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perceive, a lively testimony, such as all the true servants of the Lord Jesus delight to render, to that divine strength which is made perfect in the sinner's weakness: and, considered in this view, they are similar to that declaration of the same Apostle, in one of his epistles to Timothy, "For I know whom I have believed; and I am persuaded, that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."
Having thus explained the meaning of the Apostle's declaration, I cannot bring to a better conclusion the present Lecture, than by fixing your minds upon the important truth here stated that it is the free, unmerited, and exclusive grace of God, which begins the renewed life of the Christian, carries it onward in its progress, and finally conducts it to "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." My beloved brethren, it is to the last degree needful, that, in order to be kept in a state of humble gratitude, and self-renouncing dependence upon the strength of Jesus, you should have constantly in remembrance this salutary doctrine: for it is the tendency of the human mind to be continually losing the impression, and to turn inward for support and confidence upon its own beggarly, resources. Are there any, then, within these courts of the Lord this morning, who, through mercy, have been led from the world and its courses into the paths of peace and happiness? Acknowledge the power that has brought you hither; confess, with the full and entire feeling of the Apostle, "By the grace of God I am what I am;"† and turn upward to the same heavenly fountain, and to this alone, for strength in days to come. Is there here present the solicitous inquirer after the way of life; one who is walking in darkness, and * II. Tim. i. 12.
† I. Cor. xv. 10.
can see no light; and who, disappointed in his own impotent endeavors, is ready to faint under the struggle? My dear hearer, learn, first of all, the lesson here taught in God's holy word. Cease from all expectation in yourselves: look above, and there only and with bended knees, and supplicating voice, put forth the cry, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me !" Such is the wholesome inference to be drawn from these words of inspiration. May the Lord give us all the grace to apply it; and drive us to the footstool of Jesus with the Apostle's exclamation, "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life."
CHAPTER I. 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 judgment; 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.
THE Apostle, having expressed to the Philippian believers, as you have already seen, his thankfulness for their spiritual attainments; and the joy with which he thought of them, and offered up his petitions on their behalf at the throne of grace; proceeds, in the portion now to be considered, to state his reason for this estimate of their character: to renew his professions of regard: and, in addition to all this, to convey to them the assurance of his prayers for their growth "in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Let us follow the inspired writer through the interesting and instructive verses, which are here presented for our consideration.
After having declared to the Philippians, in such unreserved and fervent language, his sense of the genuineness of their Christian profession, St. Paul adds very naturally, in the seventh verse, a brief view of the evidence they had afforded of their sincerity. He thus expresses himself. "Even as it is meet," or reasonable, "for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace." He intends, in these words, to say, that those to whom he was writing stood deservedly high in his esteem, because they had endeared themselves to his affections by one irresistible proof of their Christian love; namely, that, during all his trials for the gospel's sake, his imprisonment, his labors for the establishment of divine truth in the hearts of men, they had ever manifested a sympathetic interest in the difficulties of his ministerial course. This meaning of the language before us will be more clearly perceived, by attending, for a moment, to some of the terms used by the Apostle. He here speaks, you perceive, of his "bonds;" referring evidently to the confinement he was then enduring in the capital of the Roman empire. In addition to this affliction, he mentions his obstacles and hardships "in the defence and confirmation of the gospel;" alluding to his public preaching of the doctrines of the cross, in the face of cavilling philosophers, and persecuting men in power. In respect to these two kinds of suffering, the maintenance of Christ's truth amidst enemies, and the loss of personal liberty, he declares that the members of the Philippian church were "all partakers of his grace." The word 66 grace " is used, in several places, by St. Paul, in the sense of his office as a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ.
the Epistle to the Romans, he observes, "Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God, that I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles."* So, likewise, in the Epistle to the Ephesians, "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." When he declares, therefore, that of this his calling as an ambassador of heaven the Philippians were "partakers," he obviously means, that, by their anxiety respecting him when deprived of freedom, and their sympathy with his feelings while in the discharge of his arduous duties, they were actually sharers, in common with himself, of the numerous trials and discouragements of his ministerial office.
It appears, then, that when the Apostle, in the verses to which your attention was invited in the last Lecture, exulted in the Christian graces of these fellow-disciples, it was not without reasonable grounds. Through the various griefs to which he had been exposed, their hearts had always been with him; they had given him their daily prayers; in all his afflictions for the conversion of souls, they had been equally afflicted. Such was the spirit that distinguished these primitive converts; and it seems proper here to pause, and hold up to your contemplation this delightful example of the Christian's sympathy, with the trials of God's ministering servants. There cannot be imagined a more lovely feature of the believer's renewed character, than that affectionate interest with which he enters into the conflicts and labors of the appointed
* Eph. iii. 8.
*Rom. xv. 15. 16.