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him to God. He gave diligence that he might be found in Christ, not having on his own righteousness, which is of God, through faith, as in the foregoing part of the chapter from which the text is taken, beginning with the fourth verse.
Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh 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. Yea, 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. That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death, if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 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."
Fifthly. In those earnest labours which he performed, he had respect to the recompense of the reward. Ile did it for an incorruptible crown. 1 Corinthians ix. 25.
1 Corinthians ix. 25. He sought a high degree of glory, for he knew the more he laboured, the more he should be rewarded, as appears from what he tells the Corinthians. He that soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully." And 1 Corinthians iii. 8. “ Every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour.” That he had respect to that crown of glory, which his Master had promised, in those great labours and sufferings, is evident from what he says to Timothy, a little before his death, 2 Timothy iv. 7, 8. “I
" have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." All Christians should follow his example in this also; they should not content themselves with the thought, that they have goodness enough to carry them to heaven, but should earnestly seek high degrees of glory; for the higher degrees of glory are promised to extraordinary labours for God, for no other reason, but that we should seek them.
2. I proceed to mention some of the virtues of Paul, that more immediately respect God and Christ, in which we ought to follow his example.
First. He was strong in faith. It may be truly said of him that he lived by faith. His faith seemed to be even without the least appearance of diffidence or doubt in his words or actions, but all seemed to proclaim, that he had God and Christ and the invisible world continually in view. Such a faith, that was in continual exercise in him, he professes, in 2 Corinthians v. 6, 7, 8.
. “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight; we are confident I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." He always speaks of God and Christ and things invisible and future, as if be certainly knew them, and then saw them as fully and certainly, as we see any thing that is immediately before our budily eyes. He spoke as though he certainly knew, that God's promise of eternal life should be accomplished, and gives this as the reason why he laboured so abundantly, and endured all manner of temporal sufferings and death, and was always delivered unto death for Christ's sake. 2 Corinthians iv. 11, &c. “For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh." He speaks of his earnest expectation and hope of the fulfilment of God's promises. And a little before his death, when he was a prisoner, and when he knew that he was like to bear the trial of martyrdom, which is the greatest trial of faith, he expresses his faith in Christ in the strongest terms. 2 Timothy i. 12. “ For tbe which cause l also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto hin against that day.” Such an example may well make us ashamed ; for how weak and unsteady is the faith of most Christians! If now and then there seems to be a lively exercise of faith, giving the person at that time a firin persuasion and confidence ; yet how short are such exercises, how soon do they vanish! How often is faith shaken with one temptation ; how often are the exercises of it interrupted with doubting, and how much is exhibited of a diffident, vibrating spirit! How little does our faith accomplish in times of trial; how often and how easily is our confidence in God shaken and interrupted, and how frequently does unbelief prevail! This is much to the dishonour of our Saviour Jesus Christ, as well as very painful to us. What a happy and glorious lot it is to live such a life of faith, as Paul lived! How far did he soar on the wings of his strong faith above those little difficulties, that contiually molest us, and are ready to overcome us! Seeing we have VOL. VIII.
such a blessed example set before as in the scriptures, let it prompt us earnestly to seek, that we may soar higher also.
Secondly. Another virtue in which we should follow his example, is his great love to Christ. The Corinthians, who saw how the apostle acted, how he laboured, and how he suffered, and could see no worldly motive, were astonished. They wondered what it was, that so wonderfully influenced and actuated the man. The aposile says, that he was a spectacle to the world. But this was the immediate principle, that moved him; his strong, his intense love to his glorious Lord and Master. This love constrained him, that he could do nothing else than strive and labour and seek for his salvation. This account he gives of it himself. 2. Corinthians v. 14. “The love of Christ constraineth us." He had such a delight in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the knowledge and contemplation of him, that he tells us, he “counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus." He speaks in very positive terms. He does not say merely, that he hopes he loves Christ, so as to despise other things in comparison of the knowledge of him; but "yea, doubtless, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord.” And he assigns this reason why he even gloried in his sufferings for Christ's sake; because the love of God was shed abroad in his heart, by the Holy Ghost. Romans v. 5. This expression seems to imply that he sensibly felt that holy affection, sweetly and powerfully diffused in his soul, like some precious, fragrant ointment. And how does he triumph in his love to Christ in the midst of his sufferings ! Romans viji. 35, 36, 37. “ Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword ? As it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay in all these things, we are inore than conquerors through him, that hath loved us.' May not this make us ashamed of our cold, dead hearts, that we hear so often of Christ, and of his glorious excellencies and his wonderful love, with so little emotion, our hearts being very commonly frozen up like a clod of earth by worldly affections. And it may be that now and then with much difficulty we persuade ourselves to do a little, or expend a little for the advancement of Christ's kingdom; and then are ready to boast of it, that we have done so nobly. Such superior examples as we have are enough to make us for ever blush for our own attainments in the love of Christ, and rouse us earnestly to follow after those who have gone so far beyond us.
