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being thus reproached for the sake of Christ, it would be quite sufficient to say, that this dispensation is one of the most salutary exercises of the Christian's faith and graces; and that, though not for the present joyous, but grievous, nevertheless, afterward, through the divine blessing, it worketh the peaceable fruit of righteousness. But St. Peter has pointed us to a still more delightful representation of the beauty of the believer's sufferings. He tells you, that you are thereby treading in the steps of that Master, who, for your sakes, endured the cross, and despised the shame; and, in the language of congratulation, exclaims, "Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings."* Such, then, undoubtedly, was the ground, upon which St. Paul declared to the converts of Philippi, that to be ridiculed, and scorned, and misrepresented, was the great happiness of the redeemed servants of God; and that, accordingly, it was the road on which they were most generally called to travel, while proceeding through these lower scenes to their incorruptible inheritance. Is it the experience, therefore, of any of you, my beloved hearers, that to take up the cross, and to follow Christ, and to be separate from a vain and wicked world, is to be the object of raillery from open enemies, and from inconsistent Christians? Comfort yourselves with the reflection, that in all this there is nothing strange, nor new; go back over the past generations of mankind; and see, that, because it is a glory to partake of the Redeemer's sufferings, prophets, and apostles, and martyrs, were your predecessors on this same thorny path of hatred and of opposition. Let this remembrance accompany you in all your intercourse with those, who are yet in the blindness of the carnal mind. I. Pet. iv. 13.
It will animate your spirit; it will arm you with constancy, and fortitude, and holy elevation above human opinion; and your deportment will resemble that of the primitive apostles, of whom it is said, "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name."*
* Acts, v. 41.
CHAPTER II. 1-4.
If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 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.
THE Apostle, through the greater portion of that Chapter upon which we are now entering, continues the series of practical admonitions recently commenced; and, by the affectionate and solicitous manner in which he delivers these precepts, illustrates one of the distinguishing features of his Christian character. If there be any thing by which the great author who penned this Epistle is peculiarly marked, it is a perpetual anxiety for the spiritual walk of those who were Christ's servants, and candidates for a world of glory. This desire within his mind proceeded from various and powerful motives. Surrounded as were believers by enemies and gainsayers, he was
eager that they should do honor to the grace of Christ by a consistent conversation; and evince to men, that the religion by whose influences they professed to be governed was a living reality. Made acquainted himself, through the teaching of the Holy Ghost, with that immense weight of obligation under which Christians are laid, by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, he longed to see the people of God testifying their inward sense of this debt of gratitude; shewing forth their thankfulness by a course of holy living; and, in their tempers, dispositions, and affections, glorifying Him who had "bought" them "with a price," through all the periods of their journey. And when we consider, further, the Apostle's habitual contemplation of that world of purity, into which "there "shall in no wise enter any thing that defileth,"* it is not surprising that he should be ever laboring, both in regard to himself and to others, after higher measures of resemblance to its blessed and holy inhabitants. Under the influence of these united considerations, he pursues, in the words now to be considered, his course of fervent and solemn exhortation.
The precepts here addressed by St. Paul to his friends at Philippi, are introduced, you perceive, by an affecting appeal to several motives, calculated to win their attention. These are contained in the opening verse of the Chapter; and are successively urged with great tenderness of expression. The Apostle entreats them, first of all, by that alleviation of his sorrows and sufferings which he had a right to expect from them, as brethren in the faith of one common Lord. "If there be therefore," he exclaims, "any consolation in Christ:" as if he had said-May I reasonably look for a compassionate
*Rev. xxi. 27.
desire to sooth my afflictions, from those who are joined with → me in the bonds of the same divine Master? By this sacred duty, then, comply with the admonitions which I now transmit to you; and, while lying in tedious captivity, let me be cheered with the tidings that you are "perfecting holiness in the fear of God."* He next calls upon them by that affectionate regard for his person, upon which he might properly rest with confidence. "If any comfort of love:" meaning thereby to say, that their attachment to him, and the joy which that attachment, thus shown by their compliance, would convey to his own bosom, ought to be a sufficient inducement to lead them into obedience to his wishes. The third argument which he advances, is grounded upon the unity of sentiment and purpose existing between these fellow-Christians and himself, by their common enrolment within the church of the Redeemer. "If any fellowship of the Spirit,” says St. Paul: and he refers, in this expression, not to the participation, by believers, of the blessings and graces of the Holy Ghost, but to that agreement in mind and wishes which he describes in the Epistle to the Ephesians, when he says, "There is one body, and one spirit." The words under consideration might, therefore, properly be rendered, "if any communion in spirit :" intimating, that the Apostle considered it the duty of the Philippian converts, as professing to be governed by the same great views and objects with himself, to lend a willing ear to his parental admonitions. The imprisoned servant of the Lord appeals, last of all, to their feelings of compassion for his present wretched condition. "If any
+ Eph. iv. 4.
* II. Cor. vii. 1.