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ing the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” He here means that excellent and amiable thing which we commonly call good morality. But what then? Did he desire to be found resting in that for his Salvation, when he should appear before God? Through the grace of God he knew that he was a sinner and laden with guilt upon guilt, which was not to be cleansed by the discharge of any outward duties whatever. Therefore he scruples not, in this light, to count all these “ things but dung, that he might win Christ, and be found in him.”

Brethren, we need to be thus stripped of selfrighteousness, made inwardly humble, and brought to Christ alone for salvation. At the same time we shall feel that our obligations to obedience are not, in the smallest degree, relaxed. Indeed we CANNOT practise true obedience till we learn from Christ to call ourselves unprofitable servants, and to look to him for righteousness * and for strength,

be accepted in the Beloved, and attain at last the happy resurrection of the dead. This is the Christian article of justification by faith, so strongly described and exemplified by St. Paul. Oh! may we all follow him in his faith and patience. Many who profess to be religious, neither seem to feel their own unworthiness, nor the excellency of Christ. They are far from having attained the simplicity and purity of Christian faith. Indeed the whole divine life is so contrary to nature, that it requires constant influence from above to maintain it. And the best proficients in it, are far from being so complete as they wish. I have no idea of any

* Rom. X. 4. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,


that we may


mere man being superior to St. Paul, in the divine life, in that or in any age; and yet how modestly does he speak of himself in the Text. “ Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”

The words give us a description, not only of a Christian, but of a Christian in a very thriving state; for he says, a little after, “let as many as be perfect, be thus minded.”. And he proposes himself to the people as an example. Compared then with others, and considered as a Father in Christ, and an established Christian, he was at that time a perfect man. But if perfection beunderstood in the strict and exact sense of the words, he tells us in the Text he was far from it. He had “not yet attained, he was not perfect.” In what sense he was perfect, and in what imperfect, is not hard to understand, if we attend. to the Scriptural meaning of these words.

He had a sincere love of God, even that perfect love which casteth out fear, as St. John speaks. So has every sincere Christian in the world. All true Converts love God; and when they have been long established in their holy faith and love, they are called Fathers * in Christ. But, alas ! they still -feel how low and poor their attainments are. The prospect before them is so vast; and they find they are so far from loving their God as theỹ ought, that, with St. Paul, they feel it their duty to do this one thing; namely, to forget those things that are behind, and to reach forth unto those things that are before 1. “I am following after,” says he, "to


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1 John ii. 13. + Philip. iü. 13.


apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus." He knew Christ had first apprehended or taken hold of him, to make him a child of God, an heir of glory, a partaker of his own fulness. What a large view is comprehended in this thought ! What is that, for which Christ apprehends a sinner; but to save, and sanctify, and bless him with all spiritual blessings in himself for ever?

Paul sees that his Salvation will be complete at the resurrection, and not till then. He will at that day, body and soul, be presented before God completely and exactly perfected. How is it that Christians do not so simply look at the resurrection and day of judgment now as the first Christians did ? We should not, Brethren, be fancying that, in this life, there exists, in any sense, some imaginary point or moment, of complete happiness. Doubtless, we ought to prize much and seek diligently what is to be attained here ; but I would to God I knew how to make real Christians feel that it is both their duty and their privilege to look above and beyond all this, to the resurrection, to the PRIZE of their high calling * Then would they thrive and grow indeed, and have the world under their feet. Remember, Christ has apprehended you for this purpose, that you should obtain, after death, the prize of a happy and glorious resurrection. This consideration should be very familiar to your meditations; it should refresh your drooping spirits; it should invigorate all your religious resolutions. If believers think little of this, and permit their religious thoughts to run only.on present attainments, they are not likely to be growing

Philip, üi. 14.

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Christians. St. Paul sees for what Christ has apprehended him, and what a glorious state is in reserve for him.

He follows on to apprehend as much of it, by way of foretaste, as he can in this life, sensible always how little he has attained, and longing and labouring for perfection in iheaven. He, whom death shall find thus employed, is not only a TRUE, but an ESTABLISHED Christian, and none of his sins or imperfections shall be imputed to him. The blood of Jesus covers all; for he is found in him, not in his own righteousness, and he walks in the way which God has appointed, and which leads to heaven.

To finish the explanation of the Text. You have, in this true servant of God, an instructive example of a thriving Christian. St. Paul is conscious that Christ has apprehended him; he knows for certain he has apprehended him, yet he follows after to attain *; fully sensible that he is very imperfect at present; but he continues doing this one thing as the business of life, even looking steadily to heaven, to Jesus sitting at the right hand of God, to the resurrection of the just, and to a happy and glorious immortality.

From the view of the Apostle's frame of heart, thus illustrated, some useful caution and advice may be given; first, to thriving Christians ; secondly, to lukewarm, careless, or presumptuous professors of religion; and, thirdly, to irreligious and pro

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fane persons.

1. Thriving Christians may hence derive encouragement and salutary advice. Your knowledge,

Philip.iii. 10, 11, 12.—These verses explain what the things were, which St. Paul was striving to know and to attain unto.

Brethren, of your own heart; your care and watchfulness against sin ; your earnest desire to please God; joined with the experience of your daily imperfections, will be apt to cast you down, if you

be not fortified with just views of the grace of God, and your privileges and real situation as his children. This evil is more to be feared when the malice and subtilty of Satan's devices are taken into the account, against which you are not always sufficiently on your guard. I never knew a serious Christian, but he was disposed to think, that after a course of years

he would have been further advanced in holiness than he actually finds himself to be. The fact is, he is, as before, still a sinner: He follows after : He strives : He has an idea of apprehending that for which Christ has apprehended him : Sometimes he seems just on the point of having attained it; he seems to be filled with all the fulness of God, and swallowed


with divine love. But,-so it is ;his brightest attainment, even the precious heaven of communion with Christ, is often taken out of his sight, just when he is going to enter, as it were, into full possession. This is his experience through life, so that he never completely hits the mark at which he aims. The flesh weighs him down; some ensnaring temptation intervenes ; his sun is clouded; his faith, when strongest, is liable to be assaulted ; his hope, when most cheerful and lively, is damped from time to time; and his love has its weaknesses, its declensions, and variations. The flesh mixes itself so continually with all his best experiences and exercises, that no dispositions, no frames, no works whatever, even the very best of them, in his best state on earth, are, properly speaking, perfect.

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