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so they render his epistles pecu- might make still greater progress
Among other peculiarities of his more, in knowledge and in all judgmanner, it especially suits our pre- ment; that ye may approve things sent purpose to notice the animated that are excellent; that ye may be glow of joy and affection, with which sincere and without offence, till the he addresses his Christian brethren. day of Christ; being filled with all -Thus, when writing to the Phi- the fruits of righteousness, which lippians, he abruptly breaks forth, are by Jesus Christ unto the praise “I thank my God upon every re- and glory of God.” Phil. i. 8—11. membrance of you; always in every And in the subsequent parts of the prayer of mine for you all, making epistle, he very copiously and parequest with joy." From the same thetically exhorts them to follow fulness of heart he afterwards adds, after all those very things, for Many walk, of whom I have told which he had most fervently prayyou often, and now tell you, even ed in their behalf. weeping, that they are enemies to These remarks on the writings the cross of Christ; whose end is de- of St. Paul may suggest some restruction, whose god is their belly, flections, which are suited to introand whose glory is in their shame; duce the subject of this treatise. who mind earthly things." Phil. A great part of that confusion, iii. 18, 19. which pervades the discourses of There are, alas! too many pro- many persons on religious topics, fessors of the gospel in most places, arises from inattention to the dif whose conduct would constrain a ferent characters of those, concernbeliever of far less gracious sensi-ing whom the sacred writers speak, bility than holy Paul, to weep at or to whom they address their inevery recollection of them; but structions. In all endeavours to there are others also, on whose ac- do good to the souls of men, it is count we ought to "bless God especially necessary, that we“ rightwithout ceasing, whilst we remem-ly divide the word of truth;" and ber their work of faith, and labour apply it to the hearts and consciof love, and patience of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thess. i. 3. Every faithful and affectionate pastor, therefore, will find cause for alternate sorrow and joy, whilst he reflects on the people among whom he hath been called to labour.
ences of the persons addressed, according to their various characters and situations: for the portion which suits one man may be as improper for another, as the same medicine is for persons labouring under diseases of a contrary nature. If thereBut, while the apostle saw great fore the wise attention of the sacred cause for thankfulness on account writers to this important concern of what the Lord had done for the be overlooked by their readers; Philippians, yet he was equally dis- there will be the greatest reason to posed to pray for them continually; fear, lest they should wrest even not only, lest they should decline the words of inspiration to their in zeal and diligence; but that they own destruction.
Every man, who will take the tachment to the same doctrines, the pains to examine, must be convinced, ministers of Christ should now also that the apostles addressed them- exhort those, whom, with heartfelt selves to ignorant idolaters, careless satisfaction, they regard as true besinners, bigoted Jews, proud Pha- lievers, to follow after every branch risees, profane scoffers, or hypo- of that holiness, which the apostles critical abusers of the gospel, in a most pathetically recommended to manner adapted to their several their beloved children; and ascases; that they employed very suredly we sin against the Lord if different language, and used far we cease to pray for them in the other topics, when they were in- same style and manner. structing serious inquirers, encou- The ensuing treatise being esperaging broken-hearted penitents, or cially intended for the benefit of restoring, in the spirit of meek- those, who make a creditable and ness," such as "had been overtaken explicit profession of the peculiar in a fault:" and that they brought doctrines of the gospel, nothing will forward instructions and exhorta- be spoken of those doctrines, in a tions of a different nature, when way of controversy or explanation; they wrote to establish believers, and very little addressed to such or to those who had newly embraced as do not believe them. The parthe gospel, and were full of zeal, ticular subject of inquiry will be, in but in danger of being misled by what that growth in grace, and profalse teachers, or drawn aside by gress in the divine life consists, to manifold temptations. which the apostles so strenuously It is, therefore, evident, that the and repeatedly exhort their Chrisexhortations of the apostles, and tian brethren? and on what account their prayers for the progress of they were so earnest about these their people in all holy affections things, with those of whose converand conduct, are entirely consistent sion and salvation they had the with the doctrines of grace, for fullest confidence? But as it is purwhich they in other parts most zeal-posed to consider both the exhortaously contend: seeing they have tions and prayers of the sacred an exclusive reference to persons, writers, especially those of the who, "having been justified by apostolical epistles, it will be refaith, had peace with God through quisite to make a few more introour Lord Jesus Christ;"" in whom ductory remarks.
