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Beware of the Dogs
The text enshrines the presentation of a contrast on one side dark, forbidding, and revolting; on the other side radiant and alluring, 'Beware of the dogs: beware of the evil workers; beware of the concision'. What is all this but a solemn and urgent warning against externalism, against all dependence upon outward ordinance and form? What are the marks of true religion? Paul enumerates three, and they appear to me to be full and all-sufficient.
I. The first characteristic of true religion is worship. Yes, but what kind of worship? 'Worship in the Spirit.' Not a ceremonial act, not the curbing of the flesh, not the eating of a wafer. These may be the signs and symbols of worship; they do not constitute the worship itself. Worship is in the spirit I know the kind of service which was observed in Paul's temple. 'We give thanks without ceasing.' 'We pray without ceasing.' 'I am poured out upon the altar.' Thanksgiving! Supplication! Sacrifice! This is the nature of true religion.
II. The second characteristic of true religion is exultation. 'We glory,' we rejoice, we boast! 'We glory in Christ Jesus.' In Him we find our crown of rejoicing. In Him we make our boast. Not in forms; not in ordinances; not in privileged exclusiveness; not in remote descent, and in distinguished succession; we glory, directly and immediately in Christ Jesus our Lord. 'God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.' When anything else is exalted to the throne of glory, the spaciousness of religious life is contracted, and the soul is imprisoned in a carnal bondage.
III. The third mark of true religion is spiritual assurance. 'We have confidence, but not in the flesh.' But where shall we gain our confidence? Back in the Christ! 'We know that our sins are forgiven us for His name's sake.' Our confidence is born out of our fellowship with the Lord.
J. H. Jowett, Apostolic Optimism, p. 36.
References. III. 4-8. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Philippians, p. 321. III. 4-17 . Expositor (6th Series), vol. iv. p. 288. III. 6. Ibid. vol. ii. p. 301. III. 7. N. Smyth, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliv. p. 40. Expositor (5th Series), vol. vi. p. 382.
The Good the Enemy of the Best
What things? What are the things that he estimates as loss birth, lineage, rank, education, social standing, even moral attainment, the very things that men usually count precious, and some of which they pursue with greedy desire? These are the things which the Apostle says he counts but rubbish, that he may win Christ, and be found in Him. These things are good in themselves; the difficulty is that unless kept in their proper places, and rightly estimated at their own value, especially as compared with the incomparable blessings of the kingdom of Christ, these good things may become the enemy of what is better, yea, even of that best knowing Christ and being found in Him. That is the Apostle's thought, and to it attention cannot be too closely given. The good may be, and often is, the enemy of the best, as the French proverb puts it.
I. Let us see How it Applies. First, in regard to the great and fundamental truth of the New Birth. Even a careless reader of the New Testament cannot miss the fact that to be a Christian means passing somehow through a great experience and having a great soul's history. Now, in regard to this great truth in the world, and especially in the Christian Church of today, among Christian families, and in nominally Christian circles, how often is the good permitted to become the enemy of the best. Respectability, good breeding, education, culture, the influence of a good home, social status are permitted to take the place of the thrilling experience of personal knowledge of Christ, and many seem to think that among people so born and reared such a thing as conversion is unnecessary. Men forget to put first things first.
II. Weakness in the Church. This great truth is just as applicable to the Christian life and to Christian people. How many are content with laying the foundation instead of rearing the temple of a devoted and holy life, how many are satisfied with striking the first blow instead of winning the battle, how many are satisfied to show bud instead of bringing forth fruit! Contentment with present experience is permitted to be the enemy of the greater things that God has prepared for all those that love Him.
III. The Problems of Life. This great truth is just as applicable, and certainly it may be very helpful when we apply it to the varied experiences of life. A burden of woe is the undertone of all the world's joy. May not the meaning of it be this, that God the Father, who has a purpose in every life, does not and will not permit the good to become the enemy of the best It is good to have child or husband, to be rich in the good things which God gives; it is better to cherish them when we have them, and even to think of them with fond memory when they are gone; but there is a best, and our Father wants us to have that too.
D. L. Ritchie, Peace the Umpire and other Sermons, p. 110.
References. III. 7, 8. G. W. Brameld, Practical Sermons, p. 278. III. 7-9. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiii. No. 1357. J. H. Jowett, The High Calling, p. 118.
St. Paul's Sacrifices
I. These words of St Paul seem very definite when we begin to think about them. They appear to contain an allusion to some definite circumstance in his past life, of which we hear nothing, or next to nothing, elsewhere. What loss had St Paul suffered? Let us try to put together all that we know or can infer about Paul's position in life before his conversion. We know, for instance, that he was a Roman citizen, and this fact alone tells us a good deal. He speaks of this with pride, saying he is a citizen of no mean city. And this citizenship implies that his family had been long settled in Tarsus, and probably that members of it served the office of magistrate. What we know, too, about St Paul's education, his being sent to Jerusalem apparently for the express purpose of being taught by Gamaliel, tends also to prove that his family was well-to-do. How comes it, then, that during the greater part of his apostolic career he is evidently a poor man? The conclusion is irresistible; St. Paul must have been disowned by his family. He had become one of those of whom our Lord speaks, who had left home, and brethren, and father, and mother, and lands for His name. St Paul's family, we are reminded in this chapter, was of pure Jewish descent. There must have been great rejoicing in the home at Tarsus when the news came of Paul's zealous persecution of the new sect. All the greater, therefore, must have been the shock of the news of his conversion. Perhaps the final rupture did not take place immediately. Not long after his conversion St. Paul went back to Tarsus, and seems to have stayed there for several years. We learn from the Epistle to the Galatians that he preached the faith there, so that his relations with his family during that time must, to say the least, have been strained and painful; but when he finally decided to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles the estrangement must have been complete. It was impossible for a strict Pharisee to condone such an offence as that The only member of the family of whom we hear definitely was Paul's nephew, his sister's son, who betrayed the conspiracy of the Jews to murder Paul after his arrest at Jerusalem. The Jews evidently believed that any member of St Paul's family would be willing to go any length in order to stop his preaching. Not long after this there is evidence that St. Paul must have been in possession of some means. By appealing to Caesar he would probably have incurred expense. He could not have lived in the hired house at Rome without private means. Whether there had been a reconciliation, or whether on his father's death some portion of the estate naturally and unavoidably devolved on him, we have no means of knowing. St. Paul counted these things as refuse provided that he might gain Christ.
