Let your moderation be known unto all men ; rather, forbearance , or gentleness. The word ἐπιείκεια (here the neuter adjective is used) is translated "gentleness" in 2 Corinthians 10:1 , where it is attributed to our Lord himself. In the Aristotelian' Ethics' it stands for the temper which contents itself with less than its due, and shrinks from insisting on its strict rights. There is no joy in a narrow selfishness; joy involves an open heart, a generous love. Joy in the Lord tends to make men gentle and mild to others. "Gaudium in Domino," says Bengel, "parit veram aequitatem erga proximum." Unto all men ; heathen as well as Christian. Compare our Lord's word: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." St. Paul would have the heathen say , "See how these Christians love one another." Their mutual love would be the blessed means of drawing fresh converts to the faith. There may possibly be an allusion here to the differences between Euodia and Syntyche; let there be no more disagreements, but rather mutual forbearance. The Lord is at hand . The Aramaic Maranatha ("the Lord cometh") in 1 Corinthians 16:22 seems to imply that these words were current in the Church as a formula of warning, like "Hallelujah" as a set form of praise. The Lord is at hand therefore be not careful to exact your full rights; love is more precious than gold in the treasury of heaven. Comp. James 5:8 , "Be ye also patient,… for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." Others interpret the words, not of the future advent, but of the Lord's present nearness. Comp. Psalms 145:18 , "The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him." But this seems scarcely so appropriate here.
The key-note of the Epistle: holy joy, with its blessed results.
I. THE DUTY OF REJOICING .
1 . The Christian should learn to rejoice always. The word "always" is emphatic. There lies the difficulty, there too lies the blessedness, of rejoicing in the Lord. It is easy to rejoice in moments of excitement, but to rejoice always , in affliction, in pain, in weariness, in disappointment, is difficult indeed. St. Paul had learned the lesson which he teaches—he rejoiced in hardships and in chains.
2 . Christian joy is joy in the Lord. Rejoice in what he did, in what he is, in himself. Rejoice in his incarnation, his holy limb, his sufferings for us, his precious death, his resurrection, his ascension, his perpetual intercession. Rejoice in his humility, his purity, his unselfishness, his holy courage, his love, his gentleness, his sympathy, his power, his glory, his majesty. Rejoice in himself, in spiritual fellowship with him, in his most gracious presence abiding in the Christian heart.
II. THE RESULTS OF HOLY JOY .
1 . Christian joy leads to genuineness and forbearance towards others. He who rejoices in the Lord, happy in that great possession, is not selfish, does not insist eagerly on his own rights, but will give way to others, will be gentle and kind; and that because the Lord is at hand. The Christian who rejoices in the Lord loves his appearing, loves to think on it, to prepare for it. he does not set overmuch store on his earthly rights, in view of the coming of the Lord and the great reward reserved for the faithful servant.
2 . Holy joy dispels anxious care. He who rejoices in the Lord is not disturbed by distracting anxiety about worldly things. Holy joy keeps the mind clear and calm; it concentrates the thoughts upon the great gladness of the presence of the Lord, in comparison with which the objects of worldly pursuit are insignificant indeed. If we are learning to rejoice in him, we shall learn in like measure the difficult lesson to cast all our care upon him, for we shall know that be careth for us.
3 . Inner spiritual joy must express itself in prayer and supplication.
4 . Holy joy implies habitual thanksgiving. "In everything give thanks" is the precept of St. Paul. He illustrates his teaching by his own example: he sang praises unto God in the dungeon at Philippi; his Epistles abound in doxologies, in thanksgivings. he had formed the habit of giving thanks continually; it grew out of that holy joy which filled his soul. Holy joy finds its natural expression in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. The soul which is blessed with that highest joy which is the fruit of the Spirit must give thanks always for all things; for such a one knows by his own happy experience that God maketh all things work together for good to them that love him. Daniel gave thanks in the extremity of peril; Job, in his deep distress: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord."
