« EelmineJätka »
words of the text refer.—They are of the very first importance, for they describe the spirit which animated him in running his Christian course—and the rules he observed in running it. But what is there here that we cannot imitate ?- Nay, what is there here that we must not imitate, if we would " attain unto the resurrection of the dead ? ?”
St. Paul cast from him “ all confidence in the flesh 2."—And in this—can we not be followers of him ?-In this-are we not followers of him ?- What Christian is there-or what man who calls himself a Christian, however low his attainments, who would voluntarily stand before the judgment-seat of God, and demand that sentence might be passed upon him according to his own deservings ?-I am firmly convinced that this is one of the many points on which almost all believers are agreed in substance, though they differ in words.—We may not, some of
us, like the terms in which others speak of the utter incapability of nature, and of the all-sufficiency of grace—but when we turn from subtle-perhaps uselesspoints of theory, to plain every-day practice, I do believe that it would be difficult to find the man (if he have ever consulted his Bible, or kneeled upon his knees before his God), who would hope to walk by his own strength—or venture to be judged by his own righteousness. -No!-on this point, I will assume, that we are most of us, closer imitators of St. Paul, that even we ourselves suppose-and may this be proved at the last day—“ may we be found, not having our own righteousness”—not relying upon our own works or deservings" but on that which is through the faith of Christ -the righteousness which is of God by faith."
1 Phil. iii. 11.
2 Phil. iü. 4.
Trusting to the free grace of God, and to the sacrifice and mediation of Jesus Christ—those anchors of the soul, sure and stedfast—St. Paul did not, however, look upon his reward as certainbecause he knew that though his Lord would never fail him, he might be wanting to himself.—“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 Christ Jesus.”
1 Phil. iii. 9.
And cannot we be “ thus minded ?" Cannot we be followers of him in this respect also ?-By the assistance of the Holy Spirit, perhaps we have turned in sincerity and truth to him “ who came into the world to save sinners 2," — with a firm conviction that of those who thus turn to him, he will cast none out-and the consequences of our repentance probably have been quietness and peacebecause for the past we have obtained reconciliation.—But we need not suppose that this gives us security for the future. - We need not count that we have already attained—that our crown is assigned to us so immutably and irreversibly, that we may speak confidently of it. We need not look upon ourselves as competitors no longer, but rather as spectators of the race, who are authorized to remit all exertion ourselves and to sit as judges on the efforts. and progress of others.-We may reject all such vain imaginations—such proud swelling thoughts as these, and imitate the humble diligence, and vigilant self-government of Paul.“ Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall ?."Yes!-- let him take good heed—for there lies a stumbling-block in his way, which it will require all his caution to avoid. That stumbling-block is pride.- Pride of a nature as offensive to God-as destructive of the true Christian character, as any that swells the heart of the most carnal worldling. -The doctrine of assurance may be a popular one to teachas it undoubtedly is one flattering to the
· Phil. iii. 13, 14.
1 Tim. i. 15.
vanity and indolence of those who receive it-but is it one which St. Paul would countenance ?-My brethren, the Epistle from which the text is taken, was addressed to Christians, of whose progress and attainments the Apostle entertained so high an opinion, that from first to last, it contains no word of reproof or complaint throughout it is encouraging and congratulatory.—Yet it is to those approved disciples that the memorable sentence is written" Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling!”
In his diffidence, therefore, and selfdistrust, as one other point within our reach, let us be followers of St. Paul, and of those who walk so as they have him for an example ;—and while we are endeavouring to graft these, as well as his many other eminent virtues into our own lives, let us act in all things like men whose thoughts and conversation are in heaven and who are expecting from
1 Phil. ii. 12.