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Princeton, N. J. 




PRINCETON, N. ]. *ff. 



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821 Chestnut Street. 






Je AN" D aillé, a celebrated French Protestant minister, was 
born at Chattellerault, in the year 1594. His father, who was 
the receiver of the consignations at Poitiers, designed him for 
business, and to become his successor in his office. But observ- 
ing his son's strong inclination to books, he judiciously yielded 
to it, and sent him, when he had attained his eleventh year, to 
St. Maixent, in Poitou, to acquire the rudiments of learning. 
He continued his studies successively at Poitiers, Chatteller- 
ault, and Saumur. At the last place he finished his course of 
philosophy under the celebrated Mark Duncan ; and began his 
theological studies at Saumur, in the year 1612. In the same 
year he was received into the family of the illustrious M. du 
Plessis-Mornay, in the honourable capacity of tutor to his two 
grandsons. This was one of the most felicitous providences in 
M. Daillé's life ; for though he was, doubtless, well qualified 
for his trust, and faithfully discharged it, yet it is said that he 
received as much instruction from the venerable grandfather 
as he communicated to the grandsons. Mornay was extremely 
pleased with him, and frequently read with him, and imparted 
to him those rich stores of learning and knowledge with which 
his own mind was furnished ; so that some have attributed the 
great celebrity which Daillé afterwards attained to the assist- 
. ance he received from his noble patron ; and it may be justly 
supposed that the counsels and instructions of that excellent 



man were not wasted on him. After enjoying the advantages 
of this situation for seven years, he set out on his travels with 
his pupils, and went to Geneva, and thence through Piedmont 
and Lombardy to Venice, and other parts of Italy. While at 
Mantua one of his pupils was taken ill, and he removed him, 
with all speed, to Padua, where greater liberty was allowed to 
Protestants than in other parts of Italy ; but there the young 
man died, and it was not without great address that Daillé, 
aided by the memorable Father Paul, avoided the observation 
of the inquisitors, in removing his corpse to France, that it 
might be interred in the burial-place of his ancestors. 

While at Venice M. Daillé entered into a most intimate 
friendship with the erudite and candid historian of the Council 
of Trent, and afterwards spoke of the results of this intimacy 
as the principal benefit which he received from his travels ; 
and, on the other hand, such was the affection that Paul con- 
ceived for him, that he used his utmost endeavour with a 
French physician, of the Protestant religion, and one of his in- 
timate friends, to prevail with him to stay at Venice* 

M. Daillé, and his surviving pupil, proceeded from Italy to 
Switzerland, Germany, Flanders, Holland, and England, and 
returned to their native country in the year 1621. 

In 1623 he entered the ministry at the castle of La Forest, 
in Lower Poitou, belonging to M. du Plessis-Mornay. But in 
a short time after that nobleman was taken ill, and died in the 
arms of the new pastor. He now engaged in preparing for 
the press memoirs of his patron, which had been compiled by 
one of his domestics, of the name of De Lignes, and were after- 
wards published in two volumes. 

In 1625 he was elected minister of the church at Saumur, 
and in the following year was called by the consistory of 
Paris to take the charge of the church at Charenton. Here he 

* This circumstance, among many others, has been thought no inconsiderable 
proof that Father Paul concealed, under the habit of a monk, a temper devoted 
to Protestantism and its professors. His detestation of the corruptions of the 
Romish Church appears in all his writings, but particularly in the following re- 
markable passage in one of his letters : " There is nothing more essential than 
to ruin the reputation of the Jesuits. By the ruin of the Jesuits, Rome will be 
ruined ; and if Rome be ruined, religion will reform of itself." 


continued to fulfil his ministry for the remainder of his life, 
widely diffusing the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. 
He died at Paris in the year 1670. 

He frequently assisted in the Protestant national synods 
that were holden in France, where his influence was very 
great; and presided at the last synod prior to the revocation 
of the edict of Nantz, which assembled in London in the year 
1659. However repugnant were the doctrines maintained by 
our author to those of the Romish Church, he was highly es- 
teemed by many of that communion for his learning, abilities, 
integrity, moderation, and obliging and affable manners. 
Balzac once exclaimed to him, " Oh that such a man as you 
are were on our side !" That he was highly valued by the 
Protestants of France will be readily supposed. They were 
accustomed to say that " since the days of Calvin, they had 
possessed no better writer than M. Daillé." 

He was a very voluminous author. This will not be 
thought wonderful, when it is considered that he lived long, 
was remarkably exempted from sickness, and was very labo- 
rious. He was eminently endued with the qualifications of an 
author, and had this singular advantage, that his understanding 
was not impaired by age ; for it is observable that there is 
no less strength and ardour in his two volumes, entitled " De 
Objecto Cultus Eeligiosi," the first of which was published 
when he was seventy years old, than in any of his earlier 

In the year 1631 he published his most celebrated work, 
entitled " Of the Use of the Fathers,"* which Bayle character- 
ized as " a very strong chain of arguments, that form a moral 
demonstration against those who would have differences in re- 
ligion to be decided by the authority of the fathers."f This 
able performance was censured, not only in Eoman Catholic 
countries, but by some English Episcopalians, who thought 
that it tended to obscure the merits of the ancient church. 

* De 1' Usage des Pères." [Republished by the Presbyterian Board of 

f Dr. Fleetwood, Bishop of Ely, said of this book, that it " pretty sufficiently 
proved the fathers were of no use at all." 


But by the more liberal part of the English communion it was 
received with very great applause, as is evident from testimo- 
nies in its favour from Lord Falkland, (who used to say that 
" to obtain the acquaintance of M. Daillé was worth going to 
Paris,") Lord George Digby, and Dr. Taylor, prefixed to an 
English translation of it, by the learned Thomas Smith, B. D. 
Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge; and also from Lord 
Clarendon's excellent apology for it, in his answer to Serenus 

In 1663 Daillé published another work of general interest, 
entitled " An Apology for the Eeformed Churches,"* in which 
he vindicates, with much learning and argument, their separa- 
tion from the Church of Eome, from the imputation of schism, 
which was often alleged against them. This work, as well as 
the former, was translated into English, and also into Latin. 
As soon as his " Apology" appeared, it was much censured by 
the clergy of France, and some of them were employed to write 
against it. Daillé wrote two or three little pieces in defence 
of it, which were afterwards printed with it in the Latin edi- 
tion. Besides the two works above mentioned, he published 
about twenty volumes of sermons, several critical and contro- 
versial pieces, and others of a temporary nature. 

His Expositions of the Philippians and Colossians will af- 
ford the lovers of sound practical theology much edification. 
They are marked by clear interpretation of Scripture — great 
candour towards other expositors — boldness for the faith — 
and vigorous attacks on the errors of the papacy, which he ex- 
poses with singular skill, and refutes with masculine energy. 
His sanctified eloquence appears in every page, but especially 
in his perorations, which, for close appeals to the conscience, 
ardent love to a precious Saviour, earnest exhortations to holy 
walking with God, and active service for Christ, exceed any 
which have fallen into the editor's hands, and, in his opinion, 
justify the sentence written on the title page by a devoted ser- 
vant of Christ, from whose library the copy of this Exposi- 
tion of the Epistle to the Colossians was obtained, " This is the 
most eloquent book in my library." 

The Exposition of the Epistle to the Philippians is now for 

* " L' Apologie des nos Eglises." 


the first time translated into English. The editor begs to ex- 
press his obligations to the Misses Clifton for the great assist- 
ance rendered him in this department of labour, and to F. 
Eivaz, Esq., to whose critical knowledge both of the French 
and English languages it is indebted for much of its point and 
power. A faithful, but verbal, translation of the Exposition 
of the Epistle to the Colossians appeared in English in the year 
1672, the copies of which have now become very scarce. That 
translation has undergone revision in the present edition, and 
it is hoped will be found considerably improved. 

While the labour of revising and preparing these valuable 
treasures of theological lore is not small, the editor acknow- 
ledges, with thankfulness to God, that he has derived great 
encouragement to proceed in his work from the testimonies of 
approbation which he has received from ministers of Christ, 
and pious and intelligent laymen, in various sections of the 
church. He trusts that these precious pieces of Daillé, sent 
forth in a more inviting dress, and at a cheaper rate, will yet 
further contribute to their consolation and instruction, and 
the name of the Lord Jesus be abundantly glorified. 

Surrey Parsonage, Jan. 11, 1841. 




Madam : — It is not without cause that an ancient doctor of 
the church, not less celebrated for the sanctity of his manners 
than for the graces of his eloquence, formerly complained that 
the apostle Paul was not known by christians as he ought to 
be* For the writings of this holy man are so replete with 
heavenly wisdom, that they would suffice to produce in us 
perfect piety, if we read them with suitable assiduity and at- 
tention. He explains the mysteries of faith ; he treats of the 
duties of life ; he expatiates on the consolations of the Spirit ; 
he represents the whole nature of the christian conflict in so 
admirable a manner, that there is no soul so ignorant that he 
cannot instruct ; so vile, that he cannot subdue ; so profane, 
that he cannot sanctify ; so afflicted, that he cannot console ; 
nor so cowardly, that he cannot awaken and fill with courage. 
I well know that the worldly-minded complain of the difficulty 
of his doctrine, and the refined, of the harshness of his lan- 
guage. But both these excuses are but the false pretexts of 
the idleness and malice of mankind. The depth of those mines 
where nature has hidden gold and silver does not prevent our 
digging into them with infinite labour, nor the distance of the 
Eastern coast our going thither through a thousand dangers in 
search of pearls. Here, where the question is of heavenly 
treasures, incomparably more precious than all those of earth, 

* Chrysostom, on the Epistle to the Romans. 


the same persons are discouraged, on account of a little diffi- 
culty in opening the casket wherein this treasure is enclosed. 
Besides, it is certain that the obscurity of which they accuse 
this great man arises almost entirely from the real aversion 
they feel towards the holiness of his doctrine, which the cor- 
ruption of their passions prevents them from relishing. " If 
his gospel be hid, it is hidden from those who perish, whose 
understanding the god of this world hath blinded," 2 Cor. iv. 
3, 4. And as to the bluntness of which they accuse his lan- 
guage, I acknowledge that the ornaments of worldly eloquence 
are not to be found in it. He has despised all that artifice, as 
unworthy of the greatness of his office, and of the dignity of 
his design, contenting himself with a popular form of speech, 
very different from the air of the schools and the rhetoric of 
the age. But it is a lamentable refinement which would lead 
us to disdain the most delicious food, under the pretext that it 
is offered to us in earthen dishes ; or precious stones, because 
they are presented to us in a wooden casket. The simplicity 
of the apostle's language in no degree lessens the price of the 
holy truth which is there offered to us, and the gold of his 
divine thoughts is not the less precious nor the less salutary 
because it is contained in an earthen vessel. Besides which, I 
am sure that those to whom this apostle is familiar will not 
allow that his writings are so coarse as the profane pretend. 
If they have not the graces of earth, they have those of heaven ; 
and although the labour of human art no where appears, an 
original simplicity and vigorous beauty shine throughout, 
arising from the majesty of the things themselves, and from 
the elevation of the thoughts of this divine writer. You know 
it, madam, having from the beginning been instructed in this 
holy reading, and having happily drawn from it, throughout 
the whole course of your life, the fruits of that edification and 
consolation which are therein presented to us by the Holy 
Spirit. This has led me to believe that you will not find this 
book disagreeable, since Paul is its author. For I have therein 
endeavoured, madam, to explain the first two chapters of the 
Epistle which he formerly wrote to the Philippians, and which 
divine Providence has preserved entire in the treasury of the 
church for the good of christians. I acknowledge that so rich 


a work deserved the labour of a better hand, and that if there 
has been rashness in undertaking it, there is still more in pub- 
lishing it. But whatever feeling I may have of my own insuf- 
ficiency, the approbation and the desire of the faithful, who 
have already heard these meditations from my mouth in the 
church where I officiate, have given me courage to bring them 
to light. I assume then the boldness of addressing them to 
you, madam, and of placing your illustrious name at the head 
of them, and I shall esteem myself happy, if, after having made 
the trial, you shall judge them capable of affording some edifi- 
cation to good and pious minds. However that may be, I 
promise myself, madam, both from your singular piety, and 
from the kindness with which you have graciously honoured 
me, that if the present work be unworthy of you, its little 
value will not prevent you receiving it with a favourable eye, 
and accepting the respectful affection with which I offer it to 
you. This favour will oblige me more and more to implore 
the Creator that he would bless you and preserve you to his 
glory, and to our consolation, with my lord your husband, in 
perfect prosperity, and to remain inviolably, 
Your very humble and very obedient servant, 

Paris, Nov. 12th, 1643. 





VERSE 1-6. 

Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints 
in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and 
deacons : Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, 
and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every 
remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you 
all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel 
from the first day until now ; being confident of this very thing, 
that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it 
until the day of Jesus Christ. 

Among the advantages which God has given to man above 
animals, there is scarcely one more wonderful, or which more 
clearly shows the excellence of our nature, than the invention 
and use of letters. Thus we read that the people of that new 
world which was discovered in the time of our fathers found 
nothing more astonishing than this art ; not being able to com- 
prehend how a small sheet of paper, marked with a few lines 
and figures, was capable of revealing to a man the secrets of 
another, absent many leagues from him ; and previously to 
having learned the meaning, they imagined that there must 
be some spirit or divine virtue enclosed in the character of the 
letters, to produce so admirable an effect. What would they 
have said, had they known that this invention not only com- 
municates to us the conversations and the thoughts of the 



absent, but even of the very dead ; and, in spite of the dis- 
tance of times and places, renders those present to us, whom 
not only many climes, but also many ages, have removed from 
us by an almost infinite space ? that it makes them speak some 
thousands of years after their death, and even in countries 
where they had never been during their life ? By the blessing 
of letters they still live, although in the tomb, and converse 
with many more persons since death has destroyed their 
tongues, than they did during the whole period in which they 
had the entire use of them. As the holy apostles of the Lord 
Jesus have carefully made the most of every kind of endow- 
ment for spreading the gospel of their Master throughout the 
world, they have not failed to avail themselves of this also, 
multiplying by the pen both their preaching and their presence, 
and sending in their letters, as it were, types of themselves 
into those places where some causes had prevented their going 
in person. It is from hence that we possess the fourteen di- 
vine Epistles of the apostle Paul, written on sundry occasions 
to the churches, and to the faithful, with whom his absence did 
not permit him to converse by the living voice. Thus you see 
that, while he was a prisoner in Eome, he wrote to some of 
those beloved churches which he had established in Asia and 
in Greece, watering with his pen that which he had planted 
with his tongue. Although absent, and in the chains of Nero, 
still by means of his letters he did not cease to preach, and to 
exercise his apostleship, in those places where he could not be 
present. By them he lives and preaches still in the midst of 
us : they have extended the presence and the intercourse of 
this holy man throughout all climates and in every age. 
Among the churches on whom he conferred this favour, that 
of the Philippians was not the least considerable. Having 
chosen the Epistle which he wrote to it to be henceforth, if it 
please the Lord, the subject of these discourses, I feel myself 
obliged, in the first place, to make you acquainted with the 
circumstances that occasioned it. Philippi was a city of Ma- 
cedonia, on the frontiers of Thrace, built by Philip, the father 
of Alexander the Great. This name rendered it celebrated 
from the beginning. But since that time it has become much 
more famous, on account of the two bloody battles which the 
Romans fought on its plains, in one of which Julius Caesar, 
the first emperor of the Romans, conquered Pompey, and in 
the other, Augustus, the son and successor of Julius, defeated 
Brutus and Cassius. Luke tells us, in the 16th chapter of 
Acts, that Paul having passed from Asia into Macedonia, by 
order of a heavenly vision, Philippi was the first town where 
he sowed the seed of the gospel, with such success that he there 
gained Lydia with her family, and many others, whom he 
afterwards confirmed in the faith by his miracles and by his 


sufferings. For he there publicly closed the mouth of devils ; 
and having been brought before the magistrates and scourged 
with Silas for the name of Jesus, he enlightened with celestial 
brightness the darkness of the prison itself in which they were 
placed. And although the magistrates drove him from the 
town, still his word, his blood, and his works were so effica- 
cious, that he left there a good company of christians. Whilst 
this happy church thus grew at Philippi, Paul pursued his 
conquests by founding others elsewhere, at Thessalonica, at 
Berea, at Athens, at Corinth, and at Ephesus, planting the 
cross of his Master in all the provinces of Greece. But the 
devil, envying his success, excited against him the rage of the 
Jews, who, not being able to put him to death in Jerusalem, 
accused him before the Eoman governors of the country ; and 
after a long captivity in the city of Cesarea, he was finally 
sent to Rome to be judged by the emperor ; there he remained 
for some years a prisoner. The church of the Philippians, re- 
membering what they owed to their master, visited him in his 
bonds, despatched Epaphroditus (who appears to have been 
their pastor) express to Rome, to inquire after him, and to dis- 
pense to him some fruits of their charity, rightly judging that, 
in so sad a situation, he would require assistance both for the 
necessities and comforts of life. Epaphroditus acquitted him- 
self of his commission, and informed the apostle of the state 
of the Philippians, and of the assaults directed against their 
faith by the false teachers among the Jews, who tried to cor- 
rupt the gospel, and to mix Moses with Jesus Christ. He as- 
sured him of the constancy of his converts, and of their per- 
severance in his doctrine, and was detained some time with the 
apostle by a serious illness with which the Lord visited him. 
When he recovered, Paul sent him back to Philippi, and 
charged him with this Epistle, where, after having commended 
their piety and their zeal, to strengthen them in this good way, 
and to fortify them against the temptations of the enemy, he 
addressed various exhortations and necessary remonstrances to 
them. In the first place, he declares his cordial affection 
towards them 5 he speaks to them of himself, and of his bonds ; 
he conjures them not to lose courage from the extreme dangers 
in which they saw him; shows them that his imprisonment 
only promoted the glory of the gospel ; and incited them by 
his example to prepare themselves for similar combats. And 
because ambition is the mother of discord, which opens the 
door to false doctrine, and to scandals, he powerfully exhorts 
them to humility in the 2nd chapter, proposing to them the 
admirable example of Jesus Christ ; and, to console them, he 
promises very soon to send Timothy to them, hoping shortly 
himself to follow, and excusing the delay of Epaphroditus, on. 
account of his illness. In the 3rd chapter he attacks the false 


teachers among the Jews, opposing to the pretended utility of 
their circumcision the fulness of Jesus Christ, and to their pride 
and ostentation the advantages of his own birth according to 
the flesh, of his former conversation in the profession of the 
law, and the holiness of his present life ; warning them that 
the only object at which we all ought to strive is, that we may 
have part in the death and in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 
Finally, in the last chapter, after having briefly, but ardently, 
exhorted them to a persevering and earnest pursuit after sanc- 
tification, he thanks them for their charity, and finishes, as 
usual, by prayers for their welfare, and by the remembrances 
of the believers who were at Rome. This, dear brethren, is 
the occasion and subject of this Epistle. May God, who in- 
spired his apostle to write it, give us grace, to me to explain 
it, and to you to hear it, honestly, and in a christian-like spirit, 
to the glory of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, and to our com- 
mon joy and edification. Amen. 

Upon the present occasion, in order that I may give you a 
distinct understanding of the verses which you have heard, I 
shall, with the blessing of God, consider three points in them : 
First, the inscription, or address, of the Epistle, contained in 
the first two verses. Secondly, The thanksgiving and prayers 
of Paul to God for the Philippians, in the three following 
verses. And finally, The assurance that he felt of their fu- 
ture perseverance ; this he sets forth in the last verse of our 

1. The inscription of the Epistle, the first of these three 
points, is contained in these words; "Paul and Timotheus, the 
servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which 
are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons :" to which I 
shall join the following salutation, usual in the Epistles of this 
apostle ; " Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, 
and from our Lord Jesus Christ." Paul, the author of this 
Epistle, is so well known to you, that it is not necessary that 
I should stop to describe him ; besides which, we shall here- 
after have occasion on the third chapter to speak of the prin- 
cipal circumstances of his condition, both before and after his 
conversion. He does not here mention his quality of apostle, 
which shines in the titles of the greater number of his other 
Epistles, and in my opinion for two reasons : first, because his 
dignity was well known to the Philippians to whom he wrote ; 
secondly, because he associates himself with Timothy in this 
place, and wrote not only in his own name, but in that of this 
disciple also, to whom the quality of apostle did not belong. 
He therefore assumes a title which was common to them both, 
viz., that of " servants of Jesus Christ." It is true, that in a 
certain sense this title belongs to all christians, inasmuch as it 
signifies generally the subjects of the Lord, who owe him, and 


vield to him, an absolute subjection. For as lie lias not only 
created us, but has moreover redeemed us with his blood, it is 
clear that we are his subjects by a double right. But I am 
of opinion that Paul here uses the word " servants " in another 
sense, meaning the ministers and officers of Jesus Christ, whom 
he has established in a certain charge over his flocks, to govern 
and to feed them, in the same way as Moses, Aaron, Samuel, 
and many others, are usually called servants of God, in the 
ancient scriptures, by reason of the offices which they exer- 
cised in Israel. In this sense, the word " servant of Christ " is 
rather a name of dignity than of subjection, and is employed 
to recommend and extol the quality of those to whom it is 
given, rather than for the purpose of abasing them, and re- 
ducing them to an equality with others, and only belongs to 
those who exercise some authority in the church : such were 
Paul and Timothy ; the first, the apostle of the Lord, which is 
the highest dignity in the church; the latter, evangelist and 
prophet, which was the second after the apostleship. He ad- 
dresses his Epistle generally to the whole body of the church 
at Philippi, and then particularly to those who guided it, who 
have since been called " the clergy," to distinguish them from 
the people. 

He calls the former " all the saints which are at Philippi ;" 
that is to say, all the faithful. For you know that, in the 
style of the apostles, the name of saint is given generally, to 
all true christians : in the first place, because God has separated 
them from other men by his calling, thus drawing them into 
communion with his Son ; and secondly, because he has puri- 
fied them by the power of his Spirit from the filth of their 
sins, giving them love and other christian virtues, in which 
true holiness consists : thus you see how entirely contrary to 
sense, and to the doctrine of the apostles, is the opinion of 
those who reckon among the true members of the church, the 
wicked and the worldly-minded, who are disguised under a 
false profession of Christianity. But as St. Paul addresses 
this Epistle to all the faithful at Philippi, expressly distin- 
guishing them from the bishops and deacons, it thus appears 
clear that his intention is, that all true christians, whatever 
may be their condition in the church, should read his divine 
letters in opposition to the presumption of those who deny 
them to the people. Believers, enjoy boldly the right which 
Paul has given you in his writings. Search and study 
them carefully. You are not less the people of the Lord than 
were the Philippians. But learn also in this place how very 
high is the rank of christians which is here given you. It 
belongs alone to the saints. If your conscience convicts you 
of having no part in so excellent a name, on account of the 
sinfulness of your life, with which holiness is incompatible, 


"be sure that neither are you christians; and having day and 
night at heart this true saying of the apostles, "If any man 
have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his," Rom. viii. 9, 
cleanse yourselves from all the spots of vice, and yield your- 
selves unto holiness, allowing yourselves to be guided in all 
your ways by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, who is its only 

As to those who ruled over the church of the Philippians, 
the apostle calls them " bishops and deacons ;" comprising 
under the word " bishops " all the pastors and teachers who 
laboured in the word, whether in teaching, exhortation, cate- 
chizing or consolation ; and under the name of " deacons " 
those who had the charge of the tables, and of the poor, and 
administered the consecrated alms, according to the distinc- 
tion of officers in the church which the apostles had estab- 
lished in the beginning, as we read in the Acts. It is true 
that at present, and for many ages past, the word " bishop " is 
taken in a different sense throusrhout Christendom, for him 
who presides over one church, and over all its clergy, exerci- 
sing therein a special authority. But here Paul evidently 
takes the word "bishop" otherwise. For he puts many 
bishops in one church, whereas, according to the usual mean- 
ing of the word, it can have but one. And truly it is clear 
from this and from many other passages, that in the time of 
the apostles the words bishop and presbyter, that is to say, 
elder, signified one and the same office, that which we now 
call the holy ministry ; and it does not appear, from any part 
of the New Testament, that in the first century there was any 
other dignity in the usual ministry of the church above that. 
Jerome long ago made this judicious remark in many parts 
of his works, concluding that the presbyter and bishop are by 
right equal, according to the first apostolic institution ; and 
that the difference which there is at present has been since 
established to preserve order and unity, being consequently 
but of arbitrary and human, and not of divine appointment. 
I acknowledge that in the assembly of the ministers of each 
church it is needful, to avoid confusion, that there should be 
one to preside. But this prerogative does not prevent his 
colleagues or brethren from being equal to him in reality, as 
it respects the authority of government. 

And, in the first place, let us learn here in general how dan- 
gerous it is to depart, however little, from the discipline and 
language of the apostles. For this word " bishop " having 
been taken differently from what -they intended, and having 
been individually given to the presidents of each college of 
ministers, has made them imagine that they were greater than 
their brethren ; and this first error has produced an infinity 
of others ; the metropolitans having by degrees encroached 


upon the dignity of the bishops, as the bishops had done on 
that of ministers or presbyters ; and the patriarchs having 
afterwards elevated themselves above the metropolitans; until 
at last, by many artifices, and much adroitness, the Roman pre- 
late has drawn to himself all that authority which the others 
had usurped in the church, and even more. May so sad and 
fatal an event render us wise to keep ourselves constantly and 
faithfully to the institutions of God, without attending to the 
discourses of those who so earnestly strive to make us ac- 
knowledge a pope in the church of Jesus Christ. 

Let us also learn, by this example of the church of the 
Philippians, what and how marvellous was the efficacy of the 
apostolic preaching. For when Paul wrote this Epistle to 
Philippians, it was only about nine or ten years since he 
had first preached the gospel there. In this little time faith 
and piety had made such progress, notwithstanding the opposi- 
tion and contradiction of the pagans and Jews, that there 
was already a church sufficient to occupy many bishops and 

After this address, the apostle salutes them with his usual 
benediction, " Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our 
Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ." He has good reason 
in the first place, to desire that they may have " grace," that 
is to say, the mercy and favour of God, as it is the only 
source from whence all kinds of blessings flow to us ; and 
then "peace," the precious fruit of grace, signifying by this 
word, according to the style of the Hebrews, great prosperity 
and happy success in all things ; in a word, felicity, and the 
abundance of every good thing. And it is from God the 
Father that he desires both the one and the other ; as he is the 
first author of them, without whose favour happiness itself 
would become misery ; so, on the contrary, his love converts 
misfortunes themselves into blessings. Thus his grace is the 
foundation of our happiness ; for if he be propitious to us, it 
is not possible for us to be unhappy ; and his peace is the 
very substance of our happiness. He calls himself "our 
Father," to show that what he desires for us are truly the 
favours and grace of God, in which our adoption consists, and 
which alone render us the children of the Lord. And it is 
for this reason he adds, "and from the Lord Jesus Christ;" 
not only that the Lord Jesus is God blessed for ever with the 
Father, having all things in common with him by his eternal 
generation, but also because he has been constituted Mediator 
between the Father and us, in such a way that we receive no 
grace from him but through the medium of his Son. For by 
his death he has opened that supreme source of blessing 
which was sealed and closed up by his justice, and of which 
the cross of Christ has removed the seals. He has received 


from thence all the fulness of the Father's blessings, to the end, 
that from thence, as from a common reservoir, they should 
be derived, and distributed to each believer in a suitable 

II. After this title and blessing, the apostle thus com- 
mences his Epistle: "I thank my God upon every remem- 
brance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all 
making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel 
from the first day until now." Masters of the art of elocution 
teach us that the business of the exordium (that is to say, the 
beginning of our discourse) is to gain the good will of those 
to whom we speak. In fact, as hatred, dislike, and indiffer- 
ence close the entrance into men's hearts, it is necessary, when 
we desire to persuade them, that first of all we should prepare 
their minds, and fill them with a favourable prepossession in 
our favour, so that our arguments may be received into their 
understandings. To this end the apostle labours in this and 
the following verses to the 12th. 

To revive and rekindle the good-will of his Philippian con- 
verts towards him, and by this means to render them more at- 
tentive and teachable, he tells them of his ardent affection for 
them ; he praises them, and declares the high opinion he enter- 
tains of them and of their piety, so much so that, beyond the 
past and the present, to which he bears the most honourable 
testimony, he even assures himself of their constancy for the 
future, which is the most excellent degree of virtue, and, as it 
were, its last and supreme perfection. He then testifies to 
them at once both the satisfaction that he received from their 
piety, and the love that he felt for them, by the continual 
thanksgivings and prayers which he offered to God in their 
behalf, in that they had so quickly and firmly embraced the 
gospel of his Son. This is the summary of the second part of 
our text. As to the thanksgivings that he offered for them, he 
speaks of them in these words, " I thank my God upon every 
remembrance of you for your fellowship in the gospel from the 
first day until now." For we ought to join these verses to 
one another, leaving out the one which is between the two. 
Instead of, as we have translated the words, " every time that 
I make mention of you," it is word for word in the original, " in 
every remembrance or mention of you;" which some interpret, 
"with an entire and perfect remembrance of you;" as if he 
would say, having you continually in my memory. And in 
this way the apostle protests to them the remembrance that he 
has of them, having them deeply graven on his memory, and 
having them always before his eyes and in his mind ; as we are 
accustomed to feel towards persons whom we tenderly love, 
nothing having power to efface their image or their name from 
our recollections. Though this interpretation may be just 


and warrantable, yet I do not think it should be adopted to 
the prejudice of the other, which our Bibles have followed, 
which is in truth the commonest and the easiest. "I give 
thanks to God upon every remembrance of you." As if he 
would say, that he never thought of them, but immediately he 
presented thanksgivings to the Lord. In which he shows us 
at once the happiness of the Philippians, his piety towards 
God, and his love for them. Their happiness ; for what and 
how excellent must have been the condition of these believers, 
who supplied the apostle with a continual source of satisfac- 
tion ! who were never recollected by him without obliging 
him to thank God, placing before his eyes nothing but victory 
and triumph, causes of rejoicing and thanksgiving ! But in 
that even he manifests his piety, for one of his chief feelings is 
to praise God, and to thank him for all the gifts that he be- 
stows upon men. A mean and malignant spirit is vexed when 
God communicates his favours to others, and instead of offer- 
ing him thanks, makes him complaints and reproaches. But 
a truly pious heart never anywhere sees the favours of its Lord 
without rejoicing, and blessing him for them. He is very hap- 
py that the favours which he has received should become 
common ; and the scripture particularly mentions the good- 
ness and generosity of Moses, in that he wished that all the 
Lord's people should prophesy. Believers, let us have this 
same affection, let us drive from our hearts all envy and mal- 
ice. Let us rejoice in the favours which God bestows on men. 
Let us never think of them without thanking him for them. 
Besides his glory, the love that we owe to each other would 
oblige us to do so; and that which the apostle bore to the 
Philippians appears clearly in this duty, which he yielded to 
God for them. For if he had not ardently loved them, he 
would not have been so careful thus to thank the Lord for 
their prosperity every time that he thought of them. 

He calls him " his God," as well for the remarkable provi- 
dence that he continually displayed for him in his Son Jesus 
Christ, as for the service that the apostle yielded him in his 
spirit, and for the lively feeling that he had of both. For 
though he be the God of all the faithful in common, every one 
of them in particular who would express the sentiments of his 
love, and the emotions of his zeal, may rightfully call him his 
God. As we read that Thomas, in the rapturous joy which he 
felt when he positively recognized the Lord Jesus through his 
rich grace, expressed his own emotion in suddenly crying out, 
" My Lord, and my God !" 

But let us look at the subject of these continual thanksgiv- 
ings which Paul gave to God for the Philippians : I thank my 
God (says he) upon every remembrance of you, because of your 
fellowship in the gospel, which ye have shown from the first 


day until now." Some unite these last words, "from the first 
day until now," with the preceding ones, "I thank my God;" 
meaning that, from the first day that the apostle had preached 
the gospel to the Philippians, he had always to that moment 
thanked the Lord for their faith and obedience ; and what he 
is about to say to us leaves us in no doubt that he had done 
so. But these last words being so distant from the former, and 
uniting so well with those that are nearest to them, it does not 
appear to me needful to separate them ; for by making them, 
relate to the fellowship which the Philippians had had in the 
gospel, the sense is easy and flowing, that from the first day 
that they received the word of God with faith, they had con- 
stantly retained it hitherto, without ever having disgraced 
their first obedience through any of the temptations to which 
they had been subjected. He praises them then for two things : 
first, that they had received the gospel ; and, secondly, that 
they had persevered in its holy fellowship until then. " Fel- 
lowship in the gospel," is to receive it and to take part in it; 
it is to embrace with a firm faith the doctrine of the Lord Je- 
sus, to unite in the society of his faithful people, and to enter 
by this means into the enjoyment of his favour. If you con- 
sider the previous and original state of the Philippians, 
plunged in the darkness of paganism, and living in the fellow- 
ship of demons, and in the society of idolaters, you will ac- 
knowledge that it was a wonderful miracle for them to be 
drawn from such a depth of filth, that they might enter into 
the fellowship of the gospel, receiving with alacrity a doctrine 
which was new to them, and which besides so violently op- 
posed their natural inclinations, and the sentiments and cus- 
toms in which they had been educated ; that they had not only 
yielded a favourable hearing to this divine mystery, but that 
they were resolved to become its members, renouncing their 
former belief and devotions, to submit themselves to the laws 
of the gospel, and to conform to so difficult and strict a disci- 
pline. But it was a still greater miracle that they should con- 
tinue in it, and in nothing relax from their original warmth, 
persevering constantly in the faith; neither allowing them- 
selves to be seduced by false apostles, nor to be moved by the 
sensual pleasures of their previous condition, nor to be shaken 
by the promises of their fellow citizens, who doubtless would 
not forget on such an occasion to use every effort to lead them 
back again into error ; nor finally, to be conquered by the suf- 
ferings of Paul, whom they saw excessively persecuted, and as 
it were reduced to a continual death, for the name of that Je- 
sus which he had taught them. All this touched them not. 
They courageously retained the gospel which he had given 
them, and continued in its fellowship till then ; a faith the 
more excellent, as it was so rare. For of those pagans to 


whom Paul preached the word of life, how few were there who 
had listened to it who did not make a mockery of its myster- 
ies, like those profane Athenians of whom Luke speaks in the 
Acts ! or who did not suspect him of extravagance, like that 
Festus, who said that his much learning had made him mad I 
or that the inflexible severity of his divine philosophy did not 
discourage, like that Felix, who sent him back much alarmed, 
saying that he would hear him another time ! or that the truth 
and wisdom of this heavenly doctrine did not provoke, as the 
Jews, who were mad with spite, and gnashed their teeth at the 
preaching of Stephen ! And of those who approved the gospel, 
how few were there who had the courage to enrol themselves 
under its banner, and openly to give their names to Jesus 
Christ ! And finally, of those who had received the word of 
life, how many were there whom the love of this present world, 
or the fear of persecution, had driven back into the world! It 
is therefore with good reason, my brethren, that the apostle 
here celebrates the faith and perseverance of the Philippians. 

But remark, I pray you, that he gives thanks for it to his 
God; from which we have two things to learn. The first is, 
that the true subject of our rejoicings and thanksgivings is the 
fellowship of the gospel. We read that an ancient pagan phi- 
losopher was so delighted with having found the truth of a 
certain proposition in geometry, that out of gratitude for this 
discovery he sacrificed a hundred bulls to his gods. And yet, 
notwithstanding, what was this truth which afforded him so 
much satisfaction, in comparison of that which the great and 
supreme God has revealed to us in the gospel of his Son, 
which is not only divine and heavenly, sublime, and elevated 
above our understanding, not only beautiful and wonderful to 
behold, but is also so entirely salutary, that with the highest 
possible knowledge it brings us life, and immortality, and 
eternal glory ! It is for this blessing, beloved brethren, that 
we must offer our thanksgivings and the "calves of our lips" 
to the Lord ; and bless him, not for what he has given us of 
the earth, of gold or of silver, of honour or of credit in the 
world, of light and intelligence in the mind, of strength or 
beauty in the body, all vain and perishable things, whatever 
they may say who, by a deplorable error, have made them the 
idols of their souls ; but that we have part in the gospel, and 
in the fellowship of Jesus Christ. That is the true happiness 
of man, and his only jewel; a pearl of inestimable price, 
which alone is worth a thousand times more than all the 
others put together. It is for having found it that we ought 
to prepare, not profane hecatombs, but our spiritual sacrifices, 
thanking heaven for it, making earth a sharer in it, and, like 
the woman in the gospel parable, calling in our neighbours, 
feasting them with it, and rejoicing in it w r ith them. The 


other point that the apostle here teaches us is, that God is the 
author of our faith and piety ; that it is he, as he afterwards 
says, who works in us with efficacy both to will and to do, 
according to his good pleasure. Otherwise, why did he give 
him thanks for the fellowship of the Philippians in the gos- 
pel ? If they owed this advantage to their own free will, it 
was to himself that he must give the glory. God is too just 
to wish that his altar should be adorned with the spoils of 
another, and that he should receive gratitude for blessings 
which he has not given. That his apostle gives him thanks 
for the faith of the Philippians clearly shows that their faith 
was a gift of his grace, and a fruit of his Spirit, produced by 
his seed, quickened and ripened by his rain and light. 

But besides this thanksgiving which the apostle presented 
on behalf of the Philippians for their fellowship in the gospel, 
which they had preserved till then, he lent them also the as- 
sistance of his prayers : "I pray always (says he) for you all, 
in all my prayers." See, I entreat you, my brethren, how 
admirable was the love of this apostle! Where is the fa- 
ther that has such an affection for his children? He prays 
for them, he prays for them all, without forgetting a single 
one. Whatever difference there might be between them, or 
however many, this holy man embraces them all in common. 
He does not pray once or twice alone, but always. Job 
offered sacrifices for his dear children once a week only ; this 
apostle so loved his own, that at all hours he offered up his prayers 
as victims. His love went still further, it obliged him to have 
nothing of his own, but to make them partakers in all that 
belonged to him, "he prayed for them in all his prayers." He 
offered none in which there was not a part for them. Oh, 
admirable and incomparable love ! This apostle was bound 
at Pome in a painful chain, for a cause that was hated, and for 
which he was to be judged at the tribunal of Nero, the most 
cruel monster that ever lived ; he was in the claws of this 
lion, and expected every instant to be devoured. Neverthe- 
less, his Philippian converts were so close to his heart, that 
even in this extremity he divides his prayers with them ; he 
makes none for himself in which he does not remember them. 
The iron, the fire, death, the end of this life, the nearness of 
another, the horrors of earth, and the delights of heaven ; the 
fears, the hopes, the passions, the emotions, and the thoughts, 
which arose within him in this situation, did not make him 
forget his Philippian friends. He has them at all times before 
his eyes; and however melancholy might be the situation in 
which he was placed, the remembrance of these believers re- 
joiced him ; he prayed for them with joy. This image was so 
agreeable to him, that it never entered into his mind, but it 
brought with it contentment and peace. From this, believers. 


you see the love which pastors owe their flocks, and with what 
care they are bound to seek their salvation, not only by the 
preaching of the word, and the assiduous exercise of the other 
functions of their office, but also by the help of their prayers. 
They should never offer any in which their sheep have not a 
part, and no business, accident, or danger can excuse them 
from this remembrance. They ought rather, so to speak, to 
forget themselves, than the souls which the Lord has confided 
to their charge. But, clear brethren, if we owe you our 
prayers, you also owe us yours ; the holy tie which unites us 
rendering the necessity of this duty equal on both sides. 
From whence it appears how earnest we should be in prayer ; 
for if we have no other subject than this mutual help that we 
owe to one another, it is enough to oblige us not to pass an 
hour without prayer. 

III. But I return to the apostle, who, after having declared 
his love and his cares for the Philippians, founded on the fer- 
vent piety which they had hitherto shown, adds, that as he 
was perfectly satisfied with their conduct for the time past, so 
was he assured that he should be so in future, which is the 
highest testimony he could render to their faith, and after 
which one cannot be astonished at his loving them so ardently; 
for besides the marks which they bore of Christ and of his gos- 
pel, he saw reflected in them, by an assured hope, the glory of 
the world to come, and the inseparable union of life, which he 
should one day have with them in the heavenly kingdom, 
" Being confident of this very thing, (says he,) that he which 
hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day 
of Jesus Christ." You know of what good work he speaks. 
It is the work or design of salvation, which begins here below 
by faith, repentance, and sanctification; that is to say, the love 
of God and of our neighbour, and all the duties dependent 
thereon. He calls it the "good work," as if he would have 
said, the good design, or good undertaking, supremely, because 
all the other designs of human life are nothing compared to 
the value of this. Either they are crimes, as the plans of 
avarice, of ambition, and of voluptuousness ; or they are van- 
ities, or at any rate things that are useless after this life, as 
those of study, philosophy, and such like. But as for piety, 
it is truly the " good work," the chief work of man, the happy 
and salutary design, useful in this world, glorious in the next, 
approved of God, and profitable to men. This work, as well 
as others which are of some importance, is not finished at 
once. It has many different degrees. And as you see that 
man is not formed in his infancy, but passes through several 
stages, which bring him gradually to perfection ; one polishes 
his memory, another sharpens his mind; this strengthens his 
judgment, and that embellishes his manners : so is it with the 


work of piety. For this new man, who must be brought to 
perfection, can only be so by various degrees. He has his 
infancy before he attains his riper years. As in the schools 
of painters, they first draw the figures with the pencil, and 
then add the colouring, giving them at different sittings and 
with much labour the last gloss of perfection, which in the 
studies of those which they adorn steals the senses of the be- 
holders ; so in the school of God, the faithful are begun, and 
the work sketched, and then they are polished and finished. 
Here this work is well begun, but it can only be finished in 
heaven. For both our knowledge and our love are always 
mixed with some defect whilst we are on earth, as Paul teaches 
us in many places, and particularly in 1 Cor. xiii. 9, 12, "For 
now," (says he) " we see through a glass darkly; we know in 
part, and we prophesy in part." We are the pencil sketch of 
the work of God, to which he daily adds some touch ; but the 
last finishing stroke we shall not receive till the great day of 
the Lord. This is what the apostle here very clearly shows 
us, in saying that " the good work begun in his Philippians 
shall be finished in the day of Jesus Christ." Thus he usually 
describes that happy day which shall finish time and com- 
mence eternity, because the Lord Jesus will then appear from 
the heavens in sovereign glory, to judge all men, giving to 
each, without respect of persons, a condition suitable to the 
course of his past life. For it is the style of the prophets to 
call " the day of the Lord " that time in which he will execute 
his great judgments, making to appear in a more illustrious 
manner than usual the justice and the power of his sovereign 
Majesty, to the confusion of the wicked, and the consolation 
of the faithful. 

Since then the Lord Jesus, constituted Judge and Prince of 
the world by the Father, will magnificently exercise this office 
at the last day, all that he has displayed of judgment in this 
age being nothing in comparison of what he will do then, it is 
with good reason that the apostle calls it " his day." But here 
arise two difficulties, which it is necessary to explain : the first, 
against what the apostle says, that the good work of salvation 
begun in us here below shall only be completed in this day of 
the Lord Jesus. For you will say to me, Will it not be fin- 
ished sooner? AVill not the happiness of those who have died 
in the Lord be perfected before then ? Some, to avoid this ob- 
jection, take here " the day of the Lord" to be the time at 
which he calls each of his servants out of this valley of tears, 
drawing them from it by death, that their souls may enjoy the 
repose which he has promised them. But this exposition does 
not accord with the style of the holy apostles, who always 
everywhere understand the last day of this age, when the uni- 
versal judgment of all flesh will take place, as " the day of the 


Lord ;" and it does not appear to me that there is any passage 
in the New Testament where these words can be otherwise 
taken, except in Eev. i. 10, where it appears that John, by " the 
day of the Lord," means the first day of the week, which we 
now call Sunday ; and in the same sense in Acts ii. 20, where 
Peter, in the prophecy which he quotes from Joel, means by 
"the great and notable day of the Lord" his first advent, fol- 
lowed by the dreadful judgments which he executed against 
the Jews, and not the second, in which all the people of the 
universe will be judged. Except these two senses, which can- 
not be the meaning of this text, I do not remember that "the 
day of the Lord" signifies any other thing than the last day, 
in the books of the New Testament. See 1 Cor. i. 18 ; v. 5 ; 
2 Cor. i. 14 ; Phil. i. 10 ; ii. 26 ; 1 Thess. v. 2 ; 2 Thess. ii. 2 ; 
Luke xvii. 24. 

Besides, no necessity obliges us to have recourse to this 
forced interpretation ; the proposed difficulty may be explained, 
without at all changing the ordinary signification of these 
words. What shall we say then ? Shall we take part in the 
error of those ancient teachers, even now followed by a great 
number of christians in the East, who say that the souls of the 
faithful, on leaving their bodies, are retained in I know not 
what imaginary places, without enjoying the sight of the Lord 
and his glory, where they cannot be received, as they hold, 
until the last day, and only after being reinvested with their 
bodies. God forbid. For we know that the condition of our 
souls shall be like that of our Chief, whose spirit, at its depar- 
ture from the body, was received into paradise, and carried 
there with it the soul of the converted thief. " We know," 
what the apostle teaches us elsewhere, 2 Cor. v. 1, " that if our 
earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a 
building of God," that is to say, " a house not made with hands, 
eternal in the heavens ;" and, as he teaches us afterwards, that 
if we are absent from this body, it is to be with Christ. But 
we will say, that although the souls of the faithful, on leaving 
this earth, are received into heaven, and there enjoy all the 
happiness of which they are capable in that state, and espe- 
cially of the sight and communion of God, and of his Son Je- 
sus, nevertheless, they have not yet attained the last point of 
their perfection ; they are not yet in the enjoyment of all they 
have desired and hoped; and where desire and hope are, there 
must still remain something to finish. Their body, their dear 
half, lies in the dust, and bears the disgrace of sin, being sub- 
ject to death, which is its wages ; their brethren, who form a 
considerable part of their mystical body, are still engaged with 
the enemy, and the confusion of this age yet covers and shades 
here below the glory of their Christ. The day of the Lord 
alone will fully satisfy their desires and their hopes. For it 


will restore to them both their own bodies clothed with im- 
mortal glory, and the rest of their brethren complete in union, 
and will draw aside every veil, and will dissipate every vapour, 
which now hides or obscures the light of the divine majesty of 
their Master, and will bring to sight all the treasures of eter- 
nity. From whence it appears that the progress of grace, and 
the operation of God in this good work, will extend even to 
this last day, which is precisely what the apostle means ; and 
this is the reason that he and his brethren refer us to this great 
day, putting it before our eyes, as the highest object of our 
hopes, and the absolute and entire accomplishment of that per- 
fection which we desire. 

The other difficulty which presents itself in this text is, how 
Paul could be certain of the perseverance of the Philippians 
until the last day, seeing that in so changeable a nature, and in 
the midst of so many snares and precipices, it seems as if no 
one could be certain even of the morrow. To which the reply 
is easy, that neither is it on the excellence of his nature, nor 
on the merit of his virtue, that the apostle founds his own as- 
surance, but upon the goodness and power of God, who does 
not save his own by halves, and well knows how to perfect his 
strength in their weakness. Seeing then the commencement 
of his work, the marks, the engraving, and the seal of his 
Spirit in these believers, the apostle very reasonably argues 
that he will finish his work. 

In conclusion, we have three things to remark: the first is, 
That he here attributes all the work of salvation to God, say- 
ing expressly that it is he who has begun, and who will finish 
it in the day of his Son ; so that we cannot without impiety 
give to another than to him the glory of any part of salvation, 
nor of any of the things belonging to it, from the first moment 
to the last. It is in vain that one would draw any distinction 
between the commencement and the progress ; God is the sole 
author both of the one and of the other : and as it is by his grace 
alone that we have begun, so is it also by it that we continue. 
The hand which has given us the first features of the royal 
image is the same that gives us also the rest and the last ; and 
to divide this between God and man, leaving him the glory of 
the first, and attributing what follows to ourselves, is as absurd 
as if we were to say, that truly it is the artist who first began 
or sketched a figure, but that finally it added the rest, and 
finished itself. If you acknowledge that we deserve nothing 
in commencing, because the beginning is a work of the grace 
of God, I do not see by what right you pretend that we merit 
any thing for what follows, seeing that the apostle declares to 
us, that the entire perfection, from the first moment to the last, 
is as truly the work of God as the commencement ; " he has 
begun (says he) the good work in you, and he will finish it in 


the day of Christ." Secondly, it must be remarked, That Paul 
presupposes here that God finishes his work in the day of 
Christ in all those in whom he has commenced it. Otherwise 
his reasoning would be absurd, and the assurance of perseve- 
rance which he draws from it rash and unfounded ; for if God for- 
sakes some of those in whom he has begun this good work, 
without finishing them and leading them to the day of his 
Son, that is to say, into the harbour of immortality, who does 
not perceive that the argument of the apostle would be useless, 
who, because he saw the beginnings of the work of God in 
these Philippians, concludes from it that he would finish it in 
them, as it evidently appears, and as he himself tells us ex- 
pressly in the following verse ? Thus the discourse of the 
apostle is good and pertinent, and unhappy is he who imagines 
that there is any thing incoherent or unreasonable in the writ- 
ings of this holy servant of God. Assuredly we must then 
say, that it is not possible that any of the truly faithful should 
perish, nor that any of those in whom God has commenced his 
work should not persevere, until the day of the Lord Jesus, 
according to the promise that he himself makes us in John x. 
28, 29, that " no man should pluck his sheep out of his hand ;" 
and to that with which the apostle elsewhere consoles the Co- 
rinthians, and in them all of us, 1 Cor. x. 13, "God is faithful, 
who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able ; 
but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that 
ye may be able to bear it." Finally, the third remark that I 
have to make on this place is, That in the application of this 
maxim to the Philippians, Paul presupposes, by a charitable 
judgment, founded on fair and legitimate appearances, not con- 
tradicted by any apparent reason, that what he saw in them 
was verily the work of God, that is to say, a true faith, and a 
true piety, and not a fiction, or a false semblance, or a vain 
colouring, like that with which the hypocrite paints himself 
outwardly. lie presupposes, I say, that in them, and only 
speaks of those who were thus circumstanced. If there were 
others, it is neither of them, nor for them, that his words are 

Thus, my brethren, have we explained the three points which 
we proposed to ourselves at the commencement of this dis- 
course. Assuredly we may say with truth, and without flattery, 
that we have reason to offer the same thanksgivings to God for 
your church, that Paul here gives for that of the Philippians. 
She also has received the faith with readiness and joy ; she also 
has had her Lydias, who not only have heard the heavenly 
word with a heart opened by the hand of God, who not only 
have lodged the saints and received Jesus Christ beneath their 
roof, but who have even sealed the truth with their blood. 
She has also held the fellowship of the gospel, from the first 


day until now, persevering continually in this holy profession, 
in spite of temptations of every kind, with so much the more 
glory, that there is hardly a place in the universe where they 
could be greater than in the one in which you live. Your 
fathers here have borne the iron and the fire, and you in the 
same place have resisted the charms and the seductions of the 
world, which are not less dangerous trials. False teachers 
have not corrupted you ; their colourings and their illusions 
have not dazzled you; and wherever have arisen, whether 
from within or from without, those who would wish to per- 
suade you to be other than evangelical, you have generously 
despised their sensual counsels. You have hitherto preserved 
the gospel pure and entire, and have not been induced to mix with 
it any human tradition. After so many different assaults, and 
such trying seasons, you are still standing by the grace of the 
Lord. And I dare add, with the apostle, that he who has be- 
gun this good work in you, will perfect it till the day of Jesus 
Christ. It is not in vain that he has rescued you from so 
many troubles, saved you from so many shipwrecks, gathered 
you together again after so many dispersions, and preserved 
you miraculously amidst so much confusion. Beloved breth- 
ren, as his benefits are conspicuous on you, there being very 
few flocks in the world on which his protection and his fa- 
vours have shone more magnificently than on you, may 
your acknowledgment also be as remarkable among christians. 
Let your gratitude appear, not less than his grace. It is not 
enough, believers, to thank him in words, and to say Amen to 
the praises and benedictions which we here solemnly render 
him in our holy assemblies. The thanks that he expects from 
you, and which you truly owe him, are, that for the grace 
which he has given you, you should earnestly desire his glory ; 
that you should walk in the light with which he illumines 
you ; that you should follow the guide which he has given 
you ; that you should entertain an ardent love towards your 
brethren, his servants, as he has had an infinite love for you ; 
that your manners should be conformable to his doctrine ; and 
that your life should not be less evangelical than your faith. 
If there are blemishes among you, efface them by a deep re- 
pentance. If you perceive in yourselves passions burning 
which are unworthy of this Christ whom you adore, and of this 
gospel that you embrace, extinguish them quickly. Amend, 
and sanctify yourselves. Purify your hearts from all evil affec- 
tions, and study all sorts of christian virtues. By so doing, 
beloved brethren, you will advance the glory of the Lord, you 
will establish the consolation of your consciences before him, 
you will procure the salvation of your neighbours, and you 
will increase our joy, and the assurance that we take, that He 
who has begun this good work in you will perfect it in the 


day of Jesus Christ. May he himself accomplish the hope 
that we have of it, and hear the prayers that we contiriuallv 
present to him to this effect. And to him, with the Son, and 
the Holy Spirit, the only true God, blessed for evermore, be 
all honour, praise, and glory, world without end. Amen. 
Preached at Charenton, 20th Nov. 1639. 


VERSE 7 — 11. 

Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have 
you in my heart ; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the de- 
fence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my 
grace. For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all 
in the bowels of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love 
may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judg- 
ment ; that ye may approve things that are excellent ; that ye 
may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ ; being 
filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, ■ 
unto the glory and praise of God. 

It is an objection commonly made to our doctrine of the im- 
mutable security of the salvation of believers, that, in admit- 
ting the certainty of their perseverance, we render prayer use- 
less, and as unreasonable as if some one were to pray God that 
the sun might go from east to west, or that rivers might flow 
towards the sea, requests evidently superfluous, because these 
things happen necessarily, it not being possible that they should 
take another course. But the apostle, dear brethren, shows us 
clearly the unsoundness of this profane reasoning in many 
other places of his Epistles, as well as particularly in the verses 
which we have just read, where you perceive that this holy man 
presents most ardent prayers to the Lord for these same Phil- 
ippians, of whose perseverance he had a full persuasion. After 
having said to them in the foregoing verses, "Being assured 
of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in 
you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ," he does not 
cease, notwithstanding, to ask of God that their " love may 
abound yet more and more," and that they "may be sincere 
and without offence till the day of Christ ;" an evident sign 
that he did not believe, as our adversaries do, that the use of 
prayers would be superfluous, where perseverance was certain. 
It is also evident that our perseverance in faith and in piety 


does not resemble that of the stars and the elements in the 
movements and conditions of their being; for they depend on 
the blind instinct of a secret and inflexible nature, which is en- 
tirely incapable of acting otherwise than it does. Whereas the 
perseverance of believers is a steadfastness and perpetual con- 
tinuance of faith, and piety, and other like perfections, which 
our souls neither receive nor preserve, but by the gift and the 
light of the grace of God. From whence it follows, that so far 
from excluding prayers, on the contrary, it requires, and ne- 
cessarily presupposes them. In fact, you see that those who 
have the fullest assurance are also the most ardent in prayer. 
"Who was ever more certain of victory than the Lord Jesus, 
the well-beloved of the Father, the Prince of our salvation ? 
and who was more assiduous than himself in this holy exercise 
of prayer? This Paul, who, certain of his salvation, defies all 
the powers of earth, of heaven, and of hell to rob him of his 
crown, yet for all that does not cease to pray continually to 
the Lord, from whose grace he waited for it with so much con- 
fidence. O let not, beloved brethren, this sweet assurance of 
your happiness, which the Spirit, and the word of your good 
Master have given you, render you careless of acquitting your- 
selves of so useful and necessary a duty. And to the end that 
your prayers may be acceptable to the Lord, form them after 
the model of these which the apostle addressed to him for the 
Philippians. He had before told them, in general terms, that 
he prayed to God unceasingly for them ; now lie declares what 
were his prayers, and specifies in particular what he asked of 
God for them. But first he sets forth in the 7th verse the rea- 
son on which he founded the assurance which he felt of their 
perseverance in the faith ; " It is meet for me to think this of 
you all," (that is to say, that God will perfect in you the good 
work which he has begun,) " because I have you in my heart ; 
inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confir- 
mation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace." He 
then protests to them in the following verse the affection that 
he bore them ; " For God is my record, how greatly I long af- 
ter you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ." And then in the 
three following verses of our text he tells them of the prayers 
which he presented to God for them ; " And this I pray, that 
your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and 
in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excel- 
lent ; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day 
of Christ ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which 
are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God." 
Thus, by God's grace, we shall have three points to trace in 
explaining this text: First, The reason of the assurance which 
he felt of the perseverance of the Philippians; secondly, The 
protestation which he makes of his affection towards them ; and, 
finally, What he asks of God for them. 


I. With regard to the first point; the part which the be- 
lievers at Philippi had taken in the bonds of the apostle, per- 
suaded him that they were truly the children of God, and that 
they would persevere steadily in the way of salvation to the 
end ; and it is necessary to remark, that he entertained so ex- 
cellent and honourable an opinion of their piety, not only 
from love or affection, which often by an innocent illusion en- 
hances the perfections of those we love, and makes them 
appear to us greater than they really are ; but he declares that 
even equity and justice obliged him to have so high an opin- 
ion of them; "It is meet that I should think thus of you." 
From whence it follows, that it is our duty to look on all 
those as children of God in whom the true marks of piety, that 
is to say, the works of christian sanctification, are conspicuous. 
I acknowledge that it is a silly and ridiculous charity to take 
for believers, simply because they profess to be so, those in 
whose lives we .see nothing but lewdness and vice, without any 
trace of true virtue. But, on the other hand, it is a most un- 
charitable and unjustifiable error to doubt the regeneration of 
those who live in a christian-like manner, and to attribute the 
correctness of their actions to hypocrisy rather than to piety. 
The believer, to be prudent, need not be unkind and suspi- 
cious. He ought to receive with joy and to reverence those 
who wear the livery of his Christ, and have the seal of his 
Spirit, wherever he meets with them ; and to embrace as his 
own all those who bear his image in this world, as persons who 
will have part in the other, and with whom he will one day 
possess a blessed immortality. But among these proofs of the 
Lord, which oblige us to recognize men as his members, that 
which the apostle had seen in the Philippians is one of the 
most certain, and the least capable of deception, namely, the 
fellowship that they had with him in his bonds ; which he ex- 
presses, as usual, with a striking emphasis and vigour, saying, 
" that he had them in his heart, participators with him of his 
grace in his bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the 
gospel." It is true that we ought carefully to remark all the 
good actions of believers, and to place the proofs that they 
have given us, whether of their piety or of their love, not in 
our memory alone, but also in our heart, in the most lively 
and dearest place of our soul, and there carefully preserve 
them, as so many most excellent jewels, to their praise, and our 
edification. But, nevertheless, in my opinion this is not all 
the apostle here means. His words go further, and signify not 
only that he has seen, or that he remembers, that the Philip- 
pians have partaken of his sufferings, but that he rejoices in 
his heart at their fellowship in his affliction; and that he con- 
siders them, not as witnesses or spectators, but as companions 
in his bonds, as laden with the same chain with which he was 


bound in the prison of Rome. These believers were at Phil- 
ippi, in Macedonia, and had neither been accused, nor arrested, 
nor banished with the apostle; so that to speak properly and 
precisely, and to look only at the effects and the things them- 
selves, it is certain that they were not his companions in his 
bonds. But to consider the circumstance otherwise, in its 
source, in its causes, and in the disposition of the minds of 
the Philippians, it is not less evident that they were partakers 
of the prison of the apostle, since they defended the same 
cause, placed themselves on his side, and were ready to enter 
into the same captivity ; since they favoured him openly, as- 
sisting him, and uniting themselves more than ever with him, 
supporting his chain to render it lighter to him, and bearing 
a part of it as much by the compassion and feeling they evinced, 
as by the charitable offices which they rendered him while 
in this situation. It is exactly what the apostle means, when 
he says "that he has them in his heart, partakers of his grace 
with him in his bonds." " What does it signify (says he) that 
I only see Epaphroditus with me in my prison ? I have you 
all in my heart. If my body is removed from your sight, and 
from your communion, my heart rejoices notwithstanding, 
and feels, with great consolation, the share that you take in 
my sufferings. I possess you all in this place, and see you 
here as bound with my chain, and consecrated by my affliction." 
It was not possible, my brethren, more magnificently to extol 
the love of the Philippians. For he gives it in some degree 
the name, glory, and crown of martyrdom, the last and the 
highest work of christian piety. And, in truth, the zeal and 
affection of these believers were worthy of very great praise. 
For it is much not to hide oneself when a christian is called 
to account for the sake of the gospel ; it is much when those 
who are in the same place where he is detained have the cou- 
rage to remain there, without withdrawing themselves from 
the danger by flight ; it is still more when they dare see and 
strengthen him, paying him the attentions of love on such an 
occasion. But it is much more than all this, to seek after him 
at a distance, to traverse the sea to console him, and not only 
not to fly away from the place of his prison, but to run thither, 
and to go many hundreds of leagues to declare themselves on 
his side. This the Philippians had done, when, having been 
made acquainted with the detention of Paul at Rome, they 
despatched Epaphroditus to visit and to minister to him on 
their behalf. Oh, admirable and truly heroic generosity ! 
How rare in the present day are the examples of such a zeal ! 
It is considered wonderful not to have abjured religion ; and 
not to have abandoned the gospel is the summit of our virtue. 
But remember, believers, that the precepts of Jesus Christ, 
and not the examples of men, ought to mould our actions. 


And if we cannot present ourselves as examples, let us follow 
these truly happy Philippians, who were so highly esteemed 
by the holy apostle ; let us also follow those primitive chris- 
tians who ran from all parts to the tortures and to the prisons 
of their martyrs, and assisted them with so much activity and 
liberality, that the pagans themselves were delighted at it, as 
we learn from church history. Never let us be ashamed of so 
good a cause, and let us ever consider it a glory to comfort 
and support all who suffer in so honourable a strife. Let us 
be as interested, and feel as much for them, as if we were in 
their place. The example of the Philippians, and the com- 
mand of the apostle in the Epistle to the Hebrews, require 
this of us: "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with 
them ; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves 
also in the body." Heb. xiii. 3. This sort of love is the 
truest and most genuine mark of piety that we can show to 
God and men. It is from it that Paul infers the perseverance 
of these believers to whom he writes. But conceive what a 
value it must bear in the sight of God and of his servants, 
since the apostle gives it the titles and praises of martyrdom. 
If you assist and comfort those who suffer . for the gospel of 
Jesus Christ, you are in their hearts, companions of their 
bonds, partakers of their troubles, and of their glory. The 
Lord will look upon you as his witnesses and his confessors, 
and will hold the works of your love as acceptable, as if you 
were to shed your own blood for his name. It is a martyr- 
dom without blood, and a confession without suffering, to 
render such services to the martyrs and confessors of the Lord, 
whenever the occasion may present itself. 

And in order that you may not be ashamed of their afflic- 
tion, consider what the apostle says of it, and by what names 
he calls it. " You have been (says he) partakers of my grace 
in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gos- 
pel." First he calls it " his grace," and then " the defence, or 
excuse, and confirmation of the gospel?' Oh, how distant is 
this language from the thoughts and opinions of the flesh ! The 
world looked upon this prison of the apostle as a disgrace, as 
one of the greatest disfavours of heaven, and as one of the 
hardest blows of its indignation. Paul, on the contrary, calls 
it "grace," and looks upon it as a singular favour from God. 
In truth, whatever the world may say, it is a great honour for 
man to suffer for the truth of God, to enter into the lists for 
him, and to support the majesty of his name at the peril of his 
life. On what nobler and more glorious account could he em- 
ploy his blood ? And if the children of this world look upon 
it as an honour to fight for their princes, and bless the wounds 
and the bruises which they receive in their service, and show 
them, and boast of them, as the dearest part of their glory, in 


what rank should we place the afflictions and the disgraces 
which we endure for the name of Jesus Christ our only 
Saviour, and our sovereign Lord? Is it not honouring us to 
choose us for such an occasion ? Is it not to testify that he 
esteems our valour and our fidelity, to mark us out for his 
champions in so great a cause? But besides the honour, let 
us not doubt that he will overwhelm those with his divine re- 
wards, who have lawfully acquitted themselves in so illustri- 
ous a duty : and that for the little breath or blood that they 
may have either hazarded or lost for the love of him, he will 
crown them with immortal life and glory, according to that 
true sentence with which in the gospel he consoles his faithful 
ones in their sufferings : " Blessed are they who are persecuted 
for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, 
and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my 
sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad : for great is your re- 
ward in heaven," Matt. v. 10-12. 

The apostle, by calling his bonds "the defence and confirma- 
tion of the gospel," shows us clearly what an honourable thing 
it is to suffer for the name of God. For the Lord has never 
made us a present, either more excellent, or more admirable in 
itself, or more useful, or more efficacious, whether for his 
glory, or for the salvation of men, than the gospel of his Son 
Jesus Christ. Now it is to confirm us in the truth of this 
divine doctrine that God permits the faithful to be persecuted 
by the men of this world. All the wounds that they receive, 
every drop of blood that they shed, in this warfare, are so 
many authentic seals which they publicly affix to the gospel 
of their Master. It is not that this heavenly truth needs the 
voice or the sufferings of believers to exhibit its divinity, as 
if it had not light enough in itself; but that which is not neces- 
sary for it is very useful for the infirmity of men, that the 
blood, and the faith, and the sufferings of the witnesses of 
God, should arouse them from their natural dulness, and force 
them to consider with attention what this marvellous rule is 
for which they do not hesitate to endure all that our nature 
most fears. In truth, the first and the last ages of Christian- 
ity have seen, by experience, that nothing so powerfully estab- 
lishes the gospel as the sufferings of the martyrs; from 
whence comes the ancient and true saying, which calls their 
blood " the seed of the church." Thus let us follow after Paul, 
assuring ourselves that what he then suffered at Rome served 
greatly for the advancement of the truth. His chain justified 
his preaching, there being no reason why he should have been 
willing to endure so long an imprisonment, in which he saw 
himself daily in danger of losing his life, if he had not been 
divinely assured of the truth of this holy doctrine. Christian, 


if you should ever be called to such a trial, be certain that the 
Lord is willing to take you for the advocate of his cause, 
and has committed to you the defence of his gospel. God for- 
bid that you should draw back, or that you should refuse so 
honourable an employment ; rather embrace it with a firm 
resolution, taking good care neither to betray by your silence 
nor your prevarication so holy and glorious a cause. Give 
courageously to God the testimony and defence which he 
demands from you. 

II. But the apostle, after having declared to the Philippians 
the foundation of the great opinion which he had of their 
firmness and perseverance in their religion, to gain still more 
their good-will and attention, protests to them, in the second 
place, the affection that he bore towards them: "God is my 
witness, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of 
Jesus Christ." You see with what care he assures them of his 
good-will ; not only employing for this purpose the authority 
of his word, but interposing also the witness of God, who 
knows the secrets of our hearts, without our being able to hide 
any thing from him. In truth, it is of great consequence to 
those whom God has called to teach, that the people to whom 
they minister should be persuaded of their love towards them ; 
it being evident that the words and actions of those by whom 
we think ourselves loved make quite a different impression on 
our minds, than the language or example of others to whom 
we believe ourselves indifferent. The name of God, which he 
here uses as a witness of his affection, shows us, contrary to 
the vexatious and unreasonable superstition of some, both an- 
cient and modern, that an oath is not absolutely forbidden to 
christians, and that it may be lawfully employed for the 
assurance of men, for their edification, in a serious, grave, and 
important cause ; such were the occasions in which Paul uses 
it, both in this place and in many others. For to call God as 
a witness to the truth of what we affirm, as Paul here does, is 
neither more nor less than a true and lawful oath. And who, 
when he thoroughly considers it, does not see that to refer 
this testimony to the Lord is not to abase or offend his name, 
but to honour it, in attributing to him the glory of an infinite 
wisdom and power, as well to acknowledge the truth of what 
we have declared, as to punish our crime in case we should lie. 
Thus the apostle here calls God as a witness of the affection 
which he had for the Philippians, as one who saw to the very 
bottom of the feelings and all the movements of his mind. 

He says that he longs for them, to signify that he loves 
them, according to the style of the Hebrew language, which 
thus changes the words, as naturally we love that which we 
long for. But he does not say only that he longs for them, or 
that he loves them ; he makes use of a word which signifies 


to long with vehemence, with an ardent passion, and, as we 
have translated it, "to love or to long greatly." I acknow- 
ledge that this great apostle, according to his incomparable 
love, embraced all the churches of his Master with a tender af- 
fection, and in general every individual in whom he saw the 
faith of the gospel shine; notwithstanding which, we must 
not doubt but that he had feelings of very peculiar affection 
for these Philippians, who, besides the excellent testimony 
which they had given of a rare and extraordinary piety, bore 
abundantly the marks of his own hand, being in some respects 
his work and production, as it was be who had begotten them 
in Jesus Christ, and planted the gospel in the midst of them, 
as Luke relates at length in the Acts. For it is an emotion 
natural to all men tenderly to love that which they have pro- 
duced, as they see appear, as it were, a part of themselves, that 
is to say, either their blood or their mind. Hence, as one of 
the first of the wise men of the world has remarked,* the 
great so much love their creatures, mothers their children, and 
poets their compositions. As then this church of the Philip- 
pians was a fruit of the apostle's ministry, which he had brought 
forth with many efforts and hard labour, and where he still 
saw afresh the traces of that word which he had preached, and 
of that blood which he had shed, to form Jesus Christ in this 
people, it is no wonder that he should feel this ardent love for 
them. But in order that they should not imagine there was 
any thing worldly in his affection, he adds, that he loves them 
with a cordial affection " in the bowels of Jesus Christ." Else- 
where he had been accustomed to say simply that he loved the 
faithful in Jesus Christ, to show the source from whence his 
love flowed, and the end to which it tended ; but here he has 
employed the word " bowels," (for it is word for word with the 
original,) " I long after you greatly in the bowels of Jesus 
Christ," to intimate that the love which he bore them was a 
profound affection, imprinted, on the depths of his heart, and 
like those tender emotions of nature which are felt in the 
bowels of every good mother towards her dear children. This 
is the meaning usually attached to the word "bowels" by the 
Hebrews when they use it in this sense. But the bowels with 
which the apostle loved the Philippians were those of Jesus 
Christ, and not of the world or the flesh. This love only pro- 
ceeded from the Lord Jesus and his cross ; it only sought his 
glory, and was regulated by his will. It was neither their sa- 
tisfaction, nor his convenience, neither the interest of their 
flesh, nor of his own, that had either lighted or supported this 
holy passion in his breast, but the gospel of the Lord alone, 
Christ only was its cause and its object. And this in truth, 

* Aristotle ia bis Murals. 


dear brethren, should be the rule of all the affections that the 
faithful feel, whether for their brethren, their neighbours, or 
generally for all other things, which they ought to love only 
so much as the interest of the Lord Jesus, the sovereign law 
of their life, commands or permits. But among all the affec- 
tions of christians, there is not one that the name of Jesus 
Christ ought more absolutely to govern than that of pastors, 
such as Paul was, towards flocks similar to the church of the 
Philippians. Pastors ought only to love or long for their 
people for Jesus Christ's sake, not for their own profit, or 
honour, or pleasure. God ! forbid that such shameful de- 
signs should soil so holy an affection. And as the laws of this 
friendship are reciprocal, you ought also, my brethren, to pro- 
portion in the same manner the affection that you have for the 
servants of God who labour amongst you. May nothing please 
you in them but the Lord Jesus. Love them with a sincere 
affection, whose whole foundation is in him ; because they are 
his ministers ; because they preach him, and form him in your 
hearts, and plant him in the minds of your children ; and not 
to please your ears, or for any other woi-ldly consideration. 

III. After the holy protestation of so ardent and so pure a 
love, the apostle declares to the Philippians, in the three fol- 
lowing verses, the prayers which he offered to God for them ; 
and this is the last and the longest part of our text: " And this 
I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in 
knowledge and in all judgment ; that you may try things that 
differ ; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day 
of Christ ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which 
are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God." Dear 
brethren, you see four principal articles in this prayer of the 
apostle, which we must briefly examine. For he asks, first, 
That their " love may abound yet more and more." Secondly, 
That they may have "knowledge and judgment to try things 
that differ." Thirdly, That they may be pure "and without 
offence, till the day of Christ." And lastly, That they may be 
" filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus 
Christ, unto the glory and praise of God." 

The first good that he desires for them is love ; and with 
good reason, for that is the highest perfection of the christian ; 
his most necessary ornament in this world, and the chief part 
of his glory in the next; the end of the gospel, and the soul 
of Christianity ; without which all other virtues are of no use, 
and cast but a vain brilliance and a useless sound, " like sound- 
ing brass, or a tinkling cymbal," as the apostle elsewhere 
teaches, 1 Cor. xiii. But he does not only desire that the Phi- 
lippians may have love, he desires that it may abound yet more 
and more in them. For this virtue, as well as the other parts 
of Christianity, has various degrees ; it has its beginnings, its 


progress, and its perfection. Its perfection rnav also be under- 
stood in two ways; either that which is absolute, and which 
we shall not have till we reach heaven ; or that which may be 
so* considered relatively, with respect to the present state, that 
is to say, the highest degree to which this virtue can attain in 
this life. The Philippians had love already, and even in a 
considerable degree, as it appears by the care they took of 
Paul, and the tender feeling with which they entered into his 
sufferings, the infallible effects of an excellent love. But the 
apostle, jealous and desirous of the accomplishment of their 
glory, supplicates the Lord that he would so bless them, that 
this divine virtue should not fade from the state in which he 
saw it in them, as happened to the Ephesian church, which is 
accused in the Apocalypse (chap. ii. 4) of having left her first 
love ; but that it should go on increasing in breadth and length, 
and spreading further and wider, both in and out of the church, 
the sweet perfume of its fruits. 

The second good which he asks of God for them is " know- 
ledge and judgment." On which you ought to know that it is 
word for word in the original, " that your love may abound 
yet more and more in knowledge and judgment," which may 
be interpreted in two ways. For first, the word " in " may be 
taken for "by;" a manner of speaking drawn from the Hebrew 
language, and familiar to the apostle, and to the other writers 
of the New Testament, as may be met with in a thousand 
places in their books ; and used thus, he wishes " that the love 
of the believers may abound by knowledge." Excellent sense, 
and a very evident truth ! for who does not know that love 
springs from knowledge, and that we have no more love for 
those things of whose beauty and merit we are ignorant, than 
if they had none at all ? and that piety especially we do not 
love but according as we are acquainted with it ? From whence 
it follows that our love will not be perfect in all points, but in 
heaven alone, where we shall see face to face, and not as in a 
glass darkly, or through a veil, as now. Secondly, the word 
"in" may be taken as " with," for it has sometimes this signifi- 
cation in the sacred books ; and it is thus translated in our 
Bibles, where we read, " that your love may abound yet more 
and more with knowledge and in all judgment;" and in this 
sense the apostle simply wishes for the Philippians that their 
knowledge may be increased, and abound yet more and more, 
as well as their love. It signifies little which of these two 
interpretations you follow, as they are both good, as you see, 
and conformable to the scripture ; while the first seems a little 
more flowing, and more suitable to the style of the apostle, as 
well as to the nature of the things of which he is speaking. 
However this be, both the one and the other mean and presup- 
pose that believers have knowledge and judgment. At the 


same time it is to be remarked, that the first of these terms,* 
signifies, not in general, some knowledge, whatever it may be, 
but a great and clear knowledge, when we know a thing dis- 
tinctly and assuredly, not weakly and doubtfully. The other 
term, which we have translated "judgment," properly signifies 
sense or feeling. But as the names of the bodily senses and 
their actions, sight, hearing, taste, and the like, are often em- 
ployed to express the faculties and spiritual actions of the soul, 
on account of the relation which subsists between these two 
kinds of subjects ; so to " feel," in general, is often taken for 
" understanding," and sense and feeling for judgment. It is 
very true, that in this place it appears the apostle wished to 
express something more, and by " knowledge " meant the ap- 
prehension of spiritual things, when we know and comprehend 
what is said to us in the divine word : thus by " feeling," he 
means the judgment that we make of them, when, after having 
understood them, we discover what is their nature and their 
value. Besides, when he wishes us "all judgment," that must 
relate to the firmness and solidity of our knowledge, and not to 
its extent ; that is to say, he intends that we should have, not 
a judgment in all things, as if none of the sciences were to be 
wanting in a christian, but a very entire and decided know- 
ledge of what God has designed to reveal to us in his scrip- 

But the more clearly to show us what this knowledge is of 
which he speaks, he adds the act and the subject to which it 
properly relates, and in which its use precisely consists, and 
its end; "that you may have knowledge and all judgment, 
that you may try things that differ."f It is the chief work of 
christian wisdom to be able to separate the true from the false, 
the useful from the hurtful, and, in a word, the good from the 
evil, notwithstanding the false and specious colours under 
which objects often present themselves to our senses ; to reject 
constantly the evil, however imposing and charming may be 
the face which it presents to us, and always courageously to 
retain the good, however sad and frightful may be the mask 
under which it is disguised. The Jews boasted of having this 
skill by the light of the law of Moses, which shone upon them. 
" Thou knowest" (said Paul to them) " the will of God, and 
canst try things that differ, being instructed by the law," Kom. 
ii. 18. But though their rule might contain the first rudi- 
ments of the knowledge necessary for that discernment, it is 
certain it did not give so clear, so easy, and so complete a rule, 
as is given us in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And here we 
have two remarks to make before we proceed further. The 

Eiriyvucrjs. f French translation. 


first is, That every christian, whatever may be his station in 
the church, should have an assured and clear knowledge of the 
truths necessary to his salvation. For Paul would not desire 
for us " knowledge and judgment," if these were not qualities 
needful for us as true believers. Add to which, that since it is 
by knowledge that love abounds in us, every one confessing 
that love is necessary for us, must also grant that knowledge 
is equally so. We also find the apostle desiring that we 
should be capable of discerning things that differ, which could 
not be done without the light of knowledge. From this it ap- 
pears how false is the idea of a christian as given in the Ro- 
mish communion, where they desire that he should have a 
faith which may rather be defined by ignorance than by know- 
ledge ; where they forbid him, if he be of the laity, to read the 
scripture ; where they only arm him with a faith which they 
call " implicit," which, without knowing the mysteries of the 
apostolic doctrine, without examining the ground of things, 
and without having any capacity to discern what is contrary 
to divine truth, defers to the judgment of others, blindly fol- 
lowing men, and yielding into captivity his whole reason to 
their pretended authority. Certainly if such were the charac- 
ter of a true christian, Paul ought to have desired ignorance 
for him as a necessary means of being happy, whereas, on the 
contrary, he prays God, here for the Philippians, and elsewhere 
for the Ephesians, (Eph. i. 17, 18,) and almost everywhere for 
other believers to whom he writes, that their knowledge and 
their judgment may abound, that the heavenly word may dwell 
in them abundantly, that the eyes of their understanding may 
be enlightened, that they may know what is the hope of their 
calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance 
in the saints. The other remark that we have to make is, 
That the wisdom of the christian relates to action ; for this fac- 
ulty of discerning things that differ, that is to say, of choosing 
the" good and rejecting the evil, which Paul here assigns as the 
end of our knowledge, evidently belongs to the understanding, 
which is called practical ; that is to say, the understanding 
which judges and fixes what to do, and which side to take in 
those things which relate to our actions. From whence it fol- 
lows, that all doctrine which is useless to the edification of the 
soul, and to sanctification, has nothing in common with Chris- 
tianity. For God does not feed us with empty science, which 
. serves but to divert our mind, but with solid truth, calculated 
to console our consciences, and to improve our conduct. From 
which you see what judgment we must form of that theology 
of Rome which they call scholastic, which is nothing but a 
bundle of thorns, and vain subtleties, and frivolous specula- 
tions, which no more touch the heart, nor instruct the soul for 
eternal life, than the demonstrations of Euclid on Geometry, 
or those of Ptolemy on Astrology. 


But I return to the apostle, who, after having given credit 
to the Philippians for an abundant love, and a knowledge ca- 
pable of trying things that diffei-, so as to choose that which is 
excellent, desires for them, in the third place, " that they may 
be pure and without offence till the day of Christ." This is a 
necessary consequence of his former prayers ; for it is know- 
ledge that produces and preserves this purity in us, not per- 
mitting the admixture of anything foreign or contrary to the 
truth of God. For it is that which, as a heavenly beacon, con- 
ducts and directs us in our paths, and by the aid of its light 
prevents us from stumbling. The purity which he requires 
in us doubtless signifies sincerity, simplicity, and openness in 
our conduct, the opposite of all fraud and obliquity ; but it re- 
lates also, I imagine, to faith and doctrine, signifying the in- 
tegrity and clearness of a faith which alone embraces the word 
of God, without being mixed or adulterated with any tradi- 
tions or human inventions. For you will see hereafter that 
these believers to whom he wrote this Epistle were inclining 
that way ; those false teachers among the Jews who so sadly 
troubled the christian church at its commencement, and par- 
ticularly corrupted the Galatians, having also beguiled the 
Philippians, so as to disorder their faith by mixing with it the 
law and Jewish traditions. The apostle having this in his 
mind, entreats the Lord particularly that he would fortify them 
with knowledge, and a judgment capable of trying things that 
differ, that they might preserve to the end, pure and entire, 
uncorrupted by the mixture of any strange doctrine, that holy 
faith which they had received from him. And to the same 
object must also relate what he adds, " that they may be with- 
out offence ;" that is to say, that they may happily finish their 
course, without turning from the right way, and without 
stumbling. For he who, having received the gospel, afterwards 
lends an ear to error, is like a man who, having begun a jour- 
ney or a race, stops, or turns aside, having met something on 
his road which prevents his going further. Paul makes use of 
this very comparison, to explain the fault of the Galatians : 
" You did run well ; who hath hindered you, that you should 
not obey the truth ?" But though the apostle may have had 
this particularly in mind, yet he certainly comprehends under 
this word "offence" every stumbling-block which delays, or in 
any measure troubles, the course of the christian in the paths 
of God, of whatsoever nature it be, whether in doctrine or con- 
duct. The Greek word of which he makes use may be under- 
stood, either of the offence which is given to others, or that 
which may be received from them. From whence it arises 
that some interpreters take it in the first sense, as if Paul 
would say that the Philippians might lead respectable lives, 
full of good examples, and in which none, either those within 


or those without, should meet with any stumbling-block, but 
all tending to edification. And it is clear that he thus em- 
ploys this same word in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, 
chap. x. 32, where he commands them to be such " that they 
give no offence, either to the Jews, or to the Greeks, or to the 
church of God." Others understand it of an offence that they 
suffer (if we may so speak) when they backslide, or when they 
stumble, permitting themselves to be conquered or overcome 
by some temptation. " Be without offence ;" that is to say, walk 
or run in these gospel lists evenly and constantly, without stop- 
ping or turning through the opposition or offences that you will 
meet with on your road. It signifies little, which of these two 
senses you follow, since after all they mean the same thing, 
and the second is comprehended in the first, no one ever per- 
mitting himself to be overcome by some temptation of the 
enemy without thereby giving occasion of scandal to his neigh- 
bours. His phrase, "till the day of Christ," shows us that it 
is not enough to begin well, if we do not persevere to the end. 
How many are there who have made shipwreck at the entrance 
of the port ! How many who fall at the end of their career, 
having, for want of two or three steps only, lost the prize of 
all the race ! Nevertheless, we must not subtilize on the apos- 
tle's saying " that we may be without offence till the day of 
Christ," as if he gave us to understand that there was always 
some stumbling to fear for believers, even after they have left 
this life, till the day of judgment. Paul speaks simply and 
honestly, and does not mean anything but that we should per- 
severe to the end without falling, having incessantly before 
our eyes the great day of the Lord, so that, at whatever hour 
it may come, it may find us neither lying down, nor cast down 
by the enemy, but standing, watching, and pressing forwards 
towards the end and prize of our high calling ; much in the 
same manner as our Lord promised his apostles " to be with 
them always, even to the end of the world," Matt, xxviii. 20 ; 
not to signify that they were always to live upon the earth ; 
but simply, that whilst they were upon it, he would always be 
with them, so constantly, that even should their lives endure 
as long as the world, never should his presence be wanting, 
not even to the last moment of their lives. 

There remains the fourth and last article of the prayer of the 
apostle for the Philippians, " that they may be filled with the 
fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the 
glory and praise of God." It is not enough, believing soul, to 
give no offence, you must edify ; it is not enough to abstain 
from evil, you must do good. As the perfection of a good 
tree is to bring forth good fruits, and not simply tbat it should 
not bear bad ; for according to that, those which bear no fruit 
at all might pass for good trees. Thus the praise of a christian 


is to lead a life which is not only exempt from vicious passions, 
and the corruptions of sin, but which moreover abounds in all 
kinds of virtues and good examples, which is covered and en- 
riched by high and holy acts, worthy of the great name of the 
Lord Jesus, by which we are called. This is why the apostle 
is not contented with beseeching God that he would preserve 
the Philippians from offence and shame, he also prays that he 
would fill them with the fruits of righteousness. For these 
fruits (as you know) are nothing else than those good and holy 
works which are commanded by the gospel, the beautiful and 
exquisite productions of thaE new and heavenly righteousness 
which the Lord Jesus has given us ; whether by righteousness 
you understand that sweet and immortal gift of his grace, which 
remits our sins, and reconciles us with the Father, that is to 
say, our justification, whose true and legitimate fruit is the 
love of God, of holiness, and of all the works which proceed 
from it ; whether you take righteousness according to the style 
of the scriptures, for benignity and beneficence, some of the 
most lively and fruitful sources of good works ; or finally, 
whether you understand by " righteousness " the practices of 
holiness, and of the new life which true faith creates in us, and 
which is commonly called inherent righteousness, although in 
truth the word used in this sense is rarely found in the holy 
scriptures. The apostle adds, that "these fruits of righteous- 
ness are by Jesus Christ," because he is their source and prin- 
ciple; the strength and virtue by which we produce them 
coming to us entirely from him. For, in the first place, he has 
snatched us from the soil of the world, or more properly of 
hell, where, like the plants of Sodom and Gomorrah, we bore 
but empty and useless fruits, and (which is still worse) those 
which are poisonous and deadly. He has transplanted us from 
thence into the paradise of God, into his church ; where, by 
the efflcac} 7 ' of his blood, his word, and his Spirit, he hath shed 
in us thoughts, hopes, and affections, totally different from 
those we had formerly, namely, contempt and hatred for the 
world and sin, admiration and love for heaven and holiness. 
All the fruits of righteousness which the apostle requires in 
us spring from that strength, and, as we may say, from that 
new mind, which we only have by the blessing and communion 
of Jesus Christ, drawing it from his root, as his new substance, 
since we have been grafted into him, and changed into his 
nature, becoming his branches and his boughs. 

But as Paul shows us its cause, he also discovers to us its 
effect and its end, in the following words : " These fruits (says 
he) are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God." It is 
very true that the believer ought to bring forth his works to 
this end, and to propose to himself the glory of God and his 
praise, as the object of his actions. And it is also true, that, 


for want of this, the action, however good and praiseworthy it 
may be in itself, becomes evil and defective, as not being di- 
rected to its true and legitimate end. But notwithstanding this, 
it is not what the apostle means in this place. It signifies dis- 
tinctly the end and success of good works, and not the design 
of those who perform them ; and means that if we are filled 
with the fruits of righteousness, which are in Jesus Christ, God 
will be praised and glorified thereby ; that the thing shall turn 
to his glory and to his praise, according to what the Lord said 
to his disciples, " Let your light so shine before men, that they 
may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is 
in heaven." For however corrupted the nature of man may 
be, nevertheless he cannot but love and admire the image of 
virtue and holiness, wherever it appears to shine clearly and 
with any lustre. Let him do what he will, it dazzles and 
charms him. When, then, christians show a life entirely 
covered with these divine rays, full of modesty, humility, tem- 
perance, love, kindness, and gentleness, without fraud, avarice, 
or ambition, we are constrained to give God the glory which 
belongs to him, and to acknowledge him for what he truly is, 
and praise him as all-good, all-wise, and all-powerful. It was 
thus that the first christians converted the world to their Lord, 
however contrary to its intention. And although sufferings 
have a great effect in leading men to this point, as we have 
already said, nevertheless, to produce this effect they must be 
accompanied, and as it were crowned, with the fruits of right- 
eousness and holiness, without which they have little or no 
power to change the heart to piety. 

Such, beloved brethren, is the prayer which the apostle pre- 
sented to God for his Philippians ; in which he teaches us that 
the work of our sanctification and of our perseverance in piety 
depends upon his grace, and not upon the strength of our own 
free-will. For if the Lord did not put all these heavenly 
virtues into the hearts of the faithful, Paul would not have 
asked them from him for them. Let us then address ourselves 
to him, and, following the example of his servant, entreat in- 
cessantly, by ardent prayers, that he would condescend to form 
us to his fear, and to work in us by the hand of his Spirit all 
those things which he commands of us in his gospel. But if 
we wish that he should hear us, let us pray as we ought, 
watching and working, giving ourselves to the study and 
practice of his word. Let us there seek first knowledge and 
understanding of his saving truth, and carefully form and in- 
struct our youth therein ; let us give ourselves no rest till we 
are capable of discerning things that differ, and of guarding 
ourselves from the illusions of the world, and from the artifices 
with which Satan paints vice and error. But let not this 
knowledge remain idle in our minds; let it display the strength 


of its light in our wills and affections; let it bring them cap- 
tive under the yoke of Jesus Christ. Let it root out the love 
of vice and of this perishable world. Let it plant all sorts of 
christian virtues ; and, above all, let it make us abound more 
and more in sincere love, both towards men in general, and 
particularly towards our brethren ; a love which pardons those 
among us who have offended, which helps those who suffer, 
with our alms, those who are in necessity, and with our visits 
and consolations, those who are sick ; with our instructions, 
those who have need of them, and all with the good example 
of a holy and innocent life. Let us not be weary in so glorious 
and profitable a work. Let us continue it courageously, pre- 
serving entire the deposit of the Lord Jesus until his great 
day, without the seductions of error being capable of altering 
the simplicity and purity of our faith ; without the debaucheries 
and allurements of vice being able to turn us from it, or to be 
stumbling-blocks in our road. Instead of the vices and scandals 
of which the world is full, let us only charge and ornament 
our life with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus 
Christ, each of us resembling that mystical tree of the psalmist, 
(Psal. i. 3 ; xcii. 15,) which is always green, and always crowned 
with fruits, even in its old age. Let us remember the curse 
which dried up the fig-tree on which Jesus found no fruit, and 
the judgment which he pronounces against every tree which 
bears none : " It shall be cut down, (said he,) and cast into the 
fire," Matt. vii. 19. May the fear of so horrible an end, and 
still more the love of our good Saviour, render us careful and 
fruitful in works of piety and holiness. It is the true method 
of promoting our own salvation, of softening those who are 
without, of edifying those who are within, of consoling the 
church, of converting the world, and (what ought to be dearer 
to us than the good of our neighbours, or even our own hap- 
piness) of procuring praise and glory to the great name of our 
God, who has created us by his power, and redeemed us by his 
infinite mercy. May he himself, as he is the sole author of all 
good, bless and powerfully sanctify us, and give us by his 
goodness what his holy apostle formerly asked for the Philip- 
pians, an abounding love, an efficacious knowledge, a right 
and incorruptible judgment, a constant purity, a perseverance 
without offence, and a life full of the fruits of the righteousness 
of his Son, which are by Jesus Christ, to his glory and our 
salvation. Amen. 

Preached at Gharenton, Sunday, 22nd Jan. 1640. 



VERSE 12 — 18. 

But I would you should understand, brethren, that the things 
which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the further- 
ance of the gospel: so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in 
all the palace, and in all other places ; and many of the breth- 
ren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more 
bold to speak the ivord without fear. /Some indeed preach Christ 
even of envy and strife ; and some also of good-ivill: the one 
preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add 
affliction to my bonds : but the other of love, knowing that I am 
set for the defence of the gospel. What then ? notwithstanding, 
every ivay, whether in pretence, or in truth, Clirist is preached: 
and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. 

Dear brethren, among the many things which offend men 
in the gospel of Jesus Christ, there is not one which more vio- 
lently annoys them than the cross imposed upon those who 
embrace its profession. Many, even of those who have heard 
and received the word with joy, have basely abandoned it as 
soon as oppression or persecution has arisen. And the gen- 
erality of these wretched people do not even wait till the evil 
is come upon themselves. They withdraw from the fellowship 
of the Lord as soon as they see it threatened with any storm. 
They listen to its ministers while they teach them in peace. 
But if the preaching draw persecution upon them, (as it often 
happens,) from that time they give up hearing them, and all 
connection with them, fearful lest intercourse with them should 
involve them in their disgrace. Though such sufferings are 
not able to overthrow true believers, nevertheless, at first they 
may be offended and staggered by them; Satan cunningly 
managing these opportunities to disgust them with the faith as 
an odious doctrine, and persecuted by all who are highest in 
the world. Paul, fearing that his chain might produce some 
one of these bad effects in the minds of the Philippians, his 
dear disciples, anticipates this objection, and represents to 
them in the text we have read, the glorious consequences which 
God had drawn from his prison ; showing them that it ought 
rather to strengthen than to trouble them, being such by the 
grace of the Lord, that he and they had more cause to rejoice 
than to be afflicted for it, and to glory in it rather than be 
ashamed of it. Besides which, setting aside this consideration, 
the love which he bore them, and the mutual affection which 
they testified towards him, also obliged him to acquaint them 


with such happy news, so suitable for their consolation. For 
in the heaviness which the affliction of their good master 
caused them, what more delightful and agreeable could they 
hear than the great success of his bonds, than his joy and his 
triumph in this hard fight, and the strength and courage that 
his example had given their brethren? It is therefore with 
good reason, that immediately after the preface to this Epistle, 
the declaration of his affection, and of the opinion which he 
entertained of their virtue, he begins with such good news; 
"Brethren, I would that ye should understand that the things 
which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the fur- 
therance of the gospel." And to show them more particularly 
how his imprisonment had served to the propagation of Chris- 
tianity, he adds, " that his bonds in Christ are manifest in all 
the palace, and in all other places, and that many of the breth- 
ren in the Lord, waxing confident by his bonds, are much 
more bold to speak the word without fear." But as those who 
had taken occasion from his bonds to preach the christian doc- 
trine had not all the same intentions nor the same design in 
this holy work, to the end that the good and the bad preachers 
should not remain mixed together, he has made a distinction 
between them in the following verses, giving to each the praise 
or the blame which they deserved in these words: "Some in- 
deed preach Christ even of envy and strife, and some also of 
good will : the one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, 
supposing to add affliction to my bonds ; but the other of 
love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel." 
After which he declares in the end, that whatever difference 
there might be between the affections and the courage of the 
one and the other, notwithstanding the effect and the purpose 
even to which they applied themselves, it gave him much sat- 
isfaction : " What then ? notwithstanding, every way, whether 
in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do 
rejoice, yea, and will rejoice." These are, as you see, all the 
parts of the apostle's discourse which you have heard, and, 
that we may clear up and explain them, we will treat (if God 
permit) in this sermon these three points distinctly, one after 
the other : First, That the event of the imprisonment of Paul 
was very useful to the furtherance of the gospel, it being under- 
stood that this was a circumstance which led many persons to 
preach the word of God in all the city of Eome. Secondly, We 
will remark the difference which he points out between these 
workers ; the one preaching from love and with a good will, 
the others from envy and contention. And finally, in the 
third place, The effect which their preaching produced with 
respect to Paul, that he received from it consolation and joy. 

I. To begin with the first point; the apostle tells the Philip- 
pians in general, that the things which had happened to him 


had led to a great furtherance of the gospel. Now there is no 
person but must see that, by " the things which had happened 
to him," he meant the prison to which he had been conducted 
at Rome, in consequence of the persecution which the Jews 
had raised against him in Jerusalem. Luke has given us the 
whole history of it at length in the book of the Acts, chap, 
xxi., xxvii., xxviii. This holy man was recognized in the 
temple by some Asiatic Jews, who had seen him in their own 
country, preaching Jesus Christ with admirable efficacy and 
zeal ; the people, excited by their accusations, rose seditiously, 
and having desperately seized him, would have torn him in 
pieces, had not the captain of the citadel, informed of this tu- 
mult, rescued him from their hands, causing him to be bound 
and kept in the fortress till he made himself acquainted with 
his crime. After which, finding that the rage of the Jews 
was so violent against Paul that he could scarcely remain in 
safety in the city of Jerusalem, he sent him to Cesarea, where 
he was consigned to the hands of Felix, a Roman officer, and 
governor of the country, who, whatever knowledge he might 
have of his innocence, detained him two years in prison, until 
he resigned his situation to Festus, who had been sent from 
Rome to succeed him in the office of governor of Judea. He, 
being desirous to gratify the Jews, was disposed to send Paul 
back again to Jerusalem. But the apostle, well knowing the 
fury and the plots of his nation, appealed to the emperor; 
and, in consequence of this appeal, was carried to Rome, 
where he arrived, after having encountered many dangers by 
sea; and being more humanely treated than the other prison- 
ers, was permitted to dwell in his own house, under the guard 
of a soldier, with liberty to receive there the attentions of hi3 
friends, and the visits of all those who wished either to see or 
converse with him. Such was the situation of Paul, at the 
time of his writing this Epistle. It was this long persecution, 
coupled with his present captivity, that he means by " the 
things that had happened to him," assuring us that the whole 
had rather served to advance the gospel than otherwise. I 
shall not enlarge on what he did in Judea, where his imprison- 
ment afforded him the opportunity of conversing on his doc- 
trine, first with Felix, and afterwards with Festus, governors 
of the country, and with king Agrippa, and Bernice his wife, 
the highest personages in the country, whose consciences this 
illustrious prisoner pungently touched; and if he did not alto- 
gether convert, he at any rate very much softened their hearts, 
and drew from them a testimony to his innocence. I shall not 
say anything either of the adventures of his voyage, in which 
he doubtless made a prudent use of every opportunity of being 
of service, to the glory of his Master, and particularly his 
miracles in the island of Malta, where his bonds did not pre- 


vent his making notable conquests, having gained there the 
principal man of the country, and almost all the people of the 
island. I come to that to which he particularly calls our atten- 
tion, namely, to the success of his imprisonment in Rome 
itself. And truly Luke, his faithful companion in all this voy- 
age, expressly declares to us, that, during the two years he 
remained in his own lodging, he preached the kingdom of 
God, and taught the things concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, 
with all boldness of speech, without any hinderance. As he 
never uselessly displayed the light of his doctrine and mira- 
cles, we cannot doubt but that this preaching was productive 
of much fruit, converting some, confounding others, and stir- 
ring up all who were skilful and inquisitive in this great city, 
by the clearness which all found in his discourses, spreading 
every where the glory of the gospel. Thus you see the chain 
of Paul in no degree impeded or retarded this holy doctrine, 
against the hopes of his enemies, aud the expectation of be- 
lievers, and contrary to the usual and natural appearance of 
things themselves. What! do I say that his imprisonment 
did not retard the gospel? It hastened and furthered its 
course, as he here declares, aud instead of restraining or weak- 
ening his preaching, it gave it greater extension and efficacy 
than it ever had before. In the first place, this chain having 
led him to Rome, placed him by this means on the greatest and 
most convenient theatre of the world, where he had the whole 
universe assembled in one place, and from whence he could, 
in a single day, speak to all the human race, instruct the idol- 
aters, edify the Greeks, teach the barbarians, convince the 
Jews, convert the humble, astonish the great, and in short set 
forth the wonders of his Christ to all people, to all languages, 
and to all sorts and conditions of men at once. For Rome 
was then the first city, and the mistress of the habitable 
globe ; the seat of the greatest empire that ever existed ; the 
abode of its sovereign, of the laws, and of its highest tribu- 
nals; the resort of all nations; and, in a word, a fine and ad- 
mirable abridgment of the universe. It was the heart of the 
world, from whence its manners, opinions, doctrines and cus- 
toms circulated into all the provinces, as from a rich and pub- 
lic source. And this was the reason why Paul had so ar- 
dently desired to go there, as he declares in the beginning of 
his Epistle to the Romans, and even had already planned a 
journey thither, as we read in the last chapter of the same 
Epistle; well knowing that there was no place in the world 
where the gospel could be more usefully preached ; and that 
Ephesus, Corinth, and many other celebrated cities which he 
had already honoured by his preaching, were of little account 
in comparison of Rome. Now that which the plans of his 
mind and the circumstances of his life had not yet enabled 


him to do, this chain, with which he had been bound in Jeru- 
salem, fully procured him ; so that if he had formerly fur- 
thered the gospel of his Master, by publishing it in the pro- 
vinces of Syria, Asia, and Greece, it is evident that he now 
furthered it still more. 

