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(The Sermons numbered 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, and 20, were
never before published.]
MANKIND UNIVERSALLY APT TO TRUST IN THEIR
PHILIPPIANS, iii. 4-9.
If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in
the flesh, I more : circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee ; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain, to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Tea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
THE two leading points of St. Paul's ministry were, the fall of man, with its nature and extent, and the gracious recovery by Christ. He was indefatigable in his attempts to convince mankind of these, that so their lofty looks might be brought low, and the Lord alone exalted. These sentiments appeared to him of great importance; hence it was that he embraced every favourable opportunity to propagate them. To this he was greatly excited by his own experience of a deep-rooted enmity to Christ, and an aptness to trust in the flesh. A temper of mind which he knew to be not only inveterate, but universal ; fallen human nature being the same in every age and nation ; against which the gospel of the grace of God is the only sovereign antidote. Sensible of this, when our apostle visited Philippi, a city of Macedonia, he made Christ and him crucified the subject of his ministry; and had this for his comfort, that many of the Philippians became obedient to the faith. These were incorporated into the gospel church state; and were happy for a time in the enjoyment of the special privileges of the church of Christ. But after St, Paul's departure, grievous wolves entered in, not sparing the flock; men of corrupt minds, who tried to draw away disciples after them. The apostle received the sorrowful tidings, and wrote them this epistle by the hand of Epaphroditus, who was a messenger from the saints at Philippi to him while confined at Rome; and had ministered to his wants. Its contents are various and useful, but come not under our consideration at present, except so far as they are connected with the text,
* Published by desire of the hearers, 1769.
In the first verse of this chapter he assures the Philippians that it was far from being grievous to him, and would be safe for them, to repeat the same things in writing, that had been the subjects of his personal ministry among them. And for this there was at that time a special necessity, arising from the endeavours of false teachers to pervert his gospel ; by leading them to the observance of circumcision, and other Jewish rites, in order to acceptance with God. These men
he treats with a degree of just severity. Verse 2. Beware of dogs.-"St. Paul here very properly calls the false teachers dogs, because as dogs, they did rend and tear the simplicity of the gospel, and divided the glory of man's salvation be. tween faith and works ; because as dogs, they barked out reproaches against the apostles and their doctrine, delivered in its native purity and simplicity. And as dogs they were without ; and as fierce dogs, they laboured to devour.
Beware of evil workers. A sentence farther de. scriptive of the same persons, who wrought not with St. Paul, but against him; and endeavoured to pull down what he had carefully built up. Between whom there was this important difference: Paul built on Christ, as the sure foundation which God had laid ; they built on Moses. Paul taught, that if any man was circumcised, he be. came a debtor to do the whole law, and that by the deeds of the law no flesh could be justified; they taught that it was necessary to be circumcised and to keep the law, in order to justification. Paul was under the influence of the Spirit of God; they were led away by a spirit of error and delusion. It is added,
Beware of the concision. A name which the apostle seems here to give to circumcision, by way of disapprobation; and as expressive of the injury which the church of Christ might receive from these men, who endeavoured to perpetuate that rite, with the whole law of ceremonies
; thereby cutting themselves off, and those that adhered to them, as far as they could, from Christ, and the way of life through him. For Christ is
* Dr. Smith's Annotations in loc.