem, as some have thought, that in the 
first verse of this chapter the Apostle begins to draw 
his letter to a close. Cheerful words of farewell begin 
to shape themselves. At the same time a closing 
reference is in view to some practical danger that 



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172 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 

required to be guarded against. Almost suddenly 
things take a new turn, and a flood of great ideas 
claim and take their place. 

" Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord." Re- 
joice, Be of good cheer, was the common formula of 
leave-taking. The same word is translated " farewell " 
in 2 Cor. xiii. 1 1 (Authorised and Revised Versions). 
But the Apostle, especially in this Epistle, which is 
itself inspired by so much of Christian gladness, can- 
not but emphasise the proper meaning of the customary 
phrase. Rejoice, yes, rejoice, my brethren, in the Lord. 
The same turn of thought recurs again in ch. iv. 4. 
What it is fitted to suggest will be equally in place 
when we reach that point. 

Now he seems to be on the point of introducing 
some subject already referred to, either in this or in 
a previous Epistle. It concerned the safety of the 
Philippians, and it required some courteous preface in 
touching on it once again ; so that, most likely, it was 
a point of some delicacy. Some have thought this topic 
might be the tendency to dissension which had appeared 
in Philippi. It is a subject which comes up again in ch. iv. : 
it may have been upon the point of coming up here. 
The closing words of ver. i might well enough preface 
such a reference. The theme was not so pleasant as 
some of those on which he had written : it might be 
delicate for him to handle ; and it might call for some 
effort on their part to take it well Yet it concerned 
their safety that they should fully realise this element 



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iii. 1-8.] NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH. 173 

of the situation, and should take the right view of it. 
Therefore also the Apostle would not count it irksome to 
do his part in relation to it. People entangled in a fault 
are in circumstances not favourable to a right estimate 
of their own case. They need help from those who 
can judge more soundly. Yet help must be tendered 
with a certain considerateness. 

But at this point a new impulse begins to operate. 
Perhaps the Apostle was interrupted, and, before he 
could resume, some news reaches him, awakening 
afresh the indignation with which he always regarded 
the tactics of the Judaisers. Nothing indicates that the 
Philippian Church was much disposed to Judaise. But 
if at this juncture some new disturbance from the 
Judaisers befell his work at Rome, or if news of that 
kind reached him from some other field, it might 
suggest the possibility of those sinister influences 
finding their way also to Philippi. This is, of course, 
a conjecture merely ; but it is not an unreasonable one. 
It has been offered as an explanation of the somewhat 
sudden burst of warning that breaks upon us in 
ch. iii. 2; while, in the more tranquil strain of 
ch. iv., topics are resumed which easily link them- 
selves to ch. iii. I.* 



* In the text Ewald's suggestion is followed^ in the form given to 
it by Lightfoot. Meyer's view, however, may seem simpler to some 
readers. He thinks that ''the same things'* of ch. iii. i are the 
warnings against Judaising which actually follow in ver. 2. Accord- 
ing to Meyer, the Apostle had alreac^> in a previous Epistle, warned 



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174 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 

. Still, even if this denunciation of Judaising comes in 
rather unexpectedly, it does not really disturb the main 
drift of the Epistle, nor does it interfere with the 
lessons which the Philippians were to learn. It rather 
contributes to enforce the views and deepen the im- 
pressions at which Paul aims. For the denunciation 
becomes the occasion of introducing a glowing descrip- 
tion of how Christ found Paul, and what Paul found in 
Christ. This is set against the religion of Judaising. 
But at the same time, and by the nature of the case, 
it becomes a magnificent exposure and rebuke of all 
fleshly religionising, of all the ways of being religious 
that are superficial, self-confident, and worldly-minded. 
It also becomes a stirring call to what is most central 
and vital in Christian religion. If then there was at 
Philippi, as there is everywhere, a tendency to be too 
easily contented with what they had attained ; or to 
reconcile Christianity with self-seeking ; or to indulge 
a Christianised arrogance and quarrelsomeness ; or, in 



the Philippians against the Judaisers, and he considers it " safer " for 
them and ** not irksome '' to himself to repeat the admonition. In 
this view the connection between w. i and 2 may be stated in this 
way : " Rejoice in the Lord ; and, need I repeat it ? — ^jres, it is better 
that I should repeat it, — rejoicing in the Lord is wholly contrary to 
that boasting in the flesh which characterises some great religious 
pretenders well known to you and me. ^Beware of them! The 
energetic scorn of the phrasing is explained by supposing that the 
circumstances and the argument of the former Epistle had led to this 
animated denunciation, so that the Apostle recapitulates phrases 
that were well remembered in the Philippian congregation. 



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iii. 1-8.] NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH. 175 



any other shape, " having begun in the spirit to be made 
perfect in the flesh," — here was exactly what they 
needed. Here, too, they might find a vivid repre- 
sentation of the "one spirit" in which they were to 
'* stand fast," the " one soul " in which they were to 
" labour " together (ch. i. 2j). That " one spirit " is 
the mind which is caught, held, vitalised, continudly 
drawn upwards and forwards, by the revelation and 
the appropriation of Christ. 

The truth is that a remiss Christianity always be- 
comes very much a Judaism. Such Christianity assumes 
that a life of respectable conventions, carried on within 
sacred institutions, will please God and save our souls. 
What the Apostle has to set against Judaism may very 
well be set against that in all its forms. 

" Keep an eye on the dogs, on the evil workers, on 
the concision." The Judaisers are not to occupy him 
very long, but we see they are going to be thoroughly 
disposed of. Dogs is a term borrowed from their own 
vocabulary. They classed the Gentiles (even the 
uncircumcised Christians) as dogs, impure beings who 
devoured all kinds of meat and were open to all kinds 
of uncleanness. But themselves, the Apostle intimates, 
were the truly impure, shutting themselves out from the 
true purity, the heart's purity, and (as Dr. Lightfoot ex- 
presses it) " devouring the garbage of carnal ordinances." 
They were also evil workers, mischievous busybodies, 
pertinaciously busy, but busy to undo rather than to 
build up what is good, "subverting men's souls" 



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176 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 

(Acts XV. 24). And they were the concision ; not the 
circumcision according to the true intent of that ordi- 
nance, but the concision, the mutilation or gashing. 
Circumcision was a word which carried in its heart a 
high meaning of separation from evil and of consecration 
to the Lord. That meaning (and therefore also the 
word which carried it) pertained to gospel believers, 
whether outwardly circumcised or not. For the Juda- 
ising zealots could be claimed only a circumcision 
which had lost its sense, and which no more deserved 
the name, — a senseless gashing of the flesh, a concision. 
All these terms seem to be levelled at certain persons 
who are in the Apostle's view, and are not unknown to 
the Philippians, though not necessarily resident in that 
city. 

For any full statement of the grounds of the Apostle's 
indignation at the Judaising propaganda, the reader 
must be referred to the expository writings on other 
Epistles, especially on those to the Corinthians and to 
the Galatians. Here a few words must suffice. Juda- 
ising made the highest pretensions to religious security 
and success ; it proposed to expound the only worthy 
and genuine view of man's relation to God. But in 
reality the Judaisers wholly misrepresented Christianity, 
for they had missed the main meaning of it. Judaising 
turned men's minds away from what was highest to 
what was lowest, — from love to law, from God's gifts 
to man's merits, from inward life and power to outward 
ceremonial performance, from the spiritual and eternal 



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iii. I-8.J NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH. 177 



to the material and the temporary. Jt was a huge, 
melancholy mistake ; and yet it was pressed upon 
Christians as the true religion, which availed with God, 
and could alone bring blessing to men. Hence, as our 
Lord denounced the Pharisees with special energy, — 
sometimes with withering sarcasm (Luke xi. 47), — so, 
and for the same reasons, does Paul attack the Judaisers- 
The Pharisees applied themselves to turn the religion of 
Israel into a soul-withering business of formalism and 
pride ; and Paul's opponents strove to pervert to like 
effect even the gracious and life-giving gospel of Christ. 
To such he would give place, no, not for an hour. 

Two things may be suggested here. One is the 
responsibility incurred by those who make a religious 
profession, and in that character endeavour to exert 
religious influence upon others. Such men are taking 
possession, as far as they can, of what is highest and 
most sacred in the soul's capacities ; and if they mis- 
direct the soul's life here, if consciously or unconsciously 
they betray interests so sacred, if they successfully 
teach men to take false coin for true in the matter of 
the soul's dealings with God and with its own welfare, 
their responsibility is of the heaviest. 

Another point to notice is the energy with which the 
Apostle thinks it right to denounce these evil workers. 
Denunciation is a line of things in which, as we know very 
well, human passion is apt to break loose — the wrath of 
man which worketh not the righteousness of God. The 
history of religious controversy has made this very 

12 



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178 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



plain. Yet surely we may say that zeal for truth must 
sometimes show itself in an honest indignation against 
the wilfulness and the blindness of those who are 
misleading others. It is not always well to be merely 
mild and placable. That may arise in some cases from 
no true charity, but rather from indifference, or from an 
amiability that is indolent and selfish. It is good to 
be zealously affected in a good thing. Only, we have 
reason to take heed to ourselves and to our own spirit, 
when we are moved to be zealous in the line of con- 
demning and denouncing. Not all who do so have 
approved their right to do it, by tokens of spiritual 
wisdom and single-hearted sincerity such as marked 
the life and work of Paul. 

The Judaisers put abroad the false coin, and believers 
in Christ, whether circumcised or not, had the true. 
'* We are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit 
of God, and who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put 
no confidence in the flesh." Such are truly Abraham's 
children (Gal. iii. 29). To them belong whatever rela- 
tion to God, and interest in God, were shadowed forth 
by circumcision in the days of old. 

No doubt, the rite of circumcision was outward ; 
and no doubt it came to be connected with a great 
system of outward ordinances and outward providences. 
Yet circumcision, according to the Apostle, pointed not 
outwards, but inwards (Rom. ii. 28, 29). Elsewhere he 
lays stress on this, that circumcision, when first given, 
was a seal of faith. In the Old Testament itself, the 



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iii. 1-8.] NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH, 179 

complaint made by the prophets, speaking for God, was 
that the people, though circumcised in flesh, were of 
uncircumcised heart and uncircumcised ears. And God 
threatens to punish Israel with the Gentiles — the 
circumcised with the uncircumcised — because all the 
house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart. 

The true circumcision then must be those, in the 
first place, who have the true, the essentially true 
worship. Circumcision set men apart as worshippers 
of the true God : hence Israel came to be thought of as 
a people " instantly serving (or worshipping) God day 
and night." That this worship must include more 
than outward service in order to be a success — that it 
should include elements of high spiritual worth, was 
disclosed in Old Testament revelation with growing 
clearness. One promise on which it rested was : *' The 
Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the 
heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all 
thy heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live." 
The true circumcision, those who answer to the type 
which circumcision was meant to set, must be those who 
have the true worship. Now that is the worship ** by the 
Spirit " ; on which we shall have a word to say presently. 

And again, the true circumcision must be those who 
have the true glorying. Israel, called to glory in 
their God, were set apart also to cherish in that con- 
nection a great hope, which was to bless their line, 
and, through them, the world. That hope was fulfilled 
in Christ. The true circumcision were those who 



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i8o THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 



welcomed the fulfilment of the promise, who rejoiced in 
the fulness of the blessing, because they had eyes to 
see and hearts to feel its incomparable worth. 

And certainly, therefore, as men who had discovered 
the true foundation and refuge, they must renounce and 
turn from the false trust, they must put no confidence 
in the flesh. Is this, however, a paradox ? Was not 
circumcision " outward, in the flesh " ? Was it not 
found to be a congruous part of a concrete system, 
built up of *' elements of this world " ? Was not the 
temple a " worldly sanctuary," and were not the sacri- 
fices " carnal ordinances " ? Yes ; and yet the true 
circumcision did not trust in circumcision. He who 
truly took the meaning of that remarkable dispensation 
was trained to say, " Doth not my soul wait on God ? 
from Him cometh my salvation." And he was trained 
to renounce the confidences in which the nations 
trusted. Hence, though such a man could accept 
instruction and impression from many an ordinance 
and many a providence, he was still led to place his 
trust higher than the flesh. And now, when the true 
light was come, when the Kingdom of God shone out in 
its spiritual principles and forces, the true circumcision 
must be found in those who turned from that which 
appealed only to the earthly and the fleshly mind, 
that they might fasten on that in which God revealed 
Himself to contrite and longing souls. 

The Apostle therefore claimed the inheritance and 

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iii. 1-8.] NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH, i8i 



representation of the ancient holy people for spiritual 
believers, rather than for Judaising ritualists. But 
apart from questions as to the connection between suc- 
cessive covenants, it is worth our while to weigh well 
the significance of those features of Christian religion 
which are here emphasised. 

"We," he says, "worship by the Spirit of God." The 
Holy Spirit was not absent from the old economy. 
But in those days the consciousness and the faith of 
His working were dim, and the understanding of the 
scope of it was limited. In the times of the New 
Testament, on the contrary, the promise and the 
presence of the Spirit assume a primary place. This 
is the great promise of the Father which was to come 
into manifestation and fulfilment when Christ had 
gone away. This, from Pentecost onwards, was to be 
distinctive of the character of Christ's Church. Accord- 
ing to the Apostle Paul, it is one great end of Christ's 
redemption, that we may receive the promise of the 
Spirit through faith. So, in particular, Christian wor- 
ship is by the Spirit of God. Therefore it is a real and 
most inward fellowship with God. In this worship it 
is the office of the Holy Spirit to give us a sense of the 
reality of Divine things, especially of the truths and 
promises of God ; to touch our hearts with their good- 
ness, on account especially of the Divine love that 
breathes in them ; to dispose us to decision, in the 
way of consent and surrender to God as thus revealed. 
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i82 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 



So he brings us, in oar worship, to meet with God, 
mind to mind, heart to heart. Although all our 
thoughts, as well as all our desires, come short, yet, in 
a measure, a real consent with God about His Son and 
about the blessings of His Son's gospel comes to pass. 
Then we sing with the Spirit, when our songs are 
filled with confidence and admiration, arising out of a 
sense of God's glory and grace ; and we pray in the 
Holy Ghost, when our supplications express this loving 
and thankful close with God's promises. It is our 
calling and our blessedness to worship by the Spirit of 
God. Much of our worship might fall silent, if this* alone 
should be upheld : yet this alone avails and finds God. 
Whatever obscures this, or distracts attention from it, 
whether it be called Jewish or Christian, does not aid 
worship, but mars it. 

It is true that the presence of the Spirit of God is not 
discernible otherwise than by the fruits of His working. 
And the difficulty may be raised, how can we, in prac- 
tice, be secure of having the Spirit, thereby to worship 
God ? But, on the one hand, we know in some 
degree what the nature of the worship is which He 
sustains ; we can form some conception of the atti- 
tude and exercise of soul towards Christ and God 
which constitutes that worship. We do therefore 
know something as to what we should seek ; we are 
aware of the direction in which our face should be 
set. On the other hand, the presence of the Spirit 
with us, to make such worship real in our case, is an 



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r 



-8.] NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH. 183 



object of faith. We believe in God for that gracious 
presence, and ask for it ; and so doing, we expect it, 
according to God's own promise. On this under- 
standing we apply ourselves to find entrance and 
progress in the worship which is by the Spirit 

All appliances which are supposed to aid worship, 
which are conceived to add to its beauty, pathos, or 
sublimity, are tolerable only so far as they do not 
tend to divert us from the worship which is by the 
Spirit. Experience shows that men are extremely 
prone to fall back from the simplicity and intentness 
of spiritual worship; and then they cover the gap, 
which they cannot fill, by outward arrangements of an 
impressive and affecting kind. Outward arrangements 
can render real service to worshippers, only if they 
remove hindrances, and supply conditions under which 
the simplicity and intentness of the worship " by the 
Spirit " may go on undisturbed. Very often they have 
tended exactly in the contrary direction ; not the less 
because they have been introduced, perhaps, with the 
best intentions. And yet the chief question of all is not 
the more or less, the this or that, of such circumstan- 
tials ; but rather what the heart fixes on and holds by. 

Again, we ** glory in Christ Jesus." Christians are 
rich and great, because Christ Jesus assumes a place in 
their mind and life, such as makes them partakers of 
all spiritual blessing in Him. They glory, not in what 
they are, or do, or become, or get, but in Christ. 
Glorying in anything implies a deep sense of its 



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iS4 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 



wonderfulness and worth, along with some persuasion 
that it has a happy relation to ourselves. So Christ is 
the power and wisdom of God, the revelation of the 
Father, the way to the Father, the centre of blessing, 
the secret of religious restoration, attainment, and 
success : and He is ours ; and He sets the type of 
what we through Him shall be. To glory and triumph 
in Christ is a leading characteristic of Christian religion. 
And so, then, we " put no confidence in the flesh." If 
in Christ, under the revelation which centres in Him, 
we have found the way to God and the liberty to serve 
God, then all other ways must be for us ipso facto 
exposed and condemned ; they are seen to be fallacious 
and fruitless. All these other ways are summed up in 
" the flesh." For the flesh is human nature fallen, with 
the resources which it wields, drawn from itself or from 
earthly materials of some kind. And in some selection 
or combination of these resources, the religion of the 
flesh stands. The renunciation of trust in such ways 
of establishing a case before God is included in the 
acceptance of Christ's authority and Christ's salvation. 
This condemns alike the confidence in average morality, 
and that in accredited ecclesiastical surroundings. It 
condemns confidence in even the holiest Christian rites, 
as if they could transfer us, by some intrinsic virtue, 
into the Kingdom of God, or could accredit our stand- 
ing there. The same holds of confidence in doctrines, 
and even of confidence in sentiments. Rites, doctrines, 
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iii. 1-8.] NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH, 185 

which Christ and we may meet. Otherwise they all 
fall into the category of the flesh. Many things the 
flesh can do, in worship as in other departments ; but 
it cannot attain to the worship that is by the Spirit of 
God. Much it can boast of; but it cannot replace 
Immanuel ; it cannot fill the place of the reconciliation 
and the life. When we learn what kind of confidence 
is needed towards God, and find the ground of it in the 
Christ of God, then we cease to rely on the flesh. 

At this point the Apostle cannot but emphasise his 
own right to speak. He appeals to his remarkable 
history. He knows all about this Judaic religion, 
which glories in the flesh, and he knows also the 
better way. The experience which had transformed 
his life entitled him to a hearing ; for, indeed, he, as no 
man else, had searched out the worth of both the ways 
of it. So he is led into a remarkable testimony regard- 
ing the nature and the working forces of true Christian 
religion. And this, while it serves the purpose of 
throwing deserved disgrace on the poor religion of 
Judaising, serves at the same time a higher and more 
durable purpose. It sets the glory of the life of faith, 
love, and worship, against the meanness of all fleshly 
life whatever; and thus it vividly impresses on all 
hearers and readers the alternatives with which we 
have to deal, and the greatness of the choice which we 
are called to make. 

If Paul decries the Jewish glorying in the flesh, it is 
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i86 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 

cherish it and might enable him still to do so. *' I also 
have material enough of fleshly confidence : — if any 
other thinks to have confidence in the flesh, I more." 
Then comes the remarkable catalogue of the preroga- 
tives which had once meant so much for Saul of 
Tarsus, filling his heart with confidence and exultation. 
" Circumcised the eighth day " — for he was no proselyte, 
but bom within the fold : '* of the stock of Israel " — for 
neither had his parents been proselytes : in particular, 
for he was one whose pedigree was ascertained and 
notorious, " of the tribe of Benjamin " : " an Hebrew ol 
Hebrews " — nursed and trained, that is to say, in the 
very speech and spirit of the chosen people ; not, as 
some of them, bred up in a foreign tongue, and under 
alien influences : " concerning the law, a Pharisee " — 
that is, " of the strictest sect of our religion " (Acts 
xxvi. 5); for, as a Pharisee, Saul had given himself wholly 
to know the law, to keep the law, to teach the law. More 
yet — " as to zeal, a persecutor of the Church " ; in this 
clause the heat of the writer's spirit rises into pathetic 
irony and self-scorn : " This appropriate outcome of 
carnal Judaism, alas, was not lacking in me : / was 
not a Judaiser of the half-hearted sort." The idea is, 
that those who, trusting in fleshly Judaism, claimed 
also to be Christians, knew neither their own spirit, 
nor the proper working of their own system. Saul of 
Tarsus had been no such incoherent Jew ; only too 
bloodily had he proved himself thorough and consistent. 
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iii. 1-8.] NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH, 187 



compliance with rules, he had been unchallengeable; 
not a Pharisaic theorist only, but a man who made 
conscience of his theory. Ah I he had known all this ; 
and more, he had been forced in a great crisis of his 
life to measure and search out the whole worth of it. 

" But what things were gain to me " — the whole class 
of things that ranked themselves before my eyes, and 
in my heart, as making me rich and strong — ** those 
I have esteemed " (in a mass) " to be loss for Christ." 
They ceased to be valuable, they began to be reckoned 
as elements of disadvantage and of loss, in comparison 
of Christ. Nor these things only, but even all things — 
"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the 
excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." 
" All things " must include more than those old elements 
of fleshly confidence already enumerated. It must 
include everything which Paul still possessed, or might 
yet attain, that could be separated from Christ, weighed 
against Him, brought into competition with Him — all 
that the flesh could even yet take hold of, and turn into 
a ground of separate confidence and boasting. So the 
phrase might cover much that was good in its place, 
much that the Apostle was glad to hold in Christ and 
from Christ, but which yet might present itself to the 
unwatchful heart as material of independent boasting, 
and which, in that case, must be met with energetic and 
resolute rejection. "All things" may include, for 
instance, many of those elements of Christian and 
Apostolic eminence which are enumerated in 2 Cor. xi. ; 



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i88 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 



for while he thankfully received many such things, and 
lovingly prized them "in Christ Jesus," yet as they 
might become occasions to flatter or seduce even an 
Apostle — betraying him into self-confidence, or into the 
assertion of some separate worth and glory for himself 
— they must be rejected and counted to be loss. 

The difficulty for us here is to estimate w^orthily the 
elevation of that regard to Christ which had become 
the inspiration of the life of Paul. 

At the time when he was arrested on the road to 
Damascus, God revealed His Son to him and in him. 
Paul then became aware of Jesus as the Messiah of his 
people, against whom his utmost energies had bent 
themselves — against whom he had sinned with his 
utmost determination. That discovery came home to 
him with a sense of great darkness and horror ; and, 
no doubt, at the same time, his whole previous con- 
ceptions of life, and his judgments of his own life, were 
subverted, and fell in ruins around him. He had had 
his scheme of life, of success, of welfare : it had seemed 
to him a lofty and well-accredited one ; and, with what- 
ever misgivings he might occasionally be visited, on the 
whole he thought of himself as working it out hopefully 
and well. Now on every side were written only defeat, 
perplexity, and despair. But ere long the Son of God 
was revealed in his heart (Gal. i. i6) as the Bearer of 
righteousness and life to sinners — as the embodiment 
of Divine reconciliation and Divine hope. In this 
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iii. 1-8.] NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH, 189 

worthy and victorious life, opened itself to Paul — new 
and wonderful. But the reason of it, the hopefulness 
of it, the endless worth of it, lay chiefly here, that God 
in Christ had come into his life. The true relation of 
moral life to God, and the ends of human life as judged 
by that standard, were opening before him ; but, if that 
had stood alone, it might only have completed the 
dismay of the paralysed and stricken man. What 
made all new was the vision of Christ victoriously 
treading the path in which we failed to go, and of Christ 
dying for the unrighteous. So God came into view, 
in His love, redeeming, reconciling, adopting, giving 
the Holy Spirit — and He came into view " in Christ 
Jesus." God was in Christ. The manifold relation of 
the living God to His creature man, began to be felt 
and verified in the manifold relation of Christ the Son 
of God, the Mediator and Saviour, to the broken man 
who had defied and hated Him. Christ henceforth 
became the ground, the meaning, and the aim of Paul's 
life. Life found its explanation, its worth, its loving 
imperative here. All things else that once had value 
in his eyes fell away. If not entirely dismissed, they 
were now to have only such place and use as Christ 
assigned to them, only such as could fit the genius of 
life in Christ. And all new prerogatives and attain- 
ments that might yet accrue to Paul, and might seem 
entitled to assume value in his eyes, could only have 
the same subordinate place : — Christ first, whose light 
and love, whose power to fix and fill and attract the 



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I90 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHTLIPPIANS. 



soul, made all things new ; Christ first, so that all the 
rest was comparatively nowhere ; Christ first, so that 
all the rest, if at any time it came into competition with 
Him, if it offered itself to Paul as a source of individual 
confidence and boasting, is. recognised as mere loss, 
and in that character resolutely cast away. 

This had become the living and ruling principle with 
Paul ; not so, indeed, as to meet with no opposition, 
but so as to prevail and bear down opposition. Enthu- 
siastically accepted and embraced, it was a principle 
that had to be maintained against temptation, against 
infirmity, against the strong tides of inward habit and 
outward custom. Here lay the trial of Paul's sincerity 
and of Christ's fidelity and power. 

That trial had run its course: it was now not far 
from its ending. The opening of heart and mind to 
Christ, and the surrender of all to Him, had not been 
the matter merely of one hour of deep impression and 
high feeling. It had continued, it was in full force still. 
Paul's value for Christ had borne the strain of time, and 
change, and temptation. Now he is Paul the aged, 
and also a prisoner of Christ Jesus. Has he abated 
from the force or cooled from the confidence ol that 
mind of his concerning the Son of God ? Far other- 
wise. With a "Yea doubtless" he tells us that he 
abides by his first conviction, and affirms his first 
decision. Good right he had to testify. This was not 
a matter of inward feeling only, however sincere and 
strong. He had been well proved. He has suffered 



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iii. 1-8.] NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH, 191 

the loss of all things ; he has seen all his treasures — 
what are counted for such — swept away from him as 
the result of unflinching faith and service ; and he 
counts all to be well lost for Christ. 

This passage sets before us the essential nature of 
Christianity — the essential life of a Christian, as 
revealed by the eflFect it has on his esteem for other 
things. Many of us, one supposes, cannot consider it 
without a sense of deep disgrace. The view here given 
awakens many thoughts. Some aspects of the subject 
must be dwelt upon for a moment. 

Those things that were gain, all things that can be 
gain, such are the objects Paul here reckons with. The 
believing mind concerning Christ carries with it a 
changed mind as regards all these. 

Apparently, in some deep sense, there arises for us 
in this world an inevitable competition between Christ 
on the one hand and all things on the other. If we 
should say some things, we might be in danger of 
sliding into a one-sided puritanism. But we escape 
that risk by saying, emphatically, all things. A decision 
upon this has to be reached, it has to be maintained, 
it is to be reaffirmed in particulars, in all particulars. 
For we must remember that the heart of Paul, in this 
burst of loyalty, is only echoing the call of Christ : 
*' He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is 
not worthy of Me.*' Let us repeat it, this applies to 
ALL things. Because a certain way of feeling and think- 
ing about these things, and especially about some of 



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192 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



them, is present with us all, which asserts itself against 
this principle, therefore Christian life, however rich and 
full, however gracious and generous its character truly 
is, must include a negative at the base of it " Let a 
man deny (or renounce) himself, and take up his cross." 
That life should be subjected to this severe competi- 
tion seems hard : we may repine at it, and count it 
needless. We may ask, " Why should it be so ? Why 
might not Christ take His place in our regard — His first, 
His ideal. His incomparable place — and, at the same 
time, all the other things take their place too, each in 
due order, as the true conception of human life may 
imply, and as the claims of loyalty to Christ may 
dictate ? Why should not each take its place, more 
prominent or more subordinate, on a principle of har- 
mony and happy order ? Why should life be subjected 
to conflict and strain ? " We may dream of this ; but it 
will not be. We are such persons, and the world about 
us is so related to us now, that the "all things "are found 
continually claiming a place, and striving to make good 
for themselves a place in our heart and life, that will 
not consist with the regard due to Christ. They can 
be resisted only by a great inward decision, maintained 
and renewed all along our life, for Christ and against 
them. The nearest approach the believer makes in 
this life to that happy harmony of the whole being 
which was spoken of just now, is when his decision for 
Christ is so thorough and joyful, that the other ele- 
ments — the "all things" — fall into their place, reduced 



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iii. 1-8.] NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH. 193 



into obedience by an energy that breaks resistance. 
Then too, in that place, they begin to reveal their 
proper nature as God's gifts, their real beauty and their 
real worth. 