5 . Holy joy expresses itself in prayer and thanksgiving ; prayer and thanksgiving bring peace. Peace is the fruit of the Spirit, and the Spirit is given in answer to earnest prayer. "My Father will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him." It is the peace of God, the peace which he giveth. It is the peace of Christ, such peace as he had. "Peace I leave with you: my peace I give unto you." It is trustful love and childlike confidence; it implies the blessed consciousness of forgiveness and acceptance with God. The heart in which that peace abideth is not troubled, neither is it afraid. For
1 . The truest, the most abiding joy is joy in the Lord. The best of earthly joys comes from the society of those whom we dearly love. Christian joy springs from fellowship with Christ. Pray for grace to win Christ, to know Christ, to love Christ.
2 . Love, joy, peace, are the fruit of the Spirit; pray for the blessed experience of the working of the Spirit in the heart. "Ask, and ye shall have."
The virtue of forbearance.
"Let your forbearance be known to all men. The Lord is at hand?"
I. THE NATURE OF THIS VIRTUE .
1 . It is the opposite of contention and aggrandizement , rigour and severity.
2 . It is the spirit that enables a man to bear injuries with patience and not to demand all that is rightly his due , for the sake of peace. The apostle corrected the litigios spirit of the Corinthians by asking them, "Why do ye not rather take wrong?" ( 1 Corinthians 6:7 .)
II. THE ADVANTAGES OF THIS VIRTUE .
1 . It contributes greatly to the comfort life and the peace of society. There is always a tendency to friction in the relations of life where the spirit of forbearance does not govern them.
2 . It contributes to the usefullness of Christian people and promotes the glory of God. This true spirit of Christ will give a man great influence with his fellows and will redound to the credit of the gospel.
III. THE REASON TO ENFORCE THIS DUTY . "The Lord is at hand." Let us bear with others, seeing the time is near when we may expect the Lord to hear with us. All our rivalries and disputes ought to disappear in the light of the judgment morning.—T.C.
The life of joy and peace.
Celestial citizenship, "other-worldliness," as it has been called, should have a further issue than the expectation of the advent. It should have practical issues in a life of great peace and joy. It is, therefore, to such a life Paul calls his Philippian converts. Let us look at the interesting details.
I. CELESTIAL CITIZENSHIP CALLS FOR UNITY AND COOPERATION IN THE WORK OF THE LORD . ( Philippians 4:1-3 .) Nothing is so productive of unity as our assurance that we are citizens of the same heaven. Why should compatriots fall out in this distant land? Should we not bury our differences and march forward shoulder to shoulder? Euodias and Syntyche must be of the same mind in the Lord. The workers male and female at Philippi are cordially to co-operate. They ought to be a united band. As heaven overarches us all and unifies the population of the globe, so should the thought of our celestial citizenship make all one. For in heaven there shall be no divisions and vexations. The brotherhood shall never there be broken. For unbroken brotherhood, therefore, we should long and labor here.
II. CHRISTIAN CITIZENSHIP CALLS FOR JOY IN THE LORD AT ALL TIMES . ( Philippians 4:4 .) The art of enjoying life is what Christianity alone can teach us. Man's effort at first was to rejoice apart from God; to eat and enjoy the fruit, no matter what charges God had given. And this idea still haunts mankind. Prodigals and legalists imagine that they can enjoy life most away from the heavenly Father ( Luke 15:11-32 ). But we learn a different lesson in the gospel. We learn that the Father's house is full of " music and dancing;" in other words, heaven is the home of joy—joy, too, that is everlasting. And we realize that in the Lord alone the sources of true and lasting joy are to be found. When we look to him and confide in him, then we come as citizens of heaven to rejoice in him at all times. In seasons of sorrow as well as in seasons of mirth there may be an undertone of celestial joy. Man is called to joy, not to trouble. The art is in going straight to Jesus the infinite Fountain, and in avoiding the broken cisterns that line our way.