II. The delicate reticence of St. Paul about these money matters gives us a high idea of the refinement of his nature. It is only on indirect evidence that we are able to trace the allusion involved in the words of the text. St. Paul stands, in this respect, on a far higher level than St Peter. He does not remind his Lord of the sacrifices he has made. He does not say with St Peter, 'Lord, we have left all and followed Thee'. Still less does he incur the imputation which St Peter does not altogether escape, of trying to bargain with Christ when he says, 'What shall we have therefore?' St. Paul feels a generous and lofty disdain for these socalled losses and sacrifices. They were not a loss; they were gain, since they led to Christ. Even the breach with his family is regarded by him in this spirit, and yet we cannot doubt that his sensitive nature felt it acutely.
The Jews attached great importance to the Fifth Commandment, and St. Paul tells us that as to the righteousness which is in the law he had been found blameless. Like St. Francis of Assisi in similar circumstances, he probably did not resist his father's will until it was clear to him that compliance would be a sin.
III. Christianity does not make any appeal to the mass of mankind to sell all that they have and follow Christ. It is only in exceptional cases that this appeal is made, and sometimes those to whom the suggestion comes cannot rise to the height of this counsel of perfection. Like the young man with great possessions, they go away sorrowful. Yet if one reads the obituary notices in the newspapers, it is almost startling, I think to see how many men and women nowadays do give up their fortune, their lifetime, sometimes even their life itself, to the service of Christ and the good of their fellowmen. Little is known of their lives by the world at large, but they have heard their Master's call, and have left all and followed Him. These are the chosen few, spiritual natures, gifted with an exceptional enthusiasm.
To the mass of men the appeal which Christianity makes is something different. It bids us do our duty, follow our conscience, take our stand on our moral and religious principles without counting the cost. We must be ready with St. Paul to suffer the loss of all things for the sake of Christ we must be ready, I mean, to risk losing much that we value for the sake of what we hold sacred. The man of high principle differs from the unprincipled man in that he would do this unhesitatingly. The perfect Christian differs from the imperfect Christian in that he would do it willingly and gladly for the sake of the love that he bears to Christ. We are not, I dare say, called upon to give up our inheritance or to break entirely with those nearest and dearest to us, as was St. Paul; but, none the less, the claim which Christianity makes on our religious life is an exacting one.
References. III. 8. Bishop, Creighton, The Heritage of the Spirit, p. 91. T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. i. p. 28. W. M. Sinclair, Words from St. Paul's (2nd Series), p. 138. Reuen Thomas, Christian World Pulpit, vol. 1. p. 137. C. S. Horne, The Soul's Awakening, p. 191. J. H. Jowett, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liv. p. 241. III. 9. W. Robertson Nicoll, Ten Minute Sermons, p. 109. H. W. Webb-Peploe, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liii. p. 389. Expositor (4th Series), vol. iv. p. 186; ibid. vol. viii. p. 81; ibid. (5th Series), vol. iv. p. 135; ibid. vol. vii. p. 281; ibid. (6th Series), vol. x. p. 367.
The Power of Christ's Resurrection
What is the sense of this word 'power'? There is no room for mistake as to its general import. By the power of a fact we mean the bearing, the consequences, as distinct from the existence of the fact; we mean the inferences which may be drawn from it, or the influence which it will naturally exert.
I. The power of the Resurrection is to be seen first of all in a Christian's thought. It is the fundamental fact which satisfies him of the absolute truth of the religion of Christ.
Now here, first, it is abundantly clear that the Apostles felt certain of their facts. They did not merely whisper in assemblies of the faithful that Jesus was risen, as a private topic of comfort for Christian souls; they carried their bold assertion of the Resurrection before tribunals, which were filled by their keen, bitter, and contemptuous enemies, and challenged them to gainsay it if they could. If, after the fashion of modern times, the ruling Sadducees had appointed a scientific commission to investigate the matter, nobody would have been better pleased than the Apostles. They had nothing to lose, they had everything to gain, by a thorough searching inquiry. 'We have not followed,' one of them wrote in after years, 'cunningly devised fables,' 'we cannot,' they said a few weeks after the event 'we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard'. They trusted their senses sufficiently to believe One who revealed to them a world higher and greater than the world of sense; and in doing this, certainly, they could say with the Psalmist, that He had 'set their feet upon the rock, and ordered their goings, and had put a new song in their mouth, even a thanksgiving unto our God'. For them the Resurrection warranted the truth of Christ's mission, the truth of Christianity. All that Christ had said, all that He had promised and foretold, was raised by it to the high level of undisputed certainty. With the mighty power of such a miracle, so certified, impelling and sustaining them, they went forward, they could not but go forward, to win the attention, the acquiescence, the faith of men in the truths which it attested. What became of them personally it mattered not If they succeeded, it would be in the strength of the risen Jesus. If they failed, the mighty risen One would yet succeed. There it was, ever before them, the imperious, the invigorating fact that He had broken forth from His grave as He said He would; and it only remained for them, as it remains for us at this hour, to do justice to the evidential power of His Resurrection. St. Paul maintains the Resurrection of Christ to be so bound up with Christianity, that to deny it is not simply to cut its most important incident right out of the heart of the Christian creed, but that it is to part with Christianity as a whole. 'If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.' 'If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins; then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.' Deny the Resurrection, and Christianity collapses altogether, as certainly as does an arch when its keystone is removed; and in place of the Conqueror of death and the Redeemer of souls, there remains only a Jewish rabbi, whose story has been curiously encrusted with legend, and some of whose sayings are still undoubtedly entitled to attention. But conversely, admit the Resurrection, and you must confess the Creed. In admitting the truth of the Resurrection, you make an admission which, if you are a thinking man, must govern, colour, impregnate your whole thought, must make faith intellectually easy, and doubt unwelcome. For the Resurrection guarantees the absolute truth of Christ's teaching and mission; it converts His death into the transient preliminary of an eternal triumph; it leads on to the Ascension and the Perpetual Intercession in heaven; it is the warrant that He will come to judgment.