But then, in the next place, though the decision 
cannot be escaped, yet, let us be assured, there is in 
this no real hardship. To be so called to this decision 
is the greatest blessedness of life. There is that in 
Christ for men, on account of which a man may gladly 
count all else but loss, may count it abundantly well 
worth his while to make this choice. Christ as binding 
us to God, Christ as the living source of reconciliation 
and sonship, Christ as the spring of a continually 
recruited power to love and serve and overcome, 
Christ as assuring to us the attainment of His own 
likeness, Christ as the Revealer of a love which is more 
and better than all its own best gifts — Christ discloses 
to us a world of good, for the sake of which it is well 
done to cast, if need be, all else away. It proves reason- 
able to reject the importunate claim which other things 
make to be reckoned indispensable. It proves natural, 
according to a new nature, to hold all else loosely, that 
we may hold this one interest fast. 

Yet this is not to be done or endeavoured by dis- 
missing out of life all that gives character and move- 
ment to human existence. Not so : for indeed it is 
human life itself, with its complex of relations and 
activities, that is to receive the new inspiration. The 
decision is to be made by accepting the principle that 

13 



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194 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 



life, throughout, must be life in Christ, life for Christ ; 
and by setting ourselves to learn from Him what that 
principle means. Of the *' all things " many must con- 
tinue with us ; but if so, they must continue on a new 
principle : no longer as competitors, certainly not as 
allowed competitors, but as gifts and subjects of 
Christ, accepting law and destination from Him. Then, 
also, they may continue to carry with them many a 
pleasant experience of our Master's providential good- 
ness. The eflFort to comply with PauFs example by 
mutilating human life of some of its great elements has 
often been a sincere and earnest effort. But it implies 
a distorted, and eventually a narrowed view of the 
Christian's calling. For, short of suicide, we can 
never deal with all things on that principle of simple 
amputation. Now the Apostle says all things: "I count 
all things to be loss." 

Let this, however, be noted, that loyalty requires 
something more than merely a new valuation of things 
in our minds, however sincere that valuation might be. 
It demands also actual sacrifice, when duty or when 
faithful service calls for it. Paul's Christianity was 
prompt to lay down, as circumstances in the course 
of following Christ might demand, everything, any- 
thing, even that which, in other circumstances, might 
retain its place in life, and be counted, in its own 
place, seemly and welcome. Not only shall a man 
count all to be loss for Christ : he shall actually, when 
called upon, suflFer the loss of anything or of all 



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iii. 1-8.] • NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH. 195 



things. No Christian life is without its occasions when 
this test has to be accepted. Most Christian lives 
include lessons in this department at the very outset. 
Some Christian lives are very full of them, — full, that is, 
of experiences in which contented submission to priva- 
tion, and cheerful acceptance of trouble and danger, 
must approve the sincerity of the esteem for Christ our 
Saviour which is the common profession of us all. So it 
was with Paul. He had suffered the loss of all things. 

It is because the " all things," in their infinite variety 
of aspect and influence, tend so constantly to come into 
competition with Christ, to our great hurt and danger, 
that they must be so emphatically repudiated, and 
counted to be 'Moss." They are loss indeed, when 
they succeed in taking the place they claim, for then 
they impoverish our life of its true treasure. We may 
suffer this encroachment to take place stealthily — all 
but unconsciously. All the more fit it is that we 
should learn to assert loyalty to our Lord with a mag- 
nanimous vigilance. It becomes us to set His worth 
and claims emphatically, with a "yea doubtless," 
against the poor substitutes for which we are tempted 
silently to exchange Him. If not, we are likely to 
come back to that sad stage which has been already 
brought before us (ch. ii.), the condition of those 
Christians who '*all seek their own, not the things 
which are Jesus Christ's." 

Let us own, however, that men are trained in dif- 
ferent lines of discipline to the same great result. The 



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196 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



lesson broke into the life of Paul with astounding force 
at one great crisis. Some, on the contrary, begin 
their training in little instances of early life, and under 
influences working too gently to be afterwards recalled. 
Gradually they grow into a clearer p)erception of the 
gifts Christ offers and of the claims He makes ; and 
each step of decision paves the way to new attain- 
ments. The experience of all Christians, however 
diversified their training may be, is harmonised in the 
fidelity of each to the light he has, and of all to the 
Lord who calls them all to follow Him. 



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THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST, 



i97 



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'Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency 
of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord : for whom I suffered 
the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may gain 
Christ, and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of mine own, 
even that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in 
Christ, the righteousness which is of [from] God by [upon] faith: 
that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the 
fellowship of His sufferings, becoming conformed unto His death; 
if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead." — 
Phil. iii. 8-1 1 (R,V.). 



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CHAPTER XL 

THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST. 

MR. ALEXANDER KNOX, in a letter to a friend,* 
makes the following remark : " Religion con- 
tains two sets of truths, which I may venture to 
denominate ultimate and mediatory: the former refer 
to God as an original and end ; the latter to the Word 
made flesh, the suffering, dying, rising, ruling Saviour ; 
the way, the truth, the life. Now I conceive these two 
views have almost ever been varying, in the minds even 
of the sincerely pious, with respect to comparative con- 
st quence; and, while some have so regarded the 
ultimate as in some degree to neglect the mediatory, 
others have so fixed their view on the mediatory as 
greatly and hurtfully to lose sight of the ultimate." 
This writer refers to Tillotson on one side, and Zinzen- 
dorf on the other, as instances of these extremes; and 
indicates that perhaps his own leaning might be a little 
too much in the former direction. 

It can hardly be doubted that there is something in 

* RemamSf iv., p. 156. 

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200 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 

this suggestion. In the guidance and training of the 
soul some aim mainly at right dispositions towards 
God and His will, without much dwelling on what 
Knox calls mediatory truths ; because they assume that 
the latter exist only with a view to the former ; and if 
the end has been brought into view and is coming to 
be attained, there is no special need of dwelling on the 
means. Others aim mainly at receiving the right im- 
pressions about Christ dying and rising, and at comply- 
ing with the way of salvation as it is set forth to us in 
Christ ; because they are persuaded that here the secret 
lies of all deliverance and progress, and that the end 
cannot otherwise be reached. And Mr. Knox suggests, 
with truth most likely, that such persons have often 
so occupied themselves with what may be called the 
means of salvation, that they lose sight in a great 
degree of the end to which all tends — life in God, life 
in fellowship with His loving goodness and His holy 
will. 

What application these views may have to divergences 
of our own day it would take too long to consider. Mr. 
Knox's remark has been referred to here in order to throw 
light on the mental attitude of Paul. Paul will hardly 
be accused of losing sight of the ultimate truths ; but 
certainly he delights to view them through the mediatory 
truths; and he strives to reach the ultimate victory, 
through the most realising application to his heart and 
life of what those mediatory truths embody and disclose. 
Through the mediatory truths the ultimate ones reveal 



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iii. 8-II.] THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST. 201 

themselves to him with a wealth and an intensity other- 
wise unattainable. And the eternal life comes into 
experience for him as he takes into his soul the full 
effect of the provision which God has made, in Christ, 
to bestow eternal life upon him. That order of things 
which is mediatory is not regarded by Paul only as a 
fitting introduction, on God's part, to His ultimate pro- 
cedure ; it is also in the same degree fitted to become 
for the individual man the medium of vision, of assur- 
ance, of participation. In other words, Paul finds God 
and makes way into goodness through Christ ; and not 
through Christ merely as an embodied ideal, but through 
union to Christ Divine and human, Christ living, dying, 
rising, redeeming, justifying, sanctifying, glorifying. He 
never pauses in any of these, so as to fail in looking 
onward to God, the living God. But neither does he 
pass on to that goal so as to disregard the way unto the 
Father. If he could have foreseen the method of those 
who are striving in our day to bring men to the blessed- 
ness which Christianity holds out by dwelling exclusively 
on Christian ethics, he might have sympathised with their 
ethical intensity ; but he would surely have wondered 
that they failed to find in Christianity more pregnant 
springs of motive and of power. Perhaps he would 
even be moved to say, " O foolish Galatians (or Corin- 
thians), who hath bewitched you ? " Not less, it must 
also be said, might he wonder at many a gospel preacher, 
who rehearses the *'way of salvation" until the 
machinery clanks and groans, unable apparently to 



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202 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 

divine — unable, at least, to bring out — that glory of 
God in it, that wonderful presence and influence of 
infinite holiness, goodness, and pity, which make the 
gospel the power of God. 

We, meanwhile, shall do well to imitate the charity 
of Mr. Knox, who cordially owned the Christian piety 
of those who might go too far either way. Few of us, 
indeed, can dispense with the charity that is tender to 
partial and imperfect views. But if we are to under- 
stand Paul, we must find our way into some sympathy 
with him here ; not only as he is seen on this line to 
have attained so far insaintship, but as he is seen to be 
sure that this way lay much more — that on this line 
his road lay to the glory that should be revealed. He 
could contemplate the practice and growth of piety in 
many lights ; yet it came home to him most evidently 
as growth in the knowledge and in the appropriation of 
Jesus Christ. 

He has cast away for the sake of Christ the treasures 
so much valued by the Jews, and many a treasure 
more. But what he would chiefly impress on the 
minds of those to whom he writes is not so much the 
amount of what he has cast away, but rather the worth of 
that which he has found, and more and more is finding. 
The mass of things set down for loss is a mere stepping- 
stone to this central theme. But though he tells us what 
he thought and felt about it, most of us learn but slowly 
how much it meant for him. When we sit down beside 
the Apostle to learn his lesson, we become conscious 



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iii.8.11.] THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST. I03 



that he is seeing what we cannot descry ; he is sensi- 
tive to Christ through spiritual senses which in us 
are torpid and undeveloped. Christ holds him all 
through. It is faith, and love, and gratitude; it is 
self-devotion, and obedience, and wonder, and worship ; 
and, through all, the conviction glows that Christ is 
his, that in Christ all things have changed for him. 
" In Christ we have redemption through His blood, the 
forgiveness of sin. He hath made me accepted in the 
Beloved. I live ; yet not I, but Christ. In Christ, old 
things have passed away, all things are made new. 
Christ is made of God unto us wisdom, righteousness, 
sanctification, and redemption. Who shall separate us 
from the love of Christ ? " The intense heat of this 
conception of Christ, it must once more be said, gives 
its distinctive character to the religious life of Paul. 
May we not say that the lamentable distinction of a 
great deal of current Christianity is the coldness of 
men's thoughts about their Saviour ? The views of 
many may be characterised as "correct, but cold." 
Only what can be more incorrect, what can more 
effectually deny and controvert the main things to be 
asserted, than coldness towards our Saviour, and cold 
thoughts of His benefits ? This we should hold to be 
unpardonable. We never should forgive it to ourselves. 
" For the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus." 
Christ had come into the life of Paul as a wonderful 
knowledge. Becoming thus known to him. He had trans- 
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204 THE, EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



conscious of a new order of existence, so that old things 
passed away and all became new. The phrase employed 
combines two ideas. In the first place, Paul felt Christ 
appealing to him as to a thinking, knowing nature. 
Various influences were reaching him from Christ which 
bore on heart, will, conscience : but they all came pri- 
marily as a revelation ; they came as light. *' God, who 
commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath 
shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge 
of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus." In 
the next place, this discovery came with a certain 
assuredness. It was felt to be not a dream, not a fair 
imagination only, not a speculation, but a knowledge. 
Here Paul felt himself face to face with the real — 
indeed, with fundamental reality. In this character, 
as luminous knowledge, the revelation of Christ chal- 
lenged his decision, it demanded his appreciation and 
adherence. For since Christ claims so fundamental a 
place in the moral world, since He claims so intimate 
and fruitful a relation to the whole state and prospects 
of the believing man, acquaintance with Him (at least, 
if it be acquaintance in Paul's style) cannot pause at 
the stage of contemplation : it passes into appropria- 
tion and surrender. Christ is known as dealing with 
us, and must be dealt with by us. So this knowledge 
becomes, at the same time, experience. 

Hence, while in ver. 8 the Apostle speaks of himself 
as encountering all earthly loss that he may know 
Christ, in ver. 9 it is that he may gain Christ and may 



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iii. 8-II.] THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST, 205 



be found in Him, Christ so came into the field of 
his knowledge as to become the treasure of his life, 
replacing those things which heretofore had been gain, 
and which now figured as loss. When Paul turned 
from all else to know Christ, he turned, at the same 
time, to have Christ, " gaining Him," and to be Christ's, 
"found in Him." 

Christ, in fact, comes to us with commandments, 
" words " (John xiv. 23), which are to be kept and done. 
He comes to us, also, with promises, the fulfilment of 
which, in our own case, is a most practical business. 
Some of these promises concern the world to come; but 
others apply to the present ; and these, which lie next us, 
either are neglected, or are embraced and put to proof, 
every day of our lives. Besides all this, Christ comes to 
us to fix and fill our minds, and to endear Himself to us, 
in virtue simply of what He is. So viewed. He is to be 
owned as our best Friend, and indeed henceforth, with 
reverence be it said, by far our nearest Relation. This 
is to be, or else it is not to be. Each day asks the 
question. Which ? Paul's Christianity was the answer 
to that question. How his answer rings in all our 
ears ! Our Christianity also is making its reply. 

Both as to knowledge and as to experience the type 
was fixed from the first : there could be no doubt about 
either. But both were to deepen and widen as life 
went on. Christ was apprehended at first as a wonder- 
ful Whole of good; but so that indefinite fields of 
progress were continually to open up. In the very 



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2o6 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 

first days a knowledge dawned, for the sake of which 
all else was counted loss ; yet a world of truths 
remained to know, as well as of good to experience, for 
the sake of which also all else should continue to be 
counted but loss. This, in fact, is only one way of saying 
thajt Christ and His salvation were realities, divinely full 
and worthy. Being real, the full acquaintance with all 
they mean for men can only arise in a historical way. 
Paul therefore emphasises this, that real Christianity, 
the right kind of Christianity, just because it has found 
a treasure, is set on going on to find that same 
treasure still further and still more (comp. ch. i. 9). If 
the treasure is real and the man is in earnest, that will 
be so. Such had been the course of his own Christian 
life from the first. Now, though many years have 
disciplined him, though changing experiences have 
given him new points of view, still, no less than at the 
first, his rejoicing in the present goes hand in hand 
with reaching onward to the future. The one, in fact, 
is the reason of the other. Both are rational, or 
neither. He has counted all to be loss for the ex- 
cellency of the knowledge which has broken upon his 
soul : and still he presses on, that he may know ; for 
the same strong attraction continues and grows. 

Before passing to details, something more should 
perhaps be said of this magnificent generality, "the 
knowledge of Christ." 

Christ is first of all known historically ; so He is 
presented to us in the Gospels. His story is part of 



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iii. 8-II.] THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST. 207 



the history of our race. He passes through youth to 
manhood. We see Him living, acting, enduring ; and 
we hear Him teaching — wonderful words proceed from 
His mouth. We contemplate Him in His humiliation, 
under the limits to which He submitted that He might 
share our state and bear our burdens. In the path- 
ways of that Jewish life He discloses a perfect good- 
ness and a perfect dignity. We see especially that 
He cherishes a purpose of goodwill to men which He 
bears to them from the Father. It overflows in all His 
words and works, and in the prosecution of it He moves 
on to lay down His life for us. This is the beginning 
of the knowledge of the Only Begotten of the Father, 
full of grace and truth. Much may as yet be unde- 
fined ; many questions may crowd on us that receive as 
yet no precise answer ; nay, much may seem to us as 
yet to be strangely entangled in the particulars of an 
individual and of a provincial existence. But this 
presentation of Christ can never be dispensed with or 
superseded ; and, for its essential purpose, it never can 
be surpassed. For this is the Life. "The Life was 
manifested, and we have seen it, and show unto you 
that Eternal Life, which was with the Father, and was 
manifested unto us." 

This vision, which the Gospels set before us, was 
also before the mind of Paul. And words of our Lord, 
delivered in His earthly ministry, and preserved by 
those who heard Him, were treasured by the Apostle 
of the Gentiles, and reproduced to guide the Churches 



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2o8 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHHJPPIANS. 

as need required. Yet there is a sense in which we 
may say that it is not exactly the Christ of the Gospels 
who comes before us in the Pauline writings. The 
Christ of Paul is the Lord who met him by the way. 
It is Christ dead, risen, and ascended; it is Christ 
with the reason and the result of His finished work 
made plain, and with the relation unveiled which He 
sustains to men who live by Him ; it is Christ with 
the significance of His wonderful history for believers 
shining out from Him — Christ vestitus Evangelio. 
Now He has gone up above all worlds. No longer 
is He hedged about by necessities of mortal life ; no 
longer tied by earthly bonds to some places and some 
men and one nation. He is glorified; all fulness 
dwells in Him ; all God's purposes are seen to centre 
in Him. And then, by His death and resurrection, 
the tie between Him and His people is unveiled to 
faith, as it could not be before. They are one with Him 
— in Him redeemed, endowed, triumphant, glorified. 
Every Christian privilege and attainment, every grace, 
every virtue and good gift, takes on a celestial 
character, as it is seen to be an element in our fel- 
lowship with Christ The state of Christians is seen 
reflected in their Head. And, in turn, Christ is seen, 
as it were, through the medium of the relation which 
He sustains to them, and of the wealth of good arising 
to them by it. It is Christ as He is to His people, 
Christ as He is set in the centre of the world of good 
that radiates to them all, whom Paul wonders at and 



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iii.8-ii.] THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST. 209 



worships. And he finds all this to be rooted in our 
Lord's death upon the cross, which was the crisis of 
the whole redemption. All that follows took character 
and efficacy from that death. 

A special insight into all this was included in the 
wisdom given to Paul. And yet this view of things 
does not turn out to be something diverse or alien 
from what the Gospels set before us. Rather it is 
the gospel story revealing its native significance and 
virtue along many lines which were not so distinct 
before. 

But now all this, in turn, leads us to the third aspect 
of the case. What Christ is and what He does may 
be described ; but there is a knowledge of it which is 
imparted practically, in the progressive history of the 
believer. According to the Christian teaching, we 
enter, as Christians, on a new relation ; and in that 
relation a certain blessed well-being is appointed to 
us. This well-being is itself an unfolding or disclosure 
of Christ. Now this well-being comes home to us 
and is verified in the course of a progressive human 
experience. Life must become our school to teach us 
what it all means. Life sets us at the point of view 
now for one lesson, now for another. Life moves and 
changes, and brings its experiences ; its problems, its 
conflicts, its anxieties, its fears, its temptations; its 
need of pity, pardon, strengthening ; its experience of 
weakness, defeat,, and disgrace; its opportunities of 
service, self-denial, fidelity, victory. For all these 

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2IO THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 

occasions Christ has a meaning and a virtue, which, 
in those occasions, is to become personal to ourselves. 
This makes knowledge indeed. This becomes the vivid 
commentary upon the historical and the doctrinal in- 
struction. Life, taken in Christ s way, along with prayer 
and thought, manifests Christ's meaning, and makes it 
real to us, as nothing else can. It furnishes the step- 
ping-stones for passing onward, in the knowledge of 
Christ. 

This also was Paul's cortdition, though he was an 
inspired man. He too was fain to improve his know- 
ledge in this school And when we take all three 
asj)ects together, we shall see how truly, for Paul and 
for us, the knowledge of Christ is, on the one hand, so 
excellent from the first, that it justifies the great de- 
cision to which it calls us ; and, on the other hand, 
how it creates a longing for further insight and fresh 
attainment The latter we see in the Apostle as 
plainly as the former. From the first, he knew in 
whom he believed, and was persuaded that for His 
sake all else was to be resigned. Yet to the end he 
felt the unsatisfied desire to know more, to gain more ; 
and his heart, if we may apply here the Psalmist's 
words, was breaking for this longing which it had. 

It was remarked above that the ** excellency of the 
knowledge of Christ" in ver. 8 corresponds in the 
Apostle's thought to the " gaining " of Christ and being 
"found in Him" of ver. 9; and this maybe the best place 
to say a word on these two phrases. To gain Christ, 



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iii. 8-II.] THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST, 211 



points to a receiving Ciirist as one's own ; and the 
Apostle uses the phrase so as to imply that this finding 
of Christ, as One who is gained or won, was still going 
on ; it was progressive. Clearly also the alternative is 
implied, that what is not gained is lost. The question 
in the Apostle's life, about which he was so decided, 
was about no less than losing or gaining Christ. The 
phrase *' be found " points to the verification of Paul's 
relation to Christ in his history and in its results. That 
relation is contemplated as something that proves true. 
It turns out to be so. We shall best understand the 
phrase as referring, not to some one future date at 
which he should be so found, but rather to present and 
future alike. As men, or angels, or God, or Christ 
might view him, or as he might take account of his own 
state, this was what he would have found in regard 
to himself. Every way he would be found in Christ. 
The form of expression, however, is specially appro- 
priate here, because it fits so well into the doctrine 
of righteousness through Christ, which the Apostle is 
about to emphasise. A similar remark applies to the 
expression *'in Christ" so frequently occurring in the 
Pauline writings. This is usually explained by saying 
that the Apostle sets before us Christ as the sphere of 
his spiritual being — in whom he lived and moved — 
never out of relation to Him, and not so related to any 
other. Such explanations are true and good : only we 
may say that the pregnant strength of the expression 
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212 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, ' 

The relation in view is too wonderful ever to be 
adequately described. The union between Christ and 
His Church, between Christ and the believing man, is 
a mystery; and, like all objects of faith, it is dimly 
apprehended by us for the present. But the certainty 
of it, and its wonderfulness, we should never allow 
ourselves to overlook. Christ is able to bring men into 
fellowship with Himself, to assume responsibility for 
them, to represent their interests and to care for their 
good; and men may receive CJirist into their lives ; with 
a completeness on both sides which no explanations can 
adequately represent. The identification with Christ 
which the phrase suggests naturally fits what follows. 

Now the Apostle goes more into detail. He tells us 
what were for him the main articles of this good state 
of being ** found in Christ." He indicates, with a 
certain eager gratitude, the main lines along which the 
benefits of that state had come into experience, and 
along which he was pressing on to know the fulness of 
Christ First, in Christ he has and shall have not his 
own righteousness, which is that of the law, but that 
which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness 
which is of God by faith. Then, secondly, he has in 
hand a practical knowledge of Christ, culminating in the 
complete deliverance of the resurrection. It includes 
two aspects or elements : Christ known in the power 
of His resurrection, and Christ known in the fellowship 
of His sufferings. 

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in. 8-II.] THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST, 213 

in connection with being found in Christ is the posses- 
sion of the new righteousness. We have seen already 
that value for righteousness such as is of law, and hope 
of achieving it, had been associated with Paul's old 
days of Jewish zeal. He then stood on the law, and 
gloried in the law. But that had passed away when 
he learned to count all things loss for the excellency 
of the knowledge of Christ. Ever after, the contrast 
between the two ways of seeking ''righteousness** 
continued to be fundamental in Paul's Christian 
thinking. 

The law here in view was the whole revealed will 
of God touching man's behaviour, coming as a will of 
authority, requiring obedience. The discussion in the 
earlier chapters of the Epistle to the Romans makes this 
plain. And Paul's way of keeping the law, in those old 
days, though it was necessarily too external, had not 
been so merely external as is sometimes supposed. His 
obedience had been zealous and resolute, with as much 
heart and meaning as he could put into it. But law- 
keeping for righteousness had been the principle of it. 
The Jew was placed under a law ; obedience to that law 
should be his pathway to a destiny of incomparable 
privilege and gladness. That was the theory. So 
believing, Paul had given himself with zeal to the work, 
''living in all good conscience before God." A great 
change had now befallen him ; but that could not 
imply on his part a renunciation of God's law. The 
law, better understood indeed, and far more inwardly 



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214 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 



apprehended, still retained for Paul its great outlines, 
and was reverenced as Divine. It was holy and just 
and good. It was felt still to shed its steadfast light 
on human duty, awakening and illuminating the con- 
science; and therefore it revealed most authentically 
the moral situation, with its elements of failure, and 
danger, and need. The law stood fast. Bur the 
scheme of life which stood in keeping the law for 
righteousness had passed away for Paul, vanishing in 
the light of a new and better day. 

Here, however, we must ask what the Apostle means 
when he speaks of the righteousness which is by the 
faith of Jesus Christ, the righteousness which is of 
God unto or upon faith. Great disputes have arisen 
over this question. We must endeavour to find the 
Apostle's main meaning, without involving ourselves 
too much in the mazes of technical debate. 



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THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH. 



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" Not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of 
the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness 
which is of [from] God by [upon] faith." — Phil. iii. 9 (R.V.). 



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CHAPTER XII. 
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH. 

RIGHTEOUSNESS is a term which is applied in 
different ways. Often it denotes excellence of 
personal character. So used, it suggests the idea of a 
life whose manifestations agree with the standard by 
which lives are tried. Sometimes it denotes rectitude 
or justice, as distinguished from benevolence. Some- 
times a claim to be approved, or judicially vindicated, 
is more immediately in view when righteousness is 
asserted. Paul himself freely uses the word in different 
applications, the sense, in each passage, being deter- 
mined by the context. Here we have the righteous- 
ness of faith, as distinguished from the righteousness 
of works, or righteousness by the law. The passage 
belongs to a large class in which righteousness is 
spoken of as accruing, through Christ, to those who are 
unrighteous, or whose own righteousness has proved 
unreliable. Let us try to fix the thought which the 
Apostle designed to inculcate in such passages.* 

* The statement which follows in the next six paragraphs is 
partly based on Pfleiderer, Pau/imsmuSf p. 172 fol. He will perhaps 
be regarded as a tolerably impartial reporter on this point. 



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2i8 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 

The Apostle, then, conceives of the righteousness, 
of which he has so much to say, as God's : it is the 
*' righteousness of God" (Rom. i. 17, iii. 22, x. 3). Yet 
it is not God's in the sense of being an attribute of His 
own Divine nature : for (in the passage before us) it is 
called " the righteousness from God " ; it arises for us 
by our faith in Jesus Christ; and so (2 Cor. v. 21) 
" we are made the righteousness of God in Christ." 
It is, therefore, something that is from God to us be- 
lieving, a " gift of righteousness " (Rom. v. 17). At the 
same time it is not, on the other hand, an attribute 
or quality of the human mind, whether natural or im- 
parted; for it* is something " revealed " (Rom. i. 17). 
Also, it is opposed to the wrath of God. Now, that 
wrath is indeed an element of our state as sinners, but 
not a feature of our character. Further, it could not be 
said of any internal character of our own, that we are 
to be *' obedient," or are to " submit " to it (Rom. x. 3). 

In the latter part of Romans v. we have set before us 
two counter conceptions : the one of sin and condemna- 
tion, deriving from Adam, antecedent to the personal 
action and offence of those who descend from him ; the 
other of free gift unto justification, following from the 
righteousness or obedience of Christ, this being a gift of 
grace abounding unto many. In either case the Apostle 
sees arising from one a relation which pertains to 
many, and which brings forth its results to them : on 
the one hand, sin and death ; on the other, righteousness 
and life. In both cases a common relation is recog- 



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iii. 9.] THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH 219 



nised, under which individuals are found existing ; and 
in either case it traces up to the one — to Adam or to 
Christ Whatever difficulties may be felt to attach 
to this passage, the Apostle's doctrine of the righteous- 
ness of faith must be understood so as to agree with 
the way of thinking which the passage expresses. 

It appears, then, that the righteousness which is 
from God, unto or upon faith, expresses a relation 
between God and believers that is the proper basis for 
fellowship with God, confiding on their part, communi- 
cative of the best blessings on His. It is analogous 
to the relation conceived to arise when a perfectly 
righteous man is approved and set apart to weal ; and 
like that it stands in contrast with the relation due to 
sin as it incurs wrath. It follows that this righteous- 
ness, if it exists or becomes available for those who 
have sinned, includes the forgiveness of sins. But it 
includes more than forgiveness, in so far as it is not 
merely negative. It is the concession to us of a stand- 
ing which is a positive basis for experiences, pointing 
towards eternal life, and rising into it. 

This relation to Himself God has founded for us 
sinful men in Christ, and specially in His atonement. 
It is part of what is divinely held out to us, as life or 
well-being in Christ. When we do awaken to it, our 
whole religious attitude towards God takes character 
from it, and is to be ordered accordingly. This way of 
being related to God is called God's righteousness, or 
righteousness "from God," because it is not set up by 



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220 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 

US, but by God's grace, through the redeeming work of 
Christ (" being justified freely by His grace, through 
the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" — Rom. iii. 24). 
On the other hand, it is righteousness "of faith," or 
" through faith of Christ," because faith subjects itself to 
the order of grace, revealed and made effectual in Christ, 
and therein finds the reconciliation. For the believing 
man the relation becomes effectual and operative. He 
is "accepted in the Beloved." He is "constituted 
righteous" (Rom. v. 19), and his intercourse with his 
Heavenly Father regulates itself accordingly, he being 
justified "from — or upon — his faith." The harmony 
with God on which he has entered becomes, in some 
degree, matter of consciousness for himself (Rom. v. i). 
With this connection of things in view, the Apostle 
teaches that righteousness is imputed, or reckoned, to 
him who believes in Jesus (Rom. iv. 24). 