III. CELESTIAL CITIZENSHIP BESPEAKS MODERATION . ( Philippians 4:5 .) It ill befits a citizen of heaven to be ostentatious and venturesome to the utmost brink of Christian liberty. Display is not the outcome or issue of a consciousness of our citizenship above. Especially when we live with the abiding persuasion of the Lord's speedy advent, all want of moderation seems out of place. In proportion as we rejoice in the Lord shall we be distinguished by moderation in our life and carriage. If God gives abundance, it is that we may manifest the spirit of moderation and never be the least intoxicated by success. Ostentation must be left to the world.
IV. CELESTIAL CITIZENSHIP CALLS FOR A LIFE WITHOUT CAREFULNESS . ( Philippians 4:6 , Philippians 4:7 .) Just as in heaven the saintly souls keep nothing back from God and so live an unclouded life before him, so ought celestial citizens to live the open life with God here and be correspondingly free from care. And here it may be observed that an old divine has quaintly put our duty as expressed in these verses thus, that we should "be careful for nothing; be prayerful for everything; be thankful for anything." The result of such confidence is peace. "God's peace which passeth all understanding shall keep our hearts and minds," or, as the Revised Version has it, "shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus." Freed from anxious care, why should we not be peaceful?
V. CELESTIAL CITIZENSHIP CALLS UPON US TO LOOK OUT FOR AND THINK UPON THE TRUE , THE HONOURABLE , THE JUST , THE PURE , THE LOVELY , THE GRACIOUS , THE MANLY , AND THE PRAISEFUL . ( Philippians 4:8 .) Now, it is truly wonderful how a joyful Christian spirit will discover upon his path, be it ever so lowly, such food for thought as is sketched for us here. It has been said with great beauty, "If we do but open our hearts at a single point, the spiritual water and blood will find an entrance, will purge our egotism and complete the sacrifice. In this confidence, 'as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing,' we shall go freely on our appointed way, knowing that it may become to us a discipline of God, and that there is no way so beaten but that things true and honest, and just and lovely, may be found in it." The joyful, heaven-centred soul discerns food for meditation where others cannot find it, and moves upward upon a path of increasing light towards "the perfect day."
VI. THE GOD OF PEACE GRANTS FELLOWSHIP TO SUCH CITIZENS . ( Philippians 4:9 .) If we honestly enter upon the joyful, peaceful life of heavenly citizenship, the felt presence of God as the God of peace shall be always with us. Over the peace he has made in our once tempest-tossed hearts he will rejoice with singing, and in his love and fellowship we shall be enabled to rest. The King of the celestial country can keep his citizens company all the time they are here on earth; they are at home with God all their happy days; he takes their burdens from them and soothes them in sorrow and makes them somewhat worthy of their heavenly hopes. With such well-filled minds and hearts may we journey onward towards the fatherland above!—R.M.E.
I. STEADFASTNESS . "Wherefore, my brethren beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my beloved." As in the first chapter our performing our duties as citizens is followed by the exhortation to stand fast, so here our possession of the privileges of heavenly citizens is more formally made the ground of the same exhortation. We are to stand fast so as has been pointed out, i.e. as heavenly citizens. There might be a standing fast against becoming heavenly citizens. And even as heavenly citizens they were to stand fast in the Lord, i.e. within the limits and to the extent prescribed by Christ, and in the strength offered by Christ. But the duty of steadfastness is almost lost sight of in the wealth of epithets of endearment with which it is surrounded. The Philippians were his brethren beloved; he cherished the warmest feelings toward them. They were his longed for; he had in absence a great desire to see them. They were his joy; he had a great delight in their Christian excellences. They were his crown, or wreath of victory round the diadem; they were evidence that he had not run in vain. And, having stated the duty with all brevity, he falls back on the first epithet, as if he had difficulty in breaking away from affectionate expression. Let them not, then, grieve such love by neglecting to stand fast.
