Philippians 1** The Philippians felt a very deep interest for the apostle.The scope of the epistle is to confirm them in the faith, toencourage them to walk as becomes the gospel of Christ, tocaution them against judaizing teachers, and to expressgratitude for their Christian bounty. This epistle is the onlyone, among those written by St. Paul, in which no censures areimplied or expressed. Full commendation and confidence are inevery part, and the Philippians are addressed with a peculiaraffection, which every serious reader will perceive. * The apostle offers up thanksgivings and prayers, for the goodwork of grace in the Philippians. (1-7) He expresses affection,and prays for them. (8-11) Fortifies them against being castdown at his sufferings. (12-20) He stood prepared for glorifyingChrist by life, or death. (21-26) Exhortations to zeal, andconstancy in professing the gospel. (27-30)1-7 The highest honour of the most eminent ministers is, to beservants of Christ. And those who are not really saints onearth, never will be saints in heaven. Out of Christ, the bestsaints are sinners, and unable to stand before God. There is nopeace without grace. Inward peace springs from a sense of Divinefavour. And there is no grace and peace but from God our Father,the fountain and origin of all blessings. At Philippi theapostle was evil entreated, and saw little fruit of his labour;yet he remembers Philippi with joy. We must thank our God forthe graces and comforts, gifts and usefulness of others, as wereceive the benefit, and God receives the glory. The work ofgrace will never be perfected till the day of Jesus Christ, theday of his appearance. But we may always be confident God willperform his good work, in every soul wherein he has really begunit by regeneration; though we must not trust in outwardappearances, nor in any thing but a new creation to holiness.People are dear to their ministers, when they receive benefit bytheir ministry. Fellow-sufferers in the cause of God should bedear one to another. 8-11 Shall not we pity and love those souls whom Christ lovesand pities? Those who abound in any grace, need to abound more.Try things which differ; that we may approve the things whichare excellent. The truths and laws of Christ are excellent; andthey recommend themselves as such to any attentive mind.Sincerity is that in which we should have our conversation inthe world, and it is the glory of all our graces. Christiansshould not be apt to take offence, and should be very carefulnot to offend God or the brethren. The things which most honourGod will most benefit us. Let us not leave it doubtful whetherany good fruit is found in us or not. A small measure ofChristian love, knowledge, and fruitfulness should not satisfyany. 12-20 The apostle was a prisoner at Rome; and to take off theoffence of the cross, he shows the wisdom and goodness of God inhis sufferings. These things made him known, where he wouldnever have otherwise been known; and led some to inquire afterthe gospel. He suffered from false friends, as well as fromenemies. How wretched the temper of those who preached Christout of envy and contention, and to add affliction to the bondsthat oppressed this best of men! The apostle was easy in themidst of all. Since our troubles may tend to the good of many,we ought to rejoice. Whatever turns to our salvation, is by theSpirit of Christ; and prayer is the appointed means of seekingfor it. Our earnest expectation and hope should not be to behonoured of men, or to escape the cross, but to be upheld amidsttemptation, contempt, and affliction. Let us leave it to Christ,which way he will make us serviceable to his glory, whether bylabour or suffering, by diligence or patience, by living to hishonour in working for him, or dying to his honour in sufferingfor him. 21-26 Death is a great loss to a carnal, worldly man, for heloses all his earthly comforts and all his hopes; but to a truebeliever it is gain, for it is the end of all his weakness andmisery. It delivers him from all the evils of life, and bringshim to possess the chief good. The apostle's difficulty was notbetween living in this world and living in heaven; between thesetwo there is no comparison; but between serving Christ in thisworld and enjoying him in another. Not between two evil things,but between two good things; living to Christ and being withhim. See the power of faith and of Divine grace; it can make uswilling to die. In this world we are compassed with sin; butwhen with Christ, we shall escape sin and temptation, sorrow anddeath, for ever. But those who have most reason to desire todepart, should be willing to remain in the world as long as Godhas any work for them to do. And the more unexpected mercies arebefore they come, the more of God will be seen in them. 27-30 Those who profess the gospel of Christ, should live asbecomes those who believe gospel truths, submit to gospel laws,and depend upon gospel promises. The original word"conversation" denotes the conduct of citizens who seek thecredit, safety, peace, and prosperity of their city. There isthat in the faith of the gospel, which is worth striving for;there is much opposition, and there is need of striving. A manmay sleep and go to hell; but he who would go to heaven, mustlook about him and be diligent. There may be oneness of heartand affection among Christians, where there is diversity ofjudgment about many things. Faith is God's gift on the behalf ofChrist; the ability and disposition to believe are from God. Andif we suffer reproach and loss for Christ, we are to reckon thema gift, and prize them accordingly. Yet salvation must not beascribed to bodily afflictions, as though afflictions andworldly persecutions deserved it; but from God only issalvation: faith and patience are his gifts.
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