Whatever opinion we may choose to entertain of this 
scheme, it ought not to be disputed that this, in general, 
is Paul's conception of the matter. 

However, let us emphatically note that it is as " in 
Christ," "found in Him," the Apostle possesses this 
form of well-being. If there be such a thing as a real 
union between the Saviour and Paul, then in the 
Saviour and with the Saviour Paul is thus righteous. 
The faith to which this righteousness arises is faith 
that unites to Christ, and not any other kind of faith. 
And so, if it be possible for Paul to fall from Christ, 
then also he must fall from the righteousness of faith. 



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hi. 9.j THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH. 221 



In Christ a relation to God appears, made good, main- 
tained, and verified, in which He gathers to Himself 
and comprehends all true believers : '* for which cause 
He is not ashamed to call them brethren." Hence also 
this Christian benefit, though it is distinguishable, is 
not separated radically from the other benefits. It is 
not possible to take the one and leave the rest; for 
Christ is not divided. But there is an order in His 
gifts ; and, for Paul, this gift is primary. God is ours 
in Christ ; therefore religion, true religion, may begin 
and go on. 

It is of weight with Paul that this righteousness of 
faith, arising for him who is "found" in Christ, is 
founded for us in the atonement. That is to say, the 
new relation is not represented as a relation created for 
us by a mere Divine fiat that it shall be so. It is 
represented as arising for sinful men out of the re- 
demption of Christ ; which redemption is represented 
as in its own nature fitted to fructify into this result, 
as well as into other fruits which are due to it. 
Christ's atonement is the way which grace has taken 
to bring in the righteousness of faith. In particular, 
we are made righteous (in this sense) through Christ, 
in a manner corresponding to that in which He was 
made sin for us (2 Cor. v. 21). Hence the blood, the 
sacrifice, the obedience of Christ are referred to on all 
occasions, in connection with the righteousness of faith, 
as explicative causes to which this is to be traced. 
The relation is first of all a relation completely grounded 



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222 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



and made good in Christ ; and then we are participant 
in it with Him, in virtue of our faith in Him. 

Clearly the Apostle thinks of this righteousness of 
faith as something very wonderful. It is for him 
fundamental. It is the first article in which he cele- 
brates the worth of the knowledge of Christ ; no doubt, 
because he felt it transforming his whole moral and 
spiritual experience ; and, in particular, because it con- 
trasted so vividly with the nugatory righteousness of 
earlier days. 

In earlier days Paul sought righteousness — an ap- 
proved and accepted standing with God — by the works 
of the law. That project failed when the great dis- 
covery on the road to Damascus showed him to himself 
as all astray ; in particular, when the law itself, coming 
home to him in the fulness of its meaning, both re- 
vealed to him the beggarliness of his own performance, 
and, at the same time, stung into appalling activity 
ungodly elements within him. Then he saw before 
him the law rising from its deep foundations in eternal 
strength and majesty, imperative, unalterable, inexor- 
able ; and over against it his own works lay withered 
and unclean. But another vision came. He saw 
the Son of God in His life, death, and resurrection. 
Mere love and pity were the inspiration of His coming : 
obedience and sacrifice were the form of it. So in that 
great vision one element or aspect that rose into view 
was righteousness, — righteousness grounded as deep 
as the law itself, as magnificent in its great propor- 



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iii. 9.1 THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH, 223 



tions, as little subject to change or decay, radiant with 
surpassing glory. As he saw, and bowed, and trusted, 
he became conscious of a new access and nearness to 
God Himself; he passed into the fellowship of God's 
dear Son ; he found acceptance in the Beloved. Here 
was the answer to that woful problem of the law: 
righteousness in Christ for a world of sinners, coming 
to them as a free gift to faith. Here was the strong 
foundation on which faith found itself set to learn its 
lessons, and perform its service, and fight its battles. 
In Christ he received the reconciliation — merciful, and 
also righteous. As Paul thought of the ground on 
which he once had stood, and of the standing granted 
to him now, " in Him," — it was with a " yea doubtless " 
he declared that he counted all to be loss for the gain 
of Christ, in whom he was found, not having his own 
righteousness, which was of the law, but that which is 
by the faith of Christ. 

Righteousness of faith, as the Apostle conceives it, 
is to be distinguished from personal righteousness, or 
goodness, as an attribute of human character, but yet 
is most closely connected with it. Righteousness of 
faith opened what seemed to Paul the prosperous way 
into righteousness of daily living. In the very hour 
when he first believed for righteousness, he felt him- 
self entering a kingdom of light, and love, and power, in 
which all things were possible ; and ever after the same 
order of experience verified itself for him afresh. The 
righteousness of faith being the relation in which. 



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224 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 



through Christ, he found himself standing to God, fixed 
at the same time his relation to all Christian benefits, 
including, as a principal element, conformity to the 
likeness of Christ. To the man in Christ all these 
benefits pertained ; in Christ he could claim them all : 
in Christ he found himself before doors that opened 
of their own accord to let him in ; in Christ it proved 
to be a fit thing, grounded deep in the congruities 
of God's administration, that God should be for him ; 
therefore, also, the pathway of holiness lay open before 
him. The fulness of blessing had not yet come into 
possession and experience. But in the righteousness 
of faith he apprehended all blessings as stretching out 
their hands to him, because through Christ they ought to 
be his. That he should find himself in a relation to God 
so simple and so satisfying was wonderful ; all the more, 
when it was contrasted with the condemnation belong- 
ing to him as a sinner. This was the righteousness 
from God to faith, in the strength of which he could 
call all things his own. 

If Paul had succeeded in the enterprise of his earlier 
days, when he sought righteousness by the law, he 
would, as he hoped, have found acceptance in the end ; 
and various blessings would have followed. He would 
have emerged from his task a man stamped as right- 
eous, and fit to be treated accordingly. That would 
have been the end. But now, in reference to his present 
enterprise, he has found, being in Christ, acceptance at 
the beginning. So often as faith lifts him into the 



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iii. 9.] THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH 225 



heavenly places where Christ is, he finds all things to 
be his ; not because he has achieved righteousness, but 
because Christ has died and risen, and because God 
justifies him who believes in Jesus. The platform he 
hoped to reach by the efforts of a lifetime is already 
under his feet. Paul faces each arduous step in his 
new enterprise, strong in the conviction that his stand- 
ing before God is rooted, not in his doings nor in his 
feelings, but in his Saviour in whom he holds the 
righteousness of faith. 

We need not conceal from ourselves, however, that 
many find the doctrine thus ascribed to Paul unaccept- 
able. If they do not count it positively misleading, 
as some do, they yet regard it as unprofitable 
theory. 

Apart from objections drawn from theology or 
morals or texts, they argue, for example, that it is all 
in the air, away from real experience. Christian 
religion is a practical matter, — a question of improved 
dispositions, improved habits, and improved prospects* 
If, through Christ, such things as these arise for us, 
if, through Him, influences reach us that tend to such 
results, then those are the practical specimens which 
interpret to us a Saviour's kindness* To know Christ 
in these must be the true knowledge of Him. To 
carry us away beforehand into the region of a supposed 
relation to God is a precarious, and may be a delusive 
business ; it is, at any rate, a dogmatic nicety rather 
than a vital element in religion* If we are to experience 

IS 



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226 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



God's mercy or Christ's kindness in any practical form, 
then that is to be so ; and it is shorter to say so at 
once. Let us fix on that, without interposing any 
doctrine of "righteousness by faith." 

But it must be said, in reply, that to speak of this 
righteousness of faith as unpractical, is a strange mis- 
take. All religion aims at fellowship with God; and 
in Christian religion that fellowship becomes real and 
authentic in Christ. Through all exercises and attain- 
ments of Christian religion that are genuine, this thread 
goes. We have access to God, and we abide in the 
Father and the Son. How imperfectly this takes place 
on our part need not be said. The imperfection on our 
part is, indeed, only exceeded by the condescension 
on His. Yet our faith is that this is real, otherwise 
Christianity would not be for us the opening of an 
eternal blessedness. How can it be judged unpractical, 
if God reveals to men, first, that in the room of those 
confused and melancholy relations to God which arise 
for us out of our own past history. He has constituted 
for us a relation, apprehensible by faith, in which we 
find ourselves pardoned, accepted, commended to God 
to be made partakers of life eternal; and, secondly, 
that this is grounded in the service and sacrifice of His 
Son, sent forth to save us ; so that we enter this 
relation and hold it, not independently, but in fellow- 
ship with the Son of God, His sonship becoming the 
model of ours ? Is this unpractical ? Is it unpractical 
to be conscious of such a relation between God and 



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ill. 9.] THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH. 227 

men, for ever embodied and made accessible in His 
Son our Saviour ? Is it unpractical to apprehend God 
in the attitude towards us which is due to such a 
relation, and to take, ourselves, the attitude of gratitude 
and penitence and trust which on our side corresponds 
to it ? It cannot be unpractical. It may be pernicious, 
if it takes the form of a cold, presumptuous arrogance, 
or of a self-satisfied Pharisaism ; that is to say, if God 
be not in it But if God in Christ is reaching us along 
those lines, or if we, alive to His eternal character, and 
conscious of our guilt and need, are reaching out to 
real relations and real fellowship with Him through 
His Son our Lord, then it cannot be unpractical. And, 
indeed, however men may differ as to theological 
explanations, some sense of the worth of the thing 
intended has reached the hearts of all true Christians. 

Perhaps the state of the case will more clearly appear 
if we fix attention on one Christian benefit. Let us 
take the forgiveness of sins. 

Forgiveness of sins is the primary grace, and it sets 
the type of the grace to which we owe all benefits. 
Forgiveness, as it were, leads in all other blessings 
by the hand ; or, each blessing as it advances into a 
Christian life comes with a fresh gift of forgiveness in 
the heart of it If this is so, then the tendency, which 
is observable in various quarters, to pass forgiveness 
by, as a matter of course, and to hurry on to what 
are reckoned more substantial, or more experimental 
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228 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



far, damage our conceptions of the manner in which 
it befits God to bestow blessings on sinful men, and 
also our conception of the spirit in which we should 
receive them. 

But then, in the next place, the forgiveness of sins 
itself is referred to the mediation of Christ, and the 
work accomplished in that mediation, as its known 
basis. Forgiveness of sins was to arise out of an 
order of grace, embodied in history — namely, in the 
history of the Incarnate Son of God ; and we are not 
entitled to take for granted it could fitly arise otherwise. 
Apparently Christ Himself came into the inheritance 
which He holds for us, by an order of things which it 
was imperative on Him to regard, and by a history 
which He must fulfil. And we, believing in Him, find, 
in consequence, a new place and standing ; we receive 
a *' gift of righteousness " which contains the forgive- 
ness of sins ; we obtain, through Christ, a mode o 
access to God, of which forgiveness is a feature. So 
the place of forgiveness in the Divine administration 
is vindicated and safe-guarded ; and while forgiveness 
comes to us as a gift of the Father's compassionate 
heart, it is found to be true also that " Christ washed 
us from our sins in His own blood." *' God sent His 
Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem 
them that were under the law." " God hath sent Him 
forth for a propitiation, through faith in His blood, to 
declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that 
are past, . . . that He might be just, and the Justifier 



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iii. 9.] THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH 229 



of him that believeth in Jesus." Our forgiveness is a 
free gift of God's goodness ; yet also, it is our par- 
ticipation with Christ, sent to us from the Father, in a 
wonderful relation which He has come to hold to sin 
and to righteousness. If we overlook this, we conceal 
from ourselves great aspects of the work undertaken 
for us by the love of God. 

But if forgiveness, which is itself a meeting with 
God in peace, refers itself to the mediation of Christ as 
preparing for us a blessed relation to God — a righteous- 
ness of faith — how should our whole fellowship with 
God, in grace, fail to presuppose the same foundation ? 

But argument upon this topic might lead us far. 
Let us close the chapter in another vein. 

All religion, worth recognising in that character, 
implies earnestness, serious aspiration and endeavour. 
It supposes human life to place itselfunder the influence 
of an order of motives that is to be comprehensive 
and commanding. And this is true also of Christian 
religion. But Christian religion, as we know, does 
not begin with a consciousness of ability to achieve 
success ; it is not grounded in an expectation that by 
strenuous or apt effort of ours, we may achieve the 
aims and secure the benefits at which religion points. 
That is not the root of Christian religion. It begins 
with a consciousness and confession of weakness : the 
soul owns its incompetency to deal with the great 
interests that reveal themselves in the light of Christ ; 
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230 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



deepest and earliest exercise of Christian religion is 
Prayer. It asks great things from a great God. " This 
poor man cried," and the Lord heard him. Paul's 
Christianity began thus : " Behold, he prayeth." 

Now just so Christian religion does not b^n with a 
consciousness of deserving something, or an idea that 
by taking pains we may deserve something, may single 
ourselves out for at least some modest share of favour- 
able recognition. Rather it often begins with the fading 
away of such ideas when they were present before. 
Christian religion roots itself in the confession of sin, 
and therefore of ill-desert; it signalises itself by a 
deepening sense of the seriousness of the situation in 
this respect. With this it comes face to face before 
God. "I will confess my transgressions unto the 
Lord." " God be merciful to me a sinner." We have 
nothing that is not sinful to bring before Him ; so, at 
length, we come with that. It is all we have. Our 
prayer rises not merely out of the sense of weakness, 
but out of the consciousness of demerit. 

But in Christian religion we are aware, as of strength 
which can remedy our weakness, so of forgiveness 
which can put away our sins. " There is forgiveness 
with Thee." " Through this Man is preached to us the 
forgiveness of sins." It is clear also that this forgive- 
ness comes, wherever it comes, as full and free forgive- 
ness, "forgiving you all trespasses." So that in 
Christian religion we listen at Christ's feet to the 
testimony directed to all penitent believers, that instead 



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iii. 9.] THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH, 231 



of reckoning in part or whole about the guilt of sins 
committed, we are to find God in Christ to be One who 
simply puts away our sin. That shall hold us apart 
from God no more. Rather, the putting of it away 
brings with it the strangest, lowliest access to God. 
" O God, thou art my God." " Who is a God like unto 
Thee ? " Forgiveness is by no means mere immunity 
(least of all for Christian religion). Punishment, cer- 
tainly, in the sense of the separation and evil which sin 
deserves, passes away. But forgiveness, in Christian 
religion, is forgiveness with the Forgiver in it. We 
meet God in the forgiveness of sins. We abide with 
God in the forgiveness of sins. 

Forgiveness, too, as we already foresee, is but the 
foundation and beginning of a history in which we 
are called to go forward. This history may have sad 
passages in it ; but in going forward in it in faith we 
are assured that on God's part it is a history of most 
painstaking and most sublime benefaction : all of it 
ordered so as to be of a piece with His sending of His 
Son ; all of it instinct with the grace of our Lord Jesus 
Christ. Faith looking to Christ believes this, and 
receives it. And to faith upheld by Him on whom we 
trust all this is more and more made good, and comes 
true. It is a history of progress in true goodness. 
And the end is life everlasting. 

Now the words before us suggest, upon the one 
hand, very strongly, the simply gratuitous character of 
the Christian benefits, and the sense of undeserved 



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232 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 



kindness with which they are to be received. In 
Christian religion we begin as those who have no 
righteousness, who plead no merit, who owe and are 
to owe all to Divine mercy. From the base upwards 
Christian religion is a religion of grace ; and " it is of 
faith, that it might be by grace." Whatever activities, 
whatever successes may fall into the Christian's career, 
whatever long possession of accustomed good may 
eventually mark his experience, all is to be informed 
and inspired by this initial and perpetual conviction, 
" Not having mine own righteousness, which is of the 
law." 

At the same time, the same words of the Apostle 
suggest very strongly the Divine stability of the good 
which meets us in Christ. A very strong foundation 
has been laid for those who flee for refuge to lay hold 
of the hope set before them in the gospel. To our 
sense, indeed, things may seem to be most mutable. 
But when faith reaches to the things not seen, it learns 
another lesson. In Christ believers are g^ced with 
entrance into an order of salvation divinely strong and 
durable. When God gave us Christ, He gave us, in a 
sense, "all things," and indeed all things ordering 
themselves into an eternal expression of fatherly love 
and care. In Christ comes into view not goodness 
only, but goodness allying itself for us with Wisdom 
and Power and Right. It makes its way by incarnation 
and atonement and resurrection to a kingdom which, 
being first Christ's, appointed to Him, is also His 



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ii. 9.] THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH. 233 



people's, appointed to them. Now a relation to God 
which looks forward to all this, which is the basis for it 
and the entrance to it, descends on the believing man 
through Christ. It is due to Christ that it should 
come so. It is the Father's loving will that it should 
be so. All that is needful to ground and vindicate that 
most gracious relation is found in Christ, who of God 
is made unto us righteousness ; in whom we hold the 
righteousness which is of God on faith. 

The Apostle's course of thought has not led us to 
raise any question about the nature and the virtue of 
the faith which apprehends and receives the righteous- 
ness of God. It is a subject on which much has been 
said. What seems needful here may be soon spoken. 

The only way of entering on new relations with God, 
or ourselves becoming new men, is the way of faith. 
This Christian way is the only way. Every other is 
simply impossible. Let any man seriously try it, and 
he will find it so. But the question. What kind of 
faith? is best answered by saying. Such faith as is 
called for by the object of faith set before us, when that 
is honestly and intently regarded. As the gospel is, 
the faith must be; for the gospel is the instrument 
by which faith is evoked, sustained, and guided. The 
great object of faith is God, graciously revealing Himself 
through Christ. Every genuine aspect of this revela- 
tion takes its significance from its disclosure of God. 
The faith, so called, which misses this, is wrong faith ; 
the faith which marks and welcomes this is right faith. 



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234 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 

And such faith is already, even in its earliest life, 
breaking forth into repentance and love and obedience. 
It must be, for God is in it. 

So, to confine ourselves to the aspect of things which 
occupies this chapter, the faith which meets God in the 
forgiveness of sins through Christ, and genuinely 
accepts from Him the wonderftil position of holding 
fellowship with God forgiving, is already, virtually, 
repentance as well as faith. The man who so meets 
with God, is therein agreed with God about his own 
sin : he feels God to be in the right and himself to be 
wholly in the wrong ; he feels, in particular, God to be 
most sublimely and conclusively in the right in the holy 
pity of His forgiveness. The man who does not feel 
this, is not accepting forgiveness. He may be postur- 
ing as if he were, but he is not doing it. 

There is just one difficulty in faith — the difficulty of 
being real. But when it is real, it makes all things 
new. 



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RESURRECTION UFE AND DAILY DYING, 



935 



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"That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the 
fellowship of His sufferings, becoming conformed unto His death ; if 
by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead."* — 
Phiu iii. lo, II. 



»36 



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CHAPTER XIII. 

RESURRECTION UFE AND DAILY DYING. 

WE have still other aspects to consider of that 
" gain " which the Apostle descried in Christ, 
for the sake of which he had cast so much away. 

To prize the righteousness of faith was an element 
in the true knowledge of Christ ; but it was so far from 
exhausting that knowledge, that it only opened a door 
of progress, and brought near the most stirring pos- 
sibilities. For, indeed, to be found in Christ having 
that righteousness meant that God in Christ was his, 
and had begun to communicate Himself in eternal life. 
Now this must still reveal itself in further and fuller 
knowledge of Christ. According to the Apostle's con- 
ception, that which Christ means to be to us, that 
which we may attain to be by Christ, opens progres- 
sively to the soul that has been won to this pursuit ; it 
comes into view and into experience in a certain grow- 
ing knowledge. It is a practical historical career ; and 
the Apostle was set on achieving it, not by strength or 
wisdom of his own, but by the continual communication 
of grace, responding to desire and prayer and endeavoun 



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238 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



We must not forget, what has more than once been 
said, that this earthly life of ours is the scene in which 
the discipline goes on, in which the career is achieved. 
It is the calling here and now, not at some other stage 
of being, that the Apostle is thinking of for himself and 
for his disdples. And as earthly life is the scene, so 
earthly life also furnishes the occasions and oppor- 
tunities by which the knowledge of Christ is to 
advance. Any other way of it is for us inconceivable. 
This life in all the various forms which it assumes for 
different men, in all the changing experiences which it 
brings to each of us — life on the earth we know so 
well — with its joy and sorrow, its labour and rest, its 
gifts and its bereavements, its friends and foes, its 
times and places, its exercise and interest for body 
and mind, for intellect and heart and conscience, with 
its temptations and its better influences, — life must 
furnish the opportunities for acquiring this practical 
knowledge of Christ For that which falls to us, if 
we are in Christ, is a certain blessed well-being (itself 
an unfolding of Christ's wisdom and grace). And this 
must impart itself, and reveal itself, in our actual ex- 
perience, but in an experience which we pass through 
under the guidance of Christ. 

This familiar life, then, is the scene ; it alone can 
furnish the opportunities. And yet what the Apostle 
apprehends, as coming into possession and experience, 
is a life of a higher style, a life set on a nobler key : it 
is a life that has its centre and source and true type 



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hi. lo, II.] RESURRECTION LIFE AND DAILY DYING. 239 



elsewhere ; it belongs to a higher region ; indeed, it is 
a life whose perfect play pertains to another, coming 
world. Capacity for such a life is not something super- 
human ; it is congenital to man, made in the image of 
God. And yet, if these capacities unfold, man's life 
must, in the end, become other than we know it now ; 
with a new proportioning of elements, with a new 
order of experience, with new harmonies, with aptitudes 
for love and service and worship that are beyond us 
now. Only now, they begin and grow ; they are now 
to be aimed at, and realised in earnest and firstfruit, 
and embraced in hope. For they are elements in the 
knowledge of Christ, who is ours to know. 

This is indicated in the Apostle's aspiration after 
knowing Christ in the power of His resurrection, and 
his yearning if by any means he might attain to the 
resurrection of the dead. 

The resurrection of Christ marked the acceptance of 
His work by the Father, and revealed the triumph in 
which that work ended. Death and all the power of 
the enemy were overcome, and victory was attained. 
For one thing, the resurrection of Christ made sure the 
righteousness of faith. He rose again for our justifica- 
tion. So every passage of the Apostle's life which proved 
that his confidence in that respect was not vain, that 
God in Christ was truly his God, was an experience of 
the power of Christ's resurrection. But the resurrection 
of Christ was also His emergence — His di4e emergence 
—into the power and blessedness of victorious life. In 



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240 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



the Person of Christ life in God, and unto God, had 
descended into the hard conditions set for Him who 
would associate a world of sinners to Himself. In the 
resurrection the triumph of that enterprise came to 
light. Now, done Mrith sin, and free from death, and 
asserting His superiority to aU humiliation and all 
conflict, He rose in the fulness of a power which He 
was entitled also to communicate. He rose, with full 
right and power to save. And so His resurrection 
denotes Christ as able to inspire life, and to make it 
victorious in His members. 

When, then, Paul says that he would know Christ 
in the power of His resurrection, he aims at a life 
(already his, but capable of far more adequate develop- 
ment) conformed to the life which triumphed in the 
risen Christ, one with that in principle, in character, 
and in destiny. This was, in the meantime, to be 
human life on the earth, with the known elements 
and conditions of that life ; including, in Paul's case, 
some that were hard enough. But it was to be trans- 
formed from within, inspired with a new meaning and 
aim. It was to have its elements polarised anew, 
organised by new forces and in a new rhythm. It was, 
and was to be, pervaded by peace with God, by the 
consciousness of redemption, by dedication to service. 
It was to include a recoil from evil, and a sympathy 
with goodness, — elements these which might be so far 
thought of as a reverting to the unfallen state. But it 
had more in it, because it was based on redemption, 



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iii. lo, ii.l RESURRECTION LIFE AND DAILY DYING, 241 



and rooted in Christ who died and rose again. It was 
baptised with the passion of gratitude ; it was drawn 
into the effort to build up the Redeemer's kingdom; 
and it aimed at a better country. 

So while the life we know so well was the sphere in 
which this experience fulfilled itself, the longings it 
included pointed to an existence higher up and further 
on — to an existence only to be reached by resurrection 
from the dead, an existence certainly promised to be so 
reached. All the effort and the longing pointed to that 
door of hope ; Paul was reaching on to the resurrection 
of the dead. For that blessed resurrection would con- 
summate and fulfil the likeness to Christ and the 
fellowship with Him, and would usher into a manner 
of being where the experience of both should be 
unimpeded. The life of " knowing Christ " could 
not be contented here, could not rest satisfied short 
of that consummation. For indeed to be with Christ 
and to labour for Christ here on earth was good ; 
yet so that to depart and be with Christ was far 
better. 

We have here to do with the active and victorious 
aspect of Christian life, the energy in it that makes it 
new and great. It holds by a title and it draws from a 
source which must be looked for, both of them, high 
up in heaven. Something in it has already triumphed 
over death. 

It may be felt, however, that there is some danger 
here lest the great words of Paul may carry us off our 

\6 



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242 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 

feet, and divorce us from terra firma altogether. Some 
one may ask, But what does all this mean in practice ? 
What sort of life is it to be ? Apostles can soar, per- 
haps ; but how about the man in the workshop or in the 
counting-house, or the woman busied in family cares ? 
A life in " the power of a resurrection " seems to be 
something that transcends earthly conditions altogether. 
These are perfectly fair questions, and one should try 
to meet them with a plain reply. 

The life in view is first of all goodness in its ordinary 
sense, or what we call common morality — common* 
honesty, common truthfulness, common kindness. " Let 
him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labour " ; 
" Not slothful in business " ; " Lie not one to another, 
seeing ye have put off the old man with his deeds." 
But then this common morality begins to have an un- 
common heart or spirit in it, by reason of Christ. So 
a new love for goodness and a new energy of rejection 
of evil begin to work ; also, a new sensitiveness to 
discern good, where its obligation was not felt before, 
and to be aware of evil which, before, was tolerated. 
Moreover, in the heart of this " common morality " the 
man carries about a consciousness of his own relation 
to God, and also of the relation to God of all with whom 
he meets. This consciousness is very imperfect, some- 
times perhaps almost vanishes. Yet the man is aware 
that an immense truth is here close to him, and he has 
begun to be alive to it. This consciousness tends to 
give a new value to all the "moralities": it awakens a 



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lii. lo, II.] RESURRECTION LIFE AND DAILY DYING, 243 



new percipiency as to good and evil ; in particular, the 
great duty of purity in relation to the man himself, and 
to others, acquires a new sacredness. The place and 
claims of self also begin to be judged by a quite new 
standard. In all directions possibilities of good and 
evil in human life are descried ; and the obligation to 
refuse the evil and to choose the good presses with a 
new force. So far, the remark made a little ago is 
justified, that the Christian life of Paul was a life that 
had begun to point practically towards sinlessness, 
towards what we call an unfallen state ; however far 
off it might be, as yet, from that attainment. But this 
would be a very limited account of the matter. The 
whole region of duty and privilege Godwards is lighted 
up now by the faith of redemption in Christ ; that not 
only awakens gratitude, but inspires a new passion of 
desire and hope into all moral eifort. And the man, 
being now aware of a kingdom of goodness set up by 
Christ, which is making its way to victory against all 
the power of evil, and being aware of the agencies by 
which it works, must give himself in his own place to 
the service of that kingdom, that he may not hurt but 
help the cause which it embodies. The new life is 
therefore to be an energetic life of the plainest goodness. 
Only faith places it in relation to the world of faith, and 
inspires it with the passion of love and gratitude, and 
amplifies it by the new horizons that fall back on all 
sides, and gives it a goal in the hope of \\k eternal. 
Returning to the instance of the Apostle Paul, one 



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244 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHJLIPPIANS. 



observes from his account of it that the r^;ard of the 
believer to Christ, such regard as may actually be 
attained and operative in this b'fe, ought to fructify into 
desires and prayers that point beyond this life, and 
reach out to the resurrection of the dead. There is a 
contentedness with life here that is not Christian. It 
would agree well with a thankful use of earthly comforts, 
and a cheerful serenity amid earth's changes, that we 
should feel our home and our treasure to be in another 
place, and the enjoyment of them to lie in a coming 
world. Not otherwise shall we know how to make a 
right Christian use and have a right Christian enjoy- 
ment of this life. We are not prepared to get the full 
good of this world until we are ready and willing to go 
out of it 

Let it be observed, also, how the Apostle strove to 
"attain" the resurrection of the dead. The great 
things of the Kingdom of God are exhibited in various 
connections, none of which are to be overlooked. One 
of these connections is here exhibited. 