II. THE RECONCILIATION OF EUODIA AND SYNTYCHE .
1 . Direct appeal "I exhort Euodia, and I exhort Syntyche, to be of the same mind in the Lord." It is a strange destiny by which the names of these women have been handed down from generation to generation in God's Book, in connection with a difference which existed between them. It is well that our differences are soon forgotten, as even our names will be after we are gone. And yet the record is kept of our differences, as of our names, in God's book of remembrance. It would be a surprise to these women to be thus referred to by name in the apostle's letter, read before the assembled congregation. And so it will be a surprise to us to hear many things in connection with our names read out before the assembled universe. The apostle appeals to each separately, as being both to blame, though not necessarily equally to blame. Their own conscience would tell them how much they were each to blame; and so our conscience , appealed to at the last day, will tell us how much we are each to blame. It would be humbling to these women to have public notice taken of their difference; and so we ought to be humbled now on account of our differences, that we may not be humbled by publicity hereafter. The difference between these women arose from their not being in the Lord in the matter concerned, i.e. not following Christ's leading, not cherishing Christ's spirit. And so it is when we are not true to Christ that differences arise between us. The way in which these women were to be of one mind was by returning to the leading and influence of Christ; and there is no other way in which a reconciliation can be satisfactorily effected.
2 . Assistance of the apostle ' s yokefellow at Philippi solicited. "I beseech thee also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow-workers, whose names are in the book of life." The true yokefellow not being named, we are to understand the one to whom it properly belonged to grant assistance in the work of reconciliation, viz. the minister of the Church at Philippi. Had Paul been present he would have undertaken the work; but, in his absence, it fell to him who was set over the Church and over these women in the Lord, and who was of like spirit with him, to undertake it. The ground on which the apostle was so anxious to have the reconciliation effected was that they were deserving women. And it was satisfactory that, when their names were to go down to all ages in connection with a difference, there was also something to be added which was to their credit. They had labored in the gospel, and in honorable company. That is the testimony that is borne regarding them. The influence of women seems to have been a feature of the Macedonian Churches. At tnessalonica it is said, "Of the chief women not a few." At Beroea, "Many of them believed: also of the Greek women of honorable rank not a few." And in connection with the start of the Philippian Church, it is said, "We spake to the women that were gathered together." "The extant Macedonian inscriptions," says Lightfoot, "seem to assign to the sex a higher social influence than is common among the civilized nations of antiquity. In not a few instances a metronymic takes the place of the usual, patronymic; and in other cases a prominence is given to women which can hardly be accidental. But whether I am right or not in the conjecture that the work of the gospel was in this respect aided by the social condition of Macedonia, the active zeal of the women in this country is a remarkable fact, without a parallel in the apostle's history elsewhere, and only to be compared with their prominence at an early date in the personal ministry of our Lord." We can think of Euodia and Syntyche as of the number of those who assembled at the riverside, It may have been in connection with their work that they differed. The Greek word translated "labored" suggests that, while they strove with each other in a way that was not to their honor, they at the same time strove, as in the games, in the sphere of the gospel. Of the honorable company in which they thus nobly strove, the first was Paul. The next is Clement, whose identity with Clement of Rome is very doubtful. Of the others, the names are not given, but the honorable thing is said regarding them that they, as well as Clement, were Paul's fellow-workers, and that their names are in the book of life. Not known now to men, they are known to God, written among the living in Jerusalem. Their names are in the register of the covenant people kept in the heavenly Jerusalem, and will yet be read out before the assembled universe as among those who have title to all covenant privileges.
