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Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery

to be equal with God.

IN N the course of his laborious ministry the great apostle of the Gentiles had founded a church at Philippi, a city of Macedonia, Acts xvi. 12. That city had its name from Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great: and was famous for the battles which were fought in its neighbouring fields, between Augustus and Mark Anthony, on the one side, and Brutus and Cassius on the other. But memorable as it was on that account, it was much more honoured in being the seat of a Christian church. About ten years after that church had been erected, viz. about the year sixty, or as some say, sixty-three, the apostle directed this epistle to it. He who had been a miracle of mercy, and an herald of grace, was now a prisoner at Rome, as we learn from the epistle itself, chap. i. 13-16. and iv. 22. But though he was an ambassador in bonds, the word of God was not bound. He gives the Philippians to understand that the things, which in the depths of adorable Providence, had befallen him, had turned out rather to the furtherance of the gospel: so that his bonds for the sake of Christ were manifest in all the court of Cæsar. And many of the brethren in the Lord waxing confident by his bonds, were much more bold to speak the word without fear. Such suc. cess had attended the preaching of a crucified Christ, that now there were saints even in Cæsar's household; thelast place wheremen would have thoughtto find them. These things were matter of holy triumph to Paul the prisoner. And doubtless, he and Timothy, who now was with him, chap. i. 1. and ii. 19. often sang praises in the hired house at Rome, Acts xxviii. 16, 30. as he and Silas had done in the prison of Philippi, Acts xvi. 25. Being solicitous to water the gardens he had planted, he now wrote this epistle to the saints who were at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: viz. those whom the Holy Ghost had made overseers over the flock, Acts xx. 28. and they to whom the care of the poor was committed, Acts vi. 3—6. and xxi. 8. It is a kind of twin epistle with that to the Ephesians, being both wrote from one place, and about one and the same time. And as was said of the orations of Demosthenes, that they smelled of the oil; so may we of these epistles, that they smell of the prison. Never does Christ appear more amiable to the saints than when they suffer for him. And never do they enjoy richer communications of his grace, than when in the furnace of affliction. Hence, says our apostle, as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounded by Christ, 2 Cor. i. 5. Jacob at Bethel, Moses at Horeb, Elijah in the wilderness, Ezekiel at the river Chebar, the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace, and John on Patmos isle, could all attest the truth of this. Our apostle was now in bonds; but they could not hinder his access to his Master's seat. Never had he greater intimacies of fellowship with him than now. Never had he lower thoughts of himself, or more lofty of the Saviour. Never did he strike the strings of grace with a more skilful hand.

He had now been five and twenty years in the

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