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more appropriate term would be meal-offering, or as the French neatly express it, “le gâteau.” Again, peaceoffering sounds to unlearned ears, as if it were the same as the sin-offering-an offering of atonement, or for making peace. Prosperity-offering, or thank-offering, would be nearer the truth. Perhaps the character of the offering would be well expressed by the name communion-offering, i.e. an offering, in the partaking of which communion was enjoyed, on the ground of the prosperity which the Lord had granted.
1. The TESTIMONY.—"I would put it to your conscience whether it must not be so, that God has a testimony for to-day,' even today. I mean not merely that He bears witness by His servants, both to those general truths which the being of a God, and such a One as He is, and the present fallen state of man necessitate, and to the blessed truths of grace and glory as displayed in the Gospel;—but this rather, that the grace of God vouchsafes to apply, by the Spirit, a word to things as they are; and the Lord thus gives by His servants a present testimony. This supposes neither a new revelation nor any addition to the perfected standard of truth-the Scripture, but only wisdom from on High to see how the written word bears upon things around us, and power to set this forth: but that God has a distinctive, and in some respects, peculiar application of the word of His grace to the passing houris my conscientious conviction. Faith is wanted and faithfulness."
2. HOPE STILL IN GOD." Perplexed oft as to my steps, amid the anarchy around, through want of more singleness of eye within,-yet this is my comfort,. 'I am part of the Bride the Lamb's wife, and I must, therefore, be brought there where His glory requires the presence of the Bride in her perfectness.' Faithful is He who has called, who will also perform. Yet a little while (how little a while !), and I and we shall all appear in His gloryshown out, loved even as He is loved.”
PHILIPPIANS, CHAP. I. 1-7. The object of this paper is to dwell a little on the state of the Church at Philippi, which was such as to furnish joy to the mind of the Apostle; and in doing so to trace its history. In Acts xvi
. the Spirit details to us the work of God in the formation of this Church. The Apostle was fulfilling the work whereunto he had been separated by the Holy Ghost; and it is in connection with his labours at Philippi that the sovereignty of God is manifested, not only as regards the objects of His grace, but also with respect to the locality where He would have His servants labour and His Gospel preached. They were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia. They assayed to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit suffered them not.” Paul had a vision. “There stood a man of Macedonia and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia and help us;" and after he had seen the vision they immediately endeavoured' to go into Macedonia assuredly gathering that the Lord had called them to preach the Gospel unto them. They reached Philippi and abode there certain days; and now we have the proof of the Lord's guidance. He opened the heart of Lydia that she attended to the things spoken of Paul. In this, the first fruit of the Apostle's service here, how simple is the work of divine grace, and how cheering is it to the servant of the Lord to find his hand thus making a way for his own truth. This is how the Word of the Lord finds free course and is glorified. We may hear the truth of God, may find ears ready to listen; but it is the Lord alone can open the heart to receive it. The seed had fallen on good ground and brought forth fruit, as recorded in the case of Lydia and her household. Then we have the conversion of the jailer; and here we have another proof of the wisdom and grace of our God in sending the light of His gospel to the soul of one who from his occupation seemed out of its reach.
Perhaps the last person that even Paul would have thought of, would have been the keeper of the prison. The ways of God in reaching the hearts of His chosen ones display the exceeding riches of His grace. “I am found of them that sought Me not.” The servant of God knows not what may have to be his path, or what may be his sufferings, when his answer to the question, "Who will
go for us?" is, “ Here am I; send me. Paul and Silas were the Lord's; and it was his purpose to give light to the jailer, to him that “sat in darkness and in the shadow of death." The wrath of man was made subservient to His purpose. They were thrown into the inner prison, after having been beaten with many stripes, and given in to the charge of that one who was so soon to know the blessedness of peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The hardness of the jailer's heart was proved, in that he thrust them into the inner prison and made their feet fast in the stocks. But this was his last service to Satan in his kingdom. By the power of God the question is raised in his soul, “What must I do to be saved ?” and God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness, shone in his heart, to give "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." His household, as Lydia's, was also saved. Of such was the kingdom of heaven. We see the goodness of God in giving us so full an account of this part of His Church, and in the Epistle of Paul to them, carrying our thoughts forward. The joy of the Apostle as expressed in ver. 3-5, was not that they, through Him, had been brought to know Christ, but as he writes “for your fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now.” The joy of his heart was in the increase of God.
It may be that he had had little to do in bringing them to the state in which they were; for he had learned that Paul may plant, and Apollos water, but God giveth the increase; and he could say, further, “ so that neither is he that planteth anything, nor he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase;" a humbling lesson for us all! The fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, manifested the grace of Him who guides and feeds His flock, though passing through a barren, trackless wilder
ness. Their hearts could understand the Apostle, when he wrote, “What things were gain to me, I count loss for Christ," etc. His soul had learned that when in Damascus. His sins, thrown on his conscience, so distressed him, that for three days and three nights he did neither eat nor drink. Here he learned the emptiness and goodfor-nothingness of all that he had so zealously contended for. What was the Jewish religion to him? What relief could the blood of bulls and goats furnish? He might have used, once for all, the language of our little hymn
“ Not all the blood of beasts,
On Jewish altars slain,
Or wash away my stain.” “What things were gain to me, I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss . . . and dung,” etc. He himself rejoiced in Christ; and his joy in the Philippians was their fellowship in that. And now, how sweet is that fellowship souls find in the gospel. Our communion is not in sentiments and views, because, on this point, or on that, we see eye to eye, but as the redeemed of the Lord, as those who can unite to sing, “ Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood.” So whatever mars the gospel, will disturb fellowship "What communion hath light with darkness?" Harassed as the Apostle had been by trials and failures, his heart found its joy in turning to the Philippians; and it was because of their abiding fellowship in the gospel. This led to that earnest contention for the faith which characterised them. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in
perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye are all partakers with me of grace.” That soul that knows most fully the value of the gospel of Jesus Christ, whose only rest is under the shelter of the cross, will be the last to dishonour His precious name; the first to maintain His glory. It was not in the power of persecution to turn
away the Philippians from the gospel, to rob their hearts of the joy they had therein. The feeling the Apostle had_None of these things move me ”—was responded to by them. Was he ready not to be bound only, but to die for the name of the Lord Jesus?—so were they. 'Tis wonderful to see what sympathy this happy company had in all the Apostle was engaged in---their full reception of his gospel at the first, their continuance therein, their service to him in communicating to his wants while bearing that gospel to others, proving the value they set on it, and the love they had to him as the Lord's messenger, and lastly, as the prisoner of the Lord. They realised that it was given to them in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake. The day is coming which will try every man's religion of what sort it is. Indeed, the trial has set in; and only those will stand witnesses for God, and witnesses for Christ, who, by His own blessed Spirit, have had their hearts opened to receive Christ, and are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits in heavenly places.”
“When we look up from amid the present confusion and wreck to God - the living God, let us remember, that He who set up at Pentecost, a new arena, in which He proposed to man to have Himself as the One who should reign and rule, is the same God, who is leading on believers now home to the scene where all rule flows from the throne of God and the Lamb. If the kingdom has failed in its subjects-if in their corporate standing they have not owned Him alone, and have owned another (and He therefore has ceased to own them in that position), still to faith there is but one God and one Lord, even as there is but one Spirit; and the kingdom, set up at Pentecost, which failed in the subject, stands in the Head, and in the end will be displayed before all among the faithful. For when we come to the new Jerusalem, the throne is the tbrone of God and the Lamb: and faith owns it to be so now."