III. THE DUTY OF REJOICING . "Rejoice in the Lord alway: again I will say, Rejoice." The apostle takes up the parting address which was broken off at Philippians 2:1 , strengthened here by the addition of "alway," and repeated with emphasis in a form which points to the maximum of deliberation, "Again I will say, Rejoice." All wish to rejoice, but mistakes are made even by Christians as to the object. According to the teaching here, we are to rejoice in the Lord. Or, as Christ says, bringing us back to the pure fount of joy, "Howbeit in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." We are not to rejoice in ourselves, or in any of God's creatures, as though they were the first cause, the primal source of joy. Nay, we are not even to rejoice primarily in works which God may do by us. When one is eminently successful in conversion-work, we say, perhaps not without a feeling of envy, "What a joy must fill that man's soul!" If we were the instrument of converting sinners like him, we think we could rejoice too. But it is to be noted that the most successful laborer in the vineyard is not before the humblest Christian in the deepest source of his joy. What we have all alike to rejoice in is this, that our names are written in heaven; in other words, that we ourselves are the children or people of God, that we have God as our Portion, that he regards us individually with judicial favor and fatherly love. There is thus a very humble, self-excluding element in our joy. The ground of rejoicing in the Lord, for us who were born in sin, is the atoning work of Christ. To atone for sin entailed great sorrow on our Substitute. From eternity having joys most exalted in himself, he endured pains which, considering their cause, were infernal The pains of hell got hold upon him. Think of Gethsemane; think of Calvary. But he never veered a hairbreadth from the purpose of our salvation. He set his face like a flint, and so the work was done, and done for ever. And now, in Christ, God stands in a gracious relation to his people. He has entirely altered their relation to him, from being objects of his regard to being objects of his complacent regard. Double reason, then, have we for rejoicing in God. "O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me." Ours, then, should be a deep and a perennial joy. Even under depreciation of earthly comfort, there should be more gladness in our heart than men of the world have in the time that their corn and their wine and their oil abound. God, in Christ, is more to us than corn, or wine, or oil; ay, more than the dearest earthly friend, and One who will never fail us; and therefore we may alway rejoice.
IV. DUTY OF FORBEARANCE .
1 . S tated. "Let your forbearance be known unto all men." Forbearance is reasonableness (to which the derivation points) on its gentle side. It is the opposite of rigorism. It is "considerateness for others, not urging one's own rights to the uttermost, but waiving a part, and thereby rectifying the injustice of justice. The archetype of this grace is God, who presses not the strictness of his Law against us, as we deserve, though having exacted fullest payment for us from our Divine Surety." It was a grace especially to be "known" unto their persecutors. It was a grace to be "known" unto the worst offenders. As inseparable from them, it was to be "known" unto all men; i.e. in all their dealings with men.
2 . Enforced. "The Lord is at hand." Rigorism "would be taking into our own hands prematurely the prerogative of judging, which belongs to the Lord alone; and so provoking God to judge us by the strict letter of the Law." Let us think kindly of men, even of the worst of men, as those who are still under trial, and who, by our forbearance, may be won over to the Lord's side. And, as judgment lingereth not, let us fully embrace the opportunity.
V. MEANS TO BE USED AGAINST ANXIETY .
1 . The evil to be avoided. "In nothing be anxious." "Nothing" has the emphasis. To not one thing is our anxiety to extend. Anxiety is harassing care, very different from the providential care of God. We cannot help having cares in the world—cares about getting a livelihood, cares about health, cares about higher matters, cares about those who are near and dear to us, and cares, beyond our immediate circle, for men generally and for the Church. But, though we cannot help having cares in this world, we are not to be harassed by cares, as though we had to bear them ourselves.
2 . Means to be used against the evil. "But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Over against the "nothing" of anxiety is the "everything" by prayer. Every part of our life is to be connected with prayer. There is nothing too small to be connected with prayer. Specially on every occasion of care are we to pray. And, while we pray generally, we are to make our prayer turn upon our special need. We are to supplicate to be relieved from care, or to be strengthened under care. And while we thus supplicate for relief or strengthening, we are to be thankful for our freedom from other cares, for the number of our mercies, for the special mercy that is mingled with our care. In our supplication we are to have special petitions which we are to make known unto God. For though known unto God are all our wants, yet it is good for the work of communion, for the exercise of faith and of other graces, that we should make our wants known in the proper quarter. If we have cares, what more natural than that we should go with them to him from whom they have come as their First Cause? That must be more satisfactory than going to an intermediate cause or burdening ourselves with them. We can feel assured of his thoroughly understanding our case, of his power to help as having inexhaustible resources at his command, and of his being invested, not with a mere earthly greatness such as might repulse us, but with a greatness which is fitted to be a home and a shelter to us. He will not cover himself with clouds, so that our prayer shall not pass through. He will not turn away our prayer nor his mercy from us.
