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his sins, and repented in dust and ashes. -Thus St. Paul does not mean to sayimitate my conduct at all times, and under all circumstances of my life he does not mean to say-Be zealous as I once was in persecuting the Church--be hasty as I was in disputing so hotly with Barnabas-but the tenor of his advice, if general, means,- Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ; if particular, refers to some particulars of behaviour which the context will point out.
The latter is the case in the passage before us.-The Apostle is warning his Philippian converts against the errors of the Judaizing Christians, who taught that the law of Moses was still binding, and that a saving efficacy attended its rites.—This he terms “ putting confidence in the flesh,” and proceeds to show, that if any man might entertain such confidence, he was that man, owing to the peculiarities of his birth, education, and early life.--In none of these things, however, did he put his trust.--All these advantages he counted loss-he esteemed worse than valueless, compared to the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. And his hope was that he might be found in Christ, might continue an engrafted member of Christ's mystical body, not trusting to the obedience which he might have been able to render to the law, “but to the righteousness which is of God hy faith” in the Gospel.-- This his Christian course, he compares to a race at the Olympian gamesand declares that he does not look upon himself as secure already of his reward but still continues to strive earnestly and diligently that he may not fail of obtaining -it. And let all those, he says, who are
thoroughly instructed in their Christian duty, pursue the same plan.-- In this race, and in this manner of running it
Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”
But wherefore call attention to a point so obvious ?— Why waste time in showing that St. Paul does not mean to propose himself as a perfect pattern of universal
holiness, when it is self-evident that no human being can be such a pattern ?To warn you, my brethren, against a widely prevalent error in practice, from which it by no means follows that a man must be free, because his speculative notions on the matter are correct and clear :-to warn you against the abuse of example.-Every man who opens a Bible, knows full well that with respect to each character, which he shall there find delineated, he is to imitate the good and avoid the evil.He knows this-and he would not avowedly study the book upon any other principle.—But are there not moments occasionally, when it is forgotten ?-Are there not seasons, when fatigued, as it were, with continued straining after the lofty virtues that are brought before us, we fall back, and rest with indolent satisfaction upon the authority of some example of sin ?— Are there not occasions, when we can turn with ill-disguised complacency from the wisdom to the folly of a Solomon—from the zeal to the apostacy of a Peter-from the bro..
therly love, to the carnal quarrellings of Barnabas and Paul ?-Here, we say, are these chosen and favoured servants of the Most High yielding to the sins, in which I myself am implicated.—Under the shelter of their example, may I not escape with impunity ?--May not my uncleanness be tolerated ?-Shall not the weakness of my faith be overlooked ?Will the consequences of an unruly temper be visited upon me?
In answer to all this, we must be told again and again—that chosen and favoured as peccable men have been, it was not for their sins that they were chosen and favoured, nor is it in their sins that they are proposed for our imitation.—Their sins are recorded in the word of God, because the word of God is a faithful portraiture of human life ; and there is “no man living that sinneth not ?."--But in this respect they should warn, not encourage us.-Come not hither, they cry, enter not this evil path----"Avoid it-pass not by it-turn
from it, and pass away”—and if, invited instead of repulsed by this, we obstinately hold on our course—we act as would the pilot who should strand his vessel upon the very rock on which the beacon was gleaming.
And the same infatuation we carry into every-day life.-Do I speak of a feeling altogether strange to your bosoms, my brethren, when I ask whether you know not what it is to triumph at the knowledge of a neighbour's infirmities?
- To triumph-not over him, because he has fallen, (none but a fiend would do this)—nor exactly, because by that fall, he has been reduced to your own level, or below it—but because the sight of his sin has reconciled you to your own-has restored that self-complacency, which his previous uprightness had disturbed.—An example, humanly speaking, perfect, is a rebuke to all who come within its sphere.—We are never easy, therefore, till we have found some flaw in it, which we forthwith convert into a palliative for our past offences, or an