But besides the extension which this imprisonment gave to 
his preaching, it added to it a new degree of efficacy. For 
who does not see that the discourse of a man who preaches in 
bonds is much more noticed, and capable of making an im- 
pression on our hearts, than if at ease and liberty he broached 
the same doctrines? His very misery disposes us to listen to 
him, and commends to us the sentiments for which he has had 
the courage to suffer. We must not then be astonished at 
what the apostle adds, that this very disgrace had been of so 
much use in furthering the gospel, " that his bonds in Christ 
are spoken of in all the palace, and in all other places." He 
calls the prison in which he was at Rome "his bonds in 
Christ," because he had only been placed in it for the name of 
our Lord Jesus, for the profession he made of that name, and 
the zeal he had for his glory, and finally, for the faithful ser- 
vice he yielded him in this sacred ministry of the apostleship, 
with which he had been honoured. By the pretorium, he cer- 
tainly means the palace of the emperor of Rome. And in- 
deed this word is sometimes used by the Latin authors for the 
place where the pretor held his audience. But the name of 
pretor was originally given by the Romans to all their first 
chief magistrates, who had and exercised the principal part 
of the public authority ; hence it arose that in war, and in the 
camp, they named the abode of the general of the army, pre- 
torium, and in the city, the palace of the emperor, after the 
Caesars had possessed themselves of the sovereignty of the 
Roman state. By the " other places," here distinguished from 
the pretorium, the apostle means the rest of the city of Rome, 
its houses, whether public or private, signifying that his bonds 
were celebrated both in the palace of the emperor, and in the 
rest of the town ; that they were spoken of every where ; 
there was no part of this great city where the name and the 
prison of Paul were not known. And in truth, there had ar- 
rived at Rome a large company, more than two hundred per- 
sons, who having been witnesses during this voyage of the 
innocence and holiness of his life, and of his miracles; who 
had been saved from shipwreck according to his prediction, 
and by his means, and had seen him cure all sorts of diseases 
in the island of Malta ; there is every reason to believe they 
would not fail to publish what they knew of him to all their 
acquaintance, more especially the captain who had had charge 
of him, to those of the household of the emperor ; so that in 
consequence every one would be desirous of seeing this won- 


derful prisoner, who, on his part, doubtless did not fail to take 
advantage of so fine an opportunity of preaching to them the 
gospel. To this must still further be added, that the Jews by 
whose accusation he had been made prisoner, not appearing at 
Rome to prosecute the suit which they had brought against 
him, it was evident that the zeal of his belief was alone the 
cause of his imprisonment. This would but increase his 
reputation, every one being astonished that there could exist 
a man so much in love with any doctrine as to be willing 
to suffer for it ; a circumstance quite extraordinary among 
the pagans, where the philosophers only recommended the 
opinions of their sect by their arguments, and by their con- 
versation, and not by the sufferings of their persons. But the 
manner, and even the nature, of the apostle's doctrine, must 
assuredly have also excited the wonder of the Romans, when 
after all they had discovered that he only preached to them the 
faith, love, and service of Jesus Christ. So many words, so 
many miracles, so much suffering, so much goodness and holi- 
ness, as they saw shining in this person, were only employed 
in favour of a man, who had formerly been crucified in Judea, 
even by the very confession of those who wished to have him 
worshipped by the world. These, and such-like considerations, 
rendered the bonds of Paul celebrated in the palace of the 
emperor, and in all the city of Rome. And although this 
word, to take it literally, only signifies that the apostle acquired 
a great reputation, and that his name, out of this little lodging 
in which he was a prisoner, was spread throughout the town, 
and publicly spoken of, all this great people, almost infinite 
in number, having heard of it ; it nevertheless gives us to un- 
derstand that a great many were converted by his preaching, 
some among the people, and some in the court, where Paul 
afterwards tells us that there were believers, Phil. iv. 22. For 
if there had not been persons in these places who had favoured 
the cause and the doctrine of the apostle, the glory of his bonds 
could not have entered there so deeply, or been preserved there 
so long. 

But besides this admirable effect of his imprisonment, he 
tells us also of another not less strange in the following verse, 
that is to say, the courage which it gave to many christians to 
preach the gospel, and boldly to announce that same doctrine 
for which they saw him suffer with so much constancy and 
glory. " Many of the brethren in the Lord," (says he,) " wax- 
ing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the 
word without fear." He calls believers " brethren," according 
to the usual style of this first apostolic church, on account of 
the close communion there was between them, having all sprung 
from the same Father, and been brought up as one family in 
the hope of the same inheritance. But he adds, " in the Lord," 


to show that this relationship was according to the Spirit, and 
not according to the flesh ; founded in grace, and not in nature ; 
and derived from the blood of Jesus Christ, and not from that 
of Adam. By " the word " he means (as often elsewhere) the 
gospel of the Lord, the word of life ; which is simply called 
" the word " because of its excellence, above not only all human 
doctrines, but even the law and regulations of Moses. He says 
then that many believers had the courage to preach the gospel 
boldly at Rome, " waxing confident by my bonds." But how 
could thy bonds, O holy apostle ! give such confidence to the 
christians? How, instead of opening the mouths of the mute, 
did they not rather close those of the eloquent ? How was it 
that they did not rather intimidate the preachers than encourage 
them? This chain, with which thou wert bound for having 
only spoken for Christ, how, and by what means, could it give 
courage to others to speak for him ? To make it produce such 
an effect, is it not as if we would gather grapes from thorns, 
or, according to the enigma of Samson, draw meat from the 
eater, and sweetness from the strong? Judg. xiv. 14. I ac- 
knowledge, dear brethren, that the bonds of the apostle pro- 
duced not this effect of themselves. To look at them alone, 
and to consider simply the power and fury of the enemies of 
the gospel, which appeared in them, they were capable only 
of disgusting men with so sad a doctrine, and of cooling the 
warmth and the zeal of those who approved it, by the example 
and fear of disgrace which it drew upon its followers. But the 
providence of God changed the nature of these bonds, and 
made them shine with the marks of his power and of his love 
towards his own, displaying in them a strength of mind and a 
light of grace that only served to advance the glory of his 
name, and the virtue and consolation of his minister; for as 
to him, he did not cease to evangelize as usual with a blessing 
so manifest, that his preaching had never been more successful. 
Believers observing this fine example, together with the good- 
ness and providence of the Lord, and the happiness of his 
servants, were powerfully encouraged to do their duty. The 
glory of the apostle awakened them, the visible help of the 
Lord animated them, his hand assured them, and the proof that 
they had before their eyes of his truth and fidelity took away 
those doubts and fears to which we are all so prone. They 
looked upon the victory of Paul as a pledge of their own, and, 
full of new fire, went courageously where God called them, 
that is to say, to preach his word freely. But, believers, it is 
not enough that the bonds of the apostle should have edified 
these first christians of Rome, inspiring them with courage to 
speak boldly for the gospel. It is not enough that they should 
console the Pbilippians, to whom he here mentions them, for 
the purpose of softening the sorrow which they felt for his suf- 


ferings, by the consideration of the glory and usefulness which 
would arise from them, both to his Master and to himself. We, 
as well as the ancient believers, should draw instruction and 
consolation for our souls from these meditations, the subject of 
which is preserved to us in these writings of the holy apostle. 
Let us honestly observe in them the wonders of the providence 
of God, displayed in the government of the church, and in the 
conduct of those things that belong to it ; how, on the one. 
hand, he knows how to confound the malice of his enemies ; 
and, on the other, to preserve his children from dangers, ac- 
complishing his work by the iniquity of the one, and by the 
infirmity of the others; so making things bend by secret and 
incomprehensible springs, that they all attain his object, how- 
ever weak they may appear, or even contrary to it. Thus you 
see in this text that the rage of the Jews and the injustice of 
their governors, contrary to the intention of persons, and 
against the nature of the things themselves, served for the ad- 
vancement of the gospel of his Son. The first only sought to 
gratify their hatred, and the second to satisfy their avarice, or 
their respect for the authority of their master ; and they were, 
both the one and the other, but the ministers of the counsel of 
God, who conducted his apostle to the place where it was 
destined that he should set forth the wonders of his preaching 
with more efficacy than ever. The soldiers who led him thither 
were, truly speaking, his escort, and his bonds and his prison 
the most useful instruments of his glory. This theatre was 
prepared for his punishment, and it became the scene of his 
triumph. This persecution, which was intended to cover him 
with shame, overwhelmed him with honour ; it was to blacken 
and wither his name, and it rendered it illustrious in the first 
city and in the most superb court in the universe. Oh ! the 
vanity of the thoughts of the wicked ! Oh ! the admirable 
wisdom of the providence of God ! He causes the Jew to open 
the apostle's mouth, when he thinks that he is closing it, and 
makes him spread his voice throughout the world, in desiring 
to banish him from Judea. He had formerly conducted Joseph 
to the highest pitch of glory in the same way, through the 
fury of his unnatural brethren. Persecution, slavery, and im- 
prisonment had also been, as it were, the ladders to his pros- 
perity. Since then he has always in the same waj^ used them 
in the conduct of his people, overthrowing the designs of his 
enemies, and turning the artifices of their malice, and the ex- 
cess of their fury, directly contrary to their intentions ; mul- 
tiplying his church by the deaths and massacres which seemed 
likely to destroy it ; lighting his gospel by those very means 
which appeared likely to extinguish it; and drawing the 
brightest glory of his servants from their deepest disgraces. 
This has happened in the time of our fathers, and in the old 


times before them, when the exiles and proscriptions to which 
truth was shamefully condemned spread instead of stopping it. 
We have the same remark to make on what the apostle adds, 
that his bonds had given courage to the other believers. Sa- 
tan had loaded him with this chain that it might alarm others, 
and, behold ! quite the contrary, it gives them boldness. This 
iron encourages them instead of frightening them, and serves 
but to destroy the reign it was intended to establish. Be, then, 
no longer astonished, believers, if the Lord treat his children 
in this manner. Do not accuse his providence of indifference 
or disorder, on pretence that he exposes his Josephs and his 
Pauls to the persecution of their brethren, and suffers them 
either to be bound, or put in prison, or smitten by some other 
outrage. All these indignities which offend you are the most 
excellent part of his glory, and of theirs. It is by those means 
he perfects them. These are the instruments of his work, 
without which they would neither so easily nor so quickly ac- 
complish it. And if the Lord permit that we ourselves should 
fall into trials similar to those of these great men, let us con- 
sole ourselves by their example ; and let us remember that this 
all-wise, all-good, and sovereign Majesty which has ordered 
their battles, presides still over ours, that he consecrates his 
own by affliction, and perfects his strength in their weakness, 
this method of acting being incomparably more glorious for 
him and for us than if he led us by easy and plain paths where 
we met with no difficulty. Let us bless those prisons and 
those chains which advance the gospel. It is so great a good 
that we cannot purchase it at too high a price ; a good which 
comprehends altogether the glory of our God, the salvation of 
our neighbour, and our own happiness. Paul is one of those 
who has the most suffered for its furtherance. But still we 
may say with truth, that there are men to whom the vanities 
of the world have cost as much as this sovereign felicity cost 
him ; who have run, and who still run daily as many dangers, 
and endure as many evils, to be for ever miserable, as did this 
great apostle, to render himself and others eternally happy. 
Hardly do I dare bring forward among the benefits which 
ought to incite us to these duties that glory of which the 
world thinks so much, and with which God crowns no men 
here below more pre-eminently than his martyrs and confes- 
sors, rendering their names and their struggles illustrious even 
in the palaces of the Neros, and forcing the courts of the most 
cruel and unjust princes to speak of them, and to acknowledge 
their innocence and their magnanimity. For this palace where 
the apostle here tells us that his bonds were celebrated was 
the palace of Nero, the most infamous of all tyrants, the shame 
and torment of his age, the horror and execration of all suc- 
ceeding times. But however abominable this monster might 


be, and however abandoned his court, the sink of every vice 
known among pagans, nevertheless, by the blessing of the 
Lord, the light of his apostle pierced into this abode of ini- 
quity, making itself seen and felt ; showing that there is no 
place in the world so opposed to piety where God does not 
make the sweet odour of our name to enter if we serve him 
zealously. It is this, my brethren, that the example of the 
apostle teaches us. 

But, I beseech you, let us also imitate that of these believ- 
ing Komans, who were encouraged by his bonds. Let us not 
be of the number of those cowards to whom the trials, either 
of their pastors or of their neighbours, have caused their hearts 
lamentably to fail. Their sufferings ought, on the contrary, 
to animate us, and their dangers to open our mouths. It is a 
feature of false courage to abandon innocence or truth when it 
is persecuted. It is of all times that in which a noble mind 
would least withdraw itself from its association. It would 
then be the time most openly to declare for it, and the most 
firmly to defend its cause. And this thought, dear brethren, 
is necessary for us in these wretched times, when the sad and 
calamitous state in which truth is found, which is in bonds iu 
many places in Europe, and is no where but half at liberty, 
forces us to consecrate our mouths to it, and those of our peo- 
ple, courageously to support its cause, boldly preaching its 
word without fear. 

II. But to understand fully the holiness and the excellence 
of this duty, let us proceed now to the second part of our text, 
in which the apostle distinguishes the good workman from the 
bad. "Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; 
and some also of good will : the one preach Christ of conten- 
tion, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds ; 
but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence 
of the gospel." He divides into two different classes those 
persons who, from his bonds, had taken the opportunity to 
preach the gospel of the Lord ; the one with pure and sincere 
affection, the other with a wicked mind and an evil design. 
Of the former he says, in the first place, " that they preach 
Christ with good will ;" that is, with an honest heart, who prin- 
cipally sought in this labour the end to which it naturally 
tends, that is to say, the glory of the Lord, the edification and 
salvation of their hearers, and the satisfaction of their own con- 
science. He adds, in the second place, that they did it also 
from love ; " knowing that I am set for the defence of the gos- 
pel ;" by which he bears witness to their praiseworthy and ex- 
cellent affection, not only towards those whom they instructed 
by their words, but also towards himself, seeking by the exer- 
cise of this part of their ministry to comfort and not to vex 
him, to soothe and not to afflict him, conforming their preach- 


ing to his satisfaction, and not to their own advantage, as did the 
others. For acknowledging him as an apostle and principal 
minister of the gospel sent by God for the establishment of his 
word in the world, they ascribed their preaching to his order, 
pretending by that not to lower or diminish his authority, but 
merely to second it, and to supply in any way the want of his 
voice in those places in which his bonds prevented its being 
heard, so that neither the church nor those without should 
have anything to find fault with. Upon which we have first 
to consider the excellence of the office of the holy ministry in 
the object which the apostle assigns to it, viz. the defence of 
the gospel. For what other title can we bear in the house of 
God more glorious than that of being the defenders of his 
word, and the advocates of his cause ? This honour, my breth- 
ren, obliges us to defend it well, to represent with liberty and 
vigour to men all the rights of the Lord, to preserve them with 
all our might, without losing one, either by our silence or our 
negligence. Inasmuch as our voice and our tongue have been 
consecrated to this service, it would be weakness and extreme 
ingratitude that they should ever fail in so holy and so honour- 
able a duty. But we must remark, in the second place, that it 
is the ordinance of God, and not flesh and blood, which calls 
and appoints men to this holy ministry : "I am set," or 
ordained, says the apostle ; and elsewhere he observes, " that 
God had separated him from his mother's womb," Gal. i. 15 ; 
and that it is lie " which afterwards called him by his grace," 
on account of which he is called "the vessel of his election," 
that is to say, an instrument chosen of God to exercise the 
apostleship. The Lord had long before said of Jeremiah, chap. 
i. 5, " that he had known him before he was formed in the 
belly, and before he came out of the womb he had sanctified 
him, and ordained him a prophet." From which it appears 
that the calling and appointment to this office is a work of the 
providence of God ; that he has predestinated before time those 
whom he called in time; a consideration which ought to arm, 
with invincible constancy and courage, those who feel the 
work of the Lord in them. But besides the office of the holy 
ministry, Paul has respect also in this place to the peculiar 
quality which it then gave him of being the confessor of God, suf- 
fering for the name of his Son ; it being evident that the work 
and the constancy of those who are persecuted for this profes- 
sion are an apology for the gospel, as the apostle had before 
taught, when he called his imprisonment the " defence and con- 
firmation of the gospel." Let us then presume that it is neither 
chance, nor hatred, nor the fury of Satan and of men, but the 
order and the counsel of God, which leads believers into these 
trials. May every one of those who shall find himself in such 
a situation be able to say truly with the apostle, " I am set for 


the defence of the gospel." Finally, we have yet to learn from 
the example of these good servants of God, who, seeing Paul 
in prison, began to preach the word, that it is one of the princi- 
pal duties of love to extend the hand to those of our brethren 
who labour for the Lord's sake. It is not enough to bless 
them in our hearts, or to help them with our tears or prayers, 
we must join ourselves to them, lend them, courageously, our 
hands and our tongues, and where their voice cannot penetrate, 
boldly cause our own to be heard. For if we betray the cause 
of Christ on such occasions, what can we expect, but that this 
great Advocate will also abandon ours before the tribunal of 
his Father, where we have no other intercessor or mediator 
than himself? 

Furthermore, in this assistance which we owe our brethren, 
we must so conduct ourselves that our diligence shall only 
turn to their consolation, bringing to it minds free from every 
evil leaven, and which have nothing in common with the dis- 
position of those wicked doers, censured in this place by Paul, 
who preach and proclaim Jesus Christ of envy and contention, 
and not sincerely, thinking to add affliction to the bonds of 
this holy man. The crime of these unhappy beings is so 
strange, so unjust, and so contrary to all appearance of com- 
mon sense, that it is difficult to imagine how men endowed 
with reason could have been capable of committing it. They 
proclaim Jesus Christ with their mouth, and have envy and 
contention in their heart. They preach Christ, and hate his 
apostle. Even this is a very strange anomaly ; but there is yet 
more. It is envy that makes them preach, and that at a time 
and in places where the gospel was persecuted, and where 
there was a particular spite against those who preached the 
word. O monstrous and incredible production ! How is it 
possible that so good an effect should have sprung from a cause 
so vile ? If you look at their labour, what can be conceived 
greater and more praiseworthy than preaching the gospel of 
Jesus Christ at Rome, under the government of Nero, at the very 
time that Paul was suffering for this cause? If you look at 
their motive, what blacker and more malicious than the envy 
with which their heart was infected, and this envy against 
Paul, the great apostle of the Lord, then suffering for his name? 
How is it that this poison had the power to make the persons 
despise the danger into which they brought themselves by 
preaching? But their design is still stranger than all the rest. 
For in preaching Jesus Christ they did it to afflict Paul, think- 
ing, (says he,) by this means, to add affliction to my bonds. 
What an extravagant and ridiculous thought was this ! The 
preaching of the gospel was the whole joy, triumph, and glory 
of this holy man, and yet these wretches think that they shall 
vex him by preaching Jesus Christ. Dear brethren, the whole 


of this circumstance is so perplexed and entangled, that it is 
very difficult to unravel it clearly. Some have fancied that 
the doctrine of these persons was impure, and mixed with the 
venom of some heresy ; such, for example, as was the preach- 
ing of those who confounded the law of Moses with the gospel 
of Jesus Christ, against which the apostle argues so cuttingly 
in the Epistles to the Galatians and Colossians; and supposing 
this to be the case, they say, that their intention was to cause 
grief to Paul, by sowing their tares in the field of the Lord, 
whilst his imprisonment prevented his opposing them, as he 
would have done, had he been at liberty. But it does not ap- 
pear that this could have been the case, for undoubtedly Paul 
would not have taken pleasure in seeing the gospel corrupted, 
nor could he rejoice that a deadly tare had been sown among 
the people of Jesus Christ. Now he says expressly, that he 
did rejoice that these people preached Jesus Christ, although 
they did it for a pretence, and not through a real zeal. From 
whence it follows, that however corrupt these evil workers 
might be, their doctrine, nevertheless, was pure. We must 
then take it for granted that their preaching was right and 
true. It was only their conscience that was evil. The word 
was good ; but the heart, the motive, and the design were bad. 
And it is precisely to this, and to nothing more, that we must 
refer what the apostle says, " that they did not preach Jesus 
Christ sincerely." He means the impurity of the heart, and 
not that of the doctrine; as if he had said, that while they 
were preaching the truth of the gospel, they did not practise 
it with a mind upright and simple, free from deceit and without 
hypocrisy. Paul once discovers enough of their malice, when 
he accuses them, in the first place, of envy and contention, 
two of the blackest plagues that can afflict the human heart. 
And it is not here alone that we learn that the apostle has met 
with these scourges even among those who professed the name 
of Jesus Christ, minds which, jealous of the great advantages 
that God had given this holy man, groaned at it inwardly, and 
endeavoured by every means in their power to deprive him 
of the esteem in which he was held by christians. The two 
Epistles to the Corinthians, and some others, sufficiently show 
us that sometimes he was forced to fight for his own glory, and 
to represent, at length, the fruits of his ministry, and the 
favours which the Lord had shown him, to preserve the autho- 
rity of his office against the attacks of the envious. It is a 
great consolation for those who labour in the house of God, if 
sometimes there happen to them some one of these secret, but 
lively and acute, persecutions ; if, beside the blows from with- 
out, they have still to suffer secretly the stings and bitings of 
envy within. For since Paul, with such eminent and splendid 
virtue, did not escape giving offence, and having those who 


envied him, no other minister of the Lord should think it 
strange that this plague should also persecute him. 

But see, I pray you, how far the rage of their passion carried 
these people. They think, says the apostle, " to add affliction 
to my bonds." O barbarous and inhuman beings ! cruelty, 
only fit for hell ! They see him persecuted by Jews and pagans 
after the storms and shipwrecks of the sea, breathing with dif- 
ficulty on the earth, bound with a chain — the prisoner of Nero, 
expecting each moment the hour of his torment. And yet all 
this is not capable of softening the fury of their passioDS. 
They still envy him, they still wish him evil. And to such 
sad and painful bonds, which might have been sufficient to 
content the bitterest hatred, they endeavour to add affliction. 
It was this foul and mad design which led them to preach Jesus 
Christ. And it is in this lies the knot of the difficulty ; how 
and in what way the preaching of the gospel, as they did, 
could injure the apostle, or add affliction to his bonds, and 
from what it was that they could conceive such an idea. Dear 
brethren, if we clearly knew all the circumstances of this fact 
as did the believers who were then living at Eome, perhaps it 
would be easy for us to solve this difficulty. Now that we are 
ignorant of them, we are obliged to have recourse to conjec- 
tures ; and two present themselves which neither want authors 
nor reasons. First, It may be, that the enemies of the apostle 
hoped that their preaching would irritate Nero and his officers 
against Christianity, and that, offended at this new increase 
which this doctrine had received at Rome, they would quickly 
discharge their anger upon him, whom they kept a prisoner, 
and who was considered as the principal support of this grow- 
ing religion, that is to say, Paul, either by putting him to death 
suddenly, or by condemning him to some more grievous 
trouble than his present prison. Secondly, It may be that 
envy had inspired them with another thought, that by labour- 
ing in preaching the gospel they should obtain a part of the 
apostle's glory, and that by making good use of the time of 
his imprisonment, to establish themselves in the minds of the 
disciples, they should, by degrees, take away the credit and 
authority which he possessed ; and judging of him by them- 
selves, they imagined that it would be an immense increase to 
his affliction to see them thus enriched and decorated with his 
spoils. Such, or such like, were the thoughts of these wretched 
men. Judge by this what is the nature of vice, and, in the 
first place, how very horrible is its impudence in daring thus 
to profane the most sacred things, and to abuse them so vilely 
for its own ungodly purpose. What is there more sacred than 
the gospel of Jesus Christ ? The wicked man not only has 
the boldness to take it into his mouth, which of itself is great 
sacrilege, but he dares further to employ it in the designs of 


his basest passions, to satisfy his envy and his cruelty, like 
these vile beings, who made an ill use of Jesus Christ against 
the best of his servants, and employed his name and his word 
to ruin his glory. Thus Satan sometimes clothes himself as 
an angel of light to further the works of darkness. # From 
which yon see that it is not enough that our actions be good 
and praiseworthy, if our intentions are not pure and upright. 
It is to profane the good to do it with a bad end in view ; it is 
to dishonour it and prostitute it to evil ; and so far from those 
who act thus having a right to hope for the reward that the 
divine word promises to good actions, they can, on the con- 
trary, only expect the most rigorous punishment with which 
hypocrisy, sacrilege, and profanation are threatened in the 
scriptures ; it being evident that there is no more abominable 
injustice than that ofhim who covers the filthiness of vice and 
impiety with the marks and characteristics of virtue and holiness. 
See again after that, how the thoughts of vice are not only im- 
pudent, but even foolish and vain. These deceivers, judging 
of Paul by themselves, believed that their preaching would vex 
him, they thought by so doing to " add affliction to his bonds." 
Poor creatures ! how little you knew of this high-minded man, 
to imagine that so small a thing could trouble him ! 

III. Thus you see the thing turned out exactly contrary to 
their expectations : they thought to vex him, and they com- 
forted him ; they thought to weary him, and they afforded 
him contentment: he rejoices in their hatred, and profits by 
their envy. This is what he declares in the last verse of our 
text, " What then ? (says he,) every way, whether in pretence, 
or in truth, Christ is preached, and I therein do rejoice, yea, 
and will rejoice." What business have I, says he, to labour 
to detect the secret intentions of men, and to sift the mo- 
tives of their actions, to vex myself with the malice of their 
plans? God their judge sees through all. Whatever their 
heart may be, whether true or false, nevertheless, my Christ is 
preached, and his doctrine set forth. If the instruments are 
bad, the effect they produce is good. I shall not fail to find 
my account in it, while these wretches will not have theirs. 
Christ preached is always to me a matter of joy, whatever may 
be the heart of the preacher. He calls it " preaching Christ 
in truth," when he who proclaims the doctrine of the Lord pro- 
ceeds in it with a pure and sincere heart, seeking with a good 
will, and from the bottom of his soul, the glory of Him whom 
he announces, whilst he testifies of it in his words. To preach 
it occasionally, or by pretence, signifies quite the contrary, it 
is seeking something besides Jesus Christ in preaching his 
word, to make an ill use of his name to cover some dishonest 
design ; which is precisely what these evil workers did whom 
the apostle has just been reproving. He does not simply say 


that he rejoices in the success of the preaching, both of the 
one and the other. He adds further, that he will rejoice in it 
for the future, to show that they are much mistaken if they 
think to vex him by it; as, on the contrary, the more they la- 
boured in preaching, the more satisfaction they would afford 
him thereby. 

Thus you see, dear brethren, that God by the secret springs 
of his mysterious providence so powerfully governs the most 
corrupt instruments, that he still does his work by them when 
he employs them. He converted men to the faith by the 
word of such as had none themselves. He edified a true 
church by the preaching of one who was a hypocrite. Thus 
formerly he blessed his own Israel by the mouth of a false pro- 
phet. Whilst we detest the abominable profaneness of men 
who so dreadfully abuse the gospel, let us not cease to rejoice 
in the good effects which God produces by their hands. Let 
us hold the thorns of such plants in horror, and gather with 
thanksgiving the roses which the goodness of God causes to 
spring from them ; and, after the example of the apostle, let 
us rejoice to see our Christ preached, whatever may be the 
mind or the hand which presents us his mysteries. But in 
conclusion, remark here, my brethren, the truth of what the 
apostle elsewhere teaches us, that all things work together for 
good to those who love God, who are called according to his 
purpose. The efforts of envy and contention against Paul 
turn to his satisfaction. His Lord changes poison into medi- 
cine for him, and makes him reap consolation and joy from 
what had been sown for his vexation and ruin. Nothing in- 
jures this holy man. He finds satisfaction every where. He 
handles the most painful evils, as he did formerly the viper at 
Malta, without receiving any injury. Every thing profita 
him, and there is no wind so contrary which does not waft him 
to his haven. Dearly beloved brethren, let us have his faith; 
let us evince for Jesus Christ and his glory such a zeal as 
Paul's. Let us despise, as he did, the world, the flesh, and 
their vanities. Let us detach our hearts from so many worldly 
ties, which bind them to the earth, the lusts of riches, volup- 
tuousness, and honours. May our hearts be pressed with no 
other chain than that of Paul; may this bond alone attach us, 
as it did him, indissolubly to Jesus Christ, who lives in us, 
and there mortifies whatever is fleshly. Let us be holy as 
Paul, and we shall be happy like him; as it was to him, so 
will all turn to our good, prosperity and adversity, the favour 
and the hatred of men, life and death itself. Whatever may 
happen to ourselves or others, we shall always be content; 
and after the consolations of this world, we shall enter into 
the endless glory of the other, to live and reign there for ever 
with Paul and the other saints in Jesus Christ, their Saviour 


and ours : to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one 
true and only God, eternally blessed, be honour and glory for 
ever and ever. Amen. 

Preached at Charenton, Sunday, 26th Feb. 1640. 


VERSE 19 — 21. 

For I Toxoid that this shall turn to my salvation through your 
prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according 
to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall 
be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also 
Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or 
by death. For Christ is gain to me living and dying. 

Dear brethren, examples are of great and efficacious use in 
forming the manners of men to piety and virtue; for besides 
that they show us the nature of our duties much more clearly 
than precepts, presenting them to us in persons and in sensible 
effects, while precepts only exhibit them to us in idea, they 
have also this advantage, that whilst precepts only declare to 
us that they are duties which we ought to perform, examples 
prove to us also that they can be done ; and moreover they 
spur us on, and induce us to endeavour to do them from that 
desire of imitating others, which, like a secret but sharp and 
stinging goad, they leave in our hearts. This is the reason 
that our God has not felt it enough to give us in the scrip- 
tures his divine commands, which most perfectly contain all 
the rules for a holy and happy life ; he has added to them the 
examples of his most excellent servants to direct us, and to 
serve as so many lights and patterns in that great and noble 
design ; so that, being stimulated to obey him on earth, we may 
hereafter attain to the glory of his heavenly kingdom. Thus 
he has taken care to trace in the ancient books, as in so many 
pictures, all the history, actions, and sufferings of the most 
illustrious personages whom he formerly raised up under the 
Old Testament, such as an Abraham, an Isaac, a Jacob, a Mo- 
ses, a Job, a Joshua, a Samuel, and a David, and many others 
like them ; so that the first people having these fine models 
before their eyes, might form their lives according to their 
features, forms, and colours ; he has acted on the same plan in 
the writings of the New Testament, where, with the heavenly 
laws of his Christ, he has also set before us the examples of 


those great heroes who were the ornaments of the early days 
of his church, and who dissipated the darkness of error and 
vice by the light of their doctrine and of their holiness ; such 
were formerly the apostles and their beloved disciples. But 
there is not one of them whose life is more particularly and 
exactly described than that of Paul. It must also be acknow- 
ledged, that it contains the pattern of all our duties, whether 
towards God or towards men, expressed in their noblest forms, 
and represented in their highest and most brilliant colours; 
there is no vice which is not conquered, and no temptation 
that is not rejected. You see in it the ardour of zeal, the gen- 
tleness of humility, the courage and constancy of faith, the 
joy of hope, the triumphs of the love of Jesus Christ, the 
kindnesses and tendernesses of charity; a magnanimity with- 
out pride, a prudence without cunning, a simplicity without 
folly ; a harmless wisdom, an indefatigable labour, and a bold 
modesty; a contentment without disdain; a soul which per- 
fectly hated vice, and equally loved men, which, entirely at- 
tached to its Christ, breathes but for his glory and his inte- 
rests, and which, although linked to a poor and vile body, 
already lives in the heavens with the cherubim and seraphim. 
These great virtues of the apostle are continually presented to 
you in this place, my brethren, that you may imitate them. 
But upon the present occasion we have only to consider his 
firm and unshaken resolution in afflictions, as he himself re- 
presents it to us in the text that you have heard. The Jews 
hated him with furious passion ; the pagans threatened him ; 
he was at Eome in the prison of Nero, as in the claws of a 
lion. Besides the enemies without, many false christians, ani- 
mated with malice and envy, persecuted him within ; and their 
rage was so blind that they even employed against him the 
preaching of his gospel, to add affliction to his bonds. He 
complains of this, if you remember, in the preceding verses ; 
but in the midst of so many evils, he nevertheless does not 
cease to say that he rejoiced in them, and would still continue 
to rejoice. Now he assigns the cause of this his marvellous 
disposition. Tell us then, holy apostle, whence arises the 
calmness of thy mind, in the midst of such a violent tempest? 
Is thine heart of iron or of steel? Does thy nature hide un- 
der this human form which it outwardly wears some rock, 
insensible to those accidents which trouble other men? No, 
says he; it is something ver}'- different from insensibility which 
gives me this constancy. My flesh is not harder than yours ; 
my soul is of the same temper as that of other men, and sub- 
ject to the same passions. It is to the knowledge and power 
of the Lord Jesus alone that I owe my tranquillity. It is he 
who maintains my joy, and will preserve it, even to the end, 
pure and entire ; " For I know that this shall turn to my sal- 


vation through, your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of 
Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and my 
hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all 
boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in 
my body, whether it be by life, or by death." And that you 
may not take his assurance for vain presumption, he declares 
to us, in the following verse, the wonderful power of this sov- 
ereign Lord, on which it was founded, "For Christ is gain to 
me living or dying." Thus we have two things on which to 
treat, in this discourse, by the grace of God: the assurance of 
the holy apostle, which he represents to us in the two first 
verses of the text; and the excellence of the power of the 
Lord Jesus on which it rested, so abundant in grace, that it is 
gain to those who serve him, either to live or die, as he pro- 
tests to us in the last verse. 

I. As to the first point, he sets forth to us, in the 19th verse, 
his assurance in respect to the particular trial under which he 
then laboured, and in the following verse the steadfast hope 
and confidence which he felt of not being ashamed in any thing, 
of which his assurance against the present danger was a part, 
or an effect. He commences then by the particular trial, and 
from thence takes occasion to testify the confidence that he felt 
generally against all sorts of temptations : " I know that this 
shall turn to my salvation ;" — this, that is to say, the persecu- 
tion that was carried on against him by those without, and 
those within, of whom he had spoken in the verse immediately 
preceding ; they do (says he) all they can to ruin me, but I am 
certain that they never will attain the object of their cruel and 
sanguinary design ; and that, instead of ruining me, all their 
violent and malicious efforts will serve for my safety. I shall 
even find my salvation in that which they have contrived for 
my destruction. Do not imagine that the salvation of which 
he here speaks is simply his bodily deliverance from the im- 
prisonment in which he was then detained. It is true that he 
did come out of it, and was preserved for some time longer on 
the earth, to finish his race. And it is further true, that from 
this period, when he wrote this Epistle, he had a certain as- 
surance that the thing would happen thus, as he himself de- 
clares to us afterwards ; so that if it meant nothing else, what 
he says here of his salvation might be referred to his temporal 
deliverance from the prison of Nero. But that which he adds 
in the following verse, " that Christ shall be magnified in him, 
whether by life, or by death," evidently shows that he here 
speaks of the salvation of the soul ; and, leaving for the present 
his bodily deliverance in doubt, he means, that whatever may 
happen, he is nevertheless assured that all the work which the 
cruelty and malignity of his enemies may give him will suc- 
ceed, contrary to their expectation, to the benefit and promo- 


tion of the salvation begun in him by the Lord Jesus Christ. 
And that you may not think this confidence which he feels in 
the happy success of his present trial was the fruit of carnal 
presumption, arising from some opinion of his own strength, 
after having said, that all that the adversaries of the church 
devised against him will turn to his salvation, he adds, " by 
your prayer, and through the supply of the Spirit of Christ 
Jesus." It is not of myself, neither from the strength of my 
mind, nor from the light of my understanding, that I expect 
such great success, but indeed from the Spirit of my Master, 
who perfects his strength in our weakness ; I am sure that he 
will supply me with all I need for this combat, and that the 
prayers which you present to him on my behalf will obtain 
this grace from his goodness. For it is thus that the words of 
the apostle must be explained, in taking " the supply of the 
Spirit of Christ" for the true, proper, and only cause of his 
perseverance in the paths of salvation ; and the prayer of the 
Philippians only for a help and a means, which will serve to 
procure for him the grace of God, which was necessary for his 
victory. " By your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of 
Christ ;" that is to say, by the help and assistance of the Spirit 
of Jesus Christ that your prayers will obtain for me, God 
hearing, according to his goodness and truth, the prayers that 
so many believers offer to him for my salvation. See the hu- 
mility of this holy man ! He professes to owe his salvation to 
his disciples, and imputes the success of his great combats to 
their prayers. And do not imagine that this is only a civility, 
or an artful flattery, which he here shrewdly employs to please 
and oblige the Philippians. He speaks as he thinks, knowing 
that the prayers of the righteous, aye, of the least of them, 
made in faith, are of great efficacy. And he speaks of them in 
this manner, that they may be induced to pray so much the 
more ardently to the Lord for him, seeing how much effect he 
promised himself from the help of their prayers. In the fol- 
lowing verse, he shows us the root from whence sprang the as- 
surance he felt in his heart of the happy success of his own 
conflict. " According to my earnest expectation and my hope, 
that in nothing I shall be ashamed." The word* which we 
have translated " earnest expectation" signifies properly an ex- 
pectation joined with a great and ardent desire, which keeps 
all our mind, thoughts, and affections riveted upon the thing 
expected, as when we continually turn the head and the eyes 
towards that side from whence we are looking for some beloved 
friend for whom we wait with impatience. In Rom. viii. 19, 
where Paul says, " For the earnest expectation of the creature 
waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God," he uses the 

* A7ro(capaJo«fi'a. 


word very elegantly, to express the deep and secret, though 
ardent and vehement, desire felt by all the universe to see and 
to possess the glory in which the Son of God will re-establish 
it at his final coming, and the affection, so to speak, with which 
it sighs after this same felicity, wearied with the misery and 
the vanity to which it has been subjected by the sinfulness of 
man. Here he employs the word in the same sense, to show 
us that his expectation was not weak and languid, similar to 
that with which we expect things that are indifferent to us, but 
ardent, and passionate, and joined with a vehement desire to 
possess that salvation for which he hopes ; such was the ex- 
pectation of those violent, men of whom mention is made in 
the gospel, who, burning with impatience to see the kingdom 
of God, sprang forward, as it were, beyond themselves, and 
going to meet it took it by force, through their desires and the 
transports of their faith before its arrival. Matt. xi. 12. Such 
was the expectation of our Paul, so ardent, that by it he already 
in some measure enjoyed the salvation for which he hoped, and 
looked upon it as a thing not absent and future, but present 
and already in his hand, so much was he both delighted with 
it and assured of it. 

To this expectation he adds the hope which he cherishes, 
"that in nothing he shall be ashamed." We are ashamed 
when we cannot attain the end we desire, and when we are de- 
prived of those good things which we had promised ourselves. 
The end of the apostle was the glory of Jesus Christ, and his 
salvation, and his life in him. His hope then was that no- 
thing either good or bad might prevent him from attaining this 
his object, or take from him that felicity which he promised 
himself; in the same sense in which he elsewhere says that 
" hope maketh not ashamed," Kom. v. 5. He therefore adds, 
in order that he may explain himself still more clearly, that 
far from being ashamed in anything, " Christ, as well now as 
always, shall with all boldness be magnified in his body, 
whether by life or by death." Should men and devils (says 
he) unite all their strength and fury together, I fear not their 
devices ; and am certain that in whatever way this combat 
may terminate, it will redound to the glory of my Lord, and 
that this circumstance will tend to heighten the greatness of 
his name as well as all others have done already. He draws 
his soul out of this engagement, as a thing that the shafts of 
the world cannot reach, according to what the Lord has said, 
that men cannot kill our souls, however capable they may be 
of injuring our bodies. And as to his body, he does not deny 
that it is a thing that may happen, that the iniquity and the 
rage of his adversaries may deprive him of the life that he pos- 
sessed, God often permitting that his warriors should lose their 
blood and their lives in such circumstances. But certain he 


is, that whether it be preserved, or whether it be lost, either 
the one or the other shall not be done to the prejudice of his 
Master's interests, who would not fail to derive from either 
event the glory which is his due. This poor body, (says he,) 
this earthly tabernacle, this feeble flesh, which is in the power 
of our enemies, bound with their chains, and exposed to the 
shafts of their cruelty, will notwithstanding itself bring glory 
to my Lord ; and however man may dispose of it, God shall 
thereby be magnified. For, my brethren, although the gran- 
deur of Jesus Christ is infinite, and absolutely incapable of in- 
crease in itself, yet, nevertheless, the scripture says that it is 
magnified when his glory increases among men, and that his 
servants do or suffer things which make the light of his glo- 
rious majesty to appear, and testify how marvellous is his 
power, his wisdom, or his goodness. The apostle then means, 
that whatever the enemy may do, he will always remain conse- 
crated to the service of Jesus Christ, without anything ever 
being able to make him swerve from the fidelity which he had 
vowed to him. For in this case, it is evident that both his 
life and his death will equally promote the glory of the Lord. 
Presupposing that he should remain alive, and be set at liberty, 
as he was, is it not clear that in this case Christ would be mag- 
nified by him? as in truth he was, the glory of his power be- 
ing manifested in the preservation and deliverance of his ser- 
vant, saved by his providence from so imminent a danger, and, 
as it were, torn from the very claws of a lion, or from the pri- 
son of a whale, as Jonah had formerly been. And would not 
Christ still be magnified in his body, in another manner, by 
the service which his redeemed servant would continue more 
and more to render to the Lord in the work of the gospel, by 
the miracles of his hands, and by the preaching of his tongue, 
and by the purity, correctness, and holiness of his other mem- 
bers ? Presupposing, on the contrary, that Paul should die in 
this combat, (which did not happen this time, but which oc- 
curred some years after, when the issue of his second impri- 
sonment was his being beheaded by the order of Nero,) who 
cannot see that even in this case Christ would be magnified in 
his body ? that happy body preaching in a more lively way 
than ever the grandeur of that Jesus for whom it suffered so 
resolutely, and thus triumphantly sealing with his blood all 
that his tongue had ever said, and all that his hand had ever 
written, on his divinity, to the unparalleled edification of the 
faithful, to the conversion of the pagans and of the Jews, to 
the conviction of unbelievers, and to the utter astonishment 
of all. 

But it must not be forgotten that he says, that Christ will be 
magnified in his body " in all boldness." For this word shows 
us by what means he would magnify the Lord, namely, 


(whether in recovering hia liberty, or in losing his life,) with a 
full and entire boldness, without hesitation, without stumbling, 
with a firm and heroic resolution never to purchase his life, 
never to escape death, at the price of any baseness against the 
name of his Master ; but to employ either his life or his death 
willingly for the furtherance of his kingdom, to make mention 
always of him at all times and in all places, with christian 
freedom, without caring either for the threats or for the promises 
of the world. Such in truth was the boldness of this holy 
apostle, as well in life as in death, having never shown a desire 
for the one, nor a fear of the other, when they were in ques- 
tion as regarded the service of Jesus Christ. Such also has 
been the boldness of a great many other martyrs, and partic- 
ularly of the blessed saint Cyprian, who, seeing that the pro- 
consul requested him to think of himself, and to sacrifice to 
the gods rather than die, answered him courageously, that 
there was no need of deliberation on so right a thing, freely 
offering to die rather than to offend his Master. This boldness, 
my brethren, is what most delights men ; it is this which forces 
them in the most efficacious manner to give to the Lord Jesus 
the glory of a sovereign power, and to his confessors the praise 
of a noble courage and of an extraordinary strength of mind. 
Finally, we must also consider what the apostle says, that 
Christ will now be magnified in him " as always," in which 
you see that the past fortifies him for the future ; the expe- 
rience that he had already had of the aid of his God, on all 
other occasions, giving him a solid hope that the same assist- 
ance would be afforded him this time, according to the doc- 
trine which he has left us elsewhere, " that experience work- 
eth hope," Eom. v. 4. 

Behold, believers, the constancy and resolution of Paul in 
the midst of his bonds Î But it is not enough to look at and to 
admire this fine example ; we must profit by it, and draw 
from it the rich instruction which it contains for our consola- 
tion and edification. Let us here first learn the lesson that 
Paul often gives us, that all things work together for good to 
believers. The enemies of Paul had conducted him to Rome 
under the eyes and into the prison of Nero, the greatest enemy 
of piety and virtue that the world ever saw. They exaspera- 
ted and irritated his judges against him daily, and did every- 
thing in their power to ruin him. Yet so far were their efforts 
from succeeding as they thought, that all this on the contrary, 
turned to his salvation. How many of such like instances 
could we now bring before you! Ruin changed into deliver- 
ance, affliction into consolation, by the miraculous power of 
the hand of the Most High. Fear not, then, christian, whatever 
may be the rage of men or of the elements against you, your 
Master has the motion of every creature in his power, and you 


are of tlie number of those blessed ones to whom he has sworn 
that no weapon forged against them shall prosper, that he will 
make them walk through the waters and through the flames 
without being injured by them ; that all the furnaces of Baby- 
lon shall not have power to scorch one of the hairs of their 
heads, and that instead of burning and death, they should find 
refreshment, consolation, and life. Then afterwards, vou see 
further, in this example of the apostle, that the salvation of 
believers is certain, and their perseverance assured : " I shall 
(he says) in nothing be ashamed, and Christ shall be magnified 
in my body, whether by life or by death." This sovereign 
Shepherd, to whom the eternal Father has given his elect, 
keeps them faithfully as the apple of his eye. He holds them 
in his hand, and declares aloud that no force shall ever draw 
them thence. I acknowledge he does not promise them that 
they shall pass their lives in enjoyment, or even free from 
danger and incovenience ; or that the hatred of men, or the in- 
firmities of nature, shall never cause them to die. On the con- 
trary, he freely declares to them that tbey shall be as much or 
more subject than others to such accidents, and that the pro- 
fession of piety will burden them with his cross. But then he 
promises them that the gates of hell shall never prevail against 
them ; that their faith shall never fail ; that he will preserve 
his peace and the joy of the Holy Spirit in their hearts in the 
midst of the most horrible trials ; and that, in spite of the 
waves and the winds conspiring against them, he will conduct 
them into the haven of his blessed kingdom, being always with 
them, without ever leaving them, till he has brought them into 
the heavenly Canaan. Moreover, Paul here shows us what is 
the cause of the constancy and perseverance of believers ; not 
their pretended free-will, or the strength either of their under- 
standing, or of their own inclination, (unhappy they who build 
on so moving a sand, or who expect their firmness from a 
thing so weak and so changeable,) but from the Holy Ghost, 
who stays our fickleness, who produces in us the power, effica- 
ciously, to will and to do according to his good pleasure ; the 
divine Comforter, alone capable of inspiring and of preserving 
in our minds the light of truth, of forming and of maintaining 
in our wills the love of liberty, of breathing into our hearts the 
strength and resolution necessary to support us to the end in 
so dangerous a combat, in which we have the world and hell 
opposed to us, and legions of infinitely cunning, violent, and 
cruel enemies always surrounding and seeking opportunities 
to ruin us. Believers, who labour in so hazardous a warfare, 
have recourse to Jesus Christ, and renouncing all other strength, 
call day and night upon his name ; ask of him with faith, with 
tears, and with sighs his heavenly unction, which may frame 
your hands for the battles of the Eternal, so that you may be 


able to stand in the evil day, and may remain victorious, to 
receive the crown of glory and of immortality which he keeps 
for us in the heavens. 

We have now to learn, in the fourth place, that it is he who 
is the depositary of the Spirit. The apostle calls him "the 
Spirit of Jesus Christ," not only because he proceeds from the 
Son as from the Father, having with him his essence from all 
eternity by an ineffable and incomprehensible communication, 
but also because the Lord Jesus has received, at his rising 
from the tomb, all the treasures of his grace, all his knowledge 
and virtue, to be for ever the dispenser of them, giving to each 
one his share in a suitable measure. The apostle explains this 
to us by the word " supply," which he uses in this place, 
which signifies that the Lord Jesus supplies us out of that ful- 
ness of the Spirit which he possesses, and whose source is in 
himself, as much grace as we need to direct and conduct us, 
by degrees, to perfection. From whence it appears, as the 
apostle has said to us elsewhere, Eom. viii. 9, "If any man 
have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." And perhaps 
this also is one of the reasons for which he is named " his Spi- 
rit," because he is never without him, and that he never com- 
municates to us either his salvation or his life but by the light 
of his Comforter, in such a way that it is not possible to be of 
the number of his members without having some portion of 
this Spirit. 

Further, we learn from hence how powerful and admirable 
are the prayers of the church, and how necessary is their mutual 
interchange and assistance. For if Paul, that great apostle, 
so advanced in the ways of God, did not despise the prayers 
of the Philippians ; what do I say, that he did not despise 
them ? if he prized them even so as to put them among the 
means of his salvation, and expected from their power a part 
of his perseverance ; what ought we to do, dearly beloved 
brethren, who are so infinitely below him ? Let us then ear- 
nestly pray for one another ; let not your greatness, whatever 
it may be, make you despise an aid that Paul so highly 
esteemed. The greater you are, the more need you have of the 
prayers of the less. These prayers have often arrested the 
scourges of God. They have delivered the faithful from prisons, 
as they formerly did Peter. They have rendered the conspi- 
racies of Satan against the soldiers of the Lord useless. They 
have drawn the Spirit of Jesus Christ upon the earth, and es- 
tablished by his power that which was about to fall. But, 
dear brethren, if we ought to desire this help from the faithful 
who are here below, that is not saying that we ought to invoke 
those who are on high with Jesus Christ, as those of Home 
conclude from this passage, and others like it. As for believers 
who are on earth, we see them, and converse with them, and 


know that they hear us ; and besides this, we have in the scrip- 
ture both the order and example of requiring the help of their 
prayers : on the contrary, the dead have no communication with 
us, and the Holy Spirit teaches us that they no longer " know 
any thing," (that is to say, of what is done upon the earth,) 
they do not even know whether or not their sons are noble, 
their eyes see not the evils which happen to the places where 
they lived, and there is not found in the whole scripture any 
command or example to address our prayers to them. In truth, 
it is impossible to pray to them, absent from us as they are, 
without attributing to them some species of divinity ; in ima- 
gining that they see all that is done in the world, and have 
even a knowledge of our hearts; a quality which scripture 
attributes to God alone, exclusive of all others. Thus it is 
clear that the requests which are made to them by the Roman- 
ists are quite of another nature from those by which we ask 
from living believers the help of their prayers. For they 
prostrate themselves before them on their knees ; they dedicate 
temples, chapels, and oratories to them ; they consecrate images 
to them, to which they make vows, and pray that they will 
defend them from the enemy, that they will cure the impro- 
prieties of their manners, and that they will receive their souls 
at the hour of death : all of which things are never practised 
by believers towards any man living on the earth. 

But I return to the apostle, who shows us clearly by his 
language that he was certainly assured of his salvation, con- 
trary to the error of those who place him among the number 
of their doubters: "I know (says he) that this trial shall turn 
to my salvation, and I have an earnest expectation, and a hope, 
that in nothing I shall be ashamed, and that Jesus Christ shall 
be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death." 
How did he know, how did he hope, how did he firmly expect 
these things, if he were not assured of their accomplishment ? 
And, once more, how had this knowledge produced in him 
that joy which he said he had in the preceding text, if it had 
not been clear, and certain, and unmixed with any doubt? 
He speaks elsewhere of it in the same manner: " I have fought 
the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the 
faith, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteous- 
ness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that 
day." " For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded 
that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him 
against that day." From whence it appears how misplaced are 
the objections made against the assurance of salvation which 
we teach, that this belief chills the affections, and the practice 
of good works — seeing that none was ever more ardent than 
Paul, who was so entirely persuaded of his perseverance. Let 
us also then, dear brethren, cherish this farm hope in our hearts, 


the source of our joy, and the treasure of our consolations. I 
acknowledge that Paul was greater than we are. But he de- 
rived this assurance from the goodness of Jesus Christ and the 
grace of his Spirit, which is common to us with him, and with 
all believers, and not from his greatness and his personal ad- 
vantages ; and as he here says that he firmly expects the happy 
effects of his salvation, so he elsewhere very nobly declares, 
speaking of all true believers, "that he is assured that neither 
death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor 
things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor 
any other creature, shall separate us from the love of God, 
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord," Rom. viii. 38, 39. He had 
already observed, in the same chapter, that the Spirit of the 
Lord, which forms and conducts our perseverance, bears wit- 
ness with our spirit that we are the children of God, his heirs, 
and co-heirs with Jesus Christ. Now if we are armed with 
this confidence, who in the world can be happier than we shall 
be ? Neither the sorrows of life, nor the horrors of death, will 
occasion us any fear. We shall look upon the good things of 
the world without envy, and upon its ills without alarm, being 
assured that neither the privation of the one, nor the suffering 
of the other, can prevent our being eternally happy. But, O 
faithful soul, learn from this representation of the apostle that 
the ruling passion of your heart and your only aim ought to 
be to magnify the Lord Jesus. May every thing else be in- 
different to you, provided that you succeed in this glorious 
design. Consider your sufferings well employed, and your 
disgraces happy, if they lead to that. Possess nothing, either 
in yourself, or out of yourself, which is not consecrated to this. 
Say not, as some hypocrites and worldly people do, I am con- 
tented in my heart and in my mind to glorify Jesus Christ, 
although the outward appearance of my life may be contrary 
to his will. This language is undoubtedly false, it being quite 
impossible to magnify the Lord in the mind whilst he is dis- 
honoured in the body. These two parts of our being are too 
closely united for us to be able to serve two masters at one 
time. But though this pretended separation were possible, 
(which it is not,) still it would be unjust and pernicious. Un- 
just, because it would deprive our body of its highest and most 
precious glory, it being evident that this poor flesh cannot be 
more honoured than in being employed to magnify its Creator 
and Redeemer, nor more debased and dishonoured than in 
offending him. But this division would also be pernicious, 
for it would bring upon us death and the curse, since the 
Saviour only acknowledges for his own those who believe on 
him in their hearts, and confess him with their mouths, and 
who glorify him (as the apostle elsewhere says, 1 Cor. vi.)with 
the body and the spirit, which both belong to him. Hence- 


forth then, dear brethren, let us carefully imitate the apostle. 
May the Lord Jesus be magnified in your bodies both in life 
and death. During life, clothe them with the ornaments of the 
Lord, with chastity, purity, honesty, modesty, and humility. 
May your tongue ever speak his praises, may your eyes ever 
contemplate his wonders, and your ears ever listen to his 
teaching; may your feet ever run in his paths, your hands 
labour in his works ; may your persons only be found in those 
places and in those companies where that great name that is 
named upon us is not ill spoken of. And when the hour of 
death shall come, may Christ also then be magnified in your 
body by a holy and christian patience, by a gentle and humble 
submission to his providence, by a constant confession of his 
truth and of your hope, till your very last sigh, whether he 
calls you to suffer for his gospel's sake, or takes you out of life 
by some other means. For do not imagine, I beseech you, that 
it is only in the prisons, the fetters, or the fires of the martyrs, 
that the Lord is magnified. The beds, and the last hours of 
other believers, serve also to his glory, when they show to 
those around them a faith, a humility, a hope, and a consola- 
tion worthy of the profession which they make. Finally, this 
example of the apostle teaches us further, that assurance and 
boldness are the true means of glorifying the Lord. Besides 
which, those effeminate and cowardly beings, who waver in a 
shameful irresolution, debate on all the changes of the earth 
and air, and know not to what master to yield themselves. 
These are the lukewarm, whom the Lord threatens to eject from 
his mouth, Eev. iii. 6; xxi. 8 ; the fearful, whose part shall be 
in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone. These are 
those unhappy beings who dishonour Christ in the highest de- 
gree, and who most cruelly abuse his name. Christian, if you 
truly desire to magnify him, invest yourself with the heart and 
the strength of mind of the apostle. Confess him boldly, and 
publish his glory in all liberty, always ready to lose every 
thing, and to suffer every thing, rather than betray him. 

II. But, that ye may have more affection and courage to 
imitate this excellent example of the apostle, let us now, in 
the second place, consider the reason which he gives us for 
the assurance which he felt of never being ashamed, either in 
life or in death: "For Christ is gain to me living or dying." 
The words of the apostle, as they are couched in the original, 
signify simply, word for word, " that Christ to him is life, and 
that to die is gain," and all ancient interpreters, and the greater 
part of the modern, have thus taken them, in a sense suitable 
enough, to say that Jesus Christ is his true life, and that it is 
only in him and for him that he lives, according to what he 
says in his Epistle to the Galatians, chap. ii. 20, " I am cruci- 
fied with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ 


liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live 
by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave him- 
self for me." And as to death, so far from fearing it, or es- 
teeming it bad and hurtful, he considers it, on the contrary, 
a gain, an advantageous thing, as, instead of a vile and perish- 
able life, it will give him the true life, which is glorious and 
immortal. But this text being also capable of another inter- 
pretation, namely, that Christ is gain to the apostle " to live 
and to die," our Bibles have preferred this exposition to the 
other, because the sense which it gives is excellent in itself, 
and has a more just and entire agreement with the preceding 
text. He said that Christ will be magnified in his body, 
whether by life or death ; he now alleges the reason, because 
Christ is gain to me in both, that is to say, in life and in death. 
Christ is a fruit, a profit, and an advantage, which I draw both 
from my life and death, in such a way, that being always a 
gainer, it matters little to me which God sends me, whether 
life or death. Finding in both the wages and the acquisition 
to which I look, that is to say, Jesus Christ my Saviour's glo- 
ry, and the power of his grace, neither the one nor the other 
can frustrate the fruit of my designs and my desires. From 
which evidently follows the conclusion which he proposes to 
draw, that is to say, that he shall never be ashamed in any 
thing. For as his present trial cannot terminate otherwise 
than either by life or by death, and as he found his advantage 
in both these events, you see clearly that it was not possible 
that this trial should issue in his shame, nor otherwise than to 
his consolation and salvation. As to the rest, this language 
is figurative, and derived from the similitude of operations in 
trade and commerce, where the profit which results, whether 
from the toil or industry, which has been employed in such 
occupations, or from the money which has been hazarded, is 
properly called gain ; from whence the apostle takes this word 
to express fruit, profit, and advantage, and says in like man- 
ner " to gain," signifying to acquire and obtain a useful and 
fruitful thing ; as afterwards, in the third chapter, when speak- 
ing of the worldly advantages which he had formerly had in 
Judaism, he says, that "that which was gain to him," that is 
to say, which was advantageous to him, he had counted loss 
for the love of Christ, and had given it up voluntarily, and 
esteems it no more than dung, " that I may win Christ." This 
figure is so much the more elegant, as our Saviour had al- 
ready employed commerce for an image of the conversion of 
man to the gospel, and of the excellent advantages which ac- 
crued to him from it: "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a 
merchantman seeking goodly pearls, who, when he had found 
one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and 
bought it," Matt. xiii. 45, 46. Paul is just this merchant, and 


the Lord Jesus is the pearl. He has sold all to get it, and in 
it alone he finds a thousand times more happiness, content- 
ment, and profit, than every thing else could have given him. 
This jewel is his great gain. It is his honour, his pleasure, 
and his riches ; and what other men seek in many different 
subjects, he has met with entirely in this pearl alone. It is 
for it that he loves life, that he may tell its worth to other 
men, and publish its glory to the world ; it is that which pre- 
vents his fearing death, being assured that if death should take 
from him the light of the sun, and the use of his senses, and 
the other portions of that life which we lead here below, it 
never could deprive him of the possession of that divine pearl, 
infinitely more sweet and more precious than either the lio-ht 
of the day, or the enjoyment of the rarest and most beautiful 
things in this world. It is a happiness which supported him 
in life, and which did not forsake him in death. But besides 
the fruit which he derived from it himself, for his own good 
and contentment, he made this admirable jewel profitable for 
others, communicating to them both the knowledge of it and 
its possession. For there is this difference between the evan- 
gelical pearl, and those of the world, that to gain in the traffic 
of these you cannot in parting with them yield them to those 
to whom you sell them, without depriving yourself of them. 
But the Lord Jesus will not cease to dwell with you, whilst 
you communicate him to your neighbours. It is an invisible 
and inalienable pearl, which, like the sun, gives itself wholly 
to all believers, and remains entire in each of them. This 
multiplication of the knowledge and enjoyment of the Lord, 
when it is shared with others, and his glory is expanded and 
increased by these means, is also one of the principal gains 
made in this negotiation of the gospel. Hence the apostle 
elsewhere uses the phrase, " to gain men," signifying to con- 
vert them, and lead them to the faith of Jesus Christ. If it 
be a gain as it respects Jesus Christ, who by this means ac- 
quires new servants, and with respect to the believer, who 
enters into the possession of the kingdom of God; so also is 
it a gain as it regards him who converts them to the Lord, 
since by so doing he acquires a brother ; besides which, he 
will not fail to receive from his Master for it the praise and 
the reward which he promises to those who faithfully employ 
his talents. Paul derived all these advantages from his Christ, 
both in life and death. He found them for himself, as Christ 
was his righteousness, his sanctification, and his consolation in 
life ; his happiness, his joy, and his end in death. He found 
them for others, as life and death gave him the means, the one 
of preaching, the other of sealing the gospel, to the glory of 
his Master, and to the edification and conversion of men. 
This is what he means when he says that Christ is gain to him 


living and dying. O holy and blessed soul, who bearest in 
thine own heart Christ, the inexhausti le source of blessed- 
ness! Why are we not like thee? Why have we not in our 
hearts these divine fruits of life and of joy ; this heavenly man- 
na, which supports and preserves us always happy and con- 
tented amidst the accidents and troubles of earth? Beloved 
brethren, it is our own fault if we are not as happy as the 
apostle, if Christ is not gain to us as well as to him, both liv- 
ing and dying. This Christ, the sole author of his happiness, 
the cause and matter of all his gain, presents himself to us 
every day. This divine pearl is not hidden on the coasts of 
oriental seas, nor shut up in shells from whence it cannot be 
extracted but with difficulty, to see and possess its beauties. 
It shows itself to us ; it seeks us, and spreads before our eyes 
all the wonders and perfections of its nature. If we have it 
not, like the apostle, the fault is ours, and not his. Poor 
worldlings, so greedy of gain, that ye seek it in the most 
thorny affairs, among the most dangerous elements and coun- 
tries, who give your lives to the sea and to the winds, and to 
the faith of men, worse and more treacherous still than either 
the sea or the winds, who do and suffer all things, even the 
most dishonest, for I know not what uncertain profits ; how 
is it that ye despise a gain so great and so certain ? In the 
first place, ye are not sure whether these labours which ye 
give yourselves and others will succeed. Of those who sail 
on this sea under such hopes more than half are lost, and we 
see every day new shipwrecks. Instead of which, if you seek 
Jesus Christ, you are assured of finding him ; it is a trade 
which never fails of success. He says, " Come unto me, all ye 
that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," 
Matt. xi. 28. He receives all men ; he rejects none ; and there 
is no wind, no storm, no peril, either on the land or on the 
sea, which can prevent your coming to him. He is present 
every where and at all times. He comes himself, and presents 
himself before us, and solicits us to seek him; he says, "Be- 
hold, I stand at the door, and knock ; if any man hear my 
voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup 
with him," Eev. iii. 20. Now it is a very uncertain thing that 
you should meet in the world the treasures or the goods that 
you seek there, but it is a very certain thing that you will 
never derive from aught you may find there any true gain, or 
any profit worthy of being so called. Far from gaining, when 
you have calculated all, and compared your returns with your 
expenditure, you will repent of your folly, in having lost so 
much time and trouble to acquire so little, and acknowledge 
that these commodities, which have cost you so much, are very 
far from being worth the price at which they are valued. In- 
stead of which, in Jesus Christ you will assuredly find an 


inestimable gain, which you will no sooner have tasted than 
you will be delighted with, and confess that he alone is worth 
more than the whole universe together. For suppose that you 
had all the gold of Peru, and all the pearls of the East, with 
the chiefest honours of the state, and the highest glory that 
any of the great captains and lords of our age have obtained ; 
after all, would you be either the better or the more hap- 
py? Would your mind be more content, or your body more 
healthy ? Would this imaginary blessedness remove the trou- 
ble of your conscience? Would it soften the vexations, the 
fears, the avarice, the envy, and the other passions of your 
soul ? Would it heal your diseases ? Would it cure you of 
the gout, or a fever, or of intense pain ? Do you not see, on 
the contrary, that there are no persons in the world who have 
more care and less repose than these pretended happy people? 
that distrust, remorse, regrets for the past, fears for the future, 
envy, uneasiness, and a thousand such-like passions, the 
scourges of humanity, usually nestle in their hearts, and pre- 
serve themselves there night and day, without giving them 
any respite? Their bodies also are much more subject to 
diseases than those of others ; their toil and their continual 
luxury bringing upon them many others than those to which 
our common nature is liable. Great and tragical misfortunes 
oftener fall on their houses, as the thunder-bolt on the sum- 
mits of the more elevated mountains, or upon the tower or 
pinnacles of some lofty temple. But the Lord Jesus, if you 
receive him truly and faithfully into your heart, will bring 
you all sorts of gains and advantages. He will drive away 
the alarms of conscience, and the fear of the wrath of God, 
which are amongst our greatest miseries. Washing you in his 
blood, and investing you with his righteousness, he will give 
you boldness to approach the throne of grace. He will cause 
the face of his Father to shine upon you in joy and in salva- 
tion ; and whereas other men never look upon him, but they 
behold him inflamed with a terrible and devouring fire, which 
in an instant scorches up whatever joy there may be in their 
miserable souls, you will there see continually a mild and ge- 
nial light, which will shed more contentment in your heart 
than the children of this world possess in the time of their 
greatest prosperity. This Jesus will deliver you from the 
delusions of error, and will show you the true and simple na- 
ture of things, and will fill your understanding with a pure 
and salutary wisdom. He will free you from the slavery of 
sin, the cause of our misery, and will place a gentle peace in 
your hearts, by chasing from them, by the power of his word 
and of his Spirit, that infinite brood of vain lusts, which, like 
a swarm of tyrants, tear you continually, and hold your poor 
soul in a state of lamentable uneasiness. And with respect 


to those diseases and accidents which afflict human nature, if 
he should permit them to happen to you, he will never fail 
with the trial to give you strength to support it, perfecting 
his power in your weakness, and softening in such a way your 
afflictions by the unspeakable consolations of his Spirit, that 
the endurance of them will not prevent your rejoicing in him ; 
witness this Paul, who, with his chain, and in the midst of all 
the persecutions which befell him, did not fail, by the assistance 
of his Lord, to have a thousand times more contentment in 
the secret of his heart, than the Neros, the Senecas, the princes 
and the philosophers of the world, with all the vain-glory of 
their prosperity. 

But if even the things of the world did bring some true and 
solid advantage to men, still it is evident that this would be 
but for a very short period, that is to say, for a few miserable 
years, however much might be extended the short and perish- 
able life that we lead on the earth. Death troubles and ends all 
their enjoyment, whatever it might be, with so much the more 
grief and bitterness in proportion to the ease and contentment 
that they have found here below. There is neither grandeur, 
honour, nor glory which can protect them from this sad blow. 
If these things are gain to them in life, still it is very certain 
that they are not so in death. On the contrary, there are none 
to whom this passage appears more frightful, nor who have so 
much difficulty in meeting it, as those who have the most pos- 
sessed them. But this same Christ who is gain to us in life is 
also gain to us in death. He takes from us its terror, and, 
filling our hearts with a holy hope, he consoles us till our last 
sigh. We then quit all our other possessions. We strip 
ourselves even of this body with its senses, which made a part 
of our being. But for all that we do not lose Jesus Christ. 
This good and merciful Saviour, who has governed and con- 
soled us during life, accompanies us in death. He walks with 
us in that dark and frightful valley, and, in dissipating its ob- 
scurity by his light, conducts us with his crook ; and, on going 
out of this miserable world, elevates us into heaven, where he 
receives our souls into his rest, delivering them from all the 
evils that we suffer or fear here below, and putting them into 
the enjoyment of all the blessings we desire or hope for. 
Thus, behold, dear brethren, how Jesus Christ is gain to us 
living and dying, and how, out of him, strictly speaking, 
there is nothing that is not loss to us both in life and in death. 
For there is no middle path ; we must gain all and have all 
with him, or we must lose all out of him. Let us then give 
up all other blessings, and, acknowledging the vanity of riches, 
honours, and pleasures, the great idols of this world, let us 
embrace the Lord Jesus. Let us lodge him in our heart : may 
this be our part and our inheritance. Let us, individually, 


prepare to receive him on Sunday next, with the fruits of his 
death and resurrection which he presents to us on his holy 
table. Let us wash our souls from all filth and impurity ; and 
let us clothe them with an ardent faith, a lively repentance, 
and a true charity ; that he may willingly enter in to us, that 
he may delight himself there, and remain there for ever for our 
gain, both in life and in death, in this world and in that which 
is to come. To him, with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, one 
true God, blessed for evermore, be honour and glory for ever 
and ever. Amen. 

Preached at Charenton, Palm Sunday, 1st April, 1640. 


verse 22 — 26. 

But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour : yet what 
I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, 
having a desire to depart, and be with Christ, which is far 
better : nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. 
And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and con- 
tinue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith ; that 
your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me 
by my coming to you again. 

The fear of death is one of those passions which is most 
troublesome to the minds of men ; so that the apostle says, in 
the Epistle to the Hebrews, it is by it that they are subjected 
to the service of Satan. This wretched apprehension makes 
them do and suffer an infinity of things contrary both to the 
excellence of their nature, and to the dictates of their con- 
science ; and keeps their minds in a continual state of dis- 
quietude. But if death appears to them hideous, their life is 
not so agreeable but that they oftentimes hate it as much as 
death itself; witness the number of persons who, in their fury, 
have violently deprived themselves of it, finding it so insup- 
portable, that they have been unable to wait with patience 
until nature should come and deliver them from their miseries. 
These passions which are so different, the one against death, 
the other against life, proceed both from the same source, from 
that ignorance into which sin has plunged us, shrouding us as 
in a thick night, in the darkness of which every thing that we 
meet causes alarm, because we know not what it is. But Jesus 
Christ, the Sun of righteousness, has discovered to our senses, 


in the holy light of the gospel which he has spread abroad in 
the world, the true nature of these things, that life is not so 
unhappy that we ought to fly from it, nor death so terrible 
that we should fear it. They have each their use ; and the be- 
liever who knows what Jesus Christ has taught us, so feels and 
apprehends what there is in them of evil, that he also desires 
and possesses what they have of good, and gathers from among 
these sad and piercing thorns with which they are, as it were, 
bristled, those flowers and fruits which the cross of his Lord 
forces them to bear in spite of themselves. Possessed of the 
faith and hopes of his divine Master, he is neither ashamed to 
live, nor fears to die ; as St. Ambrose, one of the most famous 
teachers of the church, said in the last moments of his life. 
The apostle presents us to-day, my brethren, in the text, which 
you have just heard, a fine example of this holy and happy 
condition of the christian soul, which neither hates life nor 
death, which finds its advantage in both, and knows how to 
enjoy each. For having said before (as you may remember) 
that Christ was gain to him living and dying, he now declares 
to us the thought and feeling of his mind in regard to these 
two things ; protesting, that if he were to choose, it would be 
difficult for him to decide which he should take, finding him- 
self, in a manner, suspended and balanced between two dif- 
ferent desires, that of his own good, and the welfare of the 
church ; for if death was an advantage to him by elevating 
him to heaven, his life was useful to the church by the great 
edification that men received from his ministry. " But if I 
live in the flesh, (says he,) this is the fruit of my labour : yet 
what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt 
two, having a desire to depart, and be with Christ, which is 
far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful 
for you." But what he could not himself resolve by his own 
judgment, he adds, that God had decided in the favour and to 
the advantage of the Philippians and of other believers, having 
ordained that he should still remain on earth to complete the 
work of his apostleship. "And having this coniidence, I 
know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your 
furtherance and joy of faith ; that your rejoicing may be more 
abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again." 
This is the subject to which we wish to call your attention my 
brethren, in this discourse; and, that we may proceed in an 
orderly manner, we will consider two points, if it please the 
Lord. The first shall be, the irresolution of the apostle, 
which of the two would be most expedient for him, whether 
death or life, with the two reasons on which it was founded. 
The second, the assurance which he gives of his deliverance 
still to live upon the earth, and to exercise there his ministry 
to the joy and glory of believers. 


I. He says then, in the opening verse, that he does not know 
whether it would be profitable for him to live in the flesh, nor 
which of the two he should choose. Now these two modes of 
speech, " to live according to the flesh," and, " to live in the 
flesh," though they vary but little in words, differ greatly in 
their meaning. For in the writings of the apostle, " to live 
according to the flesh," signifies to follow after its filthy and 
unholy lusts, to pursue and have them for the principles and 
motives of life, a course which belongs only to worldly men, 
who, not being regenerated by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, lead 
a carnal and animal life, plunging into every vice, and not re- 
fusing their sensual souls any of those enjoyments which they 
desire. But " to live in the flesh " simply speaks of living in 
this mortal and corruptible body, such as it is now, which ap- 
plies also to believers while they are sojourning on earth, and 
before they can be admitted to that heavenly life which they 
expect from the grace of God, on leaving this valley of tears. 
For you know that the scripture gives the name of "flesh" 
not only to a vicious nature corrupted by sin, but also to an 
infirm nature, which for its preservation requires the aliments 
of the earth, and which is subject to the accidents of this world 
and to death, however freed it may be from the tyranny of sin, 
by the sanctification of the Spirit from on high. Hence the 
human nature of the Lord himself, although perfectly holy, is, 
nevertheless, called flesh, whilst it was in the state of infirmity, 
as when John says, that " the Word was made flesh," chap. i. 
14; and Paul, that "God was manifest in the flesh," 1 Tim. 
iii. 16 : the time of his sojourn on earth is called in the Epistle 
to the Hebrews " the days of his flesh." As then the nature 
of believers remains under these infirmities whilst they live 
here below, not being unclothed till their departure from the 
earth, you see that it is with good reason thatthe apostle speaks 
of " their life in the flesh," and which Peter calls, for another 
reason, "the time of their sojourning here," 1 Pet. i. 17. Paul 
again employs these words elsewhere in the same sense, when 
he says, "And the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by 
the faith of the Son of God," Gal. ii. 20. And Peter calls also 
in the same manner, and for the same reason, that period which 
we have still to live upon the earth, " the time which remains 
to us in the flesh," 1 Pet. iv. 2. And from thence comes that 
beautiful and elegant opposition that the apostle makes in 
2 Cor. x. 3, " For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war 
after the flesh." But (you will say to me) how could Paul 
know, as he says, that there would be an advantage for him to 
live in the flesh, whereas he declared before, that Jesus Christ 
would be magnified in his body, whether by life or by death, 
and that Christ was gain to him, living or dying; and seeing 
still further, what he adds below, that his stay on the earth 


would serve for the furtherance, and faith, and joy, and glory 
of believers? What fund can be imagined more profitable 
than a life which produced in abundance such excellent fruits ? 
Dear brethren, the difficulty is not great. To speak only of 
the life which this great apostle led on the earth, and to con- 
sider it abstractedly, it is certain that it was extremely profit- 
able, both to others and to himself; those services in which it 
was passed being such, that they could not be exercised with a 
good conscience, without bringing great advantages to him who 
rendered them to others ; peace and joy of mind during this 
life, and a crown of righteousness in the other. But it is not 
in this manner that Paul considers here his temporal life. He 
has compared it with another state, that is to say, with one into 
which he would enter by death, and asks, not simply if life or 
death would be profitable to him, (for he had just declared that 
both in the one and the other there was gain to him,) but rather 
which of the two would be most expedient, whether to live or 
to die ; to shed his blood in the chains of Nero, or to escape 
from those chains ; to bow under this persecution, or to be de- 
livered from it ? And that it was thus appears from what he 
said in the preceding verse, " Christ is gain to me to live or to 
die," where he makes express mention of these two things, 
which he compares together, namely, life and death, in such a 
manner, that saying, in continuation, " Now whether it be pro- 
fitable for me to live in the flesh I wot not," it is evident that 
his thought is, " Now whether it be better for me to live in the 
flesh than to die I know not." But what he adds leaves us no 
reason to doubt it, " What I shall choose I wot not," it being 
clear that there can be no choice where there is but one thing. 
He does not then speak of life alone, but of life compared 
with death, saying that he did not know which of the two to 
choose. Upon which arises a new difficulty. For choice or 
election can only take, place in those things which depend on 
one's own will, and of which we can, if it seem good to us, 
take the one, and leave the other. As to those things whose 
necessary causes are out of ourselves, in nature and in the 
power of God, as we do not deliberate about them, still less 
can we make the election ; seeing that neither the powers of 
our understanding, nor the motions of our will, can either 
hasten or retard their effect. For example, no one deliberates 
which will be best, that the autumn be dry or wet, that he may 
resolve in the end to take the one of these two things rather 
than the other, it being evident that they both depend on 
heaven, and not on us, so that it would be a piece of pure ex- 
travagance to reason or to exercise the mind thereupon. Now 
the life and death of the apostle were things of this nature, 
which depended not en his will, but on the providence of God, 
and on those inferior causes which he had established as well 


in the nature as in the intercourse of men. How then does he 
say that he does not know which of the two he should choose, 
whether to live in the flesh, or to leave it ? In truth, a frail 
and carnal man thinks that on such occasions he has much on 
which to deliberate, whether he ought to die rather than deny 
the gospel, so that his life or death depending on his giving it 
up or confessing it, which are voluntary actions, one might say 
of such a man, that he is employed in choosing between life 
and death. But it was not thus with the apostle ; he is resolved 
rather to die a thousand times than to deny his Master, and 
means, that if he lives, it will be in retaining the faith and 
confession of the gospel ; and that taken for granted, it is clear 
that his life and death did not at all depend on his own will. 
I acknowledge further, that according to the opinion of some 
among the wise pagans, who permitted men to kill themselves 
that they might get rid of the miseries of this world, a man 
might deliberate on his life or death, because that being granted 
we should have both in our own hands and in our own power. 
But God forbid that it should ever have entered into the mind 
of Paul, or of any other true christian, to believe or to au- 
thorize so unnatural a frenzy, guilty in so many ways of re- 
bellion and disobedience against God, of injustice towards our 
neighbour, of murder and cruelty against ourselves, and finally, 
of great impatience and cowardice, in not being able to sup- 
port what the sovereign Lord of the universe has commanded 
us to suffer. What, then, does the apostle mean by saying that 
he does not know which of the two he ought to choose, whether 
life or death ? Dear brethren, I reply, he was in doubt to de- 
termine and to resolve, not the effect, but the desire of these 
two things. He left the guidance of their effect to God, to 
whom it belonged, resolved to take from his hand all that was 
wearisome to him, if even it should be the thing the most con- 
trary to his own wishes. He only looked at which of these 
two events (which were both in the hand of God alone) would 
be most expedient and advantageous to him, that he might in 
future arrest and fix his desires upon it. For though those ef- 
fects which have their causes beyond us are not in our power, 
it is not forbidden us to consider their nature, and to fear or 
desire them, according as they are good or evil. If these are 
things nearly or even entirely equal, in that case we know not 
on which side to incline our desires, reasons presenting them- 
selves in favour of both, which draw them to itself. Our 
mind remains balanced between the two, as a piece of iron 
between two magnets of equal strength. For it is very cer- 
tain (as even philosophy has acknowledged) that we only 
love and desire any thing for the good that we see in it. 
That idea alone touches and attracts our will, so that when 
we do not perceive in one object more good than in another, 


our feelings necessarily remain undecided and irresolute, divi- 
ding themselves between both, without yielding entirely to 
either. This is what happened to the holy apostle Avhen con- 
sidering the two contrary issues that his imprisonment might 
have, that is to say, either life or death ; he found in these two 
objects, in themselves so different, such equal advantages, that 
he knew not which of the two he ought the more or the less to 
desire, his mind remaining so undecided thereupon, that if God 
had left either event in his own choice, he would have had much 
trouble to decide which he ought to take. And this is exactly 
all that the apostle means by these words, " I wot not what I 
shall choose." He then afterwards proposes to us in the two 
following verses the reasons for such admirable indecision : 
" For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, 
and be with Christ, which is far better : nevertheless to abide 
in the flesh is more needful for you." Here are the two load- 
stones which held this holy soul in suspense, the one attract- 
ing it towards heaven, the other detaining it on earth. His 
own good made him desire to be with Christ, that of the church 
obliged him to be contented to remain still among men. If 
he lpved his own happiness, he no less cherished the happi- 
ness and edification of the church. These two desires divided 
his compassion. The one could only be accomplished in hea- 
ven, the other on earth. The apostle could only attain to the 
enjoyment of the first by death, whilst the other could alone 
be gratified by remaining on earth. What shall I do, (says 
he,) and which shall I choose, in so difficult a dilemma? I 
have great reason to wish for death, but I have no less reason 
not to refuse to live. If I consider myself, the happiness 
which awaits me on high with my Lord makes me desire to 
leave the earth. But when I think of you, your interest, which 
is not less dear to me than my own, makes me wish to remain 
still with you. My heart is not at liberty, and on whichever 
side it turns its desires, it there finds a just and legitimate re- 
sistance. You hinder it from taking its flight entirely to the 
skies ; and Christ, who is in the heavens, prevents its remain- 
ing exclusively on the earth. Thus divided between you and 
myself, I do not decidedly wish either for death or life, your 
necessities preventing the one, and my own happiness not per- 
mitting me the other ; but I regard them both with an indif- 
ferent mind, which finds satisfaction in both the accomplish- 
ment of my own happiness in death, and the edification and 
joy of your faith in life: this is, in a word, the thought of the 

Let us consider the two parts in particular : First, that he 
says he is in a strait between two difficulties, shows us how 
false and vain is that weak and languid turn which some give 
to its meaning, when they say that it always left to the will the 


imaginary liberty that they attribute to him of yielding him- 
self to either of these proposed things. I acknowledge that we 
desire and choose things voluntarily, but I also maintain that 
we do that also necessarily. Knowledge arrests and leads cap- 
tive the will, as the apostle speaks here and elsewhere, when 
he says, " The love of Christ constrains us," 2 Cor. v. 14. It 
is by gentle and human ties, I confess, but nevertheless they 
are ties. Then afterwards Paul makes us here understand 
very clearly that death does not destroy our souls, (as say the 
ungodly,) but only detaches them from the body, so that they 
still live after being so separated. That he wished to be un- 
clothed evidently shows it ; for he could not have wished a 
total and entire destruction of his being. The word itself 
which he employs to signify death necessarily proves it. This 
word has been explained in two ways. Some have taken it to 
mean " to be dissolved." Others, whose explanation our Bi- 
bles have followed, say it is " to be unclothed." But in either 
sense it evidently is conclusive of the immortality of the soul. 
For "to be dissolved" signifies to disjoin and separate two 
things which subsisted together; so that, if you follow this 
meaning, the apostle teaches us by the word that death only 
detaches our souls from our bodies, disuniting, without abol- 
ishing, the parts of which they consisted. But if you take the 
word here employed to mean "to dislodge," (as in truth this 
meaning is more suitable to it than the other,) then it is still 
more evident that, according to the doctrine of the apostle, the 
believer does not perish when he dies ; he only changes his 
dwelling, he only leaves this earthly tabernacle, in which he 
has lodged on earth, to go and dwell elsewhere. In the third 
place, besides the existence of the believing soul after death, 
the apostle here teaches us its state and condition, and in these 
two or three words overthrows all that the ancients and the 
moderns have imagined on this subject contrary to truth. 
First he refutes the dream of those who hold that souls on 
leaving the body are plunged into a state of insensibility, their 
reason and other faculties remaining motionless, as if buried 
in a profound sleep, till the day of the resurrection, when they 
will awake, and not before, as these persons take for granted. 
Paul, on the contrary, declares that being dislodged here, we 
are with Christ. How with Christ, the source of light, life, 
and motion itself, if we remain in so sad a picture of death ? 
And further, if it be so, how, and by what right, could the 
apostle say that it was much better for him to be with Christ 
than to live on the earth ? Who does not see that his conver- 
sation here below, which was so full of sense, wisdom, and ac- 
tion, was not worth a thousand times more than the imaginary 
sleep in which these people would drown our souls, which, to 
say the truth, is nothing but a death ? But the apostle no less 


overthrows the error of those who, leaving life and motion to 
believing souls, keep them from heaven, shut up in I know 
not what sort of a place, either under the earth or in the air, 
waiting for the day of resurrection. Although this fantasy 
has had on its side the great authors of antiquity, in which 
they have been followed by the greater number of those first 
and most celebrated teachers who are called "the fathers," nev- 
ertheless it cannot stand with this text of the apostle, which 
testifies clearly that the believer, on leaving the body, goes to 
be with the Lord, and that, on the contrary, we are with the 
Lord when we are parted from these bodies. Since then the 
Lord is in heaven, who does not see that we shall be there 
also, and that that blessed sanctuary of immortality is the true 
home, in which our spirits are received on their departure 
from the body ? From which you see, to remark in passing, 
that the scripture of God is the only source from whence we 
ought to draw our faith, this example showing us that all other 
authors, however praiseworthy they may be, are liable to fall 
into error, and may draw us in after them, if we follow them. 
But these words of the apostle are no less opposed to the state 
in which the Romanists place the souls of the faithful on leav- 
ing this life. For after being dislodged from the body, the 
apostle shows us that they are with the Lord, and consequently 
not in their fabulous purgatory, as they themselves confess 
that the Lord is not in this imaginary place, but in heaven, 
according to the teaching of scripture. It proves nothing to 
allege that Paul was of the number of those who, not having 
any remains of sin to be purged, went straight to heaven. 
For, in the first place, supposing that it was really so, still he 
was not all certain of it, according to the Romish doctrine, 
which will not allow that any man living here below can be 
assured of being now in the grace of God, much less of perse- 
vering in it to the end. And they themselves say sometimes 
that Paul was not certain of not going to hell, much less that 
he was not sure that he should not pass into purgatory. If 
that were the case, he must have feared, according to their sup- 
position, that he should go into this subterranean prison. 
Notwithstanding which, he here speaks of being assured of 
going to heaven with Jesus Christ when he should leave the 
earth. Certainly then he neither believed nor feared their pur- 
gatory, and consequently held quite another doctrine than 
theirs on the state of the soul on its departing this life. Add 
to which, the apostle often speaks of himself as one of those 
who was not yet perfected ; so that, not ceasing to hope with 
assurance that he should be with the Lord as soon as he should 
have parted with his body, he shows us by the same means, 
that such also shall be the condition of all believing souls who 
have embraced the gospel with a lively and sincere faith, as 


well as of those whose faith is feeble and imperfect. After all, 
the scripture makes no difference among the disciples of the 
Lord, as it respects their salvation at the end of this life. As 
they have had the same causes for it in this world, it gives it the 
same effects in the other, and no where tells us that they will be 
purged from their sins, some in one way, and some in another, but 
all by the blood of Jesus Christ alone. It makes all who die in 
the Lord (of which it speaks) pass from earth to heaven, and 
from the flesh immediately to glory ; and says of us all in 
general, that if our earthly habitation of this building be de- 
stroyed, we have a building of God, that is to say, a house not 
made with hands, eternal in the heavens. If some among be- 
lievers had been otherwise treated, scripture would not have 
failed to have told us so ; but as it does not, let us reject, be- 
loved brethren, all these vain opinions, arising from supersti- 
tion and the curiosity of men, fomented by their avarice, and 
supported entirely by obstinacy. Let us hold fast the doctrine 
of Paul. Let us be contented with what he has taught us, 
that if we are truly christians, our souls, on being dislodged 
from their earthly tabernacle, will be received into heaven ; 
that they will be with Christ their Lord in the light of his 
blessed kingdom, enjoying all the felicity of which their na- 
ture is capable in such a state, waiting with sweet and ineffa- 
ble content the great day which will restore them those bodies, 
their precious half, to live and reign eternally. It is of that 
state that we can truly say with the apostle, that it would be 
much better for us than the one in which we languish here. 
As to the insensibility, or to the darkness of I know not what 
sort of subterranean caverns, it is certain that it speaks of 
nothing of the kind, and still less of the flames of the pre- 
tended purgatory, as vivid as those of hell, if we are to be- 
lieve the Romish fables, and I do not think that there is one 
among the holders of these doctrines who would not greatly 
prefer to live on earth, to being burned in such a fire as they im- 
agine that to be. But as to the condition of our souls with 
the Lord, where is he who cannot see that it must be infinitely 
more happy than all that we can imagine of happiness on 
earth ? Here, we are in a storm ; there, we shall be in a calm. 
Here, we are in a perpetual contest ; there, we shall be in a 
triumph. Here, we groan, surrounded by the world and the 
powers of darkness ; there, we shall live with saints and an- 
gels. Here, we are subject to a thousand infirmities, and 
countless sufferings ; there, we shall be delivered from all evil. 
Here, we see but darkly, and as it were through a thick veil ; 
there, we shall see face to face. Here, we are burdened with the 
flesh in many ways ; there, we shall be spiritual and heavenly. 
And, to comprehend all in one word with the apostle, here, 
we are absent from the Lord, the treasure and the glory of our 


heart, the life and the joy of our souls ; there, we shall be with 
him. For it is not possible, my brethren, to be with this sove- 
reign Author of all blessedness, without being at the same time 
perfectly happy ; from which you see how absurd is the ima- 
gination of those who suppose the real presence of the Lord in 
the bread of the Eucharist, desiring that now, that is to say, 
in this earthly pilgrimage, in the midst of infirmity and of 
death, we should be notwithstanding with the Lord, aye, and 
that too in a more intimate manner than we shall be with him 
in the heavens, as they pretend that we have him really and 
substantially in our stomachs, which will not take place in the 
other world. Who does not see that they confound earth 
with heaven, and mix the condition in which we are in this 
body, with that on which we shall enter on being removed 
from hence ; to which Paul gives this particular advantage, 
that then we shall be with the Lord, instead of which, if you 
believe those other teachers, we are already with him ? If we 
are with the Lord, we should neither do nor suffer evil ; we 
should neither be subject to sin nor death. The presence of 
this great Sun of righteousness would dissipate all the dark- 
ness both of our ignorance and of our sorrows, and would 
transform us into so many images of his perfection and glory. 
I acknowledge that formerly, when he was in his state of weak- 
ness, he did not communicate these blessings to all who were 
with him. But the glory in which he now is does not admit 
of any being with him who are not blessed. And Paul shows 
this to us here very expressly, when he says simply, " to be 
with the Lord," meaning to express all the happiness which 
was enjoyed by every spirit in heaven whom God had collected 
there by his grace. It is the sweetness and the glory of that 
condition, my brethren, which makes us desire with the apostle 
to depart. He did not wish for death for its own sake. In it- 
self death is a very hideous thing, there is nothing in it de- 
sirable, nothing but what is agonizing and alarming; thus 
considered, it is what was very truly said by the prince of 
philosophers, the most fearful stroke in the world. For it is 
the most terrible of all the marks of God's anger ; the ruin 
of his most accomplished work, the destruction of our nature, 
the confusion of our senses, and the separation of the most 
beautiful and closest union that can possibly exist. But what- 
ever it may be in itself, to the soul of the christian it is by 
the blessing of God the gate of heaven, and the entrance 
into eternity. The pains of death are but the paths which 
lead into the light of true life. If it pluck his soul from this 
dungeon, where she only breathes with difficulty, it is to place 
her in full liberty; if it defaces this tabernacle of clay in 
which she is imprisoned, it is to lodge her in a heavenly pal- 
ace; and if it spoil her of a form, it is to reclothe her in an- 


other incomparably more excellent. Paul, who knew it, and 
who had seen and tasted its effects in paradise, where he had 
been in ecstasy, considering these wonderful consequences of 
death, desired it for this reason, and regarded it not only with- 
out fear, but even with joy, as the end of his labours, as the 
haven of his painful voyage, as the day of his coronation, and 
the commencement of his happiness and glory. And indeed 
I am not astonished that he did so. For all that death may 
have in itself that is painful and bitter, is nothing in compar- 
ison of that infinite and eternal felicity into which it conducts 
happy souls ; so that the ardent desire which the apostle had 
to arrive at this blissful state, possessing all his senses, and 
holding them, as it were, in a state of rapturous enjoyment, 
caused him to disregard what there might be painful in the 
passage itself, and not only did he not fear it, but he even 
wished for it ; according to what we experience every day in 
the natural consequences of the emotions of our hearts, that 
when we love and are ardently attached to one object, we also 
infallibly embrace and desire those means which we know to 
be indispensable for its attainment. But however ardent 
might be this just and legitimate desire which the apostle had 
for his own happiness, and for the separation necessary for 
him to acquire it, it was usefulness to the church which ar- 
rested him and held him in suspense, as he expresses to us in 
these words," " Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more need- 
ful for you." The spiritual welfare of those believers to whom 
he wrote touched him no less than his own. O admirable 
love, which, for the profit of others, is willing to be deprived 
of its own happiness, and to remain in a state of suffering! 
It was this same heart which elsewhere wished to be separated 
from Christ for the sake of his brethren, Eom. ix. 3 : he pre- 
fers their salvation to his own, and has more earnestness for 
their edification than for his own glory. It is true that here 
he only speaks of the delay, and not of the loss of his salva- 
tion. For he was deeply assured that sooner or later he should 
arrive at the haven of a blessed immortality. But he pre- 
ferred reaching this some years later, to leaving the instruc- 
tion of his converts imperfect. He was like a good and wise 
mother, who, ardently desirous of following her absent hus- 
band, is prevented by her anxiety for her children, preferring 
to deprive herself of her own happiness rather than fail in 
seeking their good. Such was this holy apostle. The love of 
those believers, the children whom he had begotten by the 
gospel, and the zeal which he felt for their furtherance in it, 
kept him on earth, and made him support with patience the 
absence of his beloved Lord, and the sorrows which it caused 
him. From which you see how pastors ought to love their 
flocks, as this example incites them to seek and to procure 


their edification with as much or more ardour than their own 

II. After having thus declared and explained by pertinent 
reasons his doubt which of the two would be most expedient 
for him, whether to die or to live, the apostle adds, in the 
second part of this text, that he was sure God would decide 
this his difficulty to the advantage and consolation of the Phi- 
lippians: "And I know that I shall abide and continue with 
you all for your furtherance and joy of faith ; that your re- 
joicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my 
coming to you again." Upon which we have two things to 
consider ; the one, If the event corresponded with this certain 
hope which Paul testified that he felt, that is to say, if he was 
delivered from the imprisonment in which he had been kept 
at Rome, and again saw the Philippians and the other churches 
of Greece. And in the second place, What were the fruits 
that he promised himself from this deliverance ? On the first 
point, it is a thing on which all the ancient historians and 
teachers of Christianity are agreed, that Paul was delivered 
from his first bonds, of which we have the account written in 
the book of the Acts ; and that, after having been detained for 
more than two years a prisoner at Rome, he was at last set at 
liberty, and still lived till the first persecution of the christians, 
which took place in the tenth year of the emperor Nero, and 
the sixty-fourth from the birth of the Lord ; a time at which 
they all hold that Paul was again a prisoner for the second 
time at Rome, and there suffered martyrdom with a great many 
other believers. According to this he continued to live for 
six years after his deliverance from his first imprisonment, and 
consequently had leisure to visit the Philippians, and the other 
churches which he had founded in Greece. Ancient historians 
hold, that on leaving Rome, he went to preach the gospel in 
the countries of the west ; and it appears by the Epistle to the 
Romans that he had had such a design ; for he says, (Rom. xv. 14,) 
that he desired to go to Rome, and from thence into Spain. 
But whether he did or did not preach in the provinces of the 
west, it ought to be considered certain that he again visited the 
churches of Philippi and Colosse, and others which he had 
established in Greece and Asia. For in the first place, he 
speaks of it with great assurance, saying, not only that he 
knew, but that he was certain of abiding and continuing with 
them ; and likewise in the following chapter, where, promising 
to send Timothy to them, he adds, "And I trust in the Lord 
that I also shall soon come," chap. ii. 24 ; and in a parallel 
passage in the Epistle to Philemon, a Colossian, written about 
the same year as this, he says, " Prepare me a lodging, for 
I trust that through your prayers I shall be given to j^ou." 
But that which is unanswerable is, that it appears by the 


Second Epistle to Timothy, written certainly at Eome a little 
before his martyrdom, that he made a second voyage into 
Italy, and that before doing so he had visited the churches of 
Greece and Asia; for he tells Timothy that Erastus had re- 
mained at Corinth, and that he had left Trophimus sick at 
Miletus, and says that he had left a cloak, with some books 
and parchments, with one named Carpus, in Troas, 2 Tim. iv. 
13, 20 ; things which can in no way coincide with the first 
voyage that Paul made to Eome, when he was carried there a 
prisoner ; it being clear, from the history that Luke has so ac- 
curately described to us in the Acts, that he did not then either 
go to Miletus, or to Corinth, or Troas, and did not even ap- 
proach them, but sailed direct from Palestine to the west, 
taking his course below Candia, and from thence (having been 
carried by a tempest) to the island of Malta, from whence he 
afterwards went to Rome; and there is no appearance that 
these things relate to the voyage that he had formerly made 
from Macedonia into Palestine, mentioned and described by 
Luke in the Acts, from the long period that had since passed ; 
for Paul having been detained for two years in Cesarea, before 
setting out for Italy, he must have arrived at Rome about three 
years after having made this voyage. How could he suitably 
remark, after so long a period, that he had left Trophimus sick 
at Miletus? and still more, why did he tell Timothy of it, who 
having been his companion in this voyage, would have known 
it without requiring to be told of it ? Certainly, to unravel this 
difficulty, we must necessarily presuppose that Paul, having 
been delivered from his first imprisonment, visited some years 
after the churches of Greece and Asia, according to the design 
and hope which he here declares he possessed ; and that having 
seen, consoled, and edified them, on leaving them he passed 
through Troas, where he left the books and parchments in 
the hands of Carpus, and from thence to Miletus, and to 
Corinth, where Trophimus and Erastus remaiued, and returned 
for the second time to Rome, where he was again put into 
prison, and there suffered martyrdom, a little time after having 
written the Second Epistle to Timothy. There is one thing 
which appears to contradict this presumption, namely, what 
we read in the 20th chapter of the Acts, that Paul, going to 
Jerusalem before his first Roman imprisonment, said to the 
elders of the Ephesian church, " that he knew that they should 
see his face no more," Acts xx. 25. But the answer is easy ; 
he spoke then according to his own apprehension, arising from 
the warning that had been given him by the Spirit, that in 
every city, and in Jerusalem also, bonds and sorrows awaited 
him. Not knowing then what would be the result of these trials, 
he imagined that, from the greatness of his troubles, he should 
die under them, although the Lord had otherwise decreed, 


having delivered him from his first bonds, and afforded him 
the opportunity of seeing once more his dear flocks, and even 
afterwards of foreseeing this very happiness, and to conceive a 
certain hope of it, before the thing happened, as appears by 
this text. "We may then conclude that the apostle, according 
to the assurance he here gives to the Philippians, was delivered 
from the danger of death in which he then was, and continued 
still on earth, and even returned to them. From which you 
see, dear brethren, that the courage and inclination of believers 
for death is sometimes followed by their deliverance. God 
again gives them that life which they had committed to him, 
as he formerly restored Isaac to Abraham, being contented with 
their voluntary offering. This apostle was ready to die for him, 
he was prepared to do so, and even his desire tended that way. 
The Lord accepted his inclination, and receiving it as a holy ob- 
lation, gave him notwithstanding life and liberty ; teaching U3 
to have always our loins girded, and our lamps burning, par- 
ticularly in times of sickness, and in those circumstances in 
which our lives are in danger. For the best and most proper 
means to escape them is to be prepared for them, and resigned 
early to the will of God. 