3 . Blessed results of using the means. "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus." This is the peace of God, i.e. of which God is the source and origin. It is not the peace of unfallen beings, but the peace of those who have been sinners and are now reconciled, the sweet sense of sin forgiven, the blessed feeling that the condemnation which was resting upon us is now removed. More than that, it is, in its essence, a holy tranquillity, that comes from resting in God, such a tranquillity as fills the mind in God. It is a peace which passeth all understanding, which has a mysterious, unspeakable sweetness about it, so that he who has once felt what it is would never like to lose it. This peace is to guard our hearts and our thoughts, is to be stationed as a strong guard, so that no disturbing influence shall pass through to the center of our being or into the workings of our mind. So effectually is anxiety to be excluded. Our wisdom, then, is to seek repose by prayer. "If your mind be overcharged or overwhelmed with trouble and anxiety, go into the presence of God. Spread your case before him. Though he knows the desires of your heart, yet he has declared he will be sought after; he will be inquired of to do it for you. Go, therefore, into the presence of that God who will at once tranquillize your spirit, give you what you wish or make you more happy without it, and who will be your everlasting Consolation, if you trust in him. He will breathe peace into your soul, and command tranquillity in the midst of the greatest storms."—R.F.
"Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow-laborers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." These words suggest to us certain ideas concerning genuine Churchism. Churchism, of course, implies a Church or Churches, i.e. community or communities of men. Here in England we have what is called the Church, which its ministers seemed delighted to call " our Church." Here also we have Churches which sectarian leaders somewhat arrogantly call " our Churches. " Such Churches are too frequently assemblages of men characterized often by ignorance, exclusiveness, and intolerance. Now, neither in " our Church" nor " our Churches" do we always find genuine Churchism. But the text suggests certain things essential to genuine Churchism. It suggests—
I. How the members should be esteemed by their TRUE PASTOR . They should have the deep tender love and strongest and devoutest wishes of the pastor. "Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved." What an accumulation of strong epithets of affection are here! "Longed for;" yearned after. "My joy;" that is, the source of my joy; his chief interest was in them. "And crown;" by this is meant that he gloried in them, he prided himself in them. Then follows his ardent desires for their highest good. That they should "stand fast in the Lord," that they should be "of the same mind in the Lord," that they should help one another, etc. An affection of this kind implies the existence of two things.
1 . The existence in the pastor of a loving nature. There are men who claim to be pastors of conventional Churches, not always blest with the most amiable natures; they are irascible, splenetic, etc., belonging to the generation elsewhere called the "children of wrath"—that is, their nature is more or less malign. You have only to hear the querulous tones of their voice and the ideas they express in their discourses to feel this. Their ideas are more like yelping curs scratching the earth than singing birds soaring into sunshine. They irritate their audience.
2 . The existence of a lovable character in their disciples. The audience must have a loving nature; for if the pastor, however lovable himself, is amongst people of a morally unlovable character, how can he feel affectionately towards them? Genuine Churchism, then, implies a spiritually loving pastor and a morally lovable charge.
II. How the members should act in relation to THEMSELVES . Three things are indicated here.
1 . Moral firmness. "Stand fast in the Lord." Moral firmness implies not only deeply rooted convictions, but a strongly settled love. Moral firmness is as opposed to obstinacy as to vacillation. It is a state of mind settled in its chief faiths and loves; it is " rooted and grounded in the faith." Where there is not moral firmness in the members of Churches there is no genuine Churchism. Genuine Churchism implies moral manhood of the highest type.
2 . Spiritual unity. "I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord." These names in all likelihood represent women. Paul had many women belonging to his charge, and who co-operated with him in his work. in the long list of greetings to the Church at Rome ( Romans 16:1-27 .) we have the names Priscilla, Phoebe, Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, etc. It is not improbable that the two women mentioned here, Euodias and Syntyche, had fallen out, as is not very uncommon with the sex. The apostle's request is that they should be reunited, that they should be harmonious in sentiment, affection, and aim. Unity is essential to genuine Churchism; all must be one.