II. But it is in the conduct of the Christian, in his moral and spiritual life, that the power of the Resurrection may chiefly be felt. This was the main scope of the Apostle's prayer. He had no doubt about the truth of the Gospel. But to know the risen Christ in his own heart and will this was a field wherein boundless improvement was possible, even for St. Paul; it was a field of improvement, moreover, in which, on this side the grave, perfect satisfaction was unattainable. What, then, are the necessary conditions of an effective moral power, of a power which shall stimulate and control feeling, resolution, action? There are, I apprehend, two main conditions which must be satisfied by any such power; and which are satisfied, and that amply, by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
(1) In the first place, it opens out before the eye of the soul its one adequate aim in all action and in all endurance; that is to say, a union of the whole man with God, extending through the vast perspectives of a boundless eternity.
(2) But the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ also satisfies the second condition of an effective moral power; it assures to us the continuous presence of help from on high. To have revealed a future life to us in our unaided weakness would have been to abandon us to despair; but, as it is, the revelation of our eternal home is also the assurance of our being enabled, if we are willing, to secure it.
H. P. Liddon.
The Resurrection and Personal Experience
I. The Apostle implies in these words that the Lord's Resurrection was the channel through which power was conveyed for the redemption of His people from the condemnation of sin. And this was to be an experience of ever-growing depth and certainty. Its energies were to effect the release of believing disciples from the impending threats of the law. Cross and blood, thorn-crown and furrowed flesh from which life has sped, could never assure rebels of the grace of the great God whose laws have been despised. But the Resurrection is a witness that Divine favour is bestowed again upon the new humanity, of which Jesus was the beginning, the type, and the living advocate.
II. The Apostle thought of Christ's Resurrection as the centre from which the new manifestations of a Divine life in man derived their animating and upholding forces. The death of the Holy One of God was only a part of the satisfaction made for the sinful race. The putting right of those who had got woefully wrong must be completed by vital processes emanating from the indwelling presence of the risen Lord.
III. The Apostle Paul thought also of the power of the Resurrection as a triumphant counteractive to the perils and death-risks of a hostile world. If we make proof of the Resurrection power which justifies from sin and renews into righteousness, we shall have fresh assurances against hazard and death. Water has no power to generate electrical energy as it lies in the still, tideless Jake, the sluggish river which moves placidly through a flowered landscape, or in the dikes and canals of Holland, the land of tulips and dairy farms. The engineer puts his turbines and his dynamos where torrents come thundering through the frowning chasms and rushing out of the gloomy valleys. And the power of the Resurrection, the glory of its unknown forces, its mystic possibilities are not always known in the quiet scenes of life and amidst its pastoral serenities. It is through stress and danger, through turmoil and conflict that the glory of Him who raised up Jesus from the dead manifests itself afresh.
IV. The Apostle regards those processes of grace and providence which issue from the glorified humanity of the Lord, to repel the evils of the earthly lot, as reaching their climax in the believer's victory over the ravage and terror of death. The power of the Resurrection working within and around us ought to nerve with the fortitude of an unflinching faith and change the associations of the tomb. He who is alive to all the influences emanating from the person of the risen Lord loses his dread of the unknown hereafter, and his tears for the departed are disburdened of selfish repining and despair.
Paul's Strange Ambition
The Apostle Paul is expressing here the intense longing of his heart. It is a little bit of spiritual autobiography. He uncovers his secret desires to the Philippian Christians, opens the chamber of his inner life, and we see what is working there. You often wonder what is moving in some prominent personality, what is the secret and predominating purpose of his life. It is well to turn that curious inquiry in upon ourselves. Supposing every man's heart were unveiled, and this were a kind of Palace of Truth, one wonders what would be discovered as the ruling passion of each man's life with one to be rich, with another to have some sort of position, with another to be approved and loved, with another to get pleasure, with another to be useful, or to be free from some besetting sin.
Would there be any one who would confess to this peculiar passion of Paul?
We would all like to know the peace of Christ, the joy and comfort of Christ, His thankful trust in the father's love. We would some of us brace ourselves to bear some shadow of His experience of suffering, if it pleased God to lay it upon us, but to long for it is quite another thing. A bold, brave spirit must his be, who can pray and long to share the sufferings of Christ. Can we understand the feeling out of which this desire sprang? And can we see the reasonableness of the desire, and whether it is a desire that ought to be in us and cherished by us? Let us see. I. First, as to the feeling out of which this desire sprang; if we can see that, we shall see the reasonableness of it. And indeed it is very easy to see; it shines out and breaks out in all the words and writings of Paul. It was his intense and consuming love for Christ, a love reverent, worshipful, grateful, the love of one who felt that Christ had done everything for him, and was more to him than all the glory of the world. At any moment he would not only have suffered anything, he would have died for the love that he bore to Christ; and he never lost it, as some of us do, it never abated in its fervour, it grew more and more intense as life went on.
And inasmuch as Christ was still reviled and mocked among men in the days of Paul, as He still grieved over the sins and follies of the sons of men, and still carried their sins upon His heart, we can understand how out of his vast love for the Lord, Paul longed for fellowship in His sufferings.
II. Further, we can understand the longing of the Apostle, if we remember what caused the sufferings of Christ. It was the sin and misery of the world; and what he longed for was that he might feel towards the sin and misery of men as Christ felt towards it. We are not fit to deal with the sin of our fellowmen until we can share the feeling of Christ as He wept over Jerusalem.
Charles Brown, Light and Life, p. 63.
The Power of Christ's Resurrection ( for Easter )
The thought of the Resurrection is with us still, and what can be more appropriate for a few thoughts this morning than our text? The power of His Resurrection! What is that? Who can fathom the depth of those mysterious words?
I. Power over Temptation and Sin. The power of His Resurrection means a steady rise over temptation and sin. In some parts of England on Easter Day they have a strange but beautiful superstition that the bright sun dances for very joy, and surely we may excuse that superstition when we remember that on Easter Day we begin to know something of the power of His Resurrection.
