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THE TENDENCY OF ALL EVENTS TO THE
PHILIPPIANS, 1. 19. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation,
through your prayer, and the supply of the
Spirit of Jesus Christ. The consideration of the providence of God, which orders all the events of the world, is a source of consolation to the sincere Christian. He finds himself often in the midst of difficulties, from which no human prudence can deliver him. His most sacred designs for the divine glory are at times impeded and frustrated. The perverseness of the adversaries of true religion, combines with the mistakes of its friends and the imbecility and defects of his own mind, to involve him in perplexity. Under such circumstances, his relief is in the wise and gracious care of his heavenly Father, who knows and who controls all the affairs of his servants, and who can bring order and success out of the confused and apparently inextricable tumult of human passions.
This appears to have been the resource of St. Paul in the peculiar afflietions to which the text refers. He was at the time when he wrote it, a prisoner at Rome, for the name of Jesus Christ. Some false apostles took this opportunity of opposing his designs, undermining his authority, and sowing divisions in the church. To this end they preached Christ out of envy and strife, aiming to promote contention even by the Gospel of peace. Possibly they were teachers who concealed some part of their real sentiments, and preached for a time the substance of the Gospel, in order to form a party against the Apostle, and gradually impose the Mosaic ritual on the Gentile converts. In these painful trials, St. Paul remained unmoved. He rejoiced that, notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ was preached. This satisfied him as to the effect produced upon other persons: and as to himself, he knew it would help forward his final salvation by promoting his humility, spirituality, and meetness for heaven, through the ardent prayers of the * Philippians on his behalf, and the gracious sapply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Thus in both respects he had just reason to leave every thing, without extreme solicitude, in the hands of God. His earnest expectation and his hope were, that he should in nothing be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so then also, Christ
should be magnified in his body, whether it were by life or by death. This was his great object, his prevailing desire, his deliberate purpose, his first duty, and his highest interest ; for to him to live was Christ, and to die was gain.
The sentiment, then, of the text appears to be, that the most distressing events will advance the ultimate salvation of the true Christian, through the means of prayer to God and the supply of the Holy Spirit of Christ.
In considering this subject, we must notice,
I. The confident hope of the humble Chris tian-I know that this shall turn to my salvation.
II. The particular manner in which this hope will be accomplished
through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
1. The confident hope of the humble Christian is, that every trial, however apparently adverse, will assuredly conduce to his final salvation.
SALVATION is the deliverance of fallen man from sin and all its consequences, by the stupendous sacrifice and grace of Jesus Christ. The meritorious cause of it, is exclusively the obedience unto death of the eternal Son of God. He is the Saviour. His name was expressly called Jesus, because he was to save his people from their sins. His sacrifice upon the cross was the price of our redemption; neither is
there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby they must be saved. The application of this great salvation, in its full extent, is gradual. Justification, the first and principal blessing of it, is obtained by receiving with a true and lively faith, the testimony of God concerning his Son. By grace we are saved through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. Thus we are pardoned and justified, reconciled to God and accepted as righteous in his sight. Our guilt is cancelled, our iniquities are blotted out, and our consciences are appeased. This is indeed so distinguished a part of our salvation, and is so immediately connected with every other part, that the true believer is frequently spoken of as already actually saved. We are saved and called with an holy calling. We are saved by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. We are saved by grace. The grace of God bringeth salvation. The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. The Holy Scriptures are able to make us wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. In these passages, salvation is described as already conferred on us, because the first part of it, the remission of sins, is so ; and because this blessing is united with the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit from wbich faith springs, and leads
on to all the other parts of sanctification, by which salvation is to be completed.
There are VARIOUS MEANS which God has appointed for carrying on the salvation thus begun, and for perfecting it in the full felicity and purity of body and soul in heaven. These methods are of two sorts. The one may be said to be in the hands of God, the other in our own. Those in the hands of God are the events of his providence, and the communications of his Spirit; those in ours are watchfulness, mortification, and prayer, with all the other graces and duties of the Christian life. These several means tend to advance the final salvation of the true penitent, to give him the peace which flows from justification, to deliver him more and more from sin, to guard him from temptation, to make him a partaker of God's holiness, to increase his love to Christ, his separation from the world, bis humility and his joy.
Salvation, in its comprehensive sense, is thus a progressive work, always defective in this world, and only perfected when every sin in the heart and life shall be destroyed, when all its consequences shall be removed, and the work, which was begun by the gift of pardon in the blood of Christ, and the regeneration of the Holy Ghost, shall be completed in the full fruition of God in heaven. It is in this way that men are - saved: Justification and sanctification are