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Lecture on Philippians 4 17-23

Lecture on Philippians 4 17-23

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CHAPTER IV. 17—23.

CHAPTER IV. 17—23.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Aug 14, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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LECTURE O PHILIPPIAS 4 17-23BY MATO EASTBUR, M. A.CHAPTER IV. 17—23.ot because I desire a gift : but I desire fruit that may aboundto your account. But I have all, and abound : I am full,having- received of Epaphroditus the things which were sentfrom, you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable,well-pleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your needaccording to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. ow untoGod and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which arewith me greet you. All the saints salute you, chiefly they thatare of Cesar''s household. The grace of our Lord JesusChrist be with you all. Amen.The continuance of his allusions to the bounty of his Phi-Uppian brethren, and the expression of his aflfectionate wishesfor their welfare, occupy these concluding verses of the Apos-Je's letter. At the first sight of those brief valedictory ex-preseions which are here uttered, you might be disposed toimagine that there was nothing in them requiring any parti-cular attention ; as being only the customary forms of civilitybetween friend and friend. There is something, however,even in the ordinary courtesies of a real Christian, which isEPISTLE TO THE PHTLIPPIAS. 235marked and peculiar ; and so eminently is this the fact inregard to the saints of the ew Testament, that they affordus instruction while speaking of topics, in themselves themost trivial and uninteresting. You will perceive the truthof this observation, by following St. Paul through that closingportion of his Epistle, on which your meditations are this
morning to be employed.In some of the verses preceding those upon which we nowenter, the Apostle had, as you have seen, been expressing hisgratitude for that plentiful assistance, by which the Philippianshad administered to his wants. He now proceeds to set forththe principal reason, for which he rejoiced in this instance of their goodness ; and states that his joy was derived not fromselfish and interested motives, but from the satisfactory evi-dence which their good works afforded, in the sight of Godand man, that their religion was active and sincere. " otbecause I desire a gift," he declares ; or, as the meaningmight be more exactly expressed, not because the gift sent meis the object upon which my heart is fixed ; " but I desirefruit that may abound to your account :" that is, it is myardent wish that you may exhibit those proofs of faith, whichshall be regarded with pleasure by the Lord, at the day of finalreckoning. The Apostle intends to say, therefore, to hisfriends at Philippi, that " he sought not theirs, but them ;"*but the words before us contain a doctrine of great importance,upon which we may profitably, for a few moments, dwell.St. Paul's expression of a desire, that these Christian brethrenmight manifest such deeds of benevolence, as would redoundto their advantage at the consummation of all things, implies? II. Cor. xii. 14.236 LECTURES O THE tLECT. XVIH.very clearly one truth : that the good works of the beUever,though not in the least meritorious of salvation, yet, as beingthe fruits and evidences of a hving faith in the Lord JesusChrist, are received with acceptance by our heavenly Father.This position is asserted as plainly as possible in the versewhich follows. " But I have all," declares the Apostle, " andabound : I am full, having received of Epaphroditus thethings which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell,a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God." Allusion is here
made, as you observe, to the offerings under the law ; and thewords of St. Paul convey the idea, that those acts of love tothe brethren which spring from a spiritual principle within,rise as a grateful oblation to the Lord Almighty. Declarationsof a similar import, and also in similar language, are found inother parts of the ew Testament volume. " To do good,and to communicate," says the Apostle to the Hebrews, " for-get not : for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."* " Yealso," says St. Peter, " as lively stones, are built up a spiritualhouse, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, ac-ceptable to God by Jesus Christ."!There are two cardinal errors, my brethren, into one or theother of which, through the corruption of the human heart,men have ever been seen to fall. They have either, in thespirit of pride and self-righteousness, ascribed merit and efii-cacy to the mere performance of deeds of charity, and acts of outward virtue ; thus completely rendering void that atoningsacrifice of Christ, whereby alone the sinner can be restoredto favor : or, on the other hand, under the pretence of magni-fying the free grace of God, they have wickedly denied the* Heb. xiii. 16. t I. Pet. li. 5.CHAP. IV. 17—23.] EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIAS. 237necessity of any fruits of holiness ; and abused the doctrineof the Redeemer's all- sufficiency, to the encouragement eitherof licentiousness of practice, or of a career marked by noactive deeds of benevolence and love. To neither of thesecapital heresies, does the language of the Apostle afford theleast degree of countenance ; but, avoiding the opposite ex-tremes of antinomianism, and legal justification, declares thatthe Lord of mercy beholds with satisfaction those good works,w^hich are the offspring of a lively and vigorous faith im-planted by divine grace within the heart. These fruits in theconduct God imperiously requires, as being the only legitimateproof of genuine religion. He smiles upon them with joy.

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