We know that in Scripture a distinction is made 
between the resurrection of the righteous and the 
resurrection of the wicked. A solemn obscurity rests 
on the manner and the principles of the latter, the 
resurrection to shame. But the resurrection of the 
just takes place in virtue of their union to Christ ; it is 
after the example of His resurrection ; it is to glory and 
honour. Now this resurrection, while it is most ob- 
viously a crowning blessing and benefaction coming 



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iii. 10^ II.] RESURRECTION LIFE AND DAILY DYING. 245 



from God, is represented also as having the character 
of an attainment made by us. The faith in which we 
turn to God is the beginning of a course leading to the 
" end of our faith, the salvation of our souls." This 
end coincides with the resurrection. Then the hour 
comes which completes, then the state arrives in which 
is completed, the redemption of the man. The resur- 
rection rises before us, therefore, as something which, 
while on the one hand promised and given by God, 
is, on the other hand, " attained " by us. Our Lord 
(Luke XX. 35) speaks of those who shall be "counted 
worthy to attain that world, and the resurrection of the 
dead." 

The resurrection is promised to believers. It is 
promised to arise to them in sequel to a certain course — 
a history of redemption, made good in their lives. How 
shall the disciple verify his expectation of this final 
benefit ? Not surely without verifying the intermediate 
history. The way must point towards the end — at 
least, must point towards it. A resurrection state, if 
it be like Christ's, how much must it include I What 
purity, what high aptitudes, what delicate congenialities ! 
The desires of the true Christian life, its aspirations and 
efforts, as well as the promises which animate and the 
influences which sustain it, all point in this direction. 
But how if in any case this prove unreal, deceptive ; how 
if it be ostensible only ? How if no real changes take 
place, or if they die out again ? What if soul and body 
rise unchanged, the soul polluted, and so the very body 



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246 THE EPISTLE TO THE PiltLIPPIANS. 



bearing the stamp of old sins ? What if the murderous 
eye of hate, or the lurid eye of lust, shall look into the 
eyes of Him whose eyes are as a flame of fire ? Accord- 
ingly this connection of things is impressed upon us by 
our Apostle (Rom. viii. 1 1) : " //"the Spirit of Him that 
raised up Christ from the dead dwell in you, He that 
raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your 
mortal body by His Spirit which dwelleth in you." 
While we live here, our body, however disciplined, must 
still be the body of our humiliation (ver. 21); and sin 
continues to beset even renewed souls. But if the 
Spirit of grace is even now bringing all into subjection 
to the obedience of Christ, enabling us to die to sin 
and to live to righteousness, that points forward to the 
completion of the work, in the resurrection to glory. 

This, then, is one view in which the Apostle realises 
the solemnity and interest of Christian life. It is, the 
way that leads up to such a resurrection. The resurrec- 
tion rises before him as the consummate triumph of that 
life for which he came to Christ, the life which he longs 
perfectly to possess, perfectly to know. The success, 
of his great venture is to meet Him in the rising from 
the dead ; his course, meanwhile, is a striving onwards 
to it. How was it to be reached ? In order to that, 
much must still be brought into experience of the 
resurrection power of Christ. Only in that strength 
did Paul look to be carried to the point at which, ending 
his course, he should lie down (if he died before Christ 
come) in the blessed hope of the rising from the dead. 



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iii. lo, n.] RESURRECTION UFE AND DAILY DYING, 247 



For this he looked to Christ to work mightily in him ; 
for this he owned himself bound, under the grace of 
Christ, to strive mightily, if " by any means " he might 
attain to it. So great is this consummation ; so great 
are those things whidh fitly lead up to it. Is it not a 
great view of Christian religion that it sends men onward 
in a life in which they " attain " to the resurrection of 
the dead ? Must not that be a great history of which 
this is the appropriate close ? 

Paul, then, was eager to go forward in a life intense 
and mighty, drawing on a great power to sustain it, 
and rising into splendid effects and results. But yet, 
in respect of some of its aspects, it rather seemed to 
the Apostle to be a certain deliberate and blessed dying. 
At least, the life must fulfil and realise itself along such 
a dying ; and this also, this emphatically, he pressed 
on to know — " the fellowship of His sufferings, being 
made conformable to His death." 

Our Lord's life on earth, strong and beautiful though 
it was, was really at the same time His procedure to- 
wards death. He lived as one laying down His life, 
not merely in one great sacrifice at the close, but from 
step to step along His whole earthly history. With no 
touch of the morbid or the fanatical, yet His course, in 
practice, had to be one of self-impoverishment, of lone- 
liness, of acquaintance with energetic hostility of sin 
and sinners. It had to be so if it was to be faithful. 
He knew not where to lay His head ; He endured the 
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24S THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIASS, 



His own, and His own received Him not. Even His 
friends, whom He so loved, and who loved Him in 
their imperfect way, did not love Him wisely or 
magnanimously, and constantly became occasions of 
temptation which had to be resisted. Pain and trial 
were the inevitable characters of the work given Him 
to do. It lay in His calling to put a strong and faithful 
negative on the natural desire for safety, for happiness, 
for congenial society and surroundings, for free and 
unembarrassed life. All this He had steadily to post- 
pone to a period beyond the grave, and meanwhile 
make His way to the final crisis, at which, under a 
mysterious burden of extreme sorrow, accepted as the 
Saviour's proper portion, He died for our sins. By 
this sacrifice He did, no doubt, relieve His foUowers of 
a burden which they never could have borne. But yet 
in doing so He made it possible for them to enter, 
happily and hopefully, on a life so far like His own. 
Their Ufe, too, comes to be governed by a decision, 
maintained and persisted in, for God's will, and against 
the impulse, in their case the impure and treacherous 
impulse, of their own will^ They also, in their turn, 
but under His influence and with His loving succour, 
have so to live as in that life to die. They learn to say 
"No" for their Master's sake to many objects which 
strongly appeal to them. They consent to postpone 
the period of perfectly harmonious life, free and un- 
impeded, to the time which lies beyond death. They 
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ui. lo, II.] RESURRECTION UFE AND DAILY DYING, 249 



conformed to and associated with their Master's life, 
they shall live in another scene of things. Meanwhile, 
as to the elements of this world, the life which stands 
in these must die, or they must die to it, growing into 
the mind of their Lord. 

It is difficult to speak of this without, on the one 
hand, conveying a strained and unreal view of the 
Christian's attitude towards the present life, or, on the 
other hand, weakening too much the sense of " con- 
formity to His death." In the first place, the Christian's 
dying is mainly, and certainly it is first of all, a 
dying to sin, a mortifying the flesh with the affec- 
tions and lusts. It is the practical renunciation of 
evil, along with the maintenance of the watchfulness 
and self-discipline needed in order to be ready to re- 
nounce evil when it comes. Evil has to be rejected, 
not merely by itself, but at the cost of those earthly 
interests which are involved in the surrender to it, 
however dear or constraining those interests may 
seem to be ; so that conformity to Christ's death, if 
it covered no more, would still cover a great deal of 
ground. But it seems to cover something more — 
namely, a general loosening of the grasp upon this life, 
or on the temporary and sensible elements of it, in 
view of the worth and certainty of the higher and the 
better life. This Hfe, indeed, as long as we are in it, 
can never lose its claims upon us, as the sphere of our 
duty, and the scene of our training. Here we have our 
place to fill, our relations to sustain, our part to play, 



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250 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 



our ministries to perform. In all these ways of it we 
have some good to do, of lower or loftier kinds ; in all, 
we have many lessons to learn, which crowd upon us 
to the last ; through all, we have to carry the faith of 
the unseen Kingdom and the unseen Lord ; and in all 
these aspects of earthly life, if God gives us any cheer- 
ing experience of earthly brightness, surely it is to be 
taken most thankfully. It is a poor way of construing 
the conformity to Christ's death, to renounce interest 
in the life of which we are a part, and the world which 
is the scene of it. But the interest should fasten more 
intently on the things which interest our Lord, and 
eagerness of spirit about earthly good for ourselves 
must give place and subside. 

And yet, when one thinks of the beauty and sweet- 
ness of much that pertains to our earthly existence, 
and of the goodness of God in material or temporal 
gifts, and of the thankfulness with which Christian 
hearts are to take these when they are given, and are 
to walk with God in the use of them, one feels the risk 
of involving oneself here in extravagance or in contra- 
diction. We are not going to maintain that the Apostle 
would shut himself out, or us, from interest or delight 
in the innocent beauty or gladness of the earth. But 
yet, is it not true that we are all passing on to death, 
and in death are to be parted from all this ? Is it not 
true that as Christians we consent to dying ; we count 
it the good discipline of Christ's people that they should 
die, and pass so into the better life? Is it not true 



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iii. lo, II.] RESURRECTION LIFE AND DAILY DYING, 251 



that our life as Christians should train us to maintain 
this mind deliberately and habitually, calmly and 
gladly ? For indeed this life, at its purest and best, 
still offers to us a vision of good that is apt to steal our 
hearts away from the supreme good, the best and 
highest. Now that best and highest rises before us, as 
practically to be made ours, in the resurrection. 

Meanwhile, it is well, no doubt, that we should 
cherish a frank and thankful gladness in all earthly 
good and earthly beauty that can be taken as from the 
Father's hand. Yet there should grow upon us an 
inward consent, strengthening as the days go by, 
that this shall not endure ; that it shall not be our 
permanent possession ; that it shall be loosely held, 
as ere long to be parted from. Such a mind should 
grow, not because our hearts are cold to the present 
country of our being, but because they are warming 
towards a better country. These earthly things are 
good, but they are not ours ; we have only a lease 
of them, terminable at any time. Who shall bring 
us to that which is, and shall eternally be, our very 
own? 

So Christ our Master passed through life, with an 
open eye and heart for the fair and the lovable around 
Him, for flowers and little children, and for what was 
estimable or attractive in men, even in a natural way. 
Surely all was dear to Him on which He could see the 
trace of the Creator's holy hands. Yet He passed on 
and passed by, going forward to death and consenting 



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Z'iz THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 

to die, His face set steadfastly to a joy before Him 
which could not be realised by lingering here. 

Now let this be especially observed, that while we 
may here recognise a practical lesson to be learned, the 
wisest of us may also recognise it as a lesson we could 
not undertake to teach to ourselves. To oppose sin, 
when conscience and God's word warn us of its 
presence, is at least something definite and plain. But 
how to take the right attitude and bear the right mind 
towards this various, manifold, engrossing, wonderful 
human life, as it unfolds for us here — how shall that be 
done ? Some have tried to answer by amputating large 
sections of human experience. But that is not the way. 
For, indeed, it is in human life itself— in this present, 
and, for the present, the only form of our existence — that 
we must take the right view of human Ufe, and form 
the right mind about it. Moreover, our conditions are 
varying continually, from the state of the little child, 
open to every influence that strikes the sense, to the 
state of the old man, whom age is shutting up in a 
crippled and stunted existence. The just equipoise of 
soul for one stage of life, could it be attained, would not 
be the just equipoise for the next. 

The truth is, there is no ready-made theory here for 
any of us. .Ml our attainments in it are tentative and 
provisional ; which does not hinder, however, that they 
may be very real When we believe in Christ we 
become aware that there is a lesson in this department 
to be learned, and we become willing, in a measure, to 



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iii. 10, iij RESURRECTION UFE AND DAILY DYING. 253 



learn it. But we should learn little were it not for three 
great teachers that take us in hand. 

The first is the inevitable conflict with sin and 
temptation. The Christian must, at all events, strive 
against known sin, and he must hold himself ready to 
resist the onset of temptation, watching and praying. 
In this discipline he soon learns how sin is entangled 
for him with much that in other respects seems desirable 
or good ; he learns that in rejecting sin he must forgo 
some things which on other accounts he gladly would 
embrace. It is often a painful conflict through which 
he has to pass. Now in seeking help from his Lord, 
and entering into the fellowship of the mind of Christ, 
he is not only strengthened to repel the sin, but also 
learns to submit willingly to any impoverishment or 
abridgement of earthly life which the conflict entails. 
He is taught in practice, now in one form, now in 
another, to count all things but loss — to lower the 
overweening estimate of earthly treasure and let it go, 
dying to it with his dying Lord. 

Then, besides, there is the discipline of suffering. 
Sorrow, indeed, is not peculiar to Christians. Of it, all 
are partakers. But Christian endurance is part of a 
fellowship with Christ, in which we learn of Him. In 
the warm air of prosperity a hot mist rises round the 
soul, that hides from view the great realities, and that 
deceives and misleads us with its vain mirage. But in 
suffering, taken in Christ's way and in fellowship with 
Him, in the pain of disappointment and of loss, and 



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254 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIJ.\S. 



especially in the exercise of submission, we are taught 
feelingiy where our true treasure is ; and we are trained 
to consent to separations and privations, for the sake 
of Christ, and under the influence of the love of 
Christ 

And, lastly, the growth of Christian experience and 
Christian character deepens our impressions of the 
worth of Christ's salvation, and gives more body and 
more ardour to Christian hope. As that worid with its 
perfect good draws the believer, as it becomes more 
visible to faith and more attractive, his grasp of this 
world becomes, perhaps, not less kindly, but it becomes 
less tenacious. Knowledge, such as the schools of earth 
afford, we still feel to be desirable and good. Love, 
under the conditions which earth supplies for its exer- 
cise, we still feel to be very dear. The activities 
which call out courage and resource, we still feel to 
be interesting and worthy. Yet knowledge proves to 
be but in part And love, if it does not die, needs for 
its health and security a purer air. And in the 
problems of active life failure still mingles with success. 
But the love of God which is in Jesus Christ grows 
in worth and power ; so that, in new applications of the 
principle, we learn afresh to " count all things but loss 
for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ" 

In a word, then, that we may grow into the mind 
of Christ, sufferings and self-denials are appointed to 
come into experience. He sets them for us ; we should 
not wisely set them for ourselves. They come in the 



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iii. 10, II.] RESURRECTION LIFE AND DAILY DYING. 255 



conflict with sin or in the ordinary discipline of life. 
Either way they become for believers the fellowship of 
Christ's sufferings ; for they are taken in Christ's way, 
under His eye, endured in the strength of His truth and 
grace and salvation. So believers become more con- 
formable to His death. Hence this discipline of trial 
is indispensable to all disciples. 

Some such view of the ends of Christ in regard to 
separation from sin and disengagement from the life 
which is doomed to die, we suppose to have been 
before Paul's mind. He had come to Christ for life, 
abundant and victorious, such as should be answer- 
able to the power of Christ's resurrection. But he 
saw that such life must fulfil itself in a certain dying, 
made good in a fellowship of Christ's sufferings ; and 
it must find its completeness and its peace beyond 
death, in the resurrection of the dead. Did he flinch 
or shrink from this ? No : he longed to have it all 
perfectly accomplished. His knowledge of Christ was 
to be not only in the power of His resurrection, but in 
the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conform- 
able to His death. 

Whatever mistakes have been made by followers of 
the ascetic life, it is a mistake on the other side to 
neglect this element of Christianity. He who is not 
self-denied, and that cheerfully, to the danger and 
seduction of lawful things, is one who has not his loins 
girt nor his lamp burning. 

It is worth our while to mark the thoroughgoing 



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256 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



sincerity of the Apostle's Christianity. Not merely did 
he in general embrace Christ and salvation : but with 
the utmost cordiality he embraced the method of Christ ; 
he strove after fellowship with Christ's mind in living, 
and also in dying; he did so, though the fellowship 
included not only the power of His resurrection, but the 
fellowship of His sufferings. He longed to have it all 
fulfilled in his own case. So he strove toward the 
resurrection of the dead. 

In parting from these great Christian thoughts we 
may note how fitly the power of Christ's resurrection 
takes precedence of the fellowship of His sufferings and 
the being made conformable to His death. Some have 
thought that, as death comes before resurrection, the 
order of the clauses might have been inverted. But it 
is only through the precedent virtue of Christ's resur- 
rection that such a history is achieved, either in Paul 
or in any of us. We must be partakers of life in the 
power of Christ's resurrection, if we are to carry through 
the fellowship with the suffering and the death. 



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CHRISTIAN UFE A RACE. 



HI i; 

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** Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect : 
but I press on, if so be that I may apprehend that for which also I 
was apprehended by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself yet 
to have apprehended : but one thing I do, forgetting the things which 
are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I 
press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in 
Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded : 
and if in an>'thing ye are otherwise minded, even this shall God 
reveal unto you : only, whereunto we have already attained, by that 
same rule let us walk. 

" Brethren, be ye imitators together of me, and mark them which 
so walk even as ye have us for an ensample." — Phil. iiL 12-17 (R-V.). 



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CHAPTER XIV. 

CHRISTIAN LIFE A RACE, 

V'ARIOUS passages in this Epistle suggest that the 
Apostle's Philippian friends or some of them 
were relaxing in diligence ; they were failing perhaps 
to lay to heart the need of progress, less sensitive than 
they ought to be to the impulse of Christianity as a 
religion of effort and expectancy. Some of them, it 
might be, were inclined to think of themselves as now 
pretty well initiated into the new religion, and as pretty 
thorough adepts in its teaching and its practice ; entitled 
therefore to sit down and look round with a certain 
satisfaction and complacency. If it were so, the tendency 
to division would be accounted for. Arrogance in 
Christians is a sure preliminary to heats and disput- 
ings. At all events, however it might be at Philippi, 
an insidious complacency in little improvements and 
small attainments is not unknown among Christians. 
It is^ one may fear, a common impression among us 
that we are fair average Christians, — a feeling perhaps 
not so cherished as to make us boast, but yet so 
cherished as to make us feel content And, alas ! the 

959 



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26o THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 



very meaning of Christianity was to inspire us with a 
spirit that would refuse so to be contented. 

Some feeling of this kind may have led the Apostle 
to lay stress on the onward energising character of 
Christianity as he knew it. This was the manner of 
his regard to his Lord. At the foundation of his 
religion there was, indeed, the faith of a wonderful gift 
of righteousness and life. That gift he welcomed and 
embraced. But it wrought in him eagerness of desire, 
and intentness of purpose, to secure and have all that 
this gift implied. It stirred him to activity and progress. 
His was not the Christianity of one who counts himself 
to have already obtained all into possession, nor of one 
who finds himself landed already in the state at which 
the Christian promises aim. Rather he is one set in 
full view of a great result: some experience of the 
benefits of it is already entering into his history ; but it 
is yet to be brought to pass in its fulness ; and that must 
be along a line of believing endeavour, Christ working 
and Paul working, Christ faithful with Paul faithful. 
" I follow after, if that I may lay hold and extend my 
grasp, seeing Christ has laid hold with His grasp on 
me." Christ had a purpose, and has mightily inaugu- 
rated a process through which this purpose may be 
achieved in the history of Paul And as Christ lays 
His grasp on Paul, behold the purpose of Christ 
becomes also the purpose of Paul, and he now throws 
himself into the process with all his force, to apprehend 
that for the sake of which Christ apprehended him. 



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iii. 12.17.] CHRISTIAN LIFE A RACE. 261 



Here Paul signalised one distinguishing attribute of 
genuine Christianity as he knew it He did not yet 
count himself to have laid complete grasp on the whole 
of Christian good. In a very important practical sense 
salvation was still something ahead of him, as to the 
final, secure, complete possession ; Christ Himself was 
an object still before him, as to the knowledge and the 
fellowship for which he longed. But one thing is vital 
and distinctive. " This Saviour with His salvation holds 
me so, that I count all but loss for Him. He holds me 
so, that forgetting all that lies behind, I bend myself to 
the race, stretching out towards the goal at which the 
prize of the high calling of God in Christ is won. That 
is my Christianity." He who had suffered loss of all 
for Christ, he who so burned with desire to know Him 
in His righteousness, in the power of His resurrection, 
in the fellowship of His sufferings, is far from thinking 
he has reached the goal. Because the knowledge of 
Christ is so great a thing in his eyes, therefore, on the 
one hand, all he has attained as yet seems partial and 
imperfect ; but for the same reason, on the other hand, 
he feels the great attraction by which all his powers are 
drawn into the endeavour which so great a prize shkll 
crown. 

The question may here be put how the consistency 
of the gospel can be made out if we are called to rest 
and rejoice in Christ, and if, at the same time, we find 
ourselves committed to so absorbing a struggle for a 
prize. If God will have us, it may be said, to seek and 



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262 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 

Strive that we may obtain, then we must do so because 
it is His will. But where is the connection of things 
that will avert inconsistency, and bring out a reason- 
able continuity of principles, between the call to rest 
on Christ for full salvation, and the call to run a race, 
and so run as to obtain ? For answer it is to be re- 
membered, in the first place, that (as commonly happens 
in matters where life and its activities are concerned) 
the difficulty concerns only the adjustment of our 
theory ; it begins to vanish when we come to practice. 
When we are in vital contact with the spiritual realities 
themselves, we find both elements of the case to be 
true for us, and each indispensable to the truth of the 
other. The rest of faith and the fight of faith belong 
to each other. But not to dwell on so general a con- 
sideration, two lines of thought may be suggested to 
those who are conscious of embarrassment at this point. 
First, let it be considered that the faith of a Christian 
embraces real relations with the living God, different 
from anything that is possible to unbelief. Through 
Christ we believe in God. Those relations are con- 
ceived to be real and vital from the first, though the 
perfect experience of all that they imply belongs to the 
future. Faith means that from the outset of believing 
we are to be to God, and God is to be to us, something 
different from what the flesh perceives. Christ believed 
in is an assurance that so it is and shall be. But now, 
the state of men is such, as long as they have to carry 
on a life of faith in a world of sense and sin, that this 



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Hi. 12-17.] CHRISTIAN LIFE A RACE. 263 

faith of theirs presently meets with flat contradiction. 
The course of the world treats it all as null. Sin in 
their own hearts, and many experiences of life, seem to 
negative the pretensions and the claims of faith. And 
strong temptations whisper that this high fellowship 
with a living God not only does not exist, but that it 
is not desirable that it should. So that from the outset 
and all along, faith, if it is not content to be a mere 
dream, if it will count for a reality, must contend for 
its life. It must fight, "prajdng always with all 
prayer," to make good its ground, and to hold on to its 
Lord. It is indeed the nature of faith to rest, for it is 
a trust; not less certainly faith is under necessity to 
strive, for it is challenged and impeached. 

It lies therefore in the very nature of the case that, 
if faith is in earnest in embracing real and progressive 
salvation, it must find itself drawn into conflict and 
effort to assert the reality and to experience the pro* 
gress. The opposition it meets with ensures this. 

On the other hand, it is the nature of the gospel to 
set men free for active service. It supplies motives, 
therefore, for enterprise, diligence, and fidelity; and 
it provides a goal towards which all shall tend. So 
men become fellow-labourers with their Lord. And if 
it is intelligible that the Lord should exert continual 
care for them, it ought to be intelligible also that they 
are to be exercised in a continual care for Him ; care, 
that is, for the discharge of the trust which they hold 
from Him. 



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264 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



The Apostle dwells on all this, evidently because he 
felt it to be a point of so great importance in practical 
Christianity. In this world the right Christian is the 
man who knows well he has not attained, but who 
devotes his life to attaining. Paul brings this out by 
means of the image of a race for a prize, such as might 
be seen in the public games. This is a favourite 
illustration with him. His use of it illustrates the 
way in which things that are steeped in worldliness 
may aid us in apprehending the things of God's 
kingdom. They do so, because they involve elements 
or energies of man's nature that are good as far as they 
go. As the Apostle thought of the racers, prepared by 
unsparing discipline, which had been concentrated on 
the one object; as he thought of the determination 
with which the eager runners started, and of the way 
in which every thought and every act was bent upon 
the one purpose of success, until the moment when the 
panting runner shot past the goal, it stirred him with 
the resolve to be not less eager in his race ; and it made 
him long to see the children of light as practical and 
wise as, in their generation, the children of this world are. 

As usual in the case of illustrations, this one will not 
hold in all points. For instance, in a race one only 
wins, and all the rest are defeated and disappointed. 
This is not so in the Christian race. The analogies lie 
elsewhere. In order to run well the runners submit to 
preparation in which everything is done to bring out 
their utmost energy for the race. When the race 



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iii. 12-17.] CHRISTIAN LIFE A RACE. 265 

comes each competitor may possibly win : in order to 
win he must put forth his utmost powers ; he must do 
so within a short period of time ; and during that time 
nothing must distract him from the one aim of winning. 
He does this for a benefit embodied in, or symbolised 
by, the prize which rewards and commemorates his 
victory. These are the points in which the races of 
public games afford lessons for the Christian race. In 
the former the fact that the success of any one com- 
petitor deprives the others of the prize they seek, is the 
circumstance that puts intensity into the whole business, 
and makes a real race of it. So also in the spiritual 
antitype there are elements which make the race most 
real, though they are elements of another kind. 

The prize can be nothing else than the life eternal 
(i Tim. vi. 12) which comes, as we have seen, into full 
possession at the resurrection of the dead. He whose 
favour is life confers it. The bestowment of it is con- 
ceived as taking place with gladness and with honour- 
able approbation : " Well done, good and faithful 
servant ; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." The 
prize stands in strict connection with the perfecting of 
the believer : the time of receiving the prize is also the 
time of being presented faultless. Neither prize nor 
perfectness is attained here ; neither is attained unless 
sought here; and the blessedness bestowed is con- 
nected in fact and measure with the faith and diligence 
expended on the race. On all these accounts the prize 
is spoken of as a crown : a crown of glory, for it is very 



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366 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIASS, 



honourable ; a crown of life, incorruptible, that fadeth 
not away, for it shall never wither on the brow, as the 
wreaths of those earthly champions did. Now to run 
his race was for Paul the one thing. He had not yet 
attained ; he could not sit still as if he had : it was his 
living condition that he must run, as one not yet there, 
following on in earnest that he might actually have the 
prize. 

Perhaps some one may r^;ard it as objectionable to 
conceive practical Christianity as a race for a prize. 
This seems, it may be said, to subordinate the present 
to the future, this world to the other world, and, in par- 
ticular, virtue to happiness ; because in this way the 
efforts of goodness here are conceived only as a means 
to enjoyment or satisfaction there. We reply that the 
prize does indeed include joy, the joy of the Lord. 
But it includes, first of all, goodness, consummate in 
the type of it proper to the individual ; and gladness 
is present no otherwise than as it is harmonised with 
goodness, being indeed her proper sister and companion. 
Besides, the elements of the gladness of that state 
come in as the expression of God's love — a love both 
holy and wise. Communion with that love is the true 
security for goodness. It is equally absurd to suppose, 
on the one hand, that when that love fills the heart with 
its unreserved communication there can fail to be glad- 
ness ; and, on the other hand, to suppose that fellowship 
with it can be other than the proper and supreme object 
of a creature's aspiration. 



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iii. 12-17.] CHRISTIAN LIFE A RACE, 267 

There is no unworthiness in devoting life to win this 
prize ; for it is a state of victorious well-being and well- 
doing. The highest goodness of all intervening stages 
is to aspire to that highest goodness of all. Whatever 
we may do or be, meanwhile, is best attained and done 
as it confesses its own shortcoming, and hopes and 
longs to be better and to do more. 

It is true that a complete gift of eternal life is held 
out to us in Christ, and it is faith^s part to accept that 
gift and to rest in it. But yet part of that gift itself 
is an emancipation of the soul ; in virtue of this the 
man becomes actively responsive to the high calling, 
reiterates his fundamental decision all along the detail 
of mortal life, affirms his agreement with the mind and 
life of his Lord, approves himself faithful and devoted, 
and runs so as to obtain. All this is in the idea of 
the gift bestowed, and is unfolded in the experience of 
the gift received. So the prize is to arise to us as the 
close of a course of progressive effort tending that 
way : the reality of the prize corresponds to the reality 
of the progress ; the degree of it, in some way, to the 
rate of that progress. The progress itself is made 
good, as we have said, by perpetually re-affirming the 
initial choice ; doing so in new circumstances, under 
new lights, with a new sense of its meaning, against 
the difficulties implied in new temptations ; yet so as 
ever, in the main, to abide by the beginning of our 
confidence. With all this let it be remembered that 
the time is short ; and it will be understood that the 



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26S THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 



Christian life, so viewed, assumes the character, and 
may well exhibit the intensity and pressure, of a race. 
How far short men fall of the great idea of such 
a life — how they flinch from the perfectness of this 
Christian imperfection — need not be enlarged upon. 
But if any life is wholly untrue to this ideal, the 
Apostle seemingly could not count it Christian. This 
one thing he did, he bent himself to the race. For if 
the ultimate attainment has become very attractive, if 
the sense of present disproportion to it is great, and 
if, in Christ, both the obligation and the hopefulness' 
of reaching the perfect good have become imperatively 
plain, what can a man do but run ? 