Thirdly. The apostle lived in a day when Christianity was greatly despised; yet he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Christians were every where despised by the great men of the world.
Almost all those that made any figure in the world, inen in honourable stations, men of learning, and men of wealth, despised Christianity, and accounted it a mean, contemptible thing to be a Christian, a follower and worshipper of a poor, crucified man. To be a Christian was regarded as what ruined a man's reputation. Christians were every where looked upon as fools, and were derided and mocked. They were the meanest of mankind, the offscouring of the world. This was a great teinptation to Christians to be ashamed of the gospel. And the apostle Paul was more especially in such circumstances, as exposed him to this temptation. For before he was a Christian, he was in great reputation
among his own countrymen. He was esteemed a young man of more than ordinary proficiency in learning, and was a man of high distinction among the Pharisees, a class of men of the first standing among the Jews. In times when religion is much despised, great men are more ready to be ashamed of it than others. Many of the great seem to think, that to appear religious men would make them look little. They do not know how to comply with showing a devout spirit, a spirit of supreme love to God, and a strict regard to God's commands. But yet the apostle was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ any where, or before any person.
He was not ashamed of it among his own countrymen, the Jews, before their rulers and scribes, and great men, but ever boldly professed it, and confronted them in their opposition. When he was at Athens, the chief seat of learning and of learned men in the world, though the learned men and philosophers there despised bis doctrine, and called him a babbler for preaching the gospel; yet he felt no shame, but boldly disputed with and confounded those great philosophers, and converted some of them. And when he came to Rome, the metropolis and mistress of the world, where resided the Emperor, and Senators, and the chief rulers of the world, he was not ashamed of the gospel there.
He tells the Romans ; “ I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." The apostle was greatly derided and despised for preaching a crucified Jesus. 1 Corinthians iv. 13. “ We are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.". And in the tenth verse he says, “ We are fools for Christ's sake." They were every where accounted and called fools. Yet the apostle was so far from being ashamed of the crucified Jesus, that he gloried in him above all things. Galatians vi. 14. “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." Here is an example for us to follow, if at any time we fall in among those who hold religion in contempt, and will despise us for our pretensions to reli
gion, and will be ready to deride us for being so precise, and look upon us as fools ; that we may not be ashamed of religion, and yield to sinful compliances with vain and loose persons, lest we should appear singular, and be looked upon as ridiculous. Such a meanness of spirit possesses inany persons, who are not worthy to be called Christians; and are such as Christ will be ashamed of when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
Fourthly. Another virtae in which we ought to follow the apostle, was his contempt of the world, and his heavenly-mindedness. He contemned all the vain enjoyments of the world. He despised its riches. Acts xx. 33. “ I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.” He despised the pleasures of the world. under my body." The apostle's pleasures were in the sufferings of his body, instead of the gratification of its carnal appetites. 2 Corinthians xii. 10. “ Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake.” He despised the honours of the world. 1 Thessalonians ii. 6. “Nor of men sought we glory; neither of you, nor yet of others.” He declares that the world was crucified unto him, and be unto the world. These were not the things that the apostle sought, but the things that were above, that were out of sight to other men. 2 Corinthians iv. 18. " While we look not at the things, which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.” He longed greatly after heaven. 2 Corinthians v. 4. " For we that are in this tabernacle, do groan being burdened ; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up in life." And he tells us, that he knew no man after the flesh; that is, he did not look upon the men or things of this world, or regard them as related to the world, or as they respected the present life; but he considered all men and all things as they had relation to a spiritual nature, and to another world. In this the apostle acted as becomes a Christian; for Christians, those that are indeed so, are people that belong not to this world, and therefore, it is very unbecoming in them to have their minds taken up about these things. The example of Paul may make all such persons ashamed, who have their minds chiefly occupied about the things of the world, about gaining estates, or acquiring honours; and yet would be accounted fellow-disciples with the apostle, partakers of the same labours, aud fellow-heirs of the same heavenly inheritance. And it should prompt us to strive for more indifference to the world, and for more heavenly miudedness.
Fifthly. We ought also to follow the example of the apostle in his abounding in prayer and praise. He was very earnest, and greatly engaged in those duties, and continued in them, as appears from many passages. Romans i. 8. - First I thank my