3 . Religious happiness. "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." Be happy in your religion. Happiness is an essential element in genuine religion. "I am come that ye might have life [happiness], and that ye might have it more abundantly." Christly men are filled with all "joy and peace in believing." Happiness is not only a privilege of the disciples of Christ, but a duty. It would seem that it is as wrong for the disciple of Christ to be unhappy as for him to break any of the ten commandments; for the command to rejoice is founded on the same authority as "Thou shalt not steal." A community that is sad and gloomy is destitute of genuine Churchism.
III. How the members should act in relation to EACH OTHER .
1 . They should exercise mutual helpfulness. "I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also." Who the "true yokefellow" was, whether Luke, or Lydia, or Epaphroditus, no one knows. It matters not. It was some one who was well known to be a co-worker with Paul, and he asks, on behalf of the women who labored with him and others, for co-operation. Genuine Churchism implies mutual co-operation: "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the Law of Christ."
2 . They should exercise social forbearance. "Let your moderation [forbearance] be known unto all men." In most social circles there is much to try men's patience one with another. All are more or less imperfect; hence the need of forbearance, magnanimous self-control. Pray ever for our enemies; do good to them that spitefully use us.
IV. How the members are connected with THE EMPIRE OF CHRIST . "Whose names are in the book of life." (For the "book of life," see Daniel 12:1 ; Revelation 2:5 ; Revelation 13:8 ; Revelation 17:8 ; Revelation 20:12 ; Revelation 21:27 .) From that book the name may be blotted out now ( Revelation 2:5 ; Exodus 32:33 ) till the end fixes it for ever. There is a peculiar beauty in the allusion here. The apostle does not mention his fellow-laborers by name; but it matters not—the names are written before God, in the book of life. If they continue in his service those names shall shine out hereafter when the great names of the earth fade into nothingness. The names of all the citizens in a city have a registration; so metaphorically the names of all the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem are duly enrolled. God registers the names in this book. He omits none who are entitled to it, makes no mistake in the record. The " hook of life." Ah, what names are there! How illustrious , how multitudinous , how increasing ! Genuine Churchism implies the registration of names in this "book."
V. How the members should act in relation to the GREAT GOD . "Be careful for nothing [in nothing be anxious]; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."
1 . All-confiding. "Be careful for nothing." "Take no anxious thought for the morrow." Unbounded confidence in the paternal government that is over all.
2 . Ever prayerful "In everything by prayer." Prayer is not words, it is a life; not a service, it is a spirit. "Pray without ceasing." An abiding, practical realization of dependence on God is prayer, and this should be constant as life—the very breath of the soul.
3 . Always thankful. "With thanksgiving." Being the recipients of mercies, unmerited, priceless, and ever increasing every minute, the spirit of thanksgiving should throb with every beating pulse.
Conclusion: Brothers, have you genuine Churchism? Talk not to me about your Churches. You must have genuine Churchism in order to be identified with the "Church of the Firstborn written in heaven."—D.T.
I. THE POSSIBILITY OF IT . The command to rejoice always appears to be one which it is impossible that we should obey. This impossibility vanishes when we remember that we are to rejoice "in the Lord." Note the frequency of this expression in this Epistle. St. Paul profoundly realizes that the Christian soul is living in a sphere not recognizable by the outward senses, but which is ever present to the eye of faith. If we are living in the Lord we can always rejoice, because in him all things work together for good, and even our sorrows he turns into joy.
II. THE METHOD OF IT . By letting our forbearance be known unto all men. He who is living in the Lord is always rejoicing, not with the joy which triumphs over the sorrows of others, but with the self-restrained joy which recognizes that, being yet in travail, we must yet have sorrow mingled with our joy. This sense of self-restraint is the truest preventive of dissension and dispute.
III. THE REASON FOR IT . "The Lord is at hand." He is ever ready to appear visibly in our midst, and for this appearing we are constantly to watch. How can we be doing so unless we are rejoicing in him, and rejoicing in him with gentle forbearance towards our fellow-Christians? He is, indeed, always at hand, even if he yet appear not in visible form; for where two or three are gathered together in his Name he is in the midst of them. Is not this a reason for joy and for forbearance?—V.W.H.