Verses 15 and 16 state the use which the Apostle 
desires his disciples to make of this account of his own 
views and feelings, his attitude and his effort, — "As 
many of us as are perfect." 

Since the Apostle has disclaimed (ver. 12) being 
already perfected, it may seem strange that he should 
now say, "As many of us as are perfect" His use 
of language in other places, however, warrants the 
position that he is not speaking of absolute perfection, 
as if the complete result of the Christian calling had 
been attained. Rather he is thinking of ripe practical 
insight into the real spirit of the Christian life — that is 
to say, advanced acquaintance, by experience, with the 
real nature of the Christian life. He uses this word 
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Ui. 12-17.] CHRISTIAN UFE A RACE, 269 

Christ. These last are persons who have been truly 
brought to Christ ; but their conceptions and their 
attainments are rudimentary. They have not attained to 
large insight into the means and ends of the Christian 
life, nor to any ripe acquaintance with the position of 
a Christian man, and the relation he holds to things 
around him. They are therefore unready to face the 
responsibilities and perform the duties of Christian 
manhood. Hence the translators of the Authorised 
Version, in some passages, render the same word so as 
to bring out this sense of it. So i Cor. xiv. 20, " Be 
not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be 
ye children, but in understanding be men" (reXeto^), 
and Heb. v. 14, "Strong meat belongs to those that 
are of /«// age** (reXeiW). 

It cannot be doubted, however, that the word is 
used here with a certain emphatic significance in 
reference to the previous disclaimer, "I am not yet 
perfected," In the Philippians, or in some of them, Paul 
apprehended the existence of a self-satisfied mood of 
mind, such as might perhaps be warrantable if they 
were now perfect, if Christianity had brought forth all 
its results for them, but on no other terms. In con- 
trast to this he had set before them the intense avidity 
with which he himself stretched out towards attainment 
and completeness which he had not reached. And 
now he teaches them that to be thus well aware how 
far we are from the true completeness, to be thus 
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270 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 



State : he only is the perfect Christian who is " thus 
minded " ; who knows and feels how much remains to 
be attained, and gives himself up to the effort and the 
race under that inspiration. It is as if he said : Would 
you approve yourselves to be believers, advanced and 
established ; would you show that you have come to a 
larger measure of just views and just feelings about the 
new world into which faith has brought you; would 
you have the character of men well acquainted with 
your Lord's mind about you, with your own position in 
relation to Him ; in short, would yoU be perfect, fully 
under the influence of the Christianity you profess : 
— then let you and me be '' thus minded " ; let us 
eyince the lowly sense of our distance from the goal, 
along with a living sense of the magnificence and 
urgency of the motives which constrain us to press 
on to it. 

For is there such a thing attainable here as a 
Christian perfectness, a ripe fulness of the Christian 
life, which exhibits that working of it, in its varioqs 
forces, which was designed for this stage of our history ? 
If so, what must it be ? That man surely is the perfect 
man who fully apprehends the position in which the 
gospel places him here, and the ends it sets before him, 
and who most fully admits into his life the views and 
considerations which, in this state of things, the gospel 
proposes. Then, he must be a man penetrated with a 
sense of the disproportion between his attainment and 
Christ's ideal, and at the same time set on fire with the 



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iii. 12-17.] CHRISTIAN UFE A RACE. 271 

desire and hope of overcoming it. Has a man ex- 
perienced many gracious dealings at his Lord's hands, 
has he made attainments by grace, has he come to a 
Christian standing that may be called full age, would 
he be what all this would seem to imply, — then let him 
take heed to be *' thus minded/' Otherwise he is 
already beginning to lose what he seemed to have 
attained. 

It is not so surprising, and it is not so severely to be 
reprehended, if those fail in this point who are but 
children in Christ. When the glorious things of the 
new world are freshly bursting into view, when the 
affections of the child of God are in their early exer- 
cise, when sin for the present seems stricken down, 
it is not so wonderful if men suppose danger and 
difficulty to be over. Like the Corinthians, " now they 
are full, now they are rich, now they have reigned as 
kings." It has often been so ; and at that stage it may 
be more easily pardoned. One may say of it, " They 
will learn their lesson by-and-by ; they will soon find 
out that in the life of a Christian all is not triumph 
and exultation." But it concerns those who have got 
further on, and it is expected of them, that they should 
be "thus minded" as the Apostle Paul was. It is a 
more serious business for them to be of another mind 
on this point, than for those who are only children in 
Christ. It tends to great loss. Are we, says the 
Apostle, come to a point at which we may be thought 
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272 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 

acquainted now with the salvation and the service, men 
in Christ ? Then as we would ever act in a manner 
answerable, at this stage, to the gospel and to our 
position under the gospel, let us be thus minded ; for- 
getting that which is behind, reaching forth to that 
which is before, let us press toward the mark. For at 
each stage of progress much depends on the way in 
which we deal with the position now attained, with the 
views which have opened to us, and with the experiences 
that have been acquired. This may decide whether the 
stage reached shall be but a step towards something 
better and more blessed, or whether a sad blight and 
declension shall set in. There are Christian lives 
to-day sadly marred, entangled and bewildered so that 
one knows not what to make of them, and all by reason 
of failure to be " thus minded." 

A man is awakened to the supreme importance of 
Divine things. At the outset of his course, for years 
perhaps, he is a vigorous and growing Christian. So 
he comes to a large measure of establishment: he 
grows into knowledge of truth and duty. But after 
a time the feeling creeps into his mind that matters 
are now less urgent. He acts rather as a man disposed 
to keep his ground, than as one that would advance. 
Now he seems to himself to lose ground somewhat, 
now to awaken a little and recover it, and on those 
terms he is fairly well contented. All this while it 
would be unjust to say that he does not love and serve 
Christ. But time passes on; life draws nearer to its 



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iii. 12-17.] CHRISTIAN LIFE A RACE. 273 

close. The period at which God's afflictions usually 
multiply has arrived. And he awakens at last to 
see how much of his life has been lost ; how extensively, 
though secretly, decay has marred his attainments and 
his service; and how little, in the result, of that 
honourable success has crowned his life which once 
seemed fafr before him. 

*' Let us be thus minded." Let Christians be ad- 
monished who have for some time been Christians, 
and especially those who are passing through middle 
life, or from middle life into older years. There is 
enchanted ground here, in passing over which too many 
of Christ's servants go to sleep. Leave that which is 
behind. 

Let us be thus minded : but this proves hard. One 
may see it in a general way to be most reasonable, but 
to come up to it in particulars is hard. In all particular 
cases we are tempted to be otherwise minded. And in 
many particulars we find it very difficult to judge the 
manner of spirit that we are of. Were all right in ys, 
absolutely ^ght, rectitude of disposition and of moral 
action would be in a manner instinctive. But now it 
i s not so. With reference to many aspects of our life, 
it is very difficult to bring out distinctly to our own 
m inds how the attitude that becomes us is to be attained 
an d maintained. The difficulty is real ; and therefore 
a promise is annexed. "If in anything ye be otherwise 
minded." That may realise itself in two ways. You 
may be distinctly conscious that your way of dealing 

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274 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



with some interests which enter into your lives is 
unsatisfactory, is below your calling and privilege as a 
Clyistian ; and yet you may find it hard' to see how 
you are to rise into the worthier life. It is like a 
problem which you cannot solve. Or, again, you may 
fear that it is so ; you may fear that if things were 
seen in the true light it would turn out so. But you 
cannot see clearly ; you cannot identify the faulty 
element, far less amend it. Here the promise meets 
you. " If in anything ye be otherwise minded, God 
shall reveal even this unto you." Keep your face in 
the right direction. Be honestly set on the attainment, 
and the way will open up to you as you go. You will 
see the path opening from the point where you stand, 
into life that throughout is akin to the aspiration and 
the achievement of the life of Paul. 

Paul here has regard to a distinction which theorists 
are apt to overlook. We have a sufficient objective 
rule in the word and example of Christ. This may be 
summarised in forms easily repeated, and a man may, 
in that respect, know all that need be said, as to what 
he is to do and to be. But in morals and in spiritual 
life this is only the beginning of another process — 
namely, the subjective individual entrance into the 
meaning of it all and the practical appropriation of it. 
I know the whole of duty on the human side : I am to 
love my neighbour as myself. It is most essential to 
know it, and a grand thing to have consented to make 
a rule of it. But, says one, there remains the difficulty- 



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iii. 12-17.] CHRISTIAN LIFE A RACE. 275 

of doing it ? Is that all ? I reply. There is another 
previous difficulty. I can preach a sermon on loving 
my neighbour as myself. But what does that mean, 
for me, not for any one else, but for myself, on a given 
day in November, at half-past one in the afternoon, 
when I am face to face with my neighbour, who has 
his merits, and also his defects, being, perhaps, pro- 
voking and encroaching, with whom I have some 
business to arrange? What does it mean then and 
there and for me? Here there opens the whole 
question of the subjective insight into the scope and 
genius of the rule ; in which problem heart and mind 
must work together; and commonly there has to be 
training, experience, growth, in order to the expert and 
just discernment. Short of that there may be honest 
effort, blundering most likely, but honest, and lovingly 
accepted through Christ. But there ought to be growth 
on this subjective side. 

Moreover, when progress has been made here it 
imposes responsibility. Have you been carried for- 
ward to such and such degrees of this subjective 
insight? Then this ought to be for you a fruitful 
attainment. Do not neglect its suggestions, do not 
prove careless and untrue to insight attained. Whereto 
we have attained, " by the same rule let us walk," — or, 
as we may render it, " go on in the same line." So 
new insight and new achievement shall wait upon our 
steps. 

Generally, if their Lord had carried the Philippians 



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276 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 

forward to genuine attainments of Christian living, then 
that history of theirs was a track which reached further 
on. It was not a blind alley, stopping at the point 
now reached. It had had a meaning ; there was some 
rationale of it ; it proceeded on principles which could 
be understood, for they had been put in practice ; and 
it demanded to be further pursued. There is a con- 
tinuity in the work of grace. There is a rational 
development of spiritual progress in the case of each 
child of God. What God means, what the direction 
is in which His finger beckons, what the dispositions 
are under the influence of which His call is complied 
with and obeyed, — these are things which have been 
so far learned in that course of lessons and conflicts, 
of defeats and backslidings, restorations and victories, 
which has brought you so far. Let this be carried out ; 
keep on in the same road. Whereto you have attained, 
go on with the same. 

But such an admonition at once raises a question ; 
the question, namely, whether we are at any stage in 
the pathway of Christian attainment, whether there is 
for us as yet any history of a Divine life. Among those 
who claim part in Christ's benefits are some whom the 
grace of God has never taught to deny ungodliness and 
worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly; 
for they have been persistently deaf to the lesson. 
There are some who do not know how Christ turns 
men from darkness to light, and from the power of 
Satan unto God. To them the line of admonition now 



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iii. 12-17.] CHRISTIAN LIFE A RACE. 277 

in hand does not apply : to exhort them to " walk on 
in the same '' would be to perpetuate for them a sad 
mistake. Their course has been dark and downward. 
Therefore to the admonition already given, the Apostle 
adds another. " Brethren, be followers together of me, 
and mark (keep sight of) them who walk so as ye have us 
for an example." Do not mistake the whole nature of 
Christianity ; do not altogether miss the path in which 
God's children go. It is one spirit that dwells in the 
Church ; let not your walk forsake the fellowship of 
that spirit Christians are not bound to any human 
authority : Christ is their Master. They must some- 
times assert their independence, even with respect to 
the maxims and manners of good people. Yet there is 
one spirit in God's true Church, and there is in the 
main one course of life which it inspires. God's chil« 
dren have not been mistaken in the main things. In 
these, to forsake the spirit and the way of Christ's flock 
is to forsake Christ. 



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*' For many walk, of whom 1 told you oflen, and now tell you even 
weeping, that they arc the enemies of the cross of Christ : whose 
end is perdition, whose god b the belly, and whose glory is in their 
shame, who mind earthly things." — Phil. iii. i8, 19 (R.V.). 



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CHAPTER XV. 

ENEMIES OF THE CROSS, 

THE New Testament writers, and not least the 
Apostle Paul, are wont to bring out their con- 
ception of the true Christian life by setting it vividly in 
contrast with the life of the unspiritual man. They 
seem to say: " If you really mean to say No to the one, 
and Yes to the other, be sincere and thorough : com- 
promises are not possible here." So i Tim. vi. lo: 
** The love of money is the root of all evil : which while 
some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and 
pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But 
thou, O man of God/' etc. Or Jude i8 : "mockers, 
walking after their own ungodly lusts. These are 
they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the 
Spirit. But, ye beloved," etc. Here in like manner the 
course of worldliness and self-pleasing life is sketched in 
concrete instances, that its sin and shame may be felt, 
and that by contrast the true calling of a Christian may 
be discerned and may be impressed on the disciples. 

It may be taken as certain that the Apostle is not 
speaking of mere Jews or mere heathen. He is 



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282 THE EPISTLE TQ THE PHILIPPIANS, 

speaking of professing Christians, whose practical life 
belied their profession. In general they are enemies 
of the cross of Christ ; that is the first thing he thinks 
fit to say of them. And here it may be asked whether 
the Apostle has in view, if not Jews, yet the Judaising 
faction about which he had already said strong things 
in the banning of this chapter. Some have thought 
so; and it must be owned that antagonism to the 
cross, ignorance of its virtue, and antipathy to its 
lessons, is exactly what the Apostle was wont to 
impute to those Judaisers; as may be seen in the 
Epistle to the Galatians, and in other Pauline writings. 
But it is preferable, as has been already indicated, 
to take it that the Apostle has turned from the par- 
ticular issue with those Judaisers; and having been 
led to declare emphatically what the life of Chris- 
tianity was in his own experience and practice, he 
now sets this life in Christ not merely against the 
reh'gion of the Judaisers, but in general against all 
religion which, assuming the name of Christ, denied the 
power of godliness ; which meddled with that worthy 
name, but only brought reproach upon it. It is quite 
possible indeed that here he might have in view some 
of the Judaisers also ; for there was a sensual side 
of popular Judaism which might be represented also 
among the Judaising Christians. But it is more likely 
that the Apostle's eye is turning mainly to another 
class of persons. It seems that in the early Churches, 
especially perhaps at the time when the later Epistles 



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iii. i8, 19.] ENEMIES OF THE CROSS, 283 

were written, a recognisable tendency to a loose and 
lawless Christianity was finding representatives. Warn- 
ing against these was needed ; and they embodied a 
form of evil which might serve to show the Philippians, 
as in a mirror, the disaster in which an idle, self-satisfied, 
vainglorious Christianity was like to land its votaries. 

What first strikes the Apostle about them is that 
they are enemies of the cross of Christ. One asks, 
Does he mean enemies of the doctrine of the cross, or 
of its practical influence and efficiency ? The two are 
naturally connected. But here perhaps the latter is prin- 
cipally intended. The context, especially what follows 
in the Apostle's description, seems to point that way. 

When Christ's cross is rightly apprehended, and 
when the place it claims in the mind has been cordially 
yielded, it becomes, as we see in the case of Paul him- 
self, a renovating principle, the fountain of a new view 
and a new course. That immense sacrifice for our 
redemption from sin decides that we are no more to 
live the rest of our time in the flesh to the lusts of men 
(i Peter iv. i). And that patience of Christ in His 
lowly love to God and man under all trial, sheds its 
conclusive light upon the true use and end of life, the 
true rule, the true inspiration, and the true goal. So 
regarded, Christ's cross teaches us the slender worth, 
or the mere worthlessness, of much that we otherwise 
should idolise ; on the other hand, it assures us of re- 
demption into His likeness, as a prospect to be realised 
in the renunciation of the " old man " ; and it embodies an 



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284 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 

incomparable wealth of motive to persuade us to comply) 
for we find ourselves in fellowship with Love unspeakable. 

Under this influence we take up our cross ; which is 
substantially the same as renouncing or denying our- 
selves (Matt. xvi. 24) carried practically out. It is 
self-denial for Christ's sake and after Christ's example, 
accepted as a principle, and carried out in the forms in 
which God calls us to it. This, as we have seen, takes 
place chiefly in our consenting to bear the pain involved 
in separation from sin and from the life of worldliness, 
and in carrying on the war -against sin and against the 
world. It includes rejection of known sin ; it includes 
watchfulness and discipline of life with a view to life's 
supreme end ; and so it includes prudential self-denial, in 
avoiding undue excitement and over-absorbing pleasure, 
because experience and (iod's word tell us it is not safe 
for our hearts to be so " overcharged " (Luke xxi. 34). 
This cross in many of its applications is hard. Yet in 
all its genuine applications it is most desirable ; for in 
frankly embracing it we shall find our interest in sal- 
vation, and in the love which provides it, brought home 
with comfort to our hearts (i Peter iv. 14). 

It seems, then, that there are professing Christians 
who are enemies of the cross of Christ Not that it is 
always an open and proclaimed hostility ; though, in- 
deed, in the case of those whom Paul is thinking of, it 
would appear to have revealed itself pretty frankly. 
But at all events it is a real aversion ; they would have 
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iii. i8, 19.] ENEMIES OF THE CROSS. 285 

And this proves that the very meaning of salvation, the 
very end of Christ as a Saviour, is the object of their 
dislike. But in Christianity the place of the cross is 
central. It will make itself felt somehow. Hence 
those who decline or evade it find it difficult to do so 
quietly find with complacency. Eventually their dislike 
is apt to be forced into bitter manifestation. They 
begin, perhaps, with quiet and skilful avoidance ; but 
eventually they become, recognisably, enemies of the 
cross, and their religious career acquires a darker and 
more ominous character. 

It is, however, an interesting question, What draws 
to Christianity those who prove to be enemies of the 
cross? Nowadays we may explain the adhesion of 
many such persons to Christian profession by referring 
to family and social influences. But we can hardly set 
much down to that score when we are thinking of the 
days of Paul. It cannot be doubted that some persons 
were then strongly drawn by Christianity, who did not 
prove amenable to its most vital influence. And that 
may persuade us that the same phenomenon recurs in 
all ages and in all Churches. For different minds there 
are different influences which may operate in this way. 
Intellectual interest may be stirred by the Christian 
teachings ; the sense of truth and reality may be ap- 
pealed to by much in the Christian view of men and 
things ; there may be a genuine satisfaction in having 
life and feelings touched and tinged with the devout 
emotions which breathe in Christian worship; there 



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j86 the epistle TO THE PHIUPPIASS. 

may be a veneration, real as far as it goes, for some 
features of Christian character, as set forth in Scripture 
and embodied in individual Christians; and, not to 
dwell on mere particulars, the very goodness of Christian 
truth and life, which a man will not pay the cost of 
appropriating to himself, may exert a strong attraction, 
and draw a man to live upon the borders of it Nay, 
such men may go a good long way in willingness to do 
and bear for the cause they have espoused. Men have 
run the risk of loss of life and goods for Christianity, 
who have yet been shipwrecked on some base lust 
which they could not bring themselves to resign. And 
who has not known kindly, serviceable men, hanging 
about the Churches with a real predilection for the 
suburban life of Zion, — men regarding whom it made 
the heart sore to form any adverse judgment, and yet 
men whose life seemed just to omit the cross of Christ? 

In the case of those whom Paul thinks of there was 
no room for doubt as to the real nature of the case ; 
and therefore the Apostle cannot too emphatically bring 
it out He puts first the most startling view of it 
Their end is destruction. Not salvation, but destruc- 
tion is before them, although they name the name of 
Christ. Destruction is the port they are sailing for: that 
is the tendency of their whole career. Their place must 
be at last with those on whom the day of the Lord brings 
sudden destruction, so that they shall not escape. Alas 
for the Christians whose end is destruction ! 

"Their god is their belly." Their life was sensual. 



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iii. i8, 19.] ENEMIES OF THE CROSS. 287 



Most likely, judging from the tone of expression, they 
were men of coarse and unblushing indulgence. If so, 
they were only the more outstanding representatives of 
the sensual life. The things which delight the senses 
were for them the main things, and ruled them. They 
might have intellectual and aesthetic interests, they 
might own family and social connections, they certainly 
did attach importance to some religious views and some 
religious ties ; but the main object of their life was to 
seek rest and content for those desires which may have 
rest apart from any higher exercise or any higher portion. 
Their life was ruled and guided by its lower and sensual 
side. So their belly was their god. Yet they claimed 
a place in the Christian fellowship, in which Christ has 
revealed God, and has opened the way to God, and brings 
us to God. But their thoughts ran, and their plans 
tended, and their life found its explanation, bellywards. 
This was their god. Their trust and their desire were 
placed in the things which the flesh appreciates. These 
they served, and of these they took on the likeness. 
They served not the Lord Jesus Christ, but their own 
belly. One cannot think of it, without grave questions 
as to the direction in which life preponderates. That 
would seem to indicate our god. One does not 
severely judge "good living." And yet what may 
'* good living " denote in the case of many a professing 
Christian ? In what direction do we find the tides of 
secret and unrestrained thought setting ? 
And they glory in their shame. In this Epistle and 



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288 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 



elsewhere, one sees the importance attached by the 
Apostle to that which a man glories in, as marking his 
character. For himself, Paul gloried in the cross of 
Christ: he counted all things but loss for the know- 
ledge of Christ. And these men also were, or 
claimed to be, in Christ's Church, in which we are 
taught to rate things at their true value and to 
measure them by the authentic standard. But they 
gloried in their shame. What they valued them- 
selves upon; what they inwardly, at least, rejoiced 
in, and applauded themselves for; what they would, 
perhaps, have most cheerfully dwelt upon in congenial 
company, were things of which they had every reason 
to be ashamed — ^no doubt, the resources they had 
gathered for the worship of this god of theirs, and the 
success they had had in it For example, such men 
would inwardly congratulate themselves on the measure 
in which they were able to attain the kind of satisfaction 
at which they aimed. They gloried in the degree in 
which they succeeded in bringing about a perfect 
accommodation between themselves and the objects 
which sense alone appreciates, and in producing a 
harmonious and balanced life, set on that key. Really, 
it should have been to them a cause of grief and shame 
to find themselves succeeding here, and failing in attain- 
ing a right relation to Christ and to the things of 
God's kingdom, to righteousness, godliness, faith, love, 
patience, meekness. So they gloried in their shame. 
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iii. 1 8, 19.] ENEMIES OF THE CROSS, 289 

to fear that when the thoughts of all hearts are revealed, 
too many whose lives are subject to no obvious re- 
proach shall be found to have lived an inward life of 
evil thought, of base desire, of coarse and low imagina- 
tion, that can only rank in the same class with these — 
men whose whole inward life gravitates, and gravitates 
unchecked, towards vanity and lust ? 

In a word, their character is summed up in this, that 
they mind earthly things. That is the region in which 
their minds are conversant and to which they have 
regard. The higher world of truths and forces and 
objects which Christ reveals is for them inoperative. 
It does not appeal to them, it does not awe them, it 
does not govern them. Their minds can turn in this 
direction on particular occasions, or with a view to 
particular discussions ; but their bent lies another way. 
The home of their hearts, the treasure which they seek, 
the congenial subjects and interests, are earthly. 

Since this whole description is meant to carry its 
lesson by suggestion of contrast, the clause last referred 
to brings powerfully before us the place to be given to 
the spiritual mind in our conception of a true Christian 
life. In the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans 
we are told that to be carnally minded — or the minding 
of the flesh — is death, but the minding of the spirit is 
life and peace. Care, therefore, is to be taken of our 
thoughts and of our practical judgments, so that they 
may be according to the spirit. Effort in this direction 
is hopeful effort, because we believe that Christ grants 

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290 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



His Spirit to hallow those regions of the inward man 
by His illuminating and purifying presence. It cannot 
be doubted that many lives that were capable of yielding 
much good fruit, have been frittered away and wasted 
through indulged vanity of thought. Others, that are 
methodical and energetic enough, are made sterile for 
Christian ends by the too common absence or the too 
feeble presence of the spiritual mind. It is not alto- 
gether direct meditation on spiritual objects that is here 
to be enforced. That has its important place ; yet cer- 
tainly, frank converse with the whole range of human 
interests is legitimately open to the Christian mind. 
What seems to be essential is that, through all, the 
r^ard to the supreme interests shall continue; and 
that the manner of thinking and of judging, the modes 
of feeling and impression, shall keep true to faith and 
love and Christ. The subject recurs in another form 
at the eighth verse of the following chapter. 

Probably, as was said, the Apostle is speaking of a 
class of men whose faults were gross, so that at least 
an Apostolic eye could not hesitate to read the verdict 
that must be passed upon them. But then we must 
consider that his object in doing this was to address 
a warning to men to whom he imputed no such gross 
failings ; concerning whom, indeed, he was persuaded 
far other things, even things that accompany salvation ; 
but whom he knew to be exposed to influences tending 
in the same direction, and whom he expected to see 
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iii. i8, 19.] ENEMIES OF THE CROSS. 291 

Outstanding failures in Christian profession may startle 
us by their conspicuous deformity; but they fail to 
yield us their full lesson unless they suggest the far 
finer and more subtle forms in which the same evils 
may enter in, to mar or to annul what seemed to be 
Christian characters. 

The protest against the cross is still maintained even 
in the company of Christ's professed disciples. But 
this takes place most commonly, and certainly most 
persuasively, without advancing any plea for conduct 
grossly offensive, or directly inconsistent with Christian 
morals. The "enemies of the cross" retreat into a 
safer region, where they take up positions more capable 
of defence. " Why have a cross ? " they say. " God 
has not made us spiritual beings only : men ought not 
to attempt to live as if they were pure intelligences or 
immaterial spirits. Also, God has made men with a 
design that they should be happy ; they are to embrace 
and use the elements of enjoyment with which He has 
so richly surrounded them. He does not mean us to 
be clouded in perpetual gloom, or to be on our guard 
against the bright and cheering influences of the earth. 
He has made all things beautiful in their time ; and He 
has given to us the capacity to recognise this that we 
may rejoice in it. Instead of scowling on the beauty 
of God's works, and the resources for enjoyment they 
supply, it is more our part to drink in by every sense, 
from nature and from art, the brightness, and gladness, 
and music, and grace. Let us seek, as much as may be 



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292 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



in this rough world, to have our souls attuned to all 
things sweet and fair." 

There is real truth here ; for, no doubt, it lies in the 
destiny of man to bring the world into experience 
according to God's order : if this is not to be done in 
ways of sin and transgression, it is yet to be done in 
right ways; and in doing it, man is designed to be 
gladdened by the beauty of God's handiwork and by 
the wealth of His beneficence. And yet such state- 
ments can be used to shelter a life of enmity to the 
cross, and they are often employed to conceal the more 
momentous half of the truth. As long as the things 
of earth can become materials by means of which we 
may be tempted to fall away from the Holy One, and 
as long as we, being fallen, are corruptly disposed to 
make idols of them, we cannot escape the obligation to 
keep our hearts with diligence. So long, also, as we 
live in a world in which men, with a prevailing consent, 
work up its resources into a system which shuts God 
and Christ out ; so long as men set in motion, by means 
of those resources, a stream of worldliness by which we 
are at all times apt to be whirled away,— so long every 
man whose ear and heart have become open to Christ 
will find that as to the things of earth there is a cross 
to bear. For he must decide whether his practical life 
is to continue to accept the Christian inspiration. He 
must make his choice between two things, whether he 
will principally love and seek a right adjustment with 
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iii. 18, 19.] ENEMIES OF THE CROSS. 293 



Kingdom of God, or whether he will principally love 
and seek a right, or at least a comfortable adjustment 
with things below. He must make this choice not once 
only, but he must hold himself at all times ready to 
make it over again, or to maintain it in reiterated appli- 
cations of it. The grace of Christ who died and rose 
again is his resource to enable him. 

Every legitimate element of human experience, of 
human culture and attainment, is, doubtless open to the 
Christian man. Only, in making his personal selection 
among them, the Christian will keep sight of the goal 
of his high calling, and will weigh the conditions under 
which he himself must aim at it. Still every such 
element is open ; and all legitimate satisfaction accruing 
to men from such sources is to be received with thank- 
fulness. Let all this be recognised. But Christianity, 
by its very nature, requires us to recognise also, and 
m a due proportion^ something else. It requires us to 
recognise the evil of sin, the incomparable worth of 
Christ's salvation. Along with these things, duly 
regarded, let all innocent earthly interests take their 
place. But if we are conscious that as yet we have 
very incompletely established the right proportionate 
regard, is it any wonder if we are obliged to keep 
watch, lest the treacherous idolatry of things seen and 
temporal should carry us away, — obliged to accept the 
cross? We are obliged; but in the school of our 
Master we should learn to do this thing most gladly, 
not by constraint, but of a ready mind. 