As to the objects and effects of this deliverance of the apos- 
tle, he represents them as of two kinds: in the first place, 
The furtherance of the Philippians, and the joy of their faith, 
that is to say, their edification and consolation. For though 
the preaching of the apostle was full of fruit and of spiritual 
utility, it cannot be doubted but that it would be still more 
efficacious to the Philippians after the glorious trial of so long 
an imprisonment, and that their faith would be strengthened, 
and their piety fortified, by the example of his patience, by 
the sight of his person, and by hearing his words. Their joy 
would also be very great at seeing again among them, safe and 
sound, so good and so dear a master, after all the dangers he 
had gone through, and the apprehensions they had felt on his 
account. But he calls this joy that they experienced at again 
seeing him " the joy of their faith," as it sprang entirely from 
feelings of piety and faith in Jesus Christ. There was nothing 
carnal or worldly in it. It was only founded on considera- 
tions of faith, of heaven, and of salvation, and not on those 
of the earth. He also adds another effect of his deliverance, 
" That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ 
for me by my coming to you again." What is this rejoicing 
of believers in Jesus Christ? It is in my opinion the holy 
assurance they feel of the power and wisdom of the Lord, and 
of his love for his own, and of his care in making all things 
work together for their good, and for their salvation. For 
that is the only subject of their rejoicing, and the whole cause 
of their joy and confidence. "Some trust in chariots, and 


some in horses ; but we" (say they) " will remember the name 
of the Lord our God," Psal. xx. 7. In every thing else they 
acknowledge their weakness and vileness. But they rejoice in 
the name of the Lord Jesus. They triumph in it. They 
think of it and speak of it in a lofty manner. Now that the 
deliverance and return of the apostle would make this rejoic- 
ing abound in the hearts and mouths of the Philippians, and 
of all the other believers who were then alive, is very evident. 
For they saw clearly in his person what and how excellent was 
the goodness and power of that Saviour, who had preserved 
his servant from the jaws of the lions, and had miraculously 
delivered him from the prison of Nero, having faithfdlly de- 
fended him from the efforts of the world and of hell, which 
both conspired for his ruin. They also saw in it the care 
which the Lord had for their edification, who for their good 
and for their furtherance in piety, and not for any other con- 
sideration, preserved his apostle on earth, contrary to the ap- 
pearances of things, against the interests of his happiness, and 
against his own wishes. And this, dear brethren, is the fruit 
that we should draw from the deliverances that God gives to 
his servants, whether in relieving them from those sicknesses 
to which our nature is subject, or in snatching them from the 
hands of their enemies, or in keeping them in the midst of 
the many dangers by which they are surrounded. May these 
proofs which we daily receive of his goodness and sovereign 
power increase more and more our confidence in him, and 
cause the rejoicing that we have in our hearts to abound, and 
to receive new strength and vigour, so that not only we may 
be consoled in the sorrows and various difficulties of this mis- 
erable life, but triumph even in the midst of the greatest 
storms, having nothing low, cowardly, or mean, either in our 
minds or in our mouths. May all our thoughts and our words 
be courageous and lofty, and worthy of the grandeur of that 
Christ whose disciples, whose sheep, and whose members we 

Such, my brethren, is the exposition of this text of the 
apostle. Let us profit by it, meditating upon and carefully 
practising the lessons contained in it, on which we have briefly 
touched each in its own place. Let us, above all, receive into 
our hearts what he teaches us of the nature of death, and of 
the use of life, that we may neither fear the one nor abuse the 
other, and reduce to their true and legitimate form the incli- 
nations and feelings we should entertain for both. This is the 
most important point of heavenly doctrine ; and if a pagan 
formerly said that the life of a wise and virtuous man should 
be a perpetual meditation on death, how much more ought a 
christian to say so, the disciple of a crucified Master, who 
only leads them to life through death! But besides the qua- 


litj and instructions of the Lord, the necessity of the thing 
itself recommends its meditation to us. For as to those other 
evils against which we prepare ourselves, such as poverty, 
exile, sorrows, or such like, perhaps they may never happen 
to us. But death is inevitable, and there is neither birth nor 
condition that can secure either us or those belonging to us 
against it. Let us then all equally think of it, and prepare 
ourselves for it early, so that whenever it comes it may not 
take us unawares. Let us see it as it really is, and without 
being alarmed by the vile and hideous form in which painters 
and men of the world have represented it ; but let us believe 
what the apostle says of it, that if we are truly christians, it 
is much better for us than life. It is much that it frees us 
from those continual miseries in which we languish here below. 
This consideration alone makes it desirable to many persons, 
and has led entire nations to celebrate the funerals of their 
dead with songs and rejoicings, not like us with tears and 
lamentations, with which they accompany the birth of their 
children, thinking that those are to be pitied who are entering 
into a life so full of sorrows, and that those only are happy 
who are leaving it. But, O christian believer ! besides the 
sufferings from which death will deliver you, it will put you 
in possession of a great and assured happiness; it will elevate 
you into the heavens, and give you life with Jesus Christ. 
Let those fear death whose minds superstition has filled with 
error, who see nothing after this life but fire and torments, 
either the flames of hell or of purgatory. You, disciple of 
Jesus, who have learned of his apostle that there is now no 
condemnation for those that are in him, and who behold him 
in the heavens extending his hand to draw you thither where 
he is, how can you dread so happy a transition? Are you 
afraid of being with Christ ? Do you fear to enter into the com- 
pany of his saints? into the fellowship of his angels? into 
the marvellous light of his eternal kingdom, where your faith 
will be changed into sight, and your hope into rejoicing? 
How does the creed you profess accord with this fear ? There 
have been, and there still are, an immense number of persons 
in the world, who cheerfully expose themselves to death for the 
hope of acquiring a vain glory to their name. But ours, 
brethren, gives a true and solid glory, not to our name, which 
is nothing, but to ourselves, placing us in the heavens by the 
side of the Lord. Let us then be fully resolved that it is 
much better for us to be dislodged than to remain in this 
earthly tabernacle, and instead of dreading with the world 
this last hour, let us desire it with the apostle, and welcome it 
when it sjiall present itself to us, as the period of our freedom ; 
saying, like Simeon with a heart full of joy, " Lord, now let- 
test thou thy servant depart in peace." Being thus inclined, 


we shall be the happiest men in the world. Nothing will dis- 
turb our lives, or tempt our piety; for of what can we be 
afraid if we do not fear death? nay, if, far from fearing it, we 
desire it ? May this same thought console us when we mourn 
the death of those who have been dear to us ; for as they are 
with the Lord, it is more proper to rejoice at their happiness 
than to complain at their removal from us. It is those who 
remain on the earth for whom we should weep, those whom 
the world and the flesh estrange from God, who are every day 
in sorrow or in danger. But, christians, I beseech you, do 
not thus disgrace those holy beings whom you have seen de- 
part from this earth in the faith and hope of the Lord, with 
the garments of his household, and the marks of his election 
and love, in the midst of the applause and the rejoicing of an- 
gels; do not do them this dishonour, to mourn their triumph, 
and mar the consummation of their happiness by your tears. 
May faith quickly dry those which nature forces from you. 
May their happiness soften your grief, and oblige you to keep 
your hearts continually elevated toward heaven, where they 
are gone before, waiting with patience and true christian reso- 
lution till you are yourselves gathered in peace, to live and 
reign eternally with your Master and theirs, Jesus the Prince 
of life, and the Lord of glory ; to whom, with the Father, and 
the Holy Spirit, one true God, blessed for ever, be all honour 
and praise, world without end. Amen. 

Preached at Charenton, Sunday, 7th May, 1640. 


verse 27—28. 

Only let your conversation he as it becometh the gospel of Christ; 
that ivhether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear 
of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind 
striving together for the faith of the gospel; and in nothing ter- 
rified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token 
of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. 

In all enterprises of importance, it is a grand point to have 
them well and happily commenced; and he who said, that this 
is to have done half the work, was not far from the truth, be- 
cause, as their beginnings are usually more difficult than their 
terminations, they occupy men more, and contribute thereby 
to the execution of all the rest. But however important this 


commencement of an affair may be, it is of no value, but 
turns rather to shame and loss, if it be not followed up, and 
carried on to its completion, with a* constant perseverance in 
the enterprise undertaken. He who begins and does not finish, 
besides the time and trouble which he so uselessly fritters 
away, naturally exposes himself to the blame and ridicule of 
the world, and remains justly deprived of the fruits of his 
own labour. But if this occurs in all the enterprises of human 
life which are of any consequence, it is more especially so in 
the profession of religion, incomparably the greatest and most 
important of all. It is not only useless to have commenced 
it if you do not persevere in it, but it is very hurtful ; the 
warmth and the exertion of the beginning redoubling the un- 
happiness of those who, in a cowardly manner, decline from 
so noble and divine a task. This is why the holy apostle, 
after having before praised the commencement of the Philip- 
pians in the gospel of the Lord, now exhorts them, in the text 
that you have just heard, to persevere constantly, without ever 
allowing themselves to be carried out of that path of life, in 
which they were running so resolutely, by any opposing force 
or violence. In the words immediately preceding, he pro- 
mised them, if you remember, that however adverse appear- 
ances might seem, he should be released from prison, and once 
more revisit them, to the joy and edification of their faith. He 
entreats them, while waiting for this consolation, that they would 
continue always to progress from good to better in the study and 
exercise of religion : " Only let your conversation be as it becom- 
eth the gospel of Christ : that whether I come and see you, or'else 
be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one 
spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the 
gospel ; and in nothing terrified by your adversaries : which 
is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salva- 
tion, and that of God." That we may meditate on this text 
with more regularity and profit, by the assistance of the Lord, 
we will consider four things in it consecutively. The first 
shall be the general exhortation that the apostle gave to the 
Philippians, " To let their conversation be as it becometh the 
gospel of Christ." The three others will be the three par- 
ticular duties which he proceeds to point out, and which are 
as three principal parts of this evangelical conversation which 
he here recommends : the first, " To stand fast in one spirit ;" 
the second, " To strive together with one mind ;" and the third, 
" Not to be terrified by their adversaries." May God give us 
grace so to acquit ourselves in this meditation, that all our lives 
henceforth may be a constant practice of them, keeping our- 
selves all united together under the governance of the Spirit 
of the Lord Jesus, continuing in his fear and love, and coura- 
geously repelling with the shield of faith every arrow of our 


visible and invisible enemies, to the glory of our great God, 
and to our own salvation. 

I. The general exhortation of the apostle, which we pro- 
posed to treat in the first place, is conceived in these terms, 
" Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of 
Christ." The first word, " only," relates to what he had said 
before, when, having spoken of the issue of his imprisonment, 
of life, of death, and of the fruit of both, he declared that he 
was firmly assured of remaining on earth, and of again seeing 
the church of the Philippians, and of edifying and consoling 
them by his presence. Adding then now, " Only converse ac- 
cording to the gospel." As if he had said, As God will con- 
duct all these things to his glory and your good, leave to him 
the care of all that remains, and give yourselves entirely to the 
study of religion, living in exact accordance with that form 
which is prescribed to you in his word. From which you per- 
ceive, dear brethren, that the whole business of a believing 
soul is to live here holily and religiously, in a word, evan- 
gelically. It is the one thing needful. As to every thing else, 
God has either already provided, or will provide in time to 
come, without our anxiously caring for it. For he has fully 
executed on his side all that was necessary for the establish- 
ment of our happiness. He has given us his Son, and has se- 
cured to us, by his cross, the remission of our sins, peace in 
our consciences, and an entrance into and the enjoyment of 
a heavenly life. He has sent his apostles, and abundantly 
blessed their ministry. He has called us to himself, and has 
made his will known to us in the gospel of his Son. And for 
the time to come, he has promised by his faithfulness to keep 
us tenderly, and to make all things work together for our good, 
however contrary or adverse they may appear, so that neither 
the accidents of life, nor the horrors of death, shall ever be 
able to deprive us of these treasures. He has taken all this 
upon himself, and does not wish that any of these thoughts 
should occupy our minds. What then is the work that he re- 
quires of us ? It consists entirely in this, that enjoying his 
benefits with perfect contentment for time past, and an assured 
hope for the future, we should dispose our lives according to 
his commandments, and that we should employ our whole care, 
time, and attention, to see that our conversation be worthy of 
his name and of his gospel. This is the only employment he 
has given us, the only work that he asks of us. He releases 
us from all other care, and is contented that we should solely 
attend to this. And indeed how happy should we be if we 
were to stay our minds on this study alone, leaving those 
things which so uselessly occupy other men ! This work 
always brings its fruit with it, the repose and joy of the con- 
science. It is agreeable to God, useful to our neighbours, and 


salutary to ourselves. It neither leaves regret, shame, disgust, 
nor repentance in the heart. Every thing else, however spe- 
cious it may appear, whether in life, or even in the religion of 
men, is either vain or profitable for "little," as Paul says, 
speaking of " bodily exercise." " But godliness is profitable 
for all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and 
of that which is to come," 1 Tim. iv. 8. Hence the reason why 
he recommends this exclusively to his Philippians : " Only 
let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ." 
It is word for word in the original, àçiu; rot tiayyeXiov, " converse 
worthily, or in a manner worthy of the gospel," I remark this 
to show you how vain are the pretensions of the advocates of 
merit, when they desire to support their proud opinion on 
what is said in the scripture, " That the faithful are counted 
worthy of the kingdom of God," 2 Thess. i. 5 ; as if these words 
signified that they deserved the heavenly kingdom, and that 
the value of their works was such that God could not refuse 
them this reward, without doing them wrong, and committing 
an injustice. This text clearly shows that that is not the 
apostle's meaning. For when Paul here says " a conversation 
worthy of the gospel," you see plainly that he does not intend 
a conversation which deserves the gospel, (this would be a 
palpable misconstruction,) any more than John, when he com- 
manded those who received his baptism " to bring forth fruits 
meet for repentance," meant works which deserved repentance; 
it would be a manifest absurdity to interpret it thus. Who 
does not see that in both these places the worthiness spoken 
of signifies nothing but a certain relationship of suitableness, 
and not of merit, consisting in this, that the conversation of 
which Paul speaks be such as the gospel requires, bearing its 
impress and its marks ; and that the fruits of which John speaks 
should be such as repentance demands and produces, works 
such as are becoming and suitable to be done by those who are 
truly repentant? It is in the same sense that Paul speaks in 
the Epistle to the Ephesians, where he beseeches his converts 
" to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they were called ;" 
that is to say, not in such a manner as would imply they were 
called for their own merit, but (as every one must acknowledge) 
in a manner that should be suitable to their vocation, and as it 
became persons to live who are thus called. In the same sense 
must the apostle be understood when he enjoins the Colossians 
" to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord," Ool. i. 10 ; and 
likewise what he writes to the Thessalonians, that they should 
" walk worthy of God, who hath called you to his kingdom 
and glory," 1 Thess. ii. 12. Now it is evident that he means 
to speak, not of a life which deserves God, (which would be 
an absurd and impious thought,) but rather of a life suitable 
to the name and the quality which they bore of children of 


God, and which should accord with the excellence of their call- 
ing ; so that when he elsewhere says that believers who suffer 
persecution with faith and patience are " counted worthy of 
the heavenly kingdom," 2 Thess. i. 5, he does not mean to 
imply that they have merited this reward, and that the value 
of their sufferings is equal to that of this glory, and may be 
weighed against it, contrary to what he expressly denies, Rom. 
viii. 18; but simply that they have marks suitable to the king- 
dom of God, and, as it were, the garments of his household, 
and the qualities to which, out of his pure mercy in Jesus 
Christ, he promises eternal life ; according to that maxim so 
often repeated by the apostle, that " if we suffer with him, we 
shall also reign with him." 

But to return to our subject. Every one must sufficiently 
see and understand what this conversation worthy of the Spi- 
rit of Christ is, which Paul here proposes to us as the only 
business of our vocation, without requiring anything else. 
Would to God that it were not more difficult to practise than 
to understand it ! And yet, to speak truly, that we acquit our- 
selves so ill arises oftener from our cowardice and wickedness 
than from the difficulty of the thing itself. The gospel of Je- 
sus Christ is that holy doctrine which the Lord has brought 
us from the bosom of the Father, which he has published on 
earth by the ministry of his apostles, which he has revealed to 
us by his Spirit, and the profession of which he has given us 
grace to embrace. The mystery of godliness is, without doubt, 
great ; it proposes to us a God manifest in the flesh, justified 
by the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, be- 
lieved on in the world, raised into glory ; and teaching us be- 
sides, that after having received the grace of God, profitable to 
all men, we should renounce iniquity and worldly lusts, and 
live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world, 
looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of 
our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. The conversation 
worthy of the gospel is that which agrees with this beautiful 
and heavenly doctrine, and which bears its credentials ; in 
which none of the productions of ignorance or error appear ; 
where the rays of knowledge and faith shine throughout ; it is, 
in short, a life which bears a just relation to the rules of the 
Lord Jesus, tinted with his beauty, and moulded and formed 
after his example. This holy law teaches us that vice is the 
greatest evil of our nature ; that it degrades man from all ex- 
cellence ; that it changes him into a brute or a devil ; that it 
kindles against us that violent and just anger of Almighty 
God, which nothing can extinguish but the blood of his own 
Son. Undoubtedly the life in which vice reigns is then unworthy 
of the gospel, and bears no relation to it; on the contrary, 
wherever it exists, it opposes and seeks to overthrow it. This 


same law warns us that the earth is the abode of vanity and 
death ; that this world is but a shadow which passeth away ; 
that its pleasures, its honours and its riches are but false idols, 
incapable of affording us any real or solid contentment. Those 
then who fix their desires on it, and whose whole life is only 
occupied in serving mammon, or in worshipping ambition, 
voluptuousness, and luxury, have nothing in their conversation 
which is worthy of that high and heavenly doctrine of which 
they make profession. The gospel declares to us that our hap- 
piness is above in the heavens, hid in Jesus Christ, the depos- 
itary of 6ur glory and immortality ; that in this high sanctuary 
are our country, our city, and our abode, and that love and 
holiness are its sovereign law. To respond to this instruction, 
who does not see that we must continually have our thoughts, 
our desires, and our hearts entirely in heaven ? that the design 
of arriving there ought to be our only anxiety, and that there- 
fore the search for that which can lead us thither, that is to 
say, the love of God and of our neighbour, ought to occupy 
all our mind and intellect ? From hence, believers, judge, I 
pray you, how very small is the number of those who converse 
in a manner worthy of the gospel; and, seized with shame and 
horror, let us henceforth labour to be of the chosen few. Let 
us leave every other care to attend to this. Eemember the di- 
rection of the apostle, " Only let your conversation be as it be- 
eometh the gospel." God calls you to that alone. You call 
yourselves " evangelical ;" and those even who try to corrupt 
your faith, by adulterating it with a mixture of the traditions of 
the flesh, still flatter you with this title. Be then such in truth. 
May this name be your glory before God and men. Do no- 
thing that is unworthy of it. Consult it on everything which 
presents itself to you. This name alone, if you listen to it, 
will be sufficient to teach you what is your duty. Eeceive no- 
thing that is contrary to it, either in your belief or in your 
manners. If the world invite you to share in its superstitions, 
in its vices, in its amusements, reflect how unworthy are these 
things of the gospel of Christ. If the flesh entice you to hatred, 
vengeance, or impurity, remember how directly contrary are 
these feelings to the voice and to the Spirit of your Master. 
If it were only in consideration of our own honour, it would 
ever oblige us to lead a life conformable with our profession, 
there being nothing more shameful than to do the contrary of 
what we say, and by the example of our manners to ruin that 
which we have professed and established with the mouth. This 
contradiction is so abominable, and so unworthy of every hon- 
ourable mind, that even among the sects of worldly philoso- 
phers, which were at best but folly and vanity, every one en- 
deavoured to adjust his manners to his dogmas, and to live as 
he taught. But, alas ! here is much more than honour. For 


we shall be judged at the last day by our life, and not by our 
language ; by our conversation, and not by our profession. 
If we do not live in a way worthy of the gospel, in vain shall 
we have made profession of it, in vain shall we have called 
ourselves evangelical, or have been so called by others. All 
this vain-glory will be useless, yea more, it will be infinitely 
hurtful to us. We shall be reproached with it, and with good 
reason, as the greatest of our crimes, having had the insolence 
to profane so holy a name, and of not having been ashamed 
to lead the life of a pagan under the profession of a christian, 
sullying and tarnishing the venerable name and holy law of 
the Lord Jesus, the King of angels and of men, by the blem- 
ishes and filth of our actions. God preserve us, dear brethren, 
from falling into so frightful a misfortune. Let us be true 
christians, and evangelical. May our conversation henceforth 
be worthy of this gospel that we maintain. 

To enforce so necessary a duty on the Philippians, Paul, be- 
sides their own interest in salvation, represents also to them 
that which he takes in it : " Let your conversation be as it 
becometh the gospel of Christ ; so that (says he) whether I 
come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, 
that you stand fast in one spirit." If ever there was a master 
whose disciples were bound to hold him in high esteem, it was 
doubtless this apostle, who had delivered to the Philippians, 
not the vain and perishable arts and sciences of the world, but 
the knowledge of God, and of salvation : who had drawn them 
from the abyss of hell into the true light of heaven ; and who, 
for communicating to them this divine treasure, had even suf- 
fered shame and persecution to the very shedding his blood, 
so great and so ardent was the love he bore them. To which 
must be united the situation in which he then was, bound with 
a chain for the gospel, and the constancy of his affection for 
them, which he so tenderly felt in the midst of all his troubles. 
What did they not owe to such a man ? And certainly the 
care that they had shown for him during his bonds, a sure sign 
of the love which they bore him, evidenced also that they 
would have been very much concerned to have displeased him. 
He puts then this consideration foremost; and to lead them to 
live in a manner worthy of the gospel, he proposes to them 
the joy that he should receive at hearing such good news. I 
ask of you no other reward (says he) for so many troubles that 
I have undergone to instruct you in the gospel, than that your 
conversation should respond to my doctrine, and that you 
should show forth in your manners that beautiful and holy 
way I have set before you in my instructions. This ardent 
affection that I had and still have for your salvation will be 
abundantly rewarded, if the gospel of my Lord shines as well 
in your conduct as it is retained in your mouths. Such, my 


brethren, is the desire of Paul, and of every true minister of 
Jesus Christ. All the payment that they seek for their labo- 
rious exertions is the sanctification and salvation of their flocks. 
As in truth, from the little taste that you have for heavenly 
things, you will confess that there is no labour in the world 
whose fruit is either more delicious or more glorious than to 
see religion flourish, and sanctification, the first fruits of a 
blessed immortality, the ornament and the light of heaven, in 
a flock that you have yourselves instructed and formed. If 
fathers and mothers bless the infinite trouble that the educa- 
tion of their children has given them when they profit by it, 
and if the masters of worldly arts esteem themselves happy to 
have made some clever scholars in their calling, what must be 
the delight of ministers of the Lord, when they see his word 
prosper in their hands, and the ground that he had committed 
to them crowned with his blessing and entirely covered with 
those divine fruits of godliness which endure eternally ! 
sweet and happy troubles ! O blessed and valuable labour ! 
Dear brethren, if the care that we take to instruct you by the 
preaching of the gospel deserve that you should have any re- 
gard for your comfort, give us that which the apostle here asks 
from the Philippians. May the purity of your conversation 
testify to the power and divinity of our gospel, that your man- 
ners may show that we have not laboured in vain, and that 
your life may praise our preaching. God knows, dearly be- 
loved brethren, that it is the most ardent of our wishes, that it 
is the joy and crown that we daily entreat from him. As for the 
rest, when the apostle says to the Philippians, " That whether 
I come and see you, or else be absent," it is not to retract what 
he had said in the preceding verses of his certain return to 
them, but only to make them understand that he had nothing 
more at heart than the goodness and holiness of their life ; that 
if present among them, he could see nothing more agreeable ; 
and that absent from them, he could hear nothing sweeter than 
the report of their constancy and progress in piety. 

II. But it is time to come to the three last points of our 
text. For the apostle, instead of saying that he desires no- 
thing more than to learn, whether absent or present, that the 
Philippians behaved in a way worthy of the gospel, (as it 
seems that the order and natural course of the language would 
require,) acts otherwise ; and, that he might take occasion to 
particularize some of the principal duties of an evangelical 
conversation, see how he explains himself, " To the end that I 
may hear of your condition, that you stand fast in one spirit, 
with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel ; 
and in nothing terrified by your adversaries." You see that 
he touches three points in which an evangelical conversation 
almost entirely consists, in its three principal and most im- 


portant parts. The first is to " stand fast in one spirit." The 
word vrftKurc in the original signifies to hold on, and to remain 
firm at one's post, and is derived from the combats, in which 
each endeavoured to keep his place, and to maintain himself 
in his seat, without going back, or being shaken by all the at- 
tacks of the enemy. The apostle, employing this image to 
represent to us the life of the faithful, means, that in this spir- 
itual warfare we should never allow ourselves to be drawn from 
that position in which God has placed us, and that all together, 
like his faithful and valiant soldiers, courageously repulsing the 
enemy, we should always stand firm, without quitting either 
the faith or the profession which by his grace we have made. 
And as things diametrically opposite sometimes help to give 
us light, you will know what to stand fast is, if you consider 
what fault is opposed to this duty. In the first place, they 
fail in it who, having given their name to the Lord, shamefully 
desert his standard, to pass into the enemy's camp, like those 
who quit the profession of the gospel to follow that of super- 
stition. In the second, those fail who, retaining the profession 
of Christianity, corrupt it by the intermixture of error, and 
(like the Galatians formerly) having begun in the Spirit, end 
in the flesh, receiving into their faith the deadly leaven of 
some false opinion. Thirdly, those likewise fail in it who, 
remaining in the camp of Israel, relax in their affection to 
piety, or, like the angel of Ephesus, fall from their first love. 
I would add also, that in religion not to advance is, in some 
respects, to retrograde. For this strength, as much as depends 
on us, is extremely active, and in continual motion ; and when 
it makes no progress, it is a sign that it is weakened, and that 
it has lost something of its natural vigour. From which you 
see, my brethren, the duty opposed to these failings, and sig- 
nified here by the apostle, when he commands us to stand fast ; 
it is a firm and inextinguishable perseverance, not only in the 
profession, but also in the zeal of piety, in the purity of the 
faith, in the warmth of love, and in the reality of all the other 
christian virtues ; so that instead of losing any thing in this 
respect, we should rather go on acquiring and growing, daily, 
until we come to the measure of the perfect stature, which is 
in Jesus Christ. Now the apostle does not only say that we 
should stand fast, he adds, " in one spirit," which may be un- 
derstood in two ways, according as the word " spirit" is used ; 
either for the spirit of a man, that is to say, his understanding, 
or for the Holy Spirit, and the grace which he communicates 
to believers. Taking it in the first sense, the meaning of the 
apostle will be, that believers stand fast, and persevere to- 
gether in the same mind, having all one thought, one faith, 
one belief. For the understanding being the seat of our know- 
ledge, those are said to have the same mind who have the 


same belief and the same sentiments in religion. The present 
state of the Philippian church gave occasion to the apostle to 
address this good and suitable exhortation to them ; for the evil 
workers of the circumcision, whom he afterwards names, having 
an eye upon this flock, and endeavouring to slip in their false 
and deadly opinions, of the necessity of the Mosaic law, and 
of the mixture of its ceremonies with the gospel, gave just 
reason for Paul to apprehend that their minds might be di- 
vided, and that some members of this church might receive in 
their understandings this strange doctrine. Thus he could 
very properly exhort them to stand fast in one spirit, and not 
to permit that diversity of opinions should divide and puzzle 
their minds, breaking that holy unity of faith in which his 
preaching had previously bound them. 

But perhaps it will not be less proper to refer what he says 
to the Spirit of God, and to his grace, and those salutary effects 
which are often called by his name in scripture. For this 
Spirit is the sole cause of our constancy and perseverance in 
the faith ; and as our body, deprived of the soul, which gives it 
life, immediately falls to the earth, having no more strength 
nor vigour, so also it is impossible that a man should 
remain good and continue firm in piety if this holy Spirit 
should fail him. It is then with good reason that the apostle 
refers us to him for continuance in this holy profession : " Stand 
fast in one spirit/' says he ; that is to say, by the Spirit of God 
with which Jesus Christ has baptized you. Eetain him 
amongst you, so that, delighting and animating you with his 
salutary presence, he may preserve you from backsliding. 
How many are there, dear brethren, whom the neglect of this 
great Comforter has thrown into deadly sorrows ! They grieve 
him by the impurity of their lives, by the coldness of their 
devotion, by the licence of their thoughts, by the audacity of 
their reasonings, and by the impiety of their opinions. This 
divine guest, grieved by such bad and irreverent conduct, de- 
parts from their souls, which are as immediately taken posses- 
sion of by their spiritual enemy, who never fails in the end 
either to drive them into the abyss of infidelity or superstition. 
This is undoubtedly the real cause of the rebellion of the 
greater part of those who have quitted us. That we may not 
fall into their calamity, let us walk purely and holily under the 
eyes of the Holy Spirit. Let us serve him in truth; let us 
draw him into our hearts. Let us take no rest till we hear his 
voice, and experience his movements. But the apostle says 
that this Spirit is one. It is very true that that might relate 
to his person. For as there is but one Father, and one Son, 
so also there is but one Spirit. But I am of opinion that here 
Paul rather looks to the uniformity of his graces; for he 
spreads in all believers, though in divers measures, the same 


faith, the same love, and the same hope ; by reason of which 
the scripture says that we all make but one and the same 
body: " For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body," 
1 Cor. xii. 13. It is then in the enjoyment and participation 
of this one Spirit that we must look for our continuance in the 
church ; it being evident that no body could live if agitated 
by two different minds, nor could one state support itself if 
the people were governed by divers and conflicting authorities ; 
so also would the church inevitably fall into ruin, were the 
members of whom it is composed led, or rather, to speak more 
properly, torn, by many contrary spirits. 

III. But because this perseverance of believers is opposed 
in many places, and by many kinds of enemies, it is impossible 
to maintain it without fighting. This is the reason why the 
apostle adds, as the second part of our duty, "Striving to- 
gether with one mind by the faith of the gospel." Some trans- 
late it for the faith of the gospel, or "together with ;" as if it 
directed us to aid or help the faith with all our powers, to pre- 
vent its being extinguished, or tarnished, or obscured by the 
malice or violence of the enemy. But it seems much more 
proper to understand it as it is translated in our Bible, " by 
the faith ;" by which faith is the weapon, and not merely the 
subject of our warfare. Thus you see that the apostle recom- 
mends us, in the first place, to fight ; then, union and agree- 
ment in this spiritual combat; and finally, shows us what 
means or what arms we ought to employ, that is to say, the 
faith of the gospel, that we may happily accomplish it. As to 
the first, it is not here only that Paul compares the condition 
of the christian to a warfare. " Endure hardness, (says he to 
Timothy,) as a good soldier of Jesus Christ," 2 Tim. ii. 3. 
" No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of 
this life." And elsewhere to the Ephesians, he bids us " put 
on the whole armour of God ; for we wrestle not against flesh 
and blood, but against principalities and powers," Eph. vi. 11, 
12. And in 2 Cor. x. 4, he says of our warfare, and of the 
arms that must be employed in it, that they " are not carnal, 
but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds." 
Indeed, if you consider attentively the condition of a christian, 
you will confess that that which Job formerly said of all men 
in general belongs to him in particular, namely, that his life 
was a warfare upon earth, Job vii. 1, or, (to follow more closely 
the comparison of our apostle,) a furious and bloody battle, in 
which he is always in danger, and always engaged with cruel 
and implacable enemies. Jesus Christ is his General ; the 
spectator, arbiter, and judge of his combats. The devil and 
all his servants, the profane, the superstitious, heretics, tyrants, 
and others whose numbers are infinite, are his adversaries. 
Our flesh itself, with its perverse inclinations, is on their side, 


and importunes us as much or more than the rest by its un- 
derstanding and collusion with the enemy without. The sub- 
ject of this battle is the glory and the truth of the Lord Jesus, 
our own salvation, and that of our brethren. The adversaries 
to snatch this precious treasure from our hands, employ both 
force and artifice, and there is nothing so abominable or so in- 
famous that is not good to them, if they can injure us by it. 
Who can tell all their stratagems, the colouring of their 
sophisms to embellish lies, the tricks of their chicanery to 
conceal the truth ; the subtlety of their wit, their promises, 
their flatteries, their menaces, and their invectives ; their words, 
sometimes as it were steeped in honey, and then again in gall ; 
their arrows, some of gold, and others of iron ; their calumnies 
against the good cause, their pretences for the bad ; their as- 
siduity, their zeal, and their indefatigable industry, in spying 
out all our steps, in searching out all the secrets of our condi- 
tion, to find out our weak point and attack us by it ? Who 
can tell their harshness and their blind injustice to those who 
do not yield to them ; the unkindnesses and the hatred with 
which they oppress them ; the shame and reproach with which 
they overwhelm them ; the tricks and delusions they practise 
on them ? If these artifices do not succeed, they at last resort 
to cruelty ; and the history of the first and last ages of the 
church shows us that there never was any thing more furious 
nor more inhuman among men, than the rage of the enemies 
of the gospel, except that other abominable and hellish device 
of Satan, when he raises up persecutors against us from among 
our own offspring ; or false friends, who only remain with 
Jesus Christ to give him up to the priests, and who only kiss 
to betray. I have not enumerated many other of the wicked- 
nesses of the enemy. I should never have done were I to enter 
into all the particulars. Neither is it necessary, for the trials 
in which it pleases God to place us all every day teach us enough 
of them. It is then against this thick crowd, against men and 
devils, against the great and little, against the learned and the 
ignorant, against impiety and superstition, against fraud and 
violence, against enemies from without and false brethren from 
within, that you must fight, christian ! If there is difficulty, 
there is still more honour in the enterprise ; and its necessity 
is not less apparent than its glory. For it must be granted 
that in this engagement you must either conquer or perish 
eternally. There is no middle course. Courage, then, be- 
lievers ! Listen to the apostle, who cries to you, "Fight ;" and 
to Christ, who promises to assist you in the combat, and to 
crown you in the heavens after the victory. Stand fast, and 
support this great onset. Shut your ears to the flatteries and 
to the promises of the enemy. Eeject the vain fancies of those 
who uudertake to make truth asrree with error, and light with 


darkness. Persevere in an open and pure profession of the 
gospel. Oppose your confession to the blasphemies of the 
enemy; your prayers to his curses ; your thoughts, your words, 
and your actions to all his efforts. May the day of the Lord 
find you standing. " Whosoever shall persevere unto the end, 
the same shall be saved," Matt. xiv. 13. 

But remember, believers, to fight together, as the apostle di- 
rects, with one mind, and one soul, as the original, /"'<* <P»xn. As 
there is no body or society more noble than the church, so 
there is none in which union and concord are more necessary. 
You are begotten of the same seed, that is to say, of the gos- 
pel, brought up in the same family, nourished with the same 
food, animated by the same Spirit, destined to the same inheri- 
tance. If so many close ties cannot unite you, at any rate let 
this common warfare in which you are engaged, this common 
danger that you run, and these common enemies with whom 
you contend, extinguish your differences, and make you rally 
together for your common preservation and defence. Often 
among the kingdoms of the earth, the fear of an enemy with- 
out stays the misunderstandings and quarrels within. Let us 
imitate in this respect the prudence of the children of this 
world. Let every difference that there may be in our 
thoughts, our dispositions, and affections sleep in eternal 
silence. Let us all do what the cause of the Saviour requires, 
keeping whatever strength we have for this enterprise alone, 
without wasting the least part elsewhere. "Whatever you may 
have of wisdom or courage, turn it against the enemy. May 
he alone feel the vigour of your arm, and the point of your 
weapons. It is not against your brother that they should be 
employed. They are made, and they have been given you, to 
defend, and not to wound him; to preserve, and not to shed 
his blood. God forbid that the army of Israel should do as 
the army of Midian did formerly ; which, alarmed by a spirit 
of terror and division, turned against themselves, every one 
raising his sword against his companion. For if, when well 
united together, we can nevertheless only subsist by a mi- 
racle, what can we expect but certain and inevitable ruin if 
we separate; and if, instead of helping, we tear each other? 
I say it with regret, it is nothing but our division, my breth- 
ren, which has prevented the defeat of the enemy, and the 
triumph of the church. If we had all fought together, we 
should long ago have been conquerors. But Satan, who can- 
not stand against our united forces, planned to separate them, 
by throwing amongst us unhappy differences, which have 
weakened our body, and uselessly consumed against ourselves 
that which ought only to have been employed against the 
common enemy. As the effects of discord are so fatal, dear 
brethren, if we love the glory of God, if we desire our own 


salvation, let us promptly extinguish whatever there may have 
been amongst us of hatred, animosity, differences, and passions, 
contrary to that mutual love which we owe to one another. 
Let us give all our interest to the glory of God, and the sal- 
vation of the church, and let us unite in such a perfect con- 
cord, that it may be truly said of us as of the early christians, 
" that we have but one heart and one soul," Acts iv. 32 ; and 
that all this congregation may be like a divine army of people, 
who, animated by one spirit, and aiming at the same object, 
fight all together with one mind. Then we shall experience 
the truth of the saying of the prophet, " that it is there that 
the Lord has commanded his blessing, and life for evermore," 
Psal. cxxxiii. 

Besides, for this great combat, the apostle arms us with faith 
alone. By it believers have " conquered kingdoms," Heb. xi. 
By it they have " shut the mouths of lions, stopped the violence 
of fire, and escaped the edge of the sword." By it they waxed 
valiant in fight, and turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 
Faith is the shield of the believer, by which he quenches the 
fiery darts of the enemy, Eph. vi. 16. It is the victory which 
has overcome the world. For if we are really and truly per- 
suaded of the truth of the gospel, what temptation can there 
be that shall be capable of shaking us ? What arrow or what 
sword shall not be turned back by such a solid shield? Will 
the multitude of the enemy, the pomp of their preparation, 
their strength, and their fury, make us throw down our arms? 
How can they, when faith shows us Jesus Christ on our side, 
with the legions of his angels, infinitely more powerful both 
in number and strength than all the armies of the world and 
of hell? We will laugh at their efforts, and be as little 
touched with the magnificence of their promises as alarmed at 
the terror of their threatenings, because faith shows us bless- 
ings and evils infinitely greater than those of the world ; the 
first prepared for those who persevere, and the others for those 
who are led away by temptation. Prisons, losses, exile, afflic- 
tions, torments, and even death itself, can do nothing against 
us; as we are assured that for these little sufferings we shall 
for ever enjoy a perfect felicity in the heavens. For the earth 
and its dust, God will give us heaven and its light ; for false » 
hope and vanity, a solid and weighty glory ; for trifling plea- 
sures, eternal bliss; for a building of clay, a heavenly palace; 
for a vile life, a blessed immortality. Dear brethren, it is only 
the want of faith which ruins us. If we have it only as a 
grain of mustard seed, we may remove mountains, as says the 
Lord in the gospel, Matth. xvii. 20 ; that is to say, we might 
do wonders. There would be no difficulty that we should not 
conquer, no mountain could present itself which faith could 
not remove, nor abyss that it would not close before us. 


IV. After having supplied us with so good a weapon, the 
apOstle is right in ordering us, in the third place, " to be in 
nothing terrified by our adversaries." I acknowledge, that to 
look at them with the mind of the flesh, they are capable of 
causing us alarm. But if you regard them with the eye of 
faith, you will find that all their fury ought only to excite 
pity, and not apprehension. For in reality they are but an 
empty trouble, a tempest which, with much noise and clamour, 
discharges itself uselessly, without being able to do us any 
harm. Let them fret and storm as much as they please, they 
cannot take from us the Lord Jesus, the peace of conscience, 
the joy of the Holy Ghost, the heavenly life; that is to say in 
one word, supreme happiness. Their blows, for the most part, 
can but fall on this poor flesh, and upon those things with 
which it is surrounded. Our true life, and our true blessings, 
are in safety, above the reach of their rage. " Fear not (says 
the Lord) those who can kill the body, but are not able to kill 
the soul." Besides, they have no other power over our body, 
or over the other things which we possess on earth, but what God 
gives them, that same God who is for us, our Prince and our 
Father. Live then in assurance, O truly blessed flock of the 
Lord Jesus. Look on your adversaries without dismay, with 
a calm and steadfast soul. These great efforts, in which they 
exhaust all their mind and strength, shall fall on their own 
heads, and instead of ruining, will only help to establish you. 
Instead of disturbing, they will permanently establish your 
happiness. And this is what Paul represents, when he adds, 
in speaking of their hatred, and of the persecution with which 
they pursue the truth, "that it is to them a token of perdi- 
tion, but to you of salvation." For since it is just in God (as 
the apostle teaches elsewhere) that affliction should be given to 
those who afflict us, and rest to us who are afflicted, according 
to his immutable decree to punish for ever in hell those who 
persecute the gospel, and to crown with immortal glory in the 
heavens those who suffer for the truth ; what greater or more 
certain testimony can you have, both of their perdition and 
of your salvation, than the afflictions that they make you suf- 
fer for the profession of his law? I acknowledge that there is 
a great difference in the union of these two consequences with 
that which precedes them, and that if the persecution of the 
one merits hell, heaven is not due to the patience of the others, 
judging them by strict justice. But while it is the goodness 
and mercy of the Lord which crowns your patience with his 
glory, whereas it is his justice which punishes the cruelty of 
your persecutors with the torments of hell ; nevertheless, as 
the consequences of these two effects are necessary and certain, 
and that it cannot be but that the believer, suffering with pa- 
tience, shall be saved, nor but that the adversary, persecuting 


the truth, must perish, it is obvious that the war which they 
wage against you on account of the gospel is a clear and cer- 
tain demonstration, both of their perdition and of your salva- 
tion. Far, then, from being troubled by this sort of affliction, 
you ought, on the contrary, to regard it as a seal of your hap- 
piness ; and as to your adversaries, to conceive for them more 
pity than hatred or indignation, seeing the unhappy end to 
which they are proceeding, by the blind hatred and unjust 
persecution of that which they ought most to love and 
cherish. You see, beloved brethren, what is the meaning of 
the lesson which the apostle gives us to-day in this text. 
Never was it more needed than in these degenerate times, in 
which impiety and error, profaneness and superstition, perfidy 
and treason from within, hatred and violence from without, 
employ every thing that is most malignant and dangerous 
against the truth. Believers, as God has given you the grace- 
to know and to embrace its profession, fight valiantly for it, 
and show in this conflict a constancy and a courage worthy of 
so good a cause. Be not troubled, either by the efforts of the 
enemies, or the seductions of false brethren, nor yet by the 
bad examples of apostates. Fix your eyes on Jesus the 
Prince of your profession. May nothing snatch from your 
heart the divine deposit that he has placed there. Preserve it 
more tenderly than the apple of your eye. Stand nobly fast 
in one spirit. Fight together with one heart by the faith of 
the gospel, opposing your union to the plots of the enemy ; 
the truth of heaven to the lies of the earth ; the hope of sal- 
vation to the threats of the world; the consolation of the 
Spirit, and the glory of the world to come, to the evils we 
must endure in this ; and to calumny a conversation which is 
truly worthy of this heavenly doctrine, of which you make 
profession : so that after having here fought this good fight, 
kept the faith, and finished your course, you may one day re- 
ceive, from the merciful hand of the Lord Jesus, in the com- 
pany of saints and angels, that crown of righteousness laid up 
for those who shall have loved his appearing. Thus may it 
be with you ; and to him, the only true God, with the Father, 
and the Holy Spirit, be honour, praise, and glory, for ever and 
ever. Amen. 

Preached at Charenton, Sunday, 10th June, 1640. 



VEKSES 28 — 30. 

And that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, 
not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake ; having 
the same conflict ivhich ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me. 

One of the christian's greatest consolations, amidst all his 
conflicts, is the firm assurance which he feels that all his affairs 
are conducted by the providence of God, and that nothing can 
happen to him but by divine permission. For this sovereign 
Lord, loving us infinitely, and being moreover perfectly wise 
and powerful, if we be persuaded that it is he who governs our 
life, it is impossible but that we should look forward with a 
well-grounded hope of a happy termination to all the difficulties 
in which we may find ourselves involved. For this reason we 
ought always to have our eyes upon his hand, and consider it 
as the true source which dispenses to us good or evil ; to enjoy 
the one with gratitude, and to bear the other with submission. 
But we ought to be particularly armed with this thought in 
those afflictions which from their nature most violently trouble 
our mind, and be certain that it is the Lord which sends them, 
and that without his will and his order neither men, nor other 
causes which alarm us, could have any power against us. Thus 
Job, when suddenly overwhelmed with divers calamities, did 
not fix his mind either upon the Sabeans and Chaldeans who 
had ravaged and pillaged his flocks, nor on the tempest which 
had crushed all his family under the ruins of a single house ; 
but rising above the heavens to God himself, and acknowledg- 
ing him as the true author of all these severe blows, made this 
beautiful and magnificent confession, " The Lord hath given, 
and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord." 
David afterwards did the same in a case of a similar nature, 
when Shimei insolently insulted him in his deep affliction; 
" Let him do it, (said he to his servants,) for the Lord has said 
to him, Curse David." 2 Sam. xvi. 11. This our apostle points 
out to his Philippians in the text we have just read, for their 
consolation under the persecutions they were suffering for the 
gospel. He conjures them in the preceding verses not to be 
alarmed either by the menaces or cruelties of their adversaries, 
telling them that these trials would terminate in the perdition 
of the persecutors, and in the salvation of the persecuted. Now, 
to keep and fix this thought in their hearts, he recalls to their 
recollection, that it is God who guides the whole business ; so 
that from the power, wisdom, and justice of this great Director, 


they should wait with confidence the happy success which he 
promises them in this conflict : " And that of God. For unto 
you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on 
him, but also to suffer for his sake : having the same conflict 
which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me." The phrase 
at the beginning, "And that of God," may relate to both the 
points to which we have adverted ; that is to say, as much to 
the perdition of the persecutors, who were hastening it by their 
outrages, as to the salvation of believers, who were advancing 
to it by their sufferings ; for it is evident, in the doctrine of 
scripture, that however wicked and impious the cruelties of 
the enemies of the gospel may be against believers, neverthe- 
less, it cannot happen without the permission and the guidance 
of the Lord, who also punishes the rebellion of those who re- 
ject his grace, and do not receive the love of his truth ; leaving 
them to fall into horrors worthy of the curse of heaven and 
earth, and particularly directing the point of their rage against 
those of his servants whom he desires either to chastise, prove, 
or glorify. And this is what David meant in saying that God 
had " commanded Shimei to curse him :" not to signify that the 
Lord (that is to say, equity and goodness itself) had incited 
this wretch to commit so abominable an outrage, or that he 
had given him an order for it either by word or vision ; but 
rather, that finding these evils in the heart of this miserable 
being, he was expressly willing to permit that they should be 
poured out on his servant for the purpose of humbling him. 
But although this meaning may be very true, it appears in this 
place that the apostle was only thinking of what regarded be- 
lievers. This is the only, or at least the principal, design of 
his words, as appears by the reason he adds, which only relates 
to believers ; " For unto you it is given in the behalf of Jesus 
Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his 
sake;" evidently signifying by these words, "and that of God," 
that he meant only, or principally, the arrangement which the 
Lord had made for conducting the Philippians to salvation by 
the sufferings with which they were exercised for the profession 
of his gospel. For this reason, without stopping to inquire 
into the conduct of divine Providence with regard to perse- 
cutors, we will simply rest upon the fact that it has ordained 
the afflictions of believers, and consider the part that it takes 
in them, according to what the apostle teaches us in this text: 
and, that we may the better understand it, we will divide the 
exposition into three parts, examining, in the first place, what 
he says, " that it was freely given to the Philippians to believe 
in Christ ;" and then what he adds, " that, besides that, it had 
also been freely given to them to suffer for the Lord ;" and, 
finally, that which he particularly touches in their sufferings, 
in saying that they sustain a conflict like that which they had 


formerly seen in him, and also like the one in which they knew 
him to be then at Rome. 

I. What he says at the beginning, that it was on the behalf 
of Ghrist that it was given them to believe in him, and also to 
suffer for him, seems to mean that it is for the love of the Lord 
Jesus, because of him, and for his sake, that God hath given 
him these two graces ; which is indeed perfectly true. For the 
Lord Jesus having by his death appeased the anger of God, 
and opened a road for his loving-kindness, has made us ca- 
pable of receiving his favours, whereas, without such a pro- 
pitiation, we could have only been the objects of his indignation 
and vengeance ; from whence it follows that he is the cause, 
and the only source, both of the first grace that God has given 
us, to believe, and of all the others which he adds, and particu- 
larly of the honour which he communicates to us when he 
chooses us for witnesses and defenders of his gospel. Never- 
theless, to look at the words of the apostle as they are in the 
original, it seems that this is not what he here intends, and 
that these words, " for Christ," simply signify, " in what re- 
gards Jesus Christ, in that which concerns his cause and his 
gospel." As if he had said, that in the affairs of the Lord and 
of his salvation all is given to us freely, and nothing happens, 
with respect to them, which does not come from the pure 
bounty of God, and both what we do and what we suffer is 
alike grace. The apostle uses the same mode of speaking in 
the 10th verse of the 4th chapter, praising the Philippians, 
that the care they had of him was flourishing again ; where 
the words which signify, " as to the care that you have forme," 
are arrauged exactly in the same manner as these which are 
here employed, to say " for Christ, or in behalf of Christ," as 
those know who understand the Greek language. 

As to the faith of which the apostle speaks in the first place, 
one may gather from his words three things : 1st, That faith 
is the gift of God ; " it is given you to believe," says he. 
2dly, That it is a, free gift, that is to say, has been communicated 
to us by the sole goodness of God, without any merit on our 
part ; " it is freely given you," says he ; for the word here em- 
ployed by the apostle signifies precisely that. And, finally, 
that it is a grace peculiar to believers, and not common to 
other men ; " it is given to you" says he, opposing them to others, 
and particularly to the adversaries of whom he spoke in the 
preceding verse. That faith is a gift of God, is a truth so evi- 
dent, that there is no christian who does not acknowledge it 
to be so. And you will see it easily, if you consider for a 
moment, on the one side, what is the object of faith ; and, on 
the other, what is the power of our nature. Faith is a 
certain and assured knowledge of the mysteries of the gospel ; 
it is "to believe in Jesus," to see, with open eyes, the mercy, 


the wisdom, the power, and the justice of God displayed in 
their highest degree on the cross of his Son for the redemption of 
men. The things which are the objects of faith are all heavenly 
and divine ; viz., the purpose of God to send his Son into the 
world, and to clothe him with our flesh, and to deliver him up 
to the death of the cross, the price of his sufferings, and the 
expiation of our sins ; his resurrection, and his triumph, a 
blessed immortality, the exquisite and singular example of 
holiness and of love which the gospel presents to us. Never 
had the eye of man seen any of these things, his ear had never 
heard them, nor had they ever entered into his heart to con- 
ceive. It is God alone who, from the depth of his treasures, 
has drawn, forth this new and unknown wisdom. And as it 
is he who has revealed it by the Son of his love, it is he also 
who has presented us its image by the hand of his ministers, 
having, by the power of his Spirit, raised up the apostles and 
their successors, and particularly those who have taught us. 
All this is the work of his goodness, and of his power. But 
this is not all. Besides that, the substance itself of this holy 
doctrine is altogether the fruit and the production of God, 
neither men nor angels having been capable of revealing any- 
thing like it ; the very circumstance of our having received it 
into our hearts, and been persuaded of its truth, is also a gift of 
this same Lord. You see likewise that the apostle does not 
simply say that faith has been given us, which a malicious 
person might, in some degree, pervert, as being the sole object 
of faith, and of the doctrine that it embraces, which all ac- 
knowledge to be the instruction of God. But he says ex- 
pressly, " that it is given us to believe in Jesus Christ," which 
necessarily implies that this movement itself of our heart, 
opening to the light of the gospel, and receiving the truth 
that the preacher presents to it, is a gift of God, and not a 
work of nature. I acknowledge that if our mind were in its 
right and legitimate state, similar to that in which it was 
originally created, it would receive this truth as soon as it was 
presented to it; and that, to make us believe the mysteries of 
the gospel, it would only be necessary to declare them to us, as 
to make a man that can see perceive an object, it only requires 
to be placed before his eyes. But the eyes of our understand- 
ing having been injured, or rather blinded, by sin, which has 
spoiled and changed all the powers of our nature, proposing 
the gospel to us is no more sufficient to insure our belief, than 
would presenting visible objects to a blind man suffice to 
make him see. And this is what the apostle teaches us else- 
where, where, speaking of the mysteries of the gospel, he says, 
" that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit 
of God," those which the Spirit of God has revealed to his 
servants, "for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he 


know them, because they are spiritually discerned," 1 Cor. ii. 
14. Only it should be remarked, that instead of its being a 
simple infirmity and want of natural power, claiming rather 
pity than blame, which prevents the blind from seeing the 
light which is offered him, it is a voluntary sin deserving the 
hatred of God and men, which makes the unbeliever misunder- 
stand and reject the truth which is proposed to him. But if 
the causes are different, the effects, nevertheless, are similar; 
it being no more possible for the natural man to understand 
and believe the gospel, than for the blind man to see the sun. 
Also, as when a blind man is restored to sight and to the per- 
ception of visible objects, there are none who do not acknow- 
ledge that this blessing is a gift from heaven, it being clear 
that nature could not produce such an effect; so also ought we 
to confess, that if we believe in Jesus Christ, it is a grace 
which has been given us of God, and not an emotion which, 
we owe to the natural strength of our mind. You see also 
that the Lord, speaking to believers in the 6th chapter of 
John, ver. 45, says, quoting the prophet Isaiah, " that they are 
taught of God," because it is he who, by the voice of his 
Spirit, moulds them into the obedience of his word, and writes 
his covenant in the heart, as says another prophet, Jer. xxxi. 
32. It is he who opened the heart of Lydia to attend to Paul, 
Acts xvi. 14. Paul plants, and Apollos waters ; but they are 
neither of them anything. It is God which giveth the in- 
crease. We are his husbandry, and his work, 1 Cor. iii. 6, 7, 
9. It is he who revealed his secret to Peter; it was not flesh 
and blood, Matt. xvi. 17. It is he who revealed his Son to 
Paul, shining in his heart, that he might enlighten the Gen- 
tiles, Gal. i. 15. In fine, it is he who, according to his good 
pleasure, hides these things from the wise and prudent, and 
reveals them unto babes, 2 Cor. iv. 6. 

But the apostle does not say simply that it has been given 
us to believe. He makes use of a word which signifies that it 
has been given to us freely, as our Bibles have faithfully trans- 
lated it ; and by so doing has refuted two errors, both contrary 
to the truth. The first is that of those who, acknowledging 
that faith is a gift, add, that the Lord makes a present of it to 
those who have made a good use of the light of nature ; as if, 
for example, they were to see a pagan who lives sincerely in 
his error, they pretend that the Lord, induced by this praise- 
worthy conduct, gives him the faith of the gospel ; and this is 
what they call in the schools "grace of congruity," or prepara- 
tion for grace. From this they are not far who say, that the 
good use of the pretended free-will in afflictions, mortifications, 
and the humility before God which they produce in the hearts 
of the elect, is the preparation which invites him to distribute 
faith to them. The apostle condemns the vanity of these im- 


aginations, saying, in one word, that it is given to us freely to 
believe. For according to these people, faith is not a free gift ; 
it has not been given to us for nothing, but for and in conse- 
quence of these pretended preparations. Besides, as, according 
to the apostle, Eom. xiv. 23, all that is done without faith is 
sin, it is impossible to understand how man, before having 
faith, can do anything which should either force or invite God 
to give it to him. What ! do sins invite God to do good to 
men ? to give them the greatest of all blessings, faith, which 
comprehends in itself salvation and eternal life ? Now if these 
pretended preparations invite God to give us faith, undoubtedly 
they must then please him, notwithstanding which the apostle 
tells us elsewhere, that without faith it is impossible to please 
him, Heb. xi. 6. Finally, if God crowns some works with the 
gift of faith, or some dispositions previous to faith, he either 
does it in virtue of the works themselves, because they deserve 
it, or in consequence of some one of his promises. They will 
not say the former. For they expressly confess, that to speak 
properly man deserves nothing out of a state of grace. But 
neither can they pretend the latter, because the promises of 
God are only addressed to those who are in communion with 
him, and who consequently already have faith, without which 
none can enter into communion with God, according to that 
which the apostle teaches us in Heb. xi. 6, "He that cometh 
to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of 
them that diligently seek him." God then promises nothing 
to those who have not faith, and consequently neither gives it 
them, nor anything else, in virtue of any promise which he had 
made, but from his goodness and free grace alone, without be- 
ing at all obliged to do so, either by their works or his promi- 
ses. The second error is of those who say that God gives faith 
to such as he foresees will make a good use of it. But if that 
were the case, what the apostle says, that he gives it to us freely 
to believe, would be false ; it being evident that, according to 
this, faith would not be given us for nothing. God would 
give it in consideration of something that would be its price — 
some equivalent on the part of man ; instead of which, that 
which is given gratuitously excludes all price, and he who re- 
ceives the gift after having done something, and he who re- 
ceives before he has performed anything, (for with regard to 
the future and the past there is no difference,) would both in 
the end pay a real price. To which I again add, that the im- 
agination of these people destroys itself. For this foresight of 
which they speak, of the good use of faith, can only signify 
that God foresees, that supposing he gives faith to a man, to 
Peter or to Paul, for example, the individual having once this 
gift of grace, will in consequence love the Lord and his neigh- 
bour, that is to say, that he will have piety and love. Now 


faith is of such a nature, that he who possesses it truly has also 
piety and love, according to the doctrine of John ; " Whoso- 
ever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God," 1 John 
v. 1 ; he loves him by whom he is begotten, and those that are 
begotten of him ; so that there is no man in whom you can 
presuppose faith, without also, as a necessary consequence, 
adding both piety and love. Thus it appears that God never 
foresees that any man will abuse faith, for that would be to fore- 
see a false thing, an impossibility in itself, opposed to his own 
truth ; and which cannot be said of the Lord without blas- 
phemy. If then this pretended foresight of a good use of faith 
was the reason why he gives faith, he would give it to all men, 
it not being possible for any of those to whom he truly gives 
it to abuse it. Nevertheless, one sees by experience that the 
number of those to whom God gives faith is very limited, in 
comparison of those whom he permits to fall into infidelity. 
Let us then acknowledge that it is the grace of God alone, and 
not any consideration of what man has done, or of what he 
will do in future, which induces God to give him faith. He 
gives it to us that we may make a good use of it. This good 
use is the end and effect of his gift, but it is not its cause. 
From whence it follows, that, according to the apostle in this 
place, faith is truly, in every respect and degree, a free gift of 

But in the third and last place, he again here gives us a very 
excellent lesson ; that is to say, that the grace of God by which 
we believe, is peculiar to us, according to what he elsewhere 
expressly says, "that all men have not faith," 2 Thess. iii. 2. 
For it is to distinguish believers from others, and to point out 
the advantage that they have over them, that he says to them 
individually, "It is given you to believe." Consequently, this 
gift was peculiar to them, as common things make no differ- 
ence between the subjects to which they are common. From 
whence it appears how false is the opinion of those who dog- 
matize that the grace by which faith is produced in us is uni- 
versal, and common either to all men, or at least to those to 
whom the gospel is preached. For if that were the case, it 
would not be the gift of God (common to all according to this 
supposition) which would distinguish the believer from the un- 
believer, but the choice and effort of the man who receives 
that which others have rejected. Now Paul desires that this 
gift of God which causes us to believe should distinguish us 
from others. " It is given you to believe," says he. Accord- 
ing to the supposition of this error, he ought simply to say, 
" You have believed," and not, " It is given you to believe ;" 
for it holds, that they had not a peculiar belief, the gift which 
had produced the belief in them being common to them (as 
they pretend) and to those who had rejected it. That which 


the apostle adds, that it is given them to suffer for Jesus Christ, 
still shows the same thing. For as this grace of God, from 
which the patience and the suffering of believers spring, was 
evidently peculiar to themselves, why was not that from which 
their faith came, here expressed by the same word and in the 
same way, also peculiar to them ? The thing speaks for itself. 
For when the Lord calls his elect to himself, he enlightens them, 
he teaches and instructs them in his will. Certainly the grace 
which he imparts is then peculiar to them, it being evident that 
he does nothing of the kind to infidels and rebels. And the 
Lord expressly declares this, "Every man that hath heard and 
hath learned of the Father cometh unto me," John vi. 45. Now 
neither unbelievers nor rebels come to him. They therefore 
have neither heard nor learned of him, they have had no share 
in that divine teaching with which he favours his elect. And 
in fact you see that it is only believers who are said to be 
taught of God, as well in Isaiah as by our Lord and Paul. 
Let it therefore be concluded, that to believe in Jesus Christ is 
a gift of the grace of God, aye of a grace not common to all, 
but particular, and which the Lord vouchsafes to none but true 

II. But do not let us imagine that this beginning of our salva- 
tion is all that is afforded us by grace. The sam.e grace which gives 
us the beginning gives also the progress and the end. The 
whole of this work depends on the merciful goodness and free 
favour of the Lord. Without it, it is as impossible for us to 
persevere as to believe. The apostle teaches this in the follow- 
ing words, "that it is given freely, not only to believe in Christ, 
but also to suffer for his sake." The whole life of men is full 
of suffering, and neither birth nor fortune can exempt any one 
from it. Nature subjects us to divers evils, and vice also pro- 
cures for us its own afflictions, the discomforts of the body, 
the vexations of the mind, the loss of goods and honour, to 
say nothing of those punishments which the public laws award 
to some for their excesses. Sometimes also the lustre of moral 
honesty, or of extraordinary knowledge, or of some other 
good, esteemed by men, raises up against us envy and trouble. 
There is no manner of life on the earth which is not subject to 
its sufferings and its trials, and which has not (in some way or 
other) its persecutions and its martyrs. But this is not what 
the apostle means. It is not by the gift of the grace of the 
Lord that men enter into these sufferings. It is oftener by the 
award of his anger, and by the order of his avenging justice. 
These chastisements are rather the effect of his wrath than the 
gifts of his love. He speaks of those which the profession of 
the gospel draws upon us; when it is the name and the cause 
of the Lord Jesus which invites the persecutor to inflict, and 
us to endure them. For if it be heresy, or superstition, or in- 


fidelity which draw upon a man the hatred or the sword of 
those who persecute him, it is useless for him to say that it is 
the name of Jesus ; it is not for him that he suffers, according 
to that true saying of the ancients, That it is not the suffering, 
but the cause, that makes the martyr. And as it is not the 
name of Christ which causes him to suffer, so neither is it his 
grace which gives him the courage to do so. It is the spirit 
of Satan, or the rage of superstition ; for the devil has also his 
martyrs, whom he disguises as cunningly as he can, in order 
that he may deceive men by the specious colouring of false 
strength of mind, or pretended patience. I will say still more ; 
although it be truly the profession of the gospel which incites 
the world against us, nevertheless, if in the suffering you en- 
dure for so good a cause you seek your own praise and the 
glory of your own name, it is not really for the Lord that you 
suffer. You are a martyr, not for his truth, but for your own 
vanity, one of the most abominable idols in the world. And 
if there be any unhappy person who suffers in this way, whose 
patience is such as to give you pleasure, it is at least very cer- 
tain that his firmness is of earth, and not of heaven. It is a 
production of vice, and not a gift of grace; a work of the 
flesh, and not a fruit of the Spirit. But Paul here speaks of a 
suffering for Jesus Christ, which is so in deed and in truth, 
and not only in the outward appearance. It is to that, and 
not to any other, that the eulogium belongs, which the apostle 
here gives, when he says that it is a gift of the grace of God. 
But here let us pause whilst we briefly solve an objection, 
which our adversaries derive from this passage, against the 
doctrine of the inseparable union of love with faith. For from 
what it declares, that it has been given us freely, not only to be- 
lieve in Christ, but also to suffer for him, they conclude that it is 
possible aman may believe in the Lord without suffering for him, 
and consequently, without loving him, and without having love ; 
pretending, that if it were otherwise, this language of the 
apostle' would be vain and impertinent. But I answer, in the 
first place, that even granting what they say, and that it were 
possible for a man that believes in Jesus Christ not to suffer 
for him, nevertheless it does not follow from thence that we 
can have faith without love. For God does not call all those 
to suffer for his Son who have the necessary constancy and 
zeal so to do. And the apostle in this place speaks of the vo- 
cation to suffer really and in truth for the name of Jesus Christ, 
and not only of the patience necessary for doing so, meaning 
to say that it is a grace that God gave the Philippians to call 
them to so honourable an employment. Secondly, I say, that 
presupposing the apostle here to speak simply of the gift of 
patience, still it does not follow that it, or the love from which 
it springs, can be separated from faith. I acknowledge that 


faith and patience are two distinct gifts. But although different, 
it does not follow that they can be separated. How many- 
things are there which, though varying in themselves, never 
subsist the one without the other ! That faith and patience 
always go together does not prevent their being two graces 
from God. Their inseparable conjunction ought not to frus- 
trate the glory which belongs to him of giving both to be 
lievers. It is on this account that the apostle considers them 
apart, although they subsist together, that he may amplify the 
liberality of the Lord towards us. And his language is no 
more irrelevant than what he elsewhere says of believers, 
"that they rejoiced not only in the hope of the glory of God, 
but also in tribulations," not to signify that one may be had 
without the other, (for it is certain that whoever rejoices in 
hope of the glory of God will also rejoice in tribulations,) but 
to deduce from it, and to display before our eyes, all the parts 
of the assurance, the joy, and the spiritual rejoicing that we 
have in the Lord, considering them separately, although they 
subsist together. This difficulty removed, I return to the text 
of the apostle, " that it is freely given to the Philippians to 
suffer for Jesus Christ." I willingly admit, that by these words 
he means, in the first place, that the resolution and firmness 
of the martyrs and confessors is a gift of grace ; that it is God 
that freely gives them by his Spirit the courage and constancy 
necessary to sustain these conflicts. And if you well consider 
their history, and represent to yourselves the natural condition 
of these divine warriors, if you examine their conduct, their 
word, the disposition of their mind, and even of their body, 
in the midst of those great and terrible trials, you will confess 
that their strength was undoubtedly the gift of the grace of 
God. Persons of all ages, sexes, and qualities are seen to 
suffer nobly for the name of a crucified man, all that the most 
horrible cruelty could invent. Young and old, men and 
women, great and small, ran to punishments and torments. 
Persons of a very delicate frame and education, who had never 
before seen a naked sword without turning pale, sprang cheer- 
fully into the fire, for the love of their Jesus. Neither the 
severity of the judges, nor the barbarity of tyrants, neither the 
cries of the people, nor the horrors of the executioners, nor 
the sword, nor the hatchets, nor tortures, nor gibbets, neither 
the ready wheels, nor the lighted fires, could make them give 
way. Full of a new courage, they despise all this bloody 
pomp of cruelty, and, as if they were fighting in insensible 
bodies, suffered with a contented mind barbarities which the 
executioners themselves could not inflict upon them without 
pity. They were heard to sing in the flames, and to bless God 
in the torments. A heavenly light of joy, sweetness, and hu- 
mility might be perceived shining in their eyes and on their 


countenances. They suffered as other men triumph, and en- 
dured the most dreadful ignominy in the same manner as others 
enjoy the highest honours. To this blessed company we must 
unite those who, to preserve the faith and the religion of the 
Lord, voluntarily quitted, with a similar magnanimity, their 
goods, their honours, their houses, their beloved country, their 
wives, their little children, and all those other things which are 
not less dear to us than life. From whence could so great a 
courage spring? or strength so extraordinary, in persons na- 
turally so weak, arise ? What could so suddenly have trans- 
fused so much vigour into their minds and bodies ? What 
could thus have changed their constitutions, miraculously 
taking from them every thing that was low and earthly, and 
clothing them with an invincible firmness, proof against every 
kind of attack? Let the profane say what they will, this 
strength, in so good a cause, could come to them from heaven 
alone. Most undoubtedly it was God who perfected his 
strength in their weakness ; who, by the power of his Spirit, 
sustained the weakness of their flesh. It was this great Com- 
forter who inspired them with these heroic dispositions, who 
elevated them above themselves, and who poured into the 
hearts of men the thoughts, the courage, and the knowledge 
of angels. Let us acknowledge the hand of God in the patience 
of his servants, and let us say, with the apostle, that it is he 
who freely gave them to suffer for him. But besides that, Paul 
particularly intends to signify in this place, that even that 
which the Philippians had been called to suffer for the name 
of the Lord was one of his favours. 

From hence we learn two things. The one, that the perse- 
cution of believers is not a fortuitous event, which happens 
either by chance, or by the malice of men or devils alone. It 
is God who guides the whole affair by a special providence. 
He sees the rage of the enemies of his people. He knows 
their designs, he perceives all that they are contriving against 
the gospel, and could (if such were his good pleasure) dissipate 
both their plans and their efforts in an instant. He lets them 
alone, and by secret arrangements manages their violence 
against every one of his servants, as his supreme wisdom sees 
best. He himself marks the field where the combat is to be 
decided. He orders the weapons and the blows, and rules 
every action. He calls his warrior, and himself places him in 
front of the enemy. Christian, do not stop at men, and at the 
appearances of things. Be convinced that it is the Lord who 
arranges all your trials. You will enter into none but by his 
permission. But the apostle also shows us, in the second place, 
that this employment which God gives us, and this calling 
which he directs us to suffer for him, is a gift of his grace. I well 
know that flesh forms quite another judgment, and that of all 


the favours of God, there is none that it esteems and desires 
less than this. It takes it rather for an effect of his hatred 
than of his love, and considers it an unkindness rather than a 
bounty. Thus in war, a coward does not think that it is 
favouring a soldier to send him on an assault or to a conflict, 
or to give him some other commission where there will be 
blows to endure, neither would he think himself obliged to a 
friend, who would choose him to go and defend his quarrel at 
the peril of his own life. But these are only the thoughts of 
low and pusillanimous minds. They who are brave and noble 
judge otherwise, and so highly value this sort of employment, 
that they are vexed if it be given to others, thinking that to 
leave them behind on such occasions is to despise and under- 
rate their courage, forasmuch as they value honour more than 
life. They deem the choice made of their persons as a testi- 
mony of the high opinion entertained of their valour and 
fidelity, and consequently consider it as a gratification. It is 
the same, dear brethren, in the government of Jesus Christ. 
Lukewarm minds, which have not tasted aright the goodness 
and excellence of this sovereign Lord, and who have but a 
weak desire for his glory and for his service, do not regard it 
as a good to suffer for him. But his true disciples, they who 
have seen in his light the wonders of his kingdom, and who 
have been strongly animated thereby, they who, like his 
apostles, have been baptized from heaven, and whose feelings 
have been sanctified by his Spirit from on high, these, my 
brethren, think there is nothing on earth more honourable and 
more glorious than to suffer for the Lord. Such were those 
blessed ones whose names and praise Paul has registered in 
his Epistle to the Hebrews, who took the reproach of Christ 
for greater riches than the treasures of the world. Such were 
the holy apostles, who, having been ignominiously scourged 
by the Jews for the sake of Jesus Christ, rejoiced (says the 
sacred history) to be "counted worthy to suffer shame for his 
name." This also was the opinion of our Paul, who took 
pleasure in infirmities, in injuries, in necessities, in persecu- 
tions, and in distress, for Christ; who rejoiced in his greatest 
tribulations, and gloried in all the disgrace which he suffered. 
for him, as his most splendid trophies. Such likewise were 
the feelings of that noble army of martyrs, who not only 
bravely and cheerfully endured torments and death, but who 
could also loudly praise the Lord for having thus called them 
to his service. Indeed, if, setting aside the tenderness of the 
flesh, you will consider the thing itself, what can be esteemed 
more honourable than suffering for the name of the Lord 
Jesus? This Jesus is the King of ages, the Prince of angels, 
the Lord of glory. His gospel is the highest of all truth, it is 
the salvation of the world, the seed of life and immortality. 


For what better subject then could we suffer ? If men (as we 
have before observed) consider it a high privilege to be chosen 
by their princes to fight for their interests, how transcendently 
more honoured is the martyr of Jesus Christ, whom this Prince 
of eternity has chosen to maintain his quarrel ! whom he con- 
secrates with his heavenly unction to enter into this trial ! to 
yield a public testimony to his truth! to be the advocate of his 
cause, the teacher of the human race, the spectacle of heaven 
and of earth ! Angels look upon and bless him ; they accom- 
pany him both at the entrance and issue of the combat ; they 
honour his steadfastness with their applause, and conduct and 
present him to their Lord and Master to receive from his own 
hand the crown of glory and immortality. Men gaze upon 
him with astonishment. The church preserves his memory 
here below ; and his very enemies are constrained to praiso 
him. But besides all this, he has moreover this obligation to 
his sufferings, that they render him conformable to Jesus 
Christ, and cause him to bear the image of the Son of God, 
consecrated as you know by his passion, and elevated into the 
heavens by his cross. Let cowardice judge as it will, there is 
no act in the world more pure, more noble, or more glorious 
thaD this. And the blood which the martyrs shed, or the lives 
that they lose in the conflict, must be lightly esteemed ; this 
loss is too insignificant to be put in competition with the ac- 
quirement of so much glory and profit. For what is this life, 
but a wretched breath that we may lose to-morrow ? Shall I 
call it an enjoyment, or a suffering of a few years ; a vapour, 
which the heat of a fever, or of some other malady, will con- 
sume ; which the fraud or the force of an enemy, or of any one 
of those innumerable accidents in the midst of which we live, 
may take from us perhaps in a few months or days ? If you 
could keep it for ever, your cowardice would have some more 
reason. But since it must be lost, who cannot see that it is a 
great folly to choose rather to yield it to the infirmities of nature 
than to the glory of Christ ? Again, I would add, that to employ it 
in his cause is not to lose it. It is to put it to interest, as in ex- 
change for what we sacrifice for his glory, he will give us 
another infinitely better, celestial, immortal, and full of all 
kinds of blessing ; whilst that which we live here below is 
weak, and vile, and subject to all sorts of evils. Let us then, 
dear brethren, conclude with the apostle, that it is a gift of the 
grace of God to suffer for his Son. 

From which appears how greatly they err who attribute 
merit to the good works of believers. For if there be any 
which can pretend to be such, doubtless it must be martyr- 
dom, the most excellent of all: and after all, what reason can 
it have to pretend to be such, when it is a gift of the grace of 
God ? Those who defend this error acknowledge that faith 


merits nothing. Now the apostle says the same of martyr- 
dom as he says of faith, and declares that it has been freely 
given us to suffer for Christ as well as to believe in him. It 
must then be acknowledged that in suffering for him we de- 
serve no more than for believing in him. It would be a very 
ridiculous absurdity to pretend, that for having received a fa- 
vour from one's prince, we should therefore deserve to have a 
share in his crown. As then martyrdom is a gift and a grace 
of God, he who suffers it would not be more reasonable, if for 
having been so honoured by the Lord he were to boast of hav- 
ing merited his paradise. Thus you see in the Apocalypse, 
that the most excellent servants of God throw their crowns at 
the feet of the Lamb ; and instead of demanding a recompence 
from him for their services, they give him thanks for them. 

But it is time to finish this discourse, of which there only 
remains one point, and that, presenting no difficulty, can be 
disposed of in a few words. It is what the apostle particularly 
says of the sufferings of the Philippians in the last verse : 
" Having the same conflict that you have seen in me, and now 
you hear to be in me." The conflict of the apostle which the 
Philippians had seen was the persecution he endured in their 
city when he was taken on account of his preaching, and 
dragged before the magistrates, shamefully scourged through 
their unjust sentence, and then put in irons in the prison. 
The Philippians had seen him in this trial. As to the one in 
which he was when he wrote them this Epistle, a prisoner at 
Rome for the name of the Lord, they had not seen it indeed, 
but they had heard of it. Saying, then, that they are sustain- 
ing such conflicts as his, he means, that they also are perse- 
cuted by their magistrates and fellow citizens for the profession 
of the gospel. In this conflict the believer has for his adver- 
saries the devil, the world, and his own flesh. Their weapons 
are the promises, and the threaten ings, and the injuries, and 
the caresses, and the prisons, and the chains, and the swords, 
with all that impiety and superstition employ against the 
church. The arms of the believer are faith, hope, charity, 
patience, humility, constancy, and those other spiritual graces 
by which he resists the blows of the enemy, holding fast with- 
out ever relaxing in the profession of piety, and remaining, 
by these means, victorious to the end. It is the condition of 
all true christians to be subjected to this conflict. The apos- 
tles of the Lord entered into it first. Their disciples, (you 
see,) and the churches they planted, passed through it also 
after them. None is admitted into the school of Christ, but 
on condition of submitting to it. " Whoever will come after 
me," says Christ, "let him deny himself, and take up his 
cross, and follow me," Matth. xvi. 24 ; and his apostle says, 
"Every one who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer 
persecution," 2 Tim. iii. 12. 


Assume, then, dearly beloved brethren, this good and noble 
resolution, to suffer with the Lord, that you may one day live 
with him, noiv taking part in his cross, that you may hereafter 
share his glory. Give him thanks, in the first place, that you 
believe in him, and humbly acknowledge, with the apostle, that 
it is a gift of his grace. Value this favour at its just price, 
and every day admire its wonders, whether in considering its 
value, or regarding its extent. As to its worth it is the great- 
est of all the gifts that God has given to men, as it includes in 
itself all the riches of his Christ, of his Spirit and of his hea- 
ven. This faith which he has given you is the only happiness 
of man, his salvation, his life and his glory; it is the only 
remedy against death and sin. It draws you from hell, and 
opens to you an entrance into heaven ; from slaves of Satan it 
makes you children of God. Without it man is most mise- 
rable, and with it he cannot but be eternally blessed. You 
are rich enough, since God has given you such a precious 
jewel. Do not then envy those whose bodies he fills with his 
provisions, to whom he gives, as formerly to Esau, the fatness 
of the earth for an inheritance, honours, riches, pleasure, and 
the other good things of this world. All this is but a fashion 
which passes away, (as the apostle elsewhere says, 1 Cor. vii. 
3,) a form, because it has but a false appearance and a vain 
colouring to please the eye, but not any true and solid sub- 
stantial good to satisfy the soul. Witness the perpetual dis- 
gust in which we see those who amuse themselves with these 
things, and the insatiable ardour of their lusts, which are 
never satisfied. But the worst of it is still that this vain sha- 
dow passes away. It has nothing that continues. It flies 
while people are looking at it, and escapes from their hands 
when they expect to take hold of it, leaving them full of an- 
guish and despair: death at last destroys both them and their 
idol. Do not grieve that he has not given you such wretched 
possession, so full of vanity and illusion. The gift that he 
has made you in leading you to believe in his Son is of quite 
another nature. This gift, if you cherish it, and rejoice in it 
as you ought, will fill your soul with consolation. It will 
cause Jesus Christ to inhabit it in the fulness of all his bless- 
ings. He will shed abroad his Spirit. He will extinguish the 
fire of earthly passions. He will drive from it fear and vexa- 
tion, lust and envy. He will put peace into the conscience, assu- 
rance of the love of God, and the precious hope of his glory; 
and when you leave this world, will conduct you into his sanc- 
tuary, to possess there, for ever, his kingdom, and his eternity. 
But what also extremely increases the value of this gift that 
God has imparted to us is, that it is neither universal nor very 
common. How many nations are there in the universe who 
have never heard of his Christ ! or who have never heard his 


gospel but corrupted and injured by superstition ! and of those 
in whose ears his pure word has been preached, how many are 
there who have rejected it ! What have we done to the Lord 
which has induced him to draw us from the number of these 
miserable and ungrateful beings, to touch our hearts, and to 
open them to the voice of his Son, by leading us to believe in 
him ? What, then, will be our insensibility, if having received 
from him so signal a favour, we do not render to him a special 
gratitude; living in the light of the faith with which he has 
favoured us, holily, righteously, soberly, and godlily; flying, 
as from a deadly pestilence, from all that can displease so good 
and so merciful a Lord, and seeking, with continual care and 
ardent zeal, all that may be pleasing to him ! This will be the 
true means, dear brethren, of preparing us to suffer nobly for 
his glory, if he should ever vouchsafe to us such an honour. 
For if we serve him faithfully, let us not doubt but that, on 
such an occasion, he will give us the necessary strength to 
acquit ourselves worthily in so great and so illustrious a duty. 
But in whatever way he shall be pleased to dispose of us, may 
it be to the glory of his name, to the edification of men, and 
to our own salvation. And to him, the only true God, blessed 
over all things, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be honour and 
praise for ever and ever. Amen. 

Preached at Charenton, Sunday, 15th July, 1640. 




VERSES 1 — 4. 

If there he therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of 
love, if any felloiuship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mer- 
cies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same 
love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done 
through strife or vain- glory ; but in lowliness of mind let each 
esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his 
own things, but every man also on the things of others. 

Among all the religions which have sprung up in the world, 
none has ever been found to have a higher design than the 
christian religion. For it aspires at nothing less than to 
change men into angels, and to form here on earth living 
images of those blessed societies which dwell in the heavens. 
It drives away error, vice, hatred, and discord from amongst 
those who obey it. It takes from them meanness, lewdness, 
and malignity, with which sin has filled the earth. It sheds 
there light, love, union, and the eternity of heaven; and puri- 
fying the mind, the heart, and the affections of every believer, 
binds them together, and makes them one body, a divine bro- 
therhood, and a celestial city. Such was this holy church, 
conceived and produced by the first rays of the gospel of 
Jesus Christ, that Jerusalem formerly saw, with astonishment, 
arise and grow in a single day ; full of such perfect love and 
piety, that the sacred history tells us that all the multitude 
of those of which it was composed had but one heart and one 
soul, Acts iv. 32. Such, also, were other churches propagated 
from this one in the lands of the Gentiles. Truth and holiness 
flourished there, and love reigned among them; and if there 
were found in the profession of Christianity either persons, or 
entire societies, otherwise disposed, they were imperfect, irre- 
gular, and monstrous productions, not conformed to the true 
and natural design of the gospel. You see it clearly by the 
preaching of the holy apostles, the first ministers of this celes- 
tial instruction, who laboured every where to strip men of all 


forms and habits of sin, only to render them participators of 
the divine nature in righteousness and holiness. Paul, who 
so often speaks to you from this place, preaches nothing else. 
It is the subject and the object of all that he has left us in his 
Epistles. You have heard before, in the first chapter, with 
what care he presses the Philippians to live in a way worthy 
of the gospel. You will hear him again in this and the fol- 
lowing chapter treating the same matter with the same warmth. 
He conjures them here, at the beginning, by the most effica- 
cious motives he could urge, to live in perfect union, love, and 
humility. For this purpose he sets before them in a very 
striking manner the example of the Lord Jesus, and goes on to 
promise them a visit from Timothy and from himself, that the 
expectation of these two great teachers "might animate them in 
well-doing. But for the present, we will only examine the 
first part contained in the four verses we have read ; and to 
give you a clearer exposition of them, we will consider, by the 
gracious asssistance of the Lord, three points distinctly and 
consecutively. The first is the adjuration which the apostle 
makes to the Philippians in these terms : "If there be there- 
fore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any 
fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye 
my joy." The second is the exhortation which he adds to con- 
cord and union; for it is in that that the fulfilment of his joy, 
which be so affectionately asks of them, consists : " That ye be 
like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one 
mind." The third point is the recommendation he makes them, 
in the two following verses, to humility and brotherly affec- 
tion, the two nursing-mothers of concord: "Let nothing be 
done through strife or vain-glory ; but in lowliness of mind 
let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every 
man on his own things, but every man also on the things of 

I. As to the first point, the apostle has expressed it with so 
much ardour and emphasis, that it would be difficult to find 
in any other place in his Epistles anything more pathetic and 
affectionate than this ; for he places before them all that is 
sweetest, most tender, and forcible to obtain from them what 
he wishes. Being the apostle of the Lord, the master, and, as 
it were, the father of the Philippians, having begotten their 
whole church through the gospel, he had the right and author- 
ity to command them. Notwithstanding which, he does not 
use it. He strips himself of all the dignity of his office. He 
humbles himself to the extreme condescension of supplicating 
those who oiue him obedience. He throws himself as it were 
at their feet ; and, as if he asked them not a duty, but an alms, 
implores their compassion, and the bowels of their pity, en- 
treating them in a manner so sweet and humble, that the poor- 


est beggar could not say more in his greatest need : " If there 
be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fel- 
lowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my 
joy." It was love and affection, my brethren, that constrained 
this holy being to these terms; for you will see afterwards that 
in reality he asked nothing from the Philippians but that they 
should be perfect and happy, an evident sign that their good 
was his most ardent desire, his satisfaction, and his fervent joy ; 
which could only proceed from a very great and most cordial 
affection. He acts like a good father, the power of whose nat- 
ural affection obliges him to supplicate his children with tears, 
and to conjure them by everything that he imagines to have 
most power over their minds. If you have (he says to them) 
any respect for him who has brought you into the world ; if 
you have any remembrance of the care that I have taken to 
feed and educate you ; if my blood, and my affection, and the 
desire that I have for your good and honour, be any consider- 
ation to you ; love one another, I beseech you, my dear chil- 
dren, and live together in tender friendship and concord. 
This is exactly the image the apostle here uses, except that in- 
stead of nature and the flesh, he derives the arguments of his 
prayer from grace and from the Spirit ; and instead of his ser- 
vices, represents to them his wants, willing to owe what he re- 
quested of them to their pity rather than to his merit. He 
touches upon four principal motives which obliged them to 
grant him his request : of which the first was christian conso- 
lation ; the second, the comfort of love ; the third, the commu- 
nion of the Spirit ; the fourth, compassion and mercy. I con- 
nect all the four with what he had said at the beginning, 
"in Christ:" "If there be any consolation in Christ." For he 
signifies, in my opinion, by this word, the fellowship of the 
Lord Jesus, and the grace we have through being in him by 
the faith of his gospel. He means Jesus Christ as he is preached 
by his ministers, and believed on by the faithful. If there be 
then auy consolation in this Christ, whom I have announced 
to you, whom ye have received, and who dwells in your hearts 
by faith ; if there be in him any comfort of love, any fellowship 
of the Spirit, any tenderness of mercy ; if this divine Lord has 
impressed truly on those who obey him some feeling of these 
things; if his discipline and fellowship have formed our minds 
to such a state as exists among those who are in him, a mutual 
interchange of consolation, of love, of soul, and of compassion : 
I beseech you all now to exercise these sacred duties towards 

The first of these four things which is found in Jesus Christ 
is " consolation." It is the duty that we ought to perform to- 
wards those who are in affliction, both by words and deeds, 
doing for them and saying to them, in the best way that we 


can, whatever we judge capable of diminishing their weariness 
and of re-establishing spiritual joy in their hearts. The com- 
fort of love, which he adds in the second place, is nearly the 
same thing ; it is as if he had said that love obliged us to con- 
tribute to the comfort of our brethren the same help and at- 
tention as we owe to those we love. The fellowship of the 
Spirit, of which he speaks in the third place, is the spiritual 
union which exists among believers, not earthly, nor indeed 
carnal, but real and solid, founded upon this consideration, that 
they are all children of the same Father, formed, quickened, 
and guided by one Spirit, so that they have in this respect a 
very close connection ; and if they are different and separated 
according to the flesh, they are notwithstanding joined and 
united according to the Spirit. The cordial affections and 
mercies that he instances, in the last place, are the feelings of 
pity that we have for those who suffer ; these he calls " bowels," 
(for the word that we have translated " cordial affections" pro- 
perly signifies the entrails, after the manner of the Hebrews, 
whose style he follows,) for that of which the heart is the seat. 
The remainder of what he says, " if there be any of these 
things in Christ," is not to cast any doubt upon it, as if the 
Lord did not certainly produce all these effects in all those to 
whom he makes himself known by his word, and by his Spirit, 
or as if the apostle were not assured of it ; but, on the contrary, 
he means that this is very certain, and that it is not possible 
to belong to the Lord, without having received from him these 
impressions. The word " if" is affirmative in this place, as it 
often is elsewhere, and takes what follows for granted, as true 
and undoubted, as when we say, " If you be children, honour 
then your father ;" which is the same as if we were to say, 
Since you are children, honour then your father ; it being evi- 
dent that without so doing you render yourselves unworthy of 
that name. Here it is the same, when the apostle says, " If 
there be any consolation, and any love in Christ ;" it is the 
same as if he said, " Since Jesus Christ gives all these disposi- 
tions to those who are in him, show indeed that you are in him 
by fulfilling my joy." For the Lord Jesus recommends no- 
thing so much in his word as love towards our brethren. He 
desires that we should be interested in all their blessings and 
afflictions ; that we should feel their sorrows as our own ; that 
we should grudge nothing, not even our blood and our life, for 
their consolation and edification. And the better to impress 
this lesson on our hearts, he is not contented with giving it to 
us in his word, he has confirmed it to us by his example, hav- 
ing laid down his life for us. Certainly then it is impossible 
that we can be in him, that is to say, that by faith we should 
embrace his gospel, without receiving into our hearts the 
movements of this divine affection ; and those who, without 


having them, boast of his name, are liars. I say the same of 
the fellowship of the Spirit. For the Lord has but one and 
the same Spirit, with which he baptizes all those who are his ; 
and " if any one have not his Spirit, he is none of Christ's," as 
the apostle elsewhere says : so that it is impossible to be in 
him without having this union in Spirit with believers. 
Judge by this, dearly beloved brethren, what opinion we must 
have of those barbarous and unnatural souls who have no af- 
fection for believers, who look upon their sufferings without 
emotion, who neither deign to console their troubles, to soften 
their sorrows, to sympathize in their grief, nor to employ any 
spiritual commerce with them. How are they in Jesus Christ, 
since they have none of those things which he produces in all 
such as belong to him? Surely if this divine Lord truly 
dwelt in our hearts, he would by his power melt the hardness 
of our bowels, he would open in them an active source of con- 
solation for the afflicted, he would there establish an ardent 
love for his children, he would shed there that Spirit which he 
has given them, the Spirit of union, love, and compassion. 
Bat these Philippians who are here spoken of were not de- 
scribed in this way. Their profession was true, and it appears 
by what we have heard that they were christians indeed, and 
not in name only. This is the reason why the apostle appeals 
to them by the things of which they had a real and lively feel- 
ing. If Jesus Christ, (says he,) our good Master, for whom 
you and I suffer, has put into you some consolation for the af- 
flicted ; if the love with which he has filled your hearts constrains 
you to dispense some comfort to those who need it ; if this 
same Spirit which he has given us ought to bind us in a holy 
and spiritual union ; and finally, if his grace has rendered your 
bowels tender and sensible to the interests of believers ; I con- 
jure you by all these sacred ties, fulfil ye my joy. 

He draws this conclusion very reasonably from what he had 
proposed to them in the preceding chapter, with which he 
unites this by the word "therefore:" "If there be therefore 
any consolation in Christ." For it is to those who are afflicted 
that the consolation belongs. Here let us bear in mind how 
he said to them before he was in prison at Rome, persecuted 
by pagans without, and by false brethren within, that love 
ought to comfort those who are overwhelmed either by trouble 
or necessity. Now he had represented to them the sad state 
to which he was reduced. It is principally towards those who 
teach the gospel, or who suffer for preaching it, that we ought 
to exercise the fellowship of the Spirit, or the duties of pity. 
He had just shown them that this was the cause of his chain. 
After having set before them these things in the former chap- 
ter, it is with good reason therefore that he here urges them 
by the love, the Spirit, the affection, and the mercies of the 


Lord to fulfil bis joy. And the Philippians must have been 
harder than stones, if they bad not felt touched by so warm 
and reasonable an entreaty. 

II. But he does not tell them that they will be the cause of 
his joy. He only asks that they would fulfil that which he 
had already. For however sad and lamentable the state of the 
apostle might be according to the flesh, he had nevertheless 
joy in his heart. Neither the darkness of the prison, nor its 
impassable barriers, nor the vigilance of the guards, can pre- 
vent joy from entering into the souls of believers. Neither 
the weight of their irons, nor the obscurity of their dungeons, 
nor the sorrows of captivity, are capable of taking it from 
them. In the first place, the Lord Jesus, for whom the apostle 
suffered, was night and day with him, and shed the peace of 
the Father, the consolations of the Spirit, the assurance of his 
grace, and the hope of his glory, as a heavenly balm in the 
soul of his servant. He there sustained that inextinguishable 
and glorious joy which these feelings necessarily produce in 
our hearts ; since even the success of his sufferings, which had 
given courage to many to proclaim the gospel, refreshed him 
extremely, " I rejoice, (says he,) and will rejoice." But besides 
that, (and it is what he particularly regards in this place,) the 
fine beginning of the Philippians, their love, their patience, 
and their other graces, had also afforded him much satisfaction. 
It is this joy that he conjures them to fulfil, to add what was 
wanting to it, and to render it full and complete. What 
then was it, O holy apostle, that was wanting to thy joy ? 
What dost thou wish the Philippians to do to fulfil it ? 
Dost thou desire that they should endeavour to deliver thee 
from the prisons of Nero, and to procure thee that liberty 
of which thou art deprived ? or that, to alleviate thy wants, 
they should redouble their liberality, and send thee another 
Epaphroditus with the gifts of their love ? No, says he, this 
is not what I ask. My chain does not weigh so heavily 
upon me that it diminishes my comfort, and I wait in 
peace for my deliverance by the providence of my God, with- 
out harassing my mind ; and as to the discomforts of the 
prison, I well know how to find content and abundance even 
in indigence itself; I have been so filled with what I have al- 
ready received from these believers, that I have no more to 
wish from them. What I ask from them with so much warmth, 
as the only thing capable of rendering my joy perfect, is, that 
" they should be like-minded, having the same l'ove, being of 
one accord, of one mind." It is this, dearly beloved Philip- 
pians, that I desire of you ; it is the only office that you still 
owe to the consolation of your master. If you fulfil this my 
desire, I freely acquit you of all the duties that the name of 
the Lord Jesus, and the love that he has given you, and the 


Spirit that lie has imparted to you, and the compassions which 
he has impressed on your bowels, oblige you to render me 
in my bonds. This, dear brethren, is the meaning and the de- 
sign of the words of Paul. 

