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I also (faith he in the 4th Verse) might have confidence in the Flesh. If any other Man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the Flesh, I
As if he had said, Think not, O Philippians, that I therefore speak lightly of those Privileges and Advantages, which the Jews among you so much boast of, upon this Ac, count, because I have none of them myself: No, on the contrary, if I would value myself upon such outward carnal Things, F have as much Reason as any. Nay, there is not a Jew among you, that, perhaps, can say so much on his own behalf, in this respect, as I
For (as he goes on in the 5th and 6th Verses) I was 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 Righteousnes which is by the Law, blameleß.
That is to fay; I have not only the Character of a Son of Abraham upon me, being Circumcised; but I am also of the Race of Ifrael, which all the Circumcised Children of Abraham are not.
Nay, further, I am an Israelite of the Tribe of Benjamin ; that Benjamin which our Father Ifrael so dearly loved, and of that Tribe, which, together with Judah, kept firm to the House of David, and the true Religion, when the other Ten Tribes revolted.
Nay, more, I am an Hebrew of the Hebrews : Not sprung from Proselytes, as many among
you are, but all my Ancestors, both by Father and Mother, being natural born Jews.
And then, as to my Profession in Religion, it was the strictest among the Jews ; for I was a Pharisee. And you all know, that Śect of all others to be the most eminent for the Reputation of Preciseness and San&ity..
Neither did I in my Zeal for the Law of Moses come short of the strictest Pharisee that is among you ; for who was more busie, more eager, more violent in persecuting Christianity, than I was?
And lastly, To sum up all, As to the Righteousnes which is by the Law, I am blameleß. So punctual have I always been, in observing the Precepts of Moses his Law, that none can reprove me in that Point; but I may truly, in the Jewish Ņotion of Righteousnes, be accounted a Righteous Person.
But now, am I much the better for all these Things ? Have I any great Reason to glory upon the Account of them? No, verily, (as he goes on in the 7th Verse) but what Things were Gain to me, those I counted Loss for Christ. All these outward Advantages, my Birth, my Profession, my Sect, my Reputation, my ftri& Way of Living, which might have proved very beneficial to me, in all worldly Respects, when I once came to the Knowledge of the Christian Religion, I despised them all : For in Truth, I found that they were so far from being real Advantages to me, that they were rather Hindrances in the way of Vertue and Piety
Tea, doubtles (as he goes on in the 8th Verfe) I account all Things but Loß for the Excellency of the Knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffer’d the Loß of all Things, and do count them but Dung, that I may win Christ : That is to fay, Not only the above-named Privileges, but all other Things whatsoever, Wealth, Greatness, Fame, Friends, and Life itself, Í account them all very pitiful Things, if they be compared with the inestimable Advantages of being a Christian. As I have once, so I will again readily forsake all, part with all Things that the World holds most dear and valuable, nay, I will trample them under my Feet, like Dirt and Dung ; provided I may obtain the Favour of Christ.
And (as he goes on in the 9th Verse) that I might be found in him, not having my own Righteoufnes, which is of the Law, but that which is by the Faith of Jesus Christ, the Righteousnes which is of God by Faith. This Passage hath been frequently misunderstood, and interpreted to a Sense, that I believe St. Paul did not think of. St. Paul doth not here oppose an inherent Righteousnes to an imputed one; but an outward, natural, legal, Righteousness to that which is Inward and Spiritual, and wrought in a Man by the Spirit of God. The Righteousness which the Apostle here desires to be found in, is not the Righteousness of Christ made his, or imputed to him ; but a real Righteousness produced in his Soul by the Faith of Jesus Chrift.
The plain Sense of the Verse seems to be this: That which above all Things I desire,
is, To be found in Christ, i.e. To be found a Difciple of his, ingrafted into him by being a Member of his Church; Not having my own Righteousnes which is of the Law, i. e. Not being content with those outward Privileges, and that outward Obedience, which by my own natural Strength, I am able to yield to the Precepts of the Law, which is that Righteousness, in which the Jews place their Confidence, and by which they expect to be justified before God; But that which is by the Faith of Jesus Christ, the Righteousneß which is of God by Faith; i. e. That Righteousness which I desire, and in which only I shall have the Confidence to appear before God, is an inward Principle of Holiness; that Spiritual renewed Obedience to God's Laws, which he doth require as the Condition of his Favour and Acceptance, and which I can never attain to, but by the Faith of Christ; by becoming a Christian: This is none of my own Righteousness but God's, ic being wrought in me by his Spirit, accompanying the Preaching of the Gospel ; and as it is his Gift, so he will own it, and reward it at the last Day.
This is the full Importance of that Verse, and then it follows by way of Explication of what he now faid, That I may know him, and the Power of his Resurrection, &c. This is the Righteousness that I aspire after, that I may know Chrift, not only by a Notional Belief of his Doctrines, or Profession of his Religion, but by a Spiritual experimental Knowledge of him, such a Knowledge as transforms me into his Spirit and Temper; And that I may know the Power of his Resurrection, i. e. that I may Experience in my self all the good Effects, that his Resurrection has a power to work in me; that I may feel the Vertue and Efficacy of it, in my daily dying to Sin, and rising again to a New, Holy, and Heavenly Life. This is that Righteousneß I long for, and in comparison of which, I account all Things in the World but as Loß, and as Dung.
Thus have I given you a full Account of the Text, and all the Apostle's Discourse that it depends upon. I come now to treat more pårticularly of it, with Reference to the Solemnity of this Day:
We all here present do profess to believe the Article of our Saviour's Resurrection, and our Business, at this Time, is to celebrate the Memory of it. But we must not rest here. We are not to look upon our Lord's Resurrection merely as a Thing to be believed, or professed, or commemorated; or as a matter of fact, that only concerned himself : But there is a great deal in it, which doth nearly concern us. The Apostle tells us, there is a great Power in it; even a Power of raising us from Sin to a Holy and Vertuous Life. It is fo ordered, as to be capable of being, and it ought to be, a Principle of New Life in us, as it was the beginning of a New Life in our Saviour. Now this Vertue, this Power, this Efficacy of it, as it is that which, with the Apostle, we ought all most earnestly to endeavour the experiencing in ourselves; so it is that which will be fittelt