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by Thomas Coke
THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS.
IN this Epistle St. Paul manifests an extraordinary regard for the Christians of Philippi, which was one of the chief cities of Macedonia. The readiness that they had shewn in receiving the Gospel, which St. Paul, by an express command from Heaven, first went there to preach, (Acts 16:9; Acts 10:12.) the singular devotion which reigned among them, and their generous care in sending him a considerable sum for his subsistence while in prison at Rome, had justly won upon his affections. But, as St. Paul could not make them a return more worthy of himself, nor more advantageous to them, than by labouring to confirm them in the faith, and to encourage them in the practice of the Christian virtues, this is chiefly insisted upon in the present Epistle, but in a manner so affectionate, that no one, unless void of all relish for holiness, can read it unmoved. When St. Paul would shew the Philippians to what an extent he wishes for their happiness, he makes no difference between their's and his own; and he even prefers, in some degree, the consolation of living for them to the happiness of being freed from the miseries of this life, and of being in heaven with Christ, ch. Philippians 1:22. When he would inspire them with those sentiments of meekness, of charity, and of humility, so much recommended in the Gospel, he lays before them, in terms so full of instruction and consolation, the voluntary abasement of Christ, ch. Philippians 2:5-6, &c. that this single passage of his Epistle is of inestimable value to the church, offering a fund of light capable of clearing away the thickest clouds of error and heresy. When he warns the Philippians against the seductions of false teachers, who every where undertook to pervert sound doctrine, ch. Philippians 3:1, &c. he performs it with an earnestness that equally shews his zeal for the truth and his peculiar anxiety for the faith of the Philippians. Finally, when he would excite their utmost diligence, to make a daily progress in holiness, and to approach unceasingly nearer to heaven, he describes himself as engaged in a common cause with them in the same career; that, on the one hand, they might not be disheartened, as if they were yet far distant, and that he had left them very much behind him; and, on the other, to encourage them to run together with him, and to shew the same ardour in a race which was common to both. The remainder of this Epistle, to the end, is in the same style; and the whole of the 4th chapter, which is the last, breathes nothing but love, a total disregard of the things of this life, and such deep humility and resignation to God's providence, as ought to be a lesson and an example to the church throughout all ages.
the First Week of Advent