they had redemption through his I. The frequent and fervent blood, even the forgiveness of their prayers, with which the instrucsins, according to the riches of his tions of the inspired writers are ingrace:" for the Lord had "saved terspersed, decidedly prove, that them, and called them with an holy" all holy desires, all good councalling, not according to their own sels, and all just works," are from works, but according to his own God; as our liturgy well expresses purpose and grace given them in it: or, in the still more emphatic Christ Jesus before the world be-language of inspiration, that "every gan;" and the security of the new good gift, and every perfect gift, is covenant engaged to them, that they from above; and cometh down from should "be kept by the power of the Father of lights." Indeed every God, through faith unto salvation." prayer for wisdom, holiness, or abiIn imitation, therefore, of this ex- lity to perform good works, evidently ample, and with a most zealous at- implies, that communications from
the fountain of perfection are neces-are sure to object against every atsary, in order to render us wise or tempt to bring them forward, and holy; that we are warranted to ex- to apply them with energy to the pect such communications, notwith-hearts and consciences of those standing our unworthiness; and who are attached to the doctrines that we ought to desire, apply for, of grace, though without doubt they and depend on them, in all our un- are, as much as these, a part of the dertakings. They, therefore, who" counsel of God;" and as strongly form higher notions of the native marked in Scripture. Many allowpowers, resources, and excellencies ances, indeed, must be made for a of fallen man, must be very incon- variety of prejudices, where the sistent in presenting prayers to this heart appears to be upright: yet it effect; and their religion must be should be remembered, that the prevery different from that of those tended mother consented to have the primitive believers, who expected child divided; whilst the real paevery good gift from the Father of rent in unfeigned affection, rather lights, through Jesus Christ, and chose to risk the loss of her son, than by the supply of his Spirit. From accede to such a proposal. 1 Kings, the fulness of the divine Saviour, iii. 26. When professors are thus they all received; that fulness still disposed to curtail the Scriptures, remains unexhausted and undimi- it may be reasonably suspected that nished; and would we emulate they do not cordially love them; their superior attainments, imitate but he, who from his heart says to their bright examples, or aspire to the Lord, "Thy word is very pure, a large measure of their usefulness, therefore thy servant loveth it," will the way is plainly marked out to us not consent to any such mutilation. in the words of our Lord to his He loves every part of the sacred apostles, "He that abideth in me, volume, because it is all very pure: and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing." John, xv. 5.
and even when he meets with passages, which excite his fears lest he should come short of the promised But the apostles did not deem blessings; he does not reject or prayers in behalf of their brethren turn from them on that account; incompatible with exhortations to but meditates on them, till he bethem, as their constant practice in- comes more watchful, diligent, and controvertibly proves. Many pro- fervent in prayer, and thus finds fessors of the gospel continually that the whole of the word of God, express their astonishment, that" does good to him that walketh their opponents cannot find the doc- uprightly." trines of grace in the sacred ScripII. The exhortations of the apostures and it is indeed a just subject tles were principally addressed to of surprise, for they are written such as they believed to be real there as with a sunbeam. But is Christians, children of God and it not equally so, that any man, heirs of heaven: and their prayers who seems to reverence and to ex-in behalf of these persons especially amine the word of God, should over-related to their spiritual growth and look all the exhortations and admo- proficiency. Hence we may cernitions with which it abounds, as if tainly conclude, that there is somethey had never been written, or as thing in Christianity, both desirable if we had no concern in them? Yet and attainable, besides the present this is actually the case: numbers comfort and the eternal salvation
of the individuals, who have already
Indeed the salvation
of one soul is an object of such An Enumeration of those Particulars,
in which the true Believer's Growth in Grace consists; as far as they are explicitly contained in the Apostle's Prayer for the Philippians.