II. Power over Conscience. The Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has a wonderful power over conscience. If Christ had died, and only died, we should have been grateful for the unparalleled sacrifice; but it would end there. There are many men who would teach us and tell us that the character of Christ was beautiful and sublime that He was an Apostle, the flower of perfect humanity, and that there, suspended on the cross, He represents to all ages a witness of all human goodness and self-sacrifice. If Christ died upon the cross merely to exemplify human goodness, He has no power to heal our consciences, to give us rest and peace. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ teaches us that the sacrifice which was made by the Lord on Calvary has been accepted by God, so that Jesus Christ did not merely die as the exemplar of all that was human and good, He died there as the Passover offering for the sins of the world; and so, when we stand before His open grave we see that this conscience of ours can be healed, because the sacrifice that Christ made upon Calvary has been accepted by God. The Resurrection is, as it were, the letter which tells us that God is willing to forgive the past because the sacrifice of Jesus Christ has been accepted.
III. A Life Worth Living. There are some who talk in sombre tones about life being 'short'. They say, 'I am weary to-night, and I feel that my life will soon be at an end'. Again, when people become very old they feel that they are in the way of other people. These old people say, 'I shall not be sorry when my time comes to go away'; but when the time does come they do not want to die, they are going to have a good struggle for life. But what is there in this world to live for if there is no resurrection or no salvation? When, however, you realise that there is a resurrection, life is not hopeless; then we see that life is worth living.
IV. Even Life for Evermore. This morning, look once again into the empty tomb of our Saviour Jesus Christ. He has risen from the dead. We have strange ideas of death! We think of it in quite a wrong way; but the resurrection shows us that death is a phase of life, and not an abrupt close of life. Death is merely a passage, and we pass into the other world to live for ever and ever. In that other life there will be ample leisure. All the good we have sown in our hearts in this world will develop through the long days of eternity. There will be by-and-by a reunion of body, soul, and spirit, and our life will be carried on in that other world under conditions of perfection and glory. Do you remember in the story of the Resurrection that we are told there was an angel standing at the head of the place where the body of Jesus lay? We are told that he was a young man, and what do we learn from that? Simply that angels must be hundreds and hundreds of years old, and yet he is spoken of as a 'young man'. We learn from this fact that when we get to that other world we shall never grow old, or be weary, or carry about care; but in that other world there will be youthful perfection and an enthusiasm which will never be killed.
Easter has a number of thoughts for each one of us. Some of us lay flowers on the graves of those who have been dear to us; but our thoughts should not be sad all the sadness should go when we think of the day of resurrection.
References. III. 10. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. x. No. 552, and vol. xxxv. No. 2080. J. A. Davies, Sermons by Welshmen, p. 308. C. D. Bell, The Power of God, p. 96. E. Griffith Jones, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvii. p. 120. R. W. Hiley, A Year's Sermons, vol. iii. p. 145. T. F. Crosse, Sermons (2nd Series), p. 213. J. T. Bramston, Fratribus, pp. 141, 149. F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. vi. p. 1. Bishop Wilberforce, Sermons, p. 129. G. Campbell Morgan, The Bible and the Gross, p. 79. W. Robertson Nicoll, Ten Minute Sermons, p. 118. Expositor (6th Series), vol. iii. p. 121; ibid. (7th Series), vol. vi. p. 236. III. 10, 11. H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. iii. pp. 160, 173, 187. A. B. Davidson, Waiting Upon God, p. 277. J. H. Jowett, The High Calling, p. 124. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Philippians, p. 336. III. 12. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxix. No. 2315. F. W. Farrar, Truths to Live By, p. 352. R. C. Trench, Sermons New and Old, p. 207. J. H. Jowett, The Examiner, 17th May, 1906, p. 478. C. Cuthbert Hall, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxii. p. 12. Expositor (4th Series), vol. iii. p. 415; ibid. (5th Series), vol. v. p. 34. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Philippians, p. 348. III. 12-14 J. H. Jowett, The High Calling, p. 130.
If it were asked what, under God's grace, was the secret of St Paul's power his power of writing, his power of preaching, his power of argument I should not hesitate to say, concentration. He had singularly attained the habit of taking a distinct aim, and then making everything bear to that 'one' desired point No one is ever very great, very useful, very happy, who has not this quality in his character. Let me strongly here urge upon every one, as a general rule especially the young to cultivate concentration. Have a work to do know what it is and do it Know your end, and keep to it Fix your aim steadily, and then bring your whole being to the attainment of that end. Decision is energy; energy is power; power is confidence; and confidence is success. If you fail in anything, the probability is that it was not for want of ability, but simply because there was not sufficient 'oneness' in your mind about it, and therefore not sufficient decision which nothing but 'oneness' gives. Life, with most of us, loses its' oneness' just because its aims are too many.
I. The Supremacy of Christianity. What a mere insignificance are all things else besides! What else I do how I dress, how I fare, how I eat, how I drink, how I get on, what people think of me, what this world is to me what a mere trifle! What is it compared for a single moment with my soul and my eternity, the gospel of my salvation, the consent of God to all I ask and all I have, and that judgment to which I am to be summoned? Yet, are men living are you living as if these things were so? Religion takes its place, and where? It ranges one in a hundred, one in ten, one in two. And where is its place? What is it? A very quiet, commonplace thing, and very plain, very diluted, with a great deal of routine in it. It has its decencies and you are here. It has its properties and you are here. It has its degrees of interest and feeling. But if you measure by earnestness, and compare the intensity we put into religion with the intensity we throw into other things, is it one in two, is it one in ten, is it one in a hundred?
