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is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." When the Apostle refers, in these words, to the losses which he had incurred for the religion of his blessed Master, he means to say, not only that he had given up those pursuits and pleasures in which he indulged in his unregenerate days; but that he had been compelled to endure the severest privations, which a human being can suffer. When the persecuting Saul became transformed, through the efficacy of divine grace, into the ardent and devoted Apostle, what was the immediate consequence? He lost his hopes of farther temporal aggrandizement: for those Jewish ceremonies which he had before maintained with ferocious violence, he now exposed as nugatory and abolished. He lost the pleasant intercourse of his early friends: for those who had once travelled with him on the same road of bigotry and blinded zeal, now forsook him; raved against him with envenomed malignity; and made it their dearest object of desire to recompense his desertion with death. But more than all this he had sacrificed, for "the kingdom of God and his righteousness." He had resigned even the charms of personal liberty. Who does not love to walk forth in freedom, and to inhale the air at pleasure, and to see the cheering sun? Yet the Apostle could not now congratulate himself even upon this; and the very Epistle on which we are at present employed, was penned within the confines of a prison. Amidst these combined bereavements, see the spirit of his mind. He can contentedly endure all: nay more, he can look upon the delights from which he has been separated as beneath a wish; and consi
* Matt. vi. 33.
ders them as "the filth of the world, and the off-scouring of
all things !"
My brethren, if there be any among you this day, who are as yet hesitating, from worldly motives, upon the threshold of a Christian profession, come hither, and take a lesson from the great Apostle of the Gentiles. With what impressiveness and sublimity does he speak to you, from the scene of his captivity and sufferings; and call upon you to part at once with every thing that life offers, if standing in competition with that precious salvation, which the cross of Christ has purchased! Is there one individual, then, before me, who is deterred from a cordial acceptance of Jesus, by the dread of being abandoned, ridiculed, and despised, by the companions of his childhood and youth? Look at St. Paul; tread in his steps; mark the determination with which he bore in mind his Master's admonition, "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me."* Is there one person here, who cannot resolve to be Christ's, because he may thereby be subjected to some sacrifice of worldly pleasures? Turn to the Apostle; and see the unconquerable steadiness of his purpose to "deny himself, and take up his cross,"t and march through "tribulation"‡ to the Kingdom. This wonderful man holds forth to you, in the language before us, and in the whole history of his converted life, the pattern of a Christian's comparative estimate of this present world, and of the eternal privileges of the Saviour's religion. From him, then, learn your duty; and He whom St. Paul served, and whom every believer follows, has himself announced to you the recom
* Matt. x. 37.
+ Matt. xvi. 24.
+ Acts, xiv. 22.
pense; "Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting."*
* Luke, xviii. 29. 30.
CHAPTER III. 10-14.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in
THE Apostle continues, in these words, the train of thought which he had been pursuing in the three preceding verses. At the view of that glorious salvation procured by the Lord Jesus Christ for sinners, and of his own personal interest in its blessings, he had declared, as you have seen, the world to be divested of its attractions; its pleasures to be vain ; the sacrifice of its friendships to be but a trifling surrender, when exchanged for the favor of God, and the future glories of his kingdom. This exalted estimate of the riches of Christ, as being the
one thing needful, he now expresses still further to his brethren of Philippi, and with equal vehemence of feeling. While we proceed in the consideration of his interesting language, let us seek, my dear brethren, to be filled with the spirit that breathes through it; and, in prospect of that solemn ordinance in which we expect this morning to participate,* pray inwardly that we may know nothing among men, "save Jesus Christ, and him crucified."
The verse with which the portion before us begins, requires, in order to form a complete sense, to be closely connected with those which precede it. In like manner as he had reckoned every thing as worthless, in comparison with the great object of being pardoned through the merits of his Redeemer, so does he look down upon the world, he here tells us, in view of all the other privileges of the precious gospel of Christ. "That I may know him,” says he; that is, become experimentally acquainted with the Saviour, as my Deliverer from the guilt and power of sin. This is one of the grand marks at which he aims: another he thus expresses; "and the power of his resurrection." St. Paul, by the "power" of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, understands that efficacy which it possesses in regard to believers; and in virtue of which they, likewise, shall one day be clothed with renewed and incorruptible bodies, and dwell for ever with the Lord. The propriety of the expression will readily appear, when it is considered, that, it is only from the circumstance of our Redeemer having risen from the tomb, and triumphed over the power of the grave, that we can look forward to the same glorious privilege; and, accordingly, St. Peter renders thanks to "the God and Father of our Lord * Sacrament Sunday.