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294 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 

The ideal life on earth no doubt would be a life in 
which all was perfectly harmonised. The antagonism 
of the interests would have passed away. Loyalty and 
love to God's kingdom and to His Son would embody 
themselves in all human exercise and attainment as in 
their proper vesture, each promoting each, working 
together as body and soul. There are Christians who 
have gone far towards this attainment. They have 
been so mastered by the mind of Christ, that while, on 
the one hand, they habitually seek the things above, 
on the other hand there is little trace of bondage or of 
timorousness in their attitude towards the bright aspects 
of earthly experience. Some of them were happily 
carried in early days into so clear a decision for the 
better part ; some emerged later, after conflict, into so 
bright a land of Beulah, that they find it easy, with 
little conflict and little fear, to take frank use of forms 
of earthly good which other Christians must treat with 
more reserve. 

This is one of the reasons why we must not judge 
one another about these things ; why we must not lay 
down absolute rules about them ; why even our recom- 
mendations must be provisional and prudential only. 
It is at the same time a reason for the more fidelity in 
each of us towards himself, to see that we do not trifle 
with the great trust of regulating our own life. It is 
possible to give to God and to Christ a recognition 
which is not consciously dishonest, and yet to fail in 
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Hi. i8, 19.] ENEMIES OF THE CROSS. 295 

significance of Christ's redemption for human life. So 
the heart is yielded, the time is surrendered, the 
strength is given to attractive objects, which are not 
indeed essentially immoral, but which are suffered to 
usurp the heart, and to estrange the man from Christ. . 
Such persons prove enemies of the cross of Christ: 
they mind earthly things. 

Since the earthly side of human life, with its sorrow 
and joy, its work and its leisure, is legitimate and 
inevitable, questions arise about adjusting details. 
And in particular, those who retain a relation to 
Christianity while they cherish a worldly spirit, take 
a delight in raising questions as to the forms of life 
which are, or are not, in harmony with Christianity, 
and as to whether various practices and indulgences 
are to be vindicated or condemned. It is a satisfaction 
to persons of this sort to have a set of fixed points laid 
down, with respect to which, if they conform, they may 
take the credit of doing so, and if they rebel, they may 
have the comfort of feeling that the case is argu- 
able : as indeed these are often matters upon which one 
may argue for ever. Now what is clearly prohibited or 
clearly warranted in Scripture, as permanent instruction 
for the Church, must be maintained. But beyond that 
point it is often wisest to refuse to give any specific 
answer to the questions so raised. The true answer 
is. Are you a follower of Christ ? Then it is laid on 
your own conscience, at your own responsibility, to 
answer such questions for yourself. No one can come 



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296 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



in your place. You must decide, and you have a right to 
decide for yourself, what course is, for you, consistent 
with loyalty to Christ and His cross. Only it may be 
added, that the very spirit in which one puts the question 
may be significant. One who minds earthly things will 
put the question in one way ; one whose citizenship is 
in heaven, in another. And the answer which you 
attain will be according to the question you have put 



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OUR CITY AND OUR COMING KING. 



997 



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** For our citizenship is in heaven ; from whence also we wait for a 
Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ : who shall fashion anew the body of 
our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory, 
according to the working whereby He is able even to subject all things 
unto Himself."— Phil. iii. 20, 21 {R.V.). 



398 

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CHAPTER XVI. 

OUR CITY AND OUR COMING KING, 

TO live, amid the things of earth, and in constant 
converse with them, a life in the power of 
Christ's resurrection, and in the fellowship of His suf- 
ferings, was the Apostle's chosen course; in which 
he would have the Philippians to follow him. For a 
moment he had diverged to sketch, for warning, the 
way of the transgressors, who spend their lives' intent 
on the things that pass away. Now he brings the 
argument to a close, by once more proclaiming the 
glory of the high calling in Christ As the Christian 
faith looks backward to the triumph of Christ's resur- 
rection, and to the meekness of His suffering, and 
receives its inspiration from them, so also it looks 
upward, and it looks forward It is even now in 
habitual communion with the world on high ; and it 
reaches on towards the hope of the Lord's return. 

''Our citizenship is in heaven." The word here 
used (comp, i. 27) means the constitution or manner 
of life of a state or city. All men draw much from the 
spirit and laws of the commonwealth to which they 

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300 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 



belong; £uid in antiquity this influence was even 
stronger than we commonly find it to be in our 
day. The individual was conscious of himself as a 
member of his own city or state. Its life enfolded his. 
Its institutions set for him the conditions under which 
life was accepted and was carried on. Its laws deter- 
mined for him his duties and his rights. The ancient 
and customary methods of the society developed a 
common spirit, under the influence of which each 
citizen unfolded his own personal pecxiliarities. When 
he went forth elsewhere he felt himself, and was felt to 
be, a stranger. Now in the heavenly kingdom, which 
had claimed them and had opened to them through 
Christ, the believers had found their own city; and 
finding it, had become, comparatively, strangers in 
every other. 

A way of thinking and acting prevails throughout 
the world, as if earth and its interests were the whole 
sphere of man ; and being pervaded by this spirit, the 
whole world may be said to be a commonwealth with 
a spirit and with maxims of its own. We, who live in 
it, feel it natural to comply with the drift of things in 
this respect, and difficult to stand against it ; so that 
separation and singularity seem unreasonable and hard. 
We claim for our lives the support of a common under- 
standing ; we yearn for the comfort of a system of things 
existing round us, in which we may find countenance. It 
was urged against the Christians of the early ages that 
their religion was unsocial — it broke the ties by which 



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iii. 20, 21.] OUR CITY AND OUR COMING KING, 301 



men held together ; and doubtless many a Christian, in 
hours of trial and depression, felt with pain that much 
in Christian life oflFered a foundation for the reproach. 
On the other hand, those who, like the enemies of the 
cross, refer their lives to the world's standard, rather 
than to Christ's, have at least this comfort, that they 
have a tangible city. The world is their city : there- 
fore also the prince of it is their king. But the Apostle, 
for himself and his fellows, sets against this the true 
city or state — with its more original and ancient 
sanctions; with its more authoritative laws; with its 
far more pervading and mighty spirit, for the Spirit 
of God Himself is the life which binds it all together ; 
with its glorious and gracious King. This common- 
wealth has its seat in heaven ; for there it reveals its 
nature, and thence its power descends. We recognise 
this whenever we pray, " Thy will be done in eartji as 
it is in heaven." This, says the Apostle, is our citizen- 
ship. The archaism of the Authorised Version, " Our 
conversation " (that is, our habitual way of living) " is 
in heaven," expresses much of the meaning ; only the 
" conversation " is referred, by the phrase employed in 
the text, to the sanctions under which it proceeds, the 
august fellowship by which it is sustained, the source 
of influence by which it is continually vitalised. Our 
state, and the life which as members of that state we 
claim and use, is celestial. Its life and strength, its 
glory and victory, are in heaven. But it is ours, though 
we are here on earth. 



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302 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPJANS. 

Therefore, according to the Apostle, the standard of 
our living, and its sanctions, and its way of thinking and 
proceeding, and, in a word, our city, with its interests 
and its objects, being in heaven, the earnest business of 
our life is there. We have to do with earth constantly 
and in ways most various ; but, as Christians, our way 
of having to do with the earth itself is heavenly, and 
is to be conversant with heaven. What we mainly 
love and seek is in heaven ; what we listen most to 
hear is the voice that comes from heaven; what we 
most earnestly speak is the voice we send to heaven ; 
what lies next our heart is the treasiu-e and the hope 
which are secure in heaven ; what we are most intent 
upon is what we lay up in heaven, and how we are 
getting ready for heaven ; there is One in heaven whom 
we love above all others; we are children of the 
kingdom of heaven ; it is our country and our home ; 
and something in us refuses to settle on those things 
here that reject the stamp of heaven. 

Does this go too high ? Does some one say, " Some- 
thing in this direction attracts me and I reach out to it, 
but ah ! how feebly " ? — ^then how strongly does the 
principle of the Apostle's admonition apply. If we own 
that this city rightfully claims us, if we are deeply 
conscious of shortcoming in our response to that claim, 
then how much does it concern us to allow no earthly 
thing that by its own nature drags us down from our 
citizenship in heaven. 

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iiL 20, 21.] OUR CITY AND OUR COMING KING, 303 



SO ; but it is enough to sum up all in this, that One has 
His presence there, who is the Life and the Lord of this 
city of ours, caring for us, calling us to the present 
fellowship with Him that is attainable in a life of faith, 
but especially (for this includes all the rest) whom we 
look for, to come forth from heaven for us. He has 
done wonders already to set up for us the grace of the 
kingdom of heaven, and He has brought us in to it ; He 
is doing much for us daily in grace and in providence, 
upholding His Church on earth from age to age ; but 
this " working " is proceeding to a final victory. He 
is "able to subject all things to Himself." And the 
emphatic proof of it which awaits all believers, is that 
the body itself, reconstituted in the likeness of Christ's 
own, shall at last be in full harmony with a destiny of 
immortal purity and glory. So shall the manifestation 
of His power and grace at last sweep through our whole 
being, within and without That is the final triumph 
of salvation, with which the long history finds all its 
results attained. For this we await the coming of the 
Saviour from heaven. Well therefore may we say 
that the state to which we pertain, and the life which 
we hold as members of that state, is in heaven. 

The expectation of the coming of Christ out of the 
world of supreme truth and purity, where God is known 
and served aright, to fulfil all His promises, — this is the 
Church's and the believer's great hope. It is set before 
us in the New Testament as a motive to every duty, 
as giving weight to every warning, as determining the 



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304 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 

attitude and character of all Christian life. In par- 
ticular, we cannot deal aright with any of the earthly 
things committed to us, unless we deal with them in 
the light of Christ's expected coming. This expectation 
is to enter into the heart of every believer, and no one 
is warranted to overlook or make light of it His 
coming, His appearing, the revelation of Him, the 
revelation of His glory, the coming of His day, and so 
forth, are pressed on us continually. In a true waiting 
for the day of Christ, is gathered up the right regard to 
what He did and bore when He came first, and also a 
right r^ard to Him as He is now the pledge and the 
sustainer of our soul's life : the one and the other are 
to pass onward to the hope of His appearing. 

Some harm has been done, perhaps, by the degree 
in which attention has been concentrated on debatable 
points about the time of the Lord's coming, or the order 
of events in relation to it ; but more by the measure in 
which Christians have allowed the world's unbelieving 
temper to afiect on this point the habit of their own 
minds. It must be most seriously said that our Lord 
Himself expected no man to succeed in escaping the 
corruption of the world and enduring to the end, other- 
wise than in the way of watching for his Lord (see 
Luke xii. 35-40 — but the passages are too numerous 
to be quoted). 

And the Apostle lays an emphasis on the character 
in which we expect Him. The word " Saviour " is em- 
phatic. We look for a Saviour ; not merely One who 



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iii. 20, 21.] OUR CITY AND OUR COMING KING. 305 

saved us once, but One who brings salvation with Him 
when He comes. It is the great good, in its complete- 
ness, that the Church sees coming to her with her 
Lord. Now she has the faith of it, — and with the 
faith an earnest and foretaste, — but then salvation 
comes. Therefore the coming is spoken of as redemp- 
tion drawing nigh, as the time of the redemption 
of the purchased possession. So also in the Epistle 
to the Galatians the end of Christ's sacrifice is said to 
be to " deliver us from this present evil world." 

Doubtless it is unwise to lay down extreme positions 
as to the spirit in which we are to deal with temporal 
things, and especially with their winning and attractive 
aspects. Christian men, at peace with God, should not 
only feel spiritual joy, but may well make a cheerful use 
of passing mercies. Yet certainly the Christian's hope 
is to be saved out of this world, and out of life as he 
knows it here, into one far better — saved out of the 
best and brightest state to which this present state of 
things can bring him. The Christian spirit is giving 
way in that man who, in whatever posture of his 
worldly affairs, does not feel that the present is a state 
entangled with evil, including much darkness and much 
estrangement from the soul's true rest. He ought to 
be minded so as to own the hope of being saved 
out of it, looking and hasting to the coming of the 
Lord. 

If we lived out this conviction with some consistency, 
we should not go far wrong in our dealings with this 

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3o6 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 

present world. But probably there is no feature in 
which the average Christianity of to-day varies more 
from that of the early Christians, than in the £adnt 
impressions^ and the faint influence, experienced by 
most modem Christians in connection with the expecta- 
tion of the Lord's return. 

As far as individual life goes, the position of men in 
both periods is much the same ; it is so, in spite of all 
the changes that have taken place. Then, as now, the 
mirage of life tempted men to dream of felicities here, 
which hindered them from lifting up their heads to a 
prospect of redemption. But now, as then, counter 
influences work; the short and precarious term of 
human life, its disappointments, its cares and sorrows, 
its conflicts and Cdls, conspire to teach even the 
most reluctant Christian that the final and satisfying 
rest is not to be found here. So that the difference 
seems to arise mainly from a secret failure of faith 
on this point, due to the impression made by long 
ages in which Christ has not come. " Where is the 
promise of His coming ? All things continue as they 
were." 

This may, suggest, however, that influences are re- 
cognisable, tending to form, in modem Christians, a 
habit of thought and feeling less favourable to vivid 
expectation of Christ's coming. It does not arise so 
much in connection with individual experience, but is 
rather an impression drawn from history and from the 
common life of men. In the days of Paul, general 



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iii. 20, 21.] OUR CITY AND OUR COMING KING, 307 



history was simply discouraging to spiritual minds. 
It led men to think of all creation groaning together. 
Civilisation certainly had made advances ; civil govern- 
ment had conferred some of its benefits on men ; and, 
lately, the strong hand of Rome, however heavily it 
might press, had averted or abridged some of the evils 
that afflicted nations. Still, on the whole, darkness, cor- 
ruption, and social wrong continued to mark the scene, 
and there was little to suggest that prolonged effort 
might gradually work improvement. Rather it seemed 
that a rapid dispensation of grace, winning its way by 
supernatural energy, might well lead on to the winding 
up of the whole scene, sweeping all away before the 
advent of new heavens and a new earth. But, for us, 
nineteen hundred years have well-nigh passed. The 
Christian Church has been confronted all that time 
with her great task ; and, however imperfect her light 
and her methods have often been, she has set processes 
agoing, and pressed on in lines of action, in which she 
has not been without her reward. Also the public 
action of at least the European races, stimulated and 
guided by Christianity, has been inspired by faith in 
progress and in a reign of justice, and has applied 
itself to improve the conditions of men. How much of 
sin and pain still afflict the world is too sadly evident. 
But the memory of the successive lives of saints, 
thinkers, men of public spirit and devoted public action, 
is strong in Christian minds to-day — it is a long, ani- 
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308 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHHIPPIANS, 



time did the world press itself on the Christian mind as 
the sphere for effort, for helpfiil and hopeful achieve- 
ment. All this tends to fix the eye on what may 
happen before Christ comes; for one asks room and 
time to fight the battle out, to see the long co-operant 
processes converge upon their goal. The conflict is 
thought of as one to be bequeathed, like freedom's 
battle, firom sire to son, through indefinite periods 
beyond which men do not very often look. And, in- 
deed, the amelioration of the world and remedy of its 
ills by works of faith and love is Christlike work. 
The world cannot want it ; the fruit of it will not be 
withheld ; and the hopeful ardour with which it is pur- 
sued is Christ's gift to His people. For Christ Him- 
self healed and fed the multitudes. Yet all this shall 
not replace the coming of Christ, and the redemption 
that draws nigh with Him. The longing eyes that 
gaze into the prospects of public-spirited beneficence 
and Christian philanthropy, do well; but they must 
also look higher up and further on. 

One thing must be said. It is vain for us to suppose 
we can adjust beforehand, to our own satisfaction, the 
elements which enter into the future, so as to make a 
well-fitted scheme of it. That was not designed. And 
in this case two ways of looking at the future are apt 
to strive together. The man who is occupied with 
processes that, as he conceives, might eventuate in 
a reign of goodness reached by gradual amelioration, 
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iii. 20, 21.] OUR CITY AND OUR COMING KING. 309 

askance on the promise of Christ's coming, because he 
dislikes catastrophe and cataclysm. First the blade, 
then the ear, then the full corn in the ear, is his motto. 
And the man who is full of the thought of the Lord's 
return, and deeply persuaded that nothing less will 
eradicate the world's disease, may look with impatience 
on measures that seem to aim at slow and far results. 
But neither the one mode of view nor the other is to 
be sacrificed. Work is to be done in the world on the 
lines that promise best to bless the world. Yet also 
this faith must never be let down — The Lord is coming ; 
the Lord shall come. 

How decisive the change is which Christ completes at 
His coming — how distinctive, therefore, and unworldly, 
that citizenship which takes its type from heaven 
where He is, and from the hope of His appearing — is 
last of all set forth. Paul might have dwelt on many 
great blessings the full meaning of which will be un- 
folded when Christ comes; for He is to conform all 
things to Himself. But Paul prefers to signalise what 
shall befall our bodies ; for that makes us feel that not 
one element in our state shall fail to be subjected to the 
victorious energy of Christ. Our bodies are, in our 
present state, conspicuously refractory to the influences 
of the higher kingdom. Regeneration makes no im- 
provement on them. In our body we carry about with 
us what seems to mock the idea of an ethereal and 
ideal life. And when we die, the corruption of the 



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3IO THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 



grave speaks of anything but hope. Here, then, in 
this very point the salvation of Christ shall complete 
its triumph, saving us all over and all through. He 
" shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that 
it may be conformed to the body of His glory." 

For the Apostle Paul the question how the body is 
to be reckoned with in any lofty view of human life had 
a peculiar interest One sees how his mind dwelt 
upon it. He does not indeed impute to the body any 
original or essential antagonism to the soul's better life. 
But it shares in the debasement and disorganisation 
implied in sin; it has become the ready avenue for 
many temptations. Through it the man has become 
participant of a vivid and unintermittent earthliness, 
contrasting all too sadly with the feebleness of spiri- 
tual impressions and affections, so that the balance 
of our being is deranged. Nor does grace directly 
affect men's bodily conditions. Here, then, is an 
element in a renewed life that has a peculiar refractori- 
ness and irresponsiveness. So much is this so that sin 
in our complex nature easily turns this way, easily 
finds resources in this quarter. Hence sin in us often 
takes its denomination from this side of things. It is 
the flesh, and the minding of the flesh, that is to be 
crucified. On the other hand, just because life for 
us is life in the body, therefore the body with its 
members must be brought into the service of Christ, 
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I 
Hi. 20, 21.] OUR CITY AND OUR COMING KING. 311 



living sacrifice." " Your bodies are temples of the Holy 
Ghost." A disembodied Christianity is to the Apostle 
no Christianity. There may be difficulties, indeed, in 
carrying this consecration through, elements of resistance 
and insubordination to be overcome. If so, they must 
be fought down. " I keep under my body and bring 
it into subjection, lest I prove a castaway.'' To be 
thorough in this proved hard even for Paul. "Who 
shall deliver me from the body of this death ? " — a text 
in which one sees how the " body " offered itself as the 
ready symbol of the whole inward burden and difficulty. 
So the body is dead because of sin : dying, fit to die, 
appointed to die, and not now renewed to life. " But 
if the Spirit of Him that raised up Christ from the dead 
dwell in you. He that raised up Christ from the dead 
shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit 
that dwelleth in you." Then, limits now imposed on 
right thinking, right feeling, right acting, shall be found 
to have passed away. Till then we groan, waiting for 
the adoption, the redemption of the body; but then 
shall be the manifestation of the sons of God. To 
Paul this came home as one of the most definite, prac- 
tical, and decisive forms in which the triumph of 
Christ's salvation should be declared. 

The body, then, by which we hold converse with the 
world, and by which we give expression to our mental 
life, has shared in the evil that comes by sin. We find 
it to be the body of our humiliation. It is not only 
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312 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 

much that is humbling and distressing^ but it has 
become an ill-adapted organ for an aspiring soul. The 
bodily state weighs down the soul, when its aspirations 
after good have been rekindled. It i? not wholly un- 
connected with our physical state that it is so hard to 
carry the recognition of God and the life of faith into 
the comings and goings of the outward life ; so hard to 
wed the persuasions of our faith to the impressions 
of our sense. But we look forward to our Lord's 
coming with the expectation that the body of our 
humiliation shall be transfigured into the likeness of 
the body of His glory. In this we discern with what 
a pervading energy He is to subdue all things to 
Himself. Love in righteousness is to triumph through 
all spheres. 

We have more than once acknowledged how natural 
it is to dream of constructing a Christian life on earth 
with all its elements, natural and spiritual, perfectly har- 
monised, each having its place in relation to each so as 
to make the music of a perfect whole. And in the 
strength of such a dream, some look down on all 
Christian practice as blind and narrow, which seems to 
them to mar life by setting one element of it against 
another. It must be owned that narrow types of 
Christianity have often needlessly offended so. Never- 
theless we have here a new proof that the dream of 
those who would achieve a perfect harmony, in the 
present state and under present conditions, is vain. 
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iil 20, 2I.J OUR CITY AND OUR COMING KING. 313 



in the body of our humiliation. The nobler part is to 
own this, and to confess that amid many undeserved 
good gifts, yet, in relation to the great hope set before 
us, we groan, waiting for the redemption ; when Christ 
who now fits us to run the race and bear the cross 
shall come and save us out of all this, changing the 
body of our humiliation into the likeness of the body 
of His glory. 

Against the ways of Jewish self-righteousness, and 
against the impulses of fleshly minds, the Apostle had 
set the true Christianity — the methods in which it 
grows, the influences on which it relies, the truths and 
hopes by which it is mainly sustained, the high citizen- 
ship which it claims and to the type of which it 
resolutely conforms. All this was possible in Christ, 
all this was actual in Christ, all this was theirs in Christ. 
Yet this is what is brought into debate, by unbelief and 
sin ; this against unbelief and sin has to be maintained. 
Some influences come to shake us as to the truth of it — 
" It is not so real after all." Some influences come to 
shake us as to the good of it — " It is not after all so very, 
so supremely, so -satisfyingly good." Some influences 
come to shake us as to our own part in it — " It can 
hardly control and sustain my life, for after all perhaps 
— alas, most likely — it is not for me, it cannot be for me." 
Against all this we are to make our stand, in and with 
our Lord and Master. He is our confidence and our 
strength. How the Apostle longed to see this victory 
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314 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



the treasure and the fruit of his life and labour ! Be 
decided about all this, be clear about it, cast every other 
way of it from you. "Therefore, my dearly beloved 
brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, 
my dearly beloved." 



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" I exhort Euodia, and I exhort Syntyche^ to be of the same mind 
in the Lord. Yea, I beseech thee also, true yokefellow, help these 
women, for they laboured with me in the goq)el, with Clement also^ 
and the rest of my fellow-workers whose names are in the book of 
life. 

"Rejoice in the Lord alway: again I will say, R^oice. Let your 
forbearance be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. In 
nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication 
with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And 
the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your 
hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus." — ^Pmi- iv. 2-7 (R.V.). 



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CHAPTER XVII. 

PEACE AND JOY. 

DR. LIGHTFOOT has observed that the passages 
in the Acts of the Apostles which record the 
Macedonian experiences of Paul, have a good deal to 
say about women (Acts xvi., xvii.). They convey the 
impression that in Macedonia women had a position 
and exercised an influence, at least in religious matters, 
that was not usual in the Greek world. And he has 
appealed to the remains of ancient Macedonian inscrip- 
tions to support the general idea that exceptional 
respect was accorded to women in that country. Here, 
at any rate, we have two women of note in the Church 
at Philippi. They might, very likely, possess social 
standing and influence. They had been qualified to 
render, and in point of fact did render, important help 
in setting forward the cause of Christ in that city. 'We 
cannot doubt therefore that they were warm-hearted 
Christian women, who had deeply felt the power of the 
gospel, so that, like many of their sisters in later days, 
they gladly embarked in the service of it In those 
days such service on the part of women implied no 



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3i8 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIASS. 

small effort of faith ; and doubtless it had cost them 
something in the way of cross-bearing. But now, 
disagreements and estrangement had fallen out between 
them. Most likely the keen practical energies, which 
made them serviceable Christians, had brought about 
collision on some points in which their views differed 
And then they had not managed the difference well. 
Self came in, and coloured and deepened it. Now, one 
may think, they were in danger of being always ready 
to differ, and to differ with mutual distrust and dislike. 
People cannot always think alike, not even Christians 
who share the same service. But there is a Christian way 
of behaving about these inevitable divergences. And, 
in particular, in such cases we might be expected to 
show a superiority, in Christ our Lord, to minor differ- 
ences, not allowing them to trouble the great agreement 
and the dear affection in which Christ has bound us. 
Whatever is to be said about a difference, as to its 
merits, the main thing that has to be said about it often 
is, " You should not have let it come between you. You 
should, both of you, have been big enough and strong 
enough in Christ, to know how to drop it and forget it. 
. In making so much of it, in allowing it to make so much 
of itself, you have been children, and naughty children." 
What this difference was we do not know ; and it is 
of no consequence. Paul does not address himself to 
it He holds both parties to be in the wrong now, and, 
for his purpose, equally in the wrong ; and he addresses 
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iv. 2-7.] PEACE AND JOY, 319 



Christ and be done with it : no longer to allow this thing 
to mar their own edification and hinder the cause of 
Christ. Yet, while he is sure that this is the right way, 
he does not conceal from himself how difficult human 
nature finds it to come happily out of such a complica- < 
tion. So he appeals to some old comrade at Philippi, 
whom he calls his "genuine yokefellow," to lend a 
hand. A Christian bystander, a friend of both parties, 
might help them out of the difficulty. In this connec- 
tion the Apostle's mind goes back to happy days of 
cordial effort at Philippi, in which these women, and the 
" yokefeUow," and Clement, and others had all been at 
work, shoulder to shoulder, all rejoicing in the common 
salvation and the joint service. 

In difficulties between Christians, as between other 
people, wise and loving friendship may perform the most 
important services. Selfishness shrinks from rendering 
these ; and on the other hand, meddlesomeness, which is 
a form of egotism combined with coarseness, rushes in 
only to do harm. Wisdom is needed, mainly the wisdom 
which consists in loving thoughtfulness. The love 
which seeketh not her own, and is not easily provoked, 
is much called for in this ministry of reconciliation. 

These good women had little idea, probably, that 
their names should come down the ages in connection 
with this disagreement of theirs ; and they might have 
deprecated it if they had thought of it. But let them 
be remembered with all honour — two saints of God, 
who loved and laboured for Christ, who bore the cross, 



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320 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. , 

and each of whom was so important to the Church, that 
it was a matter of public interest to have this difficulty 
removed out of the way of both. As to it, we of later 
times have not succeeded in keeping Christian activity 
so free of personal misunderstandings as to be entitled 
on this account to assume any attitude of superiority. 
Let us think only with tenderness and affection of those 
venerable and beloved, those long-remembered mothers 
in Christ, Euodia and Syntyche. 

The commentators have tried to divine something 
further about this " true yokefellow " ; but with no 
success. As to Clement, some have been willing to 
identify him with the Clement known to have laboured 
in the first age at Rome, and who is reported to have 
been the writer of a well-known Epistle from the 
Church at Rome to that at Corinth. He, again, has 
been by some identified with another Clement, also a 
Roman, a near relation of the Emperor Domitian, whom 
we have reason to believe to have been a Christian. 
Both identifications are probably mistaken ; and the 
Clement now before us was no doubt resident at 
Philippi, and belonged to a somewhat earlier generation 
than his Roman namesake. The Roman world was 
full of Clements, and there is nothing surprising in 
meeting several Christians who bore the name. 

With the " yokefellow" and with Qement, the Apostle 
recalls other "labourers" who belonged to the fellowship 
of those gospel days at Philippi. We are not to think 
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iv. 2-7.] PEACE AND JOY, 321 



they were zealous Christians who helped as they could 
to gather and to confirm the Church. Paul will not 
give their names ; but it must not be thought that the 
names have ceased to be dear and honourable to him. 
" They shall not be in my letter," he says, " but they 
are written in even a better place, in the book of life. 
They are precious, not to me only, but to my Master." 
Here, again, if any one had asked Paul how he ventured 
to speak with so much assurance of tlie condition of 
persons whose course was not yet ended, he would 
no doubt have replied, as in ch. i. 7 : " It is meet for 
me to think thus of them, because I have them in my 
heart : because both in my bonds, and in the defence 
and confirmation of the gospel, they all are partakers 
with me of grace." 