From which we have first to learn, that the good and the 
prosperity of the church ought to be the chief subject of our 
consolation and of our desires ; according to the declaration for- 
merly made by the psalmist, " that he preferred Jerusalem 
above his chief joy," Psal. cxxxvii. 6. This apostle was in the 
fetters of the most horrible tyrant that ever lived, pursued by 
both Jews and pagans with the most furious animosity, and 
every day on the point of being exposed to the lions, or to 
suffer some other cruel punishment. Nevertheless, all this will 
not prevent his rejoicing in perfect joy, if he may see the 
church of Philippi in a good condition. Their good is alone 
capable of curing all his sorrows, of softening all his griefs, 
and of appeasing all his own sufferings. admirable love, 
which had so changed the apostle into those that he loved, that 
it was their interest, and not his own, from whence sprang his 
sorrows and his joys ! Why have not we a similar love for the 
church of the Lord ? and especially for those with whom we 
here live in fellowship ? Why do we not make their good or 
their evil the only, or at least the principal, subject of our 
consolation, or of our sorrows ? Certainly, besides the exam- 
ple of the apostle, which ought to be a law to us, the reason 
and nature of the thing itself evidently oblige us to it. For 
the church is the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, formed of his 
flesh and of his blood, and quickened by his Spirit; it is the 
mirror of his glory, the pillar of his truth, and the most illus- 
trious instrument of his goodness and wisdom. It is the 
family of God, and the school of his children ; the depository 
of our most precious jewel, of the gospel, and of salvation ; 
so that we cannot help loving it ardently, if we have ever so 
little zeal for the glory of God, or affection, whether for the 
edification of others, or for our own happiness. 

But let us also learn from this, in the second place, in what 
this happiness of the church consists, which ought to form and 
to fulfil our joy. It is not that it should enjoy a profound 
peace in the world, that it should abound in the honours and 
riches of the world, that the great should caress it, that kings 
should favour it, or that people should applaud it. This 
worldly prosperity is often its greatest misfortune, and it is 
usually in these false calms that it is injured. Neither is it that 
cunning, or knowledge, or eloquence, or secular erudition 
should flourish in it. This vain pomp is the share of the 
world. But the true happiness and the true prosperity of the 
christian church consist in what the apostle here asks of the 
Philippians, that concord should reign in it ; that a common 


love and one faith, should bind the members to one another, and, 
mingling them together, should reduce them to one and the 
same body. "Whatever besides may be the condition of our 
church, she is truly happy and in prosperity, if she live in this 
union, and retain the form of that Jerusalem which the pro- 
phet describes to us, built " as a city that is compact together," 
Psal. cxxii. 3. On the contrary, if divisions creep in, however 
cheering may be the prosperity and abundance which she en- 
joys without, nevertheless she is in a very sad condition. It 
is a city in which an enemy has made a breach, and it is near 
its ruin if the Lord do not marvellously assist it. This is why 
Paul here desires the concord and union of the Philippians 
with so much zeal. And although in this Epistle he every 
where gives them an excellent testimony to their piety, to the 
strength of their faith, and the ardour of their love, neverthe- 
less, the great earnestness with which he recommends union 
seems to show that there was something to say to them in this 
respect ; and his conjuring them to fulfil his joy by their 
agreement signifies that he saw some dissension among them, 
or, at least, that he perceived the seeds of it ; for you know 
that the devil never fails to throw this bad seed among chris- 
tians, having learned, by experience, that there is nothing more 
suitable for his designs. In truth, we shall hear afterwards 
that the false teachers among the Jews, who so sadly troubled 
the first christians with their pretended mixture of Moses and 
Jesus Christ, had also an eye upon this church of the Philip- 
pians; and what the apostle still presses upon these believers 
in the following chapter, "to have always the same mind, and 
to walk by one rule, to which they had already attained," 
chap. iii. 16 ; and particularly beseeches some persons, as 
Euodias and Syntyche, to yield themselves to this uniformity 
of sentiment, and entreating his own companion and Clement 
to help them ; all this, I say, plainly shows (as appears to me) 
that some difference and division in doctrine began to manifest 
itself among this flock. From whence it arises that he recom- 
mends concord to them in such an affectionate manner, and 
that he expresses himself upon it in so many precise terms, 
that he links one sentence with the other, although in reality 
they all nearly signify the same thing. In the first place, he 
asks of them that " they should have one mind." On which 
some (Beza) have in my opinion well remarked, that the apos- 
tle does not simply mean by this that they should have one 
opinion and belief on points of religion ; which is precisely 
what the word "mind" signifies in our language; but that 
they should in general have the same disposition of mind, the 
same feelings, the same designs, and the same desires; that 
their souls, in all their faculties, should have the same form 
and figure, whether in the understanding, which is their high- 


est and chiefest part, or in the will and affections, which de- 
pend on it. Thus the apostle uses this word in a similar pas- 
sage in the Epistle to the Romans, where he orders believers 
to "be of the same mind one towards another;" and in the 
verse which immediately follows our text, " Let the same mind 
be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." 

But after having thus in general commanded the Philippians 
to have each the same disposition of mind, he descends to par- 
ticulars, and touches especially some one of these or similar 
forms, which he wishes that they should possess : adding, in 
the second place, " having the same love." Some (Chrysostom) 
make this relate to the degrees of brotherly love which ought 
to be in us; as if the apostle meant that we should have for 
our brethren the same love that they have for us, and bear to- 
wards them an affection equal to that which they feel towards 
us, loving as much as we are loved, that we may not fall into 
the crime of those who, with great injustice, for a high degree 
of love, return but a very moderate portion. But although 
this idea should not be rejected, it seems to be more simple 
and natural to take what the apostle says, in regard to the ob- 
ject of love, to mean that we ought all to love the same thing. 
For those have not the same love or affection of whom one 
loves one thing, and one another; of whom this man for ex- 
ample loves honour and ambition, and that voluptuousness 
and pleasure; one hunting, and another learning. These are 
affections and passions differing according to the diversity of 
their objects ; but love is the same, when many love the same 
object; as when many subjects love the same prince, or many 
children the same father. This, then, is what the apostle here 
asks of the Philippians, that they should have the same love, 
that their affections should not be divided among many con- 
trary or different things, like those of the Corinthians, of 
whom some loved Paul, others Cephas, and others Apollos; 
some admiring one form of doctrine, others a different one; 
but that their hearts should all meet on the same object, as in 
a common centre, all loving the same Christ and the same 

Then he requires of them, in the third place, "that we 
should all be of one accord." In the original it is, " that we 
should have altogether the same soul," oi^vxoç. The same, not 
in its essence or in its nature, (for that is impossible,) but in 
its affections and in its designs, in its wishes and in its desires ; 
that we should all look to the same object, and should propose 
to ourselves the same end, the glory of God our Lord, and the 
furtherance of the kingdom of his Son ; that we should have 
the same zeal, that we should desire the same things ; and, in 
a word, that the acts, transports, and emotions of our minds 
should have a perfect conformity, as if there were in us but 


one and the same principle of life, one only soul which anima- 
ted and quickened us altogether. 

Finally, the apostle adds, as the last part of christian 
concord, " that we should be of one mind." Word for word 
in the original it is, "that we should feel the same thing." 
But all comes to one: it not being possible, if what we feel is 
but one thing, that we should not also be the same thing. 
From the unity of the will, he passes on to the conformity of 
the affections and sentiments. He desires that as there is but 
one and the same chief, that is to say, Jesus Christ, and but 
one and the same baptism, there should only be in the church 
one and the same faith. And this agreement in one and the 
same doctrine is the foundation of the concord and communion 
of christians. For the understanding being the guide of our 
souls, it is difficult for those whose sentiments are opposed not to 
have different affections ; and from a difference of opinions it is 
easy to fall into a difference of love, or contempt or hatred for 
one another. Assuredly it is much to be wished that there 
were no difference or variety among believers in this respect. 
But because of the infirmity in which we live in this mortal 
flesh, this blessing is more to be wished than hoped for; we 
must restrain the necessity for the union of our sentiments to 
those points which are essential, and without the belief of 
which there can be no salvation. With respect to them, all 
believers ought to feel the same thing. None can here differ 
without a break. But as to other matters, which are not of 
this importance, we ought there to bear with a difference, 
should there be any, after the example of the apostle, who v 
though he afterwards obliges all believers to walk by the same 
rule to which they had attained, nevertheless defends those 
who, in some degree, felt otherwise than he and the more per- 
fect believers did, hoping that God would reveal this to them 
also. As you see in a state, so long as all the citizens hold its 
fundamental doctrines necessary for the performance of the 
duties essential to its preservation, differences are tolerated on 
many other subjects of minor importance. However this may 
be, as we ought all to strive after perfection, we should try by 
every means in our power to have amongst us an exact and 
entire uniformity of sentiments ; so that it may be truly said 
of us what the apostle here required from the Philippians, 
that we should ail feel the same thing. Thus it appears what 
this concord is which he so strongly recommends, namely, a 
holy union of mind and will in faith and affection. And he 
has every reason in the world to ask it of us so pressingly. 
For in fact it is our all; it is the legitimate form and perfec- 
tion of the church. In the first place, this concord is the most 
beautiful thing in the universe ; as the prophet sings in one 
of his psalms, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is that 


brethren should dwell together in unity !" Psal. exxxiii. 1. 
God sees nothing more agreeable to him on earth than such a 
society. It is an image of the hearts of those blessed spirits 
who adore him in the heavens in perfect union. But besides 
its beauty, it is infinitely useful and salutary, for it is to it 
that the eternal Father gives blessing and life, Psal. exxxiii. 
8. It is to it that the Lord Jesus promises his grace and his 
favour : " If two of you (says he) shall agree on earth as 
touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for 
them of my Father," Matth. xviii. 19. This concord is the 
joy of angels, the terror of devils, the strength and glory of 
the church. If you would know how necessary it is to the 
latter, behold the misery and the ravages that discord has 
made in it. It is it which in times past ruined ancient Israel, 
having broken, by a sad separation, the forces that God had 
united. It is it which has warped Christianity into so many 
fashions, and has occasioned all the old and new wounds 
which it has received. It has extinguished religion and love. 
It has pointed the swords, and lighted the fires. It has armed 
brother against brother, and has violated every thing that is 
most holy and most sacred in human nature. It has ex- 
hausted the church of blood and strength; and finally, 
exposed one part a prey to infidelity, and another to tyranny. 
It is it again that has stayed the progress of the gospel in the 
days of our fathers, having unhappily divided hands which 
ought to have laboured together in so good a work. Dearly 
beloved brethren, let us fly so deadly a plague, and having 
known, by so many sad experiences, how pernicious it is, let 
us dwell united together in the sweet and happy bonds of per- 
fect concord. 

III. To this end, let us attentively listen to, and faithfully 
practise, the instruction which the apostle gives us in the last 
two verses of our text: "Let nothing be done (says he) through 
strife or vain-glory ; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem 
other better than themselves. Look not every man on his 
own things, but every man also on the things of others." To 
retain peace and union in the church, he warns us against two 
vices, strife and vain-glory, the two principal sources of divi- 
sion and schism, and recommends two virtues to us, humility 
and the care of our neighbours, the two mothers and nurses 
of concord. That which he calls strife is a cross and puncti- 
lious humour, which occasions suits and quarrels on every 
thing; the disease of headstrong and obstinate minds, which 
enjoy debate and contention. These people hate the beaten 
track, and always choose rough and solitary roads. They dis- 
dain common sentiments, though they be certain, clear, and 
true; and form on all subjects peculiar opinions. They al- 
ways place themselves in opposition to their brethren, and 


their hand, like that of Ishmael, is against every one, and 
every one's hand is against them. It is enough to make them 
give up an opinion to show them that others hold it. Nothing 
charms them more than novelty, extravagance, and singularity. 
Unhappy, and troublesome minds, plagues of human society, 
parents of the greater part of the seditions and wars that trou- 
ble the world and the church. But their venom is so much 
the more dangerous in the church, in proportion as its society 
is holy, and its union precious. It is this cursed humour 
which formerly inspired, and still continues to imbue many 
heretics with such wild and ridiculous opinions, that it 
is a wonder how they have ever been able, I do not say to 
please, but to enter into any man's mind. And when it 
has once produced some monsters of this kind, it caresses 
and defends them, and, engaging in this design, finally 
becomes incapable of yielding. It is thus that during 
the first ages the sects were formed which distracted the church. 
And would to God that ours were exempt from them. But 
the other vice, which the apostle adds in the second place, 
namely, vain-glory, has as much place or more than the pre- 
ceding. It is a desire to acquire reputation and to be talked 
of; and the apostle calls it " vain-glory," because this lustre 
and renown, and all this pretended honour after which ambi- 
tious spirits so passionately aspire, is at bottom but a pure 
vanity, which has neither virtue nor efficacy to render him 
who possesses it more happy or more perfect either in body or 
soul. "Who can tell the miseries that this fatal passion has 
caused among men ? It is it which sows wars in states, quar- 
rels in families, and divisions in the church. When once it 
has taken possession of the mind of a man, there is no longer 
any abomination of which he is not capable. I omit the tor- 
ments and uneasiness which it gives to the ambitious and to 
others. But we may well say that there is no vice more con- 
trary to concord, as it consists in a certain degree of equality; 
instead of which vain-glory can suffer no equal, always desir- 
ing to be first. Thus it has lighted all the divisions that have 
ever burnt in the church. And if contention has given a be- 
ginning to some of them, vain-glory has not been wanting to 
enrol itself instantly of the party. They most frequently go 
in company, and giving each other the hand, contention nour- 
ishing what ambition has engendered, and in the same way 
ambition supporting that which contention has produced. It 
is from this infernal couple that Arianism, Nestorianism, and 
Eutychism formerly sprang, which were likely to ruin the 
whole of Christendom. It is from hence that the famous schism 
arose between the east and the west ; the one not choosing to 
endure a superior, and the other an equal. It is from hence 
that have arisen those sad and shameful disputes among the 


ministers of the Lord, whose traces appear so visibly in the 
history of the church. Notwithstanding which, (0 madness 
of human passions, of so much trouble and misery !) this vice 
gathers no other fruit than a vain glory, as the apostle here 
says, and a real infamy. To these two perverse affections he 
opposes submission and humility: "Let nothing be done 
through strife or vain-glory, but in lowliness of mind let each 
esteem other better than themselves." The gospel every 
where recommends humility to us, a virtue unknown to 
worldly philosophy. The Lord teaches us that it is even so 
necessary to his disciples, that without it it is not possible for 
a man to enter into his kingdom ; and makes so great a point 
of it, that he gives the first rank to those who are the most 
humble. And in truth, if we consider, on the one hand, the 
excellence and the greatness of the Lord, and, on the other, 
the meanness and un worthiness of our nature, vile and despi- 
cable in its being, and made still more so by being infected 
with sin, and subject to its curse, we shall readily confess that 
it is very reasonable that we should think but little of our- 
selves, and that the most esteemed among men cannot without 
injustice have a high opinion of themselves. But nevertheless, 
it seems difficult to understand how this virtue obliges us to 
the duty, the performance of which the apostle here directs, 
that of each one of us esteeming our neighbour better than 
ourselves. For christian virtues are not contrary to one 
another. Now it appears that the mind which is here ordered to 
us may be contrary to the soundness of truth which ought to be 
in all our judgments. For if one believer be better than 
another, how can he, without falsehood, esteem that other 
better than himself? And besides, as each of the two ought 
to have the same mind towards his companion, and, at the same 
time, it is impossible that each of the two should be more ex- 
cellent than the other, it appears that humility necessarily 
obliges one of the two to believe a thing that is not true, which 
cannot be the duty of a worthy man. To that, my brethren, 
I reply, that things are of two kinds. Of the one the truth is 
certain and evident. Of others we can only judge by signs 
and appearances, which are not infallible. As to the first, we 
are obliged to believe them such as they are, and neither hu- 
mility, nor any other consideration, can free us from this. But 
as to others, charity ought to regulate the judgment that we 
make of them, and to take all in good part ; and if sometimes 
the truth of a thing does not answer to the opinion that we 
have of it, we may well say that we have been deceived, but 
not that we have lied. When then we compare ourselves with 
others, we must consider what sort of things are in question. 
If the question be about those of which we can certainly know 
the truth, our judgment must go with the side on which it is 


found. For example, if you know yourself to be more healthy, 
more courageous, more eloquent, or more rich, than your 
neighbour, (and all this may be easily and undoubtedly known,) 
it would be folly, and not humility, to believe the contrary. 
And thus is it with the other things of this nature. But it is 
not thus with the things of which the apostle speaks. He 
speaks of the worth and excellence of the person itself, and 
particularly as relating to the kingdom of God. Now it is 
evident that we cannot judge with certainty what is truly the 
state of our neighbour in this respect ; appearances not always 
answering to what is within, and the advantages of this nature 
not consisting in what may be outwardly seen. It is here then 
that humility should step in, to prevent, in the first place, our 
preferring ourselves to our brother, under the shade of some 
outward advantage which we may have over him; and 
secondly, to lead us to presume much in his favour, and cha- 
ritably to believe that he has in heart hidden treasures, which 
place him above us, and which nevertheless are very precious 
in the sight of God, although we see them not. And it is in 
this feeling (as I said) he may well be in error, but it is evi- 
dent that there is no falsehood. If the Pharisee had followed 
this rule, he would not, under the cover of some false appear- 
ances, have preferred his person to that ofthe publican, who 
really, and before God, was worth more than himself. I con- 
fess that our nature does not easily relish such teaching. For 
we can hardly bear that any one should equal us, much less to 
place ourselves below all others, each one bearing the heart of 
a king in his bosom, and imagining that there is nothing more 
excellent than himself, and that if rank followed merit he ought 
to be the master of the human race. But then we are not called 
by the Lord to live according to the dictates of our nature, 
which is entirely seasoned with vanity and pride. That we 
may then acquit ourselves of this duty, let us consider seriously 
our un worthiness, the miserable state we were in before grace 
came, that infinite brood of all sorts of vices which swarmed in 
us, the excess, the rage, to which we were carried, the curse and 
the hell that we deserved, our weaknesses themselves even since 
God has called us, our cowardliness, our ingratitude, our evil in- 
clinations, our sins, the innumerable faults of our actions and 
of our words, and the secret vanity, injustice, and filth of our 
thoughts and affections ; and that if we have any graces, 
they are graces which ought not to elate, but to humble us ; 
and that the more we have received, the more we ought to 
abase ourselves, as you see among the ears of corn, those bend 
their head lowest which are the best and the fullest of grain. 
And as to our neighbours, let us look at and prize whatever 
they have that is good, acknowledging and admiring their 
gifts ; let us be ignorant of or excuse what there is wrong, 


and let us do quite contrary to that fabulous nymph of the 
poets, who was blind at home, and had eyes only when she 
was with her neighbours. Let us be clear-sighted and se- 
vere against ourselves, gentle and indulgent to others. If 
we consider in this way our persons and those of our breth- 
ren, it will be easy, as the apostle directs, to esteem them 
more excellent than ourselves. If once we make this judg- 
ment in our heart, if each of us esteem his neighbour more 
excellent than himself, we shall establish by these means char- 
ity, patience, and concord amongst us. We shall feel no envy 
at the good things of others, and we shall have great compas- 
sion for their sorrows. We shall receive their good offices 
with deep gratitude, as favours, and not as duties ; and we 
shall bear their insults (should such be shown us) with more 
patience. And if they have the same opinion of us that we 
have of them, what society in the world will be more happy 
than ours? Neither contempt, pride, nor contention, neither 
disputes, discord, nor envy, nor any of those other plagues 
which ruin and infect humanity, shall ever enter therein. Hu- 
mility, as a rampart of brass or a wall of iron, shall preserve 
us in safety against all the efforts of the enemy. 

And this respectful and favourable feeling that we entertain 
for each other will, of itself, lead to the duty that the apostle 
here, in the last place, requires of us : " Look not every man 
on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." 
For it will be impossible for us not to regard them, if we es- 
teem them more excellent than ourselves ; the little care that we 
have for them only proving the small esteem in which we hold 
them. It is true that some make even this relate to what the 
apostle had just directed, of esteeming our brethren more than 
ourselves ; as if he intended, that, to lead us to this duty, we 
should consider not only what we are, and what God has given 
us, but also what others are, and what graces they have received, 
being very certain that the presumption of the greater part of 
those who elevate themselves above their brethren arises from 
their never looking at or admiring anything but their own 
good qualities, their talents, their knowledge, their prudence, 
without ever throwing, their eyes on the advantages that hea- 
ven has dispensed to others as much or more than to themselves. 
But in my opinion it is more proper to take these words as 
a new precept, which directs us, for the preservation of peace 
and concord amongst ourselves, to have respect, not only to 
that which is useful and advantageous to us, but also to what 
the edification and consolation of our brethren demand. Ile 
does not absolutely forbid each one looking to himself; the 
care is just and legitimate ; but he does not wish that we should 
so entirely attach ourselves to it as to forget others. And cer- 
tainly, if that communion of nature which men have together 


so evidently obliges each of them to care for his neighbours, 
that the pagans themselves acknowledge it, saying that they 
hold no human things as foreign, or separated from them, how- 
much more should the grace of the Spirit, and the blood of 
Jesus Christ, which has united us all into one body, unite our 
interests ! Do not look upon these believers whom the apostle 
recommends to you as strangers. They are your brethren. 
They are your flesh, and your blood. 

But if he obliges us to look upon what belongs to them with 
care for their interests, it is not from thence to be said that he 
permits curiosity, that vice of human nature which another 
apostle expressly forbids, not wishing that we should be pry- 
ing into the affairs of others. To know what belongs to your 
neighbours, and afterwards to be careful for them, it is not ne- 
cessary to leave the business of your vocation, nor to inter- 
meddle with that of others, nor to trouble yourselves with use- 
less inquiries, or prying curiously into the secrets of persons 
or families. You may, at least, yield your brethren the duty 
here recommended, with a sincere and upright conscience, and 
entirely exempt from such unworthy motives. 

Thus we have now explained all the parts of this text. It 
is not, as you see, brethren, very difficult to understand it. 
The principal point is, that you should put it in practice ; and 
that this excellent instruction of the apostle should be read in 
your lives as well as in his Epistles. Among the reasons 
which enforce it upon you, I dare not bring forward, after his 
example, what consolation you owe us, from the extreme and 
immense disproportion there is between us and this great 
apostle ; although, after all, whatever we may be elsewhere, as 
we have the honour to be ministers of God amongst you, it is 
clear that you cannot, without injustice, refuse to have some 
regard to our satisfaction. But putting ourselves aside, I will 
bring before you the example of all the church, that of the 
holy angels who are in the midst of us, that of the Lord Jesus 
himself, who incessantly sees and looks upon us. Their uni- 
ted joy is to behold us living holily in perfect concord. The 
church, in those battles which she is now enduring, can receive 
no greater consolation. And the Lord and his angels can see 
nothing on earth that is more agreeable to them. If, then, be- 
loved brethren, "there is any consolation in Christ, if any 
comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels 
and mercies, fulfil ye my joy." May they see nothing among 
us calling for their tears, or for their sighs ; no disputes, no 
contentions, no vanity, no pride, no quarrels, no law-suits. 
May they see only subjects for rejoicing ; one faith, one love, 
one firm and inextinguishable concord, one simple and real 
humility, a respectful deference and a cordial affection towards 
each other. May they see from this age the first-fruits of that 


which is to come, a willing and peaceful people, full of piety 
and good works, clothed with light and purity, and worthy of 
the extraction, the citizenship, and the communion of the hea- 
venly and immortal Jerusalem, founded and built above in the 
heavens. And as all the benefits of God, both spiritual and 
temporal, ought to minister to our sanctification, so let that 
favour also, dear brethren, which he has just granted us in 
hearing the united prayers of all this kingdom, and fulfilling 
the joy of the king,* our sovereign lord, by the happy birth of 
the second son which he has given him. This favour is great 
and excellent in every way, both in itself and as it regards us : 
in itself, for it is an effect of that extraordinary power and 
goodness of God which the prophet celebrates in one of his 
psalms : " He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to 
be a joyful mother of children," Psal. cxiii. 9. This is the 
wonder that he shows us now in the house of our monarch, en- 
riching it with these fruits of his blessing, after its having so 
long been without them. But this favour is also great as it 
respects ourselves. For the offspring of the king are the sup- 
ports of his house, the column of his kingdom, the establish- 
ment of the public peace, and the sure foundation of the pros- 
perity and happiness of his people. And among all these sub- 
jects there is not one which has more interest for us than that 
we, in the midst of so much evil and so many fears, only sub- 
sist, humanly speaking, by the clemency and authority of our 
sovereign. Let us then rejoice before God, and let us receive 
this his favour with all the gratitude of which our souls are 
capable. Let us bless his divine majesty, and praise him with 
all humility, in that he has given to our king the wish of his 
heart, and has not refused him that which he had desired with 
his lips. Let us beseech this almighty and eternal Lord to pour 
out his grace on the sacred branches of the royal stem, that 
they may grow and prosper in his presence. To the devotion 
of our prayers, join we the innocence and the goodness of our 
works ; let us love and religiously serve this great God who is 
so good to us. Let us yield ourselves with sincere devotion to 
his anointed, whom he deigns to load with so many favours, 
yielding to him and to his ministers an exemplary obedience 
and fidelity. Let us live with our fellow citizens in all right- 
eousness and honesty, and amongst ourselves with a purity 
and sanctiiication which may accord with the excellence of the 
doctrine of which we make profession ; to the glory of God, 
the edification of men, and to our own salvation. Amen. 

Preached at Charenton, Sunday, lQth Sept., 1640. 

* Louis xiii. (Editor.) 



VEKSES 5 — 8. 

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus ; who, 
being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with 
God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him 
the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 
and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and 
became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 

My dear brethren, if there be any mystery in the christian 
religion which is great and high above the thoughts of men 
and angels, it is without doubt the incarnation of the Son of 
God, and his profitable humiliation. And if there be in all the 
holy scriptures any place in which this important truth is 
clearly and magnificently represented, it is in the text we have 
now read, which is our portion for to-day. The terms of it 
are so sublime, so majestic, that it is impossible anything more 
heavenly could be said. The meaning is so noble, and so well 
established, that nothing more powerful could be imagined ; 
the apostle battering down in these few words all that hell 
has ever invented against this sacred and inviolable foundation 
of our faith. You may remember, that in the preceding text 
he had very affectionately recommended to us humility. But 
as this virtue is on one side absolutely necessary to our salva- 
tion, and on the other infinitely contrary to the tastes and in- 
clinations of our nature, he does not content himself with those 
efficacious means which he had before employed for touching 
our hearts, conjuring us to yield ourselves to them by every- 
thing that is most holy and most delightful in the fellowship 
of the Lord ; but to vanquish, and entirely eradicate, all the 
pride of our flesh, he here places before us the example of Je- 
sus Christ himself, as much to elevate before our eyes a true 
and lively image of the humility which should be in us, as to 
take from those who cannot relish it every excuse and every 
pretext for their vanity. For since the Son of God has volun- 
tarily abased himself to such a depth of humiliation, what ven- 
geance and hell would not our pride deserve, if, after his ex- 
ample, we, who are but miserable worms of the earth, should 
still make any difficulty in humbling ourselves ? " Let this 
mind (says the holy apostle) be in you, which was also in 
Christ Jesus." Do not imagine that, in exhorting you to hum- 
ble and abase yourselves below your brethren, I am requiring 
anything unworthy of you. I ask nothing of you which has 


not been in Jesus Christ. These thoughts and feelings which 
I recommend to you he has first entertained. Do not then 
disdain what he has cherished. That humility which was 
sanctified by having had a place in his heart, receive ye into 
yours. Have for your neighbours sentiments and feelings 
similar to those which he had for you. What could the apos- 
tle allege more suitable to his design ? For in the first place, 
as Jesus Christ is our Master, and we make profession of being 
his disciples, is it not reasonable that we should follow his ex- 
ample ? Where is the servant who does not consider it a glory 
to resemble his master ? Surely, if we have any spark of true 
generosity, nothing ought more ardently to incite us to the 
study of great and difficult things than thinking that in doing 
them we shall be like our Lord. For what is there in the 
world finer or more noble, or more worthy of our love and 
of our wishes, than this holy and heavenly conformity ? This 
is the reason why Jesus Christ in the gospel does not 
only propose to us the ancient prophets, although in truth it 
would be a great honour to us to have some resemblance to 
such holy persons ; but he presents us with his own example, 
and even with that of his Father : " Learn of me, for I am meek 
and lowly in heart," Matt. xi.-29. " Love your enemies, bless 
them which curse you, do good to those that hate you ; for 
your heavenly Father causeth his sun to rise on the good and 
on the evil, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust," 
Matt. v. 44, 45. Paul also speaks in the same way : " Forgiv- 
ing one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven 
you," Eph. iv. 32. " Be ye followers of God, as dear children : 
and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us," Eph. v. 1. 
And in exhorting the Corinthians to exercise charity to the 
poor, he says, " For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, 
that ye, through his poverty, might be rich," 2 Cor. viii. 9. 
And in various other places he proposes to us the example of 
Jesus Christ, and certainly with good reason. For besides the 
excellency and dignity of his nature, he has also that of a pri- 
vate person, and as such has been given to us by the Father 
as the true and only pattern of our life. All the faithful are 
predestinated to be conformed to his image, says the apostle 
in the Epistle to the Romans. " He has left us an example," 
says Peter, " that we should follow his steps." He is not only 
the author of this new and happy life, which he has purchased 
with the price of his own blood, he is also the mould and the 
pattern. He is its efficient cause and model, as they speak in 
the schools, having formed for us in himself a fine and living 
image, perfect in all its features, and set off with all its colours ; so 
that, having it continually before our eyes, we may each of us 
draw in our souls the most perfect copy of it, one as like the 


original as possible. Thus it is with great reason that the apostle, 
to form us to humility, proposes to us the example of Jesus Christ. 
Christians, behold this divine example with attention ! Open 
whatever you have of mind to understand and admire it, but 
strive principally to imitate it, which is the design for which 
it is here placed before our eyes. And may the Lord himself 
discover to us its wonders, and inspire us with a love for it, 
by the efficacy of his good Spirit, to his glory, and to our con- 
solation and edification. 

To explain to you what the apostle says of the humility of 
our Lord Jesus Christ, we must by the grace of God consider 
in order the two points which present themselves in this text : 
first, What the Lord was in himself; and secondly, In what, 
and to what, he had humbled himself for us. The apostle pre- 
sents the first to us in the sixth verse in these words, " That 
Jesus Christ, being in the form of God, and equal with God." 
The second in the two following verses, " That he made him- 
self of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a ser- 
vant, and was made in the likeness of men : and being found 
in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient 
unto death, even the death of the cross." The former of these 
is the first and original condition of the Lord, in which he was 
with the Father; the latter, the second, in which he is among 
us : the one treats of his nature, the other of his dispensation 
or economy; the one of that state from which he had 
abased himself, the other of that to which he had humbled 

I. To arrive at the first, the apostle describes it by saying 
that Jesus Christ, being or subsisting (for that is precisely what 
the word signifies in the original) " in the form of God, 
thought it not robbery to be equal with God," where you see 
that, to explain to us the state in which the Lord Jesus was 
when he took upon himself the form of a servant, he attri- 
butes two things to him ; the one, " that he was in the form of 
God ;" the other, that he was " equal with God." Certainly 
the Son is the image of the invisible Father, the brightness 
of his glory, and the express image of his person ; his living 
and essential image, which contains and truly exhibits in itself 
all his essence and all his perfections, his divinity, his eter- 
nity, his power, his goodness, his justice, and all his other at- 
tributes ; there being nothing in the nature of the one which, 
there is not in that of the other : so that in this respect we 
can justly and truly affirm that he has the form of God ; in 
the same manner (if we may compare earth to heaven, and the 
creatures to the Creator) as we say of a child, that he perfectly 
resembles his father, not only in the features and lineaments 
of the body, but also in the virtues and habits of his mind ; 
that he is the form or ima°;e of his father. But we must con- 


sider that the apostle says that Jesus Christ was in the form 
of God, and not that he was or that he had the form of God. 
What then is this form of God in which the Lord was when 
he took our flesh upon him? Dear brethren, it is not simply 
the divine nature which was in him, the true and perfect form 
of the person of the Father ; but it is that nature invested 
with his majesty, clothed with his glory, and accompanied 
with a pomp worthy of his supreme excellence. " To be in 
the form of God " is to have a sovereign majesty, to enjoy an 
infinite glory, to exercise tbe authority, the rights, and the 
functions of God, to live and appear in a manner suitable to 
this great and incomprehensible nature. Thus to be in the 
form of God signifies not only to be king, to possess majesty 
and power, but also to have the insignia of royalty, its courtly 
train and splendid equipage. For what is the form of a king 
unaccompanied with the symbols and characters of that dig- 
nity, the pageantry and the brilliance which accompany it, as 
the sceptre, the diadem, the throne, and the guards ? Thus 
formerly among the Eomans we might call the form of a con- 
sul, the equipage and the pomp with which the laws and cus- 
toms of that people invested those who exercised the office, 
the purple, the ivory chair, the twelve lictors with their fasces 
and rods, and such like. When then the apostle here says 
that the Lord, before taking our nature upon him, was in the 
form of God, he does not merely intend that he was God in 
himself, and that he had the true nature of the divinity ; but 
further still, that he possessed the glory, and enjoyed all the 
dignity, majesty, and grandeur due to so high a name. This 
is precisely what the Lord means in John, by the glory which 
he says he had with the Father before the world was. For 
before this eternal Word and Wisdom had taken to himself 
the human nature, he had nothing low or weak in him. Every 
thing was great, magnificent, and truly divine. He was with 
God in the bosom of the eternal Father, subsisting there in an 
incomprehensible manner, and worthy of his divine nature. 
If he negotiated with men, if he interfered in the government 
of the universe, there was nothing in his providence which 
was not glorious and majestic. Those communications which 
he held with the creatures were the same as those of the Father. 
I confess that it was the Son who created the world, and that 
without him was no part of the universe made. It is by him 
that kings rule and princes govern ; he then frequented the 
earth, and his delight was with the children of men, as says 
the wise man in Prov. viii. But notwithstanding, in all this 
there was nothing abject or contemptible ; on the contrary, it 
was therein that a part of that glory, and of that form of God 
in which the Lord was, consisted. For the rule and empiro 
over all things is an honour that belongs to God alone. Such 


was the state of the Son of God when he descended for our 
sakes upon the earth. Seated on the eternal throne with the 
Father, surrounded by his angels, and adored by all his crea- 
tures, he lived and reigned with him in a divine manner, with 
out having any other intercourse with the vileness of the 
world, except so far as it required his providence to uphold it 
in the condition in which he had created it. This is what 
Paul means when he says that Jesus Christ was in the form of 

To which, for the purpose of explaining himself more 
clearly, he adds that he was " equal with God." As to these 
words, "he thought it not robbery," on account of the differ- 
ent expositions of them which have been given, we shall for a 
while defer explaining their meaning, and at this time only 
dwell upon that in which all interpreters unanimously agree, 
namely, that the Lord " was equal with God." Doubtless the 
psalmist and the other prophets declare in a thousand places 
that there is nothing in the universe equal to God, whether it 
regard his nature, his power, or his wisdom. As then Jesus 
Christ was equal to him, we must necessarily conclude that he 
was God blessed for evermore with the Father, of the same 
power, wisdom, and goodness ; that he was the same Eternal 
formerly adored by ancient Israel, and celebrated by the pro- 
phets. Now, before going further, remark and admire, I be- 
seech you, the richness, the -strength, and the efficacy of the 
scriptures in these few words of the apostle, which are suffi- 
cient to demolish all those heresies which have risen up 
against the Lord. In the first place, they confound the impu- 
dence of those who deny that Jesus Christ has subsisted in the 
nature of things, before his conception and his birth of the 
blessed Virgin. " Being, or subsisting, in the form of God, he 
made himself of no reputation, and took the form of a servant." 
He was then already in the form of God, when he took upon him- 
self the form of a servant. Now it is evident that he took it when 
he was made flesh, when he was conceived by the power of the Holy 
Ghost in the womb of his mother. Undoubtedly he then already 
was ; he was God, and only began to be, with regard to his 
human nature, in the form of a servant, with which he invested 
himself, not having had it before. As to what some of these 
heretics say, that by the form of God in which the Lord was, 
we must understand the excellence and the dignity of his hu- 
man nature, shown in the rays which from time to time he 
caused to appear through the veil of his humanity, it is an il- 
lusion which cannot stand. In the first place, by this reckon- 
ing, Jesus Christ must have taken the form of a servant 
before being in the form of God ; directly contrary to the 
sense and words of the apostle, who says, that being in the form 
of God, he thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but 


made himself of no reputation, and was clothed with the form 
of a servant. Secondly, because all this splendour in the hu- 
man nature of Jesus Christ, if there had been nothing more 
in him, could not in any sense whatever have been called the 
form of God, and still less as being equal with God. The 
angels are as excellent, or more so, than any human nature 
can be, whatever grace we may suppose the Creator to have 
imparted to it, except the personal union with the Deity. Yet 
the psalmist declares that there are none of these blessed spirits 
who are, I will not say equal, but even comparable to the ma- 
jesty of God. As then the apostle protests that the being of 
the Lord Jesus was equal with God, it must necessarily be ac- 
knowledged that there was in him some other thing than the 
flesh, which he took for us ; that is to say, that eternal Word, 
which at the beginning was with God, and was God. I confess, 
that so long as the Lord was here below, the infirmity of his 
flesh could not so entirely veil the light of his divinity, but 
that it pierced this cloud, and shone forth in splendour capable 
of making itself recognized by those who beheld it attentively. 
And this is what John means, when he says at the beginning 
of his Gospel, that they had seen his glory, the glory as of the 
only begotten of the Father. But notwithstanding this, all 
these rays and emanations of his glory are not sufficient to 
justify the expression that he then lived in the form of God, 
and in a manner equal to God, as the humility of his flesh kept 
the greater part of this divine form hidden. 

I come to those who, confessing that the Son of God existed 
before he was born in our flesh, will have, that this chief nature 
which he then possessed had been created, and was of a sub- 
stance different from that of the Father. The apostle com- 
pletely upsets their impiety ; first, in saying that the form in 
which he then was, was the form of God. For who can main- 
tain, without blasphemy, that any of the angels, or any other 
creature whatsoever, can be in the form of God? Give them 
what intelligence you please, if they are creatures, they will 
always remain infinitely below the form of the Creator. And 
it cannot here be argued that "the form of God" signifies his 
glory, and not his nature; his majesty and not his essence. 
For in the first place, I contend that though it be true, that 
this word here denotes more precisely the first than the second, 
it nevertheless appears by the contrast, of "the form of a ser- 
vant," which the apostle adds, that it comprehends both; that 
is to say, as we have before remarked, that it really signifies a 
nature truly divine, clothed with a suitable glory ; as well as 
"the form of a servant," that the Lord has taken, signifies in 
the other part of this text a flesh truly human, clothed with 
all its weaknesses and infirmities. Secondly, supposing it 
were granted, that this "form of God," of which the apostle 


speaks, only signifies the glory and the majesty of God, still I 
maintain that it is enough to convince us that the Lord was 
truly God by his nature. For none can have this glory but 
God; and that for two reasons: the one, that the thing itself is 
absolutely impossible; the other, because the will of God is 
opposed to it. As to the first, it is evident that a finite subject 
is incapable of that which is infinite, it being impossible that 
that which is less should hold, or contain, that which is greater 
than itself; so that every creature being of necessity finite, it 
is a thing in every way impossible that it should have the form, 
that is to say, the glory and majesty, of God, who is infinite. 
But the will of God no less rejects it than the nature of the 
thing itself. For God protests loudly in Isaiah, "I will not 
give my glory to another," Isa. xlii. 8; xlviii. 11. As then 
the Lord Jesus, before he took our flesh, was in the form of 
God, it necessarily follows that he was truly God, no one being 
able to have the glory of God but he who had his nature also. 
And what the apostle adds, that he was "equal with God," 
clearly also determines the same thing ; it being evident that 
if the Son were a creature, he could not be equal to God ; 
every creature being of necessity infinitely below the nature, 
power, and majesty of the Creator. But that also incontestably 
proves that the Son is a person distinct from the Father, 
against those who, being forced to confess that their nature is 
the same, confound also their persons. For equality can only 
exist between different persons; none is equal to himself; so 
that Paul, saying that the Son is equal to the Father, ne- 
cessarily presupposes that the Father and the Son are two per- 
sons. Such is the power and copiousness of these words of 
the apostle against all sorts of error. 

But he does not merely say that Jesus Christ was equal to 
God. He adds, that " he thought it not robbery to be equal 
with God." The word "robbery" may here be taken either 
literally or figuratively. Literally, as when we call a thing 
stolen, of which an individual has become improperly pos- 
sessed, without any just and legitimate right. It is thus that 
the king of the evil angels wished to have the divinity, carried 
away by pride, having usurped the honour which belonged 
to his Creator alone. Adam, our first father, aimed at it 
in the same manner, having undertaken, against all reason, to 
become like God. If these unhappy beings had succeeded in 
their vain and unjust designs, the pretended equality they 
would have had with God, and it was such in their foolish 
imagination, would have been a robbery. The apostle then 
intended to say that it was not the same with our Lord Jesus, 
that he wronged no one by being in the form of God, and 
equal with God ; because being truly God, as he is, the glory 
and majesty due to such a nature lawfully belonged to him ; 


so that he had a right to possess and enjoy it, and for employ- 
ing it cannot justly be accused of robbery, that is to say, of 
force or fraud, or, in a word, of any injustice. But although 
the Lord did not think this equality of being that he had with 
God to be a robbery, although he knew that he had a right to it, 
and could retain it lawfully, nevertheless of his free-will he 
" made himself of no reputation," says the apostle, " and took 
the form of a servant." I acknowledge that this exposition is 
true in the main, and that it does not ill become either the 
object or the words of the apostle. For for its foundation 
nothing is more true than what it presupposes, that the Son, 
before his humiliation, enjoyed the form of God, and a majesty 
and glory equal to his, by the just and legitimate right of his 
own nature, and not by robbery, or any other species of in- 
justice. And as to the apostle, it forwards his object, which 
is to glorify the humiliation of the Son of God ; showing, as 
it does, that he humbled himself, taking quite another form 
from that in which he had been before ; that he had not been 
constrained to do it, or that he did it through ignorance of his 
rights, but by his pure and voluntary goodness ; knowing well 
that he might justly have acted otherwise, had he pleased. 
And, finally, as to the words of Paul, this interpretation may 
be accommodated, as the genius of the Greek language in 
which they were written permits their being so interpreted, 
"Jesus Christ, being in the form of God, would not have 
thought it robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of 
no reputation ;" or, as our Bibles have translated it, with the 
same meaning, " however, he made himself of no reputation." 
But besides this exposition, which is the most common, there 
is still another, which perhaps is not less easy or less suitable, 
in taking the words of the apostle figuratively, " that Jesus 
Christ thought it not robbery to be equal with God," as imply- 
ing that he has not made a trophy of this his prerogative, that 
he has not drawn from it any subject for glory or vanity. 
For it was then a custom almost universal in the world, that 
victors who had conquered or carried off something from their 
enemies by force, as their ensigns, or their arms, should erect 
them as trophies, elevate them on trees or columns, or some 
high places, and raise other similar monuments for a testimony 
of their valour; whilst as to the things which we possess by 
the ordinary rights of nature, or by civil justice, we do nothing 
of the kind. This vanity, which was common in the apostle's 
days, is a reason why these words, " thought it not robbery," 
may be employed, as meaning to glorify himself by it, and 
make a parade of it, and take it for a matter of trophy or tri- 
umph. Thus the sense of this text will be simple and easy, 
that the Lord Jesus, being in the form of God, did not make a 
trophy of being equal with God ; he never thought of making 


a parade of it, publishing and showing it to every one, in 
bearing himself as God, and appearing on the earth with a 
pomp and glory worthy of his divinity. 

II. The apostle adds, he " made himself of no reputation, 
and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the 
likeness of men ; and being found in fashion as a man, he 
humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the 
death of the cross." This is the second point of which we 
proposed to treat. We have heard what the Lord was by na- 
ture ; let us now see what he became by dispensation. He was 
God, equal to the Father, and in the form of God. He made 
himself man, and a servant, obedient unto the cross. The 
apostle proposes two parts for our consideration in this mys- 
tery : first the form or condition that the Lord took ; and then 
the obedience which he therein yielded to the Father. He ex- 
plains the first to us in these words " that Jesus Christ made 
himself of no reputation, having taken the form of a servant, 
made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as 
a man." Now what he says, "that he made himself of no 
reputation," shows us that all this humiliation of his has 
been a work of his love, and not of necessity. It was neither 
the authority nor strength of any opposing power that in- 
duced him to make himself of no reputation. It was his will 
which made him do it. He bent not under the efforts of 
any other power than that of his own love. Then after- 
wards the apostle tells us in what his " emptying himself" 
properly consisted, when he adds, "he took upon him the 
form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." Do 
not imagiae that his thus abasing himself signifies that he had 
ceased to be God, or that he despoiled himself of either his 
immortal and immutable nature, or of any of its properties. 
He made himself of no reputation, not in losing or quitting 
what he had, but in taking that which he had not ; not in ex- 
tinguishing the glory of his divinity, but in concealing it be- 
neath the veil of infirmity. Furthermore, this "form of a 
servant" which the Lord took is not simply human nature. 
For now that he is in the heavens, in sovereign glory, he 
has no longer this form of a servant, whilst he still has, 
and will eternally have, human nature. But even as the form 
of God in which he was signifies (as we have before observed) 
a divinity clothed with its glory ; so also the form of a ser- 
vant which he took is a low, contemptible, and human nature, 
accompanied by all those infirmities which are now found in 
man's nature. It is the same that Paul elsewhere calls the 
form or " likeness of sinful flesh," Eom. viii. 3. And John 
expresses the same truth in other words, when he says, " The 
Word was made flesh," John i. 14 ; that is to say, not man 
simply, but weak man, despicable in appearance, and tempted 


in all things, like as we are, sin only excepted. Now a ser- 
vant or a slave is not simply a man ; for there are many men 
who are not slaves. But it is a man reduced to a low and vile 
condition, dependent on the will of others, and living meanly, 
in contempt, without glory or honour ; so that the form of a 
servant, besides the nature which the Lord took upon himself, 
signifies still further the state and condition of that nature. 
That which he adds, " that being made in the likeness of men, 
and being found in fashion as a man," is only to make the 
same thing clear. For, in the first place, in saying that he 
had " the likeness of men," he specifies precisely what that 
form of a servant was, of which he had spoken in general, and 
confines it to the nature of men. The nature of angels is very 
excellent, particularly above that of animals. But though 
this be so, in comparison with that of God, it must and ought 
to be called " the form of a servant," as it really is, as " angels 
are ministering spirits sent forth to minister," Heb. i. 14. If, 
then, the Lord had clothed himself with their nature, there is 
no doubt that it might truly have been said that he had taken 
" the form of a servant." But the apostle shows us that it is 
not this that he means, and that he speaks of the nature of 
men, and not of that of angels, when he says that the Lord took 
the form of a servant, according to the information which he 
elsewhere expressly gives us, that " he took not on him the 
nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham." Again, in saying 
that he was made in the likeness of men, he declares to us the 
manner in which he has taken to himself this poor and weak 
nature with which he clothed himself, not simply as a veil, or 
a dress, or a symbol of his presence, as he had formerly taken 
exterior forms, under which he had appeared to the prophets, 
without having any union of nature with them ; but that he 
united it to himself personally in such a way that this flesh, 
in which he manifested himself, is not foreign to him, but his 
own. He has not only taken man, he is become man ; he was 
made in the likeness of men ; he was made flesh, as says John. 
But let none here receive into their mind the dream of some 
ancient heretics, that Paul took from the Lord the truth and 
substance of human nature, and left him nothing but a false 
and vain appearance, under pretence " that he was made in the 
likeness of men," and not simply that he was made man ; and 
besides that, "being found in fashion as a man," and not 
simply being found man. For, in the first place, it is to reason 
badly, to conclude that he has not truly had our nature from 
what the apostle says, " that he was made in the likeness of 
men." At this rate it might be inferred that Seth was not 
truly of the same nature as his father Adam, because Moses 
says he was begotten in the likeness and image of Adam. It 
simply follows from this, that the Lord was not those other 


men in whose likeness he was made, neither was Seth Adam ; 
but not that he had not truly a nature like theirs. The apos- 
tle really says that the Lord had a likeness to other men. But 
he does not say that this likeness which he bore to us has no 
foundation but that of a false shadow and vain picture of our 
flesh, as these people imagine, and not upon a true aDd sub- 
stantial nature, that he has in common with us, as scripture 
teaches us, saying, that Christ has partaken of flesh and blood 
with us ; that he was made of a woman, of the seed of David ; 
that he was made flesh ; that he was like us in all things, sin 
excepted. Secondly, I say that the meaning of the apostle is 
clear, " Christ was made in the likeness of men ;" that is to say, 
that in appearance there was no difference between him and 
other men, that nature which he took to himself being so truly 
ours in all things, that to look at that alone it appeared that 
he was only man, although indeed he was also God. It ap- 
pears that there was nothing particular in him, nothing ele- 
vated above others, though in reality he had an infinity of pre- 
rogatives above other men. 

In the same manner the following words must be understood, 
" that he was found in fashion as a man." This form of the 
Lord is nothing else than the situation and apparent condition 
of his flesh, and of the life which he led ; all the outward ap- 
pearance of his person. On beholding him, there would be 
found nothing which should distinguish him from other men, 
and those who only judged from their outward senses would 
have taken him for a common man. They would never have 
believed that under so mean, so sad, and so poor a form, had 
been veiled the eternal Son of God, the King of angels and of 
men. It is a form of speech similar to what we meet with in 
the 82nd Psalm, where the prophet, speaking to the princes, 
says, " You shall die like men ;" that is to say, as he explains 
it in another part of the verse, " You shall fall as one of the 
princes ;" not meaning that these great ones, to whom he ad- 
dresses this, were not truly men, but simply to say that their 
quality should not prevent their dying ; there being, in this re- 
spect, no difference between them and others. And Samson, 
in the book of Judges, says, " If I be bound, I shall be as a 
man ;" that is to say, as another man ; there will not then be 
any difference between me and other men. Here, then, in the 
same way, when the apostle says, " that the Lord Jesus was 
made in the likeness of men, and found in fashion as a man," 
he only means, that to look at the outward condition of the 
life which he led on earth, it would be found, in this respect, 
exactly like that of others, and not appearing to have any ad- 
vantage over them. And this is what Isaiah had prophesied so 
many ages before with extreme astonishment : "He shall grow 
up as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground : he hath 


no form nor comeliness ; and when we shall see him, there is 
no beauty that we should desire him," Isa. liii. 2. And it is 
this external form in which he was found which has deceived 
worldly minds, and has made them ask the spouse in the 
mystical song, " What is thy beloved more than another be- 
loved, thou fairest among women ? what is thy beloved 
more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us ?" 
Cant. v. 9. 

Thus you may henceforth see in what this humiliation of 
our Lord, or making himself of no reputation, (for Paul gives 
it both these names,) consists ; not indeed simply that he has 
taken to himself our nature, (for he does not cease to have 
that now in the heavens, where he is out of his humiliation, 
in his sovereign glory,) but truly in this, that he clothed him- 
self with feeble flesh, frail, mortal, and subject to all the mean- 
nesses and indignities of earth ; a flesh which in reality was 
formed by the hand of the Holy Ghost, but nevertheless in the 
womb of a virgin, of the seed of David, and of a mortal sub- 
stance ; a flesh which came into the light of life among the 
lowliness of ordinary births, which was wrapped in linen, and 
nurtured at the breast ; which grew by degrees, and which was 
subject to cold, to heat, to rain, and to the other injuries of the 
atmosphere ; to weariness, to hunger, to thirst, to grief; which 
required sleep and rest to recruit it ; which had nothing great, 
celestial, or extraordinary, either in its form, its complexion, 
or its appearance. Add to this the extreme poverty in which 
he willingly passed his life, insomuch that he had not where to 
lay his head; growing and dwelling many years, not in the 
palaces of the great, but in the abode of a carpenter, labouring 
with his own hands at a low mechanical trade ; and when he 
began the exercise of his office, he was accompanied, not by 
guards, or a number of disciples who were of some reputation 
in the world, but by twelve fishermen, as rough and uncouth 
as possible, and teaching oftenest in the deserts, on the moun- 
tains, or on the solitary banks of lakes. What shall I say of 
the law of Moses, to all the penalties of which he submitted, 
having felt its yoke from his infancy when he was circumcised, 
and having afterwards observed its ordinances as faithfully as 
if he had been its true and legitimate subject ? He yielded the 
same respect to the baptism of John. And besides these two 
servants of his Father, he submitted to Koman governors, and 
to the orders of inferior magistrates. He paid that tribute 
which he did not owe, and there was no sort of subjection 
or servitude through which he did not pass. He was ex- 
posed to the temptations of Satan, to the blasphemies of the 
Pharisees, to the insults and mockeries of the people, and 
allowed himself to be loaded with abuse. He was willing 
that devils and men should have free liberty to attack him, 


opposing all their designs with gentleness and patience ; 
whilst the last degree of his humiliation was that cross of 
which we shall presently speak. What abasement could 
possibly have been imagined deeper, and more wonderful, 
than this, I do not say by men only, but by all the angels 
of heaven? From what higher point of glory could Jesus 
have descended to the lowest condition of man ? The most 
elevated among men is but a miserable worm ; so that had 
the Lord taken to himself the form and the situation of the 
most august on the earth, this would be to have descended 
infinitely lower than to have gone from the highest point of 
heaven to the centre of the abyss. Judge then what we 
ought to think or to say now, when he has clothed himself 
with the form, not of a king or an emperor, but of a vassal 
or a slave. This was truly " to make himself of no reputation," 
when the Son of God emptied himself (thus speaks our apos- 
tle) of all that fulness of good which dwelt in him. In that 
form which he took, there appeared no part of that abundance 
which he possessed in the other. There is neither light, nor 
strength, nor glory, nor empire, nor majesty to be seen. From 
almighty, he became very weak ; from the most rich, the most 
poor ; from the Lord of angels, the servant of men ; from the 
glory of the world, the reproach and sport of the most 
wretched. He dwelt above the heavens from eternity to eter- 
nity, without beginning and without end ; and here we see 
that he was born in a manger, and died on a cross. There he 
was worshipped by angels ; here he was scourged and nailed 
to the tree by executioners : there he walked on the heavens, 
and trod the empires of the world under his feet ; here he ap- 
peared before the servant of Tiberius, and waited from the 
mouth of this earth-worm the sentence of life or death : there 
he controlled the elements, the seasons, and time ; here he 
lived under their rule, and bore their confusion : there he sup- 
ported plants and animals ; here he required their nourishment 
and their flesh for his food : there he enjoyed a most pure and 
ineffable beatitude ; here he had but gall and tears to drink. 
And do not tell me that it is the flesh of the Lord that has 
suffered all these indignities, and that his divinity neverthe- 
less preserved all its riches and glory, without either the rage 
of the devils, or the insolence and barbarity of the Jews, 
having taken from him the smallest part of it. I agree, and 
I willingly confess, that nothing happened to his divine na- 
ture, neither can there occur to it any alteration or shadow of 
change ; but this other form that he took to himself belonged 
to him so completely, that all he did and all he suffered was truly 
his own. This man, the son of Mary, who has borne all our in- 
firmities, is no other than the eternal Son of God. Both of these 
natures, so different from each other, were united in one sub- 


stance and made but one person, as the soul and body make 
but one man. It is one and the same Jesus who was in the 
form of God, and who took upon him the form of a servant. 
Since then you acknowledge that this form of a servant was 
extremely humbled and stripped of glory and strength, neither 
can you deny that the Son of God was made of no reputation ; 
whatever belongs to either the one or the other of these two 
forms belonged to him equally, though in different aspects. 
Thus it must be added, that though no alteration could occur 
in the divine nature of the Lord, still the infirmity of his flesh 
hid its splendor; as when the body of the moon or a thick 
cloud passes before the sun, its light is not extinguished, but 
hidden from our eyes ; and if it neither become paler nor less 
beautiful, our senses nevertheless feel a difficulty in judging of 
it otherwise than as it appears to them ; hence we say that it 
is eclipsed. 

But I come to the second and last part of the Lord's humil- 
iation, namely, his obedience: "He was obedient unto death, 
even the death of the cross." From which we first learn, that 
true humility consists in abasing ourselves in the things that 
God ordains, and into which he leads us by his will, either by 
the commandments of his word, or by the dispensation of his 
providence, in such a way that we can truly say that our hu- 
mility has been obedience. This must be remarked, contrary 
to that superstition which cuts out for itself the matter of its 
humility, placing it in voluntary devotions, (will worship,) as 
Paul calls them in the Epistle to the Colossians, ii. 28, which 
God does not require at our hands. These have some appear- 
ance of wisdom and humility, but in reality are but presump- 
tion and pride. For it is to be wiser than God, and covertly 
to disparage his institutions and rules, as if they were not suf- 
ficient to lead us to salvation. Add to which, it is to fail in 
the principal point of humility, which is to renounce our own 
will, and to submit entirely to that of God. The Lord Jesus 
did not act thus. Although he was the sovereign wisdom, 
nevertheless he did nothing of himself. He followed the will 
of his Father in all his paths. His whole humiliation was but 
one constant and perpetual obedience. Secondly, we must re- 
strict this obedience to the subject of which the apostle speaks, 
namely, to that which relates to the no reputation of the Lord. 
For as to holiness, which consists in love to God and our 
neighbour, it is indeed an obedience, seeing that it is in con- 
formity to the will of God; but that was not a part of the hu- 
miliation of the Lord. Nevertheless, it is in that that its 
chief excellency consists ; there being nothing more beautiful 
nor more divine in rational nature than holiness. Thus you 
see that it makes in heaven (where abasement has no place) the 
chief part of the glory of the Lord and of his saints. "What 


then is precisely the obedience which is here spoken of? It 
is that which Jesus Christ yielded to the Father in all things 
which properly and necessarily belong to the satisfaction for 
our sins, and his office of Mediator, and what relates to it ; 
such was his subjection to the Mosaic law, and all the suffer- 
ings by which he was consecrated. For of himself, and by 
reason of his nature, he was not obliged to it. But he sub- 
mitted to it by the will of the Father, to execute the commis- 
sion which he had given him, to save the human race. And 
the apostle, to lead us to it, names here expressly the last and 
chief of these things, that is to say, the death of the Lord. 
" He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." 
For the word "unto" is used in this place to signify, not the 
continuation of the time to which the Saviour was obedient, 
even to its termination, but the end of the things in which he 
was obedient, even to the greatest and most difficult of all, and 
to which all the others, related as to their true end. Hence, in 
the Epistle to the Hebrews, the apostle takes the obedience 
which the Lord yielded to the will of God, saying, " Behold, 
I come to do thy will, O God!" he takes it, I say, for the obla- 
tion of his body, offered and sacrificed on the cross for the 
redemption of the world. Jesus Christ then has not only been 
obedient in suffering patiently, according to the will of his 
Father, all the inconveniences and miseries of this life, 
poverty, contempt, grief, persecution, and such like, however 
unworthy they were of him and of his nature; but he was 
obedient even unto death. To fulfil the commands of the Fa- 
ther, the Prince of life and immortality has not refused death, 
that thing which in the world appeared most contrary to his 
dignity and his nature. He has bound all the feelings of his 
flesh which resisted it, and brought them into captivity to the 
will of God. " Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass 
from me : nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done," Matt. 
xxvi. 59. 

But the apostle, to enhance the value and the wonder of 
this humble obedience of the Lord to its highest degree, re- 
marks particularly what the death was which he suffered: 
" He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." 
There is no kind of death which would not have offended the 
dignity and the nature of the innocent and most holy Lord, 
the resurrection and the life, the author of immortality, the 
Father of eternity, made a quickening Spirit, and not, like the 
first Adam, a living soul. But among the various kinds of 
death, none could be more unworthy of this sovereign Lord 
than the death of the cross ; the most shameful, infamous, and 
painful punishment then in use among men, which had this pecu- 
liar to it, that it was expressly cursed of God in his law. The 
disgrace of men was found joined to the execration of God, 


and the greatest shame to the most extreme torment. And 
nevertheless, O ineffable, O adorable and incomprehensible 
humility ! Jesus, the eternal Son of the Father, humbled him- 
self even to this! The Lord of the world endured the punish- 
ment of slaves. The King of glory submitted to the extremest 
disgrace. The Holy of holies received the wages and the treat- 
ment of the most infamous malefactors. The well-beloved of 
his Father was voluntarily made a curse. Dear brethren, this 
obedience is so great, and elevated so much above our minds, 
that we neither know how to express it nor to celebrate it 
otherwise than by silence and astonishment. What then re- 
mains for us, ravished and, as it were, swallowed up by so 
high and so strange a wonder, but to prostrate ourselves in 
deep devotion before this crucified Saviour? and, touched to 
the very bottom of our hearts by so admirable an example, 
we should cast down before his cross all that is haughty in 
our nature, there faithfully strip ourselves of our vanity and 
presumption, our hatred, envy, and every similar passion, the 
true productions and offspring of pride. Let us there offer to 
him our courage and our interest, and let us have nothing 
either so agreeable to us that we do not count it dross, nor so re- 
pugnant to our nature that we would not cheerfully bear it, 
whenever his will and the good of our neighbour may re- 
quire it. 

Proud man ! does not this humiliation of the Lord mortify 
your vanity? He, who was the King of glory, abased himself 
below the lowest of men. You, who are but a worm of earth, 
you elevate yourself above the greatest. He did not make a 
triumph of being equal to God; and a little spark of mind, a 
handful of dust, a shadow, a dream, a nothing inflames your 
heart. Being in the form of God, he did not disdain to take 
that of man ; yet a little land, or some trivial worldly advan- 
tage which you think you possess, renders you insolent to- 
wards God. He made himself of no reputation, and stripped 
himself of heavenly majesty and glory, to save men ; and you 
make a difficulty, not for their edification alone, but for your 
own salvation, to rid yourself, not of some advantage that you 
have over them, (for in truth you have none, and if you would 
dispassionately weigh yourself, you would find that you were 
either below others, or at best their equal,) but simply of an 
empty and false opinion which you have of your excellence. 
Christ, to obey his Father, quitted heaven, and the glory that 
he enjoyed there; and you are not willing for his service to 
yield the slightest of your advantages. He has suffered, for 
love of you, poverty and shame, death and the cross, all things 
unworthy of him, and entirely estranged from his nature ; and 
you are not willing for his name's sake to endure the least dis- 
grace and pain to which our sin and the constitution of our 
ilesh subject all men. 



But this obedience of the Lord ought not only to confound 
pride, it ought to extinguish all our vices. Sensualist! how 
is it that you are not ashamed to pass your life in pleasure, 
seeing that your Master began and finished his in perpetual 
suffering? He quitted the joys of heaven for your salvation. 
How is it that you do not renounce the pleasures of the earth 
for his glory? Miser! how is it that you adore that which 
your Lord despised? How is it that you are sparing of a few 
pence for Him who, leaving for your sake treasures and riches 
inestimable, made himself poor that you might be rich ? Sin- 
ner! whoever you may be, how do you dare to violate the will 
of God, after the example of the obedience which the Lord 
Jesus yielded to him? He neither owed these sufferings, or 
this death to which he submitted himself by the will of the 
Father ; whereas the holiness which he requires of you is a 
duty to which all sorts of reasons oblige you. His obedience 
was in no wise necessary to his happiness; without that 
which he demands from you, you cannot but be very misera- 
ble. Your obedience is useless to him, but it is truly useful 
to you. His was necessary for you, and it is for your sake 
alone that he performed it. 

And this consideration, my brethren, ought further to 
recommend to us the love and imitation of the obedience of 
the Lord more than all the rest, that it is love alone towards 
us which has been its cause. It is for us that he took the 
form of a servant. It is for us that he made himself of no 
reputation, and hid for a time his form of God. It is for us 
that he was made in the likeness of men, and was found in 
fashion as a man. It is for us that he was obedient unto 
death, even the death of the cross. All this admirable humil- 
iation was the effect of the love that he bore us, and the cause 
of our salvation and of our glory. Let us then love him, 
dear brethren, since he has so loved us ; let us serve him, since 
he has redeemed us. Let us do nothing but for him, since he 
has done so much for us. It is the road in which we must 
walk, marked with his blood, with his example, and with his 
steps, to arrive at that heavenly kingdom to which the Father 
has raised him, and where he has prepared our eternal mansion, 
to the end, that after the likeness of his humiliation, his suffer- 
ings, his cross, and his obedience, we may also for ever be like 
him in his glory and felicity. Amen. 

Preached at Charenton, Sunday, 28>th Oct., 1640. 



VERSES 9 — 11. 

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a 
name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus 
every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, 
and things under the earth: and that every tongue should con- 
fess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, under which we live, 
my brethren, has great advantages over the law of Moses, un- 
der which the ancient believers lived ; and this among others, 
that it explains to us, much more clearly, all those mysteries 
the knowledge of which is needful to our salvation. Not to 
speak of other advantages, whilst the law of Moses only disco- 
vered to the Israelites, obscurely and imperfectly, the evil of 
sin, and the excellence of holiness, two most important things 
to draw us from evil and to unite us to good, the gospel has 
made them both perfectly clear. Moses most frequently re- 
presented the punishments of sin and the rewards of holiness, 
the two most touching arguments of their kind, only Tinder 
the veils and in the form of divers earthly maledictions and 
blessings. But the gospel says to us openly and expressly, 
that the punishment which sin deserves is eternal death, and 
that the reward prepared for holiness is a glorious and immor- 
tal life. To which we must add, that the examples by which 
the gospel has confirmed, and as it were sealed, this truth, are 
much more lively and efficacious than those of the law. For 
what clearer and more convincing testimony to the evil of sin 
can we ever have than that which the gospel presents to us in 
the cross of Jesus Christ, where we see the only Son of God, 
and the Lord of glory, suffering a most cruel and ignominious 
death for the expiation of our crimes? And as to holiness, 
what clearer demonstration of its excellence can we desire than 
his exaltation, receiving, as the price of his obedience, at the end 
of his bitter sufferings, a heavenly life, an empire, and a glory in 
every respect equal to that of the Father? In truth, if our souls 
were pure and sincere, we should not have need of these spurs to 
urge us to the study of holiness. The beauty alone of the duties 
in which it consists should suffice to make us love it, and require 
but to propose them to us to insure our acceptance. But this 
flesh with which we are clothed, filling our understandings 
with darkness, and our affections with weakness and languor, 
the Lord and his ministers, to excite us, take occasion conti- 
nually to place before our eyes the glory and happiness with 


which he will one day crown our obedience, if we will but 
walk in his paths. It is with this design that the apostle now 
proposes to us the exaltation of our Lord Jesus Christ as the 
end of his humiliation, that from his example, as a true and 
certain pattern of our destiny, we should conceive an assured 
hope of a glory similar to his, which would make us cheer- 
fully imitate the humility, and the love, and all the other 
graces from which he has gathered such precious fruits. If 
you remember, he described to us in the preceding text the 
extreme abasement of the Lord, who, being in the form of 
God, took upon him the form of a servant, and humbled him- 
self, even to the death of the cross. If there were nothing else, 
this ought always to be sufficient to force us to humility, it 
being clear that the example of such a Lord ought to be the 
law of our life. But there is yet more. Besides the glory 
which will accrue to us from our conformity to him, humility 
will still be very useful to us. Instead of an empty honour 
that we ought to have despised to obey him, it will bring us 
another, solid and eternal. God, the sovereign Judge of the 
world, will take care not to leave for ever in meanness and suf- 
fering that grace which, of all the graces, he loves the best. 
He has shown us in Jesus Christ the account that he makes of 
humility and of obedience, and the reward that he has pre- 
pared for them ; when, at his rising from the tomb, into which 
he had voluntarily descended, he gave him all his dominion, 
and all his glory: "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted 
him, and given him a name which is above every name." This 
gift is the reward of his abasement, and of his obedience. He 
afterwards adds the effect and acquisition of this gift, the better 
to represent to us the grandeur and magnificence, that is to say, 
the homage, subjection, and adoration, which all creatures in 
the universe owe to the Lord Jesus, on account of this dignity 
to which the Father has raised him. He explains it in these 
words : "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of 
things in heaveo, and things in earth, and things under the 
earth ; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ 
is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Thus we have two 
points on which, by the grace of God, to treat in this discourse: 
the one contained in the first verse of our text, the dignity to 
which the Lord Jesus has been elevated ; the other explained 
in the two following verses, the privileges of this dignitj^, that 
is to say, the homage and the subjection which all creatures 
owe him. 

I. For the first point, that we may clearly understand what 
the apostle says, we must primarily consider the relation which 
the Lord's exaltation bears to his voluntary humiliation ; and, 
in the second place, what this exaltation is, and in what it con- 
sists. Paul instructs us in the first word, when, after having 


spoken of the abasement and obedience of Jesus Christ, he 
immediately adds in this verse, " Wherefore," or, as it is trans- 
lated in our Bibles, " For which cause God also hath highly- 
exalted him ;" clearly signifying, that it is in consequence of, on 
occasion of, and because of his preceding humiliation that he 
was exalted. In which you see he takes two things for 
granted : the one, that the order of the two parts of the media- 
tion of the Lord is such, that he must first be abased, and then 
exalted. The other, that the abasement was the reason, or, as 
they say in the schools, the moral cause of his exaltation. As- 
suredly it is an order that we see established in almost all parts 
of nature, that things pass through a low estate before attain- 
ing perfection and excellence. And what is usual in nature 
has been particularly needful in the mediation of Jesus Christ. 
For being in himself originally in the form of God, it was not 
possible that he should be exalted and have any higher dignity 
than that, if he had not first descended from that weight of glory 
and abased himself that he might afterwards be exalted. It 
was thus also that the Father had ordained in his eternal 
counsel, and had so declared it in the times of the Old Testa- 
ment by the mouth of his prophets ; who, as Peter declares, 
(1 Pet. i. 10,) have in many places predicted the sufferings 
which should happen to Christ, and the glory which should 
follow. Thence it is we read, in Luke xxiv. 26, that the Lord, 
speaking of his cross, said to the two disciples who were going 
to Emmaus, " Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, 
and to enter into his glory ?" which also he afterwards proved 
to them by the scriptures ; from which, you see, that he takes 
this order for granted, as necessary and immutable, that suffer- 
ing should precede glory. But the reason of his office did not less 
oblige him to this order than the decrees and oracles of the 
Father. For his design was to open to us the sanctuary of God, 
and to lead us to the throne of his grace. Now sin, of which 
we are all guilty, shutting against us the entrance of the house 
of God, it was absolutely necessary that he should begin by 
expiating our crimes, which he could no otherwise accomplish 
than by his death ; that is to say, by his humiliation. The de- 
sign which he also had of forming for us a pattern of patience, 
of humility, and of the other virtues necessary for obtaining 
salvation by the way of affliction, required it ; examples which 
he could only give by suffering. And the apostle teaches this 
in the Epistle to the Hebrews, saying, " that it became him for 
whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing 
many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation 
perfect through sufferings." This order then being thus es- 
tablished, and taken for granted in the will of God, as becom- 
ing his wisdom and the nature of the things themselves, that 
the Christ should suffer first, and then be glorified ; it is evi- 


dent that these sufferings once completed, it was needful that 
he should in consequence be exalted to glory, even though in 
other respects his abasement should not have contributed to 
his glorification. As you see in the order of this world, that 
nature, after having suffered the colds of winter, is afterwards 
comforted by the softness of spring, and that, summer ended, 
the autumn necessarily follows ; though no one of these sea- 
sons is, truly speaking, the cause of that which follows it, these 
being nothing in themselves but a simple dependence of order. 
Formerly, the Lord transporting his people to Babylon, re- 
solved, at the same time, to bring them thence at the end of 
seventy years, and foretold it by Jeremiah. This same order being 
fixed, who does not observe that we may say, that Israel com- 
pleted the seventy years of her captivity, and this was the 
reason that the Lord brought them back into Judea by the 
command of Cyrus ? In the same manner the apostle says in 
this place, that the Lord Jesus having been obedient unto death, 
God has, for this reason, highly exalted him. Nevertheless, I 
do not deny, that between the abasement and exaltation of 
Jesus Christ there may be something more than a simple con- 
sequence and order of dependence. I willingly admit that his 
glory was the fruit of his cross, and his exaltation the effect of 
his humiliation. It seems, in this place, as if the apostle looked 
principally to that. For he wishes to recommend humility to 
us, and to make us love it ; and it was right thus to propose 
to us the advantages which the Lord Jesus has derived from 
his, and to show us that it contributed to his glory, that it was 
its cause and foundation. Christ "humbled himself, and be- 
came obedient unto death, even the death of the cross ; therefore 
God also hath highly exalted him ;" that is to say, that the 
Father had respect to his humiliation and obedience when he 
crowned him with glory, and that this high dignity in which 
he has established him is the reward of his obedience. For, 
in the first place, the Father had promised the Son the empire 
of the universe, and a sovereign glory, after the conflicts and 
the sufferings of his office. Christ, then, having punctually 
acquitted himself in it, having humbly and constantly suffered 
all the things that the Father required of him for the satisfac- 
tion of his justice, and for the redemption of the world, we 
must perceive that his own truth obliged him to exalt him into 
the promised glory ; and that in consideration of his death, 
and of his sufferings which preceded it, all this grandeur and 
dignity were given him. 

But suppose that the Father had not obliged himself to 
this reward by his promises ; I say, that even in that case the 
excellence of the obedience of the Son, and the wonder of his 
humility, could not but have touched him, and drawn from his 
pure goodness this same reward which he has given him in 


virtue of his promises. For God, by his nature, being infi- 
nitely good, it is impossible that he should not love holiness, 
and that it should not be agreeable to him in proportion as he 
sees it shining with goodness. And his powder not being less 
infinite than his goodness, it is also impossible that he should 
not do good to him who pleases him, that he should not draw 
him out of his misery, and shed his blessing upon him. Now 
the obedience that Jesus Christ rendered him in all his abase- 
ment is the work of the most exquisite and complete holiness 
that can be imagined ; in which there was seen to shine the 
greatest charity towards men, a sovereign love towards God, 
and, in a word, an altogether divine goodness similar to his 
own. Assuredly it was not then possible that, seeing in this 
humiliation of his Son so perfect an image of his holiness, he 
should not look upon it with an eye of content, embrace it with 
sovereign affection, as the most beautiful and most admirable 
thing in the world, in which he found his own good .pleasure, 
and all that he most loved ; and it was equally impossible but that 
afterwards he should extend his munificence towards a subject 
who was so perfectly agreeable to him. crowning him with 
everything that was highest and most heavenly in the treasures 
of his glory, as he found in him all that was most holy and 
most conformed to his will. He could not, without giving up 
the laws of his own goodness and beneficence, and without, in 
some degree, denying himself, leave such perfect holiness, I 
will not say, in misery or in meanness, but even in the rank of 
the happiest of created beings. As the obedience of the Son 
was above all the holiness of earth or heaven, so also must his 
recompence be above all their glory. This is enough, in my 
opinion, my brethren, to show us how the Father has exalted 
Jesus Christ because of his humiliation. It is not necessary to 
carry the inquiry further, and to dispute with some whether 
the Lord deserved the glory to which he is exalted. This 
question is one of the fruits of the boldness and curiosity of 
the human mind, on which we should wish rather to be silent 
than to speak, if it were not that the adversaries of our com- 
munion force us to act otherwise ; not contenting themselves 
with positively declaring that Jesus Christ by his sufferings 
merited that glory for himself which he enjoys, but they pre- 
tend further to conclude from thence, that believers also merit 
that blessed immortality which God will give them one day in 
heaven ; by these means rendering his merit either less neces- 
sary or less useful and efficacious to us. To stop, then, so un- 
just and dangerous a pretence, I will first say, that what they 
take for granted, that Jesus Christ merited for himself that 
glory to which he has been exalted, cannot be proved by scrip- 
ture, in which all the merit of the abasement of the Lord is 
constantly referred to the salvation of the church, and to the 


redemption of the world, and that we are no where told that 
in obeying of the Father he has merited for himself the sover- 
eign and infinite dignity which he now enjoys. He did not 
need this title to acquire it. He possessed it as the well-be- 
loved of the Father, as the Mediator and Head of the church. 
What he has merited is the remission of our crimes, the re- 
demption of the world, and the right of our immortality, the 
true and real price of his sacrifice. And as to this passage, 
and many similar ones, what we have said will suffice to show, 
that they rightly take for granted that God had regard to the 
obedience which was rendered to him by Jesus Christ, when he 
exalted him to glory ; but we may not deduce from this that 
he merited this glory. They truly show that God has had re- 
gard to it in his goodness, and in his truth; but they do not 
prove that he had regard to it in his justice, in such a way as 
that he could not have given him less without being unjust. 
We say every day of Peter and Paul, of the good thief, of Mary 
Magdalene, and of every repentant sinner, that they have be- 
lieved and repented of their sins; and that for that reason God 
has pardoned and justified them ; and yet none conclude from 
thence that the faith or the repentance merited pardon and jus- 
tification. Those against whom we are disputing confess that 
these first graces of God are purely gratuitous, and not mer- 
ited by men. They cannot then conclude that Jesus Christ 
merited his glory from what the apostle here says, that he was 
exalted because he had been abased and obedient. I say the 
same of what the psalmist sings, " He shall drink of the brook 
by the way, therefore shall he lift up the head," Psal. ex. 7 ; 
in which he only shows the order of th'ese two parts of the 
mediation of the Lord, disposed so by the will of the Father, 
and the reason of the things themselves, that after having suf- 
fered and fought, he should afterwards triumph and reign. 
And this is precisely the meaning of the passage in Luke, 
which we have already spoken of above, where the Lord says 
"that Christ ought to have suffered, and to enter into his glory." 
And we must also take that which is declared in the Epistle to 
the Hebrews, " We see Jesus crowned with glory and honour 
by reason of his suffering and death," in the same way as this 
text of the apostle, if we must thus read the passage, and not 
rather as it has been more flowingly translated in our Bibles, 
and certainly much more clearly ; " We see Jesus crowned 
with glory and honour, him who was made for a little time 
lower than the angels, by suffering and death." Thus the 
scripture not defining this question, it ought either not 
to be agitated at all, (perhaps the better course,) or to be 
argued soberly and modestly, without offending any one in a 
thing so obscure. But I say, in the second place, that even if 
it were plain and certain by the scripture that Jesus Christ 


could have merited for himself, it would, from thence, by no 
means follow that each believer could merit for himself, there 
being too great and evident a difference between the obedience 
of Christ and that of believers to argue from one to the other. 
For, in the first place, his is complete in all points ; whereas 
ours is soiled with many defects : and, secondly, his was such, 
that by right and nature he was not obliged to humble himself 
as he did ; whereas we are obliged by every kind of right to 
the things which we do and suffer. He could, without rob- 
bery, have remained in the form of God ; and we could not, 
without injustice, retain the glory and the vanity which hu- 
mility takes from us ; whereby it is evident that his- obedience 
might have been meritorious for him, whilst ours could never 
have been so for us. 

But let us return to our subject; and having already con- 
sidered the consequence and the union which is between the 
exaltation of the Lord and his preceding humiliation, let us 
now see what this exaltation was, and in what it consists. The 
apostle explains it to us in two ways ; saying, in the first place, 
that God had highly elevated Jesus Christ ; and adding, in the 
second, that he had " given him a name which is above every 
name." If you have clearly understood how the Lord abased 
himself, and made himself of no reputation, you will easily con- 
ceive how he has been exalted. For being God and man in 
one person, it is clear that as divinity is immutable and abso- 
lutely incapable of, any alteration and change, he was neither 
abased nor exalted as regards the substance or the properties 
of that divine nature, which always remained the same within 
him. But although in saying that he made himself of no repu- 
tation, we mean, (as was explained to you in the preceding 
text,) in the first place, that he clothed himself with feeble 
flesh, in which he endured all sorts of indignities, meannesses, 
shame, and grief; and secondly, that although his divinity 
truly dwelt in his flesh, yet it concealed the brightness of it, 
allowing neither its presence nor its light to appear: so now 
must we understand the opposite, that the apostle, in saying 
he was exalted, means, first, that his human nature was really 
and truly drawn from the meanness, sufferings, and indigni- 
ties in which it had been plunged, and placed at the same time 
in a high and glorious state ; and secondly, that his divinity 
has caused this sacred vessel to shine and glitter everywhere 
with the rays of his glory, which formerly the veil of infirmity 
had restrained and hidden. This word comprehends all the 
parts of that change which occurred to Jesus Christ after he had 
finished the work of our redemption. And first his holy and 
miraculous resurrection, when his body, lying in the sepulchre, 
not only took again life, but immortality, and instead of this 
feeble and mortal being which he had yielded up upon the 


cross, clothed himself with one that was glorious and incapable 
of suffering ; being by these means exalted not only above the 
nature of sinful men, in the likeness of whom he had appeared, 
but also above that of Adam in Paradise: for however beau- 
tiful and excellent was the nature of our first parent, neverthe- 
less that nature was still animal, and supported by the fruits 
of the earth ; whereas that new nature which Jesus Christ took 
is heavenly and spiritual, having life in itself, and subsisting 
in the same manner as spirits, without any longer having need 
of the earth or of its fruits ; perfectly holy, glorious, and bril- 
liant. As the Father clothed the nature of Jesus Christ with 
heavenly qualities, so also he exalted him above the earth, from 
these lower regions, the abode of perishable and corruptible 
things, into a place worthy of his new condition, when forty 
days after his resurrection, seated on a cloud, that is to say, on 
the chariot of God, as the prophet calls it, and surrounded by 
angels, he was carried up into heaven, the sanctuary of im- 
mortality, and lifted above all those visible orbits in which the 
sun, the moon, and the other stars revolve, into the heaven of 
heavens, the true firmament, the highest and most august place 
in the universe, which is represented to us in scripture as the 
palace of God, his seat and eternal throne. There he crowned 
him with sovereign glory, and seated him on the right hand of 
his majesty, to live from thenceforward in a condition as highly 
exalted above the honour and happiness of all creatures visible 
and invisible, as the place where he is seated is exalted above 
the centre of the world. This is what the apostle means when 
he says that God has highly exalted our Lord Jesus Christ, 
signifying by this word the exaltation both of his dwelling 
and his condition above all things, which comprehends his re- 
surrection, his ascension, and his seat at the right hand of the 

And the second description which he gives of the glorifica- 
tion of our Lord, adding that " God has given him a name 
which is above every name," relates to the same. It is won- 
derful that the greater part of commentators find a difficulty in 
so plain a word. For some understand this name given to the 
Lord of the name of Jesus, as if he had only had that in con- 
sequence of his humiliation, and as if he had not borne it from 
his infancy, and during all the days of his flesh. Others make 
it relate to the name of " Son of God,", and I acknowledge that 
the resurrection of the Lord brought this very quality into 
clearness ; from whence the apostle says at the beginning of 
the Epistle to the Eomans, i. 4, that he was openly declared to 
be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead ; and 
elsewhere, Acts xiii. 13, he particularly applies to this period 
the passage in the second Psalm, "Thou art my Son, to-day 
have I begotten thee," because it was then principally that it 


appeared that Jesus was the Son of God. But if the infirmity 
of his flesh prevented the generality of men from acknowledg- 
ing this quality before his resurrection, it cannot be denied 
that the Father had given him this name a long time before, 
when he had called from heaven "that he was his beloved Son, 
in whom he was well pleased," Matt. xvii. 5, and commanded 
us thenceforth to hear him. Who does not see that the holy 
apostle does not here mean words and syllables ; but that, by 
a method of speaking common to all languages, and particu- 
larly to that of the scriptures, by the name he means dignity, 
quality, and glory ? It is also clear that the use of names and 
titles is to explain the quality of persons. It is manifestly thus 
that the apostle uses it in Eph. i. 20, 21, in a passage where he 
is treating the same subject, saying, God has made " Jesus Christ 
sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all prin- 
cipality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name 
that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is 
to come ;" where you see he places the principalities, powers, 
might, and dominion in the rank of the names above which 
Jesus Christ was exalted. Now it is clear and certain, by many 
other passages, that the "principalities, powers, might, and do- 
minion " are the different orders of the holy angels, according 
to the different degrees either of the glory or of the ministries 
with which the Lord hath honoured them; so that these other 
names which he adds are also in like manner the other digni- 
ties established by God, whether in this present world, or in 
that for which we are looking; in which there will be incom- 
parably higher than in this, because sin, which has tarnished 
this world, having no place in the other, the goodness of God 
will be communicated then to his creatures much more freely 
and fully, and in a more illustrious manner, than it now is. 
"When the apostle then says "that God has given Jesus Christ 
a name which is above every name," he simply means that he 
has established him in a dignity which surpasses the glory of 
all creatures, high, low, present, and future ; and that of so 
many illustrious and venerable names by which the grandeur 
is expressed of things elevated into some dignity, whether in 
earth or in heaven, there is not one that can represent to us 
that which the Father has given to Jesus Christ, in conse- 
quence of his obedience. The names of princes, kings, mon- 
archs, with those of «cherubim and seraphim, thrones and 
powers, are all infinitely below his. His is an entirely new 
name, which has never been borne by man or angel. There is 
nothing in the universe equal or comparable to his glory. 

For, no longer to keep you in suspense, this dignity, my 
brethren, that Christ received at his entrance into heaven, after 
his sufferings and conflicts, is the dignity, the glory, and the 
authority of God himself. It is his quality, his state, his em- 


pire. It is the office of Head of the church, and sovereign 
Judge of the universe, titles which belong to God only, and 
can be ascribed to no one else. Our Lord also had the same 
meaning, when he said to the apostles after his resurrection, 
" All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye. 
and make disciples of all nations, and, lo, I am with you, even 
to the end of the world." Again, it is what Peter meant in 
his first exhortation to the Jews, when he said to them that 
" God had made," that is to say, ordered and established, " this 
Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." It is 
the name which was then given him, above every name, to be 
"the Christ," "the Lord." 

And it is this that Paul explains again in another way, 
speaking to the Athenians, and saying "that God had appointed 
him the Judge of the whole world." All these expressions 
have the same meaning as that which the church has drawn 
from the scripture, and which she usually employs to signify 
this mystery, saying that Jesus was " seated on the right hand 
of God." But you will say to me, that as the Lord Jesus is 
the true and eternal God, blessed for ever with the Father, had 
he not this dignity and glory before and during his humilia- 
tion ? If he had it not, how was he God ? If otherwise, how 
can it be said that the Father gave it him after his resurrection 
only ? Dear brethren, I reply, that Jesus Christ was in truth 
the Almighty God, and the Lord of glory, before his humilia- 
tion. These qualities were his before all time, as he possesses 
them by his nature, having received them from the Father, by 
his eternal and incomprehensible generation. Here, however, 
the question is not that of his original and essential dignity, 
or even of his divinity, but that of his office ; of that which 
he had being Mediator, not of that which he possessed as being 
Son of God simply ; of that power which the Father has given 
him as being Son of man, as he himself says in John, because 
he is the Christ and the Mediator of the church. And this 
power is nothing else than the right and authority to save the 
world, to found the church, and to preserve it against the gates 
of hell, to raise up and judge the human race, and to establish 
afterwards a second universe, where righteousness and immor- 
tality should dwell for ever. Jesus was only invested with this 
great and magnificent right after having completed the work 
of his humiliation; and if from time tottime he has performed 
some of its functions, it has only been by dispensation, and in 
virtue of the faith that he had pledged, to satisfy exactly all 
the required conditions for being installed into this great and 
divine office of expiating the sins of the world, by a perfect 
sacrifice, and to support all the trials by which he should be 
tempted. This is the reason why he did not till then bear in 
his flesh the ensigns of this glorious dignity. He only took 


them at his resurrection, which was as it were the day of his 
consecration and of his coronation. Truly do I confess, that 
to execute the authority that he then received, an infinite wis- 
dom and power is necessary ; and had he not already had such, 
God, who never gives the title without the qualification, nor 
an office without a capacity for it, would doubtless have com- 
municated it to him. But being the Almighty God, there was 
no need in this respect, but to deliver to him the name and 
right, with which being provided, he displayed in the sight of 
men and angels this power of his divinity, which till then, as 
it were, had been hidden under the veil of the infirmities 
which were necessary for our salvation. And as to his human 
nature, which, that he might obtain it, had been clothed at his 
conception with the form and weakness of our poor flesh, God 
then (as we have before said) filled it with glory, and gave it 
all the excellence of which it was susceptible, while dwelling 
within the limits of its true being. I add this expressly to 
exclude the vain imaginations of those who, under pretence 
of glorifying the flesh of 'the Lord, would destroy and anni- 
hilate it, declaring that by the resurrection it received the in- 
communicable properties of divinity, that is to say, omnipre- 
sence and such like. 

II. But it is now time to come to the second and last part 
of this text, in which the apostle describes the rights and pri- 
vileges of this sovereign name which the Son of God received; 
" that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things 
in heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth ; 
and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is 
Lord, to the glory of God the Father." He lays before us 
two rights which the dignity of the Lord has legitimately ac- 
quired for him : the first is the adoration of his name ; and the 
second the confession and acknowledgment of his dignity. To 
every dignity established by God in the world an honour is 
due, proportioned to their respective excellence. As then the 
Father has exalted Jesus Christ to a sovereign and truly divine 
dignity, it is evident that we owe him a supreme honour, and that 
species of worship properly due to the Deity, which we usu- 
ally call adoration. And the Lord has taught us this him- 
self: " The Father has committed all judgment to the Son, that 
all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Fa- 
ther," John v. 22, 23. And this duty is now so necessary 
since the manifestation J bf Christ, that he adds, " He who hon- 
oureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father who hath sent 
him." It is precisely this kind of honour that the apostle 
here means in saying " that every knee should bow at the name 
of Jesus," as appears from the passage in Isaiah, from whence 
he quoted this sentence. For it is the God adored by ancient 
Israel who spoke in these words, "I have sworn by myself, 


the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall 
not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue 
shall swear," Isa. xlv. 23. The apostle refers this saying to 
Jesus Christ here and in Rom. xiv., an evident proof that the 
Son is the true and eternal God who spoke by the ancient pro- 
phets, and that the same honour and the same adoration which 
were formerly paid to the Father by the Israelites also belong 
to the Son. I confess that to bow the knee is only the sign, 
the outward and bodily symbol of that adoration, which 
really consists in submission, and in the affections of the mind. 
But these words are commonly used here and elsewhere for 
the adoration itself; it being clear that the heavenly things, 
that is to say, the angels, which the apostle enumerates among 
those who render this honour to Jesus Christ, have properly 
speaking no knee. And from this form of expression we may 
gather that, to yield to God and to his Christ the honour that 
is due, we must honour them not only with the heart, but also 
with that exterior inclination of our body, which you know, 
that when the Lord distinguishes his true servants from idola- 
ters, he expressly attributes this mark to them, that they had 
not bowed their knees to Baal. Such then is the honour due 
to Jesus Christ the Mediator, namely, supreme adoration and 
divine worship. 

As to those who owe him this, the apostle describes them to 
us in these words, " the things that are in heaven, and in the 
earth, and under the earth ;" by which you perceive he includes 
all the creatures in the world, of whatever quality or condi- 
tion they may be, who are endowed with reason, and capable 
of knowing and serving God. It is a very usual method in 
Scripture to divide them into three orders, the heavenly, the 
earthly, and those that are under the earth ; as at the begin- 
ning of the law, where God, forbidding to worship any image 
of any sort, says, " Thou shalt not make to thyself any like- 
ness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the 
earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth," Exod. 
xx. 4. And in Rev. v. 3, "And no man in heaven, or in 
earth, or under the earth, was able to open the book, neither 
to look thereon." And in verse 13, where the subject still is 
of glorifying God and his Son, "I heard every creature which 
is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such 
as are in the sea, and all that are in them, saying, Blessing, and 
honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon 
the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." Now, in 
my opinion, the words of Paul may be taken in two ways, 
both good and appropriate : first, by understanding them gene- 
rally of all things, animate and inanimate, seen or unseen ; and 
by interpreting them thus, that every knee should bow at the 
name of Jesus, of the things that are in heaven, and in the 


earth, and under the earth ; to signify that there is no creature 
in the whole circumference of the universe which is not sub- 
ject to him, which does not submit to his will, and yield him 
the same obedience as to God, according to what he said, " All 
power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." For we must 
not consider it strange that the words "bow the knee " may be 
applied to inanimate things, to signify the subjection and 
obedience which they yield to the Lord, moving or resting, 
acting or ceasing to act, according to the laws of his will ; as 
there is nothing more usual than in the Psalms and other parts 
of scripture to speak thus, where the actions and qualities of 
living and reasonable beings are attributed to such things as 
are inanimate ; and it is in truth a very elegant and beautiful 
figure. Thus John, in that part of the Kevelation which we 
have just quoted, makes every living thing praise and glorify 
the Lord. Secondly, the words of the apostle may also be re- 
stricted to persons endowed with reason, and capable of serving 
God ; and it is in this sense that our Bibles have taken them 
in the translation, "that every knee should bow, of those which 
are in heaven," and not of the things which are in heaven. Un- 
derstanding them thus, it may be asked who those are whom 
the apostle means. Is it not we, who, being on the earth, ought 
to bow the knee to the Lord? Our adversaries of Rome, who 
never dare to speak of places under the earth without thinking 
of their purgatory, do not fail to make this passage relate to 
it, wishing that by " those who are under the earth " we should 
understand those pretended spirits which they keep in prison 
till they are purified. But nothing can force us to come to that 
interpretation. For who will here prevent our understanding, 
with some of the ancient fathers, by those who are in heaven, 
all the angels generally ; by those who are on the earth, living 
men ; and by those who are under the earth, the dead ? (Theo- 
doret.) Or, with others, to take those who are in the heavens 
for the good angels and just men made perfect, those who are 
on earth for men, and those who are under the earth for the 
devils ? As to the dead, it is evident that they will also 
bow the knee at the name of Jesus, and will one day appear 
before his throne to be judged. And as to devils, however 
opposed their wills may be to it, still they render homage 
and obedience to the Son of God, and tremble at his word. 
But perhaps it would be most suitable to explain this text by 
the first method, where this pretended difficulty has no place. 
For the remainder, it is clear enough, from what we have said 
before, that by the name of Jesus the apostle means his ma- 
jesty, and his person invested with the glory and sovereign 
dignity that the Father gave him ; as it is usual in scripture 
to use the name of God in that sense in many places where it 
says, " Bless and praise the name of God ;" and it is a childish 


error to make it relate precisely to the word Jesus itself, as our 
adversaries understand it, who are accustomed to uncover 
themselves every time they pronounce the name of Jesus. In 
the first place, we must pay attention to the words of the apos- 
tle, who says, " bow the knee," and not, uncover yourself. 
Besides, if it be the words, the sound and the syllables, that 
they venerate, it is an inexcusable superstition. If it be the 
person signified by this name, then why do they not uncover 
themselves in the same way when they hear the name of Christ, 
of God, of our Lord, which mean the same thing? Assuredly 
we can neither think nor speak of the Lord Jesus with too 
much reverence, and God forbid that we should blaspheme 
any of the true honours that are paid to him. We only re- 
prove superstition and will-worship, which the Lord neither 
ordered nor expected from his servants. The true honour 
that we owe him is to adore him and to serve him, to obey him 
and glorify him in spirit and in truth. 

To this the second homage relates, which the apostle adds, 
saying, "And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord." 
These words may be understood either generally, of the 
confession of all reasonable creatures, who ought to acknow- 
ledge him for their sovereign Lord; (for the angels also have 
their tongues and their language, that is to say, their manner 
of expressing the thoughts of their minds, and of communi- 
cating them, and being understood by one another ;) or at any 
rate to restrict these words to the human race, as saying that 
there is neither people nor nation upon earth that ought not 
to serve the Lord Jesus, and acknowledge him for what he is, 
the Christ of God, the Lord and Eedeemer of men. Since the 
division of languages, the nations have (as you know) been dis- 
tinguished by their language, each people having its own pe- 
culiar dialect, and not understood by others. To confess that 
Jesus is the Lord, is to recognize the divine and sovereign 
dignity in which the Father has placed him. This is what the 
name " Lord" signifies, and we must even remark that it is 
precisely the word that the Greeks have used to express the 
peculiar and incommunicable name of God, that is to say, 
" the Eternal," as our Bibles have well translated it. And 
from this we may gather two things : the first, that Jesus 
Christ is the true God, the Eternal, the Creator and Preserver of 
the world ; and that those are unworthy to be called christians 
who do not serve him in this quality. The other is, that it is 
not enough to believe that he is the Lord; we must also con- 
fess it with the tongue, and make an open profession of it be- 
fore men ; according to what the apostle declares, Rom. x. 9, 
10, " If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, 
and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from 
the dead, thou shalt be saved ; for with the heart man be- 


lieveth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is 
made unto salvation." 

The apostle finally adds, that this subjection of all creatures 
to Jesus Christ, and the confession that they make of his grau- 
deur and dignity, " is to the glory of God." Undoubtedly all 
the works of God manifest his glory to us ; but there is no 
one which so magnificently proclaims it as the redemption of 
Jesus Christ. This is the reason he avows, " I have glorified 
thee upon earth." His other works show us but the smallest 
part of his glory. The Lord Jesus has discovered to us the high- 
est and most divine mysteries ; showing us that his goodness, 
his power, his justice, his mercy, and his wisdom, are infinitely 
greater than men or angels could ever have conceived ; so that 
it is not possible to see and believe what Jesus has revealed to 
us without being wrapped in admiration, without blessing and 
glorifying him as a God, most perfectly and most supremely 
good, wise, and powerful. Or should it appear that the apos- 
tle simply speaks in this text of the subjection and honour 
which all creatures owe to Jesus Christ, and not of that which 
they really yield him, still it is his intention to include this 
point, also, and to place before our eyes, not only the end, but 
also the effect and the event of this gift which the Father has 
made to the Son of his sovereign dignity ; that is to say, that 
this great name which he has given him shall cause him to be 
obeyed and acknowledged in all the world, and shall finally 
draw from all his subjects that adoration and service which 
they owe him. This, indeed, commenced from the time of the 
apostle, the sceptre of this divine and crucified Saviour having 
so prospered in the hands of his ministers, that his name was 
already great from east to west ; and since then it has pros- 
pered more and more, ruining the dominion of Satan, abolish- 
ing error and the false religions of mankind, putting down 
idolatry, confounding the demons, and finally, constraining all 
the habitable world to bow beneath his yoke, to adore his cross, 
and to confess, in all the variety of its languages, that this 
Jesus, manifested in the flesh, received and treated with so 
much ignominy and opprobrium upon earth, the stumbling- 
block of the Jew, the scorn of the Gentile, is, nevertheless, in 
reality the Lord, the true and eternal God, the Son and the 
Christ of the Father, the King of the universe, the Father of 
eternity. This work continues still by the grace of the Lord, 
and shall continue to the end of time; and then it will be en- 
tirely fulfilled. Hence the apostle, in the 14th chapter of his 
Epistle to the Eomans, makes this prophecy of Isaiah relate 
to the last judgment, that every knee should bow to the Lord, 
and that every tongue should give him praise. For in this 
great and illustrious day, the heavens, the earth, and the deep, 
all things terrestrial, celestial, and below the earth, shall submit 


to the power of Jesus, and every one yield him that homage 
of which he is capable. The heavens and the elements shall 
be changed at his word. The deep shall yield up the dead 
that have been concealed in its caverns. Angels shall encom- 
pass his throne with profound respect ; men, both dead and 
living, shall all appear before his tribunal, and after having 
worshipped him and confessed that he is Lord, shall receive 
from his mouth the sentence either of life or death. 

