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in the right, and that all else are in error. The admonition before us is somewhat similar to another, contained in the tenth verse of the preceding Chapter; where St. Paul counsels the believer so to conduct himself, that he may be "without offence, till the day of Christ." Bear this precept in mind, ye that, in the Saviour's language, "are the light of the world." Be not Christians in name, and yet, by your evil tempers, by your selfishness, or by your frivolity, shewing that you are destitute of any inward grace, to distinguish you from others and "let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."*
The other inducement placed by St. Paul, before the eye of the Philippian believers, is that of the joy, which, by their walk of holiness, they would give him at the last and solemn judgment. "That I may rejoice," he exclaims, "in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain." How beautiful is the idea here presented to your contemplation! He bids them carry their views forward to the hour, when all kindreds, and tongues, and people, shall be arrayed before the tribunal of the Redeemer: and asks them whether they feel no affectionate wishes, that, when that period shall have come, he who had toiled, and striven, and prayed for their salvation; who had been instant in season, and out of season; and whose life had been consecrated to the daily work of bringing sinners into the way of peace; may look with a smile upon them, as the seals of his ministry, and the evidence that he had not wasted his strength for a shadow.I know not how the Apostle could have selected a more affect* Matt. v. 16.
ing consideration, by which to awaken the believing heart to diligence, in the grand business of preparation for eternity. It is the office of the minister of Christ to preach the gospel of the kingdom, to a hard and impenitent world. He pipes to those that will not dance, and mourns to them that will not lament; and his cry, at every day's recurrence, is that of the prophet of old, "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed ?"* Now, in the midst of these saddening discouragements, there is one thought which pours light into the drooping heart of the herald of salvation. Notwithstanding the coldness of some, the impenitence of others, and the worldly conversation of too many among the Saviour's professed disciples, he does discern one small, but faithful band; and, as he marks their separation from the world, and the noble consistency of their lives, he exults as he anticipates the day, when, pointing to these tokens of his success, he shall lift up his voice, and exclaim, "Behold, I, and the children which God hath given me!" And is there nothing, my beloved brethren, in such a consideration, which speaks in impressive language unto you? Shall it not be yours, through the grace of the Lord Jesus, so to fashion your deportment by the standard of the gospel, and so to endeavor both to live and die, that you may, in your own persons, add to the number of those, who shall thus awaken a thrill of rapture within the bosom of him that has labored for your good? Is it not an impulse to your diligence, to reflect that the prayers of the ministering servant of God shall thus be crowned with accomplishment; that his anxieties shall be repaid with joy; and that with unspeakable
* Isaiah, liii. 1.
gratitude he shall realize the fact, that they for whom he toiled in time, are to share with him in the glories of eternity? Keep this thought ever present before your vision; and through your instrumentality, in part, the promise of Scripture shall be realized to the messenger of truth; "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall, doubtless, come again with joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”*
Psalm cxxvi. 6.
CHAPTER II. 17-23.
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 me. 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 likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which 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.
THESE words of the Apostle are characterized by the same spirit, that so eminently distinguishes him through the whole of this beautiful letter; a longing for the holiness, and final salvation, of those to whom his admonitions and encouragements were addressed. While proceeding with him through the successive topics upon which he dwells, we are at no loss to discover what feeling it is, that is ever uppermost in his thoughts ; but perceive plainly, that it is with him a matter of small moment whether prosperity or suffering, life or death, is to be his
own allotment, provided that they for whom he has labored are in the way of truth and of safety. Let us follow him through the several illustrations which he affords, of this absorbing zeal for his Master's kingdom, in the portion selected for your present consideration.
Having, as we have seen, spoken, in the sixteenth verse, of the transport with which, at the last great consummation, he should be filled by the presence of those faithful believers, who had "endured to the end,"* the Apostle proceeds to signify still further his anxiety for the spiritual progress of the Philippians. The manner in which he expresses his regard for this one, great object, is singularly sublime and striking. "Yea," he exclaims, "and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all." St. Paul intends, in the language here used, to declare, that, provided he could discern in their conduct the marks of a renewed and sanctified condition, there would be nothing appalling to him even in the prospect of immediate martyrdom; but that, under the comforts of such a spectacle, he should be enabled with cheerfulness to mount the scaffold, or to bend his neck beneath the sword. Such is the noble feeling of the Apostle: let us examine a little more closely the phraseology in which he has expressed it.
The words rendered "if I be offered," signify properly, "if I be poured out as a libation ;" and he hereby compares his own death, in the cause of Christ's gospel, to those drink-offerings under the Levitical dispensation, which were always added to the sacrifice. The same allusion is adopted in the Second Epistle to Timothy; where St. Paul, speaking of his approach
* Matt. xxiv. 13.