These personsyl references indicate that the main 
burden of the Apostle's thought in the Epistle has been 
disposed of, and that it is drawing to a dose. Yet 
he finds it natural to add some closing admonitions. 
They are brief and pithy ; they do not seem to labour 
with the weight of thought and feeling which pours 
through the preceding chapter. Yet they are not quite 
fragmentary. A definite conception of the case to be 
provided for underlies them, and also a definite con- 
ception of the way in which its necessities are to be met. 

He had been pouring out his soul on the subject of 
the true Christian life — the deep sources from which it 
springs, the great channels in which it runs, the magni- 
ficent conditions of Christ's kingdom under which it 

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322 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



becomes possible and is accomplished. But yet, 
another order of things crosses all this. It is the in- 
cessant detail of human life on earth, with its pettiness 
and superficiality, and yet with its inevitable hold upon 
us all. How much we are at the mercy of it ! How 
hard to keep quite true to the grand music of the 
gospel we believe, amid the multifarious patter of the 
incidents of life, playing on the surface only, but on the 
sensitive surface of our being. The case of Euodia 
and Syntyche was itself but an illustration, of the com- 
monest kind, of the liability of believing lives to be 
swayed and marred in this way. For all these little 
things claim attention ; they assume a magnitude that 
does not belong to them, and they take a place to 
which they have no right. Can anything be said to 
help us to some prevailing mood, in which we shall be 
likely to take the right attitude towards these elements 
of life, and, at the same time, to keep due touch with 
the springs of our spiritual welfare ? 

The Apostle reverts to the significant "good-bye" 
which was heard at the beginning of the third chapter. 
" Rejoice," " Be of good cheer," was the usual fare- 
well salute. He had begun to use it, in the third 
chapter, with an emphasis on the native signification of 
the word. Now he resumes it more emphatically still, 
for here he finds the keynote which he wants : " Rejoice 
in the Lord alway ; again I will say it, Rejoice." 

If joy be possible, it would seem to need no great 
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iv. 2-7.] PEACE AND JOY. 323 



matter of fact, Christians fail greatly here. In the 
Old Testament there are abundant exhortations to 
Israel to rejoice in the Lord : the Lord being Jehovah, 
without further distinction or limitation ; and the ground 
of rejoicing being His revealed character, especially 
His mercy and His truth, and the fact that He is 
Israel's God. Here the Lord is our Lord Jesus, in 
whom the Father is both known and found. Now, to 
rejoice in Him is, and should be recognised as being, 
for believers, the most direct inference from their faith. 
For if this Lord be what the believer holds Him to be, 
then there is more in Christ to make him glad, than 
there can be in anything whatever to make him sorry. 
This applies even to remembered sin ; for where sin 
abounded, grace doth much more abound. If indeed 
the joy be really in the Lord, it will be found to agree 
well with humility and penitence, as well as with dili- 
gence and patience ; for all these things, and whatever 
should accompany them, come naturally from faith in 
Christ. But not the less, joy should have its place and 
its exercise. 

If one will think of it, it will be plain that rejoicing 
in the Lord just denotes this, viz., that the influence of 
the objects of faith has free play through the soul. It 
is well that faith should bring our intellective powers 
under its influence — that we should be brought to a 
vivid sense of the reality of Christ, and that our minds 
should work in reference to Him as they do in reference 
to things which are felt to be real, and which claim 



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324 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 

to be understood. That is well, even if as yet some 
malign force seems to impede cordial appreciation and 
personal fellowship. It is well, again, if Christ is felt 
drawing out personal trust, and with that, genuine 
affection, so that the heart beats with desire and ad- 
miration, even though for the present that can only be 
under the burden of a perplexed and sorrowful mind. 
But when the conviction makes way through all the 
soul, first that Christ is most real, and second that 
Christ is most good and desirable, and thirdly that 
Christ is for me, and when the soul surrenders 
thoroughly to it all, then gladness is the token that 
faith is playing freely through the human soul, through- 
out all its provinces. It is the flag hoisted to signify 
that Christ is believed and loved indeed. On the other 
hand, wrong is done to the Lord, and an evil report 
is brought up upon Him, when those who profess to 
believe in Him, fail to rejoice in Him. 

You well may rejoice in the Lord ; you ought surely 
to do it. You ought to give yourselves time to think 
and feel so as to rejoice ; you should be ashamed to fail 
to rejoice. You do not apprehend aright your position 
as a believer, you do not take the attitude that befits 
you, if the Lord believed in, though perhaps He makes 
you diligent, and patient, and penitent, and thankful, 
does not also make you heartily glad. Let the elements 
of this gladness come warm home to your heart, and 
do their work. Then you will realise, as, short of this, 
you never can, how the believer rises above the things 



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iv.2.7.] PEACE AND JOY. 325 



that threaten to entangle him, and can do all things 
through Christ that strengtheneth him. 

And, in particular, how influential this is to preserve 
men from being unduly moved and swayed by the 
passing things of time I These sway us by joy and 
grief, by hope and fear; and what an inordinate 
measure of those affections they do beget in us ! But 
let the great joy of the Lord have its place, and then 
those lesser claimants will have to content themselves 
with smaller room. A great grief shuts out lesser 
griefs. When a woman has lost her son, will she 
grieve greatly for the loss of her purse ? So a great 
joy keeps down the excess of lesser joys. A man that 
has just won the heart and hand of the woman he loves, 
will not be greatly concerned about winning or losing 
at some game. He will be about equally glad either 
way. So he whose heart thrills with the joy of Christ 
will feel the pleasure and the pain of estrthly things ; 
but they will not master him, nor run ^way with him. 

According to the Apostle, a believer in the way of 
his duty, if he cherishes this joy, may ordinarily have 
a great deal of it. And, as it were, he urges us : " Now 
do not be moved away from it. Do not be so foolish. 
Various things will come, all sorts of things, claiming to 
preoccupy your mind, so that for the present this joy 
shall fall into the background. They claim it — and far 
too often they are allowed to succeed. Do not let them. 
' Rejoice in the Lord alway ; again I will say, Rejoice.' " 

Always: for many believers rejoice in the Lord 



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326 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



sometimes ; for example, in hours of undisturbed medi- 
tation. But when they go out into the stir of life, to 
meet experiences which either greatly gratify or greatly 
grieve them, then it seems fit that the new passion 
should have its turn, and the heart insists on this 
indulgence. So also when some great hope absorbs 
the mind, or some great anxiety weighs upon it, the 
soul seems fascinated with the coming good or ill, and 
hangs upon the prospect as if nothing else for the 
present could be minded. Now the Apostle does not 
say that insensibility is the duty of Christians in these 
circumstances. Indeed it is because these experiences 
do interest and impress, that they become an effective 
instrument of Divine training. But Christ is fit to be 
rejoiced in, right through all vicissitudes ; and common 
experiences, duly dealt with, ought to throw into relief 
the reasons why He must still be cause of gladness, 
whatever may^ be felt about other things. This main- 
tained joy of thje Lord — a rejoicing faith, a rejoicing 
love, a rejoicing obedience — this is the temper in virtue 
of which all else of life will fall into its due place, and 
will assume its just proportion. " Though the fig tree 
shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines ; 
the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall 
yield no meat ; the flock shall be cut off" from the fold, 
and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will 
rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salva- 
tion " (Hab. iii. 17, 18). 

So then, " Let your moderation (or forbearance) be 



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iv. 2-7.] PEACE AND JOY. 327 



known to all men." The word here used expresses a 
state of mind opposed to the eagerness that overrates 
the worth of our personal objects, and to the arrogance 
that insists on our own will about them. Some would 
render it " considerateness." It is a temper which 
dictates a gentle and forbearing way of dealing with 
men. This is the appropriate evidence that the im- 
petuosity of the heart about earthly things has been 
assuaged by the unseen presence and the influence of 
Christ Christ seen, felt, and rejoiced in, is the secret 
of this moderation. A great vision of faith, and that 
not a vision which is dreaded, but a vision which is 
loved, brings the movement of the soul into a happy 
order. Now, not only so : not only does the love of 
Christ, unseen and absent, work ifi this way ; but Christ 
is coming and is near. The hopes connected with Him 
are soon t6 be realised, the gladness of fellowship with 
Him is soon to be complete. The Lord is at hand. 
** Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of 
the Lord. Stablish your hearts. The coming of the 
Lord draweth nigh " (James v. 7). 

For believers, as we have already seen, the coming 
of the Lord is, according to the New Testament, the 
great hope. Then the joy in the Lord is to be complete 
and crowned. Those who apprehend that glad day as 
near are not supposed to be capable of yielding up their 
hearts to the uncontrolled sway of mere earthly interests. 

Here, however, a question arises. Paul speaks of 
the day as near, and calls on his disciples to live under 



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328 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHJUPPJANS, 

the influence of that belief. He does not merely say 
that it may be near, but that it is. Yet we now know 
that the day was then more than eighteen hundred 
years away. In the light of this fact, one asks what 
we are to make of the statement before us, and what 
we are to make of the view of Christian life which the 
statement implies. 

Our Lord expressly withheld from His disciples all 
definite statement of times and seasons in this con- 
nection. Yet the Early Church with one consent 
expected the Lord to come within comparatively few 
years (what are commonly called few), and language 
shaped itself in accordance with that impression. We 
have here, however, more than a mere mode of phrasing. 
The nearness of Christ is emphasised as the ground on 
which Christian experience ought to build. Was not 
this a mistake ? 

But one may ask in reply, Was it after all untrue that 
Christ's coming was near then, or that it is near now ? 
Even if anticipations in our own day which bring it 
within a generation are to fail again, as they have always 
done before, shall we think that the Lord is not near ? 
There is a nearness which pertains to all future 
events which are at once very great and important, and 
also are absolutely certain. Being so great, involving 
interests so great, and being contemplated in their 
inevitable certainty, such events can loom large upon 
the eye, and they can make their influence felt in the 
present, whatever tale of days may interpose before 



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iv. 2.7.] PEACE AND JOY. 329 



they actually arrive. If, for instance, one were told of 
a friend, whom he supposed he might meet at any time, 
" You shall certainly see him six months hence," the 
reply might be, " Six months 1 That is a long time to 
wait." But if he were told with infallible authority, 
" Six months hence you shall die," woul^ he then say, 
" It is a long tihie " ? Would he not feel that it was 
near ? Would not an event so momentous as death, so 
inclusive of all interests and all issues, prove able to 
stretch, as it were, across six months, and to come into 
each day, as part of that day's concern ? So of the 
coming of Christ. It is the great event for the indi- 
vidual, the Church, the world. All issues run up to it ; 
all developments are broken off" by it ; all earthly 
histories await its decision. To it all earthly move- 
ment tends ; from it all that lies beyond is dated. It 
is the great gate of the world to come. Let us think 
what it means : and suppose we could be assured that 
it is still ten thousand years away, shall we say, " How 
far off it is " ? Not if we believe in its certainty, and 
realise what it means. If we do so, our hearts will 
stir and thrill as we hearken how the surges of the 
eternal world are beating on the thin barrier of ten 
thousand years. Come when it may, it comes hasting 
to us, pressing before it all that lies between, big with 
the decisions and the fulfilments of Eternity. If we 
truly believe and rightly estimate it, we shall feel that it 
is near — even at the door. We shall be aware when- 
ever we look forward that beyond all possible events of 



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330 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 



earthly history it rises high, catching and holding our 
gaze, and hurrying toward our individual selves not one 
whit the less -because it aims at others too. 

We are apt to ask why the words of warning and 
encouragement in reference to the future are not con- 
nected with the prospect of death, rather than with that 
of the Lord's return ; for death certainly is the topic 
generally selected for such purposes by moralists and 
preachers of more recent days. The answer may 
partly be, that the possibility and likelihood of the Lord's 
return, even in the lifetime of themselves and their con- 
temporaries, might render it more natural for the Apostles 
to fix all but exclusively on that Yet this will not 
suffice. For nobody could overlook the fact that some 
believers were dying, and that death before the Lord's 
return might well be the portion of more. Besides, in 
particular circumstances, death does come into view in a 
perfectly easy and natural way, as at ch. L 23 ; and the 
bearing of it on what lies nearer is considered. The 
true answer is that death is not the great expectation 
of the believer — not death, but victory over death, con- 
summated and conclusively manifested when the Lord 
comes. This expectation certainly is associated with 
the solemn prospect of judgment; but not so as to 
quench the gladness of the hope for those who love the 
Lord and have trusted in Him. This is our expecta- 
tion — "the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our hope" 
(i Tim. L i). Death is a great event; but it is 
negative, privative, and, after all, provisional. True, 



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iv. 2-7.] PEACE AND JOY, 331 



it seals us up for the coming of the Lord, and so, in 
many respects, it may be, for many purposes, practically 
identified with that coming. The sermons which are 
preached upon it, commonly from Old Testament texts, 
are, no doubt, well grounded and edifying. But the 
New Testament, speaking to believers, all but con- 
stantly passes on* to the day of the Lord as the true 
focus of the future ; and it will be well for us to conform 
our thinking and our feeling to this model. No one 
can estimate, who has not made it matter of personal 
study, how large and how influential a place this topic 
takes in New Testament teaching. 

Meanwhile, no doubt, the vicissitudes and the possi- 
bilities of earthly life press upon us.' Now the Ap)ostle 
provides a special additional relief for that. We are 
not merely prepossessed with a joy that should fortify 
us against undue disturbance from this source, but we 
have access in all things to the mind and heart of our 
Father. We can bring our thoughts and wishes about 
them all into contact with the deep, true thoughts and 
with the fatherly love of God. The incidents and the 
{>ossibilities of life exercise us : they tend to become 
anxieties, keen and wearing; and anxieties are the 
materials of disturbance and temptation. '* Be anxious 
about nothing ; but in all things by prayer and suppli- 
cation, with thankfulness, let your requests be made 
known unto God.*' 

This is the practical way of getting continually to 
those springs of joy which comfort and establish the 



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332 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



heart. The way to be anxious about nothing is to be 
prayerful about everything. 

It is promised that when we pray in faith God hears 
us, and that he that asketh receiveth. However, this 
does not mean that whatever appears to us desirable 
shall certainly be brought to pass in answer to prayer. 
That would be to sacrifice our own welfare, and also 
the order of God's world, to our shortsightedness and 
vanity. There is great reason to believe indeed that 
those who live by prayer find many a desire granted, 
and many a burden lifted, in token of God's loving 
interest in them, and the heed He gives to their 
prayers. But we are not to start from a general 
principle that we are to get all our own way by praying. 
Two things we may fix upon. First, the absolute 
promises of the gospel, the blessings which pertain to 
eternal life, are given to us through prayer. "This 
poor man cried, and the Lord heard him." Secondly, 
concerning all other things, we have access to God in 
prayer, as to One who grudges us no good thing ; we 
are to express our anxieties and our desires, and to 
receive the assurance that they are lovingly considered 
by One who knows our frame and understands our 
troubles. Often the answer comes, even in small 
things. But, generally, we may in this point have an 
absolute assurance that we shall either have what we 
ask, or else something which God sees to be better 
for us than that. 

It is this second article of the doctrine of prayer that 



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iv. 2-7,] PEACE AND JOY, 333 



is chiefly in view here. The prayer of faith must be a 
prayer of thanksgiving, because faith knows how much 
it owes to God. " Thou hast not dealt with us after 
our sins." At the same time it has supplications and 
requests, over and above the great petition for life 
eternal. For our daily human experience is God's pro- 
vidence to us. It exercises our thoughts and feelings, 
and sets agoing contemplations and desires, which 
may be shortsighted and erring, but, so far, they are 
the best that we can make of it ; or, if not the best, 
they have the more need to be corrected. Here, then, 
we are encouraged to pour out our hearts to God. We 
are to do it with submission : that is one of the best 
parts of the privilege, for our Father knows best. At 
the same time, we are to do it with supplication; we 
not only may, but we should. Our desires should all 
be made known in this quarter; nowhere will they 
have a kindlier hearing. So, last of all, we come, not 
only touching eternal life, but touching each day's 
concerns, into a blessed agreement with God our Father 
through Christ. It is agreed, that He takes loving 
charge of our anxieties and desires, as One who would 
withhold no good from us ; and it is agreed, that we 
put unreserved confidence in Him, — in which confidence 
we say, "Abba, Father ; not our will, but Thine be done." 
The confidence we have that all this is most real and 
solid, and not merely a deceptive piece of religious 
acting, comes to us in the channel of the faith and 
experience which have been fulfilled in God's children 



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334 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



from the first ; but it is most emphatically confirmed 
and made sure to us by Christ. He has taught us to 
pray. His is the religion in which men pray. Under 
His influence we come away from ceremonial utter- 
ances, and also from the desj)airing experiments of 
supplication with which, in other religions, men assail 
the heavens; and, hand in hand with that loving 
Mediator, we pray. Prayer, when it is real, when it 
is " in the Holy Spirit," is a wonderfully simple and a 
wonderfully great thing. 

So it comes to pass that the peace of God which 
passeth all understanding is found. For this great and 
deep agreement with God in Christ, about all things 
great and small, is the very entrance into the peace of 
God Himself, and is the participation of it. In this, as 
in other aspects, things are daily realised in the history 
of believers, that pass all understanding, because God 
in Christ is in the matter. The infinite and eternal 
life is wedding itself to us and our affairs. It may be 
understood, finally, that this peace, arising to Christians 
at the throne of grace, guards their minds and hearts. 
It guards, them against being overcharged, outworn, 
surprised ; it guards them against being carried captive 
by earthly care. Yet this peace does not disable them 
for earthly business. Rather, because their main in- 
terests are so secure, it gives them calmness and clear- 
ness ; it supplies them a moral vantage ground from 
which to dispose of all earthly affairs. 



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THE THINGS TO FIX UPON. 



335 



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" Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things 
are honourable [venerable], whatsoever things are just, whatsoever 
things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of 
good report ; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think 
on these things. The things which ye both learned and received and 
heard and saw in me, these things do : and the God of peace shall 
be with you."— Phil. iv. 8, 9 (R.V.). 



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CHAPTER XVIII. 
THE THINGS TO FIX UPON. 

THE topics last considered bring us naturally to 
the remarkable exhortation of vv. 8 and 9. This 
proceeds on the same view of the moral and spiritual 
situation, and completes what the Apostle has to say in 
reference to it. 

If men are to live as citizens of a heavenly common- 
wealth, on great principles and to great ends, it is, as 
we have seen, a very practical question. What to do 
about the inevitable play and onset of this changing 
earthly life, which assails us with motives, and detains 
us upon interests, and inspires us with influences, of its 
own. These cannot be abjured : they are not easy to 
harmonise with the indications of that loftier and purer 
world ; they are prone to usurp the whole heart, or at 
least a very undue share of it. This is the practical 
problem of every honest Christian. In reference to 
the solving of it the Apostle had suggested the place 
given to Christian joy ; he had suggested also the place 
and power of prayer. These were indications as to 
the spirit and the method in which a believer might 

337 22 



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338 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 

bring into play the resources of the Kingdom of Christ 
to control and subjugate those insubordinate forces. 
But might not all this seem to be too n^ative ? Does 
it not speak too much of holding off and holding in ? 
After all, do not all human experiences constitute the 
scene in which we are both formed and tried ? What 
can we make of life unless we are interested in it ? 
How otherwise can we even be religious in it ? What 
is life, if it is not a scene of inquiry and of search set in 
motion by the objects around us, a scene in which we 
like and dislike, hope and fear, desire and think ? The 
answer is. Yes, we are to be keenly interested in the 
experiences of life, and in the possibilities it opens. 
Life is our way of existing ; let existence be animated 
and intense. But while the aspects of it that are merely 
transient are to have their place, and may attract a 
lively interest, there are other aspects, other interests, 
other possibilities. All the transient interests have an 
outgate towards such as are eternal. Life is the ex- 
perience of beings that have high capacities, and can 
rise to noble destinies. It is the experience of societies 
of such beings, who mould one another, exchanging 
influences continually. The changing experience of 
human Ufe, when seen in the true light, is found to add 
to all its lower interests a play of interests that are 
more interesting as well as more worthy. It is iridescent 
with lights which it catches from the infinite and the 
eternal. Every step of it, every turn of it, asks 
questions, offers opportunities, calls for decisions, holds 



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iv.8, 9] THE THINGS TO FIX UPON, 339 

out treasures, which it is the business of a lifetime to 
recognise and to secure. It has gains, it has victories, 
it has accomplishments, it has glories, which need not 
lead us to deny its lower interests, but which we may 
reasonably feel to be far the higher. Endless shades, 
and forms, and types of goodness, of being good, getting 
good, doing good, gleam reflected to us from the chang- 
ing experience. Goodness is not one monotonous 
category embodied in some solemn phrase, and ex- 
hausted when that is learned. There is no end to the 
rich variety in which it is offered, and in which it is to 
be caught, understood, appropriated. And life, through 
all the manifoldness of its legitimate interests, and its 
illegitimate possibilities, is the scene in which all this 
passes before us, and asks to be made ours. The 
Apostle says to us. Think on these things. Take 
account, that is, of what they are, and what their 
worth is. Lay forth on these the care and pains, which 
spent themselves before on mere pain and pleasure, 
loss and gain. Reckon what these are, search out 
their nature, prove their capabilities, appropriate and 
enjoy them. Think on these things. So earthly life, 
through all its busy processes, shall acquire a nobler 
interest ; and it shall begin, at the same time, to 
minister with unexpected readiness to your true wel- 
fare. Enter then, or press on, in this wide field. Be 
this your passion and pursuit ; that which unifies your 
life, and draws all its resources towards one result. 
We may be helped to fix more firmly the point of 



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340 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 

view from which this striking catalc^e of good things 
is drawn up, if we observe that the Apostle collects 
all these excellences under the notion of " a virtue and 
a praise." Let us consider how men are trained to 
progressive conceptions of virtue and praise. For 
virtue and praise, both name and notion, have had 
a large place in men's minds and a great influence on 
their actions. How has this influence been sustained 
and made to grow ? 

Men are conscious of obligations ; and they are 
aware, more dimly or more clearly, that the standard 
of those obligations must exist somehow above them- 
selves. It is a standard not of their own creation, but 
such as claims them by an antecedent right. Yet if 
each individual could hold himself apart, forming his 
own conceptions of fit and right for himself without 
regard to others, the standard would tend downwards 
rapidly, because moral judgment would be warped by 
each man's selfishness and passion, excusing evil in his 
own case and putting it for good. Even as it is, this 
has taken place only too widely. But yet the tendency 
is powerfully counteracted by the fact that men do not 
exist, nor form their notions, in that separate way. 
A principle within them prompts them to seek one 
another's approbation, and to value one another's good 
opinion. Indeed the consciousness that what is law 
for me is law for others, and that they are judging as well 
as I, is one of the forms in which we realise that duty 
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iv. 8,9.] THE THINGS TO FIX UPON, 341 

This principle of regarding the judgment and seeking 
the approbation of others, has had an enormous effect 
on men and on society. For though men are skilful 
enough, in their own case, in averting or silencing the 
admonition of the monitor within, they have little 
reluctance to make full use of their sense of right in 
scrutinising one another. They judge, in their thoughts 
about each other, with far more clearness, shrewdness, 
and certainty than they do about themselves. Men do 
in this way make requirements of one another, which 
each of them might be slow to make from himself. 
This is a great operative force in all cases ; and in 
those cases in which, in any society, vivid convictions 
about truth and duty have taken possession of some 
minds, the principle we are speaking of propagates an 
influence through the whole mass, with effects that 
are very striking. 

This mutual criticism of men "accusing or else 
excusing one another," has had a great effect in 
sustaining what we call common morals. But espe- 
cially let it be observed that this criticism, and the 
consciousness of it, stimulating the higher class of 
minds, sustains and develops the finer perceptions 
of morality. There are minds that eminently strive 
for distinction in things that are counted for a virtue 
and a praise. And through them is developed in the 
general mind the approving perception of more delicate 
shades of worthy conduct, which in a coarser age were 
unperceived or unheeded. These come up in men's 



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242 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



mutual judgments ; they are scrutinised ; they interest 
the mind and take hold of it. So, whether in the case 
of those who begin to pay respect to such forms of 
good because they perceive that others approve of them, 
or in the case of those who, when those forms of good 
are thus presented, perceive a worth in them and take a 
pride in living up to them for their own sake,— in both 
cases, the creating and sustaining of the higher standard 
depends on the principle we have now before us. 

Thus there arises, for example, the code of honour, 
the fine perception of what is socially right, becoming, 
and graceful. Men, no doubt, are always to be found 
who cultivate the nicest sense of this, not from a mere 
desire that others should know it, but because they see 
it to be desirable in itself, and because they shun the 
sense of inward disgrace that follows when they fall 
below their own standard. Yet it is the process of 
mutual criticism which develops the consciousness, and 
it is this which, on the w*hole, sustains it. 

Thus we find in the world not merely a sense of 
duty, but something that has spurred men on to things 
counted for a virtue and a praise. Outside of all 
Christian influences, wonderful examples are found 
of self-sacrificing devotion to the noble and the true. 
Men have eagerly pursued the nicest discriminations of 
duty and honour, that they might be, and might show 
themselves to be, accomplished, finished, not merely in 
some things, but in whatever things were counted to be 
the proper tokens of a noble mind. 



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iv. 8, 9.] THE THINGS TO FIX UPON. 343 



Well now, the Apostle is not shutting out from his 
plan of mental life the attainments made in this way in 
the true or the good, even apart from Christian teach- 
ing. Far less is he excluding the human social method, 
in which mind whets mind, and one stirs another to 
discern and appropriate what is for a virtue and for a 
praise. He supposes this mode of influence to go on 
in Christianity more successfully than ever. And he 
is not at all excluding the natural life of men ; for that 
is the scene, and that yields the materials, for the 
whole process. But he does suppose that now all old 
attainment shall be set in a new light, and acquire a 
new life and grace, and that new attainment shall come 
wonderfully into view by reason of the new element 
which for us has entered into the situation. And what 
is this element ? Is it that we recognise around us 
a society of Christians with whom we share a higher 
standard, and with whom we can give and take the 
contagion of a nobler conception of life? Yes, no 
doubt; but far before that, the great new element in 
the situation is the Lord — in whom we trust and 
rejoice. 

It is always human duty to have regard to the will 
of God, however it may reach us. But when you are 
called to know the Lord and to rejoice in Him, when 
He vouchsafes Himself to be yours, when you begin to 
enjoy His peace, and to walk with Him in love, and to 
have it for your hope to be with Him for ever, then 
you are placed in a n&w relation to Him. And it is 



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344 THE EPISTLE TO THE PH/UPPIANS. 

such a near and dear relation on both sides that much 
may be expected from you in it. If this be so, you are 
now dealing with Him always ; not merely in direct acts 
of worship, but in your thoughts, your feelings, your 
words, your business, your common intercourse with 
men, and all your daily life, you walk with Him. You 
cannot repudiate having so much to do with Him, un- 
less you will repudiate your Christianity. Then, if so, 
something new is expected. A new test of the becom- 
ing, of that which is for a virtue and for a praise, has 
come into operation, and has become intelligible to you ; 
and it is a test of new delicacy and new force. It 
is expected we should recognise it Not now the 
mutual judgments merely of erring men, but His mind 
and His will, what He delights in and approves, — this 
begins to solicit us and press upon us, for we walk with 
Christ. That this " walk " of ours may escape being 
mean, coarse, offensive, we have great lessons to learn. 
We have to learn what, in His judgment, as seen by 
His eye, as tried by the sensibilities of His heart, are 
the things that are true and venerable and just, what 
with Him counts for a virtue and a praise. 

And here, indeed, is our crown. The crown of 
honour which man cast away when sin gained him, 
was the approbation of the Lord. But now we are set 
on afresh to seek it, testing our ways by the perception 
of that which He approves ; or, on the other hand, 
what He counts to be mean and degrading, fit to be 
recoiled from and rejected. It is our calling (whatever 



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iv. 8,9.] THE THINGS TO FIX UPON. 345 



our attainment may be) to be more sensitive to the 
nicest touches of truth and honour towards our Lord 
than ever we were towards men. And this does not 
apply only to some narrow field of life. It goes 
through all relations, up to God and Christ, and out 
through all duties and ties. The great calling reaches 
wide and far; it is very high and noble: we cannot 
pretend to disclaim it, unless we disclaim the Lord. 
This way lies God's crown. Win it ; wear it ; let no 
man take thy crown. 