Such are the rights and effects of this great name, which the 
Father has given to the Son as the price of his obedience. 
Let us yield ourselves then, dear brethren, in good time to his 
power. Let us kiss the Son, whom God has given to be our 
Lord and Master. Let us adore his name ; let us bow our 
knees and our hearts before him. Let us confess that he is 
Lord. Let us believe it in our heart, and proclaim with our 
mouth ; and if we acknowledge him in this dignity, let us 
yield him a faithful and constant obedience. May his will be 
the only rule, and his glory the sole desire, of our lives. 
Let us leave other men to run after the foolish and perishable 
objects of their desires, some worshipping one thing,' and some 
another, according to their vain imaginations. As for us, my 
brethren, may the name of Jesus be our portion ; may it be 
our fear and our dread. Let us have no desire in our minds 
which does not bow in reverence to him, no interest in our 
lives which does not yield to his glory. Far from us be the 
extravagance of those who are ashamed of Jesus Christ and 
of his gospel. O wretch, are you ashamed of a name which 
is above every name ? Are you ashamed of a name which all 
the universe adores, and before which the devils and hell trem- 
ble ? On the contrary, let us make it our greatest glory. May 
the profession of this name be our dress and our ornament. 
Let the marks of it be engraven on every part of our life ; let 
us make our children, and all those who are most dear to us, 
wear its livery. Under the protection and safeguard of this 
name we have nothing to fear. Earth and hell fear it ; and 
there is no name, quality, or dignity which is not under it. 
The kings and monarchs of the world, their ministers, their 
people, their armies, and their states, their laws, their wills, 
and their desires, depend on our Jesus, and are in his keeping. 
The devils are in his chains, and cannot take a step without 
his permission. Christians, of what are you afraid, since you 
have the honour to belong to so powerful a Master ? It would 
be too unfeeling if you were to doubt his love after so many 
testimonies of it as he has given you. Live, then, securely 
under his holy hand, and have no other fear than that of dis- 
pleasing him. And as the apostle informs you that it is through 
humility that he is exalted into this great glory, follow his 
footsteps, and humble yourselves as he did, renouncing your 


own interests whenever the will of God, and the good of your 
neighbours, shall require it. For humility is the true road 
to glory, and pride is that of shame ; and there is no shorter 
way of being exalted than to humble yourself, nor of being 
abased than to exalt yourself. If we will humble ourselves 
with the Lord, the Father will exalt us with him. This abound- 
ing glory has also been given him for our sakes, and he will 
keep it faithfully for us, crowning us with it in that day when, 
having finished our course and the work of our humiliation, 
he will transport us into his heavenly kingdom, there to 
dwell and reign for ever with him and his holy angels. Amen. 
Preached at Charenton, Sunday, 2nd Dec, 1640. 


VERSE 12. 

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my 
presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out 
your own salvation with/ear and trembling. 

Dear brethren, as you see in the world that neither trees 
nor animals attain at once to their highest point of excellence, 
but arrive at it little by little, by different stages, as by so 
many degrees, advancing and growing with time until they 
have acquired the entire and legitimate form of their being; so 
is it with believers in the church, God, the author of nature 
and of grace, having in his infinite wisdom established a simi- 
lar order for the perfection of these two kinds of things. From 
the gospel, which he sheds in our hearts as the seed of our re- 
generation, he first brings out a heavenly and spiritual creature 
indeed, but nevertheless, still rough and unpolished. And 
then by the power of his Spirit, with which he quickens it, he 
strips it by degrees of the weaknesses of infancy, supplying each 
part with its needful strength, and enlarging them into their 
legitimate size; confirming its temperature, improving its 
judgment, illuminating its faith, warming its charity, harden- 
ing its patience, assuring its hope ; until, having passed through 
all the variety of its stages, the believer shall finally arrive at 
the measure of the perfect stature which is in Jesus Christ. 
This arrangement of the Lord in the work of our salvation is 
the groundwork of the exhortation formerly made by the apos- 
tle Paul to the Philippians, and which he addresses to us to- 
day in the verse that we have just read, " to work out our own 


salvation with fear and trembling." When the tree is once 
planted, nature, without stopping, labours incessantly at that 
perfection which she has commenced, spurring and hastening 
it on, until she has clothed it with leaves, and crowned it with 
flowers and fruits, and ornamented it with all the beauty be- 
longing to its kind : she does the same also in every animal ; 
when once they are born into the world, without losing a mo- 
ment of time, she employs herself in forming, and polishing, 
and completing their being. In the same way, my brethren, 
it is very reasonable, that having received from the Lord the 
commencements of spiritual life, and as it were the rudiments 
of that divine nature of which he has made us partakers, we 
should not stop there, but should employ ourselves night and 
day in perfecting so excellent a work, improving every moment 
of our time to this purpose, and incessantly adding some new 
trait of beauty to what we before possessed ; until we are truly 
divine and heavenly men, fellow citizens with the saints, like 
unto the angels, brethren and heirs with Christ, and the first- 
fruits of all his creatures. This is what the apostle here asks 
from the Philippians, as well as from all other believers. And, 
that we may correctly understand the sense of these words, we 
will examine them briefly, if it please the Lord, as there is not 
one which is not to he noted. And, for your comfort we will 
divide this examination into two articles, of which the first 
shall be the preface which the apostle makes use of before 
bringing forward his exhortation, in these words, " Wherefore, 
my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence 
only, but now much more in my absence ;" the second shall be 
the exhortation itself of the apostle, in these words, " Work 
out your own salvation with fear and trembling." 

I. The whole preface is full of motives and reasons for in- 
ducing the Philippians to do what he exhorts them. The first 
word, " Wherefore," which unites this verse with the preceding 
ones, brings before our eyes what the apostle had just said to us 
of the humiliation and exaltation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
deducing from thence that we ought to conduct ourselves, in 
the work of our salvation, with the same humility, patience, 
and constancy of which he gave us the example in the days of 
his flesh, and aspire to the fellowship of his glory by the fel- 
lowship of his holiness. This discourse contains two parts ; 
of which the apostle explains the one, and takes the other for 
granted. What he takes for granted is, that Jesus Christ is the 
pattern of our life ; and that in virtue of the union which con- 
joins us with him, the likeness of his whole conduct ought to 
shine forth in us, in such a way that each of us may be like a 
portrait, a living and animated representation of this sovereign 
Lord. He is our Boot and our Vine, and the arms and the 
branches have the same life and being as the trunk which bears 


them. He is our Master and our Head ; in every society he 
who is such ought to be the mould and pattern of the manners 
of his subjects. He is our Father, and it is the glory of a child 
to resemble him who brought him into the world. From 
whence we derive this right, which is very beneficial to us, to 
be able (as the apostle here does) to argue from the Lord to 
ourselves, and to say, not only for the duties, but also for the 
conditions and circumstances of life, The Lord Jesus was obe- 
dient, humble, and patient; he was gentle and kind; he par- 
doned his enemies ; he endured their insults and their abuse 
without returning them : we then must do the same. And be- 
sides, he was aided, blessed, and comforted in all his sorrows, 
and was waited on by angels ; he was crowned with the high- 
est glory after his conflicts. Assuredly then God will treat us 
in the same way, whatever the world and hell may do against 
our salvation. The other point which the apostle has express- 
ly touched upon in the preceding text is, that the Son of God 
humbled himself and took the form of a servant, and was obe- 
dient even unto the death of the cross ; pointing out to us in 
these words the constancy of the Lord in the execution of the 
work which the Father had given him to do. He never stopped 
in so difficult a career, but ran even unto the end, perse- 
vering in humble obedience, however fearful were the tempta- 
tions with which he was surrounded ; teaching, instructing, re- 
buking, exhorting, and calling men to salvation by his words, 
his knowledge, and the miracles of his life ; enduring the in- 
sults of the Jews ; bearing their malice ; and omitting nothing, 
however painful or unworthy, until all was fulfilled ; as he him- 
self exclaimed at the end of his course. Undoubtedly, as we are 
called to form our lives after his example, (as the apostle sets 
forth, and we have shown you,) it is then evident that we all 
ought to employ ourselves in our salvation with fear and trem- 
bling, that is to say, (as we afterwards hear,) work with deep 
humility, and a firm, unwearied perseverance, to fulfil the work 
of grace that God has condescended to begin in us. 

The love which the apostle here testifies to the Philippians, 
calling them his " beloved," is a second motive to induce them 
to receive his exhortation with respect, and to obey it with care. 
It was not a stranger who spoke to them, or a person to whom 
they were indifferent. It was a master, or, to speak more pro- 
perly, a father, who burned with love for them ; who had more 
anxiety for their welfare than ever any father had for the in- 
terest of his children. He had begotten them by the gospel, 
and, to maintain the work of God in them, had cheerfully suf- 
fered grievous persecutions ; and even now in the midst of his 
captivity, although his own troubles seemed to excuse his 
thinking of them, yet so great was the desire he felt for their 
salvation, that he thought of them night and day; and his 


bonds could not prevent his writing this Epistle to them full 
of testimonies of his affection. He describes it all in this little 
word, calling them his " well-beloved." As if he had said, If you 
have any regard to the consolation of a man who always loves 
you and cares for you ; if you still remember my care, the sor- 
rows through which I have passed, and the blood I have shed 
for you ; beloved, finish what I have begun. May my absence 
neither change nor diminish anything in this great work which 
my presence began and carried on among you. This gentle 
manner, employed here and elsewhere by the apostle, should 
serve as a lesson to ministers of the gospel, to teach them, in 
the first place, to have such a cordial affection for their flocks, 
that they may in truth call them their dear and well-beloved 
brethren ; and secondly, to banish from their teaching that 
harshness and severity, more suitable to tyrants and barbarians, 
than to the servants of Jesus Christ, the Prince of peace, the 
Master of humility, the Pattern of kindness. He desires, I ac- 
knowledge, that we should draw and attach his disciples ; but 
with the chains of love and the cords of humanity, which 
to be gentle and agreeable do not cease to be strong, and force 
minds without wounding them. 

ït is to the same method we must apply the testimony that 
the apostle here bears to the Philippians, saying, in the third 
place, that they had always been obedient. For there is no- 
thing which so easily enters into our hearts as praise ; and 
every one being naturally desirous to obtain it, a stronger mo- 
tive cannot be applied, nor one which penetrates with more 
gentleness and efficacy. And do not imagine that this was 
flattery, like the flatteries with which the children of this world 
gratify one another, rather through civility than truth. Such 
vanity had no place in so holy a mouth as that of the apostle. 
He praises them because they were indeed praiseworthy, and 
had yielded to the gospel of the Lord, and to the preaching of 
his ministers, that obedience of which he here speaks. For, in 
the first place, they had received the word of God with faith, 
and embraced the yoke of Christ as the only way of salvation. 
And not satisfied with that good beginning, they had continued 
in that profession, living holily and courageously in it, not- 
withstanding the afflictions it had drawn both upon their mas- 
ter and themselves. This is the reason why he does not 
simply say that they have obeyed, but that they have always obeyed, 
that is to say, constantly, from the time of the apostle's entry 
among them, without in any way relaxing in their zeal. For 
the rest, this obedience must be understood not of the severity 
of the law, as if these believers had never sinned in any par- 
ticular of their duty since their conversion to the Lord, for 
our life, while we bear this mortal flesh, is not capable of such 
perfection ; but according to the kindness and justice of the 


gospel, meaning that they had continued firm in the profession 
of godliness, and in a studious, serious, and sincere practice 
of charity, and of all the other virtues which it commands ; 
"obeying from the heart," as the apostle elsewhere says, that is 
to say, in truth, with zeal, and without hypocrisy, " that form 
of doctrine which had been intrusted to them." And from 
hence it appears, contrary to the harshness of some morose 
minds, that we may and ought to praise the piety of believers, 
and to celebrate with honour the obedience they yield to God. 
1 confess, that as regards the Lord, their virtue deserves nothing, 
and that in fulfilling their duties they have done nothing for him, 
but for themselves alone, as the psalmist sings in Psal. xvi. 2, 3, 
"My goodness is nothing to thee, but to the saints that dwell 
upon the earth." But this does not prevent us on our side from 
being obliged to acknowledge it, and to praise its excellence ; 
and that as the Lord, through the abundance of his goodness, 
will one day crown them in the heavens with his blessedness 
and glory, we ought here below to adorn them with our praises, 
that we may recommend them to men, and thereby show the 
consideration in which we hold them. And in truth, however 
little we may consider them, we shall find them very deserving 
of our admiration. For, not to wander from my subject, was 
it not in the Philippians a virtue to be admired, and truly 
worthy of being celebrated by the pen of the apostle, that they 
had at that time, amidst the confusions of paganism, acknow- 
ledged the truth of God, renounced the idolatry, religion, and 
manners of their fathers and of their country, to embrace the 
name and yoke of Jesus Christ ; to have had the courage to 
persevere in it, and to render that constant obedience to the 
Crucified which he expected from them, notwithstanding the 
shame of his cross, the threats and punishments of their ene- 
mies, and the inclinations of their own flesh ? Certainly if 
there ever has been anything praiseworthy among men, it must 
be confessed to be this obedience. Thus you see, that besides 
the example of the apostle, the reason of the things themselves 
obliges us to praise believers. But in doing so we must ob- 
serve these two conditions : the first, that the praise we give 
them be founded in reason and truth ; that is to say, that we 
neither praise them, nor the things they possess, if they be not 
praiseworthy ; nor for those that are praiseworthy, if they have 
them not. For to do otherwise, instead of rendering them a 
good service, would be to do them a very ill one ; serving as 
pillows of security to lull them to sleep in their vices. From 
this it appears (I would remark in passing) how false and per- 
nicious is the praise that the Romanists usually give to the 
obedience of their devotees, Avho receive from their hands, 
with closed eyes, all that they present to them under the name 
of apostolic tradition, stifling the light of their own sense and 


reason to place themselves under the yoke of these people. I 
acknowledge that in religion obedience is needful and praise* 
worthy ; but it must be that which we render to God and his 
institutions, such as was that of the Philippians here celebrated 
by the apostle, and in general that of all the Lord's sheep, who 
follow his voice, and are obedient to the instructions of their 
Pastor, who hear his word and believe it. But not to discern 
the word of men from his, and to take as doctrine all that is 
offered to us under that name, without examination, without 
comparing it with the canonical scriptures, as did formerly 
those of Berea, whose diligence is praised in the Acts, certainly 
is rather stupidity than docility ; it is to mock the truth of the 
Lord under pretence of respecting his authority ; it is to be- 
tray his salvation, instead of confirming it. But it is not 
enough that the praise be true, it ought also to be suitable, that 
is to say, .as to time and place where it may profit, as this 
which the apostle here gives to the Philippians. For what 
could he say more suitable to engage them more and more in 
godliness, which is his only design in this text, than to allege 
the obedience which they had hitherto yielded to the gospel ? 
Who cannot see that to praise them thus for the past was to 
encourage them for the future? You are already solemnly 
pledged to perseverance, says he to them. This beautiful and 
noble obdience, which you have so constantly yielded to Jesus 
Christ from the first period of your conversion, is a warrant 
for your fidelity to us, and to yourselves an obligation to con- 
tinue in it to the end. Henceforth you can neither turn from 
it, nor even look back, without covering yourselves with op- 
probrium. Continue then, in the name of God, and crown 
these good beginnings with a happy end. He urges the Bo- 
mans by a similar reason, when, to incite them to the study of 
sanctification, he alleges that salvation is nearer to them than 
when they believed, Rom. xiii. 11. In like manner, he magni- 
fies the crime of slothfulness in the Galatians, who had allowed 
themselves to be seduced by false apostles, by this considera- 
tion, that they had formerly embraced the gospel with much 
zeal and ardour: "Ye did run well; who did hinder you 
that ye should not obey the truth ? Are ye so foolish ? hav- 
ing begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh ?" 
Gal. v. 7 ; iii. 3. 

After having praised the Philippians for the obedience they 
had yielded him, the apostle adds, in the fourth place, " Not 
only as in my presence, but now much more in my absence." 
By which he warns them not to do as some, who had been re- 
tained for a time in their duty by the presence of certain per- 
sons of respectability, but who allow themselves to be led into 
debauchery as soon as they are at a distance from them. Paul 
elsewhere calls the obedience of such people " eye-service and 


men-pleasers," Eph. vi. 6. Nature itself has imprinted the sen- 
timent on our hearts, that sin is a filthy thing, and unworthy 
of us ; however strong may be our inclination, we dare not 
commit it except in secret. It fears the light, and the eyes of 
other men ; above all, of those who are holy and serious, ap- 
prehending their censure, and being ashamed of appearing in 
their presence. Hence the Stoics, one of the most famous sects 
of the ancient pagan philosophers, order their disciples to 
choose one of their most esteemed sages, as a Socrates, or a 
Cato, and to take him as a witness, and an arbiter of their 
lives, looking on him as present at all their actions, that from 
respect to him they may form their lives to honesty and jus- 
tice, and drive from them vice and debauchery. But although 
this modesty may be useful to repress the unholy actions of 
our lusts, it must be acknowledged to be a weak and feeble 
guardian of our minds, and that those who only refrain from 
evil and do not apply themselves to good are not christians. 
The true christian hates the evil and loves the good for them- 
selves. He respects the eyes of God, and not those of men ; 
so that in whatever place you may put him, were it in the 
most separate, the most solitary, and the darkest corner of the 
world, it will not induce him to be more indulgent to his pas- 
sions. This is the disposition which Paul here desires for his 
Philippians, that they should not obey only as in his presence ; 
that they should everywhere alike embrace the study of holi- 
ness, whether he were present among them or not, always re- 
membering that it is God that they serve, and not Paul ; that 
it is to this supreme Majesty, who is present at all our actions, 
that we must be acceptable, and not only to his servants. He 
also adds, that they should be much more careful now in his 
absence ; for whilst he was present he exhorted and warned 
them continually of their duty, he discovered to them the am- 
bushes of the enemy, he led thern (so to speak) by the hand, 
and rendered them a thousand kind services, of which they 
might consequently discharge themselves towards him. Now 
that his absence deprived them of such a salutary help, were 
they not therefore bound to redouble their solicitude, to be 
upon their guard with more attention than ever, and to seek 
from their own vigilance the guidance of their lives, without 
resting in any degree upon another ? — as a sick person ought 
much rather to take care of himself in the absence than in the 
presence of his physician ; and as good soldiers never give 
themselves more trouble or more attention than when the ab- 
sence of their officers leaves them entirely charged with all the 
guidance of their corps. 

II. But let us now consider what this care was which the 
apostle here demands from the Philippians, and from all other 
believers ; he explains it in the second part of our text in these 


words, " Work out your own salvation with fear and trem- 
bling." Upon which we have two points to consider : first, 
the thing itself the apostle commands, "to work out our own 
salvation ;" and secondly, the manner in which he wishes us 
to do it, " with fear and trembling." As to the first, there is 
no one in the church who does not know what the apostle 
means by "our salvation;" it is that blessed and immortal life 
which the Lord Jesus obtained for us by his death, and which 
he communicates to us by his Spirit, of which we enjoy the first- 
fruits in this world, and its perfection and fulness in the other. 
The scripture does not only call it life, but salvation, because 
God does not simply give us happiness ; he saves us first, and de- 
livers us from the evil in which we were by nature. The bless- 
ing which the law promised to those who fulfilled it is simply 
called life ; for the law delivers no one from sin, neither lifts 
man from the sorrow into which he had fallen ; but acting as 
if he were in a state of innocence, rewards the obedience which 
he shall have yielded to it with immortality ; hence that which 
it promises him is only called life, and not salvation. But in 
Jesus Christ we are first drawn from that miserable state into 
which sin had reduced us, absolved from our crimes, and freed 
from the curse, then clothed with light and peace, and holiness, 
and glory. This is why the gift of Jesus Christ is called sal- 
vation, and not simply life ; salvation, as you see, signifying 
life given, not simply to a creature, but to a miserable creature, 
such as we are by nature. The apostle then desires that we 
should apply ourselves to this salvation, to this new life which 
Jesus Christ communicates to us, by delivering us from death. 
The word Karcpya^eai, which we have translated " to apply one- 
self to," properly signifies to do, to work, to labour, and is ta- 
ken in two ways in the scripture; sometimes to express to 
polish, form, and fashion a rough and raw thing, as when a 
carpenter cuts and polishes wood, and a mason stones, which 
they desire to employ in their work ; and in this sense we may 
say that God makes us when he creates us in his Son, stripping 
us of this vile and miserable form of sinners and slaves of Sa- 
tan, in which we are born, and giving us another, holy and 
glorious, by which we become his children, precious and lively 
stones, and fit to enter into the building of his temple, from 
vile and dead stones, which we were by nature. The other, 
more common, signification of this word is, to accomplish, per- 
fect, and finish a thing already commenced, to execute it and 
guide it to its end; as when the apostle says, in Eom. vii. 18, 
that " to will is present with me, but how to perform that which 
is good I find not ;" and when he says besides, in Kom. iv., it 
" worketh wrath," because it completes in us the feeling of the 
wrath of God against sin, which without it is weak and languid, 
the light of nature alone without the law only exciting and be- 


ginning it in us. Paul in these two places uses precisely the 
same word which he has here employed, and this sense suits it 
well; "Work out your salvation ;" meaning, accomplish that 
which is begun in you; labour incessantly to complete this 
fine work, and to bring it to its perfection, and, as our Bibles 
interpret it, employ yourselves on it, that your whole occupa- 
tion may be in the things necessary to this great salvation to 
which you are called. It is in substance the same exhortation 
that Peter gives to believers, 2 Pet. i. 5, 6, where, having spoken 
of salvation, he says, " Giving all diligence, add to your faith 
virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, 
and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and 
to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness 
charity." This is what our Lord calls to " labour for that bread 
which endureth to everlasting life," John vi. 27 ; and in Matt. 
xvi. 24, to " seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness ;" 
and again in another place, to take up the cross, and to follow 
him without looking back; and in Jude 20, to build up ourselves 
on our most holy faith. It is as Paul will say to us presently, 
" I follow on, that I may apprehend. Forgetting those things 
that are behind, and reaching forth unto those which are before, 
I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of 
God in Jesus Christ," Phil. iii. 12-14. But the adversaries of 
our doctrine touching the grace of God elevate themselves in 
this place, and misuse this passage altogether ; in the first 
place, to establish free-will ; and secondly, to prove the merit 
of our works. As to the first, To what purpose (say they) 
would Paul exhort us to work out our own salvation, if we 
were not able to do so, and if we had not the necessary 
strength ? But this objection is absurd, seeing that the apos- 
tle speaks here to believers made free by the grace of Jesus 
Christ ; whereas our dispute is with men who are in a state of 
nature, in the chains of sin. For it is of those of whom we say, 
that they can neither understand the things of God, nor submit 
to his will. We readily confess that those who have received 
the Spirit from on high can embrace the things of God, yea, 
they embrace them in truth, and persevere in them to the end, 
according to the doctrine of the Lord, Every one that has heard 
and has learned of the Father cometh unto him, and remaineth 
in him, John vi. 45. We simply say, that all the strength by 
which they believe and persevere is a gift of divine grace, and 
not an effect or production of their own. And as to those who 
are still in the corruption of nature, their inability to do good 
is no reason why they may not and ought not to be exhorted, 
not to persevere, (which the apostle here demands,) but to begin, 
because it is a helplessness entirely founded in the malice of 
their hearts ; they cannot believe, because they seek the glory 
of the world, John v. 44. For we every day exhort those to 


sobriety and righteousness who have contracted so confirmed 
a habit of drunkenness and theft, that philosophy itself acknow- 
ledges that it is not possible they should abstain from these 
vices ; and yet, under that pretence, nobody accuses such as 
exhort them of absurdity, or those who punish them of injus- 

As to merit in our works, neither can our adversaries found 
that on this passage. It is true that believers work out 
their salvation ; that is to say, (as we have shown,) they labour 
at those things which belong to the kingdom of God. They 
believe ; they pray ; they watch ; they take heed to themselves ; 
they resist temptation ; they practise works of charity, right- 
eousness, and patience ; in a word, they walk in the paths of 
the Lord. It is certain that believers do these things, and it 
is still further certain that in doing them they work out or ac- 
complish their salvation ; that they progress towards the end 
of their calling; they build up themselves, as Jade teaches; 
yea, they save themselves, as the apostle says, when speaking 
to Timothy, that in doing his duty he will both save himself, 
and them that hear him, 1 Tim. iv. 16 ; that is what the apos- 
tle here says, and with that we agree. But he does not say, 
either that believers do the things by the power of their own 
free-will, and not by the virtue of the grace of God alone ; on the 
contrary, he adds in the following verse, "that God works in 
us both to will and to do of his good pleasure;" or that this 
endeavour or labour of believers merits salvation ; on the con- 
trary, he elsewhere protests that our sufferings are not to be 
compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us, and that 
the life eternal with which God will reward our race is a gift 
of his grace, and alms from his mercy. It must then be con- 
sidered as one thing to merit salvation, and another to enter 
into the possession of it. The first belongs alone to Jesus 
Christ, the second to believers. For there is no one but the 
Lord who has obtained life at the price of his blood, having 
satisfied the Father's justice by his sufferings, and obtained the 
privilege of immortality ; by reason of which he alone is called 
our Saviour ; this name, as well as that of Mediator, Redeemer, 
and Intercessor, belongs to him alone. But as to the posses- 
sion of the salvation acquired by him, it belongs to all those 
who believe in his word. It is very true that even in this re- 
spect it is the Lord who does the business. For being as in- 
capable of conducting ourselves in this state as of acquiring 
it, God gives us strength and power to do it by his Spirit ; 
in consequence of which we act as the instruments of his hand, 
and are said to work out, or to complete, our salvation, be- 
cause by faith, by the practice of holiness, and by persever- 
ance, we enter into the possession of eternal life, acquired for 
us only by the merit of our Lord. This has been well ex- 


plained by an author whom our adversaries reckon among 
their fathers, (Bernard on Free-will,) that our good works are 
the path, and not the cause, of the heavenly kingdom. It may 
then be concluded, that the apostle commanding us in this place 
to employ ourselves on our own salvation, to work it out and 
to finish it, does not take for granted any power of free-will in 
us, nor any merit in our works, but simply means, that in con- 
sequence of, and by the efficacy of, this merciful grace, with 
which God has freely favoured us, we should incessantly la- 
bour, each in his calling, to accomplish the work of godliness, 
watching and praying, renouncing the world more and more, 
and all its vain lusts, and daily growing in faith, hope, and 
charity, in patience, and in all those other spiritual graces ne- 
cessar}'' to arrive at the entire enjoyment of that precious and 
glorious inheritance, which the Lord Jesus has acquired for us by 
his death, assured by his resurrection, and promised in his word. 
I now come to the manner in which he desires that we 
should acquit ourselves of this duty, that is to say, "with fear 
and trembling," which is the second and last point that we 
have to consider in this discourse. Those of the Komish com- 
munion teaching, as you know, that the believer ought always 
to doubt of his salvation, not being able, as they hold, to have 
a certain assurance of being now in the grace of God, and 
much less of persevering in it constantly for the future, wrest 
this passage to their error, and pretend that the apostle, by 
this " fear and trembling" which he directs, means doubt and 
mistrust, and wishes us to be in a perpetual apprehension of 
falling from salvation, without being certain that God loves us, 
or that we shall ever arrive at salvation. I will not here 
largely refute this doctrine, nor show you how contrary it is 
to scripture, which teaches us in a thousand places both the 
certainty of the salvation of the elect, and the testimony borne 
by the Holy Spirit to their adoption, and the confidence they 
should take from it, being certain, with the apostle, that neither 
death, nor life, nor any other thing, should ever separate them 
from the love of God in Jesus Christ. How insulting is it to 
God that we should be unwilling to assure ourselves of his 
mercy towards each of us, which is the highest glory that we 
can ascribe to his goodness ! how destructive of that comfort 
of believers, which in the midst of the miseries among which 
they live according to the flesh, is all founded on the feeling 
of the grace of God in Christ Jesus ! and to what feelings of 
horror and apprehension must such doubts necessarily give 
rise, when viewed with reference to what they must endure if 
they shall be eternally lost ! To minds thus disposed it is im- 
possible that one single spark of contentment should remain, 
much less that they should possess that peace of God which 
passes all understanding, or that unspeakable and glorious joy 


which the apostles attribute to the true children of God, as a 
necessary consequence of their adoption. And finally, how 
does such a doctrine clash with the theology of Rome itself, 
which, setting forth that grace is received into the hearts of 
men by the voluntary motions of their pretended free-will, 
here evidently contradicts itself, adding, that none can be cer- 
tain if he has this grace or not, as if we can knowingly and 
voluntarily receive a thing into our minds without knowing 
whether we have received it or not ! But I leave for the present 
all this controversy, and will content myself with simply show- 
ing that this passage in no wise favours their error ; and, that 
we may well understand it, I maintain that the " fear and 
trembling" here recommended by the apostle signifies neither 
doubt nor mistrust, (which ought to be strangers to souls jus- 
tified by the blood of Christ, and sanctified by his Spirit.) but 
a very deep humility, accompanied by a supreme reverence 
for God, giving him all the glory of our salvation, without at- 
tributing any part of it to ourselves ; a disposition of mind 
which we affirm ought to be in every true believer, according 
to the doctrine of the scriptures. And it is a remarkable cir- 
cumstance, that this exposition was brought forward in the 
Council of Trent itself, as history tells us ; such admirable 
methods has the providence of God for causing his truth to 
shine even in the midst of the thickest darkness. That we 
must thus take the text of the apostle is proved in many ways. 
First, by the terms themselves which he uses, fear and trem- 
bling, which are never employed in the New Testament to ex- 
press doubt or mistrust, but always every where to signify hu- 
mility and reverence ; as in the Epistle to the Ephesians, vi. 
5, where Paul commands servants " to obey their masters with 
fear and trembling," who does not see that he means not with 
doubt and mistrust, (which would be very unsuitable, and con- 
trary to what he adds, " in simplicity of heart, as unto Christ,") 
but with humility and reverence ? and when he praises the 
Corinthians, " that they had received Titus with fear and 
trembling ;" that is to say, with the respect due to him, and 
not with distrust, which would have been contrary to their 
duty ; and when he says to the same believers " that he has 
been among them in fear and trembling," 1 Cor. ii. 3, he sig- 
nifies not that he had doubted them, that he had been afraid 
of them, (for this meaning would be absurd and ridiculous,) 
but the humility, gentleness, and simplicity of his conversa- 
tion among them. These are the only three passages, besides 
our text, in which we meet with this manner of speaking in 
the whole of the New Testament, all of which imply humility 
and reverence, and not doubt or mistrust. Who can argue 
that, in this fourth passage, we must not take these words in 
the same sense ? I prove it, in the second place, by the second 


Psalm, from whence this manner of speaking is evidently 
drawn, where the prophet, treating a similar subject, says, 
"Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling." Un- 
doubtedly this great joy, this exultation with which he accom- 
panies the fear and trembling of believers, is incompatible 
with doubt, uncertainty, and mistrust ; but agrees very well 
with humility and reverence to God. Let us then say that 
both the psalmist, and Paul, who has borrowed these words 
from him, by the fear and trembling which he directs, intends 
humility and reverence, and not doubt and uncertainty. The 
same appears again from what the apostle, in Rom. xi., opposes 
to the fear which he recommends to us; which is not assurance, 
but pride; "Be not high-minded, but fear," ver. 20; an evi- 
dent sign that the fear which he approves in us is reverence 
and humility, the reverse of pride, and not doubt or uncer- 
tainty, the opposite of assurance. But what need is there to 
travel beyond this text to establish its meaning ? Its connec- 
tion even with what precedes and what follows it sufficiently 
explains it to us. For the apostle draws this exhortation from 
the example of Jesus Christ, as we have already shown. 
Christ humbled himself, and was exalted ; for which reason 
occupy yourselves about your own salvation with fear and 
trembling. This conclusion, to be good and right, ought to 
follow the nature of its principle, and draw nothing from it 
but what is really in it. Now in this example of the Lord, 
from which it is deduced, we see a very deep and most admirable 
humility, with an extreme reverence and obedience towards 
the Father, as the apostle divinely represents to us in it. But 
of doubt, uncertainty, or mistrust, neither does the apostle re- 
mark any thing, nor in reality is there any. For who can 
say, without blasphemy, that the Son of God either doubted or 
was uncertain of his victory ? Since, then, from this example 
the fear and trembling are drawn which the apostle recom- 
mends to us, it must necessarily be acknowledged that this 
fear and trembling are humility and reverence, which clearly 
appears, as the origin of this reasoning, and not doubt or mis- 
trust, which has no place in it. 

Finally, that which follows no less establishes it than that 
which preceded it : " Work out your own salvation with fear 
and trembling." Why? " Because (he adds) it is God which 
worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." 
Undoubtedly this great and admirable grace of the Lord, which 
thus deigns to accomplish his work in us, leads us truly to con- 
clude that we ought to walk before him with extreme humility 
and reverence ; but not at all that we should doubt our salva- 
tion ; on the contrary, we should rather conclude that we ought 
to have a firm and assured hope of it. As then this reason is 
that which the apostle alleges for the fear and trembling with 


which we must work out our salvation, let us conclude that it is 
humility and reverence towards God which he recommends to 
us, and not doubt or uncertainty, as our adversaries pretend. 
For this fear consists in two things : first, in a profound humil- 
ity ; and secondly, in a perfect reverence towards God. The hu- 
mility which proceeds from the consciousness of our own weak- 
ness, the worthlessness of our nature, and the dangers which sur- 
round us, produces in us a continual solicitude to employ all 
the means necessary to salvation, and particularly an attention 
to bind ourselves wholly to the Lord, hoping nothing from 
ourselves, and expecting all from him; as you see in an. in- 
fant, who, the more knowledge it has of its own weakness and the 
danger in which it finds itself, the more closely it will cling to 
its mother. Reverence towards God produces also the same 
effect, and gives rise in our hearts to a greater knowledge of his 
goodness and supreme majesty than of our own sin and misery. 
For who is he whose respect for so great a God does not lead 
him to the study and practice of that which is agreeable to 
him ? Such was the disposition of our apostle. He was as- 
sured of his own salvation, as he so clearly testifies in a thou- 
sand places, that our adversaries themselves are obliged to 
acknowledge it, and to except him from among the number of 
doubters ; yet he did not cease to feel much solicitude, and to 
take wonderful care of all the means which are prescribed for 
us to arrive at the heavenly kingdom ; as he declares, both in 
the third chapter of this Epistle, and in 1 Cor. ix. 26, 27, where 
he declares that he runs, and fights, and wrestles, and brings 
his body into subjection, so that after having preached to others, 
he himself may not be a castaway. He recommends to us what 
he practised himself, — assurance without security, and labour 
without pride. He does not wish that the goodness of God 
should render us cowards, or that our labour should render us 
presumptuous. Satan deceives some by making them believe 
that there is no need to withstand vice, or to give themselves 
much trouble ; and he puffs up others, and intoxicates them 
with a good opinion of themselves, turning their own virtue 
into poison to them, and their confidence into ruin. By the 
first means he destroys that large number of carnal christians 
of which the world is full, and who have nothing of Jesus 
Christ but the name and the profession. By the second he 
condemns Pharisaical minds, proud and puffed up with the 
presumption of their righteousness and of their deserts, under 
whatever period or garb they may live. The apostle calls to 
the first, " Work out your own salvation," and adds for the 
second, " with fear and trembling." Dear brethren, it is not 
sufficient to remark these vices in others, or even to listen to 
what Paul directs us against them ; we must watch ourselves, 
and unceasingly practise the holy exhortation of this great 


minister of the Lord. May this heavenly voice of his resound 
in our ears and in our hearts night and day, " Work out your 
own salvation with fear and trembling." May it hasten us, and 
not give us any moment of repose ; may it awaken our minds, 
and keep them entirely occupied on this divine care. Let us 
receive nothing that is contrary to it. Let us shut our ears to 
the gentle but pernicious songs of the world, which invite us 
to its vile pleasures, and its useless pastimes, and to the 
miserable exercise of its laborious vanity. Let us not listen 
either to the necessities or the desires of carnal nature, or of 
our family. Let us leave the dead to bury their dead, and the 
children of this mortal world to amuse themselves with mortal 
and perishable things. Let us follow Jesus Christ, and re- 
member the salvation to which he calls us, and for which he 
consecrated himself for us, and of which he has already given 
us an earnest. It is our task and our work. It is the vineyard 
into which he has sent us, the talent that he has committed to 
us. Let us every morning attend to this work ; let us examine 
it every evening. Let us hold that day lost in which we have 
made no progress in it. If any of the qualities necessary to 
this salvation are wanting to you, such as charity, patience, 
chastity, or liberality, labour, watch, and pray till you have 
received them from heaven. If what you have is weak and in 
a bad state, quit it not till it has regained its proper form. 
And here do not allege any excuse. You cannot have a good 
one here, where the question is one of salvation ; that is to say, 
of your supreme happiness. You know what happened to 
Lot's wife. For only having looked behind her, she was 
changed into a pillar of salt. Let us always have before our 
eyes this sad and memorable monument of the just vengeance 
of God against those who do his work deceitfully. 

But, beloved brethren, the obedience that you have hitherto 
yielded him, in embracing and keeping the profession of his 
gospel, in spite of the temptations which surround you, makes 
us hope better things of you. God forbid that you should lose 
the fruit of such excellent perseverance ; and that negligence 
should ruin a work which you have so gloriously begun, and 
so courageously followed, in the midst of so many stumbling- 
blocks. The greatest difficulties are overcome. You have 
broken through the hinderances which keep back so many 
miserable wretches at the entrance, — the shame of the world, 
and the lusts of the flesh. You have rejected the temptations 
which have ruined a large number, bringing them back again 
into the slavery of superstition. You have left Egypt and 
the Red Sea behind you, and have crossed a good part of the 
desert. Henceforth you behold that blessed land which the 
Lord has promised you. You are on its frontier, and have but 
the Jordan to cross. In the name of God, finish happily this 


good journey. May your strength increase m proportion as 
your task diminishes. Do in godliness what heavy things do 
in nature, which quicken their motions the nearer they ap- 
proach their place of rest. Employ yourselves more than ever 
on your salvation, as you were never before so near it ; but 
may it be with fear and trembling, with true humility and a 
holy reverence towards the Lord. If you have made some pro- 
gress in this design,<you have wherewith to rejoice before God, 
but nothing of which to be proud in yourselves. Look upon 
your obedience, your faith, and your perseverance as the works 
of his goodness, and not as the victory of your strength. May 
your submission and your reverence arise from it, and not a 
good opinion of yourselves. The more blessings you possess, 
the greater respect, and gratitude, and modesty you owe him ; 
for in truth you have nothing that you have not received from 
his liberal hand. Behold, dear brethren, what is required of 
us by this holy and glorious pattern of the obedience and hu- 
miliation of Jesus Christ, which the apostle has placed before 
our eyes, and from which he drew the exhortation which has 
been addressed to us this day. If we imitate his constancy, 
his perseverance, his humility, in the course of our calling, he 
will crown us in the end with a glory similar to his own, ac- 
cording to his holy and faithful promise, "To him that over- 
cometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give 
power such as I have received from my Father, and he shall 
sit with me on my throne," Eev. ii. 26, 27 ; iii. 21. The Lord 
give us this grace ; and to him, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, 
the true and only God blessed for ever, be honour and glory 
for ever and ever. Amen. 

Preached at Charenton, Sunday, 13th Jan., 1641. 


VERSE 13. 

For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his 
good pleasure. 

Dear brethren, to deliver us from the death into which we 
had fallen, and to restore us to the life we had lost, two things 
were necessary : one beyond ourselves, namely, the satisfac- 
tion of God's justice ; the other within ourselves, namely, faith 
and repentance. For as sin, of which we are guilty, had shut 
up our entrance into the house of God and had, as it were, 


tied the hands of his beneficence, it is clear that whatever dis- 
position we might have had towards him, it was not possible 
that we should obtain from him either pardon or life, if, in the 
first place, his justice was not satisfied, and our crime expiated. 
So that a propitiatory sacrifice was absolutely necessary for us 
to appease the wrath of God, and gain his favour, by blotting 
out sin, which had set him at variance with us. But as, on the 
other hand, it is neither suitable nor possible that an unbeliev- 
ing or impenitent creature should enjoy the salvation of God, 
you perceive that, in order to attain it, besides that propitiation 
which removes hinderances from without, repentance and faith 
are necessary to bring us into a state to receive the grace of 
our Sovereign. The gospel clearly teaches both these things, 
when it says that " God so loved the world, that he gave his 
only Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, 
but have everlasting life," John iii. 16. As to the first cause 
of salvation, the scripture shows that God alone is its author, 
who, moved by his infinite goodness, has entirely prepared, 
procured, and accomplished the satisfaction of his justice, and 
the purchase of immortality, by sending his Son, the great and 
precious gift of his grace. No one has arisen among christians 
who does not acknowledge it, or at least does not pretend to do 
so. Those who make man capable of expiating sin, of satisfy- 
ing the justice, and of meriting the grace of God, are ashamed 
of their own doctrine, and willing that the Lord should have 
entirely the glory of our redemption. But as to the other part, 
that is to say, faith and holiness, however clearly and expressly 
the scripture gives all the praise to God, yet many in different 
ages have attempted, and many are still trying, to give a part 
of it to man. They rightly confess that it is God who presents 
to us, in the first instance, the testimonies of his favour, and 
the instructions of his love, whether in the books of his word 
or by the mouth of his ministers ; that he solicits and ad- 
dresses us by his providence ; without which means it would 
be no more possible for us to believe than for a man to see an 
object which is not before his eyes, as the apostle observes, Rom. 
x. 14, "How can they believe in him of whom they have not 
heard ? and how shall they hear without a preacher ? and how 
shall they preach except they be sent ?" But this is all that 
these people assign to God in the production of our faith and 
sanctification. And if some of them add to it a few rays of 
his grace, by which he accompanies within what he addresses 
to us from without, it is only to arrange the objects which are 
presented to us, and to offer them to us in a brighter light, or 
to advise and simply invite us to embrace them, and not ef- 
fectually to imprint them in our hearts ; pretending that it is 
our will which effects the chief, nay, the whole, receiving or 
rejecting the operations of God, by its own motions, at pleasure, 


without grace necessarily having any thing to do with it. But 
the holy apostle, whose writings we are explaining, teaches us 
a very different doctrine, condemning every where this pre- 
sumption, and constantly giving to God the entire glory of our 
salvation, in all the parts of which it consists. Among the 
texts in which he establishes this excellent truth, this which 
we have just read is without doubt one of the most illustrious 
on which to found the exhortation he made in the preceding 
verse, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, that 
is to say, (as we have already explained in its place,) with deep 
and sincere humility ; he takes from us every pretext for our 
vanity, and boldly pronounces that it is to God alone that we 
owe all that we are in Jesus Christ : " For it is God that work- 
eth in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." 

That we may truly understand the meaning of this doctrine 
of the apostle, we must, in the first place, consider, What is 
this " to will and to do," of which he speaks ; secondly, How 
God produces it in us efficaciously ; and in the third and last 
place, What is that " good pleasure " according to which it is 
produced. Thus we shall have three things to discuss in this 
discourse, trusting in the Lord's help. The first, the effect of 
the grace of God in believers ; it is " to will and to do." The 
second, the operation of God in putting this willing and doing 
in us ; it is a work with power. And the third, the motive 
which leads the Lord so to work in us ; it is " his good plea- 

I. To begin then with the first point, the effect of the grace 
of God in believers. It would appear that the apostle here 
takes " to will " for the internal dispositions of our souls in 
the things that regard piety and salvation ; and "to do " as the 
external execution of these resolutions, and the good works 
which proceed from them without ; so that, for example, the 
design of believing and loving the gospel is " to will," and its 
confession " to do." But as piety has its principal seat within 
us, according to the apostle's declaration, that " the kingdom 
of God is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost," 
Eom. xiv. 17, all depending on the interior fixedness of the 
soul, the outward works and actions being either good or bad 
according to the quality of the heart, from whence they spring ; 
it is better to understand " in us," (the division which Paul here 
makes,) as distributing all things that regard piety into two 
parts, one of which he calls " to will," and the other " to do." 
For it is clear that in the mind itself there are certain actions 
and dispositions which may be called energy and perfection, 
and others simply the will. To understand it better, we must 
consider what even the wise men of this world have remarked, 
that the human will (which is the origin of all moral actions) 
has two kinds of movement. The first a weak and doubtful 


one, which is rather a wish or a desire than a firm and settled 
will, when we would indeed wish to do a thing, but when in 
reality we do it not. The other an entire and complete action 
of the will, firmly fixed upon an object, and in consequence 
using all the power it possesses to accomplish it. Of the first 
sort we simply say that they wish, but of the second we say they 
toill indeed. You every day see in common life examples of 
this difference. A merchant wishes to preserve the cargo of 
his vessel, labouring at sea in a great tempest ; but nevertheless 
he does not will it, the fear of perishing himself making him 
resolve to throw out with his own hands that which is most 
precious to him. Among corrupt people, how many are there 
who really wish to keep in the path of duty, and fail in it with 
regret, carried away by the violence of their passions ; and 
who, like that woman of whom the poets speak, see and ap- 
prove the better part, and nevertheless follow the worse! But 
those who are not troubled with such passions, or who, having 
fought and conquered them, continue in the practice of honesty 
and justice, those, I say, do not simply wish the good, but they 
also will it in truth. These diversities in the will proceed 
from the different disposition of the understanding, which is 
the guide of all its movements. For when we judge absolutely 
that a thing is good and salutary for us, we also will it abso- 
lutely. If the understanding only judges it to be doubtfully 
and imperfectly good, the will is only led to it feebly and lan- 
guidly. Now in piety, which perfects and enriches nature, but 
does not destroy it, these diversities and differences of the will 
also appear. For there are some who are only touched with 
the beauty of the gospel, and the blessings which it promises, 
to the degree of simply wishing that they could embrace it. 
But seeing that to do so they must deprive themselves of the 
sweets and pleasures of life, and expose themselves to the 
hatred of men, they stop at wishing, without going further. 
Such is the will of those who are usually called Nicodemuses, 
who would indeed wish to make a profession of the truth, and 
would do so, if it were compatible with the repose and peace 
of the world ; but they do not will it. For if they will it, 
why do they not do it ? They can allege no other reason than 
the feebleness of their will. Such was the disposition of him 
who, offering to follow the Lord, went away sad, when he heard 
that he must give up his riches ; and of those who, having re- 
ceived the seed of life with joy, withered as soon as the heat 
of persecution had blown upon them ; and of those again, who 
having conceived Jesus Christ in their hearts, have not strength 
to give him birth, nor to show their fruit without, by bringing 
it into the light of life. But that noble merchant of the gospel 
who, having known the inestimable value of the heavenly pearl, 
sold all that he had to buy it, had a true and perfect will ; and 


Paul likewise, who, as soon as he was acquainted with the glory 
and excellence of Jesus Christ, renounced all to embrace it, 
following him thenceforth with as much ardour as he had be- 
fore evinced in persecuting him ; and finally, all those who give 
up the world and its vanities, to make an open and constant 
profession of the way of God. The apostle says of all such in 
general, " they will live godly in Christ Jesus," 2 Tim. iii. 12. 
Those only who in truth live so, are they who will to live in 
this sense, it being evident that such as have only simple wishes, 
and who are content with saying, " I wish I could live so," are 
free from the persecution the apostle says shall come upon all 
those who " will to live." It is then the first motion of the 
will, trembling and led to love and to desire godliness, that he 
here calls " the will ;" and it is the second when it fixes upon 
this design, and embraces it with a firm and resolute affection, 
which he calls "to do." This is the true perfection of the will. 
The first of these motions is only the beginning of its opera- 
tion ; the second is its operation and its work completed. 
And that it must thus be taken, appears from other passages, 
where he employs the same words in this sense ; as in Rom. 
vii., where he describes the conflict of a man troubled between 
the love of good and the desire of evil : " To will is present 
with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not ;" 
where by " to will" he means those weak and vain desires of 
doing good, but which perform it not, whilst, on the contrary, 
he calls, " to perform" a full and entire will, followed by its ef- 
fect. In the Epistle to the Galatians, he also expresses it by 
a similar word, where, speaking of the wrestling of the flesh 
and of the Spirit, he says, " The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, 
and the Spirit against the flesh ; and these are contrary the one 
to the other ; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would," 
Gal. v. 17. Here again he opposes " to do" with " to will ;" 
that is to say, a firm and constant temper of the will, which is 
always followed by its effect, to those light and weak desires 
by which good is rather wished than willed. It is in my opin- 
ion exactly this which he means by " the will and the race," 
when, arguing on the causes of our vocation to salvation, he 
concludes, " that it is neither of him that willeth, nor of him 
that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy," Rom. ix. 16 ; as 
if he would say, that it is neither the wishes nor the first mo- 
tions of man, nor his firmest resolutions, nor the works which 
proceed from them, which are the causes of his vocation ; but 
the grace and mercy of the Lord alone. And thus, in these 
three passages, under the words " to do" and " to run," he un- 
derstands, with the firmness and perfection of the will, all the 
affections and works which depend on it, and by which it is 
shown : so does he in our text. And the reason is evident. 
For as a firm and settled will necessarily produces its effects, 


and it is not possible for it to exist without them, it is clear 
that whoever speaks of such a will speaks also of all its effects. 
Perhaps it may happen in other things that such a will may 
not execute what it wishes to do, because what it wishes may 
depend on others, or may be taken out of its power. But in 
religion, what is willed cannot be resisted, provided it be firmly 
and constantly willed ; for religion only demands from us those 
things which we can execute. For example, it does not re- 
quire us to give alms if we have not the means of so doing; 
nor to preach the gospel if we have not the gifts necessary for 
preaching; nor to hear if we are deaf, nor to speak if we are 
dumb. In these respects the intention will be accounted to us 
for the deed. This is why the apostle, in a passage on which 
we have before remarked, says, " those that will live godly," 
to signify those who do so live ; as it is not possible that a man 
should have a fixed and settled will so to live without living 
so indeed. From whence it appears that in these words, " to 
will and to do," are entirely comprised every part of godliness, 
without any exception, all the movements that we make for 
the kingdom of God, and all the duties we perform to arrive at 
it. "To will" signifies the first emotions and the first affec- 
tions of the soul towards godliness, which are the commence- 
ments of our salvation ; God raising these first emotions within 
us by the first rays that he causes to shine in our hearts. Man, 
hearing the happiness that the gospel promises him, and seeing 
the beauty, the justice, and the excellence of the means which 
it sets before him that he may attain it, is attracted by it, and 
turns his will towards it, desiring to have a share in such a 
rich treasure, and to place himself in the road that leads to it. 
The other words, " to do," signify, in the first place, the reso- 
lution that we take to believe and embrace godliness, the lively 
and ardent love of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of his kingdom ; 
and secondly, all the holy emotions of a will thus disposed, 
the courage to suffer in so glorious a cause, the contempt for 
the vanities of earth, disgust at its pleasures, works of charity 
to our neighbours, temperance in the conduct of our life, and 
all those works which flow from this divine source, with per- 
severance and a final accomplishment of our salvation. There 
is nothing good or praiseworthy in the life of believers, 
whether of those who begin or of those who finish, there is no- 
thing in the infancy of the one, nor in the riper years of the 
other, which does not relate either " to will" or " to do." These 
two words comprise all the efforts and all the success of their 
piety ; its beginnings, its progress, its perseverance, and its 
end ; its conflicts, its victories, and its triumphs. 

This shows how empty is the presumption of those who di- 
vide the glory of our course in the faith between God and our- 
selves ; freely granting that God works in them the beginnings 


of salvation, but pretending that, after having received the first 
tokens of his grace, they are afterwards the authors of the rest, 
which they express by a word full of vanity, saying that they 
co-operate with God, making themselves, by these means, com- 
panions of the Godhead in this work. The apostle here throws 
down all this project of their pride, pronouncing, gloriously, 
that " it is God which works in them to will and to do," the 
progress and the end, as well as the beginning. If there be 
anything else in them besides to will and to do, I am content 
that they should attribute it to themselves. But since these 
words comprehend all, who does not see it is wronging the 
apostle to give man some part of a work which he attributes 
entirely to God ? This same Lord that brings us out of Egypt, 
preserves us in the desert, and introduces us into Canaan. As 
he has given us the intention to follow his Christ, so also has 
he given us the strength to do so. Our progress, as well as 
our beginning, is the work of his grace alone; and our perse- 
verance no less so than our progress. 

II. Let us now consider how he gives us this " to will and 
to do," of which he is the sole author. The apostle explains 
it by a remarkable term, saying, " that he produces both the 
one and the other in us with power." This word,* in the lan- 
guage of the Holy Scriptures, signifies a powerful and effica- 
cious action, which, surmounting all resistance, and throwing 
down every impediment, succeeds in its design, and executes 
what it has undertaken. Hence the Greek interpreters have 
used it in Isa. xli. 4, to express that all powerful work of God 
by which he created all things, giving them being by an infi- 
nite power, whose efficacy nothing could stop : " Who (says 
the prophet) hath wrought and done it, calling the generations 
from the beginning?" And Paul employs it in a similar way, 
to signify the action of that all-powerful and insurmountable 
virtue by which Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, saying 
that it is the action or energy that God displayed with power 
when he raised him from the dead, Eph. i. 20 ; and in the same 
chapter he expresses also by this word the action by which 
God executes his decrees powerfully and infallibly, " that we 
were predestinated according to the purpose of him who 
worketh all things after the counsel of his own will," ver. 11. 
And Matthew, in like manner, to express the action by which 
divine power does and executes his miracles, in setting before 
us the opinion that Herod had conceived of Jesus Christ, makes 
him say, " It is John the Baptist ; he is risen from the dead ; 
and therefore mighty works are wrought by him," Matt. xiv. 2. 
It is then the same term which the holy apostle here employs 
to express the action by which God gives us " to will and to 

* 'EvtpyeTv. 


do," saying that "he works in us with power," as it has been 
well translated in our Bibles. From which it appears that this 
action of the grace of God on us, when he regenerates us in 
his Son Jesus Christ, is not a moral suasion, by which he in- 
vites us to believe in him, or a naked and simple proposal of 
the means which should draw us to do so, having sometimes 
its effect, and sometimes not, according to the different incli- 
nations of human wills ; but a strong work, sweet and agree- 
able, it is true, but powerful and invincible, which is always 
certainly and infallibly followed by its effect ; so that it is im- 
possible that the soul in which it is displayed should not have 
henceforth "to will and to do." I acknowledge that God also 
calls unbelievers and sinners to faith and repentance, address- 
ing them by his word, and declaring his will ; and that with 
respect to some he goes still further, enlightening them within 
by some rays of his light, and spreading in their hearts some 
power of his Spirit, even to the production of this "will" of 
which we have spoken above. And I confess that all this 
work of God remains often, nay, always, destitute of its last 
true and legitimate effect, that is to say, of the real and entire 
conversion of the sinner, by the hardness of men, and not by 
the defect of the revelation of God. But the question here is 
not of the kind of calling common to reprobates, hypocrites, 
and unbelievers ; but of that which God directs to his elect, 
and by which he converts them to himself. For it is that 
which the apostle here means, as he is speaking to people who 
have in them " to will aud to do," which belongs alone to true 
believers. The scripture never calls the action of God on those 
who reject his voice an energy, or an efficacious work. This 
word is only suitable to the action by which he converts his 
elect ; from whence it clearly follows that it is always effica- 
cious. This is the reason why the scripture calls it elsewhere 
a creation, as when David prays the Lord "to create in him a 
clean heart," Psal. li. 12 ; and when Paul says "that we are the 
work of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works," Eph. 
ii. 10. Creation (as every one will acknowledge) is a work 
whose effect cannot be frustrated, it is infallibly brought into 
being. Undoubtedly since the work by which God converts 
us is a creation, it is then a certain and infallible power. The 
greater part of the other terms of which the Holy Spirit makes 
use, to signify this work of God in us, takes this truth for 
granted, as when he calls it a resurrection, a regeneration, a 
new life; it being clear that when God displays the power ne- 
cessary to raise, regenerate, and quicken, it is impossible that 
the subject on which he has displayed it should not be raised 
and brought to life. And in truth, what could hinder the 
effect of this divine work? Could it be the rebellion of our 
will ? But how, seeing that the apostle declares that God pro- 


duces the will in us, that is to say, he makes us willing, un- 
willing as we were? Could it be the powerlessness to do what 
we would wish ? But the same apostle says that God also 
works in us " to do." Assuredly then it is not possible that 
this work of his should remain without its effect. It is not 
that he does not meet within us great resistance to his work, 
and that error, malice, passion, pride, a host of lusts, or, to 
speak more properly, of demons, are not opposed to his will. 
But there is no strength which he does not conquer, or resist- 
ance that he does not surmount, or strong hold that he does 
not destroy, or pride that he does not throw down, or counsel 
that he does not dissipate, or thoughts that he does not lead 
captive, or lust that he does not bring under his yoke. When 
he hardens the wicked by his just decree, the apostle testifies 
" that none can resist his will," Rom. ix. 19. Who will believe 
that he has less power to soften than to harden ? or that the 
hand of his righteousness should be more powerful on the ves- 
sels of his wrath than that of his grace on those of his mercy ? 
If this work of God had not this insurmountable and certain 
efficacy, what would be more cold and less reasonable than the 
rich and magnificent expressions which the apostle gives us, 
saying, "that God has displayed on us who believe the exceeding 
greatness of his power, according to the working of his mighty 
power ?" Eph. i. 19. Of what use are these great works, if God 
only simply shows us the objects of his truth, without really 
softening our hearts to receive them ? Or where is the man of 
sound judgment who would thus speak of a philosopher, and say 
" that he had displayed on us the exceeding greatness of his 
power, under pretence that he had taught us to live well ?" 
But from hence it still further appears, that we contribute 
nothing to the work of our new birth, and that all those 
pretended powers which some attribute to our own free- 
will are but fictions and chimeras. They wish that the 
will of man should be the queen and mistress of his move- 
ments ; and that, supposing that God had done every thing 
on his side, that he has enlightened the understanding, 
that he has manifested forth his judgments in the world, that 
he has displayed all his strength and power, still that this shall 
be without any effect, putting neither " to will nor to do" into 
man ; that man still has, after all this, the power in his will to 
reject grace, and to live in sin or not. Certainly if it be so, 
the apostle is wrong in saying that God works with power in 
us both " to will and to do." At this rate he has done neither 
the one nor the other. It is to the empire of our will that we 
owe it, and not to the work or efficacy of divine grace. And 
what need was there that God should act so nobly towards us, 
and that he should display all the glory of his power, even that 
by which he raises the dead and creates the worlds, to work 


nothing in us ? all his work not having, according to these 
people, any power or efficacy on our hearts, for fear of vio- 
lating their natural liberty. Besides this passage which is so 
clear, there is hardly one in scripture, treating on this subject, 
which does not confound this error, and show us that the work 
of God on believers does not, by any means, leave their will 
in this pretended indifference and liberty to determine. As 
when it says, that God circumcises our hearts ; that he takes 
away our hearts of stone, and gives us hearts of flesh ; and 
that he puts his law within us, and writes it in our hearts ; 
that he converts us to himself; that he delivers us from the 
power of darkness, and translates us into the kingdom of his 
dear Son, Col. i. 13 ; that he gives us the Spirit of wisdom and 
revelation, and enlightens the eyes of our understanding, Eph. 
i. 18 ; that as the light shined in darkness, so has it shined in 
our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of his glory 
in the face of Jesus Christ, 2 Cor. iv. 6, 7 ; that he draws us 
to himself, John vi. 44 ; that he grafts us by his power into 
the good olive tree, Rom. xi. 23 ; that he opens our hearts, 
Acts xvi. 14 ; that those who were dead in trespasses and sins 
he has quickened in his Son, Eph. ii. 1, 5, 6; and similar 
modes of speaking, which all explain, as you see, with won- 
derful emphasis, a very powerful and efficacious work, which 
assuredly produces its effect, without leaving it in doubt, 
or putting it off to the action of any other cause whatever, 
And not here to insist upon it any more, I will only finally 
add, that our Lord also shows it clearly to us in John vi. 44, 
45, where, after having said that none can come to him ex- 
cept the Father draw him, he adds, that whoever has heard 
the Father, and has learnt of him, comes to him. The language 
of the first proves to us that man has no power in himself, 
even to will or to do any thing that regards godliness, none 
ever converting himself to Jesus Christ, unless God draws 
him. And the second shows us that this work, by which God 
draws us to his Son, is so powerful that none can resist it, all 
those on whom it is displayed coming to him, which would be 
false if it happened (as our adversaries pretend) that any of 
those whom God has taught should remain out of Christ 
for having rejected the calling and teaching of God by his 
own will. 

But we must briefly answer some of the most specious ob- 
jections which they bring against a doctrine so clearly founded 
on scripture. In the first place, they say that if it be God who 
works in us to will and to do, in the way that we have set 
forth, it will consequently be he who wills and who believes 
in us, and not we in him, in the same way as some of the most 
extravagant heretics have held, that it is not properly the sun 
that shines, or the fire that burns, but God who shines in the 


one and burns in the other. To which, I reply, that this ob- 
jection has only been dictated to them by the violence of their 
inclinations. They themselves acknowledge that God en- 
lightens the understandings of men in the knowledge of him- 
self, by a work which is necessarily efficacious, and which man 
cannot resist, so that it is not possible that he upon whom it 
is displayed should not know it. And, nevertheless, for all 
that, they do not say that it is not the enlightened man that 
knows God, but God who knows himself in him. Wherefore, 
then, should we not likewise say, that though God certainly 
and infallibly converts our will, still it is not he who wills and 
who believes, but ourselves who will and who believe in con- 
sequence of his operation ? Our works in religion are one 
thing, the operation of the cause which produces them another. 
Those are ours, these are of God only. We believe, we repent, 
we know the Lord, and we love him ; we leave the things that 
are behind, and press on to those which are before ; we per- 
severe; We finish our course: these are the works of the be- 
lieving man, and not of God. But it is the Lord who, by the 
power and merciful operation of his Spirit, puts our minds in 
a state to act thus, enlightening them in such a way that we 
see, softening them so that they are converted, drawing them 
so that they follow, creating and quickening so that they live. 
They add, in the second place, that by this method we change 
men into stocks and stones, depriving them of their liberty 
and will, without which they are not men. I acknowledge 
that we take from them that vain and imaginary power that 
they give them of being able, without any reason, to turn them- 
selves to one or the other of two contrary sides, which is but 
a fiction of their mind, devoid of foundation either in scrip- 
ture or in real reason. But I deny that the action of the grace 
of God, such as the apostle describes, and such as we declare 
it to be, injures either the will or the true liberty of man. It 
does not injure his will; on the contrary, it enriches it; it 
makes him embrace God and heaven, eternal and glorious ob- 
jects, instead of the world and its goods, mean, vain, and per- 
ishable things; it renders him zealous and persevering, in- 
stead of slothful and flighty, as he was before. Can the^e be 
any thing more ridiculous than to accuse a work of God of 
ruining our will which works in us both to will and to do ? 
which makes us will more powerfully, more nobly, and more 
firmly than ever ? But neither does it deprive man of his true 
and legitimate liberty. For the liberty of man does not lie in 
the power which they attribute to it of embracing good or 
evil indiscriminately. At this rate God would not be free, 
seeing that his will is firmly fixed on good, nor the mind of 
Jesus Christ, nor those of the glorified saints, nor the _ spirits 
of the blessed angels, who all confess cannot be inclined to 


evil ; nor, on the other hand, demons nor men, whether hard- 
ened in this world, or damned in the other, who, all acknow- 
ledge, cannot embrace the good. What sort of liberty then 
must that be which man would lose in making use of it, 
ceasing to be free at the very instant that he would use his 
liberty ? For as the will loses this indifference every time that 
it wills something, resolving or retracting the part it should 
embrace, if it be in indifference that its liberty consists, it 
is evident that it must lose it every time it uses it. But the 
true liberty of rational nature consists in its following and 
embracing that which is good ; not that it should be ignorant 
of it. like plants and animals, or that it should exercise no 
choice, as those who are under constraint, but that it should in- 
cline to that which it knows and judges to be best and most 
expedient, being led to will by its own judgment, and not by 
a blind instinct, or by a foreign power. Now God in no way 
thwarts this order and privilege of our nature in working in us 
to will and to do. For he does not lead us into the plan of 
salvation either in spite of ourselves, or by bringing us up in 
the fellowship of his Son as stones, or pieces of wood, or as 
slaves, who are made to do and suffer by the rod things that 
they hate in their hearts. But he leads us in a manner suitable 
to our nature, and by an action so gentle, yet so powerful, en- 
lightens our understandings, and forms in them by the hand 
of his Spirit a firm and solid knowledge of his truth, and in 
consequence by this light drawing our wills and affections to 
his love, efficaciously, but agreeably ; invincibly, but without 
constraint. And as the scripture shows us the inevitable effi- 
cacy of this his work, in saying that he creates us ; that he 
quickens us ; that he draws us ; that he brings us under the yoke 
of his Son ; that he vanquishes and subdues us; that he leads 
us captive: it also testifies to us its gentleness, when it says, 
in many places, that he teaches us ; that he persuades or draws 
us gently, John vi. 45 ; that he leads us, and speaks kindly to 
us, Hos. ii. 14 ; that he gives us counsel in the night season, 
Psal. xvi. 7 ; and that our hearts say unto us from him, "Seek 
ye my face," Psal. xxvii. 8 ; that he opens our ears morning 
by morning, that we may hear as those who are well taught ; 
that he opens our ear in such a way that we are not rebellious, 
neither go backward ; that he draws us, but with the cords of 
a man, Hos. ii. 4 ; that he binds us, but with the bonds of 
love ; that he constrains us, but that it is by the love of Christ ; 
that he is stronger than we, and has prevailed, but it is by his 
divine attractions, Jer. xx. 7. Thus you see that the objec- 
tions of error against truth are empty. 

Let us then conclude, with the apostle, that it is God who 
efficaciously works in us to will and to do. And certainly if 
it were otherwise, if the effect of the efforts of his grace de- 


pended entirely on our will, we must then acknowledge that 
his providence would be imperfect, as at this rate the motions 
of our wills would be beyond his government and out of his 
power. It must then be said that he did not certainly foresee, 
either the future motions of our wills, or the effects which de- 
pended on them, as according to this supposition they are all 
doubtful and uncertain until the will has determined, and it is 
clear that of a thing uncertain in itself the knowledge cannot 
be certain. We must then deify the will of man, as this opin- 
ion makes him .supreme and independent with respect to God 
himself. We must then abolish the use of the greater part of 
the exhortations, prayers, and thanksgivings, that is to say, 
the principal part of religion. For of what use are exhorta- 
tions, if all the light that they throw into the understanding 
has no effect upon the will, and leaves it as undecided as it was 
at the beginning, all its motions depending on its own caprice, 
and not on any reason ? And if it is not the hand of God, but 
the blind impetuosity of the will, which decides for good, how 
and wherefore shall we pray the Lord to turn us from evil, and 
incline and soften us towards good? Or how and why shall 
we give him thanks that he has sanctified and separated us 
from those who perish ? and how shall we give him, with the 
ancient church in one of the collects, the praise " of having 
forced our wills, rebels as we were, to turn to him?" Un- 
doubtedly it is a lie to praise him for that which he has not 
done ; and it is folly to ask that of him which he neither will 
nor can do for us. If we will then preserve faith in the provi- 
dence, foreknowledge, and sovereignty of God ; if we will en- 
tirely retain the holy and salutary use of exhortations, prayers, 
and thanksgivings ; let us fly and reject this arrogant error, 
and humbly give God the glory of having efficaciously worked 
in us both to will and to do. 

III. That nothing may be wanting to our blessedness, let us 
add, with the apostle, that the Lord has done it according to 
his good pleasure, that- this is the only motive which induced 
him to bestow upon us so much good. The actions of God on 
his creatures are of two kinds. Of some, the reason appears 
in the subjects themselves on which he displays them ; and 
others not. For example, the faith of the repenting sinner is 
the reason for which he justifies and saves him ; the unbelief 
of the impenitent is the reason for which he condemns him. 
When these are spoken of, there is no need to allege the good 
pleasure of God, the reason of his work being seen in the thing 
itself. Thus you will not find that the apostle has recourse to 
it, when he treats of the justification of man. But when we do 
not see in the things any cause which has moved God to treat 
them as he does, there we are forced to adore his judgments, 
and to believe that he does it because it is his will. As when 


we consider that, of all the people of the world, he chose Israel, 
who were in nothing better or more excellent than others, we 
are obliged to come to this, that he acted thus because it was 
his good pleasure. It is this good pleasure that the apostle 
here alleges as the reason of the grace that God gives us, in 
working in us both to will and to do. And elsewhere in treat- 
ing of this mystery, he speaks again to the same effect, when he 
says he has " predestinated us to the adoption of children by 
Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will," Eph. 
i. 5. And our Lord in like manner, "Thou hast (says he to 
his Father) hidden these things," the mysteries of his gospel, 
"from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto 
babes ; even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight," 
Matt. xi. 25. And it is this same good pleasure the apostle 
means, when, speaking of the illumination of the Gentiles in 
the gospel, he says, " that God would make known to them 
what is the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is in 
Christ," Col. i. 27 ; and James likewise, when he says, " that 
God of his own will hath begotten us by the word of his truth, 
that we might be the first-fruits of his creatures," James i. 18. 
From which it follows, in the first place, that it is not the con- 
sideration of anything that is in us which moved the Lord to 
call us and convert us to the knowledge of himself. And thus 
it entirely crushes the presumption of those who found this 
election and preference of believers, either on their merit of 
congruity, as they call it, or on the disposition of their heart, 
subdued, softened, and prepared by affliction, before the period 
of their calling, or upon the good use of their free-will, foreseen 
by the Lord in the light of his foreknowledge. For if God 
called men to himself for any one of these reasons, there could 
be no cause for assigning it to his good pleasure. The reason 
for which he would have given them his grace, rather than to 
others, would have been quite evident ; there being no one 
who will deny that he who merits ought to be preferred to 
him who does not ; and that he who is dejected and humbled, 
to him who remains haughty and proud ; and he whose will is 
inclined to good, to him who has not been stopped in his love 
of evil. But from hence again appears, in the second place, 
the truth which we have previously declared, namely, that the 
effect of the work of God in us does not in any way depend on 
the movements of our will. For if it were so, it would pro- 
duce in us to will and to do, not according to the good plea- 
sure of God, as the apostle says, but according to our own. 
But here the adversaries arise, and pretend that if it be the 
good pleasure of God alone which distinguishes those whom 
he calls from those whom he does not call, at this rate 
there will be accepting of persons ; giving unequally to objects 
that are equal, converting one sinner and not another. To 


which I reply, that this by no means follows. For he does 
what he will with his own ; and owing nothing to any, gives 
to him whom he pleases without injustice. As when among a 
great number of poor, we give alms to some, and not to others, 
he to whom we do give them has reason to thank us, and he to 
whom we do not give them has no right to complain. We 
have satisfied one, but we have done no wrong to another, be- 
cause we owed nothing to either. Thus is it with the Lord in 
respect to men. Criminals and sinners, they all deserve death, 
and were he to leave all in the perdition in which he finds 
them, none could accuse him either of injustice or rigour. 
Those whom he snatches from this gulf are bound to acknow- 
ledge that he does them a wonderful favour. Those to whom 
he does not give similar grace cannot without injustice impute 
their misery to him ; and so much the more, that he does not 
entirely forsake them, but presents them his word, invites and 
calls them to himself, and receives them if they listen to him. 
When instead of yielding him so right and reasonable a duty, 
they proudly reject all his exhortations and warnings, scofî' at 
his voice, insult his servants, abhor piety, and give themselves 
up to vice, of whom can they complain but of themselves, who 
knowingly and willingly precipitate themselves into perdition 
by their rebellion against so good and powerful a Lord ? I 
acknowledge that if he had not displayed on us the work of 
his marvellous grace, by which he worked in us both to will 
and to do, we should have valued it no more than others ; and 
I acknowledge further, that had he been pleased to act in them 
as in us, he had worked in their hearts to will and to do as 
well as in ours. But still I maintain, that although the grace 
that he has given us is the cause of our salvation, it is not right 
to say, that because he has deprived them of it is, properly 
speaking, the cause of their perdition. It is their sin and their 
wickedness. They feel it so in themselves, and will one day 
publicly acknowledge it to their shame. For what other 
power leads them to rebel against God, than that of their own 
evil lusts? What violence plunges them into vice, but that 
of their own passions ? Who is it shuts the eyes and ears of 
their minds, if it be not the love of the world and the flesh ? 
But if you desire still further to enter into the mystery of God, 
and if, throwing down the respect due to the counsels of such 
supreme Majesty, you require, at all hazards, that I should tell 
you why he acts so with some that he has gained and persuaded, 
and in another way with others that he has not so persuaded ; 
I will say to you, with St. Augustine, that I have but two 
things to reply thereupon : the one, " the depth of the riches 
both of the wisdom and knowledge of God ! how unsearchable 
are his judgments, and his ways past finding out !" Korn. xi. 33 ; 
and the other. " Is there unrighteousness with God ? God for- 


bid," Eom. ix. 14. If this answer does not content you, seek 
some more learned persons, but take care that instead of know- 
ledge you do not find presumption. 

This is where I shall end, dear brethren, after having briefly 
touched on the principal lessons that we have drawn from the 
doctrine of the apostle for our edification. He teaches us that 
God is the sole author of our conversion, working in us with 
power both to will and to do according to his good pleasure. 
You then, christian souls, who have had the courage to em- 
brace the gospel, and the happiness of enjoying this holy lio-ht, 
which sows even in this world peace and joy in our hearts, and 
in the other will crown us with glory and immortality, see 
with what warmth you ought to love the author of such a great 
and marvellous blessing. He has not only given to you, as 
to others, a body, mind, will, and earthly life, with every- 
thing necessary to support it here below. He has not only 
drawn you from those depths of error in which idolaters live. 
He has not only caused his word to sound in your ears, and 
presented his light to your eyes. He has done much more 
than that. Extending from heaven that same hand which cre- 
ated the universe, and raised Jesus Christ from the dead, he 
has enlightened your understandings, and softened your wills; 
and planted the cross of his Son in your hearts, opening them 
at the preaching of his ministers, and himself producing with 
power this " to will and to do" which you ask. What then 
henceforth should these understandings, enlightened with the 
light of God, think or meditate upon, but upon his wonders 
and his mysteries ? What ought these wills, freed by the hand 
of the Lord, henceforth to love, but the goodness of their great 
Liberator ? 

And what consolation, what joy, and what assurance ought 
you to have for the future ! You carry the work of God in 
your bosom, the labour of his hand, the production of his 
Spirit, the inviolable seal of your salvation. What can you 
refuse to him who has lavished on you so many wonders, who 
has so many efforts and exploits of his power which he does in 
spite of yourselves in your favour still to add to those of which 
the interior of your heart is the subject and the witness ? But, 
believers, if I command your gratitude and joy, I do not per 
mit presumption. Look at the gifts of God ; consider with de 
light what he has done for you and in you; but do not becomo 
proud of them. Believe that of all these gifts that you enjoy 
there is not a single one but what is an alms of God. Believe 
that it is he who has worked in you both to will and to do ; 
both the smallest sparks of piety, and the noblest conflicts 
that you have endured for it ; that in this respect there is no- 
thing in you either great or small that does not come from 
him, that does not call upon you to bow the head, and walk 


before him with fear and trembling. Beware also of the secu- 
rity of those who flatter themselves and are satisfied that they 
are the children of God, under the pretence that they make a 
profession of being so. None are his children but those whom 
he has begotten, in whom he has put his Spirit and life, and in 
whom (as the apostle says) he has worked to will and to do. 
He does not only say, to will, he adds, to do. Those transient 
emotions of piety which you sometimes feel arising in your 
hearts, and which disappear as it were almost in the same in- 
stant, are not the whole work of God in his faithful people ; he 
brings their wills into the obedience of his Son. He crucifies 
their flesh ; he suppresses, or, to speak more properly, he mor- 
tifies, their lusts and passions. Judge with what right you 
pretend to be creatures of God in Jesus Christ, you who, in- 
stead of his will, only fulfil that of the flesh and of the world ; 
you who are enticed by the vanities of earth and the follies of 
time, as slaves, into the most infamous exercise of your most 
miserable slavery. One sighs after gold and silver ; another after 
the sinful lusts of the flesh. One runs after ambition ; another 
serves some other idol. And is that, christians, the will that 
God works with power in the hearts of his children ? Is this 
the fixed will that he gives them, so constant, so firm, and al- 
ways followed by its effects ? Is this all the success of the 
great efforts of his Spirit and of the power which he displays 
on his own ? But how is it that you do not perceive that these 
are rather the productions of Satan than the works of God ? 
And how is it that you do not tremble at seeing the enemy so 
powerful in you, master of your wills, and absolute tyrant of 
vour hearts, which he fills with his desires, and acts there with 
the same efficacy as in the children of disobedience ? In the 
name of God, forsake your error, awake from this great stupe- 
faction ; drive from your hearts such unjust and dishonest in- 
clinations. Receive in them the will of God, which alone is 
good, salutary, and holy. Pray to him that he would display 
his all-powerful hand upon you, that he would extinguish the 
fire of the enemy, that he would create a pure heart and renew 
a rio-ht spirit within you, and that he would work with power 
in you both to will and 'to do according to his good pleasure. 
Preached at Charenton, Sunday, 10th Feb. 1641. 



VERSES 14, 15. 

Do all things without murmurings and disputings : that ye may 
be blameless and harmless* the sons of God, without rebuke, in 
the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom 
ye shine as lights in the world ; holding forth the word of life. 

Dear brethren, among all the christian virtues, there is 
hardly one that is more necessary or more useful than humi- 
lity ; and if you will seriously consider its nature, you will 
find that it is either the mother or nurse of all the others. It 
works in us patience in adversity, and modesty in prosperity. 
It disposes us more powerfully to obey God and love men. 
It preserves in our souls both the light of faith and the fire of 
love. It plants in them the peace of heaven and tranquillity 
of mind. It both founds and preserves the hopes of the world 
to come, and defends us against the temptation of that which 
now is. It covers us like a large buckler, so that neither 
Satan nor the world can obtain any advantage over us. As 
by humility Jesus Christ obtained eternal salvation, so also by 
it do we enter upon and possess it. This heavenly virtue pre- 
sides over all this miraculous work. It governs its beginning, 
its progress, and its end. This is the reason why the holy 
apostle recommends it with so much care to the Philippians, 
and through them to all other believers. You have herein 
before seen the exertions he has made to plant it in our souls, 
proposing it to us in Jesus Christ our Saviour, both as a most 
perfect example, and as an unheard-of reward ; and adding 
still, in the last text that we have discoursed upon, a very 
powerful reason drawn from this, that all the good that is in 
us, whether to undertake or to execute the plan of godliness, 
is a gift and a work of the pure grace of God, which works in 
us with power both to will and to do according to his good 
pleasure. Now after having established humility among the 
Philippians, he makes it act, representing to them in the verses 
that you have heard some of its duties, and, concluding this 
doctrine by a beautiful and magnificent exhortation to the 
pursuit of a rare and singular holiness worthy of the name 
they bore, and of the end for which God had created them in 
his Son. The duties which he recommends to them as neces- 
sarily flowing from humility are contained in these words, 
" Do all things without murmurings and disputings : that ye 

* Ft. " without reproach and simple." 


may be blameless and harmless ;" and the general exhortation 
to holiness which, he adds is comprised in these, "that ye may 
be children of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked 
and perverse generation, among whom ye shine as lights in 
the world; holding forth the word of life." We will examine 
all this in this discourse, if it please the Lord. And, that we 
may proceed regularly, we will consider, in the first place, the 
prohibition which he gives us against murmuring and dis- 
puting ; secondly, the commandment which he adds to it, to be 
holy, and without reproach ; and in the third and last place, 
the reasons with which he enforces this exhortation, drawn 
both from our character as children of God, and from the 
office to which the Lord has consecrated us as lights of the 

I. He commands us then at the beginning to " do all things 
without murmurings and disputings," where it is evident that 
by the "all things" of which he speaks, he means those things 
which regard religion, and the obedience that we owe to God, 
the whole of the christian life : desiring that we should serve 
the Lord and edify our neighbours cheerfully and willingly, 
without any thought arising in our heart, or any word coming 
out of our mouth, either contrary to a heavenly disposition, 
or to the good and usefulness of men. For the flesh with 
which we are clothed, loving naturally its thoughts, its ease, 
and its convenience, it often happens that when the duties of 
Christianity oppose it, it objects, either secretly or openly ; so 
that although the authority of God forces us to obey him, yet 
we only do so by constraint, complaining of our condition, 
and of the judgment which condemns us to it. This resist- 
ance takes place sometimes solely in our hearts, secretly 
thwarting the work of God, without bursting out into a formal 
opposition to his will ; sometimes it goes further, and even 
doubts the truth or justice of the duties which it prescribes to 
lis. Paul here calls the first murmuring, and the second dis- 
puting, and banishes both from the life of true believers, as the 
plague and ruin of piety, a commencement of disobedience, 
and a seed of rebellion. Besides, I would extend them gene- 
rally to all complainings and disputings, whether against God 
or men. Against God, when we have the boldness to call in 
question, and to find fault either with the doctrine that he has 
given us, as if it contained something false, or with his provi- 
dence in the guidance of our life, as if it were unjust or un- 
reasonable. Against men, when we judge them, their morals 
and their actions, rashly and inconsiderately, condemning them 
without cause, opposing them, and even coming to debatings 
and quarrellings with them. Paul, in 1 Cor. x. sets before us 
an example of the first kind of murmuring drawn from the 
ancient Israelites, who murmured so many times in the wilder- 


ness against the Lord and his servants, foolishly blaming the 
counsel of God and his conduct, and insultingly complaining 
of the way in which he treated them, as if he had done them 
a great injury in delivering them from Egypt, and leading 
them to Canaan : " Wherefore hath he brought us into this 
land (say they) to fall by the sword ; were it not better for us 
to return into Egypt ?" Numb. xiv. 3. It appeared to them an 
injustice to detain them so long in that frightful wilderness 
where they were wandering, and to expose them to so many 
dangers and battles, before permitting them to enter into the 
promised land. And although, in reading their history, we 
cannot help detesting their presumptuous fury, and their in- 
gratitude, still we must acknowledge that we ourselves often 
fall into their murmurings. For how many christians are there 
who are displeased with the Lord's ways in the guidance of 
their lives ! who will freely say to him, like some of his ancient 
people, Wherefore dost thou treat us so sadly in this wilder- 
ness ? Wherefore dost thou feed us with such poor and light 
bread ? Why dost thou provide so little for us ? We are in 
continual fears, in the midst of serpents and venomous crea- 
tures, surrounded on all sides with the swords of our enemies. 
What is the use of this heavy cross under which we groan ? 
Would it not be better if thou wert to lead us to the inherit- 
ance that thou hast promised us by a pleasant and agreeable 
road, strewed with flowers, and abounding with pleasures ? To 
these general murmurs each adds his own peculiar complaint ; 
one asking God the reason of the poverty into which he is 
plunged ; another, of the sicknesses wherewith he is afflicted : 
some, of the persecutions they endure ; others, of the ill suc- 
cess of their designs : one, of the death of his children ; another, 
of their life: one, of sterility; another, of fecundity: and all 
pretending that if there be not injustice, at any rate there is 
no reason for his treating them thus; and that if it were not 
necessary, at least it would have been more suitably ordered 

It often happens also that we murmur against the truth of 
God, whether for the things themselves which are set forth, or 
for the manner in which they are taught. Such was the mur- 
mur of the people of Capernaum, of whom John tells us in 
his Gospel ; who, offended because the Lord declared that he 
is the bread that came down from heaven, said, " Is not this 
Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know ?" 
John vi. 42. Some among his own disciples allowed them- 
selves to be carried away with the same fault : " This is a hard 
saying, (say they,) who can hear it ?" John vi. 60. Thus we 
every day see people who murmur ; some, against the predes- 
tination of God, which the apostle teaches us ; others, against 
the incarnation, or the propitiation of the Lord Jesus Christ, 


and against divers other articles of his wholesome doctrine. 
From hence arise the blasphemies, the heresies, the schisms, 
and the rebellions of men. Murmuring is the grain from 
whence spring all these miseries. They first induce doubt and 
irresolution, then debate and dispute, afterwards, aided by pas- 
sion, bring all kinds of evil into the world. And as it is a 
crime full of horror, which attacks the majesty of God, and 
insults it in its tenderest part, it rarely remains unpunished. 
You know how he formerly chastised in a fearful manner the 
murmurs of the ancient people, causing them to be destroyed 
of the destroyer ; as Paul expressly remarks, 1 Cor. x. 10. 
At this time, under the New Testament, it is still more severe 
against this species of sin, as we have less cause to commit it. 
Thus those who murmur are often left to a reprobate mind, 
God giving them up to a spirit of folly, error, and seduction, 
which either precipitates them into atheism, or into supersti- 
tion, or into some other of those frightful abysses in which the 
wicked perish. Let us then fly, beloved brethren, let us fly 
from so dangerous and so deadly a plague ; let us fly from the 
presence and the breath of those who are infected with it. 
May it never happen to us either to utter or to listen to any 
murmur against the truth, or against the providence of our 
good God. Let us adore all the mysteries both of his word 
and of his judgments with profound submission. 

To keep us from this fault, in the first place, let us meditate 
on his word with extreme care, separating diligently the truth 
which it presents from that which men have added to it of 
their own imagination. For I acknowledge that there are a 
great many things which the world would pass for the word 
of God, against which murmuring is just and complaint law- 
ful, as they oppose, not merely the flesh and its interests, but 
right reason and true piety. But when once it appears to us 
that a doctrine is truly and really taught in the word of God, 
then we must receive it with respect. Murmuring is no longer 
permitted. If the flesh be opposed to it, let us stifle its 
thoughts and slay its motions. If reason alleges that she does 
not understand it, that she finds nothing in her own know- 
ledge by which it can be proved ; let us remember how weak 
our reason is, and in how many natural things, the most com- 
mon and usual, she is at a loss. Let us establish the belief of 
the divinity of the scriptures in our hearts by a continual 
meditation of the arguments that God has given us in the 
wonders of their disposition, of their subject, of their order, 
and of their style ; in the predictions which he has scattered 
here and there; in the knowledge of the holiness, of the mira- 
cles, and of the truth of the prophets and apostles, who are 
its writers ; and finally, in the effects that this heavenly doc- 
trine has produced, and that it still produces every day on the 


earth, creating and preserving there a new people, in spite of 
the efforts of Satan and the world. This thought will easily 
repress all our murmurings. For when God speaks, it is for 
man to listen, and to submit his mind to the voice of so glo- 
rious a Majesty. And as to his providence in the guidance of 
our life, if we have well understood the teachings of his word, 
neither shall we find any thing to say against it. I will not 
allege to you here that the potter does what he will with his 
clay, and that we are infinitely more beneath God than the clay 
is beneath the potter. But I will say, that even to examine 
these things by the rules of gentleness and equity, there is no 
father whose goodness and tenderness towards his children 
does not permit him to use whatever we may find harsh in the 
conduct of the Lord towards us. For I would ask, Does the 
father wrong his child when he chastises him ; when he tries 
him ; when he fashions him to true worthiness by hard and 
laborious exercises ; when he keeps him from wine and dice, 
and all the other instruments of debauchery? Where is the 
sensible man who does not see, that this rigour in a father of 
which the child complains is in truth kindness and goodness, 
that it is the chief of his favours, and the most valuable of all 
his attentions ? And why then do you find it strange that 
God, the eternal Father of our spirits, to make us good peo- 
ple, worthy of his name and heaven, should cause us to under- 
go his discipline? Even if we had no inclination to vice, still 
it would be suitable for his glory and our praise, to make our 
virtue appear and shine, which can only do so in those con- 
flicts and trials which weary us. But being full of evil habits, 
of pride, luxury, and effeminacy, having a nature so prone to 
debauchery, that the slightest opportunity tempts it, and the 
least prosperity renders it insupportable, have we any right to 
complain that God takes from us the allurements and food of 
our vices? Believers, consider the troubles that your crimes 
deserve. Consider the inclination that you have for sin. Ex- 
amine the fruits of afflictions, modesty, repentance, disgust 
with the world, and the desire of heaven ; their utility in for- 
warding the glory of Jesus Christ, in edifying men, and in as- 
suring your own commendation; and, far from murmuring 
against God, you will thank him for having treated you in 
such a way, and you will acknowledge that nothing more just, 
nothing more excellent or more divine, could be devised, than 
the conduct which he employs towards his people. If 
in the circumstances of your life, or in those of your 
brethren, something should occur, the reason of which you 
do not perceive, remember that though you may be igno- 
rant of it, you are not on that account to say that there is none. 
Allow that God is wiser than you, and that there is something 
in his ways which is above your comprehension. Have at 


least as much deference for this supreme Monarch as you every 
day yield to the counsels of the kings and princes of the earth, 
whose orders you often respect, although you cannot penetrate 
into their reason. But the apostle means that we should use 
this modesty likewise towards our brethren, and not only 
towards God; that we should have for them also equity and 
respect; that we should not hastily condemn their proceedings. 
Let us consider, that we shall be judged ourselves as we have 
judged others; that we should not put all on the same level 
in their differences with us ; that we should endure their weak- 
nesses even in the faith, being truly but infirmities, without 
murmuring, without complaining of them; like some who 
move heaven and earth about things indifferent, who trouble 
weak consciences with endless questions and debates, and who 
are possessed of such a morbid sensibility, that they thunder 
at and anathematize all errors equally. I say the same in civil 
life, in which we ought to eonduct ourselves towards men, 
whether within or without the church, with gentleness and pa- 
tience. If it sometimes appear that they yield to us or to 
others less friendship, or respect than they ought, if even occa- 
sionally instead of good they render us evil offices, it is ex- 
pedient that we regard them in the most favourable light, not 
imputing it as a crime, but as a last alternative; and even then 
we must do it in so temperate a manner, that in showing them 
their fault, and prosecuting our right, we may neither fall into 
murmurings nor disputings. And this is principally required 
in that which regards either our superiors in the state or in 
the church, or at any rate our equals. For it is chiefly in our 
conduct towards those that murmurings and disputings or 
quarrellings take place. As, for example, if it happen that 
the magistrates issue some order which offends us, or that a 
pastor in the church does not preach or conduct himself to our 
liking. It is in this and similar subjects that the apostle for- 
bids us to murmur. But as for those who are subject to us, 
you see clearly that the remonstrances and complaints that we 
make of their faults, and the resistance that we oppose to 
them, cannot be called murmurs ; neither can the lawsuits, by 
which we prosecute our rights modestly and in a christian-like 
manner before the tribunals of our superiors, whether ecclesi- 
astics or secular, against those who desire unjustly and obsti- 
nately to violate them. 

II. But after having forbidden us to murmur or to dispute, 
the apostle adds, " that ye may be without reproach, and sim- 
ple." In which you see he directs two things ; the one, that 
we should be without reproach, or blameless ; and the other, 
that we should be simple. The first of these directions obliges 
us to a perfect honesty, justice, gentleness, and equity in our 
whole conversation, so that none may have occasion to com- 


plain of us, or to accuse us of having failed in any of the du- 
ties of charity or meekness of which we make profession. 
This is the testimony the Holy Spirit bears to Zacharias and 
to Elisabeth his wife, "that they were both righteous before 
God, walking in all the statutes and ordinances of the Lord 
blameless," Luke i. 6. It is true, that in this place the apostle 
principally regards our conduct towards our neighbour, oppo- 
sing the duty which he requires of us, to the murmurings and 
disputings from which arise the greater part of those com- 
plaints men make to us, and reproaches which they cast upon 
us. He desires, then, that we should so conduct ourselves to- 
wards them that they should have nothing to find fault with in 
our manners : that superiors should receive honour and submis- 
sion from us ; inferiors, care, watchfulness, and love ; equals, af- 
fection and cordial friendship ; the poor, the aid of charity ; the 
afflicted, the soothings of compassion ; those who oblige us, 
gratitude ; those who insult us, meekness ; the old, respect ; 
the young, concord ; the learned, docility ; the ignorant, in- 
struction ; the infirm, support ; those who are without, the at- 
tractions of piety; those who are within, the intercourse of 
union ; and all in general, purity of actions, honesty of words, 
gentleness of mind, courage and vigour in adversity, modesty 
and propriety in prosperity, a soul uncorrupted by sensuality and 
inflexible to the passions, a firm and unshaken innocence, which 
delights in doing good to all, without ever offending any. This 
is what the apostle demands of you, christian. He only de- 
sires that you should not give any just cause of reproach. As 
to events, he does not require you to be warned against them; 
that is to say, he does not mean that men should not blame 
you. It is enough for him that your life should not give them 
any occasion to do so, and that if they rebuke or hate you, 
you may truly say with the psalmist, that they do it without a 
cause, Psal. xxxv. 19. It is very true, that the picture of this 
holy and innocent life, which he asks of you, is so beautiful 
and agreeable, that it naturally pleases all men, that it softens 
their passions, gains their friendship, and often draws from the 
greatest enemies approbation and praise. Witness the lan- 
guage that the pagans formerly held respecting believers: 
" Such a one is a virtuous man, although he is a christian," as 
we read in an ancient author* But nevertheless the malig- 
nity of men is so great, that we cannot always promise our- 
selves success from our innocence. Sometimes it makes them 
angry, and renders our cause suspected. You know of how 
many crimes the Jews formerly charged our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Prince and Pattern of all holiness. His apostles were 
treated by many in the same way, and the bonds in which 



Paul himself was, when he wrote this Epistle, had been pre- 
pared for him only by the calumnies of that unhappy nation. 
We ought not to hope for better treatment either from Satan 
or the world, which are not improved by having grown older. 
But this will be enough, both for their conviction and our 
consolation, that we live in such a way that they can only re- 
proach us with evil by a falsehood. Would to God that we 
were in these circumstances. It would be easy for us to de- 
spise the detractions of the Avorld. But, dear brethren, it 
must be acknowledged, to our shame, the faults of many among 
us exceed the reproaches that are cast upon them, and the im- 
purity of their morals deserves still more blame than the world 
gives them. In the name of God, and as his glory and our 
salvation is dear to us, let us wash out these spots from our 
conversation, and let us render them henceforth so clean be- 
fore heaven and earth, that none may blame us without false- 
hood, nor rebuke us without manifest injustice. 

To this goodness and blameless innocence the apostle adds 
simplicity, the badge of Christianity, which the Lord com- 
manded his disciples in these excellent words, " Be ye harmless 
as doves, and wise as serpents," Matt. x. 16 ; and of which he 
proposed the innocence of a little child, as a fit emblem, in de- 
claring that if we are not changed, and do not become like little 
children, we shall not enter into his kingdom, Matt, xviii. 2, 3. 
The word âicépaioi, here employed by the apostle to express this 
grace probably means sincere ; that is to say, pure, not mixed, 
not sophisticated, that is entirely of one kind, without the true 
and natural constitution having been altered by the admixture 
of any thing foreign to it. And it appears that, to set forth 
this simplicity and sincerity, God formerly forbade his ancient 
people to plant a vineyard with different kinds of plants, and 
to unite under the same yoke animals of different species, and 
to clothe themselves with a cloth of linen and woollen mixed 
together, to teach us by the enigma of these figures that he 
hates a mind and life double and variegated, in the composition 
of which enter vice and virtue, good and evil, piety and super- 
stition. He wishes us to be entirely christians, and that there 
should be nothing strange in the whole range of our conver- 
sation ; that the outside and the inside should be of the same 
nature, the one exactly corresponding to the other ; that the 
form, colour, and substance of our lives should be simple, and 
not mixed. And although this virtue is very extended, it may, 
nevertheless, be referred to four principal heads : in the first 
place, that we should be without hypocrisy before God, ac- 
knowledging and confessing ourselves such in .his presence as 
we are in truth, without lessening the good which there is, 
without also hiding interior defects and the secret disgrace of 
our souls with the paint and false colouring of our artifices, 


imitating tlie coarse fraud of our first father, who, having re- 
nounced the naked simplicity in which he had been formed, 
wished to disguise himself before that sovereign Majesty by 
covering himself with fig leaves. It is also one of the features 
of christian simplicity not to counterfeit before men, any more 
than before God, giving up frauds, pretences, and dissimula- 
tions, crooked and equivocal ways, which the people of the 
world use, to make their neighbours believe of them the con- 
trary of what they really are. In the third place, simplicity 
comprehends under it, or at least certainly draws after it, gen- 
tleness and meekness of mind ; it is not easily irritated, or if 
irritation should sometimes arise, it is soon appeased, and in 
reality loses the remembrance of the offences that have been 
committed against it. Finally, simplicity is exempt from cu- 
riosity ; it only employs itself on its own business ; and, en- 
tirely turned within, does not observe very carefully what 
passes without, from whence it is neither suspicious nor dis- 
trustful. When, then, the apostle orders us to be simple, he 
forbids all these vices, and commends all those virtues that are 
opposed to them. He desires that we should be christians in- 
deed, walking sincerely and boldly according to our profession, 
having in the heart, and in every part and action of our life, 
that same Christ and that same gospel which we have in the 
lips and on the tongue. And what follows shows this very 
clearly, when he adds, " That ye may be children of God, with- 
out rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, 
among whom ye shine as lights in the world ; holding forth 
the word of life." 

