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distinguished the faithful at Philippi, and for the increase of which the Apostle, in the words before us, so fervently implores. It is the great attribute of the renewed man: "He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him."*
But secondly; the Apostle desires that this love to God might be enlightened and discriminating in its character. "This I pray," says he, "that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.” ." The words here rendered "knowledge" and "judgment," are very nearly the same in signification; and imply that sound and discerning mind, which turns the affections to their proper object. Such is the quality, by which St. Paul asks that these Philippians may be distinguished; and, my brethren, if there be one feature that separates the real Christian's love for God, from the vague and indefinite feeling of so many professed believers, it is that clear perception here described by the Apostle. If you go to numbers of God's nominal servants around you, and inquire of them whether that blessed Being is the object of their affection, they will instantly reply in the affirmative. But what is the nature of this pretended attachment? It is altogether blind, and confused, and imperfect. It is founded upon no experimental acquaintance with the character of God, and with his claims upon their devotion and gratitude." It sees nothing of his mercy, in the providential dealings of his band; it has never tasted the comforts of his redeeming love; and, in consequence, amidst the firmest and most confident protestations of affection, the principle is utterly wanting. From this merely general feeling, let us turn to that of the renewed servant of God. This man, the subject of Christ's
* I. John, iv. 16.
illuminating Spirit, knows in whom he has believed; and, because he thus knows him, loves him with a real affection -an attachment built upon solid grounds-a homage elicited by the inward and pervading consciousness of multiplied obligations. Such is the converted Christian's love to God; and the same discriminating character marks his love to man. His liberality abounds, but it is "in knowledge and in all judgment." He wisely selects the objects of his charity; he perceives in what cases to give, and in what to withhold; amidst all the promptings of his compassion, he keeps "sound wisdom and discretion."*
Let us pass on to a third characteristic mark of the Christian, as here set forth by the Apostle; his decided preference of the unsearchable riches of the gospel, to the dross of an unsatisfying world. "That ye may approve," or, choose, "things that are excellent," are the words in which he continues his prayer, for these primitive converts at Philippi. Such are the superior objects on which the pilgrim to heaven fastens his heart; and let us, for an instant, follow him through one or two of the instances, in which he exemplifies this wise and elevated choice. The world offers him its pleasures: but he sees their leanness and their brevity; and, looking beyond this fleeting condition, lays hold upon that favor of God which is "life," and that loving-kindness which is "better than life." It tenders him its honor. He rejects the gift; he loves the praise of God, better than the praise of men; and, with true sublimity, aspires to that crown of life, which remains for those who "have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb "t It holds out to him
the lure of its gains. Here, too, his enlightened vision leads him to despise an earthly, and to seek after a heavenly portion. An interest in the Lord Jesus Christ by faith, is the only treasure that he desires; to this, therefore, he cleaves, as to that which rust cannot corrupt, and which thieves cannot steal. This, brethren, is the true Christian's choice: if any of you, therefore, amidst your professions of being the Lord's servants, are ensnared with the frivolities of the world, or carried away with its ambition, or influenced with the inordinate love of its riches, you are none of his. You do not in reality approve things that are excellent;" you are earthly; you are of those whom the Apostle describes, "They that are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh."*
In the next and fourth topic of his petition, St. Paul describes another conspicuous quality in the children of God: their earnest desire and study that, by their example, the gospel of Christ be not blasphemed." That ye may be sincere, or, in other words, free from stain and reproach, “and without offence till the day of Christ." The word rendered "without offence," refers to one who is careful not to be an occasion, through any faults or inconsistencies in his own conduct, of stumbling and ruin to others. The very same expression is used by the Apostle, in his First Epistle to the Corinthians; where he says, "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God.”† There is perhaps nothing, my brethren, by which the real follower of Jesus is more distinctly marked, than by this tender, conscientious, trembling apprehension, lest he should prove an injury
to the cause of that sacred Master, under whose banners he has once enlisted. He feels, as he travels on the pilgrimage of life, the deep sense of his station and responsibilities; and is too much concerned for the honor of divine grace, and the character of Christ's holy religion, not to be under an hourly dread of the very thought, that, through his instrumentality, this religion should be "wounded in the house of its friends." In conformity with this holy principle, he marches onward through this region of temptations: he remembers that he is observed: and, anxious to strengthen in the wicked, in the wavering, and in the believer, the conviction that the gospel is true, he turns neither to the right hand nor to the left; he comes out from the follies and dissipation of the world; and seeks to shew himself as one who is crucified to life, and has set his affection on eternal realities. This is his course; and it produces its measure of good results in regard to others. They confess that, in him, profession and conduct are in harmony; and if they are not won by the spectacle, he, at any rate, can exclaim, "I am pure from the blood of all men."
The Apostle concludes this summary of Christian attainments with the petition, that the Philippian converts may abound in deeds of holiness. "Being filled" says he, "with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God." In other words; He that is influenced by the grace of the Redeemer, will display that grace by every good and excellent work; be this, therefore, your humble aim; and, by fervent charity, and an active and practical benevolence, and a steady conformity to the image of your divine Master, evince the reality of your spiritual change. -St. Paul, then, in the language before us, clearly maintains
the position, that the real Christian is, in all instances, a pattern of love unfeigned, and of universal holiness of life: but the principal consideration to which I would lead your minds, is the origin to which these blessed fruits are here traced by the pen of inspiration. Mark the expressions of the Apostle. They are "by Jesus Christ;" or, in other words, they are the offspring of his sanctifying Spirit, and of that alone and they are "unto the glory and praise of God:" that is, they all tend to shew the power of that almighty Agent, who has descended into the barren desert of the heart, and made it to blossom like the rose. This important truth, therefore, let me, in conclusion, leave with the reflections of every professing Christian within this sanctuary to-day. Does your character, my brethren, correspond with the Apostle's impressive portrait, in the verses which have been this morning considered? Are you filled with love to God, and benevolence to men? Is this love founded upon the sure basis of a discriminating and sound knowledge? Do you deliberately prefer the narrow way that leadeth unto life, to the broad road of destruction? Are you diligent to maintain, in all your career, a regular and consistent example? Is the light of your works shining, with a steady lustre, before the eyes of men? Are these things so? If not, your profession is vain: but if such be the true representation of your doings, all is of God; he is the great, first Cause of your excellent doings; "by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."