When our Lord's mind and heart are said to be 
the test, this does not exclude our profiting by our 
fellows, accepting the admonition contained in human 
judgments, and especially in those of Christian people. 
Great good comes to us in such channels. Only now 
the judgment of our fellows is to refer itself always to 
a further standard; and a new Presence brings new 
tenderness and grace, new depth and significance, to 
every suggestion of right feeling and worthy life. This 
is the light and this the influence under which we are 
to learn what shall be counted for a virtue and for a 
praise. And we must bend our mind to think upon ii, 
if we are to learn our lesson. 

We must think upon it. For, on the one hand, it is 
not "some things," but "whatsoever things." What 
should we say of a man who proposed in his dealings 
with others to do " some things " that are honourable, 
but not all things, not " whatsoever things " ? And, on 
the other hand, we may be further oflF from even a small 



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346 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



measure of attainment in this field than we are disposed 
to think. Christians who, as to all social excellence, as 
that is commonly understood between man and man, 
are unexceptionable, may be sadly blind to the require- 
ments of an honourable walk with God ; may be sadly 
wanting even in the conception of what is due in all 
love and honour to Christ, and to men for His sake. 
Men may be the soul of honour and delicacy in their 
ways, judged from the world's point of view ; yet not 
far from a savage coarseness in the manner of their life 
judged by Christ's standard. We would not need- 
lessly wound another's feelings; but with what in- 
difference have we "grieved the Spirit." We would 
shrink from saying anything to our fellows that is 
deceitful and hypocritical : can we say as much for our 
prayers ? In our common life we maintain truth in 
the ordinary sense between men; but do we loyally 
express and act out the truth by which God's children 
live in our speech and action among men ? Is there 
that fine congruity of our bearing to the truth we live 
by, which becomes a child of God ? 

We are greatly hindered here by the assumption 
we make, that when we have mastered the form of 
knowledge concerning the will of God, we then know 
all about our calling. It is a great delusion. We 
must not only sit down at the feet of Christ to learn 
from Him ; but also, with a watchful eye on the phases 
of life, catching the lessons which things and men 
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iv. 8, 9.] THE THINGS TO FIX UPON, 347 



loving discernment as to our Master's mind, and so, 
as to what is honourable and right-minded, refined and 
noble, in a walk with God. We do not easily emerge 
from the meanness of our spirits ; we do not easily 
shake off that insensibility to what is spiritually fair 
and fit, on which the angels look down with pity and 
wonder. 

Therefore, says the Apostle, think on these things, 
the things which in the Lord's kingdom and under the 
Lord's eye are well-pleasing, and count for a virtue 
and a praise ; think on those things which are related 
to His esteem, and to the esteem of persons who learn 
of Him, as various excellences are to the common 
judgment of the world. Do so, for here you are close 
to the genuinely and supremely true and good ; and this, 
as was said before, is your crown. 

The Apostle is thinking of a perception of duty and 
privilege attained not merely by studying a catalogue of 
virtues, but by a far finer and more living process — by 
life that is instinct with observant watchfulness, that 
is frank in self-criticism, that is recipient of the light 
flashing from the experience and the censure of others: 
all this under constant regard to the Lord, and lead- 
ing us into fuller sympathy with Him. 

That this is so, appears from the Apostle's way of 
arranging the particulars of his exhortation. He does 
not merely desire his disciples to discern what is right 
in general : but he would have them grow into a vital 
knowledge, so as to feel the right in those matters 



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348 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



where the shading becomes delicate ; where it may 
be difficult to distinguish argumentatively an absolute 
right and wrong, but where a mind purged and trained 
in the Master's school can well discern a difference. 
" Whatsoever things are true " — which includes not only 
veracity and fidelity, but also whatever in conduct and 
temper God's truth requires as agreeable to itself; and 
then " Whatsoever things are venerable " — the character 
that emerges when all that is congruous to truth, in its 
finest filaments and ramifications, has been developed, 
and has assumed its own place. " Whatsoever things 
are just" — rightfully due on all hands to God and to man ; 
and then " Whatsoever things are pure" — the character 
that recoils from all that sullies, from the smallest 
shade or infection of iniquity. "Whatsoever things 
are lovely " — the dear or amiable, whatever draws out 
love, cherishes it, befits it ; and then " Whatsoever 
things are of good report " — actions that can hardly be 
more discriminatingly classified than by saying that the 
heart is pleased to hear of them ; it confesses that they 
are of a good name, of a welcome sound ; they are like 
some delicate sound or odour on which you dwell with 
delight, but cannot definitely describe it In a word, 
" If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, 
think on these things." Study them, look out for them, 
learn to recognise them, to know their worth, to pursue 
them lovingly through all their manifestations. 

Thus, let it be said once more, the Apostle is not 
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iv. 8, 9.] THE THINGS TO FIX UPON, 349 



from energetic life. To such a call men have always 
replied, that they find in themselves capacities wonder- 
fully adapted to grapple with life, and to do so with 
interest and with energy. Virtually the Apostle says, 
Yes, true ; and life has aspects to interest the mind, 
and results to engage the will, which are its noble and 
its imperative possibilities : for the followers of Christ 
these become dominant ; they afford noble scope for 
all human faculty ; and all forms of life are dignified 
as they become subservient to these supreme interests 
and aims. Now, lay forth the care and pains that 
fastened before on mere joy and sorrow, hope and 
fear, on a certain thinking and making account of the 
true, the venerable, the just, the pure, the lovely, that 
which is of good report. Reckon what they are ; search 
out their nature ; make them your serious object. 
" O man of God, flee those things ; but follow after 
righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meek- 
ness." 

But progress is not to be made in this line by mere 
subtle refining and contemplation. If there was any 
danger that the Apostle's call to "think" might be 
interpreted that way, presently it is corrected. The 
thinking is to be practical thinking, bending itself to 
action. " What things ye have received and learned " 
— those practical points in which the Apostle always 
taught his Gentile converts to put to proof the grace of 
Christ ; and " What ye have heard and seen in me " — 
^n a man poor, tried, persecuted, a man whose life 



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350 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



was rough and real, who knew weakness and sorrow, 
who bore heavy burdens, that were not proudly paraded, 
but which brought him lowly and weary to Christ's feet, 
— these things do. That is the road to the attainments 
on which I bid you think. 

*' And the God of peace shall be with you." In those 
ways (for they are His own ways) God walks with 
men ; and peace with God, spreading out into peace 
with men, becomes the atmosphere in which such 
wayfarers move. 



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GIFTS AND SACRIFICES, 



35t 



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'* But I rejoice in the Lord greatly, that now at length ye have 
revived your thought for me; wherein ye did indeed take thought, 
but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want : for 
I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content I know 
how to be abased, and I know also how to abound : in everything 
and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be 
hungry, both to abound and to be in want. I can do all things in 
Him that strengtheneth me. Howbeit ye did well, that ye had fellow- 
ship with my affliction. And ye yourselves also know, ye Philippians, 
that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, 
no Church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving, 
but ye only; for even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto 
my need. Not that I seek for the gift ; but I seek for the fruit that 
increaseth to your account But I have all things, and abound : I am 
filled, having received from Epaphroditus the things that came from 
you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to 
God. And my God shall fulfil every need of yours according to His 
riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Now unto our God and Father be 
the glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

" Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with 
me salute you. All the saints salute you, especially they that are 
of Caesar*s household. 

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." — Phiu 
iv. 10-23 (R.V.). 



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CHAPTER XIX. 
GIFTS AND SACRIFICES. 

THE Apostle had urged joy in the Lord, and a 
moderation visible to all men. If any one 
supposes that in doing so he recommended a stoical 
temper, insensible to the impressions of passing things, 
the passage which now comes before us will correct 
that error. It shows us how the Apostle could " rejoice 
in the Lord," and yet reap great satisfaction from 
providential incidents. " I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, 
that now at last you have revived your thought for 
me," or, as in the older version, *' that your care for me 
has flourished again." 

Worldly eagerness, and worldly care and anxiety 
about persons and things, are rebuked by the spirit of 
rejoicing in the Lord. But the persons and the things 
about us all have a connection with the Lord, if we 
have eyes to see it, and hearts to mark it ; and that is 
the chief thing about them. They are in the Lord's 
world, the Lord calls us to have to do with them : as 
for the persons, they are, some of them, the Lord's 
servants, and all of them the Lord calls us to love and 

353 23 



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354 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



to benefit ; as for the things, the Lord appoints our lot 
among them, and they are full of a meaning which He 
puts into them. So regard to the Lord and a spirit 
of rejoicing in Him may pervade our earthly life. The 
worldly eagerness and worldly care must be controlled. 
There is no avoiding that conflict But now — shall we 
in faith give ourselves to learn the true rejoicing in the 
Lord ? If not, our Christianity must be at best low 
and comfortless. But if we do, we shall be rewarded 
by a growing liberty. The more that joy possesses us, 
the more will it give occasion to the finest and freest 
play of feeling in reference to passing things ; and some 
of these which, on other accounts, might seem insigni- 
ficant, will begin to yield us an abounding consolation. 

These Philippians, who had given early proof of 
attachment to the gospel, had lately, for some reason or 
other, been unable, " lacked opportunity," to minister 
to the wants of Paul. Now the winter, whatever it was, 
that hindered the expression of their goodwill was gone, 
and their care of Paul flourished again. Did the 
Apostle think it needful to freeze up the feelings of 
satisfaction which this incident awakened ? No : but 
in his case those feelings, having spiritual elevation, 
became so much the more deep and glad. He rejoiced 
greatly in this ; and still, he was rejoicing in the Lord. 
Let us mark how this comes out both when we consider 
what was not the spring of his gladness, and what it was. 

" Not that I speak in respect of want." It was 
not the change from want to comparative plenty that 



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iv. 10-23.] GIFTS AND SACRIFICES, 355 



explained the nature of his feelings. Yet he evidently 
implies that he had been in want, strange as that may 
seem in a city where there was a Christian congre- 
gation. But though the removal of that pressure would 
no doubt be thankfully taken, yet for a man whose 
gladness was in the Lord no mere change of that kind 
would lead to " rejoicing greatly." " I speak not in 
respect of want : I have learned, in whatsoever state I 
am, therewith to be content I know how to be abased, 
and I know also how to abound : in everything and in 
all things have I learned the secret (have been initiated) 
both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and 
to be in want. I can do all things through Him that 
strengtheneth me." 

" Therewith to be content." Paul had learned to be 
so minded that, in trying circumstances, he did not 
anxiously cast about for help, but was sufficed : his 
desires were brought down to the facts of his condition. 
In that state he counted himself to have enough. He 
knew how to suit himself to abasement, that common 
experience of the indigent and friendless ; and he 
knew how to suit himself to abundance, when that 
was sent : each as a familiar state in which he made 
himself at home — not overgrieved or overjoyed, not 
greatly elevated or greatly depressed. ** I have been 
instructed," or initiated (the word used by the 
heathen of introduction to the mysteries), " not only into 
the experience of those conditions, but into the way of 
taking kindly with them both." Mark how his words 



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356 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 



follow one another : " I have learned " — been put 
through a course of teaching and have had a teacher ; 
" I know " — it has become familiar to me, I understand 
it ; "I am initiated " — if there is a secret in it, some- 
thing hidden from the natural man, I have been led into 
that, out and in, through and through. 

If we would know by what discipline the Lord 

trained Paul to this mind, we may listen to what Paul 

himself says of it (i Cor. iv. 9-13) : '* I think God hath 

set forth us the apostles last of all, as men doomed to 

death : for we are made a spectacle unto the world. . . . 

Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, 

and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain 

dwelling-place ; and we toil, working with our own 

hands : being reviled, we bless ; being persecuted, we 

endure ; being defamed, we entreat : we are made as 

the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things, 

unto this day" (see also 2 Cor. vi. 4, xi. 23). If, 

again, we would know the manner of his training in 

such experiences, take 2 Cor. xii. 8, 9 : " Concerning this 

thing I besought thrice that it might depart from me. 

And He said unto me. My grace is sufficient for thee ; 

for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most 

gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities." 

Also how his faith wrought and gathered strength in 

all these, we may see from Rom. viii. 24-28 : " We are 

saved by hope. ... If we hope for that which we see not, 

then do we with patience wait for it. Also the Spirit 

helpeth our infirmity : for we know not how to pray as 



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iv. 10-23.] GIFTS AND SACRIFICES. 357 



we ought ; but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession 
for us. . . . And we know that all things work to- 
gether for good to them that love God." So " being 
strengthened with all might, according to His glorious 
power, to all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness " 
(Col. i. 11), he was able to say, " I can do all things 
through Christ which strengtheneth me." 

This was the course, and this the fruit, of Paul's 
biography. But each Christian has his own life, the 
tenor and the upshot of which should not be wholly 
estranged from Paul's. 

Now what it was that did move him so to rejoice is 
explained when he speaks of the Philippians '' holding 
fellowship with his affliction"; and, again, when he 
says, " I desire fruit that may abound to your account." 
He saw in their succour the blessed unity of Christ's 
living Church, the members having mutual interest, so 
that if one suffers all suffer. The Philippians claimed 
a right to take part as fellow-members in the Apostle's 
state and wants, and to communicate with his affliction. 
And this was only a continuation of their former 
practice in the beginning of the gospel. This, as a 
fruit of Christ's work and of the presence of His Spirit, 
refreshed the Apostle. It was a manifestation in the 
sphere of temporal things of the working of a high 
principle, communion with the common Lord. And it 
betokened the progress of the work of grace, in that the 
Philippians were not weary in well-doing. So it was 
fruit that abounded to their account. 



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358 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



It may be noticed that the directness and frankness 
of the Apostle's speech to the Philippians on these 
matters convey a testimony to the generous Christian 
feeling which prevailed among them. He speaks as 
one who feared no misconstruction. He does not fear 
that they will either mistake his meaning or do wrong 
to his motives ; as he, on the other side, puts no other 
than a loving construction upon their action. He could 
not so trust all the Churches. In some there was so 
little of large Christian sympathy that a complaining 
tone in such matters was forced on him. But in the 
case of the Philippians he has no difficulty in interpret- 
ing their gift simply as embodying their earnest claim 
to be counted " partakers of the benefit," and therefore 
entitled to bear the burdens and alleviate the sufferings 
of Paul. Gladly he admits and welcomes this claim. 
It is worth observing that the way of giving vent to 
Christian feeling here exemplified was apparent at 
Philippi from the very first. Not only did it appear 
when Paul departed from Macedonia (ver. 15); but, 
before that, the earliest convert, Lydia, struck the key- 
note, — " If ye judge me faithful in the Lord, come into 
my house" (Acts xvi. 15). Both in individuals and in 
Churches, the style of feeling and action embraced at 
the outset of Christianity, under the first impressions, 
often continues to prevail long after. 

Now, in virtue of this liberality, Paul had all and 
abounded. He had desired to see the old spirit flourish 



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iv. 10-23.] GIFTS AND SACRIFICES. 359 

again, and he had his wish. " I have all : I feel greatly 
enriched since I received the things sent by Epaphro- 
ditus/' What gladdened him was not the outward 
comfort which these gifts supplied, but much more, the 
spiritual meaning they carried in their bosom. Let us 
see how he reads that meaning. 

This gift comes to him. As it comes, what is it ? 
From its destination and its motives it takes on a 
blessed character. It is " an odour of a sweet smell, 
a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing unto God." This 
was what came to the Apostle : something that was 
in a peculiar manner God's own, something which He 
regarded, set value on, and counted precious. Further, 
it turned out to be something in connection with which 
the assurance ought to go forth, " My God shall fulfil 
every need of yours." They had ministered to Paul's 
need, in faith, love, thankfulness, and loyal care of 
Christ's servant. Christ counted it done to Him : as 
such He would surely repay it, supplying their need 
with that considerate liberality which it becomes Him 
to exhibit. Observe, then, the position in which the 
Apostle finds himself. He is himself the object of 
Christian kindness; affections wrought in the Phihp- 
pians by the Holy Ghost are clinging to him and caring 
for him. He is also one so linked with God's great 
cause, that offerings sent to him, in the spirit described, 
become an "odour of a sweet smell, an acceptable 
sacrifice to the Lord." Also this supply of his need 
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36o THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



done, God, as it were, stands forth directly on His 
servant's behalf: He will repay it, supplying the need 
of those who supplied His servant. Poor though Paul 
may be, and sometimes sad, yet see how the resources 
of God must be pledged to requite the kindness done to 
him. All this made him very glad. His heart warmed 
under it. What a blessed, happy, secure, and, looking 
forward, what a hopeful state was his ! This came 
home to him all at once with the Philippians' gift. No 
wonder that he says, " 1 have all and abound." 

If any one chooses to say that all this was true about 
the Apostle, and he might have known it, apart from the 
gift, and even if it had never come, that may be a kind 
of truth, but it signifies exactly nothing to the purpose. 
It is one thing to have a doctrine which one knows : it is 
another thing to have the Holy Spirit setting it home 
with a warmth and glory that fills the man with joy. 
The Spirit of God may do this without means, but often 
He uses means, and, indeed, what we esteem little means; 
by little things carrying home great impressions, as out 
of the mouths of babes and sucklings He perfects praise. 
When a child of God is cast down, no one can tell out 
of how small a thing the Spirit of God may cause to 
arise a peace that passeth all understanding. 

Christianity confers great weight and dignity on little 
things. This gift, not in itself very great, passing 
between Christians at Philippi and an Apostle im- 
prisoned at Rome, belongs after all to an unearthly 
sphere. Paul sees its connection with all spiritual ~^, 



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iv. 10-23.] GIFTS AND SACRIFICES. 361 



things, and with the heavenly places where Christ is. . 
And it comes to him carrying a rich meaning, preaching 
everlasting consolation and good hope through grace. 

Mark, again, the illustration of the truth that the 
members have need of one another, and are compacted 
by that which every joint supplieth, according to the 
effectual working in the measure of every part. The 
strong may benefit by the weak, as well as the weak 
by the strong. This Apostle, who could do all things 
through Christ who strengthens him, might be very far 
more advanced as a Christian than any one in Philippi. 
Possibly there was nothing any of them could say, no 
advice they could tender to him in words, that would 
have been of material benefit to the Apostle. But that 
which, following the impulse of their faith and love, 
they did, was of material benefit. It filled his heart with 
a joyful sense of the relation in which he stood to them, 
to Christ, to God. It welled up for him like a water- 
spring in a dry land. No one can tell how it may 
have conduced to enable him to go forward with more 
liberty and power, testifying in Rome the gospel of God. 

Nor must we omit the comfort to all who serve God 
in their generation arising from the view which the 
Apostle is here led to take. There may be trials from 
without and trials from within. Still God careth for 
His servant. God will provide for him out of that 
which is peculiarly His own. God so identifies him 
with Himself, that He must needs requite all who 
befriend him out of His own riches in glory. 



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362 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 



So far for the bearing of the case on Paul. We have 
still to look a little into the view given of this Philip- 
pian gift on its own account. It is emphatically called 
a sweet savour, an offering acceptable and well-pleasing 
to God. We have seen already (ch. ii. 17) that believers 
are called upon to offer themselves as a sacrifice ; and 
now we see also that their obedience, or that which 
they do for Christ's sake, is reckoned as an offering to 
God. So it is said (Heb. xiii. 16) " to do good and to 
communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God 
is well pleased." It need hardly be said they are not 
sacrifices to atone for sin. But they are offerings 
accepted by God, at His altar, from His children's hands. 
They suitably express both the gratitude of believers to 
God, and the sincerity of their Christianity in general. 
God grants us this way of expressing the earnestness 
of our regard to Him : and He expects that we shall 
gladly avail ourselves of it ; our obedience is to assume 
the character of a glad and willing offering. The 
expressions used by the Apostle here assure us that 
there is a Divine complacency in the manifestation of 
this spirit on the part of God's children. The heart of 
Him who has revealed Himself in Christ, of Him who 
rested and was refreshed on the seventh day over His 
good and fair works, counts for a sweet savour, accept- 
able and well-pleasing, the works of faith and love 
willingly done for His name's sake. 

In this connection it is fit we should remember that the 
view we take of money, and the use we make of it, are 



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iv. 10-23.] GIFTS AND SACRIFICES. 363 



referred to with extraordinary frequency in the New Tes- 
tament, as a decisive test of Christian sincerity. This 
feature of Bible teaching is very faintly realised by many. 

The other point noteworthy in relation to this 
Philippian gift is the assurance that it shall be re- 
compensed. God will not be unfaithful to reward 
their work and labour of love, in that they have 
ministered to His servant. 

We are not to shrink from the doctrine of reward 
because it has been perverted. It is true the good 
works of a Christian cannot be the foundation of his 
title to life eternal. They proceed from the grace of 
God ; they are very imperfect and mixed at their best. 
Yet they are precious fruits of Christ's death, and of 
God's grace, arising through the faith and love of 
souls renewed and liberated. When a penitent and 
believing man is found devoting to God what he is 
and has, doing so freely and lovingly, that is a 
blessed thing. God sets value on it. It is accepted 
as fruit which the man brings, as the offering which 
he yields. The heart of Christ rejoices over it. 
Now it is fit that the value set on this fruit should 
be shown, and the way God takes to show it is 
to reward the service. Such a man "shall in no 
wise lose his reward." God orders the administra- 
tion of His mercy so that it really comes in a way of 
recompense for works of faith and labours of love. 

This may well convince us that the kindness of our 
Father is measureless. He omits nothing that can win 



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364 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS. 



His children's love, and bind them to Himself. Might 
not those servants who have gone furthest and done 
most, feel it almost a bitter thing to hear reward 
spoken of? For if their service could be far more 
worthy, it could not amount to an adequate expression 
of gratitude for all their Father has done for them. 
Yet He will certainly reward. Cups of cold water given 
to disciples shall have remembrance made of them, by 
Him who reckons all those gifts to be bestowed upon 
Himself. Every way God overwhelms His children with 
His goodness. There is no dealing with this God, 
otherwise than by confessing that every way we are 
debtors. It is vain to think of paying the debt, or re- 
lieving oneself of any of the weight of obligation. Only 
we may with all our hearts give glory to. Him to whom 
we owe all. 

Accordingly the Apostle closes in a doxology : " Now 
unto our God and Father be glory for ever." 

Among the salutations with which the Epistle winds 
up, every one must be struck with that which goes in 
the name of " those of Caesar's household." Bishop 
Lightfoot has annexed to his Commentary an essay 
on this topic, which collects, with his usual skill, the 
available information. It was remarked in connection 
with ch. i. 12, that Caesar's household was an immense 
establishment, comprehending thousands of persons, 
employed in all sorts of functions, and composed 
chiefly, either of slaves, or of those who had emerged 
from slavery into the condition of freedmen. Indica- 



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iv. 10-23.] GIFTS AND SACRIFICES. 365 



tions have been gathered from ancient mortuary in- 
scriptions tending to show that a notable proportion 
of Christians, whose names are preserved in this way, 
had probably been connected with the household. At 
the end of the first century, a whole branch of the 
Flavian imperial family became Christian ; and it is 
possible, as indicated in an earlier page, that they 
may have done so under the influence of Christian 
servants. This, however, fell later. The Apostle 
wrote in Nero's days. It is certain that at this time 
singularly profligate persons exercised great sway in 
the household. It is also certain that powerful Jewish 
influences had got a footing; and these would in all 
likelihood act against the gospel. Yet there were also 
Christian brethren. We may believe that Paul's own 
work had operated notably to produce this result (ch. 
i. 12). At all events, there they were. Amid all that 
was vile and unscrupulous, the word of God had its 
course; men were converted and were sanctified by 
the washing of water by the word. Then, as now, the 
Lord gathered His elect from unlikely quarters : how 
secure soever the strong man's goods seemed to be, 
his defences went down before the might of a stronger 
than he. Probably the Christians in the household 
belonged chiefly or exclusively to the lower grades of 
the service, and might be partly protected by their 
obscurity. Yet surely entanglements and perplexities, 
fears and sorrows, must often have been the portion of 
the saints of Nero's household. Out of all these the 



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366 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 

Lord delivered them. This glimpse lets us see the 
process going on which by-and-by made so strange 
a revolution in the heathen world. It reminds us also 
for what peculiarities of trial God's grace has been 
found sufficient. 

" The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your 
spirit." This is the parting benediction ; certainly an 
appropriate one, for the whole Epistle breathes the same 
atmosphere. The Epistle would not fail of its effect, 
if their spirit retained the consciousness of the grace of 
Christ; if throughout their life they owned its sway, 
and felt its attraction, its charm, its power to elevate 
and purify and comfort. 

In following the course of thought and feeling 
which this letter embodies, we have seen the Apostle 
touch various topics. They rise into view as pastoral 
care, or friendly feeling, as outward circumstances 
suggest them. The demands of Christian friendship, 
the responsibilities of the Christian ministry, the 
trials of Christian endurance ; what is due from an 
apostle, or from a Church member ; how life and death 
are to be confronted ; what is to be done about dangers 
and faults ; how pride and self-will are to be judged 
arid remedied; how the narrow heart is to be re- 
buked and enlarged ; how the life of a disciple is to 
become luminous and edifying, — in reference to all, 
and all alike, he speaks from the same central position, 
and with the same fulness of resource. In Christ 



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iv. 10-23.] GIFTS AND SACRIFICES, 367 



revealed, in Christ received and known, he finds the 
light, and the strength, and the salve, which every case 
requires. Each new demand unlocks new resources, 
new conceptions of goodness and of victory. 

So, in one great passage, in the third chapter, 
catching fire, as it were, from the scorn with which 
a religion of externals fills him, he breaks forth into a 
magnificent proclamation of the true Christianity. He 
celebrates its reality and intensity as life in Christ — 
Christ known, found, gained—Christ in the righteous- 
ness of faith and in the power of resurrection. He 
depicts vividly the aspiration and endeavour of that 
life as it continually presses onward from faith to 
experience and achievement, as it verifies relations 
to a world unseen, and looks and hastes towards a 
world to come. Then the wave of thought and feeling^ 
subsidl&s; but its force is felt in the last wavelets of 
loving counsel that ripple to the shore. 

One feels that for Paul, who was rich in doctrine, 
doctrine is after all but the measure of mighty forces 
which are alive in his own experience. No doctrine, 
not one, is for the intellect alone: all go out into 
heart and conscience and life. More than this : he lets 
us see that, for Christians, Christ Himself is the great 
abiding means of grace. He is not only the pledge and 
guarantee that holiness shall be reached : He is Himself 
our way of reaching it. He is so for the Christian 
societies, as well as for the individual Christian soul. 

One cannot but wonder sometimes in reading Paul's 



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368 THE EPISTLE TO THE PHIUPPIANS, 



Epistles what manner of congregations they were to 
whom such remarkable letters were sent. Did they 
understand the deeper and loftier passages? Were 
Paul and they on common ground ? But the answer 
may be, that whatever they failed to attain, they at 
least apprehended a new world created for them by 
the interposition of Christ — new horizons, new possi- 
bilities, new hopes and fears, new motives, new con- 
solations, new friendships, and a new destiny. The 
grace of Christ had made all new — in which process 
they themselves were new. Their " spirit " had become 
like a lyre new-strung to render new harmonies. And 
the great thoughts of the Apostle, if not always grasped 
or followed, yet made every string vibrate— so much on 
his part and so much on theirs being sensitive to the 
grace of our Lord Jesus. 

Ere long they all passed away : Paul beheaded at 
Rome, as the story goes ; the Philippian converts dying 
out ; and the world changing in manners, thought, and 
speech, in all directions. But the message entrusted 
to Paul lives still, and awakens the same response in 
the hearts of Christians of to-day, as it did among the 
Philippians when first read among them. It still assures 
us that the highest thing in life has been found, — that 
it meets us in Him who came among us meek, and 
having salvation. 



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BY THE SAME AUTHOR. 

Imago Christi : The Example of Jesus Christ Twentieth 
Thousand. Crown 8vo, cloth, 5s. 

" An immortal book." — Mr. Spurgeon. 

'•The execution is full of ingenuity, and the book can be recom- 
mended as a devout and thoughtful commentary on practical Christian 
life in many phases. Mr. Stalker has broad sympathies and a 
watchful eye, and speaks in a tone that will commend itself to all his 
readers," — Saturday Review. 



Studies in Scottish History: Chiefly Ecclesiastical. 

By A. Taylor Innes, MA, Advocate, Author of " The Law of 
Creeds in Scotland," etc. Crown 8vo, cloth, 5s. 

"An English reader will find in this prettily printed and well- 
written little book some delightful, and many interesting, pages, and 
a good deal of matter for tliought and consideration. With hearty 
commendation we may leave this book, which exhibits so placably, 
wisely, and shrewdly the bright side of the Free Kirk." — Manchester 
Guardian. 



London: HODDER & STOUGHTON, 27, Paternoster Row. 

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The epistle to the 
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Phil. 
1895 



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