II. The Work of Grace in a Man's Heart should be the Happiest of all Things. It is the only thing that ever gives to man any real satisfaction in the world. It gives peace; and in this sense it is easy and light It becomes easy and light by the joyous ness of that elastic spirit which bears man up. But to get this heart of ours this dull, stubborn, wicked heart, changed, and to love God, and to please God, and to get to heaven, is very hard work. And unless you go to it intently, and embracingly, and determinately, you will not do it I know it is the work of the Holy Ghost in a man, without which no man can desire or take one step. But, nevertheless, to be a Christian is a hard work. It demands all a man's power his intellect, his memory, his judgment, his affections, his courage. It will tax them to the uttermost. It is a struggle and a battle; and at the very best it has to be fought not only in the visible, but invisible world. It is a work not to be done in a given period, but a work lifelong. All other enterprises the approbation of the world, the achievements of instruction, the accumulation of business are nothing in comparison with it. 'The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.' 'Many shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able.' It is done by whole-heartededness. It is only done by positive striving, by that spirit which goes to it honouringly, reservedly, as to the highest work that is ever given man to do. 'This one thing I do.'
III. God Must See His own Reflection in Your Soul. Now, God is 'one'. God was 'one' when He came to the great work of your salvation. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in all their threefold office. He brought His whole power, His whole love, His whole wisdom, His whole justice, to effect your redemption. Therefore, God must see the 'oneness' of the way in which you deal with your redemption.
Miss Caroline Fox gives the following note of a conversation with Sterling. 'Thorwaldsen was one of the greatest geniuses and clearest intellects in Europe. When engaged over his Vulcan, one of his friends said to him, "Now, you must be satisfied with this production". "Alas," said the artist, "I am." "Why should you regret it?" asked his friend. "Because I must be going down-hill when I find my works equal to my aspirations."'
'An ingenious artist of our own time,' says Hazlitt ( Table-Talk, 'On the Past and Future'), 'has been heard to declare that if ever the Devil got him into his clutches, he would set him to copy his own pictures. Thus the secure self-complacent retrospect to what is done is nothing, while the anxious, uneasy looking forward to what is to come is everything. We are afraid to dwell on the past, lest it should retard our future progress; the indulgence of ease is fatal to excellence.'
References. III. 13. H. H. Henson, Godly Union and Concord, p. 30. G. H. Morrison, Scottish Review, vol. ii. p. 25. P. Wyatt, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvi. p. 342. T. F. Crosse, Sermons, p. 193. J. H. Jellett, The Elder Son, pp. 278, 291. J. M, Neale, Sermons for the Church Year, vol. ii. p. 180. R. Flint, Sermons and Addresses, p. 123. H. C. Beeching, Church Family Newspaper, vol. xiv. p. 112. F. E. Gardiner, ibid. vol. xv. p. 112.
Perfect But Not Perfected
Let us examine the elements that constitute the criterion of Christian perfection as here laid down. I. First of all, Christian perfection has done with the past, 'Forgetting those things which are behind'. What does the Apostle mean by forgetting the past? If you carefully consider the chapter, you will discover the thought connection which the Apostle has in his mind. He has been telling the Philippians what he has sacrificed for the sake of the knowledge of Jesus Christ But now he is able to say: Whatever pangs I then endured, however my heart may then have bled for the past, now I stand above it. I have forgotten it. And so he implies that for the Philippian converts also the same criterion holds good. And we also must apply the criterion to ourselves. Has that from which we have escaped any power now to make us halt on our way? If we can stand this test then we have attained to a strength and power of Christian life which is called in the New Testament Christian perfection.
II. Christian perfection according to the Apostle reaches forth into a higher goal in the future. There are some people that define Christian perfection in this life as a rounded and complete thing, as the reaching of the goal; the very thing Paul declared he had not attained. Such a conception must of necessity lead to self-complacency, and close the vision of a higher goal in the present life. But that is not the meaning of this passage. According to Paul, as many as be perfect have the vision of a far away goal. Christian perfection, according to this criterion, is that stage of life that realises most intensely its imperfection. Observe that this attitude involves a certainty of mind with respect to future glory. No man ever did well in the present if he had no vision of the future.
III. We note that Christian perfection recognises its ground, its goal, and its inspiration in Jesus Christ 'I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.' (1) 'In Christ Jesus.' The Apostle knows of nothing beyond that limit (2) 'The high calling.' 'The high calling 'is called in the Epistle to the Hebrews 'the heavenly calling'. The phrase implies that this calling comes from, and leads to, the highest sphere to which man can attain. (3) Then the passage leads us in the last place to the Christian anticipation of a perfected life in a fuller and completer sense, when the goal shall be reached, and the prize shall be obtained.
John Thomas, Myrtle Street Pulpit, vol. III. p. 193.
Forgetting the Things Behind
To apprehend is to lay hold of; and what is that of which St. Paul does not account himself to have laid hold of? He that had been so tried by temptations, he that had so suffered for the name of Christ, he that had laboured more abundantly than the rest of the Apostles, even he did not feel that he had done enough for his own salvation.
I. 'Forgetting the things that are behind.' We have fallen into sin, again and again and again, when we thought to do good. As the same St Paul says evil was present with us. What then? We are to forget all that, so far as it may discourage us; we are to keep it out of our sight, so far as it may hinder us from running with patience the race that is set before us. What should we say to any general, who, when speaking to his men, were to say, 'Remember, soldiers, that you were beaten at such a time, that you lost courage at such a time, that the enemy stole a march upon you at such a time?' Would he not rather say, 'Remember, soldiers, that then you conquered, that then you did such and such a valiant action, that then your praise was in all mouths?' And if they had suffered a great defeat, he would say, 'It is true that at such a time you failed, but then there were such and such reasons for it; we have put all that to rights; and now we shall go on in the certain assurance of victory'.
II. But those words of St. Paul's are true in another sense. That of which I have already spoken rather belongs to God's true servants, who may fall sometimes, but who are fighting His battles still. This is for those who are idle, who are careless, who think that heaven may be gained with less than all their heart and all their strength. 'Why am I always to be struggling? I remember when I was much worse than I am now. I have done a great deal. I have done enough. You cannot expect me always to be trying, always to be persevering.' And I should answer, 'But I do expect you to be always trying. But you must persevere to the end. Forget everything that you have done. Now begin anew. As they say, make a fresh start. Imagine that this were the very beginning of your Christian life. Set out again and try as hard as if you had never tried before.'