III. In the latter part of this text, the apostle, continuing 
his exhortation to the Philippians, sets before them many 
reasons which compel them to the holiness which he asks from 
them. I acknowledge (says he) that this innocence, and in- 
tegrity, and simplicity, without rebuke, to which I call you, 
are things rare and unheard of upon earth, and far above the 
ability of men. But then you are not men of this world. 
Your origin is not from the earth. You are the children of 
God, and lights of the world. As your origin and end are 
above the earth, so should your life be also. It ought to bear 
in all its parts the marks of its author, and the qualities neces- 
sary for the purpose for which he gave it you. In saying to 
them, then, " that ye may be the children of God, without re- 
buke," he shows them what ought to be their manner of life, 
that is to say, holy and heavenly ; and for the same end sets 
before them a reason which compels them, namely, their ex- 
traction and their quality. To speak correctly, the Father has 
no other Son than our Lord Jesus Christ, begotten from all 
eternity, of the same substance and the same nature as himself, 
almighty and eternal God, all-wise and infinite, as himself. But 


the scripture also attributes, figuratively, this title of " children 
of God " to those among men to whom this great and glorious 
Lord has deigned in some measure to communicate his divine 
nature, by the work of his heavenly Spirit, forming in their 
minds, by the light that he there sheds, some features of that 
holiness, peace, and supreme joy in which blessedness consists, 
and destining them to his most blessed immortality, of which 
he gives them here the pledges and first-fruits, reserving for 
them its substance and its fulness in another world. All those 
to whom he has given these rich gifts of his grace have the 
honour to be called, in his scriptures, " his children, his heirs, 
his brethren, and co-heirs with him." As John tells us, that 
Jesus Christ has given to all those who believe in his name the 
right to become children of God, as to those who are not born 
of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, 
but of God, John i. 12, 13. As, then, the Philippians had re- 
ceived the gospel of the Lord, and believed in his name, they 
were children of God. This is what the apostle recalled to 

But he does not simply say, that they may be children of 
God. He adds, " without rebuke," or without blame, and with- 
out reproach ; for that is the meaning of the Greek word which 
he uses. Why did he add this word ? Does he mean to say 
that there are two sorts of children of God, some blâmable, 
others not ? God forbid, beloved brethren. The glory of this 
great name only belongs to those whose lives are irreproach- 
able, and whose morals are pure and unblamable. But although 
in truth this praise only belongs to children of God, there are 
still a great many people who call themselves children of God, 
who make profession of being so, and have the appearance, 
the language, and other exterior marks of it, who, with all this, 
do not cease to lead a shameful and scandalous life, full of de- 
bauchery and vice. It is to separate us from these that the 
apostle commands us to be children of God, without rebuke 
and without reproach ; as if he had said, not bastards, or coun- 
terfeits, but true and legitimate children, worthy of this glo- 
rious title, and whom none can reproach with any of those evil 
qualities which are incompatible with the truth of this name. 
" That ye may be children of God, without rebuke, and with- 
out reproach." Be in truth what you make profession of being. 
That your life may not supply your accusers with any proof 
against your language, nor any just and reasonable reproach 
against the dignity you take that may compel you to renounce 
it. For as you see that in the world art counterfeits precious 
stones and drugs, exchanging them for others of little value, 
which they pass off for good by favour of some apparent re- 
semblance which they have to the true ; so also in the church 
there has always been found a number of cheats, who, deceiv- 


in g themselves and others, take the colour and form of the 
children of God, although in reality they are not so. And as 
there are certain means by which adulterated goods, such as the 
gold and stones of alchemy, are discerned from the true ; so 
also in religion there are marks and certain proofs whereby 
those may be known who have only the name of children of 
God from those who are so in reality. Those who sustain 
these trials, and in whom are really found all these marks, are 
they whom the apostle here very elegantly calls " children of 
God, without rebuke ;" those whom the crucible cannot make 
to blush ; those in whom neither the calumny nor the cunning 
of the enemy can find any thing to lay hold of; such as the 
scripture sets forth in a Job, who confounded all the artifices 
of Satan, and justified most fully by his trials the glorious tes- 
timony which God had condescended to bear to him with his 
own mouth. And here, dear brethren, it is not needful that I 
should enlarge upon or set forth these divine and inimitable 
marks of the true children of God. Their name sufficiently 
shows you in what they consist : in a serious and constant 
imitation of him whose children they are ; in real charity to- 
wards men, in kindness, holiness, and purity ; in fleeing from 
all pursuits likely to displease our heavenly Father ; and in 
studying and practising his will, according to the doctrine of 
John, " All that is born of God overcometh the world ;" and, 
" Whosoever is born of God doth not sin, because the seed of 
God remaineth in him," 1 John v. 4 ; iii. 9. From which it 
appears that when the apostle here wishes that we may be the 
children of God, without rebuke, he calls us by these words to 
a peculiar sanctification ; as if he directed us to renounce all 
the filth and impurity of vice, all the meannesses and vanities 
of the world, to lead henceforth a spiritual and heavenly life, 
that may be full of that purity and innocence, that zeal and 
charity, which are found in heaven, the holy and blessed king- 
dom of our eternal Father. 

But besides the form of this sanctification, the name of 
" children of God," he also proposes motives and reasons for 
it. For as this name warns us that we so closely belong to 
this supreme Lord, is it not reasonable that we should imitate 
him with all our powers, and that we should show forth the 
fruits of his Spirit, and the marks of his blood, in all the ac- 
tions of our life ? Where is the man, the offspring of a noble 
and illustrious father, whose soul is not roused by the remem- 
brance of his birth, and animated with thoughts worthy of his 
extraction ? And does not this incomparable favour that God 
has done us still more incite us to this feeling? For from 
slaves of the devil we see ourselves, by his kindness, become 
children of the supreme God. What a heart we must have 
if the consideration of such a high privilege does not affect 


us! But that blessed immortality which this glorious name 
promises us, ought also to excite us forcibly to run with all our 
strength towards this divine end of our calling, and to employ 
us night and day on sanctification, without which, whatever 
the flesh may promise or hope, no one shall ever see the Lord. 
In the following words the apostle puts still another con- 
sideration before the eyes of these Philippians, which ought not 
less to influence their love and their study of a spiritual life ; 
it is that they were " in the midst of a crooked and perverse 
generation." He, doubtless, borrowed this expression from 
the song of Moses, where they are found in the Greek version, 
when the prophet, inveighing against the infidelity of the Is- 
raelites, that they have corrupted themselves towards the Lord, 
calls them " a crooked and perverse generation," Deut. xxxii. 
3. He applies these words to the Gentiles and to the Jews, 
among whom then lived the faithful of Philippi. From which 
we may learn, in the first place, what is the condition of men 
who are out of Jesus Christ; they are (says the apostle) "a 
crooked and perverse generation," which have nothing right 
or simple either in their religion or morals, whose whole life 
is only a confused labyrinth, entangled in a thousand wind- 
ings, without issue, without guide, and without any light. 
Judge from this, in passing, what a situation men are in by 
their natural strength, and that it is to the Spirit of God alone 
to which ought to be attributed the glory of all that is correct 
and wise in us. From this you may also see what is the situ- 
ation of the church whilst sojourning here below. She sub- 
sists, like these Philippian christians, surrounded by a mul- 
titude of enemies. It is a Lot in Sodom, an ark of Noah in 
the deluge, the Hebrew children in the furnace of Babylon, a 
little island beaten on all sides b} r a great and infinite sea. It 
is true that the church is not always equally mixed with this 
crooked generation ; it is true that she has sometimes more 
elbow-room, the nation in which she dwells being either fa- 
vourable to her doctrine, or less enemies to it than were the 
fellow countrymen of the Philippians. But however it may 
be, there are always many hypocrites and sensual and unre- 
generate people in those very places where profession is made 
of its creed. What the apostle here says to the Philippians 
is suitable, in some measure, to all christians, according to 
what the oracle has predicted of Jesus Christ, that he shall 
reign in the midst of his enemies. But as we have to thank 
God that he has so favoured us as to separate us from the gen- 
eration of this world ; so ought we to take heed that we have 
nothing in common with its manners, faithfully keeping our- 
selves unpolluted in the midst of its corruption. And as nat- 
uralists say that there are rivers which run through lakes 
without mingling their waters with them, may we flow to- 


gether in this world without uniting in its ways, preserving 
all the colour, strength, and substance of our divine source ; 
may we be truly that people of God, of which Balaam for- 
merly said, " The} 7, shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned 
among the nations ;" always strangers in the world, although 
living on the earth, and breathing its air; floating in the midst 
of its waters without being confounded with them ; walking 
in its fires without being burnt ; constantly remaining upright, 
perfect, sincere, and unrebukable in the midst of all its ob- 
liquities and perversities. This mixed state of our existence 
obliges us to do so, my brethren. For as you see in the world 
that things contract and concentrate all their powers, uniting 
them that they may preserve the qualities and perfections 
of their nature, when they are surrounded by their opposites, 
which is what the schools of philosophy call " antiperistasis," 
so should we also do in religion. When we find ourselves 
enclosed and besieged on all sides by the adversaries of our 
profession, it is then that we must more than ever draw into 
ourselves, collecting all the strength we have to oppose the 
enemy, to maintain our faith and our holiness entire against 
the violence of contrary examples ; let it still more shine 
forth, the more it is pressed down. But besides our preserva- 
tion, the consideration of other men compels us to do so, God 
having thus mingled and dispersed us in the midst of a per- 
verse generation, that we may gain some, and straighten its 
crooked ways by the efforts of our piety ; or at least, if the 
children of this world do not amend, that we may one day 
serve to convict them of having despised the riches of divine 
grace which we would offer them. 

And this is the third reason that the apostle places before 
us, representing the service that we ought to render to the 
children of this world: "Among whom ye shine as lights in 
the world, holding forth the word of life." Some take these 
words for a commandment, and read them thus ; " Shine ye 
among them as lights." But both come to the same meaning. 
For it is clear that in the main the apostle sets before us the 
dignity and the destiny of believers by a brilliant simile, saying 
that they are lights or luminaries of the world, and that there- 
fore their office is to shine among men. The comparison may 
have been drawn either from artificial lights, which men light 
that they may shine during the darkness of the night, and es- 
pecially of those that are placed on light-houses to guide ves- 
sels which are sailing on the sea, in showing them the port, 
and pointing out their course ; or from the luminaries of na- 
ture which God has placed in order in the heavens, the moon 
and the stars ; and this last meaning is plainer and more mag- 
nificent, and even, in my opinion, more in accordance with 
the words of the apostle, who says, " shine as lights in the 


world ;" consequently rather meaning the lights of the world 
than those of our houses. The Lord had from the begin- 
ning used this comparison, when, speaking to the father of the 
faithful, he told him that his posterity should be as the stars 
of heaven ; having by that, besides the multitude of his chil- 
dren, signified also their quality and their excellence. Thus 
you see that the world is, as it were, the emblem or portrait 
of the church. In the world God has placed the sun, to be 
there the inexhaustible source of visible light. In the church 
he has placed the Lord Jesus, the fountain of all intellectual 
light, the Sun of righteousness, and the Light of the world. 
Besides the sun, God created the moon and the stars in the 
universe, that, during the darkness of the night, they might 
console the world by their brightness. The whole body of 
the church in general is as a mystical moon, which, during the 
absence of its sun, sheds its light upon the earth. Each of 
the faithful, in particular, is as a star ; they are, in truth, of 
divers forms and magnitudes, but nevertheless all shining ac- 
cording to the measure of grace that has been given to them. 
And, as, according to the very probable opinion of the most 
learned mathematicians, all those stars which are nearest to the 
earth, that is to say the planets, borrow from the sun all the 
light they have ; thus, also, the church collectively, and be- 
lievers individually, have all their brilliancy, their life, and 
their glory from Jesus Christ alone, their great Sun, in whom 
dwells bodily all the fulness of knowledge and wisdom. 

From this it appears how great is the dignity of believers. 
For as among all material bodies there are none comparable 
to the stars of heaven in beauty and perfection ; so, of all men, 
believers are, without doubt, the happiest and the best gifted. 
Christians ! rejoice in the glory to which the Lord has raised 
you, and possess it with extreme content in the midst of the 
troubles and agitations of this world. But do not forget the 
service and the edification that you owe to the world. As the 
stars of heaven do not shine for themselves, nor hide their 
light, but communicate it liberally to all parts of the universe, 
sending it from the highest heavens to the lowest and most 
distant regions, piercing, by the power of their rays, into all 
these great spaces which are between us and them ; do also 
the same, holy and mystical stars of Jesus Christ. Shed all 
around you the rays of the faith and holiness that he has com- 
municated to you. Share them with men. May the innocence 
and kindness of your life continually enlighten the darkness 
of their ignorance, and give them the means of seeing salva- 
tion, and being led into it. This is precisely what the apostle 
means, when he says that you shine in the midst of a perverse 
generation as lights in the world. And this is what the Lord 
had already commanded his disciples, saying to them, " Men 


do not light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a can- 
dlestick that it may give light to all that are in the house. So 
let your light shine before men, that tbey may see your good 
works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven," Matt. v. 
15, 16. But the apostle, to explain this more clearly, after 
having called believers " lights," adds, " holding forth the word 
of life." The word which he uses* does not simply mean to 
have a thing in possession, but rather to hold it forth, to show 
it, and to present it to others. He means, then, that as the 
stars have not only in themselves this beautiful and lively 
light with which God has clothed them, but present it and 
show it to other creatures that they may enjoy it, and that this 
is what makes them lights and luminaries of the world ; so 
also christians ought not only to have, and faithfully keep in 
themselves, this heavenly truth that Jesus Christ has given 
them, but also to show it forth, and place it before the eyes of 
other men, that they may be enlightened with the knowledge 
of God, and be, by these means, the true lights of the human 

As to the stars of the world, the light that they shed here be- 
low only enlightens the living ; it does not give life; or if it con- 
tributes any thing to life, all its power only serves to the sup- 
port of earthly and animal life ; whilst the light of believers 
is capable of quickening the dead, and of communicating to 
them true life, alone worthy of this glorious and immortal 
name. For the light that they hold forth is, as the apostle 
says, " the word of life." It is the gospel of our Lord Jesus 
Christ that he means ; and he gives it this name in the same 
sense as Peter had already said, speaking to the Lord, " To 
whom shall we go ? Thou hast the words of eternal life," 
John vi. 68, to distinguish this wholesome doctrine from the 
learning of the wise of this world, more capable of wearying 
man than of edifying him ; and with the law of Moses, which 
considered in itself, was the ministration of death. Whereas 
the gospel of Christ being received into our hearts by faith, 
brings there, as a living and eternal light, consolation and 
joy, the love of God and of our neighbour, and finally, that 
life and that immortality which are therein brought to light. 
Judge from hence, believers, how desirous those are of the 
salvation of christian people who hide from them this holy 
word of life, and, far from giving it to them that they may 
hold it forth and present it to all, as the apostle here says, are 
not even willing that they should either see it or read it, 
making them believe that it is a word of death, capable of 
killing them by its obscurities and pretended difficulties, whilst 
this holy man of God assures us that it is the word of life, the 



only light that is capable of enlightening and quickening men. 
God be for ever blessed, who has condescended to rekindle 
this divine light among us, driving away and dissipating, by 
the strength of its light, that darkness and those thick mists 
of abuses and errors with which ignorance and superstition 
have filled the world. Let us rejoice in its light. Let us listen 
to and diligently study this holy word of life. Let us learn 
all its secrets. Let us love it as our sole advantage over others ; 
let us impress it on our memories, and lodge it in our under- 
standings. May it be the usual subject of our thoughts and 
of our conversation. But above all, may it be the rule of our 
affections, and the guide of our life ; may it govern it in every 
way, and be absolutely obeyed. For it is nothing to hear and 
to speak of it if we do not receive it with faith ; if it do not 
penetrate our souls, and change all their dispositions, conform- 
ing them to the image of the Lord. Without this effect, 
the knowledge that we have of it will turn to our condemna- 
tion. For it is to offend God to take his holy word of life 
into an impious or profane mouth ; added to which, it is to 
lessen its effect upon other men. For how can you expect that 
they should have faith in what you say, if your life testifies 
that you do not believe it yourself? If, then, you have any 
desire either for your own salvation, or for the improvement 
of others, beloved brethren, obey the commandment of the 
apostle ; reject the works of darkness ; clothe yourselves with 
the armour of light, Eom. xiii. 14. Be truly children of God 
without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse genera- 
tion. Shine among the people of the world as the lights of 
the world, holding forth, and presenting to all, the word of 
life. It is the praise and the title of true believers. 

Such, in primitive times, was the church of Jesus Christ, 
clothed with the sun, and shining in every place where it 
dwelt with a wholesome light. Its associations were like a 
great torch, throwing on all sides, as it were, so many living 
rays of words and holy works, full of honesty, righteousness, 
temperance, modesty, and charity. Thus it pierced, in a short 
time, the darkness of paganism, thick and frightful as it was ; 
it dissipated error; it disclosed the horrors of hell; it con- 
founded devils, and forced the world to worship that same 
truth that it had so long and so cruelly persecuted. The light 
of the saints' lives contributed more to his work than their mi- 
racles. Such also was this new people whom God formed, in 
the time of our fathers, by the power of his gospel. They 
were truly the lights of the world, in whom shone the pure 
light of knowledge and holiness. There was so much bril- 
liancy in their manners, that it was immediately acknowledged 
wherever they showed themselves. The gravity, gentleness, 
and courtesy of their words, seasoned with the salt of grace, 


and free from all the oaths and filth with which the people of 
the world filled the whole of their discourse; the openness, 
sincerity, and candour of their conversation, void of all ma- 
lice ; the love that they had one for another, the sobriety of 
their repasts, the modesty of their dress, the good nurture of 
their families, the abundance of their alms, the strictness of 
their lives, quite retired into the service of heaven, without 
taking any part in the excesses or the vanities and pastimes 
of the world ; their zeal for the glory of the Lord : all these 
things, I sa}*-, distinguished them from the rest of mankind, 
and made them sparkle and shine among them as the stars of 
the firmament in the darkness of night. But, grief! the 
deceits of the enemy have, by degrees, stripped us of this glo- 
rious and brilliant appearance. He has tarnished, by different 
artifices, the brightness of our light, and has covered us with 
the darkness of vice. He has taken from us the marks which 
separated us from the world, and, so to speak, has snatched us 
from heaven where we shone, and has cast us down into the 
dust, and plunged us in the mire. Our manners are no longer 
illustrious or remarkable. In them are as many or more spots 
than in the lives of the people of the world. We run hastily 
into all their excesses. We amuse ourselves, and are foolish 
like them. The same avarice, the same ambition, the same 
cupidhVy- occupy the one as the other. Our discourses, our 
designs are as earthly and as low as theirs. Murmurings and 
disputings, fraud, injustice, and perfidy, take place as well 
amongst us as them. Even in these holy assemblies our cor- 
ruption is felt ; that respectful modesty which formerly shone 
there has evidently relaxed, and is giving place to contempt, 
talking, and ridicule. Dear brethren, how can we, after so 
unworthy a change, be still called the children of God, and 
lights of the world? By what right can we take the glory of 
so high a title? Who does not see, that, having lost the thing, 
we have also lost the name? Notwithstanding which, consi- 
der, I pray you, the consequence of this loss. Your eternal 
salvation is concerned in it, none having a share in that 
blessed life who are not children of God ; none can. shine in 
heaven in the kingdom of glory who have not first shone here 
in the kingdom of grace. And do not imagine that this only 
relates to the ministers of the gospel. Paul here speaks of all 
believers. Of whatever order you may be, if you wish to be 
members of Jesus Christ, you must be a star and a light of the 
world. Let us, then, turn our hearts towards this great Sun 
of righteousness; let us open our minds to him, and beseech 
him most humbly to rekindle there his extinguished lights, 
faith, love, zeal, righteousness, and holiness; so that, filled 
with his light, we may edify our neighbours; and after having 
shone here below in the midst of a perverse generation, we 


may one day shine above in the heavens with angels and saints. 

Preached at Charenton, Sunday, 11th March, 1641. 


VERSES 16 — 18. 

That Irnay rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, 
neither laboured in vain. Yea, and if I be offered* upon the 
sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you 
all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with 

Dear brethren, there is so close a union between the minis- 
ters of the gospel, and the churches which they build up in 
the Lord, that their joys and sorrows are in common. And as 
in the world a fine and fruitful flock is the riches of the shep- 
herd, an honest and well-conducted family the joy and honour 
of the father, a happy and flourishing state the strength and 
glory of the prince ; so also in the kingdom of Jesus Christ, a 
holy and blessed church, abounding in the fruits of righteous- 
ness, is the crown, the joy, and the triumph of its pastors. 
This is the reason why the apostle Paul, having in the prece- 
ding verses powerfully exhorted the Phiiippians, whom he had 
built up and instructed in the Lord, to a purity and holiness 
of life, worthy of their heavenly calling, represents to them 
the fruits that will spring from it ; " Be ye without rebuke, 
simple and unreprovable, children of God in the midst of a 
crooked and perverse generation, shining as lights in the 
world, holding forth the word of life;" he now adds, ".that I 
may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, 
neither laboured in vain." It is as if he had said to them, Do 
not be astonished that I so warmly and carefully press you to 
live holily, and in agreement with the rules of the gospel. 
Besides the love that I bear you, and that makes me desire 
your happiness, it also concerns my own interest. Your piety 
is my honour, and your holiness my glory. You are the field 
from whence, in the day of the appearing of the Lord Jesus, 
I hope to reap the praise which I look for as the reward of my 
labour. Then, to show them how much he prized and desired 
that glory, he declares to them in the following words, that to 

* French, " poured forth.'' 


acquire it he was ready cheerfully to shed his blood, and to 
crown with his death the other labours of his sacred ministry : 
"Yea, and if I be poured forth upon the sacrifice and service 
of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all." And that this 
declaration might not grieve them, he adds, that if the Lord 
permitted it to be so, they would also in truth have a great 
cause of consolation and rejoicing: "For the same cause also 
do ye joy, and rejoice with me." Thus we have three points 
of which to treat in this discourse, that by the help of God we 
may give you an entire explanation of this text. In the first 
place, Of the glory that would accrue to the apostle from the 
piety and holiness of the Philippians; secondly, Of his free 
and cheerful resolution to die for the building up of their 
faith ; and, in the third and last place, Of the joy that they 
ought to have in themselves when the Lord should call him to 

I. As to the first point, the apostle does not simply say that 
it would turn to his glory that the church of the Philippians 
should live well and holily; he says more, that he shoald 
glory in it, which seems contrary, at first sight, to what he 
elsewhere forbids, viz., that believers should glory in any 
thing but the Lord. But I reply that it is also in the Lord 
that he hopes and professes here to glory. For although we 
cannot without injustice and without vanity boast of the least 
thing which relates to the kingdom of God, nor attribute any 
part to ourselves without offending the Lord ; yet, after hav- 
ing humbled ourselves under his feet, and having acknow- 
ledged that all we are is by his pure grace alone, as well as all 
that we have done in him, it is not forbidden, it is even com- 
manded, us to behold with admiration, to celebrate and to re- 
present with joy, the works of his goodness in us, looking at 
them in ourselves, and showing them to others, as the fruits 
of his mercy and of his power, and not as the effects of our 
own courage. It is thus that the apostle teaches us elsewhere, 
that we should rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, and 
even in tribulations, receiving them as so many seals of our 
glory ; whilst they produce patience, and patience experience, 
and experience hope, which maketh not ashamed. It is in 
this sense that the perseverance and progress of the disciples 
of Paul in piety gave him cause for rejoicing. In fact, he 
often thus rejoices in his Epistles, alleging the success of his 
labour as so many illustrious and glorious marks of his divine 
vocation, and of the power which the Lord had designed to 
display in him to the furtherance of his kingdom, and to the 
salvation of men ; as when he says in the Epistle to the Ro- 
mans, that he hath whereof to glory in Jesus Christ for the 
things which belong to God, afterwards setting out the mag- 
nificent effects of his sacred ministry : "For I will not dare to 


speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought 
by me to make the Gentiles obedient by word and deed, 
through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spi- 
rit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto 
Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ," Eom. 
xv. 18, 19. And elsewhere, in the same manner, he draws 
proofs of his apostleship from the great success of his labours 
among the Corinthians : " Are not ye my work in the Lord ? 
If I be not an apostle unto others, yet, doubtless, I am to you, 
for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. Mine an- 
swer to them that do examine me is this," 1 Cor. ix. 1 — 3. 
And it is in this sense, and for this same reason, that he 
afterwards calls the Philippians his joy and crown, that is 
to say, the subject and matter of his joy and glory that 
he had before God and his saints, of being the apostle 
and minister of Christ, a thousand times greater and more il- 
lustrious glory than all the crowns of the earth. Thus you see 
that the apostle then rejoiced in the fruit of his painful labours, 
gathering from their success great and ineffable content, which 
he did not hide, but showed it and communicated it freely to 
others whenever the occasion required it. This is what he 
calls to " rejoice." In truth he had every reason in the world 
to do so. For what can one picture to oneself more delight- 
ful or more glorious than to have freely preached the gospel 
of Jesus Christ in all the universe ? If it be an exploit worthy 
of being crowned with public gratitude and praise to have 
saved a citizen from death, as the most virtuous of all people 
formerly judged ; what, then, ought to be the crown and the 
glory of the apostle, who had delivered, not one or two men, 
but churches and nations, and, if one may so speak, an entire 
world, not simply from death, but from hell, from the darkness 
of ignorance, from the slavery of idolatry, and from the curse 
of God ; not to preserve them in mortal and perishable life, 
but to put them in possession of the blessing of a happy im- 
mortality ; not with arms and by shedding the blood of others, 
but by holy and pure preaching, which by saving some did 
not injure others, which, to preserve the citizen, did not wound 
the enemy ? True it is, that the world did not acknowledge 
this glory ; that the greater part of the Jews and Gentiles, 
blinded by the rage of their malice, turned this honour into 
shame, disgracing, in every possible way, both the design and 
the work of the apostle. But their fury did not prevent this 
holy man from experiencing his happiness, and from that time 
rejoicing in his glory in the secrecy of his conscience, and in 
the judgment of believers. 

Nor does he stop at the fruits that he drew from it in this 
world. He looked much further. For he does not simply 
say, Live well, that I may rejoice ; he adds, " in the day of 


Christ." We usually call, in the church, the day which Jesus 
Christ was raised from the dead, " the day of the Lord ;" and it 
appears also that John means thus in the Apocalypse, when he 
says " that he was in the Spirit on the Lord's day," Rev. i. 21. 
But the scripture both here and elsewhere much oftener uses 
these words in another sense, meaning the day of the last judg- 
ment to which the Lord Jesus will come from heaven in the 
glory of the Father to judge both the quick and dead, as we 
have before remarked, (Sermon I. p. 26,) where we proved to 
you that this method of speaking is drawn from the Old Tes- 
tament, which usually calls the day of the Lord, as you may 
see in many places in the prophets, the time in which God wiil 
display his judgments on men, both in delivering his church, 
and in punishing the wicked. For though he dispenses and 
governs all parts of time, and though, properly speaking, there 
is no day which is not his, nevertheless, those" destined for the 
execution of his judgments belong to him in a peculiar man- 
ner. If we look at the exterior of things, it appears as if he 
abandoned other times to disorder and confusion, leaving it in 
the power of Satan to dispose of and abuse them to the execu- 
tion of his pernicious designs, from whence it arises that our 
Lord Jesus Christ calls them the hour of the wicked : " This is 
your hour, and the power of darkness," said he to the Jews, 
Luke xxii. 53, speaking of the time they were about putting him 
to death. But when God comes to display his arm, confound- 
ing his enemies, and consoling his children by some grand and 
illustrious act of his providence, constraining the most obsti- 
nate to acknowledge that it is the work of his hand, then it is 
truly his day, his time, set apart and employed for his work. 
And as there shines in all judgment some representation of this 
proceeding of God, it hence arises that when the word " day," 
is used in connection with any judge who manifests his author- 
ity, justice, and power in the exercise of his office, it is taken 
simply to mean judgment ; as when Paul says in the First 
Corinthians, " that it is a small thing for him to be judged of 
man's day," chap. iv. 3 ; that is to say, by the judgment of men, 
as our Bibles have translated it. Perhaps from this has arisen 
that method of speaking common in our language, calling "the 
great days" the time of judgment, which the prince appoints in 
this kingdom by the parliaments, which he sends sometimes 
extraordinarily into the provinces. Now because of all the 
judgments that the Lord displays in the world, exercising in 
different ways the power which the Father has given him in 
seating him at his right hand, there is none so remarkable or 
so illustrious as the last, when coming from heaven with his 
angels in supreme and incomprehensible glory, he will make 
all men appear before his throne, and will give to every one 
according to his works; from whence it arises that the great 


day destined for the execution of this by the certain and im- 
mutable counsel of God, is particularly called the day of Christ 
on account of its excellence : and it is for the same reason that 
it is sometimes simply called " that day ;" as when Paul prays 
God would grant to Onesiphorus "to find mercy of the Lord 
in that day," that is to say, in the last day, 2 Tim. i. 18 ; and 
again, in 2 Thess. i. 10, he in like manner says, "that the Lord 
in that day shall be admired in all that believe;" and some ex- 
cellent expositors take in the same sense the phrase, " that the 
day shall declare every man's work," 1 Cor. iii. 13. It is in 
this great day, then, that the apostle wishes to rejoice at the 
success of his labour in the church of the Philippians. It is 
then that he expects the fruit of their obedience to his word ; 
and he speaks of it also to the Corinthians and Thessalonians 
in the same manner : " You are our glory (says he to the for- 
mer) in the day of the Lord Jesus," 2 Cor. i. 14 ; and to the 
latter, " What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are 
not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his 
coming?" 1 Thess. ii. 19. It is not as we have already no- 
ticed, that he does not rejoice in the days of his flesh at the 
fruit of his labour, the conversion and piety of these fine and 
flourishing churches planted and increased by the efficacy of 
his preaching, giving him, doubtless, even then an extreme 
satisfaction of mind. But he puts it off to the last day, because 
he here comprehends in it their perseverance in holiness, over 
which he could not then rejoice or glory, seeing that he could 
not have an entire and firm assurance of their state for the fu- 
ture. The conversion of the Galatians had been to him in the 
beginning a subject of joy and triumph. Their error had since 
changed his satisfaction into anxiety, and his hope to fear, 
when he saw them quitting the good road and following the 
seduction of false apostles. This, then, was a sly goad to stir 
up the Philippians to constancy and perseverance in the faith ; 
as if he said., Do in such a manner that I may rejoice and glory 
in your piety, not here only, where everything is changeable, 
but also in the great day of Christ; that the good beginnings 
which I have seen and still see among you may be persevered 
in and crowned with constancy ; that time may cause no change 
in them, if it be not for the better ; so that when the Lord shall 
appear, after our combats are ended, I may then also have 
cause to say with joy, to your glory and mine, that I have not 
laboured in vain. Preserve this crown whole and inviolable 
for me to the end of the world ; so that in no time to come 
shall incidents or trials either wither, tarnish, or diminish its 
beauty and glory. 

But besides this reason, the apostle has thus used it, accord- 
ing to his usual style, always to carry us back to the last day, 
because then will be the final and complete perfection of our 


life and glory. Till then there is always something to say 
about our happiness. Here the flesh, the world, and our infir- 
mities oppose our comfort. Even in heaven itself, where our 
souls will be received at their parting from this valley of tears, 
we shall not have the full and complete satisfaction of our de- 
sires; this poor flesh, which is a part of our being, remaining 
in ruin under the empire of corruption and worms ; and a 
part of our company still fighting on the earth. But in that 
great day of the Lord, our whole nature and our whole broth- 
erhood being fully and completely delivered both from evil 
and fear, our joy and glory will be perfect in every respect. 
Nothing will then be wanting to it. All our desires will be en- 
tirely satisfied. As in that great day the works of believers 
will be produced and displayed before the eyes of heaven and 
earth, their alms, their love, even the smallest fruit of their 
piety, we cannot doubt but that the troubles and the successes 
of those of them who served the gospel will also appear in that 
supreme light. Paul teaches us this expressly, when speaking 
of them particularly, he says, that they shall receive the reward 
of their work, 1 Cor. iii. 14; "and then shall every man have 
praise of God," I Cor. iv. 5. And Daniel had already foretold 
long before Paul, "that those who turn many to righteousness 
shall shine," in that happy time, " as the stars for ever and 
ever," Dan. xii. 3. How admirable and how great will then 
be the glory of this great apostle, when, accompanied by 
so many millions of believers that he had formerly begot- 
ten by the gospel, he shall present himself before the throne of 
his Master, saying, with the prophet, "Behold, I and the chil- 
dren whom thou hast given me !" This is the fruit of the 
talent that thou committedst to me. It is the production 
of the grace that thou bestowedst upon me. What will 
be the joy of his heart to see himself thus miraculously 
multiplied ! What will be the satisfaction of his disciples 
thus to promote his glory ! And how great will be their com- 
mon delight to hear the Son of God praise the preaching of 
the one, and the obedience of the others, all being together re- 
ceived into the heavenly Jerusalem with the blessings and 
applause of men and angels ! That is exactly what the apostle 
means when he says, that he shall rejoice in the day of the 
Lord " that he has not run in vain, neither laboured in vain." 
You know that he often compares the life and plans of belie- 
vers, and particularly of the ministers of the gospel, to a race ; 
so that he here means by this race, and the labour of which he 
speaks, the trouble that he had taken, and still took daily, to 
instruct, teach, and admonish the Philippians in the doctrine 
of salvation, and all the functions of his apostleship towards 
them. It is true that the praise of the servants of Jesus Christ 
does not properly depend on the success of their labours. For 


if they acquit themselves faithfully in their office, their reward 
is certain from God, in whatever manner men may receive 
their preaching, as the Lord expressly declares to them in 
Ezekiel, "If thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it, 
if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity ; 
but thou hast delivered thy soul," chap, xxxiii. 9. The God of 
glory judges not things by the event, which is not in our power. 
He sees our hearts, he looks at our affection ; he considers our 
labour, and if it has been lawful, he does not fail to crown it, 
though the wickedness of man, and such other things which 
are without us, may have hindered its effect. We shall never, 
in this respect, have served him in vain. Our labour and our 
race have always their certain reward. Nevertheless, if you 
turn your eyes upon those to whom our ministry is addressed, 
if you consider the design that we have to gain them to Jesus 
Christ, and to lead them to his eternal salvation ; one cannot 
deny that in this sense we have run and laboured in vain, if 
our labour have not produced in them that faith and sanctifi- 
cation which we desire. And as it is not possible that we 
should not be wearied with this bad success, either frustrating 
the fruit of our labours,, or secretly opposing them ; so, on the 
contrary, it is evident that the happy success of our ministry 
is a singular blessing, and a crown of honour, so much the 
more glorious and illustrious in proportion as our labour has 
been great and more abundant. 

It is then in this meaning, and in this respect, that the 
apostle here desires " to rejoice in the day of Christ that he 
has neither run nor laboured in vain." Believers, let us all 
lift up our hearts, after his example, to the day of the Lord. 
Let us extend our thoughts thither. Let us leave the things 
that are seen, which are perishable, and all of which time will 
destroy one after another. If we desire glory, (which is a de- 
sire natural to all men,) let us seek that which will remain un- 
moved to the great day of the Lord, and which will then be 
made manifest, whatever efforts the world may make to anni- 
hilate it. All the glory of the children of this world will 
perish, and the praise that we give to their discoveries and their 
mighty acts shall end with the earth. There will be no men- 
tion of them in the day of the Lord, the day-spring and com- 
mencement of eternity. If we wish to have a share in it, if 
we desire to be praised by the mouth of the King of glory, 
let us labour for the advancement of his kingdom. He will 
not say any thing, either of our buildings or of our wars, of 
our government or of our books, or of the other works of our 
vanity ; and, far from rejoicing in them, we shall be ashamed, 
and only reap from them regret and confusion. Christ will 
only reward in the light of this august and venerable assembly 
the works of piety. They will for ever preserve their grace 


and lustre, and we shall obtain by them on that day a truly 
immortal glory. May the ministers of the gospel be occupied 
in them more than others, and may they be warmed with an 
ardent desire for this real honour ; may they employ every 
moment of their lives to edify, by words and good examples, 
those believers who are committed to them ; remembering that 
all those souls whom they shall gather to the Lord shall be so 
many trophies of their labour which shall endure to eternity, 
and after the ruin of the world and its elements, shall for ever 
publish their praise in the Jerusalem that is above. 

But, dear brethren, as their glory depends on your, piety, 
the love and respect that you owe them compel you to con- 
tribute to it as much as possible. The apostle here clearly 
shows it to you, wishing, among the other reasons that should 
lead the Philippians to holiness, they should also have an eye 
to his praise, and that they should persevere in faith and piety, 
so that he might rejoice in the day of the Lord that he had 
neither run nor laboured in vain. In that the gratitude of 
flocks towards their pastors consists. I acknowledge that they 
are obliged to provide for their support, and, for the spiritual 
things which they have received from their hands, to commu- 
nicate to them temporal things, according to the command of 
the Lord, that those who preach the gospel should live of the 
gospel. But the first point of your gratitude is, that heartily 
obeying our preaching, you may give us this satisfaction in 
this world, and that glory in the other, of being able to say 
that we have not laboured in vain. If you do not soothe our 
troubles with this fruit, you are guilty of ingratitude ; just as 
we call ungrateful that earth which, disobedient to the culture 
of the labourer, receives the grain that he casts into it without 
yielding him its fruit. If, then, this painful exercise of the 
offices with which God has honoured us among you, if our 
labour and diligence to acquit ourselves of them with a good 
conscience, be any consideration to you, dear brethren, profit 
by it. Receive this incorruptible seed of the gospel that we 
sow in your hearts with faith and obedience. May it germi- 
nate there and fructify abundantly, and faithfully yield to the 
Lord the glory which belongs to him, and to us the praise we 
wait for. May all your life be crowned with the piety and 
love that we preach to you, so that to our common joy we may 
one day both of us appear without confusion before the Lord 
at his last judgment, and bear away together the praise of not 
having run in vain. I say the same to those children who 
have the happiness to possess fathers and mothers careful of 
their instruction. Young people, the principal gratitude that 
you owe for their care is to live well, and to shine forth in the 
midst of the world as holy lights, so that you may be one day 
before the Lord a crown of blessing and honour to those who 


so tenderly love you, and that they may then have the satis- 
faction of rejoicing in presence of heaven and earth, that the 
labour which they employed in your cultivation has not been 

II. But it is time to come to the second part of our text, in 
which the apostle, to show the Philippians how highly he es- 
timated that glory that he had just asked from them, declares, 
that if it be necessary to seal with his own blood the preaching 
of the gospel he had declared to them, and add his death to 
the labours of his painful race, he would do so willingly, 
cheerfully, and without regret ; which he expresses in rich, 
figurative, and excellent language, as usual, " That if even I 
be poured forth on the service and sacrifice of your faith, I may 
joy, and rejoice with you all." In the first place, he compares 
himself to a priest, and sets before us the conversion of the 
Philippians to the faith of the gospel, brought about by his 
preaching, and their piety as its consequence, under the image 
of a sacrifice. He speaks in the same way in the Epistle to 
the Romans, where he says that he " is the minister of Christ 
to the Gentiles, ministering to the sacrifice of the gospel of 
God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, 
being sanctified by the Holy Ghost," chap. xv. 16. In this 
mystical sacrifice the apostle was the high priest ; the gospel 
was, as it were, the knife with which he spiritually immolated 
his victims. The Philippians converted to Jesus Christ were 
his victims ; for as also the ancient priests consecrated to God 
the victims that they offered, so also the apostle, and all the 
faithful preachers of the gospel, lead and offer to the Lord 
those to whom they preach the word with effect. Besides, as 
the priests of old put their victims to death, so now do the 
ministers of the gospel in some manner immolate men who 
receive their preaching, making them die to the world and the 
flesh, drawing out of their hearts vain affections and lusts, in 
which their life consisted. And as for the ancient victims, 
they remained purely and simply dead, without receiving from 
the hand of the priest any kind of life instead of that of which 
he had deprived them. But it is not so with the men whom 
the ministers of the Lord immolate with the sword of his gos- 
pel. For instead of this miserable, earthly, and carnal life 
which they take from them, they clothe them with another that 
is holy and divine, and infinitely happier than that which they 
have lost, changing them by this mystical sacrifice from chil- 
dren of Adam into children of God, from old and perishing 
creatures into new and heavenly men. Besides this difference, 
there is still another, between this evangelical sacrifice and that 
of the ancient victims. For whereas those poor animals which 
they immolated, destitute as they were of reason and intellect, 
suffered death simply, without any act on their part taking 


place ; now the victims of Jesus Christ are only immolated 
when they knowingly and willingly receive the stroke of the 
gospel. Thus you see that the apostle here expressly mentions 
the faith of the Philippians, as it was through that they had 
been offered to God. From whence again a third difference 
arises between these two kinds of victims. For whereas the 
ancient victims remained entirely deprived of their being, 
without obtaining any new one, men now offered to God by 
the gospel, besides being made by it new, living, and immortal 
creatures, become also themselves priests, to offer themselves 
henceforth to God, by a true faith, presenting their bodies to 
him in sacrifice, lively, holy, and acceptable, which is their 
reasonable service, as the apostle says, Rom. xii. 1 ; whence 
also Peter calls them all " a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual 
sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ," 1 Pet. ii. 5. And 
this is the reason that the scripture honours with the name of 
sacrifices, all those actions of their spiritual life which they 
practise in faith, as their alms-giving, their repentance, their 
patience, their hymns, their prayers, and such like. Paul com- 
prehends here, in my opinion, all those spiritual oblations 
under the name of sacrifice and service of faith of the Philip- 
pians ; first of all that which he had himself done at the begin- 
ning, converting them, and presenting them to the Lord ; and, 
secondly, all the works of piety and charity that these believers 
had offered, and still offered every day to God in the faith of 
his gospel. He considers all that as the sacrifice of a single 
victim, immolated at the beginning by his hand ; and since 
elevating continually before God upon the altar of his grace, 
Jesus Christ our Lord, where he had placed them, the perfumes, 
the sweet and agreeable odours of prayer and alms-giving, of 
patience and other christian virtues. 

He calls it " the sacrifice and service of their faith," because 
this whole oblation depends on faith, and is only done by it ; 
neither our persons nor our actions being capable of pleasing 
God without faith. He calls it our service or liturgy, in the 
same sense as he names it a sacrifice, because it is the function 
of the ministry to which we have been consecrated by the faith 
of the gospel. And as formerly the ministry of the Levitical 
priesthood was to present to God many earthly offerings upon 
their typical altar ; so also now the worship and the service to 
which we are called is, to offer continually our bodies and our 
minds to God, with all the fruits that they are capable of bear- 
ing, in the name and on the cross of Jesus Christ, our true and 
heavenly altar. 

The apostle then says, that if he be poured forth on the sacri- 
fice of the faith of the Philippians, he shall be joyful and con- 
tented. To understand this completely, we must be aware, in 
the second place, besides what we have said before, that the 


ancients in their sacrifices did not offer their victims to God 
simply and alone, but were accustomed to pour over them some 
liquor, such as wine or oil. As to the pagans, it appears in a 
thousand places in their writings which still remain that they 
did the same. And as to the Israelites, Moses expressly com- 
mands them to throw upon each of the two lambs of their daily 
sacrifice a little fine flour mingled with beaten oil, and to pour 
over it a certain quantity of wine, Exod. xxix. 40. The word 
here used by the apostle is precisely that which he employs to 
signify such pourings and effusions. From whence it appears 
what is its meaning. For continuing the metaphor begun and 
drawn from the sacrifices, he compares his death, and the pour- 
ing out of his blood in consequence of it, on account of the 
faith of the Philippians and of the gospel that he had preached 
to them, to that pouring forth which was done on the victims 
which had been immolated. If I am poured out, if my blood 
is shed on the sacrifice of your faith, so that nothing is want- 
ing to this divine oblation, I am ready cheerfully to suffer death 
on such a good account. And that such was his intention, be- 
sides all the circumstances of the text evidently showing it, 
still further appears by what we read in the Second Epistle to 
Timothy, where, speaking of his approaching martyrdom, he 
employs the very same word which he here uses, in the same 
sense : " As for me, I am now ready to be poured forth ;" to 
which he adds, as if to explain it more clearly, " and the time 
of my departure is at hand," 2 Tim. iv. 6. And the reason of 
this metaphor is evident. For, in the first place, as this part 
of the ancient sacrifices was made by pouring out some liquor, 
so also this part of the evangelical service of Paul, that is to 
say, his martyrdom, must be, and was indeed, made by the 
shedding of his blood ; so that in all the functions of his sacred 
ministry, there is not one that has a closer resemblance to the 
scattering or pouring out which was done upon the ancient 
sacrifices. And more, as this pouring out of the liquor upon 
the victim was the seal of its consecration, so also the death of 
the apostle was the crown of his ministry, and the authentic 
and solemn confirmation of his whole doctrine, which would 
increase and establish the faith of the Philippians and other 
believers, and be more and more the means of consecrating 
their spiritual service to the Lord. Now although he does not 
say certainly that he shall be poured out on the sacrifice of his 
preaching, but speaks of it doubtfully and conditionally, simply 
saying that if it should happen he should rejoice at it ; never- 
theless, he signifies pretty clearly that he was of that opinion, 
that he should some day glorify the Lord by martyrdom. Be- 
sides the rage of his enemies, and his firm resolution to con- 
tinue constantly to preach the gospel, making him thus believe, 
it may be that he had had besides some warning of it from the 


Lord, like that which he had given to Peter, telling him, after 
his resurrection, by what death he should glorify God, as John 
relates at the end of his Gospel. The effect answered to it pre- 
cisely ; for although God delivered him from his first bonds, 
according to the assurance that he had given the Philippians 
in two places in this Epistle, he, nevertheless, permitted that 
some years after he should be again made prisoner and exe- 
cuted in the city of Rome ; and the punishment was precisely 
such as he had signified in this place; that is to say, a death in 
which his blood should be shed, to serve as an aspersion upon 
the sacrifice of his preaching, all the ancient historians of the 
church unanimously testifying that he was beheaded by the 
command of Nero. 

But whatever might be the hour and manner in which God 
should be pleased to dispose of him, he testifies here that he 
was quite resolved and ready to suffer martyrdom, not only 
without regret and apprehension, but even with joy. If that 
should be, (says he,) " I joy, and rejoice with you all." You 
see, believers, what a change the gospel of Jesus Christ has 
made in the nature of things. Death is to other men a subject 
of fear and horror, as the ruin of their being, and the end of 
all their enjoyments. To the apostle and to the true disciples 
of Jesus Christ it is an agreeable object, a subject of joy, as 
being, by the blessing of their Lord, the crown of their perfec- 
tion, their entrance to immortality, and the first day of their 
triumph. But the apostle does not only rejoice in it for him- 
self, regarding his own pouring forth as the last of his painful 
services, as the end of his labour, and the beginning of his rest 
and glory ; he also rejoices in it for the Philippians and for 
other believers. For that is what he means when he says, " I 
rejoice with you all ;" because in truth this last part of his 
ministry ought to be very useful to them in sealing and con- 
firming their faith by such an illustrious teaching of celestial 
truth. For if his bonds had served to such a great furtherance 
of the gospel, as he said before, how much more efficacious 
would his death be for the same purpose ! 

III. But he goes still further, and wishes that the Philippians 
should feel the same disposition with regard to his martyrdom ; 
that they should rejoice at it when it should happen, as a good 
and happy event : " You also, (says he to them in the following 
verse,) for the same cause, joy, and rejoice with me." But how 
is it, thou holy apostle, that thou desirest that the Philippians 
should rejoice in such a time of mourning? and that the loss 
of so good, so admirable, and so affectionate a master should 
not be to them a cause of sorrow ? Would it not be to change 
them into rocks, and to deprive them of all feeling, to compel 
them to such a strange duty ? Thou thyself in another place 
hast permitted the mourning and tears of believers for the 


death of their neighbours ; only forbidding them to afflict 
themselves after the manner of the Gentiles, who have no hope, 
1 Thess. iv. 13. And we read in Acts viii. 2, that the disci- 
ples made great mourning for Stephen, the first martyr of 
Jesus Christ. Dear brethren, the command that the apostle 
here gives the Philippians is not opposed to the duties and feel- 
ings of humanity. He does not absolutely forbid them to weep 
and to regret his death. He simply wishes that if his absence 
is painful to them, the fruit of his sacrifice may be sweet to 
them ; that they should not be so attached to their own interest 
as not to consider his ; that sorrow for his loss should not so 
fill their minds, that feeling for his happiness, and joy for 
his victory, should not also have a place. He desires that they 
should feel as they ought the effect and usefulness of his death, 
the weight and authority that it would give to his preaching, 
and the value of it to the church, gaining some, and establish- 
ing others in the fellowship of Jesus Christ. This is what he 
means when he tells them to rejoice at it. But he also wishes 
that the benefit that he himself should derive from it should 
touch them, and console them for his loss ; that they should 
see the victory that it gave him over all his enemies, the glory 
that his death should obtain for him, the rest and felicity in 
which it would place him. This is the meaning of the last words 
of the text, "you also rejoice with me." From which we have, 
finally, to collect briefly the principal instruction that the 
apostle here gives us. 

In the first place, he shows us what are the sacrifice and 
lawful service of the ministers of the Lord Jesus in the church. 
It is not to offer animals to God, as the children of Aaron did 
formerly ; neither to present him with bread and wine, or (as 
they do in the communion of Eome) the flesh and blood of 
his Son under the appearance of bread and wine. Neither 
Paul nor any other of the sacred authors teaches us any where 
that the Saviour had instituted, or that his disciples had prac- 
tised, any thing of the kind. The true sacrifice of the servants 
of Jesus Christ is to preach the gospel, to convert men to their 
Master by the power of his word ; to make them die to the 
world and the flesh, that they may live according to the Spirit ; 
to plunge this divine sword into them, even to the dividing of 
soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow ; to present them 
to God as so many living sacrifices, holy, pure, and reasonable. 
But if there be any question of a propitiatory sacrifice to ex- 
piate sin, and to satisfy the justice of the Father, both this 
same apostle and the whole scripture of the New Testament 
teach us that Jesus Christ has offered that once upon the cross, 
so that to undertake to offer another would evidently be to ac- 
cuse his of insufficiency. After so perfect an oblation, it only 
remains for us to rejoice in it, to apply the fruits of it to our- 


selves ; and that, in gratitude for so excellent a benefit, we 
should continually" present, by Jesus Christ, " the calves of our 
lips," as the prophet calls our thanksgivings, and the fruits of 
a truly evangelical and spiritual life. 

This is what the apostle teaches us in the second place, call- 
ing the conversion and sanctification of the Philippians, the 
sacrifice and service of their faith. Kemember then, believers, 
that having been sacrificed to God by the gospel which you 
have received into your hearts, you have, at the same time, 
been invested with a new dignity, and have been made alto- 
gether victims and priests of the Lord. You are henceforth a 
sacerdotal nation. You are all in Jesus Christ the ministers 
of the living God. Have ever before your eyes the excellence 
of such a high office. Keep yourselves holy and unpolluted. 
Flee all soil and filth; touch none of those things which are 
dead and profane. Exercise that holy office with which God 
has honoured you with care and fidelity. Present him every 
day a pure and chaste body, a mind full of faith and good 
thoughts, an innocent soul, bowels of mercies, a mouth dedi- 
cated to his praise, lips purified by his divine fire, incorrupt- 
ible hands, honest eyes, and a christian conversation. Present 
to him, on the poor members of his Son, the altars that he has 
left us on earth, the offerings of your charity in abundance, 
and with joy. Consecrate your goods to his service ; employ 
and use them but for him. Dedicate to him the vigour of 
your youth, the prudence and experience of your old age ; all 
the periods and moments of your life. And, to sum up all in 
few words, may the thoughts and affections of your hearts, the 
words of your mouths, and the actions of your body, be so 
many sacrifices set apart and offered to the Lord. This, my 
brethren, is the service, the liturgy (as the apostle calls it) to 
which the faith of the gospel constrains us. 

Still it is not enough that we should consecrate our life to 
God. Death, which is its end and final part, must also be em- 
ployed in the same use. And this the example of the apostle 
teaches us here, in the third place ; all of us ought to have a dis- 
position similar to his, and to be ready to suffer death cheerfully, 
and to shed our blood with joy upon the service of his faith, 
as an effusion, or pouring forth, agreeable to the Lord, if he 
should call us to it. It is the seal, the crown, and the perfec- 
tion of the sacrifice of the christian, by which he confirms and 
ratifies all the other parts of his service, by which he glorifies 
God and edifies men in the highest and best manner possible. 
I acknowledge that the example of the apostle particularly 
concerns the ministers of the Lord, as those who ought always 
to be ready to sign with their blood the truths they have 
preached with their mouths. But in reality there is no chris- 
tian who is not bound to the same thing. For we are all sol- 


diers of the Lord Jesus. We have all sworn to him the oath 
of fidelity; and entering into fellowship with him, we have 
sworn to contend even to blood for his gospel. And what can 
be more just than to die for the glory of him who made no 
difficulty in dying for our salvation? And if we do not find 
this disposition in ourselves, let us blame our own cowardice, 
and the imperfection of our faith. We every day see men of 
the world cheerfully sacrifice their life to an empty idol, which 
they falsely call honour; and there is not one of them who 
would not willingly meet his rival every time that the laws 
of this unjust and imaginary rule of their own vanity calls 
upon them so to do, without the menaces both of the justice 
of God or man being capable of preventing them, and they 
consider them as cowards and deprived of honour who would 
draw back. Christians! shall we not have for the service of 
God, and for a true and solid glory, the same courage that 
they have for an empty imagination ? But all our cowardice 
arises from the weakness of our faith. If we were firmly per- 
suaded that Jesus Christ will crown with glory and immor- 
tality all those who suffer for his name, we should embrace 
such opportunities with joy. We should fly to them as the 
first christians did formerly, and acknowledge that it is the 
highest honour that could ever happen to us to shed our blood 
in so good a cause, and the issue of which is so undoubtedly 

But the example of the apostle ought to extend still further 
than martyrdom. All are not called to shed their blood. 
But there are none who are not called to die. Prepare your- 
self then in general, O christian ! for that death which is inev- 
itable, from whatever hand it may come, whether by nature 
or by the hand of men, with a steady, cheerful, and rejoicing 
mind. Lay down your life willingly, and resign it cheerfully 
into the hand of God when he shall demand it from you. Let 
him not take it from you by force and in spite of you, as from 
a faithless trustee; but let him rather receive it as a sacrifice 
that you yourselves present with thanksgivings. Remember, 
even in this time of extremity, the honour of your priesthood, 
of the obedience that you owe to God, and the edification that 
you are bound to afford to your neighbours. Do not allow 
yourselves to be surprised by the fancies of ignorance and 
error, which paint death to us as the chief of evils. Think 
that the Lord Jesus has deprived it of its sting, and spoiled it 
of all it had of sorrow. Henceforth it cannot hurt you. It 
will perfect instead of destroying you. It delivers you from 
a rough and troublesome combat, and places you in a blessed 
peace. It only takes earth from you to give you heaven, and 
merely removes you from the company of men that you may 
enjoy that of Jesus Christ and his saints. But as the apostle 


instructs us by his example to die with joy, he also commands 
us to support the death of our brethren with patience, and to 
put away from amongst us that obstinate mourning, and those 
inconsolable tears, which weakness and ignorance shed upon 
their graves. It is to insult a martyr of Jesus Christ to weep 
for his death. It is to injure his sacrifice, and to pollute his 
triumph. Are you sorry because he has overcome the world, 
and confounded all the efforts of the enemy ? Rejoice in it, 
says the apostle, and rejoice with him. Indeed there is much 
more cause to congratulate than to pity him. He has finished 
his sacrifice, he has glorified his Lord, he has been faithful to 
him to his last sigh. He has confirmed the gospel, and testi- 
fied to its truth. The angels have seen it with joy, and have 
accompanied his victory with their applause. Jesus Christ 
has accepted his burnt-offering, and, receiving his soul into 
heaven, has crowned him with his glory. Who does not see, 
that if we love the Lord, and the servant that he has conse- 
crated to himself, we ought to rejoice in his happiness ? Thus 
we read that in the first ages of Christianity the interments of 
the martyrs were rather triumphs than funerals. All of them 
resounded with praises, and hymns, and thanksgivings, as is 
particularly mentioned in the book of the Passion of Cyprian. 
My dear brethren, these same reasons oblige us to support, in 
like manner, the death of other believers ; for although not 
martyrs, they are, nevertheless, those who have died in the 
Lord, and have changed their earthly tabernacle for a heavenly 
habitation. Every species of death of his beloved ones is pre- 
cious in the eyes of the Lord, Psal.cxvi. 15. Do not weep for 
him who is most blessed, who sins no more, who rejoices in 
God, who is in the harbour of salvation, free from the agita- 
tions and tempests of life. And if you regret the loss of his 
conversation, let the consideration of his well-being soften 
your sorrow with the hope of one day meeting him again in 
the kingdom of God. For thus we must take these kinds of 
affliction, and all others, for occasions of lifting our hearts to- 
wards heaven, and in good time to set our affairs in order, 
faithfully employing the life and death both of ourselves and 
others to the glory of the Lord, waiting for his great day, when 
he will wipe away all tears, and will give us the fruits of our 
faith and hope in the eternal possession of his blessed glory. 
To him, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the true and 
only God, eternally blessed, be honour and glory for ever and 

Preached at Charenton, /Sunday, 21st April, 1641. 



VERSES 19 — 24. 

But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, 
that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. 
For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for 
your state. For all seek their own, not the things that are Jesus 
Christ's. But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the 
father, he hath served with me in the gospel. Him, therefore, I 
hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with 
me. But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come 

What the apostle here says, that the care of all the 
churches was continually upon him, 2 Cor. xi. 28, appears in 
all his Epistles, but is especially discoverable in this to the 
Philippians. For although his sad condition when in Rome, 
a captive in the prison of Nero, and in danger of his life, 
might seem to exclude every other care, nevertheless, the af- 
fection which he bore to that dear flock pressed so heavily on 
his holy mind, that his own danger could not prevent his 
thinking of their safety. He thought of them under the tri- 
bunal itself, which was about to judge his life, and is in more 
trouble about their salvation than his own safety. They had 
sent him Epaphroditus, their pastor, to wait upon him in his 
necessity ; and this good minister of God acquitted himself of 
that office towards him with all the love and fidelity in his 
power. But the holy apostle, fearing that his absence might 
be injurious to them, sent him back to them, as we hear at the 
end of this chapter, choosing rather to be without his attentions 
and good offices than to deprive this church of them. He is 
not satisfied with doing this, he accompanies it with this beau- 
tiful Epistle, in which he gives them salutary advice against 
all kinds of errors, and arms their faith, and establishes their 
consolation, with an inconceivable diligence and ardour. 
Still all this does not suffice his affection. He wishes to send 
Timothy to them, that is to say, his right band and his other 
half, that he might assure their salvation by the presence of 
such an excellent servant of God ; and, after all, to go and see 
them himself as soon as he should be at liberty, the love that 
he bore them not being satisfied with any thing short of that. 
This, my brethren, is what he promises them in the text, 
where, cutting the thread of the exhortations that he had given 
them in the preceding verses, he declares, " But I hope to send 
Timothy unto you shortly ;" as if he had said, It is not neces- 


sary for me to enlarge any more in these instructions, having 
the intention of sending them, on the earliest day, another 
living Epistle, that is to say, his dear Timothy, who was very 
able to improve them in every thing necessary for their edifi- 
cation and consolation. He then adds the reasons which had 
induced him to choose him rather than any other for this em- 
ployment, which were drawn from his incomparable zeal and 
fidelity in the work of the Lord, proved by long and tried 
experience ; " For I have no man like-minded, who will natu- 
rally care for your state. For all seek their own, and not the 
things that are Jesus Christ's. But ye know the proof of him, 
that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the 
gospel. Him, therefore, I hope to send presently, so soon as 
I shall see how it will go with me." And, finally, he gives 
them hope that he shall see them himself at an early day: 
" But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly." 
Thus we have, by God's help, to treat of three points in this 
discourse: the promise of sending Timothy; his recommenda- 
tion and praise; and the assurance of the apostle's arrival 
among the Philippians. 

I. The promise of sending Timothy. Their church, newly 
planted by Paul, like a young plant still tender and weak, had 
need of support, and so much the more so on account of the 
attacks of enemies, who did all in their power to ruin it. It 
flourished in the midst of the thorns and briers of infidelity, 
whilst the cruelty of the Jews and pagans was likely to stifle 
it easily if it were not assisted. This occasioned Paul's anx- 
iety, fearing every moment lest Satan, who never sleeps, should 
pull up, or at least shake, these new plants of the Lord. The 
account that he had received from Epaphroditus redoubled his 
fears that evil workers, the teachers of circumcision, who, in 
these early times, troubled the greater part of the flocks of 
Jesus Christ, had also attacked that of the Philippians. It is 
then to soothe his own trouble, and to strengthen these be- 
lievers, that, not contented with sending Epaphroditus back 
to them, he promises to make Timothy soon follow him, one 
of the most celebrated ministers of the Lord, known in Asia 
and in Europe by the great services which he had rendered to 
the gospel ; so that the hope of such considerable assistance 
should support and strengthen them; in like manner, you see 
a place acquires new courage and vigour to resist the enemy 
who keeps it in a state of siege, when its prince gives it the 
hope of very soon sending it powerful aid. " But I trust in 
the Lord to send Timothy unto you shortly, that I also may 
be of good comfort, when I know your state." He here sets 
before us two things : the sending of Timothy, and the object 
or reason of so sending him. On the first we have to remark, 
that he does not simply and absolutely say, I will send Timothy 


to you, but I hope to send him to you, and still more modifies his 
hope by adding, " I hope in the Lord Jesus." As the actions, and 
even the words of the apostle ought to serve as examples and in- 
struction for us, let us learn from these, my brethren, what 
they clearly signify, that we should never be entirely certain 
about things to come, of which God has given us no assurance: 
this I expressly add, to exclude from this proposition the 
things that the Lord has promised in his word, as the continu- 
ance of his grace, and the inheritance of his glory. Of these 
Paul in many places speaks with entire confidence, being fully 
persuaded that nothing shall be able to separate him from the 
love of the Lord ; and we can and ought, after his example, 
to be certain also of the promise of God, that none shall ever 
pluck us frora his hand ; and that he will bring us out of all 
our temptations, making it as certain as if it was performing 
or already accomplished. As to other things, of which we 
have not the promise in the divine word, such as the circum- 
stances and events of our common life, we may hope for them, 
as the apostle does in this place, but not be certain of them, all 
their success depending on the will of God, of which we have 
not the knowledge. The issue of things does not always de- 
pend on their disposition and appearance. A moment often 
changes their order, and overturns all the opinions which the 
reason of men had formed of them ; God, the sovereign Lord 
and ruler of Ihe world, having reserved to himself the right 
of turning them, as seemeth to him good. It is to rob him of 
what belongs to him, to take for granted the certain issue of 
things to come. Our life itself, the foundation of all our 
actions, is not assured to us; and there is no person in the 
world, however healthy and vigorous he may be, who can be 
certain of living another day. How many do we every day 
see who, an hour previous to that fatal moment, were perfectly 
well ! This is the reason why the apostle James rebukes justly 
the rashness of those who dispose of the future as if they were 
masters of it, who say, " To-day or to-morrow we will go into 
such a city, and continue there a year, and buy, and sell, and 
get gain. Whereas (he says) ye know not what shall be on the 
morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that 
appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that 
ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live and do this or 
that." Paul loved the church of the Philippians, he saw that 
it had still need of his ministry, and knew that Jesus Christ 
had thereunto called him. This disposition made him judge 
that God, for the good of believers, would preserve him still 
alive, and draw him out of those sad bonds which then held 
him, that he might edify those believers as much by sending 
Timothy to them as by his own presence. From hence, then, 
he expects that the Lord will dispose of him in that way. 


But knowing how deep are the judgments of God, and how 
much higher are his ways and thoughts than ours, often order- 
ing things quite contrary to our reason and expectations, he 
does not feel entirely certain of what however seemed to him 
probable, and remits all to the providence of the Lord, reposing 
humbly under his shadow. Dear brethren, let us imitate his 
modesty, and, with a humility similar to his, let us leave the 
future in the hand of God, only disposing of it under his good 
pleasure, without fixing upon any thing with so much certainty 
as not to be ready to submit to a contrary issue, in case that 
the sovereign Lord has been pleased to order otherwise than 
we wished or hoped ; let us acquiesce quietly in his counsel, 
and after having resigned all our thoughts, hopes, and delibe- 
rations to him, let us always add the clause that our Lord and 
Master has taught us, " Thy will be done." Not what I will, 
but what thou wilt. 

We must also remark what the apostle says, " that he trusted 
in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to the Philippians." By 
these words he evidently gives to Jesus Christ the empire of 
the universe, and the providence which governs the issue of 
all the things which pass in it, according to what he had pre- 
viously said, that he was highly exalted, and that his name 
was above every name, and that there is nothing in heaven, or 
in earth, or under the earth, which does not bow the knee 
before him. For as it is of the Lord Jesus that he hopes to 
send Timothy, and so to console the Philippians, it is clear 
that it is on him that all the events necessary to do so depend. 
lie was in the bonds of Nero, the most powerful monarch then 
on earth, and the most opposed to the doctrine of the truth ; 
so that, looking at the thing as a man, there was no great ap- 
pearance that he should get out of his chains into liberty. But 
to the power of this tyrant he opposes that of his Christ, 
knowing that he held in his hand the hearts both of this lion 
and of all other similar beasts, to bend them as he pleased. 
He knew that however great might be the rage and confusion 
of men, yet Jesus was their Master ; that he governed all their 
actions ; and that, however high and powerful they might be, 
all their works depended on his will. And from thence it ne- 
cessarily follows that Jesus is the true and eternal God, of the 
same essence with the Father ; the government of the world, 
and the guidance of all that passes in it, requiring infinite 
wisdom and power, such as cannot be but in a similarly infi- 
nite nature, that is to say, one truly divine and eternal. Hence 
not christians only, but even pagans, and all men generally, 
refer the disposition of the future to God, saying, in their usual 
language, "If it please God," If God wills, and, With the good 
pleasure of God ; recognizing, as it were, by the secret teach- 
ing of nature herself, that this providence and disposition of 


things can only belong to a divine being. How then can we 
adequately express our astonishment at the blindness, shall I 
call it, or at the fury, of those who, granting to the Lord Jesus 
the guidance of the universe, the inspection of the hearts of 
men, and the government of all their affairs, yet refuse him the 
name and glory of a true and eternal Divinity ? As for us, 
beloved brethren, who know that this administration of the 
world, and this supreme providence over all that happens in 
it, is the highest and chiefest part of that glory which belongs 
to God, which he gives not to another, let us worship our 
Jesus in all assurance, as this belongs to him. Let us serve 
him as a supreme and eternal Divinity. Let us on his power 
and goodness confidently build our faith and hope, and let 
us make the issue of all our thoughts and desires depend en- 
tirely on his will. Let us implore his help in all our designs, 
great and small. Let us be certain that there is nothing so 
difficult that we cannot do in him, and nothing so easy that we 
can do without him. Such was the disposition of Paul in re- 
gard to sending Timothy to the Philippians, " he hoped to do 
so in the Lord." 

Let us now see what was the object he had in view in send- 
ing him : "I hope to send him to you shortly, that I also may 
be of good comfort when I know your state." It is certain 
that the first and chief design of the apostle in thus sending 
him was the good and edification of the Philippians them- 
selves, to establish them in the faith according to the need they 
had of it ; and the second and more distant object his own joy 
and consolation, by learning, at the return of Timothy, the 
good state in which he had placed and left this church. But 
consider, I beseech you, the wisdom and goodness of this holy 
minister of God, and how exquisite is the prudence with which 
he manages these believers. He says nothing to them of the 
first object which he had in view, which was to support and 
strengthen them against the shock of enemies, for fear that 
setting forth this would afflict them, by appearing as a secret 
reproach of weakness, and a testimony of some distrust which 
the apostle felt in their perseverance and piety. He speaks to 
them but of the second object that he had in view, which was 
his own comfort, rather as if it had been his need instead of theirs 
which had rendered Timothy's journey necessary. This holy 
and spiritual address of the apostle ought to instruct us to treat 
those believers who are committed to us with the greatest cir- 
cumspection ; to avoid as much as possible all that is likely 
to offend them ; and never to employ towards them without 
necessity, not fire and sword only, but even bitterness or other 
painful remedies, remembering that our ministry is to comfort 
and edify, not to afflict or destroy. I know well that there are 
morose and inexorable minds who will not approve this pro- 


ceeding, who will accuse it of complaisance and flattery. But 
their judgment ought not to be in such high consideration with 
us, that we should not rather regard what the édification of 
human souls requires of us, the most delicate subject in the 
world, and one which ought to be managed with the utmost 
tenderness and moderation. The example of Paul, which 
stands in the place of law to us in the church, compels us to 
it. For you see how, both here and elsewhere, he seasons all 
his discourses with an unparalleled gentleness and love ; and 
never with that which wounds and offends, such as remon- 
strances and censures, but by constraint ; and at last, " I will 
send you Timothy, that I also may be of good comfort, when 
I shall know your state." Could he say anything more gentle 
and affectionate ? That mind which braved hell and the world, 
which smiled at prisons and the threats of tyrants, which pre- 
served its joy entire in irons, which looked upon life and death 
indifferently, could not bear the absence of the Philippians 
without trouble. That great courage, which defies and despises 
all the rest, yields under the feelings of the love which he cher- 
ished towards them. This passion alone was able to melt him. 
His uncertainty respecting their state gave him more trouble 
and uneasiness than all the chains and threats of Nero. I shall 
have no rest (says he) till I hear news of you. If there is any 
languor and weakness in my courage, that anxiety alone which 
I feel for you causes and maintains it. I am firm and strong 
against the rest ; it is here only that I feel myself weak. But 
I hope that sending Timothy will relieve my anxiety, and at 
once set my heart at ease. Your prosperity will increase my 
courage, and once knowing you to be in safety, I shall have 
no more fear or uneasiness. 

Such was the feeling of the apostle for his Philippian con- 
verts, and such ought to be that of all pastors for their flocks. 
Judge, then, in what proportion the feeling of the Philippians 
towards Paul should be, what desire they should have for the 
repose and comfort of a man who loved them so tenderly. 
Dear brethren, we are infinitely below this great apostle, who 
never had his equal in the world. But however weak our 
ministry may be, you ought to cherish it, since it is appointed 
for you. And the chief favour that we ask at your hands is, 
that your piety, and charity, and sanctification may be such as 
to give us joy; that your spiritual prosperity may fill our 
souls with delight ; so that knowing the happiness of your state, 
we may have (as the apostle says) so much more courage to la- 
bour for your edification. For the rest, as Paul hoped that 
sending Timothy would give him satisfaction, so he promised 
himself that it would afford much to these believers. And this 
is the meaning of the word " also" which he uses in this text, 
"so that I also may be of good comfort;" clear! v taking for 


granted that he alone should not gather fruit from it, that the 
Philippians should do so in the first place, and he afterwards; 
and as they would receive great comfort in seeing Timothy 
amongst them, and in learning from him the deliverance and 
happy state of the apostle, their common master ; so should he 
also in his turn have likewise extreme encouragement and re- 
joicing, in knowing from this faithful deputy the prosperity 
of their church. 

II. But in order to excite their hearts to this expectation, 
and to make them more desire the enjoyment of this happiness, 
he sets before them in the following verses the excellent qual- 
ities of Timothy, which compelled him to appoint him to this 
deputation in preference to any other : " For I have no man 
like-minded, who will naturally care for your state. For all 
seek their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ's. But ye 
know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath 
served with me in the gospel." There is hardly in the scrip- 
tures of the New Testament any minister of the gospel more cel- 
ebrated than Timothy. Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, and 
Paul, in his Epistles, everywhere make very honourable men- 
tion of him ; so that the apostle uses his name in the title or 
address of five of his letters, writing them in his name and in 
that of Timothy ; and this is one of them, as you have heard 
at the beginning. And besides that, he has done him the hon- 
our to write two to him ; the last of which is, as it were, the 
will of this great apostle, in which he commits to his dear dis- 
ciple his last wishes, being on the point of leaving the world. 
These divine pieces teach us that he was born of a pagan father, 
but of a Jewish mother, named Eunice, daughter of Lois, both 
of them gifted with excellent faith, and celebrated by the pen 
of the apostle. These two good and religious women brought 
him up from his infancy in piety, and particularly in the know- 
ledge of the Holy Scriptures, the true source of the fear of God, 
and salvation, in which he made great progress, 2 Tim. i. 5, 6 ; 
iii. 15; iv. 14. And having since heard and embraced the 
gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, he consecrated himself entirely 
to his service ; and received the imposition of hands from Paul 
and the company of priests or elders, and followed the apostle 
in the greater part of his travels. It is, then, this holy man 
whom the apostle here intends to send to the Philippians, and 
to whose zeal and piety he bears so great and singular a testi- 
mony. It is not to flatter him that he praises him, but to re- 
commend him to the Philippians ; so that seeing the opinion 
which the apostle entertained of him, they might desire his ar- 
rival, and receive him, when he should come among them, with 
the reverence and love due to his merit ; and that by this 
means both his expectation and arrival should produce more 
fruit among them. I acknowledge that it is an abominable 


and pernicious delusion to praise those who do not deserve it, 
and I still further confess that it is a sad and odious vanity to 
praise even those who are praiseworthy without some reason 
compelling us to do so. But I also maintain that it is a duty, 
not only just, but very useful, to praise and recommend the 
piety and virtue of believers in suitable times and places. In 
the first place, it is like a tribute that we owe to these good 
qualities to acknowledge them, and sincerely to praise them 
everywhere, where we see them shining; and it would be in- 
gratitude both towards those who possess them, and towards 
God who gave them, not to appear to see them. And every 
body knows that there is nothing which more stirs up right 
minds to the practice of honesty and virtue than praise. It at- 
tracts and binds them for ever to it ; giving them a secret 
shame not to continue and increase to the end in a thing in 
which such an honourable testimony has been given them. 
Add to which, this recommendation gives efficacy to their use- 
fulness with those with whom they have to labour. This is 
the reason why the apostle makes no scruple in this place to 
praise his disciple Timothy, and has willingly engraved his 
eulogium in this Epistle, as upon solid and durable brass, 
which has hitherto preserved and will preserve his name and 
his glory in the church to the end of the world. This exam- 
ple compels superiors to render similar testimony to those of 
their inferiors who deserve it, as fathers to their children, pas- 
tors to their sheep, crowning each of their good qualities with 
these sweet and agreeable flowers of praise every time that oc- 
casion requires it. 

Behold then how the apostle exalts the zeal and piety of 
Timothy : " I have no person like-minded, who will naturally 
care for your state." The first eulogium, then, that he gives 
him is, that he has no person like-minded, from which it is 
clear that he places him above all his other disciples. But 
what he says, " that none-are like-minded," may be interpreted 
in two ways. Some think that the apostle compares Timothy 
with himself, and means that he had a zeal and courage equal 
to his own. Others imagine that by these words he is compared, 
not with the apostle, but with the other disciples, implying 
that, of all those who were with Paul, there was not one whose 
zeal and courage were equal to those of Timothy. And al- 
though both expositions are good and beneficial to this holy 
servant of God, yet the second seems the best, from the rela- 
tion that it bears to the following words, where the apostle, to 
confirm what he had said, "that he had nobody like-minded 
with Timothy," adds, "that all seek their own, not the things 
that are Jesus Christ's." Be it how it may, it is evident that 
by " this mind," whether like that of the apostle, or incompar- 
ably greater than that of the other disciples, is meant the zeal 


with which Timothy glowed for the advancement of the gospel, 
and for the glory of Jesus Christ ; his affection and his quick- 
ness in embracing every occasion that might be useful to it, 
there being nothing either so difficult or so painful that he 
would not willingly undertake for this purpose. It is a quality 
necessary for all christians, but more particularly for the min- 
isters of the gospel, seeing that the difficulties they meet with in 
the exercise of their office are likely to discourage them at 
every moment, if they have only a common-place affection and 
courage. The other praise that the apostle here gives Timothy 
is, that he is more careful than any one else in the things that 
concern the Philippians ; in which you see that, besides the af- 
fection which he bore in general to all the flock of Christ, he 
had an especial one for that of the Philippians ; either that the 
stay which he had made among them, or the noise and wonder 
of their extraordinary piety, or the sympathy of his own 
feelings with theirs, or some other reason, had more power- 
fully inclined his heart towards them. He expresses the 
care that he took for them by a term full of emphasis, 
which signifies a great anxiety, which filled his mind with 
many thoughts, keeping it continually balanced and divided, 
as it happens sometimes to ourselves when we take the 
charge of a thing of which we are very fond. The apostle 
still adds another term, that he may better set before us the 
nature of that care which Timothy took for the affairs of the 
Philippians, saying that he was truly or naturally careful for 
them; that is to say, without pretence, or fraud, or hypocrisy ; 
acquitting himself of his duties in all frankness and sincerity 
without seeking any other thing in them than the good and 
edification of these believers. For evil-workers sometimes 
take charge of what belongs to a flock, but with bad designs ; 
one to satisfy his curiosity, another to gratify his ambition or 
avarice, each rather for himself than for Jesus Christ or his 
church. But Paul still further heightens the glory of Timothy 
in the following verse by the singular rarity of his virtue: 
" For all seek their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ's." 
His zeal is so much the more admirable, that it is almost 
without example. In a great multitude of disciples, he alone 
does the work of the Lord with that true nobleness of mind 
which only regards his Master. All the others seek their own 
interest, rather than that of Jesus Christ. In the first place, it 
is clear enough that the apostle does not here speak of apos- 
tates, who, carried away by the cares of this world, whether 
the lusts of the flesh or the fear of persecution, had renounced 
the gospel, and openly quitted its profession ; as that Hy- 
meneus, and Alexander, and some others, of whom he com- 
plains elsewhere, saying "that some, having put away a good 
conscience, concerning faith have made shipwreck. 1 ' Such 


wretches do not deserve that Timothy should be put in com- 
parison with them. Paul speaks of those who were living in 
the profession of Christianity, and exercised its holy ministry, 
and who were numbered in the company of his disciples. 
From which it appears, in the second place, that those of whom 
he here complains were not profane, and who took no care of 
the kingdom of Jesus Christ, nor of the edification of his 
church. These words of the apostle, " they seek not the things 
that are Jesus Christ's," must not be taken simply and abso- 
lutely, as meaning that they took no care whatever, nor gave 
themselves any trouble with the affairs of the Lord, more than 
the Jews or the pagans, but only as said by comparison, to 
mean that they sought their own things, rather than those of 
Jesus Christ ; that they preferred their own interest to his, and 
had less care for his kingdom than for their oivn comfort ; in 
the same way as the prophet Hosea said, as it is quoted by 
the Lord in Matthew, " that God would have mercy, and not 
sacrifice," Hos. vi. 6 ; Matt. ix. 13, meaning that he better 
liked the works of mere}' than the oblations of the sacri- 
fices; and as Paul says, that God, in forbidding to muzzle 
the ox that treadeth out the corn, took not care for oxen, but 
for us, 1 Cor. ix. 9, 10, signifying that in that he had much 
more regard to us than to oxen ; and as a prophet said that 
the Israelites had rejected, not Samuel, but the Eternal, mean- 
ing that it was not so much the government of Samuel that 
they had rejected, as that of God himself, 1 Sam. viii. 7 ; and 
in many other places of scripture, where this method of speak- 
ing is very usual. And that this passage must be so taken, the 
thing itself very evidently shows. For speaking simply, and 
without this comparison, it is not forbidden us to seek what is 
bur own, and to take care of our own interests, and of those 
who belong to us, as, for example, to preserve the health, rep- 
utation, and faculties both of ourselves and others. Even the 
apostle teaches us elsewhere that it is a grievous sin absolutely 
to neglect the care of such things ; declaring that if any one 
careth not for his own, and chiefly for those of his own family, 
he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel, 2 Tim. 
v. 3. That which is forbidden, and which is indeed a griev- 
ous sin against God and against ourselves, is this passion 
carried to excess, when we have more love and affection for 
our own affairs, than for those of the Lord ; when we love 
(as it is in Matthew) father or mother, son or daughter, (let us 
add health, repose, honour, goods, or life,) more than him ; 
when we seek our own convenience more than his glory, or 
attach ourselves more to our own interest than to his ; and, 
in a word, when the consideration of what belongs to our- 
selves causes us to be wanting in his service. According to 
this divine doctrine, it is evident that the apostle does not here 


intend, either that Timothy had no care whatever for his own 
things, (which would rather have been blâmable than praise- 
worthy,) or that those other disciples with whom he compares 
him had simply some care or some attention to their own in- 
terests (which is not forbidden). But he means to say that 
Timothy, having placed the Lord Jesus in the chief spot of 
his heart, loved his glory and his kingdom above all things, 
treading under foot that which was most dear to him, when it 
interfered with the spread of the gospel, or the service of his 
church ; and that these other disciples, on the contrary, al- 
though they had some regard for the kingdom of God, and 
employed themselves in preaching his word, were nevertheless 
so attached to their own interests, that this passion made them 
neglect those occupations of their office which interfered with 
their own comfort. And as it often happens that the interests 
of Christ and his gospel are incompatible with our own, you 
see how pernicious this foolish love is which prefers earth to 
heaven, and our own affairs to those of God, in all our call- 
ings, especially in that of ministers of the word. This then 
is what the apostle reproves in those of whom he speaks in 
this place ; and this is the reason why he does not reckon them 
fit to be sent to the Philippians. For the question being of a 
long and dangerous journey, persons who loved their own 
convenience so much might not easily resolve to undertake it. 
Believers, are you not astonished that even then, during that 
blessed golden age, when the presence of the apostle caused 
so much virtue and piety to flourish on earth, there were 
nevertheless at Rome, even in the society of Paul, so few good 
and noble-minded soldiers of the Lord? "All (says the apos- 
tle) seek their own, and not the things that are Jesus Christ's." 
I acknowledge that we must not take his expression strictly, 
as if he meant to say simply and really that, except Timothy, 
there was no one at all who was not wrapped up in this cri- 
minal backwardness. But however that may be, it cannot be 
denied that this manner of speaking means that this corrup- 
tion was so widely extended, and so few were exempt from it, 
that we may learn from it not to lose courage if we at present 
see the same evil in the church, and so few labourers of whom 
we can truly say that they seek what is Jesus Christ's and not 
their own. 

But I return to Timothy. The apostle having thus preferred 
him to all his fellow labourers, adds, " But you know the proof 
of him, that, as a son with the father, he has served with me 
in the gospel." It is not necessary (he observes) that I should 
recommend him to you beforehand. You yourselves know 
his value, and are not ignorant of the proofs which he has 
given of his zeal, and of his fidelity, in the exercise of his 
holy ministry. They knew the proof of Timothy ; first, be- 


caiise they had seen him themselves among them, there being 
great reason to think that he was with Paul, when, by direc- 
tion of a heavenly vision, he passed into Macedonia, and went 
to preach the gospel in the town of Philippi ; and perhaps the 
apostle had also since sent him thither. They had, secondly, 
doubtless, heard the great actions of this holy man of God, his 
assiduity and fidelity in the work of the Lord, and the assist- 
ance and service that he had rendered to Paul, keeping himself 
inseparably attached to him in all his journeys and enterprises. 
And this is what he expressly says, that " he had served with 
him in the gospel as a son with the father." In these words 
he praises the faith and modesty of Timothy ; his faith, in that 
he served in the gospel, signifying by that he employed with 
zeal and assiduity every gift that he possessed in preaching 
the gospel ; yielding to Jesus Christ his Lord, in this enter- 
prise, all the duty that a slave owes to his master ; sincerely 
proclaiming his word, such as he had received it from his 
apostles, without mixing with it the leaven of any human 
doctrine ; seeking his glory alone, and labouring only for his 
name. The climax of his praise is, that he had served w'ith 
Paul, drawing, as it were, in the same yoke, following and im- 
itating him in all things ; so that in his conduct there shone 
an express image of the zeal, courage, sincerity, and laborious 
assiduity of that great apostle. But besides this imitation, it 
also signifies the faithful association he had maintained with 
him in all his journeys and dangers, and the part he had taken 
in all his victories. And it is to this that the following words 
relate, " He has served with me as a child with the father ;" 
that is to say. that he had yielded to him, in the work of the 
Lord, all the obedience, reverence, subjection, and love that 
the best son could have yielded to his father, remaining always 
attached at his side in all his painful and dangerous expedi- 
tions, softening the labours of the apostleship by his continual 
assistance, flying where he sent him, refusing no danger, 
whether by sea or land, but taking as kindnesses all those la- 
bours in which Paul employed him, religiously obeying all 
his orders, without ever infringing any of them. Indeed, if 
you read in the Acts the history of the apostle left us by Luke, 
you will everywhere find Timothy with him; or if he some- 
times quits him, it is by his command to execute his orders 
elsewhere. Neither the rage of the Jews nor the persecutions 
of the pagans, neither imprisonment nor trouble, neither 
storms at sea nor dangers by land, could separate him from 
this holy man. He gave up all to share his labours and his 
sorrows. This appears also in the Epistles of the apostle, in 
which Timothy is never forgotten. And this praise is still 
greater, as he was yet but a young man ; and this is the reason 
Paul says here that he had been with him as a son with his 


father. For is it not a wonderful thing that, notwithstanding 
the passions of that age, so difficult to restrain, disdaining with 
great courage the pleasures and exercises to which youth is 
given, he kept with the apostle, subjecting himself quietly to 
all his directions, employing in the work of the Lord all that 
strength which others lose in debauchery and folly, prefer- 
ring rather to weep and to suffer with Paul than to laugh and 
amuse himself with the world? 

After having thus nobly recommended him to the Philippians, 
he repeats the promise which he had already made to them 
above to send him to them shortly : " I trust then to send him 
to you shortly, as soon as I know how it will go with me." 
In the uncertainty in which his imprisonment kept him, not 
knowing what would be its issue, it was difficult for him to 
send Timothy far away from him. This is why he detained 
him yet some time ; but with the promise, that as soon as he 
should see his affairs in such a state as to be able to do with- 
out him, he would not fail sending him on this journey. In 
which he plainly testifies, that although he was not entirely 
certain of the issue of his bonds, he, nevertheless, hoped to be 
delivered from them. 

III. And what he adds in the third and last part of this text 
shows us still more expressly his opinion : " I trust in the 
Lord that I also myself shall come shortly." Before he had 
given them this hope, towards the end of the first chapter, 
where he said to them, " I know that I shall abide and con- 
tinue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith," Phil. 
i. 25. Now then, for fear that sending Timothy, as he pro- 
mises, should make them think that, changing his first plan, 
he no longer intended to visit them himself, he gives them this 
express assurance to the contrary. In which you see on one 
side the warmth of his affection for the Philippians, and on 
the other his humility and modesty, how he refers all to the 
will of God, saying that he trusts in the Lord, the same as he 
had said above, "I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to 
you shortly." Now what was indeed the issue of his imprison- 
ment, and what the success of his intentions, we have formerly 
considered very fully in the exposition of the first chapter, in 
which we proved that there is great reason to believe that the 
apostle was delivered from his first bonds ; and that he saw 
once more the churches that he had planted in Asia and 
Greece, which is precisely what he hopes here. Thus nothing 
now remains for us to do on this text than to meditate se- 
riously on, and reduce to practice, the instructions which it 

In the first place, the example of Timothy teaches you what 
pastors you ought to desire for the guidance of the church, 
namely, such persons as have courage similar to that of the 


apostle ; who may be truly and sincerely careful of that which 
concerns their flocks, who seek the things which are Jesus 
Christ's, and not their own, and who serve the gospel with 
Paul, and as he did. I acknowledge that eloquence and the 
best literary acquirements are not to be despised. But faith, 
zeal, and the love of Christ and his church, are the principal 
parts of this ministry. This is what you ought most to de- 
sire, seek, and esteem in your pastors, as that which is most 
needful for your edification. The rest serves to please your 
ears, this to the salvation of your souls. But this lesson es- 
pecially regards us whom God hath called to the exercise of 
this honourable office, committing to us the guidance of his 
church. His providence has preserved the eulogium with 
which Paul here adorns Timothy, exactly as if this were to 
be the pattern and idea on which we should form ourselves in 
such a way, that if the holy apostle were still upon earth, he 
might conscientiously give us the same praises which he here 
gives to his disciple. But, O ye faithful ministers of the 
Lord, whoever you may be, and in whatever place you may 
labour, the absence of Paul will not deprive you of this fruit 
of your labours. If you are not praised by the pen of the 
apostle, you shall be so by the mouth of the supreme Master, 
who sees your troubles, and regards your fidelity, and will pro- 
claim them one day in the presence of men and angels, when 
he will bestow on every one of his servants the praise that is 
due to him. Then what will be your joy and your glory, 
when you shall hear the Son of God in that august assembly 
say of you what the apostle here wrote of his Timothy, This 
servant has been truly careful of the good of my church ; he 
has sought my interests, and not his own ; he has served me in 
the gospel, as a son serves his father ! Have always before 
your eyes this divine reward. That you may have a share in 
Timothy's glory, imitate his zeal and fidelity. Be careful of 
the flocks which Jesus Christ has committed to your care. 
Rem ember that it is for him you labour, for the glory of the 
Lord of the world, for the salvation and immortal felicity of 
men, to guide souls, which he hath redeemed with his own 
blood, to glory. God forbid that in so noble a design you 
should think of the flesh, or of the earth, or that you should 
injure such a ministry by low and mercenary thoughts, seeking 
reputation, ease, or convenience in offices which ought only to 
serve for the furtherance of the kingdom of God and the edi- 
fication of his saints. May the glory of Jesus Christ be your 
only desire and your only interest ; may this govern your 
whole life, and subdue every action of your minds and bodies. 
And as this should be your sole object, may the gospel also 
be your only occupation. Preach it in season, and out of sea- 
son, with your voice and by your writings, with your mouth 


and in your manners. Mix with it nothing of your own. 
May your tongue and your life represent it faithfully, such as 
it was given you by the Lord and by his ministers. Cast the 
desire of ruling behind you. You are called to serve, and 
your whole office is but an honourable servitude. You are 
not the lords, but the servants of the flocks over which you 
preside. This is what the portrait of Timothy, here drawn by 
the apostle, teaches ministers in general. But it particularly 
warns the young to live humbly and modestly with the elders, 
to look upon them as their fathers, and to soften the trials of 
this laborious ministry by their respectful attentions. On the 
other hand, the conduct of the apostle instructs likewise the 
elders not to abuse the advantage which their age gives them 
over their Timothies; to love them tenderly, and to look upon 
them as their brethren, and not as their slaves, as the officers of 
Jesus Christ " who serve with them," as is here particularly 
said by the apostle, and not under them ; to praise them, and 
to recommend them very affectionately to their flocks, and to 
do all in their power to render their ministry honourable. 

This same Timothy consecrating his early years to this holy 
office, ought also to incite you, O christian youth, to dedicate 
yourselves at once to the service of God, and immediately to 
awaken those among you who have the necessary gifts to de- 
vote themselves to the holy ministry. And God be praised, 
who has touched the hearts of some among you, to lead them 
to such a good design, crowning their beginnings with the flow- 
ers of his grace in such abundance that we have all good reason 
to hope for much fruit in its season. Follow their example, 
and employ to the advancement of the kingdom of God, and 
to the building his house, that warmth and vigour, and those 
other graces which your age consumes uselessly in worthless 
occupations. This is what the example of Timothy teaches us 
for the holy ministry. 

But dear brethren, do not imagine that you have no share 
in this, under pretence that you are not called to this office. 
I acknowledge that the holy ministry requires certain gifts, 
and certain peculiar cares. But in truth, as there is but one 
and the same salvation for the pastors and for the sheep, so 
there is but one and the same way to attain it ; and those 
deeply deceive themselves who imagine that the morals of the 
people must, or at least may be, different from those of their 
guides. Consider then also, beloved brethren, this example 
and pattern of Timothy, which the apostle here places before 
your eyes. Children, learn from it respect, obedience, and sub- 
mission towards your fathers. Render them the same duties 
that Timothy yielded to Paul. Aid them in their sorrows, 
accompany them in their travels, console them in their adver- 
sities, be to them throughout their lives a crown of blessing 


and joy. Fathers, imitate also, and show towards your chil- 
dren, the gentleness, care, and friendship of Paul towards Tim- 
othy, loving them tenderly as your own bowels, dedicating 
them to the Lord, placing them and leading them in his ways, 
giving them in the purity of your morals a beautiful and per- 
fect pattern of life, which they may follow without blushing. 
Youth, here learn in general the deference which is due to el- 
ders. Treat them as your fathers. And you who are elders 
in age, have for the young affections and feelings similar to 
those of our Paul towards Timothy. Train them by your 
words and your examples to all godliness and honesty. Re- 
gard them not as strangers, but as your children, and unite 
with one another in a holy agreement to serve the gospel of 
the Lord, advancing it every day, attracting towards it those 
who are without, establishing those who are within, by the 
good example of a truly christian life. For the principal 
thing is that all, young and old, rich and poor, of whatever 
age, sex, or condition we may be, we should each of us in our 
calling carefully imitate the zeal and faith of Timothy, that 
we should have, like him, an apostolical mind and courage, 
burning with love towards God, and a sincere affection towards 
his church; that, detached from earth, we should only seek 
heaven; that the affairs of the Lord Jesus, his kingdom and 
eternity, should possess our hearts day and night ; that we 
should henceforth leave ease, convenience, and glory, and all 
the other petty passions of this vile flesh, to embrace the inte- 
rests of God; that our whole lives may be only one continued 
proof of our faith and devotion ; that it may be spent entirely 
in the service of the gospel, in that same course in which Paul 
ended his old age, or in which the blessed Timothy sanctified 
his youth ; that we may serve with them, that we may enjoy 
as they do the peace and consolation of the Lord Jesus in this 
world, and his glory and immortality in the other. So be it ; 
and to him, with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, be honour 
and praise for ever. Amen. 

Preached at Charenton, /Sunday, 30th June, 1641. 



VERSES 25 — 30. 

Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my bro- 
ther, and companion in labour, and fellow-soldier, but your mes- 
senger, and him that ministered to my wants. For he longed af- 
ter you all, and ivas full of heaviness, because that ye had 
heard that he had been sick. For indeed he was sick nigh unto 
death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but 
on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I sent him 
therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye 
may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. Receive him 
therefore in the Lord ivith all gladness; and hold such in repu- 
tation: because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, 
not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward 

The preservation of those societies which exist amongst 
mankind depends upon the union and good intelligence of 
the parties of which they are composed. It is of great 
consequence to such as govern clearly to understand the 
minds of those they guide. For unless that be the case, 
their obedience being forced and unwilling, it is not pro- 
bable that their union should subsist long; experience 
teaching us every day that things that are violent are not of 
long duration. But among these superiors, there are none to 
whom this esteem and this disposition are more necessary than 
to the pastors whom God hath established in the church, be- 
cause their whole government is only a gentle and amiable 
control, founded upon the devotion and submission of their 
flocks, and not a regal power ; that is to say, a ministry, and 
not an empire, according to what the Lord said to his apostles, 
" The princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and 
they that are great exercise authority upon them ; but it shall 
not be so among you," Matt. xx. 25, 26. And even if the pas- 
tors should have this lordly power, which some among them 
have usurped, contrary to the express command of their Mas- 
ter, still it is very evident that it would be useless to the design 
of their office, which is to gain the hearts, and not to subject 
the bodies of men ; so that to edify the societies over which 
they preside they must be held in great esteem, to the end that 
everybody being persuaded of their good intentions, may will- 
ingly submit to their guidance. And they, and all those who 
desire the welfare of the church, ought to do all in their power 
to place them in high estimation, and to turn from them as 


much as possible everything that is likely to diminish the 
opinion and respect of their flocks towards them. The apos- 
tle Paul, who often gives us this lesson in the instructions 
which he has left us in his Epistles, confirms it here by his ex- 
ample, recommending Epaphroditus very affectionately to the 
church of the Philippians, of which he was the pastor, and dis- 
abusing their minds of whatever little suspicion they might 
have about his conduct. These believers had sent him to Paul, 
then a prisoner at Rome, not only to carry him their presents, 
and the aid of their charity, but also to remain about his per- 
son, and to yield him in so pressing an emergency all the ser- 
vice he possibly could until the Lord should otherwise order. 
Returning then now to them, that they might not imagine that 
it was his impatience, or his delicacy, or any other bad rea- 
son, which had induced him to return, the apostle shows them 
that it was he who had sent him, and sets before them the real 
and true reasons which had led him thus to act, all much in 
favour of Epaphroditus. He yields a plain and full testimony 
to his piety and virtue, and highly praising his fidelity, and 
the zeal with which he had acquitted himself of the business in 
which they had employed him, even to despising his own life 
for the work of the Lord, he directs them to receive him with 
peculiar joy and affection, as an excellent servant of God, and 
a precious gift of his grace. He says to them, in the first place, 
in general, that he thought himself obliged to send him back 
quickly : " I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphrodi- 
tus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellow soldier, 
but your messenger, and him that ministered to my wants." He 
then explains to them particularly the reasons for this return, 
drawn from the sickness of Epaphroditus, and from the desire 
it had awakened in him to see once more his beloved flock : 
" For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because 
that ye had heard that he had been sick. For indeed he was 
sick nigh unto death : but God had mercy on him ; and not 
on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon 
sorrow. I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when 
ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less 
sorrowful." And, finally, he recommends him to them : " Re- 
ceive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness ; and hold 
such in reputation : because for the work of Christ he was nigh 
unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of ser- 
vice towards me." This is what Paul says of Epaphroditus. 
To understand it properly, and to draw from it all the teaching 
which is given for our instruction and consolation, we will ex- 
amine these five points in order, if the Lord permit : the titles 
of Epaphroditus ; his sickness ; his cure ; his return ; and his 

I. For the first, the apostle gives him five considerable titles. 


For, in the first place, he calls him his " brother ;" then, his 
" fellow labourer ;" in the third place, his " fellow soldier ;" in 
the fourth place, " the apostle of the Philippians ;" and finally, 
"the minister of his wants or necessity." The first of these 
names shows his religion, and the holy union there was in this 
respect, both with the apostle and with other believers. For 
the christians in these early ages called each other brother, a 
name full of sweetness and friendliness, derived from the cus- 
tom of the Jewish church, of which Christianity is the daughter. 
The Hebrews, as we learn from many places of the Old and 
New Testament, called themselves brethren, because they 
were all descended from the same father, that is to say, from 
Jacob and from Abraham. Christians, after their example, 
also took that sacred name. And, indeed, it is not less suita- 
ble to them according to the Spirit, than to others according 
to the flesh ; for as the Jews were all of one race according to 
the flesh, so christians also have one Father according to the 
Spirit of Jesus Christ, who has begotten them by the same 
blood, and quickened them by the same Spirit, uniting them 
in one and the same family. They are nourished by the same 
food, consecrated by the same sacraments, brought up under 
one rule, washed by one baptism, united by one communion, 
called to the same inheritance, and destined to the same glory. 
Believers, remember this ; and every time that you see a chris- 
tian, whatever may be his condition, believe that he is your 
brother. Paul was a great apostle, elevated above all men by 
many advantages which God had given him. And yet he does 
not here disdain to call Epaphroditus his brother, and does the 
same honour elsewhere to each of the other christians, however 
much they might be lower than he. May this sacred name 
warm your charity towards those who need either your alms, 
your assistance, or your consolation. May it appease your 
feelings against those who have offended you. Eespect in them 
the blood and Spirit of the Lord, of which you both participate, 
and recall to yourselves continually what Moses formerly said 
to the Hebrews, Ye are brethren, why do ye wrong one to 
another ? 