magnitude, as no temporal interest is worthy to stand in competition with; but the glory of God, in the credit and the success of the gospel, and the everlasting state of immense multitudes, as connected with it, are beyond comparison more im- GROWTH implies the existence of all portant. That selfishness, however, those things, in which an increase which is natural to fallen creatures, is experienced, perceived, or exdoes not yield to any system of pected; so that the persons, for doctrine; unless it be accompanied whom the subsequent discussion is by the renewing influences of the especially intended, are supposed Holy Spirit; but if a person can to possess in some measure all those satisfy himself with the hope of graces or holy dispositions, in which M his own salvation, without any ha- a further growth is represented to bitual regard to the honour of the be highly desirable, and actually gospel, or the eternal interests of attainable. In considering the subother men, he is entirely selfish, ject, it would not perhaps be found and as evidently destitute of the expedient to confine our attention mind and spirit of Christ, as the entirely to any single exhortation man, who, enjoying his own abun- or prayer contained in the sacred dance, cares not how many are writings; or to adhere to the mepinched with want, though even thod, which a strict regard to a suffering through his injustice and system might impose. It is however proposed in this section, to It is the constant aim, and fervent confine our attention to the prayer desire of all the faithful and well which holy Paul offered in behalf instructed ministers of Christ, to of the Philippians: except as other excite the minds of their beloved Scriptures will be adduced in proof people to a generous regard for the or illustration of the several parcredit of the gospel, and a compas- ticulars, which will thus pass under sionate longing after the conversion our consideration. In the subseof sinners: and the design of this quent part of the treatise some other treatise is to concur with their en-subjects will be noticed, which seem deavours for this purpose; and to requisite to complete the design, stir up the pure minds of believers, but are not conveniently reducible by way of remembrance;" in to any of the clauses of this comhopes that thus they may be in- prehensive text. Phil. i. 9-11. duced and directed to "let their I would only further premise, that light shine more abundantly be- the prayers offered by the sacred fore men; that they may see their writers, when under the immediate good works, and glorify our Father influence of the divine Spirit, are who is in heaven:" Matt. v. 15, peculiarly suited to show us the or, in other words, "to grow in real nature of that proficiency in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."To him be glory, now and for ever.
genuine Christianity, which their
benevolent and zealous minds so
ardently longed to behold in their beloved people, as above all things
conducive to their true prosperity, [sably necessary: but when the ediand the glory of their God and Sa- fice is completed, it is taken down viour. And in some respects they as an encumbrance. Thus faith may perhaps be more adapted to will be lost in sight, and hope swalproduce conviction in every mind, lowed up in enjoyment, when love than exhortations or precepts can shall be brought to perfection; but be: because they convey the same love will remain for ever, the teminstruction more inoffensively: with per, employment, and happiness of less appearance of assuming autho-heaven itself. Love is indeed that rity, and with more conciliating de- distinguishing essential of true remonstrations of affection and good ligion,
"Which hypocrites could ne'er attain, Which false professors never knew;"
I. "This," says the apostle, "1 pray, that your LOVE may abound for " every one that loveth is born yet more and more." He does not of God." This cannot mean that restrict the meaning of the term sinful men are in every sense, incaused by him; and it is therefore pable of love: but only, that they proper to give the largest scope to cannot exercise that affection in a the subject, of which it is capable. holy manner according to the reaThe holy Scriptures speak of love in sonable law of God. For love is the most exalted terms: "Love is the ruling passion of the soul, and of God: and every one that loveth gives the direction to all the rest: is born of God and knoweth God: but in our present disordered state, he that loveth not, knoweth not it is become incapable of fixing on God, for God is LOVE." He that its proper objects, and is, theredwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, fore, prostituted to such as are and God in him." "Love is the worthless or abominable.
fulfilling of the law." "The end holy heart cannot love holiness; of the commandment," or the reve-" the carnal mind is enmity against lation made by the Lord to sinful God," and cannot be subject to his men, "is love, out of a pure heart, holy law, or view with delight any and of a good conscience, and of object that bears his image. Some faith unfeigned." (Tapayyeλias, 1 kind of gratitude may be felt or maTim. i. 5.) "Nothing availeth in nifested by an unregenerate sinner, Christ Jesus, but faith, which work-when his inclinations are gratified, eth by love." "And now abideth when impending danger is averted, faith, hope, love, these three; but or when he presumptuously deems the greatest of these is love." Faith himself an heir of salvation; and he alone justifies the sinner, by form- may have an instinctive benevolence ing his relation to Christ; and by towards men, without any suitable faith alone can a man receive all regard to God.
needful grace from his fulness: Yet these do not constitute that hope of eternal glory, grounded on love, of which the apostles spoke God's promises, and sealed by the in such exalted terms: though grasanctification of the Holy Spirit, is titude and benevolence, when they the anchor of the soul, and the hel- spring from proper principles, and met of salvation: but LOVE is the connect with other holy affections, substance of that holiness and feli- may be ranked among the most imcity to which we are recovered, portant of its exercises. But the through the efficacy of faith and holy character of God, with all that hope. The scaffolding is indispen- immediately relates to him, or bears