III. 'I press towards the mark.' The great mark, the one mark, the mark which we always ought to have before our eyes, the prize to which we are called. Ought not we who really believe that there is such a kingdom, that there is such a crown, that there are such companions, that there is such a reward, to be ashamed that we care for the little troubles and vexations of this world? Ought not anyone who is going home to be ashamed if he made much of the troubles of the journey, heat, or dust, or crowd?
J. M. Neale, Sermons in Sackville College Chapel, vol. II. p. 163.
The Marks of a Christian
I wish to enumerate some of the marks of Christian progress.
I. Faith. 'We live,' says Wordsworth, 'by hope, by admiration, and by love.' We also live by faith; but faith without hope, admiration, and love would be nothing more than a cold corpse.
II. Self-sacrifice. The value of our faith is measured by our self-sacrifice. This mark of Christian progress is seen not only in what it takes up but what it gives up.
III. Self-control. Remember the power for good or evil of the tongue.
Church Family Newspaper, vol. xiv. p. 464.
References. III. 13, 14. R. Flint, Sermons and Addresses, p. 1. J. G. Greenhough, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvii. p. 92. H. P. Liddon, Sermons on Some Words of St. Paul, p. 246. H. S. Seekings, Preacher's Magazine, vol. xvii. p. 466. J. A. Alexander, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, p. 371. A. Maclaren, The Wearied Christ, p. 158. H. P. Liddon, University Sermons, p. 28. J. M. Neale, Readings for the Aged (3rd Series), p. 218. C. D. Bell, The Saintly Calling, p. 183. J. J. Blunt, Plain Sermons (3rd Series), p. 129. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix. No. 1114. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Philippians, p. 359. III. 14. B. J. Snell, The All-Enfolding Love, p. 49. J. W. Boulding, Sermons, p. 41. R. Allen, The Words of Christ, p. 285. III. 15. Archbishop Maclagan, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liv. p. 216. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Philippians, p. 369. III. 15, 16. J. H. Jowett, The High Calling, p. 137. III. 16. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Philippians, p. 381. III. 17. T. F. Crosse, Sermons (2nd Series), p. 122. III. 17-19. J. H. Jowett, The High Calling, p. 143; Expositor (6th Series), vol. ii. p. 259.
The artist, except when he rises to the height of a Blake, does not get beyond irritation and annoyance; the philosopher smites them with cold sarcasm; the moralist, or he whom in the narrower sense we call religious, assails them by turns with solemn denunciation and pathetic entreaty. This last alone, when it crosses his mind, and he realises for a moment what is to him so incredible, that there are those who 'mind earthly things,' says it 'even weeping.'
Sir John Seeley, Natural Religion (pt. 2 Chronicles 1:0 ).
References. III. 18. H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 1691, p. 567. III. 18, 19. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ii. No. 102, and vol. xliv. No. 2553. J. Keble, Sermons for the Sundays After Trinity, p. 352. III. 19. J. Keble, Sermons for the Sundays After Trinity, p. 363. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. pp. 24, 35, 138, 210; ibid. vol. ii. pp. 66, 295, 382; ibid. (5th Series), vol. ix. p. 190.
What is heaven? That is a question to which the Church can give a partial, though as yet necessarily an incomplete, answer. It is manifest that the Church must depend upon the revelation of her Divine Founder Himself. For heaven lies beyond the range of human intuitions or discoveries. 'No man hath seen God at any time;' and no man hath seen heaven.
I. We turn, then, to the words of Jesus Christ. And here it is important to remark that, when He spoke of heaven, He was careful to use such language as is figurative or analogical. It is impossible in human words to give an exact account of a supernatural existence. Yet human words must be employed, and such as will convey the best idea which the audience is capable of apprehending. The words of our Lord relating to heaven need to be accepted under the limiting condition that 'eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man' the things of heaven; and that revelation of them is not literal, but spiritual. But while it is true that our Lord's words respecting heaven must be regarded as adumbrations of an inexpressible and inconceivable reality, it is not impossible to draw certain inferences from His teaching and from His life.
(1) Thus He taught, beyond doubt, the existence of heaven. He did not prove it; He took it for granted. To Him, as to all who have learnt the secret of the Gospel, the life of earth is the shadow, the life of heaven is the substance; the one is transient, the other is real, enduring, absolute, true.
(2) Jesus Christ then taught the reality of heaven; and, in His teaching, He spoke of it with complete knowledge, with complete certainty. He professed and claimed to know all about heaven. As being the Son of God, as having descended to earth from God, He could, if He would, afford to mankind a full revelation of the celestial city, wherein His Father dwelt. 'No man hath seen God at any time; the only Begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.' This is the substance of His revelation.
(3) Whether it was His will or not to reveal the character of heaven, He declared explicitly that it was within His power to reveal it. 'In My Father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.' It is remarkable, then, that our Lord should have observed in all His teaching so great a reticence in speaking of heaven. Heaven was clearly one of those subjects upon which it was impossible for Him to tell, as a Man to men, all He knew.
(4) There is, however, a manifest intention not to exaggerate the awfulness of the invisible world. It may be said of Jesus Christ that, while He laid a powerful emphasis on the reality and significance of that world, He intended it to be a hope, a solace, a motive to holiness, and not to exercise a paralysing influence upon human action, as was the case in the year a.d. 1000, when the anticipation of the world's end as imminent impoverished and impaired human action. The will of God is that we should prepare ourselves in this life for the next, not that we should sacrifice this life and its endeavours as though they were practically worthless.
II. Among the lessons of Christ's teaching upon heaven there are two which seem to stand out in relief He taught that the enjoyment of the heavenly life depended upon character and conduct in this life; and also, that the access to the heavenly life lay in the method and revelation of His hid Gospel. It is not in man to merit heaven.
III. Heaven is not a place, or a period, but a state. Is it possible to understand that existence? The soul of man is the seat of personality or identity; and it is the soul which is immortal and enters heaven. But, if we know what it is that is immortal, we may hope to know what it is that the immortal being is capable of being or doing. The intellectual, moral, and spiritual faculties of man continue eternally. No merely negative conception of heaven can be just. To regard it simply as a state of immunity from sin and sorrow and suffering is to mistake its character altogether. The death of saints is an emancipation from limiting conditions. It is a progress and exaltation. It is the entrance into a sublime existence, into the perfect state and perfect exercise of the intellectual, moral, and spiritual faculties in a word, into heaven.