The second title that Paul gives to Epaphroditus is, his 
" companion in labour," which relates to his office, viz. the 
holy ministry of the gospel, to which he had been consecrated, 
and in which he had acquitted himself faithfully. From which 
it appears that this excellent person had laboured in Eome it- 
self, in preaching and in the edification of people, and so much 
the more as the imprisonment of Paul prevented his doing so 
as freely as he desired. Observe, believers, I beseech you, how 
excellent this office is ! It renders us companions of Paul, and 
of all the holy apostles. It gives us an entrance into their sacred 
college, and associates us with the judges of the world. By it 


we have the honour of being brethren of Jesus Christ the 
Prince of bishops, and workers with God, which is the highest 
glory that man can have. Judge with what desire we should 
wish for such an excellent office, and what respect we ought 
to yield to those whom God has called to it, and who worthily 
exercise it in his church. 

But besides the holy ministry, the apostle still associates 
Epaphroditus in his labours, naming him, in the third place, 
his "fellow soldier;" thus expressing the part that he had 
taken in his battles against the devil, the world, and false 
brethren, for the glory of his Master, and the salvation of his 
flock. It is indeed true that it may be said of all mortal men 
in general, "that their life is a warfare upon earth," as we 
read in Job, chap. vii. 1. And it is still further true, that it is 
more peculiarly suitable to believers in Jesus Christ, who are 
all called to suffer persecution, and to carry the cross, and who 
wrestle not against flesh and blood only, but also against prin- 
cipalities and powers, against the lords of the world, the rulers 
of the age, and against spiritual wickedness in high places ; 
Satan no sooner seeing man consecrated to God by the sacra- 
ment of baptism, than he immediately begins to fight, and to 
tempt him, as he acted formerly towards Jesus Christ himself, 
the Prince of warriors ; and this is the reason why the apostle 
elsewhere exhorts believers in general to clothe themselves 
with the armour of God, that they may be able to resist the 
efforts of so potent an enemy. But as the ministers of the 
gospel have the honour to carry the standard in this sacred 
war, and to lead and encourage others at every opportunity, it 
is evident that no christians have more to do in it than they. 
It is to them that the enemy particularly addresses himself, it 
is to them that he directs the most dangerous of his blows, and 
against them that he employs his darkest malice, and the most 
poisonous of his arrows. He leaves none of them at rest ; and 
no sooner does he see them occupied in this divine ministry, 
than he raises against them from all quarters innumerable 
fightings within and without, filling their whole lives with 
trouble and bitterness. Christians ! you who by a noble vow 
have consecrated yourselves to this heavenly office, reckon that 
you are entered on a difficult and deadly warfare. Do not 
imagine that the Lord calls you to a festival, or to a soft and 
voluptuous life, in which you have only (like the greater part 
of the Romish priests) to enjoy at your ease the comfortable 
revenues of a living. What you have undertaken is a painful 
labour ; a bloody and obstinate battle, in which you will con- 
tinually have your enemy upon you. That you may have a 
share in the honour of Paul, you must also participate in his 
fatigues, and you must be his fellow soldier to partake his 
triumph. This is what he elsewhere shows to his dear disciple 


Timothy, and what every faithful minister ought always to 
have before him : " Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus 
Christ," 2 Tim. ii. 3-5. Far from us be idleness and pleasure, 
the encumbrance of the cares of the earth, and the business of 
the flesh. No one who goes to war encumbers himself with 
the affairs of this life, that he may please him who has enlisted 
him. So also, if any wrestle, he is not crowned if he have not 
fairly fought. The laurels of Jesus Christ are not otherwise 
gathered. But if the labour of these combats be great, the 
consolation and glory is infinitely greater; the supreme Pastor 
continually assisting his warriors, gently wiping away the 
perspiration, inspiring them with new strength and vigour ; 
keeping for them, on the day of his triumph, an incorruptible 
and glorious crown ; and giving them here, during their life, 
the approbation and praise of the saints. Thus he formerly 
treated Epaphroditus, consoling him in his labours, by the tes- 
timony which the apostle gave him ; placing on his head, if 
one may so say, as a rich crown of beautiful and immortal 
flowers, those two superb titles with which he honours him, 
calling him his companion in labour and fellow soldier 

He still adds two other titles which seem to relate to the 
employment which had been given him by the Philippians. 
The first is that he calls him their apostle (for this is what the 
original precisely means, and which our Bibles have translated 
"your messenger.") Some take the word apostle here to mean 
those ministers that Paul elsewhere names evangelists, who 
assisted the apostles of the Lord, and were as their lieutenants. 
For the holy apostles not being able to remain long in each 
place, were accustomed, when they had commenced the conver- 
sion of a country by their preaching, to leave there some of 
their inferiors, with authority to establish a suitable order, and 
to complete that which they had begun ; as Paul says that he 
had left Titus in the Isle of Candia, that he might continue the 
arrangement of things in proper order, which still remained 
to be done, and to ordain elders or priests in every city, Tit. 
i. 5. They imagine, then, that Epaphroditus was of this class 
of ministers, formerly left by Paul in the city of Philippi, 
with the office of establishing there, and in the surrounding 
country, the order and discipline necessary for the preservation 
of the church. And it is clear that the word of the apostle 
may indeed frequently be taken in this sense, as he says "that 
Andronicus and Junia were of note among the apostles," Eom. 
xvi. 7. And it is possible that Epaphroditus had the honour 
of being one of this class of ministers. Others, considering 
that it was by the hands of this person that the Philippians 
sent to Paul the fruit of their love, here take the word, 
" apostle of the Philippians," as meaning their ambassador, him 
that had been sent by them. For besides that this is what the 


word signifies in its first and original sense, apostle, in the 
Greek language, being the same as messenger or deputy in 
ours ; besides that, I say, it appears also that Paul sometimes 
uses the word apostle, apostle of the churches, that is to say, 
their ambassadors and deputies, for those whom they had sent 
to gather the alms and contributions which Macedonia and 
Greece made for their relief. Our Bible has followed this 
second exposition ; to that sense the last of the titles relates, 
which the apostle here gives to Epaphroditus, calling him the 
minister of his necessities; that is to say, him who had furnished 
him with the things necessary for life, amid the discomforts of 
a prison ; by which he testifies that this holy man had faithfully 
acquitted himself of the office which the Philippians had 
given him, of carrying to Paul some charitable assistance in 
his necessity, as he afterwards more clearly tells us, where he 
praises them for having taken care of him, and for having 
communicated to his affliction ; and says that he abounds, 
having received what they had sent by him, an odour of a 
sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God, Phil, 
iv. 1<±, 18. It is with good reason that Paul mentions this 
amongst the glorious eulogiums with which he honours Epa- 
phroditus. For if the Lord will one day publish in the 
general assembly of men and of angels the little charities that 
we have shown to the least among believers, the visits and the 
assistance that we have given them in their necessity, reward- 
ing them in his infinite mercy with the heavenly inheritance, 
and the crown of a blessed immortality ; what a glory was it 
to Epaphroditus to have served the apostle, the greatest of 
God's servants, and to have soothed his sorrows on this sad 
occasion, visiting his prison, softening its inconveniences, and 
refreshing him by the alms of an entire church ! Such are the 
titles given him by Paul. 

II. Let us now consider the grievous sickness into which 
this holy minister of the Lord fell, in faithfully acquitting him- 
self of his office, and of which the Philippians themselves had 
heard the sad and painful news : " You have heard that he was 
sick ; and indeed he was sick nigh unto death." If we only 
regard the natural constitution of the body, it is composed of 
so frail a substance, and of so many parts differing from one 
another, and so delicate in their complexion, and requiring so 
many things for its preservation, and exposed by sin to so 
many injuries and blows from without, that we have no reason 
to be astonished that Epaphroditus, after the troubles of so 
long a voyage, and the continual labour which he had under- 
gone for the service of Paul in the work of the Lord, should 
at last have fallen into so serious a sickness. These are 
accidents common to men, the consequence of our infirmity, 
the fruits of our toil and labour, and the forerunners of death, 


to which our disobedience has subjected us all. But if we lift 
our eyes higher, and consider on one side the providence of 
God, which watches over his own in a peculiar manner, often 
changing in their favour the most fixed order of nature ; and 
on the other the piety and fidelity of Epaphroditus in his min- 
istry, and the gifts of Paul with whom he then lived ; we shall 
doubtless find it very strange that the Lord should have per- 
mitted so excellent a man, so usefully occupied in the affairs 
of his house, to have been afflicted with such an illness ; and 
that this great apostle, who cast out demons, who cured all 
sorts of ills, who even raised the dead by touching them with 
his hands, and by the simple words of his lips, could not keep 
from such a scourge a person who was so dear to him, and that 
he should have been without the power to prevent the atten- 
tions and services of his love being interrupted by this sad ac- 
cident, or rather that they should have produced so bad an 
effect, there being much probability that this labour itself had 
brought this indisposition upon him. It is a doubt which de- 
serves to be cleared up, so much the more, as it often harasses 
the weak, and furnishes to men of the world a great matter for 
their abuse of piety, when they see the most excellent servants 
of Jesus Christ subject to the common troubles of human 
nature ; some tormented with most acute diseases, such as the 
stone, or the gout ; others afflicted with long and wearing in- 
firmities ; some plunged into poverty, others persecuted by 
calumny ; some even troubled in their minds, or falling, not- 
withstanding their piety and innocence, into strange and ex- 
traordinary disgrace, or carried out of this life by some sad 
and tragical accident. Indeed those within the church, after 
the sufferings of Job, and the trials of Paul and the other 
apostles, have no longer any cause to consider such accidents 
as arguments either of the impiety of men, or of the hatred 
of God towards them. 

But if such strange events cannot but give them pain, and 
in spite of themselves occasion them heaviness and trouble, to 
console them on the one hand, and to repel on the other the 
blasphemies of the worldly-minded, we will bring forward on 
this subject some of the reasons which lead Providence to per- 
mit such things. In the first place, then, the Lord wishes that 
his servants should be subject to these afflictions and infirmi- 
ties, lest the excellence of their piety, and of the graces with 
which he has clothed them, should raise their vanity. This 
exercise preserves them in a salutary modesty, and makes them 
feel the weakness, the misery, and the nothingness of their 
nature, and prevents their being elated with pride. Paul 
teaches us this expressly, when after having related the grace 
that he had experienced of being lifted up to heaven, and of 
having there heard " unspeakable words," he adds, that, lest he 


should be lifted up above measure on account of the excel- 
lence of these revelations, there was given him a thorn in the 
flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him ; and though he had 
earnestly asked the Lord to be freed from it, he had not been 
able to obtain deliverance. Although it is very difficult to 
define what this affliction was under which the apostle laboured, 
still it sufficiently appears that it was very grievous and pain- 
ful, from his calling it a thorn, and a pointed cross fixed in 
his flesh, and the buffetings of a messenger of Satan. It was 
like a cautery, truly vexing, but useful and beneficial, by which 
this holy man was preserved from pride. For although this 
apostle and his brethren were great and admirable persons, 
they were, notwithstanding, men, subject to our passions, and 
capable of falling into the vice common to our nature, and to 
feel vanity from their own holiness. It is from this kind of 
temptation Phariseeism sprang, the plague of the old and new 
church. God, to secure his elect from this misfortune, visits 
them with divers sorts of afflictions as a counterpoise to keep 
them low, and to prevent their rising or flying too high. He 
does it also to show us that they are men, lest seeing them in 
such full and entire happiness, we should make idols of them, 
and imagine them to have a nature different from that of others. 
For it is from hence that idolatry has entered into the world. 
As soon as we see any thing great or extraordinary in any one, 
immediately we deify him, and we willingly cry, like the audi- 
tors of Herod, " It is the voice," or work, " of a god, and not 
of a man." Thus the first idolaters changed those of their 
princes into gods, in whom there shone any valour, or good- 
ness, or uncommon power. And we read in Acts xiv. 13, that 
the Lycaonians, astonished at having seen a lame man cured by 
Paul and Barnabas, wished to offer sacrifices to them ; and that 
the barbarians of Malta, having seen the former shake off a viper, 
hanging from his finger, without being injured, said among 
themselves that he was a god, Acts xxviii. 6. This is the reason 
why these holy men themselves so eagerly repulsed these false 
imaginations, so extremely insulting to the divinity: "Why 
are your eyes fixed upon us, (said they,) as if by our own power 
or holiness we had done these things ?" Acts iii. 12. " Stand 
up, for we also are men," Acts x. 26. " Why do ye these 
things ? for we are men, subject to like passions with you," 
Acts xiv. 15. And Paul, not wishing to display all the won- 
ders with which God had gratified him, restrains himself, say- 
ing, " Lest any man should think of me above that which he 
seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me," 2 Cor. xii. 6. To 
deliver us from so dangerous an error, the Lord condescended 
to be afflicted in every way, and to pass through our greatest 
infirmities having placed purposely in our sight these true and 
indubitable marks of his humanity that we might be assured 


of it ; and it is for the same reason that the holy scripture 
has so carefully set forth the faults of the greatest servants of 
God, without hiding any of them from us. Still you see that, 
notwithstanding these warnings which the Lord has shown 
us, and the proofs of their weakness, there are people to be 
found among christians who yield them a religious worship, 
and fix their devotion even on the ashes and the relics of their 
bodies and of their clothes ; who pray to them, and invoke 
them, although dead and absent, presuming on a quality, which 
belongs to God alone, that they know all the secrets of their 
hearts ; and, not satisfied with the saints of antiquity, make 
new ones daily of those after their death, whom they formerly 
saw living in all the infirmities of this poor nature, even to 
the basest and most shameful ; and, that they may not appear 
to do so without some colour, forge miracles, the credit of 
which they impute to them ; so strong in the minds of men 
is that empty desire to deify all that appears to them to sur- 
pass their own common standard. God then was graciously 
pleased to root out this crying evil by the afflictions and ca- 
lamities with which he visited his servants. 

But he also acts thus for another reason, that the wonders 
of his power may shine gloriously, when with such weak in- 
struments, and which are not exempt from any of our miser- 
ies, he still does not fail to perform his work. And this is 
what the apostle means, when he tells us that he and his com- 
panions had the treasure of the gospel "in earthen vessels, 
that the excellence of the power may be of God, and not of 
us" 2 Cor. iv. 7. And elsewhere, when he asked to be deliv- 
ered from the messenger of Satan, which buffeted him, he was 
answered, " My grace is sufficient for thee ; for my strength is 
made perfect in weakness," 2 Cor. xii. 9. It shines in your 
weakness. The shadows of your afflictions and sufferings 
give a brilliancy to my power, which appears so much the 
brighter, the more weak and frail the instruments which it 
uses. For as the skill of a pilot is more clearly seen in the 
guidance of a bad vessel among banks and breakers, than if 
he piloted some good ship, well equipped, in a safe sea without 
danger ; so is it evident that the power and wisdom of God 
are more clearly and wonderfully shown, when he preserves 
and guides to the completion of his plans his poor believers, 
weak and subject as they are to the sufferings and miseries of 
other men, than if, stripping them of their vileness, and cloth- 
ing them from thence with an immortal nature, incapable of 
suffering, he employed them thus fitted in his work. Besides, 
he acts thus for the praise of believers themselves, afflictions 
justifying their piety, and making its lustre appear as well as 
its firmness in the eyes of men and angels. It remains sub- 
ject to calumny whilst in prosperity. Satan desires to make 


it pass for hypocrisy, and for a mercenary service, as if they 
only loved God because he spared them. It is what he for- 
merly said of Job, that he only feared the Lord because he had 
everywhere encompassed him with a hedge of providence and 
blessing, and that he would doubtless change his piety into 
blasphemy if God were to strike him. To confound this ma- 
lice, the Lord gave up to him the property and health of his 
servant, and caused his faith and his love to be seen by his 
constancy in the midst of these severe trials. Sickness, pov- 
erty, persecution, and other sufferings, are as it were the cru- 
cible of God. He makes believers pass through this fire, that 
their piet}' being preserved, and that coming out of it more 
pure and brilliant, every one may be forced to acknowledge 
their value; and this is what we are taught by the apostle 
Peter, saying that the trial of our faith in the midst of temp- 
tations is much more precious than gold which perishes, and 
though it be tried with fire shall turn " to praise, and honour, 
and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ," 1 Pet. i. 7. For be- 
sides that this manifestation is very honourable to us, and very 
useful to our neighbours in this world, it is necessary to jus- 
tify in the last day the equity and righteousness of the judg- 
ment of God, making it clearly seen that those to whom he 
will give heaven and immortality are truly believers. Paul 
teaches it to us, when he says that their patience and faith in 
afflictions is a manifest demonstration of the righteous judg- 
ment of God, that they may be counted worthy of the king- 
dom of God, as also that it is a righteous thing in God to 
render affliction to those who trouble them, and rest to those 
who are troubled, 2 Thess. v. 6, 7. For besides these trials 
tending to the praise of believers, they are also useful for their 
sanctification. They detach their hearts from earth, and make 
them feel the vanity and misery of this world. They warn 
them of the weakness and mortality of their nature, and by 
these holy thoughts mortify any desires they might have for 
the lusts of the world, and oblige them, after having renounced 
them, to take their flight towards heaven, there to embrace the 
Lord Jesus, and seek in him alone all their happiness, with 
more ardour and zeal than ever. Seeing and feeling the no- 
thingness of this life, which is but a vain shadow, they think 
of another, which is spiritual and immortal, and of the resur- 
rection, which is the door of it, and of heaven, which is its 
home, to die henceforth to the world, and to live to Jesus only. 
This is what David acknowledges, when he sings, that it is 
good for him to have been afflicted, that before he was afflicted 
he went astray, "but now (says he to the Lord) have I kept 
thy word," Psal. cxix. 67. For these and similar reasons God 
permits believers sometimes to fall into great disgrace accord- 
ing to the flesh, and to them must be referred the painful and 


dangerous sickness with which he visited Epaphroditus, not- 
withstanding his zeal and fidelity in the execution of his office. 
Hence it also appears why the apostle did not preserve him 
from it. For since it was not the wish and particular desire 
of Paul, but the will of the Lord, which ruled and rendered 
efficacious the virtue of the cures and miracles with which he 
had favoured him, dispensing them or not, according as it was 
suitable for the interests of his glory, we must not be aston- 
ished that he should not have displayed it on a man whom 
God pleased to visit with sickness. For the same reason, this 
grace of the apostle had no power, either to deliver himself 
from the pricking thorn which was fixed in his flesh, nor to 
cure Timothy of his stomach complaints and other infirmities, 
under which he continually suffered, 1 Tim. v. 23. For the 
power of miracles was given at the beginning, not to oppose 
the institutions of God, or to trouble the order of his regula- 
tions, but to confound ungodliness, to conquer incredulity, and 
to plant and establish the faith of the gospel in the world. 

III. I come now to the cure of Epaphroditus. His illness 
had been extreme, as Paul shows in saying that he had been 
near unto death : "But God (adds he) had pity on him ; and 
not on him only, but also on me, that I should not have sor- 
row upon sorrow." It is thus that the Lord often acts towards 
his own, allowing them to descend to the last degree of sorrow, 
to relieve them afterwards from it with greater eclat and glory. 
Hezekiah was brought to the gates of the grave, as he says, 
and considered his life cut off, when. God set him again on foot, 
and added to his life fifteen years. How often did he permit 
David to fall into the extremity of anguish ! This proceeding 
is very suitable both for us and for him. For us, that our 
faith may be so much the better exercised, the extremity of the 
danger firing our zeal, and warming our desires in our vows 
and prayers. For him also. The greater is our danger, and 
to all appearance without resource, the more glorious is the 
power which he displays in delivering us from it. Paul here 
entirely attributes to him the cure of Epaphroditus, whether 
he had sent it immediately from heaven, or, to procure it, had 
blessed the remedies or the medicine, or the hands of Paul, as 
some imagine. For in whatever way health may be restored 
to us, either by the use of means or without them, it is always 
the work of God, and second causes never ought to obscure his 
glory, since we know that it is he who gives them, by the se- 
cret power of his blessing, whatever efficacy they have. But 
the apostle does not simply say that the cure of Epaphroditus 
was the effect of the power of God. He says that it was a gift 
of his mercy, " God had pity on him." How could that be, 
seeing it would only prolong his sufferings, and the time of his 
misery; and that, on the contrary, to separate him from this 


body, was to draw him out of prison, and from a sad and dan- 
gerous combat, to place him in the enjoyment of celestial light? 
I acknowledge that our sojourn on earth is accompanied with 
many infirmities and evils, and that, taking it altogether, it is 
infinitely better for us to be with Christ, as the apostle tells us, 
than to languish here out of his sanctuary. But all this does 
not oppose the idea, that this life, considered in itself, away 
from this comparison, is an excellent gift of God, and a present 
of his mercy, particularly to those who (like Epaphroditus) 
possess it in Jesus Christ, and to whom it is gain to live, no 
less than to die. Added to which, the true believer, such as he 
was, has more regard to the glory of God and the good of the 
church, than to his own satisfaction ; and considering life in 
this sense, that it is useful to one or both of these objects, he 
may desire it, to have the means of finishing his course, and 
the work committed to him. If such were the desire of Epa- 
phroditus, (as it might lawfully have been,) who cannot see that 
his cure was an effect of divine mercy, whose property is to 
hear our prayers, and to grant us what we ask ? 

But besides, Paul here recognizes the goodness of God to- 
wards himself: "He had also pity on me, (says he,) that I 
might not have sorrow upon sorrow." He does not conceal 
the fact, that the death of his dear fellow labourer would have 
been very bitter, and would have overwhelmed him with a 
new trouble ; by which he again acknowledges that his present 
situation in the bonds of Nero was a cause of sadness. For 
the patience and courage of the saints in afflictions, is not a 
proud insensibility, such as some of the pagan philosophers 
demanded in their wise men, desiring that they should feel no 
sentiment of grief or sorrow. This is to despoil man of his 
nature, and to turn him into stone or brass. Christian piety 
tempers the passions, but it does not eradicate them. It softens 
and tranquillizes, but it does not extinguish them. To render 
man courageous it does not make him insensible. It leaves 
him the innocent and necessary feelings of nature. Paul felt 
the inconveniences of his prison, the loss of his liberty, and 
that it took from him the means of going hither and thither to 
sow in the ministry of the gospel. But however grievous 
these things were to him, he supported them, nevertheless, 
courageously ; the will of God, and other considerations of re- 
ligion, softening the feeling, and leading all the desires of his 
nature captive under the yoke of the Lord. It is properly in 
this that the sacrifice of our obedience consists, when we pre- 
sent to God a heart not insensible to his chastisements, but 
tamed and subdued to suffer them with patience and resigna- 
tion, and to submit to his will both our tears and sorrows. 
Paul was touched in the same way with the sickness of his 
friend, and would have been still more so by his death ; buft 


without murmuring or resistance, ruling his sorrows and his 
feelings in such a way that he had finally settled and subdued 
them to the orders of his Master. Thus, elsewhere, he does 
not positively forbid believers to weep for the death of friends 
in Christ, but not to weep excessively, or to suffer in the man- 
ner of those who had no hope, 1 Thess. iv. 13. In the first 
place, the death of every man, whoever he may be, is a sad 
thing, and frightful in itself; an effect of sin, and of the wrath 
of God against human nature ; hence the grave of Lazarus drew 
tears even from the eyes of the Saviour of the world. The 
death of a dear friend, such as Bpaphroditus was to Paul, is 
still more sad; for besides the general horror that it occasions, 
it deprives us of the pleasure of his conversation and of his 
good services. But we cannot doubt that the apostle looked 
more to the interests of the church than to his own, in the 
death of Bpaphroditus, which would have taken from the Phi- 
lippians an excellent pastor, whom it would have been difficult, 
or perhaps even impossible, worthily to replace, the number 
of similar labourers always being very small. It is this con- 
sideration, more than any other, which would have caused the 
sadness which the apostle confesses he should have felt at this 

IV. This reason led him to send him back to them quickly 
as soon as he was well ; in which the feelings of Epaphroditus 
were conformed to his own. For this good servant of God, 
knowing that the news of his malady had much grieved the 
church of the Philippians, and touched with reciprocal love, 
desired, as soon as he was in health, to see them again, that he 
might change their sorrow into joy : " For (says the apostle) 
he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because you 
had heard that he had been ill." Which shall we most admire, 
the affection of the flock towards their shepherd, or the love 
of the shepherd towards his flock? Although distant and far 
separated, they have the same mind, the same desires, the same 
feelings. It is one of the miracles of love which unites and 
blends thus what distance of place in vain separates. The 
Philippians love and so tenderly honour Epaphroditus, that 
they feel his illness as much as he did himself as soon as they 
heard of it. Epaphroditus so cordially loves the Philippians, 
that the sorrow which his illness had occasioned them causes 
him more anguish than he felt from his own malady. He 
longs for them all, with a very remarkable affection, and can 
have no rest until his presence shall have dried up their tears, 
and drawn their minds from the pain they had felt. happy 
churches which have such pastors ! happy pastors who have 
such churches ! What in the world is sweeter, more beautiful, 
more pleasing to God, or more beneficial to men, than this 
holy union and sympathy of the affections ? What is the sor- 


row that it cannot soften ? or the pain that it cannot soothe? 
or the anxiety that it cannot console ? The apostle, that he 
might not injure it, nor deprive either of their full satisfaction, 
consents to the departure of Bpaphroditus, and obliged by these 
necessary reasons, sends their dear pastor back to the Philip- 
pians, rather preferring to deprive himself of the good ser- 
vices which he rendered to him at this difficult period, than to 
see him languish in that secret anxiety which the absence 
from his beloved flock occasioned him. " I sent him therefore 
(says the apostle) the more carefully, that, when ye see him 
again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful." 
He himself also enters into the fellowship of their joy : he 
takes so lively a share in it that he forgets his own interests. 
See, I pray you, my brethren, in this example, the power of 
love, and how absolute the empire which it exercises in the 
minds of believers. When Epaphroditus shall be gone, says he, 
"I shall be less sorrowful." What then, O holy apostle? 
Does the presence of such an excellent man whom you esteem 
and love so much give you sorrow ? Is his society wearisome ? 
Are those offices and duties which he has performed towards you 
with such kindness and attention become painful to you? Yes, 
he replies, and his absence (who would think it?) will bring me 
comfort; and, what is still stranger, it is in part the love itself 
that I bear him which makes me wish for his departure ; for, 
whilst with me, he cannot be with that beloved flock, by which 
he is so ardently desired, and which he himself longs for, and 
where his presence is no less necessary than it is wished. I 
am sorry that consideration for me takes him from them, and 
that the offices which he renders me should prevent his acquit- 
ting himself of those which he owes to his Philippians. A con- 
sideration which costs so much is painful to me ; I cannot en- 
joy it without grief, and it is to comfort myself that I send 
him back. It is not simply for the satisfaction of the Philip- 
pians, it is also for my own. This is, dear brethren, the true 
meaning of these words of the apostle. 

V. After having thus explained the reason of his sending 
Epaphroditus back, he finally recommends him to his flock: 
" Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness." " In 
the Lord ;" that is to say, for the love of the Lord, as his faith- 
ful servant, whom he has given you, whose life he has pre- 
served, and whom he restores to you safe and sound for your 
preservation and edification. This is what Jesus Christ calls 
receiving someone in his name: "Whosoever receiveth one 
of these little ones in my name receiveth me," Mark ix. 37. 
Here he regulates the manner in which they ought to welcome 
their pastor, not according to the fashion of the men of the 
world, with festivals and carnal rejoicings, but as becometh 
saints, with reverence and spiritual love, cherishing him, and 


respecting in his person the Lord, of whom he is the servant. 
" With all joy ;" that is to say, with full and perfect content, 
with a pure and sincere joy, which fills the whole heart, so to 
speak, as he elsewhere does, where he says, "Though I may 
have all faith," that is to say, a very complete faith, even to 
" remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing," 1 
Cor. xiii. 2. But from Epaphroditus individually the apostle 
extends his order to all good and faithful pastors in general : 
" Hold such in reputation." Look upon them and cherish 
them as pearls and precious jewels, drawn from the treasures 
of God for the consolation and salvation of your souls. The 
more scarce they are, the more ought they to be esteemed. It 
is the will of God who gives them to us, and who often very 
severely punishes those who despise them, sending them bad 
and faithless ones, such as deserve their contempt. But the 
common edification of the church compels us also to the same 
duty, there being nothing which more conduces to it than the 
lawful authority of good pastors, or which does more harm 
than bad ones. And although the Philippians had sufficiently 
known the value of Epaphroditus by their own experience, 
and also what the apostle had just said sufficiently testified it, 
still, not being able to satisfy himself in the praise of this 
good man, and still more to draw upon him the hearts and af- 
fections of his flock, he further dilates on his zeal and fidelity, 
adding, in the last verse of this chapter, " that for the work of 
Christ he had been nigh unto death, not regarding his life to 
supply the Philippians' lack of service to him." He does not 
mean that the Philippians had failed in affection towards him. 
On the contrary, he praises them for their love in many 
places of this Epistle. But their absence prevented their ren- 
dering him in his bonds the services which they owed him 
and which they would willingly have yielded if they had been 
present ; it neither being possible nor convenient that a whole 
church should transport itself to Eome for this purpose. It is, 
then, of this want that he speaks, and which Epaphroditus had 
endeavoured to supply ; exerting all his strength in the service 
of the apostle, that he himself might, in some measure, supply 
whatever consolation the whole church would have given him 
had it been on the spot. This is what he also calls " the work 
of the Lord," for two reasons : First, Because to serve his mi- 
nisters is to serve Jesus Christ, as he declares in many places : 
"He who receiveth you receiveth me, and whatsoever you 
have done to one of these little ones you have done to me 
also." Secondly, Because it is a work that the Lord has com- 
manded us, wishing that we should honour and succour in a 
peculiar manner those who suffer for his name, and especially 
the ministers of his word. He says, then, that Epaphroditus, 
to acquit himself worthily of this duty, had not had any re- 


gard to his own life, and had been nigh unto death. Some 
understand by this the danger in which he had been by visit- 
ing tbe apostle, drawing upon himself thereby the hatred and 
cruelty of the ministers of Nero, who retained him in prison ; 
as we know that tyrants often seize and condemn to death 
those who wish to favour or comfort believers, whom they per- 
secute for the gospel's sake. But it appears from the last 
chapter of the Acts, and from this Epistle itself, that Rome 
did not then exei'cise towards Paul that inhumanity which she 
has since used, and still uses at this time, towards the faithful 
servants of God ; and the end of this text clearly shows that 
it must relate here to the illness of Epaphroditus, which he 
had drawn upon himself by too much labour, preferring rather 
to fail in the attention which he owed to his own health than 
in the services which he was obliged to yield to Paul; so that 
his illness itself was both the effect and sign of his piety. For 
though there is no merit in being ill, there is much in not 
sparing oneself for the service of Christ. 

Such, dear brethren, is our exposition of this text. It re- 
mains to apply it to our own profit ; and that so holy and 
salutary a doctrine should not uselessly reach our ears, let us 
imprint upon our hearts the images of the three examples 
which are set before us, in Epaphroditus, the Philippians, and 
Paul. Let us contemplate and imitate them, let us form the 
affections of our minds, and the actions of our life, after these 
excellent models. 

The illness of Epaphroditus teaches us, in the first place, 
not to judge of men by the accidents which befall them ; as if 
affliction and disgrace were the necessary marks of a bad cause. 
Let us remember the warning of the prophet, "Blessed is he 
that considereth the poor," Psal. xli. 1. Innocence is not al- 
ways in prosperity, and piety often falls into great calamities ; 
God permitting it to be so for the reasons explained above. 
And as we should act with this equity to others, we ought also 
to have it towards ourselves. Never let the illnesses with 
which God visits us either make us doubt his love or our elec- 
tion. He has truly promised us in this world his friendship, 
his peace, the joy of his Spirit, and the assistance of his Christ, 
and in another, immortality. But he nowhere promises that 
we shall be exempted from the evils and miseries of the pre- 
sent life. He declares to us, on the contrary, that we shall be 
more subject to them than others. Let us then receive these 
strokes from his hand with patience and gentleness of mind, 
and instead of murmuring or hardening ourselves under the 
rod, let us profit by it, as a salutary correction and an honour- 
able trial ; learning from it the vanity of this life, and of all the 
good that it possesses, thinking rightly of the infirmity of our 
nature, and of death, which will assuredly destroy it, to with- 


draw our affections from earth, to renounce vice and its lusts, 
and to aspire only after a blessed immortality, the end and 
prize of our holy calling. And as to your life, if it is useful, 
either to the church or to your families, I do not forbid you to 
desire it; I simply wish that you would ask it from God, and 
expect it from his mercy alone, who brings to the tomb, and 
lifts you from it, when he will ; and that, when you have re- 
covered your health, you- would ascribe to his goodness all the 
glory of your cure, devoutly consecrating to his service all 
the fruits of a life which you hold only from his grace. 

But while the illness of Epaphroditus gives us this lesson, 
the cause whence it arose teaches us another, not less neces- 
sary. For he had gained it in the work of the Lord. hap- 
py sickness, which carries its consolation with it ! for it is not 
possible that so good and so holy a cause should produce a 
bad effect. How different from this are our diseases, which 
are mostly the consequences of our vices, the effects of our 
intemperance, our vanity, or our avarice ! as those of whom 
Job said, " whose bones are full of the sins of their youth," 
Job xx. 11 ; bad fruits of a bad tree; shameful effects of an 
evil cause. Believers, if it is not possible that you should be 
exempt from infirmities and indispositions, order your life in 
such a manner that, while suffering them, you may have the 
consolation of knowing that it is in the service of God, and 
not in that of the world ; that it is the work of Christ, and 
not that of Satan, or of vice, which has drawn them upon you. 
It is true that, strictly speaking, we can and ought to take 
care of our life, so moderating the lawful labours of our call- 
ing that they should not injure our health. But where the 
service of God calls us, we must put everything under our 
feet, and like the blessed Epaphroditus, courageously hazard 
health and life, and have no regard to either, rather than fail 
in the work of our Master. The illnesses caught, the deaths en- 
dured, with such a good design and for so holy a cause, are 
martyrdoms before God, which he will assuredly crown with 
abundant consolation and immortal glory! 

But besides these general lessons, Epaphroditus especially 
warns pastors to cherish a warm affection for their flocks, sen- 
sibly to feel their sorrows, and to hold nothing so dear as their 
consolation. It was, doubtless, a very great and pleasing sat- 
isfaction to Epaphroditus to be with Paul, to listen to his hea- 
venly words, and to see his noble bonds. But as soon as he 
knew that the report of his sickness had put his church in 
pain, he was willing to leave all to restore it to joy. How 
also, believers, does both the example of the Philippians, and 
the command of the apostle to them to receive Epaphroditus 
with joy in the Lord, oblige you to share the good and bad 
fortune of your pastors, to compassionate their sorrows, to re- 


joice in their happiness, and by love and cordial reverence to 
soften all the bitterness of so laborious an office ! 

Finally, The example of Paul, who cheerfully yielded to 
the edification of the Philippians every advantage and pleasure 
which he received from the presence of Epaphroditus, shows 
to both mutually, that there is nothing so dear to us that we 
should not willingly give up to the interests of the church, 
reckoning our losses gain, when they are needful for the con- 
solation of our brethren; remembering the love of the Lord 
Jesus, who, being rich, became poor, and, being the King of 
glory, submitted to the greatest shame, that he might enrich 
and glorify us. To him, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, blessed for ever, be honour and glory, for ever and 
ever. Amen. 

Preached at Charenton, Sunday, 4th August, 16-il. 




Madame: — These sermons would have belonged to your 
late mother, Madame la Mareschale de la Force, as a continua- 
tion of those which I have already presented to the public 
under her patronage ; but since it has pleased God to take her 
to the repose of his heavenly kingdom, where she has no 
longer need of our feeble assistance, seeing fully and clearly 
in the great Source of light those divine truths which we can 
behold only through a thick veil, and can explain only in a 
stammering tongue, I consider myself obliged, madame, by all 
means, to dedicate my little work to you. And if that happy 
spirit, in the enjoyment of the felicity she now possesses, ac- 
cording to her hope and the promise of her Lord, can have 
any knowledge of the events which occur on earth, I feel 
assured she will approve my choice, and rejoice to see the page 
formerly destined for her name occupied by yours. For not 
only are you of her blood, and the eldest of the children she 
has left behind, but you also inherit her virtues. You assemble 
the church in your house, as she was wont in her lifetime, and, 
like her, you there strengthen its confidence in God and the 
knowledge of his word. You train up the children which 
God has given you, and form them for his service by diligent 
instruction, and by the example of a holy life. You carefully 
preserve the sacred deposit of faith which (to speak with Paul) 
dwelt first in your ancestors, and especially in that great hero, 
whose praise is in the world and in the church, Monseigneur 
du Plessis, your grandfather. I therefore deem it my duty to 
honour virtues which flourish on so illustrious a stem, and 
spread a pure and sweet odour through the house of God. Be 


pleased, then, madame, to receive this book which 1 present to 
you, not only as the heiress of your late mother, to whom it 
belonged, but also as a sincere testimonial of the esteem which 
I feel towards you, and of the ardent desire I have to promote 
the edification of yourself and all your family as far as I am 

To God I commend you in my prayers, and remain inviol- 
ably, Madame, 

Your humble and obedient servant, 

Paris, April Uth, 1647. DAILLÉ. 


VERSES 1 — 3. 

Finally , my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same 
things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe, 
Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. 
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, 
and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. 

As there is no doctrine in the world more contrary to the 
kingdom and interests of Satan than the gospel of Jesus Christ, 
so there is none which that mortal enemy of the human race 
detests and combats more cruelly. Besides the persecutions 
that he raises from without against this divine truth, he attacks 
it still more from within by his seductive artifices, inspiring 
its ministers with various errors, in order to corrupt the purity 
of the sacred word, and thereby render it ineffectual to the 
salvation of men. 

This the apostle foretold to the Corinthians, and the expe- 
rience of all ages has verified the prediction, " There must be 
also heresies among you, that they which are approved among 
you may be made manifest," 1 Cor. xi. 19. And he also warned 
the Ephesians, that " after his departure would grievous wolves 
thrust themselves in among them, not sparing the flock ; and 
that even of themselves would men arise, speaking perverse 
things, in order to draw away disciples after them," Acts xx. 
29, 30. In fact, we learn from the Epistles of this holy man, 


that scarcely had he quitted the churches he had established 
among the nations, when false teachers immediatelj presented 
themselves, to tempt them and corrupt their faith. Amongst 
others he complains often of the Jews, who, from the commence- 
ment of Christianity, used every effort to confound the gospel with 
the law, and mingle Moses with Jesus Christ; endeavouring, 
under various plausible pretences, to introduce among believers 
circumcision, and the observance of the other ceremonies of 
the Old Testament. It was these miserable people who had 
tainted the churches of Galatia with the pernicious leaven of 
their false doctrine, as appears by the divine Epistle addressed 
to them by Paul, wherein that true servant of God, burning 
with zeal for the honour of his Lord, argues at- some length 
against those impostors, with apostolic plainness and vehe- 
mence. They had also tempted the Philippians, although 
without success, those believers having courageously resisted 
their seductions, and constantly maintained the doctrine of 
Paul in all its purity. But as love is always full of appre- 
hension, the apostle, fearing that the arts of those deceivers 
might at length make some impression on the hearts of his 
dear disciples, warns them in this chapter to stand on their 
guard. Hitherto he had armed their faith against persecution 
and the vices of the world, now he fortifies it against the as- 
saults of error. And as in the former part of this Epistle he 
presents to them Jesus Christ, in whose humiliation and glory 
we have abundance of consolations in affliction and of preser- 
vatives against sin ; so in this second, he again sets him forth 
as the inexhaustible source of justice and truth, in opposition 
to all the seductions of error. He also declares to them his 
own example, who, having every advantage which those false 
teachers possessed, and in a much higher degree than they, had, 
nevertheless, voluntarily renounced all to be found in Jesus 
Christ. Then, having exhorted the Philippians to modesty, 
concord, and the imitation of his conduct and conversation, 
and having manifested the nlthiness of those evil-doers who 
thought only of their belly and the pleasures of the flesh ; he 
concludes, by setting before their eyes the dignity of christians, 
and the excellence of their condition who have no inheritance 
on earth, but are citizens of heaven, from whence they expect 
Christ their Lord, and his blessed immortality. 

This, dear brethren, is the subject and summary of this 
chapter, which shall be hereafter, if it please God, matter for 
our discourses. At present, we shall endeavour to explain to 
you the first part, contained in the three verses you have just 
heard : and, to proceed with order, we shall consider, First, 
the consolation given by the apostle to the Philippians at the 
commencement, which is, as it were, the conclusion of the 
whole preceding chapter, and the foundation of the present: 
" Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord." 


Then, secondly, follows a brief excuse which he makes to 
them for teaching them often the same things : " To write the 
same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you 
it is safe." 

Thirdly, We shall see the grave and solemn warning he gives 
them to beware of false apostles : "Beware of dogs, beware of 
evil- workers, beware of the concision." 

And fourth and lastly, We shall consider the reasons which 
he adds : " For we are the circumcision, which worship God in 
the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence 
in the flesh." 

I. Touching the first point where the apostle commands the 
Philippians to " rejoice in the Lord," some have considered 
that it relates simply to what had been said in the preceding 
chapter respecting the mission, the recovery, and the zeal of 
Epaphroditus, and to his own contentment in the midst of 
bonds, and firm resolution to live or die joyfully for the gospel. 
As though he had said to these believers, Since your affairs 
and mine are in this state, nothing remains but that you should 
be content, and extract from these mercies of God a pure and 
spiritual joy worthy of that heavenly Sovereign and Lord 
whom you serve. But I consider that, besides this, it relates 
principally to what he had before taught of the humiliation of 
Christ, and the glory to which he had been raised, and to the 
providence with which he governs all things ; concluding from 
thence, that since they have the honour of belonging to this 
sovereign Lord, and of being in him by faith in his gospel, 
they might henceforth be at rest, rejoicing in the possession of 
so rich a treasure, without being astonished or afflicted at the 
misfortunes which might happen to them, or with which others 
might threaten them. This is signified by the word "finally," 
which he uses at the commencement to unite this and the pre- 
ceding chapter; that, since they are built upon Jesus Christ, and 
their salvation is secure in him, they have now but to perse- 
vere with constancy, and to rejoice during the remainder of 
their life with that perfect peace which such a certainty of bliss 
is calculated to produce in their hearts ; seeking and finding 
in Christ that consolation in distress, and that peace and joy, 
which their souls require in the midst of so many trials. For 
Satan, by the troubles he raises up for believers, endeavours 
to imbitter every feeling, and render the name and the gospel 
of Christ unpleasing. But the apostle desires that we should 
so taste the grace of God, that this holy feeling should sweeten 
every thing, and render us joyful in all the doubts, trials, and 
afflictions of this life. Indeed, if we have Jesus Christ truly 
dwelling in our hearts by faith, no grief, no labour, no calamity 
is capable of hurting us, or of destroying our peace. For in 
him is abundantly found a fulness of every good, and a deli- 


verance from every evil. Let the world and the devil take 
away from the believer everything he holds dear on earth, let 
them plunge him into the most dreadful evils, — they cannot 
take away his joy, because Jesus Christ, the Prince of peace, 
the Father everlasting, the Author of all grace, dwells in him ; 
and he preserves all those who possess him in the fires, and 
even in death itself; and, in spite of the efforts of their ene- 
mies, defends and maintains in them the life, happiness, and 
immortality which he gave them. 

Eejoice then in him, beloved brethren ; shut your eyes to 
all other objects, and regard none but this. Consider the 
grace that Christ has given you, and it is impossible but that 
the consideration must bring with it solid and true peace. 
This Saviour has appeased the wrath of God ; he has rendered 
him propitious and favourable to you ; he has abolished the 
curse of the law; he has conquered death; he has opened 
heaven to you ; he has made you the children of God, brethren 
and fellow citizens with angels ; he has united himself to you, 
having mingled his blood and spirit with yours; so that hence- 
forth you are co-heirs with him, " members of his body, of his 
flesh, and of his bones ;" you partake of his kingdom and 
glory. But we shall have (with God's help) another opportu- 
nity of treating more fully on the subject of the christian's 
joy, when, in the following chapter, we shall find the apostle 
repeating the same command to us in stronger terms: "Re- 
joice in the Lord always ; and again I say, Rejoice." 

For the present, I will only add that Paul here lays the foun- 
dation of the exhortation to the Philippians which follows, to 
beware of false teachers of the circumcision ; it being evident 
that if these believers rejoice in the Lord as he commands 
them, if they rely on him as on a sure foundation, where they 
can enjoy true peace, it will be in vain that these people press 
them to mingle the observances of Moses with the gospel ; for 
all these additional ceremonies, whether they be of Moses or of 
others, which false teachers are continually endeavouring to 
introduce into the religion of christians, proceed purely from 
the distaste which they have for Christ. It appears to them 
that faith is too simple and naked a thing, and therefore they 
smother it with their own inventions, and accuse those who 
content themselves with Christ alone of spoiling religion of 
her necessary ornaments. This was the sin of the Israelites 
in the desert, who were disgusted with the manna sent from 
God, as meagre food, and coveted the flesh and onions of Egypt. 
These Jews also, of whom the apostle here complains, despised 
like them the simplicity of the Lord Jesus, the true Bread 
which came down from heaven, and wished to unite with him 
Moses and a carnal service. And from the same root springs 
the disordered appetite of those who, in the present day, add 


to the gospel of Jesus so many traditions and human ceremo- 

Very wisely, therefore, does the apostle, both here and in 
his Epistle to the Colossians, shield believers from this snare, 
by setting forth Jesus Christ as the source of joy, the treasury 
of all good, which contains in its simplicity every grace of 
which we stand in need, and where dwelleth the fulness of the 
Godhead bodily. 

II. Having laid the foundation, he goes on to the warning 
which he gives them to beware of false teachers. But, first, he 
makes a short preface, which we now, in the second place, con- 
sider : " To write the same things unto you, to me indeed is 
not grievous, but for you it is safe." 

These " things," of which he speaks, may relate generally to 
all the points of doctrine on which he had already dwelt in 
this Epistle, or to those on which he might hereafter dwell. 
But it seems best to restrict them especially to the warning 
which he was about to give the Philippians to beware of the 
corruptions of false teachers. It is unnecessary to suppose he 
had written any previous letter to them, in which he had 
treated of the same subject. It is sufficient that he had spoken 
of it when with them, recommending them, as he did his other 
disciples, not to lend an ear to those impostors who wished to 
replace christians under the yoke of the Mosaic law. He there- 
fore replies to an idea that may have arisen in their minds, 
that it was useless to take the trouble of repeating in his letter 
the same warning which he had so often given them in word. 
No, says he to the believers, it is neither grievous to me, nor 
useless to you, that I should frequently teach the same thing. 
It rather insures your safety. This repetition may serve to 
place your faith out of danger, and secure it at all points 
against the assaults and temptations of the enemy. For the 
dulness of our minds, in every thing regarding salvation, is 
such, that we easily pass over that which is told us but once, 
or we imagine that at least it is not a matter of any conse- 
quence. Fearing, therefore, that his silence might place the 
faith of the Philippians in danger, the apostle is not ashamed 
to reiterate the warnings which they had formerly heard from 
him. And in thus acting he gives an excellent lesson to those 
in the church who preach, and to those who hear, not to be 
weary ; the former with teaching, the latter with hearing, often- 
times the same things. 

As for the first, since God has established them pastors of 
his flock, it is not enough that they present to the sheep the 
pasture of the heavenly word once or twice, on that they chase 
away once or twice the wolf from the fold. They must con- 
tinue these duties to the end without weariness. For as the 
enemy watches night and day for the destruction of the church ; 


as he is never discouraged, but returns again and again, pre- 
senting himself boldly, and incessantly sounding in our ears 
the same lies and seductions; it is but reasonable that we should 
oppose indefatigable vigilance to his obstinate effrontery, and 
the firmness of the truth to the importunity of his lies ; and 
that we should have as much ardour and zeal for your salva- 
tion as he has for your ruin. 

And as for you, believers, instead of being wearied with our 
continual reiteration of your duties, Oh, take it in good part, 
remembering that it is for your greater security that we thus 
act towards you. Let not your ears be so refined that they 
cannot endure to hear a thing repeated more than once. Alas ! 
the life of the majority too visibly proves, that however often 
truth may have been set before them, it has not yet been well 
understood. We cannot therefore explain too often what you 
do not yet comprehend ; and if the gospel of Christ cannot be 
too much in our hearts, it is evident it cannot be too often in 
our mouths. 

III. But the apostle, having now secured the attention of 
the Philippians, gives them a holy and salutary warning against 
the corruptions of false teachers, in these words : " Beware of 
dogs, beware of evil-workers, beware of the concision." We 
have already said, that he here alludes to those among the con- 
verted Jews, who considered the observance of the Mosaic law 
and its ceremonies, as circumcision, &c, to be necessary before 
christians could be justified in the sight of God. That they 
are the same against whom he argues at length in the Epistles 
to the Galatians and Colossians, is manifest from the words 
and ideas which he here uses ; it being evident that they are 
perfectly descriptive of these people, and cannot relate to 
others. He describes them especially by three remarkable ap- 
pellations : 

First, " Dogs." 

Secondly, " Evil- workers ;" and, 

Thirdly, " The concision." 

The " dog " is in all languages the image and symbol of im- 
pudence, and the most ancient of heathen poets* gives to a 
man the eyes of a dog to signify extreme impudence, because 
the countenance, and particularly the eye, should be the seat 
of bashfulness. Scripture, also, uses the name of this animal 
as a term of reproach, to describe a profane person, a hardened 
sinner, who sells himself a slave to all kinds of vice without 
shame before God or man. It is in this sense the word is used 
in Matt. vii. 15, where our Lord forbids his disciples to give 
" holy things to the dogs ;" and also in Rev. xxii. 15, where the 
Holy Spirit banishes from the celestial city "dogs, and sor- 

* Homer. 


cerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and 
whatsoever loveth and maketh a lie." In the book of Proverbs, 
chap. xxvi. 11, and in the Second Epistle of Peter, those who 
fall many times into the same wickedness are compared to 
" dogs :" " As the dog returneth to his own vomit again, so 
doth the fool to his folly." And our Lord gives the same name 
to pagans, who live far from communion with God and his 
people, when he says to the Canaanitish woman, " It is not 
meet to take the children's bread, and give it to the dogs," 
Matt. xv. 26, i. e., on account of their ignorance, brutality, and 
profaneness. The law placed the dog among unclean animals, 
so that even the money procured by the sale of a dog was an 
abomination to the Lord, Deut. xxiii. 18. All these reasons 
prove that the apostle in this place, under the general word 
" dogs," would describe false teachers. For their impudence 
was evident, in that they gave the lie boldly to the real servants 
of God, and dared to re-establish what Christ had abolished. 
They had also fallen back into their original error, for, from 
Jews having become Christians, they had again returned to 
Judaism, wishing to mix it with the gospel. And lastly, they 
had thrown themselves by this out of communion with God, 
and out of his church, none being qualified to have part therein 
but those " who worship him in spirit and in truth." But it 
is very likely that, in calling them " dogs," Paul had especial 
reference to that filthy and shameful gluttony which he after- 
wards, at the close of this chapter, so expressly blames, saying, 
" Whose belly is their god, and whose glory is in their shame, 
who mind earthly things, who are enemies of the cross of 
Christ." From whence it appears, that however fair and spe- 
cious the pretensions of these people might be, yet, in reality, 
they were guided only by the flesh and the belly. For it is 
this profane and sensual brutality which is specially pointed 
out by the name here given them of " dogs," as though he 
would say that they were but filthy and gluttonous beasts, who 
railed against wholesome doctrine that they might the more 
indulge the lusts of the flesh. 

Isaiah also calls the false teachers of his day " greedy dogs 
which can never have enough," Isa. lvi. 11. 

The second title the apostle gives them is that of "evil- 
workers." I would not absolutely deny that in naming them 
thus, he might have reference to that which these people were 
incessantly crying, Works, works, pretending that through 
them alone man can be justified before God. But it certainly 
appears to me more probable that Paul intends simply to blame 
them, and to reject the pains they took to preach, and to run 
hither and thither, because it was done with a bad design, and 
still worse success, both with regard to themselves and to 
others. They laboured — but it was to tear up that which had 


been well and happily planted, and to sow the seeds of dissen- 
sion and error. They laboured — but it was for the ruin of 
souls, like Satan, who disquiets the world, and prowls around 
the church to tempt men and draw them into perdition ; or 
like the scribes and Pharisees, who compassed sea and land but 
to render their proselytes doubly the children of hell. For 
there are always in the world numbers of these workers, who 
give themselves much trouble to do that which is of no value, 
and who, under pretence of edifying the church, embroil and 
ruin every thing ; unhappy people ! who, after so much time 
and trouble lost in these visionary schemes, reap no other fruit 
than their own damnation, and the utter confusion of those 
who were carried away by their impostures. It would be in- 
finitely better, both for themselves and others, that they should 
remain all their life with their arms crossed in the most pro- 
found indolence, than consume themselves thus by labouring 
in a bad cause. 

Lastly, the apostle calls these false teachers " the concision :" 
" Beware of the concision." This word is not in use in our 
language. But our Bibles have necessarily retained it, in order, 
in some measure, to represent the elegance and grace of the 
original term, and to preserve the resemblance which exists 
between the word signifying circumcision and that which the 
apostle here uses, which signifies to retrench, cut off, tear away ; 
and which is rendered "concision," from a Latin word, ap- 
proaching as you see to circumcision. These false teachers re- 
tained the Mosaic ceremonial, and especially circumcision, the 
seal of the old covenant, the livery and mark of those who 
had part therein, of such great importance under the law, that 
even the Sabbath, one of the most ancient ceremonies of the 
primitive race, yielded to it, it being permitted to circumcise 
infants on the Sabbath day (all other work or manual labour 
being forbidden) when it happened that this was the eighth 
day from the birth of the child. On this account the whole 
Jewish nation is frequently called " the circumcision," from its 
most ancient and necessary mark. For this reason those false 
teachers who retained the custom among the christians might 
be called by this name, and perhaps they gloried in it, calling 
themselves and those of their sect " the circumcision," as though 
none but they were in covenant with God. Paul, to put down 
their presumption, instead of this glorious name of circum- 
cision, gives them another nearly approaching to it in sound, 
and in the number of syllables, but very distinct in sense; for 
he calls them " the concision." that is, the cut off, the diminished 
ones, and not " the circumcision ;" meaning to show, that by 
their doctrine and the practice of this ceremony, instead of 
placing men in covenant with the Lord, they cut them off, and 
unhappily divided the church, instead of uniting it to the 


Saviour; this mark which they made in the bodies of their 
miserable disciples being no longer, as formerly, under the old. 
covenant, the sign of their renunciation of the sins of the flesh, 
but rather a sign and seal of their renunciation of Christ, and 
of the wounds and divisions which they were making in Chris- 
tianity. It is a mode of expression somewhat similar to that 
of some learned writers of the church of Rome, who, describ- 
ing the lives of some of their popes, which they acknowledge 
to have been very wicked and pernicious to the church, call 
them not apostolical, (which is the title usually given to the 
popes,) but apostatical* 

Such was also the witty saying of a learned man of onr 
nation,f who, speaking of Pope Boniface VIII., well known 
for his violence against this kingdom, called him Maliface in- 
stead of Boniface. This figure of speech is not uncommon in 
the best authors, and teachers of rhetoric call it paronomasia. 
It is thus therefore that Paul calls these false judaizing teachers 
" the concision," and not " the circumcision." Upon which we 
have three remarks to make before we pass on ; the first upon 
the words, and the two others on the things themselves. And, 
first, with regard to the words ; this example teaches us that 
the instruments of the Holy Spirit disdain not that elegance 
which allusions and the affinity of words give to language, 
provided they consist with decency and gravity, and do not 
fall into affectation and buffoonery, both of which are un- 
worthy of an honest man, and still more so of a servant of 
God. Thus we find that elsewhere the apostle often, with 
beauty and elegance, contrasts various words and ideas with 
their opposites, and that even sometimes he seeks to ornament 
his language by allusions from the Hebrew and Syriac ; as, for 
example, when he says, " the praise of a real Jew is of God," 
Rom. v. 29, he evidently alludes to the origin of the name 
"Jew," which in Hebrew signifies praise ; and in another place, 
where he says " our afflictions work out for us a weight of 
glory," 1 Cor. iv. 17, he, without doubt, makes allusion to the 
word " glory" in the Syriac, where it signifies weight or heavi- 
ness. The prophet Isaiah, among the writers of the Old Tes- 
tament, makes such frequent use of these ornaments, that 
there is scarcely one of the writers of his age whose lan- 
guage is so flowery, and so abundant in figures and allusions. 
ÏVom whence it appears how unreasonable those are who wish 
to banish these elegancies from the words and writings of God's 

But we must, secondly, remark, most carefully, the inutility, 
or, to speak plainly, the poison, of those things which are pressed 
into religion without the command of God. God had formerly 

* Gembrard in his Chronicle, A. D. 901. f M. Servin. 


instituted circumcision ; he had given it to Abraham, and after- 
wards, by the law of Moses, had again commanded the Israel- 
ites to observe it. It was the seal of the justice of God, and 
the token of his covenant. Yet, nevertheless, when Jesus 
Christ had abolished the carnal law, and established divine 
worship in spirit and in truth, circumcision became concision, 
a cutting off, instead of a union. Such, without doubt, is the 
nature of every ceremony of man's device, as abstaining from 
meats, observing days, &c. These are no longer the livery of 
God's people ; the marks of our faith in him, or the seals of 
our union to him. They are vain things, of no other service 
than to rend the mystical body of Christ, to wound the con- 
science, and to injure rather than edify. 

And, lastly, we must remark here the holy vehemence of the 
apostle against these false teachers, whom he denominates 
" dogs, evil-workers, cutters-off ;" very severe words, to teach 
us that we must never regard with an indifferent eye those 
who disturb the church and truth of God, but must consider 
them such as they are in reality — unhappy and pernicious 
instruments in the hands of Satan. We should however be- 
ware lest, under colour of zeal, we suffer ourselves to be carried 
away by an excess of hatred ; but let us so restrain our hearts 
and tongues, that in the just indignation we feel against the at- 
tempts of these people we may still show love to their persons, 
not to uphold them or to follow their doctrines, but to desire 
and endeavour after their salvation as much as possible. 
For the apostle commands the Philippiahs to beware of those 
whom he had thus described ; and to show them how needful 
it was for the glory of God and their own safety to fly such 
pests, he repeats his words three times : " Beware of dags, be- 
ware of evil-workers, beware of the concision." This duty con- 
tains two parts. First, that we should be able to distinguish 
these evil-workers from good ones; and second, that having 
distinguished them, we should shut our ears to their instruc- 
tions, and quickly withdraw from communion with them. 
The word here used by the apostle relates precisely to the first 
of these duties, signifying to see, regard, and consider a thing, 
so as to discern and recognize it among others. This is the 
same that John so distinctly commands, "Beloved, try the 
spirits, whether they be of God," 1 John iv. 2 ; and Paul else- 
where says that " we should examine all things, and hold fast 
that which is good," 1 Thess. v. 2. Our Lord also gives us 
this mark of his sheep, "that they know his voice, and discern 
it from that of a stranger," John x. 4, 5. From whence it ap- 
pears, first, that it is by the doctrine that preachers should be 
discerned, and not the doctrine by the preachers, as the papists 
maintain ; and secondly, that the Lord's sheep are not of the 
description of those of the pope, who receive with closed eyes 


that which is presented to them, without examination or recog- 
nition ; who regard the mitre and the cross rather than the 
words and instructions of the preacher. As for outward ap- 
pearance, the Lord has warned us that it is often deceitful ; that 
wolves can disguise themselves as sheep ; and that the angels of 
Satan are sometimes clothed like the angels of light. But the 
truth is a certain and immutable thing, which can never be 
abused. It is that which we must recognize, and for which 
we must examine the doctrines that are presented to us, if we 
wish to be capable of obeying the apostle, that is, of discerning 
evil-workers, and keeping ourselves from their impostures. 

Now this injunction of the apostle exposes alike the absur- 
dity and impiety of the modern method, which enchains the 
senses, and extinguishes the light of reason, not allowing us to 
receive as certain any truth which is to be discerned by their 
means. For how could the Philippians distinguish between 
true and false apostles, except by applying the marks given 
by Paul ? and how can christians of the present day discern 
the true faith amidst jarring opinions, but by confronting every 
doctrine with these rules, that is, by reasoning ? And it must 
not be answered that the church saves us this trouble. For, 
first, what church soever you may intend, I cannot assure my- 
self that it is the true church, nor receive the witness it gives 
to any doctrine, except with the assistance of my understand- 
ing ; so that it is clear, that if all that is done by its interposi- 
tion be fallible and uncertain, I can never have any firm and 
assured belief in what the church maintains. For respecting 
the church itself, these evil-workers, of whom the apostle com- 
mands us to beware, often assume that title as boldly as those 
who compose the true church in reality. And lastly, supposed 
(but not granted, for God forbid it) that the assembly of those 
who follow the pope composes the true church, how am I to 
know what is really its belief on each point of doctrine, when 
its ministers teach differently respecting it? For example: a 
teacher presents himself who recommends the people to study 
the word of God. To discern whether this be a good or an 
evil worker I seek to know the Eomish church's decision on 
this subject. At first it appears to me that it condemns this 
custom ; for I read that the popes, who are its heads, say that 
to permit the reading of the Scriptures to all indifferently 
brings more vexation than profit, and they therefore forbid it 
to all their people,* " except (say they) that the said reading 
might be allowed to those to whom the bishop or inquisitor, with 
the advice of the curate or confessor, should not consider it 
hurtful." The succeeding popes add, in the observation which 
they make on this article, f that the bishops, inquisitors, or su- 

* Article 4. Council of Trent. f Observations on the 4th Article. 



periors of religious houses, must not suppose that by that they 
have authority to give licence to any to purchase, read, or keep a 
Bible in the vulgar tongue; such power (as they say) having 
been taken from them by the command and usage of the holy 
Eoman and Catholic Inquisition, and that this command must 
be inviolably observed. 

The cardinals Bellarmine and Hosius also, with the greater 
number of the most celebrated writers of their communion, 
have spoken on this point, and have argued in the same man- 
ner. Yet nevertheless, other teachers newly arisen strongly 
and positively deny that their church forbids the people to read 
the Scriptures in the vulgar tongue, and boldly contradict 
those who believe it upon the authority of their popes. 

Thus also with regard to images : they accuse those of mis- 
understanding their sentiments who believe that they give to 
them more honour than to the Bible, the candlesticks, and 
lamps employed in religious worship, although their last coun- 
cil (Trent) commands them to uncover the head and prostrate 
themselves before images, and although the public custom gives 
them still greater honour. 

In like manner, on the doctrine of assurance in the grace of 
God, one will tell you that their church believes it, and others 
that it condemns it ; and so on many other points. How then 
can a thing so doubtful and obscure in itself regulate the judg- 
ment to be given on particular teachers? 

Let us then, leaving this uncertain method, cling to the truth 
of God revealed in the scriptures, the only constant and un- 
changeable rule of our faith, keeping ourselves carefully from 
all those who would add to or to take from it, as from evil- 

IV. But it is time to pass on to the latter clause of our text, in 
which the apostle, to prove that he was justified in giving to 
these false teachers the name of concision, as signifying cutters- 
off, adds that to us belongs the true name of " circumcision :" 
" For (says he) we are the circumcision, who worship God in 
the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence 
in the flesh." 

It is evident that he here speaks of true christians, who em- 
bracing with a lively faith the discipline of the gospel, serve 
God in spirit and in truth, putting all their trust in his Son, 
and not in any carnal thing. 

In what sense then does he denominate christians " the cir- 
cumcision ?" Dear brethren, the apostle by calling them thus, 
and by speaking of them elsewhere as " the seed of Abraham 
and the Israel of God," does not intend to say that they are 
Jews properly speaking, that is, descendants of the patriarchs 
after the flesh, but rather that they have by faith all the privi- 
leges of God's ancient people, and that they are (as Peter also 


says) "a holy nation, a royal priesthood;" all the dignities of 
the first Israel having been derived by our Lord Jesus Christ, 
and by him transmitted to the christian church. He likewise 
does not here maintain that christians are literally circumcised, 
but rather that they now possess all those advantages and sal- 
utary effects which circumcision formerly bestowed or signified. 
It was the seal of the covenant of God ; it incorporated with 
his people and in the communion of his republic all those who 
received it. Jesus Christ has bestowed both these privileges 
on those who believe in him. Certainly then they have "the 
circumcision ;" they have all the effects, virtues, and excellen- 
cies of it, although they have not the literal mark. For the 
Holy Scriptures usually designate by name rather the dignity 
and value of a thing than its mere outward form. As, when 
Isaiah says that alms and munificence are the true fast chosen 
by the Lord, Isa. lviii., he intends to show that they possessed 
all the excellence and value which were attributed to fasting. 
And when the Lord Jesus says that " whosoever shall do the 
will of his Father which is in heaven, the same is his brother, 
and sister, and mother," he means that he holds them as in the 
same degree of relationship ; that he loves them, and feels for 
them, as though they were his brother, his sister, or his mother. 

It is said also in another place, "that he that shall humble 
himself, the same shall be greatest in the kingdom of heaven," 
Matt, xviii. 4 ; intimating that he shall have all the honours and 
dignities which the disciples understood by that priority con- 
cerning which they had disputed among themselves. 

But this manner of speaking, which in itself is very elegant, 
is of still greater advantage when, between the subjects whose 
names are exchanged, there is a similarity capable of maintain- 
ing such a change. And thus it happens in our text. For 
though the christian receives not the old circumcision in his 
person, he suffers nevertheless a certain separation which may 
be so called, because it is the reality and signification of the 
other circumcision. To understand this, you must know that 
the " circumcision" of Israel was not merely the mark that was 
made in the flesh. For then the Ishmaelites and other profane 
people (who were circumcised outwardly as well as the Jews) 
would have possessed the sacrament of circumcision. But in 
it was contained a mystery, denoting the cutting away from 
a man all carnal affections. That this was its sense and signi- 
fication we learn from Moses, who thus taught the Israelites: 
" The Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart 
of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and 
with all thy soul," Deut. xxx. 6. Jeremiah also commands the 
Jews to " circumcise themselves to the Lord, and take away 
the foreskin of their hearts," Jer. iv. 4. And Paul still more 
clearly teaches the same truth, saying, " Neither is that circum- 


cision which is outward in the flesh : but circumcision is that 
of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter," Kom. ii. 28, 29. 

Thus the mystery and reality of bodily circumcision was 
nothing less than a renunciation of flesh and blood; the Jew 
professing by this ceremony to cut off from his heart every 
carnal thought, affection, and desire, in order thenceforward to 
serve God in spirit and in truth, attaching himself to him 
alone, and putting all his trust in him, and not in man or in 
the flesh, in which by nature we are so prone to place our con- 
fidence and glory. This is the circumcision of which Paul 
speaks, calling it " that made without hands," Col. ii. 11. 

Now that the christian does suffer this sort of cutting away 
when he receives the gospel of Jesus Christ is evident. For, 
instead of that external circumcision which takes away but a 
part of the flesh, the christian (as the apostle elegantly ex- 
presses it, Col. ii. 11) " puts off the whole body of the sins of 
the flesh ;" and again, " He has crucified the flesh with its af- 
fections and lusts," Gal. v. 24 ; and having cut and torn it, not 
with the sword of Moses, but of the true Joshua, the thorns 
and nails of Jesus, he casts it from him, and buries it in the 
sepulchre of his Lord. 

This then is what the apostle teaches in our text, having 
chosen those functions of our religion which relate to this spi- 
ritual circumcision by which to describe true christians : 
" We (says he) are the circumcision, who worship God in the 
spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in 
the flesh." 

By serving God in spirit, he understands that spiritual 
worship established by Jesus Christ in the gospel, consisting 
of faith and the love of God, and in the continual practice of 
piety, charity, and all those virtues which depend thereon, and 
not in bodily exercises (of which the worship of the Jews con- 
sisted) ; they having been but the shadows and types, of which 
spiritual piety is the truth and reality ; and thus our Lord told 
the Samaritan woman, that in his reign "the servants of God 
must worship him in spirit and in truth." 

The apostle tells us, in the second place, that we " rejoice in 
Christ Jesus ;" that is to say, we make profession of the reli- 
gion of this divine and heavenly Prince, in whom is nothing 
carnal; calling on his name, and putting all our hope of eter- 
nal life in him, and glorying continually in the communion 
that we have with him. To this he adds by opposition, that 
" we have no confidence in the flesh," that is, in any outward 
or corporeal thing, our religion being altogether spiritual and 
divine. From whence it appears, that no people in the world 
can and may so exclusively claim the title of "the circumci- 
sion," not even the ancient Israelites, to whom circumcision 
especially belonged. For although in comparison with the 


false religions then in vogue, they might say that they wor- 
shipped God in spirit and in truth, having cast away from 
amongst them the gods, the idols, and the carnal ceremonies 
of the pagans; yet, to speak plainly, their worship was still 
carnal, consisting greatly in washings, expiations, sanctifica- 
tions, sacrifices, and other exterior ceremonies. They had not 
in this respect altogether crucified the flesh ; whereas among 
christians there is nothing of all this, their worship being truly 
spiritual. It was the same with their glorying. For although 
God was the author of their religion, nevertheless they gloried 
also in Abraham and in Moses, and in their carnal extraction ; 
so that in this respect again they had not cast away the flesh 
from the midst of them; whereas Christ, in whom we place 
our glory, has destroyed by his cross all that was carnal in 
him and in us, and is now a heavenly man, having nothing in 
common with the corruptions of flesh and blood ; on which 
account the apostle says, " The Lord is Spirit," 2 Cor. iii. 17, 
and that those who are called by him receive their dignity 
" not of men, neither by man," Gal. i. 1 ; and again, " If we 
have known Christ after the flesh, yet now know we him no 
more," 2 Cor. v. 16. 

And, lastly, although the confidence of the Israelites was 
placed in God, yet they also in some degree trusted in the 
flesh, since their temple, their altar, their sanctuary were 
" worldl}'," as the apostle calls them, Heb. ix. 1 : and not only 
was their worship "bodily," but even the priesthood depended 
on flesh and blood ; whereas our Lord Jesus draws our love, 
our confidence, and indeed our whole conversation, upwards 
to the heavens, " the world being crucified to us, and we unto 
the world." 

If then, as is very evident, they best merit the name of 
" circumcision" who have most absolutely and completely cast 
away the flesh, then does this title properly belong to chris- 
tians: the ancient believers having possessed but the shadow 
and type of that of which we possess the reality and the spi- 
rit ; we (that is) who worship God in the spirit, who glory 
in the crucified One, and put all our trust in him alone. 

From this it appears how impious and pernicious, as well as 
ridiculous, was the superstition of those false teachers who 
were endeavouring to introduce circumcision and the knife of 
Moses among christians, as if the sword of Jesus and his gos- 
pel were not powerful to circumcise them ; thus raising up 
that which the Saviour had for ever buried, and concealing the 
very mystery and signification of circumcision, which consists 
in the cutting off and taking away of all carnal things ; in- 
stead of which these unhappy people wished to re-establish in 
the church a trusting in the flesh, exhorting men to place 
their confidence in works and carnal services, rather than in 
the alone grace of Jesus Christ our Saviour. 


It follows, then, that the apostle has justly taken from them 
the name and glory of circumcision, which belongs solely to 
us, and given them in contempt that of concision, since in 
reality all their teaching served but to mutilate the body, the 
spirit, the religion of true believers. 

Thus, dear brethren, we have expounded to you this text of 
the apostle. Let us now endeavour to profit by seriously ap- 
plying its doctrine to the security of our faith, and the sanc- 
tification of our lives. 

Let us then, first, receive into our hearts this blessed Saviour 
Jesus Christ, the Prince of life, who is presented to us here, 
and throughout the scriptures. Let him dwell in us by faith, 
and maintain peace and joy in our souls in the midst of the 
storms of our earthly pilgrimage. Let our understandings be 
enlightened with that knowledge which can alone render us 
capable of discerning truth from error, or the traditions of 
men from the commands of God. Let our minds be so habi- 
tuated to his teaching, that we instantly know his voice from 
that of strangers. For we have to do with evil-workers as 
well as the Philippians, and we must not be surprised when 
they discover themselves among us, since even in the time of 
this great apostle, under his eye and in his brilliant light, peo- 
ple were found bold enough to disturb his preaching, and en- 
deavour to corrupt his doctrine. I leave it to their consciences 
to examine whether it be not the flesh which prompts them to 
act thus, whether it be not the desire of ease and advantage, 
and whether the end of these works, of which they boast so 
much, be not to have part of the good things of this life. 

But be their motives what they 'may, I assert (from scripture) 
that they are " evil-workers," who labour to ruin and destroy 
what the gospel has built up ; who corrupt and disfigure what 
the Lord has made and established; who mingle together 
things incompatible, earth with heaven, flesh with spirit, Jesus 
with his adversary. Let us, dear brethren, be content with 
our Lord, and never suffer the pure and spiritual service which 
he has prescribed to us in his word to be injured by the ad- 
mixture of ceremonies and carnal observances, inspired by 
fleshly minds, and not by the Spirit of God. For if the apos- 
tle is so strenuously opposed to circumcision and the other 
ceremonies solemnly and publicly instituted by Moses the mi- 
nister of God, how much less should we be disposed to admit 
into the religion of Jesus doctrines established and authorized 
by flesh and blood, which proceed from Rome instead of Sinai, 
from man instead of God ! 

But above all, O believers, take heed that you be the true 
" circumcision " of God, serving him in the spirit, rejoicing in 
his dear Son Jesus Christ, and putting no manner of trust in 
the flesh, or, as Paul elsewhere expresses it, " renouncing un- 


godliness and worldly lusts, live soberly, righteously, and 
godly in this present world ; looking for that blessed hope, 
and the glorious appearing of our God and Saviour Jesus 
Christ." If you possess this mystical and spiritual circumci- 
sion, you will easily despise the other, as well as the whole 
encumbrance of superstitious ceremonies. For the desire of 
a carnal worship arises among christians entirely for want of 
a spiritual mind; they have recourse to the external sacrifice 
of their altars, in order to supply the defect of that internal 
oblation which the apostle commands us to present continually 
to God, i. e., our bodies, as a living sacrifice, holy and accept- 
able to him, Rom. xii. 1. If their consciences had been truly 
purged from the dead works of sin, they would not have re- 
quired the flames of purgatory, holy water, or other carnal 
purifications. If they had diligently given to the Saviour 
that reasonable service which he demands, they would never 
have had recourse to their fastings, their scourgings, their pil- 
grimages, their confessions, and other bodily exercises, in 
which, alas, nearly the whole of their religion consists. 

To preserve yourselves from their errors, you then must cru- 
cify the flesh, and serve God in spirit. Circumcise your hearts 
with the sword of his word, and take from them the lusts of 
the flesh, ambition, avarice, luxury, pride, envy, cursing. 
Present yourselves daily to the Lord with a chaste body, with 
clean hands and a pure heart, with a humble and holy mind, 
raising these your offerings to heaven on the wings of faith, 
and placing them on the only true altar, Jesus Christ, by whom 
alone they can be accepted of the Father. This is the service 
he demands from us ; this is the victim he graciously beholds ; 
a heart full of pious desires, and purified from all affections 
contrary to his word. 

Let his Son, Jesus Christ, be all our glory, the only object 
of our hope, the only object of our joy. Let his life be re- 
flected in ours, so that those within and those without may 
recognize the marks of this sovereign Lord. Let us ever seek 
in him alone our justification, our holiness, our liberty, our 
knowledge, our happiness, our life. 

May our hearts and our confidence be detached from the 
flesh and fleshly things, how specious and pompous soever 
they may be ; and may we love, adore, and serve none but 
Christ alone, so living and dying in him that we may have 
part in his kingdom and glory. Amen. 



VERSES 4 — 7. 

Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other 
rnan thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, 
I more : circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of 
the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews • as touch- 
ing the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the 
church ; touching the righteousness which is in the Icau, blame- 
less. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss 
for Christ. 

Brethren, well might John the Baptist warn the Jews who 
came to him not to place their dependence on having had Ab- 
raham for their father, Matt. iii. 9. For the presumption which 
their extraction, and the privileges consequent upon it, pro- 
duced in their hearts, was one of the principal causes of their 

Sprung from this ancient and noble stem, in covenant with 
God, of which they bore the mark in their flesh, and in their 
external observances, they supposed salvation must infallibly 
be theirs. Vain idea ! which caused them to despise the study 
and practice of the only true way which conducteth to salva- 
tion. John, therefore, commenced at the root, and endeavoured 
first of all to eradicate from their hearts this foolish and hurt- 
ful imagination, as the principal hinderance to their repentance 
and their happiness. 

Our Lord himself spoke also to the same effect, showing 
them from the first the inutility of those outward advantages, 
and decrying the righteousness of the Pharisees, the wisdom 
of the scribes, and all that was then in the greatest estimation 
among the Jews; so that the first lesson he gave to Nicodemus 
was, that if he would enter the kingdom of God, he must be 
born again ; i. e., he must put away all those vain notions in 
which he then gloried, and present another mind before God, 
cleansed and purified from every presumptuous hope. 

In fact, the love and admiration of these carnal advantages 
not only hindered that unhappy people from profiting by the 
baptism of John, but also prevented their embracing the gos- 
pel of Christ. For besides those among them whose opinion 
of their own righteousness kept them altogether from believ- 
ing in Jesus, those even who, convinced by his instructions, 
received his gospel, were also for the most part desirous of 
mixing with it the ceremonies of Judaism, and retaining in 
the school of heaven the rudiments of the earth ; so strong 


was their affection for those things which birth and education, 
strengthened by habit, had rendered venerable. 

It is against the advocates of this dangerous melange that 
the apostle argues in this chapter, (as you will remember, 
brethren, I mentioned in my discourse on the preceding text,) 
wherein he prays the Philippians to beware of such evil-work- 
ers, declaring that by the Spirit of Christ we have every ad- 
vantage which was vainly sought by the letter of Moses. 

Now, to give more weight to his words, he shows them that 
it is not through envy that he thus speaks, being himself as 
well or even better furnished than they were, with all those 
advantages of which they so much boasted. For it sometimes 
happens that men, through extreme vanity, despise the things 
which they do not possess. They rail at and decry such gifts 
as they are destitute of, that their failing in that respect may 
not detract from their merit in the sight of others. 

Paul, to prove that no such reasons induced him to contemn 
circumcision and justification by works which were taught by 
false apostles, represents here, in a forcible manner, that he 
failed in none of these things, nay, that he even possessed them 
in a hio-her degree than those did who esteemed them so 
greatly ; yet, notwithstanding the advantages he appeared to 
have, he is constrained to declare that, whatever lustre they 
may possess in the eyes of flesh, they are of no avail before 
Jesus Christ. 

As when some learned man, after having thrown contempt 
upon philosophy and worldly knowledge, might add, to give 
power to his words, that it was not that he was unable to enter 
the lists for the prize in that sort of wisdom ; so Paul, in the 
same manner, after having strongly repulsed those who pressed 
the observance of circumcision and other rites, to demonstrate 
that it is the truth itself, and not personal interest, which 
prompts him so to speak, adds directly, " Though I might also 
have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that 
he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more." And 
to convince them that he boasts not without reason, he enum- 
erates at length all the advantages he possessed with regard to 
these things : " circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Is- 
rael, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews ; 
as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting 
the church ; touching the righteousness which is in the law, 
blameless." But after all, he protests that, so far from build- 
ing his hopes thereon, " he considers all these things as loss 
for Christ," although, were he to follow the false teachers, he 
should consider them as gain. 

This is a summary of the apostle's meaning in the text ; and 
that God may bless it to your further instruction, I purpose 
to consider the subject under three heads : First, the declara- 


tion of Paul, that lie had more than others whereof he might 
trust in the flesh. Secondly, the advantages which he details 
at length respecting the subject of this trust. Thirdly, his 
solemn protestation, that he counts them all as loss for the 
love of Christ. 

I. The apostle had said, in the preceding verse, speaking of 
himself and of all true believers, " We serve God in spirit, 
rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh," 
i. e., (as we have already explained,) we lean on no carnal thing, 
Jesus Christ alone being the object of our hope and joy. 
When, therefore, he adds, " Though I might also have confi- 
dence in the flesh," it is evidently as if he had said, Although, 
with regard to myself, I take the Lord Jesus for my only joy, 
and place all my dependence on him, yet this is not because I 
am conscious of being without those advantages which the 
false teachers hold in such high estimation. Were I inclined 
to follow their doctrines, and like them, mingle the services 
of flesh and blood with my hope in Christ, I might also have 
whereon to lean ; for I have abundance of those things on 
which they build their hopes, and possess all the privileges 
wherein they find their joy. 

But the apostle goes even beyond this, and challenges, not 
these teachers only, (who perhaps really possessed few of those 
qualities which they so strongly urged upon christians,) but 
all others, whoever they might be, convinced that none could be 
found possessing as many of these external advantages as him- 
self: "If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he 
might trust in the flesh, I more." 

Thus he ranks himself above them all, because they had no- 
thing which he had not also (as we shall presently see) ; and, 
on the other hand, he possessed many things in which they 
failed. And here I beg you to remark carefully the apostle's 
expression : he does not say, "If any man have" but, "If any 
man thinketh that he hath ;" showing us thereby that all the 
trust which these people placed in carnal things was but fancy 
and opinion, they being in reality no just ground of confi- 

For it is evident, and Paul has explained it more fully in 
several of his other Epistles, that neither circumcision, nor the 
observance of the Mosaic law, nor any other carnal service, 
can be capable of justifying man in the sight of God ; so that 
all who trust in them are greatly mistaken. Nothing but the 
righteousness of Christ can reconcile us to God and shield us 
from the curse. Yet it was the will of the Lord that this his 
apostle, who so loudly contemned all trust and confidence in 
the law or any external advantage, should not himself be want- 
ing in any one of those things in which so many placed their 
confidence. And herein is made manifest the wisdom of God; 


the testimony of Paul being by this means purified from all 
suspicion or reproach. It is in like manner that he employs 
his pen (1 Cor. ix. 6, 7,) to recommend to the flock the main- 
tenance of their pastors, because, having always supported 
himself by the labour of his own hands, and having never re- 
quired assistance from the churches he had planted, he could 
treat the subject without being suspected of interested motives. 

And for the same purpose God often calls to the knowledge 
of his Son those who are gifted with the things most esteemed 
in the world, as nobility, riches, learning, talent, whether in 
arts or sciences, and other similar advantages, in order that 
they may with greater authority declare the vanity of such 
things, and teach men with more freedom to humble themselves 
at the cross of Christ. 

And those believers who are thus qualified should not be 
ashamed, when opportunities occur, to detail the advantages 
they possess in these respects, in order to confound the arro- 
gance of worldly men who make such things their pride, and 
to show them that it is not through envy that christians de- 
spise them, but rather from the dictates of their conscience, 
which can find no solid foundation of hope and assurance but 
in Christ the Lord; all trust in the flesh and its works being 
vain presumption. 

Paul has inculcated this by his example. For he makes no 
scruple of lowering the pride of these false apostles by enum- 
erating at length the advantages he had according to the flesh, 
and the confidence he might have drawn from them had he 
been so inclined ; none of those external things being wanting 
in him in which these people so greatly exulted, whether it 
were nobility of descent, the privilege of circumcision, the ad- 
vantages of learning, probity of manners, or purity of life. 

This carnal superiority which the apostle possessed without 
trusting in consisted of seven qualities, and these we will now 
examine one after another, as he has enumerated them. First, 
that he had been " circumcised the eighth clay." Second, that 
he was " of the stock of Israel." Third, that he was " of the 
tribe of Benjamin." Fourth, that he was " a Hebrew of the 
Hebrews." Fifth, that he was by religion " a Pharisee." Sixth, 
that he had been so zealous for Judaism as to have " perse- 
cuted the church" of Christ. And seventh and last, that his 
life, " touching the righteousness of the law, was blameless." 

He names circumcision the first, because it was the first and 
most necessary sacrament of the Jewish people, the seal of the 
Mosaic covenant, the livery, mark, and glory of an Israelite, 
which separated him from all the nations of the world, and 
was the principal subject of controversy between the apostle 
and the false teachers, who, above all things, contended for it, 
and esteemed it essentially necessary to justification. But he 


also particularly mentions having received it on the eighth 
day, i. e. eight days after his birth, according to the original 
institution and command of God ; and this added greatly to 
the advantage of it ; for those proselytes who, from the dark- 
ness of idolatry, had ranged themselves under the banners of 
Judaism, could but receive circumcision at the age to which 
they had attained at the time of their conversion, some in 
youth, others in manhood, and others again in old age. And 
although it was to them a great privilege to be admitted by 
this rite into communion with the people of God, yet they 
could not glory in it as much as those who were born to this 
privilege, and who, from the eighth day of their lives, had been 
solemnly consecrated to the service of God, and had worn his 
livery and badge. Although it was an honour to receive cir- 
cumcision at any age, it certainly was the greatest honour to 
receive it on the eighth day. For this cause Paul expressly 
mentions it among other external advantages, not merely say- 
ing that he was circumcised, but that he had been circumcised 
the eighth day. 

To this he adds, secondly, that he was "of the stock of 

To have received circumcision on the eighth day plainly 
proved that a person had been born of parents professing Ju- 
daism ; but it did not prove that he was descended from the 
blood of Israel. 

The Gentile proselytes, having themselves entered into com- 
munion with God's people, circumcised their children on the 
eighth day, as well as the true Israelites. The apostle there- 
fore is not satisfied with simply saying that he had been cir- 
cumcised the eighth day : he goes beyond this, adding, that he 
was of the race of Israel, to show the nobility and purity of 
his extraction, that his blood was unmingled with that of 
Gentiles, being derived from the ancient and illustrious root 
of Jacob, the patriarch of the Jewish nation, and to which he 
had given name ; that people (as you know) calling themselves 
the " children of Israel," from the surname given to Jacob by 
the Almighty, as a token of blessing, on the memorable night 
that he had wrestled with him. This was the great privilege 
of the Jews, and that on which they set the highest value ; for 
with regard to circumcision, observance of the law, zeal for 
religion, the light of knowledge, purity of life, and other 
things of a like nature, the proselytes might equal them ; nay, 
they sometimes greatly surpassed them in these respects, and 
their history furnishes several examples of such being the 
case ; but this nobility of descent was peculiar to the Jews, 
and no foreigner could contest this advantage with them. 

And if we consider the subject in itself, without prejudice, 
we cannot deny that the advantages after the flesh were great. 


For with regard to antiquity, which is generally esteemed one 
of the most essential qualifications of nobility, there was then, 
and there is now, no family in the whole human race so noble 
as that of the Jews, who could show their genealogy clearly 
and distinctly from Adam to themselves, that is, for upwards 
of four thousand years ; whereas all those grand and illustrious 
families who flourished among the Greeks and Romans, or who 
flourish now in Christendom or elsewhere, are supposed to 
have fully established their noble descent, if they can reckon 
back for seven or eight hundred years ; and even the proudest 
and highest cannot trace much further than that. 

But if we consider the qualities of their ancestors, which 
are the principal foundations of true nobility, who can be 
compared to the Jews ? Descended from Abraham, Isaac, and 
Jacob, at once the elect, the anointed, the holy prophets of 
God, the most noble and illustrious persons of antiquity ! 
Whereas the genealogy of most other families is drawn from 
foul and disgraceful sources, from the blood of a barbarian or 
an idolater, sometimes even from a robber or a monster, cele- 
brated more for his vices than his virtues. 

Though, however, this true nobility of descent belonged 
originally to all the race of Israel, yet it had not preserved 
itself equally pure among the several families who had issued 
from that root. For this reason the apostle, after having said 
that he was of the stock of Israel, particularly signifies the 
tribe to which he belonged, "of the tribe of Benjamin." For 
I do not think he would have added this, except to show by 
his family the purity of his extraction. 

It seems that he mentions the circumstance in order to dis- 
tinguish his blood from the pollutions in which great part of 
that of Jacob was involved. For of the twelve tribes which 
sprang from him ten had sadly degenerated, soiling the honour 
of their nobility by their vices, plunging into idolatry, and 
separating themselves from the communion of the ark and 
temple of God ; for which they had been afterwards, by the 
just anger of Jehovah, transported into Assyria, where they 
had for the most part lost the purity of their extraction by in- 
termarriages with the Gentiles. 

The apostle therefore shows, that it is not on that side that 
he is descended from Jacob, but from the family of Benjamin, 
illustrious among his people, not only for having had the 
honour of giving the first king to Israel, but still more so for 
having preserved in itself, in conjunction with Judah and Levi, 
the purity of divine worship, at the time when the ten tribes, 
revolting from the house of David, gave themselves up to the 
idolatry of the golden calves, established by the rebel Jero- 
boam in Dan and Bethel. 

Thus you see that the apostle's extraction was very noble, 


he being not only of the most ancient and illustrious nation in 
the world, but also of one of the purest and most esteemed 
tribes in that nation. 

But he continues, " an Hebrew of the Hebrews." This name 
of Hebrew (as you know) was especially given to the people 
of Israel, and still continues to be one of the most common 
appellations of the Jews ; although it appears that originally 
the Chaldeans applied the word to all those nations who in- 
habited the countries beyond the Euphrates; and that the 
Egyptians gave them the same appellation for a like cause, 
namely, that they dwelt beyond the rivers that separated 
Egypt from other lands ; and if you attentively consider those 
passages in Genesis where the word " Hebrew" is employed, 
you will easily perceive that it signifies literally " one who 
dwells beyond the waters." The posterity of Jacob, however, 
having afterwards occupied the country of Canaan, the inha- 
bitants of which were called Hebrews, the word began to be 
applied to the Israelites, and in process of time became the 
appellation of the nation. So also the language spoken by the 
Jews during their occupation of Canaan, and in which the Old 
Testament, both the law and the prophets, (except two or three 
chapters of Daniel,) was written, is called, as well by ancient 
as by modern authors, " the Hebrew." 

Thus, therefore, the apostle, by styling himself " an Hebrew 
of the Hebrews," signifies that he was a Jew by lineage from 
father to son ; not having partaken of this privilege by adop- 
tion or the conversion of his forefathers, but by a regular and 
uninterrupted descent from that first ancient and noble stem 
from which his ancestors themselves had sprung. 

After having thus shown the dignity of his extraction, he 
declares, fifthly, his profession or sect in the Jewish church, 
saying that he was " by religion a Pharisee." In the original, 
" as touching the law, a Pharisee." 

Now it appears that the word " law " in this passage would 
denote a sect, order, or profession, such as the order of monks, 
or the societies of men or women that are found in the church 
of Rome, and the word is often used thus in our common con- 
versation. Thus, when the apostle was brought before the 
assembly of the chief priests and elders at Jerusalem, he cried 
aloud, "I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee," Acts xxiii. 6 ; 
and afterwards, when pleading his cause before Festus and 
Agrippa at Cesarea, he said, in like manner, that all the Jews 
knew that " from his youth up, after the straitest sect of their 
religion, he had lived a Pharisee," Acts xxvi. 5. In another 
place also, (Acts xxii. 3,) he declares that, in order to be better 
instructed in their doctrines, he had been sent in childhood 
from Tarsus in Cilicia, his native city, to Jerusalem, where he 
had been educated "at the feet," that is to say, in the doctrines 


and discipline " of Gamaliel," a Jewish doctor of high estima- 
tion. From these and several other parts of the New Testa- 
ment, you will perceive that the Pharisees were at that time a 
sect of great repute among the Jews, and generally the most 
esteemed of any, as you would now describe the order of 
Jesuits in the Romish communion, except that the Pharisees 
did not dwell together in convents, but had their own houses 
and establishments like other citizens ; at the same time com- 
posing one body, holding the same doctrines, living under the 
same discipline, and sustaining and assisting one another as 
much as possible. 

It was about a hundred years before the birth of Christ that 
three sects arose among the Jews : the Pharisees, the Essenes, 
and the Sadducees. No mention is made of the Essenes in the 
New Testament scriptures, partly because there was scarcely 
any difference between their doctrines and those of the Phari- 
sees ; and partly because they lived retired in distant places, 
having but little intercourse with the world. But the other 
two sects dwelt in cities, in the society of enlightened men, 
taking part in civil as well as in ecclesiastical affairs. 

The Sadducees (as we learn from the writings of the New 
Testament, from Josephus, and other Jewish authors) held 
most extravagant opinions, boldly denying a resurrection and 
the immortality of the soul, and even the existence of angel 
or spirit, Acts xxiii. 8. 

The Pharisees also maintained some dangerous errors, but 
at the same time they held the fundamental truths of scripture, 
believing the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection of 
the body ; neither is there any proof of their having taught 
(as some modern writers allege) the transmigration of the soul 
after death. Thus they easily gained the ascendency over the 
Essenes by the greater refinement of their life, and over the 
Sadducees by the greater purity of their doctrine ; to which 
must be added, by their extraordinary profession of sanctity, 
which tinctured all their conversation and manners. 

To this outward profession the scriptures relate, when they 
inform us that they " made wide their phylacteries, and en- 
larged the borders of their garments," Matt, xxiii. 5, &c; (i. e., 
they wore on their foreheads and on the edge of their robes 
wide pieces of parchment, on which were written certain texts 
from the law or the prophets ; and this is still a Jewish custom ;) 
that they washed often and carefully their persons, their uten- 
sils, and their furniture; that they fasted twice a week, and 
gave tithes most scrupulously of all they possessed, even of the 
smallest herbs of the garden, as mint and cummin ; that they 
built and superbly adorned the sepulchres of the prophets ; and 
that they would compass sea and land to make one proselyte. 
"We learn also from other sources, that the devotees among 


them slept on very narrow planks, or upon gravel, and that 
they fastened thorns under their garments, which pricked their 
heels and ankles in walking so as even to draw blood. 

This austere manner of life, indicating so much zeal and 
sanctity, procured for them the name of Pharisee, which signi- 
nifies, a person separated and withdrawn from the world ; with 
which indeed they professed to have nothing in common, hav- 
ing entirely withdrawn from the vices of the multitude; call- 
ing them in contempt, people of the earth, shunning their society, 
and even considering themselves unclean if they had been ac- 
cidentally touched by one of them. 

It was to this refined sect that Paul belonged, both by birth 
and education. But if his ancestors and preceptors had on 
their part given him a birth and education propitious to Juda- 
ism, he also, on his part, had so diligently applied himself to 
profit by the advantages he thus possessed, that he had arrived 
at the highest possible perfection of a Pharisee. 

And this he shows in the two last clauses of the account 
which he is here giving of himself, by adding that, " concern- 
ing zeal he had persecuted the church," and that, " touching 
the righteousness of the law, he had been blameless." 

With regard to the first, we are informed by Luke, in the 
Acts of the Apostles, that Paul took part in the murder of the 
blessed martyr of Christ, Stephen ; and that afterwards, "breath- 
ing out threatenings and slaughter," he devoted himself to the 
persecution of the christians, and left Jerusalem with letters 
from the high priest empowering him to carry thither as pri- 
soners all the disciples of Christ whom he should find in Da- 
mascus and its neighbourhood. He has himself also often re- 
lated this sad story: speaking in the assembly of the Jews, 
(Acts xxii. 3, 4,) he says, "Being zealous toward God, as ye all 
are this day, I persecuted this way (Christianity) unto the death, 
binding and delivering into prisons both men and women." 
Again, pleading before Agrippa, (Acts xxvi. 9 — 11,) he thus 
speaks, " I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many 
things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which 
thing I also did in Jerusalem : and many of the saints did I 
shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief 
priests ; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice 
against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, 
and compeliedjihem to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad 
against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities." 

He also tells the Galatians, in the commencement of his 
Epistle to them, that he had " persecuted and wasted the church 
of God beyond measure, having been exceedingly zealous of 
the traditions of the fathers," Gal. i. 13. Again, writing to 
Timothy, he acknowledges that he was once a blasphemer, a 
persecutor, and an oppressor, 1 Tim. i.' 13 ; on which account 


it is that he speaks of himself to the Corinthians with such 
deep humility, saying that he is unworthy to be called an apos- 
tle, because of having persecuted the church of God. 

He mentions it in our text to prove his extreme devotion to 
Judaism ; and as he himself calls persecution a " blasphemy," 
a " wasting," a " ravaging," of the church of God, he highly 
condemns it, and witnesses against himself that he had griev- 
ously sinned in this respect. Therefore it is not his intention 
here to class it among good and praiseworthy actions. He al- 
leges it solely as an incontestable proof of his zeal for the hon- 
our of Judaism ; a blind zeal, certainly, and not " according to 
knowledge," but nevertheless ardent, and clearly showing the 
sincerity with which he had formerly undertaken the defence 
of his religion. The false teachers against whom he argues 
were satisfied if circumcision were retained, and Moses were 
made a companion of Christ. But Paul had gone much fur- 
ther, desiring Moses to reign alone, and fiercely overturning 
everything that opposed his empire in such a manner, that if 
there were any profit or glory to be expected from having zeal 
for Judaism, it is evident that Paul in this respect had the ad- 
vantage of these pretended upholders of Moses. 

Lastly, he adds, that whatever might have been his zeal for 
the religion of his forefathers, the purity of his life and conver- 
sation was in the same proportion. For it often happens that 
enthusiasts, under the boiling of their zeal, conceal a very ir- 
regular life, and shamefully violate, every day, the laws and 
regulations of that religion, the name and outward forms of 
which they are defending with so much warmth. There are 
in history many examples of this, and especially among the 
Jewish people. At the last destruction of Jerusalem, how 
many wretched men were there, trampling under foot every 
law, human and divine, and leading the most execrable lives 
possible ; at the very time that they were such zealots for the 
name and temple of Jehovah, as to be resolved to endure to the 
last extremity, in his cause! But the apostle must not be 
classed with such fanatics. He had been a Jew in truth and 
sincerity, and in the midst of his zeal against Christianity had 
observed with such strictness all that was enjoined by his re- 
ligion, that he can boldly say in our text, " touching the right- 
eousness which is in the law, blameless." 