IV. It is asked by many an anxious, yearning heart if they who have known and loved on earth will regain such mutual knowledge in eternity? Can it be doubted that this knowledge will be theirs? Continuity, it has been said, is by death broken; identity remains; personality survives the grave. And if it be so, then it may be permitted to hope nay, indeed, to believe intensely that in heaven we shall enjoy the society of those who have been nearest and dearest upon earth. We shall know them, and they us. We shall live with them in full and free communion; we shall participate in their joy, their gratitude, their adoration; the saddest of all earthly fears, the fear of separation, will be wanting. There will be no more parting for ever.
The Earthly and the Heavenly Citizenship
'Conversation' in this passage, as indeed the Revised Version shows, means 'citizenship'; and so to take it is the only way of entering fully into the strong and solemn purport of St. Paul's words. For he knew what citizenship was. He was himself, as he says, 'a citizen of no mean city,' but not of Tarsus only; he was a citizen of the Roman Empire, the greatest confederation of races and peoples which the world had ever known until the British Empire attained its pre-eminent position; he was the inheritor of an imperial franchise so august that an English statesman, speaking on a memorable occasion in the House of Commons, could find no better emblem of the safety and the dignity guaranteed to all subjects of the late Queen by their British citizenship than the ancient phrase consecrated to the ears and the hearts of all citizens of Rome, Civis Romanus Sum .
I. The Christian possesses a double franchise a franchise of earth, and a franchise of heaven. But these are not incompatible, nor even separable. St. Paul knows nothing of the modern conventional distinction between the secular and the sacred sides of human life. In his eyes the State may be less sacred, but it is not less truly sacred, than the Church. He would almost as soon allow that the State has no concern with religion as that the Church has no concern with civic duty or social reform. Whatever may be the equitable relation of different religious bodies living side by side in the same political community, it would, I think, seem to him a paradox to maintain that, at a time when the State is interested, as it never was before, in the amelioration of the physical and moral conditions under which the mass of the people, in the great cities especially, live, it should deliberately discard the most efficacious and energetic of all motives to philanthropy religion, or the love of God, which is the one unfailing warrant for the love of man.
II. A good citizen, and still more a good Christian, is not two beings, but one. There is no possibility of dividing his life into water-tight compartments. He is not a religious man in church and an irreligious man outside. He cannot be honourable in public life if in private he is fraudulent or untrustworthy. It is for this reason that the people have been led in recent years by a sound and sure instinct to demand of their public men throughout the constituencies an obedience to those moral laws upon which all societies and communities ultimately depend. They have silently argued that a statesman or a politician cannot make a worse beginning of elevating his fellow-citizens than by debasing himself. Men are tempted to essay the task of making others better; but the one infallible service which they can render the State is to make themselves better. Political schools, parties, administrations, cabinets, rise and fall, and it is often difficult to appraise the good or the evil they have done; but there is no one, not the poorest or humblest citizen, who may not, if he will, enrich the State with the treasure which is most enduring and ennobling his own sincere, honest, upright, virtuous Christian life.
III. We all need to be raised day by day, in thought and character, from the citizenship of earth to the citizenship of heaven. We need to live more and more not as worldly men and women, whose souls are bounded by the range of mere temporal and terrestrial aspirations, but as the citizens of an eternal commonwealth, the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty, redeemed and consecrated by the Passion of the Saviour Jesus Christ. So, but so only, shall we live on earth the life of heaven; so shall we lift the society in which we move to ourselves, by lifting ourselves to God.
The Church and Social Questions
Among all the changes which have come over religious and theological teaching within living memory none seems to me so momentous as the acute secularising of the Christian hope, as shown by the practical disappearance of 'the other world' from the sermons and writings of those who are most in touch with the thoughts and aspirations of our contemporaries. You may look through a whole book of modern sermons and find hardly a reference to what used to be called the Four Last Things, except perhaps in a rhetorical peroration at the end of a discourse. The modern clergyman certainly need not be afraid of being nicknamed a 'Sky-pilot'. The New Jerusalem which fills his thoughts is a revolutionised London. As for the old appeals to hopes and fears beyond the grave the scheme of government by rewards and punishments on which Bishop Butler dilates they are gone. Our generation will not listen to them. 'Give us something to help us here and now,' is the cry. 'Tell us how to remedy social evils, and especially how to reduce the amount of physical suffering. Show us how the toiling masses may be made more comfortable. Listen to what the working-man is saying, and you will find that he wants no cheques upon the bank of heaven. No; he is saying, like Jacob, 'If God will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on, then shall the Lord be my God'. Show the poor fellow that this is exactly what the Church wishes to do for him; explain to him that now at last, after eighteen centuries, we are beginning to understand what Christianity really means that it is an engine of social reform, a crusade against unfair distribution: and the Church may yet justify her existence.'
I. Now, whether you sympathise with this sort of language or not, you must admit that the change is a momentous one. The Gospel has never been so preached before. From the time of the first martyrs to our own day the Christian has always felt that this world is not his home. His eyes have been fixed on the curtain which hangs between us and the Beyond, through which, as he believed, stream forth broken rays of a purer light than ever came from the sun. In all the changes and chances of mortal life he has looked for the city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. He has enriched his mental pictures of this glorious home with all the fairest and noblest images that he could find in the world of time and space, and he has prayed every day that he may at last be admitted to the never-ending companionship of saints and angels in that eternal world, and to the beatific vision of God Himself, Whom those only can see who have been made like Him in holiness. And along with these hopes he has been haunted by the horror of perpetual exile from the presence of God a doom so dreadful that not even by recalling all the ingenuities of human cruelty can we realise one tithe of the suffering that the soul must endure when it knows what it has lost. However pictured, the eternal world has been hitherto for Christians the real world.