What then, (you will perhaps say,) while Paul lived a Phar- 
isee, an alien from the grace of Christ, had he so fulfilled all 
the righteousness prescribed to us in the law, that he can be re- 
proached with nothing in that respect ? Did he fail in no 
point in that righteousness which the law demands of men ? 
Dear brethren, I answer, that by " the righteousness which is 
in the law" he intends, and it is a common mode of expression 
in the sacred writings, all the righteousness that is hy the law ; 


that is to say, as much as the law could work in any man, even 
in the best and most advanced among the Pharisees ; and this 
is so far from being perfect, or even from being a step towards 
admission into grace, that Jesus himself said, " Except your 
righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Phar- 
isees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." 

As for the righteousness contained in the law, which consists 
of a perfect love to God, a perfect charity towards our neigh- 
bour, and an innocence and holiness of life maintained in every 
point, neither Paul nor any other Pharisee has ever possessed 
it ; as this great apostle himself has clearly shown in several 
places ; but especially in the 7th chapter of his Epistle to the 
Romans. And if any man ever had possessed this righteous- 
ness, that man would have been justified by the law, (which is 
absolutely impossible,) and would have had no need of Christ, 
without whom we are told we can do nothing. These words 
of the apostle have the same signification as in Rom. ii. 14, 
where he says, "the Gentiles do by nature the things contained 
in the law ;" that is, not the things commanded by the law, as, 
to love God with all the heart, and our neighbour as ourselves, 
(for how could the Gentiles do those things naturally which 
the Jews themselves were never able to accomplish ?) but all 
that which the law does for its disciples ; restraining and brid- 
ling their outward man ; leading them to the admiration and 
study of virtue ; and, in fact, accusing or excusing them in the 
secret recesses of their hearts : and this the apostle calls the 
work of the law ; because it is what the law does in us, and not 
what the law prescribes to us : so he also, in the text, speaks 
of the righteousness which is in or by the law, — not merely 
that which the law commands, but that which it works in the 
hearts and lives of its disciples. 

This then is the righteousness of which Paul boasts; mean- 
ing to say that he had shown forth in his former life and char- 
acter all those good qualities which the profession of Pharisee- 
ism required ; and that he could not be reproached with having 
failed in one duty which his sect considered to be prescribed 
by the law of God. 

Thus it appears how truly the apostle spoke, in saying that 
if any man might trust in the flesh, it would be himself, since 
he possessed every advantage that was a ground of trust: 
whether by birth, as a free Israelite, of the blood of Jacob, of 
the tribe of Benjamin ; whether by instruction, having been 
circumcised on the eighth day, and educated in Phariseeism, 
the most celebrated sect among the Jews ; whether by devotion 
to the cause, having been zealous even to the persecuting of 
the church, and observant of every legal rite, so as to have ac- 
quired a character without reproach. "But (says he) what 
things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ." So 


far frqtfi building my hopes on these carnal advantages, in 
which the false teachers place their glory, I despise them all 
since I have known and tasted the Lord Jesus ; and now con- 
sider them, not merely as useless, but as hurtful to my salva- 
tion. , 

II. This is the concluding verse of the text, in which the 
apostle mentions two things : first, that these prerogatives that 
he had in Judaism, and of which he had just spoken, "were gain 
to him," or rather, had been gain to him ; and, secondly, that for 
the " love of Christ he had counted them as loss." As for the 
first, I must acknowledge that it Was no small step towards sal- 
vation to be born in Israel, of the blood of the patriarchs, and to 
be nourished and instructed from childhood in the knowledge of 
the divine law ; which was to the church in its infancy as a school- 
master, and an excellent means of bringing men to Christ : and 
the apostle elsewhere says, that "the advantage of the Jew, and 
the profit of circumcision, were great every way, but chiefly be- 
cause that unto them were committed the oracles of God," Rom. 
iii. 1 ; which grace had not been given to other nations, as the 
psalmist tells us, Psal. cxlvii. 20. And they to whom the law 
had rendered this good office of preparing and bringing them 
to Christ, as Simeon, and Nathaniel, and many others, could 
truly say that it had been gain to them, being born in Israel, 
and circumcised, and instructed in the school of the law. But 
this is not the case here. For the instruction that Paul had 
had in the law was mixed with the leaven of Phariseeism ; 
his mind was puffed up with his own merit, and his zeal was 
full of rage against the Christ of God. How, then could he 
say that these things were gain to him? Dear brethren, I 
maintain that the apostle does not say this literally and abso- 
lutely. God forbid that he should ! for this would, by one 
stroke of his pen, efface all the truth of his doctrine, which 
everywhere declares that there is nothing so opposed to salva- 
tion as the leaven of the Pharisees and the presumption of 
merit. Nor is there anything so abhorrent to God or so per- 
nicious to men as the persecution of Christ and his members. 
But he here speaks according to the notions he had formerly 
held on this subject in his blindness and error, and according 
to the ideas of the false teachers against whom he is arguing. 
They " were gain to me," that is, in my opinion ; and with this 
idea I gloried in them, and imagined that on them my salva- 
tion depended. 

For this was in reality the doctrine of the Pharisees. They 
placed their hopes and their happiness in these carnal advan- 
tages ; in being the seed of Abraham and the disciples of 
Moses; and considered the furious zeal which they had for the 
law as one of their highest merits, imagining that they did 
God service in persecuting the christians. And all this would 


have "been gain to the apostle had he continued in Judajpm, as 
the false teachers supposed he ought to have done. For by 
this he would (according to their view) have obtained favour 
with God and men ; he would have preserved the good-will of 
his nation, and acquired reputation and esteem among his 
countrymen by passing for one of their most accomplished 
and learned doctors. But he protests, however advantageous 
these things might have been to me after the flesh, " I count 
them loss for Christ." 

III. "When once the Lord had enlightened his mind, and de- 
livered his eyes from the thick scales of ignorance which for- 
merly covered them, he became altogether changed in judg- 
ment and temper. He saw that that Jesus whom he had so 
fiercely persecuted was the Lord of glory, the Prince of peace, 
the everlasting Father, the only author and giver of grace. 
He saw in him truth, righteousness, and salvation for men, 
treasures of divine mercy, and the plenitude of the Godhead. 
Satisfied with so precious and perfect a gift, he condemns his 
former errors, and renounces with all his heart all those petty 
advantages of birth and education which he had heretofore so 
much admired, and resolves, like the merchant in the parable, 
to acquire, by the loss of all he possessed, the inestimable 
jewel that was to be found in Christ. He is so in love with 
this treasure, that he not only leaves all he had, but hates all 
for its sake. He does not merely confess that he can draw 
no profit from his former merits, but complains that they are 
hurtful to him ; that they have kept him long in ignorance, 
and have prevented him from earlier enjoying peace through 
Christ ; that they increased his furious zeal, and soiled his 
hands with the precious blood of his sovereign Lord. For 
although this last had been done in ignorance, he never ceased 
to remember it with horror, and to reckon it the greatest mis- 
fortune that had ever occurred to him. Thus Paul is to be un- 
derstood, when he declares, "what things were gain to me, 
those I counted loss for Christ." 

But, O holy apostle, elect instrument of God, that which 
was loss to thee has proved gain to us ; and it was for our 
profit that the gracious Lord, who had separated thee from thy 
mother's womb, did permit thee to enter so deeply into Juda- 
ism, and to remain for so long a period out of his true church, 
that so thy testimony concerning it might be the more effica- 
cious to us. Certainly, dear brethren, the testimony of the 
other apostles respecting the resurrection and divinity of our 
Lord is authentic and worthy of belief, and whoever calmly 
considers it must be constrained to confess that their witness 
is true. But the testimony of Paul is stronger. For with 
what can infidelity reproach him ? Can it say that he was an 
ignorant person, easily duped in that which respects religion ? 


He was a Pharisee from his birth ; instructed in the school of 
the first master of his age and sect ; and very learned in all 
the traditions and doctrines of the Jews, as his writings 
clearly prove. Was it intimacy with Jesus, and friendship 
for him, that induced him to uphold his religion ? He had 
never seen him during his life, and, after his death, far from 
loving or favouring, he had outrageously persecuted him. 
And yet, behold him stopping suddenly in the midst of his 
career of rage and fury, changed in a moment, adoring him whom 
he had blasphemed, preaching him whom he had persecuted, 
continuing several years in this new faith, and at length dying 
for him whom he had formerly so often slain in his members. 

What could have caused so wonderful a change? What 
could have snatched from Judaism so obstinate a Pharisee ? so 
attached to his sect by birth, education, reputation, interest, 
manner of life ? What could have broken in one moment so 
many ties ? What could have drawn forth from that heart and 
mouth, hitherto sending out fire and flames against Jesus, 
praise and adoration of him ? Dear brethren, it could have 
been nothing less than the truth itself, manifested to him by 
an Almighty hand, (as he himself often and fully declares,) ar- 
resting and converting him on his way to Damascus. 

Let us then embrace this divine Saviour whom he so elo- 
quently preaches to us. Let us be converted with this happy 
Pharisee. Let us believe, on the testimony of so authentic a 
witness, that Jesus is in heaven crowned with glory and hon- 
our ; that he is truly the Son of God, the end and object of the 
law, the salvation of Jews and Gentiles, the true circumcision, 
the root and offspring of David, the propitiation for sin, the 
peace of the conscience, the light of the understanding, the 
wisdom of the heart, the author of the justification, holiness, 
rest, resurrection, and immortality of all believers. Dear 
brethren, let us render to him the homage due to his majesty. 
Let nothing separate us from fellowship with him. Let us be 
zealous for his glory. Never let us suffer anything whatever 
to divide with him our confidence and hope. Let us serve him 
only, as he only has redeemed us. However useful and advan- 
tageous a thing may appear, let it be as loss to us, or even as 
a calamity, if it be prejudicial to the interest of Christ. Never 
let us purchase ease, or peace, or even life itself, at his ex- 
pense. Let us rather hate and despise all things for love of 
him. Let that which is gain become loss to us, if hurtful in 
the smallest degree to his service and glory. Nobility of birth, 
abundance of riches, the hononr of our reputation, the excel- 
lence of learning, the friendship of those among whom we 
dwell ; all these I confess are great advantages. But if they 
estrange you from fellowship and communion with Christ, if 
they hinder you in the heavenly race, regard them as losses, 


as misfortunes. Do not hesitate to renounce them, and gener- 
ously sacrifice this vain-glory at the foot of the cross, as did 
Paul the Pharisee. Hold nothing so dear but that you can 
quit it with alacrity for so good a Master. Kemember that 
in reality there is nothing good, nothing useful without him ; 
that all that men worship, out of him, whether it be grandeur, 
or science, or morality, or even the deepest and warmest devo- 
tion, is incapable of turning away from us the curse of God, 
or of bringing us to his heavenly kingdom. 

May the Lord himself impress these sentiments deeply on 
our hearts, so that faithfully serving him in this life, we may 
dwell with him in life everlasting. Amen. 



Tea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency 
of the hiowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have 
suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that 
I may win Christ. 

Dear brethren, in order to be truly wise, it is not sufficient 
to be able merely to distinguish between good things and bad ; 
we must also discern the difference that exists among things 
that are good, so as to set each at its real value, and esteem 
those the most which are the most excellent : and it is in this 
sense that many understand the apostle, when he desires for 
the Philippians that they " may approve (or discern) things 
that are excellent," Phil. i. 10. For if you consider this mat- 
ter, you will perceive that the weakness of being unable to re- 
ject the lesser good for the greater, is the cause of almost all 
the miseries of men. They have less difficulty in discerning 
good from evil, because of the immense difference between 
them. But when two things that are good present themselves, 
the desire of possessing both perplexes their judgment to that 
degree, that they are unable to resolve to quit the less that 
they may win the greater ; and instead of this generous reso- 
lution, they continually, though uselessly, endeavour to find 
means whereby they may keep both the one and the other. 
From whence it frequently happens that they lose the whole, 
because they were not satisfied with the better part ; like 
the merchant, who could not resolve to save his life dur- 
ing a storm by throwing the cargo of his vessel into the sea, 


and therefore lost his vessel and his life together. In how 
many countries and families does this error cause disasters 
daily ! But who can enumerate the evils it produces in religion, 
the most important object of our life ! It is this that causes 
the destruction of the lukewarm, of the Nicodemuses, (com- 
monly so called,) of all who would fain possess both earth and 
heaven, both flesh and spirit, and, in fact, of the greater part of 
those that perish. It is this that suggests to them all those 
pernicious expedients which they adopt to their own ruin, fan- 
cying they can, by these means, be exempted from the losses 
and troubles to which the gospel subjects them, and can at 
once maintain peace with God and with the world. 

It was the same error which disturbed in its infancy the 
christian church, from the endeavours of some within it to 
mingle Judaism with Christianity. It was not that they hated 
or despised Christ, but that they did not esteem and love him 
sufficiently. If they had thoroughly recognized his sovereign 
excellence, they would have been contented with him, and 
would have found in him so full a satisfying of every desire, 
that they would have wished for no other good. For this rea- 
son, Paul, in the text, to guard the Philippians from this error, 
shows them the estimation in which they should hold the Sa- 
viour; and having already detailed all the advantages which 
he possessed according to the flesh, he adds, that these things, 
however great they might appear, yet, considered in them- 
selves, must vanish before the light of the knowledge of Je- 
sus ; and that, compared with the blessings the Saviour 
bestows on his servants, they lose their value, and become as 
dross or dung, or the very vilest things. 

He had taught the same doctrine in the preceding verse, 
where, after showing the prerogatives of his birth and educa- 
tion in Judaism, he said, " But what things were gain to me, 
those I counted loss for Christ;" and this I explained to you 
in my last discourse on this subject ; and now again he takes 
up the same idea, and enlarges upon it, adding, " Yea doubt- 
less, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the 
knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suf- 
fered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that 
I may win Christ." 

The apostle thus repeats his words for two reasons: first, 
on account of the importance of the subject, the noblest, the 
grandest, the most necessary in the world. And it is very 
usual for ministers thus to insist on essential subjects, if they 
desire deeply to impress the hearts of their hearers ; and even 
to repeat the same thing two or three times : and the best 
masters of eloquence consider these repetitions, if well done, 
among the greatest ornaments of language. Secondly, the 
apostle wishes to show that he maintains the same feelings to- 


•wards his Saviour as he had at the beginning. For it occa- 
sionally happens that the novelty of things surprises and daz- 
zles us at first, causing us to despise every thing besides ; but 
when time has lessened the attraction which novelty gave, and 
experience has given us more intimate knowledge of them, we 
repent of having allowed ourselves to be deceived, and change 
the opinion we at first held respecting them. Paul, therefore, 
having said that, when he had once seen Christ, he despised 
and counted as loss those advantages which he had formerly 
prized, adds now that he is still of the same opinion. My 
senses (says he) were not dazzled by the glory of Christ, which 
at first struck me so forcibly ; it was not the novelty of his 
doctrine which delighted me, and caused me to contemn all 
that I had hitherto valued. I have always preserved the same 
feeling in this respect as I had then. Time has not discovered 
to me in my new Master anything which corresponds not 
with that excellence which my first view of him promised. 
The esteem and love I then felt and avowed, far from having 
lessened, have increased within me more and more. And as 
I then quitted all for his sake, and considered everything as 
hurtful which separated me from communion with him, so I 
do still, and am more than ever resolved to be eternally his. 
I find nothing beautiful, nothing excellent, but in him, and I 
renounce from my heart everything the world esteems, and 
most willingly suffer the loss of all things that I may win 

These are the reasons that induced the apostle to repeat his 
words. For though the all things of which he speaks might 
be taken in their simple and universal sense, (as in fact there 
is nothing in the world which ought to be compared in value 
to Christ and his salvation,) yet the apostle's argument seems 
to require that they should relate to what he had before spoken 
of, namely, the advantages he possessed in Judaism. And our 
French Bible connects them in the translation of the second 
clause of this verse, where the apostle is said not merely to 
have deprived himself of all things, but of all these things, i. e., 
of which he had just spoken. But this must not prevent our 
understanding all that Paul had said respecting the advantages 
of Judaism, as extending also to every other means of salva- 
tion which men consider necessary, equal or preferable to, or 
at least joining and associating them with, the gospel of Christ. 
For if the blood of patriarchs and prophets, if the seal of the 
Mosaic covenant, if observance of and zeal for the law of God, 
if an unblemished reputation, are but small things compared 
with the knowledge of Jesus Christ, if they must be regarded 
as dross, in what class must we place ceremonies and tradi- 
tions purely human, which were commanded neither at Sinai 
nor at Zion, nor by the voice of a prophet, and have their au- 
thority from superstition alone ? 


But without going further into this subject, let us consider 
what the apostle says in our text respecting those advantages 
he formerly possessed in the Jewish religion. He declares that he 
counts all these things as loss, and afterwards, that he has suf- 
fered the loss of them, and esteems them but as dross. But 
he is not satisfied with this ; he shows us the reason why he 
made such small account of things apparently so advanta- 
geous, " for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus ;" and 
also his design in renouncing them, " that I might win Christ." 
We have thus three subjects set forth in the text, on which, by 
God's grace, we will endeavour to speak. 

First, The excellency of the knowledge of Jesus. 

Secondly, The uselessness and vileness of all such advan- 
tages, and even of the observance of the law, as the price of 
this knowledge. 

Thirdly, The necessity of renouncing them all, if we would 
win Christ. 

I. Eespecting the first, this is not the only place in which 
the apostle sets forth, above all things, the excellency of the 
knowledge of Christ, to confound the superstition of the Ju- 
daizing christians. He does the same in his Epistle to the 
Colossians, (Col. i. 15-19,) where, arguing against this error, 
to show how vain and useless was the addition which these 
new teachers wished to make to the gospel, he represents to 
believers the sovereign dignity of the Lord Jesus, the image 
of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature, yea, the 
Creator of all things in heaven and in earth; the Head of the 
church, the first-born from the dead, in whom dwelleth the ful- 
ness of the Godhead bodily, and in whom also are hidden all 
the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Here, then, for the 
same reason, he alleges the excellency of Christ, calling him 
his Lord, not merely as a testimony of the ardent affection he 
bore him, but also to show the insult offered to him by those 
false teachers who would fain give to them whom he had saved 
another Lord beside him. 

The excellency of knowledge may be considered in two 
points : either as regarding the things known, or as regarding 
the use and fruit thereof. And for the first, we call that know- 
ledge excellent which treats of lofty and elevated subjects ; and 
it is in this sense that philosophers prefer the least knowledge 
of the heavens, and the motions of the luminary bodies, to the 
most intimate acquaintance with earth and its concerns, be- 
cause the first of these subjects is much more noble and won- 
derful than the other. And, secondly, we consider that know- 
ledge excellent which is useful and necessary to us, and in- 
creases the happiness of life ; and it is in this sense that the 
same philosophers esteem the knowledge of morals, placing it 
above the abstract sciences, because it is more needful for the 


conduct of our life ; and those among them are praised who 
have brought the study of the heavens down to the earth; 
that is to say, who, instead of amusing themselves by specu- 
lations upon the motions and properties of the heavens, have 
employed all their powers in the consideration of the nature 
of man, of the end for which he lives, and the qualities neces- 
sary to render him happy. 

The knowledge of Jesus our Lord includes both these excel- 
lences in a high degree. For surely Jesus Christ is the 
grandest, the most excellent, the most exalted subject in the 
universe; not a mere heavenly body or immaterial being, but 
the Creator and Master of the heavens, the King and Lord of 
angels, the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express 
image of his person, his word, his wisdom, his eternal power; 
in a word, " God over all, blessed for ever :" and, surpassing 
wonder ! not merely God, but " God manifest in the flesh ;" 
God and man in one person, in whom, as in a mirror, may be 
seen all the perfections of the divine and human nature ; not 
slightly and faintly represented, but vividly portrayed, or ra- 
ther existing in the most perfect and exalted form; not in 
type and shadow, but in reality and truth. In Jesus Christ 
are made known the length, and breadth, and depth, and 
height of the divine glories, secrets which no eye has seen, no 
imagination conceived. In him is shown forth the incompre- 
hensible distinction of three persons in one Being, and the 
unity of one Being in three distinct persons. In him are 
manifested all the attributes of God, his eternity, his infini- 
tude, his power, his wisdom, his justice, his goodness, his pro- 
vidence ; the designs of his eternal mind, and the mighty 
works of his hands. In him are seen, not only the past and 
the present, but also the future ; the diversity of times and dis- 
pensations ; the origin, progress, and end of ages ; the won- 
ders of this world and of that which is to come. And the 
knowledge which Christ gives us is not a doubtful and uncer- 
tain opinion, such as we acquire in the schools of men, whose 
wisdom at best is but suspicion or belief; not a true and cer- 
tain knowledge only ; but it is a clear and solid understanding 
of these subjects ; a power of contemplating " God with open 
face," as Paul saith, 2 Cor. iii. 18, God having rendered him- 
self visible and palpable in Christ, in such wise, that who- 
soever has seen him has seen the Father ; which John also de- 
clares, " That which was from the beginning, which we have 
seen with our eyes, which we have heard, which we have 
looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word of life," 
1 John i. 1. 

But if the knowledge of Jesus Christ is excellent on account 
of the grandeur of the object, and the clearness and certainty 
of the evidence which it gives, it is not the less so on account 


of its usefulness ; and it is in this sense principally that the 
apostle considers it in the text ; because if this wisdom were 
of no avail, it would not induce us to despise or reject things 
otherwise advantageous to us. The results which arise from 
a knowledge of the Saviour are on the one hand so grand and 
divine, and on the other so important and necessary, that we 
may truly say, It alone is excellent ; all other knowledge being 
useless without this, and this being alone capable of rendering 
us eternally happy. 

For, in the first place, while other systems are either igno- 
rant of or extenuate our evil condition, this knowledge in- 
structs us respecting the greatness and the extent of our vile- 
ness, showing us that, born as we are, and living as we do, we 
must expect nothing but death and damnation. It reveals to 
us the wrath of God kindled against the human race, his in- 
exorable anger against sin, and the inevitable punishment that 
awaits us. It shows us the blindness of those who falsely 
imagine they owe nothing to the divine justice, as well as the 
vanity of all means invented or employed by men to appease 
the Almighty and win his favour. But having made us sen- 
sible of our evil state, it places in our hands the true and only 
remedy, Jesus crucified and raised again for us. By the blood 
of that sacrifice, alone capable of expiating the sins of man 
and of purifying his soul, because it is an offering equal to the 
infinitude of his crimes, the wrath of God is extinguished. 
Thus the knowledge of Jesus gives peace to the conscience, 
chasing away from the soul the fear of the avenging anger of 
God, which waged a cruel war within us by day and night. It 
disarms the destroying angel of the sword that alarms us, and 
heaven of the thunder which threatens us. 

But it does not merely deliver us from the fear of hell. It 
gives us the blessed hope of everlasting life ; it opens to us 
heaven and its eternal sanctuary, putting us in possession of 
that perfect and supreme felicity for which we have sighed even 
before we were acquainted with it. For Christ in dying has 
not only satisfied the divine justice, he has also obtained from 
the Father's love, besides the pardon of our sins, the Holy 
Spirit, heaven, and eternal life to bestow upon his servants ; in 
token of which he was raised from the dead the third day, and 
is now seated at the right hand of God, to administer his king- 
dom, and to dispense life and glory to all who believe in him. 
From thence he clothes his people with armour, and sends 
them all things needful for their earthly pilgrimage : he sheds 
into their hearts a joy that passeth understanding : he gives 
them consolation in every affliction, and assurance even in 
death itself. He fills their hearts with ardent love to God, and 
real charity towards their neighbour, producing within them 
true sanctification ; not a mercenary spirit like the Pharisees, 


who acted for hire, and served God only in order to profit 
themselves, but a sincere and candid mind, which embraces 
truth for the love of it, and in so doing considers itself entitled 
to no reward, but simply as having done that which it was its 
duty to do. And when, having passed through the trials and 
labours of this life, they are called to the grave, he receives 
their souls to himself, and preserves their bodies amidst all the 
changes and confusion of the world, to be raised again at the 
great day, and to be made conformable to the glory of his body, 
when he will bestow on them his last and highest gift, and 
elevate them to a participation of his glorious and eternal 

Judge, then, believers, whether the apostle is not right in 
calling the knowledge of Jesus excellent, since it produces 
such sweet and precious fruits. I confess, however, that not 
all who say they possess it are partakers of these fruits. But 
such are presented for their acceptance, and to them belongs 
the blame if they have them not. Although, to speak correctly, 
no one truly knows Christ who is not a partaker of his right- 
eousness and glory, because in this knowledge is life. " This 
is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, 
and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent," John xvii. 3. There- 
fore Paul scruples not to say that none of the princes of this 
world possessed the knowledge of God, alleging as a reason, 
" for had they known it, they would not have crucified the 
Lord of glory," 1 Cor. ii. 8. For how is it possible that a man 
could know Jesus without loving him, without believing his 
promises, and trusting in him? Now, all who believe in him 
and trust in him receive his Spirit, pass from death to life, and 
participate in all his precious gifts ; and it therefore follows 
that they who are not thus in him know him not. " If thou 
knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give 
me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would 
have given thee living water," John iv. 10. 

Thus Paul confounds the false teachers of the circumcision, 
proving to them that they had not the knowledge of Christ, 
although they so loudly boasted of it, and even affected to in- 
struct others therein ; because, had they really known him, 
they would not, any more than himself, have made such ac- 
count of the mere rudiments as to propose to mingle them with 
the gospel. For that all the observances of the Mosaic law, 
and all the advantages with regard to the flesh that can pos- 
sibly be had, are of no value compared with Christ, is very 
evident from what has just been said respecting the excellence 
of the knowledge of him. 

II. This brings us to the second point of the apostle's argu- 
ment, in which he declares that, " for the excellency of this 
knowledge, he considers all these things as loss, that he has 


suffered the loss of them, and that he esteems them but as 
dung." Certainly it is scarcely possible to hold them in greater 
contempt than this. For, in the first place, while the false 
teachers recommended them as important, useful, and even ne- 
cessary for the justification of believers, the apostle, on the 
contrary, " counts them as loss," retarding, rather than ad- 
vancing, the salvation of their souls. He adds, secondly, that 
so considering them, he has renounced them all, and volun- 
tarily " suffered their loss ;" just as a mariner who, seeing that 
his merchandise is sinking his vessel, throws every thing into 
the sea with his own hands, preferring rather to save himself 
alone than to endanger his life by retaining the goods in the 
ship. And, thirdly, the apostle tells us that " he counts them 
but as dung." Now he who throws his merchandise into the 
sea, does it with sorrow, constrained by the necessity of saving 
his life, and when the danger is over, he remembers his loss 
with regret. Paul, on the contrary, makes no more account 
of the loss of those things of which he had deprived himself 
for the love of Christ, than if they had been straw and rubbish. 
For the Greek word which he here uses* signifies literally that : 
a thing of nothing, nlthiness that is thrown away, as not being 
merely useless, but disgusting. 

And to understand more fully the sense and reason of this 
doctrine of Paul, we must remember that the Mosaic law was 
given but for a certain time, and as a certain dispensation ; to 
be, as it were, a schoolmaster to the ancient people of God 
until Christ came: not to justify believers, but to keep them in 
fear, and discipline them unto obedience, till the church should 
have attained (so to speak) the age of its majority ; as the 
apostle explains at some length in his Epistle to the Galatians, 
and in several other places. This era was now arrived ; the 
legal economy ceased ; Moses gave up the people to Joshua ; 
he put them into the hands of Jesus, his living Lord, to be 
thenceforth under his guidance, to live at liberty, no longer 
subject to the severity and the beggarly elements of the school- 
master of their infancy ; so that all the bodily services which 
they were accustomed to render became from that moment per- 
fectly useless, because in Christ there is an abundance of those 
benefits which, prior to his coming, were obtained by the law. 
For what service could the law now render to us ? It showed 
to the Jews the evil of sin, by the curses that were recorded 
against those who were guilty of it. But the gospel of Christ 
shows the evil of sin much more clearly and efficaciously, since 
it places before our eyes the Son of God suffering an igno- 
minious death to atone for our sins, and at the same time opens 
to our view the everlasting miseries in hell, which they who 

* ?.Kvfia.\a. 


die in unbelief and impenitence must certainly endure. Again, 
the law discovered to man his weakness and impotence by the 
endeavours it produced in him to obey it, as Paul explains 
fully in the 7th chapter of his Epistle to the Romans. But 
Jesus shows us this more clearly, telling us at once, without 
any disguise, that of ourselves we can do nothing, and that 
our whole nature is so dreadfully corrupt, that if we would 
enter the kingdom of God, we must be altogether born again. 
The law, by the spirit of slavery which it induced, kept the 
Israelites in some measure to their duty, constraining them to 
abstain from vice, and devote themselves to the study of piety 
and holiness. But Jesus does this more effectually, transform- 
ing our hearts into the fear and love of God, by the Spirit of 
adoption, by the clearness and propriety of his doctrines, by 
the beautiful picture of holiness which he proposes to us, by 
the example of his own life, and lastly, by the many proofs of 
the goodness of God, and the blessed immortality reserved for 
us, which are scattered everywhere throughout the gospel. 
And finally, the law represented the mysteries of Christ and 
his kingdom, the value of his sacrifice, the assistance of his 
Spirit, the purity of his worship. But what need have we now 
of the shadow, since we possess the things themselves ? Of 
what use to us could the types be, since we have the spirit and 
the substance? 

Thus you see that, according to the design of God, the ad- 
vantages and sacraments of the law are of no avail since the 
manifestation of his Son, and that those who now beguile 
themselves with them lose their time and their trouble, as 
completely as though, after the rising of the sun, they still 
used the light of a lamp ; or as if, in the strength of manhood, 
a person were retained in all the exercises and sports of child- 
hood. Therefore those false teachers who desired to retain the 
ceremonies of the law among christians, regarded them in 
quite another light than that for which God instituted them, 
supposing them to be, not instructions for leading them to 
Christ, (and in this respect they could be no longer necessary, 
since Christ was already come,) but as a means of obtaining 
salvation, by the merit and efficacy of which man might be 
justified before God. And this was precisely the error in 
which Paul himself had formerly been, when in the school of 
the Pharisees ; believing, like them, that circumcision, sacri- 
fices, abstinence, ablutions, and other ceremonies of the law, 
were really expiatory for sin, and merited the favour of God, 
having been instituted by Moses for that end. 

And it is on this account that the apostle here so strongly 
decries all the advantages of the law, protesting that he counts 
them as dross, that he rejects them as not merely useless, but 
vile and abominable. Certainly the ideas the Pharisees enter- 


tained were full of error, and at the same time the obedience 
they rendered to the law was by no means such as the law 
demanded of them. It was a mark or image of righteousness, 
ornamented outwardly with fine colours, but within full of 
falsehood and deceit ; and, to crown the whole, it was tainted 
with the deadly poison of presuming to merit the favour of 
the Almighty. However, supposing they had been all they 
pretended to be, it is yet evident that every advantage they 
could possess must be nothing in comparison with the excel- 
lency of the knowledge of Christ. You boast, O Pharisee, of 
being of the blood of Abraham, an Israelite, nay, a Hebrew 
of the Hebrews ! But what is that compared to all we possess 
in Christ Jesus, who has made us bone of his bone, and flesh 
of his flesh, citizens of heaven, brethren of angels, children of 
God, and heirs of his kingdom ? You glory in having been 
circumcised, in carrying the seal of the covenant in your flesh ; 
but Christ gives us infinitely more in which to glory, taking 
from us the entire fleshly nature, and sealing both the soul 
and body with the mark of his Holy Spirit unto the day of 
redemption. You make a parade of your righteousness, and 
tell us that it is without spot ; but what can you reply when 
we tell you, that the righteousness with which our Christ 
clothes us is much more perfect than yours can be, inasmuch 
as it is divine and not human, eternal and not temporal, ca- 
pable of meeting the eyes and the examination of God, and 
not those merely of men ? But I will go further. Even were 
you perfectly to fulfil the whole law, so as to have no need of 
an atonement, and were you thus able to appear before the 
tribunal of God, and justly claim all that he has promised to 
entire obedience, still to you could not be given crowns so de- 
lightful and so excellent as those which he has given to his 
Son ; and although you would receive your reward, you would 
not enjoy the kingdom purchased by his blood, you would not 
share in the honours of Jesus, by being partakers with him, 
animated by his Spirit, and members of his body, which are 
certainly the highest honours a creature can possess. 

From whence it is evident, that, whatever may be the ad- 
vantages of the law, they fall very short of those which are to 
be found in the knowledge of Jesus ; so that, in comparison 
with them, they may well be counted as loss. And if you 
consider in what estimation the Pharisees and Judaizing chris- 
tians held them, who expected to be justified by the defective 
imperfect obedience which they rendered to the law, it appears 
that by thus regarding them they became an obstacle to their 
salvation, their loss rather than their gain. ■ The apostle, 
having been taught in the school of Christ, attacks their error 
sharply, and exposes their preteuded advantages as mere things 
of nought, protesting that, far from glorying in them, he has 


them in contempt. And he even ventures to compare them 
to dross and dung, in order to show how great was the folly 
of these people, who, in glorying in such things, were only 
making crowns of straw and filth, which would soil and dis- 
honour the head, instead of adorning it. As for himself, he 
says, although the advantages he possessed were greater than 
theirs, yet he has willingly suffered the loss of all, that "he 
may win Christ." And this brings us to the third clause in 
the text. 

III. The apostle compares the things of which he has de- 
prived himself to a price that he willingly paid to possess 
Christ, and calls him a " gain," because he had found in him 
infinitely greater good than all he had renounced ; a divine 
instead of a carnal parentage ; a complete and perfect right- 
eousness instead of a corrupt and imperfect obedience ; the love 
of Grod instead of the favour of men ; the friendship of angels 
instead of that of the Jews ; immortal glory instead of the vain 
approbation of the world ; true peace in the conscience in- 
stead of the mere assumption of it; happiness in the Spirit 
instead of ease in the flesh ; in a word, all the treasures of 
heaven and eternity instead of a few trifling and perishable 
possessions in the earth. 

But I must here entreat you, dear brethren, carefully to re- 
mark what is shown to us by the apostle, namely, that in order 
to win Christ we must deprive ourselves of all other things. 
This pearl of great price is only to be obtained at the sum of 
all that we have. Those false teachers did not openly renounce 
Christ ; they professed to believe in him, and trust him ; they 
even gave him the highest place in their esteem ; but they also 
required that the sacrifices and ceremonies of Moses should be 
associated with him as the proper means of man's justification. 
But the apostle utterly condemns this union of the two. He 
tells us we must be saved entirely by Christ, and must owe all 
our righteousness to his free grace alone. He teaches that we 
must either renounce him altogether, or serve none but him. 
You insult him if you imagine that to be saved you have need 
of Moses or any other being. But what ! (you will exclaim,) 
in order to win Christ, am I then obliged to deprive myself of 
all my worldly goods? Must I quit my nobility, for instance, 
or my dignities, or my wealth, or the refinement of my man- 
ners, my integrity, my strict justice, and other virtues which 
are often found in those who know not Jesus ? Is it not pos- 
sible to have part with him without abandoning everything I 
possessed before ? 

Dear brethren, I answer, that it is necessary to distinguish 
between the real value of those things, and the qualities attri- 
buted to them by nature or superstition. Paul, to become a 
christian, did not renounce his extraction from the blood of 


Abraham, but he renounced the absurd trust which other Jews 
placed in this carnal nobility. He did not lay aside his pro- 
bity and the righteousness commanded by the law in order to 
give himself up to intemperance or licentiousness ; his conver- 
sion rendered him more pure and virtuous than he had ever 
been ; but he dismissed for ever all the pride that he had felt 
in his own perfection. He did not lay aside good works, but 
he did lay aside all presumptuous hopes founded upon them. 
And when we discourse upon the righteousness of faith, it is 
not that we blame or contemn good works, (God forbid,) but 
we simply take from them the virtues which our adversaries 
falsely ascribe to them, namely, of being capable of justifying 
men before God. This is the leaven that spoils them ; this is 
the fly that corrupts them ; this it is that changes their gain 
into loss, and from jewels produces dross and filth. 

As for riches and honours, and similar things, which are good 
only in their use, and not morally so, we should detach them 
from our hearts to that degree as to be ready instantly to part 
with them, whenever it happens that we cannot maintain them 
in possession without danger of losing Christ. You may be a 
christian without being poor. But you cannot be a christian 
without being willing to become poor whenever your Master 
calls you so to be. In short, the doctrine and the example of 
the apostle teach us to renounce everything that can only be 
possessed without Christ, that is to say, everything incompa- 
tible with his inward kingdom, with that entire rule which he 
ought to bear over us ; everything that can hinder our saying 
with truth, In him is all our glory. 

Thus, dear brethren, I have explained to you this word of 
the apostle. May God, who has given it to us by the pen of 
his servant, engrave it in our hearts by the hand of his Spirit, 
so that henceforward the Son may reign there with absolute 
power: and in order to gain him, may we hold nothing so 
dear that we cannot easily part from it, counting our lives but 
as rubbish in comparison of preserving ourselves pure in him. 

Let us then, first, bless God who has given us this know- 
ledge of the Son of his love, the most precious of all his 
treasures. Let us, with Paul, admire the excellency of this 
grace, and learn from him to value it at its just price. This 
knowledge, brethren, infinitely surpasses all earthly wisdom, 
and even the wisdom of the law itself, though given from 
heaven. All that knowledge of the ancient Israelites, so much 
esteemed by Moses, and so exalted above the knowledge of 
every other nation on the earth, was yet but the rudiment of 
our gospel : compared with it, it was but like the twinkling 
of a star, dimly discerned through the darkness of the night, 
or the pale light of a lamp, feebly indicating the glory of the 
noon-day sun. I will say more : the knowledge of Christ is 


above the knowledge that Adam had, or could have acquired, 
in Paradise. It is even more excellent than the light which 
angels possessed before the manifestation of the Saviour. Let 
us then praise the Lord for thus enlightening our minds ; for 
thus in his infinite mercy separating us from the rest of the 
world, which lieth in the darkness of nature or superstition ; 
and vouchsafing to send us his apostles and prophets to teach 
us the knowledge of the mystery of Christ. Oh, let us profit 
by his goodness, and be attentive to his instructions. Let us 
leave all other subjects to study this ; and, with Paul, let us 
resolve to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified. 
Let us give ourselves no rest until we become acquainted with 
him. For the light we possess, which shines brightly in the 
midst of us, will but aggravate our misery, and enhance our 
condemnation, if we make not the. proper use of it. Its real 
use is to dispose our hearts, like that of Paul, to admire and 
love Christ above all things, and to esteem as filth and dross 
whatever places itself in competition with him. And, in fact, 
brethren, there is not, and there never can be, anything on 
earth comparable to this gracious Lord, whether for the excel- 
lence of his gifts, or the means by which he bestows them on 

The Paradise of Eden and its delights were but types of the 
glorious and perfect beatitude which God has prepared for the 
members of his Son ; so that had we been enabled to perform 
the whole law, and been on the point of receiving the reward 
promised under the first covenant, and had the happiness de- 
rived from Jesus been then offered to us, we should certainly 
have quitted the former to embrace the latter, renouncing 
Adam and his Paradise to obtain Christ. But, alas, these are 
not the terms offered to us. In the case described, not to 
choose Christ would be a loss truly ; but it would be only the 
loss of a greater benefit, while the lesser would still remain to 
us. But now there is no middle line between communion with 
Christ or the most awful reverse. We are somewhat in the 
condition of princes, who cannot descend to a private station, 
they must perish or reign. It is the same with us. We must 
either reign with Jesus, or perish for ever with devils ; either 
enjoy the most perfect happiness, or suffer the utmost misery ; 
because, being sinners, we can be saved only by Christ, and 
whom he saves he renders happy to all eternity. 

Let us then embrace his salvation with our whole hearts, 
both on account of his excellence and our own necessity. Let 
this great truth be stamped upon our minds, that out of him 
everything is mortal and evanescent. You behold the wrath 
of God revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness of 
men ; time which ends with the world ; death which spares 
none ; riches, honours, men, families, villages, empires passing 


away one after another, and leaving no traces behind them ; a 
secret and inevitable decree sapping the foundation of things 
apparently the most solid; ravaging and carrying away all 
things, and plunging them, like the deluge of old, into a dark 
and deep abyss from whence there is no return. These things 
you behold now. But those which are yet invisible are infi- 
nitely worse; hell-fire unquenchable; the worm that never 
dies, but is eternally gnawing impenitent sinners! 

Remember, therefore, that Jesus Christ alone, like another 
Noah, saves from destruction all who take refuge in his ark, 
which now stands open to receive them. That ark, sinners, is 
your only hope. Oh, flee to it. Disengage yourselves from the 
trammels of this world, and forsake all to gain it. Reject what- 
ever might retard you in the pursuit of so requisite an end, 
and scruple not to say to those who would dissuade you from 
your purpose, though they were even your parents or best 
friends, " Get thee behind me, Satan ; thou art an offence to me." 

Remember, yon have nothing so precious as your soul ; no- 
thing so sacred, so essential as fellowship with the Saviour; 
that for him it is needful to " hate father, mother, wife, chil- 
dren, brothers, sisters, and even our own life :" and that to ob- 
tain his salvation it is necessary, in the language of scripture, "to 
cut off our hands, or our feet, or even to pluck out our eyes." 
it being "better to enter into life halt or maimed, rather 
than having two hands or two feet to be cast into hell-fire." 
Unhappy sinner! of what avail can those honours and those 
pleasures be which you so dearly love, if you lose your own 
soul ? How can you be so ill-advised as to prefer such vanities 
to the Lord Jesus, the King of glory, the life and happiness 
of mankind ? How is it you do not understand, that in losing 
him you lose everything, but by gaining him you lose no- 
thing? If you are willing to quit these things for his sake, 
he will give himself entirely to you. He will give you the 
peace of the Father, the consolation of the Spirit, and a bless- 
ed immortality. And is not the acquisition of so great a ben- 
efit at the expense of such mere trifles an inestimable gain ? 
But, my friends, we have been hitherto spared, and have ex- 
perienced no temptation, save " that which is common to man." 
At present, our Lord has not required us to shed our blood 
for his sake, or to deprive ourselves of our goods, though, 
were he to demand these things, they would be nothing to the 
price he has given for us. He requires only that we renounce 
every evil thing, ambition, avarice, hatred, strife, envy; that 
we consider all sin as a monstrous thing, for so in fact it is ; 
that we hold it in abhorrence, and look upon it as abominable 
filth; and that we at all times prefer his glory to the gratifica- 
tion of our own sinful lusts. 

Let us then obey these reasonable demands, and in order 


to win the Saviour, who thus so graciously presents himself to 
us both in his word and ordinances, let us cast away every 
thing of a sinful nature, and accustom ourselves so to behold 
and taste the value of this divine Eedeemer, that at length we 
may be enabled for his sake to despise every earthly good, and 
to say with the apostle in sincerity of heart, " Yea, doubtless, 
I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge 
of Christ Jesus my Lord : for whom I have suffered the loss 
of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win 
Christ." Amen. 


VERSES 9 — 11. 

And {that I may) be found in him, not having mine oivn righteous- 
ness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of 
Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may 
know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship 
of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death ; if by 
any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 

We read in the book of Genesis that Adam and Eve, im- 
mediately after their fall, perceiving their nakedness, sewed 
fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons ; that, hearing 
the voice of the Lord, they hid themselves from him among 
the trees of the garden ; that the Almighty, after having con- 
victed them of their sin, and pronounced their sentence of 
condemnation, (ameliorating his threatened judgments by giv- 
ing them the hope of restitution through the seed of the 
woman,) condescended himself to " make them coats of skin, 
and clothe them." 

As all things contained in the ancient scriptures relate to 
Christ, who is the sum and substance of them, I have no 
doubt, brethren, that this wonderful transaction represents to 
us some of the mysteries of his gospel. Now in my opinion 
the first part of this mystical picture describes the feelings 
and sentiments of sinful man in the state in which he is born. 
He is not so brutish that he cannot perceive his misery, and 
the nakedness of his nature, despoiled of that innocence and 
holiness which ought to dwell therein. This sense of naked- 
ness induces him to seek some covering to conceal his sin and 
shame, and enable him to appear in the light without blush- 
ing. But instead of providing himself with suitable clothing, 


he does but industriously sew fig leaves together ; a vain and 
useless attempt, too well describing the expiations, satisfactions, 
and pretended righteousness which nature and superstition 
have invented to conceal sin, and justify man in the sight of 
God. For as the fig leaf is rough and unpleasant to the touch, 
and, moreover, its edges so divided and cut, that it necessarily 
leaves some part of the body uncovered ; so the superstitions 
and ceremonies which the heathen, the Pharisees, and all others, 
ancient or modern, who would justify themselves, have in- 
vented to hide sin, (the shame of our nature,) are difficult and 
wearisome to the mind, and are, moreover, unequal to the task 
assigned them, being utterly incapable of concealing our na- 
kedness. And therefore it often happens, that those who beguile 
themselves with such things (though they may strut before 
men, and talk loudly of their expiations and their merits, fan- 
cying they have sufficient not only for themselves, but for 
others also) no sooner hear the voice of God coming to judge 
them, than, like Adam and Eve, they flee trembling from 
him, conscious of the impotence of the miserable fig leaves 
with which they are adorned, and vainly wishing to hide their 
nakedness from the eyes of their sovereign Judge. 

This appears to me the mystical meaning of the first part 
of this wonderful history. But what can be the signification 
of the second part — God himself making coats of skin for 
Adam and Eve, and clothing them therewith ? Dear brethren, 
it is an image of the infinite mercy which God has shown to- 
ward us in the person of his Son Jesus. Adam, that is to say, 
man, with all the fertility of his invention, supplies himself 
with nothing but useless leaves. God alone, in his goodness, 
has provided a garment capable of concealing our nakedness, 
and of enabling us to appear in his presence without shame 
and without fear. The substance and quality of the clothing 
made for Adam represents in a lively manner that mystic gar- 
ment which God has bestowed on us by his Son. For Adam's 
covering was not made of flax, or of hemp, or of wool, or of 
silk, or of any of those articles which man employs for this 
purpose, but of skins, as the scripture tells us; of the skin of 
some animal put to death in order to clothe our first parents ; 
thereby signifying to us, that the robe with which the Saviour 
by grace covers his people must cost that blessed Lamb his 
life, being taken from him who is sacrificed for us. For, as 
you well know, his death is our life : he has shed his blood to 
cover our nakedness, and conceal our shame; and by his death 
alone his saints are invested with their immortal robe of glory. 
As the clothing of Adam was a gift from God, and not the in- 
vention or work of man ; so the righteousness of Christ is a 
gift from heaven, and not a production of the earth. It is given 
to us by the free grace of God, who, in his wisdom, designed, 


formed, and made this mystical garment, of which neither an- 
gels nor men could have conceived an idea. And as the cloth- 
ing provided for Adam was suitable to his need, and fit for the 
purpose designed, not unseemly and imperfect, like the absurd 
fig leaves of his own sewing together ; so the righteousness 
of the Lamb of God has every requisite for our complete jus- 
tification, being perfect and entire, and suited to our necessi- 
ties in every respect, and not defective, like the supposed 
merits of men, which are in reality more likely to hurt and 
disgrace than to clothe and adorn us. 

It is of this righteousnes of God that Paul speaks to us to- 
day, brethren, in the text which you have heard. He had seen 
how useless and imperfect was that with which the disciples 
of superstition or of the law imagined they could appear be- 
fore God, having formerly lost his time and trouble in adorn- 
ing himself with those vain leaves while he was yet in the 
school of the Pharisees. But the eyes of his understanding 
having been enlightened from heaven in a miraculous manner 
to see the wonderful treasures of the Lord Jesus, he instantly 
and for ever quitted the false splendor of his Pharisaic cloth- 
ing, casting it away as no better than mere fig leaves, and gave 
himself entirely to the Saviour ; thus putting aside the gar- 
ments of the first Adam to adorn himself with those of the 
Second. He had begun this subject in the preceding verse, in 
which he declares, as you will remember, that " he had suffered 
the loss of all (these) things, counting them as dung, that he 
might win Christ." He now enforces this proposition, showing 
us more especially in what the " gain" of possessing Christ con- 
sisted ; and what were the effects of that fellowship with him 
which he was so desirous to possess : " That I may be found 
in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the 
law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the right- 
eousness which is of God by faith : that I may know him, and 
the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his suf- 
ferings, being made conformable unto his death ; if by any 
means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." 

The apostle in this rich and magnificent, though brief, lan- 
guage, declares to us that which he expected from the Lord 
Jesus, and which he actually gives to all who truly believe in 

First, He clothes them with " the righteoLisness of God by 

Secondly, He gives them a part in " the power of his resur- 

Thirdly, He makes them " conformable to his death." And, 

Lastly, he conducts them to his glorious " resurrection ;" and 
this includes all the principal mercies that we receive from God 
by his Son: it is by him that we are justified and sanctified; 


by him we are armed with patience to endure afflictions; and 
by him we shall at length be raised in glory. These, therefore, 
if it please God, shall form the four subjects of the present dis- 
course : the righteousness of God in Christ ; the power of his 
resurrection ; the fellowship of his sufferings ; and the resur- 
rection from death to which we aspire. 

I. To commence, then, with the first clause, the apostle tells 
us that he renounced all other advantages in order that he 
" might be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness, 
which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of 
Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." To be 
found, in the language in which the apostle wrote, is gener- 
ally expressive simply of to be, and in the text, therefore, to be 
found in him, signifies to be in him: however, the common 
mode of expression may perhaps be best here. For when God 
comes to judge men, he finds them in opposite states ; some 
without Christ, having no fellowship with him ; others in Christ, 
trusting to him alone, and united to him by a pure and simple 
faith. The apostle desires to be of the number of these last, 
well knowing that out of Christ nothing is to be expected but 
condemnation and misery ; and therefore to this end he, as it 
were, quits himself, he casts away every advantage that be- 
longed to him by birth and education, to put on Christ ; so 
that when the sovereign Judge shall come, or the accuser pre- 
sent himself, he may be found in Christ, in his body, in his 
vine. It appears that he here alludes to what he had said be- 
fore, that he counted all things loss, and most willingly de- 
prived himself of them, that he might win Christ ; adding now 
that he had done so to be found in him, or, to find himself in 
him; and this signifies that the loss of all was very advanta- 
geous to him, since instead of those things of nought of which 
he had deprived himself, he now possessed Christ, being lost 
in himself to be saved by him. And truly there is but this 
one Saviour in whom man can be found ; he is lost if he relies 
on any other : and, on the contrary, whatever loss he may sus- 
tain to win Christ, he finds again in him; as saith our Lord on 
another subject, " Whosoever will save his life shall lose it ; 
but whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it," 
Matt. x. 39. 

But the apostle, in order to mark more especially the object 
he seeks, and, in fact, finds in Christ, adds, " not having mine 
own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is 
through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God 
by faith." God being of purer eyes than to behold sin, will 
never communicate himself to the creature who is guilty of it, 
while he remains unpunished ; there are therefore but two 
methods of appearing in his presence and partaking of his fa- 
vour : the one is, by proving that we are free from sin, having 


perfectly fulfilled his commands ; the other, by receiving mercy 
and grace through the satisfaction of Jesus Christ, who by his 
obedience even unto death, has made an atonement for sin, and 
appeased the wrath of God. The first of these two ways is 
that which the apostle calls in the text, "his righteousness, 
which is of the law ;" the second, " the righteousness which is 
through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God 
by faith." He had formerly followed the first way, while in 
the darkness of Phariseeism, expecting to be justified (that is, 
declared righteous, and treated by God as such) by the works 
of the law, in virtue of that obedience which he daily studied 
to render to its commands. And these false teachers, by rea- 
son of whom he seems partly to have penned this Epistle, still 
retained the same error while professing Christianity, subject- 
ing believers to the law, and supposing that these observances 
which they added to the gospel would be the means of justify- 
ing them in the sight of God. But Paul, enlightened by the 
Lord, altogether rejects this way of justification, showing a't 
some length, in the first five chapters of his Epistle to the Eo- 
mans, that in the present state of man it is impracticable ; and 
again, he carries on the same argument in the Epistle to the 
Galatians. And indeed, if we consider the subject calmly, this 
truth is self-evident. For as the law curses with inexorable 
rigour whoever should fail in one point which it commands ; 
and as it appears, on the other hand, both by the word of God, 
and the answer of the conscience, that there is no mortal man 
who has not sinned, and who fails not continually in that obe- 
dience which the law demands ; who does not see that if he 
were to have the boldness to present himself before the tribu- 
nal of the law, he could but bring thence confusion and cur- 
sing ? Yes, it is impossible that man can be saved by the law. 
It is on this account that David entreats the Lord not to enter 
into judgment with him, adding that in his sight no flesh could 
be justified, Psal. xiv. 3. But there is no need to insist on this 
point. The authority and the example of the apostle are suffi- 
cient for us, and he loudly and clearly renounces it in the text, 
" the righteousness which is of the law." But blessed for ever 
be the Lord, who in the inexhaustible treasures of his wisdom 
and mercy has found another method of justifying the sinner, 
not only possible but easy, by sending his Son to be the pro- 
pitiation for our sins, and through his blood making a new 
covenant with us, which saith not, as the old covenant, " Do 
this, and live," but, "Believe, and thou shalt be saved;" so that 
whosoever believes obtains remission of sins, and access to the 
throne of God, there to receive the fruits of grace, peace, con- 
solation, sanctification, and in the end a blessed immortality ; 
all in virtue of that obedience which Jesus rendered to the 
Father on the cross, where he was made sin and a curse for us, 


his agonies being imputed to us as though we had suffered 
them. It is to this righteousness Paul alludes. This he de- 
sires to possess as the only means of obtaining the peace of 
God, as the only title to salvation and to life. He knows that 
no other can stand before an all-searching God ; that no right- 
eousness but this can meet his view. He calls it righteousness 
because it is by it that we are justified, being dealt with by 
the Lord as though we were perfectly righteous, as though we 
had never committed a sin against him. He tells us it is by 
the " faith of Christ," (that is by the faith we possess in the 
gospel of Christ,) because it is communicated to the believer in 
Jesus, according as the scriptures teach in an infinite number 
of places. " He that believeth in the Son is not condemned, 
but is passed from death unto life," John iii. 18, 36. And there- 
fore the apostle elsewhere says, that whoso believeth on him that 
justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness, 
Rom. iv. 5, because it occupies the place of righteousness ; this 
faith obtaining from God all the recompense that is promised 
to the most perfect obedience, even as it is said of Abraham, 
" He believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteous- 

The apostle adds, that this " righteousness is of God by faith," 
because it is God alone who established us therein, who hath 
given us the Son, the foundation of our faith, having revealed 
him from heaven, and who communicateth this righteousness 
in imputing to the believer the obedience of the Mediator, re- 
garding him with a favourable eye when thus clothed as it 
were with Jesus, and crowning him with all the benefits he 
purchased by his death upon the cross. 

Our adversaries of the church of Rome, who retain in some 
degree the doctrine of those whom the apostle here condemns, 
interpret these words in another manner, and understand by 
" the righteousness which is of God by faith," the good works 
Paul performed after he became a christian, pretending that 
through their means he was justified before God, and therefore 
calls them " the righteousness of God by faith," because they 
were the fruits of his faith in Christ. But this interpretation 
upholds a doctrine full of vanity and pride, condemned by the 
apostle a hundred times, namely, that man may be justified by 
his works : it strains and perverts the whole text, and makes 
void the contrast which Paul expressly draws between " the 
righteousness which is by the law," and " the righteousness of 
God," which he desired to possess in Christ ; it being^clear, even 
according to our antagonists, that he might equally well call 
the good works which he performed when a christian his 
" righteousness which is by the law," as those which he had per- 
formed when a Jew, since it was himself who did them ; since 
they were done according to the law, which commands us to love 


God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves ; and 
since he wrought them, if you believe the Kornish church, with 
a view to be justified by them, according to that word of the 
law, " Do this, and live." But this explanation evidently in- 
jures the cause of the apostle. For those of whom he had been 
discoursing also professed to have embraced the gospel, and 
maintained that the good works by which they expected to be 
justified were fruits of faith in Christ ; so that if the apostle's 
righteousness consisted also in good works, he was wrong for 
having argued so forcibly against them. He ought only to 
have forbidden circumcision and the other ceremonies which 
these people retained, leaving to the works commanded by the 
moral law the glory they ascribed to them, that of being the 
cause of our justification ; instead of which he everywhere dis- 
putes against this doctrine, absolutely denying that man can 
be justified by the works of the law ; and placing expressly 
among the advantages that he had renounced all " the right- 
eousness that is by the law," in which, until then, he had been 
irreproachable ; and it is evident the works of the moral law 
are equally intended with those of the ceremonial. 

And as for that which some allege, that the righteousness 
which Paul renounced proceeded from his own free-will, while 
that which he desired to find in Christ was derived from the 
grace of the Holy Spirit, if the apostle had had any intention 
of marking this difference, it is strange that he says nothing 
respecting it, either here or elsewhere ; all his argument being 
against the power attributed to good works of being able to 
justify man, and not against the principle from whence they 
proceeded. Again, is it not very clear that these people held 
that their works were the offspring of their own free-will, after 
they had received the gospel? and it appears they main- 
tained on this subject an opinion similar to that which is 
taught in most of the Eomish schools, namely, that good works 
spring partly from grace, and partly from free-will. 

But they add, that the righteousness the apostle desired 
must be understood as a righteousness inherent in his person, 
and not imputed by the grace of God, because he says he is in 
Christ, and those who are in him, by virtue of that fellowship, 
are really sanctified in their hearts ; and this, they suppose, is 
signified by the words, " that I may know him, and the power 
of his resurrection, and the fel]owship of his sufferings;" 
which, however, evidently signify the sanctification produced 
in us by the communion we have with Jesus crucified and 
raised again. Thus far I most willingly allow, that every 
man, who by a true and lively faith enters into communion 
and fellowship with Jesus, is, by the mercy of God, transformed 
into a new creature, and " created unto good works," that he 
may walk therein in fear and trembling, as the apostle has 


taught us elsewhere : " Who has given himself for us, that he 
might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify us unto himself 
a peculiar people, zealous of good works," Tit. ii. 14 ; and 
again, " If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature," 2 Cor. 
v. 17 : and I grant also, that Paul, the chosen vessel, abounded 
in these divine fruits more than any other disciple of the Lord. 
We dispute this with none. We simply contend that, upon 
the subject of appearing before God to partake of his grace 
and glory, neither Paul nor any other true believer trusts to 
anything but the death and passion of the Lord Jesus. No 
believer depends upon his works for justification, however ex- 
cellent they may be. 

Be it then that Paul, by the efficacy of fellowship with Je- 
sus, and by virtue of his death and resurrection, was greatly 
sanctified, and produced excellent fruits of piety and charity 
(as I believe, and for which I praise God) ; it does not there- 
fore follow that this holy apostle pleaded his works as his 
righteousness before the tribunal of the Lord, or that he in- 
tends to speak of them here by the " righteousness of God," 
as opposed to his own, or " the righteousness which is of God 
by faith," opposed to that which is " by the law." On the 
contrary, the distinction he draws between " the knowledge of 
Christ and fellowship with his sufferings," and the possession 
of the " righteousness of God," as of effects and cause, evi- 
dently proves that this righteousness, and the holiness depend- 
ing thereon, are separate things. 

The righteousness of God, which we have in his Son, is the 
principle, the source, the cause ; holiness is the fruit, the 
stream, the effect ; good works, as one said formerly, follow- 
ing, and not preceding justification; an evident token that 
they are not the cause of it. This truth is so clear, and so 
needful for the peace of the soul, that our adversaries are con- 
strained to join hands with it, when they consider it calmly, 
without the excitement and warmth of dispute. And to close 
the subject, I will quote the words of a cardinal of the Romish 
church, celebrated in his age for the purity of his doctrine, 
the integrity of his manners, the nobility of his birth, and the 
various offices of trust which he discharged* 

" We ought to rest upon the righteousness that is given us 
in Christ, as on a sure and solid foundation, and not upon the 
grace or holiness inherent in us. For as for this inherent 
righteousness, it is but in its infancy, and very imperfect, and 
cannot prevent us from sinning and transgressing continually 
in many things ; consequently we have need to pray to God 
daily for pardon. And therefore, clothed with our own right- 
eousness, we cannot stand before God just and holy as the 

* Coutarin ou Justification, p. 572. 


children of Christ should be. But the righteousness of Christ, 
which is bestowed on us, is a true and perfect righteousness, 
complete in the sight of God, in which can be nothing offen- 
sive, nothing unpleasing to him. It is, then, upon this only 
secure foundation that we ought to lean, believing that by this 
alone we are justified, that is, accounted righteous and holy 
before God. This is that precious treasure which christians 
sell all they have to procure. This is the pearl of great price, 
which whoever finds leaves all to possess ; as says Paul, " I 
count all things but dung that I may win Christ, and be found 
in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, 
but that which is by the faith of Jesus Christ." And again, 
" We see by experience that the more holy men advance in 
holiness, the more are they dissatisfied with themselves, and 
the more do they perceive their need of Jesus Christ and his 
righteousness ; and therefore they renounce themselves, and 
trust on Christ alone : because their eyes are more enlightened 
to behold the imperfection of their obedience and inherent 
righteousness; and the more clear and distinct their sight is, 
the more spots and blemishes do they discover in themselves ; 
so that at length they are brought to rely entirely on the grace 
and righteousness of Christ, instead of leaning in any degree 
upon their own holiness and merit." 

Such is the acknowledgment made by this writer, of the 
truth of the doctrine of justification by the grace and merit of 
Christ alone. Ah, God forbid, beloved brethren, that we 
should ever be drawn aside into error by the persuasions of 
others, so as to be induced to depart from so holy and essential 
a doctrine. 

II. I must now return to the apostle, who goes on to re- 
count the excellent fruits of this righteousness of God which 
he possessed in Christ ; saying, " that I may know him, and 
the power of his resurrection." I am not ignorant that the 
apostle says in his Epistle to the Romans, " Christ was raised 
for our justification;" meaning that by his glorious resurrec- 
tion he has shown us that the atonement made by his death 
was perfect and entire, and as such accepted by the Father ; 
his resurrection being, as it were, a token of complete acquit- 
tance for the payment of our ransom : and therefore what 
Paul says in my text of the power of his resurrection, may 
relate to that faith which it is capable of producing in us, 
whereby we are justified.* But it appears that the apostle 
having spoken sufficiently of our righteousness in Christ, these 
words more properly relate to the efficacy of his resurrection 
for our sanctification, by raising us from the sepulchre of sin. 
For Paul attributes this effect to it in many parts of his wri- 

*The Ordinal Contarin. 


tings, teaching us that " we are buried with Christ by baptism 
unto death: that like as Christ was raised again from the dead 
by the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness 
of life," Rom. vi.; and " if we have been planted together in 
the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his 
resurrection." Peter also tells us that " we have been begotten 
again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ 
from the dead ; and that by this resurrection we have the an- 
swer of a good conscience towards God," 1 Pet. i. 3; iii. 21 ; in 
which he makes the principal virtue of our baptism to con- 
sist. And therefore it is that when he would describe our 
sanctification, Paul makes use frequently of these grand ex- 
pressions, that " we are risen with him through the faith of the 
operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead," Col. ii. 
12; and he says not only that we are "raised together with 
him, but that we are seated with him in the heavenly 
places," Eph. ii. 6. On this account it is that he so beauti- 
fully exhorts the believers at Colosse: "If then you are 
risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where 
Christ sitteth at the right hand of God," Col. iii. 1. In fact, 
the resurrection of Christ from the dead has detached the 
hearts of believers from this world, in which they were for- 
merly buried. It has manifested the sovereign love which God 
bears to them, and his design of clothing them with his own 
glory, of taking from them all that is carnal and earthly, and 
of converting them into celestial and divine beings. He has 
shown them in the person of Christ, the model of their life, 
and the only real good, which ought thenceforward to be all 
the desire of their souls ; for by faith beholding him rising 
from the grave, laden with the spoils of death, and crowned 
with glory, surely it is impossible but that this manifestation 
of the power and goodness of God must constrain them to aim 
at the like resurrection, to place all their hopes and affections 
in him, and to find their highest joy in communion with him ; 
and fulfilling his commands by following his example. This, 
my friends, is " the power of his resurrection " which the apos- 
tle desired to know ; that is, to feel by experience its sovereign 
efficacy. For he speaks not here of a dead and naked know- 
ledge ; of an idea conceived in the mind without any impres- 
sion made upon the heart. But according to the usual ?tyle 
of scripture, he means to express a lively knowledge, which 
is confirmed by feeling and experience. And the addition of 
this to the righteousness of God by Jesus Christ is very suit- 
able. For the mercenary spirit of those against whom he ar- 
gues, and of all their disciples, leading them to believe that 
there can be no inducement to good works, except the reward 
which (they suppose) they merit, they therefore imagine that 
holiness is at an end when justification by the free grace of 
God in Christ is established. 


Therefore, to prevent these people from calumniating the 
doctrine of the apostle, and imputing to him that in teaching 
the righteousness of Christ by faith he opened a door to sin, 
he adds that such was not the design of God in justifying us 
freely, and that the righteousness of faith is given us in order 
that we may go on to " know the power of the resurrection 
of the Lord." In the same manner, in his Epistle to the Ro- 
mans, after having at some length magnificently established 
the doctrine of justification by faith without works, he adds, 
" What shall we say then ? shall we continue in sin that grace 
may abound ? God forbid." To which answer he adds also 
the efficacy of the resurrection of Christ for our sanctification. 

And in this our day, is not our doctrine misunderstood and 
calumniated in the same way ? do they not say, Since you are 
justified by faith alone, what inducement have you to perform 
good works ? But, O ye adversaries, it is to perform good 
works that I am justified. This divine righteousness of Christ 
has been communicated to me, in order that I may be trans- 
formed into his image ; that I may know the power of his 
resurrection, and that I may be like him, a new creature ; that 
I may love God, not to lay him under obligation to me, (far, 
far from my soul such a preposterous notion,) but to acquit 
myself in a small degree of the immense debt I owe him. I 
love him because he has loved me, because God is love, and 
because he has sent his Son Jesus to die and rise again for me. 
Will my obedience be less acceptable to him because I think 
not of merit in rendering it ? Will he reject it because the 
cross and resurrection of Christ inspires it, and not an inten- 
tion of deserving a reward ? You allow that the holiness of 
the blessed, of those who are already in heaven, and of those 
who will be there after the resurrection, does not justify them, 
or merit for them a continuation of their glory. Why then 
do you blame me for believing that the commencement of the 
rudiments of holiness are of the same nature as its completion 
and perfection ? Why may I not serve God here on earth in 
the same manner as I hope to serve him hereafter in heaven, 
with a pure, a free, and a truly filial affection ? And such af- 
fection, far from presuming to acquire any right of reward from 
so good and so merciful a Father, must after all its efforts re- 
main dissatisfied with itself, and be content to ascribe all it has 
been able to do to his free grace alone. 

III. It is again to confound these false teachers of works that 
Paul adds, in the third place, that he desired, with the right- 
eousness of Christ, to know " the fellowship of his sufferings, 
being made conformante unto his death." 

These people against whom he argues boasted of enhancing 
the value of good works by the opinion of their merit, and 
pretended also that believers were bound to the observance of 


legal ceremonies, such as abstinence from certain meats, dis- 
tinction of days, &c, as plainly appears by the Epistle to the 
Colossians. And you know that at this day those who main- 
tain justification by works support their opinion in two ways : 
by accusing the doctrine of grace of cutting the very nerves 
of holiness ; and by commanding various carnal observances 
of fasts, of feasts, voluntary poverty, pilgrimages, and such- 
like devotions, which they practise (they say) for the mortifi- 
cation of the flesh ; so much the same at all times is the spirit 
of superstition. To the efficacy of their pretended doctrine 
of merit by works, Paul opposes the power of Christ's resur- 
rection, as being incomparably more capable of sanctifying us. 
To their legal exercises he opposes the part we have in the af- 
flictions of the Lord, suffering in his name, and after his ex- 
ample, in various ways. These (he observes) are my fasts and 
my mortifications; the gospel fast, predicted by the Saviour 
to his disciples, when he warned them that after the Bridegroom 
should be taken from them, they should fast and mourn, Matt. 
ix. And the apostle explains this discipline to which we are 
subject during our earthly pilgrimage in his usual splendid 
manner, calling it " to know" (that is, as we have already said, 
to understand by experience) " the fellowship of his sufferings, 
being made conformable to his death." The sufferings of the 
Lord are the things which he has suffered for us, and especially 
upon the cross, as appears by the apostle's adding, " being made 
conformable unto his death." These sufferings may be con- 
sidered in two ways : first, as expiatory of our sins, borne by 
Jesus Christ in our stead in his quality of Surety. And of 
these we are partakers, inasmuch as, embracing them by faith, 
God imputes them to us, as though we ourselves had suffered 
in our own persons ; and he communicates to us the fruit 
thereof, namely, that divine and perfect righteousness whereof 
we have spoken above ; by which, absolved from all our sins, 
we become acceptable to God as his dear children, and can 
never more be called to endure any meritorious or expiatory 
sufferings as were those of the Saviour. But these afflictions 
besides this first and primary object, have yet another; inas- 
much as they are the models, the patterns which Jesus has left 
us to follow, having submitted to them with this view, as our 
elder Brother ; and inasmuch as they are the first-fruits of 
death, showing us the path by which it is the good pleasure of 
the Father to conduct us to salvation. And thus we are par- 
takers with him, being called to suffer after his example. And 
this fellowship may also be considered in two ways : first, as 
mterior ; second, as e.rterior. The first is the mortification of 
sin within us, the crucifixion, so to speak, of the old nature 
upon the cross of Christ, transpiercing it with his thorns and 
nails, drinking of his vinegar, and thus putting it to death by 


degrees ; in which the passion of the Saviour is represented 
within our hearts. And in this sense Paul is to be understood, 
when he says " that we have been planted together in the like- 
ness of his death ;" and " that our old man is crucified with 
him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth 
we should not serve sin," Rom. vi. 5, 6. In the same manner, 
in another place, he tells us that " he is crucified with Christ," 
and "that they who are in Christ have crucified the flesh with 
its affections and lusts," Gal. ii. 20 ; v. 24. 

The second fellowship in the sufferings of the Lord, and 
which we have called exterior, is the part we have in the afflic- 
tions and persecutions of the church, for the confirmation of 
the truth of God, for the glory of the name of Jesus, and for 
the edification of men ; according to that we are taught in the 
Epistle to the Romans, that we are "predestinated to be con- 
formed to his image," chap. viii. 29, evidently in this respect 
of suffering ; and again, " All who will live godly in Christ 
Jesus shall suffer persecution," 2 Tim. iii. 12. This is properly 
the " fellowship of his sufferings," of which the apostle is 
speaking in the text; and he also mentions "a conformity to 
his death," because it was an image of that which he suffered, 
when he endured with humility and patience the death to which 
he was condemned by the persecutors ; nobly finishing his 
course, and sealing the truth with his own blood. 

Behold, then, the two principal fruits of our justification by 
Christ Jesus, deeply to feel and experience, first, the power of 
his resurrection ; and secondly, the fellowship of his sufferings, 
being made conformable unto his death. This is the path by 
which God conducts us to the third and highest point of all 
happiness : it being very certain that if we suffer and die with 
Christ, we shall live and reign with him. And this the apos- 
tle teaches us in the last clause of the text, adding, " If by any 
means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." 

IY. It is quite clear that by this expression he does not 
simply intend the general resurrection of the dead. For, 
speaking literally, all men shall rise again, even the wicked, 
though in shame and ignominy. But he especially intends 
the resurrection of believers, with all the glory and blessed- 
ness with which they are to be crowned ; and our Lord him- 
self often uses these words in the same sense, promising to 
those that believe in him, and eat his flesh and drink his blood, 
that, " he will raise them up at the last day," John vi. 39 ; that 
is to say, that he will give unto them eternal life. And, in fact, 
since the term resurrection properly signifies a re-establishing 
of that which was decayed and fallen to pieces, the word is 
hardly suitable to the reappearing of the wicked, who only 
rise from the tomb to be hurried into the abyss of destruction. 

The enemies of the doctrine of the assurance of believers 


conclude from this clause in the text, " if that by any means I 
miedit attain unto the resurrection of the dead," that Paul was 
not certain of his salvation, since he speaks of it doubtfully 
and with an " if." But how can that agree with what he 
says elsewhere? "I know in whom I have believed, and am 
persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed 
unto him against that day," 2 Tim. i. 12; and, "Henceforth 
there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the 
Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day," 2 Tim. 
iv. 8. Again, " I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor 
angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor 
things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, 
shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in 
Christ Jesus our Lord," Rom. viii. 38, 39. These, and similar 
passages, are so clear, that even those who object to the doctrine 
of assurance except Paul from the number of doubters, sup- 
posing that by a special privilege he had been assured of his 
perseverance in divine grace. What are we to say then to the 
passage before us ? Dear brethren, we must say, first, that the 
expression used here of " if by any means" does not neces- 
sarily signify the doubtfulness and uncertainty of an event, 
but it rather denotes the difficulty as well as the diversity of 
ways and means by which it is to be brought about. And we 
must add, secondly, that which takes away the whole difficulty, 
namely, that one of the most learned Greek grammarians re- 
marked several centuries since, that the best and most ancient 
writers in that language use the term which the apostle here 
employs simply to signify, in order to, to the end that ; and he 
adds, that those who lived in the earliest ages were familiar 
with this expression : as, " I hasten, if by any means I may 
finish this,"* signifying simply, " I hasten in order to finish 
this." From this you will see that there is no real difficulty 
in this passage ; the apostle, by the words, " if that by any 
means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead," not 
intending to express any doubt or distrust, but simply the de- 
sire and endeavour of his mind, exactly as if he had said, " in 
order to attain to the resurrection." 

Such, my brethren, is the gain which the apostle found in 
Christ. First, he obtained a perfect and assured salvation, a 
righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ. Secondly, a 
blessed and happy experience of the power of the resurrection 
of his Lord. And, thirdly, the glorious fellowship of his suf- 
ferings, in order to attain at last to the resurrection and eternal 
life. Judge, then, if, to possess so great an abundance of pre- 
cious things, an eternal and solid peace with God, the honour 

* See also Eustathius in Iliad i//, p. 1286, and in Iliad &>, p. 1350, Edit. Eom. 
See in 10. p. 1350. 65. and p. 1016. 1. 46 ; and in Odys. 3. p. 1556. 1. 2. 


of dying and being raised again with Christ, and of entering 
at length into his glorious kingdom, he was not right in re- 
nouncing the pretended merit of Phariseeism, and the cere- 
monies of the Jewish superstition. IVJy beloved brethren, let 
us imitate the wisdom of this holy apostle ; and let us leave 
all to embrace Jesus Christ. Let us spoil ourselves of all that 
we possess, in order to be clothed with this precious Lamb, 
and be willing to lose ourselves that we may be found in him, 
not having our own righteousness, but his. Our righteousness, 
how perfect soever it may appear, is soiled with many spots, 
and is totally incapable of sustaining the examination of the 
piercing eyes of divine justice, which discovers blemishes in 
the sun itself, and which "charges the very angels with folly." 
There is no righteousness but that of Christ that can be ac- 
ceptable to the Almighty. Clothed in that, I may boldly appear 
before the throne of God, without fearing either the accusations 
of the enemy, for what can he say against the blood and obe- 
dience of the eternal Son ? or the thunders of the law, for 
with what can the law threaten me, since its curse has been 
abolished by the cross of my Lord ? or the horrors of death, 
since my Saviour has disarmed it of all that was terrible to 
me. With this righteousness I shall enter heaven, and con- 
verse with angels without a sensation of shame. With it I 
shall obtain all the promised blessings of God, his Spirit, his 
paradise, his eternity. The Father can refuse nothing to a 
righteousness which he himself ordained, and which has been 
proved perfectly acceptable to him by his having already 
crowned it, in the person of our Head, with all the glory of 
his heavenly kingdom. 

And here, I entreat you, say not, Who shall descend into 
the deep, or who shall mount up to the heavens, to bring me 
this precious righteousness ? This righteousness is not, like 
that of the law, difficult and laborious, or, to speak truly, 
impossible to obtain, being altogether beyond our reach ; but 
it is nigh unto us, in our mouth, and in our heart. It is, says 
the apostle, " by faith." " If thou confess with thy mouth the 
Lord Jesus, and believe with thy heart that God has raised 
him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Only take care that 
your faith is lively and sincere, that it is not a mere illusion, a 
fancy, an idea, but a firm persuasion, an entire assurance of 
the truth of the gospel. Let it be a faith like that of Abra- 
ham, and of the apostle. Whoso has this faith has Jesus Christ 
dwelling within him, and no man has the Son without being a 
partaker of his righteousness, of his life, and of his salvation. 
It is for this that the righteousness of Christ is given us, that 
he may dwell within us, and strengthen us in order that we 
may know the power of his resurrection, as the apostle de- 
clares. Far from us be the ideas of those profane persons who 


abuse the doctrines of grace, and turn them into licentiousness. 
Such people have never known the righteousness or faith of 
our Lord Jesus Christ. If they were members of his body, 
thev would be animated by his Spirit, they would be dead and 
raised again with him, they would live his life, that is, not an 
earthly and carnal, but a heavenly and spiritual life. And al- 
though, by God's grace, our doctrine is entirely innocent of 
their misfortune and crime, rejecting certainly the supposition 
of merit, but in such a manner that it retains and establishes 
the necessity of true sanctification, yet, nevertheless, as error 
and superstition continually lay this blame to our charge, as 
they formerly did to Paul, let us study with the utmost care to 
refute their calumny, not with the pen or tongue, but with 
that which is much more effectual, namely, the holiness of 
our lives. Let our life be a manifest proof of our faith. 
Let our conduct be so pure that our adversaries may be 
constrained to recognize in us the Spirit of sanctification. 
Let the " power of Christ's resurrection" shine forth through 
us. Christian, the power of this divine resurrection can never 
be experienced while you are buried in the sepulchre of vice, 
having your heart wallowing in the mud of voluptuousness and 
carnal delights ; admiring the vanities of this world, and seek- 
ing your happiness therein ; or sighing after gold and silver 
with your affections swallowed up in the mines from whence 
those metals are drawn. The resurrection of Christ detaches all 
who feel its power from such miserable follies. It makes them 
breathe the air of heaven, and see the light of the glory of 
God. It fills them with divine love, and thereby purifies their 
affections and desires. It changes their habits, clothes them 
with light, and produces a heavenly life and walk ; in a word, 
it transforms them into the image of Jesus their Lord. 

Let us then, dear brethren, seek to receive this divine power 
in our hearts. Let us attentively contemplate this beautiful 
and glorious life, which he has placed before our eyes by rising 
from the grave holy and immortal, and in which is everything 
that can be desired to render us perfectly happy. And having 
seen so beautiful an object, how could we have any affection 
for the trifles of earth ? O unhappy earth, where time and 
death consume all things, none but Christ my Saviour has 
escaped thy vanities ! Thy chains were unable to enslave him. 
He broke thy bonds, and instead of the weak animal life which 
thou didst take from him, he has obtained another, divine and 
incorruptible, which has no need of thy elements, no fear of 
thy changes and alterations. And he has not taken this divine 
life for himself alone. He will communicate it to us also, (for 
we are his,) but according to the method arranged by his wis- 
dom, and of which he has given us an example in himself. 
For he was tempted ; he died before he could revive. And 


herein is he our model. Let us not fear, then, to travel that 
road wherein his footsteps can be traced. Let us be partakers, 
not with patience merely, but with joy, of his sufferings and 
of his death. Let us believe that these sufferings, and this 
death, will add to our glory and happiness, since they render 
us conformable to the Son of God, and conduct us to the en- 
joyment of his immortality. What if the flesh find them dif- 
ficult to bear ; they are sent to mortify it, to disturb its perni- 
cious pleasures, to extinguish its passions, and to humble its 
pride. They also exercise our piety, they awaken and revive 
our faith, they inflame our affections, quicken us in prayer, 
and produce in us a deadness to the world, and more ardent 
desires after heaven. They try our patience, and prove our 
faith in Christ. They confound Satan, and cause angels to re- 
joice. They glorify God, and edify men. And, after all, they will 
soon be over. Jesus was but six hours upon the cross, and 
now reigns for ever in heaven. Let us then cheerfully support 
these light afflictions which quickly pass away, that we may 
attain to the resurrection, the blessed end of all our sorrows 
and trials, and the joyful commencement of our true happi- 
ness ; when our glorious and gracious Lord, who now gives us 
his righteousness, and makes us to know the power of his re- 
surrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, will give us a 
share in his glory, transforming our bodies into the likeness 
of his own, putting a crown upon our heads, clothing us with 
immortality, and granting us an everlasting abode in his 
palace ; allowing us to eat at his table, and to live and reign in 
his court with him and his holy angels for ever and ever. 


VERSES 12 — 14. 

Not as though I had already attained, either were already 'perfect: 
hut I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also 
I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not my- 
self to have apprehended: hut this one thing I do, forgetting 
those thing 3 which are behind, and reaching forth unto those 
things which are hefore, I press toward the mark for the prize 
of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 

In the books written by the ancient Greeks, which have 
been preserved from destruction, we read that one of the most 


esteemed amusements of that nation was the sight of the games 
and combats which were celebrated from time to time with 
great solemnity. Companies of persons were established 
among them, the best qualified to judge of the trials of 
strength made in the circus ; they named the reward proposed 
to the conqueror ; they fixed the day, and appointed the place 
for the combats, to which multitudes came from all parts of 
Greece, who regarded the games with extravagant delight, and 
honoured those who excelled with acclamation and applause. 
The victors were crowned by the hands of the judges in the 
presence of all their countrymen. Their names were engraven 
on plates of brass, and registered by command of the magis- 
trates in the public archives, to mark the time. They were 
conducted back, and received by their fellow citizens, with as 
much pomp as the generals and commanders of armies in their 
triumphs, and they and their descendants enjoyed ample pri- 
vileges, with which the public had honoured them. 

Dear brethren, God invites us to-day to a spectacle much 
more beautiful than those which I have described ; to a com- 
bat, instituted, not by vain men, but by the eternal Father, in 
which is to be seen, not a Greek nourished and exercised in the 
halls and plains of this world, but an apostle trained in a hea- 
venly school ; running a race, not level and smooth, but rough 
and difficult, and strewed with thorns ; not before the eyes of 
a single nation, but in the sight of God, of angels, and of men; 
not for a corruptible crown of leaves and flowers which fade 
in a day, but for a crown of immortal life. Bring hither, then, 
your mind awakened and purified. Consider the strength, the 
valour, the courage, the address, the zeal of this divine cham- 
pion. Be careful to observe all his steps, not just to feed your 
eyes with a vain amusement, which was all the fruit reaped by 
the Greeks at their spectacles ; but rather in order to imitate 
the course of this holy man, to enter the same career, to follow 
him courageously, to place your feet on the traces of his foot- 
steps, and arriving with him at the goal, to receive with him, 
from the hands of the eternal Judge, the glorious reward pro- 
vided for the victor. 

This same Paul, who formerly undertook, and so happily 
completed, this celestial course, represents it to us to-day in 
the text which you have heard. His design is to induce the 
Philippians to embrace Jesus Christ alone, to content them- 
selves with him, and, without lending their ears or hearts to 
any other, to fix and concentrate all their thoughts, affections, 
and desires on this Prince of life, convinced that in possessing 
him they possess everything. To persuade them to this, he 
sets before them his own example, showing them how, re- 
nouncing all other things, he had given himself entirely to 
Christ, despoiling himself of all tbat he possessed in order to 


be found in that sovereign Lord, clothed with his righteousness, 
transformed into his image, dead and raised again with him. 
He, however, adds here that he had not arrived at his desired 
end ; he had not yet comprehended in all its fulness the power 
of this divine resurrection ; so deep, so grand is this study, so 
inexhaustible are the riches of this knowledge. For which 
reason he subjoins that he is always endeavouring to go* for- 
ward, and that, leaving the things that are behind, he reaches 
forth incessantly towards the goal, every day making some 
advance in his heavenward course, in order at length to receive 
the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 

Thus you see how diligently it behoved the Philippian con- 
verts to study the gospel, since their master, the great apostle, 
who was so far beyond them, had not been able, with all his 
zeal and devotion, to exhaust its riches ; and how it also be- 
hoved them to forget, like him, the things that were behind, 
and to press toward the mark, whereby they might attain the 
prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. •*■ 

But this lesson, my brethren, belongs to us, as much or even 
more than to the Philippians, because, if we compare our pro- 
gress with theirs, it will be found that they were more ad- 
vanced than we are in the fear of God, and in the knowledge 
of his gospel. Let us, then, listen attentively, that we may 
practise carefully ; and in order more fully to comprehend our 
subject, we will consider separately, with the blessing of God, 
the two points which here present themselves to us. The first 
is the declaration of the apostle, that he has not yet arrived at 
perfection, contained in these words : " Not that I have already 
attained, either am already perfect. Brethren, I count not 
myself to have apprehended." The second, which regards the 
efforts he was making to arrive at perfection, is expressed in 
the following words : " But I follow after, if that I may appre- 
hend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 
One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and 
reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press 
toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in 
Christ Jesus." 

I. As for the first point, it explains itself, as you must per- 
ceive, in two ways. First, in these words, which relate to the 
verses preceding, " Not as though I had already attained, either 
were already perfect." For having protested above that he 
had renounced all things to be "found in Christ, having the 
righteousness of faith ; that he might know him, and the 
power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, 
and that he might attain unto the resurrection of the dead ;" 
(words which allude as well to the sanctification as to the glory 
which Christ gives to the saints ;) lest any should imagine that 
he already possessed these things in full perfection, he antiei- 


pates tins idea, and declares that he thus spoke, not to signify 
that he had already apprehended, or that he was already per- 
fect, but rather that he was following on to apprehend them 
perfectly. The same truth is then again advanced, though ex- 
pressed in a somewhat different manner; for, addressing more 
especially the Philippians, " Brethren, (says he,) as for me, I 
count not myself to have apprehended." It is clear that in 
both these sentences the apostle meant to assure them that he 
had not yet apprehended, and was not yet perfect. 

Will it be asked what it was which he had not yet appre- 
hended or understoood ? It is true that in the words imme- 
diately preceding he was speaking of the resurrection of the 
dead. But it does not appear that he alludes to that ; for " to 
have apprehended the resurrection of the dead " must signify 
one of two things: either to have received from God that 
blessed resurrection, or to have embraced the hope of it as 
certainly as if it were already possessed. Paul here is evi- 
dently not speaking of either of these subjects. Not of the 
first ; for although it was true that in this sense he had not yet 
apprehended the resurrection, yet there was no occasion to say 
so in this place; because, having said it, why should he say it 
the second time ? It would have been very useless, and utterly 
unworthy of this great apostle, to say to the Philippians, to 
whom he was writing, and who knew that he was living at 
Eome, that he was not yet raised from the dead ; and then to 
protest again, Brethren, as for me, I am not yet raised from the 
dead. For who could suppose that he was ? Who could ima- 
gine it for a moment ? 

Neither was he likely to say that he had not yet apprehended 
the resurrection by faith, that is, that he was not assured of it; 
for how could he say that, who declares in another place, " God 
has raised us up together with Christ, and has made us to sit 
together in the heavenly places ?" Eph. ii. 6 ; speaking of the 
resurrection as of a thing so certain that it is (as it were) al- 
ready accomplished; and so assured was he of the fact, that he 
says in 2 Tim. i. 12, " I know in whom I have believed, and 
am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have com- 
mitted unto him against that day." 

No, brethren, the apostle's words in this place relate to quite 
another thing than to this last effect of the grace of God to- 
wards us; they relate not to glory and immortality, but to 
that knowledge of Christ, of the power of his resurrection, and 
of the fellowship of his sufferings, of which he had been speak- 
ing- It is this which he tells us he had not yet apprehended 
or understood ; and by reason of this, he adds, that he has not 
yet been rendered perfect. For the first of these words* is of- 

* EXapov. 


ten used in the Greek language to signify a perfect apprehension, 
in which nothing more is wanted, and would express a thing so 
thoroughly well known and understood, that there remained 
nothing more to be known. This it is the apostle intends by 
saying that he has not yet entirely " apprehended" (the power 
of Christ's resurrection, the fellowship of his sufferings, and 
the knowledge of himself) ; that is to say, he had not yet re- 
ceived all the blessed effects of the power of the death and re- 
surrection of Christ, in such a manner and degree that he did 
not fail in any point, and that he could make no more progress 
in the divine life. Indeed it is very evident that he speaks 
not here of a simple and naked knowledge, but of an experi- 
mental acquaintance with Christ, as we have before explained. 
And for this reason he adds that " he has not yet been made 
perfect." For this term, which, according to the different sub- 
jects for which it is used, signifies different degrees of perfec- 
tion, may here be taken for the last and highest, when believ- 
ers fail in no point or degree of sanctification which the power 
of Christ crucified and raised again ought to produce in them ; 
precisely in the same manner as the apostle is to be understood 
in his Epistle to the Hebrews, when he speaks of " the spirits 
of just men made perfect," Heb. xii. 28, (for in this passage he 
makes use of the same word). It is this state of holiness, as 
perfect as that of the saints in heaven, to which he alludes, 
when he says he "has not yet been made perfect," signifying 
that he had not come to that ; that however advanced he 
might be in some respects, yet in others he still failed, and had 
not therefore yet attained to this last and highest point. And 
because believers who saw in him such an admirable zeal, and 
a life so ardently devoted to the service of Christ, might find 
this his humility strange, and might be astonished at his class- 
ing himself with those disciples who were still learning, and 
endeavouring after perfection, instead of with those who had 
arrived at that point, he repeats his words, " Brethren, I count 
not myself to have apprehended ;" as though he had said, 
Your charity perhaps judges otherwise, but as I know myself 
better than any other person can know me, and as I have some 
idea of the holiness to which the power of Christ's resurrec- 
tion and fellowship with his sufferings conducts, I cannot con- 
sider that I have yet arrived at this high point of perfection. 

There are those who suppose that the apostle alludes to 
some among the Philippians who boasted of being perfect, (and 
you know that they who desire to be justified by their own 
works often attribute to themselves perfection,) and that it was 
to humble their pride that he says, " Brethren, as for me, I 
count not myself to have apprehended;" as if he would say, 
Though there are some among you who imagine they have at- 
tained the highest degree of perfection, yet, for my part, I have 


not that opinion of myself; I confess freely, that I have not 
yet perfectly apprehended the sanctifying power of my Lord, 
and that I am still in the number of those who learn and ad- 
vance in this study. In the same manner, a master, who saw 
some of his scholars puffed up with a foolish opinion of their 
knowledge, imagining they had nothing more to learn, might 
say to them to humble their vanity, My children, for my part, 
I do not consider that I know all things ; I learn something 
every day : the science we have embraced is so deep that I dis- 
cover daily some new wonder wherewith to enrich my mind. 

But whatever design the apostle may have had in this dis- 
course, thus much is evident, that he confesses he is not already 
perfect, and he repeats this twice, that we may remark it as a 
matter of some importance. And in fact it is a secret of great 
use in religion ; for the opinion of our own perfection is a very 
dangerous error, and has two most pernicious consequences : 
the one renders us guilty of pride, the disposition of mind 
most at variance with salvation, God giving grace to the hum- 
ble; the other relaxes the nerves of devotion, for he who sup- 
poses himself to have attained the highest degree of sanctifica- 
tion will not labour to advance further, but will be contented 
to remain where he is. Now what remedy can there be more 
efficacious in curing men of this baneful distemper, than the. 
truth which the apostle here teaches and repeats twice, namely, 
that he himself was not yet made perfect? 

If to the advocates of presumption we speak of Noah and Job ; 
if we bring forward David's prayer, "Enter not into judgment 
with me, Lord," they have the boldness to answer that these 
personages lived under the old covenant, whereas they are liv- 
ing under the new. But truly this pretext is vain. For we 
shall be judged in the same manner as believers in former days : 
there is one and the same tribunal for them and for us, before 
which we must all appear, and be there judged by the same 
law; as is evident from Paul's arguments respecting our justi- 
fication and theirs ; so that if David cannot plead the merit of 
his works, which are confessed to have been imperfect, neither 
can we allege the merit of ours. But although this answer of 
the advocates of merit is absurd, yet there are too many who 
avail themselves of it. As for Paul, however, he cannot be re- 
proached with like presumption. His example deprives them 
of pretext or excuse. For if there ever had been any man in 
the world who could pretend to perfection, it would be, with- 
out doubt, this great apostle, who had been instructed by Je- 
sus himself when living and reigning in heaven ; who had been 
snatched up into paradise, and had heard and seen there the 
unutterable things of the heavenly kingdom, and brought back 
with him to earth a lively and perfect faith ; who, conducted 
and animated by this divine light, had renounced all that the 


world calls delightful, in order to devote himself entirely to 
Christ, whose cross he carried and planted in all parts of the 
world, spending his life so religiously in this holy exercise, 
that there never was and never will be any minister, bishop, or 
even apostle, who can compare with him. And yet, after all 
these great combats, these glorious victories, these admirable 
triumphs, hear him saying with deep and heartfelt humility, 
"Not that I have already apprehended, either am already per- 
fect: no, brethren, for my part, I count not myself to have ap- 
prehended." Who is there, after this, sufficiently bold to 
speak of his supposed perfection ? Where is he who dares at- 
tribute to himself that which Paul confesses he had not? Nay, 
none should be ashamed to acknowledge with him, that in 
some things he still fails. The force of this example has, how- 
ever, been in some degree felt, and they who would exalt 
themselves above David have been ashamed to do the same by 
Paul, judging well, that if they did, no one would be able to 
endure their arrogance. What then do they ? Why, to render 
their presumption less odious, they make Paul guilty of it, and 
pretend that he did attain in this life to that perfection of 
righteousness, in all points, in which they make their boast. 
Paul says he has not yet ; they maintain that he has. Paul 
cries, " Brethren, for my part, I count not myself to have ap- 
prehended;" these men assert that he has apprehended. Now 
which shall we believe, them or Paul ? 

But the height of their injustice is, that to make their own 
cause good, they distort his words, and would fain make us 
believe he has not said what he has said ; interpreting this 
passage in a way unheard of in the church of God, or the 
schools of real christians. They say that the apostle is speak- 
ing of the continuance of his race or combat, which was not 
yet finished; and that he does not intend to say that his sanc- 
tification was not complete in itself, or that he was not alto- 
gether perfect, but merely that he had not persevered as long 
as was needful for him, and that his holiness had not lasted a 
sufficient time. But this explanation cannot be right, either 
as it regards the thing itself, or the words of the text. For, 
with respect to the first, Paul had no occasion to say more 
than that he should continue some time yet upon the earth to 
preach the gospel; and that the course of his life and minis- 
try was not yet likely to be finished ; in the same manner 
that, being on the point of finishing his ministry, he warned 
Timothy of it, saying, that he was ready to be offered, and 
that the time of his departure was at hand ; that he had fought 
the fight, had finished his course, and had kept the faith, 2 
Tim. iv. 6, 7. But he certainly is not speaking thus in this 
place. For why should Paul say again to the Philippians 
what he had already said in the first and second chapters? "I 


know (said he) that I shall abide and continue with you all, 
for your furtherance and joy of faith." And again, " I trust 
in the Lord that I shall shortly come to you." After this, 
what could be more unlikely than that he should repeat that 
the course of his life and ministry was not yet ended, and not 
satisfied with that, should add also, "Brethren, for my part, I 
do not consider myself arrived at this point ?" Besides, what 
connection could there be between this idea and the preceding 
verses, " I have suffered the loss of all things, that I may be 
found in Christ; that I may know him, and the power of his 
resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings ?" To what 
purpose could he add, " No, I am not near my death, my race 
is not yet run ?" As if they who truly embraced the Saviour 
expected to die immediately after, or as if some of the Philip- 
pians held that opinion. But the apostle's words will not al- 
low of this interpretation. For the word "apprehend" cannot 
be thus translated. Now what is it which the apostle says 
" he has not yet apprehended ?" Is it the knowledge of the 
death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Certainly it is. But 
who has ever heard that to apprehend these things was to have 
ended the occupation of preaching, and to have finished his 
course and his ministry ? No, these expressions can only sig- 
nify what we have already said, to have felt and experienced 
in perfection the sanctifying power of Jesus, dead and raised 
again for us. Could it be the prize of his high calling, name- 
ly, the resurrection from the dead, which the apostle says he 
has not yet apprehended ? Is it possible that anything could 
be less to the point than that? that Paul, living at Kome, and 
writing from his prison in that city to the Philippians, should 
declare to them that he had not yet received his crown, that is 
to say, was not yet raised again from the dead ? Beautiful 
idea, well worthy of so grave, so solemn a pen as that of our 
apostle ! But the other word employed in the text, " to be 
made perfect," is not less incompatible with this interpretation. 
It is true that " to be made perfect," sometimes signifies to be 
rendered so by death; as when our Lord said, "Behold, I cast 
out devils, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third 
day I shall be perfected," that is, my work will be completed, 
Luke xiii. 32. But it is evident the apostle does not speak in 
this sense. For to what purpose could he inform the Philip- 
pians that he had not yet been put to death? Besides, " to be 
made perfect " signifies always the degrees of perfection, and 
not its duration or extent ; for if it were otherwise, one might 
say of the angels that they are not ijet perfect, and of the saints 
after the last resurrection that they are not yet perfect, because 
their perfection has not completed its duration : and, in a 
word, one might then say that neither the blessed, nor the an- 
gels, nor our Lord Jesus Christ himself, would ever be made 


perfect, because their holiness will continue eternally without 
end or diminution; and this would be, as must be plain to 
every one, extravagant language, not to say blasphemous and 
scandalous. If, however, the sanctification of the apostle had 
been at the highest point of perfection, as is that of the angels 
and glorified saints, he would not have said in this Epistle 
that he was not yet perfect. Nevertheless he does say so. We 
must, therefore, of necessity, confess that his sanctification was 
not yet arrived at the point to which some suppose it had. 
And this is in fact the way in which all christians understand the 
passage, and the generality, as Jerome * tells us, draw from it 
the doctrine which may most clearly be deduced, *". e., that no 
believer is ever so entirely sanctified in this life, as that he 
does not fail daily in some point. And I do not think that 
the interpretation which we have refuted, or the error which 
gave rise to it, namely, that believers can attain here below to 
the highest perfection of holiness and inherent rig