II. What was the message of Jesus Christ to mankind? How did he judge human life, and how would He have us judge it? We have been told to distinguish between judgments of fact and judgments of value. The two cannot, indeed, be held apart, for a fact which has no value is not even a fact, but an unrelated and meaningless accident, if such a thing were possible, and assuredly that which has no existence has also no value. But the distinction is sometimes useful, and we may apply it here by saying that the revelation of Jesus Christ was a revaluation of human life based on certain eternal objective facts. The essence of Christianity is a transvaluation of all values in the light of our Divine sonship and heavenly citizenship. The first Christians were accused of turning the world upside down; and this is just what the teaching of Christ does, if the average man sees the world right side up. The things that are seen are temporal, fugitive, relatively unreal; the things that are not seen are eternal, real in their changeless activity and inexhaustible fulness of meaning. Our Saviour lived Himself in the presence of these timeless realities; He was 'in heaven,' as St. John seems to say, even after He 'came down' to earth; He communed continually with His Heavenly Father; every joy was for Him a thanksgiving, every wish a prayer. And, so living, He knew that the only thing that matters in this world is the life or soul, which is here on its trial, passing through its earthly pilgrimage towards weal or woe.
III. Jesus Christ's standard of value His transvaluation of all values in the light of our Divine sonship and heavenly citizenship is the standard for all Christians. Give yourselves time to think and pray. Ask God to show you what things are really valuable and worth striving for, and what things are not. Bring your whole scheme of life into His presence. Try hard and earnestly to make the eternal world real to you. It will never be real to you unless you try hard to see it The spiritual eye needs training and exercise as much as the physical organ. Creatures who live in the dark end by losing their eyes. And do not live softly. Luxury is bad from every point of view. Learn to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. The cross has to be borne by all of us, and, believe me, it is only the thought of our heavenly home, where Christ has gone before to prepare a place for us, that can make that yoke easy ana that burden light.
W. R. Inge, The Guardian, 18th Nov. 1908.
The Heavenly Citizenship
There are many important truths which concern us all contained in these words of St. Paul. Just notice what we have in these words.
I. Heaven is where Christ is. First it is implied that there is a heaven, 'for our conversation is in heaven'. It is clearly stated that Christ dwells in that heaven, wherever it may be. It may be, as the scientists tell us, above or below; but wherever it is these words plainly state that Christ is there. This Apostle tells us we are to look for Him from heaven. That was what St. Paul said to the Philippians if he were here he would say the same to you, he would say we are to look for Jesus Christ from heaven. You know whether in your daily life, in your work and play as Christian men and women, you are looking for the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven.
II. The Purpose of our Looking. And then we are told in the words of the text what is the purpose of our looking for Him. When we look for a person we expect him to come to us, and so, if the Philippians were looking for the Lord Jesus Christ, they would have a certain purpose in view. The purpose is stated here. It is to change our vile or worthless bodies, our poor corruptible bodies, of which St. Paul spoke in 1 Corinthians xv. It is to change these bodies of ours, or transform them so as to alter their character altogether, not to take away their identity, but to make a real change a change that will make them like unto the glorious body of our Lord. His glorious body is His resurrected body.
III. The Power of His Appearing. Then we are told of the power which is one of the most important points in this passage, 'The working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself. Now take this passage in connection with what we read in 1 Corinthians xv., where we are told that the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death, so that when we talk of death, or when we pass a cemetery or place where the dead are laid, we should be very solemn indeed. I take it that by the last enemy is also meant the worst enemy, and I think you will all agree that death is an awful enemy indeed. He levels all, whatever their class may be the statesman, the philanthropist, the actor, the sailor, the soldier. 'Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority, and power.' There shall be no more grieving, no more crying; both God and the Lamb shall be in that new place which is created for us after the enemies are destroyed, and 'His servants shall serve Him'. There shall be no light needed there, the Lord God giveth them light, and they shall reign for ever and ever. There is to be a new state of things. It is that men shall be so spiritualised in some marvellous way filled with the Spirit of God, filled even more deeply than the Apostles were on the day of Pentecost Man will receive his life from God Himself, because his life will be the new life of Jesus Christ flowing into all the redeemed, and they will be united by Him to God the Father. In this thought death loseth its bitterness, for sin is destroyed, so that it will never be possible for another fall of man to take place, because there will be no more possibility of sin, no more temptations, none of those trials to which man is subjected in this present world. Man's vile body shall be assimilated to the body of Jesus Christ by an irresistible power.
And the purpose of all this is that God may be all in all. God the Father is to predominate; and so we can see that the manhood or womanhood that we possess in this world will all be subjected to God the Father. And can we wish it to be subjected to anyone else? Can you desire anyone to have perfect power over you except that God Who has made you, that God Who takes care of you and loves you, and Who has assigned you a place in this world, and promised to have a place prepared for you in heaven? Can you commit yourselves in life or death to anyone with such faith as to God the Father? May that God take care of us, may He Who gave us existence here find us a far happier life hereafter, and bring us to that blessed place where Christ Himself is, and where He shall be all in all.
References. III. 20. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. viii. No. 476. F. J. A. Hort, Village Sermons (2nd Series), p. 149. J. B. Scott, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvi. p. 220. E. Bersier, Sermons in Paris, p. 255. R. F. Horton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvi. p. 273. J. J. Blunt, Plain Sermons (2nd Series), p. 132. W. M. Sinclair, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liii. p. 181. Basil Wilberforce, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liii. p. 334. J. H. Jowett, The High Calling, p. 149. Expositor (7th Serie3), vol. v. p. 503. III. 20, 21. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii. No. 973; vol. xxxiii. No. 1959. F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. i. p. 235. Bishop Gore, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liii. p. 400. R. W. Church, Village Sermons (3rd Series), p. 141. J. Bunting, Sermons, vol. ii. p. 153. III. 21. Bishop Creighton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liv. p. 307. Expositor (4th Series), vol. viii. p. 145; ibid. vol. x. p. 105; ibid. (5th Series), vol. i. p. 180; ibid. vol. ii. p. 135; ibid. (7th Series), vol. vi. p. 114. IV. 1. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxiii. No. 1959. J. H. Jowett, The High Galling, p. 156. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Philippians, p. 1.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Philippians 3". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany